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28 P&O Cruises Azura Repositioning Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise because the dates and destinations fitted, and we quite like the sea days. Took advantage of the coach from Birmingham Airport direct to Southampton, bit chaotic with people pushing in the queue but got us there ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the dates and destinations fitted, and we quite like the sea days. Took advantage of the coach from Birmingham Airport direct to Southampton, bit chaotic with people pushing in the queue but got us there efficiently and embarkation was excellent. The ship was larger than we normally go for and a bit confusing to get around sometimes. I think that even after 2 weeks people were getting lost. Our cabin, an inside one on deck 10 was fine, seperate area for hanging clothes, enough hangers etc and a comfy bed. We chose set dining in the Oriental Restaurant, we had a good table and enjoyed it. The food was a bit 'samey' though. We were quite interested in the ballroom dance lessons, but so was everyone else. Although the dance teacher was excellent the lessons took place in the atrium-far far too small, so we dropped out. We joined the guest choir, an excellent experience and met some lovely people. Having been on this ship for a long weekend previously I was keen to see how the Manhatten lounge would cope on a longer voyage as it had been inundated by the groups of hen parties on board. As previously, if you didn't get there over an hour before any entertainment you hadn't a prayer of getting a seat. The main theatre was fine, that too got full, especially when the resident 'headliners' were performing. I must say that they were very talented, just not enough of them-they didn't join in any other activities, were seldom seen around the ship and did 4 shows in 2 weeks! the other entertainment ranged from Beatles tribute, excellent Song and dance man, a couple of typical cruise ship singers and a mind reading act from BGT, and a Freddie tribute act that only performed in the Manhattan-so we never got to see him. Generally the drinks service was poor-cutbacks were obvious throughout the ship. Why did I entitle this review 'clash of cultures' ? I shall explain. There was one group who took no notice of the rule not to reserve sun loungers, took no notice of smoking restrictions, and let their kids run riot. I know that is a sweeping generalisation but the same people were in the pool area day after day, the kids were either dive bombing in the pool or frequenting the spa pools, they were in big groups, very loud and, as I say, smoking (or vaping) all around. Unfortunately, and this is my big criticism THERE WAS NO POLICING OF THE SUN LOUNGERS, THE SMOKING/VAPING, OR THE KIDS. Putting signs up just doesn't cut it. I know that they are on holiday too, but the rules are there so that everyone can enjoy themselves. Although the excursions were generally fine I would like to draw your attention to one of the Antigua trips. Party bus to private Red Bus Rum punch beach, private facilities, price included transport with guide, party bus, free drink (plus opportunities to buy food and drink if you wanted) and 3-4 hours on the beach. £45-£50 each. In reality, 14 of us were crammed into an old transit van with no suspension and inefficient AC, a Bob Marley tape and just dumped off at the afore mentioned beach. You then could hire a gazebo & Sun bed (if you were quick enough-short supply). We were told that as they only given a few quid per head from P & O that it no longer included a drink-which were expensive). We had paid £100 per couple for an old van taxi to a beach. I was also appalled that you had free drinks in the casino whilst you gambled. Did we enjoy the cruise?-yes, would we go again? yes. Was it value for money,?yes What could be done to make it a better experience? Police the Sun beds, the smoking, the kids and start looking at a bigger venue for the ballroom lessons-a massively increasing sector. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Great Premium flight from Birmingham well worth the extra though why you should have to pay on top of £175 surcharge to reserve a seat baffles me. Smooth transfer to cruise terminal then super quick boarding less than 5 minutes after ... Read More
Great Premium flight from Birmingham well worth the extra though why you should have to pay on top of £175 surcharge to reserve a seat baffles me. Smooth transfer to cruise terminal then super quick boarding less than 5 minutes after getting off coach. Found cabin nice and spacious with large balcony. All ok there, luggage arrived within an hour or so. Muster drill delayed until a18:30 by late arrival of another flight so first evenings dining was a bit chaotic, no ones fault but quality of food was a sign of things to come unfortunately. Apart from Beach house (which we visited twice - very good) the quality of both MDR & buffet was underwhelming. Menus read well but failed to deliver most of the time. Entertainment. We like to see production shows and cabarets but except for 2 nights when a 7pm show was put on we had to choose one or the other as were on late dining. We’d book early or free time dining if booking P&O again though we did enjoy the company on our table. Ashore. Booked 2 excursions through P&O and 2 independently. St Lucia northern tour was very good with varied stops and good value. Taste of Antigua was poor value for money at £45 each for 20 minute bus ride to back street garden restaurant to tast 3 small nips of rum and a small selection of so so food. Did our own thing at St Maarten & Ponta Delgada. Tried most bars - planet was our favourite and felt prices were reasonable. Cannot see point of introducing package @ £40pppd unless they are going to boost bar prices to encourage take-up. We do not hold back but only spent around £350 on wine and bars in 13 nights. We tend to select cruises by itinerary so won’t say no to P&O again but we’re not sold on the brand yet. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
storm riley caused 8 days at sea no trip to the azores on way back. The last time i did a p&o cruises where the itinerary wasn't changed was 2012 that year i did 2 cruises with no changes since i have done 3 cruises this one had 2 ... Read More
storm riley caused 8 days at sea no trip to the azores on way back. The last time i did a p&o cruises where the itinerary wasn't changed was 2012 that year i did 2 cruises with no changes since i have done 3 cruises this one had 2 change originally we were going to saint martin i accepted that changed due to the hurricanes then we had storm riley the email came on the day before we left no visit to ponta del gada instead a return to babrbados. Flight was good i had upgraded to extra legroom as i was travelling with my parents we just decided to have more room as it was 8 hours. warning the bus's in the Caribbean leave a bit to be desired not much space and very cramped when you land the bus's are very close to the runway no security at the airport only dock side at the ship. We had an easy run through boarding as my mum had assistance at gatwick and due to this we all got into same assistance line we were on in under 20 minutes a lot of people were waiting for an hour or more. I had been on Azura in april 2012 around the med she looks the same just a little bit rougher round the edges. The restaurant on the 1st 2 nights were sit any where as people don't finish getting of until late on 2nd day (we were on the 1st day of boarding) when we did sit at our allocated table it was very enjoyable my only issue was the marco pier white menus which i haven't enjoyed and always revert to old faithful which isn't on the menu on dress up nights but can be ordered sirloin steak and prawn cocktail. I didn't go to anything in the theatre apart from seeing darkest hour film there on a sea day i did see jimmy tamley the ventriloquist in Manhattan he was excellent and adult theme compared to the theatre version i was told by someone else. Only did one trip with saint kitts railway my only problem was i got heat stroke on the bus getting there had been at the back neck started getting hot by the time we were on the train i was drinking water like it was going out of fashion but wasn't getting any better so don't remember much of it. I came to the assumption during this cruise that p&o no longer believe in customer service due to my issues with my cabin as i have said below and friends having various issues it seems their moto is the customer is always wrong and having spoken to other people i wasn't the only person who felt this way. I have decided to not cruise p&o anymore will look at celebrity again and maybe royal Caribbea. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Liked the itinerary but particularly a visit to tha Azores, however, the cruise got off to a bad start when we received an email the day before flying out to Barbados saying the ship would not be stopping off at the Azores because of a ... Read More
Liked the itinerary but particularly a visit to tha Azores, however, the cruise got off to a bad start when we received an email the day before flying out to Barbados saying the ship would not be stopping off at the Azores because of a storm in the Caribbean. We later learned that people already on board had this info. at least 10 days before! After a 2 hour delay, we arrived on board and entered our cabin to find the w.c. was within half an inch of overflowing on to the shower room floor. I reported this immediately but nothing was done for 2 days so, I was up during the night flushing it. Somebody eventually attended to it but did not repair it properly so it was reported again and this time it was done immediately and successfully. The cabin was comfortable and the steward we had was very good. The food in the dining room was a 8 out of 10. However, the black-tie nights resulted in us not being allowed to eat in our normal restaurant and not being allowed to drink in certain bars.Our only option without paying extra, bearing in mind we had paid full fare was to go to the buffet restaurant which was so abysmal we complained on 3 occasions about cold food,lack of choice , hit and miss organisation etc., but it seems that due to the fear of people attending black-tie nights complaining about us (even though we always dress smartly in the evening) we were discriminated against. We spent 8 days at sea coming back to Southampton and during that time they held 4 black-tie nights! We were told by many other passengers about their disgust with the food and service in the buffet restaurant. Personally, we have eaten in better transport cafes! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Last minute booking. Flew out in Premium Economy from Glasgow with TUI on Dreamliner for 2 week cruise on Azura. Very comfortable and good service on the flight. Embarkation in Barbados excellent and smooth. Straight from plane to the ship ... Read More
Last minute booking. Flew out in Premium Economy from Glasgow with TUI on Dreamliner for 2 week cruise on Azura. Very comfortable and good service on the flight. Embarkation in Barbados excellent and smooth. Straight from plane to the ship and luggage delivered to cabin. These are probably the only plus points I can say about this cruise that were better than 3 previous Caribbean cruises we have done with Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity. We are non smokers and hated the smell of smoke coming down the corridor from the vast smoking area on Stbd side of deck 15 & 16 near forward swimming pool. We were amazed at how much deck space was allocated to smokers on this ship. Entire starboard forward side was a no go area for us on deck 15 & 16. The toilet facilities leave a lot to be desired on Azura. The only toilet on pool deck was in the centre between 2 pools and you had to enter the smoking area to go there. The ladies toilet here was often in a disgusting state I was informed. Cubicles out of order and no soap. Many of the Ladies toilets were out of action and long queues formed outside below decks before and after shows. Ports of call average. We never did any overpriced excursions. Entertainment average. Some good acts. Adele, Mark Walker Etc. Background music diabolical at the pool and around the ship. Endless hours of meaningless mundane Latin music until the DJ appears at 5 o clock. Apparently the music is sent from head office and they have to play it all day. Maybe they should realise that people might like to listen to some popular songs for a change or will that rock the boat too much causing cardiac arrest for seasoned cruisers. !! Food and service was generally very good but no better than other cruise lines. The Venezia could get very congested sometimes with people trying to squeeze past with trays etc.The space is limited inside the Buffet. P&O are living in the past and cater mostly for stuffy elderly types. Not a lot to attract younger people. Some people look down on you if you have not done at least 20 cruises with P&O and reference is made quite often in the theatre by Entertainment Director. Who can remember Captain so and so from Canberra or Oriana in 1973 ?? Who has been on Adonia EtcEtc .Ha Ha. No interest to younger passengers. Disembarkation, A nightmare. Flight cancelled. P&O knew this the day before and never informed anyone until we had checked out of the cabin with minimum hand luggage.We never saw our luggage for 2 days. It was taken away on Thursday night and got it back at Glasgow on Saturday night. Overnight hotel was a dump. NO RUNNING WATER, for 2nd day in a row, NO TOILETS , Food disgusting, NO SANITATION. Sat in chair all night. Bed disgusting. Checked in next day to find we are downgraded to Economy on what appeared to be the oldest Jumbo Jet in he sky !!! Wamos Airlines. No inflight entertainment. Nothing. Crammed into middle row of 4 seats !! Even though 200 empty seats on plane. Did not pay Premium for this to arrive at 23,20 in Glasgow on a Saturday night 18,5 hours late.. This is the Life ?????????????? P&O should be ashamed. Elderly ladies were left wandering around Glasgow Airport at this time wondering what to do. No assistance at all. Many stranded and unable to get home. Our first and last Cruise with P&O is memorable for all the wrong reasons. American passengers would never stand for this type of treatment and neither should we. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We use this cruise to relax and not get jet lag on the way back, just chill on sea days and enjoy the ships entertainment each night, Good bunch of passengers playing deck quoits each day and we was able to play until the day before ... Read More
