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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Leaving and returning to Southampton with some new Islands in the itinerary were the main reason we chose Aurora R803. We know P&O well but not this ship, we were pleasantly surprised. Everything is close to hand with a good choice of ... Read More
Leaving and returning to Southampton with some new Islands in the itinerary were the main reason we chose Aurora R803. We know P&O well but not this ship, we were pleasantly surprised. Everything is close to hand with a good choice of bars and restaurants. The crew were friendly and efficient and the food in all restaurants excellent be it Buffet , MDR or the three speciality ( extra cover charges ) restaurants, Sindhu, Glasshouse and Beachouse. Drinks were reasonably priced , typically the same as a UK South East pub might charge. The ship was clean but tired in some areas. Our cabin B142 a deluxe balcony on deck 10 was well appointed with lots of storage space but rather let down by a shabby carpet. In rough weather we also noticed a “Woodpecker” took up residence in the headboard but this could not be tracked down on inspections. A great location though, two decks up to Lido and buffet and three decks down to promenade and shops etc. The daytime and evening entertainment was poor compared to what we have experienced many times before on P&O. Three new Islands for us, Tobago ( beach day at Pigeon Point, excellent ) Guadeloupe ( closed for Easter Sunday ) and Martinique ( took a ferry to Ainse Maitan beach, very nice ) The other Islands, St Kitts, Antigua and Barbados we’ve visited many times so more beach time. We stopped at Madeira on the outbound and Ponta Delgada ( Azores) on the way back. The weather was generally good apart from the Azores to Southampton when we encountered Force 10 gusting to Force 12 and 7 to 8 m swells. The passengers were the usual mix of P&O , generally friendly, a few moaners, lots of walking sticks and mobility scooters but OK in the main. Embarkation and Disembarkation were excellent, we were off by 08.45am and home to West Kent by 11.30am. Overall an enjoyable cruise. Well done the crew of Aurora. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
A Dirty and tired ship . Most of the staff are friendly and very helpful a few rude staff on reception . Hygiene on board is very bad . Hand washing is not actively promoted or enforced in public areas Entertainment was laughable ... Read More
A Dirty and tired ship . Most of the staff are friendly and very helpful a few rude staff on reception . Hygiene on board is very bad . Hand washing is not actively promoted or enforced in public areas Entertainment was laughable very poor ! The food was plentiful but average to poor quality very little choice for special diets . Indian style food far too often ,most of the desserts contain animal derived gelatins seats in the self service buffet are stained With early departures 16.30 at ports of call you really cannot enjoy a good full day on shore . Be prepared to walk to get to the towns shuttles are not provided everywhere as promoted. The cabins are dark dusty and dingy the carpets in them were stained and dirty the showers dribble from hot to cold . Excursions are expensive and not always available if there is not enough uptake and so are canceled frequently.The spa is expensive for very poor quality treatments ! A cruise is what you make it however if you value cleanliness and quality this ship is not for you. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
25 days Southampton to Caribbean and back Embarkation worked well came from home on Eavesway Travel on the ship inside 1/2 hour of arriving. Aurora is one of the older style ships and suits us looking a little worn here and there but ... Read More
25 days Southampton to Caribbean and back Embarkation worked well came from home on Eavesway Travel on the ship inside 1/2 hour of arriving. Aurora is one of the older style ships and suits us looking a little worn here and there but nothing major and doesn't detract from her. Cabin C190 balcony plenty big enough for the 2 of us clean and bright, plenty of closet/drawer space. Be aware the beds are lower than normally found, only 7" of clearance. Bath and shower in this cabin. I couldn't stretch out in the bath 6 ft tall but was adequate, plenty of shelving behind the mirror. Balcony is enclosed so does stop some of the breeze when travelling, 2 reclining chairs footstool and table personally we could have done without the footstool to give a little more space.The TV is not really up to scratch little choice of channels though the films were ok. The bridge computer isn't that good on the TV and you can't get a balance on the screen not hooked up, but I believe this is to be updated. We had club dining and had excellent service all week, food was good and varied enough for us no need to have the same meal twice if you didn't wish. Possibly overall the best food we have had on P&O. Buffet was adequate never had to scrum for a table and always a good choice of food available usually hottish. Grab and go is useful if you want to eat at your sunbed or cabin though is repetitive, didn't try the burgers or hotdogs as I don't like them from under a heated counter always seem to dry. pasta was ok and chips were good. didn't use select dining as we were happy with the MDR and the people we dined with. All the entertainers were very good Rouge Duo and William Caulfield were exceptional. Willie Thorne gave a good talk as did Ron Gatepain on various sites around the world. Sunbeds were never a problem always seemed to find somewhere to lay my head. Gym was ok never too crowded and enough equipment for most. Service in general was very good in all the bars very little waiting and adequate seating. Reception was very good never a queue always a good sign and dealt with my queries/requests quickly. Ports were all good though Guadeloupe was closed for Easter bad timing or what one of the 3 ports we hadn't visited. We didn't use any of the tours never do always go it alone. All in a great cruise, we have already booked Oceana for next year and wouldn't hesitate to go on Aurora again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
we chose this cruise to the north of Norway to get the best chance to view the northern lights, and we were not disappointed. the night we had at the football field away from any lights was great. we say that the lights were grey until ... Read More
