Cruise Review: P&O Azura Caribbean 2013 – The Final Chapter

Jan 11, 2014 No Comments by

Tuesday 10th December 2013 – St Lucia

Ooh I’m late up this morning. It’s gone 8.00am!! I think all those drinks I drank for my boys may have taken its toll on me. I think I have arranged to go to a beach today with Garry. It would be helpful if I could recall the arrangements. Bright idea of the day, go ashore to duty free and purchase some face cream which I have ran out of. They don’t have it so that’s that mission failed. Breakfast, did I want breakfast? No, I don’t think I could stomach it. A rendezvous with Garry on the dockside was arranged and he was about to meet grumpy Jane. Speaking was an effort this morning. Then there were all the taxi touts, oh I could do without this. Somehow we got swept along to the official taxi booth to pre pay and we were non the wiser which mini bus to get in. Organised it was not! In hindsight we should have walked through the other side of duty free and to the other taxis, it might have been a little calmer. The taxi journey seemed a long one and we were only going to Rodney Bay. I don’t think sitting at the back helped. We were dropped at the hotel end of the beach which is not the end of the beach that I wanted to be at. So we trekked to the other side beyond Spinnakers. Gosh it’s changed along here from when I was last here. Spinnakers used to be the last bar on the beach, but not anymore. It’s even more built up now. It took me ages to find a lounger of my liking, poor Garry. He couldn’t see what was wrong with the first sun lounger we passed. I’m settled onto a seat, but I must be ill, I’m drinking water! I need to shake off my bad grumpiness. The sea doesn’t look in to good a mood either. The waves are a bit high for me. But needs must, I Rodney Bayhave to go in. Garry is briefed on my dislike of water. I advise him it scares me and can he please watch me. Now, holding my hand might have been advisable given the circumstances, but no, Garrys idea of watching me was from a distance and he swam right out to sea and tried to encourage me in. Thank you but chest height is enough for me. I need to know my feet are touching the seabed. The waves are rolling in quite high and I manage to jump with the first couple but then one got me. Straight over my head! I was dead! Or rather Garry was about to die for allowing it to happen. Talk about knight in shining armour, not! I don’t like this feeling of being engulfed by water. Garry found it highly amusing, and what he found even more amusing was the fact that the same wave bounced back off the shore and wacked me again from behind. Oh I was not amused, in fact I wanted to cry, but Garry still dared to laugh loudly at me. He just didn’t get it! Sun lounger and rum punch now! Ahhhh that was better. Maybe I should have had rum punch before venturing into the sea to beSpinnakers drowned by rogue waves. I was chilling now, I even managed a stroll along the beach. It was hot, very hot so we retreated to Spinnakers Bar for a Painkiller. My day is looking more normal now. Why did we arrange a taxi back at 2.00pm, I’m in the mood to stay now. 15 more mins on the sun bed and we had to make tracks. Despite my dramas with the sea I had had a nice day on the beach.

St LuciaInto the coolness of my cabin and a nice cold shower. Karaoke is in full swing across on land in the karaoke bar. I decided to take a stroll across after my shower and investigate the free wifi. You guessed it, I gave up. I can’t be doing with the fight for free wifi any more. It’s such hard work. Ipad is soon back in my bag and I’m back in my cabin. Balcony doors closed to block out the din from the karaoke, curtains closed to block out the heat from the sun, Duvet pulled up firmly over my head and sleep!

Tonight we are dining in XVII. My boys are on time in Glass House for a swift glass of Pellar, only a quick one as we are dining slightly earlier. I had to run through the etiquette for the evening, one can’t be too sure. That caused much hilarity. What caused more hilarity was actually getting to XVII. My Boys accused me of always being the leader, well someone has to take these boys in hand. Chris decides he is going to lead tonight, but he failed at the first set of lifts. No Chris, XVII is not accessible via the midship lifts. Not without venturing outside anyway. So with that fail behind him I take charge again. Now what my boys get upto behind me along past Malabar, Sindhu and the Photo shop as I walk I’m not really sure, but I know it causes us to fall about laughing. Three attempts I made to enter XVII, trying to compose myself was near on impossible. You know how it is, one laughs and every one laughs, and that would not be the correct way to enter XVII. Nestor must have heard us coming, funny that! He had a table outside for me but it was breezy so I decided we would dine inside. Best give us a quiet table out of the way of fellowXVII Azura diners Nestor, my boys are giving me the giggles tonight. We shared a corner of XVII with another couple who were thankfully completing their meal so wouldn’t have to endure us for too long. I think we brightened up their evening as the lady commented that I XVII Azurahad my hands full with these two boys – little did she know! We all chose different things from the menu, why I’m not sure but even that caused the giggles, it was a case of ‘Im not having that if you are having it’ I tried to be oh so serious when the waitress was cutting my cured ham. My boys were good boys and held it together. Oh we do have some fun. The meal was superb, the company was excellent. Could a girl ask for more than that?!

