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

Norwegian Adventure

Azamara Journey Cruise Review by naplessailor

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jun 2017
  • Destination: the Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Club Veranda Stateroom

A year ago, while sailing on the Azamara Journey, Captain Johannes stopped by my table in the coffee bar and seeing the future cruise brochure laid out on the table, he asked if I had any questions about places of interest. After expressing an interest in Scandinavia, he began telling me about his homeland and the unique opportunities available for passengers on the Journey when sailing in his homeland of Norway. Tales of stopping for fresh cheeses in his favorite village, chances for the crew to catch fresh fish in his favorite fishing spot, fresh strawberries from his friend’s farm to be served with waffles on deck, the Troll Fjord that is barely wide enough to allow the ship safe passage and room to turn around and come back out and sailing under a low hanging bridge with only inches to spare. Certainly sounded intriguing and worthy of investigation. I booked the following day and I have to say that everything the Captain had talked about was true and even more wonderful than he had told us.

From the moment I arrived in Hamburg even though I was tired after travelling all night from Miami, this trip seemed to be a dream come true. We booked a room at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski which was the original hotel where cruise passengers stayed before starting their transatlantic voyages in the early part of the century. A very elegant hotel situated on a lake and within easy walking distance of several wonderful restaurants and picturesque walking and shopping areas. It was easy to get around without the need of a cab. On embarkation day, it was a simple cab ride to the pier.

As with most Azamara cruises, embarkation was a breeze. The size of the ship and Azamara’s organization make this process easy for all. Even a malfunctioning x-ray machine in the port hardly slowed down the process. Soon we were under way and the Captain made it known that he was proud of his country and provided periodic commentary to all about the areas we were passing by or things of interest that would happen along the way. It was a personal touch that is not found on many cruise ships in this day and age.

Cabin 6073 was well appointed and well maintained. The cabin steward and assistant were always available and never failed to greet or inquire if there was something I needed. The cabin was extremely quiet and I never heard a noise from any of my neighbors during the entire cruise. This is important when you are travelling to the land of the midnight sun as sleep patterns get disrupted by the constant sunlight and a noisy cabin would be a drawback.

Dining on the Journey as always was superb. We wanted to try a specialty restaurant but every menu in Discoveries Restaurant looked so enticing that I did not want to miss out, but we finally decided to go to Aqualina for dinner. I had the Dover Sole and it was absolutely perfect. Something not to be missed. I ended up going twice to Aqualina and was never disappointed.

Most of the ports we visited were small and therefore were not big shopping ports. A few small souvenir shops and looks of picturesque views within easy walking distance of the pier/tender area. If you are looking for major shopping this is not the cruise for you. If you want beautiful scenery, fresh air and friendly interactions with the locals, this is your cruise. Stavanger in particular is a wonderful city with an historic area near the pier that is ideal to walk around and take pictures. I also tried a bike tour in this area as part of Azmara’s new “Bike Local” program which was wonderful. A fairly flat opportunity to get out in the countryside with a guide on bikes that Azamara carries on board. Not your typical excursion on a tour bus and well worth the effort. In Honnigsvag, we tried the King Crab safari which included a fast paced ride on a RIB boat to a fjord to pull up crab pots, take the catch back to a local island where the harvest was cleaned, prepared and cooked over an open fire before we stuffed ourselves with the best tasting crab ever. The tour guides were very entertaining and shared many stories of living in this remote part of the world with reindeer running all over the island. A definite must do. In Olden we did another food adventure where we rode a RIB boat through picturesque waters with a local captain to pull up crayfish (actually small lobster size salt water crayfish) that were cooked and eaten dock side after returning to the pier. Another must do tour. In all ports, the local guides were extremely knowledgeable, friendly and interested in making your visit to Norway a special adventure. All of our tours were booked through Azamara and well worth the price.

Entertainment on the ship was excellent. The AZamazing evening was held in Bergen as a recital at Greig Hall and was superb. In past years this event was held on the pier in the evening which in Norway can be quite cold at this time of year so the decision to move the recital inside to the local Opera house was a good choice. The production shows were excellent and while they are not as sensational as some of the shows on the large mega ships, they are well done and entertaining. The local talent that was booked was also wonderful with a fantastic show by Kim Purling, a magician, a comic and several talented musicians and singers. Never missed a show all cruise.

