Have you ever wondered what club cruising is all about and if it's for you? Well one of Iglu's latest cruise converts from our renowned ski team jumped onboard the Azamara Journey recently and here are his thoughts as a first time cruiser.
Azamara Journey is not like any other cruise, the experience is more like a home from home. “Welcome home” the crew say as they greet you after spending the day ashore. Of course you aren’t waited on hand and foot at home, and the food onboard is much better!
Greeted with a glass of champagne, while your bags are whisked off to your room you feel instantly comfortable onboard. Felicidad, our room attendant comes round to make sure we have everything, she does seem surprised that we are so young. The age of the customers onboard ranged from mid-twenties to over 65's — a very diverse group of people.
The crew clearly love their jobs, smiling and happy to serve you. Throughout the cruise we were treated to exceptional service. From the chefs freshly preparing omelettes in the morning, to the casino staff convincing us that we feel lucky today, there is a very unique atmosphere onboard (we weren’t lucky!).
Each morning we found the daily newsletter in our cabin filled with information about the weather, the days events, opening times of restaurants and key points of interest about the destination we were in that day. Perhaps we should’ve read the weather report on our first day in Corsica, when we found ourselves caught in the rain on land. Of course Azamara had towels waiting at the tender station in the port.
We were lucky enough to visit both the specialty restaurants onboard. Prime C served a fantastic filet mignon accompanied by wines recommended by the staff. Aqualina, the Mediterranean inspired restaurant served the most perfectly cooked fish courses and delicious deserts. Both restaurants charge a very modest cover charge — definitely worth every penny.
If for any reason you don't feel like leaving your cabin for dinner (or any other meal or snack throughout the day) then you can make use of the extensive 24 hour complementary room service menu which comprises of everything from cheese and fruit plates, to individually prepared steaks. Having sampled the majority of the room service menu, we decided it may be a good idea to visit the ships gym. Although not the largest gym I have been to, it is very well equipped, and was never too busy whatever time of day we visited.
The main thing that made the Azamara cruising experience so special was the combination of all the small touches that you don't get with a lot of other cruise lines. Examples of these touches include; the staff handing out cold towels, bottled water and lemonade while you wait for your tender back to the ship. The free bus that was set up to take guests to the centre of town at one of the ports, even if you were not booked on an excursion. The bar staff even knew what I was drinking by the second day of the cruise, and had the drink ready for me in the time it took to enter the room and walk across to the bar. It is these things that made the Azamara experience stand out from all the other cruises we have been on.
The prices may look more expensive than other cruise lines, but taking into account what's included, an Azamara cruise is exceptional value. Its not the hardware that makes Azamara special, it's the software: the staff, the food, and the feeling of the ship is second to none.