We arrived at Bolton bus station at 7-15am in plenty of time to board an Eavesway coach to Southampton, the coach arrived at about 7-30 and we left 15 minutes late at 8-00am due to two people not turning up. Our driver was very informative and polite and the coach was very comfortable,we did one stop on the M6 toll for one hour and arrived at Southampton at 1-30pm to be met by massive queues , as we pulled up Carol Marlow boarded our coach and after introducing herself explained the reason behind the queues , the reasons being given were that the Aurora had arrived back in Southampton after a world cruise and there were over 7 thousand items of luggage to unload which took longer than expected and then once boarding started one of the photo machines had broken down, she apologised and wished us a pleasant cruise, it then took us two hours in a queue to board the ship. I suppose these things can happen and from the comments from other cruisers it was the first time it had happened to them so not a good start to our first cruise but thought that things can only get better.
We had a Balcony cabin on A deck or deck 11 to give ti its proper title, the cabin was spotless,roomy , tea coffee making facilities and all the information we needed to know about absolutely everything on the ship.
Then we explored the ship for a few hours, having to look at the maps on the walls at every other corner and was still having to check the maps at times two week later.
It was now time to go back to our cabin to get ready for dinner for second sitting, we arrived at our table for eight and met our fellow table guests for the next 21 days and we could not of wished for three nicer couples for our companions.
After a lovely first meal we gave the theatre a miss on the first night as we were told that it was mainly an introduction to the cast and just a little bit of a show so went to explore some of the bars with a drink in each one (why not) then retired to a very comfy bed after a tiresome day.
Our first port was Ponta Delgada in the Azores, it is a very nice port and we got lovely weather but not a great deal to explore.
A five day sail now to Tortola and the first day was quite rough but the captain did warn us three days before that this was going to be a rough day but the rest of the sailing was quite smooth and the weather got better and warmer each day.
In Tortola now and this was also a nice port but cannot comment on the town itself as we went on a privately charted catamaran which was unbelievable with three stops at coral reefs for snorkeling and swimming amongst thousands of multi coloured fish (amazing), at one stop we also had lunch and drinks all included in the price, the weather was beautiful with no wind at all so we could,nt put up the sails (boo).
Our next port was Antigua where we just explored the town and its culture which was eye opening at times, plenty of shops and cafes and even an hemp shop, another beautiful day weather wise.
Our next port was St Vincent and I must say if you go here then book a tour as there is nothing at all at this port of call and if I went to the Caribbean again I would do a cruise which was not doing this port.
In St Martin today, I went yacht racing I can highly recommend it, this was three hours long so explored the town for the rest of the day, there is a beautiful beach a short walk from the cruise terminal and bars all along the beach then behind the line of bars is the shopping centre with all the famous jewellery shops among them. My favourite island.
Our last island in the Caribbean was Barbados, we booked another catamaran here and another amazing day swimming with shoals of thousands of fish again then onto another spot to swim with the turtles which came so close that you could stroke them, the weather could of been better but only a few heavy showers spoiled it, explored the town for a few hours and plenty of shops cafes and people.
A six day sail now to Madeira, a very good crossing and plenty going on in the ship to see and do, my first time at all of these islands and what a beautiful place Funchal is and Madeira in general and another great day with the weather.If anyone is planning to go on the cable car then it is a nice pleasant walk to the cable terminal and just 15 Euros so much cheaper than the ship.
The last three days sailing to Southampton was like sailing on a mill pond and was sun bathing right up to the last day.
All in all a great ship , I would rate the food as good but could of been better, there was over one hundred kids on board but hardly ever seen them or heard them if I had any complaints it would be the age old one of the saving of sunbeds. A great holiday.