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Sail Date: August 2019
We chose a 12 day cruise with P & O on their Aurora ship this year as everyone we knew, who had cruised, said that they had always had a great time. This ship is now Adult only. We had a smooth and speedy embarkation at Southampton ... Read More
We chose a 12 day cruise with P & O on their Aurora ship this year as everyone we knew, who had cruised, said that they had always had a great time. This ship is now Adult only. We had a smooth and speedy embarkation at Southampton and having travelled from the North-east of England this was a very welcome start to our holidays. Our inside cabin was a moderate size but well furnished with a decent size bathroom (shower). Our cabin was immaculate with tea and coffee making facilities (replenished daily) and Sandesh, who looked after our cabin ensured that clean towels (and pool towels) were changed daily and bedding changed regularly. His attention to detail was very impressive. We were also impressed with the wide selection of food available. Food was available through the day as were refreshments. Food was hot and well presented. We dined in different restaurants as well as the self-serve areas (the Horizon) and one of our favourite places was the Medina Restaurant where we got exceptional service from Melwyn and Joel who really looked after us well each time we visited. When we did dine in the Horizon we were often looked after by Frauline who was a very friendly and funny guy and ensured that we had everything we needed to enjoy our meals. The entertainment was, in our opinion, 1st class considering the entertainment team have so many different shows and routines to perform so often. We were never short of things to do, the cinema showed relatively new films, the gym had modern equipment, there were activities to join in all day long and lots of different entertainment in lots of different bars onboard the ship. One of our favourite places to chill was The Crow's Nest. A definate plus was being able to visit a designated are for Costa Coffee on board. All the staff were very friendly and helpful throughout our holiday. We didn't go on any organised trips as we wanted to explore the ports ourselves and most were within walking distance although there were taxis available. One negative comment would be our visit to Lanzarote. We wondered why so many of the people we spoke to were not getting of the ship that day. Those of us who did were back on the ship within a very short time as there was little to do in the tiny resort we visited (most of which was closed). We now have the 'cruising' bug and are looking for our next adventure. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise due to the interesting itinerary, as it was visiting a number of ports that were new to us. We had been on Aurora just 4 weeks before (see other review) so were interested to see the improvements. The ship did look ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the interesting itinerary, as it was visiting a number of ports that were new to us. We had been on Aurora just 4 weeks before (see other review) so were interested to see the improvements. The ship did look refreshed but as regular cruisers on Aurora (7 times in 2 years) we had been really looking forward to the new large screen TV's so were deeply disappointed to find that all balcony cabins and above had received them, except the 8 accessible ones (of which we had one). Very poor show P&O, made worse by the fact that our questions on board as to why this was the case were ignored - 3 times. Aside from that, we enjoyed the cruise with, as always, some highs and lows (others will no doubt feel differently but these are just our opinions); Good points - The service in the Medina Restaurant (Freedom Dining) was first class. Food was very good. We did the Chef's Table private dining at £75 a head and it was the best thing we have done on a P&O ship for years and in the company of lovely fellow passengers who are prepared to fork out for top quality. Absolutely superb in every respect. Great initiative P&O - please repeat it. Tony Babb (guest lecturer) gave some fascinating talks. The Headliners show called Applause was superb. The new show 'Astonishing' previewed on Aurora during our cruise. It didn't live up to the hype, but was a welcome break from the usual dated offerings. Best two ports for us were Oporto and Ceuta, the latter being the unexpected highlight (it's a Spanish enclave cut out of Northern Morocco). What a fantastic place. P&O should go there far more often instead of the dump that is Gibraltar (the two are opposite sides of the Straits of Gibraltar). La Coruna, Lisbon and Alicante were all very nice, but only the last of them was new to us. Sorrento is lovely but was a tender port (my wife cannot get off at those as she is disabled) and it took a long time to get off the ship, even though I was booked on a tour. I did a trip to Herculaneum and unfortunately it rained all the time we were there. Our port call to Propriano (Corsica) was cancelled due to rough seas and replaced with Ajaccio. Although we hadn't been to the former but had been to the latter (12 years ago) we were delighted with this change, as my wife would have been stuck on the ship in Propriano but could get off in Ajaccio, which is lovely. Bad Points - As I have said, we were irritated with the fact that our accessible balcony cabin hadn't received the new large TV's that all other balcony cabins (and above) had benefited from in the refit and even more irritated that our complaint about this was ignored, even when I chased them several times. Whilst most people liked Malta, we were underwhelmed. We did a tour around the island and thought that the place looked terribly neglected. Yes it got savaged in the 2nd World War, but we are 70 years on from that now and were struck by the fact that all the private houses were in a poor state of repair (we were told afterwards it's due to their tax structure - you save money if you don't complete it fully!), all the roadsides have stone walls that are either badly built, incomplete or falling down and their 'countryside' looks more like wasteland. Valletta itself was much better, but it took us 45 minutes from being dropped off from the tour coach until we got back on the ship for lunch due to the very poor cruise terminal (just two security lines and massive queues) so we aborted our plan to see more of Valletta in the afternoon as we just couldn't face that queue to get back on again. Messina was the other disappointment. We should have taken a tour here but stayed in the town. This was a mistake. Very little to see and a nightmare to get around with a wheelchair. We were also plagued there by taxi drivers and dotto trian ticket touts, as well as street hawkers. The guest lecturers for the first half of the cruise were of no interest to us whatsoever (one was about football and the other Anne Frank which then morphed into talks on food. Very odd.) Actor Robert Daws was on board for the second half but was put in the Playhouse or Carmen's which had inadequate capacity for the numbers wanting to attend. He was very good but we only managed to see one of his three talks (which had been reduced from four) and the promised repeats of the 2nd and 3rd talks on the cabin TV never materialised. Other things - We had high drama in Civitavecchia . Just after the morning tours left the ship was blown very slightly off the berth by 70 knot winds. For the rest of the day we had to be pinned against the berth by three large tugs and nobody was allowed on or off the ship for 5 hours. As a result we didn't get to look around the town, but spent the day watching the most spectacular seas crashing over the breakwater and damaging a parked car, all from the comfort of the ship, whilst 500 passengers had to wait in the cruise terminal for hours until it was deemed safe to let them back on. The Captain (I won't name him) was a marmite character. We liked him and found his regular announcements interesting and amusing. A number of other passengers found him to be extremely irritating. There was a very good classical pianist and we enjoyed the Take That style group (Beautiful World) .The Runaround Kids were good, even if their humour is a bit infantile. The Adele tribute had a great voice but completely ruined her act when she spoke between songs. I think she was trying to impersonate Adele but it failed miserably. It was excruciating. Apart from the shows that I have mentioned that we liked, the rest of the 'entertainment' was the usual P&O 1970's style TV variety show / holiday camp fodder (which was great in the 1970's but woefully outdated now). Not for us I'm afraid. Fellow passengers were almost all lovely. I'd say that the average age of passengers was early 70's (as is usual on Aurora). Overall an enjoyable cruise with some real high points and a few niggles, but that's a balanced review of the cruise as we found it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately the weather conditions in both Narvik and Alta (the most likely opportunities to see them we were told) did not oblige. Also our Fjord trip to see Pulpit Rock in Stavanger was also ... Read More
We wanted to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately the weather conditions in both Narvik and Alta (the most likely opportunities to see them we were told) did not oblige. Also our Fjord trip to see Pulpit Rock in Stavanger was also spoilt by low cloud and rain.You might think our holiday was ruined but in spite of the above disappointments we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The views of snow covered mountains and the novelty of snow on deck - someone had even built a snowman - was wonderful. The last minute cancellation of the stop at Bergen was disappointment as we very much like Bergen. The replacement Haagesund stop was pleasant but not really a substitute for Bergen.The entertainment on board was pretty good - particularly the stage music and dance by the resident "Headliners Theatre Company". The Norwegian people at our various ports of call were so friendly. Norway is a fabulous and spectacular country whatever the weather. We have cruised on Aurora twice before albeit to warmer climes and she is as good as ever with cheerful staff in all departments. We look forward to sailing with her again at some time in the future and it will be interesting to see her after he current refit and conversion to Adults only. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a cruise In Search of the Northern Lights, and sadly we didn't find them! Too much cloud cover. We didn't mind thought as the ship was lovely and we saw parts of Norway including Alta at the very top. Some people were ... Read More
This was a cruise In Search of the Northern Lights, and sadly we didn't find them! Too much cloud cover. We didn't mind thought as the ship was lovely and we saw parts of Norway including Alta at the very top. Some people were very disappointed as the tours were terribly expensive (£135pp for the northern lights tour and £210pp for huskies). We decided to stay on the ship and watch out from there. The itinerary was changed at the last minute, so the ship docked at Haugesund instead of Bergen, which was another disappointment. Haugesund is pretty enough but there is not a lot there. The next stop was Narvik. This is only the second time a P&O ship has docked there, and you can see why! If you are going to this port on a cruise, book an excursion, as there is very little in the town at all. On no account do what we did and walk in from the ship. We were told 40 mins but it was an hour and a half over snow and ice. Also do not be tempted to do the Ofoten railway independently. The ship's tour lays on a bus to bring you back. Without this you would be waiting 4 hours for the train to return. Alta our most northerly stop is of more interest. A visit to the Ice Hotel is well worth doing. Last stop was Stavanger which is a very pretty town to explore. The cathedral is closed for renovations and will be so for a couple more years. Aurora is a lovely ship. Our cabin was F190 which was fine. Midships and low down so it was quiet and did not move about too much. We did have a terrific storm after leaving Alta, and people high up and at the front had a bad night of it. Entertainment was mostly first class. There was a wonderful classical pianist called Philip Smith and a very talented duo of violinists called Elektra. The speaker, Jane Davey, was terrific. She is half Norwegian and gave really entertaining talks on life in Norway. There is certainly no lack of things to do on the ship. We were spoiled for choice. Disembarkation was speedy and trouble free. So a great cruise overall, but I wish the ports of call had been Bergen, Tromso, Alta and Stavanger. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We travelled on this trip for 2 celebrations.. Wow what a trip we both had.. We got to Southampton early 10am... Thinking we could get to Mayflower dock for 3Pm.. Had a text saying that we could start boarding now.. A great ... Read More
