First impressions of the Azura was that it was massive and the check-in was straight-forward and not much waiting around. The room was satisfactory in size and amenities but our 12-month old was soon to find another child's leftover chocolate buttons near the patio doors and chomped on them! We didn't say anything because we did not want to start off moaning about the cruise that had only just left dock. We were greeted with a little bowl of freesias and a bottle of champagne which we opened immediately and stood on the balcony looking forward to the rest of our holiday. We also had a complimentary box of chocolates to go with the champagne which went down really nicely.
Buffet breakfasts were a free-for-all with too many people wandering around looking for tables with trays of food and really sad faces that they couldn't find anywhere to sit. There were too many trying to help themselves at the buffet too with lots of 'oops sorry' or nothing at all when someone just decided to push in. Very very clean and everybody used the sanitizer to cleanse their hands before touching plates and food utensils. This was repeated at lunch time and evening buffet although these times seemed to flow easier with not that much over-crowding. On this note, we chose to go into the main restaurant where you are shown to your table and served breakfast of your choice. This was much easier for us as we have a baby who needed a high chair and a young son also, so getting up and down to the buffet to serve all of us was too much of a struggle in the rush hours.
My son loved the kids' club and I would also highly recommend this to all parents. Our baby could go with us into a play area but was too young to be looked after by any of the clubs apart from the nursery where he once went when he was asleep in his pushchair and we were given a pager for the staff to contact us if he woke up. That just gave us a bit of a chance to walk around the ship to get a feel of things.
The announcement about sunbeds not being reserved was made by one of the officers on a regular basis. They don't want you to reserve sunbeds and say that anything left on a sunbed whilst being away from it for over 10 minutes or so, will be removed. This did not stop the usual crowd 'owning' their spots. The sunbeds were far too close to each other and getting through them with a pushchair was sometimes impossible.
Entertainment was very good if you wanted it. We listened to a guest speaker, a comedian, a soul group and another singer and found them all to be fabulous.
Drink prices are the same or a bit cheaper than our local at home, so no extortionate prices to worry about really.
Bar tenders and all waiters were absolutely wonderful and friendly. Somebody else on here wrote that the waiters did not smile, but honestly, you can't help smiling at them yourself because they are so so friendly, believe me. We had been on the Oriana 5 years ago and the experience was one to remember. We thought the Azura would be the same with the added bonus of being a bigger, brand new ship. We were wrong about this. We definitely prefer a smaller ship as the staff to passenger ratio is higher. I did not rate the dining experience in club dining to be anywhere near the standard on the Oriana. When we went to enquire about booking on the Oriana for the future, we were told that it has now become child-free so no more P & O Cruises for us I am afraid. A lot of people we spoke to told us that Royal Caribbean is a far better cruise on the whole.
Oh, and beware! The Spa staff are like flies around you when you have been out on a trip - they think you need a foot soak in a mud bath or a massage. Perhaps we do, but they definitely know where to strike. I was stung a few times too many.
If you don't mind spending £9000.00 for a family of 2 adults, 1 child aged 8 years and a baby of 12 months for a 4-star overcrowded hotel, then this may well be for you.
Perfect position on ship (deck 9 of 18), comfortable, soundproof, nice balcony, lovely curtains and bedding, carpet a bit grubby, limited drawer space