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Azamara Journey Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
829 Reviews

From the Baltic to the Med

Azamara Journey Cruise Review by Literary Lynne

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Aug 2009
  • Destination: the Western Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: undefined

Our wonderful cruise began with a short flight from Heathrow to Copenhagen, followed by a very easy and inexpensive 12 minute train journey to Copenhagen Central Station then an expensive taxi ride to Frihaven where the Journey was berthed. We arrived around 12noon and although the seemingly local staff were well intentioned, they didn't seem to know what they were doing. They got us to fill in forms about whether we had recently been ill or not and then asked us to sit in groups for a while. Eventually they called us to join a long queue to check in, even though we are Elite CC members and there was a separate check-in, they still directed us to the long queue! Anyway, it still only took about 20 minutes in total and we were soon welcomed on board with a glass of pink fizz.
Once on board, we were invited to leave our carry-ons for transporting to our room, before going up to the Windows Cafe for a delicious lunch. Our room was ready at 1.30pm and it was perfect. We had a 2A balcony cabin (room 6017). It was a good size, lots of storage space, a fridge that was actually cold, binoculars and umbrella to use, slippers and tote bag to keep. Everything was good quality - lovely thick bathrobes, constantly changed luxurious towels, great bed linen, comfortable bed. The bathroom is small, but functional, with constant hot water at all times. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap are all Elemis products. No shower gel is provided. The interactive tv worked very well and it was good to be able to see and check our on-board account growing rapidly day by day!
We met our butler, Croox, who was really helpful, and immediately brought me a thin pillow, 40 extra coathangers and two wine glasses. You are permitted to bring on 2 bottles of wine at the beginning of the cruise but no more during it, unless you are happy for it to be confiscated until your departure. This seems a bit unfair as the cruise called at Bordeaux and offered excursions to various vineyards. I know this is a topic that has often been discussed on the boards, and I really think that they should allow one bottle of wine to be brought on board at each port of call. Okay, if you take it to the dining room, you can still pay the 25$ corkage fee. I don't think it would detract from bar sales on board either. We brought on our two bottles on arrival and we would have a glass with our evening canapEs on the balcony, but we still had cocktails before dinner, wine every night with dinner, and drinks in the bars following that.
As 6017 is above the Cabaret lounge, we did experience some bass sounds from musicians practicing during the first afternoon on board. We thought we would have to ask to be moved but, fortunately, never experienced any problems after that. During performances we were always at dinner during the early evening show, around 8.15pm, and either enjoying the 10.15pm performance in the Cabaret lounge or would be doing something elsewhere on board. Everything was quiet by 11pm, so we never had to move. The ship is immaculately maintained, the food in all the restaurants is exquisite and the staff is Azamara's biggest asset. Their sole purpose in life on board seems to be to ensure that everything is as perfect as it can be for the guests. Nothing is too much trouble. We sailed on Journey 10 months ago and felt that it was the happiest ship we had ever sailed on and we would still say the same now. It was good to catch staff off-guard, chatting and joking with each other, so I really don't think the good humour was staged for the guests. We were staggered that some members of staff recognized us and even remembered our names from 10 months previously. How on earth do they do that? I'm sure we weren't that memorable, or troublesome! Entertainment and activities on board were very good. The guest artists were excellent, but the resident singers seemed to be somewhat immature, although most of them had fine voices. I understand this particular group was about to leave the ship. The Cruise Director, Tony Markey and Kelsey, the Activities Officer, did a brilliant job. There's plenty going on - something for everyone. No-one cajoles you to join in and there are no embarrassing, cringe-worthy games, but some excellent quizzes, cookery demonstrations, wine tastings and mixology sessions were held. We had a sea day between every port day during our 14 day cruise, and it was often difficult trying to fit in everything that we wanted to do and would often find we had missed something. The library on board is one of the best I've ever seen at sea and a beautiful place to chill. The enrichment lectures were really good. Most were loosely based on the ports of call but focused on history, wine, music, the arts etc and for once, not on shopping! In fact, there is no hard sell on anything on the Journey, which is an absolute plus for me. You really are treated as a guest not a cash cow. The ship was just about full and on some days there was a little difficulty in finding a sun bed around the pool /whirlpools but there is always the upper deck, 10. Pool service was good, with the staff constantly removing towels from the beds. Each afternoon they would come round with some little delicacy - sherbet and nuts or fruits, for example. There is no pressure to buy drinks and the pool staff will just as happily bring you a free coffee or juice as they will bring you a beer.
Talking about coffee - there are some great self service coffee machines that grind the beans as you wait but others where it is obviously instant stuff - get to know which ones are which and you won't be one of those who complains about the coffee! Room service coffee is just the same - sometimes it was obviously freshly ground and other times instant.