we chose this cruise to the north of Norway to get the best chance to view the northern lights, and we were not disappointed. the night we had at the football field away from any lights was great. we say that the lights were grey until we used the 99 cent delay app on our iphones that brought out spectacular green. and the movement like a harp. super.. the ship being abt 1800 passengers was just the right size. only 2 times the motion of the big waves kept us from walking around. also, there seemed to be more places on this ship to just sit and view of chat. good choices. the ship was 98% brits. few Australians. abt 10 Americans(I was one of them). it was fun; kind of stood out in the4 many trivia contests we went too. what a friendly group of people. all service was top notch; from the cabin to all the waiters. the scenery was always beautiful and worth the trip. another bonus of this trip was seeing the conclusion of the 1200km dogsled race when in Alta. with a crowd of hundreds, lots of music and singing(in Norwegian), and seeing the first 2 come in was really neat. if there is any con to this cruise it would be too many sea days after a while. always things to do, but just a feeling. and not too much wildlife seen(but we should not have been surprised). would we recommend? If you haven't seen the northern lights, a definite yes. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Our 14th Cruise with P&O and 4th on Aurora. We chose this cruise as seeing the Northern Lights has always been on our bucket list. We weren’t disappointed! As with all previous Cruises on Aurora, food and service in the Medina ... Read More
Our 14th Cruise with P&O and 4th on Aurora. We chose this cruise as seeing the Northern Lights has always been on our bucket list. We weren’t disappointed! As with all previous Cruises on Aurora, food and service in the Medina restaurant (freedom dining) was superb throughout. The only (minor) criticism would be the portion sizes of vegetables, which were far too small in relation to the main dish. We had one meal in the Beach House (average) and several lunches in the Glasshouse (very good). We didn’t use Sindhu as it isn’t up to the standard of the excellent versions on Britannia and Ventura, not least because it lacks ambiance and is noisy being in the atrium. Entertainment, as on all P&O cruises, was mixed. The Headliners troupe was far better than the team we had on board Aurora in October. At least this lot could sing! We always enjoy performances from Caravan and this was no exception, other than two of their performances were somewhat spoiled by irresponsible parents allowing toddlers to run around between the audience and the performers, which was incredibly distracting for both and terribly discourteous. None of the guest singers were particularly impressive. Peter Haworth was average but really fancied himself and we left early as a group of passengers arrived late and then proceeded to talk through the performance (a persistent problem we find). The Brit Tones (4 piece male vocalists) were dire. One of them has a comically low voice and the chatter between songs was far too long and frankly juvenile. Georgina Jackson had a reasonable voice but ruined her act by unnecessarily playing the (shrill) trumpet. Craig Halliday (violinist) was the best performer by a mile. Several classes above the usual standard of P&O entertainment. All performers were let down by the Aurora Orchestra whose backing arrangements were rather odd and, at times, a distraction. Another good artist was Flamenco guitarist Adam Westcott. Really nice guy and incredibly talented but we went to all 5 of his shows and there was far too much repetition. The main guest speaker was Bob Turner who, in spite of sounding like Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses, gave some very interesting talks. He did, however, make the schoolboy error of having his entire script on the (very word heavy) PowerPoint slides, which made them impenetrable. We did a few tours. Leisurely Alta was pleasant and informative. I really enjoyed Snowmobiling but all my outer clothes stank of exhaust fumes for days afterwards. The ice hotel was interesting but no way would I sleep there. Not only is it cold, it has no toilets inside, mattresses felt cold and damp and the pelts made the place smell like the house of someone who owns big dogs. I did the ‘In Search of the Northern Lights’ tour on the first night in Alta. We only went 10 minutes away as that was where the best viewing was predicted and we had a superb view of them, the strongest being once again between 10 and 11pm. My wife stayed on the ship and although had a good view of them, the light pollution from the ship made them significantly less impressive. We had seen them two nights earlier whilst at sea (although not terribly strong) and a fantastic display, again between around 10 and 11pm at Tromso the day before. Sadly, cloud coverage meant that the 2nd night in Alta didn’t produce anything. The Scenic Rauma Railway journey from Andalsnes was pretty, but only 45 minutes long. The views from the coach on the return were just as impressive. For those who do not do tours, be aware that there is very little to do in Alta or Andalsnes. Tromso is bigger and several passengers felt that longer there and less time in Alta would have been better, especially as we had a fantastic showing of the Northern Lights in Tromso between around 10 and 11pm. As might be expected going into the Arctic Circle in March, we had some ‘interesting’ weather conditions. Force 4 to 6 was the norm whilst at sea, but we reached force 10 on the way out and force 10 to 11 on the return. Force 11 is described as ‘exceptionally rough seas’ and is one below a hurricane. We felt absolutely fine thanks to Stugeron, but a number of passengers were a bit off colour. As for outside air temperatures, there was a lot of exaggeration about this. People kept quoting things like -15 degrees but the coldest we experienced was -8 degrees, although it feels much colder when stood on snow in a field or with the wind at sea. The cold weather did cause problems with the ships lifts. 3 of the 7 forward and midships lifts were out of action for 3 days as a result, which was a problem for us as my wife uses a wheelchair. Final words of advice for anyone doing a Northern Lights Cruise. Take Stugeron for the rough seas and plenty of layers of clothing for the cold. You can see the Northern Lights from the ship but don’t let anyone convince you that it’s not worth doing a tour. Light pollution from the ship is excessive. They make no effort to dim deck lighting. My wife and I saw the same ‘display’ at the same time in Alta. My wife was on the ship and I was 10 minutes away in a dark field. My experience was much better. Perseverance pays. Some passengers who insisted on seeing all the shows and popping their head out occasionally missed the best displays. When the lights appear, although impressive they are mostly white. You do see green and, at times, red hues but the camera does lie when it comes to the Northern Lights as it massively exaggerates the colour. All photos come out very bright green as the camera lens sees the colour far better than the human eye. They look nothing like that in reality. If the lights appear, keep your eyes on whichever part is brightest. It is these parts that tend to evolve into the movement (dancing) that people refer to. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted the chance to see the Northern Light. As it was also our first cruise we were unsure what to expect or how we would cope with the lifestyle. Fortunately, we loved it! The whole experience of cruising ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted the chance to see the Northern Light. As it was also our first cruise we were unsure what to expect or how we would cope with the lifestyle. Fortunately, we loved it! The whole experience of cruising was so relaxing and enjoyable. Being able to choose what we did and where we went in our own time was something very new to us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The Aurora was one of the smaller ships in the P&O fleet but was beautifully maintained and provided an excellent daily newsletter to keep everyone informed of the daily activities and events. The service on board was first class from our cabin steward to the waiters in the restaurants. Everybody was so polite, helpful and respectful. Nothing was too much trouble. The food was beautifully prepared and presented and always sufficient (even for the biggest appetite). There were plenty of activities for people to take part in, from jigsaw puzzles to fitness classes. The entertainment offered was thoroughly enjoyable and varied from comedy to classical guitarist, from dancing shows to astronomy talks. Our balcony cabin was a very good size with plenty of storage space for all our thermal gear and 'posh clothes'. We were very well looked after by our cabin steward who made sure we received all the necessary information available. Our ports of calls were few but all were enjoyable in their own way. Andasnes, was a small port that offered easy access to the town. A gentle stroll was sufficient to stretch the legs after two days at sea. Tromso offered more as it was a bigger town. The trip to the University Planetarium was certainly the highlight where we we given a talk on the Northern Lights. Tromso Museum and the Cathedral of the Northern Lights (an unusual design) were two further stops on the tour. Alta was our most northern port of call and our coldest and snowiest. A shuttle bus was needed to get into the town where the Arctic Cathedral awaited us. Thid was a peculiar design for a church but the ice sculptures, designed by children, that were on disolay were a lovely surprise. The town was quaint and looked very well kept. Alta is where we went in search of the Northern Lights and we were not disappointed. A coach trip took us 15 minutes from the cruise ship where we were treated to a mesmerising display of dancing lights. From 9:45 until 11:00 we didn't know where to look and where to photograph. The guide told us that in the 10 years that he had been doing this he hadn't seen a better display - how lucky were we! The next night there was thick cloud and no Lights!! We also had a wonderful Husky dog sled ride from Alta. We visited the Holman Husky Centre where we met the dogs and were given a talk in a Sami tent before being taken on an exhilerating 25 minute ride - fantastic. Stavanger was our final port of call. This attractive town had a delightful old part and a more modern area. Lovely lake in the centre of town with plenty of walks. Would we go on that cruise again? No - because we think the Northern Lights experience could not be beaten. We had fantastic views, saw dolphins, a dorsal fin of a whale and a sea eagle - everything we wanted to do. Would we recommend this cruise? Definitely with the warning that you might be in the right place and at the right time to see theNorthern Lights but you cannot guarantee the conditions will be right - we were so lucky! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
Arrived back from the Northern Lights trip on Aurora yesterday with mixed feelings. In general the holiday was very good and whilst I would certainly not criticise any of the staff on board I was disappointed with the ship. I know that ... Read More
Arrived back from the Northern Lights trip on Aurora yesterday with mixed feelings. In general the holiday was very good and whilst I would certainly not criticise any of the staff on board I was disappointed with the ship. I know that many people dislike the big ships, but for a tour like this where the outside decks were not particularly accessible for a lot of the time I found it claustrophobic. We were very relieved to have a balcony cabin. On the 12 night cruise there were several days when the outside decks were closed and even when they weren’t it was so cold and windy that it was quite unpleasant to spend much time outside. This put a lot of pressure on the inside areas. The entertainers were mostly pretty good, although a little predictable. As usual the Headliners put a lot of skill and effort into their performances but I found that the singers were trying too hard to sing loud, and should have focussed more on the tune and let the sound engineers make it louder. The speciality acts were also mostly enjoyable. The comedian early in the trip was funny, but had clearly been around for many years and some found his humour a bit tame. We enjoyed good performances by a singer trumpeter and violin player as well as the Brit Tones, although the latter should restrict the chat a bit. We didn’t get around to seeing the resident group, Caravan, until the last night and I regret that as they were excellent. We were on Freedom dining and had a table for two each night. Even so we met some very nice people on adjoining tables on many of the nights. The staff in the dining rooms were very pleasant and efficient as was our cabin steward. The first three of the four ports of call were all small places. In the first, Andalsnes, we had a trip to a skiing and climbing centre with the obligatory coffee and waffles. It became clear that no matter how bad the snow and cold the natives don’t let it bother them. We tourists were kitted out in our thermals but were met up in the mountains by the owner wearing a blouse and thin cardigan. We were most amused at the start of the trip when we all boarded the coach, only to be dropped off about 100 yards later at the Norwegian Mountaineering Centre. Tromsø was the next place and we just took the shuttle into tow and had a wander around. We