We just got back from our South Pacific Cruise and as I promised here is my review. But unlike normal I will endeavour to keep it on topic and for it to be concise and make sense. :)
Embarkation: Was seamless and well organised everyone at P&O was helpful and friendly even considering the weather was pretty average to say the least.
I was surprised how quick it was actually. In no time we had found our cabin and on the top deck enjoying the sights of Sydney and welcome aboard drinks. The Sail away party was fun, going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge is definitely a great thing to experience, I was told there is 7 meters clearance for the Jewel under the bridge, it didn't look like that to us we recon less than 7 feet.
Weather out from the heads was pretty bad 5 meter swell with the occasional 7 meter wave that night that kept you on your toes. I made the mistake of opening our balcony door that night to find myself very wet. We did make dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant that night and it was empty sea sickness was starting to take it's toll already. Trying to sleep was an experience it felt like I was undergoing a test for the NASA Space programme.
My lady (a first time cruiser)was prepared she had a supply of sea sickness tablets she had got on-line from recommendations from a friend and she had no problems I would recommend them to anyone who suffers they are called "Sea Legs" from NZ and you can't get them here in Australia apparently. Anyway just take them before you cruise other people had taken other tablets that didn't help at all. I don't suffer so I didn't bother.
Our Cabin: We were on Deck 10 at the front and had a balcony. I was pleasantly surprised heaps of room for to hang and store your clothes. I liked the decor, inside the rooms and the whole decor of the ship in general. Bathrooms were big enough. I am glad we didn't pay the extra for the full length balcony on deck 11. It just wasn't needed. The balcony's have two chairs and a table. Our Cabin Steward James was just the best friendly and quick and wow that man could make a wicked terry toweling animal. :). They deserve any tips you can afford to give them in my opinion. I don't think I would do there job for what they get paid and for the lengths of there contracts.
Entertainment: Yes P&O do put on some great shows, the laser show was great(could of lasted longer but) there floor shows in the Marque Lounge are top quality. And the circus shows are top rate, We were lucky enough to have two troupes on board as the 1st were finishing there contracts and the new troupe were on there to practice for the next cruise. In essence we got to see two shows by two different acts.
In my opinion P&O could maybe lift there game in regard to there bands they where rather repetitive with there song selections and really when needed on theme nights did not have the songs to match the occasion.
They could really work on making there theme nights more known and talking them up a lot more. So everyone gets involved. The Island theme night was a good night as most got involved.
My only other gripe would be the Attic night club being so small, what was P&O thinking having so much room for the fitness centre and a night club that you cannot swing a cat in. The DJ was good but.
Dining: The Waterfront restaurant I could not fault. Ample food seconds if you wished. The Wine and Food Waiters were attentive prompt and pleasant. We tended to dine late but even when we forgot to book because of being to busy on shore. They always made room. The buffet we mainly only did for brekkie, on the rare occasions we did have to grab a quick meal I found the selection of fruits and salads great and the hot food ample.
The Salt Grill was superb and well worth the extra $40 a head. We didn't dine at the LaGuina but I heard good reviews on that also.
Just a few things I found a tad wanting, Lunch menu was great but dinner menu had no salad at all that you could order as a side i:e garden salad. also the Waterfront restaurant really does lack a restroom close by, it is a walk almost the length of the ship to go to the toilet. Minor things I know but i suppose if you don't mention it they wont know. Over all it was enjoyable and I can not fault the service and quality.
Shore Excursions: We didn't do any P&O based shore excursions, as we tend to be a bit independent in that regard. We like to get a taxi for the day and see 3 times as much for the same price. I did speak to a few people who had done shore excursions with P&O and they had no complaints.
Loved Mystery Island and Dravuni Island. Port Villa is the place to duty free shop. Isle of Pines would be great if it was easier to get around and explore the island (limited taxi's and transport for so many people). I had some great diving during my cruise.
Funny Stuff: Two men got into a fight in the laundry over a washing machine and were put in the brig and let off at the next port.
Apparently one guy was talking and didn't get his washing out of the machine fast enough for the other guy, this guy grabbed the other blokes washing out threw it on the floor and stamped on it and a fight broke out. His washing was still on the floor the next day and security in the Precinct of the Laundry Mat was increased to something akin to a visiting king.
Day before we arrived home the weather had turned sour again (but not as bad as the way out) everyone on deck was watching a water spout out at sea and suddenly another one appeared and passed across the ships deck collecting a lady in a chair moving her 2 meters from her previous position and depositing her on her butt, with a what was that look on her face.
Conclusion: I would travel with P&O again, I could not fault the service, the Captain was one funny guy and did everything as promised even swapping Nomeau for the Isle of Pines as we couldn't get there in time on our way out of Sydney from the bad weather. We got the Isle of Pines the last port of call which I thought was better anyway.
Yes this ship is showing signs of age but they seemed to be trying to keep on top of it as there was maintenance being done every main port we went to.
P&O just please fix your lifts on this boat people weren't happy about them at all. I didn't really care stairs are fine.
All in all great times, great staff and top service and after all cruising should be as fun as you want to make it. Good work Pacific Jewel.