This review is based on a cruise out of Auckland, where the ship is marketed as P&O's newest addition and a NZ based ship, New Zealand's first Super-liner no less! However the ship is Australian ( bar the London registration), from currency to pub quiz questions.
The refurbishment can only be described as cheap and superficial. It looks like the budget was blown entirely on the big screen, and corners were cut everywhere else. The ambience is that of a 1980's north sea ferry, everything is brown, a mix of four different brown carpets dominate the senses.
More importantly the refurbishment was patently not finished, this was evidenced by the astonishing number of broken toilets, and all the painting and varnishing going on, which was well above and beyond the usual work to be expected. Our cabin was practically unusable for 2 days dues to the paint fumes being so strong.
Picture Removed - Workman repairing restaurant door
Not much could have been put into tuning the machinery, we left a huge dirty black cloud like a battered tramp steamer wherever we went, on occasions the wind swept the smog straight down into the open area of the sun deck. This is ridiculous in this day and age.
Picture Removed - Horrible black clouds from the funnels - these were enormous!
All the public toilets midships were non functional throughout the entire first cruise, and much was still broken on the second, comically some of the 'out of order' signs actually point one to other broken amenities. In particular the trek from the gym to a loo is a long one.
Note the useful directions:
Picture Removed - Out of order amenities
Deck 7 FWD, by the Marquee entrance:
Picture Removed - Out of order amenities ( where the directions in the first picture sent you ), there was just so much broken.....
Picture Removed - Out of order amenities
When you do finally find a toilet ( like here for the spa ) it is not exactly a marble palace:
Picture Removed - unbelievably ugly toilet, where you had to go because the spa toilets were broken.
Pacific Pearl Dining:
Breakfast is from 7-11; Lunch 11:30-15:00 and Supper is from 17:30-21:00 on tap 24 in the ship's Plantation Restaurant, an indoor/outdoor facility on Deck 12. Outdoors opens 30 minutes later and closes 30 minutes earlier. The decor in the buffet restaurant is simply awful and dowdy, much like a truckers canteen at a motorway stop, it was quite a shock initially. The buffet is built as a long line, one never knows what is available till one reaches the end, unfortunately it is a one way street. The salads are edible, just, on some days browning and wilting. Generally there is some kind of cheap beef stew, and some dryish fish, and some boiled vegetables. It made me feel like back I was back at school. The staff is, as throughout most of the ship, sullen; unsmiling; unwelcoming and generally forbidding, perhaps they signed on as prison warders on the hulk. My wife was always feeling - "please Sir, may I have some more"
Picture Removed - showing the buffet looking like a greasy spoon on the m25.
Outside was somewhat more friendly, but the offer was extremely limited - grilled sausages and minute steaks with sloppy coleslaw.
The Waterfront Restaurant on Deck 7 -- We only tried once, we sat for 15 minutes, no order was taken, no one we could see had anything but a glass of water in front of them. We gave up.
The Salt Grill by Luke Mangan
The service charge for dining here ($40 a head). No menus were published, the space allotted seemed small, dark and dingy. Uninviting enough not to have been used.
Outside the set times, there is only cake and coffee/tea on offer, at extra charge.
There is a limited room service on the ship, no tea and coffee making facilities are available, except at the buffet restaurant on deck 12.
Pacific Pearl Public Rooms
The public areas are concentrated on Decks 5, 6, 7 and 8. On Deck 5 -- the haunt of the dreadful carpeting, flanked on one side by Charlie's Bar, which serves coffees, specialty teas, cakes and drinks. Charlie's Bar charges a'la carte prices; specialty coffees (including cappuccino, latte, macchiato and Americano) cost around $3-4. On the first cruise, a small chocolate was offered with the coffee, apparently these ran out before the second cruise - I was told they ran out two days before the end of the first, but can confirm that this was simply untrue, as I saved them each day for a special treat in the evenings and definitely had some every day. Also by the second cruise the quality soy milk had been replaced by supermarket ' own brand' long life soy 'drink' which spoiled the soy lattes as it disintegrates and coagulates under heating into a nasty lumpy mess.
Pacific Pearl Spa & Fitness
The Aqua Spa on Deck 2:
The ship has two pools generally full of children, none of whom I ever saw leave the cold water for the toilets, the water looked very murky:
The spa area includes a gym (level 2 - no windows - deep in the bowels of the ship)
There is now only one gym aboard, pre renovation there were two. Not counting broken machines there are -
2 bikes (these are the space saving type, which force an unnatural upright position on the user and are quite uncomfortable)
4 awful cross trainers
a totally inadequate free training space ( no free weights )
some pulley type weight machines, elderly and needing expert setting
There were always queues. The machines are ancient and should have been replaced long ago. The gym is a disgrace for a modern 'superliner'.
Pacific Pearl Cabins
The cabin was roomy. The bed was broken and sagged in the middle, after a complaint was made a board was laid under the mattress. Backache had already set in unfortunately, I needed the services of a chiropractor after the first cruise.
Cabin 6108 is under the main stage, it sounds like a stampede of elephants when there is a song and dance show on the stage. Especially the pirate show was loud and very late.
Pacific Pearl Entertainment
Bingo and some shows were offered, nothing registered on my cultural radar, but some people seemed quite happy with it. One one occasion we tried a film showing in the Marquee, but could not find a seat with a view of the screen, the venue being very small for so many passengers.
Pacific Pearl Shopping.
The main boutique sold expensive beach gear, typical Australian brands. The luxury shops were poorly stocked with largely second rate goods- for instance 'Rotary' touted as Swiss made watches. Prices were apparently based on Australian rrp's, but original prices were not shown. A weaselly 'UP TO' 40% off was used. We checked a watch that was purchased a few weeks previously on Royal Carribean for $220 - on the Pearl the price was $400!
Pacific Pearl Gratuity
Not necessary, this may have explained the sullen attitude of many of the staff.
Simply awful, we felt trapped on board, overcharged, and totally led astray by the wildly inaccurate and dishonest marketing. Beware.