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1,398 P&O Australia Cruise Reviews

Before this cruise I had been on only one previously, on the Legend of the Seas. I was keen to find out how this would compare. Unfortunately, the holiday did not get off to a good start, as the engines broke down on the previous cruise ... Read More
Before this cruise I had been on only one previously, on the Legend of the Seas. I was keen to find out how this would compare. Unfortunately, the holiday did not get off to a good start, as the engines broke down on the previous cruise and the ship was a day and a half late returning to Brisbane. This led to changes of the itinerary, and the news that we would not get to Vanuatu which was disappointing. This was unfortunate, and I can't speak for everyone, but the group I was with did not let this dampen our spirits. When we finally boarded almost two days late, but after a very smooth check in, the party began. There was a band playing up on the deck all night - in fact it seemed as if there was always music around the pool regardless of what time it was. We got to our room, and they were significantly larger than they had been on my previous cruise. Talking to the stateroom attendant, who I must complement for his exemplary service, he said they were the largest of any ship he's been on. We went to the buffet for dinner on the first night, which in hindsight was probably a mistake. The food was good but not great, and the ques were massive. The following night, when we went to the dining room, we enjoyed excellent food, brilliant service and a far nicer atmosphere. Especially on the first night, it seemed that everywhere you looked there was someone trying to sell you a drink or souvenir. This was great if you were thirsty, but not if you didn't want to pay $9 for a Corona. This was one one of my main criticisms of P&O, that everywhere you looked they were trying to take money off you. Bottled water, which was free on Legend of the Seas, was very expensive on Pacific Dawn. Entertainment on Pacific Dawn was great. There was very few times when I wasn't doing anything; in fact I often had to miss activities as there is simply not enough time in each day. Shows in the theater during the day were the highlight of entertainment, along with the late night comedy shows. The shows in the theater provided some brilliant moments of entertainment. For example, when they had a cooking demonstration the cruise director was busy eating the first dish and didn't see the chef pour a bowl full of chili into the second dish. All eyes were on her as she took a mouthful and then ran from the stage to get a drink. Hopefully, if P&O want the Pacific Dawn to keep cruising in the long term, they will do something to fix her engines. Ive seen plenty of reviews about where they have broken down, and they are also very loud when you're in the dining room if the ship is going quickly. One thing I found liked was that on the last sea day we were able to go on a tour of the ships kitchens and also the backstage area of the theater. It was interesting to see the conditions that the staff have to work in. There were five key things I liked on Legend of the Seas that Pacific Dawn did not have. 1) A deck enabling you to stand up the front. The Pacific Dawn sort of had a deck like this, but it was closed half the time. 2) A lounge where you can sit on the highest deck and watch all four directions. The Dome is the Pacific Dawns version of this, but shutters were lowered at 6pm each night, ruining the view. 3) A rock climbing wall and mini golf course. I don't necessarily want these exact features on every ship, but something other than a pool up on deck would be welcomed. 4) Everything was contained on four decks; 2 down the bottom and 2 up the top. On the Pacific Dawn everything was spread everywhere, which complicated finding things at times. 5) Soft drink packages. For a couple of dollars a day you got unlimited soft drink on Legend of the Seas. P&O needed a drink package of some description. Of course, the Pacific Dawn had features I liked about it that the Legend did not have. Finding a drink waiter was never a problem. There was much more in the way of entertainment and the ship had a nightlife, whereas the only nightlife on the Legend was in the casino. The laser show on the Pacific Dawn was also very entertaining. Overall, the Pacific Dawn is a beautiful ship, and is a cruise well worth going on. Make sure you're in the mood to party, as it is perhaps more aimed at a younger age group than other ships are. There was certainly never a dull moment, and I would not hesitate to go on this ship again. The original itinerary for our cruise was Noumea, Lifou and then Port Vila. However, due to the delayed start to the cruise it was changed to Noumea and Divine Island. Noumea was an interesting place to visit. Everything is very expensive there, except for duty free alcohol. We got a litre of Jack Daniels for about $20. If you want to go on a tour of Noumea, don't bother booking it on the boat. As soon as you get off the boat there are plenty of tour operators who will give you the same tour for half the price. We took this option, and went on a tour of Noumea. There were three main things I noticed. 1: It is very hot. I'm glad the bus was air conditioned. 2: Noumea is made from hills. Its not hard to get a good view of the surrounding area. 3: Taking the Tchou Tchou train is not a good idea because it broke down halfway up a hill due to its engine overheating. Apart from going sightseeing, there is not much to do. Activities such as go karting etc. are available, but they are no cheaper, in fact some are more expensive, then Australia. For lunch we went to a local bakery, and bought some Noumean beer. The beer we had is called Number 1...and I might give it a miss next time. However, they do make another called Manta which is apparently nicer. After this we got back on the ship and that evening we headed off to Divine Island, with a band playing to farewell us. If you looked at a cross section of Divine Island, you would see ocean, sand, forest, sand ocean. The only things on the island are a couple of huts. The ship brought over a bar so you could have a drink on the beach (at ridiculous ship prices). We were told the snorkeling would be good, and it was reasonable, but unfortunately it was too close to the surface and I found it difficult to snorkel in 40cm of water. In addition, it appeared quite lifeless, at least compared to what I saw when I went snorkeling in Vanuatu. We got onto the island at about 10:30, and left at about 12:30 to get back for lunch. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our second cruise, but first P&O. We can't really fault P&O, the main problems we had were with our fellow passengers. We are a married couple in their late 20's from Sydney. Pros: Our cabin steward (Ronaldo) ... Read More
This was our second cruise, but first P&O. We can't really fault P&O, the main problems we had were with our fellow passengers. We are a married couple in their late 20's from Sydney. Pros: Our cabin steward (Ronaldo) was fantastic. La Luna was outstanding. Food at Plantation buffet was surprisingly good. Food at Waterfront was consistently good. Lifou and Pentecost Island were amazing. Large range of organised activities meant you could do as much or as little as you wanted. We did trivia each day and went to a Martini Master class. Cons: Drinks service at Waterfront was very poor. Production shows were awful. Bars were too small and not enough of them (very hard to get a seat at Connexions in the evenings). Comedians weren't very good. Our cabin smelled like cigarette smoke for the first 2 days. Our cabin was under the theatre and the stage seemed to be used constantly for rehearsals - sounded like a herd of elephants were jogging on the spot. My husband got sick from the steak at Salt Grill. But the worst thing about the cruise were the other passengers. We did meet some lovely people at dinner each night, but en masse it was a nightmare. Rude, mannerless people constantly cutting in line at the buffet, heckling the musicians, smoking constantly, complaining about everything, kids in the adult pool. And stupid too - we saw one man waving his glass under the hand sanitiser unit trying to get water out of it (and this was half way through the cruise) and another lady using her hand to push the lever on the water dispenser rather than her glass. If we cruise P&O again perhaps a New Zealand or Tasmania cruise would have a more sophisticated crowd. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Well the cruise was good, but the rough seas saw to a fair bit of seasickness. The staff onboard, with the exception of a couple of disinterested types with no idea of customer service, were fantastic. Food was brilliant; did not once ... Read More
Well the cruise was good, but the rough seas saw to a fair bit of seasickness. The staff onboard, with the exception of a couple of disinterested types with no idea of customer service, were fantastic. Food was brilliant; did not once get a bad meal. Entertainment was superb & far better than I expected to see. The only bad points were: Laborious attempts to get people ashore via tenders which resembled a keystone cops type of farce. 2 hour + waiting times to just get a tender. People queue jumping to hog tender tickets. A staff member crying because people complained about the delays. Why does a ship visit a port with just 1 space for tender offloading, leading to a banking up of vessels? The drinking water was absolutely disgusting. No wonder people were ill. Some shore tours didnt go well, but that is more the issue of the people running the tours rather than P&O. A glass bottom boat that was so green you could not see anything. A tour guide being rude to patrons. Offerings on the tours not as described. That said, I still say it was a very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We are a middle-aged couple just returned from J019, a 14-day Fiji Adventure on Pacific Jewel. In general we enjoyed our cruise - the food, accommodation, entertainment and crew were all good and we were blessed with fair weather. We ... Read More
We are a middle-aged couple just returned from J019, a 14-day Fiji Adventure on Pacific Jewel. In general we enjoyed our cruise - the food, accommodation, entertainment and crew were all good and we were blessed with fair weather. We received no pre-departure package, so we arrived at the dock without bag tags. The staff there were helpful and we soon filled out our own tags and joined the queue. Our cabin was a mini-suite, which was spacious, well laid out and reasonably well furnished, although some of the upholstery was stained. Cabin 11130 is under the pool bar area, and we often heard the boom of loud music and the scrape of deck chairs being re-arranged. We would have preferred a shower recess rather than the bath/shower. Also, the shower water temperature wandered which was annoying. Initially the room was too hot for the doona, the only bedding, but following a technical visit things improved. The food was excellent. The buffet was kept well supplied with fresh refills, supplemented by eggs cooked to order at breakfast, and a carvery for other meals. The main dining room offered fine dining with excellent service. Congestion could be a problem at peak hours, but the meal times were generous so we went late and avoided the rush. The speciality dining venues were worth the extra expense. We used room service for morning tea and toast which was invariably cold. DIY, or a local tearoom is needed. The activities programme was extensive and catered to most tastes. The evening floor shows featured an excellent dance troupe with visiting artists such as singers or comedians. Some of the activities were held in venues which were much too small, leaving many standing. So our first experience with P&O was positive, and we'll consider another cruise, but not to the South Pacific again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect when we committed ourselves to a cruise to "somewhere" warm, in the middle of winter, so we went into this experience without any preconceived ideas or opinions and ... Read More
As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect when we committed ourselves to a cruise to "somewhere" warm, in the middle of winter, so we went into this experience without any preconceived ideas or opinions and without any other cruises as points of comparison. A couple of pre-trip aspects were not particularly well covered eg Despite paying for our trip about nine weeks prior to departure, we did not receive our travel package until six days before we set out for Sydney. This meant that we were unable to do any pre booking of shore trips and, consequently missed out on the popular ones that filled up quickly. Two days prior to our departure we received a telephone call detailing the embarkation arrangements and telling us that embarkation would be on a deck-by-deck basis, with times allocated to each deck. We arrived at the check-in and found that this was not the case and that embarkation was being carried out according to what time you arrived for check in These were two minor points that actually did little to detract from an overall worthwhile experience Briefly - Our cabin - An "upgrade", or so we had been told a few weeks before we left, but is high up and right at the front necessarily better than lower down and mid-ship. Not really, when boat movement became accentuated. Nicely appointed with enough room, an excellent en-suite and storage , comfortable beds etc, , mirrors to give the impression of more space but no fridge. The Ship - 20 years old, but it has had a recent refurbishment. I thought it had everything, almost There were noisy places and quiet places, busy bars and not-so-busy bars. It would have been good to have a TV screen which showed the ship's progress, other than the map on Deck 12 which had the course pencilled in. The deck crew were always present, cleaning and maintaining the vessel The food - Great selection in both Waterfront and Plantation always well cooked and presented. We tried both and didn't feel a need to go to the surcharge restaurants. It did get crowded at times in Plantation but the long hours meant that there was plenty of time when it wasn't. Booking Waterfront was more of a hassle. Reservations opened at 8 am, but were usually full by 8.15 am. The cafe made excellent coffees and hot chocolates and the coffee machine in Plantation provided drinks and Pastries for early (5.00 am) risers The crew - polite, usually friendly, efficient. The captain's talk on the running of the ship was an early highlight. He held my attention for a full hour and a half with his information and sense of humour. I'm pleased to see that tipping is going to be re-organised later this year. It seems unfair that a room steward can automatically get recognition but any other staff member has to be named and nominated. They are all doing their job. it is the extra smile or attitude that is displayed that sets one above another. Some staff seemed genuinely happy to be serving the passengers, while a few treated you as if you weren't really there. Entertainment - The Cirque Pacific artistes were top-quality. The Pacific Jewel dancers/singers were excellent, polished and professional. Yes it was the same eight people singing different songs and doing different dances, but it is a reflection on their talent, that they are able to adapt to the different themes of their shows and put together such a quality performance. We also thoroughly enjoyed Mr Fish. The other keynote entertainers gave mixed performances, with some placing too much reliance on the audience singing along and tired old jokes. A bouquet to Sarah Jane the Cruise Director and her team for keeping the various programmes humming along, with enthusiasm and a genuine wish for the passengers to have a good time. The karaoke sessions saw the usual range of talent, or lack of it, but the final of the Pop-stars competition was a real highlight. Ports of call - Some people were very uncomplimentary about Noumea. Personally I liked the place. Our choo choo train ride (paid for on shore) took us past beautiful beaches, resorts and affluent neighbourhoods. The city centre, near where we berthed, is quite old and dilapidated in parts, but it is also the largest city in Melanesia, a major port and industrial centre and its funding comes from a colonial power on the other side of the world. Mystery Island, Lifou and Isle of Pines were all beautiful spots, giving a view of how these Pacific Island people live and Vila was a long lane of market stalls and waiting taxis and minivans, unless you went further afield to do Duty Free shopping or on a shore tour Shore tours - we did one ship arranged excursion and two independent trips. The only difference would be the cost. Why are the P and O trips, for the same experience so much more expensive? Is the company receiving an overly large proportion of the cost for each trip it sells? Don't necessarily expect your guide to speak English, or to be too forthcoming with information about what he is showing you, although they do vary. The numbered tickets for the tenders was a good system, with very little waiting and the ship's end and, if you decided to leave the island before the deadline, the queues weren't too long there either Overall we enjoyed our 10 days. I am a nervous sailor. We met some interesting people who were all out to enjoy themselves and who contributed to making our cruising experience a memorable one. Thank you P & O and the passengers and crew on JO21 Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Pacific Jewel - Pacific Magic - J027 - 27 August to September 6, 2010 Us I've travelled a lot over the years (a former travel agent, then financial services, now rehabilitation counsellor), and got reacquainted with cruising last ... Read More
