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The Aurora - Owner P & O Cruises

We have had four cruises on the Aurora, it is possibly our favourite ship because of the very good wheechair accessible facilities. Our first was a return trip of 22 days to the Caribbean from Southampton in 2002. We subsequently made two further cruises, both to the Mediterranean, one in 2010 and the other in 2013 and in 2019 we embarked on a winter cruise of 55 days. On our first two trips we had cabin C177 but this was not available in 2013 so we had cabin C152. Both cabins have balconies and the only difference between them is from which side the toilet transfer can be accomplished. Facing the toilet, C177 is right hand transfer, C152 is a left hand transfer. In 2019 we had an outside window cabin, E175, which was slightly smaller and did not have a balcony but was still well appointed.

The Aurora is a mid sized family ship of 77,000 tons and was launched in 2000 and has 22 wheelchair friendly cabins of varying grade all of which are very much in demand. They are very often fully booked as much as 12 months in advance so if one of these is required it is advisable to book very early.

Both cabins C177 and C152 are located on deck 9, E175 is on deck 6, all are excellent. Entry to all is gained using a key card and the wide door opens and closes automatically. These cabins are larger than normal to accommodate a wheelchair and with all our cruises we have the twin beds pushed together to give a king sized double. This leaves more useful space to manoeuvre. In all, the bed heights were right at 19/20 inches and there was ample cupboard/drawer space and a full length mirror. The only very minor drawback on our first two cruises was there was no low wardrobe rail and the cabin safe was a little difficult for a wheelchair user to operate. On our 2013 and 2019 cruises, C152 and E175 had a low wardrobe rails and the safes had been located to a more convenient location. We assume these minor alterations have also been applied to the other wheelchair accessible cabins. All of Aurora's cabins are provided with ample 13 amp 230 volt square pin sockets. It is therefore an easy matter to recharge any wheelchair or scooter batteries.

A drawback with the cabins on "C" deck is the position in relation to the two main dining rooms which are located on deck 6. The Alexandria is located in the stern and is the furthest away. The Medina is located amidships and is closer but to get to either of these dining rooms to avoid any obstacles in the corridors, e.g. service trolleys, requires using either a lift down to deck 7, or up to deck 12 and travelling along these decks to use another lift to descend to deck 6. In busy periods this can be a little frustrating trying to obtain wheelchair space in the lifts. The cabins on deck 6 (E) are more centrally located and provide easier access to the facility decks.

The ensuite bathrooms were excellent, you could not fault them and, on this ship, P&O have really paid attention to the needs of a non ambulant wheelchair passenger to which they prefer to allocate these cabins. A wide bathroom entrance provides access to a 20 inch high toilet, plenty of grab rails, sink with knee space underneath, large useable mirror, non slip floor and a roomy wheel in hand shower fitted with a fixed bench seat. A free standing shower chair is availble if requested in advance.. Even with the ships motion, both seats proved safe to use and the design of the shower's drainage ensured only the area within the ample shower curtain ever got wet. Should you require help, an emergency cord is available. We required no extra aids but we understand that if you do, P&O can arrange their hire.

The ship itself is easy to get about. Only the very top most small 'Sky Deck' is not wheelchair accessible. Automatic opening doors provide level access to most decks and wheelchair accessible toilets are available in all public areas. Entertainment areas, restaurants and bars are all accessible. Wheelchair spaces are available in the cinema and the theatre. However, the ramped access to both these is steep and being carpeted is very difficult for a solo wheelchair user to negotiate. A power chair helps. Regretably none of the three ships swimming pools were accessible in 2002 but when we again travelled on Aurora in July 2010, a pool hoist had been fitted to the midships Crystal Pool which we did make use of.

The food and service were good and all dietary needs can be met if they are given notice of requirements before sailing.

Pictures of the cabins used and the ship facilities can be viewed in the Aurora's photo gallery. but please note since 2002 when most of the photos were taken, refits have changed the livery and decor. In 2019 Cafe Bordeaux had become the Glass House, the library had become the Sindhu restaurant, the library relocating to Deck 13 and the Orangery is now the Horizon Buffet and Beach House restaurants.

Cruises taken on the Aurora:

Caribbean Christmas 2002

Mediterranean 2010 and 2013

Amazon Adventure winter 2019

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