Azamara Journey: excellence on a human scale
The story of the Azamara Journey began in the late 1990s when Renaissance Cruises ordered 8 R-Class ships. The future Journey, built at the French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint Nazare, was named R-Six when it was launched in the year 2000. After a brief transfer of ownership to the Invest Cruise Company, it returned to the Renaissance fleet and chartered the Pullmantur in 2003 under the name of Blue Star. It would change its name again after three years to the Blue Dream, In 2007 the Royal Caribbean group, already owner of the Pullmantur brand, created Azamara Club Cruises. This involved moving the Blue Dream to the new company and renaming her the Azamara Journey, together with her sister ship (originally R-Seven), renamed Azamara Quest.
Azamara Journey has a tonnage of 30,277 tons and a length of 180 meters. It is managed by a crew of 407 people and can accommodate 676 passengers in low beds. The on-board currency is the US dollar and English is the official language. The furnishings partly recall liners of the 1920s and 1930s’ style. They are styled in a classic and elegant manner which gives the impression of being on a large private yacht. The common areas are spread over three central bridges and two higher ones, including the Lido.
On deck 3, on the starboard side only there are a series of cabins with windows (two of which are accessible for the disabled). On the ship’s bow there is a gangway on each side.
Deck 4 has cabins with windows on both sides and 4 inside cabins. At the bow, near the elevators, is the Medical Center. At the center of the ship are Guest Relations (reception), the Concierge, Land Discoveries (Excursion Office) and Loyalty and Sales (customer loyalty program and cruise sales). The Concierge is a help desk running on a daily basis. It helps passengers with information of logistical nature, making reservations and suggestions. Not far away are two ATMs for cash withdrawals in U.S. dollars.
Azamara Journey offers a wide choice of accommodation. Most of the interior and exterior cabins with windows are not very spacious. Neither are the bathrooms. All rooms have single beds which can be converted into double beds. They are equipped with an independent temperature monitor, a flat screen TV, a hairdryer and a telephone with answering machine. Most of the cabins have a minibar and safe. On deck 6, there are 18 cabins whose view is blocked by lances. There are some available with the possibility of connection to the others next door. Suite guests are offered priority boarding, priority access to mooring lances, free coffee and free bottled water.
Deck 5 is the deck with the largest number of common areas and where many entertainment activities take place. In the bow, The Cabaret Lounge plays the part of the theatre on-board . It opens on one level in the style of the Belle Epoque and has an on duty bar in operation during shows. In addition to various different types of shows, there are also conferences and appointments for excursions, passport collection and many more. Moving towards the center of the ship you will find the Casino, equipped with a good number of slots and automated tables.
The Spirits Bar serves the games area. In front of the counter are a series of tables. A piano, placed in the corner next to a fireplace, entertains guests during aperitif time and after dinner. Behind the Bar, in the corridor, there is a small Photo Shop. Photos taken during the cruise are displayed on screen and in paper folders. There are also some photographic items for sale. Continuing towards the stern, you enter the shopping area and the cozy Mosaic Cafe. On the straight side of the ship Indulgences is the on board jewellery shop, with a choice of watches and various precious items.
On the left hand side, you will find souvenirs, Azamara brand items, perfumes and various bits and pieces. The Mosaic Café prepares all kinds of coffees and cappuccinos including specialities that can also be taken away. In a cupboard next to the counter there is always something available for consumption: croissants in the morning, pastries in the afternoon, canapés and canapés in the evening.
The stern area of deck 5 is dedicated to the Discoveries restaurant, which offers an unreserved seating service for breakfast, lunch on the water only and dinner. In front of the entrance is the Discoveries Bar, generally open at the same time as the restaurant. It is the place to have an aperitif – waiting for the maitre d’s beckoning if there are no tables available upon arrival. On both sides outside, you can walk or rest on the bridge’s sunbeds.
Decks 6, 7 and 8 are composed entirely of cabins – divided into various categories of interior, exterior and suites.
Deck 9 is home to the spa and gymnasium at the bow. The Sanctum, the spa, is run by Steiner Leisure and offers its guests a very small Turkish bath and sauna. An outdoor area, the Sanctum Terrace, has a daily entrance fee and a large thalassotherapy pool with a few sunbeds. One area is dedicated to the “Acupuncture at Sea” and other treatment rooms. The Fitness Center has aerobic equipment, a spinning area, machines and handlebars. On the left side of the bow, overlooking the sea are two suites, the only cabins located on this deck.
