Aurora 30 June 2018

4 Night Amsterdam cruise

Southampton, Bruges, Amsterdam, Southampton 

Our thirteenth cruise together

Aurora was our thirteenth cruise sailing to Amsterdam.

Cabin

A128 – Interior cabin at the front of the ship.

Royal King Size bed, TV, telephone, minibar, bathroom with shower, vanity area and a hair-dryer.

This cabin was an interior cabin and was quite small, probably one of the smallest cabins we have ever stayed in but it was clean and had all the amenities we required. Plus the cabin was not along one of the busier corridors which are used to get to parts of the ship so was quite away from traffic.

Our cruise adventure log    

We chose to go on a cruise to visit Amsterdam as we have never visited Amsterdam before so we were both excited to see what all the buzz is about from the famous Red Light District to the cheese which they make and sell.

Day 1 – Boarding the ship at Southampton

Before boarding the ship as we could not board until 2pm we went and grabbed some lunch from our favourite eatery in Southampton The Pig in the Wall.

The food was great like usual.  We both highly recommend.

Upon arriving at the Southampton terminal we could see Aurora and even though small she looked lovely.

We then drove into a large hanger a bit like one which planes go in.  It was quite amazing as there were buntins of the English flag hanging from the ceilings making all of us cruisers feel very welcome and special.

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Boarding Aurora we was quite surprised in how modern the interior looked considering she is reasonably old.  We both loved the main feature within the centre of the ship of the green lady.

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We then went to our cabin to unpack our small suitcase and whilst doing so our main suitcase arrived which has to be the fastest turn around ever so we was pleased as we could unpack that case straight away.

Then we went and explored the rest of the ship.  We was highly surprised by all the rooms/areas as everything looked modern and there was so much light and large windows in most areas.  The Horizon (buffet area), Crows Nest (bar area) and the pool area all had large floor to ceiling windows making light pour in and giving a great view.  I think this is what P&O’s newest ship Iona might look similar to.  The only room on the whole ship that looked quite dated and a bit dated was the library however this gave the library a more authentic feel and class.  Most certainly the best library we have ever seen and one that actually looked like a Library.  From library books that can be hired and even DVD’s.  The only thing that I did not like whilst exploring was that to get to most different areas of the ship you have to walk down the corridors of peoples cabins to get to certain parts.

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After our exploring it was now time for the fire drill so to the muster station we headed.  In our case our muster station was at the theatre which we was both happy about as within the theatre there is lots of seats and they are very comfy ones at that.  After a run through in what to do in case of a ship’s emergency we was then told how to put on a life jacket.  To us this is quite boring as we have learnt this time and time again but it is vital for everyone to attend even though you know the drill and it is mandatory for everyone one to to and attend.

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After the drill we then went onto enter the Spa’s raffle.  We have done the raffle time and time again and have never won.  We really was not bothered if we did not win this time around as it was a short cruise so we really did not want to spend time in a spa but as we love competitions we just had to still enter.  Surprisingly this time around we could not believe it however there was a catch.  The voucher even though was for £50 of spa treatment it could only be used for one of the speciality spa treatments unfortunately all came over £50 so we opted for the cheapest spa treatment of a ‘Pro Collagen Grooming Treatment with shave’ which obviously Jason had done.  So he booked this in on Day 2 before getting off to visit Blankenberge.photo-30-06-2018-17-25-56.jpg

In the evening we went to the main dining room this time instead of having free time dining we chose to have fixed time dining so this way we will always be at the same table without panicking or waiting to dine.  Before this though we originally found out that our table of two was in the centre of the restaurant which we was not best pleased about considering we booked over a year ago.  However we was told that this was easily changed if their was other spare tables so luckily there was a spare table available next to the window which we said yes to straight away as I in particular love to watch out for dolphins whilst dining even though I knew that I most would probably no see dolphins in Amsterdam’s sea I still looked out for them.  Anyway whilst dining we were both pleasantly surprised as the food was piping hot and even the plates were hot.  Usually when dining, freedom dining the food is luke warm.  Now if the food was hot due to this being a fixed time dining and dishes having to be ready for that time rather than various times or because it is a smaller ship who knows but we was both thoroughly impressed and will be booking fixed time dining in the future.

After dinner we went and saw Micky Zany a stand up comedian.  His jokes were ok but not that great, we have watched better comedians and magicians on board before.  We also think he made some people feel uncomfortable by picking on them or pulling them down to sit in the front. After having a little giggle to Micky’s jokes we then headed off to the casino.

