MV Aurora (2000)
Aurora at anchor in the Santorini basin, showing post 2014 livery.
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany|
|Laid down:||15 December 1998|
|Launched:||18 January 2000|
|Christened:||27 April 2000|
|Maiden voyage:||1 May 2000|
|Length:||270.0 m (885 ft 10 in)|
|Beam:||32.2 m (105 ft 8 in)|
|Draught:||25.9 ft (7.9 m)|
|Speed:||24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)|
MV Aurora is a cruise ship of the P&O Cruises fleet. The ship was built by Meyer Werft at their shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. At over 76,000 tonnes, Aurora is the smallest and oldest of six ships currently in service with P&O Cruises. She officially entered service with the company in April 2000 and was named by Anne, Princess Royal in Southampton, United Kingdom. Aurora was refitted in 2014, during which the ship is the first of P&O's ships to receive an updated British Union flag design on her bow and her funnel repainted from yellow to blue.
Aurora is a mid-sized cruise ship, with an overall length of 270.0 metres (885 ft 10 in), moulded beam of 32.2 metres (105 ft 8 in) and draught of 7.90 metres (25 ft 11 in). Her gross tonnage is 76,152 and her deadweight tonnage is 8,486 tonnes. The ship can accommodate up to 1,878 passengers in 939 cabins, with a maximum crew complement of 936.
Aurora is powered by four MAN B&W 14V48/60 medium-speed diesel engines with a total power output of 58,800 kilowatts. These engines provide power for various ship's services and for two STN AEG propulsion motors. The propulsion motors drive two propellers, each of which measures 5.8 metres (19 ft 0 in) in diameter. For manoeuvring, the ship has three bow thrusters and a stern thruster. The ship's service speed is 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph), though during sea trials she reached a maximum speed of 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph).
Aurora was designed to appeal to the British market, and was built as an extended and improved version of P&O Cruises' Oriana. The ship's hull and superstructure were designed to be attractive to this market with features similar to more traditional ocean liners, such as her raked, tiered stern.
Construction and naming
The ship was christened on 27 April 2000, by HRH Princess Anne. The champagne bottle did not shatter when it hit the ship's side and fell unopened into the sea. This type of occurrence is considered a bad omen among seafarers, and this incident has been blamed for the numerous setbacks that Aurora has encountered throughout her career.
Aurora departed on her maiden voyage on 1 May 2000—a 14-night cruise to various Mediterranean destinations. The ship's crew identified a major technical problem, and the cruise was abandoned after 16 hours at sea. The cause was a propeller shaft bearing which had been damaged by overheating and required urgent repair while the ship was out of service.
On 3 May 2000, the ship returned to Southampton, where passengers disembarked. Passengers expressed disappointment about the incident but reported that they were mainly satisfied with P&O Cruises' response to the situation. P&O Cruises offered all passengers a full refund and compensation package, worth about GBP£6 million.
Pamela Dream rescue effort
In March 2001, Aurora was sailing through the Taiwan Strait on her first world cruise when she was called to assist Pamela Dream, a Cambodian registered ship crewed by Russian officers and crew which had capsized in rough seas. Aurora launched her fast rescue boats to retrieve survivors from the water. The crew were able to retrieve three survivors. A crewmember described the sea state as "very rough, with waves of about 5 m (16 ft)". One of Aurora's propellers was damaged by flotsam, an inspection of the propeller was carried out in Singapore where it was polished by divers. The damaged propeller was eventually replaced in dry dock in Southampton in December 2002.
World Trade Center attack connection
On the morning of 11 September 2001, Aurora was positioned approximately 80 miles south of New York City and 20 miles east of Atlantic City, New Jersey while a conference of IT executives and vendors was occurring on board. The ship had embarked from Pier 88 in New York City on the evening of 9 September. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center that morning, there were concerns for the safety of the then British-owned ship. U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and vessels briefly protected the Aurora until it was determined that the vessel was not in danger. The ship was planned to return to Manhattan on 12 September but due to the closure of New York Harbour the ship instead travelled at full speed to Boston to disembark its passengers before the Port of Boston shut also. Originally the U.S. Coast Guard requested that Aurora left US waters, but, with so many New York citizens aboard special dispensation was made to allow the ship into Boston to disembark US passengers. Many of the executives on board were from the banking and financial services industries, and it was estimated that as many as 50 executives worked in Tower 1 and Tower 2 of the World Trade Center and adjacent buildings. Reports from conference attendees were that several executives on board were in communication via cell phones with their staffs in both Towers 1 and 2 who eventually perished in the collapse of those buildings.
During a cruise around the eastern Mediterranean in October 2003, over 500 passengers suffered stomach infections caused by the highly contagious Norovirus. During the outbreak, the ship's passengers were denied the right to land at Piraeus, Greece, as the ship was held in quarantine. Aurora departed from Piraeus on 31 October having loaded medical supplies.
On arrival in Dubrovnik, Croatia, a health inspector boarded the vessel and ordered the sick passengers to remain in their cabins "as a precautionary measure". Those unaffected by the virus were allowed to leave the ship. There was uncertainty as to whether the ship would be allowed to dock in Gibraltar, the next scheduled port.
Aurora was allowed to dock in Gibraltar on 3 November. A small number of passengers who were still recovering were required to stay on board. Passengers who went ashore were required to leave their passports behind. One passenger had died from a heart attack, unrelated to the norovirus breakout. The Spanish government decided to close the border between Gibraltar and Spain on advice from its health ministry. It was reopened a few hours after Aurora departed from Gibraltar. The incident caused some diplomatic tension between the United Kingdom and Spain.
Aurora returned to Southampton on 6 November, where passengers disembarked. There was a widespread expression of disappointment, with some passengers threatening legal action against P&O Cruises. P&O Cruises said that while they would not offer a standard compensation package, cases would be considered individually.
World cruise 2005
In January 2005, Aurora began a 103-day world cruise with more than 1,700 passengers on board. While bound for Madeira, the ship repeatedly had problems with one of the propulsion motors. Since the problems could not be solved quickly, the world cruise was abandoned. During the ship's time waiting in Southampton, passengers were offered free drinks in the onboard bars and were able to exit the ship at any time. Passengers were also permitted to cancel their booking for a full refund. After P&O Cruises cancelled the cruise, the company donated all of the food purchased for the trip to local charities around Southampton. Aurora set sail for a dry dock in Bremerhaven, Germany, where her damaged motor would be removed and replaced.
The planned world cruise hence affectionately became known as a voyage around the Isle of Wight or "the largest ever Isle of Wight ferry". The cruise was also dubbed the "World Booze Cruise" as the Company offered free drinks, free excursions and a 50 percent discount for the 2007 World Cruise after reimbursing all the fares for the 2005 World Cruise. P&O Cruises also arranged for entertainers such as Elaine Paige and Paul Daniels to come on board.
The cancellation of the cruise is reported to have cost the company GBP £25 million.
World cruise 2009
During the 2009 World Cruise, Aurora again experienced problems with her propulsion system shortly after leaving Sydney, Australia. The ship continued to Auckland, New Zealand, to undergo repairs. The ship left Auckland for Hawaii on 12 March 2009. More than 600 passengers on the 93-night cruise attended an emergency meeting and formed a protest committee after the ship failed to dock at three ports in New Zealand and at two Pacific Islands. While P&O Cruises made offers of compensation, some passengers branded these offers "derisory" and threatened legal action against the company.
In 2014, Aurora was repainted in P&O's new house livery with a stylised Union Flag on the bows, and the funnel painted blue instead of the customary P&O yellow.
She underwent another dry dock refurbishment during March and April 2019.
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