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428 Brisbane to South Pacific Cruise Reviews

We'd previously done the Pacific Islands Cruise on Pacific Dawn with P&O and wanted a cruise departure from Brisbane. Papua New Guinea wasn't even on our radar but the dates aligned and we thought 'why not'? We ... Read More
We'd previously done the Pacific Islands Cruise on Pacific Dawn with P&O and wanted a cruise departure from Brisbane. Papua New Guinea wasn't even on our radar but the dates aligned and we thought 'why not'? We booked our first balcony cabin and we wont go back to ocean view again. With school holiday pricing it was not a budget cruise like our first one but it was nice to treat ourselves. It's so nice to have extra space in the room as well as the deck which had 2 chairs, sunlounge and small coffee table. Our room (9070) had a great queen sized bed while our daughter slept on the converted sofa. She loved having her own space. There's loads of hanging and drawer storage too, though large suitcases wont fit in cupboards (tip..they will fit under the bed if left opened which is great for shoe storage) Our room had a bar fridge (other rooms don't). We were able to take our own soft drinks which was great given we didn't opt for a drinks package this time and saved a heap of money. The bathroom was fitted with spa bath which we loved. The toilet looked new and the shower pressure and temperature control were great. Our room stewards were brilliant as always and it was great coming back after lunch to an immaculately presented room. Aria is an excellent ship. Just the right size with good facilities and heaps of restaurants and bars to choose from. The decor is great and beautifully fitted out. The lounge are in the Atrium on level 6 is great for playing games or reading. There's always organised games here too and some cool prizes to win. We always found room by the pool on the sun lounges. The pool and 2 spas were crowded with kids but being school holidays that's understandable. The sliding roof is brilliant and the lounge areas to the side of the pool are very popular. We didn't get to go to the adults only area as our daughter decided HQ was not for her. (one day!!) The gym is amazing with great panoramic views. My wife is quite the gym junkie and she found everything she needed. She also indulged in a massage at the spa which we paid more than we should (the same massage was offered on the last day for much cheaper) Our daughter also got a great hair cut which she is busily instagramming everyone about. Food was generally good. The Pantry is a great concept and the food is better than the old buffet style with lots of variety. Some hit and misses but great breakfasts! Angelos Italian was very disappointing. Flavourless and bland. Dragon Lady was above average. Salt grill was sublime. The Waterfront is a beautiful restaurant but the service has gone down hill. I don't know if P&O are pushing for more business like service from their waiters but many have little personality and aren't friendly. Very robotic. There were of course some exceptions. The menu feels very limited and my daughter struggled to find anything on the main menu. Entertainment was good. Its very cabaret in style which is not to our liking but the movie theatre was great and the TV in the room had some good shows and movies. There's also a massive DVD library. We picked 2 but they were never delivered. Ports of call for PNG are hit and miss. Alatou was not very pleasant and not much to see if you don't do a planned tour. Kitava was missed due to weather. Kiriwina was good. Very cultural with heaps of markets and great beaches to swim in. The locals are very friendly and we enjoyed our outrigger canoe ride across the reef. The highlight though is Conflict Islands. Its paradise in one easy to navigate small island. Sublime beaches and snorkelling. Tip- take your own snorkel gear and make your own way to eastern tip of the island. Save yourself $100 in excursions which happen off the same beach. It's a beautiful walk along the beach or through the middle of the island. Weirdly this island doesn't use money, rather a voucher system. You have to buy the vouchers from a kiosk (long lines) and then use the vouchers at the bar, gift shop, water activities kiosk or restaurant. Food is pretty good and the bar is well stocked with local and international beers. There were no issues with gastro on board that we knew of. Disembarkation took us about 15 minutes, we were home in 45. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise as it was the only one that suited a family holiday in School holiday times. 5 of the 7 guests have cruised extensively before, 2 were new to cruising. They will not cruise again after this experience. The rooms ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was the only one that suited a family holiday in School holiday times. 5 of the 7 guests have cruised extensively before, 2 were new to cruising. They will not cruise again after this experience. The rooms were terrible. Torn carpets, everything is falling apart. The rooms are dirty (could clearly see spilled drinks and food just left on the walls) mould throughout bathrooms and around windows on oceanview rooms. The sheets are just nasty, stained from years of use. You did not feel like lazing around in your room that is for sure. One of the rooms was so bad it took several days of complaining but eventually the bathroom was regrouted and siliconed. It shouldn't take days to get an issue sorted. And for all these inconveniences a bottle of wine was offered and dinner at salt. No room change or refund, disgusting customer service. The rooms smelled, they are in need of a thorough deep clean. Add to all this that for most of the cruise the a/c around the boat seemed to not work very well especially in the rooms. Some people we spoke to could not get there rooms below 25 degrees. On the last few nights it did start to work better but black dust and dirt was coming out the vents. Back to the smells, the boat is just old. All the bathrooms in the main areas always seemed to be overflowing constantly, not just 1 but everywhere you went. You spent a lot of time holding your breathe as you walked past certain parts. As for activities, there is not a lot to do on p&o ships. It was our second time on board one of there ships and I don't think i would ever cruise with them again. There are plenty of other options and good deals out there. If your just looking to buy a drinks package and get hammered drunk all day, then maybe this is for you but everything about p&o compared to other lines is budget. Everything is an extra. I've been on budget ships before and you get what you pay for, but for the price of these cruises for a few hundred extra i would definately go on something else. Pacific aria should be retired well and truely. P&O should be ashamed to be charging guests for such a horrid experience. I also feel extremely sorry for all the staff stuck on board, they seem severely over worked. They all look tired, and fed up, cant blame them. 2 guys cleaning 36 rooms, no wonder they are filthy. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We went in to this cruise expecting to be impressed. Everyone I know who has been on a cruise has loved it, raved about it, told me "you'll LOVE it - once you cruise you never go back!" And many people are repeat cruisers, ... Read More
We went in to this cruise expecting to be impressed. Everyone I know who has been on a cruise has loved it, raved about it, told me "you'll LOVE it - once you cruise you never go back!" And many people are repeat cruisers, so I was expecting it to be pretty enjoyable. Well....it was OK. I mean, it was better than being at work. However it was pretty massively disappointing as well. The ship itself was pretty dated. Our cabin (4007) wasn't awful, it was spacious enough, but the bathtub was grotty and full of mold, the fixtures all seemed a bit cheap and like they had lived a hard life. The bed was reasonably comfortable. The food was a massive disappointment. The Pantry was just gross - the food was cold and inedible 90% for the time, and it was like feeding time at the zoo - just a herd of bodies trying to ram as much food in to themselves as possible. We preferred the Waterfront, which had table service and was a generally nicer atmosphere, but the food here was extremely disappointing as well, generally tasteless and often cold, with very few options. My kids hated the children's choices as well, with the gruel-like "kid's favourite soup" and other strange choices. Kids like chicken nuggets and chips, standard sandwiches, pizza....these shoudl be standard, consistent options. We tried Angelo's one night and were hugely disappointed here as well. The chef seems to think Heinz tomato sauce is a pasta sauce, as it seemed to feature heavily in the pasta bolognese and lasagna. We cancelled our second booking. We tried Dragon Lady once. The grilled trout available one night was amazing. Everything else was again, cold, weird and barely edible. It was like they were trying too hard to make the meals interesting and exotic, but they missed the mark wildly, and we would have been far happier with standard Asian fare actually done well. Service was OK in all restaurants. Not great. Not terrible. A bit slow, but not like we had anywhere to go. The best food we had were the pizza's at The Grill that had to be purchased. They were pretty cheap, but felt like a bit of a rip off given it was meant to be all inclusive. The ports were were interesting, although we were MASSIVELY disappointed that the volcano tour in Rabaul didn't actually go up (or anywhere near) the volcano. We stayed on shore as long as possible at each port to feel like we were actually traveling. The evening entertainment, bars etc weren't bad, but got old quickly. As my husband said "it's like being on a floating Wests club". The pool was pretty tiny, but ok. The Dolphin statues seemed like a pointless decoration given they were draped in signs saying "Do not enter this area". The cocktails were pretty tasty by and large. My kids loved the kids club, and here I would give them 5 stars - the kid's staff were amazing, and they had a ball making new friends and going to all the kids' events. All in all - pretty sure we aren't "cruise" people after this, and I tend to think that the people who are (if this was all standard) have very low expectations. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
