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Review: Azura

Cruise - Ocean Cruise

Strictly come dancing joins P&O Azura at sea!

  • By SilverTraveller Cornish-Girl

    3 reviews

  • May 2013
  • Inside
  • Regular holiday
  • Husband

123 people found this review helpful

Strictly come dancing now at sea!

We booked a last minute cruise on the Azura sailing to the Canaries on the 11th May, and I am pleased to say it was a pleasant surprise to find that 'Strictly come Dancing ' had come to cruising on the Azura with Craig Revel Horwood, presenting and Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite would be performing. However, as it was last minute we were unable to print out our e-tickets and labels, however no fuss when we booked in everything was ready for us, we had an I/s cabin on deck 12 mid ships, no noise and easy to get to all the amenities. Our cabin steward Norland was great, nothing was to much trouble.

We were shown to the lounge where we were served with champagne and nibbles until our cabins were ready, a nice welcome back. The cases were already outside the door, but the lights refused to work until my OH realised things had moved on and you had to use your cruise card in the slot for the electricity.

A nice double cabin, separate hanging space, plenty of room for us, a large mirror placed at each end of the cabin made it look very large, we certainly had no trouble sleeping and would turn on the TV in the morning to suss out the weather for the day. Norland was our steward and very efficient and helpful he was.

We went to our first sail a way with a nice glass of champagne and met our fellow cruisers.

We elected for 2nd sitting and met up with another nice couple and hit it off, we spent most evenings enjoying their company.

I always insist on eating in the dining room and have at last convinced my OH it's the only way and not the circus upstairs in the self service, you get to meet a good mix of passengers and can have some great conversations and good laughs along the way.

I had no problem with the food served in the dining room it was always hot and plentiful and you could always make a request for something different or exchange it if it wasn't to your taste, never any fuss and our waiters Sonny and Riche were very efficient and pleasant.

This ship had 3080 passengers on it quite a few especially booked for the Strictly dancing event, although some thought that the stars were on board for the whole length of the cruise and weren't very happy to discover that they would only be there from Lisbon three days in fact.

The dance flavour was certainly all around the ship with all the costumes for the last series on dummies (I took loads of them and shoes and will see if I can put them up on a thread).

All the would be contestants for SCD were gradually eliminated throughout the cruise by some very efficient dance teachers who brushed up on the dances every day and also did wonderful sequence dancing which for new starters was much easier and looked so graceful. I danced and had a few dances with others looking for a partner but my OH has two left feet. Craig came on board along with Natalia and Ian and judged the final six, but we were unable to see it as we were at dinner, then Craig did an interview in the Playhouse telling us much about his youth in Australia some of it was quite near the bone.

We all got the chance to see the special show they put on tangos, rumbas etc lovely costumes. I thought it was a great scoop for P&O Cruises and truly enjoyed it.

What I didn't like about the Azura was that almost everything was arranged around the Atrium. Where the dance floor is, there are three tiers from top to bottom, the cafe on the ground floor and a few settees are scattered around the dance floor. Then on the second tier is the Blu bar and on the third the shops, hardly any seating for all these people to see the dancing and events taking place. The choir also sang there but we were unable to enjoy it,  too many people milling about . The Captain's welcome aboard party was also held there and you were very lucky if you were able to get a glass of anything it was so crowded. Yet further up pass the Malabar there is such a great space between there with the Sindhu Restaurant (never very busy) the photographers shop and the night club Manhattan .

The Manhattan is such a badly designed room with great pillars stuck in the middle and TVs stuck above your heads you have to watch these as nine times out of ten you are unable to see the act, this is where they help the final elimination and judging by the SCD team and most of us missed it because we couldn't get in, so no wonder some fans felt cheated. Why on earth didn't they put it in the Playhouse for all to see?

We also had a very im-politically correct comedian and a mind reader who was excellent plus the dancing troop, a lady speaker on Sharks which was also very good as she did the diving and photography.

The Glasshouse was a great place and we enjoyed a couple of lunches there with friends they have a great selection of wines to suit each dish, we also enjoyed a lunch in the Sindhu which seemed busier at lunch time but quieter at night. We also went up to the Verona and enjoyed the curry night with a nice bottle of wine, a very relaxed atmosphere and a great choice of curries. We didn't try Seventeen, maybe we were content with the other dining venues. The Itinerary was 4 sea days which were a mixture of sun and overcast, (we actually acquired a faint tan). Madeira was very warm and sunny we enjoyed the markets and tasted some passion fruit bananas, small bananas sliced longways and yellow seeds such as in passion fruit but tasting of banana very nice.

La Palma was a small Island quite a quaint town but not to much to see and do and was quite cold by lunchtime, we had a glass of brandy to warm us up and hurried back to the ship by 2pm.

Grand Canaries: we waited until lunchtime when the rain stopped and we went ashore explored the town did a bit of retail therapy had the obligatory tapas and a glass of wine then a swim which was really refreshing as the sun was shining.

Lanzagrotty!! yes I wasn't very impressed there was a shuttle bus which took us into the port , we ambled along the harbour and through the town stopped for a beer and back to the ship.

Cadiz : is a favourite of mine I love the narrow cobbled streets and markets we took a taxi and had a short ride around the town it kept spotting with rain but is such a lovely old town when the sun is shining.

Finally Lisbon: again a shuttle bus into the centre, sun shining lovely and warm we took the Hop-on-Hop-off bus and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We then had lunch and a brandy a coffee at a pavement café before returning for the daddy of all British sailaways, and watching the satellite dish and funnel just scrape under the bridge. There are three swimming pools on deck 15, a nice little terrace pool at the stern which leads of from the self service, we like to sit looking over the rails at the wake it is very soothing the pool was quite and dare I say it to warm for me to swim in, but still a delightful view when sailing. Further along is another large pool with plenty of seating a café serving snacks ect., and further on again another outside pool with a large screen showing films which were quite up to date When we came on board there was an offer for the retreat [ the private pool and spa] for £300 a couple, these were soon gone as they were limited, although every time we came by they were not very full.

Three pools; why could they not give one of the centre pools over to adults only? There was a lady with bad hips and she tried to access the retreat even offering to pay all to no avail, she couldn't risk the children jumping on her, there were quite a few children on board although it was term time. All in all it was a great cruise the SCD made it very enjoyable, couldn't do much about the weather. As for the itinerary I wouldn't do the Canaries again not my cup of tea, not interesting enough. I had never visited the Canaries before it was quite a disappointment.

The organisation for large events were spoilt by trying to contain us in the Atrium, so I am not sure whether the Azura is my kind of ship. Although saying that if the right itinerary came up I could be persuaded back on.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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