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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We have traveled before with P&O and we have always been impressed with the entertainment, however this cruise we were left feeling ‘Is that it?’ Embarkation was slow, with us waiting an hour and a half, due to everyone ... Read More
We have traveled before with P&O and we have always been impressed with the entertainment, however this cruise we were left feeling ‘Is that it?’ Embarkation was slow, with us waiting an hour and a half, due to everyone arriving before their designated time. The food was brilliant as always, however, I felt some of the menu was repeated, almost as if they were trying to get rid of what they had left. I was also surprised by the amount of fish on the menu, not with sauces, just bland fish. Some of the ships layout was a bit odd, as to get to the Alexandria restaurant you had to go up to 7, go across the ship, and then come down again; otherwise the ship was nice, and the size was good compared to the amount of people onboard. The reception was very festive with decorations and a charming gingerbread village. The cabin staff were very friendly and they were always saying hello as you came out of your cabins. The entertainment was a different story, while the shows were enjoyable, some of the singers were a bit screechy and when they sang together (especially in that dreadful Michael Jackson rendition) it seemed they were trying to drown each other out and I think everybody in that theatre wanted to leave. I also felt that they were limited by the theatre size and as a result, they weren’t able to perform shows we had seen on other ships. The entertainment team did quizzes every night which we did partake in, but in the run up to Christmas, I don’t think anybody could do another “Guess that Christmas song” quiz. Continuing from that, on Christmas Day, the variety of things going on was very lacking, with nothing on apart from ‘Love Actually’ in the cinema. The Boxing Day panto was worth a watch, with it being very amusing in a car-crash type way. Unfortunately, our call to Amsterdam was cancelled and we were disappointed that there were no alternative arrangements in place after the previous time the ship was due to dock, it could not, similarly this happened the year before. Disembarkation was delayed as the gangways had disconnected; however this was beyond their control and they tried to correct it as quickly as possible. Overall, we would consider going again, but this is not a certainty. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
- lack of discernment from program director in selecting the appropriate movies at certain days or to speicif crowds. We noticed that in Christmas day. Although we don't celebrate Christmas, many of the fellow passengers attended the mass ... Read More
- lack of discernment from program director in selecting the appropriate movies at certain days or to speicif crowds. We noticed that in Christmas day. Although we don't celebrate Christmas, many of the fellow passengers attended the mass on Christmas day, and were presented later on the same day with a movie called showing scenes of pornography and sex right at the very few initial minutes, worst yet, the movie was put into the family activities, in which young children were present. We felt very uncomfortable while inside the theater and had to leave. - while the house keeping staff was good and up to par, the restaurant staff at medina was not friendly at all, did not care for a smile, or to captivate the guests. Rather, they only performed their job mechanicaly, with a judgemental look for certain guests. We would expect friendly waiters and waitresses, with a genuine smile, and definately lot of carisma. - due to weather conditions the visit in Amsterdam was canceled, we understand, however the tv channel which loops The tours for each of the original destination stops was not re-edit, so Amsterda tours were still being shown on tv throughout the cruise, only to cause more frustration and to remind us what we missed there. We would suggest re-editing the tv prgram immediatly should certain destination stops become unnatainable. This eliminates unecessary frustration. - in the same subject, when the stop in Amsterdam was canceled, the captain re-routed the cruise, adding 2 extra days in the sea, all guests were without mobile signal for at least another 48 hours. considering many guests did not have a way to communicate with their family and friends waiting for them in Amsterdam, or even cancel previous travel arrangements, internet signal should had been provided as a courtesy, however it wasn't. The only way for guests to do it, was to pay a fee out of pocket for a day service of internet. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This should have been a fantastic Christmas cruise with overnights in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, with a day in Belgium. What we actually got were overnights in Denmark, Norway and Belgium. I booked the cruise as I wanted ... Read More
This should have been a fantastic Christmas cruise with overnights in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, with a day in Belgium. What we actually got were overnights in Denmark, Norway and Belgium. I booked the cruise as I wanted christmas away and to see my friends in amsterdam over the christmas period, had Amsterdam not been on the places to visit I would not have booked. The Aurora is a beautiful little ship with excellent bars and restaurants. She has a slightly quirky layout and not all decks take you to where you think you are going, for example both the Medina and Alexandria Restaurants are on deck 6 but to access the Alex you have to go up to 7 and then back down again. Where the ship did score points with me was with the cabin, mine was a single birth facing forward on A deck - perfect for the single traveller. The service on board is good but although owned by Carnival is not White Star unlike Cunard. House Keeping does a good job but you cannot get the laundry back the same day, once again unlike Cunard. What was also noticed was the dress code they have on board, true at time wearing a jacket on a port night or last night can be an issue, but some dressed down on sea nights. The entertainment which was provided by the headliners was excellent and they performed some of the best show afloat I have seen and all were keen and eager. Regrettably the comic that was on, had not updated his act since the 1970s and some comments could now be regarded as unsuitable. Copenhagen at Christmas is awesome and the Tivoli gardens are worth a trip to – they ooze Christmas. Oslo was good but the first day we had fog, it was felt though that some tours could have been done to be a bit longer as it was not possible to view everything in the museums we visited. After Oslo things went downhill. Christmas was good with Santa coming to see us. Later we had an excellent meal and carols etc. Boxing day the atmosphere changed - the sad thing is it did not need to. We should have been going to Amsterdam and even as late as Christmas day the program for the 26th showed arriving in Amsterdam. We were told at 10 AM that due to weather we could not call but would have another full sea day before an overnight In Belgium. Nobody would disagree with the cancellation due to the weather etc, but P&O make a habit of this, on the previous cruise there had been the same issue. Common sense would have been to have cancelled Amsterdam in favour of Rotterdam (run tours to Amsterdam from there), but this was not considered. Belgium was felt to be a bit of a let-down and some felt that if we had docked in the UK we would have bailed out. It was also noted that the ferry from Hull made Rotterdam ok. Would I do a P&O Cruise again – maybe but I do have concerns as stated above. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise because of the Itinerary and we have cruised with P&O many times before. Dining arrangements have changed over the years with the advent of Freedom Dining which we tried once but changed back to Club dining as I ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the Itinerary and we have cruised with P&O many times before. Dining arrangements have changed over the years with the advent of Freedom Dining which we tried once but changed back to Club dining as I don't like having to have a pager at peak periods. With prefer second sitting at 8:30pm as it allows time when returning from ashore. We have always preferred a table with 6 - 8 persons and the restaurant managers have always provided us with like minded and interesting people to share with. This was not the case this year as we had a table to ourselves and several other larger tables had people missing a lot of the time. Whilst I appreciate some guests were visiting other restaurants it appears freedom dining was the main cause of this cultural change. The ship takes a bit of getting use to in terms of layout. The choice of Beer or Larger can be frustrating in terms of what is types are sold in different bars and in some only small bottles are sold at inflated prices. The Staff were friendly and the entertainment was good. Access to the various cities from the ports of call was easy whether going on one's own or choosing an excursion. Whilst Zeebrugge does not rate high on visitors list like Brugge I was keen to see the Memorial to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines at Zeebrugge together with St George's walk given that it will be 100 years ago on St George's 2018 that the blocking of the canal entrance took place with it supporting raids there and Ostend for which 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded. Knowledge of this action seemed lacking from crew members I spoke to. The shuttle bus service to Blankenberge was appreciated as an alternative visit to Brugge. Unlike other Cruise Ships I have been on there was also a lack of interesting Lectures or talks whilst at sea. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
First time on P&O but have cruised 14 times before. So being a seasonal cruise I wanted to try Christmas at Sea and P&O. Shame as it did disappoint on most levels. The festive special drinks ran out after the first sea ... Read More
First time on P&O but have cruised 14 times before. So being a seasonal cruise I wanted to try Christmas at Sea and P&O. Shame as it did disappoint on most levels. The festive special drinks ran out after the first sea day, day 2 of a 10-day cruise. That start pretty much shows the level P&O was going with on a festive cruise with no festive fun. Amsterdam stop was cancelled, had been the week before and the year before, so this is regular but they keep the stop on the itineraries. This needs to be changed as the bad weather every year won't change, so why still keep trying. We won't be using P&O again and be returning to the other brands we love, like Royal Caribbean, Fed Olsen and Tui Marcella. The cruise went smoothly but the entertainment was lacking, Christmas day at sea had the least amount of entertainment of all the days on board. The Panto on Boxing day was the only decent show we saw and it was by the entertainment team. The highlight production team for the main shows in the theatre were poor to rubbish. The dancers were unfit and out of breath after the first dance. Apart from 2 girls, the other 6 were looking full of mince pies and need more training to stay fit and healthy, cardio needs improving. As for the male dancers, 1 was great which then made the other average man look like he didn't want to be there on stage, it was sad to watch and felt sorry for him as he went through the motions. The dance routines seemed to be pretty much the same routines with different music. The singers were something else, as long as they sang on their own, there wasn't much of an issue, but as soon as someone else joined in, then they would be shouting to be heard over the other singer, no harmony at all. When all 5 sang a different Micheal Jackson song at the same time, it was a car crash. My ears were bleeding from the noise as it got louder from them screaming random words at each other. No one enjoyed this. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Although one of the older ships in the P and O fleet, the Aurora is beautifully maintained. The Art Deco touches around the ship give it a real sense of style, and all the public areas are smart and attractive. Because it is a smaller ... Read More
Although one of the older ships in the P and O fleet, the Aurora is beautifully maintained. The Art Deco touches around the ship give it a real sense of style, and all the public areas are smart and attractive. Because it is a smaller ship, it is easy to find your way around, and feels intimate, but not crowded, and at around 1800 passengers, there seems to be space for everyone. This was a winter cruise, so it was no gauge of normal demand for sun beds, but we never had a problem getting a seat in the Theatre or a drink in the bars, and although peak demand at breakfast and lunch in the buffet meant it was very busy, it was still possible to find a table. This was my second cruise on Aurora, and it has become my favourite P and O ship. Personal preferences are very subjective, but for me it has a much better atmosphere than the much larger, more modern and bland, Britannia. There are several bars, with styles including Gentleman’s Club, pub and nightclub, and they are all beautifully decorated and well maintained. Waiter service was, on the whole, quick, friendly and efficient, with just an occasional (but understandable) slight delay at peak times, such as just before dinner. Some bars were not open during the day, but provided ideal spaces for those who like to sit and read, and for daily activities and quizzes. However, drinks