Not the Journey of a lifetime: Azamara Journey Cruise Review by Graham Taylor

Azamara Journey 3
Graham Taylor

Overall Member Rating

Not the Journey of a lifetime

Sail Date: May 2011
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Rome (Civitavecchia)
We bought a flight inclusive package from London for a cruise out of, and returning to, Rome. Very excited by the prospect of our first 5.5/6 star cruise.

On the Friday before the cruise (which was due to leave Rome at around 6pm on the Saturday), we had to catch a 7 am flight from Heathrow! What on earth for? We then stayed in a very average hotel (Crowne Plaza), exhausted and in no real mood to go traipsing around Rome. The following day we were eventually coached back in the direction of Rome airport (why not stay closer to the port if we must be taken out the day before the cruise itself?) before turning towards Civitaveccia and embarkation (which was relatively painless and expeditious)

Azamara Journey is a 34 year old ship (I was informed) with a capacity of just below 700. It looks its age, has areas of disrepair quite obviously visible (holes in lift walls and in our cabin walls and really drab decor), was not spotlessly clean (as we would have expected) and More the welcome aboard was extremely muted - no photographer (when we alighted, although we didn't particularly mind that) and half a glass of cheap sparkling wine each

Our stateroom (a category 4 inside cabin) was roomy enough (200+sq ft). However the bed was like two camp beds pushed together (not terribly comfortable), the bathroom a real squash (sitting on the loo was quite a manoevre - I perfected this after a couple of days), the shower blackened around the edges from age/ingrained dirt), a few unplugged holes in the walls (which they kindly patched up with what looked like pieces of wallpaper the size of elastoplasts) and a very cheap uncomfortable sofa (which had someone else's grape from the previous cruise jammed between its edge and a cushion. The window was large. The cabin was well equipped with electrical points taking both US and EU adapters

Dining was good in the paid-for specialty restaurants but pretty mediocre at best in the buffet style Windows Cafe

Activities pretty much what you'd expect

Service on board was, with a few notable exceptions, EXCELLENT (Hooray!!!) Unfortunately the Guest Relations desk was not such a good experience in my view with what could hardly be called a customer-focused approach unfortunately. Furthermore the Captain of the ship must be one of the most interpersonally challenged individuals I have ever come across in such a job - it was as if he just couldn't wait to get off (this was his last cruise prior to a holiday). Overwhelmingly disappointing when part of the excitement of a cruise is the interaction you might have with senior members of the crew

One saving grace was a first-class cruise director named Eric de Gray (and his team of performers) who put on some very nice shows. There was also an excellent pianist (Jeff Warren) and a fabulous harpist (Mary Amanda Fairchild). The hotel director was also excellent

Port and shore excursions were plentiful and Azamara had given us advanced notice of a 50% offer on everything (which was nice of them!)

It's always lovely to travel the oceans and in that respect the cruise was fine. The ship is quite small - you either appreciate the relative intimacy and therefore relish this aspect of the experience, or you crave some space and the ability to secure some privacy other than within the confines of your cabin

Disembarkation was efficient BUT again the company decided to ask us to leave at 7.15 am when our flight was at 1.30 pm from an airport an hour away - what on earth for? How incredibly un-customer-focused for goodness sake. Thankfully after quite some complaining we were able leave at 9am - and we still got to the airport 3.5 hours before our flight was due to check-in and 30 minutes before we could leave our bags

The best part of the experience was meeting some lovely passengers who quickly become new friends

Would I cruise Azamara again? I guess so if I won it in Bingo or something, but not if what I am looking for is a quality experience that justifies the price paid. I have had much better experiences with Holland America, NCL, Princess and Celebrity. The new CEO has got his work cut out for him that's for sure Less

Published 06/17/11

Cabin review: 047007 Club Oceanview Stateroom

Cabin 7007 Cat 4 InsideRoomy enough (200 sq ft), large windowAt front of ship on starboardSquashed bathroom, gymnasts will adapt better, sitting on loo requires some skill. Black staining at base of showerUncomfortable bed (like 2 campbeds pushed together)Cheap uncomfortable dirty sofaAdequate cupboard spaceWalls in disrepair in placesTiny flat TVGood plug points (EU and US)Needs total refurbishment

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Graham Taylor
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