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5 Auckland to Pacific Coastal Cruise Reviews

Having downsized our large property after our children left home we’re now in a situation where we can spend money on traveling to the places that we have been dreaming about for years, the question was where to start first? Having done ... Read More
Having downsized our large property after our children left home we’re now in a situation where we can spend money on traveling to the places that we have been dreaming about for years, the question was where to start first? Having done a reasonable amount of Australia when our children were growing up, we decided that a trip to our local House of Travel in Motueka to investigate cruising was the best place to start. Friends and family had already been on Princess Line cruises with great feedback on how much they had enjoyed themselves. After seeing what was available to suit our schedule and what we considered to be the best value we decided on the Fiji Encounter with P&O and promptly booked and paid for our tickets. Excitedly we returned home and started further researching our dream breakaway only to be horrified by the online reviews of what seemed to be the holiday from hell so if you’ve just found yourself in this situation I want you to take a breath and relax, Pacific Aria is not five stars but be realistic you haven’t paid for five stars so if you board Aria with a determination to have a great holiday you won’t be disappointed. The ship; Pacific Aria is the smallest ship in the P&O fleet but still packs in all the features that you would expect on the larger ships just on a smaller scale. I would have to say that the Aria is not the greatest ship that I’ve traveled on after we encountered a few days of rough weather, neither of us suffers from motion sickness but there were onboard reports of our fellow travelers struggling with the conditions. Our advice would be to take a sea legs tablet the day before you depart and keep taking them for the remainder of your cruise if you’re concerned about seasickness. We had a balcony room on deck 10 and the condition of the room had lost a bit of its gloss from new and could do with a refresh up. Still, it was very clean, and our room Stewart’s were amazing at keeping it spotless. Again, the Aria is not five stars and we spent very little time in our cabin anyway. The restaurants and bars have faired better and still retain a lot of the original shine. Dining; This is where we feel that the Aria has been unfairly slammed the most in online reviews, so we took special note of what was on offer. The Pantry, is where you can eat as much as you like pretty much when you like and has a good selection on café type food it looked well stocked and clean we only had one quick lunch here and it seemed to be on par with other cafes that we’ve grabbed a quick bite at when in a hurry. In short nothing spectacular but by no means bad. The Waterfront restaurant is where you can dine for all three meals on sea days and has a varied menu with great service. We tried a bit of everything, and it was nicely prepared if slightly lacking in imagination. Again, they’re preparing a lot of meals and dealing with a lot of dietary needs, so we gave them a solid 7 for food and a 10 for service. Angelo’s is one of the two specialty restaurants onboard the Aria that is included in your fare and is well worth a visit. We dined there twice and sampled both menus A and menu B. Angelo’s has beautiful décor and good service. We gave Angelo’s an 8 for food and an 8 for the overall dining experience. The Dragon Lady; “Wow” This is not what we expected when we paid our fare, we would have to rate Dragon Lady as one of the best restaurants that we’ve dined at. This is qualified by over forty years of combined experience in the hospitality and service sectors. We gave menu A, a well-deserved 10 and Menu B a solid 8. Service was exceptional. We dined there on four occasions and would’ve gladly eaten there every night. This is the best GF menu that we’ve ever seen, anywhere! Just needs another GF dessert option on menu B. Salt Grill by Luke Mangan; This is billed as the best dining experience onboard P&O and is the only place where you have to pay an additional surcharge so we were looking forward to something special and at the risk of upsetting our Aussie brothers and sisters we were underwhelmed with both the menu and the service. The food is good, it’s just not as good as it’s hyped up to be and we found the service to be slightly arrogant. In fairness, I do have a GF diet so maybe some of the ingredients had to be removed from the dishes, but this wasn’t an issue elsewhere on Aria. We gave Salt Grill a 7 for the food and a 7 for service. Entertainment; this is where the Pacific Aria shines as the production shows held in the Marquee are world-class with slick choreography and singing which is supported by great lighting and sound. Our favorite was Johnny Balance the Comedian Magician who had us laughing so much that it hurt. Name that tune with Georgie, Cruise Director Cole’s morning Trivia, Bingo with Cameron, Pacific Popstar and the riotous Rock the Room were some of the other standouts for us. Unfortunately, the Ocean Bar is just not big enough for all of those wanting to participate in the fun. This is also where the Aria fell short with the themed parties that were a bit of a let down as we had visions of us dancing the night away in a grand setting, but full marks must go to Cole and his wonderful team. If you can’t find something fun to do on the Aria, we would suggest that you check your pulse. Music and Bars; There is a range of theme bars with matched live music that is of a high standard our favorites were Kawai and Ian Berry, but they were all great. As far as the bars go the Blue Room was the standout for us due to the excellent service and late-night coffees. It’s a great place to chill out reading with a premium coffee during the day or to enjoy live music and a cocktail in the evening. We would also like to rebuff the online nonsense regarding short poured drinks as the drinks that we watched being made were always prepared using the correct standard measures. Bar hygiene was also of a very