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68 P&O Cruises Azura Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

I needed a break so short notice I booked the week prior to leaving. The whole process effortless and on arrival at Southampton this was further established as a very well run operation. I was a little concerned over travelling solo but ... Read More
I needed a break so short notice I booked the week prior to leaving. The whole process effortless and on arrival at Southampton this was further established as a very well run operation. I was a little concerned over travelling solo but apart from paying the extra to travel alone there honestly was nothing to worry about. My balcony cabin was perfect 9 steps from the terrace pool bar and restaurant from Riviera deck with easy access to Lido and above. Why kickstart well this cruise is the first real break in 2 years, have thrown myself in to work and given little back. So I purchased the drinks package in my case great value, great brands Tarquins Gin and Doom Bar Ale are a pre requisite for fun. The food excellent, Peninsula Restaurant and the waiting team Emmanuel Table 44 too good to be forgotten. Entertainment well hence the four from five rating it was enhanced by the presence of the Osmond's but the headliners although talented seemed to lack the soul they were trying to portray. Back to travelling solo I made some great friends and we all certainly were men not without hats! Itenary six days of great weather, only one wet day it would have been great if more entertainment were available on wet days. The Gym pool sauna and steams in the Oasis were fantastic and being surrounded by genuinely lovey people made the recipe for a great week. Book again? Yes Recommend? Yes Sparrowhawk on my Balcony? Yes Thank you Azura Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Baltic cruise review 9th - 23rd June 2018 Baltic Cruise on P & O Azura This was our 3rd cruise with P&O and the second on Azura, first was in 2017 on the return re-positioning cruise in the Caribbean. We are a retired couple ... Read More
Baltic cruise review 9th - 23rd June 2018 Baltic Cruise on P & O Azura This was our 3rd cruise with P&O and the second on Azura, first was in 2017 on the return re-positioning cruise in the Caribbean. We are a retired couple of 65 & 63 respectively. I am female. We live an hour from Southampton. This is a long review but I thought it is helpful to be thorough. June is the time of 'White Nights' which means that there is very little night time by the time St Petersburg is reached. Long, light evenings feel rather strange but make for lovely evenings sitting out if the weather is warm. We arrived by taxi at 2.15 for a boarding time of 3.30 (the M3 can be difficult at weekends in the Summer hence the early arrival time). Boarding was busy but well organised and we were into our cabin at 3.00 pm, cases arrived after around an hour. We were given a card with our dining arrangements as we checked in and were given freedom dining in the Meridien Restaurant. We went straight to Venezia, the cafeteria area on deck 15, where lunch and hot drinks were available. We could have selected salad or a hot meal or various snacks so all were catered for. When we returned to our cabin our cases were there and we unpacked. Cabin was C217 which is an inside cabin in the forward area of deck 10. A quiet area to be in but there was a small amount of noise from the Playhouse Theatre at night until the second show had ended. As always neat, beautifully clean and well equipped with plenty of hanging room in a dressing area outside the bathroom. There was soap, bath hat, shower wash, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion in the bathroom with plenty of good towels and face cloths. There is a tall shelved cupboard which also holds the safe, room for suitcases below the hanging (lots of wooden hangers but I usually take 15 wire hangers too) a long shelf above the hanging with the life jackets on part of it, then in the bed area two drawer bedside tables, a large dressing area with tea/coffee section and flat screen tv above. There are two cupboards under the dressing table, one is the fridge and the other has two shelves. Large mirrors make the cabin feel airy and we have always been happy to have inside cabins as it is a way of cruising without the very high costs. We had a queen bed and the bunks were folded away at each side, not too much of a problem but if you are happy to have twin beds then there would seem to be a lot more room in the cabin. Azura is an easy ship to navigate once you get your bearings. Use the map given at check in to start with then you will know the lay out quite quickly. We try to always use the stairs as a way of burning the calories and avoiding the lifts that often go one floor at a time on endless short trips. The average age on this cruise would be nearer 80 than 60 although there were apparently 30 young children on board too. The clientele on this cruise were in the main delightful, polite and cheerful but many had limited mobility which could be frustrating for all during busy times in the food service areas and corridors or in disembarking for trips. There were some unpleasant characters who were rude and abrasive but this is true in all areas of life and these could easily be avoided or ignored. The staff everywhere were outstanding and lovely to deal with, attentive and quick to anticipate a need without being over familiar. John and Marvin in the dining room made our cruise very enjoyable and Josef our cabin steward was brilliant. We are early birds and Josef was pleased to see our 'Make-up' the cabin card in the door as we left for breakfast often just after 7.00am and again around 5.30 pm so our cabin was always finished on our return. Most people seemed to use the card in this way which really helps the stewards to get on with the job. Two sea days provided endless opportunities to be lazy, eat whenever you wanted to, read quietly either on the outside areas, the Prom deck (7) or we liked the Planet Bar or Atrium so we could be people watching and settled to our books. We did attend some port talks but very little else although there was a huge selection of activities on offer. The weather was cool so sun bathing and swimming were out for the first few days. Travemunde, Germany. Small, pretty sea side town with a good selection of shops. Free shuttle bus for all to the edge of the town. We wandered along the front street where cafes were plenty and we did pick up wifi there. We continued to the very end of the sea walk and left round the corner to the beach area. If the weather was good a day on the beach would be a good way to enjoy the town but it was not a sunny day so we looked then walked back. We picked up excellent free wifi at the pilots station not far from the beach end of the promenade and we sat in a shelter and checked email and sent replies. Returning on an inside road there were more shops and quite near to the pretty church, on the right, we found a €1 shop with lots of great bargains to give as presents. We were back on board by 11.00 am and enjoyed a lazy afternoon. Helsinki, Finland. Weather was good and we left the ship early to walk into the city, an easy and flat trip of 45 minutes. Wifi is always our first hunt and we found it inside a small shopping mall so dealt quickly with any email and had several watsap exchanges with our sons. We wandered the smart and open city shops and streets spotting the sights along the way. We took a No3 tram that had been suggested on Tripadviser as a way of joining the locals assuming it was a round trip but after 15 minutes out into the suburbs it stopped and we were told to get off as it was the end of the line. Small panic but the driver pointed across the road and said 'Centrum' so we set off to find another No 3 back. About 100 yards down the road we found the tram stop. We are embarrassed to say we didn't pay for the rides as we didn't know how to and had assumed we would pay the driver but both times he didn't want to know so our tram ride was free. I have since found out that you get a ticket before boarding at €2.20 per journey. We enjoyed visiting Stocktons Department store and other shops then headed for the harbour where the market sold fruit and craft items. Boat trips left from here and seemed a good deal and were popular. From the harbour we set off on the coast edge path to go back to the ship which was a pretty and fairly flat pavement walk. St Petersburg, Russia Stunning city to visit with glorious architecture, wide roads and pretty vistas of the Neva river and canals. The World Cup didn't affect our visit. Queuing through immigration both out and back in dominated the first day and was frustrating. We had booked a half day tour of The Hermitage which was in the afternoon. This left a free morning when it was quiet on board so I took advantage and did some laundry. There is a laundrette on each deck which is free to use but you need to bring your own detergent. I always buy tablets with built in conditioner as they break up easily but won't leak. The machines are good and there are also tumble dryers and ironing boards with timed irons. The Hermitage was wonderful although busy and the tour guide led us on a good selection of rooms. The floors and ceilings are often as beautiful as the exhibits. Photographs are allowed without flash, there are toilets available and the shops at the end sell a wide variety of souvenirs at reasonable prices for Russian Roubles. The second day we had booked St Petersburg Explorer which is a 7 hour walking tour of the city. This takes you to three stops and you are dropped off by the bus and left to do your own thing for a few hours each time. There is a route suggested on your map and the guide on the bus gives you ideas of where to visit. This gives you a chance to go to shops, visit churches, enjoy the gardens (The Summer Garden is delightful) etc. The day was hot and sunny so it made a great trip and as long as you are comfortable walking for a good stretch this is an ideal trip to see lots of the city. Shops and stalls were happy to take Euros, Dollars or Roubles. Prices were reasonable and often cheaper than in the UK. Return through immigration the second day was very quick. There is a souvenir shop on the dock beside the ship which you can use without going through immigration. Ideal for Russian Dolls and other gifts to take his home. A good selection of items and prices ranged from around £4.00 for a simple doll with 3 inside each other right up to £100 for large and beautiful individual items. Prices here compared well with stalls and shops in the city centre. Food and drink on board The only way to pay for anything on board (except the collection after the Sunday Service) is your cruise card and this is used rather like a credit card where you sign a slip confirming your purchase or drink order. Breakfast can be self service on deck 15 or in one of the restaurants each morning. Lunch can be self service, deck 15 or pizza/burger type food near one of the pools or in the dining rooms. The evening meal is served in whichever restaurant you have been assigned to. We ate breakfast in both places but found the food a better quality in the dining room. Dinner was wonderful and lots of choice. Lots of variety in the menu and good quality and presentation of the food. If you are so inclined you could eat all day as there is always food available and hot drinks on deck 15. Fruit juice is only available till around 11.45 after which there is water or teas & coffee. Earl Grey tea and slices of lemon are always there as well as sachets of decaf coffee. Afternoon tea is served on deck 15 and is always enjoyable although not always a sensible choice if you dine early as it will spoil your appetite! Trays and dishes are cleared constantly. All over the ship and beside the entrance to any eating area there are stands with hand sanitizer available and the vast majority of people use this, helpful in preventing any spread of bacteria. We ate in Sindu one evening which has an extra charge and the food was excellent as was the ambience and service. Others we spoke to had eaten in Epucurian, The glass House and The Beach House and said all were very good and worth the extra charge. Tallin, Estonia Easy walk into the old town via 'Fat Margaret’s Gate'. We were into the town by 08.15 and were ahead of everyone so could get pictures without the irritation of the large man in an orange T shirt with a ‘selfie’ stick who always seems to be around! We walked uphill on cobbled roads to the top to the look-out points then down again into the town square where we had coffee and used the cafe internet. Such a delightful town, very quaint and pretty. Euros were used everywhere. We walked from the old town out to the newer town passed flower sellers and cafes. There was a small market at the end of the road, worth a look for knitwear. We didn't spend too long looking round the more modern area but found good free wifi inside the first shopping centre, near H&M. We found the walk back to the ship easy and flat and were back in time for lunch. The ship was very quiet and we enjoyed a swim and a sit out while watching a film on the sea screen. Stockholm, Sweden We enjoyed a wander round the old then the new Stockholm. Weather was promised to be warm but we were very cold as the wind was whistling up and down the alleys and streets. Layers is definitely the right approach. We caught the shuttle into the city then walked around the old town area, Gamla Stan, then walked under an arch into the shopping area which was good with lots of variety of shops. Some lovely home style shops with interesting items. We got 200 Krone out of a hole in the wall so we could buy coffee and anything else we saw and that was plenty for us. I used the Stockholm Public wifi on the dock whilst sitting on the Prom deck on the ship and it was very strong so I could browse the internet easily. Where we were docked in Stockholm it would be easily possible to get onto a boat that would take you around the area for a tour or hop on hop off. I think walking into the centre is a long way but it