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30 P&O Cruises Aurora Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise to be with friends and living locally departure was convenient from the port of Southampton. Only second time on P&O and was hoping for a better experience but let down firstly by poor administration and secondly by ... Read More
Chose this cruise to be with friends and living locally departure was convenient from the port of Southampton. Only second time on P&O and was hoping for a better experience but let down firstly by poor administration and secondly by our two experiences in the main dining room. We were only a group of three in two different staterooms. When we made our reservations were promised dining together but on ship the Maitre D,s did not appear to be able to carry out such a simple exercise. We did eventually get a joint table by having met a senior management officer and discussing the problem with her, but by that time we had made the decision to eat in the Glasshouse Bar/Restaurant. The Glasshouse was totally different, a wide selection of dishes, all of good quality and presented with a flair. The team lead by A-Jay provided excellent service. Wine selection and Cocktails were better than a four star hotel. Stateroom, and outside single was snug and kept clean by the steward. It did however require a bit of TLC. Generally however the ship,s public areas seemed clean and looked after. Entertainment and activities are not our thing so no real comment except to say the pianist who played in various public areas seemed to have a rather monotonous itinery. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We left Cunards Queen Elizabeth to join this cruise for New Year thinking the entertainment would be more fun and Indy it was. The ships entertainment crew are quite brilliant and deserve a huge pat on the back for all the shows but ... Read More
We left Cunards Queen Elizabeth to join this cruise for New Year thinking the entertainment would be more fun and Indy it was. The ships entertainment crew are quite brilliant and deserve a huge pat on the back for all the shows but especially for the musical show which got a standing ovation...but alas that's where the good stops. On arrival to the ship our cabins were not ready and we were told to go to the Buffet area for something to eat. My friend chose roast beef - on eating his first mouthful his spat it out saying it tasted horrible - as a chef myself I could see the meat was not right and on smelling it confirmed it was VERY OFF. I immediately told the manager not to serve any more and to remove it from service which he assured me he had done, but no follow up explanation. This buffet area is dire with most of the dishes on offer being made up - one day bangers and mash, awful. Prawn pizza awful, fish pie - like water. We gave up and thought we would try the grill area. Stone cold burgers, stale sandwiches and baguettes - chips shrewd all over the floor just terrible. The chef in a woolly hat and a complete lack of love or care. On arrival at the Cabin, bathroom mirrors dirty, long black ladies hair on the towels ( we were two men) dirty balcony windows and a very unkept feel in dated and very tired cabins. That said our Steward was friendly and rectified what he could. The food in the main dining room is better especially if you stick to the simple things - prawn cocktail was good and a cottage pie on the first night excellent as we're parts of the New Year's Eve gala dinner, especially the rack of lamb. And then there is the Glass House ...... an alternative dining venue. Please don't build your hopes up our first visit was better but the 2nd visit resulted in a 40 minute wait for a table. Follewd by a further 10 minute Wait at the table only to be informed that we might have to wait for a "long time" for our food and that they had run out of most dishes and triple cut chips. Our steak meal inedible resulting in some 20 visits to the loo the day after with severe stomach cramps to boot. Summing up standards are low if you search about you might get a few nice dishes but that shouldn't be the case. If P & 0 are offering something it should at least be edible. I am also concerned about hygiene and stock rotation. No chef should allow food out of their kitchen that is not edible and the roast beef and the steaks in the glass house were not. Neither should we experience a room that is anything other than spotless and ours was not including an out of date yoghurt in the mini fridge. Both my friend and I have suffered stomach pains, sickness and diahorrea for two days this is either caused by the food or by the lack of public hygiene with hand gels. You don't get into a Cunard dining venue without antiseptic gel on your hands. I saw hardly anybody use it on the Aurora Much needs to be done and if you are thinking of going think twice Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
yes as you guessed from the title this was our first cruise we have been on.R818N 5 nights ,Bruges and Amsterdam from the 10th to 15 October 2018, The food was good in the main restaurant it’s on par with a good 3 to 4 star hotel, the ... Read More
yes as you guessed from the title this was our first cruise we have been on.R818N 5 nights ,Bruges and Amsterdam from the 10th to 15 October 2018, The food was good in the main restaurant it’s on par with a good 3 to 4 star hotel, the Horizon buffet dine around the clock and the day time grill use any time till 3am are about the same as an all-inclusive hotel . We booked two restaurants that had surcharges, the Beach house £7.50 each was ok and nice meal the Sindhu (Indian) £20 each was first class more than worth the extra cost, they made us feel special with exceptional food if you’re going on the Aurora make sure you book it in advance .Next the staff they are so efficient and work so hard and are so polite ,P&O charge your account £7 each per day to cover tips ,we had one lady taking delight and walking around our boat telling other people that if you go to reception you could cancel this charge ,they work so hard and are away from there family’s for long periods so I hope they get every penny of that because you cannot fault them they give whey beyond 100% . other reviews we read before going said the ship is dated ,it is a little in places but not that it could spoil your holiday , Every part of the ship was spotless our cabin was perfect the entertainment was great ,well done P&O you have us hooked ,we will be back ,such a pity I have to work first Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Birthday suprise cruise. Absolutely amazing, had a fantastic time. Nothing was to much to ask for. 3 ladies together, treated so well. Thank you so much, will be looking to cruise again, as this was a first experience. Loved every minute. ... Read More
Birthday suprise cruise. Absolutely amazing, had a fantastic time. Nothing was to much to ask for. 3 ladies together, treated so well. Thank you so much, will be looking to cruise again, as this was a first experience. Loved every minute. Staff were courteous, helpful, attentive. Some went over & beyond to give a great service. Food was fresh & plentiful. Always a great choice. Pool areas were kept clean, not to much water on floors for slips. Tables always clean, no litter, bins were always emptied regularly. Public toilets were clean & fresh. Good changing facilities near swimming pools. Medina restaurant was exemplary, service spot on. Birthday cake arrived for my 60th, Fantastic ambiance, waiters sang Happy Birthday. Trips were available, but we decided to do our own thing, went ashore for shopping, staff were great on tender transfers. Always something to do, but great if you just want a relaxing break. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We have traveled before with P&O and we have always been impressed with the entertainment, however this cruise we were left feeling ‘Is that it?’ Embarkation was slow, with us waiting an hour and a half, due to everyone ... Read More
