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  1. The Salt & Vinegar ice cream was actually fine (but I like Garlic ice cream also which I tried on the Isle of Wight!) although Rum & Raisin was my favourite. As a point of interest, all ice creams are bought in ready made. They are not made on the ship, as we had thought. The Lobster that was on the Chaines de Rotisieurs menu was superb (especially given that they served 600 of them that night) and solved the mystery as to why it no longer features on a Marco Pierre White menu. Sindhu was certainly full during the evening of the Tasting Menu (the last Friday) but we didn’t rate that menu having tried it. As I mentioned elsewhere I believe the reason that the Glasshouse is always underused on Aurora is due to it’s location as it has minimal passing footfall. We used the Beach House a couple of times and that wasn’t full either. It has always felt to me that on cruises where the average age of cruisers is older (as was the case on this cruise) a lower percentage of passengers use the Select Dining Restaurants. We both struggled with the mattresses and woke up with back ache, but I note that there is a rolling replacement programme of the mattresses on Aurora, so perhaps ours had yet to be changed.
  2. It’s still not terribly popular, but I think that’s due to its location on deck 8 as there is hardly any passing footfall, so people don’t think of it. As always, we went straight to the Glasshouse for lunch when we embarked and, again as always, were the only people in there as nobody knows it’s open. Lovely way to avoid the bun fight that is the buffet following embarkation (and we don’t rate the priority boarders snacks and cheap plonk in the main dining room). We went a couple of other times for lunch and would say that there were no more than 3 or 4 other tables occupied. Busier in the evenings but nowhere near full. Have to say we like it that way. We dislike busy (and noisy) places and are more than happy to have a place to ourselves!
  3. As the OP, I thought that I should report back that we have just returned from 19 nights on Aurora. As we are regular cruisers on Aurora (7 cruises over the past 2 years) we were looking out for the changes, but I would say that they were mostly very subtle. As a point of interest, even though we were technically on the 2nd cruise after the refit, a senior officer told us that we were really on the first post refit cruise as a lot of workmen were still on board during the previous cruise and were working until the end of it! The most obvious change was the new carpets, pretty much throughout. In spite of a lot of negative comments about them in this thread, we thought that they all looked fine. The Glasshouse looked quite different, with new tables and chairs, a new layout, a screen splitting the area that runs along the outer side and improved window coverings. We preferred the old setup, but it was OK. The area around the new cabins looked fresh (as you’d expect) and the deck area outside was laid to look as though it had been there ages, to match the rest of the ship. Looked fine. Frankly, the other changes around the ship were so minor as to not warrant mentioning. As for cabins, they’ve done half a job. New carpets but still the dated looking (and creaky) cabinetry and (noisy) drawers remain. The bathrooms still have the vile peachy pink suite although white soft close toilet lids have been fitted and the lighting has been replaced with very bright LED lights. I found them unbearably bright when you switched the light on if you got up when it was dark and your eyes were in night mode, but my wife liked them. As for the much anticipated new TV’s, we had a big disappointment here. The large screen wall mounted TV’s were only installed in balcony cabins upwards. Word of warning for those who book one of the 8 accessible balcony cabins though. For reasons that are not clear (and we couldn’t get an answer on board), these have NOT been fitted to these cabins, even though all standard balcony cabins of the same grade have. Lower grade cabins (and the 8 accessible balcony cabins) have had new very slightly bigger TV’s installed but they are half the size of the TV’s in balcony cabins up. They are still rubbish. Poor picture and sound quality. P&O penny pinching I’m afraid. So, in summary, the ship is definitely refreshed but is still an old lady. We like her though. As for passenger profile, we didn’t get quoted an average age on this cruise, but I would say it was just over 70. We are in our 50’s and didn’t find it a problem as the passenger profile on this ship is always excellent and very different from the newer ships.
  4. Ah, I see. Doubt we will go beyond Caribbean then. On our current level of cruises we would certainly meet the Baltic criteria, but we think that we are likely to be reducing our cruising frequency after next year as we are starting to struggle to find itineraries that are of enough appeal to us, having done most of the regular ex Southampton routes a few times each.
  5. I thought that the number of cruises in 3 years only applied to Ligurian Dai. Is there a condition on Baltic as well?
  6. Interesting. We got a balcony cabin on the Maiden cruise for £125 pppn, taking into account OBC (as I always do to compare prices, given P&O’s tactic of price goes up, OBC goes up, price goes down, OBC goes down). The Aurora cruise we have just been on was £102 pppn net of OBC and next summers Aurora cruise was £158 pppn - same grade balcony cabin, both booked at launch.
  7. A week? Have things improved? I’ve known them take 6 weeks and once we never even had a reply! We turned Caribbean mid cruise so will get the half bottle of bubbly next time. I hadn’t appreciated that having taken ages to get to Caribbean, when we finish our next 3 cruises over the next year we will only be 4 nights off Baltic. I only thought of it when the Captain mentioned at the Peninsular drinks how many passengers of each tier were on board. There were 50 percent more Baltic passengers than Caribbean.
  8. Interesting. We had a male deck manager visit after I raised it the first time on the First Impressions form, but purely to see what we were complaining about. Once I explained he said he would find out and get back to us. Never saw him again. Raised it on the mid cruise feedback. Nothing. Asked Reception to get the deck manager to contact me. Nothing. On the final feedback form I made the point that I don’t appreciate being ignored. I wondered if the big screen TV’s were only in Superior Balcony and above but I made a point of looking in balcony cabins that were exactly the same grade as ours and all had the large TV’s. We spend a lot of time in our cabin and were really looking forward to the big screen TV’s.
