Our first cruise on the Azura and last!
We flew from Gatwick to Barbados and joined the ship there.
We had to wait hours for our suitcases to be delivered to our cabin and then it was a rush to attend the muster drill and go for our evening meal.
We visited three islands on the first three days, two excursions booked directed with P & O prior to the holiday. Although the beaches we went to were fantastic (especially Tortola), the half day was not long enough and I could not understand why this was not offered for a full day.
We had 5 days at sea travelling to the Azores and found the ship could not cater for over 3000 people during the day. There were not enough sun loungers and those there were crammed in tighter than sardines. There were four areas where you could lay; noisy, smoking, children's/family and only two small areas which were peaceful (these were always full). The Retreat is adults only but you have to pay for the privilege!
Our cabin C418 had a balcony, unfortunately it was in the shade until mid afternoon). The bathroom smelt of stale urine if you switched the light/extractor fan off so therefore we left it on 24/7. On the last day we docked at Southampton at 6.30am but unfortunately there was no water to the cabins and we could not wash our hands, shower, brush teeth or indeed flush the loo. Although I had read that the ship had been refurbed a year prior, our room was a little grubby. The most amazing thing was on the last day we had to leave the cabin by 8am so we duly went for breakfast at 6.30am leaving our belongings on the bed etc and when we got back our bed had been changed ready for the next guests and our belonging placed back on the bed! In all of the years and all of the holidays we have taken not one hotel has used this practice and I found it very poor.
The food and service in the restaurants were fantastic until the last night when the staff actually "switched off", the service was extremely poor, the meals came out with items missing, unless you asked for the cheese board you were not offered, it was as though tips had been given so bye bye were ready for the next lot of passengers!
If you wanted to eat breakfast outside (which could have been a great start to the day), the only areas with tables and chairs which were near the restaurants were all smoking areas, so if you like a fag with your early morning cuppa .... yippee!
Our overall experience of days at sea (8 in total) were picturing one of the most deprived run down council estates with a bargain booze, McDonald's, pizza place, bookies and a Wetherspoons with a kids fun annex and voila it's the Azura!
Although we paid full price and therefore our expectations were high thus so disappointed, I would recommend you seek out the special offers if you want to have a glorified booze cruise on the Azura transatlantic cruise as you may get more of a value for money experience than we had.
Overall we would go to the Caribbean again and the Azores was lovely BUT never on a P&O ferry/booze cruise!
Smelt of stale urine, not hoovered during our stay and having picked up several long blonde hairs from he side of the bed I doubt it had been properly cleaned for some time!