Though its the first time we've sailed on Azura it wont be the last as we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise.
Very impressed with the gym - lots of resistant machines, treadmills, cycles, weights & space for floor exercises. Also good to see a choice of complimentary sessions ie stretch classes morning and late afternoon, fab abs etc as well as charged sessions, pilates and spinning.
Entertainment overall good, never had a bad night of entertainers/shows/acts etc. Thoroughly enjoyed Martin Jarvis as Tom Jones, Steve Larkins as Freddie Mercury, comedian Paul Boardman but in our opinion Mike Testoni stole the show. Talks on real life experiences as a crew member working on a lifeboat & his life as an office in the MET. Very interesting and entertaining. A very close second was the Captain Paul Brown at Gibraltar's sail away, where had he been practicing those moves? If you were there you know what I mean. Brilliant entertainment. Headliners good with some very good singers especially Craig Thomas whose show with Rebecca Lisewski was exceptionally good. Sail aways exceptionally good - well done to Neil Oliver and his team who by the way no matter what time of day or where you saw them they would always have a smile on their faces & say hello.
Watched a few films/concerts on the sea screen, amazing how when engrossed in a film you forget you are at sea. Staff offered fleece wraps though it still was a bit too cold on some occasions. Playhouse Theatre well designed, only struggled once to get a seat. Malabar (same layout as Ventura) personally don't think the design of the bar is conducive for entertainment, layout all wrong & especially when sitting on the back seats as when other passengers are walking through to get to other parts of the ships I think they forget you are watching a show/entertainers etc. Manhattan - slightly different layout to the Havana bar on Ventura as the 'sectioning' of the seating area is at waist level so you have a clearer view of the stage and don't have to constantly look at the t.v.s screens jotted around the bar. Had a few enjoyable nights in the disco which was after the shows.
Bars all seemed to have their own atmosphere - the ones we visited: Olly Smith's Glass House: stylish & contemporary, Brodies: relaxed & welcoming, Planet Bar: quiet, sleek, stylish
Dining outlets: Sindhu: we had a very enjoyable meal probably the best Indian meal we have ever had, Atul Kochhar was in the kitchen the evening we ate. Peninsular 2nd sitting: enjoyed every meal and service was exemplary. Verona: had 1st breakfast here, wouldn't visit again, queues too long and struggled to find a table ended up eating in either Meridan for lunch or the Venezia for breakfast. Food always good, the pastries, exceptional. Very good selection of 'themed nights' in the Venezia. We didn't visit but table companions who did said it was very good.
Ports of call: Independent at every port of call:
Cadiz - never been here before - caught hop on hop off bus - did a full circle (approx 1 hr) got off and then walked around the town. Lovely quaint place - sat in the square and enjoyed a coffee whilst basking in the sun. The town centre is pedestrianised which makes it a joy to walk around.
Cephalonia: due to having a late night the night before, didn't see much of this resort & to be honest we are not sure if there was an awful lot to see!! Table companions went on 'the best of cephalonia' and reported back how much they had enjoyed it apart from the everywhere being closed as the tourist season hadn't started.
Dubrovnik: Not even the rain could spoil this beautiful city - absolutely amazing but due to the rain missed the entrance to be able to walk around the top of the walled city. Lots of photo opportunities. Table companions booked cable car ride and though it went ahead due to the very low cloud they couldn't see further than their noses.
Venice: Believe it or not due to how amazing I had found Dubrovnik when sailing into Venice I was slightly disappointed BUT then we walked into St. Mark's Sq and Venice took on its own identity. So many wonderful places, Doges Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Rialto Bridge, little alleyways, canals, gondola's - I could go on and on. I'm still in awe of the architecture its spell bounding.
Korcula: A hidden gem. We thoroughly enjoyed this 'closed' but lovely part of Coatia. We met people going back onto the cruise ship saying don't bother getting off, its not worth it. We disagree - lovely walks around the harbour, places of interest, beautiful scenery and lots of flowers and fauna to admire.
Cofu: Had an enjoyable walk around Cofu Town, very busy with traffic - lots of local & tourist shops. Didn't get to see too much as the weather wasn't good.
Gibraltar: Very busy - two ships were docked side by side - Ventura and Azura. Ventura had to forgo Cadiz for Gibraltar as she needed to pick up a spare part for a repair. Walked around the town, pleasant enough shops slightly repetitive though and not sure if there are any 'duty free' bargains apart from the alcohol and cigarettes that everyone seemed to be buying.
A slight niggle, the creaking of our cabin B245. Now I know there has to be some leverage but the noise some nights was unbearable. You could see where someone else had also had the same issue as lots of wedges were strategically placed around the cabin but to no avail. I cant remember any of the 'old' ships creaking like this, we had exactly the same problem on Arcadia on its maiden voyage over to the Caribbean. Have we been lucky in the past and had cabins that don't creak or is this today's 'workmanship'. Must remember my ear plugs for future cruises.
All in all had a wonderful cruise, found every single member of staff to be friendly, polite & helpful, would definitely cruise on Azura again with the same itinerary apart from Gibraltar but what really made the cruise was the lovely table companions who we laughed with every night and then again whenever we met up with them elsewhere. Such fond memories.