We have traveled before with P&O and we have always been impressed with the entertainment, however this cruise we were left feeling ‘Is that it?’ Embarkation was slow, with us waiting an hour and a half, due to everyone arriving before their designated time. The food was brilliant as always, however, I felt some of the menu was repeated, almost as if they were trying to get rid of what they had left. I was also surprised by the amount of fish on the menu, not with sauces, just bland fish. Some of the ships layout was a bit odd, as to get to the Alexandria restaurant you had to go up to 7, go across the ship, and then come down again; otherwise the ship was nice, and the size was good compared to the amount of people onboard. The reception was very festive with decorations and a charming gingerbread village. The cabin staff were very friendly and they were always saying hello as you came out of your cabins. The entertainment was a different story, while the shows were enjoyable, some of the singers were a bit screechy and when they sang together (especially in that dreadful Michael Jackson rendition) it seemed they were trying to drown each other out and I think everybody in that theatre wanted to leave. I also felt that they were limited by the theatre size and as a result, they weren’t able to perform shows we had seen on other ships. The entertainment team did quizzes every night which we did partake in, but in the run up to Christmas, I don’t think anybody could do another “Guess that Christmas song” quiz. Continuing from that, on Christmas Day, the variety of things going on was very lacking, with nothing on apart from ‘Love Actually’ in the cinema. The Boxing Day panto was worth a watch, with it being very amusing in a car-crash type way. Unfortunately, our call to Amsterdam was cancelled and we were disappointed that there were no alternative arrangements in place after the previous time the ship was due to dock, it could not, similarly this happened the year before. Disembarkation was delayed as the gangways had disconnected; however this was beyond their control and they tried to correct it as quickly as possible. Overall, we would consider going again, but this is not a certainty. Read Less
Sail Date December 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
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
Sail Date October 2017
Wanted to go on a short cruise with grandchildren and family so this looked good. Embarkation was quick and well organised. We had three balcony cabins which were fine size wise. Food was great, entertainment a little amateur but that ... Read More
Wanted to go on a short cruise with grandchildren and family so this looked good. Embarkation was quick and well organised. We had three balcony cabins which were fine size wise. Food was great, entertainment a little amateur but that did not spoil our enjoyment. Of course the weather was a big factor and was lovely. Anne Franks house and city tour was most enjoyable plus the journey down the canal was really restful. The port was bustling with river traffic and we enjoyed sitting out in the evening sun watching it. Took the shuttle bus to Blankenburge which has a super beach, coffee on pier and then mandatory stop at chocolate shops. Staff were great, our waiters were most attentive and cabin always clean and tidy. All in all a great introduction to the family to cruising, especially as youngest grandchild usually suffers from travel sickness but was fine throughout the journey. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Chose this cruise as the itinerary was great as was the price. Turned out a great destinations cruise and the ship was great too but it was nothing short of a floating Benidorm. Where did so many slovenly ill mannered people come from, ... Read More
Chose this cruise as the itinerary was great as was the price. Turned out a great destinations cruise and the ship was great too but it was nothing short of a floating Benidorm. Where did so many slovenly ill mannered people come from, first time experiencing this type of fellow passenger. One woman had her shoes and socks off in the bar with her feet up on the seat, others looked as though they had just come in from a hard days gardening. If you wish to call me a snob then I'll happily accept it if this is the kind of people I am expected to cruise with. Must have been down to the cost of the cruise which was indeed cheap. Embarkation was a dream, straight on board and even straight to our cabin where the luggage was already waiting, then for an afternoon snack to keep us going until dinner, plenty of choice too. The café provides a reasonable place to eat but nothing exciting, usual mundane stuff. Ship was decorated with lots of Christmas trees and tinsel but for a festive cruise that was all, no Christmas music anywhere, no theatre productions to embrace the season and not even a Christmas evening meal was provided. At least a cracker on the table on the final evening would have been nice with some festive food. The food in general on P & O is nothing short of boring and bland but I suppose that adheres to the British passengers. Restaurant staff were polite but still couldn't remember our likes and dislikes until the final 5 or so days. There are lots of small public rooms on this ship, the library for instance was minute as was the shops. Prefer larger but fewer public rooms. The heat throughout the ship was unbearable, everyone was coughing and sneezing, a breeding ground for germs and I knew as soon as we boarded that we would go down with a nasty cold and I wasn't wrong, in-fact it was the worse cold we've ever had. So much for the questionnaire you had to fill in before boarding about having a "runny nose", lots of dishonest people here. Drinks are too expensive so didn't bother with them. Theatre was the same old thing, Headliners productions which consisted of lots of "Tiller Girls" type dancing if you are old enough to remember them. Guest acts were also ordinary and boring. New and innovative ideas are desperately needed. Ports of call were great, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Oslo, Amsterdam and Zebrugge (for Bruges). Plenty of time in each port and all within walking distance of the ship with the exception of Hamburg and Zebrugge but for the latter a free shuttle bus was provided to Blankenburg and the station. If you search online you can find the exact place in each port where the ship docks enabling you to decide if you are able to walk to the centre of town or whether you would be better off going on an excursion as the cost of the shuttle bus if you are a saver cruiser is exorbitant at £20 return for 2. We decided on 2 onshore excursions, the Windmills of Edam in Amsterdam and Scenic Villages and Chocolates in Zebrugge. All other ports we did our own thing and walked each destination for many hours in order to see everything. The Windmills of Edam was dreadful, could have been great as the places visited were very interesting but we only had a fleeting visit to each of them, not even enough time to use the loo before the coach left as the queue was so long. Scenic Villages and Chocolates in Zebrugge was quite the opposite, plenty of time and a very interesting commentary from the guide. We were is cabin A263 which was a bit on the small side but acceptable. Trouble is the soundproofing was poor and we could hear what was being said in each cabin either side of us. The guy in cabin A269 next to us snored all night long and kept me awake for many nights until I wrapped my head in a towel each night thereafter to deaden the noise. The TV handset is archaic, no numbers on it so when selecting a channel you have to scroll up and down one by one, hence we always missed the captain's announcements as they were over before we got to the channel. John our cabin steward was nothing more than OK, obviously got fed up with things as by the final day he couldn't even be bothered to speak. The cabin was kept clean around the area we used but look under the bed and chairs and it was filthy. Towels were changed regularly and coffee was kept topped up. Disembarkation was a bit of a shambles, too many people criss-crossing one another to get in and out of the lounges but there were no problems. All in all, enjoyed the cruise but still haven't recovered from the germs lol. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Hi A more relaxed smaller ship. I thought she was a smooth Sailing ship. The only downside was the promenade deck was having some work done on it and was mostly partly shut for the trip. Room was the cheapest on board with one big ... Read More
