We have sailed on in excess of thirty voyages in various regions throughout the world, utilising many Lines and regularly sailing on 14 to 21 day-itineraries. Mr goldberg37 is aged 51, Mrs goldberg37 is aged 44. We have often championed ... Read More
We have sailed on in excess of thirty voyages in various regions throughout the world, utilising many Lines and regularly sailing on 14 to 21 day-itineraries. Mr goldberg37 is aged 51, Mrs goldberg37 is aged 44. We have often championed P&O Australia to people asking us about cruise-experiences, but not this time.
Arrival at Circular Quay at 1PM for boarding of Pacific Aria started promisingly; very good traffic and pedestrian control immediately outside the ship, unlike the frequent chaos which defines this area whenever a ship is in port. Lots of porters about, too.
Check-in and boarding were reasonably efficient, we embarked at about 130PM.
All downhill from there.
Our accommodation was Cabin 9031, the condition of this cabin and balcony was nothing less than putrid. Previous occupants hairs all over the bathroom floor and over the bathtub, a half-used cake of soap in the sink, a half-glass of someone's drink on the (sticky) bedside table, fingermarks and smudges on all mirror-surfaces, bed-linen reeking of perspiration, layers of dirt and hair on the vanity-chair, carpet with so much ingrained dirt that one could make their own sandbox. And this was supposed to be an Inaugural Voyage after a 3-week drydock??? What were they doing between Singapore and Sydney?
The occupants of Cabin 9043 nearby were also heard by us to be complaining loudly about their own filthy accommodation.
Pacific Aria's Food & Beverage Manager Martin Bell was passing in the corridor and he offered to assist (for which we are grateful). Mr. Bell acknowledged the condition of the cabin and made contact with the local Accommodation Supervisor who attended and also agreed with the unacceptable condition of the cabin.
The two stewards who were responsible for the cabin were sent to clean our accommodation, but really it was not much better afterwards.
The cabin furniture was NOT NEW. Just about everything in there was stained and chipped, verging on life-expired.
Lifeboat drill was a joke, at least that's how the crew-members at Lifeboat Stations 1 and 3 seemed to treat it. One glamorous female employee was agreeing with passengers that the whole drill-thing was very tiresome, and just put up with it and then we can "HAVE FUN!". Someone should show her a Costa Concordia documentary. If the staff treat the drill like a hassle, that will be how the passengers also treat it.
Our bags (although clearly labelled 9031) were eventually found outside Cabin 9047.
Jessica Mauboy did an excellent concert on the back of Pacific Aria and spoke beautifully about her happiness at being offered the godmother's role.
Sailaway up Sydney Harbour was a great experience; Pacific Aria followed Pacific Eden and Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl gave lovely horn-salutes to our ships as we approached the Heads. No response from Pacific Aria - was Aria "too cool" to respond? One wouldn't have though it was a navigational issue as other ships seemed to having a great night with the horns. But we will stand corrected if need be on this one.
A walk around the decks on the seaday morning. Disused paint-tins still with the large 'flammable' emblems on them being used by P&O as ashtrays. No kidding. Nothing like flammable-liquid tins being used for ashtrays by a global corporation.
Pipes with gigantic holes in the, and internal-insulation either flapping about or missing completely with matching holes. Asbestos? Who knows? Maybe passengers are supposed to expect that whatever travels through the pipes isn't so frequent or important, given the size of the holes and apparent lack of interest in repairing them. More pipes leaking some unpleasant-looking liquid which pooled in the deck-troughing.
Examination of our balcony in daylight revealed more. The balcony exterior-light is hanging at a precarious angle, held on by plastic-ties, one of the braces having apparently failed completely. Layers of chocolate-brown sludge on the balcony-sill, along with some chunks of electrical-plaster. Mud all over the step from the balcony into the cabin. Balcony-table so deep in grime that you could carve your initials into it. Filthy, filthy, filthy.
No sign of the Captain out and about on his "new" ship. Certainly didn't seem to be one who was much interested in meeting his passengers and expressing appreciation in joining him on Aria's Inaugural Voyage.
Other than Jessica Mauboy's show on Sailaway Night, there was no on-board welcome function after departure from Circular Quay (even for past-passengers) - no event or direct address from the Captain or P&O management in recognition of this occasion. A 'White Night' Party, but this is a booze-up that is now used by P&O throughout their fleet on just about any old voyage, regardless of cruise-duration.
Highly disinterested service from bar-staff throughout the seaday. We observed one barman sarcastically thanking another employee for "coming to work today". This was most definitely said with anger, not as a joke by the employee. We periodically gave-up waiting to be served at certain bars, and observed other passengers do the same. Bar staff were not exactly "pushing it" in terms of productivity, often not even an acknowledgement by bar-staff of being there and waiting service would be received.
