Having just returned from Azura's transatlantic cruise back to Southampton, I am wondering where the other Azura sails (which some of your reviewers have been on). I am sorry that some of them had poor holidays on the ship but our experience was very different.
Of course, the flight out to Barbados was tiresome/tiring with an early start from Manchester, but it was adequate and it opened up the possibility of a transatlantic cruise with all of the sea days, which my wife and I love.
Being used to Fred Olsen and Voyages of Discovery we were a little hesitant about booking on such a huge ship. We need not have worried.
Check-in was speedy and efficient. O.K. The Shed is not air conditioned but fans were going and cool towels and drinks were on offer from P & O staff.
The ship is delightful. The cabin (inside - because we spend almost no time there) was the best designed that we have ever had, and seemed relatively spacious. The whole ship seemed smart and well decorated and furnished. Staff were invariably friendly, cheerful and helpful.
We dined in the Oriental restaurant almost every evening and despite the numbers being catered for, the food was invariably of a high standard. So much so that we could see no reason to pay cover charges for the "upmarket" restaurants on board. We ate in Verona on one evening - it is turned into a trattoria with excellent waiter service - at no extra cost. Food was excellent. only slight niggle was - we did not come across any information about this on board but came across it talking to other passengers.
We used the buffet (Venezia) restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The food was varied, with a good choice, and of good quality. It was always hot and despite the number of passengers there was never a significant wait to serve yourself, nor was there any unseemly pushing around the counters. There were always enough trays, crockery and cutlery and we were never short of somewhere to sit.
We found sunbeds were plentiful although some passengers were reserving beds early in the day. On the other hand, many passengers packed up and left them when they had other things to do. We packed up at lunchtime every day and never had a problem finding another sunbed after 2.30p.m.. There is a quiet sundeck forward (next to The Retreat). We went with the idea that we could book into The Retreat for sea days but there was absolutely no need.
Entertainment was varied, but always of a high standard. The Headliners production shows, although choice of music was not always to our taste, were excellent and the theatre (because it is such a large ship?) allowed a high degree of technical enhancement that is not possible on smaller ships. With three performances each evening there was a chance for most passengers to see each of the Headliners' shows.
We did not go on any tours organised by P & O but there are always plentiful taxis on the quayside to do your own thing at much cheaper prices. Must agree with a previous reviewer - the port talks did not include much information for independent travellers - they were slanted towards selling P & O tours.
Duty Free alcohol on board is cheap and you can keep it (and drink it) in your cabin during the cruise - unlike some cruise lines.
Looking at some of the previous reviews we were apprehensive about going on Azura but we got such a good deal it seemed worth taking the chance. Thank goodness we did. We had a fabulous cruise and to cap it all the weather was superb, and the crossing was the smoothest ever, out of 5 or 6 transatlantic crossings.