Firstly this is only my second cruise, so therefore I can only compare with the one previous cruise I have done which was on the Oceana (P&O) through the Panama Canal.
Azura is a new ship only 18 months old, however it still shows signs of wear and tear. This is to be expected considering it is in service 365 days a year with no rest. However the crew are constantly maintaining it by either painting, varnishing or hosing down on a daily basis. She is a lot bigger than the Oceana carrying over a 1000 more passengers and does take a while to get your bearings.
We had a cabin with balcony on C deck, from viewing the other cabins below and above this is by far the best deck for balconies. with those above less than half the size and the deck below about a third smaller. The interior was spacious and more than adequate, with all the amenities you would expect ie tea, coffee hairdryer etc.
Glass House:- Wine bar by Olly Smith, serving about 32 different wines and food. Lovely quite area to sit and enjoy a glass before and after dinner. Does not get to crowded and can usually find a seat. However Access to the playhouse is through this bar and when the show finishes it does become a walk through, although this only lasts for about 10 minutes.
Blue Bar:- Main bar overlooking the atrium. Acts as a piano bar with music by Frankie Glinksman (relaxing, if not very exciting). When he finishes a 3 piece band normally play in the atrium with dancing also taking place. Nice area to people watch.
Malabar:- Bar amidships which is open to the passageway leading from the atrium to the stern of the ship. Does get quite crowded as it has acts on nightly.
Manhattan:- Similar to Malabar but in a contemporary feel. This lounge also acts as the nightclub.
Planet bar:- This is a cocktail bar on deck 18. Although decor is nice I consider this to be out the way and a bit isolated from the rest of the ship. If you went for a drink there it would take you a good five minutes to get to any of the other bars.
Brodies:- Pub which is attached to the casino, had quizzes, Karaoke, bands etc. However if you wish to play the tables it can get a bit annoying with the noise.
Penisular Restaruant:- We arranged to have select dining on the second sitting on a table of six. The company was excellent and made for enjoyable evenings, I would like to thank Paul, Peter, Charlie and Melody for some great nights. Although the food was nice I did not think it was very original with a lot of nights having similar menus. Also we asked for the second siting to ensure we enjoyed as much of the day as possible, however on reflection eating at 20:30 was to late, with us not finishing our meals until after 22:30.
Sindhu:- Indian restaurant by Atul Kucher, we had an extra charge of Â£15 for this, however it was well worth it. The food was fantastic and service great.
Seventeen:- again an extra charge of Â£20 for the pleasure of this, again very nice, we had the chateau brained which just melted in the mouth. However out of the two I would put Sindhu miles ahead.
Venezia buffet restaurant:- Had breakfast and lunch in here and the food is more than adequate, however although there is plenty of choice, after two weeks it does get a bit tedious.
Pizza bar:- Pizzas were great and made fresh to order, had to wait about 10-15 minutes for them.
In the main service was good, although on occasion you did have to wait at a number of bars to be served. One problem with such a big ship compared to the smaller is the intimacy. On the smaller ships staff get to know you better and become friendly were as on the bigger ships although staff are efficient they seem more distant.Our waiters in the Peninsular however were the exception to the rule and a credit to P & O (Senthil & Kesavan)were not only helpful but also friendly and informative.
The Azura is a nice ship and I would not hesitate to go on it again, however I personally prefer the mid-size ship such as the Oceana due to the more friendly approach by the crew. Not to say this is a bad thing for Azura just that due top the huge size and numbers you can not gain the intimacy we would like with staff who regularly serve you.