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AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby Skier Pete » 06 Jun 2011 12:50

I’ll start this review with our arrival at Southampton which happened at ~11..30, we had to queue for about 15 minutes in the car park to be called forward to unload and hand over the car keys to CPS for their service. We proceeded into the arrivals hall and were allocated a card letter “L” and waited only about 10 minutes before be called to check-in. This was dealt with quickly and then there was a slight ~5 min queue for screening before getting aboard. All in all a good experience and smooth operation and we were aboard just after 12.00

I was disappointed to be told that cabins would not be available until ~ 2.30, that is late by my experience of other lines, so we proceeded to have lunch in the buffet, which was of a good standard but was the only occasion we used it for lunch

Whilst waiting for the cabin we took the time to have a look around the ship and I was surprised at its complete lack of WOW factor, especially when compared to other ships we’ve been on recently, i.e. MSC ships and NCL Norwegian Dawn. The Atrium is nearly non-existent and the theatre small with a very low angle to the seats.

At the appointed hour an announcement was made and we could go to our cabin. A superior balcony cabin Grade CC. it was a surprising layout very long and thin , ~30 feet by 8.5 feet, with a bathroom about 6 ft by 5 feet which is a reasonable size. The balcony was about 70 sq ft in size with two chairs, two foot stools and a coffee table.

The room had a two door cupboard with 5 shelves and the safe. There was also a large hanging space, which had no doors, WHY? There was an area with a settee and chair and coffee table, which contained a kettle with tea/coffee making supplies and a fridge, but no mini-bar. Our Goodies, a box of nice chocolates, a bottle of MUMM champagne, three magazines and an orchid were a welcome sight.

To our surprise the safe had been jammed shut with an almost finished loo roll. WE spoke to our steward, Jarvis (a very pleasant man from Goa, and a brilliant steward) and he contacted the relevant department and came back to say he had done so and it would be about 10 minutes. Two more requests by Jarvis, two phone calls from me to reception followed by two visits personally to reception finally got the safe operable on day 2 at 11.00. NOT GOOD, P and O.

WE set sail, needing a tug for assistance as there was too much wind to risk manoeuvring without assistant, as told by the 3 stripe environmental officer.

There followed 36 hours of steaming in force 6-9 winds, dodging the gas/oil platforms to get to our first port of call Stavanger. This gave a chance to sample the dining in the peninsular restaurant for dinner and lunch and the buffet for breakfast. We had 2nd sitting 8.30pm and the food was good (very British in influence) and excellent service. This meant that we finished dining at around 10.15 – 10.30pm. WE didn’t go to any of the shows as the timings didn’t suit us and for most of the cruise the views from the balcony were stunning (it never got dark as sunset varied between about 10.30 and 11.30)


STAVANGER
Here we took the “Lysefjord and pulpit rock” excursion (£55pp, 8.30 start, 3 hours) and this was probably our best excursion. This left us all afternoon to walk around the town and visit the Norwegian Petroleum museum (NWK100 entrance fee) which had a good 15 min 3D film and plenty of hands on exhibits. I am a bit biased here as I find the subject fascinating being a chemist by profession. We sailed for Alesund at 5.30pm
The old town and harbourside were a very interesting a DIY walk about

ALESUND
This was the place where we took the “Leisurely Alesund” bus excursion in the morning(£30pp, 10.30 start, 2 hrs.). This enabled us to take a leisurely walk around the town in the afternoon and visit the JUGENDSTILS and KUNSTMUSSEE (NWK100pp, includes both museums in the price) the former museum deals with the great fire of 1904 and the rebuilding and the latter is a museum of modern architecture.

The Jugendstils has a café where a large bowl of tea and limitless refill cup of coffee and two large pieces of cake (the chocolate and orange jam cake was superb) cost NWK125 (~£14.80). The waitresses were stunning and had superb English and the most pleasant manner you could want. GIRLS YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
The ship didn’t leave until after midnight so there was plenty of time to see the town and get those stunning sunset photos everyone tries for.

GEIRANGER
This is where an EARLY START , AROUND 5.30, if the weather is good is a must as the views are breath-taking.
WE took the ”Fjords and Mountains” excursion (£96pp, 8.5 hours includes a very nice two course lunch) with includes mount Dalsnibba (a must do somehow for the views of the fjord), the summer ski resort, a tour of more mountain and lake scenery and a return by ferry to the ship. This was made more interesting by having an Italian guide from Venice, who used to work on MSC ships!!!(Good old MSC)

BERGEN
Again another long excursion “the Beauty of Hardangersfjord” .(£84pp, includes a buffet lunch, 8.5 hours) The high lights were the 700 year(site of) old Norwegian church where a local Historian ( another stunning Norwegian woman) gives an excellent talk, and even gets everybody singing Abide With Me, in impeccable, faultless English.
Lunch in the Hardanger Hotel for the most impressive Norwegian Buffet, much better than any food served on the ship.
On then to the very impressive waterfall that you can walk behind.
Overall the trip had 3 very impressive stops but a lot of coach travel in between
If you fancy doing the cable car / funicular do it DIY as it is no good if the mountain is shrouded in cloud. Bear in mind Bergen is the wettest place in Europe. It rains on 260 days a year.

