Caribbean Cruise
Azamara Journey
March & April, 2011

By Jack Welsch

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This was our first cruise on what is now our favorite line, Azamara. The itinerary was unexciting but the cruise was GREAT! We had heard of Azamara and were intrigued. We've enjoyed Royal Caribbean and this is promoted as their most upscale line. Even better, their two ships, like the Tahitian Princess that we'd enjoyed so much in the South Pacific in 2003, was one of the small ships "rescued" from the breakup of Renaissance Cruise Lines.

The ship and everything associated with it were fantastic. For more on that, see the section below entitled, "The Ship".

We've been on Caribbean cruises many times before and had, in fact, visited 1/2 of the islands on this trips itinerary. However, we like shipboard time as much as time ashore so figured we'd give it a shot. In hindsight, that was not a bad decision.

The ship was scheduled to depart on a Wednesday. We've learned to take the pressure off by traveling the day before so that meant leaving on Tuesday. "Heck!" we said, "For one extra vacation day (and a whole lot of $$) we can leave on Saturday and add a pre-vacation!" So, having only passed THROUGH Miami before, we decided to savor a few days in South Beach.

While not an especially exotic one, this was a GREAT vacation!

I'm not sure exactly how she found it on the Internet but Linda booked us in the Sagamore Hotel right on Collins Avenue and only a half block from Lincoln Road.

Sagamore's LobbyThe Sagamore's tag line is "The Art Hotel" and I'll admit it was pretty artsy. Virtually everything is white and there are interesting sculptures, paintings and photos everywhere. Given what I'm sure is a horrific cost for beachfront property, it's surprising that the Sagamore has only a handful of floors but the place is much better for it. In addition to the main building is another with two-story suites called bungalows. We were fortunate to have been upgraded to one of these. While it looked out at a garden rather than at the ocean, there was a terrace with an oblique ocean view on each floor. It was only a few steps from our terrace to the pool.

Sagamore's poolThe only negative about the room is that the lighting SUCKED. I had an awful time finding any place at all where there was enough light to read without a book light! Oh, I guess some folks might also have a problem with the circular metal staircase that was the only way to get to the bathroom and bedroom but we didn't have a problem with it.

They offered a daily "Sagamore Plan" that included buffet breakfast, beach chairs, and wireless internet access. We took it each day and found it worthwhile.

The beach is, of course, marvelous and the staff there was friendly.

Our Living RoomThe hotel's location is great as it's just a 1/4 block or so to Lincoln Road and then another block to the beginning of a very long pedestrian area with countless shops, restaurants, etc. After shelling out $120 for pizza and two drinks at the hotel pool on the first day (This place is NOT cheap!!) , we went to Lincoln road every day for both lunch and dinner and had some great meals.

True, we were probably the oldest people there but, bottom line, I'd be happy to go back.

Azamara JourneyThe ship was Azamara Club Cruise's Journey. This was a ship once known as "R6", one of the "R-ships" formerly owned by the now-defunct Renaissance line. Having been on and having absolutely loved the Tahitian Princess (once R4 and now the Ocean Princess), and having read great things about Azamara, we gave it a shot. BOY, was THAT a great idea!


Like the Tahitian (now Ocean) Princess, this is a SMALL ship and small is beautiful. True, there's not a a huge atrium, a climbing wall or golf course. With a length of only 592 feet, there are not a lot of shops, space to run around, or limitless choices of places to dance in the evening. There are also not endless waits to get off the ship in port! What you get are mahogany instead of chrome, intimacy instead of throngs, elegance instead of glitz, and unparalleled service instead of, well..., you catch the point. These ships are not for the masses; they are for people who prefer sipping to gulping. Yep, I know that's not everyone but it's us.

The crew was absolutely outstanding. Service was excellent; both efficient and friendly. From captain to painters, virtually every crew member would have a friendly greeting as he/she passed.

If you scroll to the bottom of this section, you'll find some comparisons to other ships we've been on.

