All in all I enjoyed the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. It was very relaxing, but I did spend more time in my cabin than I thought I would. This was probably more due to roughish seas and overcast weather than anything else, but I do have to note that the Australian passengers were often a miserable lot. A lot of people walked around with faces like smacked a*ses, which is always a bit depressing on a cruise.
We visited Noumea, Port Vila and Lifou on the cruise.
Embarkation was fine. No problems whatsoever.
Noumea: We came off the ship to discover it was a public holiday in Noumea, and therefore all tours etc were useless as attractions were closed. Luckily we had booked none as we were intending to see the city sights, unluckily they were also closed. It seems Noumea takes its public holidays very seriously. The city was run down looking and empty and a bit eerie - I'm sure it would be a much nicer city with everything open and people everywhere. We ate some crepes at a place near the docks, but basically just wandered around took photos and boarded early. I have to say that none of us had any idea it was a public holiday. I would have thought there'd be some info somewhere, like when we docked or something.
Lifou: We didn't do much at Lifou except walk around in the heat for half an hour, hire some ratty old snorkelling gear and snorkel for most of the time there. We snorkelled where we were tendered and it was decent snorkelling - we saw turtles and many fish. It was a beautiful little island. I would have liked to see more of it - there had been a big storm that ruined the steps to a place we wanted to snorkel and people said it was too slippery to climb down to, so we just hung around the tendering point, which was lovely anyway.
Port Vila: Really enjoyed Port Vila with it's market near the dock and it's low prices in town. We went into town, ate, hired a driver to take us to the waterfall, which was fabulous (wish we'd been more prepared and spent more time there) and then went on a shore excursion to do some snorkelling. It was all good, I would definitely return to Port Vila.
Cabins on Dawn: We had 2 ocean view cabins. Really decent storages. The teens had their cabin toilet flood pretty badly. I had heard there could be problems so I was expecting this as they are ridiculous with the toilet paper. Poor cabin steward. The problem was fixed reasonably quickly and I was very happy that one of our teens was old enough that we could get a separate cabin. We had no problems with our own cabin - it was nice and comfortable and we liked our ocean view. There weren't any real perks to the cabin - we used our own toiletries and shampoo and conditioner and soap as their offerings were non-existent or poor.
Service: Had decent service all over the ship. Great cabin steward but I think he came to hate our teenagers. I don't blame him.
Food: The main dining room was fine in terms of food but very annoying in terms of booking systems. It certainly wasn't Celebrity in this regard. I liked it but it wasn't great, and eating in the buffet was pretty horrible due to crowdedness and lines and all those smack *rse faced people.
Entertainment: I enjoyed the entertainment. Some of the shows were pretty lame but I liked the circus style shows and final karaoke night.
Teens club: Mr 15 tried the club and spent a bit of time making new friends. He said it was often pretty boring. Ms 17 was not so keen on the whole scene and preferred activities like making beaded things and going wherever we went.
I thought it was a cruise with some good destinations and we were lucky to get great weather for those destinations. The sea days were always a bit cloudy and the seas were a bit rough. It was overall a pleasant experience but I don't know about booking on Dawn or with P&O again.
One last thing - we got great prices which helped make it nice. If I'd paid full price I'd have been unhappy about quite a few things. LOL