Hi A more relaxed smaller ship. I thought she was a smooth Sailing ship. The only downside was the promenade deck was having some work done on it and was mostly partly shut for the trip. Room was the cheapest on board with one big surprise I could put my luggage away in the closest in my room. Can't do that on a Cunard ship. The sink in my room was a bit 'worn' but was fine. It also had the easiest working aircon/heating system that I have ever used. Ship had a few scuff marks here and there but that was fine. I will book P&O next time Entry and exit for the ship was fast and painless. The staff on board were friendly the two ladies in the Piccadilly store and library were very helpful and made the trip. My cabin steward was also very helpful and I was only a few doors down from the laundrette. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was my first ,taster' cruise and albeit only two nights I feel as though I have been away for a week. We were celebrating a friends retirement and travelling with 7 ladies of which two were regular cruises. The embarkation and ... Read More
This was my first ,taster' cruise and albeit only two nights I feel as though I have been away for a week. We were celebrating a friends retirement and travelling with 7 ladies of which two were regular cruises. The embarkation and disembarkation was quick and efficient considering the number of passengers. I cannot fault the cleanliness of the ship and our cabin. This was all carried out without any inconvenience to passengers, and the staff were helpful and considerate at all times. Regular cruises had given me an insight as to what to expect on board, but I was still shocked by the dining and food. The two formal evenings in Alexandria surpassed my expectation. It was a fine dining experience and very impressive. Fast, attentive, friendly efficient staff just make all the difference. I am still staggered how our waiter managed to remember all seven orders with specific requirements and then served correctly to each person.......amazing!! I can't remember the last time I ate food that was cooked, and presented to such a high standard. The choices, including an optional additional menu selected by Marco Pier White, were challenging. I wanted most things on the menu and it took me sometime to decide. I was not disappointed with my choices and relished every mouthful. Cooked to perfection I was a very satisfied diner, and didn't have to pick up a bill of £60 or more! The self service buffet was another experience. I expected something like the USA or UK style of food chains buffet, but quite the opposite. A huge amount of choice and the finest quality. We all enjoyed the tribute band that weekend and 'blame it on the boogie'. Would I recommend ...absolutely. Are we going again....absolutely. Great value for money. Thank you P and O. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Chose this cruise as travelling with parents who are nearly 80 (unsure whether a cruise would suit them and mum unsteady on feet), partner and son age 6. Thought it would be a good tester cruise for the wider family. Booked a balcony ... Read More
Chose this cruise as travelling with parents who are nearly 80 (unsure whether a cruise would suit them and mum unsteady on feet), partner and son age 6. Thought it would be a good tester cruise for the wider family. Booked a balcony room so son could have a "proper" bed rather than a pull down one. Also thought we would be able to sit on balcony while son slept. Unfortunately when the sofa bed is made into a bed it blocks the balcony and the only way to get to balcony is to climb on bed; which would wake son and is not practical with arthritic joints - disappointing and left feeling the extra paid for balcony room was a waste of money. Tender was further to shore than anticipated. Timed crossings from our cabin and they ranged from 5-15 minutes. Typically ours took 15 minutes as we had to bob around on the sea for 10 minutes while a cat was allowed into harbour first - not good for poor/nervous travellers. There seems to be contradictory information provided regarding luggage allowance - literature ranged from 20kg, 22kg and 25kg so we were unsure what the actual limit was. Also found contradictory times for restaurant opening hours and as a result missed breakfast at the Medina Restaurant and had to go to Horizon - where we noted pork sausages were labelled as beef sausages. Ate in the informal restaurant (Horizon) on the formal night and was disappointed with the choice of food available - roast pork (which the server offered as beef) or chinese food. On the first night we ate in the Medina Restaurant which was lovely; great service and a good choice of food. We also tried breakfast here which was very tasty but if you ask for sausage, bacon and egg thats exactly what you get - 1 sausage, 1 rasher of bacon and an egg which looks rather lost on the huge serving plate. Wasnt expecting to see numerous groups on hen parties/lads weekends - this spoilt the family atmosphere especially when boarding the tender behind a large group of lads who were intoxicated (before lunch) and very loud and inappropriate. We have cruised before and thoroughly enjoyed that experience but unfortunately cannot say the same for this trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Our first cruise was on the P&O Aurora on 28 Dec for 5 days round Bruges and Hamburg. Both are nice cities well worth a visit and pleasurable day was had at both. Embarkation parking with CPL was great, very efficient. Once ... Read More
Our first cruise was on the P&O Aurora on 28 Dec for 5 days round Bruges and Hamburg. Both are nice cities well worth a visit and pleasurable day was had at both. Embarkation parking with CPL was great, very efficient. Once inside, we had to wait in the lounge until a set time and then queue at a desk to check in, then queue at security, then get on, but it wasn’t too bad. The Aurora was well maintained and about the same standard as a 4 star mainstream hotel. The cabins were clean, and the maid was excellent, servicing the cabin very attentively. There was more room in the cabin than we expected. On board there was entertainment, bars, a casino, lots of shops, restaurants and a very good gym and spa. The gym was too hot to use as the ship is 26 degrees Celsius everywhere, but you could run on the promenade deck if you wanted and get some air. The average age of clients was very old and I would not recommend it for anyone under 65. The set evenings were formal dress which was fine, but what makes people think it is OK to turn up to breakfast not showering still in pyjamas? It was more like an old person’s home than a hotel. That’s not P&Os fault of course but perhaps they should refuse breakfast guests in underwear just as you would refuse someone in trainers and jeans at a black tie diner. Overall the staff were helpful apart from a few – one very rude waiter and one extremely rude car park attendant at the terminal, who was not interested in telling anyone where they could unload or load, just where they couldn’t, which is everywhere. The main problem that would put us off cruising with P&O ever again was the food. Not the quantity or quality (which was OK, like a decent motorway services really, which as they were feeding 2000 people isn’t bad). The problem is the utterly stupid dining rules. You either have to pre-book and eat in the same place at the same time every single night. Or choose freedom dining and go anywhere to be told they are full and no you cannot book anywhere, at anytime. So the restaurant tables are half empty with people who booked but fancied a change and did not show for their booked table. You can’t sit there because it is booked even though it’s empty. The people who did book are somewhere else being told they can’t eat there because it is full and they did not book. Even the staff do not understand the daft rules and contradicted each other at the same food station! P&O read chaos theory – you are causing the problem. Let people just turn up and eat when and where they want and there will be no problem. Old people and kids eat at 18:30, everyone else 20:00 and it balances out. We were set to eat between 18:30 and 20:30 but the waiters wanted us out at 19:45 to reset the table. 