The Azamara Journey is one of two identical 694-passenger ships (the other being the Azamara Quest) owned by Azamara Club Cruises. The mid-sized Azamara Journey features exciting itineraries to worldwide destinations, and the company is very destination-focused. This focus is demonstrated by staying longer or overnight in ports, including unique shore excursion options, and seeking out phenomenal ports of call to visit.
This premium category ship includes many elements found only on luxury lines such as complimentary bottled water, soft drinks, and specialty teas and coffee; complimentary wine at lunch and dinner; no tipping; and excellent personalized service.
With only two ships, many cruise travelers haven't had the opportunity to experience this great little cruise line, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. I've sailed with Azamara twice and loved the experience both times. I learned that most of my fellow shipmates seemed to be already planning their next Azamara cruise.
My first trip with Azamara was a 12-day Azamara Journey cruise to the eastern Caribbean, and the second was a week-long Azamara Journey cruise from Athens to Istanbul.
Let's take a tour of the Azamara Journey.
Azamara Journey Overview
The Azamara Journey is one of the original eight "R" class ships built by Renaissance Cruises. These eight ships are now owned by several cruise lines, and their size and configuration have helped continue their popularity.
The Azamara Journey has been carefully maintained and refurbished, and the size (694 guests) is large enough to have multiple dining venues, but small enough to provide an intimate, comfortable cruise experience. The staff is both efficient and friendly, and it makes you feel important when they call you by name and then remember your earlier drink (or omelet) request.
Azamara Journey Dining and Cuisine
The Azamara Journey has four main dining venues plus a couple of places to get snacks all day long. On both cruises on the Azamara Journey, I thought the food was excellent, with creative dishes and interesting menus. All restaurants serve complimentary wine at lunch and dinner.
The main dining room, named Discoveries, has open seating and features leisurely, multi-course, diverse, delectable meals. Of the two specialty restaurants, Aqualina serves Mediterranean cuisine and Prime C serves classic steakhouse fare. The Azamara Journey's buffet restaurant is named Windows Cafe, and has both indoor and outdoor seating.
The Azamara Journey also has 24-hour room service.
Azamara Journey Suites and Cabins
The Azamara Journey has interior, oceanview, and veranda cabins. The ship also has three levels of suites. All accommodations come equipped with many amenities including Egyptian cotton bed lines and duvets, terry bathrobes and slippers, tote bag, refrigerator with mini-bar, hair dryer, flat screen television, welcome fruit basket, and two lower beds that convert to queen-sized.
I've sailed on the Azamara Journey twice and enjoyed both of the accommodations. I felt like a millionaire when I stayed in one of the ten Owner's Suites on the Azamara Journey. These large suites are larger than some apartments and have 1.5 baths and a huge balcony. The second time I was in a Club Veranda cabin on the Azamara Journey on my second sailing. This cabin was also very nice and had all the amenities needed in a cruise ship accommodation. On both voyages the cabin staff could not have been more helpful and were always friendly.
If your cruise travel budget can't afford a suite, the veranda cabins are quite nice. Being able to start the day by stepping outside onto your own private balcony in the morning and wondering what each new port of call will bring is one of the joys of cruising.
The Azamara Journey public areas are elegant, quiet, comfortable, and tasteful. The furnishings and artwork are classic, much like your would find in a country club. There's no packed lounges, frenetic activity, or ongoing announcements like you will find on the mega-ships. The Azamara Journey has singers, musicians, comedians, and cabaret-style entertainment, but no large production shows.
Azamara Journey travelers can enjoy many of the same onboard activities found on larger ships--lounging on comfortable lounge chairs by the pool, gambling, playing games, taking dance classes, working out in the gym, having a spa treatment, and browsing the shops. The basic cruise experience on this smaller ship is much same as you will find on its sister companies--it's just more subdued and calmer.
Azamara Journey - Summary and Conclusion
Azamara Club Cruises was launched in 2007. Since the cruise line only has two ships and is dwarfed in size by its sister companies (Royal Caribbean and Celebrity), it has taken a while for cruise travelers to discover the small cruise line. Those who discover Azamara return to Azamara, which says a lot for the service, food and amenties, ships, and itineraries.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.