Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Jan 27, 2016 - OUR AZAMARA JOURNEY WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!

The morning of January 26 finally arrived and we were sooo excited! We left at 6:30 am driving to Miami to board the Azamara Journey for eleven nights and then board the Celebrity Eclipse for another fourteen nights! Twenty five days on the deep blue sea and we get to "skip" the coldest month of winter!
We stopped at a Hardees after a couple of hours of driving to have breakfast. There is nothing better than a dark biscuit with a cup of dark coffee! I am one of those weird people who discards the inside of the biscuit and only eats the dark and crusty part! lol. 
We stopped at many rest areas along the way. These were the first of many friends we would be making over the next few weeks! Aren't they adorable? 
As we passed this sign, we were flooded with so many good memories of our two trips to Anastasia State Park and to the oldest city in America! Note the  temperature of 72 degrees! Ahhh Florida - we love you!
We stopped over for the night at Port St. Lucie, leaving us with only 120 miles to travel to the Port of Miami in the morning. It was a fabulous 77 degrees as we walked to a local restaurant for dinner and then off to bed for us! We have a ship to catch tomorrow! We have been on forty plus cruises but yet we are so excited we are about to pop! Life is so much fun! I think one of the keys to happiness and keeping a smile on your face is to always have something to look forward to! That may just be a "Wandaism" but it definitely works for us! lol.
 We arrived at the port and "she" was waiting, just for us! lol. She had just come out of a two week dry dock so we knew we were about to be "wowed" with her "new" makeover! We knew we were on the first sailing after dry dock when we booked so we were prepared for a few possible mishaps. Boarding was delayed until 5pm while the finishing touches were taking place which was understandable and was fine with us!
The cruise line provided everyone with a voucher to have lunch in the employees cafeteria which we thoroughly enjoyed! 
We were eager to walk around the Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean Miami facility. What a fun job that would be! I was so impressed with their "Wall of Fame" for recognizing employees! What a great idea!
We sat outside for awhile enjoying the view and the nice breezes and before we knew it the call for boarding was announced!
We were surprised to be greeted by the Captain first! What a "red carpet" welcome! It was followed by smiling employees with lots of "bubbly!" Little did I know that we would be experiencing a lot of "firsts" over the next eleven nights! We were skipping up the gangway so excited to be part of the first cruise following her dry dock! We are almost inside!  
Oh my! I love the ceiling and the classic style! I can already tell that she is one grand lady!
There are arrangements of gorgeous red roses everywhere!
It's another beautiful ceiling! Oh how I would love to have this in our motor home! That would definitely be a first - haha!


The staircases are complimented by tastefully chosen new carpet!
I am certain this store will be calling my name during the next eleven days! lol. Time to go find our stateroom #8018!
Our room has been completely remodeled with new carpet, new wall covering, new furniture and the best addition is the new bedding! We both easily agreed it was the most comfortable bed and we proved it by sleeping eleven hours every night except for the last night. The bed felt sooo good! Our stateroom attendant kept our room very clean and our bathroom stocked with soaps, shampoo, hair conditioner, lotions and linens. The air conditioning worked very well and our room was in a very quiet location. We loved our cozy little cabin! I loved the name of the ship, Journey. So here I am on my "unexpected journey" on the Journey. This trip was definitely meant to happen. I am eager to see what is about to unfold over the next few weeks!
He also placed fresh fruit, flowers and ice daily along with a generous supply of bottled water and a varied assortment of canned sodas which were at no additional cost. The fruit was our breakfast on so many mornings because of sleeping past breakfast hours - oops! lol.


The tablecloths were always present and clean and without wrinkles. Tablecloths add that special little touch of elegance that is so easy on the eyes. The LED candles gave each table its own special glow. The above picture was made at the entrance to the main dining room which has open seating from 6 - 9:30 pm. Note the hand sanitizer station. We were glad to see them throughout the ship and even happier to see them being constantly used by passing guests!
All of the public restrooms had soft washcloths for drying hands - one of many nice touches while on vacation!
This is us posing on the pool deck on the thickly padded loungers covered by plush oversized Azamara towels wearing our complimentary Azamara slippers. Life may never be the same! lol. Alcohol and nonalcoholic drinks, wine, beer, sodas, bottled water and frozen (alcohol or virgin) drinks and cocktails are included at no additional cost and readily available all over the ship. We are loving this all inclusive cruise! 


Delicious fruit was served to us around the pool a couple of times daily. Keep the drinks - just feed us those wonderful kabobs! lol.

