To begin with, it’s only fair to say that all things considered, our time with the P&O Azura on this 15 night Caribbean cruise was good. The crew, accommodation, facilities and entertainment were excellent. The restaurant food was most agreeable, however, it took us four days to get the freedom dining that we wanted. Initially, we had been assigned a late sitting, fixed table with fellow diners that were at least 30 years older than us. No disrespect to these people, but we had nothing in common largely due to the age gap and conversation was very stilted. When assigning tables I think the restaurant team should try and aim to have similar aged people wherever possible.
As the cruise developed, there were numerous problems and events which made it unforgettable for all the wrong reasons (prompting one passenger we overheard in the atrium to call this the ‘jinxed cruise’). For us, it all started with the transfer coach from Manchester to Southampton which was struck by a pheasant. Speeding along the motorway, the coach collided with the hapless bird which smashed the windscreen forcing the coach driver to halt the journey at a service station until a replacement coach could be organised. This meant that we arrived as the ship was almost about to sail. However, in the embarkation terminal, we found that owing to some sort of IT issue, we could not be processed and so had to wait for what seemed like an eternity until we eventually boarded Azura. Because we then had to attend the lifeboat safety drill, it meant that the first day was pretty much over.
A few days later at Ponta Delgada (Azores), the ship developed a technical issue which meant that we couldn’t depart and so had to spend another day in this unexciting port. Mechanical issues happen with something as complex as a cruise ship and the captain did his best to expedite things and get us on our way. However, because we were so delayed it meant that we had to cruise as fast as possible in a constant attempt to catch up. Despite this, we were delayed in getting to our next port of call and so had less time there than expected. Later in the cruise, we were shocked when an announcement was made that there had been an accident ashore in Dominica and one of the passengers had been killed. There was a road traffic incident in which their sightseeing mini-van was involved in a collision. There were apparently several injured passengers along with the passenger fatality. The driver was also killed. This was really sad news and to be honest, it was worrying since it was reported that some of the busses used for trips had seatbelts that were less than ideal and witnesses said that seatbelts had mechanisms that was so badly rusted they couldn’t close. Again, something P&O need to investigate thoroughly.