I should make it clear that embarkation from Southampton couldn't be easier, and for us very convenient. It was a quick well organised start and finish to the cruise.
We have cruised on AZURA before, to the Baltic, a wonderful trip altogether. We decided to go to the Mediterranean this time, and found a different type of passenger, with different standards. The disabled appeared to be well catered for, and I think it is an attractive option for them. We were surprised to find a number of families with young children, who took over the pools, and if you sat nearby you would hear little voices repeatedly shouting 'Watch me mum' , Watch me dad'.- not a quiet place to be. If you have active young children on aboard, you certainly have to remain alert, as the child height climbing frame type siderails will allow unprotected access to the sea - from a great height.
The weather was pleasant, but not always warm enough to sit outside, and some of the best views are from the various buffet restaurants. However to get a table for a meal in this position was quite difficult (we didn't manage it in two weeks). These table are occupied very early, mainly by people from inside cabins. They then tended to occupy them for most of the day. There is the inevitable push around the buffet servery area, as the number of passengers and there food trays cannot comfortably manoeuvre the aisles between the food selection. This is not that there are two many people, rather that the walking areas are to narrow.
The superior balcony cabin allocated to us was excellent, comfortable, with ample storage. We did find the choice of programmes on the interactive cabin TV very poor. Many of the films were very old, and the old TV programmes were boring. The film showing in other venues was excellent, as were the productions by the 'Headliners'. These were the same as when we travelled on Azura a year ago, so there was little new to excite us.
The food on board was very good in all locations, with a variety that should suit most tastes, drinks were not overpriced, beer at pub prices, and wine somewhere between pub and restaurant prices.
The staff throughout were polite and helpful, although this time we found a very high percentage of male staff. This is the first cruise I have been on where the Captain took such an active role. Good clear information from the bridge, but also he could be found in various parts of the ship checking on staff and the quality of products and services.
We undertook several shore excursions, dictated by the distance the ship was from the attraction we wanted to see. We felt these were a bit overpriced, but nonetheless we thoroughly enjoyed them. At other locations we used shuttle buses, or made our own arrangements.
We would certainly consider travelling with P&O again, but we have done the Meditteranean, so will look further afield.