6th Feb 2024 | 14 nights | Azamara | Azamara Journey
For destination-intensive itineraries, excellent food, a comfortable onboard experience that lets you leave your tux and gown at home and service with a genuine smile, you can't go wrong booking a cruise on Azamara Journey.
A cruise on Azamara Journey feels a little like coming home, whether you've cruised on the ship before or not (and dozens of repeat cruisers are on nearly every sailing). With fewer than 700 passengers onboard and only five decks with public spaces, it only takes a day or two before the ship feels familiar; you've found your favourite spot to sit in the Living Room, you know where to find free cookies at any time of day and you start recognizing faces (crew and fellow cruisers alike).
The ship's size lends itself to an amiable onboard atmosphere as well. The bulk of the tables in both Discoveries Restaurant and the buffet are designed for two people but pushed close enough together that mealtime conversations across tables are a common occurrence. Trivia sessions, which are held three times most days, encourage team building; strangers quickly bond over themes such as nature, the body, sports and music.
Service is also friendly, as well as efficient, especially in the restaurants. If you find wait staff you like and return to them on a regular basis, they'll get to know your favourite drink order, how you like your coffee and, if you're like certain reviewers, which gelato flavour you need to cap off every day.
Unlike dining and bar service, cabin service can be hit or miss, with several cruisers reporting their room stewards never introduced themselves, nor pointed out some of the unique quirks of the rooms (like the USB chargers hidden underneath the reading lights). It also took us three days to get extra hangers despite asking several times. But ice buckets were always filled, towels rehung in the bathroom and the cabin kept clean overall.
Another hallmark of the Azamara Journey experience is its destination focus. One of just two ships in the Azamara Club Cruises fleet, Journey stops in a mix of standard and off-the-beaten-path ports, offering longer stays and at least one overnight on each sailing. On a Greece itinerary, for example, the ship not only stopped at the island standards of Mykonos and Santorini, but also visited Skiathos and Hydra, while on a Central America sailing, the ship not only stopped at Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, but also at Acajutla, El Salvador and Huatulco, Mexico.
The culmination of Azamara's destination focus is the complimentary AzAmazing Evening that's held at least once per voyage. These events are billed as one-of-a-kind and might feature events like a classical music concert among the ruins of Ephesus, a recital by three tenors on a hillside in Tuscany or a ceremonial performance by indigenous people native to Mexico in the foothills of the Sierra Madres. Another special evening that's held every cruise regardless of destination, the White Night Party, is also unabashedly popular, judging by passenger participation.
Azamara calls its dress code "resort casual"; there are no formal nights. The line does ask passengers to refrain from wearing blue jeans in the main dining room and speciality restaurants after 6 p.m., and tank tops, ball caps, bathing suits and shorts are also not permitted.
In general, most women wear sundresses and capri pants during the day, changing to nicer maxi-dresses or trousers in the evening. While you'll see men wearing T-shirts during the day, collared shirts are the rule at night.
The Cabaret Lounge on Deck 5 serves as the ship's main theatre and is in use throughout the day and night. It's a small space with a low ceiling -- there's room for just 450 people, but the lounge's neutral colour scheme, dominated by light gold brocades, creams walls and ceilings and grey and silver carpeting, saves the space from feeling claustrophobic. A large dance floor also gives the lounge a roomier feel.
While the Cabaret Lounge is used during the day for various activities, nighttime is when it really comes to life. Most evenings begin with ballroom dancing, sometimes hosted by ballroom dance champions who are part of the onboard entertainment ensemble. Two shows always follow (usually at 8:15 and 9:45 p.m.), with more ballroom dancing in between. Acts are not always the same, so cruisers have to pick and choose which show they want to see and which to skip (unless they decided to do both and have an early -- and fast -- dinner).
Two to four nights per cruise, the main show is a medley of song and dance numbers performed by the onboard ensemble of six singers and dancers, and sometimes joined by the cruise director (depending on which cruise director you have). As with most cruise entertainment, the singers are better at some songs than others, and the dancing leaves a bit to be desired. Side note: Several of the more gregarious singers and dancers pull double duty as the hosts of daytime activities including trivia, origami, Scattergories and dance classes.
