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Ten Days of Seafaring Bliss in the Mediterranean - Journey Sept. 3rd cruise review

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It was a good cruise. A very, very, good cruise: the kind that brings one of the those goofy smiles to your face when you think about it after, the kind upon which you measure all others against. I don't know how it happened, really. You'd think that one would pretty well be the same as the other when you're sailing with a cruise line that has only two ships and both of them are practically mirror images of the other. This was our third Azamara cruise--we'd gone on the Quest for eight days over Christmas and a week on the Journey mid-May. And now this one, ten days which began in Lisbon and ended in Barcelona. My husband and I have now seen three different captains, three different cruise directors, three different executive chefs, and three different hotel directors. Hmmm, hardly any wonder we enjoyed three unique cruise experiences...and enjoy them all we did, though these ten days on the Journey we enjoyed the best. Let me tell you about it.

 

First, the itinerary, which is as follows.

 

Wednesday, 3rd of September in Lisbon departing at 4 pm

Thursday, 4th of September in Cadiz from 10 am to 10 pm

Friday, 5th of September in Gibraltar from 8 am to 10 pm

Saturday, 6th of September it's a day at sea

Sunday, 7th of September in Valencia overnight, arriving at 7 am

Monday, 8th of September in Valencia until 4:00 pm

Tuesday, 9th of September in Mahon, Menorca from 9 am to 5 pm

Wednesday, 10th of September in Port-Vendres from 8 am to 11 pm

Thursday, 11th of September in Palamos from 7:30 am to 2 pm, sailing to Barcelona and arriving there at 8 pm

Friday, 12th of September in Barcelona

Saturday, 13th of September Barcelona debarkation

 

There are a lot of factors which figure into choosing a cruise even after you've settled upon the ship. Time of year. Weather. Length of cruise. Price and/or Promotion. Ease of getting to embarkation and departure ports. And so on and so forth. All practical reasons for booking. And then there's one irresistible driving force that compels you to book THE cruise, forsaking all others. For me, it was Carcassonne. If we went on this cruise, "Alcazar to Gaudi," we'd be docking in Port Vendres, and I'd see the fabled castle, the castle to end all castles. There! This was the cruise for me and my agreeable husband said Yes, Book It. And that was it. The funny thing is that it turned out not to be exactly the treasure I believed it to be after years of girlish dreams of knights in shining armor and all that, but it's okay; we found plenty of other unexpected delights in this charming itinerary.

 

One thing about itineraries--if you see one with a port you particularly want to see, and you want to sail Azamara, don't be lulled into thinking that if you pass it up one month or year that you can catch it another, because you might not. I debated on whether or to talk about the ports we visited or just stick to the ship experience. To that end I went on Azamara's website to see if there were any other voyages to our ports, in which case it would be worthwhile to devote a line or two to describing our excursions and what not just in case it piqued anyone's interest and they too wanted to sail there. This is what I came up with: Lisbon (one sailing in '15 and one in '16), Cadiz, Port Vendres, and Palamos (none in '14, '15, or '16), Gibraltar (plenty of opportunity), Valencia (one sailing in '14 and one in '15m, but none in '16), Mahon (one sailing in '14, two in '15, but none in '16), Barcelona (eleven sailings upcoming but only one in '16). So there you go. Get it while it's hot or you might not get it at all.

 

More to come though it will most likely come in spits and spurts as time allows (though I will try not to drag things out ;)).

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Thank you for the start of your review - so pleased to hear you enjoyed your cruise after all the recent 'bad press' about the Journey. We actually had lunch on the ship when it was in Southampton on the 20th August - the day that started the cruise which has been the subject of so many complaints on Cruise Critic. We enjoyed our day and lunch so much, as well as meeting up with several crew members who greeted us like old friends, that we decided after that visit to book another Azamara cruise on the Quest next January. We already have future cruises booked on Oceania, Seabourn and Celebrity but didn't like the thought of a year going by without 'going home' to Azamara.

 

Yes, we were very disappointed indeed when the new 'benefits' were announced on the 1st September and our anticipation of our January cruise has been dampened by all the recent comments about Azamara going downhill. We just hope we love it as much as usual when we are onboard.

 

Looking forward to the next installment of your review and thanks again for restoring our faith in Azamara a little!