P&O Recommend passengers bring two bags: On the night prior to disembarking, passengers are required to leave their luggage outside their room for collection. Instead of thinking I was being efficient with only one bag, a second bag ... Read More
P&O Recommend passengers bring two bags: On the night prior to disembarking, passengers are required to leave their luggage outside their room for collection. Instead of thinking I was being efficient with only one bag, a second bag would have been very useful for the last overnight. Bring a lanyard, doesn’t matter what other company it promotes, everyone wears them, all colours and varieties. Book your dinners on the first day, especially if you’re travelling with a large group. Other times at the restaurants you just need to show up as your entire group before being seated. Children are well catered for at the restaurants . This was a great teaching opportunity for us to to share dining etiquette in a friendly environment. The same children’s menu that is offered at all included restaurants. Our older (12 years) children were offered to children’s menu, which was considerate of the wait staff. They were included as adults. When deciding what to spend the day doing, a highlighter marker would be useful to mark up the daily newsletter. Attend a show. They are not going to take very much time. Most were under an hour. After the show the cruise director will give information about the days activities and those coming up on following days. It would be useful to advertise how long events are expected to take for planning and group coordination. Tea and coffee, juice and water were freely available all the time at The Pantry.The Pantry hours on the day of Embarking are generous. There will be something available when you board. The room has a DVD player, but I downloaded some movies before we left. Helped when there were quiet (or needed to be quiet moments) Loved the cruise. The whole family experience was exactly what I was hoping for. A memory maker. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Embarkation - we flew up to Brisbane (from Canberra) on the morning of the cruise, this is something we would not normally do as if flights are disrupted we could have missed the ship. We arrived at Portside at around 11.15am after a $30 ... Read More
Embarkation - we flew up to Brisbane (from Canberra) on the morning of the cruise, this is something we would not normally do as if flights are disrupted we could have missed the ship. We arrived at Portside at around 11.15am after a $30 cab ride from the airport. We were able to check- in (despite our time being 12.30) and it went fairly quickly despite the line, as we were on the ship by 11.45am. We went straight to the Waterfront for lunch and we were told the rooms were already accessible. The ship - Pacific Aria - it was clean and tidy and relatively good condition despite it's age. We like the design of this class ship and with only around 1200 pax aboard it doesn't feel crowded. The cruise passengers were mainly Queenslanders, with family groups and such but not that many children. Overall it was a fairly old demographic (I would guess the av age around 70+). Service was excellent all around the ship. Food was good in the Waterfront (4 nights) and excellent in Dragon Lady (3 nights) and Angelos (3 nights), and the pantry had great selections with Mexican, Asian, indian, sandwich, fish and chip, roast, salad and dessert stations. The waterfront was open for lunch every day (even port days) and we used it often as well as for breakfast most days. Ports Alatou - we used Jaywood tours ($60pp for the two of us), which was good and they took us all over the place visiting numerous sites and highlights. We would recommend utilising the Cruise PNG page on FB which has numerous recommendations. If you want the Cultural show, Alatou tours is best utilised or the ship's tour. Kitava Island - we couldn't tender due to winds, but we were going to swim and snorkel. Rabual - we used Scenic tours ($85pp and we were put on a bus with around 10 others). It was the Volcano, town and WWII tour and was excellent, it took close to 7 hours and mainly due to road conditions slowing the drives. Kirawina Island - we swam and looked at the stalls and the village, took a canoe ride, it was low tide so snorkelling was difficult. This is the place to buy any woodwork as the selection was huge. Use up all your Kina here as well. Conflict Island - great island beautiful swimming and snorkelling. Food and drinks ashore are reasonably priced and you need to buy vouchers for the purchases (they accepted AUD and Kina). We took 210 Kina with us and had bought some dresses and shirts for our granddaughter as well as some drinks, the rest was used as tips and gifts as well as swapping our left over Kina for AUD at Kirawina as they cannot change the AUD. Debarkation - had to be out of the cabins by 6.30am (explains why the rooms were ready so early on embarkation day), we did the walk off and was in a cab by 6.45am. Overall, the cruise was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise as we wanted to go to the Darwin Cup and Komodo Island. All that dates aligned with the ship docking in Darwin on the date of the Darwin Cup. Paseptic Doom Room 8107 -do not go there. I was so excited to be ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wanted to go to the Darwin Cup and Komodo Island. All that dates aligned with the ship docking in Darwin on the date of the Darwin Cup. Paseptic Doom Room 8107 -do not go there. I was so excited to be going on a cruise, Brisbane to Singapore, with stops at Port Douglas, Darwin, Timor Leste, Komodo Island and Benoa Bali. I had read some bad reviews and also some good reviews about the Pacific Dawn and I decided to go with the the good reviews. I booked an interior room and were surprised to have been given a complimentary upgrade to cabin 8107, obstructed view. The first night we noticed our floor vibrating, then the loud noise from the band, then karaoke (help me please). We made the decision to not come back to our cabin till after 11.30 to avoid this. We had a great few days enjoying the ship. The decor is very modern, and we soon settled in to ship life. Day 2 my partner came down with very bad head congestion and rough cough. By Day 6 I also had it. So we did not contaminate others, we lay low and and hid in our cabin. That’s when we noticed the little laneway outside our cabin carrying all kind of engineering/ seamen past our cabin window. One whole afternoon they were grinding metal outside our windows. So curtains closed during the day, and noise till 11.30 pm each night. As we disembarked in Darwin to head to the chemist for medication, we noticed a couple of 100 more people with the same problem cough. After we were feeling a little better and not contagious we ventured out. One night in the Marqee lounge, the chorus of coughing was louder than the entertainment. My guess would be that the air conditioning on this ship is very sick. We washed our hands thoroughly, used the sanitiser, I sanitised our cabin twice a day with eucalyptus spray. You can’t catch it through the food handling as the staff handle all the food. So I am guessing if you go on this ship get a balcony cabin so you can have fresh air. I am sitting by the pool right now and it is a chorus of coughing. Now down to the sewerage problem. The first couple of days all was fine, then a massive sewerage smell started sweeping over the ship. Staff outside the Marquee were spraying air freshener on to the carpet to try to cover it up. The smell was very dominant around deck 7,8,9 and 11. This is not good enough P&O. This is a major health risk to your staff and your passengers. I do hope that this is your major priority of your 2 week dry dock in Singapore. Getting off the ship at tender ports. It is so slow. Arrive Bali at 8.00am, still trying to get off at 12pm. Not complaining as I can see the problem, but just be aware if you book tours privately. Promenade bar is a great spot to get a serious drink and unwind before dinner. A very big Thank-you to John and Bella for looking out for us. Orient Bar Too noisy for me, always trivia, games, karaoke going on , but way to loud for my tastes. The Pantry Food acceptable, the only problem for me was if I wanted butter with my toast, I had to line up in 2 queues, as the butter did not live with the toast. A good concept of a food court style. Stops germs spreading. Food was ok, service was excellent. The Waterfront Gone are the days of having the same table for dinner every night. But it was ok, we got used to it. The food was of an acceptable standard and the service was efficient. Salt Grill What a disappointment We had dined here previously 10 yeas ago on the Jewel. It was brilliant back then. I ordered sashimi scallop. There was more potato on the plate than scallop, and covered in a green herb sauce that totally over powered the delicate taste of the scallop. I had a steak that was a little on the tough side for main. I had the cheese for dessert, which was the smallest serving of cheese I have seen on a platter. All in all very bad value for money at $59 per head. Nice wine list though. We also had the afternoon tea at Salt Grill which was very good at $29. I wish they would change the menu as I would have liked to this again. Chefs Table Pre dinner canapés with Australian Sparking, followed by a 7 course degustation. This was a lovely meal, the standout dish for me was the lobster bisque We had Tuna Lobster Bisque Barramundi