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294 P&O Cruises Aurora Cruise Reviews

Picked this cruise as keen to see the Northern Lights. This is a 12-night cruise that spends 2 nights at the very top of Norway that offers an excellent chance to see Northern Lights. I was kind of expecting the cruise to be canceled but ... Read More
Picked this cruise as keen to see the Northern Lights. This is a 12-night cruise that spends 2 nights at the very top of Norway that offers an excellent chance to see Northern Lights. I was kind of expecting the cruise to be canceled but all seemed to be fine as we joined the ship at Southampton. We set sail and headed up through the North Sea. Sea was a bit rough but the Aurora copes well with rough weather so it didn't move very much. This was our second time on Aurora after a 12-night cruise to the Canaries August 2019 and the ship does seem to cope well with stormy weather. However, as the Coronavirus continued to spread across Europe the Norwegian Government decided to close their borders to cruise ships. The ship then had to turn round and head back to Southampton. This of course was very disappointing as nearly everyone had booked the cruise to try to witness the Northern Lights. What did make the news more bearable, and indeed the remainder of the cruise was how P&O managed the situation. This was right across the board from the Captain down to the waiters and cabin staff. Got a full refund and an additional £400 per cabin onboard spend. P&O couldn't have done more. The entertainment was top class. A male trio, solo male entertainer and a female singer - all were top class with great performances. We had a retired Detective Chief Inspector giving a series of lectures - informative and entertaining insights into criminal investigation process. The food in the restaurants was great - nice food well prepared and served. The staff very helpful. We did have a couple of issues with the cabin - but a quick call to reception and these were rapidly sorted. Jut as an aside, it beats me why people leave it until writing a review to complain about things that can be rectified whilst on-board. Didn't bother with the Gym, although it seemed well equipped. Unfortunately didn't get to experience any shore excursions - however, I can confirm that the North Sea is pretty much grey all over in early March So whilst the aim of the cruise to see the Northern lights didn't happen the experience of the 5 nights we had on the ship was fantastic and I would not hesitate to recommend the cruise to others. Already booked on the 12 March sailing to Northern Lights in 2021 Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I chose this cruise as my first solo cruise although I have cruised with P&O many times before. I was particularly looking forward to the chance of seeing the aurora borealis as this cruise spends three days at the very northern tip of ... Read More
I chose this cruise as my first solo cruise although I have cruised with P&O many times before. I was particularly looking forward to the chance of seeing the aurora borealis as this cruise spends three days at the very northern tip of Norway so the chance of seeing the lights is quite good. We left Southampton after completing health check forms and having our temperature taken and all seemed well. The coronavirus outbreak was in its early stages and some people were wondering if we would get our holiday or not. The North sea was a little rough but Aurora coped admirably. By the second day on board rumours were swirling about the cruise being cancelled as Norway was closing its ports and these were confirmed later by the Captain. The Captain and crew handled the situation extremely well. We were kept informed at all stages about what was happening and each cabin received £400 on-board spending money. Most passengers, although disappointed, appeared to be dealing with the news of the cancellation well. There were of course the inevitable moaners but some people will always moan. Over and above the £400 per cabin spending money, P&O also gave everyone a full 100% refund. I honestly feel that P&O handled the situation as well as they could given that it was out of their control and they tried to do as much as possible for us. I have complete faith in them as a company, to do the right thing by their customers and as such I have booked the same cruise with them in November and a second cruise for next year to Canada. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I have decided to write this review to help first time cruisers like myself decide if cruising is for them. There were a lot of reviews, especially about Aurora that were negative and we had no idea what to expect. So from the ... Read More
I have decided to write this review to help first time cruisers like myself decide if cruising is for them. There were a lot of reviews, especially about Aurora that were negative and we had no idea what to expect. So from the beginning; we chose this cruise for our honeymoon for one reason only. To see the northern lights. It seemed like a great way to experience them. Booking was easy and we got inboard spending. The website post booking took a little navigating especially to book shore excursions. In 2020 for such a big company I would expect better. (At one point I got so frustrated I threw my iPad...) we got some info prior to the boarding but had no idea what to expect on the day and to be honest found it quite overwhelming. Lots of people had clearly done it before and knew exactly what to do but we were quite lost. They took our baggage, we then headed in to a long, took a health quiz due to recent events and then were just kind of herded into the boat. It was quick, but we still had no idea what was going on. We were also directed in the wrong direction twice to our cabin... luckily those are probably the only negatives I have!!! Cabin: f220 was apparently an upgrade, I think because it used to be a four berth room so was potentially bigger? Anyways it was compact but we expected that, surprising amount of storage especially for all the jumpers and spotlessly clean. The bed was two singles pushed together and super comfy. It was turned down each night by our cabin steward. We also had bathrobes, champagne and flowers that I had arranged as it was our honeymoon. Bathroom is tiny, and could do with not being peach plastic but big enough for what you needed. TV had a good selection of films, but ours spent most of its time on the information channel or on the ship radio channel which had a live feed of a camera from the front of the ship. Played decent getting ready music! We were on a lower floor and close to the engine but this had no effect on our sleep. We were also toasty warm even with a window. The boat; Aurora is the oldest and smallest of the fleet, a lot of people who had cruised before compared her negatively to other boats, however we thought she was lovely. She reminded me of an old London hotel or an aging movie star, a little bit cracked around the edges but elegant and classy. We didn't use the pools but a few people did and they looked warm. Plenty of space on the different decks and a walking deck which we took advantage of most days when it was open. There were a couple of shops, the last day sale is probably the best day for deals but we didn't see much for us. The salon was super expensive, not worth it unless you got one of the daily deals. The gym was pretty good, we only went twice (trying to counter the food) had a lot of machines to use. Public areas; we spent most of our time in the glass house and Champions pub. The crows nest was right at the front, had good views but after a very up and down force 12 day we avoided it! Anderson's is a gin bar , loads of gins and good cocktails. masquarades had a disco but we didn't partake in this. the glass house with wines from Olly Smith was where we tended to sit and read on sea days whilst working my way through the wine list. We did get the drink package but prices weren't too bad, a fiver for a small glass on average. The wine was great, the little nibbles (you had to pay extra for) were delicious. Service was... chilled! An extra waiter would of made all the difference especially as there was a coffee bar here so lots of their time was spent making cappuccinos. Oh and limited view of the sea. Champions was a kind of pub, there was always a quiz going on there, a bit of karaoke and we did manage to catch the rugby and football. There was a good selection of different beers and the service was excellent. Entertainment; I'm not going to lie, we didn't catch any of the shows, they weren't really for us. It would of been nice to see the comedian but it was on the same night as our excursion. The playhouse showed some decent films, Judy, Jumanji, Midway. A list of these can be found online. There was Orca watch onboard and they did talks about the wildlife, standing room only but you could watch from your cabin. Other talks included one about pain relief and arthritis... I kid you not. We read mostly happy just to chill out. There were also talks about the places we were stopping and things to do there. There was a daily magazine that told you what was going on and the dress code for the night, plus a news round up and daily suduko. There was also dancing lessons and enough quizzes to keep you entertained if you like a quiz, which we do. Stops; Alta was specifically for the lights, there is nothing much else there. A couple of shops and a church. It was bloody freezing!!! We did a trip at night to see them and were lucky enough to see them, absolutely unbelievable. So beautiful, worth braving -14 and snow. Tromso was gorgeous, still cold and proper snowing! We did the husky ride which was amazing. Again very cold (-9) but worth it to go through the snow covered countryside. We also went into the town, walked over the bridge to the cathedral. Alesund was cute, we walked up a very tall hill, not as cold as it had been. Buy souvenirs here, much cheaper! Stavenger was also gorgeous, shopping here was for fashion if you wanted it. (There's a h and m) All in all good places to see, and you're unlikely to see them any other way. Food; I saved the best for last. We like food, our holidays and trips revolve around good food. The food onboard was unbelievable. The buffet horizon we went to for breakfast and lunch most days. Good choices, fruit, hot choices, omelette made to order. Lunch we tended to try and have lighter options, salad, soup (which was excellent) cheese. Oh the cheese! The grill next door made great burgers to order. We ate dinner in Medina most nights. The black tie nights we had the Marco menu which was excellent and most other nights we had the three courses. All cooked perfectly, great steaks, full of flavour. Puddings were to die for. Afternoon tea was also great, although maybe the cakes could be a bit tastier. We also dined at Sindhu twice. It is totally worth it. The food was delicious. I understand why people put on weight on cruises. Seriously good food! All in all we had a great time. We would recommend it if you just want to chill out. With the average age about 55 be prepared, this is not a party boat! But if you want to chill, eat good food, be waited on hand and foot and experience the majesty of the fjords in comfort then this is for you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Had an excellent long haul cruise in 2013 on P&O's Adonia so was happy to trust them with another long haul cruise. The Aurora is a beautiful ship, lovely and clean, happy friendly crew, great onboard entertainent and excellent ... Read More
Had an excellent long haul cruise in 2013 on P&O's Adonia so was happy to trust them with another long haul cruise. The Aurora is a beautiful ship, lovely and clean, happy friendly crew, great onboard entertainent and excellent food. If you get the right cabin I would highly recomend it but our deluxe balcony cabin was disgusting. The balcony wasn't fit for purpose or as described to me by P&O's port admin staff before making our booking. The layout of the cabin was inpracticle and the air conditioning system was defective pouring contaminated air into our cabin. 1. We were asked to arrive at Southamptom for 1pm and instructed not to arrive early/late as this was our designated time slot to board the ship. On arrival, one of several P&O female ground crew staff, took our tickets and barked at us in a very loud and unfriendly tone that we should find a seat as there were over a thousand priority passengers joining our cruise therefore we would be boarding late. Not a nice start, being told you were insignificant and more than half of the passengers were more important and ging to get better treatment. They could have been discrete about prioritising frequent travellers. The female ground crew, all aged in their eary sixties continously shouted out the same information as passengers arrived creating an umpaitable atmosphere. 2.A glass of bubbly was handed to passengers as we boarded the ship and crew in shiney white uniforms were there to greet us providing a lovely warm welcome. Taking our hand luguage we proceeded exitedly to our cabin to see our home for the next 55 nights and was horrified to find our deluxe balcony cabin was anything but. It was dark and closed in. The balcony front was actually a window with the glass removed. This window frame was still surrounded by the ships original metal structured enclosing in the whole balcony area. I could only peer over the wooden bar that had been built infront of the window frame by standing on my tiptoes. The whole structure was closed in. No chance of using the area to sit out in the sun or take in the view of the Carrabean sea during our well earned and excitedily awaited 55 day trip. (I live in a small flat, so hope you can appreciate why this balcony was so important for me on this once in a lifetime cruise) The cruise had been booked on the early saver price which meant we coudn't pre-book our cabin number but P&O staff assured me that our balcony cabin would be exactly the same and that by booking a deluxe bacony the cabin would be bigger. The crew couldn't move us as the ship was full capacity and the 'hotel' manager told me we wouldn't get our money back if we abandoned our cruise. 