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The cruise gods were with us right from the start because not only did we get a great itinerary, we got a very good promotion as well. Rob and I booked with the "veranda for the price of an inside + $1000 Choice Air credit" promo. It's the best ones Azamara has ever offered and I hope they repeat it again. We don't have the good fortune to live near a major airport hub such as Chicago and as a consequence we pay through the teeth to fly anywhere. Getting a break on the airfare was wonderful. Same thing with a balcony--we like the fresh air and for us, it's a balcony or bust.

 

Lisbon!!! It's one of our favorite cities and we were thrilled that our cruise fell over the Labor Day weekend. Rob got a bonus day of vacation because of it and we arrived three nights early. We chose a guesthouse with a view to the River Tagus and the bridge so I could keep an eye out for the Journey when she sailed in. We actually did catch a glimpse of her though it was when we were on the funicular, not when we were at the hotel (still pretty thrilling!). Lisbon is an easy airport in terms of reaching the city. It's not that far on the outskirts and there's taxi, bus, and subway service. We chose the latter since we travel fairly light but I won't recommend that unless you're masochists (as we apparently are). So many steps up and down in the subway! Lug the bags up the stairs. Lug the bags down. Repeat. Little did we know that this would be a preview of our vacation. We've never done inclines to the extent we did on this cruise, and Lisbon with all its hills paved the way.

 

I used to think, in the years before we started cruising, that people who went on cruises were lazy. Lazy because they didn't have to think about anything; the ship brought them where they wanted to go and loaded them up on pre-arranged excursions that demanded nothing of them. Wrong. There's a heck of a lot of planning that goes into cruise vacations, maybe even more than land vacations since there isn't the luxury of time to waste. We did a lot of planning for Lisbon and all the subsequent ports and brought with us a dossier of notes and directions on what to do and when.

 

You know how I mentioned the masochism of taking the subway from the airport when there were easier routes to take? Follow that up on arriving without having slept on the flight and taking what turned out to be a nearly FOUR hour walking tour up and down and around Lisbon. That very afternoon. Sensible people--not us--would have bought tickets for the hop-on/hop-off bus and left it at that. This is one case where I will emphatically say "do as I say, not as I do." ;) Nonetheless Rob and I got a very thorough understanding of beautiful Lisbon in our hours of traipsing up and down and around, and if we ever have the choice of a cruise that brings us to Lisbon and one that doesn't, we're going to go for Lisbon. It's a great city. There's so much to see and do. We bought the Lisbon Card and had access to three days' worth of public transportation and many museums, all of which we attempted to see. Note I use the term "attempted" because what we managed to see was the tip of the iceberg. We must definitely get back to Lisbon again!

 

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Deirdre,

 

Thanks for posting. :)

 

Hi Ed! I'm glad you're reading along. I hope all is well with you and that Rob and I have the good luck to sail again with you and Jacquie!!! We can hardly pass by the waffle station in Windows without thinking of you and it's such a nice association. :)

 

Thank you for the start of your review - so pleased to hear you enjoyed your cruise after all the recent 'bad press' about the Journey. We actually had lunch on the ship when it was in Southampton on the 20th August - the day that started the cruise which has been the subject of so many complaints on Cruise Critic. We enjoyed our day and lunch so much, as well as meeting up with several crew members who greeted us like old friends, that we decided after that visit to book another Azamara cruise on the Quest next January. We already have future cruises booked on Oceania, Seabourn and Celebrity but didn't like the thought of a year going by without 'going home' to Azamara.

 

Yes, we were very disappointed indeed when the new 'benefits' were announced on the 1st September and our anticipation of our January cruise has been dampened by all the recent comments about Azamara going downhill. We just hope we love it as much as usual when we are onboard.

 

Looking forward to the next installment of your review and thanks again for restoring our faith in Azamara a little!

 

"...greeted us like old friends..." I finally know what you mean! When we boarded the Journey who should we see but Marcio and he looked at us and we looked at him and it was hugs all around. We spent a lot of time up in the lounge in May dancing our fool feet off and he got to know us well. It kind of set the tone off on exactly the right foot (okay, pun intended) that the first crew member we met on this sailing was one of our favorites. He's such a wonderful young man. He's an excellent DJ, an even better dancer, and an accomplished photographer as well. All on top of being a genuinely warm and welcoming person. Azamara's lucky to have him.

