Azura photos and new things onboard
I have just returned from a 7n Cruise on Azura, we had 2 sea days and 4 port days, to Ireland (Dublin & Cobh) , Spain & France,. Here are a few of my personal observations about Azura, and how she is different from the other smaller
P& O ships..
1. You now get just one cruise card which is your security card to get on and off the ship with built in photo, charge card for buying everything onboard and also a cabin door key - so no need for 2 cards now as this one card does everything, and no wallet is given out any more.
It is different from the other ships cards, as it has a bar code on it with all your details, which is swiped by the staff and clearly shows your Portunus level with a different coloured strip on the side with 'Cruise card' for newbie, 'Ruby' , 'Sapphire' or 'Gold' . This card sadly does not have your cabin number on it, which some people will miss, as it sometimes takes a few days to remember your cabin number! A shame that is not on it, but I suppose it is because it is also a key card, and if lost someone could break in to your cabin if it got into wrong hands if they had the cabin number.
2. This card also controls the lights and power of the cabin, so has to be inserted into a slot on the wall just inside your cabin by door. There is no notice above, to tell you to insert card, so many people no doubt who have not been on Azura before may well wonder around in cabin wondering why they have no lights and call steward. Its a good idea really as it ensures all lights are off when you leave the cabin.
3. As the power sockets also cut out there is ONE power socket which has a sign over it on dressing table saying 'always on' this one can be used to charge mobiles, camera batteries etc while you are out of the cabin.
4. Lovely large walk-in wardrobes in all grades of cabins (Ventura also has this)
5. Azura also has interactive TV which means you can access a number of different things including ordering room service breakfast and viewing your onboard account bill at any time. Which is useful.
6. There is a lovely wooden refreshments box on your table with a new addition of Lyons Ground coffee bags ! (In decaf and normal strength) These make a excellent coffee, there are also now Twining tea, (Tetley now gone), powdered coffee, usual P&O biscuits etc.
7. The entertainment in the evening is very good. There are now 3 performances in the Playhouse theatre, which must be very tiring for the Headliners theatre dancers and singers and the other entertainers who join the ship.
The first performance at 7.15pm is ideal as it was always easy to get a seat, we were on 2nd sitting and went to this show before going on to dinner. It finished at 8pm so there was enough time to get a pre-dinner drink and go onto dinner. The 2nd performance at 8.30pm for 1st sitting coming out was much busier with queues waiting to get in as we came out. The 3rd sitting is at 10.30pm.
This meant that after dinner we could do something else, Manhattan and Malabar both had live entertainment happening, We saw George Michael and Phil Collins Tribute bands, cracking Comedians and a showband.
Also on this cruise in the Playhouse was Clem Curtis (From the Foundations (build me up buttercup just to knock me down etc,) and Vince Earl a Comedian/Singer who was in Brookside so he said, He was very good too. It was great to be able to see two lots of entertainment, or go dancing etc.
The tribute bands are being trailed on here, to see if they are popular, if the are, they should be introduced to the rest of the fleet. I for one would like to see them on Arcadia and Aurora etc.
8. Plenty of places to eat.
was a Italian waiter served restaurant in the evening (ss buffet by day) This was very popular and had a waiting time for a table of 45 mins one evening when we tried to go there.
SS Buffet Venezia
had themed buffets every evening we went to the curry night, my first time ever I had been to buffet in the evening. Must of been good as the Captain was in there with friends on the night we went!
Peninsular, Oriental and Meridian Restaurant
The first two are for club dining 1st sitting and 2nd. Meridian is for freedom dining from 6pm-9.30pm.
I heard Freedom dining was massively over-subscribed with a lot of people told they could not use it
11am - 8.30pm for Fresh pizzas made to order
XV11 - 6pm - 10pm . A massive £25pp supplement on our cruise of 7nights...I have read this figure can change depending on the length of the cruise.... We ate here one evening. Similar to Rhodes - attentive service , wonderful meals with amuse bouclé between of soup and a mango hot soup before sweet. No trouble booking a table, I booked on embarkation day and got the evening I want. But if left too late to book may have trouble. The Restaurant Manager always have a diary of which dress code evening is on which day so best to book early to get what you want, we like going on a semi-formal night, leaving formal nights to be enjoyed in the main dining room.
£20pp cover charge 6.30pm- 9.30pm.
Heard excellent reviews of this restaurant and so far no poor ones. If we had been on a longer cruise we would of tried it.
At lunchtime it is open for 3 mini plate taster snacks for £4.95
Olly Smiths wine bar. Hundreds of Quality wines available by the glass to try. Great snacks available at lunchtime. See my photos for examples. Risotto with a melting breaded camembert onto £3.50 supplement, 3 mini 'tapas' style plates £4.95, including salmon fishcakes with butter sauce, and temp King battered prawns with dips. You can also eat here in the evenings, and if I had been on a longer cruise I would of done, it was sublime. The 3 plates are then starters!
Photos from this cruise 7n to Ireland, (Dublin and Cork), N. Spain (Bilbao) and N. France Brest here:
For more photos just of the ship (60), taken on a earlier Azura visit when I stayed overnight for the naming Ceremony in April click this link:
Here are the Naming Ceremony ones again for anyone who didn't seem them in April:
I really liked the ship. We had 4 ports on our cruise, and there were plenty of free shuttle buses and disembarkation at ports and at the end of the cruise was trouble free for us.
Food portions are smaller now, but this maybe fleet-wide since the new cruise season in April. The steaks which you can order separately at dinner for example were a few oz’s smaller than they used to be. The vegetables spooned onto plate pitiful - one or two roast potatoes, 2 croquette potatoes etc and then they move on. If you ask for more you will get more, and even double meal portions, The waiter will automatically give you bigger portions after the first night. I have read this is to cut out on waste.
The luggage labels you print off from your computer onto A4 paper from the cruise personliser were a disaster!
As you all may know, at the moment !(this may change) you still get 4-6 labels in your cruise information booklet delivered 3-4 weeks before the cruise, but if you want 'additional' labels, or if , like me you didn't get any because you booked 'last minute' you have too print the labels onto A4 paper and fold them and staple to case handles, .. I even laminated mine as well, and we still had problems...
Muminlaws case never found its way to the cabin... when it hadn't arrived after muster, hubbie went looking for it, and found it at reception with lots of other cases that had lost their labels 'en-route' too, luckily she had a luggage strap with her name embossed on it which helped to identify it.
Then during the week, somehow hubbies label disappeared off his case in the cabin, we still haven't worked out where it went, and this morning, when we were retrieving cases from the baggage hall, his suit carrier had lost its label enroute from cabin to Arrivals Hall!
Besides laminating my labels and stapling as told too around case handle, I also put our own labels on our cases, but had to go to reception and get more labels during cruise for disembarkation so I had the Deck letter on it.... strangely they had No ' A' deck labels so they gave me another deck label and wrote over it. I hope this trial is abandoned and they return to the normal labels soon, but I did hear they intend to use these labels all the time soon and discontinue giving out the nice ones which we get in the booklet...Azura is trailing this scheme. The lady in the disembarkation hall said any one who was unhappy with this scheme should write to HO and complain.
I liked the ship a lot and would sail on her again without hesitation.
Having now cruised on all the ships in the present fleet (except Artemis which I have been on for a ship visit for the day), I would rank her personally in my top 3.
I hope the info and photos have been of some interest.