3.We later discovered our cabin (the rear of deck 8) was originally part of the childrens play area and had recently been converted into one of 5 cabins. A couple at our dinner table also booked an early saver deluxe balcony cabin but unlike us didn't accept P&O's verbal assurity as we had and wrote to them expressing instructions for a deck 10, middle of the ship location with a proper glass panel balcony as orginally constructed to accomodate a deluxe balcony cabin. They had exactly what we had expected and paid for. A lovely spacious cabin, laid out exactly as described and shown in P&O's brochures photo, nice and bright with ots of draw storage space. 4.Our cabin was very narrow so the layout was different. We didn't have a chest of draws like the other cabin i had asked about this but it wasn't possible because of the limited space. The narrow room also meant the tv hanging on the wall at the bottom of our bed was in the way. It was dangerously close and my partner constantly hit his shoulder when squeezing pass to get in and out of bed. The lady in the cabin next door to us was unhappy with her balcony 'same as ours' and was mislead by the reception staff who wrongfully told her that nobody else had complained. Her cabin was the same size as ours, she had the space all to herself but was only charged just over half the price we were charged for our cabin. 5.A few nights into our cruise we woke up in the night with a strong smell of sewage coming through our air conditioning unit. This happened a secnd time further into our cruise. Each time we reported it to reception we were told no work was being carried out and the smell mysteriously disappeared immediately after 6.Paint fumes flooded our cabin from the air conditioning unit on many occassions throughout the cruise. Each time we were told no painting was being done and after being told this on one occassion I went out on deck, near our cabin and they WERE painting. The fumes were coming out from the air conditioning unit directy above my side of the bed and I spent the last 10 days of our cruise ill. (I am still unwell now 2nd March) an engineer came to our cabin towards the end of our cruse while I was particularly ill, he was a bit surprised because we had left our cabin door wide open to try to circulate the air. He told us it wasn't possible to switch off the air conditioning, we had no control over the toxic fumes entering our cabin. Because our cabin had recently been added on I suggested the air conditioning controlling our cabin was at fault. We expressed our disatisfaction and the fact nothing had been done about it and how it had affected both of us and made me feel so ill. He said he woud get on to the department cntoing the air conditioning. He didn't get bac to us but the last couple of days of the cruise was fume free. The balcony had a big impact on our holiday and we simply woudn't have booked this particular cruise if we had known what we were going to end up with. We trusted P&O and took their word as being factual and honest. This together with the lower spec compared to the other deluxe balcony cabins and most importantly health implications surrounding the airconditioning unit warrants the one star rating we have given in this review. It is a shame because the Aurora really is a beauiful, splendid ship. The rear swimming pool and sundeck is a rarity these days as ships tend to crame more berths into the back of them now. I did love the ship and will miss her. I am disapointed with P&O's treatment of us. And to be honest saddened by it as it should and could have been an amazing holiday. We had cruised with them long haul to the Carrabean in 2013, we are in our fiftys and represented the next generation of P&O's cruisers. SUGGESTION IF YOU'VE ALREADY BOOKED. 1. Get everything in writing. Be a nuisance and be insistent about what you expect. 2.Take an extention 3 pin plug lead, with lots of sockets with you. You only get 2 plug sockets in the cabin. They are on the dresser, away from the bed. The plug on the kettle is extra wide so the 2nd plug can't be used at the same time. Hence extention lead with lots of sockets. 3.take your own brand of washing detergent and stain removal spray for the launderette 4. Take a pack of antibacterial wipes or spray to wipe down door handles, light switches and tv remote in cabin. Our cabin steward kept our cabin lovely and clean but I woud recomend th8s precaution 5. I was surprised at the crews reluctance to insist passengers use of antibacterial gel. Equally shocked by the number of passemgers not bothering to use it when re-entering the ship at ports and the buffet cart. After gathering your food, i would recommend washing your hands again thoroughly before sitting down to eat, especialy if you have bread rolls to handle and other food to pick up.to eat. Observing passengers not cleaning their hands then using the coffee machine and picking up food tongs to handle food puts you at risk of picking up their nasty germs 6. If going to the beach. I often found the sunbeds to hire were too close for comfort. No space, no privacy.. I took a large sheet from home and spread it out on the soft sand to lay out on. Much more space, you can put it where you want and often bag a much better spot on the beach, plus save $10 a time on sunchair hire!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Like most of the passenger's aboard, we were doing this cruise to get away form the winter weather. This turned out to be a very lucky choice! From beginning to end we had wall to wall sunshine and calm seas with only a couple of ... Read More
Like most of the passenger's aboard, we were doing this cruise to get away form the winter weather. This turned out to be a very lucky choice! From beginning to end we had wall to wall sunshine and calm seas with only a couple of bumpy days leaving and returning to UK home waters. We did have a bit of rain in Tobago and Antigua but it was brief and of the 'liquid sunshine' variety. We've never been so lucky on cruise of any length, let alone 55 nights. We appreciated the new 'Grand Tour' features - a glass of fizz for everyone on boarding (which was quick in our case), a 'Half Way Round' and a 'Farewell Party' were both included and the Ligurian's had a tea at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami. Not the best of events sadly, tho' it was a good thought. It meant missing most of the attractions during our one day in this lovely city for a start and the organisation was poor. The hotel was fine (Entertainment Manager Hughie quickly found the best bar!) but they failed to get welcome drinks out onto very hot balcony quickly enough and queues formed which the ship's people did little to alleviate. Very big tables meant the food and drink was difficult to manage and a lady singer made conversation very difficult. Apart from Captain Pembridge's, the speeches were rather tedious and our Carnival host's excitement at the impending introduction of Iona was not the best choice of topic for the dyed in the wool 'small ship' audience! But it was good of P&O to lay the event on - they didn't have to. Leaving Ponta Delgada the old 'Great British Sailaway' was superseded by the new-style 'Celebration Sailaway'. Lots of live music from a house band some ice carving and enthusiastic dancing form the Hosts. Personally, we did't miss the jingoistic flag waving and community singing of the old Sailaways ; at least it was a pleasant change. The destinations were all predictable in the Caribbean. Lots of tours from the excellent Excursions team - often ignored by the passengers who usually rushed ashore on the hunt for WiFi in order to tell their friends what a great time they were having in the Cruise Terminal - what,me cynical?! We had three days in Barbados owing to a medical emergency requiring a fast crossing. The third day we moved to the remote Flour Mill Berth across the main harbour. This would have been a bit of a disaster for a one-day call but it worked for us and lots of others. There was a good beach a couple of hundred yards away and the Mount Gay distillery visitors centre was even closer. The island chain was a very busy part of the cruise but the weather meant that beaches were a good option everywhere. The highlight for us was a visit to Bob Marley's grave in Jamaica. The whole tour was deafening but quite compelling. We were provided with a meat pie for a snack and were offered unlimited Ganja (eagerly taken up by several passengers).The ports are always interesting and for the first time in the Caribbean we were struck by how many, and how many LARGE ships, were in port. In St Maarten we were not only in with Britannia and Azura but 3 other ships including Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas - 5500 passengers! Having never seen one of the sisters close up she was an awesome sight. In all there were 18000 pax in port - quite overwhelming the lovely town and island. In Cozumel there were even more - 8 ships and 20000 passengers. As we left, Celebrity Edge added a few thousand more.Though Cozumel did cope with the numbers better. We enjoyed chatting to the vast number of Americans who were almost exclusively absorbed by the Harry and Megan story which was live at the time. For us, the highlight of the cruise was the USA. New Orleans is quite unique and the lively jazz music was everywhere. A number of early Mardi Gras parades made it a treat, For the first time we managed to get a trip on the only steam stern-wheeler 'Natchez'. A very imposing vessel providing our tour with a lovely meal and great sights. In Port Canaveral we went on a lagoon cruise looking at manatee, dolphin and exotic birds. Very well hosted and a marked contrast to all the busy places we'd been. On the ship the entertainment was copious. Pleasingly there was almost always a 7pm show in Carmen's (the Show Lounge) as well as the main shows in the theatre. For the first time we experienced Club dining times of 6pm and 8pm - the half hour earlier start suited the late sitting particularly and the shows were timed to suit the dining times. One good move by the ship was to introduce a number of Italian evenings in the Beach House and Thai evenings in Sindhu. They made a good change to restaurants that inevitably became unappealing on a long cruise. Well done - a good initiative and apparently well-supported by passengers. We were told that this was because the cruise was 'older' (apparently the average age was 72 which we thought was pretty young!). There were a lot of (variable) tribute acts but some excellent comedians. Unfortunately the Headliners were sidelined a bit. A pity as they were a very good bunch - their 3 hour production of the comedy play 'Relatively Speaking' was played to appreciative and very full theatre. Our main criticism was of the quizzes which is a staple of P&O's longer cruises. They are always a social event but the quality of the questions was very poor and the individual quiz attendances fell from dozens to less than 10 by the end of the cruise. Maybe not poor, probably badly targeted is more appropriate. The lazier entertainment hosts used the new quizzes provided by P&O. Each is shown on the pub's TVs and has three levels of difficulty - easy, moderate and hard. The general knowledge quizzes we were usually given were targeted at a very different generation to ours - one was even titled 'Family Friendly (9!)'; and this on a child-free ship! Some folk complained that the same people won every time (showing that the best quizzers always have the widest knowledge!) but that matters not to us - we play against our own (dismal) standard! The passengers were generally very clubbable and the staff were as peerless as usual so we had a great trip. Many of the best crew were destined for Iona (or Virgin Cruises allegedly!) but the cruise was increasingly overshadowed by the emerging Coronavirus pandemic. A cruise ship is ripe for infection even in normal circumstances (we apparently had some 150 chest infections afflicting our cruise) and the publicity given to the problems of Diamond Princess, as well as the impact of the bug on Arcadia's and Cunard's world cruises, meant that we were always aware of what could have happened. We were lucky - what will happen to future cruises and the travel industry in general is yet to emerge. We have a number of future cruises booked - what will happen is anybody's guess Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this cruise because we thought the itinerary looked really interesting & we wanted to experience a smaller ship - we had only ever cruised on Britannia before.We were checked in promptly by friendly staff at Southampton & ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we thought the itinerary looked really interesting & we wanted to experience a smaller ship - we had only ever cruised on Britannia before.We were checked in promptly by friendly staff at Southampton & quickly found our balcony cabin on B deck. T The Horizon buffet was very well arranged & a very pleasant area to sit in, there always seemed enough seats for everybody. As we expected the food was the same as Britannia. We were freedom dining so dined in the Medina dining room each evening. This was lovely, sometimes we shared a table & other times we had our own table. If a table for 2 was not available we only had to wait a few minutes. The food was excellent, served beautifully & always hot. The waiting staff were on the whole very friendly & efficient. We also had afternoon tea (at 4 p.m.) in this restaurant which was superb. The entertainment on board was outstanding especially the Headliners Theatre Company who were fabulous, there was also a good variety of other entertainers & most evenings we saw two shows - on either side of dinner. On the sea day afternoons there was a concert pianist who gave a an enjoyable recital of well known classical pieces. The weather as we set off & on the first sea day was windy (force 8) but Aurora handled it well, in order that we were able to dock in Hamburg the captain sailed at full speed & we docked in Hamburg about 10 hours early - the alternative would have been out at sea waiting it out in very rough conditions. Our first port of call was Hamburg, there was a shuttle bus which dropped & picked us up close to the Rathaus (town hall). It was an interesting city & had a great Christmas Market. It was damp & cold but it didn't spoil our visit. In Oslo, our second stop, we docked next to the fortress which was brilliant & handy .It was extremely chilly but dry & a great place to visit before Christmas. Next stop was Copenhagen, a shuttle bus dropped us off in the centre & we walked backed to the ship both days. Our final stop was Zeebrugge - here a shuttle bus took us to nearby Blankenburg. From here there are hourly trains to Brugge, which take 15 minutes & cost 5 euros return. A beautiful city which looked extra special with the Christmas decorations. By the end of the cruise we loved Aurora & would probably now choose her over Britannia - never thought we'd say that! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have cruised with P&O on a number of occasions, and have particularly enjoyed those on the adults only ships. We liked Oriana and were disappointed when she was sold. So we waited for Aurora to be refurbished as an adults only ship ... Read More
We have cruised with P&O on a number of occasions, and have particularly enjoyed those on the adults only ships. We liked Oriana and were disappointed when she was sold. So we waited for Aurora to be refurbished as an adults only ship and chose this 13 night cruise to Madeira and the Canary Islands to escape the fogs, rain and dark days of November. It proved to be a good choice! Embarkation was speedy and efficient. We were on board be 1pm and first impressions were good. We enjoyed a welcome on board lunch in the Medina restaurant which was most enjoyable, then repaired to our cabin, mid-ship on B deck. We were blown away by our mini-suite which was spacious and well appointed. Everything was clean and fresh and looked new. Tea and coffee making was available, but my husband declared that the coffee pods supplied with the machine did not make the very strong coffee that he prefers, so he only used it once! Our steward Maria kept everything spotless and even cleaned the exterior windows, but we were concerned that she had too many suites to look after and that we had little time to chat and get to know her better During the first three days we were at sea so there was plenty of time to explore the ship, try the various restaurants and see what entertainment was available. The elegant style of the refurbishment has given this traditional ship a new lease of life. Crossing the Bay of Biscay the weather was rough, and access to the promenade deck was restricted, but the ship coped well. Tip - if you suffer from motion sickness, choose a cabin on the lower decks and avoid the forward cabins. As we gained calmer seas we were able to enjoy walking along the wrap-around promenade deck and to appreciate the teak decking and elegant sweeping aft decks. We always choose freedom dining and prefer a table for two. Sometimes we had to wait for a table, but usually no more than 15 or 20 minutes. The food in the Medina restaurant was mostly good. On formal nights the choice and quality of the food was excellent. The wine list is much improved than hitherto and the prices were reasonable. Service was good, but the waiters had too many tables and often seemed rushed. We did not much like the food in Sindhu, but that is probably down to personal taste. The waitresses in Sindhu were charming. We would have preferred an Italian speciality restaurant rather than the Ocean Grill - the menu did not appeal. We had lunch a few times in the Glass House and enjoyed being able to try a wide selection of wines by the glass - the selection of wines by the glass in the main restaurants is limited. The lectures on sea days were interesting and the resident musicians were mostly good - depending on one's personal taste. One guest performer, Wild Sax, was excellent. We would have preferred more jazz and classical concerts. It was disappointing that the piano in the central atrium area was not used more. What should have been the heart of the ship was far too quiet. Listening to the piano, cocktail to hand, while waiting for dinner is one of the greatest pleasures for us. Unfortunately the pager system for your table does not penetrate as far as the Crows Nest where the pianist was usually playing around the pre-prandial hour. We only went to one production show by the Headliners, as the times are not convenient if you dine between 7 and 9pm. For the early show one needs to arrive in the theatre early, otherwise there are no seats. The late show was usually too late for us, specially on port days when we had been on shore. However, there is a separate cinema and a show lounge which offer alternative entertainments, so there is always something to do in the evenings. We enjoyed our visit to Madeira - our favourite island. It has so much to offer: stunning scenery, exotic flora, beautiful gardens and a mild climate. We took a taxi to the Botanic Gardens, bought some Madeira wine for Christmas, then enjoyed strolling around Funchal in the warm sunshine and seeing the Christmas decorations. Then on to La Palma where we went on an excursion to the centre of the island which is a huge crater called the Caldera Taburiente - more scenery surrounded by mountains. It has a world class collection of observatories set up there because of the clear air and low light pollution. Next was Gran Canaria where we visited some attractive villages and gardens - very different from the tourist beaches in the south of the island. We then called at Lanzarote, which is still volcanically active - lots to see there is one is a first-time visitor. Finally Lisbon where we went on one of the antique trams up and down the hills, along narrow streets - great fun. Sailing towards the sunset down the River Tagus was a fitting end to our pre-Christmas holiday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise for the Itinerary. We have done 38 cruises with many different cruise lines but this was our first with P&O. From reading boards before hand I was lead to believe this was a slightly up market cruise, better than ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the Itinerary. We have done 38 cruises with many different cruise lines but this was our first with P&O. From reading boards before hand I was lead to believe this was a slightly up market cruise, better than celebrity and Princess but more traditional like Cunard. Having been on many of these lines I thought I knew what to expect. Embarkation was good very smooth arrived an hour before our scheduled time and was on the ship within 15 mins. Cabin was a huge disappointment, we had chosen an inside on this cruise as due to the destination we knew we would get little use from a balcony and the cold through the window could be a problem. The cabin was very small we could not get around the side of the bed on one side as the desk was in the way and on the other side of the bed the wall came in about 6 inches. Storage was good but it was tired and outdated looking. The tea and coffee tray was never cleaned properly and the sheets were clean but stained. This has to be the worst cabin we have ever had. Food - Dining room food was good as was the service but the menus were for the most part foods I cook at home nothing very special. What we had was ok but not great. Buffet - The buffet was boring, same type of foods each day with perhaps one or two variations. There was very limited ethnic foods perhaps one curry etc. On the last night there were Tacos on the menu which consisted of taco shell, guacamole, cottage cheese, corn, tomato and cucumber but no sour cream, salsa, meat or cheese.....very odd. The biggest complaint of the buffet was that food was not removed when it became dry or curling so if you are going to use the buffet go early during the service or you will have dried out food. Bars - The crows nest coffee machine did not work at all, some the cocktails they did not have the ingredients for and did not go get them even though other bars had the ingredients. On the first day I thought it was because they had not restocked but as the days wore on when I asked for a cocktail from the menu I was met with "sorry we don't have the ingredients". Some of the draft beers were not available and no attempt was made to rectify the problem. Entertainment - This was very poor. Daytime we struggled to find something. However if you like quizzes there were lots of these. The guitar player was very good, the comedian was ok. The casino consisted of a few outdated machines, 2 roulette tables and two card tables. Overall this cruise line ranks at the bottom for us . We may try P&O again with a newer ship to a hotter destination but would not go on this ship again. The destination to see the Northern Lights in Norway was great and we saw what we went for but otherwise the cruise was disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
From jellybean homes in Newfoundland to soaring skyscrapers in New York and from the colours of a New England autumn to blueberry pie and cream in Kennebunkport Maine, this is a cruise that ticks all the boxes. THE SHIP Service ... Read More
From jellybean homes in Newfoundland to soaring skyscrapers in New York and from the colours of a New England autumn to blueberry pie and cream in Kennebunkport Maine, this is a cruise that ticks all the boxes. THE SHIP Service across Aurora was first class. With no waiting around in airports and a speedy check-in at Southampton, it’s no wonder cruise holidays are so popular. Once I had stowed my cases under the bed, I could relax into the cruise and be waited on hand and foot. Pure luxury! Aurora is one of P&O’s mid-size ships with about 2,000 passengers and more than enough crew to make sure every need is cheerfully met. Crossing the Atlantic was a breeze. A guest speaker in the theatre followed art classes each morning and then it was a time for a Costa coffee in Raffles on Deck 8. Afterwards a stroll along the Promenade deck (where three circuits equates to a mile) before heading to lunch, either in Medina (Deck 6) for waiter service or in Horizon on the Lido deck. Food is a cruise highlight and within three days I was putting on weight. Action this day! I spent an hour in the gym most afternoons before playing cards and then ruined things with afternoon tea. Time flies by and, after a pre-dinner drink in Anderson’s (Deck 7), it was time to head to the main restaurant for dinner. The Executive Chef inspired his team to create many memorable meals. The range of fish was impressive and the barramundi, lobster tails and sea trout had excellent flavour. But then so did the sirloin steaks, calves’ liver and lamb shanks. Before you ask, yes I enjoyed the desserts as well – there were always exquisite gateaux on offer but traditional puddings like bread and butter pudding went down equally well. Next stop, an early quiz perhaps or on to the Curzon theatre for a show. The Headliners presented a range of productions including new ones for me, like ‘Applause!’ but older ones such as ‘Destination Dance’ were performed with so much energy that I was happy to see them again. Comedians, singers, instrumentalists and jugglers took to the stage when the Headliners were resting and in the Playhouse cinema recent releases like The Green Book and Yesterday passed a pleasant couple of hours. My sea view cabin was on Deck 8, handy both for Raffles and for the cinema. It was compact but supremely comfortable and my steward, Filipina, worked hard to keep it spick and span. She even found time to chat about my days ashore before rushing to her next cabin. Others in Aurora’s team were just as impressive. Robin John in Utility Housekeeping is one of the many who work through the night to keep public areas sparkling. These young crew members work hard yet Robin cheerfully gave up his time to respond to my request for a length of string I needed in art class – within minutes he had found some for me. Five star service too in the Spa where Dilpreet gave me not only an excellent haircut (just £10 on some port days) but also useful tips for planning a visit to India. Meanwhile, in the restaurants, I will remember Judith – a member of the management team – for her broad smile and commitment to ensuring that service was as it should be. It was, and waiters like Hanif, Marcelino, Costa and Roswin were key players in delivering those high standards. With so many positives, no surprise that the Loyalty & Future Cruises desk on Deck 5 was busy. If senior loyalty manager Hope Lyttle wasn’t keeping waiting time to a minimum, she could be seen around the ship, hosting loyalty lunches and welcoming us to Peninsular drinks’ parties. THE PORTS St John’s, capital of Newfoundland, our first port after crossing the Atlantic, has a long history. It was here that Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless message in 1901 and in his honour we marked his achievement by hiking up Signal Hill to log on and catch up on messages from home. The city is also famous for its colourful jellybean homes, their clapboard facings painted in pastel shades. Like Bar Harbor later and indeed every other coastal town, the locals provided warm welcomes and insights into different cultures. Hurricane Dorian was heading north as we were preparing to sail south from Canada and Captain Neil Turnbull decided in the interests of our comfort and safety that he would take Aurora back into the Atlantic, away from the storm, and return to the eastern seaboard when Dorian had passed by. Although it meant we missed a port, his decision was appreciated. We were rewarded for our patience when we reached Charlottetown. Immaculately trimmed verges, trees fringed with the reds of early autumn and some beautiful churches including the Basilica of St Dunstan made this a town to be savoured. Famed for its links with Anne of Green Gables, the ship’s excursions were soon fully booked. In Boston we faced US Immigration, often a grim affair. But not here. The face-to-face process took place on board with minimal queuing. And, wait for it, the US officials smiled and were charming. Once through, the American dream became reality. In Newport, Rhode Island, the Cliff Walk provided glimpses of mansions, some open to the public, that date back to pre-war times when Newport was a playground for the rich. Further south, Kennebunkport near Portland, Maine, was just as memorable. This is the summer home of the Bush family dynasty and a very classy place it is too, with boutique shops and quiet side streets lined with cafés and foodstores. There we found the ideal spot to test the Blueberry pie and I can confirm that it is delicious, although perhaps I could have done with a smaller slice. In America, I decided, everything is big. New York City was the half way point of the cruise and we had three days to explore. The berth couldn’t have been better, just a 25 minute walk from 42nd Street. Even closer was Hudson Yards where, if you pre-book free tickets online, you can climb to the top of the city’s latest landmark attraction, the Vessel. Once we became used to the grid system of streets, we were quite blasé about stepping out at night to explore Manhattan and enjoy a beer. We even used the subway to visit the Twin Towers Memorial and yet again, the friendliness of the station staff in helping us to navigate the system was impressive. Quite a few passengers took advantage of Broadway to see a show, benefitting from cheaper seats available at registered ticket agencies. The famous yellow cabs were everywhere and happy at night to return passengers to the terminal. But one piece of advice – agree the fare in advance and do not assume that your driver will know the route. They are not like London cabbies although they do share an ability to talk the hind leg off a donkey. WORTH BOOKING? I loved this cruise. Officers and crew were united in providing us with the very best service and even the weather was kind. No surprise, then, that I have re-booked. Next year it will be Canada and the year after, the United States. If this cruise isn’t already on your bucket list, it deserves to be. ....................... (Self-confessed cruise addict David George worked in BBC radio news before his retirement and now writes European city guides and cruise blogs.) Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Mums 75th Birthday treat. Having not cruised with P and O for a few years I was surprised at how standards had slipped disappointingly. The food wasn’t anywhere near as good as it’s been on previous cruises with them. The ship ... Read More
Mums 75th Birthday treat. Having not cruised with P and O for a few years I was surprised at how standards had slipped disappointingly. The food wasn’t anywhere near as good as it’s been on previous cruises with them. The ship itself is noticeably tatty in places as well. Even the bedding wasn’t up to much, my pillow smelt, there were stains on quilts! The staff however were still great and very attentive, especially restaurant, bar and cabin staff and their commitment to their jobs noticeable. No blame is to be laid at their feet this was simply down to cost cutting on P and O’s side. Having cruised with Marella last year, the difference was quite significant now I think about it. You are totally mislead with the Steven Mulhearn show not as expected at all. Dance lessons however were great and good fun. The comedian was excellent and very funny. Not sure I’d cruise again with P and O given this last experience sadly. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Been on a few P&o cruises on ships Oceana, Azura and Brittania, so me and my partner decided to try Aurora and the Canary Islands. Overall we felt a bit dissapointed with this one. The ports were great and the excursions were great ... Read More
Been on a few P&o cruises on ships Oceana, Azura and Brittania, so me and my partner decided to try Aurora and the Canary Islands. Overall we felt a bit dissapointed with this one. The ports were great and the excursions were great but we felt that having a full day and evening in Tenerife on the Monday instead of a full and evening day in La Palma on the Sunday would have been better, as everything opened at 10:00 and shut at 14:00 in La Palma,so you were just on the ship until we sail away at 21:00. The ship was a great size, and the new refurbishment was great with new carpets and everything in communal areas seemed new, however you could tell it was built in 2000. A tiny TV, with only certain channels compared to the On Demand service you get on Brittania, also it was in a really awkward position in our cabin. There was only one plug socket in the whole room too, which in an era of technology isn't really the best. Although advitised as an Adults only cruise, it'll be better off advitised as a over 50s cruise. Myself and my partner are in our 20s, and managed to make friends with two other couples in their 20s. We all felt that the entertainment in the evenings was aimed at the over 50s. The only real act who engaged with the whole audience age wise was the comedian Phil Melbourne. One great act was the Irish lad who did acoustic guitar sets on the Lido deck and in the crows nest some evenings. The entertainment team were great, very welcoming and friendly. The Headliners this year I would say were below the expected standard. The vocalists really carried the show, as the dancers were quite poor. It seemed that the best vocalists and dancers go on Brittania and bigger ships. The shows seemed a bit dated too, compared to those we saw more recently on Brittania. Instead of a West End experience, it felt more like a Panto in your local theatre. The crew this year were great, from cabin steward to waiters. There was only one waiter we had a problem with as he got my starter wrong, giving me a mushroom sausage roll instead of Potted Shrimp, and heinsisted that was what I asked for, even though I don't like Mushrooms! If you're over 50 it's a great cruise for you, however if you're under 50 I'd aim for another ship in the fleet! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose a 12 day cruise with P & O on their Aurora ship this year as everyone we knew, who had cruised, said that they had always had a great time. This ship is now Adult only. We had a smooth and speedy embarkation at Southampton ... Read More
We chose a 12 day cruise with P & O on their Aurora ship this year as everyone we knew, who had cruised, said that they had always had a great time. This ship is now Adult only. We had a smooth and speedy embarkation at Southampton and having travelled from the North-east of England this was a very welcome start to our holidays. Our inside cabin was a moderate size but well furnished with a decent size bathroom (shower). Our cabin was immaculate with tea and coffee making facilities (replenished daily) and Sandesh, who looked after our cabin ensured that clean towels (and pool towels) were changed daily and bedding changed regularly. His attention to detail was very impressive. We were also impressed with the wide selection of food available. Food was available through the day as were refreshments. Food was hot and well presented. We dined in different restaurants as well as the self-serve areas (the Horizon) and one of our favourite places was the Medina Restaurant where we got exceptional service from Melwyn and Joel who really looked after us well each time we visited. When we did dine in the Horizon we were often looked after by Frauline who was a very friendly and funny guy and ensured that we had everything we needed to enjoy our meals. The entertainment was, in our opinion, 1st class considering the entertainment team have so many different shows and routines to perform so often. We were never short of things to do, the cinema showed relatively new films, the gym had modern equipment, there were activities to join in all day long and lots of different entertainment in lots of different bars onboard the ship. One of our favourite places to chill was The Crow's Nest. A definate plus was being able to visit a designated are for Costa Coffee on board. All the staff were very friendly and helpful throughout our holiday. We didn't go on any organised trips as we wanted to explore the ports ourselves and most were within walking distance although there were taxis available. One negative comment would be our visit to Lanzarote. We wondered why so many of the people we spoke to were not getting of the ship that day. Those of us who did were back on the ship within a very short time as there was little to do in the tiny resort we visited (most of which was closed). We now have the 'cruising' bug and are looking for our next adventure. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have sailed with P&O since the nineties and last sailed on the Aurora during 2015 which was into the Mediterranean , so we were keen to try P&O again after having had four cruises with Celebrity . Cruise ... Read More
We have sailed with P&O since the nineties and last sailed on the Aurora during 2015 which was into the Mediterranean , so we were keen to try P&O again after having had four cruises with Celebrity . Cruise number R916 was to the Canaries and returning via La Coruna in Spain.The weather was fantastic and the seas were very calm the whole trip , we were very pleased with the whole experience. The ship is classed as mid size and is now child free after a part refit earlier this year . The ship was very comfortable and clean and the staff were very attentive and friendly. Our outside cabin was on the starboard side near the front and was well maintained by our steward Victor . The bed and bedding was a good standard as were the toiletries and the fluffy bath towels . The restaurants have either set times 6.30/8.30pm or any time dinning, we opted for any time since it is more flexible and you meet new people every night which we find more interesting.The food on this trip was first class and the waiting staff were very attentive, we never had to wait for a table , always willing to share with others preferring either a six or eight table size . The entertainment and the shows were the usual high standard and unlike previous shows they were not based on musicals, which were a change from the norm . The bars , bar staff and waiters were friendly and attentive and you found as soon as you sat down you were approached and served quickly. P&O now have a drinks package similar to the other cruise lines but this was not pressurised to buy and we found it was unnecessary since the drink prices are uk hotel prices ,not like the American lines which are very expensive plus service charge add ons . The Itinerary was the usual Madeira,La Palma, Tenerife Lanzarote and La Coruna on the way home . All the ports were easy to walk off and the people using walking aids , wheel chairs and electric scooters found this itinerary great since all harbours were near the towns . The only port that required a shuttle bus service was Lanzarote and the town supplied this to reach the centre also putting on a bus with a tail lift for wheel chairs etc , I thought this was a great facility to allow everyone to visit the town . The Aurora is only one of two in the P&O fleet to have a wrap round Prom deck which is well used for some fitness , this is a feature of more modern ships that is missing . Let’s hope the P&O fleet keep this size of ship but looks highly unlikely since they seem to be getting larger each time they are replaced. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Been 6 times now and this was up there with the rest of them. SHIP Been on the larger ones but Aurora is my favourite. Very attractive ship with lovely wide Promenade Deck and tiered aft. RESTAURANTS Medina and Horizon ... Read More
