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Old November 17th, 2007, 12:58 AM
nlvc12 nlvc12 is offline
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Rather than a Review or Blog, here are some observations I made during my recent Azamara Journey cruise (10/27 – 11/10/07 Repositioning Cruise). They are not organized into any particular order. Sorry for the length. I wanted to address these topics as I had seen little or no mention of them in this forum.

I’ll try to answer any questions you may have regarding these or other topics.

POSITIVE

Discoveries Dining Room seating – There is inconsistency in service and noise level. The best waiter we had, George, was promoted to Prime C. Regarding privacy & noise level, Table 65 was the best table we found. This was the far right corner of the raised platform area. It is a table for 4 but the two of us were seated alone there. Probably any of the 4 corners, or outer perimeter, would provide a similar advantage – there is a fence/decorative barrier that reduces traffic noise/problems, which can be bothersome in other areas. However, if you have a problem with engine noise/vibration, you’ll prefer seating to the left, just inside the entrance to the Dining Room.

Not only are there standard items always available on the Dinner menu, but also at Lunch you may request made-to-order items not listed on the menu, the standards that most restaurants would be able to easily produce. For example, I was able to specify the ingredients for a salad, with chicken on top, as well as a soup that was not listed.

Enrichment lectures – We had Prof. Joe Daley. He spoke on several topics including the Caribbean, Pirates, Bermuda, Christopher Columbus, and the captured ship Pueblo. These lectures were very popular, enjoyable, and informative. I understand that a Naturalist was on board the Quest* – I’m not sure I’d find that as interesting.

David Deeble – Comedic juggler – extremely funny and entertaining

Chilled soups – like melted ice cream, and very interesting flavors (particularly the chilled Pear soup).

Maitre Ds – They are amusing and helpful. It seems like hundreds of people have special requests!

Hot pretzels at the Pool Grill – not sure the Quest* had one.

Jonathan Sargent – classical guitarist & singer; while listed as a classical guitarist, he actually sings about half of his act (w/o the guitar); he is an older gentlemen, and sings familiar ‘foreign’ songs (ones that have been interpreted into English). I’ll admit some people didn’t care for his type of entertainment.

Pizza @ Windows Café, which was also available through Room Service (we didn’t order any Room Service). I managed to come by when a fresh one was just being put out…

When my fiancé was having trouble sleeping, we noticed a depression in the bed. We requested that they change the mattress, which they were able to do. We also later requested they put on Mattress pads.

While they could use many more, there were a few public clocks, specifically in the Lobby and outside at the Pool.

Computer lessons offered at the Computer center – we were offered Internet & MS Word classes. However, they’re limited to the 13 computers available and fill up quickly. She sends the notes via e-mail, so you don’t have to take notes. I’ve used Word for over 10 years and still learned a few tricks.

On Labadee (the private island), there is a tram (like the ones at Disney parks) that will take you from beach to beach – to BBQ and Market. It is one of the prettiest private islands I’ve seen.

Azamara Orchestra was good (though a bit too loud in the smaller venue).

Fitness Center – large, well-furnished, and open 24 hours. Be aware it is not shown on most ship floorplans/maps, nor in the elevator listing. You will find it next to the Aquaspa.

Specialty meats and cheeses, and sushi, in Breeza. If you have an early dinner, you can go up here around 8:30 or 8:45 and get these, or some dessert, if you want a snack. We didn’t happen to do the reverse, getting something from here early and then dining later.

Plenty of storage in the bathroom – Medicine cabinet with 3 shelves, long shelf under sink, and 3 corner shelves. The provided Q-tips are 3 Qtips in a vanity envelope. There is a whole jar of cotton balls.

AquaSpa massages – especially the Hot Stone massage. There are in-port specials offered in addition the standard lower prices available when in port. (For example, there was a 20/20/20 special, allowing you to pick 3 services to receive 20 minutes each from.

NEGATIVE

We didn’t find the food all that impressive. It may be that all the hype Azamara put forth raised our expectations too high. The quality was inconsistent, and the menu selections left something to be desired. (Of course, I expect there are others that feel just the opposite. This is one, well, two persons opinion.)

Some wait staff in Discoveries had inordinately slow service. At first we thought it might be the kitchen, but when other servers were able to move things along faster, we realized it wasn’t the kitchen. I’m talking about meals taking as long as 2 ½ hours!

Occasional sewage smell in hallways – ‘nuff said!

The chairs in the Cabaret are uncomfortable to sit in for an extended period.

Loretta Holloway – I don’t think you’ll have a problem with this entertainer – they put her off the ship at their earliest opportunity! She was so bad most of the audience walked about during the 1st or 2nd song! (I asked many people over the next 10 days what they thought of her, and didn’t find one positive comment!) I ran into the CS Becky and told her she was a bad singer. Unfortunately, this was the first show we saw! She was the only entertainer that didn’t have a 2nd show. Hopefully, Celebrity/Azamara won’t hire her on any other ships.

In the Dining Room, due to storage limitations on this smaller ship, some foods/special requests cannot be fulfilled. For example, my fiancé wanted to have escargot and was told they wouldn’t have any until after we arrived in Hamilton. And it wasn’t available until the 2nd night in Hamilton.

