The second day of our cruise was a sea day and our first opportunity to explore the luxurious Azamara Journey - our home for the next thirteen days. We welcomed the rest and relaxation that a sea day brings after the hectic pace of our time in Hong Kong. Our morning started early as usual (we had still not fully adjusted to the 12 hour time difference). After waking up, I pulled open the blackout curtains on our balcony door to let the daylight burst into our stateroom. I quickly got dressed and left Kim to read in bed while I went searching for morning coffee and whatever other delicacies I could find to start off the day.
One of the amenities offered by Azamara on their cruises, unlike most traditional cruise lines, is the inclusion of a beverage package in the base fare. This meant that instead of settling for regular brewed coffee, which I usually find a bit too weak for my tastes, I could indulge in a nice dark brew of Italian Espresso or a creamy Cappuccino that are all complimentary. The Journey has the perfect little spot, the Mosaic Cafe, on the fifth deck that overlooks the staircase to the fourth floor lobby. Along with a bevy of caffeinated brews, the Mosaic also features a pastry bar stacked with freshly baked goods. I grabbed a couple of the mini Chocolate Croissants, ordered a double Americano for me and a hot chocolate for Kim, then headed back to the stateroom.
Since this was our first real chance to just take it easy since our flight from Toronto three days before, Kim and I sat out on our balcony drinking our hot beverages, enjoying the fresh sea breeze and gentle rocking of the ship as we continued to head South West along the coast of China toward Vietnam. Today was going to be all about taking it easy.
After spending some time on the balcony chatting about our Hong Kong experience, we decided it was time to get a proper breakfast. We left our stateroom on the 7th deck and climbed the two flights of stairs to the 9th deck and walked to the back of the ship to find Windows Cafe. This is the buffet style restaurant on the Journey which is open for lunch, breakfast and dinner. It is conveniently located at the back of the pool deck and is accessed on either side of the ship. There are two long hallways, one on each side of the ship that lead to the stern where the buffet is set out. Each hallway is made up of rows of tables and the outside of each hallway has floor to ceiling windows, running the length of the restaurant, that look out to sea. The back of the restaurant flows out to an open deck where more tables are set up for al fresco dining.
Following a hearty breakfast of omelettes made fresh at the omelette station, along with some fruit, cheeses and deli meats, we continued our exploration of the Journey. Our next stop was the Cabaret Lounge, the main theatre on the ship located at the front of Deck 5. This is the usual spot for the nightly theatrical entertainment, but on some sea days there are guest lecturers. Today’s morning lecture was titled “Asia: Aggressive or Defensive” and spoke to the political pulse of the area over the last several decades. While the lecture was at times a little dry, there were some interesting tidbits to be gleaned about the general culture and history of South East Asia.
The morning lecture ended just before noon and since we were still full from our mid morning breakfast we decided to spend some time at the pool and continue our sea day theme of doing as little as possible. The Journey has one pool, situated in the middle of Deck 9 with super comfortable loungers surrounding all four sides of the pool. On other ships we have cruised, finding a lounge chair near the pool anytime after 9:00 AM on a sea day can sometimes prove a bit of a challenge. We had no such issues on the Journey as there were plenty of empty loungers available all around the pool.
We chose a couple of loungers on the port side of the ship which gave us partial shade as we continued to sail south west into the afternoon sun. What makes the lounge chairs on the Azamara so comfortable are the deep cushiony mattresses. Many cruise ships have plastic or mesh loungers that are easy to maintain and dry quickly if they get wet. Azamara sacrifices cost for comfort, and as far as the loungers are concerned, it is well worth it. Another distinction between Azamara and some of the other cruise lines we have sailed is the quality of the pool towels. They are bigger, thicker and softer than you get on most cruises. And, there is a fresh one on each vacant lounge chair.
We spent a couple of hours lounging, swimming, reading and napping until our tummies told us it was time to eat. We gathered up our belongings and sauntered back to Windows Cafe to grab lunch.
After finishing our light lunch (we were saving ourselves for this evening’s dinner at the Prime C specialty restaurant), we decided to attend the afternoon lecture titled “Hanoi - Paris of the East”. We were particularly interested in finding out more about Hanoi because Kim had arranged an overnight, private excursion to Hanoi after we visited Halong Bay, our first stop in Vietnam. As with the morning lecture, there were some dry spells, but overall it was interesting to get an overview of modern Hanoi and how it has evolved since the Vietnam War (which in South East Asia is referred to as the American War). The lecture finished just in time for us to make our way up to the Living Room on Deck 10 to meet up with Karen and Geoff for a glass of wine and to try our hand at today’s trivia - the topic was Love Songs.
The Living Room is one of the larger lounges on the Journey. It takes up the width of the ship at the front of Deck 10. It is a large, bright room with windows facing out to sea that surround the bar. There is a Grand Piano in one corner, a small parquet dance floor in the middle surrounded by comfortable and inviting chairs, sofas and coffee tables. A couple of the seating arrangements had purple, high-backed chairs that curved to wrap around you. We decided to choose one of those arrangements, ordered our drinks and blundered our way through the list of love songs that made up the trivia game. We managed to identify only 10 of the 20 songs that were played but enjoyed another round of drinks to celebrate the winners.
It was just about 5:00pm as we finished our drinks and discussed our plans for dinner. Kim and Karen had made reservations for us at Prime C, one of the three specialty restaurants on the ship. Prime C, as the name suggests, is the ship’s Steakhouse. Our reservations were for the 6:30pm seating, so we agreed to meet a few minutes before at the bar outside the restaurant. We returned to our staterooms to shower and get ready for dinner.
One of the joys for us when we cruise has always been the quality and variety of food that is offered, especially for evening dining. Our experience at the Prime C more than met our expectations. We met up with Karen and Geoff just before 6:30pm and were escorted to our table. Prime C, like the Living Room, is located on Deck 10, but at the rear of the ship on the starboard side. After being seated at our table, we ordered our respective wines and looked over the one page menu. This night’s offering included a variety of starters and salads along with several entrees. Besides the expected steak selections, the entrees included Rack of Lamb, Cornish Hen, Baked Alaskan Salmon and Sautéed Giant Shrimp.
Between Kim and I, we chose the Pumpkin Soup, Beet Salad, Tenderloin Pastry, Crab Cakes and Filet Mignon. While this seems like a lot of food (and it was), the portion sizes were just right for the number of courses. We lingered over our dinner, enjoying every bite as well as our lively conversation. It was approaching 9:00 pm by the time we finally finished up and were ready to leave.
While it was still relatively early, our lack of sleep over the last few nights was finally beginning to catch up with us. We all retired to our staterooms to get ready for our first port of call - Halong Bay.
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 2 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Hong Kong Part 3 & Onboard Azamara Day 1 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 3 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 4 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 5 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 6 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 7 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 8 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 9 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 10 - click here
Adventures in South East Asia - Onboard Azamara Day 11 - click here
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.