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Report on Aurora Northern lights cruise Nov 2023


pete14
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I am envious of the OP having Gervase Phinn onboard.  I met him when I was a Headteacher at the Secondary Head's annual conference where he was the after dinner speaker. He's funny and sensible. I have At the Captains Table on my kindle and completed reading it yesterday. A few amusing cruise stereotypes expertly portrayed.

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41 minutes ago, Clodia said:

I am envious of the OP having Gervase Phinn onboard.  I met him when I was a Headteacher at the Secondary Head's annual conference where he was the after dinner speaker. He's funny and sensible. I have At the Captains Table on my kindle and completed reading it yesterday. A few amusing cruise stereotypes expertly portrayed.

Something for me to read on our cruise to keep me quiet. Don't shoot me but I either read Agatha Christie or Jeremy Clarkson !!!!

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Another lazy but good day with a disappointing conclusion. 
 

The sea has remained quite calm although the forecast is for the wind speed and sea state to increase a little tonight. Skies are clear though and the captain has made a broadcast to all cabins to tell us that there is the possibility of seeing the Northern lights tonight and that he will use a dedicated TV channel to let us know if and when they are spotted from the bridge. Nothing yet though.

 

I managed to have a brief chat with Gervase Phinn before today’s talk and told him that I am writing this report and that several people are disappointed not to be with us to listen to what he has to say. He seemed genuinely touched to be told this. Again, his talk was excellent. The theatre was almost full and I suspect as word continues to spread, it will become completely full before his final talk. There is another guest speaker doing the ‘afternoon slot’. He is a celebrity photographer talking about some of the famous people he has photographed. Today, it was Larry Adler but as I am not greatly interested in him, I gave it a miss, preferring an afternoon in the Crow’s Nest with my kindle with the Norway coast and snow covered mountains in view.

 

Little else happened until our evening meal. Two main courses were fine, although I am still unsure whether the veal was in fact pork (perhaps veal substitute for the Fawlty Towers fans). One of us has special dietary needs that means meals must be low in fat. The paupiette of lemon sole with gnocchi, seafood ragout and courgettes consisted of a fillet of fish which was so over cooked it could be mashed with one stroke of a fork, partially cooked potatoes and vegetables with a pot of tasteless white liquid. We informed the waiter that it was inedible and far removed from what it should be and when he summoned the head waiter, we told him the same. He was asked to provide us with a replacement that was the same as others had ordered from the menu but the replacement he brought was exactly the same as the first one. He was asked to take it away and just leave it. Five minutes later, when others had finished he came up with a third similar plate of food, overcooked fish with gnocchi and courgettes replaced with undercooked potatoes and vegetables. That also went back. I know different dietary requirements can be a nuisance but they ask to be told in advance (which we did) and say they will take the order the previous night to check it is suitable and tweak it accordingly. All this happened but the result was unsatisfactory. 
 

Never mind, tomorrow is another day and we have already pre booked Sindhu for our evening meal. 

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On 11/16/2023 at 8:22 PM, pete14 said:

Towards the end of another day, a summary.

 

For a sea day without sunshine and sun loungers, it has been a good one. The talk by Gervase Phinn on some of his experiences as a school inspector was excellently delivered, amusing but thought provoking. He really is an excellent speaker and if he is ever on a ship on which you are cruising, well worth listening to. He has five more talks to go. 
 

Lunch was three small plates in the glasshouse. The plates may have been small but there was plenty of food for one person. A glass of velvet devil red wine was a good accompaniment. At around £14 for a large glass, it makes the top drinks package seem to be a good choice but of course it depends on the tipple you choose. For beer, and a lesser degree spirits (around £8 for a 50cl measure of something decent), maybe not so good. 
 

We have a classical guitarist onboard (Carlos Bonell) who has collaborated a lot with Queen and Paul McCartney as well as playing classical selections with various orchestras. His 45 minute concert was very enjoyable, including a range of styles, including flamenco, the first movement of the Spring concerto from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the Beatle’s ‘Penny Lane’ and Cavatina, from the film ‘The Deerhunter’. All were excellently played. He is also appearing five more times. The busker who we have onboard was not of the same quality. After renditions of two Ed Sheeran songs, we left when he started murdering my favourite Adele song.

 

Tonight was the first celebration night. As the main courses were not greatly to my taste, I chose the main course from the pay extra ‘signature menu’. Apparently, I was the first person to select this. Although the steak was cooked excellently to my requested medium rare, if so few people are choosing to pay extra from that optional menu, its days may be numbered even at this early stage. In my opinion, it would be a shame if this happened, but consumer demand (or lack of it) may dictate its future. 
 

The weather has been fine all day and the sea has been calm with little movement to suggest we are crossing the North Sea. Hopefully this will remain so but somehow, I doubt it will. 

