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8 P&O Cruises Aurora Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

Cruise chosen as a way of seeing the Caribbean and enjoying lengthy times at sea. Ship is a fantastic ocean going vessel and rides it so well. That's where it ends. Very tired and plain looking even after a recent refit. the ... Read More
Cruise chosen as a way of seeing the Caribbean and enjoying lengthy times at sea. Ship is a fantastic ocean going vessel and rides it so well. That's where it ends. Very tired and plain looking even after a recent refit. the biggest disappointment was the food. You would never starve but boring, bland old peoples food. No taste, no flavour etc.. I suppose they are catering for the age of the traveller(79 on this cruise). Even Sindhu served a Rogan Josh that had rubbery beef and NO chilli. No heat at all. Similar in the Medina and buffet(school cafeteria). The beach house served overdone lobster and scallops(twice, so disappointing) especially paying for the privilege. Having sailed on Celebrity Solstice previously the food was a major letdown. Dont go if food taste is a requirement. Plenty of areas to hide away. Crows nest is good. Peroni draught in Champions cold and fair priced at 4.95 Pint. If your a big drinker take your own spirits on. Friends took 12 litres of Vodka on an and took it on deck in water bottles. Bought mixers for a pound and you have a cheap drink. The real secret is the glass house. Very underused. The wines and champers are better and same price or cheaper than the bars. The food here is exceptional and worth paying extra for. Cabin ok, windows dusty internally. Be careful on longer cruises as the ages go up and the disabled are everywhere. Wheelchairs, walkers etc so all lifts are slow. Use the stairs. It is a worry how many disabled are really quite mobile when fighting over chicken legs, port days etc.. P&O again. Not for us Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We travelled down from Lancashire the day before sailing and stayed in the Holiday Inn at Eastleigh. This was a comfortable hotel and a relaxing start to the cruise. Boarding was stress free as we had priority boarding and we were on ship ... Read More
We travelled down from Lancashire the day before sailing and stayed in the Holiday Inn at Eastleigh. This was a comfortable hotel and a relaxing start to the cruise. Boarding was stress free as we had priority boarding and we were on ship before noon and enjoying the complimentary champagne and lunch in Carmens. We had our hands squirted with gel 5 times before we actually got into Carmens. Cabins were ready for 2pm and we were pleasantly surprised by how clean it was and the amount of storage. It is a few years since we last had an inside cabin but as the balconies on this ship are at a premium we decided to book inside. The cabin was compact but it did fit everything in and we had taken a lot. Our cabin steward was friendly and professional as were all of the crew we came into contact with. The Captain Neil Turnbull was a character and probably the most informative Captain we have sailed with. His influence on the crew was apparent and it was a happy ship. Lots of different venues on this ship with many choices of entertainment. Large Cinema, theatre, show lounge, nightclub, crows nest, and various bars. We sampled them all during the 22 nights we were on board. The show lounge Carmens has a super dance floor and most nights there was ballroom dancing in there to a live group or CDs. The theatre shows were very energetic but this is an older ship and the theatre productions were more limited than on the newer ships. The Cabaret artistes were varied but no big names for a Christmas cruise. We had booked 1st sitting dining as we enjoy the evening entertainment and find there are more choices for early diners. We ate in the Alexandra restaurant on a table for 6. Great table companions and the food was probably the best MDR food we have encountered. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the alternative dining restaurants. These were very mixed in our opinion and not up to the same standard as the other ships in the fleet. The weather was rough up to Madeira and the ship hit many pot holes. I am not a good sailor but managed okay with over the counter medication. After Madeira the weather was sunny and got warmer each day. There were many sea days and lots of activities around the ship. We wanted a lazy relaxing cruise so didn't attend any of the day time activities. The pool areas were quite small for sun worshipers but the aft desks make up for this with lots of spaces for beds and chairs. The prom deck is wide which is also a bonus. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very special with carol services, and the children watching out for Father Christmas. The Christmas Eve deck party was great fun with live music and dancing. Nothing better than spending Christmas Day on a sun lounger with a bottle of Champagne. At the ports of call which in the Caribbean were Barbados, Antigua, Tortola and St Maarten, we did our own thing. The trips were expensive and as we had been to all the islands many times decided to DIY. New Years Eve there was a deck party again. This was well attended and the Captain counted in the New year. Not sure what time the party went on till but early hours of the morning. On the return journey the weather was warm and sunny right up to the day before Southampton. We should have called at the Azores but this was changed to a 1/2 day call in Madeira due to a passenger becoming seriously ill after we left the Caribbean. Overall we liked the Aurora but it is in need of some TLC. There were strange smells in the corridors and buckets made regular appearances to catch water dripping from the light sockets. We were on C deck so not sure if this is the only deck with this problem. I think that we prefer fly cruising as this means more port of calls but this was certainly a relaxing cruise. Disembarkation was a breeze because we had priority and were off the ship by 08:30 collected the luggage without problems and car from CPS and were on the road before 9am. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Oh dear Oh dear. We have cruised now with P&O for around 8 years, our previous sailing four years ago on board Oriana from Southampton to the Caribbean and back. Our Son got married on board and we had a wonderful time despite a storm ... Read More
