Silver Travel Advisor Alan Fairfax writes his daily Blog from the deck of the P&O Cruises’ Aurora on his 17 day Mediterranean cruise. He gives a day by day account of life on board this classic ocean-going vessel.
As eluded to yesterday we are today at sea heading through the deep blue waters of the South East Mediterranean. After leaving La Goulette yesterday we passed to the north of Malta and the south of Sicilly on our course of 90 degrees to Heraklion where we are due arrive tomorrow morning at 8am. The sky is 25% cloudy but the temperature is a very pleasing 25c and the sea state is given as ‘Slight’ with a Force 3 wind. It is quite breezy on deck as we are travelling at nearly 22 knots so combined with the wind speed we have a wind speed over the desk of about 30 knots.
Breakfast today showed Scrambled Egg with Smoked Salmon mixed in. Being a bit cheeky I asked the waiter if I could have just the Smoked Salmon. ‘I’ll ask the chef’, was the reply. A few minutes later he was back and my Smoked Salmon was OK’d. After my usual fruit juice and Fruit Compote a dish of Smoked salmon arrived with Lemon and Tomato as requested. Well done P&O Cruises.
It was then on deck to find sun loungers for wife and friends before I set off for the gym. Yes, the gym, well I did promise didn’t I. The gym is called Weights and Measures and is situated on deck 11. Comprising of running machines, bikes and ski walkers together with machines for toning muscles it is certainly well equipped. I was surprised how busy it was. Obviously a lot of the younger passengers take their keep fit seriously. I left after a few minutes and have to admit that I didn’t feel any better for my visit!!! Don’t think I will bother again.
On sea days the crew do their best to lay on activities for the passengers by way of lectures on various subjects and classes that teach you how to paint or play bridge. On deck you can play quoits or golf and cricket in the nets on deck 13. Being Sunday the Captain holds an Interdenominational Church Service.
Lunchtime finds me at the Sidewalk Café. This is situated on deck 12 and deals in Burgers, Hot Dogs, Fish and Chips, Pizzas etc. It is all fresh cooked which creates a bit of a queue at lunchtimes but it is worth the wait. On a sea day the main problem is finding a table as it is a popular venue especially with its wooden tables and chairs by the large windows giving lovely views out to sea.
There have been various sittings of Dolphins but as always someone sees them and by the time others get to the rails they have gone. This is also a busy shipping lane with numerous tankers, container ships and general cargo vessels plying their trade.
Tonight is another Formal Night so yes you’ve guessed it, time to visit the laundry to press the dress shirt and trousers.
Just a few quick facts. Aurora was launched in 2000 and carries 1950 passengers in a mix of Suite, Balcony, Outside View and No View accommodation. Attended by a crew of 850 the ship is 270 metres long and 32 metres wide. 3 swimming pools one of which has a sliding roof so that it can be open or closed according to the weather conditions.
Today we have been in Heraklion on the beautiful island of Crete.
We were due to berth at 8am in sunshine but instead we had rain and a 30 knot wind that made docking more difficult. Eventually we securely tied up and those on tours went ashore to their coaches. Having waited for the rush to ease we made our own way to the quayside where we boarded a shuttle bus to the terminal building. However we were still a 20 minute walk from the town. In fairness it was a pleasant walk along the shoreline where fishermen were selling sponges at a cost of 4 and 6 Euros.
The main town of Heraklion is situated at the top of a long slope so for those of restricted mobility it was quite testing. At the top the first thing you see is the Morosini Fountain, a popular landmark and meeting place in the old town. Built in the 17th century to commemorate the opening of the aquaduct that transported water from the mountains to the city, the base has eight lobes that are decorated with figures from Greek mythology. The upper basin is supported by 4 marble lions.
Further on we discovered the market selling everything from vegetables to well known designer goods. The vegetables were definitely genuine!!! It was then into the supermarket to stock up on diet coke and tonic water as on the ship you can only buy the small cans which are 90p each. Time for coffee at a local bar in the market. The coffee was strong, just as I like it but at 2.25 Euro a cup??? At least we were able to shelter here from the rain that had started. Luckily it only lasted a few minutes so that we were able to continue our walk of the town.
Next stop was the Church of St. Titus. The interior can only be described as beautiful with the engraved wood panels enclosing murals of the saints and the wood chandeliers.
Unfortunately it was then time to head back o the ship so we set off on the sea shore walk back to the terminal building for the shuttle bus. For anyone visiting the port there is free Wi-Fi in the terminal building and no need to obtain a password.
We sailed on time with a tug assisting us due to the high wind. Tomorrow we are in Izmir, Turkey.