Following 4 previous cruises with Royal Caribbean, one in the Med and three in the Caribbean, we thought we would try P&O for a much anticipated cruise around the Norwegian Fjords.
We found all aspects of the P&O operation very straightforward, embarkation took approximately 1 hour (rather longer on RC)and our luggage was already waiting for us outside the cabin. The Aurora was a much smaller ship than we are used to and we rather liked that. Some reviews state it is showing its age but I think a bit of refurbishing is taking place all the time, new carpets, new sun lounge covers on the balcony furniture, etc. and we found it perfectly acceptable.
Our cabin steward was delightful, discreet but very efficient, and stowed our luggage for us so we had more room in our cabin. The cabin was a balcony one with separate lounge area, a good size and the bathroom much bigger than on the RC boats with a small bath and better shower. We appreciated the tea, coffee and biscuits in the room.
The staff were uniformly pleasant and could not be faulted. If you smile, they will smile back. The atmosphere on the Aurora was very good.
We dined in the Alexandria second sitting, food very good and our 6 table companions chatty and mostly our age. Some people we met did find their table companions rather dour and elderly, and this could be a problem. I understand you can ask to be moved though that can be embarrassing as we were told by someone who did move. We tried the Marco Pierre White Cafe Bordeaux bistro on two occasions and it was excellent and worth the small supplement. Service very good in there, you were made to feel special. We enjoyed Cafe Bordeaux so much that we had lunch in there too (no charge)and it was first class - we did not particularly enjoy the Orangery self service buffet as it was busy and hectic and the food average. We did not try the Pennant Grill as the weather was a bit windy to dine outside in the evening and the indoor section of the Grill is not very appealing (part of the Orangery).
Entertainment - we went to 3 shows in the evening and two were outstanding, the West End theatre type of night and the Sixties night.
The bar prices onboard were very reasonable and as Norway is such an expensive destination, we tended to drink the wine in our cabin fridge (which we had brought with us) and also the gin we had taken aboard and only had 2 small beers ashore which cost £16 !. P&O made a refreshing change from RC who confiscate all bottles at all times so you have to pay their onboard bar prices.
P&O are offering a very British experience on their ships from the Scottish pipers at sailaway, to the Old Speckled Hen beer, to the waving of Union Jacks ... we are happy with that but some might not be. Having said that, RC is a totally American experience, more commercial, and we preferred P&O. Recommended.