In retirement one can indulge oneself and the idea of a cruising long weekend focusing on food and wine was very appealing. Although we usually cruise on new ships, we chose to overlook the fact that the Jewel is 21 yrs old and went for the enjoyment of sailing in and out of Sydney Harbour and eating good food. On that basis we had a good cruise but not everything was good.
Not having sailed with P&O before, I was amused at the snaking line to book-in - disorganised compared with other lines. We, the passengers were blamed because everyone got there earlier than the 3 pm embarkation time that was stipulated! We were one of the early birds and were on by 3.15 pm.
Our CABIN was a good size with large shower in the bathroom, plenty of drawers and nice decor. We were lucky enough to have hot showers each day because some on deck 10 were not so lucky. On reading about the Degustation Dinner on Sunday night with limited availability, we immediately went to the Salt Grill to book. No one was there and CONSTANT phone calls to Reservations all afternoon proved fruitless - no-one ever answered. After dinner, we went to Salt Grill again only to be told that it had been booked out by 3.15 pm. How was that possible??????
That was not the only thing we could not get into - the wine tasting and coffee presentation on Saturday was also booked out. We finally got into the coffee appreciation talk, only by sitting in the cafe for 1 hr on the Sunday. While it was excellent, we found that the only way to get good seats or even get in was to go 30 mins early or queue for similar time. We also really enjoyed the Blue tongue beer tasting and yes, we grabbed a seat 1 hr before it started!
The FOOD in the Waterfront Restaurant was excellent on Fri and Sun evening. As good as any 5 star ship or good restaurant. The restaurant is light with modern decor. The service at times both ordinary and very good. However, I cannot same the same for the food in the Plantation Buffet Restaurant. It was very poor quality, variety and quantity. The atmosphere is drab, the carpet filthy and the tables and chairs showing their years of service.
The ENTERTAINMENT was excellent. The shows in the Marquee were 5 star and SZYGNY (don't know if the spelling is correct) were outstanding with their performance in the Atrium and on deck
Those three major aspects of the cruise made for an enjoyable time BUT the ship is old on the outside - rust just gets painted over and there are areas on the inside that have obviously not been refurbished and look very tired or old fashioned. The CASBAH lounge, PLANTATION, the POOLS and the TOILETS fit this category
We will probably not sail on the Jewel again - we prefer newer ships. The service was very ordinary. One time I asked for a Tonic Water and got Solo Lemon! The cabins were not serviced till 2 pm - that is poor.
Overall, I enjoyed the three days but that was enough for us. The concept of the 3 day cruise is excellent but I dare not consider what a 14 day cruise might be like. The service and general organisation needs to improve if P&O are ever going to improve their overall rating.
Carnival and P&O listen - give us OZZIES newer ships and better service so we don't have to fly around the world. We deserve it!!