The Cabaret Lounge on Deck 5 serves as the ship's main theater and is in use throughout the day and night. It's a small space with a low ceiling -- there's room for just 450 people, but the lounge's neutral color scheme, dominated by light gold brocades, creams walls and ceilings and gray and silver carpeting, saves the space from feeling claustrophobic. A large dance floor also gives the lounge a roomier feel.
While the Cabaret Lounge is used during the day for various activities, nighttime is when it really comes to life. Most evenings begin with ballroom dancing, sometimes hosted by the pair of Ukrainian ballroom dance champions who are part of the onboard entertainment ensemble. Two shows always follow (usually at 8:15 and 9:45 p.m.), with more ballroom dancing in between. Acts are not always the same, so cruisers have to pick and choose which show they want to see and which to skip (unless they decided to do both and have an early -- and fast -- dinner).
Two to four nights per cruise, the main show is a medley of song and dance numbers performed by the onboard ensemble of six singers and dancers, and sometimes joined by the cruise director (depending on which cruise director you have). As with most cruise entertainment, the singers are better at some songs than others, and the dancing leaves a bit to be desired. Side note: Several of the more gregarious singers and dancers pull double duty as the hosts of daytime activities including trivia, origami, Scattergories and dance classes.
Azamara also brings on guest entertainers for part or most of all sailings. Acts might include comedians, magicians, ventriloquists, singers and pianists. The quality of the acts ranges from just OK to excellent. On our sailing, as an example, the ventriloquist did a great job keeping his mouth shut while the dummy talked but didn't always get the laughs he was going for, while the guest soprano singer got a rousing round of applause every time she sang.
Daily activities on Azamara Journey tend to be cerebral in nature (with the notable exception of bingo), with a variety of trivia contests, bridge sessions and cooking demonstrations. In addition, you'll find destination lectures on the countries and ports visited along your sailing, as well as special interest lectures by a guest speaker. On our sailing, an expert in DNA gave talks about how DNA is used to solve cold cases, identify the graves of famous people and link ancient pharaohs to each other, among other practical and historical purposes. Art lectures can be informative as well, but ultimately are sales pitches for Park West. Sometimes the senior crew members or the cruise directors hold Q&A sessions. Activities are held in the Cabaret Lounge, Living Room, Spirits Bar and Discoveries Bar.
Less scholarly daily fun might include dance classes, shop and spa seminars, dart and Ping-Pong contests, charades, open slot play and Texas Hold'em tournaments.
Evening and nighttime fun on Azamara Journey is a bit subdued, with an hour of unhosted ballroom dancing kicking off the night in the Cabaret Lounge starting at 5:30 p.m. Light live music -- a solo guitarist or pianist -- continues on and off in the Discoveries and Spirits bars, as well as the Living Room, until around midnight. The bulk of the evening entertainment doesn't begin until after dinner; the first show in the theater starts at 8:15 p.m.
DJ'd music and dancing begins at 11 p.m. in the Living Room and is typically over within two to three hours at the latest.
When the ship is out at sea, the small casino (Deck 5, midship) is open for business. Casino lovers might find the selection paltry with only four game tables available (two blackjack, three-card poker and roulette), and a selection of penny, nickel, quarter and dollar slots.
Couples looking to celebrate a special event or rekindle their romance can book Azamara's extra cost Nights in Private Places, which transforms the spa deck into an intimate space for a tete-a-tete with a candlelit dinner served by a private butler, thalassotherapy pool and canopied daybed dressed in the finest linens for sleeping under the stars. In the morning, the butler returns to serve breakfast. Nights in Private Places can be booked with the concierge onboard the ship; reserve early as it fills ups fast.
You'll find a handful of small bars on Azamara Journey; most are occupied only in the evening before and after dinner. (Discoveries Bar, for instance, is packed before dinner, but pretty much empty the rest of the day.) The exception to rule is the much larger Living Room, which gets going in the afternoon and stays busy for the rest of the day. Spirits Bar can also get busy during the day if an important sporting event is on. (We quickly learned there's not a seat to be had when England plays Ireland in rugby.)
