We booked this as a fly, tour, cruise package with an Australian travel company. We have cruised more than 30 times, we had not sailed with Azamara previously.. We have cruised with sister lines Royal Carribbean and Celebrity, consequently next logical step, we thought, was the next level up, so we expected, was the Azamara experience. Well were our expectations met or exceeded, not even close, it was very disappointing indeed! Worst ever experience for embarkation, Concierge at the Crowne Plaza in Chennai was aggressive and would not speak to our tour group members to ensure we did not have to wait for the two and a half hours she delayed us while she processed all other non tour group members. End result everyone in our tour group 77 Aussies and 80 Brits were so angry with her behaviour and lack of concern for us most of whom had been awake for over twelve hours prior to entering the hotel. She needs lessons on how to respect passengers and who pays the bills and her wages indirectly. She needs training and demotion to learn how to treat people nicely!!
First impressions of the ship were quite positive. It has old world charm, extensive use of quality timber fittings throughout, it being an ex Renaissance ship having a touch of class was the expectation. Apart for being a bit weathered its appearance is still appealing. We were a little underwhelmed by the lack of atmosphere and activities, and music throughout the day and night, and lack of activities to stop us becoming bored, especially on sea days. The dining room does has atmosphere, is charming, and is a pleasure to dine in! Public areas are few and shops are sparse, there are two only, with limited goods to peruse. There is no bottle shop to purchase duty free goods, nor is there a theatre, just an entertainment lounge.
Cabin was spacious, has been refurbished, pleasant decor, new balcony furniture, average cupboard space to hang clothes, odd bedside tables, ample drawer space. Nice timber finish retained, and enhanced by new decor and artwork. Horrible shower curtain, adequate only storage, rather small overall. Koningsdam, fantastic bathroom, Solstice not far behind, both have glass sliding shower doors and are spacious. Overall cabin on Journey is acceptable, Koningsdam and Solstice are the best cabins we have experienced!
DINING and DRINKS
Coffee was awful at coffee shop, it was strange as it was good for the first 3 days. Lev 9 Cafe/bistro, each day 3 main meals and roast occasionally, it is 3 star the food was mostly dry and tasteless almost! They need to transform it and make it a 5 star bistro it certainly is not for lunch and dinner. Breakfast the two times we attended was reasonably good, eggs, and omelettes were made to order and taken to your table. Gelato bar was also good at lunch and dinner. The patio outside Windows bistro was good for lunch, very nice burgers, we ate inside however as the flies and heat were excessive. The Restaurant was very good, had charm, great fillet mignon, surf and turf, venison, soups, however very poor caserole, very tough, and Turkish meals presented like a take away meal, terrible. Desserts on the whole were picture perfect, and most tasted as good as they looked. Included alcoholic drinks well bottom of the basement in all categories, no brandy, no liquors such as Baileys and Cointreau, beer 3 only 2 from the US and 1 German, 2 reds and 2 whites wines, some were acceptable, bottom level spirits/cocktails, Azamara we paid for a 5 star package, provide a 5 star package please, not a 3 star package. Sunset bar closed at 9 pm most nights and only the Casino bar was open after that, except the bar near the restaurant was open until restaurant finished, which was not late. Pool bar only bar open in the day time. Other bars open after 5 pm. Room service was good, we had breakfast twice and other meals, prompt and nice food, and not cold!
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
Entertainment provided was poor. There were 2 solo make artists who interchanged for later afternoon performances between the Living Room at the top front of the ship and the bar near the Casino. No music early afternoon and no duos, trios or string quartets. The make artists were hotel artists only, not good enough! Australian ladysinger and lady comedy act were good. Activities man was good Cruise Director is not enthusiastic ans needs to look for another job.
Cabin stewards were great, clean rooms serviced usually early on most days, friendly staff and efficient. Bar and wait staff were very good, nothing was too much trouble, we were impressed with most of them.
PORTS and EXCURSIONS
Chennai was not a great experience over exhuberent Indian officials that checked our passports 4 times on the way to the ship and on the ship was over the top, so they want people to visit their country or do they not!
Andaman Island was filthy and disgusting, and what a stink, phew! We took the free bus to the town walked around for 10 minutes, as did most people and went back to the ship, cannot see why they stop there, shocking!
Yangon is a city that is growing fast, is clean, safe, historical and we may return one Penang and KL are clean, safe and easy to walk around we thought we would return in future.
Celebrity/Solstice is our favourite ship, it has so many activities, real grass on top of the ship, glass blowing, great food, great entertainment, atmosphere is amazing, has it all! Azamara must improve to even be close to Celebrity, it is not a 5 star line, maybe 3.75 star for most of the ship, not the bistro it is 3 star!
Cabin was spacious, has been refurbished, pleasant decor, new balcony furniture, average cupboard space to hang clothes, odd bedside tables, ample drawer space. Nice timber finish retained, and enhanced by new decor and artwork. Horrible shower curtain, adequate only storage, rather small overall. Koningsdam, fantastic bathroom, Solstice not far behind, both have glass sliding shower doors and are spacious. Overall cabin on Journey is acceptable, see above for best cabins, Koningsdam and Solstice the best!
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