Yesterday we arrived home from a fantastic holiday with our 22mth old darling son (hereafter refereed to as DS)on the Pacific Dawn cruising Week Fantastique. I have based this review around how the cruise fared as a 'toddler friendly' holiday, as despite many many hours researching, there seems to be hardly any info our there recommending good family holidays for kids under 3!
The first few days we dined at the buffet. We never had trouble finding a high chair, though unfortunately one person would have to sit at the table with DS while the other got some food, then swap over. This could be quite painful when sometimes it would take 15-20mins each to get through the buffet line. The main complaint I have heard about Pacific Dawn is the quality of food in the Buffet, and sadly I have to agree. The deserts are ok, but apart from that the food is nothing to rave about - similar to what you would get in a university cafeteria. There also wasnt much that DS liked to eat, so he lived off deserts and bread rolls. The one good thing is that there is always milk at the coffee station, so we visited there whenever we wanted to fill up his sippy cup with milk. Also I would alway pop into the buffet early in the morning and grab a bananna, a muffin and some yoghurt, and take it back to our room in case DS felt like an afternoon snack between meal times. However, once we discovered the Palm court Dining room we never went back to the buffet.
The Food at the Palm court Dining room is amazing! At dinner there is a full kids menu including dessert. DS loved the chicken nuggets, pasta, pork schnitzel ad fish fillets, oh and the chocolate cake of course. At lunch you can order off the adults menu for kids - we usually got DS some chip, steamed veges, fruit skewers with yoghurt, or cheese, and some kind of dessert. At breakfast as soon as he was seated they always brought him a muffin or a Danish, then I usually ordered him weetbix, yohurt and fruit, or toast to follow (though nothing stopping you from ordering bacon and eggs for your little one if thats what they like!). But not only is the food great, the waiters are exceptional. They always had a high chair ready for him, always fussed over him (and remembered his name) and made DS animals and hats out of his napkin. Also a few nights DS decided to fuss while I was ordering, and they quickly rushed over and amused him while I looked through the menu. Even the supervisor made a fuss over him. They were amazing - I have never ever been so well treated at a restaurant.
Our Cabin and the dreaded "Day Naps!"
It is actually very easy to get your child off to sleep in the cabin, as there is a little 'nook' out of view of the beds. I happily sat there reading for 15mins while DS went to sleep, then once asleep we dragged out the portable DVD player and watched movies (with headphones) til he woke. Very relaxing, especially with a cocktail!
On Board Activities:
Although too young for kids club, DS was never bored. We went to the kids club everyday with him to give him a play( was wonderful), and there were also kids shows in the entertainment lounge. We also went swimming (as his is toilet trained), and he also just loved hanging out on lido deck playing with the other toddlers. Our favourite thing to do was to take all his colouring books and toys up to a booth in "the dome" at the front of the ship, and he would happily play while we watched the scenery. He also loved watching the shows at night - surprising for him as we usually have trouble getting him to sit still for more than 5mins! It was a wonderful holiday and he loved every minute of it!
Ports: - just quickly as am running out of space
Noumea - book a tchoo train ride in the terminal for $25 per adult, DS loved it.
Lifou - Paradise! We walked with DS to the church on the hill, then spent the rest of the day swimming at the lovely beach right where the tenders pull up.
Villa - Unfortunatelt cascade waterfalls didnt really suit a toddler, so we taxi'd it to the markets, and from there caught a water ferry to Iririki Island resort - for $35 we got use of the resorts beautiful pool, private beach, plus a lovely lunch.
Just a side note us (the adults) loved it too - if you are considering the Pacific Dawn for a holiday with young kids then I have 2 words for you - do it!