Just a few comments about our recent cruise on the Journey. This was our second Azamara cruise, the first one on the Quest in 2009 for a Black Sea cruise. Both of our trips were very enjoyable. We selected this cruise because we really wanted to visit Iceland, and this trip stopped at two ports - Akureyri and Reykjavik.
On this trip, we had one quibble with the food - they served Louisiana Gumbo one night. It did not resemble that dish at all. Gumbo is a spicy, roux-based, stew-like dish. This was bland and broth-based. My husband mentioned it to the executive chef & she said they have to follow the recipe from headquarters. Someone in headquarters needs to go to Louisiana and find some real gumbo. Also, in talking to the wait staff, they told us that other regional dishes weren't really very authentic (specifically Indonesian).
Otherwise, the food was quite good. We ate once each in Aqualina & Prime C on this trip; while the food & service were very good, it was not enough better than Discoveries (Main Dining Room) to justify $15 pp. When we sailed with them 2 years ago, the charge was only $5 pp and we ate in each restaurant several times. (I love the Grand Marnier soufflE. The waiter in Prime C was able to get it for us, even though it's only on the menu for Aqualina.)
We really like that the officers and senior staff are visible and approachable. Often, Captain Johannes Tysse was at the gangplank when guests were leaving for shore excursions; senior staff were on hand serving cocoa (with crème de cocoa or caramel) when we returned at several ports. The Captain is quite personable and I really looked forward to his daily (or more frequent) updates.
We had good weather, which apparently was a first for this summer in the northern Scandinavian area; at every port, people commented that they had been having rain all summer. One of our sea days (between Reykjavik and Torshavn) was quite rough, but we aren't particularly bothered by rough seas. (This is the first cruise where I've seen candied ginger available at Guest Relations, along with seasick pills.) After we left Torshavn, the Captain went "full speed ahead" to get into the lee of islands to keep from having another rough day.
One of my favorite talks was on the last sea day; Tony Markey, the Cruise Director, told us about being on the Seabourn ship when it was attacked by Somali pirates several years ago. He gave a very interesting and entertaining account of the attack and its aftermath. Some other Port Info:Geiranger, Norway.
We took the ship's tour, hiking to the waterfall. Since there has been so much rain this summer, they had to go with an alternative hike. It still went close to a waterfall. One section of the trail was extremely muddy.
Geiranger Fjord is one of the most beautiful in the world. We really enjoyed the sail out.
Lerwick, Shetland Islands.
We took the ship's tour to Jarlshof. We were very impressed with that site, with its 5000 years of history. Akureyri, Iceland
One of the highlights of the cruise. We took the ship's tour, Jewels of the North, which included Godafoss (waterfall)and the Lake Myvatn area with its pseudo-craters and lava formations.
Unfortunately, this tour didn't leave us any time to explore the town, except for a few minutes in the port side souvenir shop. Torshavn, Faroe Islands
In this port we explored the town on our own. The "old town" was interesting with its grass-roofed buildings. We also found a very nice city park; it was obviously meant for walkers rather that bike riders. We roamed around the park for near an hour.
I really like deck 7 on these ships. Since we always use the stairs, rather than the elevator, it's only 2 flights down to the main public deck or 2 flights up to the pool deck/Windows Cafe. Our cabin was situated very near the aft stairs.
Our only problem, was that we were the last cabin to be cleaned each day. It was usually noon or later before it was made-up. Other than that, it was similar to every cabin we've had on Azamara/Oceania ships. The beds were comfortable and there was adequate storage for our needs.
We did Bergen on our own. We'd been there before & knew we wanted to take the tram up Mount Floyen and walk back down. The gift shop has a free map of trails on the mountain.
The ship arrived about 5:00 in the afternoon. We took the shuttle into town and explored on our own; since it was still quite light, we walked the 4.5 km along the seawall back to the ship. It's a very nice walk, with a paved path all of the way.
The next day we took the ship's Golden Circle tour. It lasted the full day; the only problem was that the included lunch was very slow; since we were expecting dessert to be included we didn't take seconds of the main meal and were not completely satisfied.