Pacific Jewel - Pacific Magic - J027 - 27 August to September 6, 2010 Us I've travelled a lot over the years (a former travel agent, then financial services, now rehabilitation counsellor), and got reacquainted with cruising last November 2009 on the Diamond Princess (Asia to Sydney) quickly followed by the NYE to NZ cruise on Sun Princess, both as a solo cruiser. My name is Debbie and I am now a cruisaholic. I went into this cruise trying to have no expectations, I'm rarely a whinger and go with the flow. I met my partner before I went on these cruises but pushed away his advances until I got back hehe. Told him if he wants to be part of my life he must love travelling and cwoozing (and dogs, washing, ironing and cooking LOL)! So with that, I booked this cruise 2 weeks before sailing, after changing jobs and cancelling a few other cruises on Royal Caribbean South Pacific, Princess South Pacific and Princess to South America because of work, I will start with saying P&O were not my first choice but they fitted into my schedule. My partner went on the Fairstar in 1980 something and has had a few land trips to Europe and even walked the Kokoda Track a few years ago. I'm an official SKI (spend kids inheritance) at the ripe old age of 51. My partner is a couple of years younger (I'm a cougar hahahahahaha) Embarkation at Wharf 5 Being Sydneyites with all the intentions of getting there at 11.00 am, we finally arrived at 2.00 pm LOL Bag drop off was quick with plenty of P&O staff directing. They handed out the green immigration card and health card to fill in, then onto the very long queue for check-in. I thought we would be there for hours but it took about 20 minutes, then through immigration and up the gangway. All up about 30 minutes from bag drop off to gangway. Cabin Now to check out the cabin and I was pleasantly surprised. It was bright and airy with plenty of storage. The "pay for it" robe and slippers where there and thanks to this forum I knew not to open them (I never read directions lol) , but the big disappointment was the balcony. We had 102XX, aft, and I sat on the deckchair and couldn't see a thing except white metal, and even though I'm a midget my very tall partner couldn't see anything either. The balconies on Deck 10 are very narrow and closed in and it had an odd smell. The timber balcony furniture was in desperate need of replacement. I believe the Deck 11 balconies are more open. Unfortunately, we did not really use the balcony. Oh well, such is life. I'm not going to let this spoil my cruise! So onward to check out the ship. We had a quick whiz around, stopped at the Aqua Spa to check out the thermal suite, but decided at $199 for a couple, and no heat beds (like Princess) we probably wouldn't use it. Then muster was called so back to the cabin to get the lifejackets and do what ya need to do. Our cabin steward was pretty slack (thus I left my cabin number out). In fairness it was his last cruise on a 9 month contract and he was dying to get home to his new wife and start making babies. I sent laundry out (all the clothes covered in cow shyte - read below LOL) and it took him 3 days to bring it back, although, he even admitted he was slack in bringing it back. Sailaway There's nothing like it eh? Lots of action happening on deck, music, dancing, drinks. The buzz of sailing away out of Sydney Harbour is never under-estimated. I love it! We left on time and enjoyed the goings on. Then back to the cabin to get changed to meet up with chopper62 and robg54 at Connexions at 6 pm. It's funny how you know who people are. There were heaps of people there but I spotted chopper62 and his wife immediately with no prior visual. They had that cruise forum look about them LOL We chatted for about 1.5 hours but no Rob and his wife to be seen. We then went to the dining room for dinner and onto the Marquee for the Welcome Aboard Show. Shows/Entertainment I thought the shows were very good and a great mix of daily activities and entertainment. After reading about Zoltina-J here I was concerned but all that was alleviated. I found her to be a great CD with a great personality and perfect for the job. Bingo with Bobbi was also fun and once again, she'll make a great CD some day. Only wished we'd won though LOL. The jackpot only got to $5100 at the end. The Pacific Cirque were awesome. Doing their thing without nets or clipped on. On Island night it was windy but the ship slowed and turned so they could perform "Syzygy" which was fantastic. They also did a show, the "Vignette" in the Atrium one night. Make sure you got to Deck 6 or 7 to see this or front row of Deck 5. We managed to see just about everything that was on offer and I could not complain about the entertainment. Drinks I'm a non-drinker but I thought the price of alcohol was expensive for a cruise ship. They had some mocktails but would make up anything you wanted which was great. All the bar staff were great. The Cafe and the other coffee shop/bar in the atrium made great coffee. Casino Well, ya just gotta love the casino when you win LOL We did alright and came out in front. I also won a helicopter flight for Port Vila in the casino raffle but as it was only for one, we had to buy another one at $99 LOL. The staff here were helpful and friendly and the bar staff always on top of things! My partners complaint was they switched the satellite to beam in the AFL so missed out on the NRL although they did replay the games later at night. Don't know why he bothered....his team, the Rabbitohs got hammered by my team....the Dragons. If you were on the ship you will know who he is as he had the bloody green and red jersey on A LOT! LOL Ports/Sightseeing Noumea - fortunately I didn't book any shore tours although I was interested to go over to Amadee or Duck Island. The weather was lousy so we decided we would do the hop on hop off bus that I'd read about. When we got off there were tour operators in the cruise terminal offering tchoo tchoo train ($25 pp compared to $59 pp for ship's tour) and island tours. All the operators advised us the aquarium was closed on a Monday, so we chose the tchoo tchoo train and had a ball as there were a lot of fun people on the train. If you had booked the ship's tour to do the Aquarium they were opening it especially for the ship. We came back then went out to Lemon Bay ($10 pp return in a shuttle) for lunch. Can't remember the name of the restaurant but it wasn't that good, then had a yummy ice cream and coffee and back to wander the streets of Noumea and back onto the ship. So most of bag Noumea, why do they stop there? The Captain advised that if we want to go to the other islands they must stop there for immigration purposes. Suck it up folks! There was no problem using Aussie dollars here although I had some pacific francs. Lifou - did our own thing. Tender port, no dramas. Wandered over to Jinek Bay for the snorkelling we were looking forward to (took our own gear but you can hire it on the ship for about $45 I think), but I was very disappointed, as were others who had snorkelled there before. Not sure if it was because it was low tide, but not the best, although it was nice to swim in the sea! The water wasn't overly warm and I lasted about 30 minutes before I began to freeze. I don't understand why P&O don't pay to get the steps fixed! Surely it won't cost them much. They are dangerous. There are markets and massage here also. Aussie dollars OK as well. Take $5.00 notes and coins for $3.00 items, and change their coins for them if they ask! A couple of people were disgusted they were asked to change coins (get a life folks! They can't cash them). When they brought the tenders in one got a buoy wrapped around it's propeller which they didn't realise until the brought the concrete block up with it! Kinda funny. They spent forever trying to unravel it. Port Vila - Extreme sports day LOL. Lashed out on shore tours. We started with the Buggies and had an absolute ball, although they did try to slow us down. The warning was you will get muddy.....we ended up getting covered in cow shyte. So funny!!! Well worth it, except for slowing us down! Next we had the Jetboat which was fantastic fun. We got absolutely drowned but way better than any other I had been on, however, I have not done the Shotover in NZ and another couple said the shotover was way better. We had a blast. Next for a freebie (almost) helicopter ride. At $99.00 it was only 7 minutes and I wouldn't pay for it but it was an awesome view, complete with turbulence, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Some people off the ship came to book direct, and they were still charged the ship's price. Duty free shopping - smokes and alcohol super cheap. Everything else such as electronics/cameras/perfume on par with OZ or what was on the ship. We went to the waterfront for coffee and wandered around the markets here. Aussie dollars are OK. Stopped at the markets winding up to the ship for a look see and to pick up island night stuff. Saw Chrissy and cashed some coins and gave her a large cash donation for the hospital. Wala - what a beautiful stop. Tender port, no dramas. The snorkelling was fantastic and we saw lots of Nemos hehe. I found Nemo yeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. The ships Pacific Daily said the walking tours offered by locals are free but they do have donation boxes so bring coin. No mention of markets, so heaps of people had to go back to the ship to get money. Lots of markets, drinks available and the island tour is $10.00 pp. Mini-suite Benefits OK, so I have no idea why we got mini-suite benefits but we did. I still wonder if it's because I'm a Princess cruiser and they're trying to swoon me over? No one else we spoke to in balcony cabins on Deck 10 received the privilege. On our 2nd day we got fluffy bathrobes and slippers and extra bathroom amenities. Priority disembarkation was a special treat! On cocktail nights we got canapEs delivered to our cabin, and we were invited to the Captain's small and private cocktail party in the Club Lounge. Whilst the Captain had photos taken with everyone on their arrival his officers were all milling around together - not very impressive actually. Oasis The first two sea days the weather was lousy but on our first sea day after all the ports we used the Oasis for the day. $5 for half a day, $10 for full day pp. It was a nice retreat, very comfy sun lounges, bar service, piped music (relaxing type) and well worth it! Captain Neil Turnbull Funny bugger for a pom LOL His regular daily updates, his welcome show, his interview....all great. A captain WITH a personality hehe. On loan from Pacific Dawn to cover the other captains leave. On a more serious note, he was very good at advising the passengers about the Christchurch earthquake and keeping us up to date. He railroaded us for 20 minutes at his cocktail party....aren't we special hehe We discussed the 'food' situation with him and various other cruising and personal life topics (his and ours) as well. He advised us they were bringing P&O UK senior crew down to OZ to endeavour to fix things up.....there ya have it straight from the Capitans mouth! Weather Lots of people puking on the first 2 sea days. It was only a 3m swell but was coming from the quarter so made things particularly rock and rolley. Fortunately we don't get sea sick! The weather was cold and cloudy also on those first 2 sea days. By the time we got to Noumea it had warmed up a little to about 21C but still not overly warm. Lifou it warmed up a little more about 23C but still overcastish but Port Vila and Wala it was sunshiney, warm with beautiful warm water! Although the captain advised it might get bumpy on the way back, and the spew bags were placed on the banisters of the stairs (not a good sign!) we were lucky and he sailed around it. The last day as we got closer to Sydney the pitching started (more sick people) and cloudy but overall I thought the seas were very kind to us.....it helps not being a motion sickness person LOL Medical Centre I'm going to put this in as we spoke to many people who complained about having to pay for the ship's doctor up front. It's what happens on cruise ship people, in fact, it happens on land too in foreign countries. Wait a minute, you pay upfront mostly in OZ too, then claim it back. A woman also collapsed on deck and the medical team were there swiftly, followed by the Captain calling for stretcher support. Sadly, they did appear to have to perform resuscitation and I have no idea of her condition. I hope she is OK. Speciality Restaurants La Luna - $20 pp cover charge - Dinner - I loved it, but I heard lots of complaints about it. It's not your local Chinese restaurant which is why I loved it. Great taste sensation and they change the menu half way. Salt Grill - $30 pp cover charge - Dinner - Luke Mangan was on board and was wafting around the restaurant. What is the hype about this place? The food was good, but not excellent. The service was excellent though. I wouldn't pay his prices on land if this was what he was serving. And the extra charges (ie. $4 per oyster on top of the cover charge???? What's with that!) Aqua Spa Usually the partaker of many a spa treatment, being so busy I didn't get around to it until the last day. So I booked a triple treatment hehe Body Scrub, Massage and Facial. The girls were great at their art and I had no complaints. Yeah it's expensive but you already know that! Captains Club Cocktail Party Anyone who had cruised before was here LOL and it was held in the Marquee. Drinks and nibblies. I always like these to see who is the most cruised. Well the winner was a 90 year old lady who was on her 150th cruise! Funnily enough, we were up in the buffet one day (prior to this) and she was pushing her walker unsteadily from the coffee machine with a cup of coffee in her hand spilling on the floor. Not a sole helped her, and I promptly grabbed her cup, walked her to her table and got her comfy. My partner questioned her ability to be on the cruise alone! I said, leave her alone, that'll be me hahahahaha It was a port day, so I daresay her family were on shore. Cocktail Nights I love dressing up on these nights. When you do the kind of work I do you don't get to wear much bling! LOL The people that made the effort looked great and I find it a special part of a cruise. It's a shame they've dropped it back to Cocktail from Formal. The boys always look great in their tux's. Shops on Board Very ordinary and expensive compared to Princess (ooops I compared) LOL. Ages I was surprised at the age of the passengers. Mostly families, middle aged and elderly but not many younguns. The younguns we spoke to were a little disappointed that there weren't many 20-30ish crowd? and the girls definitely outnumbered the boys in this age bracket (so the girls told us LOL) The End We had a fantastic time, met some wonderful people including chopper62 and his wife (we're still looking for robg54 and his wife hehe), never had dud dinner partners and had some great laughs with folks, we ignored the chronic whingers (why do they bother cruising????)....anyway I digresss. Overall it was a great cruise........................except THE FOOD!!!! I saved the worst for last. What a disgrace. The whole food and food service is disgusting, yes disgusting, and I am not a foodie! Let's face it, the focal point of cruising is food.....it's all you do! LOL Most of the food and beverage staff seemed to be miserable with the rare few who were always happy and smiling, so compared with the rest of the friendly, efficient ship's crew it was very very noticeable. Service in the Waterfront Restaurant was hit and miss (more miss). Lunch - 2 hours to get lunch is not my idea of lunch and we never went back after hearing others say the same thing day in and day out. The same menu for breakfast and lunch every day with no specials. Dinner - The meals were very small, and my partner is a tradie with a BIG appetite and it was impossible to get another serving, you had to beg for an extra bread roll, so he needed to go and pay for pizza afterwards. This is wrong! The piece de resitance was getting dessert in the same cheap plastic bowls they have in the buffet.....what's wrong with that in the dining room???? The buffet. Breakfast was fair, same same same every day. No variety! Lunch and dinner was bland, slop and the same same same salads every day. C'mon P&O get some imagination happening. It's not that difficult! Also, the air-conditioning faded towards the end and it was very hot in some public areas of the ship and the constant blocking of the public toilets, with many lifts constantly out of service. It's an old ship, I understand that, but these things really do bring the quality of the ship down. Would I sail with P&O Australia again? They were not my first choice, but I'm glad I experienced it. But not unless they lift their food game, or I need a 2 nighter to get to elite on Princess haha Oh yeah, I didn't miss The Dome LOL I start a new job tomorrow and have already asked for time off LOL........now time to plot my next escape I know this is long, and I've tried to cut it down and I know I've missed out stuff, so thanks for reading it! Deb Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
First off, let me say that the ship sailed from Brisbane. The bit listing Melbourne is rubbish but the system will not let me choose Brisbane and will not let me leave the area blank. We live in Melbourne and flew to Brisbane to join the ... Read More
First off, let me say that the ship sailed from Brisbane. The bit listing Melbourne is rubbish but the system will not let me choose Brisbane and will not let me leave the area blank. We live in Melbourne and flew to Brisbane to join the flight. My husband and I are both in our 50s, we've been on 2 cruises and we travelled both times with two other couples in the same age bracket. So there were six of us and I am basing the review on our overall impressions. Our first cruise was in January 2009 on Sun Princess and we went to the South Pacific, while our latest cruise was on Pacific Dawn to ports in Far North Queensland. You will probably find I compare ships a fair bit, but I figure this is fair in that a lot of other aussies might like to know these details. Both cruises took place in school holidays, because I am a teacher and that is when I get holidays. It was a good cruise-comfy bed, pleasant staff, good food and entertainment. But Pacific Dawn is probably not a ship that will dazzle you if you have been on bigger ships. Pacific Dawn is rated half a star under Sun Princess and I told the others that, but all the same, they were still a little disappointed overall with first impressions of the ship. This is not to say the ship was no good, just they weren't as impressed by the physical aspects of the ship as on our first cruise. THE SHIP. First impression of the Pacific Dawn was that it was a nice ship-but the others in the group commented several times that it was a 'much smaller' ship than the Sun Princess, but the difference actually isn't as huge as it may appear. The Princess ships seem to be quite a lot glitzier. The public areas are definitely bigger and have that wow factor that is missing in the Pacific Dawn. This is especially true of the atrium area, which is just dazzling on the Sun Princess, with its well lit stairs and glass elevators. There is nothing wrong with the Pacific Dawn public areas, they are perfectly comfortable, but they tend to be a bit dark. That was one of my first impressions. The Sun Princess was much more light filled. Why Pacific Dawn recarpeted in brown is a mystery to me as although it is nice enough carpet, the whole area needs a lift, to be a little lighter and brighter. The Sun Princess is also, generally speaking, in better nick, as my husband would say. The overall finish is better. My friend's husband commented that the Pacific Dawn had a fair bit of rust on railings and on the outside. This won't affect your cruise but it is a first impression. The ship recently underwent a refurbishment but they missed some areas. CABINS. We had inside cabins in both ships. The Pacific Dawn cabin was a MUCH better design, in my opinion. It was bigger, for a start. In the Sun Princess, we asked for a queen bed set up but walked in to see two singles, each against a wall. We left it that way as there was barely room to walk between them as it was. There was a desk and chair but the TV could only be viewed from the bed. On this cruise, we asked for single beds but walked in to find it set up as a queen bed. But in Pacific Dawn, the set up really worked well. There was plenty of room to walk round, more like a motel size, and there was a curtained wall that gave an impression of a window. The bathroom was a better design with a shower area about twice the size of Sun Princess. There were little things that let Pacific Dawn down though-specifically the finish inside cabinets and so on. Pieces of laminate were missing or chipped and it made the cabin look a bit tired and tatty in parts. But the bed itself was excellent, very comfortable, and we had lovely pillows. around Sun Princess. Overall, I would say Pacific Dawn cabins run rings around Sun Princess cabins, for comfort and design, but not for finish, if that makes sense! But maybe the cabins need to have those little cosmetic things fixed as they go along-it would look better. I think the fact the cabins are bigger on Pacific Dawn may help explain why the ship looks 'much smaller' than Princess ships. There is less room left for the public areas if you have bigger cabins. Now to something that we noticed that really affected our enjoyment of the ship. The PROMENADE deck. Both ships had them. But on Sun Princess, this deck goes all the way round the ship. This means you can do the circuit. It is great exercise. I really missed this on the Pacific Dawn as the two sides of the promenade do not connect. We were limited to walking up and down on one side, so we just didn't bother. We didn't use the promenade deck half as much as it wasn't anywhere near as 'open' in feel. Maybe it doesn't sound like that big a deal but it will make a difference to how I choose a ship in future. There is a running track on deck 14 of Pacific Dawn but I wasn't interested in that. Some of us really missed a promenade deck we could walk around a few times while watching the ocean. We didn't get that on Pacific Dawn. THE DOME nightclub. This is on Pacific Dawn and my friends were impressed, claimed it was much better than anything Sun Princess had. EMBARKATION. Much the same, although it took a little longer with P&O as we had to wait around after the formalities, till our number was called. On our first cruise, which left from Melbourne, we walked straight onto the ship once we got our cruise card. One little item. P&O now have a nifty little hole in their card, ready for the lanyard. Princess ships may do this now, I don't know, but back in 2009 they didn't and it was a bit silly as 2000 people then had to queue up at the purser's desk over the next day or so to have a hole punched in the card. Congratulations to P&O for a sensible move. SAFETY DRILL. Okay all ships seem to have to have this just before sailing, but what a shemozzle. Sun Princess managed it all so much better. On our first cruise, we arrived at our venue, sat down, were given the drill, then went back to our cabins. On the present cruise on Pacific Dawn, no such luck. First off, we were directed to a venue that didn't have Buckley's hope of seating even half the people assembled there. So we had to stand. I found it hard on my feet so heaven only knows how the really elderly got on. Then.. the drill didn't start on time. It was delayed for over 30 minutes. Could even have been longer. It felt longer, I know that much! It was annoying to be told in announcements that they were a bit behind time, but to just sit down and make ourselves comfortable. There were clearly no chairs available. Running late with things and long queues of people