By Peter Newall
All images copyright Peter and Julie Newall unless otherwise noted.
Peter Newall takes his first P&O cruise, an eighteen night return voyage from Southampton to Venice, aboard the charming and stylish AURORA.
Tied up at Dubrovnik
At 76,152gt, the sixteen-year-old AURORA is the perfect mid-size cruise ship. She is also the final ocean-going P&O passenger ship completed for the venerable Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company which was established in 1839. P&O Cruises, which had been demerged from the P&O group, was taken over, along with Princess Cruises, by the Carnival Corporation in 2003. Built at Papenburg, Germany by Meyer Werft, the £200million AURORA is an improved and more streamlined version of ORIANA (1995/69,840gt), P&O’s first purpose-built cruise ship. However, unlike ORIANA, which has variable-pitch propellers and direct-drive engines, she has fixed-pitch propellers and diesel electric propulsion. She is a fast ship with a cruising speed of 24 knots. On trials, she achieved an impressive 29 knots.
Approaching Cape Town in her original P&O colours. Photo courtesy of Andrew Ingpen, Ocean Images Cape Town.
Another major difference between AURORA and ORIANA was the distinctive duck-tail stern which provides added stabilisation. A duck-tail was added to ORIANA in 2011. With 9,200 square metres of open deck space, AURORA seldom feels crowded. I have never been on a ship with so many wooden decks. 3,730 square metres of Thai teak decking has been fitted throughout the ship.
The open access terraces.
Seven of the eleven passenger decks are open at the stern which features a magnificent, horse-shoe shaped terrace overlooking the Terrace Pool. Another rarity on a modern cruise ship is the ability to access all these decks by outside stairs.
The gentle art of deck quoits.
The traditional sports areas are at the after end of Sun Deck 13. On the port side is the shuffleboard court whilst the starboard side is laid out for deck quoits.
The crew vs. passenger’s cricket match.
Abaft the funnel is a court for ball games, netball and cricket. There are also golfing practice nets and a golf simulator.
The Crystal Pool looking aft.
The largest of AURORA’s three pools is the 10 metres long by 6 metres wide Crystal Pool on the Lido Deck 12. This all-weather pool has a retractable Skydome. At the forward end of the pool is a perfectly balanced bronze sculpture, Pearl Diver by Allan Sly.
The Riviera Pool.
The terraced, 9 metre long and 6 metres wide Riviera Pool is sheltered from the elements by large screens.
One of the best features on AURORA is the wide wrap-round promenade Deck. Not only is it well sheltered but it also has easy access from all the main public rooms and dining areas.