We've just come off the Aurora R320 Caribbean Cruise and we didn't have the choice of the signature menu at any time in the Medina Restaurant.  We thought the service in the restaurant was excellent and if our food was not up to standard (tough and overcooked meat on many occasions) it was changed, or the offer was made to substitute it.

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On 11/17/2023 at 6:04 PM, Presto2 said:

Something for me to read on our cruise to keep me quiet. Don't shoot me but I either read Agatha Christie or Jeremy Clarkson !!!!

I like a good who dunit. I will now be disappointed if Gervase is not on our next cruise.😊

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This was written last night but the internet has been down for 24 hours so I couldn’t post it. It is not the new Elon Musk starlink internet on Aurora so the fact we had no internet was not a reaction to his latest rocket exploding. 
 

An excellent day today and the Northern Lights have made an appearance!😊
 

We spent the day in Andalsnes, a small town at the end of a fjord. Snow on the tops of the mountains and frost on the ground. Apologies if the pictures are upside down. After a hearty breakfast, we ‘did Andalsnes’ in around half an hour, we didn’t fancy the cable car to the top of the mountain, and definitely not at more than £40 return. 

 

Even a baby ship such as Aurora dwarfed the town, but not the mountains.

 

For lunch we braved the buffet which seemed quite calm and orderly with a good assortment of food. I chose crispy beef with chilli which whilst being perfectly acceptable was neither crispy nor laden with chilli. Pete junior had pizza from the grill which he enjoyed.

 

We spent a calm afternoon in the Crows Nest reading and getting value from the drinks package whilst Mrs Pete got her nails and hands done in the spa. The Aurora trio played a few jazz style tunes (piano, electric bass and drums). They were perfectly competent if a little loud for the space.

 

Sindhu was our choice for evening meal, a good choice after last night’s trials and tribulations. Everything about it was first class. Really tasty food, well cooked and with excellent service as you would expect. I know select dining is not cheap but it really is much better than the offerings in the MDR, which are actually quite good unless you have special dietary needs when they can be less than satisfactory as they were last night. 

 

We had not been back in our cabin for more than a few minutes when a message from the bridge was broadcast on the TV telling us that the Northern Lights were visible. We watched from our balcony and tried to take some photos. The lights were not particularly strong or vivid in colour but they were definitely there. Pete junior’s photos were positive proof of that, mine were just black. Hopefully when we are further North in Alta and Tromso, they will be more extensive and vivid but at least we can say we have seen them (unlike the last time we did this cruise in March 2019). Even I may manage photographic proof. 
 

I think it was Selbourne who asked about tiffin boxes at lunchtime in Sindhu. They are doing them on two lunchtimes (sea days). We have booked them both so will let you know how good they were. Also for Selbourne, today was a port day and breakfast in medina restaurant was 8:00 until 9:30 and the buffet 7:00 until 11:00. 


Another sea day tomorrow as we travel North up the coastline. They said top temperature today was about 1 degree Celsius, which in a couple of days time may seem pretty tropical compared with the minus temperatures we may encounter in the far North.

 

As I finish, there has been another announcement about the Lights being visible so I will leave it at that.

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A late night last night because the Northern Lights made an appearance. They were neither bright nor colourful but they were definitely there. Pete junior managed to take some photos of them that accentuated the green colour which was less visible to the naked eye. Hopefully, we will see them more clearly over the next few nights. The sky tonight  is very clear again so we may be lucky. I am sitting here with my coat on just in case there is a message from the bridge to tell us to look outside. 
 

Gervase Phinn did Christmas today in the form of anecdotes about Nativity activities and plays he has encountered. He also read a couple of quite poignant poems he has written. The books he brought along to sell have all sold out, even though he has three talks left. 
 

We had the loyalty club lunch today which was very pleasant. Although there were no officer hosts on each table, several of them greeted us as we entered and the captain visited each table. A pod of orcas was spotted by some earlier. Mrs Pete thinks she saw them but sadly I was elsewhere. It is hardly the weather for sitting outside gazing at the sea in the off chance of seeing marine life. 
 

After copious amounts of wine was dispensed and consumed at lunchtime, a lazy afternoon was required. Many of the stewards and waiters are sulking a little due to Australia. beating India in the cricket World Cup final. An announcement has just come from the bridge that the lights are visible so ta- ra until tomorrow

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@molecrochip Disappointing to hear that Starlink isn’t live on Aurora yet, as I was under the impression that it had now been rolled out to all the ships. I have paid a fortune for WiFi coverage for our 65 nighter commencing 3rd Jan, on the assumption that it would be as good as we experienced on Ventura. Do you know if it will be installed by then? 

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8 minutes ago, Selbourne said:

@molecrochip Disappointing to hear that Starlink isn’t live on Aurora yet, as I was under the impression that it had now been rolled out to all the ships. I have paid a fortune for WiFi coverage for our 65 nighter commencing 3rd Jan, on the assumption that it would be as good as we experienced on Ventura. Do you know if it will be installed by then? 

