Pacific Dawn's principal theatre is The Marquee on Deck 8 with tiered seating and two upper balconies. There is a waitress service for drinks, but meals are not served in this theatre. The venue is used for a range of activities including a pre-tender muster station, all manner of demonstrations, daily bingo, destination lectures, and evening entertainment/production shows. There was a consensus with some cruiseaholics that the quality of the shows and entertainment was not as good as it had been in the past, and that cost cuts have contributed to a 'Holiday Camp at Sea'-style atmosphere.
Entertainment and activities are available throughout the day with a lot of staff versus passenger challenger games and everything else from making bead bracelets and necklaces to bingo, family trivia games, beanbag throwing competitions, staff versus passenger water polo, mini golf putting, Sudoku games, dance lessons, cocktail-making sessions, wine and whisky tastings, art auctions, card games, battle of the sexes Pictionary, talent shows, arts and crafts, lectures, teen jams, table tennis, word games, water aerobics and family scavenger hunts.
A big screen on Lido Deck 12 (I mean really, really big) shows videos during the day time and also a blockbuster movie every evening at 9.30 pm, so it is a place the whole family can hang out and enjoy together. Besides the main bars -- where there is a revolving range of shows, contests or singers entertaining the crowd, there is live entertainment most days on the Lido stage starting at 3:30 pm, as well as the piano melodies or a duo playing in the Atrium from 3 pm till late. The casino is open 24 hours for slot machines and from noon till late for all table games. The Keno corner is open from 6 pm until 8 pm. Gambling tournaments range from $30 Texas Hold'em, a $20 Pokies Tournament, and Blackjack competitions.
Pacific Dawn Bars and Lounges
One of the most popular spots onboard is the cafe and bar known as, Charlie's' in the Atrium foyer on Deck 5. The greatest concentration of bars however is on Deck 7, with the small and intimate Mix Cocktail Bar, the Orient 'Karaoke' Bar and The Promenade 'Piano' Bar. If you head into the Casino on Deck 8 you will also find the small Players Bar and relaxation area. On Aft Deck 10, seek out the outdoor Oasis 'lounge' bar -- perfect for late afternoon cocktails. Up at the Lido on Deck 12 is the well-stocked and lively outdoor Lido Pool Bar as well as The Cafe and a small bar near the rear exit of the Plantation Restaurant. Finally, for those late night parties, head to the Dome Bar on Deck 14, which stays open to at least 2 am. Note: There are now two beverage packages available on Pacific Dawn: a $69 a day all-inclusive Premium Beverage Package (10 days for $690 per person), which includes all drinks and alcohol to the value of $12 a glass, as well as a $7 unlimited soft drink package (10 days for $70 per child)
Charlie's Bar (Atrium Deck 5): Open for coffee and snacks from 7 am, and for alcoholic drinks from 10 am until midnight. On the porthole side of Charlie's there is stool seating for six with two additional lounge chairs in the corner. The main lobby of the Atrium has lounge seating for 72 people, and before dinner or ahead of a shore excursion, it is one of the busiest bars onboard the ship. This area is also one of the noisiest gathering points on the ship, as a number of games such as trivia are held here as well as piano melodies in the afternoon. Even though the bar is relatively small it has a good range of spirits and a few select wines and a very friendly bar staff.
Mix Cocktail Bar (Atrium Deck 7): This bar is often closed through much of the day to cater to 'Mixology Classes'. There is seating for 24 people including six bar stools within the bar confines. As you might expect, it offers a huge range of spirits due to the emphasis placed on making cocktails, although there are some wines available as well. It's popular from 5 pm onwards for pre-dinner drinks. Note: There are 20 additional lounge chairs surrounding the Atrium balcony on this level where you can also relax with a drink.
Orient Bar (Deck 7): This bar is consistently busy from the moment it opens until midnight. This is often affectionately known as the 'Karaoke Bar' as this music session happens every night. The long bar is one of the best stocked onboard as it can cater to more than 130 people with a range of seating -- from six wingback chairs to seven leather lounge sofas and 112 lounge chairs. There is also a long, high table set back from the bar facing the stage, for standing room only. The atmosphere in here is what I would class as a fun-filled rowdy place that is ideal for groups to socialise in.
Promenade Bar (Deck 7): Sometimes known as the 'piano bar' because of the grand piano that is its permanent centrepiece, this bar is really only active in the evening as the company 'Park West' take over the space to hold daily art auctions for the duration of the cruise. Elevator-type music is not so much belted out as gently sung by one of two pianists or guitar playing duos on board. The fully-stocked semi-circular bar has nine stools at the counter, lounge seating for 70 more passengers, as well as four large couches and three smaller couches to snuggle up together in.
Casino Players Bar (Deck 8): This bar is not the quietest place to sit and enjoy a cocktail, once the pokies and the tables get crowded, but it does provide 26 lounge seats to relax in where large screen televisions often feature sporting events. For gamblers wanting to drink and have a flutter, expect to find four card tables, two roulette tables, as well as electronic Keno and two electronic Blackjack and Texas Hold'em tables. Far and away the biggest attraction are the 70 pokies machines that dominate the room.
Oasis Aft Sundeck Bar (Deck 10): This little spot on Deck 10 is the place to escape the kids and relax in a peaceful outdoor environment. It offers large comfy lounging settees and an assortment of tables and chairs with its own private bar that also has a chaise lounge waitress service and access to Deck 11. Soft music plays in the background as passengers, martini in hand, gaze out to sea.
Cafe Bar (Deck 12): At the opposite end of the Lido Bar is a relaxing cafe that also doubles as a small bar, primarily serving a range of coffees from 6.30 am, but after 10 am you can also order a cold beer or glass of wine. The comfy home-style couches make it a place to unwind at any time of day up until 10.30 pm.
Lido Bar (Deck 12): Probably the biggest bar on board the Pacific Dawn is this one. Beer, wine, spirits and cocktails are often served to groups of sun worshippers from 10 am onwards until late in the evening. Not surprisingly, many of the outdoor activities are right here on the Lido Deck where parents can keep a watchful, if slightly wonky eye, on their charges. The atmosphere is downright casual, beach-like and playful with a range of seating that includes chaise lounges, to soft-foam, bench-style places to plop down and there are even some swinging hammocks.
Plantation Bar (Deck 12): It's slightly surprising to find that there isn't a fixed bar in the Plantation Buffet Restaurant, so to compensate for this oversight they management have jury-rigged a bar near the rear exit to the outer Aft Deck. Bottled beer is served from an ice filled-cooler, red and white wines and a few spirits are also available, but it is not a place you hang around, more for the diners convenience that allows them to have a alcoholic beverage with their meals.
Dome Bar (Deck 14): Open for alcoholic drinks every day at sea from 10 am, but closed on port days until 3 pm. Besides being a late-night entertainment venue, the adult-only shows such as the 'Sit Down Comedy Club' fill all the seats and late-night DJs take over until at least 2 am. The venue doubles as a DJ-fed dance floor at night, place for trivia pursuits and quizzes. There is also a dance class area during the day.
This is a bar that comes to life on party-theme nights: one of the theme parties was the The Great Gatsby – Family Gatsby started at 6 pm, and at 7 pm it became a Teens Gatsby Party. At 9 pm the adults'-only Gatsby Party was held in the Atrium foyer on Deck 5
Pacific Dawn Outside Recreation
On the Lido Deck 10, there are two swimming pools separated by an elevated, canopy-covered, chaise lounge deck that doubles as a live entertainment platform on certain days. The swimming pools are oblong and one is for adults only; the other same-sized pool for children also has another elevated, child-friendly pool that is shallower and much smaller. Both pools have two hot tubs are surrounded by sun lounges from front to back. For those wanting to enjoy the view out to sea while sunbathing and sipping cocktails there are two adults'-only hot tubs on Deck 10, which are also surrounded by sun loungers.
There is no end to the activities that are available aboard the Pacific Dawn, but many come at a price. The P&O Edge program ranges from $19 for adults and $14 for kids for slackline surfing to as much as $49 for adults and $44 for children for a Segway introduction/obstacle course combination. Other P&O Edge activities onboard Pacific Dawn include abseiling, walking the plank, the bouldering wall, climbing wall, crows nest, flat line, flying fox (zipline), high ropes, low ropes, bow ladder experience, aft funnel rock climbing, sphere climb, Titanic experience, bungy trampoline and Segway rides.
The back deck of the ship is the place to head to if you want some peace and quiet and it is on Aft Deck 11 where you will find two adult-only hot tubs surrounded by 34 sun lounges, which are constantly in use. Drop down below to Aft Deck 10 and that is where you'll find even more serenity from the hub-hub of the main Lido Pool area. There is a combination of 16 hard-backed chairs around tables to soft fabric, laidback sofas as well as 28 wavy-shaped sun loungers. There is no fee to access this 18+ age group area and as such it is always quiet, but never overcrowded.
Although there is no designated card room or library, bingo is played in the Marquee Theatre. There is a heavy emphasis on gift shops selling duty free items, jewellery, watches, designer bags, tourist knick-knacks, beach wear, candy and chocolates. On the Lido Deck 12, the Aqua Hut sells a range of swimwear and also they stock a range of fins, masks and snorkels for hire purchase. Art exhibitions and art auctions are also a big part of this particular cruise ship's offerings, which are held in the Promenade Bar on Deck 7. Passenger services include a full shore tour passenger services desk in the Atrium on Deck 5. There are two self-serve laundry rooms on Decks 5 and 10 -- each with 10 washing machines and 10 dryers along with four ironing boards and irons. If you need to have the full treatment makeover before a big party night take the elevator down to Deck 2 where the Hair & Beauty Salon is located.
Interestingly, tucked in one corner of the casino on Deck 8 are five computers offering Internet access once you have purchased a package. Wireless Internet packages are available but reception is not available in many of the cabins, so it's a case of moving into some of the public areas to find the right spot to logon if you have your own laptop or tablet. Prices are as follows: Pay and go plan A$0.75 per minute, 15 minutes for $8.25, 30 minutes for $15, 100 minutes for $55, 150 minutes from $75 and 250 minutes for $100.