Our Cabin

Our CabinOn the Tahitian, we were upgraded to a mini suite; here we had a run-of-the-mill balcony stateroom. While it was not as spacious, it was perfectly adequate. In addition to the twin-beds-made-into-a-king, we had a settee, coffee table, desk, etc. Service was what would be expected from a top-notch outfit. As always, we took a cabin near the fore-and-aft center of the ship for a more comfortable ride.

Main Dining Room

The main dining room is called the "Discovery Restaurant" and we ate most dinners there. Instead of the fixed seating to which we've become accustomed, seating was open and table sizes ranged from intimate (2 people) to large (8 or 10). We like meeting other people so most times we asked for a larger table. I'd heard stories of long waits for tables but we never had a problem. True, some nights we had time for a drink or two at the "Discovery Lounge" just outside the restaurant but that's simply another opportunity to meet people and not a huge sacrifice in any case!

Discovery LoungeOn other ships we've normally run up a fairly hefty wine bill but here table wine is free during lunch and dinner. They had a different red and white each night and they were actually quite good. They weren't stingy with it, either!

People always talk about how much weight they gain during a cruise but, lets face it, at best most ships serve what might be called good banquet food. The food here, however, was GREAT. Some of the meals were among the best I've eaten outside of a Michelin-rated restaurant. True, some were not quite to that level but some certainly were.

Other Places to Eat

The other major dining room is Windows Café, located aft of the pool. Meals are buffet style and we ate breakfast and some lunches there. In addition to inside seating, there are outside tables near the pool and on a deck at the stern. We really liked eating on the stern deck. The variety of food on the buffet was really remarkable, even by cruise ship standard.

There is also a Pool Grill that served an nice variety of food. In addition to the normal fare of burgers and dogs, they had such things as lamb kabobs, grilled salmon, etc. Worth noting here is another mention of the free wine at lunch in dinner. At lunchtime, the wine was self-service and was available from about 11:30 until mid afternoon!

On two evenings we attended special buffet events out by the pool and they were amazing. Food quality and presentation were top notch. You'll find more details in my diary (below) in the entries for March 27 and 30.

Of course, there are also two specialty restaurants, a steak house and an Italian. We ate in Aqualina, the Italian restaurant on our last night and it was good though not significantly better than the main dining room.


Looking Glass LoungeFor us, the principal entertainment venue was the Looking Glass Lounge, located on deck 10 forward. There was music for dancing most evenings; sometimes a duo that was quite talented and sometimes a DJ that we didn't much like. The dance floor is rather small but most times we had more than enough room.

Just outside of the Discovery Restaurant is the Discovery Lounge and a very talented harpist played most evenings before dinner. Forward of that is a small lounge with a piano and there was music there most evenings as well.

The show lounge is called the Cabaret Lounge but since we skip the shows, we didn't see much of it. We did go there once or twice to dance before the shows began. The show band was quite good.

Yes, there's the normal pool, casino, internet lounge, etc. There's also a delightful library called the Drawing Room.


Here are some comparisons to some other ships we've been on:

Yes, I know that from the chart, it appears the original Dawn Princess looks like it might have been a good choice but it was a hulk even back in 1990 when we were on it.

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI

Cruz BayIn my mind, Cruz Bay is more a gateway to the beautiful island of St. John rather than a destination in and of itself. Though quaint, there's not an awful lot going on there. It is, however, worth several hours of your time to look in the boutiques and maybe sample a restaurant or two. Having been on St. John twice before, we elected to just wander around Cruz Bay and have a relaxing lunch.

Marigot, St. Martin

MarigotWhen we visited Sint Maarten/St. Martin the first time in 1983, Marigot, Capital of the French side of the island, was a sleepy little village. Today, it's been discovered and the quaint local shops have been largely displaced by Gucci et al. It is, however, MUCH less hectic than Philipsburg, its Dutch neighbor, since "P-burg" is the destination of most cruise ships. We were delighted that the Journey was stopping at Marigot but had forgotten that it was Sunday and most places were closed. Smaller than P-burg to the south but larger than the still-quaint and delightful Grande Case to the north, Marigot is still worth a visit.