high standard. We weren’t cruising with any children of our own and there was plenty on board, but we hardly ever saw them we can only assume that they were locked away in the engine room or having the time of their lives in the kid’s clubs and pools. Shore excursions; These were of an acceptable standard for us but we would suggest that P&O send some undercover team along from time to time to make sure that standards are being maintained our tour guides were great on the bus but left us to our devices once we arrived at our destinations. We found a lot more was on offer once we moved away from the group and went exploring on our own. The standout was the amazing cultural shows and singing. The only bad point was the tender trip into Port Denarau which took an hour in very hot and humid conditions. Overall, we had a great time cruising with P&O and would do it again on one of their bigger ships but in saying that the letdowns due to the size and age of Pacific Aria were expertly papered over by the outstanding crew. Pacific Aria is still a fun place to spend a value-packed holiday and a great introduction into the world of cruising. David and Gaylene, Motueka NZ. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Having been on an earlier cruise on the Pacific Jewel we decided to do a longer cruise on the Pacific Aria. The ship was smaller and more intimate than the Jewel but parts were quite dated and we noticed an almost musty smell in our cabin. ... Read More
Having been on an earlier cruise on the Pacific Jewel we decided to do a longer cruise on the Pacific Aria. The ship was smaller and more intimate than the Jewel but parts were quite dated and we noticed an almost musty smell in our cabin. The service could not be faulted from the housekeeping staff, the entertainment, the restaurants and we felt the food was superior in the Waterfront to previous although not so keen on the pantry food. We were fortunate enough to be gifted a lunch at Luke Mangins Salt Grill and the steaks were absolutely the best we have ever had and would give them a 10+ We felt this ship being smaller was more rockier than previous but it may have been due to the weather. Special thanks to our Room Stewards Viddy and Elmer for helping us and making our stay just that ore special with their service. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
As first time cruisers and after reading mountains of negative Pearl Cruise Review's I was most reluctant to go and nervous as heck! My goodness all hesitations, expectations and nerves went right out the window. For first time ... Read More
As first time cruisers and after reading mountains of negative Pearl Cruise Review's I was most reluctant to go and nervous as heck! My goodness all hesitations, expectations and nerves went right out the window. For first time cruisers considering a 'real holiday break' let me share our experience; Initial first day check in/boarding - you will experience queues with a small wait time but the lines move fairly quickly. I have to say its much better than airport queues! Once you get to the check in counter you must produce your passport, tickets and visa/credit card/debit to register in their system. You will be have a your photo taken and be given a cruise swipecard which you will use for the entire cruise. The card gives you entry into your cabin and ability to make purchases onboard. Your luggage is taken away before the check in process and taken to your cabin. These are usually waiting outside your cabin waiting your arrival. Once onboard - we had a 12.30pm check in process so by the time we were onboard it was lunchtime. We made our way to our cabin Deck 6 arriving to our bags having been delivered safely. After a brief cabin tour and bags dumped we ventured to Plantation Restaurant for a buffet lunch. Port Hole Cabin - spacious, comfortable, clean, good water pressure in shower and tonnes of hot water, plenty of wardrobe space and drawers for clothes, coat hangers galore, safe to lock away valuables, small bar like fridge, flat screen TV, huge queen bed, lotsa pillows if you want them and a bigger than port hole window. Room stewards - we had 2 who looked after our cabin attire twice daily. Andrew & Ganjor introduced themselves soonest we arrived with a meet & greet and explained the daily housekeep routine. Cabin was cleaned every morning, clean towels provided and bed made. Early evening they would return and turn back then, leave chocolates on the bedside, a newsletter with the following days programme and at times quirky little animal characters made out of towels. These made us smile and it was lovely to return to a tidy room. Awesomely friendly, and hardworking. Andrew & Ganjor were the best! Dining options - Plantation (Buffet) and Waterfront (Al la Carte)'Restaurants are included in your fare. Breakfast. lunch & dinner. Less children dining in Waterfront and a perfect option here if you want to meet different people. Plantation has queues whereas Waterfront you require to make reservations. Al la Carte was our choice as you met new people at every meal and you were served upon. One thing that impressed me was every waiter and waitress we were served by always remembered our drink or food choices. On most occassions no sooner you arrived to your table your options were there. You were always greeted as Sir or Ma'am and all most attentive. Meals were always quick. Menu's changed each day except for a small few and choices were plenty. We ate like kings n queens! Onboard activities/entertainment - everyday is loads to do. You can do as little or as much as you like. Most activities are free and some do charge a fee. Your daily room newsletter tells you what's on each day and whether there is a cost or not. There are shows, dress up theme nights which is fun and live bands and performers. You can even sing a little karaoke or enter Pacific Pop Stars (NZ Idol equivalent). We didn't do the dress up theme nights but did join in anyway. After 5.30 is more formal dress and during cocktail evenings it is the even more formal i.e shirt/dress pants and dress/heels for the ladies. One small thing we would have liked to have had, is a bar without the loud music in the evening to sit and enjoy a quiet