Two cabins were booked A520 an inside cabin and D602 a balcony deluxe cabin. The latter was upgraded from an outside balcony cabin.
I have been on 6 previous cruises only one was a P&O ship the Artemis. The Azura was by far the largest ship so I used Cruise Critic to prepare us for the experience.
Some of the reports were very damning of the Azura and some reviews were very positive. So I decided to comment on my experience.
One of our small group was disabled and used a wheelchair. We were told by P&O that electric wheelchairs could not be used on the ship in and around the restaurants or theatre for health and safety reasons. So we took a standard manual wheelchair. We were amazed to see other disabled passengers with electric chairs for access to all areas. Checking with the Reception Desk we were told that there are no such restrictions.
The First Day
We arrived at the terminal at 12:10. We used CPS to park our car. By 12:30 we were in the main waiting area for boarding. By 1:10pm we were having lunch on deck 15, How good is that?
All the staff were welcoming and always pleased to help. At just gone 2:00pm an announcement was made that the staterooms were ready and we made our way to our cabins. Our cases were already waiting for us.
Our first impression - the staterooms looked a good size, very clean and with better than the average artwork. The balcony was large enough for four to sit and have a glass of champagne which was already in the cabin.
The first bottle of water was free, extra bottles were £1.85 for 2 litres. Each cabin had a fridge for the wine and water.
We dined in the Peninsula Restaurant first sitting. Sam and SJ were our waiters, I cannot speak too highly of them they were very professional and just as importantly, friendly. They soon got to know our likes and dislikes. The first meal was excellent.
Then we went to the show. Having a wheelchair user we entered first to the special area for wheelchairs and carers.
The theatre was full with several people standing at the back. I feel sorry for the comedian who was the first act. He went down like a lead balloon. Well it had been a long day for most people and presumably too tired to respond to him. His second show was very much better and quite funny.
My first day -I was impressed by the Azura including the lifts - no problems getting to the restaurant on the 6thdeck
On the slow boat to Dublin
Ship very slow, travelling at less that 10knots.
Dined in the Verona for lunch. Buffet style with plenty of choice which was more or less the same each day. But good enough to have a different lunch each day of the 15 day cruise. Very impressed with the service.
On with the show
Day 2 the 45 minute show was the P&O resident Theatre Company - The Headliners. A very polished song and dance entertainment. The sound quality, lighting and special effects were excellent. We were to see them five more times during the cruise.
Other entertainers ranged from the excellent - Tenor from New Zealand and a classical pianist- the mediocre -various singers, a group, another comedian- and the disappointing - a comedian past his 'use by' date.
There was no real variety.
One problem with a trip to the Arctic is the outdoor cinema was of little use. I did try to watch a film, they did provide you with blankets but they were of little use. Pity! The films could also be seen in one of the other entertainment areas.
The library was very tiny and also housed the internet computers (five of them). The room could comfortably have 10 people in looking for books or on the internet but no more. Tiny compared to the 3400 passengers. Yet the art gallery is very large. My suggestion is that the library and the art are switched.
The internet was very expensive so after two sessions I decided it was a waste of money.
There are plenty of lifts - a totally of 15 for passenger use. But be warned getting from Aft deck 6 to the Peninsula or Atrium or from the Peninsula to the stalls in the theatre will result in frustration as you discover that you have to get to Deck 7 first.
If you are over 60 it will take a 40 day cruise to get used to the layout. To be fair the lifts were never a problem and most of the staff were able to direct us.
The Sindhu was very disappointing, lacked flavour and presentation considering it was supposed to be 3*- even charged for the water.
Up until the last night the food had been excellent. The last night I had lemon chicken. It was essentially a chicken wing with a piece of lemon and was not particularly tasty. I noted that this was just after we had handed in the assessment questionnaire of the cruise.
The duty free shop as far as I could tell was not 'duty free'. I was told that the prices charged depended on the cruise. For example Gordon's Gin in the Med would be less than £10 (my last cruise it was £9.50). Duty on 1 litre of Gordon's Gin is £12 +VAT. So they would claim that the RRP for 1 litre of Gin to be £34. So P&O you did not take the duty off.
Full price at Tesco is £19. But very often you will find it at around £16. So I settled for Martini Xdry @£6 per litre.
Having said that the price of drinks on board was reasonable.
Disembarkation - Fantastic, took only 25 minutes to get off and through customs. 50minutes and We were on our way home.
I'll leave others to comment on Activities and Trips.
Overall well done P&O very good value. We have booked again on the Azura for an autumn cruise - same cabins.
PS. Forgot to mention Jitesh, my excellent cabin steward very friendly and could not be faulted.