We travelled on this trip for 2 celebrations.. Wow what a trip we both had.. We got to Southampton early 10am... Thinking we could get to Mayflower dock for 3Pm.. Had a text saying that we could start boarding now.. A great friendly reception we got and also a very quick Check in.. On this fine older lady for 1.30pm.. Check in was smoothly- So a quick drop of our Hand Luggage into our Inside Cabin on 11th Floor... It was fine for what we needed.. Quick shower and change.. But the bed comfort was fantastic and also the cleaning of the cabin was fantastic. Had a walk on the Lido Deck.. Drinks ordered and background Music and we are ready to enjoy our trip of a lifetime (again).. Sail away party was a bit of a letdown.. So we got ready for dinner and the night to start.. Medina Restraunt (freedom Dining) Great food and better service- We always got a table for 2 within 25min arrival - So a quick drink in Andersons most nights.. The other restraunts we used were fab except Sindu- Boring and very under welming in taste and quality.. Beach house and the Glass house were just fantastic- Laid back great service and the food was Amazing.. Well worth the extra payments for this.. The Entertainment was great in all of the shows and also the Talk in... The ships shows were fantasic and very new.The onboard team were young ,Vibret and always ready for a laugh.. On board bands were fun and also great with the level of songs they all had. The trip was so special of course of all the fantasic views and the ports.. What made it for us.. The staff from the water waiters to the bar servers to the cleaners to the FB Manager... They really made it all so amazing.. Aurora i will defo be meeting you again.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
The Northern Lights ,overall the cruise was very good the shows fabulous,the dining room staff were really good we were on freedom dining but had the same table nearly every evening no 53 or 52. I found the ship rather tired, but realise ... Read More
The Northern Lights ,overall the cruise was very good the shows fabulous,the dining room staff were really good we were on freedom dining but had the same table nearly every evening no 53 or 52. I found the ship rather tired, but realise she was going in for a refit. The one thing which I am really annoyed about is,I decided to buy a DVD of our trip and to my astonishment it was only 4 mins 11 seconds long .a total waste of £5. I will be telling everyone not to buy this so called memory of a cruise, I am going on Ventura on my birthday 1st December 2019,then the maiden voyage on Iona, you can be sure I will make my feelings clear about buying a DVD. The staff all over the ship were very friendly and ready to please, can I also say our bathroom was so cold my toothbrush was frozen solid every morning. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
My wife and I decided to get away for New Year and with the help of our favourite travel agent chose this 5 day Southampton to Amsterdam cruise. Embarkation was straightforward and we were in our cabin 10 minutes before our official ... Read More
My wife and I decided to get away for New Year and with the help of our favourite travel agent chose this 5 day Southampton to Amsterdam cruise. Embarkation was straightforward and we were in our cabin 10 minutes before our official boarding time cases followed us in! We were in an outside cabin on the lowest level F113 with a window. I was expecting a smaller room so was pleasantly surprised. We chose Freedom Dining,which meant we could go to dinner as and when. The restaurant food was of a high standard and New Year's Eve overall was probably one of the best we have enjoyed (5 courses). After dinner we went in to the Curzon Theatre for the very impressive Headliners show of recent West End musicals. We also saw them performing Queen's greatest hits in Carmen (another concert venue) on our last night, superb. We went to the top deck from about 11 30 to view all the firework displays through the Amsterdam suburbs, followed by the official Amsterdam display which was less than 200 yards from Aurora. My wife loves fireworks so it made her evening complete. Returning to Southampton for the 3rd Jan we had a sea day on the 2nd very rough force 6/7 but although enjoyable I had to hang on to the rails. Disembarkation again was straightforward. All in all good trip, easy going. The staff were friendly , and Dominic, our steward and the waiting and reception staff were very attentive. We booked one trip through the ship, the scenic evening cruise through the canals which included wine (unlimited) plus a variety of soft drinks and dutch cheeses with nuts and savoury biscuits. Very enjoyable as the guide gave us some history and we saw the lovely homes with their Christmas Trees too. I mentioned Headliners but we also saw a really good band called Ukebox. Five young men from Liverpool dressed in suits 4 playing the ukulele and one the banjo, Part of their act was a medley of Beatles songs. Most entertaining. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
we chose from Ex uk cruises.for xmas. Not too many to choose from. But PO as usual good service and intinerary and value for money, No point in our opinion having a balcony at this time of year, plus a cabin lower down is a good place ... Read More
we chose from Ex uk cruises.for xmas. Not too many to choose from. But PO as usual good service and intinerary and value for money, No point in our opinion having a balcony at this time of year, plus a cabin lower down is a good place to be in event of bad weather. Cabin a little tired however was clean and comfortable, Unusually for us we enjoyed cabin service for most breakfasts and the service and food was excellent. One week before our cruise my wife had an accident and this meant she had some mobility problems. PO were aware of this and went that extra bit to ensure we enjoyed our holiday. The food on board was as usual for us, to our taste. No need to try the speciality restaurants. for us. Crew in all departments gave good service. Always a bonus not having to fly. Airports seem to get busier and more congested each time we fly ! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Booked this as a last minute, inexpensive cruise (on a saver fare) to get away for Christmas from Southampton because husband refused to fly! Better than I expected. Ship in need of a little tlc but well decorated for a Christmas very ... Read More
Booked this as a last minute, inexpensive cruise (on a saver fare) to get away for Christmas from Southampton because husband refused to fly! Better than I expected. Ship in need of a little tlc but well decorated for a Christmas very geared to families (of which there were many with small children). Staff generally polite and attentive and helpful as well as pleasant and friendly. As saver fare passengers were allocated dining, late, which we couldn't change but worked out well with 4 excellent dinner companions. However would have been good if the table designed for 8 could have been reduced in size to take the 6 of us - it had to be known we were never going to be 8 - would have been much more comfortable. Food was on the whole very good although on occasion portions were a tad on the small size (one evening my monkfish dish had only 2 x 1inch diameter medallions of monkfish! Yes, I know I could have asked for more. Service in both the Alexandria and Medina dining rooms was excellent. Food in the latter was better than in the buffet but often not hot, fried food was terrible and I think much of the food was pre-prepared rather than freshly cooked but a good choice of dishes otherwise and a pleasant experience. Personally cannot recommend the Horizon (and I prefer a buffet). I found it to be an unwelcoming open space akin to an old-fashioned motorway café! Didn't find the food looked very appealing and seemed heavily pork based. Found that there were many dishes on the other menus which included pork (which I do not eat) but where it was not expected or mentioned. One real complaint - I did feel that Chef was rather heavy-handed with the salt, especially in the soups. Perhaps they were packet soups? One lunch time in the Medina nearly all the dishes contained pork in one form or another. The Glass House taster dinner was a superb evening, although we did not return there to pay additionally food food, nor did we go to the Beach House or Sindhu where there is an extra fee. The cabin had an excellent amount of storage, plenty of drawers and cupboards which was great. Being picky, the coat hangers on those hooks intended to deter theft are ridiculous and difficult to remove to hang things back in the rear of the cupboard. Please get rid of them. Use ordinary coat hangers and charge if they are removed as is the case with the robes which were sadly lacking in our balcony cabin. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. For the former, we arrived at the time indicated and started embarkation almost immediately although there was longer queue than expected going through security - however it was an opportunity to chat with other in the queue. The shows I was able to attend (was unfortunately unwell a couple of days so not up to late nights) were on the whole excellent with only one performer I did not like and one who was so-so. The Headliners team were excellent as a group and their shows were some of the best I have seen on 25+ cruises. There were plenty of activities in which too take part and husband was delighted with the number of football matches he was able to watch in the Champions Lounge leaving me to read in peace one of the many other comfortable lounges. Having visited the stops previously we were happy to wander around on our own on the whole but the one excursion we went on was very well organised and although could have been a little longer, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Our table mates were very impressed with their excursion to Ypres. One thing I would like to say is that at £7 per person per day, I thought the gratuities were reasonable as were the prices for drinks on which no further gratuity was added, as is the case with many other cruise lines. This was our second cruise with P&O and we will very likely go with them again (perhaps somewhere warmer next time!). Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Just back from the Christmas Market cruise to the Baltics, let's start with the positives. The crew were absolutely fantastic, polite, efficient and humble in every area of the ship. Our cabin steward was exceptional and the ... Read More
Just back from the Christmas Market cruise to the Baltics, let's start with the positives. The crew were absolutely fantastic, polite, efficient and humble in every area of the ship. Our cabin steward was exceptional and the waiting staff, especially in the bars were great. The food was very good in the Alexandria restaurant and there was plenty of choice in the buffet, if not always to the highest standard. There was also a good mix of passengers on board, from young families to the elderly. Most people seemed to be having a good time and overall, we had a great holiday. Now for the negatives, unfortunately there are quite a few... The ship is old, so has its issues relating to this and certainly lacks a lot of things that are standard on the newer ships. Stability is poor, with excessive movement even in calm seas. Ironically, it seemed to cope better in the force 9 winds we had on the way home than the calm waters on the way out. Our cabin creaked like an old pirate ship during the night. They seem to have some sort of sewer problems as the bathrooms stink like a public convenience, not just ours, others also complained to be told there was nothing that could be done. The sound insulation between cabins is non existent. You can hear every word of your neighbours talking in normal voices and listen to their TVs. The TVs are pointless and the entertainment was adequate at best but nowhere near the standard of what we saw on Britannia in May. In summary, we liked some aspects of Aurora but prefer the modern comforts of the newer ships. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise as a nice break before catering for a busy family Christmas. It is a while since we have been with P&O our last cruise on Aurora was to the fjords and lofoton island about 3 years ago which we loved. We have ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a nice break before catering for a busy family Christmas. It is a while since we have been with P&O our last cruise on Aurora was to the fjords and lofoton island about 3 years ago which we loved. We have recently travelled several times with Princess HAL and celebrity. I know Aurora is due for another refit next year but we found our cabin A205 a mid ships balcony to be clean and comfortable. The only sign of wear was the bathroom sink. The public areas and carpets were kept clean and appeared to be in reasonable condition, and the ship was nicely decorated for Christmas. We have been on Aurora several times but always in the summer and the ship did seem smaller when we were we were unable to use the outside spaces. A bonus for the few people with young children on board was the covers pool which enabled them to swim. The food was reasonably good. The meat dishes were not up to the quality on Princess or Celebrity and were generally cheaper cuts. The portions were also smaller which suited us. We booked a select fare and so were on freedom dining as we requested, however we had to wait around 45 mins a night for a table for 2 which was a bit frustrating, but we had a pager and went for a drink whilst waiting. We ate twice in Sindu where we had excellent food and service and once in the Glass house where we had a good meal with a beautifully presented steak with prawns. Wine and drinks are reasonable price and much cheaper then other cruise line, and there is no 15 or 20 percent service charge on drinks with P&O, I fact we get an 8 percent discount on our whole bill due to our past cruises with them. We have seen all the shows before with different groups of headliners some good some really not good so we didn’t bother with them. After other passengers comments on the comedian we gave that a miss too. We visited Hamburg where we took the shuttle bus to the markets in the city then we booked an evening excursion to the markets at nightwhich included a tour of the city with an entertaining Commentary from our guide especially when driving through the red light district. We finished with a visit to a beer Keller. Next was Copenhagen where we have been before, having visited Tivoli Garrdens in the day and evening we decided to take the shuttle bus and walk to the waterfront. We found Christmas market stalls all along the front, from there we walked back into town and went into a store for coffee and a warm up. Oslo was next and although freezing cold, but we were well prepared, it had a beautiful Christmas market with fantastic lighting and an ice rink in the centre. The city was very clean and very expensive with lots of designer shops. Again we went in a store for coffee and a warm up. The final port was Amsterdam, which was much warmer but for us a real dissapointment. We went on a ships tour which included a city walk followed by free time and a canal trip. The walk guide was not very good and the city was very dirty with blue rubbish bags piled up around all the bins. We thought there must be a strike on but apparently when I asked the guide it is due to people having no space to store their rubbish so they just put it out in the street every day. We went into a cafe for coffee and cake as we couldn’t find a store, and when we asked to use the facilities we were told it was for staff only. On meeting up With the others before the canal trip we found others had the same experience in other cafes. We were supposed to be in Amsterdam for nearly 2 days but the Captain decided to leave early morning on the second day due to weather warning as he has to get from the canals back to the North Sea. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We have just returned from a 24 night round trip cruise from Southampton to the USA and Canada which, although it was our 16th P&O cruise and our 5th on Aurora, was the longest cruise we have ever done. Overall, it was a very enjoyable ... Read More
We have just returned from a 24 night round trip cruise from Southampton to the USA and Canada which, although it was our 16th P&O cruise and our 5th on Aurora, was the longest cruise we have ever done. Overall, it was a very enjoyable cruise, but rather than review each of the 24 days, I have summarised the good points and not so good points, from our perspective. GOOD POINTS Good and varied itinerary, with New York, Quebec and our tour to Kennebunkport being the highlights. Aurora is a lovely traditional cruise ship, which attracts a passenger profile that suits us. Average passenger age on this cruise was 73. Approaching New York from the sea is a ‘must do’ experience that you will never forget. Berthing in the Manhattan Cruise terminal, with all the main sights within easy walking distance, was superb and ‘one up’ on Cunard, whose QM2 was berthed over in Brooklyn. The main dining room food was almost always a very good standard. Service and food in the Glasshouse was excellent and it was always quiet in there, which suits us. Although the Sindhu on Aurora is the only one in the P&O fleet that we don’t like - and our one evening meal there was underwhelming - we did enjoy the Tiffin Lunch there. The staff never smile though and don’t seem to enjoy their work - the complete opposite to the Glasshouse team. Port presenter Sam was first class. Exemplary knowledge and detail, all delivered from memory. Jeffrey Holland’s one man play about Laurel and Hardy was the best performance we have seen on any P&O cruise and a real step up from the holiday camp style entertainment that usually prevails. Quite ironic, given that he is best know for being in Hi-di-Hi. Having ORCA whale and dolphin watches and talks was a very welcome addition to the cruise. We also managed to see Sei Whales, Beluga Whales, Atlantic White Sided Dolphins and porpoises at sea, as well as a Bald Eagle and Chipmunk ashore. ‘String & Tonic’, Gervase Phinn, Jeffery Holland, James Pearce and Andrew Killian were all excellent guest lecturers or artists. NOT SO GOOD POINTS Twelve sea days in mostly force 8 to 10 weather is tiresome, and we wouldn’t do another transatlantic by sea unless there were stops both ways. We have discovered that 24 nights is too long a cruise for us, especially with lots of sea days which become repetitive. Our optimum cruise length is now minimum one and maximum three weeks. At least we now know that we would never want to do a World Cruise! A number of passengers came on the ship with coughs and colds and this spread quite extensively. By the end of the cruise, it was almost impossible not to end up sitting near someone who was either coughing, blowing their nose or both. We would have loved the interactive HD TV’s of Britannia, with on demand movies, to help while away the sea days. The old fashioned TV’s on Aurora are rubbish in comparison. Service standards in the Medina Restaurant had slipped from previous cruises on Aurora. Service was too quick at times, with one course immediately following the next with no break in-between. Although you are allowed to enter the Freedom Dining restaurant as late as 9.30pm, they start dimming the lights briefly just at around 10pm to try to hurry guests up, which was unacceptable. Missing a port is always a great shame and we missed Newport Rhode Island. Sound insulation between cabins is very poor. We were disturbed by the people above us pacing up and down in a very heavy footed manner at all hours, which sounded like thunder from below thanks to the metal ceiling. Captain Pembridge insists on doing all 5 of the return transatlantic clock changes at night, which went down badly with passengers, many of whom were used to them being done at lunchtime. The crew that we asked prefer the time changes at lunchtime as well. There should be a P&O policy on this and it shouldn’t be at the whim of individual Captains. Some guest lecturers were scheduled to give talks over lunchtime, which was poor planning. Terry Brown, former police officer, was very engaging but his talks on the outward journey lacked substance, were rambling, repetitive and never really got to the point. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We loved the itinerary therefore we decided to book this 24 day cruise. The embarkation was quite muddled on arrival to the ship however we were allowed in our cabins quite early. Our mini suite was very spacious but also very tired and ... Read More
We loved the itinerary therefore we decided to book this 24 day cruise. The embarkation was quite muddled on arrival to the ship however we were allowed in our cabins quite early. Our mini suite was very spacious but also very tired and the bathroom had paint peeling from the twin hand basins and the bath ( which we never used). Our steward was Savior who was so professional and also very caring and helpful. We have cruised many times before but this was our first time on Aurora. We didn't like the layout because for example, if there was no table available in the Medina restaurant and you were given a charger, you then had to take a lift up one floor and order a drink in a very full Anderson's bar. By the time our aperitifs were served our chargers inevitably bleeped. Very frustrating! Due to the long journey and inclement weather we relied on the ship's entertainment to keep us amused. We enjoyed the many talks particularly the Orka ladies, Terry Brown and Gervais Phinn. There was lots of classes and activities to suit all. The Medina restaurant was always crowded, however we did enjoy the food more so on this cruise. The Glass House and Beach House were delightful however Sindhu was quite dull with no atmosphere. The staff can be a little rude by interrupting table conversation to describe the dish being presented to us. They should be more polite! But joy of all joys, sailing into New York for the first time was amazing. We docked by 45th Street and from our balcony we were right beside an aviation science museum which was an out of service aircraft carrier. Right in front of us in all it's glory was Concorde. New York was busy, as Trump was in town, so some roads were closed for security which impacted on our 'Highlights of New York' excursion. The other destinations were very enjoyable, particularly Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax & Quebec. We enjoyed a Lobster bake in Bar Harbour, however it was 11.20am in the morning following our drive around a national park. The Cabot Trail in Halifax was delightful with lovely scenery and a charming town called Badecker to meander round and shop for an hour. We also enjoyed the Sugar Shack in Quebec. It was a lovely drive through fantastic fall scenery which ended up in a clearing on a maple syrup farm. The owner was charming and also spoke good English. We were fed with apple pie and maple syrup and then we moved into another shack for a talk on the history of farming Maple juice. They also had a small shop in this building which was much more reasonable than Quebec. All in all there were lots of enjoyable things about this cruise however the ship is long overdue for a refit. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We have just got back from the Baltic on Aurora and had a fantastic cruise. This was my fifth time on Aurora, and she still is my favourite ship, just the right size with prefect deck space/ public rooms/ passenger numbers/ ratios. She ... Read More
We have just got back from the Baltic on Aurora and had a fantastic cruise. This was my fifth time on Aurora, and she still is my favourite ship, just the right size with prefect deck space/ public rooms/ passenger numbers/ ratios. She is beautiful to look at from outside as well with her sharp bow and tiered stern, and is certainly one of the best sea going vessels I have sailed on. All was as expected with a great start at Southampton, being on the Lido deck we were boarded early and by 13:15 we were seated on the rear deck in the sun eating our first excellent meal (Of many) and sipping the first cocktail (Of many) bags unpacked and settled into L108 a port side balcony cabin perfectly situated for the adults only Riviera pool, the Library, as my wife reads a book a day, and the crows nest, which is our favourite pre dinner/ post show venue. We booked second sitting set dining, as this fits in perfectly with our battle plans for the days, breakfast, all day in port, back on leisurely shower and pre Carmens show drinks in Charlie's or the crows nest, then catch the 19:30 show. Dinner at 20:30 with a large table of 8/10 which we have found gives the best chance of having at least 2 couples that you really get on with, plus the real benefit that you have the same waiter/asst waiter /wine steward for the whole cruise, and you really get to know them and they you, resulting in what I have found to be the best service ever. We have tried freedom dining on many ships including Brittania, and have always found the service to lack that certain something that you get once this relationship has formed. Then post dinner up to the Curzon for the late sitting show, and then back to the crows nest for a nightcap. The cruise itself took in Copenhagen, Helsinki, St Petersburg with an overnight and second day, Tallinn, Riga, Kiel and lastly Skagen, before hitting the north sea back to Blighty. On a previous Baltic cruise I had been to the first three ports, and they all lived up to my memories as being real Baltic gems. Copenhagen is lovely, and I would really recommend getting a river and canal cruise, which is available very frequently from a pickup point a few hundred yards from where the ship docks. This took us about a hour and a half, and we saw a different aspect of the city from the canals, very enjoyable. Helsinki is another lovely city, with beautiful churches, and a great town centre for the shopaholics, again we picked up a cruise from the harbour which took us round many of the small islands that make up Helsinki, and was again very enjoyable. St Petersburg is a star, a very big sprawling star, with the highlight being around the winter palace, the bridges and the magnificent river. Because of the cost of Independently obtained