Azamara also brings on guest entertainers for part or most of all sailings. Acts might include comedians, magicians, ventriloquists, singers and pianists. The quality of the acts ranges from just OK to excellent. On our sailing, as an example, the ventriloquist did a great job keeping his mouth shut while the dummy talked but didn't always get the laughs he was going for, while the guest soprano singer got a rousing round of applause every time she sang.
Daily activities on Azamara Journey tend to be cerebral in nature (with the notable exception of bingo), with a variety of trivia contests, bridge sessions and cooking demonstrations. In addition, you'll find destination lectures on the countries and ports visited along your sailing, as well as special interest lectures by a guest speaker. On our sailing, an expert in DNA gave talks about how DNA is used to solve cold cases, identify the graves of famous people and link ancient pharaohs to each other, among other practical and historical purposes. Art lectures can be informative as well, but ultimately are sales pitches for Park West. Sometimes the senior crew members or the cruise directors hold Q&A sessions. Activities are held in the Cabaret Lounge, Living Room, Spirits Bar and Discoveries Bar.
Less scholarly daily fun might include dance classes, shop and spa seminars, dart and Ping-Pong contests, charades, open slot play and Texas Hold'em tournaments.
Evening and nighttime fun on Azamara Journey is a bit subdued, with an hour of unhosted ballroom dancing kicking off the night in the Cabaret Lounge starting at 5:30 p.m. Light live music -- a solo guitarist or pianist -- continues on and off in the Discoveries and Spirits bars, as well as the Living Room, until around midnight. The bulk of the evening entertainment doesn't begin until after dinner; the first show in the theatre starts at 8:15 p.m.
DJ'd music and dancing begins at 11 p.m. in the Living Room and is typically over within two to three hours at the latest.
When the ship is out at sea, the small casino (Deck 5, midship) is open for business. Casino lovers might find the selection paltry with only four-game tables available (two blackjack, three-card poker and roulette), and a selection of penny, nickel, quarter and dollar slots.
Couples looking to celebrate a special event or rekindle their romance can book Azamara's extra-cost Nights in Private Places, which transforms the spa deck into an intimate space for a tete-a-tete with a candlelit dinner served by a private butler, thalassotherapy pool and canopied daybed dressed in the finest linens for sleeping under the stars. In the morning, the butler returns to serve breakfast. Nights in Private Places can be booked with the concierge onboard the ship; reserve early as it fills ups fast.
You'll find a handful of small bars on Azamara Journey; most are occupied only in the evening before and after dinner. (Discoveries Bar, for instance, is packed before dinner, but pretty much empty the rest of the day.) The exception to rule is the much larger Living Room, which gets going in the afternoon and stays busy for the rest of the day. Spirits Bar can also get busy during the day if an important sporting event is on. (We quickly learned there's not a seat to be had when England plays Ireland in rugby.)
Discoveries Bar (Deck 5, aft): The spot for pre-or post-dinner aperitifs is located right outside Discoveries Restaurant. During the day, the space is used for activities like origami and Scattergories; in the evening, a guitarist plays light tunes for cruisers stopping to have a drink before or after dinner.
Spirits Bar (Deck 5): Also known as the Casino Bar, this bar is located next to, but not inside the casino. A selection of standard beers, wines and cocktails are available. The space is furnished with a handful of armchair and table clusters, as well as a large-screen TV showing sporting events on ESPN and ESPN2. During the day, the bar is used to host activities like trivia and spa seminars. Live music, either a guitarist or pianist, is on offer in the late evening.
Pool Bar (Deck 9, mid): This small bar, right next to the pool, is not a place to hang out, but rather the spot to grab a drink to take back to your lounge chair. It features the same drinks as all other bars on the ship.
The Living Room (Deck 10, forward): One of the main additions Azamara Journey received during its 2016 refurb, The Living Room is an elegant, yet comfortable, space designed to be the spot for cruisers to hang out in for socializing, reading, wine tasting, card playing and more. The Living Room features a pleasing blend of neutral colours with dark woods, and bold cranberry and purple chairs, surrounded partly by floor-to-ceiling windows, which give the space lots of natural light.
