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P&O Cruises: Aurora

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Aurora Review

Instantly recognizable with her elegantly tiered stern, the Aurora is a large resort ocean cruiser, designed for cruisers who prefer to embark and disembark in the United Kingdom. Offering good value for money, the traditional cruise format appeals to individuals, couples,

families, and groups seeking worldwide destinations. Very British in atmosphere and ambience, the dining, entertainment and activities aboard are what one would expect from lively restaurants, theaters, and recreation hotspots found on U.K. shores. Families are welcome and can enjoy a special children’s program, club, and dedicated pool.

Aurora is a bit more formal than fleetmates Arcadia and Oceana but has superb facilities for children. Adjacent to the playroom and teen center, parents and kids have a dedicated area at the ship's stern with its own pool, hot tub, and table tennis area. There's even a bar nearby and waiter service for when you're thirsty. Aurora is so family-friendly that there’s even a baby monitor in every cabin. Not merely kid stuff, Aurora has much to offer for adults. Interiors are designed in such a way that spaciousness prevails, while public rooms are quite distinct.

The centerpiece of Aurora's impressive four-deck-high atrium is a lovely sculptural Lalique-inspired waterfall. Relaxation is easy in the comfortable surroundings of Anderson's, a mahogany- paneled lounge that has a fireplace. From the vantage point of the Crow's Nest, enjoy spectacular sunsets. Head to upper decks for a tennis court, golf simulator, and third pool with sky dome. Other facilities include a virtual reality arcade, broad teak promenade deck, 12 lounges/bars, and a comfortable cinema that doubles as a concert and lecture hall.

Since 1937, P&O Cruises (originally the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) has been a force in passenger shipping. Although the company's suggestion that they invented leisure cruising cannot be proven, P&O is assuredly a pioneer of modern cruising. The company acquired Princess Cruises in 1974. P&O then purchased Sitmar Cruises and merged it with Princess in 1988, and the passenger-cruise business—known as P&O Princess—was spun off in 2000.

P&O Cruises is the oldest cruise in the world and remains Britain's leading cruise line, sailing the U.K.'s largest and most modern fleet. The ships are equipped with every traditional big-ship amenity, including swimming pools, stylish restaurants, spas, bars, casinos, theaters, and show rooms.

Seven ships in the P&O fleet offer a diverse range of venues for relaxation and entertainment, including cocktail bars, nightclubs, cinemas, games rooms, and cabaret lounges. Enjoy live bands, dramatic musicals, and deck parties, cabaret singers, comedians, specialty acts, classical recitals, and concerts. Theme evenings include tropical, 1960s and '70s, or Black and White Ball. Other activities include quizzes and panel games, with prizes awarded to winning teams. A select number of itineraries offer the opportunity to spend the evening, or even overnight, in port.

An abundance of balcony and outside cabins on P&O ships ensures that a view to the sea is never far away. Accommodations, from inside cabins to lavish suites, cater to a wide cross section of budgets and tastes. In the interest of passenger health and safety, smoking has been prohibited indoors, including in all cabins and suites and on private balconies. Outdoor smoking venues are published on board.

To offer passengers a variety of choices, P&O has adapted their fleet to match the preferences of their primary markets. Although most of the ships cater to families as well as couples and singles of all ages, Arcadia, Adonia, andOriana are adults-only ships. The Aurora, Azura, Oceana, and Ventura complete the P&O armada and welcome both adults and children. Following customer feedback, P&O announced major refurbishments for the Ventura, Oceana, and Arcadia in 2013.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • No cost for use of saunas and steam rooms
  • Formal night dress codes are strictly enforced throughout ship
  • A complimentary mineral water and amenities “pamper pack” is in all cabins upon arrival

Cons

  • The small fitness center has a very limited number of machines and workout space
  • For a family-friendly ship, there are few interconnecting doors between cabins
  • Special event cakes, specialty coffees, bottled water, and ice cream are no longer free
  • Ship design may feel dated
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 850
  • Entered Service 2000
  • Gross Tons 76,00
  • Length 886 feet
  • Number of Cabins 939
  • Passenger Capacity 1,870
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Mar 29, 2006