had a glimpse of the Northern Lights but at this point I was a little underwhelmed as they just looked like slightly green clouds. The highlight of the trip was Alta where, on the first night, we saw a dazzling display of dancing lights from the ship. The temperature was around minus 17 but the thermals coped pretty well. I managed to get some not-bad pictures using an app on my iPhone but as someone had mentioned you need to spend time watching as well as taking pictures. The last stop was Stavanger where we had been several rimes before, so we decided to redo the Pulpit Rock boat trip. Unfortunately the weather was pretty appalling and we could only just see the rock. During the whole cruise we had about 3 days and nights when the winds got up to force 10/11 (maximum is 12). In spite of that I did not feel at all I’ll, but sleeping was almost impossible. Without wishing to sound like a miserable old git, there were some things that were really disappointing. Whilst almost all the people we met were very friendly I was disgusted at the manners of some. 2 young people from the photography department gave a talk about snapping the Northern Lights. They were clearly a bit nervous but during a q&a session lots of people started leaving the theatre and it made it impossible to hear the questions and answers. As usual, it was the same after every show. I wonder what these people do that is so exiting it can’t wait a few minutes. I found the choice of guest speaker disappointing. Whilst probably very popular with people interested in the astronomical world, I found it rather dull. I expected that there may have been an alternative later in the cruise but he was the only one. The last complaint applies to most cruise ships and I’m thinking of starting a support group for people affected. Why on earth do cruise companies think that someone spending between £2000 and £10,000 want to steal some second hand coat hangers. I think we should all boycott ships that don’t have hangers with hooks !!! Seriously though, whilst I probably wouldn’t do a Winter trip to Norway again, and definitely wouldn’t go on Aurora, I’m glad I went and on the whole enjoyed the experience Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
My wife and I just completed the "Norwegian Lights" cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was a bucket list cruise getting into the Arctic Circle and seeing the northern lights whilst in port of Alta. This is our 6th P&O ... Read More
My wife and I just completed the "Norwegian Lights" cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was a bucket list cruise getting into the Arctic Circle and seeing the northern lights whilst in port of Alta. This is our 6th P&O UK cruise and some things have changed that made it a lesser experience. Firstly P&O UK now charge for room service (except the limited breakfast menu). When I queried this I was told that they are just bringing room service in line with hotels to which I replied "but you normally don't prepay for meals at a hotel". Secondly P&O UK have now taken internet charging to a new level so much so that we just didn't bother with it for the first time ever. Thirdly freedom dining is anything but if you want a table for 2 then expect a wait time of 30-45 minutes! Our balcony cabin was on the Lido deck which was great for access to the Horizon buffet and Crow's Nest. The ship is looking a bit tired but I'm told it is going to a refit in Jan 2019. I have thrown out TV's better than the one that was in the cabin. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We like the Aurora for longer journeys having been on a world cruise on this ship. However were very disappointed with the entertainment on this South America Voyage. The majority of the acts - some good - were in the same vein ie songs ... Read More
We like the Aurora for longer journeys having been on a world cruise on this ship. However were very disappointed with the entertainment on this South America Voyage. The majority of the acts - some good - were in the same vein ie songs from the shows. We appreciate that it may be difficult and expensive to fly multiple acts long distances but perhaps P and O should take this into account when preparing these itineraries. The sailaways were poor - on one occasion the Ent. Manager was “shouting” to another ship! The Headliners shows were somewhat disappointing, most of which we has seen performed by other companies to a much better standard. Also the food is not up to past standard. The meals in the Sindhu and Glass House were very good. The staff are as always polite and always willing to help. Overall experience was average, we feel P and O need to take a better look at their clientele on these type of cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We were on Aurora's Grand Voyage in 2015 when we went round South America to Australia and back. The bits we missed on that trip we enjoyed doing on this one. Captain Pembridge who joined in Rio from his usual ship Britannia is ... Read More
We were on Aurora's Grand Voyage in 2015 when we went round South America to Australia and back. The bits we missed on that trip we enjoyed doing on this one. Captain Pembridge who joined in Rio from his usual ship Britannia is obviously a guy on the top of his game. We travelled with him on Aurora back in 2009 and were impressed then. When he joined we were confident that we’d have a good cruise. The highlights included getting into the Falklands where we had a great day with the quirky locals. It was obviously important that we got in as so many passengers wanted to visit the graves of friends and family. It was rather poignant. Going round Cape Horn three times in the sunshine was an unexpected treat and the Beagle Channel was seriously undersold by P&O. It was absolutely breath-taking. The scenery was a cross between the Norwegian fjords and Alaska – with huge snow blown mountains as a backdrop. Truly magnificent. We had first class commentators and wild life experts throughout the voyage. Maybe the only thing missing was a map of the complicated route we sailed through Patagonia. For us personally the best experience was our overland to Machu Picchu. It was four hard days but, as it was 1st class throughout it was absolutely memorable. The Monasteria hotel in Cusco was superb, as was the IncaRail dining train, and the guides were very good indeed. Our ‘bus’ had a reunion in the Beach House back aboard some weeks later and we were all still full of the tour. It’s too easy to get blasé about cruising but everywhere we went was bang on. It’s the first cruise we’ve been on where we not only got into all the ports but actually had an extra one – well, a second day in Martinique. That said 6 ports