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330 P&O Australia Cruise Reviews

Long enough to experience cruises to ensure we'd enjoy them. The cleaning and catering crew worked tirelessly to ensure we had clean cabins and good food. Cruise crew did great job in organising on-board activities, tours were ... Read More
Long enough to experience cruises to ensure we'd enjoy them. The cleaning and catering crew worked tirelessly to ensure we had clean cabins and good food. Cruise crew did great job in organising on-board activities, tours were organised efficiently though some of the tenders used were not suitable to the level of mobility of some of the paxs. Watching paxs using walkers to board a vessel through a hatch was quite concerning for their safety. Also made disembarking a very slow process as those with mobility problems tried to exit for the mobile paxs, should have been staggered to allow more fluid disembarkation. My real disappointments of the cruise was the way I witnessed some of the officers taking to the junior crew. In particular one blond officer who publicly delivered what can only be classed as a tirade of verbal abuse at a staff member who was marshalling paxs for tours. It was not a good look. The other area was the lack of skill and expertise of the officers screening boarding paxs after shore tours. They were inefficient and generally rude, I've never experienced such behaviour with screening before. More training required in this area. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
we went as part of a wedding group, we were invited to attend a wedding on the cruise. wonderful time was had. Food was often cold, and bland. The fish at the Pantry is disgusting (can think of no other word for it) need to use a ... Read More
we went as part of a wedding group, we were invited to attend a wedding on the cruise. wonderful time was had. Food was often cold, and bland. The fish at the Pantry is disgusting (can think of no other word for it) need to use a different type of fish. The rooms were very clean and tidy. The staff were wonderful and so helpful. Bingo was great and entertaining but quite expensive for the few games you play. Bit disappointed with the confidentiality of some of the staff. Our daughter-in-law was only 8 weeks pregnant at the time of the cruise and it is a requirement to let the cruise know if you are. Seeing as they had paid travel insurance, and she had found out a few weeks before the cruise she thought she had best let them know. But they had not told anyone else!! Found out after the cruise that the cruise co-ordinator had told all the wedding group that she was pregnant as one of the other girls in the wedding group was pregnant also . Needless to say they were very disappointed as they hadn't even told family members, and did not want to take any of the glory from the couple who were getting married. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
My wife and I chose this cruise because of it's Mutiny On The Bounty Theme,a chance to follow in the steps of Captain Bligh and visit Norfolk Island with a guest lecturer onboard. It did not disappoint in this regard,Rhonda ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise because of it's Mutiny On The Bounty Theme,a chance to follow in the steps of Captain Bligh and visit Norfolk Island with a guest lecturer onboard. It did not disappoint in this regard,Rhonda Griffiths the lecturer was outstanding,add to this the rest of the entertainment put on by P&O and other than Music Cruises we have done,well done P&O. Boarding was late due to Medical emergencies which could not be helped but otherwise very smooth as was also our departure from the ship. This was the fifth Cruise we have undertaken across P&O.Princess and Royal Caribbean and it's important to compere not only ships but also the cost and reasons for sailing. The service was outstanding wherever we went and we both commented that it would have to have been the FRIENDLIEST cruise we have taken from both staff and fellow passengers. Dining met all of our expectations with only the exception of Dragon Lady which just wasn't to our taste and in the pantry cooked breakfasts had a tendency to be cold by the time you were seated,however we never experianced any seating issues when dining. The Marquee Theatre required seating 30 minutes prior to Shows to obtain preferred seating areas which we easily overcame,however Black Circus provided a challenge for popular shows. We booked Shore Tours through P&O at all destinations and were very pleased with all that we undertook,the only rushed one was at Norfolk Island,the Convict Settlement Tour. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We'd previously done the Pacific Islands Cruise on Pacific Dawn with P&O and wanted a cruise departure from Brisbane. Papua New Guinea wasn't even on our radar but the dates aligned and we thought 'why not'? We ... Read More
We'd previously done the Pacific Islands Cruise on Pacific Dawn with P&O and wanted a cruise departure from Brisbane. Papua New Guinea wasn't even on our radar but the dates aligned and we thought 'why not'? We booked our first balcony cabin and we wont go back to ocean view again. With school holiday pricing it was not a budget cruise like our first one but it was nice to treat ourselves. It's so nice to have extra space in the room as well as the deck which had 2 chairs, sunlounge and small coffee table. Our room (9070) had a great queen sized bed while our daughter slept on the converted sofa. She loved having her own space. There's loads of hanging and drawer storage too, though large suitcases wont fit in cupboards (tip..they will fit under the bed if left opened which is great for shoe storage) Our room had a bar fridge (other rooms don't). We were able to take our own soft drinks which was great given we didn't opt for a drinks package this time and saved a heap of money. The bathroom was fitted with spa bath which we loved. The toilet looked new and the shower pressure and temperature control were great. Our room stewards were brilliant as always and it was great coming back after lunch to an immaculately presented room. Aria is an excellent ship. Just the right size with good facilities and heaps of restaurants and bars to choose from. The decor is great and beautifully fitted out. The lounge are in the Atrium on level 6 is great for playing games or reading. There's always organised games here too and some cool prizes to win. We always found room by the pool on the sun lounges. The pool and 2 spas were crowded with kids but being school holidays that's understandable. The sliding roof is brilliant and the lounge areas to the side of the pool are very popular. We didn't get to go to the adults only area as our daughter decided HQ was not for her. (one day!!) The gym is amazing with great panoramic views. My wife is quite the gym junkie and she found everything she needed. She also indulged in a massage at the spa which we paid more than we should (the same massage was offered on the last day for much cheaper) Our daughter also got a great hair cut which she is busily instagramming everyone about. Food was generally good. The Pantry is a great concept and the food is better than the old buffet style with lots of variety. Some hit and misses but great breakfasts! Angelos Italian was very disappointing. Flavourless and bland. Dragon Lady was above average. Salt grill was sublime. The Waterfront is a beautiful restaurant but the service has gone down hill. I don't know if P&O are pushing for more business like service from their waiters but many have little personality and aren't friendly. Very robotic. There were of course some exceptions. The menu feels very limited and my daughter struggled to find anything on the main menu. Entertainment was good. Its very cabaret in style which is not to our liking but the movie theatre was great and the TV in the room had some good shows and movies. There's also a massive DVD library. We picked 2 but they were never delivered. Ports of call for PNG are hit and miss. Alatou was not very pleasant and not much to see if you don't do a planned tour. Kitava was missed due to weather. Kiriwina was good. Very cultural with heaps of markets and great beaches to swim in. The locals are very friendly and we enjoyed our outrigger canoe ride across the reef. The highlight though is Conflict Islands. Its paradise in one easy to navigate small island. Sublime beaches and snorkelling. Tip- take your own snorkel gear and make your own way to eastern tip of the island. Save yourself $100 in excursions which happen off the same beach. It's a beautiful walk along the beach or through the middle of the island. Weirdly this island doesn't use money, rather a voucher system. You have to buy the vouchers from a kiosk (long lines) and then use the vouchers at the bar, gift shop, water activities kiosk or restaurant. Food is pretty good and the bar is well stocked with local and international beers. There were no issues with gastro on board that we knew of. Disembarkation took us about 15 minutes, we were home in 45. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
To celebrate our 30th anniversary we decided to take a 3 day cruise which fitted in with work and having somebody to keep an eye on our kids while we are away. We had done a comedy cruise earlier in the year and had a great time so when ... Read More
