I've just returned from a 4 day cruise on the Pacific Aria. I must say I was totally mortified after reading all the really bad reviews after booking and paying for this cruise. It was to be a taster for my boyfriend who had never cruised before. I know lots of people only ever post negative reviews and because I had previously cruised before and found some really negative reviews of the cruise I had absolutely enjoyed, I was willing to make up my own mind and not let any negativity get me down before I had even set foot on board.
I was so glad I did because we had a fantastic time. 99% of the staff were very helpful, restaurants were good. We had meals at all the food places - The Pantry was great as opposed to the previous buffet process where you could see other passengers handling food and then putting it back for someone else to eat -YUK! So much more hygienic this way. Waterfront Restaurant was good, no dramas and the food that came out was hot and tasty. Angelo's was ok but not as nice as Dragon Lady. Salt Grill was so worth the surcharge - food was beautiful. Only comment I have to make was you had to book into the specialty restaurants on the morning you wanted to dine but when we went to book at the time we were told that bookings were open we found there wasn't any good times left only very early or quite late. So I have no idea where and how all those other bookings were made?? There needs to be a proper system of booking put into place and then all staff and passengers having to stick to that process. It's unfair to say one thing and then find that others have somehow circumvented that process. That said, we still enjoyed our dining at the times we booked.
Our cabin on deck 4 was actually a lot better than we expected. Minimal noise from the engines or other passengers. We had no issues with the shower or toilet. If you've traveled before you will know what's expected - there's no engineering degree needed to work the shower controls like someone else posted on this site.
All the public areas have been refurbished beautifully. I think P and O have made efforts to redress a lot of the previous complaints re having to wait a long time for drinks etc because we had no issues whatsoever. In fact there were lots of times when we had "too much" attention with drink waiters hovering near us to get our next drink order before we'd even finished our drinks.
All in all I'm so glad I didn't let any of the previous very negative reviews colour my experience on board. It's a lovely ship and I would certainly travel on it again.
Cabin was much bigger than I expected for a cheaper and therefore lower cabin. Bed was very comfortable (singles pushed together to make a king) and the pillows were extremely comfortable. Towels were a little on the small size but always clean and fresh.