5 courses in just over an hour after ordering is too fast. We asked for a 5 min break before dessert but they asked again after 35 seconds and would not take no for an answer. We complained we were forced to leave at 19:45 and asked why? The staff just repeated the message we need the table for 20:30. This happened every night even though we turned up bang on time to start every night. The waiters refused to slow down, it was worse than eating at a fast food restaurant, with a waiter often putting your soup down in front of you while you were still eating the starter. We went to reception to try to sort it out but the staff while polite just repeat the message, ‘it is the rules you have to be out by 20:30’. When we asked to see the rules explaining things they just repeated the message. It seems P&O expect passengers to just know the rules even if the staff don’t. Why were not allowed to finish the meal by 20:00 say, we will never know. So for P&O if you eat between 18:30 and 20:30, it means you start at 18:30 and finish at 19:45 and leave. We even asked what time zone the kitchen was on but it wasn’t that. The other big problem was the shambolic safety drill. We were called to the muster station for the understandably mandatory drill. The two staff at muster station E did not know where muster station E was even though they were at it. The recorded message stuck and was restarted 3 times. The Captain tried to deliver a personal message (probably to apologise) but the speakers cut out twice. They gave up. They do this every week and messed it up. What would happen in a real emergency they have not seen before? No thanks I am not trusting my family’s safety to these guys again. Your life is in the hands of a soup waiter and a croupier who do not know where your muster station is, even when they are already stood at it – no thanks. If you like very regimented holidays, and are over 75 this would be ideal, if not I would not recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
A lovely five nights over the New Year on Aurora who was looking very nice and well cared for and had been beautifully decorated for the festive season. Embarkation was extremely quick and smooth. We had arrived close to our allocated ... Read More
A lovely five nights over the New Year on Aurora who was looking very nice and well cared for and had been beautifully decorated for the festive season. Embarkation was extremely quick and smooth. We had arrived close to our allocated arrival time and were fast tracked straight through to Check In. We were in our cabin with hand luggage unpacked in no time at all and ready to go off and explore before Muster Drill. There were some technical problems at first with the Safety announcements, but a very competent and capable young Muster Steward took over and handled the situation very well indeed in our Muster Station. A very serious Medical Emergency announcement, resulting in Emergency vehicles being called to the ship, had interrupted this Safety Drill, which could maybe explain the interruptions to the channels of communication and to the usual procedure here. We were understandably a few hours delayed in sailing away, but obviously hearts went out to the passenger and family involved. We had been upgraded to a Larger Outside cabin on C deck, (Aft) which was lovely and kept beautifully clean and stocks replenished by our very conscientious yet unobtrusive cabin steward. We liked the location – quite near some lifts and a stairway to go down to dinner and near an exit to pop out onto the Aft deck - and loved having a proper sofa and seating area to relax on during the day and also a dividing curtain to keep the room extra dark for sleeping at night. As we had requested, we were on first sitting in the Alexandria restaurant and after a few hiccups were on a delightful table of eight where we were made very welcome and enjoyed plenty of laughs and excellent company and excellent service from our waiters. We found the meals and standard of food excellent and portions just right. We liked having breakfast – and lunch on Sea Days - in the Medina Restaurant, where service was also excellent. First port of call was Zeebrugge , where we have been many times, but always like it. This time, we took the train to Bruges where there was still a Christmas Market, but as it was very busy, we returned quite early to old faithful Blankenberge ( a bit like Bognor Regis) and enjoyed a brisk walk along the promenade and an obligatory Belgian beer before returning on the shuttle to relax on-board before dinner. In Hamburg, we visited the Miniature Wunderland exhibition www.miniatur-wunderland.com which was really amazing. It advertises itself as a model railway, but it is so much more. Unfortunately the weather was wetter than forecast in Hamburg and we hadn’t realised that most shops closed at 2pm on NYE and that many places were also closed for the whole holiday, so we misjudged that a bit. We enjoyed the obligatory German beer /Gluehwein in a German ‘Keller’ though to compensate. Dinner on New Year’s Eve was lovely with the piping in of the Haggis, though we had a shock when we first arrived at 6 25pm to find everyone sitting in party hats and part way through the first course. (We hadn’t realised that first sitting was 6pm that night with doors closing at 6 15pm!) However I think they all took pity on our obvious shock and let us in and very quickly caught us up with the others on the table. We weren’t the only ones! I think we need stronger reminders of this like the reminders we get when the clocks change. New Year’s Eve was celebrated watching a great display of fireworks on the river, but Midnight itself was sadly a bit of a let-down as we were all expecting at least an announcement from the Bridge from the Captain or one of his team to mark the New Year, if not a countdown to midnight or the sounding of the horn. Various groups counted in the various (very crowded) venues if there was an entertainments person there, but there was no one up on deck where lots of people were waiting in anticipation. In fact the Captain was for some reason conspicuous by his absence all through with not even a farewell as we disembarked, which was quite disappointing as a captain's presence can really help 'make' a cruise. New Year’s Day was lovely and relaxing – a peaceful sea day which I think everyone appreciated after the night before. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and Afternoon Tea in the Medina Restaurant and a very pleasant last night on board in the usual routine of dinner and two shows and a night cap in the Crow’s Nest. We enjoyed all performances especially Clem Curtis (from the Foundations) and the Chapman Brothers and found plenty to laugh at from comedian John Martyn. The Headliners were as usual very energetic and very good, though we now feel ready for some different routines from them after a few cruises and also thought that some of their skimpy costumes were just a bit too revealing this time in quite an unflattering way. It was this team’s last night on Aurora and they went out on a very energetic performance of Killer Queen, which the audience seemed to enjoy. Disembarking also went very well indeed. It was good being able to choose a disembarkation time, so we could have a leisurely breakfast in Medina and not rush. We were waiting outside for our pick up taxi by 9 am and home by 9 30 as we live locally. Overall a wonderful cruise with a very nice atmosphere onboard and a good mix of some very friendly and sociable people. All staff were lovely and the service was without exception excellent. All food was delicious too. So here’s to the next P&O cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was a Chrstmas present from my best friend..neither of us had cruised before so thought a good idea. We departed from Southampton to Zeebrugge for the market in Brussels. This was the first cruise after the ship's refit so we ... Read More