To celebrate our 30th anniversary we decided to take a 3 day cruise which fitted in with work and having somebody to keep an eye on our kids while we are away. We had done a comedy cruise earlier in the year and had a great time so when the price and timing was right we booked. Embarkation, From getting to the overseas passenger terminal to sitting in the buffet eating lunch was no more than 15 minutes, certainly the fastest I have ever gotten on board, I think they started boarding early so there was absolutely no backlog when we arrived. The service The service was what we have come to expect from P&O, efficient and friendly but certainly different to what you might expect on a more upmarket line. The food, Its edible but not great, we had our first night at Angelo's, it wasn't special but considering the price (free) I am not complaining. The second night was at Dragon Lady where we had the share set menu, plenty of food, some of it was pretty good, the service was a little slow but we were in no rush so not a big deal. Entertainment We missed the comedians on the first night but those who saw them said it was good. The second night we did make the later show, Tahir was good but Mick Meredith probably by his own admission didn't have his best show, I have never seen a comedian so put off by some of the audience members and it definitely affected the show, to be fair on the comedian, a lot of people up the back wouldn't stop talking and one heckler tried to take over the show with some kind of vendetta from years ago, the result was a show more in line with a school teacher swearing at the class to try to get them to shut up while rubbishing the suburbs many of them likely came from The 3rd night we saw the Love Riot and had the pre dinner degustation, for $39 each we had a 5 course meal in a closed off area of the waterfront. * Zucchini sorbet - I gave mine to my wife who said it was OK, i dont like it cooked let alone frozen * Duck beast with pickle - nice but very small serve *Heart shaped pate with jelly served with orange and thin sliced toasted bread, it looked amazing and those who ate it said it was good, mine looked just as good when we were done because I didn't eat it. * Crab (and prawn I think) bisque - This one I did enjoy * Slow cooked beef - this was a thick piece of well cooked and extremely tender beef that fell apart as you cut into it, a little fatty for my liking but i was very nice * Desert - I dont recall the name they gave it so i will just have to describe it, orange spun toffee ball on top of a chocolate egg filled with a pink cream and the eggs was sitting o na piece of sponge cake, then they got hot caramel and poured it over the toffee and into the egg which caused the toffee and egg to melt, it looked amazing and tasted pretty good too but very sweet . After this the Love Riot performers turned up and escorted us to the show and our seats at the front , they gave us a drink in a complimentary glass and posed so we could get some photos. The show it self is probably best described as an adults circus musical with some very entertaining acts by very skilled and well rehearsed performers. If you are at all offended by anything of a sexual nature this is not for you as there is some very adult only content, they do suggest there is nudity but besides bums I think that is more to account for wardrobe malfunctions which no doubt occur on a regular basis during the show. Its worth noting, the Love Riot show is $15 without the dinner, $39 with it, my opinion, if you are going to do it, spend the extra $24 Itinerary The cruise was listed as having a stop in Eden but I wasn't sure if this was going to happen because it was posted differently depending on where you read it, as it turns out we did in fact stop at Eden, the first cruise ship to do so docking at the new wharf, before going to Eden I really couldn't care less about the stop but after the day there I am glad we did spend the day there, Eden is a very scenic port and many people saw dolphins, whales and seals from the ship while in port. The locals were very happy and excited to have us there and put on a lot of stalls and entertainment ready for us. The cruise overall We splurged a little being our Anniversary and had a balcony cabin which for 2 of us cost about $1,000, an inside cabin would have been around $600 but when you consider this includes food, accommodation and most of the entertainment its good value for what you get. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We won this cruise for 2 at Gosford RSL so we started out ahead, included premium drinks package. After reading reviews here I upgraded our cabin from Ocean View Room to a balcony cabin as my wife is a late sleeper and I could sit ... Read More
We won this cruise for 2 at Gosford RSL so we started out ahead, included premium drinks package. After reading reviews here I upgraded our cabin from Ocean View Room to a balcony cabin as my wife is a late sleeper and I could sit outside without disturbing her. Cabin was 11068 on deck 11 and I was concerned that we would get noise from the pool deck toilets which were above. As it happened we got no noise from above but some through the cabin door as we were directly opposite the lifts and stairs. Going from Sydney was great as we only had to get a shuttle bus from the Central Coast and we had a good view of the opera house before departure. It was great that we didn't have to worry about number of bags and their weight. We arrived before our boarding time but porters came and got our bags ane we were efficiently boarded and could get into our cabin immediately. The wife thought that the cabin was small but in the end it did have enough storage space for us and the layout was well thought out with the twin beds being comfortable. We had 2 large suitcases of the thinner variety which went under the bed easily. Our 5 smaller bags were collapsed into the suitcases when empty and we did bring extra hangers which wasn't really necessary. Cabin staff were great and there were several nice touches such as the towel toys and our choice of room cleaning times. We were too busy with the departure party too book specialty restaurants and in the end dragon lady disappointed us with the description of ramen chicken which ended up like KFC. Waterfront and shell and bones were both good but special mention goes to Luke's above the pool deck where we went back 6 times for lunch/ dinner. We also used the Pantry for breakfast and I discovered the healthy corner. Wait staff were Filipinos which was great and we did get too eat some Filipino specialties. For us the band entertainment was the highlight. We didn't have time to go too the shows, too busy with the live band dancing and Karaoke. Real highlight was when the Karaoke machine wouldn't start and the live band just continued on for a couple of hours doing the Karaoke. We attended both the Bianca and Gatsby Parties and had fun at both. One disappointment was weather related where we could not land on the 2 small islands. We got prompt refunds and bonus 75$ though which meant that they gave me money when leaving the ship. The tourist train in Noumea was good and we bought all our souvenirs and french wine at the supermarket. Also had a good Sushi lunch! The up-sell was annoying and we avoided most of it. Lifts were also difficult to use and we often used the stairs. Drinks were good, especially the cocktails. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Having been on only 5 cruises in 16 years ( on 5 separate cruise lines), we don’t qualify as frequent cruisers, but we do regard ourselves as seasoned travellers. Our most recent trip was on the Pacific Dawn, which we picked up in ... Read More
Having been on only 5 cruises in 16 years ( on 5 separate cruise lines), we don’t qualify as frequent cruisers, but we do regard ourselves as seasoned travellers. Our most recent trip was on the Pacific Dawn, which we picked up in Darwin on the way from Singapore to Brisbane. The cruise suited us as a 6-day relaxing way of returning home to Brisbane from a holiday in Darwin. We had read the range of reviews of the ship’s recent voyages, and weren’t expecting too much. Consequently, we were pleasantly surprised. Pacific Dawn is probably in its twilight years, but has many good features. Ours was an outside cabin on deck 6, so by no means upmarket. Compared with other cruise ships we’ve been on, both the cabin itself and the shower were larger and better appointed. The bed was comfortable. Everything functioned properly, and the cabin staff were attentive and efficient. Because the journey had commenced several days before we joined the ship, our social contact with other passengers was limited. Most seemed to be enjoying the cruise, but we did hear quite a few complaints. Happily, they weren’t issues that affected us. Of course, we weren’t on board to add any notches to our cruising record or to tick off any bucket list items, so that may help to account for our genuine enjoyment of the experience. Passing through the Torres Strait and around Cape York was fascinating, with helpful explanatory commentary from the Bridge. The ship’s route followed the North Queensland coast as far as Airlie Beach, and the scenery was spectacular. Our only stop and shore venture was at Airlie Beach. The process of getting ashore by tender was slow and a bit frustrating, but returning on board was quick and efficient. Every night the entertainment in the Marquee theatre was first-rate. We did find the cruise director’s regular verbal intrusions on the performances and other ship’s activities to be long-winded and unnecessary - she has verbal diarrhoea - but that was a minor irritation. There were plenty of the popular cruise activities like trivia quizzes, karaoke and bingo, but we didn't take part in them. The food, in both the Waterfront Restaurant and The Pantry bistro was quite good. We did book one specialty dinner, in the Shell and Bones Restaurant, and found both the meal and the service quality to be outstanding. The price was also reasonable, and excellent value. We understand that this may not be a ship for the jaded cruise palate, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Embarkation - we flew up to Brisbane (from Canberra) on the morning of the cruise, this is something we would not normally do as if flights are disrupted we could have missed the ship. We arrived at Portside at around 11.15am after a $30 ... Read More