We use this cruise to relax and not get jet lag on the way back, just chill on sea days and enjoy the ships entertainment each night, Good bunch of passengers playing deck quoits each day and we was able to play until the day before disembarkation. Freedom dining is our preference and this worked really well... Coach service back to Gatwick makes the trip really good value .... Done this trip 5 times and it's best sailing back from Barbados.....not sailing from Southampton. Buffet area does not work as it's a pain to get a table and the restaurant is so much better for all meals and the glass house tiger prawns.....are delicious. Sindu was ok and the Beach house was not bad for value.... Staff onboard varied and some were just not happy to be there, but we found that it's the sea days that make it long days for them and this does have an effect on tiredness, so I make sure that I let them know how much they are appreciated and give extra tips to those who go that extra mile..... Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Our 3rd cruise with 3 different cruise lines and it has to be said that the food and service was below standard, especially the waiter service in restaurants, making it the least desirable cruise we have been on. Not sure I will cruise ... Read More
Our 3rd cruise with 3 different cruise lines and it has to be said that the food and service was below standard, especially the waiter service in restaurants, making it the least desirable cruise we have been on. Not sure I will cruise with P & O again!! If you are employed to be a waiter, why don't you know how to wait on a table? Very poor service throughout the cruise, except for the odd one or two evenings/waiters. The food was average, some dishes were served barely warm, not great. Wine waiters had no idea about wine, let alone how to pour wine. Head waiters didn't seem to care, not interested in putting things right. The entertainment was very good, catering for all tastes. Roy Walker was superb, Rietta Austin was amazing, Victoria and Accent were energetic to the end, and a joy to behold. Some of the top deck entertainment was a little loud and tiring, bordering on school playground, which needs tailoring to the clientele a little more. The gala evenings were a big disappointment. Not much happening anywhere on the ship, following on from great performances in the theatre, it all felt a bit of a high became a crashing low!!! In summary. Sort the quality of the food. Throw the waiter staff overboard and replace with waiters who know how to wait on tables, know how to smile and know how to engage with customers. Until then, I think I would avoid P & O. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Hygiene was a concern, a used tissue on the gangway on embarkation. Cabin was OK, but was unwell and had nosebleeds, told by cabin steward when asking for clean sheets that this was not a hotel and they change the sheets every 3 days. No ... Read More
Hygiene was a concern, a used tissue on the gangway on embarkation. Cabin was OK, but was unwell and had nosebleeds, told by cabin steward when asking for clean sheets that this was not a hotel and they change the sheets every 3 days. No towel art at all during our stay, part of the cruising experience. Asked for water from waiters ,either ignored, took 20 minutes to arrive or looked at like I was a piece of muck, yet people ordering alcohol got their drinks immediately. Hygiene in buffet, whilst there were hand cleaners no-one insisted on people using. A lot of the staff were wonderful and helpful, especially the breakfast waiting staff and also the waiting staff in the Oriental. Food was average, nothing special, the food that was of a suitable standard you were required to pay extra. P&O never missed a chance to grip more money. The ship broke down in the Azores, delayed 1 and a half days there, but ship caught up almost on the time. Captain left the ship in St Maarten, he was the lucky one, I would say, another person had died during the cruise and the body was down in the medical and another was ambulanced off at St Maarten. Tragedy continued when a mini-bus on one of P&O's overpriced excursions had a head-on collision resulting in one death and several in intensive care. The next port, a water taxi sprung a leak and the passengers had to be rescued by lifeboat. The ship was jinxed, the moral of people was low generally. Making cruises cheap unfortunately seems to attract a different demographic than I have experienced on past cruises. The P&O experience continued on the flight home, with Thomsons who are usually great for long haul flights, charging £2.50 for a coffee which would normally be free. I would not go on P&O again if it was free or if I was paid. I could go on... Entertainment wasn't bad. The horseracing event was painful on the ears because the Geordie girl from entertainment team, whilst a lovely girl, screeched so loud it grinds on your nerves. We were originally a party of 4, reduced to two for unforeseen circumstances, and we two left behind would never have chosen or booked this cruise, usually travel Princess or Carnival or other similar standard. . Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Clodia has already given a balanced an accurate review of this cruise so I will not go into so much detail. I would just further add that Captain Camby was superb, the staff were excellent,Benny the Entertainments Manager was exceptional, ... Read More
Clodia has already given a balanced an accurate review of this cruise so I will not go into so much detail. I would just further add that Captain Camby was superb, the staff were excellent,Benny the Entertainments Manager was exceptional, our cabin steward Leviston was simply brilliant. What a shame that this cruise was blighted by such bad luck. To summarise: - coach tour of Azores a complete £90 wash out and so foggy we could have been anywhere - starboard engine failure in the Azores causing 30 hour delay in port - late arrival, late departure and tropical storm soaking in St Maarten - late arrival in St Lucia - Dominica: tour bus accident (passenger fatality and injuries), exit/entry computer system inoperative, flood in the Malabar, breakdown of three lifts midship, stewards finger crushed in cabin door, late departure - Grenada: water taxi from Grand Anse beach overloaded and close to capsizing and drowning after taking on water (rescued by another water taxi and the Britannia launched a life boat) Apart from the above it was a good cruise but was upset to see drinks being served in Manhattan to a guy in a vest and shorts on a black tie evening (what happened to the dress code) and drinks being served to four underaged youngsters in the Malabar. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Azura Transatlantic: not the cruise from Hell! Warning: long review! Just back from this cruise, with my oldest friend; it was certainly “interesting” and actually made me realise how P and O cruises (of which this was my 20th) ... Read More
Azura Transatlantic: not the cruise from Hell! Warning: long review! Just back from this cruise, with my oldest friend; it was certainly “interesting” and actually made me realise how P and O cruises (of which this was my 20th) usually do run like clockwork! This one didn't; however much of what happened was not the fault of the staff and was handled well. We had priority boarding and were aboard by 12.50 and in the fizz and canape lunch in Sindhu by just after one. As it was my 60th birthday I really enjoyed a glass or 3 and something to eat; what a start to the cruise and still dinner in Epicurean to look forward to! Our cases had arrived by the time we had eaten and chosen a library book each, so we unpacked, found plenty of hangers and our cabin steward Cliford, who was superb, got us some more as we'd slightly overpacked, despite the fact that we would be flying home from Barbados. Muster was a little late as there was a coach stuck in traffic, so we got some Peller Ice from the Glass House and watched the people boarding through the window as we sipped. This meant that we sailed late, at nearly 6 o clock, something we were to do repeatedly on this cruise though for different reasons! We had a wonderful birthday meal in Epicurean, with smoked salmon carved at the table; pea and ham soup, main courses of lamb and veggie option, and crepes flambeed at the table with Grand Marnier. There were little extras from the chef, and some very nice wine; shiraz for me and chardonnay for my friend. We were too tired and replete to see the show, so relaxed on our balcony before bed. We had a lovely A deck midships balcony which was an upgrade to HA category from the HD one we'd booked. It was opposite the midship lifts but there was no noise at all from them. The beds were soft and in no time we slept. For the next 3 days we were at sea, with very calm weather for the first 2 and only a little moderately rough sea on the 3rd, so we explored, and went to many activities. Films, shows, talks, quizzes and displays. We enjoyed the daily sudoku and crossword from Reception, though we quickly got to know the style of the crossword setter and got a bit irritated with his 2 and 3 word clues and the grammatical inaccuracy of some clues which led to wrong conclusions! However we got all or most of them right each day, and it kept our brains working along with reading, talks, quizzes and the excellent Murder Mystery which we absolutely loved. It's the first time I've done one on a P and O ship; more please! A retired detective, Terry Brown, gave 3 interesting talks on these first 3 sea days, leading up to the Murder Mystery on the 5 days to the Caribbean. He had 11 volunteer suspects from passengers, set the scene, and put the rest of us into teams of detectives who had to interview each suspect, ask for further relevant information, discuss, and then come to a conclusion on the final day. We got it wrong but that didn't detract from the fun. The sessions overran each time which was a bit annoying as it prevented us from doing other things in which we were interested, so perhaps the Entertainment Manager needs to allocate more time than the standard 45 minutes to sessions of this kind in future. But I'd love to do it again! We were allocated a table for 6 on 2nd sitting, but only ate there about half of the nights of the cruise, though we enjoyed both the company of our table mates and the menus, because as it was a special birthday cruise we had decided to do more speciality eating, and tried the Epicurean twice, the Glass House 3 times, Sindhu once and the Beach House twice. All were excellent, though Epicurean is the best of all and I shall be there again next time I cruise! We had chosen this cruise as there were a lot of sea days, as we enjoy time at sea. I heard some people complaining about the number of sea days (one of which was actually spent docked for reasons I shall explain) and wondered why on earth they had chosen a transatlantic repositioning cruise if they didn't like sea days! There was always plenty to do; a bit of something for everyone. Pub quizzes and bingo, talks, shows, bands, comedy, choir,art classes, dance classes both formal and informal, etc etc. No classical music though, which disappointed me as I love it. Nor were there any of the more “intelligent” art house type of films that the ships which have dedicated cinemas sometimes show; the seascreen was all very “popular” stuff and many repeats. We also enjoyed just chilling out on our balcony or on deck with a coffee, iced water, beer or glass of wine too. What sea days are all about! Sunbeds: well despite pleas in Horizon and announcements on deck, the Lesser Spotted Azura Sunbed Hog is still alive and well even if there are definitely enough beds for all when people use them considerately. One announcement actually told us that there was no real way of policing sunbeds and appealed to our better nature; that might work on Aurora, sunshine, but you've got to remember that the big ships attract a minority who don't have one! But we could always get a bed somewhere. During the cruise I enjoyed my Caribbean privileges of free champagne one formal night and at a sailaway, and the excellent lunch with the officers and engineers. Before we got to the Caribbean, things went wrong though I shall say from the outset that none of it (except perhaps the sadness we all felt on learning of the road accident) stopped us from enjoying our cruise. We arrived on day 4 at Ponta Delgada, where despite cool weather we spent a morning exploring the town. There wasn't a lot to see but it was new to us so we enjoyed it. Pouring 2 gin and tonics for drinking on the balcony as we sailed away at 6 o clock, we awaited the usual “bing bong” names of pax not aboard, but instead got an announcement from Captain Camby telling us that there was a mechanical problem and that engineers were working on it, and we would sail late, without an announcement if it was very late. We went to dinner and tried not to think of the possible consequences. We didn't sail, and the Captain updated us again. During the night I kept waking up and peering out of the balcony curtains to see if we were still there. We were. And we were in the morning. I went up on deck for an 8 o clock update from the Captain, who told us that parts were being flown in and the problem still being worked on. We eventually slipped quietly away from the Azores at about 9.30 that evening, as we were eating our dinner in Sindhu. The Captain had kept us regularly updated, but would not make announcements late at night. Apparently it had been quite a serious problem, but it was handled extremely well by the Captain and staff. Disappointing to be stuck in Ponta Delgada for another rather cool day, when we were looking forward