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1 P&O Cruises Azura Cruise Reviews for Spring Break Cruises to Norwegian Fjords from Southampton

Well, we have been home for a week now so time to look back on our 7 night Norwegian Fjord Cruise on Azura. By way of background, just to say that we travelled as a 50 something couple, with no children. We like to do our own thing on ... Read More
Well, we have been home for a week now so time to look back on our 7 night Norwegian Fjord Cruise on Azura. By way of background, just to say that we travelled as a 50 something couple, with no children. We like to do our own thing on cruises and we don’t tend to go to the theatre for the evening shows as they generally don’t interest us. We are happier enjoying a nice meal and a cocktail or 2 with quiet music. We tend to cruise for a mix of the ship and the location, to explore new places. We always like a nice balcony – though we prefer a mix of sun and shade. We don’t tend to bother too much with the day time activities as we are usually out and about. This was our first cruise on Azura and having spent 17 nights on Ventura (a ship we didn’t particularly enjoy) we were a little concerned about the bad press that Azura was getting before we left. We knew that she was due for a refurbishment, so were expecting the worse. Well, we couldn’t have been more wrong. We had an absolutely fabulous time! From the moment we stepped on to our coach transfer to the moment we stepped off it again the service was faultless. First and foremost the best part of this cruise was the crew. Apart from 2 (who stood out like a sore thumb) the entire crew were friendly, professional, proficient and just seemed so happy to be doing what they were doing. We wrote 6 outstanding comment cards at the end but it could have been more. The Captain seemed pleasant and was seen out and about the ship chatting with passengers and crew. Service was equally good in all bars, in the buffet restaurant and in Sindhus (thank you Yogesh). The Glass House wasn’t quite as good, but was not bad…. if that makes sense. Well done to all of them – they were a credit to the company. The cabin. On Ventura we had had cabin D114 – a superior cabin – and we really did not like it at all. At the recommendation of other Cruise Critic members we opted for aft cabin B749 on Azura – one of the aft balcony cabins that is on the ‘corner’ of the ship. Though the cabin décor was looking tired it was spotlessly clean and the balcony was wonderful. It was completely covered and private. As the cabin was at the end of a small corridor it was very quiet. It was next to a crew door but this never caused a problem. We did feel some vibration as we sailed and when docking there was sometimes a lot of vibration, but this has been the same on all other ships we have been on in aft cabins. We have booked a cruise on Ventura (to give her another try) and have booked this cabin again on her. The cabin steward, Karol was excellent. The food was a mixed bag. On our first night we ate at Sindhus and it was an excellent meal and wonderful way to start the cruise. Loved the ambience of this restaurant and we had a lovely table for 2. The food was very good and they catered well for me as I do not particularly like spicy food. We also ate at the Glass House. Funnily enough, though this had been the only part of Ventura we had really liked we did not find the quality of the food in the Glass House on Azura as good. It wasn’t bad, just didn’t seem to have the ‘wow’ factor and I am not sure we would have eaten there again. The food in the buffet area seemed good. We only ate there for breakfast once and it was good. Other times we had cabin service and this was always punctual and the orders correct. The food that came out at 3pm in the buffet was very good and to us there was a really good variety. We tended to go there after excursions and there were always a good selection of finger roll sandwiches, cakes, cold meats, salads and hot foods. We found the service in the Main Dining Room to be about the best we have had a for a number of cruises – including Celebrity. The Podium Manager, Amit, at our freedom dining restaurant, The Peninsular restaurant was brilliant and so accommodating. If we asked for a specific area he always accommodated this request, ok we had to wait but we were happy to do this and it helped us to develop a good relationship with the waiters in that area. There were some lovely tables for 2 in some parts of the restaurants and this made a massive difference to the horrid long padded seating area that we disliked so much on Ventura. Thanks go to our Waiter, Rupesh for excellent service. Our Wine waiter on this cruise was named D and I have to say we think he is probably about the best Wine Waiter we have ever had. Friendly, polite, knowledgeable and he always remembered what we wanted. Like our waiters he was always happy to take the time to ask about our day and show an interest in what we were doing. Thank you Dolreich. The quality of the wines we had was excellent and the price at an average of £20 per bottle was excellent. Anyone who complains about the cost of drinks on P&O probably hasn’t been on an American cruise line! On our last day we did a Wine Tasting with the lovely Maria and found that to be excellent value for money at £10 per person. We had the chance to taste 5 different wines and this was accompanied by a sizeable selection of canapes. Now the not so good bit re the food. In many ways the food in the Main Dining Room was good – an excellent choice, nice menus (excellent ones on the formal nights). Personally, we found that it lacked seasoning. Do they not use salt when cooking at all? I wouldn’t say it was bad, but not the best we have had on P&O by a long way. The ship itself. We much preferred the layout to that of Ventura, particularly the open decks. The 2nd outdoor pool area if MUCH better than the covered one on Ventura and for some reason we just loved walking around her decks. It really did not feel like the same ship at all ! I can imagine that it would be even busier in the Summer months, but nicely thought out. Surprisingly, we were impressed that the sea screen was not too intrusive, and we may have been converted to having one on a cruise ship! One thing we were disappointed about is that, unlike Ventura, passengers are not allowed to go on the promenade area right at the front of the ship. Before we went on the cruise we had read reports that there was a strange smell on the promenade deck mid ships. Just to confirm that these reports are right and we had no idea what it was. It didn’t spoil things too much though, but I would have expected them to look in to it. The musicians on the ship were of good quality. On the last night there was a duet – a young couple – who were excellent. Just a shame we had only discovered them then. Other vocalists were good and keyboard players etc of a high standard. The formal nights were well observed and to us they are always that extra bit special. Other major pluses for the cruise – the location and weather We had never been to the Fjords before and were expecting to take our snow boots, hats, gloves and scarves. How wrong we were! It was the Easter weekend and the weather was exceptionally warm. I think we left Southampton at 25 degrees and beautiful blue skies. Well this weather followed us up the North Sea and around Norway for more or less the whole week. Even our worst day had blue skies and apart from the last 5 hours of the cruise (as we approached Southampton) the sea was like a mill pond. The Fjords were just beautiful with the ports of call being Stavanger, Olden, Alesund and Bergen. Out of all of them we loved Olden and wished that there had been another port where we had sailed up a fjord rather than being a more coastal port. The excursions we did with P&O varied and ranged from good to outstanding. The scenery was stunning wherever we went and, yes the weather made a massive difference to the whole cruise experience. To be in Norway feeling like you were in the Mediterranean in June certainly brightens the mood and there were a lot of very happy cruisers enjoying every second of the sun and scenery. I suppose those who dislike Azura would say that with the sort of ‘fluke’ weather we had and the location anyone would have been happy in a rowing boat. I can see their point, but Azura was so much more, we loved our time on board and would return in a heartbeat before or after her refurbishment. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Azura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 3.0 3.1
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.8

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