Azura Cruise Review by Traveltop100: Great first cruise, with a few provisos
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Great first cruise, with a few provisos
In very good condition everywhere and kept very clean. Only complaint was that layout was not brilliant and we kept ending up in lobbies that were essentially dead ends and had to go up, along and down to get where we wanted to be. Shame the Promenade Deck doesn't go all around the ship.
As others have said, sun beds were plentiful although reservation was still apparent and no action was taken despite repeated warnings in the ships daily guide - talk tough, act tame. We avoided the front pools area as this tended to be a bit like a crowded beach in Benidiorm and usually had loud music playing - not what we want on holiday.
Had a top grade balcony cabin on Riviera Deck so we could give ourselves the best chance of enjoying our first cruise, and this worked. Midships cabin we had was under Venezia self-service restaurant and we had no noise from above or from adjacent cabins. We did have continuous air-conditioning noise, mainly from corridor outside More room, but I have had worse in hotel rooms in hot climates and we did get used to it. Others we spoke to with cabins under the pools and boarded areas complained of noise from the deck above. One night we had a vibration in the room due to use of the hull stabilisers and this was quite unpleasant. Overall, very happy with cabin and balcony.
We had freedom dining and thoroughly enjoyed it; meeting mainly nice and interesting people over the two weeks, and having some great laughs. Service was excellent and the food was nice, but possibly a bit disappointing based on what P&O lead you to expect. We didn't sample the speciality restaurants, mainly because we couldn't see a point paying a cover charge when the silver service restaurants were so good.
Self service dining was good and I can't see why other reviews have been so critical of it. I do however agree that it was in these dining areas that the less desirable elements of fellow passengers were most apparent - over indulgence, gross waste (eyes bigger than belly), messy eating, inappropriate clothing (sleeveless shirts, base ball caps, bare feet), contamination of servery food with dirty cutlery or returned food items. However, these people were in the minority. It does serve to illustrate a point that others have made, and that we observed, P&O seem to have gone down market and we were surprised how mainly 'bucket & spade brigade', 'Costa' tourists there seemed to be on the cruise - not what we imagined at all, so don't expect an oasis of calm and sophistication!!!
Apart form a couple of exceptions, we thoroughly enjoyed the Playhouse shows, and we attended nearly all of them. What a fantastic theatre the Playhouse is; 800 seats, all in comfort. The Headliners Theatre Company were fantastic considering the amount of material they had to learn and the frequency of shows. Cabaret acts in Malabar and Manhattan were a bit more variable but did provide reasonable entertainment. Sailaways at the Coral Pool were something we didn't attend, mainly because they seemed to consist of very loud music, much of which seemed to be exactly the same at each event. Glad we didn't have a forward cabin as noise must have been awful. There were a few lectures but I found the programme deficient; there should have been a greater number and variety of presentations for those of us interested in enlightenment as well as entertainment.
Generally good choice (don't worry if you forget to bring some clothes, you can get almost anything on board) and prices not too bad either (although not sure about jewellery and watches). There was no pressure to buy from retailing and the staff we dealt with were very nice. The same can't be said of photography, they kept popping up everywhere and I felt there was too much pressure to have pictures taken. Fair enough it's up to the passenger to decide which, if any they buy, but the whole thing was way over the top (must make pots of money for P&O). We did buy a select few pictures and were happy with quality and cost.
Did two P&O excursions and neither were worth the money -- if you can't be bothered to organise ones yourself and have pots of money, go with P&O as they are the most secure (getting back to the ship!). We preferred the ones we pre-organised independently (most of which included unlimited soft and/or alcoholic drinks) or the ones we picked up on the spot; always cheaper than P&O.
The gym on Azura is fantastic and generally around late morning/mid day, no problem getting on the machines, of which there were a tremendous variety (don't miss the mountain bike trainers). Towels, hand sterilisers and wipes are all provided. We didn't sample the 'pampering' services but by all accounts they were very good (at a price!). However, I did note that much of the spiel at the presentations on fitness and health was not factually accurate and was definitely aimed at selling 'detox' etc treatments to gullible/ignorant (not meant to be derogatory) passengers -- but it's up to them what they spend their money on.
Excellent holiday with the only disappointments being the weather (often cloudy and some rain) and the bad flight back to Manchester with Thomas Cook Airlines (never again). Less
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Cabin review: Azura
R605 Midships cabin we had was under Venezia self-service restaurant and we had no noise from above or from adjacent cabins. We did have continuouis air-conditioning noise, mainly from corridor outside room, but I have had worse in hotel rooms in hot climates and we did get used to it. View and privacy were excellent.