Visas we opted for a full day excursion of the city and the main palace on day one, and a river cruise and stop of at the Czars burial island, and then lastly the spectacular Church of the bleeding heart, at the scene of the dramatic assassination. This church is amazing and a must see if you get the chance. We then went to Tallinn, which was my favourite port of call, and a place we will no doubt go back to for a long weekend at some point. Just like a Disney castle on every turn it is a fabulous characterful wonder, here we just did our own thing and walked around the town at our own pace (Note for diary, bring larger camera memory card) Then on to Riga which was a smaller less Castle like old city, but still very beautiful, and again we had a pleasant day walking around admiring the sights. Then after a sea day it was Kiel in North Germany, here we booked a coach and boat excursion to see some German lakes and Castles, we booked this as I wasn't sure that there would be enough to see in Kiel itself, as it was a large and busy working port. The day here was ok, but wasn't quite up there with the previous stops, with not enough time at the castles for us to go inside and browse. Then lastly after Kiel was Skagen, which was back to Denmark, and unfortunately this was the only time the weather let us down, not bad considering the latitude and time of year, and it was very windy and wet. Skagen is a lovely little fishing village, but best seen in the sun without a force 6 blowing. So ports of call were a real highlight, and I would recommend this to anyone who fancies a scenic and very interesting cruise, but my advice would be do it June/July and August, to make sure of good weather and long days. As for the other aspects of the cruise, food in the buffet was great, with plenty of choice. Our restaurant was the Alexandria, and as always the food was superb, especially on formal nights, and the service was exemplary, friendly fast and after 2 weeks very personal. We ate one night in Sindhu, which was my favourite meal of the 2 weeks, amazing flavours, if you like Indian food then it is a must. We also ate once in the beach house where we sat out on the rear deck, and enjoyed a very tasty Prawn sizzler, a great way to spend an evening with just the 2 of us for a change. Entertainment in the first week was somewhat under par for P&O but improved dramatically in week 2, and overall is still up there with the best, although it does seem to me that this is one area where P&O have trimmed the budget, probably not the best idea!! So to sum up a great cruise on a fantastic ship, and my advice is if you travel on a large ships like Oasis, as we do for our 15 year old son, then Aurora seems like a real "Liner" experience in comparison, with a classic shape, teak decks, and a real feel of being at sea, and this is what I really look for in a cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Had been on the ship previously about 8 years ago - it had been updated since then but still looking sad and tired in some of the outside areas. On a positive note, the food has to be some of the best I have ever had on a cruise. The ... Read More
Had been on the ship previously about 8 years ago - it had been updated since then but still looking sad and tired in some of the outside areas. On a positive note, the food has to be some of the best I have ever had on a cruise. The Horizon restaurant deserves special mention - the choice and quality was incredible, and the staff some of the most helpful I have ever experienced. Medina Restaurant staff not so friendly, no eye contact, no conversation other than matters relating to the menu; on occasion service very slow, one night over two hours for dinner..... Entertainment: Headliners superb shows, have some very talented staff; however some of the other shows/entertainment very poor during the evening. Daytime - When I go on holiday to the sun, I do not want to go inside for the entertainment during the day - okay some people might like the respite from the sun, but hardly anything outside during the day around the pool, might get the odd 30mins of music, but other than that, zilch !!! Outside cabin and steward ok - but very small - if it had to house 4 people you wouldn't be able to move!!! I know that the ship is going to adults only next year, and all the children paraphenalia will be removed, maybe that will improve the back terrace and maybe the entertainment will improve ...... but I won't hold my breath. P&O really need to up their game, and not be stuck with the same entertainment 20 years down the line - other cruise companies can do it, why can't they? Still have a soft spot for P&O but think we will be looking elsewhere in future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Chose this cruise for the interesting ports of call and it certainly delivered on that front ! Visby and Klapeida were our favourites and of course St Petersburg continues to fascinate and amaze us. We loved all the ports and enjoyed all ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the interesting ports of call and it certainly delivered on that front ! Visby and Klapeida were our favourites and of course St Petersburg continues to fascinate and amaze us. We loved all the ports and enjoyed all our excursions except Gydnia which is a lovely place but the excursion we did was very rushed. We think the P and O excursions are actually good value, especially with loyalty discounts. The Captain Neil Turnbull was great and kept us up to date every day with weather and funny little comments. He was seen around the ship and was always very friendly. The staff at all levels were exceptional and they made up for the minor irritants we experienced. The cabin was kept spotless by Mariam and thank you for her hard work and endless cheerfulness. Now the food and entertainment this is where it all goes a bit downhill....Food on formal nights is just laughable really...I am not going to don my dressing up gear for 3rd rate so called Gala dinners, Marco Pierre White, did you really come up with that weird menu !? What has happened to yummy things like lobster ( not that dried up little morsel we get now ) and fillet steak, we ate at the supplementary restaurants on every formal night as there was nothing to tempt us on those 4 nights on the MDR menu. Main dining room breakfast is still awesome and delish. Lunch in MDR boring, boring, boring, we only went once but looked at the menu every day, no inspiration there. The other nights in MDR were passable, all the food was tasty enough ( soups always nice ) but nothing to write home about and reminded me of hotels trying to be posh in the 1970's akthough I must say the desserts were always very good. Buffet was okay the few times we used it for quick lunch but what has happened to pizza at the Lido ? We were looking forward to a slice of pizza for lunch some days and now you can only get pizza from room service ( extra charge surprise, surprise). Beach house we ate there 3 times and all meals were nice and worth the bit extra ( fajitas too spicy for me and it was not explained on menu that they were spicy hot so maybe that could be added P and O ?) Sindhu, we got a deal on second night for £11 extra per person and the service and food were pretty good. Glasshouse was a letdown on first try, we had fillet steaks and they were chewy..when we told waiter they just kind of shrugged it off...no offer of free dessert or anything to make up for it. We tried again, second time round we had the Neptunes feast...if you are hungry don't bother with this, we had literally 6 prawns, 6 scallops and a tiny crab to share ! This cost £16 extra...I don't mind a bit extra but come on P and O this was a rip off.(see picture) Entertainment...who chooses the films..are they trying to send us into a depression..this is some of what we had to choose from...Murder on Orient Express ( quite good we watched that one but the sound was pretty fuzzy) then it all went downhill...other films we did not even bother to go to, Last days of Stalin, Churchill, The last Showman, some weird film about a woman in a mental asylum, Peter Rabbit, The railway children, the one film we did want to see, Red Sparrow, was cancelled because of a technical issue !!!! ?????? As for the in cabin offering, well I know we do not go on hols to watch telly but after a long tiring day ashore we do like the option of chilling in cabin with a good film..well, nothing there to be found...they do give you a printed TV guide but unless you can work out from one word what a film is about it is not much use. Mind you it did not matter much because the postage sized TV was so hard to see anyway. Poor Poor Poor...come on P and O get into this century when she goes for a re-fit. Would be nice to be able to see our bill on TV also please. Theatre shows...and live music....dire and boring except for the comedian (Jeff someone, sorry forgot his last name but he was pretty good). Do we really need that jingoistic flag waving we will meet again show anymore ? Not very diverse is it P and O ? Sack all the choreographers and bring in some new ideas...the dancers were not bad but they had terrible material to deal with. Lots of of the shows we had seen on other ships. Quizzes were fun and well run. We were so bored in the evenings that it took the gloss off our cruise. We ended up reading in the cabin for most nights...not really worth dressing up for formal nights is it if the shows are awful and the food is under par. I am sorry if I have moaned on a lot but those niggly things get under your skin after a while and if we had not been blessed with such lovely weather the cruise would have been bad for us. We were lucky as we got to be up on deck and in the pools a lot which was a lovely bonus. Cabin was fine, not a bad size for an outside with a nice sized bathroom with a bath so that was nice. Sea was smooth all the way there and back, never even knew we were sailing the whole time ! We are booked on Aurora for next year with Mum and Dad and really really hope the re-fit will bring forth some upgrades. I would be tempted to cancel our next cruise but Mum and Dad are looking forward to the Canaries so we will try again and hope for better food and entertainment. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
The staff on board Aurora were wonderful, especially the dining staff who were polite and professional. I was particularly impressed with the Horizon buffet staff who helped the disabled/elderly choose their meals and carrying their ... Read More
The staff on board Aurora were wonderful, especially the dining staff who were polite and professional. I was particularly impressed with the Horizon buffet staff who helped the disabled/elderly choose their meals and carrying their trays to their tables etc. The entertainment team were good, especially Karl who had tons of energy and really put effort into making you enjoy your holiday. Headliners were on every other evening and their dancing was great but the girls did tend to screech the high notes! P&O brought guest bands on-board throughout the cruise and The Runaround Kids were amazing - really got the ship partying. The cabins are looking a bit tired and dated but were extremely clean and the rest of the ship was spotlessly clean. Some people opted out of paying gratuities and considering how hard the staff worked I thought this was a little unfair. All the shore excursions were well organised and P&O staff were there to guide you to the correct coach etc - it couldn't have been easier! My only criticism of the whole holiday is to do with disembarkation. Packed bags have to be on the corridor before you go to dinner on the last evening, and you need to vacate your cabin by 8am. Waiting in the room for our allocated disembarkation time was long and tedious with no drinks or newspapers to keep people occupied. Felt like P&O were more interested in getting the ship ready for the new arrivals. Overall a great holiday though!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Leaving and returning to Southampton with some new Islands in the itinerary were the main reason we chose Aurora R803. We know P&O well but not this ship, we were pleasantly surprised. Everything is close to hand with a good choice of ... Read More