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Loving this review so far! Can't wait for the rest!

 

 

 

Michael

Hi Michael! You have a lot to look forward to for your first Azamara cruise. Am I right in thinking you said you're in a suite? We went on a tour of the Club Ocean Suite and I'll be posting photos later on so stay tuned.

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Deirdre,

 

It is so lovely to read a positive thread. It has become so sad lately to follow the Azamara board.

 

Glad you enjoyed your cruise and looking forward to hearing more of your adventures.

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Deirdre,

 

It is so lovely to read a positive thread. It has become so sad lately to follow the Azamara board.

 

Glad you enjoyed your cruise and looking forward to hearing more of your adventures.

 

Thank you Pam. I think it's one of the less flattering aspects of human nature that we positively revel in bad news. A hundred good deeds can be done with very little notice and one bad thing happens and we're all over it like white on rice. :( Same thing with cruises and Azamara with its hapless shoreside operations, particularly so. Take that and add a less-than-perfect cruise to the mix and you've got a perfect storm. I think that's why people are more harsh towards Azamara than other cruise lines. It doesn't always start out well and if it doesn't go well on board...well well well we know how that goes. It's like insult to injury so no wonder it gets ugly on this CC board. I firmly believe, though, that in its essence Azamara is a great product and I know that the sailing I'm writing about now will most definitely not be my last, not by a longshot!

 

 

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Hi Deirdre!

Agree with Pam 100% (Hi Pam.. it's Claudia from last year's Adriatic cruise) that it was wonderful to read a happy and glowing review of Azamara especially since the tone of the board has changed recently. Everyone is certainly allowed to their opinion though so I can't fault any of the previous posters who were less than enthusiastic about their last Azamara experience. Hopefully like a pendulum the feelings will swing back and all will be well in Azamara-land.

Your cruise sounds amazing and I can't wait to enjoy every installment.

I laughed at your "lug the bags up and down and then repeat." and your not so wise choice of a 4 hour walking tour after an overnight flight.

We are sailing on the Journey from Monte Carlo in 3 weeks and I'm super excited!:):)

Keep up the great review.. love to read it!

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Great review so far Deidre - I enjoyed hitting the dance floor with you back in May :)

-Vanessa

 

Hi Vanessa! Yes, we know why Marcio is "The Man." Dance on, sister!

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Hi Vanessa and Deirdre! I was on the Journey with you both in May! Dancing in the Looking Glass was great fun! And I agree, Azamara is lucky to have Marcio.

I am looking forward to the continuation of your review on the Journey! It looks like you had a marvelous time. I will be on the Journey again in November and hitting some of the same ports. Vanessa, are you booked again, yet?

 

Cheryl

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Hi Deirdre, I've enjoyed reading your first installments today as well. Thank you!

P.S. I thought Marcio was great as the iPad class instructor as well...he has such a natural and charismatic stage presence.

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Picture time has arrived. Here's the beautiful ship we're talking about as she sails into Lisbon. We were on the funicular on our way down to the river, looked up, and there was the Journey, larger than life.

 

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Hi Deidre,

 

I'm so happy to read that you had a great time on Journey. I'm looking forward to your upcoming installments. Welcome Home !

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Rob and I in Sintra, a fantastic little town less than a half hour train ride from Lisbon. We thought it would over crowded and over touristy like Taormina, which we had visited on our May Journey cruise, but it wasn't. There were plenty of tourist things in Sintra, of course, but there was the overall impression that this was a town that ordinary people lived in first, and that tourists visited, second. Taormina to our eyes was all about the tourist. As lovely a town as it was, it didn't seem to have any purpose but to exhibit itself to visitors. It was refreshing to visit Sintra which had such a nice balance of tourists and residents.

 

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This is the Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem, a neighborhood in Lisbon. It's a flabbergastingly beautiful building, especially if you admire architectural detail. There's so much artistry etched into the stone walls of the monastery. This photo looks out to the cloister which was begun in the early 1500s. It was a goosebump moment when a plane flew overhead. Just think of it, the juxtaposition of being in a space that is centuries old, still intact, still awe-inspiring, and above you flies a miracle of modern technology. Quite the thing.