was to be a constant feature of this cruise at various times. It didn't make for a good start to the cruise. FOOD. At the risk of sounding like a real set of gluttons, we were all devastated that the buffet on Pacific Dawn wasn't open 24/7-or at least all day. There were times in the late afternoon when it would have been nice to just wander in for a coffee and be able to pick up a cracker and cheese or some fruit or a slice. Sun Princess beats Pacific Dawn hands down in this regard as it is open round the clock. I found the quality of the food to be similar. In fact, I probably enjoyed the food on P&O a fraction more, on the whole, than on Princess. But at night, after the shows, we would go to the buffet for a coffee, only to find we were being given wind up signals to leave by about 10pm. I liked the food in the Pacific Dawn dining room much better than the buffet offerings. It was definitely of a higher standard and the formal dining room is a lovely looking room. But it would have made a big difference to have had tea or coffee available after the meal. There was none. It was a real pain on this cruise to have to travel from the dining room right up to the buffet just to have our coffee at the end of a meal. I can't see why P&O can't include it in the dining room. It was certainly never offered to us. BUFFET area on Pacific Dawn. Again, not as nice to be in as the similar area on Sun Princess. I don't know what they have done to the glass but it isn't always clear to see through. When up in the buffet near a window, you want to be able to have a clear view of the ocean- not on Pacific Dawn, it's blotchy. The back area of the buffet needs a revamp. It is far too dark, with heavy curtains plus venetians. I would prefer a sea view myself. It is also hot and stuffy compared to the side areas of the buffet, so be warned. First morning when we went for breakfast, we struck a long queue at the buffet-way out the door and half way to the pool area. Only one side of the buffet was open. We turned round and went to the dining room, where we had excellent service. Near the pools, I noticed that there were no free chips or burgers for the kids. This was a highlight for them on Sun Princess. They would hang out by the pool almost all day and even eat there. On Pacific Dawn, there was an area near the buffet but they were charging for chips. Disappointing. No soda or coffee cards on P&O either. FACILITIES. Laundries on Pacific Dawn were large and excellent, they ran rings around Sun Princess, though having said that, they were not on every level. But there were big rooms with multiple machines. I never saw anyone much in the rooms and had no trouble using an iron when I wanted one. Mind you, we were on a 7 day cruise, we may have struck busier times on a longer cruise. On Sun Princess, there was a tiny laundry room on our deck and every time I went past, it was busy. HOT TUBS. Better location on Pacific Dawn, although it depends which ones you talk of. There were some near the main pools. I never went near these, just used the ones on deck 11. This is because of the location. Our cabins were on deck 11 and at the back of that deck there are two hot tubs. They are a lot smaller than the ones on Sun Princess. On Sun Princess, you can fit 6 adults no worries. On the Pacific Dawn ones, you would be lucky to fit 3. But the location of those tubs on deck 11 is magic as they command a view of the ocean. It's lovely to sit in one and just watch the sea. There were hardly any people out on that deck. I blame Pacific Dawn management for this (though it worked in our favour I guess). There were signs on the doors, just as you went out onto deck 11, that said "Oasis area' and stated this was a fee paying area and open only to adults. When I saw it first, I naturally thought the deck was off limits unless we paid but then when I looked closer at ship layout designs, I noticed the oasis was actually down on deck 10. Why they placed the sign on a door leading to deck 11 I have no idea. So for your information, deck 11 is better than deck 10, from what I can see. It has deck chairs PLUS 2 spas. Why would anyone pay to go down to deck 10, with no hot tubs? POOLS. I didn't use them but they seemed much smaller on Pacific Dawn. ART AUCTIONS. Better run on Pacific Dawn, in my opinion. The man in charge of these gave a run down on starting bid, how the auctions worked, and clearly stated if a bid had reached the reserve. This wasn't done on Sun Princess, although the information about artists and types of art was much more educational and informative on Sun Princess. I noticed though that a lot more art was sold on Pacific Dawn and I am guessing it is because the whole process was so much clearer and people knew when a bid won. On the Princess ship, I never could tell if a bid had won or been passed in. ENTERTAINMENT. Pacific Dawn put on 4 full productions over the week. We were 12 days on Sun Princess with nothing like that amount. I thought the productions also had better costuming on Pacific Dawn and were more varied. We even had two circus type acts in the atrium, so there definitely was more variety on Pacific Dawn. One thing I noticed was that Pacific Dawn had a theme night almost every night-there was cowboy night, pirate night, island night, as well as 2 formal nights. This was in one week. No one went over the top dressy on formal nights on this cruise. It was more cocktail party type dress. I didn't bother with things like cowboy night but let me just say that if you are a family with young kids or teens, the P&O Australia line may be more to their liking as it seems to cater much more for the nightclub crowd and the Dome was a more spectacular venue than that available on Sun Princess. Sun Princess though had a better ambience in that there were musicians constantly in the atrium area. This meant we heard music constantly and could sit and have a coffee in that atmosphere. There were musicians on Pacific Dawn but tucked away in bars, nowhere near as evident, nowhere near the ambience. Keeping in mind both cruises were in school holidays, I would say the crowd was much younger on P&O. I noticed many toddlers and young children. On Sun Princess, we were told there were 400 children and the crowd was 'much younger' than usual, but I think most must have been teens as we rarely saw them. The children were never any bother on either cruise. EXCURSIONS. Oh my god, where do I start? On this cruise, we all booked two ship-organised excursions. One was to the Great Barrier Reef and the other was in Cairns, with a gondola ride above the Daintree rainforest to Kuranda, with a train ride back. For both excursions, we had to meet in the theatre and huge tour groups were involved. For both excursions, we were kept waiting long beyond our scheduled meeting time and we were late getting away. Considering the cost of the excursions ($219 and $179pp), that is not good enough. In the rainforest excursion in particular, my main memory is of massive crowds and queuing. First we queued for the gondola ride. Then we got off half way, as instructed, and had to queue another 40 minutes for the second part of the ride. This gave us exactly 35 minutes in Kuranda village, to have lunch and look around, before we had to catch a bus to come back via the train. I didn't meet anyone who was happy with this. It would have been far better to leave earlier and give everyone at least 90 minutes in Kuranda. As it was, it was rush, rush, rush and we saw very little. Stressful. Maybe they should try to break tour groups into smaller components as moving us all en masse was stressful. We did our own thing in Port Douglas. I would advise anyone visiting this area to look up the Port Douglas historical society website as it lists information about places to visit on a walking tour which you can do yourself. The tender takes you right into town. It was our most relaxed excursion of the tour and cost us no money. On the Sun Princess, I felt the tours were better organised by far but that may be because we chose shorter excursions and the numbers of people on them were smaller. STAFF on board ship- Very happy with the level of service. One thing though-at the end of the cruise, we had to fill out a questionnaire on both cruises. The P&O form was much easier and user friendly. Also-and this is a MAJOR difference, we were not asked to rank individual people and weren't hassled by staff about it. On Sun Princess, there was automatic tipping but on the last days, out came trays and trays of envelopes, the entire foyer was taken over by the things, and there were multiple announcements exhorting us to take some to reward staff. In contrast, P&O, which also had automatic tipping at the time of our cruise, simply mentioned on the TV program that it could be removed, changed or that we may care to take an envelope and reward individuals instead if we so chose. That was the end of the matter and a small pile of envelopes were discreetly available on the purser's desk. You had to look for them to even see them. P&O handled it with more class, in my opinion. BRISBANE As we didn't have our cars with us, we used maxicabs and they were marvellous. They were everywhere, they came amazingly quickly when called, they hold all the luggage no problems and still have room for about 8-10 people and if there are a few of you splitting the cost, they work out much cheaper than catching public transport. eg Maxicab from airport to wharf came to $42, while a bus would have cost us $15 each. In SUMMARY Did we enjoy our cruise on Pacific Dawn? Yes. Will we go with P&O Australia again? Perhaps not, unless the price is really cheap. Maybe we were spoilt by our first cruise but the people I was with all want a ship with at least the same wow factor as Sun Princess. Pacific Dawn is quite a nice ship but it presents as a smaller ship, a little tired in some sections and lacking some of the facilities such as 24 hour buffet. On the other hand, it has excellent laundry facilities and better designed cabins with more comfortable beds. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Not your classical cruise experience, more like a party boat which suited most of the cruisers. It was rather more like a floating RSL club than a cruise-ship. Formal nights, which a lot of people enjoy have given way to a ... Read More
Not your classical cruise experience, more like a party boat which suited most of the cruisers. It was rather more like a floating RSL club than a cruise-ship. Formal nights, which a lot of people enjoy have given way to a "cocktail evening" with basically no dress code and no-one knowing what to wear resulting in half the ship's passengers not bothering at all. Embarkation was the best we have experienced so far, very efficient. Food was good, the service was not very good, wait staff were sometimes very grumpy. The entertainment was excellent, there was always something to do. The island night was great. Drinks are very expensive. Kids clubs were hopelessly undersized and hopelessly over populated. The spa was very nice (extra cost to use the sauna etc) It seemed to be a lot of wasted space and would make a very nice size entertainment area. All of the ports except Brisbane were tender crossings which were very long & rough and not for the faint hearted. The ship itself appeared to be past it's sell by date. Although having undergone a massive fitout at great expense there were obvious mechanical problems. One of the stabilizers was inoperative causing a lot of unnecessary rocking and rolling and there was a severe vibration at the rear of the ship causing people to be bounced up and down sometimes. It appears that the fitout was only a veneer hiding an old ship that would not be seen in US or UK waters. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Pacific Jewel Norfolk Cruise September Well this was the cruise that missed Norfolk Island due to the severe weather in the Tasman Sea. I have endeavoured to be objective in the review and hope that it may be of interest and even ... Read More
Pacific Jewel Norfolk Cruise September Well this was the cruise that missed Norfolk Island due to the severe weather in the Tasman Sea. I have endeavoured to be objective in the review and hope that it may be of interest and even assistance to those considering cruising on Pacific Jewel. Boarding at Wharf 5 Due to the intended redevelopment of the area the perfectly good terminal has been demolished and a temporary terminal installed further along the wharf. The terminal is quite adequate for the task and as usual P&O carry out the boarding of passengers in an efficient way. It is surprising how quickly almost 2000 passengers can be processed and boarded. Cabin This time we were in an obscured cabin on deck 8 (midship). The fact that we had a tender outside the window was no problem at all as far as light and yes we still had a view. The only small fault was that on tender days there was some noise as the tender was initially lowered. Room in the cabin was excellent for two even with the king-size bed. Cabin service was adequate but I would admit not to the same standard as we have had on previous cruises. This really is dependent on the Cabin Steward. Departure from Sydney This in my opinion is always one of the highlights of any cruise as it really is a wonderful harbour to sail out or in to. On this occasion we trailed Pacific Sun for some time before overtaking her. On Board Entertainment The entertainment on board was good and in many cases excellent. One has to bear in mind that you are not going to a Broadway Show Theatre, and that the entertainment staff have a limited area to work in and perform shows. There was as always plenty of entertainment and activities in all areas of the ship and to cater for virtually all tastes. On Board Speakers/Lecturers Again there was a good variety and on this cruise there was included a full set of lectures on Norfolk Island and the Bounty Mutiny. There were speakers on writing, along with dance lessons, craft lessons, and bridge lessons. The Destination speaker delivered a comprehensive presentation with photos and maps on the ports of call full of details needed to enjoy the days ashore. This was separate to the Tours Office presentation on what shore tours were available. All in all the presentations were good but my highlight was the History Speaker along with the Destination Speaker. These were excellent. Shopping on Board There are several outlets on board covering a wide range of items and let's face it you are not at "Westfield" you are on board a ship. Prices can be expensive for some items and most will be dearer than in the ports such as Villa or Norfolk Island but who just takes a cruise to shop on board?? Food on Board Okay so we all know that on a cruise you are sure to add a few kilos. This cruise was no different. You have to remember the number of people being catered for each day and that you are not dining at the 'Ritz'. You would really have to be a pretty picky eater if you found nothing to eat. Breakfast in the Plantation Buffett was great as you had plenty of time and a good variety to choose from. At times there seems to be confusion in the Plantation Room with averyone trying to get what they want to eat but a little patience and there is no problem. The Waterfront Dining Room served a more sophisticated and leisurely breakfast for those that wanted restaurant style dining. Lunch was again good with a great variety to choose from. Afternoon Tea in the Waterfront was a wonderful experience where you had a chance to eat from a small selection of cakes, scones, sandwiches with waiter service. Dinner is where the real choice has to be made. Plantation Buffett provided good food and a good selection. The Waterfront was for fine dining although the standard of service depended on where you were seated. For anyone wanting to celebrate a special occasion with a few friends try to book the Wine Room in the Waterfront. It is a terrific section for a small private function. The Salt Grill was another experience that I consider worth the $30 surcharge, but be careful some of the dishes have additional charges attached. Service excellent. The La Luna Asian Restaurant is truly an experience not to be missed. The surcharge of $20 is worth every cent. Eight courses and approx 2 hours for this taste of Asia. Best service on board. Of course there is the 'Grill' on the Lido Deck where you can purchase prawns, chips, wings, and Pizza. Also the Chocolate Cafe where again you can purchase light snacks, ice cream, juices, cookies etc: The coffee bar on Deck 5 in the Atrium has terrific coffee. Overall the service is acceptable although at times the service in the Waterfront is slow and some of the staff uncommunicative. If I was on shore it would have been cause for complaint as I would have paying much more and expected much more. Bars The 'Lido Bar' on Deck 12 caters for the pool area. There is the 'Casbah' on Deck 7 for a quiet intimate drink. 'Connexions' also on Deck 7 is much larger and also the scene for many activities. There is a bar in the 'Marquee' on decks 7 & 8 that provides drinks during shows. There are also other smaller bars scattered about the ship. Tea/Coffee Plenty of outlets providing tea and coffee. If you just want plain coffee for free there are machines on the Lido Deck that run 24/7. We always take out thermos travel mugs so we can slip up and get a hot drink and take it to the cabin, or the open deck 7. Extras Ok so there are areas and facilities that are not included in the fare. The Oasis, with a nominal daily charge that makes it well worthwhile if you are seeking a little rest and relaxation. The Aqua has great gym equipment but if you are not a fitness junkie use the $20 day pass for the steam, sauna, relaxation, and aromatherapy rooms, I found this well worth while. The Attic So it is not the Dome, but we found it a terrific little spot. The CD One of the most difficult posts to fill on any cruise ship is the Cruise Director. On Jewel for this cruise was Zoltina J. I know there are some out there that don't like her but in my opinion she fills the role with ease and certainly does the job with flair and passion. The same goes for the Assistant CD Bobby, and for all the Entertainment Department Staff. They all work their butts off to give you a great time on board. Just bear in mind that many of this department are working way after you retire and well before you awake each and every day. The Ports Noumea, One or two places in the town are well worth visiting. The Chocolate Shop, The Patisserie (both close to the terminal), and the Museum in the square has a wonderful WW1 exhibition along with a beautiful diorama scale model of old Noumea. For culture it is difficult to go past the Tjibaou Centre outside of Noumea. Port Denarau, Always a favourite when on the itinerary. Plenty to see and do in the area, including Nadi, and the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Then again you just browse around the shops or dine at the marina. Dravuni Island, A great stop for relaxation. The climb to the hilltop is hard but the view makes the effort worth while. This climb should only be done if you are fit and do not have mobility problems. Otherwise just stroll around the village and relax on the beach. Suva, The capital of Fiji and it has changed over the years. There is still plenty to do and see around the area and there can be some good buys in the shops, although prices have risen in the past couple of years. The market is an experience that stays with you. Nice to see the return of the greeting by the Police Band on the wharf. And the farewell from the band with the strains of Isa Lei drifting to the ship is something very special. Nukualofa, It is a long walk from the wharf into town, but it is an interesting one and there are plenty of shady spots to rest along the waters edge. The town is small in terms of shopping but again there can be some good buys if you look. I suggest you take a taxi into town $5. Vavau, I always enjoy a visit to this Tongan Port. The town has grown even in twelve months and there are some great eating spots. Shopping here can be good, particularly in the Duty Free shop in the middle of town. Port Villa, This was the unexpected stop in place of Norfolk Island. It was the first time I had visited Villa at night by ship. The shopping in Villa is well known; unfortunately the shops close early on Saturdays. Never the less there was shopping available and the markets opened up under torchlight. I understand that in no small way this was the result of intense emails between the Destination Speaker on board and the Chairman of the Shop Owners Assn. Certainly it was a very successful visit for the shops that opened. As the ship arrived even earlier than expected it took awhile for shops to open but as the night wore on several opened up to the delight of the passengers. The main reason for this unscheduled call at Villa was to replenish the Fire System Water Supply that was to be done during the Norfolk Island stop, hence it was never planned as a port stop in the normal sense. Disembarkation Again this is handled well. This time as in the past we opted for "Self-Assist" disembarkation that had us off the ship by 8am and on our way home shortly after. Beauty of this is that you still keep your bags with you on the final night for that last minute packing. Summing-up This was a most enjoyable cruise. The Jewel is a different ship to the Dawn. They may be the same to look at but they operate differently. It is unfair to compare one with the other. It is even more unfair to compare the Jewel with Princess Line, or the like as the fare cost is totally different and so is the style of cruise. After fifty years of cruising I would be more than happy to step on board Jewel at any time. Having travelled on some of the largest and most opulent liners in the world I consider that P&O offer great value for dollar on the fleet out of Australia. It is still the best value holiday you can get. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My Partner and I have just disembarked after a 10 night cruise on P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel. This was our 19th cruise and our 3rd with P&O Australia. Sydney has a great purpose built overseas passenger cruise ... Read More
