P&O Azura 14 Night Mediterranean Cruise – Getting Ready to Board

For the first in my new ‘Fat Fighting Foodie Goes Travelling’ series, I’m very excited to be embarking on a Mediterranean cruise. I fell in love with cruising during my first cruise in 2016 on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas. Since then, I’ve been on 2 others (Crown Princess and Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas) and have another cruise coming up later this year.

My Shipmates

On this cruise, I’ll be sailing with my husband and mother-in-law. The main reason for the sailing is to celebrate my MIL’s 60th birthday which occurred earlier this year (as well as Mr FFF’s 40th I suppose).

The Ship

This time around, we’re trying P&O’s Azura. We chose this ship primarily because it has solo cabins for my MIL. However, on booking, it actually worked out cheaper for her to be in a standard interior cabin. This is much better for several reasons: location of solo cabins in right next to the casino so there’s some potential for noise; standard interior cabin will be slightly more spacious; we managed to get our cabins nearby on the same deck which would not have been possible if she was in a solo cabin.

Our cabin is a balcony cabin, starboard side on deck 10. We chose a cabin on this deck because there are cabins above and below and the balconies are larger than on other decks which we thought would be useful as MIL has the option of enjoying it with us without us all being squashed.

The layout of the ship is practically identical to the layout of the Crown Princess that we sailed on in 2017 so I’ll be interested to see how the two ships compare. We found the layout of that ship quite confusing to navigate compared to the RC ships we’ve sailed on (and I’m renowned for my excellent sense of direction) so again it will be interesting to see how the two ships compare in that regard. I envision that I will spend most of the cruise employing my teacher skills to ensure that Mr FFF & MIL don’t wander off and get lost!

The Itinerary

We are doing a roundtrip from Southampton calling at the following ports:

  • Cadiz, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Livorno, Italy
  • Civitavecchia, Italy
  • Cartagena, Spain,
  • Gibraltar, UK

I am very much looking forward to the fact that we have 7 sea days which means plenty of time to relax and enjoy the ship.

We only have one excursion booked: we’re going to Rome. Mr FFF and I have visited Civitavecchia twice on previous cruises but have not been to Rome as yet. We’d decided not to go because of the long transfer times and the heat and crowds in August. However, this was the only place that MIL said she definitely wanted to visit so we’re going to give it a go. We’ve booked the ‘Rome Tiber Cruise and Walk’ tour through P&O. It involves a panoramic tour of several landmarks, a short walking tour with the opportunity to sample some local produce, a river cruise, a walking tour through baroque Rome and a further river cruise. My main reason for booking through P&O was the peace of mind knowing that we’ll be looked after in case of any travel delays which are common in this area of Italy. I also thought the boat tours would help to break-up the walking.

In all of the other ports, we’re just going to get off and have a wander around. This will be mine and Mr FFF’s second cruise call to Barcelona (he’s been one other time and I’ve been twice) and our third cruise call to Gibraltar (Mr FFF has also been when serving in the Royal Navy). Both ports we really enjoy visiting and are looking forward to going back to. It will also be our third time to Livorno. MIL is a first time visitor to all of the ports and a first time cruiser – she is just a tad excited!

We’re heading down to Southampton a day early to avoid the stress of driving down on the day of the cruise and to get our holiday started a day early. My preferred hotel choice, Holiday Inn right next to the port, was unfortunately fully booked so we’re staying nearby at a Premier Inn and parking at the port.

Dining

As my mother rightly points out, for me it’s all about the food! We’ve gone for ‘Freedom Dining’ meaning that we can turn up for dinner at a time to suit us each evening and choose either to sit with others or have a table to ourselves.

I am particularly looking forward to trying some food and wine pairings at ‘The Glass House’ that has wines curated by Olly Smith.

I have a couple of other things booked as a surprise for Mr FFF and MIL but I won’t say anything else about those yet in case they read this…

The Blog

I aim to blog about this cruise as I sail, although I probably won’t be getting an internet package so will only be able to post on port days. I also plan to Periscope during the cruise so feel free to check out those – my username is @hayley_bopp

That’s about it for now, I’m off to finish off the last bits of packing before heading down to Southampton. If you’ve got any questions about the ship, ports or cruising in general, please ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

I’m looking forward to sailing with you!

FFF

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