On 27 August, 2015 I boarded Cruise & Maritime Voyages‘ Azores in Liverpool for a 2-night cruise to Dublin, disembarking in Bristol Avonmouth. The cruise had appealed to me because of the interesting destinations covered within the short space of time as well as the ship. Launched in 1948, Azores is the world’s oldest cruise ship still in service today. She is famed for sinking the Andrea Doria in 1956.
I had mixed feeling before boarding the ship. I was apprehensive about sailing on such a small ship and I was glad that I would only be onboard for 2-nights. After exploring the fabulous city of Liverpool, myself and fellow Cruise Ambassador, Anthony, checked in at 16:30pm. Check in was very swift, but rather inconvenient, due to the fact that they were collecting everyone’s passports, which would then be returned to us onboard the next day. We also had to register our credit cards once we got onboard the ship.
Once onboard Azores we went to our outside cabin 243. Although not the biggest cabin, it had enough space to feel comfortable in. The beds were not comfortable at all. The mattress was like concrete and the pillows could have bounced you into space. The mattresses weirdly curved up towards the end of the bed and were actually smaller than the bed frame, so every time I walked past the end of the beds I would keep banging my leg into the corner of the frame! Despite the disappointing beds, the bathroom was very impressive and featured a bath with overhead shower and surprisingly…a bidet!
We then began to explore the ship. At just 12,000 gross tons, it wasn’t going to take long to find our way around and become accustomed to all the features that Azores offers.
The Lotus Grill located on Calypso Deck is the buffet onboard. It’s spacious, and retains its traditional wooden decor. The selection at breakfast was reasonable, but the sausages tasted like frankfurters. Lunch was ok, but not the largest selection. The crew served the food onto your plate for you, which I didn’t like. Afternoon Tea was very popular and featured some tasty sandwiches and cakes.
Sirenes Bar is the only lounge bar onboard and although very spacious, I would have preferred having a choice of venues to choose from, as the only other interior venues were the Muses Nightclub and the Calypso Show Bar, which are both only open in the evening.
Azores has two outdoor bars overlooking the stern of the ship. Elpinor Bar is conveniently located on the terrace area right outside the Lotus Grill. The terrace area is great for al fresco dining in the sun or sipping on a sailaway cocktail.
Two decks above, the Aeolos Bar is great for a few refreshing drinks, while soaking up the sun. Just a few steps up from the bar is a large sun deck, filled with deck chairs.
Also located on the sun deck is the beauty salon and gym. The fitness center is very basic and contains just three machines. There is also a small beauty salon as well as a treatment room for massages.
The casino onboard is fairly basic, featuring several slot machines and two card tables. To use the slots you’ll have to insert £5, £10 or £20 into a change machine, as the slots require tokens. Located near the casino is the Azores Lounge, Card Room Tychon, Library, Captain’s Club Lounge, Photo Gallery and the Boutiques.
Situated at the forward end of the Calypso Deck is the Calypso Show Lounge. For a ship as small as Azores, the show lounge is rather large. Here is where production shows are performed in the evenings, along with guest entertainers and quiz games.
Muses Nightclub was probably my favourite venue onboard. The decor is very retro, with lots of silver and pink. The nightclub was a very popular place during our 2-night cruise and the music varied over the decades from the 60’s, 70’s and right up to the present day, so there was music to everyone’s liking. The Auditorium Cyclope is home to guest lecturers, port presentations as well as daily movie screenings.
The Olissipo Restaurant is the main dining room onboard. There are two entrances into the restaurant and it can be a little disorientating remembering which side of the dining room your table is located at. The restaurant isn’t glitzy, but has a certain comforting charm about it. The food was very good and there was a decent selection of dishes to choose from, although some of the dessert options were rather limited.
Currently displayed onboard in a cabinet near the boutique shops and Sirenes Bar, is the original bow bell from the ship. The MS Stockholm bell sank to bottom of the ocean, when the ship collided with the Andrea Doria on July 25th 1956. It was recovered from the wreck of the Andrea Doria and restored to its former glory at a price of $1million. It was kindly returned to the ship in June 2015 in memory of the five Stockholm crew members who lost their lives in the collision.
Having been to Dublin many times, I was not too fussed about visiting the city, especially when we would be departing at 2pm due to port requirements. Cruise & Maritime Voyages provided a complimentary shuttle service into the city, so we decided to explore for a couple of hours., and of course no visit to Dublin is quite complete without a pint of the black stuff! It was a very busy day at the port in terms of cruise calls. Also in port with us was AIDAcara and Royal Princess, which I would have done anything to be back onboard! (If you haven’t yet read my ship review on the spectacular Royal Princess, then make sure you check it out now) Sail away was amazing as we passed so close to Royal Princess I could almost touch it!
It was soon disembarkation time at Bristol Avonmouth and first impressions of the port were very underwhelming. After breakfast, we spent the last 30 minutes before our disembarkation time, standing on the promenade deck, watching the baggage handlers unload the suitcases, when all of a sudden I heard a splash….whoops, someones suitcase had fallen into the water! It was at this moment that I was glad we had chosen to carry our own bags off the ship!
I have to admit, after spending two-nights onboard Azores I wasn’t ready to come off just yet. I still don’t think I could do a long voyage onboard, maybe a 7-night cruise at most. She is a lovely ship and one of the last true remaining ocean liners still in existence. Azores has a gorgeous traditional wooden teak promenade deck and it was fascinating boarding a ship that actually has a riveted hull. You truly can not get any closer to the bygone age of ocean travel than on a cruise onboard Azores, and at nearly 70 years old, you best hurry to get onboard, before she unfortunately joins her former ship-mates at the scrapyard.