In our stateroom bathroom, we couldn’t get cold, not even cool, water in the sink. I was surely tired of brushing my teeth in warm water by the end of the cruise. (As an aside, someone had posted the position that they had been ill due to the water in the cabin. I believe it was made quite clear by the cruise line that the stateroom tap water was not for drinking purposes.)

For the first time ever, the ship didn’t provide each stateroom with a personal map of the ship. At the end of the 2 weeks, some people still couldn’t get oriented as to what locations were where. The daily newsletter did note general descriptions (e.g. Looking Glass Lounge, Deck 10, Forward). There were lists in the Elevators with locations by Deck, but no signs when exiting the elevator to indicate where things were. There were floorplans of individual decks only near the elevators. There were only one, maybe two, places where all decks were displayed in one map.

I suppose this is a problem many places, but it was frustrating that the newsletter didn’t provide the length of events. A movie may indicate the length, but Arts & Crafts or an Enrichment lecture – you didn’t know if it was a half hour or 90 minutes, making it difficult to plan your daily activities.

The entertainment venues (the Cabaret, Looking Glass lounge, etc) are too small to accommodate all passengers. Due to limited space, sometimes more than one activity would be scheduled in the same area at the same time. (For example, there was a lecture on Gemstones on the right side of the Looking Glass lounge while an Art Auction was being conducted in the main area of the Lounge.)

The Azamara Trio was pretty bad and had a very limited song selection. I think at least one them sang off –key.

No maps or Port city/country information was distributed. The Shore Excursion talks were only about the Excursions they had for sale, no General information. In some ports, there were maps available at the front desk, but only if you knew enough to ask for it. I think this was inexcusable – not everyone has the ability to research this on his or her own.

The BBQ food on Labadee was pretty bad. The worst aspect of Labadee was the Market. I had looked forward to buying some handcrafts and jewelry here. However, the people were overly aggressive in pursuing you to come look at their goods – literally getting in your face and wouldn’t leave you alone after you declined. Many people walked out quickly as it was very stressful. I felt sorry for them, as I realized they were driven by poverty, but I wasn’t going to be forced to buy something. Unfortunately, these people were their own worst enemies, leading to less sales instead of more.

The Breakfast and Lunch menus in Windows Café were very repetitive – maybe 3 or 4 items/entrees would change from day to day. The Breakfast menu in Discoveries also was duplicative.

The breads at dinner were unexciting and the same every day.

The clothes closet doors in the stateroom seemed to need a lot of strength to open – compounded by the little teensy knobs used on the doors.

The Stateroom doesn’t have enough drawers. There are 4 medium size ones in the closet and 4 small ones (plus a desk drawer) in the Desk. It would have been better if some of the 8-10 shelves (excluding the Bathroom) were drawers instead.

The filter in the Looking Glass lounge isn’t strong enough to divert all cigarette smoke, so you sometimes smelled smoke when on the other side of the lounge. I also smelled smoke in the hallways, indicating that not everyone was complying with the rules. I was appalled when I read elsewhere of a woman who had to put up with smoke coming from the Crews Quarters.

In the Casino, there were not always Dealers available for all table games. In case you have not already noted it, the Texas Hold’Em is a large Video setup, and the use of it is not exactly intuitive. The way that additional funding is set up is very cumbersome.

OTHER COMMENTS

All Restaurants are located Aft.

At Windows Café, beverages only are available 24 hours a day. While usually found just inside the Windows entrance, sometimes the only Beverage station open was on the back, open deck.

The Lemonade is good but a bit tart – I found adding some Splenda made it much more palatable.

Uneven room temperatures – some rooms were warm and others very cold. I recommend bringing a sweater along until you figure it out for yourself. I found the Cabaret particularly cold. By the way, the thermostat in your stateroom will turn past the temperature indicator range. In other words, there are colors indicating raising or lowering the temperature, which covers about half of the circle (from “9 o’clock? to “3 o’clock?. In fact you can turn the dial as far as about “1 o’clock?.

There is ‘No Sugar Added’ Ice cream available in Windows as well as Discoveries. There was never any flavor listed with this entry, but I suspect it was vanilla.

As is common elsewhere, you cannot get ‘rare’ nor even ‘medium’ burgers. They are all well done. I found it very salty as well.

Most entertainers had on show of their own, followed by a 2nd show shared with another entertainer, a few days later.

Lounge chairs were relatively easy to find by the pool, more difficult to find under shade on Deck 5. The seats most difficult to get were at certain slot machines in the Casino. Definitely some seat ‘hogs’ there!

Steel drum Entertainer Robert Symons – It would never occur to me that someone would hire a solo steel drum player – by its nature, this instrument usually is presented, and much more enjoyable, by a group. He’s not bad – he has some songs recorded that he plays along with. We told him several times to lower the volume on the background music, as we couldn’t hear the steel pans.

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Thank you for your patience in reading all of this. I'll try to answer any questions or feedback. Again, this is just my experience and feelings - others may think differently.

nlvc
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