Gustavia, St. Barth's

GustaviaSt. Barths can be described in two words, "beautiful" and "expensive". A destination for the rich and famous, this is most definitely not for the budget-minded. This was our second visit to St. Barth's and, unlike virtually every other Caribbean island we've visited, we've seen virtually no poverty here. The roads are a bit crazy but given the island's volcanic origin, that is to be expected. The beaches are magnificent! Gustavia itself is loaded with delightful boutiques and restaurants but bring lots of money!

St. John's, Antigua

AntiguaThis was our first visit to Antigua and it is obviously a pretty popular destination given that we were on one of 4 ships docked there. The town of St. John's is pretty standard for a cruise port; lots of restaurants shops from basic to pretty nice. In spite of te 4 ships (the other three much larger than ours) the crowds were tolerable.

We spent most of the day on a private island tour. The island is nice but nothing remarkable though we did really enjoy our visit to the Nelson Dockyards.

Charlestown, Nevis

NevisI'm afraid I can't report much here as we chose not to take a tour anywhere and you can see all of Charlestown in a few minutes! It's not bad, it's just TINY. From the time we stepped off the ship 'til when we re-boarded, we were gone only about an hour. Sorry.

The Baths, Virgin Gorda, BVI

The BathsThe baths are amazing! From where the shuttle drops you off, it's a long, hot walk down to the baths but it's definitely worth the effort. There are HUGE boulders, some piled against one another forming a labyrinth of caves and, of course, a lot are flooded with sea water. To navigate your way through them you have to wade, crawl and climb so it is definitely not ADA-compliant. It's absolutely fantastic, though.

Saturday, March 19 - Home to Miami

Our flight from AVP was scheduled for 7:30 but boarded early and, I guess ‘cause everyone was on board, taxied out at 7:15 and was early into PHL. The flight out was on time and we landed early at MIA but it was announced repeatedly that we were to stay seated even when the seatbelt light went off and the bell sounded. A fire truck appeared so there was some concern. It turned out there was a medical emergency in first class.

We retrieved the bags, caught a taxi and arrived at the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach before 2:00. Happily, we found that we’d been upgraded to a two-story bungalow suite. On the street level is a large living room with sectional furniture and large flat screen TV. On one wall is a large bar with sink, cook top, microwave and fridge. There’s a terrace opening onto the garden by the pool. Up a winding staircase is a large bedroom and bath.

After settling in, we went to the café by the pool. I had a Fra Diavlo pizza that seriously burned my stomach. That, Linda’s lunch, two marguerites for me and a mojito for Linda came to $120. Ouch; welcome to South Beach!!!

We just loafed and read by the pool for a while, walked onto the beach where we saw a string of cruise ships leaving port, and headed in for showers.

The concierge suggested we walk the ¼ block south to Lincoln Road and then just walk along it to find a place to eat. After just one block, Lincoln Road becomes a pedestrian street with shops and open air restaurants on both sides. The vast majority are Italian but after a lot of searching, we ended up at YUCA (Young Urban Cuban American) for a GREAT Cuban meal with excellent service. It was a bit warm and the heat was getting to me so we ate inside. The empanadas were excellent and the goat cheese croquettes even better. My churrasco and Linda’s salmon were good as well. Stopping at a liquor store on the way back, we picked up some wine, marguerites and soda.

Sunday, March 20 - South Beach

Lincoln RoadWe’d signed up for one day of the “Sagamore Plan”, which gave us buffet breakfast, internet access and beach chairs for $18 per person. Breakfast was on the terrace with the buffet set up inside. It was nothing spectacular but certainly adequate. Afterwards, we sat on the beach ‘til about 2, then got dressed and walked to Macy’s to buy some pants for me, then back to Lincoln road where we ate some empanadas and a 4-cheese pizza at D’vine. Not half bad. On the way back we stopped at CVS for snacks and some electrolyte powder.

Sat by the pool until about 6, showered and had dinner. Walked way down Lincoln Road and ate at an Argentinean steak place called Baires Grill. We ate inside and ambiance, food and service were all superior.

Monday, March 21 - South Beach

It was windy and still a bit cloudy when we set up on the beach at 10 and we stayed until just after 1:00 when we dressed and went in search of lunch. We both had Fish and chips at Nexxt [sic.] Café. Food and waiter were just OK. The hostess was barely civil to guests and needs to find another line of work but you’ll get that sometimes.

