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790 P&O Cruises Azura Cruise Reviews

Everything had come together well. The cruise had almost chosen itself. All criteria had been met and the holiday booked. Departure from Southampton to facilitate a quick and relaxed departure,check. Reasonable price to accommodate our ... Read More
Everything had come together well. The cruise had almost chosen itself. All criteria had been met and the holiday booked. Departure from Southampton to facilitate a quick and relaxed departure,check. Reasonable price to accommodate our bank balance, check. Destination, The Baltic States, for culture, history and adventure including the date of our 20th wedding anniversary, check. And lastly, P and O's sparkly new ship, Azura, for a stylish, contemporary and yet still quite traditional floating hotel from which to venture into each port and return to each day for fine dining and entertainment, check. After traveling the short distance from Petersfield to Southampton by limousine, (organised as a surprise by my husband!) we negotiated embarkation swiftly and arrived on board ready to find our cabin and explore the ship. From this moment on I started to experience the rather odd sensation of hearing the many "voices" speaking words of wisdom that I had discovered on the cruise critic forums. "Will we find our luggage awaiting us in the cabin? Should do. Should we unpack first? No, we might miss the "sailaway". Don't forget, the champagne will not be free. Try the buffet for a light lunch. Here's the Verona, it changes from buffet to Italian Trattoria in the evenings. Make sure you book those tables in XVII and Sindhu and check out when Olly Smith will be speaking and doing the wine tasting...yum! Now it is time to unpack and hang that shoe holder over the bathroom door, (snipping two little holes for the robe hooks) and stow away all those troublesome toiletries that might clutter up your bathroom." Well, so far so good! Thanks to the "voices" I often felt prepared for the many new things to experience while cruising and yet still had the delight of learning other things for ourselves by trial and error. I did however leave behind the duct tape and bungee cord suggested by many "voices" after much teasing from friends and family and no, we didn't need them! It was fun and we soon relaxed into the rhythm of port days/sea days, morning, noon and night. Our inside stateroom (B747) was compact but beautifully formed. The open wardrobe space, cupboards, drawers and under-bed storage were more than we needed and I had SERIOUSLY over packed, despite the "voices" telling me to take less clothing and more money! I loved the shower and the bathroom was fine. We liked the decor, the bed was comfy, the pillows quite thick so I only needed one and the interactive TV was very useful to check our on-board spending and to watch all kinds of TV programmes and films (103 choices!)when ever we wanted. We were surprised to find a couple of passengers moaning about the TV on day 12 of the cruise saying they thought the choice of viewing was poor. It turned out they had not used the TV choices and had only tuned in to the 7 live channels which included CBeebies, documentary, lifestyle, history and news channels. We also met someone who didn't know they had a fridge!! Of course we suffered a little stateroom envy when we saw some new friends' balcony stateroom but we constantly reminded ourselves of how much more money we had to spend on other things. The "voices" had warned me that we may well come across people who had cruised so much before that they had become very picky, opinionated and not reticent in sharing their feelings.Indeed, some of the "voices" themselves were like this and their opinions are valid while on land and they can be taken into account when making choices but best ignored if they find their way onto your dining table! I know that as first-time cruisers we have nothing to compare our experiences with but I hope, if we have the good fortune to cruise again, we will stay positive and upbeat once on-board. Yes, the knives are oddly balanced, yes, Azura is a very big ship (duh, read the brochure?) and yes the promenade deck does not go right around the ship but at least you won't get dizzy walking in one direction the whole time!! We very quickly found our favourite places...The Planet bar with it's HD TV screens showing worldwide panoramic views in real-time for pre-dinner drinks;up on deck to read, sunbathe, doze and relax in the afternoons; Brodies for a game of pool or scrabble and the Karmala room (sadly windowless) for the 11pm quiz. All this makes us sound like we shun exercise but to be honest this holiday was, for us, about physical as well as mental rest. I regret not getting to try shuffleboard and quoits but will save that for the next cruise! So, onto one of the highlights of the cruise, the dining experience. We had booked second sitting (20.30hrs) and a table for eight. I knew, of course, that if we wanted to enjoy the fantastic views during the "sailaways" and not be in a rush after getting back from shore excursions this would be the best time for us. We found ourselves allocated to The Oriental and a table for... two. Initially I wanted to change this as I had wanted to meet and get to know people but we gave it a few days and in the end found we preferred the option of dining alone at times as at breakfast, afternoon tea and sometimes even in the buffet we shared tables. We did get to know some lovely people whom we met for drinks or dinner at other venues around the ship. We enjoyed all the select dining on offer both for lunch and dinner and the cover charges (the "voices" had said £20 for XVIII and £15 for Sindhu) we thought were very good value for the superb quality. The activities on-board were quite varied, we tried a few quizzes, took part in Cupid's Couples (and won!) learned how to play Blackjack and that we were not very good at it! We tried karaoke and joined the choir called Azura vocalists. We rehearsed on sea days and performed a concert in the atrium on the last evening, great fun! We watched several films on the Seascreen (outdoor cinema) but had to wrap up warmly for the evening shows as the Baltic weather was nice and warm in the daytime but a bit chilly later (blankets were provided). The cruisers to warmer climes will enjoy this feature more. Much was made of the lack of a covered pool but again, the warmer weather will sort that omission out. We are not great dancers but we saw dancing in several venues around the ship.I thought the choice of shops was varied and attractive to browse in but I bought all our gifts ashore. The much vaunted Spa was too expensive for us. We had planned to give the Retreat a try for a half day but never got around to it. It looked lovely from afar but mostly underused. Again, maybe in the Med or Caribbean it will get more patronage. The entertainment was a little patchy. We enjoyed the Headliners Theatre Company as we like musical theatre but we are not fond of tribute acts and none of the speakers were appropriate to our taste or indeed age group. We were among the youngest on board (43 and 50!!!) but we enjoyed Rebecca Storm, Olly Smith and a couple of the comedians. Greg Bentinck was a superb piano player and singer with a dry wit and much cheery banter, he was also the choir's pianist. The daily Horizon newspaper was very informative and clear and with my highlighter pen at the ready each evening (thanks "voices"!) I was able to pick out possible events of interest to us for the next day. There were only 45 children on board for our cruise but we occasionally saw them around the ship and they all seemed to be having a great time with the very enthusiastic youth team. I had a quick peek at the children's tea menu and it would have suited our daughters down to the ground. Apparently the stateroom phones could be used as a baby alarm for parents who wanted to leave older children sleeping or you could use the night nursery. Now, how about the Ports of call? Wonderful and so refreshing to be visiting a part of Europe we had never been to before. I had spent much time on Cruise Critic's Baltic forum and researched my socks off! What did I learn once ashore? That my husband does not like to be too organised and has less stamina for sight seeing than I bargained for. I had so much planned, (maps, walks, glass galleries etc.) but had forgotten that my husband was physically drained and although a sprightly 43 years old (and a Judo black belt) really needed to rest as well as explore. We took two ship's tours in Stockholm and Oslo, a two day private tour of St. Petersberg (SPB) with Alla tours as a result of advice from the "voices" and the rest we managed ourselves. I was able to cancel one trip while on board (with 48hrs notice) as we had done so much in SPB that we gave Helsinki, our fifth port day in a row, a miss. We learned that we would rather do one thing really well, i.e. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm than try to see many things quickly. We will know next time how we like to do things and plan accordingly.The highlight for us was SPB and the eight other folk on our trip quickly became friends during a meet and greet over afternoon tea and then later during our private tour which was a fantastic success. Each day ashore we would return "home" to Azura and rest, eat well and relax. The service in the bars and restaurants was always exemplary and our cabin steward, Joseph was excellent.I found the ship's crew to be friendly and approachable although we never saw the captain as I believe his wife was unwell. Disembarkation was a breeze and we were off the ship forty minutes ahead of schedule and on our way home. I will know in future how much and what to pack and we will not have to take four suitcases ever again! With a laundry on-board it was very easy to do a quick couple of loads of casual clothing and wear some of the formal clothing twice, no one would notice or care.Much easier! In summary, we had a wonderful time and were able to rest and recharge our energies which was exactly what we had wanted from the experience. We enjoyed being on our own for the first time for years and were pleased to discover that we still like to spend time together! Celebrating our anniversary in this way was perfect. If we cruise again we would probably be taking our teenage daughters with us and we will then look for a ship offering different facilities and activities to suit all of us. That is where research and a good trawl through the internet will hopefully be of benefit. Thanks to Cruise Critic, we got it right this time around! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Well we tried P&O about 4 years ago - Oceana - not inpressed. Having booked a family suite on RCs Indepence of the seas for the end of the year, we were at a loose end , so we decided to book a cruise from Southampton it inculded ... Read More
