Five Things to Know About Azamara Club Cruises' Journey Cruise Ship
World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #7 Large Ocean Ship
Best for: Sophisticated cruisers looking for a boutique-ship experience with a culinary bent and more time in port
Sails: Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the British Isles, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Northern Europe
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing seventh in the Large Ocean Ship category. Like her sister ship, Azamara Quest, this 690-passenger ship underwent a stem-to-stern facelift in 2016, giving it a modern, intimate feel. But as stunning as the new look is, the focus of an Azamara cruise is on the destinations: expect more time in port and an emphasis on experiential excursions.
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It Spends More Time in Port
On an Azamara cruise, the focus is the destination: the line claims to have more late departures and overnights than any other cruise line. That means passengers can actually do dinner in culinary capitals like Bordeaux, Dublin, and Amsterdam—and hit the town for cocktails or clubbing after.
You Can Stay on Land During Your Cruise
Many cruise lines offer pre- and post-cruise extensions. But last year, Azamara introduced “Overnight Adventures”—extended, multi-day excursions that happen during the cruise. Passengers spend a day or two exploring a location, then meet up again with the ship at the next stop. A few possibilities: heading out to the dunes in Oman for a camel trek and an overnight in a desert camp, followed by lunch with a Bedouin family; getting two whole days to explore the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia; or spending extra time in Yangon plus a day at the ancient temples of Bagan in Myanmar.
There’s a Splashy, Off-Ship Event
On most cruises, passengers are treated to a free private onshore event meant to take them deep into the local culture. For example, guests might spend an evening at the St. Petersburg Symphony, check out a performance of Les Farfadais’ acrobatics in Monte Carlo, or head to Liverpool’s St. George’s Hall to see a Beatles tribute band.
The Staterooms Have Been Totally Redone
During the 2016 refurbishment, new 414-square-foot spa suites were added to the ship. Along with daily delivery of healthy snacks and a spa credit, the splashiest feature of the suite is the bathroom’s rain shower and giant tub with a floor-to-ceiling window that looks over the sea. (There’s a separate rain shower, too.) The rest of the staterooms were also revamped. Earth tones and a restrained use of metallics give the cabins a fresh, modern look, and sizes range from 158 square feet for the interior staterooms to 603 square feet for the Club Owners’ Suite. Perks for suite guests include complimentary dining at specialty restaurants, English butler service, in-suite afternoon tea, and complimentary laundry service.
The Restaurants Are Excellent
Azamara has a reputation for standout wine and food. Presided over by a silver chandelier, the main dining room, Discoveries Restaurant, serves up favorites like Caesar salad and filet mignon. Windows Café, the ship’s buffet, has a regionally themed spread each night for dinner, with a station that showcases a dish made with ingredients just purchased at port. Another casual option is The Grill, which dishes up burgers by day and shifts to grilled steak served tableside at night. There are also two specialty restaurants, both complimentary for suite guests: the crowd-pleasing Aqualina, where passengers can order Italian dishes like veal scaloppini or risotto with sautéed forest mushrooms, crispy duck confit, parmesan shavings, and white truffle oil. Steak lovers gravitate toward the wood-paneled Prime C for crab cakes, herb-crusted rack of lamb, and generous cuts of ribeye steak.