Food on board is delectable. Room service food always arrived on time and hot, with a phone call to let you know it was on its way. Discoveries, the main dining room is open for breakfast, lunch on some days, and dinner. We always ate around 8.30pm or later and never waited more than 3-4 minutes for a table, either for two or to share with others, if we chose. The food in Aqualina, one of the two speciality restaurants, is exquisite. The seafood platter is outstanding. It is served on a bed of crushed ice and contained half a lobster, green lipped mussels, snow crab, langoustines, clams etc. There is an excellent wine list too - different lists in different restaurants. You can always choose to have dinner in Breezas, which during the daytime is the Windows cafe. The quality of food is still excellent but the room could be made to look a little more inviting in the evening, perhaps by putting on tablecloths. The only noticeable change was a tea light on the table. One morning we were too late for the whole range of breakfast fare (it being past 10am) and my husband just commented to one of the waiters that we had missed it, but we would be happy with a late continental breakfast (available until 11am). "No problem, what would you like?" he was asked. His cooked breakfast was then promptly delivered to him. Just one example of the brilliant service on board. The afternoon canapEs, delivered to your stateroom, are also on a par - delicious little morsels.
Those from our CC Roll Call met after muster drill on the first afternoon and quickly formed friendships. It was a great idea of Gary's to ask us to introduce ourselves and there was some hilarity when we had to give out the stupid names by which we are known on CC!
On this 14 day repositioning cruise we sailed from the Baltic, across the North Sea, into the English Channel, out into the Bay of Biscay, around the Atlantic coast, before sailing into the Med. Each port day was followed by a sea day which provided a good opportunity to relax between exploring each new port of call.
Our journey on 30 August began in Copenhagen, which was cooler than London but there was no need for anything more than a lightweight jacket. We left Copenhagen and sailed through the Kiel Canal, with people waving all the way. The Captain has one of those huge wavy hands that he responded with. He tooted the ship's hooter as people lining the canal called a welcome over their tannoys. It was great fun.
In Amsterdam, the ship berths very close to the town centre and so it is an easy walk into town. We visited Anne Frank's house and had a canal ride, walking for around 5 hours before returning to the ship. We have visited Amsterdam a number of times and can recommend the Botanical Gardens. We have been wanting to visit the Maritime Museum for the past two or three years but restoration is taking much longer than expected. The next stop was in Rouen. It is a very interesting place and, of course, there is much to see in relation to Joan of Arc. As we had previously visited Rouen, this time we went to the Musee de Beaux Arts and Flaubert's House/the Musee de Medicine which also has a lovely physic garden. All my adult life I had wanted to visit La Rochelle and loved this beautiful little port with its ancient towers guarding the harbour. The harbour front was packed with fish restaurants and there was a complete street full of wonderful ice-cream shops. We spent an enjoyable hour or so visiting the Museum of Protestantism. The local brass band was on the harbour side when we arrived, they stayed there singing and playing all day long and only left when the ship did. I think we all knew their songs by the time we left, but it was so lovely and as we pulled away there were many towels, napkins etc to be seen waving to them from those on board.
In Bordeaux the ship pulled right up to the quayside in the centre of town. What a beautiful city it is and I see that next year the ship stays in Bordeaux overnight. We went to the Zoo and just walked around, enjoying the parks, waterfalls, chocolatiers etc. The weather was lovely and warm and the sun was shining at last.
In Vigo we took a ship's excursion to Santiago de Compostela. This was a great day out visiting the place where the relics of St James and his two disciples are contained. We saw pilgrims walking towards this ancient town and the cathedral was packed solid for the 12 o'clock mass. I think we were slightly shortchanged as our guide kept hurrying us on and telling us that time was short when, in fact, we were back on board an hour before we should have been. Next was Gibraltar. As it was their national day, the whole place was packed solid with tiny tots to great grandparents decked out in red and white. We enjoyed being a part of it all, though some of the young people did begin to look slightly worse for wear by mid afternoon.
Our last port of call was Palma, Majorca. It was so hot walking along the waterfront but then we spotted a hop-on-hop-off bus and enjoyed a two hour tour of the city, all around the cathedral, shops, up to the old village, the castle etc, before heading back to the ship for a dip in the pool.
Disembarking in Barcelona was so easy. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and waited for our 'colour' to be called and we boarded a coach for a tour of the city before being deposited at the airport for our short flight back to the UK.
This was our second cruise on Azamara Journey and it was just as great as our first. If you are looking for a wonderful quality cruise where interesting itineraries, fantastic food, great lectures and a guest orientated staff are high priorities, I recommend Azamara.


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Cabin Review

Cabin 2A 6017

6017 is near the front of the ship, so you could hear the anchor dropping, but otherwise fine. As it was above the Cabaret lounge, I guess it might be noisy if you spend time in your cabin between 8.15pm and 10.30pm when performances are taking place. We were never in our cabin between those times.

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