Back at the beach, we reclaimed our beach chairs and umbrella and stayed ‘til about 4 when it started to get chilly. Back in the room, we retreated to the second floor terrace for some snacks and wine. This is hard work!

Dinner was at De Luca on Lincoln Road. Food was excellent and service was absolutely outstanding; Ricardo was both friendly and efficient. My Cioppino and Linda’s Pork Milanese were very good but the daily special risotto that we had as an appetizer was out of this world. It contained asparagus, pancetta, parmesan and truffle oil. Wow! Excellent experience at a price that (for South Beach) was not too bad at all.

Tuesday, March 22 - South Beach

After breakfast on the terrace, we headed for the beach, this time getting two umbrellas so we didn’t have to huddle under one. The wind was lighter than yesterday’s gusts to 25 and the sky was clear so we hung out on the beach until after 1.

We once again walked up Lincoln Road and were stopped in front of Enso by a VERY dynamic man who, like many others up and down the street, encouraged us to have lunch at 'his' restaurant. The difference was that this guy was GREAT. His enthusiasm is uncommon for a guy well past his youth. He captured us and we watched his charm capture many others as well. It turns out that this guy, Elvin Eubanks, originally from Belize, speaks EIGHT languages fluently. I said something in German and he immediately went off in German. In the middle of the conversation I switched to French and he immediately went there. Later I said something in Japanese and he rattled off in that. Someone behind us was from Brazil so he spoke to them in Portuguese. When one lady said she was from Scotland, he put on an amazing Scottish accent though in English. We were sitting right near the sidewalk so when he wasn’t working the crowd, he was talking to us. What a great guy and an amazing experience for us. Elvin’s “real” job is as a greeter at the Hilton. He said when he was working at the InterContinental long ago, he rushed out and welcomed George H. W. Bush before anyone stopped him.

Lin wasn’t feeling great so she hung in the room while I returned to the beach. This time I actually went in the water! She arrived a bit after 4 and we stayed ‘til after 5:00.

For dinner, we returned to YUCA. Goat cheese croquettes & ropa vieja to start. Plantain encrusted mahi-mahi for Lin and ginger tuna for me. Great!!

Wednesday, March 23 - Boarding the ship

The instructions from Azamara were that we were not to arrive at the pier before 2:00 but we could not extend hotel checkout beyond 1:00 so we arrived at about 1:30. Instructions notwithstanding, we were through security, checked in and on the ship in minutes!Better yet, the room was ready so we dropped our bags and headed to the buffet for lunch.Good food and good selection. We explored a little. When we went down to the room for the fire drill Lin’s suitcase was there and by the time we got back from it, mine was also. After putting the clothes we sat by the pool.

As is customary, Lin went down to the room to relax while I read. I eventually went down to find her sleeping so I read on the veranda until she woke, then we went down for a drink before dinner. We were at a deuce but there was another couple next to us, John and Carol, and we shared a nice conversation. The meal was wonderful; I had an Asian pasta with pork, shrimp and rice noodles, one of the best meals ever. On this cruise, table wine is included at meals and both the red and white were quite good.

After dinner we went to the lounge for dancing but were about 45 minutes early for the 10:30 show. Sat at the bar and were joined by John and Nancy; nice folks. The music was a duo and they were good. Lots of people danced. There is only a small dance floor but we had a great time. Finally quit about midnight.

Thursday, March 24 - At sea

I was up at 8 and read ‘til Lin got up. Breakfast was on the stern with Becky and Jack from Fairport, NY. Afterwards, we headed directly to the pool and eventually had lunch there. The lamb brochettes were fantastic and I had no fewer than three helpings! There was free wine here as well and again it was quite good. The captain’s noon report put us 18 miles from Cuba and it was just visible in the horizon for much of the afternoon.

Lin went down for her constitutional nap and I stayed at the pool until about 5. Showered, dressed and walked around exploring for a while, then went to the "Looking Glass" to dance. We were the only ones dancing so we had the floor to ourselves.

