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Zawadi
08-22-2011, 01:36 PM
05 Aug 11 – Depart Southampton, UK
All packed and arranged for a chauffeur service to drive us to Southampton (UK South coast) to board P&O’s ship Azura, which only entered service last year. 115000 tons of 19 desks, 4 pools, 6 hot tubs, SeaScreen™, 800 seat theatre, 3 restaurants (2 were 1st & 2nd sitting based whilst the other was freedom style), 2 signatures restaurants one run by Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar.

Boarded around 12:30, got our lunch from one of the buffets and found a table by one of the pools. The cabins were available from 14:30 and we were surprised to find that our bags were already outside it.

Before setting sail, we had the mandatory muster drill, where we all hoped it would be the only time we would wear the life jackets.

After unpacking and exploring it was 18:30 and the time to meet our dining companions (around a table for 8, 1st sitting)

P&O operate dress codes during the evenings. On this cruise there were 4 formal/”Black Tie”, 4 smart (jacket required) and the remainder were smart casual. With these requirements we were glad that we did not have any flights.

06/07 Aug 11 – At Sea
These 2 days were spent sailing through the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay.

On board we enjoyed the quizzes, food (of course) and the good weather (18 - 24°C). The Bay of Biscay can be cruel at times but on this occasion it was being kind to us.

DW spent the days reading Milly Johnson’s “Here Comes The Girls”, which was about this cruise and the author was a guest speaker on board whilst I was reading “Cast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied Memoir”, by Chris Mitchell.

08 Aug 11 – Malaga, Spain
I was up before dawn to watch the sun rise as we sailed east from the Atlantic Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea through the Straights of Gibraltar. We were allowed to go ashore just after 12:00 (noon) and explored the town under clear skies and 28°C.

After dinner we raced to a Disney Character quiz which was almost over by time that we got there :(. For fun we attempted the quiz whilst the answers were been given out. We would have won with a score of 38/40. Oh well! The questions that we got wrong will be appearing on the Trivia thread at some time. :)

09-10 Aug 11 – At Sea
More relaxing days enjoying the weather, facilities and of course food.

On the 10th we had dinner in Sindu, Atul Kochhar’s restaurant. This had a £15 per person cover charge but it was well worth it.

11 Aug 11 – Argostoli, Cephalonia
Everything was fine until 02:30am when we were woken up by a jolt and load thud.

Unknown to us the weather had deteriorated and the ship was doing 20kts (1kts = 1.2mph) in a STORM FORCE 11 gale. This is winds up to 75mph and waves up to 60ft. We were on deck 9, the deck above the lifeboats, and the waves reached our balcony! Some people panicked and did go down to the muster stations.

Here is where I thank the ship’s designers as it was only the creaks and groans than gave the conditions away. I’ve had worse trips, in terms of motion, on the Dover/Calais car ferry across the English Channel.

On Cephalonia we had a coach tour arranged to take us on a scenic route to Fiskardo then on to Sami. Sami became Argostoli in the film “Captain Corelli's Mandolin”. We also had a short boat ride on an underground salt water lake which is fed by sink holes near Argostoli. On the way back to Argostoli we stopped at Myrtos Beach, which is where the mine scene was filmed.

12 Aug 11 – Dubrovnic, Croatia
Dubrovnic has been carefully restored since the war in 1991. It is one of a few places that still have their city walls intact and you can walk all the way around, which includes nearly 1000 steps.

We took a coach to the picturesque coastal village of Cavtat. This place is visited by very wealthy people judging on the size of the yachts that were tied up.

13 Aug 11 – Venice, Italy
We had been advised to ensure that we had a cabin on the starboard side of the ship. This was to get a perfect view of Piazza San Macro as we sailed in. With this information we set the video camera on a tripod and let it record the entire sail in. FANTASTIC!

We were told that Venice was going to be busy as there were 8 cruise ships in.
As we walked through the Stazione Marittima, we noticed that 4 of the ships were on turn around. Phew, 8000 less people in Venice!