would be more direct on foot than in the shuttle bus but still a fair stretch Copenhagen, Denmark The ship docked close enough to walk into the city. The walk along the sea edge took us past the statue of The Little Mermaid, about 10 minutes from the ship, then on into the city. Smart and clean everywhere with lovely architecture. We enjoyed wandering the sights then into the shopping area. We used McDonalds for wifi as there wasn't any near the ship, we paid for our coffee etc in McDonalds by credit card. Great boat tours on offer in the city for 50 Krone per adult for 1 hour canal tour. Another time we would definitely take one of these but do wrap up as it is windy on the water. We walked back to the ship in the early afternoon having felt we had seen all we wanted to. Skagen, Denmark Pronounced ‘Skane’ by the people who live there. Easy walk into town, about ten minutes. Delightful town with good variety of shopping and cafes and the town band played during the morning. About 45 minutes at a fair pace takes you from the centre of town to the car park and sand dune from where you can see the meeting of the seas in the distance. Area is flat and a smooth path is shared by bikes. Bikes for hire were available on the dock area and would have been a good option to get to Grennen and other areas. Shops would take Euros but with a poor exchange rate, or credit cards could be used. We found wifi at 'Jacob's Cafe' in the centre of town where we had coffee. A lovely last destination for a gentle stroll and final shop. Weather was good but with a strong breeze and if walking to the point it may be worth packing a light woolly hat and thin gloves. Leaving Skagen and moving into the North Sea brought us into rough seas for the final sea day and spending time as low down in the ship as possible in the Atrium helped keep us feeling well. Travel tablets were available from the reception desk. Some activities were cancelled because of the poor weather but most continued. Details of disembarkation were given out with the on board daily paper and we packed the main cases and put them outside the cabin door by 9.00pm so they could be taken away. We planned to enjoy a dining room breakfast on the last morning which was available from 6.30am. We had to be out of the cabin by 8.00am at the latest but we left around 6.45 and took our time in the dining room then went to our designated disembarkation area to wait for directions to leave. Self disembarkation was from 7.30 when you could take your own luggage and get off the ship under your own steam if you wanted to and there were lots of people took this option. We left the ship about 45 minutes ahead of expected time and went to search for our luggage in the hall where they were set out by deck. We were one of the latest groups to disembark so there were very few cases left which made ours easy to find. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and the itinerary worked well. We will continue to book cruises with P&O as they are well run and suit us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I guess all experiences relate to price paid so we'll start with that. We always choose an inside cabin as we spend so little time in it. At £585 for a week in the Fjords in August booked two months ahead this was quite a bargain. ... Read More
I guess all experiences relate to price paid so we'll start with that. We always choose an inside cabin as we spend so little time in it. At £585 for a week in the Fjords in August booked two months ahead this was quite a bargain. Embarkation at Southampton was faultless even though we arrived well before our allocated time. Compared with Oceana the ship is a little plainly decorated but spotlessly clean throughout including our cabin which was spacious and comfortable. We were allocated Peninsular restaurant and pleased to be allocated freedom dining. It seems two restaurants are freedon and one fixed. The service and food here were way beyond any criticism. We couldn't believe anybody would pay extra to eat elsewhere. I guess some just have to spend the money. Buffet food was also superb. There were plenty of outdoor areas for those who want a quiet or noisy time. As ever, it's what you make it. The shows were very high quality. Entertainers We3 were incredible. A good mix of comedians etc. We do our own thing so can't comment on the excursions. It was a pity we couldn't go to Flam, though we were warned some weeks before. Too many cruise ships already booked in there? Seems bad planning. Some of the towns were a little dull though I guess they would look better in the sun (we hardly saw it). Sailing into Geiranger Fjord was the highlight. I don't think we'd go back to Norway but pleased to have seen it. We prefer bigger towns with more to see. Dismbarkation at Southampton was a little disorganised. All in all, extremely pleased with everything about the ship, especially at the price. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Was a bit apprehensive as I had an 'OK' experience on the Britannia last year to the Canaries. Need not have worried as the ship was much better. I did not have a bad meal. The lunchtime Sindhu 'tapas' menu for ... Read More
Was a bit apprehensive as I had an 'OK' experience on the Britannia last year to the Canaries. Need not have worried as the ship was much better. I did not have a bad meal. The lunchtime Sindhu 'tapas' menu for £4.95 was brilliant value. I had a balcony cabin on Level 12 at the stern. It was clean, well maintained by the steward, and the balcony was much better than on the Britannia. I used the ships excursions at all of the stops and was glad I did as the guides were informative and I found out more than if I had been looking by myself. Interesting guest speaker on board talking about the war and Bletchley Park. Thought more varied activities could be found for younger people. Entertainment was mostly good but some shows missed the mark. I only gave it a 4 star rating as the pre trip information suggested that there were watercoloring courses on board. When I got on the ship found no such courses. This was irritating. If you want a cultural and historical tour this is a winner. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
although the cruise was good in many ways the one disappointment to my friend and I was the balcony!!! we paid over 1,600 each for an outside cabin with balcony HA! Canada deck 099 room ok, balcony what a let down no glass front like ... Read More
although the cruise was good in many ways the one disappointment to my friend and I was the balcony!!! we paid over 1,600 each for an outside cabin with balcony HA! Canada deck 099 room ok, balcony what a let down no glass front like all the others, overhead blocking out any sun the bridge, also to the left a huge stantion holding up the bridge and a large light fixture on the left hand corner, the front was filled in so no view whatsoever unless stood leaning over the front we did not get any info about this nor did we get a reduced price we also never got any on board spending so what an absolute let down considering the weather was so good we could have had lots of evening drinks on the balcony very very disappointed so if anyone is allocated c o99 BEWARE!!! but on the bright side staff and entertainment brill cabin steward Helison fantastic think next time however go with cunard Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My sister and I decided to book on this cruise because our 60th and 62nd birthdays fell within the date range. Our twin deluxe cabin was very spacious and included amenities such as tea and coffee making facilities, other luxuries such as ... Read More
My sister and I decided to book on this cruise because our 60th and 62nd birthdays fell within the date range. Our twin deluxe cabin was very spacious and included amenities such as tea and coffee making facilities, other luxuries such as champagne and canapes. Meals in the main restaurants were surprisingly good. even though they catered to the overwhelmingly English guests. Specialty restaurant meals, especially at Sindhu Indian fusion restaurant, were outstanding. But these were at an additional cost. Meals at the buffet restaurants upstairs at Venezia and Verona were boring and tasteless. In comparison to other cruise lines such as Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and even MSC, buffets on Azura had much to be desired. Pizzas tasted like cardboard and the selection was only limited to two or three. P & O marketing of shore excursions outlines why passengers should purchase their excursions (at a much inflated price). One of the reasons is that they ensure no passenger will be left behind. Well, guess what happened to us in Oslo on out booked Explorers Museums tour with them? We were not more than two minutes late and the bus had left without us. We had a very elderly local guide who could not both going into the main entrance, nor was there was no headcount on boarding the bus. We caught a taxi back to the ship and informed them of what had happened. Staff did not seem to care, telling us that the matter would be investigated and to return the following day. We returned and it soon became clear that the matter had not been followed up. They told us that given we were late, albeit even two minutes, the tour was in its right to continue without us. We were not entitled to any refund as it was our fault. Excursion staff became very rude refusing to talk to us any longer. Entertainment on board was also very poor. We had travelled with MSC from Venice to Buenos Aires last November and we were surrounded with exciting Tango and Salsa shows, acrobatic displays, Flamenco and other displays. Performances on Azura were outdated and simply old fashioned. I must say the one positive note from this cruise was the service staff, who were predominantly Indian or Filipino. They were quick to respond to individual passenger requests and were very attentive to needs. The Anglo staff onboard could learn several lessons in manners and customer relations. From my first experience with P & O I would never sail with them again. I would also advise others to steer well away from them until they rethink and re-establish their staff and customer relations program, especially for English staff. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Just brilliant cruise.Chose this cruise for the wonderful itinerary as never been to Scandanavia and Russia before. Very smooth check in at Southampton and with a 3.30 boarding allocated time we chose to look around Southampton first ... Read More
Just brilliant cruise.Chose this cruise for the wonderful itinerary as never been to Scandanavia and Russia before. Very smooth check in at Southampton and with a 3.30 boarding allocated time we chose to look around Southampton first which was wonderful and port had 3 other big ships in including Britannia. Bags were waiting outside cabin and room was inside cabin but just right for us. Lots of storage and space for clothes and kept lovely and clean by steward, Staff throughout the ship were very friendly and soon got to know names ,Never saw or met a grumpy member of staff so well done P and O !! Food was a little bland in the buffet at the beginning of the cruise but certainly improved after a few days. The food in the glass house and sindhu was outstanding and well worth the extra pennies!. Visited both several times..Love the planet room and spent a couple of hours in there after leaving different ports and watching the beautiful scenery from the back of the ship with complimentary snacks ! Most passengers dressed up for the Black Tie nights in fact I have never seen so many tuxedos and bow ties as on this cruise.The shore excursions were very well run and we thought reasonably priced. We only saw a couple of shows and a couple of guest performers and all were enjoyable. Lots of sunbeds for everyone and mostly empty on the 19th deck so could pick and choose on sea days. The ship although has lots of passengers seems to has lots of rooms, lounges and bars etc and good staffing numbers to never have to wait or queue for anything. Roll on the next P and O cruise,! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The Baltic is indeed lovely but I would not advise going with P and O. The ship is attractive and the waiters and room stewards are delightful. The food is good. However, this ship has problems. It could do with a thorough clean. ... Read More
The Baltic is indeed lovely but I would not advise going with P and O. The ship is attractive and the waiters and room stewards are delightful. The food is good. However, this ship has problems. It could do with a thorough clean. Passengers are not allowed to go onboard without a sickness disclaimer. Yet you cannot go to any restaurant without sanitising your hands. I understand from reading reviews (too late) that a noro virus attack last autumn is responsible. So why did they not take Azura out of service and clean it? Our main problem which spoilt our holiday completely was that of an overflowing toilet. It happened the first night. Failure to help ensured that the entire cabin was flooded before the floor manager arrive and turned the stock cock off. We did expect to be moved but there were no spare rooms on the ship except two very low grade doubles. We had to take one as we could not get into the room. The thought of my shoes on the floor was awful. It took a day to dry out the room only to find that the plumbing had not been sorted. So the minute we flushed it happened again. I was told this happens a lot. So do be aware of this if you have OCD like me. It is really not nice. When we complained we were offered a £15 voucher and later a £50 refund. After going ashore, we issued a formal complaint and were offered a further £150. We paid for a balcony room so this was inadequate. The lady who dealt with our complaint was very uncaring. Many people on the ship felt the service had deteriorated. There were no free soft drinks. The entertainment was poor. The queue to get back on the ship was long causing distress for a lady with alzheimers. Noone seemed to care. I would definitely not recommend P and O until they clean up their act and put customers first. I am hoping to find another company with a better reputation for customer care. It is one thing to have an overlowing toilet and another ro have no spare cabins and no staff on immediate call. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Our first cruise and we chose Azura because it was going to St Petersburg. We were not sure what to expect and were somewhat apprehensive with 3000 people on board but it exceeded our expectation. Organisation was excellent getting on ... Read More