The family ships were done first I believe. The remaining ships will go live before Christmas.

 

I’m not aware of any change or delay to that plan.

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36 minutes ago, molecrochip said:

The family ships were done first I believe. The remaining ships will go live before Christmas.

 

I’m not aware of any change or delay to that plan.


Brilliant. Thanks for that. You’d certainly hope that Aurora would be sorted before embarking on a 65 nighter.

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37 minutes ago, molecrochip said:

The family ships were done first I believe. The remaining ships will go live before Christmas.

 

I’m not aware of any change or delay to that plan.

I was told at reception that Aurora would be early next year but I am not sure how much faith to put in what he said.

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2 minutes ago, pete14 said:

I was told at reception that Aurora would be early next year but I am not sure how much faith to put in what he said.


Hopefully very early, as we depart on 3rd Jan 🤔 At least they knew about it. I asked at reception on Ventura and they had absolutely no idea what on Earth I was talking about 😂 

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Hope tonight's experience in the MDR was better and that you have had a great view of the northern lights. We've been to Yllas in Finnish Lapland about 7 times in February and have yet to see them so we will be jealous !!! 

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26 minutes ago, Selbourne said:


Hopefully very early, as we depart on 3rd Jan 🤔 At least they knew about it. I asked at reception on Ventura and they had absolutely no idea what on Earth I was talking about 😂 

Certainly all ships are due to be live “by the end of the year”.

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We’re on the same cruise as Pete. Travelling as a group of 6. Me, husband, son and partner and 2 friends. 
We’ve seen the Northern Lights both evenings but only through camera lenses. Our friend took some great pictures from a balcony on deck 9 tonight. 
We usually cruise with Celebrity and are a bit surprised that P and O do not provide any port information. 

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12 hours ago, Presto2 said:

Hope tonight's experience in the MDR was better and that you have had a great view of the northern lights. We've been to Yllas in Finnish Lapland about 7 times in February and have yet to see them so we will be jealous !!! 

MDR experience was much better because the member of our group with dietary needs has decided not to choose what they want the night before in order for galley to prepare it appropriately but to have what they want ‘as it comes’ and eat what they can, which with sensible choice is pretty much everything. Hence the fish they had last night was nicely cooked. 
 

Lights last night were best seen as photos but Pete junior was able to take some excellent ones. Hopefully now we are in Tromso, they will be better visible to the naked eye. I will try to post them later.

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9 hours ago, RJHNorthyorks said:

We’re on the same cruise as Pete. Travelling as a group of 6. Me, husband, son and partner and 2 friends. 
We’ve seen the Northern Lights both evenings but only through camera lenses. Our friend took some great pictures from a balcony on deck 9 tonight. 
We usually cruise with Celebrity and are a bit surprised that P and O do not provide any port information. 

Please feel free to add your experiences on this thread if you wish. We are a deck above you on deck 10.

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9 hours ago, molecrochip said:

P&O do provide port information, just not in paper form.

 

One of your pre-cruise emails will have had the link to download the document to your phone/tablet/laptop.

 

It should be available on the myholiday website soon too.

 

https://www.pocruisesguides.com

As usual P&O forget or don't care about those that don't have smartphones or tablets. Surprise, surprise not everyone has a smartphone.

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9 minutes ago, majortom10 said:

As usual P&O forget or don't care about those that don't have smartphones or tablets. Surprise, surprise not everyone has a smartphone.

If that's the case I wonder if Guest Services would print some .. or the excursions desk organise something. Just a thought. 

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9 hours ago, molecrochip said:

P&O do provide port information, just not in paper form.

 

One of your pre-cruise emails will have had the link to download the document to your phone/tablet/laptop.

 

It should be available on the myholiday website soon too.

 

https://www.pocruisesguides.com


Have to say I’m not at all impressed with them. Very little info on the ‘sights’, far more on cafes, bars and restaurants (which we don’t use) and obscure things. Also not terribly user friendly format. What people want to know is where do we dock, is there a shuttle and if yes where does it drop off, and if you are only going to visit somewhere once, the must see sights are x,y,z. 

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54 minutes ago, Selbourne said:


Have to say I’m not at all impressed with them. Very little info on the ‘sights’, far more on cafes, bars and restaurants (which we don’t use) and obscure things. Also not terribly user friendly format. What people want to know is where do we dock, is there a shuttle and if yes where does it drop off, and if you are only going to visit somewhere once, the must see sights are x,y,z. 

I do agree with you about smartphones and lack of port guides. I have a smartphone but the guides were helpful while being pretty useless at the same time.

 

 

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Cheers Pete and friend! Any info on location of docking to the towns would be really helpful. Knowing whether we need to rely on shuttle buses or can come and go much more freely would useful, especially in Alta as we are there the longest. There is a trip on our port call in Haugesund for Nordic walking but it had all sold out. However, I found the route of the walk, which is doable independently, but was wondering how far from the town the dock was. 

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