During our few days at home last week we had the pleasure of a two day visit by Doug’s parents. To make up for terrible picture of Derek in the last blog here we are on the second evening enjoying each others company over a nice meal at Brasserie Blanc in Chichester – James, Vilma, Doug and Derek – and it was really lovely to see them again.
Well, we can’t sit still for very long so, on Friday (28th), we made our way to the Ocean Terminal in Southampton to board the P&O “Azura” for a two week cruise to the Caribbean. It’s our first time on the ship and, after an invitation to join friends for the cruise – which we didn’t take long to accept!, we were aboard in the record time of 20 minutes from arrival at the terminal to entering our cabin. Our cabin is a delight and our steward, Albano, had us settled in in no time.
After leaving later than expected on Friday evening we got ourselves familiar with this very large vessel and, after dinner and a review show, settled down to a good night’s sleep. This is a ship which James is likely to do a great deal of walking around if he gets lost as much as he usually does! It’s a very long ship and, although we’re aft of mid ships (pardon the jargon!) the view f’ward from our balcony seems to go on for ever!
Having not been entirely happy with it’s sister ship the “Ventura” on a past cruise the “Azura”, we had been assured by many fellow cruisers, was to be a very different experience. And, after just a couple of days we are very impressed with it’s décor, layout and friendly atmosphere.
The atrium is an impressive space, rising over three decks, and is surrounded by cafes, shops and lovely open spaces.
Two glass lifts and numerous balconies, polished marble staircases and very clever lighting make the atrium quite an inspiring space.
The “Glass House” has a Scandinavian feel to it and we’ve already enjoyed it’s luxury with pre-dinner drinks with friends Sandra and Bernard.
“Brodies”, the pub, is a really comfortable space to have a drink and use the plethora of TV sets dotted around the area.
The Casino, of course, is always available to lose some money if you’re so inclined.
For a large ship the shopping area is not huge but, it’s all there in various forms, and designed to relieve you of some serious cash! ……….
……. and, if shops don’t temp you there are other things that perhaps will !
“Malabar” offers more opportunity to drink with the added attraction of it’s entertainment stage.
The “Manhattan” is furthest aft and is used, as an alternative to the “Playhouse” theatre, for talks and presentations.
The three staircases, like all the public spaces, are designed to be an experience in their own right and there are many works of art displayed on their walls on all of the ship’s 19 decks.
Outside there’s the expected Promenade deck and, at the time of writing, we are enjoying a very calm sea with just a moderate Atlantic swell. The forecast is for much of the same for the entire voyage.
One thing we soon started to appreciate is the unusual quietness of the ship. The “Azura” has almost no detectable noise or vibrations and the stern of the ship is amazingly quiet with very little water noise from the props. Not that any cruise ship is very noisy these days but “Azura” is exceptionally good and makes for a very relaxing atmosphere.
We love our ‘sea days’ and have the whole Atlantic to cover, with just one call at the Azores on Tuesday where we hope to welcome aboard friends Pam and Geoff which will then make up our ‘sixsome’.