1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Pacific Dawn
Third time cruising with PnO, family of four (kids 10 and 12). We just got back from our amazing week on the Dawn, we were blessed with calm seas and great warm sunny weather, with just the odd shower on port villa stop. But that's out our PnO's control and not what you want a review on. Food - 8.5/10 Overall we were very happy with the food on board, catered very well for two travellers with gluten intolerance. Our preference was the waterfront restaurant, both for choice of food and service, pantry only used when activities or shore days restricted our waterfront restaurant option. Pantry is quite crowded at peak times but this shouldn't be a criticism in my opinion as everyone has the choice. Avoid the crowd where possible to enjoy your eating experience. Highlight was the seafood platters in the shell and bones restaurant (extra cost) which was a beautiful and special meal on board. Didn't use the salt grill. Food service - 8/10 Our regular waiter Emerson was great, attentive, prompt, polite and recommended the best items on the menu each night. On one occasion (at an alternate seating) a food request (for one of the kids) was completely ignored, which was frustrating at the time, but solved by a trip to the pantry for another meal. Occasionally the wait for food was slightly longer than we wanted but it was during peak times and just gave us more time to chat about the day past. Entertainment - 9/10 Never once felt like we had nothing to do, in fact we felt unable to do everything we wanted on the program as there was so much to do. Sail away party was great (won free beer!!!), theme nights were great (Bianco, formal, Gatsby), they also had a 'back to school' night which had little interest or participation but that didn't worry us. Ben the cruise director was great. Christian was also particularly good and the rest were professional and entertaining. The shows were good, family enjoyed them however some song and dance shows aren't my thing so I wasn't fussed. Comedy nights were fun. Name that tune in the orient bar was a must and provided great atmosphere with 100+ people singing along to some classics after the music stopped. Cleanliness in general - 7/10 The biggest issue with cleanliness is the pigs who think it's OK to leave plates, cups, rubbish in lifts, hallways, upper decks etc. Whilst it is the done thing to leave it all on tables (cleaned away fairly quick most of the time), it is frustrating to see rubbish and dirty plates around the ship. I understand why there are no bins around but it was frustrating having to leave bottles or cups on tables, when other people want to come and use that space. I often walked used bottles or cups to the bar so to not leave them around. Note to others - don't be the pig and everyone will enjoy a cleaner ship. Rooms - 7/10 We were holidaying on a budget and didn't have a flash room, on level 9 towards the front of the ship. The set out of previous rooms felt bigger, often found we were in each others way when all in the room as it was tight. Only an issue a few times a day when getting ready for dinner etc. Cabin steward was polite and prompt however didn't feel like he went above and beyond like previous cruises. Pillows were shocking is probably my biggest gripe. Mabye we were spoilt previously? In any case we managed and didn't go on the cruise to hang in our cabin so it didn't affect the enjoyment of the week that much. Getting on and off - 9/10 It's a big ship, there's alot of people, often doing the same thing at the same time, expect some waiting in cues. Nothing felt like a major hassle. Well organised and as quick as it could be considering the number of people. Noumea - 5/10 Been there 3 times, like it less each time, expensive, less 'pretty' than other stops, just something about the vibe there that says 'get back on the ship'. If we go again, I'll probably consider not getting off. I would like to see the aquarium but with a 3pm arrival it doesn't leave much time to go there before closing time. Lifou - 9/10 Beautiful location, beautiful people, chilled out shopping in the local markets, great spot to swim and relax with a beer or two. Felt safe the whole time. Love it. Port Vila - 9/10 Have improved the market area, used to be hassled by the locals for day trips as you walked through the markets however now seem to have control on when they can approach you (outside the fence line). Negotiated a good deal for an air-conditioned van for the day $150 for the day for 6 people. Went to blue lagoon (11/10) which is a must, had a village tour (from vehicle) which was interesting, had the option of turtle feeding and waterfalls but choose to head to Vila early and get into the markets before back on ship. Best duty free shop on earth? Is a must. Very enjoyable day even though I've been there 3 times. Overall - 9/10 As long as you remember your on a budget ship, and look at the positives and ignore negatives which are out of the control of PnO you will have a great time. We thoroughly enjoyed our week and the minimal negatives way outweigh the positives. Can't wait to book again we are hooked.

Island hopper - Australia Day 2019

Pacific Dawn Cruise Review by Brent Stiller

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Third time cruising with PnO, family of four (kids 10 and 12).