in 7 days on the trot in the Caribbean was a bit busy. However, if we had just done a couple and rushed home we’d have arrived smack in the middle of the bad weather in the UK so it was all for the best. The extras that made the cruise feel like a mini-world cruise we much appreciated. The Half Way Round and Farewell parties were exceedingly generous in terms of refreshments and very good at getting the passengers mixing well. They worked. Our address list is a mile long – and we already knew lots of the passengers from past cruises. The Ligurian 'Afternoon Tea' event at Sunbury Plantation House on Barbados was a very pleasant surprise - mainly because there was very little tea and copious amounts of champagne! We thoroughly enjoyed it (maybe because we were near where the food and drink came from!). Again, something P&O didn't have to do but which added to our enjoyment of the cruise. The entertainment was very well balanced for us. Mac Frampton and Graffiti Classics both stood out but we enjoyed everything we went to (even The Totties!) – and we also enjoyed a good few evenings off when there was nothing on that we fancied. Jon Bartram led a good team with his own style of energetic sailaways; he even managed to involve a surprising number of British on a neighbouring Royal Caribbean ship which all added to the fun. The quizzes never stopped and the only criticism we would level is that the live music in Champions preceding the quizzes was always far too loud. Teams had to get there early to get a seat and then we had to sit silently as talk was impossible. One for P&O to look at I think. A pity, too, that the standard of the food on the second half of the cruise was unusually average. Spaghetti bolognaise with Broccoli and Rosti potatoes? I don't think so. 65 nights is hard to summarise and I am conscious we’ve missed out mentioning all the lovely bar and restaurant staff whose company we enjoyed throughout the ship. Many passengers don’t deserve such a good and committed team. That said, there was much less of the all-to-common 'P&O moaning' than we’ve experienced in the past and I’m glad to say that when one couple of passengers unjustifiably let fly at the gangway staff on one occasion, everyone in the queue told them to shut up and behave! A ray of sunshine! If, like us, you like a long, non-sectorised cruise to get away from the British winter, these cruises are both excellent value and give you a chance to see distant parts of the world. I only wish that P&O would head out East again on a no-fly cruise one winter. It seems a long time since Adonia did it in 2014 Read Less
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
5 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 ... 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
3 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
6 Helpful Votes
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
1 Helpful Vote
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
4 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Aurora Cruise R718 to Zeebrugge (Didn’t dock!). Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd October 2017. DAY 1 - Friday 20th October- Southampton Our first experience of a 2 night cruise and back-to-back cruise all in one (although I am doing ... Read More
Aurora Cruise R718 to Zeebrugge (Didn’t dock!). Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd October 2017. DAY 1 - Friday 20th October- Southampton Our first experience of a 2 night cruise and back-to-back cruise all in one (although I am doing separate reviews for each). The 2 night taster cruise to Zeebrugge didn’t start well, as CPS car drop off was, for the first time, poor. The normal arrangement for a 2 day cruise is for passengers to self park in the short stay car park, but I had called CPS many weeks before and they had linked our two cruise bookings, telling me that I could ignore the self parking option and should pull up at the terminal to be valet parked as normal. I had called CPS again the day before the cruise to confirm and was, once again, told this would be no issue and CPS staff would be available at the terminal. As we arrived at the terminal, we first had a battle with the traffic marshal’s, who seemed incapable of understanding what we had arranged (and were quite offhand) and then, as we arrived outside the Mayflower cruise terminal, there wasn’t a CPS operative in sight. After a phone call to CPS (when I was kept on hold for 10 minutes) and a further wait, two CPS staff members eventually arrived. During the time that we were waiting I noticed that the porters were just standing idle alongside the building waiting for passengers to take their cases to them. Even though I had two large cases, a carry case, a wheelchair and my wife to attend to, no effort whatsoever was made to assist. When I asked an idle porter whether or not there was porter service today, he replied “No, there never is”. Perhaps he meant on 2 day cruises, but this attitude was shocking none the less. Thankfully, as we entered the terminal building, first class service immediately took over. We reported to assisted embarkation and didn’t even have to take a seat, as we were escorted straight to check-in and were through security and on board within around 10 minutes. A record for us. Due to high winds when Aurora had docked, the air bridge wasn’t attached, so we had to board up a steep ramp from the dockside. Thankfully we were assisted by two pushers for this bit. Even though we had an embarkation time of 1430, we were in our cabin by 1310 with both cases already present. Very impressed. We were staying in C152 (Accessible Balcony) which was the same cabin that we had stayed in for our 16 night Baltic cruise in May. We instantly noticed an issue with the bed, in that one half was higher than the other! Also, the previous occupants had stupidly left the safe locked, rather than open as instructed. We could not find our steward, so unpacked and stowed the suitcases under the bed. More than an hour later, we eventually found our steward (Lawrence) who told us that the previous occupant had hired a Mobility at Sea special bed and that the normal bed had not returned as planned. He said he would sort it out and called the deck manager to unlock the safe. Next stop the Glass House, where we each traded our Peninsular Club vouchers for a freebie glass of champagne. The staff have all changed since our May cruise, but were just as friendly. We also noticed that food was available during the afternoon, even though it was a changeover day. We had already had an early lunch at Maritimo Lounge in Ocean Village, but will keep this in mind for changeover day on Sunday as we are staying on board. Then to Anderson’s for the