Canary Islands

Passengers on the Spanish ship, moored in front of us in Madeira, probably already knew that the British are patriotic - and quite mad! Or, at least, that is what it must have seemed to them when 1,500 or so, of us, suddenly appeared on the decks of our P&O cruiser, waving Union Jacks, and singing “Land of Hope and Glory” at the tops of our voices. Emboldened by copious amounts of the local, fiery, wine, we

urged the Spaniards to fetch more of their countrymen and women, from their cabins, to witness our departure from their island, to Southampton. A Liverpool Magistrate, Yorkshire doctor, Scottish Laird and a pensioner from Bournemouth were among our group on Deck 12 of the enormous liner Aurora, which had spent the previous three days in the Canary Islands. A lady called Janet, who has walk-in parts in Casualty, had left her husband back in Bristol, and was intent on having a good time with her daughter - “Hang the cost, you only live once,” she declared, waving her new sailor’s hat aloft! The smell of delicious food wafted from the nearby restaurant as more passengers turned out for the sail-away, reminding us all that our fifth meal of the day was imminent. Breakfast, morning coffee and biscuits, lunch and afternoon tea had already been disposed of - together with a special buffet for chocoholics - and 20 or so chefs were busy preparing the five course dinner. “We always choose first sitting,” one lady passenger, with 22 previous cruises under her belt told me. “It gives us time to take in the late show, and then visit the midnight buffet. You can get food 24 hours a day on here you know.” My wife and I had already reduced our P&O special breakfast - consisting of cereals or porridge, fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, liver, beans, bubble and squeak and mushrooms - to a slice of toast and marmalade, abandoned lunch on most days, and still struggled with the evening meal. The food was simply too delicious for our rapidly expanding waistlines, although we did manage to visit the Indian Buffet, where excellent curries were served on a speciality evening. Maybe because the majority of crew members were Indian, a curry was served as an alternative at every onboard lunch, and were the best I have ever tasted. Both of us had cruised before, with various companies, but P&O was in a class of its own when it came to feeding time. In addition to two main restaurants, The Aurora boasted The café Bordeaux, Orangery self-service area, Sidewalk café with a burger and fish and chip shop, and other intimate areas where you could book an even more special meal. All this backed up with round-the-clock cabin service. We joined the ship in Southampton for a 12 night cruise which took in Vigo, Lisbon, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Grand Canaria and Madeira, and included six full days at sea. And from the moment we arrived at the Mayflower Quay, the service was awesome! Our bags were whisked away by helpful staff, who ushered us into a huge waiting area, and then onboard to the Crows’ Nest - the very top lounge on Aurora’s Deck 13, where Champagne and sandwiches were waiting. A second, and third glass, and then down two decks to our cabin - double bed, settee, dressing table, ample storage space, and a balcony with two chairs. I find the bathroom has a real bath in addition to a shower - but the tub was not built for someone of my height or stature! Tables in one of the restaurants are allocated to suit your own requirements - First and Second sittings for dinner, with various sized groups sharing the arrangements. We were placed on a table for four with a very nice Scottish couple. If you don’t get on with your companions, staff will arrange for a discreet move. It did happen onboard, but not to us! Breakfast and lunch are open sittings, so you get to meet some of your fellow passengers, and discuss your experiences - moans and praise are dished out in equal quantities. But quite frankly there is very little to complain about a holiday experience which offers five star accommodation, six star food, entertainment and excellent companionship - and all in a hotel which floats from country to country as you relax and watch the world go by. Cruising used to be a rich man’s privilege - but these days there are ships offering bargain breaks to suit almost everyone’s pockets. It is the fastest growing part of the travel industry, and new vessels are being launched as fast as they can be built. The price you pay depends very much on the type of ship, and cabin, you choose. Cunard still has the class system - the bigger the cabin, the more luxurious the food and facilities. But P&O, like many other companies, offers everything onboard to every passenger, whether you happen to be sharing an inside cabin near the waterline, or living it up in one of the lavish penthouse suites. Generally, the rule is ,the higher the deck the greater the cost, and investing in a room with a view, or balcony, adds to the bill. Many new ships are built with balcony cabins, because most passengers now enjoy having their own bit of deck space - sitting in the sunshine, overlooking the ocean, as a port approaches, or the sun sets in the distance, is magical. The great thing is that you don’t need money aboard the ship - just your credit card! You produce your cruise pass at bars and shops, and everything is added to your shipboard account, which you settle on the last day afloat. We bought drinks from the bars, drank wine with our meals, used the onboard dry-cleaning service, topped up with duty free items, and collected gifts from the shops, and ended up with a bill for £238 - less than £20 a day. We did spend some cash onshore, but you don’t need to dine out because your ship usually docks within walking distance of the towns - or a free shuttle service is provided as an alternative. With an average of eight hours in each port there is plenty of time to visit shops and attractions, or alternatively take part in the organised excursions, which have the advantage of a local guide, and sometimes include samples of local cuisine and wines. We usually prefer to walk or take local taxis for our excursions, and there are always plenty of drivers waiting for your custom when the ship arrives. For sea days there are plenty of things to do onboard - no British ship would sail without offering bingo, bridge, roulette, blackjack and slot machines. The Aurora had a magnificent gym, well stocked library, deck games, three swimming pools, sauna and hot-tubs - bars, lounges and even a pub! To our shame we watched two films on the television service in our cabin. Nightly, live shows, cinema, lectures and dance instruction are also available, together with a beauty salon and art gallery. I must give a special mention to the facilities for children and disabled passengers provided on The Aurora. The youngsters have their own area of the ship, with trained and dedicated staff to look after them. I am told there were 200 of the little darlings on our cruise - we hardly saw anything of them, but could hear their whoops of delight as they enjoyed the entertainment. Disabled passengers whizzed by in their wheelchairs and on electric scooters. Special cabins allow these vehicles to be taken onboard, and where needed, four hefty crew members are on hand to help passengers and their transport, on and off the ship. Leaving the Aurora was sad - but also efficient. It took just three hours to unload 2,000 passengers and their luggage in Southampton, and within 10 hours of arriving she was back at sea, with new guests, heading for Gibraltar. I talked to at least 200 of the people onboard, and couldn’t find a single person who had not been with P&O before - need I say more! Mervyn Hancock and his wife Susan were guests of P&O Cruises. Their 12 night voyage from Southampton to the Canary islands on Aurora, in a twin bed, balcony cabin with shower and bath, cost £3,500 after a 45 per cent early booking discount. The price included all food. Drinks onboard were slightly cheaper than ashore, and you add around £4-50p, per passenger per night for gratuities - but these are at your discretion.

