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17 P&O Cruises Aurora Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

1st review - hope it helps. Our 5th cruise, all with P&O and we were very pleased with the ship facilities certainly better than the Oceana which we thought was a bit tired. Embarkation and debarkation were well organised. ... Read More
1st review - hope it helps. Our 5th cruise, all with P&O and we were very pleased with the ship facilities certainly better than the Oceana which we thought was a bit tired. Embarkation and debarkation were well organised. Though the ship was full we never struggled to find a comfortable seat. We had an inside cabin as usual (C137) and were pleased with it. The shower had better pressure than most others and we thought it was decent value. We were allocated freedom dining but for the second time didn't use the restaurant,we were quite happy to use the buffet and premium dining facilities. 6 visits to the Beachcomber and 1 to Sindhu were really nice but the £5 per person in the Beachcomber was £15 in Sindhu which was not publicised, Food in both was excellent though and we will continue this practice in future. Incidentally judging by the number of people doing the same it appears we are not so unusual. There appeared to be less reliance on 'tribute acts' than on previous cruises but to cover it it seemed that the afternoon classical concerts were moved to mainstream evening slots (a bad decision in my opinion). No port presentations! only on the TV in the cabin which was a very poor way to advertise the ports, subsequently for the first time we took no trips but made our own arrangements. I don't know if this is a P&O or local ship decision but I cannot believe it is a sensible business move, the presentations were always well attended with long queues subsequently at the desk - no queues seen at all.The ports (Cadiz, Malta, Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu and Gibraltar were all excellent with the exception of Catania in Sicily which was a disappointment. No concerts or port presentations led to the afternoons being quite flat and the Horizon was heavily reliant on spa activiies at these times. Service was brilliant, the staff are the real jewel in the P&O crown, their affability and patience is a credit to them and I think it to the cruiser's shame that some are rude, offhand or ignorant towards them. In conclusion it seems that P&O are trying to make some economies, that's OK, the business has to evolve and good and bad decisions will be made and adjusted as time goes on but it is vital to their business to maintain staff levels as the boats are just lumps of metal but the people who run them at all levels have a huge part in making the experience pleasureable or otherwise. Finally we always pay the tips and give the steward and perhaps some special staff a little extra but I think with the recent increase to £5.50 pppd the extras will stop in future. This review is probably too long but I tried to cover all the areas mentioned. As I said I hope it helps. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Embarked easily and on time.Found our lovely balcony cabin and our great steward Rex greeted us.Lovely comfortable beds,Plenty of wardrobe space and full bathroom with small bath which was a first for us and something I enjoy. Went ... Read More
Embarked easily and on time.Found our lovely balcony cabin and our great steward Rex greeted us.Lovely comfortable beds,Plenty of wardrobe space and full bathroom with small bath which was a first for us and something I enjoy. Went exploring and had a good lunch in the Horizon Buffet restaurant and later a tea and scones etc.We were glad to have eaten earlier as later as she entered the channel a and then the Bay of Biscay in a storm (the one that devastated Cumbria)We took some seasickness pills and went to bed .No one we made it to dinner that first night but we were not sick and the weather improved the further south we traveled. Ate in the Alexandria restaurant and had stable for 6 allocated with charming companions .Our servers Alberto and Mani were professional ,friendly and fun.Thanks for your kindness ,but some meals were not as good as expected, soups not hot enough and some meat either over or undercooked. Wine and drinks are reasonable prices and as it was a late holiday we enjoyed a few. The ship was decorated for Christmas and looked beautiful everywhere and especially in Lassiter's where we liked to have a predinner drink. Ports of call were all places we liked the look of and were all reached by foot or bus ,so no need for tenders.There was easy access and no queues or pushing as on larger ships. The weather was excellent with everyday warm and sunny which was a joy. We enjoyed on board entertainment both musical and serious entertainers and the young company of singers and dancers were so energetic and really professional. Used the heated pools(3) and the jaquzzis never too busy,I suppose December is not for everyone as a swimming opportunity. As in the past the age group most prevalent are the over 60s but we did see some familys and a few younger people There were the usual pastimes of dance lessons,quizzes, exercise classes ,cinema etc. We had a fabulous cruise especially visiting Barcelona to visit the exquisite Gaudi,s Sa Grada Familia. Final port of call being Gibraltar where we went on the cable car to the top of the Rock for the views and to see the famous Babary Apes. Two more sailing days back to Southampton and back to get ready for Christmas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Good cruise no moans from me ,food good meridian freedom dining worked very well table for 2 easy to get only had a pager couple of times.one note glasshouse is not working on this cruise empty most of the time more crew than some ... Read More
Good cruise no moans from me ,food good meridian freedom dining worked very well table for 2 easy to get only had a pager couple of times.one note glasshouse is not working on this cruise empty most of the time more crew than some passengers some nights,had drink at the bar but not like other P&o ships just boring.did 3 excursions but best for a laugh was GIbralterbar walk. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Efficient and friendly check in.Our inside cabin on deck 12 was excellent for buffet and swimming pools.Cabin small as with most inside cabins but adequate and dwell maintained byan exceptionally efficient steward, Jeffrey, probably the ... Read More
Efficient and friendly check in.Our inside cabin on deck 12 was excellent for buffet and swimming pools.Cabin small as with most inside cabins but adequate and dwell maintained byan exceptionally efficient steward, Jeffrey, probably the best we have ver had in our 17 cruises.We asked for rubber mat for shower and a sewing kit and both appeared instantly.He was great when the whole areas toilet system packed up early in the cruise, soon rectified by the engineers. The shower was an efficient hand held head (unlike those on the Azura). Pools were good 1.05 deep. But a lot of the time quite chilly. Usual trouble with people putting out towels and books and just leaving them Alexandra restaurant staff Parvin and Ballam looked after our table of 8, Making meal times a pleasure.The food could have been improved, but the buffet was very satisfactory. Entertainment was mostly good," We,ll meet again" was special. No 15% Gratuity charge on drinks. Very fair. We had good weather and calm seas on Bay of Biscay. Cant comment on excursions we do our own thing. Ship not too large just. We had not visited Corfu before and the four of us got a taxi and had a 2hour trip around the island. delightful. Venice, P and O charged £15,00 for ferry, if you paid on quay 15 euros.. Gibraltar which we adore had a departure of 2 pm which was not enough time. All down to docking fees. All in all a good cruise, in good weather. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Yesterday I arrived home from my first ever cruise, I couldn't have been more sad to leave, not only was this my first cruise, but it was my first 'big' family holiday, which made it all the better. Everything about the ... Read More
Yesterday I arrived home from my first ever cruise, I couldn't have been more sad to leave, not only was this my first cruise, but it was my first 'big' family holiday, which made it all the better. Everything about the cruise was perfect, I do not have one complaint, the service and looking after you will receive is outstanding. Dinner especially was one of my personal favourite times, you are given your table which you will sit at every night, with your two allocated waiters, who are also outstanding.  Rocky and Alfredo were my table waiters, they were extremely kind and attentive, but also funny and made the time even more enjoyable. You'll be given a drinks waiter too, ours was Elvis. And, if your like me and have special dietary requirements etc. someone who specialises in this, will give you the menu for the following night each night, so you can order early and they have time to discuss with the chef if there is any ..(for me I have a nut allergy) in your chosen meal. The food is amazing, I enjoyed my dinner every night, there were so many amazing choices to chose from it was great! The entertainment in the evening it brilliant, you have lots of choices, there are many bars, for eg. There is a bar called carmens, which there is a show preformed every evening, (but there's also a theatre which is brilliant if you want a proper sit down show), there is a bar called champions, which is a sports bar and since the World Cup was on when we were there, we Spent a fair amount of time in there, there's a bar called Masquerades, which is like your after hours 'night club' if you like, no one under the age of 18 is allowed in after midnight. There's also many others, some that are quieter or more formal, but we didn't visit them often, for no reason other than personal preference! If you go with kids, Aurora is great too, the have a kids club on during the day, everyday, called Jumping jacks, this is for 5-8 year olds I believe but there lots of clubs for lots of ages (including a teen club), but my little cousins loved jumping jacks, then at night time each night they do a 'slumber party' where the kids go in the pjs and watch movies etc, and can stay until 11pm (but like I said there's lots of different clubs that will have different times). The off ship days are of course amazing append will be different for everyone that goes so I won't go into much detail about that. But personally our family really loved the on ship days, there are three main pool ares, the crystal pool (which a roof can be closed on, on days the weather may not be great), the riviera pool, and the terrace pool which is located right on the back of the boat and is were the sail away party's are located. Our family stayed in the crystal pool for the majority, not because the weather was bad, although a couple of days it wasn't great, but on the 35 degree heat days we stayed there too, because the roof was off. All pools are great family pools and also have hottubs in crystal and riviera, which are lovely! You have food served basically all day in the main restaurant, that's were you tend to have your breakfast and lunch, unless you book to go somewhere else, like Marco Piere Whites which we had lunch in for a special occasion. There is also a spa on board that is supposed to be amazing we didn't visit it, for no reason other than we were too busy doing other things! There is lots of lovely shops to visit, they open around 5pm ish, you have clothing stores, makeup stores, perfume, jewellery (especially high end watches), then a kind of general needs store you could say, which sells toiletries, meds and sweets! Your rooms will be lovely and clean no matter which type, we had a bath/shower balcony room, but my cousins had a room without a balcony that was very large space wise and all rooms are cleaned to the highest standard, you will also have your own cabin steward, who visits your room twice a day, once in the morning before 12pm, to make your bed and give you clean towels etc, and once in the evening when you have gone to dinner, to roll down your bed, and removed the towels you have used. Both embarkation and disembarkation are very fast and simple, a lot easier than flying. OVERALL, this is the most perfect holiday, for ALL ages, I will keep the memories of it forever, it is an experience not to be missed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We had the most relaxing cruise on P&O Aurora between the 29 November 2013 and the 9th of December 2013. Taking in La Caruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Ciadiz, and Lisbon. Check in at Southampton was fast we arrived at Mayflower Terminal ... Read More
