11 Brisbane First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

First time cruisers, mid twenties. Slightly apprehensive after reading the reviews but we thought - we will make our own fun if all else fails. Essentially we wanted some drinks and sun - all in all we weren't disappointed. After ... Read More
First time cruisers, mid twenties. Slightly apprehensive after reading the reviews but we thought - we will make our own fun if all else fails. Essentially we wanted some drinks and sun - all in all we weren't disappointed. After seeing some of the deplorable behaviour from fellow passengers, I can see how some of these reviews came to be. If you're expecting a 5 star cruise, book a 5 star cruise. If you act like an entitled jerk, the staff won't be all too receptive to that. I saw a grown couple throw a tantrum and sit down in the middle of a corridor because they had arrived at the wrong time for their tender and an older woman argue with bar staff over the strength of her cocktail. We encountered nothing but helpful, friendly staff, our room attendant was exceptionally lovely and worked around our comings and goings. Say hello and thank you, your experience will be all the better for it. We were a little sea sick the first two days but grabbed a couple of DVDs from our attendant and some snacks from the Pantry, which is your standard food court fare - never had to wait more than a couple seconds to be served - and headed back to our room. A rocky ship can't really be helped! Days on the islands were amazing, everything went smoothly - we did our own thing and had a blast. Angelos and Dragon Lady were great for what they were, a cruise ship restaurant masquerading as some form of fine dining, however the service was lovely in both and food was above average - the Wasabi Creme Brulee was exceptional. Enjoyed them. Went to Waterfront for breakfast most mornings, never had to wait for a table, here the waiters appeared to be a little flustered for a simple breakfast service but it honestly didn't bother us, the food was nice and the coffee was hot. Being in the 20 - 30 yr old age range there really wasn't anything on the activity front that attracted us, however we were planning on not doing much more than relaxing with a drink in the Oasis which was amazing when the weather permitted. The Main Pool was always loud and slightly feral (like an indoor aquatic centre) however all children seemed to be having a blast. At night we spent most of our time in the Blue Room, thoroughly enjoyed the bands and table service. Bar staff here were lovely and remembered how we liked our drinks made! Rooms were in the standard of a 3 star hotel room - loved our balcony. No issues with the bathroom or toilet, the room itself was very loud and creaky, probably the biggest issue we had with the cruise. Embarking/Disembarking were smooth and fast. Keep your attitude and expectations in check and you will have a great time! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
First time cruisers with 7 year old boy. Arrived at Port, Portside parking made for an easy start. Baggage, check in, customs ect was much easier than expected, lots of people around! We had a junior suite so went straight to a suite ... Read More
First time cruisers with 7 year old boy. Arrived at Port, Portside parking made for an easy start. Baggage, check in, customs ect was much easier than expected, lots of people around! We had a junior suite so went straight to a suite counter, all very friendly. We had read many reviews just before we left which weren't that positive, so we were totally surprised to see how amazing the boat was when we got onboard. There are so many staff it's too easy to get around and they are really eager to help which was great for us being new to it. With about 1830 people and 800 staff, the service in my opinion was impeccable. We sailed out in a major swell condition and were pretty concerned but it only lasted about a day but that was a worry we had which was unfounded. After you get out into the ocean it's normally smooth sailing. Our cabin was 8070 and was under the beauty salon so we had no noise at all. We had some light vibration from the engines? When going full steam but not a problem 90 percent of the time. Cabin was definitely big enough for the three of us, balcony was great, very wide with chairs and a table. Very quiet and were able to fully block light out for any midday snooze time. Had MyTime dining which we used 7 out of 9 nights, food was very nice, staff were all over it, we used two different tables so got different waiters, all were excellent. The maitre de was amazing, he remembered us from the first night and helped us out the whole time when we wanted to change dining times ect. Our son lived in the kids club, may need to be said that on our cruise there were only 40 kids tops, all ages. Apparently the next cruise had 600! So not sure if this can be checked before time? Kids club would