Lisbon is a beautiful city with a history stretching back over many centuries. Today it is the beginnings of my journey back through history to the days of World War 2 and in particular the D-Day Landings of 70 years ago. I am about to join the Azamara Club Cruises ship ‘Journey’ on a Memorial Voyage visiting the areas from that historical event that gave the people of Europe the freedom they enjoy today.
40 minutes after arrival at the port I am on board and heading for Windows Café, the buffet restaurant, for lunch where there is a good selection of hot and cold dishes. The restaurant is busy with guests happily chatting with new made friends. The announcement that the staterooms are ready has me heading for the lift and deck 4 where my home for the next 11 nights is located. Stateroom 4032 is a Club Ocean View with King Size bed. One wall has large mirrors reflecting the light and contrast the dark woodwork. The bathroom is quite small but functional with a hairdryer and a variety of good quality toiletries. Having unpacked, it is time for the safety drill prior to sailing. Whilst everyone is supposed to attend, it is always interesting hear the excuses made by people as to why their children or spouses are not present. When asked where his son was one gentleman replied ‘Oh, he’s about the ship somewhere’!! Safety drill over it is time to relax on one of the thick mattress covered sun loungers surrounding the pool and soak up some much-needed sunshine. Dreaming of what is to come, I am suddenly brought back to reality as the Captain sounds the ships whistle with 3 long blasts as we move away from the quayside to start our journey down the River Tagus to the open sea. The journey has begun.
That evening I have dinner in the ships main dining room, the Discoveries Restaurant and am seated at a table for 6. Dinner for me has always been an important part of any cruise as it is here that meet people from all walks of life and different parts of the world. Tonight is no different with ages between mid 30s and Bill who proudly tells us he is 94 but looks about 80. Bill lives in the USA and seems to spend a lot of his time on cruises. Another couple I met were celebrating their 100th cruise and their 16th with Azamara. I was really starting to feel like a complete novice. The food was well presented, and my steak was done to perfection. Dinner finished we adjourned to the Discoveries Lounge where we chatted until someone pointed out that it was nearly midnight and as we had all had early starts it was time to try out that King size bed.
Waking the next morning the sky is overcast and the ship is rolling as we make our way northwards along the Portuguese coast towards the Bay of Biscay and our first port of call, Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. It is now that I can see the advantage of the shower cubicle being quite small, you can’t fall over in a rough sea. Up on deck the wind is sharp and quite chilly so time for breakfast in the Windows Café which is fairly empty possibly due to some feeling ‘The motion of the ocean’. Certainly navigating from food counter to table with food and a cup of coffee becomes a delicate and well planned operation if you don’t want to spill any. Breakfast finished, there is then a vast choice of activities about the ship. Everything from seminars, quizzes, presentations, deck games, dance classes and don’t forget that all important to some ‘Bingo’.
A little after 12 noon Captain Johannes who introduces himself affectionately as ‘Your Driver’ gives our location and weather forecast which indicates that the seas will moderate which is a great relief to some of the passengers whose suntans have been replaced with a slightly green hue. Green Apples and Ginger are available at the Guest Relations desk. Personally I prefer the pool area where I can find a lounger out of the wind and relax. The morning passes and soon it is time again to visit the Windows Café to sample the lunch delights. What do I have? Lamb, Beef, Spicy Chicken, salad with a variety of cold meats? The Mushroom soup looks most inviting with large slices of mushroom in evidence. Several choices of ice cream, jelly etc. and all this washed down with a very acceptable house wine that the attentive waiters keep pouring into my glass. This afternoon I will visit the fitness centre and report on it later. The entertainment this evening is the very accomplished concert pianist Brooks Aehron whom I have seen previously and thoroughly enjoyed when he performs his ‘Music at Sea’ concert. That’s it for today, read my next review in 2 days.
This article was written for the 70th anniversary of WW2 in 2014. The ‘Past to Present’ cruise has sailed, but do visit the Azamara website for similar upcoming voyages.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Azamara.