Choose this cruise in 2020 as liked the itinerary and the idea of crossing Atlantic. Unknown to the joining 500 in Barbados on 18 & 19 March the ship already had Civif amongst guests who had finished Caribbean sector, the Crew especially waiting staff etc and booked Entertainment. Getting to ship however was like the Crystal Maze. Totally understand P&O wanting to create a safety bubble of guests flying from UK Airports . After already be stressed getting PCR, immigration, passenger location etc etc done within 72 hrs you had to have another lateral flow test day of travel. Flying from Gatwick meant you had to find the bus that then drove away from airport to nearby town to a car parking lot. Have the test , if passed board bus again back to North Terminal. P&O did say it may take an hour plus but failed to say how far away it was, what passengers did with luggage and for us failed to cater for disabled or vulnerable. Other airports P&O did tests at airport. There was no signage to guide you to the bus at bus stop 16 at Gatwick. For an future passengers its around the corner from 15 around 300 metres! Once you had the "Passed " label on your passport the next challenge is check in! At this point you had no idea how low numbers were flying out to join Azura in Barbados. Luckily P&O have a seperate Tui check in at Gatwick. Jumping hoops again, twice you have to produce all your documents, vaccinations, PCR, Barbados Immigration etc etc. Stressful especially if you are still waiting PCR result. We used Tui service but still were waiting results: they arrived at 5am as we got up at hotel at Gatwick. Gatwick service is another story . So no one from P&O had informed us that Azura had Covid even when completing your personal planner on their App for meals, entertainment, trips etc. All passengers boarded the Tui flight unaware that all out hardworking to create a Covid Bubble was going straight into a Covid environment.. All good with flight, lovely new plane only 3rd full, loads of space so dont always pay the extra to book a seat in advance. Tui staff brilliant and hospitality.
Greeted at Barbados Airport and transferred to ship . No one at boarding check mentioned Covid. No crew greeting us mentioned Covid. Everyone boarded and accepted the mask wearing rules unaware what was to come. On the Saturday guests that had done 2 week Caribbean cruise said about Covid on Azura and that some guests were moved to Cunard Victoria ship which was moored off the Port ! The blue " Isolation Area" stickers were easily visible at Terrace Pool at stern of ship. The Captain made no comment about Covid in his welcome speech as the ship set sail for Gran Canaria but did say he and his crew would not be attending the stature Captains Gala. Rumours were now circulating regards Covid, the entertainment schedule you booked on line and meals were cancelled on your Planner. Again no full explanation but on questioning P&O holiday bookings on board Charlotte nearly confirmed the reason but stopped at saying technical issues. Second day in all passengers were summoned by deck levels to attend another Covid test, lateral flow test provided by James Reid and his team. Having had regular tests and vaccines it was worrying to see testing staff dressed in FULL PPE. Full being mask, visor, gloves and in a plastic suit! When asked about results you were told to leave and would be contacted. Rather odd and behaviour adding more confirmation to now common talk amongst guests. P&O Reception started calling out passengers names and to contact reception. It was clear that these persons had either failed test or required another. Project Screen of Prentics were clearly employed by P&O to test passengers, crew and entertainers. James Reid being in charge of this Covid testing when confirming his job quite happily denied there being any Isolation signs on doors, that any one in quarantine was at front of ship, that there was not a Covid problem , that his integrity was being questioned and that he did not get to know who actually tested positive for Covid but happily said he tested the crew. So your team test but you do not know numbers failing so how do you know when to.retest people?? Clearly Mr Reid was quite happy to mislead when asked directly if a Covid outbreak was on Azura and that the Captain did not know and these passengers and crew on deck 12 from cabins 600 upwards did not exist at the stern of the ship. That P&O happily let passengers joining Azura in Barbados onto a live Covid contaminated ship, that guests has imagined fact that she had sailed Caribbean for 2 weeks with guests becoming ill. To make the insult worse when approaching Gran Canaria the Spanish Authorities refused the ship to dock and let passengers off. This also included Cadiz. The Captain made this announcement but was quite happy to say he was getting off with some crew and a new Captain was boarding. Guests watched as the German cruise ship opposite had passengers getting on and off. Once again we were lied too and the on coming Captain followed the same pattern. The ship was now going to be cruising from Barbados directly to Malta. Azura was refused because the ratio of passengers to Covid carriers exceeded the Spanish Authorities levels. Once sailing for Malta passengers had a letter delivered to cabin saying that P&O Head Office would over £150 per cabin per missed port as a goodwill gesture. This was future booking credit again no admission of Covid issue . At this point the restaurants that were open started an every other table system to sit down. This was employed in buffet but oddly not in main restaurant where upto 8 could sit or Costa coffee or in any of the bars. In Brodies you could sing karaoke only with mask on and face away from audience. Each time a singer started a cleaned mic piece was used. People sitting watching though could remove masks and sit next to each other and sing along. To be honest theres no point writing any more because its beyond belief what was happening and the denial. It comes to something when the Captain of the ship, the head of Covid testing happily deny theres a problem. Anyone who can write a positive feedback on this cruise and not notice the dishonest behaviour must have walked around with eyes and ears shut. When a singer happily admits he had just come out of quarantine for 2nd time, crew in quarantine; signs saying "Isolation Area "with food being left at cabin doors, guests coming out of quarantine and guests unable to fly home from Malta still in quarantine then according to P&O theres no Covid on board Azura. It's very likely that the on coming passengers for the first Mediterranean cruise will be exposed like us as the ship still had people in quaratine. This is not the service anyone should receive to be mislead , lied to, intelligence insulted and deny that there is a risk and to have that choice of exposure removed from you. Right up until boarding Azura we expected the cruise that we paid for like everyone else but were badly let down.Buffet was repetitive not all restaurants were open or activities or entertainment. Through the cruise things were removed but again never saying Covid restrictions. Line dancing stopped and not allowed to use laundry? It actually became so obvious you had to laugh at it.