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Aurora cruise ship review

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Aurora Facts & Figures

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In our stateroom, there are key cards and table reservation cards for Ilona and Lucy only, there are towels for two and the third upper berth is under lock and key. With no room steward in sight, we report to the Reception Desk where we are reluctantly given a third room key and are told we should contact our room steward ourselves to arrange for extra towels. Later, a visit to the Maitre d' reveals that my request for a table for three in second seating has materialized as a table for twelve for Lucy and Ilona only in first seating. Apparently I have been allocated a table at the far end of the dining room! Fortunately, the friendly Goanese Maitre d' quickly pulls some ropes and finds us a table for three in second seating, bypassing a wait list of 200.

Like so many modern cruise ships, Aurora has a soaring multi deck atrium which serves as the heart of the vessel. Windowless and completely rectangular, Aurora's atrium is quite different, though. Rising up four decks is a gigantic Lalique sculpture. Depicting two mythical figures behind a veil of water, this is one of the most stunning backdrops of any seagoing atrium. A beautiful grand staircase leads up from the 24-hour Reception Desk to E Deck, where you will find Piccadilly Court with Explorer's (Shore Excursion Desk) and the Emporium and Piccadilly shops.

The Lalique Lady up close and personal

One odd thing in these days of 24/7 service is the fact that the Reception Desk on deck 6 is only manned from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.  The currency on board Aurora is the British Pound and it so happens all officers are British. In a longstanding P&O tradition, most service staff hail from the Indian region of Goa. But more about the staff later.

One deck up is another, larger shop called Mayfair. Where the Piccadilly Shop downstairs is catering to formal wear and glittering objects, Mayfair caters to the t-shirt and key ring enthusiasts. Just like on many other cruise lines, the rather narrow passageway around the atrium is frequently blocked by tables showcasing the ugliest watches and jewelry at bargain prices. Not very classy if you ask me, but I guess it brings in money for the concession company that runs the shops on board.

Cabin corridor

Taking a break from the Atrium Action we make a quick stop at our home away from home; cabin F212 on deck 5. Aurora boasts cabins in no less than 26 grades, ranging from inside twins with shower to split level Penthouse Suites with two balconies and bath. Incidentally, a large percentage of standard cabins has a tub in keeping with British tradition. 

Our standard outside twin with large window is kept spotlessly clean by our Goan steward Mineer, who is all but invisible during our time on board. Looking remarkably like the accommodations on Royal Caribbean's Vision Class ships, our cabin is decorated in nice fresh pastel colors and features two lower beds and two foldaway upper berths that disappear into the ceiling during the day. There is a tiny sitting area complete with another typically British touch: coffee and tea making facilities! The roomy wood trimmed wardrobe will come in handy on any of Aurora's longer voyages and the bathroom looks like we are the first ones using it. A nice touch: P&O packs some of its toiletries in a small leather pouch that awaits us in the bathroom. Despite its aft location, the cabin is remarkably quiet, especially considering the fact that Aurora has to maintain a brisk speed to reach Zeebrugge on time in the morning.  Yes, we do like our home away from home!

Aurora's 4-deck high atrium with Lalique sculpture

Mayfair shop directly adjacent the atrium

Mayfair shop

Reception Desk on F Deck

Explorers, the fancy Shore Excursion Office on E Deck
Grand staircase leading down to F Deck
Forward elevator bank

Cabin F212 - Outside twin with shower

Bathroom of standard cabin

Tiny seating area in our stateroom

P&O's toiletries napsack
Twin outside cabin with shower
Terribly British - tea & coffee making facilities!


Photos and text: 2001-2011 Bart de Boer -

First published on March 6, 2005

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