My Journey on the New Journey: Azamara Journey Cruise Review by SFL
Overall Member Rating
My Journey on the New Journey
Destination: Baltic Sea
Get on ship and Sea Card has me as Elite and wife as Classic. She wanted to know who else I was cruising with. This may be an expensive vacation!!!! Nathalie the Guest relations person, apologized stating it was a home office computer glitch. We are both now Le Discoverer and my marriage is less expensive for now.
For you wine o' philes, house wines today were R Chardonnay and Goodnite Merlot. Both were drinkable. We were given a CC party onboard even though the Miami computer sent out messages stating no party. Met with some officers and all want to see AZ succeed.Thus far, all mis-steps are Miami not ship based. In More speaking to Officers at CC party I was told Pimentel is bringing in a lot of his prior people from his SeaDream and Seaborn days. Also told passenger count is roughly 440 about 25% American, per crew talk.
My room attendants Hilda and Aron are pleasant and anxious to please.Went to spa raffle and SO won acupuncture, SIL(traveling with us) won a conditioning treatment and I won a crock pot treatment(basically cover an overweight passenger in green mud clay attach electrodes and slow baste for 30 minutes, 8 inches shrinkage guaranteed). Met two lovely couples one from Mich. and another from Britain, and a mother traveling with her 2 teenage sons... very nice people.
Dinner food was fine, service was spot on. Mosiac cafe coffee is much improved. The coffee machines in the Buffet are new and work better, but the coffee tastes like instant. The coffee at dinner in the MDR needs improving it is served tepid and not full bodied.
A Sea day, Mattress is hard and lumpy got a mattress topper still no help. Complained to Heike,Hotel director she said the mattress issue is on the AZ checklist, however that does not help me. Wine today is Sternlict Pino and Chardonnay, very drinkable. Thank G-d for the Grill it's still great and lunch buffet also well presented. Also met Thibor and Iwo they are dining staff/room/wine Honchos for the ship, really nice guys we spoke cigars etc nice to mingle and talk as cigar lovers rather than customer guest.
Had a bottle of Bubbly delivered to room as a Le Discoverer member it was a no name brand(Jean Dorsene). At a Le Discoverer wine tasting they served Az private label Bubbly. when I asked at Sr officers party if Az brand cost the same as no name brand they said they were comparable so from a PR standpoint would not giving Le Discoverers Az private label really be a better PR move from the new Luxury cruise line, rather than a no name bottle.. just a thought
Went to Prime C for dinner it was okay but not great maybe because of "Jet Lag", SO's fish was dry and my veal chop was extremely fatty. SIL's filet was excellent. After dinner we went to Mosiac and then featured entertainment in the Cabaret. The feature act was not to our taste he did classical and commentary sort of a Victor Borge type act. Lounge singer at Mosiac was very edgy, he asked for requests and then commented on the passengers selection of a melody.I have been on the Quest before and the lounge singer was Jim Badger who was not demeaning and highly entertaining. The lounge act was no Jim Badger. Seas are getting Rockier..
Capper for the night, met a nice retired couple from Manchester, England today AZ told them they got free upgrade to a sky suite and then backed off and said it was a mistake but they could have another sky suite for $1800 they got upset and declined. Here's the good part they won the penthouse suite at bingo tonite, the lord works in strange ways or as we sometimes say it was beschert(meant to be)
A new day sailing into the fjords at Geiranger was wonderful, a beautiful sight, lush green and chilly with water still streaming down from the mountains to the sea. I think serene would be the best word description. I went on the panoramic tour AND MY SPOUSE AND SIL(SISTER IN LAW) DID A HIKE. MY TOUR WAS WONDERFUL.ONLY DISAPPOINTMENT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WAS FOGGED IN. This tour had three buses and ended after lunch service ended. All of passengers slammed the grill for food Chef was frazzled, NEEDED HELP and food was undercooked. I WAS served a raw hot dog .....SO I REMEMBERed THE TAPAS AT THE MOSIAC ARE OUTSTANDING WENT THERE FOR LUNCH ND AVOIDED WAITING FOR A COOKED DOG.This is AN Az gem.