  9. Yes John. 5.14pm Monday. Haven’t had time to fill it in yet. Very nice cruise but we were miffed that the accessible balcony cabins had not been given the new wall mounted large screen TV’s following the refit that ALL other balcony cabins and above had. Tried 3 times to get an answer as to why and they just ignored me. I made the point that there is tons of wall space above the 3 seater sofa and being 50% wider cabins the bigger screen TV’s would have been much appreciated. That will be going on my feedback.
  10. They both turn up in person to the premiere on each ship, and Stephen Mulhern did a Q&A with the Entertainment Manager and both he and Johnathon Wilkes came on stage after the show. After the premier on each ship it’s just Mulhern on the video wall.
  11. We've never bothered to pre order wine in Freedom Jean. The wine waiters appear fairly quickly once you are seated and we didn’t have any delays on our recent cruise. Part used bottles are stored and returned to whichever table you are next on, exactly the same as club. They give you a ticket and you simply hand it to the next wine waiter. All very simple.
  12. You are of course entirely correct that tips are no longer required or expected. However, your second comment would only be correct in so far as Iona is concerned. Many people (especially those who have cruised for years) will still want to tip great service and, as Andrew says, those in Club dining are far more likely to do so. As a result, waiters will still want to be rotated between freedom and club on ships that have both, as they do now.
  13. Iona is certainly being priced very keenly for 2020. Sadly this hasn’t been the case with Aurora. Our 2020 cruise on her is significantly more per night (allowing for the net price after OBC) than the one we have just come off (same cabin, both booked at launch). Suspect that it’s a combination of service charge being recouped, the move to adult only and the fact that Oriana will be no more.
  14. Re the USA & Canada cruise last year, we were on that one too and we found the same as the others above that six sea days in a row were just too much, given that we find the P&O ‘entertainment’ of very little appeal. We wouldn’t do another transatlantic unless there were stops both ways (Azores etc). At least we now know that we would never want to do a World cruise!
  15. We were on the same cruise as well and can confirm that Jean isn’t exaggerating about Civitavecchia. I have a lot of even more impressive photos and some video as we were on the ship throughout (like Jean, unable to get off). Might try to post one or two but might get in a muddle. The small silver Audi A2 on the quayside ended up severely damaged. The constant battering of water on it gave it a dented roof (that sea water was pooling in) and trim hanging off it. By the time the owner returned the weather was back to normal and they must have wondered what on Earth had happened to it! The three very large tugs were going full pelt on our starboard side all day and struggled to keep us against the dock all day. The Deputy Captain told us that the ships thrusters can only hold the ship against up to 20 knots and, as Jean says, it was 70 knots. Like John, we didn’t have any issue with sound volume whatsoever and went to all the shows Jean referred to. We are in our 50’s so no major hearing loss (yet!) but none were too loud for us. I do know that some folk with hearing aids find them too loud because they need to turn their hearing aid volume down and don’t (no offence meant Jean, I’m sure that’s not the case with you and your travel companions). Maybe it varies depending on whereabouts in the Theatre you sit? The Captain is indeed marmite. Again, like John, we liked him because he’s very visible around the ship and he gives out lots of interesting info about the route etc but I know that many didn’t. He’s certainly controversial and said a number of things that we found amusing but can very easily see how others would have been offended. Although he is amusing, he repeats the same gags over and over again. Here are some of his lines from the cruise.... ”I hope that we will be able to let you go ashore in 5 or 10 minutes at the speed of a thousand gazelles” ”The Deputy Captain did very well getting us onto the berth this morning, so I shall be placing him on his changing mat later and tickling his tummy as a reward” ”As we leave Lisbon you will see the statue of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies” (Note - like Jean, we aren’t religious but winced at that one knowing that religious types would have been deeply offended) ”We are late leaving Seuta as the tour returning from Morocco is stuck at the border with one gentleman haggling over how many camels he can trade his wife for”. This was followed later in the evening with “Enjoy your dinner. I’ve missed mine so will be having a cold camel sandwich” and on the last night with “Those of you picking up your car at Southampton tomorrow may experience some delays (Note - instant alarm as all passengers start to worry) - the gentleman who traded his wife for three camels has to work out how to get them in a Ford Fiesta” A couple of classics from the Peninsular drinks; ”If you don’t like something, don’t post it on Cruise Critic. Tell us and give us a chance to fix it. If we don’t, then go ahead. But I don’t care then as we’ve had your money” (Note - I raised an issue three times and they didn’t resolve it so it will be in my review Captain!) ”Thank you for paying for my mortgage this month. Those of you who cruise regularly also paid for an extension on my house last year” There were lots more, but the one that made us laugh the most was his running gag about “those down in Super Super Saver having to row hard tonight”, not because it was funny (when you heard it very day) but because he upset some sniffy people on the lower decks and when he was told he just ramped it up a notch - or two. He just didn’t care! Mid way through the cruise we spoke to him just after a gentleman was lecturing him about the fact that at the Baltic lunch there had been much displeasure from some about him deriding those on lower decks as being in ‘Super Super Savers’ and “don’t you know Captain that some of us prefer to be down there”? We were fascinated to see what he would do the next day and roared with laughter when he went up a gear and thereafter referred to those in “down in Super Super Super Savers needing to row even harder”. To rub salt in the wound, on the last night he finished his last broadcast with “A special thank you to those in Super Super Super Saver who have worked very hard rowing throughout the cruise and, next time, if you pay a bit more you can go on a higher deck and let someone else do the rowing”. Didn't know that Paul Ludlow was on board, but we always comment on how many senior officers stand around the edges of the Peninsular drinks parties and talk to each other rather than to passengers. I guess that if the top man does the same they don’t really want to know what us mere mortals think!
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