be a busy place I'm sure if that were the case, our son had heaps of attention and I would rate their kids club highly in relation to other resorts we have visited. We loved that there was no x box ect. There were more of an older crowd on our cruise but there were enough younger people so it suited us, we were in it for the relax factor. The ports or places visited were all good in my opinion, a few we have visited previously but so much better to see them by boat. All beautiful blue water locations, my only negative is that the cruise Should put emphasis on protecting any coral reefs as I saw some people walking on coral which upset me a bit. Plenty of shows, comedy, juggling, cabaret, had trouble getting to them all, good movies too. Chefs table states an "intimate" dining experience which we thought was for the two of us but it is with about ten people, the best deal I think is to get the all three dining experience package which would have been better. Alcohol package was hard to justify as drinks were reasonably priced onboard, I think cocktails were 10us and beers were 5.50us so make your own choice there, I had the package and it worked for me.... Nice air conditioned bar on the top deck overlooking ocean. Plenty of places to go, exploring to do. Just a quick thanks to Tedi who cleaned up our room each day, also making cool animal towels for the bed, awesome. The disembarkation was easy. Got a bus back to the car, we forgot a suit bag and were concerned about retrieving it but it took a few minutes. People will say that the boat is old, I'm aware it's not the pride of the fleet, there are a few imperfect things an older boats age will show, but we were very surprised at the quality of the carpets, decor and furniture ect. In summary, we had a ball and this won't be our last cruise by a long shot, thanks Royal Caribbean and staff. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
I have just returned after 13 nights on the pacific Aria traveling to PNG. Had an excellent time! From reading previous reviews I wasn't sure what to expect but as a first time cruiser my expectations were met. Don't let all the ... Read More
I have just returned after 13 nights on the pacific Aria traveling to PNG. Had an excellent time! From reading previous reviews I wasn't sure what to expect but as a first time cruiser my expectations were met. Don't let all the elderly whingers reviews get you down! A great time was had. Pros -Lots of friendly helpful crew on board! -Good facilities, thoroughly enjoyed the pools, casino, marquee, gym and multiple bars. -Food was great especially considering the volume of passengers. The pantry had a good variety of meals to suit all pallets! The restaurants were great for the most part, obviously some meals were better than others. -Oceanview room had more than enough room for a 2 week stay, nice hot showers too! Cons -Internet was average at best, connection was extremely poor in our room but okay at other parts of the ship, for $99 I expected better. -whilst the crew did their best, 100's of people were stuck for an hour or two directly in the hot sun in Wewak whilst waiting for a tender. P&O should certainly make plans for more shade in the future. Overall I'm very happy and would highly recommend the Pacific Aria, thanks for a great trip! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Like other cruise critic folk I read many reviews prior to my cruise. 95% were negative, thus I had reservations going in.... First thing I'll say to all those 'haters' is you get what you pay for! Don't expect to ... Read More
Like other cruise critic folk I read many reviews prior to my cruise. 95% were negative, thus I had reservations going in.... First thing I'll say to all those 'haters' is you get what you pay for! Don't expect to pay a total of around $1k for a 12 night cruise with all you're accomodation and food provided and expect 5 star everything. If you want that go to a high end resort - pay the standard $1k per NIGHT (not including food!) and you'll get you're 5 star experience. P & O clearly states they are a 3 to 3.5 star cruise. Boarding the ship was seamless in consideration of the volume of people. As we stayed in a suite - yes I paid the extra! I will agree that our 'priority' checkin didn't seem to count for much but we were there early anyway so found ourselves on board approx 1.5hrs after arriving at the Brisbane wharf. All good here. Our room was fantastic (again - what you pay for), it was clean, spacious, had plentiful storage, comfortable king bed, nice balcony, etc. paying the extra we also received many extras. Refer to their website for the long list. The less you pay the greater the likelihood of not as good of an experience. Such is life. Our room attendants were 1st class and did a fantastic job under adverse conditions. I work with people who put in less than half the hours you guys do each week and they are constantly tired, whingy, and generally depressing to be around. You were both like a breath of fresh air. Thank you! Again, I disagree with the negative food reviews on board. Starting with The pantry - the variety is more than sufficient. Does it really hurt you to have to maybe consume the same thing twice during a cruise?? The quantity - if they don't give you enough the first time go back for more. It's all you can eat! Also the quality is not as atrocious as what people make out. It's average and what you would expect for the layout. Waterfront - didn't go much as we were happy with the pantry but always had good food and friendly service. Dragon lady - didn't try it. The grill - when you're craving a pizza or burger it was always great. Salt grill - incredible experience all around. Can't fault the food, service and nice quiet ambience. No it's not expensive as some people have stated!! For a 3 course meal like that you'll be paying 3 times as much at other fine dining restaurants around Oz. There were always many spare tables too because people didn't seem to want to pay/get dressed up a bit. Also for those that said they were somehow still hungry after a marquee performance - room service is available 24/7. Pay the measley fee and eat that in the comfort of you're own room....without pants!! Public areas are all very modern and inviting. Love how there are little 'escapes' for couples. Shopping options good, entertainment a plenty. Don't understand how people can be bored or have nothing to do!! They have thought of everyone from a 1 yr old to an 80 yr old. At the end of the day I went on the cruise to see Vanuatu and Fiji - the ship came second in order of priority but you can't complain of the numerous things to do onboard...it's what you make of it. Sure beats sitting in a plane or car. All staff very friendly, welcoming and generally nice. Considering the time they spend working away from home and family averaging 12 hr days, it's truly incredible. Issues I had were sleep! I'm a fairly light sleeper so I was always sleep deprived. Kids running around on the decks till all hrs of the night was the main reason. I don't think this is P&O's fault more just bad/lazy parenting. People slamming cabin doors....again not P&O's fault just selfish people not thinking of others. Spa prices were too high! Massage and facial for my wife and I cost over $600. It's a shame because I would of loved to get more done but the costs of all treatments I just couldn't justify. A few rude tourists whinging about small things also annoyed me. Be grateful you are able to have this cruise experience where many around the world are not. Lastly, I found the ship quite rocky even on calmer days. Just a heads up if you struggle with sea sickness!!! Otherwise all good!! Fantastic experience both on and off the ship, I feel blessed to be able to have done it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
So like many others I was a bit nervous about reading negative reviews and I as pleasantly surprised - I think some people will never be happy. I travelled as a single and got the balcony as it was only room available booking at the ... Read More
So like many others I was a bit nervous about reading negative reviews and I as pleasantly surprised - I think some people will never be happy. I travelled as a single and got the balcony as it was only room available booking at the last minute - while a bit of an extravagance I loved being abe to sit outside and also see the ocean every morning. The room was very spacious (some people were complaining that squeezing 3 to a room was too tight but what else would they expect when they are each only paying a third of the price). Room was nice and tidy and clean and well maintained. Bathroom was perfectly fine - I know some people have blogged shower is too small but I think that would only be a problem for someone who is very overweight). Other people have complains they got water on the floor but if you make sure shower curtain is fully closed there are no dramas. The food was amazing. I loved lazy breakfast burritos at the park cafe or some nice boiled eggs and fresh fruit in the windjammer. Lunch I alternated between the restaurant where there are amazing salads (both on the menu or custom made) and getting fresh salads at windjammer. Dinner was amazing (will now spend next two weeks at gym paying for my sins!) - 3 courses and lovely waiters. In the afternoons you can grab an afternoon salad/panini etc from the park cafe - usually accompanied by a cocktail! I wouldn't recommend he alcohol drinks package unless you want to drink a lot everyday. I didn't go for one and I drank a fare amount (1-2 cocktails and 2-3 wine per day and a soda or two) and I still didn't spend as much as the package would've cost. Everyone I spoke to who got the package noted they probably weren't drinking enough to make it cheaper. Also, take advantage of the fact that you can bring on board two bottles of wine per stateroom - nice for Predinner