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316 P&O Australia Cruise Reviews

a quick 4 night getaway on Pacific Explorer. This is my third time on this ship, and actually like the interior. The cruise was out of White Bay as there was a bigger ship in the OSPT in Circular Quay. Our cabin was a mini suite, and ... Read More
a quick 4 night getaway on Pacific Explorer. This is my third time on this ship, and actually like the interior. The cruise was out of White Bay as there was a bigger ship in the OSPT in Circular Quay. Our cabin was a mini suite, and quite tastefully furnished. The beds were comfy and the pillows are actually fine (previously the pillows had been a contention on other P&O ships). The weird thing about the mini suite is the setup of the bathroom. The shower and bath are in one area, and through the door is the toilet and sink. This means that you can't get out of the bath and brush your teeth without having to go next door to the single sink. Our cabin stewards were friendly and gave us a lot of attention. Although they didn't introduce themselves till the second night. The room was serviced twice per day. The balcony is a bit small for a mini suite, not in length but in depth. Food was actually not bad at all. We went to a taste of salt (excellent and well worth the $99 per person cover charge). We also tried Dragon Lady and Angelo's as well as Shell and Bones. The disappointing thing is that if you actually want a decent meal, you have to pay for it. No drama if it's reasonably priced. Angelo's was the star of the free meal selection. The pasta was warm and tasted excellent. The secret bar is the Bonded Store, and I can highly recommend you find this small out of the way place, it's by the blue room. Blink and you'll miss it, as it's hidden around a corner. The "nightclub" which is situated in the Blue Room after about 11:30pm was always full. I've seen this either empty or over capacity on different cruises. I guess it depends on the itinerary and if the drink packages are in operation. In Moreton Island, we took the Quad bike tour. Enjoyed this very brief excursion, and maybe P&O might consider doing a longer version, as we just drove around in the sand around a made course. Fun to drive, but not really exciting views. Overall not a bad cruise, better than other P&O cruises I've been on before. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We stayed in cabin 11181 which was on the starboard side. The main pool deck was on the next level above and the kids club areas were immediately above the cabin. In addition, the floor on deck 12 was steel with a painted non-slip surface, ... Read More
We stayed in cabin 11181 which was on the starboard side. The main pool deck was on the next level above and the kids club areas were immediately above the cabin. In addition, the floor on deck 12 was steel with a painted non-slip surface, but no decking material or sound deadening. As a result, the large numbers of kids running around, from 6 in the morning, created a lot of noise in this cabin. I imagine all the outside cabins In this row, and possibly the whole deck, might suffer from the same problem. The cabin attendants were very good and friendly. The cabin was compact, but the balcony gave it a more spacious feeling. This is only the second Cruise I have done, the first being a Cruise out of Hong Kong on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas in an interior cabin. The voyager cabin felt much more spacious and with a bigger bathroom and more wardrobe space. This was definitely a low end cruise and it was priced accordingly. As a result, I had very low expectations about the food and I wasn’t disappointed. The Waterfront restaurant was really quite bad for the evening meal. Breakfasts were good there, however and the breakfast buffet at the Pantry was also good. There seemed to be a lot of entertainment on offer, but we only availed ourselves of the movies at the cinema, which was enormous. The movies were very good, recent releases. On balance, I would cruise on P&O and the Pacific Explorer again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise to celebrate a significant birthday, having done the same cruise six and a half years earlier. Both times we booked a Suite and although the Pacific Dawn is supposed to have undergone refurbishment in that time, there ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate a significant birthday, having done the same cruise six and a half years earlier. Both times we booked a Suite and although the Pacific Dawn is supposed to have undergone refurbishment in that time, there was no appreciable difference to the comfort level of the decor. The sofa and tub chairs in the suite are not conducive to relaxation and the bed linen and quality of pillows is pedestrian at best. The bathroom amenities are sachets (notoriously hard to open); the mini-fridge was old and dirty on the outside and pooled water inside and there was mould in the shower recess. Our suite was directly under the Cafe/Bar and the noise transference (bumping and trolley movements) kept waking me during the night to the point where I complained on the second night. Yes, the noise stopped, but I can't believe anyone in their right mind would think it acceptable to locate a passenger cabin directly beneath a cafe/bar that operates until 11:30pm and not make the customer aware of it beforehand. If you think of a cruise ship as a floating hotel/resort then when compared to land-based accommodation, the Pacific Dawn would be no more than a 3-star establishment. Salt Grill by Luke Mangan provides the best meals onboard but of course there is a cover charge of $49pp. Shell & Bones is a full a la carte eatery, but totally lacks ambience and comfort. The eating area sits over the engine which is noisy and everything vibrates quite vigorously; not conducive to a relaxing dinner event when you can't hear your companion across the table. It's worth remembering though that since there are many budget fares, P&O work to extract money from passengers by other means. We had a Drinks Package included in our Suite but the package deals are confusing in that there are four packages and one provides only Sodas and there is another for tea and coffee. Alcoholic beverages are limited to $12 per glass of wine, beer, spirit or cocktail and all bars seem to have different prices for the same drink, (a Rose was $9 in the Cafe/Bar but $9.50 in Salt Grill, for example). You need to be careful to ensure you only chose the $12 drink otherwise you will be charged the full price, not just the difference. Cocktails in the lower level Atrium bar were mostly all over $12 but on Level 12, the same cocktails were $12 or under. Barista coffee was not included in our package. Why not have a package for all beverages to save confusion for everyone? Bear in mind that there is a significant number of cabins with a fare price starting around $550pp quad share, or less depending on the particular cruise. That fare includes all meals at The Pantry and the Waterfront Restaurant, self-serve tea and coffee anytime; a very cheap package indeed for seven nights accommodation plus all meals. One can see why these cruises appeal to the budget conscious and lower socio-economic groups in the community, including aged pensioners. Nothing wrong with that, but if you can afford and prefer 5-star comfort and you're lumped with a large number of people who aren't of that ilk, you could be disappointed. As someone said to me, think "Bali afloat". The Officers' Party for VIP passengers lacked all the class and style one would expect from a Ship's Officers' event; every different to our previous cruise. There's plenty of entertainment and activities onboard (mostly free), shore excursions can be booked, and there is a free kiddie club so parents can take a break. Embarkation and disembarkation is quick and easy if you are a VIP passenger, but if not, there can be lengthy waiting periods. Pacific Dawn is not a large ship; around 2000 passengers compared to 5000 on larger ships. P&O should be doing more for their Suite passengers who pay well in excess of quad share; more inclusions, more sumptuous Suite decor, more exclusive events and a separate lounge. At the moment Suite passengers are not receiving value for money. However, having said that, If you want to sail from Brisbane there is not a lot of choice when it comes to ship size and quality. Staff are generally service focussed, cheerful and polite, but there is still the expectation that a "tip" will be provided. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
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
Sail Date February 2018
I’ve been on quite a few cruises and chose this one for the destination and price. P&O is a budget line. Ship: Really great sail past Moreton Island. lovely modern decor throughout. Curtains on the pool deck and deck chairs on the ... Read More
I’ve been on quite a few cruises and chose this one for the destination and price. P&O is a budget line. Ship: Really great sail past Moreton Island. lovely modern decor throughout. Curtains on the pool deck and deck chairs on the promenade deck smelt (of vomit, urine, and dampness) and needed cleaning. Duty Free alcohol for purchase onboard was fairly expensive in comparison with pricing on other ships I’ve been on and probably on par with Dan Murphys. Unfortunately all shore tours in Port Douglas were cancelled due to rough seas but we were able to go ashore later in the day after the seas had settled a little. Embarkation: smooth, there wasn’t a long wait and they had a guitarist playing to entertain those waiting - a nice touch. Service: in the dining room it was mixed, sometimes ignored, sometimes slow. Great Australian Entertainment Director: Ben. Captain Ian Dockeray provided regular updates and each day would name and wish happy birthday to crew members (a lovely touch). My room stewards AJ and Michelle were lovely and always greeted me by name. Food: in the Waterfront Restaurant the cauliflower soup was excellent, the beef tip was over cooked and tough and didn’t come with vegetables (you need to order separate sides). The dinner menu was significantly reduced in the Waterfront restaurant - 3 entree choices, 3 mains and 2 salads (the rest you have to pay for). A lot of gouging for money: hotdogs, pizza, hamburgers, ice creams etc you pay extra for. The Pantry closes at 9:30 so if you want to eat later you’re forced to pay. It’s also very crowded at night and hard to find a table (they close off the back of the pantry for their pay extra restaurant Shell and Bones. The salads and soups in the buffet are delicious and fresh but the desserts are of poor quality compared to other cruise lines. No ice buckets offered for wine purchased in the Waterfront Restaurant. Bread on the second night was stale. On cocktail nights dress wasn’t enforced, a lot of passengers were wearing jeans and t-shirts in the Waterfront Restaurant. Entertainment: Soloists in the public areas were great. Production show Seven Deadly Sins, Velvet Rope and Slumber were excellent - great costumes, great sets and dancing- singing was also of a high standard but may have been due to a pre recorded sound track. The towel animal show on the last see day with the room stewards was a lot of fun. They played the Winter Olympics on the pool deck screen which was very enjoyable. Because I’ve done a few cruises, I was invited to the senior officers party, which included a complimentary photo with the Captain, canapés and drinks. I found days at sea a little boring entertainment wise. There was always trivia available but not much else. There only appeared to be a lot of up sell opportunities for the company to make extra cash eg get a flatter stomach, boost your metabolism, foot analysts, the casino and spa treatments. A matinee movie in the theatre would have been good. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
It was our wedding anniversary so we thought a short cruise would be a good way to celebrate. We had been on a P&O cruise before and so had high hopes about eveerything. Sadly we were very disappointed this time. Embarkation was ... Read More
It was our wedding anniversary so we thought a short cruise would be a good way to celebrate. We had been on a P&O cruise before and so had high hopes about eveerything. Sadly we were very disappointed this time. Embarkation was pretty easy. No problems there. On board the ship there was a very unpleasant smell in some areas, like sewerage. Our room was small but ok as we only needed to sleep there. The bed was quite comfortable and the feather pillows really good. The air conditioning in the room was also good. The thing we were most disappointed with was the food and some service. We did not like having to line up for service in The Pantry, particularly when the staff behind the counter did not or could not understand what you asked for meaning you had to ask several times. The food in almost every instance from The Pantry was really tasteless. I couldn't honestly make a comment about how delicious any hot food or dessert was with the exception of porridge with yogurt and the french toast. Everything else was bland and boring. We ate at Angelo's, the Dragon Lady and the Waterfront. These restaurants proved to be better. The biggest disappointment of all was the Shell and Bones seafood restaurant inside the pantry. That should have rung a bell but we thought there would be different chefs to those in The Pantry. Unfortunately I don't think that was the case. We ordered a hot Seafood Extravaganza anticipating something out of the ordinary, but no, it was very disappointing and to make matters worse, it was a paying restaurant. My husband, a keen fisherman and very good cook of seafood, said it was the worst seafood meal he had ever had. The (American) lobster was tough, the tiny (and I mean tiny) fried scallops balls and prawns in breadcrumbs were cooked in old oil it seems as they were very dark brown and overcooked, the salt and pepper squid had no salt or pepper and a little bit rubbery, the 3 octopii were the size of 10cent pieces. No oysters, no mussels and not even a few chips. We were so disappointed. The staff overall on the ship were very friendly and courteous and helpful. No complaints there. The lifts at the end of the 3 nights were starting to break down making moving between decks time consuming and difficult for those who couldn't manage the stairs. We also experienced two toilet facilities where the toilets weren't flushing. A real bugbear was how inconsiderate some people were with monopolising the popular deckchairs. People would put towels or bags on them early and disappear leaving an empty but monopolised chair for long portions of the day. With limited seating in popular areas some sort of time limit on chairs should be worked out. The entertainment was quite good, especially the rock band revival show and the trivia nights. Overall it was nice to be on the water relaxing but my husband and I would not go on this particular ship again as it definitely didn't measure up. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
This was a new years eve cruise with a group of 8. (2 Parents & 6 adult children). We all had Suites and these were in fairly good condition with a little dated décor. Suite 10070. The TV in the bedroom is smaller than by computer ... Read More
This was a new years eve cruise with a group of 8. (2 Parents & 6 adult children). We all had Suites and these were in fairly good condition with a little dated décor. Suite 10070. The TV in the bedroom is smaller than by computer screen. Great room attendants but the balcony furniture was old and covered in paint spots. The ship has been re-furbished but the rooms are still as per the Dawn Princess days. The main dining room - The Waterfront is not an open plan layout and hard to gain waiters attention. Lots of tables in dead end corners and fake walls. On the first night 45 minutes to get a drink. We ended up going to the bar getting our own drinks. This was the theme throughout the whole Waterfront dining experience. We ate at Angelos 2 nights and Dragon Lady 2 nights. Much better service from both food and bar staff. We missed a R 18+ show 1 night as our children aged from 20 to 24 had to have photo ID. THey were holding alcholic drinks along with their seaa passes. Not good enough. Had to go to the room, get photo ID - mainly passports to gain access. Then the area was full and we were denied access. All of the bars on board had swipe accesa that display photos whith purchases but the secuirty is so anal that had to have this ID. We are now in 2018 and they need to updated thos old and dated system new technology. THe lido deck pool area was good with new furniture and the bars on level 7, The ExpLorer and Ocean bar were very nice areas. Entertainment was very good with sail away party, formal night, back to school night, white party night and Gatsby Night. Most of the ship participated in these dress up events. The lifts were so slow and have been programmed from anither decade. Much quicker to use the stairs, The glass lifts only go from level 5 to level 8. Entertainment was usual sing and dancing shows. The Maqruee was full evey night however, the late show was 9:00 pm and we could only get seating at 7:30 so we had to rush our food to make any shows. The late shows should be around 10:00 to esethe rush. On party nights there needs to be more bar staff. Queuing 3-4 deep at the bars with only 2-3 bar staff was frustating for all. P & O needs to schedule the staffing levels for the number of people attending. The photogtapher are very annoying. If the pricing was realistic more photos would be purchased. Royal Carribean has a package pricing were you can get all your photos for $299.00 Much bettre than $30+ for a small photo. This would reduce the wasted prints that are thrown away. Very environmentally unfriendly. Overal a good party crusie but more staff required. The P & O phrase of all you need is your sea pass and we take care ofthe rest is rubbish. My children had to have Photo ID with them all the time - they need to have scanners available for the security staff. The drink package is value for money in my opinion. Beer prices $7-$8.50 - Cocktails $12.00 with wine & champagne $8 -$11 per glass. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We know and expect P&O cruises to be a 3 star cruise line so we don't have high expectations we mainly cruises with them at this time of year for covenience cruised on the same ship the year before and really enjoyed the New ... Read More
We know and expect P&O cruises to be a 3 star cruise line so we don't have high expectations we mainly cruises with them at this time of year for covenience cruised on the same ship the year before and really enjoyed the New Years atmosphere this cruise was so different it was as if P&O are trying to save a few extra dollars again noticed less options in the Pantry (the buffet replacement ) to the year before usually 3 types of eggs on offer now only 2 each morning on the breakfast menu also at lunch and dinner not as many dishes on offer at dinner lots of people enjoy taking cheese and biscuits back to their cabins to have for supper but they keep the sliced cheese hidden in a fridge at the Kettle and Bun sandwich ,soup, salad bar. You don't ask you don't get'. meals at the Waterfront restaurant were nice went Twice to Salt grill extra costs $49.99 pp for tea worth every cent cabin was great BA balcony a couple of doors down from last year drink service on the pool deck was very slow seemed like not enough staff to take your drink orders although the staff coped the best they could it was sometimes faster to go to the bar to order your own drinks maybe this due to the new all inclusive drinks package and more people ordering it met some fantastic people on board and attended some great acts and shows in the theatre including Steady Eddie we had priority embarkation at checkin within 10 min we were in our cabin baggage arrived 5 min later Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We originally decided to choose the Dawn because the family friendly facilities and activities appealed to us. This was our first cruise, so naturally we were excited with anticipation and certain expectations. The pantry restaurant which ... Read More