 

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Useful information for a summertime traveler. It's HOT HOT HOT in Lisbon and the Mediterranean. You can leave your hotel /cabin the morning with a nice cool water bottle and it's guaranteed to be empty before noon. What to do? The obvious choice is to go to a grocer and buy another bottle but you don't necessarily need to do that because there are fountains and the water is perfectly potable and cool. And free and handy. The general rule of thumb is that if the water spouts from a lion's head such as this one here, it's for drinking. Go ahead and fill 'er up.

 

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Lisbon is a hilly place. Understatement of the year. There is one main requirement for Lisbon. Shoes. Flat comfortable walking shoes. Without them you will never see Lisbon as it should be seen. Lisbon rewards the walkers in so many ways. It's worth your while to stretch the old muscles and forge ahead. Truly! Yes, I know you're looking at this photo thinking that's one overwhelming stairway sidewalk. What's to love about that except a lot of calories burned at the expense of blisters and aching knees. I'll tell you why you want to climb those stairs: food and drink. You want to burn those calories! Lisbon is the city that has given the world Pasteis de Belem, those delectable and unduplicatable custard filled tarts. And Ginjinha, the sweet liqueur made from sour cherries. Heavenly gastronomic treats that you will not want to miss out on while you're in Lisbon and if you climb those stairs you can partake as often as you'd like. ;)

 

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In the charming town of Sintra we visited an estate called Quinta da Regaleira. To call it eccentric is to be modest in your description. It is, in the words of a German tourist we met that day, "Harry Potter meets Alice in Wonderland." It's a wildly imaginative place like none you've ever seen, and it's mostly overlooked in favor of better known sites in Sintra like the Pena Palace, Sintra National Palace, the Moorish Castle and more. Maybe it's just a matter of not having enough time. Most tourists--like us--do Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon. That being the case, most people go for the big guns first and Quinta da Regaleira gets placed at the back of the line. Shame really, because there are treasures to see like this cistern, which is not really a cistern at all, but "an initiation well." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinta_da_Regaleira

 

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Hi Michael! You have a lot to look forward to for your first Azamara cruise. Am I right in thinking you said you're in a suite? We went on a tour of the Club Ocean Suite and I'll be posting photos later on so stay tuned.

 

 

 

Your great way with words and amazing photos are getting me really excited about our Azamara cruise (80-something days away!!). Yes, we booked a Club Continent Suite. Looking forward to continuing this review of yours!

 

 

 

Michael

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Hi Deirdre!

Agree with Pam 100% (Hi Pam.. it's Claudia from last year's Adriatic cruise) that it was wonderful to read a happy and glowing review of Azamara especially since the tone of the board has changed recently. Everyone is certainly allowed to their opinion though so I can't fault any of the previous posters who were less than enthusiastic about their last Azamara experience. Hopefully like a pendulum the feelings will swing back and all will be well in Azamara-land.

Your cruise sounds amazing and I can't wait to enjoy every installment.

I laughed at your "lug the bags up and down and then repeat." and your not so wise choice of a 4 hour walking tour after an overnight flight.

We are sailing on the Journey from Monte Carlo in 3 weeks and I'm super excited!:):)

Keep up the great review.. love to read it!

 

Thank you for your kind words. And how lucky to be on the Journey in Monte Carlo! We've never been to that city but everyone I know who has been has said it's pretty spectacular. More luxury in view than your eyeballs can take in. ;)

 

Hi Vanessa and Deirdre! I was on the Journey with you both in May! Dancing in the Looking Glass was great fun! And I agree, Azamara is lucky to have Marcio.

I am looking forward to the continuation of your review on the Journey! It looks like you had a marvelous time. I will be on the Journey again in November and hitting some of the same ports. Vanessa, are you booked again, yet?

 

Cheryl

 

Hi Cheryl! You'll be going to Valencia, right? There's a complimentary shuttle that runs every 30 minutes and drops you off downtown at Pintor Lopez street, which is right at the edge of the old medieval quarter so it's a really handy location for sightseeing. We were there two days so one day we did our own thing and the other we went on the ships excursion "Valencia and the San Jose Caves." If you've not made any plans, I'd suggest this one in a heartbeat. The cave has an underground river and that's what it's all about--a boat ride through. Really really interesting and lovely. http://www.spain.info/en_US/que-quieres/arte/monumentos/castellon/cueva_riosubterraneo_castellon.html

