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Hello All, Having just returned from our first P&O cruise after 6 cruises with carnival - I thought I would share some relevant comparisons that would highlight what each provide and what potential cruisers may find appealling Our family has sailed on Carnival Legend twice and Carnival Spirit 4 times and now on Pacific Explorer last week - all trips to pacific islands for snorkelling as the main event out of Sydney BOARDING - both lines have a smooth and efficient entry to the boat - we have never been delayed in 7 total cruises (always choose the earliest time possible to get lunch on boat - and arrive even earlier at Circular quay as they will let you board in the previous 30 minutes time slot if you dont have the earliest possible). Expect a 20 minute process. If possible book a cruise leaving from Circular Quay as White Bay terminal is a nightmare to get to, especially on day of return when all you want to do is get home fast !! ROOMS - we have always booked a Balcony room. Rooms on Carnival are well designed and include a lounge and desk with chair along with the beds - so reasonable size and comfortable. Room on P&O was alas a broom closet - with no lounge at all and poor use of space so for us with an additional 18 months old cot in the 2m x 2m living space - there was basically no room to live ! Bathroom tiny on P&O - functional on Carnival. Carnival have suitcases fit under all beds - P&O did not ! Toilets notorious for blocking on P&O - ours blocked on 2nd last day (and was fixed in about 8 hours)- Carnival we have never had an issue BALCONY - Carnival have lights on the balcony - whereas putting children to bed at 7 pm - lights out - with one parents staying with our 18 month old and 5 year old - naturally that parent would sit on the balcony reading etc etc - EXCEPT - you may not believe this but the P&O setup had balcony light built right next to curtain runner - BUT THE CURTAIN WAS ON WRONG SIDE OF LIGHT - meaning that the light shone into the room, not onto the Balcony when curtain closed !(rendered our balcony useless after 6 pm - kids were trying to sleep). We asked reception for a portable lamp but they refused our request. P&O actual balcony design is better - there is some shade areas on the side so if sun is out in force - you can sit there all day and find some shade - Carnival it is wider full view but sun blaring means its just too glary and hot at times out there -------------------------------------------- FOOD - the real difference here was one of frustration with P&O - in that they monetise all the great foods that you hope for on a holiday and that kids are looking for. Hamburgers - all paid $7 each on P&O - all free on Carnival. The burgers are both really nice with the Guy Fieri burger (free) slightly better and with more options than the Luke Mangan cafe paid burger. Pizza - 24hours and free on Carnival - rolled in front of you fresh for trad Italian thin crust pizza ready in 10 minutes. Pizza all filtered into specialist restaurant on P&O - $16 each - nice and more restaurant quality but Carnival was the nicer pizza and for free (there is no food after 9 pm on P&O - except small paid cafe) Ice-Cream - 24 hours and free on Carnival - none available on P&O except branded shop NZ Ice cream all paid Restaurants - both very high quality food and cant be faulted - cant separate them - 3 courses and can have anything you want and however much. Specialist restaurant on P&O - Italian - was really lovely. Dinner reservations were easier and better organised on P&O as it was a simple phone call but you did have to book every day - Carnival if you have any time dining you get a pager when you turn up and need to wait usually (but fixed dining you just walk straight in to your table with same waiters). P&O are going for more upper class quiet atmosphere in restaurant - muted lighting - whereas Carnival go for family oriented brighter lighting and have a song and waiters dancing (5 minute intrusion - Im not a fan of the silly carry-on)! Buffets - this is where there is a difference. P&O have gone for a food court, always served by staff approach with seven different stations - quality varied widely - Pantry layout worked very well in that we rarely if ever waited too long - lines were not too long. Stations are 1 Indian 2 Asian 3 Roasts 4 Pasta 5 Mexican 6 Fish and Chips 7 Desert Sugar Bar The Indian was disappointing as I was looking for the classic butter chickens, masalas, kormas and hardly ever had these sort of dishes - just dal after dal and lots of vegetarian naturally. Asian - this was the worst option - Australian want westernised Chinese like your honey chicken, lemon chicken, mongolian lamb, sweet and sour pork - instead this was really old stale boring trad Chinese - nasi goreng, lamb stir fry (hoi sin sauce with wet cabbage sitting in wok for ages with the toughest boot leather lamb ever) - and it rarely ever changed Fish and Chips - fantastic - as good as this can get Mexican - really nice variety and especially the beef dishes with nachos or wraps Pasta - alas really big dry pasta bakes - you would hope for fresh and replenished pasta staples but it really was average quality at best without much choice Roasts - seemed quite good - irish stew, hams, leg of lamb with a few veggies Desert Bar - the most disappointing of all - you really better like light cream cakes - they were nice but repeated every day ad nauseum - saw the Butterscotch cream cake 5 days in a row. We were hoping for some mousse, eclairs, donuts, slices, ice-cream, mud cakes, tarts, cookies but it was all so similar Ice Cream - none - see above - monetised Carnival buffet is different - self serve and served by staff - a lot more variety with multi dishes at many stations - but also some really average stuff but really delicious stuff - so I found Carnival winning in end because I could find really great things amongst stuff I didnt like but with P&O - quality was as described above and variety wasnt there Seating - could not find a seat at lunch time on P&O a number of times - so seating was inadequate - also happens a little on carnival but apart from first day - could always find a booth - overall same for both lines. --------------------------------------- SHOWS - Carnival have a 3 tiered theatre so that you can walk in with 1 minute to go and find a seat no problem. P&O have a 1 level theatre with massive seating issues - 2 times out of 4 I had to walk out as there was not 1 seat left. On last night - our children loved the Rock concert 2 nights previous - we intended to go back for the 90's pop concert - wetn early to get an aisle seat with an 18 month old - instead - we found 3 seats in the mobility seating - were told to move - and there were 80 people standing at back aisles on each side - there were simply not enough seats. I had to leave with my family arguing and staying in the back row - awful experience. P&O musicians superior to Carnival - rock concert they had a live band as well as the singers - and the musicians and mixing were superb - incredibly good - where Carnival show is more cabaret and still OK - but P&O better in terms of their musicians throughout the whole ship --------------------------------------- TENDERS Both lines do them pretty well -with P&O seeming to be better organised and not as rushed ---------------------------------------- SHIP LAYOUT - I absolutely love the top deck round lounges (pods) with cover and privacy - on Carnival boats - they would be the spot I spend the most hours in. Pillows - ocean views - wind protected - lounges angled so they are private - perfection ! Much to my chagrin I found the P&O boats had nothing to cater - simply nothing. Every single deck chair was turned facing inwards towards the pool / middle of boat squashed in like sardines and the two glass angled panels and framework blocked view to the ocean really badly. Generally P&O boat was cramped and no where near enough chairs - whereas Carnival I could name 4 or 5 reading spots or quiet spots where I loved to sit - indoors and out. The bigger boat pays off with this sort of stuff. Just not a lot to do on P&O - no basketball court, no soccer court, no running track, hardly any standup comedy - adult area was really lame and small on P&O. Bowls was complete waste of time because the ships movement meant the bowls did not track with curve - and space was too narrow - so no one ever played it. Elevators were a slow nightmare on P&O - much quicker and more of them on Carnival. With a pram, we waited for endless minutes as elevators did not come or were filled (ended up carrying the whole pram up 4 levels up stairs after standing for over 10 minutes after safety drill) OVERALL - we will not be cruising with P&O again - Carnival from now on. It really depends on what you are looking for but we found P&O signicantly inferior in many areas that affected the quality of the holiday.

