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Ship Visit to Aurora
P&O Cruises
 
Southampton - 29th September 2010
Report by Stephen Macey


AURORA at Korcula - Photo: ©2006 Ian Boyle
Photo: ©2006 Ian Boyle - AURORA at Korcula



     
AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - at Southampton Ocean Terminal
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Crows Nest Bar
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Stairwell artwork
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Riviera Pool
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Side Walk Cafe
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Crystal Pool
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Crystal Pool
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Terraced decks aft
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Terraced decks aft
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Pennant Bar
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Spa treatment room
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Spa relaxation room
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Instruments of torture in the gym
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Gym
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Piano Suite
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Piano Suite
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Inside Cabin
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Balcony Cabin
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Balcony Cabin
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Outside Cabin
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Lift/stairways
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Library
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Library
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Atrium bar
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey




AURORA - Photo: ©P&O Cruises - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Photo: ©P&O Cruises



Aurora – A Ship that Hits the Spot


In my experience, there is always something special about visiting, or sailing in a ship from Southampton, especially if the ship concerned is a P&O ship. I have been besotted with company since I was a child sailing in the Chusan, first Oriana and the Canberra back in the 1960’s and ‘70s.

Since those far off days, I have sailed in and visited many of the more modern ships operated by P&O and the company still holds a special place in my affections. In part this is due to fond memories of my late father who sailed in the Straths of the 1930’s for a pound a day and did line voyages out to Singapore in the 1950’s. His first voyage was as an infant prior to the First World War in the famous Rawalpindi, returning home from India with his father, a soldier serving in the British Army. I was brought up with tales of the P&O Line and feel that its heritage is a part of mine.

Wednesday September 29th 2010 was therefore an eagerly anticipated date, as I had been one of the fortunate people selected to visit the Aurora, under the command of Captain Peter Philpot. She had arrived in Southampton early that morning from New York having completed a cruise to the USA and Canada and sailed that evening on a seventeen night cruise to the Western Mediterranean. The weather on 29 September grey and wet, however there was a distinct spring in my step as I arrived at the new Ocean Terminal in Southampton to visit Aurora.


AURORA - Atrium - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - atrium
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



It is a sad reflection on our post 9/11 society, that the only decent photograph I could take of this beautiful ship was by poking my camera through the steel bars of a security gate, risking the wrath of the port security personnel. The innocent pleasures that shipping enthusiasts enjoyed not so long ago are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. My first impressions of Aurora were that she looks like a proper ship, a great white lady with buff funnel, sweeping terraced stern, towering proudly above berth 46/47in Southampton. She appeared to me to be an object of beauty and skilful maritime design. One could ascertain the quality of her build from the start. Her German builders have cause to be proud of their creation. I thought she was huge, but by current standards she is medium sized ship.

I had volunteered to assist in the visit by marshalling the OLS group together and had some amusing moments, while holding a home printed sign saying “Ocean Liner Society Aurora Ship Visit”. I felt like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, as not only did I succeed in attracting the attention of fellow OLS members, but also those of Bath Travel and Thomas Cook!. Fortunately for me, a very jolly, attractive young lady from P&O sorted them out and was of considerable assistance to me.


AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Crows Nest Bar
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



Having completed our security checks we proceeded to board the ship, passing a stream of disembarking passengers, none of whom seemed to have caught the sun during their passage from New York. I felt rather sorry for these people returning home to reality and a pile of laundry. The first sight of the ships interior confirmed my already positive impressions from viewing her exterior. We entered via the atrium, which has an imposing water feature flowing down some thirty feet through several decks of the ship. I was immediately impressed by the elegance of our surroundings. I was standing in a grand hotel foyer, looking up at marbled balconies with comfortable luxurious furniture. The style was that of a luxurious liner of the 1930’s, more Viceroy of India or Queen Mary (1) than some of the newer ships on the block. However, the traditional surroundings were not in the least staid and the ship has all the facilities that contemporary cruise clients demand and a wide range of interior styles to cater to all tastes. This was the major impression of my visit; Aurora caters to a wide audience and does it well.

Our party were whisked up to the ships forward observation bar, the Crows Nest by our guide, a member of the shore side staff. If I had one adverse observation to make about our visit, it would be that we were rushed through it and I got the impression we were regarded as bit of a nuisance. In fairness to our guide, this was a docking and sailing day, which involves considerable effort from the ships company, but I found some of the injunctions to keep up and stay together to be slightly annoying. The Crows nest occupies a far larger space than that in the Oriana and affords excellent views of the sea. Just the place to curl up with a book on a sea day, or enjoy the Panama or Suez Canal in air conditioned comfort. The art work reflects the heritage of P&O. There is a beautiful model of one of the Straths over the bar and lovely pictures of the original Oriana and Canberra.

