This was a short cruise so I will attempt to make the review equally as short! We took this cruise for our 20th wedding anniversary and it was the first cruise without our children so while normally we would also look at a cruise from the kids perspective we can't this time.
The ship was berthed in Darling Harbour and had a departure time of 8pm. We arrived around 5pm and were checked through in around 10 minutes. Other passengers we spoke to said it took them around 45 minutes to an hour so it really was pot luck for us to get through so quickly. Just as we have seen before the baggage drop off and check-in process works well here.
The kids shooed us away and onto the ship around 6pm (still hardly anyone in the terminal) and we decided to head straight to the dining room so we could make it up on deck for the sail-away. The dining room is fresh and modern - as it should be after a refit - and the service was efficient and the food was good. My wife has a severe allergy to some foods but this presented no problem and she was shown the menu for each of the next nights so she could pre-order.
The sail-away was exciting with the Pacific Cirque doing their spectacular show as we slipped our mooring and sailed straight out and under the Harbour Bridge. As we sailed past the Opera House a magnificent fireworks display was started on a barge just for us finishing with a "BON VOYAGE" in sparklers. That was awesome and totally unexpected.
Our cabin was very nice. It was an oceanview with a very large window. The cabin is laid out nicely, the wardrobe was a good size and there is more drawer space than you could ever use. The safe worked easily and there is a good sized fridge. A wide variety of movies and shows were available on the TV and the 'moving map' display was OK. I was very happy with the bathroom. The shower recess was tiled and had a nice strong shower which was height adjustable and could also be hand held. (We had to laugh...the room was shown on our ticket as a double. We asked for the single beds to be converted and they just got pushed together. So we still had single sheets on the bottom and single doonas and the beds drifted apart. It was more funny than actually annoying).
We went for a wander and quickly discovered how easy it is to get lost on this ship, I couldn't put my finger on why but it just seemed a lot harder to find your way around than on other ships. The decor and colours make the ship feel fresh and vibrant but it lacks the elegance that we have come to associate with cruise ships.
We caught the comedian / ventriloquist in the Marquee lounge that evening and he was first class. The following nights had the Runaway to the Circus show and then the Aussie tribute show. Both of these were OK. The Marquee lounge itself is a good venue, we thought the upstairs seats were a better choice than downstairs. The Pacific Cirque performers put on a wonderful acrobatic and trapeze show in the atrium. If you have these guys on your cruise do not miss this show! (and get a seat upstairs).
We didn't use the Internet on this cruise but the cost seemed the same as other cruises (i.e. expensive) and we had expected to be able to keep in touch with kids via the mobile phone facility called MCS but for some reason the phone we had wouldn't connect, yet this was the same phone we used on the Sun Princess with no problem. Bottom line is don't rely on this to be able to keep in touch with family.
We had breakfast and lunch in the Plantation buffet and were happy with what was available. Coffee and tea (including herbal varieties) and iced water was available from machines. Something I did not expect was to have to pick over plates, cups and cutlery that hadn't been washed properly. This happened with breakfast and lunch both days we were there. I have never had to do this before. On a more pleasant note the food in the buffet was nice, we never had a problem finding a seat and the panoramic view outside made for a very pleasant time to chat with other passengers.
Briefly back to the Waterfront dining room where we had dinner each night, P&O are using the "anytime dining" approach instead of set sittings. I think I definitely prefer the set sittings. You know where your table is so there is no big queue while you wait to be seated each night and you also get the opportunity to get know your waiters, it just seems nicer...maybe I'm just getting old.
Disembarking was pretty non-eventful. We were one of the first to disembark and were off by 8am (after a 7am arrival) but the latest departure group wasn't until around 9.50am. It seems if you had carry-on baggage you could depart earlier, otherwise you had to wait until your colour was called.
Something I missed was not having any updates from the Captain, we never heard from him. Normally you can't shut them up!!! Maybe it was because it was just a short three night cruise but it was something a number of passengers commented on.
To sum up, would I sail on the Pacific Jewel again?....yes. Some things could be better, but....the crew were friendly, the food was good, the cabin was excellent and we had a great time which is why we cruise.