Well we are back from our Azura Christmas cruise (flew out 25th Dec from Manchester on the dreamliner). I was going with an open mind as we usually do, we have sailed on Ventura and oceana and a few other cruise lines prior to p&o. I was hoping we would like Azura as we loved Ventura. I have to say that this was the best cruise by far for us, it even beat our cruise around the Caribbean for our honeymoon 10 years ago, and we had our two young children and my mum with us.
I have to say the age range of the passengers was great a real good mixture and there were also 300 children on board which it never seemed that many. There was a great atmosphere on board and we made friends with young and old.
While on board we renewed our wedding vows to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, as we did want to marry at sea. Captain Camby was lovely, funny and really chatty guy and I love his thoughts of the day.
Kids had a ball in the kids club, my daughter is disabled but she had an amazing time too, both got really upset when leaving. They put on a little nativity play which they all did really well remembering their words. I felt 99% of kids were well behaved, there were a few 'on the loose' with no parental supervision and some of them were 16/17 and getting into a spot of trouble but nothing to spoil our holiday.
By the time we arrived Christmas day and got on board we were too tired to get off so decided to dump our hand luggage in the cabin and take a mooch around and register the children at club. As were were club dining we could eat at either 6.30 or 8.30pm on the first two days but we decided to do our own thing until the formalities set in on first sea day. Quick drink up top deck to watch the sunset and off to bed.
The next day we got a taxi to Harbour lights in Carlisle bay (wanted to do boat yard last time but didn't get round to it and didn't fancy taking the children). I knew I wanted to find the guy who takes you out to snorkel by the turtles and snorkel over the ship wreck. This was an amazing trip, turtles swimming under me, the kids enjoyed it too.
Tortola we paid for a ship excursion to Jost Van Dyke, all I can say for the brief few minutes we were there it was beautiful, I was gutted we had to leave asap, as my mum had a caught her leg on a sun bed and lost quite a lot of blood. Spent the next couple of hours in medical while they stitched her up.
Amber cover we used the new facilities, what a lovely port area.The water park was amazing, my kids didn't want to leave, plenty of sunbeds too, Captain told me they always try and make sure only one ship is in with them, it would have been crowded if two ships were in.
St Maarten was new years day, we wanted to go to Maho last time we were there but never got round to it. We took a cab to Mullet bay first which is a 10 min walk from maho. The beach is stunning but the waves and current are very dangerous for small children, even we got knocked down by them trying to keep hold of the children. We walked to maho and spent a couple of hours at driftwood bar the opposite end of the busier bar.
We missed the klm coming in well we saw it from mullet, but witnessed the klm take off, now I wasn't standing in the jet blast and still got blasted with sand and stones and bare the bruises on my tummy, how these people can stand directly in front of it I don't know.
Antigua we took a walk to the bus station and took the bus to turners, originally it was going to be Ffryes but the lady at the bus station said it was a far walk. We weren't disappointed with turners it was a lovely beach. We got a taxi back
St Kitts, mum stayed on the ship and the kids went to club. We wanted to see what ship wreck bar was like on South Friars and just go for a walk. We asked the driver to stop at timothy hill to get a pic. The weather wasn't great here, at one point we were running from a storm/rain cloud ha ha. Loved ship wreck bar too. Little Adonia joined us and we had a good blast off as she left.
Martinique we didn't book anything we were planning on getting the ferry across to one of the beach but the weather wasn't great so we just had a little walk in port, brought some rum and back on ship. I was hoping to make use of an empty ship and sunbathe but ended up doing the hokey cokey with my bags getting them under cover every time it rained! I was ok sitting on a lounger in the rain though!
We have been to St Lucia before and did a trip to the pitons, so we decided to stay on board as I knew St Lucia isn't the best for beaches. The children were very tired so we let them sleep in until the woke up. We just sat on the balcony so I was gutted when we had the container side ha ha! Once the kids got up they wanted to go to club so we sat on top deck and had 2 hours peace before picking them back up. Then spent the afternoon with the children in the pool.
Grenada is our favourite port, we did a bike ride 10 years ago with ocean village then went to a lovely beach morne rouge. This time we booked the rhum runner, mum felt up to it and the kids were looking forward to the dancing. I knew I wanted to get off and get my spice necklaces and spices first so we did that in the morning while mum came to our cabin while the children slept.
The Rhum runner was so much fun, very loud and lots of laughs and dancing not to forget lots of rum. The children had some coke (their first time) and told me it was their best drink ever, they won't be having it again. An officer was waiting for us from the ship to hurry us all along. The captain was on the bridge and we all gave a good wave and he waved back. The trip is a must do - so much fun. Pity it is at the end of the holiday though when you need to pack!!!
We booked the taster menu in the Glass house £30pp and 6 glasses of wine to accompany the food. Really good food and really good wine. Loved the glass house and really recommend, but you have to book quick as the places are limited. We ate in the buffet twice for dinner and once for lunch. We had 8.30pm sitting in Oriental, our waiters were great and we had a wine waiter which we weren't sure about as we had read that p&o had got rid of them. Our manager came to me every night with the menu the next day to pick my food as I am a vegetarian. I had to send food back once as I had mould on my yorkshire pud, I told them to take the yorkshire away and to keep the rest of my food as I was enjoying it, but they said they couldn't. Because they rushed my course to get it out it was all under cooked and not very enjoyable so I just told them to take it away in the end which I was gutted as I was enjoying it originally.
Food was good generally but we have noticed a decline over the years, both in main dining room and the buffet, this was just an observation after cruising with P&O before, it certainly didn't spoil our holiday. We used the pizzeria and grill a fair bit at lunch and the grab and go next to the grill, some nice salads and sandwiches. Breakfast we mixed it up between buffet, restaurant and room service depending when the children woke up and what mood we were in.
We have always found the entertainment not to be the best for our age range but we enjoyed what we did see this time. We had Jon Fisher as Gary Barlow, he was brilliant, Freddy Mercury tribute was brilliant, a ventriloquist who was so funny, we couldn't stop laughing all way through the act. We loved accent on top deck too. We didn't use any of the other bars as we were mainly in breakers or up on top deck while the weather was lovely.
New Years Eve on top deck was brilliant, unfortunately our dinner service wasn't very good in Oriental which meant the kids didn't eat until 10.10pm and no one come to tell us that they had over cooked the food and started again, it was only when we told them we were a bit disappointed. This meant we got up to top deck late and there were no seats. We sat with a family we made friends with and had to get the chairs that recline to be able to sit down, but everyone was doing this. Darcey Bussell was on board and on stage with the captain and we let the new year in.
Overall a brilliant cruise and our best by far. We usually put down a future down payment while on board but we decided not to as we want to come to the Caribbean again but I find it hard fitting it in with the kids holidays except over Christmas, they wanted £10k to go this year on Britannia, but I need to pay some of this cruise off first, so it will be a land based holiday for us for a year or two and maybe going back in two years.
The cabin is a good size when the Pullmans are up. Both daughter hit their head on the Pullmans several times and then daughter cut her head open on the corner of the Pullman where you walk through to table and balcony area. Cabin steward was great and padded it for us but they need to be looked at really. Apart from that good size and comfortable, we had the same cabin on Ventura. Balcony a decent enough size to sit out too