I recently returned from a 10 day cruise on the Azamara Journey to Israel, Greece and Turkey. Having previously cruised a multitude of times, I have to say this was the most enjoyable and memorable cruise I have been on.
The crew was very accommodating -- from the room stewards, waiters and busboys to the cruise director and the captain. The cruise director is an extremely talented singer and was very personable. I have never been on a cruise where the captain was as visible and mingled as much with the passengers. The entire crew seemed to enjoy what they were doing, which was exemplified by their ever present smiles.
The entertainment each evening consisted of Broadway/Las Vegas style performances. Most evenings the passengers gave the cast a standing ovation. On every Azamara Club cruise, excluding Transatlantic voyages, there is one evening in port that is called an “AzAmazing Evening”. On this particular sailing it was held in Haifa, Israel. Azamara arranged an evening at a Roman Amphitheater complete with a full Israeli buffet and entertainment by the Ashod Symphony Orchestra and two very talented female singers. The entire evening was over the top as shown by the applause, singing and dancing of the passengers. This will definitely be remembered as the highlight of the trip.
The food onboard is delicious, diverse and beautifully presented. The open dining and country club casual dress code made for relaxing and enjoyable dining. I had dinner one evening at Aqualina, one of the specialty dining rooms on board the Journey – excellent service and a delicious meal. Wine is included with lunch and dinner in the main dining rooms and two brands of beer are complimentary throughout the day, as well as a variety of mixed drinks. Sodas and water are always complimentary. Premium Liquor and wine packages are available for a minimal surcharge.
The ship is very nicely laid out with a variety of public areas including the bars, a small casino and quiet areas for reading and playing cards. The deck area has a pool and two Jacuzzis. One of the evenings on board consisted of a “White Night” deck party. The participation by the passengers was phenomenal. The evening was filled with entertainment by the singers and dancers, which included a variety of music from various generations. The food was once again amazing.
My favorite destination was Israel. I took a private full day tour with my husband and another couple to Jerusalem. We took a ship shore excursion in Haifa which visited Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. Both days were filled with history, beauty and culture. I would highly recommend a private tour in Jerusalem, as we were able to see the particular areas that were of interest to the four of us and ask questions of our personal guide. (Photo courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism.)
The ports in Greece were picturesque and charming. The streets are lined with cafes, island views and shopping. The island of Cyprus is a combination Roman and Greek archeology as well as modern vacation homes and hotels. The country is now the financial capital of the Middle East. We were scheduled to visit Santorini, but due to high winds the Captain elected to visit Bodrum, Turkey instead. Bodrum is definitely a shopper’s haven – great bargains on leather and jewelry.