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Rob and I took the bus to the neighborhood of Belem where we saw the Monastery (photo above) and also a coach museum. To be honest, we visited only because it was there and because it was included with our Lisbon Card. I love getting passes like the Card! No fumbling through the pockets for loose change for the tram; just show the card. No wondering if a museum is worth the 10 euros admission; just show the card. You like it, you stay. You don't, you move onto the next attraction. It's such a stress free way to explore a place and a worthy investment. I don't think we used up the full value of the pass but I don't care. The intangible value of ease-of-use made it work for us. http://www.golisbon.com/Lisboa-Card/

 

The National Coach Museum is a hidden gem of Belem. Wow. If you think the fascination with wheels is a modern thing, wait until you see the "muscle cars" of yesteryear. The museum holds an enormous collection of royal coaches from several centuries. I thought a coach was a coach was a coach. Wrong. They're just like cars! Inasmuch as the Model T of 1908 is a different animal from the Ford Mustang of 1968, so is the coach of King XXX in 1608 to the coach of Queen XXX in 1668. Chassis styles varied through the year as did exterior and interior decor. It was so interesting to see it all and if that weren't enough, the building housing the coaches is beautiful in and of its own right. The National Coach Museum was a definite hit with us.

 

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Three days in Lisbon flew by for us and finally it was time to pack up and get ourselves to the ship. One thing that Azamara truly delivers on is its promise to get you as close to the action as humanely possible. We've been to Lisbon before on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and both times we docked closer to Belem than Lisbon. The Azamara Journey, in contrast, was parked right at the foot of the city. It was marvelous! We took a taxi to the port, boarded, had lunch and a drink, and at 1:30 pm dropped our hand bags in our cabin and went for a last minute stroll in the city. It took us all of 25 minutes to walk from the pier to Rossio Square where I bought a beautiful pair of sandals for sightseeing. Thank you Azamara for getting me so close to the shopping! :D

 

The Journey docked opposite the Military Museum, which is the building you see in the left hand of my photo. http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/military-museum.html

 

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Thank you for your kind words. And how lucky to be on the Journey in Monte Carlo! We've never been to that city but everyone I know who has been has said it's pretty spectacular. More luxury in view than your eyeballs can take in. ;)

 

 

 

Hi Cheryl! You'll be going to Valencia, right? There's a complimentary shuttle that runs every 30 minutes and drops you off downtown at Pintor Lopez street, which is right at the edge of the old medieval quarter so it's a really handy location for sightseeing. We were there two days so one day we did our own thing and the other we went on the ships excursion "Valencia and the San Jose Caves." If you've not made any plans, I'd suggest this one in a heartbeat. The cave has an underground river and that's what it's all about--a boat ride through. Really really interesting and lovely. http://www.spain.info/en_US/que-quieres/arte/monumentos/castellon/cueva_riosubterraneo_castellon.html

 

Thank you for taking the time to post your review. Especially the photos.:D

Very entertaining.

 

And I also appreciate the information about Valencia since we will be there soon.

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Thank you for taking the time to post your review. Especially the photos.:D

Very entertaining.

 

And I also appreciate the information about Valencia since we will be there soon.

 

Thank you! The photos were making me tear my hair out. They're on my Flickr account which I used with no problem whatsoever when I wrote my December Quest report. Since then they've changed the format and all I can say is that it's a labor of love to include them in any Cruise Critic posts. However I can't not put them in because my eyes glaze over when I read long reports with nothing but text...:eek:

 

Rob and I love tradition. Or maybe we're just creatures of habit. In any event, the first time we ever boarded an Azamara ship we ended up at the pool deck port side for lunch and ever since, that's where we make a beeline. Now this is what the outdoor dining area on Deck 9 usually looks like (photo courtesy of Librarylady19, from her May Journey trip report).

 

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...and this is how it looked when we boarded:

 

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A little strange, don't you think, to have what's obviously indoor chairs and portable fold-up tables set out? However, there was indeed a method to the madness and all was revealed when we arrived in Barcelona at the end our cruise.

