Aurora’s refit: an exclusive Q&A with Olly Smith


Following a refit earlier this month, Aurora sailed back from the Damen shipyard in Brest, France with a new look, ready for a new era of cruise experiences. Her character and much-loved features, such as the glass-domed Crystal Pool and the iconic 35ft sculpture in the atrium, still star. However, the refurbishment delivers updates in key areas such as The Glass House, Oasis Spa and Salon and well-loved bar Charlie’s.

P&O Cruises Food Hero, Olly Smith

This Q&A with P&O Cruises Food Hero Olly Smith explores what guests can expect to see after the refit and gives insight into Olly’s new book FIZZ. Read on to find out more about this and his 2019 cruises, including a special on-shore experience in Bergen.

Q1. Can you tell us about the new-look Glass House on Aurora? What’s changed?

I’m super excited by the brand-new look and feel of Aurora’s The Glass House. The venue is flooded with light, with an inviting Mediterranean colour scheme; the new seating makes it the perfect spot to linger over one of my choices of over 40 wines by the glass, as well as sample some of the dishes that have been paired with my wines. It’s a place of classy comfort and I can’t wait to welcome you in person.

Q2. What do you think guests will enjoy most about The Glass House on Aurora?

The wines are at the heart of The Glass House, and I’ve hand-picked them to suit every palate and every pocket, with some grapes you’ll recognise as well as something new to entice you deeper into the wonderful world of wine. I’ve curated my favourites from around the world, from off-the-beaten-track to classic gems. Peru to Canada, Greece to New Zealand – there’s a light bite or main dish paired with every wine. So whether it’s a sip or a banquet, my Glass House team are ready to guide your tastebuds and give you the warmest welcome, and hopefully you’ll discover something new along the way.

Q3. Can you tell us a bit about your new cocktail book, FIZZ?

With spring in the air, it’s the perfect time to share my love of sparkling cocktails and mocktails for the sunny season. From easy classics to parties and picnics when there’s lots of people to entertain, I’ve got 80 sparkling recipes that are all as simple as they are delicious, with lots of fabulous non-alcoholic choices too. Champagne, cava, cider, beer, soda or kombucha: the joy is in the fizz.

Q4. Will the book be available to P&O Cruises guests?

Yes! FIZZ will be on sale in shops on board and at my exclusive book-signing events when I travel. I’ll personally sign your copies – whether it’s a gift or for yourself, I’d be delighted to write you a special message and pick out a few of my favourite recipes for you. There’s a flavour in there for everyone.

Q5. What kind of fizz is currently available in The Glass House?

One of our most popular wines is a fizz from Canada – the Peller Ice Cuvée which, as I always say on board, is fabulously fruity and dangerously drinkable. I’m also thrilled by my Jolly Olly beers – IPA and Golden Ale – both brewed by Harvey’s of Lewes near my home and as sparkling as they are sensational. It’s so much fun for me to bring a taste of my hometown around the world. I’m also delighted to share that I will be expanding The Glass House fizz list to include a couple of English sparklers – watch this space!

Q6. You’re heading to Bergen in September, where you’ll be taking guests on a visit to the 7 Fjell Brewery. Can you tell us about more about it?

The craft beers from 7 Fjell are some of the world’s most vibrant and innovative. Just like wine, beer relies on a blend of great ingredients, careful craft and understanding of tradition. On this unique behind-the-scenes tour in Bergen, I’ll be guiding my guests to this boutique craft brewery, where the mantra is ‘less mass production, more taste and passion’. We’ll taste the brilliant brews together alongside traditional Norwegian nibbles to get a real flavour of Norway. ‘Skål’ (cheers) to that!

Q7. Why is food and drink such an important part of a holiday?

Life’s greatest pleasure is to share a glass and a bite of something local. For me, wine and food is an ever-evolving journey of discovery packed with innovative techniques, passionate craft and immersive history. It takes you straight to the heart of any destination and gives a real taste of what it’s like to be a part of that community.

Q8. What kind of things can guests expect with you on board and on shore in 2019?

I’ll be signing copies of my new book FIZZ, hosting wine tastings and wine pairing dinners, delivering talks and being available informally to chat about everything from the grape to the grain. I’ll be hopping off to Madeira where you can join me for a tour of historic Blandy’s, where Madeira wine has been made for centuries, with a tasting and fabulous lunch. I’ll be on board Azura from Copenhagen, and later in the year to Bergen with my shore excursion to 7Fjell brewery. Come and join the fun!

Q9. What are you personally looking forward to most about these cruises?

Meeting the guests is always the best part of cruising. It’s an honour to share a special moment of your precious holiday and to share the wines (and beers) I have hand picked for your delectation. I cannot wait to pour the perfect glass for you in person and encourage you to try something new.