Well we tried P&O about 4 years ago - Oceana - not inpressed. Having booked a family suite on RCs Indepence of the seas for the end of the year, we were at a loose end , so we decided to book a cruise from Southampton it inculded Ireland, France and Spain. Our hope was that it would be better than Oceana. saddly not. For five days we had sewerage coming out of the WC in our cabin . We complained to the desk - they came to the cabin 4 times said they had fixed it. Not so - we had to eventually go to purser's desk and cause a major fuss asking to speak to the executive purser - told he was in a meeting until 5pm - the time was then 12pm . well we went to a bar and dicovered him there. When we spoke to him he was totally unhelpful - just denied every think 'No probs on the ship' . When we told him we had met others with the same prob (giving him their cabin number-names) he ran away saying he would get back to us - he did not. Later in the evening a purser found us saying they would try and sort it. It took another 3 days. we asked for compensation we got £330 which in no way really compensated us, having previously asked for them to fly us home.As people who do cruises a lot we always try the specialty restaurants well the Indian was not as good as a sainsburys take away box. 17 is ok but expensive compared to restaurnts on other ships. Our conclusions are that the ship is undermanned, the public areas far too small. The ships ok if you should want Butlins on sea. As for the so-called Executive purser - he is unhelpful , will admit to nothing, blindly supports his staff and we hope we never have to the displeasure of meeting him again. We feel that this is a truthful account of our time on Azura and are very saddened to write this account having never done the like before Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Boarding: Took approx 30 mins from leaving the car with CPS to boarding the ship. Smooth and well organised. Cabins: We had 2 Deluxe Balcony Cabins, mid ship on A Deck. First impressions were of a clean, conservatively decorated cabin ... Read More
Boarding: Took approx 30 mins from leaving the car with CPS to boarding the ship. Smooth and well organised. Cabins: We had 2 Deluxe Balcony Cabins, mid ship on A Deck. First impressions were of a clean, conservatively decorated cabin with a couple of touches of colour in the cushions and bed runner. The walk in wardrobe does make the cabin feel smaller but will be appreciated by those with longer dresses and those who prefer a little more privacy when getting dressed. No sofa, just two chairs. Good interactive TV with around 7 channels plus dozens of on demand TV shows and films most of which were free. You can order room service using the TV and can check the restaurant menus in advance to influence where you may wish to eat which was helpful. Balcony was small but functional with two reclining chairs, a table and a footstool. As has been debated many times, Balconies on C deck are deeper however its a toss up between the extra depth and the loss of privacy given that there are three decks above who can look down on you. The Riviera deck above from mid ships to aft has an overhang which will limit sun for most of the day. This overhang actually impacts on A and B decks to some extent too meaning the sun has to be lower in the sky to catch the rays from your balcony. Our cabin Steward was excellent, very friendly and kept the cabin immaculate. We had an annoying creaking noise from the ceiling and after the third night spoke to reception who sent a maintenance chappie that hacked away at the wood trim that adjoined the ceiling. It solved the problem but I'm not sure P&O would be too happy with the damage he caused to the wood trim in doing so. Bathroom was compact but perfectly usable. Some complained about this but how long do you spend in the bathroom? Food: We had breakfast mainly in the buffet. An excellent choice of hot and cold food, and no traffic jams in accessing the buffet. Yes you had to look for a table but we could usually find a table, especially in the Verona Buffet toward the rear. We tried the sit down breakfast in the Oriental Restaurant which again was fine but we preferred the convenience, choice and speed, of the self service. The buffet at lunchtime was a bit disappointing. Food was a bit repetitive and at times canteen like. We tried the pizza place by the pool deck and thought the Pizzas were excellent. Freshly cooked and with thin and crisp bases. The hot dog and burger outlet served a limited range of food but again this was good although their tendency to handle everything by hand including grabbing handfuls of fries to plate up after just preparing beef, chicken and prawn wraps with the same hands was a bit off putting and certainly not veggie friendly. We chose freedom dining for our evening meals having used RCI's version of this the year before and enjoyed the flexibility. If you are prepared to share a table then there appeared to be no waiting but if you wanted a table to yourselves then this could incur a wait especially as the Playhouse shows ended. We were given a buzzer on 3 out of 10 nights and had to wait no longer than 10 minutes before a table for four came available. It's a shame you cannot reserve a time each day as on RCI but not a major issue. The choice was ok but did become a little repetitive with dishes whose name changed but really they were the same core meals. Lots of Beef, Pork and Lamb, some fish and one choice for Veggies in each course although nowhere on the ship are desserts marked up as suitable for vegetarians. Ice cream in the main dining room was said to be veggie but not that in the Verona Trattoria which seems a little strange. One of us was veggie and they found the vegetarian dishes to be rather poor and always on the small side. Nice to have lots of fresh vegetables but more salads would have been appreciated. I have to mention the soups. After a week we gave up ordering them. We all like soup but the ones we had were disappointing including on one night one which was so salty none of us could get past the first spoonful. However overall we always walked out of the dining room full. I have to mention the service. Now we can only compare this with RCI but we were not overly impressed. Yes it was functional but it varied considerably. It was as though the waiters were under pressure to turn tables so didn't have time to build any rapport. On one night we went from sitting down to having coffee in 45 minutes which was very rushed. On another night it took 1 hour 50 to complete our meal. I'm not saying that the service was bad, it just wasn't done with any flair. On RCI the waiters made recommendations and if you didn't finish a plate they were genuinely concerned and desperate to get you something else that would suit you. On Azura they just took the plate away. We often sat down to butter dishes that were empty and missing glasses and trying to get a second bread roll often meant several minutes of trying to get someone's attention. A couple of times we were seated next to a waiter station and they just appeared fed up. I hope it's not the case but we felt as though the waiters know they are getting their tips so don't try too hard. Perhaps in Club dining the experience may be different but on RCI we always were made to feel special in the main dining room. Speciality Restaurants: We tried them all and I've commented elsewhere on this forum about them so will just say that we were not impressed with Sindhu or Seventeen. Portions in Sindhu were small and under-flavoured and our meal in Seventeen took an eternity from start to finish (almost 2 hrs 30 mins from sitting down to leaving). Also our well done lamb came pink and our new potatoes were hard. My duck terrine was horrible and had a strip of raw duck through the centre surrounded by duck fat. Obviously everyone's experience is subjective but we were disappointed with both of these venues and thought they offered more style than substance. However, many raved about them so each to their own. Sindhu was usually very quiet but we had to book 4 days in advance for seventeen. We liked the Glass House. It's a lovely venue for just sitting and having a drink and the bistro type food is excellent and good value. This wasn't very busy as I think many preferred the venues with live music but we thought it was a superb space. The Verona Buffet turns into an Italian with waiter service in the evenings. You don't book and we tried it twice and had lovely