Azamara Journey Cruise Review by kdtodd
- Sail Date: November 2016
- Destination: Asia
- Cabin Type: Club Continent Suite
This was a pretty short cruise with several days at sea. The number of ports wasn't bad, 5 (Singapore, Ko Samui, Bangkok, Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) and Hong Kong) and 3 days at sea. We boarded in Singapore and left that evening. There were no issues with embarkation. It was quick and pretty easy since most of the work was done on line before you left. They took your picture, checked your passport and handed out your room cards.
My husband and I had reserved a Club Continental Suite on deck 8, in the middle of the ship. You were greeted on board with champaign and soft drinks and asked not to go to your room until 100pm. So we and the other couple we travelled with strolled around the ship to check out the upgrades. We also checked out the liquor packages which was set up in Mosaic. they had 3 or 4 options to choose from. They were all based on a daily rate and went from a few dollars for a beer package to 18.95 for premium liquor. House wines at lunch and dinner with two whites and two reds at each meal are included for no extra cost. Like most cruises drinks can add up if you don't buy the package. We purchased the premium because, if you have a cocktail before dinner and after dinner, its paid for itself. From there we went about looking for information about the internet. With our package we only got 235 minutes, that goes pretty fast on a ship where its not as fast as on land when your trying to get your emails and put stuff on Facebook. Generally, there is an area in your ports terminal where you can find free wifi but that's a pain most times. All you have to do is look for crew members on their cell phones. If you see a lot of them the wifi's free, just ask. Buying extra minutes is expensive, so we opted to buy a package which covered the entire cruise (unlimited time, one device at a time). It was around $400.00. With that done we headed to the buffet for lunch.
Windows Cafe seemed a little brighter than before and tables were spread about more. I guess they had more tables for two and fewer large tables for groups. You could move tables together for 4 or 6, if needed.The food areas were pretty much as we remembered them from previous cruises. The selection was pretty good. They had something for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans. As the cruise progressed the food selection meals varied daily. If you had dinner there each night they had a theme, Asian, Indian, Med, etc. They also had the wine selections in Windows for lunch and dinner, as well as the other restaurants on the ship. The staff and servers in the buffet were very nice, they got you whatever you wanted if you needed help. They also brought all your beverage selections. Really like the staff on the entire ship. They all were personable and enjoyed talking with the passengers. They all couldn't do enough to make the entire cruise enjoyable.
One thing Azamara is very strict about is clean hands. They have sanitizers at the entrances to each restaurant and eating area. They expect and ask you to use them. They also do this when you board the ship at the gangplank. For the first 24 hours of the cruise they dish out the food in Windows Cafe, you can't serve yourself. After the 24 hour period you can serve yourself. Azamara doesn't want any issues with bacteria and spreading it on their ships and its understandable.
After lunch they announced that the state rooms were available. So we headed to our cabin 8036 to check out the upgrades. The rooms were very nice. They were a lighter color, new carpet, beds, closets (smaller than before), desk area for computer and camera stuff, refrigerator, safe, liquor selection, a couple of chairs and table and a nicely updated bathroom. In the desk they had two USB connections, hidden at the end of the desk on the side near the window. They also had USB connections in the light fixtures on either side of the bed. The USB connections were a nice improvement to hook up your phones, tablets, watches etc. They also had one or two US standard plugs and a European plug. You could hook up all your devices. The room had a hair dryer but the cord was very short and hard to use. The room had robes, slippers, and the standard toiletries. Our room had a tub with a shower in it. We learned later that when the ship was upgraded one side of our floor had walk in showers and no tub and the other side had a tub and shower in it. We also had a butler, Elro. He was like a genie who couldn't do enough for us. Your request was his command. He helped make our restaurant reservations at Prime C and Aqualina. He brought us coffee each morning and made sure we had fresh fruit and ice cubes every day in our room. In the afternoon around 3pm if you were in our room he brought around trays of savories and sweets. If you wanted a cocktail party in your room he would set it up. The room also had an umbrella. The bags didn't make it to the room until around 3pm. We unpacked and put our suitcases under the bed. All set for the next adventure.
