Arrived at Southampton and was immediately faced with an enormous queue. Took about 1hr 20 mins for us to finally get on board as opposed to previous cruise in May with RCI which took only 20 mins. Thought P&O would have had this down to a tee by now but obviously not.
Had a superior deluxe balcony cabin on deck 9. Room was long but quite narrow, nicely appointed though with a good size settee plus a table and 2 small chairs. Room also had 2 televisions (not sure why though some may find them useful). Bathroom was compact but again nicely appointed and fine for a cruise, taller people may find the shower a problem as you would need to be under 5 foot 2 inches to stand under it without stooping.
Storage space was fairly good with plenty of hangers plus cases could be stored under the bed.
Had champagne, chocolates and flowers in room on arrival, with the use of binoculars + world map, umbrella, gowns and slippers .
I wouldn’t say I was wowed by the stateroom but certainly not disappointed by it and thought it was worth the price paid.
Breakfast in the buffet was fairly good, not quite as much choice as other cruise lines but still more than enough. You could also get freshly made omelettes and poached eggs from a separate station which was very welcome.
Usual crowds of people but that is to be expected with buffet dining so either go early or try for a table just outside as they seemed to be rarely used.
Lunch was probably the most disappointing part of the food experience on Azura. The hot meals never really looked very inviting or had that much variety with a lot of repetition over the week. Desserts were disappointing with very little taste. I think P&O have done quite a bit of cost cutting at lunch. Fortunately you could always get a nice salad with cold meats etc so not all bad news at lunch.
Afternoon tea, again disappointing with tasteless cakes, dry scones and tiny portions of whipped cream. The only highlight for me was the one occasion they served bread and butter pudding which was moist and tasted delicious.
Main Dining Room Dinner
Fortunately this was much better! I found the choice of food to be very good. All of the meals were of a high standard with a good selection of vegetables with each meal. The meals on formal night were of an even better standard, well done P&O!
Always managed to get a table for 2 each night, sometimes with a small wait for a table but never more than 15 mins.
My only complaint with the dining room was the staff, who nearly all seemed indifferent almost to the point of rudeness. Nowhere near the level of service received on other lines where staff seemed genuinely pleased to help you.
Where do I start. 17, Sindhu and the Glass house were all fantastic. Excellent food, good service and nice surroundings. This for me is what dining is about. If you can afford the extra cover charge then this is definitely the way to go, as dining in any of the above restaurants was far superior than any main dining room meals. Best to reserve early as after a couple of days 17 and Sindhu were fully booked.
Drinks and Wine
Very good value all round, could not fault this in any way with reasonable prices in all the bars and wine prices to suit all budgets. The house wine being a very good example!
Definitely the best entertainment I have had on any cruise. The main P&O cast called The Headliners were absolutely brilliant with shows that would not be out of place on a London stage (have heard this claimed before but not witnessed it till now).
Very good tribute acts Phil Collins and Mick Hucknell who not only looked like their famous counterparts but sounded really good too!
Female vocalist Lynda Radcliffe was fantastic as well.
Good piano music to be found in various locations around the ship.
In my opinion P&O have got this absolutely right with some great venues for these shows at the Playhouse Theatre, Malabar and Manhattan Bar. The stage, sound and lighting are second to none. The shows are also on 2 or 3 times a night giving everyone a chance to see them.
Also worth a mention is Planet Bar at the top of the ship for a sophisticated pre dinner drink or cocktail.
First of all I should mention that P&O need to get a better system for this at some of the ports visited. For instance Brest in France had quite a short stop planned, by the time we docked and several hundred passengers dawdled off the boat to join lengthy queues for the shuttle buses there was hardly anytime left at the port. I appreciate that getting the vast number of people onboard a large ship ashore is no easy task but surely P&O should be able to handle this by now?
Fortunately disembarkation at the end of the cruise went very smoothly with everyone getting off about an hour before the scheduled time.
Overall an enjoyable cruise with room for improvements.