Oh dear Oh dear. We have cruised now with P&O for around 8 years, our previous sailing four years ago on board Oriana from Southampton to the Caribbean and back. Our Son got married on board and we had a wonderful time despite a storm at sea. There was plenty of things to do and the entertainment and food on board was varied and of good quality. Two years ago we went with friend on a Mediterranean cruise on board Royal Caribbean and although the ship was good, we praised at the time to our friends to try and used P&O as we felt it was so much better. How can a company change so much in four years. Read on. Our first encounter was with the boarding disruption at Southampton. After travelling some two hours a distance of nearly 135 miles, one didn't expect to have to wait in a traffic hold up at the port entrance to the ship in an hour of traffic. This we we're first told was due to excess luggage after the world cruise and then to be told of a computer failure. The first excuse doesn't really hold true as this wouldn't have been the first time a cruise ship has returned from a world cruise, and the second excuse a feeble one unless the computers has not been checked or maintained (This comes from my son in law an IT whiz kid). It was a complete shambles and not a good start to the holiday. When we eventually boarded we quickly explored the ship and ended up near the Crystal pool where the dome that is clearly advertised as "She even has one pool which can be covered by a sky dome" was being repaired and hand winched closed. This was really unsatisfactory as it was hand winched open and left open in all weathers, which proved a problem on one evening when the pool party that had to be held around the other pool, finished prematurely because rain stopped play,,,,,,,,,, Literally. Over the period of our holiday there was little to keep most people we spoke to from young to elderly amused. The resident show theatre company we're of good standard and worked hard to entertain, but most of the guest acts of board were terrible. We have at home better street buskers than most of the acts were on board. We had to contend with a West End female vocalist that took great pleasure in informing everyone who she had rubbed shoulders with on her outstanding career and a Singer Songwriter who's claim to fame was writing, or co-writing a song for Barry Maniloe which incidentally was many years ago, and again took great pleasure in telling everyone how wonderful he was. The fact was that several people walked out of the Curzon Theatre and many more that I assume did not see him on his first performance, walked out on his second appearance at the Carmen's venue. He could not only crucify any song with his singing but even managed to destroy any credibility of piano playing with a Ragtime number. The most annoying and totally inappropriate artist was the after dinner speaker ex MP. This was conveniently placed to make sure everyone had an early night, as after watching a show at one end of the ship to go to the other end to listen to him, he killed the evenings dancing which followed. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to book an after dinner speaker who boasted of his serving on the government, boasted of his political party and boasted of his involvement of Dyson cleansers to the point of stating that P&O's use of the "Henry" hoovers was a huge mistake because they chuck loads of dust out and that we all should buy Dyson ones. And the truly tropical Caribbean style band. Or not. Apparently the leader of the band had a passport that was under six months expiry and missed the ship at Southampton. Now common sense would be find another band suitable through the hundreds of agencies in the UK and fly them out to the Azores. Simple. But oh no, the band was eventually flown out to Barbados and we celebrated Caribbean music after leaving Barbados and on route back to Madeira. Very apt. Who actually picks the acts? And do they only get them from agencies and not see who they have booked. I work with dramatics and have had some experience in booking acts for clubs, I only booked an act that I had seen, not on an agencies recommendation (they are going to be biased as they want a booking, and I'm sure that I could have done a better job. The food was fantastic with a great selection and reasonable portions in the restaurant's, but this was four years ago. On this occasion the food was good but the quantity and selections, especially in the "Orangery" was poor compared to four years ago. I know that everyone is trying to cut costs, but there does come a point when people notice, and we were not alone. The only people we spoke to throughout our holiday that were none the wiser were first time cruisers. The ship was looking tatty with worn carpets, lighting bulbs broken, hand dryers not working and general dEcor shabby. We have cruised before on Oriana and although an older ship, she was beautifully kept. Now to P&O's first Lady Captain. Sarah Bretton! Did she and her staff have a personal hygiene phobia or do they all have highly contagious skin conditions? As when a hand of anyone was put out in the Formal Captain pictures to shake it was evident that this is not acceptable. And when I had a photo taken with me one side and my wife the other, my wife said to the Captain "is this ok" referring to the distance next to the Captain for a photo, to be told, "that's far enough". Also whilst speaking to a