were often available in these areas through waiter service from another bar. Prices seemed to be around the same as most pubs at home. Two main dining rooms offer Club dining and Freedom (anytime) dining, with Speciality dining (at an extra fee) offered in Sindhu, The Beach House and The Glass House. All are well decorated and attractive. On this cruise, we ate only in the Medina (Freedom Dining) restaurant, and the very friendly waiter service was exceptional. Despite it being Freedom Dining, we ended up in the same section (mostly on the same table) for several nights, and got to know our waiters as much as we would have in Club Dining. The waiters also got to know us and our preferences, and treated us as friends. This was an unexpected bonus, and very different from our Freedom dining experience on other P and O ships. The food was of very good quality and we enjoyed every meal in the MDR. However, the menu choices seem to have changed a little with P and O over the last few years. Presumably because of their emphasis on Food Heroes, etc., menus include a lot more “fancy” dishes. Again it is just a question of personal preference, but for me this restricted the menu choices a little, as I enjoy fairly plain food, and don’t eat a lot of fish. However, for those who like fish, there seem to be a lot more fish options on the menu. Unfortunately for us, the Beach House, which has always been a feature of our previous cruises, has changed the menu, so that the wonderful kebabs are now fish based, rather than meat. As is usual for P and O, the MDR menu includes “always available” items, such as steak and salmon, but these disappeared on Gala nights, which made menu choices very limited. Food in the Buffet was consistently good at breakfast and lunch, with varied choices, and service was efficient and friendly. I was travelling with a friend, so we had booked a twin larger inside cabin on B deck. It was spacious, with a full size sofa and plenty of wardrobe space, even though we had bulky clothing for the winter weather. Our steward kept the cabin and the bathroom beautifully clean. The entertainment was very good. The Headliners Theatre Company’s own shows were some of the best I have seen, and there were four during the 10 night cruise. Normally, cruising with P and O means seeing shows that you have already seen on other ships and cruises, but the shows on this cruise were new to me, and very well performed, and included a superb Christmas show on the last night. Guest performers included the Four Tunes (who are a P and O favourite, and are consistently good), an excellent ventriloquist/comedian, Gareth Oliver, Helen Ward-Jackson (vocalist and Adele tribute act). The port presenter, Sam from the shore excursions team, was one of the best I have seen, and made the presentations much more interesting than the usual “just selling excursions” type of talk. There was the usual selection of daytime activities, with the addition of two game shows, based on The Chase and Pointless. The Entertainment Team presenters were enthusiastic, but clearly too young to understand some of the questions and answers! The itinerary was what attracted us to the cruise. Ports of call were Hamburg, Copenhagen (overnight), Oslo, Amsterdam and Bruges. Hamburg and Bruges crop up on so many cruises, but I hadn’t been to Hamburg before. Unfortunately it was not only very cold, but wet, and we had to take refuge in a shopping centre to get dry and have lunch. Two Christmas markets, but we didn’t really get a chance to gauge what it would be like in better weather as somewhere to visit (despite driving round the city three times when our shuttle bus driver got lost!) We had visited Copenhagen previously, and loved it, but the overnight stop meant the opportunity to visit the Tivoli Gardens in the dark to see the Christmas decorations and lights, and this was magical. A beautiful city, and three more Christmas markets. We used the shuttle bus to go back to the ship in the evening, but the city centre is a reasonable (and very pleasant) stroll from the ship. Oslo was wonderful. It was a clear, sunny (but cold) day, and the ship was moored five minutes walk from the City Centre, alongside a military fortress which now has the grounds open to pedestrians, and this gave us some lovely views of the city, the port, and our ship. There was a very big Christmas market in the City centre, and a lot of great shops. We walked (about 30 minutes) to the Vigeland Sculpture Park; this was a pleasant stroll with plenty to look at, and the sculptures were amazing. Well worth a visit, but if you are able to walk it is not worth paying for a ship excursion to go there. Disappointingly, we had to miss Amsterdam because of high winds, and so arrived at Zeebrugge at 5pm on the Thursday instead of 8am on the Friday. Shuttle buses were laid on into nearby Blankenberg, and a couple of last minute evening excursions were arranged for those who wanted to go further afield. We did go into Blankenberg, but there is little to see or enjoy in the dark at this time of year! We had already booked a day trip to Bruges for the next day, and on balance we thought this was worth the extra cost. Despite being called “Bruges on your own”, there was a guide who gave a running commentary all the way there and back, and led the way from the coach park to the city centre, as well as answering any questions. A chocolate box pretty city, but unfortunately it was again a wet day, so we decided to take a mini-bus city tour and this enabled us to do some sight seeing in the dry. Embarcation was very quick and very friendly - we were on board within 15 minutes of leaving the taxi. Disembarcation was much slower, and it was crowded and hot being herded into the Theatre to wait until we could leave the ship. The North Sea was a bit rough, but no more than we expected at this time of year. (The very entertaining Captain, Neil Turnbull, apologised for the potholes in the road on several days!) This was a very enjoyable cruise, and at £75 pppn, very good value. There were many people on board who were doing the trip for the second or third time. As usual, we met some lovely fellow passengers, who became wonderful cruise friends. The Christmas decorations on board were wonderful, and on one day the Entertainment team sang carols in the Atrium, complete with surprise snow falling from the upper gallery. However, in their advance emails, P and O had emphasised the festive nature of the cruise, with the ship smelling of mince pies and mulled wine. No doubt mince pies were around somewhere, but I could find mulled wine only in the deck bar by the pool. Having said that, plenty of fellow passengers wore their Christmas jumpers to create their own festive atmosphere! All in all, a wonderful cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
