Gail | October 16, 2019 | P&O Cruises | Azura
This is our second time on Azura and we absolutely loved this particular itinerary as we had not visited most of the ports before we also add excellent weather (which always helps) and the captain was very good and regularly walked around the ship chatting with passengers. The entertainment was some of the best we have seen on a cruise (although we are selective about what we see) but everything we chose to watch was of an excellent standard. The entertainments director Neil Oliver was also very good and was brilliant to watch him joining in with his team on the sailaways. We chose to use the Retreat as we had done previously on the understanding that we would be guaranteed a sunbed as when we travelled in January people were queuing at 8am to guarantee they got one even though we paid a premium to ensure this, the spa were selling too many day passes ( I have to say that it eventually got sorted) so after clarifying that this would not happen again we paid to use the Retreat for the whole of the cruise duration. We were advised that the Oasis pool was now open to all passengers on the ship (which we already knew). Unfortunately P&O seem to have cobbled together the access to the Oasis pool which gives access to some of the Retreat sunbeds, these were being used on a regular basis until the Retreat staff asked them to move. Due to the poor signage and the poor management of the Retreat passengers were sometimes on the sunbeds for a while and settled in before having to gather their belongings together and move! Towards the end of the 24 day cruise the Retreat was starting to look as though it needed a good clean ie bits of paper and a hairgrip on the floor for several days and still their on our last day. Due to the footfall to the Oasis pool and the access of passengers walking through where some of the Retreat sunbeds are located it contradicted the whole idea of a Retreat!! P&O you really need to look at this and sort something out as it is not the fault of passengers as it is really unclear where the Retreat starts now unless you are behind the gates where access is via a swipe card. To add insult to injury we paid nearly double the amount we paid in January for less exclusivity. Now onto the food – we chose to use the Freedom dining (the first time we have done this) and did wonder if the poor quality of the food was due to us choosing to dine at 8.45/9pm and the food had been kept warm, but on listening to passengers on the cruise and also reading some of the reviews it would appear that this is probably not the case. Out of the 24 day cruise we only ate in the Meridian restaurant five times. When we travelled in January on a 21 night cruise we probably ate in the Peninsular restaurant about 17 nights as the food was good. On this cruise we ate in all the alternative dining venues and in the buffet on three occasions in the evening and the food was excellent so why the food in the allocated restaurants was so poor I can only assume is down to the chef, which I also assume was not the same chef who was on the ship in January. I also think the menus possibly need an overview as some of the combinations seemed a little bizarre. We have another cruise booked in March on the Aurora (we haven’t travelled on her before so not sure what to expect) but after that I think we may consider trying another cruise line so we can compare. All that said we had a fab time and absolutely love the Azura as a ship and the choice it gives.
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