This was a Chrstmas present from my best friend..neither of us had cruised before so thought a good idea. We departed from Southampton to Zeebrugge for the market in Brussels. This was the first cruise after the ship's refit so we were looking forward to it. Initially it seemed very organised..park car, photos taken then stand in a long queue to check in. Finally on-board armed with our map..found cabin easily and overall impressions very good. We ate in the Beach Hut the first night..my friend had pre ordered a wine package...which they had no record of, so bought extra wine. On taking this problem with the staff they kept going on about vouchers..which we didn't have, and were apologetic. The food there was very good. We found, plus a lot of other passengers found most of the public areas very cold...to the extent..at breakfast some people had coats on. Breakfast was plentiful but our impression of most of the staff was lack of interest. We had manicures in the Spa on the Friday..staff were courteous and couldn't be more helpful. Departing the ship at Zeebrugge took forever, everyone queing up the stairs...we waited about 30 mins. Two hour coach ride to Brussels...and not impressed with the market. The next night ate in Sindu we which was excellent and staff were very attentive. Entertainment wise we saw a mediocre comedian but an excellent group c as Lord Britones. Disembarkation back at Southampton was very speedy..the reverse of menstruation. Not too sure would want to spend a week on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Went on a 3 night taster cruise in May and loved it. Took my family this weekend to show them that P&O was worth a try and leaving their regular cruise line. BIG Mistake - First the food; we like informal dining and after the first ... Read More
Went on a 3 night taster cruise in May and loved it. Took my family this weekend to show them that P&O was worth a try and leaving their regular cruise line. BIG Mistake - First the food; we like informal dining and after the first night there were two themed nights in the buffet restaurant - fish, and oriental. there was no alternative if you didn't like fish (or in my case are allergic to seafood), and when I asked if there was an alternative I was told to go to formal night, by a very rude head steward! The late night buffet was a few (not very fresh) finger sandwiches, chips and dried up pizza - definitely not up to other cruise line standards.the service was slowed down by having our cutlery and trays handed to us, and not being allowed to pour our own tea and coffee. Perhaps if the four staff they had allocated to this totally unnecessary task had been used to clear the tables they might have been cleared in a more timely manner The 'Brought in entertainment' Lynne Fredericks what a charmless insipid performer she was! So much so that we took my elderly father to watch her, and left to get ready for the evening, and he didn't even know she was singing. Highlight of the entertainment was Flyright a soul/motown/swing trio who entertained in every way and were excellent. The entertainment on the 'sea day' would never have encouraged anyone to go on a long cruise with lots of sea days. There was a dance class and quiz (at the same time) in the morning and then talks on on acupuncture, hair and feet!! I'm so disappointed with everything about this cruise, but the catering offering and service in the buffet were particularly bad and the attitude of the management in the buffet was simply unacceptable.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our first cruise. The previous year we have booked a 3 week cruise in eastern Med, but my wife was taken seriously ill for months so we had to cancel. We were both very apprehensive, I was desperate to switch off and ... Read More
This was our first cruise. The previous year we have booked a 3 week cruise in eastern Med, but my wife was taken seriously ill for months so we had to cancel. We were both very apprehensive, I was desperate to switch off and relax/unwind. My wife with all her aches and pains just wanted to know she would be comfortable, especially as we had to take a wheelchair (collapsible) and use it at times. Drove to Southampton, lovely lady took our keys and parked our car, porter carried our bag, I wheeled my wife, we were on the boat in around 15 minutes. I was stunned - speechless. Zero hassle. Very very friendly staff at shore (P&O please take note they were great !). Sat in the chair on the balcony, just honestly could not believe we were actually there. Trekked/Wheeled around the boat, no issues at all getting around, just the corridors where the rooms are were difficult to squeeze down with a wheelchair and meeting a trolley laden with towels (regular occurrence) but there's always a way around that. Food in the evening very good. We swapped to the early sitting (once we found we could do that). Wine started at £15 a bottle and tasted good. Service in restaurant generally very good. Orangery (buffet restaurant) very large, very busy, not so many staff - so did not go there much as we preferred a more quiet time. Crows Nest bar deck 13 at front of ship was lovely, I'd sit in the leather chair, enjoy a beer, watch the sea. Bliss ! Oh, and the breakfast in the Medina restaurant really was excellent each morning. We were in the other main restaurant for the evening meal (cannot remember name). Room was fine, a little bit cramped, but OK. Wife would prefer the mini-suite but if we booked that it would have been a whole heap more. Bed very comfy. Chap who maintained rooms (Sachin) very helpful. Bathroom surprisingly good (I was not really expecting much there). Boat sailed at night, which was lovely as it helped you sleep, the gentle slight rock as the boat sailed. Wife thought bought looked a bit tired - but it is going in for a refit in Nov 2014. I could see what she meant, but to me it was not an issue, I was just enjoying myself. Did our own thing at Zebrrugge, got the complimentary coach (wheelchair friendly) to the train station, then 6 euros each for a return to Brugges which was just 20 mins away. Then as we had the wheelchair we got a taxi from the station into the marketplace which was around 7.50 euros (I gave a tenner). What a truly lovely place, never thought it would be this good. I you have never been before, pop it on your list of things to do - you would not be disappointed ! Trip back to the boat was just as easy as the trip there. The one coach which was wheelchair friendly offered to be there at the station at an agreed time ! Sailed back to Southampton. Found out we had to be out of our cabins by about 8am (ish), people getting us off from the shore team were stupendous again, and were with us right up to the car as my wife was being wheeled around. We didn't actually go to any of the events in the evenings, so I cannot say anything to that. Driving home, past the ship, was fairly sad. Would have like to stay a lot longer. By the time we got home, I was determined to book next cruise. Found the perfect one, Canaries in January, but the balcony cabins and suites all gone. Gutted. There is only one other company which goes from Southampton in the good old English winter, and it doesn't look like they have any room either (only allow 6 people with wheelchairs - even though collapsible - and wife can walk a bit). So, there you go. I'm hooked, wife thinks they are fine. I want to book at least 2 a year now - so got to get a few extra jobs ! Especially if we