Many cruise ships boast of being luxurious but the truth is, not all live up to the advertisements, however, Azamara is one that does. Azamara Club Cruises began life in 2007 with two ships, Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey since which time they have established a firm hold on the premium sector of the cruise market. Both ships were extensively refurbished in the last 18 months and this was an opportunity to see the ‘New Look’ on Azamara Journey.
On boarding, first stop is deck 10, home to the ‘Looking Glass’ a large lounge area at the front of the ship affording 270 degree views through floor to ceiling windows. A small dance floor where a trio entertain whilst you relax on one of the plush white or red leather settees enjoying a pre dinner cocktail or late night G&T. Depart the Looking Glass to the open deck, admire the pristine swimming pool and Jacuzzis, sun loungers with thick comfortable mattresses and matching head supports, towels beautifully presented with the Azamara logo. Meander along the jogging track and enter the world of the ‘Drawing Room’. Polished, illuminated, dark wood bookcases, wall lights and a ceiling with concealed lighting giving the impression of looking at a summer sky adorned with birds. From comfortable chairs and couches gaze upon the green marble fireplace forming the focal point and making it a true ‘Drawing Room’.
Deck 10 is also home to the 2 speciality restaurants. ‘Prime-C’ the ships steak house, it’s beautiful bar waiting to welcome you whilst your steak is cooked to perfection. Tables with splendid views over the ships side or take a table at the stern of the ship affording wonderful vistas from a wood panelled area resembling a private club. ‘Aqualina’ for that special Italian styled meal in bright surroundings, pastel backed chairs, royal blue velvet seats, panoramic views from large windows will make this an evening to remember. Each restaurant looks resplendent, window blinds and carpets to match the ambiance, tables laid with crisp table cloths, shining cutlery and sparkling glasses. Both carry a supplement unless you are one of the lucky passengers to be occupying a suite.
Drop down to deck 9 home of ‘Windows Cafe’ the buffet area, which unlike the buffet area of some ships has tables laid out with proper place mats, cutlery wrapped in white linen napkins and glasses already laid ready for the diners. The food here is well presented and offers an excellent choice especially as it should be borne in mind that this is by today’s standards a small ship thus catering for a small number of passengers. The large joint of Beef waiting to be carved looked especially inviting. Windows Cafe enjoys a large open area at the very back of the ship for al fresco dining affording beautiful views of where ever you are. Several nights during a cruise Windows Café becomes a ‘Themed’ venue with dishes from India and China. Moving forward is the pool area with central pool complimented by two Jacuzzi’s. The loungers are set in pairs with tables in between thus avoiding that sardine feeling when sun bathing. Feeling thirsty, visit the Pool Bar for a refreshing drink in the sun whilst at the other is the Pool Grill for that snack in between meals. Forward of this area is the Spa area where the gym, hair salon, acupuncture, thalassotherapy pool can be found. Also in this area is the internet café ‘Connections’, equipped with modern PC’s to surf the net, update social media or just remain in touch with those at home.
Decks 8, 7 and 6 are mainly given to the 7 different cabin grades. Starting with the lowest grade, an inside no view at 158 sq. ft. followed by an outside view at 170 sq. ft. and then on up to the various balcony cabins and suites together with new palatial Club Spa Suites providing the ultimate in luxury. All cabins have recently been refurbished in light coloured furnishings complemented by dark wood. Even the lowest grade includes as standard, a fruit basket, flowers, bathrobes and slippers, tote bag, use of umbrella and binoculars, shoe shine service, flat screen TV, air conditioning, safe and for the ladies that all important hand held hair dryer. Whilst on board I had the opportunity to visit one of the special cabins for disabled passengers, cabin 6054, well designed with plenty of room for an electric wheelchair, doors to both cabin and bathroom are electronically operated. The bathroom is a wet room, lots of room for a wheel chair and the balcony was equally spacious.
Deck 5 is home to ‘The Cabaret’ lounge where all the main shows are performed. Seating is a mix of comfortable ‘tub’ chairs to high stools at small pinnacle tables, a large bar at the rear keeps you refreshed during performances and in front of the stage is a wood dance floor with a beautiful inlaid circular pattern. Moving towards the rear of the ship you pass through the casino, photo shop and finally arrive at Discoveries Lounge with its ornate fireplace and is modelled on the interior of a country mansion. Having its own bar, it also forms the entrance to Discoveries Restaurant the main dining venue on the ship. Discoveries operate open seating with a smart casual dress code every night, an absolute boon for those who have to tolerate airline luggage weight restrictions.
This is a ship that offers true 5 star cruising. Luxurious surroundings, excellent food, efficient staff, good facilities offering exciting itineraries with gratuities and drinks included in the fare. What more could you ask for.