Embarkation - we flew up to Brisbane (from Canberra) on the morning of the cruise, this is something we would not normally do as if flights are disrupted we could have missed the ship. We arrived at Portside at around 11.15am after a $30 cab ride from the airport. We were able to check- in (despite our time being 12.30) and it went fairly quickly despite the line, as we were on the ship by 11.45am. We went straight to the Waterfront for lunch and we were told the rooms were already accessible. The ship - Pacific Aria - it was clean and tidy and relatively good condition despite it's age. We like the design of this class ship and with only around 1200 pax aboard it doesn't feel crowded. The cruise passengers were mainly Queenslanders, with family groups and such but not that many children. Overall it was a fairly old demographic (I would guess the av age around 70+). Service was excellent all around the ship. Food was good in the Waterfront (4 nights) and excellent in Dragon Lady (3 nights) and Angelos (3 nights), and the pantry had great selections with Mexican, Asian, indian, sandwich, fish and chip, roast, salad and dessert stations. The waterfront was open for lunch every day (even port days) and we used it often as well as for breakfast most days. Ports Alatou - we used Jaywood tours ($60pp for the two of us), which was good and they took us all over the place visiting numerous sites and highlights. We would recommend utilising the Cruise PNG page on FB which has numerous recommendations. If you want the Cultural show, Alatou tours is best utilised or the ship's tour. Kitava Island - we couldn't tender due to winds, but we were going to swim and snorkel. Rabual - we used Scenic tours ($85pp and we were put on a bus with around 10 others). It was the Volcano, town and WWII tour and was excellent, it took close to 7 hours and mainly due to road conditions slowing the drives. Kirawina Island - we swam and looked at the stalls and the village, took a canoe ride, it was low tide so snorkelling was difficult. This is the place to buy any woodwork as the selection was huge. Use up all your Kina here as well. Conflict Island - great island beautiful swimming and snorkelling. Food and drinks ashore are reasonably priced and you need to buy vouchers for the purchases (they accepted AUD and Kina). We took 210 Kina with us and had bought some dresses and shirts for our granddaughter as well as some drinks, the rest was used as tips and gifts as well as swapping our left over Kina for AUD at Kirawina as they cannot change the AUD. Debarkation - had to be out of the cabins by 6.30am (explains why the rooms were ready so early on embarkation day), we did the walk off and was in a cab by 6.45am. Overall, the cruise was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We always said we would not cruise with P&O Australia as it always receives such dismal reviews but they offered a cheap Auckland to Brisbane 4 night comedy cruise and we thought let’s try it as it is better than flying and if we ... Read More
We always said we would not cruise with P&O Australia as it always receives such dismal reviews but they offered a cheap Auckland to Brisbane 4 night comedy cruise and we thought let’s try it as it is better than flying and if we hate it it is only 4 days, We have cruised all the cruise lines and over a 100 cruises so are the first to admit a little jaded and critical. Well we were impressed with the decor of the ship on boarding as the public rooms and pool area are very modern in decor and still in good condition. The staterooms are original Holland America decor but still tidy and comfortable and very spacious. We had stateroom 10062 with a balcony which was a good position for the pantry and access to the pool etc. The food overall was good in all restaurants and the service was excellent and much better than we thought it was going to be. The production shows were fantastic and some of the best shows and singing we have seen on a ship for a long time. There were lots of activities on during the day and with lots of children on board it seemed to keep everyone happy. The drinks at the bars were priced ok and included all service charges unlike HAL and Princess who add 15% on top of the menu prices. The staff were all friendly and very efficient and so nice to see Pacifica staff onboard to add to the flavour of the cruise line being based in Australia and NZ. It is definitely a family oriented ship but a few too many children for our liking as we are at a stage in life that we like a quiet time. Well done to P&O and your wonderful staff you managed to impress us! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Our 1st ever cruise was some 10/12 years ago on P&O Pacific Star. Well, haven't things changed (for the better). We were very happy with the offering from P&O and in particular the crew on board the ship. They were a credit to ... Read More
Our 1st ever cruise was some 10/12 years ago on P&O Pacific Star. Well, haven't things changed (for the better). We were very happy with the offering from P&O and in particular the crew on board the ship. They were a credit to the Company and although the ship is an older vessel (certainly showing external signs of age) the vibe on board was friendly and efficient and the crew appeared (primarily) to enjoy their job. Admittedly we did have lower expectations having travelled with the more highly rated Celebrity and Princess Lines, however we were overall quite impressed with the majority of aspects onboard. A special mention to the bands. . . both Popcorn and The Lazy Leis were fantastic and the jam session on the last evening involving all performers was truly memorable . . . very talented. On board crew shows were excellent, a couple of guest performers are past their use by date and appeared to be simply topping up their super. Production shows were considered to be a significantly higher standard - crew shows were particularly entertaining viz LipSync Battle. Having Petro Civoniceva on board was a nice touch as well. . .thanks to him for his valuable time and open participation. A couple of constructive comments . . . the Tendering situation needs work - whoever made the decision to honour the tickets from the aborted tender operation in Port Douglas in preference to distributed tickets for Dili needs to consider their future. . . a real howler. Actual Shore time was significantly reduced in both Dili and Bali due to sea swell and the large number of Ships Tours and "Priority" passengers. Made our own arrangements re a tour in Timor Leste and also Bali - understand cruise coys favour their own shore excursions though we prefer the small group experience v's a coach load. Anytime dining in the Waterfront took a few days to sort out - many passengers had made permanent bookings which meant there was initially up to an hours wait for anytime dining - this resolved itself after 4 nights when some perm bookings were a no show and therefore cancelled. Could easily do with an additional lunch menu in the Waterfront restaurant for variety . . .only 2 menus for the 14 days. . . though there was the variety in The Pantry. Drink prices are excessive though consistent across all lines - what did happen to duty free prices??. . .would like to see a similar policy to that of Princess. . ie allowed to bring a bottle of wine pp onboard. There was sufficient entertainment with usual trivia etc however big screen movies were heavily weighted in favour of children's themes and animations - this despite the small number of children on board. Special mention to the Captain for his accessibility and daily broadcasts - very approachable and informative (luvs his "Minions") . Upon arrival in Singapore, we skipped the long taxi lines and got the MRT direct to the Airport for flight back to BNE. Very efficient disembarkation, despite the fact the ship was advertised as docking at Marina Bay - instead we turned up at Harbourfront - this caught many off guard. Singapore has such a great public transport system - even with luggage. Extremely happy with our decision to revisit a P&O Aust classic ship - overall a good value for money cruise - we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Having downsized our large property after our children left home we’re now in a situation where we can spend money on traveling to the places that we have been dreaming about for years, the question was where to start first? Having done ... Read More
Having downsized our large property after our children left home we’re now in a situation where we can spend money on traveling to the places that we have been dreaming about for years, the question was where to start first? Having done a reasonable amount of Australia when our children were growing up, we decided that a trip to our local House of Travel in Motueka to investigate cruising was the best place to start. Friends and family had already been on Princess Line cruises with great feedback on how much they had enjoyed themselves. After seeing what was available to suit our schedule and what we considered to be the best value we decided on the Fiji Encounter with P&O and promptly booked and paid for our tickets. Excitedly we returned home and started further researching our dream breakaway only to be horrified by the online reviews of what seemed to be the holiday from hell so if you’ve just found yourself in this situation I want you to take a breath and relax, Pacific Aria is not five stars but be realistic you haven’t paid for five stars so if you board Aria with a determination to have a great holiday you won’t be disappointed. The ship; Pacific Aria is the smallest ship in the P&O fleet but still packs in all the features that you would expect on the larger ships just on a smaller scale. I would have to say that the Aria is not the greatest ship that I’ve traveled on after we encountered a few days of rough weather, neither of us suffers from motion sickness but there were onboard reports of our fellow travelers struggling with the conditions. Our advice would be to take a sea legs tablet the day before you depart and keep taking them for the remainder of your cruise if you’re concerned about seasickness. We had a balcony room on deck 10 and the condition of the room had lost a bit of its gloss from new and could do with a refresh up. Still, it was very clean, and our room Stewart’s were amazing at keeping it spotless. Again, the Aria is not five stars and we spent very little time in our cabin anyway. The restaurants and bars have faired better and still retain a lot of the original shine. Dining; This is where we feel that the Aria has been unfairly slammed the most in online reviews, so we took special note of what was on offer. The Pantry, is where you can eat as much as you like pretty much when you like and has a good selection on café type food it looked well stocked and clean we only had one quick lunch here and it seemed to be on par with other cafes that we’ve grabbed a quick bite at when in a hurry. In short nothing spectacular but by no means bad. The Waterfront restaurant is where you can dine for all three meals on sea days and has a varied menu with great service. We tried a bit of everything, and it was nicely prepared if slightly lacking in imagination. Again, they’re preparing a lot of meals and dealing with a lot of dietary needs, so we gave them a solid 7 for food and a 10 for service. Angelo’s is one of the two specialty restaurants onboard the Aria that is included in your fare and is well worth a visit. We dined there twice and sampled both menus A and menu B. Angelo’s has beautiful décor and good service. We gave Angelo’s an 8 for food and an 8 for the overall dining experience. The Dragon Lady; “Wow” This is not what we expected when we paid our fare, we would have to rate Dragon Lady as one of the best restaurants that we’ve dined at. This is qualified by over forty years of combined experience in the hospitality and service sectors. We gave menu A, a well-deserved 10 and Menu B a solid 8. Service was exceptional. We dined there on four occasions and would’ve gladly eaten there every night. This is the best GF menu that we’ve ever seen, anywhere! Just needs another GF dessert option on menu B. Salt Grill by Luke Mangan; This is billed as the best dining experience onboard P&O and is the only place where you have to pay an additional surcharge so we were looking forward to something special and at the risk of upsetting our Aussie brothers and sisters we were underwhelmed with both the menu and the service. The food is good, it’s just not as good as it’s hyped up to be and we found the service to be slightly arrogant. In fairness, I do have a GF diet so maybe some of the ingredients had to be removed from the dishes, but this wasn’t an issue elsewhere on Aria. We gave Salt Grill a 7 for the food and a 7 for service. Entertainment; this is where the Pacific Aria shines as the production shows held in the Marquee are world-class with slick choreography and singing which is supported by great lighting and sound. Our favorite was Johnny Balance the Comedian Magician who had us laughing so much that it hurt. Name that tune with Georgie, Cruise Director Cole’s morning Trivia, Bingo with Cameron, Pacific Popstar and the riotous Rock the Room were some of the other standouts for us. Unfortunately, the Ocean Bar is just not big enough for all of those wanting to participate in the fun. This is also where the Aria fell short with the themed parties that were a bit of a let down as we had visions of us dancing the night away in a grand setting, but full marks must go to Cole and his wonderful team. If you can’t find something fun to do on the Aria, we would suggest that you check your pulse. Music and Bars; There is a range of theme bars with matched live music that is of a high standard our favorites were Kawai and Ian Berry, but they were all great. As far as the bars go the Blue Room was the standout for us due to the excellent service and late-night coffees. It’s a great place to chill out reading with a premium coffee during the day or to enjoy live music and a cocktail in the evening. We would also like to rebuff the online nonsense regarding short poured drinks as the drinks that we watched being made were always prepared using the correct standard measures. Bar hygiene was also of a very high standard. We weren’t cruising with any children of our own and there was plenty on board, but we hardly ever saw them we can only assume that they were locked away in the engine room or having the time of their lives in the kid’s clubs and pools. Shore excursions; These were of an acceptable standard for us but we would suggest that P&O send some undercover team along from time to time to make sure that standards are being maintained our tour guides were great on the bus but left us to our devices once we arrived at our destinations. We found a lot more was on offer once we moved away from the group and went exploring on our own. The standout was the amazing cultural shows and singing. The only bad point was the tender trip into Port Denarau which took an hour in very hot and humid conditions. Overall, we had a great time cruising with P&O and would do it again on one of their bigger ships but in saying that the letdowns due to the size and age of Pacific Aria were expertly papered over by the outstanding crew. Pacific Aria is still a fun place to spend a value-packed holiday and a great introduction into the world of cruising. David and Gaylene, Motueka NZ. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Chose this cruise as Fiji, Mystery Island & Mare were destinations not previously been to. Whilst the weather cant be controlled by P&O the destinations & experiences are controllable. Upon arrival in Suva on a Sunday the ... Read More
Chose this cruise as Fiji, Mystery Island & Mare were destinations not previously been to. Whilst the weather cant be controlled by P&O the destinations & experiences are controllable. Upon arrival in Suva on a Sunday the tour guide on the bus informed us that on Sundays most attractions are closed but at the end of the tour would take us to the only establishment open on a Sunday being the local souvenir establishment. It doesn't make sense that P&O would schedule a cruise to arrive at a major destination in Fiji on a Sunday when venues are closed. Would have thought adjusting the sailing schedule by 1 day to arrive on a Monday is a simple solution to this disappointment. All other aspects of the cruise were amazing, cabin staff were outstanding as was the entertainment with special mention to Joanna & Rory from the entertainment team & food on offer was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Having been on an earlier cruise on the Pacific Jewel we decided to do a longer cruise on the Pacific Aria. The ship was smaller and more intimate than the Jewel but parts were quite dated and we noticed an almost musty smell in our cabin. ... Read More
Having been on an earlier cruise on the Pacific Jewel we decided to do a longer cruise on the Pacific Aria. The ship was smaller and more intimate than the Jewel but parts were quite dated and we noticed an almost musty smell in our cabin. The service could not be faulted from the housekeeping staff, the entertainment, the restaurants and we felt the food was superior in the Waterfront to previous although not so keen on the pantry food. We were fortunate enough to be gifted a lunch at Luke Mangins Salt Grill and the steaks were absolutely the best we have ever had and would give them a 10+ We felt this ship being smaller was more rockier than previous but it may have been due to the weather. Special thanks to our Room Stewards Viddy and Elmer for helping us and making our stay just that ore special with their service. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I booked this as a quick cheap getaway for a few days and it was pretty inexpensive. Embarkation and disembarkation were super easy, probably because customs wasn't involved. The condition of the ship was better than expected as ... Read More
I booked this as a quick cheap getaway for a few days and it was pretty inexpensive. Embarkation and disembarkation were super easy, probably because customs wasn't involved. The condition of the ship was better than expected as I had read reviews that it had seen better days but it was very nice and no obvious signs of wear and tear and certainly better than some ships we have been on. Lots of areas to lounge around including window seats but these were popular with the teens and 20 somethings, plenty of other sitting areas including lots of sun lounges on decks. I booked an interior cabin which is something I haven't done previously but as it was quite cheap and only for 3 nights I thought why not. The cabin was 10214 and located aft and at the end of the corridor, this I booked deliberately so no passing traffic and away from lifts and family rooms etc. The room was as expected small but clean and tidy and in good condition, just dark I wouldn't book an interior again because of the size and darkness and for the sake of a little more in price, I need light and fresh air. Overall the cabin was certainly acceptable. The shower was compact as they mostly are and we managed to squeeze in although if you were on the larger size it would be a tight squeeze. The water temp was lukewarm at best after about 3pm, so if you wanted a shower before dinner then it was a cold one. The bed was difficult to get in and out of due to the lack of room on either side and the mattress springs gave us some free acupuncture until I requested and received a mattress topper, which alleviated the issue somewhat. A clock of some sort would have been good as to tell the time in the morning as it was so dark it could have been 3 am or 11 am- this I didn't like and we missed breakfast in the restaurant because we overslept. We had cabin 10214 which is the last cabin , so no passing traffic which is perfect. I chose this cabin due to its