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Sail Date: January 2010
Just returned from the caribbean on board the azura 8th-22nd.No negatives i am not the usual Brit!From east midlands airport and back it was a wonderful experience. Waiters excellent and polite, cabin boy superb nothing to much ... Read More
Just returned from the caribbean on board the azura 8th-22nd.No negatives i am not the usual Brit!From east midlands airport and back it was a wonderful experience. Waiters excellent and polite, cabin boy superb nothing to much trouble.Playhouse theatre, headliners were great, Tom Jones tribute fantastic. After dinner speakers very informative.Decor throughout the ship excellent.Food in venetia loads of choice and varied small queues did not bother us as we are patient people.Peninsular 4.00 tea very nice indeed,we were on Freedom dining waited no longer than 15 minutes any night, a great excuse for a drink while we waited.Cabins had hairdryers topped up shower gel.Twinings tea,egberts coffee,buiscuits replenished everyday.Drink prices cheaper than at home.Destinations all had something different. Yes it did rain on my trip to the RAIN FOREST!That made it all the more real.Went on the Rhum runner trip unforgettable party time.Did st kitts railway you will see how the locals live and are blissfully happy. We also did the snorkel sensation what a sensation it was. All other trips were done by local taxi, go anywhere you want at a reasonable cost, drivers are very informative,very funny as well, they all return you to the ship if you want to.I heard people moan about the food,I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THEY EAT AT HOME!One lady moaned about the ship that had just docked had blocked her window view. I could write more, but just to finish it was a holiday of a lifetime for us, we were so grateful to be able to afford this holiday and Azura and the Caribbean made our dream come true, thank you. Just enjoy, thats what holidays are all about! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I've been meaning to write this review for ages, having read so many prior to departure!We had an absolutely amazing time on Azura. We travelled with my parents and my brother, his wife and our 4 year old niece in addition to our ... Read More
I've been meaning to write this review for ages, having read so many prior to departure!We had an absolutely amazing time on Azura. We travelled with my parents and my brother, his wife and our 4 year old niece in addition to our little girl who turned 7 months when on board.We opted for a balcony stateroom which had plenty of space, even with all the baby paraphernalia we had to take with us. P&O provided a travel cot and bottom sheet and we took our own blankets and a sleeping bag for the baby. We ended up moving the easy chair to the wardrobe space just to free up some more floor space for the cot but we didn't feel too cramped and of course having the balcony made all the difference. P&O also provided a baby bath and would have given us a steriliser too but we took our own.The ship is beautiful, all very modern with the classic touches you would expect from a British ship. Not as OTT as Royal Caribbean but lovely none the less. You can always find a quiet spot and as the weather wasn't so good when we were there there were no fights over sun loungers etc.The sail aways were great fun, a few of the usual moaners complaining that the music was too loud and the kids were having too much fun but you get them everywhere don't you...The food was brilliant. I read some reviews about it being disappointing before we left but its a damn sight better than most hotels I have been too and often better. The pizzeria is a really good idea for a quick snack and you could basically eat 24 hours a day if the mood took you and judging by some of the people we saw the mood definitely did!We ate twice in sindhu and once in Seventeen. Both were exceptional but we preferred Sindhu due to the uniqueness of the flavours and dishes. (tikka massala it ain't)! The main dining room was very good too, a couple of times things were a bit disappointing but certainly not inedible and you could always ask for something else.The staff were fantastic. They could not do enough for us and everyone took time to speak to us and our little girl. She had a great time being fussed over by all the staff, many of who have young families that they don't see for 10 months of the year. P&O provided baby food on board although there were often things on the buffet that we simply mushed up for her.We barely saw our 4 year old niece as she spent most of her time in the kids club; pirate day, mr bump day, spooky day etc were just some of the themes they had. She had a brilliant time and is already talking about going back on a big ship soon! There is also a playroom for the under 2's that you can use during the day and turns into the night nursery after 6pm. We did try to use the night nursery a couple of times and found plenty of spaces. However our little one didn't settle very well so for the rest of the cruise we used the baby listening on the phone, ringing up every 10 mins and doing a physical check every 45 mins. We just asked the cabin steward not to make up our room in the evening and he was happy not to!The ports of call we visited were good and we had plenty of time to look around. We went on a couple of trips but with a young child and being tied into meal times and naps etc we found it easier to do our own thing for the majority of the ports.The entertainment was mixed. It is generally an older clientele on board (60ish) and as such the acts etc were geared towards them. The shows were quite good with the exception of Foxwell Flax (spelling) who was an impressionist with a repertoire of 1960's and 1970's impressions. Not really our cup of tea. Martyn Daniels (pauls son) was very good as were the headliners group.I think P&O are really missing a trick when it comes to catering for the younger passengers on board (and by younger I mean those in their 30's and 40's). The talks during the day were dull; an ex policeman talking about his career (my husband is a policeman and he said half the stuff he was saying was a load of rubbish anyway) and a biologist who when we walked past was talking about micro organisms in slime!Brodies the pub had a couple of fun quizzes in the evening but the entertainment staff spend so long explaining the rules between every question as though you are 5 years old that what should be a 30 minute quiz turns into an hour and a half and the fun is somewhat lost.All in all we had a fantastic time. Don't listen to the moaners. It's a great ship with excellent facilities and the staff could not do enough for us. So credit where credit's due. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We (Cathy & Ian) were so looking forward to our 15 night Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from Fort Lauderdale on 21 April but the Icelandic volcano stopped us travelling to the USA. We were very proactive and were able to get ... Read More