The team on the Azamara Journey were all exceptional and lead by Captain Johannes, Cruise Director Eric and Hotel Director Hieke. They made the entire trip more enjoyable and the team spirit at the top filters down throughout the ship. The Chef Iwan was very personable and was often allowed to go into port to purchase local fare to complement the usual offerings on board. This touch made the menus have a local feel and much more personable than most cruise ships today.

After this wonderful cruise my traveling companion and I decided that once was not enough, so we rebooked this same voyage, with a few different ports and two extra days, for 2019. I guess that sums up my thoughts on this adventure. In my 31 cruises in my life time on various cruise lines, I have never felt compelled to rebook a cruise for a second try. I simply could not get enough of the experiences available to passengers on the Azamara Journey in the Captain’s homeland. I cannot wait to go back.


naplessailor's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Club Veranda Stateroom
Cabin V2 6073

Cabin 6073 was well appointed and well maintained. The cabin steward and assistant were always available and never failed to greet or inquire if there was something I needed. The cabin was extremely quiet and I never heard a noise from any of my neighbors during the entire cruise. This is important when you are travelling to the land of the midnight sun as sleep patterns get disrupted by the constant sunlight and a noisy cabin would be a drawback.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Hamburg

This was a wonderful city to begin a cruise. Very picturesque with great shopping and lots to see.

City Tour

An excellent introduction to Norway. The guise was very informative and gave a lot of background to Norway. The weather was not ideal due to rain, but it was still a good overview of the area.

View All 136 City Tour Reviews

We took an 8 hour tour that included the Flam railway, the Bergen Railway to Voss and then continued by bus to Tvinde and Stalheim where we rejoined the ship as it had sailed from Flam while we were traveling. This is definitely worth the extra price as compared to the Flam railway. On this tour you get to enjoy much more countryside and stop at waterfalls and scenic overlooks for pictures. There is plenty of time in Voss to look around the town and find a few souvenirs. The lunch was at a local restaurant in Voss and was superb featuring local seafood, cheeses, breads and meat. You will not go back to the ship hungry.

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If you are in to adventure, this is the tour for you. A bus takes you to the top of the mountain where you are fitted to a bike and then you follow your local guide down the steep mountain roads with hairpin turns. The guide keeps you safe as long as you are comfortable on a bike and tells you where to stop for the most scenic overlooks. The tour ends up back in town adjacent to the pier with opportunities to shop before catching the tender back.

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Tromso

We elected to walk around the city which is larger than most of the ports we visited. We found a small local restaurant named Emma's where we enjoyed a lunch of King Crab and fresh bread with mayonnaise that was superb and very close to the pier. They recommended a local beer that was fantastic to wash down the crab. A place to visit again.

Olden

We went on a shore excursion through the ship called Crayfish on Nordfjord. This included an exhilarating ride on a RIB boat through the fjord where we pulled up pots with fresh salt water crayfish. The captain stopped every so often to give us history of the area and show us interesting features along the way. Upon returning to the pier adjacent to the ship, we cooked the crab while enjoying glasses of wine. Once the crayfish were cooked we went into a local restaurant where we enjoyed our bounty. This was a fabulous tour and the crayfish were succulent and delicious. After the tour we enjoyed walking around the scenic town.

Bike Tour

This is a fantastic opportunity to see the local countryside and see typical daily life in Norway. The local guide was extremely knowledgeable of the area and took us to places that most passengers did not go. This was a fairly flat bike tour although there were some slight grades along the way. Best to be comfortable riding a bike and be a bit fit for the 22KM ride. Would highly recommend this tour.

View All 1 Bike Tour Reviews
Honningsvag (North Cape)

We chose the King Crab Safari through the ship which was fantastic. The tour starts with a RIB boat ride through the harbor and down a fjord where you stop tp pull up some crab pots full of local King Crab. After securing the feast you jet off to a small island where the crab is cleaned and cooked over a wood fire in an indigenous Sami hut. While the crab is cooking you are free to roam around and look at the herds to reindeer grazing in the nearby fields and talk to the guides who tell you stories of what it is like to live in these remote parts of Norway. It was a fascinating tour that is not to be missed. The crab was delicious and everyone left stuffed.


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naplessailor
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