Our holiday started at Birmingham airport with a two hour delay with our Thompson flight to Barbados. On arrival in Barbados we had a very quick transfer to the ship. Unlike others, our baggage was waiting in our cabin within an hour or so of our embarkation. When I made our booking for this cruise eighteen months ago, I was told by the Portunus rep (I was aboard the Ventura at the time)that the cabin I was booking was a cancelled cabin and thus the only cabin available. As this was an inside cabin I requested to be contacted as soon as an upgrade became available. After contacting P and O on several occasions during the eighteen months, I am sorry to say that no-one ever contacted me. I was therefore very annoyed to discover that offers of balcony cabins on this very cruise had been offered to passengers on the previous cruise - at a great deal less than I had paid. If upgrades had become available, then why wasn't I contacted about one? Other passengers I spoke to had also been in the same position - This was our 15th cruise with this company - so much for loyalty to P and O!!
My main concern about the Azura was the overcrowding in the Playhouse. During several performances the theatre was greatly overcrowded with passengers adding chairs, standing in aisles and sitting on the stairs. This is my opinion contravened Health and Safety. As many of the people were also drinking if anything had happened passengers would not have been able to exit the theatre safely and would have had to contend with the additional hazard of broken glass. I mentioned the dangers of overcrowding to several crew members but I'm sorry to say it fell on deaf ears! Obviously the safety of passengers is not top of everyone's priority list!
I think that Entertainment staff, as well as greeting passengers as they enter the theatre should also be counting them in and stopping people entering once it is full to capacity.
Speaking of Entertainment staff, the leaving port parties were usually well attended but mainly comprised of entertainment staff performing for the passengers. Yes, they were enjoying themselves and yes, passengers enjoyed watching them - but this wore thin after a couple of occasions. Surely, having the passengers enjoying themselves was the name of the game - More passenger involvement would have improved things rather than just expecting them to wave their arms and suchlike while watching the 'team' exhaust themselves with the same old dance routines!
Public rooms - While the Planet Bar was very comfortable I was dismayed to see young children allowed in there after eleven o'clock at night. Even if the parents are happy for their children to be in the bars at this time I don't think many people find it appropriate for them to be there. Why did members of staff allow this?
The Manhattan Bar is the most badly designed room on the ship! The huge pillars prevent adequate viewing as do the high sides of the dividers. Granted there are television screens around the room but the whole idea is to see the performer 'in the flesh' rather than on a screen.
The Malabar is a very uncomfortable place to watch films. The seating is uncomfortable, the viewing positions poor and being open on one side is a noisy thoroughfare while films are being shown.
The big Screen under the stars did not live up to it's name! Even though we rarely sat round this pool and used the Coral Pool, we were still subjected to a great deal of noise when the films were shown during the day. Even when passing through this area while films were shown, I rarely saw many people watching them.
The 'smash and grab' dining was hopeless! My husband and I found it impossible to eat our food together as one had to remain in the seats while the other got their food and then this was reversed! Not ideal relaxing, holiday eating! We found club dining very good although the service was very slow this was more than made up for with our delightful table waiters, nothing was too much trouble for them.On a couple of occasions we ate at the Verona and found this to be a very pleasant experience.
Entertainment left a lot to be desired. A couple of the tribute acts were excellent others not so good. Again, a couple of the comedians were very good and others poor and the Headliners very 'samey'. The dancers were excellent but the singers although fairly good individually were not good together. Other entertainers were over 70 years old- 'has-beens' comes to mind!
Despite all the above comments I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed this holiday but mainly because of the new friends we made and the tours we did at the ports of call. We tried to gain experiences during these tours that we would not normally. All the tours we did were very good. the reps and guides were excellent. This was our first visit to the Caribbean and hopefully not our last.
Our holiday was finished off with a 10 delay which was then extended by another 2 hours. We had to vacate our complimentary cabins by 6.30pm and after dinner had to hang around until we disembarked at 11pm. During this time there were no members of crew to answer any questions. On arrival at the airport we had a further hour added to our 4am departure - again there was no P and O rep or Thompson rep available to us. To round off our holiday one of the toilets on board the aeroplane was out of action and the socket for my headphones not functioning properly!
Welcome to P and O!