Leaving and returning to Southampton with some new Islands in the itinerary were the main reason we chose Aurora R803. We know P&O well but not this ship, we were pleasantly surprised. Everything is close to hand with a good choice of bars and restaurants. The crew were friendly and efficient and the food in all restaurants excellent be it Buffet , MDR or the three speciality ( extra cover charges ) restaurants, Sindhu, Glasshouse and Beachouse. Drinks were reasonably priced , typically the same as a UK South East pub might charge. The ship was clean but tired in some areas. Our cabin B142 a deluxe balcony on deck 10 was well appointed with lots of storage space but rather let down by a shabby carpet. In rough weather we also noticed a “Woodpecker” took up residence in the headboard but this could not be tracked down on inspections. A great location though, two decks up to Lido and buffet and three decks down to promenade and shops etc. The daytime and evening entertainment was poor compared to what we have experienced many times before on P&O. Three new Islands for us, Tobago ( beach day at Pigeon Point, excellent ) Guadeloupe ( closed for Easter Sunday ) and Martinique ( took a ferry to Ainse Maitan beach, very nice ) The other Islands, St Kitts, Antigua and Barbados we’ve visited many times so more beach time. We stopped at Madeira on the outbound and Ponta Delgada ( Azores) on the way back. The weather was generally good apart from the Azores to Southampton when we encountered Force 10 gusting to Force 12 and 7 to 8 m swells. The passengers were the usual mix of P&O , generally friendly, a few moaners, lots of walking sticks and mobility scooters but OK in the main. Embarkation and Disembarkation were excellent, we were off by 08.45am and home to West Kent by 11.30am. Overall an enjoyable cruise. Well done the crew of Aurora. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
25 days Southampton to Caribbean and back Embarkation worked well came from home on Eavesway Travel on the ship inside 1/2 hour of arriving. Aurora is one of the older style ships and suits us looking a little worn here and there but ... Read More
25 days Southampton to Caribbean and back Embarkation worked well came from home on Eavesway Travel on the ship inside 1/2 hour of arriving. Aurora is one of the older style ships and suits us looking a little worn here and there but nothing major and doesn't detract from her. Cabin C190 balcony plenty big enough for the 2 of us clean and bright, plenty of closet/drawer space. Be aware the beds are lower than normally found, only 7" of clearance. Bath and shower in this cabin. I couldn't stretch out in the bath 6 ft tall but was adequate, plenty of shelving behind the mirror. Balcony is enclosed so does stop some of the breeze when travelling, 2 reclining chairs footstool and table personally we could have done without the footstool to give a little more space.The TV is not really up to scratch little choice of channels though the films were ok. The bridge computer isn't that good on the TV and you can't get a balance on the screen not hooked up, but I believe this is to be updated. We had club dining and had excellent service all week, food was good and varied enough for us no need to have the same meal twice if you didn't wish. Possibly overall the best food we have had on P&O. Buffet was adequate never had to scrum for a table and always a good choice of food available usually hottish. Grab and go is useful if you want to eat at your sunbed or cabin though is repetitive, didn't try the burgers or hotdogs as I don't like them from under a heated counter always seem to dry. pasta was ok and chips were good. didn't use select dining as we were happy with the MDR and the people we dined with. All the entertainers were very good Rouge Duo and William Caulfield were exceptional. Willie Thorne gave a good talk as did Ron Gatepain on various sites around the world. Sunbeds were never a problem always seemed to find somewhere to lay my head. Gym was ok never too crowded and enough equipment for most. Service in general was very good in all the bars very little waiting and adequate seating. Reception was very good never a queue always a good sign and dealt with my queries/requests quickly. Ports were all good though Guadeloupe was closed for Easter bad timing or what one of the 3 ports we hadn't visited. We didn't use any of the tours never do always go it alone. All in a great cruise, we have already booked Oceana for next year and wouldn't hesitate to go on Aurora again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We were on Aurora's Grand Voyage in 2015 when we went round South America to Australia and back. The bits we missed on that trip we enjoyed doing on this one. Captain Pembridge who joined in Rio from his usual ship Britannia is ... Read More
We were on Aurora's Grand Voyage in 2015 when we went round South America to Australia and back. The bits we missed on that trip we enjoyed doing on this one. Captain Pembridge who joined in Rio from his usual ship Britannia is obviously a guy on the top of his game. We travelled with him on Aurora back in 2009 and were impressed then. When he joined we were confident that we’d have a good cruise. The highlights included getting into the Falklands where we had a great day with the quirky locals. It was obviously important that we got in as so many passengers wanted to visit the graves of friends and family. It was rather poignant. Going round Cape Horn three times in the sunshine was an unexpected treat and the Beagle Channel was seriously undersold by P&O. It was absolutely breath-taking. The scenery was a cross between the Norwegian fjords and Alaska – with huge snow blown mountains as a backdrop. Truly magnificent. We had first class commentators and wild life experts throughout the voyage. Maybe the only thing missing was a map of the complicated route we sailed through Patagonia. For us personally the best experience was our overland to Machu Picchu. It was four hard days but, as it was 1st class throughout it was absolutely memorable. The Monasteria hotel in Cusco was superb, as was the IncaRail dining train, and the guides were very good indeed. Our ‘bus’ had a reunion in the Beach House back aboard some weeks later and we were all still full of the tour. It’s too easy to get blasé about cruising but everywhere we went was bang on. It’s the first cruise we’ve been on where we not only got into all the ports but actually had an extra one – well, a second day in Martinique. That said 6 ports in 7 days on the trot in the Caribbean was a bit busy. However, if we had just done a couple and rushed home we’d have arrived smack in the middle of the bad weather in the UK so it was all for the best. The extras that made the cruise feel like a mini-world cruise we much appreciated. The Half Way Round and Farewell parties were exceedingly generous in terms of refreshments and very good at getting the passengers mixing well. They worked. Our address list is a mile long – and we already knew lots of the passengers from past cruises. The Ligurian 'Afternoon Tea' event at Sunbury Plantation House on Barbados was a very pleasant surprise - mainly because there was very little tea and copious amounts of champagne! We thoroughly enjoyed it (maybe because we were near where the food and drink came from!). Again, something P&O didn't have to do but which added to our enjoyment of the cruise. The entertainment was very well balanced for us. Mac Frampton and Graffiti Classics both stood out but we enjoyed everything we went to (even The Totties!) – and we also enjoyed a good few evenings off when there was nothing on that we fancied. Jon Bartram led a good team with his own style of energetic sailaways; he even managed to involve a surprising number of British on a neighbouring Royal Caribbean ship which all added to the fun. The quizzes never stopped and the only criticism we would level is that the live music in Champions preceding the quizzes was always far too loud. Teams had to get there early to get a seat and then we had to sit silently as talk was impossible. One for P&O to look at I think. A pity, too, that the standard of the food on the second half of the cruise was unusually average. Spaghetti bolognaise with Broccoli and Rosti potatoes? I don't think so. 65 nights is hard to summarise and I am conscious we’ve missed out mentioning all the lovely bar and restaurant staff whose company we enjoyed throughout the ship. Many passengers don’t deserve such a good and committed team. That said, there was much less of the all-to-common 'P&O moaning' than we’ve experienced in the past and I’m glad to say that when one couple of passengers unjustifiably let fly at the gangway staff on one occasion, everyone in the queue told them to shut up and behave! A ray of sunshine! If, like us, you like a long, non-sectorised cruise to get away from the British winter, these cruises are both excellent value and give you a chance to see distant parts of the world. I only wish that P&O would head out East again on a no-fly cruise one winter. It seems a long time since Adonia did it in 2014 Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
This Winter break attracted us because it visited some interesting European ports and allowed us to avoid some of the pre-Christmas hassle at home. In fact, we also missed some unpleasant weather in the UK as an added bonus. We always ... Read More
This Winter break attracted us because it visited some interesting European ports and allowed us to avoid some of the pre-Christmas hassle at home. In fact, we also missed some unpleasant weather in the UK as an added bonus. We always stay overnight in Southampton before a cruise. Our embarkation time was 15.00, but we arrived before midday and were on board in time for lunch. Embarkation is very easy and the waiting area is adequate, but WIFI would be good! We had not travelled on Aurora before and we look at the itinerary rather than the ship, but we were happy enough with our home-from-home for the voyage. Aurora had been decorated for the season for this cruise, and very festive she looked! Recorded carols with breakfast (and other meals) were at least not too loud and were occasionally replaced by non-seasonal music. There was a carol-singing event in the Atrium on one sea day too. Our first port-of-call was Hamburg, so we had a sea day before arriving. It was very windy, but the ship was nearly always very steady. We enjoy going outside to watch the waves and any wildlife, but seabirds were the only representatives of that group on this trip. Hamburg itself was cold, wet and sleety. We took the free (to us) shuttle bus into the town and then used the HO-HO bus to see the main sights. We stayed onboard throughout, but the wet windows made photography tricky. Afterwards, we walked round the town for a while, but the sleet blowing in our faces soon sent us back to the ship. A second sea day was required to take us to Copenhagen. We prefer to eat at night in the Horizon dining area, and expected it to be quiet as the second formal evening was taking place, but in fact there were long queues for the hot food most of the time we were there that night. It does not help that half of the area is closed because of the Beach House in the evenings. A survey of the use of the main dining rooms, the Horizon and the Beach House dining areas would be interesting. We have complained in the past because of the frequency of spicy food in the themed night menus in the Horizon area, with only one alternative option. This seemed to have been addressed, but we would like to see a greater choice of menu here. We ate in the MDR on one occasion, but my choice of roast turkey was bland. Hygiene looks to be poor in the self-service area, with tables swiped with a used cloth, but we asked for information and were shown the buckets of disinfectant used to soak the cloths in, which was reassuring. The staff in this area were far superior to those on Oriana, so trays and plates were cleared quickly and with a smile. Copenhagen was a two-day port. One of the HO-Ho bus companies is linked to P&O and picked us up from the ship. The cost was deducted from our on-board credit, which was helpful. (We spent the rest on WIF, which could be very slow at times, but was charged for the whole cruise which meant the minutes ticking by slowly did not matter.) Once again, we enjoyed the complete circuit of the town before returning to the ship for lunch and walking out again in the afternoon. The dock is very close to The Little Mermaid and there are several small shops to visit on the dock. Oslo was next on the itinerary. It was sunny but cold, with a dusting of snow in places. The ship was only a short walk from the town, so we set off to see the Cathedral, but it had soldiers and police in attendance and we were told that the King was inside for a private service. Our travels took us up to the Royal Palace, where a group of soldiers in ceremonial dress were obviously waiting for something to happen. The small crowd was allowed to wander quite close to the Palace, where a few police men and women were on duty. We were told that they expected a car at some time, but we were walking away when motorbike outriders were seen coming up the road to the Palace. We ran back to our vantage point and watched the Royal Car pull up, with a wave from the Crown Prince. We think the King was hidden from the camera behind him. The low-key security was interesting. Inside the dock area were several shops and a very welcome urn of complimentary mulled wine, which was very sweet but hot and good with the ginger biscuits also provided. In the afternoon, we visited the Akershus Fortress which was directly opposite the ship and which provided a pleasant view from our balcony. The clear evening, as we sailed away, made a faint Aurora visible. We know what to look for, because it looked like a white cloud to the naked eye, but the camera revealed the identifying green arcs. Another windy sea day followed, as we headed for Amsterdam. The Captain suggested that docking there might be an issue, so it was not surprising that he later cancelled the port, with the compromise of arriving at Zeebrugge in the evening before the scheduled time. This allowed visits to Bruges at night, although we preferred to wait for our booked excursion the next day. This was our only booked excursion, to avoid having to get ourselves into the town. We were escorted by a guide from the coach park to a meeting place not too far from the town centre; our shorter trip allowed plenty of time to look around at leisure. Canal trips are available, but it rained intermittently and the boats were open, so we sheltered in the Christmas Market with a mulled wine instead. We had arranged to take ourselves off the ship at 07.15 in Southampton, but heavy traffic in the port delayed us until almost 8.00. A surprising number of passengers had also chosen this option and there were long queues, but we were lucky to be close to the disembarkation point and made our exit quickly. After scraping the ice from the car windows (inside as well as out in the case of the windscreen!) we were back in the Midlands in the early afternoon. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We recently took a Spain and France cruise on the Aurora. This is a clean, comfortable ship with loads on offer. While not the largest vessel we have sailed on, it was of sufficient size to travel smoothly over a fairly choppy bay of ... Read More