SO and SIL Hiking TOUR HAD SOME UNFORTUNATE EXCITEMENT,an elderly passenger fell and broke some bones on the hike. He had to be evacuated and I hope that all will turn out right for him.
RED house wine was PEREQUETTA from Portugal. Sorry forgot to get the name of the white wine.
Capt Johannes TYSSE did a prolonged the stop at Seven Sisters and is slowly cruising out of the fjord to Lerwick what a magnificent day thanks Capt!!! Tonite was Scandinavian buffet finally tried a swedish meat ball, Hake Fish and Herring and garlic mussels. SO and SIL went to MDR for cornish hen which she loved. after dinner about 9pm went to casino it was empty few blackjack players no slot or poker action.
Met some new passengers at Mosiac and chatted awhile kudos to Az for this new coffee bar concept its a great place to meet and mingle. This concept was delivered. Still can not get into the piano player he has an edge that bothers me,however he has talent as stated above, when he asked for requests I gave him my all time favorite salon song he told me it was depressing. It was not 100 barrels of beer on the wall but rather Wee Small Hours of the Morning, nuff said time to sleep in the daylight its 11:30pm and sunny in the North Sea .
These mattresses are really bad, they were different on the Quest. Hilda and Aron are our room attendants and are very helpful to us and doing a great job in keeping the room up to snuff and always have a kind word to say. These are AZ gems.
It's rainy and cloudy on way to Lerwick. BTW, something is going on re AZ on this ship there are AZ suits onboard interviewing all the managers and big shot officers. Note to suits get new $#%§ Mattresses if you cannot sleep well you get cranky!!!!
Wine of the day Laborel Chianti and Campanello pinot grigio ok.
We arrive at Lerwick which is a UNESCO Geosite. Our tour was private today. See Allen from Shetland tours best tour ever he is a retired geologist who knows his schist. We did cliffs of Esha Ness, old fishing villages and former old stone countryside houses it really was windswept, desolated. I saw sheep waiting to be shorn and no they were not tourists. I tried a local ale it was potent, made the Shetland ponies look like Clydesdales at the end we toured Lerwick an interesting and quaint city great tour stop Az.
Back on the ship . That night at the Looking Glass Bar at 10th floor I was greeted by the bartender who remembered me from martini tasting on the Quest last year. What a nice touch he poured great martinis. FYI, Victor who pours at the casino looks like he is a bartender from central casting, knows his brands and how to pour neatly.
Dinner tonite was visually appealing. Our waiter, Philbric, was attentive and on top of his game. Now back to my favorite hangout, the Mosiac coffee bar. I have been there so much they start my dbl Latte Expresso on site. Yeah, Bernie the Barista. He is my man and Lidjia, the Romanian/Transylvanian bombshell (the server) are a great team. Told customer service about them and they were thrilled.
Tip: if a crew member does a great job, tell their bosses. We always scream when something is not right, so when something goes right tell the boss, it helps!
Seas are really rocky and they are battening down the hatches. I wonder if I will be crock-potted tomorrow? I have concerns. My SO keeps following me around carrying carrots and an onion. Went into casino. Still as desolate as the Bogs in Brae / Lerwick. My SIL taught me how to play roulette, I won and now I am 99.5 percent away from another cruise in winnings if the cruise was on the SS Minnow. I now have an AZ casino shirt due to the generosity of James the casino mgr, tipped the croupier and went off to bed. Seas are getting very rough. I do not think tomorrow will be a good day. They are giving out barf pills at customer relations. Are they really going to show Titanic tomorrow?
Day is bad. Big waves, Gale force winds and rain. A lot of sick folks. Officers BBQ cancelled. My SIL stated that wait staff service was a 10!!
The wine for today was Gerard Bertrand 2006 /2007 cab and chardonnay it was from Langudoc and tasted like it layed on the dock.NOT drinkable and very acidic.
