Having cruised on Ventura we decided, my disabled son, myself and a friend, to give Azura the once over. Before you go P&O send a brochure for wheelchair users about suitable excursions, although personally we did not use it.
We traveled to Southampton by car arriving at the designated time. As soon as we entered the cruise terminal P&O staff escorted us to a small waiting area for wheelchair passengers. We were soon processed and on board. Our cabin was ready
so after dropping some of our bags there we made our way to the buffet for lunch.
Our stateroom was roomy and spotless the wet-room well equipped and spacious. The access to the balcony is a bit weird with a drop down ramp (the same as Ventura)so
care is needed to make sure the door is fully open and the ramp in the down position before venturing out!
Our cabin steward soon introduced herself. During the cruise she was helpful and courteous. When we needed to have the upper bunk mattress on the floor she was a bit thrown but after making a special note of our request carried on as normal As we had 8 days at sea there were things going on all over the ship. Our travelling companion was keen to brush up on her bridge skills so went along to the classes
for improver's, she found the tuition excellent and even won one of the afternoon games. This left my son and I to do our own thing, which is I think the real advantage of being on a cruise. There were quizzes and talks, films. port presentations etc. besides the outdoor activities (when the weather permitted) Not sure the Seascreen is worth losing the retracting roof for, not much good in wet weather or in daylight.
The staff were beyond reproach from the Captain to the wheelchair assistants on the gangways, nothing was too much trouble. One of the main reasons we go with P& O is the service they provide from the time you get to your departure point until you arrive back home. If you are wheelchair confined all the help is there (not personal care of course)On the flight home the crew of the 'plane were just as helpful.
The entertainment on board is variable, but generally good, especially the resident Headliners who were professional and energetic. Entertainment is very personal but there is something for everyone at some time.
We chose Freedom dining, the choice of food was excellent although we did notice the 'always there' options had disappeared. The waiting staff were always willing to help. When my son ordered something he discovered he did not like they changed it for an alternative.
At other times we ate in the Peninsular restaurant for lunch or the buffet, the food was always first class. I can honestly say we never had any problem with finding a seat.
At the end of our cruise we waited on board until our flight was called, another reason for going with P & O , on other lines you have to leave the ship and wait around all day for your flight.
Overall although there are ups and downs (literally!) P & O are tops for us.
The ship layout can be confusing but there are signs all over the place to help in getting around, there is even a wheelchair lift to get to deck 17.
Our only problem with Azura is with the changes to deck 17 and the Oasis pool. on Ventura these spaces are open to everyone not just the 40 who pay Â£20 a day for the Retreat. As this is the adult only pool and the Jacuzzis have fewer steps my son spent most of his time there when on Ventura.
The covered shaded area on deck 17 is taken up with the Retreat and covered cabanas for spa treatments, what a waste as the views from there are superb and the shade very welcome in the Caribbean. For this reason we will not be going on Azura again, as Ventura and Azura are the only P&O ships with adapted cabins for more than 2 people we will have to go where Ventura goes!
I would agree that the behavior of the minority is appalling, bad language litter, smoking where they please and general disregard for other passengers. No one seems willing to ask these people to comply.
Is P&O in danger of going downmarket? Sadly I think it is