It came to pass that the Mighty P&O did invite all Portunus Gold Tier Members to a Walkabout tour of the latest addition to their Family . The Azura. The Pilgramage led 1500 of this august band to the impressive Ocean Terminal. And there she was resplendent in the Southampton Sun.These lovers of The Crows Nest,Andersons,el et assembled two by two waiting for embarkation.Old friends from bygone Cruises renewed aquaintances as they waited.Wise men Shepherds and Masons waited patiently.We were kitted out with our Boarding Pass swinging jauntily from a natty Lanyard.Ours was Green.The wife did say that it it did not match her shoes or bag but I assured her that no one noticed. So.After much sercurity checks we finally got a first real look at Azura.
First The Atrium . Where have I seen that before ?
Up and Up and Up to Decks 15,16 and 17 and The Coral Pool and Bar.Nice enough I suppose but nothing special.Except those Sun Loungers.Blue and Brown even I could appreciate that it would be difficult to match accessories.Then The Oasis Spa and The Retreat.It looks an absolute picture.Wicker Sun Loungers,Cabbanas all sheltered under a Canopy similar to that at Goodwood Races.All well and good I hear you say but how much ? Well I heard figures of £10/20 pp per day bandied about and that was just for entrance to this exclusive area.So boys if 'They' insist it may mean only single G n Ts for the duration of your Cruise.Many of the pieces of Equipment in Spa area looked painful but I am reliably informed by one who knows that it was the latest.So what do I know .
The Accomodation.Starting at the top . The Suites.If Camelot does its duty I'll have one of these.Well equipped furnished and appointed.I might have trouble negotiating a path to the Thunder box for my nocturnal calls of nature but must say I liked this.Smashing Bose Stereo tucked away.On to the head [naval jargon for bathroom] expensive looking Seperate Shower Enclosure Spa Bath. Could just imagine the good lady scrubbing my back as the Bose belts out a bit of Ole Blue Eyes.'Strangers In The Night' Dooby Dooby Do.Did have a bit of a problem with the Balcony.Why on earth did P&O choose to showcase a Luxury Suite with a balcony that has a steel pillar protruding floor to ceiling.Try again. Nearly forgot the Walk In Wardrobe doubt if even she could fill this but no doubt she would give it her best shot.
Balcony/ Outside. Again Well furnished nicely appointed.Walkin Wardrobe of sorts but practical .Smallish Bathroom usual facillities.Room for Biscuits and Tea and Coffee makings.Reasonable Drawer Space for the smalls etc. Overall very good but on the small side. Inside: Its OK but it is Inside and on the small side . Appointments Furnishings and Fittings similar to the Outside cabins.Small Bathroom you would have to take turns for your ablutions
. Bars Etc.Have you been on Vetura ? Do you remember,how could you forget The Havana Club. Well they have done it again and called it Manhattan this time with Blue Strip Lighting.Reminded me of a Tanning Studio.And those Partitions high enough to test Red Rum.Poor sight lines.Not for me.
Just along from Tan U like there is an Oasis of Calm and Serenity The Sindhu Restaurant.Very tasteful and if the food is as good as the surroundings you could be in for a treat
. Next door we are transported to Morroco and The Malabar Night Club and bar.She didn't like the chairs but I felt a bit like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca but in colour.Room to cut a rug if you fancy a bit of Strictly.Just a pity about the constant flow of people passing through.
Now The Glass House : A modern Wine Bar which I think also serves food.Will the P&O Grandees ,Dotties and old dears take to it?.I wonder.
Then there is Brodies Pub Named after one of P&O Founders.Quite brash shares the area with The casino has a small stage big enough for say a Trio.I am not one for Pub Style Bars on ships but it is what it is . Certainly not the place for a quite drink.But I am more of an Andersons Man myself.It was a pity that we did not have time to see all of the Bars and facilities but I hope that I have given you a flavour of Azura.
With our time running out we only had time to pop into The Playhouse Theatre.On three tiers similar to Ventura's Theatre.Looked to have good sight lines. The PA system announced that lunch was about tobe servered in The Meridian Restaurant. Like many of the features of Ventura Azura is very similar.The Meridian is no exception almost identical to The Cinnamon Restaurant on Ventura.Glass Partions tables for 2,4,6and 8.We were to be fine treated to a very meal so future Azurains you should have no complaints.The lady chose Atlantic Cod.No comment. I settled on a Smoked Salmon Platter followed by Lobster Scallops and King Prawns and just to be sociable a rather nice cheese board.To accompany this excellent fare we quoffed a couple of pleasant little wines.A Cheeky Chilean Shiraz[don't mention the Aussies] and a Saucy Pinot Grigo. During the course of this excellent lunch P&O's MD Carol Marlow gave a short speech. She explained that Azura had been designed with the Traditional P&O Passenger in mind and there would be Formal Semi Formal and a few Casual nights on all Cruises. Let us hope that that this is enforced.
Although the speech was politely recieved I felt that most of the audience may have preferred a new Aurora or Oriana,but we do have The New Adomnia to look forward to and the jury are still counting the votes for Arcadia.
But what of Azura. Overall she is very similar to Ventura perhaps the decorations are more subdued and I must say that the Carpetting throughout the ship is nothing short of spectacular particulary in the passenger corridors. The service in The Meridian was very good, not fast but unobtrusive and the waiters were excellent.Would I cruise on Azura Errrrr.
One last point then I'll leave you to post your rude remarks.On our way from Azura we were presented with a Pen as a momento of our Visit.Think P&O must have bought them off the QVC shopping channel.