Went to casino. Still empty. Put down a buck on my birth date and won. Kept a chip, left a tip. Feel great! We are going across the Arctic Circle on way to Akuryei. This is a nice unexpected generous gesture by the Capt., makes up for a sickly sea day . Did a Galley Tour led by Hector, a sous chef. Very nice guy and very much into customer service. Wants to please the passengers . He also cooks a mean Ranchero Omelette in the breakfast buffet.
Please note, they track your food orders in MDR by cabin numbers to determine provisioning needs(how much you order, what you order, etc.) and food preference by nationality. If you don't want to be tracked, eat buffet
We crossed Arctic Circle at 3 am and had a ceremony. Thanks Capt! We will all get a certificate. The sea is finally calm. Going into Akuryei coastline - it is green,lush and foggy. I have not seen any Vikings yet. Why did I buy that Norse helmet?
Mattresses still stink. If AZ wants to be 5 stars, it starts from the foundation. Get it AZ, because frankly, until the mattresses are changed my back won't be back... which is sad cause crew is so wonderful.
Time to tour. Got to go experience Jewels of North. Tour was great - lava, sea stacks, trolls, sulfur and waterfalls and un-popped volcanic craters, remind me of an "inny" belly button. Met a great couple from Australia on the Bus . Tour guide was knowledgeable. Weather was overcast and cold.
Today's wine was Barefoot Shiraz and Chardonnay, South African wines. Some things should stay in South Africa and these are 2 of them. This wine is sold in the US for $5.00-7.00 a bottle. Why would this be poured on a luxury cruise line, even if "included " in the price?
I do not like the on board entertainment. Another passenger commented that entertainment not geared for younger tastes. So here we are smoking cigars in broad "nightlite" on deck 9 talking. The staff continues to impress, but now I go back to lumpy mattress.
A new day - sunny, cold and calm seas. Started day with a steam, had breakfast, played flag trivia and I am off to acupuncture(Thanks SO). Acupuncture was interesting... something to follow up in the States . The spa girls are fun, bubbly and efficient. They are a great way to start or continue the day. So here's a big two thumbs up to Stephanie, Sepidah, Tamryn, Tegan, Samantha, Christine, Yola, Harold and Kaylee(she crock-potted me and I lost 5.75 inches).
Today's wines are Red Bulletin from Australia and NOLA Savingnon Blanc from NZ. These are drinkable after 2 days of battery acid posing as wine(Bertrand and Barefoot).
Just docked in Reykjavik. Had Officer BBQ today. It's a nice touch, but down home BBQ, it ain't! Pouring BBQ SAUCE OVER RIBS DON'T MAKE IT BBQ'D RIBS! AZ should send someone to Mike Anderson's in Dallas and go real down home. That would be impressive COUPLED WITH THE OFFICERS SERVING THE FOOD. Just a wish!!!
P.S. Other passengers complaining about #$%€§£µ Mattresses also. Time to beat feet and tour of Golden Circle before leaving. Had the international buffet Well presented. Good food and great selection. Tour was non Az. Guide was a local and 15 people on tour. We did Godafuss waterfalls, Vaxa , a smaller waterfall, the Geysirs and Pingvalur(not spelled right) glacial lakes, erupting geysirs. All that was missing was the Trolls.This place is so pristine and gives the appearence of "Vastness" due to the contrasts of the Glacial Mountains and Lava rock/pumice formations from the Volcanoes.The countryside has served as a Hollywood set for Tom Hanks series from Earth to the Moon due to the Geology.
We also saw a family on horseback doing a 40 day trail ride. Gisling, our driver, knew them so we mingled for a little bit and they sang us an Icelandic folk song with the sun setting at 11:30 p.m. Quite dramatic even if you could not understand the words. Got back to ship at 1:00 a.m. Tomorrow it's Blue Lagoon.
Another night on a bad mattress. The Blue Lagoon lived up to its billing. Hot waters turned blue from the silica. They also let you slather yourself in white silica, leave it on for 15 minutes and then look at the bathers. It hardens into white mud that cleans and exfoliates. I feel refreshed and ready to go into Reykjavik, so I am off for now.