 

We had a good grilled lunch, same as we always do. A waiter came by our table to tell us about the beverage package upgrades but we passed on the opportunity. We'd had the package in May and found it more of a nuisance than anything else. Sure, it was nice to have so many more beers and cocktails to choose from, but it also meant that we had to carry our sea passes around with us at all times. This was fine for Rob but I never carry my pass. I can't be bothered. He keeps mine in his pocket and it's never been an issue except when we had the beverage package: no sea pass in your pocket; no drinkie in your hand. If you can't show your pass with the upgrade sticker on it, you must pay for your drink. End of story. I'd rather go with the included offerings and forgo the show-me-your-pass routine.

 

There was absolutely no pressure to upgrade to a beverage package (or any other package for that matter). We were asked upon boarding and that was it, never again. It was all very relaxed.

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And now, sail-away! We've been to Lisbon three times now on a ship and the thrill of sailing under the 25th of April Bridge never lessens. Cooler than cool.

 

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Our Meet & Mingle was held at 5:30 pm in the Looking Glass on Deck 10. The announcement was in our Pursuits. It was a great M&M. Tony Markey, the Cruise Director, hosted and we passed the mike around and introduced ourselves as waiters circulated with trays of goodies for us to enjoy. I remarked that I started the Roll Call and much to my surprise several people actually thanked me for doing so. Wow! that's never happened before. It was very nice. We had an excellent Roll Call and it was truly delightful to meet everyone in person. We came from all over the world--New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Great Britain and more. It was mostly an English-speaking crowd with a wide array of accents. Some of us were newcomers to Azamara and others not. The demographic was skewed mostly to the retirees as opposed to our May cruise which had a more varied age range. I may ruffle feathers but I have to admit it was a bit daunting at first to be surrounded by so many gray-hairs. I'm no spring chicken myself but even still Rob and I were a good ten years younger than many of the passengers! However, it all turned out well because those "gray-hairs" turned out to be incredible people and we were fortunate to have met them. Absolutely lovely, lively, energetic and interesting people, gray hairs and all. Taught me a thing or two about making snap first impressions. I will never again be so quick to think to myself with a grimace "oh for goodness sakes this is like being in a Florida with Mom and Dad." We had a load of fun on this cruise with everyone no matter what their age.

 

Dinner that night in the Windows Cafe was the Italian Buffet but we opted to dine in Discoveries Restaurant instead. Our meal was delicious! Food is very subjective, of course, but I think we fared better with Chef Frederic in September than we did with Chef Fabio in May. I say this mainly because of the soup. I love a good soup and whoever was creating the soups on this particular cruise was outdoing himself/herself. I don't remember liking the soup as much in May. Go figure. Maybe it was my imagination but because of the soup, I fell in love with Chef Frederic. :p

Edited by dln929

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Three days in Lisbon flew by for us and finally it was time to pack up and get ourselves to the ship. One thing that Azamara truly delivers on is its promise to get you as close to the action as humanely possible. We've been to Lisbon before on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and both times we docked closer to Belem than Lisbon. The Azamara Journey, in contrast, was parked right at the foot of the city. It was marvelous! We took a taxi to the port, boarded, had lunch and a drink, and at 1:30 pm dropped our hand bags in our cabin and went for a last minute stroll in the city. It took us all of 25 minutes to walk from the pier to Rossio Square where I bought a beautiful pair of sandals for sightseeing. Thank you Azamara for getting me so close to the shopping! :D

 

The Journey docked opposite the Military Museum, which is the building you see in the left hand of my photo. http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/military-museum.html

 

b777adbfc8c30aa1c1a6e56e89aa36e2.jpg

 

I think the port is called Santa Apolonia, much closer to the city than the other port and an easy walk to town. Santa Apolonia station is the blue building on the right of the photo.

 

An interesting trip if you have been to Lisbon many times before, is a visit to the Oceanarium, it's the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. Buses to the Oceanarium stop directly outside the cruise port.

