Having previously sailed the Baltic in Arcadia, we decided on this fly cruise to New Orleans, Florida and the Caribbean over Christmas.
We flew from Birmingham Int Airport which was overflowing, took us over an hour in the queue to get to the check in desk. When we finally took off, we were at least half an hour late. The flight was extremely long, eleven hours in total due to weather conditions, but mercifully quite smooth with little turbulence.
We arrived at New Orleans airport, and the immigration procedure was mercifully quick, on the coach to Azura, and another fairly quick embarkation process.
We decided to go to the Restaurant for a bite to eat as airplane food isn't exactly enormous and we were fairly hungry. After a tasty meal we returned to our cabin to unpack.
The time was now gone ten thirty and no sign of the cases. We waited, and waited. Finally I rang reception and after twenty minutes I finally got through. I explained our dilemma regarding the cases and was asked for a description and cabin number. They would, I was told, ring me back with any news. As anxiety rose between us regarding the lack of luggage, and the prospect of spending Christmas in our travelling clothes, my Wife sat on the bed close to tears. Not a good start. We waited and waited with no forthcoming phone call until about 1am when my wife heard a noise outside the door. We opened the door to find our cases just left there, no knock or phone call. Whoever left them there must have bolted as there was no sign of anyone outside! More than a little miffed and very tired from the extremely long day we literally fell into bed after unpacking, (we had a trip booked the next morning and had to be up early).
Our cabin was pleasant enough but markedly smaller than ours on Arcadia. The balcony was smaller also. We had two recliners but only one footstool. The bathroom (shower) was clean, but there was a smell of urine from the w/c which was present all of our trip.
Christmas Day arrived, and so did a sore throat for my Wife. Boxing Day delivered mine also. These quickly developed into really horrible chesty coughs and colds. I also developed an infection in both eyes. We then began to notice a dawn chorus of coughing all along the starboard side of the ship. I met our neighbours on the balcony's who were in exactly the same state as we were in. We were healthy before we set out, but felt dreadful two days in. Talking to a member of staff we learned that quite a few of them had been taken off duty ill. We have been home now two days, and are still not fully well. We caught similar bugs whilst on Arcadia, one of the downfalls of cruising I suppose.
We soldiered on, determined not to let this setback spoil our holiday which we had paid a lot of money for. The trips were mainly very good but we felt overpriced, one in Puerto Rico was really poor for what we paid.
We elected for Freedom Dining which worked well for us. The first dining session we shared a table with six older folk who when realised that we weren't interested in talking about Golf or Cricket all evening, pointedly ignored us. Not wishing to repeat this we were lucky enough to be allocated a table for two for the remainder of the journey. We found the meals both in the restaurant (Meridian) and the buffet to be excellent generally, with attentive and pleasant staff throughout.
The entertainment from the Headliners was very good we thought, and Gareth ( a semi finalist on Britain's got talent) was excellent. Also good was Mick Miller, a comic from the old school who had us in fits of laughter which really hurt after all that coughing! We can't comment on the Christmas and New Years Eve parties as we were too unwell to join in sadly.
Overall we felt that the Azura had more than a tinge of Butlins about it, not helped by the silly noisy games and the ludicrously over the top leaving port party involving Brittania which was berthed alongside in Granada. The din was deafening even with the cabin doors shut! We are very young at heart retirees who enjoy rock music and we're certainly not stuffy, but this was more suited to the Ibiza club scene!
So here we are now back home having paid not much under £9,000 inc trips. Sure, we've been to some wonderful places but never again. This has finished us with cruising. Two cruises and gotten ill on both has drawn a line under a less than pleasant experience.
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