It was a rainy and dark sail-away but Miami's skyline lit up the night!
 It's a lovely pool during the day or at night and is a popular spot!









After having forty plus cruises under our belt, we both agree the food on the Azamara Journey is the best we have ever tasted! The food was superb in presentation and taste! We especially loved the spinach and the many ways it was included in so many dishes. The vegetarian entrees were the best I have ever eaten, including the veggie burger. We had the "best ever" salsa and guacamole every day! The fish was incredible and the desserts were not to be missed! The gelato was always available in several different flavors, YUMMY! There was always a huge food selection on the dining room menu and at the pool grill menu too. Service in all areas was always impeccable with a broad smile. We never waited or stood in line for anything.
This is Captain Johannes Tysse who is always visible around the ship and at the nightly shows and other ship events. He is very personable and will often stroll throughout the public areas of the ship chatting with the different people along his way. It was obvious he was well respected and adored by so many, myself included! Everyone on the ship knew the captain and that speaks volumes! Of our many cruises, this was a first for us. Oh and by the way, he is now my Facebook friend and my favorite ship Captain!
This is Eric De Gray, the best cruise director, singer and entertainer in the world! He has this incredible Broadway voice that is ideal for storytelling, speaking and singing and also has great acting skills. He is also a writer, director, choreographer and a professional figure skater and has just published his book of Grandpa jokes called "Letters from Grandpa" along with his CD "Bound for Broadway!" He always ends his shows by reading a letter from Grandpa which eventually ends as a joke. He is one of these people that when he speaks, everyone lends an ear! He too is well respected and adored by so many, including myself!

As you can see he and the Captain work really well together despite their difference in height! lol. They actually really compliment each other and the passengers are well entertained by these two guys. We always looked forward to their midday report. The Captain always began with his weather report and ship's location and was followed by Eric's activity report but there was usually some sparring between the two of them that had all of us passengers laughing out loud! 






Eric is definitely a working, performing and entertaining cruise director. We saw some of the best entertainment at sea and never missed any of the nightly shows. The theatre is small which makes the performances even better because we could reach out and almost touch them! We laughed until we cried and when Eric would perform and sing a serious song, our eyes would well up with tears. He even came out on skates, which you can see in the above pictures, during the farewell show! He uses his many talents so well and its evident he loves what he does! If there is such a thing as a "cruise director crush" all of us females went home with one! lol.


St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, our first port stop, is a picture perfect island and we found paradise just by hanging out on the beach today and enjoying our surroundings!
We were tendered over to the island in lifeboats. I can remember so well sitting and looking up at the life jackets above me like it just happened today. Life passes so quickly. Never wait to experience something you want to do. 
Cold bottled water was always plentiful before and after excursions. There was always a friendly Azamara worker waiting for us when we returned to the ship with a cold wet face cloth! We are getting so spoiled to the "Azamara" way!
Sailing away and waving goodbye to beautiful St. John from the back of the ship before going to dinner. As I am looking out over the water, my mind wanders back to January 30, 2015. I had received my second chemo treatment followed by my second Neulasta injection. So much can happen in so little time. I went to bed overwhelmed with thankfulness and truly know and understand the meaning behind every day being a gift from God above. 





Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe was our second port stop on our eleven night West Indies Hideaway Voyage. We loved this little town with its bright colors and beautiful water! We walked all over town before stopping under the shade tree pictured above. It was such a pleasant visit with pleasant people!
We caught the life boat tender back to our "home." We are having a "Spectacular White Night" dinner and party on the deck tonight and  will be wearing something white as we eat off tables laden with white tablecloths under the glow of the moon!


The night was indeed spectacular! The entertainment, food, service, the happy friendly atmosphere and weather was perfect! The crew worked so hard to clear the pool deck and set up the tables and preparing the food for a fantastic outdoors party! What another wonderful day we have had!


Roseau, Dominica is our third port and the one port that we do not tender ashore. Cold water and towels are available to grab and take as needed. We always take a couple of waters with us. We spent the day doing some serious walking for exercise after eating eight meals a day! lol.


The ship can be seen above the cruise building.
The locals quietly sell their goods under the umbrellas without any solicitation. The people were very nice and we felt very comfortable walking throughout the town.
The cold fruit punch and water was a welcomed sight upon returning to the ship. It is time to relax at the pool with the fruit kebobs before dinner. We are looking forward to tonight's entertainment with Lou Gazzara who was an American Idol finalist in 2003!

Our fourth port stop is at Charlestown, Nevis and a few of the colorfully clothed locals came out to welcome us!


