It’s 7am local time and the jaunty Journey is heading for the volcanic island of Santorini, in the southern Aegean Sea. We left Piraeus at six o’clock last night after a seamless boarding process, during which we discovered we’d been upgraded to the top-of-the-range Club World Owner’s Suite – an amazingly spacious suite at the aft of the ship on Deck 8 that comes with the services of Sooria, our Indian ‘English’ butler.
Azamara Journey is a small ship – max pax 694, 30,277 tons – refurbed in 2007 in a traditional, ‘country house’ style with lots of wood panelling, antique-style furniture and, yes, tasteful carpeting. (Why do so many ships sport such garish floor coverings?) There’s an overall friendly, comfortable ambience to this ship – I particularly love the Drawing Room on Deck 10, an old-fashioned library with comfortable leather chairs. There are apparently 600 guests on board, many of them American and many surprisingly young, 30s to 50s on first impressions.
After sampling the thalassotherapy pool in the spa (a large whirlpool on Deck 9 exuding very powerful chlorine), cruise companion Melanie and I had dinner at Prime C, one of the ship’s two ‘signature’ dining rooms. Mmm, tuna sashimi and filet mignon … Going to have to hit that jogging track (or perhaps take a more conducive stretch class with the sculpted fitness trainer, a Kiwi called Joseph) before we drop anchor, to make up for the indulgence (before breakfast).