Up to an hour after breakfast-service was completed and the area generally vacated, we saw half-eaten food lying all about the Pantry eatery, including meat-scraps. In some photos we took, you can also see staff lazing around in the background, actually leaning on Pantry-furniture. All this with the eatery looking as though a food-fight had taken place and no interest or attempt in cleaning-up. Carpet within the Pantry was not just flaking, but chunks of it were coming-away and were left lying-about, regardless of this being food-preparation and presentation areas. Disinterested staff standing-about watched us take photos, but seemed to have no inclination for cleaning or controlling this.
We had lunch in the Waterfront Dining Room. Food was good, but of the four glasses on our table (112), three were filthy. At a table next to us, a female passenger asked for a new glass to drink from as the one on her table was dirty - the waiter reached over to the next table, grabbed a glass and handed it to her and walked-off. The passenger checked the glass, commented how dirty the new one just given to her also was, and she then gave-up trying to drink some water with her meal. She left the restaurant quickly at the end of her meal, saying how thirsty she was.
The starboard side-ceiling of the Pantry was raining with "something" on the second evening. We don't know if it was clean water, 'grey' water, sludge or what it was. Like a mini-Niagara Falls that ran the breadth of the starboard side of the Pantry - really pretty, if one ignored that this stuff (without known origin) was alternately dripping on yourself or your food (sometimes both, depending on how you were able to shield your food). We have photos of this, too.
Arrival and docking at Brisbane's Hamilton Wharf was 100 minutes late, at 740AM instead of the advertised 6AM. No acknowledgement even from any of the crew until 7AM, when passengers were instructed to turn-up at their departure-points "30 minutes later than scheduled". There was no explanation from staff as to the cause of the delay - staff actually told us that they didn't know why we were almost two hours late. In the No. 10 elevator going to Deck 7, the name still showed in blue font over gold background 'MS Ryndam'.
Disembarkation, when it eventually happened at about 815AM was totally uncontrolled. Chaos. No supervision throughout the aisleways and corridors leading to Deck 5 for disembarkation. Most people had onward-journey commitments and there was no information at all from Aria management and crew about how late arrival at Brisbane would be, nothing to indicate to passengers how they might review their travel-options.
One first-time cruising family from Nowra asked us whether "all cruises are like this" and are the crews on other ships "friendlier". One female veteran cruiser advised that she usually sailed with Princess Lines and this experience has definitely turned her off P&O for good.
Amongst other passengers waiting at the Marquee Lounge Disembarkation Point, the initials "P&O" were modified by disgruntled cruisers for a number of differing meanings - use your own imagination for this one.
We were not sorry to disembark from Aria. To us, this was a makeover by P&O on another tired ship, done on the very thriftiest of investments. This was an opportunity to utilise a lovely 'traditional' ship and give it a tremendous spruce-up. The advertising brags about "5,000 pieces of furniture", "enough carper for the MCG (twice)", "250,000 manhours", "900 workers" (really? what were they doing?), "10,000 litres of paint" (okay, maybe - the tins are still being used as passenger-ashtrays - really classy); more believable - "enough paint for 450,000 Aussie homes" (again, the paint-tins were left-behind for ashtrays on the decks, so we believe that one).
We feel ripped-off by this experience - we had believed the many months of advertising promoting Aria and Eden, and the promises of on-board cleanliness, quality accommodation and sharp service. There was no substance in the reality. We lost count of the number of apologies from junior managers in relation to the issues aboard. Truthfully, a number of supervisors of various responsibilities aboard Aria, actually encouraged us to write to P&O management on disembarkation to describe our experience, unanimously saying that if passengers don't draw attention to the issues, things will not improve. All this on a first-voyage for Aria. The buck should stop somewhere with someone within P&O with this one (but probably won't).
In its current condition and state of staff-interest, Aria is only fit for the breakers. Based on our own experience on this short cruise, we really cannot believe that a fair-dinkum walk-through of Aria was conducted by senior management, cabin by cabin, before this voyage. Anyone from P&O management patting themselves on the back for Ryndam's transition to Aria should not kid themselves, this was totally unacceptable. Others on this voyage may disagree, but this was our experience. And we are submitting photos of all our concerns as mentioned in this review to our travel-agent.
Praises for bar-waitress Evangeline, Waterfront waiter Jayson, Restaurant Supervisor Anne, Guest Services Junior Purser Reshmi. They deserve better than their current posting. