I have only been on premium cruise lines and had never considered the local P&O line but wanted to experience a few days away with my daughter and two grandsons at a reasonable price. It was with much excitement that my boys first saw the ship and the excitement continued for the entire cruise!
Yes, I've been on nicer ships with better food and more spectacular decor but guess what... we had a great time. We booked a mini suite so that we could all be in the same room with a balcony and it was a perfect size. Sure the bathroom could do with a revamp and if you looked closely much needed upgrading but we simply didn't care.
- We loved all the food we had, I can't remember one thing that I didn't like. We only ate at the Waterfront Restaurant and the Pantry. We had breakfast at both places but preferred the Waterfront as it was much more relaxed.
- The kids clubs were fantastic. Turtle Cove for my 5 year old and HQ for my nearly 12 year old worked out perfectly and we hardly saw the kids they loved it that much.
- The drinks were a reasonable price and we could easily buy a bottle of wine and take it back to our room - or take the unfinished bottle from dinner. The wine glasses supplied were gorgeous and much nicer than the more expensive cruises I've been on.
- The Gatsby night was simply fantastic. So many people dressed up. Much, much more fun than those stuffy "formal" nights on cruise ships and P&O are on to a winner with this theme.
- Photographs. A few photos were taken around the ship and then we had some more formal ones taken on the Gatsby night. The lady taking these was lovely and the photos turned out exceptionally well. We were absolutely blown away by these.
- There was a sewerage smell at the back of the ship, nothing too bad and it didn't affect us but not sure how that would be on a much longer cruise.
- The Pantry restaurant was incredibly busy with long queues at times and it was hard to get a table for the four of us. You'd have to secure one and sit there while others got there food which meant that none of us actually ate together and someone was always off getting food. The food was great though and one day we just took our plates back to our room (which was directly under the restaurant) and ate it on our balcony. Certainly going to the Pantry once the main crowd had gone is a better idea!
- Disembarkation. We were told to go to the Casino but no one came to tell us where to go. There were lots of people sitting around waiting and finally a barman said that all the staff had left! So much for priority disembarkation - we all had to queue up with everyone else.
- Muster Drill. This was an absolute disaster. It was set for 3.30 pm and sail away was 4 pm. By 4.10 pm we still hadn't had our drill, we'd all been sitting at our muster station waiting for goodness knows what. We all missed sail away due to this and I for one was extremely unhappy! I love being up on top for sail away, waving goodbye etc. Very badly organised and I hope this is not a normal thing of P&O.
- Noise from above the cabin. We were directly under the Grill which was open until late at night which made getting to sleep difficult.
To sum up the, yes the Pacific Jewel is a little old and tired. Yes, it's in a different league to the new flash ships but what it lacked in appearance it more than made up for with friendly service, prompt attention to any problems, reasonable cost, and overall family friendly cruising.
Our cabin was perfect for two adults and two children (who shared a fold away bed). The only downside was noise from above late at night. Trollies rolling over, loud footsteps etc. The Grill is right above and that is the only late night food venue. It wasn't too bad and if you were late to bed you wouldn't notice it (noise stopped around 11.30 pm).