We did the Eden cruise departing Cairns on 27 July to New Guinea. We are sorry that P&O has sold this ship on, as we found it to be a delightful, smaller ship. We hope her sister ship, Pacific Aria, will be as good when we sail on her in the future.
The ship had a lovely "happy" feel to it - the staff all seemed to be genuinely happy. (This is in contrast to our last cruise on Golden Princess! It did not have a good feel at all).
I was a little concerned about what to expect, having heard that P&O had bought her from Holland America line and the ship's age. No need to have worried - we just loved this ship. (We are disenchanted Princess cruisers and this ship has restored our love of cruising).
It has a fairly stylish decor (as opposed to the fairly garish one of Pacific Dawn). The fixtures and fittings are great and we just loved the layout. It has so many little bars/relaxing areas tucked away. This makes for being able to sit and relax with a drink, without crowds in large areas. Great coffee is also available at these areas, so no need to wait 20 mins at the ice cream area for coffee (as on a previous review). It also had a "quiet room" where we enjoyed being able to sit quietly and read.
Each night there are different musicians in the above bar areas. If you have a favourite area, you can just stay put there, as the musicians all move around during the evening. We found the quality of the music excellent although a little too loud at times. There were 3 theme nights and it was great to see so many people dressing up for the them.
The crew-provided entertainment was very good - particularly choosing the best "towel animals" and the music trivia "play". The Entertainment Director was excellent - the best we've had on any cruise.
We had a fairly calm cruise but unfortunately on the morning of our arrival at Kitava Island, the wind had come up and it was too strong to put the tenders out. We did a local tour of Alotau which we organised ourselves and found this excellent. We also took donations for the children (as we had read on prior reviews) such as band aids, pens, pencils etc. so we were a bit sad to have missed Kitava for this purpose. You can barter for some of the baskets and wood products on Kiriwina (& Kitava if you get there) Islands but if you go to Conflict Island (which we did love) there is no bartering and the prices are higher.
We had hoped to try the Flying Fox with Edge, but unfortunately it was too windy for that.
Food: I too would suggest booking at Waterfront at 6.15 or 6.30 pm so you can go to 7 pm shows. Food there was excellent and the waiters great. We were thrilled to be able to get a table for "two only" whenever we wanted without "grumbling" from wait staff (again on recent Princess cruises).
Food at The Pantry had a good selection, although we did have the usually heard grumble that it needed to be hotter. Our (second) visit to Salt Grill was excellent. We will do that again!! We didn't go to Dragon Lady but friends did and they enjoyed. We went to Angelo's on our last night and were disappointed. I have to say I think there was something drastically wrong that night as the waiters and the atmosphere was not good. I suspect this may have been a one-off, and we will give them another try in the future.
We did a shore excursion at Conflict Island on a glass bottom boat. I have to say I was very disappointed with this. We were in the queue well before the appointed time but our group of four were the last aboard. They obviously over-booked this session as the last two people really couldn't see much at all as they were sitting too far out from the viewing window. We did enjoy the commentary from both a marine biologist and a native gentleman giving us the history of the island. If you are doing this excursion, make sure you get at the front of the queue.
Our cabin was lovely. Certainly the Holland America style was evident with the cupboard layouts, quality of the lounge, basin top etc. As always with cruises, lovely and clean. Also seemed larger than previous balcony cabins on Princess cruises. The one thing I loved was having a (spa) bath which apparently all cabins on this ship have except for the interior ones. Lovely to be able to have a relaxing bath on a floating ship. There are plenty of grab handles for getting in and out to access the overhead shower, if needed. It was wonderful not to have to squeeze into the very small shower recesses on Princess ships and trying to avoid water going all over the floor.
My one and only main gripe was the quality of the shampoo/conditioner in the shower. This really is below standard and I will take my own in future cruises.
Our steward (Ernesto) was wonderful - anything requested was organised/fixed soon after. For example we had a problem with the plug in our bath and a mechanic was there that afternoon fixing it.
As said previously, loved the Conflict Islands but the excursion on the glass bottom boat was a huge disappointment. Feedback to P&O since then, has not even rated a "thank you for letting us know" email.
Was great to be able to swim straight from the water's edge and see coral. (We didn't have (or choose to hire) snorkel gear, but just loved the freedom of this.
Was impressed with Ian Gowrie-Smith is trying to do on the island but the goods for sale by the natives were far more expensive than on the other island. Also saw and appreciated what he is doing with raising the turtles until they are larger and able to be let free and hopefully survive.
Missed one island due to bad weather but enjoyed the one we went to.
We had been recommended to do this tour by friends and it was excellent. See www.loihai.com for the different options. We were asked to bring donations that could be given to the school children (which we did) eg. Band Aids, Betadine, tooth brushes etc. and they were most happily accepted.View All undefined undefined Reviews