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Cruise Review: P&O Cruises Azura Caribbean – Part 2

Friday 15th February 2013 – at sea

Why does my silly brain tell me to wake up at UK time? We are in the Caribbean now stupid brain. I’ve not slept properly for the last 48 hrs and still you decide to wake me up at UK time of 7.30am. Its only 3.30am you stupid brain. The state of my unpacked clothes and the lack of organisation in the walk in wardrobe were niggling at me. I had to get up and sort it. It was like a game of tetras. 4 hanging rails but non of them with the correct combination of hangers to accommodate long dresses, shirts, trousers etc. I decided the split level double rails were wrong, so bottom rail was dismantled to allow my long dresses to hang properly. Shirts were moved over to near the entrance, and shorter P1000044dresses, suit and trousers could hang on the mid rail. Shelves and drawers were rearranged, and all opening and closing of drawers was done as quietly as possible so as not to disturb the neighbours, not that I think I had any adjoining the bedroom area. Mr C by now had his head stuck in his laptop. I climbed back into bed at just gone 6.00am but every time I closed my eyes, I fell asleep and promptly woke up again. At 7.30 am Mr C decided it was champagne time so he cracked open a bottle and we soaked up the early morning sunshine on the balcony.

After a shower I was feeling almost human so it was time for breakfast in XVII. It is a lovely added benefit of being a suite passenger. A lovely chilled and relaxed breakfast. We had the choice of dining inside or out on the open deck. I hadn’t come to the Caribbean to hide inside so we sat out the back, by the rail. Already passengers were scurrying about on the decks below to get their favoured position in the sun. Meanwhile on deck 17 the pace was much more laid back. I had freshly squeezed orange juice, melon, and salmon bagel. The toast was warm and the tea was hot and fresh.

 The Butler and the cabin steward were busy in our suite, so we left them to it and went for a wander of the open decks. It was very hot and sunny. A cookery demonstration was being set up by the Aqua Pool and Mr C stood and watched for a while but I needed the tranquillity of my suite. I had work to do so I spent an hour or so at the laptop playing catch up and Mr C went to a talk in the Playhouse given by an ex CID inspector. Something about the Heinz Baby scandal or something? He came back raving about it so it must have been good. Lynne and Rebs popped by, armed with bottle of flavoured vodka. Ooh it would be rude not to! Rod had gone to the same talk in the theatre. The vodka is strong stuff and we didn’t even need to pour it ourselves. Deepak the Butler dropped by at just the right moment with a supply of lemonade and wine, so he turned into private bartender and obliged with the pouring. I took the opportunity to point out to Deepak that the state of the valance on the bed was nothing short of disgusting. Several stains all round but something had clearly been spilt down the one side. I should really have taken the opportunity to point out that I was non to impressed with some areas of the bathroom floor, but I really didn’t want him thinking I was the passenger from P1000062hell, so I kept quiet and wondered if he or the cabin steward might notice the floor themselves. Once the lads were back from the CID talk I returned to my laptop for a bit more work whilst Mr C took over the hosting. Deepak then arrived and took a lunch order and we had a lovely lunch on the balcony with chilled wine, and beers for the lads. Really, what could be better? Friday lunchtime, at sea, in the Caribbean, and were dining on the balcony of Azura. The sun is blasting onto our perfect aft balcony, and our lovely Butler is serving lunch.

After lunch there was only one thing for it, once our guests had departed we climbed into bed and caught up with some much needed sleep. The wine and vodkas certainly helped. Even when the phone started ringing at 4.15pm the effort to move two feet to the right of the bed was to much so it was a missed call.  I had to pull myself out of bed at around 5.30pm to get ready for the night ahead. Time to test the Jacuzzi! I have to say it is the most comfortable bath I have ever laid in. Perfectly designed to take the strain off your back and rests for your arms in just the right places. I lay for quite a while, but then I had to move to the separate glass shower cubicle so that I could wash my hair. Once done in the shower, I had to move onto the second room of the bathroom area to clean teeth etc. It’s a bit of a marathon to get through all the departments of our bathroom facilities. While fluffy robe to relax in and then it was over the dressing area to attend to make up and hair styling. Have to say its one of the best mirrors and dressing tables I have ever had on a ship. Mirrors to 3 sides, means that I can see front, sides and back of hair all at the same time. Mr C is still sleeping. Then I have to press his shirt and steam the train of my black and white dress. it really is all go!

