Our 10th cruise with P&O but our first on Aurora. Having experienced poor service on a 4 day cruise on Ventura a few months earlier, we were concerned that P&O standards were falling, but our confidence was restored with this cruise.
Aurora is a lovely ship. She has all the essential attributes including a wide, full circuit, level (no steps) promenade deck, a Crows Nest and a beautiful design (particularly the tiered stern). Being a small ship (by today's standards) she is easy to get around.
We cruised out of the school holiday season so the profile was over 80% retired, which suited us even though we aren't retired, as the passengers were lovely and through Freedom Dining we met a lot of very interesting people who we chatted to around the ship or in ports. The ship had a real 'community' feel.
We consider ourselves to be 'foodies' and were concerned at the number of negative comments and reviews regarding the food in the main dining rooms that we had read prior to our cruise. We dined in the Medina Restaurant and can honestly say that the food (quality and choice) was excellent throughout and the service was superb. We had different waiters most days and every single one, bar none, was First Class. The Glass House was fantastic (food and service) but hardly used. The Beach House was lovely but the new menu isn't as good as the one it has replaced. Sindhu on Aurora is poor compared to the version we have experienced on Britannia and Ventura. It is basically an extension of the coffee shop (so very noisy) and, again, the new menu isn't as good as the previous menu. It's a shame that Aurora doesn't have an Epicurean restaurant, as the version on Britannia is our favourite restaurant at sea.
Entertainment was mixed. The Headliners Theatre Company was the weakest we have seen. They were good dancers but poor singers. Pianist and singer David Mairs was also poor and could murder some great songs. However, Harmony Duo (classical violinist and pianist), Clare Bonsu (singer), Caravan (particularly Bee Gees tribute) and speaker Diane Simpson were all fantastic. There was very little to do during the day.
Our cabin (Accessible Balcony) was very good but, as with all cabins, sound insulation was poor between adjoining cabins. We could hear the TV of the cabin one side and our neighbour the other side woke us up between 5.30 and 6.30am every single morning with a sneezing fit. He made no attempt to stifle the noise so we had no need for an alarm clock. Joking aside, it was infuriating. The TV's on Aurora are pathetic. They are too small to watch, picture quality is poor, reception patchy, sound crackly and no interactive features whatsoever. Having enjoyed the superb versions on Britannia (large screen, HD quality, fully interactive etc), this was going back 30 years.
The atrium on decks 6,7 and 8 is narrow and causes bottlenecks. The shops are also tiny. The ship does present some challenges for those in wheelchairs. The Curzon Theatre and Playhouse are poorly designed as there are only a couple of seats where wheelchair users can sit alongside their companion and other less disabled passengers tend to sit in them as they are the only ones that don't involve a step. You cannot get from front to midships on deck 8 in a wheelchair as there are steps. There are 6 doors out to the promenade, but none are automated (there is one automated door out to deck 13). There is an automated door from Champions to the promenade, but it has a heavy solid conventional door behind it (and a No Entry sign!) which renders it useless.
In spite of the limitations and shortcomings (no ship is perfect after all), this was our best cruise to date. Aurora is a lovely ship. We experienced friendly and efficient service throughout. The itinerary (Baltics) was superb. We felt no movement at all (although seas were flat calm throughout). The passenger mix was lovely. Food and service in the main restaurant was faultless. This was cruising as it should be.
Great for a wheelchair user. You can get the wheelchair into the accessible bathroom (wet room). The automated doors are useful, but take far too long to close. You end up waiting in the corridor for them to close and when you enter the cabin you are on show to passers by for a while.
Hamburg tour wasn't great, nor was the city. Travemunde, however, is a lovely little town and worth a visit on its own. Explore Independently.View All 1 Hamburg Reviews
The ship docks next to the historic city. No need for a tour here.
The ship docked quite a way from the city centre so the transfer was a good 30 minutes. There was a major football match on so the city was full of thousands of supporters who were quite rowdy.