170 Years in the Making, P&O Cruise's Azura Sets Sail

Star-studded launch for P&O’s stunning new superliner – fine wines and a celebrity restaurant are just some of the attractions on board

P&O’s sleek new ship Azura sailed into Southampton earlier this week and although skies were grey, the stars will be out for her official naming ceremony tomorrow (Saturday 10 April) before she sails to sunnier destinations for her maiden voyage on 12 April.

Every great ship has a godmother, and Azura’s is Britain’s best-loved ballerina, Darcey Bussell, who will be swinging the champagne bottle to launch one of the most-anticipated new ships in P&O’s 170 year history.

Azura’s signature restaurant is Sindhu, run by celebrity chef Atul Kochhar, a frequent guest on James Martin’s “Saturday Kitchen” and the first ever Indian restauranteur to be awarded a Michelin star.

Passengers will have plenty of cuisines to choose from on board, but Sindhu will offer a taste of India at its best: okra bhajis with chili honey dip, sirloin steak debab with Sarawak pepper jelly and coconut sauce, and lentil dumplings with coconut chutney are some of the specialities on Sindhu’s menu.

“I have a restaurant near Azura’s home port of Southampton, which means that when the ship is back in port I can change things around pretty quickly,” says Atul. “And I’ve studied her itinerary and worked out what can be loaded from where so we can use local ingredients and tailor the menus to the actual regions the ship is visiting. What I promise is a true explosion of flavours. It’s witty food and a great mix of British and Indian cuisine.

P&O have spared no expense when it comes to the wine list, either. Olly Smith, also a regular on “Saturday Kitchen” and arguably Britain’s most entertaining wine connoisseur, has been working with vineyards in Sicily to source and blend some special signature wines for Azura’s restaurant and bar The Glass House. Wine-lovers can even sample a Wine Flight – their own on board mini wine tasting experience.

Azura sets sail for the sun on Monday April 12th, her 16-night maiden voyage, when she’ll visit 7 ports in 5 Mediterranean countries, Spain, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Gibraltar.

Azura’s Vital Statistics:

116,000 tonnes, 290m long, 36m wide, 59m high from the waterline, 14 passengers decks to accommodate her 3,100 passenger capacity, 1, 200 crew. www.pocruises.com/azura

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