Biscay Cruise (Part One): The Run Up and Embarkation



I have just returned from a seven day cruise on the P & O ship Aurora.  Our journey took us through the Bay of Biscay to Northern Spain and the west coast of France.  While the crossing of the bay itself was damp, blowy, and at times rough, each port proved sunny and very pleasant.

As we were departing from Southampton on the Sunday, my wife and I set out Saturday so we could be rested on the embarkation day.  We had booked a room in the Days Inn at Winchester services, so checked in, and went to our budget room.  We had never previously stayed in a Day Inn, so there were some things we had not expected. First, there is no decor, and not even drawers or a closet. Plain white walls, a couple of hooks with hangers on the walls, a desk, a TV and a bed. The bed was overly firm, and made for fairly uncomfortable night’s sleep.  Breakfast was from the Costa Coffee at the adjoining services.  All in all cheap, basic, and not to be repeated.


We arrived at Southampton Docks about noon, and were met by the porters and parking team, who took our luggage and car respectively, and we were shown into the terminal.  The mobility assistance team were great and checked us in quickly and assisted us onto the ship after a brief security check.

When we boarded the cabin wasn’t ready quite yet, so we were taken to the Alexandria Restaurant where a welcome aboard buffet and a drink had been put on for Peninsular Club members.  We had a light snack and our cabin was soon ready.  We were on Deck 11 midships and while the cabin was a small inside one, it had a comfortable bed, a small settee, and loads of wardrobe and drawer space.


Cabin A227

There is always the muster/lifeboat drill to deal with, and this was done well with the minimum of disruption.  We went to our muster station and were briefed, and then the captain spoke over the intercom giving us our welcome, and some general ship’s policies.  All in all, one of the better drills I have experienced.

We then settled in, unpacked, and went for a small exploration of the ship before our first night’s dinner (casual).  We had a nice 4 course meal (starter, soup, mains, and dessert) and then were off to bed to make up for the poor night’s sleep on Saturday.  The following day would prove to be a blustery one on the Bay of Biscay, but that’s a different story.



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