Service was excellent, with helpful and courteous staff throughout the ship.
This was our second cruise to the Fjords with P&O having been last year on Britannia, but this time were were introducing the In-Laws to the delights of cruising and they wanted to see the Fjords....
Cabin was good – C753 – at the stern, with larger than usual balcony for a Balcony cabin. We took this as it was only a couple of doors away from our in-laws who were staying in a rather nice suite – C749, which had a stupendous balcony. Both at the rear of the ship with great views as cruise along, looking back over the wake.
Both cabins will be noisier than one down the side – simply because of the wake – but it is an almost soporific calming noise, with only exception being the arrival/departure at a port as thrusters etc are used. But it did not bother us at all. Perhaps makes conversation a bit more difficult on the balcony when under way, but again didn’t bother us.
Food was very good – we ate breakfast in the buffet (always up too late for the sit down restaurant!) – I would note that whilst it can get crowded at times you always end up finding a table. Parents being early risers had proper sit down breakfast which suited them – they would not have enjoyed the buffet scrum (which is not as bad as it sounds).
For dinner we were Freedom Dining in Meridian, where staff were very friendly, and food was super – especially recommend the fish dishes. And the curries are almost always excellent – the Tikka Marsala being the tastiest I have had the pleasure of. Just occasionally the food perhaps was a bit less hot than would be expected - but it did not detract from our enjoyment - after all Masterchef tastes the food cold :)
Entertainment was probably our one disappointment – we felt that whilst there was plenty, it was very similar – and was certainly missing some of the quality/variety that we enjoyed on a similar cruise last year on Britannia.
The ship is a really nice, friendly ship – certainly better than we had envisaged. A shame it does not have a front facing bar – such as the Crows Nest etc on other ships – but the Planet Bar at the back, on Deck 18 was very good – and the Tides Duo were excellent musician/singer combo (with added fun of one of the waiters standing in when the singer was poorly!)
Itinerary was good – Stavanger is delightful, with the Sardine Canning Museum a must see, Alesund a very pleasant town, with great views rewarding those walking up the 400+ steps, and funky heated public benches by the best fish & chips. Olden was our perhaps least anticipated port of call (with the exception that the cruise in and out of the fjord (60 miles each way) is spectacular), having been before and been underwhelmed by the Briksdal Glacier – but to our delight a new Cable Car – the Loen SkyLift has opened up – and whilst expensive it provided the most amazing views over the Nordfjord and surrounding lands, including glaciers – providing a 990m lift up from sea level to a superb viewing station with accompanying restaurant, and well marked paths for additional exercise. It was the icing on the cake as it provided an alternative spectacular view that you don’t get from the ship – and boy did the ship look small from over 3,000ft up! Bergen is nice, and easy to get around. Both ways across the North Sea we were blessed with calm seas.
Overall a good value cruise – good itinerary, with drinks still priced sensibly on the ship.
Azura is a brighter more cruise-like ship than Britannia (which however has better facilities but is rather beige and dull in places).
We didn't try the internet - but it will be the usual quality which will not be up to a home users expectations as it is not cable based (I wonder why:)) but rather satellite - which having worked in the industry is not as capable. Anyone expecting better should know better :)
At the aft of the ship, with a much larger balcony than a normal Balcony grade cabin - which was superb - you could easily get four people sitting outside if you had the chairs. Obviously noisier underway due to the wake gurgling away ..... but that was part of the attraction. Room good size - no sofa - but didn't bother us. Bathroom was a shower (snug with curtain as normal).
Embarkation - usual good efficiency. part of the reason for choosing the cruise.
A lovely town, a great example of Norway - with a superb Sardine Canning Museum that is so well done.
Another great Norwegian port - nice walk up 400+ steps brings you to a great view over the town. Superb fish & chips from a snack shack by the river/waterside, along with heated public benches... what more could you want!
We had been here before and were expecting this to be the least fulfilling of ports - it is after all just a small jetty, with an equally small village to boot - and last time we had been underwhelmed by the Briksdal Glacier - an almost sad sight given how much it has shrunk. With our elderly relatives we did not think it was a good option to head to Briksdal and so were ready to chill on the ship with a short potter ashore.... so imagine our delight to stumble across the newly opened (this year by the Queen of Norway) Loen SkyLift.
The Loen SkyLift is expensive but it has some real advantages
1. It is very close - only a ten minute transfer by coach.
2. Easy access for less mobile persons
3. Oh wow the views.... you are carried up by Cable Car 990m (that is over 3,000ft which is almost the height of Snowdon......)
4. Superb viewing platform - where you get a truly spectacular alternative view of the Nordfjord and surrounding area, including the glacier field in the mid-distance.
5. A nice restaurant at the top (Norwegian prices but it is Norway....)
6. Access to easy paths to explore further along the top of the mountains.
7. We just purchased tickets from the office on the jetty when we got off - probably £60 per person... so not cheap but no more than a typical shore excursion.
This provided one of the highlights for our parents - a different stunning view, which combined with the 60 mile cruise along the fjord itself makes this possibly one of the best destinations now in Norway on a big ship.