I was somewhat apprehensive prior to going on a P&O Australia cruise - especially after having been on several other cruises of a 4 and 5 star standard overseas but I wanted to escape the cold of Central Western NSW so thought "I'll give it a go".
EMBARKATION - Arrived at Wharf 5 at 1030 am and was pleased to see many counters open for check-in. Paperwork completed seamlessly, my partner and I sat and waited to be called for boarding which was done at about 12 noon.
We boarded heading to Plantations buffet for a light lunch then headed back to our balcony room and unpacked.
Weather was rainy and windy as we attended the Sailaway Party on deck. The bar was poorly manned with service there slow.
Sailing under the bridge was a spectacle with the Captain suggesting that "passengers susceptible to seasickness should now take medication as seas were expected in the region on 3 - 4 m after we left the harbour.
CABIN - Our balcony room 11181 on the starboard (right) side towards the back on Deck 11 was quite good with a table and 2 chairs on the balcony. Bathroom was large though I found it a little dark even with the light on. Was surprised the shower cubicle was quite large and the wardrobe had plenty of space too with removable hangers. Our cabin steward was fine but nothing exceptional - bedtime choccies on 2 nights and terry animals on 3 nights.
The rose I had ordered was delivered, as were the birthday balloons, but I would have preferred to have had them already there and not placed while we were unpacking.
The cabin was cool for the 2 sea days from and to Sydney necessitating a jumper even with the aircon turned off - the heat function was not activated even though the control was on maximum high heat setting.
FOOD & BEVERAGE - dined at Plantations buffet for lunch & breakfast most days. At breakfast, the queue at the egg station for fried eggs was lengthy during peak periods - fried eggs being the extent of the item supplied there. An omelette was available from the buffet plates along with a selection of cold meats, cereals, yoghurts, toast, pastries and 2 juices - basically a stock-standard 3 star hotel fare. Lunch was a similar system with a variety of meals available which changed daily. It was disappointing to note that no free beverage was on offer other than water and instant coffee/tea.
Evening meal at the Waterfront Restaurant was adequate, although nothing special with a 2 page menu - on the left page and a changing on the right. Wine list had to be asked for every night and 2nd bread rolls offered on 3 nights only.
SHORE TOURS - Ports of call being Noumea, Mystery Island, and Isle of Pines. Noumea shore tour we had selected was quite good and the snorkelling not bad. Hired snorkel gear from ship for my partner and we received a new snorkel and a clean mask.
ENTERTAINMENT - Shows in the theatre was very good with some very funny comedians. The Cirque was a non-event on the outside of the ship due to poor weather but it was eventually held indoors. The Lazer show was very good albeit short.
SUMMARY - It was quite good and ultimately, you get what you pay for. Would I cruise again with P&O Australia? Afraid not as they are just not up to a high enough standard as far as I am concerned but there is definitely a market for them here in Australia. The Jewel is getting tired - this can be determined by the issues with elevators and broken pipe during this cruise.