Rendezvous in Glass House for pre Commodore Gala Party. I confess I am not a lover of the Gala partys, I see that they serve no purpose, and I would rather not attend really. But it’s a dress spotting opportunity. Glass House was busy so we ended up on the starboard side in the walkway. My Pellar wasn’t served in one of the nicer champagne flutes so that niggled me, but what niggled me more was that Lynns glass had lipstick on it and it hadn’t been spotted by bartender or server. When I took the opportunity to point it out to the Glass House manager he dared to doubt me. He looked, and he looked again, as if to say it must have been our lipstick. Then he said he would take it to the bartender to check! Then he came back with it after taking only a few paces across the floor, and said he would be back. He returned with a fresh glass but more or less implied that it was us that were wrong!! It seems the customer is never right anymore. Why he decided to make such a fuss is beyond me? We headed out to the Gala Reception a little late and already the P1000070Commodore was introducing his senior officers. I could hear him but couldn’t see him, and we had even less chance of obtaining a drink! We headed down to deck 6, still no joy so it was down to deck 5 where there was plenty of room. I chatted with Sham the Bar Manager and later David Exec Purser whom came over to say hello. He was off to dine with Olly Smith who was onboard for a holiday.

We were allocated Peninsular restaurant for this cruise. Table 85 was our table and everyone seemed aware of that fact from the moment we had boarded, well maybe a few days before that ; ) But you couldn’t get into the restaurant without the bit of white card that had your name on it. I had put mine ready to bring with me, but Deepak had distracted me just before we left the suite and it was on the desk just by the door. Rod had his table allocation card, but were they going to allow me and Mr C in? Eventually we were granted permission to enter the restaurant and we were sat at my requested table of 85. The first nights always seem a little chaotic, but getting a wine waiters attention wasn’t really happening. It happened when I pointed it out to the head waiter though. Mine and Lynns medium beef was far from medium, it was almost running round the restaurant it was that pink. So that had to go back for a replacement but mine returned equally as red so most of it was left. Our waiters names are Prem and Scrabble! We have had to call him that because it starts with a Y then a U, has a V in the middle and end in a J, and is about 8 letters long. Maybe tomorrow all will become clear? After dinner we took the long walk along and up to Planet Bar. We just missed the seats at the bar so we sat over the far side and I enjoyed a very nice cosmo. The others were flagging, including Mr C who had taken the longest snooze this afternoon, so they all wanted their beds. I wanted to see Robbie Williams tribute in Manhattan so reluctantly went along to the suite. But I wasn’t tired so I went out alone! Robbie was ace. He really is very good. He was one of the few I hadn’t seen. He had been onboard many times, but I had never actually made it into see him. Well worth the effort though, so I’m glad I went. Shame I couldn’t get a seat anywhere though because my feet were killing me in my sparkly silver shoes. A big silver post did a pretty good job of propping me up for the duration of the show though. Bartender Brain came and said hello. He had been watching me from the bar and was concerned I didn’t have a drink. I confess it was a tad unusual, but to be honest I wasn’t approached by any of the staff to see if I wanted one so I hadn’t bothered. Maybe I look poor lol. After the show I decided to wander upto the front to see what was happening where. Malibar was closed, completely dead and empty and it was only 12.15am. The bar staff were just going off duty, and then I spotted Sid. Sid is a star of a bartender, and the good news is that he is usually working in Sindhu so at least I can be confident of a lovely Benares when I want one. The amount I have had to send back to bartenders who dont know how to mix them is just a joke. After a chat with Sid, I decided not to venture any further forward to see what was happening where, and I turned back to take the walk to the aft, then the lift to deck 10, right to the back, into my own private little entrance hall with a porthole door and into Oransay Suite. Oh the effort of getting to bed. First there is the wardrobe to enter and place shoes on the rack, dress on the correct hanger and rail. Then pass through the various stages of the bathroom, removal of makeup, moisturise of skin, make sure all the lights are out. Go out on the balcony to look at the stars, get into bed and read the paper, plus the other 10 sheets of garbage that have to be delivered with it. Lights out and so to sleep!