to the sun, but better than having a problem in the middle of the Atlantic! We all felt for Captain Camby as his wife was about to give birth to their first child and he wanted to get to St Maarten to fly home to them. In the end she gave birth the day before we got there, to an “adorable” boy called Austin Robert after his father. We were all delighted for him and hope he is enjoying time with his new family. So we changed Captains, to Angelo Vago whom we didn't warm to nearly as much, in St Maarten, where we did eventually arrive only 4 hours late after sailing 30 hours late from the Azores! Quite an achievement if you ask me! Unfortunately, late arrivals did somewhat spoil our enjoyment of some of the ports at the end of the cruise. I didn't mind the heat, but the humidity really got to me, and while we could have coped with doing things in the morning, arriving after noon made walking about almost impossible, and I am quite fit! I used the gym every day until we arrived in St Maarten, but for the final 6 days just found it too much despite the aircon in there! We did walk to Philipsberg and were not terribly impressed. We walked around, got hassled by vendors, had a rather expensive rum punch, and visited a shop advertising “clean restrooms” to buy a bottle of local rum and use their toilets. The “clean restrooms” turned out to be a filthy toilet in a corrugated iron shack with no paper and a notice on the door saying “No poo poo only pee pee.” Culture shock or what! Wonder what the American tourists made of it? Afterwards we found a small beach and had a lovely cool swim, followed by a hot and uncomfortable walk back to the shopping centre near the docks, sand in toes etc. We did a bit of shopping, had a cold beer, and got back on Azura, hoping to be a bit more comfortable the next morning in St Lucia. Unfortunately the late sailings continued, as one of the trips was very late back to the ship after a rope got tangled around a boat propeller, forcing the passengers to have to be rescued by coach. I bet they were pleased! We eventually sailed in the late evening, having changed Captains (Vago didn't keep us nearly as well informed as Camby), which meant another late arrival into St Lucia, and leaving the ship in the full heat of the day. Waiting for a water taxi to the town, we were informed that we would be put into groups of 16 and there would be a 25 minute wait. I could have gone with this at 9am, but not at 1.30pm in the humid 32 degree heat! My friend and I reluctantly made the decision to forget going to town and just to explore on foot the area around the docks, shopping and gratefully subsiding into a seat at a bar for cold drinks. We stayed over an hour and listened to the local band playing which we enjoyed. At least the toilets, though simple, were clean here! St Lucia looked nice from our balcony. I'd like to see it from a boat or first thing in the morning another time. We still sailed late (another delayed trip) which was annoying as we had not had a single sailaway so far. I am not wonderfully keen on the manic activity round the pool, preferring to have a quiet drink on my balcony or in a quieter deck bar, but part of a cruise for me is that lovely moment when the ship's horn sounds and we pull slowly away from our dock. I was missing it keenly by now. However, as the distance was short, we were docked early in Dominica, so looked forward to going ashore after an early breakfast. Again we were disappointed. We docked miles out of town as Celebrity had the town berth (do they pay more?) and it was too far to walk in the heat. We expected a P and O shuttle as we were docked so far away but there wasn't one (nor anywhere in the Caribbean; are they not allowed or something) so we paid for a private minibus tour of the area, only to discover that we had to wait nearly half an hour for him to fill up and there was no aircon, only open windows useless in the humid heat. I hated every minute on that bus and was glad to be dropped near the port, opposite the Celebrity ship. We had a short walk in town and retired gratefully to a cafe for cold drinks, where at least there was a large fan which we sat behind! It was a little slice of life sitting drinking local beer and watching the world go by. We managed to get a private taxi back to the ship. But he tried to charge us twice. As we had paid the asked for 10 dollars at the start we refused to pay again, and were left still with a walk to the ship, though not a long one. We went to the market but most of the stuff was tat. The current exchange rate makes everything expensive so you only buy what you really want! Unfortunately that was the day that there was a road accident on Dominica involving a car and a minibus which was carrying passengers on a P and O tour. One was killed and a number injured. Captain Vago announced this at departure time though rumours were already around the ship, and asked us out of respect not to speculate, particularly on social media, as no names could be announced until relatives had been contacted. This was fair enough though we found out that it was already on social media by the time he made his announcement. I decided to ring my husband at home and get him to ring my friend's family, which was just as well as he was faced with calls over the following days from friends and family who had seen it on social media. We were Speciality dining that night and went for cocktails first in the Planet Bar, but the news took the shine off our and others' evenings a bit as we all felt for those involved. Eventually we sailed, again later, with some of the pax with minor injuries able to reboard the ship and continue their holiday, though several were left in hospital with relatives being flown out and the Port Agent taking care of their arrangements. We felt sad as we watched their cases being offloaded. The next day was Grenada, which was our favourite island of those we visited. We had booked on the Rhum Runner, originally in the afternoon, for a sail around the island, a beach visit and some rum punch! Our trip was changed by P and O “for operational reasons” to the morning, which actually turned out better for us. As Britannia the monster was docked opposite us, we guessed the “operational reasons”; their pax got the afternoon trip! As it happened, we got sunshine and they got rain! We were very apprehensive about the trip after the Dominica incident, but we really enjoyed the island cruise on the big flat bottomed catamaran, with a chance to see the marine life, and the visit to an idyllic beach with time to swim, drink and laze. And lots of rum punch, and a steel band and dancing all the way back. It was all good clean fun, no one was too drunk and we loved it! Getting back onboard for lunch, we enjoyed more swimming and lazing in the afternoon. This time we sailed on time, more or less, and looked in on the Great British Sailaway with Britannia and Azura trying to outdo each other, but found it a bit full on and took our cocktails back to our balcony instead for a more peaceful departure. I was up at 6 to see the last docking in Barbados, and was glad we'd gone for the 15 night cruise as it gave us a full day and overnight there. As it was early we tried a walk, and saw some of the town, but got hopelessly lost trying to find a nearby beach and gave in to one of the persistent taxi drivers. He of course took us to his mates' place on Carlisle Beach, but it was very nice, with cold drinks, chairs and umbrellas for hire, showers to get the sand off etc, and free wifi. We had a swim and a short sunbathe, then more cold drinks. The driver picked us up and delivered us back to the docks where we did our last shopping before getting back onboard to start the dreaded packing and get a quart into 2 pint pots acceptable to the aircraft! We threw a few things away or stuffed them into handbaggage! Cases outside and vanished within 5 minutes, it was time to enjoy our last night, where we ate in the Beach House, and then had a drink on deck. I went to the show and my friend went to see a film, (that was often our after dinner choice) then we met for a nightcap before our last sleep. I had never done a transatlantic fly cruise so didn't know what to expect, and it wasn't a good way to end a lovely holiday! We were picked up on time, the coach was airconditioned, but it was a long ride and we were waiting by the roadside for a time. The airport lacked facilities and the duty free was too expensive. The flight was on time but we were made to stand at the gate in the heat for an unacceptably long period. An 8 hour flight is not pleasant and I shan't be doing it again. The service on the aircraft was appalling, a complete contrast to the excellent service we had from all the staff on Azura, and when we landed there were no trains for hours. We spent a freezing 3 hours at the station trying to get warm with hot drinks. Not recommended! On balance, we really enjoyed the “cruise” part of this cruise: the food, entertainment, service, and the huge majority of the company. The Caribbean; well I'm unsure. I liked Barbados and Grenada, and probably would have liked St Lucia if we had got to see more, but wasn't impressed with St Maarten or Dominica. Maybe you can't judge after so few islands. If I return, it'll be on a cruise sailing both ways from the UK. We passed Aurora who was on her way home as we sailed out to the Azores and I was envious (we had a great horn competition!) We met lots of really nice fellow passengers, and unfortunately 3 very rude people; really not bad out of over 3000! One woman who thought we had pushed in front of her in a queue (we hadn't, and she wouldn't accept it and ranted on and on like a lunatic!) and a couple who obviously thought they were better than everybody else on the ship and got into a rant about our being “chavs” (we aren't). But it's Azura again. We've never had any rude pax on the mid sized ships! So much so that we have a phrase in our house when someone is rude or crass: “Oh how very Azura of you!” To sum up: a chapter of accidents, couldn't be helped and well handled. Some ports we loved, others not. Great food and service. Great entertainment though less for the more educated and more for the lowest common denominator; quite a contrast to Aurora! Made myself stay awake till the night after the sleepless flight, and rested now though a bit jet lagged. Can't wait for my next cruise (Aurora!). Might give Azura a miss for a while, unless the itinerary is a must! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
To begin with, it’s only fair to say that all things considered, our time with the P&O Azura on this 15 night Caribbean cruise was good. The crew, accommodation, facilities and entertainment were excellent. The restaurant food was ... Read More
To begin with, it’s only fair to say that all things considered, our time with the P&O Azura on this 15 night Caribbean cruise was good. The crew, accommodation, facilities and entertainment were excellent. The restaurant food was most agreeable, however, it took us four days to get the freedom dining that we wanted. Initially, we had been assigned a late sitting, fixed table with fellow diners that were at least 30 years older than us. No disrespect to these people, but we had nothing in common largely due to the age gap and conversation was very stilted. When assigning tables I think the restaurant team should try and aim to have similar aged people wherever possible. As the cruise developed, there were numerous problems and events which made it unforgettable for all the wrong reasons (prompting one passenger we overheard in the atrium to call this the ‘jinxed cruise’). For us, it all started with the transfer coach from Manchester to Southampton which was struck by a pheasant. Speeding along the motorway, the coach collided with the hapless bird which smashed the windscreen forcing the coach driver to halt the journey at a service station until a replacement coach could be organised. This meant that we arrived as the ship was almost about to sail. However, in the embarkation terminal, we found that owing to some sort of IT issue, we could not be processed and so had to wait for what seemed like an eternity until we eventually boarded Azura. Because we then had to attend the lifeboat safety drill, it meant that the first day was pretty much over. A few days later at Ponta Delgada (Azores), the ship developed a technical issue which meant that we couldn’t depart and so had to spend another day in this unexciting port. Mechanical issues happen with something as complex as a cruise ship and the captain did his best to expedite things and get us on our way. However, because we were so delayed it meant that we had to cruise as fast as possible in a constant attempt to catch up. Despite this, we were delayed in getting to our next port of call and so had less time there than expected. Later in the cruise, we were shocked when an announcement was made that there had been an accident ashore in Dominica and one of the passengers had been killed. There was a road traffic incident in which their sightseeing mini-van was involved in a collision. There were apparently several injured passengers along with the passenger fatality. The driver was also killed. This was really sad news and to be honest, it was worrying since it was reported that some of the busses used for trips had seatbelts that were less than ideal and witnesses said that seatbelts had mechanisms that was so badly rusted they couldn’t close. Again, something P&O need to investigate thoroughly. Later, there were other incidents such as a small ferry that began to sink with cruise passengers on board and needed to be rescued. On another occasion, our departure from one of the islands was delayed again as one of the boats on an organised trip had mechanical difficulties (something to do with the propeller being snagged by fishing line). Of course, the incidents described could not be attributable to P&O, however they did have knock on effects and it is hard not to feel that some episode or other was likely to befall us. Some of the passengers on board did seem to be out of place and they did bring the tone down somewhat. For example, a man was exceptionally drunk and caused trouble in one of the bars. Eventually, he was restrained and put into isolation (I guess in the ships brig). When he had sobered up a little, he was interviewed and promised to behave, accepting that he would not be allowed access to any more alcohol - if he could be allowed to enjoy the rest of his holiday. Later, he was spotted drunk again as apparently, a friend had procured for him a bottle of spirits. To round the holiday off, after returning to the ship from a very exciting submarine trip, we were dismayed to find our cabin had been flooded. We were not upset by the flooding (water was coming in from the cabin next to us), but the way in which we were treated. For example, our door was open (a definite security risk) and the whole room was in disarray with carpets being pulled up and our belongings strewn haphazardly all over the place. Additionally, there were two large hot air blowers running noisily. Further, the cabin heating had been set to full (in an attempt to dry the carpets) however, this made the atmosphere like a sauna and it made our hanging clothes damp. Cutting a long story short, it took several frustrating hours to eventually be offered an alternative cabin. We understand that issues can happen with plumbing, however, after writing to P&O, they accept that things did not go smoothly and lessons would be learned. We have cruised with P&O nine times now. Despite the many things that happened on this particular trip on Azura, the unfortunate events have to be balanced against the positives. One of the highlights for us were the genuine, lovely people we met (shout-outs to Jim, Phil, John and Christine!). For that reason, coupled with the hardworking ships company, we would cruise with P&O again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This transatlantic cruise for us personally was our best yet . Many thanks to the P&O advisors who gave us excellent pre cruise help and advice. Same goes for you guys here on Critics, many thanks. Also the flight from ... Read More