Time to hit Manhattan. Neil Diamond was the tribute act of the night. Seen him before on previous cruises but I’m sure it won’t affect my evening. He was good, but for the entire duration of the cruise there has been a certain group of passengers who have ‘liked to enjoy themselves’ shall we say. This includes dancing in the isles or by their seats to the various acts. Tonight they chose to dance on the floor in front of the Neil Diamond act. Which was ok for a short while but then it did start to impair ones enjoyment of the artist. One bright spark in the audience called out ‘Get off the dance floor’ which was to be repeated several times as more and more of the audience joined in. That was it, I was giggling again. The chants of ‘get off the dance floor’ got louder and in the end it was down to the ents officers to remove them, much to the applause of the audience. Now, the passengers in question took these applause as a compliment and took several bows and acknowledged the crowd. That was it, me and my boys were engulfed in fits of laughter once more. It really was like an episode of Benidorm at Sea with the alternative entertainment this evening. We needed several drinks from the bar to recover. It was a long late night, again! I think at one point we attempted a lap of the deck, but got pushed back by a man with a hose and a pair of wellies. Wading in his puddles in my bare feet was really nice on my poorly toes though.

Grenada Grand AnseWednesday 11th Decmeber 2013 – Grenada

Ooh today was our Brucie bonus unexpected call at Grenada, courtesy of Captain Paul, by way of compensation for missing Antigua. I was more than happy with his choice of Grenada as it meant I could get to Grande Anse beach nice and easily. But today I have a partner in crime. Garry has decided to risk another of my moody mornings and come to the beach with me. I got as far as recalling we had a rendezvous in Costa Coffee in the Atrium, I just had a problem recalling the time and being there. He waited, which I never doubted he wouldn’t. He also waited while I had a vanilla latte. Was I moody this morning? Surprisingly not! I’m in a very happy chirpy mood. It must be all the giggling and good company last night. So there is a beach to hit. GoCruisewithJane guide to Grenada and Grande Anse beach has commenced, and we were heading for a water taxi. I couldn’t help being amused by something I overheard in the duty free area as I walked through. I heard a woman insisting that they got a taxi to the beach, not a water taxi because “all the palm trees will be taken” Does she know how many palm trees there are on Grande Anse Beach, lol. The water taxi wasn’t busy, it was still early. I think it was $8 return. We were a bit squashed on, the driver wanted his moneys worth today. Captain Jack Sparrow was touting for sun lounger business on the beach with his sun loungers as he always is, but I was walking to the far end. No sun loungers where I wanted them, but that was easily arranged. Garry presumed I would want water today, is he daft, I had drunk coffee already, did I need water? In hindsight he was of course correct, but I was straight in, bright and early with a rum punch that nearly blew my toes off. That in its self would not be a bad idea given the pain my feet and toes are giving me rum punchsince my op. Oh the rum punch won the “rum punch of the cruise award” it was strong. It had some kick in it that hadn’t been experienced for a while. The sea was flat calm and just lapping on the soft white sand. I liked my day today. I liked it so much I had another rum punch. I alternated my day with standing in the sea to cool off, people watching and giggling at the night before. No visit to Grande Anse Beach would be complete without my visit from Singing Man. I have no idea what todays song was about, because by thenSinging Man Grand Anse the rum punch had taken over. It amused Garry though and he said singing man described me to a T! I should have videoed it and then I would be a little wiser. Singing  Man is part of Grande Anse Beach and he was telling us he takes 3 buses to get to work each day. Not a bad place to work though is it?! Garry was still encouraging me to drink water, but would I listen? Now there is some debate as to how many rum punches I actually had. I say 3 and Garry states 4 – either way they were only small and I should have been able to handle them. However, I recall leaving the beach, I don’t recall getting back to the ship really. The next thing I knew, I woke up in my very dark cabin, damp swimsuit and cover up still on, and a bed full of sand! Grenada was a dark distant memory and was long gone. I never even heard Captain Paul do to the departure announcement, and I always hear him do that. those rum punches must have been oh so strong. It was late. Peninsular Party was in less than an hour, plus I had to go to Glass House because I couldn’t let Napoleon down, my Pellar would be on the bar waiting for me. Somehow I managed to get in the shower, throw some makeup at my face, point the hairdryer in the general direction of my hair and I was down stairs on my bar stool for 7.30 in Glass House. However, ever wise Napoleon took one look at me and suggested water might be a good side drink this evening. I’m thinking some paracetamol might be in order! So I nipped back to the lift to go upto deck 10 to acquire some. Garry was just trotting down the stairs, he is far to fit for his own good, and thought I was heading back to my cabin for the night. (Did I look that rough) Oh no, the show must go on! He waited to join me back at Glass House, which was only brief as I had places to go, people to see. Garry decided to retreat to Malabar bar pre dinner, and in hindsight I could have taken him to Peninsular party with me, but my brain wasn’t functioning as it should be.