have to book the mini suite type thing !! Anything negative ? Well there always going to be a few niggles in life. Both in the main restaurant for dinner, and the other for breakfast, if you ask for something out of the ordinary - or at the wrong time (glass of orange say at end of Breakfast) the waiters seemed to think that I'd asked them to walk on water as they had such a look of shock on their faces. Happened a couple of times for things. Waiters up in the Orangery were not exactly a happy bunch, but I get the feeling there were not enough staff there (funnily the main restaurants seemed to be over-staffed !). For new first time people like us, we were totally lost, with the amount of things you had to find out about.Our cabin had been prepared for another couple who had gotten upgraded to the mini-suite, so the format of our cabin was wrong, and the welcome pack and evening bookings were all addressed to them - no mention of us. Sachin fixed the room though, and I found the other people cruising on the boat so friendly and helpful we soon learnt the ropes ! Oh, and on day 2 we seemed to park up in the middle of no-where for a whole day with a bunch of tankers and container ships ? Odd ? How am I going to wait until April when more ships become available for the Canaries ??? Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Embarkation @ Southampton was brilliant. Cabin F235 ok for 2, very clean, you do need earplugs. We pre-booked speciality dining for 4 nights this was not necessary as we were given 8.30 dining we sat with 4 wonderful people. The food was ... Read More
Embarkation @ Southampton was brilliant. Cabin F235 ok for 2, very clean, you do need earplugs. We pre-booked speciality dining for 4 nights this was not necessary as we were given 8.30 dining we sat with 4 wonderful people. The food was fabulous much better than NCL which after 3 nights was still the same choice. The choice of menu was brilliant, so to the service. Basically no matter where you dine the food & service is fabulous. Entertainment bit like FAME. However, during sea days there was quite a lot to do, dancing lessons, cinema, board games, deck games. Some of the evening shows were in the disco area. On our ship we had around 200 children all well catered for with the Creche and special teas for them. Lots of small swimming pools, the ship was almost to capacity but as there were 200 little ones there was never a shortage of lounges. I did complain to the DJ Steve on the Tuesday evening by 10.30pm there were perhaps only 30 people in the bar he decided that he wanted an early night I think and basically gave up. When I asked him to liven up the music he said' what is the point, there are only few people in the bar', my answer "If the bar is open until 2.00pm then play the music until the last guest leaves' he was not happy. Basically Steve you need to smile a bit and give the impression that you like your job! Ports La Coruna, just take a walk for a couple of hours. The ship docks 10 minutes from the Old Town. If you want to see the Lighthouse' then you need the tour bus. Oporto. we had the guide, very interesting 3 hours non stop walking some of it up hill, near the end of the walk you will be shown the shop to purchase your Port. Tell the guide to carry on without you. The guide took us down the hill spoke to us briefly then said meet me back here in 40mins. so we had to walk all the way up the hill to buy the Port, then back again to meet the bus. When you buy the Port take it out of the box and check to see if you have a vintage date on the bottle to ensure value for money. Cadiz had to miss out you can only do one of them. Seville, fabulous but over 2 hours drive to get there, then only 3 hours to sightsee. But well worth going. Lisbon, great docking area 20 minutes to the Old Town and the Monastry but it is UP HILL we booked the tour to Estoril, a long way for 1 hour. We drove PAST the the Belem Tower then had 10 MINUTES at the Monument of Discoveries which was the only reason we booked this trip. When you dock you can pick up a taxi and drive perhaps 10 minutes to the M of Discoveries. My advice take the taxi. We left Lisbon on time to sail to Guernsey, beautiful evening. All of the 'Sail Aways' except Southampton we left late so the Sail Away party was a flop! Back to Lisbon, after we had been sailing for about 2 hours the Captain announced that a passenger was ill and that the ship was going to have to turn back to Lisbon. We sailed back waited for the ambulance boat and it was similar to a fishing boat, I would not have to be lifted off the ship and sailed back to the shore in a oversized dingy. Forget the helicopter, if you think you need 999 then do it before you embark! We waited nearly 2 hours for this to happen. Then we sailed. The captain then had to attempt to make up the time 6 hours in heavy seas. At 8.00am all was going well so we thought. Then at around 11.00 am the Captain announced that Guernsey was off due to lack of time. Many people were annoyed especially as they were not allowed to spend in the duty free shops. Why did he not inform people earlier? He went on AND on about the fact that it was beyond his control. We gather from his tone that many people had complained to him. OK but did he have to announce that he was the Captain and that on his ship 'HE WAS GOD' come on Captain, I accept you have a very important job but with all respect you are NOT GOD! Just to say sorry to disappoint everyone would have done. Buy the way nothing as yet from P & O. One lady had tried 3 previous cruises with P & O and all had failed to dock in Guernsey. When we looked into the figures it is almost impossible to sail from Lisbon to Guernsey get everyone off the ship into small boats and do the tours. One other passenger packed her bags when she heard and stayed in her cabin! Yes Guernsey was a pain but to Azura's credit ie the entertainment team especially Ailene ( Wonderful talented lady ) gave us extra shows so we made the best of it. Disembarkation a pain. We did leave on our allocated time 10.15am by the time we got to the baggage claim we were then in a long line for the taxis. Due to the poor design of the taxi rank only 2 taxis can take on passengers, it just needs a few line painted and it would allow at least 1 extra taxi. We then took 55 minutes to get to the main road. Nightmare road design. If you get 2 ships in then there is only a single road to get out of the port. We live 20 minutes from Southampton but it took us 2 hours to get off the ship and get home! Glad we were not taking a flight home! Would we sail with P & O again, yes. Sailed with NCL 3 times the no flight is wonderful. Thanks to Tamesh, Sylvia and Rose ( waiters ) and Ailene, good luck. PS Booze is very cheap. Lots of people took a bottle each of whiskey etc in their baggage we also saw many people after their tours arrive back with bottles and they did not have to check them in until the end of the cruise. We bought the wine package 'Commodre' good value. You can take the wine to the bar areas BUT you have to tell the wine waiter in the restaurants to arrange this   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I have sailed on P&O's Arcadia and Ventura and cruised with RCI,NCL, Cunard and Thomson. This cruise was a complete let down when compared to all of the other cruises I have been on. The food selection and quality is poor and the ... Read More