Wines today are Goodnite Merlot and R Chardonnay. The wine cycle now repeats itself so no more listings.
just came back from a walk in Reykjavik . Clean city, artisan crafts shops everywhere and very expensive. SO and SIL are artisan types. If they did not buy a horse this am (they had horses in their youth) they went horseback riding today. Caught a street concert near the city center. It was swing music. They spoke to the crowd in Icelandic and sang in English.
Back on board. Dinnertime service was was wonderful, food okay but no "Wow" factor. At next table was CSB from CC with an AZ flack in tow. We spoke briefly and will speak tomorrow. On to karaoke tonight and the ship stopped.. not due to my singing but because of an ill passenger that needed evacuation. Hope they get better.
Helen, the dancing machine assistant activities director, got my SO and SIL dancing. The girls had fun and it was fun to watch. Kept on thinking these were 2 wild and crazy girls. Well, as for the rest, what happens on AZ stays on AZ
Time change one hour ahead. Reality hits in 4 days. It's a sea day so I bounce from trivia to trivia. Got to get those keychain points. We did a tour of the bridge and the officers were very engaging and proud of the ship. It seems the beauty of the ship is that the crew really likes to engage with the passengers rather than just give "Stepford" responses. They all seem really sincere. Thank god seas are calm on way to Torshavn.
Special brunch today for discoverer club members. It was superb, but once again small stuff gets in the way. The barmen offered drinks and then billed you for them. I spoke with Iwo and Nathalie and they made it right. I guess my point is that if this is and was a private function, if they are going to charge they could post a sign to let you know in advance.
Capt J stopped the Boat and went went Cod fishing today. It was fun to watch. Yes, he stopped the boat and lowered a hatch, used a drop line and voila...Cod and Pollack were caught.That was so cool. Just an idea,next time AZ do a random passenger raffle to fish with the Capt it would be a hoot.The enrichment seminars are great!
Tonight had a Cruise Critic meeting with CSB and other AZ cruisers. We all had a frank talk about Az and our feelings about the new regime and where AZ is going. I will let CC and CSB rehash the discussion,if they wish, but I think it safe to say that we feel AZ has made many missteps in the PR rollout of the New AZ. In addition,a few other frequent AZ cruisers feel entertainment and shops need an overhaul, freshening.Today the gift shop is having a Tanzanite seminar.I did not know Diamonds Int'l had a shop in Torshavn?
Ate at Aqualina. SIL was served the Captain's fresh caught Cod. She loved it. SO had Chilean Sea Bass and I had a surf and turf.Outstanding meals and service. Yes, it's worth the $15pp.
Went to the Eric DeGray show. He is a great performer, best act on ship to date. He has a great vocal range and I enjoyed the vocal part of the show. If, he would only come up with another comedy "schtick" other than the emails from Grandpa. It got "old" really fast. Now, Eric as cruise director... I found hard to warm up to. I felt when I encountered him around the ship and tried to speak with him, the focus stays with him and that he had to be someplace else. However, at the CC and Ship events/gatherings("Showtime, Places everyone") he was charming and engaging. However, Eric is smart in his selection of ACD's/Activities staff ( Brian from Canada and Helen from France to name 2) are funny, engaging and really enjoy the passengers and I interfaced with them alot.
After Eric's fine show, went to Casino and played roulette, made a donation and left, went down to Guest Relations and the ever bubbly Jasmin, was there to answer some of my questions.
Torshavn: we docked at 7:30 a.m. Seems like a quaint place but cold Weather- wise, time to shower and roam. SO and SIL did Rib Boat ride. Town was picturesque with lots of grass roof houses. Rode the city bus for a look at the real island and spoke to Faroese folks on the bus . Income is fishing and tourists,woolens are big here and $$$.
Ran into Capt. Johannes Tysse,his SO and other crew members on shore. They were very friendly, said hello... took photos, they are genuine people persons, sincere folks. That night he(Capt. J) saw us in the dinner buffet and came to our table to chat with his lovely wife. He and his wife enjoy the passengers and strive to provide an outstanding experience and memory and succeed in this regard. There is no on off switch.