I did something I don’t usually do and went in via Captain Pauls door this evening, he was honoured and he knew it lol. I asked the first waiter for a glass of fizz, but that wasn’t forthcoming. Some loyalty party this is!! I chatted with two nice officers who turned out to be the flight managers onboard. The most travelled passenger had done 48 cruises! Still not got my head around how they actually are sure they are the most travelled?! Same old speech from loyalty managers and I’m sorry Captain Paul, but I wasnt listening to what you were saying. I had been knocked sideways by the nasty tasting wine on offer. By the time I had had a chat with the Executive Purser and a few other stripes on the way out I was Oriental Restaurant Azurareally late for dinner. So late I had to have a head waiter escort to the table. Good job it was only my boys that I was holding up, they would excuse me, and in my defence I had already half excused myself before dinner. I’m not a fan of the Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner thing but I have to say it was very enjoyable. That was followed by the obligatory ‘parade of the chefs’ and a bit of napkin waving. Oh no, here come the menu packs signed and presented by Deepak. I do love Deepak, how can I refuse them? But do I really need another pack of menus?! I took them anyway, as you do.

Malabar was rammed, Changez party band were on. Chris wanted to check on the film on the Sea Screen, so me and Garry went in search of our spot at the bar. It wasn’t to be, but he did locate me a fab people watching seat raised up from the main walk through. Top marksDeepak Garry. Deepak came by for his nightly chat and catch up on the evenings events. I think Deepak is wasted in the restaurant, he is more of a social host. We were late leaving Malabar and headed of course to Manhattan. Fun times were highlighted by someone falling off a bar stool, which really should not have been funny, but as I could see it coming ages ago it was oh so funny. I can’t go into detail, and I know I shouldn’t laugh (believe me I was Towel Mousenot the only one laughing) but you really did just have to be there. I think we giggled our way back to our cabins and I was still giggling when I got into bed. But talking of bed. what did i find on my bed tonight? I have had lots of towel animals this cruise but tonights caused treat excitement. tonight i had a sweet little mouse nibbling at some chocolate. I had never had a mouse before.

Oasis PoolThursday 12th December 2013 – St Vincent

Oh dear, its the morning after the night and day before. No worries its only St Vincent outside. I stepped out onto the balcony and I might as well have stepped into a hot oven. I soon shut the door on that, it was fierce out there. I had absolutely no intention of venturing ashore so I retreated to the coolness of the Atrium with my laptop and enjoyed a vanilla latte in peace. Well the world and his wife seems to stop by for a chat. Just about every senior officer has got used to me being there every day, so they all drop by to say Hi, which is nice. I’ve just been informed it’s raining outside, but it blew over very quickly.

Time for me to go and check on my boys. Yes they are alive and well. I do wish they would sit together during the day so I didn’t have to climb another set of stairs to the next deck. Garry was up top minding his own business with his nose in a book, not for long though. The effort involved in me going to get changed into some sunbathing attire was immense. Can you believe it? By the time I got back on the deck the heavens had opened and my boys were taking cover under Breakers Bar. Ooh Pimms, I dont mind if I do! Garry was on weather watch, Breakers Barand he kept informing me I would be able to sunbathe soon. How wrong he was. It could not have rained any harder. At one point we thought it was lightening but it was the ladies flash next to Chris! We were drenched, but did we care? I was sat in a puddle of water on my bar stool, much to the boys amusement. I found a few Hurricanes (cocktail of the day) aided my discomfort. Oh how we giggled – something we have done a lot of this cruise. I do love my boys!

