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1 P&O Cruises Aurora Transpacific Cruise Reviews

P&O UK is “British to the bootstraps” but I do believe they are trying to be something they are not, particularly in regard to dress code and maintenance. For example, the information pack provided to passengers before they ... Read More
P&O UK is “British to the bootstraps” but I do believe they are trying to be something they are not, particularly in regard to dress code and maintenance. For example, the information pack provided to passengers before they board states that the dress code for each evening applies from 6 pm throughout the ship, and “asks” passengers to comply. What it doesn’t tell you is that if you are sitting in the Crows Nest or some other public area at 6 pm, reading a book or drinking a cocktail and minding your own business, and you aren’t in a black tie or jacket on those evenings, you will be told to leave (even if there is no one else there). This was annoying – even more so when I went to dinner in my finery to find myself sitting opposite a fellow wearing a T-shirt. I suspect this was because the wait staff were too busy ogling his 20 something blonde girlfriend to notice whether he was wearing anything at all. On complaint, the maitre d’ personally assured me it would never happen again but it did - two nights later: same guy, same shirt, same girlfriend. On a 25 night cruise there were 7 ‘formal’ nights, 7 ‘jacket required’ nights (both of which we thought were excessive, especially in summer in the South Pacific) and 11 ’evening casual’ nights. Except for my T-shirt friend, if you didn’t wear the nominated attire, you were banished to eat at Horizon buffet/cafeteria. However, every night they closed half the serving area and half the outside dining area in Horizon as it was being used by the (extra fee applicable) Beach House restaurant, resulting in a much longer queue to collect your dinner. In effect, this was double punishment for dress code violators. If they put as much effort into maintaining their tenders/lifeboats (which broke down on quite a few occasions) as they did policing the dress code, it would have been a much happier ship. If there is ever a real emergency, I hope that the lifeboats are in better condition than they were on our cruise. Embarkation at San Francisco was straightforward. The porters at the dock touted for tips – I gave one guy $2 and he took our bags away. Another passenger gave a porter $1 and the porter scoffed and handed it back. There was no roll call or card swipe at the lifeboat safety drill, so they wouldn’t know who attended. My lifejacket didn’t have a whistle and our cabin attendant advised there were no spares. About halfway through the cruise we had to leave our lifejackets on our bed for inspection, so I left mine there with a note “no whistle” which was still there when we returned in the evening – with no whistle. We had booked a wine package on the internet as it was significantly cheaper than buying one on board. The ship’s shore excursions were also significantly cheaper if booked over the internet beforehand. The ship’s shore excursions were significantly more expensive than the local tours, however you run the risk of a local tour being fully booked out by the cruise line and therefore not being available when you get off the ship. There was initial confusion amongst the staff in regard to how the coffee cards and wine packages would work. There was no restriction on the amount of alcohol you could bring on board and the fridge in the cabin could easily accommodate 2 bottles of wine. I would describe the staff on the Aurora as “reserved” and generally (with a few exceptions) not as friendly as say Holland America or Princess. This could have been the result of a perception that they had to maintain a “stiff upper lip”. We had an inside cabin (C162) on Deck 9 (Canberra Deck) which was quite compact compared to inside cabins on other cruise lines, but entirely adequate. I had trouble with backache on waking up in the mornings but everyone is different. The bathroom was a good design and although it had a shower curtain and not doors, no water spilled onto the floor. The shower curtain was replaced at least once during our voyage. As suggested on CruiseCritic, I sprayed the air conditioning vents with Glen20 every second day and we had no trouble with cabin cough. Our cabin attendant Rex kept our accommodation spotless (well done Rex!). Laundry washers and dryers are free on the ship, which was great. The design of the ship around the Crystal Pool was the best we have seen on any ship. There were plenty of tables, chairs and deckchairs in both sun and shade. There are plenty of deck chairs all around the ship, to the extent that no-one, at any time, had to reserve a seat by throwing their towels on it. However towels were rationed to two per cabin and it took some time to learn that extra towels were hidden away in the dressing rooms situated in the Spa area of the ship. Topless sunbathing was restricted to 'Deck 14 forward' which, given the average age of the passengers, was a blessing. We never felt the need to eat at the “extras” restaurants as the quality of the food in the Medina was generally very good for both lunch and dinner. Movies in the theatre were recent releases, however the TV shows and movies in the room repeated ad nauseam. Considering the number of DVDs in the Library, this could have been fixed very easily. Shopping on the ship is expensive: the same Citizen Eco-drive watch we bought in November on Voyager of the Seas for A$125 was £165 (or A$321) on the Aurora (true!!). There was a “50% off the ticketed price” of pearl jewellery one day – the only problem was there was no price on any of the tickets and to obtain any price you had to ask the sales assistant. We suspected that some “disabled” passengers were not so: a woman with a white cane swung it like a baton when she thought no-one was looking and another with a zimmer frame only used it when there was an advantage to be had. One old bloke with an ”L” plate on his electric scooter nearly took out the rear wall of the elevator, and continued to be a menace all around the ship. Genuine disabled passengers, young and old, were in full control of their movement aids and were an absolute pleasure to assist when the need arose. Daily gratuities were even charged for the International Dateline day, which didn’t exist. However the daily newsletter for this missing day was a hoot to read – well done P&O. The “Sounds of the Supremes” show was akin to scraping your fingernails down a chalkboard. Other regular passengers told us the comedians were still telling the same jokes as they did on the Aurora world cruise three years ago. We found that the arrival and departure times at ports that were advertised pre-cruise were often not the actual times we experienced. This makes booking independent tours more challenging. In Maui we were on the first tender but when we tied up at the wharf the US Customs guy ordered the tender to leave as he had received insufficient paperwork! We had to reverse and bob around outside the shipping lane while another tender raced from the ship with the necessary papers. At Honolulu there was no free ship’s shuttle (as promised by the Cruise Director) – the only free shuttles were run by the Maui Diver Pearl Shop and Hilo Hatties, each of which required you to spend some time in their shops. There was much pushing and shoving (and no ship’s crew in sight) by passengers with a Maui Diver sticker when the Hilo Hatties bus arrived first. On our afternoon shuttle back to the ship, the Hilo Hatties bus was half occupied by crew, meaning that some passengers had to wait for the next bus in one hour’s time. In the Bay of Islands the shuttle buses from Waitangi to Paihia were free – a service supplied by the local community. When we got off the ship in Wellington a girl with a ‘Security” tag asked to see our cruise cards – it turned out this was so she could scan them to charge us £4 each one-way for the ship’s shuttle bus, parked about 5 metres further on. Another security guy suggested we walk instead, which we did. Cruise ships don’t dock at Dunedin but at Port Chalmers, 10km away on Otago Harbour: the ship’s shuttle to Dunedin is £5 one-way. At Dusky Sound the captain announced over the PA that a naturalist would be giving a commentary into the Crows Nest as we sailed through the Sounds, but except for a ”Testing 1-2-3” we heard nothing. We had a 2 for 1 package ($3200 for 25 nights for both of us) so the value for money was unsurpassed. Others had a fly/cruise package which was also good value. However, due to the strict dress code, I could not recommend P&O UK to anyone, although I do appreciate that others may enjoy being regimented on holidays. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
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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