We had the most relaxing cruise on P&O Aurora between the 29 November 2013 and the 9th of December 2013. Taking in La Caruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Ciadiz, and Lisbon. Check in at Southampton was fast we arrived at Mayflower Terminal 12.00 un loaded our cases from our car my wife waited at the entrance while I drove to the short stay car park and made my car over to the rep from Parking4Cruises walked a short walk back to the Terminal picked my wife up and entered the check in room just a few people in the queue checked in then went through security and was sitting in the Orangerey having a spot of lunch by 13.15, announcement made that cabins were ready at 14.00. Went down to our Cabin E 167 our cases were there in the Cabin pleasantly surprised at the cabin much better than Oriana even though we were on A deck on Oriana wife unpacked our cases and put clothes away in the plenty of draws and wardrobe's again much better than Oriana , went for a walk around Aurora and watched her pull away from the quay side and leave Southampton returned to our cabin to change for dinner in the Medina Resturant, the food was very good in this restaurant for the rest of the cruise the service was fast and friendly, our waiters were John Mascarenhas, and Swapnil fantastic lads always smiling and they always recommended what was the best course to have and went the extra mile espically with the puddings, coffee,cheese and biscuits. On second morning we had a problem with the hot water in the bathroom it was only just warm so reported it to our Cabin Steward Angelo and by the time it was needed for a shower the second evening it was fixed nice an hot good job too as it was a Formal evening also Captain's gala evening where Captain Neal Turnbull apologised for the problem with the hot water he said that he pulled out all the stops to get it fixed before some bright spark got in touch with Cruise Critic that brought the house down every one had a good laugh, I have cruised with P&O several Cruises now and can not prase them enough, one of the best Cruise lines why do we British always run our own things down and our own people I am 75 years young I am not snobbish nor am I rich just a working class man but may be I was brought up with good values and was taught to dress well when I go to a dineing table I like dressing up in formal dress and at one time one could not go to dinner with out a coat and tie if some people do not want to dress properly then they should use the Buffet restaurant no body is stopping them, nor are we looking down on them it is in their own head this feeling of being inferior we certainly do not feel superior far from it live and let live. Aurora is a happy ship one can feel it as soon as one comes on board the crew make you feel welcome from the Captain down to the toilet attendant I get up at dawn and while I was taking a walk on the Promanade deck I passed members of the crew seamen and European officers and always got a good morning sir and how are you this morning , I was born in India of British parents during the British Raj and can speak fluent Hindi,Urdu also Punjabi and many a morning had a conflab with the Indian and Pakistani crew, by the end of the cruise when I came across these seamen they would always greet me with a Salam Sahib or Namaste Sahib and apa kaise hain to which I would reply in Hindi or Urdu maim accha hum in Hindi or main thik hun in Urdu this would make their day a white guy who could speak their language had a great time on this cruise if fact on every P&O Cruise that I've been on . Now I must point out that I have not come across these so called frayed and threadbare carpets on Aurora or dirty legs on the tables in the Orangerey or the Orangerey looking worn out I took a good look at things on Aurora she is spotless,perhaps these people that keep moaning about P&O Ships should be banished to Fred Olsen, Thompsons, or Ocean Village Cruises . One more thing I would like to point out is if your cruise takes you to Gibraltar do not buy your duty free on board before you visit Gibraltar as in Gibraltar there is a Morrisons Supermarket and the duty free prices for sprits is much cheaper than on board ship I paid £10.45 for a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin whilst on board it was £15 + with 15% off the duty free price so make note make for Morrisons when you are on your way back to the ship only a five minute walk from the docks you can even see the sign from the ship, now the biggest rip off P&O charges £9 to £10 for 6 bottles of drinking water if you and your wife / partner put a 1.5ltr bottle of water in your hand luggage each it would last you two mornings for tea / Coffee in your cabin then you could buy bottled drinking water on shore for much less this will stop P&O from ripping you off please do not use the cold or hot water in your cabin bathroom to boil in kettle in cabin for making tea or coffee as it has several chemicals in it Had a wonderful cruise on Aurora the cabin was great E167 grade GB bath and shower in bathroom very clean carpets fine every thing ship shape, we will always sail with P&O Hughes Norwich Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Just back from a 10 day cruise from Southampton calling at La Coruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Cadiz, Seville & Lisbon. Our first cruise with P&O, I would grade it just above Thomson cruises. Drinks at the bar were pretty reasonable ... Read More
Just back from a 10 day cruise from Southampton calling at La Coruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Cadiz, Seville & Lisbon. Our first cruise with P&O, I would grade it just above Thomson cruises. Drinks at the bar were pretty reasonable with no service charged slapped on top. On this 10 day cruise there were 3 formal, 2 Smart casual & 5 casual evenings. Apart from one dinner in the Orangery self-service restaurant, we ate in the Medina Restaurant every night. This ship operates a first & second sitting restaurant service plus you sit with the same people every night on the same table. Our food was reasonably okay although I was a bit confused one evening to be offered carrots,sprouts and roast potatoes with my meal of meat balls in tomato sauce and spaghetti?? Some of the puddings were very bland in taste. Bread & Butter pudding in the Orangery consisted of bread and custard-not a sultana in sight and fairly tasteless. Entertainment was of a good quality and it was nice to see the theatre full every evening. The Headliners (ship's singers & dancers) certainly worked very hard and put some good shows on. It is now P&O's policy to add a tipping fee to your final bill. This worked out at £3.50 per person per day. Predominantly British and mature passengers travelled on our ship with a fair number of wheelchair and mobility scooters. Overall we would travel with P&O again. We spoke to alot of people who had never cruised with any other firm although there are alot of things that we prefer about the Celebrity line, booked just 3wks before travel this was a relaxing cruise that didn't break the bank. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Some key points before the full review: This was our first cruise with P&O, we had cruised twice previously with Cunard - this compared very favourably. On Cunard ships there seemed to be a 'Ball' every night and there ... Read More
Some key points before the full review: This was our first cruise with P&O, we had cruised twice previously with Cunard - this compared very favourably. On Cunard ships there seemed to be a 'Ball' every night and there were less formal opportunities to ballroom dance on this cruise if that was your thing but we don't so it didn't bother us. There was ball room dancing going on in Carmens in the afternoon and some evenings. Cruise passengers are often elderly and/or with limited mobility - this can be frustrating at times but we will all be there eventually! Whether elderly or not most are very friendly and considerate but as always, anywhere, there are some who annoy. Part of the holiday is finding your way round and learning how the systems work. The on board paper called 'Horizon' is left in your cabin mail slot just outside you door each evening at around 6.00pm. This gives details of all entertainment, events, times etc for the next day. In the cabin on arrival there is a folder with all the general information you will need and leaflet showing the TV listings for the on board channels. There are regular Port Talks prior to each port visit and these are also available on the TV in the cabin. They do let you see what is available at each port and also remind you of trips you can purchase. We are early risers and think nothing of being ready to go ashore before 8.00am having showered and breakfasted. We were often first off and first back again. We didn't take any tours as we prefer to do our own thing. We are not museum or cathedral types but enjoy soaking up the ambience of new places and looking at the people and architecture. This was a Summer cruise during school holidays and there were a lot of young people and children on board but they were never a problem and were obviously enjoying themselves. They seemed to be well catered for in clubs on board. The captain had his family on board (4 children) and they also seemed to be enjoying their trip. Embarkation - arrived for check in at one o'clock and porters took our bags from the boot of the car and that was it, the holiday had started. We joined the queue to check in and waited only a few minutes till we were through and heading on board. Cabins were not ready but food was so we went and had lunch in The Orangery and a look around the ship. By the time this was done we were able to go to our cabin. Cabin A175, a balcony with a comfortable double bed on deck 11. Smart and clean. Amazing storage with neat cupboards with mirrors, lots of hanging and drawer space, small table, TV, two seater settee and good dressing table space. Not quite enough hangers for me but I had taken a few extra. I would say it is worth taking a dozen extra if you like to hang lots of tops as well as trousers and dresses, I also took some skirt hangers which was helpful. I was told by another guest that you only have to ask and your steward would get some wire ones for you. The cases went inside the wardrobe, one inside the other then flat against the wall of the inside section. This cabin had occasional noise from above but not such that we were frequently disturbed. The cabin was 50 feet from a launderette which did not disturb us but which was really useful when we wanted to use the facility. Planning your time to do the washing and taking your own powder cubes with built in softener could mean you would bring everything home clean. The machines and tumble dryers are easy to use and efficient. Only one 13 amp standard British socket was in the cabin so a bank of extra sockets on an extension lead was really useful. Bathroom, again with great storage and neat little bath with shower over. Good, large containers of toiletries provided, shampoo, separate conditioner, moisturiser, and shower gel in the shower. Full range of towels, flannels etc. No dressing gowns as but I knew that and took ours which were able to hang on the inside of the bathroom door. Tea and coffee making facilities with biscuits were a nice touch. Wine glasses were provided and two bottles of water were in the fridge. I took ready mixed gin & tonic tins and a bottle of PLJ lemon juice to have each evening before leaving the cabin. Balcony - this room had a sheltered balcony with a glass fronted section. There were two teak chairs with thick padded cushions and a small table. Very comfortable and pleasant to sit out on. Going into Venice this balcony provided the perfect place to watch and take photos rather than the crush on top. We started with two sea days and there was a good variety of on board entertainment to choose from if you wanted but we were happy to sit out at the back and watch the comedy of sun bed movements. People watching is always fun. Plenty of sun beds and chairs and everyone had pool towels provided in the cabins. Attentive drinks waiters patrolled but not irritatingly so and occasional ice cream sellers also wandered the decks. Breakfasts and lunches were available in The Orangery, self service, and Medina, table service. Breakfast and lunch also available in Cafe Bordeaux but there is an extra charge for dinner there. Plenty of good quality choice in all venues. Evening meals were served in Medina or Alexandria restaurants and our designated table, place and time were on a card in our cabin on arrival. We ate in Alexandria at the 6.30 sitting each evening. We had asked for a table for 2 but had booked too late for this so ended up on a table for 6. We enjoyed the company and got to know them really well over the 16 days. On the third day we were offered a table for two but we declined as we were enjoying the company on our table. Dinner menu was excellent and varied and the waiting staff were outstanding, just an appropriate level of familiarity and fun with excellent silver service. Level of cabin care was excellent by Denzil who went the extra mile on several occasions. It is helpful for the cabin staff if you leave your card in the door to let them know they can get on and 'make up' the cabin as they have a lot to do and by putting the card in our cabin was cleaned before we came back from breakfast. I took a free standing air freshener for our cabin and this was great as every time we went back into the cabin it smelt fresh. We passed some cabins where doors were open and the smell coming out was less than fresh! Malaga - docked then a short free bus transfer to the edge of town . To get to the bus we walked through a terminal building with some small shops. The handbag shop in the terminal building there sold the best range and cheapest we found anywhere. A handbag there cost €10 which I saw for €20 in both Venice and Corfu. Malaga is a smart, up-market place with good shops and lots of cafes. There was a beach within walking distance of the ship if you wanted to spend time there. We wandered for a couple of hours then returned to the ship. Zakinthos - tendered ashore. Queued in Masquerade for timed tickets for tenders which caused a long queue that day following the cancellation of two trips due to high winds. We left on the first tender and simply wandered round the town for an hour. Very hot but a nice place to wander with lots of coffee opportunities if you wanted them. We were back on board by 11.30 then settled down on deck at the back to enjoy the quiet. Dubrovnik - tendered again but better organisation of giving out time tickets and less queuing. We were into the town by 8.30 and enjoyed our wander round this beautiful city. Bought some lemon liqueur from a market stall in one of the squares. As far as we could see everywhere was happy to take Euros. It was very hot ashore so we did the minimum then sat and had coffee on the quay. Venice - docked along with 5 other large cruise ships. We had been to Venice for a 3 night holiday previously so we didn't need to see the sights. We walked from the ship out of the dock area to find the 'People Mover' which we were told was a way to get into Place de Roma from where it is possible to wander through the maze of streets/bridges to the Rialto Bridge and other key sights. There were easy to spot signs for the people mover which is a mono rail. It took about ten minutes to walk to it. It costs 1 euro per person per trip and it is only one stop from the port area to Roma. We walked through the lovely streets as far as the Rialto Bridge although