We originally decided to choose the Dawn because the family friendly facilities and activities appealed to us. This was our first cruise, so naturally we were excited with anticipation and certain expectations. The pantry restaurant which was inclusive of our fare seemed appealing at first, with selections and choice of various flavours of dining tastes. As the days went on the food became repeatative and average. I noticed the trifle looked like they recycled left overs and put it together to fool us into eating a different trifle. Breakfast not bad nice to have bacon and eggs, but scrambled eggs were cold. Pastries seemed quite bland. The ship itself being the size it was, encouraged you to walk a distance to get where you were going. Various areas and structures badly needed painting, or repairing, I spotted cracks peeling paint, on beams, walls etc. A highlight was the outdoor pool area, great for the kids, waterpark nice, slides good pool a little small. Large screen good for movies out on deck. There are amazing vantage points for taking photos especially front of boat on deck 10. The Edge activities are great for kids and adults. We paid $116 for a gold pass unlimited for our 14 yr old. He really became much more active. It’s good too to give the parents some down time.We only had an inside cabin, no windows. At first when we arrived we noticed only two single bunk beds made up. We had our 14 yr old with us. We complained as the sleeping arrangements didn’t suit our situation. They wouldn’t allow the third top bunk to come down for safety reasons. We were adamant and demanded a queen bed( two singles really put together), and a roll out bed for our son. So really get the point across if you’re not happy. We got our “queen” bed and single bed. Not much room in cabin but I thought there was plenty of storage space for clothes. There were drawers and four hanging spaces for your clothes. I recommend you take your own pillow, as we found the pillows thin and therefore got sore necks.Everyday you would receive a newsletter for the days activities, which was good, the entertainment team were awesome, always in high spirits, the shows were always packed I thoroughly enjoyed them, you can order a drink just before the show with roaming waiters but sometimes hard to flag them down when there’s a full house get there early for good seats and to get served by the waiter. I took part in the hypnosis show absolutely fantastic. The service everywhere was always friendly and impeccable. Our stewards always smiled and knew our name and were only too happy to assist us with whatever we needed. We gave them a tip daily. A few tips on Port disembarking, and tenders. When going ashore by tender, it pays to get up early get organised, pack sunscreen, water, etc, get to breakfast early, and head to the meeting point, in our case, the promenade level 7. If you get there first or earlier you will get on the tenders earlier. If you get there late you will be lining up. Then you are handed a ticket number and told to wait in the atrium till your number is called. So the later you get to the promenade the longer the ticket call. Anyone doing the New Caledonia, Fiji, Lifou, Vanuatu trip, the first mentioned island is great for snorkelling, and relaxing but not too much to do, Fiji, great for shopping, the currency was good $1.58 to our Australian dollar so we got a bit more back on exchange. Keep your wits about you, don’t carry valuables in your pockets as you may get pickpocketed, my son almost got robbed, ushered into a back room while trying on a chain, but he rushed out so a close call. If you get off in Fiji be prepared to say no because you be approached by locals trying to pursuade you to go to a particular shop, don’t buy from on street shops go into shopping centre, to avoid getting ripped off. But we enjoyed the shopping off the street. If you hop into a taxi as you get off the ship, the driver will try to get as much money out of you by wanting to drive you around and into the country ( good chance of being robbed). We walked everywhere it wasn’t far from the ship anyway. Port Vila the best stop save some money for this one! Great tours, they have a Nike shop good value for money, we went to the blue lagoon unforgettable experience especially for the kids highly recommended. I wanted to spend longer in Port Vila, when you dock they have markets dockside great variety and I bought some beautiful dresses there. Oh and it’s a good idea to purchase the drinks package if you’re someone who would love to laze by the pool and sip on a cocktail, or not worry about how much you’re clocking up in cost. We regrettably didn’t get the drink package because my partner thought my $300 on board credit would last me 12 days. Nup we ended spending around $2000 which was too much last two days we ran out of money so I was miserable not being able to enjoy cocktails near the end of the cruise. We spent $200 in one night at the white party yikes so least with drink package you can relax and have as many cocktails as you like. We bonded with the staff so when disembarking in Brisbane I cried because truley speaking the staff really do make you feel special. The waterfront is better than the pantry but you need to book your table. Better quality and slightly better variety. Well sorry this is a long review but from one first timer to another it’s good to know this stuff before you go so you are better prepared and in for a more enjoyable experience. Happy travels and bon voyage. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Our previous trip was on Princess line (Emerald Princess), which was superior in EVERY aspect. We had a balcony upgrade from BD to BB deck 10. If this was an upgrade..would hate to see BB. The balcony chairs were covered in paint ... Read More
Our previous trip was on Princess line (Emerald Princess), which was superior in EVERY aspect. We had a balcony upgrade from BD to BB deck 10. If this was an upgrade..would hate to see BB. The balcony chairs were covered in paint spots, as was the door, with an oversize table, and a door that opened into the balcony,..it was an effort to get out there. (a folding hinged half-table would have been much better.) A manual T.V.,,,no remote! Really?...in this day and age??? We are not fussy eaters, but the food was 5/10., invariably tepid in temp., the bacon was better suited to using as a frisbee. Entertainment was mainly aimed at the under 40s and children. The show we watched was a run-of-the-mill juggling act/poor comedy. The shore trip to merimbula was well done..(thanks Joanna) No happy-hour, no 2 for 1 deals. You even had to buy bottled water in your room on greeting..... nothing apart from basic food was free. Staff were friendly in a very reserved way, food staff were painfully slow. Not 1 crew member bothered saying 'Farewell' apart from the gentleman on the wharf. Disappointed in our first P and O cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
My partner and I went to Moreton Island, QLD on the 7th of December 2017 aboard the P&O Pacific Eden. We had booked the Suite - Value Plus package for his birthday and quite enjoyed our trip greatly. We boarded from White Bay Cruise ... Read More
My partner and I went to Moreton Island, QLD on the 7th of December 2017 aboard the P&O Pacific Eden. We had booked the Suite - Value Plus package for his birthday and quite enjoyed our trip greatly. We boarded from White Bay Cruise Terminal which we found was quite inconvenient for public transport so to get there, you need to either use TAXI/UBER/Cruise Transfer Coaches or have someone you know drop you off to the terminal because there is no public transport that can take you there. It would've been much easier if it was in the Circular Quay Terminal. Being a VIP passenger, we skipped the queue for check-in which was very convenient as there was a long line of people trying to check-in. The process was pretty quick, they asked us general questions, confirmed our details, took our pictures and handed our cruise cards to us (cruise card: room key and onboard spending card). Our Suite Room looks bigger in pictures - which happens most of the time, but it was very clean, tidy and had a fresh feeling to it. The food at The Pantry could be better. They have many different choices to offer ranging from Indian, Mexican, Asian, Western, Vegetarian, Meat, Fruits and Desserts. The food at The Waterfront was OK, they had a 3 course-style dining and the interiors were very nice and the presentation was stunning. This goes for Angelo's Italian Restaurant as well. The main Pool was filled with kids nearly 24/7 being that it's school holidays of course so we did not get a chance to be able to have a dip. The Pool on The Oasis was also filled most of the time and by the time it was empty, there were strong winds and it got pretty cold so there was no point. The pools could have been bigger and a little better. They both were pretty small and can only fit a handful amount of people. The ship it-self is quite old, it's not very modern although the restaurants, bars and cafes are quite modern but this did not bother us whatsoever. The activities were mainly for middle-agged to pension-aged passengers, being 21 years old none of the activities they had to offer really appealed to us i.e. bingo, trivia, guess the tune, gatsby night (seems like they always do this one on every cruise which gets pretty boring). Then again, this did not bother us, we were happy to just lounge around in different areas of the cruise just finding things to do. We docked at Moreton Island as expected. It was one hell of an amazing island. We have never seen water so clear, we went swimming in the beach and had fish swim right underneath us which was pretty cool. We went ATV Quad Bike Riding and Kayaking and they were very awesome. We were blessed with such beautiful weather and the whole experience was pretty damn good. I would definitely go back to Moreton Island. I don't really have amazing comments or very negative comments to share as my experience was pretty average, I obviously did not expect high standards as I knew P&O Pacific Eden isn't the Emirates or Singapore Airlines First-Class quality. Then again I am a pretty laid back person, not really fussed with things. I probably would not recommend Pacific Eden if you are in your teens or 20-30's hanging out with your friends as there aren't really much to do for young and energetic people. Maybe Carnival or the Pacific Explorer might be more ideal. If you're just looking for a weekend out to relax and not wish to participate in any activity but to sit in the sun or just have a lazy trip then I guess Pacific Eden isn't so bad, you can have a go at the 'Food & Wine' they offer. This experience was what had happened during my trip, it may vary to different passengers so please don't expect exactly the same as what I had experienced, maybe you can just get an idea of what you may experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We thought it would be good to try the Refurbed Dawn, 1) Cabin was good & the cabin stewards Shava & Hassan were excellent. 2) The overall refurb is good, the old jungle bar now the Oriant was where we spent our evenings ... Read More
We thought it would be good to try the Refurbed Dawn, 1) Cabin was good & the cabin stewards Shava & Hassan were excellent. 2) The overall refurb is good, the old jungle bar now the Oriant was where we spent our evenings 3) The entertainment was poor quality, what with 1 guitar player then 2 guitar players the response from guests was not good, the piano player played so softly she was hard to undarstand , group wise Dimage was good but colour 4 were more suited to the local dance hall-pathetic. 4) Enjoyed the pantry & Grill. 5) The main restaurant food was never hot & one time Liz got cold vegetables & when she pointed this out to waiters & supervisor who agreed the veges were cold the Answer from the Exec chef was "make sure her meal is hot tomorrow night"-not happy Jan 6)we have traveled on the Dawn 7 times & this was the last straw ,never again with P& O Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We have travelled on four cruises (3 with Princess) before this one so we weren't new to cruising and perhaps had certain standards to judge this one against. Although the cruise lines are very similar in many respects and their ... Read More