drinks on balcony. I loved the day spa - treatments were fantastic and the gym boot camp (pay extra for this) was well worth it - serious workout! And lazy sessions in the sauna and spa bath were daily essentials. The shore trips were well organised - I loved Lifou - butterflies everywhere in the thousands. Glass bottom kayaking and snorkelling in mystery island is also totally recommended! Kayak is mad completely out of clear plastic. Entertainment was so so, I think on larger ships you get better/bigger shows. Only real criticism I have for the trip was that everything was a big sell eg supposed pamper session was just about selling their skin products, lecture on looking younger was them trying to sell you Botox - that did distract from the cruise. The wifi was pretty limited - I bought the package as I wanted to stay in touch with people but it dropped out quite often. The staff were all gorgeous, nothing was too hard for hem and I have no idea how they all knew everyone's name! All and all totally recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Overall we very much enjoyed out trip. Have not done much previous cruising so not comparing, as many others seem to be doing. We were very well looked after with embarkation/disembarkation with wheelchair assistance. Cabin was very neat ... Read More
Overall we very much enjoyed out trip. Have not done much previous cruising so not comparing, as many others seem to be doing. We were very well looked after with embarkation/disembarkation with wheelchair assistance. Cabin was very neat and tidy and the cabin stewards we had were very very good. The Pantry provided everything we could have wanted, and though its the same basic theme every day, the actual offering in each place changes so its actually not the same day in day out. The food there was very good, and the staff always willing to try and help as much as possible. We did have some weather issues and the itinerary for Cooktown was changed, but for us that made no difference as we were not planning to take the tender in anyway - and P&O can't control the weather. Probably the only disappointment was the Waterfront rest. on the Christmas Day dinner. It did seem a bit disorganised, and we would have liked a glass of wine with our dinner but there didn't seem to be any drinks staff around at all. Apart from that though it was a great trip. I think it really is what you make of it - we were just happy to be travelling, relaxing, and being looked after with no cooking to be done etc. I did hear some complaining it was not as good as other cruises they had done. There were still some teething issues going on, but nothing in life is perfect. We certainly did not have any issues as others seem to have had with their cabin, we were very impressed with the staff and we loved the Pantry. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We found that it was relaxing. The food in the Pantry, as others have said, lacked variety. What was there was good, but needs to be changed. There also should be some simple food for lunch (proper sandwiches, made to order). Cabin ... Read More
We found that it was relaxing. The food in the Pantry, as others have said, lacked variety. What was there was good, but needs to be changed. There also should be some simple food for lunch (proper sandwiches, made to order). Cabin staff were excellent and everyone else we dealt with were mostly friendly. Some of the areas they did seem bored. Overall we enjoyed the shows and entertainment and would go again. We travelled by car to port. Embarkation and disembarkation was as good as can be when dealing with Port Authorities. We arranged our own shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first cruise, so we really didn't know what to expect. After what I was told was a fairly long wait to get on board (I did not know this at the time), I went to explore the ship and have some lunch. I found a very good ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so we really didn't know what to expect. After what I was told was a fairly long wait to get on board (I did not know this at the time), I went to explore the ship and have some lunch. I found a very good range of food at the Horizon Court. We had booked an inside cabin on deck 6, so after lunch we went to look at it. Small but adequate is now I would describe it. We did not intend to spend a lot of time in there, so it was not going to be a problem. The first night sleeping was not too good, the A/C was very drying on my nose, I must remember to take a fess frequent flyer spray with my next time to moisturize the nasal cavities... I have since spoken to a lot of people who had balconies who tell me that they had their doors open most of the time, as the A/c was playing up with them too!. I have actually ended up with a very bad throat infection. It started out as a dry cough, then sore throat, now a day after getting of the ship it is fully in my head nose throat and chest! Not good. I was told that a lot of people were having the same symptoms and some of the staff had it too! The ship has sailed off to New Guinea yesterday afternoon, I wonder how many will be sick while on it up there? Entertainment was excellent, the singers and dancers were so full of energy, and I also enjoyed the lady entertainer Maggie... Saw most of her shows! I did miss out on seeing the Elvis Impersonator, I was disappointed when I found out how great he had been! Champagne bay was lovely... Clear beautiful water, locals were cooking up lobsters for sale and I bought a few little things from the markets and a sweet piece of pineapple to eat. Photos with birds, snakes, turtles and lizards where some of the offerings from the locals. We were in Port Vila for 2 days so we really got to explore the area. We hired a taxi for the 2 days with the same driver. 4 people $50 each, each day. He took us to the Tanna coffee roasting factory, the secret gardens and shopping in town for duty free the first day. Second day was a trip around the whole island, we saw a lot of the destruction from the cyclone they had had in May 2015, took pictures from the top of hills and visited the hot springs, they had been hit badly with the cyclone but we still had a dip in the pool, just like a hot bath... very relaxing. Next we visited the Blue lagoon, had a swim and some of my party were swinging off the ropes and dropping into the water, we all had a fantastic time! Next was Lifu, we started to walk around, not really knowing where things were. I wanted to go tot he vanilla plantation, but the others wanted to go swimming. We went on a 2 hour tour with a local lady in her car, went past the catholic church, to the little shops (Hardware and supermarket) and to the beach. It was a very windy day, so only 1 of our party had a swim, the rest of us just walked the beach. I must say that Lifu was not my favourite island. Mystery island was next, very small island that is not inhabited. (No one lives there as they say it is haunted!) The surrounding islander people only come over to make their markets. All of the same items that I had already seen on the other islands, nothing different. Weather was drizzly rain the whole time, my husband went back to the ship before the others in my group and was stranded on a tender for 1.5 hours. No one's fault the engines were playing up, he did get some nice chocolates for his trouble though! THe last stop was Noumea, I must say that this was my favourite! We took the Tchou Tchou train around and saw a lot, it was a guided tour and was most informative. I would highly recommend to anyone!! Next we got on the "hop on hop off" bus and went to the aquarium. Very nice, although I did feel a bit sad for the sea turtles in there big tank. 2 more days at sea and then home to brisbane, Disembarkation was very smooth and quick. All in all, I really enjoyed the cruise, i just hate the fact that I am now sick with this throat infection that I am sure was caused from the A/C. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise on Pacific Jewel for 7 nights. Before leaving for the cruise I had heard negative comments about P & O cruises, but we were pleasantly surprised. The check-in staff at the ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise on Pacific Jewel for 7 nights. Before leaving for the cruise I had heard negative comments about P & O cruises, but we were pleasantly surprised. The check-in staff at the cruise terminal were both friendly and helpful. We were impressed with our oceanview room and the friendly staff. Our only complaints were that we would like to see more areas restricted to smoking. In an ideal world, smoking on ships would be banned totally. Smoking should be restricted to one deck.We would've liked to have walked on the open decks to experience the sea breeze, but were confronted by dreadful smoke fumes which ruined the experience. Thank you Pacific Jewel for a wonderful cruise. It has given my husband and I further incentive to go on another cruise in the future. Julie and Peter - August 2015. We enjoyed the entertainment on board, the comperes Marios and his friend were fantastic, Bobbi was lovely. The musicians and singers were also good. We participated in the trivia, tai chi, cruise info seminar and I also danced in the "white evening". While I was extremely happy with the service onboard I did not like being asked "Want a drink? by one of the female Philippino drinks waiter - this is not a professional way to ask someone if they would like a drink. A couple of the male Philippino male drink waiters could have have appeared happier - one did not smile at all. These are only minor issues. Kojak (who I believed was called Brian) in the Waterfront Restaurant was fantastic as were all the staff in this restaurant. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Just arrived back today Sunday 12th July!!! This was my first time on a cruise and I wasn't disappointed. There was 9 females ranging from approx. 40 - 80 years of age celebrating my girlfriends 50th birthday. We had a hoot!!! As with ... Read More