To my disappointment there was no screen showing which numbers have come out at the Roulette table.  So it was all a matter of luck when playing the roulette on this cruise.  I personally always feel that the screens help as I think there is a pattern and without the screen it was harder to figure out.  So I did not win this night.

Afterwards we then went and played an 80’s Music Quiz which was ruined by a rowdy crowd of men and woman that kept on singing the whole song practically and giving away the answer to everyone else whom was trying to have a serious game.  These quiz’s are to win a bottle of wine at the end of the day so we was not best pleased the quiz was ruined it became more like a karaoke event in the end.  Also the entertainment man on the night kept loosing which question / tune he was to play next.

After a disappointing quiz which was totally ruined we then decided to call it a night and head to bed.

Day 2 – Bruges

Today most people decided to head off to Bruges but as we have done Bruges before we decided to visit the seaside town but before that it was time for Jason to get pampered in the Spa area.

Here are some of the stages which he went through.

He is looking Smokin (as Jim Carrey might say)

It was then off to grab a free shuttle provided by P&O to the seaside town of Blankenberge.  We was initially under the illusion that the town was going to be small but wow we was highly surprised it was massive.  The sandy beach was so wide 350 m long in fact.  Plus the beach was so clean and there was even shells making this beach a pleasure to walk along and hunt shells on.  Apart from the sandy beach though there are many shops to buy clothes and chocolates from and there is a even a long art-decopier and the Belgium Pier which was constructed in 1933.  So if you have been to Bruges before then I highly recommend a visit to Blankenberge instead.

Whilst walking back from this beautiful beach we came across a Beach Fish Spa which Jason decided to try out.  His initial reaction when putting his feet in amongst the fish was hilarious. He said it felt like pins and needles with Chewbacca boots on hooked up to electrodes.

In the afternoon we decided to board back on the ship to make use of the swimming pools whilst quite.  Most pools are quite cold but the adult only pool the Riveria was very warm making it nice to stand in.  However with the sun being ever so hot it was nice to swim in the colder pools on this occasion.  Plus whilst chilling on the lido and swimming in the pools it was quite surprising to see how many cabbage white butterflies were flying around some even kept on landing in the pool which I kept on rescuing.

However I could not save them all as at the end of the afternoon when getting up to go back to the cabin I saw many butterflies dead on the decks unfortunately the heat had got to them too much.

As this was formal night it was on with our best attire for the night.

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For tonight we ate for starters salmon, Beef Wellington which Marco Pierre White designed for P&O’s formal nights and a lush moose dessert and apple tart.

 

We then went and watched the Headliners Theatre Company show Fantasy.  The story was quite good in how an old nightclub had been given to this man’s nephew and niece and how they were pondering what to do with the club if to turn into flats or something else.  However with the ghosts of past disco there minds were soon changed around to restore the club to its former glory so it was dance, dance, dance and singing all the way.  However the only thing that let this production down was the lame acting by the actors however the dancers were good and the costumes were colourful and really did make you think back about the decades of disco.

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For the rest of the evening we went and had a little flutter at the casino roulette but did not stay too long as was being over taken by a lot of rowdy men and woman so it was hard to try and enjoy it.

Day 3 – Amsterdam

Today was the day we get to see Amsterdam which we have heard so much about and we decide that we would take in the sights of Amsterdam via a river cruise and segway.

Before arriving though I decided to take the Captains Advice and get up really early 4am in fact to take in the passing sites going up into Amsterdam. Left Jason in bed.  So I went out in my PJ’s to take it all in.  However the vies was not as spectacular as what I was initially hoping to see.  I saw industrial buildings, many warehouses and some turbines. Least I got to see a nice sunrise though.

Now in Amsterdam and after a hearty breakfast it was now time to see what Amsterdam has to offer.

Firstly did you know that Amsterdam is the capital and most populous municipality of the Netherlands. The port of Amsterdam to this day remains the second in the country, and the fifth largest seaport in Europe. Famous Amsterdam residents include the diarist Anne Frank, artists Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza.  Plus Amsterdam is known for it’s cheeses.

Once we stepped off board we went to the desk at the cruise terminal to book a mini canal cruise with Stromma as booking direct rather than through P&O excursion desk you can get it a lot cheaper.  The cruise only cost us €15 each and all we had to do was walk down the road to grab the cruise from.