It was time to face the music, the dreaded packing. I also had, what seemed like, a mountain of paperwork to attend to, questionnaires, forms, immigration paperwork I felt bombarded by the stuff. Packing didn’t take long as there was only me to pack for. The paperwork? Oh that can wait until tomorrow morning when I have nothing better to do. I needed one last check of the duvet, yes, its still good! Insides of my eyelids are looking well rested to.

I had a choice of 2 dresses I hadn’t worn for tonight, but as my pooly feet had swollen so badly I decided I needed to hide them under a maxi dress so I recycled one from earlier in the cruise, shock horror! It would be rude not to go to the Glass House. My boys came and joined me which was nice. We giggled our way through a recap of the events of the cruise. Oh we have had a nice time! It was the final dinner of the cruise. The waiters have clearly given up now and the table for 8 is laid for just 3 this evening. We really are like the naughty table in the P1040432corner. I remembered to take my bottle of Peninsular fizz to share with the boys and a good time was had by all. The entertainment seemed a little discombobulated this evening. The Concorde man was doing his talk in Malabar and Changez were on in the Atrium, so we opted for Blue Bar. Chris went off to do his packing and returned later. Garry disappeared for a while to attend to his case and paperwork, I can’t be bothered with any of it, especially when there are Martinis to be drank. Photos by the Christmas tree seemed to be another requirement of the evening before rocking down to Manhattan for a few for the road. Not a lot was happening in there tonight, but we were still among the last out of there. A final look at the Caribbean stars out on prom deck and so to bed! I had to negotiate getting my own suitcase safely outside the door this evening this really isn’t my job. Mission accomplished and I didn’t get locked out in my nightie.

BarbadosFriday 13th December 2013 – Barbados

Ahhh whos idea was it to leave immigration paperwork until this morning? It didn’t seem such a wise idea at 6.30am! I managed though. Then I had to muster my boys for immigration purposes. It was all pretty painless and I was straight in and out with no queuing. I dragged Garry off to posh breakfast in the restaurant. He was not able to convince me that the cafe was a good option, it may be his preferred choice but it’s not mine. I’m not sure he was convinced mine was the best option, but he got fed. On the way out I took him on a guided tour of single alley – I don’t think he will be booking one anytime soon! I had a bit of running around to do, as you do with bits of paperwork etc and then it was a rendezvous on top deck with my boys. Gosh it was hot, I liked it. Chris was determined to catch every last ray and insisted on rearranging the sun loungers accordingly. Garry had a little grumble about the heat from the sun. He didn’t seem impressed that I needed Hurricanes to ease the pain of my last few hours onboard, but they really did help. Chris’s was the first flight of the day due to be called, and he was not the slightest bit impressed when it was called 45 mins earlier than he anticipated. Why he felt the need to dressBarbados in a hurry, in his full winter woollies, on the deck is beyond me, but it caused much hilarity. They do allow you to go to the airport in tshirt and shorts lol. So that was Chris gone, one of my boys had left the building and I was sad. Garry was getting twitchy now about our flight, which to be fair was four flights away, but he got even more twitchy when I ordered another Hurricane – just one for the road. There was hot sunshine to be had and I was having it.

I was glad I had a day room to retreat to for a proper shower and to wash my hair before the flight. Is it only me that ever feels guilty for messing up a day cabin? I made sure all the rubbish was tied up in a plastic bag, wiped down the bathroom for the steward, wiped the dressing table over so that all my hair and make up was gone.

Garry seemed a little shocked to walk into Glass House and see me sipping on an ice cold glass of Pellar, lol, you really would think he should know me better by now. But this was it flight TOM117 for Manchester was now ready to disembark, something which I managed on the final call, I was in no hurry to leave the ship. BarbadosIt was a quiet drive back to the airport. I feel I needed another week. I was ready for all the official checks at the airport, I know which person needs what bit of paper when. I also know that the security staff at the scanners can be among the grumpiest in the world so I thought I was ready for them too, how wrong was I? The security man had a right strop on with me and everyone else! I know that Barbados airport has improved over the years, I recall it prior to having a roof, but it has to be the exec lounge for me, and today I had a guest with me in the form of Garry. We had a really pleasant hour or two up there, nibbling the nibbles and sampling the drinks selection. He finally tried the Banks beer which he had meant to try all cruise, bit late to decide you like it now! The call was made in the exec lounge that flight TOM117 was preparing to board so we headed down the stairs and were met were a sea of eyes from our fellow passengers, as if to say where have you two been? Well we have been sitting on comfier chairs than those, for starters! Passports and flight tickets were checked and we were onto the bus to take us to the aircraft across the tarmac. The bus was rammed, so rammed that I couldnt even find enough space on the pole to hold onto.

