Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 386 out of 500
Accommodation: 158 out of 200
Food: 254 out of 400
Service: 299 out of 400
Entertainment: 76 out of 100
Cruise: 287 out of 400
Overall Score: 1460 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: P&O Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9169524
Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)
Original Cost: $375 million
Entered Service: May 2000
Registry: Great Britain
Length (ft/m): 885.8/270.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 25.9/7.9
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (40,000kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 816
Passengers (lower beds): 1,868
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 40.7
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.2
Cabins (total): 934
Size Range (sq ft/m): 150.6-953.0/14.0-88.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 406
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 22
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3 (1 w/ sliding glass dome)
Hot Tubs (on deck): 5
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/200
Onboard currency: UK£
A traditional British-style ship with facilities for the whole family
Overview. Aurora is suited to adults of all ages (although most cruises attract the over-50s) and families with children, who want a cruise that starts and ends in the UK, aboard a mid-size ship with all the facilities of a small resort, with food and service that come with a sense of British-ness.
The Ship. Aurora was built specifically for Britain’s traditional cruise market, and underwent an extensive make-over in 2014/2015. It has larger cabins and suites and more dining options and choice of public areas than older sister Oriana.
As cruise ships evolve, slight differences in layout occur, as is the case with Aurora compared to Oriana. One example is a large, glass-domed indoor/outdoor swimming pool - good in all weathers for families with children. The stern superstructure is nicely rounded and has several tiers that overlook the aft decks, pool, and children’s outdoor facilities. There is good sunbathing space - important for outdoors-loving mainly British passengers, and an extra-wide walk-around outdoor promenade deck, with plenty of white plastic sunloungers (cushioned pads are available).
Aurora is a ship for all types, with specific areas designed for different age groups and lifestyles. The focal point is a four-decks-high atrium lobby and a dramatic 35ft (10.6m) -high, Lalique-style fiberglass sculpture of two mythical figures behind a veil of water.
Other features include a virtual reality games room, 12 lounges/bars (among the nicest are Anderson’s - similar to Anderson’s aboard Oriana, with a fireplace and mahogany paneling), and the Crow’s Nest - complete with a lovely one-sided model of a former P&O liner: Strathnaver of 1931 (scrapped in Hong Kong in 1962). A cinema also doubles as a concert and lecture hall.
Families. There are various clubs for different age groups (two- to five, six to nine, 10-13, and 14-17. An entire deck includes swimming pools and whirlpools just for youngsters. Children can be entertained until 10pm, giving parents time to have dinner and go dancing. All cabins also have a baby-listening device. A night nursery for children aged two to five is available (6pm-midnight, no charge; from midnight to 2am a fee applies), as well as slumber parties for 6-9-year-olds. Sixteen passenger cabins have interconnecting doors - good for families. At peak holiday times (summer, Christmas, Easter) there could be 400 or more children on board. However, the ship absorbs them well, and there’s a lot to keep them occupied.
Accommodation. There are five main grades in numerous price categories. Included are two two-level penthouses, 10 suites with balconies, 18 mini-suites with balconies, 368 cabins with balconies, 225 standard outside-view cabins, 16 interconnecting family cabins, and 279 interior cabins.
All grades, from the largest to the smallest, provide polished cherry wood laminate cabinetry, full-length mirror, personal safe, refrigerator, television, individually controlled air conditioning; twin beds that convert to a queen-size double bed, sofa, and coffee table. Also standard are stylish bed runners, Slumberland eight-inch sprung mattresses, duvets, Egyptian cotton towels and robes, and tea/coffee-making facilities with specialty teas (long-life milk is provided).
There are four decks of cabins with private balconies (about 40 percent of all cabins); these have easy-to-open sliding glass floor-to-ceiling doors; the partitions are of the almost full floor-to-ceiling type - so they really are quite private and cannot be overlooked from above.