muster drill. When we returned our life jackets to the cabin we were impressed to find that the bed had already been changed and was now level! Up to the Crows Nest for a sailway drink and observation as we pulled forward off the berth, turned (as the ship had docked facing inland) and cruised out past the Isle of Wight. Horns were honked between us and Azura as we passed her. Azura is delaying its departure by 24 hours due to former hurricane (now storm) ‘Brian’ which is due to engulf the English Channel tomorrow. As we are heading North, we are departing as normal, although we will have to come back through the remnants of it. During out time in the Crows Nest we were joined by a lovely couple who lived on The Isle of Wight, so were able to have a good chat about the island. We weren’t overly fussed about the main dining room menu, so tried to get into Sindhu, which although only had about 4 couples in it was apparently full! We ended up in the Beach House where the manager recognised us from May. We experienced exemplary service but my beef sizzling platter wasn’t as tasty as before and none of the deserts appealed, so I just had Eton Mess ice cream, which was very nice. We didn’t fancy the Headliners show (Fantasy) as we had seen it in May and didn’t rate it, so we went to Carmen’s for a Showaddywaddy tribute band called Shomaddymaddy. Pure cheese, but we actually quite enjoyed it as the music was good, even though we couldn’t see the band once the dance floor had filled with people dancing! Our final port of call was a repeat visit to the Crows Nest, as the male members of the Aurora Orchestra were performing. However, they were playing jazz, which is about the only style of music that I intensely dislike, so we retired to bed, although I first popped out to the Horizon buffet for a Horlicks nightcap. DAY 2 - Saturday 21st October- At Sea (Zeebrugge cancelled) Although we had heard a lot of people talking very loudly as they passed our cabin late at night, we both managed to sleep well, probably assisted by the combination of alcohol, Stugeron and rocking motion! At 0745 (0645 UK time) we were woken by Captain Turnbull making an announcement that, due to high winds, we were unable to dock at Zeebrugge and would have a day at sea as he had not been able to find a substitute port. Although quite understandable, it’s a shame for those who had booked the cruise specifically to go to Bruges, not least as there are no other stops and this is now a cruise to nowhere! We both commented on how professional and comprehensive his announcement was e.g “the safety of the vessel and all those aboard is, and always will be, my first priority”. We had a leisurely breakfast in the Medina restaurant where the waiter remembered us from our last cruise. During the morning, we cruised up past the Thames Estuary (passing wind farms and gas platforms) into the North Sea, prior to turning around 180 degrees off Lowestoft and heading back towards Southampton - and storm Brian! Lunch in the Medina prior to popping our head into Carmen’s for a singer , Sadie Ebbon, whose 11.15pm show had been brought forward to 2pm due to the unplanned sea day. We stayed for a few songs but weren’t really getting in to it, so we left and went to Anderson’s for a quiet read. By now there were a few more white peaks on the waves and more noticeable movement. We have noticed how busy the ship feels compared to our last cruise on Aurora, which is not helped by everyone having to stay on board and it being autumn, so few people are on the open decks. Although the P&O blurb talks about this being a ‘Discovery Cruise’, the staff on board refer to it as a ‘Party Cruise’ and you can see why. Lots of large groups including quite a few hen parties. We assume that, to keep costs down, they might be sharing 4 adults to a cabin, which also explains the relatively high passenger density. As the ship was busy, we returned to our cabin for a rest and to read. The wind was now force 9 with gusts up to force 11. The balcony divider door is rattling loudly and our patio door out to the balcony is draughty and doesn’t keep out the noise of the wind. We ordered a cream tea from the new room service menu. This took around an hour to arrive. Our steward is pleased that we are staying on board. He explained that on changeover days he works almost all day and evening and has just 90 minutes off during which time he has to rest, eat and call home. The band ‘Caravan’ are on board again, so we decided to go to the 7.30pm Bee Gee’s Tribute show which we had very much enjoyed when we were last on Aurora in May. There was no member of the entertainment team present to provide the commentary between each song and the lead singer attempted to do it but really struggled due to his strong Philippine accent. Thankfully the songs were still good. We decided to have dinner late, so hot footed from Carmen’s to the other end of the ship to the Curzon Theatre for the early (8.30pm) show of a Madness tribute band called Badness. They were the same group that had performed the Showaddywaddy tribute and we enjoyed this performance as much, especially as they didn’t just sing Madness songs but also other Ska groups such as The Specials and Bad Manners. We left before the end as it was 15 minutes before the Medina restaurant closed to new arrivals, so we hope that the show is repeated on our follow on cruise. Dinner in the Medina restaurant was the Marco Pierre White menu, as it was the Black Tie night. Other than the Beef Wellington, I didn’t particularly enjoy the other courses (other than the delicious port infused Stilton to finish) so may dip into the non-Marco choices next time that menu appears. As we had finished dinner very late and the ship was being buffeted by Storm Brian now that we were in it’s path in the English Channel, we retired to our cabin. It was difficult to get to sleep due to the fact that the ceiling of the cabin above the bathroom door was creaking and banging as the ship was being thrown around by the storm. That said, we didn’t feel sick at all and obviously slept well when we eventually got to sleep as we didn’t awake until we were alongside in Southampton. As we were doing our first back to back cruise, there are no disembarkation comments to make and anything beyond this point will feature in the next review. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Our friends had been trying to persuade us we would love cruising for many years, so this year we decided to give it a try. We chose the canary cruise as it fitted in well with school holidays. We have a 10 year old boy and also travelled ... Read More
