SUMMARY: It is very easy to recommend Azamara as their exceptionally attentive service will make any cruise a very pleasant experience. Their prices may be higher than RCCL, Celebrity, or Princess but the extra cost will be forgotten once you've enjoyed their exceptional service.
People may ask how Azamara compares to Oceania. While both are Premium “Smaller Ship” Cruise lines, our choice would be Azamara given similar itineraries.
HITS & OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
• Service on the Azamara Journey was exceptional throughout our cruise. George, our cabin attendant was very efficient as well as being very friendly. Our servers in the Main Dining Cabin (JR & Oliver) were also excellent.
• The Captain was very visible and cordial. The cruise director was very personable plus was a featured entertainer in several shows.
• The shows were all excellent an unrecognized value of any cruise. Live Entertainment was much better than might be expected for a small ship. The ship's band/orchestra was excellent and the on deck band was equally entertaining. The Cabaret Lounge had ample comfortable seating.
• Living Room was our favorite place on the ship to hang out and relax or read. It is quiet, had ample comfortable chairs and couches. There is also a bar with finger foods in the afternoon.
• Azamara’s complementary self serve laundry was very useful and convenient.
• Embarkation and Disembarkation were both very quick & easy. This is understandable since there were less than 700 people to process.
AREAS WHERE IMPROVEMENTS ARE NEEDED
• Service in the Patio Café was not as attentive as in the Discovery Dining Cabin or the Windows Cafe.
• The cabin had a curved large chair / very small love seat that. It was too small for 2 people and the curved shape was a poor use of space in the cabin
• TV was disappointing because the content was quite limited. Pay movies were very overpriced at $11.95.
• The refrigerator cabinet in the cabin needs venting in order to work efficiently. We had to keep the cabinet door open in order for the refrigerator to get cold. It would be better to simply remove the door to allow adequate airflow that allows the refrigerator to work properly than keeping the door open which was a tripping hazard.
• Internet was $19.95 for 60 minutes or $24.95 per day. Logging on or off was same as other cruise lines which many guests found to be confusing and lost their precious few minutes as a result of not completing the process properly. Fortunately, Adriana at the Reception Desk understood this issue and cheerfully restored the forfeited minutes.
Day 1 - EMBARKATION: Azamara check in was very fast because Azamara's Check In process was very quick and easy because we has pre registered our personal information and we arrived about 11:45 (which was well ahead of the crowd) Lunch was at the buffet with the usual first day confusion. Our baggage arrived just after we had walked around the ship exploring. The mandatory life boat drill to explain the safety procedures was held soon after sail away activities. Our first dinner onboard was excellent with very attentive service.
Day 2 - AT SEA: We explored the ship. The weather was warm so many people were in the pool area. The Azamara Journey is not a large ship. We got more familiar with the public areas of the ship. These are named "Living Room, Cabaret Lounge, Den, Patio, etc. The Living Room was our favorite place to sit, view the ocean, read, and relax. They have a small band in the evenings.
DAY 3 - LABADEE: The weather could not have been better. A few clouds and 80 degrees. I had pre booked a Kayak Tour of the bay. It was OK but nothing more than a guided Kayak Rental. I also had a nice lunch at the Labadee cafe and a great nap on a nearby beach lounge chair after the excursion. My wife has booked a harbor cruise tour. Regrettably, she felt unwell and did not go on her excursion.
DAY 4 - AT SEA This was our second (and final ) at sea day. More rest and relaxation.
The evening’s entertainment was fantastic. The 8:00 show featured pianist Peter Rossetti playing a fine rendition of Billy Joel and Elton John hits. The 9 15 show featured the Cruise Director, Eric who sang a medley of Broadway show songs. His voice is equal to Josh Grobin's! We then stayed up well past midnight chatting with new friends.
DAY 5 – St Barts This is a small island just over 8 square miles in area. It is too small for many cruise ships so it remains relatively unspoiled. (Pictures attached) The Sea Dream Yacht Club (Sea Dream 2) was the only other small cruise ship in harbor. The weather was typical for the Caribbean during November, mid 80s with partly cloudy skies. I thought it was quite pleasant but it was a bit humid for My wife. We hadn't booked any shore excursions for this island because we didn't see anything that interested us. Since we had a very late night, we took the morning slow by relaxing on the veranda enjoying the view and catching up on this trip report. My wife did a load of laundry in the complementary self service laundry too.
