Jump to content
Legal Stylist

My All Things Aurora and First Time P&O Thread!

Recommended Posts

Hi all!

 

I've come back to Cruise Critic once again to benefit from your experiences and general knowledge.  My husband and I have only ever cruised once on MSC Prescioza, which neither of us liked.  We found it too crowded, and the entertainment fell a bit flat for us. Plus the announcements in what felt like 40 different languages came to grate on my nerves. But, we cruised the Nile summer 2018 and both loved it, so resolved to give cruising another chance.

 

We've booked onto Aurora for her 13 May Baltic Cruise for 14 nights.  And, I suppose, am starting to be a tad nervous about the trip. We pay our balance on Saturday so wanted to see what information people who have cruised with P&O say.

 

Is Aurora a nice boat? And, is it noticeably smaller than something like the Prescioza?  We always felt crowded and penned in on the MSC boat, and unfortunately the Nile cruise had about 20 passengers on a boat for 200+, so was not a good indicator. 

 

How are the large inside cabins on B deck? Has anyone had one of these before? Am I going to regret not having a window?

 

How is the food?

 

Thank you so much for whatever knowledge you can impart that will put me at ease. I'm sure I'll be back with tons more questions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of people love Aurora and I'm sure you will too - think country house hotel rather than glitzy metropolitan or beach establishment.  She is quite a bit smaller than MSC, but with less passengers and never felt crowded when we were on board last year.

We had an inside cabin on A deck which was plenty big enough for us. We find that a window or balcony is nice to have if the price is right but don't really spend enough time in the cabin to worry about it.

I couldn't fault the food at all in either the main dining room or buffet and the staff were really friendly and attentive throughout.

As for entertainment, I'm not really a fan of the song and dance shows in the main theatre but do generally enjoy the singers, comedians, etc that appear in the show bar aft - I'm sure you'll get many different opinions on this subject.

So please don't worry I'm sure you'll enjoy your cruise, all in all Aurora is a lovely ship.

 

Just one more thing - 'ship' please, not 'boat' (one of my pet hates)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aurora is lovely little ship and never feels particularly crowded, she is small but perfectly formed as they say. The size also means that you tend to meet the same people which makes it feel really friendly.

 

I haven’t been on MSC so can’t compare the food offering. P&O offers a reasonable standard of food in the main dining room. Breakfast offers the range you would typically  find in a UK hotel eg full English, fruit, fruit juices, pastries, cereals, porridge etc and also some daily specials like ledger I or steak and eggs. Lunch has a range of selection from light bites like a hot sandwich to a full 3 course lunch, think a good pub lunch menu. They curry’s are particularly nice. Dinner choices can be a bit pedestrian and traditional in my opinion but you will not starve and the food is pleasant enough eg roasts with gravy, grilled fish, pasta, seafood etc etc. The soups and salads are good, I don’t like the desserts (but I don’t have a sweet tooth). I tend to ask for cheese, the standrard plate is basic but they do have good Stilton if you ask for it.

 

Select dining (extra charge) on P& O is good. If you like curry try Sindu and the tapas in the glass house is excellent.

 

All announcements are in English and on P& O they don’t come on the tannoy every five minutes so it is more peaceful than on other lines we have been on.

 

The inside cabins on Aurora are fine with plenty storage space and a reasonable size bathroom. They are perfectly adequate if you plan to be out and about most of the time and only use the cabin to sleep. We have only ever had inside on a winter cruise to the a Baltic when there was little daylight anyway so it was fine.

 

The Baltic run in May is lovely, really interesting ports of call and on a small ship like Aurora less hassle getting on and off.

 

if you have any other questions folks on here will be happy to assist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People are calling Aurora "small", but that's only because perceptions have shifted with the recent arrival of a generation of mega-ships. She's 80,000 tons and takes 1,800 passengers, IIRC, and that's a pretty fair-sized ship. She is plenty big enough for me, and personally I wouldn't want to go on anything substantially larger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, jh1809 said:

People are calling Aurora "small", but that's only because perceptions have shifted with the recent arrival of a generation of mega-ships. She's 80,000 tons and takes 1,800 passengers, IIRC, and that's a pretty fair-sized ship. She is plenty big enough for me, and personally I wouldn't want to go on anything substantially larger.

 

JH makes a really good point, she is a fair sized ship but just “small’ in comparison to the huge ships which are the new normal for most lines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aurora was the 7th ship I had been on and my favourite!  Was on fjords cruise last summer.  The ship is big enough to find peace and quiet but small enough to meet the same people more than once.  We loved the rear sun decks which are tiered and have lots of corners to sit in; also it was great having sit up deckchairs on the open decks and not just loungers.  Anderson's bar was a favourite for duller days, lovely sitting in big armchairs with a book.   Entertainment was superb - loved the shows and the classical pianist.  If I had to be really nitpicking - the buffet lunches were a bit repetitive, the lowest down anytime dining room doesn't have a bar nearby which is awkward if you are waiting with a pager and it was odd to us not have the main atrium area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

She's like Oriana in size, although I'm sure has differences.  I never felt crowded on Oriana, but I certainly felt very crowded on Azura which has many more pasengers than Aurora. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were on Aurora just before Christmas and had a larger inside cabin on B deck, B114.