regular frequent traveller who was a gold member and had spoken to one of the Officers on board, said that they had been instructed not to shake hands with guests. Before I am given some mundane excuse as to why this is not done, take a look at your in-cabin advertisement for the Azura. Does it not show a sociable captain and officers mixing with their guests. If the captain in her wisdom doesn't like bodily contact then why not wear gloves or have a hand cleanser to hand, after all the whole ships guests have at least three hand cleanses a day with the sanitary hand cleanser. And another point is if the Captain doesn't want to get infected, I assume she doesn't touch any part of the ship, including the glasses she and her officers drink from. I am not a smoker, but respect the areas set aside on board for smokers. This rule apparently doesn't apply to ships officers who made a brief visit to the pool night party. Non-smokers on the Starboard side, smokers on the port side and smoking officers who were apparently exempt, in the bar in the middle which incidentally didn't have ashtrays, so where did the ash go? The Pools have Jacuzzis. I can understand that the pool in bad weather condition's is closed for safety, but why were the Jacuzzis affected. Or more to the point one. It was drained and left emptied and out of action for several days until it was refilled again. And a final gripe, the Dance room ( Carmen's) placed very strategically at the Stern of the ship. I'm no expert on ship control but common sense would suggest that the venue in the rough sea conditions would be very unstable at the stern. The Discotheque was placed midship. No-one, and I mean No-one was using it until the early hours so why not make full use of the venue by changing the programme. Common senses again. In conclusion both myself and wife found the whole experience this time with P & O a shambles. There is only so much you can cut back on and sadly in the four years in which we have not used P & O it shows immensely . With more and more companies using Southampton as a base and all competitively priced, I can foresee that P & O will suffer unless a rethink is in hand. Don't get us wrong, we love cruising, but this experience has somewhat marred P & O's credibility as one of the top. And this would be such a shame. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We arrived at Bolton bus station at 7-15am in plenty of time to board an Eavesway coach to Southampton, the coach arrived at about 7-30 and we left 15 minutes late at 8-00am due to two people not turning up. Our driver was very informative ... Read More
We arrived at Bolton bus station at 7-15am in plenty of time to board an Eavesway coach to Southampton, the coach arrived at about 7-30 and we left 15 minutes late at 8-00am due to two people not turning up. Our driver was very informative and polite and the coach was very comfortable,we did one stop on the M6 toll for one hour and arrived at Southampton at 1-30pm to be met by massive queues , as we pulled up Carol Marlow boarded our coach and after introducing herself explained the reason behind the queues , the reasons being given were that the Aurora had arrived back in Southampton after a world cruise and there were over 7 thousand items of luggage to unload which took longer than expected and then once boarding started one of the photo machines had broken down, she apologised and wished us a pleasant cruise, it then took us two hours in a queue to board the ship. I suppose these things can happen and from the comments from other cruisers it was the first time it had happened to them so not a good start to our first cruise but thought that things can only get better.We had a Balcony cabin on A deck or deck 11 to give ti its proper title, the cabin was spotless,roomy , tea coffee making facilities and all the information we needed to know about absolutely everything on the ship.Then we explored the ship for a few hours, having to look at the maps on the walls at every other corner and was still having to check the maps at times two week later.It was now time to go back to our cabin to get ready for dinner for second sitting, we arrived at our table for eight and met our fellow table guests for the next 21 days and we could not of wished for three nicer couples for our companions.After a lovely first meal we gave the theatre a miss on the first night as we were told that it was mainly an introduction to the cast and just a little bit of a show so went to explore some of the bars with a drink in each one (why not) then retired to a very comfy bed after a tiresome day.Our first port was Ponta Delgada in the Azores, it is a very nice port and we got lovely weather but not a great deal to explore.A five day sail now to Tortola and the first day was quite rough but the captain did warn us three days before that this was going to be a rough day but the rest of the sailing was quite smooth and the weather got better and warmer each day.In Tortola now and this was also a nice port but cannot comment on the town itself as we went on a privately charted catamaran which was unbelievable with three stops at coral reefs for snorkeling and swimming amongst thousands of multi coloured fish (amazing), at one stop we also had lunch and drinks all included in the price, the weather was beautiful with no wind at all so we could,nt put up the sails (boo).Our next port was Antigua where we just explored the town and its culture which was eye opening at times, plenty of shops and cafes and even an hemp shop, another beautiful day weather wise.Our next port was St Vincent and I must say if you go here then book a tour as there is nothing at all at this port of call and if I went to the Caribbean again I would do a cruise which was not doing this port.In St Martin today, I went yacht racing I can highly recommend it, this was three hours long so explored the town for the rest of the day, there is a beautiful beach a short walk