we were worried about finding our way back. In fact the return was signposted although we came back a different way. Split - tendered port and we were in the town by 8.00 am. It was a Sunday but the market was there and interesting to wander through. The shops were opening up as we walked. The Riva was pleasant with lots of coffee opportunities then we cut right up the main street and right again at the top to wander through the old streets and the market. It was very hot and still so after an hour or so we went back to the ship and enjoyed the peace at the back on the Terrace pool wings. We didn't spend anything so don't know if they took Euros. Corfu - tendered again as there were two other ships in port that day. Easy ashore then a free shuttle to the edge of the old town area which took ten minutes. We wandered through and around the town streets with lots of interesting shops selling touristy things but handbags were reasonable so bought two for presents. We found a cafe with free wifi so enjoyed a coffee and face time with our sons to catch up with the news. It was a very hot day again so we didn't dally and got back on board to enjoy the peace. We overheard a couple of people saying they had hired cars at Corfu to get out and see the island. This sounds a good idea as long as you plan the time carefully as you wouldn't want to miss the boat! Three sea days followed and we enjoyed the laziness this allowed us. There were excellent, up to date films showing every day as well as extra entertainments if you wanted them. Sitting out at the back was our choice and although windy it was a real rest. Oporto - final stop. Docked after a tricky handbrake turn into port. Shuttle buses were provided to the beach - nice and only 5 minutes away. Buses also provided to the main town which took about half an hour. Nice city, quite hilly to walk but good mixture of shops, coffee places and opportunities to buy and eat the most amazing cakes! We just wandered again, had coffee (with milk) and a naughty cake between us then went back to the ship for lunch. Disembarkation -- this was well organised. Breakfast was available from 6.00am till 8.30 and you had to be clear of the cabin by 8.30am at the latest. We had been given colour coded disembarkation cards which were linked to times and we were last off. We were asked to sit in any of the public areas till our colour was called. Suitcases had to be packed and left outside the door of our cabin before 9.00pm on the last night and these appeared in a shed by deck to collect once we were allowed off. If you wanted to get off early and could manage your own cases you could disembark at 7.30am, in this case you kept your luggage with you. We only live 40 minutes from Southampton so we were last off, leaving the ship at 10.15am. Sixteen nights is the longest we have cruised for and we were worried it might feel too long but it was fine. This is the easy way to visit lots of places whilst living in a moving 5* hotel. If you want to be busy you can, if you want to laze and read you can do that too. Sitting in the crows nest during the day to read is very quiet with a good view and the same place in the evening is also pleasant. There are many lounges around the ship where you can sit at any time, shops to browse with special offers each day, a Costa coffee outlet, a library and pub type area. It was possible to get food virtually all the time in 'The Orangery' but that would just be greedy! Take the stairs as often as possible as this gives you regular exercise and keeps the lifts running more smoothly. The promenade deck (7) gives you a mile walk for every three circuits you do and lots of people do this each day after half eight in the morning. It was possible to take drinks from The Orangery out onto the decks where we sat out each day. The juice machines only dispensed juice till mid-day each day but cold water wa on tap all the time. The ship is elegant and the decor is in quiet muted colours. Seating areas are comfortable and pleasant. The evening entertainment was of a very good standard and the ships singers & dancers 'The Headliners' were amazing, producing a different 45 minute show in the main theatre 'Curzons' most nights. The various bands and orchestra were of a very high standard as was the pianist who gave 8 concerts during the trip. Smoking of other cruisers didn't really bother us and our neighbours didn't smoke on their balconies so that wasn't an issue either. Internet access is available but is expensive. 50p a minute or you can buy packages of various amounts which works out cheaper. We passed MacDonald's in various places we visited so free wifi was to be found if you wanted to catch up with work/family/emails etc. As we discovered in Corfu there are lots of other free wifi places if you buy a drink. Mobile phones worked on board, only slightly more per text than at home but in Croatia the cost of texts and calls was a lot more expensive. We weren't bothered too much with seasickness although I occasionally took Stugeron when it got rough and this kept me feeling well. I drank the water from the bathroom tap each evening and morning to take tablets and wasn't upset by this. Everyone used the hand sanitizer on entering eating places and cleanliness everywhere was at a very high standard. Useful items to bring - block of extra sockets, air freshener for cabin and spray for bathroom, a few pegs, washing tablets, walkie talkies (if you have them), a light rug for sitting out on balcony, highlighters for identifying what you will do each day, a deck bag to carry all the things you may need and avoid too many returns to the cabin, thank you cards and other general type cards. The Auto-Tip system cost us £100 for the 2 of us for our 16 nights. This seems very reasonable considering the level of service so we left this in place. We gave a further specific cash tip for our cabin steward and our 2 evening waiters. This review was written while on the cruise so that details could be easily remembered. Would we cruise with P&O again - yes, without hesitation. We are now looking at the possibility of cruising back from Australia after a holiday out there in 2014. This would be a 60 day cruise so we must be happy with it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
CRUISE REPORT R206 'AURORA' CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN 2-19 JUNE 2012 This was to be our 5th time on 'Aurora', this time in Cabin C311 on the stern as always. Entering our cabin to find each of us had a pair of P & ... Read More
CRUISE REPORT R206 'AURORA' CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN 2-19 JUNE 2012 This was to be our 5th time on 'Aurora', this time in Cabin C311 on the stern as always. Entering our cabin to find each of us had a pair of P & O slippers waiting for us and a bag to take them home in. Wow the excitement so early in the cruise. (LOL) It's an outside cabin with no balcony but it did have a three seated settee that made up into a double bed for kids? But it was over the Kids Disco where at 22.30 one evening during the cruise some idiot turned the base up full that vibrated our cabin so badly. I don't think we were the only one's to complain as the music stopped during our complaint phone call. On our first evening we met our four dinning companions who were to make our Dinning moments a joy during the whole cruise. During our first of two sea days before we reached Valencia I made a few observations. One is still unable to get a seat in Raffles for a morning coffee due to sleepers and those reading books. P & O should make the seating more uncomfortable making genuine customers more welcome. Since this was our first really hot weather cruise I was immediately made aware of what I felt was a selfish practise. This was the placing of towels over sun beds or chairs then go to Breakfast for 50 minuets then return. This practise is repeated at Lunch Time for an hour and 20 minuets until 18.00 hours when the decks become deserted. I remonstrated with an elderly lady who with her two Northern Companions returning from a Medina Restaurant Lunch that lasted an hour and 40 Minuets. Her retort was, Pointing to the lower decks, "If they can do it so can we". Even after the ships paper said this practise was forbidden. They still did it. I'm glad we never visit the Caribbean for I understand the same practise happens there?. Valencia our first port of call was a modern City with some interesting Architecture. Our shuttle bus took us into Valencia having to take part of the route already laid out for the forthcoming Formula 1 racing. Eventually we caught the HOHO bus to The Oceanographic Park. At the Park we spent most of the morning watching Walruses and Penguins behind glass. But there was plenty of other sea life around in the grounds. Back on the HOHO and walk around before returning to the ship by 17.30. The ship pulled out two miles from shore and stopped to evacuate our first passenger casualty with our medical team. Their return saw us on our way once more. A sea day where we passed south of Sardinia on our way to the Straights of Messina arriving in Messina about 07.00. The towel berks were already at work. I don't think these passengers ever go ashore? We were booked on a tour to Taormina. But our guides diction wasn't really understandable and the sound system sounded as though he was talking through cellophane. He was obviously a very knowledgeable man. But adding an 'A' to the end of almost every word made it difficult to understand him. The journey was amazing and I was most impressed by Sicilian Road ways. So many tunnels and the Flora beside some sections was quite breath taking. Arriving at Taormina our guides diction seems to get worse. One picked up an odd phrase now and then. Gradually one noticed our original 24 was reducing with each step. But we reached the old Roman Coliseum where I noted many of our party were really scattered. There was no sign of the Guide we passed him on our way out. Some great photo opportunities before we returned to our Coach where the sound system seemed even worse. Some of us complained when we retuned to the ship where three days later we were flannelled off with a no fault found letter. I wish more on our coach had complained back on the ship. Next day was Corfu where we did our own thing. It was 25% Centigrade when we arrived and it was quite a walk down the concrete causeway to a Shuttle Bus that took us into the old Town. Walkabouts are always interesting. You get an opportunity to poke you way down little alleys and busy streets. Plenty of places to sit and take in a beer which we did at lunch time. But time to leave arrived too quickly. Steaming north with the Albanian Coast on our Starboard side on our way up to Dubrovnik. Arriving at Dubrovnik at 08.00 morning in a temperature of 26% Centigrade. We wanted to take a ride up in the cable car. But we were not aware what a strenuous journey it was going to be up hundreds of steps to the main road only to discover the cable car was going to be closed for up to two ours due to strong winds at the top. We took our tickets back and got a refund. Making a decision to climb even more stairs up to the City Wall seemed fine at the time. Completely shattered on reaching the top only to discover even more steps as the wall was built at differing levels. Still we were glad we made it even if my wife worried about me. A stop at a tiny cafe for a coke and some more photographs we eventually moved on. I'm glad we were mad enough to do this. Two young ladies from the Cruiser 'Grand Celebration' asked if I would take their photograph. They in tern did the same for us. Both girls came from Barcelona. We had to be back on board by 15.30. The following morning we arrived in Venice in what one would describe as overcast weather which eventually did improved. I was surprised to see so many passengers at the rails so early in the morning as we slowly followed the wide 'S' shaped route up the estuary to our dock. Still it was interesting and I snapping away like a demented Oriental as was everyone else, mostly with mobile phones. Arriving at our dock to find two Liners already berthed. 'Grandeur of the Seas' and 'Costa Fascinosa'. We were booked on the all day Essence of Venice Tour. We had an excellent Guide who being small we kept loosing her in the crowds particularly when crossing the bridges. But we all made it. A tour through the Doge's Palace was a real eye opener and the attached prison. The walk over the Bridge of Sighs on the way to internment was quite an experience. We had a lunch brake to do our own thing wandering the narrow alleys window shopping until meeting up again for a boat trip out to a Glass Blowing Factory on the Island of Murano that was really interesting but their products were very expensive. The long boat trip back to our ship we set sail for a full day at sea then the Island of Cefalonia off the Greek Coast. Cefalonia turned out to be the most beautiful Island of the whole trip. Our female guide was of South African/Greek Origins with her feet firmly in Greek soil. A visit to an underground cave where on a boat we were rowed under stalactites before disembarking for a long steep clime back to the surface. Really it was just a Tourist trap that involved a very steep climb to the road. Our Coach motored to the top of the Island where we were rewarded with some magnificent views. A stop for lunch at a pleasant Cafe before rejoining our coach for our return to the ship taking in more of the beauty of the coastline. Malta was our next port of call where we caught a taxi in with another couple at 10 Euros it would have cost us the same as a pair, so that was a 5 Euro saving. We had a good walk around having been here before noting the arch at the Bus station has been pulled down and a large steel framework of a building under constructing in its place. The once familiar Yellow buses have all been replaced by modern Arriva buses. We only have a half day here and times flies when your having fun. You really have to wander from the main roadways and make fresh discoveries. The new transport we found were Electric Taxies. We eventually took one back to the berth asking the driver (A woman) to take us the scenic route. Driving through busy narrow street with the driver continually sounding the taxies buzzer seemed to have little affect. Maybe pedestrians thought it was an insect behind them? It was all over too soon. But facing two sea days too our next and last port gave us time to regain our energies. If your wondering what we did on our sea days, the cinema was a great escape and we managed to watch three great movies. 