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Sail Date: December 2002
We decided to escape the cold chill of a British winter and head on a 23 night cruise from Southampton to Southampton via the Caribbean on Aurora. Our party of 3 consisted of Myself (29 yrs old) My Mum and Grandma and we had separate ... Read More
We decided to escape the cold chill of a British winter and head on a 23 night cruise from Southampton to Southampton via the Caribbean on Aurora. Our party of 3 consisted of Myself (29 yrs old) My Mum and Grandma and we had separate accommodation. I had the fortune of having a cabin with a balcony,it's such a luxury to have your own personal space outside. Now with ships having balcony cabins on the "standard" grades as well as superior grades, having a balcony is now more affordable. The other members of the party were lucky enough to have a mini suite for the 23 day cruise, which of course put my cabin to shame, but as the cruise was a Christmas present I couldn't really complain!!! Our ports of call were Madeira, Tortolla, St.Lucia, Barbados, The Azores and back into Southampton on a chilly January morning. I find it amazing that people slate the ports of call on these reviews, maybe they should do some research before booking! Embarkation was good, as our party had a mini suite, we were offered priority embarkation, however as it was the Christmas cruise, P&O had mince pies (traditional British Christmas fare) and a choir to sing carols. This made the time pass quickly, but as I said earlier we were ushered onto the ship about 15 mins after completing the check in formalities. Cabin Steward- unfortunately the name of my steward escapes me, after all this review is being written some 18 months after the cruise, however the reason I don't remember his name was that he wasn't any good. Several times he knocked and entered without waiting for a response, catching me twice with nothing on. However he did provide towels, and serviced the room well, if not in a timely fashion (sometimes not until the afternoon) Restaurant- There is a multitude of choice for dining arrangements onboard. The traditional cruise two seating policy, with two restaurants (one midship, the other aft) a 24 hour French style bistro and the normal pizza place. You could eat 24 hours 7 days if you wished. Remember to book at the Cafe Bordeaux if you want to dine there at least 24 hours in advance. Overall the food was fine, traditional British Fare combined with some Indian dishes ( P&O has traditionally used waiters and staff from India for over 150 years) and the highlight was New Year's Eve, where a feast fit for a king was served (no pun intended!!) However on other nights food was good, but not in comparison with NYE. Our waiters were keen to please, and did the utmost in their power to keep us happy, they were so good at their job that we tipped them more than the recommended amount. However some people at our table decided to eat at Cafe Bordeaux on the last night so they could avoid seeing our waiters to give them their tips. The entertainment- Shocking is a word I would use to describe this, they flew in a minor celebrity into Barbados so he could cruise back with the ship ( more to the point so he could spend Christmas in the sun in Barbados) for folks from the UK he was Roy Walker from Catchphrase. Cinema releases were out of date, and the boy band on the ship for all the children acted like children themselves, behaving badly in public places, combined with some shows that could only be described as naff and poor quality. Children- Well it was a Christmas cruise, and as much as I don't mind children, they seemed to be EVERYWHERE, in the pools, in the Jacuzzi etc, and were generally badly behaved. Underage drinking was rife (not the ships fault, but parents seemed to give their cruise cards to the teenagers so they could buy drinks after they went to bed) of course some teenagers bought their own whilst ashore and kept it well hidden from mum and dad. Fitness- two pools for adults, and one for children (not that they paid any attention to the fact that their pool was at the back of the ship!) they were well maintained with plenty of fresh towels. The gym had some nice equipment to burn off all the calories provided by the excess food over the Christmas period. Massages etc were expensive, but if you look in the ship's paper they have offers on port days, if you can spare the time, this is the best opportunity to use these services as you can get at least a 30% discount. The public rooms on Aurora are very accommodating, especially Andersons (named after one of the founders of P&O) drink prices were exceptionally good, a pint of beer was about £1.60, a gin and tonic came in at under £2.00, not bad considering that at a pub at home they could be twice that price. The design of the ship is quite good, except for access to the aft dining room. If you are seated here, make sure that you get down early, otherwise you will be waiting on the stairs until the doors open for dinner. Officers were good, and were found almost everywhere in the evening. Some people complained about officers having a drink in the public rooms, however please remember that they work a 16 hour day, don't have a day off in 6 months and after all it is their home. We had the Captain at our table for one night, a very good communicator and we had an excellent time enjoying his company. So what can I say about the whole experience, compared to other lines (RCCL, NCL, Princess, and Swan Hellenic) they do a great job of looking after you whatever your age. The only real complaint was my cabin steward, and some really rude old people (it looks like they are an epidemic on cruise ships these days) and some drunken teenagers (but hey it was New Year's Eve so they are forgiven) Any questions, please feel free to email me. James Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
