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Christmas in the Caribbean by Thurstance, Bedford

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Azura

OVERVIEW: Azurais P&O Cruises’ most advanced cruise ship. It is best suited to families with children and adult couples who are seeking a big-ship environment with comfortable, unstuffy surroundings, lots of options, and a British flavor.


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Christmas in the Caribbean

Overall Rating: 5
1973 views

20 out of 21 people found this useful
Cruise Line:
P&O Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Azura
Destination:
Caribbean

Reviewed By: on
We flew out to Barbados from Gatwick on Christmas Eve. On previous P&O cruises we've flown Thomson and were a bit wary of Thomas Cook after reading some bad reviews but our flight out was very good. The cabin crew were some of the nicest I've come across and couldn't have been more attentive. The plane itself was ok - leg room was adequate, seats reasonably comfortable. The food was actually edible and drinks readily available. A good start. Our flight back was ok too - so can't complain about Thomas Cook at all.

Arriving at the cruise terminal in Barbados and seeing the ship waiting is always an exciting moment and Azura does look very impressive. We've cruised on Ventura before so had some idea of what to expect sizewise but Azura is quite different in many ways.

We had an inside cabin - we used to have balcony cabins but didn't seem to get much benefit so started booking an inside and it suits us. Our cabin steward, Bernie, was the best. We was responsible for our cabin and ours boys who were next door and she did an excellent job. I think she was the best cabin steward we've had. The cabin itself was very spacious. I like the open wardrobe arrangement and there was plenty of storage space. The bathrooms are always small but it was adequate.

We were waitlisted for Freedom Dining so were delighted to find that we'd been given it. It suits us as the boys like to eat with their friends and we eat by ourselves in the evening. The Meridian restaurant was very efficient - much more organised and much better service than on Freedom on Oceana last year. The waiting staff were much more friendly and the front desk system seemed to be working very effectively. We quite often had a pager but we do eat at around 8pm which is a busy time so we didn't mind. By the time we'd got a drink in the bar our table was usually ready. We found the food very good with a good choice. I always find the New Year's menu very disapointing though and this year was no exception. The desserts that night are always awful - stodgy pastry and pastry and pastry. Otherwise the menus were very good so can't complain. There was far too much food anyway so it doesn't hurt me to miss the odd dessert.
We ate in XVII which was excellent and made a nice change. We also ate in Sindhu the second week and wished we'd booked for both weeks. It was by far the best meal I've ever had on a cruise - the service was exceptional too. I thoroughly recommend it. We ate in the Trattoria one night too - tricky to get a table but we just happened along at the right time. Lovely food- service was ok. Seemed to be full of crew groups taking up all the space though which seems a bit much. Perhaps P&O should consider restricting it to paying passengers.
We also ate in the Glasshouse - the food and wine in here are wonderful - the service pretty poor unfortunately. We found we could get most of the wines in the Planet bar and much preferred it up there. The film wall is a great feature and the service excellent.

Sunbeds - not too much of a problem for us as we are always up early and only sunbathe in the mornings. We started out sitting by the Terrace pool at the back but found it a bit crowded (and that's where the moaners hang out it seems) - so we moved to by the Sun Screen and found we really liked it there. There was a good atmosphere and the football / films on the screen were popular (the films with me, the football with my husband). They also showed excursion information during the day which was interesting and the ice carving/cooking demonstrations as well which made them much easier to see.

Entertainment - Headliners, as always, were very good. The shows were entertaining. We usually went to the 7pm show which was pretty empty. We saw the Freddie Mercury impersonator who was great. The George Michael one who was rubbish - the show lounge was packed full when he started and emptied steadily during his act!!!! We went to Ray Clemence's talk in the theatre - I probably wouldn't have gone to be honest but my husband wanted to go, but I really found it interesting. He's a very good speaker and his talk was well worth going to.

Excursions - we only did a few of P&O excursions, preferring to do our own thing. We went snorkelling on Bonaire which was a really good experience. Not too far on the bus - a small, friendly group of passengers and some great snorkelling. We also went to the botanical gardens / climbing the waterfall trip on Jamaica which was also excellent. Our excursion in Aruba, however, was pretty poor. Our first stop was a garden centre - yes, a garden centre - just like the one I go to back home but smaller and most of the plants were dead. They even had the nerve to try to take us around it on a guided tour. Very bizarre. It was the Aruba Highlights tour and all I can say is that if this tour is anything to go by then Aruba doesn't have any highlights. Which is a shame as I rather like Aruba - we've done our own thing previously and it's a nice island.

Overall, we had a great cruise. I think Azura is my favourite of all the ships we've been on. We do walk around the promenade deck several times a day but it didn't worry us too much that we couldn't go all the way round. We spent a lot of time exploring and walking around the ship and it's surprising how many quiet spots there are to just stand and look. We found the service on Azura was generally excellent and the crew seemed particularly cheerful and friendly.

20 out of 21 people found this useful

Times cruised before: 3-5
Sailed: December, 2011
Age: 46-55
Cabin: Inside
Occasion: Family holiday

Quality of Food
Freedom Dining works well for us.
4

Entertainment
Headliners theatre group were great.
4

Shore Excursions
Excursions on Jamaica and Bonaire were excellent. Avoid 'Highlights of Aruba' unless you like garden centres.
3

Staff
Our cabin steward was excellent and generally the service on board was very good.
5

Children's Facilities
0

Onboard Activities
4

Cabins
5

Overall Rating
5
Review useful?
Comment
Dunn -
, St. Austell - Commented about this Review
Thank you for taking the time to write your extensive review it really help us, my husband and I are going on Azura Mar 17th, really looking foward to it.
12 Feb 12 01:08 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
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