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  • New

Jul 5, 2000

Tour of ship (Skandinavienkai, Travemünde, Germany)

On July 6th, 2000 I was given the opportunity to visit P&O Cruises' M/S "Aurora" during her call at Travemünde (Germany). This is a brand-new ship that inaugurated only two months earlier. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) is considered a pioneer of the earliest hour in leisure cruising, with the first cruise carried out in the second half of the 19th century. UK-based P&O Cruises is one of the company's affiliated cruise

lines, the others being US-based Princess Cruises, Germany-based Aida Cruises with Seetours International, Australian-based P&O Holidays and UK-based Swan Hellenic Cruises. All ships but one ("Victoria") in the P&O Cruises fleet bear mythological names, and "Aurora" is no exception, as the name Latin name Aurora plays an important role in several ancient mythologies: To the ancient Greeks, Aurora (known as Eos) was "the rosy fingered dawn with the snowy eyelids bringing the first glimmer of the day." She was the sister of Helios, the Sun god and Selene, the goddess of the Moon and resided on Mount Olympus, the legendary home of the gods. Every morning she rose from the ocean into the sky sometimes as a winged goddess tilting an urn from which fell the morning dew, sometimes mounted on Pegasus, the winged horse, but most commonly riding in a purple chariot drawn by two horses. Far to the North, the Slavs believed that "Aurora (or Zorya) of the Morning" opened the gates of the celestial palace to allow the sun to set forth on its daily journey across the heavens. Across the world in the South Seas, the legends of Melanesia also revere the goddess of the dawn. Aurora is probably best known as the term for the spectacular displays of the Northern and Southern Lights; Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis respectively. Both phenomena can take a number of forms - vertical rays of white, tinged with green, gold or red, being the commonest. In other formations the rays appear to meet overhead in a star-like shape, ripple upwards, or rise from curving bands. Let's take a look at "Aurora's" - naturally rather short - curriculum vitae: In April 1997, P&O Cruises announced plans for a new 76,000 gt cruise ship. The order went to German yard Meyer Werft in Papenburg on the river Ems, which had built the company's "Oriana" in 1995. One year later, in May 1998, steel cutting started for yard number 640, witnessed by Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Construction began at the end of that year. In August, 1999 the yard's covered building dock was flooded and in January, 2000 "Aurora" was floated out stern first from the dock and positioned to a fitting-out berth. In February, 2000 a slow passage down 45 kilometers of the river Ems from the Meyer Werft yard took "Aurora" to the seaport of Eemshaven in The Netherlands, where fitting out continued and which was her base for sea trials that were carried out in February / March. "Aurora" was handed over to P&O Cruises on April 15th, 2000 and immediately departed for her home port of Southampton. On April 27th, she was officially named by HRH, The Princess Royal. Only 18 hours after the departure to her maiden cruise on May 1st, a propeller shaft bearing overheated and the vessel had to return to Southampton. The damage was that extensive that "Aurora" had to be taken into drydock at Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg (Germany) for repairs. Those repairs were carried out quickly and allowed her to depart on time for her second cruise. For a tour of the M/S "Aurora" from bottom to top, let's start on Granada Deck (4). The ship's well-equipped Medical Center is located forward, while the rest of this deck is a "crew only" area. Passengers board the M/S "Aurora" one deck up on Formosa Deck (5), either at the lowest level of the Atrium or more aft at the midships staircase. Inside and outside twin cabins are also situated on this deck. The Atrium is four decks high and features a 35 ft. tall Lalique-style sculpture of a water bearer by British artist John Mills, which is framed by a water curtain. The Reception Desk is located in the Atrium Lobby. While the Atrium is beautiful and classic there are no elevators nearby. Warm, colors in combination with blue are dominant onboard "Aurora", and there are lots of gold tones. A grand staircase in the Atrium leads up to Ellora Deck (6). "Aurora's" shopping center is situated around the Atrium on this deck and the deck above. As we were in port, it was naturally closed. On port side, the shore excursion office, Explorers, is