Photos taken: October 2017

These photos were all taken with my phone rather than my main camera and constitute the bulk of the drinks consumed aboard the P&O cruise ship Azura during our five day cruise to the Netherlands and France (although we never got into France because something called “The French” stopped us). In addition there are some photos and a little bit of video from our time at the specialty dining establishment, The Epicurean, on board.

Alcohol

Our first drink on board was in Azura’s “pub”, Brodie’s. If the drinks featured in the photographs below show beer (for me) and cider (for my wife) then they were bought there too. The cocktails were bought either in the Planet Bar, the Blue Bar, or Malabar. Planet Bar was our preferred location for drinking in the evening with the gentle accompaniment of the ship’s guest duo (High Tides) or the pianist and the relaxing TV screens showing off locations from around the world. Malabar was a one-off; we’d have loved to spend more time there but the smell of sewage that other people seemed to ignore was just too much for us.

Our formal night tradition was carried out on Azura for this cruise too with a pre-dinner Vodka Martini (shaken without asking me; I’d have preferred it stirred) and a few olives (to be discarded once half the drink was sipped) for me with a G&T for my wife.

We only drank in the Glass House once, I think, and this was a glass of Argentinian Malbec for my wife with a Uruguayan Tannat for me while we read our books. These drinks were selected for their memories of our 2016 cruise to South America and were excellent. Wine is one area where P&O absolutely excel and where, for some reason, Princess absolutely fail. The variety of wines along with the quality on the Azura on both of our cruises has far exceeded anything we’ve had with Princess cruises; thin, tasteless, not kept very well seems to be the order of the day there. We’ll keep testing and comparing for science, of course.

We’d tried beer flights on our first cruise on Azura (we noticed that there were far fewer offerings of the flights and of beers in general on this trip but we also noticed that we had no problem getting any beers too so that evens out) and this time we went for whiskey and rum flights. With hindsight I should have selected the premium, sipping rums rather than the household ones with a glass of flat Pepsi but you live and learn. The whiskeys were lovely.

No complaints about the drinks selection on board Azura this time around. As noted, it did seem that the menus had been scaled back on some choices but if this was to stop the disappointment of ordering things that were unavailable then it was a good move. I did try on two occasions to get one cocktail that proved tricky because it contained egg whites. The first time I was told it might take 15 minutes as it would need to be retrieved from the kitchen area so I chose something else instead; the second time I was told flat out that there were no egg whites. Right. Not too big a deal. I’d still prefer the larger drinks measures you get with Princess but overall a good drinking experience on P&O.

Epicurean Restaurant

My wife’s not a fan of Indian food and neither of us like spicy things but we’ve been tempted to try Sindhu’s at some point regardless. However, for this cruise we selected a night at the Epicurean to test out P&O’s more conventional specialty dining options. We’d tried to get this for the formal night but that was understandably booked solid so went for the final night after our unexpected sea day instead. There didn’t seem to be too many diners there.

Service was friendly and after an initial fairly extended wait to be asked what we wanted it was efficient. The food was good, but not great. Both my wife and I found our main courses slightly tougher than expected and my wife was a little disappointed with her dessert as the specialised preparation effectively rendered what she had anticapted eating into something else entirely. A case of style over substance here. We’re possibly spoiled a bit as we have a wonderful restaurant in our home city and we thought the food would be closer to that. It was still good, as I’ve said, and other people we talked to were immensely impressed. For the cover charge it was very reasonable and I’d recommend it at least once on any cruise of more than a few days.

We picked a Rioja to go with the meal. As with other wines on board Azura, it was absolutely lovely. A basket of a variety of warm bread rolls was also added to the table and they were wonderful too.

My wife had Wild Mushroom and Champagne Velouté with Crème Chantilly and Salted Caraway Cheese Straws for starters. I went for Smoked Apple Wood infused Duck Liver Parfait with Caramelised Black Figs, Gingerbread Toasts, and an Apple and Fig Jam.

My wife’s main course was Loin of Wild Boar with a Smoked Pork Cheek Croquette and Lancashire Black Pudding, Beetroot and Blackberry Cabbage, Vanilla Charred Pear, and Boulangère Potatoes. My main course was Herb Roasted Poulet de Bresse, Chicken Pastilla, Vegetable Dauphinoise, Baby Leeks, Morel Velouté, and Chorizo Foam. As stated before, we both thought the meat in our dishes could have been more tender.

A pre-dessert for us was presented in the form of lipstick for my wife and a fried egg for me. The thing that most amused us about these were that they were presented on the same slate coasters we use at home.

Dessert for my wife was Crème Brûlée and White Chocolate Sphere, Raspberry Pearls, Chocolate, Candy Floss, and Caramelised Popcorn. This was presented with a great show but the use of blowtorch was overdone and ended up not really resembling the Crème Brûlée she’d actually wanted. I chose the Glazed Banana with a Caribbean Demerara Rum Tot, Peanut Butter Parfait, and Aerated Dark Chocolate.

A small plate of after-dinner chocolates and sweets was also selected and proved to be very nice.

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