My Partner and I have just disembarked after a 10 night cruise on P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel. This was our 19th cruise and our 3rd with P&O Australia. Sydney has a great purpose built overseas passenger cruise terminal right in the heart of the city between the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is where most ships berth when in town. P&0 Australia however berth their ships at Darling Harbour. They also berth Sun Princess and Dawn Princess here. Darling Harbour is just around the corner on the Western side of the Central Business District. The beauty of this is you get to sail right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge - simply stunning. The downside is currently (and for about the next 12 to 18 months) the Port of Sydney has supplied the cruise line with a very large tent to facilitate passenger check-in and embarkation and the reverse when you get back. This tent is a temporary measure whilst the NSW government builds a purpose built new cruise ship terminal at White Bay, still past the harbour bridge but sadly not the current 5 minute walk into the city. This new terminal also will only be able to accommodate ships that can fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There is currently much discussion here in certain circles about the merits of the White Bay development anyway - Our Cruise Embarkation The very large tent and pier is actually very pleasant and workable. Lots of car parking with very good drop off and pick up points. Inside the tent its air-conditioned, good check-in desks, lots of seats to sit in whilst waiting to board and good passport and security checkpoints once you get the go ahead to board. Way better than the old "temporary" terminal that P&O had been using at the next door wharf at Darling Harbour. We were on-board Pacific Jewel by 12.30pm for a 4pm departure. The Ship Originally a Princess ship then a couple of changes until joining the P&O Australia fleet about 12 months ago. The ship is a sister ship to Pacific Dawn however there are a couple of differences inside. The main one being the dome area at the top of ship. On Pacific Dawn this is an amazing crows nest type bar, on Pacific Jewel it is the Spa and Gym. This ship looks great and is in very good condition. The colour scheme on-board in the public areas is reds and yellows which works well. Cabin Our cabin 5177 was midships on deck 5 and was spacious and nicely furnished. A good size wardrobe and decent bathroom with a shower big enough for two people. Good quality bed linen, the pillows a tad small but not bad, flat screen TV with a good range of movies and also Sky News Australia. No ships satellite map tho which we both missed. We always like to know whereabouts on the ocean we are. A very high housekeeping standard. We had a really wonderful cabin attendant called Christian. A young guy who was genuinely delightful even when he had sweat pouring off him. Its the only time we both feel guilty being on holiday when your cabin attendant keeps asking how has your day been and the poor person looks like they are about to collapse from over work Restaurants and Food In the last 18 months P&O Australia appear to have thrown all their old Pub Grub steak,chips and two veg type restaurant menus, crockery and decor overboard and started again. In a word - SENSATIONAL The Waterfront Restaurant is the main one operating anytime dining which, for us, worked every evening. You book the day before and we had a table for two at the time we wanted the next evening. The decor is amazing, very modern with the room broken up into many small spaces. The food - we were constantly amazed at both the presentation and the taste which was always great and in many cases sensational. The service unfortunately was hit and miss. Sometimes good, sometimes lightening fast, occasionally slow but on most evenings the waiting staff seemed all over the place and on three occasions we were given the wrong main courses and also the wrong bottles of wine. Communication with some of the waiting staff even when we pointed to the specific item on the menus was sometimes frustrating There are two speciality restaurants on board with a surcharge Salt Grill by Luke Mangan (one of Australia's top chefs)$30pp La Luna which is an Asian style restaurant $20pp Salt Grill we loved and the man himself - Luke Mangan was on board and helped serve our meals. Wonderful waiting staff and it is equal to the best restaurants in Sydney. Well worth the surcharge La Luna was different, an eight course tasting type asian menu with some odd dishes but overall not bad The Plantation Buffet - good food, good quality and good service Bars There are two main bars - the Casbah and Connexions both devoid of character and just rooms to sit in. We discovered the first night that your cocktail and Martinis are limited to the 15 or so shown on the cocktail and Martini lists. My request for the martini I usually have at sea and which was not on the "list" was initially met by a "no we can't do it" to a "well perhaps we can" to a "well yes we can make it but it will cost you" and cost it certainly did. This I followed up with the Food and Beverage Manager who rectified the cost and also ensured I could get my Martini each evening at a realistic price. Also on this ship they scheduled music and entertainment in the bars at bizarre times. In the Casbah which was the better looking of the two bars there was a sports quiz at 6.30pm every night. 6.30pm is cocktail time Likewise the piano players (both were very good) would often be finishing when you came out from dinner just when you wanted to sit down and listen to music with a post dinner drink. The Connexions bar would be having Karaoke about the same time as the sport quiz Sports Quizzes and Karaoke are not our cup of tea Production Shows We saw two and these were spectacular and very very good. P&0 Australia seem to have poured a lot of money into these and it showed. Very polished and very professional There is also a group of five people called "Pacific Cirque" who do the most amazing acrobatic performances. One evening in the atrium, one evening at sea on the top deck where there is a purpose built frame and the last night in the production show The Oasis On deck 10 at the stern of the ship is the adults only Oasis outdoor area. $5.00 pp per half day and worth every cent. Accommodates about 40 people. Very nice rattan cane sun-lounges and settees. Fresh fluffy towels, easy listening music, waiters with chilled water, tea and coffee and also a full bar - a great way to spend the day and you can just come and go as your sun-lounges remain reserved for you The Club Lounge A small "hotel club floor" type lounge with free Internet, selected drinks between 5pm-6pm and personalised service but there is a $25 per person per day charge with a minimum of three consecutive days and they would not waiver the three day rule so we did not use it. $150 for two people for a couple glasses of wine each day seemed excessive Overall experience The first three days from Sydney the ship encountered very rough seas. Gale force 9 winds and 7 to 10 metre waves. It was more like the North Atlantic in winter than the South Pacific! We both felt fine and we were grateful for our midships cabin down low on deck 5. Many many passengers and also crew were ill. Not a great start to a holiday and for about 90% of the passengers on board this was their first cruise. Once the ship arrived at the Isle of Pines the weather improved dramatically. Also , whether due to three days and nights of being bounced and banged around or not, in Noumea we were advised that Pacific Jewel had developed propulsion problems and our last port of call was cancelled. The ship stayed alongside in Noumea for an additional 18 hours then took an extra day to sail back to Sydney. This delay was handled with the highest professionalism by the cruise line. Free Internet was offered. Two phones at reception to make free telephone calls, this did cause long lines for three days but they were free and a credit put onto everyone's room account. We were wrapped as we ended up with another day at sea. Most people we spoke to were also very happy. Overall we have had another wonderful and relaxing cruise. If you are accustomed, like we are, to Princess Cruises or better then this may not be the ship for you. Pacific Jewel, like its sister ship Pacific Dawn, is aimed squarely at middle Australia. Great Food,Good Entertainment, average bars where the most consumed drink on board is beer and sports quizzes and Karaoke rule. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Embarkation: We arrived at Wharf 5 at about 11.30 am. Trouble free booking in our bags and waited about 5 minutes tops in the line to get to the counter to check in. Had our photos taken for our cruise cards. All good. Probably waited no ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at Wharf 5 at about 11.30 am. Trouble free booking in our bags and waited about 5 minutes tops in the line to get to the counter to check in. Had our photos taken for our cruise cards. All good. Probably waited no more than 15 minutes after that before our number was called to go on board. We were checking out our cabin by 12.15pm. First thing we did was head up to Turtle Cove kids club to register our 3 yo daughter. Remember to take child's passport and the passport of anyone you authorise to pick them up. They will make copies for you. Then we went back to the cabin and booked in for Luke Mangan's Salt Grill. You have to book in REALLY early for this. It was at this point that my husband realised that he had left his suit bag hanging on the door at home! Argh! No formal clothes! Fortunately, we had left plenty of time and his Dad was able to go back to our place to get it and bring it back to the ship. We told the Purser what had happened and they made special arrangements to get it to us. Thank goodness. Meant we got an awesome shot of his parents from Deck 14! Suit was delivered to our room just before departure. Phew ;) Muster was held at 3pm. I did overhear a Crew Member saying something rude about passengers to a crewmate. I made a complaint at the pursers desk which I believe was handled very professionally. One of the senior members of the Hotel staff came to see me in my cabin about the incident the next day and assured me it was being investigated. I certainly didn't let one off hand comment I overheard ruin my holiday. Sail away party was unfortunately short lived due to the weather turning sour almost as soon as we passed through the heads. Unfortunately the seas were rough for the next two days with 8 m swells and winds gusting to 100Kmh. I'd say almost half the passengers were down with seasickness and quite a few staff too. The Ships medical centre was the hot place to be! We had taken Kwells sea sickness tabs, including our almost 4 yo who took 1/4 tablet dose. She and hubby were fine. I was a little green if I got hungry, so kept crackers and green apples handy. Even though those two days at sea the weather was pretty awful, there was still plenty to do. I took up quilling and hubby went to other activities. Mooch loved the kids club, even though it had to be moved from it's usual home on deck 14. Luke Mangan was onboard for our cruise, which was a real priviledge. He gave a cooking demonstration on the first day, and we were lucky enough to have booked dinner that night. It was well worth the $30 per person. The wagyu beef was absolutely perfect. And the licorice parfait was delicious. You definately need to book almost as soon as you get on board. And just a tip, if you have little kids, find out when Island Night is as you wont be able to book the kids in kids club from about 6.30-8pm. Unfortunately this meant we had to cancel our second booking. :( Having a little one we mostly ate at the Buffet on Deck 12. We thought the food here was great. Lots of choices. I wasn't a fan of the scrambled eggs at breakfast, but you could get eggs cooked to order also. My faves were the hash browns at Breakfast, and the braised Lamb Shanks with mash. yumm. One night they even served Roast Duck. We also ate a few lunches at the Waterfront (a la carte) with our little girl, where we usually had a table just the 3 of us. Hubby and I had a few dinners there too and were always seated with lovely people and shared nice conversation with our fellow passengers. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. We partook in the music trivia most nights which was lots of fun. We even managed to win one night! We also watched all of the shows, and took our little one to watch too. She loved the Pirate show which was by far the most enjoyable of the cruise, but the circus show was a little scary (even for grown ups!)even thought the elephants were spectacular. The sit down comedy club was good as were the other guest entertainers. The Marriage Game and Liar Liar were hilarious! Zoltina J was in fine form and certainly made our cruise very enjoyable for us. If you want to see Pacific Circque, it is only on one night... so check your Pacific Daily. Get there about 45 mins + early and get a spot on deck 14 amid ships. DONT get a spot forward, near the spa like I did as the lights will shine in your eyes and you wont be able to see a thing :( The artists did put on short performances in the Atrium later in the cruise, but not the same as outside on the big rig on the deck. I wont go into great details of the Isle of pines as I am sure there is plenty of information out there already. The only thing I will say is get your tender ticket early, then go to breakfast. We got our ticket at 8.30 am and did not get called to our tender until after 12 noon. We were NOT happy Jan. Still we made the most of our time once we finally did make it to the island. Lifou was beautiful also. We took the Melanesian Enounters Tour. It was OK, we are glad we did something. Also, by doing a tour, you meet on board and get a priority for the tenders so we got off in plenty of time, thank goodness. The people are really friendly and this was the place to get your hair braided. My advise is to look around and watch the girls and the finished jobs before you choose who to go with. They all charge the same so might as well go with the best job ;) Noumea: We didnt book any tours through P & O. But we went on the green Tchou Tchou train which we booked at the terminal. It was sooooooo much fun. The locals waved and cheered everywhere we went which was really nice. Defintely would recommend that one! And it cost us less for the 3 of us that way, than for 1 if we had booked through P&O. We didnt get a drink and a pastry at the lookout, but what drink is worth $140??? I put my school girl french to use at the patisserie. Yum, Pain du chocolat! We hit the Duty Free up the hill form the ship and found the Scotch my husband wanted to be awsome value. They took it to the ship and we got it back on the last night before disembarkation. As most of you probably know, the Jewel encountered problems with her propulsion system and we were advised of this as we arrived back at the ship from Noumea. We were advised they had been working on her all day, she was not fixed, and they would continue to work throughout the night and hopefully we would depart 7am the following morning. This meant we would not make it to Poum/Emerald Bay and to make up for our disappointment, each passenger over 13 was given $50 on board credit. P&O put on Free buses to Citron Baie that night, which we took advantage of. Wasnt much happening there at night, unless you wanted dinner, but we had already eaten on board. Still it was nice to get out and have a look at Noumea by night. The next morning the Captain announced we would not be departing until 1pm that day. This meant we would be getting home 1 day late to Sydney. Any passengers who had forward travel arrangements made through P&O didnt have to worry, it would all be taken care of for them. Any other passengers had to change their own arrangements. To expedite this, free calls to shore and free internet was put on. Also claim forms were delivered to each cabin setting out that P&O would reimburse any extra costs involved with rearranging their travel. Again P&O put on Buses to Baie de Citron for any passengers who wanted to go. We thought that was really generous of them, as they charge $20AU each for those transfers in their shore excursion brochure. We just pottered around some of the stores and found a store called Style Co - a department type store. And bought some french label clothes for a bit of fun. We also went back the patisserie. ;) The trip home was smooth sailing. The Entertainment Team put on an extra show for us as the cruise was an extra night! Our little girl (almost 4) absolutely LOVED Turtle Cove. There was a newsletter delivered each day to our cabin about what was on the next day. It was open from 9-12 and then from 2 -10.30 each evening. If you wanted group child minding you had to let them know by 7.30pm and it was $5 per child per hour until 1am. They had lots of crafts and activities. They even practised for a Talent Show on the last day, which was lots of fun. On Island Night, they also had a family fun party. There were games for the whole family to participate in. I joined in the tunnel ball and our team won. Our Little girl also won the Limbo competition. She made lots of little friends and had a wonderful time. Never tears when we dropped her off, only when we picked her up cos she didn't want to leave! Disembarkation was smooth as anything, although we really had packed way tooo much and had trouble carrying everything. Customs took less than two minutes, and then we had the walk up the hill to Wynyard Station, which was easier than I expected. Despite all the dramas, we had an absolutely AWESOME time. We could not fault P&O or their staff for the handling of all the various situations. All the staff were friendly and professional at all times. We have booked another short cruise for next year to celebrate our Anniversary. Less than a year to go! Take me away P&O! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
The Pacific Dawn cruise in Nov 2010 from Brisbane - Noumea - Lifou - Vila - Brisbane was our 7th experience on-board a mix of ocean and river ships. It was the first time that my wife and I had taken the plunge of spending a bit more and ... Read More
