P&O Cruises Azura (February 2023) - Our Initial Thoughts
Updated: Mar 22
In February 2023, we joined P&O Cruises Azura for the 3rd time. That might make it sound like we've spent a lot of time onboard Azura, but we actually haven't. Our previous two cruises on Azura were both short 2 night cruises. We were expecting this one to be very different and were looking forward to having a chance to try out Azura properly!
Having cruised on Azura's sister, Ventura, multiple times previously, we know the ship layout well and instantly felt comfortable onboard Azura. This cruise was a fly cruise, with the flights included in the cruise fare and we were able to get an excellent price for a half term sailing. We're going to be sharing lots more about what we did on this cruise both on here, and across our social media, including our brand new YouTube channel. To get us started, here are the things we loved, and a few little issues that could have been better.
The staff/crew - we can't praise the staff onboard Azura enough for how fantastic they were during this cruise. Everybody onboard worked so hard, from the moment we boarded right up until disembarkation. It felt like they couldn't do enough for us. Lots of the staff were friendly and they spent time chatting to us. I don't think there was a single occasion where we passed a staff member onboard who didn't say hello as they walked past.
The ships condition - we both remarked that considering her age the ship was in great condition. All of the public areas were very well maintained and there were lots of furnishings that looked relatively new. It's been around 18 months since Azura was last in dry dock, and the updates from that refurb seem to be wearing well.
Guest entertainers - the standard of guest entertainers onboard this cruise was exceptional. We were treated to a vocalist - Harry Linacre, a Paloma Faith tribute act - Sammy Lomax and a great comedian - Jack Ryan. We thoroughly enjoyed all of their shows.
The weather - nothing to do with P&O, but the weather was fantastic during this cruise. It was so nice to get some winter sun. We definitely didn't want to come home to a cold and wet Birmingham!
Organisation - something P&O are great at are fly cruises. This is our 3rd fly cruise with them and we've always had great experiences. We didn't pre-book seats and we were still seated together on both plane journeys. The transfers were well organised, and you simply can't beat putting your luggage out on the last night and meeting it again back at your home airport.
Food - we had some lovely meals onboard this cruise and were treated to some new menu options that we hadn't had before. We also enjoyed using the buffet at lunch time on this cruise. It's not normally a favourite for us, but there were lots of options and the food was consistently hot and fresh. We also tried out 3 of Azura's speciality restaurants on this cruise (The Glass House, The Beach House and Sindhu) and all of them were very good.
Availability of drinks - as usual we purchased the 'Ultimate Drinks Package' and were given the usual speech about availability, whilst also being asked to sign the T's and C's. We appreciate that it's still challenging to keep ships well stocked however running out of Pepsi Max on day 2 of a cruise is something that's never happened to us before. There also seemed to be a lot of wine shortages onboard. One afternoon in the Glass House we heard a member of staff ringing around the ship trying to find some wine. Not great! The poor availability made an already limited drinks package even less ultimate.
Venue choices - we weren't sure what to call this one, but some of the venue choices for day time activities/events seemed a bit bizarre. One in particular that stands out is the 'Battle of...' quiz. This is a pub quiz type format and is always well attended, but for some strange reason this quiz was held in Malabar on Azura. Malabar didn't open until 5pm on this cruise but the quiz took place at 12pm, meaning you had to go elsewhere to get a drink. There also aren't any screens in there so this quiz was formatted differently to normal and just didn't work as well.
Shower curtains - we knew Azura had shower curtains rather than shower screens but it doesn't mean we have to like them. The Azura showers aren't the roomiest either, so it made touching the shower curtain quite difficult to avoid!
Overall entertainment program - this is a bit of a weird one, because we really enjoyed the entertainment we saw. However, there were some notable absences. We didn't see or hear of Pulse until day 4, which is very odd on a P&O cruise. Usually they are everywhere. We were also massively disappointed by what was offered on our final night onboard. Rather than a show, there was a film on in the main theatre. We're not sure if this is usual for the Friday night overnight in Tenerife, or if it was because of the Carnival. Whilst we enjoyed getting off the ship and attending Carnival, this didn't really get started until 11 so we would have liked to have seen more options on board that night and we could have enjoyed both.
Issue with a charge - following our Glass House meal we noticed that we had been charged incorrectly. We'll go into this in more detail in future posts, but lets just say it was a nightmare to get this resolved. We got there in the end but had we not pushed the matter, the additional charge would not have been removed.
Overall, we really enjoyed this cruise onboard Azura and it felt very much like a pre-covid cruise. The ship was busy, the staff were happy and everybody onboard seemed to be having a great time. There was a lovely atmosphere on the ship and we had such a good time that we're tempted to book the same itinerary for the same time next year.