Our first cruise and we chose Azura because it was going to St Petersburg. We were not sure what to expect and were somewhat apprehensive with 3000 people on board but it exceeded our expectation. Organisation was excellent getting on and off the ship, particularly in St Petersburg with most of the passengers going on excursions. Cabin was fine with the steward attending at least twice a day. We enjoyed the gym, with excellent fitness instructors. Food generally was very good but exceptional in Sindhu where the tastes were sensational. We will be visiting Atul Kochhar's restaurant when we next go to London. The entertainment highlight was the Deputy Entertainment managers Elvis impersonation. He had a very good voice but this was actually a very funny comedy act. The tears of laughter were falling down my husband's face for the entire 50 minutes. All in all a very pleasant first cruise experience and we would consider again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
It seemed to take time for things to warm up on the ship (atmosphere wise) but did improve and we met some great people. This was our 4th trip now with P&O and whilst we enjoyed it we didn't seem to get the same feeling as we ... Read More
It seemed to take time for things to warm up on the ship (atmosphere wise) but did improve and we met some great people. This was our 4th trip now with P&O and whilst we enjoyed it we didn't seem to get the same feeling as we did on the others (e.g. Ventura, Oceana and the lovely Britannia). The port stops were brilliant and Tallin, Stockholm and Oslo were our favourites and we could understand why people do this trip more than once and definitely would love to do this one again. St Petersburg was also great and only ventured on Excursions which were OK. The first day we went to St Catherine's Palace which was beautiful and we were lucky with the weather and didn't have to queue and it was not that busy. As usual you could always do with more time on these excursions but this was worth it. The first night we went to the Folklore show and this was first class. We were not expecting the Russian solder singers but they were first class and the dancing was amazing. A lovely building and a most enjoyable evening. The second morning we went to St Peter Hof Palace which was much busier and you were herded through the rooms quickly but our guide stood her ground and got us through at her pace so she could tell us everything. The wind was strong and we were the last lot to get into the hydofoil as the wind was too strong to get people on and off but I must say that once on it was fine. We had got Rubles and other denominations but we were surprised to find that most places took Euros and wish we had known beforehand. The only places you needed their own currency was Stockholm and Onslow. The excursion in Stockholm for the dome trip was worth it and the views were brilliant as we did have clear blue skies. The remainder of the ports we did our own thing. When buying gifts the best ports were Helsinki, Tallin and St Petersburg and then it started going up in price and quite dramatically. Great things to buy in Helsinki, Tallin and St Petersburg and wish I had bought more. The Azzura on the whole was a pleasant experience apart from the fact that there was definitely an issue (odour) on deck 5 which did get sorted out but also came came now again. We did find that there were too many sun lounges which didn't give you a lot of room to manouvre in between and we have advised P&O in our feedback on this. The entertainment was probably the best we had seen on our cruises. The Michael Buble tribute singer was amazing and the comedians were brilliant and very funny. Overall good trip but felt it lacked something and felt it was not one of their ships that we would particularly go back on. If you get to see Joel in the Manhatten bar, Roger at the Breakers Bar please say hello to them from 3 of us who had great conversations and laughs with. Great guys. Enjoy this trip and hope our review helps. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Here I go writing another review in support of P & O. Having been on Azura once before and enjoying ourselves immensely, we were somewhat concerned at the less than cheery reviews of this ship and were worried we had made a big ... Read More
Here I go writing another review in support of P & O. Having been on Azura once before and enjoying ourselves immensely, we were somewhat concerned at the less than cheery reviews of this ship and were worried we had made a big mistake but yet again they were unfounded. This ship is NOT dirty, the staff are NOT rude and the food is NOT abysmal. I really really can't fathom out who these people are who are complaining of the filth etc. We are lucky enough to stay in a suite and I would say if there were issues, we, especially me, would find them, when you pay a considerable amount of money to holiday for a week, you expect the highest of standards and that is exactly what we found. The ship is immaculate throughout, not once did I so much as see a crumb on the floor and believe me, I went on there with my fine tooth comb and magnifying glass, every time I used the toilets, they were being cleaned and polished. So when I read that someone is complaining that there was some "dust on the panals" I have to laugh, is that really the best you can find to complain about? How very trivial, believe me future passengers, this ship is clean. Next the staff, I have never in my life come across a rude or surly one, nor do they stand in corners chatting to each other, as soon as they see you they are over to attend. One reviewer said "all they try to do is sell you drink constantly" then another review said "they ignore you" not sure, which one is it??? If you show them respect you will get it right back. I really do have to defend these people,they are a delight,well mannered and you do get such a laugh with them,once they know you.Only after two visits to the Glass House the waitress remembered our name,what a lovely touch. They are hard working men and women and yes,I'm sure they have off days but after nine months at sea without a day off,what do you expect,give them a break........please Next the food,I'm vegetarian and such a fussy so and so but not once did I find fault,although I would like to see more than just one option for veggies,my husband on the other hand enjoys his carnivorous ways and he said the food was fantastic,obviously not better than mine but he has to say that or I don't feed him when we get home : ) Again,I'm not sure who is doing the complaining,if it's fried egg and chips you like,then yes,maybe find a cruise line that caters for your taste,it's fine dining in the restaurants and that is most definitely what you get. The buffet was also in for some hammering by some and again,I can't understand why,the food is great by buffet standards and please remember they are catering for over 3000 passengers,not bad when you think about it.Great selection for lunch,not sure what other people eat at lunch times but there was certainly plenty for our taste,hot food and salad,rolls, hams,cheeses and desserts,was all fab.Bit scared to weigh myself though. So,if you are about to take a trip on Azura,please don't worry,we're such fussy whatsits and we loved it,would definitely go back on her,she's not as beautiful as Oceana but she is still a lovely ship,so go and have a fantastic holiday Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
A couple of weeks have gone by since my husband and I disembarked the Azura in Southampton, after our Baltic cruise. So it’s time to put pen to paper – or rather jot down a few notes on the old laptop, before the memories become too ... Read More
A couple of weeks have gone by since my husband and I disembarked the Azura in Southampton, after our Baltic cruise. So it’s time to put pen to paper – or rather jot down a few notes on the old laptop, before the memories become too hazy. This was our fifth cruise but our first with P & O. Last year we sailed with Royal Caribbean on the Serenade of the Seas and in 2013 with Thomson on the Island Escape. Our other cruises were on the Thomson Destiny in 2011 and on the Airtours’ Carousel in 1996. GETTING THERE. We live in the Canary Islands and had to fly out from Lanzarote the day before the cruise, to ensure that we would be there in plenty of time to get down to Southampton. We travelled down from Gatwick to Southampton on a National Express coach as there were no other suitable alternatives but we wouldn’t do that again! The coach was old and rickety and the promised WiFi did not exist, so 3 hours on an old coach with uncomfortable seats, being thrown around on the many roundabouts that were encountered on the tedious journey, was not a good start to our holiday. We had booked a night at the Premier Inn, West Quay and were so glad to finally arrive at Southampton and get off that coach. The hotel was only 5 minutes’ walk away from the bus station and was easy to find. We had a lovely room with a comfortable bed and just dropped off our bags and went straight down to eat something before the restaurant closed. The restaurant was busy and full of families joining their various cruise-ships the following day but we got our food quite quickly and enjoyed every bite. After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we were raring to get on board! We had been sent an embarkation time of 2 p.m. but as we had to be out of our hotel by midday, we just checked out, got a taxi and arrived at the port at around 12 o'clock. Our bags were whisked out of our hands and we were sent into the hall and handed cards with a "P" on them. We filled in our health declarations and waited about 10 minutes until the P's were called and suddenly we were on board! The system was organised and the queue constantly moving. There was no reference to the time that we had been allocated - they just kept on processing the people who were actually there. By 12.45 we were sitting in the Verona buffet, having lunch. The cabins were ready at exactly 2 p.m. as we had been informed previously. We were ready to start our cruise! MUSTER CALL This was a bit of a joke as we were told that we all had to meet at our muster point, which in our case was the Manhattan bar. People were milling around aimlessly and the staff (who all seemed to be teenagers) were holding their clip-boards looking important but nobody actually did a roll-call!! Surely, that should be the first thing to do and with an electronic card reader, this could have been done as we walked into the room. On Royal Caribbean, we all had to go to our life-boat station where a roll-call was done and everybody put into neat rows and were expected to pay attention to the information that was being given. P & O’s muster call was a bit like a friendly get-together. THE FOOD I would give the food and dining options on the Azura an 8 out of 10. My husband and I dine out a couple of times each week and enjoy good food, well presented. We’re not huge drinkers but enjoy a nice wine with our dinner. But we’re not used to having dress up in formal attire just to go out to dine. We live on a holiday island in the sun and our clothes reflect our lifestyle. My husband doesn’t own any shirts – let alone any ties to wear with them! So we faced the dilemma of what to wear and where to eat on our cruise. If my husband had had his way, we would have eaten every meal in the buffet but I like to have a well-cooked meal served to me at a table with a white tablecloth and to be able to savour the meal, the wine and the surroundings. I can understand that some people don’t have the opportunity to dine out very often and enjoy the dressing up and formality that many cruises offer on their formal nights but I don’t want to be forced to do that. I could understand in the old days when the newer cruise lines were trying to compete with the likes of Cunard etc. and cruise passengers were given the opportunity to dress up in their finery and all go down to dinner in the main dining room and do their synchronised eating of those 6 or 7 courses that took most of the evening. But since the advent of freedom dining, where people can choose to dine at any time during the evening, the point of people dressing up in dinner jackets and ball gowns seems rather pointless when the dining room might only have a few people dining at that time. What a waste of time and energy! We are happy to go down to dinner dressed as we would dress when we go out for dinner at home but T shirts are not permitted in the dining rooms at dinner time and that’s what my husband would be dressed in. We’re talking smart T shirts and jeans here – not a cut-away singlet with ripped jeans! I did manage to get him into a lounge suit with a black shirt and a grey tie a couple of times during the cruise but he was not comfortable dressed like that and he was keen to get the meal over as soon as possible so that he could go back to the cabin to get into comfortable clothes again. The choice of “dress as you like but eat in the buffet” against “dress as we tell you and you can dine in a dining room and be served by a waiter” seems rather dictatorial. I agree that inappropriate attire such as shorts and swimwear should not be allowed in the dining room in the evening but smart T shirts with jeans are regular evening attire for many people in this day and age, including celebrities! Some other cruise lines have brought in totally freestyle cruising, where you can eat anywhere at any time. P & O could bend a little and offer eating options that suit everyone. Why not have a formal dining room where those who love to dress up can dine in