Been 6 times now and this was up there with the rest of them. SHIP Been on the larger ones but Aurora is my favourite. Very attractive ship with lovely wide Promenade Deck and tiered aft. RESTAURANTS Medina and Horizon restaurants were excellent as always. Great selection of food and always fresh and hot. Everyone smiled and welcomed guests in and out. Where we had to wait for a table for two in the Meridian the wait was only 25 minutes max. Just enough time to pop to Andersons bar to enjoy a pint. We also paid £15 each to see the galley where they make and prepare all the dishes and it was a real eye-opener. Spotless and everyone working to a Trojan standard. Told there is only one Soup Chef and one Potato Chef, etc. This is partly so if there are any complaints the Galley Manager knows who to talk with and also where they are only cooking these items day-in-day-out they always come out perfect. If you do this make sure you have a very early breakfast or none as the visit starts at 10.30am and they serve large trays of canapes along with Champagne. SERVICE Five star throughout. Many staff who you made eye contact with would say 'Good Morning/Afternoon' as they passed you in the corridor. This included the lowest-ranked staff all the way up to the officers. Ask for anything and you will get it. SHOWS The Headliners Theatre Company performers were outstanding as were the comedians and guest singers. The show choreography was also really good. ISSUES Just a couple. Room Service used to be free. It still is for breakfast but other things are chargeable now. The mattress was only 5 years old but was one with springs that had had their day. Woke up the first couple of mornings with bad backs but reception sorted it. When booking it is also not made clear that you CANNOT do Freedom Dining unless you are a Select booking or you are very lucky. We assumed Select booking meant you could choose which fixed dining time you could have, ie 6.30 or 8.30. We assumed that Freedom Dining was for everyone - but beware it isn't. The dining Manager showed us a list of over 150 people who were trying to change to Freedom Dining. Maybe some of these also made this mistake. Due to personal health reasons we did manage to get this changed and greatly thank P&O for this. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Ship was good, staff miserable, didn't smile much especially in the Medina restaurant, Food was awful, very funny combinations, Who serves Salt & Vinegar Ice cream for a sweet if was disgusting, peppercorn sponge. Please ... Read More
The Ship was good, staff miserable, didn't smile much especially in the Medina restaurant, Food was awful, very funny combinations, Who serves Salt & Vinegar Ice cream for a sweet if was disgusting, peppercorn sponge. Please Chef go back to school and learn some basics. Normal food required. No jacket potatoes in Horrizon Buffett only on first day on ship, after that never again..Why because they have them on other ships all the time. I have cruised with P & O before and food on Oriana was a lot better, basic food options, no concoctions put together, it was lovely all the time, but not on this ship. Please improve this, as otherwise you will get more complaints, also need more options for Gluten free customers, as not enough choice also for Diabetics, as there were a lot of these people onboard too. Please P & O sort the food issue out. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because it included all the most beautiful fjords and port stops that I had seen recommended on various websites. Stops included Eidfjord, Flåm, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Andalsnes and Olden. Twelve nights obviously ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it included all the most beautiful fjords and port stops that I had seen recommended on various websites. Stops included Eidfjord, Flåm, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Andalsnes and Olden. Twelve nights obviously gives you a broader experience than just seven. Not for you if you want to go further north in Norway or combine fjords with other countries. I had very high expectations for the scenery, and it definitely did not disappoint — just incredible! The best shore excursion was from Olden, taking a boat ride on a lake called Lovatnet (get seats on open-air upper level to take photos). We handled our time ashore differently depending on the port — sometimes just on our own, sometimes with an excursion offered by P&O, and sometimes with an excursion we booked ourselves. It was our first time on P&O and we liked it a lot. No complaints at all. Nice to have no children on this cruise. Food was excellent, everything was very well-run, inside cabin worked very nicely for us, and we enjoyed several of the entertainers. Almost all the cruise passengers were British, and since we are Americans this added a very interesting and pleasant aspect to our experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Love Norway good memories of deceased partner. The food left a lot to be desired often only warm, uninspired boring. Had one meai in beach club excellent as was the service, 2 meals in self service very nice. Was put on a singles table ... Read More
Love Norway good memories of deceased partner. The food left a lot to be desired often only warm, uninspired boring. Had one meai in beach club excellent as was the service, 2 meals in self service very nice. Was put on a singles table disaster I was a man paired with 5 women ranging between 65ish to mid nineties could not gat a dcent conversation disaster. I am a very outgoing person and have made good friends on other cruises not on this one.Most staff friendly an d helpful. Excursions way over price [I booked direct[ Worse of alll I got Noro again thanks P&O again I got a bad cold sore throat and head ace Despite using my own sanitizer plush ships own The port days were enjoyable so it wasnt an entire disaster. The young lady who helped me disembark was a treasure. The valet parking was efficient and easy but all in all disapointing Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
First cruise to the Baltic and turned into a wonderful experience. Lots of variety in ports and a different experience in each. First time also on this ship and instantly became my favourite Service was excellent Food terrific ... Read More
First cruise to the Baltic and turned into a wonderful experience. Lots of variety in ports and a different experience in each. First time also on this ship and instantly became my favourite Service was excellent Food terrific Entertainment amazing. Best singers and dancers yet. And Paul Ruck tribute to Eric Clapton is as good as it gets Photography team were also brilliant and came away with 30 AFFORDABLE photographs Stateroom a little on the small side but it didn’t matter The ship has large choice of venues and areas for relaxation Never even used two of the pools and one was enclosed Balconies a little tight but again not a problem Stateroom service was excellent and unobtrusive Buffet option was more than adequate Occasionally experienced strong winds and the ship handled it really well Excursions including embarking and disembarking were dealt with very efficiently and excursions very good value Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
First time back on Aurora since the refit. Although we like the modern, larger ships, Aurora seems to draw us in. We had a fantastic time. We were allocated early dining on a table for eight. The first night we were alone so ... Read More
First time back on Aurora since the refit. Although we like the modern, larger ships, Aurora seems to draw us in. We had a fantastic time. We were allocated early dining on a table for eight. The first night we were alone so bagged the best seats near the window. The following night, 4 others joined us and we couldn't have wished for better table companions. We had some great laughs and good evenings together. Food was great in the mdr, good selection and always well cooked. The buffet had good choices but we only had the odd breakfast and lunch there, but was sneaking up for cheese and biscuits and hot chocolate to take back to the cabin. Service was very good in all areas, although I think their efficiency can sometimes be mistaken for trying to rush you. As soon as you finished, the dirty plate was gone and next course was on its way. Entertainment was great in general, although the house band were very poor and one of the entertainment team just didn't seem interested, reading her kindle in the DJ booth and sighing when anyone requested a song. The headliners were fantastic although not usually my thing but did enjoy their shows. Soul kinda wonderful, the Base Tones and Phil Melbourne had us dancing or laughing every night. In summary, despite her creaking and swaying, we still managed to have a fantastic holiday and can't wait to return. Andy Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
The Journey to Southampton We got the free coach as part of our Select fare from Bolton to Southampton.  Thankfully we did, as there was a crash on the M6 which closed the motorway. After a long, nearly 9 hour journey through the back ... Read More
The Journey to Southampton We got the free coach as part of our Select fare from Bolton to Southampton.  Thankfully we did, as there was a crash on the M6 which closed the motorway. After a long, nearly 9 hour journey through the back roads of Wales, we arrived in Southampton at around 4:45pm.  We were due to arrive before 2pm, with Aurora sailing at 4:30pm.  If we had not taken the coach, conceivably we would have missed our cruise departure.  The coach itself was fairly comfortable, it was a new 19 Plate one of the grade given to football teams by Ellisons.  Sadly, the seats were slightly hard as they had not yet been broken in.  All in all, it was fantastic and we will definitely take the coach to Southampton as it was a stress free way to start the holiday. Checking In Process We hurried into the terminal after getting off the coach, and were processed very quickly by the team at Southampton.  They were happy that the final coaches were arriving, and they could finally get Aurora underway.  Check-in was very smooth, they scanned my husband's card for payments, took our passports, and gave us our cruise cards.  They did retain my husband's Australian passport (but returned it before St Petersburg.)   After checking-in we went through security quite similar to an airport.  All hand bags were scanned through x-ray machines, and we went through metal detectors.  These are quite sensitive, and security staff were telling everyone to leave on their watches and keep their wallets.  This led to some frustrations when the detectors kept going off.  Just a heads-up that you might want to put everything in a jacket pocket to go through the x-ray to avoid the pat down/run over with wand mess. Boarding Aurora We then went on board Aurora at reception on Deck 5.  First impressions were that it was a lovely ship, with a bright vibrant interior.  Not overdone, and more classically decorated.  There was a photographer at embarkation, but he was busy with a larger group so we slipped by unnoticed.  We grabbed the midship lift to deck 10 (B Deck) where our cabin was located in the forward section.  I quite liked the new carpets on B Deck.  We easily located our cabin, which was a large inside.  It had a large King size bed, full size sofa, desk/dressing table, small coffee table, 2 side tables with four drawers each, a large 4 drawer chest, safe, coffee/tea making, and a large wardrobe (2 doors full length with shelf above, 1 door had space for hangable separates).  The bathroom was small but serviceable (and a rather nauseating pink colour) with a shower, toilet, sink and cabinet for goods.  As we were having a look at the cabin, we had a knock on our door with our cabin steward, Elvis, letting us know that our luggage had arrived.  He helped us lug it in, but there was no time to unpack as we needed to attend the muster drill. Muster Drill One great thing about P&O is that they make sure that you are always aware of where you are supposed to be going, with our muster station A printed on our cruise cards.  Our muster station was the Curzon Theatre on Deck 7.  We made our way there through the crew staircase which we were directed to by Elvis.  The drill itself was painless, we grabbed seats near the front, sat through the demonstration, donned our lifejackets and it was time to go.  Even had time to unpack, and enjoy a drink in the Crow's Nest watching the sailaway (and seeing Celebrity Edge go on her maiden) before dinner. Dining on Aurora My husband and I choose Freedom dining, which meant we had to dine in the Medina restaurant on Deck 6.  It is a lovely restaurant, yet again with an understated decor.  Her staff are what makes her a gem, they were all lovely, apart from one pair of waiter's who work near the main doors near the windows.  We had them several times for breakfast, and always found them to be slow, consistently forgetting things, and just didn't seem very interested in their jobs.  This was the only time we ever encountered poor service on Aurora.   We ate most of our meals in the MDR, party because my husband has a disability which makes eating in the buffet difficult for him.  We did not regret this choice at any point in time.  The menu's were varied, we could always find something we wanted to eat, and freedom dining was perfect for us.  If we did not have freedom dining, it is likely that we would have needed to go to the buffet some more as the select times are either a bit too early or too late for us.  On average we ate at 7:30pm each night, some nights we joined a table and others we waited for a table for two which would usually take no more than 20-30 minutes.   The Medina had four sessions of food service a day: Breakfast (varying from a 7am start to a 9:30am finish - this depended on whether it was a sea/port day) Lunch from Noon until 1:30pm Afternoon Tea from 4pm until 4:45pm Dinner from 6pm until 9:30pm There was never any issue with the quality of the food for us in Medina.  We did hear several remarks from people who said they didn't fancy the food and preferred the buffet.  