Strawberry Daquiri Steak Mango dessert Cheese platter All dishes had accompanying Australian wines. It was a very well balanced out menu Shell & Bones Thanks Kylie for a wonderful night. The food was what I expected and the prices reasonable. We ended up esting here Twice The Grill Perfect Pizza, excellent. The Spa Did not go to the spa as the prices were off the charts. I really wanted a masssge but not at those prices. I wonder how many people would book treatments if the prices were not so high. Our Cabin 8107 Very clean, our steward James was fantastic looking after us in every possible way. Hot water is magically hot and pressure is the best. But as above, do not book this if you want privacy or peace and quiet. The Orient bar runs all day and concludes at 9.45 and some nights 11.45pm. All access tour. I really wanted to do this, it was something I was looking forward too. We had the access all area’s tour booked, but we are both so sick and we don’t want to affect anyone else’s holiday. The staff are amazing, they go above and beyond any request possible. If it were not for the bad cabin and illness I would rate this a really good cruise. Day Trips Port Douglas Too rough to tender. Darwin Went to the Darwin cup, the buses run for free from the city service. The set up on the day is great, Hundred of long tables under cover for the public. Timor Leste We chose to tour privately with Timor Adventures. The tour was great, but we were pushed for time due to the tender process getting off the boat. Our tour was scheduled to leave at 9am, but it did not leave until 11am, whilst we waited for people to get off the boat. We drove out to the old fort, stopped at an old gaol, seaside lunch, Cristo Rei and the cemeteries where the massacre was. We learnt a lot about the struggles of the people of Timor Leste. Komodo Island We booked a private tour here with Beyond Komodo Tours. It was the highlight of my trip. We had a small group tour of the dragons, sighting 7 in total. We then went on a boat to Pink Beach where we were given snorkelling gear and were dropped straight on the the reef. It was spectacular, beautiful corals and a multitude of fish. Then we were served a delicious lunch of prawns, calamari, chicken, eggplant and stir fry with rice and noodles. Thankyou Leo from Beyond Komodo. This made our trip. Bali Another private tour in a car to Ubud, we visited the monkey forest, a traditional housing compound and a Lewakcoffee house. As we struggled to get off the ship again due to tended, we missed 4 hours of our tour. We used Hire Bali Driver. Leo was very good trying to fit in as much as possible. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Here is the short version of my review. My longer detailed version is below. If you are a first time cruiser with no expectations and you are looking for an average cruise on an average ship with an average crew the pacific dawn is ... Read More
Here is the short version of my review. My longer detailed version is below. If you are a first time cruiser with no expectations and you are looking for an average cruise on an average ship with an average crew the pacific dawn is perfect for you. However, if you are an experienced cruiser with expectations for anything above the bare minimum I would absolutely avoid this ship and this cruise. Long version: this was the first time my wife and I had ever cruised with P&O and it will be the last. We paid a little bit more with Holland America but we had a much better experience! I can't say anything was really TERRIBLE about P&O and the Pacific Dawn but there was nothing above the bare minimum either. There was rust in our cabin and on the outside of the ship. The ship is 28 years old and it is dated and worn out. Half way through our cruise some of the toilets on the lower decks started to back up and smell really bad. Our bed was nice but the pillows we were given were terrible. The crew were nice enough and were never rude but most of them never went out of their way to learn our names or give us anything above the bare minimum. The food was not bad but it was very average. We were not impressed. P&O also charges 5 dollars or more for all the extras (ice cream, hamburgers, hotdogs etc) the only food they don't charge extra for is the food served at breakfast, lunch or dinner The on board entertainment was not bad but again, it was very average. Their "library" is a mobile book cart and the selection is extremely limited. The TV in our room wasn't on demand. If you wanted to watch something you had to plan your day so you wouldn't miss the movie. Now for the positives: P&O does not charge that daily gratuity fee which is very refreshing. Additionally, not every show or every meal were terrible but overall, both the shows and the meals were just average. They did offer a free kitchen gallery tour which many other cruise lines charge upwards of 50 dollars for. That was neat. Also our room stewards really did a good job taking care of us. Some of these complaints might seem petty but as experienced cruisers we just expected more and were disappointed. But as the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for". P. S. Full disclosure, after we disembarked in Singapore P&O claims they are putting the ship in dry dock for 12 days and renovating everything. Unfortunately we weren't on board the ship again to see the results. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our 1st ever cruise was some 10/12 years ago on P&O Pacific Star. Well, haven't things changed (for the better). We were very happy with the offering from P&O and in particular the crew on board the ship. They were a credit to ... Read More
Our 1st ever cruise was some 10/12 years ago on P&O Pacific Star. Well, haven't things changed (for the better). We were very happy with the offering from P&O and in particular the crew on board the ship. They were a credit to the Company and although the ship is an older vessel (certainly showing external signs of age) the vibe on board was friendly and efficient and the crew appeared (primarily) to enjoy their job. Admittedly we did have lower expectations having travelled with the more highly rated Celebrity and Princess Lines, however we were overall quite impressed with the majority of aspects onboard. A special mention to the bands. . . both Popcorn and The Lazy Leis were fantastic and the jam session on the last evening involving all performers was truly memorable . . . very talented. On board crew shows were excellent, a couple of guest performers are past their use by date and appeared to be simply topping up their super. Production shows were considered to be a significantly higher standard - crew shows were particularly entertaining viz LipSync Battle. Having Petro Civoniceva on board was a nice touch as well. . .thanks to him for his valuable time and open participation. A couple of constructive comments . . . the Tendering situation needs work - whoever made the decision to honour the tickets from the aborted tender operation in Port Douglas in preference to distributed tickets for Dili needs to consider their future. . . a real howler. Actual Shore time was significantly reduced in both Dili and Bali due to sea swell and the large number of Ships Tours and "Priority" passengers. Made our own arrangements re a tour in Timor Leste and also Bali - understand cruise coys favour their own shore excursions though we prefer the small group experience v's a coach load. Anytime dining in the Waterfront took a few days to sort out - many passengers had made permanent bookings which meant there was initially up to an hours wait for anytime dining - this resolved itself after 4 nights when some perm bookings were a no show and therefore cancelled. Could easily do with an additional lunch menu in the Waterfront restaurant for variety . . .only 2 menus for the 14 days. . . though there was the variety in The Pantry. Drink prices are excessive though consistent across all lines - what did happen to duty free prices??. . .would like to see a similar policy to that of Princess. . ie allowed to bring a bottle of wine pp onboard. There was sufficient entertainment with usual trivia etc however big screen movies were heavily weighted in favour of children's themes and animations - this despite the small number of children on board. Special mention to the Captain for his accessibility and daily broadcasts - very approachable and informative (luvs his "Minions") . Upon arrival in Singapore, we skipped the long taxi lines and got the MRT direct to the Airport for flight back to BNE. Very efficient disembarkation, despite the fact the ship was advertised as docking at Marina Bay - instead we turned up at Harbourfront - this caught many off guard. Singapore has such a great public transport system - even with luggage. Extremely happy with our decision to revisit a P&O Aust classic ship - overall a good value for money cruise - we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I wish to make a few comments about my recent 3 night comedy cruise aboard P&O Pacific Dawn from Brisbane. I have travelled on this ship for a previous South Pacific Cruise as well as several cruises aboard Princess and Norwegian ... Read More
