• Write a Review
  • Boards
  • Log In
Pacific Dawn Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
302 Reviews

P&O Pacific Dawn

Pacific Dawn Cruise Review by garymit

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2017
  • Destination: the South Pacific

Cabin: My wife and I stayed in cabin 5195 which is a standard oceanview cabin sited at the rearmost starboard side on deck 5. Closet space was OK and our cases stored nicely under the bed.

The cabin was clean and lived up to expectations although was a little ‘tired’ including:

• One bedside draw front was loose;

• Cream coloured masking tape applied to cosmetic damage on a wall;

• The TV stand was clearly made for an old style CRT TV.

Despite this, the cabin was more than acceptable, although I would avoid it and others aft on deck 5 in future due to a noticeable whine from the main propulsion engines which took a couple of days to acclimatise to. Having said that, despite there being a conspicuous vibration in the Plantation restaurant on deck 12 above us, this was pleasingly not apparent in the cabin.

Dining: We ate largely in the Waterfront restaurant for breakfast, dinner and a couple of lunches. The restaurant was very pleasant and the staff tried hard to please with the exception of one young but very ‘tired’ waiter. The only disappointments was that the dress code was not always strictly enforced and the food although of good quality was cool on occasions. Overall a reasonable experience.

We chose not to dine at either Luna or the Salt Grill having done both previously instead opting for the Chef’s Table which despite its cost we believe offers an excellent dining experience. The staff were obviously handpicked and clearly enjoyed lavishing the table with attention. This is our second visit to the Chef’s Table having done so on a previous cruise and we would so again.

Entertainment: We didn’t participate in any of the physical activities, instead opting for the spectator shows, occasional trivia and quiet seating areas. This was our 6th cruise and I have to say that the ship’s entertainment was the best we have experienced to date which is commendable as we have travelled with two competitors. The singers only once dropped a note and was comparable to many evening televised shows. The shows were choreographed very professionally and we’re confident we’ll see a couple of the artists again, maybe on television. As with previous P&O and other cruise lines, the entertainment coordinators worked tirelessly to deliver a flexible and professional itinerary in what was a predominantly sea based cruise with only 5 days ashore from a 14 day cruise.

The physical activities appeared to be well organised and which the younger generation clearly enjoyed.

Having taken young children on cruises previously, we know how challenging this can sometimes be. We were informed there was 124 children on board who appeared to thoroughly enjoy themselves despite being a predominantly adult environment.

Ship

Considering this journey was relocating the ship to Singapore for a dry-dock refurbishment, we were pleasantly surprised by its overall condition. We were expecting greater wear and tear issues on fixtures and fittings, especially soft furnishings, however, the ship was generally in good condition.

I would take negative ship reviews with a pinch of salt, having cruised with P&O and their competitors previously, P&O provide a reasonable and enjoyable service.

Ship’s Tours: This is one area where we did raise concerns. It is generally accepted that most cruise companies provide tours that, although enjoyable, can be at best described as expensive and at worst, designed to gouge maximum $$$’s from their passengers. What set this trip apart from others is our experience of a couple of destinations:

• Dili, East Timor:

Prior to arrival at Dili, all passengers were informed that irrespective of intent to go ashore, or of their nationality, everyone was to have the Dili visa fee of $30USD ($43:09AUD) added to their account. Apart from being an extortionate exchange rate of 0.696 compare to the actual rate of 0.76 at the time, this does not align with the East Timor visa requirements. I’m unsure if passengers with no intent of going ashore require a visa however, as Europeans many passengers did not. East Timor signed a mutual visa waiver agreement with the European Union on 26/05/2015 permitting all citizens within the Schengen agreement the right to travel through East Timor visa free. Not only did P&O did not recognise this and apply an ‘across the board’ visa fee, when challenged about this, I was simply told it was an agreement between P&O and East Timor and that there was to be no exceptions and no further discussion!

• Komodo Island:

After departure from Brisbane I discovered that by decree of P&O head office, to disembark and enjoy Komodo Island all passengers were required to purchase a ship tour at a cost of $120AUD island only or $180AUD island & Pink Beach. Apart from being extremely expensive, there was no availability for tours combining Komodo Island & Pink Beach which had been sold out prior to departure. I, along with many other passengers had organised independent tours for Komodo Island & Pink Beach before setting sail only to be informed we would not be permitted to go ashore and to further exacerbate the issue, that P&O could not provide the ship tour due to being ‘sold out’. P&O cited ‘safety’ for this ruling despite the fact that independently organised tours employ the same regulated park ranger restrictions as does the P&O tours. Fortunately and against the odds, I was able to obtain two tickets for the P&O Komodo Island & Pink Beach due to a cancellation, albeit at the extortionate cost of $180AUD each, but others were not so fortunate.