We then went topside to watch sail away from Singapore. There were no shore excursions in Singapore, you board and leave. Our friends and us arrived 3 days earlier to adjust to the time difference from the states 14 hours and you lost a day. We explored Singapore on our own and it is a fascinating city. Well worth the time and effort. Loved the experience so many things to see. I would go back for more exploring.
The first night we had dinner in Aqualina one of the signature restaurants on the Journey. We had a table in the back of the restaurant, which was the tail end of the ship all windows, just beautiful. Our waiter was Jason, he made our dinner wonderful. He was very attentive, he went over the menu, helped with our selections, and very personable not stuffy. The other staff were also very attentive. We had a wonderful dinner eating leisurely, wonderful experience. We returned 2 more nights on the voyage. After dinner we went to the Living Room for cocktails. The area had been upgraded in a similar style as the other parts of the ship. The furniture was comfortable scaled down in size somewhat. It had a modern vibe. I liked the room, sitting watching the horizon from the front of the ship. The cocktail on the other hand not so good. It was OK but not what I would expect for the package and the room. We had had a cocktail before dinner in Mosaic and it was much better and by the second night Jason knew us by name and drink. Asked is we would like the usual. Again we keep coming back because of the staff.
Our first day was at sea headed to Ko Samui, Thailand. It was pretty rough day at sea. We slept late. The beds were pretty comfortable. Elro brought us our coffee and we went to the Buffet for breakfast. It was the first time we were able to check out the passengers and it was a pretty diverse group, young, middle and older from all over the world US, England, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Malaysia, etc. They came from all over.
We spent the day relaxing on board. Lynn went to the gym. She was the only one that used it on the cruise. None of us used the Spa. We walked the jogging track on deck 10. Lots of circles to do 10,000 steps, 13 laps to a mile. The pool was always pretty crowded. They had pretty nice deck lounges. They had towels on each of them and the waiters brought you what you wanted to drink. Some lounges were on the sides and had shade. The pool and two hot tubs are not very large, but then the ship only has 670 passengers. The Grill restaurant on the Pool deck was nicely done. They took up more room but they needed to to that. The selections for the pool were good. They needed a better salad selection. They still had the soft serve ice cream machines and Windows Cafe was next door.
The biggest disappointment of the cruise was the food in the Discoveries restaurant (main dining room). We eat there for 3 dinners and they never seemed to get it right. The service and staff was a little spotty. The food itself, well I enjoyed the Quest much more. The room itself didn't change much during the upgrade. Walls and curtains seemed lighter that was it. I could be wrong but on my last cruise on the Quest the house wines changed every day. On this cruise they didn't. I wasn't a big fan of the Discoveries.
Prime C was a much better experience, much like Aqualina. Our first dinner there our waiter was Cherry. Again she was great at her job and the remaining staff very good. The menu was pretty much steaks as you would expect. But they also had fish, lamb and pork. Again they had something for everyone. We eat in Prime C several times. One thing disappointing was parmesan cheese in any of the restaurants - tasted like it came from a green cardboard can...not shaved or graded from a block of parmesan.
They had several tours for Ko Samui. We tendered into port as the ship was anchored offshore on private boats. They had a couple that involved elephants, monkeys, beach and site seeing. We chose to do the highlights of Ko Samui. We went to two Buddhist temples and toured the island. The tour guide was very good and spoke pretty good English. She was very knowledgeable about the island, culture and temples. Toward the end we watched a monkey demonstration of harvesting coconuts. Then they showed us how coconuts were prepared for various products. The most interesting stops were the temples. Getting back to the ship on the tenders was adventurous. The sea was rough and the tenders bouncing all over the place. The one we were on had issues tying up to the Journey so we could get off. It took a long time to get everyone off the boat was bouncing about so bad. Some passengers really had a hard time transferring between the boats. The Journey crew did all they could to make it safe. The tender trip became the most exciting part of this shore excursion.