Later in the day, we took the ship's tender into the town of Gustavia. The town was named after the king of Sweden during the 1600s when St Barts was controlled by Sweden. The Swedish government gave St Barts back to France in exchange for some French territory during the late 1700s.
DAY 6 - St Maarten Beautiful weather. My wife really enjoyed her island tour that visited the Dutch and French sides of the island. Her tour traveled to parts of St Maartin that had not been rebuilt after the devastating 2018 hurricane. She recommends this tour.
I booked the Catamaran sail with snorkeling and beach excursion. The boat was well staffed with a friendly, attentive, and compete crew. The snorkeling stop was not the most interesting in the world but still adequate. The beach stop was enjoyable. One unexpected treat was a short stop at the St Maartin airport right under the famous low altitude airplane landing approach. (Picture attached) I would recommend this excursion for people looking for an active activity.
Caribbean Nights show was onboard (in place of Azamara’s Azamazing Evening) was a good effort but not really to our liking.
Day 8 St Kitts We booked the St. Kitts Scenic Railway excursion. This Narrow Gage train was built nearly a century ago to transport sugar cane from the fields to the sugar mill in Basseterre. We really enjoyed our trip in double deck rail cars that gave us a panoramic journey that circled the entire island of St Kitts. (Picture attached).
DAY 8 St Johns Antigua Paraphrasing my Father in Law, "It's another beautiful day in the Caribbean" as Antigua is a beautiful island. My wife enjoyed her city tour of St John. I had booked a more active tour Hiking, snorkeling and kayak excursion that was located on an outer island in St John Bay. Needless to say, I was exhausted after my tour. We can recommend either tour depending on your desired activity level.
The evening’s entertainment was the Cruise Director singing Broadway songs. He is a great entertainer.
Day 9 Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands We didn’t see any excursions that we were interested in so we spent the day relaxing and the afternoon repacking our bags for the 11 PM Luggage pick-up.
Day 10 DISEMBARKATION San Juan Puerto Rico: Azamara’s disembarkation process is similar to most other cruise lines, (instructions and luggage tags issued the night before with Luggage in the hall by 11). The main difference is that there were smaller groups of guests in the customs hall so we were able to find our luggage in under a minute. The Customs & Immigration officers in San Juan were very quick and efficient so we were through their process in under 5 minutes. We completed the entire process well before 9 am.
We had booked a San Juan city tour with airport drop off. The 3-hour tour covered the "Old town" as well as "New Town" San Juan. Our driver/guide was very interesting and informative so it is easy to recommend this tour as a way to see the city sights before a late afternoon flight. Earlier flights (not recommended any earlier than 11am) should go directly to the airport which is a 30 minutes ride from the San Juan Cruise Terminal.
Our cabin was in the Port side Aft area of the ship. Standard Club Veranda appeared smaller than other cruise lines but was adequate for our needs. Our cabin was configured with two beds that were converted to one queen-size bed. There was a curved large chair / very small love seat that was a poor use of space in the cabin. The balcony had 2 comfortable chairs with a good sized table. Walls were metal so the magnetic hooks we brought worked great. There was adequate closet space with more than enough hangers in the closets. and drawer storage for our clothes and other cruise accessories. Our luggage fit easily under the bed. Two bathrobes were in the closet as well as an umbrella. TVs have some international stations, a pay movie channel and an interactive menu through which you can learn about shore excursions, view your onboard balance and browse the day's dining cabin menu. Ample electrical outlets (2 North American 115v and 2 European recessed 230v) in the desk/dressing vanity. There were also USB outlets in the base of the 2 light fixtures on either side of the bed. There is a reasonably sized safe in the cabin to protect your valuables. The Air conditioning worked flawlessly during our 9 days/nights in the cabin.
The bathroom is not any bigger than the bathroom in our travel trailer. Shower was small but hot water was plentiful. There were two small shelves and storage under the sink for our toiletries.
Not much more than an escorted Kayak rental.View All 31 Kayaking Reviews
The boat was well staffed with a friendly, attentive, and compete crew. The snorkeling stop was not the most interesting in the world but still adequate. The beach stop was enjoyable. One unexpected treat was a short stop at the St Maarten airport right under the famous low altitude airplane landing approach. I would recommend this excursion for people looking for an active activity.View All 92 Catamaran Tour Reviews
This was a very active tour Hiking, snorkeling and kayak excursion that was located on an outer island in St John Bay.View All 79 Snorkeling Reviews
We really enjoyed our trip in double deck rail cars that gave us a panoramic journey that circled the entire island of St Kitts.View All 303 Scenic Railway Reviews