Azura Cruise Review by Huntworth
- Sail Date: April 2017
- Destination: Europe
We arrived at Southampton and joined the lengthy queue for CPS parking. After about 30 minutes we were processed and heading for embarkation in the Mayflower terminal. We had been given a check in time of 3.00 p.m. and this is the time we were given. We had over an hour to wait. The terminal was complete chaos with disgruntled passengers trying to find seating. There is one only vastly overpriced venue to purchase refreshments. At least at an airport there is a choice. There were constant announcements about not blocking the check-in queues and to wait in the seated areas. We eventually reached check-in at 3.25 and then the trek through security. On board at last, we tried to get a beer only to be told the bars were shut because the safety drill was about to take place. Some joke – there were still dozens of people waiting to embark. Our cabin was very nice surprise. A superior balcony on D Deck. A spacious cabin with defined lounge area. Perks included robes, slippers and towels that were actually big enough plus a bottle of champagne and a box of chocs. Our mood lightened until Safety Drill. Our muster station was the Glass House. The stewards on the stairs really didn’t seem to know where to send people. We attempted to get through to the Glass House, only to be told to go down one more deck, which we knew was wrong. We were then sent back up again only to be told again we were in the wrong place! We made our way to the Glass House and were ordered to stand on the carpet outside as the place was so packed. The muster drill was as chaotic as the Mayflower terminal. It simply isn’t feasible to ram so many people into such a small space; all brandishing life jackets. Despite being told not to put jackets on some people did which made space tighter than ever. I hate to think what would happen in a real emergency.
We had been assigned Freedom Dining and on the first night had a table for two but after that shared with others since again the queues were endless. The food is all plated and portions are small. The days of taking a photo of your plate to send to your friends are well and truly over as far as P & O are concerned! Service was slow and noisy in the restaurant –presumably through understaffing. On the last night I had to send calves’ liver back because I couldn’t cut it!
We had early room service continental breakfast, which was good. We went to the buffet later on and the choice was limited to typically British.
Lunch. We ate in the buffet – mostly on salad because the cooked fare was very processed. One good addition is the Grab & Go servery on deck, where you could get a filled roll and a pudding.
We ate in the Glass House once which was mediocre and in the Beach House were the cover charge of £7.50 each was well worth it and we had excellent fillet steaks.
Drink. This time we found drink prices expensive. Two glasses of Shiraz at lunch came to over £13 in the buffet – in plastic glasses to boot!
Ports. At La Rochelle there were not sufficient shuttle buses and it was taken over an hour queuing in the cold wind, so we reluctantly gave up
Bilbao. The ship docked at Getxo which is quite a long way from Bilbao and there was a free shuttle. We have been to Bilbao several times and hoped to we be dropped off nearer the old town but we weren’t and were left in a back street not close to anything of interest. So we caught the bus back and regretted not taking a local service for 8 euros into Getxo which actually looked quite inviting.
La Coruna. A firm favourite with us. Always something new to discover. We decided on a local circular tour at 15 euros each and then went to El Rey del Jamon for the most amazing serrano and cheese.
Entertainment. If you’ve sailed with P & O before, nothing much changes.
There were a lot of children on board, who monopolised the pools but this was to be expected at Easter.
Weather. On the whole was good except approaching La Coruna and leaving when at one point the wind got up to Storm Force 10. The Azura creaked and groaned all night and we did not get any sleep.
Our overall opinion. Having been on Arcadia at New Year and experienced similar embarkation difficulties and not really having anything good to review, we now feel our disillusionment with P & O was not limited to Arcadia. We feel that P & O are stuck in a time warp and relying on past passenger loyalty. Sorry to report that we are finally about to jump ship and continuing our cruising with other more progressive cruise lines, where there is genuine concern for passengers.
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