As we did not eat in the buffet much, I cannot comment on the quality and consistency of the food, however, I can certainly state that having a sit down meal is better than the savagery I witnessed in the buffet for the one breakfast and dinner we ate there. The Buffet We went for two meals at the buffet - one breakfast and an evening meal after the first day in St Petersburg.  I have never seen such appalling behaviour from people who are truly old enough to know better.  One of the highlights for me was when I was getting some fruit, my tray on the counter sliding along, selecting things, a woman old enough to be my grandmother kept repeatedly slamming her tray into mine, sighing and making passive aggressive comments to her husband about me.  That was enough.  The food quality as we saw it was fine, but I couldn't bring myself to go back to the buffet after the behaviour.  Additionally, you can never be 100% sure if the food has been contaminated by people who came before you.   The Lido Grill We had a lunch at the Lido Grill, and the food was quite nice.  It was also a bit easier than wading into the buffet as the seating area in front of it is quiet in comparison.  They stock a nice selection of sandwiches, salads, desserts, along with hotdogs, pizza, burgers and fries.   Sindhu Sindhu was a highlight for us.  In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we went there twice, once for an ordinary meal and the second time for the tasting menu.  The food was wonderful, and the amounts were incredibly generous with the lobster biryani containing two full lobster tails.  I fully intend to eat at Sindhu the next time we are on board a P&O ship. The Beach House On the final black tie night neither of us could be bothered getting dressed up so we went to The Beach House for a meal.  It was lovely food, and incredibly well priced.  I would go back anytime I didn't want to dress up again in the future, which is a major bonus for us if we are just knackered and can't be bothered.  If it was an evening casual night, it is unlikely I would go, as while the food is good I do not consider it different enough from the fare in the MDR. The Bars There is a wide variety of drinking establishments on Aurora which are designed to suit your particular wants and needs.  Some are more suited to coffee and tea, and others to boozy concoctions.  We found that we spent most of our drinking time in Anderson's or The Crow's Nest.  The bar staff from Anderson's (in particular) were fantastic.  One quick note about Anderson's and the refurbishment - if they did the Anderson's carpet in the refurb it is already coming up in the back corners and has multiple pulls in places.  Additionally, outside in Charlie's there are several parts where duct tape has been affixed to the floor owing to loose/coming up laminate. The drink selection and pricing on Aurora was incredible.  I was never disappointed with a drink poured to me, and the wine selection in the Glass House and MDR was quite good.  Our bar bill was incredibly reasonable - coming in at around £500 for the two of us over a 14 day period.  We did not deprive ourselves of anything, as we drank what we wanted when we wanted, and had a bottle of wine every night with dinner.   One complaint was that Champions would advertise that they were going to be playing sport, but would then instead host quiz or music with branding of these events also being shown on all TV's.   The Entertainment We did not go to many of the shows as they did not sound like our cup of tea and spent more time listing to the musician's who were all talented.  One show we did go to was to see Deano as Phil Collins - I suspect I did this as much to bother my husband who dislikes his music as I did because I wanted to see it.  Being married has to come with perks, right?  The Laundrette Wow.  Just wow.  The laundrette was both useful and a massive bone of contention among passengers on the ship.  When I first went to the laundrette, I was confronted in the Deck 11 Forward one with eight very angry pairs of eyes staring into mine silently demanding to know what the hell I was doing there.  Feeling so unwelcome I backed away and went to one on Deck 5 Forward.  This is a much tinier laundrette and can be quite hard to find.  I managed to do my laundry there, and while talking to a crew member, a call came through that there was a 'disruption' in the Deck 11 Laundrette.  I'm glad I didn't stay there. The second time I used the laundrette, I made sure I was outside the Deck 11 one when it opened at 8am.  Someone had left clothing in the dryer from the evening before, and waltzed in at around 9:30 am to collect it which left some people waiting for a dryer.  If it had been me I'd have put it in a basket, but no one else wanted to do that. The machines on board are quick with a wash taking about 45 minutes, have cold and warm water settings, and have the option for an extra rinse.  The dryers work very quickly with it taking about 45 minutes to dry a large load.  There was no facility to purchase washing powder that I saw. The Internet In a word: Useless.  My husband needed to use the internet at sea to complete something which at home would have taken 30 seconds.  Speak to the in-charge in the library who tells us each webpage will be max 1 minute to load.  So we decide to use PAYG.  Never again.  30 minutes later it booted him, which is something we didn't know could happen, and he never accomplished what he needed to.   We complained to reception about the service they provided and the information we received from the internet in-charge.  They did not care and offered a derisory 20% off.  So I complained by letter to the HGM who righted it within ten minutes of reading my letter and refunded the charge with an apology.  It shows that the best way to have things dealt with is to consult management rather than the people on reception who seem relatively unable or unwilling to act in this case with the reception manager. The Dress Code On board we had four black-tie nights and ten evening casual nights.  For the black-tie nights we attended (three out of four) we conformed to the dress code with tuxedos and gowns on display.  However, I did get some snarky comments from people lining up for dinner at 6pm when we were off to Anderson's for our pre-dinner tipple.  Apparently to some individuals on board conforming to the dress code is 'showing off' and being 'overdressed'. The Evening Casual nights said no jeans for women, casual separates or a dress.  However, as the cruise continued I became a little more lax in my dresscode and my dark jeans were never questioned in the MDR.  They are, however, quite dark.  I did take a selection of cocktail-like dresses with me which were never worn and I stuck to my long flowing skirts mostly.  I also, on the final evening, got away with wearing my bright coloured trainers in the MDR, this may have been because they were feeling charitable knowing my clothing had made its way to the bowels of the ship and I was attempting to drown my sorrows in beer and wine. I think the major takeaway regarding the dresscode is that on black-tie nights, especially as the evening moves on, adhering to the dresscode is recommended and quite enjoyable.  I only usually get to dress like that very rarely so for three nights it was ideal.  I probably will never go to one of the black tie nights on cruises, just to give myself a break, and its also an excuse to enjoy the Beach House.  The evening casual nights - don't sweat them too much - a nice sundress, casual (non-jean) pants and sweater, or a neat business dress are all perfect.  You won't feel overdressed or out of place.  One interesting thing on Aurora was that Black and White night was not adhered to as strongly as I suspected it would be.  Many women were wearing pastels or bring sparkly red jumpsuits!  I did my bit though. The On Board Upsells We admired P&O's restraint when it came to the on board upsells.  The photographers were there - in the Horizon they told you where they would be and you could line up for a photo - but they were rarely, if ever, in your face attempting to force you to have your photo taken.  The way they sold photos was much better than MSC, where the photographers grabbed and shoved people to take their photo.  It was not at all intimidating, and there was no obligation to buy if you did opt to have the photos taken. The shops were lovely, had some nice things for purchase on board, but we did not purchase anything from them - not even duty free.  On board, P&O had brought on a speciality seller of Baltic goods including Amber jewellery and Russian arts and crafts.  Some of these were incredibly expensive - with a set of nesting dolls I saw purchased costing £2,250!  I did buy my amber jewellery on board, and found it to be good value versus what I found on shore in St Petersburg which may have also been fake.  Later in the cruise they had a lovely Russian market where we got a book about St Petersburg and some bits and bobs. I'll detail the other events P&O ran which we took part in below. The Wine Tasting This started at 11:30am, and I would have much preferred if it had instead started at 1:30pm.  We started with a glass of prosecco and moved on to taste five different wines.  They were all lovely, and Samir, led the talk well.  It was an informative, and very alcohol soaked experience which I would gladly do again.  Thankfully no spit buckets! Scenic Sailaway The Scenic Sailaway from Stockholm took place on the forward deck sections on each floor - we were allocated to B Deck (10th floor).  We were treated to a large variety of cocktails distributed on our deck by the lovely gents from Anderson's.  A favourite of mine was when one bar steward thanked us for making his tray lighter every time we took a drink off.  Was very enjoyable and managed to sup back about six cocktails.  Oh and be called crazy by the Captain after waving at him like a mad woman when we saw him on the bridge.  He's probably on to something! Champagne Galley Tour This event started at 10:30am, with a glass of champagne in the Medina Dining Room.  We were then taken in groups to the kitchen to meet the Executive Chef and learn how the kitchen operates.  We saw the hot and cold food sides, plus the bakery and wine storage.  It was very interesting to see, and meet the staff who work so hard to make so many tasty meals.  It is interesting to hear their experiences, especially the poor dishwasher who was not sure what to do when people started asking myriad questions about the industrial dishwasher.  After the tour we exited in the Alexandria Restaurant on Deck 6 Aft where we had more champagne and some canapes.  Overall, it was a lovely tour and I'm pleased we did it. Martini Class Finally, a great start time for an alcohol fueled day drinking session: 1:30pm!  This was held in Anderson's Bar at the counter, as we were told about four different martini's: the classic gin martini (with shaken and stirred varieties shown), the cosmopolitan, the English Breakfast martini and the French Martini.  The English Breakfast martini was my favourite, while my husband was partial to the French martini.  The English Breakfast martini is not on the menu, but you can ask for it in Anderson's and they will make it.  I would definitely do this talk again, for the cheap martini's if nothing else! The Ports Kritiansand In a word: Boring.  We left the boat early when it first docked, took a fetching photo of my husband with a stuffed moose, walked around the town centre, picked up some souvenirs and reindeer salami and went back to the ship before 11am.  We then spent the rest of the day at leisure.  I believe there was a lovely nap.   We did check the prices out for having lunch but found the cost of everything around the fish market and cruise port to be prohibitive.  So we just ate on board the ship.  There were no shuttle buses running as it was a simple walk into the centre.  Pretty, but nothing much to do. Copenhagen We had been to Copenhagen before and did the best thing in the city in our opinion: Feeding Hammerhead sharks at the aquarium.   This time we decided to focus our attention on the historical palaces and touristy areas.  So, we once again got off the ship, took the shuttle into Copenhagen and started following a map for our very own photographic walking tour.  We looked at all of the palaces, along with the parliament buildings and some other historical sites.  After we finished our walk we took a canal boat tour, which ended up being a lovely way to spend our mid afternoon.  After we got off the boat we went for lunch in Nyhavn, which was expensive but tasty and washed it down with some Tuborg.  After lunch we decided to walk back to the ship along the waterfront which was a lovely way to end our day in Copenhagen.   A few things about Copenhagen: 1. It is expensive 2. The Little Mermaid is disappointing for most, yet also manages to be the busiest site in the city.  Key word is in the name: Little. 3. Remember your sunscreen - it was quite sunny there with limited opportunities for shade and my husband caught the sun.   St Petersburg Rather than take a ships tour, we booked the two-day All Highlights tour through TJ Travel.  On Day One we started at the Hermitage, which was an impressive building for its architecture and design.  The building and the art collection are lovely.  However, it was a pity that the Impressionists had been moved out to a new building, and I will need to revisit one day to see the Hermitage's collection.  We enjoyed the museum, but were not able to visit the gift shop, which annoyed my husband as he usually buys books from large museums which contain some of the photos of their collection. After the Hermitage we went to the Church on Spilt Blood which was a lovely church, which is unfortunately undergoing restoration works.  