I wish to make a few comments about my recent 3 night comedy cruise aboard P&O Pacific Dawn from Brisbane. I have travelled on this ship for a previous South Pacific Cruise as well as several cruises aboard Princess and Norwegian cruise lines. I felt that the standard of customer service on the Pacific Dawn has declined to almost deplorable level, most notably the friendliness of staff and their readiness to offer help. The meals were mediocre at best. The choices were limited and it was a struggle at some meals to find something appetising. I also felt that there is a culture of penny pinching, as in everything is at an extra cost. As an example I was shocked at The Indulge menu in the main dining room, at an extra cost. And The Grill has a fee for food items. We did visit Salt and enjoyed our meal but I was violently ill a few hours later and believe the sea scallops were to blame (I commented to my fellow diner at the time that they tasted a bit strange). The ultimate insult was to be asked to vacate our cabin at 6:30am on our disembarkation day. This was our holiday, not bootcamp. Lots of very grumpy travellers that morning! Breakfast was offered until 7:30am on the last morning but was served in a rushed brusk manner. Add to all this the unpleasant smells in some corridors, the slow lifts which would sound fault alarms when they were half full, the blocked toilets on various decks, and the very inappropriate locations of Trivia and other social events (the lobby???, really) which were much too small for all the attendees, and you can perhaps understand why I am disappointed with the way the P&O experience has declined to the point that the brand is being harmed. Cheap can be good, but cheap and nasty is NEVER good. Regretfully I will not be travelling with P&O again on my future cruises, since standards have dropped a step too far, and with plenty of competition I will be looking for more pampering and attention in the future. Good Points: The bed was comfortable, and the comedy acts and other entertainment were very good. Embarkation was quick and easy. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our 1st cruise and I booked P and O because of their $1 deposit. I've seen and heard many negatives ,particularly the Pacific Dawn. I couldn't fault our cruise at all - and I can be hard to please. But I really think some ... Read More
Our 1st cruise and I booked P and O because of their $1 deposit. I've seen and heard many negatives ,particularly the Pacific Dawn. I couldn't fault our cruise at all - and I can be hard to please. But I really think some people just like to complain and whine about nothing. From our boarding to disembarking the crew were fabulous. I found the food great (if I didn't like what I got , I went and tried something else). The people that looked after our room were warm and friendly, basically at your beck and call They remembered mine and the kids names after 1st meeting us. Waiters serving us pre dinner drinks remembered from the 1st night what cocktail I liked. The evening shows are world class. I thoroughly enjoyed them every night. The activities, whether family orientated or for myself were plentiful and fun. I absolutely was in awe of everything. These holidays are really what you put in and make of it. My family and I had a fantastic time. The best value holiday ever. And if P and O is an entry level cruise , I can't wait to try another cruise line. But I would also book another p and o without hesitation My only and biggest regret...... I didn't book one long enough. As soon as I boarded I knew 4 nights was not going to be long enough. New cruise addict here! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have cruised P&O many times from Brisbane as we do not have a lot of options for local ships - until 2020 at least. We were blown away by the service of almost all groups on this ship. The folks running the Edge program are ... Read More
We have cruised P&O many times from Brisbane as we do not have a lot of options for local ships - until 2020 at least. We were blown away by the service of almost all groups on this ship. The folks running the Edge program are AMAZING, and everyone we encountered in the dining rooms / stateroom attendants/ restaurants were fantastic. Sadly there were too many issues with this cruise to recommend anyone travel on the Pacific Dawn. The water supply to our cabin was polluted (*see cabin info below). The food was ordinary at best - with the exception of Salt Grill which was amazing. My wife has coeliac disease, and sadly the labelling on items in the buffet was either incomplete or factually incorrect. An example was a soup at the asian area that said Gluten Free - but when I quizzed the staff I was told no - there is soy sauce in this. The waterfront restaurant made attempts to modify some dishes (dinnertime only) and these were of an ok standard. We had a lot of photos taken as part of a photo package, sadly when we checked the USB drive once at home only a fraction of the photos we selected were actually on this USB disk. This was heartbreaking as we had some wonderful dress-up shots taken of our children. I can only put this down to lazyness of the staff in the photo area. The ship is rusty and tired (it was sad seeing the rust hastily whitewashed over when in lovely Pacific Island ports) the eateries never have enough seating space and have comparably short open hours compared to Royal or Princess. Whilst the waterslides are great, they do not make up for the tiny pool or limited deck chairs on the Lido deck for a cruise with 500 children onboard. Unless you can only afford a 3 day trip from Brisbane or have never cruised before - steer clear of this ship. I took a $600 hit to the pocket by cancelling another cruise I had booked rather than sail on the Pacific Dawn - or probably with P&O - ever again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This is now our third cruise, our second (and last) with P&O. Our first cruise was with P&O on our own and we weren’t impressed, but it was our first and a few years ago now so we thought we would give them another try. The money ... Read More
This is now our third cruise, our second (and last) with P&O. Our first cruise was with P&O on our own and we weren’t impressed, but it was our first and a few years ago now so we thought we would give them another try. The money grab of the century is probably the easiest way to explain it, no happy hours for drinks, no coffee card and the cocktails were so watered down that having 2 of them back to back had no effect at all, just lolly water. The ship is tired with outdated decor. The food was just ok, the Pantry (or pigs trough as we called it) was ordinary, little variety and didn’t change. The Waterfront was ok, but always rushed with a small menu which also didn’t change much. The language barrier was an issue at times also and when asking for certain items to be added or subtracted from a meal it was a bit of a lucky dip. The ship was so crammed with people it was very difficult most times to get a seat to watch any of the entertainment. We decided to try out the Salt grill, which was about $100 extra per couple, the food was very good, but the service was poor, getting the cooking of our steaks wrong and reaching across us often during service. (The Luke Mangan blurb in the menu also had spelling and grammatical errors, he would not be happy) We were unable to stop at 2 out of the 5 islands, I know this is out of their control, but at Conflict Islands the ship left immediately once the decision was quickly made at 9am, then sailing back slowly because of the extra time which made for a very bumpy ride. Many seasick for that next day. I had to go back twice where extra drinks were put against my cruise card, when challenged about it they said they yelled out to me but I walked away, mind you I then sat in the lounge where the bar was for the next hour or so, but nobody came over to me even though the same person was floating around taking drink orders, I had to sort it out, dishonest is a word which comes to mind. Ok, ok, ok, it can’t be all bad I hear you thinking! Well the production shows were very good, but because the Marquee theatre is so dated, their electronic screen, which is a big part of their show is stepped back behind the curtains and unless you sit in the front area, you can’t see it. This was often an issue because of the amount of people crammed onto this boat. Overall a terrible experience, my son and daughter in law came with us and have now asked us not to invite them on another cruise because of how bad this one was. Avoid at all costs, go for another cruise line if you can. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Having been very spoilt on our first cruise with the Regal Princess, I guess I should have expected the standards to be heaps lower. The ship is old and rusty and having had a refurbishment 2 years ago I can't see where the money has ... Read More
Having been very spoilt on our first cruise with the Regal Princess, I guess I should have expected the standards to be heaps lower. The ship is old and rusty and having had a refurbishment 2 years ago I can't see where the money has gone. Our shower had 2 temperatures... hot as the sun and cold as ice. The toilet flushed occasionally and a few times my husband and I had to resort to using water from the tap in a glass to try and flush away anything that went in there. The balcony was tiny and you couldn't leave the door open to listen to the waves. Good luck getting out there to sit on the chairs anyway. On the plus side our room attendants were great and our room was always neat and tidy every day. The food was average. Being a sweet tooth I didn't even eat the dessert. The food was basically the same everyday and felt more like RSL food than a buffet. The staff were hit and miss. Some amazing and some completely uninterested. The mocktail package we bought was fine as long as you didn't mind getting in line for 15 minutes everytime you wanted a drink. The coffee on the other hand was great. Nice flavour and consistent. Bingo was fun... the staff for this were good and Tony was hilarious. The entertainment dancers on the last night of the cruise looked bored and you can tell they don't want to be there. Protege were great, some of the other bands were a bit karaoke style. James in Charlie's bar was amazing and always friendly and happy. He is an asset and if all the staff were like him the ship would be great. Information on shore excursions was pretty limited. The big screen tv has pixelated pieces and you can't see the whole thing. Every restroom I went to had at least one toilet out of order. Sorry P&O but I won't cruise with you again unless you up the level on your ships. We heard a lot of the same from other people who we just overheard. It's a shame because it could be great. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Absolutely loved our time on board!! No, it is not a 5 star ship, but I didn't go on expecting that. We had beds to sleep in, a bathroom and a fridge and tv. Everything else you need is found on the ship. The guys who serviced our ... Read More