We have travelled on four cruises (3 with Princess) before this one so we weren't new to cruising and perhaps had certain standards to judge this one against. Although the cruise lines are very similar in many respects and their standards comparable. We found a few differences (some good/some bad) between them). Here are some: . Our embarkation and disembarkation procedures werre much quicker on P&O with almost no wait times, unlike on Princess (although this may have also been to the cruise not being as popular a one). . The buffet restaruant in Princess is much better as: you can serve yourself in most areas and so have greater portion control, you aren't waiting to be served so it is much quicker, there is a greater variet of foods e.g. salads, there is more seating available. . The gift shop has a greater range of souvenirs on Princess and destination shirts which are available and often discounted later in the cruise. This wasn't the case on the P&O one. . There appeared to be less open deck areas where you could go for some fresh air on P&O. . The service in the formal restaurant, the waterfront on P&O was definitely and less attentive on P&O with drinks refilling and waiter service considerably slower. Also the supposed dress code which was present on some nights was enforced inconsistently with some people being refused entry for wearing shorts, while others were allowed in wearing shorts and t-shirts. When this was brought up with the maitre d, they claimed it was because some diners couldn't understand English well. We saw some underdressed people who were clearly aussies so this wasn't always the case. . The booking system for the formal restaurant is poor with you having to line up for a long time to indicate that you wished to dine there at the beginning of the cruise. This resulted in the rediculous situation of one passenger arranging bookings for 16 people and caused a delay of nearly 30 minutes! On Princess, passengers simply nominate a booking time before the cruise and they need to do nothing other than show up to eat. The P&O system does mean you get to meet more people, but we found on Princess that we got to know the people on our table well. The onboard ship activities were enjoyable, although it would have been nice if they could have shown movies in the theatre such as how they do on Princess during the day, considering the theatre is largely unnused then. Also some scheduled activities were cancelled without notice which wasted time. . Before our cruise we were offered a room upgrade for a very cheap price, which we have never had with Princess so this was much appreciated. . On P&O cruises you have to pay extra to choose your own room. This isn't the case on Princess as within certain categories such as interior/exterior, deck, ship position e.g. forward or midship you can choose your own cabin. On Princess selecting a cabin beforehand means that when you are choosing a potential cabin you can be aware of potential issues in regards to its location. It is also reassuring to see that you have a cabin designated for you. On P&O cruises we found out that the website cruise control which is your interface with P&O has inaccuate information. The site claims that you can print your tickets and documentation 2 weeks before the cruise date. This includes your cabin number which is when it is meant to be allocated to you. Upon contacting P&O regarding a cruise which we are taking just before the end of 2017, we found out that this isn't the case and that instead cabins are allocated any time from 2 weeks until the day before the departure date! This is extremely unsatisfactory and creates unneccesary anxiety regarding printing and preparing documentation such as tickets. Yes their system does allow for potential upgrades but it is unneccessarily inefficient. Overall we would like to say that if you are of a more mature group and want better service than Princess is probably for you. P&O are still quite good however and recently have been more affordable (probably due in part to Princess's price rises to cover the cost of their new ships). Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
I (27 y/o female) sailed with my mother (early 60s) from Melbourne visiting ports in Tasmania. We chose this ship for the itinerary and the sale price that was offered at the time of booking. I had heard mixed reviews before we sailed, but ... Read More
I (27 y/o female) sailed with my mother (early 60s) from Melbourne visiting ports in Tasmania. We chose this ship for the itinerary and the sale price that was offered at the time of booking. I had heard mixed reviews before we sailed, but went on with a positive attitude. We were in Cabin 8135 which was an obstructed ocean view stateroom. It was not too far away from the casino or the mid-ship stairwell. It was on a corner so it was a little noisy at peak times, but it did not interrupt sleep at all. The room was more spacious than we were expecting (the same category on Carnival is slightly smaller), however, the doorway into the ensuite was a tight squeeze and we are not overly large women. Our room steward was absolutely lovely and made our stay very pleasant. Having had our first cruise on a Carnival line ship, where they are all about fun, I found the entertainment lacking, and not being drinkers, there wasn't much to do after 9pm. When we did go to the shows, the theatre was barely half full even though the sailing was sold out. I rarely heard or saw the Cruise Director throughout the sailing, but saw a lot of her deputy staff who were very friendly. P&O advertise their Pantry concept a lot on social media, but the reality is that the food is almost always cold, even when you turn up as soon as lunch or dinner opens. The best sections are the roast and Indian cuisine. The food in the Main Dining Room was ok, I have food allergies so I am very limited with what I can eat. Each night the head waiter would bring the menu for the following morning and night, and each day my order would be lost and we would start over again. Also, on the Lido deck, it is troublesome for elderly people with mobility issues to get through the doorways as the ramps that go over the cut out door frames are at a steep angle. My absolute favourite part of the cruise was the thermal suites in the Spa. Absolutely worth every penny, with fantastic views and the peace and quiet I needed after a busy year. The only downside was that it was not communicated how to order the free Champagne, so I missed out the first two days. We did a fantastic bus shore excursion to Richmond, visiting the old village and then a winery which had stunning scenery. Would I go again? Not on this ship, maybe the cruise line though, if the price was right and the itinerary wasn't offered on another line. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
My wife and I with two other couples enjoyed a long boozy weekend aboard the Pacific Jewel. Boarding and disembarkation went smoothly. No fan fair like other longer P & O cruises. We were happy about that. Our cabin on the 5th floor ... Read More
My wife and I with two other couples enjoyed a long boozy weekend aboard the Pacific Jewel. Boarding and disembarkation went smoothly. No fan fair like other longer P & O cruises. We were happy about that. Our cabin on the 5th floor was fine, although we did miss the balcony from previous cruises. A/C was a bit noisy when on cold, a little bit playing around with the thermostat soon figured that out. Waterfront restaurant first night was disappointing. Small serves and selection is smaller than previous cruises. I liked the "pantry" dining set up with staff serving everyone at the food station. certainly stopped sick guests spreading the love. It seemed much more healthier although slow at times. Running our of toast and utensils at breakfast seemed a common thread. Biggest complaint about the "Pantry area" was the attitude of the staff, disinterested and did not want to b e there was the overall impression." Grumpy " sums it up. "Salt" restaurant was very good although not one course of the 8 courses was presented to us in the correct order. We all had to do a plate swap every course. The live bands were great and the 1 stage show we attended was ok. Kangaroo Island was Ok for a walk and feed at the pub. Wives were happy with the market. Overall we had a good time, lots of laughs and stories. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Good deal on a 4 night cruise to Moreton Island for a balcony cabin, usually out of reach of our budget. We have cruised both in Australia and the South Pacific and also overseas. We have cruised on 4 star American ships and 3 star ... Read More
Good deal on a 4 night cruise to Moreton Island for a balcony cabin, usually out of reach of our budget. We have cruised both in Australia and the South Pacific and also overseas. We have cruised on 4 star American ships and 3 star English ships and they offer so much more than P&O Australia, whose ships are also 3 star, in our opinion. After the dreaded trek to White Bay, embarkation was very swift and we found our cabin, on the 9th floor aft, to be a good size, with a compact bathroom, and the balcony which, although on the small size, had two adjustable deck chairs and a small wonky table. This balcony became our Sanctuary/Oasis. After meeting our cabin attendants, we decided to go to the The Pantry while we waited for our bags to arrive. Every one of the 2 000 or so other passengers had also decided to do this and it was then that we found that a LOT of children had taken a week off school. Hundreds of children, mostly under the age of 12. The noise was incredible. This was the second time we have cruised with P&O during school term and exactly the same thing had happened: a ship full of children we had assumed would be at school. What the ships would be like in actual school holidays we can't imagine. BTW we do have (adult) kids ourselves. A few opinions/observations: No sewage smells were evident on deck 9, or in any public areas, with the exception of a toilet out on deck 14. We had a day of rain squalls and a couple of sections of The Pantry had to be cordoned off due to water coming down from the ceiling onto tables and chairs. Overall, the ship's public areas looked very smart. The exception was The Marquee's leather chairs which all had areas where the leather had worn away. The windows in a lot of areas would benefit from a scrub. The materials used in the majority of the furniture were better (darker) coloured than on the refurbished Pacific Eden, where The Pantry chairs and tables were putrid. The cabins did not appear to have been refurbished at all, but ours was clean. The beds were narrow