The cabin was great, adequately big enough, clean with plenty of storage. The bathroom was dated but fine.

We would have preferred a balcony, but didn't really miss it on a December cruise.

Make sure you check out the balcony at the front of B deck, fantastic spot for sail aways that not many seem to visit, if you like some peace and quiet.

We also had only been on larger ships and were a bit sceptical.

We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of space on a sold out cruise. We never queued for anything, always found a seat for the shows etc and there are plenty of quiet places to relax, our favourite being Andersons for a Hendricks and Fever Tree.

The service was outstanding throughout the ship.

There are still things we prefer about the newer, larger ships like the soundproofing between the rooms, stability, the amazing atriums and quality entertainment, all missing on Aurora, but we still had a fantastic time and are returning in June.

I am sure you will have a great time as it sounds like what you are looking for, Aurora has in abundance.

Enjoy your holiday,

Andy

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did an MSC cruise this year and it was nothing like a P & O cruise. Everything had to be adapted to 7 languages plus the waiters although helpful always ended up serving something completely different to what was ordered especially at breakfast.

 

Aurora is a lovely ship, you will love it I am sure. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Legal Stylist said:

Hi all!

 

I've come back to Cruise Critic once again to benefit from your experiences and general knowledge.  My husband and I have only ever cruised once on MSC Prescioza, which neither of us liked.  We found it too crowded, and the entertainment fell a bit flat for us. Plus the announcements in what felt like 40 different languages came to grate on my nerves. But, we cruised the Nile summer 2018 and both loved it, so resolved to give cruising another chance.

There are few announcements on P&O and most of them are in the corridors / around the ship - like the morning from the Cruise Director and lunchtime from the Captain. They always apologise if they have to make an announcement into the cabin.

Quote

 

We've booked onto Aurora for her 13 May Baltic Cruise for 14 nights.  And, I suppose, am starting to be a tad nervous about the trip. We pay our balance on Saturday so wanted to see what information people who have cruised with P&O say.

The Baltic is a fantastic itinerary so you'll enjoy it whatever the ship. It is quite port intensive and best to do your own  research before you go. 

Is Aurora a nice boat? And, is it noticeably smaller than something like the Prescioza?  We always felt crowded and penned in on the MSC boat, and unfortunately the Nile cruise had about 20 passengers on a boat for 200+, so was not a good indicator. 

We were on Aurora in September and it doesn't feel crowded but it will feel dark compared to Preciosa.  It doesn't have an Atrium for example with light flooding in.  It is more a traditional style of cruising and attracts an older age profile as a result. 

How are the large inside cabins on B deck? Has anyone had one of these before? Am I going to regret not having a window?

I wouldn't cruise without at least a window but prefer a balcony. I just think it adds so much to the experience, especially if you want privacy at times.  I would especially recommend this for a cruise in may when there is still a chance of not being to be out on deck much. 

How is the food?

The food is pretty much all the same across the fleet - banquet-style food, perfectly acceptable - but definitely worth paying a bit extra for The Beach House,  the Glass House and Sindhu if you like Asian Fusion. 

Thank you so much for whatever knowledge you can impart that will put me at ease. I'm sure I'll be back with tons more questions.

 

Edited by tartanexile81

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow!  Your guys are terrific!  I'm feeling much more at ease regarding the holiday now.  I had heard that Aurora, while still a large ship (thanks zoe for the kick up the backside 😉 ) was much smaller than the more prevalent ones, including the MSC boat we went on which carried about 5000 passengers. 

 

I know that Aurora is going Adult Only in April, do you think this will have any impact on the quality of the cruise?  Will we be likely to meet anyone around our ages (35ish)?  I'm well out of my clubbing/disco days, so would appreciate a slower pace, but would love to know what I'm walking into.

 

How heavily enforced is the dress code on Black Tie nights?  This will not be an issue for us, but if it is heavily enforced I'll leave my husband's kooky bow ties behind!  Also, do they have theme nights?  I have seen reference online to Great Gatsby evenings and the like. If these are likely to occur, I'd rather be prepared in advance.

 

Regarding alcohol, I am quite delighted that P&O does not, at present, have an all inclusive alcohol package.  On MSC people took them as an opportunity to get pass out drunk, and I did not get the value from mine because my husband and I are not the biggest drinkers.  However, how expensive are the drinks on P&O?  I've read comparable to pub prices, but they vary wildly from point to point in the UK.  Are we looking at London prices £5 a pint/£7 a gin, or more reasonable like Liverpool/Manchester/Leeds around £3.50 pint/£4.50 a gin?