meals. Plentiful and well prepared and as the cruise progressed this got very busy as more people discovered it. We had a room service breakfast for our sail into Venice and this was pretty good. Public Rooms: The atrium isn't huge and doesn't have a wow factor but it serves well as the hub of the ship and was never overwhelmingly busy but after experiencing RCIs Royal Promenade this was more like a hotel foyer. The bars on board are excellent, from Brodies pub to the cabaret bar Manhattan. All were a good size and very nicely decorated. Drink prices are reasonable and the choice is wide. Service in the bars was superb. The main dining room has 84 different bottles of wine to choose from! The layout of the ship isn't very user friendly and you did need to consult the maps to work out how to get to a certain area. For instance to get from the Planet bar to Reception you had to take a lift down to Deck 7, walk through this deck to the Atrium and then take another lift down to Deck 6. Deck 7 is the only Deck you can walk through although outside on this deck you cannot circle the ship entirely as the front section is for crew only. There isn't a natural flow to the ship however I have to say it swallows its passengers very well. On cloudy sea days you could always find somewhere to sit and the ship never felt overly busy perhaps because the public rooms are so disparate. This is despite the ship being full. Similarly up on deck you cannot get from fore to aft without a fair bit of up and downing. In fact there are rather a lot of steps to navigate the different levels from the Lido Deck up to the Sports Deck and the different levels around the Seascreen. However again because there were so many different areas we could always find somewhere to rest even on the hottest days. We didn't try the retreat. It never looked very busy, possibly because only a handful of the beds are in the sun, the rest sit under the big canopy to the front. I'm not a fan of having 'upgrade' areas like this. Surely it would be better to have this part of the ship for the benefit of everyone as on Ventura rather than limit it for the enjoyment of a small minority who are prepared to pay for it? We used the gym a lot and it is well laid out. We didn't use the Spa for any treatments but thought them very expensive. Entertainment: The Entertainment team worked extremely hard and the program of activities was very full. Again it's personal taste but we didn't enjoy the evening entertainment in the Playhouse. The Playhouse itself is a bit bland and lacking in warmth and the stage looks small in proportion to the seating area. We saw 2 Headliners shows but they were not to our taste. Many seemed to love them but we found them to be clichEd. The one featuring west end musicals was a let down as they chose lesser known songs from the featured shows. Strange when they have so much well known material to choose from-maybe a royalty issue? We didn't bother going to any more of their shows after this. If the headliners were not on it generally seemed to be different comedians and there is a lot of repetition with acts being on for 2 nights with a few days in between. The Seascreen was a novel touch and we did watch a couple of films whilst enjoying the sun but the films were repeated too often and you needed to be fairly brave to endure an evening showing in the Med in May. Ports of Call: We enjoyed the ports we visited, especially Venice, and if you are booking a balcony then go for one on the Starboard side as the sail into Venice at 7am is simply stunning. Where a shuttlebus was required there was no charge which is a nice touch. We took two tours from the ship which we thought were reasonably priced and well organised. Overall: We enjoyed the cruise. Azura doesn't have the wow factor. It's a nice ship with good facilities, is nicely decorated and does most things well. However we didn't feel it did anything exceptionally nor did it have any specific outstanding features but as a venue to cruise to different ports it's very comfortable. It takes a fair amount of time to get to grips with the layout which is far from logical but this isn't a bad thing as long as you like to explore. It feels very swish and many who had been on Ventura said this was like being on the same ship but with a bit more class. I still don't understand the marketing for Azura. It has been aimed at previous cruisers and couples but has the same capacity for kids and for entertaining kids as Ventura. There were only a handful of kids on our cruise so the kids facilities and the area they take up surely are wasted most of the time? Why didn't P&O keep Azura for adults and Ventura for families? Still can't get my head round P&O's marketing objectives. There really isn't anything about Azura that would draw us back for another cruise on her as there are there are many alternatives we would like to try. As this was only our second cruise we can only compare this with our previous cruise on the IOTS. We took a vote on our way home and all voted the Independence as the better of the two. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Had a really fab voyage in an INSIDE cabin,as very late booking.No probs with check-in @ So'ton. Cabin smallish but OK.Cabin steward reluctant to remove small tray table..but made so much MORE room avail.Open wardrobe was good and ... Read More
Had a really fab voyage in an INSIDE cabin,as very late booking.No probs with check-in @ So'ton. Cabin smallish but OK.Cabin steward reluctant to remove small tray table..but made so much MORE room avail.Open wardrobe was good and flatscreen TV+Fridge+Tea making+biscuits. Tried Freedom Dining but a disaster...were given pager and waited 45+mins..so transfer to Oriental.Restaurant Manager,John Willard ,was so polite and obliging..he is tops. Breakfast in Peninsular as more "tables for 2".Buffet was a la Mc Donalds so had superb Pizza's,far from madding crowd,on Deck 15. Dined twice in XVII..unbelievably good.P=O have trained the speciality staff for a month in Trieste..and, boy,does it show.We had seafood twice(on " diff menu's).No corkage charge either but £11 in main restaurants. Only griope was that cutlery knives were almost imposs to spread butter/jam. Tiptree conserves. Great that P+O allow wine etc for consumption in cabin..other lines don't..also Shuttle buses were free to save long walks in Corfu+Malaga. Fortunate to have mobility so do our own"tours"..makes a much more exciting "adventure"!! Cruise Director,a young girl called Benni, should be a Butlins Red Coat...Dave Barfoot would have been superb but he is a "minion"!! We enjoyed TRIBUTE shows(Phil Collins/Lulu/Dusty S0 but Manhatten bar was unsuitable venue owing to lack of space.Huge Q's for 2100 Theatre Show.There was a v.good motown singer Vernon Lewis..but his Dad Jimmy James a wee bit past it! Far too many comedians..how BORING are they??!!!! Lots of quizzes but too many Sitcm TV orientated. Very,very good Aviation lectures(Red Arrows,Concorde) by Phil Holt,an air traffic controller(but an Aviation nut!) Very good for me being exRAF/British Airways 747 Captain but was so popular there were NEVER enough seats in Malabar..should have been held in 850 seat Theatre. The ship carries 3100 pax but if "u do your own thing" and don't wanna' be too matey-matey(which we certainly DIDN'T) she's a great liner. We'll be heading back to P+O for more meat..but was poison for some. U can't please all of the folk all of the time!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
1.Embarcation/Disembarcation No problems with port parking - very efficient and then only 30 minutes in lounge before being on the ship. Couldn't have been easier or more speedy. We were directed to the lunch buffet on deck 15 until ... Read More
1.Embarcation/Disembarcation No problems with port parking - very efficient and then only 30 minutes in lounge before being on the ship. Couldn't have been easier or more speedy. We were directed to the lunch buffet on deck 15 until the cabins were ready at 2:30pm.Similarly on return we were off the ship 30 miutes before the adverised time and driving away in mites after collecting our luggage - which was not as bad as we had feared with so many on board. 2.Cabin We booked a balcony cabin which had all of the space we needed; good 'open-sided' wardrobe; shower; plenty of storage. Although we had not thought that we would use the balcony much, the excellent weather meant that it was that well used in the Baltic spring,especially with the beautiful sailing into/from both Oslo and Stockholm harbours - absolutely stunning scenery!Cabin steward was excellent too. 3.Dining We booked 2nd dinner sitting in the Oriental restaurant which worked very well for us - meant also that we went to the 10:30 theatre show which was not as full as the two earlier showtimes.The food and service were good and the portions sensble.We also ried the 2 speciality restaurants, XVII and Sindhu, both of which were excellent (also the general opinion not just of our party). The Glasshouse worked well too for lunch snacks and dinner on one evening too.Although all carry surcharges, they are more than worth it, both for the quality of food/service and variety. 4. Entertainment The 'Headliners' company worked hard; were talented and the productions were 'slick' and all worked very well.Targetted squarely at us 'Brits' the shows were very enjoyable. We heard of complaints about finding seats at the earlier shows (7:15 and 8:30pm) but at the 10:30 show there was never any problem. It is after all a very big ship and cannot possibly seat even half of the 3000 guests at once! Other entertainers were a mixed bunch, with the Elton John/Rod Stewart tibute acts especially good.Plenty of choice throughout the ship to cater for most tastes.Ship's backing musicians were uniformly excellent in their own right. 5.Bars We most enjoyed the Planet bar; excellent views; good service and relatively quiet until it's popularity began to circulate. Blue bar was good too and we often had a drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) in Glasshouse. 5. Decks Didn't partake much of the deck entertainment/pools though those who did seemed to enjoy the experince. The 'Sky Screen' will come into its own in the Med. summer/Caribbean - bit chilly for us,even in a sunny Baltic.Will work well for 'world-cup' games presumably! 6. Overall Azura is a big ship, but we found it very friendly, both fellow cruisers and staff (many of whom had been transferred/promoted in from the Ventura).This had clearly helped with the settling in period of these early cruises.Go and enjoy yourselves - ignore the few 'moaning minnies' onboard who are all too ready to critise even minor failings (if indeed they are even that). Azura is a beautiful ship;tremendous value for money and most enjoyable. We will certainly sail in her again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