Ahh the tranquillity of Premium economy away from all the hustle and bustle. Bags in overhead lockers and I was sat ready for take off. The cabin crew seemed in a rush to get us seated and overhead lockers closed. Then it was announced that they needed to do a headcount so could we all stay in the same place whilst this was carried out. Three counts later and it became quite obvious we were missing someone. Then the pilot announced that we were infact 3 passengers short and if they weren’t found very quickly we would miss our take off slot. Then there was another call asking for a certain passenger to make himself known to a member of crew immediately. Me and Garry groaned and sunk back in our seats. It was the very same man from our dining table who had started off the cruise by having a go at the poor wine waiter, and later left the table never to be seen again. Why did he have to cause us grief at the last minute. The pilot had already explained that if he wasn’t found they would have to offload his case and that would take time. So we waited, but not for long. I could see the transfer bus approaching flashing his lights. Out stepped said missing man, waving ghis arms in the air in protest of being accused of being late no doubt. I thought the ground crew were going to pick him up and throw him up the aircraft steps. He didn’t relent when he set foot on the plane either, and had to deliver a little protest speech to the cabin crew. I pity who ever had to sit next to him!

Slam, the door was shut on Barbados! We were soon on the move and slowly taxiing toward the runway. We were no sooner in the air and the cabin crew were dishing out drinks, closely followed by a hot meal. I can’t recall what it was, but I recall not wanting it. I found a stiff drink eased the pain of leaving the Caribbean behind, but I couldn’t drink too much as I had to drive when I got back to Manchester. No sooner was the meal cleared away than we were more or less told to go to sleep. They came around and informed us that lights were about to be dimmed, we were to put our seats back and use the foot rest and to get some sleep. Well, I really would have loved to. It would have been nice to get some sleep, but could I get comfortable or warm? The lights no sooner seemed to go out than they were back on and they were putting breakfast under our nose. It was the fastest flight I have ever experienced back for the Caribbean. I think it was 6 hrs 37 minutes flying time.

Manchester was grim, it was dark and cold and I didn’t like it. My feet were protesting heavily and did not want to be walked on. There was no queue at all at passport control so I found myself trying to walk and rummage for my passport at the same time. By the time I got to the carousel for the cases they were just starting to come around. Case located and that was that. Time to greet the cold miserable outside air, thank goodness my car was in the multi-storey car park attached to the terminal. When I parked my car 15 days ago I had a slight issue gaining access to the car park, because despite having all my documents and receipt etc the car park claimed they had no record of my Purple Parking booking. But they let me in, advised me to get it sorted before I flew and all would be well on exit. Was it? No! Despite me having spoken to Purple Parking on 29th as advised, and getting an apology and a new booking reference, when I tried to exit the car park the machine was asking me for £549!! There then flowed a 20 minute conversation in the freezing cold morning air getting that sorted out. Dont think I will be using Purple Parking again in a hurry. The drive back home was a long and difficult one and I had to stop at only the second service station for a sleep in the car park. Luxurious ship in the Caribbean, to a cold dismal Car Park just outside Manchester. What a contrast, things change so quickly!

My thoughts on my cruise – I have to say it was one of the best, certainly one of the best Caribbean cruises I have had for a long time. Why? Well I think that is partly down to the fact that it was all very last minute. I did no planning at all. I didn’t plan to do anything in particular on any set day. I just took it all as it came and went with the flow. There wasn’t anything that didn’t meet my expectations, because I had no expectations set. I did things in my own time, when I wanted to do them. I met some lovely people and practically giggled my way around the Caribbean, OK there may have been a few drinks mixed in there as well! Would I cruise on my own again? Yes, most definitely. I found most people to be really sociable. I had no qualms about sitting at the bar alone, something I would certainly not do at a bar back at home. There was just always somebody to talk to, so I was never alone unless I chose to be.My Boys

I suppose the moral of the story is just ‘go on holiday and enjoy your cruise’ I did and it was fab.

Oh and thank you to ‘My Boys’ for never deserting me at the dinner table and for all the laughs we shared. It was the best of times!

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