 

Are the wine packages a worthwhile saving?  I'm torn between getting an 18 bottle set (a 12 and 6) or just purchasing as we go?

 

Final one for now (I promise)! We selected the shuttle bus as our Select Price perk departing from Bolton.  Apparently this will take us about 4 hours to get to the port.  Are the buses comfortable?  

 

Thanks again! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Legal Stylist said:

Wow!  Your guys are terrific!  I'm feeling much more at ease regarding the holiday now.  I had heard that Aurora, while still a large ship (thanks zoe for the kick up the backside 😉 ) was much smaller than the more prevalent ones, including the MSC boat we went on which carried about 5000 passengers. 

 

I know that Aurora is going Adult Only in April, do you think this will have any impact on the quality of the cruise?  Will we be likely to meet anyone around our ages (35ish)?  I'm well out of my clubbing/disco days, so would appreciate a slower pace, but would love to know what I'm walking into.

 

How heavily enforced is the dress code on Black Tie nights?  This will not be an issue for us, but if it is heavily enforced I'll leave my husband's kooky bow ties behind!  Also, do they have theme nights?  I have seen reference online to Great Gatsby evenings and the like. If these are likely to occur, I'd rather be prepared in advance.

 

Regarding alcohol, I am quite delighted that P&O does not, at present, have an all inclusive alcohol package.  On MSC people took them as an opportunity to get pass out drunk, and I did not get the value from mine because my husband and I are not the biggest drinkers.  However, how expensive are the drinks on P&O?  I've read comparable to pub prices, but they vary wildly from point to point in the UK.  Are we looking at London prices £5 a pint/£7 a gin, or more reasonable like Liverpool/Manchester/Leeds around £3.50 pint/£4.50 a gin?

 

Are the wine packages a worthwhile saving?  I'm torn between getting an 18 bottle set (a 12 and 6) or just purchasing as we go?

 

Final one for now (I promise)! We selected the shuttle bus as our Select Price perk departing from Bolton.  Apparently this will take us about 4 hours to get to the port.  Are the buses comfortable?  

 

Thanks again! 

Keep the kooky bow ties, the formal nights are enforced, but a bit of fun is perfectly acceptable, he won't be the only one.

People will tell you the ship will be full of oldies once it goes adults only but I'm not so sure. There will be plenty of mature people, but I am sure you will still have a good mix of ages. 

Although the entertainment was not all to our taste, we always found something enjoyable for us as there are quite a few options.

As for the drinks prices, there are other threads with current price lists on them, but as a guide, a pint of Fosters £4.10, Peroni £4.75, cocktails around £6 and my favourite, a 'perfect serve' double Hendricks with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic for £8.

A standard G&T was about a fiver I believe.

Have a great time, there is really something for everyone.

Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have had some similar experiences as you, we sailed with Costa a few years back...hated it, although the Pacifica was a beautiful ship the whole thing felt too frantic, too crowded , too many languages ( the quizzes in 6 languages a real challenge ), front desk and officers too snooty and just not our cup of tea.  We have also done some river cruising and loved it ( Nile, Rhine and Danube ) but it is so pricey in comparison to sea cruises. We have also sailed on Thomson years ago and Ventura 2016 Caribbean (fabulous IMHO ) We did Baltic on Celebrity 2014  and on Aurora last year...although Celebrity is a bit more swanky we preferred P and O for the Main dining room breakfast (really relaxing and just yummy every day )although the evening meal on Celebrity was very very good , the waiters on P and O are superb, can't do enough for you. The cabins are fine, not done inside though but did peek in passing by in the corridor as you do and they looked good . The entertainment is far superior on P and O in our opinion apart from in St Petersburg where celebrity brought on a Russian folklore group who were fantastic.  The bonus of tea and coffee and biccies in the cabin cannot be underestimated on P and O LOL.  The FREE laundry facilities !  Being allowed a bottle of wine or spirits each,  other lines do not allow this at all.  Aurora is not glitzy (well she might be after refit ) but she feels safe and comfy and like a lovely home after time ashore.  I agree with other posters, try the yummy beach house and glasshouse.  I think you will enjoy it immensely.  The Baltic itinerary is spectacular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Legal Stylist said:

Wow!  Your guys are terrific!  I'm feeling much more at ease regarding the holiday now.  I had heard that Aurora, while still a large ship (thanks zoe for the kick up the backside 😉 ) was much smaller than the more prevalent ones, including the MSC boat we went on which carried about 5000 passengers. 

 

I know that Aurora is going Adult Only in April, do you think this will have any impact on the quality of the cruise?  Will we be likely to meet anyone around our ages (35ish)?  I'm well out of my clubbing/disco days, so would appreciate a slower pace, but would love to know what I'm walking into.