Saturday 16th February 2013 – St Maarten

I actually woke up at a near sensible time this morning of 10 to 7. I could see we hadn’t berthed and no land was yet in sight. I have to say it is a little bit frustrating being at the aft, because looking over the balcony only shows where you have been and not where you are going. Im nosey by nature , so hate to think I am missing out on anything. By the time I wandered onto the balcony a little bit of land was just creeping past the port side. A look at the webcam revealed that we were about to berth behind Star Clipper and alongside Carnival Valour. Windstar was also across at the new berth. So, a relatively quiet day for St Maarten. Breakfast in XVII was lovely. The sun was on my back, it was chilled and relaxed. I had freshly squeezed orange juice, stewed fruit compote, and the English breakfast. Fresh tea and toast was in plentiful supply. Deepak, the Butler, dropped by after breakfast to change the coffee machine that Mr C has been fighting with for the last two days. It has finally been decided it has broken.

We walked into St Philipsburg because exercise is always good. It was a full on wind tunnel on the quay side between the ships but beyond that it was like an oven. It was oh so hot! We strolled along the promenade and then cut through to the street of shops. Mr C ‘needed’ a new watch of a certain variety. Not many seemed to stock the one he wanted. The first shop was non too obliging on price. We asked in several other shops and they didn’t stock it, but we were advised to visit the Windmill Store. I have to say it was the most least likely shop I would have thought to go in for such an expensive item, but he did seem to have the largest stock on the island. The one Mr C wanted was in stock, but the price made me need a seat. A bit of bartering followed. Then I told the nice shop keeper how much Mr C was allowed to spend, lol. Mr Shopkeeper then asked the lady on the till, and the deal was done. Clearly the women really do wear the trousers!! What treat did I get? Two dresses off the market and a sun hat lol.  Mr C then met with Lynn, Rod and Rebs DSC_1337outside the Courthouse at 11.30am to go to Mayho Beach to see the planes landing. Plane really don’t excite me. Ships yes, but planes? No thank you. My plan was to browse the shops and have a leisurely afternoon, but it was hot! Oh so very hot! I walked along the prom for a short while, then doubled back on myself to go back to the ship. The shops just seemed like too much of an effort. I confess I struggled to walk the length of the prom and the main beach in the heat. But the oasis that is Daphnes Bar was there on the horizon among the cool palm trees so I sat with a very large strawberry daiquiri, made from fresh strawberries and lots of rum, and I just chilled. Watching the world go by. I was tempted by a second, very tempted. But as I was on my own, I had no one to hold me up should the P1000094need arise, so I left after one. The effort involved in the walk back to the ship was huge. I could of course of got the water taxi but that would have been far too easy. It was hot, my maxi dress was sticking to me in the heat. My feet were sweating and rubbing on my leather flip flops. I walked along the road feeling very hard done to. The ship seemed like miles away. why didn’t I just stop in Daphnes with another cooling drink? Should I purchase an ice cold can of something from one of the dodgy looking vendors along the pathway? Somehow I soldiered on and arrived at the duty free shops for a little browse before walking back down the wind tunnel to the ship. I embarked fwd on deck 4, so the aft of deck 10 seemed like another zillion miles away. Once through the door it was off with the dress, on with a bikini, sun lounger positioned in the sun. Glass of chilled wine. Cooling foot treatment for the feet. Magazine from the magazine rack. And relax! 

It wasn’t long before Mr C came trooping in full of his exciting afternoon plane spotting at the beach. I’m still not convinced. Just why anyone wants to get so close to a huge plane coming into land above your head is totally beyond me. he pulled up a chair, got a cold beer from the fridge and started playing with his new watch.