This was the first proper cruise that my partner and I have done. We did it as a trial as we have booked on the QE2 transatlantic crossing in Dec 04 and wanted to check a bit of a cruise while we waited. This was a great experience. It ... Read More
This was the first proper cruise that my partner and I have done. We did it as a trial as we have booked on the QE2 transatlantic crossing in Dec 04 and wanted to check a bit of a cruise while we waited. This was a great experience. It was a 4 day/ 3 night "taster" on the Aurora that I assume is to try and get people like us to give cruising a try. Although, we only ever met people that were experienced cruisers who were using the short trip as a "top-up" to get their cruise fix before longer cruises! The 3 nights involved going from Southampton - Zeebrugge - Guersney - Southampton. We had booked into a mini-suite. The following are some observations and thoughts: Check-in/ embarkation: amazing The check in was so smooth and easy to do. More used to airline travel we were amazed at how efficient and organized it was. We barely stood in line. Once into the waiting area (which is neat and tidy but not very exciting) we felt that they could offer more for passengers to do. We had an priority boarding as we were in a mini-suite. We were taken to ANDERSONS bar and given a drink and sandwiches. Cabin We were very very impressed. It is around 350 sq feet. With a massive king size bed (I belive made from 2 singles), bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and 2 basins, lounge area with clever set up where a dining room table is inserted into a desk area. The balcony comfortably held 2 chairs and a lounger. There were chocolates, flowers and champagne to greet us. Dining We had second sitting in the ALEXANDRIA. It looked good. The service was so good it was almost invisible that you barely even realized it was all happening. Drinks were reasonably priced, and the food was varied and delicious. We had been put with a good set of people, 2 single travellers and a couple. All were regular cruisers and so we spent many happy hours chatting and getting their advice. We had breakfast and lunch in the MEDINA each day as that had a served breakfast and lunch, preferring that to the ORANGERY which had a buffet. Service here was more patchy. Maybe as they knew that we would not be influencing their tips. The formal tea was also in that restaurant. That was very good indeed with a lovely selection of pastries, cakes, sandwiches etc Entertainment etc - We used the gym twice. It is well equipped and bright. It would be good if they had TVs or better music as the gym instructor played techno dance music all the time which was not ideal! - The spa was good, and we both had excellent and (compared to UK land prices) very reasonably priced back, neck and shoulder massage. - The shows put on by the theatre company (young dancer/ singers) were good. They have huge energy, and while clearly they had a good singing and dancing coach/ director they probably need some help on the staging and "book" as that was a bit amateur. But they were very enjoyable. - The casino was small and very smoke filled. - Tours on offer were varied and well organized. Overall We thought the ship was great. It was very clean and well maintained -and you never saw anyone doing it so like the restaurant service it is done quietly and so as you don't notice it. The shops were terrible - and we felt a real missed opportunity as even though we wanted to spend money all they had was fragrance, some clothes if you had forgotten something and a bit of watches, chains etc. It is a large and beautiful ship and looks great too! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
This was our first cruise and a 25th wedding anniversary treat. We visited Eire, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. We flew down to Southampton the day before and stayed into a pre-booked hotel (Novotel) we booked independently. Avoid this ... Read More
This was our first cruise and a 25th wedding anniversary treat. We visited Eire, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. We flew down to Southampton the day before and stayed into a pre-booked hotel (Novotel) we booked independently. Avoid this hotel if you can. The room was dirty and at breakfast the kitchen were unable to provide the gluten-free meal I had asked for weeks in advance and confirmed by telephone earlier that week. Check in was okay but the waiting facility in Southampton is rather dull. The actual cruise was fantastic. We had a Stateroom with balcony and bath. Nora, our steward was incredible. Nothing was too much bother for her. As we are early risers our cabin was usually serviced prior to us returning after breakfast which we took in the Orangery most mornings. Having special diet requirements meant we could pick and choose what was suitable. We also took lunches in the Orangery as I really like to pick my own salad and my husband just likes eating. Dinner was in the Medina Restaurant, first sitting, at a table for eight. Everyone on our table was wonderful and we have kept in touch. We were the only cruise virgins at that table though..... My gluten-free diet was no problem at all - the head waiter (Chris) always took my order one evening for the next evening so everyone at our table got a preview. The entertainment was okay. Jimmy Cricket was certainly the star for us - we went to both his shows. The company entertainers tried very hard and made up for their short comings with their enthusiasm. One gentleman player had real star quality and I do hope he "makes it". The bridge lessons were a huge disappointment and we voted with our feet. The library was fine and I read stuff I normally wouldn't - and enjoyed it. cyb@study was expensive and I didn't use it. Too much like the day job. We spent a lot of the sea days in the Crows Nest and the service was attentive but I found once I had refused a drink I wasn't pestered. But when I did want something a smile at the waiter brought