'War Horse', 'The Artist' and the latest 'Mission Impossible'. But my cold got worse and the level of our bottle of Bourbon began to go down rapidly. Oporto in Portugal we docked at the tiny dock of Leixoes. Our shuttle bus took as well into the outskirts so it was a long walk down to the river that I thought was an amazing if untidy looking place. At the river we joined a cruiser for the 6 Bridges trip. It was very impressive if your into bridges. But the shore line offered many photo opportunities. It being a Sunday there wasn't much opportunity to make purchases but there were a few gift shops open on our steep walk back to the shuttle bus so we managed to visit a few. The walk up hill to our shuttle bus really was sheer agony to my right leg. But we made it. With just one sea day to go before we returned back at Southampton. Our last evening meal we said Our fond goodbyes to our table companions. One of our Waiters with whom I had been teasing about his lapel badge (P & O 175 Anniversary) gave me his. I didn't have the heart to tell him I had purchased one in one of the ships shops for £1.99. But I was humbled and since we had joined P & O's new general tipping scheme one left feeling a little guilty. I did add an extra tip to our cabin Stewart who every evening had supplied us with ice for our pre dinner tipple. Having mentioned all my grumbles I would like to give special praise to the kitchen staff for the excellent meals at dinner and to our waiters at Table 39 for the polite and excellent service they gave and the Ma'tre D who's amusing and friendly conversations kept us all entertained at Dinner. Other than the Cinema, that was the only entertainment we were interested in with the Exception of the Aurora Orchestra up in the Crows Nest who were magnificent. But why do groups of people have to shout their conversations over the music when we came to listen to this excellent Orchestra, They obviously didn't. Like the Birmingham group that sat behind us that became so bad we had to move. The sad part of this cruise was loosing 6 passengers through serious illnesses during our journey at various ports. Foodtaster http://www.flickr.com/photos/17889585@N03/sets/72157630219095338/ Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Festival of Music Aboard P&O Ship Aurora 15th October to 1st November 2011 The re-introduction of the through train from Durham to Southampton is a very welcome relief to us. Travelling First Class gives us assistance with our ... Read More
Festival of Music Aboard P&O Ship Aurora 15th October to 1st November 2011 The re-introduction of the through train from Durham to Southampton is a very welcome relief to us. Travelling First Class gives us assistance with our luggage on and off the train. This is another bonus for elderly travellers. Consequently, our journey to the port was comfortable and on time. The "Check In" to the ship was weary and I felt sorry for the many aged travellers in the queues. Cabin C161 was comfortable, with a good deal of storage space. We were quite content with this Inside Cabin. Its facilities were adequate for our 17 day cruise. Cabin Steward Manuel soon acted upon our request for sheets instead of duvets. He was efficient and pleasant throughout the holiday. Once again our request for First Sitting for dinner had been refused and we made our way to The Alexandria Restaurant to plead with the Maitre'D for a change. Second Sitting does not suit Mary's programme for medication. Begrudgingly, we were given a change to a table for six in the Alexandria restaurant. After our activities, on arriving on the ship, my wife and I were really tired and laid down on the beds to rest. Commands from the bridge made us realise that we were summoned for boat drill. We continued to rest and gave the drill a miss. Having had so many drills on this ship and others, we thought that we could take the risk, knowing that our boat station was in the Curzon Theatre. Dining We found the Alexandria Restaurant spacious and attractive. Our main waiter was Linus, who was perfect in every way. He was cheerful and patient on every occasion and would make the maximum effort to give satisfaction. One person at our table complained repeatedly for little reason, but Linus continued to be patient and respectful. He never changed. I must say that Linus was ably assisted by Rajesh, who took his cue from his senior waiter. The standard of most meals was excellent. I consider that the catering was superior to any we have experienced on ships for a considerable period of time. There were always tempting dishes on the menu for dinner. We were often spoiled for choice. Breakfast and lunch ("open seating") were taken in the Medina restaurant. Once again we were highly satisfied with the catering and had good service from a number of waiters including Faizal who gave particularly good service. We used the Orangery and the Medina Restaurant for afternoon tea. This service was much improved from that that we had experienced on the Aurora in 2010. We had no complaints. I had a fright on the first day of the cruise when one of my teeth broke at luncheon. It was not a worry as the variety of food during the cruise allowed me to enjoy my meals at all times. There was some aspects of the Alexandria Restaurant which did concern me and others. The low ceiling seemed to absorb sound and at times made conversation among diners difficult. The noise from the engines also affected us in this respect. Entertainment. The team of musicians who performed in "The Festival of Music" gave us an unforgettable experience. Stephannie Williams had brought together a very well balanced group of singers and instrumentalists. For me the stars were mezzo soprano Maria Jagusz and violinist Vanja Milanova. The accompanist John Wilson took on a difficult task in supporting and he performed admirably. Fellow Guests. We met only one person who had grumbles about the service. However there were some who did not welcome the children on board. We heard some say that in future they would stick to the "Adults Only" cruises. Many aged and disabled people joined together to have much fun. They enjoyed dressing up and mixing with their own kind! We met a regular cruiser aged 91, who was contemplating her next cruise! The old and disabled had every assistance from the ship's crew. Ports Of Call. Valencia. After three gloriously relaxing days at sea, enjoying all the facilities of this magnificent ship, we put in to Valencia, a city that we had visited previously. During these peaceful days we had travelled 1606 nautical miles. The ship had remained comfortable despite a lively sea in the Bay of Biscay. The weather in Valencia was warm and sunny and after a tour of the streets we were able to join a Spanish congregation for a celebration of Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. We prayed for all our sick relatives and friends and also for our correspondents who have given us so much pleasure over the past years. The city centre of Valencia will always have happy memories for us. Palma. We were ashore early on Thursday morning and a shuttle bus took us close to the magnificent Cathedral. Having had a number of holidays in Majorca, which had enabled us to visit the Cathedral, we planned to visit the Churches of St Francis and St. Eulalia which had been recommended in the Port Lecture on Palma. We were not disappointed in the Baroque grandeur of these buildings. There was an added interest, as close by the Church of St Francis was a large secondary school. We happened to hit on a break during lessons and had interesting chats with some of the students who were studying English. I amused them by singing an English song. Corfu. We love the time spent at sea and Friday and Saturday were spent in Aurora enjoying its luxury and being spoiled by a very attentive crew. We anchored in Corfu at about 8am and after an early breakfast took the shuttle bus into the city. My impression of Corfu did not change. Our last visit there in 2010 was disappointing and so was this one. The place seemed so untidy and in some respects neglected. I wondered if it reflected the state of the Greek economy! As this day was Sunday, we made our way to the Roman Catholic Church and found that the congregation was involved with a special celebration which involved the blessing of certain parts of the Church. The Bishop and several clergy, plus civic dignitaries were in attendance. The choir was in good voice and the faithful were dressed in their Sunday best. We enjoyed the experience, although we were mystified by the Greek language. Dubrovnik. As always, Dubrovnik continues to be a jewel among cruise visits. This perfectly preserved medieval city offers its treasures as soon as the shuttle bus dropped us near the centre. A two minute walk and we were entranced by the ancient pavements, surrounded by buildings which echoed yesteryear. We first visited the city in the time of President Tito in 1974 and perceived that Christianity was hanging on despite oppression from the Communist Regime. Today the churches of St. Francis, St Blaise and the Cathedral are in full operation and offer their historic treasures and memories to all. A visit to the Hotel Excelsior, where we had stayed in 1974 was a must for us. We were received in a most pleasant manner by the staff. This was in contrast to the dourness of the inhabitants under Tito's rule. Venice, The sailing into Venice is always of interest, with the ancient buildings and St. Mark's Square within sight. Our arrival at 9am coincided with heavy rain and an icy cold temperature. As we had had a holiday in Venice and had visited the city on a number of previous cruises we decided to stay on board and enjoy the luxury of a very quiet ship. Ancient English optimists dressed for English winters left the ship on their excursions, whilst we used binoculars and camera to the full. Later in the day we espied many dripping wet tourists who looked unhappy as they made their way on to the ship. Palermo. Wednesday the 26th October was spent at sea, as Aurora made its way through the Messina Straits en route to Palermo. Throughout the cruise there has been quite a bit of movement by the ship in the Mediterranean swell. The Port Lecture had drawn attention to the art in the Church of Santa Maria. It was suggested that the mosaics were treasures not to be missed. After breakfast we set out to explore this very busy, traffic polluted city. Unfortunately my wife and I had left our map of the city on board ship and our enquiries concerning the whereabouts of the church of Santa Maria led us to many places other than the church. Eventually we entered the Church of St. Joseph and a very kindly Sicilian young lady took pity on us and took us almost to our desired destination. Imagine our frustration when we were confronted with a closed church. It had been closed since June for renovation. We were not pleased with the Port lecturer, as we made our way back to Aurora. Malaga. Before we left Palermo, the Captain made an announcement that because of the bad weather expected on the coast of Portugal he had decided to change the itinerary and instead of visiting Oporto, we would sail to Malaga. Initially we were disappointed as we had never been to Oporto, but on reflection we looked forward to seeing this interesting Spanish city once again. Aurora continued her course towards Malaga, sailing parallel to the African coast and arrived at about 8am on Saturday 29th October. The visit to the bustling city centre was pleasing and we found ourselves outside of the Church of St. Augustine, where many were gathering for the society wedding of the year. We talked to the guests and entered the church to photograph the proceedings. It was very colourful. We could not leave the city without visiting the Cathedral, which must be one of the most marvellous sights in all Spain. Since our last visit there had been much renovation and painting. It was an exciting experience for us. This visit, which had come about by chance, was the highlight of our shore excursions during the cruise. General Comments. The cruise on Aurora was most enjoyable. The décor of the ship is splendid. The service in our cabin and in the restaurants was excellent. All questions asked in the Reception Area were answered promptly and pleasantly. A breakdown in the flushing mechanism of our toilet was immediately fixed. All staff seemed to carry out their tasks with patience and pleasantry. We were fortunate to experience international artists during the Classical Music Festival. The standard was very high indeed. We thought that it was sad that so many on the cruise had little interest in the classical programme. The performances of soprano Deborah Norman, mezzo-soprano Maria Jagusz, tenor Andrew Goodwin, ably accompanied by John Wilson, were superb, as was the playing of the pianist Marco Fatichenti and that of the violinist Vanya Milanova. Nick Bailey's introduction of these stars was informative and at times amusing. We have some grumbles. Smoking was allowed on the Port side. This was the area that had most of the sun during the 17 days of our journey. We avoided lingering on the Port side. We would ban smoking altogether. If this is not possible, we would ask P&O to not give the smokers the best part of the ship to carry out their pollution. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was our first cruise, I had done a lot of research to find a holiday that would be suitable for our daughter who has allergies, lots of people said a cruise catered well for this. We were recommended P&O by friends and we were ... Read More