We recently took a Spain and France cruise on the Aurora. This is a clean, comfortable ship with loads on offer. While not the largest vessel we have sailed on, it was of sufficient size to travel smoothly over a fairly choppy bay of Biscay. We found the embarkation process smooth, and the mobility assistance and general crew attitude welcoming. We boarded a little before the cabins were fully ready, but were take to the Alexandria Restaurant where a buffet and a welcome drink were waiting for us. The cabins were soon ready, and we headed off to a small but comfortable inner on the 11th Deck. This cabin (A227) had a soft bed (configured as a double), a small settee, and loads of drawer and wardrobe space for its size. The shower was easy to access, and the TV kept good reception the entire cruise. We didn't use any specialty dining on this occasion, but did eat in the Horizon buffet, and both the Medina and Alexandria Restaurants. Service was attentive, and care was taken for special diets. We attended a really interesting talk on Nat King Cole in the theatre, and took in a couple of recent release films as well. The entertainment provision was typical for cruises, and seemed to be enjoyed by most. Service was good, and we had a very professional steward, who kept a perfect balance of attentiveness without being "in your face." Other staff were accommodating and made for a pleasant cruise. The Bay of Biscay was dreary and blustery in both sea days, and the exposed pools were unusable (for both cold, and the sloshing of their contents over their sides), but plenty of indoor activities were on offer. Each of the ports (La Coruna, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Cherburgh) were sunny, and the the first three warmer than predicted. Many passengers caught up on their pool time in these. We made two ship arranged excursions to Santiago and to Guernica. Both were informative, and made for a richer experience. The guide for Santiago was flexible and provided good "free time" recommendations. There is a "road train" tour available from the cathedral square, but it was bone jarring over cobbles. The Guernica excursion was also interesting, though the guide was a little less organised. We learned a lot about Basque culture and politics, and also had time in a small fishing port. The highlight was to see the tile reproduction of Picasso's Guernica. This was a very good cruise with great food, and good service. Minor annoyances came in the lift wait times, and the captain's daily announcements. He would introduce himself each time as the "Captaan" which is endearing the first two or three times, but wears thin. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
DAY 1 - Sunday 22nd October- Southampton Our first back to back cruise, as this followed a 2 day cruise to Zeebrugge which, due to Storm Brian, turned into a cruise to nowhere as we couldn’t dock due to high winds (see separate ... Read More
DAY 1 - Sunday 22nd October- Southampton Our first back to back cruise, as this followed a 2 day cruise to Zeebrugge which, due to Storm Brian, turned into a cruise to nowhere as we couldn’t dock due to high winds (see separate review). The morning passed quickly and just after midday we headed down to the Glass House and ordered a bottle of Peller Ice Cuvée. Lunch (at extra cost) is now available here on embarkation day and is a very civilised start to a cruise, unlike the scrum in the buffet. We also booked the paired food and wine dinner for the evening of our La Rochelle visit After a pleasant few hours, we returned to our cabin, where we stayed until the Muster Drill was over (as passengers in transit on a back to back cruise we did not have to attend), prior to securing poll position in the Crows Nest for the sailaway down the Solent for the 2nd time in 48 hours! Unfortunately, this experience was somewhat spoiled by a very large group of over 30 people who, as more and more of them arrived, became progressively louder and louder until they dominated the entire Crows Nest, ruining the cruise down the Solent for everyone else. We had feared that the preceding 2 night party cruise would be rowdy, but it was tranquil compared to this lot. We had pre-booked dinner in the Beach House and received a very warm welcome from the restaurant manager who we had chatted to two nights earlier on the previous cruise. We were given a nice table by the window (even though it was dark) and thankfully all the other diners were couples and therefore a peaceful meal of fillet steaks on lava stone was enjoyed by both of us. After dinner we went to Carmen’s where we were pleased to see Caravan perform their Eagles tribute, as we had missed this during our May cruise to the Baltic on Aurora (see separate review). Although they didn’t reproduce the vocals with the same level of accuracy as they had the Bee Gees, it was a good performance, although, in the absence of a member of the entertainment team who should have been providing the commentary between songs, the Philippine lead singer really struggled to give an English commentary and it would be better if they just played the hits back to back. Finally, we went to the Curzon Theatre for the comedian Vince Earl. P&O seem to think that anyone with a Liverpudlian accent is a natural comic. Many aren’t and he certainly wasn’t. There were one or two good one liners but the rest of his performance was dated and strained. We left half way through. Another choppy night and I was disturbed by our next door neighbour banging things around at midnight and then turning their TV on too loud. We like the cabins, but the sound insulation between them is terrible. DAY 2 - Monday 23rd October - At Sea The clocks had gone forward during the night but we weren’t entirely sure whether or not our phones had picked up the European time zone. They hadn’t, so we were an hour behind. None the less, we managed to get to the Medina restaurant 10 minutes before they close to new arrivals. After breakfast we headed over to the Curzon Theatre for the port talks on La Coruna and Bilbao. Although these are thinly veiled sales pitches for the P&O excursions, the presenter was one of the better ones that we have listened to. She had excellent presentational skills, was a clear speaker, kept up a good pace and provided useful info for those of us going ashore independently. We skipped past the Food and Beverage Showcase, as it was being held around the atrium, which is a narrow pinch point at the best of times and particularly so when it’s a sea day and the shops have stalls of tat on display. We took up an early spot in The Playhouse for a talk by Chris Walker on The Great American Songbook. Mildly interesting and a different way to spend 45 minutes, but a very easy gig for the speaker (in return for a free cruise), as it was brief biographies of artists that could be found in seconds on Wikipedia interspersed with film clips. Lunch in the Medina restaurant, where the menu was exactly the same one that we’d had two days earlier during our previous cruise. Upon leaving we realised that the evening menu (Marco Pierre White Gala Dinner) was identical as well, so we decided to book a table at Sindhu instead to see if we would prefer it this time, having been disappointed during our May cruise on Aurora, where Sindhu wasn’t anywhere near as good as the versions on Britannia or Ventura. At 2pm I attended the port talk on La Rochelle and Cherbourg, but post lunch drowsiness meant that I didn’t catch all of it! We were now in the Bay of Biscay and there’s quite a bit of movement. Back to The Playhouse at 4.15pm for a Classical Concert by Spanish guitarist Dimitris Dekavalles who was incredibly talented and put on a very enjoyable performance. This was as enjoyable as the performances by Harmony Duo during our May cruise. Having changed into our formal attire for the first of the two Black Tie evenings, we first attended the 6pm Captains welcome aboard drinks reception in Carmen’s. Dinner in Sindhu had to be at 6.30pm as it was fully booked thereafter (our consolation being a free bottle of wine for early diners up to 6.30pm), so we were a bit concerned that Captain Turnbull didn’t arrive until 6.25 (having done the Crows Nest party first). This was the first time that we had seen him since we boarded 3 days earlier, but he seemed a very personable chap. As he finished speaking we dashed up to Sindhu, arriving 10 minutes late, but we needn’t have worried as they were very welcoming and offered the complimentary bottle of wine without us asking for it. Service and food were both very good, although we still aren’t fans of the ambiance and location of Sindhu on Aurora. It’s essentially an extension of the coffee shop during the day and looks like it. It is open to the atrium and noisy as a result. There are some dividing screens, but they are lattice in design, so provide no sound screening whatsoever. As this poor design makes the restaurant feel less exclusive than the versions on other ships, payment of the £40 cover charge (for 2) doesn’t feel such good value here as it does on Britannia or Ventura. There was only one option for the evening entertainment, Jamie Allan in the Curzon Theatre, who was billed as an iMagician. The pre show videos built it up to look quite promising, but the actual show fell a bit short. There were some clever tricks, but he was a bit stilted in his performance and the numerous card tricks on a table became less convincing when you realised that his hand movements were ever so slightly out of sync with the overhead camera shots, which he continually felt the need to say were ‘live’. DAY 3 - Tuesday 24th October- La Coruna, Spain We woke up to an amazing sunrise over the Spanish coast as we reversed onto the berth at La Coruna. From our balcony we had a fabulous view of the harbour and town, including the famous glass fronted Avenida de la Marina. After breakfast in the Medina restaurant, we headed up to deck 13 in order to get our bearings for where we would be walking from the panoramic observation deck. No shuttle bus is needed here as the berth is in the town centre, so we commenced an anti clockwise circuit of the coastal path around the peninsular. First of all we walked out on to a jetty where numerous locals were fishing. This provided a good view of Aurora. The coastal walk very much reminded us of Cadiz, but without the tropical gardens alongside the promenade. After several miles we came to the Tower of Hercules lighthouse, which was originally built by the Romans who traded tin between here and Cornwall. We had coped well with the wheelchair up until this point, but I did the final climb up the ramp to the lighthouse on my own. We then continued anti-clockwise around the promenade until we were the opposite side of the headland to Aurora, at which point we headed inland and walked around the shopping centre before finishing up in the square in front of the ornate town hall, the towers of which had beautiful sparkling bronze coloured roofs. We were too late for lunch in the Medina restaurant, so headed for the Glass House where we enjoyed copious quantities of chilled water (the outside temperature had reached 21 degrees) and lunch, comprising 3 small plates each and a shared platter of Alex James cheeses. A fairly early departure was scheduled (4.30pm) and a chap pushing his wife in a wheelchair was last to board a few minutes after the deadline. We enjoyed the sailway from our balcony which was on the sunny side. In spite of Captain Turnbulls assurances to the contrary, the ship started moving around again once we had moved back out into the Bay of Biscay. After 3 full days of very noticeable movement we had enjoyed our day ashore on terra-firma. This evening was the first meal that we hadn’t enjoyed in the Meridian, as we both had Pollock with Parmesan crust, which was tasteless. DAY 4 - Wednesday 25th