almost immediate service. The art auctions were a huge hit with us and we were lucky enough to win two pieces in the prize draws. Unfortunately P&O messed up the paperwork on one of the items and it took a lot of time and effort to sort out the customs and VAT after we got home. Excursions were not good value for money. We got most value by making our own arrangements. We did do the white-water rafting when we were in Norway which I would do again though. We are keen kayakers and I took my own dry suit for this although suits were provided (I'm tall and curvy so usually have problems getting centre provided suits to fit!) Nuuk harbour (Greenland) is a tender port and not good for anyone who isn't great on their feet as the access from the tender to the harbour is by very slippy and uneven steps. There were a few tumbles there. Not P&O's fault but something that the Greenland authorities will have to look at if they want more cruise ships to call. Disembarkation (again Southampton) was very polished. We had to berth in the QE2 berth but P&O had everything laid on with cars transferred for people who had left them and loads of taxis (fixed fares) ready to whisk us to the airport or rail stations. That's it folks! Next trip is with NCL in December..... Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
AURORA - "Simply The Best?" or "On the Road To Nowhere!" Tina Turner's hit single is played at every opportunity on board P&Os queen of the fleet but since a Canary cruise last year has 12 months sailing ... Read More
AURORA - "Simply The Best?" or "On the Road To Nowhere!" Tina Turner's hit single is played at every opportunity on board P&Os queen of the fleet but since a Canary cruise last year has 12 months sailing around the world made a difference ? Sadly, yes ! Whether the result of the American Carnival takeover or whether a direct impact of Aurora's fateful engine replacement this year costing P&O $millions in repairs and lost revenue, the message and ethos is now an overwhelming sense of cut back, downsize and generate as much IOR (increased Onboard Revenue) as humanly possible. It is a very sad stain on what could otherwise be a very pleasant cruising experience. Cover charges in the Pennant Grill (the outside restaurant) have risen in 12 months from £5 to £6.75 a 35% increase! Meals are free everywhere else. Even an espresso or cappuccino at dinner now requires a surcharge ! Bar waiters are on commission and as a result assault you at every opportunity with a tenacity rivaling that of double glazing salesmen. I sit down and zap the waiter is there. "Would you like a Martini perhaps sir" he says, the £ signs flashing in his eyes as they are £5.25 a crack. No thanks I say. "Perhaps a cocktail sir?". Only £3+ but worth a try. No thanks I say again. "I'd just like a Gin and Tonic please". "Will that be a large one sir?" he says in a last desperate attempt to extract as much expenditure out of me as he can. And this tirade drools out of every waiter every time you want a drink as if they were answering a call centre helpline call. If I want a large Gin & tonic I'll ask for a double like any normal person. If I ask for a Gin & Tonic I mean a Gin & Tonic. If this seems an OTT response believe me it's not. The repetitive pleas from every waiter for you to buy Martini's will wear you down and ruin your otherwise relaxing visit to the Crows Nest. Portions in the main restaurants (Medina and Alexandria) have become pitiful and one wonders how far the cost cutting can go ! My main dish of King Prawn Biryani one night had only 3 king prawns in it! That was my main meal! A starter or garlic mushrooms another night had just 3 mushrooms! You ask the waiter as best you can without wanting to sound greedy and you have to fight to get anything extra. Last year we happily ordered multiple starters instead of soups and so on. This year I could probably eat better at an average English restaurant and in terms of the biryani at my local curry house ! Here's another great "mystery" that appears to affect every cruise from the feedback I have received. After a few days the Spa/Salon always runs out of cheap hair sprays and instead only sells cans at £11 a go !! Funny how they can't anticipate demand after each cruise. Ginger beer ran out swiftly too, it being one of a select few soft drinks that come in normal large cans rather than the ridiculous mini cans that are £1.15. On-Shore excursions were also expensive and in general were noticeably worse than last year. There were some exceptions to this. Overall, cruising with P&O was great last year but now the experience is tainted with cutbacks. There is absolutely no doubt that Aurora has a major financial deficit to make up from it's engine refit and boy are you going to pay for it over the next 12-24 months! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
Just returned off Aurora today from a 12 nt Canary Island cruise. This would have been the 3rd time on the ship. I chose this ship again as I had previously enjoyed the entertainment and passenger mix. Unfortunately, the cruise was so ... Read More
Just returned off Aurora today from a 12 nt Canary Island cruise. This would have been the 3rd time on the ship. I chose this ship again as I had previously enjoyed the entertainment and passenger mix. Unfortunately, the cruise was so boring. The Aurora Theatre company (this time only), were atrocious, just like a team of amateurs. The only good thing I could say was the two lead characters in their show "Phantom of the Popera". They were excellent singers and I think could do even better with a different set of backers. I still couldn't fault the food and service I received from our waiters in the Alexandria Restaurant, Vijay and John. EXCELLENT. The ship was clean as usual and cabins always clean and tidy. Got to be said, entertainment was diabolical. Jimmy Cricket!!! A Welsh singer, cant even remember his name, and illusionist Van Buren!!! and another female singer - shirley bassey singalike!!!! Also very surprised at how many children onboard, even though it wasn't school holidays Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2007