 

How heavily enforced is the dress code on Black Tie nights?  This will not be an issue for us, but if it is heavily enforced I'll leave my husband's kooky bow ties behind!  Also, do they have theme nights?  I have seen reference online to Great Gatsby evenings and the like. If these are likely to occur, I'd rather be prepared in advance.

 

Regarding alcohol, I am quite delighted that P&O does not, at present, have an all inclusive alcohol package.  On MSC people took them as an opportunity to get pass out drunk, and I did not get the value from mine because my husband and I are not the biggest drinkers.  However, how expensive are the drinks on P&O?  I've read comparable to pub prices, but they vary wildly from point to point in the UK.  Are we looking at London prices £5 a pint/£7 a gin, or more reasonable like Liverpool/Manchester/Leeds around £3.50 pint/£4.50 a gin?

 

Are the wine packages a worthwhile saving?  I'm torn between getting an 18 bottle set (a 12 and 6) or just purchasing as we go?

 

Final one for now (I promise)! We selected the shuttle bus as our Select Price perk departing from Bolton.  Apparently this will take us about 4 hours to get to the port.  Are the buses comfortable?  

 

Thanks again! 

 

A lot will depend on the itinerary and time of year but as I said Aurora definitely attracts a lot of older cruisers but there were some younger people on the  cruise we did.  Definitely no Great Gatsby type theme nights. You'll probably have a black and white themed formal which people conform to and a 60s/70s casual night which not many people dress up for.  You can check what the theme nights for your cruise are by checking in the advice centre.

 

P&O is supposed to be introducing a package this Summer but in the meantime, here are some drinks prices. https://ask.pocruises.com/help/PO/life-on-board/drink_cost. I wouldn't buy a wine package as there are some really decent cheap wines on the menu including the house wines. 

 

The coaches are fine if you don't mind coach travel - a bit better than National express and you'll have a 45 minute stop somewhere.  Your cases will be collected from you at Bolton and you won't see them again till you arrive in your cabin. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you found MSC too frantic you should like Aurora; she's just the right size and very relaxing. The Formal nights are great fun and it's lovely to see people dressed up. The shows are good, there's plenty of live music around the ship as well as quieter bars, and I've always found the food in the MDR very good though I don't like the buffet. Sindhu and the beach house are well worth booking and the Glass house is a nice quiet place to eat with great tapas style snacks as well as steaks and other main meals. Aurora will be refurbished and adult only for this Baltic cruise so should look good, though adult only does tend to attract an older passenger base. I'm a young 62 and about to pay my balance for this cruise today! Really looking forward to the itinerary and may see you onboard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

we are looking forward to Aurora after Oriana.  We always have inside cabins, would rather spend our time out on deck and also save a lot of money.  We usually go for just forward of midships on C or D decks.  Perfect for us.  We are on her in April.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that was some amazing information imparted to us.  It really helped us scurry down to the travel agent and pay off the balance.

 

Three more, then I swear I'm done!

 

1. We choose anytime dining, was this the right move?  Or should we change to a set dining time?  Are the restaurants different?  Which one is better in terms of food quality and dining experience?

 

2. Has anyone done a European Cruise in the winter?  You've all sold this so well, I'm looking at the 15 November European 7 Night Cruise which stops in Bruges, Rotterdam and Cherbourg.  Will it still be enjoyable? Would you recommend a window on this voyage owing to the cooler weather?  We wouldn't be able to enjoy the decks as much I imagine.

 

3. We have decided to renew our wedding vows.  Does anyone have any experience of this?  If so, is it good? 

 

So, Clodia, maybe you'll see me in my lovely white dress!  Come by for a slice of cake!

 

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The anytime dining is in the Medina restaurant and the fixed time dining is in the Alexandria restaurant. Other than location there is no difference in the restaurants. Both are served from the same galley (kitchen) which is located between the two. Hence the menu, food quality and dress code are the same. 

 

We have done many cruises in November but prefer to go to warmer climes such as the  Mediterranean, Canaries or the Carribean

 

Brian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi LS,

 

> 1. We choose anytime dining, was this the right move?     Yup.

 

About 3/4 hr before you wish to have dinner, take a table at Anderson's and order a couple of adult beverages.  Then go down to Medina and ask for a table.

 

You will be given a buzzer thingee to take back to the lounge.

 

Enjoy your voyage.

 

Ira

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say yes, the Freedom dining choice is the way to go having done both choices on Aurora. I never had to wait at all, but travelling solo was prepared to share a table. I saw couples wait for a table for 2, but never for very long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Win a Cruise with the Most Highly-Awarded Small Ship Cruise Line in Alaska
      • Q&A with Daniel Skjeldam, CEO Hurtigruten
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Community Contests
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×