Our guide informed us that after the summer it will be fully under restoration for up to seven years'.  We then had lunch, which was god awful, under-cooked chicken, and soup which was a chicken leg floating in broth.  I was going to be hungry today.  After lunch we drove to Catherine's Palace to see the Amber Room.  It was a lovely palace, and we got lucky in that we got in before the major crowds.  People on other tours said that they had to wait a few hours to get in because of the crowds, in particular large Asian tour groups. We then drove back to St Petersburg and saw the Peter and Paul Fortress.  It was interesting to see it, and take some lovely photos.  After this my husband and I were going on our evening tour and met our guide at another area of the city.  Our new guide was incredible, and helped us understand Russia as it is today.  We went on the Russian Experience tour which included six shots of vodka.  I now think everyone needs to try horseradish vodka once in their life.  Just try it, don't think about it, it sounds like a horrible idea!  We had a lovely time that evening, I managed to buy my father a bottle of vodka, and we got a taste of Russian stout which was quite nice. Our second day in St Petersburg was an earlier start.  We drove into the city and did a canal tour of St Petersburg.  The highlight of this, was not the glorious scenery, but a young man who managed to run from bridge to bridge waving at us for the entire journey.  We gave him 5 EUR, as my husband said he certainly earned it.  We then took the hydrofoil to Peterhof and viewed the fountain park.  As stated above we did not get to see the opening ceremonies, which I would have enjoyed the spectacle of.  We did get a nice tour of the gardens, but it would have been nice to have been consulted regarding how we went about it.  After this we then went to lunch, which was slightly better than the previous day, but was still not very nice.   After lunch we went to Yusupov Palace, which was an interesting experience given the history of the place as the site where Rasputin was assassinated, and also that of the family.  I think it was a highlight of the second day.  We were advised by our guide to not buy the photo ticket and many in the group were unhappy with this advice as they decided they did want photos of the Palace.  Our final stop was St Isaac's Cathedral, which was a lovely church but by then I was all churched out.  My husband and I went through the motions, glad that the tour was nearly over.  We were then shuttled to the TJ Travel office, where we could pay for the tour, and do the 'shopping'.  I think that TJ Travel should be more open about the fact that the only shopping offered on the tour is in the souvenir shop where their office is located.   We quite enjoyed St Petersburg, however, next time I am there I would probably use my cruise line tours.      Tallinn Our next stop was Tallinn, Estonia.  It is a lovely small city with heavily cobbled roads.  As we were walking around the city touring the historical sites, we saw the tourist train as it was going over a set of cobbles.  It was bouncing everywhere and sounded incredibly loud, the poor passengers looked like they were regretting their life choices.  I was pleased we didn't get suckered into using it.  We greatly enjoyed our walk around Tallinn, and we then found a lovely bar underground where we sampled Estonian beer.  We had a lovely, pleasant day, and returned to the ship mid-afternoon and took advantage of the Lido Grill. Stockholm We took the shuttle bus into Stockholm after disembarking with the 'speed of a thousand screaming ABBA fans' as our Captain would say.  After getting off the bus we then just wandered, somewhat aimlessly, through the streets of Old Town Stockholm, enjoying the gorgeous weather.  After our long, mindless amble, we found a lovely restaurant and ate a truly glorious meal while drinking copious amounts of Swedish beer.  Good day all around.  When we were done shopping we got the shuttle bus back to the ship. Warnemunde The final port on our Baltic Adventure was Warnemunde, a lovely German seaside resort.  While many on the boat took the train to Rostock, we decided to just spend time in Warnemunde itself.  We did some shopping - mostly beer and sausages - for my father, and wandered back with our haul to the ship.  After dropping off our mass of goodies (which contrary to his belief I DID manage to pack in our cases) we wandered back into Warnemunde.  There we found a nice bar to have a few pints of pilsner (you can see the theme with our travels?)  After our morning of drinking we went and found some lunch which consisted of sausages in buns, fries and more pilsner from a lovely boat which sold fast food.  During our meal a massive queen bee decided to make my husband her *****, and sat on his head for quite some time.  I ran away.  Thankfully, he's Australian and is much better at dealing with creepy crawlies than I am, and casually allowed her to sit on him until she grew attracted to his ear and decided running along it like a treadmill was a good idea.  There were quite a few bees in Warnemunde - just a warning for those who are bug haters like I am. After lunch we got a lovely soft icecream with chocolate dip.  Mmmm...  And found another bar nearer to the train station where we sat and had a lovely conversation with a German couple over google translate.  We had a fantastic time in Warnemunde, even though we didn't climb the old lighthouse because we're too damn lazy - plus stairs are our mortal enemies.   The Staff The staff on P&O were on the whole exceptional.  Apart from the Reception Manager and the one pairing of waiters in Medina as mentioned above.  Everyone was friendly and armed with a "Good ".  They never let you feel like a bother even when you were disrupting their work.  I would say that the staff are a great asset to P&O, and they are very lucky to have them.   Elvis Our cabin steward was incredible.  Nothing was too much effort.  I asked for ice one day and he brought it every day of the holiday.  He was quick, very efficient and always kept our room at the highest standard - even when my own standards slipped.  He gave great advice during our first days on board which allowed us to make the most of the facilities.  We got to know about him, his home and his family.  If you are on Aurora - or whatever other ship he moves to after November - and you get Elvis from Goa - you are very lucky indeed.   Captain Neil Turnbull The man of the hour, the Captain Neil Turnbull.  Unfortunately, due to a rather serious infection I was suffering from renewing our vows on board was not possible, but if we were to have done it I'm sure he would have been an interesting officiant.  I enjoyed his morning addresses - though I know some did not - and his musings on his two specialist subjects children and Derbyshire.  He always said he would get us off the ship with the speed of a thousand gazelles (or Cossack gazelles, or screaming ABBA fans...) and when we came back he was always pleased someone had not run off with a fisherman.  We met him on the first say in St Petersburg and he seemed to be a lovely affable man.  It was amusing when he complained during an announcement about people complaining about his route to Russia because he was never going to get us there and would ruin their holiday.  His simple reply was that he did not want to scrape his bottom off going any other way.  Backseat driving is bad enough, but I'm not sure I'd handle backseat ship steering from people with such good humour. Things I Would Take Again and Those I Wouldn't So, I packed way too much stuff, but live and learn.  I'll just give a quick list below of things I will and will not take again: Will: Shoe holder for over the bathroom door for toiletries Magnetic Hooks Air Freshner for the Bathroom Electronic tea lights Plug for charging multiple USB devices First Aid Kit Nail Clippers E-Reader Will Not: More than five days' clothing (with the ease of using the laundrettes) Microfibre towels Books (very heavy) Final Thoughts...and will I cruise P&O again (drum-roll...) Finally, we loved P&O.  I must admit that I was concerned we would not like it very much and would be disappointed about the money spent.  The reality is that we have a cruise booked on Aurora in November, and then a transatlantic Caribbean for October 2020 on Britannia.  So, would I cruise with P&O again?  Absolutely.  You need to have your expectations set fairly, you need to understand what you are paying for and what you are not.  Reality is £100pppd for room and full board is a bargain, especially with the high standards P&O hold themselves to.  You also cannot underestimate the value of sailing to and from Southampton (if you live in the UK), especially with free coach travel offered by P&O as part of your select fare.  I look forward to being back on board Aurora, and to enjoying many future cruises on P&O in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise due to the interesting itinerary, as it was visiting a number of ports that were new to us. We had been on Aurora just 4 weeks before (see other review) so were interested to see the improvements. The ship did look ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the interesting itinerary, as it was visiting a number of ports that were new to us. We had been on Aurora just 4 weeks before (see other review) so were interested to see the improvements. The ship did look refreshed but as regular cruisers on Aurora (7 times in 2 years) we had been really looking forward to the new large screen TV's so were deeply disappointed to find that all balcony cabins and above had received them, except the 8 accessible ones (of which we had one). Very poor show P&O, made worse by the fact that our questions on board as to why this was the case were ignored - 3 times. Aside from that, we enjoyed the cruise with, as always, some highs and lows (others will no doubt feel differently but these are just our opinions); Good points - The service in the Medina Restaurant (Freedom Dining) was first class. Food was very good. We did the Chef's Table private dining at £75 a head and it was the best thing we have done on a P&O ship for years and in the company of lovely fellow passengers who are prepared to fork out for top quality. Absolutely superb in every respect. Great initiative P&O - please repeat it. Tony Babb (guest lecturer) gave some fascinating talks. The Headliners show called Applause was superb. The new show 'Astonishing' previewed on Aurora during our cruise. It didn't live up to the hype, but was a welcome break from the usual dated offerings. Best two ports for us were Oporto and Ceuta, the latter being the unexpected highlight (it's a Spanish enclave cut out of Northern Morocco). What a fantastic place. P&O should go there far more often instead of the dump that is Gibraltar (the two are opposite sides of the Straits of Gibraltar). La Coruna, Lisbon and Alicante were all very nice, but only the last of them was new to us. Sorrento is lovely but was a tender port (my wife cannot get off at those as she is disabled) and it took a long time to get off the ship, even though I was booked on a tour. I did a trip to Herculaneum and unfortunately it rained all the time we were there. Our port call to Propriano (Corsica) was cancelled due to rough seas and replaced with Ajaccio. Although we hadn't been to the former but had been to the latter (12 years ago) we were delighted with this change, as my wife would have been stuck on the ship in Propriano but could get off in Ajaccio, which is lovely. Bad Points - As I have said, we were irritated with the fact that our accessible balcony cabin hadn't received the new large TV's that all other balcony cabins (and above) had benefited from in the refit and even more irritated that our complaint about this was ignored, even when I chased them several times. Whilst most people liked Malta, we were underwhelmed. We did a tour around the island and thought that the place looked terribly neglected. Yes it got savaged in the 2nd World War, but we are 70 years on from that now and were struck by the fact that all the private houses were in a poor state of repair (we were told afterwards it's due to their tax structure - you save money if you don't complete it fully!), all the roadsides have stone walls that are either badly built, incomplete or falling down and their 'countryside' looks more like wasteland. Valletta itself was much better, but it took us 45 minutes from being dropped off from the tour coach until we got back on the ship for lunch due to the very poor cruise terminal (just two security lines and massive queues) so we aborted our plan to see more of Valletta in the afternoon as we just couldn't face that queue to get back on again. Messina was the other disappointment. We should have taken a tour here but stayed in the town. This was a mistake. Very little to see and a nightmare to get around with a wheelchair. We were also plagued there by taxi drivers and dotto trian ticket touts, as well as street hawkers. The guest lecturers for the first half of the cruise were of no interest to us whatsoever (one was about football and the other Anne Frank which then morphed into talks on food. Very odd.) Actor Robert Daws was on board for the second half but was put in the Playhouse or Carmen's which had inadequate capacity for the numbers wanting to attend. He was very good but we only managed to see one of his three talks (which had been reduced from four) and the promised repeats of the 2nd and 3rd talks on the cabin TV never materialised. Other things - We had high drama in Civitavecchia . Just after the morning tours left the ship was blown very slightly off the berth by 70 knot winds. For the rest of the day we had to be pinned against the berth by three large tugs and nobody was allowed on or off the ship for 5 hours. As a result we didn't get to look around the town, but spent the day watching the most spectacular seas crashing over the breakwater and damaging a parked car, all from the comfort of the ship, whilst 500 passengers had to wait in the cruise terminal for hours until it was deemed safe to let them back on. The Captain (I won't name him) was a marmite character. We liked him and found his regular announcements interesting and amusing. A number of other passengers found him to be extremely irritating. There was a very good classical pianist and we enjoyed the Take That style group (Beautiful World) .The Runaround Kids were good, even if their humour is a bit infantile. The Adele tribute had a great voice but completely ruined her act when she spoke between songs. I think she was trying to impersonate Adele but it failed miserably. It was excruciating. Apart from the shows that I have mentioned that we liked, the rest of the 'entertainment' was the usual P&O 1970's style TV variety show / holiday camp fodder (which was great in the 1970's but woefully outdated now). Not for us I'm afraid. Fellow passengers were almost all lovely. I'd say that the average age of passengers was early 70's (as is usual on Aurora). Overall an enjoyable cruise with some real high points and a few niggles, but that's a balanced review of the cruise as we found it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was probably the least enjoyable of our 17 cruises with P&O (6th on Aurora), but I should stress that the majority of this was not down to P&O. We did the Northern Lights Cruise during the same 2 weeks last year (also on ... Read More