This was our first cruise, I had done a lot of research to find a holiday that would be suitable for our daughter who has allergies, lots of people said a cruise catered well for this. We were recommended P&O by friends and we were not disappointed. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Southampton the night before which was lovely. Our car and cases were taken away at aurora's side and we boarded and went for lunch. The sail away was great with a band playing and a glass of champagne to start our first cruise. I had already ordered meals for my daughter by email and they arrived with ours at the table. Every evening the head waiter came to our table with the menu for the following day, She could choose what she wanted and they were able to adapt it to suit. The food was delicious with lots of choices. The Aurora is such a beautiful ship and the staff are really friendly, we were so well looked after. Aurora sailed around the western med and we visited Barcelona, Rome, Pisa, Villefranche and Gibraltar. The children's club had lots going on and our Girls' enjoyed it. The entertainment was great with guest artists and headliners doing some great shows that would be worthy of the West End. Everything was great, better than we expected and I think we will be back!! Pisa was well worth visiting, very pretty, clean and the buildings in Miricle square take your breath away. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I am brand new to the cruise reviews but a very long term big fan of aurora. Our first cruise on her was in july2000 which was the year of her launch. My partner & I and our two daughters then age 8 & 11 were first time cruisers ... Read More
I am brand new to the cruise reviews but a very long term big fan of aurora. Our first cruise on her was in july2000 which was the year of her launch. My partner & I and our two daughters then age 8 & 11 were first time cruisers and we did not know what to expect. What we got was the best family holiday that we had ever had, the ship was beautiful, the food superb and the ships staff from cabin steward to captain were amazing! We were 'hooked'. We have since then cruised on aurora in July which is family holiday time every year, except for this year. (family circumstances meant we could not go, it broke my heart that 'my ship' was sailing without me this year) after that first cruise we invited my parents to cruise with us, bit of a mixed reaction from them "cruising is not for the likes of us dad said" anyway they came with us and have now accompanied us on every cruise since! (including new year on the oriana which was superb) As the years have gone by my son celebrated his 18 th birthday on board, my daughter had the most beautiful romantic wedding in 2010 (she was the one who first came aboard at 11years old) The youngest daughter spent every single birthday from 8years old up to & including her 19th birthday all on board aurora! The last 2 cruises we had four generations as my grandchildren age 3 &4 all had a wonderful time on aurora. From our many and continued experiences it is suffice to say that I feel quite qualified to vouch for cruising on aurora it has never lost its magic for us & I can honestly say that every one from 3 years to 76 years old with teenagers in between have always been enthraled with the experience. During July aurora is filled with all age groups and you can always find a party to join or a quiet corner to sit in. You can be in bed by 10pm or just be going to bed at 10am (you know who you are!) I have seen the food change over the years, the variety and quality have remained the same always excellent. But the sheer extravagance and waste that I saw in earlier years has quite rightly been reigned in. Of course the ship is showing a few signs of age (sailing round and round the world for 12 years will have that effect on all of us old cruisers) she will never compare now to the big, brash 'hotels at sea' or even 'blocks of flats at sea' that are the modern cruise ships. But she remains an 'elegant lady' her beautiful spacious teak decks are not to be found on the new ships, she looks like a ship, feels like a ship and by golly she is a ship that I will be on again soon with my four generations of family. Sailing from country to country port to port, changing views and no unpacking. We have travelled to her every which way ! train, car, coach, limo and even flying. The limo became too cramped for our older generation, the train was chaotic, the plane was cancelled on the way home and we had to get a taxi all the way back to Lancashire. The eaves way coach has now become our method of choice. Now I have been quickly and charmingly 'processed' through the cruise terminal I would not care if I never saw an airport again! I can recommend the kids clubs, the food, the entertainment, the staff, weddings at sea, going to bed in France and waking up in Spain. In fact there is only one thing I would like to do instead and that is go to the restaurants that some of the other cruisers go that think the food is poor, because if they go to better places than sitting on the aft deck of aurora, al fresco while the sun sets sipping cool wine and enjoying 3 course meals to include freshly grilled steaks and seafood for a cover price of £8 .50 approx. then I must have been on a different ship from them! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
My first cruise after serious illness began with an overnight stay at the Elizabeth Hotel in Southampton - recommended, and able to leave the car for a small charge, and only £7-50 away from the terminal. Check-in took 1/2-hour and we ... Read More
My first cruise after serious illness began with an overnight stay at the Elizabeth Hotel in Southampton - recommended, and able to leave the car for a small charge, and only £7-50 away from the terminal. Check-in took 1/2-hour and we were in our cabin, sorry State Room, within an hour of queuing. Our cabin, B158, was spacious and spotless with twin beds and a small but adequate balcony. Toilet was of the aircraft type, noisy and effective. Our cabin steward, Geraldo, was hard working, attentive and pleasant as were all the staff I met. Don't worry about storing your suitcases - Geraldo will find somewhere out of the way and will bring them back in time for packing. Meals were available throughout most (but not all) of the day and were of a very high standard. So much so that I felt no need to pay a supplement to eat in the "designer" restaurants of which there were two. Prices of drinks were very reasonable. I took my own gin with me but no need - it was cheaper on board! Public areas were well-patronised but never crowded and considering the ship has been in constant service for eleven years, paintwork, furniture and carpets were in very good order. I was a little surprised at occasional engine vibrations, with cutlery races across tables in the Orangery - directly above the engines - a popular game. Likewise, I was surprised at how unstable the ship could become in less than calm conditions. Perhaps all ships are the same, and it was never much of an issue. I didn't excurt to Zakinthos, Corfu or Korcula, all of which required the use of tenders. But I did enjoy Malaga (for the Alhambra), Venice and Dubrovnik. These latter two we didn't bother with a guide. For the Alhambra (only) we did buy the excursion and it was excellently organised, including a very good hotel meal. But as a spectacle I was disappointed - the Alcazar in Seville is superior. Apart from a ferry to get from the P&O berth into Venice (at £15) we used the free shuttle bus services for Dubrovnik and Gib - no need for guides here. Entertainment was very good. The ship's own song & dance troup, Headliners, were magnificent and played to full theatres every time, as did a guest magician John Lenahan and comedian Don Reid. The ex-Tremeloes member Chip Hawkes was rather poor however and wore his guitar only for decoration. The small and very cold cinema, The Playhouse, was reasonably patronised but movies were not the best and often were absent when most needed - the 8pm slot. Nobody seemed to mind much, but as the average passenger age must've been in the mid-70's (Madge must be 100 and seems to live on board) no-one voiced a complaint though there was a sprinkling of Grumpies who wouldn't be pleased with anything, except for the opportunity to complain. The ship's TV was absolutely awful both for picture quality and programmes - take a DVD player. So - would I cruise again, on the Aurora? The answer would be a definite Yes, with the proviso that as my recuperation from illness has been so aided by the holiday, I feel no immediate need to be waited on so very well. Well done P&O. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We have had a wonderful holiday on Aurora, cruise R105 from Southampton to Venice and home. This was our second P&O cruise, in April 2010 we cruised on P&O's Arcadia to the Caribbean and back. We simply loved Aurora, ... Read More
We have had a wonderful holiday on Aurora, cruise R105 from Southampton to Venice and home. This was our second P&O cruise, in April 2010 we cruised on P&O's Arcadia to the Caribbean and back. We simply loved Aurora, although as has been mentioned elsewhere she is looking a little tired in places, the overall quality of our holiday was unbeatable. From a wonderful reception at the Ocean terminal onwards, we were met with such courtesy and kindness and as always P&O service was immaculate. We chose a mini suite on B Deck, and were very pleasantly surprised by the size of the accommodation and quality of the fittings in general, although P&O should be aware that the piping on some of the easy chairs was very worn and indeed loose in one place. Also, the brochure description of "a range of current magazines" was in fact one copy of the January 2011 Autocar which my wife found less than riveting! Unlike our suite on Arcadia last year, there were plenty of electrical sockets, something which I gather from other comments is still quite rare in cruise ships. Our cabin steward kept our accommodation immaculate and room service was quick and efficient. We greatly enjoyed our evening dinners in the Alexandria restaurant with our table companions -- Clive, Mary, Quentin, Anne, Clive again, and Jackie. You were all stars! And we were very satisfied with the food and choice of food which was served. The table generally began to notice during the second week that our meals were taking longer and longer, and when I enquired of the steward why this was occurring he advised me that he was actually pacing his service to suit what he perceived to be our requirements. What more could we ask for? A typical evening would start at 1730 with G&T in our cabin, then after a bit of primping it was off to the Playhouse for a wonderful concert of classical piano music, then into Champions for a cocktail before dinner at 2030 in the Alexandria. And it was just like a dinner party for us every night. At about 2227 someone would remember that we all wanted to go to the show in the Curzon Theatre -- the Alexandria restaurant is in the stern, the theatre is in the bows, and this resulted in a gentle sprint from one end of the ship to the other to get into the theatre before the lights went down for another wonderful evening with the Headliners. I've read several comments in various review pages about the Headliners; I think they're absolutely wonderful, to put on eight different shows in two weeks. Indeed as one member of the cast commented, when you're performing in the West End you may be doing eight shows a week, but it's the same show every time, which gets quite boring. The regime on P&O ships is far more demanding for the cast but also far more rewarding. And then after the show, up to the Crow's Nest for more music, indeed the highlight of the evenings spent in the Crow's Nest was when members of the band turned up for some easy jazz until about 0030, and so to bed. And some people say cruising is expensive! When all of this was included? It is, I think, invidious to compare two different ships from the same line. Arcadia and Aurora are very different and quite rightly so, for it gives us all a choice. I guess the main difference is that on Aurora there are children, and at the time we travelled most of them were of preschool age. This had a significant effect upon the demographic of the passengers, in that there were far younger people, the parents of the children, and this changed the balance for the better. And a word of praise for the young people who look after the children on the ship, not only do the children seem to be having a very good time but so do the crew. I heard only one child complaining and that was because she was being taken ashore on an excursion with her parents when she would have preferred to have stayed with her friends on the ship. That surely is a sign of successful fun and games. This was a beautifully balanced cruise, in that we had several days at sea but also visited some extremely interesting places, some of which we had already visited before but no matter. Highlight of the cruise of course was sailing into Venice early in the morning. The perspective of looking down on Venice is quite remarkable and I guess not available from anywhere else. Dubrovnik, as we had feared, since we last visited it in 1987 has become much more popular, busy and commercialised. We were glad we simply used the Shuttle Bus and were able to scuttle back to the ship after about an hour's jostling. Although we have visited Majorca on several occasions previously, we had never been into Palma before, and it was a delightful surprise, especially the glorious cathedral. From the ship Catania looked rather a grim little town, we had visited Sicily before and 'done' Etna, Taormina etc., so we didn't go ashore there; those of our table mates who did and went no further could not wait to get back to the ship. But those who took excursions further afield had a very good time. Another highlight of the cruise for us was a morning on the beach in Cephalonia and we shall be returning on another occasion. From Cadiz we took the excursion to Jerez, to the Gonzalez Byass Sherry Bodega and this was an outstanding trip to visit a really beautiful building full of history, wonderful smells and of course the wine tasting at the end was very acceptable. We were privileged last year on Arcadia to share a table with Captain Ian Walters, his mother and other family members, so we had become accustomed to fairly regular contact with the captain and senior officers. This was one aspect of Aurora which we found slightly disappointing; apart from his official appearances at the welcome parties and his televised interview from the stage of the Curzon Theatre, we did not see the captain during the day, and he didn't appear to wish to stop and chat with anybody, which we thought was a bit of a shame. The entertainments team was super, worked very hard and gave us two out of three excellent Sailaways, far better than we have experienced on Arcadia. We still haven't obtained an explanation as to why, in their brochure, P&O refer to decks by letters, and yet on the ships by numbers. We wonder if this is deliberately to confuse, because confuse it certainly does! Finally to the one thing which does irritate, and from other comments I realise it irritates many other P&O passengers. Why must non-smokers have to tolerate smoking.? May I suggest a solution specific to Aurora and possibly applicable to other ships. Smoking was irritating in two particular areas, namely on our balcony and on the deck around the Pennant Bar where many people take breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner. I would like to suggest that P&O may care to consider making the balcony suites, mini suites and cabins on one side of the ship available for non-smokers, and those on the other side for smokers. This would totally overcome the problem of second-hand smoke wafting onto one's balcony from other parts of the ship. And with regard to the Pennant Bar, simply ban smoking on that deck during mealtimes and ensure an officer keeps an eye on it and encourages people to comply; I appreciate that mealtimes on a cruise ship are somewhat more protracted than ashore, but perhaps 8 AM to 10 AM and 12 PM to 2:30 PM would go some way towards relieving this problem. And it would leave smokers with many other parts of the ship available for them. Shall we holiday again on Aurora? Definitely and we have already booked a cruise to the Baltic next July. Thank you P&O for a smashing holiday. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