Absolutely loved our time on board!! No, it is not a 5 star ship, but I didn't go on expecting that. We had beds to sleep in, a bathroom and a fridge and tv. Everything else you need is found on the ship. The guys who serviced our room every day were friendly and very good at what they do. We ate mostly at the restaurant and loved our wait staff!! They had us in tears of laughter every night. If you go on this ship, ask to have Melvin's station!! Entertainment was great. Trivia shows were so much fun with Jim - he is hilarious! Katie, not so much, but Jim and Ashley are fantastic. They really know how to work the room. The production shows in the Marquee were very well done. Tip- when playing bingo, don't prematurely call "Bingo" or you will need to do the Chicken Dance in front of everyone Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
P&O Australia have really dropped the ball on their service standards. We have recently returned from a cruise to Papua New Guinea, from Brisbane, return to Brisbane. Then stayed on the for the 4 night crossing to Auckland where she ... Read More
P&O Australia have really dropped the ball on their service standards. We have recently returned from a cruise to Papua New Guinea, from Brisbane, return to Brisbane. Then stayed on the for the 4 night crossing to Auckland where she will be based until August, This was marketed as a Comedy Cruise. Whilst the ship was very good and appeared in good condition we did have a plumbing issues in our cabin, outside on deck 4. The cabin was very nice and well planned with a 3 seat settee, plus a chair, but no fridge or kettle were provided. The shower is over a tub with very high sides. Could be an issue for those with mobility problems. It is too short for an adult to sit in, you'd have your knees up under you chin. There was very good storage and hanging areas. The former library in HAL days has been converted to the Blue Room bar. It is very nice indeed, but personally I miss the library. The library now consists of a small bookshelf on wheels, wheeled out each day in the Atrium. Given that the target market spend most of their time on cellphones this is probably understandable. The main area of disappointment is in the food and service areas, particularly in what is now known as the pantry, previously the buffet. Firstly the staff has been considerably reduced and the very competent Filipinos have been replaced by others, mostly Indian and Sri Lankan. .They are no where near as enthusiastic and helpful, and often they are quite surly. I must stress, the Vanuatuan staff are great, as usual. Tables take forever to be cleared, and then usually they are not even wiped clean, just a brush with a napkin to flick the crumbs on to the floor. This did improve near the end of the cruise, but was still not good. On the morning we arrived back in Brisbane my wife and I were in the pantry area before it was opened and you could clearly sea dirty tables, and goodness know when the carpet was last vacuumed. Given this was before most people has risen and after what I would have thought was nightime cleaning, I was very surprised indeed at the situation. There is also no one ensuring hands are sanitised prior to eating, first time I have never seen this on a cruise. As for the food, well cost cutting is very evident here. The pantry is no longer self service, the reason given was health related due to people coughing and touching food etc, and this I can understand. But I am sure the saving in food wastage must be huge also. It was noted how skimpy servings were. And if more was requested, the feeling was it was resented. Fish and chip section was great, except the fish I am sure, was the very cheap and nasty Bassa, and in very small portions. The roast section was great, and was my favourite. Why though, and this was something we heard a lot of people complain about, was why, on a ship marketed to Aussies and Kiwis, was there a Mexican and Indian section available every day, and yet our favourites of meat pies, burgers and pizzas were only available on a counter on the pool deck and had to paid extra for. And no sausage rolls or cornish pasties at all. This makes no sense whatsoever considering the market.. At breakfast there was no cold fish, salmon, kippers, herring etc, no porridge, and worst of all, and a major irritant for me, no freshly made omelets, only some revolting ones cooked on a large tray, not flipped, and cut into squares that tasted nothing like an omelet. On the sandwich bar, they were all ready made, you could not make up your own choice. There was only one type of cold meat available. And the rolls, sandwiches were full of mayo...yuk. There was no afternoon tea provided and If you returned late from ashore there was nothing at all to eat. In the main Waterfront dining room, any steaks were extra cost!!!. Beef Wellington $31, Eye filet, $36. Never ever seen this before. Lobster as an extra I can understand, but steak !!. A flank steak was offered, 3 very thin slices. In the two other free restaurants, Angelos, and the Asian, they were great, and we rotated our dining areas each night. Sometimes though, again, portions could be very small. But lovely ambiance. Servings generally, were very small everywhere, and for the first time on a cruise, I went up to the pantry for extra's on two occasions, as I was still hungry !. All in all there was very strong smell of cost cutting in all areas. Given we have not cruised with P&O Aust since 2014, this was our 6th cruise with them, the changes were very noticeable, No meetings for singles, LGBT etc, no meetings with Dr. Bill (The AA's), In fact not even a Sunday service, (I would stress none of these are my cup of tea !), But surprising never the less.. Thankfully, no art auctions either. That was a bonus !. But everywhere was the hard sell for Elemis beauty deals, it drove me mad. And why cannot a decent coffee, which is extra cost, be served in a decent cup and not a paper cup. (P&O claim they are Eco friendly) There is now loud music everywhere, the worst being around the pool deck in the afternoons. I don't mind music at all, but all does it all have to be so loud. I much prefer the softer music in her previous HAL days. I appreciate that P&O are aiming for a younger market, but the lowering of the dress standards in the evening dining areas was a bit much. Since when did thongs, singlet, stubbies, or thongs, beach shorts, t-shirt and beanie constitute "smart casual". Or thongs, sox, dirty tracky daks, t-shirt and beanie. The most outrageaus being a female in her 20's, wearing jeans with a bib, and being naked from the waist up, except for the bib !!. None of these were questioned or turned away in the dining room. That is just low life and not what we come to expect on a cruise. Sorry P&O Aust, you have lost us, the ship is lovely, the ship size is spot on, entertainment good, ports were great, cabin service superb, tenders crews, as usual top class, but as for the rest, ....NAH....I think it is Princess, HAL or CMV for us from now on. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Hi just got back from a p&o cruise on the dawn I think it’s time the ship had a up grade the floor in my cabin felt not to stable and there was a real bad smell around the ship Food was always the same entertainment was average.id ... Read More
Hi just got back from a p&o cruise on the dawn I think it’s time the ship had a up grade the floor in my cabin felt not to stable and there was a real bad smell around the ship Food was always the same entertainment was average.id write this on there Facebook page but it looks like they only pick the good comments. I think it’s time they up graded the ship and the entertainment and more things to do iv been on 4 cruises on this ship and found this one to be boring sorry p&o hopefully this review helps to make an improvement not so much bring it down after all people sacrifice for for mouth s years to go on a cruise of a life time . But I’m finding p&o it’s all about the turn around not what the people want hopefully this review improves things on the ship thanks ange Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Wouldn't have liked more than 4 days on this ship 4 nights was just enough The kids water area was extremely busy Pool area very busy and noisy The Pantry was overcrowded we couldn't find a table Luckily we ... Read More
Wouldn't have liked more than 4 days on this ship 4 nights was just enough The kids water area was extremely busy Pool area very busy and noisy The Pantry was overcrowded we couldn't find a table Luckily we booked our table in the waterfront restaurant and ate there every night the trick is to book your table immediately on boarding The adult area at the back of the ship was very quiet nice place to relax but a long walk to the pool The weather was very hot and unfortunately the pool area was extremely busy so cooling off in the pool was not enjoyable I Started to feel slightly unwell on the last day, I've now been bed bound for the last few days with sever flu symptoms, my husband also very ill Anyone going on a cruise please get a flu vaccination a few weeks before departure Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
First cruise for us. It was my husband's surprise 50th gift. We never made it to any of the shows, or any of the parties, nor did we partake in any activities. Instead, we spent our three days wandering aimlessly throughout the ... Read More
