- Everyday cruising on board the Azamara Journey
- Azamara Journey cabins
- Gastronomy of the Azamara Journey
- Azamara Journey - Sports, Entertainment and Wellness
Under the brand name Azamara Club Cruises afforded the Royal Caribbean Group away from their mass business three fine, small cruise ships. The Azamara brand has belonged to the New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners since spring 2021. The company added to the fleet Azamara Onwards, an identical ship. One of the now four ships is the Azamara Journey. We tested them in September 2018.
The Royal Caribbean subsidiary promises its guests “luxury cruises” in “boutique hotels” at sea
- intensive land programs, long lay times or overnight stays
- luxurious travel experiences and stays on board
- excellent international cuisine
- dedicated, friendly and professional hosts
- best spa experiences
- and other amenities for all guests
The latter include ...
- Tips included in the tour price
- Good and changing bottled wines as well as various branded drinks included in the tour price
- Destinations that are closed to larger ships
- unique evening events, the "AzAmazing Evenings"
- varied entertainment on board
- Avoid formal clothing
- the atmosphere of a "boutique hotel"
- if necessary, free shuttle buses.
Azamara Journey in Honfleur / Normandy
Everyday cruising on board the Azamara Journey
One thing in advance: the equipment of the cruise ship is high quality and stylish. No savings were made on art objects. We immediately feel that we are in good hands on board.
The Azamara Journey is an international ship. The majority of guests come from the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We really appreciate having contact with guests from different countries. If we were only dependent on the German language, we would have had a problem on board, as the language on board is exclusively English. This applies to all announcements, the receptionists, TV programs, excursions and all crew members who have contact with the guests. Only the menus are available in different languages on request.
Special care for the total of 25 German-speaking travelers was not offered during the course of the trip; only the “Tagesrundschau”, a daily German-language news digest, is available. However, this fact should not be overrated. According to our observations, German guests with little or no knowledge of English also get along on board. Not least because the hotel director, who is always present, is German.
Azamara Journey cabins
The ship offers 349 guest cabins and suites, which are divided into eight categories. The palette ranges from narrow 14,7 square meter inside cabins to spacious and luxurious 52 square meter suites. In addition, they offer 22 square meters of balcony space.
Outside cabin of the Azamara Journey
It is due to the age of the ship that the cabin size is generally not particularly generous. The balcony cabin we use is 16,3 square meters. There is also a 3,7 square meter balcony. The very well equipped cabin is big enough and offers enough storage space. Only the bathroom is very small.
Balcony cabin # 6048
The residents of the 46 mini-suites and suites enjoy significantly more space. They range in size between 24,7 and 52 square meters. Then there are the balconies of different sizes. Some goodies such as “English” butler service, preferred embarkation and disembarkation, hors d'oeuvre and afternoon teas are reserved for suite guests.
Basically: All cabins are equipped to a high quality. To be emphasized are the beds with the high-quality bed linen, the fluffy towels, good care products and massive patio furniture. Two umbrellas and binoculars are standard in the cabin. And passengers can even enjoy fresh cut flowers throughout the journey.
Gastronomy of the Azamara Journey
The on-board kitchens offer a maximum of 690 guests high-quality, varied and theme-related buffet offers and menus several times a day. There are several restaurants available to passengers. But society is not classless on the Azamara Journey either: a distinction is made between restaurants that are included in the price and those that are subject to a surcharge.
Restaurants included in the price
Service restaurant Discoveries (deck 5)
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in Discoveries. With a fixed seating arrangement and fixed table times, no guest is bothered in the exclusively equipped service restaurant. The guests' requests for space will be taken into account whenever possible.
Breakfast and lunch always satisfy the guests. And the varied menus on offer in the evening leave nothing to be desired. The wine list shows fine wines. But the included "house wines", which are served alternately at lunchtime and in the evening, already offer good taste experiences. The various wines are served in bottles and their origins are regularly presented by the table waiters. And refilling is not skimpy either! It goes without saying that well-known international beers or coffee specialties are also part of the standard menu at the table.
Less pleasant: the chairs are too low and also uncomfortable. The background noise is difficult to bear for people with normal hearing.
Windows Cafe (deck 9)
The Windows Café aft is the buffet restaurant on the Azamara Journey. It is open for main meals. The variety and quality of the food on offer as well as the attentive, friendly service of the staff are remarkable. For example, it is not uncommon for guests to take the filled plate from the buffet to the table.