We then saw the modern Cyber Centre where passengers can surf the internet and deal with emails. On feature Aurora has are hot spots for personal lap tops in the ship. So much for taking a cruise to get away from it all. This, although an excellent feature of modern sea travel, is perhaps one I would avoid. However, on a long cruise it could be invaluable.


AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Crystal Pool
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



Our tour proceeded to the open decks, which were among the best I have encountered in a cruise ship. There was plenty of space, good quality deck furniture and swimming pools. One at the stern, which was for children and families and two on the upper deck, the Crystal Pool, with a magradome to make it usable in bad weather and the Rivera Pool. The feature of a magradome is excellent. There was a further pool near the Pennant Bar on the upper deck. Passengers are able to dine nearby in the evening at a grill area for £7.50. This must be rather pleasant in tropical climes. Nearby the Crystal Pool is the Side Walk Cafe, affording civilised dining facilities for those passengers preferring to stay on deck during the day. This is in addition to the Orangery Lido Cafe, a breezy modern space, providing alternative informal dining facilities. I was highly impressed with all of these areas, which in my view are vastly superior to those in Arcadia and a slight improvement to those in the Oriana. There are some lovely pieces of art work and sculptures to be seen about the upper decks, especially in the Crystal Pool area, which added to the impression of quality in the ship. Indeed, one feature of Aurora which struck me was the quality of her decoration and artwork throughout.

We were shown the ships spa with its relaxation area and a gym containing all the usual machines of torture, so beloved by some cruising folk. I was impressed with all these areas and interested to learn that personal trainers are on hand to provide individually designed fitness programmes. Although, not of huge appeal to myself, one can see the benefits to be gained here, especially to counteract the excellent efforts of the catering department.

We had an extensive tour of the ships accommodation from the Piano Penthouse to the more modest locations frequented by the likes of myself. I was struck by the similarity of facilities to be found in both Oriana and Aurora, not surprising as they were both built in the same yard. The overall impression was that of quality, good design, fittings and good use of space. I got the impression that with the exception of the highest grades, space was at a premium, however, would happily go around the world occupying the more modest cabins. The grandest cabin was the penthouse suite occupying two levels, a bed room upstairs with en suite bathroom and living facilities on the lower level. Although impressive, I considered the suite to be strangely crowded and far preferred the balcony staterooms or mini suites. I am sure the bank manager would agree an academic debate really!


AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Artwork
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



Our tour also took in the ships public rooms. Due to the fact that she was turning around, many were not in use and in the process of being cleaned. Our progress through all these areas was rapid. However, the overriding impression was a favourable one. Public areas are combined with different styles to appeal to different types of people. I loved Andersons Bar, a space which would have seemed strangely familiar to an Edwardian gentleman travelling to India a century ago. However, the Champions Bar would satisfy the trendiest of customer. Aurora is very versatile in this respect.


AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Piano Suite
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



We had a most enjoyable lunch in the ships Medina restaurant. The food, as one would expect was excellent and all the more so considering that the galley staff were preparing dinner for those people embarking that afternoon. I was a little surprised that we were not offered a glass of wine with our meal and felt that cutting a corner in this way was bad PR. However, the attentive steward from India made up this shortfall in spades. Among our party was a lady visiting with her son. She and her husband had been served by this gentleman on a previous voyage some time ago. Not only did he remember her, but he asked after her husband and was genuinely interested. This is typical of so many people who work on cruise ships. He and his colleagues are a credit to the company.


AURORA -Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Atrium
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey



All too soon it was time to disembark, Aurora to proceed to Cadiz, alas without me. My lasting impressions of Aurora are overwhelmingly favourable. She is a wonderful ship, well designed, and well built, with something for everyone. In my maritime hit parade of ships now in service Aurora is second only to the Queen Mary 2. Roll on sailing day!.


Stephen Macey
Ocean Liner Society.

07 December 2010.



AURORA - Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey - www.oceanlinersociaty.com
AURORA - Playhouse Theatre
Photo: ©2010 Stephen Macey





AURORA at Calvi - Photo: ©2004 Ian Boyle
Photo: ©2004 Ian Boyle - AURORA at Calvi





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