So organised; drive up to terminal, take luggage out of car (wave goodbye to it, as next time you see it, it's in your cabin); hand over car keys to pleasant driver, walk into terminal.
Arrived early, about 11am, as warned (by P+O e mail, thanks) that traffic may be heavy due to boatshow. relaxed in terminal with complimentary magazines.
Fast, efficient checkin. on ship about 12. nice buffet lunch. cabin ready about 2.30.
BUFFET - Venezia / Verona A lovely area with tasteful decor, lots of seating for various group sizes. very nice, well presented food, lots of choice usually. we especially enjoyed the cold cuts of various meats and salads. Unfortunately the actual food collection area is far too small, and often resulted in complete 'jams' as people tried to make their choices.
Alcohol hand gel was available at the food collection area, rather than at the buffet entrance, many people didn't bother to use it, and nobody enforced it.
Choice of different teas available, coffee not bad, juices incredibly sweet.
Service pretty good, but apart from routine table clearing, we didn't see any staff offering any help to any passengers.
The buffet is a busy place, but we always got a table. we did witness a lot of 'spreading out' with bags, jackets etc, to prevent table sharing - why do people do that?
MDR we were on 2nd sitting (8.30 /8.45) in the oriental restaurant. table for 6, seated with 2 nice couples; (hi neil and julie, and gail and edward). food was good , service good, especially from assistant waiter. however we only ate there about 4 nights as we discovered the gem that is Verona by night! this side of the buffet transforms into a table service Italian restaurant in the evenings for no extra charge. highly recommend; great food, great service.
ROOM SERVICE used this for breakfast twice, very good.
DRINKS reasonable prices in all bars and restaurants AND we were able to buy a litre of whisky for £20 to enjoy in our cabin, ice and glasses also provided on request (big difference from royal caribbean, who make you feel like a criminal if they think your're drinking in your room)!
CABIN obstructed ocean view, but plenty of light and reasonable view. no noise despite being beside aft lifts, and above manhatton show lounge. experienced a bit of rocking and rolling occasionally, but nothing too bad. a bit of ? mechanical noise at times. bed comfortable, but quality of bedding poor compared with RCI, CELEBRITY and PRINCESS. cabin steward, Louella, very helpfull. bathroom tiny, shower uncomfortably small with clinging shower curtain - we are average size - i had to step out of shower to shave legs. toiletries ok, but we would not descibe them as 'a luxurious pamper pack'!!
ENTERTAINMENT generally good. lots going on at most times if you wanted it.
seascreen, poor quality sound and picture, virtually impossible to watch during the day with the light on it; too chilly to watch it at night.
Playhouse theatre - comfortable, well tiered for good vision. access poor (more about that later). no bar service. usually 3 shows a night so plenty of seats for all.
Malabar - lovely show lounge with tastefull decor. bar service.
Manhatton - nice show lounge, but lots of seats had obstructed or no stage view, so get there early! bar service.
POOL AREAS generally noisy and overcrowded. loungers pushed together so tightly that you had to crawl on and off from the bottom. Terrace pool was supposed to be adults only ( the kids had the run of the rest of the ship), but often kids were in there, sometimes in nappies!
What we didn't like! Azuras layout is dreadfull. we can't believe that she is a newly designed ship - by who?! she is full of dead ends. it is impossible to walk around her ( i really missed my daily 'proms'). the outer decks don't run smoothly, you have to go up and down several flights of stairs to get from A to B. the different banks of lifts only go to certain floors. the main access to the Playhouse theatre is through the Glasshouse bar / restaurant. the whole of the front of the ship on the upper decks is restricted to 'pay extra' passengers (The Retreat), creating a 'class' system; nobody else can even walk around the bow!
EXCURSIONS as with most cruise lines, expensive. we booked an island trip in Vigo for £38 each - we were escorted, on foot, about 200 metres across the dock onto a catamaran, sailed 15mins to the island, left to do our own thing for 3 hours then back to ship. locals were catching the catamarans at a fraction of what we paid!
DISEMBARKATION no problems, we were in one of the first groups off, no delays, luggage easily found, free trolleys to transport to car.