I woke early after a very comfortable night's sleep and took the opportunity to fully appreciate my stateroom onboard Azamara Journey. There is plenty of storage space and while the bathroom is compact it provided everything required. The flat screen TV carried a 'view from the bridge' and the cruise director's channel which provided all the daily information. Thankfully Azamara Club Cruises do not impose constant announcements; you only receive them if you are tuned into the correct channel.
My balcony was furnished with a comfortable table and two chairs and this was where I had breakfast every morning.
Reflecting their aim to provide excellent customer service, I always received a call from Room Service ten minutes before my breakfast arrived. This also served as a wake up call rather than an urgent knock on the door. Every single breakfast came exactly as ordered, nothing forgotten. I haven't always had this attention to detail with other cruise lines.
I was looked after so well by my cabin stewards. My stateroom was cleaned and prepared promptly in the morning and again when I left for dinner in the evening. They provided an essential but unobtrusive service that I truly appreciated.
Our group were fortunate to receive a tour of the galley this morning. While I have enjoyed this opportunity on other ships this was the first time it was in the kitchen while it was fully operational. In the past it has been mid afternoon when there is nothing to see. Not this time!
We were introduced to the vegetable preparation area where two chefs spend all day peeling, cutting and cleaning enough vegetables for 750 guests and 400 crew to cover all meals served in the restaurants as well as room service. I will never complain about preparing dinner again!
We were also shown the butchery area and it was explained to us how the beef is taken from the chill room three days in advance of cooking to ensure that it is at the correct temperature when cooked to provide the best flavour. I can certainly confirm that I received excellent food, both in taste and preparation throughout the cruise, onboard Azamara Journey.
We saw the bakery, it was such a small area when you consider they bake all the bread on board and all the pastries are freshly made, credit to the people who work there.
We stood in front of one of the large ovens, at this time roasting turkeys - three of them. The aroma was wonderful!
And finally we saw the soup maker. I have always found the flavour of soups prepared on board ships far superior to anything I have in a restaurant on land. At this time we saw the chef preparing a Thai soup in a vast vat with a paddle for stirring. I can confirm that when I had the soup at lunchtime it was delicious.
This was such an interesting tour and all credit to Azamara Club Cruises for providing us with the opportunity for a true behind the scenes experience.
An early lunch was then followed by a tender ride into Bonifacio, Corsica. We found a lovely sailing harbour surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops built into and disappearing into the cliff. At the top of a steep climb was the walled city, quite beautiful. The whole place had a lovely atmosphere and I would quite happily return someday for a longer stay.
I returned to the Azamara Journey and took the time to explore. The ship is beautiful and has a very unique atmosphere. It combines elegance with informality and does it very well. I particularly liked the Mosaic Cafe where you can have freshly prepared tea or coffee at any time and there are always freshly made snacks available - just in case you are hungry!
The pool area is very comfortably furnished; my only criticism is that there are no small tables provided between the beds. A duo provides unobtrusive music at various times through the day and this just adds to the convivial atmosphere.
Once again I am so impressed with the attitude and friendliness of all the staff, nothing is too much trouble and they seem genuinely happy to be on board.
Tonight I had dinner in one of the speciality restaurants, Aqualina. It has very light Mediterranean style decor and the food was fantastic.
I enjoyed a Goats Cheese Soufflé, Bouillabaisse, Lobster Thermidor followed by a Grand Marnier Souffle - all wonderful.
After dinner we were given a very special treat. I don't know of any other cruise line that does this. If the top suites are not sold on a sailing, Azamara Club Cruises hold a bingo game where all participants have the opportunity to win a complimentary upgrade and one of our group played and won. He took great delight in inviting us all up to his Club World Owners Suite, with wraparound balcony, it was Azamazing! He also had the benefit of his own personal butler and yes we did all enjoy a couple of cocktail parties up there during the course of the cruise.
It was onto the show next. The all-singing, all-dancing cruise director Eric de Gray provided an entertaining show, which was very well received by all the guests. The entertainment didn't end when he finished his show. We then moved onto the Looking Glass for an Abba party that was very well attended.
And so to bed after a lovely day on the Azamara Journey.
(c) Janet Welsh