OVERALL
The cruise was made by the Itinerary. The cabin was good, the staff great, and the ship very unimpressive.

One thing of note was although there were loads of children on board we never saw them, A plus for P and O.

I can’t comment on the entertainment as we didn’t go to any of it.

The major Minus point was the shambles getting our car back over 30 minutes to get the keys and over 1 hour to get out of the car park.


lINK TO THE PHOTOS IN THE PHOTO GALLERY_---------------------------.AZURA NORWEGIAN CRUISE
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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby JollyJill » 06 Jun 2011 13:01

Thanks for the review Pete. The itinerary sounds great and is always our first priority so we will bear it in mind.
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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby Vinny Turner » 06 Jun 2011 13:32

Sounded like a great itinerary Pete, plus the added bonus of some 'beauties' in Norway.

Its on our list to cruises to do but not for a few more years.

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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby Mungo » 06 Jun 2011 16:36

Thanks Pete!

Stavanger and Alesund will be new ports to me next month. :D Been to Bergen before.

I too wasn't that impressed with Azura. :( However having been on Ventura in May I liked her far more. Preferred the Red Bar to the Blue Bar, Ramblas to the Glass House. Enjoyed the Oasis area on Ventura instead of the fee paying Retreat on Azura which meant Ventura felt more spacious. Also Ventura's covered pool. Plus being able to walk around the top deck and prom on Ventura which you can't on Azura. I also felt Ventura's decor was brighter. Having said all that, if the right itinerary and price cam along then I would sail Azura again. ;)
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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby Barrowboy » 06 Jun 2011 21:19

.
Nice one Pete.....must say though when we sailed on Ventura in 2008 we had three hanging spaces and with doors attached :) and we only had an outside cabin.

I do agree with your comments on the WOW factor, we didn't see any either but it certainly never made any difference to our opinion of the ship - would be quite happy to sail on her again...

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Last edited by Barrowboy on 07 Jun 2011 21:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby Skier Pete » 06 Jun 2011 22:48

Mungo wrote:Thanks Pete!

Stavanger and Alesund will be new ports to me next month. :D Been to Bergen before.

I too wasn't that impressed with Azura. :( However having been on Ventura in May I liked her far more. Preferred the Red Bar to the Blue Bar, Ramblas to the Glass House. Enjoyed the Oasis area on Ventura instead of the fee paying Retreat on Azura which meant Ventura felt more spacious. Also Ventura's covered pool. Plus being able to walk around the top deck and prom on Ventura which you can't on Azura. I also felt Ventura's decor was brighter. Having said all that, if the right itinerary and price cam along then I would sail Azura again. ;)

If you want anymore info on Stavanger and alesun i've got a little bit of info (and i mean a little bit) i could scan it and post it as an entry on the gallery



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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby bobbyboy » 07 Jun 2011 00:57

Thanks for that Pete. I've been looking forward to your review as a trip to the Fjords with P&O is on my list.

Sorry the ship didn't impress you very much. The only P&O ship I've been on is Ventura which similarly lacked the wow factor. That said, I actually liked the ship and would be pleased to sail on her again.

Bob :)
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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby Mungo » 07 Jun 2011 06:20

Skier Pete wrote:
Mungo wrote:Thanks Pete!

Stavanger and Alesund will be new ports to me next month. :D Been to Bergen before.

I too wasn't that impressed with Azura. :( However having been on Ventura in May I liked her far more. Preferred the Red Bar to the Blue Bar, Ramblas to the Glass House. Enjoyed the Oasis area on Ventura instead of the fee paying Retreat on Azura which meant Ventura felt more spacious. Also Ventura's covered pool. Plus being able to walk around the top deck and prom on Ventura which you can't on Azura. I also felt Ventura's decor was brighter. Having said all that, if the right itinerary and price cam along then I would sail Azura again. ;)

If you want anymore info on Stavanger and alesun i've got a little bit of info (and i mean a little bit) i could scan it and post it as an entry on the gallery



pete


That would be great Pete! :D

Do you think the Pulpit Rock excursion should be done? :?:
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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby grannyM » 07 Jun 2011 17:58

Good review Pete. Although we've never done P&O I believe Azura, or is it Ventura? is the same class as the Grand Princess, which we have been on twice. Although we did like the ship, compared to RCIs Navigator and IOS we never felt any WOW factor either :) .
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Re: AZURA FJORDS CRUISE

Postby Skier Pete » 09 Jun 2011 01:09

grannyM wrote:Good review Pete. Although we've never done P&O I believe Azura, or is it Ventura? is the same class as the Grand Princess, which we have been on twice. Although we did like the ship, compared to RCIs Navigator and IOS we never felt any WOW factor either :) .

Both Azura and Ventura are GRAND-CLASS ships

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