A different part of the world, a different culture and parts of the unknown brought us to Azamara's cruise from Singapore to the ports in Indonesia. Our journey was not only a first for us, but also a first for Azamara's Journey.
My wife and I had sailed on the Journey just before it headed to the dockyard for it's reimagination makeover. As many people have written, we were pleased with the new look in several of the 'main' areas; the Living Room was quite nice, relaxed atmosphere with the addition of the 'Mosaic benefits' at the bar as well as the Discoveries dinning area was brighter and a little more contemporary. The Cabaret Lounge appeared be the much the same, but given the small area and low ceilings, it is probably difficult to incorporate anything major. The staterooms are still 'small', compared to the other cruise line, but manageable. The only changes to the casino were its dealers. But we love a small ship and Azamara always lives up to our expectations: The staff (everyone from servers and attendants to the officers) are personable, friendly and always want to please.
We can never say we've never had a bad meal, or the cut of meat was not what was expected. However, the selection, including the nightly specials and the often 'themed cuisine' buffets are excellent in variety and freshness making the eating experience very pleasing. The Aqualina specialty restaurant was our favorite of the two since the filet mignon was as good as Prime C and my wife enjoyed her lobster.
The entertainment is set in a small venue, but it doesn't impede the great shows and nightclub style entertainers. "Eric" does a fantastic job....so talented and so creative.
The ship, staff, dining, entertainment, service deserves a 5 star rating, however, our disappointment lies with the itinerary, the ports of call and one particular disastrous shore excursion. Sailing around Krakatoa Volcano was nice, but not a memorable experience. Being three miles away made it quite removed. Our first stop 'Semarang' offered little to experience, except an all day drive to Borobudur Temple. We elected to do something different with an excursion offering interactive cooking lesson with a 'local chef' and selecting the spices and herbs from their local market. Hopefully this excursion has been removed since I believe everyone received full reimbursements.
Lombok offered little other than securing a cab for a few hour tour of the area. We hooked up with another couple, shared the expense which wasn't too much to start with. Saw the local women weaving, rice fields and the small local shops along the roadside. The Komodo Islands were a highlight. We joined a group through CruiseCritic and not only climbed the hills of Komodo Park (saw the dragons), but continued onto 'The Pink Beach' in a local skiff (swam, snorkeled and lunched). This combination was not offered by the ship, but rather a private tour. After a wonderful day, our next port was Benoa (Bali). It was not like Julia Roberts "Eat Pray Love", but the excursion of choice (our choice) was Ubud's Ridges, Villages and Valleys. It was an interesting drive to Ubud (excellent guides) with many stories about their lives and traditions. Ubud was scenic and lush, the path lead us to a village with artists and shops showing and selling their hand made work. We had a very nice lunch at Kafe ARMA to end the afternoon. The final Indonesia port was Celukan Bawang. Again, we corralled a cab (shared with another couple) and toured the area. Not much to offer, but it took up our time. Two sea days later, we were back to Singapore for the overnight. My wife and I stayed on for 2 additional nights at the Pan Pacific Hotel (Raffles Blvd.) Whether you stay pre-cruise or post cruise, Singapore is a place not to miss.
Would we do it again? Journey is our favorite 5-Stars), but Indonesia was a disappointment (2 - Stars).
Small but adequate and comfortable.