I had never cruised before so was unsure of how I would like it but after hearing from friends who have cruised and hours of YouTube/google etc. etc. I was expecting quite the holiday
Travelling with my partner – this is us
Me late 40’s – partner 70 - we have been in a relationship for 21yrs
Middle class, we work hard to get and do nice things
This is our once a year big holiday
My before cruising expectation was of an endless orgy of food, fun and visiting idyllic paradises.
Not all of the following can be contributed to the company/ship but are just part of the overall experience.
Firstly before even leaving we experienced an issue with our account being paid by another person/s in Nov 2013 which you think ok surely P and O can just remove the payment to let us get on with what we needed to do, nope.
I was told they can only leave it on there til the actual payer was found. I after several phone calls insisted on them taking off the payment, I was assured this would happen
2 days later (New Year’s Eve 2013) we received a cheque for the excess amount (our cruise was nearly paid off when this happened)
We banked the cheque (won’t go into detail on the phone calls, promises promises etc. etc.) and then only by me calling them found out they removed the full amount (Jan 2014) that was incorrectly credited to our account and we had 7 days to pay our balance or our cruise could be cancelled due to non-payment, nice work “customer service” – imagine me rolling my eyes sarcastically.
Ok so payment made – ready for cruise
We arrive and the line is huge but being priority check in (booked a min suite ) made it easier although having outgoing cards to fill in with the other forms would have made things a bit smoother.
So on we go
Suite was nice, large and well set out, plenty of hanging and drawers.
Balcony was smaller and scrappier than I imagined ( paint on paint , plastic flooring was dirty and had corners sticking up, two basic chairs and table ) but was one of the best parts of the cruise due to being able to just sit outside quietly looking at the ocean or watching us enter or leave the islands.
The only real issue with the room was the bathroom, the shower head is set so it goes across the bath now down the length of it so between the wall the head is mounted and the wall that divides the basins is only the width of the bath which was ok but not really enough room to wash in/under, if it was facing down the length of the bath is would have made so much difference.
Being on the 11th deck the above 12th and open deck allowed for some noise but not enough to worry us too much.
A little exploring and we found the ship to look quite old and not as “flashy” as one may think a cruise ship would be but it had some nice features.
As we hadn’t eaten we decided to go to the buffet for a quick bite before the sail away party.
Here’s where one of my expectations gets a reality slap in the face, the food was atrocious, harsh but fair I believe. The lunch offer was less than expected and the quality to match. If I was to say it was worse than the worst buffet/RSL I have ever eaten at it would be too complimentary.
This is an overall of the lunches and dinners we experienced at the “buffet”
Breakfast –bacon , eggs, sausages and toast ( there were cereals / fruit and Danishes ) so all pretty standard and ok – but for god sakes P and O get some juice glasses instead of expecting a shot glass of oj or apply juice to be enough
-Biggest complaint – crap coffee, Nescafé machine that I tried once and it was like drinking warm brown water.
-breakfast also allowed you to get food from the grill, bacon/egg rolls etc. so again breakfast was pretty standard but acceptable.
Lunch also allowed you to access the grill for burgers/chips/sausages
-Both breakfast and lunch at the grill section were at no cost-
The lunch buffet offered 2 types of rolls I tried a few and ended up removing the ingredients and filling it with hot chips
-other offerings were basically the same as I am about to describe in the dinner buffet section, aargh the anticipation must be killing you ; )
Dinner (or tea as we say in S.A)
Given a tray its then an offering potato of some description, the next meat ( stewed mostly ), some over sauced (mostly cold ) fish, the obligatory offering of veg and some meat carved, rice, glass noodly chow mein number. There was a cold option, 2 meats and 2 salads with bowls of chopped food ready to be made into a salad with an over mayoed potato or pasta salad just for a laugh.
The bread rolls were great and the little desserts nice but no ice cream in sight
-the grill also suddenly became fine dining and cost extra at night as well??????? Same stuff but now cost?????
-Unimpressed with the buffet offerings we did go to the restaurant ( the included one ) and it was a reasonable 3 course meal but again nothing that I thought “ hey I must rave about that when I get home “
Service in both areas was great and tables cleared quickly
We did try out the pay for restaurants
Salt Grill – lovely meal, my partner’s steak was not quite to his liking and there was no hesitation from the staff to replace it without question, all my food was fantastic, great food and staff
La Luna – we went when the menu was Chinese (didn’t end up trying the Thai the following week) and the food was also lovely with service to match.
-Lol, sorry just remembered, we thought we may get room service one evening (at full price of course)
Pizza, can of solo and some wedges please – here you are some sloppy limp watery round piece of dough with a hint of toppings and to match some cold un crisp wedges – wedges were replaced but pizza was rolled up like wraps and consumed – at least the can of solo was cold
-one day we ordered a bucket of prawns on the open deck (for a price of course) and I must say they were very tasty prawns
-you know you hear about how fantastic the food is, how fat you will be when you come home, there’s always something to eat, free this, free that
Well I am here to say if you travel on the Pacific Jewel you won’t find that, you won’t starve but don’t expect a culinary experience of any description.
Ok that’s the food out of the way, thank god, my first meal when I got home was a pizza from
Saints Pizza Henley Beach
(08) 8235 1099
Love these guys
The puppet comedian was a riot and I only caught a couple of other shows which were good.
The seating was horrid, if you didn’t get a seat closer to the front you had to sit on some cloth covered bench which was the worst, except for maybe the casino pokies machine stools.
Also the tables or chairs were bolted down so moved around on the wooden floor to easily.
We did go to bingo a couple of times and the bingo caller was funny.
We did go to most of the bars and all were comfy but the overall feel of the ship is old and no matter how much new lighting they put in it was still old.
The first time I ordered a pint of my favourite beer ( after a hot sweaty walk around Port Vila markets ) the keg ran out , I was told it may take up to 20 minutes to change which I found strange.
I never found out if they changed it or not
The Mix cocktail bar, slightly more expensive but worth it, made great cocktails but was really just a bar in the middle of the deck with a few seats, not really a bar as such??
The staff were very friendly, as expected as that’s what their job is, twice staff went over and above what they should do and it was nice as I kinda believed they actually did want to help and not just do what they were told to.
The islands we visited were nice and the tour I did was fun but I cant say I would want to visit them again soon as it would be much of the same (for what we wanted to do on each one).
The amount of money we paid for this trip I really expected more.
I would cruise again but not on P and O. Sad as the pre cruise set up is better than others I have investigated, can pre pay $ and spa treatments, flights and transfers, will allow you to change the cruise if one comes up cheaper or they decrease the price of the one you chose but sadly the cruising bit fell short.
I did enjoy the cruise and there were some really good points, sadly it’s only the negative ones that seem to linger after it’s all over.
I am sure there would be plenty of people who will think differently and that’s ok we all have an opinion, this is mine.