Paul Johnson | July 1, 2022 | P&O Cruises | Azura
Flight out and embarkation: We were very concerned before hand, confusing covid requirements, airports seemed in freefall, would we even get on the aircraft and if we did would it fly? … No need to worry it went like a dream. Transfer from Malta airport to ship was also very smooth. The only thing that was a small spanner was the safety briefing… we arrived on board around 19:30 to find out we had to attend the briefing in the Theatre at 20:30… we hadnt eaten and this timing wise was difficult, it also went on for ever, why we couldnt do what earlier arrivals had done, watch a video in our rooms and turn up at our muster station I dont know … Anyway, it eventually ended and we could get on with our holiday.
The Azura: We have been on her before and enjoyed her. Despite a refit she was looking a bit tired in places. Tbh we couldnt really recall what the changes were. Our cabin was clean and tidy. The Balcony on C deck was impressively large and very well used by us. There seemed plenty of places to sit on sea days. Generally it was as we expected. We like the Azura.
Restaurants: Food wise it was a littel uninspiring. Not that anything was wrong but we have done very many cruises now and in our experiebce the food was average. The Puddings were less than average. Clearly there was some cost saving going on across the board. The choices seemed narrower and for the first time ever I had the feeling that the buffet at lunch time was using leftovers from the evening before in different dishes (as occurs in shore based hotels). TBH this didnt really bother us and is indeed commendable to try and reduce waste in these times. There were queues at the Pizza and Burger bars but thats because they seemed to be cooking to order rather than cooking en masse… and waiting was worthwhile, bucking the trend elsewhere the burgers were amongst the best I have had on any cruise ship.
Bars: We never went thirsty and didnt see any evidence of the huge waits for service as reported on social media. We did notice however a lack of bottles behind bars and for first time ever they couldnt make my fave tipple. My second choice didnt last long either for they seemed to have only one bottle on board…the bar man sent a waiter off to find it and when it was gone it was gone. So again there seemed to be a measure of cost cutting. This one harder to understand because certainly with spirits it isnt wasted so why the bars are not fully stcked i dont know. That said there was always something to drink just not our fave.
Entertainment: Shows were as usual very good. All down to personal taste of course but whatever your tatse they were good quality. We both enjoyed the lectures that we attended (different one so between us we did them all). Quizzes, we usually get into them but were afflicted by our own lack of interest. Maybe its the stamp in a card thing they do for winning. P&O, just give out some pens or key fobs or place mats… it adds an edge and no-one wants to turn up at the shop wanting a prize, clutching a quiz card like some saddo.
Downside in the entertainment was the lack of sailaway parties, the understated Jubillee celebrations were a particular low point. Many fellow passengers were particuarily peeved by it. Although we were not that concerned ourselves. Again overall a rather average effort by the Entertainments team.
Ports of call: Truly excellent, all of them.
Dubrovnik: We used the transfer bus to get into to town. Walked ourselves up the castle to look over the whole town. Then strolled around having ice cream coffee and beer whenever we became too hot. Its such a fab place. We saught out as many Game of Thrones locations as we could and thouroughly enjoyed doing so. The queue to return on the bus was very long.. so we jumped in a taxi and the taxi was less money than the bus so think on people.
Zadar: We didnt actually go into Zadar, this day we did a ships excursion (we dont often do ships excursions tbh)… It was the Mountain Jeep Safari. We had a terrific time saw many sights and were extremely well fed and wined at lunch time at the local mountain farm we called in at. It was a good long day but perhaps just a little expensive for what it was. We did have a great time though so perhaps I,m being Churlish here.
Korcula: Best destination of the cruise (who knew)…. The oldt town surrounded by a medieval wall, whilst small is perfectly formed and sits on the edge of the Adriatic wringing every ounce of prettyness it can out of the location. Its simply stunning. We just walked about, had coffeee in the morning and stayed on for lunch time wine and beers… before making our way back to ship on the Tender.
Split: Hijacked at the port gate by a taxi driver we actually had a very good trip with him at a very very reasonable price and saw A castle high in the mountains that was a GoT location then visited a Roman colosseum and from there onto a view above Split and thereafter we were dropped off in the old town centre. We had a bit of a look around the Palace before having a late lunch and the habitual wine and beer. A great day again.
Next day it was another sea day and we enjoyed some rest time after the harduous few days touring around ashore. All was good.
Disembarkation: Well this was perfect. We had to leave our cabin at 08:00 but we were not meeting for the airport till 16:45. So we went up into Valletta and had a coffee and a walk around. We have visited Malta many times so didnt feel the need to do the tourist things so we just chilled out people watching and brew drinking. On return to the ship we had all the space in the world so we chose the Oasis pool and sunbathed close by cooling off periodically in the pool. Two very relaxed people finally made there way on the coach to the airport. Flight home went very well.
Concusion: Despite some worries (mainly caused by social media) we found the holiday was different but was still ok. Some things could have been better but on the plus side some things were better because of the changes. So it evened itself out really. Holidays are what you make them so we think if something isnt exactly how you want it, its better to move on than dwell on what wasnt quite how you want it. We have had a terrific holiday and we would sail with P&O again and on Azura again.
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