When 3,100-passenger Azura launched in 2010, it ushered in an updated vision for the very traditional P&O Cruises. Instead of targeting a mature adults-only crowd, this unstuffy British ship — one of the largest in the fleet — fills up with boisterous families, and caters to them with a more relaxed dress code. You'll still find some hallmarks of traditional cruising; the ship has black tie evenings, for example, and optional assigned seating at dinner. And another thing certainly remains the same: the experience onboard is quintessentially British, meaning you can dine on scones and tea each afternoon or order a pint at the pubs as if you're across the pond.
What We Love
"Strictly Come Dancing" Cruises: Throughout the summer, the ship hosts themed cruises based on this popular UK competitive dancing television show, known as "Dancing With The Stars" in the U.S. Four of the show's professional dancers perform incredible, show-stopping routines.
Celebrity Chefs: The ship's specialty restaurants are helmed by Michelin-starred chefs such as Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar, as well as UK TV personalities James Martin and Olly Smith. On specially themed "Food Heroes" cruises, the chefs host cooking demonstrations, master classes, dinners, Q&A sessions, and food- and wine-related shore excursions.
Plenty of Cabin Choices: There are no fewer than 35 cabin categories on board, ranging from penthouse suites to inside cabins – plus two types of single-occupancy rooms.
Best Known For
A Varied Bar Scene: There's a spot for every taste — Brodies fuses a sports bar and traditional English pub with a small casino attached; Planet Bar is what the Brits call a "smart" nightclub; Malabar has live bands; and Manhattan is great for tribute bands and dancing.
Gourmet Dining: The menu at The Epicurean restaurant serves organic meat and the best seafood and fish from British waters. It also hosts the daily afternoon tea, where you'll sample everything from roast beef brioche to chocolate cannelloni.
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Who It's Best For
Families: Unlike the line's adults-only ships, Azura allows families to travel with children. You'll find The Reef Children's Club at the stern on Deck 16, where there’s also a paddling pool for toddlers. And, of the ship's four pools, the Aqua and Coral pools are both designated for families.
Anglophiles: There's a distinctly British vibe on this ship, from the crowd of UK passengers to the British cuisine, which includes afternoon tea, as well as a proper pub with more than 30 gins and 70 beers from around the UK.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There's Little Solitude: During summer months and school holidays, the ship fills up with families, so tranquility can be at a premium.
Gary Buchanan is a UK-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written multiple books about cruising.