It was Great British Sailaway up on deck and Mr C was keen to attend and had arranged to meet the others for a drink. I did think it odd that the Great British Sailaway was so early in the cruise, but as soon as I set foot out on deck all became clear. It was approaching the end of cruise for those that embarked a week earlier than us, and I felt like I had just arrived at someone elses party uninvited! The ents team were enthusing about what a great cruise it had been, and lets make this final sailaway party the best ever. Hang on a minute? I’ve only been onboard a few days, its not over yet. It hasn’t really got started. We had a walk round the deck and Breakers Bar looking for Lynn & Rod but there were just too many people. All waving their flags and jumping around doing the actions to the tunes. I felt like I didn’t belong. I usually enjoy the deck partys, but I didn’t belong. I needed to get as far away as possible from the noise and mayhem. P1000108We decided to go aft to the Terrace Pool, get a cool drink and just chill as we sailed from St Maarten. All was going well until a group of people, who had lost the volume controls on their voices, turned up and took away any chance of peace. I know they are on holiday, and I know I am starting to sound like a female Victor Meldrew, but lifes stressful. I have come away to chill and destress. I picked up my glass and we headed back to Aqua Pool. Hardly a soul in sight. We took the steps upto the tiered terrace overlooking the pool and Aqua Bar and laid on a padded lounger. It was nice and cool in the shade, and despite the din from the predictable sailaway tunes at the next pool, it was relaxing in a weird sort of way.  The barstaff and waiters were unknowingly entertaining us, because as they worked to collect empty glasses, tidy furniture etc, and cover the seats ready for the Seascreen films, they were dancing and doing the actions to the tunes next door. All very entertaining!

Back in the tranquillity of the suit the evenings canapés had arrived, asparagus wrapped in beef, yum! Deepak popped back in to arrange breakfast. He was aware we are on an excursion in the morning (yes, you read that correct! I am on a P&O excursion!!) so he was concerned that we should order breakfast for the balcony and went to great lengths to tell us the different choices available both before and after 7.30am. Mr C needs his cooked breakfast, so it was decided we would eat just after 7.30am, to be at our meeting point at 8.15am for the excursion. Oh that sent Deepak into a tizzy. How was he to get a hot breakfast from the galley at 7.30am. Well surely if hot breakfast was available after 7.30am they would have some ready at 7.30am? Mr C wasn’t going to settle for a continental breakfast so the logistics were left to Deepak.

Tropical Night tonight so a suitable brightly coloured dress was selected from my walk in wardrobe.  We went along to Glass House, as we were early for our pre dinner drinks rendezvous, and had a nice glass of Canadian Fizz – just to set the scene. Then it was along to Sindhu for a nice Benares mixed by the one and only Sid. I confess it didn’t look like the picture. The real ones, as in the picture, only seemed to be around for her maiden season, but it was a frozen cocktail and it tasted good! So good that we had two. No pre dinner nibbles were offered? Is that cutbacks or a norivirus precaution?

Dinner in the Peninsular and I confess I spent half the night stating at ‘Scrables’ name badge. At the end of the meal we got the introductory spiel, but I confess I’m non the wiser.

Tropical Party up on deck, so that was where we headed. Absolutely, not a chance in hell, of a seat on deck 15 or 16. It was packed. Once again I felt like I had arrived at a party uninvited. It was full of people from another cruise. We found somewhere to stand for a while but it wasn’t doing it for me. I don’t doubt that many were enjoying it, it just felt odd somehow? We stayed until Freddie Mercury Tribute came onto the stage. That’s a new one putting the tribute acts on at a pool party. He is good, he sounds like Freddie Mercury when he sings. I’ve seen him many times. But I find his whole act a bit daft to be honest. I was never particularly a Freddie Mercury or Queen fan so I have no idea if that is how the real Freddie was? I just find his daft walk and the white false teeth, well, daft! So we headed down to Blue Bar for some P1000115normality. Sofa in front of the bar made it feel as if we had never been away. We indulged in a couple of salt rimmed margaritas whilst Mr C took advantage of the comfy seats and closed his eyes for 40 winks! Time to drag him to bed. I cant go to bed without stepping on my balcony and checking the stars. Its just fab out here. Peaceful, the wake of the ship mesmerises me, and the stars are all clear in the warm night sky.

GoCruise With Jane

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