This transatlantic cruise for us personally was our best yet . Many thanks to the P&O advisors who gave us excellent pre cruise help and advice. Same goes for you guys here on Critics, many thanks. Also the flight from Manchester (TCX 132) was as good as it could get, the crew looked after us and even gave us our head phones for the in-flight system, to keep. From what we saw of the £5 film upgrade it seemed limited so stuck with the free channels and were happy with them . The Azura is near on identical to the Ventura which we have also used in the past so we had no problems getting around the ship. The ports we visited were very good also .St Lucia being our most favourite. We took a visit to Reduit beach and contrary to us being told the " The sellers on the beach pester you all day long " They were not to bad and were friendly enough people. We took the water taxi over the bay in ST Maarten over looking our ship the Azura , also the Thomson Celebration and a French ship called Horizon joined us later that day. This seemed to be the worst beach for getting pestered with locals trying to sell their goods/services but hey , they are only trying to make a living . The crossing over the Atlantic was the best conditions ever seen in over 10 years was the words of Captain Robert Camby and we were happy with the conditions too. After leaving the Azores the weather cooled as we made our way back to the UK but that was to be expected really. The food on the ship was really good that we ate in only the buffet and the Glass House all of our cruise. The Azura crew have been tarred & labeled as offish in some posts I have read. We found them to be great if you spoke to them first, not everyone wants to chat so they let you make the first move so as not to come accross as in your face . We put our balcony to very good use using room service to supply our drinks . 12 PEPSI bottles £9.95 and a 1 ltr of SOUTHERN COMFORT £20 for our very own sail away parties... just remember to take your bottle opener . Azura never felt crowded even on sea days but it could get a little cramped with the book/kindle readers and card players who were not eating or drinking taking up the tables at main meal times in the buffet and the Glass House whilst down on deck 7 were two bars and one up on deck 18 almost deserted at these times. The coach and disembarkation was well organised , 4 hours back to Manchester Airport with a stop 2 hours into the journey for refreshments etc. So all in all , a very enjoyable holiday with good memories and a head full of Capt Camby's "Thought of the day." to remember. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Having previously cruised with Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity my wife and I were looking forward to travelling with P&O on, what we believed, would be a 'de luxe' cruising experience. How wrong were we!! On ... Read More
Having previously cruised with Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity my wife and I were looking forward to travelling with P&O on, what we believed, would be a 'de luxe' cruising experience. How wrong were we!! On arrival after a very long travelling day we were amazed to find that the 'buffet',which on other vessels, is always open on embarkation day was closed and other than having a meal in the Peninsula at 20.45hrs (later than advertised) the only alternative was a very poor Deck BBQ. Not a good start but a minor niggle compared to what was to come!! Very quickly after arriving in Cabin E230 we became aware of a very obtrusive noise from Life Boat number 8 which was outside the cabin window. This noise can only be described as a hydraulic pump starting with a loud report, running for approximately 10 seconds then ceasing, this being repeated approximately every 8 minutes,24 hours per day! Hoping that the noise would stop of its own accord I did not report the problem immediately but after 3 days I fortuitously spoke to a ships engineer who I saw on deck during a crew emergency drill exercise. On my description of the problem he stated that it possibly was some sort of leak on the Life Boat hydraulic system and that he would speak to the Chief Engineer, he also advised me to report the incident to The Reception Desk. Over the subsequent days of the cruise engineers worked on the Life Boat but the noise would only cease for a maximum of a day and would then commence again, I continued to report the problem to Customer Services, the last report being made on the 29th March but there appeared no further action by engineering staff up to the termination of the cruise, the intermittent noise continuing to be a constant source of annoyance and interrupted sleep and relaxation in the cabin. However a further, totally different problem manifested itself as the vessel commenced the Transatlantic crossing. At this time we were aware of what can only be described as constant loud 'knocking' from behind the wall and ceiling panels in the entrance area of the cabin. This noise was again very obtrusive and constant and yet again our sleep and rest pattern was greatly disrupted. I can only describe it as a form of 'torture '. I again spoke to Customer Services and the manager visited the cabin and agreed the noise was not acceptable. An Engineer also visited but quickly admitted the problem could not be solved and that it would probably be rectified at the imminent refit! Customer Services confirmed that the vessel was almost full and that the only other cabin available would be an Interior, which was not acceptable to ourselves. Finally a compromise was reached whereby an Interior cabin on D deck was made available to us for sleeping, not the most convenient situation but at least some sleep These problems aside we were also very disappointed with the cruise in general. Food was mediocre except in the speciality restaurants, many of the clientèle did not seem to adhere to the normal standards of behaviour expected on Cruises with alleged instances of drunkenness and assault occurring, culminating in the Police attending the vessel at docking in The Azores. The entertainment can only described as poor 'Holiday Camp' standard. The staff worked hard especially our cabin steward but other travellers who had been on the same cruise last year all remarked that standards had dropped considerably, even to the extent of not having a Wine Waiter and expecting untrained waiters to be knowledgeable on all wines! We were very exited to be travelling with P&O but this excitement rapidly evaporated when on board. We describe the trip as 'The Cruise from Hell' and will never cruise with P&O in the future or recommend them to our many friends. Our long awaited holiday was ruined by P&O due to lack of sleep and relaxation. Use this ship if you are happy with mediocrity; avoid if you expect fine dining, like minded passengers with decent standards of behaviour and an informative pleasurable experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We cruised on Ventura in 20014 and had a excellent holiday,We had no reservations in booking the P&O Azura transatlantic cruise from Barbados calling at St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten and the Azores, finishing at Southampton with a ... Read More
We cruised on Ventura in 20014 and had a excellent holiday,We had no reservations in booking the P&O Azura transatlantic cruise from Barbados calling at St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten and the Azores, finishing at Southampton with a total of eight days at sea. We were aware the ship was scheduled a refit immediately after disembarkation. We chose an outside cabin on E deck with an obstructed view, that description is correct, all we could see was the large tender outside. What we did not expect was the lack of privacy with crew working on the tender on a number of occasions with a full view of our cabin. All though we did enjoy the destinations we were disappointed the dining experience . We were allocated second sitting in the peninsular restaurant. The lack of staff was very apparent, the decision by P&O to remove the wine waiter from the restaurant is a big mistake. Our waiter was rushed off his feet, serving three tables and taking wine orders, he struggled to cope. On a number of occasions we received our wine order half way through the meal, i feel this will be detrimental for P & O as we will not order a wine package if we cruise with them again. The menu was good and varied, however the quality and presentation left much to be desired, (spongy yorkshire puddings and baked Alaska that looked like it had been bought in Iceland) this was very disappointing after the excellent food and service we received on the Ventura (Marco Pierre White would not be impressed). We used the dining room for breakfast and lunch as the buffet restaurants were extremely busy. The afternoon tea was a joke in the main dining room, with dried up sandwiches and a few cakes, not a pleasant experience. We were disappointed with the daily activities on the long days at sea but the nighttime entertainers were very good. My last gripe is disembarkation in Southampton. We had to vacate our cabin at 08.00 and given a time of 10.45 to disembark and told to wait in the Sindu restaurant. We arrived to find staff cleaning the restaurant and half of the area cordoned off and toilets closed. The organization was dier, you would expect all passengers to have vacated the ship before the staff start cleaning. In summary, We sailed the North Atlantic, enjoyed the destinations, however, The Azura is not a patch on the Ventura and overall very disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first ever cruise and I must say it was an experience of a lifetime and it won’t be our last. If you have never cruised before there were a number of things to consider before booking the cruise. Type of Cruise The biggest ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and I must say it was an experience of a lifetime and it won’t be our last. If you have never cruised before there were a number of things to consider before booking the cruise. Type of Cruise The biggest decision you must make is to determine the type of cruise you want. This 15 night “Caribbean Isles – Southampton to Barbados” cruise involved 9 days at sea and 6 days visiting 6 Caribbean islands. If you would prefer more than a few hours on the beach or maybe an overnight stay on an island this trip is not for you. Daily, when docked, you exited the ship at 8 - 9am but had to return by 4.30 – 5.30 pm as the Azura sailed by 6.00pm at the latest. Rough Weather Another point to bear in mind is that sailing from Southampton, even in this huge 150,000 ton ship still meant the risk of stormy weather and at times a heaving ship. I passed on one evening meal on day 2 and my wife felt poorly until Day 4. During this time the ability to walk on deck is limited. The Azura has a promenade deck on deck 7 but hasn’t any deck that allows you to walk completely around the ship. Sun and heat Sunbathing was not an option until Day 6 and our departure from the Azores so if sunbathing is you “raison d’etre” then be aware of this limiting factor. Booking We booked the cruise only 3 weeks before departure. We were reeled in by the good value on offer but by booking late we could not chose our deck or cabin, we gained no onboard spending credit and lost the ability to chose where we ate each night, an option called “Freedom Dining”. Medical P&O site gives little guidance but recommends you visit the UK Government website dealing with foreign countries & their specific diseases. I rang P&O customer services are they said there was no mandatory requirement to protect yourself for this cruise. I decided to get jabs for protection against Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid and as these can last up to 15 years or so if they are not of use on this cruise I will find them useful for future travels. What to bring A shower cap, toothbrushes & toothpaste and a corkscrew bottle opener are recommended. P&O unusually for cruise lines allows passengers to bring drink onboard from the islands the ship visits but few shops sell corkscrew bottle openers. Flip flops, sun hats & glasses and swimming trunks are a good idea but like sun tan