We experienced such a good cruise on the Aurora 4 years ago that we decide to re-visit the ship. This was a 16 night cruise to the Adriatic the highlight of which,was a stop at Venice. The embarkation was faultless,our cabin spotless and ... Read More
We experienced such a good cruise on the Aurora 4 years ago that we decide to re-visit the ship. This was a 16 night cruise to the Adriatic the highlight of which,was a stop at Venice. The embarkation was faultless,our cabin spotless and with all the usual facilities. The theme of the cruise was musical and all tastes were catered for Opera, Jazz,string quartets and a passenger choir who performed Gilbert and Sullivan. All the staff,apart from one or two sullen cocktail waitresses were friendly,thoughtful and endlessly patient. Approaching Venice from the sea and strolling around this exquisite city was worth the price of the cruise itself. That's the good bit. We used to laugh at the saying that cruising was for "the newly wed or the nearly dead"-but this cruise had an excess of the latter. There were so many wheelchairs,electric buggies,zimmers and walking sticks on board that we could have been on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. AS a result we did not go on any excursions,as it took so long to decant these people off the ship on to tenders-let alone any kind of tour bus. The food in the main was good,but the chef seemed to have a preoccupation with suet dishes and overcooked vegetables-no doubt catering for our gummy fellow travellers. We had thought about booking a section of the world cruise with P&O but We don't want to spend a couple of months on a floating residential care home! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
This is a review of the Aurora, operated by P & O during the Christmas 2008 Calypso Cruise to the Caribbean. We (2 parents 55ish with 2 children 21 and 24) have cruised with P & O before and did the same or similar cruise at ... Read More
This is a review of the Aurora, operated by P & O during the Christmas 2008 Calypso Cruise to the Caribbean. We (2 parents 55ish with 2 children 21 and 24) have cruised with P & O before and did the same or similar cruise at Christmas 2007 on Oriana. The ship was described to us as a sister ship to Oriana but a little bit nicer with such pluses as the Cafe Bordeaux. It is a nice ship; the cabins (outside window Deck 5) are fine with plenty of hanging and drawer space. I had great difficulty working out the bow from the stern directions and which deck had which facility. This in spite of a pocket guide and schematic maps every 30 yards. Accommodation: The cabins are well sized, comfortable and equipped with double/twin beds, TV, fridge and reasonable bathroom. Some have shower/baths and others showers only. Beds are 3 feet wide and 6 feet 6 inches long. There is plenty of support but they are not firm. On Board facilities: Internet: The internet room is on Deck 13 by the Crows nest bar and is a pleasant airy room with 12 desktops and 2 laptop dedicated desks which are provided with UK 12 amp power sockets. The ship has a very restricted wifi which operates only in the Internet room and next door in parts of the Crows Nest Bar. It is fairly fast downloading emails and uploading to the internet. I would say that it is adequate but could be simply improved if it were made available on a wider basis through other areas of the ship. The charges are standard across the fleet and the pay as you go is 30 pence per minute, pre paid plans are available which can reduce this cost to 16 pence, but you do need to buy 4 hours of connection time. Reception: The reception area is on Deck 5 and operates from 7am to 9pm. Restaurants: We ate on second sitting in the Medina Restaurant and found the accommodations comfortable although some tables near the end walls/bulkheads suffered from a lack of room between the back of the chairs and the wall. I suppose this is a problem for the waiters rather than passenger, but I did notice it and think it worth mentioning. The waiting staff is charming as expected but some seem less fun than others and this may, of course, be shyness but it was very noticeable. The level of service is just ok. The head waiter comes to the table most evenings but we have had meals that were returned partially eaten through the meat being tough or the fish being overcooked and these incidents aroused no action whatsoever by this person. This is the absolute opposite of our previous experiences on P & O and was commented upon fairly widely by passengers. He came on the penultimate night and made his enquiry, he was horrified to receive complaints from 4 of the six diners and he wrote them down on a scrap of paper. It did not convince us that he was going to raise the issues with the Chef. When he passed by some 30 minutes later I asked what the Chef had said, the response was totally unconvincing and I seriously doubt if he reported the matters. The other general restaurant is Alexandria and I have no experience of that. Afternoon tea is served in the Medina from 4 to 4.45 pm and is very pleasant. There is a choice of a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, teacake and crumpets. They only toast the crumpets on the top, so you will end up with a soft underside. We tried for two weeks to explain but they kept coming out undercooked or charred. We also tried the Marco Pierre White facility which attracts an additional payment which varies depending upon what time during the evening you dine. We paid £3.95 each and it was certainly worth it for the food. The restaurant is the Cafe Bordeaux which is above the casino and surrounds a stairwell, one side of the restaurant has the main corridor of the Promenade Deck running alongside; quite bizarre but the food, wine choice