location and not the deck above (11) as that was directly under the gym, then again maybe noise from the gym goers might have woken me earlier. No choccies at night and I had to remind the steward to bring us our pre-ordered water but all in all, pretty good. Food- well this was a downer for a range of reasons. We prefer to eat all our meals in the restaurants BUT they were all booked out. We attempted to eat in the Asian and Italian (included in fare) restaurants but were told by staff that they were booked out for the whole cruise. When we pointed out that they were actually empty, we were told that they have been prebooked and passengers hadn't shown up yet but they couldn't give the tables away incase they did. We found out from other staff that this is an ongoing issue, especially with short cruises. We ate in the main restaurant one night and the food looked good but was cold and this was an ongoing issue with all food on this ship, whether it was in a restaurant or the buffet, it was always cold. Restaurant staff seem uninterested and confused and the whole dining experience is unorganized and understaffed. Maybe trying to cut costs with less staff?? The main restaurant the "Waterfront" is disappointing serving cold food that should be hot and getting a drink proved to be a challenge. Some of the meals on the menu are included in your fare but the "better" ones are at a cost. This goes for Breakfast Lunch and Dinner menus, which was a bit of a surprise. Dining in the Specialty restaurants (if you can get in) is at the marked price on the menus, not a "cover charge" as they do on other cruise lines, so this can add up to be quiet a bill if you're not careful. Buffet food was served by staff at stations which is a good idea to prevent the spread of germs (BTW no one washed their hands entering the area, nor were they directed to, as on Princess). Food in the buffet was of a good variety and impressive but COLD. The design of the buffet doesn't really work as the flow of diners is impeded by queues of diners at each station, so doesn't work very well. There is also a coffee station for barista coffee which also formed a long queue which snaked its way across the path of those trying to get to a food station. Staff in the "Pantry" seemed uninterested and slow to pick up plates and don't offer to get you a coffee, juice etc at your table as they do on other cruise lines. Getting something to eat is the downfall of this ship, its disorganized, cold and mostly at extra cost. Iceream, burgers pizza etc is all extra which was a surprise as it has always been included on other cruises we have done. Entertainment- This was a Comedy Cruise which wasn't the reason we booked but an added bonus. Shows were excellent but as the venues are small it was hard to get a seat with a lot of passengers sitting on the floor. Shows were 18+ but kids were still "allowed" in with some being young children under 10etc which I don't think is acceptable and seemed to throw a few of the comedians off as they "censored" their jokes as to not offend. Staff do not police the 18+ rule. Pools- pools are clean and well maintained as are the hot tubs, not too crowded but it was June and a little cool outside. It was impossible to find deck staff for a towel or blanket and there are no towel/blanket stations to help yourself. Bars- all very good, some staff better than others. Love the Oasis Bar at the rear of ship. Very crowded on sailing out of the harbour but that's to be expected but hardly anyone there at other times. Shhhh don't tell anyone. Their programme of events isn't very informative or inclusive of all events and nor does their on-board app work. They have information screens but these either don't work or aren't up to date, so finding out what's on or where is difficult, even for a seasoned cruiser. first timers would struggle. Would I sail on Pacific Explorer again?- Maybe but would book a balcony especially on a longer cruise. Lessons learnt from this cruise- 1. P&O fares are cheaper but with all the extras you have to pay for it works out the same if not dearer than other cruise lines 2. Demographic is made up of families and middle-aged couples with a few older passengers and groups of "cellabrators"- 30th/40th/50ths, bucks/hens groups etc 3. Don't book inside cabins- not worth the saving of a few dollars 4. Pre-book restaurants otherwise, you can't get in. Maybe P&O need to look at how they manage this better. 5. Book aft staterooms - less traffic and away from family rooms with easy access to lifts and outside. 6. No kettle/ Tea/coffee facility in cabin 7. Not included in fare eateries such as burgers,pizza, icecream on pool deck or anywhere. 8. Some entertainment shows are an extra fee 9. Be prepared for a bigger stateroom account due to extras having to be paid for such as shows and food. 10. Theme nights are only just a small event and hardly mentioned or attended. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was a last minute booking as it fitted with time off work and was inexpensive. We are Elite on Princess but have cruised with P&O several years ago and were not expecting it to be of the same standard, however we were ... Read More
This was a last minute booking as it fitted with time off work and was inexpensive. We are Elite on Princess but have cruised with P&O several years ago and were not expecting it to be of the same standard, however we were pleasantly surprised. The ship is small so easy to find your way around and very nice inside, quite different to other ships we have been on, more like a modern Hotel. Our room was a ocean view on deck 4, all we could get at that late stage, but it was quite large compared to some of the rooms we have been in on other ships. The only issue was machinery noises from below at night and the air conditioning that had a mind of its own and no matter where the controls were set varied between freezing cold and hot. We normally take the traditional dining option on Princess but did enjoy the options of the different dining rooms - Angelo's, Dragon Lady and the Waterfront. The food was what you can expect on a cruise ship and remember it is not expensive. Some meals were very good and some not so good. It was necessary to book well in advance if you wanted a specific time, in order to see the shows and while this was ok on a short cruise we would still prefer the Traditional dining option - same time, same table, same people, same waiters on a longer cruise. There was no shortage of variety as although the menus were quite small they changed every 4 days. We only ate in the Pantry at lunchtime and breakfast on shore days when we had early starts. There was a huge variety to choose from and generally the food was good. It was a little disjointed though having to go to different stations to put a meal together. Best to find a table then check out what you want, and then get to the stations with the longest queues first otherwise the hot food will be cold. The entertainment was excellent, the production shows, guest artists and live music was as good as any we have seen on a cruise ship. Sideshow alley, the magician/singer duo, and the Hawaiian Comedian were stand outs. Embarkation and disembarkation was very well organised, as good as we have come across. The Tendering process was poor, we gave up in Lifou after waiting over 1 1/2 hrs in the morning. And when I finally went ashore in the afternoon it took over 2 hrs from the time I joined the queue for the return journey, all the time standing in pouring rain - not pleasant. It is a small ship and therefore there are not the facilities we are used to. There is no hot tub in the adults area and as the main pools were freezing cold the two hot tubs in the main pool area were always full of children. It was the school holidays and we understood that the capacity of children allowed on board was maxed out. There are no wine lists in the bars - only in the restaurants and although there was a good range of wine in the restaurants it was very limited in the bars and there was different availability in the different bars. Bottled wine was in the $30 to $60 range with reds in Angelo's generally more reasonable than a good Chardonnay anywhere on the ship. It was good to see the ships security policing the R18 shows and adults only areas and crew removing towels from loungers that had been left by lazy and thoughtless passengers. The Unesco Heritage site snorkelling trip in Noumea was a highlight despite poor weather conditions. Expensive but well worth it, one of the best snorkelling sites we have been to in many years. Sharks, turtles, lots of tropical fish both small and large, moray eels and great coral. Having a guide with us made it feel much safer and they knew the best spots to go to. On a sunny day this would be stunning!! The shore excursion to Mare was also good, nice beach with easy swim to some coral reefs with some brightly coloured tropical fish. Due to poor weather we did not get to visit Mystery Island. Overall a good cruise and certainly value for money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Before traveling we read many negative reviews about this ship so our expectations were quite realistic. It was a taster cruise to see if I could handle the seasickness and being on board for days in a row. We had an amazing time and ... Read More
Before traveling we read many negative reviews about this ship so our expectations were quite realistic. It was a taster cruise to see if I could handle the seasickness and being on board for days in a row. We had an amazing time and could find little fault. For the price we paid, we didn't expect the highest quality food or the most luxurious accommodation but our meals in the specialty restaurants were fine. Yes the serves were small, but extra dishes could be ordered. I loved the smaller serves, compared to the huge meals served in most restaurants everywhere these days. The staff were amazing. Nothing is too much trouble. We found the entertainment to be excellent with something for everyone. I am sure there are more glamorous ships on offer but we went with an open mind and a positive attitude and enjoyed the whole experience. On this comedy cruise we laughed our way across the Tasman. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We picked this for a cheapie weekend away, and to check out Pacific Explorer having traveled on Carnival Spirit twice for a total of 17 nights and RCI Voyager OTS for 9 nights. We have always had balconies and will continue to book them ... Read More