We (Cathy & Ian) were so looking forward to our 15 night Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from Fort Lauderdale on 21 April but the Icelandic volcano stopped us travelling to the USA. We were very proactive and were able to get a transfer from Princess to P&O and almost the last cabin on Azura leaving Southampton on 28 April instead. We have only cruised twice before, both in the Med with RCI. We hope that our review will be an honest attempt to review the Azura and compare and contrast P&O and RCI. We have future cruises booked with both companies for later this year and 2011. We soon noticed a huge difference between the 'customers' on board Azura and those we had cruised with on RCI. The average age of the cruisers on P&O must have been 20 years older and there were many disabled people on the ship. The staff were fantastic and dealt with the elderly and disabled passengers with patience and understanding, so we would definitely recommend P&O for its service to these groups. We'll get the negatives out of the way first: 1. The promenade deck did not go all the way around the ship so had its limitations as a jogging track, especially when all the smokers congregated outside - why don't cruise ships restrict smoking more? 2. We thought that the buffet meals at breakfast and lunch were not as good as RCI - couldn't find a bagel or any cream cheese on the ship for instance, and the serving areas were very cramped. We didn't think the staff were very friendly either at these times. 3. The number of photographers who continually tried to take your photos became very annoying after a couple of days. 4. Don't expect to get a seat in any lounge area during the day if the weather isn't too good. We have never seen so many people drink so much tea over so long a period before! 5. The staff in bars were not as friendly as those on RCI, although we did appreciate the lower cost of most drinks (no added 15% to the bill). 6. Some of the P&O regulars (they think P&O stands for 'Posh and Offensive' and behave like that all the time) weren't friendly at all, especially over dinner so we tried not to share a table if we could avoid it. We also thought that, for us, there were too many formal nights (4) although we appreciate that this is very popular with many passengers (on this cruise they seemed to be P&O again, 'Pretentious & Overweight'.) 7. The Retreat spa: great idea but we didn't see many people using it and those who had paid a lot of money for it as a package seemed to regret the cost as there was little value for money. The problem as we see it is that if the weather is good then there are too few spa beds in the sunshine and if the weather is poor then the covered area is too cold. Time for some positives: 1. Gym was fantastic and had a great view if you were using the aerobic machines. 2. Open air cinema was excellent, even blankets if it was cold. 3. We chose Freedom Dining which meant we could turn up at any time for our evening meal. If we wanted a table for two (which we did most of the time) and it was busy you were given a pager. We didn't wait more than 20 minutes on any night for a table. However, Freedom Dining is a bit of a misnomer. Even though you are sat at a table for two you are always very close to tables either side of you and you are served in tandem with those table around you so you quickly realise that the pace of your meal will be determined by how many courses those tables near you order and how quickly (or on this cruise) how slowly your fellow diners eat! 4. The food in the main restaurant was excellent with a varied choice and a 'default' menu which always had a plain chicken or beef option. Puddings were exceptional. The Head Chef was very visible throughout the cruise and was paying great attention to the standards of service in all restaurants. 5. Speciality restaurants were superb and well worth the extra costs. We ate twice at Sindhu and thoroughly recommend it. Not a 'spicy' Indian restaurant but very subtle flavours, the Indian wine was good too. Our second night there was slightly spoilt by a very unfortunate P&O regular ('Prickly & Obnoxious') who was incredibly rude to the very helpful staff. '17' was also very good, we wish we had had a second night there as well. The Glasshouse was excellent, very different wines to try and a relaxed atmosphere, if you could get a seat when the tea drinkers went for a pee! 6. Entertainment: this obviously depends on your taste. A word of warning for you P&O regulars - you will have probably seen most of the comedians and tribute acts an another P&O cruise. However, we really enjoyed the tribute acts (Elton John, George Michael and Phil Collins) plus most of the other cabaret singers. Peter Piper was a terrific comic but some of the others were a throwback to the 1970's but not in a good way. Toyah Wilcox was also a guest speaker. The cruise singers/dancers were very professional and versatile. Jason the pianist is also worth a mention for his hard work in various bars and with the choir. 7. Cathy really enjoyed the cruise choir, which practiced 3/4 times during the cruise and performed on the last formal night and again at the talent show on the final night. 8. Neil the Cruise Director was a real star. However, we are split on the 'Sailaways' every evening at 5.30 ish whenever we left a port. Ian hated them but Cathy generally enjoyed them although the choice of music became very repetitive 9. Our steward Arlindo was a star. He was always there when we needed him and was incredibly efficient, we came back from breakfast one morning and the room had already been cleaned. 10. We did our own thing at most ports of call but did go on a wine tasting tour in Vigo. We thoroughly recommend this tour, it's only an hour's coach trip to the winery and the choice of drinks to sample is very good. You then go to a hotel for a tapas lunch and more (free) wine, great value for money. Overall we enjoyed our Canaries cruise and we would definitely cruise on the Azura again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
started with a drive to Southampton chronic traffic between the car park and ship the so called 10 min journey took over an hour. the check in was very efficient and fairly quick.Nothing on board to eat except tea/cakes until dinner. our ... Read More
started with a drive to Southampton chronic traffic between the car park and ship the so called 10 min journey took over an hour. the check in was very efficient and fairly quick.Nothing on board to eat except tea/cakes until dinner. our cabin was an inside on deck 12 well appointed but a little smaller than princess/celebrity. On the 1st night out a great deal of banging/clanging from midnight complained to the desk engineer sent up to listen they said they would come back to us. We had to go back to them to find out that there was indeed a problem that they were trying to resolve apparently one of the securing brackets had broken we were given a key to another inside cabin on deck 5 to enable us to sleep (apparently the only empty cabin on the ship). we were told that if it could not be fixed that they would move us to this cabin. this is what happened. We agreed with the chief of customer services suitable compensation. The ports of call were Madeira/la palma/grand canaria/tenerife/lisbon/vigo free shuttle buses were provided where necessary at all the ports which was a welcome change from some of the other cruise lines. we chose to do our own thing at all the destinations.there are tourist offices at all the stops and getting around and getting information is easy. The ship is brand new this was her second voyage after all the hype we found it disappointing in many ways. The central atrium is the smallest we have encountered on any ship (this was our 12th ship.)they use deck 5 as a dancing area for reasons only known to p&o. the library is small and doubles as an internet room the shops are ok but the whole area is congested with people who hang around watching the dancers below. The casino is very small and poorly equipped compared to other ships. there are 3 show areas the main theatre is excellent with no drinks tables or service. the other 2 however are badly thought out they are in reality bars with small stages and dancing areas the seating is organised in such a way that half the seats face away from the stage anything going on that attracts a crowd it is very difficult to find space to sit. there are 3 pools none are covered (BAD MISTAKE) an outside big screen showing films an adults only retreat(you pay extra 10 pounds on sea days) there are no decks at all that you can walk all the away around the ship. the pool areas are well equipped with sun loungers. Food: We opted for freedom dining there is one main restaurant allocated to you where the food is of excellent quality although the portions are very small you can of course ask for more. The buffets on deck 15 are great for breakfast although there is far fewer options compared to princess or celebrity but the lunchtime is abysmal not even up to the standard of a works canteen there is the option of pizza and hamburgers which are fine but it does involve a 50 yard trek if you wish to join your partner inside or to get tea /coffee /dessert. afternoon tea is served in one of the restaurants and is excellent. the speciality restaurants are sindu and seventeen we opted for seventeen which was exceptional and worth the 20 pound supplement. also at night one of the buffets is transformed into an Italian dining option which is very good quality.overall with the notable exception of lunch as good as any others and better than some. Entertainment: The main shows (5) performed by what they call the headliners theatre company were simply spectacular the best we have seen afloat they are as good as you will get in the west end of London. there were comedians all were very good as were the various singers pianists etc. We attended lectures that were interesting and well presented the only problem was the venue malibar with its lack of suitable seating. there were various other things throughout the day no lack of something to do. Notes: The usual problems of being pestered to buy drinks and pose for photographs got on our nerves the photos are expensive too. The crowd was very elderly indeed we are approaching 60 but were young compared to most on this cruise.The entertainment staff lead by director Neil Oliver were good.the weather was very mixed not much sunshine unfortunately the sea was however mainly calm.disembarkation was quick and efficient. Overall opinion: We feel that the ship has sacrificed a great deal of public space for cabins. as stated for such a big ship the central atrium is inadequate other cruise ships offer more and better facilities. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2010
After being shuffled like sheep in Southampton we went aboard the Azura. Excited and eager to enjoy ourselves we found our cabin inside stateroom. It was pleasant enough except the wardrobe was just a hanging rail. We went to get something ... Read More
After being shuffled like sheep in Southampton we went aboard the Azura. Excited and eager to enjoy ourselves we found our cabin inside stateroom. It was pleasant enough except the wardrobe was just a hanging rail. We went to get something to eat and found a cafe on level 5 serving tea/coffee and cakes at a cost. This was supposed to sustain us until dinner after missing lunch. The first night was ruined by banging and clanging so little sleep was had. We reported this to customer services several times for 10 days when they agreed to move us to another cabin. This was a lot quieter. The food was good although in the buffet areas it was difficult to find a seat and sometimes this would result in your food getting cold. The captain did not turn up to the welcome cocktail party until after we went to dinner. We did not get to our first port Malaga because he said it was too rough. The ship was not very stable as every little movement in the sea was felt. The shows were good - The theatre was a good venue but the other two venues were not suitable as the seating was arranged that people had their backs to the show. The big screen was a good idea but when the weather was bad you had to shiver to watch the films. The constant pestering of the staff trying to encourage you to buy drinks was annoying, there was no let up. We came to the conclusion that we would avoid P & O ships a this was a bad experience enough to put you off cruising. We had enough of queueing on this cruise and will go back to the smaller ships which we cruised on before. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We booked with a local travel agent and as our holiday came within their criteria as to cost we were provided with a taxi both ways. The taxi turned up on time at our home in Park Gate Fareham Hants. As first time cruisers we were not sure ... Read More
We booked with a local travel agent and as our holiday came within their criteria as to cost we were provided with a taxi both ways. The taxi turned up on time at our home in Park Gate Fareham Hants. As first time cruisers we were not sure as to the amount of clothes to take so erred on generous amount as we were advised we would not have to carry it anywhere as it so transpired as we turned up in Ocean Terminal 20 mins later, the taxi driver said just leave it all on the ground by the car and the porters will pick it up, what a difference from airports. After waiting a while after being issued with letter cards we checked in and joined the queue for embarkation. Once on ship we were directed to our cabin. Jocelyn our cabin steward came and introduced herself. We had lifejacket demo then went for a wander around the ship as we had never seen anything like it, the Atrium was stunning as were the numerous bars,shops and restaurants etc. We had opted for freedom dining as we felt this would suit our needs best, also prior to cruising heard some horror stories of being lumbered with unsuitable companions for all evening meals! The freedom dining worked out extremely well for the whole cruise and we had different neighbours each night which was really good,all the dining staff really helpful.The food was a very high standard and all very enjoyable, I especially, opted to try many types of food which I had not previously had eaten. We went to a number of the Playhouse Theatre shows, the Headliners especially were excellent,most of the other acts also being of a good quality.Although the Theatre could hold 800+ we found that the 7.30 and 9pm shows had long queues so we opted for 11pm show and walked in easily. We had our breakfast most days up on 15 in self service of Venezia & Verona. Although there were a lot of people we never had any troule with seating as we shared on most days and met many interesting people. The Sea Screen was a novel idea, in fact on one evening we watched Mamma Mia! Although we walked around we didn't have a dip in any of the pools as the weather was not that brilliant to feel it was a good idea, maybe another time. In the evening we split our time between the Blue Bar where we could listen to relaxing music to Manhattan watching entertainment and even participating in The Weakest Link,great fun. We enjoyed the atmosphere of the Planet Bar, very interesting either watching the large interactive video screens or looking out to sea. It was great on Formal and semi-formal evenings to see that the majority of people involved themselves and we enjoyed this. The Atrium with its staircases and glass lifts never failed to please the eye. We listened to various talks in Malabar. The Photo Gallery was always a popular place to be at.Being first timers we had many photos taken, probably next time far fewer. We set the alarm early to get up to see our arrival in Madeira and had breakfast in cabin as we were off on early coach trip round island. We went on several of the trips and felt they were fairly reasonably priced although we quickly learned after watching points and talking to other experienced cruisers that in future we can easily do our own thing far cheaper. We also got up very early to see our entrance into Lisbon as we had been told this was spectaculay especially going under the bridge. This was well worth it, we went up to 16 and watched the sunrise from over the bows of the ship, we were amazed how few people were there with us. still our gain others loss. When disembarking it was a bit of a crush although there were timed disembarkation times, but finding our luggage was very easy with many luggage trolleys available, back out to waiting taxi and on to home within the hour. This is just a short review of our cruise but suffice to say we are hooked and looking forward to end of Aug on Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
It came to pass that the Mighty P&O did invite all Portunus Gold Tier Members to a Walkabout tour of the latest addition to their Family . The Azura. The Pilgramage led 1500 of this august band to the impressive Ocean Terminal. And ... Read More
It came to pass that the Mighty P&O did invite all Portunus Gold Tier Members to a Walkabout tour of the latest addition to their Family . The Azura. The Pilgramage led 1500 of this august band to the impressive Ocean Terminal. And there she was resplendent in the Southampton Sun.These lovers of The Crows Nest,Andersons,el et assembled two by two waiting for embarkation.Old friends from bygone Cruises renewed aquaintances as they waited.Wise men Shepherds and Masons waited patiently.We were kitted out with our Boarding Pass swinging jauntily from a natty Lanyard.Ours was Green.The wife did say that it it did not match her shoes or bag but I assured her that no one noticed. So.After much sercurity checks we finally got a first real look at Azura. First The Atrium . Where have I seen that before ? Up and Up and Up to Decks 15,16 and 17 and The Coral Pool and Bar.Nice enough I suppose but nothing special.Except those Sun Loungers.Blue and Brown even I could appreciate that it would be difficult to match accessories.Then The Oasis Spa and The Retreat.It looks an absolute picture.Wicker Sun Loungers,Cabbanas all sheltered under a Canopy similar to that at Goodwood Races.All well and good I hear you say but how much ? Well I heard figures of £10/20 pp per day bandied about and that was just for entrance to this exclusive area.So boys if 'They' insist it may mean only single G n Ts for the duration of your Cruise.Many of the pieces of Equipment in Spa area looked painful but I am reliably informed by one who knows that it was the latest.So what do I know . The Accomodation.Starting at the top . The Suites.If Camelot does its duty I'll have one of these.Well equipped furnished and appointed.I might have trouble negotiating a path to the Thunder box for my nocturnal calls of nature but must say I liked this.Smashing Bose Stereo tucked away.On to the head [naval jargon for bathroom] expensive looking Seperate Shower Enclosure Spa Bath. Could just imagine the good lady scrubbing my back as the Bose belts out a bit of Ole Blue Eyes.'Strangers In The Night' Dooby Dooby Do.Did have a bit of a problem with the Balcony.Why on earth did P&O choose to showcase a Luxury Suite with a balcony that has a steel pillar protruding floor to ceiling.Try again. Nearly forgot the Walk In Wardrobe doubt if even she could fill this but no doubt she would give it her best shot. Balcony/ Outside. Again Well furnished nicely appointed.Walkin Wardrobe of sorts but practical .Smallish Bathroom usual facillities.Room for Biscuits and Tea and Coffee makings.Reasonable Drawer Space for the smalls etc. Overall very good but on the small side. Inside: Its OK but it is Inside and on the small side . Appointments Furnishings and Fittings similar to the Outside cabins.Small Bathroom you would have to take turns for your ablutions . Bars Etc.Have you been on Vetura ? Do you remember,how could you forget The Havana Club. Well they have done it again and called it Manhattan this time with Blue Strip Lighting.Reminded me of a Tanning Studio.And those Partitions high enough to test Red Rum.Poor sight lines.Not for me. Just along from Tan U like there is an Oasis of Calm and Serenity The Sindhu Restaurant.Very tasteful and if the food is as good as the surroundings you could be in for a treat . Next door we are transported to Morroco and The Malabar Night Club and bar.She didn't like the chairs but I felt a bit like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca but in colour.Room to cut a rug if you fancy a bit of Strictly.Just a pity about the constant flow of people passing through. Now The Glass House : A modern Wine Bar which I think also serves food.Will the P&O Grandees ,Dotties and old dears take to it?.I wonder. Then there is Brodies Pub Named after one of P&O Founders.Quite brash shares the area with The casino has a small stage big enough for say a Trio.I am not one for Pub Style Bars on ships but it is what it is . Certainly not the place for a quite drink.But I am more of an Andersons Man myself.It was a pity that we did not have time to see all of the Bars and facilities but I hope that I have given you a flavour of Azura. With our time running out we only had time to pop into The Playhouse Theatre.On three tiers similar to Ventura's Theatre.Looked to have good sight lines. The PA system announced that lunch was about tobe servered in The Meridian Restaurant. Like many of the features of Ventura Azura is very similar.The Meridian is no exception almost identical to The Cinnamon Restaurant on Ventura.Glass Partions tables for 2,4,6and 8.We were to be fine treated to a very meal so future Azurains you should have no complaints.The lady chose Atlantic Cod.No comment. I settled on a Smoked Salmon Platter followed by Lobster Scallops and King Prawns and just to be sociable a rather nice cheese board.To accompany this excellent fare we quoffed a couple of pleasant little wines.A Cheeky Chilean Shiraz[don't mention the Aussies] and a Saucy Pinot Grigo. During the course of this excellent lunch P&O's MD Carol Marlow gave a short speech. She explained that Azura had been designed with the Traditional P&O Passenger in mind and there would be Formal Semi Formal and a few Casual nights on all Cruises. Let us hope that that this is enforced. Although the speech was politely recieved I felt that most of the audience may have preferred a new Aurora or Oriana,but we do have The New Adomnia to look forward to and the jury are still counting the votes for Arcadia. But what of Azura. Overall she is very similar to Ventura perhaps the decorations are more subdued and I must say that the Carpetting throughout the ship is nothing short of spectacular particulary in the passenger corridors. The service in The Meridian was very good, not fast but unobtrusive and the waiters were excellent.Would I cruise on Azura Errrrr. One last point then I'll leave you to post your rude remarks.On our way from Azura we were presented with a Pen as a momento of our Visit.Think P&O must have bought them off the QVC shopping channel. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Travel This would be our seventh cruise and the first on a British ship with P&O. We decided on this trip as a celebration and commiseration for my partner Diane who was coming up to her 50th and this trip being a Baltic cruise meant ... Read More
Travel This would be our seventh cruise and the first on a British ship with P&O. We decided on this trip as a celebration and commiseration for my partner Diane who was coming up to her 50th and this trip being a Baltic cruise meant Diane would be in St Petersburg on her special day. Having attended the cruise show in London earlier in the year and chatting to the guys on the P&O stand followed by tasting their excellent wines had left me with the feeling that it was a real British experience and it felt rather like going back in time to better days. We journeyed down the previous evening and stayed at my sisters over night in Christchurch .We left for Southampton at about 12.30 which should have taken 40 odd minutes, but as related by other cruise chums on this site and allowing for the delays experienced by others we left with extra time in hand and we found the jams to the port which had been reported. Embarkation Our time of embarkation was from 2pl till 4pm and we were told not to arrive early as this would cause a bottle neck and create further problems this in mind we dutifully arrived at the Port having allowed for the traffic by just after the 2pm window. We had arranged with CPS parking to meet at the Port and found them straight away and they looked after us well and soon we were devoid of luggage and on our way inside the terminal. We were given a ticket and asked to sit and be patient as they had incurred a problem with the computers and were delaying the boarding. We sat and sat and finally after what seemed like hours our ticket colour was called and we were asked to board. I must say that the whole experience was like being in a new rather poor version of terminal five at Heathrow, bland, impersonal almost military. Stateroom - we choose as on a tight budget, as this will be one of three cruises this year an inside on A for Australia deck the 12th floor mid-ships 529 - on entering we were nicely surprised by what we found - larger than we had expected having read others opinions with a small dressing area hanging rails etc. very comfortable bed and nice dEcor. This was our home for two weeks and besides a slight vibration from what we thought was the air conditioning system which reverberated through the headboard which could be annoying and the noise from the same it was all tickete boo. Wilson was our attendant and a jolly fine fellow he was - polite helpful a tentative, kept pointing us in the right direction as he knew we were hopeless navigating around this rather confusing layout of a ship. The great thing which was a first for us was the jolly old Kettle and tea and coffee provided -plus very nice biscuits thank you. Ship info Having traced a missing suitcase (which somehow they had lost the attached label) down at reception we explored the ship and found it very pleasant and spick n span - but then the dreaded muster stations where the first announcement given by the invisible Captain of the ship suddenly stopped and we all stood like Muppets with the usual impatient Brit moaning and cursing while they tried to sort out the tanoy system in vain. The staff improvised and after a bit of a laugh we dutifully wandered of for our sail away. This was fun as the weather was kind enough to stay dry and warm enough to stay on top to listen to the brass band as we were played out of Port. So with a glass of champagne at £3 and a free union jack flag in hand we were on our way -all jolly good British stuff and fun. It didn't take us long to get the measure of where things were on the ship - I would say about 13days as they state all lifts face forward - not true most do not all - deck five aft is a no go except for the Oriental restaurant ---- they kept moving Bars around and sometimes the front of the ship the Bow was at the rear aft and visa versa - they moved my dining room several times just to confuse us this we put down to the dEcor being similar on both sides of the ship and the fact we suffer from what we call cruise brain. It switches off. The planet bar was a nice asset, somewhere to sit and gaze from on high watching the world go by and occasionally looking at the HD screens depicting different places of interest around the world. In the evenings on the Azamara Quest they had an excellent trio playing in their top bar and consequently it was quite full most evenings, where on this there might be only a few tables taken with a piano playing for a few hours, seemed a wasted opportunity for a great venue. This was made up for by the other bars that were usually full with the different acts they provided and there were lots to choose from. The theatre was as described by another rather bland and no waitress service which is why there is nowhere to put your drinks and felt rather cramped in comparison .The Glass house on the other hand was a very well thought out area which led you into it and great to sit relax and enjoy the good food and wine, of course at a cost but well worth it. We had dinner there one evening fish n chips in Batter for £4.95 and the three top wines French classic selection where one of the wines a Château Latour 2004 priced at £10 on its own was one of three excellent glasses of wine for £12.95 -recommended. The sky screen to us was a noisy intrusion and a wasted space removing the optional enclosed pool area enjoyed on other ships with temperatures plummeting in the evening you had to be a dedicated film buff to want to endure the elements -- obviously better for the Mediterranean etc. The kids clubs looked to be thriving with lots of smiling children involved in various adventures. Dining We were in the Oriental restaurant where we shared a table for six with two others - the food was good rather than great - with posh descriptions of average food, but no complaints. Again we found the wine to be reasonable and fairly cheap compared to other cruise lines we had experienced previously and made full use of the wine list. Dress code my partner thought was nice to see everyone making the effort and visually celebrating the chance to feel special - personally I thought four formal evenings was a tad to many as the food was the same where on Costa ,Celebrity and RCI cruises we had experienced a special menu for the special evenings. Semi formal and smart casual being the others in pretties much equal amounts. Speciality Restaurants We were going to book for Diane's 50th the Sindhu Indian restaurant but luckily we met the chef from 17 and he persuaded us to dine there. We dined in the so called Indian restaurant on our third night and as reported by some others we found the food to start well and end average -the starter being yummy and my main disappointing being 2 pieces of what I presume to be fillet steak cooked uumm like fillet steak with 4 tubby chips and a yet to be decided small pile of something - it tasted ok and very edible but not special £15 a head. 17 on the other hand was wammo - on Di's 50th we sat and enjoyed an excellent Prawn starter a Chateaubriand for two cooked to perfection and an excellent sweet, washed down with a nice Cotes du Rhone - a lovely evening. Cost £20 per head plus wine.. Venezia For breakfast and most other times when we felt the need and as I put on 5lb in two weeks - so a lot. The food here was good - the tea and coffee station for the competitive - every man for him self .The main problem here is logistics, basically 3000 plus people on one ship can sometimes feel like 3000 people in one place, finding a table was quite testing sometimes and it was a challenge walking from one side of the ship to the other hoping someone had moved we usually landed up sharing and in away this was good as most people were quite pleased to share there days experience with you and it was always amazing how someone else had a completely different slant on the day having done the same as you but was on a different planet. Be prepared for winging moaners who can't help but make out A > standards have dropped B > it was not as good as last year on the Titanic etc. etc - mainly the old time P&O crowd who refered to themselves as posh cruisers - at one breakfast in the Peninsular restaurant told us that they have been on 50 plus cruises and were of to a special lunch with the Captain - then relate to the good old days I suppose before they let the steerage class up stairs I have read others refer to them as rude - personaly I thought of spitting image and actualy laughed at one comment great fun. Staff and service Waiter and staff in the Oriental ok but it all seemed a tad rushed and lacked the personal touch we had enjoyed on other cruise lines - eg. Don't ask me my waiters name or the wine waiter they never passed the time of day - rush, rush, rush. Generally the rest of the staff all seemed the same as other cruise lines pleasant and attentative. Entertainment - We enjoyed the Azura singers and dancers and their stage performances We enjoyed the antics of Morgan lee James in the Malabar We had an audience with Olly Smith - we listened and laughed at the life and experiences of Maggie Stredder - the tribute to Cher in her undies by Laura Miles - the sail aways from ports with our (red coat ) Benni cruise director who just loved YMCA Plus we had the docile tones of x Foundations singer Clem Curtis for two enjoyable evenings In all, it was a great experience had by us. Excursions The Tallinn excursion we experienced was average - we chose the Russian memories - this was to experience going on board a Russian submarine that was Estonian made in Barrow and Furness England - our guide who took us on the submarine was totally inept - he introduced himself as too tired to do this as I have only had 3 hours sleep.com and as I had done some research previous to the visit I was helping him - the visit to the museum of occupations was an eye opener and very in depth and we listened to the experience of a lady who had suffered at the hands of the Russians - quite emotional. St Petersburg - 1st day sunshine and the Hermitage - good excursion - great guide - wonderful winter palace - recommended Evening ---- the Russian Ballet at the Conservatoire - Swan lake was enjoyable - the theatre not so the seats were uncomfortable and the 1st performance too long so everyone complained of backside ache when we went out for our glass of champagne - we had to queue up for most of the interval to get the small glass of champagne and then rush down stairs for the toilets before we returned to our seats. But it was worth the effort though a bit expensive. That's all we tried re the ship the rest we done ourselves - Kristiansand Norway -- overcast drizzle - wandered around the town ok but not great Tallinn After the excursion we walked into town and found a thousand things to photograph lovely colourful buildings in a walled town with character great fun - Stockholm Having stayed there many times we met our Swedish friends and took a boat trip to an Island for drinks and a meal - great day Helsinki - been their before so we just walked around having done the markets and church etc. - there was some youngsters playing in a concert in the main thoroughfare and we sat and listened had a few beers and enjoyed the day Copenhagen This was the surprise package museums and town halls parks and forts great busy waterways with bars and happy faces - great photo shoot opportunities Had a great day Oslo Been there before so again we walked miles just taking pictures of the palace and wonderful grounds loads to see and enjoy and the inevitable one beer 330 cl Carlsberg and one small coke £12 - enough said Disembarkation No problems all went well and at the call to leave the ship we were of in ten minutes and walking across the road to pick up our car -easy Summary We had a great time - we enjoyed the British feel about the ship - the value for money aspect - the fact people were still awake like me at 1am in the morning not heard of on an American ship and still something to do - yes there were some problems like the ship loosing power out at sea late one night it all went very quiet and dark in the cabin for about 10 minutes but someone found the starting handle and off we went again - not a word from anyone as to why. Must have been a very large fuse or someone leant on the wrong switch - have to laugh - We loved the fact there wasn't any tax on the drinks and that the tips were not forced on you to leave your card details so they could remove vast sums of money from your account to save them paying wages as with most other lines -this was £1.50 a day for each person and the amount being doubled as for your attendant and waiter is I think reasonable. Prices in the shops were reasonable with decent shops - Diane bought a lovely pair of sunglasses for about £25 and my daughter a watch for £10 so all in all we never felt we were being ripped off - i bought a bottle of Gin and vodka cheaper than in a shop in the uk. So all in all - all I can say is = Believe me we would have stayed on for the Mediterranean trip if they had asked -- but sadly they didn't. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Everything had come together well. The cruise had almost chosen itself. All criteria had been met and the holiday booked. Departure from Southampton to facilitate a quick and relaxed departure,check. Reasonable price to accommodate our ... Read More
Everything had come together well. The cruise had almost chosen itself. All criteria had been met and the holiday booked. Departure from Southampton to facilitate a quick and relaxed departure,check. Reasonable price to accommodate our bank balance, check. Destination, The Baltic States, for culture, history and adventure including the date of our 20th wedding anniversary, check. And lastly, P and O's sparkly new ship, Azura, for a stylish, contemporary and yet still quite traditional floating hotel from which to venture into each port and return to each day for fine dining and entertainment, check. After traveling the short distance from Petersfield to Southampton by limousine, (organised as a surprise by my husband!) we negotiated embarkation swiftly and arrived on board ready to find our cabin and explore the ship. From this moment on I started to experience the rather odd sensation of hearing the many "voices" speaking words of wisdom that I had discovered on the cruise critic forums. "Will we find our luggage awaiting us in the cabin? Should do. Should we unpack first? No, we might miss the "sailaway". Don't forget, the champagne will not be free. Try the buffet for a light lunch. Here's the Verona, it changes from buffet to Italian Trattoria in the evenings. Make sure you book those tables in XVII and Sindhu and check out when Olly Smith will be speaking and doing the wine tasting...yum! Now it is time to unpack and hang that shoe holder over the bathroom door, (snipping two little holes for the robe hooks) and stow away all those troublesome toiletries that might clutter up your bathroom." Well, so far so good! Thanks to the "voices" I often felt prepared for the many new things to experience while cruising and yet still had the delight of learning other things for ourselves by trial and error. I did however leave behind the duct tape and bungee cord suggested by many "voices" after much teasing from friends and family and no, we didn't need them! It was fun and we soon relaxed into the rhythm of port days/sea days, morning, noon and night. Our inside stateroom (B747) was compact but beautifully formed. The open wardrobe space, cupboards, drawers and under-bed storage were more than we needed and I had SERIOUSLY over packed, despite the "voices" telling me to take less clothing and more money! I loved the shower and the bathroom was fine. We liked the decor, the bed was comfy, the pillows quite thick so I only needed one and the interactive TV was very useful to check our on-board spending and to watch all kinds of TV programmes and films (103 choices!)when ever we wanted. We were surprised to find a couple of passengers moaning about the TV on day 12 of the cruise saying they thought the choice of viewing was poor. It turned out they had not used the TV choices and had only tuned in to the 7 live channels which included CBeebies, documentary, lifestyle, history and news channels. We also met someone who didn't know they had a fridge!! Of course we suffered a little stateroom envy when we saw some new friends' balcony stateroom but we constantly reminded ourselves of how much more money we had to spend on other things. The "voices" had warned me that we may well come across people who had cruised so much before that they had become very picky, opinionated and not reticent in sharing their feelings.Indeed, some of the "voices" themselves were like this and their opinions are valid while on land and they can be taken into account when making choices but best ignored if they find their way onto your dining table! I know that as first-time cruisers we have nothing to compare our experiences with but I hope, if we have the good fortune to cruise again, we will stay positive and upbeat once on-board. Yes, the knives are oddly balanced, yes, Azura is a very big ship (duh, read the brochure?) and yes the promenade deck does not go right around the ship but at least you won't get dizzy walking in one direction the whole time!! We very quickly found our favourite places...The Planet bar with it's HD TV screens showing worldwide panoramic views in real-time for pre-dinner drinks;up on deck to read, sunbathe, doze and relax in the afternoons; Brodies for a game of pool or scrabble and the Karmala room (sadly windowless) for the 11pm quiz. All this makes us sound like we shun exercise but to be honest this holiday was, for us, about physical as well as mental rest. I regret not getting to try shuffleboard and quoits but will save that for the next cruise! So, onto one of the highlights of the cruise, the dining experience. We had booked second sitting (20.30hrs) and a table for eight. I knew, of course, that if we wanted to enjoy the fantastic views during the "sailaways" and not be in a rush after getting back from shore excursions this would be the best time for us. We found ourselves allocated to The Oriental and a table for... two. Initially I wanted to change this as I had wanted to meet and get to know people but we gave it a few days and in the end found we preferred the option of dining alone at times as at breakfast, afternoon tea and sometimes even in the buffet we shared tables. We did get to know some lovely people whom we met for drinks or dinner at other venues around the ship. We enjoyed all the select dining on offer both for lunch and dinner and the cover charges (the "voices" had said £20 for XVIII and £15 for Sindhu) we thought were very good value for the superb quality. The activities on-board were quite varied, we tried a few quizzes, took part in Cupid's Couples (and won!) learned how to play Blackjack and that we were not very good at it! We tried karaoke and joined the choir called Azura vocalists. We rehearsed on sea days and performed a concert in the atrium on the last evening, great fun! We watched several films on the Seascreen (outdoor cinema) but had to wrap up warmly for the evening shows as the Baltic weather was nice and warm in the daytime but a bit chilly later (blankets were provided). The cruisers to warmer climes will enjoy this feature more. Much was made of the lack of a covered pool but again, the warmer weather will sort that omission out. We are not great dancers but we saw dancing in several venues around the ship.I thought the choice of shops was varied and attractive to browse in but I bought all our gifts ashore. The much vaunted Spa was too expensive for us. We had planned to give the Retreat a try for a half day but never got around to it. It looked lovely from afar but mostly underused. Again, maybe in the Med or Caribbean it will get more patronage. The entertainment was a little patchy. We enjoyed the Headliners Theatre Company as we like musical theatre but we are not fond of tribute acts and none of the speakers were appropriate to our taste or indeed age group. We were among the youngest on board (43 and 50!!!) but we enjoyed Rebecca Storm, Olly Smith and a couple of the comedians. Greg Bentinck was a superb piano player and singer with a dry wit and much cheery banter, he was also the choir's pianist. The daily Horizon newspaper was very informative and clear and with my highlighter pen at the ready each evening (thanks "voices"!) I was able to pick out possible events of interest to us for the next day. There were only 45 children on board for our cruise but we occasionally saw them around the ship and they all seemed to be having a great time with the very enthusiastic youth team. I had a quick peek at the children's tea menu and it would have suited our daughters down to the ground. Apparently the stateroom phones could be used as a baby alarm for parents who wanted to leave older children sleeping or you could use the night nursery. Now, how about the Ports of call? Wonderful and so refreshing to be visiting a part of Europe we had never been to before. I had spent much time on Cruise Critic's Baltic forum and researched my socks off! What did I learn once ashore? That my husband does not like to be too organised and has less stamina for sight seeing than I bargained for. I had so much planned, (maps, walks, glass galleries etc.) but had forgotten that my husband was physically drained and although a sprightly 43 years old (and a Judo black belt) really needed to rest as well as explore. We took two ship's tours in Stockholm and Oslo, a two day private tour of St. Petersberg (SPB) with Alla tours as a result of advice from the "voices" and the rest we managed ourselves. I was able to cancel one trip while on board (with 48hrs notice) as we had done so much in SPB that we gave Helsinki, our fifth port day in a row, a miss. We learned that we would rather do one thing really well, i.e. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm than try to see many things quickly. We will know next time how we like to do things and plan accordingly.The highlight for us was SPB and the eight other folk on our trip quickly became friends during a meet and greet over afternoon tea and then later during our private tour which was a fantastic success. Each day ashore we would return "home" to Azura and rest, eat well and relax. The service in the bars and restaurants was always exemplary and our cabin steward, Joseph was excellent.I found the ship's crew to be friendly and approachable although we never saw the captain as I believe his wife was unwell. Disembarkation was a breeze and we were off the ship forty minutes ahead of schedule and on our way home. I will know in future how much and what to pack and we will not have to take four suitcases ever again! With a laundry on-board it was very easy to do a quick couple of loads of casual clothing and wear some of the formal clothing twice, no one would notice or care.Much easier! In summary, we had a wonderful time and were able to rest and recharge our energies which was exactly what we had wanted from the experience. We enjoyed being on our own for the first time for years and were pleased to discover that we still like to spend time together! Celebrating our anniversary in this way was perfect. If we cruise again we would probably be taking our teenage daughters with us and we will then look for a ship offering different facilities and activities to suit all of us. That is where research and a good trawl through the internet will hopefully be of benefit. Thanks to Cruise Critic, we got it right this time around! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Well we tried P&O about 4 years ago - Oceana - not inpressed. Having booked a family suite on RCs Indepence of the seas for the end of the year, we were at a loose end , so we decided to book a cruise from Southampton it inculded ... Read More
Well we tried P&O about 4 years ago - Oceana - not inpressed. Having booked a family suite on RCs Indepence of the seas for the end of the year, we were at a loose end , so we decided to book a cruise from Southampton it inculded Ireland, France and Spain. Our hope was that it would be better than Oceana. saddly not. For five days we had sewerage coming out of the WC in our cabin . We complained to the desk - they came to the cabin 4 times said they had fixed it. Not so - we had to eventually go to purser's desk and cause a major fuss asking to speak to the executive purser - told he was in a meeting until 5pm - the time was then 12pm . well we went to a bar and dicovered him there. When we spoke to him he was totally unhelpful - just denied every think 'No probs on the ship' . When we told him we had met others with the same prob (giving him their cabin number-names) he ran away saying he would get back to us - he did not. Later in the evening a purser found us saying they would try and sort it. It took another 3 days. we asked for compensation we got £330 which in no way really compensated us, having previously asked for them to fly us home.As people who do cruises a lot we always try the specialty restaurants well the Indian was not as good as a sainsburys take away box. 17 is ok but expensive compared to restaurnts on other ships. Our conclusions are that the ship is undermanned, the public areas far too small. The ships ok if you should want Butlins on sea. As for the so-called Executive purser - he is unhelpful , will admit to nothing, blindly supports his staff and we hope we never have to the displeasure of meeting him again. We feel that this is a truthful account of our time on Azura and are very saddened to write this account having never done the like before Read Less
Azura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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