Just arrived back today Sunday 12th July!!! This was my first time on a cruise and I wasn't disappointed. There was 9 females ranging from approx. 40 - 80 years of age celebrating my girlfriends 50th birthday. We had a hoot!!! As with any holiday there is always good and bad but any problem we had was rectified as soon as it was reported. The food was lovely, we eat breakfasts and lunches at the Plantation restaurant and yes it could be a little repetitive but it was very nice especially the sweetie section and I wish I had caught his name but the gentleman behind the counter was so helpful and lovely even brought a vanilla slice to my table when they had run out. If you do have something you don't like don't complain just put it to one side and go and get something else it is as simple as that. If you do want to let them know that something is not up to standard let them know in a constructive way and I am sure it will be rectified straight away. My suggestion though would be to attend a little bit out of the normal 7am and 12 midday as it can get very crowded but we did not have to wait to long and it was a nice way to have a chat to other passengers who were waiting in line. We had dinner at the Waterfront most nights and the table service was amazing and the food was lovely and restaurant is in a pretty setting. They made my friends 50th birthday so special and I had pre ordered a birthday cake which was both yummy and beautiful to look at. We joined in on the available activities which were offered and I would highly recommend the martini making classes, lots of fun and not to mention you got to drink 4 beautiful cocktails. We visited Noumea, Mare and Port Vila. Unfortunately, the weather was not kind to us, but this is something there is not control over and you just have to grin and wear it and not allow it to spoil your holiday, as the beautiful south pacific waters are so warm it doesn't matter if it is slightly overcast and drizzling. Had a great snorkel on Mare Island, took the little tut tut train around Noumea. The tour guides voice was a little annoying but as we were only there for a short time it was the best on offer to see the island, especially considering the weather. We hired a driver called Makenzie on Port Vila for the day who drove a pink van and he went out of his way to ensure we made the most of our time on the island. I would highly recommend Mackenzie if you can find him in his pink van he was so lovely and helpful. When you get off the boat all the drivers will be waiting either up to your right or at the gate. If you see a pink van or when you get to the gate just ask for Mackenzie. We visited the cascade falls and climbed to the top absolutely breathtaking and went to Hideaway Island and snorkelled and sent a postcard in the underwater letter box which is not as easy as it sounds...but we all finally got it in the box!!! For those of us not up to the walks or snorkeling he took them to other sites on the island such as the coffee plantation and then came back an picked us up. He also managed to find a tatootist as one of my friends gets a small tattoo in every country she visits!!! Such a beautiful accomodating man. I was pleasantly surprised at the prices of drinks on board and sipped many a cocktail which were delightful. Like I said sometimes you have good and bad on a holiday and if anyone tries to put you in room 8109 head for the hills!!! This room is directly above the Connections Bar where a lot of the entertainment occurs and it is very very loud( might be good for younger people who would be down there anyway) the room is much larger then normal cabin so that is a huge plus but it is very hard to sleep until after 1am also very hard to catch up the next day to have an afternoon nap as the entertainment starts at midday and the whole room vibrates BUT as soon as we reported it to the lovely girls on reception we were soon contacted by the lovely night manager Emile could not do enough for us. Moved us into a very quiet room on deck 5, we also received a complimentary bottle of wine and he checked in with us to ensure everything was ok. Another incident which happened in the dreaded room 8109 was our bathroom flooded and my friend clothes all got damp. Emile immediately organised a laundry service. Thank you Emile you made a wonderful trip even more wonderful with your fantastic customer service and I wish you well in your future career. June was providing our cabin service in 8109 and that was the only sad part about leaving this room. June was lovely and cleaned the rooms twice a day and nothing was too much trouble and always done with a beautiful smile. I unfortunately got very unwell for a couple of days and had to go to the medical centre. I cannot fault the medical centre, the staff there were