The versatility of the Living Room makes it the most popular spot onboard Azamara Journey. Depending on the time of day, the space can be a quiet and comfy spot to read a book, a lively area for hotly contested trivia, the go-to hangout for a late afternoon snack accompanied by a solo guitarist, or happening nightclub, crowded with dancers kicking up their heels to tunes ranging from the Beatles to ABBA to Michael Jackson, during theme nights.
Be sure to check out the touch tables, which you can use to send an e-postcard to friends and family for free or look up information on where you want to cruise to next. You'll also want to climb into one of the birdcage chairs at least once; suspended in the air on a metal hanger that resembles a birdcage (thus the name) and stuffed with plush dark purple cushions, they're more comfortable than they look.
From 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the small Tapas bar serves up hot and cold tapas dishes.
Sunset Bar (Deck 9, aft): One of the most scenic spots on Azamara Journey, the Sunset Bar is located behind Windows Cafe. During the day it's a great spot to chow down on buffet fare, while watching the ship's wake disappear behind you. In the evening, it's a quiet, peaceful spot for sunset spotting.
Azamara Journey has one saltwater swimming pool, flanked by two freshwater hot tubs on Deck 9, midship. The pool is not overly large so can get crowded on a hot day, though it's mostly used to cool off rather than for swimming laps. The pool is surrounded by loungers, with about half in the sun and half in the shade. Loungers do not typically fill up until 10 or 11 in the morning on a sea day. A smaller thalassotherapy pool is located on the ship's spa deck, which is free for top suite passengers but costs extra for all others. The pool and hot tubs are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Except during lunch, when the ship's solo guitarist plays light music for about an hour, the pool deck is a quiet space for reading, chatting and cat-napping.
A shuffleboard court is located on Deck 11 and a Ping-Pong table is on Deck 10. The jogging track is also on Deck 10; it takes 13 laps to hit a mile.
The Sun Deck on Deck 11 forward is a quiet spot for reading and napping in the sun. The loungers are rarely, if ever, all taken. You'll also find plenty of loungers on Deck 5, port and starboard.
Azamara Journey also has a private sun deck on Deck 9 that is part of the Sanctum Spa. Along with lounge chairs and day beds (including one beneath a billowy canopy), you'll find the ship's thalassotherapy pool here. Access is free for top suite passengers. For all others, a day or full-length pass is required. Day passes are $23.60 per person; for the length of the cruise (not including 20+ day cruises), it's $99 per person or $160 for a couple. The space is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., except when it's reserved for Azamara's Nights in Private Places (which it often is) and closes at 5 p.m.
Azamara Journey's main passenger services are located on Deck 4, in a cosy lobby where you'll find Guest Relations, Land Discoveries (the line's shore excursion program), the Concierge Desk and the Loyalty and Sales desk. Concierge services are available to all passengers, and these can include arranging celebrations, getting flowers and booking the ship's Nights in Private Places experience for couples. Right next to Guest Services are stacks of Pursuits (the daily program), as well as photocopied packets of news articles from regional newspapers (USA Times, The Canadian, Britain Today, Australia Today). Scattered in the lobby are comfortable couches and wooden armchairs with leather cushions. You'll also find a giant touch screen TV with a world map, which you can use to explore the destinations Azamara visits.
Cruisers interested in browsing and purchasing one or more of the many photos taken by the two professional photographers on the ship can stop by the tiny Photo Shop (Deck 5, mid). Located in the hallway on the other side of the wall from Spirits Bar, cruisers can browse their photos on digital touch screens. A small number of cameras and photography accessories are also available for sale.
Azamara Journey only has two shops (Deck 5, mid): Indulgences, high-end jewellery and watch boutique, and The Journey Shop, which sells an assortment of Azamara-branded souvenirs, country club-style clothes (think Lacoste polo shirts), perfumes and colognes, Swarovski crystal jewellery and varied sundries and toiletries cruisers might have forgotten.
The Drawing Room (Deck 10) is the ship's elegant library, complete with faux fireplace and stocked with books and cosy couches and chairs.
