Sunday, 22 May 2016

P&O Cruises A610 A611 Azura 30th April - 21st May 2016

Anyone reading my blog, will know that I have done all my cruises with P&O, dating back to 1975 and 1976, when I was onboard Canberra with my family, when my cruise addiction began.   After finally persuading my husband Steven to go on his first cruise in 1999, the rest is history.

We booked a back to back cruise on Azura, taking in a 7 night Fjords cruise, then a 14 night Canaries cruise.   On embarkation day, I received a detailed Special Dietary Needs letter from the Senior Restaurant Manager, which for new cruisers must be very comforting.

At our first dinner in the Oriental Restaurant, we liked our waiters Gilbert and Rupesh so much, we asked Restaurant Manager Venkat, if we could have the same table on the second cruise, which he kindly arranged.   We were also looked after by two wine waiters, Lucas and Vinod and along with our waiters and Venkat, they were one of the best teams we have had the pleasure to encounter on a P&O Cruise.

I was looked after by two diet chefs, Rohan the first cruise and George the second and I was impressed by them both.   I am not sure passengers appreciate the role of the diet chef, it is a very responsible position, especially where allergies are concerned and with the number of diets, on each dinner sitting, it must be intense pressure.

I was looked after by two excellent Head Waiters who took my order each night, Krishna the first cruise and Sushant the second.   I avoided all bread onboard the first week, as on our Arcadia cruise last year, on the two occasions I ate bread, I was quite poorly, so I emailed shoreside diet reservations about it when I returned home.   They contacted the Head Baker on Arcadia, who confirmed soya was an ingredient, suggesting I asked about an alternative when I next cruised.

Steven kept urging me to ask Sushant about bread, so I did and he liased with the Head Baker, who to my amazement, suggested he make me four bread rolls each day, which could be sent to whichever dining venue I visited.   You have to consider the number of passengers they are catering for each day and yet they made me four bread rolls daily, that is service going beyond the call of duty.

I had a late breakfast each day, which included a wide selection of fresh fruits, prunes, dried fruits, cereals and of course my bread rolls, but I am sure if I wanted a hot option, this would have been no problem.   Lunch was usually a jacket potato with loads of salad or being a Northern lass, my love for chip butties won me over many a day.

I had a soup course each night including tomato, broccoli and almond, sweet potato, mushroom, vegetable consomme, celeriac and apple, parsnip, minestrone, the list goes on, but for some reason my photos were not very clear, but rest assured they were delicious.

Below is a selection of the starters I had during dinner on both cruises.

Tempura Vegetables with Sweet Chilli Sauce

Vegetable Pakora with Mint & Coriander Chutney

Houmous Salad (I asked for plenty houmous!)

Vegetable Sushi with Ginger, Wasabi & Chilli Sauce

Dolmade, Babaganoush & Houmous

Soba Noodles with Peanuts & Sesame

Vegetables & Potato Wedges with Romesco Dip

Mushroom & Pimento Salad

Confit Tomato & Avocado Salad with Balsamic Syrup

Onto main courses, which most nights I had with a salad, plain vegetables or chips, the pasta was made with eggs, but I was quite happy with the gluten and egg free pasta.

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

Vegetable Brochette with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Mushroom Risotto

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry

Spicy Stir Fry with Vegetable Rice

Sweet Cherry Tomato Pasta

Mushroom & Asparagus Stir Fry

Smoky Vegetable Cassoulet

Vegetable Tacos with Guacamole

Saag Aloo

Porcini Mushroom & Truffle Pasta

I am not a sweet toothed person and most nights I was usually far too full to manage anything more than fruit salad or sorbet or sometimes nothing, although Krishna and Sushant both asked me many times about ordering a dessert.   Swedish Glace ice-cream is always available, but as its made with soya, its off limits for me and although I had thought of packing some cartons of Oatly cream, I forgot.   

I see improvements being made, on the dietary requirements front, each time I cruise, with new innovative and interesting vegetarian menus and clearly labelled vegan options being introduced, long may it continue.

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