Introducing Azura – A larger, family friendly ship
After a week long cruise along the Norwegian fjords and coastline I can say wholeheartedly that Norway is a beautiful country and one I will be returning to in the future. This holiday has been long awaited having booked in June 2015 and when the day finally came to board we were so excited.
We had booked our P&O cruise with Thomas Cook after speaking with a very experienced cruiser who really had enthusiasm for the company and, for the ship Azura, which would be the one we would sail on. Months went by with Adam and I peering through reviews, pictures and deck plans of the ship to help us get familiar before we boarded. However, we had no idea how a cruise would work so we decided to book a mini cruise with P&O to give ourselves a chance to learn procedures. Even though our first cruise was on a different ship we had a much better idea of what to expect and I think it really helped us to prepare for the embarkation and security checks for our longer break this August.
Azura is the third biggest ship in P&O’s fleet behind the current flagship Britannia and my gosh is it large! Getting around on Azura is fairly simple though with plenty of places to dine, drink and dance during your adventure. She regularly sails along the fjords, the med and the Caribbean and for our voyage was captained by Robert Camby who was a fantastic captain, alongside the crew. They lead to us having a fantastic trip filled with beautiful sights. His thoughts of the day were very entertaining.
If you’d like to read more about our balcony cabin you can do so here.
Food & Drink
The choice of food and drink was exquisite and served by friendly waiting staff each evening in the Oriental restaurant. We were part of the 2nd sitting club dining which meant we dined at the same table each night at the same time. The 2nd sitting starts at 8.30 which gives you plenty of time to explore a port, relax and get dressed up for the night. Here are some of my favourite plates throughout the duration of our seven night cruise.
I recommend a visit to the Glass House to try the small plates which come at an extra cost of £5.75 for three. These were delicious and very filling. We snacked and shared with a delicious glass of red.
There are plenty of drinks, cocktails and spirits onboard available in the bars and cabin. Each day a cocktail of the day is recommended alongside a specially selected bottle of red and white wine with the menu. I loved my tropical frozen daiquiri!
There was a great amount of entertainment on board both during the day and evening. We enjoyed seeing both comedians who were really funny in both shows. I love to laugh and it’s a great way to spend an evening with a cool drink after a delicious meal. From what I could read on the Horizon newspaper there were plenty of sports and fun activities for families, children and quizzes for adults. Each night had a different show from musical theatre to singers and bands. The entertainment went on into the early hours of the morning however we didn’t hear a thing when we got back to our cabin and were able to sleep soundly.
Not something for us but there was a few shops close to the Atrium which sold a variety of goods including clothing, perfume and alcohol.
Swimming Pool, Spa and Health Club
Features we didn’t use, due to lack of confidence on my part and money on my banks part but there is a gorgeous adults only spa terrace, adults only pool and gym. There are also three further pools and whirlpools for passengers and families to enjoy 24 hours unless under maintenance. All are surrounded by bars with food and drink offered throughout the day, deck chairs, tables and the fabulous sea screen outside cinema which shows around three films per day. You can ask a staff member for a seascreen blanket if it’s particularly cold and the sea screen deck chairs have comfy pads.
The ship was beautiful with so much to see and do. It was comfortable and tastefully decorated. The staff were friendly and professional and the Horizon newspaper which was delivered nightly to the cabin was incredibly helpful. I have loved my week long holiday on the Azura and sailing through the Norwegian fjords. If you’re interested in the ports I visited you can read all about Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger & Geirangerfjord and, finally, Bergen.
Is it suitable for families?
Yes, Azura is a family friendly ship.
Is there a kids club on board Azura?
Yes, the Kids Club is located on deck 17, named The Reef, at the back of the ship. It is open daily and the times are in the Horizon newspaper. The kids club closes at midnight and the night nursery closes at 2am. It is fully staffed with members having an enhanced CRB check.
Are all the restaurants suitable for children on Azura?
I have seen children in the dinner restuarants however I am unsure if there is a catered menu for them. However, Venezia, the buffet restaurant, serves kid-friendly dining options from 5pm, there is Ice cream, pizza and sandwiches available too. I would go with your gut and if you think your children will like the menu there’s no harm in trying them with something new. Everything is cooked to order so you could always ask for plan chicken or salmon with the available side dishes such as vegetables, rice or chips.
What is the dress code on Azura?
During the day you can wear what you like however swimwear is only for the decks. If you enter any of the bars you must be wearing suitable clothing and from 6pm there is a smart casual dress code throughout the ship. Children can wear smart casual dress every night, including black tie, if they do not wish to dress up. You will find out each evening’s dress code the night before from your Horizon paper or by using the interactive TV services which details the buffet theme and dress code.
Does Azura have WiFi?
Yes, but the signal is terribly slow and it’s very, very expensive. Check your phone provider to see if you have service in the country you’re visiting or if they have any offers or bolt ons. You should be able to get basic signal at sea for phonecalls but the reception relies on satellite and can incur expensive charges. When in port, you should be able to connect to the local providers and this will be your best chance for internet connections. My advice – when on ship or at sea, switch to plane mode.
Is the Azura a good ship?
Personally, yes, I think it’s a lovely ship with plenty of places to eat, drink, socialise and plenty of entertainment venues. It takes a bit of time to get your bearings but there are plenty of maps around the ship to help you.
Does Azura have a covered pool?
There is no indoor pool on Azura that I could tell however with the few showers we had it didn’t stop people from swimming or using the facilities. The pools are open 24/7 however there is no lifeguard on duty so you must keep an eye on the children if they choose to swim.
How much are the drinks on Azura?
A 250ml of red or white wine is around £5.50-£6 with small glasses being over £4 on average. A pint of Pepsi or Lemonade is £2.50. Filter coffee, tea, hot chocolate and water are all complimentary throughout the day. Juices are available for free at breakfast but cost throughout the day and evening. Cocktails start from around £5.50. The prices are all in pounds making it easy to keep track of your spend. Yes, there are drinks packages on board too available for wine, coffee and soft drinks.
Have you cruised with the Azura? What did you think?