My husband and I have just returned home from a 5 night cruise to Tasmania on the Pacific Eden. This is my very objective review of our experience. I apologise as it is quite lengthy as I wanted to be thorough! Getting on board was a very stress free process, we probably queued for about 15 mins which was pretty good considering there were a LOT of people in the cruise terminal at Melbourne. All the staff involved in this stage were very friendly and helpful. We got on board and made our way to our room which we had no trouble finding, plenty of signage on board the ship with directions to where everything was situated.
CABIN - First impressions of our room (we had a forward port side room with a porthole) was very good...lots of room, large comfy bed and a very good sized bathroom with both a bathtub and shower. There was no fridge or coffee making facilities (not a negative for us at all, we were not bothered in the least) A serious nitpicker would probably suggest that the grout was a bit stained in the bathroom but seriously, it had absolutely no impact on our trip at all, I am only mentioning it as I was trying to see things from every angle and that stuff matters to some people.
BARS, LOUNGES, SHOPPING, FACILITIES - we loved the decor on the Eden. It was tasteful without being 'over the top'. All the public areas were very clean and there were enough different themes in the bars to suit most tastes. We particularly loved the Blue Room and the Ocean Bar. Staff in these areas were lovely, always smiling and happy to help out. Beer prices started at $5.95 a can for VB, cocktails started at $12 each and soft drinks were $2.75 a can/glass. Not a lot of shopping options available on the Eden, but as we didn't go on a cruise to go shopping it did not bother us.
EATING OPTIONS -
We sampled all eating options apart from the Chef's table.
DRAGON LADY - ASIAN FUSION (included in fare) 9/10 - we loved the food and the service here was absolutely brilliant! We enjoyed it so much we went back there a second time on our last night. Our waitress, Ria, was amazing, she explained everything about how the menu worked, happily brought us seconds of the main items as we enjoyed them so much.
ANGELOS - ITALIAN (included in fare) 6/10 The lower score was attributed more to the service, the staff were not close to the standard of those in Dragon Lady. Our waiter dropped our soup on the floor on way to table and my husband ordered a beer before entrees and received it during dessert. The food was pleasant without setting the world on fire, our waiter was so stoic we didn't dare ask for seconds of anything
SALT GRILL ($49 per person for dinner)10/10 We loved Salt Grill! It was the most incredible eating experience. The staff were friendly and so good at their roles. We had Kobi Waygu beef and it was simply delicious, entrees and dessert were sublime.. we pre booked this in cruise control as the special occasions package and it was pretty good value doing it this way. For $199 we got dinner for 2 at Salt Grill, ($98 value) a bottle of Moet Chandon ($89 to buy on board) a box of Hillier Chocolates ($10) and $50 on board credit added to our account.
THE WATERFRONT (included in fare) - 9/10 for breakfast - definitely the best place to get breakfast. No need to pre book a table, you just front up between the times posted for breakfast and get allocated a table.
Lots of options and all very nicely cooked.
THE WATERFRONT -6/10 for dinner - bookings needed to be made in advance, though they did have a reception for 'guests without bookings' so I imagine they did try to accommodate late comers. We found service was a bit slow and the food was kinda boring. Once again it was 'nice' but didn't set our taste buds tingling. The menu does change every night so we might have just got a bad one. We spoke to some other passengers who said they had a lovely meal there the previous night but had also found a couple of nights a bit ho hum.
THE PANTRY - (included in fare) 7/10 for breakfast. There were plenty of different things to have for breakfast, you could have as much as you wanted and definitely didn't go away hungry. The sausages were no where near as nice as the ones served in the waterfront. While it is presented buffet style, it is not self serve. We actually preferred this as your food didn't have a chance to come in contact with a bunch of other people before you got to eat it.. :D
Apple and orange juice were available, as much as you wanted.
THE PANTRY - 8/10 for lunch. We found there were plenty of different options for lunch. Our hardest thing was deciding what we wanted to eat! If you struggle eating asian, mexican, or indian food, there was a lovely roast available each day as well as fish and chips and a nice fresh salad and fruit bar. Kettle bun also had fresh rolls and sandwiches on offer. Our only nitpick for the pantry was the cakes and desserts section - we found most of them quite bland and tasteless, but as we aren't sweet tooths, it wasn't really a big deal. Certainly not a deal breaker in any case!
The coffee at the New Zealand ice cream bar was delicious at $4.50 for a large cappuccino which we thought was great value. Other food options were available for a nominal charge - pizza $9.50, burgers for $5, bucket of jumbo prawns $15 etc. Room service is user pay and once again we thought the rates were pretty reasonable if you were too lazy to go get your own food...:D
THE ENTERTAINMENT - we did miss the first night's show as we opted to go to karaoke instead lol. We saw two shows from the Pacific Performers, The Velvet Rope and Sideshow Alley - we loved both of these and the singing was wonderful. We also saw the Aussie Boys of Motown - these 3 guys were fantastic! So entertaining, we could have listened to them for hours.
The comedian for the Sit down Comedy night, Paul Brasch, was very funny and entertaining. We loved the theme nights, Gatsby, Bianco (white party) and Back to School. Our only issue was the venue used for the start of the Gatsby night...it was too small an area for the amount of people they had which made it quite uncomfortable and a bit warm. Once it moved to the bigger Dome venue, it was much more enjoyable.
We were very impressed with the musical talent on board, in particular the Hitmen duo, and the assorted bands that played throughout the different venues on the ship.
THE STAFF - 9/10 - practically every staff member we had contact with was lovely and friendly and so helpful. Only one waitress on the last day was a bit dour, hence the point off! Our cabin steward, Moses, was wonderful. Bobby (cruise director) and the entertainment crew were funny and friendly and got right into doing things with the passengers.
SHORE DAYS - we pretty much did our own thing on shore days, we did not book any of the shore tours offered on board.
We found getting off and on the ship to be a very smooth process.
Port Arthur was 'by tender' and it was a well oiled machine getting people on and off the tenders. No fuss and easy with very little waiting around. We had shuttle buses waiting at the port to take us into Burnie, with 3 pick up and drop off points. Once again, very well managed and a very easy process.
EMBARKATION - we were given our time of 9am and we were off the ship at 9.05am, bags collected and in a taxi on our way back to the city...seamless and easy!
OVERALL - 8/10 - We really loved our time on Pacific Eden and would definitely sail on her again in a heartbeat! Most of the nit picky negatives I have listed had no impact on the overall enjoyment of our cruise. We liked the smaller, more intimate feel of Eden rather than that of the bigger ships. We did hear one woman say it was the worst cruise she had ever been on, and that judgement was made ONE HOUR after getting on board...lol We did note that a lot of elderly people complained the most about Pacific Eden - most travellers in our age group (mid 40's), parents with younger children and also the younger (20 something) cruisers, that we talked to, all expressed pretty much the same opinion as us, that they would happily sail on the Eden again.
Very spacious and comfortable. Loved the big comfy bed!
We hired a car in Hobart and drove to ZooDoo Wildlife a Park in Richmond. Fantastic place! Then went to see the oldest bridge in Australia and visited the old goal in Richmond.
We chose to walk around by ourselves and spend as much time as we wanted looking at everything this very historical site has to offer
Very interesting museum with great displays of what life was like in Burnie 100 yrs ago.