drink or at least hear conversations amongst company. Pool side - 2 spa pools in an adults only area alongside a bar and a pool each for both kids and adults. The spa pools were often full and I felt the swimming pools were small for a ship this size. But great facilities all the same! Lotsa seating space around pool areas, food options and waiters/waitresses on hand for those cocktail orders. Shopping onboard - the last couple of days there are specials or discounts on watches, jewellery, perfume, clothing, alcohol and so on. If you can refrain from buying till then, then buying is cheaper. All prices are AU $. Chocolates, ice cream, food from the Grill can be exorbade prices. Aqua Spa - dont be enticed to have too many beauty treatments here. Their prices are HUGE. Nice to do but you are paying big. They use very pushy tactics to suck you in which put me off entirely. Shore tours - booking tours onboard will cost you more in most cases. We took the risk of waiting until we arrived onshore and browsed the local tour operators. This saved us quite a bit. Some local operators will even personalize a tour to your liking. Laundrys - there is one on each level (I think). These take Aussie coins only. Machines are 2 x $1 coins and dryers 3 x $1 coins. Coins can be got at reception. We took our own laundry liquid inside an old shampoo bottle otherwise you pay for it onboard. When going onshore you can venture back n forth to the ship as often as you like. Tender boats are used in some ports which means a queue time. But worth sometimes going back onboard for lunch especially when this part doesn't cost anymore! Currency used - all our Port stops were in Australian dollars or if you had Franc this was used as well. Onboard again, AU $ and cruise swipecard is used for purchases onboard only. ATM machines are available onboard as well for cash to use when at port stops. Sea sickness - Paihia Bomb works. This can only be bought from Paihia Pharmacy. I purchased over the phone. We had the last 2-3 days of rough seas but at no time did I feel unsafe or sick. Think I had me sea legs on by then.... Crew members - every one of them were attentive, friendly, outgoing, welcoming and some became friends. Would we cruise again? ABSOLUTELY yes! We are already planning our 2nd cruise. I think we have the cruise bug a term used by many onboard the Pearl. We loved it and hope you do too it's a lot of fun and of course a 'real holiday break' Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was our first experience with Celebrity cruises and over all we were very happy with the ship and cruise in general. We were on deck 6 and although our balcony cabin had a restricted view I would be quite happy to have this deck ... Read More
This was our first experience with Celebrity cruises and over all we were very happy with the ship and cruise in general. We were on deck 6 and although our balcony cabin had a restricted view I would be quite happy to have this deck again due to the good deal we were offered. We were happy with the food in Main dining and Buffet and Tuscany Grill and Munaro was a treat which we really enjoyed. Overall the cruise, service and food deserve a good rating , we had a fabulous time and the ship was beautiful. Disemarking at Sydney was well organised, our given time was 9am and we were give a number to wait for our call and all should have gone well. Maybe things did go well for the passengers who disembarked earlier or were in different sections to us. This is where it started to unravel. We were in a comfortable in a sitting area waiting for our 9am call which was late, there were no announcements to advise us of any delays.Our call finally came and passengers started to move to the designated area down to deck 2, I would estimate at least 150 passengers came to a standstill in the narrow passage on deck 2 and were banked up on the steps and landing and in hallways behind us. There was a delay and instead of advising us to go back to the sitting area we were all banked up in this small area for at least 20 minutes. It was a hot morning in Sydney. Some older passengers sat down on the steps, and appeared to be distressed with the heat , it was also claustrophobic . My husband has a heart condition I was very concerned for him, I have no doubt some of the other passengers would also hasve health issues. The situation was just dangerous and should not have happened. I can only hope that Celebrity learn from this experience and see how difficut it may have been if any one had collapsed. It was just a dangerous and unsafe situation to put any passenger in. When we finaly got of the ship our luggage was still not there!. Although although I was happy with the ship and cruise I am very likely to consider another cruise line if I take another cruise. In general I rate most of it a 4 . Disembarkment I rate a BIG FAT ZERO Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My partner and I thouroughly enjoyed our 10 nights of sailing............. Highlights, it is really hard to pick one thing out…………….. 1. The staff were amazing, from the housekeeping staff to the bar staff in ... Read More
My partner and I thouroughly enjoyed our 10 nights of sailing............. Highlights, it is really hard to pick one thing out…………….. 1. The staff were amazing, from the housekeeping staff to the bar staff in Connextions . 2. The Entertainment was awesome (and entertainment staff) always something to do! 3. Food was brilliant – Plantation and Waterfront restaurant staff were fantastic 4. Room was clean and comfy, I like the idea of having bed made and turned down at night. 5. Dayspa was very relaxing and staff were brilliant (I love being pampered) 6. Ports were great, loved Denerau (I have decided to win lotto and live the dream on a yacht LOL), Suva was good to see although it was raining and hot, Tonga was beautiful. The ship had a fair few plumbing issues (burst water pipes, leaks….etc) but all the staff were so professional, they never got flustered just got on with the job at hand, nothing was a problem. It was our first cruise and we met and partied with some amazing people! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015

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