and service were absolutely excellent and much better than the main restaurant. Depending upon your table position you may well hear a lot of extraneous noise from these sources. We also took breakfast and lunch at the Cafe Bordeaux and it was absolutely delightful. Some of the best food available on board and good service. There is a buffet restaurant on Deck 12 called the Orangery and they serve all three meals there and afternoon tea on a self serve basis. They also hold themed buffets on evenings and these vary from British, to Italian, to Asian to Indian buffets. I only tried the Indian and would not repeat the process. Other P & O ships have held these evenings and operated a reservation process which ensured a smooth progress of diners through the starter, main course and dessert stations. Aurora did not and the resulting 60 person/20 minute queue for main course was the direct result. The choices offered were not all there to be had and the curries themselves seemed very watery. I am no chef but I do know curry. I raised the lack of reservations with our ineffectual head waiter and was told that it is fleet wide and it enables many more people to be served. I don't believe this as it makes no sense. An additional facility is found on the stern deck on 12 and is called The Pennant Grill; a small surcharge will provide a nice steak or fish dinner in the warm evenings of the Caribbean. I did not use it but reports were mostly favorable. Late night service is provided by the Cafe Bordeaux but no food is displayed, sandwiches and Fries with Mayonnaise are among the very limited choices and one cannot get a toasted sandwich. Tea and coffee are available but a charge is made for peppermint tea which comes by way of a nasty teabag with very little flavor. There are 3 levels of dress acceptable by P & O on board for dining purposes; they are Formal (Black Tie), Semi Formal which is trousers, smart shirt and a jacket (no tie required) and Smart Casual, which is identical to Semi Formal except no jacket is needed. These are pretty standard but it is now permissible to wear Jeans to dinner! Bars: There are several bars catering for broad tastes on board. The Crows Nest is at the bow on Deck 13 and has panoramic views. Trouble is that smoking is allowed in the port half and the air handling system cannot stop the smell pervading the entire room making it unpleasant for the non smokers. There are other bars but none has the style of the Crows Nest, I know that smoking is not allowed in the sport bar called Champions nor Andersons on deck 7 Pools: There are three pools, 1 is exclusively for children and is part of their club area, the other two are on deck12 and are the Crystal and Riviera. The Crystal pool is set amidships and has the benefit of a retractable roof; the other is set towards the front of the ship and is open to the elements. The center pool has two hot tubs which are well used. The Children tend to use the Crystal pool which does have an effect on the clarity of the water. It was luminous green one day after treatment following one of the very regular quality tests. The pools are a reasonable size but are just over 1 meter deep. It is not easy to swim in such shallow water. If the ship encounters any swell, a wave sets up and the water flows forward and aft or side to side, shipping great gouts of water and spray from the pool itself onto the surrounding decks. If there are swimmers in the pool, they undertake a very exciting but perilous ride in or on this wave as it crashes into the end of the pool. Quite often the pools are netted to prevent passenger use; this is very frustrating especially in sunny weather. There seem to be plenty of sun beds around the pools and on the Sun Deck above the pool. Those at the Crystal Pool are a sturdy metal and mesh construction whereas the others are the nasty white plastic ones beloved of package holidays. There are also some white plastic chairs which are fairly comfortable. On the Promenade Deck you are spoilt by teak steamer chairs with attached foot rests and cushions, they also have plastic recliner chairs for the less fortunate. There is a spa which to my unpracticed eye seems to offer the usual beauty and health treatments. The charges seem reasonable and the staff is very professional. At the front of Deck 7 is a great theatre which is used for most show, there is a "ballroom" called Carmen's at the rear of that Deck, which has seats around a dance floor and is more for passengers dancing. Most of this takes place to CDs which is disappointing to some. Overall the entertainment was not very good other than Richard Digence, who was as hilarious as he always is. Tom O'Connor is OK but his act is as old as his suit, Stuart Gillies has a nice tan but should stop checking his comb over when he passes a reflecting window. Jimmy Nairn should stick to what he is best at, whenever he discovers exactly what that may be. Caravan was a very good and talented group as were the steel band. There was a female singer who I did not see but she received rave reviews from people to whom I spoke. The Entertainment Officers were a mixed bunch; one of the senior female blondes was so full of herself as to be approaching obnoxious. She needs reminding that we pay her wages and she is there to make sure that we enjoy ourselves. Most of the males are good but one of them is the worst DJ in the world. They all seem to operate on a what we say goes basis, and that can irritate the calmest of passenger. On the Food and Beverage side there seems to be a malaise among the staff, dishes lay around uncollected in the Orangery Buffet and on the outside tables, I have never known that before. Whether P & O have reduced staffing levels or it is an apathy that has set in, it needs to be addressed. Many waiters expressed dissatisfaction with "the management" and told me that they were considering transferring ships. What on earth is happening? The deck and drink waiters are all very attentive and I believe that they now work to sales quotas per shift. This may explain why they are so keen to attend you. This malaise may stem from poor senior management or perhaps the blame lies with the middle managers, I do not know but I do know that there are problems which need attention. Sports and gymnasium, there is a well equipped gym on Deck 11 and quoits, golf, shuffleboard, table tennis and soccer take place on 12 & 13. Overall I think that standards of service and food quality on board have dropped since last year although the Aurora is a new experience for me, I think it unlikely that I will repeat it although I will continue to use P & O. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