EMBARKATION Half an hour delay due to "security issues" but plenty of seats and no real problems. CABIN Booked very late so we had an inside of their choice. This turned out to be a family room with tip up bunks on the walls ... Read More
EMBARKATION Half an hour delay due to "security issues" but plenty of seats and no real problems. CABIN Booked very late so we had an inside of their choice. This turned out to be a family room with tip up bunks on the walls each side! We felt the room was slightly smaller than we had on previous ships and the bunks did not help but overall the decor and standards where very good. However, how a family of 4 would cope in this cabin I have no idea. For the price I paid I was just happy to be on the cruise. We did have a toilet blockage late on one evening and no one came to fix it until the morning. My wife had to use the public facilities during the night and on her way back was stuck in the lift for 5 minutes when the doors refused to open!! DINING Used the any-time option. For the first two nights we where put on tables for 8 (they seem to have more these than any other) and did not enjoy the company much. I can only describe some of the people as P&O cruise snobs. Because of this we used the the Meridian restaurant very few times. My wife and I like to mix and chat with people from all over the world and different age groups but we soon found this was never going to happen on a P&O ship out of Southampton. We tried Sindhu and had the best Indian meal I have ever had!!. We also used the Trattoria in Verona quite a few times. We liked it a lot and the views leaving port are much better from Verona than in the Meridian. Would have liked it to change from Italian to say Chinese/French/Indian on the second week for a bit of variety but hay-ho. Breakfast buffet the usual scrum every day. P&O have tried to squeeze to many people onto this ship and it shows in every venue. We felt that perhaps the menus in the Meridian had no great wow factor until the last two days when they became more like what we had been used to on Princess. Perhaps it is because they have so many more PAY venues on board and would not want to feed you TO well at their expence?? cynical?? Never. SHOWS Headliners are very very good. Best we have seen anywhere. The other acts are all pretty good and similar to other ships. Entertainment staff all very friendly but cruise director Laura Bennison seemed a bit robotic. Every word every ad lib totally rehearsed. P&O ask you to enter the Playhouse theatre via deck 6 and not to arrive more than half an hour before the show starts. If you follow their rules you will never see any of the early shows! However it does calm down a bit as the days go by. VENUES Brodies. We liked this venue a lot. Comfy seats and nice atmosphere. Planet Bar. Nice but the big TV screens are a bit wasted. You would not sit and watch them all night! We thought that there was quite a bit of vibration in there which stopped it being as relaxing as it should have been and forget it if they are playing quoits on deck above. Its like trying to relax in a bowling ally! Views are great tho. Malabar. Very nice venue if you can ever get a seat!! Manhattan. We did not like this venue at all. It was a triumph of design over practicality. The sight lines to the stage. Terrible. The dividing screens. To high. If I wanted to watch a show on TV I could have remained at home!! Replace it with a Princess Vista lounge!! Atrium OK but no WOW factor. A bit to small for the numbers on board. SHOPPING. Mostly expensive luxury designer goods. Shops always seemed virtually deserted to us. But when they had sales you could not move in the atrium area. Does this not tell you some thing P&O?? POOLS / SEA SCREEN Great for the Med. Not for the Baltics. Even tho we had very good weather. No covered pool, big mistake. Promenade deck does not go right around the ship! Many people disappointed with that. Any venues not mentioned is because we did not use them. The Glass House looked good but we did not get around to using it. Overall we enjoyed this cruise a lot. Much of that to do with the great ports of call. Probably 200-300 people to many for the space available. Anything to do with Carnival?? I can't get my head round P&O's marketing objectives, are they aiming for the P&O old crowd or are they going for the new mass market of new cruisers like myself? The average age of cruisers this time was over 64. We just prefer a more mixed crowd. There really isn't anything about Azura that would draw us back for another cruise on her, except a very good deal! We would not rush back to P&O we have a few more companies to try yet. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
AZURA Baltic cruise, 26 May 2010 - Great people, but some real issues. First time cruisers though we did a "crossing" on the wonderful QM2 last year. I am a wheelchair user, my wife is a celiac, so some may find the feedback on ... Read More
AZURA Baltic cruise, 26 May 2010 - Great people, but some real issues. First time cruisers though we did a "crossing" on the wonderful QM2 last year. I am a wheelchair user, my wife is a celiac, so some may find the feedback on accessibility and food choice useful. What follows is we hope a balanced review which reflects a good holiday but equally suggests that P&O have not got everything right with Azura and some aspects will be very off putting for certain potential customers. Embarkation. We arrived early, had a 15 min wait in car park queue and 30 mins in the check-in hall at the bright and breezy Ocean Terminal. Disabled access is good here & you should go to the "mobility assist" area, it will pay off. We were onboard in 30 mins, were directed to deck 15 for lunch which was fine and in our superb (disabled) inside cabin by 2.30 as promised. All very smooth and well managed. Disabled stateroom L248 Lido Deck 15. Outstanding. Loads of room. One of the best designed disabled accessible bathrooms we have ever seen. Good wheelchair turning space, excellent wheel-in shower area with a very good large fold up seat and good access to wash basin. Toilet has grab rails on two sides but if you need three rails ask about this before booking. Cabin steward (Manoj) was excellent. All in all a very impressive accommodation. But....this is state of the art Azura, or that's what P&O tell you in the brochures. Two different people designed this ship. One did the disabled cabins, the other the rest of P&O's flagship. LIFTS. Appalling, simply appalling. After the absurdly poor safety briefing we waited 45 mins for a lift back to our cabin. It must have been a one off we thought....wrong. P&O have built a` ship the same size as Ventura but put 500 more passengers onboard. Most were 70+ and/or disabled. We were babies in our early fifties but we aged 10 years waiting for lifts on this cruise. It just doesn't work, too many people, and a lift service where only one lift seems able to stop on a deck at one time. Peak times it's a fiasco. You need to leave 30 mins before dinner to arrive on time. This is not OTT, the lifts are not able to cope and it can spoil your day, trust me, this is a serious problem and if you have no choice but to use the lift prepare for absurd waiting times. THE RETREAT. Again, appalling. We really wanted to use this innovative facility but on this brand new state of the art ship it is NOT accessible to wheelchair users or those who don't fancy climbing loads of steps. How P&O can justify this is beyond me but there is no lift inside the three-deck spa / retreat facility and access to the wonderful heated pool with its wave machine is up 3 steps, then 7 more, then down another 7. Crazy and hugely disappointing. And even the staff were embarrassed that this has been allowed to happen and spookily it isn't mentioned in the adverts.....indeed we had three calls before the cruise trying to sell us spa packages. THE FOOD. We were club diners in the Oriental, 1st sitting. We were so lucky to have a table of 6 superb companions. Great conversation and lots of laughter. Such superb company can and did make for some very enjoyable times. Food was generally good. A couple of ordinary meals but overall lots of good eating. Portions are a bit small at times but in truth there's always more if you ask. Service was good. We also tried "Seventeen" which is P&O's attempt at a celebrity restaurant without a celebrity and it is amazing. Really good and a steal at £20pp cover charge. "Sindhu" is fine dining Indian style and equally good. Subtle flavours and surprises between courses ! We loved our meal