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Aurora cruise ship review

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Aurora cruise review

To me, the name P&O has always conjured up images of shuffleboard, tranquil days at sea and tea with milk. With ships known for their classic exteriors, endless open decks and stylish interiors, P&O Cruises obviously makes use of the fact that they practically invented cruising some 160 years ago. Flagship of the fleet is Aurora, a modern ship with graceful lines which entered service in 2000 and has since seen all four corners of the world. And now that P&O Cruises is part of the gigantic Carnival family, I more than ever wanted to see what this cruise line is all about. So what better way to get a taste for it than embarking on Aurora for a wintry two-night party cruise to Belgium?  

Together with my friends Lucy and Ilona I travel to Southampton on a bleak and chilly December day. Using planes, train and automobiles we finally reach P&O's Mayflower Terminal, which has been completely rebuilt in recent years. Offering acres of space to handle the thousands of guests today's mega ship carry, we are pleasantly surprised to see how fast the check-in lines for this fully booked departure are handled. 
Decorated in bold purples and oranges, the huge departure lounge at the Mayflower Terminal holds a tiny bar and an equally tiny self-service area offering all the things we love to buy in the UK, i.e. flimsy cucumber sandwiches and salt & vinegar potato chips. With boarding scheduled at 3:00 pm, it is a long wait. But after P&O's Portunus Club members are called, it is time for us to get up and set foot on Aurora!

Cruise Line: P&O Cruises
Year built: 2000
Price tag: US$ 320 million
Yard: Meyer Werft, Germany
Gross Tonnage: 76,152
Length: 270.0 m (885.8 ft)
Beam: 32.2 m (105.6 ft)
Passengers (norm.): 1,878
Passengers (max): 2,290
Crew: 936
Service speed: 24.0 knots
Flag: Great Britain

Our two-night Party Cruise initially called for a trip to "Nowhere" (one of my favorite destinations), but instead of a day at sea, P&O Cruises later added a call at Zeebrugge, Belgium with tours available to Bruges and Ghent. Hailing from the Low Lands ourselves we opted to spend our full 40 hours on Aurora to get to know this fine ship inside out. And now: boarding commences!
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Aurora in Southampton, January 2004


Aurora transiting the North Sea Canal, summer 2001
Aurora on her way to Amsterdam, summer 2001


Aurora in Southampton, January 2004
Aurora's stern
Aurora in Southampton, January 2004

Aurora's traditional funnel on a beautiful summer day



Photos and text: 2001-2011 Bart de Boer -

First published on March 6, 2005

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