Walked around a bit more then went to dinner in the Discovery dining room. Sat with David and Jan Lane from Cincinnati and two ladies, Danielle & Pam. Tonight’s waiter was from Serbia. Really nice dinner though my veal chop was not as good as Lin’s.

We stopped briefly at the show to kill time before dancing but it was typical cruise fare so we bailed out. The program in the Looking Glass was a 50s/60s show and we sat at the bar with John and Nancy again. More people were dancing than last night. Got to bed about midnight.

Friday, March 25 - At sea

We had breakfast the on taffrail with Ziggy and Gisela, originally from Berlin but now from Vancouver. Spent the balance of the day on starboard side of the pool deck but in the shade. Lunch was a BBQ served by the officers including the captain who personally served our Caesar salad. Cute. I stayed out ‘til 6.

Dinner was in the Discovery restaurant with Sonny, Suzy, Susan and Marguerite. Again, this was a great table for conversation. We were the second to last table to leave; that happens to us a lot. We went to the Looking Glass for a while but it was pretty dead and we didn’t last long.

Saturday, March 26 - Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI

I was up at about 7 and watched the tender service start at 8:00.
There are two omelet stations in the buffet restaurant and both have the same selection of ingredients. Only one cheese is available, cheddar. Since there is always goat cheese on the buffet, I got the great idea of getting some of that first, then delivering it to the omelet chef for my omelet. Perfect! We lingered over breakfast until after 10, then took the tender to Cruz Bay. Having been to St. John twice before, we decided to just take it easy so we walked to shops at ferry dock but it was too early for lunch. To kill more time, we walked to and around Mongoose Junction, then to the Waterfront Bistro (where we'd had lunch with Stephen and family 2 years ago) for lunch. Tuna Caesar Salad was great. We sat a long time over Cruzan Coconut and pineapple while just looking at the water, then headed back to the ship.

I got a haircut, spent the afternoon by pool, then dressed for dinner. There was no dancing anywhere so we just sat in the Discovery Lounge listening to a woman playing the harp. At dinner we sat with 4 Brits; Martin, Judy, Susan and Bob. Martin and Judy have since moved to southern Spain and love it there. We were among the last tables out again. The orchestra was playing jazz in the Mosaic Café but there was no place to dance. There was a DJ in the Looking Glass but too it was much too loud so we went to bed early.

Sunday, March 27 - Marigot, St. Martin

When visiting the dual nationality island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin, most cruise ships stop at St. Maarten's Phillipsburg. In my opinion, P'burg is a zoo and we've typically rented a car and left it as soon as possible. The Journey being a small ship, it stopped at the French capital, Marigot. Becuse we'd been there several times, I got the bright idea that we'd take the ferry to the nearby island of Anguilla, thereby seeing something new and collecting a new pin for the map. (When you die, the one with the most pins wins!)

I was up shortly before 7; Lin after 8. I was starving so went up for a bit of corned beef hash to hold me over before grabbing the coffee and tea to bring back to the room.

We ate inside the Windows Café since we were planning on hitting the beach at Anguilla.

David and Jan sat with us for a bit. We ended up talking with Cheryl and Steve at the next table for very long time. They are from Washington State. They were going snorkeling at little bay. They told us about good experiences in renting great apartments in Barcelona and Lisbon.

We took the tender just before 10 and went directly to the tender dock. Once there, we decided against the hassle of tendering to Anguilla, especially considering it was Sunday so most things there would probably be closed.

Of course, virtually everything in Marigot was closed as well. We walked around and eventually ate at Bistro de la Mer. Lunch was a 3 cheese pizza for Lin and mussels for me. Both were great but the portions were much too large, even by American standards.

We got back to the ship after 2 for a cold shower to cool down then me to deck and Lin to the room. Deck chairs were becoming scarce as the crew set up tables for the deck party tonight.

Cleaned up and went on deck for the Caribbean deck party. It was to start at 6 but we were there at 5:30. Steve and Cheryl ended up sitting with us. Buffet was phenomenal and, surprisingly, people spaced themselves out so there was virtually no line. They had two whole wahoos hanging by their tails and were carving off filets to go on the grill. They were also grilling lamb t-bone. Elsewhere they were filleting and grilling fresh red snapper.

