Azamara To Bermuda

To Newark

We are off to a 7 day cruise from Newark to Bermuda on the Azamara Journey. Azamara is a new cruise line whose goal is to carve out a space between premium (Celebrity) and lines such as Regent and Seabourne. Journey is not a new ship, but along with her sister, Azamara Quest, has been completely refurbished and “smartened up”.

This trip got an inauspicious start. We flew Continental economy from LAX to EWR. A moment after we settled in, to our seats, I realized we were in front of an exit row, so our seat backs did no recline. 51/2 hours at attention lay ahead. Next lunch. Although it was nice to be served lunch without having to pay for it, the only choice was a cheeseburger. I haven’t eaten red meat for over thirty years. I whispered a warning to “look out below” and bit in. The meat and cheese were all mushed together and looked as if they had been pushed out of a process tube. It was close to tasty, and my stomach never did figure out it was beef.

About an hour out of Newark, we began to circle. The Captain announced we had been put into holding pattern and would spend the next 30 minutes in a left turn. Apparently there was a long weather front between us and landing. Nothing was taking off from Newark, and only planes coming from the East were landing. After a half hour the Captain let us know that we had been ordered to circle another half hour, but we couldn’t do that as we didn’t have enough fuel. Syracuse was in our immediate future. He said he’d continue to hold until the last minute, just in case something opened up. Then he spoke again, more cheerfully this time. Apparently an airplane was going to try to pick its way through the bad weather, and the Captain said, if he makes it, we’re next. If he makes it???????

We did indeed puncture the lighter of the dark clouds, dropping to around 10,000 feet and going south of Philadelphia. There was hardly a bump. When we landed at Newark, there were jets scattered all over the field waiting for take offs that were not going to happen. One of the jets, of course, blocked us from our gate, so we sat for around ten minutes more until the 757 shuffle undid our log jam. Then, of course, there were no gate guiders around. The pilot said they were scattered all over the field. Why, I don’t know, as we were the only plane moving, but I suspect playing cards were involved. Another 15 minutes and we were in the gate. Baggage came in 30 minutes and, late as we were, our driver was waiting. I swear he had a new growth of beard.

We overnighted at the Newark Airport Sheraton, had a good meal. Some wine, and, at midnight, dropped into a very comfortable bed and slept until ten the next morning.

Saturday morning we were picked up at noon by Barney from Jamaica and limo’d to the Cape Liberty Cruise Center. These days, most cruise lines have internet booking procedures, so all your information is in the computer at the port. A few clicks and up the gangway you go. I do wonder what some of the senior group who have not succumbed to the lure of the computer do. I guess their travel agent takes care of it.

At first glance the 694 passenger Journey looked like it was a private club, with dark wood paneling and an intimacy not felt in the new mega ships’ five story atrium. In Nepal, they don’t pay much attention to modifiers, so something that is very far is “faaaaaaar” Our cabin is nice, but small (170 sq.ft), and the bathroom is smaaaaal. We are in a deluxe oceanview with a veranda. I would advise cruisers to spend the extra buck or two and get a Sky Suite which is 266 sq. ft., especially for the longer journeys planned by Azamara. You’ll need the storage space. In our cabin, the included minibar was missing.

Every cabin has butler service. Our butler is Peterson from St Lucia. He introduced himself early on and slid over his duties. He would bring canapés every night, except we probably wouldn’t want them the three nights we were in Bermuda. Wrong, we would. And tea or coffee, but we probably wouldn’t want that as they served it upstairs. Wrong, we would. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I asked for him to unpack for us.

The night’s cocktail party for our press group segued into dinner at Prime C.

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This is one of two specialty restaurants, and besides every cut of beef you could imagine, including Kobe, they offer seafood and chicken. Great room, excellent food, and outstanding service. The wine list is extensive and I had the most luscious Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve ever tasted, and an extraordinary Crème Brulee. Prime C should be named Prime A+.

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Clocks set ahead, bed at midnight, and, with our sliding glass door open we drifted with the sound of the sea.

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