and fairly firm. The quilts were of a good weight, not too thin, not too thick. We did find the switches on the bed lamps were very dicky. If you like a medium to firm pillow, perhaps take your own: the pillows are good quality feather pillows but so soft they have no substance. The Pillow Concierge, when we requested a firmer pillow, returned with a larger pillow, but it too was full of lightweight feathers. Every day The Pantry staff battled valiantly to clean up the tables left in disarray after groups left dirty dishes, cups, etc piled up on tables. There did not appear to be enough staff to keep up with the flow of passengers chowing down. The food was hit and miss, but we were always able to find enough variety. Overall, the servers behind the counters were cheerful in what is a tiring job. Angelo's and Dragon Lady were fine: the portions are small but tasty, and the staff were pleasant in both. The Waterfront Restaurant was not enjoyable: the waiter was surly and the after dinner coffee was a farce. One of us requested coffee, "decaffinated, if it was available please". We were told it was, by Mr Surly, who returned some time later with a small jug of milk, a cup and saucer and a pot of what we thought was decaffinated coffee. Nope, it was a pot of plain old hot water. He poured the hot water into the cup, then gave me an unopened Nescafe sachet of Decaffinated coffee and walked away. The sight of people lying around on pillows in all the windows down both sides of Deck 7 in particular gave the entire area a down at heel look. The people sitting on the tables and chairs directly in front of these large picture windows were unable to look out at the view of the ocean; all they could see were the thonged feet, legs, bodies of the people sprawled in the 'window seats' above them. The Production shows and the Love Riot were all very enjoyable. Liar Liar was good, as was the Sherlock Holmes skit but one member of the crew, present in both activities, was crude, not funny, knowing there were children in the audience he should have toned down his behaviour. Tendering was well done, not too long to wait, considering there were so many passengers. Forget about swimming in either of the two main pools, unless you can get in before 6am or after 7pm. The entire time the pools were filled with screaming, jumping children. The Oasis pool is very small and it was packed with people trying to escape the hordes of children. The 'pool' in the Sanctuary is only 18 inches high according to the sign, so it is good for dipping your feet in. BTW the Sanctuary area has lovely comfortable day beds and was an adults only area when the ship was owned by Princess; not any more, kids and their parents soon discover it and soon enough the screaming, crying etc takes over. Disembarkation was very well organised. We realise that we are not P&O's target market. Would we go on another P&O cruise, knowing this? If a great deal for a balcony cabin came up again, on a shortish cruise, then we would think about it; we mainly cruise for the destinations, not the ships, and we know for sure now that no matter what time of the year they sail, P&O ships will be full of children, and people who like to PARTY. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
I was really apprehensive about this cruise after having many problems and two unpleasant interactions with P&O phone staff trying to book it. Note to P&O: people trying to book a holiday are not paying debts and calling customers ... Read More
I was really apprehensive about this cruise after having many problems and two unpleasant interactions with P&O phone staff trying to book it. Note to P&O: people trying to book a holiday are not paying debts and calling customers "Sir/Ma'am" when the tone of voice is rude and disinterested is not polite. I nearly cancelled all plans more than once but it was the only time my partner could get off work so we bit the bullet! ...... Then, there were all the complaints everywhere about the poo ship to add to the anxiety AND boarding was pushed back more than three hours so the ship could be disinfected after an outbreak of norovirus .... But, just back, no illness and didn't even notice any smell anywhere on the ship & I'm super sensitive to smells! Quite a few of the public area toilets were closed for maintenance at various times during the cruise but we tried not to use them anyway as asked in the muster - there was much less risk involved with our own ensuite. Overall impressions of the ship were actually good. Public areas of the ship are modern and comfortable. Balcony cabin 9167 was small but comfortable for a couple and in a good position between fore & aft lifts midship so really stable. The ensuite was small so we usually had to leave the door open to be able to sit on the loo not sideways. Not only did having a quiet place to sit outside make the balcony worth every cent but being able to open the door any time day or night was a huge advantage over past stuffy cabins and meant we could control the temperature in our cabin. The air conditioning seemed erratic to say the least. We avoided The Pantry (The Pig Pen) after giving it a go for all three meal times. Kids running around, very noisy & people piling their plates & tables high with obscene amounts of food which, unbelievably, they either kept shovelling in or walked away & left so much behind! Such gluttony and waste really was enough to turn stomachs. Absolutely the worst thing though was the widespread drunkenness even before we'd even left Sydney. People with alcohol packages boasting about making the most of it! P&O could run a cruise just for drunkards and not inflict those individuals on other people OR do away with drinks packages altogether - why don't the responsible service of alcohol laws apply at sea? As far as the ship itself goes - it's big but there isn't that much more to do than on the smaller ships like The Jewel - and a person can only do one thing at a time. We had to miss two shows we really wanted to see because they were on at the same time as other shows. Had we known the Love Riot show would actually be on three (3) times during our cruise, we would have scheduled differently - however it is a brilliant x-rated flying fruit fly like performance - with lots of swearing and a bit of nudity - which was very entertaining. None of the music onboard this cruise appealed to us - unlike previous cruises where we've found several favourites, this cruise's bands/musicians were all very same-ish. The very annoying and strange setup closing off deck 8 in the middle of the ship (top level of the atrium) for 400 Gradi meaning everyone - even those wanting to go to this extra fee pizza restaurant - being forced to detour up or down a deck to get to it. If this restaurant can't be put into a dead end like the other restaurants, Explorer need to, at the very least, maintain a thoroughfare on one side to have entry to the restaurant from both fore and aft. 400 Gradi was never ever busy during our cruise, so reducing it's footprint a bit won't hurt anyway. We didn't enjoy the food here and found the menu very pretentious (good pizza does not need flowery words or Italian writing - even to someone who understands it). Service was half baked - we were ignored for ages, then several staff would bombard us (water? drinks? clearing away, asking if everything okay) then we'd go back to being ignored for a long period again - in a cycle that ran 4 times during dinner. My partner was ready to kill for a beer several times. A far less formal pizza place for late night snacks (as on Jewel) works better than this pretentious 'silver service' pizzeria in my opinion. Foodwise, we felt The Waterfront (included dining) was the standout, but the new no tablecloths look really lets the side down. Best thing about The Waterfront is that it seems to intimidate the bogans - which is great for everyone else. The Waterfront food was fantastic - every bit as good as, if not better than, the extra fee restaurants - with its changing menus and some really outstanding dishes! I don't know why P&O bother with so many 'extra fee' restaurants then only has the majority of those open at the same times as the included dining options so that all venues are subsequently half empty. Why not stagger meal times so there is less of a rush at meal times? Why not have food service 24/7 instead? Such rigid meal times are odd these days - particularly now that morning tea, afternoon tea and supper has sadly been phased out on P&O. The High tea (not Hi, as in daily journal!) was only available - for extra fee - on sea days (at Angelo's) and only Luke's - another extra fee venue - was open 'late' but even that closed well before midnight. Luke's has a very limited menu but we enjoyed the good quality food here. A few suggestions for P&O: not everyone cruising is a heavy drinker. Decent coffee & tea stations being available 24/7 would be appreciated by many passengers. I was disappointed in The Pantry on Explorer shutting down at 9pm (the same time as most of the restaurants) - it would have been nice to get a cup of tea before bed but alas, no......... Why not make Charlie's a proper cafe, instead of yet another bar, and have a dedicated cafe for those who don't want alcohol? There are so many bars onboard already. At least one venue needs to stay open 24/7 to cater for all the night owls who aren't drinkers and who crave something to eat in the more than nine hours between when the restaurants close after dinner and open for breakfast. Just as well, I took a few snacks aboard and thought to buy some in the shop on the ship. The removal of the Library means there are now people scattered all over the ship reading - and shushing others - plus people playing board games/cards everywhere, including in the Pantry, (despite being asked not too in the daily newsletter - leading to our belief many foreign tourists in particular were not able to read/understand English - which also raises questions about the plumbing briefing btw). Doesn't this happening tell P&O that not everyone has A) likes electronic reading or B) wants extreme sports? Many people (not only elderly!) go on cruises wanting to either just sit, or read, quietly. The Library used to provide a sanctuary for people to escape hustle & bustle and no, the pathetic book trolley doesn't cut any mustard with anyone I spoke to on this cruise or on my last one on the Jewel. P&O say the Library wasn't popular enough to keep - so what's with the bloody great gyms with thousands of dollars worth of machinery which take up a huge area of a deck - and apart from a few early morning workouts - are always empty? The Spa also takes up a large area & again, it was mainly empty. The sun loungers on deck were always full as were all the smaller conversation areas, so much so there simply wasn't anywhere to sit in the public