Aurora Cruise Review by AdeAfloat
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: South America
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
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