found. Forward of the midships stairway, inside and outside twin cabins are located. Those include eight Cat. LC outside cabins and one Cat. OC inside cabin that are wheelchair-accessible. While it was generally not possible for me to take a look at "Aurora's" cabins as I visited her during a cruise, it was possible to look into some cabins while they were cleaned. The standard "twin cabins" seem to be quite spacious and are laid out in light tones. Britons usually have a high need for safety (much higher than e.g. Germans) and therefore it should be a very welcome extra that all cabin doors feature a spy-hole. All cabins have a coffee or tea making set, which should also be well appreciated by the mainly British passengers. Aft of the midships stairtower, the Medina Restaurant is found. This dining room accommodates 525 passengers in two seatings and has a Moorish theme, that is subdued and in no way obtrusive or kitschy. The number of tables for two is good and there is ample space around each table. All the way aft, the Alexandria Restaurant with windows on three sides is located. As the Medina Restaurant, it accommodates 525 passengers in two seatings but it features an Egyptian-influenced décor. It is lighter colored than the Medina Restaurant and the wrap-around windows give an airy feeling. Both dining rooms feature a grand staircase. One deck up on Promenade Deck (7) a large number of public rooms are situated. All the way forward the wonderful Curzon Theatre is found. This is the ship's primary showroom and features good sight lines from all seats (theatre- not lounge-style seating that is). Only the emergency lighting was on when I took a look into this large room and it was too dark to take a photo. Nevertheless I was quite impressed with the Curzon Theatre and the red seating reminded me a bit of that in the Saga Theater aboard the S/S "Norway". The stage is huge and should work very well for production shows. Next aft, Anderson's resembles the fine atmosphere of an early 20th century British club, complete with mahogany paneling and even a fireplace. The beautiful and colorful carpeting resembles the look of expensive Oriental rugs. This is really an elegant room and one of the most "British" places onboard the "Aurora". Further aft on port side, Charlie's is P&O Cruises' first champagne bar. The combination of leather, marble and an Atrium view create a posh atmosphere. This is the place where people meet "to see and to be seen". Masquerade, the ship's nightclub, is located aft of the midships stairway. This is a futuristic place which is spacious and well suited for late-night entertainment and comes complete with a dance floor and high-tech equipment. Adjacent to Masquerade a grand staircase leads down to the Medina Restaurant. Next aft, the Art Gallery is situated on port side. Naturally the displayed art can be bought at those beloved (or loathed) art auctions. Monte Carlo Club, "Aurora's" casino, is located adjacent to the Art Gallery. It is small given the size of the ship, but most European passengers are far less passionate gamblers than Americans or Asians. The room itself is quite nice, and neither too bright nor too dark (either seems to be a problem with most shipboard casinos). Next to the casino, Champions, the vessel's sports bar is found. Unlike its counterpart on the "Oriana", this sports bar does not have the traditional cricket theme, but feature memorabilia from several events. There are, however, not that many TV monitors, and the use of sports memorabilia is not that effusive. Whether that's good or not depends on one's personal opinion. All the way aft, Carmen's is "Aurora's" main show lounge (in contrast to the theater all the way forward). Again, lots of gold tones in combination with blue are evident. There's a large dance floor as well as a well-sized stage. I was able to attend a rehearsal of a performance that features the music of the legendary band "Queen" and was very impressed. The wide teakwood promenade on this deck is completely wrap-around, and has lots of seating, in contrast to so many other ships today. There is even a good number of teakwood chairs, while the plastic loungers at least have thick cushions. There are also some wooden benches with the ship's name carved in the backrests - wonderful! One deck up, on Devanha Deck (8), inside and outside cabins are located forward of the Atrium. The Library, Writing Room & Cyb@study is situated adjacent to the Atrium on starboard. There is an impressive array of books and there's even a librarian. Multimedia computers and writing desks complete this room that has a charming and cosy atmosphere because of the