from the cruise terminal and bars all along the beach then behind the line of bars is the shopping centre with all the famous jewellery shops among them. My favourite island.Our last island in the Caribbean was Barbados, we booked another catamaran here and another amazing day swimming with shoals of thousands of fish again then onto another spot to swim with the turtles which came so close that you could stroke them, the weather could of been better but only a few heavy showers spoiled it, explored the town for a few hours and plenty of shops cafes and people.A six day sail now to Madeira, a very good crossing and plenty going on in the ship to see and do, my first time at all of these islands and what a beautiful place Funchal is and Madeira in general and another great day with the weather.If anyone is planning to go on the cable car then it is a nice pleasant walk to the cable terminal and just 15 Euros so much cheaper than the ship.The last three days sailing to Southampton was like sailing on a mill pond and was sun bathing right up to the last day.All in all a great ship , I would rate the food as good but could of been better, there was over one hundred kids on board but hardly ever seen them or heard them if I had any complaints it would be the age old one of the saving of sunbeds. A great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
All started so well, got to the airport good check in, flight by thomas cook was fine,the check in at Barbados was quick and efficient. We then got on the Azura which is a big ship. Cabin was fine and clean, The problems started when we ... Read More
All started so well, got to the airport good check in, flight by thomas cook was fine,the check in at Barbados was quick and efficient. We then got on the Azura which is a big ship. Cabin was fine and clean, The problems started when we went to get some food. The self service dinning was not good, the selection was poor.The evening meal had no alternitive which i have never experianced in all the cruises i have taken. One day my wife asked for a bananna for breakfast and was told that they did not have, she asked for the head guy and after a while he brought her a bananna which looked as it had been on the ship longer than us. The entertainment was very amateurish the singers were not good and the dancers were out of time. I found the front desk staff the most unhelpful i have ever had on a cruise ship. The bar staff hover over you as soon as you find a seat and are most unhelpful, one evening my brother in law asked for a Crabbies ginger beer the waiter said we dont have any go to another bar, Not sorry sir we have run out but iff you would like i will go and find one at another bar. I found the staff not well trained at there jobs. I will never take another trip on P&O as all they are after is your money. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
AURORA CHRISTMAS 2010 CRUISE - A COMEDY OF ERRORS Let me start by saying that despite the "Comedy of Errors", overall the cruise was very enjoyable and being able to travel to the Caribbean and back from Southampton is very ... Read More
AURORA CHRISTMAS 2010 CRUISE - A COMEDY OF ERRORS Let me start by saying that despite the "Comedy of Errors", overall the cruise was very enjoyable and being able to travel to the Caribbean and back from Southampton is very relaxing - no airports - no long flights and no jet lag. There were however many areas where P&O need to improve. SOUTHAMPTON Checking in at Southampton was fairly straightforward. Those with "Gold" status looking forward to their priority check-in were disappointed if they arrived early. Their large numbers meant they had to wait in a long queue. It was immediately obvious that the ease with which one could travel to and from the Caribbean over Christmas and the New Year, attracts those with disabilities, or of an age where flying is no longer an option. The number of passengers in wheelchairs, scooters, or with walking frames was a sight to behold and at times the ship did resemble a floating care home. Before those of us, who are still relatively mobile, moan about these people getting in our way, we should remember that if we live long enough, we will all eventually reach this stage in our lives. It must also be remembered that every one of us, however fit we may be, however young we may be, could be in a wheelchair tomorrow, through no fault of our own. Just because a disability affects someone's mobility does not necessarily mean it has affected their brain and intellect. They are still entitled to enjoy holidays. Once on board we were advised that the cabins would be ready by 14:00. In the meantime, lunch was available in the Orangery. All fairly civilised, with only few who wanted to push and shove, in case the food ran out - which it did not. CABIN. Our cabin was ready early. This being our third time on Aurora, we were pleased to see that the cabin furnishings remained in very good condition with little sign of wear. Two large wardrobes are provided, plus three chests of drawers. The beds have relatively soft, comfortable mattresses. If used as two singles as opposed to a double, they are very narrow and looking at the size of some of the grossly overweight passengers (sorry, but they were), they may have found them much too small. Fairly narrow duvets are provided, but there are soft cotton duvet covers and sheets. The duvets are also very short. Anyone over 5' 8" tall would find them much too short. The small foam filled pillows will not be to everyone's liking. The shower room (we had an inside cabin) was also in good decorative order. There was always a constant supply of hot water. The thermostatic shower was not very efficient at maintaining the water temperature, which tended to fluctuate. The shower did not drain away quickly enough and tended to flood the rest of the floor. We mentioned this and it was cured within a few days. After a week the drains started to smell and