BACKGROUND We are relatively new to cruising, and had been on five cruises before. I won't fly, so we only cruise from the UK, usually starting with holiday dates and looking for good itineraries that fit in with them. Because ... Read More
BACKGROUND We are relatively new to cruising, and had been on five cruises before. I won't fly, so we only cruise from the UK, usually starting with holiday dates and looking for good itineraries that fit in with them. Because itineraries are more important to us than cruise lines, we had cruised with four different lines: Fred Olsen (Braemar) to the Norwegian Fjords and North Cape, Princess (Sea Princess) to Iceland, Norway and the British Isles, Cunard (QE2) to the Central Med as far as Turkey, Royal Caribbean (Jewel of the Seas) to the Baltic, and back to Cunard (Queen Victoria) to New York, New England and Eastern Canada. Not much chance of collecting many loyalty points like that! We liked the idea of trying P&O, but don't fancy anything as big as Ventura or Azura, have read some uncomplimentary reports of Artemis and didn't really like the idea of Aurora with her history of mechanical problems. We were really looking to try out Oriana, but it was an Aurora cruise that fitted the bill this year on the combination of dates and itinerary, so after quizzing a friend who loves Aurora we took the plunge and booked a 16-night cruise on her to the Adriatic. It only called at one port we'd been to before (Malaga) and offered two full days in Venice, which we gather was a selling point for quite a few people. Although we had taken balcony cabins on our previous two cruises, we decided on an outside cabin this time, partly because the enclosed balcony design on Aurora didn't really appeal and partly because she has such good public deck areas that a balcony isn't quite as essential as it is on some newer ships. We booked less than two months before departure so we were offered a very good deal on a guaranteed cabin basis, but I had noticed that some of Aurora's outside cabins face onto public decks which we didn't fancy so we paid a little more for a nominated grade KC cabin on D-deck (deck 8, or Devanha Deck) just forward of amidships on the port side. The K grades are the lowest grade that gets you a bath as well as a shower. The travel agent (Iglu) was very helpful and the booking process was painless. TRAVEL TO PORT We live about two and a half hours drive from Southampton so for us a same-day departure by car is the obvious thing to do, especially with the amount of clothing that a cruise with five formal nights implies. We chose the CPS parking option, which is expensive but very convenient as it just involves dropping the car off at the cruise terminal. We don't like the alternative idea of driving to the other side of Southampton Water and being brought to the ship by shuttle minibus. We lived in Southampton for ten years (at the time when QE2 was new and the old Queens were retiring) so we quite enjoy driving there for a look around. Dropping the car off took a little longer than on previous occasions, but this was excusable on a day when CPS had three P&O turnarounds to cope with (Oriana, Aurora and Azura). Check-in at the City Cruise Terminal was quite quick and we didn't have to wait in a holding lounge but walked straight to the ship at ground level and up a short gangway to deck 4. Our cabin was ready for us and our luggage arrived within minutes of our arrival there. Our cabin stewardess, Mary Jane, greeted us with a natural and pleasant smile which lasted throughout the voyage. STATEROOM It appears acceptable with P&O to refer to the stateroom as a cabin, which still comes more easily to most Brits. Ours turned out to be as well-located as had appeared on the deck plan - very handy for the forward stairs and lifts but not on too busy a thoroughfare, and handy for the many public facilities on decks 6, 7 and 8. The doorways from the public part of deck 8 to the cabin area are quite discreet and don't invite use by people not occupying cabins on that deck. The cabin was on the small side, but not unusually so for a cabin of this grade. As usual, having the beds made up as a double rather than twins meant a bit of a squeeze between the desk and the bottom of the bed. It was reasonably well-equipped, with plenty of hanging space, a hair dryer and basic toiletries. A bowl of fruit drop sweets and a couple of small bottles of mineral water were provided and, joy of joys, tea and coffee-making facilities. These we really appreciated and made a lot of use of, as we are not room service people. Drawer space was a bit tight, but otherwise we found the cabin perfectly adequate. The bathroom had storage behind the outer wings of a triple mirror, ideal for preening. Tea and coffee ingredients and biscuits were replenished and mugs washed for us twice a day. Pillow chocolates were still provided, but Mary Jane wasn't into origami animals with the towels. I can't say this bothered us. Only one electrical socket was provided, and this was of the British type. The decor was pleasant if unexciting, with light-coloured wood and walls and large prints of scenes that were familiar to us (Leeds Castle in Kent and Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire). THE SHIP The "pleasant if unexciting" description applies throughout the ship. Pale colours predominate, which I have to say I prefer to the dark panelling on other ships that accentuate the traditional like Queen Victoria and, I gather, her half-sister Arcadia. Theming, where applied, is very subtle. The main restaurants, Alexandria and Medina, are billed as having Egyptian and Moorish decor respectively, but you probably wouldn't notice unless you were told. The buffet restaurant, called the Orangery, benefits from colourful laminates but is still quite restrained. Most of the lounges have British country house furnishings and are very comfortable and restful but hardly inspired. The atrium extends from decks 5 to 8 and is not as big as on most modern ships. Again, pale colours predominate, including the tall sculpture which is in a single shade of pale green. The main shops off this area rejoice in the names of Piccadilly and Mayfair, further emphasising the restrained Britishness of this ship. The good library, well-supplied with board games and jigsaw puzzles, is also in this area. The theatre, forward, is well-designed, with very few seats suffering from an obstructed view of the stage. The main show lounge, Carmen's, is aft and is reasonably fit for purpose, with a dance floor you would call quite spacious if you hadn't sailed with Cunard. The Playhouse, centrally positioned on deck 8, looks very fresh with comfortable moquette seats. It is used for talks, recitals and films. If the above description makes Aurora sound like a rather boring ship, this is probably a bit unfair. Rather, it is very comfortable, liveable and relaxing, though it would not be a good choice for cruisers who demand pzazz and a substantial wow factor from their cruise ships. The open decks are superb. There is a huge amount of deck space (real teak, of course), and it is well-stocked with sunloungers, steamer chairs and reclining chairs. Deck 7 offers a continuous promenade of just under a third of a mile for walkers, though it is internal at the bow as on many ships. The tiered decks at the stern are magnificent, a feature sadly missing on more modern ships where every edge is taken up with balcony cabins. Deck 6 aft is home to the Terrace pool and a paddling pool and was almost exclusively used by families on our cruise. It is adjacent to good indoor facilities for children from infants to teens. Decks 12, 13 and 14 are mainly devoted to two pools (one with a retractable roof), bars and large sunbathing and recreation areas (shuffleboard, quoits, golf, a multisports court and table tennis), though it is also home to the Orangery and the Sidewalk Cafe where burgers, pizzas and fish and chips can be obtained. It is very pleasant to be able to take food to the open areas on deck 12 when the weather permits. Deck 12 also houses the spa and fitness centres, but nobody we met used these facilities so I cannot comment on them. Deck 13 also accommodates the Crow's Nest, a fine lounge with great views forward and to the sides. DINING All passengers are assigned to a table in one of the two main restaurants for one of two fixed sittings, at 6.30 and 8.30pm. We ate in our assigned restaurant every night, so we are not able to comment on the alternative dining facilities, comprising open dining in the Orangery with a different theme each evening and open dining for a supplementary charge in Cafe Bordeaux or the Pennant Grill. The food in the main restaurants is good, mainly British, three-star hotel restaurant fare. I would have said English, but there is an interesting smattering of Scottish dishes like haggis and neeps, Cullen Skink and Cranachan. Portions are, in our opinion, generally just right, though with occasional inconsistencies. Sirloin steak or salmon are always available for those who don't like that evening's choices of main course, but we never had to resort to them as we always found at least one, usually more than one, choice we were happy with. Oddly, the salmon was served with the tomato sauce favoured by Americans even though there were hardly any Americans on board (one US citizen, one Canadian and one Colombian in a total of 1935 passengers). Vegetables are interesting and varied, though on the potato front there is too much reliance on rather unappetising roast potatoes. Desserts were of a very high standard, including an excellent Grand Marnier souffle on one evening, but strangely there was no baked alaska evening (which didn't really worry me as I find it rather over-rated). Up to five courses are available if desired, plus coffee and petit fours. Our waiters were very friendly and obliging and did not try to hurry us away from the table even when we were getting perilously close to the time for the second sitting. Our wine waiter was charming and attentive. We did not seek his advice on wines so we do not know how knowledgeable he would have been. He gave good service even though we chose the inexpensive house wines every evening, and did not try to steer us towards more expensive choices. We were on a table of eight, and all our table companions (excellent company) dined in the Alexandria Restaurant every evening so we received no reports of the other venues. Some of them ate in Cafe Bordeaux during the day and seemed to like it. Virtually everyone seemed happy to adhere to the dress codes in the evening. This extended to most people dressing in black and white on the formal evening of the black and white ball, whether they were going to the ball or not. Most men chose to wear a tie with their jacket on semi-formal evenings, though this was by no means obligatory. And most people managed to find something flowery or parroty to wear on the casual tropical evening, when we were also given garlands on arrival in the dining room. A nice touch, that, and most people chose to wear their garlands for the rest of the evening. We used the Orangery self-service restaurant every day for breakfast and lunch. The servery areas are not all that well laid out, and obtaining hot food could be a slow affair on account of the lack of decisiveness and dexterity of fellow passengers and a British reluctance to move ahead even when you only wanted something at the far end of the counter - not, of course, P&O's fault. Nevertheless, the food was good and replenishment was very efficient. There was a good range of cold food but it was nearly always the same range of items. Desserts were very British, almost quaintly so with trifle, jelly and a good stick-to-your-ribs hot sweet like spotted dick or rhubarb crumble, though gateaux and cheesecakes were also available. The picture was not as good at the drinks station, where they were constantly running out of cups, tumblers or spoons, sometimes even hot water, and at breakfast time fruit juices often ran out. Cutlery and napkins could take a bit of finding at times too. In common with most ships, the fruit juices are made up from concentrates and are pretty