Date: 19th March 2016 – 31st March 2016.
Cruise: We found this cruise as a deal and payed £850 each for the cruise and flights. We thought this must be too good to be true and were expecting an email at any time to ask us to pay more! We flew from Birmingham to Barbados and once we were off the plane the heat was unbelievable, as we were dressed for Wales in March and not quite ready for the Caribbean! The P&O transfer picked us up from the plane…literally, we didn’t have to go through the terminal buildings at all. The cruise itself was St Lucia, St Martin, Tortola, 5 days at sea, The Azores and then 3 more sea days travelling to Southampton.
We had cruised before on the Disney Dream and so expectations were high, as the level of service with Disney was exceptional. I am so glad that P&O lived up to the hype and the service was still first class!
The Ship: The Azura is classed as a large ship and can hold 3,100 passengers and 1,250 crew members. The ship has 19 decks and everything you would ever need to make your holiday magical. The staff were amazing and they went out of their way to help you. We stayed in an inside room which was the cheapest option. The room doesn’t have a window but we were not to bothered about this as we spent most of our time out of the room. The advantage of an inside room is the afternoon ‘Nana Naps’ you can take as it’s always dark! I loved a nap on the cruise, especially on the sea days, as the swell of the sea rocked me to sleep.
The Food and Drink:
Peninsular which was our main dining room. We had the option when booking whether to have a timed dining slot or opt for freedom dining where we could go whenever we liked. We opted for freedom dining on this cruise and it worked well. One thing we did like was we could ask for a table for two and just had to wait a little longer to get it, usually about 20 minutes. We did share a table once with two other couples, which we found awkward as we had nothing in common and didn’t seem that have much to talk about! From that point onwards we always asked for a table for two.
The food in the main dining room was amazing! There was a different menu every night and we tried something different every night. Over the two weeks we had fish, steak, pasta, curry and a whole lot more. Each meal was served with bread service, a starter, main, a dessert AND cheese boards! We usually had two courses as we were just so full but you could have as many as you wanted. The nice thing is because you are eating in the same place every night the staff get to know you by name and enjoy to chat and talk about your day. This was a lovely touch and very impressive with over 3000 passengers!
Verona and Venezia were the buffet locations on the ship. We used these for breakfast and lunch whilst aboard the ship… well… Mike used it for breakfast as I was still fast asleep most mornings! The food was tasty and there was plenty of choice. The fresh fruit section was a personal favourite.
The Epicurean was an add on which you pay a small cover charge to eat in this high end restaurant. This was an amazing place to eat and so quiet and cosy. The menu was amazing and offered a range of meals. They even brought out what looked like an egg and lipstick which tasted of raspberry and mango. The dessert was fab, it was inside a giant white chocolate ball that they used a small hammer to crack to reveal the sweet inside! We had a brilliant meal here and it was nice to dine somewhere other than the main room. This was money well spent!
Afternoon Tea at The Epicurean again came with a small cover charge but was again totally worth it. This menu was designed and created by Eric Lanlard and was spectacular. The afternoon tea came with the following:
- Choice of tea from a LARGE list.
- Salmon and Dill on a yellow and black pepper macaroon
- Roast Beef Brioche
- Cheese Eclair
- Exotic Pop Cake
- Dark Chocolate Tear Drop
- Summer Berries and Meringue
- Orange Infused Almond Cake
- Lemon Scented Scones
We also had the Lanson Rose Champagne to go with it. This is the best afternoon tea I think I have ever had and the environment was quiet and relaxing. The only problem we had was how full we felt leaving! It took a long time to get through it all! We highly recommend this and we will be back again.
Sindhu again is a restaurant with a small cover fee which we highly recommend you try. This is an Indian restraint with a British twist and every thing we ate here was interesting and amazing.
The Glass House was one of our favourite hang outs. We would sit on the comfy seats watching the world go by while drinking nice wine. We tried many of the wines throughout the two week journey including flights of champagne. We also tried the food which came at an extra cost but was lovely. We tried the baba ganoush, tempura prawn, chicken pate and veg burger.
Planet Bar was our favourite parts of the boat. This bar hangs over the edge of the ship where you could see the waves crashing against it. We would sit around the corner with cocktails and watch the sea. This became a daily routine before dinner. We tried many of the delicious cocktails on offer including Kir Royale, Planters Punch, Long Walker, Blueberry Smash, Singapore Sling, Haig Clubman, Bellini, Old fashioned, Spring Punch and Vodka Martini.
Breakers Bar which is an outdoor bar on one of the top decks. We drank Dark and Stormy cocktails which were lovely and reasonably priced.
Aqua Bar for naughty and spice cocktails which were good…. in keeping with the rum theme on this trip.
The Playhouse is the ships theatre which was open every evening for different forms of entertainment. We saw musicians, dancers, singers and the P&O entertainment team. This was a great opportunity to get dressed up and go for dinner and then to see a show. We saw the following shows and all were brilliant, we especially liked the Azura’s Got Talent show!
- Destination Dance
- Blame it on the Boogie 70s
- Curtain Up – show about all the different musicals where they sang and danced to some of the stages largest numbers.
- Roy Locke
- Electric Avenue 90s
- Reel to Reel Celebrating the Best in British Film
- Azura’s Got Talent
SeaScreen another thing we loved doing was watching the Sea Screen which would play films throughout the day and night. We watched films at night time as they would put the comfy loungers out and offer blankets. We loved wrapping up warm and sometimes hiding from the rain underneath the blankets. This is where we could really feel the temperature difference between the Caribbean and Europe!
Tour of the Galley with Brunch We were lucky enough to be offered this experience through our server in the main restaurant and were so glad we paid the little extra. A lot of work goes into feeding 3,100 passengers every day! On an average 14 day cruise passengers will consume 16,000 bread rolls, 700 loaves of bread, 80 tons of fresh fruit and veg, 2,850 bottles of wine. The ship has its own bakery and makes all the bread fresh daily, it also has its own butchers. It was like military operation serving in the main dining room for the evening meal. The staff work so hard and it was amazing to see how big the kitchen team were. We had brunch here with champagne which was lovely. Highly recommend!
The Great British Sail Off this was a show put on by the entertainment team on the top deck. This was to celebrate our last Caribbean island and we were now setting sail for Britain. They played music from all home nations England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. We all had the Union Jack waving as we set sail for home. This was mixed emotions as we love the Caribbean but also felt good to celebrate home. It was one big party.
- My favourite part of the day was the Captain announcement where he would discuss the ships course, weather, wind and any interesting facts about the next port or day. The captain always finished with a thought of the day such as ‘better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times’ which I always had to listen to. I loved hearing thought of the day!
- The sunsets are by far the best I have ever seen in my life. They were romantic and beautiful.
Here are a selected few photos from the 100s we took over the two weeks.