At an evening event in London, the British cruise line unveiled some details on Azura, which is set to debut in April 2010. Highlights include P&O's first-ever spa cabins and an adult-only sun deck sanctuary it calls The Retreat.
The 116,000-ton, 3,080-passenger Azura will offer the range and diversity of Ventura, and the sophistication of Aurora and Oriana, Nigel Esdale, the line's managing director, told assembled journalists. Azura, he added, will primarily be geared to adults and couples -- and the line does not intend to specifically target new-to-cruise passengers (as they did with Ventura). Esdale notes that the new-build will "go back to the core of P&O's Britishness," offering high quality service in a contemporary and indulgent ambience.
Specifically, highlights of Azura's design include:
Sindhu is a new restaurant concept overseen by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, of Benares fame, and cuisine will be India-influenced with a British twist.
A first for a P&O ship (and frankly a first for a 21st century new-build), Azura will have 18 single staterooms to cater to the growing solo cruise market. Other new-to-P&O cabin varieties include a pair of large suites -- suitable for families or groups of friends.
TV wine expert Olly Smith will create The Glass House, another alternative restaurant option; this one will feature a wine bar as well.
Inspired by sister company Princess Cruises' Movies Under the Stars (M.U.T.S.), Azura's main pool area will offer an open-air movie screen. Programming, shown day and night, will range from popular flicks to major sports events.
For families, there will be a specially designated room for Nintendo Wii, a gaming system known for its interactive style (think whipping the joystick around to actually swing a "bat" in a baseball game). The kids' club facilities will be geared to five different age groups and P&O faves Noddy and Mr. Bump will be a presence onboard.
The aforementioned Retreat is modeled after The Sanctuary, the adult-only sun deck area pioneered by Princess Cruises. It will have its own private terrace area with cabanas and sunbeds, and will offer open-air massage treatments.
Passengers residing in spa cabins onboard will not only enjoy close proximity to the ship's health and wellness facilities but also will have special access to The Retreat.
Other entertainment venues will include a London-themed pub; a show lounge designed around New York; and a dance area in the atrium.
Azura will spend its maiden season cruising throughout Europe though official itineraries have not yet been revealed.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor
Share your comments on this story!