experience there and both this and 17 are worth the extra money. The Glass House was a favourite, great "taster" plates and really good turf and surf and very sweet wine ! Verona and Venetia were okish and we heard that the Italian trattoria was excellent. My wife is a coeliac and providing you make your meal choices the night before with the menu provided then you are pretty well catered for. Less well if you turn up unannounced at an alternative venue but even then they will try to sort things. ENTERTAINMENT. Very mixed. Headliners Company did 6 shows which were ok'ish but the lead vocalists lack "range" and the Playhouse gets absurdly crowded for the middle of three performances. Warning : there are just 6 disabled spaces in the Playhouse on deck 7 and 8 on deck 6. It's very poor this and given the huge numbers of less-than-mobile people on this cruise it's a real shame that P&O do not understand the issues this causes. The rest of the entertainment is made up of Tribute Acts and Comedy, and we thought much of this was disappointing. A couple of the singers were good and to be fair if some stopped describing the entertainment onboard as "west end" quality it would ease expectations. We got a bit bored on sea days in particular when there really isn't enough to do if the weather is poor. We mostly had great weather but try watching the disappointing "SeaScreen" in rain and a cold wind, it's not fun. TOURS. We did 5 disabled accessible tours. Very expensive but we found them to be outstanding vfm. Mostly it's just 4 of you and your professional guide. How good is that ? We enjoyed Tallin and loved St Petersburg and Copenhagen and Oslo were real highlights. P&O are the only company who can be bothered to help disabled customers in this way and they deserve great credit for so doing. If you need accessible transport then try these tours but note that in some ports like Stockholm there are free accessible shuttle buses. In a few like Oslo and Kristiansand you can walk in from the berth. OVERCROWDING. What can you say ? It's a mix of greed and poor planning added to inadequate design but for us Azura is simply not able to effectively cope with 3100 passengers. There is an extra deck of cabins and one lounge less than Ventura. It doesn't work, it's just too crowded in the public areas and the lounges (Manhatten and Malabar) are too full too often. And did we mention those LIFTS ? ! We met lots of very nice people, the staff were generally very good and the ship is pretty but flawed. We rested and appreciated the sun and the trips ashore and eat pretty well. Not a bad holiday by any measure but Azura is far from perfect and some of the problems are serious enough to surely impact on repeat bookings. If anyone wants more on the disabled access etc very happy to discuss ! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Parking at southampton: So swift and organised at CPS outside the Terminal, before we had stopped they had the bags out of the car and on their way to our cabin! CPS kept the car keys and parked the car for us Cabin: excellent cabin ... Read More
Parking at southampton: So swift and organised at CPS outside the Terminal, before we had stopped they had the bags out of the car and on their way to our cabin! CPS kept the car keys and parked the car for us Cabin: excellent cabin really modern refilled tea and coffee everyday, fresh towels and the cabin steward was excellent had ample space in the walk in wardrobe also. i would advise to have the beds in queen config as the cabin loses a lot of space if it is in twin formation Dining: The dining was excellent, great variety and always readily available. I can defiantely recommend Sindhu worth every penny!@ £15 per head it was fantastic! amazing food and service, We found Seventeen very nice and the terrace on the back is lovely if it is nice weather! We did find the menu to be a little plain compared to the Indian but i guess this is expected! Shore excursions: we found the port presentations particulaly informative as we did most of our exploring independantly, they were great to watch in the cabin whilst getting ready or to attend directly in the playhouse Entertainment: As the average age on our this cruise was late 60's we did find the entertainment to be geared more towards the older age group. There was a good selection of varied activities for this age group however. The Headliners Theatre company was spectacular very enjoyable and an excellent variety of performances from acrobatics to full stage productions! The Nightclub never really got into full swing as it was an older age group! we did find however that the English Pub Brodies again catered for all age groups , it had a fab atmosphere with plenty going on from quizzes to board games and a pool table! We did have a flutty in the Casino, the staff were excellent really friendly and gave you gaming lessons free of charge Some of the bands and musicians were a tad below par of what you would expect on a ship of this nature but they were enjoyable non the less! We found the Sea Screen fantastic! a brilliant new addition to the fleet, it attracted every age group and had a good selection of old and new films, they had films playing throughout the day and into the night at set times they even used it for a game of bowling on the wii! In the evening its fantastic to get wrapped up in the provided blankets and watch the film under the stars! I would however say that the films did tend to be a little repetative and by the 2nd week we had seen all the films on show, apart from that i believe it to be a brilliant addition to the ship Kids Facilities: On the aft of the ship overlooking the terrace pool there are the kids areas. Frontiers and The Beach Hut. these are partially outdoor play areas where the staff play games. Inside the teens have a great area to relax in and chill out with friends, there is plenty for them from an Air hockey game to play stations and more! for the little ones there is a large soft play area for them The staff were great with the kids really organised and we hardly saw any kids they were kept so busy! Tips: The staff were great really friendly and helpful always, we gave the tips directly to the staff on the final day of the cruise. the average tip is around £3.20 pp per day which can be split between waiters and cabin steward Impressions: My intial impressions were 'how's this going to float!' but no in all seriousness it was a wonderful ship. Right from the word go everything is so organised. The check in was swift and organised, the product of P&O is fantastic and even down to the keeping of the ship they were constantly cleaning and painting the ship inside and out! even though she is only a few weeks old! We found our cabin rather swiftly as the decks and cabins are well sign posted.Having a balcony was amazing, our own private space outside to enjoy a coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening, it was great to have this as the journey into stockholm was amazing how they traversed through all the tiny little islands it was fantastic to watch All the different areas of the ship are in immaculate condition and very luxurious. i think the main thing that was impressive was the service and the food! oh the food! we belive you could eat round the clock 24 hours a day! and all for free! the main restaurant food was impressive with plenty of choice for all tastes, the waiters in the restaurant were fantastic they remembered all our names on the table and if they saw you walking about in other areas of they ship they would ask how we were and greet us by name! Target market: This ship can quite happily cater for all age groups and types. As mentioned the Itinerary seems to dictate what kind of market the cruise attracts. The Azura would suit Families As they do have excellent kids facilities but i would be careful what itinerary, the med or caribbean would probably suit families more as entertainment was geared for the older generation Singles it is fantastic. the single cabins were brilliant as we did have a look in one! The nice thing is there is plenty of space in the ship to have the single afternoon tea in another area Young couples - great again! the Sea Screen does appeal more to the younger market and we found it great to get away from all the bars and have a quiet night under the stars watching a film. Our Itinerary really applealed to the older generation and the ship seemed to please the majority of the older seniors. there were a few complaints from the seniors saying it was too large and they had far to walk from bar to show etc. . . Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We (Cathy & Ian) were so looking forward to our 15 night Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from Fort Lauderdale on 21 April but the Icelandic volcano stopped us travelling to the USA. We were very proactive and were able to get ... Read More