Carnival vs P&O - a current comparison

Pacific Explorer Cruise Review by steve_y

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Hello All,

Having just returned from our first P&O cruise after 6 cruises with carnival - I thought I would share some relevant

comparisons that would highlight what each provide and what potential cruisers may find appealling

Our family has sailed on Carnival Legend twice and Carnival Spirit 4 times and now on Pacific Explorer last week - all trips to pacific islands for snorkelling as the main event out of Sydney

BOARDING - both lines have a smooth and efficient entry to the boat - we have never been delayed in 7 total cruises (always choose the earliest time possible to get lunch on boat - and arrive even earlier at Circular quay as they will let you board in the previous 30 minutes time slot if you dont have the earliest possible). Expect a 20 minute process. If possible book a cruise leaving from Circular Quay as White Bay terminal is a nightmare to get to, especially on day of return when all you want to do is get home fast !!

ROOMS - we have always booked a Balcony room. Rooms on Carnival are well designed and include a lounge and desk with chair along with the beds - so reasonable size and comfortable. Room on P&O was alas a broom closet - with no lounge at all and poor use of space so for us with an additional 18 months old cot in the 2m x 2m living space - there was basically no room to live ! Bathroom tiny on P&O - functional on Carnival.

Carnival have suitcases fit under all beds - P&O did not !

Toilets notorious for blocking on P&O - ours blocked on 2nd last day (and was fixed in about 8 hours)- Carnival we have never had an issue

BALCONY - Carnival have lights on the balcony - whereas putting children to bed at 7 pm - lights out - with one parents staying with our 18 month old and 5 year old - naturally that parent would sit on the balcony reading etc etc - EXCEPT - you may not believe this but the P&O setup had balcony light built right next to curtain runner - BUT THE CURTAIN WAS ON WRONG SIDE OF LIGHT - meaning that the light shone into the room, not onto the Balcony when curtain closed !(rendered our balcony useless after 6 pm - kids were trying to sleep). We asked reception for a portable lamp but they refused our request.

P&O actual balcony design is better - there is some shade areas on the side so if sun is out in force - you can sit there all day and find some shade - Carnival it is wider full view but sun blaring means its just too glary and hot at times out there

--------------------------------------------

FOOD - the real difference here was one of frustration with P&O - in that they monetise all the great foods that you hope for on a holiday and that kids are looking for.

Hamburgers - all paid $7 each on P&O - all free on Carnival. The burgers are both really nice with the Guy Fieri burger (free) slightly better and with more options than the Luke Mangan cafe paid burger.

