Fresh from a January 2016 dry dock, Azamara Journey looks like a brand new ship. Stepping onto her feels like you have wandered into a luxury boutique hotel in one of the world’s best travel destinations. The color palette is soothing and warm, the staterooms cozy and the common areas just beg for guests to grab a book or an iPad and while away the day. With just 690 passengers, Azamara Journey offers is an intimate experience free from crowds and long lines.
Azamara has set itself apart in the cruise industry as the cruise line that offers the best port experiences. With longer stays and later departures, it is possible to really get to know a port before sailing off to the next one. In many cases, there is an overnight stay, which allows cruisers to visit locations well after all the other ships have departed.
On most itineraries there is an AzAmazing Evening, a truly unique travel experience – included in each passenger’s fare. These evenings in port are private events that bring the best of what a local culture has to offer. Perhaps you will see a special musical performance in an ancient church in Cartagena or a Scottish estate; or see a polo match in Barbados; or spend a night in Medieval Malta like a 16th century knight. The Land Discoveries are another exciting way to experience what a port has to offer; just keep in mind these shore excursions are not included in the price of the cruise.
As amazing (or AzAmazing) as Journey might be, it’s also important to understand what it’s not. If you are looking for round-the-clock entertainment and nonstop fun, this is probably not your ship. And if you have small children, you probably want to leave them behind (or be prepared to entertain them because you won’t find a kid’s club on board).
Journey provides flexible dining in their main dining room, Discoveries Restaurant. Guests can dine anytime they like between 6:00pm and 9:00pm. The menu rotates every 7 days, so those on longer cruises get a variety of meal options. There are also Single & Solo Travellers Dinners, to help connect those traveling on their own. In addition to the main dining room and Windows Café (the buffet), the ship has two specialty restaurants, Aqualina (Italian) and Prime C (Steakhouse). During a post-dry dock tour, we were able to dine in the Prime C space on the Aqualina food. We had a delicious 3-course meal that included tuna tartare, an inventive caprese salad, lobster bisque and filet of sole. The desserts were beautifully presented and delicious. The $25 per person supplement is well worth it.
The ship does offer a fair amount of entertainment, including shows in the intimate theater, a DJ in the Living Room at night and the popular White Night Deck Party. There is also a casino, which is blissfully smoke-free, so everyone can enjoy the lively environs.
While this ship has historically catered to a 45 – 50+ crowd (depending on itinerary and time of year, that might skew older), there is an increase in millennials trying out Azamara Journey for their honeymoons. If it is your honeymoon (or any other special occasion with your special someone), Journey has a unique experience called Nights in Private Places. For just $395 per couple, you can have private access to the Sanctum Terrace, where you will be pampered with appetizers, a full dinner, drinks and total privacy. Take a dip in the Thalassotherapy pool, enjoy the ocean breezes and then sleep under the stars.
While not everything is included in the fare, guests on Azamara Journey receive complimentary wine, spirits and coffee. There are premium packages available for those who want specific liquors or wines. Tipping is also included in the cruise fare, which most passengers seem to appreciate.
And if you have an exceptional adventure coming up, there is huge interactive screen on Deck 4, just below the Mosaic Café where you can get inspired for your next journey. The touchscreen interface enables guests to click on destinations around the world, specific itineraries and even port experiences to get a flavor of the local culture. But to really get the flavor, you’ll have to book another AzAmazing vacation.
We haven’t sailed on Journey since her update, but our tour of the upgrades left us more than a little impressed. For guests in search of a refined traveling experience with a small group of fellow enthusiasts, Azamara Journey is a wonderful choice.