despite them being inspected and regular drain cleaner being poured down them, they continued to emit an unpleasant smell. We have had other types of cabin on different decks in the past and the drains always seem to be a problem. Good quality, generously sized towels are provided. The White Company bath and shower gel is provided, together with shampoo and conditioner. There is a hair dryer at the dressing table. As with other ships and many hotels, they do not provide even one light bright enough for shaving or applying makeup. There was a personal letter in the cabin addressed to us saying we should attend the Safety Meeting. ERROR 1. The letter stated we should go to Muster Station "A", the Curzon Theatre at 16:00. I thought this strange, as in "Horizon", the daily sheet, it stated the Safety Meeting was at 16:45. I telephoned Reception and queried the time and explained the discrepancy. I was assured that 16:00 was the correct time. I also queried the Muster Station, as the sticker on the cabin door said our Muster Station was "B" and "B" was marked on our lifejackets. I was told we must go to Muster Station "A" at 16:00. We duly sat in the Curzon Theatre at 16:00, with about 10 other passengers, who had also been told to be there at 16:00. Everyone else, including the crew, turned up at 16:45!! We were also told we were in the wrong Muster Station, even when we showed them the letter!! MADEIRA The original cruise itinerary and final itinerary, sent just prior to the cruise, stated we would spend the afternoon of Monday 20th December and the whole of the following day, in Madeira. ERROR 2. We did not arrive in Madeira until the Monday evening. I asked the Captain about this change of itinerary and he said that as far as he was concerned it was always the intention to arrive in the evening. He pointed out that it was impossible to do otherwise, as Oriana was scheduled to be on our berth and would not leave until Monday evening. In other words, P&O were fully aware that we would not arrive until the evening, but did not feel it necessary to advise the passengers of the change to the printed itinerary. Shuttle buses were provided to take us the short distance into the town. The day was spoilt by frequent heavy rain showers, but this cannot be blamed on P&O. ERROR 3. We were provided with a printed "Cruise Overview" listing where we would be each day and the main items of entertainment each day. This publication showed us to be in Madeira on Monday 20th December and at sea on the 21st (as did the chart displayed next to the Crows Nest), the day we were actually in Madeira. The days in the "Cruise Overview" jumped from Thursday 30th December to Saturday 31st December, which was in fact a Friday. From then on the days of the week were incorrect. I did mention the inaccuracies to the Cruise Director. Her reply was "Oh, no one (other members of the crew) has mentioned it to me" - probably because it is a common problem and they saw nothing unusual. ERROR 4. The Horizon daily sheet often had glaring mistakes. For instance, we had one headed Wednesday 22nd December followed the next day by Wednesday 23rd December. The film listed as being shown in the cinema was sometimes different from the one advertised outside the cinema. By this stage I am sure you may think I am nit picking and being pedantic, but when you are on a ship, particularly with many days at sea, it can all become a blur and you lose track of the day of week. It would be helpful if the ships publications can at least get the information right. BARBADOS. Of the 6 ships docked in Barbados, 5 were in the cruise terminal and we were in the commercial flour mill dock. Shuttle buses were provided, but these took us to the cruise terminal, not the town, which was about a mile away. ERROR 5. We had watched the Port Talk and heard about the good shopping and how the sales would have started. What we were not told, is that it was a public holiday and all the shops were closed, as were most of the bars and cafes. We were also recommended to visit the large craft centre. This was also closed. Had P&O not changed the itinerary a few weeks prior to departure, we would have been in Barbados on New Years Eve, when the shops would be open. ST LUCIA. Instead of being docked in the town, we were docked across the harbour. A very pleasant terminal, but a walk of about a mile to the town, with no shuttle bus provided. P&O had issued a Press Release:- "P&O Cruises passengers will have free of charge shuttle buses provided in ports of call where it is not possible to walk into town from Monday November 1, 2010. P&O Cruises managing director, Carol Marlow, said: "Where possible our ships will dock at the heart of the destination so passengers can explore on foot but when this is not possible we want to make it as easy as we can for our passengers to make the most of their time ashore." When I mentioned this press release I was told "P&O liked to support the local businesses" and the policy did not apply to the Caribbean. No such caveat was stated in the Press Release. If they like to support local businesses, they should pay for the shuttle buses, not expect us to pay for a taxi. ST MAARTEN. We docked in the cruise terminal in St Maarten which is well over a mile from the town and no shuttle buses were provided. As the weather was overcast with very heavy rain showers all day, a walk into town was out of the question. ST KITTS. Heavy rain showers continued in St Kitts, but we docked in the terminal which was directly adjacent to the town with good access. ANTIGUA. Again, docked in the cruise terminal adjacent to the town with good access. Warm sun all day and a good end to our Caribbean island visits. AZORES. Docked in the cruise terminal adjacent to the town, with good access. SOUTHAMPTON. How nice to be able to stay in your cabin until 10am, enabling you to have a relaxed breakfast in the Medina restaurant. Well done P&O. Once you are off the ship in the