This Winter break attracted us because it visited some interesting European ports and allowed us to avoid some of the pre-Christmas hassle at home. In fact, we also missed some unpleasant weather in the UK as an added bonus. We always ... Read More
This Winter break attracted us because it visited some interesting European ports and allowed us to avoid some of the pre-Christmas hassle at home. In fact, we also missed some unpleasant weather in the UK as an added bonus. We always stay overnight in Southampton before a cruise. Our embarkation time was 15.00, but we arrived before midday and were on board in time for lunch. Embarkation is very easy and the waiting area is adequate, but WIFI would be good! We had not travelled on Aurora before and we look at the itinerary rather than the ship, but we were happy enough with our home-from-home for the voyage. Aurora had been decorated for the season for this cruise, and very festive she looked! Recorded carols with breakfast (and other meals) were at least not too loud and were occasionally replaced by non-seasonal music. There was a carol-singing event in the Atrium on one sea day too. Our first port-of-call was Hamburg, so we had a sea day before arriving. It was very windy, but the ship was nearly always very steady. We enjoy going outside to watch the waves and any wildlife, but seabirds were the only representatives of that group on this trip. Hamburg itself was cold, wet and sleety. We took the free (to us) shuttle bus into the town and then used the HO-HO bus to see the main sights. We stayed onboard throughout, but the wet windows made photography tricky. Afterwards, we walked round the town for a while, but the sleet blowing in our faces soon sent us back to the ship. A second sea day was required to take us to Copenhagen. We prefer to eat at night in the Horizon dining area, and expected it to be quiet as the second formal evening was taking place, but in fact there were long queues for the hot food most of the time we were there that night. It does not help that half of the area is closed because of the Beach House in the evenings. A survey of the use of the main dining rooms, the Horizon and the Beach House dining areas would be interesting. We have complained in the past because of the frequency of spicy food in the themed night menus in the Horizon area, with only one alternative option. This seemed to have been addressed, but we would like to see a greater choice of menu here. We ate in the MDR on one occasion, but my choice of roast turkey was bland. Hygiene looks to be poor in the self-service area, with tables swiped with a used cloth, but we asked for information and were shown the buckets of disinfectant used to soak the cloths in, which was reassuring. The staff in this area were far superior to those on Oriana, so trays and plates were cleared quickly and with a smile. Copenhagen was a two-day port. One of the HO-Ho bus companies is linked to P&O and picked us up from the ship. The cost was deducted from our on-board credit, which was helpful. (We spent the rest on WIF, which could be very slow at times, but was charged for the whole cruise which meant the minutes ticking by slowly did not matter.) Once again, we enjoyed the complete circuit of the town before returning to the ship for lunch and walking out again in the afternoon. The dock is very close to The Little Mermaid and there are several small shops to visit on the dock. Oslo was next on the itinerary. It was sunny but cold, with a dusting of snow in places. The ship was only a short walk from the town, so we set off to see the Cathedral, but it had soldiers and police in attendance and we were told that the King was inside for a private service. Our travels took us up to the Royal Palace, where a group of soldiers in ceremonial dress were obviously waiting for something to happen. The small crowd was allowed to wander quite close to the Palace, where a few police men and women were on duty. We were told that they expected a car at some time, but we were walking away when motorbike outriders were seen coming up the road to the Palace. We ran back to our vantage point and watched the Royal Car pull up, with a wave from the Crown Prince. We think the King was hidden from the camera behind him. The low-key security was interesting. Inside the dock area were several shops and a very welcome urn of complimentary mulled wine, which was very sweet but hot and good with the ginger biscuits also provided. In the afternoon, we visited the Akershus Fortress which was directly opposite the ship and which provided a pleasant view from our balcony. The clear evening, as we sailed away, made a faint Aurora visible. We know what to look for, because it looked like a white cloud to the naked eye, but the camera revealed the identifying green arcs. Another windy sea day followed, as we headed for Amsterdam. The Captain suggested that docking there might be an issue, so it was not surprising that he later cancelled the port, with the compromise of arriving at Zeebrugge in the evening before the scheduled time. This allowed visits to Bruges at night, although we preferred to wait for our booked excursion the next day. This was our only booked excursion, to avoid having to get ourselves into the town. We were escorted by a guide from the coach park to a meeting place not too far from the town centre; our shorter trip allowed plenty of time to look around at leisure. Canal trips are available, but it rained intermittently and the boats were open, so we sheltered in the Christmas Market with a mulled wine instead. We had arranged to take ourselves off the ship at 07.15 in Southampton, but heavy traffic in the port delayed us until almost 8.00. A surprising number of passengers had also chosen this option and there were long queues, but we were lucky to be close to the disembarkation point and made our exit quickly. After scraping the ice from the car windows (inside as well as out in the case of the windscreen!) we were back in the Midlands in the early afternoon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise as it was visiting Hamburg, Oslo and Amsterdam sad well as Copenhagenn and Zeebrugge which we had previously visited. Unfortunately we did not make Amsterdam due to severe winds in the North Sea. We loved the food ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was visiting Hamburg, Oslo and Amsterdam sad well as Copenhagenn and Zeebrugge which we had previously visited. Unfortunately we did not make Amsterdam due to severe winds in the North Sea. We loved the food and always ate in the Medina restaurant on anytime dining and enjoyed the company of all the people that we met. The entertainment was brilliant especially Helen Ward-Jackson who sang Adelle as well as Cabaret songs on another night. We really enjoyed the Four tunes especially their rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. the headliners theatre group were also great to watch and possibly the best crew ship singers and dancers that we have experienced. We did three organised tours and we were more than happy with the costs incurred. Our cabin D143 was kept spotlessly clean by our cabin steward Val and he is a credit to P & O. Aurora is a lovely ship and a joy to travel on it is the right size of ship please do not decommission it as it is a perfect size! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We recently took a Spain and France cruise on the Aurora. This is a clean, comfortable ship with loads on offer. While not the largest vessel we have sailed on, it was of sufficient size to travel smoothly over a fairly choppy bay of ... Read More