warm (neither bright nor dark) shade of the wooden cabinets and desks. Opposite of the Library, Raffles Court, a fine specialty coffee and chocolate bar is found. The selection of different chocolates and other goodies that have about sixty million calories is extensive, as is the choice of different coffees, espressos and cappuccinos. This is definitely a place I would have to intentionally avoid during a cruise, otherwise lots of chocolates would change ownership. :o) Did I mention that the area feature warm wood tones, as well as blue and gold tones? Vanderbilt's, a huge card room, is located next aft. The picture only shows about a third of this really big room. Passengers can register for tournaments in several different parlor games. According to the lists put up in the room, this offer is very well accepted by "Aurora's" passengers. Adjacent to Vanderbilt's, The Playhouse is situated. This is combined concert hall / cinema, as it is rarely found on today's cruise newbuilds. The room has comfortable seats and features an unobtrusive décor with gray being the dominant shade. The Café Bordeaux, P&O Cruises' very first 24-hour bistro-style restaurant, is located next aft. In the center of this room, a spiral staircase that is crowned by a chandelier leads down to Promenade Deck. Café Bordeaux features a marble floor, leather chairs and fine artwork on the walls. The room is very elegant for a casual eatery, and does not whatsoever have the feeling of a cafeteria. It's good to see that P&O Cruises makes it possible to its passengers to dine in such fine surroundings. The aft section of Devanha Deck accommodates excellent facilities for children and young families. Toybox is for children under five, while Jumping Jacks caters to the six- to nine-year-olds. Quarterdeck is reserved for 10-13 year olds, and older teens are able to set their own pace in Decibels that comes complete with the latest Karaoke and music equipment. Toybox and Jumping Jacks each have an adjacent outdoor deck area and an own partitioned off Paddling Pool. A night nursery for under-fives is also available and Intergalactica, an interactive games center, completes the exemplary children's area. During times of the year, the Terrace Pool, which is located adjacent to the children's facilities, is reserved for young families. This is a great idea, as parents can keep an eye on their kids while passengers who want to be left in peace can use the other pools and the adjacent sun decks without children being a pain the neck to them. On Canberra Deck (9), Britannia Deck (10) and Arcadia Deck (11), passenger accommodations are located. There is a wide range of cabin categories, and most of the outside cabins have a private balcony (the balconies of the standard twin cabins are very small, however). Two spectacular duplex suites have two-deck-high windows that overlook the bow of the ship. Those penthouses also feature a baby grand piano, as well as a private library and two balconies. Butler service is available for suite passengers. There are two self-service launderettes (one on Canberra Deck, the second one on Arcadia Deck) that can be used free of charge by the passengers. A welcome touch, as this ships often operates longer voyages. M/S "Aurora" features an expansive fitness and spa area, which extends over two decks. The lower part, which includes Weights & Measures, an aerobics room and a gymnasium, is located on Arcadia Deck, adjacent to the Riviera Pool, that is situated between Arcadia Deck and Lido Deck. The upper part of the fitness and spa area is found on Lido Deck (12) and includes the Hair Saloon, Beauty Rooms and The Oasis with saunas and steam rooms. The two levels are connected by a spiral staircase. All the way forward on this deck, "Aurora's" command bridge is located. Aft of it, some inside and outside cabins are found. Forward of the fitness and spa area, the Riviera Pool is situated. While the upper pool and sun decks do not feature a teakwood decking, there is at least no hint of Astroturf, that tends to absorb water like a sponge (and tends to give it off when someone walks over it after a rain shower). P&O Cruises has also tried not to let the open decks look monotonous by e.g. adding yellow "sunbeams" to the red decking around the Riviera Pool. On starboard side, the Sidewalk Café is located next aft. It offers light meals as well as fast food favorites. Further aft, the Crystal Pool is found. In another "first" for P&O Cruises, the pool area features a retractable "Magrodome". The pool is of a generous size with a ample space for sun-worshippers nearby. A 10 ft tall bronze sculpture of a pearl diver by British artist