First Cruise – Won’t be the Last
Elizabeth Coyle | October 2, 2018 | P&O Cruises | Aurora
This was my first time on a cruise, so opted for a mini one (3 nights/4 days to Bruges in Belgium. Travelled along with 8 other friends, a couple of whom had cruised before on the Aurora. Everything they said heightened my expectations, but I have to say I wasn’t disappointed at all. The public areas and facilities on the Aurora were stunning – well maintained, spotlessly clean, and very comfortable. The cabins were spotless and very comfortable, but I felt the d??cor slightly out of date. However I am aware that the Aurora is undergoing a major refurbishment in November 2014 ready for the winter season, so the cabins will then be updated. Everything on about the trip was first class: from the seamless and efficient process at the P&O terminal to drop of our cars and luggage, the smooth check-in process at the terminal, going on board and finding cabins etc where friendly staff were always on hand to help you. I really enjoyed the fun of the sail-away party out on deck, where we had glorious sunshine to see us depart from Southampton. The entertainment and activities on board were fabulous: we enjoyed live shows and music, cinema, spa, dance classes, pub quiz, live band every evening, and late night discos. There were loads of other activities on board for other interests, but I didn’t have time to experience them. Special mention should go to the live band “Caravan” who were fabulous to dance to, as well as just sit and listen to in the main ballroom. There were so many areas to sit and chill out in various bars, something for everyone depending on your taste of music or however lively or quiet you wanted it to be. We were extremely lucking with the weather for October and were able to take strolls out on deck each morning, and sit out on deck in the sunshine to enjoy the outside bars. The food on the ship throughout out trip was tremendous. The catering team were able to accommodate my gluten free diet easily and I didn’t miss out at all for any meals and was even able to enjoy all 5 courses on the gala night. There are so many different places and options for eating that guests are spoilt for choice. We opted for somewhere different each day. My only slight negative point is that we were a party of 9, yet the largest table was set for 8 for lunch and breakfast, and the restaurant teams wouldn’t allow us to add one more place to the table so we could all sit together. We were told we would block the walkway, but actually there was plenty of room. We had a booked table for 9 people each night in the main restaurant so it wasn’t an issue there. The formal night was spectacular, where everyone dressed up in black tie and cocktail / ballroom dresses. It was so lovely “dress up” and everyone made the special effort. There were an odd few people who turned up in jeans, but I thought the restaurant staff could have been stricter with the dress code, as they would have been aware in advance and there definitely should not have allowed jeans!! There were plenty of other places to eat on board where formal dress was not required. Our trip to Bruges was lovely. We didn’t do an organised trip but took the shuttle bus to Blankenburge and got the train ourselves into Bruges. It’s a very beautiful and pretty city to mooch around and enjoy the Belgian chocolate and beer. Special mention should be made of the staff aboard the ship. Every single member of staff was friendly, courteous, helpful and knowledgeable (apart from the one man who wouldn’t let us add one more seat to our breakfast and lunch table). Customer service was excellent, they were all dressed in immaculate uniforms. I was impressed with the strictness for hygiene on board the ship, particularly as some years ago another ship’s passengers were struck down with the noro virus. Staff were at the entrance to each restaurant asking guests to use the antibacterial handwash on arrival and departure. Pubic areas and toilets were kept spotlessly clean. I was aware of one person having sea-sickness, and the carpet area was immediately sealed off and steam cleaned within a very short space of time. So, all in all, it was a really pleasant first experience on a cruise, and the service and facilities offered, will encourage me to try a longer one next time. Thank you to all the staff on and off the ship who looked after us so well.
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