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First time Christmas cruise in the Caribbean onboard Azura


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Well as promised here is my review for my first ever full cruise!

 

 Enjoy smile.png

 

As this was my first ever full cruise I was to say the least a little excited! We parked using the Purple Parking at Gatwick, it was a little busy but we dropped off the car and got straight onto a bus, which took about 10mins to get to the airport. The flight was as to be expected, looooong! We arrived at the beautiful port of Barbados. Check in was dealt with efficiently! All the staff were in good spirits and very happy! Excellent start to any holiday!

 

 

We arrived mid afternoon/early evening and whilst checking into the port we could see the ship through the ‘shed’ doors. I don’t think anything prepares you for the sheer size of these ships and once we had got through the check in side and actually got to see the ship it was even more impressive! I mean “How do these things even float!”. Once onboard it was nice to see that the ship was all Christmassy with tree & decorations all around the ship. It did not feel like Christmas outside though, where was the rain and snow!!

 

We had an inside cabin and our steward came and introduced himself straight away. His name was Ajmal. He was always smiling and made every effort to speak to us whenever he saw us even when he was clearly mega busy. The cabin must have been cleaned about 5 times a day as every time we left when we came back it was spotless, apart from all our personal stuff littering the room up! The cabin was big enough for the 2 of us with enough space for storage etc., but, had there been 4 of us, which was the full capacity for the room, it would have been a struggle and probably very cluttered.

 

Be aware of sunset times as we decided on our first night in Barbados to venture out for a walk on the beach after we received our cases, which seemed like an awesome idea. We both got fully beach ready shorts, flip flops and sunglasses on! Walked outside and it was dark!! Ha! Wasn’t a disappointing evening though as we took a taxi to the boat yard and spent an evening having a few cold ones on a beautiful beach. We even then went a walk down the beach to try and get to the ship that way, only to have to turn back as the beach ended and the water got a little deep! Oops!

 

 

The weather was generally amazing. A lot of people told me that it would probably rain most days, which it didn’t. It only rained (during the day) a couple of times, but this quickly passed and was beautiful again. When it did rain I just simply got in the sea beer in hand!

Some of the ports seemed to be quite windy but this did help keeping you cool. In Aruba it was very windy on the beach and we left a bit earlier due to sand blasting us in the face!

 

 

I would say that the average temperature must have been around 30 degrees! It must have been hot, as I have been told since I got back I look Moroccan!

 

Azura is an amazing ship! Make sure where ever you are planning on going you research and plan the things you want to do. If it is something you think will be very popular or it is something only P&O are offering then book before you go. If it is something you want to do but think its just a taxi ride then wait until you get to port as you may find it cheaper, and if you are feeling even braver then find a local bus depot as this is even cheaper still.

 

An example was we did want to snorkel with turtles at Paynes Bay, which worked out about £42 per person for a catamaran trip and the swimming part. We got a private shared taxi ($14 return) and hired our own snorkel and mask $25 for two. We then just swam out to where the tours were stopping to see the turtles. After which we noticed that the turtles were swimming in the shallows just in front of where we were on the beach, so spent a lot of the day in there. Amazing experience and we probably got to see more turtles than the people who did the tour! Be aware that a lot of these ports are mainly over run by local taxis and this was the only thing I found to be a little annoying, especially when you say you don’t want a taxi then get asked another 10 times by people that could clearly see you say no the first time!

 

 

WEAR SUN CREAM! After the first full day at the beach and a lot of snorkelling you underestimate the power of the sun and how much it gets you! I ended up with red legs and stripey bits! Not a good look!
 

 

Amber Cove was one of the best places visited. I think because its fresh and new it helps a lot and there is pretty much everything you want to do within walking distance of the ship. There’s a zip line, all manner of water sports a huge adventure pool and shops/bars to explore. For everyone that’s feeling a little more adventurous then just jump in a taxi and go to other beaches or even go swim with dolphins!

 

 

There are 3 pools onboard so usually if you can’t get a bed at one then there will be space near another. Be careful as people tend to get out early on sea days for the ‘best’ beds. By mid afternoon we found beds become more available and there is a policy in place that if you see a bed covered in a towel or personal belongings and is left for more than half hour then the bed is yours! We never had to throw anyone’s stuff in the pool though, sorry, I mean ask staff to move it!

The sea screen is a good way to kill some time on sea days if you find yourself at a loss, but again make sure you get there early so that you can get a decent seat as some seating is restrictive of the screen due to metal pillars or light posts.

 

We didn’t go to any of the shows as we were usually too shattered from days activities or the show just didn’t inspire any excitement. I think they are definitely more aimed at the seasoned/older cruiser. The pool entertainers were always good on sea days and tried to get as many people involved as they could on the activities they did. The sea screen was excellent but any good films that were on generally filled up very quickly so plan early for these.

