Pacific Pearl Cruise Review by OldTechie: Pacific Pearl
We went as a family who had never cruised before - Dad, Mum and 15 year old daughter. Having read some reviews, good and not-so-good, we were unsure what to expect but went with an open mind, not expecting an utterly luxurious top-of-the-range experience, and we really enjoyed it!
Our cabin was on deck 8 and had a window. I would describe the cabin as "perfectly adequate". The drawers and cupboards were quite old and tired, but they held all our clothes just fine, so what more could you ask?! The shower and toilet worked fine.
Our 15-year-old daughter soon got involved in the teens HQ+ centre, and enjoyed herself immensely. Not all the events were to her liking, not being a PS3/Wii fanatic, but she made friends with a bunch of other teenagers and had a great time.
The food was fine. We generally ate at the buffet "Plantation" for breakfast and lunch. Yes there was sometimes a queue, but it moved quite quickly and I didn't see anyone getting annoyed at the 5 More minute delay. There was plenty of salads, fruit, hot food - I think the variety was good for a 10-night cruise, but I could see myself getting a little bored if I was on the cruise for a month. But then many people went to the burger place just outside on deck 12 for a burger or hot-dog, which probably adds to the variety. For dinner we preferred the more formal "Waterfront" restaurant, where the menu and the food were lovely - not Michelin-starred restaurant exquisite, but I had no complaints. There were two evenings where the food was not quite as good as I would have expected, but overall it was very good. One of the very few complaints I had was that when we had a bottle of wine saved from the previous night, they had a lot of difficulty finding the bottle the following night. One bottle was lost (but it only had maybe half a glass in it, and the supervisor presented me with two full glasses for free so that was okay), one bottle was brought out half way through the meal, and one bottle wasn't located until after we had finished our dinner, which was a bit pointless.
The shows were top quality. We thoroughly enjoyed all the evening shows and found the dancers and performers to be highly professional. There was one comedian that my wife went to and found not to her liking, so she left after 10 minutes. But honestly, one bad show out of around 15 - 20 is not bad (and you've already paid for them as part of your cruise ticket, so we figured we would go to all the shows and just leave if we didn't enjoy one). The Marquee is not perfect - if you choose the wrong seat then you'll be sat behind a pillar and unable to see anything - but the secret is get there in plenty of time to choose a good seat. If the 7:30 show is packed, just go to the 9:30 show.
Ports: We visited four ports. We booked a shore tour at Nuku'alofa, which was good. Vava'u was pointless - the town was grubby and litter everywhere, I don't think the locals wanted us there - apart from the people selling crafts in the stalls on the dock who were VERY pushy. Dravuni Island was magical - we walked along a gorgeous beach, went snorkeling in crystal clear water, it was fantastic. Suva in Fiji, we just went for a walk through town and visited the museum which was interesting - we did have to beat off the taxi drivers though. The 15-year-old did a Flying Fox tour (which is really more of a Zip Line) and loved it.
In summary, we found this cruise very enjoyable. No, the Pacific Pearl is not a 5-star hotel, and it is not a Michelin-starred restaurant. But we enjoyed it and would recommend it. Less
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