areas (thank goodness for that balcony cabin). The days of deck chairs on anything other than the pool deck seem to be gone too. On previous cruises, I've always enjoyed one of the quieter side decks undercover to the pool deck partly due to not wanting to bake myself in the sun. The cabin stewards were all brilliant and amazing - not just our own lovely Ferdinand & Adrian - but all we passed in the corridors, were flat out but always cheery, always obliging and friendly. The wait staff, on the other hand, were mostly very sullen except for the very rare individual - what's going on? Bar staff were the same - clearly disenchanted. Cleaners most definitely grumpy. Most polite enough but neither friendly nor helpful. Many spoke only rudimentary English and it was really noticeable how many avoided eye contact. This is markedly different to previous P&O cruises so what has changed? Why aren't the crew happy and why doesn't P&O Australia do an Australian staff recruitment drive? Not only does all the service personnel being other nationalities seem to bring out the truly ugly side of many Australians (who were observed to either treat the crew like servants or alternately, patronise them) but a stint on a cruise ship - perhaps as a gap year - would do a lot of Aussie youngsters the world of good in learning the service/hospitality industry. As anyone who has ever worked in these industries knows, they are hard work but they also teach people how not to behave to service personnel. Explorer is a big ship but the kids on this cruise were everywhere and it wasn't even school holidays. Kids, unsupervised, running between decks playing games with the lifts caused a lot if frustration. We met a young boy on crutches one night who was distraught because he couldn't take the stairs but couldn't get a lift due to a bunch of kids tying up the lifts. Not the kids faults to a degree but where were their parents? It was also annoying to have some parents bring their children into the adults only Oasis area - such a small area and easily avoided but some parents plainly think everyone thinks their kids are okay as exceptions to the rules. In fact, if P&O, by concentrating on the action packed water slides, Edge activities, etc etc attracts the bogan and kid market so heavily, that's the last P&O cruise I'll bother with. The Jewel remains my favourite of the P&O ships, because big isn't always better, but overall, it feels like P&O have forgotten their customers are the reason for their existence. Many practices seem to have been put in place for the ease of the employees, not the passengers, most particularly everything shutting down the afternoon before disembarking - which, on this occasion, meant not an 8 day cruise at all with the delayed boarding and the early cut off of everything aboard. For me, P&O has lost a lot of ground in recent years so we will be trying the other cruise lines for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose this cruise as a fun school holidays kick-off for ourselves, our 9 year old son and 3 other families with similar age kids. Was meant to be a Comedy cruise - but, for us at least, it was more of a family fun cruise. We've ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a fun school holidays kick-off for ourselves, our 9 year old son and 3 other families with similar age kids. Was meant to be a Comedy cruise - but, for us at least, it was more of a family fun cruise. We've been on one cruise before - earlier this year on the Norwegian Sun in Alaska. We were pleasantly surprised by that cruise. This one not so much. I was expecting P&O to be a bit more 'budget' than the other major cruise lines - it is. The ship is definitely older and a bit worn. Mostly clean and the crew seem to try to keep her tidy. The Pantry (buffet remade as a 'food court') and the Waterfront restaurant (only free sit down restaurant) seem to be recently updated but the rest of the ship is definitely dated. Our cabin was a 4-bunk with a window on the 9th floor, towards the rear of the ship. It was fine. Bunks were comfy. Shower was huge (compared with shower on the Sun) but looked a bit grotty and worn. It was fine for us and 2 x children (we had a child from one of the other families in with us). Dining got a bit boring after 3 days. The "Pantry" buffet was always crowded. Breaking up in to types of food (Indian, Asian, Salad bar, roast station, etc) is good because it's easier to get around, but if you want more than one type of food you have to stand in 2-3 lines. Overall quality of food was pretty average (think mid-range buffet). Everything has to be served by staff - you can see the food behind glass. I don't mind this - I think it is more hygienic, but they are not particularly generous. You have to ask for 2-3 spoonfuls sometimes. Salad bar was just basic (I love salads so nothing special - no nuts, extras) and desserts were not worth it at all - jello and bland cakes. The only other free option was The Waterfront where staff seemed overworked and food was limited both in choice and quantity. I'm pretty sure the 'roast chicken' I had one night was literally the same food from the buffet. We went back and forth whether it was worth just standing in line yourself versus slightly better atmosphere but then less choice (3 entrees and 3 mains most nights). Desserts at Waterfront were MUCH better than the Buffet - we had a beetroot and chocolate torte one night that was excellent and the next lunch's Tiramisu was very good. There is a NZ Ice cream stand by the pool - with $5/ 1 scoop ice creams. Yum. NO ice cream on offer at Buffet, but you can get some small scoops of sorbet-type ice cream at The Waterfront. We tried to get in to Salt or Luna (top up restaurants) once we got bored with the free offerings - booked solid. No opportunity to pre-book via Cruise Control. We didn't really go to many of the shows - didn't start till 9.30 or 10pm and we all had kids with us. The Zipline was fun for the kids but not really that exciting. We all played Laser Tag one morning (in the Marquee theatre) which was entertaining. These are all extra fees. Didn't make it to the Gym but apparently there is one. Not very interesting classes. Pool was ok but lots of rules - no jumping or diving. Hot tubs could have been hotter and only 2 for whole ship - crowded. We had one day of lovely weather and all happily hung out in the sun next to the pool. Next day bad weather so lots of playing cards inside. Kids club - ours went to Shark Shack up on deck 14 at the back. It was fairly spacious and well run. Our son was definitely keen on the PS4s but rarely got to play - they were either taken or 'banned' (when there was an activity on). Half the centre is for younger kids. Children 10+ are able to opt to go to the teen centre "HQ" which is down on deck 2 (yes, 2!) so our son was just on the cusp and unable to join some of the slightly older kids in our group. 10 is the cutoff - he turns 10 in a few months. Drinks at the bar didn't seem too pricey but we wound up with a pretty big bill at the end. It's a bit funny - you have to sign for a $3 nachos at "The Grill' but you can happily zip through $40 rounds of drinks repeatedly on your card and unless you ask you don't get a receipt. I'd probably get receipts next time - if for no other reason just to realise how much the drinks are adding up to. Unfortunately the weather for us was not great - as it was a 3 day 'cruise to no where' we didn't really have any port stops. We seemed to be floating around out near Great Barrier, mostly anchored. It got pretty choppy and the weather turned and it was downright horrible - gale force winds, people getting sick with the constant motion. Not much fun. Embarcation and debarcation was fine - no fuss, no trouble. Lovely to just take a taxi to the ship and taxi home (we live in Auckland so was a quick 15 min trip and then we're away). So, overall it was fun, especially with a group of families. We made our own good time. Would we do it again? Probably not - got a bit boring on the ship after a day or so, especially with bad weather. Would we take this ship for a longer cruise? Probably not - just not enough choices for food and stuff to do. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if you were off the ship at different ports each day, but still just a bit old and tired. But fine for a one-off booze up with friends 3 days max. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was the the worst P O cruise I have done Fiji and Tonga just a bad destination. Had 100% refund on the snorkeling trip from hell in Vava'a Tonga the shore tour guide told me that they had had 87 complaints on these island tours ... Read More
This was the the worst P O cruise I have done Fiji and Tonga just a bad destination. Had 100% refund on the snorkeling trip from hell in Vava'a Tonga the shore tour guide told me that they had had 87 complaints on these island tours and were looking into it . The Jewel will have a make over next year. A friend is thinking about her first cruise, I will send her to Princess cruises. When you are a past passenger you see all the little things they cut back on, like a chocolate ever second night now, and have move the goal post on the cocktail evening for past passengers, mean and penny pinching. The buffet area is lacking salads, the food is better in the restaurant. Only had one bad meal in restaurant 1 cm by 1 cm X 4, that was the amount of fish in my sword fish salad. I read some other reviews and they said the staff were over worked, perhaps they are as I also had the wrong meal, more than once. Pay to redeem any wine vouchers as soon as you can as when we did that wine had sold out, X 2. I would go again if it was really really cheap Princess cruises are very similar in price and are lovely Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
First time sailing P&O, having sailed 15 other cruises with Disney, RCL and Princess. We previously sailed on the same ship when it was Dawn Princess. We were curious to try the Pantry as an alternative to traditional buffet style ... Read More
