Background: 3 61-67 year olds, well travelled plenty of cruises under our belts with RCL, Celebrity, Azamara (10 years ago) and Oceania. 2 carnivores and 1 vegetarian.
Picked the cruise mainly for the ports of call and visiting Tasmania overnight.
Booked flights on Singapore/Air New Zealand, good service, food a mix of good and bad, plenty of leg room.
Stayed at the Quest Apartments, Queen Street, very good for getting to buses, walk to Quay, etc, good breakfast incl. Booked through Booking.com.
This is a long review ut hope it helps others decide on who to cruise with.
We were supposed to leave from Princess Quay but due to two larger ships being in port, had to go from temporary marquee on Captain Cook's: when we arrived the marquee was already nearly full and staff were trying to find chairs for people, no water stand was set up (they were doing that just as we were called through security). We checked through security after a 40 minute wait and then had to go directly to Cabaret lounge to register, have photo taken for ID, even though we had done this online, only took about 5 minutes.
The table for booking speciality restaurants was nearby and there was also one in Windows Cafe. The person booing ours was very quiet and did not smile.
On first appearance Journey looks good from the outside, well kept, inside she needs some TLC chairs in Living room are worn and sunbed covers are stained. Lots of rust on railings when you look from balcony and rest all around edge of balcony floor, the windows on patio doors were filthy!
We have been on Azamara Quest and Oceania Regatta so know we enjoy the small ship experience.
Made our way to Windows Cafe, one good thing Azamara do is take your hand luggage and store it and deliver it to cabin, saves having to drag it around the ship!
First impression of food for me, a vegetarian was not good, yes they had some salad items but only had rice (clogged together and cold) and tasteless Dhal, plenty of choice for meat eaters. Nice ice-cream and various taste less pastries! Our cabin was ready at 1.45 and our bags were outside the door when we arrived. Mostly over 70+'s onboard a few under 50's ut not many.
CABIN- Club Continent Suite deck 8- Bottle of bubbly waiting for us, 4 bottles of Spirit Skyy Vodka, Bacardi rum, Johnnie Walker Whiskey and Bombay S gin Ice bucket was full lots of glasses and fridge full of soda. Be careful, the red wine and other spirits in fridge are charged for! Very pleased with the size of room and bathroom. Did not like the deep 'kitchen' style pan drawers for clothes you have to pile everything up and they are floor level so makes it hard to get to things. They also look cheap! Nice touch with light in wardrobe when door opened. Plenty of hangers for 3 people, if you doubled up items hanging on one hanger.
Bathroom was very nice, although on rough sea days you can hardly stand in bath, not safe. Toiletries average and not that nice. If you are tall i.e, more than 6ft you would not be able to stand up, so bear that in mind and choose cabin with shower cubicle only.
The sofa bed advertised is actually a chair and not very wide, in unfolds. Balcony small, just enough room to walk past table we had three chairs so it was squashed, lots of rust around edges of balcony.
We did not use the robes or slippers, had plenty of towels, etc. Our butler and other room steward were very nice and kept everything clean and tidy, we did have a couple of roses in a vase but when they died I had to remove them otherwise they would have been left there. Bathmat was thick with mould, not nice!
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES - If you take part in quizzes and some other activities you get points and these can be exchanged for key rings, t-shirts, etc. There were two quizzes in the morning and two later in the day, always one music quiz. They had two speakers on our cruise, we did not attend any lectures, and an art teacher, I did go to one of the classes it is limited to first come first served and only 30 people can take part, unfortunately, not the teachers fault, we only had an hour instead of 3 due to another function taking place in the Aqualina, so everything was very rushed. They also have exercise classes, get togethers, etc.
They have lots advertised in the daily insider paper- but many are unhosted, so unless you are very outgoing it is difficult.
We would like to have played shuffle board but sunbeds were always tied up across the pitch. The usual talks on spa facilities, etc, we never went to any.