We recently took a Spain and France cruise on the Aurora. This is a clean, comfortable ship with loads on offer. While not the largest vessel we have sailed on, it was of sufficient size to travel smoothly over a fairly choppy bay of Biscay. We found the embarkation process smooth, and the mobility assistance and general crew attitude welcoming. We boarded a little before the cabins were fully ready, but were take to the Alexandria Restaurant where a buffet and a welcome drink were waiting for us. The cabins were soon ready, and we headed off to a small but comfortable inner on the 11th Deck. This cabin (A227) had a soft bed (configured as a double), a small settee, and loads of drawer and wardrobe space for its size. The shower was easy to access, and the TV kept good reception the entire cruise. We didn't use any specialty dining on this occasion, but did eat in the Horizon buffet, and both the Medina and Alexandria Restaurants. Service was attentive, and care was taken for special diets. We attended a really interesting talk on Nat King Cole in the theatre, and took in a couple of recent release films as well. The entertainment provision was typical for cruises, and seemed to be enjoyed by most. Service was good, and we had a very professional steward, who kept a perfect balance of attentiveness without being "in your face." Other staff were accommodating and made for a pleasant cruise. The Bay of Biscay was dreary and blustery in both sea days, and the exposed pools were unusable (for both cold, and the sloshing of their contents over their sides), but plenty of indoor activities were on offer. Each of the ports (La Coruna, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Cherburgh) were sunny, and the the first three warmer than predicted. Many passengers caught up on their pool time in these. We made two ship arranged excursions to Santiago and to Guernica. Both were informative, and made for a richer experience. The guide for Santiago was flexible and provided good "free time" recommendations. There is a "road train" tour available from the cathedral square, but it was bone jarring over cobbles. The Guernica excursion was also interesting, though the guide was a little less organised. We learned a lot about Basque culture and politics, and also had time in a small fishing port. The highlight was to see the tile reproduction of Picasso's Guernica. This was a very good cruise with great food, and good service. Minor annoyances came in the lift wait times, and the captain's daily announcements. He would introduce himself each time as the "Captaan" which is endearing the first two or three times, but wears thin. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
DAY 1 - Sunday 22nd October- Southampton Our first back to back cruise, as this followed a 2 day cruise to Zeebrugge which, due to Storm Brian, turned into a cruise to nowhere as we couldn’t dock due to high winds (see separate ... Read More
DAY 1 - Sunday 22nd October- Southampton Our first back to back cruise, as this followed a 2 day cruise to Zeebrugge which, due to Storm Brian, turned into a cruise to nowhere as we couldn’t dock due to high winds (see separate review). The morning passed quickly and just after midday we headed down to the Glass House and ordered a bottle of Peller Ice Cuvée. Lunch (at extra cost) is now available here on embarkation day and is a very civilised start to a cruise, unlike the scrum in the buffet. We also booked the paired food and wine dinner for the evening of our La Rochelle visit After a pleasant few hours, we returned to our cabin, where we stayed until the Muster Drill was over (as passengers in transit on a back to back cruise we did not have to attend), prior to securing poll position in the Crows Nest for the sailaway down the Solent for the 2nd time in 48 hours! Unfortunately, this experience was somewhat spoiled by a very large group of over 30 people who, as more and more of them arrived, became progressively louder and louder until they dominated the entire Crows Nest, ruining the cruise down the Solent for everyone else. We had feared that the preceding 2 night party cruise would be rowdy, but it was tranquil compared to this lot. We had pre-booked dinner in the Beach House and received a very warm welcome from the restaurant manager who we had chatted to two nights earlier on the previous cruise. We were given a nice table by the window (even though it was dark) and thankfully all the other diners were couples and therefore a peaceful meal of fillet steaks on lava stone was enjoyed by both of us. After dinner we went to Carmen’s where we were pleased to see Caravan perform their Eagles tribute, as we had missed this during our May cruise to the Baltic on Aurora (see separate review). Although they didn’t reproduce the vocals with the same level of accuracy as they had the Bee Gees, it was a good performance, although, in the absence of a member of the entertainment team who should have been providing the commentary between songs, the Philippine lead singer really struggled to give an English commentary and it would be better if they just played the hits back to back. Finally, we went to the Curzon Theatre for the comedian Vince Earl. P&O seem to think that anyone with a Liverpudlian accent is a natural comic. Many aren’t and he certainly wasn’t. There were one or two good one liners but the rest of his performance was dated and strained. We left half way through. Another choppy night and I was disturbed by our next door neighbour banging things around at midnight and then turning their TV on too loud. We like the cabins, but the sound insulation between them is terrible. DAY 2 - Monday 23rd October - At Sea The clocks had gone forward during the night but we weren’t entirely sure whether or not our phones had picked up the European time zone. They hadn’t, so we were an hour behind. None the less, we managed to get to the Medina restaurant 10 minutes before they close to new arrivals. After breakfast we headed over to the Curzon Theatre for the port talks on La Coruna and Bilbao. Although these are thinly veiled sales pitches for the P&O excursions, the presenter was one of the better ones that we have listened to. She had excellent presentational skills, was a clear speaker, kept up a good pace and provided useful info for those of us going ashore