The trip up to Bangkok was pretty rough. Being in the middle of the ship and on an upper floor helped with the movement. None of us got sick but we heard many passengers were. Arriving Bangkok in the morning we traversed up the Chao Phraya River to Klong Toey were we docked, about 30 to 45 minutes into Bangkok. We took the Grand Palace tour the first day. Again we had a wonderful time and had a great guide. The Palace was packed due to the death of the king in November. There were thousands of people outside the palace and inside waiting for their moment to mourn the dead king. The palace grounds are amazing. The tombs for former Kings were incredible. The walls of the buildings are covered with paintings and murals. The Thai architecture was so interesting. There are several temples to explore also. It was a very hot and sunny day. Having water helped on this walk about. From the Palace we walked to the Chao Phraya River and boarded a motor launch and travelled up the river to a restaurant where we had lunch. It was a nice place with a god selections of Thai and western food selections. From there we joined our motor launch to see the Royal Barges. These are boats used for Royal processions on the river. The kings barge was over 160 feet only and held 50 oarsmen. These boats are still used today for Royal outings. From there we went to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Another beautiful temple 260 feet tall done in small tiles built in the 1800's. The temple and grounds take your breath away, so colorful and peaceful. From here the motor launch took us back to our bus where they took us to a gemstone and handicraft shop. Not worth the stop, then back to the ship. It was a very interesting and eventful day. The shore excursion today was well worth it except for the last stop. In the evening we had another tour (Night cruise with Loi Krathong Ritual). We bussed back to Chao Phraya River where we boarded a traditional wooden barge for our voyage on the river at night. Bangkok at night from the river at night just beautiful. The Royal Palace, skyscrapers, temples, other boats on the river all made the trip magical. On the barge they served cocktails and snacks. During the cruise we preformed the Loi Krathong Ritual, floating decorated baskets off the barge to symbolize releasing the past and accepting the present and flowing with life's abundant offerings of joy. It was a wonderful event to participate in. Our barge docked next to the flower market which we toured on our way to the bus. So colorful and huge. The smells just amazing. It was a full day.
Our second day we toured the Heritage Museum and the Jim Thompson Museum. It was very interesting to see both places in the middle of Bangkok but like oasis's in a very large city. Our guide was well versed and knew her facts and told a nice story. The Heritage Museum built by a member of the Royal family on the grounds where she lived around were the original buildings filled with artifacts. From there we took our bus to the Jim Thompson Museum which was the house and grounds of the man that created the Thai silk industry. Also very interesting to see such a peaceful place in the middle of Bangkok. You tour his home and see his collections. They have a restaurant on site and of course a Jim Thompson Silk Store. I was introduced to his stores on my last trip to Bangkok. Some really nice stuff. We then headed back to the ship and lunch and we departed at 200pm. Once we made it back to open water the sea were extremely rough.
The next day at noon we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The Journey travelled up the Saigon River and docked right in town, so convenient. The first day our tour was Highlights of Ho Chi Minh City. We went to the History Museum and a water puppet show. The museum had some interesting pieces and were divided up by century. It had artifacts from the Bronze age to modern day Vietnam. We drove through Chinatown with its crowded streets and shop houses. Visited the Thien Hau Temple dedicated to the Goddess of Protector of Sailors which dates back to the 18th century. We stopped at the Presidential Palace (Unification Hall as its now called). It was pretty interesting that most the furniture and rooms remain unchanged from the fall of Saigon. The tour went through the basement where the war room was and all the communication systems used back then. The rooms still had the maps on the wall used during the war. From there we went to Notre Dame Cathedral, the main Post Office and city hall and passed the Rex Hotel. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. He talked about the the time since Saigon's liberation. How tough the first ten to fifteen years were. Today we didn't see many bikes in the city but there were lots of cycles and motorbikes. Very few stop lights. It was like travel at your own risk. If you wanted to cross the street you made up your mind and started to walk slowly the traffic gave way to you. From here we made our way back to the ship.The tour was about 4 hours long.