We walked through the local farmer's market and enjoyed the shade of a park where the locals gather and spend time talking with each other. It's such a relaxed atmosphere here.
 You can always find the cruisers under the free wi-fi sign! lol.

We always find ourselves near the water before leaving a port. We just cannot resist relaxing alongside natural beauty!
Tonight's dinner was local lobster that the Captain bought for everyone when he was ashore today! That was another definite first for us and so delicious! Thank you Captain Johannes Tysse! The night ended with Eric, our cruise director being the main event! All I can say is that it was the BEST show we had ever seen on land or sea! It was truly magnificent and people were talking about it for days! Thank you Eric De Gray!



Beautiful Gustavia, St. Barths was our fifth port stop and I will let the pictures speak for themselves! Gorgeous place!
We walked past lots of expensive stores on our way to look at the yachts!



Ricky had a difficult time trying to decide which yacht to buy so I suggested "when in doubt, do nothing." lol
After yacht shopping, we hiked up to Fort Carl. Isn't that what everybody does when in St. Barths??? lol.
I will admit the view at the top was spectacular and the wind felt wonderful!

And of course we ended the day at the beach where the wind felt even better than at Fort Carl! lol.
We climbed back in our little yacht and made our way back to the ship. We are looking forward to an AzAmazing evening with dazzling dance and opera on the pool deck under the stars at St. Barths!

The AzAmazing evening began with this hottie, I mean waiter, serving drinks and sweets.
After Eric put the vertically challenged Captain up on a table so we could see him, he announced the act. The two of them kept us laughing for eleven days!
The AzAmazing night ended with her phenomenal voice!

Our sixth and final port was Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. This was a shorter day and with us sleeping late, we were unable to go to the baths but there will be another time! We drank our morning coffee on the deck before boarding the tender with our breakfast! Fun times!





Virgin Gorda is another beautiful island with super nice people and live entertainment. We walked enjoying our surroundings for a couple of hours.
We sadly approached the table taking our last cold washcloth and very slowly washing our face and neck and slowed down even more drinking our last cup of cold punch before boarding the tender and returning to our "home" for the last time. Tear. 






After leaving Virgin Gorda, we had two full days at sea before arriving in Miami. Captain Johannes Tysse, Eric and the senior officers and crew served us a barbecue lunch on the pool deck fit for the finest and another "first" for us!
We met so many people on this cruise from so many different places and countries! We had our first dinner on the ship with a couple from Pittsburgh named Barbara and Burt. Barbara is a jewelry designer and Burt is a retired physician. We formed such a sweet bond with these two and it was hard to hug and say goodbye. We also bonded with a couple on "White" night from England. I will remember her, Mary, for her sweetness and pretty baby doll blond hair that she wore in a flip like the old Mary Tyler Moore. There was a second couple from England that we saw as we were pushing our luggage across the street. We all four threw our hands up in big waves to each other. I felt my eyes glass over as we continued walking knowing that I probably will never see these people again. These eleven days went by way too fast but I realize how fortunate I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
I highly recommend the Azamara Journey for its service, food, entertainment, itineraries and lastly but certainly not least Captain Johannes Tysse and Eric De Gray, cruise director/singer/entertainer! Ricky and I went to bed every night looking so forward to the next day of our cruise!
I hope my readers will enjoy this review as much as I enjoyed writing it while reminiscing the entire trip! 
We left the Journey on February 7 and immediately boarded the Celebrity Eclipse for a fourteen night Southern Caribbean cruise. That review with pictures will be my next blog post! Thank you for reading and sharing!





8 comments:

  1. Fabulous review, thank you for taking the time to post it.
    you have a very positive attitude!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments!

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  2. A joy to read your blog. So pleased you enjoyed Azamara.

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    1. We are seasoned cruisers having been on 40+ cruises. Our experience on the Journey was head and shoulders above the rest! We are still reminiscing and talking about it to everyone!

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    2. Thank you for your kind comments Joyce Leitch!

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  3. Wonderful review, so nice to read such a positive blog after some of the negatives people have written on Cruise Critic. We join the Journey next week for our 13th Cruise with Azamara - we were 'hooked' 5 years ago and still love the line.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments Steve Pratt! We are definitely "hooked" too!

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  4. I am just now seeing this review, and agree, the Azamara Journey is the best!
    You might also be interested in knowing that Eric has a new CD entitled "To Where You Are". You can get it here:
    https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/ericdegray
    (I'm a big fan as well).

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