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P&O Cruises: Azura

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Azura Review

Almost identical to her fleetmate Ventura, Azura is another large ship in the P&O Cruises fleet, with 14 decks and maximum passenger capacity of almost 3,600. Family-friendly, Azura offers an incredible choice of bars, restaurants, sports and spa facilities

and entertainment, plus lots of other exciting and unique features. At the heart of Azura is an atrium, a very social venue that spans three decks, with a café, art gallery, bookshop, library, gym, and shopping.

P&O’s largest ships are also the best choices for families, with huge areas devoted to facilities for children and teens and a dedicated Wii room and a 20-meter plasma video wall. Although they are nearly identical twins, each has some different facilities both inside and out; however, it’s the outside ones that are most noticeable and make a difference in the cruise experience.

Where Ventura has bungee trampolines and a circus skills training area, Azura has the Retreat, an adults-only sundeck area with its own private terrace with cabanas and loungers. Azura has no cover over its mid-ship swimming pool, unlike Ventura. Instead, Azura has a giant Sea Screen suspended at one end of the pool for movies. Inside, the two ships’ public areas are quite similar, with a more contemporary decor than their older fleetmates and some oddities, such as no chairs for reading in the library.

Since 1937, P&O Cruises (originally the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) has been a force in passenger shipping. Although the company's suggestion that they invented leisure cruising cannot be proven, P&O is assuredly a pioneer of modern cruising. The company acquired Princess Cruises in 1974. P&O then purchased Sitmar Cruises and merged it with Princess in 1988, and the passenger-cruise business—known as P&O Princess—was spun off in 2000.

P&O Cruises is the oldest cruise in the world and remains Britain's leading cruise line, sailing the U.K.'s largest and most modern fleet. The ships are equipped with every traditional big-ship amenity, including swimming pools, stylish restaurants, spas, bars, casinos, theaters, and show rooms.

Seven ships in the P&O fleet offer a diverse range of venues for relaxation and entertainment, including cocktail bars, nightclubs, cinemas, games rooms, and cabaret lounges. Enjoy live bands, dramatic musicals, and deck parties, cabaret singers, comedians, specialty acts, classical recitals, and concerts. Theme evenings include tropical, 1960s and '70s, or Black and White Ball. Other activities include quizzes and panel games, with prizes awarded to winning teams. A select number of itineraries offer the opportunity to spend the evening, or even overnight, in port.

An abundance of balcony and outside cabins on P&O ships ensures that a view to the sea is never far away. Accommodations, from inside cabins to lavish suites, cater to a wide cross section of budgets and tastes. In the interest of passenger health and safety, smoking has been prohibited indoors, including in all cabins and suites and on private balconies. Outdoor smoking venues are published on board.

To offer passengers a variety of choices, P&O has adapted their fleet to match the preferences of their primary markets. Although most of the ships cater to families as well as couples and singles of all ages, Arcadia, Adonia, andOriana are adults-only ships. The Aurora, Azura, Oceana, and Ventura complete the P&O armada and welcome both adults and children. Following customer feedback, P&O announced major refurbishments for the Ventura, Oceana, and Arcadia in 2013.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • Ventura is particularly family-friendly with play areas, character breakfasts, and a children’s club with circus school
  • The Oasis Spa has an excellent thermal suite and “endless” current pool
  • Each ship has 18 single cabins

Cons

  • These are large ships with a high number of passengers and will feel crowded at maximum capacity
  • There are extra fees to use the many premium facilities and services
  • There's a particularly high demand for single rooms requiring major advance booking
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,226
  • Entered Service 2010
  • Gross Tons 115,000
  • Length 951 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,557
  • Passenger Capacity 3,597
  • Width 118 feet

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