The Pacific Dawn cruise in Nov 2010 from Brisbane - Noumea - Lifou - Vila - Brisbane was our 7th experience on-board a mix of ocean and river ships. It was the first time that my wife and I had taken the plunge of spending a bit more and deciding to enjoy the delights of an up market Mini Suite. It even came with a $150 credit toward the cabin on-board account. We were looking forward to this for many months and if our past experience was anything to go by, then the extra room size would be greatly appreciated. I don't intend to cover off all the topics recommended by the Cruise Critic guidelines since many people have given their valuable insights already, but I would like to warn fellow travellers against making the same major mistake that my wife and I made. We thought (foolish people I hear you say) that paying for an upgraded cabin - top floor, deck 11 or Aloha deck, no less - would come with all the benefits of luxury cruising. Not so. The Cabin. The suite (and Pacific Dawn generally) is a bit tired. If you are a fan of marble slabs, then the bathroom is right up your alley. For me, it was too 1960'ish to be impressive. Plugs that don't work and shampoo sachets that are seldom replenished just don't cut the mustard. The 14 inch LCD TV was okay since we had bought our binoculars with us (the 2 adjoining cabins had 32 inch LCDs). The cabin decor is dull and uninspiring with black stains (probably gum) scattered around the carpet. I found some strange pills just under our bed on day 3. So when did they last give this place a real clean? All in, we would have taken these minor glitches in our stride, apart from a fairly significant problem - NOISE. The Noise. The cabin, A165, is starboard side and located directly under the entrance to the main free dining restaurant. Unfortunately, it is also under the table tennis table and conveniently under the snack bar that sells chips and other hot snacks until late in the evening. The deck above is also the main pool deck where a number of significant social activities are conducted at various times during the cruise - all very boisterous but none of these were any cause for concern and in fact, while we heard a little distant music it never reached the level of being disturbing. So what was the problem? Well, the decking above is wooden and is probably glued very solidly to the metal sheets comprising our ceiling. P & O, bless their cotton socks, then thought it was a good idea to place plastic chars and tables on this wooden deck. The resulting scraping of the legs of both table and chairs vibrated very clearly right through the deck into the cabin with the same effect that a boom box would have. This noise started at about 6.30 am and lasted until early next morning - every fine day of the cruise. It was to our saving grace that the first 4 days of the cruise were wet and miserable, so we were spared this torment until Wednesday. But then along comes Thursday and Friday, both fine and fair. Wednesday evening I was able to take a sleeping pill and finally dozed off to sleep about midnight with the scraping going full bore upstairs. Thursday night, rang the reception about 12.30 am and was told that the duty manager would look into it - and that she may visit my cabin to listen to the problem. Hadn't arrived by 1 am, so went up on deck to see the duty manageress having a nice chat with the drunk revellers. At 2.30 am the party goers went home and I dozed off to sleep. Friday night I began a 15 minute interval call to reception to complain from 10.30 pm onwards. Last call at 11.15 pm seemed to have some effect as the noise died away at that point. The Lesson. Don't pay good money for a Mini Suite on the Pacific Dawn - go budget and get a good nights sleep. Better still, don't go P & O. What could and should have been a very reasonable cruise was significantly spoiled by having to suffer from insufficient sleep in a cabin that promised much but gave little. The management were not overly helpful and needed significant prompting to resolve a routine complaint. I did not want to stop people having a good time, I would just have preferred that they did it on top of someone else's cabin - like the Captain's for instance - not mine. Will we recommend P & O - not on your life. Had 6 other cruises with other lines and enjoyed every one of them, and will cruise again, but never ever with P & O, thank you. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf ... Read More
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf to the time we stepped foot in our cabin it was just under 30 minutes. One tip is to grab a Customs departure card from your travel Agent or next time you are at the airport and fill this in before leaving home. This will save you time and prevent you having to move out of the line to fill in, as several people had to. The Cabin Our cabin was 11174 an Outside cabin on the 11th deck (A deck). Slightly rear of mid ship. The first Outside cabin past the Balcony cabins. It was a good position, only about 20 metres from the Aft stairwell and lifts and only one level below the Plantation restaurant and pool deck. Although immediately below the pool deck we didn't hear much noise, only a couple of times did we hear tables being dragged on deck. Our bed was a queen configuration. Comfy mattress on a slat base. our empty suitcases just fitted underneath. Our room stewart Jomon must not have been use to Duvets as it was pretty well tucked in at the bottom for the first few days, only bringing it to half way up your chest. On one side of the bed you have a small set of four draws and a lamp. on the window side is the desk that also serves as the bed side cabinet with another four draws. All the original furniture from the Ocean Village apart from the TV. The desk would be about 1.4m long with lamp and phone. this is where the one and only power point is for the room. the only other power point is above the TV, but is English. So be sure to pack a double adaptor. The window is a good size. I would guess just over a metre square. The TV is a ViewSonic 22" flat screen and has AV (RCA plugs) along with PC, HDMI and USB connections. The picture quality of the in-house TV feeds is not that great. Other furniture in the room is a single armchair and a desk chair and a small round coffee table. The walk in wardrobe has a good amount of hanger space with 14 wooden coat hanger provided, but no spring clip pants or skirt hangers. There is eight draws about .8m wide with a cupboard above that houses your safe and life jackets. There is a good amount of space above the coat hangers for bulky items or even bags. Opposite the walk in wardrobe is three side by side full length mirrors which gives a good impression of lots of space. Between the main cabin area and the wardrobe is the small built in fridge and cabinet for glasses and supplies. the fridge is a clever design in that you can stand up a tall bottle of water or wine inside it, with enough room for cans to sit behind it. Below the fridge is a locked cupboard. Not sure what it contains. Above the fridge cupboard is a couple of well spaced glass shelves that house your pool towels. The bathroom/toilet is well laid out, but certainly a one person at a time job. The shower is about 1.5m long and .8m wide. The shower rose comes out of the corner, so a little strange. The water pressure is just OK. It has a single mixer control. Has a built in shampoo and conditioner shelf. The ship provides a combined shampoo/conditioner dispenser. It is a shower curtain and not a door, but the shower seems big enough that the shower curtain doesn't cling to you at all while taking a shower. Not too much vanity area around the sink, but has mirrored cupboards both sides of the main mirror. The they three shelves in each each. All the same height, but not just high enough to hold tall cans of hair spray/deodorant. Lighting is OK, but not fantastic. One thing I liked about the bathroom was there wasn't a big step or lip to get into the room. The actual toilet is angled off the corner, but has enough leg room. the entire bathroom appears to be one moulded unit. The WiFi internet connection was good in our room. Laundrette This was located on the 6th and 10th floor and had eight top loading washing machines (on the 10th floor one) which operated on a AU$2.00 coin. Some were a little tricky and you had to open a small compartment on top to trigger the reset switch to make it start. The load took approx 30 minutes on a normal cycle. The clothes driers were free, a 30 minute cycle just doesn't get the clothes fully dry if you have a full load. The Lounges and Bars This is where you can see that P&O has spent a bit of money. The Orient (Deck 7) This has an English pub feel to it, so not too sure why it was named The Orient. Lots of nice timber panels and earth tone fabric with a variety of seat types. this bar is used a lot for the Trivia sessions and accoustic artists. The port side has a corridor, but the starboard side corridor blends into the room which is a nice idea. Tap beer is available at this bar. Connexions (Deck 7) This neighbours The Orient, but would be nearly double in size. More popular with the younger cruisers that the Orient. Home of the Karaoke and the dance style bands. Also used during the days for the lectures and demonstrations. A lot of cane furniture used in this area. Once again uses the starboard side of the lounge as the corridor. The Atrium (Decks 5,6 & 7) A busy area of the ship with housing the photo gallery and shop. Duty Free shops, Shore Tour office and Reception. Charlies coffee shop and the Mix Bar (formerly Blue Bar).The three levels are used for the Laser light shows which are worth a look at. Pacific Cirque will also perform a few smaller shows here. Pre-dinner Piano music is also played here. One slight design fault is that the Shore Tour desks are besides the Reception so you get long lines going across the front of reception for the Shore Tour booking desks, they also need to look at putting in a third desk for the busy days. Also the Sold Out Tours board needs to be displayed where people line up rather than behind the desks where the brochures are. The Marquee (Deck 7 & 8) This is an area I'm sure they will change the design of with-in the next year to 18 months. Great size stage and fantastic new giant LCD screens that they can do wonders with for stage backgrounds and to act as stage sets. But the seating layout is crazy. Upstairs the balcony rail is right at the level of the stage sightline. They have gone for lots of individual movable seats and curved three seater couches. This cuts the capacity down to around 500 maximum I would guess. The bar at the rear of the theatre has a large amount of open area in front of it which does seem a waste of space. It also has two semi spiral staircases from level 7 to 8 which takes up valuable seating space. Once the theatre fills up (which seems to be earlier and earlier as the cruise went on) passengers stand in the corridors which blocks the views of those sitting in the back. Some of the bar stools have missing foot rails and in one case has a missing seat pad. Not a major to fix, but stayed like that for the entire cruise. The sound and lighting is very good, especially with the full height LCD screens. The Dome (Deck 14) This would be my favourite venue, both day and night. Fantastic views, great wide open feeling. Very comfy seating. Nice colouring and a good size bar. Generous size dance floor on a slightly lower level. A good venue for the late night comedy and other smaller shows. Top Decks (Decks 12 & 14) Home to three swimming pools and Pacific Cirque stage area and the giant 7m LCD screen. The pools were always in use, it did take a few days until the warmer weather for the adults to start using the swim up bar pool. However the water did look a little murky for the first couple of days. I'll cover the Pacific Cirque show later on, but great viewing advantage points from several points around decks 12 and 14. There is new decking and artificial grass on both levels and new coats of paint, but some areas have missed having a touch up altogether. An example is the Splash Bar has nice new tiles on the wall behind the drinks, but if you look up at the ceiling above the counter, the paintwork hasn't even been touched, with lots of stains and marks. The Oasis (Deck 8) We got caught out here on our first visit to this area at the rear of the ship. After we sat down on the very nice padded cane sun loungers, we were asked if we would like to book in for a half or full day session. The charge is AU$10 for 4 hours or AU$20 for 8 hours. That was the first and last time we visited the Oasis. The Gym and Spa (Deck 2) Not being Gym bunnies we didn't use the Gym, but we did go and have a noisy and spoke to a few people at dinner that did use it. The comments were all very favourable and that the equipment was all brand sparkling new. However the Steam room did play up a bit and was not operational a few times. As with all cruise ships the Spa and Salon prices were very expensive. Example of one of the specials. AU$139 for a 20-20-20 sampler. 75 minute Jewel Facial AU$275, Couples Seaweed Massage AU$399 for 75 minutes The Entertainment and the Entertainment Staff We have been on five previous cruises mainly on Princess and Royal Caribbean and would have to put the quality of the entertainment as some of the best we have seen. There has been a great variety in various venues. Some of the entertainment offered was Peter Byrne (Neil Diamond) Centre Stage(The Pacific Entertainers) James Galea - I Hate Rabbits (Magician)Bobby Dennis (Comedian) Clint Paddison (Comedian) Pirates 2 (The Pacific Entertainers) Acrobatic Show (Pacific Cirque) run Away To The Circus (The Pacific Entertainers) and the normal Game Shows involving the passengers. Zoltina J. was the Cruise Director and did an excellent job. She fronted all the main shows and lead the charge when it came to getting the passengers up and dancing. Her band of staff had their own strenghts and some weaknesses, but put a lot of energy into their roles. The Hit Machine were the party band on board and played a lot of the good party hits, although they didn't look old enough to be up as late as they did. Meals We have been spoilt in the past with a huge variety of food at the buffets on other ships and did find the selection a little dull in the Plantation restaurant. The was never hot in this restaurant, in fact the fried eggs on the last morning were stone cold. However, if you hadn't cruised before outside of the Pacific you would be very happy. It never seemed a problem to get a seat in the Plantation restaurant. Only had one lunch meal at The Grill and wasn't impressed. The meal was stone cold, but heard some great feed back from others about the quality and variety. We had all our evening meals at the Waterfront Restaurant, the lunch menu was very good. Once again you can see where they had spent their money on the refurbishment. Very nicely decorated and laid out. We sat in a variety of areas and at a variety of size tables. The service standard did vary a bit and you could tell the experienced wait staff. The Pacific Cirque It is nearly worth the cost of the cruise to see these guys perform. They were top standard and caused lots of grasps from the audience. Their show on the open deck was packed out, so get their early to secure a deck chair, however because of the height of their performance all areas on deck 12 and 14 are great viewing points. Their alternative show in the atrium combined with the laser show was also excellent. Movies The cinema on the Ocean Village was taken out to make room for the new Casino. The new 7m wide LCD screen on the top deck is a good alternative when the weather co-operates. Some of the movies played were: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE EAT,PRAY,LOVE ICE AGE 3 LETTERS TO JULIET MAMMA MIA THE ROMANTICS GREASE SHREK: FOREVER AFTER CHARLIE ST. CLOUD KARATE KID MAO'S LAST DANCE MARMADUKE THE SWITCH TAKERS Other activities on the big screen included Playstation and Wii competitions and a Special Bingo Game, plus a few concerts. As I said at the start, we have been spoilt by having been on a Royal Caribbean and a few Princess cruises so we were always comparing to those cruises. If you had not cruised before you would be over-whelmed. We did enjoy the cruise and met some great people and would mostly like do another P&O cruise again at some stage, but for the money we would first look at what other cruise lines had to offer. The NZ Customs and Ag Department boarded the ship in Noumea. Customs clearance was processed in The Dome on the 2nd to last day with a set appointment time. It took about five minutes if that and was a breeze. We were able to walk straight off the ship in Auckland, collect our bags and go. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our first trip on the Dawn. The room was well maintained, the staff were always friendly. Fiji was beautiful the Fijians were always friendly and helpful. The tours were wonderful, waterfalls, snorkelling, canoe rides, shopping, ... Read More
This was our first trip on the Dawn. The room was well maintained, the staff were always friendly. Fiji was beautiful the Fijians were always friendly and helpful. The tours were wonderful, waterfalls, snorkelling, canoe rides, shopping, something for everyone, and we will definatly go back. The kids program for teenagers is not that good and there is nothing for them to do after 9 or 10 and not really catered for this age group. But I heard nothing but praise for the younger children's kids club. Will sail again with P&O Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We had a few changes on our planned cruise so there were no real surprises when there were changes during the cruise. We started out with a planned cruise on Pacific Pearl but a change by P&O saw that ship doing cruises out of NZ when ... Read More
We had a few changes on our planned cruise so there were no real surprises when there were changes during the cruise. We started out with a planned cruise on Pacific Pearl but a change by P&O saw that ship doing cruises out of NZ when we wanted to cruise. A change was made to Pacific Jewel as it was cruising to two of the best island stops, Ouvea and Champagne Bay, along with Noumea and Vila. About 6 months out from the cruise Ouvea was changed to Lifou, reportedly because the natives were restless. Been to Lifou several times and I can't say it is a standout port. BOARDING. We were pretty early for boarding so we dropped our bags so we could go for a wander about Darling Harbour. After getting our Health Questionaire I asked if I could get an Immigration Departure form. No, we don't give those out till you have checked in. These must be extremely expensive bits of paper that must be doled out sparingly. So instead of filling out the form at my own leisure in the 3 hours I had spare before boarding, I got to fill it out after checking in before going through Immigration. Luckily they didn't see me purloning another 6 of these valuable pieces of paper otherwise I could have got into serious trouble! Not a big thing, just silly and another reason why P&O stands for 'poorly organized' at times. Other than that the check in was quite fast. CABIN. Bigger than on Princess, light and airy and our cabin steward, Eric, was good. No problems at all. THE SHIP. Same same, but different from Pacific Dawn. Minor variations in decor and bar names with the exception of The Dome becoming The Spa. There is a small disco bar up on the stbd side but there isn't much room with 20 people in there. P&O obviously believe they can get better value out of the Spa than a bar, but it seemed pretty deserted each time I stuck my head in there. The Waterfront Restaurant has a pretty good decor and the Plantation isn't that bad either. ENTERTAINMENT. Variable, standard RSL guest entertainers and production shows. The best night was the Circus show, very good. Pacific Pop Star featured very good singers from the passengers,some were better than the ship's entertainers. CRUISE DIRECTOR. Noortje from the Netherlands. Looking at the spelling we started calling her 'naughty girl'. In a word:- hopeless! I used to think Demo was a bit of a dill but she has set a new low standard. THEME NIGHTS. I don't know why P&O even bother. They do nothing to promote them onboard, there is limited pre cruise info and they swap them about willy nilly. No retro or rock n roll night but we had a pirate night follower by an island night. These two are so close in concept and dress etc that a separate nights are a waste. How much of this shambolic effort is due to the CD is unknown. Give me the good old Fairstar theme nights any time. FOOD. Generally very good. I think it is even better than the fare offered up by Princess. None of the higher end dishes, eg lobster, but what we did get was well done. Having a good waiter also improves the meal. I'm no fan of Anytime Dining as you can end up anywhere with anybody. It is defacto First and Second seating anyway because it is virtually impossible to book a table around 7:00 PM because the place fills up after 6:00 and nothing is available. We ended up rebooking the same table at 8:00 as we had a superb waiter (Budi on table 147) and everything flowed smoothly. Tried set lunch a few times and it was also very good. Prefer the Plantation buffet breakfast though. PORTS ETC. The weather started to intervene at Port Vila and a tropical low, eventually to develop into Cyclone Ata, off Champagne Bay saw that stop cancelled. Throughout the next couple days the Captain kept us all informed of the situation and efforts being made to find alternatives. We headed south and he tried to get us into the Isle of Pines but the cyclone was following us and it became a bit dicey for the tenders. He eventually arranged a scenic cruise around Balls Pyramid and Lord Howe Island on the way back to Sydney. We have been very lucky to do this as cruise ships don't go near there very often. The skipper in a word:- superb. The ship lacks a big second entertainment area like the Sky, Sun or Dawn Princess because of the location of the restaurant. Connextions was always crowded for various events karaoke, trivia etc. If you could get a combination of Princess and P&O it would be a pretty good cruise. Last but not least, the Carnival cost cutting is evident but the product is still pretty good but it could be better. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Forgive the late (nearly 4 years to be exact) review! But I just located my video camera footage and video diary from our cruise in Feb 2011, whilst unpacking our new house, and thought I may as well add it to the fold. How much relevance ... Read More