The Card Room (Deck 10) is tucked away on one side of The Living Room and is the place for hosted bridge games, jigsaw puzzle-solving and board games. Right next to the Card Room is In Touch, the ship's four-station Internet cafe.
WiFi is available throughout the ship. Prices start at $9.95 for 15 minutes and go up to $69.95 for a 24-hour unlimited pass (which strangely enough is less than the $79.95 you'll pay for 150 minutes). Most packages can be purchased throughout the cruise; however, a special $30/day package is only available for purchase the first two days of the cruise.
Passengers can take advantage of a self-service laundry room on Deck 7; machines and detergent are free to use.
The Sanctum Day Spa on Deck 9 forward, which was expanded and redesigned during the 2016 refurbishment, offers basic massages, facials and body wraps, as well as acupuncture, teeth whitening and medispa treatments, such as Botox and fillers. Treatments are well done but are followed by the hard sell typical of all spas operated by Steiner.
Prices are comparable with what you'd find on land in a big city; a 50-minute Swedish massage costs $119, as does a basic 50-minute facial. Passengers who purchase three treatments receive 10 percent off their first treatment, 20 percent off the second and 30 percent off the third. Also, look for daily spa specials that bundle several short treatments together for a discounted price.
The salon is adjacent to the spa. Services include waxing, manicures, pedicures, hair colouring and blowouts, as well as barbering for men. Prices for women range from $39 for a shampoo and blowout to $85 for a full set of acrylic nails, and $149 and up for a Keratin complex express blowout. Men's services start at $35 for a men's wet cut and dry and go as high as $129 for an Elemis urban cleanse facial; an express shave is $45.
The spa and salon are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Next to the spa is a small fitness centre full to brimming with Life Fitness cardio equipment (ellipticals, treadmills, stationary and recumbent bikes), weight machines and a small open space for classes. Locker rooms for men and women have Turkish steam rooms, which are free for all cruisers to use.
Fitness classes -- stretching, Pilates, spinning, ab work and yoga -- are complimentary, while body sculpt boot camp sessions carry a fee (one price for four sessions). Personal training is also available for a fee, along with body composition analysis and nutritional consultations.
The fitness centre is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Virtually every repast onboard Azamara Journey is a treat -- even if it's not the best you've ever had. The food is good (and the bread baskets divine!), waits for each course are quick and service is friendly and good. Women are served first, and the assistant waiter is always ready with a water or wine refill.
Seating in the main dining room is open seating, but once you find servers you like, you can request them each evening. They'll get to know your likes and dislikes pretty quickly;, our waitress of choice knew within two days that my husband liked red wine with a glass of ice on the side.
Kudos also go to Azamara for recognizing that many diners have special dietary needs. Every dinner menu, in all venues, feature vegetarian (v), vegan option available (vo), gluten-free (gf) and healthy choice (hc) options; many lunch menus have these as well. At least one of each is always available.
Two meals of note you won't want to miss are the once-per-cruise jazz brunch served in the Discoveries main dining room and the Officers' BBQ during which the senior crew lend a helping hand dishing out suckling pig, barbecue ribs, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, make your own Caesar salad and tacos, potato salad and coleslaw.
The White Night dinner is another not-to-be-missed meal; served on the Pool Deck, cruisers can pick and choose from nearly a dozen stations serving a variety of cuisine styles.
Sodas, select wines and beers are always complimentary at meals.
Discoveries Restaurant (Deck 5, aft): You'll find breakfast, dinner and some lunches (on sea days) served in the ship's casual main dining room. Seating for all meals is open; arrive whenever you like during operating hours. Waiting times for a table are generally short, especially for breakfast and lunch. If you arrive during the 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. dinner rush, you might have to wait up to 10 minutes.
Tables come in two- to eight-person setups. If you're seated at a two-top you'll be pretty close to the neighbouring tables, inviting friendly chats with other cruisers about your day. Several sharing tables are also available each night for those who enjoy dining with new people.
For breakfast, cruisers will find standard fare like eggs made to order (including omelettes), waffles and pancakes, deli meats, cereal, fruit and pastries.