We (Cathy & Ian) were so looking forward to our 15 night Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from Fort Lauderdale on 21 April but the Icelandic volcano stopped us travelling to the USA. We were very proactive and were able to get a transfer from Princess to P&O and almost the last cabin on Azura leaving Southampton on 28 April instead. We have only cruised twice before, both in the Med with RCI. We hope that our review will be an honest attempt to review the Azura and compare and contrast P&O and RCI. We have future cruises booked with both companies for later this year and 2011. We soon noticed a huge difference between the 'customers' on board Azura and those we had cruised with on RCI. The average age of the cruisers on P&O must have been 20 years older and there were many disabled people on the ship. The staff were fantastic and dealt with the elderly and disabled passengers with patience and understanding, so we would definitely recommend P&O for its service to these groups. We'll get the negatives out of the way first: 1. The promenade deck did not go all the way around the ship so had its limitations as a jogging track, especially when all the smokers congregated outside - why don't cruise ships restrict smoking more? 2. We thought that the buffet meals at breakfast and lunch were not as good as RCI - couldn't find a bagel or any cream cheese on the ship for instance, and the serving areas were very cramped. We didn't think the staff were very friendly either at these times. 3. The number of photographers who continually tried to take your photos became very annoying after a couple of days. 4. Don't expect to get a seat in any lounge area during the day if the weather isn't too good. We have never seen so many people drink so much tea over so long a period before! 5. The staff in bars were not as friendly as those on RCI, although we did appreciate the lower cost of most drinks (no added 15% to the bill). 6. Some of the P&O regulars (they think P&O stands for 'Posh and Offensive' and behave like that all the time) weren't friendly at all, especially over dinner so we tried not to share a table if we could avoid it. We also thought that, for us, there were too many formal nights (4) although we appreciate that this is very popular with many passengers (on this cruise they seemed to be P&O again, 'Pretentious & Overweight'.) 7. The Retreat spa: great idea but we didn't see many people using it and those who had paid a lot of money for it as a package seemed to regret the cost as there was little value for money. The problem as we see it is that if the weather is good then there are too few spa beds in the sunshine and if the weather is poor then the covered area is too cold. Time for some positives: 1. Gym was fantastic and had a great view if you were using the aerobic machines. 2. Open air cinema was excellent, even blankets if it was cold. 3. We chose Freedom Dining which meant we could turn up at any time for our evening meal. If we wanted a table for two (which we did most of the time) and it was busy you were given a pager. We didn't wait more than 20 minutes on any night for a table. However, Freedom Dining is a bit of a misnomer. Even though you are sat at a table for two you are always very close to tables either side of you and you are served in tandem with those table around you so you quickly realise that the pace of your meal will be determined by how many courses those tables near you order and how quickly (or on this cruise) how slowly your fellow diners eat! 4. The food in the main restaurant was excellent with a varied choice and a 'default' menu which always had a plain chicken or beef option. Puddings were exceptional. The Head Chef was very visible throughout the cruise and was paying great attention to the standards of service in all restaurants. 5. Speciality restaurants were superb and well worth the extra costs. We ate twice at Sindhu and thoroughly recommend it. Not a 'spicy' Indian restaurant but very subtle flavours, the Indian wine was good too. Our second night there was slightly spoilt by a very unfortunate P&O regular ('Prickly & Obnoxious') who was incredibly rude to the very helpful staff. '17' was also very good, we wish we had had a second night there as well. The Glasshouse was excellent, very different wines to try and a relaxed atmosphere, if you could get a seat when the tea drinkers went for a pee! 6. Entertainment: this obviously depends on your taste. A word of warning for you P&O regulars - you will have probably seen most of the comedians and tribute acts an another P&O cruise. However, we really enjoyed the tribute acts (Elton John, George Michael and Phil Collins) plus most of the other cabaret singers. Peter Piper was a terrific comic but some of the others were a throwback to the 1970's but not in a good way. Toyah Wilcox was also a guest speaker. The cruise singers/dancers were very professional and versatile. Jason the pianist is also worth a mention for his hard work in various bars and with the choir. 7. Cathy really enjoyed the cruise choir, which practiced 3/4 times during the cruise and performed on the last formal night and again at the talent show on the final night. 8. Neil the Cruise Director was a real star. However, we are split on the 'Sailaways' every evening at 5.30 ish whenever we left a port. Ian hated them but Cathy generally enjoyed them although the choice of music became very repetitive 9. Our steward Arlindo was a star. He was always there when we needed him and was incredibly efficient, we came back from breakfast one morning and the room had already been cleaned. 10. We did our own thing at most ports of call but did go on a wine tasting tour in Vigo. We thoroughly recommend this tour, it's only an hour's coach trip to the winery and the choice of drinks to sample is very good. You then go to a hotel for a tapas lunch and more (free) wine, great value for money. Overall we enjoyed our Canaries cruise and we would definitely cruise on the Azura again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
started with a drive to Southampton chronic traffic between the car park and ship the so called 10 min journey took over an hour. the check in was very efficient and fairly quick.Nothing on board to eat except tea/cakes until dinner. our ... Read More
started with a drive to Southampton chronic traffic between the car park and ship the so called 10 min journey took over an hour. the check in was very efficient and fairly quick.Nothing on board to eat except tea/cakes until dinner. our cabin was an inside on deck 12 well appointed but a little smaller than princess/celebrity. On the 1st night out a great deal of banging/clanging from midnight complained to the desk engineer sent up to listen they said they would come back to us. We had to go back to them to find out that there was indeed a problem that they were trying to resolve apparently one of the securing brackets had broken we were given a key to another inside cabin on deck 5 to enable us to sleep (apparently the only empty cabin on the ship). we were told that if it could not be fixed that they would move us to this cabin. this is what happened. We agreed with the chief of customer services suitable compensation. The ports of call were Madeira/la palma/grand canaria/tenerife/lisbon/vigo free shuttle buses were provided where necessary at all the ports which was a welcome change from some of the other cruise lines. we chose to do our own thing at all the destinations.there are tourist offices at all the stops and getting around and getting information is easy. The ship is brand new this was her second voyage after all the hype we found it disappointing in many ways. The central atrium is the smallest we have encountered on any ship (this was our 12th ship.)they use deck 5 as a dancing area for reasons only known to p&o. the library is small and doubles as an internet room the shops are ok but the whole area is congested with people who hang around watching the dancers below. The casino is very small and poorly equipped compared to other ships. there are 3 show areas the main theatre is excellent with no drinks tables or service. the other 2 however are badly thought out they are in reality bars with small stages and dancing areas the seating is organised in such a way that half the seats face away from the stage anything going on that attracts a crowd it is very difficult to find space to sit. there are 3 pools none are covered (BAD MISTAKE) an outside big screen showing films an adults only retreat(you pay extra 10 pounds on sea days) there are no decks at all that you can walk all the away around the ship. the pool areas are well equipped with sun loungers. Food: We opted for freedom dining there is one main restaurant allocated to you where the food is of excellent quality although the portions are very small you can of course ask for more. The buffets on deck 15 are great for breakfast although there is far fewer options compared to princess or celebrity but the lunchtime is abysmal not even up to the standard of a works canteen there is the option of pizza and hamburgers which are fine but it does involve a 50 yard trek if you wish to join your partner inside or to get tea /coffee /dessert. afternoon tea is served in one of the restaurants and is excellent. the speciality restaurants are sindu and seventeen we opted for seventeen which was exceptional and worth the 20 pound supplement. also at night one of the buffets is transformed into an Italian dining option which is very good quality.overall with the notable exception of lunch as good as any others and better than some. Entertainment: The main shows (5) performed by what they call the headliners theatre company were simply spectacular the best we have seen afloat they are as good as you will get in the west end of London. there were comedians all were very good as were the various singers pianists etc. We attended lectures that were interesting and well presented the only problem was the venue malibar with its lack of suitable seating. there were various other things throughout the day no lack of something to do. Notes: The usual problems of being pestered to buy drinks and pose for photographs got on our nerves the photos are expensive too. The crowd was very elderly indeed we are approaching 60 but were young compared to most on this cruise.The entertainment staff lead by director Neil Oliver were good.the weather was very mixed not much sunshine unfortunately the sea was however mainly calm.disembarkation was quick and efficient. Overall opinion: We feel that the ship has sacrificed a great deal of public space for cabins. as stated for such a big ship the central atrium is inadequate other cruise ships offer more and better facilities. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
