Azura Cruise Review by LesleyP: Just Perfect
Having never cruised before we were not sure what to expect but it was delightful. We had a superior deluxe stateroom between three of us and there was a very comfortable sofa bed and masses of room for all of us. The staff worked really hard and nothing was too much trouble. They were not able to stop for leisurely chats but that is not their function, they were however always friendly and helpful, eg. my brother had bought a DJ and the shop had not removed the security tag. A quick trip to reception and a carpenter clipped it off with pliers in minutes. The headliners shows were professional and the operatic tenor did both popular classics and operatic style musicals and some lovely Maori songs as well. The planet bar was a great place to sit and watch the sun set and the food in the Peninsular restaurant was good quality. For those saying the portions were small, when you have up to five courses I prefer smaller portions so you can get through everything - but then quite a few More
people on the shop looked as if they could have done with smaller portions but had gone for the large option instead ;-).
I can't comment on the trips as we did everything independently as we are all mobile and the ports were compact. The best show in town was watching the Fjords go by from the comfort of the balcony. I struggle to think of anything that disappointed, they didn't have redbush tea and the interactive TV was slow and could have done with a search facility and disappointingly there was no Norwegian themed food at all but complain about that and you would never be satisfied. The weather was amazing which helped of course but even putting that to one side it was an experience we can't wait to repeat. Less
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Cabin review: D309
Very nice and worth a bit extra - especially if there are more than 2 of you. Large enough for three adults with plenty of storage and the sofa bed was very comfortable. There was a decent fridge for keeping drinks (and champagne) cool and a real bath so you could have a nice soak. Robes provided for all of us and TV's worked well - can't think of any downsides at all
Port and Shore Excursions
For such a large town it seemed to be teeming with tourists. The queue for the funicular (which was the main attraction) was long all morning. apparently it eases up around 1.00pm so worth waiting a bit before going for it. All food and drink stupidly expensive (how do the Norwegians live) but we had some smoked salmon from the fish market with some lovely rolls brought from a local bakers and a picnic with local produce is worth making an effort to get a real taste of Norway (our cruise had no Norwegians options at all)
This is a one attraction port - the railway. As the only cruise ship in it was easy to book up but still only made the last trip before the boat left. didn't get window seats but when we started taking photo two local offered to swap places as they were used to the ride and were using it to commute only - a really friendly gesture. Scenery is stunning and the railway museum gift shop is recommended as being slight less eye wateringly expensive than most of them. The Viking pub/brewery looked fun if a bit pricey if you wanted to avoid the railway and there were several reasonable walks in the area that would have been good if we had not taken the train.
Picture postcard tiny village. We were the only ship in - hate to think what it would be like with more. we avoided the grockle shops and headed for one of the local walks. It was well signposted but was pretty strenuous for what the tourist office said was a gentle walk - I think that what local think of as gentle may not be the same as us - 300meters up in 2km is not my idea of gentle. it was well worth it for the stunning view across the fjord though. There was a Fjord Centre which looked new and fairly interesting for those that wanted a little less exercise, the fairly short walk beside the river/waterfall running down the valley was spectacular and worth doing if you can manage the steps.
The old town is very pretty as are the less publicised but easily accessed shops on the other side of the harbour. Beware the professional beggers of which there were a lot when we visited - a fellow passenger caught one circling us and eyeing up my bag (which I had stupidly left open), he scooted off when he saw he had been clocked but later we saw him and a further 5 or 6 gathered together and talking with at least two of the beggers. We didn't feel threatened but we did feel we had to be careful. Visited the museum which was OK - the Cathedral had services on when we went there so cannot comment - we were welcomed to join the service but as it was all in Norwegian we gave it a miss.