is a cruise ship of the P&O Cruises fleet. The ship was built by
Fincantieri at their shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. At 115,055
tonnes, Azura is the second largest of seven ships currently in
service with P&O Cruises. She is also the sister ship of MS
Ventura. She officially entered service with the company in
April 2010 and was named by Darcey Bussell.
MS 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 transferring the vessel to P&O
Cruises, took place on Friday 26 March 2010, attended by P&O
Cruises' managing director Carol Marlow and Carnival UK's chief
executive David Dingle.
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 Saturday, 10 April 2010, by
godmother Darcey Bussell. A former principal dancer of the Royal
Ballet, Bussell presented a dance performance by Royal Ballet
School as part of the celebrations, as well as performing the
traditional bottle breaking ceremony to christen the ship. Azura
was originally registered in her homeport of Southampton, UK;
but from 1 November 2011 she was re-registered to Hamilton,
Bermuda, bringing her in line with her other P&O fleetmates and
enabling wedding ceremonies to be conducted onboard.
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. There are 900 cabins with private
balconies and a select number of spa staterooms with exclusive
access to the Oasis Spa. Azura is the only Grand Class ship to
feature a Duck Tail stern.
Wine expert Olly Smith has helped to create the Glass House, a
venue where passengers are able to sample various wines. Atul
Kochhar, a three Michelin stars chef will be enlisted to create
Sindhu, an Indian fine dining restaurant on board. The ship
features a dance floor in the atrium, a New York styled show
lounge and 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 on Azura.