A number of officers were walking around talking to people, including the captain.

Monday, March 28, Gustavia, St. Barth's

We took it easy over breakfast again and ate on the stern, this time with Jeff and Kate from VT. He’s an environmental lawyer who retired but has started working again doing due diligence for a Chinese acquisitions company. It was well after 10 when we left the table. We’d planned on renting a car as had Jeff and Kate. Quite by chance, they were walking into the budget office (actually a cosmetic shop!) as we were. We each rented little Hyundais and, after we completed the paperwork a van took us all four of us to the airport to get the cars.

Gustavia has a REALLY tricky runway and I really wanted to try my hand at it as well as seeing the island from the air. Consequently, I tried to find an FBO to rent a plane but was unable so we drove around much of the island.

I considered lunch and swimming at Baie St. Jean (as we'd done years ago) but it was really crowded there so we ended up having an excellent though very expensive lunch at the Isle de France hotel on Anse de Flammand Beach. The table, complete with cotton tablecloth was right on the sand. We both had great mahi mahi and shared a bottle of an excellent Pouilly Fumé. Lunch and setting were perfect and worth all of the 112 Euros! With the meal came the right to two excellent lunch chairs and an umbrella on this beautiful beach. A perfect place.

We decided against keeping the car overnight as originally planned, turned it in at the airport and got a ride to the dock and then tendered to the ship. We were back by about 5 so I went up to the pool while Lin did laundry.

There was not much going on before dinner so we had a drink in Discovery Martini Bar and went in to dinner. We wanted to be a bit early so we could see the opera show at the pool at 9:30. Ate with Nick and Ann from LI and Bruce and Judy from WA. Great table and we talked until we were among the last again. Unfortunately, as a result of this we missed the show. They were playing some opera through the PA system, though, so we sat on deck until they stopped. We went to see a singer-comedian in the Looking Glass but he really sucked. We left but still stayed longer than he deserved.
He was in absolutely no hurry to move and was with us probably 10 minutes.

There was supposed to be a steel band but they never showed. A couple of explanations were given; one that they were delayed by traffic and another that there had been a family emergency. The crew recovered extremely well, though. Others filled in and if we hadn’t been told of the steel band, we’d have not noticed. I do love steel band music, however, so I admit to some minor disappointment.

We did a bit of dancing but ended up doing so in bare feet since we’d worn deck shoes to dinner. The ship pulled out for St. Barth’s at about 11:00.

Tuesday, March 29, Gustavia, St. Barth's

I was up at 8:20 and first tried the internet and then the concierge to see about flying. Neither could get a connection so apparently satellite connection is down. Got coffee and tea to bring back to the room.

Imagine indeed!!After breakfast I got on the internet but after a diligent search concluded there was no way to rent a plane here. Apparently, even if you bring your own plane in, you have to land first in Marigot to get instruction and an endorsement before attempting to land at this airport. Rats; I’d like to have bragging rights to landing on that strip! Truth be told, though, Spring Hill airport near where I live is a lot more dicey.

It was almost 11:00 by the time we disembarked. Weather was hot and incredibly humid. It was raining over St. Eustacius and Edwin, our steward, said it had been raining on and off so Lin took an umbrella and I a poncho. I was actually hoping it’d rain and clear the air but the sky cleared instead. Gustavia is uncommon in that it is very clean and the shops very upscale. Prices, however, are uncommon as well. I saw a shop with a number of bathing suits I liked. Knowing the price would be unreasonable, I went in to check anyway. A "bargain" at ONLY 150 euros!

We visited St. Bartholomew’s church and generally walked around until we realized we were pushing too hard so stopped for lunch at La Route des Boucaniers near the end of the harbor. We sat outside but under cover and the breeze off the harbor was delightful. Lin had a salade niçoise and I a goat cheese salad. Both were huge but delicious. We had a bottle of excellent Sancerre as well and sat for hours. This is Paris by the sea! By the time we finished eating, all the shops were closed (some ‘til 3 and some ‘til 4) so we headed back to the ship; me to the pool, Lin to the room. I had a tough time getting a chair in the shade. Eventually it started to rain so hard that I was getting splashed even under the cover so went down.