independently. We skipped past the Food and Beverage Showcase, as it was being held around the atrium, which is a narrow pinch point at the best of times and particularly so when it’s a sea day and the shops have stalls of tat on display. We took up an early spot in The Playhouse for a talk by Chris Walker on The Great American Songbook. Mildly interesting and a different way to spend 45 minutes, but a very easy gig for the speaker (in return for a free cruise), as it was brief biographies of artists that could be found in seconds on Wikipedia interspersed with film clips. Lunch in the Medina restaurant, where the menu was exactly the same one that we’d had two days earlier during our previous cruise. Upon leaving we realised that the evening menu (Marco Pierre White Gala Dinner) was identical as well, so we decided to book a table at Sindhu instead to see if we would prefer it this time, having been disappointed during our May cruise on Aurora, where Sindhu wasn’t anywhere near as good as the versions on Britannia or Ventura. At 2pm I attended the port talk on La Rochelle and Cherbourg, but post lunch drowsiness meant that I didn’t catch all of it! We were now in the Bay of Biscay and there’s quite a bit of movement. Back to The Playhouse at 4.15pm for a Classical Concert by Spanish guitarist Dimitris Dekavalles who was incredibly talented and put on a very enjoyable performance. This was as enjoyable as the performances by Harmony Duo during our May cruise. Having changed into our formal attire for the first of the two Black Tie evenings, we first attended the 6pm Captains welcome aboard drinks reception in Carmen’s. Dinner in Sindhu had to be at 6.30pm as it was fully booked thereafter (our consolation being a free bottle of wine for early diners up to 6.30pm), so we were a bit concerned that Captain Turnbull didn’t arrive until 6.25 (having done the Crows Nest party first). This was the first time that we had seen him since we boarded 3 days earlier, but he seemed a very personable chap. As he finished speaking we dashed up to Sindhu, arriving 10 minutes late, but we needn’t have worried as they were very welcoming and offered the complimentary bottle of wine without us asking for it. Service and food were both very good, although we still aren’t fans of the ambiance and location of Sindhu on Aurora. It’s essentially an extension of the coffee shop during the day and looks like it. It is open to the atrium and noisy as a result. There are some dividing screens, but they are lattice in design, so provide no sound screening whatsoever. As this poor design makes the restaurant feel less exclusive than the versions on other ships, payment of the £40 cover charge (for 2) doesn’t feel such good value here as it does on Britannia or Ventura. There was only one option for the evening entertainment, Jamie Allan in the Curzon Theatre, who was billed as an iMagician. The pre show videos built it up to look quite promising, but the actual show fell a bit short. There were some clever tricks, but he was a bit stilted in his performance and the numerous card tricks on a table became less convincing when you realised that his hand movements were ever so slightly out of sync with the overhead camera shots, which he continually felt the need to say were ‘live’. DAY 3 - Tuesday 24th October- La Coruna, Spain We woke up to an amazing sunrise over the Spanish coast as we reversed onto the berth at La Coruna. From our balcony we had a fabulous view of the harbour and town, including the famous glass fronted Avenida de la Marina. After breakfast in the Medina restaurant, we headed up to deck 13 in order to get our bearings for where we would be walking from the panoramic observation deck. No shuttle bus is needed here as the berth is in the town centre, so we commenced an anti clockwise circuit of the coastal path around the peninsular. First of all we walked out on to a jetty where numerous locals were fishing. This provided a good view of Aurora. The coastal walk very much reminded us of Cadiz, but without the tropical gardens alongside the promenade. After several miles we came to the Tower of Hercules lighthouse, which was originally built by the Romans who traded tin between here and Cornwall. We had coped well with the wheelchair up until this point, but I did the final climb up the ramp to the lighthouse on my own. We then continued anti-clockwise around the promenade until we were the opposite side of the headland to Aurora, at which point we headed inland and walked around the shopping centre before finishing up in the square in front of the ornate town hall, the towers of which had beautiful sparkling bronze coloured roofs. We were too late for lunch in the Medina restaurant, so headed for the Glass House where we enjoyed copious quantities of chilled water (the outside temperature had reached 21 degrees) and lunch, comprising 3 small plates each and a shared platter of Alex James cheeses. A fairly early departure was scheduled (4.30pm) and a chap pushing his wife in a wheelchair was last to board a few minutes after the deadline. We enjoyed the sailway from our balcony which was on the sunny side. In spite of Captain Turnbulls assurances to the contrary, the ship started moving around again once we had moved back out into the Bay of Biscay. After 3 full days of very noticeable movement we had enjoyed our day ashore on terra-firma. This evening was the first meal that we hadn’t enjoyed in the Meridian, as we both had Pollock with Parmesan crust, which was tasteless. DAY 4 - Wednesday 25th October- Bilbao, Spain After breakfast we boarded an accessible shuttle coach for the transfer to Bilbao. We were dropped off within a 5 minute walk of the Guggenheim Museum, which was our first and primary port of call. We received some sort of reduced admission because of the wheelchair and then spent a few hours looking around various galleries of bizarre sheets of metal, splashes on canvas and video clips, all masquerading as art. Not really our thing, but the building itself was impressive, particularly from the outside. As we left the Guggenheim, we decided to follow the promenade along the river towards the old city. This was going well until it petered out and we had to climb up a long slope before realising that we had missed the bridge that we needed to cross over the river. We picked our way back down and entered the old part of the city. It was quite quaint but a bit of a rabbit warren and we somehow managed to get completely lost and exited at completely the wrong end to where we had planned. After trying unsuccessfully to find where we were on the map, we asked some locals who were having a coffee to show us where we were. It looked a long way back to the shuttle bus and potentially hilly, so we chickened out and got a cab back to the shuttle stop and, from there, a shuttle back to the ship. Another late lunch in The Glass House which, yet again, we had virtually to