Discoveries Bar (Deck 5, aft): The spot for pre- or post-dinner aperitifs is located right outside Discoveries Restaurant. During the day, the space is used for activities like origami and Scattergories; in the evening, a guitarist plays light tunes for cruisers stopping to have a drink before or after dinner.
Spirits Bar (Deck 5): Also known as the Casino Bar, this bar is located next to, but not inside the casino. A selection of standard beers, wines and cocktails are available. The space is furnished with a handful of armchair and table clusters, as well as a large-screen TV showing sporting events on ESPN and ESPN2. During the day, the bar is used to host activities like trivia and spa seminars. Live music, either a guitarist or pianist, is on offer in the late evening.
Pool Bar (Deck 9, mid): This small bar, right next to the pool, is not a place to hang out, but rather the spot to grab a drink to take back to your lounge chair. It features the same drinks as all other bars on the ship.
The Living Room (Deck 10, forward): One of the main additions Azamara Journey received during its 2016 refurb, The Living Room is an elegant, yet comfortable, space designed to be the spot for cruisers to hang out in for socializing, reading, wine tasting, card playing and more. The Living Room features a pleasing blend of neutral colors with dark woods, and bold cranberry and purple chairs, surrounded partly by floor-to-ceiling windows, which give the space lots of natural light.
The versatility of the Living Room makes it the most popular spot onboard Azamara Journey. Depending on the time of day, the space can be a quiet and comfy spot to read a book, a lively area for hotly contested trivia, the go-to hangout for a late afternoon snack accompanied by a solo guitarist, or happening nightclub, crowded with dancers kicking up their heels to tunes ranging from the Beatles to ABBA to Michael Jackson, during theme nights.
Be sure to check out the touch tables, which you can use to send an e-postcard to friends and family for free or look up information on where you want to cruise to next. You'll also want to climb into one of the birdcage chairs at least once; suspended in the air on a metal hanger that resembles a birdcage (thus the name) and stuffed with plush dark purple cushions, they're more comfortable than they look.
From 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., the small Tapas bar serves up hot and cold tapas dishes.
Sunset Bar (Deck 9, aft): One of the most scenic spots on Azamara Journey, the Sunset Bar is located behind Windows Cafe. During the day it's a great spot to chow down on buffet fare, while watching the ship's wake disappear behind you. In the evening, it's a quiet, peaceful spot for sunset spotting.
Azamara Journey has one saltwater swimming pool, flanked by two freshwater hot tubs on Deck 9, midship. The pool is not overly large so can get crowded on a hot day, though it's mostly used to cool off rather than for swimming laps. The pool is surrounded by loungers, with about half in the sun and half in the shade. Loungers do not typically fill up until 10 or 11 in the morning on a sea day. A smaller thalassotherapy pool is located on the ship's spa deck, which is free for top suite passengers but costs extra for all others. The pool and hot tubs are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Except during lunch, when the ship's solo guitarist plays light music for about an hour, the pool deck is a quiet space for reading, chatting and cat napping.
A shuffleboard court is located on Deck 11 and a Ping-Pong table is on Deck 10. The jogging track is also on Deck 10; it takes 13 laps to hit a mile.
The Sun Deck on Deck 11 forward is a quiet spot for reading and napping in the sun. The loungers are rarely, if ever, all taken. You'll also found plenty of loungers on Deck 5, port and starboard.
Azamara Journey also has a private sun deck on Deck 9 that is part of the Sanctum Spa. Along with lounge chairs and day beds (including one beneath a billowy canopy), you'll find the ship's thalassotherapy pool here. Access is free for top suite passengers. For all others a day or full-length pass is required. Day passes are $23.60 per person; for the length of the cruise (not including 20+ day cruises), it's $99 per person or $160 for a couple. The space is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., except when it's reserved for Azamara's Nights in Private Places (which it often is) and closes at 5 p.m.
