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Aurora cruise ship review

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Dinner is served! With our table for three in second seating secured, we highly anticipate our first shipboard dinner. The dress code is set for "informal", which means gentlemen are expected to wear a jacket and tie. We report for dining duty at the entrance of the Medina Restaurant at 8:45 pm and are escorted to our table. The waiter brings a menu and the wine list and although the description of the dinner selections on the menu looks appetizing, the presentation and quality of the food turn out to be rather disappointing. Most of our dishes seem to be pre cooked, pre packed and even pre frozen. Even the wine (at GBP 22 a bottle) comes pre opened. 

Aurora has two main restaurants which are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At dinner, there is a choice of either early (6:30 pm) or late (8:45 pm) seating. Both restaurants feature the same food and service. The Medina Restaurant is located amidships on deck 6 and can be accessed  by means of a grand staircase from  Promenade Deck. Decorated with colorful Moroccan tile tableaus, the Medina Restaurant seats 550 passengers and features some tables for two. Slightly smaller, the Alexandria Restaurant is also located on Deck 6 and arguably is the most elegant of the two.

Paupiette of Plaice Fillet stuffed with a salmon mousseline in a white wine sauce
Maple Walnut Sponge Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

It will come as no surprise that the Alexandria Restaurant has an Egyptian theme, with some beautiful retouched photos of the pyramids adorning the walls. With its soft yellow and beige tones and its grand entrance, the Alexandria Restaurant is cheerful yet elegant. Only down side is the room's low ceiling and the consequent noise level.

While the food on the second -formal- night on our cruise is definitely better than dinner on the first night, my friends and I agree that the dining room food can not be the nr. 1 reason to choose a cruise on Aurora. Service by the Goanese stewards, although friendly, is very rushed and quite basic and the whole dining room operation is executed without any sense of finesse. Call it the Hit and run syndrome if you will. Still, we see many P&O regulars enjoying the food and service. Could it be we are spoilt? Or is the service level during this two-night Party Cruise different than any longer cruise?

Scottish Smoked Salmon with a new potato & caper berry salad
Glazed Duck Breast with Curacao & Orange Sauce with a Kumquat Chutney

If you are someone that is already looking forward to half a lobster by the time you have put on your tuxedo on the first formal night, look elsewhere. Captain's dinner on Aurora features entrees like Baked Halibut or Roast Fillet of Beef. And since the Brits thankfully don't give in to the tacky Baked Alaska tradition, why not order the Praline Soufflé with Kahlua Sauce for pudding?

More casual fare is available on Aurora, too. Open around the clock is the pretty Café Bordeaux on deck 8 - more about that later. Let's first grab a bite in The Orangery up on Lido Deck. The self-service section features several islands, some of them manned by staff handing out tray, cutlery and a blob of disinfectant. Again, we should not forget that we are on a British ship, so expect porridge, kippers, fried mushrooms and British bacon for breakfast. High Tea is served in The Orangery, too. I would have expected a proper High Tea  served in one of the lounges (preferably Anderson's), but alas. Even though The Orangery is very spacious, the buffet section can get very crowded during peak meal hours with lines forming throughout the room. We are surprised at the slow clearing of tables. Despite the presence of a British supervisor who acts like she is a prison warden, we see several crew members taking used plates, cutlery and cups one by one to the galley.

Medina Restaurant

Medina Restaurant

Medina Restaurant
Alexandria Restaurant

Medina Restaurant

One of two entrances to the Medina Restaurant
Alexandria Restaurant
Alexandria Restaurant
The Orangery self-service section

The Orangery

The Orangery

The Orangery

The Orangery
The Orangery

   

Photos and text: © 2001-2011 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com

First published on March 6, 2005

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