After being shuffled like sheep in Southampton we went aboard the Azura. Excited and eager to enjoy ourselves we found our cabin inside stateroom. It was pleasant enough except the wardrobe was just a hanging rail. We went to get something ... Read More
After being shuffled like sheep in Southampton we went aboard the Azura. Excited and eager to enjoy ourselves we found our cabin inside stateroom. It was pleasant enough except the wardrobe was just a hanging rail. We went to get something to eat and found a cafe on level 5 serving tea/coffee and cakes at a cost. This was supposed to sustain us until dinner after missing lunch. The first night was ruined by banging and clanging so little sleep was had. We reported this to customer services several times for 10 days when they agreed to move us to another cabin. This was a lot quieter. The food was good although in the buffet areas it was difficult to find a seat and sometimes this would result in your food getting cold. The captain did not turn up to the welcome cocktail party until after we went to dinner. We did not get to our first port Malaga because he said it was too rough. The ship was not very stable as every little movement in the sea was felt. The shows were good - The theatre was a good venue but the other two venues were not suitable as the seating was arranged that people had their backs to the show. The big screen was a good idea but when the weather was bad you had to shiver to watch the films. The constant pestering of the staff trying to encourage you to buy drinks was annoying, there was no let up. We came to the conclusion that we would avoid P & O ships a this was a bad experience enough to put you off cruising. We had enough of queueing on this cruise and will go back to the smaller ships which we cruised on before. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We booked with a local travel agent and as our holiday came within their criteria as to cost we were provided with a taxi both ways. The taxi turned up on time at our home in Park Gate Fareham Hants. As first time cruisers we were not sure ... Read More
We booked with a local travel agent and as our holiday came within their criteria as to cost we were provided with a taxi both ways. The taxi turned up on time at our home in Park Gate Fareham Hants. As first time cruisers we were not sure as to the amount of clothes to take so erred on generous amount as we were advised we would not have to carry it anywhere as it so transpired as we turned up in Ocean Terminal 20 mins later, the taxi driver said just leave it all on the ground by the car and the porters will pick it up, what a difference from airports. After waiting a while after being issued with letter cards we checked in and joined the queue for embarkation. Once on ship we were directed to our cabin. Jocelyn our cabin steward came and introduced herself. We had lifejacket demo then went for a wander around the ship as we had never seen anything like it, the Atrium was stunning as were the numerous bars,shops and restaurants etc. We had opted for freedom dining as we felt this would suit our needs best, also prior to cruising heard some horror stories of being lumbered with unsuitable companions for all evening meals! The freedom dining worked out extremely well for the whole cruise and we had different neighbours each night which was really good,all the dining staff really helpful.The food was a very high standard and all very enjoyable, I especially, opted to try many types of food which I had not previously had eaten. We went to a number of the Playhouse Theatre shows, the Headliners especially were excellent,most of the other acts also being of a good quality.Although the Theatre could hold 800+ we found that the 7.30 and 9pm shows had long queues so we opted for 11pm show and walked in easily. We had our breakfast most days up on 15 in self service of Venezia & Verona. Although there were a lot of people we never had any troule with seating as we shared on most days and met many interesting people. The Sea Screen was a novel idea, in fact on one evening we watched Mamma Mia! Although we walked around we didn't have a dip in any of the pools as the weather was not that brilliant to feel it was a good idea, maybe another time. In the evening we split our time between the Blue Bar where we could listen to relaxing music to Manhattan watching entertainment and even participating in The Weakest Link,great fun. We enjoyed the atmosphere of the Planet Bar, very interesting either watching the large interactive video screens or looking out to sea. It was great on Formal and semi-formal evenings to see that the majority of people involved themselves and we enjoyed this. The Atrium with its staircases and glass lifts never failed to please the eye. We listened to various talks in Malabar. The Photo Gallery was always a popular place to be at.Being first timers we had many photos taken, probably next time far fewer. We set the alarm early to get up to see our arrival in Madeira and had breakfast in cabin as we were off on early coach trip round island. We went on several of the trips and felt they were fairly reasonably priced although we quickly learned after watching points and talking to other experienced cruisers that in future we can easily do our own thing far cheaper. We also got up very early to see our entrance into Lisbon as we had been told this was spectaculay especially going under the bridge. This was well worth it, we went up to 16 and watched the sunrise from over the bows of the ship, we were amazed how few people were there with us. still our gain others loss. When disembarking it was a bit of a crush although there were timed disembarkation times, but finding our luggage was very easy with many luggage trolleys available, back out to waiting taxi and on to home within the hour. This is just a short review of our cruise but suffice to say we are hooked and looking forward to end of Aug on Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
It came to pass that the Mighty P&O did invite all Portunus Gold Tier Members to a Walkabout tour of the latest addition to their Family . The Azura. The Pilgramage led 1500 of this august band to the impressive Ocean Terminal. And ... Read More
It came to pass that the Mighty P&O did invite all Portunus Gold Tier Members to a Walkabout tour of the latest addition to their Family . The Azura. The Pilgramage led 1500 of this august band to the impressive Ocean Terminal. And there she was resplendent in the Southampton Sun.These lovers of The Crows Nest,Andersons,el et assembled two by two waiting for embarkation.Old friends from bygone Cruises renewed aquaintances as they waited.Wise men Shepherds and Masons waited patiently.We were kitted out with our Boarding Pass swinging jauntily from a natty Lanyard.Ours was Green.The wife did say that it it did not match her shoes or bag but I assured her that no one noticed. So.After much sercurity checks we finally got a first real look at Azura. First The Atrium . Where have I seen that before ? Up and Up and Up to Decks 15,16 and 17 and The Coral Pool and Bar.Nice enough I suppose but nothing special.Except those Sun Loungers.Blue and Brown even I could appreciate that it would be difficult to match accessories.Then The Oasis Spa and The Retreat.It looks an absolute picture.Wicker Sun Loungers,Cabbanas all sheltered under a Canopy similar to that at Goodwood Races.All well and good I hear you say but how much ? Well I heard figures of £10/20 pp per day bandied about and that was just for entrance to this exclusive area.So boys if 'They' insist it may mean only single G n Ts for the duration of your Cruise.Many of the pieces of Equipment in Spa area looked painful but I am reliably informed by one who knows that it was the latest.So what do I know . The Accomodation.Starting at the top . The Suites.If Camelot does its duty I'll have one of these.Well equipped furnished and appointed.I might have trouble negotiating a path to the Thunder box for my nocturnal calls of nature but must say I liked this.Smashing Bose Stereo tucked away.On to the head [naval jargon for bathroom] expensive looking Seperate Shower Enclosure Spa Bath. Could just imagine the good lady scrubbing my back as the Bose belts out a bit of Ole Blue Eyes.'Strangers In The Night' Dooby Dooby Do.Did have a bit of a problem with the Balcony.Why on earth did P&O choose to showcase a Luxury Suite with a balcony that has a steel pillar protruding floor to ceiling.Try again. Nearly forgot the Walk In Wardrobe doubt if even she could fill this but no doubt she would give it her best shot. Balcony/ Outside. Again Well furnished nicely appointed.Walkin Wardrobe of sorts but practical .Smallish Bathroom usual facillities.Room for Biscuits and Tea and Coffee makings.Reasonable Drawer Space for the smalls etc. Overall very good but on the small side. Inside: Its OK but it is Inside and on the small side . Appointments Furnishings and Fittings similar to the Outside cabins.Small Bathroom you would have to take turns for your ablutions . Bars Etc.Have you been on Vetura ? Do you remember,how could you forget The Havana Club. Well they have done it again and called it Manhattan this time with Blue Strip Lighting.Reminded me of a Tanning Studio.And those Partitions high enough to test Red Rum.Poor sight lines.Not for me. Just along from Tan U like there is an Oasis of Calm and Serenity The Sindhu Restaurant.Very tasteful and if the food is as good as the surroundings