First cruise for us. It was my husband's surprise 50th gift. We never made it to any of the shows, or any of the parties, nor did we partake in any activities. Instead, we spent our three days wandering aimlessly throughout the boat, stopping regularly to eat, drink, watch wave patterns, and shop duty-free. It was exactly the break we needed forcing us to smell the roses. We travelled nowhere in particular and did the lazy-circle more than once without even knowing it. The staff were amazing. So polite and so friendly but clearly scarred by previous experiences with unkind passengers. There was no rest for the staff but not once did they complain. Food was incredible actually with lots of variety and a daily menu change. Our last lunch included prawns and mussels. It was so easy to eat healthy on this sea-break. But it was also a carb-lovers delight so we were never left feeling hungry. Service at The Waterfront was high class with speed and professionalism at every meal. Entrees are small but there is nothing to stop you from then going to The Pantry for a top up. Yes, there were lots of bogans and loud mouth swearing teenagers but we managed to find peace and quiet every time we sought it out. And yes, we too found an item from a previous traveller, however, having stayed in many hotels over the years we were not surprised at all. Room attendants do not have the luxury of time in these scenarios, in fact, they have approx. eight minutes to clean each room before the next lot of passengers embark. Again, I want to celebrate the staff. My hat goes off to anyone who can put up with daily abuse from drunk and/or entitled passengers and still come back on shift with a smile. Thank you to our stewards Mel and Mai. You made us feel very special. We will remember our maiden voyage fondly, because of you. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I have done 53 cruises and this would be in the top 5. Every thing was great,. The staff was fantastic. They soon learned your name. The Pantry food was great. Especially the asian soups which was special. The Waterfront restaurant was ... Read More
I have done 53 cruises and this would be in the top 5. Every thing was great,. The staff was fantastic. They soon learned your name. The Pantry food was great. Especially the asian soups which was special. The Waterfront restaurant was so-so.and the speciality dinning was ordinary but cheap at $30 Lots of kids on this cruise 470. Lots of young couples. A old and dated ship but lots of character. The smallest balcony I have ever had, about a meter wide. Then cabin was good, clean and well maintained. Entertainment was fantastic, great broadway shows. Comedian was great. When you consider the cost which was cheap as a sole passenger. It was value for money and I would do it a again and again. The staff made the cruise they were exceptional I loved them. The Orient bar had the cheapest beer on tap I'm have ever had $6 a schooner. I would recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Firstly I have to say that this is not our first cruise with P&O[ the others both 10 day cruises] So I do know that P&O can show their guests a great time on a great ship....unfortunately this was not the case with the Dawn. ... Read More
Firstly I have to say that this is not our first cruise with P&O[ the others both 10 day cruises] So I do know that P&O can show their guests a great time on a great ship....unfortunately this was not the case with the Dawn. Embarkation was fairly quick and easy, then the smell hit us. Our cabin [a balcony...that's a laugh] was 10123 and the corridor leading down to it smelt disgusting [heard the same complaint from other floors] . This smell was there for the whole cruise...so glad it was only 4 nights. When we stepped into our cabin was a little disappointed as it was very dated. I had read that the ship had been refurbished 2 years ago so was expecting at least some new carpets and prints on the walls[apparently the only cabins refurbished were the suites!] Prints were so old & dated the only colours left in them were blue and the carpet[as much as it looked clean] also had an odour. Not sure what era the lamps were from , but it is time they saw the bin.Their were some good points to the cabin, PLENTY of storage[even the heaviest pcker would have room for all their gear] The bathroom was spotless & well laid out and the pillows on the bed were the best I have ever had. Pity the same couldn't be said about the mattress, which was like sleeping on a brick. Also the sheets on the bed were clean but very greyed.The fancy bit of cloth on the bed needed a good wash! The safe to the room took us 20 mins[with the assistance of cabin steward] to lock and when we tried to unlock to get wallets out we couldn't, so had to call front desk for assistance[3/4 hr later] someone turned up and said it needed a new battery and fixed in a couple of minutes. I feel this is something the cabin steward should have been onto when we had trouble locking it. Also felt as much as rooms were left tidy when they were cleaned.....we are not messy people. Things were definitely lacking in this department. Beds were not made until well after lunch one day[even though sign was out from 7.30] only got 2 turndowns & 1 lot of chocs on pillow. Their is also no number to contact your cabin steward. So you just have to look out for them[in some cases try & find them] Not really sure what their shifts actually were . Also I asked if a bucket of ice could be left each day[common sense would have been that it was left in the fridge] But no twice it was left on the table next to the tv [half melted by the time we got to it] Probably the worst aspect of our room was the balcony. Each time we have travelled with P&O we have gone up a level with our room [1st inside...no window, 2nd cruise outside window & this time a balcony] What a mistake that was!!! Should have saved our money! We rarely used the balcony because it was such a hard place to get onto. Let me explain. For Us both to be able to sit outside ! of us had to open the door. Then step outside & close it. Go & sit on the chair which was behind the door when it was opened. The second person would then come out and have to move the table[much to big for the balcony...think they may have come from the suite remodels] to be able to sit and their chair. Putting the table in front of the door making it impossible for the door to be opened again without all the bother we had just gone through. Also the balcony looked like monkeys had been let loose with a paint can. Paint over the furniture, floors and even the windows. This was not the inviting place that is shown in the brochures. We had gotten a balcony cabin on another cruise that we took[Princess] and it was wonderful. We loved to be able to have the door open to let some sea breeze in and we had breakfast & drinks out their many times. We barely used the balcony on this cruise, it was such a mess. May I add that we took this short break cruise to celebrate my birthday & if I had known the balcony would have been so bad we would have gotten a window room! Also hubby [a work health & safety officer] showed concern that there were no fire rated safety bulbs in the sprinkler heads on the balconies. After unpacking we decided to visit the Pantry for some lunch. We had both been looking forward to this as I thought the concept was great Boy was I mistaken. Not sure if the Pantry is laid out the same way on all P&O ships , but on Dawn it just doesn't work. People are going in all directions to have a look at all the little store windows[where as in a buffet you are all in a line going in 1 direction] It is very cramped in some areas . Finding a table can be a nightmare and for the evening meal they even block off part of the eating area to turn into a restaurant[that you have to pay for] So it is even harder to find a seat . Our first meal[lunch] was ok. Desserts were below average and lacked variety. We went to the pantry the following morning for breakfast [think it was about 7-7.30]and it was probably the worst breakfast I have ever had ,ever! As much as their were all the little shop windows open the variety was very limited[was told by other cruisers it was the same breakfast every morning] Decided on french toast and bacon & juice. Both the french toast was barely warm[even though their were a mountain of it in the window] and the juice was barely cold. So just left it promising to never go back their for breakfast again. We did call into the pantry a couple of times [mainly coffee and snacks] at best the food is basic and at times just plain terrible[ rock hard burgers , chips dry & salad limp ] Though I did have some very nice fish & chips one day. Coffee machines are frequently under maintenance for a long time. The waterfront restaurant on the other hand is wonderful. Was always able to get a seat[only 2 of us] and always enjoyed the food [all 3 courses of it] The only negative I have about this restaurant was that I arrived at 9.15 for breakfast[suppose to stop serving at 9.30] after running late from the spa and was told by front staff that they were closing early , so I couldn't have breakfast. Not good service guys! But in general the staff & food was above average in this restaurant We didn't try room service at all on P&O as you have to pay for it [free on Princess cruises] Where P&O did excel was its inside common area bars[obviously where most of the refurbishment had been done.] The Orient , Dome and Promenade bar, were absolutely stunning. Also the bar staff DEFINITELY gave Princess cruises bar staff a run for their money. They actually make their cocktails from scratch[not using premade mixes like on Princess] And they were delicious! A definite to do is the mix academy class run in the promenade bar. You get to make 4 cocktails for $25. !!. Hubby also loved that he was able to get a XXXX gold for $5.95 a can in these bars[they call it banana juice] Way cheaper that beers on other ships. Also another fun thing on P&O was its elevators[again done in refurb] lots of interesting scenes inside rather than plain boring walls. We also weren't constantly harassed to have our photos taken [which to us was great] and attend art auctions which are big on Princess. Probably one of the biggest disappointments on this ship was the pool[If you can call it that] deck. What a disaster!!! 