Our friends had been trying to persuade us we would love cruising for many years, so this year we decided to give it a try. We chose the canary cruise as it fitted in well with school holidays. We have a 10 year old boy and also travelled with friends and their 10 year old. The night before, we stayed at the Southampton Central travel lodge. This was clean and comfortable. Parking was limited, but we were able to pull up outside and drop off/pick up luggage, and there was plenty of parking a short distance away. The hotel was well situated, near to the shopping centre where there was a great selection of restaurants and bars. The embarkation process was great. We arrived 30 minutes early, handed over our car and were processed straight onto the ship. I don't know if they were using more than one entrance, but we did notice later that lots of families had had their photos taken on boarding the ship; we never had that option. Once on board, we did feel that we were not given much information about the sequence of events. We were anticipating a mandatory safety drill (which happened efficiently) and were looking forward to the 'sailaway'. Unfortunately we missed this as there were no announcements made. Our cabin was great - very clean, reasonably spacious and very comfortable. Our steward was efficient and very unobtrusive - our son had a sofa bed, which he said was more comfortable than his bed at home, and this was cleared away in a morning whilst we were at breakfast and set up again in the evening whilst we were at dinner. The toilet blocked a couple of times, but a quick phone call to reception and the problem was sorted very quickly, from outside the cabin. The food was amazing! We had breakfast and lunch in the Horizon self service restaurant, where there was a good choice of hot & cold dishes. Although it was school holidays and the cruise was fully booked, we never had any problems in getting a table or having to queue for food. The staff were very efficient at clearing the tables and keeping everything scrupulously clean. We had afternoon tea twice, once in the Medina restaurant and once in the buffet. The tea was nicer in the restaurant, but I preferred the flexibility of the buffet where you could choose the exact cake you wanted without feeling you might be depriving someone else on your table. I am sure, however, that if we had requested extra cakes it would not have been a problem. We were on freedom dining and always dined in the Medina. The food was fantastic - always lots of choice and the waiters were friendly. On a couple of occasions we praised a particular dessert and they brought us a second helping! Our son is a fussy eater, but even he managed to find lots of things he liked from the children's menu, and the staff were great at bringing the kids meals out quickly so they could go to kids club and we could continue our meal at a more leisurely pace. There was also a fantastic buffet at 10;30 pm, but sadly we were usually too full to manage any. We went to a few shows - one based around 70's hits, a Queen tribute and an Adele tribute. They were fantastic. I would advise arriving in plenty of time if you are in a group and want to sit together. We felt the family bingo was a bit lacklustre, and the prizes were a bit naff, but the normal bingo was great fun. Our son and his friend adored the kids club. They were given an itinery at the beginning of the cruise so they could select what they wanted to go to and they wanted to go to everything!! The premises looked a bit sparse for their age group, so we were a bit wary, but they obviously kept them well entertained. Our son is not very sporty, so we were surprised that he often chose to participate in the football coaching, but they really boosted his confidence which was lovely. We didn't really do many excursions as we thought the boys would prefer to be on ship, but we walked along the front in Madeira to the cable car which we all enjoyed, although the toboggans were closed. We also did a paid excursion in Lisbon, going on an amphibious vehicle which meant we could see all the sights without the children moaning that they didn't want to walk and they enjoyed the river part too. It was well worth the money and next time we will probably book more excursions. The only minor criticism of the whole cruise was that every talk seemed geared up at trying to make you spend more money. My friend and I went to a pamper party on day 2, which was one sales pitch after another and I had a manicure which was excellent but spoiled by the pressure I felt to book another treatment. I was also a little concerned about treatments which were being advocated to treat health conditions, as I felt that people could be misled and some of the claims sounded rather spurious (I am a doctor myself). Overall, we all agreed that it was the best holiday we had ever had - so much so that both families have booked another cruise for next year. Unfortunately, one of our cases went missing at Southampton. No one seemed particularly concerned to help us, or the other handful of families who seemed to have befallen a similar fate. Eventually, we had to fill in a lost baggage claim and are still waiting to find out if it will be returned to us. On the plus side, I have not had to do much washing!!! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We don't cruise every year but we were in need of a holiday and a cruise is usually a great treat. We spent time in Southampton with family the day before but had to wait to board til 2.30pm. Boarding was very quick and efficient. ... Read More
We don't cruise every year but we were in need of a holiday and a cruise is usually a great treat. We spent time in Southampton with family the day before but had to wait to board til 2.30pm. Boarding was very quick and efficient. Food was available at the Lido deck but we were a bit late and had to make do with a tiny salad until our dinner at 8.30pm. We really should have gone to self serve as it was late for us to eat and although we sat at the table promptly it was nearly 9.30 before we got our meal. I don't count the mushroom starter which was awful! The meal had lightly warmed up new potatoes and a grey looking fish. I complained and perhaps this helped us to get a nice table at 6.30 for the rest of the cruise. Mealtimes were enjoyable because of the company and the attentiveness of the waiters but food was generally disappointing. Often it was lacking in taste. A steak was tough, a waldorf salad was lacking in celery or walnuts- you needed a magnifying glass to find any trace. The Greek salad had no feta cheese and the bread was usually doughy. The bread was exceptionally nice once and I remember about 4 really nice meals out of 11 days. My husband a chocoholic complained to me that the chocolate had little taste. The chocolate brownie did though to be fair. Salads in the self service were watery and again very little taste. Our cabin with balcony was lovely and near to the laundry for washing or ironing. We like dancing but all the lessons during the day were for beginners. The ballroom at night was very quiet maybe because it was school holidays and a lot of families were on board.The shows were quite good- what you would expect on a cruise and the acts they brought on board were good too. We got bored with the disco as the DJ seemed stuck in a rut- so much good music to play and he kept going back to Tamla and baggy trousers! We shared in a couple of quizes but not many activities to suit us. The last two nights there was so little choice, we both read our books and had early nights. We are used to finding our own way at ports of call and when we discussed our days at dinner with other guests, we often found that we had a better and more interesting day than those who had done the excursions! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our first time cruising and we are glad that we chose P & O's Aurora to celebrate our special anniversary year. From check-in to disembarkation, the whole P&O experience was extremely smooth and efficient. We ... Read More
This was our first time cruising and we are glad that we chose P & O's Aurora to celebrate our special anniversary year. From check-in to disembarkation, the whole P&O experience was extremely smooth and efficient. We chose CPS parking to leave our car with, and felt like VIPs when we arrived as they unloaded our cases and took our car away. Having been quite independent travellers having to encounter airports over the past few years, we found the whole having your bags efficiently delivered to your cabin for you quite a wonder. Disembarkation was equally as efficient thanks to both P&O and CPS's services, with our bags delivered outside and our car ready and only a short walk away. Aurora is a traditional mid-size ship with plenty going on, but not so large that you get lost or feel intimidated by too many fellow passengers. The public areas are all very smart and clean and we particularly liked the ‘Crow’s Nest’ bar overlooking the front of the ship. We mainly picked this cruise because of the itinerary (including Venice and Dubrovnik), but we also enjoyed the relaxed sea days between days in port. We had fantastic weather, so spent many an hour sunbathing by one of the three pools or dolphin watching. There were plenty of sun-beds and chairs on deck, so didn't ever encounter any arguments over people marking their favourite spot with towels. The only negative about the Aurora was the onboard gym which was quite small with limited equipment. Even though we are gym bunnies in our home life, the lack of equipment and efficient air-con gave us a good excuse to take a break from the gym and walk the lovely prom deck instead which was much more fun. The food and service on Aurora was excellent. We were on Freedom Dining and never encountered getting a table at the time we wanted to dine (which was generally quite early) whether we wanted to share or have a table for two. We generally ate in the Medina restaurant for breakfast and dinner, as we felt we would be less likely to overeat when the food is served to us. Both the food and service were excellent here - we especially enjoyed the Beef Wellington which was served on one of the Marco Pierre White Gala dinner nights. Also enjoyed occasionally visiting the Medina for afternoon tea as the scones were beautifully warm and fresh. The MaitreD' and all the staff were friendly, polite and efficient, as were all the staff onboard who would always give you a friendly 'hello' when you passed them. The Horizons buffet was also pretty good - the hot meals were generally quite traditionally British such as a daily roast dinner (possibly to please the older crowd), so we generally opted for the salads and cold meats and fish which were all good, as were the yummy desserts. We also tried the speciality restaurants 'Sindhu' and 'The Beach House', the former being excellent but the latter not so (just bigger portions of American style food). There was plenty to do on the ship, especially on sea days, and everything going on was outlined in the daily 'Horizons' pamphlet. We particularly liked the quizzes and destination talks by Sam, but there was also activities such as deck quoits, shuffle board, water colour painting etc etc for those interested. There were clubs for the children, so despite it being the school holidays it never felt that there were too many kids running around. In fact, the children were generally better behaved than some of the old people on board (some of whom, who had perhaps been on too many cruises in their time, were a bit moany!!!). There was generally quite a mixed demographic on board, but more elderly cruisers than I expected with it being school holidays. We noted that the service and facilities offered to disabled guests appeared to be excellent, even though we didn't require this ourselves. On port days, we did an equal mix of organised excursions and our own thing. The tours we picked were all excellent and efficiently organised, the only drawback being the whistle-stop nature of our visits due to the time constraints. We did the 'Classic Mount Etna' on Sicily, 'Venetian Islands and Gondola Ride' in Venice and the wine tasting trip in Sardinia and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. We also noted that P&Os organisation of tenders and shuttle buses was good, the only niggle being our return from Dubrovnik when we had to queue for a while as it was busy and the coaches were having trouble getting in. We loved the way that P&O thoughtfully provided cold water to guests returning to the ship, as it had reached over 35 degrees on some of our port days. Some of the evening entertainment including the resident 'Headliners' was a bit cheesy, but good fun. We particularly liked the 'Destination Dance' and 'New Romantics' evenings which took us back a bit. The highlight was an excellent soul/Motown group called 'The Flyrights' who had the audience up on their feet. Everything was very much geared towards a British audience, from tea and biscuits in the cabin to the 'We'll meet again' show on the last night. I would imagine that non Brits might be a bit bemused by it all! Being first time cruisers, we may be a little starry eyed about everything P&O and Aurora had to offer, but we thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise. So much so that we have already booked for next year! 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 3.4
Family 5.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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