To cruise or not to cruise. That was our question.: Azamara Journey Cruise Review by alibabatimes

Azamara Journey 5
Member Since 2010
62 Forum Posts

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To cruise or not to cruise. That was our question.

Sail Date: November 2010
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Athens (Piraeus)
You'll love it! You'll hate it! We really had little idea of what to expect with friends who had cruised telling us we'd love it and those who had never cruised telling us we'd hate being not being independent travellers. Well I have to say the first group one hands down. We cruised with the Azamara to The Holy Land in November 2010 and loved every minute of it. The crew were fantastic - so genuinely helpful and always courteous; the cabins were well equipped, though maybe slightly on the small side, and every day we got fresh fruit and various newsletters meaning we were always up to speed with what was going on in relation to excursions or on-board activities. The food in the various restaurants we thought was of 5 star standard with good quality linen, cutlery and glasses (for all that wine included in the price - well done on those selections too - I have been on holidays before where wine was included and mostly they were house wines of dubious quality). I used the gym and went More to 2 spinning classes which I loved (a couple of extra bikes would be good as you had to book early to get on to the class which was over-subscribed) and my husband used the walking track each day. We both used the library and, being newspaper addicts, liked the daily news sheets available there (and the UK ones delivered to our cabin). The on-board laundry room was well equipped and I also used the ship's laundry service which was excellent and not expensive either.

The Azamara gets full marks for always having cold bottles of water available to take with you on excursions as you leave the ship and for always giving you a warm welcome back at the end of each trip. It was these little things that really stood out. Extra pillow? No problem. Broken light? Fixed very quickly. Breakfast on your balcony? No problem (and always delivered at the time requested). Seriously, and I don't have shares in Azamara, the only area I found to improve concerned the daily delivery of grapes to the cabins - they had several pips in. We have booked another cruise with the Azamara and are introducing some of our relatives too to this whole new way of having a holiday. It was the most relaxing holiday we have had and from start to finish we felt looked after by the Azamara and her crew. We also made some new friends - all helped by the dining experience and the option of sharing tables whenever we chose and through joining Cruise Critic beforehand. The Cruise Critic meetings on board were fun and at the final meeting most of the ship's directors were there to take on board (excuse the pun) any feedback. That was impressive. I could go on but that is probably enough. Less

Published 02/21/11

Cabin review: 6078

6078 - with balcony which we loved; small bathroom but everything we needed; wardrobes fine though we took way too many clothes so it seemed a bit small by the time we had unpacked; desk and sofa area good; bed comfortable. Stewards fantastic and always very helpful. Cabin spotless. Loved the fruit and flowers. Just need to take the pips out of those grapes and I'll have nothing to complain about at all.

Port and Shore Excursions

We loved Alexandria with its corniche, old colonial buildings, Roman remains and its very impressive new library. The views from the open-air cafe at the top of the Cecil Hotel are excellent looking out to sea and up and down the corniche.

The port here is Port Said - most passengers took a trip to Cairo and the Pyramids on this day. Having been there the year before we decided to venture out in to Port Said itself. Never again. Sadly it is dirty and did not have much to recommend it. We went to the National Military Museum and were the only visitors to see a poorly designed museum, with explanations in terrible English and full of pictures of Egyptian generals in warrior-like poses. Not to be recommended (but then the entrance fee was very small!)

If you have seen the pyramids and done Cairo and the museum then I would recommend a relaxing day on the Azamara.

We joined a tour, organised by fellow Cruise Critics, taking in the North of Israel and including the Sea of Galilee. The highlight was visiting Safed with all its historical synagogues and the very interesting artists' colony. I would have loved to have had more time in the artists' colony and wished I had bought one of the caricature drawings I watched an artist draw of musicians with various musical instruments. They were fantastic. Having said that there was all manner of arts and crafts in one packed, cobble-stoned street of artists - fascinating.

We also had an amazing lunch of humus, pitta breads, dips and salads at a cafe/restaurant on the banks of the Sea of Galilee - highly recommended. Wonderful Mediterranean food and not expensive.

Read 141 Haifa Reviews

We loved Jerusalem - the old walls, the fascinating Via Delarosa with its shops like Aladdin's caves and all the hustle and bustle of commercial life in a small space, the church of the Holy Sepulchre and the wailing wall.

The most interesting for me was the Via Delarosa - the sweet shop stalls, the food shops, the craft shops, jewelery etc etc - just so colourful and different to anything I have ever seen. We also saw a re-enactment of Christ's journey with the cross which gave pause for thought.

The church unfortunately was jam-packed when we went but that is going to be inevitable on a cruise trip when travel is at peak times.

This was the only excursion we went on which was booked through the Azamara and it was outstanding. The excursion was to Ancient Delos - half an hour on a boat from Mykonos. Don't miss this wonder of the ancient world and a world heritage archaeological site.

After this visit we returned to Mykonos and walked around this charming fishing village full of white-washed houses and restaurant terraces bursting with flowers. Don't miss the Panama Hat shop - seriously good and expensive (but they are the real deal)

Read 839 Mykonos Reviews

We loved Rhodes and spent our time walking around the Old Town and looking in some of the shops. On the shop front - there are some seriously interesting shops with beautiful fabrics. There was no pressure to buy so you could go in and out of shops at your leisure.

The Old Town is very interesting and, if not on an excursion, take a guide book to do it justice.

Read 391 Rhodes Reviews

What can you say about Rome that has not been said before? It is the most astonishing city full of history. Ancient buildings around every corner, Bernini statues seemingly in every square and the very impressive St Peter's and the Vatican. Your only limit is time. Highlights are: the Pantheon, St Peter's, the Vatican and, of course, the Coliseum. We stayed over one night here at the end of our cruise. The Azamara organised everything superbly taking us there and collecting us to go back to the airport at the end of our stay with a guide even on the mini-bus back. The only disappointment was the hotel was not very central.

Sorrento is a delight - the town itself and its proximity to Pompeii (a must) and the Amalfi coast. A guided tour of Pompeii is highly recommended and it remains a wonder of the world. Positano is a delightful town on the Amalfi coast with highly individual shops. And everywhere the best ice cream in the world!

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Member Since 2010
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