The Capt. Is a mensch and his SO(visiting him onboard) is a lovely person or forgive the mangled Yiddish, a menchette.
The SO and SIL went on a rib boat tour... basically a fast hard shell zodiac. They did the sea cliffs, grottos and saw a lot of puffins. They had a blast and felt this was the best AZ tour to date. Thanks Lisel and David of the shore department for the tip. The 2 of them now do Puffin imitations. As sisters, birds of a feather flock together.
Kirkwall is sunny and cold. The brooch and ancient stones tour was excellent. Capt J and his wife were on our tour enjoying the day as tourists. After tour went single malt shopping in town had some samples. Bought some scotch... the rest is a blur! Got onboard and visited Bernie the barista at Mosiac 5. He fixed me up! We were told out of the 440 passengers only 130 or so were Americans. Guess AZ strategy to make AZ int'l is working.
But moving on, went to final CC party... all the biggie's were in attendance taking everyone's temperature re: their feelings towards AZ and what will be written on CC. For the record, CC was onboard doing video segments about AZ to air in September. The issue is what do you tell them and what would you accomplish? The Onboard people and staff with some exceptions are 5 stars plus!!! but the little things like the wine and mattresses and other small failures of execution detract from the new image.
AZ is being marketed as a luxury cruise line, they have significantly raised prices and ask you to sleep on old lumpy mattresses, they know have to be replaced but they have not got around to it as of yet is this luxury? You decide.
We have eaten more dinner buffets on this cruise than our last AZ cruise in Sept. 09. Tonite's buffet was Indian food. SIL stated the food was inedible in Buffet. MDR choices were not great. Lobster tails were mushy and lamb chops were over cooked. Regarding the food, I heard the AZ menu's were to change on Monday, so you may want to check them as they seem to be moving away from an American palette to an international one.
An Indian buffet on a North Sea cruise coupled with the earlier tanzanite special made me feel more Like Majesty of the Seas than Azamara Journey.
Maybe we are lab rats for the new AZ menu starting next Monday. Skipped entertainment tonight. Rather enjoyed speaking with new friends from Mich. They were not excited about onboard entertainment.
Last day rocky seas. Off to spa for final steam. It was broke so shower only. Saw the spa girls...they were cheery . We had a problem printing our boarding passes. Isabel the E-Communication Mgr was most helpful in getting the passes printed. We had dinner tonite with a lovely couple from England. Had sole, lyonnais potatoes and escargots which were great . Escargots were a special request. They were never on the menu.
Note to future travelers, do not mix escargots with Lyonnaise potatoes or you will be writing diary entries at 3:30 a.m.. SIL ordered scallops... not good off the MDR menu. Also, couscous was cold. Dessert coffee was cold.
Suggestion to AZ : add paper rings on the" to go" coffee cups to cut the heat transfer like Starbucks does.
All in all, the people we met from Britain, Brazil Australia. TN , Mich., Canada and Calif. were great fun and interesting to talk to. Enjoy the seas and roads you are travelling.
One final note about shore excursions, they need to be a little bit more specific regarding the physical requirements and stresses of certain tours such as mountain hikes and the constant speed and pounding of the RIB Boat tour, my SO and SIL stated some of the older passengers were stressed out and did not realize what they were in for.
We left CPH 3.5 hours late and missed our connections. I am frustrated and frayed, but good news for AZ... your coffee is better than Delta's. But since plane was 3.5 hours late we got to spend the night at Comfort Inn at ATL... the mattresses are better than AZ's.
I know AZ will improve, but it has a way to go in delivering its product before it becomes a luxury cruise line. As a visual, people experience this was a great cruise but this was not a luxury cruise not because of any failure by the Capt and crew but due to the overpromise and under delivery by the folks in Miami.
At this time, they are asking you to pay for a Mercedes Benz but are delivering a Buick. Nothing is wrong with driving a Buick as long as you pay for a Buick and not a Mercedes. Less