lotion, after sun, antiseptic creams and most other things, are available at normal prices on board. Cabins We booked a cabin with an outside window and were delighted with the allocated cabin, a mid-ship cabin P248 on Deck 7. I’d like to thank our hard working and very friendly cabin steward Michael who cleaned twice a day and delivered fresh crisp towels, the ships Horizon newsletter and chocolates nightly. In hindsight I’d probably pay the extra for a balcony next time but several of those travelers with balconies claimed not to use them much. Laundry is self-service and there was a room on Deck 7 with a washer, a drier, iron and ironing board. Powder tablets are sold in a shop on board for 60p. A payable laundry service is also available. Meals Breakfast & daytime eating Food is available 24 x 7 at self service restaurants on deck 15 where it alternates from the Venezia to the Verona and back, as they close, clean, re-stock and reopen them. The Peninsula Restaurant provides a waiter served, open seated, breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea if that’s what you’d prefer. Open seated means that as you enter they staff check if you are prepared to share a table and just sit you with the people around you in the queue. The Aqua Bar & Pizzaria provides snacks, pizzas, chips etc by the pool on Deck 15, all at no extra cost. Evening Meals – the Peninsula Restaurant We were delighted with the food and service we received in the Peninsula restaurant, where we sat on a table for two. Yes, we missed the banter the travelers enjoyed with each other on the eight seat tables but on the plus side it allowed us to focus on the food which nightly was varied and of the highest quality. The food was beautifully presented and served piping hot and within minutes of ordering. We had a great relationship with our waiters Welber & Alvin, not to mention our wine waiter Lester who made us feel rather like a “lord and lady” rather a “Mr and Mrs”. I compared the eating experience, to our family, on our return as similar to sitting down to the office Christmas evening dinner for 15 nights on the trot. We were allocated a second sitting slot by P&O but the Peninsula’s Manager managed to amend that to a first sitting by Day 3. It’s a numbers game for the restaurant management as people allocated sitting seek to switch times in both directions. On this occasion they were able to facilitate us. The first sitting was 6.30pm while the second is 8.30pm most nights. The only extra charge for the evening meal was the wine which we drank nightly and cost between £15 -20 per bottle and came chilled. If, as many nights we didn’t finish the bottle it was kept for us to enjoy the next night. I’m no expert but I thoroughly enjoyed Chilean white Chardonnay Reserva, Vina Mar, Casablanca Valley (£15.95) and it become our wine of choice for most of the cruise. We saw no need to use the two restaurants where you had to reserve a meal and pay extra to visit. “17” costs an extra £28 per person and Sindhu costs £15 extra per person. The standard and quality of the food in the Peninsula was fine for us. Black Tie Dinner Events The cruise involved four Black Tie dining evenings which all took place before we reached the Caribbean and are optional though most passengers partake. We found it fun to get dressed up and P&O uses the event as an opportunity to sell photographs. Throughout the Atrium and the restaurant’s the ships photographers seek to capture that magic moment when you both look at your best. One can view the picture at £11.80 as a snap that on its return to land will rarely see daylight or you can view it as a cheap way to get a portrait shot of both of you “glammed up and looking hot”. We bought two pictures over the course of the trip but I’d guess the photography team took as many as 30 snaps. If they halved the price I’m sure they’d sell many more pictures. God knows they must shred 95% of all pictures taken at the end of the cruise. Also why not supply a soft copy with/ instead of the hard copy? It’s of no further use to P&O once the cruise is over but people would probably show it to their family & friends on Facebook which might provoke more interest in P&O cruises. Throughout the cruise we had Sailaway parties as we left each port and a Caribbean night in the restaurant when even the waiters went Caribbean. At Antigua we left port, in the gathering darkness, with a US ship alongside and the “Best of British” sailaway party saw the upper deck festooned with Union Jack bunting, hundreds of passengers waving Union Jack flags and singing songs from Ireland, England Scotland and Wales. It was similar to the atmosphere and scenes captured on the “Last night of the Proms”. Quite what the bemused Americans made of it was anyone’s guess but we were partying away and singing loudly until the island and its US boat became a distant glint on the skyline. On Board Activities We found the days at sea just perfect for us. Our routine was to rise by 7.00 am, have a hearty breakfast and join at 8.00 am a group of fellow passengers for a one mile walk round the ship which took about 20 minutes. We then took coffee & a croissant in the Peninsula restaurant where we chatted away to fellow passengers, all more experienced cruisers than us, before enjoying a bit of sunbathing. By 12 noon you could have found us gathered in the Planet Bar on deck 18 where an Azura choir (circa 50 passengers) was formed on Day 1 and rehearsed an hour a day until performing in the ships atrium on Day 8. The Azura Choir I must pay special tribute to Ms Emma Alexander, Assistant Entertainments Manager who along with Robert, the Azura pianist made our cruise experience entirely special by investing their immense talents in the voices of this bunch of knackered older singers. Emma chose and led us through 12 songs that ranged from touchingly sentimental to stridently regimental, from loud to soft, from solo to four part harmony. Standing on heaving decks and tilting furniture Emma displayed incredible control and brilliant communication skills and really took the choir to tackle arrangements we had no right to attempt. I believe she is moving onto the new liner Brittania in 2015 and will be Azura’s loss. Other Activities Similarly the ships entertainment team organized an Azura’s Got Talent competition which involved rehearsals and a show as well as an Azura’s Strictly Ballroom competition, firmly based on the BBC format. Both led to passengers getting a chance to perform on the Playhouse stage and watched by an audience of several hundred who applauded warmly their efforts. Still more daily activities were football, golf and basketball on Deck 19, line dancing, ballroom dancing, card sessions, art classes, lectures on the islands yet to visit and of course work outs in the gym or spa sessions in the Oasis Club. The casino & one armed bandits in Brodies provided alternative options for people with different interests. The library on Deck 6 also provided WIFI at a price and a table in that area offered free books left by other passengers. A book & magazine shop on deck 6 provided fresh reading material and the ship publishes a daily UK/ World newspaper which you could collect for free from that area. The Playhouse theatre, the Malabar and the Manhattan on Deck 7 all hosted daytime sales sessions that P&O portrayed as educational sessions. For example a 10.00 am session on “Arthritis & Back Pain Solutions” in the Malabar bar is actually an opportunity for the Oasis Spa Acupuncture therapist to sell her skills to passengers. Similarly the information sessions on the various islands are hosted by the Sales Team members who seek to inform / sell you the P&O trips available and press home the fear of missing out as trips may be fully booked when we reach the island in question. However there were events of a purely informative nature with interviews with the ship’s captain and other staff along with “behind the scene” visits to the kitchens or staff-only areas of the ship. Sunday Service On both Sundays the ship’s Polish captain led the Church Service which was held in the Playhouse Theatre. A broadly Christian affair it was a mixture of readings and hymns and was particularly moving on the Sunday before Poppy Day when we reflected on our good fortune to be alive when sailing the seas was for pleasure and not for country. We finished each service with the first verse of “God Save the Queen” which reminded both of us of the British’ness of the P&O line and actually added to our enjoyment of the experience as we are from Ireland. The on board shops had rolling sales events focusing on watches & jewelry one day, clothes the next, alcohol and cigarettes another day and so on. The ship has an art gallery and art to sell at prices from a few hundred pounds to several thousands and they ran a few seminars on aspects of art for those interested. Evening Entertainment The Evening Entertainment was varied and each night multiple activities were on offer. Jazz in the Planet Bar and the Glass House, West End style shows with the excellent Headliners, Comedians, ventriloquists, impersonators in the Playhouse, singers in the Malabar Bar, movies up on the large outdoor TV screen on Deck 15 & 16, Ballroom dancing most nights in the Atrium and more we never got to! We found several performances in the Playhouse of visiting performers got filled quickly so we tended to arrive 20 minutes before the show to get seats. You cannot reserve seats. It’s all a first come first served basis. Newspaper Each night a Horizon daily activities ships newspaper was slipped under your cabin door which detailed the numerous activities going on the next day. It was more than sad not to receive it on our next to last day as it signaled P&O’s lack of interest in us as passengers even though we remained such for another 14 hours. P&O Trips The P&O Trips Ashore which we took were a major disappointment in two of the three occasions. Pass to Fairview House, St Kitts - £19 each. The driver was excellent and told us about the buildings we passed on the 15 minute drive and the house upon arrival was a restored plantation owner’s house. The guide spoke for about 10 minutes in the reception room and left us all to wander for the next 3 hours. Truthfully we looked forward to the tropical gardens but there just wasn’t that much to see. Some exhibits detailed on a sign the full latin name of a plant or shrub but behind the sign only a stump stood! The sugar cane example was dead. The whole garden took about 10 minutes to walk around. Perhaps the time of year might have meant less was in flower but there wasn’t much of a garden anyway. My own was bigger! Waterfall & Gardens St Lucia £45 each was an even bigger disappointment. We travelled in a packed coach with tiny seats and a struggling air conditioning unit for over an hour and a half around hairpin bends and up and down hill and dale to reach a very ordinary waterfall. The fall of 30 feet is far from spectacular and the appearance of concrete and chicken wire as part of the waterfall made it almost un-photographic. The pool it fell into was tiny and tricked away into a stream heading off to the right. Hundreds of other tourists streamed in and out as we struggled to understand why we had been taken to this location. A few donned swimwear and stood in the small pool while the water fell on their heads & shoulders. It was a massive disappointment. However the “Garden” was equally unimpressive when we got to it. Owned by the restaurant owner we were about to visit it consisted of a path past some thoughtful religious quotations which weaved its way down and up a small incline and contained some wooden structures and a pond with fish in it. Less than a minute away was the restaurant and its owner who provided what has to be the smallest and meanest subsistence I have ever received on any tour. The small plastic plate was no more than the size of a saucer and its contents were 4 in number and paltry in content. One chicken wing each was part of it. The drink was a very watered down juice of some sort. He invited us to buy beers and drinks but I don’t believe he got any takers. There were only one photo stop where we could exit the coach just to take pictures and the other photo opportunities were only accessible if you sat on the right side of the coach. Taken in its entirety the £90 paid for a bone rattling 3 hour journey to/from a non-site and be fed morsels of food was a complete rip off of £90. No sales staff appeared at the sales desks that night that I could find and probably just as well. I completed my customer questionnaire and invited contact but have not had any to date. Coast to Coast Tour – Barbados £39 each proved to be a reasonably good tour in that it did what it said it would and took us across the island visiting the beaches (10 minute stop), a church (20 minutes) and a refreshment/ photo stop where at 10.30am we drank a rum cocktail. The driver was informative and good humored and we enjoyed the 4 hour outing. My Cruise DVD - £16.95 I purchased the DVD but would not advise others to do so as the DVD is largely a marketing tool for P&O including pre-recorded clips on the ship & the islands. The unavailability of the DVD until the second last night of the cruise is a mystery as so little of the actual cruise is included in the end product. Very little of our actual cruise features in the DVD. There are some video clips from the Sailaway parties but largely of the back of people’s heads. The captain’s speech is given prominence with again the back of people’s heads. The excellent stage shows are shown without actual audio but a homogenous general overriding music track. The Azura Choir’s performance of 40 minutes is brutally edited down to 8 minutes and leaves out all the four part harmony and several decent performances.It also excludes the thanks given on camera by the choir to Emma and Robert. This is despite me being told by the Photography Team on their desk that it would all be included but as an extra on the DVD. Not so. Flight home from Barbados We were coached from the Azura on Saturday at 12.30 to the airport and flew to Manchester on a Thomas Cook A330. The plane sat three rows of three passengers across the main body of the craft. The width of the seats was extremely narrow forcing passengers to crush together. The flight was 8 hours long. No headphones were provided as, apparently the Manchester to Barbados customers had taken the headsets with them. We’d paid for two allocated seats in a two seat section when we booked the cruise as my wife has severe back problems and would need to walk about but Thomas Cook changed the plane type so we were trapped by a third person who fell asleep snoring loudly and restricted us to our seats. In summary we had a fantastic holiday and were sad to be going home. There were opportunities for P&O to make it a perfect holiday but though they fell short I’d give them another chance.