amazing and the treatment I received was top notch. They must be the most friendly, best looking bunch of doctors and nurses I have ever seen and so friendly. Enjoyed my Pandora story with the lovely nurs Anna and had quite a giggle with her despite feeling unwell. As a result of getting unwell on board, just a reminder to anyone who is travelling, always purchase travel insurance as overseas medical treatment costs a pretty penny but when you are unwell you really do not want to wait to get treated. Highlights far outweighed what little lowlights there were and I would like to thank all the staff and crew for making my first cruising experience a very pleasurable one. Next time and there certainly will be a next time, lets just hope the weather turns it on for us as well. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We recently undertook a 9 night P & O cruise departing from Brisbane visiting the Island of Lifou, Port Vila, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines. Here is my honest assessment of the experience and tips for future travellers. Firstly ... Read More
We recently undertook a 9 night P & O cruise departing from Brisbane visiting the Island of Lifou, Port Vila, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines. Here is my honest assessment of the experience and tips for future travellers. Firstly the answer to two basic questions: Did I enjoy the cruising experience enough to do it again – Yes! Would I cruise with P&O again – No! The Good 1. Great value for money 2. Check-in and boarding and then embarking and dis-embarking at ports and at islands was extremely efficient 3. Cabin layout and size exceeded expectations 4. Cabin staff and wait staff in the restaurants were exceptional. Friendly and attentive. 5. Waterfront Restaurant experience exceeded expectations 6. Drinks prices including tea and coffee were equivalent to on-shore Australian bar and restaurant prices. 7. The on board entertainers in the many bars and the evening feature shows were excellent. 8. Snorkelling at Mystery Island and the Isle of Pines 9. Port Vila – ‘third world’ but very interesting The Bad 1.The on-board temperature was very variable in different areas of the ship. The restaurants and the ‘Dome’ were simply too cold 2.Some of the daytime activities were a bit lame and the seminars relating to heat land beauty were basically infomercials (hence the poor attendance) 3.Some of the staff conducting daytime activities were condescending 4.The Waterfront restaurant is the classier of the two ‘included’ eateries but sometimes the food was just warm and occasionally cool 5.The Plantations Buffet – It’s a buffet for the masses although suitable for breakfast 6.The prices for treatments at day spa not realistic having regard to demographic on board. Prices were pitched at middle to high income earners. The cruise attracts many lower income earners. 7.The milk added versions of the free tea and coffee available form a number of machines is simply dreadful. It tastes like powdered milk is used. When water and milk is added to tea it was a frothy mess which we nicknamed ‘cuppateano’. 8.The gym was too small and a couple of pieces of equipment were out of order for the whole cruse. 9.Dumb passengers who have little regard for coral reefs 10.All smokers (allowed on the main deck but still annoying 11.Sparkles’ - one of the on-board entertainment staff. Groan!! 12.The wages paid to board staff. But that’s why it’s so affordable. My Tips Pre Cruise Tip 1 - If arriving from interstate, the Admiralty Airport Motel on Nudgee Rd Hamilton is a good pre-cruise accommodation option. It's a 15 minute, $30 cab ride from the airport and an easy flat 10 minute walk to the Portside Wharf where the ship leaves from. While there are others a lot closer on Kingsford Smith Drive, it's a major road and is extremely busy and noisy. The motel was very comfortable and clean. There is no on-site restaurant but fish and chips are about 200 metres away and the Portside Wharf and Racecourse Rd precincts are within easy walking distance. Tip 2 - Buy a lanyard for your cruise card (your on board money).They are available on-board but at a premium. Tip 3 - You can take bottled water and soft drinks on board so don't be surprised when you see passengers checking-in and boarding with slabs of either or both. Soft drinks and water are about $3 each on the ship. Tip 4 - Arrive early for hassle free check-in and boarding. Boarding is done in numbered groups based on time of check-in. If you check-in early you'll have time for your last decent coffee at the Portside precinct and also time to pick up any last minute supplies at the IGA supermarket. On board Tip 5 - Assuming you check-in early, use the first hour on board to get familiar with the ship. Tip 6 - Lunch is served on board on the first day but there is a mandatory safety presentation half an hour before departure (i.e. so 1.30 pm for 2 pm departure) so factor that in. Tip 