On 3 July we returned from a cruise on P&O's Aurora, our fourth trip on this particular ship in the last 22 months.  As ever our cabin steward was both efficient and extremely pleasant, and he kept our cabin very clean.  The ... Read More
On 3 July we returned from a cruise on P&O's Aurora, our fourth trip on this particular ship in the last 22 months.  As ever our cabin steward was both efficient and extremely pleasant, and he kept our cabin very clean.  The arrangements for departing on tours was far more relaxed than in the past, and therefore more efficient, with no more being told to wait in a a specific area.  Nice to be treated as adults and not unruly children.Check in at the new Ocean Terminal in Southampton could not be faulted and disembarkation at the Mayflower Terminal was equally efficient - although we do wish that either the Port Authority or P&O would take another look as the escalator in the baggage area.  To our minds, this is positively dangerous.The entertainment was the usual P&O fare - some good; some awful.  With so many cruise ships afloat, it must be difficult to find quality entertainers.However, when it comes to one of the most important areas of acruise - namely the FOOD - there were extreme problems.We would have a light breakfast in our cabin, rather than face the general melee that is the Orangery.  On sea days, lunch would be taken in either the restaurant or Cafe Bordeaux.  Service was always pleasant and the food good.  In the evenings, the alternate dining in the Pennant Grill was absolutely superb, but since there are only 46 covers it was not possible to visit more than once.  We also dined twice in Cafe Bordeaux Marco Pierre White, the first occasion being on a night when he excellent group Caravan were performing.  The food was of a very high standard, the music superb and the atmosphere made it an evening to remember.  On the second occasion, there was no entertainment and the food was at best average.  Maybe MPW needs to revisit.When it came to evening meals in the Medina Dining room (2nd sitting) it was a totally different story.  Whilst maybe two or three meals were quite good, the rest was quite frankly appalling.  the food was tasteless, badly cooked and the service at our table was by far the worst we have ever encountered in over 40 cruises.  Soups and sauces had no substance, and appeared to have been over diluted.  On at least four occasions water glasses were overfilled to the extent of overflowing, and various items of vegetables landed on the table rather than the plates, and no attempt was made by the waiters to remove them.Never before on any cruise have we received a Food Questionnaire early in the cruise, seeking passengers views on the cuisine in the various dining options.  This was followed by a phone call from the Head Waiter explaining that there had been a meeting with the chef and we were assured that the standard of food would improve.  There may have been a marginal improvement, but it was clearly still unsatisfactory and well below the standard that is conveyed in the brochure.Following our experience on this cruise, we have come to the following conclusion.  Aurora is fine  if you opt for one of the lower grade cabins and food is not an important issue.  If however you are paying for a higher grade cabin, you are going to be extremely disappointed at the value for money. There was one other matter that concerned us greatly and this was the question  of hygiene.  Only in the self service buffet was there any evidence of antiseptic hand gel being made available.  No gel was in evidence in the other dining areas, nor at the gangway, save for a sign advising you to wash your hands when you reached your cabin!  (This is particularly relevant now following this weeks news on the Marco Polo)On balance, we had an enjoyable cruise but we were travelling with friends.  The cruise, food and service was well below standard and represented poor value for money.We do have four future cruises booked but none with P&O, and we do feel with more cruise lines sailing out of Southampton giving the cruising public a much wider choice, P&O need to get their act together and decide where they are going, and what they wish to offer their passengers.  Certainly the most recent offering left much to be desired.Whilst the 'money men' prevail - how much longer will it be before P&O 'water down the water' Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
Travel from Bradford to Southampton was by Eavesway coach, as usual great coach (09 registration) and for the first time we were able to rate the coach from a wheelchair point of view, the coach passed with flying colours. Eavesway drivers ... Read More