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise. We were on P & O Azura for 15 nights from Southampton to Barbados. We had a great time definitely one of our best holidays. From the moment we arrived at the Southampton ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise. We were on P & O Azura for 15 nights from Southampton to Barbados. We had a great time definitely one of our best holidays. From the moment we arrived at the Southampton cruise terminal we were greeted by a genuinely cheery porter who took our suitcases and directed us into the terminal. We arrived earlier than our allotted time slot so expected to sit and wait but there was no queue and they were more than happy to allow us to board. Our outside cabin was lovely and clean our cabin steward, Sailesh, could not be more attentive if he had tried. We were close to the Art gallery which we thought was a great location it was quiet but close to the amenities. We were allocated second sitting for dinner, which was 20.30 hours most nights, this suited us. Our table was for 10 people however there was only ever 6 of us for dinner. We had a great table and really enjoyed the company so much so that only ever dined in the Peninsular despite initially thinking we would try the specialty restaurants. The crossing over the Atlantic was a little rough I found it added to the excitement but a few on board found it difficult. We were a little concerned we would find the sea days hard going, but no we had a great time. I attended the Art classes each morning ran by Alex Davidson. This was great having never painted, apart from at school, Alex had us all, as he promised, painting by the end of the sea days. Thank you Alex and the others on the course who made it such fun a really did have fun. We both went to the social whist in the afternoon, again we were new to this and I was a little apprehensive, but there was no need again the people were lovely very welcoming. Our first Port of call was the Azores we had booked a P & O trip to the Crater lakes. This was really disappointing the cloud obscured all the views so was pointless. Other passengers jumped on the local train/tourist bus or horse and cart around the town for only 5 Euros each much better value, never mind. Our second port of call was St Maartin. I had booked a 2 tank dive with Cruise excursions as we are both Padi divers. This was paid up front in English at a cost of just under £150 for both of us. I was a little worried as we didn’t get into Port until 0830 which is the time we were supposed to be a the Little Divi Bay Resort. We arrived at 0915 at the resort but this wasn’t a problem. We were on a dive boat with 4 other divers, a captain and guide diver. This was great, the sea was a little rough and the currents strong but we saw a reef shark, turtle, lobsters and of course plenty of fish all around ship wrecks it was great. Our third Port was St Kitts. We had booked to do a 4 x 4 off road with a rainforest hike with Greg Safaris. This was booked online but we didn’t have to pay anything until the end of the trip US$ 65 each. Unfortunately there was a little mix up and Greg said he couldn’t honor the trip until the afternoon as we were the only people that had booked it. This wasn’t too much of a problem we ended up taking a local bus to Brimstone Hill Fort which cost US$5 for both each way, although the walk up to the Fort from the bus stop is not for the faint hearted it’s a steep hill and takes about 20-30 minutes in the Caribbean heat!. We then went on our Tour into the Rainforest in the afternoon. This was fantastic we had our own guide who really knew about the forest it was hard work but we needed to burn some calories from all the food we had eaten. Fourth Port, Antigua. We hadn’t booked anything so we took a local bus from the bus depot costing US$5 each way per couple along with another couple from our dining table. We went to Darkwood beach which is a beautiful Caribbean beach on the Caribbean side of the island. We were greeted by a male calling himself “Too Tall”. It costs US$25 for 2 sunbeds, an umbrella and an ice cold bucket of 6 beers. The bus back was great fun very crowded but the locals were really cheery and kept asking if we were all okay they seemed to have a great sense of responsibility to all the tourists. Fifth port was St Lucia. We had booked another island tour following online recommendations with Cosol Tours again the cost of US$75 each was not payable until end of the tour. This really was a full day tour, great value for money. We had a great time seeing the Pitons, volcano, waterfall, banana plantation, beach via speed boat. Several pit stops including a wonderful local feast for late breakfast, hot bread with cheese for late lunch, also stops with a mobile bar offering rum punch, beer and soft drinks. This really was a fun day out. Last port was Barbados. We went to the beach again with our dinning companions this time we took a taxi to The Boatyard for US$5 each. This was a really lively beach with the softest of sand. The entrance cost was US$15 each which included sunbed, umbrellas, a free rum punch, and taxi ride back to ship. This really was a party beach most of the crew were there. They had a rope swing from the pier into the sea – great fun. This was our only night in a port so after our final dinner our whole table decided to go out into town for the night. We went to The Harbour Lights which was an outside nightclub costing US$20 each which included all drinks until 3AM!!!! Again lots of crew could be spotted. Taxi was US$5 per person each way I haven’t really mentioned the food onboard we thought it was fantastic the service was always good and the choice excellent. If you didn’t like the evening choices you could always have steak or chicken breast. Drinks were inexpensive UK pub prices and P & O were happy for passengers to take drink on board at all ports to be consumed in your cabin. Our only criticism of the cruise was that the gym was not open until 0800 hours which meant there was a queue. This should have been at least 0700 bearing in mind the clocks went back several times whilst crossing the Atlantic. There were several machines out of order and if you went to use the machines whilst they had a yoga class you were not allowed to use half of the machines. Maybe they should find another room for the yoga classes. The Entertainment was good I liked the tribute Acts Neil Diamond, Queen and Tom Jones there were also some comedians one was not very good but the other 2 were great. Thank you P&O for a wonderful holiday your staff are amazing you should be proud and a big thank you to all the wonderful people we met and who made our holiday.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
If you've seen the TV series "Benidorm" you'll have some idea of what this ship is about! Not quite as down-market but getting there. Pre-cruise and our outward journey were excellently done. Boarding a coach at ... Read More
If you've seen the TV series "Benidorm" you'll have some idea of what this ship is about! Not quite as down-market but getting there. Pre-cruise and our outward journey were excellently done. Boarding a coach at M'cr Airport at 0630 wasn't too much fun but better than arriving 3 hours before a 0630 flight! Luggage was loaded by the driver and we didn't need to bother with it again until it arrived in our cabin. Journey was painless and registration/embarkation was quick and smooth. Went straight to the cabin (didn't know we were supposed to wait) and were quite content. Top marks to P&O so far. The ship is impressive but initially very confusing. Layout is nonsensical and hard to navigate. Found the MDR for lunch and excused poor service and mediocre food as down to embarkation day problems. Sadly, the quality of the food served up was consistently much lower than I expect on a cruise ship, the menus were unimaginative/repetitive and the service was patchy: some was good, occasionally very good but too often poor, with apparently demotivated and humour-free staff. Towards the end some seemed to loosen up somewhat and interact more with passengers. Ships Officers were stand-offish even during the Captains reception, standing in groups and refusing to mingle. On previous cruises the staff generally seemed to be much more communicative and happy to engage with the customers. The entertainment was a mixed bag. There is insufficient room in the main venues to accommodate the number of people wanting to see the shows so even the standing room was all taken quite some time before each show started. Quality of the entertainment was varied but I accept that my view is very subjective here. The main attraction (David Essex) met all my wife's expectations and even impressed me! For the first few sea days the weather was poor, resulting in severe overcrowding in the inside public areas - had we made a mistake booking a transatlantic cruise? Later sea days were spent largely on the open decks and whilst it was impossible to find a vacant sun lounger by the pools, there were some available on higher decks, if you got there early enough. The speciality restaurants (XVII, Sindhu and Glass House) each provided a very much higher standard of dining - great food, well prepared and cooked, very well served and much enjoyed. The excellence here highlighted the poor standards of the MDR. The ports visited were all different and as a first-timer in the Caribbean all exciting too. By Day 13 I was still confused by the ship's layout. Hard to figure out which way was forward or back, where to find venues or which way to turn when getting off the lifts, or even whether to go up or down. Somebody eventually explained - all the lifts face forwards, except those that don't. Disembarkation was equally as smooth as Day 1 - a great plus point for P&O and one for other cruise lines to aspire to. None of the hustle to get you off at dawn. Luggage was collected by midnight the previous day and we never saw it again until back at the airport arrivals hall. That's a great bonus. This was not one of the adults only ships but the children on board were few and all well-behaved and controlled. No obviously rowdy behaviour although we did hear a report of a fight in one laundrette! Drinks prices are UK pub equivalent with no added service charges so another win for P&O. The clientele on this trip was almost exclusively UK resident. Some were very happy at this. Personally I missed the chance to meet and discuss things with other nationalities and learn a little about the World beyond what is fed to us by Sky, BBC and British papers. Overall I think the cruise was good value for my money. My great disappointments were the food in the MDR, lack of space in the entertainment venues and utterly confusing layout of the ship (I was very obviously not the only baffled one). Would I do another transatlantic cruise? Yes, but only on an Autumn E to W one. Will I use P&O again? Possibly but would have to be an itinerary that I couldn't get on my preferred lines and at a price that is sufficiently low. Would I recommend it to others? Only if they are content to accept mediocrity. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
P & O bill themselves as britains number one cruise company if they want to keep this title they need to start thinking about there passengers. Although the cabins are kept clean by the hard working cabin stewards it is not matched ... Read More
P & O bill themselves as britains number one cruise company if they want to keep this title they need to start thinking about there passengers. Although the cabins are kept clean by the hard working cabin stewards it is not matched by the in cabin entertainment. Yes they offer and interactive TV system that has bbc & sky news and sky sports news the interactive tv programmes that you can watch is not well thought out yest they offer free films and what they calss as favourite tv shows that offers a variety of programmes however they could change these on a regular basis. For a cruise that had 8 days sailing the on deck entertainment could have been better the entertainment team did not do a lot during sea days in fact if it was not for the sail away parties or the daily table tennis competition you would not have known that there was an entertainment team onboard. The evening entertainment was not much better as they only tribute acts that they had was Phil Collins who was very good and a Cliff Richard tribute that is not everyones cup of tea. When it comes to disembarkation the reception staff seem to be unwilling to change the time of your disembarkation on unwilling to think about there passengers I contacted them snd explained that i had a train to catch from manchester to edinburgh that afternoon and asked if there was anyway that we could change the disembarkation time due to our time for the train I was told that this was not possible however we discovered that other passengers that were transferring from southampton to manchester airport were leaving the boat an hour earlier that us, this unwillingness to change our time resulted in us missing our train from manchester which resulted in us having to purchase new train tickets. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
THE START... We have just spent a fortnight crossing the Atlantic on Azura, visiting Punta Delgada in the Azores, St Martin, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados. What should have been an incredibly relaxing and fun holiday turned ... Read More