Lunch menus include appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts. Sample items on the lunch menu are rock shrimp with crab cake, Nicoise or mixed green salad, Tuscan white bean soup, bacon and egg stir-fry, pasta primavera, barbecue-grilled salmon, turkey club and hamburger. Desserts vary but always include a selection of gelato and sorbet flavours.
The four-course dinner menu includes appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts; most selections change daily but there are a handful of always-available options such as Caesar salad with chicken or shrimp, jumbo shrimp cocktail and escargots. Other appetiser choices might include firecracker shrimp or char sui-style chicken with bacon and broccoli roulade, ginger and toasted sesame seeds.
Soups and salad sections include, but are not limited to: roasted red bell pepper-corn chowder (v, gf); Louisiana gumbo with smoked chicken, Andouille sausage and okra; fennel and orange salad with arugula and dill (vg, gf); and Tuscany beef broth with cheese tortellini. Entree options might include Tandoori-baked lamb loin with eggplant and spinach roulade, slow-roasted prime rib with horseradish mashed potatoes or baked Norwegian salmon with split pea risotto.
Deserts change daily, though Tahitian vanilla creme brulee, New York-style cheesecake and gelato are always on the menu.
On top of the regular menu, a World Cuisine selection is available every night that matches the country featured in the buffet that evening. Options might include meatloaf on American night, bangers and mash on British night, a chicken enchilada on Mexican night or coq au vin on French night.
Windows Cafe (Deck 9, mid): At the ship's buffet, you'll find breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as enough tables, so you'll rarely have to wait for a seat. Drinks are served by circulating waiters. Breakfast options include smoothies (with ingredients pre-selected for strength, energy or health, or you can pick your own fruit combination), juice (apple, orange, cranberry) and coffee and tea. Lunch and dinner beverages include sodas, three beers (Becks, Budweiser, Bud Lite) and a small selection of red and white wines.
Breakfast options are mostly the same on either side of the buffet, only differing in that the starboard side features a selection of deli meats, while the port side has smoked salmon, mackerel and herring. Items served every day are: scrambled, hard-boiled and fried eggs, as well as omelettes made to order; waffles, French toast and pancakes (gluten-free available upon request); and a variety of sausages, baked beans, oven-roasted potatoes, fruit slices, yoghurts and cereal and mixed pastries.
The lunch buffet typically offers a variety of salads, including DIY ingredients and pre-mixed like potato or cabbage salad. Lunch entrees might include beef lasagna, crispy pork, vegetarian pad Thai, Moroccan-style chicken, steamed veggies, chicken cacciatore, Teriyaki-glazed salmon and a carving station with daily selection of beef, pork or turkey. Fresh fruit, gelato and a selection of tarts, pastries and cakes are available for dessert.
Dinner buffets are always themed, usually around a specific style of cuisine (English, Italian, French, Greek and Indian, among others); menus rotate every 12 days. A make-your-own salad bar is always available as well. Dessert selections include one or more sweets specific to the cuisine of the evening, as well as some standard favourites, fresh fruit and gelato.
The Patio (Deck 9, mid): The Patio is a poolside grill by day and an alfresco venue by night. It quickly became our favourite place to lunch during the day; the burgers (beef, turkey and veggie) were always juicy and the fries nice and crispy. Other lunch options include beef, lamb and chicken brochettes; buffalo chicken wings, chicken fingers and fried spring rolls; and soups including a chilled option, chicken consomme and chilli. Available sides are grilled veggies, French fries, baked potatoes, onion rings and nachos.
At night, The Patio converts into an alfresco dining venue with tablecloths and table-side service. The menu consists of grilled fare like beef paillard, bone-in strip loin, BBQ pork ribs, tournedos of lamb tenderloin, grilled curried chicken kebabs and salmon steak with pink peppercorns. Also on the menu is lasagna with creamy tomato sauce. Sides are French fries, baked or mashed potatoes. For dessert, you can choose from a daily selection of pie and cake, as well as fruit salad and cookies. And, of course, the frozen yoghurt bar is right next door.
Swirl & Top (Deck 9, mid): Right next to The Patio is the 24/7 low-fat yoghurt station, with an accompanying 15-item toppings bar. (The only thing missing is whipped cream.) The two self-service machines always have vanilla, and will also either have one with chocolate and one with strawberry or both will have the same second flavour.