I have sailed on P&O's Arcadia and Ventura and cruised with RCI,NCL, Cunard and Thomson. This cruise was a complete let down when compared to all of the other cruises I have been on. The food selection and quality is poor and the organisation in the Orangery buffet restaurant was chaotic. We paid £12 each extra for the Pennant Grill (which is basically part of the outside deck of the buffet restaurant, with tablecloths). The food was ok but if you wanted certain menu items such as steak or strawberries you had to pay an extra £3 to £5 per item on top. The food wasn't even worth the extra money and I have eaten better in some of the main restaurants on other cruise lines. The ship is a smaller older ship, which we knew when we booked the cruise but there seems to be no atmosphere. The staff have to be the worst I have ever experienced. They seem miserable and uninterested and at times I felt like I was putting them out. I don't want to be waited on hand and foot but I have had better service in McDonalds. The only staff member who was pleasant and helpful was our Cabin Steward 'Glenn'. I was really glad this was only a 2 day cruise, I wouldn't like to spend any longer on this ship (perhaps the staff feel the same way and that is why they are so miserable). I feel very let down by this cruise, I traveled with 6 others experiencing their first cruise and feel I have let them down and should have suggested a different cruise. Save your money and precious holiday time and choose a different ship or cruiseline. P&O you need to sort things out on this ship, the standards aren't acceptable. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We have just returned from our first cruise from Cape Town to Southampton, and to be honest this was one of the most regrettable choices that we could have made. To list all the disappointing items would be a mammoth task, but here goes ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise from Cape Town to Southampton, and to be honest this was one of the most regrettable choices that we could have made. To list all the disappointing items would be a mammoth task, but here goes for the main ones: The food in the Medina restaurant was awful, our first meal of roast pork was inedible and quickly convinced us to try the Cafe Bordeaux the next day. We checked the Medina menu each day, and realized that the choice of food was basically very poor British type 1980 pub food. The alternative, cafe Bordeaux was not much better and this at a premium of Pound 9.50 per person preposterous. Food rarely reached the table hot, was certainly not fine dining, desserts were the same as those found in the Orangery. Coffee was worse than our nescafe in our cabin. In order to have a half decent cup of coffee we had to pay Pound 2.20 for a cup of Costa The entertainment aboard the ship from Cape Town was very limited, listening to an athletic champion of 1988 in 2014 was very poor to say the least. Discussion on the Big Five or the sonnets of Shakespeare became quickly the best way for afternoon naps. The captain was often funnier than the comedians. My partner tried watercolor lessons, but a 45 minute (contract from P&O) for over 40 people was a total waste of time if one was there to learn something. Line dancing, Bridge, cha cha cha, along with poor food, awful and expensive shore visits seemed to be a very expensive first time cruise holiday, which we will clearly not do again. Luckily we had paid for and received a good cabin with an excellent steward that enabled us to spend a great deal of time playing solitaire, reading and longing for home cooking and finally being able to leave the ship. ( I dread to think what the passengers that have basic inside cabins without a balcony could be doing ) We will add this letter to the growing dissatisfied P&O forums, so really do suggest that you listen to the complaints, maybe invite Marco Pierre White to take the ship more often, maybe incognito? Finally having to pay 30 Pound for 100 minutes of internet time is the biggest rip off of the century, back in Southampton there is free WiFi on a local bus!!!. And in most hotels and guesthouses.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We found getting on and off the ship easy and stress free. This was our first cruise and therefore we were uncertain was to expect. Whilst the ship's facilities were positive and the activity schedule appeared to cater for various ... Read More
We found getting on and off the ship easy and stress free. This was our first cruise and therefore we were uncertain was to expect. Whilst the ship's facilities were positive and the activity schedule appeared to cater for various entertainment options, I did find initially there was a lack of information, I felt as if I could do with a mini guide to cruising to help when I initially got on the ship. Day's 2 and 3 were better as we then had a newspaper that listed activities. In regard to food, unfortunately, I was generally disappointed. We were on second sitting, which meant that we were eating at 8.30pm, we arrived at 8.26pm on the first evening to be turned away. The food lacked imagination and flare. It is very bulk standard as was the service. They clearly wanted to rush us, so they could finish work, which was not create a pleasant experience. On the third night, I upgraded to a paid for restaurant, which was better, although still a long way from fine dining but the service was much improved. Our cabin was clean and adequate and our cabin assistant, helpful and friendly as were the staff in the casino and those taking photos, in the cinema and reception. The staff that unfortunately let the side down were the bar and catering team. Generally, overall I enjoyed the experience but for us, now we have been once, we would be more informed of what may suit us moving forward and will try a different cruise line in order to compare. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Having previously cruised extensively with P&O we were very disappointed at the continual decline in what this company actually achieves whilst still promising a whole lot more. Every previous passenger without exception agreed that ... Read More
Having previously cruised extensively with P&O we were very disappointed at the continual decline in what this company actually achieves whilst still promising a whole lot more. Every previous passenger without exception agreed that P&O cut back on what they were offering or were now charging for what was previously a given. A little for instance, they still serve petit fours after a meal but they're not worth the time even eating, so poor is the offering. The food is at best adequate, nothing at all outstanding, the meat is fatty the fish dry and the veggies laughable. Many of the crew and officers have been quite candid in agreeing that standards and quality has diminished, unfortunately the price hasn't !!! It's as if a smart Alec accountant has been through the ship and cut out or down any of the signature attractions P&O once had. This is not a cruise line that I would recommend to anyone expecting the "P&O ' experience, it's at best a 3 star offering, being promoted as a something more. The captain and the cruise Director both invited comment before we all left to comment on Cruise critic but the fact is neither is really interested or able to do anything positive. It's all a big sell. The cruise director was thought by many to be somewhat churlish in his attitude, which I am in full agreement with. Unfortunately he also thought he should treat the passengers like children too. My comment ?? Wake up P&O and start delivering what you are promising Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Surprised to see a virtually empty terminal for embarkation at 12.30, checked in and on board in 15 minutes!! The Captain did warn of storm force 7 or 8 on the first night and boy he was right, heavy seas and high winds made for a very ... Read More