We’d discussed having dinner with Jeff and Kate and Jeff called to suggest the scallop buffet. Neither of us eat scallops so we begged off but agreed to the dining room tomorrow but a drink together in the Looking Glass tonight.

Wednesday, March 30 - St. John's, Antigua

Nelson DockyaedI awoke about 7:40 as we were approaching the dock. This was, incidentally, the only time we were docked other than in Miami. Got the coffee and tea and wrote while Lin got dressed. There are three huge ships in town, Costa Atlanica, Carnival Freedom and Celebrity Constellation. Ugh!

We had breakfast with Steve and Cheryl and once again it was after 10:30 by the time we disembarked. Before leaving the ship we stopped at a hospitality desk to talk to a woman from the Antigua tourist board. At her suggestion, we stopped at the tourism office just off the dock and arranged a taxi tour. We got into a pretty beaten up van driven by Sean and with another Sean in the left seat. Went to Nelson Dockyard, Shirley Heights and through the rain forest. They dropped us off in town a bit more than 2-1/2 hours later.

Actually, town wasn’t too crowded considering the number of people who had descended upon it. Lin wanted to do some shopping and bought some "trinkets" at First Diamond. They even threw in some rum punch! Lunch was BBQ chicken wrap and more rum punch at the Nelson Café after which we headed back to the ship for the typical afternoon.

There was a “White Nights” party on deck so we met Jeff and Kate there rather than in the dining room as planned. Linda, Kate, Jeff, and me.Dinner was an international buffet and it was absolutely fantastic!!Escargot, frog’s legs, stroganoff, tabouli, freshly-grilled red snapper, etc., etc.Music was great as well and it was wonderful seeing so many “old goats” up dancing. I’m betting this wasevery bit as energetic as the party on the Freedom! Though the ship was to have left at 6, it stayed at the dock until 10:15 because of the party and heavy seas. Lin and I went up on deck 10 until we got into the channel.

After Lin did some shopping, we had a coke and a water at the Mosaic Lounge and headed in at about 11.

Thursday, March 31 - Charlestown, Nevis

Up about 9:00, got coffee and tea, wrote a bit, then checked e-mail. Leisurely breakfast again on the rail and it was after 11 when we got to town. There’s really nothing of note there so we were back aboard an hour later! Lin and I both sat by the pool and had lunch there. I eventually fell asleep and when I awoke, Lin had gone to the room. At about 5:15 I went down so that we could be in the Looking Glass for dancing at 6. Nice table for 6 at dinner once again. Back to the Looking Glass but didn’t like the music so came down to bed.

Friday, April 1 - The Baths, Virgin Gorda, BVI

The BathsOnce again we sat at breakfast for a while but did get to the island just a tad earlier than normal (for us, at least). For $4 each, we grabbed a truck to the Baths where we paid our $3 entry for the long, hard, HOT walk to the beach. It is absolutely lovely there. Found a spot under a tree to set up the towels and swam a bit. Lin stayed on the beach while I explored the caves. WOW. I did some snorkeling but there really was not much to see; the coral was pretty beaten up and there were few fish. I really should have left mask & snorkel at home.

After the long climb out we at a very nice lunch at Top of the Baths. Conch fritters for me; coconut encrusted chicken strips and fries for Lin, plus some rum drinks, of course. It's the least we can do to support the economy!

Grabbed another truck back to the docks, did a little shopping and went back on board and to the pool.

Danced at 6 in the Looking Glass, then dinner in the dining room with 6 people.

Saturday, April 2 - At sea

By the time we got to the Windows Café for breakfast it was just 10 which is when they switch to continental only but we made it and had breakfast outside. Tried for the internet but they were giving a class so we grabbed two of the few open seats on deck. The heat was really getting to Lin so we ate lunch inside Windows for a change. Afterwards, she went down while I checked e-mail and returned to the pool.

