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Pacific Dawn Review

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52% of cruisers loved it
Why Go?
  • Multimillion-dollar update in April 2012 added new features
  • Interconnecting staterooms are ideal for families
  • Giant outdoor movie screen on pool deck
  • Great facilities and entertainment for kids
  • Chases year-round summer with North Queensland and South Pacific itineraries
  • Upgraded suites and mini-suites
  • Two-story show lounge

Pacific Dawn Overview

(3.5) 3.5 out of 5+ star rating
Pacific Dawn is a veteran cruise ship, sailing with a new name and a new lease on life. Designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, the ship began its career back in 1991, cruising originally as Regal Princess. As the Princess fleet grew, however, the ship was sold to P&O in late 2007 to make way for newer and more modern ships. It later 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. It was 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, age and a design from a bygone era were evident. Compared to newer ships, Dawn had fewer balconies, a small spa buried on Deck 2 and no alternative restaurants to whet the appetite.

As a result, Pacific Dawn had a further makeover in 2010, including the addition of the popular Salt Grill by Luke Mangan dining venue. Its 2012 refurbishment has given the ship some much-needed style and nudged it further into the modern era. Although it still has the same few balcony staterooms and the same stuffy spa, the modernized accommodations and updated public venues have given this veteran vessel a new look and a more confident attitude. Standard cabins are up to scratch in terms of decor, and the new interconnecting cabins offer more choices for families and groups. Dawn's culinary offerings have also been significantly improved, with more choice and the type of flexibility many cruisers demand today. 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 quite well.

Shortcomings remain, however, including a lack of open deck space and small pools for a ship of its size. And with the lack of drinks and dining packages that are becoming so popular, you can really rack up a large number of additional charges. However, if you are looking for an affordable, no-fuss, high-seas holiday that's very Australian in style, Pacific Dawn is worth considering.

Pacific Dawn Fellow Passengers
Although the ship cruises exclusively from Brisbane, passengers hail from many other parts of Australia, including Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. The largest contingency, however, is ultimately Queenslanders, with a healthy mix of younger couples, groups of friends, families with kids and teens, and seniors.

Pacific Dawn Dress Code
By day, the dress code is extremely casual, with swimwear, shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops the norm. After 5:30 p.m., "smart casual" attire is required in public lounges and restaurants. Cruises of three to seven nights have one or two "cocktail" nights, where suggested attire is cocktail dresses for women and suits with optional ties for men.

"Theme" nights from country and western to 1960's rock 'n' roll are also slotted into the itinerary and regarded as part of the fun. Although optional, they usually feature on cruises of seven nights or longer, and if you don't fancy bringing your own gear, you can accessorize with all manner of themed goodies available from the shops onboard.
Pacific Dawn Gratuity
Tipping is regarded as an optional practice in Australia, so P&O dropped its compulsory service charges of AU$7.50 a person in late 2010. As a result, passengers don't have to tip; however, they are welcome to reward a crewmember if he or she has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

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Pacific Dawn Member Reviews 67 Reviews
   P & O Australia Cutting Services
April 2014

We have sailed 4 times on the Pacific Dawn, once on the Pacific Sun and once on Pacific Jewell since 2008. The services offered by P & O are getting worse with each trip. The number of passengers on the Dawn has risen from 1590 as stated on a ...continue

   Never again on P&O
April 2014

In all the years I've been a member of Cruise Critic I have never written a disgruntled and poor review but this time, the Pacific Dawn deserves my wrath. Apparently P&O have cut crew numbers down and this is very apparently everywhere you ...continue

Not Rated
   PNG - our first cruise
April 2014

Last Wednesday we joined Pacific Dawn for their PNG cruise – our first cruise. We did not know what to expect although research had told us that our ship was in the ‘modest fare’ bracket.

Our cabin was fine, small but ...continue

1 - 3 of 67 Reviews

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Ship Stats
Crew: 696
Launched: 1991
Decks: 11
Tonnage: 70,310
Passengers: 1,950
Registry: London
CDC Score: Not yet inspected
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