We booked a long weekend cruise on Azura for my Father-in-law’s 80th Birthday thinking this would be a great way for the multi-generational family to gather for a few days and celebrate. The Azura lived up to our expectations.
The Azura is one of P&O’s largest ships with 3,100 passengers and 1,250 crew and very similar to Ventura which we’d already seen. There is plenty to do on board for all ages from the open air cinema screen in the afternoon, a spa for relaxing in or catching a keep fit class, plenty of bars and places to grab a bite to great musical entertainment and shows in the evening. More on some of those later.
We had booked special assistance for my Mother-in-law and could not fault the service, they arranged for all 7 of us to board the ship at the same time which was a real blessing. Our bags were already on board outside our cabins and we were ready to go almost immediately. The Special Assistance team at Southampton were wonderful and even offered wheelchairs for both my parents-in-law on returning to Southampton.
The Sail-Away party up around the Coral Pool and Breakers Bar was a lively and fun event where it seemed almost all the passengers had come out to wave goodbye. If you prefer some peace and quiet there are plenty of other place on the ship where you could watch Southampton disappearing as we set off on our journey heading first to Zeebrugge.
The cruise was to visit Zeebrugge and Guernsey. We decided not to pre-book any cruise-line shore excursions this time and make our own way around. Having said that there were plenty of options to choose from should you wish to take a shore excursion and available for a variety of abilities.
So on our first night on-board – having all booked Saver fares, we were pleased to have all been allocated the same dining room as the bookings were linked together with a TWID (travelling with identification). Since we were on Freedom Dining we could go at a time that suited us all but since we were a large party we chose to eat early and were greeted in the Peninsular Restaurant with a smile and seated at a lovely round table by the window which in fact we had each night. The food in the restaurant was good (but not extraordinary), and whilst there was not a massive vegetarian selection, required by one of our party, we certainly all ate well.
After dinner we would wander to the The Play House Show Lounge for an hour of entertainment. On one evening it was a show called ‘Electric Avenue’ – an array of fantastic music from the 80’s which had us all joining in! Followed by a more relaxed time of Big Band Sounds in the Atrium where we were entertained by wonderful Jazz Musicians from the Azura Orchestra!
There’s a disco should you want it, a wonderful wine-bar space called The Glass House should you prefer that, or just while away a minute or 2 in one of the lounges – or even burn of some of the calories eaten at dinner in the gym.
If you want some adult time The Retreat is an adult-only alfresco spa terrace where you can get some relaxing sun-rays on the loungers or cabanas.
Our party’s accommodation on Azura ranged from a balcony cabin for the in-laws to an inside cabin of 3. All the cabins we occupied were reasonably spacious and well-appointed especially taking into account the grade of each – certainly no complaints.
There is a library, Casino and even an Art Gallery on P&O’s Azura, and a multitude of bars to sip some bubbly or a little cocktail. Try out the Malabar – exotic themed bar or The Glass House from Olly Smith with a huge range of wines for you to try out in a contemporary styled bar. There is also traditionally styled Brodies Bar or the Blue Bar to try out.
If you are after that special celebration meal then you can (for a supplement) book into Sindu or the rather special Epicurean for superb gastronomy!
You can have formal Afternoon Tea, or help yourself in the Venizia self-service restaurant. The choice is yours but there is always something going on, something to do and probably something available to eat!!