|Port of registry:|
|Laid down:||27 October 2008|
|Launched:||26 June 2009|
|Christened:||10 April 2010|
|Completed:||1 April 2010|
|Maiden voyage:||12 April 2010|
|Class and type:||Ventura-class cruise ship|
|Length:||290.0 m (951 ft 5 in)|
|Beam:||36.00 m (118 ft 1 in)|
|Draught:||8.7 m (28 ft 7 in)|
|Decks:||19; 14 passenger accessible|
|Installed power:||Six Wärtsilä diesel engines|
|Speed:||24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)|
MV Azura is a cruise ship operated by P&O Cruises and owned by Carnival plc. The ship was built by Fincantieri at their shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. At over 115,000 tonnes, Azura is the third largest of seven ships currently in service with P&O Cruises. She officially entered service with the company in April 2010 and was named by Darcey Bussell.
Azura is a Grand class ship, with a modified design which distinguishes her from early ships of the same class. Construction of Azura began in 2008 when her keel was officially laid on 27 October 2008. A ceremonial float out took place on Friday 26 June 2009, in which she was blessed by a priest, with Amanda Dowds, wife of the ship's captain, acting as her Godmother. The formal handover took place on 26 March 2010.
Azura's maiden voyage began on 31 March 2010, when she departed from the Fincantieri shipyard en route to Southampton. She arrived in the UK on 7 April 2010 at 9:12am. Azura's cruise with passengers began on 12 April 2010.
Azura was christened at 08:20 pm on 10 April 2010, by godmother Darcey Bussell. As well as performing the traditional bottle breaking ceremony, as a former principal dancer of the Royal Ballet, Bussell presented a dance performance by Royal Ballet School as part of the celebrations. Azura was originally registered in her homeport of Southampton, UK, but in November 2011 she was flagged-out to Hamilton, Bermuda, bringing her in line with her other P&O fleetmates and enabling wedding ceremonies to be conducted on board.
Azura is designed to appeal more to P&O's traditional client base and returning customers, whereas sister ship Ventura is more family orientated, and attracts new, often younger clients. For the first time in the P&O Cruises fleet, Azura features eighteen single staterooms, however sister ship Ventura received this feature after her 2013 refit. There are 900 cabins with private balconies and a number of spa staterooms with access to the Oasis Spa. Azura is the only Grand Class ship to feature a Duck Tail stern.
The ship also features a dance floor in the atrium, a New York City styled show lounge and a modern interpretation on a London pub. For the first time in the P&O Cruises fleet, Azura features an open-air cinema screen similar to those found on Princess Cruises ships such as Caribbean Princess. The screen, known as the SeaScreen is situated in front of the funnel.
Azura features many rooms and facilities common on other ships in the fleet. Following a company tradition, the English style pub is named Brodie's, in tribute to Brodie McGhie Wilcox, co-founder of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. The ship's main dining rooms are also given the traditional names of the Peninsular, Oriental and Meridian restaurants.
In total, the ship has eleven restaurants and eating areas, twelve bars and places to drink, four pools, a gym, two spas, outdoor cinema, a theatre and two show lounges.
In common with other ships in the fleet, Azura has 'select dining'; premium dining venues with passengers paying a cover charge to dine. Sindhu is an Indian restaurant with menu devised by Atul Kochhar. The Glass House is a restaurant and wine bar concept devised by television wine expert Olly Smith. Epicurean at Seventeen serves classic and modern British cuisine with traditional silver service.
The ship's main entertainment is an 800-seat theatre known as the Playhouse Theatre. She also features The Retreat, an outdoor spa terrace exclusively for adults. Azura also has the Oasis Spa and Thermal Suite which has couple and balcony treatment rooms. Azura completed a minor refit in April 2015 at Blohm and Voss's shipyard in Hamburg. This included painting P&O's large Union flag design on to the bow, repainting the funnel in blue with P&O's "sunburst" logo plus other minor interior updates including replacing speciality restaurant Seventeen with The Epicurean at Seventeen".
On 6 May 2015 whilst the ship was berthed in Flåm, Norway it was reported that the ship was delayed leaving by five hours due to a number of electrical issues. Prior to this, it was reported by passengers that the ship briefly ran aground and attempts to bring the ship under control caused the subsequent electrical faults, although this has not been confirmed.
Upon leaving Flåm after the delay, the ship then suffered further electrical faults and was forced to dock at Bergen overnight for inspection and repairs. This caused the ship to arrive 24 hours late at Southampton and the subsequent cruise was shortened. The cause of the issues has not been revealed by P&O.
On 1 November 2016 whilst the ship was berthed in Ponta Delgada, Azores it was reported that the ship was experiencing issues with its propulsion system. This was the first port of call outside of Southampton, England that the ship had made en route to its winter season Caribbean relocation transatlantic crossing. The ship remained at the berth in Ponta Delgada over night and eventually departed on the evening of November 2 after spare parts were flown in from Germany. Although the ship was delayed by thirty hours, the crew were able to make up the time over the next four days to arrive in Phillipsburg, St Maarten only a few hours later than scheduled.
On Wednesday 9 November 2016, during the ship's call at the island of Dominica, on her way to Barbados as part of the 2016 winter transatlantic season, a bus, carrying ten Azura passengers as well as a local driver and guide, was involved in a collision. The passengers were taken to a local hospital for treatment but one later died of their injuries at the hospital.
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