 

The casino although limited to a few card games and roulette tables were a hit with a lot of people and the dealers remembered the names of nearly all the regulars straight away. Note to self though for next time, slow down on the double vodkas!

 

The film choice was OK, there were a few newer films but most that were on there were pretty dated. The TV choice was very weird, they had a lot of random episodes of very random programs, I guess P&O are trying to suit everyone? Maybe they could get some sort of Netflix or equivalent onboard. I also think the TV systems need updating as they are quite old and small and when we did want to just chill and watch a film the films kept just randomly stopping? We then had to start the films from the beginning again, which was quite annoying!

One last thing that might be nice is a radio station or music channel(s) just for evenings when you are getting ready to go out.

 

BE PREPARED TO PUT ON WEIGHT and pack for this as IT WILL HAPPEN! I would advise packing clothes for the start middle and end of the cruise. As much as you try to avoid over eating the selection and availability of food on offer is pretty much EVERWHERE! Which isn’t a bad thing if you love food like I do!

 

The main buffet dining was OK, I wouldn’t say that the food was amazing but wouldn’t say it was terrible. The Breakfast menu just about covered every single persons needs from cereal to full English and everything in-between! The lunch and evening buffets menus were varied but not very much. There seemed to be a lot of curry style menus, (which I loved) but, some guests were less impressed. There didn’t seem to be any Italian/Mediterranean style food, i.e. pasta, spaghetti etc. Not sure if this was to do with the ships itinerary? Would have been nice for a little more variation on choice because if there wasn’t anything you liked that was pretty much it.

 

Pool bar was only open during certain times during the day but there were always fresh burgers, chips, hotdogs and chicken with sides. Next to this was always a fresh selection of sandwiches, fruit and some desserts (mostly cheesecake). The sandwich fillings were the same every day, but a good way to get a snack whilst on tours or the beach etc. if you didn’t want to buy local snacks. There was the Pizzeria on the pool deck too, which served Margarita everyday with one other different flavour (changed daily). The pizza was always very fresh and didn’t take long for more if it ever ran out. Once you had had your fill of pizza you could get ice cream, ice cream smoothies or hot/cold drinks for a small supplement. Well worth the money and would recommend the ice cream smoothies, delicious!

The main restaurant was good, the choice most nights was very similar and often not really to our taste so we generally didn’t bother. When we did go in though the food was an excellent standard. We only ate in there a couple of times. We both also found ourselves shouting a little bit across our table as we seemed to be closer to the people sitting next to us than each other. It always looked a little chaotic with waiters etc. but food was served swiftly and the servers were more than accommodating.

 

The Beach House or as I kept referring to it the Beach Bar, was excellent both times we visited. We were told that there would be a 45 min wait when booking our table but we didn’t wait longer than 25mins either time. We smashed the Steak on a Lava Rock the first time, which had a £3.95 supplement, but was well worth this as you could slice off and cook the steak to your own liking at the table, Amazing! We didn’t pay any supplements on food the second visit just had things that came inclusive of the £5pp price. I think we could have quite easily visited more and we both would have been happy to pay any supplements as this restaurant had a great ‘grill cooked’ menu, food was amazing and the staff were very attentive.

 

 

Sindhu was awesome! Anyone that likes Asian/Indian food will love it. The food was fusion between the two cultures so not your everyday curry from the takeaway. We were constantly supplied food. Although it was a 3 course meal I think it ended up being about 5 or 6 as in between our main dishes the head Chef had done appetisers and little sample dishes. I had Atul’s sampler plate for my main and it consisted of 3 small and extremely delicious picks from full main dishes. Although we had quite a lot of food, it was just perfect, right amount to not fill you up to bursting but just enough to love every mouthful! 100% recommend this restaurant.

 

The staff throughout the cruise were brilliant, 5 star service and always ready to help. The waiters at the aft bar were always very welcoming more than any of the others and always made a point of saying hello, even if we didn’t want drinks. One of the waiters (cant remember his name) advised us on which cocktails we should try based on our spirit of choice! Some were really nice, some, not so much!

 

A great experience for any age as there are just so many things to do, would highly recommend this to anyone who asks! It has been an eye opener to future holidays were cruising is concerned.

 

Thank you!

 

smile.png smile.png 

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Glad you enjoyed Barbados, your story had me concerned as I could see the ship leaving without you. Lesson , just take a taxi back as ports are not as accessible as one

thinks.. Oh yes  the burnt knees  ,, something else

 

The ship didn't leave without me, thank god! Im guessing the photo that you think shows it leaving was the shot of Azura in Amber Cove.

Its just the way the ship was docked.

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Very nice review J-Dog! Good job reporting with the photos.

So when is the next one?

 

Thanks! I hope you guys had a good cruise too?

I hope Amber Cove was as stunning for you as it was for us too.

 

We are booked onto the Harmony of the Seas for a mini cruise in May, after that who knows! Will 100% be booking something else I am sure of that

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