Tapas in The Living Room (Deck 10, forward): From 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., a small tapas bar serves up four hot and four cold tapas dishes. A for-fee tapas and wine tasting session is also offered most nights toward the back of the Living Room; reservations are recommended but not required.
Mosaic Cafe (Deck 5, mid): Mosaic Cafe is the ship's small, but popular coffee bar. It's not quite a lounge as the groupings of tables and chairs are simply on either side of the space through which passengers walk to get to the shop. Mosaic is stocked with a variety of free and for-fee speciality coffees, as well as an all-day selection of complimentary finger sandwiches and small pastries. Coffees are ranked by intensity level.
Room Service: Complimentary room service is available 24/7. Breakfast is only served from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., and is ordered via doorknob cards, which must be hung by 1 a.m. The morning menu includes eight breakfast combinations, as well as made-to-order eggs, steak, griddle choices, cereal, fruit and baked goods. Lunch and dinner menu items are identical and include beef consomme, Caesar or spinach Caprese salads, club and seafood club sandwiches, Mediterranean or chips and salsa platters, three types of pizza, strip steak, grilled chicken tenders, oven-baked Norwegian salmon and pasta Bolognese. During dinner hours, you can also order off the main dining room menu.
Aqualina Restaurant (Deck 10, aft); $30: One of Azamara Journey's two speciality restaurants, Aqualina serves a delicious, traditional four-course Italian dinner: antipasti, soup and salad, secondi and dessert. Antipastis include beef Carpaccio, seared tuna wrapped in veal, tuna tartare and tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella. The soups and salads include minestrone, lobster bisque tomato, onion and farmer's cheese, and a watermelon, tomato and basil salad. Entrees include mushroom risotto with duck confit, grilled garlic shrimp, eggplant roulade and sole with tomato risotto, among other options. For desert, we recommend the flourless chocolate torte, the limoncello souffle and the tiramisu. As with the rest of the restaurants onboard Azamara Journey, the dress code at Aqualina is casual; only jeans, shorts and bathing suit tops are unacceptable. Open for dinner; reservations are recommended but not required.
Prime C Restaurant (Deck 10, aft); $30: The ship's steakhouse, the second of Journey's speciality restaurants, is paradise for meat lovers, with everything from lamb and veal to five cuts of steak, all cooked to specification. Diners generally put their meals here in the top 5 steakhouse dinners they've had. Even vegetarians can enjoy a good meal with a tasty vegetable enchilada on the entree menu and a large selection of sides -- including delicious creamed spinach. The four-course meal includes a starter, soup or salad, entree and dessert, as well as an unlimited number of sides. Menu items include (but are not limited to): tuna tartare with popcorn shrimp, roasted beet and arugula salad, herb-coated rack of lamb, T-bone and ribeye steak, veal tenderloin, filet mignon, Cajun-spiced grilled swordfish, vegetable enchilada and chateaubriand for two. Sides include potato hash, zucchini pancakes, creamed spinach, sauteed or steamed vegetables, Belgian endives with ham and cheese as well as steak fries. Open for dinner; reservations are highly recommended.
Chef's Table; $95: Usually held in the front area of Prime C, the Chef's Table dinner is offered several times per cruise, with a rotating menu (there are three in total) and accompanying wines. The five-course French menu includes tuna tartare nicoise, smoked potato leek soup, scallops, filet of beef or seared sea bass and crunchy apple and pear fusion for dessert. On the Italy menu, you'll find chilled crab Panzanella salad, celery and turnip soup, house-made black pepper tagliatelle, roasted veal tenderloin or olive oil poached halibut and chocolate amaretto panna cotta. The third menu, California, features lobster and avocado salad, smoked tomato veloute soup, surf and turf, herb-roasted prime Angus New York strip loin or potato-crusted sea bass and macadamia nut chocolate mud pie. Chef's Table is always hosted by either a senior officer or one of the ship's guest speakers. Reservations are required and can be made at the guest services desk or through the concierge.