awful, spoiling an otherwise good food experience. We were disapponted that there was not even a basic still soft drink like lemon squash available on tap; in fact after noon, water was the only cold drink that was available without additional payment to the ever-present and over-attentive drinks waiters. Food was available in the Orangery throughout the day, though strangely not for midnight snacks, which were waiter-served in Cafe Bordeaux. There was a galley walk-through on one afternoon, along with a chocoholics' buffet which was very good and very popular. ACTIVITIES There seemed to be a reasonable range of activities available for the adult passengers, ranging from the deck sports mentioned above to computing and craft classes. We spent part of most sea days at talks given by a very amusing archaeologist and a former RAF Officer and at port presentations, which although mainly concerned with selling shore excursions also gave some information for people wishing to sightsee independently. Although we weren't travelling with children and therefore had no first-hand experience of the children's activities, I have to say that the youth staff seemed to make an excellent job of keeping the many children and teenagers on board amused and occupied. Our cruise took place during the first two weeks of the English school holidays, and seeing the number of children boarding at Southampton I feared that the cruise would be less than restful for adults, but the children were kept so well entertained that irritation was limited to a small number of occasions when teens got a little bit intrusive late on a couple of evenings. If you used the aft decks the noise level could get a bit high, but only for relatively short periods in the day and usually with the happy and amusing sounds of a member of the youth staff being ducked in the pool by his charges. Activities were generally divided into three age groups so the littlies weren't vulnerable to being bowled over by the larger children. SERVICE As already mentioned, we had good service from our cabin stewardess and table and wine waiters. Bar service was reasonably good but constant enquiries whether you would like a drnk were very wearing, with up to three requests by different waiters in a five minute period. Officers and staff appeared relaxed and friendly, which of course helped the passengers to relax too. ENTERTAINMENT The highlight of the entertainment was the Headliners Theatre Company. On other cruises we have been mystified at the limited use made of the resident song-and-dance troupe, but on Aurora they performed 50-60 minute shows roughly every other night, each show following a theme like Musicals, Abba, Queen or Las Vegas. There weren't any star performers in the group, but they were all good, well-rehearsed and worked their socks off. Their shows were all well produced. They also performed at a very enjoyable al fresco party on the upper decks on one evening. Other entertainers appeared in the theatre and were of a reasonably good standard, with an emphasis on comedy-and-music acts. There was one female singer whose appearances were delayed owing to illness; when she did appear her voice was obviously not back to full power but she was still quite good. A classical pianist gave a few recitals. The ship's orchestra was superb, supporting both the Headliners and the visiting performers magnificently. Other bands and individual musicians played in the bars and lounges throughout the ship, and were all good though not outstanding. The disco didn't appear to get very busy, except when quizzes were being held there. A talent show was held on the last evening of the cruise, and some of the passengers taking part were very good. More importantly, none of them were cringe-worthy as can sometimes be the case. Passenger acts were supplemented by turns by crew and entertainment staff. PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS The ship called at Malaga, Dubrovnik, Venice (two days), Split, Corfu and Cadiz. The voyage was symmetrical, with two sea days and a day in a Spanish port and then a further two sea days to reach the Adriatic, and the same on the homeward journey. Once we had reached the Adriatic we had five shore days on the trot, all in good places that were well worth visiting, but very tiring. We were very lucky with the weather, which had been alternating between 40-degree scorchers and thundery rain, but we had sun and temperatures in the upper 20s and lower 30s throughout. The selection of shore excursions on offer was good, giving opportunities for scenic, historical, beach, activity or entertainment outings. We like to explore independently where it is sensible to do so and we do quite a bit of research on the internet before we set off, investigating opening times and prices and local public transport services. This was important on this occasion to avoid disappointment, especially for our Monday calls at Malaga and Corfu and our Sunday call at Split. MALAGA With the Alcazaba, the Picasso Museum and the Botanical Gardens all being closed on Mondays, we decided to go on a ship's tour. The classic tour from Malaga is to Granada, but we were put off by the two-hour journey each way so we opted for a more modest but still very enjoyable trip to the town and caves of Nerja, on the coast about an hour's drive east from Malaga, which has the advantage of being in the opposite direction to Torremolinos. Malaga is a pleasant enough city for a day's local sightseeing and shopping, but we had already done this on a previous cruise. There is a hop-on hop-off bus service covering all the major attractions, but most of these are within walking distance of the port and each other so we do not think we would want to spend 15 Euros each on the fare. For a good low-cost excursion, take a number 35 bus from near the port (fare 1.10 Euros) to the outstanding viewpoint of the Gibralfaro, then walk back down to the Alcazaba through pleasant parkland. The cruise quay is rather a long way from the port entrance, so a free shuttle bus is usually provided. DUBROVNIK This was our first time in Dubrovnik, so there was only one thing to do, take a walk through the walled Old City. We prefer to do this kind of thing at our own pace so we didn't consider a ship's tour. Most ships come in to the port area of Gruz, two kilometres from the Old City. Our port presenter had not let on that P&O were going to lay on shuttle buses, and had in fact advised us to take local buses 1A or 1B to Pile, the end of the Old City nearest to Gruz. Having done this, we were somewhat surprised to see P&O shuttle buses when we were on our way back, but by then we had already bought our bus tickets. Our own fault - we should have checked the ship's newspaper for last-minute information - and hardly serious, with bus tickets at just 8 Kuna each (just under £1). It's quite fun getting the local sights, sounds (and smells) on the local bus anyway. The Old City is just amazing, with all its old pale stone buildings. Shopping, eating and drinking are all good, though not particularly cheap. The must-do activity is the walk around the city walls, which are still complete. The circuit is almost two kilometres round and there are limited opportunities for getting on and off. A fee is payable. To avoid over-exerting ourselves in the mid-day sun we did the wall walk as soon as we arrived, starting at the north-east entry point to get the uphill bit of the walk over first. You are only allowed to do the walk in an anti-clockwise direction, and there are some pretty big drops in places. I am not very good with heights and there were a few places where I had to look straight ahead along the path to avoid panic, but there are parapets all the way round and the fantastic views are worth a few moments of anxiety. There is an attractive old port at the eastern edge of the Old City with excursion boats coming and going all the time. VENICE Venice in the flesh is just like the Venice you see on the tourist posters. It does not disappoint. Yes, it is hot, heaving with people and very tiring, but it's worth it. When the hubbub of St Mark's Square or the Rialto gets too much there are quieter backwaters to explore. Our ship had many tours on offer, all involving water transport from the ship's dock, and a boat shuttle to St Mark's Square costing £7 each way. This seemed a bit expensive but it was very convenient and didn't compare too badly with the single fare of 6.50 Euros on the local water buses (the vaporetti), especially considering that the walk to the nearest vaporetto stop was quite long and best avoided by using the limited free shuttle bus provided by P&O. With two days to explore the city, we had bought 36-hour passes for the vaporetti on the internet for 19.55 Euros and made very good use of them, making seven journeys which would have cost 45.50 Euros at single fares and involved a lot of queueing at ticket booths. We visited St Mark's Basilica and a few other churches, but didn't go inside the Doge's Palace on this trip. We had been advised that the best viewpoint was the top of the belltower on the island of San Giorgio, but you are just as high on the top deck of your cruise ship as you sail in past the end of the Grand Canal, so we didn't bother with that. The few bridges that cross the Grand Canal also make great viewpoints, especially the Rialto and Accademia Bridges. SPLIT Split is a tender port on most cruise visits and was reached by tender from Aurora, though Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas was at the quayside the day we were there. Tenders drop you within easy walking distance of the old town, built inside a Roman Emperor's palace. If you've had enough of old cities then the Marjan country park is also within (longish) walking distance. We elected for a ship's tour, which started with a short walking tour of the old part of Split then took us by coach to Trogir, a small and very old city occupying a small island sandwiched between the mainland and the larger island of Ciovo. On the way we called at a restaurant in a converted water mill for a snack of bread, cheese, cold meat and local wine. Our free time in Trogir was shortened partly by having a very loquacious tour guide and partly because the walking tour of Split had taken longer than it should have because our party included some people with very limited mobility, despite the tour being clearly advertised as involving a high level of physical activity. All the same, it was an enjoyable tour. Although our visit was on a Sunday a large number of souvenir stalls were in evidence in Split along with a local market. CORFU Our research had revealed that many of the visitor attractions in Corfu Town would be closed for our Monday visit, though the town was very busy with shoppers and sightseers. There were three cruise ships in town that day, and only two cruise berths, so we ended up being tendered in from Aurora. The sea was calm and the tendering process seemed efficient so this wasn't too much of a problem for us, though people with mobility problems who had expected the ship to be docked might have seen it differently. The cruise terminal is a bit too far from the centre of Corfu Town for most people to walk, so P&O provided a free shuttle bus, though only a few days earlier they had been unsure whether their local agent would manage to arrange this. We did not think there would be enough to do in Corfu Town for us to want to spend a full day there, so we went on a morning tour entitled "Leisurely Corfu" which visited the pretty west coast resort of Paleokastritsa, with stops at the village of Lakones whose elevated position gives good coastal views and at a distillery producing orange liqueur. Our route back to Corfu Town took us high into the hills separating the northern and central parts of Corfu, with panoramic views of both. Corfu Town was very hot so after a quick look around the shops we returned to the ship fairly early. CADIZ Our call at Cadiz was in some ways similar to our earlier call at Malaga, in that there is one classic tour, in this case to Seville, but the one and a half hour journey each way deterred us from trying it and we settled for the more leisurely "Mountain Villages" excursion to Vejer de la Frontera, one of the prettiest of the Andalucian "white villages". We continued down to the coast to see Cape Trafalgar and visited the pleasant seaside resort of Conil where we had an hour's free time, which we used to enjoy a proper Spanish lunch. We didn't have much time to explore Cadiz after our return, even though the ship's position in the harbour made it only a short walk to the city centre. Those who had stayed in the city for the whole day said that it was pleasant enough but we hadn't really missed much. DISEMBARKATION We were told that we could leave our luggage outside our cabins any time on the day before disembarkation, which meant that the clutter in the corridors was not as bad as usual just before bedtime. The blow of an early rising was softened by the clocks going back an hour that night, so the late finishing time of the talent show was not a problem. Our disembarkation at Southampton was the most relaxed and pleasant we have ever encountered. Restaurants on the ship remained open long enough for a leisurely breakfast and we had been told that we didn't have to vacate our cabins early. We chose to leave ours some time before our allotted disembarkation time anyway and went with our overnight bag to the Crows Nest which was almost empty. Someone told us that things were quiet enough at the gangway that the crew were not insisting on people waiting for their time slot so we disembarked earlier than expected. Luggage collection and our return to our car were smooth and easy, and we drove away fresh and unfrazzled, a continuation of the relaxed feel that had been a feature of the whole cruise. SUMMARY Aurora was better than we had expected. She is not an exciting ship, but she and her crew are set up to give a comfortable and relaxed holiday, with facilities that make the cruise enjoyable whether you choose to be active or to do as little as possible. She is very British and makes few concessions to the tastes of people based elsewhere. On our cruise, with 1921 of the 1935 passengers being from Great Britain or Ireland, this was clearly no great problem. This was our first cruise with P&O, and whilst I don't think we will become as attached to P&O cruising as many Brits clearly are, we would be quite happy to cruise with them again given the right itinerary on the right dates. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
