Tag Archives: Azura

New Ship Status Report: How’s P&O’s Azura Doing?

It’s impressive to see that the members who’ve written reviews of recent cruises on P&O’s Azura are pretty pleased. Clearly the 116,000-ton, 3,080-passenger ship, launched in April, has found its sea legs:  17 out of 20 member reviews to date give the ship a four or five star ranking (particularly amazing for such a new vessel is Azura’s 11 five star rated reviews!).

P&O'S Azura gets mostly raves from Cruise Critic members

A couple of observations:

*Very few reviews, especially from cruises taken in summer, rate the ship’s family facilities. It’s clear that P&O is positioning its Ventura as the family-friendliest ship but Azura’s got plenty to offer and I’m surprised that so few of our members, at least so far, are taking kids onboard.

*Love the positive comments (from a five star review by Barbara Richardson, “Life onboard ran very smoothly, we enjoyed exploring, we think P & O have got it down to a fine art now”) but as always, what makes Cruise Critic’s member reviews such good resources is a balance of compliments and brickbats. Member Baxter, who headlined his review thusly: “Fabulous Baltic experience on a big ship,” also noted that “I have no idea why anyone would buy a P and O excursion in most ports of call if they are fit and well and have some confidence.”

*Favorite, funniest review so far? John Grindon’s oddly punctuated but eminently funny take on his cruise in May, with lines like these:

–“Cruise Director, a young girl called Benni, should be a Butlins Red Coat”

–“The ship carries 3100 passengers but if u do your own thing and don’t wanna’ be too matey-matey (which we certainly DIDN’T) she’s a great        liner.”

And finally…

“We’ll be heading back to P&O for more meat … but was poison for some. U can’t please all of the folk all of the time!”

For more, check out P&O’s member reviews here: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/getreviews.cfm?action=ship&ShipID=539 And if you’re planning to cruise on Azura, please write your own review!

CSB

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Sailing solo

Single cabins on cruise ships are all the rage now, what with the launches this year of NCL’s Norwegian Epic and P&O’s Azura, both equipped with shiny, new, headline-grabbing cabins for solos.

The trade publication Travel Trade Gazette has done a little price check on these single cabins, comparing similar(ish) cruises on Epic, Azura and Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral, which is also solo-friendly.

The cruises are all slightly different – Epic is nine nights and Azura, 14 nights, for example, and Epic is a fly-cruise while the other two are ex-Southampton. But if you distil it down to a straightforward price-per-night comparison, this is how it comes out:

  • Norwegian Epic £87.66
  • Azura £112.78
  • Balmoral £180.90

Big difference, isn’t it? If you’re buying purely on price, Norwegian Epic is a clear winner.

But do people really care only about the price, just because they’re single? Yes, it’s important and a matter of principle, too, but surely ending up on the right ship for you is a bigger factor?

There's more to solo cruising than the price

Couples and families who cruise for the first time are rarely encouraged to buy purely on price, yet with singles, it seems to be the only way in which cruises are compared, particularly at the moment, with all this focus on single cabins.

So, single cruisers, what’s your checklist when booking? Is it more than the money? A decent bar where you can feel comfortable, propped up alone with your Martini, or big, lively tables at dinner, or classes where you can meet like-minded people? We’ve compiled our own list of single-friendly cruise lines on Cruise Critic but we’d love to know your views!

SJB

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It’s the “it” ship, trust us…

Norwegian Epic, the newest (and largest) cruise ship from Norwegian Cruise Line, also known as the “freestyle”  icon (no rules, no regimentation), was delivered today by STX Europe’s shipyard in France’s St. Nazaire.

At Cruise Critic we call it the “it” ship because it’s the rare vessel in 2010 that’s completely and utterly unique. There are a lot of nice new ships launching this year, such as P&O’s Azura, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Celebrity’s Eclipse, but they’re pretty much copies of an earlier original. Norwegian Epic IS an original.

By and large, the ship seems at first to be geared to a huge, sprawling, mostly U.S.-centric audience. In its own way, though, the line is trying to court UK and European cruisers too (with the former, it’s bringing the ship, pre-inaugural era anyway, to Southampton for some festivities and with the latter, it’s planning to deploy Epic to the Mediterranean during summertime starting next year).

Frankly I don’t think the ship is either American or European. It’s a mishmash of styles that have more to do with age demos than cultural ones. If you regularly read the celebrity-oriented tabloids, you’ll fit in just fine (which if we’re all going to be brutally honest, includes most of us!). Clearly, this is a ship that’s courting the hip and trendy young set (if in cruising we classify the “young set” as the under 50s, well, bear that in mind).

So there’s the solo studios for single travelers, the Spice H20 beach club for South Beach wannabes, and the Blue Man Group, essentially a mime act, that started in the U.S. but is now spreading worldwide.

We’re not the first to express the opinion that the ship’s exterior is the ugliest we’ve ever seen (and I’ll tell you that a few NCL folks have admitted as much to us) though if you’re already onboard, I’ll say it probably doesn’t matter what the outside looks like. I’ll confess that when writing a poll this week that asked “what one aspect of Epic intrigues you?” [Poll is here, please feel free to weigh in: http://bit.ly/aFTUuh], I did slip in a reference to the ship’s unwieldy outward design (somewhat surprisingly, a mere 5 percent so far have voted for this option).

Shockingly, even less enthusiasm was accorded to such choices as Shanghai’s Noodle Bar (an industry first), which so far has engendered just 1.5 percent-worth-of-excitement, the Spice H20/Posh Beach Club (which weighs in at a measly 2 percent) and, sadly, the Argentinean steak house restaurant, which clearly is not ringing bells but does deserve a bit of credit for a daring effort (it gets less than 1 percent).

CSB

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