THE START... We have just spent a fortnight crossing the Atlantic on Azura, visiting Punta Delgada in the Azores, St Martin, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados. What should have been an incredibly relaxing and fun holiday turned out to be a rather strained and underwhelming affair. We began at Manchester Airport for our courtesy coach transfer to Southampton for boarding. Never in more than 40 years of travelling worldwide have I encountered a more disorganised and unwelcoming start to a holiday. Over 700 people were crammed into a portion of the coach station with no signage, no one on hand to offer guidance and just one person at the front of the queue ticking off names and assigning passengers - many of whom had already had a long journey - to 20 coaches. We had arrived at 7.10am expecting to be in plenty of time for our 8.30 departure. In the event, the single queue was so long that we only reached the front at 9.20am, boarding our coach at 9.40am for a departure at 9.50am. It was a total, absolute shambles. If P&O are attempting to exude an air of class and comfort, this could not have done more to destroy that image. My impression was compounded when I tried several times to phone the company's customer services and, despite promises to the contrary, they failed to ring me back. On reaching Southampton, there was a further hour to wait in the cramped and crowded cruise terminal before being called to the check-in desk. This entailed a further long queue. After check-in for the ship, there was another half-hour queue to clear passport control and board the ship. In all, the most stressful beginning to a holiday we've ever had - and we''ve been in some difficult airports in far-flung corners of the world. P & O like to market the fact that you "avoid airport queues" when you check in on their ships. That's a shame, because airport queues are so much shorter and easier. Never again. THE SHIP... The Azura itself is lovely. Huge, new (or, rather, just a couple of years old) and sparkly. Clean and well-appointed, it's a testament to the efficiency of the wonderful crew. Nothing was too much trouble for these folk, from the waiters and cabin stewards to all those you don't see. Most of the staff (at least, the ones you DO see) are Indian, and they do a really fantastic job. However, here the split between crew and management begins, because the ship is FAR too overcrowded. We sailed at full capacity and, while in theory there should be plenty of room for everyone, the truth is everyone wants to be in the same place at once. We chose the second fixed dinner sitting (8.30) as we like getting to know new people and didn't want to have to rush back from shore trips. By the time we'd finished dinner it was all but impossible to get seats in the Playhouse for shows or in the Malabar or Manhattan bars where cabarets were taking place. During the day, and once we reached sunny climes, there was just not enough deck space to accommodate everyone. Sunbeds were cheek-to-jowl and the 'towel' brigades were out in force, despite pleas from the crew. It was cheap 'n' cheesy in the extreme, and not something we wanted to be part of. Although we travelled out of the school holidays and there were only some 30 children on the trip, the four tiny pools were still packed and there was no way they could be used for real swimming - we didn't even attempt to try. THE FOOD... Food on the boat was generally very good. Fine dining it wasn't, but with the choice of sit-down restaurants, buffets, deck pizza/burger outlets and room service, it would be a very difficult person indeed who couldn't find something they liked at most hours of the day or night, and a type of service to suit. We didn't try any of the restaurants which incurred extra cost - Sindhu, Glasshouse, 17 - but as we were enjoying the company so much on our shared daily table we didn't feel any need to. Most of the food comprises British standards, from steak to roast beef, lamb chops and cod.... The buffets included curries and national dishes from other countries. All very focussed at British clients, though, all safe and involving little imagination. I guess this is what the punters want. I take my hat off to the guy who organises it all.... What a well-run operation. THE ENTERTAINMENT... The entertainment was pretty damn awful, to be honest. Cheesy bands and tribute acts, a theatre group with zero panache and embarrassing 'sailaways' with giveaway Union Jacks so everyone could flag-wave and sing 'Rule Britannia' as we left countries we stopped ruling a generation or more ago. Pretty desperate. It was loathsome. THE HARD SELL... Just vile. The whole ship is geared towards QVC-style hard-selling - bags, watches, jewellery, endless photographs, on-board sales talks, shore excursion sales, you name it. Boy, do they try and raise those profit margins. Apart from BBC world news and Sky news, there's nothing to watch on the TV in your cabin apart from people trying to sell you something. It's just awful. THE ITINERARY... Crossing the Atlantic by ship was something we wanted to do but, once done, it's not something we'll be repeating. Of course we chose the itinerary and P & O have no control over the weather, but for anyone thinking of doing the trip in January, I can tell you that it's very rough. Especially if you have a cabin near the front of the ship, as we did. We spent several days and nights being tossed from side to side, thinking we'd crashed into something in the middle of the night and clutching the sheets thinking we were about to be thrown out of bed. Very few hours' sleep. What fun - not! It was cold, extremely windy (force 9 gales) and miserable, too. On the seventh day of our trip - two days after reaching the Azores - people were actually able to start taking their outer clothes off and venturing onto the decks in temperatures approaching 20C. In other words, half of your hard-earned holiday gone before you see any sunshine. So think carefully if this itinerary's for you! We hoped it would be an adventure, and in some senses it was, but in truth there's very little to see. Not a bird, not a boat, not a plane in five days crossing the mid-Atlantic. Five dolphins at a great distance. I absolutely love the sea, and just a talk or two or more contact with the technical crew might have helped to bring the trip to life, but that wasn't on offer. All in all, it was a very artificial experience. I spoke to many pasengers on the trip, and didn't meet one who said they would repeat this itinerary. So judge for yourself. EXCURSIONS... Are very dear. Do your research before you go and book an independent tour or a taxi online. It'll save you a fortune and you'll get a far better, more personal service at half the price. Or, walk off the ship and book a tour at the port terminals. It'll still be cheaper and better. OVERALL... A clean, anonymous ship with a great crew, huge yet desperately overcrowded. If you want a home-from-home among fellow Brits with a bit of sun thrown in, and you have no real interest in experiencing other places or cultures, then this may be for you. If you're seeking peace and quiet, want discerning personal service and enjoy mixing with people of all cultures and discovering new places, then avoid at all costs. TIPS... If you've read this far, congratulations!! - You can't buy duty-free to drink on board, so take a 'bar' with you or buy a bottle or two at your first destination. - Soft drinks aren't free, either, apart from juice at breakfast time. Take a plastic bottle or two that you can fill at breakfast from the machines to drink through the day and use as mixers with your evening tipple. - The same goes for water. You have to pay for bottled water in your room at the ghastly price of £2 a pop, so take your own bottle and fill at any time from the machines. - Try and eat when others aren't. If you want a sit-down lunch in the 'formal' Oriental or Peninsular restaurants, go very early to avoid the queues. In the buffets, eat early or late, or you'll struggle to get a seat. - Sort out any important email communication before you leave home. Internet is VERY, VERY expensive and extremely unreliable with lots of drop-out as it's by satellite. A 'package' starts at £35 for just 100 minutes; pay-as-you-go is 50 pence a minute. Don't plan on doing any important business online here!!! - AVOID a cabin at the front of the ship. The metallic thud of huge waves crashing against the bow will drive you crazy and keep you awake all night. ...HOPE all this may be useful to someone making a decision about a holiday aboard Azura or with P & O. Whatever you do, happy travels!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We flew on a Thomas Cook plane from Manchester to Barbados and the flight was pretty good - chair back tv screens, free drinks and a reasonable meal. On arrival in Barbados we were bussed to the ship - a distance of around ten miles ... Read More
We flew on a Thomas Cook plane from Manchester to Barbados and the flight was pretty good - chair back tv screens, free drinks and a reasonable meal. On arrival in Barbados we were bussed to the ship - a distance of around ten miles through territory I wouldn't necessarily wish to return to on foot, but on arrival at the dockside, we joined a queue to get our photo taken for the on-board card you need to pay for items and get through security. The ship seemed enormous, and our superior balcony cabin was lovely, with the only downside being that the balcony is completely overlooked by all the decks above it. Two tv screens, full sized bath, coffee/tea facilities and fridge. The tv is nothing to get excited about however, as you get Sky News/Sky Sports/ BBC World News, one terrible channel full of wannabbee Madonnas in LA, and then a few channels flogging the P & O DVD, Tanzanite jewellery, and repeats of the lectures given in previous days. Most of the staff are Indian - our waiters (2), wine waiter, and steward were all from India. They gave us fabulous service. We went on the fixed dining (first sitting) and were allocated the "Peninsular" restaurant.The food was excellent and service superb. If you wanted to eat in the top deck buffets, at peak times it was pretty full and you might not find a free table. It was disappointing to find that cabins don't have internet access, and to use the computers in the library costs 50p a minute, which is horrendously expensive. The bar waiters are on commission, so they are constantly looking to get orders for drinks - prices are similar to British pubs, and you don't feel ripped off. The majority of the cruisers were in the 50+ age group, with very few children on board. On the 9 day sail back to Southampton, I did get somewhat bored with the same daily entertainment schedule, and the lack of variety - apart from one night when Eddie Large gave a talk, there were a series of lectures on a daily basis about Concorde, a few films were shown (some several times over the 13 nights), and quite a few dance lessons. They organise daily Bingo, which again, isn't cheap - £10 for 3 tickets covering five games. The idea is to build up a "snowball" for the last day, so that they sell hundreds of tickets, and presumably, make a mint. Some of the shows are very popular, but I preferred to watch a guitar duo called "The View" who appeared in "Brodies" pub type bar. Duty free shops sell limited ranges of goods, and prices of spirits can be extremely good value - £12 for two litre bottles of Teachers whisky seems good to me.On arrival at Southampton, we were efficiently directed onto a smart "Eavesway" coach taking us back to Manchester airport, and setting off at 9-10am, with a 45 minute stop at the Motorway Services, we arrived at T2 Manchester at 1-50pm - brilliant. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Having just returned from Azura's transatlantic cruise back to Southampton, I am wondering where the other Azura sails (which some of your reviewers have been on). I am sorry that some of them had poor holidays on the ship but our ... Read More
Having just returned from Azura's transatlantic cruise back to Southampton, I am wondering where the other Azura sails (which some of your reviewers have been on). I am sorry that some of them had poor holidays on the ship but our experience was very different. Of course, the flight out to Barbados was tiresome/tiring with an early start from Manchester, but it was adequate and it opened up the possibility of a transatlantic cruise with all of the sea days, which my wife and I love. Being used to Fred Olsen and Voyages of Discovery we were a little hesitant about booking on such a huge ship. We need not have worried. Check-in was speedy and efficient. O.K. The Shed is not air conditioned but fans were going and cool towels and drinks were on offer from P & O staff. The ship is delightful. The cabin (inside - because we spend almost no time there) was the best designed that we have ever had, and seemed relatively spacious. The whole ship seemed smart and well decorated and furnished. Staff were invariably friendly, cheerful and helpful. We dined in the Oriental restaurant almost every evening and despite the numbers being catered for, the food was invariably of a high standard. So much so that we could see no reason to pay cover charges for the "upmarket" restaurants on board. We ate in Verona on one evening - it is turned into a trattoria with excellent waiter service - at no extra cost. Food was excellent. only slight niggle was - we did not come across any information about this on board but came across it talking to other passengers. We used the buffet (Venezia) restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The food was varied, with a good choice, and of good quality. It was always hot and despite the number of passengers there was never a significant wait to serve yourself, nor was there any unseemly pushing around the counters. There were always enough trays, crockery and cutlery and we were never short of somewhere to sit. We found sunbeds were plentiful although some passengers were reserving beds early in the day. On the other hand, many passengers packed up and left them when they had other things to do. We packed up at lunchtime every day and never had a problem finding another sunbed after 2.30p.m.. There is a quiet sundeck forward (next to The Retreat). We went with the idea that we could book into The Retreat for sea days but there was absolutely no need. Entertainment was varied, but always of a high standard. The Headliners production shows, although choice of music was not always to our taste, were excellent and the theatre (because it is such a large ship?) allowed a high degree of technical enhancement that is not possible on smaller ships. With three performances each evening there was a chance for most passengers to see each of the Headliners' shows. We did not go on any tours organised by P & O but there are always plentiful taxis on the quayside to do your own thing at much cheaper prices. Must agree with a previous reviewer - the port talks did not include much information for independent travellers - they were slanted towards selling P & O tours. Duty Free alcohol on board is cheap and you can keep it (and drink it) in your cabin during the cruise - unlike some cruise lines. Looking at some of the previous reviews we were apprehensive about going on Azura but we got such a good deal it seemed worth taking the chance. Thank goodness we did. We had a fabulous cruise and to cap it all the weather was superb, and the crossing was the smoothest ever, out of 5 or 6 transatlantic crossings. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Firstly let me say,That I prefer Ventura To Azura,just slight differences which sway me slightly to this preference,but no major dislikes with Azura. Firstly,flight from Manchester on Sat,was comfortable,with complimentary drinks,so well ... Read More