Surprised to see a virtually empty terminal for embarkation at 12.30, checked in and on board in 15 minutes!! The Captain did warn of storm force 7 or 8 on the first night and boy he was right, heavy seas and high winds made for a very bumpy night and following day, it wasn`t much better until late afternoon when it did calm down. Although around half the ship seemed to be stricken with sea sickness, i thought Aurora coped very well in the conditions compared to other ships we have sailed on. Vigo was stop number one, being a Sunday very little was open, but its quite a nice place to walk around, the weather was lovely around 23 degrees and sunny. Lisbon was stop number two, a busy city centre with a wide variety of shops and historical buildings, heavy police presence around the city, which we found quite re-assuring, given that Lisbon is well known for pick pocketing and petty crime, another hot sunny day after a cloudy start. Day at sea, warm and sunny with Dolphins swimming in the sea, wonderful sight!! Guernsey was supposed to be stop number three, but due to heavy sea swell the tenders from the ship were unable to operate safely, disappointing for us as it was the only port on the cruise we had not visited before, but we could see from our cabin the test run of the tenders and they were not coping at all well in the swell. The Captain made the decision to abandon the call and headed for Le Havre, the next destination, for an overnight stop. Le Havre has a great shopping mall "Les Docks" with many major designer stores and other retail outlets. The Town centre is rather spread out and a lot of leg work needed to negotiate the area. Pretty dreary day, cloudy and not that warm either for an August day. Right, the ship itself, its our first time on Aurora and not sure what to expect given the wildly differing reviews. In our opinion its not in desperate need for a re-fit, some public room furnishings are looking a bit tired, but nothing drastic. The duty free shop on board is a big bonus, Lite bottles of spirits for £10.00!! The other shops are Mayfair and Piccadilly which sell a range of clothing, gifts, perfumes etc at fairly high prices. The other little shop sells day to day items such as sweets, crisps, also a range of toiletries. Dining on board we found to be generally very good, the main restaurants were busy and the food very good, The Orangery for more casual evening dining was a bit hit and miss, average food with average quality, the breakfasts and lunches were much better. The Cafe Bordeaux was well worth the £7.50 a head surcharge for dinner, quality and service was supreme, has Marco Pierre White quality stamped all over it. Also we tried the Pennant Grill for dinner, again a surcharge but again well worth it, open decked restaurant, a very mild evening, excellent quality food served by willing waiters, would recommend to try dining here. Overall all the staff were helpful and with a smile, our cabin steward was very good, he done the job efficiently without ever being intrusive, top marks. We did have a water cut off one morning to the cabin due to a blockage elsewhere, but were un-affected by this, as we were off ship when the problem was rectified. Entertainment on board is generally very good, with two theatres providing evening entertainment and something going on in most other bars day and night. Seems a more relaxed ship than some others we have sailed on with P and O, child friendly with plenty to do for the younger ones, all in all a very enjoyable cruise despite missing the Guernsey stop. Please do not take any notice of other comments criticising this ship, there are no major problems, cabins are modern, bright and clean, more TV channels also added, food and entertainment is good, book without hesitation, we will definitely be sailing again on Aurora Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
The Aurora is medium size so lacks the comprehensive facilities of ships such as the Independence of However its size allows access to ports with shallower waters hence the visit to Olden (Norway). The food was top restaurant grade in ... Read More
The Aurora is medium size so lacks the comprehensive facilities of ships such as the Independence of However its size allows access to ports with shallower waters hence the visit to Olden (Norway). The food was top restaurant grade in the Medina restaurant formal dining yet mediocre in the Orangery which is buffet-style eating. Yet drinks seem very expensive especially given the tax-free nature of being at sea - a double whisky for £5 etc. Excursions too were expensive - White Water Rafting £80 per person for a few hours trip... definitely more expensive than Royal Caribbean. Example. April 2011 - 3 adults 1 child 11 night cruise - spending £420 August 2012 - 1 adult 1 child 7 nights - spending £377 (yet no excursions or ship photo purchase) The waiters and cabin crew were very attentive and work flat out yet some seemed too familiar and chatty even resorting to using your first name rather than Title and Surname. Perhaps a hint of disobedience given the recent strike by P and O staff on another ship...? Myself and son enjoyed dancing til early hours - plenty of space to as most customers were over 50/60 + so werent even seen after 10.30 pm but the shows were quite tame and mostly dance related - nothing "big time" even digging out some BeeGee lookalike called Maurice Grumbleweed... Though worth a try - Royal Caribbean defintely has the edge with ships like the Independence of the Seas and better value for money both the cruise and the spending onboard. This ship more suits the older cruisers , people with children should look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
I and 5 friends set sail for a two night mini cruise on the P&O Aurora, Southampton to Bruges mid-November. Although the embarkation line was long, it did move quickly. In fact we were on board and having lunch in under an hour of ... Read More
I and 5 friends set sail for a two night mini cruise on the P&O Aurora, Southampton to Bruges mid-November. Although the embarkation line was long, it did move quickly. In fact we were on board and having lunch in under an hour of joining the queue. My single cabin C102 was very comfortable. However I'd say you would be a bit hard pushed for space if it was sold as a double. The "White Company" toiletries were a real nice touch. The ship itself is very clean, lots of open deck space including a full wrap around deck (all with teak floors) and modern public lounge areas. For a mid-size ship, there were plenty of bars and lounges to hang-out and relax. Although this was only a two nighter, the second evening was a" formal dinner". That meant trying to pack a full, formal dinner suite into a small carry-on weekend trolley bag... Something I think is a little over the top for such a short trip. But it was fun nonetheless to dress up. The food on both occasions was tasty, presented well and the lobster on formal night went down very well. One thing I did notice different to the American lines is that the waiters make a bit of a "thing" if you ask to have more than one item of a particular choice. So getting a lobster and a steak or even two starters brings with it a real sense of "ummmmmmmm" wellllllll I'll have to ask! Another difference we all noticed was the friendliness of the staff. Don't get me wrong, all the staff did what they needed to do, but that was it.... The staff didn't seem to be able to have a laugh with you, have a joke with you or have any understanding of what it was you were talking to them about (if it wasn't to do with the task you had them do... i.e. bring you a drink from the bar). They often just looked at you and walked away. I have to say, doing a cruise longer than 2 nights with this sort of customer service fills me with dread, I think I'll stick to an american style service. I can't comment on what the ship tours of Bruges were like as I didn't get off the ship. Instead I managed to spend a few hours swimming in the heated pools and hot tubes, very relaxing indeed. The age ranged from the very young running around in nappies to the very old, snoozing in any area that had a couch. Given there were lots of stag and hen groups, the bars were often in full swing by late afternoon. Even the staff in the all night disco, were given their run for their money on both nights. So much so extra staff was needed to cope with a full house of party goers. As they say "all good things must come to an end", so I guess this cruise was no different. Yes I would cruise with P&O again but if it was for a cruise longer than a few days, I'll most probably choose an American line or Cunard first. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Aurora Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 3.9
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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