We did this cruise to compare the two cruise lines with the idea of a multi generational family holiday. We have cruised several times with different companies.
Usually we exit Sydney - this time with P&O out of Brisbane. There is nothing as beautiful as Sydney Harbour on a cruise regardless of the ship. Everyone should try it at least once.
Similar size ships Pacific Dawn and Sun Princess. Pacific Dawns refurbishment is really good and puts it a step above Sun Princess - particularly for young families. The Water Park, water slides and kids clubs look great. Only one pool on Dawn dominated by kids. Great poolside furniture on Dawn but starting to break and not being repaired. Sun princess furniture in better repair but not as many options. More quiet locations for adults on Sun Princess. Movies under the stars better with Princess - I love their warm blankets and pop corn. Shows were better produced with Princess however all public areas were far better with P&O - the refurbishment shows strongly here.
Cabins were similar in size but Princess balconies seemed larger and worked better due to the sliding door. I like to leave the door open at night to get fresh air. P&Os wardrobe is better set up but both balcony cabins had equal and plenty of storage. Bathrooms were comparable however Princess gives you more toiletries. Linen is far, far better on Princess so if you like crisp white linens you will be disappointed with P&Os offer. I would have put them in the rag bag for cleaning use to be honest. Princess has a top sheet but none on P&O despite asking for it to be put on. Cabin cleanliness was comparable however I did step on broken glass, quite a large piece, left over from a previous user, in the P&O cabin. Luckily I was wearing shoes. Only received one cabin turn down service with P&O. Princess was efficient every night with chocolates on the pillow.
Staff were, without doubt, better trained and more efficient on Princess. This goes across the board from dining room to casino attendants. I had to go to the bar each time for a drink this would have never happened on Princess. Actually maybe P&O don’t have roving waiters? I’m not so sure now.
Food - poor quality and variety on P&O whereas Princess has always been outstanding. I found that the food choices that kids would want around the pool like chips, hot dogs and burgers and ice cream were an extra cost on P&O whereas Princess this is all included. This is a significant issue where I think P&O has dropped the ball and is taking advantage of their cruisers. Food choices in The Pantry were the same for three days running. I wouldn’t like to do a longer cruise with P & O for this reason. Princess food was fresher, more variety and overall just so much better. Their bread and cakes are simply outstanding.
So the wash up
P &O Public areas are much better particularly night club areas
Princess cabins are better
P&O for families - much more variety for the kids
Princess for food - wins easily across the board in all areas
Princess for older families 15+ and couples
Entertainment better on Princess
Staff on Princess win hands down.
Princess better value to me. Families watch out for all the extras that P&O don’t include.
I hope this helps. I will cruise again with P&O when taking my grand kids but will choose Princess for couples cruising.