October- Bilbao, Spain After breakfast we boarded an accessible shuttle coach for the transfer to Bilbao. We were dropped off within a 5 minute walk of the Guggenheim Museum, which was our first and primary port of call. We received some sort of reduced admission because of the wheelchair and then spent a few hours looking around various galleries of bizarre sheets of metal, splashes on canvas and video clips, all masquerading as art. Not really our thing, but the building itself was impressive, particularly from the outside. As we left the Guggenheim, we decided to follow the promenade along the river towards the old city. This was going well until it petered out and we had to climb up a long slope before realising that we had missed the bridge that we needed to cross over the river. We picked our way back down and entered the old part of the city. It was quite quaint but a bit of a rabbit warren and we somehow managed to get completely lost and exited at completely the wrong end to where we had planned. After trying unsuccessfully to find where we were on the map, we asked some locals who were having a coffee to show us where we were. It looked a long way back to the shuttle bus and potentially hilly, so we chickened out and got a cab back to the shuttle stop and, from there, a shuttle back to the ship. Another late lunch in The Glass House which, yet again, we had virtually to ourselves. The problem with late lunches is that we then struggle with dinner, so after a long rest in our cabin, including watching the sailaway, we still had no appetite. The Headliners Theatre Group were performing for the first time this cruise (note - we are 4 days in!) but it is the show ‘Fantasy’ which we don’t particularly rate as the storyline is a bit daft. In the hope that we would have worked up an appetite by 9.30pm (last admission for Freedom dining) we decided to give the 8.30pm show a try. It was better than the last time we had seen it as the singers could at least hit the right notes this time but, as has been the case every time we have been in the theatre, passengers stroll in throughout the entire performance and then expect those who were seated on time to have their enjoyment interrupted by having to stand mid-performance to let them pass along a row. P&O staff should stop anyone entering the theatre 5 minutes after curtain up. The other thing that is extremely distracting is the tendency of some passengers to feel the need to talk throughout the performance. As the show closed we dashed over to the Meridian Restaurant still with 10 minutes to spare. Although we were happy to share, we were shown to a table for 2, where we enjoyed a good meal and friendly service. DAY 5 - Thursday 26th October - La Rochelle, France Another dry day as we arrived at our penultimate port, La Rochelle in France. Unlike La Coruna, where we had a stunning view from our balcony, this was a commercial port with dust flying around from the gravel mountain that was being moved around by diggers during our stay. As this was a smaller town, we didn’t leave the ship until around 11am. A shuttle bus was required and this wasn’t as efficient as the service we’d had in Bilbao. At each end, one or two local young ladies had been deployed to supervise the loading and dispatch of buses. As a result, this was all taking a lot longer than if passengers had been left to their own devices. After around a 15 minute wait to board, we were then surprised to find that the supposed 3 mile transfer to the centre was far more like 10 miles as we spent 20 minutes driving there, including on a motorway. Our return trip was a shorter route, but no way was it only 3 miles. La Rochelle itself was very pleasant. An old historic French harbour with imposing buildings, a pretty harbour and countless restaurants and shops, all of which looked very good. After a pleasant stroll around, we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship. To show how futile the shuttle bus boarding controls were, our bus pulled away with one more passenger on board than seats and one chap had to sit on the step throughout the journey. Unlike in Spain, the French insisted on seeing everyone’s passport (in addition to cruise cards) before letting us back on the ship. Post Brexit, you can imagine that they will be even more awkward! For the first time this cruise there seemed to be a problem getting passengers back on board. Two gangways we attached. One, to deck 7, looked very steep and was not yet in use. The remaining one, to deck 5, seemed to have a problem as there were long waits between each small group of passengers being allowed on. We eventually boarded after around 20 minutes waiting on the quayside. As we were booked to attend the 6.30pm Food and Wine Pairing Dinner at the Glass House, we decided to have a light lunch in the cabin from the Grab n’ Go area. We then relaxed in the cabin until the sail-away although, being an industrial port, there wasn’t much to see, especially as we plunged into thick fog within a few miles of shore. Aurora’s fog horn started sounding every few minutes, which reminded us of our Baltic Cruise in May where it resulted in us having severely disturbed sleep for 2 nights as we glided along flat calm seas in thick fog. On that cruise, we did not feel a single bit of movement for the entire 14 days, unlike this cruise where it has been almost constant - albeit not enough to cause either of us any issues (other than the loud creaking from the ceiling which has disturbed us a few nights). Thankfully, the fog ended as quickly as it had begun. We had enjoyed the Food and Wine pairing dinner when we had been on Aurora in May, so were pleased to see it was being held on this cruise as well (although there are apparently no wine or gin tastings on 7 day cruises). Clearly the £30 per head charge had put off most people as there were only 6 couples present, spread across 3 tables for 4 people. We finished dinner in time to catch the later of Dimitris Dekavalles’ 2nd performance in The Playhouse at 9.30pm. Another superb performance, this time of Latin American guitar music. Sadly, as has been the case throughout this entire cruise, our enjoyment of the performance was severely impacted by the constant comings and goings of passengers throughout the entire 45 minutes. These passengers, who feel that it is acceptable to walk in half way through a performance and disrupt others enjoyment as they ask people who had been seated on time to stand to let them pass, then seem to feel that it is equally acceptable to hold conversations during the show. All of this, coupled with the fact that the latecomers also leave the door to the main corridor open allowing passing noise to be heard, must be as infuriating for the artists as it is the guests who have the courtesy to arrive on time. It is a shame that the member of the entertainments team who introduces the artist doesn’t put a ‘No Entry’ sign on the door once the performance has begun. DAY 6 - Friday 27th October- At Sea It had taken a long time to get to sleep as the occupants of the adjacent cabin had been crashing and banging around and talking at full volume, in spite of a request in Horizon (which we had never seen before) asking passengers to be considerate about such things given how sound travels between cabins. It’s a shame that they don’t print this message daily as other less important things seem to be. As it was a sea day, we weren’t in quite such a rush for breakfast, but we still managed to arrive at the Meridian Restaurant with only 10 minutes to spare before the 9.30am cut off time. I have always felt that 9am (port days) and 9.30am (sea days) is too early a cut off time for breakfast in the restaurant when people are on holiday. 10am would seem a far more reasonable time to me. After breakfast, I headed to the Curzon Theatre for Chris Walkers 2nd talk, this time on Nat King Cole which was as interesting about the racial discrimination in the USA in the 1940’s and 1950’s as it was for the music. Lunch in the Meridian Restaurant was an easy decision as there was an Asian platter as a starter and lamb jalfrezi for main course. After lunch we went to The Playhouse for Demitris Dekavalles’ last performance of the cruise. Judging by the near full house, we are clearly not the only passengers who prefer our entertainment to be a few levels up from the usual holiday camp style that P&O seems to specialise in. As it was the last sea day, we tidied up a few loose ends, such as completing and returning the customer service questionnaire and returning the book that had been borrowed from the library. It was black and white night and we decided to start the evening with a gin flight in Anderson’s (strangely, they don’t offer these in the Crows Nest on Aurora as they do on Britannia). As well as some nice nibbles, we were surprised to find that the waiting staff (of whom there were many, unlike the Crows Nest) handed out plates of canapés. We shall have to remember Anderson’s as our pre-dinner bar of choice on our future Aurora cruises. Dinner was the Chaine des Rotisseurs version. We said that we would share a table but still had a wait (with a pager). Around 30 minutes later we had not been called, so I enquired at the restaurant managers desk and we were taken straight to a table. Unfortunately, the other 6 guests had already ordered and their starters were arriving as we were ordering, which I thought was pretty poor but, to be fair to the waiters, our starters were served very quickly and we were able to catch up. It was a great table and we really enjoyed the company of all 3 other couples. Half the table (including us) had ordered the lobster. The waiter appeared after some delay and said that there was a wait for lobster. When they eventually arrived, we all had very small portions. It looked as though they had run out and tried to spread what was left between all those they had left to serve. We’ve never experienced that before during 12 previous cruises with P&O. Surprisingly, we had only had one performance by the Headliners over the first 6 nights. Perhaps they were on holiday as well? Tonight it was the girl group called Sister Twist again. They were pretty good. DAY 7 - Saturday 28th October - Cherbourg We had assumed that this would be our least interesting port of call and whilst the town itself was nothing to write home about, it was a 10 minute walk from the ship (shuttle buses were provided but not necessary) which turned out to be quite an interesting walk as fishermen were selling their freshly caught fish, crab and lobsters on the quayside. Cherbourg has quite a large traditional shopping area (in which we purchased some gifts to take home) and, on the other side of the harbour, a modern shopping centre. The highlight of the visit, however, was the City of the Sea exhibition which was immediately adjacent to where we had berthed. This is housed in the old Art Deco buildings of the former grand ocean liner terminal once used by Cunard and White Star Line, including passengers boarding Titanic. After lunch back on board the ship, I went back ashore on my own and had a thoroughly enjoyable visit there, which included a full tour inside a decommissioned French nuclear submarine (La Redoubtable), an aquarium, the old Art Deco Boarding halls and a Titanic Museum. The sail-away was relatively uneventful and at 7pm we headed up to the Beach House for our final evening meal. Service was excellent as ever but the food wasn’t great this time. The chilli squid was absent of any chilli whatsoever and the chocolate fondu, which we had enjoyed on a previous cruise, had been ruined by the use of a very watery chocolate sauce that was more akin to drinking chocolate. After dinner we had some time to kill before the final show, so we went to Anderson’s for a pre-show drink. Entertainment for the final night was a new show called ‘Echoes in the Night’. Performed by the Headliners Theatre Company, in what was only their 2nd show of a 7 night cruise, this was quite a departure from their normal song and dance shows. The story line was more convincing, the acting was less forced and the dancing was excellent. Singing new songs in the style of old songs didn’t work for me, but it was refreshing to see P&O try a need format as their traditional approach to entertainment is really stuck in a time warp. DAY 8 - Sunday 29th October - Southampton Whilst it is usual when returning from mainland Europe to gain an hour back during the morning of arrival back in Southampton, as it was the end of British summer time UK clocks went back an hour overnight so we had to put our watches back 2 hours. Coupled with the fact that Cherbourg is less than 100 miles from Southampton, the Captain had time to kill overnight, so we had headed West along the English Channel towards Devon before turning back towards the Isle of Wight. It was a busy morning in the port of Southampton as Ventura, Oceana, Independence of the Seas and a Fred Olsen ship had all arrived before Aurora, even though we had by far the shortest journey! We vacated our cabin at 8am and then had the usual final morning difficulty of trying to get a lift, as able bodied passengers disembarking the ship insist on using the lifts simply because they are carrying small items of hand luggage, thus making it near impossible for wheelchair users (who are unable to use the stairs) to move between floors. After we had eventually managed to get to the Medina Restaurant, we were pleased to find that there was no queue to enter and we had our pre departure breakfast. At the end of our May cruise on Aurora we had been unimpressed with the assisted disembarkation service, as it was wildly abused by a large number of passengers who didn’t genuinely need a wheelchair to get off the ship but had requested the service in order to queue jump. In frustration, I had pushed the wheelchair off the ship myself and we requested the assistance of a porter in the luggage hall. This time we decided that, if there was a long queue, we would do the same again. When we reported to Vandebelts we realised that there were an awful lot of people in there already (most of whom had coped easily without a wheelchair all cruise, around the ship, on and off in ports and whilst ashore, but suddenly need one to get off the ship on the last morning when there is some perceived advantage), so we didn’t sit down and just followed the next assistance pusher off the ship and grabbed a porter. As we were returning to the QE2 terminal having departed on the previous cruise from Mayflower terminal, we had been concerned that our car wouldn’t be waiting for us. No need to worry as it was there in poll position at the front of the first line of cars! Finally, we have a new favourite captain in Neil Turnbull. Nobody has ever lived up to Chris Wells, whose humour and informative announcements made a huge difference to our enjoyment of the two Cruises we did with him, but Captain Turnbull has personality, humour and professionalism. Few have all three, but he does and we hope to sail with him again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Aurora Cruise R718 to Zeebrugge (Didn’t dock!). Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd October 2017. DAY 1 - Friday 20th October- Southampton Our first experience of a 2 night cruise and back-to-back cruise all in one (although I am doing ... Read More
Aurora Cruise R718 to Zeebrugge (Didn’t dock!). Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd October 2017. DAY 1 - Friday 20th October- Southampton Our first experience of a 2 night cruise and back-to-back cruise all in one (although I am doing separate reviews for each). The 2 night taster cruise to Zeebrugge didn’t start well, as CPS car drop off was, for the first time, poor. The normal arrangement for a 2 day cruise is for passengers to self park in the short stay car park, but I had called CPS many weeks before and they had linked our two cruise bookings, telling me that I could ignore the self parking option and should pull up at the terminal to be valet parked as normal. I had called CPS again the day before the cruise to confirm and was, once again, told this would be no issue and CPS staff would be available at the terminal. As we arrived at the terminal, we first had a battle with the traffic marshal’s, who seemed incapable of understanding what we had arranged (and were quite offhand) and then, as we arrived outside the Mayflower cruise terminal, there wasn’t a CPS operative in sight. After a phone call to CPS (when I was kept on hold for 10 minutes) and a further wait, two CPS staff members eventually arrived. During the time that we were waiting I noticed that the porters were just standing idle alongside the building waiting for passengers to take their cases to them. Even though I had two large cases, a carry case, a wheelchair and my wife to attend to, no effort whatsoever was made to assist. When I asked an idle porter whether or not there was porter service today, he replied “No, there never is”. Perhaps he meant on 2 day cruises, but this attitude was shocking none the less. Thankfully, as we entered the terminal building, first class service immediately took over. We reported to assisted embarkation and didn’t even have to take a seat, as we were escorted straight to check-in and were through security and on board within around 10 minutes. A record for us. Due to high winds when Aurora had docked, the air bridge wasn’t attached, so we had to board up a steep ramp from the dockside. Thankfully we were assisted by two pushers for this bit. Even though we had an embarkation time of 1430, we were in our cabin by 1310 with both cases already present. Very impressed. We were staying in C152 (Accessible Balcony) which was the same cabin that we had stayed in for our 16 night Baltic cruise in May. We instantly noticed an issue with the bed, in that one half was higher than the other! Also, the previous occupants had stupidly left the safe locked, rather than open as instructed. We could not find our steward, so unpacked and stowed the suitcases under the bed. More than an hour later, we eventually found our steward (Lawrence) who told us that the previous occupant had hired a Mobility at Sea special bed and that the normal bed had not returned as planned. He said he would sort it out and called the deck manager to unlock the safe. Next stop the Glass House, where we each traded our Peninsular Club vouchers for a freebie glass of champagne. The staff have all changed since our May cruise, but were just as friendly. We also noticed that food was available during the afternoon, even though it was a changeover day. We had already had an early lunch at Maritimo Lounge in Ocean Village, but will keep this in mind for changeover day on Sunday as we are staying on board. Then to Anderson’s for the muster drill. When we returned our life jackets to the cabin we were impressed to find that the bed had already been changed and was now level! Up to the Crows Nest for a sailway drink and observation as we pulled forward off the berth, turned (as the ship had docked facing inland) and cruised out past the Isle of Wight. Horns were honked between us and Azura as we passed her. Azura is delaying its departure by 24 hours due to former hurricane (now storm) ‘Brian’ which is due to engulf the English Channel tomorrow. As we are heading North, we are departing as normal, although we will have to come back through the remnants of it. During out time in the Crows Nest we were joined by a lovely couple who lived on The Isle of Wight, so were able to have a good chat about the island. We weren’t overly fussed about the main dining room menu, so tried to get into Sindhu, which although only had about 4 couples in it was apparently full! We ended up in the Beach House where the manager recognised us from May. We experienced exemplary service but my beef sizzling platter wasn’t as tasty as before and none of the deserts appealed, so I just had Eton Mess ice cream, which was very nice. We didn’t fancy the Headliners show (Fantasy) as we had seen it in May and didn’t rate it, so we went to Carmen’s for a Showaddywaddy tribute band called Shomaddymaddy. Pure cheese, but we actually quite enjoyed it as the music was good, even though we couldn’t see the band once the dance floor had filled with people dancing! Our final port of call was a repeat visit to the Crows Nest, as the male members of the Aurora Orchestra were performing. However, they were playing jazz, which is about the only style of music that I intensely dislike, so we retired to bed, although I first popped out to the Horizon buffet for a Horlicks nightcap. DAY 2 - Saturday 21st October- At Sea (Zeebrugge cancelled) Although we had heard a lot of people talking very loudly as they passed our cabin late at night, we both managed to sleep well, probably assisted by the combination of alcohol, Stugeron and rocking motion! At 0745 (0645 UK time) we were woken by Captain Turnbull making an announcement that, due to high winds, we were unable to dock at Zeebrugge and would have a day at sea as he had not been able to find a substitute port. Although quite understandable, it’s a shame for those who had booked the cruise specifically to go to Bruges, not least as there are no other stops and this is now a cruise to nowhere! We both commented on how professional and comprehensive his announcement was e.g “the safety of the vessel and all those aboard is, and always will be, my first priority”. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Medina restaurant where the waiter remembered us from our last cruise. During the morning, we cruised up past the Thames Estuary (passing wind farms and gas platforms) into the North Sea, prior to turning around 180 degrees off Lowestoft and heading back towards Southampton - and storm Brian! Lunch in the Medina prior to popping our head into Carmen’s for a singer , Sadie Ebbon, whose 11.15pm show had been brought forward to 2pm due to the unplanned sea day. We stayed for a few songs but weren’t really getting in to it, so we left and went to Anderson’s for a quiet read. By now there were a few more white peaks on the waves and more noticeable movement. We have noticed how busy the ship feels compared to our last cruise on Aurora, which is not helped by everyone having to stay on board and it being autumn, so few people are on the open decks. Although the P&O blurb talks about this being a ‘Discovery Cruise’, the staff on board refer to it as a ‘Party Cruise’ and you can see why. Lots of large groups including quite a few hen parties. We assume that, to keep costs down, they might be sharing 4 adults to a cabin, which also explains the relatively high passenger density. As the ship was busy, we returned to our cabin for a rest and to read. The wind was now force 9 with gusts up to force 11. The balcony divider door is rattling loudly and our patio door out to the balcony is draughty and doesn’t keep out the noise of the wind. We ordered a cream tea from the new room service menu. This took around an hour to arrive. Our steward is pleased that we are staying on board. He explained that on changeover days he works almost all day and evening and has just 90 minutes off during which time he has to rest, eat and call home. The band ‘Caravan’ are on board again, so we decided to go to the 7.30pm Bee Gee’s Tribute show which we had very much enjoyed when we were last on Aurora in May. There was no member of the entertainment team present to provide the commentary between each song and the lead singer attempted to do it but really struggled due to his strong Philippine accent. Thankfully the songs were still good. We decided to have dinner late, so hot footed from Carmen’s to the other end of the ship to the Curzon Theatre for the early (8.30pm) show of a Madness tribute band called Badness. They were the same group that had performed the Showaddywaddy tribute and we enjoyed this performance as much, especially as they didn’t just sing Madness songs but also other Ska groups such as The Specials and Bad Manners. We left before the end as it was 15 minutes before the Medina restaurant closed to new arrivals, so we hope that the show is repeated on our follow on cruise. Dinner in the Medina restaurant was the Marco Pierre White menu, as it was the Black Tie night. Other than the Beef Wellington, I didn’t particularly enjoy the other courses (other than the delicious port infused Stilton to finish) so may dip into the non-Marco choices next time that menu appears. As we had finished dinner very late and the ship was being buffeted by Storm Brian now that we were in it’s path in the English Channel, we retired to our cabin. It was difficult to get to sleep due to the fact that the ceiling of the cabin above the bathroom door was creaking and banging as the ship was being thrown around by the storm. That said, we didn’t feel sick at all and obviously slept well when we eventually got to sleep as we didn’t awake until we were alongside in Southampton. As we were doing our first back to back cruise, there are no disembarkation comments to make and anything beyond this point will feature in the next review. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This cruise was very good. My criticism would be of the Reception staff or lack of them, but they did deal with enquiries and a bathroom breakdown very well. The service was very good and staff did anticipate needs very well. The ... Read More
This cruise was very good. My criticism would be of the Reception staff or lack of them, but they did deal with enquiries and a bathroom breakdown very well. The service was very good and staff did anticipate needs very well. The entertainment was of a high standard and the food excellent with a good choice for all diets. Shore excursions were well organised and very good guides but quite expensive, worth doing your research and using the local transport if you are able to. For me I didn't think there was enough quite areas for reading and when in the spa having a treatment there was a lot of noise going on outside the spa, next door in the pool area with staff moving sun beds etc, not very relaxing. The ship was very clean and could not be faulted. I spoke to some parents and they rated the kids club very well. Read Less
Aurora Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.5
Family 5.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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