We were in cabin A161, a mini-suite, on Aloha deck for a 12 night cruise on the Pacific Dawn. We departed from Brisbane and visited Isle of Pines, Suva, Port Denarau, Vila, and Pentecost Island. Cruise W011N.
The week leading into the the Pacific Islands were hit by a Cyclone. We were a bit worried about what may have happened to the Islands, mostly Suva, which was reportedly directly hit by the Cyclone. We were also worried about another Cyclone which was off the North East coast of Queensland.
We were notified about 3 days before the cruise that there will be a delay of a couple of hours as the Pacific Dawn had to port at Fisherman's Wharf rather then in Port Brisbane (due to winds). We still had to meet at Port Brisbane and were bussed from there to Fisherman's Wharf. Checking in was easy. They took our bags, checked our passports, gave us our cruise cards and took us to a bus. We got on and everyone was in good spirits. We took the 20 minute bus trip to where the Pacific Dawn was waiting for us. We saw the ship when we got closer and a big cheer went up. We then passed through customs and had our photo taken by the staff and then again by security (linked to the cruise card).
After that we were met on board by some staff and shown to our room. Our room stewardess was 'Marta'. She welcomed us with a glass of sparking wine and balloons and a 'just married' sign on the door.
From our balcony we had a view of the side of a coal loader, however once we departed the view was fantastic.
Shortly after our bags arrived and we unpacked before going to the top deck for the sail away. The horn is so loud. We had a few cocktails and dinner on deck before going to the show.
The staff were: Captain: Neil Turnbull. Very funny man. Cruise Director: Zoltina-J. Good value, go with the flow and you will be fine.
We set sail about 6:00pm and spent the next two days at sea. They were fantastic with good shows and entertainment. On the first night and some of the next day we had 4 meter swells. We were told they were considered fairly big, however as it was our first cruise we knew now different.
The chairs being moved around on the deck above ours were a bit noise. This stopped about 11:00pm and stated about 8:00pm. I think it was the staff packing the chairs up and unpacking them.
Our first port was Isle of Pines. This place is a postcard. Soft sand, clear water, heaps of fish. We snorkeled, swam, and sun-baked. I would go back at the drop of a hat. We had to be tendered to and from the Isle. This was only a 5 minute trip. It was a hot day and no one wanted to leave the Isle. The line got long for the tenders back to the ship near the end of the day and one girl about 12 years fainted. The staff made sure she drank water and got her onto the next tender (jumped the queue). I though people would have winged about her and her family going first, but no one did.
The seas remained calm for the rest of the cruise mostly 1-1.5 metres (last day of the cruse was about 2 meters).
The next port was Suva. There was no damage what so ever from the cyclone as it hit the other side of the Island.
We did a tour of a village in the morning and this was fun and interesting. The bus trip was a bit of a white knuckle ride. The don't seem to bother with stopping at red traffic lights and seem to enjoy cutting cars off and beeping the horn.
The town of suva is horrible. Do not waist your time and go to the CBD. It stinks, there are aggressive beggers and con artist. Things are over prised and there are alot of poverty. The best part of Suva City is the back of it. If I ever went to Suva again I would book an all day tour.
Everyone was back on board and we were delayed by 2 hours from departing due to a problem with a propeller shaft. Ended up being a blown fuse in the electrics but they had to go through the whole checklist to make sure it was safe.
The following port was Port Denarau. This was another tender boat port and it took about 20 minutes from ship to shore. Port Denarau is home to about 5 popular resorts. We looked around the main part of the town. The town was great that the locals were alot friendly then in Suva. The town is alot smaller and is targeted towards tourism. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe and got a 'starter' of nacho's. They were the size of a pizza and enough to feed the two of us. They would be about $12 Aust. The local beer (Fiji Gold) was about $2.70 a schooner and sent down well. A can of beer on the ship was about $5.75.
The other drinks on the ship were about $9-$11 for a cocktail. They were all nice to try.
The next port was Vila. This is a nice place, a good place to get souvenirs for the family and is where to get the Duty Free shopping (alcohol and perfume). We did an underwater walk in the morning which was great. Good photos with our underwater camera. The only thing wrong with this place is that every second car/van stops and asks if you need a lift back to the ship (Who would have though an aussie complaining about too many taxi's).
The final port was Pentecost Island. This is home to the N'gol, where the boys/men jump from a wooden tower with vines strapped to the ankles. (like bungee jumping but they hit the ground). To watch this is something else. It was amazing. It isn't something you need to see twice in your life but is one thing I can cross off the list of things I wanted to see. Again it was amazing.
The entertainment was amazing. The adult comedy in the dome was great and the guest performers were good. Jackie Love (a bit boring) and Ugly Dave Gray were the guest performers. Ugly Dave still has it, but no cigar. Funny man.
My wife did the boot camp and said it was great.
We then had two more days at sea and were back in Brisbane. We arrived a couple of hours late due to head winds. We were able to dock at Port Brisbane. Disembarkation was easy for us as we were in the VIP section (seats, tea, coffee, food) Other's not in suites were complaining that they had nowhere to sit why they were waiting to get off the ship. They would then get cranky as they could see us sitting down enjoying a cuppa, but hey we did pay twice as much as them.
During the whole cruise we only met one woman who wasn't happy. I think it was more her then them. Her comments included "Why would you be on such a high deck, it moves too much. Queensland is superior over NSW. I can't believe there is Strawberry Ice cream in the baked Alaska, they should tell us that. The Captain is so-so. and The cruise is way too long." At the Virtual Bridge Tour she said the air con was too cold and reminded the poor presenter that the international standard is 24 degrees. Another time a different couple were watching a show and the lady had to go to the loo, she left her camera on the seat so people knew it was being used. Mrs fussy had to go and asked the husband if it was empty. She then had a go at him for saving the seat and made a complaint about it.
Overall the cruise was fantastic, Everyone seemed to have a ball. One man who we got to know won the bingo jackpot and got over $13,000. He was a really nice guy and deserved it.
There are too many pro's to mention. The cons are: 1) the chairs being moved were a bit noisy. 2) our fridge and hairdryer stopped working (most likely a fuse) we rang up twice but they weren't fixed. 3) They enforced the dress regulations in the restaurant but not in the rest of the ship. I feel they should be strict about this.
I would go on another cruise on Pacific Dawn, however would choose a balcony cabin on B deck rather then a mini-suite on A deck.