Windows Café buffet restaurant
Another advantage of the restaurant is the sheltered, aft terrace in warm regions. Infrared heaters ensure pleasant temperatures there even on cool days.
Windows Café outside terrace
In front of the Windows Café on starboard is the pool bar-restaurant The Patio, which is open for lunch and dinner. The range of food is high quality, but limited. The plus point: the dishes are freshly prepared.
Restaurants subject to surcharge
Two specialty restaurants are not included in the fare for standard passengers. your name is Prime C and Aqualina. Both are aft on deck 10.
The Prime C on starboard offers remarkable steak variations and fish dishes in an upscale atmosphere (dark wood, leather furniture and warm light).
Prime C restaurant
The one set up on port Aqualina is dedicated to Mediterranean cuisine. Last but not least, locally sourced, fresh specialties help to loosen up the menus. The ambience of the restaurant is noble and lively.
Aqua Lina Restaurant
Suite guests use both restaurants without restrictions. The less privileged guests pay a "cover charge" of 25 US dollars for access. Other costs are not incurred. The quality and service of both locations top the already splendid range of the Discoveries restaurant.
The offers even more extensive taste experiences Chef's Table with 6-course menus and corresponding wines. The focus is on French, Italian and US cuisine.
Bars and lounges
The Azamara Journey has eight bars and lounges. Sorted by deck, these are ...
… the Cabaret lounge bar on deck 5. It is only open during show times;
... the one in front of the serving restaurant Discovery Bar. It is a pleasant meeting place before or after dinner;
… the Spirits bar next to the on-board casino (deck 5);
… the Mosaic Café called coffee bar. She is also on deck 5. Coffee and tea specialties, selected spirits, fine pastries and sandwiches are offered. From 7:00 in the morning, a small breakfast is also served in the Mosaic Café;
Mosaic Café and the open stairwell
... the one on deck 9 Pool Bar. It is open depending on the weather;
… the Sunset Bar aft on deck 9 lies the outside area of the Windows Café;
… the Prime C bar. It belongs to the Prime C restaurant;
... the viewing lounge Living Room (Deck 10). It is a suitable place to stay, especially on days at sea. Tea specialties, pastries and sandwiches are served between 10:00 and 16:30. Between 17:00pm and 20:00pm, the offer gives way to hot and cold tapas. Parts of the lounge mutate between 7:30pm and 20:00 pm Caviar and champagne bar. The living room is regularly included in on-board entertainment.
Living Room viewing lounge
A satisfactory selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is generally included in the tour price. The TUI Cruises “Premium All Inclusive” bar list offers even more options; the Azamara offer is enough for us. It is gratifying that Azamara Club Cruises offers guests a changing selection of bottled wines almost every day.
Azamara Journey - Sports, Entertainment and Wellness
Compared to the large ships that have been put into service in recent years, the area available for sport on the Azamara Journey is rather limited. The pool and the running track (142 meters long) are small. There is a shuffle board and bikes that can be used as part of organized excursions. Fitness-conscious guests go to the small, well-equipped fitness center on deck 9.
The range of extremely comfortable sun loungers with thick cushions is well measured.
The Sanctum Hot Tub also does not shine with extensive surfaces; In terms of quality, what is offered on deck 9 stands up to any comparison with larger ships. We really like the enclosed outdoor terrace. It is operated by the spa specialist Steiner.
Reception area of the Sanctum Spa
The Entertainment on board is so versatile that nobody has to be bored. A regular crew consisting of four singers and the five-piece on-board orchestra organize the themed shows in the Cabaret Lounge. The considerable musical ability of the Cruise Director Alicia is remarkable. Guest artists from different disciplines are taken on board for short appearances. Azamara Cruises uses a partnership with Feinstein's 54 Below N.Y. Cabaret Club. Seen in this way, the internationally oriented entertainment program is just as varied as it is on much larger cruise ships. However, the volume of the conversation in this area also suggests that a large number of passengers must be hard of hearing.
Cabaret Lounge - side view
Other entertainment options:
Card players use the Card Room on the 10th deck. There is also a small one Slot machine casino as well as one Internet area with four seats. The paneled in dark wood tones Ship library with the comfortable armchairs is worth seeing and at the same time a place of silence. The offer of Board shops is not lavish, but the quality of the international brands is right.
