This was to be my wifes and my third cruise with P&O Aus, after sailing on the Pacific Sun, we had a lot of advertising about a refurbished ship, even received a cardboard ship silouette that was scented and advertised as a new ship smell.
My wife has mobility issues so opted for the wheel chair access, embarkation and disembarkation were both very efficient well done P&O, unfortunately it does not get any better.
Below decks the accomadation was a drab grey colour with small framed prints, but it appeared very much like an institution not a passenger liner.
Our bags arrived soon after we did, while we had lunch at the buffet.
The ship sailed basically on time although there was a problem getting the ship off the wharf due to a strong wind holding the ship against the wharf, we were warned of possible 14 seas, however the ship handled the sea well.
We dined at the Waterfront Restaurant, service at our table most nights was appallingly slow, 40 minutes one night to wait for the menu to arrive.Some of the menu was generic to the Sun except it wasn't as nice, it appeared that some of it was over micro waved and not very appealing,we tried to book into the specialty restaurant but this was booked out.
The cocktails at the Orient Bar were terrible compared to the same drinks on the Sun, in fact the bar tender was very uncaring unless it was for the ships officers who drank there.
The cruise director whilst excellent at the marquee theatre, was invisible for the rest of the cruise, her staff could not get anyone to particapte in the 'battle of the sexes' or the 'spoon diving competition', maybe if the cruise staff had turned the loud big screen tv down, more people would have heard the cruise staff.The cruise staff need to have lessons from Sandy on the Sun who was busy all day, with tv interviews of different crew members, daily quizzes, being involved with crew against passenger pool volleyball etc.
The Marquee theatre has the most user unfriendly seating I have seen on the upper theatre deck you cannot see the stage as there is a rail at eye height from all points.
On a more positive note our cabin steward 'Leizel' was very good.
Ports of Call: Norfolk Island it was too rough to put the tenders down here, the second cruise in a row that we have not been able to go ashore at Norfolk Island, it appears very few cruise ships can put tenders down here, so maybe P&O should reconsider this as a port of call. The other ports we called at were Noumea,Lifou, Port Vila and Mystery Island, we have previously called at these places and have enjoyed them and their activities each time we have been to them.
The ship has not had a total refurbishment, apart from a big tv on the upper deck it appears very little for the passengers had been done, in saying so we did not go to the gym or casino, so cant comment on them.
While we will probably cruise on P&O Aus again, I doubt it will be on the Pearl.
C'mon P&O lift your game you can do better.