After passing the elevators you reach the Lido area. The central swimming pool is very small. On both sides there are a pair of Jacuzzis. In contrast, the sunbed area is large and also has some “double” alcoves. In addition to traditional cocktails, soft drinks, wines and beers, The Pool Bar offers colorful fruit shakes. The Patio also overlooks the Lido. It is a restaurant/grill which has a covered area with tables. Exposed on both sides, it is open for most of the day. It serves grilled meats and fish, salads and delicious hamburgers.
The Swirl and Top is the ice cream station: free of charge and with a series of truly amazing toppings. The Windows Cafe extends into the area of the stern and is a buffet restaurant. Open for all meals, in the evening it offers specialities inspired by the culinary traditions of various countries around the world. You can also sit at the table at the Sunset Bar, on the stern’s terrace, which is open from 11 a.m. until after dinner.
On the bow of deck 10 is one of the most popular places on the ship: The Living Room. Wine tastings are held here. So too are tasting afternoons with vodka and caviar offered. After dinner, you can have an apperitif and dance. On the straight side an area with tables is set up as a Card Room while 4 PC workstations, still on the straight side, make up the In Touch, providing an internet connection and printer. After passing the ping pong table on the starboard side, in the ship’s central area, is the Jogging Track. This makes a ring around the pool area.
Returning inside the ship from the stern area you will find the Drawing Room, a wonderful library with piano and velvet sofas. There are always books available on the shelves. On both sides of the stern are the two Azamara Journey speciality restaurants, both fee paying. On the starboard side, Aqualina offers traditional Italian dishes. On the left, the Prime C excels at meat, although the fish tartare and desserts are also worth a try.
Deck 11 is only open to passengers on the forward side. On both its sides it has sunloungers and a shuffleboard area on the far corner of the left hand ship’s bow.
Azamara Journey has 5 restaurants. The main one, Discoveries, has about 340 seats and has a no reservation policy. There are large windows on three sides. These let you observe the sea and help during the day to make the entire area very bright The menu changes every day while providing a series of “always available” dishes. Two dishes, one regional and one international, are Chef’s concoctions, described by the waiter at the time of ordering. The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner. It is only open for lunch on days of sailings.
On deck 9 is the Windows Café, which offers a variety of dishes for all meals of the day. For breakfast, freshly squeezed shakes and juices are prepared at a station. Wrapped around the Lido, The Patio offers grilled dishes, hamburgers and delicious salads. You can order at the counter or at the table. If you intend to eat the Patio’s dishes inside the Windows Cafe you will be given a number and the waiter will deliver your order anywhere within the buffet area.
The two speciality restaurants, Aqualina and Prime C, offer a high quality alternative and exclusive dishes accompanied by the contents of a truly superb wine cellar. For those who prefer not to move from their cabin, Room Service offers a full menu and snacks 24 hours a day .
Azamara Journey has a casino, library, fitness centre, spa, self-service and professional laundry, 4 lifts and a Nintendo Wii station. The day’s programme of activities includes quizzes, shuffleboard, table tennis tournaments and various themed conferences. Wine, liqueur and vodka tastings are offered for a fee. Evening shows range from variety to singing – including shows of different genres and some film screenings. Auctions and antique shows are held.
A White Night is organized during the cruising of warm places, with an outdoor dinner, barbeque and buffet in the pool. One evening of each cruise is dedicated to the Azamazing Evening: a free show offered to guests at a location on land. Service fees are included in the price of the cruise as well as the shuttles offered in the ports of call even within walking distance from the center. Included in the all inclusive deal is a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. They may be consumed in the cabin and in the bars and restaurants. A selection of wines is included amongst the free drinks. 2 whites and 2 reds are available every day on a rotating basis as well as a variety of rosé wines.
Azamara Club Cruises is a company to be selected for the relaxed atmopshere and intimacy that you experience on board its ships. In addition, for the individual attention that accepting a small number of passengers can permit a company. An even bigger plus point of the Azamara fleet is the offer of exclusive itineraries, being able to reach ports of call impossible for the enormous modern day ships. Thanks to lengthy stays offered, they allow guests to enjoy and experience more in depth the countries visited. The flagship, the Azamazing Evenings, is something really special and captivating and is offered only by this cruiseline.