We enjoy cruising. Really, what’s not to like? You are provided with food, lodging, maid service, entertainment and alcohol and get to visit beautiful spots in the world.
When my children were very young we embarked on several low cost cruises that allowed the five of us stay in the same 120 square foot room. What the heck were we thinking? What parent doesn’t want to get into a closet size room with their spouse and three active children? My kids loved cruising because there was 24 hour pizza, ice cream and a family vacation all rolled into one. But once we went to bed, NO ONE could get up, unless everybody got up. Since there were bunks on top of bunks, I’m pretty sure at least one of my three kids needed to step on another to get in or out of bed.
Things have changed. We’re retired now and our adult children don’t usually cruise with us. When we choose a cruise we look for great itineraries . We found a fabulous itinerary on the Azamara Journey eighteen nights from Singapore to Sydney with stops in Bali, Komodo Northern Australia and The Great Barrier Reef. We had never heard of Azamara before but after some researching, we decided to try this cruiseline owned by Celebrity. Customer ratings were positive so we booked our cruise.
Things Azamara does differently
1. The food was exceptional. Because the kitchen staff is only preparing meals for 600 or so passengers the quality and preparation of the food was spot on. At every meal you can eat at either the Windows Cafe or Discovery dining room. There is not assigned, fixed seating so you have an opportunity to either enjoy your meal as a couple or ask to be placed at a group table.
2. The entertainment was diverse. Guests can enjoy dance lessons, card games, painting, trivia, destination lecturers as well as small and larger scale musical shows. One interesting note about the entertainment was that the Cruise Director, Eric was also an amazing performer. He sang, danced, skated, told jokes and performed in drag on our eighteen day cruise. There is really nothing quite like watching a six foot six performer skate, sing and dance in drag.
3. On every cruise Azamara hosts a White Party where guests and employees alike all dress in white and enjoy a sumptuous lobster barbecue on the deck, complete with drinks, entertainment, line dancing and also a few people in the pool at the end of the night (myself included). The night was a brilliant seventy degrees with clear skies and a full moon.
4. The people that work at Azamara are friendly. Not the fake smile and nod friendly, they are really friendly. From the room steward to the captain everyone greets you on the ship and they will engage you in a conversation. You can’t fake that.
5. Azamara also hosts an AZAMAZING EVENING at one of the ports where locals provide a night of culture and entertainment for the guest. On our night in Cairns we were treated to face painting, dance and music as we learned more of the natives aboriginal culture.
6. Azamara has only two ships, each hold approximately 600 passengers. They are often able to get into much smaller ports than the mega ships. The ships were refurbished recently and are decorated in warm gray hues. They change the itineraries frequently and often stay at a port late or remain overnight. This really allows the opportunity for passengers to spend time enjoying the destinations. For my husband and I, really IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DESTINATIONS.
7. I may be new to Azamara but we are not new to cruising. Azamara does things differently. They use technology throughout their ship, from the USB plugs by the bed lamp to photos from the ship’s photographer that can be viewed on your stateroom television. The same was true for your bill.
8. Azamara Includes the price of your basic alcohol and tipping with the price of your cruise. It makes it so much easier to budget cruise costs this way. You do have the option to buy premium alcohol packages, internet packages as well as dining in the two specialty restaurants.
9. We usually choose an inside stateroom. Basically we would rather spend our travel dollar on more travel rather than on a more expensive cabin. We also were very pleased with our room, the comfortable bedding, linens and the fruit and fresh flowers in our state room daily. Who else does that? Especially for an inside stateroom. Azamara has some terrific common space that made it easier to spend time getting to know new friends.
9. Timing is everything. Our ship, The Journey arrived at our final port of Sydney at sunrise. Passengers were all informed that we would be sailing by the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge as the sun was rising. We were met on the top deck to greet the new day in beautiful Sydney with mimossas and pastries.
We know that we will sail with Azamara again. They are not the cheapest, the largest, the newest, but for our money they are the best. They are a cruiseline with heart.