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We have cruised many times on various cruise lines including the Costa, Carnival, Celebrity, NCL and HAL almost always in a suite or penthouse product. This was our first time on a P and O. To be honest we have previously avoided cruising out of Brisbane even though we live nearby in Noosa. We read the negative reviews about this ship and expected the worst but instead found it really great value for our cruise on the Aria to Noumea, Mare and Port Villa. I encourage you not to believe the other negative reviews about this ship. I will tell you why. The refurb is fantastic. The public areas are clean and have sophisticated decor. The ship is an old HAL ship and the layout is a smaller version of the Noordam. Yes the ship is worn in a few places like some of the chair arms and bath tubs, but if you think that is horrible and will ruin your cruise, then really what are you doing here anyway? The staff on board were all happy, friendly and helpful. We have been on ships where the staff don't smile and are worn out and show it. (Like the Celebrity Millennium where the staff were rude and our room wasn't cleaned upon arrival, during the cruise and we could write our names and play naughts and crosses on the dirt and grease on the glass coffee table!) For this cruise we decided to try the suite category at $2200 each including the drinks package. It was worth every cent! We were welcomed aboard with a complimentary bottle of champagne and fresh fruit bowl. Our room was spacious and the attendants Mannix and Jayson were friendly, approachable and fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble. If you ask, they unpack for you but we normally do that ourselves. Like the rest of the ship the room was spotless. The extra large balcony was perfect for us as we sometimes get a little freaked out by the heights of bigger ships but on the Aria the huge space enabled us to feel safe. There were two sun lounges and a table for four so it too was spacious. We ate our room service breakfast (free for suite guests) every morning enjoying the spectacular views. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that except for snacks like peanuts etc and drinks the rest of the room service menu is free for suite guests. After a day onshore pjs, room service and movie is perfect. This cruise was incredible value for money in the suite category especially when compared to other cruise lines. The only thing missing was a proper butler and concierge. Having said that, the main reception and shore tours desks were never crowded when we went there. Our room attendants were just as good as a butler anyway. We really wanted to review the food here. By comparison to HAL and Carnival the food was better. If you can't find several nice things to eat on this ship you must be too well done for. The Pantry offers wonderful, plentiful options and the food was suitably hot. This concept of being served the food is fantastic. On other ships where the food is self served in this casual eating option, we always have the fear of everyone else who isn't hygienic touching the utensils. Not on this ship! Other reviews have commented on dessert being 'mass' produced. Seriously with 1200 guests and 600 crew any food offering is mass produced! The desserts on board were on par with every other ship we have cruised with including the penthouse products on the NCL. We weren't impressed with Salt as much as we thought we would be. The custard dessert was exactly the same as the Pantry and The Waterfront Brûlée custard and the Agnolotti was greasy. Angelos was, however, spectacular and Dragonlady wonderful too. The food on board was the same standard as all of the complimentary eating areas we have had on the other ships we have been on. Overall this cruise was excellent value for money. Let's add it up. Clean stylish accomodations, spa bath, robes, slippers, welcome champagne, fruit, afternoon canapés and complimentary wine and soft drink when served, free laundry, free room service, free drinks, complimentary high tea in your suite, Nespresso coffee machine, priority disembarkation and embarkation and it results in a value for money for product. The destinations were great but as we got to Noumea late the shore excursions were cancelled. Of course there were disgruntled passengers however most agreed it was a good excuse to come back again! We came on this cruise to give it a go. It was a nice smooth cruise. If you are use to superior ships like NCL and Celebrity suite categories of course the amenities on the Aria suite aren't as luxurious. But it is a third of the cost, and given that, this is a great price, great product, and great destinations. Great cruise!

Affordable Luxury

Pacific Aria Cruise Review by Ja and Ma

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We have cruised many times on various cruise lines including the Costa, Carnival, Celebrity, NCL and HAL almost always in a suite or penthouse product. This was our first time on a P and O. To be honest we have previously avoided cruising out of Brisbane even though we live nearby in Noosa. We read the negative reviews about this ship and expected the worst but instead found it really great value for our cruise on the Aria to Noumea, Mare and Port Villa. I encourage you not to believe the other negative reviews about this ship. I will tell you why. The refurb is fantastic. The public areas are clean and have sophisticated decor. The ship is an old HAL ship and the layout is a smaller version of the Noordam. Yes the ship is worn in a few places like some of the chair arms and bath tubs, but if you think that is horrible and will ruin your cruise, then really what are you doing here anyway? The staff on board were all happy, friendly and helpful. We have been on ships where the staff don't smile and are worn out and show it. (Like the Celebrity Millennium where the staff were rude and our room wasn't cleaned upon arrival, during the cruise and we could write our names and play naughts and crosses on the dirt and grease on the glass coffee table!) For this cruise we decided to try the suite category at $2200 each including the drinks package. It was worth every cent! We were welcomed aboard with a complimentary bottle of champagne and fresh fruit bowl. Our room was spacious and the attendants Mannix and Jayson were friendly, approachable and fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble. If you ask, they unpack for you but we normally do that ourselves. Like the rest of the ship the room was spotless. The extra large balcony was perfect for us as we sometimes get a little freaked out by the heights of bigger ships but on the Aria the huge space enabled us to feel safe. There were two sun lounges and a table for four so it too was spacious. We ate our room service breakfast (free for suite guests) every morning enjoying the spectacular views. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that except for snacks like peanuts etc and drinks the rest of the room service menu is free for suite guests. After a day onshore pjs, room service and movie is perfect. This cruise was incredible value for money in the suite category especially when compared to other cruise lines. The only thing missing was a proper butler and concierge. Having said that, the main reception and shore tours desks were never crowded when we went there. Our room attendants were just as good as a butler anyway. We really wanted to review the food here. By comparison to HAL and Carnival the food was better. If you can't find several nice things to eat on this ship you must be too well done for. The Pantry offers wonderful, plentiful options and the food was suitably hot. This concept of being served the food is fantastic. On other ships where the food is self served in this casual eating option, we always have the fear of everyone else who isn't hygienic touching the utensils. Not on this ship! Other reviews have commented on dessert being 'mass' produced. Seriously with 1200 guests and 600 crew any food offering is mass produced! The desserts on board were on par with every other ship we have cruised with including the penthouse products on the NCL. We weren't impressed with Salt as much as we thought we would be. The custard dessert was exactly the same as the Pantry and The Waterfront Brûlée custard and the Agnolotti was greasy. Angelos was, however, spectacular and Dragonlady wonderful too. The food on board was the same standard as all of the complimentary eating areas we have had on the other ships we have been on. Overall this cruise was excellent value for money. Let's add it up. Clean stylish accomodations, spa bath, robes, slippers, welcome champagne, fruit, afternoon canapés and complimentary wine and soft drink when served, free laundry, free room service, free drinks, complimentary high tea in your suite, Nespresso coffee machine, priority disembarkation and embarkation and it results in a value for money for product. The destinations were great but as we got to Noumea late the shore excursions were cancelled. Of course there were disgruntled passengers however most agreed it was a good excuse to come back again! We came on this cruise to give it a go. It was a nice smooth cruise. If you are use to superior ships like NCL and Celebrity suite categories of course the amenities on the Aria suite aren't as luxurious. But it is a third of the cost, and given that, this is a great price, great product, and great destinations. Great cruise!
Ja and Ma’s Full Rating Summary
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