We choose this cruise as it was not your average destination & we wanted to experience a different culture & people.
The ship sailed from Cairns Aust. We live in Central Victoria. So right from the get go we were up for extra costs of air fares & hotels. If we flew up on the day of the cruise & there was a problem with flights then we could have been in deep doggy do doos. The prudent thing was to go to Cairns the day before= flights + hotel +3 hours in a plane. Not actually complaining about that. But the cruise. The Eden is a rebirthed ship. We had an inside, deck9 cabin. Not badly appointed. However & this was a 1st for us......no refrigerator. We had to order one through reception & could only have one if one was available. Went to have a shower. I live on property with only tank water. My pump put out a lot more pressure than what we had on board. 2nd night in during the wee hours there was a lot of loud noises that was coming from some machinery near our cabin. it was that loud & sounded like something was breaking down that after a while I was almost ready to report it to reception, then it quietened down. I made mention to our steward the next morning. He was unaware of anything but later in the day he told me that it was an ice machine(must have been a big one). if P&O are aware of these things you would think that they would inform you of this & maybe discount the cabins that are effected by the noise.
A POINT of INTEREST for all serving & ex service members. We only found out about this after we had a serviceman's meet & greet on the 2nd day. You are entitled to some sort of cruise discount or on board credits. The cruise companies don't tell you but apparently they're there .Good on you P&O & Princess. I'm 4 cruises up now & it's the 1st I heard of it
Food: No real complaints, I ate well, good variety, The main restaurant, 6.5/10. prefer to have set dinning. In port the restaurant was not open for lunch. Had to deal with the buffet or as they call it, the Pantry. Can get very crowded on port days & hard to find a table to sit & eat. Good idea, prefer this over the buffet style eating. No contamination by passengers with less than adequate personal hygiene, if you know what I mean. Main gripe with the food: the wife like a lot of people is gluten free. While meals in the main restaurant was not an issue, as she was able to pre order the next days meals. But up in the pantry, especially port days, when we came back from ashore at lunch time to have a bite to eat......there was next to nothing to eat ashore.....the selection of gluten free was very limited to say the least. I did talk to another passenger who was also GF & she was having a terrible time trying to get something to eat. I explained to her about pre ordering at the restaurant. Don't know how she went, but someone other that me should have explained to her. Maybe P&O could have assisted her before embarkation.
Other disappointment: The theatre: Seats looked OK, until you sat down. on the hard side & after an hour or so show they were very uncomfortable. Also seating was a bit low: obstructed view from people in front of you & if they were moving around due to the uncomfortable factor it only compounded the situation. The cruise director: after each show it was the same old tiresome lines night after night. The shows were good & enjoyed them.
The ship's staff rated highly, particularly our cabin steward. nothing was a hassle for him.
I should mention ....Duty free......alcohol & cigs. Very limited in what they had in the way of alcohol & even though I no longer smoke it doesn't hurt to bring some home for those that do. But no Smokes at all. It was as though this cruise only had left overs from previous cruises.
Last word on the ship: embarkation & disembarking in Cairns was via a steep gangway. My wife had cellulitis & hard for her to walk far let alone up or down a steep gangway. & a young lady behind us who has had numerous hip & knee replacements due to childbirth problems struggled badly. God knows how the elderly faired.
PNG: 4 Stops. Alotau, Kirawina, Katava & Conflict Islands
Alotau was the highlight of our trip. We organised our own private tour. We visited a bush school & bush village. We were welcomed & made to feel very special, as they don't normally have visitors. They welcomed us into the village with a ceremonial welcoming & the students sang us a song that they had practised for weeks. We brought them a heap of gifts for the school as they have absolutely nothing. We then travelled to another 2 villages, where we were given displays on traditional activities. We also took gifts to these villages. The only other activities in Alotau was a cultural & canoe festival. We didn't experience this as we had our own tour while it was on. I didn't hear many favourable reports on this from other passengers. Kirawina & katava . Not much there. swimming, snorkelling & markets. The markets consisted of villagers selling their wares.
Conflict Islands, was more of an activity stop, not much interaction with natives
One thing that struck me about PNG & this is only my own personal opinion. Tourism has ruined it. Everyone is after your money. people from kids up that want to take you somewhere & show you things to canoe rides, photos or any activity. They see the cruise ships come in & its one big cash cow. I'm all for helping people out & that's why we took gifts to the places we went to or buying the odd carving which might help out.
In conclusion, would I use P&O again.....yes.... Would I sail on the Eden or its sister ship the Aria....No Would I go back to PNG.... Yes but depending on where in PNG. I would research the ports of call first. If it was anything like Kirawina or Kativa then the answer is No