Forgive the late (nearly 4 years to be exact) review! But I just located my video camera footage and video diary from our cruise in Feb 2011, whilst unpacking our new house, and thought I may as well add it to the fold. How much relevance it will still hold, I don't know? But what the hey! We embarked in what was a bit of a kerfuffle in Sydney, we had P&O arranged fights and transfers and we're swiftly collected from Sydney Airport to a waiting coach to the terminal, this was pain free and quite convenient. The embarkation tent was a nightmare, people everywhere, no lines to speak of at some points and people scattered everywhere. The cattle call to get people through was very long and tiresome. I understand getting 2000 passengers on is no easy feat, but it definitely was not orderly in any way. The Oceanview room at the time was comfortable and quite spacious, the décor was a little dated with garish orange striped curtains and slightly worn carpet, but I would assume this would have been updated by now with the new enhancements to the Jewel recently. Our cabin steward was initially very good, but did have a habit of ignoring the do not disturb signs in the evening... causing a bit of a scare of us one night! Luckily we were only napping as hubby was badly sunburned in Lifou the previous day, we were polite about it (as we aren't nasty people, the cabin stewards work hard and don't need rudeness from passengers) but we did mention that we didn't need the turn down service and were ok to miss it if our do not disturb sign was on the door, no problems. But lo and behold a few nights later when I was napping after dinner, (with the sign out) in he comes again! "Sorry, sorry.." he said, again no problems... But he was very distant with us after that. We felt bad, but we never did anything to make him feel bad and were completely ok with it, but he seemed to be annoyed that we even put the sign out. Nevermind! Just one of those niggly things. I just like to feel that If I need privacy, I can have it.... Good location for the cabin, towards the back of the ship 6196. Relatively quiet - just a bit noisy on port days when using the tender boats (Lifou) as they come past the window outside... that got our attention! We opted for an upgrade if one came available for a better cabin category, initially we booked and paid for 5150 and a few weeks before departure, we noticed we'd been bumped up a category to Deck 6. Not all that different, but nice all the same. The ship overall was good for a first time cruiser out of Australia, all costs onboard in Aus dollars, no tipping etc. Well sized and not too overwhelming. Slightly lacklustre in the activities department on our cruise, many options if you had younger children, but for a late 20s/early 30s couple, it was underwhelming. Luckily we don’t mind just relaxing and we’re able to enjoy the experience for what it was. Bingo was a laugh and we did like to do this and have some fun with it, no winning – but enjoyable entertainment. The shows were average, don’t expect a Broadway musical – more like Local theatre, but have fun with it. No circus at sea, just due to the rough seas we had. Art auction was quite interesting though, but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. We only ate in the main dining room on the sailaway evening, we were travelling with another couple and had a table for 4. Service was good, no complaints – food was also good. We only ate in the main dining room that one evening as we didn’t like having to call and make a reservation every day, we all just found it easier to eat in the buffet when we felt like it. Buffet was good, sometimes a little repetitive – but that’s to be expected. Got a bit crowded in the mornings for breakfast, but was ok for lunch and dinner times as people varied that a bit. Not a lot of food on offer outside of meal times if you didn’t wish to pay for it, but no biggie there either. We had shocking weather on our cruise. Just terrible, terrible luck. We only had one real day of sunshine and that was gorgeous… happened to be our port day to Lifou, where my husband proceeded to get himself very burnt – even with sunscreen on! That put a dampener (literally) on any real lazing by the pool (which weren’t the best design of that ship and number of passengers) decks and outdoor areas were very windy and showery, quite blustery. So I think activities were a little thin on the ground inside to cope. We missed our final port of Champagne Bay, Vanuatu due to Cyclone Atu sweeping through the region at the time, we appreciated the captain’s stance on not putting our safety in jeopardy and heading to safer waters as soon as possible. Completely understandable. P&O and the ship’s crew did attempt to find us an alternate port to make up for the day’s loss at Champagne bay, we attempted to tender at Isle of Pines as a substitute, but the waters were too rough to safely operate them, so we had to call it quits and head toward Sydney. The captain did try and make it up and took us on a scenic cruise past a World Heritage Site, Bells Pyramid and the Lord Howe Island Marine Park, which was lovely. Again, no one’s fault, just rotten luck and made for a bit of a long “cabin fever-esque” trip back to Australia. Noumea: Very nice and interesting place. Being our first cruise we went with a ship tour to the Noumea aquarium, some scenic highlights and past Anse Vata Beach on the way back. The aquarium was nice, but nothing spectacular. But the sightseeing was a nice sampler of the place. We were thankful when we returned to the ship later that evening as we head some other passengers recounting how they’d paid a local “tour operator” a cheaper sum than offered by the cruise line to do the same tour, he’d taken them to the Aquarium and advised he’d be back and never showed up again… luckily the last ship tour had some spare seats, took pity on them and bought them back. We also did the glass bottom boat ride out around Amadee Island, very nice. Just not a particularly brilliant day weather wise, it was raining in the morning and came out in patchy cloud that afternoon – which didn’t make things as fun. We went for a short walk around the town area just where the boat docks, it’s interesting… again, not exactly comfortable with what seems to be a lot of local groups just hanging around the place. Some were friendly, others seemed to want to try and intimidate you. So we just looked at a few streets and headed back on board a few hours before sail away. Lifou: Our nice, warm, blue skies “what we imagined the South Pacific to be” destination! We didn’t do a tour here, just got off the ship on the tender boats (bit of a queue for that!) and went for a walk along the main road. Locals were very friendly and waved as you passed by. We spent the afternoon snorkelling just by the jetty/tender dock and enjoyed seeing the gorgeous tropical fish in the aqua water. Even though hubby’s back and back of his legs were lobster red that night, he said it was his trip highlight. It was mine too. We later found out there was a much more calm and scenic snorkelling reef a few mins walk over the other side of the island that is more sheltered, but we didn’t know at the time! Vila: Very jungle like and green as you dock, but seems to be that you dock in a very industrial type area – not in the town as you do in Noumea. We had an organised tour (Off road buggys!) so we waited in the waiting tent down on the dock for our tour transport with the other 10 or so people from the ship. Some rickety old vans arrived to take us to the Buggy place, I can honestly say their driving style is a little more daring than I’m used to in Australia! Darting across roads, overtaking… wow, bit of an eye opener! Off road buggy’s was hilarious fun – again it was a light misty rain that day, so everything was muddy. Don’t wear anything you don’t want covered in it! The actual venue was a paddock with a rustic shed, full of cows and chickens. We were taken through paddocks on to actual roads with cars, past homes and other sights – it was great. Coming back there were so many stalls lining the roadside to meet the ship, locals selling trinkets and crafts, we didn’t bother walking back as it had started raining heavily by that point, so we just jumped back on board. Leaving Vila the sky was black in Port, a few passengers names were being called over the loudspeaker asking them to report to the ship immediately. This went on for a while, and eventually we left port. It was then that the captain announced the cyclone and that heading up to Champagne Bay would be unsafe. We had some rock n roll waves for that cruise, Captain said they were very large over 20ft at some points, it was a bit of a hold on tight time! Water was splashing on our Deck 6 high window and the passenger decks were closed off a lot, but I must say for a 70,000 tonne mid-sized cruise ship, the Jewel did very well and I never felt unsafe or sick for that matter (we did take sea sickness tablets each night as a precaution). Public rooms such as the toilets left a lot to be desired, with frequent overflowing, paper everywhere and no cleaners in sight. People can be such pigs, but I did avoid the restrooms in the public areas after a while I must admit... So in closing, it wasn’t the best of times, but it was a holiday at a really good price for 10 nights! I say this even having had hot water spilled in my lap at Afternoon tea, they tried to cram everyone together to make it easier to serve. The boat lurched and the waiter was struggling to get between squished patrons and the water went straight in my lap from the teapot! It wasn't too scalding, but it wasn't pleasant either. He was very apologetic and I understand it was an accident and he was working in conditions that weren't optimal. I was taken to the Medical centre for a check up, where I must say they were more concerned with getting me to admit I was ok, that see if I was actually OK! I'm not once to capitalize on a mistake when i'm truly alright, so I said i'd see how my red legs came up the next day before answering their questions however! Then they told me "no charge" for the medical visit... Uh... I should think not! haha I was ok, no ongoing pain and the redness was gone in a few hours after a cold pack was applied, but there was zero follow up and no reply to my feedback on the dining room set up for afternoon tea set up. Not really the best service experience. I would say now that there is the water park and a few other items on Jewel things would have improved vastly, but upon looking back we realise and understand it is a more budget friendly line and expectations need to be in line with that. Take it for what it is, great value and honest fun at sea and enjoy what you can. We loved cruising as a whole and are going again, this time with Royal Caribbean to New Zealand.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
The actual port of embarkation/disembarkation is Brisbane.Embarkation: A nightmare!! We arrived at the cruise terminal at Hamilton Brisbane around 10:20am and found every single other person must have arrived at the same time! It took us ... Read More
The actual port of embarkation/disembarkation is Brisbane.Embarkation: A nightmare!! We arrived at the cruise terminal at Hamilton Brisbane around 10:20am and found every single other person must have arrived at the same time! It took us almost an hour and half from arriving to actually boarding the ship. Not good with two young children. Our 3 yr old was particularly distressed by the time we were nearly boarding.A tip...take your own pen to fill out the necessary forms. P&O appear too stingy to supply any and so we had to borrow one of a couple of different people as I had accidently packed ours in our main luggage rather than the carry on variety...bad idea!! With our previous cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas, we had no such embarkation problems. I did speak to some people who have previously cruised on the Dawn. They said they have never seen it that bad before so perhaps it was just a one off. Room: we had an obstructed view cabin on deck 8. Very spacious compared to our similar room on the Rhapsody. The shower/bathroom was larger on the Dawn for starters and we had more cupboard space. The fridge was a good addition (ice bucket only on Rhapsody) plus a more modern flat screen TV (not that we used it much). We were quite impressed with the room. Well done P&O. We had no major noise issues during the cruise except for the party people in the cabin next door. Can't do much about that though.Casual/Buffet Food: very disappointed with the buffet (Cafe Del Sol). Nothing like the Rhapsody of the Seas. Didn't appreciate having to join a long line of people just in order to get very inadequate food most of the time. P&O would do well to look at the way RCI does a buffet. Much more choice (and no lining up!) onboard the Rhapsody. A definite thumbs down for this. Having said that, I did speak to a first time cruiser who absolutely loved the buffet. I guess when you have nothing to compare it to, you may be impressed. Not much choice in the way of included drinks either. RCI at least has lemonade and fruit punch in addition to water at it's drink stations. No hot chocolate included for the kids either on P&O (I don't a hot choc either). Having fries available for lunch free but then charging for them at night is a bit bewildering too P&O. I also missed the complimentary pizza, chips, hotdogs and hamburgers that the Rhapsody has by it's indoor pool up till 2am in the morning. The Dawn didn't even have pizza from what I could tell, and you had to pay extra for a hamburger or hotdog at the Grill. On a positive note they did a kid's tea time menu in the buffet which was great for our kids.Main Dining: food here was very good to excellent. Staff were quite attentive and we didn't have to wait long for service and/or food etc. Plenty of choice, unlike the buffet, and much more included (kids and I appreciated ice-cream & chips without extra charge lol).If we cruise on the Dawn again we will be spending most of our eating time here. Lesson learnt...We didn't dine at the Salt Grill. We didn't particular want to part with $40 per person ourselves, but from the people we spoke to who did, they enjoyed it.Children's Clubs: my two children were in Turtle Cove (3-6 yr olds). They had a blast!! We had trouble keeping them out of there! Good facilities with friendly staff. Good work P&O.Public Areas: these were nicer than I expected for a 3 & a half star older ship. Ok, they weren't as good as Rhapsody, but I never expected them to be. Everything was generally tidy and clean looking most of the time.Entertainment: was hit and miss but overall not too bad. We particularly enjoyed the circus performances and the Pirates of the Pacific show. The champagne waterfall was a waste of time for us...we stayed to watch as I've seen some people whinge about one not being included on certain cruises. Must be an older person thing. Ports: 1st port of call was Noumea. We went here on our last cruise. Not particularly fond of Noumea but the chocolate shop that someone recommended on here was worth a look. A little expensive but I haven't tasted chocolate like it...very nice indeed. 2nd stop was at Lifou. Beautiful place. Would go back there tomorrow as we love to swim and snorkel. Very good snorkeling on the other side of the island (about a 10 - 15min walk from where you land) at Jinek Bay. I could've spent hours there. Got some great underwater shots from that location.3rd stop was Port Vila Vanuatu. Another beautiful place with many different activities to do. Cheap duty free shopping in town. Got a bottle of Jim Beam 2L for $20 and 2 bottles of 1L Smirnoff Vodka for $23. There may have been cheaper shops around as we only visited the one place in town, but we were more concerned about getting to Hideaway Is to swim and snorkel. We loved this place. A little, uncrowded tropical island with great swimming and good snorkeling. It has the world's only underwater post office (apparently). A gimmick I know, but I couldn't resist. We had to send a couple of letters lol. We would also go back here in a heartbeat.Disembarkation: a hell of a lot better than getting on! We were off the ship and in our car in around 20 minutes or so. Not too bad at all.All in all, we had a great time on this holiday with our kids and we would certainly consider doing it again if the right circumstances came up. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We enjoyed most of this cruise and the ship appointments. (we actually left from Brisbane but this option is not available on the drop down list)THINGS WE LOVED: The ship itself, The pools, the waiting and entertainment staff, the ... Read More
We enjoyed most of this cruise and the ship appointments. (we actually left from Brisbane but this option is not available on the drop down list)THINGS WE LOVED: The ship itself, The pools, the waiting and entertainment staff, the special night at SALTGRILL..well worth the extra $40, the trivia, the bingo, the restaurant meals (rarely ate in the buffet so no comment), Our lovely steward LEVIN, our suite (we upgraded to one of the full suite on Aloha deck from a mini suite on B deck after reading another review in this section below. It was well worth it just to get the Nescafe espresso machine. The review on this forum re the noisy deck above the mini suites actually turned out to be very valid as we saw a woman come up onto the deck screaming at the kids for scraping chairs on the roof at midnight so I think we made the best choice to upgrade and not take a mini suite at all. Some of our kids loved HQ, the kids club, the older ones avoided the 15-17 year old HQ plus. I believe the age for the older club should be 14-17 as our 14 year olds didn't want to hang around in a place full of really young children.Things we wondered about: Why we only got one knife and fork with our room service morning breakfasts which were clearly ordered for two people, Why there was no coke machine or vending machine available for our 16-18 year olds so they could get a drink late in the evening when everything was closed except the nightclub. Why the shore excursions cost so much more than we could organise ourselves. Why the photos were so expensive when a far better option in this day and age would be to have them browsable and printable from a photo kiosk rather than having to cover the cost of thousands of photos no one wanted to buy. I'd love a dollar for every printed one they had to shred at the end of the trip, it would have covered my bar bill! NOTE: Have all photos viewable from kiosks and available for a $20 print fee and you'd sell a lot more P&O ! Things we hated: one family member had a queasy stomach and a touch of gastro.. nothing more serious than he gets at home. He asked for a tablet at the medical centre and was quarantined for 24 hours, missing out on the best day of the cruise with his children. He was completely fine and had no problem for the rest of the cruise. I understand the need for a quarantine if he was nauseous, vomiting etc.(all the symptoms of norovirus) but a 24 hr quarantine when he was just after a precautionary tablet was a bit of an overreaction in this particular case. Stock up on your own tablets because a visit to the medical centre for any reason will cost you... ! The cameraman who set up his camera right in front of us on Comedy Night when a simple roof mounted camera would have provided not only a better shot of the comedian for those at the back who couldn't see him but also wouldn't have blocked the view for those of us who could ! TIPS: take your own lanyard or be prepared to pay $7 or so for a "souvenir" one. Buy a photo on day one to get your USB drive and wait until the last day to buy any others. Do your own sightseeing shore excursions if possible. We had a local driver take ten of us to the mele cascades in Vanuatu for the same price two people would have paid to see the same sight via a ship-booked shore excursion. If more than four of you definitely book a regular table in the Palm Court restaurant if you don't like buffet food. Book at least ONE meal in SALTGrill. We found Duty Free cigarettes and alcohol much cheaper in Vila than on the boat. Visit Hideaway island and the Mele Cascades when in Vila. In Lifou walk over the hill (walk up towards the church on the left hand side of the beach along the road and take the first turn to the right to Turtles Next.. so much better for snorkelling but remember to wear reef shoes or boot fins as its not an easy access to the water. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Previous Oct 2010 south pacific cruise from Sydney cancelled so a 25% discount for this one prompted upgrade to mini suite on deck eleven, big mistake.Noise from top (pool) deck was horrendous music too loud and especially the scraping ... Read More
