This was my first "real" Cruise. My only other experience of onboard life was a rhine river cruise with Avalon Cruises in Germany . My Partner is a previous "Fairstar" Cruiser ... and so our review begins...
Occupying a Mini-Suite on deck 11, gave us priority boarding which commenced at 10am.We found our cabin reasonably sized with a good bed, small fridge and adequate bathroom, though small. On first attempt the toilet failed to function but a quick call to our Steward ,Peter, soon had it sucking its little heart out. From the outset you notice that P&O Australia, has an Italian captain ( As an Italian build boat, maybe the drivers manual is in Italian?)and a mix of Italian/Brit officers. Stewards , waiters and deck staff are of various darker persuasions and a good command of English is often not present. Not a good start for an Australian ported flagship line.
I had previously commented to my partner that PD appears more like a floating Butlin's holiday camp ( seems another critic has formed the same opinion also) Meals taken in the Plantation saw long queues, not so overly hot "hot food" but a good selection overall. It was most interesting to see how many ways the cook could recycle pork over a number of meals.. No icecream with your desert, but you can buy one... Often there was insufficient seating available which was also caused by the herd occupying tables and "saving" seats when they had not yet obtained their meal.... Think chowing down in Cole's Cafeteria, no classy buffet here folks !.
The evening meal was available in the Waterfront restaurant in two sittings, the second, at 8pm did not always gel with the entertainment program. The shows in the Marquee were well produced, presented and entertaining as was the Bingo ( and good luck to the lady walking of with the $7,100 jackpot)
If you have read the blurb, you will know the PD is 23 years old, and looks it. While the crew maintain passenger facing areas in a clean presentable manner it is not hard to see the boats fittings are tired. Some salt stained glass uncleaned to the point of being opaque, not that much attention to the maintenance of rust. On Day 2, we noted that our balcony had a small length of plastic "Caution " tape tied on.. Day 3 or so , saw a "manager" contact us to arrange access for the ships welder to repair one of our rails that was completely rusted through. Another area on the promenade deck had a smaller broken capstan, with the metal conduit rusted away fully in a number of places leaving the electrical? cable exposed to the elements fixed with an extra layer of paint. ( I have photos)
Now if you think that your fare is good value, that's room and board only . These people have the marketing machine down to a fine art. Bottle of water in your cabin?- Pay, No icecream fro your desert - you can buy one- Pay, want to go on a tour of the kitchen and engine controls? -Pay. Now I'm not a fan of Nescafe coffee, but the coffee machine makes it taste disgusting - but you can buy a nice coffee from a Barista-Pay.
Yes its relaxing, yes there is a good selection of shore tours at varying prices.... But PD is a tired old tub.. The Dep. Cruise director mentioned new ships coming to P&O, maybe the PD can find a new role as an artificial reef. Cruise again?... have to think twice. Better still, go to Germany and cruise the Rhine