Azamara Journey is a ship designed primarily with couples in mind; cabins are roomy enough for two people, but even some of the suites (notably, Club Continent Suites) will feel tight with a third person. Staterooms are divided into four basic types: inside, oceanview, balcony and suites, with 70 percent falling into a balcony or higher category.
All rooms, regardless of category, come with a 40- to 55-inch flat-screen TV, writing desk, two bedside tables, two European and two North American outlets, minibar with complimentary soda and beer, safe and hairdryer. All cabins have two USB chargers; in all non-suite cabins, they can be found underneath the reading lights on each side of the bed. Most cabins feature two beds that can convert into one queen-size bed, and many also have sofa beds. TVs have some international stations, a movie channel and an interactive menu through which you can learn about shore excursions, view your onboard balance and browse the day's dining room menu.
Amenities in all cabins include Egyptian cotton bed linens, terrycloth bathrobes and slippers, welcome fruit basket, free Azamara-branded tote bag and an umbrella and binoculars for use during the sailing.
Cabin decor, virtually all new as of January 2016 (only the cherry wood writing desk, closet and bar cabinet are leftovers), is dominated by neutral shades of cream, grey and beige, giving the rooms a crisp, modern look. One worry, cited by several cruisers, is that the light colours could soil more easily; the hotel director on our ship said crew were already finding they needed to shampoo the carpets in public spaces more frequently to keep the lighter colours looking clean.
Bathrooms for all cabins (with the exception of suites) are on the small side, with a storage ledge under the sink, a couple of small shelves above the toilet, a magnifying makeup mirror (If you're short you might have to stand on your tip-toes to use it) and a tiny shower with a curtain. New ceramic floor tiling mimics wood flooring.
Interior: Azamara Journey has 26 windowless Club Interior staterooms, measuring 158 square feet. Accessible interiors are 237 square feet. Some interior cabins have sofas, though most do not. Storage space in these cabins can be tight for a couple. If you've got lots of items that need to be hung, consider bringing hangers with you. Extra hangers provided by room stewards will be wire.
Oceanview: Azamara Journey has 73 Club Oceanview cabins, in three categories: obstructed view, which are 143 square feet in size, and porthole and picture windows, both of which are 170 square feet. Accessible oceanview cabins are 255 square feet. Oceanview cabins feature tiny sitting areas with a table and either an armchair, a sofa or a sofa bed; connecting rooms are available. As with interior rooms, storage space might be tight. Four category 04 oceanview cabins (6004, 6005, 7006, 7007) are extra big at 200 square feet, the same size as a balcony cabin when combined with its balcony.
Balcony: The 200 Club Veranda cabins outnumber all other cabin types on Azamara Journey. Standard Club Veranda cabins are 175 square feet, with 40-square-foot balconies, while Deluxe Verandas are the same size inside but have balconies of 46 to 64 square feet. As with interior and oceanview rooms, some balcony cabins (both types) have sofas; others have armchairs. A handful has sofas that convert into beds. Storage space, particularly hanging space in the closet, can be a bit tight. Balconies feature a table and two wicker chairs.
Suite: Azamara Journey has 46 suites, divided into four types: Continent, Spa, Ocean and World Owners Suite passengers receive a variety of perks, including English butler service, priority check-in and departure, free dining in speciality restaurants, complimentary garment pressing of two items, afternoon canapes, welcome bottle of sparkling wine and a wet bar setup that includes one 375 millilitre bottle each of Stolichnaya Vodka, Bacardi Gold Rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin and Johnnie Walker Red Label Scotch, plus cranberry and orange juice.
Other VIP perks for only the top 10 suites include complimentary access to the spa deck, priority seating at the AzAmazing Evening, a private cocktail party and a "best of the best" dinner, held in the ship's Drawing Room once per cruise, with the captain and other officers.
Continent Suite: Each of the 32 Deck 8 Club Continent Suites is 266 square feet with a 60-square-foot balcony. Closets are the same size as in balcony rooms, but storage space is expanded with a long bank of deep drawers. The sitting area features a table, chair and either an armchair or sofa. Flat-screen TVs are 55 inches instead of 40 inches, and the mirror above the writing desk is lighted; USB chargers are hidden along the side of the desk next to the balcony. Despite their larger size, not all Club Continent Suites have sofas. Port-side Club Continent Suites have a bathtub and sofa bed; starboard cabins have a shower (with glass door) and an armchair.