We had to move quickly because the bus was late and in the evening was our AzAmazing Evening in Minh Quoi Village. This was our third AzAmazing Evening and probably the best one. A large sitting area was created under large tent roofs to protect you from rain if it happened. The tables were totally set with table clothes, napkins, silverware, wine glasses and water glasses. Each table had a pretty center piece. There servers took your drink order and kept it coming during the entire event. Snacks were also served. Walking to the sitting area you passed musicians, dancers, greeters, different displays. Everyone was in traditional dress a very colorful event. The entertainment had local Musicians, singers, dancers and a fashion show of tradition dress gone modern. It was a lovely evening and the rain held off. We departed the ship around 645pm and got back around 1100pm.
On day two in Vietnam we took the tour to the Mekong Delta. The drive was about 2 hours with a guide describing the sites along the way. We saw lots of rice fields being tended, small villages and lots of bikes and truck on the highway and roads. When we arrived at the My Tho area we boarded a traditional boat that took us on the Mekong River to an island. On the island we saw many demonstrations about making honey, candy, lacquer boxes and other wooden products. We walked to an area on the island where we got into wooden canoes and went down a canal for a short distance. This brought memories back to me seeing things on TV back during the time of the War in Vietnam. From the canoe ride we walked back to catch our boat back to shore. We stoped at the Mekong Rest Stop Restaurant for lunch on way back to Saigon. The meal was very interesting introducing many of the people we were with to Vietnamese food. We live in Chicago near our second Chinatown. Vietnamese food is one of our favorites. There was fish and pork dishes, sticky rice balls, make your own spring rolls and local beer. The waitresses were all dressed in white traditional dresses very pretty. They gave us over an hour for lunch and it was well worth it. the drive back was slow. It took longer because of heavy traffic. Once we boarded the ship we left for our last stop Hong Kong.
We had two days at sea and it was still pretty rough. One morning we went to Discoveries for breakfast. We wanted to be served and not walk through a buffet line. We enjoyed our meal and service. One complaint was the coffee, it was bad. The coffee Elro brought to our room in the morning was much better. It didn't get any better when they brought additional cups as the meal progressed.
The entertainment on the Journey was OK. We went to a couple shows and really enjoyed the night Eric performed. They did different things each night trying to mix things up a little. We generally eat later and missed the shows. They have a small gambling area but none of us gambled so we didn't venture in. When we arrived in Hong Kong we tied up on the Kowloon side and our hotel was a couple blocks away. We didn't do any Azamara tours here. We stayed another 3 days and did our own thing.
Over all we really like Azamara but I liked the Quest better. I know most of the write ups you see are about the Journey. I don't know if things are changing with the upgrades but the food in the Discoveries was a disappointment. We ate there 3 times and 2 times I did not enjoy what I chose to eat. For me thats hard to do. The wines with lunch and dinner didnt change as often if at all. And please when you serve a Caesar Salad or pasta don't use box parmesan. I can say the coffee in Discoveries was bad at every meal because I didn't have any for dinner. I enjoyed Aquafina and Prime C the food was excellent and the service great. The Windows Cafe was pretty good for a buffet. We enjoyed the tours and our AzAmazing evening. I couldn't give dining an excellent for the reasons above. There were a couple of children on the ship. The ship isn't really children friendly.
Actually we booked another cruise on Azamara for 2018 for the British Open and we have one next year from Athens to Dubai. We look forward to new adventures. We like smaller ships with fewer people and multiple days stays in some ports.
250,000+ people have entered their email
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
River Cruisesailed the Chao Phraya and saw all the expansion in BangkokView All 20 River Cruise Reviews
City Tourfun to see everything we saw on TV during the war. Great experienceView All 94 City Tour Reviews
Mekong Delta Cruiseinteresting to see the countryside and villages. explore a village and take a canoe ride on the Mekong riverView All 25 Mekong Delta Cruise Reviews
Koh SamuiNice tour of the island and stoped to see a couple templesView All 93 Koh Samui Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Koh Samui Cruise Port Review