First time sailing P&O, having sailed 15 other cruises with Disney, RCL and Princess. We previously sailed on the same ship when it was Dawn Princess. We were curious to try the Pantry as an alternative to traditional buffet style dining, and it really doesn't work well. It is usually necessary to queue at multiple stations to build a meal. For example, burgers were available at one stall but fries had to be obtained separately from the fish n’ chip stall. There is no self service, and it feels awkward describing to the server which items you want, and in which quantities, and unless we requested them to add more their basic serving portions were quite small. Over the years we have observed food standards onboard cruises to be in decline, and this was no exception. Overall, it was the worst food experience we have had while cruising. The main dining menus were lacklustre, and the Pantry food was on a par with a basic canteen. We were concerned by reading previous reviews about the general state of the Explorer, especially the odours and toilet malfunctions. There was definitely an unpleasant odour when we boarded, especially around midship, but nothing worse than we have experienced on other cruises and this did not persist throughout the cruise. We had no issues with our bathroom in room 9212, the toilet worked fine and we had plenty of hot water in the shower. The room had plenty of storage space for 2 guests, and was kept perfectly tidy by the tireless dedication of the stateroom attendants. The aircon seemed to have no effect at night, and even on the lowest setting the room was usually too hot for comfort. The aircon fan noise was on constantly at night making it difficult to sleep. The bed itself, whilst not the worst we’ve experienced, did contribute to back ache in the mornings. The stateroom TV does carry several news channels and some sport, which is often lacking on cruise ships, and was much welcomed. Service in bars was generally below average. The bar tenders prioritised making drinks to meet the orders given to the roaming serving staff, and would therefore ignore people stood waiting at the bar. The problem was that it was sometimes difficult to catch a server, especially during busy events such as when one of the themed parties was on. During the Gatsby evening for example, there were only two servers in a packed bar, and it took over 35 minutes to get a drink. We suspect this lack of service was related to the large number of people using the drinks package, to restrict the amount of ‘free’ alcohol served. Since we were paying for drinks as we went along this poor service was particularly frustrating. The caveat to this was the casino bar. As a rule we have found the casino bars onboard ships tend to have the most attentive staff, who will typically remember your name from the moment you order your first drink, and the Explorer casino maintained that high standard. We would therefore head to the casino bar whenever service elsewhere was lacking. The overall experience of our cruise was that it was an average holiday with nothing special being offered. We preferred the food and service as it was before the Dawn Princess was rebadged, and the food quality and Pantry experience means we will be unlikely to sail with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
The Pacific Explorer was remodelled (well only the public areas) and re-launched mid 2017. My 8 day cruise was in September 2017. In a previous life it was the Dawn Princess I was travelling solo and had a balcony cabin (11155) on deck ... Read More
The Pacific Explorer was remodelled (well only the public areas) and re-launched mid 2017. My 8 day cruise was in September 2017. In a previous life it was the Dawn Princess I was travelling solo and had a balcony cabin (11155) on deck 11 – almost midship. It was very comfortable for one, maybe a little tight as a twin. The balcony was very private, but at only 1.1m wide, not a great deal of room there. The desk was by the balcony door and had a built in hair dryer – very old fashioned and low in power. There was the US powerpoint at the desk, but across the room behind the TV was another with Australian and Asia/Europe points. My computer cord only just reached so maybe a short extension lead could be handy for computer use and charging. I had an armchair and a stool which was stored under the desk. The bathroom was good – I asked for and received real soap as I do not like the liquid variety. The shampoo basic, but I would suggest bringing a conditioner. There was no body lotion supplied. One morning I was unable to turn on the water in the shower, but that was fixed within a couple of hours. However, on deck 11 I saw a few people changing cabins due to plumbing problems and in parts many of the corridors had a damp musty smell. The wardrobe had plenty of hangers – the type that one can remove properly without having to re-hook onto the connection on the rails. There was a very small safe, with very easy to use instructions. My cabin stewards were great and the next day’s program was usually delivered by 7.30 at night. Dining options: the “Pantry” which has replaced the buffet on most ships. This is set out more like a food court with the following sections: soups and sandwiches; salads; roasts; fish and chips; Asian; Mexican; Indian; Mediterranean and deserts. At lunch time the dessert section has a different themed display daily, and worthy of a photo - try to resist the selections presented. There are also three “free” main restaurants – Dragon Lady (Asian); Waterfront (traditional) and Angelos (Italian). And four “pay for” ones complete the choices – 400 Gradi - pizza; Lukes - hamburger; Shell & Bones – seafood, with three meat and twl vegetable options – sides extra; and Salt –degustation – no prices listed – just charges will apply. The main dining room, The Waterfront, is not as traditional as most ships’ main dining room nor as elegant. It is more like a large hotel bistro, with some tables twos and fours, but others were long bench tables and some high up with bar stools. Here there are also extra main meals available on the menu for a fee, ranging from $A17 to $A25. I ordered a bottle of Hardy’s Shiraz cabernet - @ $27 the cheapest on board and it was very pleasant. Prices and choices vary all over the ship. The meal serves were on the small side, which is good, but the vegetables negligible however on occasion when I asked for green vegetables, they were available. The cheese plate had one piece of cheese! The only other restaurant I tried was the Dragon Lady – Pan Asian Restaurant – bookings really necessary. The wine list there was different again – the cheapest red was $A6 more than from the Waterfront restaurant. For my dinner, I ordered Vietnamese spring rolls, rose dumplings and coconut sticky rice with mango. The spring rolls were very roughly rolled, the “rose” dumplings had the dough wrapped around (to form a rose bud) a solid core of tasteless mince, couldn’t finish it; and the “sticky rice” was just normal rice pudding, with a little shredded coconut and a little mango puree. All in all, an extremely disappointing meal – will not return. Meal times on board here are a lot shorter than on any other ship and there is no provision for afternoon tea – unless you want to pay for “high tea” at 2.30. At night all is cleared away by 9pm – again a couple of the “pay for” venues are open. The prices are not listed on the daily program – just “charges apply”. On port days, only The Pantry is open for lunch – no other choice. Extras: While the cruise itself – twin share of course, not single as I was – was inexpensive, all the “add ons” certainly are. The cheapest glass of wine I saw (and prices vary all over the ship – they are not constant) was $8.50 – most around $14. There is only one alcoholic drinks package and that is $89 per day! The bottled water in the cabin (1.5lt) is the cheapest brand – Frantelle – and that is $4.95 per bottle. Coffee prices were about standard to what is charged in Australia. SPA: Overnight there was a leaflet offering Spa treatment “bargains” with items ranging from a super detox – 50 minutes for $198; anti aging facial - 60 minutes $229 or ocean massage 100 minutes - $323. Down the bottom of the page in very, very small, fine print was “5% auto gratuity will be added”. On the general price list, the cheapest “treatment” was Ionithermie revitalising leg therapy @ $A99 for 40 minutes; many treatment were for 50 minutes with prices ranging from $A149 to $A198; 60 minutes from $A206 to $A229 and so on with the most expensive single “treatment” being $A331 for 100 minutes. Of course there were many “add ons” and “upgrades” listed. These prices are much higher than on any other ship I have been on. Internet: I chose the top priced “Platinum Voyage” unlimited option – a first day “special” at $A89 and found it mostly quite fast and it was nice not having to worry about the time logged on. There were many “daily” choices, but those could add up to the same cost or more. Theme nights: On the 8 day cruise there were four. The first was “Cocktail” and the room stewards were advising people that they would only be allowed into the Pantry (buffet area) in casual clothes. This was not the case as many people came to the Waterfront Restaurant in very daggy clothes. We also had ‘Back to School”; “Bianco” (white) and finally “Gatsby”. Again some people dressed up, many did not. Library: or lack of! I was pleased that I had bought some books (travel trash) with me because despite P&O Sydney advising me that there was a library, there is no library on board. I was told that they usually have the book swap on some of the sea days and as I had some to exchange, I didn’t have to pay anything – otherwise I think it was $A3 per book. Shows: Love Riot – venue Black Circus– tickets $A10 rated R18 held in The Black Circus: We were all offered a complimentary cocktail each – apple vodka or cranberry vodka. There was a set of “glasses” under each seat, which at first I thought were maybe 3D but seemed to have a series of dots on the lenses, and when the spotlights were on, a heart shape formed around the light – very clever. The show started at 7.30. The costumes were good, some of the dialogue very course, the acts OK but nothing special. There was one man running around nude with a balloon penis attached at the front. There was a 15 minute interval at 8.15 and the second half seemed as if it was going to be similar to the first so I left before it finished. The Marquee (theatre) – Murray Raine’s “Follies Fantastique” – a burlesque marionette show, and it was one of the best I have seen. The first marionette did a strip tease, the second was an old hag on a cruise ship, and the next act was short with a French clown and a balloon. The next act had a passenger involved (don’t sit in the front row!) operating one of the marionettes which progressively fell apart, and the final act was brilliant, it was a trapeze act with the puppet doing all sorts of things on a trapeze bar, even swinging from his nose. It was all thoroughly enjoyable. There were many “free” seminars, naturally designed to tempt you into spending money, but this happens on all ships. We called into three ports – Noumea, Mare and Isle of Pines and I have posted a separate port review on each. Duty free alcohol was not available on the last night of the cruise as on most ships, but had to be collected between 5.30am and 8.30am on day of disembarkation from one of the restaurants. This went smoothly as there were three collection desks and all packages were sorted by decks, which made them easy to locate. As the ship was due to dock at White Bay on return, early (7.30) or late (8.30) transfers to the Airport and Central Station were offered. I chose the Central Station one which was $A15 and not the $A13 as listed in the brochure. The airport one was very well priced but I cannot remember the exact pricing. Disembarkation was very smooth and a little earlier than scheduled. The transfer time from White Bay terminal to Central Station about 15 -20 minutes depending on traffic. Plenty of options for families – at a price for access to the Edge activities; also great for late night party players with drink packages and/or unlimited bank accounts! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We are a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) who have recently just returned home after a 7 night pacific island hopper cruise on the pacific dawn. This was our first ever cruise. We enjoyed parts of it but there was a lot of ... Read More