Cabin insulation could be better, and the magnetic catches in drawers and on closet doors are noisy. Although most doorways are 26ins (66cm) wide, the actual access is 2ins (5cm) less because of the doorframe; however, some doorways are only 21.5ins (55cm) wide.
Penthouse Suites. Library Suite and Piano Suite each measure 953 sq ft (88.5 sq m), and have forward-facing views, being located directly underneath the navigation bridge (the blinds must be drawn at night so as not to affect navigation). Each is spread over two decks in height, and connected by a curved wooden staircase. One suite has a baby grand piano which can be played manually or electronically; the other has a private library. The living area on the lower deck (Deck 10) incorporates a dining suite (a first for a P&O ship) and small private balcony. The bedroom (upstairs) has a walk-in closet, with a bathroom of porcelain and polished granite, twin washbasins, bathtub, separate shower enclosure, and a small private balcony.
Suites. The 10 suites measure about 445 sq ft (41.3 sq m), and have a separate bedroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed, walk-in dressing area and closet - with plenty of drawer space, trouser press, and ironing board. The lounge has a sofa, armchairs, dining table and chairs, writing desk, television, and audio system. The marble-clad bathroom has a whirlpool bath, shower, and toilet. The balcony has two sunloungers, plus two chairs and two tables.
Mini-suites. These measure 325 sq ft (30.1 sq m) and have a separate bedroom area with two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed. There are one double and two single closets, a good amount of drawer space, binoculars, a trouser press, and an ironing board. Each private balcony has a blue plastic deck covering, one deck lounge chair, one chair and table, and exterior light.
Standard outside-view/interior cabins. These measure about 175 sq ft (16.2 sq m), and have two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed, sitting area with a sofa and table, a vanity table/writing desk, and a private balcony with blue deck covering, two chairs (with a small recline), and a small table. A 110-volt (American) socket is located underneath the vanity desk drawer - a difficult-to-access position.
Outside-view or interior cabins. These have two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed, closet (but few drawers), and are 150 sq ft (14 sq m). The bathroom has a mini-bath/shower and toilet, or shower and toilet.
There are 22 wheelchair-accessible cabins, well outfitted for the physically challenged passenger and almost all within easy access to lifts. However, one cabin (D165 on Deck 8) is located between forward and mid-ships stairways, and it is difficult to access the public rooms on Deck 8 without first going to the deck below, due to several steps and tight corners. All other wheelchair-accessible cabins are well positioned, and eight have a private balcony.
Dining. The two main dining rooms (each seats about 525) have tables for two, four, six, eight, and 10. The midships Medina has a vaguely Moorish theme, and features ‘Freedom Dining’ - open seating for dinner - with Marco Pierre White dishes on gala evenings, while Alexandria, with windows on three sides, has an Egyptian theme (and two seatings for dinner). Both have more tables for two than in the equivalent restaurants aboard close sister ship Oriana. The china is Wedgwood, and the silverware is by Elkington.
Other dining options. You can also dine in The Glasshouse restaurant and wine bar (selected by Olly Smith); or Sindhu (on the upper deck of the atrium lobby), for an Indian-fusion menu designed by Atul Kochhar. Both are extra-cost venues and reservations are required.
Casual, self-serve breakfasts and lunches can be taken from the buffet in The Orangery, which has fine ocean views. Other casual dining spots include the Sidewalk Café (for fast-food items poolside), The Beach House (for lava-rock sizzle food), Champagne bar, and Raffles coffee and chocolate bar (but without the ceiling fans).
Entertainment. There is a wide variety of mainly British entertainment, from production shows to top British ‘name’ (and lesser) cabaret acts.
Spa/Fitness. The Oasis Spa is amidships on Lido Deck - almost at the top of the ship, just forward of the Crystal swimming pool. Facilities include a gymnasium with the latest high-tech muscle-pumping equipment. There is also a sauna and steam room (both unisex, so take a bathing suit), a beauty salon, a spiral staircase, and a relaxation area overlooking the forward Riviera swimming pool.