P&O Cruises | AzuraBy on 22 August 2017
Our 14th cruise with P&O Cruises. We have remained loyal because our son loves them and they do their best (not always brilliant!) to cater for my awkward dietary requirements. This was the 29th July departure to Western Med and after so many cruises it was great to go to some new ports of call and revisit a couple of old favourites. New to us were Elba, La Spezia and Cagliari; it was great to go back to Oporto and we tried something different in Civitavecchia by going to Tuscania, a very enjoyable trip.
The Cons: P&O always seem to find particularly dull duos to entertain in the bars and this cruise was no exception. Playing and singing along to a backing track is seldom clever, especially when the singers are, to put it politely, “pitchy”. I’m not normally one for tribute acts and the Davis Bowie impersonator was truly awful! From a distance he looked like the Pale Duke but sang the songs like a Butlins Redcoat (no offence). Frankie Gliksmann is STILL on Azura, STILL dismembering every song he plays until it is barely recogniseable and STILL talking too much! However he came into his own on the Tuscania tour when he pestered the agriturisma into giving us loads of extra wine!! We had an under-powered shower which they tried to fix but couldn’t so offered us a bottle of wine as a “sorry”. That was OK but it didn’t get the conditioner out of my wife’s hair!
The Pros; Virtually everything else. We tend to keep ourselves to ourselves during the day but people seemed to be having a good time. Our son had done his usual (now) trick of going to the kids club on the first evening to make friends then they hardly went again. He’s 15 going on 21 so a club for 13 to 17 year olds doesn’t really cater for many of his tastes, but he dipped in when appropriate, e.g. football with the coach from Arsenal!
House band Jet Set were excellent but their appearances felt rare as the “Guest Band” accent seemed to be everywhere…all the time. They were very very good but generally stuck to the reggae beat. Now I like reggae, but there’s only so much before it gets a bit samey. When they veered off to other styles they really showed themselves to be a great unit and Victoria their singer was exceptional. They played a party set in the Atrium on the last night, something I’ve not seen before, and it was very successful. I’ve read other people saying they thought the Headliners troupe weren’t very good. I have to disagree. The kids were excellent, dancing well and singing in tune with no screetching. Their only problem was the new show they had to perform, “Evolution” a very weird concoction of well performed 80’s songs, some good dancing but to the most odd choreography. I’m afraid before the end of the show I was laughing, and I don’t think that was the intention! Jet Set reincarnated themselves one afternoon and gave the most brilliant show highlighting the work of Eric Clapton (I subscribe to the slogan “Clapton is God”). Billed as a one off, it looked like them enjoying themselves, and lots of crew members came to watch. A standing ovation from the entire audience of an almost full Playhouse was well deserved. The latest round of P&O cut-backs seem to have hit the Entertainment Team. There were only 6 plus the often invisible Ents. Manager, but those of you who know Jo B, will appreciate that she made up for the lack of numbers with her ever-present joviality. P&O really need to give her her own ship…
The cut-backs also meant that some of the Headliners were used during the day, such as leading line dancing and helping with the choir. This is no bad thing!
We were club dining and our waiters were great. They were both going home at the end of our cruise after six months on board, so evening meals often had a sort of end of term feel about them which was fun. Any ideas that P&O think about who to sit with whom were dispelled when we found our companions were three widows travelling together and a Granny with her 17 year old grandson. They were lovely people but there was little to share during our times together.
The biggest problem on this cruise was created by some of our fellow passengers on disembarkation day. We had a disembark time of 9 to 9:30 and we had to muster in the Playhouse. We arrived a bit early (around 10 minutes) but were happy to wait. There weren’t too many staff around, but we heard one radio transmission that said the luggage hall was “rammed” and that passengers should be held for a while. This was when some passengers became very impatient and started complaining vociferously at the poor crew members who were in attendance. When it looked like one section of the theatre was going to disembark before passengers who had been there earlier, all hell broke loose, with people storming across the theatre to remonstrate with the crew and arguing with each other. I really thought there was going to be a punch-up! It was appalling behaviour by some people very much old enough to know better and I hope that on reflection they are ashamed of themselves. To put this “terrible” delay into perspective, we were on our feet before 9:30 am and on the road at 9:59 having had, all in all, yet another great cruise holiday.