Pacific Explorer -- formerly Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess – has unveiled its new look after an epic 12-day transformation in dry dock. The 2,000-passenger ship arrived on 19 June, two days ahead of its first cruise for P&O, after 1,000 contractors spent 200,000 hours fitting 25,000 square metres of carpet and painting 10,000 square metres of walls, plus the line's Southern Cross livery on the hull.
Now based in Australia year-round, the revamped ship introduces new features -- such as Luke Mangan's first burger joint and a pizzeria inspired by Melbourne's 400 Gradi -- as well as two waterslides, barefoot bowls, a gin bar and a cabaret club.
Photographer and travel agent Tim Faircloth was one of the first people onboard Pacific Explorer, gaining early entry to take these wonderful photos for Cruise Critic.
Welcome aboard! This is the foyer, showing off the contemporary decor and glamorous, golden finishes. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The bad news is Luke Mangan's popular Salt Grill is gone; the good news is he's replaced it with burgers by the pool. Luke's serves gourmet burgers (from $9), chips ($4) chicken wings and hot dogs (from $7). If you really love his food, you can also throw down $99 for A Taste of Salt seven-course degustation dinner with matching wines at the Chef's Table.
The sun deck and giant movie screen may remind you of Dawn Princess in its layout but the deck chairs have that distinctive blue and white P&O design, with a few white lounges closer to the pool.
Those crazy, curly, blue tubes are the two longest waterslides at sea. One slide is transparent so you can watch people whooshing through its twists and turns, while the other slide has music blasting through it.
As if that wasn't fun enough, the side-by-side design means two passengers can race each other to the bottom!
The Blue Room returns with its sulty ambience to suit the live music at night.
Birdcages adds a wacky touch to the Dragon Lady restaurant serving complimentary Asian cuisine.
Angelo's Italian restaurant is back in this classy venue for a special night out.
The Waterfront main dining room is incredibly glamorous for a free restaurant offering complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
The Pantry has new free food outlets such as Nic and Toni's Mediterranean as well as old favourites such as the Sugar Bar for desserts (pictured), Curry House, Mexicana, Stix (stir fry), Fat Cow (meat), Hook's Fish & Chips, McGregor's Garden (salads), and Kettle & Bun (soups and sandwiches).
These friendly waiters, Sophia Loren and a Vespa are waiting for you in Angelo's.
Ocean Bar is an inviting space to settle in during the day or night.
Bring a piece of Explorer back with you to keep your cruise memories alive. P&O Home is a new onboard store full of gorgeous homewares.
Have you booked cabin 11143? Here's your room! The cabins have not been renovated except for new carpet -- and that's still a work in progress.
Strictly for adults, Black Circus is the controversial cabaret club. The adults-only show, Love Riot, costs $15, which has provoked a mixed response from Cruise Critic members. You also get a free cocktail and souvenir glass, which seems like good value to us -- almost like getting your money back! The 90-minute show can be combined with a degustation dinner for $29 (which also includes the cocktail in a souvenir glass).
Other entertainment (for no extra charge) takes place in The Marquee Showlounge (two brand new stage shows -- a high-energy Rock show and a Gatsby-themed production featuring a cast of 10 performers -- plus three other shows, along with guest entertainers and the Sit Down Comedy Club.
Forget going down the bowlo, the coolest place to play barefoot bowls is in the middle of the ocean -- a first for an Australian cruise ship. Pacific Explorer's top-deck games area also has a bar, boules and daybeds, making it one of the most difficult places to leave on a sunny day.
Stay tuned for our full review of Pacific Explorer -- coming soon!
Updated January 08, 2020