Pacific Pearl Entertainment
Pacific Pearl has something for everyone in the entertainment department. Daytime activities range from a martini mixology class and wine-tastings to scrapbooking and ballroom dance classes. There are also karaoke, trivia and bingo almost every day somewhere onboard. On sea days especially, the daily itinerary is packed with interesting activities, and the outdoor big-screen on the pool deck, which is largely used for broadcasting movies, full-length concerts, and live sports -- including rugby league AFL during the season -- has proven to be such a hit that one was recently installed on Pacific Dawn during a major refurbishment.
Evening entertainment in the Marquee Theatre is largely standard cruise-ship fare, combining lively Broadway-style production shows with guest entertainers from the worlds of song, dance, magic and comedy. Impressive production shows that run across the fleet include "Pirates of the Pacific," a fast-paced, interactive show for the whole family, taking passengers on a virtual pirate voyage, and "Life As We Know It," a contemporary musical performance reflecting on aspects of human life, including love, loss, fear and joy.
The Dome is another major entertainment venue, yet very different from the venue of the same name on sister ship Pacific Dawn. On Dawn, it's a huge dome-shaped space at the top front of the ship, as well as a major design feature for which the architect Renzo Piano is famous. It's used for everything from dance classes by day to live bands and disco music by night. On Pacific Pearl, however, although located in the same position and also dome-shaped, it's a much smaller and more intimate space. With floor-to-ceiling windows, curtains (instead of blinds) and a central dance floor, it's an ideal lounge for anyone looking for some daytime solace or evening entertainment. The decor features rich purple and beige tones, but it has enough zest to transform successfully into a nightspot after dark.
Deck 7 is where the main lounges and bars are located, including the Orient Pub. It specializes in whiskies and has a traditional decor to match, featuring Chesterfield-style furniture, lashings of dark wood, sports memorabilia and dark red upholstery. Also on Deck 7 is Connexions, which used to be Trumps Card Room in a former life and doubles as both a day and nighttime spot. It is a lovely, meandering space, featuring a combination of plush lounges, casual wicker chairs, stools at the bar and a stage for live performances. The color scheme is also easy on the eyes: soft grey and purple with touches of mauve and gold. Tucked away slightly on Deck 6 is Mix, which also leads a double life as a cafe and a bar, with highlights including ocean views by day and live piano music at night.
Pacific Pearl's bars also have a variety of live music entertainment nightly, including the ship's band and acts like a singing duo or crooning pianist. The highlight of the ship's performances is Pacific Cirque, a highly talented young acrobatic troupe hailing from Colombia. They put on a floating circus of juggling, fire-eating and daring acrobatics very much in the Cirque du Soleil style. It's a spectacular show, whether performed indoors or out. In fact, a special outdoor venue on Deck 12 is set up especially for them.
Another popular entertainment feature of a P&O cruise is the theme night, which is not only an excuse for passengers to dress up, but also to get involved in a variety of fun activities like scavenger hunts and have their photographs taken in costume. Themes range from country and western to 60's rock 'n' roll.
When Pacific Pearl was refitted to become Ocean Village, it also lost its library in favor of a small casino on Deck 5. It has a bar and limited seating for anyone not in the mood to gamble.
Cruising mostly from Sydney, Pacific Pearl's itineraries largely focus on the Pacific Islands, including Vanuatu and New Caledonia, New Zealand during the summer season, and Queensland during the winter. There are plenty of excursion options available to suit all tastes, ages and fitness levels. In New Zealand, you can opt to go to cooking school in Akaroa, sightsee in Auckland or visit legendary Marlborough vineyards from Napier.
In The Pacific Islands, you can enjoy all manner of water sports and the great outdoors with everything from diving, snorkeling and four-wheel-drive adventures to visiting the relics of World War II in Luganville, Vanuatu, and immersing yourself in local culture in a village in Fiji. In Australia, the options are endless, from a wine country tour surrounding Adelaide and historic walking tours in Hobart to an Aboriginal bush experience from Townsville.
Pacific Pearl Public Rooms
In the 2012 refurbishment, public areas were treated to a freshened look with new carpeting. The ship's central Atrium, a three-level hub midship, remains a major passenger hangout area, its decor now with a focus more on elegant earth tones. The lower level of the Atrium on Deck 5 is where you'll find reception and shore tour desks, as well as the popular Charlie's cafe, featuring barista-made coffees, premium teas, cakes and plenty of seating to enjoy all three.
A collection of shops surrounds the Atrium on various levels, selling the usual clothing, jewelry, P&O memorabilia, duty-free items, beauty products, perfume, alcohol and tobacco. A tech store offers a small selection of digital cameras, mp3 players and iPod accessories.
The Lounge on Deck 8 is home to a small bank of computers if you need to stay in touch with the outside world. The ship is meant to have Wi-Fi throughout, but The Lounge tends to be the best place for a decent signal if you're using your own laptop. Beware: There is no IT Manager to call on if you have any issues.
If you don't mind doing your own laundry and pressing, there are several self-service laundry rooms with irons that you can use for a small fee.
Pacific Pearl Spa & Fitness
The main open deck (Deck 12) has two small square-shaped pools, both of which have a depth of 6 feet 3 inches (1.92 metres). On one side of the deck, the pool is open to everyone, and it's the location of the big screen and the stage for outdoor Pacific Cirque performances; the pool on the other side is for adults only, and it's attached to a bar, allowing for cooling swim-up drinks. A new addition to Deck 12 is a New Zealand Natural ice cream parlor, serving ice cream at a cost of A$5 for one scoop, A$6.50 for two scoops and A$7.50 for three. The Oasis is a separate, intimate outdoor retreat for adults only, located at the rear of the ship. It's a decent-sized space that features luxury sun loungers, comfy couches and chairs for relaxing, fake plants for decoration, and a bar which is open all day. It also has two Jacuzzis if you want to relax with a drink and watch the scenery float by.
The Aqua HealthSpaFitness Centre was left in its dungeon-like venue on Deck 2 when the ship was refitted for its Sydney debut back in 2010, but it was rebuilt from the ground up to improve it aesthetically. It has a lovely color scheme of white and purple with warm wood and a brightly patterned carpet; highlights include a couple's treatment room with a shower and Jacuzzi, and a relaxation area with four recliners and silver detailing. The spa has a full-service menu of indulgent, if pricey, Elemis experiences, from massages and facials to acupuncture and teeth-whitening. This is also the place to sign up for any complimentary health seminars or fitness classes, some of which levy a fee. Pilates and yoga, for example, costs A$11 per class, while a series of four boot camp sessions will set you back A$99.
Deck 2 is also home to the large beauty salon, which shares the same decor as the spa, and a small two-level gym in the center, with weight machines, free weights and cardio equipment, including treadmills. The gym has no view, and it's somewhat stuffy, but its diminutive size also means it's particularly busy on sea days. There's a water fountain, and fresh towels are provided free of charge.