Previous Oct 2010 south pacific cruise from Sydney cancelled so a 25% discount for this one prompted upgrade to mini suite on deck eleven, big mistake.Noise from top (pool) deck was horrendous music too loud and especially the scraping & banging of tables and chairs at 3,4 & 5am, management obviously aware of this problem for some time proven by fellow passengers stating that their travel agent had warned them against selecting cabins on this deck, When you pay for the most expensive cabin you expect according conditions, not on this ship.Control of children especially in the adult only whirlpool spa areas of the pool deck was non existent.Should have done more research into scheduled on board activities (is that possible?) would have known cruise theme was "Bogan Bingo Trivia Festival".Set up of bars was poor almost like suburban pub or club.The Oasis bar can only be accessed by paying membership of $10/day.Majority of entertainers were sub standard and the scheduling of their appearance was quite hectic/confusing.Drinks very expensive(and no excise?)may be making up for the cancelled cruise.Have to pay for spa/gym access, never on previous cruises even with P&O.TV screens in cabins may be a minor point but its 2011 not 1990 upgrade required so you can at least "see the picture". Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Have just returned from a 3 night "cruise" aboard the Pacific Jewel. First the good: Fabulous cabin. Had a twin bed inside on deck 11 one of the cheapest 2 bed cabins available but it was huge and very comfortable and very ... Read More
Have just returned from a 3 night "cruise" aboard the Pacific Jewel. First the good: Fabulous cabin. Had a twin bed inside on deck 11 one of the cheapest 2 bed cabins available but it was huge and very comfortable and very clean. Next time will get a cabin with a window or balcony but inside cabin was fine for 3 nights and it was cheap. Excellent food. Both the buffet and the silver service dining room (Waterfront Restaurant) the only 2 dining areas where you didn't have to pay to eat were excellent. We did not try the other restaurants where you have to pay although we tried to get into the Salt Grill a couple of hours after we boarded but it was booked out for the whole cruise. Very good entertainment Loved the Plantation restaurant - sitting in comfort, enjoying nice food and looking at the fabulous view - bliss Cabin steward was excellent Ship in very good condition We did not find ourselves having to queue much at all. We booked for dinner every night and we avoided the dinner queue which was quite long some nights. However see my comment below about the problems with having the book for dinner every night and not being sure you will get in. Cost of cruise was very reasonable And now the not so good ... We were supposed to depart at 4pm and spend 3 days cruising. Instead we departed around midnight and sailed down the coast to Jervis Bay where we dropped anchor around mid morning the next day. We remained there until the following day when we sailed back to Sydney. The reason given by the cruise director for doing this was to avoid the rough weather further out to sea. On the last morning we learned from a fellow passenger that the same thing happened when he went on a 3 night P&O cruise a couple of months earlier. He said however there were no rough seas on that cruise so the reason for dropping anchor at Jervis Bay was a mystery. There is of course a massive saving in fuel costs when a ship stays put rather than sailing around the ocean. the open air circus on the top open air deck near the pools, which I believe is unique to Pacific Jewel, was scheduled for the night we left Sydney. It was raining all day that day and the forecast was for more showers in the evening. After boarding we were told that the circus had been cancelled "due to the rain". It was not rescheduled for another evening. It is a mystery why it was scheduled for the first evening when the weather was so wet and why it was not rescheduled for the following evening or the evening after. No satisfactory explanation was given. Having to book a table for dinner at the silver service dining room (the only dining room/restaurant where you did not have to pay to eat - apart from the buffet)was very stressful. There was only one hotline number to ring and whenever you rang, the number was engaged so you had to ring many many times before you got onto someone. If you didn't ring and book soon enough you could miss out on a table at the dining room and would have to go to the buffet. Most people are on holidays to get away from stress so this kind of arrangement is not good. I believe with some other lines you book meal times when you book your cruise. meal time options were either too early or too late. The options were 5.30pm, 6pm, 8pm and one other which I think was some time after 8pm. Would probably not sail with P&O again because of the Jervis Bay issue. Some tips: You don't need to take a lanyard with you or buy one on board. A piece of thin (round) hat elastic is all you need. Poke it through the hole at the top of the cruise card and the door key and tie a knot and put it around your neck. Simple and very cheap. Don't forget to take your phone charger with you Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
I have previously sailed with Royal Carribean (RCI) & so have reasonable expectations of service & style. Unfortunately my cruise last year on Pacific Dawn was a bit of a let down by comparrison.I sailed with my elderly mother ... Read More
I have previously sailed with Royal Carribean (RCI) & so have reasonable expectations of service & style. Unfortunately my cruise last year on Pacific Dawn was a bit of a let down by comparrison.I sailed with my elderly mother & teenage daughter during the school holidays. & overall I just could not help but compare the two lines. P&O was left wanting in almost every capacity. I felt the food on the Dawn in the cafe was on par with a very average club bistro, was consistently at a 'just' warm enough temperature, lacked continuity (ie bolognaise sauce, but then no spaghetti etc)& limited choice that would appeal to kids considering it was a school holiday cruise. The pool side set up for lunch was reasonable but limited again in choice for kids(IE not to many kids enjoyed the choice between prawn croissants or turkey & blue cheese wraps) nice by my standards but not theirs... so chips 'again' it was for many of them! The dinning room, if you could manage to get in every night, had some good points but always either felt rushed or drawn out never a happy medium. Choices for a teenager were scarce. Meal sizes were inconsistent, at times poorly cooked & only just warm. In comparison to RCI, where every meal was an adventure served up by the most attentive of waiters, there is just no comparison. For the most part, with difficulty at times getting into the dinning room , & lack of variety in the bistro for dinner,I just always felt that I was being forced into paying the additional money at one of the 'exclusive' restaurants. To go back to the topic of attentive service, this was another point of no comparison. The P&O staff for the most part just didn't seem to care if passengers were having a good time. Were at times quite rude & left you thinking even the most basic of requests was a huge inconvenience. Nothing like the diligence & attention to detail of all staff I came into contact with on RCI. The entertainment was hit & miss. The circus was excellent, very talented & skilled individuals. The stage shows however left a lot to be desired. The singing & dancing was again fairly club like & seemed to lack imagination. The guest artists were OK I guess... if you were 70! I just wish cruise lines in general would keep up with their demographics. The passengers are not all 70 & would like some of the evening stage shows to be a little more updated with perhaps a more modern line up of music, not just the number 1 hits of the 50's! Overall I was left with a bit of a sense of disappointment with it all. With so many cruise lines now choosing to service Australia & at generally comparative or lesser costs, P&O should really take a lesson in service, & attention to detail from the other lines lest they loose many to these other international lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Having only sailed on the Pacific Dawn four months prior (Xmas 2010), we knew what to expect. Once again we were sailing to New Caledonia and Vanuatu from Brisbane but with some different ports of call this time. The Pacific Dawn is ... Read More
Having only sailed on the Pacific Dawn four months prior (Xmas 2010), we knew what to expect. Once again we were sailing to New Caledonia and Vanuatu from Brisbane but with some different ports of call this time. The Pacific Dawn is apparently only a 3 star cruise ship but it is very comfortable, more than adequate and everything seems to function well. In fact, our cabins on both trips were equal to or better than most 4 or 5 star hotel rooms in regard to the cleanliness and amenities. Embarkation We drive up to Hamilton wharf from the Gold Coast which usually only takes 50 -- 60 minutes and we leave our car with Portside Parking. I'd recommend their services and they provide a shuttle bus to take you and your luggage around the corner to the terminal. Since we arrived quite early and before the crowds and queues, we only waited a few minutes until we were checked in. This was followed by a wait of just over 30 minutes before going into Customs and then on board. Cabin Our family of four shared an ocean view cabin on this trip, C179 on deck 9. The layout of two single beds with bunks above was a bit tight on occasions but had more room than an equivalent cabin we had on Sun Princess. Likewise, the bathroom was roomier and a better layout on Pacific Dawn and had much better wardrobe space. The cabins on the Dawn have bar fridges, something that the grander Rhapsody Of The Seas doesn't have! Facilities There's always plenty to do on Pacific Dawn. Both times we sailed on her were 9 night cruises and we were never bored. P&O go out of their way to ensure that there is plenty to keep passengers entertained on sea days, much more so than other cruise lines. During the day ... between eating (as there's plenty of that on offer!) we did the usual stuff like trivia, song competitions, deck games, juggling classes, new release movies, lectures, virtual bridge tour (very interesting), how-to classes or laid around the pool for some R&R. After dinner there's plenty of shows to choose from, movies, karaoke, Pacific Popstars competition, the staff talent show and The Dome nightclub. At times it can be quite hard finding time to catch up on sleep! On our previous PD cruise we weren't aware that there was access out onto the front observation deck from a hidden doorway on deck 10. We often went out there to sample the weather head-on. In a strong gale it's fun trying to stand up and hold on! We've been on ships with public areas that are slightly cleaner than Pacific Dawn. The windows surrounding the top deck don't appear to be cleaned very often and some of the upholstery in the buffet restaurant is grubby in places (probably due to little kids) but the cabins and indoor areas are fine. Dining We had afternoon tea (on sea days) in the Palm Court Dining Room. The tea was really nice, albeit a little weak, beautiful fresh scones (still warm) with jam and cream and petit fores and sandwiches. But be careful, afternoon tea is held for about half an hour or so from 3:00 pm and you may need to delay dinner to a later sitting. Comparing it to Sun Princess, Pacific Dawn doesn't have the string quartet playing but has much nicer scones! Most nights we had dinner in Palm Court at our usual table for the four of us. The waiting staff are always excellent, they try really hard and are always smiling. We even had some of the same waiting staff as on our cruise 4 months before. They often entertained us teaching us napkin folding techniques and did the odd magic tricks etc. On a 9 night cruise the variety on the menu does tend to get a bit monotonous but the quality is always excellent. Anyhow, who cares when someone else is cooking, especially when the standard of food and service is better than most restaurants on land. We rarely ate in the buffet as it can get busy at times and the visible gluttony can put you off eating! There's plenty of variety and I could always find things I really like. It all tasted great and was well prepared. I often read reviews where people make negative comments about buffet restaurants on ships. Maybe some people have unrealistically high expectations but I'd consider them to be above average compared to most buffet services on land. We need to keep it in perspective. Most of us wouldn't or couldn't prepare anything close to what they offer here and then there's no cleaning up afterwards. At Sea The Coral Sea crossing from Brisbane to Noumea was remarkably calm, barely even a visible swell. Our previous crossing had slightly more action which is always fun. Even the nights between Noumea, Mystery Island, Port Vila and Pentecost Island were reasonably calm. The day after we departed Pentecost Island the Captain announced that they were planning to scout around a tropical depression in the Coral Sea to avoid high winds and storms. As the swell picked up that evening, the absence of crowds of passengers around the buffet and restaurants indicated that many were confined to their cabins, either with seasickness or fear! The swell picked up to about 6 metres that night accompanied by a Force 7 gale. I remember being jolted awake and was amazed at how much movement there was. But after returning to bed from the bathroom in a sleepy daze I realised that the movement is not so noticeable when you're on your feet. This continued into the next day but it had reduced a bit. The official log of the cruise mentioned that seas were moderate to rough the previous day and confirmed the wave height was 6 metres. Fortunately it didn't affect us as we have never been seasick. At the Captain's Cocktail Party that evening he mentioned that he was aware of some movement of the ship and that the stabilizers were in operation. I'm glad he knew what was going on! Ports of Call Noumea: This was our first time to Noumea and we'd heard a few stories from passengers on one of our previous Dawn cruises recounting a violent encounter with some locals in Noumea one night so we were a little wary. To make the most of the visit we booked a P&O shore tour on board the day before to take a tour on the Tchou Tchou train. At $59 per adult it wasn't cheap but was well worth it. We had heard that there were several similar street trains (sometimes referred to as Bumble Bee trains) charging around $25 per head departing from the wharf area but we took the safe option. Our tour also included morning tea and lasted a little longer, around 90 minutes. We had quite a bit of fun with some of the other passengers during the tour, mainly at the expense of the tour guide ... an older pompous English lady with a very monotonous voice who had lived there for over 30 years. It was a great way to see the city, visiting a few lookouts, passing the grander homes, the back streets and plenty of the foreshore and beautiful beaches. Being Easter Sunday the streets were relatively quiet as not many shops were open. We stopped for about 20 minutes at the big cannon lookout where they served tea, coffee, soft drinks and a variety of very nice gateaus and petit fours. What better way to enjoy your stay in France!! The huge distant mountains, the biggest lagoon on earth, the undulating hills dotted with pines and the architecture make Noumea one of the prettiest cities I've ever seen. Mystery Island: Our second time here. It's a beautiful spot, very small and mostly unspoiled. It's possible to walk around the whole island in about 40 minutes. From the tender jetty, it's only a two minute walk to the other side of the island and a beautiful little bay. Most of the island is surrounded by a reef/atoll with waves breaking in the distance. The swimming and snorkeling areas are therefore in a lagoon, the white sand giving the water a quintessential tropical island aqua colour. It takes about 10 -- 15 minutes via tender as cruise ships need to anchor oust side of the lagoon. The water is very clear and teeming with brightly coloured fish. The island has a few huts on it where the locals from nearby Anetyum Island hold their market stalls. The only other structures are the recently constructed toilet block, the airport terminal (similar size to the toilet block!) and a radio tower. Air Vanuatu services the airport with twin engine propeller aircraft. The airstrip was carved out of the foliage by US Marines during WWII, so there's some interesting history here. The locals also sell freshly cooked lobsters for AU$10 each. Although several passengers bought and ate the lobsters we were advised that it was risky to have them cut in half as P&O couldn't guarantee the hygiene of the knives. We didn't hear of anyone encountering any problems after eating the lobster. Some of the local men have a really good band playing near the jetty, a few acoustic guitars and a thong-o-phone! They sing traditional spiritual tunes in brilliant harmony. A few classes of the school kids from a nearby mission also sing for the tourists and are very thankful of a few donations of Aussie dollars, they're really cute and funny! There's usually two small boys dressed as warriors complete with a bow and sharp looking arrow. They'll pose for a photo with you but make sure you give their mum a dollar or two or leave it in the tin. Overall, Mystery Island is a highlight of Vanuatu, it's an idyllic place to spend an hour or two or most of the day. Port Vila: We learned from our previous visit that we wouldn't go into town in a taxi but do a shore excursion instead. We were a bit disappointed on our visit a few months prior, it was a bit seedy in town and we saw a few drug deals going down. Although, we have since visited Bali on a cruise and the Port Vila CBD is a breeze in comparison! This time, we did the glass bottom boat snorkeling tour which was brilliant. Although the day was overcast, the brightly coloured coral fish were in abundance. The boat leaves from the port immediately behind the Pacific Dawn, about 2 minutes walk away. The 3 local guys running the tour were very helpful, informative and polite. Snorkeling equipment is included in the price of AU$59 and the snorkels appear to be hygienically treated before use. They offered refreshments of bottled water and Weston's (made in Brisbane) biscuits! There wasn't much to see from the glass bottom boat itself due to the weather but there was plenty to see while snorkeling in Port Vila bay, just off the Iriki Island resort in about 4 - 6m of water. The tour ran for about 90 minutes in total, the snorkeling for about an hour. In brilliant sunshine the snorkeling would be even more amazing. Pentecost Island: It was a real privilege coming to this rarely visited island. Ships only visit here for 5 -- 6 weeks each year during April and May so passengers can witness the ancient vine diving by the Bunlap people (original bungee jumping). We anchored close to shore and were the only vessel in the bay apart from a small luxury motor yacht sporting a roof top helicopter and a few jet skis at the rear. It was only a short tender ride to the jetty adjacent to the small mission village. The Bunlap people who live on the other side of the island are one of the few civilisations who still live traditionally without any western trappings. They wear grass skirts and wraps and were performing dances and singing. The mission people wear t-shirts, shorts and dresses etc. As we walked along a furrowed track through the village to the jumping tower, some of the kids had things to show the tourists like turtles, birds and a python. So most people have a pat, take a picture and drop a dollar or two in their tin. Nice people and very appreciative. Two days before we departed on this cruise we saw a National Geographic documentary about Pentecost Island so we felt very familiar and excited about our visit here. We even recognised some of the Bunlap elders from the doco and felt an affinity with them. As we got close to the jumping area some of the locals offered passport stamping for $2 each. I couldn't refuse this as the stamp featuring the vine jumping tower is a bit of a rarity. As the tower came into view on