Just returned from an 11 day trip to the Iberian Peninsula on the Azura. It was an interesting experience to put it mildly.
Plus - Boarding was very easy and as with other lines just drove up cases were unloaded by porters and we checked in, fast and courteous.
Plus - The cabin was not available until 2pm and that was fine it does take time for the staff to clean and restock the cabin and this they did very well.
Plus - There are many bars and the drinks are not unreasonable in price and a good selection including draft beer in some bars.
Children – P&O get Full Marks for the facilities they lay on for Children from the afternoon Noddy afternoon club in the buffet area, Juice and Cakes etc. Special manned play areas were also available and looked fun. Full marks to the parents who took their Children on this cruise - they were great and very well behaved, even the parents.
Disturbing - The Captain made his first of many announcements inviting us all to the deck for a sail away glass of champagne but after drinking it we later found out it cost us £9 so beware, not just us to be surprised at being charged.
On Board Photographer - If you get your picture taken in most cases its only £9.99 but if the captain is also in it the price jumps to £16.99, not a cheap guy the Captain.
Washrooms – There are plenty of washrooms if you can find them, no seriously the doors are in many cases the same finish as the walls which make them very hard to find plus the bad signage meant that four days on into the cruise printed paper signs started appearing as many guests were having a problem finding the washrooms in time!
A Serious Concern -Another announcement from the Captain to encourage us all to be aware of hygiene requirements and the dangers of the Noro Virus and we have all heard of that. We were instructed to wash our hands after the toilet and at other times. That’s good I thought very important hygiene. Short lived went for a coffee and walked straight in, no hand wash in sight until you entered the actual food area and no one there to ensure it was used. At one point I observed a man in the gents come straight out of a cubicle and leave without any attempt to wash his hands, I then saw him enter the food area once again without any attempt to use the hand cleaner and watched him plate up food - disturbing.
Wi-Fi – You would need to be rich and patient to use the Wi Fi on board. The connection keeps dropping off as it does with the telephone connection. Best to use your phone and Wi-Fi when in port.
Port Stops – These tended to be shorter than other cruises we have been on but still managed to include La Coruna if you have not seen it yet don’t rush.
Dinner - Restaurant food overall was fine but not exciting lacked the Princess or Celebrity cruises touch.
Breakfast – We used the buffet most days badly laid out must have been done by a man. The best meal of the day was the breakfast nice selection and nicely presented if rather limited.
Entertainment - Entertainment was on the whole very good though the theatre was far too small for the size of ship and the large number of people they managed to squeeze on it. If you want to see a show be there at least 20 minutes before the show is due to start. The Bars offered alternative entertainment and were once again good. Must mention Frankie Gliksman - this guy is just one of a kind, really good.
Dangers – Proceed with caution when approaching automatic doors as they may well knock your teeth out if they open towards you. Yellow Cones are moved around the deck and buffet area for no apparent reason other than to ensure guests look where they are going. When cabins are being cleaned trip hazards are placed in the corridors maybe for the same reason! Keeps you on your toes, as long as you don’t trip over them!
Shore Excursions – Approach with caution, for just £72 for the two of us we ventured on the Madeira “Flowers, Wicker and Wine” Excursion. This consisted of a visit to the flower market, well not really more veg and fish but no worry we then took a walk to the a embroidery factory well no it was more a shop and we were given an hour to look round and buy things. Next came the wicker once again we had the chance to buy things basketwork that is.
Accommodation – Cabin was fine if a little small but that did mean falling over on the floor was not an option which made us wonder where all the people with their arms bound up fell. Could it be when the captain managed to avoid colliding with the bulk carrier we were on a collision course with? In all fairness the Captain did manage to get to the bridge in time to manoeuvre the ship out of the line of fire, never seen a Captain move to fast.
Overall Impression – Staff were mixed from 1st class to Not, anyway not nearly enough staff, the meagre wage these poor people get P&O could do with getting more. Weather not good not P&Os fault. Would we use P&O again? Shame but only if it was really cheap.