There was a large queue when the four of us arrived at Arrivals, it was well outside the Departures door. However, from arriving at the back of the queue to stepping onto Aurora took 45 minutes, where we were directed to the Crystal Pool ... Read More
There was a large queue when the four of us arrived at Arrivals, it was well outside the Departures door. However, from arriving at the back of the queue to stepping onto Aurora took 45 minutes, where we were directed to the Crystal Pool by an officer for a BBQ buffet while our room was prepared. My first impressions of Aurora showed her to be just as clean, comfortable and welcoming as I remember. It was lovely to be back and I sat there by the Crystal pool with the first of many cups of Earl Grey with a big grin on my face. Our cabin was an inside on deck five, F203. Really close to the middle stairways, reception, and directly beneath our restaurant, Medina. I love the storage in these cabins. Somehow four of us, with five suitcases, two bulging suit carriers, and numerous hand luggage managed to get everything put away in the four wardrobes, and eight drawers. In the bathroom, there are two large hidden storage areas behind the mirrors. I had brought with me one of those shoe storage hangers which had 16 pockets. I hung this on the inside of the bathroom door and filled it with medical bits and pieces, costume jewellery, lotions and potions, and other smaller items which tend to get lost in drawers and bags. The under-bed storage fitted our cases very well, and we used the storage area under the small couch for our shoes. The fridge contained four complimentary bottles of Aurora water (we used these and refilled them for days out). My son and daughter stored their stash of Irn Bru in the fridge for the duration of the cruise. Our cabin steward, Sudhaker, dealt with my initial request for extra towels in the bathroom immediately, they came within five minutes. Sudhaker was a lovely man, quiet, unobtrusive, always polite and smiling and he kept our cabin sparkling. It was great to come back after dinner to see he'd brought order back from the chaos of our bathroom. It was pristine clean, and neat again. The flat screen TV showed three film channels with a total of thirty six films shown 24 hours a day on rotation throughout the cruise. There four BBC channels also (reception permitting), three dedicated to World news, and three others ship related (one repeated port talks). Our teens were made welcome at Decibels, at the back of deck 8. We left them there are sat in the sunshine by the pool on deck 8 (where I would spend a lot of my cruise), and when we returned to pick them up they were deep in conversation with other teens, already immersed and enjoying themselves. Incidentally, there were a total of 117 kids on Aurora for this sailing: 76 in the 13-17 age bracket; twenty 9-13s and nineteen under 9s. The previous cruise ad only 33 kids altogether (Greenland/Iceland/Norway). The one after this, 400! We were on an early sitting at Medina, table 33. We had George and Jordan as our waiters and George remembered us from a previous cruise (four years ago). We had a delicious meal, silver service, beautifully served, and I felt totally spoiled. I felt that the portions were more than adequate and if we wanted extra we just had to ask. Our other dinner options included the Orangery, where each night was a different themed buffet; Bordeaux on deck 8, where there was a cover charge of £4.99 for the evening meal, free the rest of the time, open 24 hours. We ate there one night when Caravan was playing, lovely atmosphere. Or of course where was the room service option. I never used room service at all though so cannot comment on it. I must also mention the Sidewalk cafe by the Crystal Pool on deck 12. Here you can get burgers, pizza, baked potatoes and fajitas during the day, freshly prepared. Also between 12-2 you can get a freshly made sandwich. This was not well publicised but once I knew about it, I had several sandwich lunches. The bread was lovely. There was also the Pennant Grill, outside on deck 12 which also had a cover charge in the evenings. We did not eat here though so can't comment. For breakfast and lunch we had the same four options; formal dining, Bordeaux, Orangery, room service. I usually opted for Bordeaux where I could get a table to myself (to read one of the ten books I'd optimistically bought with me to read), and sit and enjoy a delicious meal in the (usually) quiet, calm atmosphere. Bordeaux sometimes got busy though, and one of the waiters would write our cabin numbers on a piece of paper, and we would sit and wait. It was worth the wait. Very late at night, I'd meet the rest of the family at Bordeaux for Horlicks or hot chocolate, and chat in the relaxed atmosphere before retiring to bed. I've been trying to analyse why I so enjoy cruising on Aurora. I just feel so comfortable and relaxed here. Deck 8, where I spent a lot of time, at the library, Vanderbuilts (daily craft class), the cinema, Bordeaux, and the family pool at the back. Or the Promenade deck where the recliners are deadly. I go there to read, watch the horizon, on a hot day it's the perfect place. However, I always doze off within 20 minutes! I understand that waiters came around serving afternoon tea on deck 7, but I never went at that time so I cannot confirm this. I did go to formal afternoon tea once, and the warm scones came with clotted cream. Oh my word it was yummy. There was a two-tiered cake stand filled with a selection of cakes, and the waiters bought finger sandwiches on trays. There was a menu of different teas to choose from. Heavenly. One of the high spots on this cruise was the craft workshop. I only went initially to accompany my daughter, but got completely hooked. Linda, hosting the event, had a display of some beautiful beaded bracelets and necklaces, and she would be there to offer help when we made them, and boy we needed the help initially. There were two sessions on sea days (ten sea days altogether); a morning and an afternoon. Linda also held afternoon session on port days, for those passengers who couldn't keep away. I rationed myself to one session a day, but throughout the whole cruise made ten bracelets and necklaces. It was fiddly and sometimes frustrating but always rewarding. I now have a new hobby! The Headliners dancers were a new group, this was their second cruise. I enjoyed all the performances but two particular performances stand out for me: 'Stop! in the name of Love' and 'At the Hop' both done in the style of a story. Really enjoyed those two. We had three comedians, Adrian Walsh, Martin Daniels and Don Reid, all very enjoyable. The Whyte Brothers only did one performance due to illness. This was a pity because they were great. They did 50s and 60s rock and roll stuff, which was mostly before my time (!), but they did it really well. The audience loved their stuff. Paul Baker, a singer who has sung in many musicals, did a couple of very popular shows. He was excellent. Ports. We visited Palma and a complimentary shuttle bus took us to the edge of the city, by the magnificent Cathedral la Seu. Our second port was Naples. We docked outside the harbour but had to move at 11am so at noon onwards there was a tender service to get us back to the ship. We got on one of these Red Bus tours which stopped outside the port and did two tours. An excellent way to experience the unique driving styles of the local population. Real heart in the mouth stuff. Next, Dubrovnik. We needed our passport to go ashore here. Before we left the port, our bus was boarded by an official who wanted to see our passports. Someone on another bus was sent back because he did not have one. It was the same in Split, our other Croation port. Complimentary shuttle bus to Pile Gate, by the entrance to the city walls. It is not necessary to use local currency, euros are accepted here. It costs 10 euros for adult and 5 for children to walk around the walls. I recommend it, the views are outstanding, however the steps are steep, and surfaces uneven. We bought ice creams at a very reasonable 1.50 euros and walked down the Placa to the harbour. I am looking forward to returning to this beautiful place. I recommend you get up early to see the slow glide into Venice. We did an excursion to see the Doges Palace and St Mark's Basilica plus a gondola ride. I reckon it was worth the cost just to avoid the massive queues waiting outside these places in the baking heat. We just walked right in. I would love to return maybe in April or October when the weather is a bit cooler. Next, Split, Croatia. We used tenders to get ashore and walked to the Walled Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. There was a market here and it was interesting to see the local fruit, veg and other foods on sale. Corfu was our next port. I stayed on board because of a migraine, but the rest of the family used the complimentary shuttle bus to visit the Fort. Our final port was Cadiz. It was much cooler here, only 27 degrees. We went on the Sherry and Horse tour. We were given two bottles of sherry to sample and were poured a third glass from a different bottle. We took what was left of the two bottles back to the ship plus another three we bought. None of the bottles were removed from us, and we drank the opened bottles in the cabin later. A far cry from RC and Princess. The Spanish horses were wonderful, a real treat. Visiting these ports at this time of year, take an umbrella, a sun hat and a Spanish fan for the heat. These proved really useful to me. I had reason to go to reception on some occasions over the cruise with queries, and felt that the staff were attentive, polite and effective at dealing with same. Drinks prices were reasonable. Ginger beer, my drink of choice, 330cl, was just £1.20. My husband liked a pint of Speckled Hen and this was £2.70. There was no added service charge. There were no intrusive announcements during the day, no hard sell of products, no art auctions, no hassle from waiters wanting drinks orders. This helped me feel relaxed and comfortable for the duration of the cruise. There is a lot I haven't mentioned, however I think you can see that myself and the family had a great experience on Aurora. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
AURORA - "Simply The Best?" or "On the Road To Nowhere!" Tina Turner's hit single is played at every opportunity on board P&Os queen of the fleet but since a Canary cruise last year has 12 months sailing ... Read More
AURORA - "Simply The Best?" or "On the Road To Nowhere!" Tina Turner's hit single is played at every opportunity on board P&Os queen of the fleet but since a Canary cruise last year has 12 months sailing around the world made a difference ? Sadly, yes ! Whether the result of the American Carnival takeover or whether a direct impact of Aurora's fateful engine replacement this year costing P&O $millions in repairs and lost revenue, the message and ethos is now an overwhelming sense of cut back, downsize and generate as much IOR (increased Onboard Revenue) as humanly possible. It is a very sad stain on what could otherwise be a very pleasant cruising experience. Cover charges in the Pennant Grill (the outside restaurant) have risen in 12 months from £5 to £6.75 a 35% increase! Meals are free everywhere else. Even an espresso or cappuccino at dinner now requires a surcharge ! Bar waiters are on commission and as a result assault you at every opportunity with a tenacity rivaling that of double glazing salesmen. I sit down and zap the waiter is there. "Would you like a Martini perhaps sir" he says, the £ signs flashing in his eyes as they are £5.25 a crack. No thanks I say. "Perhaps a cocktail sir?". Only £3+ but worth a try. No thanks I say again. "I'd just like a Gin and Tonic please". "Will that be a large one sir?" he says in a last desperate attempt to extract as much expenditure out of me as he can. And this tirade drools out of every waiter every time you want a drink as if they were answering a call centre helpline call. If I want a large Gin & tonic I'll ask for a double like any normal person. If I ask for a Gin & Tonic I mean a Gin & Tonic. If this seems an OTT response believe me it's not. The repetitive pleas from every waiter for you to buy Martini's will wear you down and ruin your otherwise relaxing visit to the Crows Nest. Portions in the main restaurants (Medina and Alexandria) have become pitiful and one wonders how far the cost cutting can go ! My main dish of King Prawn Biryani one night had only 3 king prawns in it! That was my main meal! A starter or garlic mushrooms another night had just 3 mushrooms! You ask the waiter as best you can without wanting to sound greedy and you have to fight to get anything extra. Last year we happily ordered multiple starters instead of soups and so on. This year I could probably eat better at an average English restaurant and in terms of the biryani at my local curry house ! Here's another great "mystery" that appears to affect every cruise from the feedback I have received. After a few days the Spa/Salon always runs out of cheap hair sprays and instead only sells cans at £11 a go !! Funny how they can't anticipate demand after each cruise. Ginger beer ran out swiftly too, it being one of a select few soft drinks that come in normal large cans rather than the ridiculous mini cans that are £1.15. On-Shore excursions were also expensive and in general were noticeably worse than last year. There were some exceptions to this. Overall, cruising with P&O was great last year but now the experience is tainted with cutbacks. There is absolutely no doubt that Aurora has a major financial deficit to make up from it's engine refit and boy are you going to pay for it over the next 12-24 months! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
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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