If ever they decide to rename ‘Pacific Dawn’, we’d suggest ‘Pacific Noise’ as appropriate. This would have to be the noisiest cruise we’ve ever experienced, largely thanks to the 300 kids allegedly on board (I don’t know ... Read More
If ever they decide to rename ‘Pacific Dawn’, we’d suggest ‘Pacific Noise’ as appropriate. This would have to be the noisiest cruise we’ve ever experienced, largely thanks to the 300 kids allegedly on board (I don’t know where our informant got this figure, but it certainly seemed about right). Running, jumping, scampering, bawling, chattering, yelling kids – I overheard one passenger remark, ‘You can’t get away from them!’ That’s not quite true – you can escape to the ‘Oasis’ at the back of the ship (adults only, but only after 11 am, and ‘best of luck’ getting somewhere to perch).
Why aren’t these kids at school? And why isn’t P&O ‘brought up before the magistrates’ for aiding and abetting truancy and undermining the compulsory clauses of the Education Act? Well, who am I kidding? It’s all a bit of a laugh, really. Laws (much less simple rules) don’t count for much in this ego-driven society of ours.
There’s an upside to every downside, of course. The Pacific Dawn is a rather downmarket ‘family ship’, but we also find it (this is our 4th cruise on the Dawn) heaps friendlier than other, more upmarket, ‘sardines under the nostrils’ lines like Princess. This applies to both passengers and staff. Most passengers are out for a good time, not to demonstrate some kind of superiority, and most are consistently friendly. For friendly cheerfulness, the staff cannot be faulted. Our cabin steward – Ronnie – was a good example and, as a bonus, he was also easy on the eye!
We were quite annoyed to be frozen out of the Waterfront restaurant. Bookings for this are made on-board (not on-line) on the first day, and evidently it was booked out from the start (at least in the earlier time slots). We rang each day and were told each time that they could fit us in around 8 pm, which didn’t suit at all. You could always go there in an earlier time slot and hope for a cancellation, but we weren’t too interested in getting into our glad rags only to be turned away. So we ate each night in The Pantry.
But the food in The Pantry was quite good. There were large roasts with all the trimmings, tasty curries, a good variety of salads, fish’n’chips with varied fish (not just that disgusting Vietnamese catfish giving itself airs as ‘Basa’ (and other main course seafoods such as mussels), Mexican dishes (didn’t try), varied and tasty pasta dishes, Asian dishes (see below!) and, of course, desserts. I ‘spose the desserts are passable, though they are nothing like those on Princess ships (and they did occasionally bring to mind , the awful desserts we once experienced on the old and unlamented Legend of the Seas). The Asian dishes were ordinary: I had sweet and sour pork on the first day and it was certainly the worst I’ve ever tasted. Talk about dumbed down!! Come off it, Pacific Dawn, if you can’t manage a simple, very wellknown Asian dish like this, go back to chef-school!!
People love to complain about the food, even when it’s OK or good, and I think I understand why. Simply, it’s because on cruise ships we adopt different eating habits to those at home i.e. we eat far too much. At home, I eat light meals – on a ship, with its inviting array of foods, I can’t resist putting too much on my plate at every meal, and by the end of the cruise I find myself saying ‘This food isn’t much good at all, I can’t eat it’. The moral? Don’t overeat, or otherwise change your eating habits!!!
Staff rostering in the pantry could be better. It often seemed that there were not enough staff clearing tables, and this was especially so on the day of the visit to Vila. That night, The Pantry was hugely crowded, and people were forced to eat their meals at tables crowded with the plates and detritus of previous guests. Quite disgusting! Staff that we talked to attributed the crowds to the fact that people had a big day in Vila, were tired, and just wanted to get dinner out of the way and the kids off to bed. Why didn’t the management also know this?
We ate at Shell and Bones one night, and found that it was not as good as on a previous cruise. We ordered the cold seafood ‘tower’, which (at $50 for two) was not great value. It’s a big, big NO! NO! to serve de-frosted sand crab. Unlike lobster, sand crab cannot be frozen, a fact that this restaurant must know perfectly well! If it is not possible to use fresh crab, then please do not serve it at all!! On the plus side, the wait staff in this restaurant were, unlike the food, tops. Merci beaucoup.
The cabin was OK, though the bed linen and towels need a thorough weeding out. Most of our towels were disgusting - grey and thin - and the bed sheets were so thin they were positively see-through. Quite sexy really. There are a number of little items like this suggesting that P&O doesn’t much like spending money on replacements and repairs. (How about replacing the broken deck chairs on the promenade deck?).
We found the entertainment to be good. Some of the solo entertainers (e.g. William Fairbairn) were very good indeed! With one exception we did not go to the shows in the Marquee because we don't want to be either deafened or embarassed. The excessive noise of these shows seems intended to take your mind off their poor quality. We did go to the 'staff towel sculptures' show on the last day, and found it to be excellent entertainment.
A word about the Captain (Alan), whom we heard regularly at 12 noon, and saw frequently about the ship. He is friendly and very approachable (I saw one small boy run up to him calling ‘Hello Captain!’ and ask ‘Who’s in charge of the ship, Captain?’, to be greeted with a friendly smile). In his 12 noon announcements he is also both entertaining (now I know the origins of the phrase ‘freeze the balls off a brass monkey’) and informative. This rather contrasts with our most recent experience on Princess, where the Captain mainly wanted to talk, boringly, about the next port
We paid $550 each for an ocean view, so we can’t really complain, can we? Offer us a $450 ocean view next week, P&O, and we’d certainly accept. No doubt about it. Read Less