Tuesday, 24 August 2010
As part of my runner’s up prize in the ACE 2009 National Cruise Week poster competition, I won a weekend break in the Malmaison Hotel in Liverpool. I decided to hold off booking the weekend until I knew that there would be a ship in port I wanted to visit.
We arrived in Liverpool on the morning of the 20th August, and I managed to get soaked through carrying the luggage from the car to the hotel, but luckily the weather improved from then on, and stayed dry for the rest of the weekend. I have to say that the Malmaison is a really good hotel, with excellent furnishings and high quality food. The only small moan would be that everywhere within the hotel is so dark.
The sun was shining brightly on the Sunday morning, and as I looked out of the bedroom window I could see Azamara Journey berthed behind a few hundred yards away. So after breakfast we strolled over to meet everyone else for the ship visit. I think there were about 50 agents in total, and it was nice to see a good number from GoCruise among them.
Azamara Journey looked good against the backdrop of the Mersey, and I was looking forward to seeing inside. When we boarded we went to the Looking Glass lounge, which is situated forward on deck 10, and has fantastic views all around. With comfortable furniture it is a popular venue by day, for relaxing and watching the world go by, and by night for listening to music and dancing.
We then headed off for a tour of the ship, which took in all of the main public areas and a selection of staterooms. For a ship which carries around 700 guests, everywhere seemed very spacious. I had to say though that the ship was almost deserted, as the majority of the passengers were American and they had gone on the Beatles tour. We did chat to one couple though who told us how impressed they were with the service onboard, and having been on several cruise lines before, said “this is the cruise line to be on”.
Due to the size of the ship, the main suites obviously can’t be as large as those on some of the massive new ships, they were still very spacious. The quality of the furnishings, and attention to detail, was excellent throughout the different stateroom grades, all of which were a good size.
When it comes to dining, which is always an important point for cruisers; no-one should be disappointed. The spacious and bright Windows Café is situated aft on deck 9, and has a section outside for those who wish to dine al fresco. Discoveries Restaurant and Lounge is situated aft on deck 5 and is the main restaurant, with open seating dining, so guests can dine at whatever time they choose, and with who they want. There are no formal nights and the dress code is Country Club smart casual. For those who are celebrating a special occasion, or who just want to dine in a smaller venue, then head to Prime C or Aqualina, both situated aft on deck 10. There is a small cover charge of just $15 per person (free for suite guests), but well worth it for the quality of the food offered. We had lunch in Aqualina, and enjoyed a wonderful Filet Mignon. Of course the wine was free flowing, as selected house wines are included in the cruise price with Azamara Club Cruises.
Other areas on the ship worthy of mention include the Mosaic Café, the Cabaret lounge and of course the Astral Spa situated forward on deck 9. As well as the hairdresser and gym, and all the normal things you would expect, they also have an acupuncture clinic, where they can help you with pain management, sea sickness, weight loss and quitting smoking. They also have a thalassotherapy pool outside, on a sheltered area of deck. There is a charge for this (free to those in the top 2 levels of suites).
Overall I can thoroughly recommend Azamara Club Cruises, based on what we saw today. When you consider that the price includes free flowing quality house wines with lunch and dinner, speciality teas and coffers, bottled water and soda drinks, stateroom and dining gratuities, and local shuttle buses, it represents excellent value for money.
Many thanks must go to Ruth Gardiner and Leon Hand, for their warm and friendly hospitality during our visit.