a steep slope in front of a large flat field with log seating, it felt almost like a religious experience. The tower was huge, made of logs and bamboo tied together with vine with various platforms sticking out at different heights. It resembled a giant crucifix! It was overcast, very warm and humid and some occasional light rain but nobody seemed to care. We found a position not far from the base of the tower and waited for quite a while. Up on the hill next to the tower the Bunlap people did continuous dances, singing and the strange whistle chanting. Eventually, a few men and adolescent boys walked through the crown of around 1,500 people ready to climb the tower. One Bunlap chap patted me on the shoulder on the way past and gave me a big smile and a thumbs up. I felt really special as I didn't see it happen to anyone else. Maybe I was in the way a bit! So cutting to the chase, the first to jump was a kid about 12 years old from the lowest platform. Just like the grown-ups do, he waved to the crowd, blew kisses, did a little gyrating dance and then leapt off ... followed by a loud crack as the platform takes his weight when the vines reach their limit. I can't remember how he landed but there was a loud 'Oooohh' from the crowd. He seemed to recover a few seconds later with some assistance from some of the men. The next to jump was a slightly older lad but he couldn't go through with it and reluctantly climbed back down in tears. The crowd really felt for him and applauded enthusiastically. Then one of the men did a slightly higher entertaining dive, complete with his dance and encouraging the crowd. He managed to just touch his hair on the cultivated soil in the landing area which apparently leads to a good yam harvest. By this stage, a handful of miserable people appeared to be leaving, some shaking their heads mumbling words to the effect of "it's cruel" or "it should be banned". Ok, it's a tradition that's been in existence for thousands of years so let's make them stop it because some boof-head passenger on the Pacific Dawn says so!! As the afternoon went on the senior jumpers leapt from higher and higher up the tower. By the time we headed back to the ship I was kind of relieved as it was getting more and more difficult to watch and I was glad that nobody got hurt. When we got back on board the captain made some announcements and mentioned that the nearby luxury yacht belonged to a famous movie star and his equally famous wife was onboard. What he was trying to discretely elude to was that it was Angelia Jolie. I lent my binoculars to quite a few passengers who swore they could see her. I could make out the name 'Plan B' on its stern and my son went to the internet kiosk to check it out. Apparently, 'Plan B' belongs to Brad!! Disembarking Very smooth, no complications. Just sad to be leaving and heading back to the real world! Overall, a very enjoyable cruise with lots of great memories and nothing worth complaining about. The staff were great, we had lots of fun and met plenty of nice folks. We would have no hesitation sailing on Pacific Dawn again. In fact, Christmas 2012 to Fiji on the Dawn is already booked. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
yes, This is not the QEII. it is a bit like going out to dinner at the local bistro at the pub or an RSL. yes it caters to a lower socio economic class. not that this is a bad thing, just be prepared. the price reflects this, it is ... Read More
yes, This is not the QEII. it is a bit like going out to dinner at the local bistro at the pub or an RSL. yes it caters to a lower socio economic class. not that this is a bad thing, just be prepared. the price reflects this, it is very good value for money. treat the experience as being on an overnight ferry to a destination rather than as a cruise per se. there are many things to do on board whilst you are en route. you will be able to do whatever you want and if this means sitting doing nothing then great, reading then great, eating, playing in the naff activities etc all good.funnily enough the casino was muuuuuch better than the casinos you get in australia i.e nowhere near as much kitsch and flashing lights etc. Ports of call. I loved noumea and port vila. mystery island is dull and not worth it. Pentecost island was ok but all a bit staged, the best was getting away from the crowds and wandering away for a bit. food is excellent for the price. the crowd expects quantity and they give that. sure it is not the top quality but you are at the floating equivalent of a pub bistro and you are paying a low price because of it. drinks. i cannot stand companies that impose restrictions on what you can consume/take on board/etc. it is a nannying way to do things. BUT having said that with the crowd on board it would have become extremely boozy and i reckon as aggressive as a drunk cricket crowd if there was bring your own alcohol. it wasnt too expensive i dont know where everyone buys their drinks perhaps at the rsl or leagues clubs but really, compared with melbourne city (and i suspect sydney as well) prices it was very reasonable. staff are all great. they are an international staff (canadian entertainment, romanian croupiers, indian bar staff, filipino wait staff and english and italian in charge of the ship) and the standards of service are higher than that you often get in australian pubs/bistros/casinos etc. Embarkation. p and o were fine despite the chaos at the dock. security in australia were ridiculous. asking people to go through metal detectors to get on an enormous ship is absurd. once you are through you find your own way which i thought was good. i do not want to be hassled forever by staff and this is something that p and o were good at - ie leaving you be. compare that with being on any aircraft with constant nagging by staff. summary - if you want a "cruise" in the sense of a romantic/high quality/olde world type experience, don't go on P&O. if you just want a cheap holiday without the hassle of getting on an aircraft etc, with plenty of food and things to do or not to do, then treat the ship as a ferry and enjoy yourself. that's what we all did and had a pretty good time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My mother and I recently attended one of your "FOOD & WINE" cruises out of Sydney on the 29th April 2011. I had booked this last July 2010 as a surprise for my mother for her 60th and was very excited to give this to her for ... Read More
My mother and I recently attended one of your "FOOD & WINE" cruises out of Sydney on the 29th April 2011. I had booked this last July 2010 as a surprise for my mother for her 60th and was very excited to give this to her for her birthday January 2011 as I know how much she has enjoyed previous cruises she had been on with other companies. I knew it was a large amount of money to save and since we are from Perth I would have to book air fares and accommodation as well. So January came around and I finally got to give her this as a gift and she was so excited and told me about the other cruises she has been on with Rhapsody of the Sea and Virgo. By now I knew I had spent my hard saved money on a gift my mother would truly love and what a way to celebrate her 60th with. The afternoon on the 29th we boarded the Pacific Jewel and were very excited. We went upstairs for the opening party and enjoyed a few cocktails. We were very excited about leaving the dock so we could see the stunning harbour as we left and this being my first time in Sydney I thought how lucky I was to be able to see it from a ship leaving on a cruise. We didn't sail when we were supposed to - I believe there was an announcement that said we would be sailing a little late. I think "a little late" was around midnight - this was disappointing because I wouldn't see Sydney Harbour and the Opera House - one of the best views I believe from any Harbour in the World - but at the time I thought - I'd probably see it coming in - but guess what - we docked in the wee hours of the morning so we didn't even get to see this. We thought we would try one of the restaurants for dinner, so we went to the Waterfront Restaurant on our first night and were seated very fast. I was excited to see the menu and we started to look at the wine list, then another two ladies (travel agents) were seated at our table. I had no problem with this as I am a very social person and it was lovely to meet new people. The waiter then came over to ask if he could get us anything to drink, we let the other two ladies order first and half way through ordering a bottle of wine the waiter walked away and said hello to other people on another table. We all were a little shocked at this behaviour and thought it very rude. While waiting for the waiter to return back, if he was coming back, the ladies informed us that the main restaurant Salt Grill with chef Luke Mangan had been booked out for the whole weekend. We were shocked to say the least as the boat hadn't even left the harbour and the restaurant was booked out for the next 3 days. At no time were we advised the need to book restaurants in advance or at least when we arrived at the wharf. Eventually the waiter came back to our table and took our food and wine orders. The food was very average but I thought maybe this was just one of the less popular restaurants on this "FOOD & WINE" cruise. I said to my mother we will try another restaurant tomorrow night. We went and had a drink in the bar which was nice and then watched one of the entertainment shows provided on the ship. We decided to call it a night as we were both tired and thought we would have a busy day the next day enjoying all the food & wine activities. By this time we still hadn't left the dock. I did wake up around 12 that night and noticed the ship was moving and I thought now our cruise had begun. Next morning eager to start the day with some activities that were in the program. We went downstairs and tried to book in to a few different activities but got informed that all the functions we wanted to attend were booked out. We were so confused how everything seemed to be booked out so quickly and it was only the first morning of the cruise. So with no activities to do for that day we decided to go and have some lunch but the only place we could get in was the buffet. I do enjoy my fine food and wine hence the "Food and Wine" Cruise. The idea of eating a buffet was not thrilling but I thought its one meal and we had a couple of other nights to eat at nice restaurants. That afternoon we walked up to another restaurant on the top deck called La Luna to try and book in for that night and once again we got told they were booked out. While we were there we decided to try and get in Sunday night so we could have a nice meal on our last night, we got told again that it was booked out on Sunday too but we could put our names on a waiting list. Frustrated and our positive attitude dwindling my mother and I agreed to be put on the waiting list. With nothing to do in the afternoon again we decided maybe we should go down to reception and see if there was anything they could do to help us. They told us they couldn't help us with any of the activities but to go down to the reservations to book in for Sunday's activities first thing Sunday morning. I'm not sure if they were trying to fob us off but they gave us a phone number for reservations for the restaurants. We went back to our cabin and tried to book into a restaurant. My mother tried for at least 30 minutes getting the engaged signal and finally got the ringing tone and held on for 40 minutes before the phone rung out. After trying for about 4 hours we decided to give in and just go back to the restaurant we did on our first night. We got in straight away which was quite a shock and were seated and our orders were taken promptly. Our entree came out as we ordered the same thing which was a beetroot & apple salad, being on a "FOOD & WINE" cruise one would think there would be a certain standard to the food - well I kid you not this salad came out 1 slice of tinned beetroot cut in half and two slices of apple. My mother and I just looked at each other and I was at the point where I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. To be honest I couldn't even tell you what I got served for a main after this as I was just stunned. Here I was on the other side of Australia with my mother who I was trying to spoil for her 60th. It was a joke, never in my life have I felt so let down. After whatever you call the meal we were served our outlook on the cruise was crushed so we decided to go to bed. We had spent so much time in this cabin that I said to my mother if at any point this boat had docked I would of packed and gotten off the ship and she agreed with me. Whilst my mother was appreciative of my gesture of organising the cruise we both agreed it was a costly learning experience and we would never book this liner again! On Sunday morning we decided to go and register with some of the activities to try and get something out of this cruise. We were informed again everything was booked out. This time we saw red and went straight to reception again and complained. Once again they couldn't do anything to help us and informed us that we should just hold on the reservation line as it would just keep ringing until someone picked up. We tried to explain again we did that yesterday and it rang out after considerable time, they then advised us there was nothing they could do so we had to walk away let down and frustrated AGAIN. We decided to walk to where one of the wine tasting functions was being held and they informed us they had some spots left so we paid for this which is fine but I do wonder what my initial charge for the cruise actually covered. We enjoyed the wine tasting, the wine was ok and the gentleman that owned the winery was quite a character. So we thought at least we have been able to participate in something! Then we decided to walk over to the cheese tasting once again we got in even after being informed by reception it was booked out, so we paid our money and were seated. Everyone on the table was asked if they would like something to drink and then when it was our turn to order the waiter didn't ask us and walked away AGAIN. I had to ask people on the table if we were invisible. Finally I got a waiter's attention and we were able to order some wine. We had a discussion with other people on our table what they thought of this cruise. Their comments were they felt highly let down as well, but felt extra sorry for us because we had travelled from Perth to experience this. I do remember seeing the two ladies we had dinner with from the first night and they were both travel agents. We asked them what they thought of the cruise so far and they were highly disappointed and in no way would they ever suggest this cruise to one of their clients. Around lunch time we were hungry again but realised our only choice was to go to the buffet again but by now I almost felt like I had eaten from Sizzler for 3 days straight. What was meant to be the best present I have ever purchased for my mother was fast becoming our biggest nightmare. So back to the cabin for the afternoon as we couldn't get into anything else. By this stage we were praying to get off the ship! Dinner came around again and once again our only option was the buffet. I think I ate a few lettuce leaves as I was so sick from eating from the same place. We decided to go back to our room go to sleep and wake up and get off this ship! Before we get to sleep the phone rings and we are told we didn't turn up for our booking at La Luna. By now we see red!!! No one informed us we actually had a booking. I have had ENOUGH. Morning comes and we are so excited to get off this ship. We had another day and a half in Sydney but seriously we were so confused as what just happened for the past 3 days we didn't really have fun celebrating. It took us about a week to get over what this "FOOD & WINE" cruise offered us. Absolutely nothing - where the possibility had been huge. I asked my mother would she recommend this cruise to her friends - she has said "no way - quite the opposite - I'll warn them never to go on a P & O cruise with high expectations". This letter has taken me awhile to write as I have been so mad and to actually sit down and think of everything that happened it was not something I wanted to go through again. I am thinking of posting this letter on Trip Advisor and any other travel forum I can find. While to be honest if anyone ever asked me what I thought about P&O cruises I would tell them how disgusted I am. This was my first cruise and will probably be my last based on the experience I had with your Cruise Pacific Jewel. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We just did a cruise on P&O's Pacific Jewel, a three day "Food & Wine" cruise out of Sydney.This is the first time I have tried P&O, hence the three day cruise, also it left on my partners birthday, easy ... Read More
We just did a cruise on P&O's Pacific Jewel, a three day "Food & Wine" cruise out of Sydney.This is the first time I have tried P&O, hence the three day cruise, also it left on my partners birthday, easy present.It was scheduled to leave at 4pm, the Captain announced at 3.30pm that we would not be leaving until 7.30, it left the dock at 11.30pm, there was no further announcement from the Bridge re this, so much for the "sail away party" and being kept fully informed as advised at 3.30.I was told when booking that it sailed for three days to nowhere, but it sailed over night to Jervis Bay and dropped anchor next morning and stayed there until late next afternoon, not much sailing to be had, it sailed late afternoon on the second day to return to Sydney so mostly at night, so much for sitting on the balcony to enjoy the ocean.First night we had dinner in Salt Restaurant, the service and food were superb, well worth the extra charge ($40.00pp).From this point trying to organise anything was a chore, you had to stand in line,this took up to 45 minutes to try and get into any of the talks that were part of the "Food & Wine " aspect of the cruise.After enduring this, I must admit I'm not good standing in queues, when you finally reached the counter you were then told that what you wanted to do was fully booked.Not a good start, the organisation of this was abysmal.I then went back to the cabin to call the other restaurants we wanted to try, well it did not get any better, i was told i could not book for the following night and had to call back the next morning from 8am, i informed the person on the other end of the phone that i had been trying to get thru for 15 minutes, ( it seemed like hours having to dial the number over and over), they just said thats how it is.I was on the phone next morning at 8am, by the time i was answered,8.10am, La Luna the other restaurant was fully booked.We went to the Waterfront Restaurant the second night, this is the standard restaurant for the ship, i had booked in advance asking for a table for two only and was happy to wait until this could be done, we arrived at 8.00pm and was told no this was not available and we had to sit at a shared table, the service was erratic and slow, when the food arrived it was just warm, getting a wine list was a whole other experience.The cabin we had 11123 was a mini-suite, the best this ship could offer, it was well laid out, spacious and clean, the bed was good and the sheets/linen were of good quality.We didn't have in the room the inclusions that were promised with this level of cabin, i had to phone to request these, i was told the steward must have forgot to put them in the cabin.The one huge concern was the noise from the deck above, we were under the pool deck, normally not a concern, but on this ship the tables and chairs being dragged around by people just using them came straight thru the ceiling, it was unbelievable the amount of noise, it keep you awake at night and woke you up early in the morning.This level of cabin on this ship is a huge waste of money, opt for the standard balcony cabin on deck 10, it might be half the size but it will be quite and you will get a full nights sleep.Over all the ship was what was expected i suppose, ( cheap & cheerful) I was hoping for more, the staff appeared to be over worked and looked on average unhappy and tired,getting a drink at some of the bars was plain hard work, to the extent I walked off, the food was very average, good if you like warm to cold.The pay to use restaurants were very good and well worth the extra charge, the staff were very helpful, friendly and the food was hot and very tasty.As a mini-suite customer you really get nothing extra except more space in the cabin and the noise from above killed the enjoyment of that.It was worth a try, but i will not be boarding the Pacific Jewel again and will think twice before trying another P&O ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
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