Aurora is one of the oldest ships in the P&O Cruises fleet (it was launched in 2000), and came out a much-needed £26 million refurbishment at the end of 2014 as the firstone to carry the new livery, featuring a contemporary version of the Union Flag on its bow, and a blue funnel. This may have disappointed a few P&O regulars, but it indicates the line's policy to combine a traditional British atmosphere with an up-to-date cruise experience as well as looking ahead to the launch of the newest -- and biggest -- ship in the fleet in March 2015, Britannia.
New features added in the refurbishment include the Sindhu fine dining restaurant, with an Indian-fusion menu overseen by Michelin-star chef Atul Kochhar, and the Glass House restaurant and bar, with wines selected by TV presenter Olly Smith, which has replaced Cafe Bordeaux. Both these restaurants are on P&O Cruises' twin giants Azura and Ventura.
The buffet restaurant and Sidewalk Cafe were also completely refurbished and include a new Costa Coffee and Grab and Go countermand flexible "Freedom Dining" in the Medina Restaurant, plus more tables for two; and Marco Pierre White dishes on gala evenings.
The recent refit has transformed the public rooms and they are now bright and attractive, with exceptionally comfortable seating. But some of the rooms and corridors are distinctly chilly, and there is evidence of minor wear and tear in places, despite the refurbishment which is inevitable with a ship that is now more than 15-years-old.
Aurora is a family-friendly ship and has extensive kids' facilities, so expect a large proportion of children during holiday times. However, outside of school holidays the ship reverts to its traditional demographic of 50-something and older Brits.
There are normally two formal nights per seven-night cruise. Black tie for men predominates, although lounge suit and tie are acceptable. Low key evening and cocktail dresses are usual for the women. Those who don't want to dress up can use the cafeteria, but formal attire is required in the main restaurants. The other nights are either semiformal or smart casual, according to the ship's itinerary. Shorts and jeans aren't welcome in the restaurants.
£3.95 per person per day (for over 12's) is automatically added to your onboard account, and further tipping is optional. Note: It is not possible to pre-pay gratuities prior to boarding the ship, however pre-purchased onboard credit can be used to cover the service charge.