their dinner jackets and ball gowns every night if they want to? And then another less formal dining room for people who like to dine in comfortable surroundings with waiter service but prefer to dress normally? Why should we be forced to eat in the buffet where the tables were often left littered with other people’s dining debris and the most common meal was yet another curry? Now that there are 2 freedom dining rooms, the Meridian and the Peninsular, why not make one of these available for people who don’t want to dress up at all? On the few occasions that we did dine in the Peninsular, we found that the food was tasty and well presented but it wasn’t haute cuisine and certainly not worthy of an hour or two of dressing up! The difference between eating in the Peninsular and in the Venezia was enormous though. The buffet served basic food that was nothing special. The breakfasts were very disappointing though and could have offered more choices. I can’t help but comparing the breakfasts offered on the Azura to those offered on the Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas last year. There, they had trays of crispy bacon, eggs cooked to order, pancakes, all types of bread, freshly made toast and they served the milk for the cereals in individual serving packs of either full or semi-skimmed. Azura breakfasts were very disappointing with only back bacon on offer. The fried eggs seemed to have been cooked in the oven and were either solid or half raw. How hard is it to fry an egg so that the white is set and the yolk is still runny? The tomatoes were cut into quarters and somehow warmed up a bit but were never cooked. The toast was soggy and not very hot. The milk was only available from a large dispenser that was topped up with refills poured in on the top of the old milk. Milk needs to be treated with respect and should be transferred from one place to another with scrupulous care. With the recent incidences of norovirus on the Azura, one would have thought that food hygiene would have been taken very seriously and milk is the ideal carrier for bacteria and probably viruses too. Anyway, if I am collecting the various components of my breakfast on a tray, I don’t want to be obliged to pour milk from a large container onto my cereals whilst I am still walking around with the rest of my breakfast on a tray, still in my hands. By the time a table has been found and I have sat down and put my food on the table, my cereals are soggy and also very likely have been spilt onto the tray. When you enter the buffet, you are handed a tray with a knife and fork. You go round and collect the food that you want and then go and sit down and realise that you don’t have a spoon for your cereals. So you return to the buffet to get one and have to disinfect your hands again just to go in. You return to your table and realise that you haven’t picked up any juice, so you leave your breakfast again to walk down to the end of the room to get some juice from the machine. The table may have been laid with some mugs and a few sachets of milk, sugar etc. A waiter comes and offers you tea and fills your mug but then you realise that there are no teaspoons anywhere and there aren’t enough milk capsules. When you go and get your own tea from the drinks station, you find that the first thing that you find are the mugs and then the waste container. But you don’t have any waste as you haven’t even got close to the tea-bags yet. They are the next thing that you come to. So you put your tea-bag into your mug and then move on to the hot water, fill your mug and then have to go back again to get some milk from the large container that is located between the tea-bags and the hot water dispenser. But then you need to dispose of the used tea-bag and have to go back to where you came in as that is where the waste container is. If there is a long queue of people getting their drinks, having to go back and forth can mess up the efficiency of the system. Why not have all the cutlery in one place and the drinks area laid out in order of use? The afternoon teas were very good. The toasted teacakes were wonderful and so were the scones. The small dishes of fresh whipped cream, set out for the scones was a nice touch. Whilst it’s good to have a theme for the evening buffets, there should also be a selection of dishes that are not part of the theme. I don’t like spicy food and found that the number of curries that were on offer was excessive for the number of days that we were on the cruise. Whether the fact that many of the staff in the Venezia were from India had any influence on this, is not certain but there were just too many curries! On most days there was a roast of some sort but inevitably, the meat was totally over-cooked. I’m not one of those people that think that lamb chops should be served semi-raw or roast beef should bleed all over the place but neither do I like roast meat totally overcooked and dry. There were the same potatoes on the buffet almost every day. These were potatoes that had been “roasted” (probably in the deep fat fryer) with their skins still on, so they were brownish but not at all crispy. We did get lovely mashed potatoes one evening though! The other option was frozen french fries. Generally the vegetables were very al dente and too undercooked for me. I don’t like soggy vegetables but I do like them so you can cut through them with a knife! The desserts were generally very good and a special recommendation must be made for the delicious Queen of Puddings that we had one day. I haven’t seen one of those for the last 20 years and have now downloaded the recipe so that I can make one too. Superb! The above are just nit-picking comments and in general, the food was very good. We didn’t try any of the speciality restaurants though as we assumed that the food that we had paid for would be of a good enough standard. We thought that the wine selection was very good and the prices reasonable. We liked the wine dispenser in the Venezia and thought that it might have been nice to have one of these in our cabin! THE SHIP The Azura is a much larger ship than the ship that we cruised on last year – the RCI Serenade of the Seas - but it’s not the largest ship in the P & O fleet, as that is the recently launched Britannia. The general layout of the Azura was fairly good but gaining access to some areas drove us and many other passengers mad. Firstly, the signage was pretty useless, especially when using the lifts. Why isn’t there a large sign denoting the floor number on each landing next to the lifts? There was some tiny writing by each lift and if you were really observant, you would see that the slightly brighter writing told you which floor you were on. Most of the staircases didn’t have anything to indicate which floor you were actually on either, nor indeed which staircase, so there were people wandering around aimlessly looking for some indication as to where they were. Apart from putting some large numbers on each landing, they should also have a 3D model of the ship to show you where you are and where you might want to be. And to make life really simple, why not colour code each section of the ship so you know whether you are in the aft, amidships or forward stairwell? And arrows pointing forward and aft would tell you which direction you are going too! Often on port days people were wandering around aimlessly trying to find where the disembarkation point was, as many of the staircases that were not directly related to the disembarkation point had absolutely nothing to tell you where to go. As disembarkation is a regular happening on any cruise ship, why aren’t there any electronic notices on all landings and public areas informing passengers of when and where to disembark? The signage on Royal Caribbean ships is much better, with large numbers on every landing and a detailed 3D model of the ship by every lift. The aft lifts only went down from deck 19 to deck 7 or to certain areas of deck 6, so on port days it was necessary to run half a mile down our corridor to the forward lifts in order to get down to the disembarkation area without having to go down to deck 7 and then walk through virtually the entire ship to get to the forward stairs to get down to deck 6 or 5 or wherever they were disembarking that day. The aft lifts do go down to deck 6 but only to the Oriental restaurant, so all those passengers whose cabins were at the forward end of the ship and had been allocated the Oriental restaurant, had to do the same long trek but in reverse. Anyone wanting to go up to the Sky deck on deck 19 could only do so from the aft lifts or take a long climb up the stairs. But apart from that, the public areas were great. There was something for everyone and plenty of space to do it in. We are not really what you would call social people and are not interested in being “entertained”, so we didn’t join the bingo or the quizzes or go to sit in a bar to drink the night away. We have never watched “Strictly Come Dancing” on TV but we did go to the Playhouse on a couple of the evenings to watch a dance display and also to the finals of the On-Board Dancing competition. Other than that, we did watch a few movies on the Sea-screen and in the Playhouse. We were disappointed that there wasn’t a dedicated cinema on board as the cold weather made watching movies out on the Sea-screen, late at night, a real challenge. The Sea-screen also needs replacing as there were red blobs in certain places on the screen that spoilt the enjoyment of the movie. There was also a total lack of signage for toilet facilities on the lido deck around the pool areas. You could wander around for hours searching for one! So there were good and not-so-good things about the Azura that possibly affected the overall enjoyment of our cruise. THE CRUISE Leaving Southampton, we passed the Royal Caribbean’s new “Anthem of the Seas”. Quite an ugly ship of the towering-block type – not a ship that I would be wanting to cruise on. The weather was cold and blustery with intermittent showers. We passed the Isle of Wight and then turned left to continue our journey up the North Sea. Dinner in the Venezia buffet. The following day was a sea day, which continued to be blustery, cold and quite foggy. Formal evening dinner in the Peninsular restaurant. We were sailing up to the northernmost tip of Denmark and would be stopping at Skagen the following day. This was the first time a ship belonging to the Carnival Line would be visiting Skagen, so it was somewhere new for almost all the passengers. Skagen is Denmark’s northernmost town and is situated on the east coast of the Skagen Odde peninsula in the far north of Jutland. It is Denmark's main fishing port and also has a thriving tourist industry, attracting some 2 million people annually. At the top of the town, there is a point where the 2 seas meet and you can stand with one foot in the North Sea and the other in the Baltic Sea. We didn’t bother doing that though, as it was very cold and windy outside the main town area. Skagen has a “pretty village” feel about it in the main tourist area and there were lots of small shops to browse around and a pleasant internet café to stop in for a coffee and a quick check of the emails. We left Skagen quite early in the afternoon and continued on our journey to our next port – Stockholm, which would be arrived at after another sea day. Dinner in the Venezia buffet. The weather was now a bit brighter with temperatures of around 14ºC but we had a pleasant sea day with a clear sky and calm seas. Formal evening dinner in the Peninsular restaurant. Stockholm was cloudy and drizzly and quite cold. We bought Hop-on Hop-off bus/boat tickets and drove the whole route around the capital and then stopped off to wander round Gamla Stan, have some lunch and then catch a boat to tour the harbour. We got off at the Vasa museum and spent an hour or so viewing this amazing ship and finding out how sailors lived back then. We were lucky enough to miss some heavy rain whilst we were in there and came out to puddles and dripping tree branches but no further rain. We caught the next boat which took us to the stop right next to where the Azura was moored. The next 4 hours were wonderful as the ship wove its way through the thousands of islands on its way back out into the Baltic Sea. Such a beautiful place and by the evening, the perfect sunset to go with it! Dinner in the Venezia buffet. The next morning we had arrived in Tallinn. We caught the shuttle bus into the town and made our way towards the old town. On the way, we passed a market selling locally produced garments (well, that’s what they said, anyway!) and I bought a jumper to help keep out the cold. Tallinn is full of character and still retains its walled, cobble stoned town centre, with its large square full of cafes and shops, as well as a 15th-century defensive tower. The Estonian History Museum is dedicated to the country's 20th-century history, and its towering Gothic Town Hall is among the Baltic region's oldest. After wandering around the town for a while, taking in the scenery, we stopped off at an open-air bar on the square and were seated on wooden benches covered with sheepskins. Nice touch! After a meal and catching up with our emails via the free WiFi, we returned to the ship on a cycle rickshaw driven by a very strong young man! Dinner in the Venezia buffet. The following morning we had arrived in St. Petersburg – the highlight of the cruise! Despite all the warnings about how complicated leaving the ship to go on excursions with anyone other than the ship’s tours would be, we had arranged a 2-day tour with T.J. Travel. Disembarkation was fairly simple and after waiting our turn to leave the ship, we passed through immigration, had our visas stuck into our passports and our passports stamped and we were in Russia! Our guide from T.J. Travel, Nina was waiting outside the terminal and took us to our minibus. The wonderful places that were included in the St. Petersburg tour were: City tour including photo stops in the most beautiful, historical places of St Petersburg. Travel to Peterhof by hydrofoil and then guided tour of the Upper Gardens and Lower Fountain Park. Driving