Embarkation: We arrived at Wharf 5 at about 11.30 am. Trouble free booking in our bags and waited about 5 minutes tops in the line to get to the counter to check in. Had our photos taken for our cruise cards. All good. Probably waited no more than 15 minutes after that before our number was called to go on board. We were checking out our cabin by 12.15pm.
First thing we did was head up to Turtle Cove kids club to register our 3 yo daughter. Remember to take child's passport and the passport of anyone you authorise to pick them up. They will make copies for you.
Then we went back to the cabin and booked in for Luke Mangan's Salt Grill. You have to book in REALLY early for this.
It was at this point that my husband realised that he had left his suit bag hanging on the door at home! Argh! No formal clothes! Fortunately, we had left plenty of time and his Dad was able to go back to our place to get it and bring it back to the ship. We told the Purser what had happened and they made special arrangements to get it to us. Thank goodness. Meant we got an awesome shot of his parents from Deck 14! Suit was delivered to our room just before departure. Phew ;)
Muster was held at 3pm. I did overhear a Crew Member saying something rude about passengers to a crewmate. I made a complaint at the pursers desk which I believe was handled very professionally. One of the senior members of the Hotel staff came to see me in my cabin about the incident the next day and assured me it was being investigated. I certainly didn't let one off hand comment I overheard ruin my holiday.
Sail away party was unfortunately short lived due to the weather turning sour almost as soon as we passed through the heads. Unfortunately the seas were rough for the next two days with 8 m swells and winds gusting to 100Kmh. I'd say almost half the passengers were down with seasickness and quite a few staff too. The Ships medical centre was the hot place to be! We had taken Kwells sea sickness tabs, including our almost 4 yo who took 1/4 tablet dose. She and hubby were fine. I was a little green if I got hungry, so kept crackers and green apples handy.
Even though those two days at sea the weather was pretty awful, there was still plenty to do. I took up quilling and hubby went to other activities. Mooch loved the kids club, even though it had to be moved from it's usual home on deck 14.
Luke Mangan was onboard for our cruise, which was a real priviledge. He gave a cooking demonstration on the first day, and we were lucky enough to have booked dinner that night. It was well worth the $30 per person. The wagyu beef was absolutely perfect. And the licorice parfait was delicious. You definately need to book almost as soon as you get on board. And just a tip, if you have little kids, find out when Island Night is as you wont be able to book the kids in kids club from about 6.30-8pm. Unfortunately this meant we had to cancel our second booking. :(
Having a little one we mostly ate at the Buffet on Deck 12. We thought the food here was great. Lots of choices. I wasn't a fan of the scrambled eggs at breakfast, but you could get eggs cooked to order also. My faves were the hash browns at Breakfast, and the braised Lamb Shanks with mash. yumm. One night they even served Roast Duck.
We also ate a few lunches at the Waterfront (a la carte) with our little girl, where we usually had a table just the 3 of us. Hubby and I had a few dinners there too and were always seated with lovely people and shared nice conversation with our fellow passengers. The food was delicious and beautifully presented.
We partook in the music trivia most nights which was lots of fun. We even managed to win one night! We also watched all of the shows, and took our little one to watch too. She loved the Pirate show which was by far the most enjoyable of the cruise, but the circus show was a little scary (even for grown ups!)even thought the elephants were spectacular. The sit down comedy club was good as were the other guest entertainers. The Marriage Game and Liar Liar were hilarious! Zoltina J was in fine form and certainly made our cruise very enjoyable for us.
If you want to see Pacific Circque, it is only on one night... so check your Pacific Daily. Get there about 45 mins + early and get a spot on deck 14 amid ships. DONT get a spot forward, near the spa like I did as the lights will shine in your eyes and you wont be able to see a thing :( The artists did put on short performances in the Atrium later in the cruise, but not the same as outside on the big rig on the deck.
I wont go into great details of the Isle of pines as I am sure there is plenty of information out there already. The only thing I will say is get your tender ticket early, then go to breakfast. We got our ticket at 8.30 am and did not get called to our tender until after 12 noon. We were NOT happy Jan. Still we made the most of our time once we finally did make it to the island.
Lifou was beautiful also. We took the Melanesian Enounters Tour. It was OK, we are glad we did something. Also, by doing a tour, you meet on board and get a priority for the tenders so we got off in plenty of time, thank goodness. The people are really friendly and this was the place to get your hair braided. My advise is to look around and watch the girls and the finished jobs before you choose who to go with. They all charge the same so might as well go with the best job ;)
Noumea: We didnt book any tours through P & O. But we went on the green Tchou Tchou train which we booked at the terminal. It was sooooooo much fun. The locals waved and cheered everywhere we went which was really nice. Defintely would recommend that one! And it cost us less for the 3 of us that way, than for 1 if we had booked through P&O. We didnt get a drink and a pastry at the lookout, but what drink is worth $140???
I put my school girl french to use at the patisserie. Yum, Pain du chocolat! We hit the Duty Free up the hill form the ship and found the Scotch my husband wanted to be awsome value. They took it to the ship and we got it back on the last night before disembarkation.
As most of you probably know, the Jewel encountered problems with her propulsion system and we were advised of this as we arrived back at the ship from Noumea. We were advised they had been working on her all day, she was not fixed, and they would continue to work throughout the night and hopefully we would depart 7am the following morning. This meant we would not make it to Poum/Emerald Bay and to make up for our disappointment, each passenger over 13 was given $50 on board credit.
P&O put on Free buses to Citron Baie that night, which we took advantage of. Wasnt much happening there at night, unless you wanted dinner, but we had already eaten on board. Still it was nice to get out and have a look at Noumea by night.
The next morning the Captain announced we would not be departing until 1pm that day. This meant we would be getting home 1 day late to Sydney. Any passengers who had forward travel arrangements made through P&O didnt have to worry, it would all be taken care of for them. Any other passengers had to change their own arrangements. To expedite this, free calls to shore and free internet was put on. Also claim forms were delivered to each cabin setting out that P&O would reimburse any extra costs involved with rearranging their travel.
Again P&O put on Buses to Baie de Citron for any passengers who wanted to go. We thought that was really generous of them, as they charge $20AU each for those transfers in their shore excursion brochure.
We just pottered around some of the stores and found a store called Style Co - a department type store. And bought some french label clothes for a bit of fun. We also went back the patisserie. ;)
The trip home was smooth sailing. The Entertainment Team put on an extra show for us as the cruise was an extra night!
Our little girl (almost 4) absolutely LOVED Turtle Cove. There was a newsletter delivered each day to our cabin about what was on the next day. It was open from 9-12 and then from 2 -10.30 each evening. If you wanted group child minding you had to let them know by 7.30pm and it was $5 per child per hour until 1am. They had lots of crafts and activities. They even practised for a Talent Show on the last day, which was lots of fun. On Island Night, they also had a family fun party. There were games for the whole family to participate in. I joined in the tunnel ball and our team won. Our Little girl also won the Limbo competition. She made lots of little friends and had a wonderful time. Never tears when we dropped her off, only when we picked her up cos she didn't want to leave!
Disembarkation was smooth as anything, although we really had packed way tooo much and had trouble carrying everything. Customs took less than two minutes, and then we had the walk up the hill to Wynyard Station, which was easier than I expected.
Despite all the dramas, we had an absolutely AWESOME time. We could not fault P&O or their staff for the handling of all the various situations. All the staff were friendly and professional at all times. We have booked another short cruise for next year to celebrate our Anniversary. Less than a year to go! Take me away P&O!