you could be in for a treat . Next door we are transported to Morroco and The Malabar Night Club and bar.She didn't like the chairs but I felt a bit like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca but in colour.Room to cut a rug if you fancy a bit of Strictly.Just a pity about the constant flow of people passing through. Now The Glass House : A modern Wine Bar which I think also serves food.Will the P&O Grandees ,Dotties and old dears take to it?.I wonder. Then there is Brodies Pub Named after one of P&O Founders.Quite brash shares the area with The casino has a small stage big enough for say a Trio.I am not one for Pub Style Bars on ships but it is what it is . Certainly not the place for a quite drink.But I am more of an Andersons Man myself.It was a pity that we did not have time to see all of the Bars and facilities but I hope that I have given you a flavour of Azura. With our time running out we only had time to pop into The Playhouse Theatre.On three tiers similar to Ventura's Theatre.Looked to have good sight lines. The PA system announced that lunch was about tobe servered in The Meridian Restaurant. Like many of the features of Ventura Azura is very similar.The Meridian is no exception almost identical to The Cinnamon Restaurant on Ventura.Glass Partions tables for 2,4,6and 8.We were to be fine treated to a very meal so future Azurains you should have no complaints.The lady chose Atlantic Cod.No comment. I settled on a Smoked Salmon Platter followed by Lobster Scallops and King Prawns and just to be sociable a rather nice cheese board.To accompany this excellent fare we quoffed a couple of pleasant little wines.A Cheeky Chilean Shiraz[don't mention the Aussies] and a Saucy Pinot Grigo. During the course of this excellent lunch P&O's MD Carol Marlow gave a short speech. She explained that Azura had been designed with the Traditional P&O Passenger in mind and there would be Formal Semi Formal and a few Casual nights on all Cruises. Let us hope that that this is enforced. Although the speech was politely recieved I felt that most of the audience may have preferred a new Aurora or Oriana,but we do have The New Adomnia to look forward to and the jury are still counting the votes for Arcadia. But what of Azura. Overall she is very similar to Ventura perhaps the decorations are more subdued and I must say that the Carpetting throughout the ship is nothing short of spectacular particulary in the passenger corridors. The service in The Meridian was very good, not fast but unobtrusive and the waiters were excellent.Would I cruise on Azura Errrrr. One last point then I'll leave you to post your rude remarks.On our way from Azura we were presented with a Pen as a momento of our Visit.Think P&O must have bought them off the QVC shopping channel. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Just returned from the caribbean on board the azura 8th-22nd.No negatives i am not the usual Brit!From east midlands airport and back it was a wonderful experience. Waiters excellent and polite, cabin boy superb nothing to much ... Read More
Just returned from the caribbean on board the azura 8th-22nd.No negatives i am not the usual Brit!From east midlands airport and back it was a wonderful experience. Waiters excellent and polite, cabin boy superb nothing to much trouble.Playhouse theatre, headliners were great, Tom Jones tribute fantastic. After dinner speakers very informative.Decor throughout the ship excellent.Food in venetia loads of choice and varied small queues did not bother us as we are patient people.Peninsular 4.00 tea very nice indeed,we were on Freedom dining waited no longer than 15 minutes any night, a great excuse for a drink while we waited.Cabins had hairdryers topped up shower gel.Twinings tea,egberts coffee,buiscuits replenished everyday.Drink prices cheaper than at home.Destinations all had something different. Yes it did rain on my trip to the RAIN FOREST!That made it all the more real.Went on the Rhum runner trip unforgettable party time.Did st kitts railway you will see how the locals live and are blissfully happy. We also did the snorkel sensation what a sensation it was. All other trips were done by local taxi, go anywhere you want at a reasonable cost, drivers are very informative,very funny as well, they all return you to the ship if you want to.I heard people moan about the food,I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THEY EAT AT HOME!One lady moaned about the ship that had just docked had blocked her window view. I could write more, but just to finish it was a holiday of a lifetime for us, we were so grateful to be able to afford this holiday and Azura and the Caribbean made our dream come true, thank you. Just enjoy, thats what holidays are all about! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I've been meaning to write this review for ages, having read so many prior to departure!We had an absolutely amazing time on Azura. We travelled with my parents and my brother, his wife and our 4 year old niece in addition to our ... Read More
I've been meaning to write this review for ages, having read so many prior to departure!We had an absolutely amazing time on Azura. We travelled with my parents and my brother, his wife and our 4 year old niece in addition to our little girl who turned 7 months when on board.We opted for a balcony stateroom which had plenty of space, even with all the baby paraphernalia we had to take with us. P&O provided a travel cot and bottom sheet and we took our own blankets and a sleeping bag for the baby. We ended up moving the easy chair to the wardrobe space just to free up some more floor space for the cot but we didn't feel too cramped and of course having the balcony made all the difference. P&O also provided a baby bath and would have given us a steriliser too but we took our own.The ship is beautiful, all very modern with the classic touches you would expect from a British ship. Not as OTT as Royal Caribbean but lovely none the less. You can always find a quiet spot and as the weather wasn't so good when we were there there were no fights over sun loungers etc.The sail aways were great fun, a few of the usual moaners complaining that the music was too loud and the kids were having too much fun but you get them everywhere don't you...The food was brilliant. I read some reviews about it being disappointing before we left but its a damn sight better than most hotels I have been too and often better. The pizzeria is a really good idea for a quick snack and you could basically eat 24 hours a day if the mood took you and judging by some of the people we saw the mood definitely did!We ate twice in sindhu and once in Seventeen. Both were exceptional but we preferred Sindhu due to the uniqueness of the flavours and dishes. (tikka massala it ain't)! The main dining room was very good too, a couple of times things were a bit disappointing but certainly not inedible and you could always ask for something else.The staff were fantastic. They could not do enough for us and everyone took time to speak to us and our little girl. She had a great time being fussed over by all the staff, many of who have young families that they don't see for 10 months of the year. P&O provided baby food on board although there were often things on the buffet that we simply mushed up for her.We barely saw our 4 year old niece as she spent most of her time in the kids club; pirate day, mr bump day, spooky day etc were just some of the themes they had. She had a brilliant time and is already talking about going back on a big ship soon! There is also a playroom for the under 2's that you can use during the day and turns into the night nursery after 6pm. We did try to use the night nursery a couple of times and found plenty of spaces. However our little one didn't settle very well so for the rest of the cruise we used the baby listening on the phone, ringing up every 10 mins and doing a physical check every 45 mins. We just asked the cabin steward not to make up our room in the evening and he was happy not to!The ports of call we visited were good and we had plenty of time to look around. We went on a couple of trips but with a young child and being tied into meal times and naps etc we found it easier to do our own thing for the majority of the ports.The entertainment was mixed. It is generally an older clientele on board (60ish) and as such the acts etc were geared towards them. The shows were quite good with the exception of Foxwell Flax (spelling) who was an impressionist with a repertoire of 1960's and 1970's impressions. Not really our cup of tea. Martyn Daniels (pauls son) was very good as were the headliners group.I think P&O are really missing a trick when it comes to catering for the younger passengers on board (and by younger I mean those in their 30's and 40's). The talks during the day were dull; an ex policeman talking about his career (my husband is a policeman and he said half the stuff he was saying was a load of rubbish anyway) and a biologist who when we walked past was talking about micro organisms in slime!Brodies the pub had a couple of fun quizzes in the evening but the entertainment staff spend so long explaining the rules between every question as though you are 5 years old that what should be a 30 minute quiz turns into an hour and a half and the fun is somewhat lost.All in all we had a fantastic time. Don't listen to the moaners. It's a great ship with excellent facilities and the staff could not do enough for us. So credit where credit's due. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Azura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 3.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.8

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