We are a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) who have recently just returned home after a 7 night pacific island hopper cruise on the pacific dawn. This was our first ever cruise. We enjoyed parts of it but there was a lot of disappointments that I would like to voice. We eat in both the pantry and the waterfront restaurants. I work in hospitality myself so I know a smile goes a long way and brings people back. We only encountered one male waiter in the waterfront-don't remember his name, who showed our children various napkin arrangements such as a chicken, swan,shoe,etc that he knew, which entertained the kids. All the other staff seemed tired and unhappy. Food was ok. Portions could be a little bigger and decorated more as I had ravioli one night with nothing with it, just ravioli on a plate, finished it in about 5 mins. Broccoli on many occasions was not cooked completely. Ice cream for dessert-only got two scoops for me whilst a child got 3 also with no decor. Desserts in pantry also not very nice, dry and very small, also long queues. We finally decided after the first few days would be a great idea to get a table before ordering food as we had to walk around looking for a table on first couple of days while food was going cold. The windows throughout the restaurants esp the pantry are so stained or dirty you can barley see out of them. I noticed on the second last day that the windows in the shell and bones restaurant are perfectly clear but either side of that the windows are stink. My husband let a supervisor know that a drinks menu was incorrectly written stating that Bulmers cider is from England, whereas it's made in Tipperary, Republic of Ireland where my husband originates from and did work there for a short time(bulmers factory). Nothing was done to rectify this problem. Google will tell you exactly where its from, don't know how they got that wrong. Also another problem that was not rectified was on the way home we and other guests noticed sparks coming from the smoke stack. They were flying back toward us, some landing very close to us and others sitting outside the pantry for a quiet cuppa.(tea and coffee was nice) Also not rectified, staff from the pantry came out and looked up and seemed shocked. Room was comfortable, we were on deck 8 with an obstructed view room. Asked for an upgrade on check in at reception but we were declined as the guy told us the ship was at full capacity. Shower was great and our room stewards were lovely. What was a big disappointment for us a family mainly was that kids club and edge adventures were understaffed. There were days we couldn't bring our daughter to kids club as they said they were understaffed and had no space for any more kids as they had 30 at that time. There was one day at 10am we brought her to be told they were booked to the max. We said fine we will bring her back, we put her on the waiting list for them to call us, they didn't. We brought her back at 2pm when they could take her. I picked her up at 5pm. We went back to the room to get ready for dinner when the phone rang saying kids club could accept her now as they had space. I had only just picked her up after her just being there for 3 hours. Did they not have it noted in their systems she was there? Well I'm sure they did but it's a bit unprofessional to be honest. There were a few adventures we didn't get to do as there was only 3 staff to cater for everyone on the ship that wanted to do edge. Long queues and to wait nearly half an hour then to be told you can't do it due to it being completely booked up. Staff seemed stressed and under pressure. Could of done with more staff esp in edge. I went to watch the sunrise with my eldest child, my 13 year old son on the second last day of the cruise only to see a used condom on the deck under the walk the plank, just glad my son didn't see it but still that should of been cleaned up before people were walking and jogging around the ship. There was about 20+ people on deck at that time and the cleaners only came out at about 6.30am ish when we were heading back to our room. Pool was small and very cold, we didn't go in, but not much can be done about that I suppose. Sun loungers were comfortable but hard to find. Spas were great, says 5 max in them at any one time whereas I saw one with 8 children in it at one time. We couldn't go to many shows at night as most were 18+ or on too late and our kids have special needs and could not be left alone or with a babysitter due to anxiety. We were all really looking forward to the white party, it started great for the kids but only ran for 40 mins,too short I think, then stopped and had to wait till nearly 10pm for more but by that time kids were exhausted so we went to bed, after really looking forward to it and getting dressed up. Photos are beautiful on the ship but a little over priced, if they were cheaper I think we and a lot more people would buy more. We met the captain and he was so lovely, chatting and signing our souvenirs for us. It's such a pity that I have to give such negative feedback about a holiday that we were looking forward to very much, but it's all true. We enjoyed our time I think more on the islands than actually on the ship. Would go on a cruise again but would give P and O a miss and try something else. Thanks for reading and hope this review may be of use to future travellers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I want my children and families to experience cruises however i did expect them to go out so far. a cruise just off north island would have been more comfortable. The Gatsby theme was fantastic as well as Scottish dancing classes. the food ... Read More
I want my children and families to experience cruises however i did expect them to go out so far. a cruise just off north island would have been more comfortable. The Gatsby theme was fantastic as well as Scottish dancing classes. the food in the restaurants was better than the pantry. The best thing was .. no tipping.. As this was my 18th cruise.. i enjoyed it. Even better , the cruise counts towards my elite status on princess cruises. The catering is well below princess but you have more fun on P&O. I have just come off the majestic princess around the med and then going on P&O was a surprise. I was annoy that they didn't reward customers for regular cruises, They should reintroduce it. Down under offer basic food unless you pay for better.. i am no snob and like both standards but people need to realize we are having a typical family holiday with nice staff and people. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Took my mother on a 10 day Barrier Reef Cruise (her 1st cruise).Everything went well, a smooth embarkation, The ship looked great, interior décor well done in the public areas, except for we were welcomed with a strong stench of raw ... Read More
Took my mother on a 10 day Barrier Reef Cruise (her 1st cruise).Everything went well, a smooth embarkation, The ship looked great, interior décor well done in the public areas, except for we were welcomed with a strong stench of raw sewerage which lasted the whole cruise , The rooms are very small and have extremely small balconies, seems it was only the public areas that was refurbished,with Explorer being a new addition to the P&O fleet, thought she would have been refurbished throughout, the carpet in our room & upholstery on chair was very soiled, but the room was clean, The food in The Pantry was disgusting, most hot foods being cold when you receive it or by time you get back to table. Desserts were uneatable, and didn't even have ice-cream on offer. Food in other restaurants was ok, if you could get in, or willing to pay for meals in other restaurants. Service on board was good, entertainment was great, especially Grant Gallea, should have a bigger dance floor for those wanting to participate in dance classes, a lot left due to lack of space . Had a fantastic time, on our shore excursion days, except for the schamozzle that happened at Cairns (have done 8 cruises and have never experienced this before) ,Cigarette smoke was smelt right through ship especially deck 7,and even on smelt on balcony at times, not to good for those people that are sensitive to cigarette smoke. Despite these problems, overall both had a great time. Did book a 10 night South Pacific cruise on board the Explorer, at same time as this, for February with husband, wondering how that will go. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We have done over 20 cruises but this was the first time on Pacific Jewel. Our main complaint was about the ship itself. It is old fashioned in its decor and lacking many of the refinements of more modern ships. The staff, as usual, ... Read More
We have done over 20 cruises but this was the first time on Pacific Jewel. Our main complaint was about the ship itself. It is old fashioned in its decor and lacking many of the refinements of more modern ships. The staff, as usual, were very good and could not be faulted. The food was also good and was well organised in the Pantry restaurant reducing waiting time. The Waterfront restaurant lacked any WOW! factor found in other ships so there was no feeling of elegant dining but again the food was good as were the staff. The ship lacks many features found in other vessels.......no art displayed or auctioned, the "library" consisted of a few boxes of discarded passengers books kept below the reception desk available on request, no indoor movie theatre etc, etc. For us there was one plus over many other ships.........we found we could relax on the main deck and even read without being bombarded with blaring music or screaming "entertainment" staff. When music was played, it was at a comfortable and enjoyable level. Well done. Just as well as there are no lovely indoor quiet areas!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
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