Mayflower Terminal, you descend into disorganised chaos. Firstly there is only one small lift for all those elderly and disabled passengers to get to ground level. As a result there is a very long queue. One elderly man in front of me was too impatient to wait for the lift and went down the escalator, only to fall near the bottom. As a result the escalator was turned off, delaying the rest of us while it was reset and started again. Then there are the porters. They do not consider they should queue up to exit the terminal, but push in at the head of the queue, thus delaying other passengers. Chaos outside, because taxis are blocking all the lanes, preventing others from driving away. Never mind, it still beats airports!! AURORA DINING. Aurora still has traditional "Club Dining" with silver service. Two sittings, at 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Although the standard on the food has declined over the years, there was always a very good choice at dinner, with a selection of starters, soups and different meat and fish main courses, plus a vegetarian option, followed by a variety of desserts, plus ice creams. A selection of cheeses was also available. A rather strange dish was always offered after the coffee, such a welsh rarebit or sardines. A strange way to finish a meal. We asked our waiter, from whom we received very good service, if anyone ever ordered this additional dish. "Not yet!" was the reply. So, overall, fairly good food on offer, but certainly not fine dining. The alternative dining in the evening was in the Pennant Grill or Cafe Bordeaux, where a small charge applied. £8,50 or thereabouts, I believe, plus supplements for some dishes. Also available was a themed buffet in the Orangery each night. As we found the food and company on our table more than acceptable, we did not eat elsewhere. During the day Cafe Bordeaux is open for a limited breakfast service, a limited lunch menu and also through the night. There is no charge at these times. We found the standard of the food at lunchtime was not as good as in previous years. As a result we tended to eat in the Medina restaurant at lunchtime, where there was always a good section on the menu. We found that on many occasions the standard of the food was better than in the evenings, perhaps due to greater care being taken with a smaller number of diners. We also ate breakfast in the Medina restaurant, where a varied selection of food was available, generally of good quality. The service was often very slow. Tea in Medina was also an occasional treat. At the Orangery, buffet breakfast, lunch and tea was available. At busy times seating space was very limited. There was also the Sidewalk cafe which served the likes of burgers, fish and chips and sandwiches during the day. DRINKS. The prices charged for the drinks were very reasonable and far less than on other cruise lines. In addition, no service charge is added. For instance, bottles of wine were available from around £12.00. Cocktails from £2.95. HYGENE. After previous outbreaks of Norovirus on Aurora, it was good to see you were "invited" to use the hand gel when entering the main restaurants. This worked well, with the normal offenders not able to avoid the restaurant staff holding gel dispensers. The weak link, as usual, was the Orangery. There were gel dispensers at each entrance but there were always those who ignored them. These are probably the same passengers seen leaving the ladies and gents toilets without washing their hands!! When these same people have used the tongs and spoons to serve their food in front of you, the whole system fails. On the occasions that we ate in the Orangery, we would use our own supply of hand gel after serving ourselves. As a result we did not suffer even the mildest stomach upset during the whole cruise. CONCLUSIONS. As I said at the outset, overall a very enjoyable cruise. However it would have been so much better if P&O did not adopt such a cavalier attitude towards their passengers. Once they have your money, they do not feel obliged to keep you advised of any changes. They seem to treat you like naughty school children, who must do as they are told without answering back or questioning the actions of the staff. There does seem to be a total lack of communication on board and any question put to the staff at Reception are answered with a blank look, or a standard reply, which even you know to be totally untrue. You soon realise it is a total waste of time to queue up to ask any questions. I have listed here some of the main errors I noticed, I am sure there were many more. If you were cruising on one of the budget priced ships, you would not be surprised if the organisation lacked professionalism, but from a company such as P&O you expect much more. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Our long awaited Christmas/New Year cruise to the Caribbean on Aurora, started with a quick and efficient embarkation - formalities completed and on board in half an hour, and a very enjoyable champagne send off augered well for our first ... Read More