Allan Sly is situated at the exit of the pool next to two Jacuzzis. The Orangery, "Aurora's" buffet restaurant, is located next aft. In contrast to its counterpart onboard the "Oriana", this casual eatery has been greatly expanded to reflect the huge interest of today's cruise passengers in casual buffet breakfasts and luncheons. The Orangery's décor is supposed to span the colors of the rainbow, and accordingly the room is really colorful without looking "restless" or "Carnival-like". There are several buffet stations in contrast to the long buffet lines often found on other ships. Seating is in several (partially separated) areas, each having an own self-service beverage station. On some evenings, The Orangery is open for themed dinners, with live music and dancing on a small dance floor. All the way aft on Lido Deck, the outdoor Pennant Bar is found. One deck up, on Sun Deck (13), The Crow's Nest, the ship's observation lounge, is located all the way forward, overlooking Aurora's bow. It is a wonderful and elegant room, that cleverly combines the festive décor with the wrap-around walls of glass. The artwork in The Crow's Nest features paintings of former P&O vessels including the first "Oriana" and the unforgotten "Canberra" that was retired in 1997. Adjacent to The Crow's Nest, two small rooms for private functions, the Uganda Room on starboard and the Himalaya Room on port side are situated. Both rooms are named after P&O passenger ships of the past. The 27,955 gt "Himalaya" entered service for P&O in 1949 and was retired in 1974, while the 14,430 gt "Uganda" originally entered service for British India Steamship Corporation in 1952. In 1972, that company's fleet was taken over by P&O. The vessel that served as a cruise ship for students since 1968 participated as a hospital ship in the 1982 Falkland War, before being finally retired in 1986. The Sun Deck is the right place for sun-worshippers. Aft of the funnel, a netted Sports Court complete with Golf Nets as well as a Golf Simulator are situated. Popular shipboard games like deck quoits and shuffleboard are of course also popular. The aft open decks are laid out in an amphitheater style - a beautiful sight! The small forward-only Observation Deck (14) offers spectacular views over the bow of the ship . "Aurora" features a futuristic mast that actually consists of two u-shaped tubes. During my visit to the M/S "Aurora", lunch was served and I decided to check out The Orangery. I have to say that I had been skeptical about the food in the up-run. This is a ship that caters to British passengers and except for the great British breakfasts the Britons seem to have a totally different taste than my person. :o) Well, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and taste of the food offered. The freshly carved rack of lamb was delicious (although I went without the mint sauce), as was the Moroccan lamb casserole with fresh and dried fruit, that was served with couscous. A wide choice of cold cuts, salads and desserts, as well as favorites like French Fries and pasta completed the lunch buffet. Thumb up for the buffet food! This time it is easy to draw a final conclusion: The M/S "Aurora" is a wonderful and important addition to the world-wide fleet of cruise ships and to the British market in particular. The ship tries to cater to the traditional British passenger as well as to families with children - and it does it very well. The facilities for children are exemplary and the very best I have ever seen. There are classic and traditional rooms as well as futuristic ones. Four marine architects and designers, Swedish Tillberg Design, its affiliate SMC Design, Yran & Storbraaten from Norway and John McNeece designed "Aurora's" exteriors as well as her interiors. I would sail aboard "Aurora" in a minute. While she is not perfect (there is no perfect ship), she's a very good cruise ship. Please note that my review can of course only cover the ship's "hardware" and not the "software" (i.e. the level of service, food, entertainment etc.). I'm sure international passengers will be having a good time aboard this ship. One should, however, note that this is a rather formal ship. While Britons tend to dress very casually during daytime, many of them love to dress up at night. As a result, there are normally five formal nights, five semi-formal nights and only four casual nights on a two-week cruise. Therefore the ship cannot be recommended to those who demand a casual atmosphere. I'd be glad to receive your comments, questions etc. upon this review. Please feel free to get in touch with me! Raoul Fiebig

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