Evening entertainment was good, the Smooth Sensations were very good. The resident singers and dancers were loud but good and put a lot of energy into their performances, some of the best we have seen on small ships. We also had Will Martin a singer who was good, Mandy Muden a comic/magician who was very entertaining and two other singers who we did not enjoy at all. The band led by Tina were excellent their big band night was fantastic, shame not more supported them, most of the shows were nearly empty for second sitting at 9.30, service for drinks in cabaret lounge is hit and miss very slow, we had to go and ask someone to take an order one night, they hardly ever come round twice. The drinks were good quality though.
The azamazing evening was just that, well done Azamara for the slick organisation and wonderful classical concert with choir in Wellington Cathedral, a perfect evening a buffet was also put on for us on our return.
SERVICE - mostly good the staff in Windows do help with plates etc and come around regularly with tea/coffee and juice, some days we were offered wine every few minutes and other days once. We did not use our butler service. Most staff were friendly but I can't say any more so than other ships we have sailed on. We did see the captain and other officers around, but none really stopped to chat, they all smiled and said hello. The security people were the friendliest always said good morning enjoy your day and welcomed you back on board by name. Shuttle buses were very well organised and all drivers good. This was done very well.
DINING- this is where it goes downhill!! We have to agree with the review by Captain Povey in January. We did not have high expectations but thought it may have improved in 10 years, not so! The menu may look big but they have some dishes on all the time, they often then have them in Windows Cafe, we found the menu uninspiring, and three nights ate in Windows. The chefs recommend destination Lamb Kofta, had already been served in Windows on a previous day and was on as a special and on the main menu on the same night?? We found the portions small and Azamara, have you heard of vegetables??
Vegetarian food was quite frankly awful either loaded with so much spice it made me choke or tasteless, I have never had such awful food, I was given the wrong info about special meals off veggie/vegan menu, they do not serve them in main or speciality restaurants on first night, you have to book morning before so this service is not available on 1st night. I asked in Aqualina if I could have the Tiramisu for dessert we all had a dessert spoonful as a 'taster' but for some reason I could not have it as dessert? My main meal was dried pasta with pumpkin. The menu for veggie/vegan meals has a few starters, 4 soups and 16 'main' it may seem a lot but on a two week cruise it is not! They often repeated these meals in buffett. The buffet each day was rice & Dhal or curry (pumpkin) and steamed veg nearly always broccoli and cauliflower or salad. . All cold the only hot food I had was the freshly cooked fries in Patio-however they could not, despite having ingredients there, make me a cheese and salad roll, I was told by the manager vegetarians could have the burger or nachos. The burger was a mush of something with raw onion, just disgusting, and I do not consider falafel wrap (with yes...you've guessed pumpkin) or burger or some or the other options fine dining/luxurious, one night I asked for veg with my meal and got two small stems of asparagus. Azamara the service in main dining room is frantic, chaos and not enjoyable, and along with the food, it made for unpleasant evenings. The waiters have far to much to do as they also serve the wine.
Most veggie dishes were pumpkin and eggplant or pasta. More fresh fruit in buffett would be nice, the frozen stuff is awful. And can more than a 1/4 strawberry be served.
Sorry I could go on, but I would not book this if you are vegetarian or vegan I felt like a second class citizen Oh and two nights may main meal was served way before the other people on table as it had come from downstairs to Prime C- cold potato croquette with a sauce and no veg, this is NOT a main meal, the sides were dreadful 2/4 pieces of broccoli, liquid leeks in a sauce or liquid mash with lumps. This is not luxury or fine dining. My family did have one or two nice meals ,but other than that we often struggled to be inspired. However the pastry i.e. tartlets and quiche were wonderful especially the Canadian butter tart. The coffee and service in Mosaic cafe were very good as was the morning ginger energizer drink. Apart from a special night the cheeses were awful.
The wines were drinkable, as was the sparkling wine.
I must give praise to Philbert and Joseph waiters in main dining room, Gomer in Aqualina and also Kasih the hostess in Windows and Prime C she was a delight.
PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS
Auckland, did our own trip bby local bus to Memorial museum, for $50NZD you get entry to museum, which is fantastic and also to the Cultural performance, again lively and well worth seeing. We would around the grounds to the formal gardens and conservatory and then through the grounds down to the main road to get train back to Quay. The ticket for the bus was $3.70 which you could use most of day. Went up the sky tower and generally walked around this very vibrant city.
Waitangi - Got shuttle to near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, walked about 750 yds to centre, very good museum and wonderful guided tour of grounds and cultural show, excellent the views are fantastic. $50NZD booked directly with centre online.
Tauranga My husband did a self walking tour and climbed Mount Manganui, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Two if us booked ship excursion to Hobbiton, fantastic scenery on route and Hobbiton was magical, a little rushed and as we had 42 people it was hard to hear what guidee was saying, however it was a brilliant day out. If you cannot walk slops or for more than 2 hours this may not be for you, there is a short cut to meet guides but by doing that you miss 3/4 of the hobbit houses and gardens. We finished the tour at Hobbiton with a scone and a mug of beer.
Napier- Got shuttle into town and walked around admiring the art deco lovely gardens and nice shops. Not a lot to see or do but still there for 3 hours.
Wellington-ride on cable car to get great views of city, then walked back down through botanical gardens an old cemetery and rose gardens to the city, shuttle bus back to ship
Azamazing evening fantastic!!
Picton- organised our own tour with Mallborough Wine Tours visited 4 wineries fantstic guide small group, just 9 of us, 5 tastings at each winery, a wonderful day.
Christchurch- ship tour to Willow bank nature park, took 40 mins to get there, disappointed that half the kiwi house was being renovated, saw the shadow of a kiwi and some other birds, it is all a it rundown. The cultural show was good fun. Spent far to long driving around Christchurch on way back 1 half hours out of a 4 hour trip.
Dunedin-really lovely little town, we were lucky enough to be there on the annual street fair day, with local crafts food stalls and live music.
Booed seasider train direct with company-very disappointing, lots of tall trees and shrubs blocked the views, just got a few glimpses of the scenery on way back you have to change seats with people on opposite side of train so they get views-very little to see one side, so not really worth the money, however Station is great, truly lovely building.
Unfortunately a cyclone was in the way so could not carry on our advertised route, of course safety comes first and nothing could be done, Azamara did some ringing around and we went back on ourselves to Akaroa, a really lovely town, walked around and viewed the older houses, and went on the hop on hop off bus to giant's house, which was lovely, great way to spend an hour.
We then went to Kai- Koura, had a whale watching trip saw two sperm whales and some orca, it was very rough and lots of people were ill, a real shame as it was a lovely day. We then went to New Plymouth got shuttle into town, this was the worse port, just a big town, shopping Mall, etc we only stayed for an hour and went back to ship.
Then took three very rough sea days to get to Sydney. A real shame we could not go to Hobart, but the ship docked overnight in Sydney in White Bay terminal it takes about 30 mins to get into city, Azamara provided shuttle buses. While in Sydney on the extra day we went to the wildlife zoo, I am not a great fan of zoo's, but we did get to see 4 of the big 5 of Australia and it was very well done, had a walk around. Back on ship for the evening
Debarking was the easiest thing we have ever done, walked off at 8am took taxi to city and stayed at Marriott on Circular Quay, taxi from white bay to city centre is $35NZ.
Already booked Bridge climb which my family loved, I waled around the botanical gardens which are simply wonderful and free. Took a sunset cruise in the evening and had a meal on the quay, had an inside opera house tour. Sydney is very vibrant, just loved it.
Azamara do some things very well, but due to the poor food quality and the awful vegetarian food, rushed and hectic main dining room in the evenings, do not consider this either luxurious or worth the money and for this reason we will not be booking with them again.
As above larger than average, bathroom nice, did not like cheap kitchen type drawers.
Nice to walk around, lovely gardens and nice to stand on the beach.
Lovely city wonderful botanical gardens