Last month I had the wonderful opportunity of sailing aboard Azamara Club Cruises for 11 days
to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. I boarded the 694 guest Azamara Journey in San Diego with great anticipation. I have to say that in almost every way Azamara exceeded my expectations. By the time I disembarked again in San Diego I completely understood why they changed their name to Azamara “Club” Cruises, it really felt like a floating country club.
Part of why my experience was so great is due to the staff onboard. From the captain to the room steward, everyone was wonderful. Captain Tysse is regularly available, extremely personable and walks around the ship greeting the guests. Everyone onboard was so gracious and eager to please, friendly and courteous. You felt as if they not only cared for your well being while onboard but for you as a person. We had our favorite staff member for just about everything we did onboard from the main dining room to the night club. They are so friendly and kind that before we left we had to say and hug goodbye to all of our new friends.
We stayed in a very nice Club Verandah Stateroom (# 7010), these comfortable staterooms are designed in rich dark woods and tones of creams and blues. The verandah had floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors (no intrusive doors out on the verandah) and was large enough for two with a small table and two chairs (perfect for dining outdoors); it was so nice to have this personal outdoor space in a warm weather destination. Inside there is a sofa, small table, writing desk and ample closet space. Additionally there are complimentary bath robes and slippers, a safe, stocked small refrigerator, bottled water, fresh fruit and fresh flowers. The small bathrooms have a good sized storage cabinet, but only a shower, no tub. If you really want a bathtub you have to book a Club Continent Suite or higher. A wonderful bonus, each stateroom comes with binoculars – perfect for whale and dolphin spotting in a destination like the Sea of Cortez!
Discoveries Restaurant – The main dining room was excellent, the food was wonderful and the service was always spot on. Aboard Azamara Club Cruises you receive complimentary wine with lunch and dinner in all venues. I was surprised to find that each day the choice of red and white wine changed and was always very good and free-flowing. Discoveries Lounge, just outside the main dining room was a great place to stop for a quick drink and featured a very large Martini menu.
Windows Café – Located Aft on deck 9 this is an indoor/outdoor buffet dining area. There was always a good variety of food items each day and everything was tasty. In the mornings during breakfast hours they had an omelet/egg station and a smoothie bar. During breakfast and lunch the outdoor area was very popular on our cruise, a perfect place to dine in the warm sunshine.
Pool Grill – This cook-to-order grill had your typical hot dogs and hamburgers plus salmon and other treats.
Alternative Dining Venues – Aqualina is a superb dining experience featuring Mediterranean-style cuisine with many seafood dishes and a romantic ambiance. For steak lovers, Prime C is a marvelous steakhouse with wonderful and fun twists on many classic dishes. Both venues cost just $15 dollars per person and are worth much more than that.
Mosaic Café – Located deck 5 next to the boutiques is a little café featuring all the specialty coffees and teas that are popular today. Additionally there are always finger foods and cookies available here as well as an informal tea time each afternoon.
24-Hour Complimentary Room Service – The room service menu provided a large variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The service was prompt and the food arrived piping hot.
Deck Parties – Two evenings during our cruise we had an outdoor party on the pool deck. Both parties had an outdoor buffet served by the officers complete with music and dancing under the stars. One evening Azamara brought aboard a local Mariachi band for our evening entertainment.
Fun & Games – I really expected boredom to set in during at least one of my four sea days – it never happened – there were so many activities during the day that I never had a chance to actually be bored. From Wii Sports to Trivia, the wonderful activities staff keeps you going with the promise of fun prizes at the end of the cruise. If you prefer to bask in the sunshine the pool deck offers ample lounging possibilities. On deck 11 there are additional loungers, shuffleboard and a small golf putting green. Plus, if relaxation is the key to a wonderful vacation for you the Spa & Fitness center has treatments you can partake in.
Cabaret Lounge – The onboard entertainment was outstanding! Again, I thought I would get bored of the shows after eleven days, not so. The ship has five main singers and dancer who preformed three shows throughout our cruise. The rest of the nights we were entertained by guests who came and left the ship, among them a comedian, a singer and impressionist. The cruise director, Eric De Gray even had a musical background and preformed his own show one night – which to my surprise was great.
Night Club – Every evening after the last show the activities staff heads to the Looking Glass lounge for a themed night of music. DJ Marcio sets the tone and the rest of the staff is out dancing and encouraging everyone to join them. It was great fun!
Enrichment Lectures – During our voyage we had a Marine Biologist providing fascinating lectures on the sea life of the Sea of Cortez. One lecture was on how to tell the differences between whales when you see them on the surface, very handy when using your provided binoculars. The other lecturer was a forensics expert providing very interesting lectures primarily on the differences between what happens at real crime scenes and those seen on shows like CSI.
Casino Luxe – located mid-ship on deck 5, this was a pretty good size casino with plenty of slot machines and a few table games. During our cruise they offered several Texas Hold’em tournaments.
This was the only area of our vacation that I felt could have used some improvement. I felt that overall the shore excursions were generic and just what everyone else has; a city tour, a walking tour, etc. We were visiting ports that were less-visited by other tourists, off-the-beaten path and I felt the tours could have better represented that. However, I did have a wonderful experience on the shore excursion I purchased in the small port of Topolabampo – a beach BBQ complete with cooking demonstrations and an experience of a lifetime to see and touch a wild dolphin that lives by himself in the mangroves. Thank you to Azamara for providing this unique and memorable experience.
Overall I immensely enjoyed my time aboard Azamara Club Cruises and was sad to leave my own personal country club. I could have spent more days aboard the Azamara Journey, eleven days was almost not enough time to do everything I wanted onboard this intimate ship. The friendly staff onboard as well as the guests made it an experience that was memorable and one I will cherish forever. Azamara provides a wonderful service and onboard environment; I believe they are the best kept secret at sea today!
For more photos of our experience visit Cruise Specialists Facebook page.