We picked this for a cheapie weekend away, and to check out Pacific Explorer having traveled on Carnival Spirit twice for a total of 17 nights and RCI Voyager OTS for 9 nights. We have always had balconies and will continue to book them for longer cruises but as this was a shortie we decided to check out an ocean view stateroom instead. Lots of groups on board celebrating milestone birthdays, bucks, hens etc. Not many children evident, possibly due to being a 3 nighter. This was a Comedy Cruise, however we found most of the comedy to be pretty disappointing. Just the luck fo the draw on this I would say. Embarkation took about 25 minutes, no complaints. However, White Bay v.s Circular Quay is really a pain, particularly on the return as we were heading straight to work. Sailing away under the Harbour Bridge however is fantastic. Muster held indoors and seemed pretty well done. Indoors means you are more comfortable, can hear and so are more likely to pay attention. Our room # 8234 had a lovely big picture window but was certainly smaller than any we have previously been in and the bathroom is tiny. Both my husband and I commented that we would struggle with this on a longer cruise. We may have felt a little less confined if we had a balcony. It was adequate for a short cruise, and our attendants were lovely and did a great job of waving their magic wand over the room twice a day. Wish I could bring them home with me. The internal areas on this ship are lovely, certainly nicer than Spirit and perhaps even nicer than Voyager. I love how the evening party events are in the atrium and seem to draw you in from anywhere. Entertainment vibe was very good all over the ship. I feel P&O do this very well and seem to "get" Australians. Lots of lovely bay window nooks around the ship to curl up in for a chat or a read or just to people watch. These were a lovely find. External: pool deck fine, love the artificial grass on a lot of the outdoor areas, seems to make it less slippery. The adults' area at the back did not really appeal to us, it does not help that a smoking section is on the port side of The Oasis at the rear. We just could not really warm to it, but perhaps are biased after loving Serenity on the Spirit. The front adult area is lovely, with pretty lounges, but no permanent bar there and mostly unusable for the short time we were on due to the fact that it was usually too windy. (expected on moving ships at the front). Food: Pantry was OK, and I do like the fact that most of the food is served to you and not handled and coughed all over by everyone. I would rate it as 2.5 stars overall. I love the idea of three different styles of venue so that you feel that you are dining in a different restaurant each evening. I also liked the smaller more intimate feeling of them. Husband, however, felt that he prefers the larger MDRs on other ships. The fact that you have to line up and book on the first day however in order to get a table is a pain in the butt and for the life of me, I cannot work out how they cannot have a better system like other lines seem to manage. Big downside. Food was generally OK - good in the restaurants, in fact overall I thought the MDR was more consistently OK than the last time we were on the Spirit. Over the 3 days we had all dinners in one of them, 2 breakfasts and one lunch. All quite enjoyable. Drinks: Corona $AU8, cocktails about $AU12. Gym: very small. Lots of opportunities to pay extra for the usual things, including food, however we did not feel the need to spend extra on a 3 night cruise. Staff all very friendly and Explorer is a nice pick for a short trip getting away from it all. Would consider again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise to PNG as we wanted to experience something different. I don't understand why some cruisers give such bad reviews. I did my research I knew what to expect and the Aria is a nice ship and much better than I ... Read More
We chose this cruise to PNG as we wanted to experience something different. I don't understand why some cruisers give such bad reviews. I did my research I knew what to expect and the Aria is a nice ship and much better than I anticipated . I have no complaints re the food ,I enjoyed most of the meals and we tried all of the restaurants We were on deck 10 room 10070 . I had read some complaints about this room because the cabin staff had their work station opposite us but we were not bothered by any noise and the work trolleys were not in our way. If we walked out of our room and the staff was there my Husband told them we could be bribed with chocolate! It was a great location just a short walk to the adults only area and bar . Yes this area needed more shade. We have cruised with 3 cruise lines and the shows on this cruise were the best we have seen. The was plenty of activities ,trivia on the sea days was a lot of fun just for the laughs. Staff were always smiling and happy and I have no complaints re the service in the bars and Restaurants. If you are expecting 5 Star food and service you will be disappointed go with an open mind and don't fret it something isn't perfect and you will enjoy yourself. The Tendering could be improved but we got to all of the destinations as we were lucky enough to have calm seas. It was a bit rough on the way home the captain kept us up to date and he advised us about the seas, he was quite funny when he told us in his Italian accent he would give us a nice ride home. Embarking and disembarking was the most efficient I have experienced an any cruise line Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our first cruise on the Dawn ( been on all the others), was a bit worried as other people had reported it as a bad experience. However, I was very satisfied. We were lucky with the weather and got ashore all ports, P&O ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Dawn ( been on all the others), was a bit worried as other people had reported it as a bad experience. However, I was very satisfied. We were lucky with the weather and got ashore all ports, P&O organized some lectures on board which was very interesting. Alotau - been twice previously, there isn't really much to see there. There was two new places to go drinking - one just after leaving the dock on the left, it was a big hut with natives singing and playing instruments. Beers were $5 or 10 Kina. Keep walking and arrive in town and a new resort ( Imperial I think ), it was really good with new pool and great gardens ( it was full of Aussies) beers were $5.50 or 11 kina. Ship tours were available but most people didn't like them. Lots of beetle nut chewing and spitting everywhere, also watch out for pick pockets here. Kitava Island -Tender ashore. Very lovely place, lots of natives selling junk ( I mean interesting items). Everywhere there is schools singing and hospital etc people after your money - make sure you take some small kina with you as they have nothing and all is appreciated. Snorkelling is good especially over the small island ( 5 kina a trip- by speed boat or sailing vessel) Kiriwina Island - been once before. They put on a big dancing show and usually a cricket game ( but bus broke down so no cricket this time), people follow you everywhere wanting you to pay them small money to show you around. You need to go past the small island to find any coral alive and the shelf drop off is where the fish etc are at. Rabaul - been once may years ago. You can just get off and get a tour ( the same company I used 3 years ago) less then half price from ship. Interesting thing I noted - the ship tours travel in convoy with a armed guard in first van and a spare empty van at the rear in case one breaks down. The tours to volcano and old war sites are interesting and now have air conditioned vans. Not much to see in town. Conflict Islands - never been - beautiful - It's owned by some rich Australian I heard. Everything is expensive beers are $10. Walk to other side of island and swim out to the coral and fish ( fair distance but it's salt water so can float most of the way ), great for coral and fish ( probably the same as the best I have seen at Mystery Island). No locals to hassle you. Cabin - Was a 4 berth but only two of us, but it was fine for size and clean. We had lots of problems ( air conditioning, cold water stopped, plug stuck in sink, noisy neighbours ) but reception got it all sorted so that was fine. Food - There is the Waterfront and Pantry for free eating, we never bothered with the Waterfront as we heard it was booked out after 1 day ? Pantry food was fine, of course it was crowded at times but you could always find a seat or stool somewhere. Dessert bar had too many cakes as usual, but did have fruit salad, but no ice cream. The Orient ( where most trivia's etc was held was very noisy from the bar and ice crushing machine going all the time. Atrium as usual had very little seats, almost impossible to get one for shows or trivia's etc. Entertainment was OK, a few fill in shows, but that's normal. Duty Free - what a joke , it should say extra duty, drinks were at least double prices in Vila. Exchange rate on the ship from Bank was $1 = 2 kina. Entertainment team were OK, Cruise director Ben was a very bubbly person and always said hello to you, seemed a really nice guy. Unable to walk all the way around the deck 7 only up and down each side. Get to gym early ( it says opens at 6:30am, but it was always open at 6am. Beers on board ranged from $6 up and wine was $9.50 up per glass. No tender tickets were used on this cruise, just line up early. Laundry was 3 x $1 coins for washing, we just hung up our clothes in room to dry. Overall it was a great cruise, especially as we met such lovely people on board ( mostly from Brisbane of course ). Prices for cruises out of Brisbane are more expensive then out of Sydney. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We enjoyed this cruise very much, partly because it was our first time to New Guinea but perhaps also because (this being our fifth cruise on 'the Dawn') our expectations regarding this old tub were blunted long ago (I say it ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise very much, partly because it was our first time to New Guinea but perhaps also because (this being our fifth cruise on 'the Dawn') our expectations regarding this old tub were blunted long ago (I say it fondly). Though built in 1990 and last refurbished in 2017, she looks about my age (70 this year). We're both a bit tired and very wrinkled. To begin with, there were two big negatives (and a few smaller ones). First, having boarded at 11am, I did not receive my luggage until about 5 pm, when a note was attached to our cabin door telling me (peremptorily, because that's how you treat suspected crims) to visit Deck 3, where my bag would be opened in my presence and the contraband therein (identified by an unknown but not too efficient process) extracted. I did as I was told. The culprit, an innocent bottle of Gaviscon, was nestling on top of my shirts. Without apology (though without rudeness either) the young staff member hastily allowed me to depart. He did not even sniff the contents. No doubt he could tell (from a few remarks of mine) that such a move would be unwise. I think my anger was justified (though it was not the young man's fault). Maybe I should have known better. But if P&O were half as concerned with good customer relations as they are with their profits from alcohol, they would tell customers very clearly in pre-cruise advice not to pack bottles in their luggage. This would seem to be simple enough. The second hiccup occurred when we retired that night (early, as befits our age and health). Our cabin was close to the atrium where loud music continued until well past 10 pm. Throb, throb, throb. Next day, our cabin was exchanged with no fuss and, indeed, the young lady on reception went out of her way to be pleasant and helpful. Mind you, we were initially warned that an exchange might not be possible because P&O ships tend to sail fully booked. So, good luck, rather than P&O management, was mostly responsible for the good outcome here. The food in the Waterfront Restaurant is not good at all, very hit and miss. We booked for five evenings, but did not survive the first. I had a positively monstrous concoction: a base of dry rice and/or couscous (I couldn't tell what it was), black in colour and tasteless (another diner later said it 'looked like dirt and tasted like dirt), topped with a very few pieces of battered eggplant and artichoke. My friend had sliced beef that was so salty as to be inedible. Some diners at our table were happy, but we did not return to the Waterfront, and from the number of complaints we heard about its food we evidently made the right choice. The Pantry was a different story. The food varied from OK through good to excellent. The curries are nothing short of superb, and are served with a great range of condiments, chutneys etc. It is a pity, though, that the cheapest quality short-grain rice is used in this Indian (and Asian) food. It rather spoils it. My only other complaint about food in The Pantry is the bread served at breakfast, which is clearly obtained from Coles (the $1 per loaf stuff). Another negative: a so-called 'market' is held in the Dome once during the cruise, and involves some of the merchandise found in the Atrium shops. But while a very few items may be reduced, most are not. I checked out the mugs and Billabong shirts ($18 and $70 respectively, as in the shops). Nothing but a grand deception! The musical entertainments on this cruise were also good. The Drawbridge Duo was 'standing room only' every night and deserved their popularity, as did an African American solo pianist. We don't go to the nightly stage shows, because on past cruises on this ship they have been either cringeworthy or ear-shattering or both. The talks on the wartime history of the places visited were very worthwhile. One of the most striking features of a cruise on the Pacific Dawn is the easy going friendliness of staff and passengers alike. The staff cannot be faulted (though one girl on the breakfast toaster was always a bit grumpy - not a morning person, but we can empathise!). Smiles and greetings are frequent and natural. The same applies to the passengers, who are very friendly on the Dawn. All in all, a very enjoyable trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
My husband and I commenced this cruise with some trepidation due to the large number of negative reviews. This was our first cruise with P&O, our 4th in total. This was the last voyage for the Pacific Jewell. 1: EMBARKATION from ... Read More
My husband and I commenced this cruise with some trepidation due to the large number of negative reviews. This was our first cruise with P&O, our 4th in total. This was the last voyage for the Pacific Jewell. 1: EMBARKATION from Melbourne was simple and efficient. 2: CABIN: We had an interior cabin. It was clean and tidy. Quite spacious with lots of storage. Only one Australian power outlet but we were able to get a power board. A ceiling water leak developed half way through the cruise. This was rectified after we reported it. Bed was moderately comfortable. 3: DINING: The Waterfront restaurant menu was disappointing in range. Service was efficient and staff were friendly. The Pantry had a good range of food and unlike other reviewers I found the food to be of a good standard. What I particularly like about the Pantry is that staff serve all food thus eliminating people touching and coughing over food and spreading germs. All the food is behind glass partitions. I found the sweets selection to be limited. Staff in the Pantry were friendly and helpful. It was disappointing that some items of the menu in the Waterfront was not included and an extra fee was charged. We did not try the pay restaurants. I was also a little disappointed that you had to pay for ice-cream on the pool deck. I have never come across this before. 4: ALCOHOL. There were problems quite early on with different brands of alcohol being in short supply and they eventually ran out of many wines and beer. While I was not personally impacted by this my husband was quite often unable to get his preferred beverage. I imagine that the people who had purchased an alcohol package would have been very upset, and rightly so. An alcohol package for us would have been a waste of money. I would suggest that you do your sums prior to getting a package to see if it is worth it for you. It made much more financial sense for us to purchase a drink when we wanted. 5: INTERNET: I purchased an internet package for $79, unlimited time for the entire cruise. Connection was available in all public areas but not in staterooms. The internet worked very well. 6: The ENTERTAINMENT TEAM were great and do a great job keeping everyone occupied on sea days. They all had a great sense of humour. We thought that the shows were varied and of a high standard. 7: THE EDGE: I won an Edge experience. I chose to Walk The Plank. I'm so glad that I did not pay for this. It lasted maximum of 90 seconds and would have been a complete rip off if I had to pay $24. While I enjoyed it I felt that the experience should have been longer and as I was the only person booked in to do it I could have been given extra time. 8: ROOM STEWARDS: We had Joseph and Dennis look after our room. They were very friendly and worked very hard. Our room was always well serviced. 9: PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: We went on only one shore excursion and that was in KL. I found that it was well organised and the price was moderate. We found that we saved money by arranging independent trips at all other ports. In Fremantle and Busselton we found it interesting to wander around the towns with no tours necessary. We visited the old prison in Fremantle. That was worth a visit. 10: DISEMBARKATION: Quick and easy. 11: ATM: It was handy to be able to get Australian dollars on board for shore days. 12: CURRENCY: We used money changers at all international stops and seemed to get reasonable exchange rates. We deposited money into our cruise account prior to embarkation. This worked well for us. We got a refund of unused money the night prior to disembarkation. 13: LAUNDRY: The onboard laundry was good. Always very busy. It costs $3 AUD for the washer and $3 AUD for the dryer. Only takes $1 coins. 14: SPA: I had a massage which was relaxing. Quite expensive at $149 for 60 mins. My husband an I were both given $50 vouchers to be used at the spa as we were first time cruisers with P&O. This enable me to have a hair cut. I also purchased some Elemis products. We liked the size of the Pacific Jewell but as it is no longer part of the P&O fleet we would happily try another P&O ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We found the embarkation to be okay but it didn't run as smoothly as Sydney. ( our hometown). The ship Aria we found to be very small compared to other cruise ships we have been on. These are the points we enjoyed about the boat. ... Read More