to Pushkin city. Traditional Russian lunch (included). Inside guided tour of Catherine Palace with the Amber Room. Driving to the city. A visit to the subway station. Inside guided tour of Peter and Paul Cathedral. Guided tour of the State Hermitage museum (early admission, before the official opening hours). Traditional Russian lunch (pie shop - included). Guided tour of the Faberge museum. Inside guided tour of the Church of the Spilt Blood. Those 2 days sped by so quickly and with so much content, that in no time at all, we were back on the Azura and moving on to our next destination, which was Helsinki. Dinner in the Venezia buffet on both evenings. The visit to Helsinki was on the Sunday and the weather was warm and sunny and the water front was buzzing with people out enjoying the weather. There was a craft market going on and some lovely fruit was being sold on some of the stalls and there were also several food stalls serving freshly grilled salmon and other fish dishes. It seemed that the whole town was out there eating healthy food and spending time with their families. The shops open on a Sunday in Helsinki but not until midday and after that, the place was crowded with shoppers and was very lively. We found out that the town hall had free WiFi and also had some free internet terminals for those people without laptops. We found the place and went in and were given 30 minutes free on a modern terminal, long enough to change our bus tickets back to Gatwick and also print them off. There was no charge for this service and the people working there that day were pleasant and very helpful and also spoke perfect English. Dinner in the Venezia buffet. The next day was a well-deserved sea-day and was quite a sunny day. We just relaxed on our balcony for most of the day. Formal evening dinner in the Peninsular restaurant. The following day was Day 11 and we were in Copenhagen. Another free day to do as we pleased. So we disembarked the ship and walked along the harbour until we found the Mermaid. She was as small as everyone said that she was, so nothing much to report there. We then bought tickets for the Hop-on/Hop-off bus on the Red-Blue line. People need to be warned about this company as they were conning most of their clients. They advertised free Wi-Fi but when the bus arrived, there was no Wi-Fi available. Another couple were waiting with us and told us that so far, 2 different buses had come and gone and neither of them had Wi-Fi aboard. After making a complaint about us having to waste half our day waiting for a bus to come that did have Wi-Fi and asking for our money back to find a bus that did actually have the offered services, a bus came along and told us that it did have Wi-Fi aboard. It did but it was impossible to log-on because the signal was too weak. The commentary was out of sync and stopped abruptly every now and then and changed to another topic half-way though talking about something else. Only one channel of my ear-phones worked. The people operating this service seemed to be running a big con and they couldn’t care less. They all seemed to be middle-eastern and were speaking Arabic amongst themselves. It left a nasty taste to think that our general experience of Copenhagen was being conned by people who did not appear to even be Danish. By the time we had competed the tour of the town, it was too late to take one of the boat tours that were running around the port area. Disappointing day! Dinner in the Venezia buffet. Moving on to the next day and the next port, we find ourselves in beautiful Oslo. The sun was shining and the air was warm. There was a Hop-on/Hop-off bus waiting just outside the exit from the ship, so we jumped on it to do the tour of the city. We left the bus outside the Kontiki museum and spent a pleasant hour revisiting Thor Heyerdahl’s amazing expeditions. We then moved on to the Viking Ship museum and saw the old ships that had been dug up, along with many other ancient relics from the Viking period. We returned to the city centre and walked around for a while and stopped off in a waterfront bar for a drink before returning to the ship. The journey out of Olso was breathtaking, passing lots of beautiful islands in a perfect sea on a perfect day. Dinner in the Venezia buffet. The following day was our last sea day and our last opportunity to relax around the ship. We were back in the North Sea and the weather had come down again. Damp and misty and nothing much to see other than a few oil-rigs. Formal evening dinner in the Peninsular restaurant. We arrived at Zeebrugge early in the morning but had decided tp have a bit of a lie-in and had booked a tour of Bruges with P & O, which was due to start at 11.30 a.m. There was to be another crew emergency drill that morning and this included a supposed electricity cut, which would mean that the lifts would be out of action during the drill. Did they start the drill once all the tour buses had left? No, they blocked all the lifts on the ship just as all the passengers booked on the bus tours needed to make their way down to the disembarkation point on deck 5. We were having breakfast on the Lido deck 15, so we had to walk down 10 flights of stairs. We did not think that this was good planning on the part of the ship’s management, who could have surely waited until the tours had all left the ship before they began their crew emergency drill. After all our previous days in port on our own, we weren’t terribly impressed with the organisation of this tour. It was called Bruges at Your Own Pace but ended up with the entire bus load all having to walk a couple of miles behind the guide at the speed of the slowest person in the group. We were led to a place where we were all to meet again at 15.15h and left to our own devices. We caught a canal boat cruiser and spent a very pleasant hour viewing the town from the water. We then went for a walk around town and stopped off for some lunch. Visiting one of the many chocolate shops was our last stop, where we bought some delicious Leonidas to bring back with us. We were back on the ship for our last night and the final part of our journey back to Southampton. Dinner in the Venezia buffet. Next morning we were back in Southampton and waiting to disembark the ship. We had put our suitcases outside our cabin door at 20.30h the previous evening, so had only our hand luggage with us. We had to be out of our cabin by 08.00h and had been given a disembarkation time of 10.00 – 10.10h and had been allocated the Manhattan bar as out meeting point. We vacated our cabin at the appointed hour and went up to Venezia for a leisurely breakfast. It was understandably busy up there and somewhat chaotic. There was a definite feeling that they just wanted us off the ship so that they could get the next intake on board, so the buffet was a rather hit and miss affair that morning. Shame that our last meal was so disappointing! The disembarkation procedure was a bit of a farce. We were all waiting in our allocated places but the speed that people were leaving the ship was one by one. We were the last group to go and by this time, we were almost an hour later than scheduled and we had people waiting to pick us up outside the terminal. Once we finally disembarked the ship, we realised that the delay was in the terminal building. There were thousands of people trying to leave the baggage shed with their luggage through ONE DOOR! There were several queues of people shuffling along and joining one central queue of passengers trying to get out. What a shambles! Just as well there were no emergencies! This was another negative comparison with Royal Caribbean in Barcelona where we were given a disembarkation time of 06.15h, walked off the ship and had our luggage come down a chute into our hands and were outside the terminal in 5 minutes and checked into our hotel and were back into bed by 07.30h. Maybe the Spanish just do it better or maybe Royal Caribbean are just more efficient! We spent the day with our friends and then had to begin the return journey back to Lanzarote. Firstly the rickety bus journey back to Gatwick on a National Express coach, followed by a night in the Bloc hotel right inside the Gatwick’s South Terminal. A very early check-in and then the flight with Monarch airways back to Lanzarote. By 13.00h, we were home again and it was the end of our Baltic cruise with P & O. All in all it was a great cruise on a fantastic ship, with the opportunity of visiting a lot of wonderful places that otherwise we might never see. Would I do that cruise again? Probably not but I would like to cruise the Norwegian fiords. Would I book with P & O again? Yes I possibly would - in fact I am already browsing their website for Caribbean cruises for 2016/2017 but there’s a lot more competition out there now, so they’d better pull their socks up! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
p AND o ARE THE 3RD different CRUISE LINE WE HAVE BEEN ON AND they are by far the best for wheelchair users. I slso want to say how excellent their care is. Whilst on the cruise I had a massive stroke. they got me to hospital and continued ... Read More
p AND o ARE THE 3RD different CRUISE LINE WE HAVE BEEN ON AND they are by far the best for wheelchair users. I slso want to say how excellent their care is. Whilst on the cruise I had a massive stroke. they got me to hospital and continued to support us as we were in hospital in another country trying to get home by air ambulance. Pleas understand thar due to my stroke I have severe difficulties using the computer, but I wanted to say how great the cruise was and how fabulous p and o are Embarkation was very smooth, and when our cabin was ready we were met by our steward who explained everything. We were in an adapted balcony cabin which was large and suitably adapted for my needs. We always have freedom dining or the equivalent and found this very easy. We ere given the option of dining alone or with others, we varied and found ourselves meeting some really interesting people. The food was superb. \we had booked special wheelchair user tours for Tallinn and St Petersburg. These were well worth the money. We had fantastic guides and drivers. One of the reasons we chose P and O was the fact that they did accessible tours. In addition, at every port where there were shuttle buses they had accessible buses. Whilst getting 3000 off at the same time for these buses was at times a little chaotic, with patience we all got there. On two previous cruises with other companies there were ports where /I had to stay on ship as no accessible shuttles. I cannot comment on all the ports or disembarkation as I was off the ship in hospital. But P and O collected my powered wheelchair from the hospital in Bruges and took it to the Britannia send sailed it back to Southampton with our luggage. They kept it in store for us and after we returned to the UK, my husband was able to collect it without sny fuss. P and O have kept in touch with us sine to make sure we arte ok. They have sent me a lovely dvd of highlights of the cruise. We will never cruise with any other company as we trust P and O to care for us and our belongings. I don't recommend having a stroke at the best of times but on holiday it is more difficult. The medical team on the Azura looked after me so well until we docked in Zebrugge and they got me to hospital and that saved my life. There is more I would like ti write but I am having difficulkty doing so and reading whst I have written Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was a" Strictly Come Dancing ", themed Cruise. We are not dancers and this was our first ever cruise! Having read the mixed reviews about the Azura and P and O in general I was worried that we had made the wrong choice. Just ... Read More
This was a" Strictly Come Dancing ", themed Cruise. We are not dancers and this was our first ever cruise! Having read the mixed reviews about the Azura and P and O in general I was worried that we had made the wrong choice. Just so that readers may know that our opinions were not biased by the cost of our cruise I will say that we paid select price and chose a cabin C328 because it had a larger balcony. We arrived at port easily Having stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Express just outside Southampton.The car was taken away to be parked and luggage immediately loaded onto a trolley.. We were directed into the embarkation hall given number and told to wait until number was called, this was about 20 mins. and as we had turned up early we were not expecting such a quick embarkation. We were soon on the ship and directed to the self service area for lunch. At 2pm an announcement was made that the cabins were now ready for occupation. We went to our cabin ,were pleased with what we found and then explored the ship, everywhere was spotless and plenty of sun loungers on all appropriate decks , all the staff were immaculately turned out and every single one on the whole cruise always greeted you ,wherever you were.The restaurants were good , a varied selection, we went to the Beach House a few times Zindhu twice and the Glass House once, which was our least favourite , due to the amount and presentation of the food for the extra cover charge. We opted for Freedom Dining and we enjoyed this very much and would probably opt for this every time in the future. we only used the MDR about five times. I found it to be very noisy and we liked to have a table for two and these were so close together that you felt obliged to start a conversation with your close neighbours!!!! Defeated the object of wanting an intimate dining experience! The rest of the time we enjoyed the self service options and had room service on 2 occasions which was very nice and at no extra cost. The quality and portion sizes of the food on the cruise was very good on the whole. Breakfast we always had at Venezia, and the choice was superb. ranging from cereals,to poached dried fruits and berries ,yoghurts ,cheese ,cold meats, omelettes cooked to order and of course the traditional "fry up". Couldn't fault it,and why people moan about the layout I don't understand, it was never unbearably crowded even when it was busy , one thing I found out on this cruise is that some people will moan about anything and mostly its the ones who like the sound of their own voices !! We enjoyed the 4 formal nights that we had and on three of those occasions we ate in the MDR. The food was good, could have been served a little warmer, and the choice of vegetables let it down. ? tinned carrots on the first night we ate there and very undercooked green beans that were frozen, on the other times we ate there. I am a good cook and enjoy my food so for me this was one of the only two complaints of the whole cruise that let it down for me, and such a simple thing that could easily be rectified. The meals we had in the other restaurants were great. Zindhu was fabulous and well worth the extra cover charge for a treat, and the same at the Beach House for a 5 pound cover charge , the dining was quiet and unhurried and we preferred it to the MDR. Entertainment; We so enjoyed the Strictly Come Dancing shows, what fabulous dancers, and the "one to ones" with the dancers as well. A good variety of shows and the Headliners were very good too and the costumes superb. Really enjoyed the Tribute acts and The Cuban magician and his workshop where he showed how some of the tricks were done!! All in all couldn't fault it , but now for my second "complaint". the daily entertainment on the sea days was lacking, unless you were in to Bingo or quizzes!! I was hoping for some good interesting speakers but sadly not to be. Everything seemed to be geared at getting you to buy things, craft, beauty , foot and back therapy etc etc, not for me but I was quite happy on those days to read a book or sit on the balcony. I was hoping to hear the likes of Simon Weston or speakers who could tell you about the history or things of interest of the places we were about to visit as I suspect St Petersburg was top of the list for most passengers. The port talks was mostly aimed at selling the tours but some of the information was useful. The port excursions that we booked with P and O were superb and other than the Bruges one good value for Ports of Call: Skagen . Went ashore and did our own thing, sleepy little place not much going on there but it stretched our legs and as we were only there for half a day was just right Stockholm: Up at 5am to see the approach into Stockholm . What a pretty 3 hours sailing past small islands with log cabins on and it was wonderful, so much to take in and such magnificent scenery. Watched the docking and we took the shuttle bus into town although a few walked it but as it was raining and a good 30 mins walk we gave that a miss .I loved Stockholm and would like to back for a second look! We were dropped right in the middle where it was easy to see the sights and the palace etc, Everywhere so clean . Visited the palace and found a very interesting armoury museum that had costumes , toys of the royal children ,sleighs , golden coaches etc etc and all free! Would never happen at home ! easy shuttle back to ship and no excursion taken! Tallinn: A beautiful old walled city, Picturesque buildings and lovely churches. Easily "do able" on your own and no need to take an expensive excursion. St Petersburg: The main reason for me persuading hubby to even go on a cruise ! It exceeded my /our ! expectations. We pre purchased a 2 day Splendours of St Petersburg tour from P and O on the cruise personaliser ( would recommend as these tours get sold out quickly on board) It seemed expensive at the time but on reflection for what we did and what we saw it was excellent value for a once in a lifetime event! Our tour guide Gallina was superb what she didn't know about the buildings and the history and the items in the palaces was nobodies business and her English language was faultless. It covered everything from the palaces to river cruise to going down and travelling in the Metro and lunch in a restaurant etc , fabulous. Couldn't fault it. Helsinki: Caught the shuttle and did our own thing. Nice clean city , it was Sunday and no shops open so quiet in that respect . Visited the cathedral but after St Petes everything was going to be a let down !!!! Had a nice coffee sitting in the sun and then walked to the harbour where we caught a ferry to the island of Suomenlinna, what a find that was . Lovely,pretty island, 800 inhabitants and a world heritage protected fortress there . We really enjoyed it and all the locals seemed to turning up there for their Sunday picnics. Copenhagen: Got the shuttle into town but you could just as easily walk it as we found on our way back which passed the Little Mermaid and was not far from where the ship was docked! Watched the Changing of the Guard and walked around , all very clean everywhere and ate the most expensive ice cream ever 5 pounds each for a cornet!!!!!!!! Oslo: Having read a bit about Oslo we decided to book a trip as the ship is moored a long way out of town and there is no shuttle bus, glad we did . A very interesting trip which took in the Olympic ski jump, viking ship museum and the Vigeland Sculpture Park, now this I thought hubby will not enjoy, but like with a lot of things on this trip he surprised me by saying that this was one of the highlights for him and an amazing sight it was too . We had an excellent guide too who also spoke perfect English. Bruges: We took an excursion because to get to Bruges you would have to get the shuttle bus and then a train, so we didn't trust that we wouldn't get lost so went on the" Do Bruges on your own" trip which meant that we were taken on a coach to the city , walked by a Guide to the centre and then left until the afternoon whereby he escorted us back to the ship,it worked well but would have been a lot cheaper if we had done it by train!!!Very enjoyable city , lovely cafes and chocolates and a super canal cruise. To sum up all excursions were good and well thought out. Disembarkation: This was a bit of a pigs ear !!! To sum up , ship was late docking , cases were not unloaded on time and people were held up. What can you do about it , nothing I am sure they were not late on purpose so why do so many people moan about things that you can't change !! In the end we all got off and once re united with the luggage ,which was a very easy process ,we were on our way . To sum up : Loved every minute of the Cruise. A Superb ship and wonderfully helpful and polite crew, spotlessly clean, on the whole good entertainment, good food , fabulous ports of call and brilliant Srtictly Come Dancing theme and most enjoyable to hear the Captains thought for the day , usually spoken with tongue in cheek in his report of the day. Husband who only came for me as he said , Why would I want to be on a ship with 3000 other people ,was totally converted ! A first cruise , yes, but a last cruise, definitely NO, and would we go with P and O again , Oh Yes. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
A trip to the Baltic! YEA. Places like Copenhagen, Helsinki and St Petersberg. Coming from the southern hemisphere a trip of a lifetime. Every port we visited was fabulous. Getting to them and back on the Azura was a trial at best. Sorry ... Read More
A trip to the Baltic! YEA. Places like Copenhagen, Helsinki and St Petersberg. Coming from the southern hemisphere a trip of a lifetime. Every port we visited was fabulous. Getting to them and back on the Azura was a trial at best. Sorry P&O but you have a lot to sort out. My wife and I have been on three previous cruises with Carnival and Princess, around the Med and to Alaska so feel we have something to compare. The only person to get a tip was our room steward, the service by other staff was not up to the standard expected. The food was way below our expectations, in fact the catering staff should be ashamed of themselves. The buffet selection was boring, and the same boring every day. Select dining was some of the most unpleasant dining experiences. Wanting a nice quiet table for two meant sitting shoulder to shoulder with other couples. You ended up being closer to your neighbour than your partner. P & O management need to take a trip with carnival from Barcelona to Venice. The ports are no more spectacular than the Baltic but the onboard experience is totally different. I would never recommend anyone take an Azura cruise until they see a lot of positive reviews and that will not be any time soon I suspect. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We enjoyed a 40th Wedding Anniversary Cruise to the Baltic that left Southampton on 20th June 15. The ship was spotless, the staff were immaculately turned out and it was obvious that they were “happy bunnies” [ unlike some ... Read More
We enjoyed a 40th Wedding Anniversary Cruise to the Baltic that left Southampton on 20th June 15. The ship was spotless, the staff were immaculately turned out and it was obvious that they were “happy bunnies” [ unlike some recently encountered on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth] We were on a Strictly Come Dancing Theme Cruise and the dance professionals did not disappoint. Ports were excellent, including the small fishing village of Skagen, north Denmark. Best surprise for most was Tallinn in Estonia. On the evenings we enjoyed Freedom Dining in the Meridian Restaurant. The service was excellent. Menu was a bit repetitive and figured too much beef and pork, and no real attempt was made to serve up dishes that reflected the ports we visited [ Beef Stroganoff being an exception] Dress code was disappointing. Formal Code was what one would expect. The only other code was Casual where, unfortunately, jeans and posh tee-shirts were acceptable. Would suggest that two codes, Formal and Smart Casual, are more acceptable. We met many interesting people when we chose to share a table at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Downside is that some fellow passengers are totally unaware that it is manners to wait until the table has been served before “diving” into one’s “grub.” Also knives are for cutting ----- not for eating off, or even worse, licking. Had a special anniversary dinner in the Seventeen Restaurant that was well worth the cover charge. Chateaubriand steak was just right. The Theatre shows were disappointing and we soon opted out. This is where Cunard are hard to beat. Was our first P & O Cruise. Sorry to say that the entertainment and onboard activities reflected what one might find at an English Holiday Camp. P & O needs to be more “British” and if possible an attempt at being Global would be welcome. Finally whoever controls the sound system when we passengers are herded into the Playhouse and other holding areas to get us “debarked” ASAP at Southampton should be forced to listen to the loud, benal music that prevented us from hearing disembarkation announcements. Also would be an advantage if the person making critical announcements had English, as a first language. Repeating them would also be helpful. Our ship was late docking [ no reason offered] and the luggage off-loading was 60 mins behind schedule so we nearly missed our Southampton -> London train connection. Fighting for a space on the train when some 12,000 passengers off 4 large liners are on the move is an interesting experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Having purchased what seemed like a really really great last minute bargain on the P&O Azura, we were really quite chuffed with ourselves, so around a week after purchasing we found ourselves onboard! First Impressions: Ship is only ... Read More
Having purchased what seemed like a really really great last minute bargain on the P&O Azura, we were really quite chuffed with ourselves, so around a week after purchasing we found ourselves onboard! First Impressions: Ship is only four years old although there was a certain amount of wear and tear, much more than we have experience on other cruise lines in even older ships. I don't think there is as much emphasis on this ship as keeping on top of maintenance. But we thought we payed little over £800 to be on a balcony for two people - we can live with that! The Buffet: I really don't think they know what they are doing with the buffet, no matter when you went there were always queues (sometimes 20 deep). They never seemed to open the full servery, there were 6 serving stations and at most they only ever used four of these - sometimes only two! I have never experience such poor service on a buffet - even on a seaday. P&O really need to do something about this - if there are 6 stations, open the 6 stations rather than having passengers waiting in queues 20 deep at peak times. MDR: We went to the main dining room only once on the ship as the menus did not seem very good! There was little choice and even on the second formal night there was very little imagination on the menu, normally we would expect fillet of beef or lobster bisque on a formal night but P&O's speciality was BEEF STROGANOFF!!! Again we thought we payed little over £800 to be on a balcony for two people - we can live with that as there were other options. As we were not eating in the MDR we used the speciality restaurants on four evenings: Sinduh: Had a fantastic evening in this restaurant - the food was cooked perfectly, the waiters were attentive and the service perfectly timed! The Glasshouse: The first night we used this restaurant the service was appalling - we waited 1 Hour and 30 minutes for two rare steaks to be prepared! After speaking to the F&B manager about this - apparently the kitchen used is the main kitchen and if you happen to go at a peak time for the MDR your stuffed! Having said that the food was VERY good (when it came) and we did try this restaurant again and the service was much better. Seventeen: Like Sinduh the service, food and staff were perfect in this restaurant. Port Days: OMG! What a nightmare - in Bilbao and La Rochelle you basically couldn't leave the ship! The queues for the shuttle busses actually took 3 hours to dissipate. It is unforgivable to only have two shuttle busses in a port that does not allow you to walk along the pier and is a round trip of 1 hour to the town and back! There was a queue for the entire length of the ship at La Rochelle between the hours of 9am and 11.30am. It was absolutely disgusting the way they were treating passengers. We did have a enjoy our holiday but the food and queues for everything have really underlined that I would not use P&O again. Had we paid more than what we did I would have been extremely annoyed about this experience but just like the fare P&O is cheap and cheerful and this is all you can really expect.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We had booked this cruise last minute as a much needed break after a difficult personal time. We wanted to leave from Southampton but weren't concerned about the itinerary. We did find Azura a big ship and I never quite mastered the ... Read More