Spa Suite: Added during the 2016 refurbishment, Azamara Journey's two spa suites are located on Deck 9 in a private corridor next to the spa. Measuring 357 square feet, with 53-square-foot balconies, the Spa suites each feature a beautiful oversized bathroom with his and her sinks, a glass-enclosed whirlpool bathtub and a separate shower with rain head and two body jets. Despite having two beds that can convert into one queen-size bed and a sofa bed, the room is not intended for anyone other than couples (remember the whirlpool and shower are glass-enclosed and visible from the bedroom area). Other amenities in the room are a 55-inch flat-screen TV, full selection of glassware for drinks and piped-in spa music on demand. There is plenty of storage, including a walk-in closet and drawers in the bedroom and bathroom. Suitcases do not fit underneath the bed and need to be stored in the closet.
Ocean Suite: Located on decks 6 and 7, all the way at the front of the ship, the four Club Ocean Suites range from 440 to 501 square feet with spacious 233-square-foot balconies. These cabins are true suites with a master bedroom, separate living room, walk-in dressing room with vanity and ample closet space. The master bedroom features a king-size bed, 40-inch flat-screen TV and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors leading to the balcony. The living room features a 55-inch flat-screen TV and sliding glass doors that also lead to the balcony. The marble master bath has a tub and shower. The enlarged balcony has a table with two chairs and two loungers.
World Owner's Suite: The six Club World Owner's Suites, located on decks 6, 7 and 8 at the back of the ship, measure 560 square feet with 233-square-foot balconies. World Owner's Suites have all the same features as Ocean Suites.
Baby boomers, older Gen Xers and foodies who prize destination immersion and experiences rather than things
Big-ship cruisers looking for lots of onboard activities and late-night parties
Azamara primarily attracts baby boomers who are active and well-travelled, and looking for port-intensive itineraries that include marquee cities and offbeat places. About 60 percent come from North America, 18 percent from the U.K., 11 percent from Australia and New Zealand, and the remainder from the rest of the world.
Yes and no. The dress code does prohibit bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps, bathing suits and shorts in the dining room or speciality restaurants, and jeans are not permitted anywhere after 6 p.m., but formal wear is never required. In general, most women wear sundresses and trouser and blouse outfits in the evening, while men will put on nice pants and collared shirts. In the casual Windows Cafe, cruisers can dress more casually even at dinner but are always required to wear shoes and a cover-up or shirt.
No, but the fare is semi-inclusive, with items like select standard spirits, international beers and wines, gratuities, bottled water, soft drinks, speciality coffees and teas, self-service laundry, shuttle service to and from port communities (where available) and concierge services for personal guidance and reservations all included. All cruises, except transatlantic and transpacific sailings, also include one special evening shore excursion, referred to as an AzAmazing Evening, a private onshore experience that is specially arranged by the cruise line for its passengers. On top of all the standard inclusions, suite passengers also receive English butler service and free dining in speciality restaurants. Extra costs include speciality dining, shore excursions, Wi-Fi, spa treatments and retail store purchases.
Azamara's shoreside activities are the real attention-getters. Shore excursions are divided into different types (Taste Local, Bike Local, Meet Local) and often sell out. Many passengers take advantage of overnight excursion options to inland cities like Berlin, Madrid and Moscow or to UNESCO World Heritage sites like Bagan and Angkor Wat that require full days or longer. In the evening, passengers gather for shows, one of which is an at-sea version of New York supper club and cabaret, Feinstein's 54 Below with Broadway talent, along with local dancers and musicians from the destinations. Enrichment lectures with the World Wildlife Fund Guest Speaker Series are well attended, and foodies hit the culinary demonstrations and wine tastings. There are ship parties, like ABBA Night, dancing in the Living Room and occasionally karaoke, but destination immersion rules.
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When you’re ready to embark on a journey with Azamara®, be sure to pack your bags and leave the phrase, "Check, please," at home. When you travel with us, pretty much everything you could ever want is included, and amenities increase with each level of stateroom.