We found the embarkation to be okay but it didn't run as smoothly as Sydney. ( our hometown). The ship Aria we found to be very small compared to other cruise ships we have been on. These are the points we enjoyed about the boat. * Small & intimate - easy to get around. * Pools were never crowded so easy to get a deckchair . Deck 10 pool was empty most of the time so great for relaxing. We just didn't like the chairs as very uncomfortable. * Bars all had a nice ambience especially the Blue Room. * Limited children onboard. Dining - the best All we can say is thank goodness for Salt Grill Restaurant as we dined there most evenings . The food & service were outstanding for a cruise ship. We also loved the Chef's table - excellent yummy degustation with interesting people. So, so - restaurants. Dragonlady - food was cold & horrible... the worst restaurant on the ship. The Waterfront - okay food but the menu didn't change which made it boring. Ambience & atmosphere, service was excellent. Angelo's - okay but nothing to write about. Just average. The Pantry - Not enough seats - horrible dining experience. We felt like we were living in a boarding school. However; we did like the salad bar & curry bar the best. Breakfast - on our balcony which was blissful although the food was pretty ordinary. Casino - We found the staff to be unfriendly & unhelpful . We did have a few wins on the roulette table & pokies which made our evenings fun. Entertainment - good quality entertainment. We enjoyed the comedy shows the best. Service - Level 10 staff were fabulous - especially our butlers. Great having free laundry done everyday & our ice delivered to the room. Drink package - we wished we hadn't brought it as we found it hard to use it up everyday. Overall - We did enjoy our cruise, especially having a suite & dining at Salt Restaurant which made our cruise more memorable. We also loved visiting PNG islands , villages, schools & hospital. A suite is a MUST on this ship.... Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Departed Bne on Sat 16Feb - departure delayed due strong winds from Cyclone Oma. Instead of 2pm - departed at 10.30pm which meant we had to miss Noumea. Captain & all the crew were very helpful & because Bne Port was going to be ... Read More
Departed Bne on Sat 16Feb - departure delayed due strong winds from Cyclone Oma. Instead of 2pm - departed at 10.30pm which meant we had to miss Noumea. Captain & all the crew were very helpful & because Bne Port was going to be closed on the weekend, our cruise was extended by 3 days & we did get to visit Noumea. Some rough seas. We were on Deck 5 & water went completely over our window on a couple of occasions. But it was the best cruise because the Captain was constantly updating us & the Cruise Director & staff did their best. Free champagne on the Gatsby night & because we docked at Fisherman's Island, they provided free shuttle buses to the usual port. Food was good, loved the Pantry & always managed to find a seat. Tried Shell & Bones Restaurant & had lobster - delicious & only $29 extra. All in all the staff were wonderful & we got 3 extra nights for free. Entertainment in Theatre was spectacular. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I chose to do this cruise as I had never been on one before and thought a short one would be a good introduction. The overall cruise was lots of fun but there are some less than great things. This ship is the oldest and is about to ... Read More
I chose to do this cruise as I had never been on one before and thought a short one would be a good introduction. The overall cruise was lots of fun but there are some less than great things. This ship is the oldest and is about to be decommissioned, you can tell. The rooms look very tired and the colour scheme is so early 90's it sometimes hurts. But on the flip side, the bed was really comfortable and the shower was fantastic! The Pantry...This was really crap. The food that is included in your fare comes from here. Its fatty and made from low quality products. I struggled to find something that I wanted to eat. One dinner there was seriously nothing. I'm a dessert lover and often the desserts were really bland. The pannacotta was tasteless and the custard was so thin it wasn't even custard. The onboard activities were so much fun! Trivia and bingo were my favourite. The stand up comedians were also hilarious. The gym was basic but still very functional! I went every day. Now my number one peeve - up-selling of products! The seminars they run are a ploy to get you to buy something. I was really mad at this. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I have not previously done a short cruise so when the price and timing worked in with our life we booked around 5 weeks from sailing in a twin berth ocean view level 8 right near the back. Embarkation Not sure why but they started a ... Read More
I have not previously done a short cruise so when the price and timing worked in with our life we booked around 5 weeks from sailing in a twin berth ocean view level 8 right near the back. Embarkation Not sure why but they started a bit late but it was quite smooth once it got going, before getting on I had a good look at where our cabin was (we only found out days before) so when I got on I was able to make my way directly to our room which was ready, by chance we saw our bags on the way so grabbed them as well on the way to the room. The Cabin The rooms on Explorer are not huge but for 2 it was adequate and comfortable, the windows on level 8 outside (where the life boats are not) are huge and offer a great view out and somewhere to sit to admire the view. The bed was comfortable, the AC and fridge worked as did all of the things that are supposed to work but the shower was locked at a just warm temperature that I would have liked to be hotter Food An important feature of cruising to many and if its the most important thing to you P&O is not your cruise line, 3 night cruise allowed us a night in each free restaurant and no need for the pantry, no meals were great but all OK Entertainment Really good, there were 4 comedians on board who did a range of shows which I really enjoyed, the only criticism would be the venue for the late comedy shows was too small and even half an hour early there wasn't many seats. One of the PG shows was a mime act which was also great. besides the comedy they also put on a "rock of the ages" show which was 45 minutes of non stop entertainment and a fantastic show. Service Our room steward asked us early how often we wanted our room cleaned which I found unusual, normally its daily with a nightly turn down but for our first 2 days we were happy to go along with not being disturbed by it only having the towels changed over, the last day he cleaned up for us doing a really good job of it and he did the turn down, I kind of feel he was a bit lazy with us but at the same time I didn't mind it and to be fair if there was anything we wanted he provided without hesitation so I am actually going to say that was a good thing as much as I am sure plenty of others would not have been so happy with it. Other service throughout the cruise didn't stand out either way for the most part, the future cruise lady was really helpful and went out of her way to help us, dining staff were efficient, friendly and accommodating with the more senior staff doing the rounds to make sure we were happy at most meals. The ship I often read reviews where it seems some people have a terrible experience because of things like "they allowed somebody in the dining room wearing a T shirt" or "the ship needs repair" or "I noticed a rust mark" or my favourite, "the chairs look old", if this is you spend twice as much for a newer ship on another line because it is a 20 (plus) year old ship and it does show signs of its age but for me that does not detract from how much enjoyment I can get from it, in fact some of my more memorable cruises have been on ships not long before they are retired from the fleet, Pacific Sun, Celebrity Century and the Pearl. Value Everywhere you go there seems to be something to spend more money on, while giving me a free short massage as I was walking through they tried to sell me a hair cut and shave for around $120 which I found outrageous and every meal seems to have "indulgent" items to spend more on. The free food venues close at 9 so if you want something to eat after that you are paying for it but with a little will power its easy enough to say no to the extra items. With the above in mind however it was a good value cruise, P&O bank on you spending more money during your cruise to make up for the cheap fare and while I do spend some money whether it be a beer with a meal or buy something from the shop it still ended up cheap for me and certainly my on-board spend was no more than it would have been with any of the more expensive lines The drinks package Being a 3 day cruise you cant have the alcohol packages (not that I do normally) but they still offer the 2 non alcoholic packages, $7.50 per day for soft drink only or $19 a day (if pre booked otherwise its $25 on board) for mocktails, coffees, juices, water hot chocolate, iced chocolates or soft drink. My wife paid the $19 per day before we left and probably got the value from it whereas I drank water and free tea from the buffet and had 2 or 3 bears a day for around the same amount of money which worked out better for me (and probably healthier as I didn't drink more than I needed trying to get my money worth) To sum it up I have now been on 9 cruises in 7 years with 4 different cruise lines on 7 different ships, mostly P&O and I am yet to have a cruise that I didn't enjoy, your more upmarket cruise lines are better for a lot of reasons and deserve a loyal following but for me I love cruising so much I prefer quantity to quality (most of the time), this doesn't mean I wont spend more to go on the other lines but I do spend a lot of time looking for the good deals which do come up if you are prepared to be flexible, my problem is that when I am looking I normally find much better value deals with P&O that I cant resist :) Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
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