7 - Keep a daily eye on your spending by swiping your cruise card at the computer terminals at main information desk and reviewing your transactions. Tip 8 - Unless you are impressed by lots of food on display, love loading up your plate with a mountain of food that you probably won't get through, want to bum around in shorts and thongs all day long or have kids who can't sit still, then dinner in the Waterfront restaurant is the best option. It offers table service and 3 courses - all part of your cruise fare. It's also open for breakfast and a 3 course lunch. There are lots of choices and daily specials for dinner. It’s a much nicer experience than Plantations. On 'land' days you can return to the ship for lunch before exploring the islands again but you will have to put your snout in the Plantations trough as Waterfront does not serve lunch on these days. Tip 9 - Power outlets are scarce in the rooms so a double adaptor or small power board is useful. Tip 10 - If you like a variety of tea and decent coffee and don't want to pay for it at the cafe then bring your own tea bags and coffee (you can easily take on board a plastic plunger, ground coffee and capsule of UHT milk). Tip 11 - If you want to use the gym in the morning then get their on opening. It's small and gets busy. Tip 12 - There are some good duty free alcohol deals on board. $25 for two 1 litre bottles of basic spirits (includes Famous Grouse whiskey and Smirnoff vodka) or $35 for two 1 litre bottles (includes Johnny Walker red and Jim Beam white.) Prices on these were only marginally better at Port Vila so convenience could win out. The biggest and best shop for alcohol in Port Vila is Fung Kuei. On the day I was there they had a massive special – A 2 litre bottle of Jim Beam white label for $19!!! However, other shops did have marginally better prices on certain items but simply did not have the range. Tip 13 - The temperature in the restaurants and bars is deliberately kept cool so a jacket or cardigan is essential for those who feel the cold. This was one of our biggest gripes. Tip 14 - There is reasonable clothes hanging space in the cabins but if you have a lot to hang then bring a few wire coat hangers. Tip 15 - Make sure you head to the feature shows at night about 30 minutes before they start to avoid disappointment. Seating is limited On shore Tip 16- On island days, get going early and head back to the ship at around 11.30 for lunch. You'll avoid having to queue for the tender boat by doing so and can go back on-shore afterwards. Most people head back for lunch around 12.30pm to 1.00 pm. Tip 17 - Most of the on island markets are full of junk. You will keep seeing the same thing time after time. Tip 18 - On Lifou, don't miss the cave with its crystal clear plunge pool. Instead of heading left to go to the church on the hill and Jinek Bay, go right. You'll pass another church and, shortly after, come across a few locals sitting near a sign about the cave. They charge $10 to get through to it but it’s worth it. Tip 19 - On Lifou the locals offer two tours for a lot less than similar tours offered by P&O. Tip 20 - At Port Vila, arrange for a ‘taxi’ to take you around. We negotiated a taxi for 5 people from 9 am until 3 pm for $200. We took in the Cascade Waterfalls ($25 pp), the Tanna Coffee house, the Beach House Cafe for lunch (near Hideaway Island), a drive through a real village of, a cultural show ($10pp ), the Port Vila shopping district and return to ship. The driver was very accommodating waiting for us at each stop and accepting payment at the end of the day. Tip 21 - At Mystery Island, start with a walk around the island on the beach (island is only 200m across and 1km long) then pick your favourite spot. The best conditions are in the morning as the wind can pick up after lunch. The better snorkelling is on the side of the island opposite to where the ship’s tenders drop you off. The locals from the neighbouring island run snorkelling and fishing tours ranging between $15pp and $50pp and small outrigger canoes can be hired for $10 pp. Make sure you buy a fresh coconut for $1 or $2. Make a donation to the local pre-school while watching the kids sing their little lungs out. Tip 22 - On Isle of Pines, if you have a good level of fitness there is a great walk up Pic Nga (232 metres) which rewards you with 360 degree views if the Island. The walk takes about 35 minutes each way for those with a good level of fitness. The starting point is about 10 minute walk from the jetty/wharf - head out along the road to Vao, turn left at a T intersection, pass the petrol station (Essence) and you will come sign indicating the trail on your right. Don't miss snorkelling around the edge of the little isle at Kanumera Bay. The $60 Island Discovery Tour offered by P&O is $25 on shore with the locals, but you need to be early.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014

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