We sailed out of Auckland after a seamless boarding process – we had taken the P&O coach from Tauranga so were driven right up to the ship and our bags were transferred on.
The weather cut up rough at sailaway time so the party moved from the open deck to The Dome – sadly this was a complete disaster and boring by comparison to other sailaways but the poor start did not reflect the rest of the cruise.
We were 4 women in a quad share – 3 friends and one stranger to make up the numbers.
Our cabin was more than adequate and the bathroom configuration meant the shower was the biggest I have seen on any cruise ship yet. Our steward was Ravi and he did fabulous towel animals which gave us a smile. He was friendly without being in our faces.
We mainly ate at Waterfront for dinner and meals were very good on the whole. Had one splash out and went to Salt Grill – loved every mouthful especially the licorice parfait. Worth every penny of the $40.
Shows were largely excellent though one or two were not to our taste – other passengers loved those ones though so it is good to see P&O catering to everyone. The passengers were mostly an old group – in our 50s and 60s we were at the young end of the majority – though there were quite a few 30s and 40s – just not as many as if we sailed in school holidays or any time out of Australia.
We were amongst the lucky ones and got to land on Norfolk Island. We loved it and enjoyed a trip to the historic area at Kingston to see the ruins of the original prison etc. A friendly local drove us down there and one of the ships transfer buses took us back to the ship.
Also visited Port Douglas where we snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef on a ships tour, Cairns where we made our way independently to Green Island, Airlie Beach where we did a ships tour (Ocean Rafting – a real treat and worth every penny), Townsville where we did nothing but a walk around and Brisbane.
On sea days we loved the trivia, game shows, bingo (would never play it at home but fun at sea) and the pokies. Watched a late night movie under the stars but it was freezing so spoilt the experience a little. We lay in deck chairs, chatted with fellow passengers, swam in the pool and loved it all.
I have cruised quite a bit and think this ship is lovely – nothing flash but comfortable and easy to navigate around. The Marquee is badly laid out and the only night we got really good seats was Pirate Night when everyone was warned that if you sat in the first two rows you needed toparticipate in the show - no surprise that we got front row centre seats that night.
The Cruise director Zoltina J and her team of merry men were a bit of a disappointment. With one or two exceptions they really did not interact with the passengers very much and so they added little in the way of atmosphere. But Captain Charlie was a laugh and got us there and back safely – what more can you ask for.
This is NOT a 5 star ship but it delivers great value for money and I will sail on her again