Pacific Dawn is a veteran cruise ship, designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano. It began its career back in 1991, cruising originally as Regal Princess, but as the Princess fleet grew, the ship was sold to P&O in late 2007 to make way for newer and more modern ships. It debuted in Sydney as Pacific Dawn in 2008.
In the two years that followed, two more ships joined the P&O fleet: Pacific Jewel in December 2009 and Pacific Pearl at the end of 2010. The arrival of these additional vessels prompted Pacific Dawn to relocate to Brisbane, a move that proved popular among Queensland cruisers, giving them a locally based cruise ship to call their own.
Although Pacific Dawn had a much-needed refurbishment in Singapore before its debut with P&O in 2008, a combination of age and a design from a bygone era was evident. Compared to newer ships, Dawn had fewer balconies, a small spa buried on Deck 2 and no alternative restaurants.
In 2010, another makeover included the addition of the popular Salt Grill by Luke Mangan dining venue. Its 2012 refurbishment, however, gave the ship some much-needed style and nudged it further into the modern era. Although the ship still has few balcony staterooms, the modernized accommodations and updated public spaces have given this seasoned vessel a new look and a more confident attitude.
As a result, Dawn now has its own clearly defined personality, with standard cabins coming up to scratch, decor-wise, and the interconnecting cabins offering more choices for families and groups. Dawn's culinary offerings have also been significantly improved, with more choice and flexibility. And if there's one good thing about the ship's age, it's that it is solid enough to handle the big seas of the Tasman and South Pacific.
Shortcomings remain, however, including a lack of balconies, a lack of open deck space and small pools for a ship of Pacific Dawn's size. It's also a ship where you can rack up a large number of additional charges; for example, there are no drink or dining packages available.
However, if you're looking for an affordable, no-fuss high-seas holiday with Australian style, Pacific Dawn is worth considering.