The CaptainThe PR said there was an international farewell party in the Cabaret at 5:45 so we hustled to that but it was a waste; just instructions on how to get off the ship, marching of the crew out onto stage and a few words from the captain. It was over by about 6 and there was a private party in the Looking Glass so we were “at sea” so to speak. Did a little shopping and sat for a long tome in the Discovery before dinner with Danielle, Pam, Marlow and Beth. Among last out again. Not much cooking and Lin felt lousy so to bed.

Sunday, April 3 - At sea

Both of us slept very poorly and Linda was quite sick so we were up a bit earlier than usual. We ate inside then headed to the sick bay. Afterwards, Lin went back to bed and I headed for the pool. She came up eventually and we sat with Jeff & Kate. Lunch was inside Windows. I went down at about 4 to pack & found Lin sleeping. We wandered around to take pictures, then met Jeff & Kate in Acualina for dinner. Goat cheese soufflé, tuna for me and sea bass for others, Kate and I had Grand Marnier soufflé, Jeff & Lin chocolate soufflé. Lin was feeling lousy again so bed at 9:30. It\\\'s a shame she had to be sick on her last day.

Monday, April 4 - Back in Miami

I absolutely hate the process of leaving a cruise ship; you have to leave your room hours before you can leave the ship and, with everyone else, sit around with your carry-on luggage waiting until they call your number.

We set the wakeup for 6:30 (ugh!) and got to Windows at 7:30 to find it packed as expected. For the first time, we ate out by the pool, after which we cleared out of the room and retired with the bags to the Looking Glass to avoid the crowds on deck 5. We did get to 5 a bit earlier than we should have and sat with Ziggy & Gisela until our number was called. This, remember, is a small ship so the departure process went much more quickly than most. We were off the ship by 9 and in our room at the Marriott a few minutes after 9:30.

BaysideI wrote while Lin caught some much-needed sleep.

Around 12 we caught the public elevated transportation to Bayside. On the way to the station we passed Trinity (Episcopal) Cathedral. We were a bit disappointed that we'd just missed morning Eucharist and made a mental note to hit it the next morning. After walking around Bayside a bit, we had lunch at Tradewinds. Lin had “dolphin fingers: and I a Cuban sandwich.

Journey heads for Rome!Back at the hotel, I say by the pool while Lin relaxed in the room. She eventually came down just as I was about to return to watch from our balcony the departure of the 5 ships we could see at the dock. The Journey left long after the others; she was headed for Rome! We decided to hang at the hotel for dinner but ate at Primo’s in the adjacent Double Tree. The waiter, Enso, was from Uruguay and was fantastic. The meal was as well. We were back in the room before 9.

Tuesday, April 5 - Miami & home

The last day. It’s funny how quickly these things come around! When we booked this trip, we were thinking it would be better to take a late flight home and thus be able to spend another day down here. The weather forecast warned of a huge afternoon storm, however. We regretted our decision enough to check options for an earlier flight but, in the end, decided to just relax and take it as it came. Trinity CathedralAfter a leisurely breakfast we walked over to Trinity Cathedral for morning Eucharist. It was in a small chapel just to the left of the narthex and only a handful of people were in attendance. The priest was a young woman whose sermon was quite good. There was a very large black man seated immediately in front of us and through much of the sermon he was nodding his head and muttering words of agreement but at some point, she said that if you ask God for help, He will respond. At that point, the guy flipped, saying he’s been praying for a job and nothing had happened. He ended up standing in front of her and arguing with her in a very threatening manner. The rest of us were afraid he’s do her harm but eventually he left. Whew; never saw THAT before!

The whole way to the airport I was watching the radar map on my Droid and trying to anticipate the time when the huge storm would hit us. While we were having lunch in the terminal, it hit with a vengeance; you could just barely see the runway. We were delayed but eventually did make it home, exhausted as usual.

This was not an exciting trip from an itinerary standpoint but was still one of the good ones. The ship and the people made it so. Azamara far exceeded our expectations and I'm afraid it may have spoiled us for other lines. I'm well aware that there are other lines reputed to be even better and at a much higher price but we'll always check Azamara's itineraries before booking on anyone else.

I enjoy creating my own pages but one of the limitations is space for pictures. If you want to see more pix from this trip (or others), check out my blog on TravBuddy.