The cruise was pleasant enough however the whole cruise boat was covered and had windows so there was no uncovered space to sit out in which was a disappointment as it was boiling hot today and we would of rather sat outside to take in the rays of the sun and get better shots from all angles whilst sailing down the canals.  However we were stuck inside with a small window which could be open but only giving me a small space to try and manoeuvre to take photos.  However we did sort of enjoy the river cruise regardless that we were inside but it was not like what we thought it would be and the views along the way as were not that spectacular or interesting.  however I did like listening to the history via the headset which we was provided.

After we then went on to take our segway adventure. Usually we both love Segways but with their being so many cyclists on the road and knowing that the cyclists if they get hit or hit anyone they are always protected made this Segway adventure a very scary one.  Everywhere we went cyclists kept on cutting in front of us and getting really near us made this a very scary experience.  A couple of times we had to brake fast or steer to avoid cyclists.  So we both could not really take in what we saw when riding along the streets the only time we took in something was when we stopped at certain locations.

So even though the guide was knowledgeable and a very nice man and even diverted to take Jason to see the James Bond house location from Diamonds Are Forever, we did not find this Segway tour a pleasure unfortunately but that is not his fault.

We then went on to look at the famous Red Light District. It was not as raunchy as what I initially thought but then we did go during the day.  The women we saw though were very pretty and made us wonder why they do it.

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We then went and looked at the shops well by shops I mean we went in a number of cheese shops to taste cheese, so it was a cheese fest. We tried so many different cheeses from hard goats cheese to a pesto flavoured cheese.  All were so interesting we even bought some cheese to take home.

After being cheesed out we then topped it off with one of their most famous ice creams Van der Linde it was the best and most delicious vanilla ice cream we have ever tasted.  we both highly recommend.

Now after stuffing our self we then boarded the ship and went and got dressed for dinner.  We went and ate at the Beach House today.  How we ate that evening we don’t know but then we love the Beach House food as we just love our lava steaks.

Was very pleasant also eating outside looking over Amsterdam.

For the evening we went and saw Micky Zany again as there was not much else happening.

After Micky we went on to see Tom Crosbie who was performing in Carmen’s.  He is a performing nerd as he calls himself who has superpowers as he can solve a Rubik cube in a matter of seconds, is outstanding at maths and has an exceptional memory.  So he was amazing to watch he even done a mathematical trick with me all to do with my birth date.

He also created a picture of the famous Einstein who he is inspired by out of Rubix cubes and the other side of the Rubix cubes was a picture of Donald Trump.

We then went and retired to our cabin.

Day 4 – still in Amsterdam

As we stayed overnight in Amsterdam port we was still in Amsterdam.  We decided not to get off today as we did not particularly like Amsterdam as we feel it was too busy for our liking so we had a lie in before heading off to breakfast.  We then went and played a game of Quoits for the first time.  As I am hopeless at throwing the game did not really go as planned.

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We then went and played a quiz on Action and Adventure movies which we scored 14 out of 20 which was a lot lower than what we thought we would do but then most questions were on who directed the movie etc and we know more about the actors/actresses of movies.  Was still good fun though.

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Then we went and had some lunch at the Glass House of our favourite haddock and chips.

We then went and made most of the pool area and chilled around the Riveria adult pool as the other pool areas had quite a lot of rowdy people around and in them.  Whilst sailing out of Amsterdam we could lie on our lido and watch Amsterdam go by as the windows in the area are large, floor to ceiling in fact.

The evenings dinner was pleasant and the food was great.

We then went on to watch a performance by The Vintage Boys in the theatre as The World Cup football was being shown practically everywhere else and we are not keen on football.  The Vintage Boys were quite good.

We then went on and had a drink in the Crows Nest.

Then we headed off to the Champions bar to play a Decades Music Quiz however the match between England vs Colombia had overrun and went to extra time and eventually penalties so the quiz was cancelled.  So even though we don’t like football we decided to stay and watch a bit and the game went into penalties. England won and the people in the bar area went wild.

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So at this point we decided to retreat to our cabin.

Day 5 – disembarking the ship at Southampton

This morning it was time to disembark for home.

We will miss Aurora as she was a beautiful ship and her facilities and areas on board were lovely even though the layout was a bit odd.

Highlights and negatives

Highlights

  • The Juke Box was free to use
  • Blankenberge was an amazing seaside town
  • The Crows Nest

Negatives

  • Amsterdam we did not like as too built up and busy for our liking
  • Entertainment not that great compared to other shows we have seen before

Tips

If you don’t like the table you have been given for your fixed time dining you can change this on your first day at the restaurants reception.

You can remove your gratuities and pay as you please.  See the reception to fill out a form to remove.

 

Have you sailed to Amsterdam before and if so what did you think?

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