1 VERY small pool [have seen backyard pools bigger] that for anyone with disabilities would have been a nightmare to get in & out of. Looks like there were suppose to be fountain going in it , but they weren't working. There was a kids water park which looked great , if you were a young child. But kids over a certain age did not seem to want to have anything to do with it making the swimming pool absolute bedlam. The couple of spa's on the deck were again only tiny spa's like you have at home. So what is usually a nice relaxing day at the pool definitely wasn't happening aboard the Dawn. Another thing I found absolutely ludicrous was the fact that the pools & spas get netted off at 8.00 in the evening. Seems crazy to me considering we live in the tropics. On other ships they at least leave them open until after the outdoor movies have finished. As people seem to like lying in the pool or spa to watch the movie. Not sure what time they were open in the morning , but did hear some people complaining[so many complaints from people] they had gone for an early morning swim and it was still netted off. The pool deck in general was a disaster area . Furniture generally looked like it had been picked up from the side of the road, Hazard tape was everywhere & where was the staff? It was only on the day before we were due to get off, that were actually saw staff going around asking if you wanted them to get you a drink[ I was thinking that this was not a service offered by P&O. I know the ship had been through a cyclone previously, but I do think that cruisers should have been notified about the damage done, then they could decide if they wanted to continue on a substandard cruise, or rebook later. Feel this was definitely money grabbing on your part. The main bar on the pool deck was not open until in the evening [as the cover had been damaged in the cyclone[ So a small pop up bar had been made. Don't know how many times we had warm drinks from there [actually soft drink came straight out of a warm can over ice] Not good enough P&O[ you guys are suppose to be leaders in the cruise field] . Staff were VERY low on pool decks . Chairs had towels over them for hours with people wandering round looking for seats , but not knowing if they could sit their. Actually stall seemed to be light on everywhere As I was on this cruise for my birthday decided to treat myself to the spa [a facial massage package] What a lovely looking area that was . Staff was wonderful. Chang[mu therapist ] couldn't have been better. Pity my peaceful massage was constantly disturbed by BEEP BEEP BEEP, BANG BANG BANG. Chang informed me that they were fixing something in the engine room. Definitely not the relaxing experience I was craving[But again thank you Chang for trying] Think that's about it apart from letting you know you will have to pay for shuttle buses to town[free on other cruise] and that public toilets constantly seemed to be under maintenance. Heard so many complaints aboard this ship[actually the only positive thing I heard was" well I suppose you get what you paid for'" ] When I got home I compared the per night rate for this cruise aboard P&O and the per night rate we paid on Princess at the end of last year and the difference was less than $50 a night per cabin [and that was sailing at Christmas time] So I really don't feel that " this was a cheap cruise" statement is warranted. To All the staff on the Dawn, I feel sorry that you have to work on such a substandard ship .but you do the best you can with what you have[heard 1 passenger refer top it as a ferry] Would I ever travel with P&O again, yes would give them another try. Would I travel on the Dawn again NEVER!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We enjoyed this cruise very much, partly because it was our first time to New Guinea but perhaps also because (this being our fifth cruise on 'the Dawn') our expectations regarding this old tub were blunted long ago (I say it ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise very much, partly because it was our first time to New Guinea but perhaps also because (this being our fifth cruise on 'the Dawn') our expectations regarding this old tub were blunted long ago (I say it fondly). Though built in 1990 and last refurbished in 2017, she looks about my age (70 this year). We're both a bit tired and very wrinkled. To begin with, there were two big negatives (and a few smaller ones). First, having boarded at 11am, I did not receive my luggage until about 5 pm, when a note was attached to our cabin door telling me (peremptorily, because that's how you treat suspected crims) to visit Deck 3, where my bag would be opened in my presence and the contraband therein (identified by an unknown but not too efficient process) extracted. I did as I was told. The culprit, an innocent bottle of Gaviscon, was nestling on top of my shirts. Without apology (though without rudeness either) the young staff member hastily allowed me to depart. He did not even sniff the contents. No doubt he could tell (from a few remarks of mine) that such a move would be unwise. I think my anger was justified (though it was not the young man's fault). Maybe I should have known better. But if P&O were half as concerned with good customer relations as they are with their profits from alcohol, they would tell customers very clearly in pre-cruise advice not to pack bottles in their luggage. This would seem to be simple enough. The second hiccup occurred when we retired that night (early, as befits our age and health). Our cabin was close to the atrium where loud music continued until well past 10 pm. Throb, throb, throb. Next day, our cabin was exchanged with no fuss and, indeed, the young lady on reception went out of her way to be pleasant and helpful. Mind you, we were initially warned that an exchange might not be possible because P&O ships tend to sail fully booked. So, good luck, rather than P&O management, was mostly responsible for the good outcome here. The food in the Waterfront Restaurant is not good at all, very hit and miss. We booked for five evenings, but did not survive the first. I had a positively monstrous concoction: a base of dry rice and/or couscous (I couldn't tell what it was), black in colour and tasteless (another diner later said it 'looked like dirt and tasted like dirt), topped with a very few pieces of battered eggplant and artichoke. My friend had sliced beef that was so salty as to be inedible. Some diners at our table were happy, but we did not return to the Waterfront, and from the number of complaints we heard about its food we evidently made the right choice. The Pantry was a different story. The food varied from OK through good to excellent. The curries are nothing short of superb, and are served with a great range of condiments, chutneys etc. It is a pity, though, that the cheapest quality short-grain rice is used in this Indian (and Asian) food. It rather spoils it. My only other complaint about food in The Pantry is the bread served at breakfast, which is clearly obtained from Coles (the $1 per loaf stuff). Another negative: a so-called 'market' is held in the Dome once during the cruise, and involves some of the merchandise found in the Atrium shops. But while a very few items may be reduced, most are not. I checked out the mugs and Billabong shirts ($18 and $70 respectively, as in the shops). Nothing but a grand deception! The musical entertainments on this cruise were also good. The Drawbridge Duo was 'standing room only' every night and deserved their popularity, as did an African American solo pianist. We don't go to the nightly stage shows, because on past cruises on this ship they have been either cringeworthy or ear-shattering or both. The talks on the wartime history of the places visited were very worthwhile. One of the most striking features of a cruise on the Pacific Dawn is the easy going friendliness of staff and passengers alike. The staff cannot be faulted (though one girl on the breakfast toaster was always a bit grumpy - not a morning person, but we can empathise!). Smiles and greetings are frequent and natural. The same applies to the passengers, who are very friendly on the Dawn. All in all, a very enjoyable trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
To give this review some context we are somewhat experienced cruisers having been three times on RCL, twice on Carnival and once on Celebrity, three of those cruises were for nineteen nights and the rest shorter. Pacific Dawn is an ... Read More