Along with other passengers, the company I had engaged to conduct our independent tour of Komodo Island & Pink Beach are a reputable company used by many cruise ship passengers, most recently over 1,000 guests from Osaka and Azamara Cruises on 5th February. This company provided me with an official letter authenticating the tour which was completely disregarded by P&O.

The P&O organised dragon tours all took the medium length route of short, medium or long routes with literally dozens of people simultaneously converging at a staged ‘watering hole’ group of 5 dragons. The rangers did an excellent job but struggled to maintain discipline with so many passengers and crew simultaneously congregated together. The independent tour that I, and others, had organised was to have taken the longer route which would have undoubtedly reduced the converged group sizes and therefore improved individual experiences and at a reduced risk.

It is interesting to note that when ashore, passengers were free to do what they wished with many organising their own 2nd dragon tour on the longer route directly with the park rangers at an additional cost of $32USD (~$43AUD). Pink Beach could also be organised separately while ashore for as little as $5USD each; two ship crew entertainers organised a putt-putt boat for $10USD total and did the same Pink Beach experience that my wife and I had been compelled to pay $60AUD each for. This was a clear and unacceptable case of ‘do as we say, not as we do!’

P&O may be forgiven if their safety restrictions result in a tangible improvement and I was willing to acknowledge this right up to the point when a P&O organised ‘tinny’ tender at Pink Beach drove over a cruise ship female passenger while snorkelling, injuring and cutting her foot. What followed can only be described as a farcical lack of organisation or incident management with the tinny operator first jumping in the water to recover the injured lady’s flipper prior to assisting her partner get the injured lady out of the water. The injured lady was subsequently treated by a fellow passenger before being bizarrely transported back to the main island in the tinny with the operator having to constantly bale out water due to being so low in the water! If safety is the real concern, where is P&O’s concern when disembarking along the northern coast of Australia with exposure to sharks, crocodiles, marine stingers… It is my opinion that this ruling is for pure financial benefit with P&O attempting to extract maximum $$$ from passengers under the guise of safety. Come on P&O, get your act together. Passengers are not stupid, nor can they be bullied to suit your objectives. If safety is the true concern, then demonstrate it!

If you wish to monopolise your destinations then at least provide sufficient tours to enable all passengers to participate and enjoy in their preferred tour at a competitive cost! In the case of Komodo Island, there are more than enough local service providers to manage all passenger tour requirements without having to turn passengers away. Interestingly, our P&O Komodo Island tour was facilitated and escorted by an individual who has to travel 5 hours each way to conduct the tour. It’s clearly obvious that his wages benefits some other community and not the remote Komodo community we visited which was definitely not our preference.

P&O proudly publicise their support of much needed aid to poor communities they visit and I absolutely applaud this effort, but do us all a favour, if the high cost of ship tours includes contributions to local community aid programmes then provide the incremental breakdown of that aid. As passengers, we would like to know what proportion of their ships tours actually ends up as local community aid as opposed to the expansion of P&O profits to assist us to make an informed decision, otherwise we’ll continue to research and preference independent tours. If community aid is not a factor, then note that if the cost of ship tours was competitive to similar independent tours, passengers would stop favouring the independent tours!


garymit's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Sign Up for Price Drop Alerts
Get tomorrow's price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Cabin Review

Cabin Oceanview 5195

My wife and I stayed in cabin 5195 which is a standard oceanview cabin sited at the rearmost starboard side on deck 5. Closet space was OK and our cases stored nicely under the bed.

The cabin was clean and lived up to expectations although was a little ‘tired’ including:

• One bedside draw front was loose;

• Cream coloured masking tape applied to cosmetic damage on a wall;

• The TV stand was clearly made for an old style CRT TV.

Despite this, the cabin was more than acceptable, although I would avoid it and others aft on deck 5 in future due to a noticeable whine from the main propulsion engines which took a couple of days to acclimatise to. Having said that, despite there being a conspicuous vibration in the Plantation restaurant on deck 12 above us, this was pleasingly not apparent in the cabin.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


Previous ReviewNext Review
garymit
1 Reviews Written
9 Helpful Votes
Never Miss a Deal!
Subscribe and Save
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

More P&O Australia Pacific Dawn Reviews





Want to cruise smarter?
Get expert advice, insider tips and more.
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.