Firstly let me say,That I prefer Ventura To Azura,just slight differences which sway me slightly to this preference,but no major dislikes with Azura. Firstly,flight from Manchester on Sat,was comfortable,with complimentary drinks,so well done Thomas cook,the start of a holiday is important and the flight is part of it. Transfers to port were swift,and although there was an issue, in that my cabin was not ready,due to a flight delay,it was not the end of the world. My cabin on C Deck was a balcony cabin that had been adapted for disabled use.It had a large balcony and huge wet-room/bathroom ,this was rigorously cleaned by our steward throughout our stay.C Deck seemed to have bigger balconies. Drinks are well priced,about the same as most pubs,and all bars were well looked after and staff attentive.Our fav bar was Glasshouse,what a revelation for wine lovers,a great concept,which i'm told is being introduced to Ventura when in refit, Food in general was good,not as good as ventura in my opinion but still of a high standard in most cases.Sindu is a must,the food was brilliant. Entertainment good,headliners shows were really good,and most of the singers were good,with the odd exception. Sea days were relaxing,but 9 days should of resulted in a little more than bingo,quiz and guest speakers.Coach pick up was poorly managed we got back to Manchester at 4pm unlike a previous reviewer who fared a little better. Totally enjoyable,although based on my Previous Ventura cruise last year,standards have slightly slipped. In closing,I am not a seasoned cruiser,and feel that i totally got good value for money.You can take/or buy alcohol on board,but prices are not designed to clean you out. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Having cruised on Ventura we decided, my disabled son, myself and a friend, to give Azura the once over. Before you go P&O send a brochure for wheelchair users about suitable excursions, although personally we did not use it. We ... Read More
Having cruised on Ventura we decided, my disabled son, myself and a friend, to give Azura the once over. Before you go P&O send a brochure for wheelchair users about suitable excursions, although personally we did not use it. We traveled to Southampton by car arriving at the designated time. As soon as we entered the cruise terminal P&O staff escorted us to a small waiting area for wheelchair passengers. We were soon processed and on board. Our cabin was ready so after dropping some of our bags there we made our way to the buffet for lunch. Our stateroom was roomy and spotless the wet-room well equipped and spacious. The access to the balcony is a bit weird with a drop down ramp (the same as Ventura)so care is needed to make sure the door is fully open and the ramp in the down position before venturing out! Our cabin steward soon introduced herself. During the cruise she was helpful and courteous. When we needed to have the upper bunk mattress on the floor she was a bit thrown but after making a special note of our request carried on as normal As we had 8 days at sea there were things going on all over the ship. Our travelling companion was keen to brush up on her bridge skills so went along to the classes for improver's, she found the tuition excellent and even won one of the afternoon games. This left my son and I to do our own thing, which is I think the real advantage of being on a cruise. There were quizzes and talks, films. port presentations etc. besides the outdoor activities (when the weather permitted) Not sure the Seascreen is worth losing the retracting roof for, not much good in wet weather or in daylight. The staff were beyond reproach from the Captain to the wheelchair assistants on the gangways, nothing was too much trouble. One of the main reasons we go with P& O is the service they provide from the time you get to your departure point until you arrive back home. If you are wheelchair confined all the help is there (not personal care of course)On the flight home the crew of the 'plane were just as helpful. The entertainment on board is variable, but generally good, especially the resident Headliners who were professional and energetic. Entertainment is very personal but there is something for everyone at some time. We chose Freedom dining, the choice of food was excellent although we did notice the 'always there' options had disappeared. The waiting staff were always willing to help. When my son ordered something he discovered he did not like they changed it for an alternative. At other times we ate in the Peninsular restaurant for lunch or the buffet, the food was always first class. I can honestly say we never had any problem with finding a seat. At the end of our cruise we waited on board until our flight was called, another reason for going with P & O , on other lines you have to leave the ship and wait around all day for your flight. Overall although there are ups and downs (literally!) P & O are tops for us. The ship layout can be confusing but there are signs all over the place to help in getting around, there is even a wheelchair lift to get to deck 17. Our only problem with Azura is with the changes to deck 17 and the Oasis pool. on Ventura these spaces are open to everyone not just the 40 who pay £20 a day for the Retreat. As this is the adult only pool and the Jacuzzis have fewer steps my son spent most of his time there when on Ventura. The covered shaded area on deck 17 is taken up with the Retreat and covered cabanas for spa treatments, what a waste as the views from there are superb and the shade very welcome in the Caribbean. For this reason we will not be going on Azura again, as Ventura and Azura are the only P&O ships with adapted cabins for more than 2 people we will have to go where Ventura goes! I would agree that the behavior of the minority is appalling, bad language litter, smoking where they please and general disregard for other passengers. No one seems willing to ask these people to comply. Is P&O in danger of going downmarket? Sadly I think it is Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Having seen and been on board the Azura for a day visit while in Southampton last June, there was something about this ship that attracted me to it. I vowed to have a cruise on her at some time in the future. In March 2011, I joined her ... Read More
Having seen and been on board the Azura for a day visit while in Southampton last June, there was something about this ship that attracted me to it. I vowed to have a cruise on her at some time in the future. In March 2011, I joined her on her transatlantic voyage from Barbados to Southampton.Our charter flight, arranged by P&O Cruises took off more or less on time at 8.25am (4.25am Barbados time) it was comfortable with an attentive crew. About 90 minutes into the flight, the main meal was served (6.00am Barbados time) I feel that the meal served was not appropriate for the time of day and a hot breakfast would have been more suited.On arrival at Barbados, coaches met us on the tarmac and conveyed us directly to the ship. The baggage was transferred directly from the aeroplane to the ship. This is one area of their service where P&O really excel. Check-in at the pier was fast, courteous and professional.The ship itself is beautiful, the furnishings the dEcor - a mixture of modern and traditional - easy to get around and spotlessly clean. I immediately felt at home.My cabin too was spacious, well furnished, and comfortable and kept in tip top condition by a most friendly and conscientious cabin steward.The food in the main restaurants and buffet was excellent, with plenty of choice, well presented and professionally served. So good was the food in the main-stream restaurants that I didn't even bother to explore any of the other alternative dining facilities.Special diets are taken care of with care and attention and nothing was too much trouble with staff providing special requests in this regard.The entertainment on board, along with the guest lecturers were mostly of an extremely high standard. The Highlight of the evening entertainment was the outstanding performances given by the Headliners - The on-board singers and dancers. Never before have I seen such talented performers.The very approachable Cruise Director and her friendly enthusiastic team were highly visible around the ship day and night - always well dressed and eager to provide information and to assist with queries.On a trans-Atlantic journey such as this, there are quite a few days at sea and when the weather is good, deck space and sun loungers are at a premium especially around the pool areas. Whilst there is a policy concerning the reservation of sun-loungers, this is not enforced.Bar prices, shore excursions, and items for sale in the shops were reasonably priced. Internet access and photographs on board were expensive.As a smoker, I appreciated the smoke-free environment inside the ship. However, staff in the Pursers Office and those working on the decks are at odds with each other as to where the designated smoking areas on board actually are. There is also a lack of ash trays on the promenade deck.Having sailed on Ventura, and indeed I enjoyed my cruise on that ship, I can quite honestly and without reservation say that my experience on-board Azura was superior in all aspects. Azura is a ship that will suit everyone and surely must be the pride in the fleet for P&O Cruises. One of my best cruises - ever.I most certainly will be back on-board the Azura and soon. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Being unable to get out preferred holiday to Cuba, the agents tempted us with a cruise. At less than half what the Cuba holiday would cost, we thought what have we got to lose.From check-in at Liverpool to embarkation in Barbados, ... Read More
Being unable to get out preferred holiday to Cuba, the agents tempted us with a cruise. At less than half what the Cuba holiday would cost, we thought what have we got to lose.From check-in at Liverpool to embarkation in Barbados, everythinh went like clockwork. The whole of the Thomson plane was laid out for premier seating,i.e. 2+3+2 across with p[lenty of legroom;films,games and TV shows were available on the in-seat TV, and with complimentary food and bar, what was not to like?No doubt familiar to regulars, leaving the plane and getting straight onto a bus, with cases being delivered to your cabin, took a lot of the hassle out of flying.Our cabin was as expected, sub Travelodge, but with everything that you needed.It was kept immaculate and tidy by our busy steward, Abdul. We were allocated to the Peninsular Restaurant, first sitting. The quality of food and the silver service was excellent; 6 courses (if you could manage them all), with at least 4 choices for each course. A good selection of wine was available from £10/11 to £16 a bottle.With the quality of food available, we did not see the need to pay the small supplement for select dining, but did try the Indian (Sindhu) for lunch, which was well worth the small(£5) cover charge. The buffet style restaurants which are available 24/7, had good quality, but the ambience was not up to the club dining. The amount of food available, meant that we did not try the afternoon tea nor the midnight snacks.The choice of entertainment was such that you could not fit in everything that you wanted to see, even when the shows/entertainers had 2 or 3 shows a night. The highlight for us was the Playhouse, whose production standards and ability was equal to any West End show. They did 9 different shows over the 2 weeks, with 3 shows a night. Day time activities ranged from Bridge to Bingo, historical talks to horse racing, and Art and Dance classes.Being first time cruisers, we booked our Island tours with P&O. We may have been able to do it cheaper ourselves, but we were happy with the quality provided. Our favourite island was St. Maartens, particularly the French side.We were pleasantly surprised at the prices of drinks in the bars and restaurants, and even with room service we could buy a litre of Baileys for £12. We could even bring drinks on-board, which I believe is almost unique to P&O. Negatives:- Too many toilets were out of order, which created queues, particularly of an evening when everybody was about. It was too cold to sit for 2 hours at the out door cinema on the top deck.Since we came back, we have been haunting our travel agent, to book another cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Azura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness & Recreation 5.0 N/A
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.0
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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