To give this review some context we are somewhat experienced cruisers having been three times on RCL, twice on Carnival and once on Celebrity, three of those cruises were for nineteen nights and the rest shorter. Pacific Dawn is an older and smaller ship than most we’d been on but after the refurbishment the interior of the ship is typical of most ships and in good condition. The ship had recently been affected by Cyclone Oma so there were more than the usual signs of surface rust showing, the crew were always painting whenever conditions allowed. Cruise ships are like aircraft they are constantly in use, a docked cruise ship is just eating money, so a quick turnaround is always the norm, this necessitates maintenance being done whilst a ship is on a cruise. Overall, we thought the Pacific Dawn was well maintained and in good condition considering its age. Our cabin was a suite (SA) on deck eleven, it was very comfortable, the carpets and everything that wasn’t nailed down had been replaced during the refurbishment. That said we aren’t 5 Star travellers, preferring budget airlines and better rooms in 4 star hotels instead of standard rooms in 5 star hotels. Without question the best thing about this ship are the crew, an amazing bunch of people, they were always, friendly, smiling and helpful. We ate in both the Main Dining Room and The Pantry as well as room service breakfasts on most mornings, the room service breakfasts were excellent as were some of the meals in the other two venues, however we felt that choices in the MDR were somewhat limited and seemed designed more to impress than please, a lady on an adjacent table received a turkey breast that was so tough she couldn’t cut it and it was replaced by another, somewhat better but still tough. Some of the meals were excellent, barramundi in filo pastry, Italian meat balls and lasagne with quinoa spring to mind, my wife who is less adventurous found most of the meals a bit too exotic and settled for soup and desert on many nights, she was obviously disappointed (her waistline wasn’t!) Here again the staff were excellent! Our experience in the Pantry was similar with their breakfasts quite good when we ate there but on occasions the food was pretty ordinary, on the first day I had an Asian dish with beef that was very tough, on another occasion they had a lot of cinnamon and sugar donuts which looked lovely but required some serious chewing to eat. On the other hand the fish and chips were excellent, the deserts were variable some good some not so good which pretty much sums up the food generally. The Pantry is an excellent concept as long as it is well staffed and in our experience it was, there is no doubt that having all of the food served from behind glass will limit the gastro problem as people can’t drop a spoon on the floor and put it back, taste food off the spoon and put it back etc etc as is sometimes seen in the traditional buffets. The eating areas are also divided into smaller areas which avoids that cafeteria feeling of some ships. We had drinks before dinner most nights in the Cocktail Bar on deck seven overlooking the Atrium, the service was good but they repeatedly ran out of martini glasses and had to serve them in a wine glass and a beer glass was no where to be seen. Pretty poor form for a cocktail bar. Like all cruises common sense is required if you don’t want to search for a table in the Pantry don’t go at peak times, the same can be said for going ashore by tender, after all it’s a holiday, will another half hour ruin your day? We didn’t go to any shows but we did go ashore in Alotau to the Cultural Festival which was excellent, didn’t in Kitava because it rained on and off, Rabaul was a fascinating place and really took some getting used to because people would come up to you, introduce themselves and thank you for visiting Rabaul, one of those situations that invariably invokes the “what are you selling response” but these people were genuine and a refreshing change to the usual run of spivs and hawkers you come across on shore visits. We also went ashore in Kiriwina and had a swim as well. All of the islands were worth a visit but be sure to have reef shoes, the coral can be very sharp, even on some of the beaches. Regardless of the ups and downs we enjoyed our cruise to PNG, there were a good range of people on board, a few children but overall a well-behaved and friendly crowd. Would we cruise again with P & O? Probably not, but we choose cruises by itinerary and when we booked this was one of few cruises going to PNG, that has now changed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our first cruise on the Dawn ( been on all the others), was a bit worried as other people had reported it as a bad experience. However, I was very satisfied. We were lucky with the weather and got ashore all ports, P&O ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Dawn ( been on all the others), was a bit worried as other people had reported it as a bad experience. However, I was very satisfied. We were lucky with the weather and got ashore all ports, P&O organized some lectures on board which was very interesting. Alotau - been twice previously, there isn't really much to see there. There was two new places to go drinking - one just after leaving the dock on the left, it was a big hut with natives singing and playing instruments. Beers were $5 or 10 Kina. Keep walking and arrive in town and a new resort ( Imperial I think ), it was really good with new pool and great gardens ( it was full of Aussies) beers were $5.50 or 11 kina. Ship tours were available but most people didn't like them. Lots of beetle nut chewing and spitting everywhere, also watch out for pick pockets here. Kitava Island -Tender ashore. Very lovely place, lots of natives selling junk ( I mean interesting items). Everywhere there is schools singing and hospital etc people after your money - make sure you take some small kina with you as they have nothing and all is appreciated. Snorkelling is good especially over the small island ( 5 kina a trip- by speed boat or sailing vessel) Kiriwina Island - been once before. They put on a big dancing show and usually a cricket game ( but bus broke down so no cricket this time), people follow you everywhere wanting you to pay them small money to show you around. You need to go past the small island to find any coral alive and the shelf drop off is where the fish etc are at. Rabaul - been once may years ago. You can just get off and get a tour ( the same company I used 3 years ago) less then half price from ship. Interesting thing I noted - the ship tours travel in convoy with a armed guard in first van and a spare empty van at the rear in case one breaks down. The tours to volcano and old war sites are interesting and now have air conditioned vans. Not much to see in town. Conflict Islands - never been - beautiful - It's owned by some rich Australian I heard. Everything is expensive beers are $10. Walk to other side of island and swim out to the coral and fish ( fair distance but it's salt water so can float most of the way ), great for coral and fish ( probably the same as the best I have seen at Mystery Island). No locals to hassle you. Cabin - Was a 4 berth but only two of us, but it was fine for size and clean. We had lots of problems ( air conditioning, cold water stopped, plug stuck in sink, noisy neighbours ) but reception got it all sorted so that was fine. Food - There is the Waterfront and Pantry for free eating, we never bothered with the Waterfront as we heard it was booked out after 1 day ? Pantry food was fine, of course it was crowded at times but you could always find a seat or stool somewhere. Dessert bar had too many cakes as usual, but did have fruit salad, but no ice cream. The Orient ( where most trivia's etc was held was very noisy from the bar and ice crushing machine going all the time. Atrium as usual had very little seats, almost impossible to get one for shows or trivia's etc. Entertainment was OK, a few fill in shows, but that's normal. Duty Free - what a joke , it should say extra duty, drinks were at least double prices in Vila. Exchange rate on the ship from Bank was $1 = 2 kina. Entertainment team were OK, Cruise director Ben was a very bubbly person and always said hello to you, seemed a really nice guy. Unable to walk all the way around the deck 7 only up and down each side. Get to gym early ( it says opens at 6:30am, but it was always open at 6am. Beers on board ranged from $6 up and wine was $9.50 up per glass. No tender tickets were used on this cruise, just line up early. Laundry was 3 x $1 coins for washing, we just hung up our clothes in room to dry. Overall it was a great cruise, especially as we met such lovely people on board ( mostly from Brisbane of course ). Prices for cruises out of Brisbane are more expensive then out of Sydney. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our 6th cruise, our first with P&O. Overall, a good cruise, but compared to other lines (Norwegian and Carribean) not so good. SHIP - older but refurbished in 2015 and was ok. CABIN- inside at stern. Great cabin with ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise, our first with P&O. Overall, a good cruise, but compared to other lines (Norwegian and Carribean) not so good. SHIP - older but refurbished in 2015 and was ok. CABIN- inside at stern. Great cabin with pretty good room. A bit of rust in shower but not really a problem. Biggest problem was the aisle being uneven and holes in deck beneath the carpet. A slant was ok, but not dips and holes. DINING- food overall was disappointing, particularly compared to the other ships we’ve been on.The chefs need to taste their food, some dishes too salty or not salted. The Pantry has a variety of options that were mediocre. Some dishes were ok but nothing outstanding. The Indian food was very disappointing considering many chefs are Indian. We hated the buffet style but being served by staff for every dish was unusual as every other cruise was self serve. Probably saves waste, but we didn’t like it. The waterfront restaurant was ok, but nothing outstanding. Italian was slightly better but lots of kids dining ruined the experience for us. Luke Mangaan’s paid restaurant had excellent food. Dragon Lady Asian restaurant was very good. No soft serve ice cream available... really? The paid for New Zealand ice cream was nice but expensive. We were staggered at why we had to pay at The Grill by the pool for Hamburgers, Hot dogs, Nachos Pizzas etc. Lucky the ship is Australian based cause the Yanks would go crazy!. ENTERTAINMENT- typically mixed! Most good, some excellent. Special mention for Sideshow Alley. Best we,ve seen on a cruise. SERVICE- room service was fine. Not much cleaning around ship though.Some public toilets needed more than once daily cleaning. On other cruises, water on the pool deck was wiped up almost instantly, not so on Pacific Aria. No towels at the pool after returning from a shore day was especially irritating, as were the crew comment to go and get your room towels. PORTS- ok. P&O had the best on off procedure we’ve had. Still takes some time but it just seemed to work. Good value shore excursions compared to rip off prices on other ship lines. WOULD WE RECOMMEND? Probably Not, better overall on other lines. We still had a great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019

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