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Aurora cruise ship review

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Aurora Facts & Figures

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After the emergency drill is concluded, most passengers gather out on deck to wave goodbye to friends and family ashore and listen to the sounds of the live band that is playing from the quayside. P&O knows how to throw a good sail away party! Waiters roam the open decks selling glasses of champagne and staff members hand out enormous quantities of streamers. Then at 5:00 pm the horn sounds and the lines are cast. In the calm, chilly December evening Aurora sets sail and even though we will only be away for two days, the sendoff is as grand as if we were on our way to Australia.

One of the great features of Aurora is the sheer amount of open deck space. The Brits like to spend time outside, even if the weather is not completely cooperative and as Aurora sails down Southampton Water on this dark December evening her open decks are literally crowded with passengers. Up on top on deck 14 is a spacious forward observation area  which is also ideal for quiet sunbathing in warmer climes. Walking aft and descending to Sun Deck (deck 13), we come to the beautiful Riviera Pool, the most upbeat and colorful of Aurora's three swimming pools.

Sailaway Party on Promenade Deck
Beautiful wrap-around Promenade Deck

Nestled in an amphitheater of smaller sun decks, the Riviera Pool boasts some intriguing tiling and has twin waterfalls with the water ending up in a very attractive paddle pool.. The designers have cleverly sandwiched the pool in between cabins and the split level Oasis Beauty & Fitness Center and this really works well for the pool area. 

With a large open-air bar at arm's length, the Riviera Pool is also used for evening entertainment on selected cruises, as the terraces offer great sightlines for all passengers. Beautiful! The same can not be said for the Oasis Beauty & Fitness Center that suffers a little from the sandwich effect. The layout is confusing, with the beauty rooms and hair salon having views through large windows, but the Gym one deck below offers views of ... ehh ... the bottom of the Riviera Pool. That said, my Indian Scalp & Head Massage at The Oasis was one of the best I have experienced on any cruise ship. Despite the fact that the Spa on Aurora is not run by Steiners, treatment prices are similar to the ones you will find on other ships. Please note there is a charge of GBP 5 for many of the fitness activities.

Fitness Center at The Oasis
After working out, why not drop by the Sidewalk Café?

Comfortably wedged between Aurora's two main pools is the Sidewalk Café. Typically open between 11:00 am and 6:30 pm, this is the place to go for a burger, dog or a serving of fries. You will find some beautiful teak furniture here with floor to ceiling windows providing a "jolly good" view of the sea. And if you are in for a quick dip, you can go right next door to the Crystal Pool.

Covered by a sliding glass canopy, the Crystal Pool turns out to be a very popular hangout on our short cruise. The nicely sized pool and two Jacuzzis are overlooked by Aurora's huge funnel, with the Crystal Bar being a popular watering hole nearby. Another equally popular bar can be found all the way aft of Deck 12. The Pennant Bar is an open-air bar with an unrivalled view of the fascinating amphitheater of aft decks. Like a symphony of teak and canvas, deck after deck cascades down to the Terrace Pool, which has a separate Jacuzzi, Bar and Children's Paddling Pool. It is here that most families can be found as Aurora's enormous children's facilities are right next door. There is a dedicated Youth Crew on board at all times and the vessel even has its own Night Nursery to ensure parents can party the night away. With programs for children from 6 months to 12 years, this must be one of the secrets behind the success of P&O Cruises!

A proud name

Weather-proof pool scene at the Crystal Pool

Crystal Pool
Crystal Pool with magrodome closed

Riviera Pool

Beautiful little paddle pool
Riviera Pool
Crystal Pool with magrodome open
Looking towards the Crystal Bar from the Sidewalk Café
Sidewalk Café - Burgers & Co
Aft decks

Crystal Pool with funnel

Beautifully tiered aft decks

Aft sun decks with Terrace Pool

Pennant Outdoor Bar up on Lido Deck aft
A Children's paradise aft on D Deck


Photos and text: © 2001-2011 Bart de Boer -

First published on March 6, 2005

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