Travel from Bradford to Southampton was by Eavesway coach, as usual great coach (09 registration) and for the first time we were able to rate the coach from a wheelchair point of view, the coach passed with flying colours. Eavesway drivers were as ever very pleasant and helpful. Embarkation procedure was fine, long queues but that was down to a few coaches arriving at the terminal at the same time. I was disappointed to find that having boarded we were simply pointed towards a lift and left to get on with it ourselves, other cruise lines (e.g Celebrity) allocate a crew member to escort you to your stateroom, this was fine for seasoned cruisers like ourselves but could be daunting for passengers cruising for the first time. My wheelchair bound son was given priority boarding with his helper (his sister), we chose to board in the usual way, because we had also cruise virgins in our party. Is it me or is Aurora like a maze gone wrong? I find lots of dead ends on the ship, where you have to cross the deck to find your way around the ship. The Alexandria Restaurant for example can only be directly accessed by one set of lifts. Whilst on the subject of the Alexandria Restaurant, I have to say great venue, good food , attentive wait staff, but why oh why do P&O put wheelchair passengers in the restaurant when the Medina restaurant is so much more accessible in a wheelchair AND has access to a disabled toilet. The Alexandria doesn't! Entertainment: Star attraction on this cruise was Derren Brown, great entertainment, had lots of people speculating on just how the hell he does what he does. How on earth do you look - look is probably not the word to use there because he is blindfolded! - at someone in the audience and tell the lady her age, that she is pregnant and is a nurse or tell another lady that her cat is called Captain Catfish, well that last one is easily explained doesn't everyone call their cat Captain Catfish!!!! Headliners team were very good, great voices and dancing, they did tribute shows to Queen and Abba. From an entertainment point of view 5* from a production point of view 2*. Queen show especially was poorly lit. I would love someone to explain to me the sense is putting a theatre company in a poorly lit cabaret lounge, where the dance floor is the stage and putting a cabaret singer in the theatre? When I'm in a cabaret bar I expect to see an act on a small stage I don't expect to see the backs of singers and dancers on a dance floor. On more thing Headliners performed to a backing track, nothing wrong with that, but why have a TRIO who couldn't be seen because they were behind some sort of metal grill augmenting the backing track - I'm sure this trio could have been better employed on the ship in another venue. I chose not to see the soul singer in the theatre - nothing against the guy , just not my cup of tea. I have to say that entertainment on P&O does seem to be getting a little scarce I may be entirely wrong although as I said previously there did seem to be a redundant trio in the cabaret bar. Agnes was the resident pianist but her "spots" seemed to consist of 30 minute periods in different parts of the ship - I hope she didn't have to lug her piano around with her :) - when our paths did cross , Agnes was good entertainment. A point about clocks moving forward or backwards, the last night of the cruise the clocks had to be put back one hour - no mention of this was made by the cruise director i the cabaret bar, the cabin steward didn't leave a card telling us to put our clocks back - so the only confirmation we actually had was 2 lines of normal print in the text of the back page of Horizon the ships newspaper - now this wasn't really a problem for me and at worst we would have gotten up 1 hour early for disembarkation - but what would have happened if all these factors had taken place on a day when the clocks went FORWARD and I has a tour ashore - attention to detail please P&O Another thing the people who were travelling with us as first time cruisers didn't receive the Horizon newspaper for the first two days of the cruise and of course as first time cruisers were blissfully unaware of the significance of not have the information that the newspaper contained - this factor brought about the title of this review " Have you been to the Theatre" but more of that later under the review for the port of Zeebrugge. Tours Ashore Zeebrugge - We did Ipres and the Flanders Fields. It seems an anathema to say wonderful tour for this particular tour, it was more of a pilgrimage but it was very very good and very thought provoking. We have all seen war memorials in out cities, towns and villages, but these in no way prepare you for the lines and lines of immaculate simple gravestones on Tyne Cemetery . After the grave visits we were taken to the Menem Gate in Ipres, to see the names of 58,000 YES 58,000 soldiers who were listed as missing in action and who have no known grave - truly thought provoking. I have mentioned before the 2 cruise virgins - they decided to take the Brugges tour together with the Roune tour in Le Havre. Now starts a period of , if you are doing something for the first time, if it can go wrong it will go wrong - They looked at the Roune ticket the night before instead of the Brugge ticket and thought the tour left at 8am - they duly presented themselves on the quayside with the right tour ticket at what they thought was the right time - REMEMBER they hadn't had the Horizon newspaper telling them to go to the theatre and therefore didn't have sticker for a coach. A lady from the ships crew approached them on the quayside and asked where they were going - Brugge they said, well have you been to the theatre? Puzzled he replied "Yes" ( he'd seen the show the previous night hehehe). "Well where's your sticker then" at this point he confessed he hadn't a clue what the hell was going on. It turned out he was on the AFTERNOON trip to Brugge. Lessons to be learnt here passengers ALWAYS check your tour tickets VERY carefully and P&O if you are printing a ticket for a tour why not put ALL the information on the ticket all it needs is Please assemble in the theatre at least 10 minutes before your tour is due to commence. Le Havre We didn't do a formal tour, just used the Shuttle bus into the city centre. A point now about wheelchair passengers and tours ashore. Alarm bells started ringing about 6 weeks prior to the cruise when the promised Tours Ashore for disabled passengers didn't materialise. Calls to P&O were made and we were told we WOULD receive them - we didn't! A final call 4 days before the cruise started final got the information from P&O there were NO tours available for wheelchair passengers! Fortunately my son was able to arrange via the internet a taxi company to take him into Brugge - that cost 90 Euros for the trip. Had he had had more time to arrange the trip he might have been able to car share of find a better price. Moral - P&O please say earlier if you cant provide transportation at any port wheelchair bound passengers and give them a fighting chance to make other arrangements. My son was unable to find a taxi firm in Le Havre - yes I know that there are always taxis in the port but not all of them are capable of taking a wheelchair. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