We did part of a walking tour, from one of our guide books, around San Macro but included a trip up the Campanile and inside the Basilica San Marco.

The trip up the Campanile takes you to its belfry 60m above Piazza San Macro. The views are spectacular. Later in the day we heard the bells ringing in the Campanile and were glad that they hadn’t rung while we were in the belfry.

That evening we had dinner in Seventeen – XVII, which is P&O’s signature restaurant with a cover charge of £20 per person. We had chateau brioche as our entree. It was heavenly! When it came to the desserts I couldn’t make my mind up. Our waitress suggested a cherry and dark chocolate fondant. Chocolate heaven and I wanted to lick the plate clean but refrained so not to embarrass DW.

14 Aug 11 – Korcula, Croatia
What a delightful village. Here we dropped anchor and used one of Azura’s 6 tenders to get ashore. After exploring the narrow pedestrian streets and churches we went back onboard and made use of the quieter pools and hot tubs.

15 Aug 11 – Corfu Town, Corfu
As we got off the boat, we noticed crewmen repainting the anchor that had been dropped in Korcula. What attention to detail!

After a complimentary shuttle bus from the port into Corfu Town, we explored the Old Fortress and shops before heading back to the ship.

16-18 Aug 11 – At Sea
3 days of relaxation and reading “Mousetrapped” by Catherine Ryan Howard as we headed to our final port of call, Vigo.

On the 17th we had another dinner in XVII. This time it was the alternative menu and we ate al fresco at the back of the ship (deck 17). The evening’s dress code was “Black Tie”. The al fresco dining was romantic but the humidity whilst wearing a tux was a little uncomfortable.

19 Aug 11 – Vigo, Spain
The duty free shopping stop before getting home. It was a bit on the warm side walking around Vigo as the temperature topped 36°C
The dress code was again “Black Tie” and by now the clothes were a little tighter than when the cruise started.

20 Aug 11 – At Sea
This was our last day on board :(. The temperature had dropped to low 20s centigrade.

The day was spent packing and resting before returning home. We were sitting on our balcony when were heard a shout of "Dolphins!" Sure enough there was a pod of dolphins swiming alongside the ship. A much better sight than at Sea World.

21 Aug 11 – Home
Why is it that the only port that a cruise ship arrives early to is its home port?

We docked around 6am and got off at 8:45 to wait for the chauffeur car to take us home.

During the past 16 days we put on around 5 pounds. The diets have already started and the washing machine is working overtime!

badkitty
08-22-2011, 08:24 PM
Wow! What an amazing trip!! Thank you for the report Zawadi. :) Sounds like you had good weather, great food, and fantastic views. Plus dolphins! Very cool. :thumbsup: Also, glad to hear you have new trivia questions to test us with. :secret:

NJGIRL
08-25-2011, 02:58 PM
Great Report, thanks! Sounds like a wonderful trip. We spent 3 days in Venice when we visited Italy and we loved it.

MNNHFLTX
08-30-2011, 03:24 PM
Oh wow, that is my dream cruise (except for the gale at sea!) I went to Italy when I was 18 and would dearly love to see the Piazza San Marco again someday. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Joannelet
09-06-2011, 03:24 PM
Wow Zawadi! What a wonderful trip you both had! How was the cast member memoir you read? Venice sounds beautiful! You lucked out with less boats there!

Zawadi
09-06-2011, 04:38 PM
Wow Zawadi! What a wonderful trip you both had! How was the cast member memoir you read? Venice sounds beautiful! You lucked out with less boats there!

“Cast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied Memoir”, by Chris Mitchell, is about his time as a photographer in AK's Camp Minnie Mickey. A good read but 18+ rated in many parts.

“Mousetrapped”, by Catherine Ryan, is about her 18 months leaving Cork, Ireland to work on the front desk at the "Duck & Tuna", as the resort it is called within the book. An excellent read.