P&O has always been popular with families, thanks to a wide range of activities and age-specific clubs for children. Although there was a healthy number of kids on our cruise, they were hardly seen, except during mealtimes and around the pool area on sea days. The minimum age to cruise is 12 months, and kids club admission is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure you get in early to register your kids for participation, as space is limited. Especially during school holidays, there can be up to 700 junior cruisers onboard.
Like all P&O ships, Pacific Dawn has a Youth Activity Team that organizes everything, and clubs stay open until 10 p.m. Kids clubs include Turtle Cove on Deck 6 for ages 3 to 6, offering movies, cartoons, scavenger hunts, talent shows and disco nights, with arts and crafts for a fee. It's an airy space decorated with a bright palette of yellow, pink and blue, with low-rise yellow tables and blue and white chairs. In the same location on Deck 6, Shark Shack is where 7- to 10-year-olds can enjoy a range of activities similar to those of their younger siblings, with the addition of PlayStation 2 and 3 competitions and an iPad activity program. This space is also bright and airy, with colorful bean bags, decorative surf boards on the walls and a wall of TV screens for computer games.
HQ and HQ+ are completely separate lounge-style venues, located aft on Deck 14, where the 11- to 17-year-olds hang out to enjoy a range of activities and entertainment like sporting competitions, pizza parties, talent shows, mocktail parties and hip-hop classes. With the bonus of a small outside deck to call their own, the lounge has a funky design marked by comfy bright-red couches dotted with black and white cushions, flat-screen TVs on the walls, and gaming stations. Teens also enjoyed a number of special events during the cruise, including a Teen Prom Night and Teen Farewell Disco.
For adults seeking some alone time late at night, group baby-sitting is available from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at a cost of A$5 for one child, per hour, with a second child costing an extra $2 per hour. Parents of kids aged 3 to 6 are given pagers, and they're encouraged to check on their kids regularly.