We just got back from our amazing week on the Dawn, we were blessed with calm seas and great warm sunny weather, with just the odd shower on port villa stop. But that's out our PnO's control and not what you want a review on.

Food - 8.5/10

Overall we were very happy with the food on board, catered very well for two travellers with gluten intolerance. Our preference was the waterfront restaurant, both for choice of food and service, pantry only used when activities or shore days restricted our waterfront restaurant option. Pantry is quite crowded at peak times but this shouldn't be a criticism in my opinion as everyone has the choice. Avoid the crowd where possible to enjoy your eating experience. Highlight was the seafood platters in the shell and bones restaurant (extra cost) which was a beautiful and special meal on board. Didn't use the salt grill.

Food service - 8/10

Our regular waiter Emerson was great, attentive, prompt, polite and recommended the best items on the menu each night. On one occasion (at an alternate seating) a food request (for one of the kids) was completely ignored, which was frustrating at the time, but solved by a trip to the pantry for another meal. Occasionally the wait for food was slightly longer than we wanted but it was during peak times and just gave us more time to chat about the day past.

Entertainment - 9/10

Never once felt like we had nothing to do, in fact we felt unable to do everything we wanted on the program as there was so much to do. Sail away party was great (won free beer!!!), theme nights were great (Bianco, formal, Gatsby), they also had a 'back to school' night which had little interest or participation but that didn't worry us. Ben the cruise director was great. Christian was also particularly good and the rest were professional and entertaining. The shows were good, family enjoyed them however some song and dance shows aren't my thing so I wasn't fussed. Comedy nights were fun. Name that tune in the orient bar was a must and provided great atmosphere with 100+ people singing along to some classics after the music stopped.

Cleanliness in general - 7/10

The biggest issue with cleanliness is the pigs who think it's OK to leave plates, cups, rubbish in lifts, hallways, upper decks etc. Whilst it is the done thing to leave it all on tables (cleaned away fairly quick most of the time), it is frustrating to see rubbish and dirty plates around the ship. I understand why there are no bins around but it was frustrating having to leave bottles or cups on tables, when other people want to come and use that space. I often walked used bottles or cups to the bar so to not leave them around. Note to others - don't be the pig and everyone will enjoy a cleaner ship.

Rooms - 7/10

We were holidaying on a budget and didn't have a flash room, on level 9 towards the front of the ship. The set out of previous rooms felt bigger, often found we were in each others way when all in the room as it was tight. Only an issue a few times a day when getting ready for dinner etc. Cabin steward was polite and prompt however didn't feel like he went above and beyond like previous cruises. Pillows were shocking is probably my biggest gripe. Mabye we were spoilt previously? In any case we managed and didn't go on the cruise to hang in our cabin so it didn't affect the enjoyment of the week that much.

Getting on and off - 9/10

It's a big ship, there's alot of people, often doing the same thing at the same time, expect some waiting in cues. Nothing felt like a major hassle. Well organised and as quick as it could be considering the number of people.

Noumea - 5/10

Been there 3 times, like it less each time, expensive, less 'pretty' than other stops, just something about the vibe there that says 'get back on the ship'. If we go again, I'll probably consider not getting off. I would like to see the aquarium but with a 3pm arrival it doesn't leave much time to go there before closing time.

Lifou - 9/10

Beautiful location, beautiful people, chilled out shopping in the local markets, great spot to swim and relax with a beer or two. Felt safe the whole time. Love it.

Port Vila - 9/10

Have improved the market area, used to be hassled by the locals for day trips as you walked through the markets however now seem to have control on when they can approach you (outside the fence line). Negotiated a good deal for an air-conditioned van for the day $150 for the day for 6 people. Went to blue lagoon (11/10) which is a must, had a village tour (from vehicle) which was interesting, had the option of turtle feeding and waterfalls but choose to head to Vila early and get into the markets before back on ship. Best duty free shop on earth? Is a must. Very enjoyable day even though I've been there 3 times.

Overall - 9/10

As long as you remember your on a budget ship, and look at the positives and ignore negatives which are out of the control of PnO you will have a great time. We thoroughly enjoyed our week and the minimal negatives way outweigh the positives. Can't wait to book again we are hooked.
Brent Stiller’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Ages 10 to 12
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get P&O Australia Pacific Dawn price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email