Having just come back from a wonderful week on Azura, I felt compelled to counter some of the complaints and niggles that are so prevelant on this site.
I am 31, and travelled on Azura with my 60-year old parents and my brother's family who have a one year old baby as part of a celebration of my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. Trying to find a holiday suitable for 7 people aged between 1 and 65 is difficult! And so cruising seemed to fit the bill, and in my opinion, Azura was an excellent choice and I would have no hesitation in going back on board.
I didn't find the ship to be over-crowded - I actaully thought the management of 3000 people onboard during a busy half term was very good. We rarely queued for anything, and managed to get seats for the shows and events we wanted to see. Embarkation and disembarkation were both seamless.
I also found the staff to be consistently cheerful, helpful and friendly.
We found the bars to be excellent value - you certainly didn't feel that P&O were taking advantage of thier captive audience with a great range of beers, wines and spirits all very reasonbly priced. The sail-away parties were fun but not excessive, so very inclusive for all the family. Dinners in the Peninsular were very good, and the Indian waiting staff there deserve an extra special mention for being fun, friendly, courteous and extremely efficient. I was in an inside cabin which had ample wardrobe space and a large comfy bed. The rest of the party had balcony cabins and the balconies were well used. We all thought our cabin stewards were excellent and left generous tips.
The creche enabled my brother and his wife to leave their one-year old sleeping there in the evenings, with a pager system for if he awoke. This allowed them the privilege of 7 late-sitting dinners with the family without having to worry about him. The play room was very well-equipped and was very well used during the day - and the kids of older age groups seemed to be having a whale of a time. We had been nervous that a cruise during half term would have been overrun with screaming children, but this wasn't the case -the kids on board were kept well entertained, and were very well-behaved around the ship.
The gym is absolutely fantastic and very well-equipped with state of the art equipment... a great place for my boyfriend to escape the family and stay fit at the same time!
The ship is not perfect - there were a couple of times when the drinks service was quite slow, and as healthy-eaters, there were elements of the buffets that were quite deep-fryed that we avoided. But there was always a good choice of salads as well, so this didn't deter from the overall enjoyment. To those who complain that it is difficult to get a seat at breakfast, I would just suggest getting up 1/2 and hour earlier - it was usually packed at 9am but pleasant at 8:30 am... plus there is always the option of taking your food outside as well. The entertainment was good but not absolutely "wow" - but there was so much choice, from classical concerts to comedians and magicians, that there was plenty to entertain for a week.
I am not a veteran cruiser, so I don't have hundreds of comparisons. But I have been with Cunard, and I certainly felt that Azura was a good choice for our group as the crowd was considerably younger and the vibe more fun for those of us in our 30's without being too party-ish for the older generation. We all liked the Costa coffee shop for post-excursion coffee, the selection of wines and decor of The Glass House, and our dinners at Peninsular. We would have used the sea screen a lot more if it hadn't rained most of the week (that's what you get in Norway!). But most of all it gave us a holiday where we could both do our own thing and spend quality time together, which was the main purpose of the trip.
I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Azura.