ourselves. The problem with late lunches is that we then struggle with dinner, so after a long rest in our cabin, including watching the sailaway, we still had no appetite. The Headliners Theatre Group were performing for the first time this cruise (note - we are 4 days in!) but it is the show ‘Fantasy’ which we don’t particularly rate as the storyline is a bit daft. In the hope that we would have worked up an appetite by 9.30pm (last admission for Freedom dining) we decided to give the 8.30pm show a try. It was better than the last time we had seen it as the singers could at least hit the right notes this time but, as has been the case every time we have been in the theatre, passengers stroll in throughout the entire performance and then expect those who were seated on time to have their enjoyment interrupted by having to stand mid-performance to let them pass along a row. P&O staff should stop anyone entering the theatre 5 minutes after curtain up. The other thing that is extremely distracting is the tendency of some passengers to feel the need to talk throughout the performance. As the show closed we dashed over to the Meridian Restaurant still with 10 minutes to spare. Although we were happy to share, we were shown to a table for 2, where we enjoyed a good meal and friendly service. DAY 5 - Thursday 26th October - La Rochelle, France Another dry day as we arrived at our penultimate port, La Rochelle in France. Unlike La Coruna, where we had a stunning view from our balcony, this was a commercial port with dust flying around from the gravel mountain that was being moved around by diggers during our stay. As this was a smaller town, we didn’t leave the ship until around 11am. A shuttle bus was required and this wasn’t as efficient as the service we’d had in Bilbao. At each end, one or two local young ladies had been deployed to supervise the loading and dispatch of buses. As a result, this was all taking a lot longer than if passengers had been left to their own devices. After around a 15 minute wait to board, we were then surprised to find that the supposed 3 mile transfer to the centre was far more like 10 miles as we spent 20 minutes driving there, including on a motorway. Our return trip was a shorter route, but no way was it only 3 miles. La Rochelle itself was very pleasant. An old historic French harbour with imposing buildings, a pretty harbour and countless restaurants and shops, all of which looked very good. After a pleasant stroll around, we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship. To show how futile the shuttle bus boarding controls were, our bus pulled away with one more passenger on board than seats and one chap had to sit on the step throughout the journey. Unlike in Spain, the French insisted on seeing everyone’s passport (in addition to cruise cards) before letting us back on the ship. Post Brexit, you can imagine that they will be even more awkward! For the first time this cruise there seemed to be a problem getting passengers back on board. Two gangways we attached. One, to deck 7, looked very steep and was not yet in use. The remaining one, to deck 5, seemed to have a problem as there were long waits between each small group of passengers being allowed on. We eventually boarded after around 20 minutes waiting on the quayside. As we were booked to attend the 6.30pm Food and Wine Pairing Dinner at the Glass House, we decided to have a light lunch in the cabin from the Grab n’ Go area. We then relaxed in the cabin until the sail-away although, being an industrial port, there wasn’t much to see, especially as we plunged into thick fog within a few miles of shore. Aurora’s fog horn started sounding every few minutes, which reminded us of our Baltic Cruise in May where it resulted in us having severely disturbed sleep for 2 nights as we glided along flat calm seas in thick fog. On that cruise, we did not feel a single bit of movement for the entire 14 days, unlike this cruise where it has been almost constant - albeit not enough to cause either of us any issues (other than the loud creaking from the ceiling which has disturbed us a few nights). Thankfully, the fog ended as quickly as it had begun. We had enjoyed the Food and Wine pairing dinner when we had been on Aurora in May, so were pleased to see it was being held on this cruise as well (although there are apparently no wine or gin tastings on 7 day cruises). Clearly the £30 per head charge had put off most people as there were only 6 couples present, spread across 3 tables for 4 people. We finished dinner in time to catch the later of Dimitris Dekavalles’ 2nd performance in The Playhouse at 9.30pm. Another superb performance, this time of Latin American guitar music. Sadly, as has been the case throughout this entire cruise, our enjoyment of the performance was severely impacted by the constant comings and goings of passengers throughout the entire 45 minutes. These passengers, who feel that it is acceptable to walk in half way through a performance and disrupt others enjoyment as they ask people who had been seated on time to stand to let them pass, then seem to feel that it is equally acceptable to hold conversations during the show. All of this, coupled with the fact that the latecomers also leave the door to the main corridor open allowing passing noise to be heard, must be as infuriating for the artists as it is the guests who have the courtesy to arrive on time. It is a shame that the member of the entertainments team who introduces the artist doesn’t put a ‘No Entry’ sign on the door once the performance has begun. DAY 6 - Friday 27th October- At Sea It had taken a long time to get to sleep as the occupants of the adjacent cabin had been crashing and banging around and talking at full volume, in spite of a request in Horizon (which we had never seen before) asking passengers to be considerate about such things given how sound travels between cabins. It’s a shame that they don’t print this message daily as other less important things seem to be. As it was a sea day, we weren’t in quite such a rush for breakfast, but we still managed to arrive at the Meridian Restaurant with only 10 minutes to spare before the 9.30am cut off time. I have always felt that 9am (port days) and 9.30am (sea days) is too early a cut off time for breakfast in the restaurant when people are on holiday. 