Our long awaited Christmas/New Year cruise to the Caribbean on Aurora, started with a quick and efficient embarkation - formalities completed and on board in half an hour, and a very enjoyable champagne send off augered well for our first Christmas away from home. The ship was beautifully decorated which added to the festive feel and sense of occasion aboard. Our inside cabin was spotless, homely, and had adequate storage for our needs, and was conveniently situated for the launderette, lifts and Alexandria Restaurant. Joma, our cabin steward was a real star, efficient, unobtrusive and helpful. The standards in the traditional bars, such as Anderson`s/Crows Nest, were maintained with dress codes generally very much respected - but one passenger without a jacket on a formal dress night, was discreetly, but firmly asked to leave and find one. Top marks to the Alexandria Restaurant and on wait staff Joe, and Santano and wine waiter Oswin Rosa. Food was served warm, professionally and always with a smile. We looked forward to the evening banter. A great effort was made on Christmas Day and New Year`s Eve with the restaurant transformed and decorated with balloons, streamers etc. The staff all joined in with party hats etc., which added to the festive spirit. We now understand why so many passengers are `hooked` on the Christmas/New Year Cruise. Would we do it again? You betcha! Overall, the ship was clean, service good, entertainment fair to good, and lectures were informative and interesting. On disembarkation, we took advantage of leaving early and taking our own luggage, which ensured we were back home by mid-morning. We had to guess the weight of a cake on the last day of the cruise - does any one know what that weight was? I was probably way out with 10lb 2oz! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This is a review of the Aurora, operated by P & O during the Christmas 2008 Calypso Cruise to the Caribbean. We (2 parents 55ish with 2 children 21 and 24) have cruised with P & O before and did the same or similar cruise at ... Read More
This is a review of the Aurora, operated by P & O during the Christmas 2008 Calypso Cruise to the Caribbean. We (2 parents 55ish with 2 children 21 and 24) have cruised with P & O before and did the same or similar cruise at Christmas 2007 on Oriana. The ship was described to us as a sister ship to Oriana but a little bit nicer with such pluses as the Cafe Bordeaux. It is a nice ship; the cabins (outside window Deck 5) are fine with plenty of hanging and drawer space. I had great difficulty working out the bow from the stern directions and which deck had which facility. This in spite of a pocket guide and schematic maps every 30 yards. Accommodation: The cabins are well sized, comfortable and equipped with double/twin beds, TV, fridge and reasonable bathroom. Some have shower/baths and others showers only. Beds are 3 feet wide and 6 feet 6 inches long. There is plenty of support but they are not firm. On Board facilities: Internet: The internet room is on Deck 13 by the Crows nest bar and is a pleasant airy room with 12 desktops and 2 laptop dedicated desks which are provided with UK 12 amp power sockets. The ship has a very restricted wifi which operates only in the Internet room and next door in parts of the Crows Nest Bar. It is fairly fast downloading emails and uploading to the internet. I would say that it is adequate but could be simply improved if it were made available on a wider basis through other areas of the ship. The charges are standard across the fleet and the pay as you go is 30 pence per minute, pre paid plans are available which can reduce this cost to 16 pence, but you do need to buy 4 hours of connection time. Reception: The reception area is on Deck 5 and operates from 7am to 9pm. Restaurants: We ate on second sitting in the Medina Restaurant and found the accommodations comfortable although some tables near the end walls/bulkheads suffered from a lack of room between the back of the chairs and the wall. I suppose this is a problem for the waiters rather than passenger, but I did notice it and think it worth mentioning. The waiting staff is charming as expected but some seem less fun than others and this may, of course, be shyness but it was very noticeable. The level of service is just ok. The head waiter comes to the table most evenings but we have had meals that were returned partially eaten through the meat being tough or the fish being overcooked and these incidents aroused no action whatsoever by this person. This is the absolute opposite of our previous experiences on P & O and was commented upon fairly widely by passengers. He came on the penultimate night and made his enquiry, he was horrified to receive complaints from 4 of the six diners and he wrote them down on a scrap of paper. It did not convince us that he was going to raise the issues with the Chef. When he passed by some 30 minutes later I asked what the Chef had said, the response was totally unconvincing and I seriously doubt if he reported the matters. The other general restaurant is Alexandria and I have no experience of that. Afternoon tea is served in the Medina from 4 to 4.45 pm and is very pleasant. There is a choice of a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, teacake and crumpets. They only toast the crumpets on the top, so you will end up with a soft underside. We tried for two weeks to explain but they kept coming out undercooked or charred. We also tried the Marco Pierre White facility which attracts an additional payment which varies depending upon what time during the evening you dine. We paid £3.95 each and it was certainly worth it for the food. The restaurant is the Cafe Bordeaux which is above the casino and surrounds a stairwell, one side of the restaurant has the main corridor of the Promenade Deck running alongside; quite bizarre but the food, wine choice and service were absolutely excellent and much better than the main restaurant. Depending upon your table position you may well hear a lot of extraneous noise from these sources. We also took breakfast and lunch at the Cafe Bordeaux and it was absolutely delightful. Some of the best food available on board and good service. There is a buffet restaurant on Deck 12 called the Orangery and they serve all three meals there and afternoon tea on a self serve basis. They also hold themed buffets on evenings and these vary from British, to Italian, to Asian to Indian buffets. I only tried the Indian and would not repeat the process. Other P & O ships have held these evenings and operated a reservation process which ensured a smooth progress of diners through the starter, main course and dessert stations. Aurora did not and the resulting 60 person/20 minute queue for main course was the direct result. The choices offered were not all there to be had and