Edited by tigernut

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One thing about itineraries--if you see one with a port you particularly want to see, and you want to sail Azamara, don't be lulled into thinking that if you pass it up one month or year that you can catch it another, because you might not. I debated on whether or to talk about the ports we visited or just stick to the ship experience. To that end I went on Azamara's website to see if there were any other voyages to our ports, in which case it would be worthwhile to devote a line or two to describing our excursions and what not just in case it piqued anyone's interest and they too wanted to sail there. This is what I came up with: Lisbon (one sailing in '15 and one in '16), Cadiz, Port Vendres, and Palamos (none in '14, '15, or '16), Gibraltar (plenty of opportunity), Valencia (one sailing in '14 and one in '15m, but none in '16), Mahon (one sailing in '14, two in '15, but none in '16), Barcelona (eleven sailings upcoming but only one in '16). So there you go. Get it while it's hot or you might not get it at all.[/font]

 

Hi - Thanks for the reviews and the photos. Just a comment on the above - just because a port isn't on an Azamara cruise itinerary, doesn't mean a future cruise won't go there! Our Quest cruise this May was due to call at Rosas, but diverted to Palamos due to weather conditions. We found it to be a lovely little town, and weren't disappointed by the change. However, we've yet to discover what Rosas had to offer!

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I think the port is called Santa Apolonia, much closer to the city than the other port and an easy walk to town. Santa Apolonia station is the blue building on the right of the photo.

 

An interesting trip if you have been to Lisbon many times before, is a visit to the Oceanarium, it's the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. Buses to the Oceanarium stop directly outside the cruise port.

 

Thank you so much for the tip about the Oceanarium. We were much taken with Lisbon so I know we'll be back for future visits.

 

Hi - Thanks for the reviews and the photos. Just a comment on the above - just because a port isn't on an Azamara cruise itinerary, doesn't mean a future cruise won't go there! Our Quest cruise this May was due to call at Rosas, but diverted to Palamos due to weather conditions. We found it to be a lovely little town, and weren't disappointed by the change. However, we've yet to discover what Rosas had to offer!

 

That was a lucky save for you! I'm glad it worked out so well for you. We went directly to the medieval town of Girona from Palamos. We could have gone to the Dali Museum but I'm glad we saw Girona instead. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/29/AR2010042904104.html

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Following your posts simply is such a pleasure. I am very glad that you posted a photo of the two of you. Nice to have a face to go with the all the wonderful contributions you have made on this forum.

 

Lisbon is number 1 on my to-do cities in Europe that I have yet to visit, so I am very much enjoying your experience vicariously.

 

Keep enjoyin'. :)

Edited by CintiPam

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Our first port of call was Cadiz but we weren't due in until 10 am. We had an invitation to Le Club Voyage Breakfast at Prime C. We barely made it there by 9:30 am. Suffice it to say that someone enjoyed her wine at dinner the night before a little too much to have risen with the early birds. Those waiters are a little too expert at keeping one's glass topped. :D It was a sumptuous breakfast feast at Prime C! They really did go all out. It was both a visual and gastronomic treat. I thought the scheduling was a bit unfortunate, however. The first night on board is exhausting with the excitement of boarding, unpacking, and just getting settled in. However, there was really no other morning available for the event as every other day we arrived in port no later than 9:00 am. (Well, except for our overnight in Valencia, but we had the White Night party scheduled for that evening and I doubt after that extravaganza anyone would have been interested in Le Club Voyage Breakfast the next day.) We enjoyed our breakfast very much and I hope it was well attended. When we arrived at 9:30 am there weren't more than a handful of people still there, and yet there was still plenty of food on the tables. This breakfast has been discontinued on voyages a week or less, and given the port intensive schedules Azamara offers, I can understand why. I don't view that as a lessening of our LCV benefits, simply an exercise in practicality. So much effort goes into the breakfast event!

 

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as always enjoying the pictures of palces I have been or want to see.

the brunch use to be around 1030 or so.. I notice on my cruises they were earlier too and never went.

 

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In Cadiz we'd made arrangements through our Roll Call for a day tour to Seville. It was a perfectly nice excursion but honestly I wouldn't have rated it any higher than the ship tours. There are those who claim that private tours are the only way to go because they're more personalized and less expensive. I beg to differ. We've been on lots of both and while some of our private tours have been memorable and outstanding, so too have been many of our Azamara tours. The same goes for price. We were lucky enough to get the 25% off discount on our ship excursions before they did away with it, but we booked a tour while on board the Journey and it was only $50 full price for what turned out to be a nearly four hour tour (and our best one ever).

 

Seville is a gracious and lovely city. Our main destination was the fabled Alcazar but had we not seen it, we'd still have rated the day a success. Our benchmark of success is when we answer the question "Do we want to come back here?" a resounding YES. Seville gets a big YES.

 

Here is Alcazar. This fountain is going to be in an episode of Game of Thrones. Our guide says they're dyeing the fountain water blue.