Azamara Journey's main passenger services are located on Deck 4, in a cozy lobby where you'll find Guest Relations, Land Discoveries (the line's shore excursion program), the Concierge Desk and the Loyalty and Sales desk. Concierge services are available to all passengers, and these can include arranging celebrations, getting flowers and booking the ship's Nights in Private Places experience for couples. Right next to Guest Services are stacks of Pursuits (the daily program), as well as photocopied packets of news articles from regional newspapers (USA Times, The Canadian, Britain Today, Australia Today). Scattered in the lobby are comfortable couches and wooden armchairs with leather cushions. You'll also find a giant touch screen TV with a world map, which you can use to explore the destinations Azamara visits.
Cruisers interested in browsing and purchasing one or more of the many photos taken by the two professional photographers on the ship can stop by the tiny Photo Shop (Deck 5, mid). Located in the hallway on the other side of the wall from Spirits Bar, cruisers can browse their photos on digital touch screens. A small number of cameras and photography accessories are also available for sale.
Azamara Journey only has two shops (Deck 5, mid): Indulgences, a high-end jewelry and watch boutique, and The Journey Shop, which sells an assortment of Azamara-branded souvenirs, country club-style clothes (think Lacoste polo shirts), perfumes and colognes, Swarovski crystal jewelry and varied sundries and toiletries cruisers might have forgotten.
The Drawing Room (Deck 10) is the ship's elegant library, complete with faux fireplace and stocked with books and cozy couches and chairs.
The Card Room (Deck 10) is tucked away on one side of The Living Room and is the place for hosted bridge games, jigsaw puzzle solving and board games. Right next to the Card Room is In Touch, the ship's four station Internet cafe.
WiFi is available throughout the ship. Prices start at $9.95 for 15 minutes and go up to $69.95 for a 24-hour unlimited pass (which strangely enough is less than the $79.95 you'll pay for 150 minutes). Most packages can be purchased throughout the cruise; however, a special $30/day package is only available for purchase the first two days of the cruise.
Passengers can take advantage of a self-service laundry room on Deck 7; machines and detergent are free to use.
The Sanctum Day Spa on Deck 9 forward, which was expanded and redesigned during the 2016 refurbishment, offers basic massages, facials and body wraps, as well as acupuncture, teeth whitening and medispa treatments, such as Botox and fillers. Treatments are well done, but are followed by the hard sell typical of all spas operated by Steiner.
Prices are comparable with what you'd find on land in a big city; a 50-minute Swedish massage costs $119, as does a basic 50-minute facial. Passengers who purchase three treatments receive 10 percent off their first treatment, 20 percent off the second and 30 percent off the third. Also look for daily spa specials that bundle several short treatments together for a discounted price.
The salon is adjacent to the spa. Services include waxing, manicures, pedicures, hair coloring and blowouts, as well as barbering for men. Prices for women range from $39 for a shampoo and blowout to $85 for a full set of acrylic nails, and $149 and up for a Keratin complex express blowout. Men's services start at $35 for a men's wet cut and dry and go as high as $129 for an Elemis urban cleanse facial; an express shave is $45.
The spa and salon are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Next to the spa is a small fitness center full to brimming with Life Fitness cardio equipment (ellipticals, treadmills, stationary and recumbent bikes), weight machines and a small open space for classes. Locker rooms for men and women have Turkish steam rooms, which are free for all cruisers to use.
Fitness classes -- stretching, Pilates, spinning, ab work and yoga -- are complimentary, while body sculpt boot camp sessions carry a fee (one price for four sessions). Personal training is also available for a fee, along with body composition analysis and nutritional consultations.
The fitness center is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Azamara Journey is not a family ship; it has no children's club or activities. Most sailings have few to no children. On those that do (holiday and some summer sailings), entertainment staff will run a handful of activities for kids designed to keep them out of the way of the adult passengers. Most children brought onboard are older and enjoy spending time with their families. Families who bring children should be prepared to entertain them on their own.