Pizza - 24hours and free on Carnival - rolled in front of you fresh for trad Italian thin crust pizza ready in 10 minutes. Pizza all filtered into specialist restaurant on P&O - $16 each - nice and more restaurant quality but Carnival was the nicer pizza and for free (there is no food after 9 pm on P&O - except small paid cafe)

Ice-Cream - 24 hours and free on Carnival - none available on P&O except branded shop NZ Ice cream all paid

Restaurants - both very high quality food and cant be faulted - cant separate them - 3 courses and can have anything you want and however much. Specialist restaurant on P&O - Italian - was really lovely. Dinner reservations were easier and better organised on P&O as it was a simple phone call but you did have to book every day - Carnival if you have any time dining you get a pager when you turn up and need to wait usually (but fixed dining you just walk straight in to your table with same waiters). P&O are going for more upper class quiet atmosphere in restaurant - muted lighting - whereas Carnival go for family oriented brighter lighting and have a song and waiters dancing (5 minute intrusion - Im not a fan of the silly carry-on)!

Buffets - this is where there is a difference. P&O have gone for a food court, always served by staff approach with seven different stations - quality varied widely - Pantry layout worked very well in that we rarely if ever waited too long - lines were not too long.

Stations are 1 Indian 2 Asian 3 Roasts 4 Pasta 5 Mexican 6 Fish and Chips 7 Desert Sugar Bar

The Indian was disappointing as I was looking for the classic butter chickens, masalas, kormas and hardly ever had these sort of dishes - just dal after dal and lots of vegetarian naturally.

Asian - this was the worst option - Australian want westernised Chinese like your honey chicken, lemon chicken, mongolian lamb, sweet and sour pork - instead this was really old stale boring trad Chinese - nasi goreng, lamb stir fry (hoi sin sauce with wet cabbage sitting in wok for ages with the toughest boot leather lamb ever) - and it rarely ever changed

Fish and Chips - fantastic - as good as this can get

Mexican - really nice variety and especially the beef dishes with nachos or wraps

Pasta - alas really big dry pasta bakes - you would hope for fresh and replenished pasta staples but it really was average quality at best without much choice

Roasts - seemed quite good - irish stew, hams, leg of lamb with a few veggies

Desert Bar - the most disappointing of all - you really better like light cream cakes - they were nice but repeated every day ad nauseum - saw the Butterscotch cream cake 5 days in a row. We were hoping for some mousse, eclairs, donuts, slices, ice-cream, mud cakes, tarts, cookies but it was all so similar

Ice Cream - none - see above - monetised

Carnival buffet is different - self serve and served by staff - a lot more variety with multi dishes at many stations - but also some really average stuff but really delicious stuff - so I found Carnival winning in end because I could find really great things amongst stuff I didnt like but with P&O - quality was as described above and variety wasnt there

Seating - could not find a seat at lunch time on P&O a number of times - so seating was inadequate - also happens a little on carnival but apart from first day - could always find a booth - overall same for both lines.

---------------------------------------

SHOWS - Carnival have a 3 tiered theatre so that you can walk in with 1 minute to go and find a seat no problem. P&O have a 1 level theatre with massive seating issues - 2 times out of 4 I had to walk out as there was not 1 seat left. On last night - our children loved the Rock concert 2 nights previous - we intended to go back for the 90's pop concert - wetn early to get an aisle seat with an 18 month old - instead - we found 3 seats in the mobility seating - were told to move - and there were 80 people standing at back aisles on each side - there were simply not enough seats. I had to leave with my family arguing and staying in the back row - awful experience.

P&O musicians superior to Carnival - rock concert they had a live band as well as the singers - and the musicians and mixing were superb - incredibly good - where Carnival show is more cabaret and still OK - but P&O better in terms of their musicians throughout the whole ship

---------------------------------------

TENDERS

Both lines do them pretty well -with P&O seeming to be better organised and not as rushed

----------------------------------------

SHIP LAYOUT - I absolutely love the top deck round lounges (pods) with cover and privacy - on Carnival boats - they would be the spot I spend the most hours in. Pillows - ocean views - wind protected - lounges angled so they are private - perfection ! Much to my chagrin I found the P&O boats had nothing to cater - simply nothing. Every single deck chair was turned facing inwards towards the pool / middle of boat squashed in like sardines and the two glass angled panels and framework blocked view to the ocean really badly.

Generally P&O boat was cramped and no where near enough chairs - whereas Carnival I could name 4 or 5 reading spots or quiet spots where I loved to sit - indoors and out. The bigger boat pays off with this sort of stuff. Just not a lot to do on P&O - no basketball court, no soccer court, no running track, hardly any standup comedy - adult area was really lame and small on P&O. Bowls was complete waste of time because the ships movement meant the bowls did not track with curve - and space was too narrow - so no one ever played it.

Elevators were a slow nightmare on P&O - much quicker and more of them on Carnival. With a pram, we waited for endless minutes as elevators did not come or were filled (ended up carrying the whole pram up 4 levels up stairs after standing for over 10 minutes after safety drill)


OVERALL - we will not be cruising with P&O again - Carnival from now on. It really depends on what you are looking for but we found P&O signicantly inferior in many areas that affected the quality of the holiday.
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