After leaving Southampton, Azura sailed for three days to reach Ponta Delgada in the Azores.
After the first day the weather turned from blue skies to grey skies. The sea became choppy and the Captain deployed the ship’s fins to reduce Azura’s rolling.
Day 1 Friday 19th October Southampton
Our taxi was a little late at 11.15 am. We then meandered through Hampshire taking the least direct route to the M3 and then onto Southampton.
As Azura was leaving from the Ocean Terminal the taxi had to go through the centre of Southampton. The good news was that our journey though was quick and easy and we were at the terminal by 12.30 pm. Once our bags had been taken away we made our way inside. We were given our health declaration forms and were directed to join the queue for priority check-in.
Check-in was painless and we were soon through security and on Azura. We went to the Peninsular restaurant for lunch. Unusually for lunch we were crammed into a small part of the restaurant. After a long wait we received a couple of glasses of fizz. My red wine took an awful lot longer to arrive. The food was a buffet as usual. I skipped the sandwiches and headed for the hot food which was a choice of croque monsieur, Cornish pasties or breaded prawns.
At a second trip to the food I picked up more breaded prawns and a small dessert. By then I did manage to get one more glass of P&O house red.
In our cabin
We heard the announcement that the cabins were now ready. Our suitcases were waiting outside the cabin so we set too an unpacked. We met our cabin steward for the first time and asked for the fridge to emptied. We ordered some tonic waters from room service to fill the ‘fridge back up.
Our muster station was below us on Deck 7 in the Manhattan night club. After getting our cruise cards scanned we sat and waited for the safety drill to begin. The room was soon full and late comers were all having to stand. While we waited we chatted and discovered that our table companions were not only from Nottingham but were from Carlton. They even went for meals in the village where we used to live. After the demonstration of how to put life jackets on we were treated to a display of how to hold the life jacket of the person in front. This was how we were supposed to form a ‘follow the leader chain’ on the way to a lifeboat.
Outside the weather was still good with lots of blue sky. The upper decks were packed as everyone was now outside for the sailaway. The Azura’s funnels as usual were pumping out black diesel fumes as the ship prepared to leave.
The Captain interrupted the sailaway party to explain that there was a slight technical problem and the ship would not be leaving on time. His estimate was that the delay would be for 10 or 15 minutes. After the sailaway party finished we enjoyed a drink at the Horizon Bar and chatted to folks that I knew from Facebook groups.
As the sun went down it began to get cool out on deck. We returned to the cabin, changed and we went up to the Planet Bar to have a drink and wait for dinner.
Azura eventually left the Ocean Terminal after 8 pm. I enjoyed a large G&T made with our local Silent Pool Gin.
Sitting in the Planet Bar we were able to watch Southampton slip away behind us.
Dinner in the Oriental
The advantage of using the Planet Bar was that the lifts go straight down to the Oriental restaurant on Deck 6.
The first evening’s queues at the restaurant stretched up the steps. This was because everyone had to wait to be shown to their respective tables. We were on table 2 to the left of the restaurant at the back. This was a table set for six but only two of our fellow passengers were waiting.
My meal was a prawn cocktail followed by pork tenderloin and my favourite honey and ginger ice cream.
From the Captain’s Log:
Preparations for departure began at approximately 14:30. The pilot joined the vessel at 16:24, shortly before all of the vessel’s shell doors were closed and secured for sea. After a short delay, Azura cast off her last lines at 19:59 and proceeded into Southampton Water. At 20:43 we altered to starboard for the first of our large turns around Calshot spit, followed quickly by the Brambles turn, this brought Azura into the Solent. We transited the Solent at around 12 knots and by 21:55 we had reached the Nab Tower where the pilot disembarked.
We subsequently set a westerly course to begin our voyage out of the Channel and towards the Azores
Weather: Clear skies, dry conditions
Wind: Light Airs