Azura Fun in the Park

April 5, 2009
P&O Cruises Azura Children played games with the kids' club staff, adults enjoyed spa treatments and fantastic food and drink was served to all –- no, this wasn't on a cruise ship, but at the swanky Belvedere Restaurant in London's Holland Park.

The reason behind this weekend gathering was in fact to give media and their families a glimpse of what life onboard P&O Cruises' newest ship, Azura, will be like when it launches next year.

Set to debut in April 2010 in Southampton, the 116,000-ton, 3,080-passenger ship, is being promoted as going "back to the future" and the roots of cruising that P&O passengers enjoy.

Although no further news was revealed on the ship, it was a great opportunity to see what will be on Azura.

Highlights of the event included:

Wine tasting sessions with vibrant TV wine expert Olly Smith who will create The Glass House, a restaurant and wine bar on the ship. Guests (including myself) were lucky enough to sample £400 bottles of wine as Smith explained the history behind each glass. Smith said he is currently in the process of choosing the wines and cocktails to go in The Glass House and in other onboard bars. He said drinks will vary seasonally and by destination, but from my own experience, I am sure this venue will a hit with wine lovers onboard.

Spa treatments were being offered to showcase the services that will be on the Oasis Spa on Azura. From manicures to massages, guests were given 15 minute R&R sessions.

Although the ship isn't specifically geared for youngsters (like sister ship Ventura), children were in their element at this weekend's event with face painting, Noddy television programmes being shown and games out in the park with the Reef Kids' Club staff.

A growing entertainment trend on many ships, Azura will feature a Nintendo Wii room and this weekend children and adults alike were able to play on the games console on a big screen.

Other highlights of the ship include single cabins, an adults-only sun deck sanctuary called The Retreat and an Indian Restaurant, Sindhu overseen by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar.

Bookings for Azura's inaugural season began on 30 March 2009. Early-bird pricing is available through 18 April and onboard credit/free parking offers are available through 30 June.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor