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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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2010
Boarding: Took approx 30 mins from leaving the car with CPS to boarding the ship. Smooth and well organised. Cabins: We had 2 Deluxe Balcony Cabins, mid ship on A Deck. First impressions were of a clean, conservatively decorated cabin ... Read More
Boarding: Took approx 30 mins from leaving the car with CPS to boarding the ship. Smooth and well organised. Cabins: We had 2 Deluxe Balcony Cabins, mid ship on A Deck. First impressions were of a clean, conservatively decorated cabin with a couple of touches of colour in the cushions and bed runner. The walk in wardrobe does make the cabin feel smaller but will be appreciated by those with longer dresses and those who prefer a little more privacy when getting dressed. No sofa, just two chairs. Good interactive TV with around 7 channels plus dozens of on demand TV shows and films most of which were free. You can order room service using the TV and can check the restaurant menus in advance to influence where you may wish to eat which was helpful. Balcony was small but functional with two reclining chairs, a table and a footstool. As has been debated many times, Balconies on C deck are deeper however its a toss up between the extra depth and the loss of privacy given that there are three decks above who can look down on you. The Riviera deck above from mid ships to aft has an overhang which will limit sun for most of the day. This overhang actually impacts on A and B decks to some extent too meaning the sun has to be lower in the sky to catch the rays from your balcony. Our cabin Steward was excellent, very friendly and kept the cabin immaculate. We had an annoying creaking noise from the ceiling and after the third night spoke to reception who sent a maintenance chappie that hacked away at the wood trim that adjoined the ceiling. It solved the problem but I'm not sure P&O would be too happy with the damage he caused to the wood trim in doing so. Bathroom was compact but perfectly usable. Some complained about this but how long do you spend in the bathroom? Food: We had breakfast mainly in the buffet. An excellent choice of hot and cold food, and no traffic jams in accessing the buffet. Yes you had to look for a table but we could usually find a table, especially in the Verona Buffet toward the rear. We tried the sit down breakfast in the Oriental Restaurant which again was fine but we preferred the convenience, choice and speed, of the self service. The buffet at lunchtime was a bit disappointing. Food was a bit repetitive and at times canteen like. We tried the pizza place by the pool deck and thought the Pizzas were excellent. Freshly cooked and with thin and crisp bases. The hot dog and burger outlet served a limited range of food but again this was good although their tendency to handle everything by hand including grabbing handfuls of fries to plate up after just preparing beef, chicken and prawn wraps with the same hands was a bit off putting and certainly not veggie friendly. We chose freedom dining for our evening meals having used RCI's version of this the year before and enjoyed the flexibility. If you are prepared to share a table then there appeared to be no waiting but if you wanted a table to yourselves then this could incur a wait especially as the Playhouse shows ended. We were given a buzzer on 3 out of 10 nights and had to wait no longer than 10 minutes before a table for four came available. It's a shame you cannot reserve a time each day as on RCI but not a major issue. The choice was ok but did become a little repetitive with dishes whose name changed but really they were the same core meals. Lots of Beef, Pork and Lamb, some fish and one choice for Veggies in each course although nowhere on the ship are desserts marked up as suitable for vegetarians. Ice cream in the main dining room was said to be veggie but not that in the Verona Trattoria which seems a little strange. One of us was veggie and they found the vegetarian dishes to be rather poor and always on the small side. Nice to have lots of fresh vegetables but more salads would have been appreciated. I have to mention the soups. After a week we gave up ordering them. We all like soup but the ones we had were disappointing including on one night one which was so salty none of us could get past the first spoonful. However overall we always walked out of the dining room full. I have to mention the service. Now we can only compare this with RCI but we were not overly impressed. Yes it was functional but it varied considerably. It was as though the waiters were under pressure to turn tables so didn't have time to build any rapport. On one night we went from sitting down to having coffee in 45 minutes which was very rushed. On another night it took 1 hour 50 to complete our meal. I'm not saying that the service was bad, it just wasn't done with any flair. On RCI the waiters made recommendations and if you didn't finish a plate they were genuinely concerned and desperate to get you something else that would suit you. On Azura they just took the plate away. We often sat down to butter dishes that were empty and missing glasses and trying to get a second bread roll often meant several minutes of trying to get someone's attention. A couple of times we were seated next to a waiter station and they just appeared fed up. I hope it's not the case but we felt as though the waiters know they are getting their tips so don't try too hard. Perhaps in Club dining the experience may be different but on RCI we always were made to feel special in the main dining room. Speciality Restaurants: We tried them all and I've commented elsewhere on this forum about them so will just say that we were not impressed with Sindhu or Seventeen. Portions in Sindhu were small and under-flavoured and our meal in Seventeen took an eternity from start to finish (almost 2 hrs 30 mins from sitting down to leaving). Also our well done lamb came pink and our new potatoes were hard. My duck terrine was horrible and had a strip of raw duck through the centre surrounded by duck fat. Obviously everyone's experience is subjective but we were disappointed with both of these venues and thought they offered more style than substance. However, many raved about them so each to their own. Sindhu was usually very quiet but we had to book 4 days in advance for seventeen. We liked the Glass House. It's a lovely venue for just sitting and having a drink and the bistro type food is excellent and good value. This wasn't very busy as I think many preferred the venues with live music but we thought it was a superb space. The Verona Buffet turns into an Italian with waiter service in the evenings. You don't book and we tried it twice and had lovely meals. Plentiful and well prepared and as the cruise progressed this got very busy as more people discovered it. We had a room service breakfast for our sail into Venice and this was pretty good. Public Rooms: The atrium isn't huge and doesn't have a wow factor but it serves well as the hub of the ship and was never overwhelmingly busy but after experiencing RCIs Royal Promenade this was more like a hotel foyer. The bars on board are excellent, from Brodies pub to the cabaret bar Manhattan. All were a good size and very nicely decorated. Drink prices are reasonable and the choice is wide. Service in the bars was superb. The main dining room has 84 different bottles of wine to choose from! The layout of the ship isn't very user friendly and you did need to consult the maps to work out how to get to a certain area. For instance to get from the Planet bar to Reception you had to take a lift down to Deck 7, walk through this deck to the Atrium and then take another lift down to Deck 6. Deck 7 is the only Deck you can walk through although outside on this deck you cannot circle the ship entirely as the front section is for crew only. There isn't a natural flow to the ship however I have to say it swallows its passengers very well. On cloudy sea days you could always find somewhere to sit and the ship never felt overly busy perhaps because the public rooms are so disparate. This is despite the ship being full. Similarly up on deck you cannot get from fore to aft without a fair bit of up and downing. In fact there are rather a lot of steps to navigate the different levels from the Lido Deck up to the Sports Deck and the different levels around the Seascreen. However again because there were so many different areas we could always find somewhere to rest even on the hottest days. We didn't try the retreat. It never looked very busy, possibly because only a handful of the beds are in the sun, the rest sit under the big canopy to the front. I'm not a fan of having 'upgrade' areas like this. Surely it would be better to have this part of the ship for the benefit of everyone as on Ventura rather than limit it for the enjoyment of a small minority who are prepared to pay for it? We used the gym a lot and it is well laid out. We didn't use the Spa for any treatments but thought them very expensive. Entertainment: The Entertainment team worked extremely hard and the program of activities was very full. Again it's personal taste but we didn't enjoy the evening entertainment in the Playhouse. The Playhouse itself is a bit bland and lacking in warmth and the stage looks small in proportion to the seating area. We saw 2 Headliners shows but they were not to our taste. Many seemed to love them but we found them to be clichEd. The one featuring west end musicals was a let down as they chose lesser known songs from the featured shows. Strange when they have so much well known material to choose from-maybe a royalty issue? We didn't bother going to any more of their shows after this. If the headliners were not on it generally seemed to be different comedians and there is a lot of repetition with acts being on for 2 nights with a few days in between. The Seascreen was a novel touch and we did watch a couple of films whilst enjoying the sun but the films were repeated too often and you needed to be fairly brave to endure an evening showing in the Med in May. Ports of Call: We enjoyed the ports we visited, especially Venice, and if you are booking a balcony then go for one on the Starboard side as the sail into Venice at 7am is simply stunning. Where a shuttlebus was required there was no charge which is a nice touch. We took two tours from the ship which we thought were reasonably priced and well organised. Overall: We enjoyed the cruise. Azura doesn't have the wow factor. It's a nice ship with good facilities, is nicely decorated and does most things well. However we didn't feel it did anything exceptionally nor did it have any specific outstanding features but as a venue to cruise to different ports it's very comfortable. It takes a fair amount of time to get to grips with the layout which is far from logical but this isn't a bad thing as long as you like to explore. It feels very swish and many who had been on Ventura said this was like being on the same ship but with a bit more class. I still don't understand the marketing for Azura. It has been aimed at previous cruisers and couples but has the same capacity for kids and for entertaining kids as Ventura. There were only a handful of kids on our cruise so the kids facilities and the area they take up surely are wasted most of the time? Why didn't P&O keep Azura for adults and Ventura for families? Still can't get my head round P&O's marketing objectives. There really isn't anything about Azura that would draw us back for another cruise on her as there are there are many alternatives we would like to try. As this was only our second cruise we can only compare this with our previous cruise on the IOTS. We took a vote on our way home and all voted the Independence as the better of the two. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Had a really fab voyage in an INSIDE cabin,as very late booking.No probs with check-in @ So'ton. Cabin smallish but OK.Cabin steward reluctant to remove small tray table..but made so much MORE room avail.Open wardrobe was good and ... Read More
Had a really fab voyage in an INSIDE cabin,as very late booking.No probs with check-in @ So'ton. Cabin smallish but OK.Cabin steward reluctant to remove small tray table..but made so much MORE room avail.Open wardrobe was good and flatscreen TV+Fridge+Tea making+biscuits. Tried Freedom Dining but a disaster...were given pager and waited 45+mins..so transfer to Oriental.Restaurant Manager,John Willard ,was so polite and obliging..he is tops. Breakfast in Peninsular as more "tables for 2".Buffet was a la Mc Donalds so had superb Pizza's,far from madding crowd,on Deck 15. Dined twice in XVII..unbelievably good.P=O have trained the speciality staff for a month in Trieste..and, boy,does it show.We had seafood twice(on " diff menu's).No corkage charge either but £11 in main restaurants. Only griope was that cutlery knives were almost imposs to spread butter/jam. Tiptree conserves. Great that P+O allow wine etc for consumption in cabin..other lines don't..also Shuttle buses were free to save long walks in Corfu+Malaga. Fortunate to have mobility so do our own"tours"..makes a much more exciting "adventure"!! Cruise Director,a young girl called Benni, should be a Butlins Red Coat...Dave Barfoot would have been superb but he is a "minion"!! We enjoyed TRIBUTE shows(Phil Collins/Lulu/Dusty S0 but Manhatten bar was unsuitable venue owing to lack of space.Huge Q's for 2100 Theatre Show.There was a v.good motown singer Vernon Lewis..but his Dad Jimmy James a wee bit past it! Far too many comedians..how BORING are they??!!!! Lots of quizzes but too many Sitcm TV orientated. Very,very good Aviation lectures(Red Arrows,Concorde) by Phil Holt,an air traffic controller(but an Aviation nut!) Very good for me being exRAF/British Airways 747 Captain but was so popular there were NEVER enough seats in Malabar..should have been held in 850 seat Theatre. The ship carries 3100 pax but if "u do your own thing" and don't wanna' be too matey-matey(which we certainly DIDN'T) she's a great liner. We'll be heading back to P+O for more meat..but was poison for some. U can't please all of the folk all of the time!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
1.Embarcation/Disembarcation No problems with port parking - very efficient and then only 30 minutes in lounge before being on the ship. Couldn't have been easier or more speedy. We were directed to the lunch buffet on deck 15 until ... Read More
1.Embarcation/Disembarcation No problems with port parking - very efficient and then only 30 minutes in lounge before being on the ship. Couldn't have been easier or more speedy. We were directed to the lunch buffet on deck 15 until the cabins were ready at 2:30pm.Similarly on return we were off the ship 30 miutes before the adverised time and driving away in mites after collecting our luggage - which was not as bad as we had feared with so many on board. 2.Cabin We booked a balcony cabin which had all of the space we needed; good 'open-sided' wardrobe; shower; plenty of storage. Although we had not thought that we would use the balcony much, the excellent weather meant that it was that well used in the Baltic spring,especially with the beautiful sailing into/from both Oslo and Stockholm harbours - absolutely stunning scenery!Cabin steward was excellent too. 3.Dining We booked 2nd dinner sitting in the Oriental restaurant which worked very well for us - meant also that we went to the 10:30 theatre show which was not as full as the two earlier showtimes.The food and service were good and the portions sensble.We also ried the 2 speciality restaurants, XVII and Sindhu, both of which were excellent (also the general opinion not just of our party). The Glasshouse worked well too for lunch snacks and dinner on one evening too.Although all carry surcharges, they are more than worth it, both for the quality of food/service and variety. 4. Entertainment The 'Headliners' company worked hard; were talented and the productions were 'slick' and all worked very well.Targetted squarely at us 'Brits' the shows were very enjoyable. We heard of complaints about finding seats at the earlier shows (7:15 and 8:30pm) but at the 10:30 show there was never any problem. It is after all a very big ship and cannot possibly seat even half of the 3000 guests at once! Other entertainers were a mixed bunch, with the Elton John/Rod Stewart tibute acts especially good.Plenty of choice throughout the ship to cater for most tastes.Ship's backing musicians were uniformly excellent in their own right. 5.Bars We most enjoyed the Planet bar; excellent views; good service and relatively quiet until it's popularity began to circulate. Blue bar was good too and we often had a drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) in Glasshouse. 5. Decks Didn't partake much of the deck entertainment/pools though those who did seemed to enjoy the experince. The 'Sky Screen' will come into its own in the Med. summer/Caribbean - bit chilly for us,even in a sunny Baltic.Will work well for 'world-cup' games presumably! 6. Overall Azura is a big ship, but we found it very friendly, both fellow cruisers and staff (many of whom had been transferred/promoted in from the Ventura).This had clearly helped with the settling in period of these early cruises.Go and enjoy yourselves - ignore the few 'moaning minnies' onboard who are all too ready to critise even minor failings (if indeed they are even that). Azura is a beautiful ship;tremendous value for money and most enjoyable. We will certainly sail in her again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
EMBARKATION Half an hour delay due to "security issues" but plenty of seats and no real problems. CABIN Booked very late so we had an inside of their choice. This turned out to be a family room with tip up bunks on the walls ... Read More
EMBARKATION Half an hour delay due to "security issues" but plenty of seats and no real problems. CABIN Booked very late so we had an inside of their choice. This turned out to be a family room with tip up bunks on the walls each side! We felt the room was slightly smaller than we had on previous ships and the bunks did not help but overall the decor and standards where very good. However, how a family of 4 would cope in this cabin I have no idea. For the price I paid I was just happy to be on the cruise. We did have a toilet blockage late on one evening and no one came to fix it until the morning. My wife had to use the public facilities during the night and on her way back was stuck in the lift for 5 minutes when the doors refused to open!! DINING Used the any-time option. For the first two nights we where put on tables for 8 (they seem to have more these than any other) and did not enjoy the company much. I can only describe some of the people as P&O cruise snobs. Because of this we used the the Meridian restaurant very few times. My wife and I like to mix and chat with people from all over the world and different age groups but we soon found this was never going to happen on a P&O ship out of Southampton. We tried Sindhu and had the best Indian meal I have ever had!!. We also used the Trattoria in Verona quite a few times. We liked it a lot and the views leaving port are much better from Verona than in the Meridian. Would have liked it to change from Italian to say Chinese/French/Indian on the second week for a bit of variety but hay-ho. Breakfast buffet the usual scrum every day. P&O have tried to squeeze to many people onto this ship and it shows in every venue. We felt that perhaps the menus in the Meridian had no great wow factor until the last two days when they became more like what we had been used to on Princess. Perhaps it is because they have so many more PAY venues on board and would not want to feed you TO well at their expence?? cynical?? Never. SHOWS Headliners are very very good. Best we have seen anywhere. The other acts are all pretty good and similar to other ships. Entertainment staff all very friendly but cruise director Laura Bennison seemed a bit robotic. Every word every ad lib totally rehearsed. P&O ask you to enter the Playhouse theatre via deck 6 and not to arrive more than half an hour before the show starts. If you follow their rules you will never see any of the early shows! However it does calm down a bit as the days go by. VENUES Brodies. We liked this venue a lot. Comfy seats and nice atmosphere. Planet Bar. Nice but the big TV screens are a bit wasted. You would not sit and watch them all night! We thought that there was quite a bit of vibration in there which stopped it being as relaxing as it should have been and forget it if they are playing quoits on deck above. Its like trying to relax in a bowling ally! Views are great tho. Malabar. Very nice venue if you can ever get a seat!! Manhattan. We did not like this venue at all. It was a triumph of design over practicality. The sight lines to the stage. Terrible. The dividing screens. To high. If I wanted to watch a show on TV I could have remained at home!! Replace it with a Princess Vista lounge!! Atrium OK but no WOW factor. A bit to small for the numbers on board. SHOPPING. Mostly expensive luxury designer goods. Shops always seemed virtually deserted to us. But when they had sales you could not move in the atrium area. Does this not tell you some thing P&O?? POOLS / SEA SCREEN Great for the Med. Not for the Baltics. Even tho we had very good weather. No covered pool, big mistake. Promenade deck does not go right around the ship! Many people disappointed with that. Any venues not mentioned is because we did not use them. The Glass House looked good but we did not get around to using it. Overall we enjoyed this cruise a lot. Much of that to do with the great ports of call. Probably 200-300 people to many for the space available. Anything to do with Carnival?? I can't get my head round P&O's marketing objectives, are they aiming for the P&O old crowd or are they going for the new mass market of new cruisers like myself? The average age of cruisers this time was over 64. We just prefer a more mixed crowd. There really isn't anything about Azura that would draw us back for another cruise on her, except a very good deal! We would not rush back to P&O we have a few more companies to try yet. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
AZURA Baltic cruise, 26 May 2010 - Great people, but some real issues. First time cruisers though we did a "crossing" on the wonderful QM2 last year. I am a wheelchair user, my wife is a celiac, so some may find the feedback on ... Read More
AZURA Baltic cruise, 26 May 2010 - Great people, but some real issues. First time cruisers though we did a "crossing" on the wonderful QM2 last year. I am a wheelchair user, my wife is a celiac, so some may find the feedback on accessibility and food choice useful. What follows is we hope a balanced review which reflects a good holiday but equally suggests that P&O have not got everything right with Azura and some aspects will be very off putting for certain potential customers. Embarkation. We arrived early, had a 15 min wait in car park queue and 30 mins in the check-in hall at the bright and breezy Ocean Terminal. Disabled access is good here & you should go to the "mobility assist" area, it will pay off. We were onboard in 30 mins, were directed to deck 15 for lunch which was fine and in our superb (disabled) inside cabin by 2.30 as promised. All very smooth and well managed. Disabled stateroom L248 Lido Deck 15. Outstanding. Loads of room. One of the best designed disabled accessible bathrooms we have ever seen. Good wheelchair turning space, excellent wheel-in shower area with a very good large fold up seat and good access to wash basin. Toilet has grab rails on two sides but if you need three rails ask about this before booking. Cabin steward (Manoj) was excellent. All in all a very impressive accommodation. But....this is state of the art Azura, or that's what P&O tell you in the brochures. Two different people designed this ship. One did the disabled cabins, the other the rest of P&O's flagship. LIFTS. Appalling, simply appalling. After the absurdly poor safety briefing we waited 45 mins for a lift back to our cabin. It must have been a one off we thought....wrong. P&O have built a` ship the same size as Ventura but put 500 more passengers onboard. Most were 70+ and/or disabled. We were babies in our early fifties but we aged 10 years waiting for lifts on this cruise. It just doesn't work, too many people, and a lift service where only one lift seems able to stop on a deck at one time. Peak times it's a fiasco. You need to leave 30 mins before dinner to arrive on time. This is not OTT, the lifts are not able to cope and it can spoil your day, trust me, this is a serious problem and if you have no choice but to use the lift prepare for absurd waiting times. THE RETREAT. Again, appalling. We really wanted to use this innovative facility but on this brand new state of the art ship it is NOT accessible to wheelchair users or those who don't fancy climbing loads of steps. How P&O can justify this is beyond me but there is no lift inside the three-deck spa / retreat facility and access to the wonderful heated pool with its wave machine is up 3 steps, then 7 more, then down another 7. Crazy and hugely disappointing. And even the staff were embarrassed that this has been allowed to happen and spookily it isn't mentioned in the adverts.....indeed we had three calls before the cruise trying to sell us spa packages. THE FOOD. We were club diners in the Oriental, 1st sitting. We were so lucky to have a table of 6 superb companions. Great conversation and lots of laughter. Such superb company can and did make for some very enjoyable times. Food was generally good. A couple of ordinary meals but overall lots of good eating. Portions are a bit small at times but in truth there's always more if you ask. Service was good. We also tried "Seventeen" which is P&O's attempt at a celebrity restaurant without a celebrity and it is amazing. Really good and a steal at £20pp cover charge. "Sindhu" is fine dining Indian style and equally good. Subtle flavours and surprises between courses ! We loved our meal experience there and both this and 17 are worth the extra money. The Glass House was a favourite, great "taster" plates and really good turf and surf and very sweet wine ! Verona and Venetia were okish and we heard that the Italian trattoria was excellent. My wife is a coeliac and providing you make your meal choices the night before with the menu provided then you are pretty well catered for. Less well if you turn up unannounced at an alternative venue but even then they will try to sort things. ENTERTAINMENT. Very mixed. Headliners Company did 6 shows which were ok'ish but the lead vocalists lack "range" and the Playhouse gets absurdly crowded for the middle of three performances. Warning : there are just 6 disabled spaces in the Playhouse on deck 7 and 8 on deck 6. It's very poor this and given the huge numbers of less-than-mobile people on this cruise it's a real shame that P&O do not understand the issues this causes. The rest of the entertainment is made up of Tribute Acts and Comedy, and we thought much of this was disappointing. A couple of the singers were good and to be fair if some stopped describing the entertainment onboard as "west end" quality it would ease expectations. We got a bit bored on sea days in particular when there really isn't enough to do if the weather is poor. We mostly had great weather but try watching the disappointing "SeaScreen" in rain and a cold wind, it's not fun. TOURS. We did 5 disabled accessible tours. Very expensive but we found them to be outstanding vfm. Mostly it's just 4 of you and your professional guide. How good is that ? We enjoyed Tallin and loved St Petersburg and Copenhagen and Oslo were real highlights. P&O are the only company who can be bothered to help disabled customers in this way and they deserve great credit for so doing. If you need accessible transport then try these tours but note that in some ports like Stockholm there are free accessible shuttle buses. In a few like Oslo and Kristiansand you can walk in from the berth. OVERCROWDING. What can you say ? It's a mix of greed and poor planning added to inadequate design but for us Azura is simply not able to effectively cope with 3100 passengers. There is an extra deck of cabins and one lounge less than Ventura. It doesn't work, it's just too crowded in the public areas and the lounges (Manhatten and Malabar) are too full too often. And did we mention those LIFTS ? ! We met lots of very nice people, the staff were generally very good and the ship is pretty but flawed. We rested and appreciated the sun and the trips ashore and eat pretty well. Not a bad holiday by any measure but Azura is far from perfect and some of the problems are serious enough to surely impact on repeat bookings. If anyone wants more on the disabled access etc very happy to discuss ! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2010
Parking at southampton: So swift and organised at CPS outside the Terminal, before we had stopped they had the bags out of the car and on their way to our cabin! CPS kept the car keys and parked the car for us Cabin: excellent cabin ... Read More
Parking at southampton: So swift and organised at CPS outside the Terminal, before we had stopped they had the bags out of the car and on their way to our cabin! CPS kept the car keys and parked the car for us Cabin: excellent cabin really modern refilled tea and coffee everyday, fresh towels and the cabin steward was excellent had ample space in the walk in wardrobe also. i would advise to have the beds in queen config as the cabin loses a lot of space if it is in twin formation Dining: The dining was excellent, great variety and always readily available. I can defiantely recommend Sindhu worth every penny!@ £15 per head it was fantastic! amazing food and service, We found Seventeen very nice and the terrace on the back is lovely if it is nice weather! We did find the menu to be a little plain compared to the Indian but i guess this is expected! Shore excursions: we found the port presentations particulaly informative as we did most of our exploring independantly, they were great to watch in the cabin whilst getting ready or to attend directly in the playhouse Entertainment: As the average age on our this cruise was late 60's we did find the entertainment to be geared more towards the older age group. There was a good selection of varied activities for this age group however. The Headliners Theatre company was spectacular very enjoyable and an excellent variety of performances from acrobatics to full stage productions! The Nightclub never really got into full swing as it was an older age group! we did find however that the English Pub Brodies again catered for all age groups , it had a fab atmosphere with plenty going on from quizzes to board games and a pool table! We did have a flutty in the Casino, the staff were excellent really friendly and gave you gaming lessons free of charge Some of the bands and musicians were a tad below par of what you would expect on a ship of this nature but they were enjoyable non the less! We found the Sea Screen fantastic! a brilliant new addition to the fleet, it attracted every age group and had a good selection of old and new films, they had films playing throughout the day and into the night at set times they even used it for a game of bowling on the wii! In the evening its fantastic to get wrapped up in the provided blankets and watch the film under the stars! I would however say that the films did tend to be a little repetative and by the 2nd week we had seen all the films on show, apart from that i believe it to be a brilliant addition to the ship Kids Facilities: On the aft of the ship overlooking the terrace pool there are the kids areas. Frontiers and The Beach Hut. these are partially outdoor play areas where the staff play games. Inside the teens have a great area to relax in and chill out with friends, there is plenty for them from an Air hockey game to play stations and more! for the little ones there is a large soft play area for them The staff were great with the kids really organised and we hardly saw any kids they were kept so busy! Tips: The staff were great really friendly and helpful always, we gave the tips directly to the staff on the final day of the cruise. the average tip is around £3.20 pp per day which can be split between waiters and cabin steward Impressions: My intial impressions were 'how's this going to float!' but no in all seriousness it was a wonderful ship. Right from the word go everything is so organised. The check in was swift and organised, the product of P&O is fantastic and even down to the keeping of the ship they were constantly cleaning and painting the ship inside and out! even though she is only a few weeks old! We found our cabin rather swiftly as the decks and cabins are well sign posted.Having a balcony was amazing, our own private space outside to enjoy a coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening, it was great to have this as the journey into stockholm was amazing how they traversed through all the tiny little islands it was fantastic to watch All the different areas of the ship are in immaculate condition and very luxurious. i think the main thing that was impressive was the service and the food! oh the food! we belive you could eat round the clock 24 hours a day! and all for free! the main restaurant food was impressive with plenty of choice for all tastes, the waiters in the restaurant were fantastic they remembered all our names on the table and if they saw you walking about in other areas of they ship they would ask how we were and greet us by name! Target market: This ship can quite happily cater for all age groups and types. As mentioned the Itinerary seems to dictate what kind of market the cruise attracts. The Azura would suit Families As they do have excellent kids facilities but i would be careful what itinerary, the med or caribbean would probably suit families more as entertainment was geared for the older generation Singles it is fantastic. the single cabins were brilliant as we did have a look in one! The nice thing is there is plenty of space in the ship to have the single afternoon tea in another area Young couples - great again! the Sea Screen does appeal more to the younger market and we found it great to get away from all the bars and have a quiet night under the stars watching a film. Our Itinerary really applealed to the older generation and the ship seemed to please the majority of the older seniors. there were a few complaints from the seniors saying it was too large and they had far to walk from bar to show etc. . . Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2010
Cruise number 7 for Azura from Southampton to the Fjords in Norway 25 June to 2 July- Stavanger, Flamm, Olden & Bergen. Still a very new ship - some evidence of snagging works still being done - but well-designed and good to look at ... Read More
Cruise number 7 for Azura from Southampton to the Fjords in Norway 25 June to 2 July- Stavanger, Flamm, Olden & Bergen. Still a very new ship - some evidence of snagging works still being done - but well-designed and good to look at (if you ignore the rear slab). Public areas bright and interesting, cabins well appointed and very comfortable. Over-worked stewards kept the cabins pristine but no chance to establish personal relationships. Very British - real ales at bars, comedy and World Cup Football live but not the P&O prissiness that we've experienced elsewhere - more relaxed about dress codes and staff being flexible about rules. Speciality Dining is fabulous: XVII and Sindhu are well-worth the supplements and The GlassHouse was fun with good gastro-pub food and excellent wine flights - shame about the through traffic to and fro The Playhouse. Oriental Restaurant (late sitting) friendly and very efficient service but range of choices was uninspiring. Many tables empty though as themed buffet dinners at Verona and Italian standard fare at Venezia were very attractive and well-done. The Headliners Shows were excellent - if you liked Mama Mia then you'll love their energy and application to a varied range of musical styles based on standard songs and pastiches of genres. Tony Sloman an excellent guest lecturer on the movies - he knows nearly everyone and has stories about the rest. So why not the full package? This is a superliner with the population of a large village on board - all wanting to be fed, entertained and through security at the same times. Services were frequently over-whelmed by demand; scrabbling for empty tables at self-service meals(For British Users - like a BHS Restaurant on Pension Day!), queueing in that orderly disorder that British people learn at birth, no empty seats at popular bars. Worst examples was embarkation by tender at Olden - hundreds of passengers queued across a coach car park (with moving traffic) and along a (the?) main road through the port. No queue management, poor use of (inadequate) pontoon space and insufficient number of tenders in use. If it had been raining as it had the previous day in Flamm there would have been a riot - as it was the unexpectedly warm conditions on shore were not responded to by provision of shade or cool drinks. Some waited an hour to return to the ship after the end of their tours. Our impression was that the management of the boat have not yet come up with the means to anticipate and manage demand for on-board services. That will happen but Azura will not attract repeat passengers until that part of the experience lives up to its obvious potential. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
Azura is P and O's latest Cruise Liner to join their allustrist list of ships. Like her sister ship Ventura, she is beautiful and has plenty of charm. Cabins are spacious and are clean. One think that needs to be pointed out is that ... Read More
Azura is P and O's latest Cruise Liner to join their allustrist list of ships. Like her sister ship Ventura, she is beautiful and has plenty of charm. Cabins are spacious and are clean. One think that needs to be pointed out is that there is not enough wardrobe space for a 16 night cruise specially when you have 4 Formal nights. The bars are light and airy. Our favourite has to be Breakers bar on deck 17 and the Blue Bar on Deck 6, the Blue Bar is for chilling out after a long day touring. Staff were very pleasant specially Raoul and Messzine they were always smiling and would go out of their way to get you what you wanted. Up in breakers you could sit and watch the world go by that is were we met Fatima a lovely lady with a heart of gold. We ate in the Buffet most nights as we found it easier to get what we wanted, although one down-side was the meals were repeated on themed nights. Entertainment was brilliant, Roy Walker was on for 3 shows and the play house was a sell-out. Tours: We booked all the Tours before we left as we had a good idea what we wanted to see and do, this is highly recommended due to the popularity of the tours. Ship Safety: You will have your usual life drill before leaving Southampton, then on your 3 day you will be asked to leave your life jackets at he end of your bed so as these can be checked by the staff. They also have a man overboard drill which is for crew only. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
We travelled by car to Southampton arriving at the port at 12.15, embarkation was easy and we were in the buffet restaurant by 1pm. Cabins were ready by 2.30. We were very pleased with our balcony cabin on B deck, it had every thing we ... Read More
We travelled by car to Southampton arriving at the port at 12.15, embarkation was easy and we were in the buffet restaurant by 1pm. Cabins were ready by 2.30. We were very pleased with our balcony cabin on B deck, it had every thing we needed and our balcony was not overlooked. Our cabin steward, Alan was fantastic all week. We chose freedom dining to give us choice when planning our evenings. we dined in the Meridian restaurant and thought the quality of food and service was excellent. we also tried the Italian trattoria and the buffet restaurant both of which were good. We didn't feel the need to visit any of the surcharge restaurants.Drinks prices were very reasonable. We had the served breakfast in either the Peninsular or the Orient restaurant, amazing choice of food. We loved the art and photography around the boat and found the decor very pleasing although we would have liked a bigger atrium. It took a few days to find our way around. We thought that the entertainment was excellent on this ship, something for everyone. We tended to go to the Playhouse theatre for a show, then have dinner followed by more entertainment in either Manhattan or Malibar. We saw brilliant tribute acts, singers and comedians. The sail away parties were also very good fun. The planet bar was our favourite place to have a drink with wonderful views from the back of the ship. we did not find the ship crowded and thought the passengers were well dispersed throughout the ship. We enjoyed all ports of call. disembarkation was easy and we were soon on our way home, no stress! We thouroughly enjoyed our week on this ship and would not hesitate to go on her again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2010
Our journey South took at least 30 mins. longer than usual due to an accident near the start of our journey requiring us to use an alternative route, congestion when we wanted to merge onto the original route and the traffic delays in ... Read More
Our journey South took at least 30 mins. longer than usual due to an accident near the start of our journey requiring us to use an alternative route, congestion when we wanted to merge onto the original route and the traffic delays in Southampton. We had not given any allowance for the increased traffic caused by over 3,000 passengers boarding the ship and Queen Mary was also loading at the same time! When we reached the dock side our car was taken care of quite quickly but we had to unload our own luggage and take it to the deposit point. Not a good start, especially after such a horrible journey but better was to come. As we are Portunus Gold Members we did not have to queue and after the security check which did not take too long we were guided to the Malabar nightclub, a lovely place to start our cruise, where we were served delicious sandwiches and a very good champagne. After about 30 mins. we were told our cabin was ready - quite a spacious super deluxe cabin with a fair sized balcony with 2 chairs and footstools and small table. The best bit was the champagne on ice and the Azura chocolates waiting for us on the occasional table. There were 2 T.V.'s facing in opposite directions as the room was quite long. Computer access through the T.V. enabled us to use room service, check the day's menu and our onboard account . There was plenty of drawer space and hanging space in the walk-in wardrobe and plenty of sitting space with a 4-seater sofa. The bathroom was of a reasonable size with lots of storage space and the shower was good although there still was the horrible shower curtain. I did expect in a new ship to have a fixed screen! If you leave the bathroom door ajar the draught usually causes the curtain to stick to your body but it wasn't too bad on Azura as the bottom of the curtain was weighted. Every evening we received a copy of the next day's events with times etc. which gave you a chance to decide which you wanted to attend. Also available was "Britain Today" with excerpts from the newspapers at home but it had to be collected near the Reception area. On other ships it had been delivered to the room. We tried breakfast in the Meridian Restaurant on the first day but did not like it as there were no tables for two and we like to be quiet in the mornings. Next day we tried the Peninsular Restaurant where we had a table for two but did not enjoy that either as the service was slow and we were stuck in a very dull corner. From then until the last morning we had room service which we enjoyed. A point worth remembering is if you do not like the menu as displayed on T.V. you can ring room service and ask for what you want. If you have a balcony, room service breakfast is convenient on a port day as you usually find the scenery is really too good to be missed while you are in the restaurants, especially sailing into the fiords. Our final breakfast was in the Verona and was very good and not too busy. In fact the buffets did not appear over busy like we have seen on some ships. Lunch or afternoon snacks we had in the buffet restaurants and found plenty to choose from, too much sometimes. Our dinner venue was the Oriental Restaurant. The dEcor is beautiful and the service and food were first class. One evening we had dinner in Trattoria, an Italian restaurant converted from the starboard side of Verona in the evenings. No need to book for this one or pay extra but if you don't like waiting, arrive early. The food was excellent as was the wine and service. We did not try the select dining in Seventeen or Sindhu as we considered the cover charge to be too high. Why pay more when there are plenty of free places to eat? We did have lunch in the Glass House on our last day. It is really lovely, the dEcor superb, and lots of different sitting areas. The wine list is extensive and the food which you have to pay for (quite reasonably priced) is very tasty. I would certainly eat there again. There was quite a variety of entertainment to choose from in the evenings. We went mostly to the Playhouse which on the whole is comfortable and spacious but sometimes there was not enough room for the latecomers. The ship's in-house group, the Headliners, were very good all-rounders - their dancing was very good, their costumes stunning as were the speed of the costume changes but the singing left a lot to be desired. All in all quite enjoyable! On two occasions we listened to a classical guitarist, Dimitris Dekavallas, and thoroughly enjoyed his performances. The service on board was first class. The shops were not exceptional only adequate. Disembarkation went smoothly and ahead of schedule. We found our luggage quite quickly in the arrival hall and so to the car park to find our car just as quickly. This was one of our most enjoyable cruises, only too short. We will certainly cruise again on Azura. Stavanger was our first port. We enjoyed a stroll round the dock area in the morning and had an organised trip on a large catamaran along one of the fiords. The scenery was really as one hears of Norway, beautiful mountains, rock formations and of course the reflections - ideal for photographers. We stopped at a local restaurant on the way back and had a drink and waffles with cream and homemade strawberry jam. Their waffles are a cross between our pancakes and waffles, i.e. they are soft and delicious Flåm was our second port where we did our own organising. In the morning we strolled to the railway station, not far from the ship, and bought rail tickets for our trip in the afternoon. Buying our tickets ourselves saved quite a bit and we could choose when we wanted to travel. For the remainder of the morning we strolled along the fiord breathing the clean air and eyeing the panorama that lay before us. The train journey is a must if you are in Flåm. It takes about an hour through spectacular scenery of towering mountains and impressive waterfalls. Olden was our third port where we did an organised trip by coach and boat. We travelled along the shores of the Nordfiord through villages till we reached the Lovatnet Lake where we boarded a boat to view the glaciers, high mountains and lush vegetation. On our return we had to use the ship's tenders and huge queues formed. This wasn't too bad as the weather was sunny and warm but I dread to think what it would have been like if it had been raining! Our fourth and final port was Bergen, the only place it rained most of the day, clearing in the evening. The organised trip we chose was to visit the home of Edward Grieg, the composer. After walking around the gardens and a tour of the museum we listened to a live piano concert of Grieg music. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
I sailed on this voyaage with my mum, being that im 23 and at the time had no partner who could travel we decided we'd both go for a well earned weeks break.Upon arriving at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton we were greated by the ... Read More
I sailed on this voyaage with my mum, being that im 23 and at the time had no partner who could travel we decided we'd both go for a well earned weeks break.Upon arriving at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton we were greated by the Great White Beauty Azura, sitting there basking in sunlight, she was HUGE!!Check-in was really smooth and quick and before we knew it we were up in Verona having a cocktail and some lunch. Staff from the word go were attentive and smiling and happy to help. Staterooms were available from 2pm and we made our way up there about 3 after first looking around the ship and getting ourselves aquainted with the lay out.Sailaway from Southampton was brilliant and as we passed Calshot we knew we were on holiday! Sailaways seemed to be 45 minutes of pure madness but we liked this, gave us a giggle and some great people watching opportunities.We did the 7 nights Spain, France and Ireland trip all places that we hadnt really visited before, Dublin was an insight, Cobh was brilliant with Blarney Castle and the Titanic heritage, Bilbao was intruiging and Brest was interesting. More to follow below.Dinner was always hot and very tasty, only time my tuxedo has ever gotten too tight to comfortably wear lmao we had 2nd sitting with a table for 8, allocated The Oriental Restaurant at the Aft of Deck 6 (in the corner by the window) service was again attentive and nothing was too much trouble for the waiters. we used Verona/Venezia for Breakfast and lunch with food always readily available with choice for various palets and the full english breakie being my favourite.All other areas onboard where imaculatly presented and we tried to utilise all areas where possible. Our fabvourite area however was the Manhattan night club/bar.. we always ended up here at the end of the night. Glass House was a second as we felt all upmarket in the surroundings hahaOverall Azura and P&O went well beyond our expected limits with this cruise, when it came to the end we didnt want to get off but sadly we did. Azura is a real Jewell to P&O's crown as far as we are concerned, the atmosphere the service and the show was brilliant, we will sail again and most definatly back on Azura soon....... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2010
Upon arrival at Southampton our car was expertly and efficiently booked in and whisked away, but not before we had taken our luggage out, which too was quickly wheeled away. A very short walk took us into the new Ocean Terminal, pleased to ... Read More
Upon arrival at Southampton our car was expertly and efficiently booked in and whisked away, but not before we had taken our luggage out, which too was quickly wheeled away. A very short walk took us into the new Ocean Terminal, pleased to see plenty of seats, toilets and refreshments to buy. We were allocated a letter but judging by the numbers of people at the terminal expected a long wait - however within 40 minutes we were in our cabin! We were pleasantly surprised to find very spacious accommodation, considering the bed was king sized. We had a lovely large window, an area with fridge and a box with a selection of coffees, teas, milks, biscuits, very acceptable! Regarding the flat screen tv, the interactive selection could be improved. Shower, toilet and basin with toiletries all supplied . The wardrobe was open style with no door, you just had to be careful if your OH was coming out of the toilet that you weren't standing in the wrong place at the wardrobe, could be a painful collision... We had booked a table for eight at fixed dining of 6.30pm. Our table companions were lovely and entertaining, we had fun time at meals! The food was very acceptable, hardly any nigglements from eight people over fourteen days. We ate in the buffet in the day, we didn't feel the need to pay a supplement to eat in an exclusive restaurant. There was plenty of entertainment, the Headliners were excellent, professional, energetic and sleek, they did ten different shows in fourteen nights. Most of the other entertainment was good. Our cruise was a Tate Themed one and most days we went to lectures about various artists, extremely enjoyable. We called at seven ports, staying overnight in St Petersburg. We found all of the ports different, some more enjoyable than others but none were disappointing. The Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo was amazing, so was the Hermitage Museum, the cossack dancers and St Peter & Paul Fortress in St Petersburg. Many memories will stay with me. Life onboard ran very smoothly, we enjoyed exploring, we think P & O have got it down to a fine art now. One complaint is that they need more ladies toilets outside the theatre, the queues were unacceptable at times. There was plenty of space within the toilet area to install two more toilets. P & O did their best with additional signage to help guide you around but I think with time you work it all out in the end! I liked the Seascreen - outside television screen over one of the pools, although it was a bit wasted at times. I think maybe the timing of programmes clashed with dining. On the whole we never found it too crowded on board - we tended to avoid 'peak' times and it was very easy to have a room service breakfast if you didn't 'want to face people' first thing! At other times you wondered where everyone was! We didn't have children with us but we had a look around their facilities and thought they were excellent. We wished that when our children were young we could have taken them somewhere with such a marvellous play area with so much to do. The cruise was as we expected, the cabin and restaurant staff were very nice and looked after us well, they work very hard. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
Embarkation was very well organised and the new Ocean terminal was spacious with a pleasant atmosphere. Azura is a beautiful new ship. We opted for a balcony cabin which was very nice but a little smaller than other balcony cabins we ... Read More
Embarkation was very well organised and the new Ocean terminal was spacious with a pleasant atmosphere. Azura is a beautiful new ship. We opted for a balcony cabin which was very nice but a little smaller than other balcony cabins we have had in the past. The public areas are very stylish and sophisticated. One of our favourite aspects of cruising is the food, however the food in the main dining venue was not very good and a lot of the staff appeared very unhappy and miserable. Our waiters were quite rude; no introduction on the first evening and no greetings each evening on entering the section they were covering. Instead they actually walked away when we approached our table. Also rudely pushing closed menus at us and then shouting over other dining guests 'what do you want?' I also was told off by the waiter for leaving some food on my plate and for leaving a hot drink! This is not what we have experienced before with other P&O OR Princess cruises. It did spoil our dining experience so much that we decided to eat elsewhere. At night the buffet on one side turns into an Italian restaurant and we ate some lovely meals here. The food was delicious and the waiters all very polite with very good service. The food at linch time was also good both in the restaurant and buffet. The room service was very good and easy to order with interactive TV. Entertainment was very good. Ports Cobh very quiet and not much going on here perhaps it is better to go into Cork by train. The train station was right next to the ship. No shuttle was provided at this port. Dublin free shuttle took you to the heart of the city and dropped you at the bus stops for hop on and off buses and tours. However we walked the short distance to Grafton Street for main shopping area. Try Bewleys for delicious scones , cakes and coffees and hot chocolate! Bilbao again free shuttle stopped just around the corner from Guggenheim museum, lovely city, walked around the charming old quarter and explored the shopping area where there is El Cort de Inglis department store - the 7 th floor has a lovely cafe / restaurant and toilet facilities. 6th floor has a good supermarket. Brest free shuttle takes you to three places, the main shopping area was in chaos due to roadworks and lots of upgrading of seating area, etc but I think once this work is completed will be very nice. There was a La Redoute shop here which was good and a 1 - 2 euro shop which had alsorts! Great choice of chocolate shops here! A very good cruise just a pity about the evening meal experiences! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2010
First time we have embarked at Southampton and that went without a hitch. We were pleased with our balcony cabin and went off to get lunch with high expectations and it all went downhill from there. The lunch was nothing like the sort of ... Read More
First time we have embarked at Southampton and that went without a hitch. We were pleased with our balcony cabin and went off to get lunch with high expectations and it all went downhill from there. The lunch was nothing like the sort of lunch we had received on our previous cruises - no salmon or tasty salads - very bland uninteresting food - even corned beef! Reminded us of 'Mums' gone to Iceland'. However if you are into curries you would have been pleased. It was troublesome to find a table which was understandable as so many people were trying to get lunch and we eventually squeezed into a gap with 2 seats, realising we had forgotten to pick up some water we were very grateful when a waiter serving drinks asked us what we would like - on asking for tap water we were told to get it ourselves at the end of the dining room and that waiters only served drinks that were paid for - very different to our previous experience when the waiters could not do enough for us. On returning to our cabin I noticed the pillows were very full/hard. I find it difficult to sleep on hard pillows but I have never found this a problem before as you are usually given a choice of pillow but although we had 4 pillows they were all the same. I asked our Steward for a softer pillow and was told there were no other pillows available. We went down to dinner hoping the poor food at lunchtime was not repeated We were booked on 'anytime' dining - which from our experience in talking to other guests is probably worse than having 'fixed time' dining. The food was very poor in comparison to our other cruises. the portions were so tiny - we were given just one potato each - we realised after a few days we had to stop being polite and just ask for more food at every course. The literature tells you of this '5 star dining experience' - the food was badly served by waiters who looked very unhappy. If you read the menu it seemed quite impressive but some courses - i,e, the cheese course was never offered to us and when we asked for it we were begrudgingly given small amounts from the smallest selection imaginable. This was our first P & O cruise but others who were regular P & O cruisers assured us that this was not the normal standard for P & O and were just as unhappy as us. It really did seem as if everything was being cut back. One lady who we sat with liked her tea to be strong - we joined them one day for a drink in the cafe where you can buy specialised coffee/tea. She was paying £1.90 for a cup of tea but she asked if they would put in 2 tea bags as she liked her tea strong - she was told that if she wanted 2 tea bags she would have to pay £3.80 for 2 cups of tea! She felt this must be wrong and asked the waitress to check - she did and returned to tell her that the staff have to account for every tea bag so the cost would be £3.80 - Crazy when you think that on the top deck the tea bags were lying there for people to use at no charge. Unfortunately for me I could not sleep on the hard pillow so after a bad night I went to reception and besides asking about the pillow complained about the poor service/food at dinner the previous evening. I was hoping that someone from the restaurant would speak to me but I was immediately informed that it wasn't a problem as the charge for a tip would be removed from our account and someone would contact me re the pillow. After I rang again about this I was told that I should have asked for a soft pillow (special request) before I boarded - I explained that I did not know there would not be a choice of pillow but surely if there was an alternative why could I not have that now and I insited that there must be some alternative. I was then give a non-allergy pillow but why couldn't my Steward have known about that in the first place when I asked. It was the unhelpfullnes of everyone I asked that made the situation worse. The food really was our biggest 'gripe' I love smoked salmon and usually enjoy smoked salmon with scrambled eggs every morning - I think we saw smoked salmon once!! Uusally there is a nice buffet on the top deck whenever you feel peckish - on the Azura it was a joke - most evenings we felt hungry during the evening after the poor dinner but there was little food/choice to pick from in the buffet( unless you like Curry). It was also the attitude of the waiters which was sometimes arrogant which was off-putting. We were told by a fellow passenger who had travelled many times with P & O that one waiter confided in her that they had been told to give as little portions as possible and only give more if asked so no wonder most of them looked so unhappy. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
We had a great Baltic cruise onboard Azura. The weather was exceptional and the ports of call were in the main very interesting places to visit. Observations: Booking was efficient but we received two documents which showed differing ... Read More
We had a great Baltic cruise onboard Azura. The weather was exceptional and the ports of call were in the main very interesting places to visit. Observations: Booking was efficient but we received two documents which showed differing times for embarkation and although we linked our bookings, our party of six found that two were in one restaurant and four in another. This was quickly sorted out to our satisfaction on board ship. The embarkation/disembarkation process was very well organised and clearly P and O are well used to customers who completely ignore their advised check-in times. The lettered cards that you receive when arriving for embarkation are a good way of managing potential queue jumpers. Staff service was excellent Food - was of a very good standard, however we didn't try all of the restaurants. Breakfast buffet - We used this only once and considering the size of the ship it is inevitably rather a scrum with long queues when you choose to eat at the same time as the herd. Passengers - We didn't meet many moaners and thankfully not too many cruise bores either. Generally as in any large ship/hotel there were queues and some frustrations from having such a mass of people, many wanting to do the same thing at the same time but most people were polite and considerate. However, there was one table near us at dinner with some terrible guests whose toilet habits were broadcast for all to hear and one of whom (female) ate with her mouth open all of the time and rarely stopped talking at high volume. We had to rotate our table positions each evening just to avoid the spectacle of her eating habits. Port Information - That provided by P and O was reasonable but limited and contained a map which did not have a scale. I have no real argument with the limited information after all if you are doing your own thing then it's your responsibility to gather sufficient background information. I would however recommend that P and O put a scale on their port maps. Port excursions - I have no idea why anyone would buy a P and O excursion in most ports of call if they are fit and well and have some confidence. Even St Petersburg is not a hostile frontier environment as painted by P and O but I can understand their marketing approach. A little research will be rewarded with more cost effective and interesting choices in any port. Just ask yourself the question "If cruise ships are delivering 10,000 or more passengers each week to a port, who is going to screw things up?" Certainly not the locals. General. 1. The Security Officer could learn what a customer is. When politely asked if those returning from an afternoon excursion could jump the queue for reboarding as they were going out to the ballet, his response was a flat NO, despite other passengers with less pressing timescales agreeing to the request. I wasn't one of those going to the ballet. "Charmless nerk" was how one fellow passenger characterised him. 2. P and O should check their port information before broadcasting it. One example which caused a lot of arguments was when the Captain said in Helsinki that the shuttle bus cost five euros return. We knew that this was incorrect but there were many disgruntled passengers crying "rip-off" when they found that the shuttle cost 8 euros return. 3. Seascreen is a good idea but poorly executed, the area needs a removable cover for use at anytime when it is not warm or dry, that is except for those who want to watch a film covered by a blanket. Watching a film whilst it is raining would seem to be out of the question. 4. We don't usually do organised/package holidays and only cruise when there are interesting destinations that we haven't visited before. So when considering the size of the ship it is inevitably a more costly version of Butlins. (Not that I've ever been to Butlins but I have seen it on documentaries). Also if you are on second sitting for dining it is best to try and avoid the stampede out of first sitting for the good seats in the Playhouse or other entertainment venues. Having written all of the above we would recommend a P and O cruise to anyone but for ourselves we are very unlikely to travel on such a large ship again. Read Less
Azura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 3.0 3.1
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 3.8

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