Having been on over 25 cruises with P&O, P&O Australia and Princess cruises, I find myself at the bottom of the barrel with Pacific Dawn. Having previously cruised on her about 2 years ago, I can't tell you how different the two experiences were.
Embarkation was chaotic, however saying that I was on board within an hour of reaching the cruise terminal in Brisbane. I told the lady at check in that I was a seasoned P&O Cruiser, and she very kindly gave me a priority embarkation number. This allowed me to get on board much quicker than I had anticipated.
The ship has dated beyond belief, the carpets were worn, the ship stank of sewerage on several occasions and my cabin was probably the second most disappointing aspect after the food.
My cabin was a 4 berth for one, with a queen sized bed in the centre of the cabin. The wood was chipped, damaged and looked 20 years old. The bathroom was small, cramped and smelt of mildew. The only saving grace was my cabin steward Christian.
I would however say that my cabin was mid ship and didn't have any noises and was very stable. The wardrobe space was bizzare, as it was broken down into 4 sets of everything.. to accommodate for the 4 berth. A bit pointless for one!!
Now onto the food. On embarkation day, I had lunch in the Palm Court. I was very happy with lunch, and thought that this would be the way the rest of the cruise would pan out. As the cruise progressed, the food got worse and worse, till the final evening, I thought I was dining in a waiter service McDonalds. Because your table was different every night, it was very hit and miss with the waiters as well.
Some nights, the waiters couldn't understand English, and thought that we only had 20 minutes to eat 3 courses. Sometimes food was placed in front of you, whilst you were still eating your starter.. NOT cruise service, not cruise food.
This was the last cruise before the ship went into a refit. I understand that the cabins were not going to be changed (with the exception of the suites and mini-suites) and a great deal of work was going to be on the mechanical side of things.
I am booked on Pacific Jewel in September, and dreading the bad food and service. The only positive dining experience was in SALT, the additional $40 per head restaurant and the first lunch. My option next cruise on Pacific Jewel might be to eat in SALT and the Asian place. This will add another $300 onto the cruise fare as a result.
Passengers were also very.. erm.. "different" with a large percentage of first time cruisers, who were intent on drinking the ship dry. Many of the cruise passengers were "red carded" so that they couldn't buy any more drinks that night. What then happened was they got their friends to buy them drinks, and so it went on.
I am hoping for a much better experience in September. If not, then new cruise lines are visiting Australia for next year, and they will get my business instead of P&O.
Feel VERY let down by P&O and can compare it to a very bad holiday camp in the UK!