After a very bumpy flight (lasting turbulence for an hour) we landed at Barbados at around half past four and were immediately loaded on coaches for the hour trip across the island to the port bypassing the normal immigration and customs. We were held on the coaches until there was room in the warehouse for us to book in. Because we were late in the afternoon our cabins were ready so we could dump our hand baggage and go for a meal on at the buffet on the Lido deck. Because new rules say you must have your lifeboat drill before you sail and the ship uses its entire staff for this it was ten o'clock before we got our cases.
Our cabin on D Deck was an upgrade for using their special pricing and it was very nice, it was almost two rooms with the beds in one part and a large settee / make-up bed in the other it even had two flat screen TVs, the balcony was also large with plenty of room for two recliners and foot stools and a small table. The was a large open wardrobe with loads of hangars also two dressing gowns and slippers, also a tallboy cupboard we shelves although the free safe took up one.
There were four formal nights and four semi-formal (a jacket required) being free and easy we avoided both. This did not cause any problems outside the dining rooms when we went to the theatre and several lounges. Although we did go to the meridian dining room which was 'Any time' dining on a couple of nights, we went early which meant we had rapid service, still there was a lot of waiting between courses. The rest of the cruise we preferred buffet dining in the Venesia restaurant. This was mainly so we could get our own preferences and sample some of the others. The food on the whole was good, not fantastic, the main problem was the serveries at breakfast all the serveries were open, come lunch it was only the venesia on port days, with Verona opening on sea days. At dinner time the Verona became an Italian restaurant leaving just the venisia for dinner as you can imagine there were some long queues. In their favour you could get something to eat all the time. On top of these there was a grill and a pizza ere by the pools, also an ice cream bar (payable Â£1 for one scoop cone). There appeared loads of sun beds although most were sited in the sun.
The entertainment team did not seem very professional as they were late at some of the activities and there were some problems with some of the quizzes, this was surprising as the ship has been going for a while now and you would have expected them to have cured and problems. The headliners troupe despite a lot of promoting was in our eyes was not up to the standard of other cruise lines we'd been on. One of the things that struck me was the atmosphere it was decidedly lacking. The waiting staff were efficient but lacked the friendly nature we'd become used to.
As we had been to the Caribbean before, when in port we only went walking around the local area to get some exercise and get the flavour of the island. The weather throughout the cruise was excellent normally around 28/29C with mostly clear skies and almost calm seas, we encounter a little rolling and this was at night. The day before arriving back in Barbados we were given our boarding cards and low and behold they had split us up! I cannot understand as the aircraft coming out was chartered by P&O they couldn't have used the outgoing manifest as a template for the return, I admit some people might have decided to buy their return seats (Â£15 for a normal seat) but as most people did any pre-booking before the cruise I think it unlikely. Whilst on the cruise we visited Barbados and went ashore with just our ship ID card on the last day we had to fill in immigration and customs forms to be dumped at the airport, I'm surprised they couldn't put us in bond as they did on the way out and take us directly to the aircraft. Finally although we enjoyed the cruise on the Azure we did not think it was as good as other lines i.e. RCI or Princess. The flight home was again turbulent but we were on time landing at Manchester.