the curries themselves seemed very watery. I am no chef but I do know curry. I raised the lack of reservations with our ineffectual head waiter and was told that it is fleet wide and it enables many more people to be served. I don't believe this as it makes no sense. An additional facility is found on the stern deck on 12 and is called The Pennant Grill; a small surcharge will provide a nice steak or fish dinner in the warm evenings of the Caribbean. I did not use it but reports were mostly favorable. Late night service is provided by the Cafe Bordeaux but no food is displayed, sandwiches and Fries with Mayonnaise are among the very limited choices and one cannot get a toasted sandwich. Tea and coffee are available but a charge is made for peppermint tea which comes by way of a nasty teabag with very little flavor. There are 3 levels of dress acceptable by P & O on board for dining purposes; they are Formal (Black Tie), Semi Formal which is trousers, smart shirt and a jacket (no tie required) and Smart Casual, which is identical to Semi Formal except no jacket is needed. These are pretty standard but it is now permissible to wear Jeans to dinner! Bars: There are several bars catering for broad tastes on board. The Crows Nest is at the bow on Deck 13 and has panoramic views. Trouble is that smoking is allowed in the port half and the air handling system cannot stop the smell pervading the entire room making it unpleasant for the non smokers. There are other bars but none has the style of the Crows Nest, I know that smoking is not allowed in the sport bar called Champions nor Andersons on deck 7 Pools: There are three pools, 1 is exclusively for children and is part of their club area, the other two are on deck12 and are the Crystal and Riviera. The Crystal pool is set amidships and has the benefit of a retractable roof; the other is set towards the front of the ship and is open to the elements. The center pool has two hot tubs which are well used. The Children tend to use the Crystal pool which does have an effect on the clarity of the water. It was luminous green one day after treatment following one of the very regular quality tests. The pools are a reasonable size but are just over 1 meter deep. It is not easy to swim in such shallow water. If the ship encounters any swell, a wave sets up and the water flows forward and aft or side to side, shipping great gouts of water and spray from the pool itself onto the surrounding decks. If there are swimmers in the pool, they undertake a very exciting but perilous ride in or on this wave as it crashes into the end of the pool. Quite often the pools are netted to prevent passenger use; this is very frustrating especially in sunny weather. There seem to be plenty of sun beds around the pools and on the Sun Deck above the pool. Those at the Crystal Pool are a sturdy metal and mesh construction whereas the others are the nasty white plastic ones beloved of package holidays. There are also some white plastic chairs which are fairly comfortable. On the Promenade Deck you are spoilt by teak steamer chairs with attached foot rests and cushions, they also have plastic recliner chairs for the less fortunate. There is a spa which to my unpracticed eye seems to offer the usual beauty and health treatments. The charges seem reasonable and the staff is very professional. At the front of Deck 7 is a great theatre which is used for most show, there is a "ballroom" called Carmen's at the rear of that Deck, which has seats around a dance floor and is more for passengers dancing. Most of this takes place to CDs which is disappointing to some. Overall the entertainment was not very good other than Richard Digence, who was as hilarious as he always is. Tom O'Connor is OK but his act is as old as his suit, Stuart Gillies has a nice tan but should stop checking his comb over when he passes a reflecting window. Jimmy Nairn should stick to what he is best at, whenever he discovers exactly what that may be. Caravan was a very good and talented group as were the steel band. There was a female singer who I did not see but she received rave reviews from people to whom I spoke. The Entertainment Officers were a mixed bunch; one of the senior female blondes was so full of herself as to be approaching obnoxious. She needs reminding that we pay her wages and she is there to make sure that we enjoy ourselves. Most of the males are good but one of them is the worst DJ in the world. They all seem to operate on a what we say goes basis, and that can irritate the calmest of passenger. On the Food and Beverage side there seems to be a malaise among the staff, dishes lay around uncollected in the Orangery Buffet and on the outside tables, I have never known that before. Whether P & O have reduced staffing levels or it is an apathy that has set in, it needs to be addressed. Many waiters expressed dissatisfaction with "the management" and told me that they were considering transferring ships. What on earth is happening? The deck and drink waiters are all very attentive and I believe that they now work to sales quotas per shift. This may explain why they are so keen to attend you. This malaise may stem from poor senior management or perhaps the blame lies with the middle managers, I do not know but I do know that there are problems which need attention. Sports and gymnasium, there is a well equipped gym on Deck 11 and quoits, golf, shuffleboard, table tennis and soccer take place on 12 & 13. Overall I think that standards of service and food quality on board have dropped since last year although the Aurora is a new experience for me, I think it unlikely that I will repeat it although I will continue to use P & O. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Aurora Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 5.0 3.5
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.2
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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