Reading P & O Cruises new marketing spiel about the cruise ship Pacific Pearl one could feel they were listening to a Winston Churchill's war time speech: Inspirational, motivating and targeted at peoples emotional triggers. In this writers opinion the suggestion that their new cruise ship The Pacific Pearl is New Zealand's first super liner should be read like a Tui's billboard ad, yeah right. It confirms my honest opinion that Cruise Lines who have a presents in the Australasia market continue to dump their outdated cruise ship on the un-expecting travelling public in an attempt to maximise their shareholder returns. However, as I found on a recent four night life style cruise there are only a few redeeming factors.
The one part that did impress us on our cruise Auckland to Sydney was the check in at Auckland. A few days before departure I received a txt inviting me to call a hotline that advised me that they would be boarding the ship by deck number and that I should turn up at 2:30 pm. To my delight most people did as they were told so when I arrived only my deck was boarding and Monique and I was on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving at the port!
Making our way to our cabin 5111 was easy. What I immediately noticed upon entering the cabin was how dated it was. The good news was it was very well laid out with lots of closet space and a good size shower. There were a number of stains on the ceiling and the rust around the port hole that did not inspire confidence. After unpacking it was time to explore this so-called super liner. At first glance the public spaces which had been refurbished was great, but over the days that followed simple things like the toilets being blocked and the terrible smells did begin to take a bit of the gloss off the whole experience. The lifts were finding it hard to do even the simplest functions like going up and down! The voice that announces the lifts arrival on each of the floors was geographically misplaced and would often declarer that it had arrive on the 9th floor when in fact it was on the 5th! No issue early on in the day but after a few drinks it began to test my own navigational skills.
The theatre was one of the biggest disappointments. The refurbishment of the furniture was beautiful; unfortunately the lay out was uncomfortable and made viewing the show difficult which was a shame as the entertainers themselves were a highlight, especially the comedians.
Actually the use of some of the public space was very poor, and the decision to locate the costly and exclusive Oasis Lounge area just below the children's outdoor play area was poorly thought through. One of the most astonishing things was the lack of a spa pool, and the fact that pacific pearl does not have a retractable roof over its pools is a distinct disadvantage in poor weather.
The spa/gym facilities were one of the worst I've experienced. Buried in the bowls of the ship, there is no ocean view to be enjoyed while working up a sweat. Those looking for the latest in hot benches to relax their tiresome muscles would need to move quick as there were only two for a ship of 1800 passengers.
I'm not a gambling man, but eating on board the Pacific Pearl is high stakes. The food in the main water front restaurant was amazingly good. Unfortunately the food at the Plantation Buffet could only be described as institutional sloop, and whoever designed the two lines that feed into the single meat serving area clearly didn't think it through.
In general the Pacific Pearl is ok. If you were able to find a last minute special at a great price, it's worth a go, but if you want a true super liner, keep looking.
Ewan Wilson is a group tour escort and co owner of Grand Journey By Wilsons Tours, and this is his 26th cruise