Much has already been written about Aurora so there is little point in repeating things. I will say, that this was a party cruise and party we did! There was however, a group of travel writers on board so I hope they didn't think this ... Read More
Much has already been written about Aurora so there is little point in repeating things. I will say, that this was a party cruise and party we did! There was however, a group of travel writers on board so I hope they didn't think this typical of a proper cruise ! There were as a result a few issues, but nothing to overly spoil our cruise. For example, people drinking copious amounts of alcohol while in the jacuzzi despite being told not to! I thought the food much improved since December, with greater and more interesting choices available. However, there was also evidence of a few more cuts, unless these were because it was a three nighter - only one truffle each at the gala dinner for example, and no shower caps in the cabins. What I do wish to do is review the two excursions I chose. The two ports were Zeebrugge and Le Havre. As this was my fourth time in Zeebrugge, I opted for the excursion "In Flanders Fields". It was one I had wanted to do for a long time and I was not disappointed. In fact I thought it one the best P&O excursions I have ever done. We left Zeebrugge at 8.30 for the 40 minute or so journey first to the First World Cemetery at Tyne Cot on the Ypres Salient close to Passendale. On the way the older and very knowledgeable guide told us some of the history of Belgium and the background to the First World War. Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery anywhere in he world, with 11,954 graves, of which 8,367 are unnamed. In addition there is a wall commemorating the 34,000 missing (for this battle sector alone!), with no known grave. As we approached the entrance every person fell silent. As you walk along the path, movement sensors trigger a sound system with a female voice reading out the names of the dead. It is incredibly moving. In the centre of the cemetery is the Cross of Sacrifice, built on top of a German Bunker, as the cemetery is situated right on the actual battlefield. In the distance you can see the spires of Ypres. This is the place of which the war artist Paul Nash wrote "They call it Passendale, I call it Hell!" There were more than a few of us with tissues in our hands. Back on the coach we travelled to the Menin Gate where we had a 20 minute stop. This huge archway spanning the main road into Ypres honours 55,000 Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave. Once again, most people fell silent as there is barely a square inch of stone without a name engraved. This is the place where every single evening since 1928 (with a break for WW2), a bugler stands at 8pm and sounds the Last Post. From there we entered Ypres, firstly visiting St George's English Church and then to In Flanders Fields Museum. Once at the museum we were on our own, to take as little or as long as we wanted, and with a couple of hours free before we had to meet up at the coach. By now I was feeling a bit of an emotional wreck so after exploring a bit I found a cafe for a waffle and a Belgian beer! It is hard to believe this lovely "Medieval" town had to be completely rebuilt in the 1920s after years of shelling. We arrived back at the ship at 3.30 for an early sailing at 4pm for Le Havre. The following day I had opted for a morning excursion to Honfleur. This was again excellent. We left at 8.30am and after early morning mist - which gave the impression that the huge Seine Suspension Bridge was floating in mid air, the day cleared to warm sunshine. To reach Honfleur we took a scenic route through the Normandy countryside, past apple orchards and half-timbered farmsteads. I thought it very beautiful but hadn't counted of the even greater "prettiness factor" of Honfleur itself. This is one of the seaside towns that attracted the Impressionist artists like Monet and Boudin. The coach drop off was in the town centre right beside two river cruise ships - Rhone Princess and Renoir. We had a short walking tour, through narrow medieval streets with half- timbered houses. NB - all streets here are cobbled and it was quite hard walking, so wear flat shoes! Round the pretty Vieux Bassin or old harbour and ending at the wooden St Catherine's Church, before again having 1½ hours free time to eat or explore. Being out of the high season, there were few other tourists (I only saw one group of Japanese) but all the restaurants were still open, most with lovely outdoor seating beside the harbour. The local produce - Calvados, Cider and cheeses were widely available, as were other souvenirs and postcards. It was delightful and I would thoroughly recommend it. We arrived back at Aurora at 12.30, so there was still plenty of time for an afternoon doze in the sun on deck before packing and dinner. As a late short break this was an ideal holiday. It will give you an idea of the ship, but do not think it typical of a longer cruise. Read Less
Aurora Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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