We had booked this cruise last minute as a much needed break after a difficult personal time. We wanted to leave from Southampton but weren't concerned about the itinerary. We did find Azura a big ship and I never quite mastered the geography but the maps and the details by the very slow lifts. We enjoyed the food and thought there was plenty of choice ( we were on second sitting in the Peninsular restauraunt) eating breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea in the buffet. I thought the portions were a good size. The waiting staff were very helpful and the wine waitress was very good. Some of the staff in the bars were efficient though not friendly but not rude. We ennjoyed the variety of entertainment on offer except one comedian who kept saying that he was finding it difficult to be funny when he wasn't allowed to be blue. Seating in the Playhouse was always available but for the most popular shows it is a good idea to be 10 minutes early. Seating in the bars could be more problematic. We enjoyed the quizzes even though we never won! We only booked one trip to see a glacier and some of the Fjord landscape. The trip was very enjoyable due to our guide and despite the disorganised start. We walked round the other resorts and found the information supplied by P&O very helpful. It was also very useful that English was spoken so readily and information in English available in the museums. We have had a relaxing time felt looked after and have eaten and drunk well. Just what we wanted. I would be very happy to travel on Azura again - I had been concerned about travelling in the summer holidays but found the childen on board to be well behaved and happily entertained by the various kids clubs. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Another last minute booking on Azura and at cruise 12 I feel I now make it work for me. Booking - I book at about 6 weeks prior to the cruise and this is often the best offer price wise, I take what is available at balcony and above if ... Read More
Another last minute booking on Azura and at cruise 12 I feel I now make it work for me. Booking - I book at about 6 weeks prior to the cruise and this is often the best offer price wise, I take what is available at balcony and above if this is not available that is fine I don't book. I travel alone, my husband stays home to look after our dogs then goes on his own sporting holidays while I reciprocate. Many have questioned why Azura it being family friendly and a largish ship? Well I like what I make of the holiday. I use the savings on the cabin to upgrade to a select dining venue for dinner or pay for the Glass House or Sindhu Nashtas at lunchtime. Usually the saving also covers my wine bill too. Cabin - This time I was allocated to Riveria deck in a forward cabin. Couldn't actually have got any further forward without being on the bridge. Usual standard, everything works well for me a single and accommodates all my dresses etc I never pack light when travelling from Southampton. Cabin steward excellent as usual never yet had one that wasn't and everyone has gone the extra mile for me travelling alone and I appreciate that. Food - I book XV11 every night online prior to departure using the cruise personaliser. Now you need to understand that the menu here never changes. There are 2 menus rotating on about a 3-4 day cycle and in 5 years they have always been the same. So every night can be a bit similar. For me thats OK I know what I like, I can accept what it is and if I ask for something they usually produce it. Why every night? Well the MDR isn't for me. I've tried it both freedom dining and allocated club dining. The former its a constantly changing range of folks and although interesting the conversational topics soon become similar e.g. how many cruises, where, how much paid, etc etc. The latter you may or may not jell with your table companions. In XVII I arrive when I like now (the staff know me and always tell me to come sand when), I sit on my own table and enjoy watching what goes on and occasionally eat with others who I meet there. But mainly I chat with the staff who are always lovely. It is the best of dining experiences and most important suits me. Ports - This trip had a lot of sea days. Am I the only one who marvels at conversations with fellow cruisers where they bemoan the number of sea days? Well why book this cruise then it says quite clearly in the brochure how many sea days there are. Now again I differ from many in the ship is my delight just getting away from my busy office and not having the world and his wife needing my attention. 2 weeks on board doing what I want is my idea of heaven. So getting off the ship is dependent on weather, inclination and general laziness. This time we called at Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Warnemunde, Copenhagen, Kristiansand and somewhere I've forgotten. Weather excellent. Alla Tours in St Petersburg excellent and worth every penny, but hectic. Stockholm and Copenhagen have relatives there and was collected and taken round by them, very enjoyable. All the rest been there done that before so just relaxed ad enjoyed the ship. Brilliant idea and so much more relaxing. Liked it so much will return for the same cruise next year. Problems - well I read others reviews and wonder what some folks are looking for. Some folks booking select fares then complaining about fares going down, well book later then, can't for some reason or other need to accept that then. I am a late booker if it suits me but when I must be away at a certain time then I book early and swallow the price, e.g. have booked an expensive select fare for the Caribbean later this year for that reason. No point in checking price changes now I didn't have the option so that's life. A couple bent my ear one evening about how they always book in advance and now here they are with folks (me!!) paying las than a quarter of what they paid and it happens every year. Did they have to book so far in advance I enquired, no but they insisted on the one suite and booked to get it, well horses for courses then but my word did they disagree. Others man about food, towels, buffet and so it goes why do they return if its so awful but many of them do and just keep on complaining. What I really hate are Mr and Mrs Rude who treat the staff like dirt. No-one should be spoken to like many of the staff are on occasions. One chap went on for ages over nothing and then turned towards me and said "I'm sure you agree" He was puce with indignation when he heard my reply and thought it best to add in some questionable derogatory comments about the type of women that travel alone to put me in my place. Overall - It was a good rest. I don't expect the world for what I pay and I have done enough cruises now to understand and appreciate what P and O offer. Its not a 5 star experience but it is a cruise product that means a cost I am able to meet and cruise more and more frequently (5 this year). There are many loyal P and O customers and I'm rapidly adapting to be one of them. Pay more for a better class of cruising as some suggest? Well perhaps but this suits my pocket and I know how to make to work for me. Would I recommend it to others? you bet I would especially if you go in with an open mind, analyse what is on offer and juggle it round to meet your own requirements. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
we booked a last minute deal with p and o to the baltic as it had 2 days in st petersburg..if i had paid full price i would have been very unhappy but on the deal it was ok. i will start with the pros--cabin e 318 very comfortable had ... Read More
we booked a last minute deal with p and o to the baltic as it had 2 days in st petersburg..if i had paid full price i would have been very unhappy but on the deal it was ok. i will start with the pros--cabin e 318 very comfortable had obstruction the lower part of lifeboat but we still had good view, the room was comfortable plenty of storage and a great steward.. after a few days managed to find our way around the ship..oriental restaurant first sitting was good the food varied and our table 64 had wonderful waiters and Sherrie the wine waiter was great. the ports of call were all great especially st petersburg i would advise booking through p and o if you have never been here before as the 2 day the spendour of st petersburg tour was excellent had early rises but thats how you will see all. our guide was helena and she was so full of info she just added to a wonderful tour...now for the cons...- if you like a hi-di-hi entertainment environment then this is for you quizzes everywhere, singalongs which were bordering on promoting an engish rule the waves not british rule the waves very condescending offerings of scottish irish and welsh songs but an hour of god save the queen etc as one english person put it they did a lot for getting any undecided scots to vote yes...there were no quiet areas to just read as the blasted quizzes appeared everywhere. the overall entertainment was ok best was the elton john and ben makiesa shows [except for the azura orchestra which at times would drown out the singers they were more like a bad school band...the buffet restaurants were boring and served bland food at all times with the same offerings most days. the layouts were very tight not suitable for able bodied people and wheelchair users to get about at same time this was only due to bad planning. we love to walk especially on sea days but found running the gauntlet of smokers allowed the full length of starboard side awful plus the smokers as you walked through from pool areas why not have one area up top deck as on other ships.. info on the horizon magazine not always correct as we discovered from film times to tour times plus as we were on a baltic cruise one day we were asked if we were enjoying our trip around the carribean a touch of left hand did not speak to right hand lol.... we did enjoy our trip meeting new people some of the entertainment but this ship would not be on our top ten. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Having previously sailed with Princess, Cunard and Celebrity we looked forward to a cruise to the fjords in Norway with P & O. Check in was quick and efficient with the customer service helper taking us with my mother in law in a ... Read More
Having previously sailed with Princess, Cunard and Celebrity we looked forward to a cruise to the fjords in Norway with P & O. Check in was quick and efficient with the customer service helper taking us with my mother in law in a wheelchair right through to the cabin- excellent service. The good points of Azura Beautiful ship. Lovely bars, stylish restaurants, Sindhu was amazing we loved it. Nice shops to browse around. Great table (no 30) in the Peninsular restaurant with excellent table waiters. We don't usually do shows but we accompanied my mother in law and thoroughly enjoyed Ben Makeisi (tenor) and the Songs from the shows and British films. The cruise director Leon is really funny - loved his corny jokes. The not so good Food in the Peninsular restaurant was a bit hit and miss. I thought fish dishes were much better than the meat. Buffet food not for us. I enjoyed the Britishness of the ship (sail away is good fun) and would probably holiday on P & O again in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Having never cruised before we were not sure what to expect but it was delightful. We had a superior deluxe stateroom between three of us and there was a very comfortable sofa bed and masses of room for all of us. The staff worked really ... Read More
Having never cruised before we were not sure what to expect but it was delightful. We had a superior deluxe stateroom between three of us and there was a very comfortable sofa bed and masses of room for all of us. The staff worked really hard and nothing was too much trouble. They were not able to stop for leisurely chats but that is not their function, they were however always friendly and helpful, eg. my brother had bought a DJ and the shop had not removed the security tag. A quick trip to reception and a carpenter clipped it off with pliers in minutes. The headliners shows were professional and the operatic tenor did both popular classics and operatic style musicals and some lovely Maori songs as well. The planet bar was a great place to sit and watch the sun set and the food in the Peninsular restaurant was good quality. For those saying the portions were small, when you have up to five courses I prefer smaller portions so you can get through everything - but then quite a few people on the shop looked as if they could have done with smaller portions but had gone for the large option instead ;-). I can't comment on the trips as we did everything independently as we are all mobile and the ports were compact. The best show in town was watching the Fjords go by from the comfort of the balcony. I struggle to think of anything that disappointed, they didn't have redbush tea and the interactive TV was slow and could have done with a search facility and disappointingly there was no Norwegian themed food at all but complain about that and you would never be satisfied. The weather was amazing which helped of course but even putting that to one side it was an experience we can't wait to repeat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our first visit to the Norwegian Fjords, on a 7 day cruise from Southampton with P&O. The weather was generally good, enabling us to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Overall, it was a great holiday and Azura made a good base ... Read More
