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Pacific Aria Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
314 Reviews

P&O Aust dropping of standards

Pacific Aria Cruise Review by hilifta

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Mar 2019
  • Destination: the South Pacific

P&O Australia have really dropped the ball on their service standards.

We have recently returned from a cruise to Papua New Guinea, from Brisbane, return to Brisbane. Then stayed on the for the 4 night crossing to Auckland where she will be based until August, This was marketed as a Comedy Cruise.

Whilst the ship was very good and appeared in good condition we did have a plumbing issues in our cabin, outside on deck 4.

The cabin was very nice and well planned with a 3 seat settee, plus a chair, but no fridge or kettle were provided. The shower is over a tub with very high sides. Could be an issue for those with mobility problems. It is too short for an adult to sit in, you'd have your knees up under you chin.

There was very good storage and hanging areas.

The former library in HAL days has been converted to the Blue Room bar. It is very nice indeed, but personally I miss the library. The library now consists of a small bookshelf on wheels, wheeled out each day in the Atrium. Given that the target market spend most of their time on cellphones this is probably understandable.

The main area of disappointment is in the food and service areas, particularly in what is now known as the pantry, previously the buffet.

Firstly the staff has been considerably reduced and the very competent Filipinos have been replaced by others, mostly Indian and Sri Lankan. .They are no where near as enthusiastic and helpful, and often they are quite surly. I must stress, the Vanuatuan staff are great, as usual. Tables take forever to be cleared, and then usually they are not even wiped clean, just a brush with a napkin to flick the crumbs on to the floor. This did improve near the end of the cruise, but was still not good.

On the morning we arrived back in Brisbane my wife and I were in the pantry area before it was opened and you could clearly sea dirty tables, and goodness know when the carpet was last vacuumed. Given this was before most people has risen and after what I would have thought was nightime cleaning, I was very surprised indeed at the situation.

There is also no one ensuring hands are sanitised prior to eating, first time I have never seen this on a cruise.

As for the food, well cost cutting is very evident here. The pantry is no longer self service, the reason given was health related due to people coughing and touching food etc, and this I can understand. But I am sure the saving in food wastage must be huge also. It was noted how skimpy servings were. And if more was requested, the feeling was it was resented.

Fish and chip section was great, except the fish I am sure, was the very cheap and nasty Bassa, and in very small portions. The roast section was great, and was my favourite. Why though, and this was something we heard a lot of people complain about, was why, on a ship marketed to Aussies and Kiwis, was there a Mexican and Indian section available every day, and yet our favourites of meat pies, burgers and pizzas were only available on a counter on the pool deck and had to paid extra for. And no sausage rolls or cornish pasties at all. This makes no sense whatsoever considering the market..

At breakfast there was no cold fish, salmon, kippers, herring etc, no porridge, and worst of all, and a major irritant for me, no freshly made omelets, only some revolting ones cooked on a large tray, not flipped, and cut into squares that tasted nothing like an omelet.

On the sandwich bar, they were all ready made, you could not make up your own choice. There was only one type of cold meat available. And the rolls, sandwiches were full of mayo...yuk.

There was no afternoon tea provided and If you returned late from ashore there was nothing at all to eat.

In the main Waterfront dining room, any steaks were extra cost!!!. Beef Wellington $31, Eye filet, $36. Never ever seen this before. Lobster as an extra I can understand, but steak !!. A flank steak was offered, 3 very thin slices.

In the two other free restaurants, Angelos, and the Asian, they were great, and we rotated our dining areas each night. Sometimes though, again, portions could be very small. But lovely ambiance.

Servings generally, were very small everywhere, and for the first time on a cruise, I went up to the pantry for extra's on two occasions, as I was still hungry !.

All in all there was very strong smell of cost cutting in all areas.

Given we have not cruised with P&O Aust since 2014, this was our 6th cruise with them, the changes were very noticeable, No meetings for singles, LGBT etc, no meetings with Dr. Bill (The AA's), In fact not even a Sunday service, (I would stress none of these are my cup of tea !), But surprising never the less..

Thankfully, no art auctions either. That was a bonus !.

But everywhere was the hard sell for Elemis beauty deals, it drove me mad.

And why cannot a decent coffee, which is extra cost, be served in a decent cup and not a paper cup. (P&O claim they are Eco friendly)

There is now loud music everywhere, the worst being around the pool deck in the afternoons. I don't mind music at all, but all does it all have to be so loud. I much prefer the softer music in her previous HAL days.

I appreciate that P&O are aiming for a younger market, but the lowering of the dress standards in the evening dining areas was a bit much. Since when did thongs, singlet, stubbies, or thongs, beach shorts, t-shirt and beanie constitute "smart casual". Or thongs, sox, dirty tracky daks, t-shirt and beanie. The most outrageaus being a female in her 20's, wearing jeans with a bib, and being naked from the waist up, except for the bib !!. None of these were questioned or turned away in the dining room.

That is just low life and not what we come to expect on a cruise.

Sorry P&O Aust, you have lost us, the ship is lovely, the ship size is spot on, entertainment good, ports were great, cabin service superb, tenders crews, as usual top class, but as for the rest, ....NAH....I think it is Princess, HAL or CMV for us from now on.

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Cabin Review

Cabin OE 4211

Very good, well set out. Nice 3 seat settee, plus a chair. Plenty of hanging space and drawer. Shower over tub, very high sided. Wife found this hard to get over with a metal hip.

Did have plumbing problems, no hot water until after 9am on 6 days.

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