10am would seem a far more reasonable time to me. After breakfast, I headed to the Curzon Theatre for Chris Walkers 2nd talk, this time on Nat King Cole which was as interesting about the racial discrimination in the USA in the 1940’s and 1950’s as it was for the music. Lunch in the Meridian Restaurant was an easy decision as there was an Asian platter as a starter and lamb jalfrezi for main course. After lunch we went to The Playhouse for Demitris Dekavalles’ last performance of the cruise. Judging by the near full house, we are clearly not the only passengers who prefer our entertainment to be a few levels up from the usual holiday camp style that P&O seems to specialise in. As it was the last sea day, we tidied up a few loose ends, such as completing and returning the customer service questionnaire and returning the book that had been borrowed from the library. It was black and white night and we decided to start the evening with a gin flight in Anderson’s (strangely, they don’t offer these in the Crows Nest on Aurora as they do on Britannia). As well as some nice nibbles, we were surprised to find that the waiting staff (of whom there were many, unlike the Crows Nest) handed out plates of canapés. We shall have to remember Anderson’s as our pre-dinner bar of choice on our future Aurora cruises. Dinner was the Chaine des Rotisseurs version. We said that we would share a table but still had a wait (with a pager). Around 30 minutes later we had not been called, so I enquired at the restaurant managers desk and we were taken straight to a table. Unfortunately, the other 6 guests had already ordered and their starters were arriving as we were ordering, which I thought was pretty poor but, to be fair to the waiters, our starters were served very quickly and we were able to catch up. It was a great table and we really enjoyed the company of all 3 other couples. Half the table (including us) had ordered the lobster. The waiter appeared after some delay and said that there was a wait for lobster. When they eventually arrived, we all had very small portions. It looked as though they had run out and tried to spread what was left between all those they had left to serve. We’ve never experienced that before during 12 previous cruises with P&O. Surprisingly, we had only had one performance by the Headliners over the first 6 nights. Perhaps they were on holiday as well? Tonight it was the girl group called Sister Twist again. They were pretty good. DAY 7 - Saturday 28th October - Cherbourg We had assumed that this would be our least interesting port of call and whilst the town itself was nothing to write home about, it was a 10 minute walk from the ship (shuttle buses were provided but not necessary) which turned out to be quite an interesting walk as fishermen were selling their freshly caught fish, crab and lobsters on the quayside. Cherbourg has quite a large traditional shopping area (in which we purchased some gifts to take home) and, on the other side of the harbour, a modern shopping centre. The highlight of the visit, however, was the City of the Sea exhibition which was immediately adjacent to where we had berthed. This is housed in the old Art Deco buildings of the former grand ocean liner terminal once used by Cunard and White Star Line, including passengers boarding Titanic. After lunch back on board the ship, I went back ashore on my own and had a thoroughly enjoyable visit there, which included a full tour inside a decommissioned French nuclear submarine (La Redoubtable), an aquarium, the old Art Deco Boarding halls and a Titanic Museum. The sail-away was relatively uneventful and at 7pm we headed up to the Beach House for our final evening meal. Service was excellent as ever but the food wasn’t great this time. The chilli squid was absent of any chilli whatsoever and the chocolate fondu, which we had enjoyed on a previous cruise, had been ruined by the use of a very watery chocolate sauce that was more akin to drinking chocolate. After dinner we had some time to kill before the final show, so we went to Anderson’s for a pre-show drink. Entertainment for the final night was a new show called ‘Echoes in the Night’. Performed by the Headliners Theatre Company, in what was only their 2nd show of a 7 night cruise, this was quite a departure from their normal song and dance shows. The story line was more convincing, the acting was less forced and the dancing was excellent. Singing new songs in the style of old songs didn’t work for me, but it was refreshing to see P&O try a need format as their traditional approach to entertainment is really stuck in a time warp. DAY 8 - Sunday 29th October - Southampton Whilst it is usual when returning from mainland Europe to gain an hour back during the morning of arrival back in Southampton, as it was the end of British summer time UK clocks went back an hour overnight so we had to put our watches back 2 hours. Coupled with the fact that Cherbourg is less than 100 miles from Southampton, the Captain had time to kill overnight, so we had headed West along the English Channel towards Devon before turning back towards the Isle of Wight. It was a busy morning in the port of Southampton as Ventura, Oceana, Independence of the Seas and a Fred Olsen ship had all arrived before Aurora, even though we had by far the shortest journey! We vacated our cabin at 8am and then had the usual final morning difficulty of trying to get a lift, as able bodied passengers disembarking the ship insist on using the lifts simply because they are carrying small items of hand luggage, thus making it near impossible for wheelchair users (who are unable to use the stairs) to move between floors. After we had eventually managed to get to the Medina Restaurant, we were pleased to find that there was no queue to enter and we had our pre departure breakfast. At the end of our May cruise on Aurora we had been unimpressed with the assisted disembarkation service, as it was wildly abused by a large number of passengers who didn’t genuinely need a wheelchair to get off the ship but had requested the service in order to queue jump. In frustration, I had pushed the wheelchair off the ship myself and we requested the assistance of a porter in the luggage hall. This time we decided that, if there was a long queue, we would do the same again. When we reported to Vandebelts we realised that there were an awful lot of people in there already (most of whom had coped easily without a wheelchair all cruise, around the ship, on and off in ports and whilst ashore, but suddenly need one to get off the ship on the last morning when there is some perceived advantage), so we didn’t sit down and just followed the next assistance pusher off the ship and grabbed a porter. As we were returning to the QE2 terminal having departed on the previous cruise from Mayflower terminal, we had been concerned that our car wouldn’t be waiting for us. No need to worry as it was there in poll position at the front of the first line of cars! Finally, we have a new favourite captain in Neil Turnbull. Nobody has ever lived up to Chris Wells, whose humour and informative announcements made a huge difference to our enjoyment of the two Cruises we did with him, but Captain Turnbull has personality, humour and professionalism. Few have all three, but he does and we hope to sail with him again. Read Less
Aurora Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.5
Family 5.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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