This was our first visit to the Norwegian Fjords, on a 7 day cruise from Southampton with P&O. The weather was generally good, enabling us to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Overall, it was a great holiday and Azura made a good base from which to explore. Some aspects of the break were better than others. Norway was great, Azura was good, service was polite if not friendly, some of the meals on offer disappointed us. Norway felt a very safe place to wander around, communication in English was easy and a range of currencies were accepted in the tourist centres. Norway in June means very short hours of darkness. We noted that sunset was forecast at 11.32pm one night - and it wasn't really dark then! We are recent converts to cruising, having sailed once in each of the last two years on Azura. Sailing on the same ship has been a coincidence of time we could take off and the cruises available on those dates. The itinerary was the driving factor in our choice, not the ship. Our experience of the P&O embarkation process at Southampton has been consistently good. It was quick and well organised. The ship was as we expected – relatively large, clean and modern. There was sufficient going on for us to engage to the extent that suited us. Assessment of entertainment will always have an element of personal taste. Similarly, we would be pleased to dispense with the formal dress evenings, but fully co-operated with the dress code as expected. Azura stopped at Bergen, Geiranger, Flam and Stavanger, but the journeys through the fjords were as much an experience as the ports/communities visited. The snow melting on the mountain tops was fuelling spectacular waterfalls – as impressive for the sound as for the sight. We caught Bergen in the sunshine – apparently a rare experience. We had not booked an excursion and as the ship was moored within the commercial port area this required use of a courtesy bus service to the city centre. This service was initially inadequate for the numbers wanting to use it. Informed of this we delayed our start and had no problem – but this was clearly frustrating for some people. Bergen was easy to find your way around and there was plenty to see and do. We would happily return there. Approaching Geiranger and Flam needs an early start to the day if you want to make the best of the scenic views when travelling down the fjords. At Geiranger we took advantage of the walks that are available and had a coffee break at the information centre for this World Heritage Site. At Flam we went on our only organised tour - “Norway in a Nutshell”. The guide on this trip added huge value by explaining so much about Norway, its history, economy and people. We really enjoyed this trip – first by coach, then lunch in Voss followed by train return to Flam that included the Flamsbana. The views from the Flamsbana are quite spectacular. We had no particular expectations of Stavanger and were then pleasantly surprised. The ship docked in the heart of the city enabling easy access to the old town, cathedral and museums. Having had no particular interest in the place we would now be happy to go back and spend more time there! We found the food quality in the main dining room and the self service restaurants was a little disappointing. On our third trip on the same ship we observed a reduced choice and poorer quality of food offered. This led us to make more use of the speciality restaurants where we found great quality, but at a price. Dining in "Seventeen" was a very special experience, and it was fun cooking your own steak on hot lava rock in the Verona Trattoria one evening. This was the first cruise on which we had opted for Freedom Dining. The extra flexibility on timing worked well with the cruise itinerary. However, there is not the opportunity to develop stronger relationships with a single group of passengers or with the same waiting staff. We have enjoyed the fixed time dining in the past. P&O has changed its Main Dining Room arrangements and now serves meals ready plated rather than service at the table. We knew of this change and, other than noting some reduced flexibility to vary what was provided, this was not an issue for us. Portion sizes were adequate – but it was just all rather ordinary where we would previously have rated it as good. The usual mix of entertainment was available. We tried the theatre just once. The Headliners performance was good, but I found the sound level too high for the slight hearing difficulty I have. We dipped into some of the other entertainment options around the ship and also enjoyed after dinner drinks in the Planet bar with its spectacular views – either out of the window or on the wall screens. A highlight of the entertainment programme for us was the talks from the guest speaker, Gervase Phinn. These managed to be informative, entertaining and very humorous whilst conveying something of his own personality and his lifetime interest in helping children to learn. Overall, a great holiday! If we were to cruise with P&O again then we would have to prepare to spend more on the speciality restaurants as the “no cost” dining options fall short of what we would seek for a main holiday experience. This takes the price comparison into a different range and we will probably try another cruise line next time if the dates and itinerary fit. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My wife and I have always said that cruising is not for us. We like to do our own thing preferably avoiding crowds. We do not dance but enjoy dance music and watching others also enjoy good entertainment and food but not keen on dressing ... Read More
My wife and I have always said that cruising is not for us. We like to do our own thing preferably avoiding crowds. We do not dance but enjoy dance music and watching others also enjoy good entertainment and food but not keen on dressing up. This cruise was a late decision and we really enjoyed it. Our cabin was perfect and if we could book the same or similar at the price we paid we would have no hesitation in cruising again. We had a bad start finding another couple with my name in our cabin but that was soon sorted since we had paid for a balcony and they had not. We felt guilty at their having to move but hope that they were able to enjoy the cruise as much as we did. The chaos at Stockholm was a bad start and I would hope that this is sorted or the port changed for future visits to Sweden. Arrangements for waiting in separate lounges worked well on other stops. We only booked two excursions but used the shuttle twice and walked from the ship at others.The St Petersburg Explorer was ideal for us since we were able to explore at our own pace on our own. We enjoyed the Peterhof Palace and Hydrofoil but wish that we had not wasted time waiting for the fountains to be switched on at 11.00 am since that time could have been spent in the grounds and the fountains watched with less crowds later before catching the Hydrofoil back. We were allocated late sitting in the Oriental restaurant which was very late for us but it did mean that we did not have to rush after a day ashore and also we could watch as we departed from ports. All the staff were pleasant and we shared a table with two lovely couples one Scottish the other from Yorkshire. Our cabin steward Roy was very helpful and kept our cabin clean and well stocked we hope that he is enjoying being back with his family in Goa. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
... there were a couple of hiccups, which I feel it may be helpful for people to know about. The sun shone everywhere after the first day or two and it was verging on 30 degrees in St. Petersburg. Our stateroom was excellent, larger than ... Read More
... there were a couple of hiccups, which I feel it may be helpful for people to know about. The sun shone everywhere after the first day or two and it was verging on 30 degrees in St. Petersburg. Our stateroom was excellent, larger than any previous balcony cabin we have had. I describe the cabin elsewhere. As I have mobility difficulties we asked for a cabin near elevators, and even 'though we had booked a late fare without guarantees we had been allocated an aft cabin right next to the lifts and with instant elevator access to both the Oriental Restaurant straight down and the Buffet Restaurants straight up, and with the Terrace Pool and Bar very near by. All in all a great arrangement. Thumbs up, P & O :) Of course although we had been on Azura before we had forgotten about the tortuous ups and downs in order to access particular decks. The elevators at meal or excursion times were very difficult. We had also forgotten that the Promenade Deck comes to an abrupt end and one has to turn around before reaching the circuit. All that forgiven, of course Azura is a great ship with tons of space in public rooms and without ever really feeling congested as many other larger ships do. We had done the same cruise on Azura during her maiden season. This time 'though, they had left Tallin, Estonia and Oslo, Norway, off the itinerary and put in one German Port as a substitute. The German Port was nice but not a substitute for either of the other two capitals. Anyway, we were there for St. Petersburg primarily and the sun and the city shone and shone throughout. It did feel 'though and many people remarked this, that P & O are looking to cut costs - maybe cutting back on port fees etc. Also there seemed to be far less staff in the restaurants, albeit our table service was first class and the food to die for ! Very few staff visible in the corridors, just maybe our own cabin steward, who was also very good. I hadn't remembered that there was no free ice-cream on this ship, as there more often than not is on other cruise ships. Not a great moan, I accept, but I do enjoy a cone strolling the decks ! Also the only drinks available in the buffet pumps was a rather insipid coffee, and water. No juices as, again, provided on other ships. So apart from cabin coffee you are obliged to buy from either Costa Coffee or bar staff. Again, not a great problem buy maybe a bit indicative of P & O reluctance to give much away ? Entertainment staff were of a very high standard, cheerful and friendly. The Headliners Show Team were very good, we thought, although we had seen all but one of their shows before. There was a tenor from New Zealand aboard briefly and he too was excellent, as were the singing duo in the Planet Bar. Of course, entertainment is always a question of taste. NOW - the hiccups. I always carefully check the excursions which I can do, and normally come on board with a list of extra queries for Shore Excursion Staff, having pre-booked my tours. Emma Critchley, our excursion advisor was terrific and went far out of her way to help. However there were a couple of things of which she was not aware We went to see a Russian Folk Dancing Concert in St. Petersburg. I checked on the coach drop off and pick up - all satisfactory. The trip was advertised with 13 steps to access the auditorium. When the looked- forward to evening arrived, there transpired to be 82 - YES 82 steps to enter the theatre, all very busy and congested, and very marble. That might sound humorous to some, but believe me there was no humour involved; either for me or the many other folk with walking problems !!! BE VERY CAREFUL when booking an evening here, especially those with mobility problems. BY THE WAY, THE SHOW ITSELF WAS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL :) The second disappointment came when my wife went on a trip to The Hermitage Museum. The trip was advertised as being three hours of museum tour with a possible visit to the museum gift shop at the end. Instead of this, the guide took the group first to a common or garden tourist store where they spent almost an hour and a half before going on to the museum, not only cutting into the museum tour, which was very expensive, but missing out on the Museum Gift Shop where one may have bought some more authentic souvenirs. SO AGAIN - CHECK VERY CAREFULLY WHICH TOURS YOU ARE BUYING. Lastly, but by no means least the chaos and confusion when we arrived at our fist port, STOCKHOLM, was excruciating and painful and hot and angry and - virtually horrible !! For some reason, still not explained and I failed to get an explanation, a whole team of immigration officials came aboard before we were allowed even to exit the ship. Although people were advised to come down to allocated gangways in good time to go on early coach tours, there was a queue which wound around the ship twice ( and Azura is llonggggg ) for the checking of Passports and the issue of ship exit passes ? We were in this queue for over an HOUR and it seemed for no more than a cursory glance at one's Passport. All the tours were delayed and people were already exhausted by the time they got on the coaches. Nothing remotely like this happened on the last occasion we visited Sweden. Stockholm is quite a nice city although I would suggest that the several hour entry to the city via the hundreds of small islands and the impressive Malmo Bridge, both of which can be seen from your balcony or the decks are the nicest features. I shall not quickly choose to return to Stockholm if the present situation prevails. Maybe others would prefer to give Sweden / Stockholm a miss for a while ? I personally thought this country was a friend of the U.K but now I wonder. Incidentally, I noticed a number of the officials were wearing Tazer Guns, I thought, Did they think Captain Blackbeard was arriving ?? I do realise how important security is but I would suggest overkill ! Anyway friends. I hope this has been an honest appraisal of one person's overview of our cruise which should not EVER deter people fro visiting the wonderful cities of St. Petersburg, Helsinki. Copenhagen, Rostok and Kristiansand. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Azura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 3.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.8

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