Before arriving in Amsterdam, the “Traditional German Frühschoppen” took place with hearty and extremely tasty dishes. The 5-strong band on board accompanied the spectacle with German popular tunes.
Traditional German Frühschoppen - Hotel Director & Executive Chef at work
Regularly recurring elements of in-flight entertainment are the White night parties. The celebrations held on the pool deck include an excellent buffet, quality drinks and entertainment. In bad weather, the events will be moved to the Cabaret Lounge.
White Night in Oslo
Before the end of the trip, the "Crew Parade" is organized. Members of the cabin crew, the kitchen brigade and the restaurants, officers, the cruise director and the captain present themselves.
Crew parade with captain and officers
They are something special AzAmazing Evening Events. It doesn't matter whether these events take place with the Bedouins in Wadi Rum or in the National Naval Museum of Amsterdam with a naval choir, classical music and Rembrandt's "Night Watch" simulated by extras, they are always entertaining.
AzAmazing Evening in Amsterdam - replica of the night watch
Azamara Journey - Data and Facts
The Azamara Journey was built in 2000 by the former STX France SA in Saint Nazaire, France. In 2007 she was brought into the recently founded company Azamara Club Cruises together with the sister ship Azamara Quest.
Information about the Azamara Journey
Length 180 meters; Width 25 meters
Diesel-electric, 4 Wärtsilä engines
STX France SA, St.-Nazaire
Currency on board
*) The data was determined on board the Azamara Journey. They do not correspond to the information officially given by the shipping company.
Current position Azamara Journey
The Azamara Journey keeps what the shipping company promises. In terms of the services offered, the ship is positioned below the luxury class. It offers cruise experiences far from the usual mass business of German and international mass providers. The route planning of the shipping company often stands for interesting destinations away from the usual travel destinations. Unusual stops on our trip included London Greenwich, Ostend and Skagen.
Azamara Journey on Roadstead in Greenwich
The open-minded international atmosphere on board the Azamara ship should be emphasized. Most of the passengers are from the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Many of the fellow travelers are exceptionally open to contacts. One thing is certain: on Azamara ships, there is no danger of meeting an unloved neighbor or colleague.
Due to its size, the Azamara Journey is a ship of short distances. It is clear and familiar to the guests after a very short time.
The ratio of guests to staff is an excellent 2: 1. It goes without saying that guests experience a much more personal service than on large ships. The crew members who deal with contacts with the guests take care of the passengers in a prudent and exemplary manner. The senior officers are often present and they are always aware of their closeness to the guests. It couldn't be better. Only rarely did we see the captain standing at the exit of cruise ships so often and saying goodbye to passengers for excursions as on the Azamara Journey, not to mention the hotel manager.
Captain Johannes Tysse
The on-board catering is always flawless. The included bottled wines are definitely good. Beer drinkers are served well-known beers in bottles or on tap. Various alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails are also served. Additional expenses for drinks should not arise with "normal" drinking habits. Coffee and tea specialties are also part of the standard program.
The Azamara ships are not family ships. They are aimed primarily at couples of advanced age. There is no permanent sound system in the public areas that is familiar from larger cruise ships.
The on-board entertainment is diverse. I don't like everything. However, the “White Night” events on board and the AzAmazing Evening Events at unusual locations should be emphasized. Both events are only canceled for short trips.
AzAmazing Evening at the Naval Museum of Amsterdam
Regarding clothing: the shipping company's recommendation is “resort casual”. There are no formal evenings. As a result, most guests appear for dinner in sporty, casual casual clothing. Bermuda shorts, sandals and baseball caps for men as well as fashionable jeans with perforated applications for women are perceived as improper.
We learned about the Azamara Journey as part of an 11 night trip from Copenhagen to London (see also One day in London) know. In our opinion, the Azamara Journey is an impressively styled and well-run ship. Her condition is excellent. Actually, it's a pity that with the Azamara Journey, the Azamara Onward, the Azamara Pursuit and the Azamara Quest There are only three of these floating boutique hotels under the umbrella of Sycamore Partners.
Note: The trip was sponsored by Azamara Club Cruises. Our thanks go to the shipping company and our contacts on board. With regard to our journalistic independence, we refer to the chapter "We are independent".
Azamara Club Cruises has been owned by the New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners since spring 2021. The change in ownership may mean that the service content on board the ship will change in the future.
Update October 2022