This was probably the least enjoyable of our 17 cruises with P&O (6th on Aurora), but I should stress that the majority of this was not down to P&O. We did the Northern Lights Cruise during the same 2 weeks last year (also on Aurora) and had a spectacular display of the Northern Lights over two nights, with a weaker display on a third night. This year we had almost permanent cloud cover and on the two ocassions that we saw the Northern Lights they were incredibly weak. If last year was a 9 out of 10 display, this year was 1 out of 10. We also had fog (with the dreaded fog horn disiturbing sleep a few nights) and rough seas, with a lot of sudden lurching, for 24 hours on the return which became tiresome. Other than the 24 hours mentioned, Aurora rode the seas very well. As a point of interest, Viking Sky (the ship that ran into difficulties) arrived in Alta on our second day there and followed us back down the Norwegian coast a few days later. Last year we stopped in Tromso on the way to Alta, which was a lovely place and we really enjoyed our visit there. This year we made a maiden call (for P&O) to Narvik, which was a very poor replacement. Nothing much to see in the town. I also had a bad experience with a P&O tour. I had booked a snowmobile tour at £310 and it was stressed that the price was per snowmobile, not per person, so if you went as a couple you shared the snowmobile and the driving (and paid £310 between you), whereas if you went alone, you paid £310 but had sole use. At the snowmobile centre they tried to force me to share a snowmobile with another passenger when we had both paid £310 each. Naturally I refused, but it was a battle and spoiled the experience. Also the Snowmobiling was supposed to be ‘in mountains and places inaccessible by foot’ but was back and forth across a frozen lake. This was the same as I had done the previous year in Alta for around £100 less. The tour was also advertised as providing the history of the Narvik to Sweden railway line and its role in the Second World War. This didn’t happen either. Worst of all, my complaint about these issues back on board was handled very badly. They preferred to believe the word of the tour agent (who was naturally covering their back) than a customer of some 23 years standing. Very naive and short sighted of them, as we have now decided to do far fewer P&O tours on future cruises as a result. The scenery along the Fjords and ashore is fantastic. We had seen much of it last year, so didn’t quite get the ‘wow factor’ that passengers seeing it for the first time would have experienced, but it was lovely none the less. Temperatures were fine. Just like a cold U.K. winter. Most of the time it was within a few degrees of freezing, with the coldest we had around minus 7 degrees. Last year it was minus 15 to 20 degrees, so much colder. In spite of it not being that cold, the staff decided to keep the very heavy fire doors to the cabin corridors closed on all decks. Whilst this was needed below deck 7 (which is all they did last year, even when it was MUCH colder), this year they decided to do it on ALL decks. This just wasn’t necessary as the areas around the lift areas between decks 8 and 11 were incredibly hot and there would have been far better temperature dissipation with the doors open. We fed this back on the ‘First Impressions’ form and, thankfully, they kept the door outside our cabin open thereafter (my wife is a wheelchair user and, in addition to the door not needing to be closed, it made access to and from our accessible cabin very difficult). Service in the Medina Restaurant was absolutely superb. Well, to clarify, it was superb as far as the waiters and managers were concerned. The wine waiters were poor. Difficult to get hold of and one was actually quite rude. Food was perfectly acceptable, but not quite as good as on our previous cruises on Aurora. One disappointment (noted by many) was the absence of lobster from the Marco Pierre White menu. The current chefs seem to think that us Brits are scared of anything remotely spicy, so tone everything down to mild, bordering on bland. Great shame, as we loved trying all the tasty curries at lunchtime years ago. The Glasshouse and Beach House were great (as always) and whilst the Sindhu Restaurant on Aurora is our least favourite Sindhu in the fleet, we enjoyed Tiffin lunch in there. We met some lovely fellow passengers (including some we had met on previous cruises, which was fantastic) and enjoyed some pleasant chats. The average age of passengers on Aurora is usually mid 70’s (they didn’t quote a figure this time but last year the Captain mentioned the average age was 73) and although we are a few decades younger, this suits us. We aren’t fans of P&O’s ‘1960’s holiday camp’ style of entertainment so tend to avoid much of it, but the Headliners troupe on this cruise were very good (we find that they vary enormously from very good to poor), but sadly left after this cruise. Electra (two female violinists) were absolutely superb. Jane Davey (presenter) was very confident and engaging, but we found that her desire to find a wise crack in almost every line became irritating and diluted the substance matter so much that we lost interest. Stuart St Paul (former stuntman and film director) gave some fairly interesting talks, but was rather full of himself. The Port Presenter (Sam) was very good, other than the Butlins style “if you have been to Norway before, shout ‘whoop whoop’ additions. Dear God, when will P&O wake up to the fact that it’s now the 21st Century! When we disembarked, there were 1,000 workmen waiting to embark to assist with Aurora’s refit in Brest, France. A total of 1,800 workmen will toil over the next fortnight to bring her a little more up to date. We are back on board next month, so will play ‘spot the difference’. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
An excellent cruise to the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights. Whilst I did not see the lights, this did not, in any way, detract from a very enjoyable experience.Excellent embarkation procedure - I was in my cabin well before ... Read More
An excellent cruise to the Arctic Circle in search of the Northern Lights. Whilst I did not see the lights, this did not, in any way, detract from a very enjoyable experience.Excellent embarkation procedure - I was in my cabin well before my allocated time. The cabin was ready waiting for me and was well looked after by my steward. I had first sitting club dining and was served by two very attentive waiters. The food was of a good standard and I ate in the Beach House on two occasions - and enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn't go to the theatre shows and so can not comment on them. We made a "maiden" call into Narvik but I wasn't impressed. Also Bergan was substituted with Hargusand (?sp) - again not impressed. However, Alta was wonderful!! The scenery and excursions were brilliant - I went to the Ice Hotel and it was a never-to-be-forgotten experience - and another item off my bucket list. We called at Stavanger on the way home and I found it an interesting place to wander around on my own. The disembarkation process was seamless - I simply waited in the Crows Nest until an announcement was made asking all remaining passengers to disembark then wandered leisurely down to the gangway, through the baggage reclaim and on to the car park - no crowds, no hassle - all very civilised. All-in-all, I enjoyed the cruise so much that I have booked to go again on the same cruise in 2020. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We wanted to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately the weather conditions in both Narvik and Alta (the most likely opportunities to see them we were told) did not oblige. Also our Fjord trip to see Pulpit Rock in Stavanger was also ... Read More
We wanted to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately the weather conditions in both Narvik and Alta (the most likely opportunities to see them we were told) did not oblige. Also our Fjord trip to see Pulpit Rock in Stavanger was also spoilt by low cloud and rain.You might think our holiday was ruined but in spite of the above disappointments we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The views of snow covered mountains and the novelty of snow on deck - someone had even built a snowman - was wonderful. The last minute cancellation of the stop at Bergen was disappointment as we very much like Bergen. The replacement Haagesund stop was pleasant but not really a substitute for Bergen.The entertainment on board was pretty good - particularly the stage music and dance by the resident "Headliners Theatre Company". The Norwegian people at our various ports of call were so friendly. Norway is a fabulous and spectacular country whatever the weather. We have cruised on Aurora twice before albeit to warmer climes and she is as good as ever with cheerful staff in all departments. We look forward to sailing with her again at some time in the future and it will be interesting to see her after he current refit and conversion to Adults only. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was a cruise In Search of the Northern Lights, and sadly we didn't find them! Too much cloud cover. We didn't mind thought as the ship was lovely and we saw parts of Norway including Alta at the very top. Some people were ... Read More
This was a cruise In Search of the Northern Lights, and sadly we didn't find them! Too much cloud cover. We didn't mind thought as the ship was lovely and we saw parts of Norway including Alta at the very top. Some people were very disappointed as the tours were terribly expensive (£135pp for the northern lights tour and £210pp for huskies). We decided to stay on the ship and watch out from there. The itinerary was changed at the last minute, so the ship docked at Haugesund instead of Bergen, which was another disappointment. Haugesund is pretty enough but there is not a lot there. The next stop was Narvik. This is only the second time a P&O ship has docked there, and you can see why! If you are going to this port on a cruise, book an excursion, as there is very little in the town at all. On no account do what we did and walk in from the ship. We were told 40 mins but it was an hour and a half over snow and ice. Also do not be tempted to do the Ofoten railway independently. The ship's tour lays on a bus to bring you back. Without this you would be waiting 4 hours for the train to return. Alta our most northerly stop is of more interest. A visit to the Ice Hotel is well worth doing. Last stop was Stavanger which is a very pretty town to explore. The cathedral is closed for renovations and will be so for a couple more years. Aurora is a lovely ship. Our cabin was F190 which was fine. Midships and low down so it was quiet and did not move about too much. We did have a terrific storm after leaving Alta, and people high up and at the front had a bad night of it. Entertainment was mostly first class. There was a wonderful classical pianist called Philip Smith and a very talented duo of violinists called Elektra. The speaker, Jane Davey, was terrific. She is half Norwegian and gave really entertaining talks on life in Norway. There is certainly no lack of things to do on the ship. We were spoiled for choice. Disembarkation was speedy and trouble free. So a great cruise overall, but I wish the ports of call had been Bergen, Tromso, Alta and Stavanger. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Aurora Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 5.0 3.5
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.2
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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