We recently returned from a 7 day cruise on P&O Azura to La Corunna, Bilbao, La Rochelle and Guernsey. For all of our party of 6 (3 generations of a family) it was the first cruise and we were all absolutely thrilled with it. We older ones had been very sceptical about cruises, thinking they'd be like floating coach tours. These fears were quickly dispelled and we can't wait to go on another cruise next year.
Maybe we were spoilt because we had 3 suites, but we're sure we would still have enjoyed it with a balcony cabin -- sorry, we couldn't settle for anything less. We had a butler who covered 9 cabins and he was marvellous, especially with our 2 year-old grandson who loved the room service. One night he brought us all the full 5 course dinner menu from the restaurant.
Another perk with the suite was being able to have breakfast in Seventeen, one of the feature restaurants. Service was superb. Evening meals in the Peninsular, one of the Club dining restaurants, were also great with a fabulous choice. Some our group tried Sindhu, the Indian restaurant, as well as Seventeen in the evening and were very impressed. An alternative option at no extra cost was Trattoria, an Italian restaurant which was OK but service was slow. The place to avoid was Venezia, the 24 hr buffet restaurant, where the food was bland and the piled up plates of some of the diners quite off-putting.
We went ashore at each of the ports. We only once used an official tour -- to Santiago di Compostela from La Corunna. It was well worth a visit and the coach was probably the most convenient way of getting there, but the guide insisted on giving a running commentary all the way there and back. At Bilbao and La Rochelle we used the shuttle buses. We were rather concerned on the Bilbao bus. It was just like an airport bus and lots of us were standing for the 20 minute journey and they piled passengers on including a wheelchair that was put in the aisle. We complained to Azura reception about this but haven't had any feedback. The other downside of the shuttle buses was that everyone seemed to want to catch the bus back at lunchtime and we had to queue for up to 30 minutes in the midday sun.
The ship anchored in the bay at Guernsey and the tenders used to ferry us ashore were a lot more efficient than the buses. We hired a car to tour the island and it worked out a lot cheaper than the P&O tours.
On the "at sea" days we sunbathed for a few hours each day and were agreeably surprised by the availability of sunbeds in lots of different areas of the boat. We only saw one argument over leaving towels on the beds.
One of our party used the Oasis gym and found the facilities equal to any he had used in London. The kids clubs were also very good.
Yes, we shall definitely go on a cruise again and, quite probably, on the Azura.
We've been on all kinds of exciting holidays in the past, notably Cape Town, Dubai, Las Vegas and New York and 5 star hotels in the UK, and whilst this may not have had spectacular destinations, it was amongst the top for sheer comfort and holiday experience.