 

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Back on board later that day there were several things going on, all of which we missed. We cruise so differently now than we did when we started. When we were newcomers to cruising, we HAD to go to all the shows and events. I'd have had heart attacks at the thought of missing anything! Now, we do as we please and go with the flow. It was as hot as heck when we were in Seville so instead of attending the 5 pm enrichment lecture on Gibraltar, Gateway to the Mediterranean, we parked ourselves at the pool and went swimming. Or at least one of us did. The other fell asleep. ;) Just as a note but if you're okay with missing cocktail hour or dressing for early dinner, the 5-7 pm time frame is an excellent time to be at the pool. You have it all to yourself because everyone is inside already.

 

Later that evening we could have listened to Richard Rubin the cabaret entertainer, or attended the show with the Journey singers or dancers, or attended the Captain's welcome reception but we didn't. We had a late dinner (excellent soup of course) and putzed around until 10:30 pm when it was time to trip to the light fantastic in the Looking Glass with DJ Marcio. Not a bad way to finish off the day.

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The pool alte in the day is great. so is the track. Funny, more peole do not sit there and read pre dinner.. I do see them at the bar.

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The pool alte in the day is great. so is the track. Funny, more peole do not sit there and read pre dinner.. I do see them at the bar.

 

The bartenders at the bars were incredible on this cruise! All so nice and personable. When we were on the Journey in May the weather was on the brisk side and I think it made the bartenders grouchy. When the weather's good people linger at the bar and shoot the breeze. When it's cold they order and run. That must be boring for the bartenders--no one to talk with to pass the time. We didn't really catch a good vibe in May at any of the bars but in September it was all good. ;)

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Gibraltar!!! I have an irrational love for Gibraltar. I can't explain it. It's not a particularly exciting port with all those high rise condos and shop after shop of duty free garbage (I mean, how many expensive watches does one person really need? I can cruise to the Caribbean and get them and spend less on airfare). Maybe it's because that Rock is part of my childhood. What American hasn't grown up with the image of the Prudential Insurance Rock burned in their head? Or maybe it's that Morrison's supermarket is there and I can stock up on Earl Grey and Crunchies and Knorr soup mixes and all those other English comfort foods that I'm crazy about. Whatever. I love Gibraltar. When the ship pulls into Gibraltar I'm happy and ready to go. Go where you say? Up the Rock of course.

 

Get your sneakers on because we're climbing the Rock.

 

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It's less scary to climb the mountainside path called the Mediterranean Steps the second time around. We'd done it before when on the Celebrity Equinox transatlantic. That time we were clinging to the sides of the rock trying not to look down. This time, fear removed, we clambered up like a pair of mountain goats. Until the bottles of water ran out.

 

It was supposed to be in the high 70s F. I had checked and double checked the temperature before leaving home and that's what every forecast told me. No matter that the Pursuits that morning said the temps would be in the 90s. I Did Not Believe. I even asked Rob if I should put my weatherbreaker jacket in my backpack! Off we went like lambs to the slaughter. It was hot. Hot as hell. Miserable awful hot. And there was no shade, either. You might ask why we didn't turn back, call it a day and park ourselves in one of Gibraltar's fine English pubs. That would have been admitting defeat and this girl does not admit defeat. We set out to climb the Rock and climb it we did. We were within feet of the summit and I told Rob I was either going to a) faint from the heat b) throw up from the heat or c) have a heat stroke because of the heat. Talk about that expression "Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun." That was us. One of us is a born Englishman so that leaves me to be the mad dog. :o

 

We made it to the top where we found incredible views and better yet, incredible breezes! (Somewhat) refreshed, we set off down the Rock and hadn't gone very far on the paved road down when we came upon a tour taxi driver. He rolled his window down and asked us where we were going. We said, "Casemates Square." To which he said "Let me give you some advice. GET IN THIS CAR. I'm not even going to charge you. Just GET IN." Rob refused at first but I gulped and said yes yes yes. I can only imagine how sweat-drenched and bedraggled and pathetic we must have looked if a Gibraltar cabbie gave us a free ride down. Enough said. We'll climb the Rock again, I'm sure, but maybe not in the heat.

 

The Journey in Gibraltar. Bear in mind my camera has a 36x zoom on it. Which I used. ;)

 

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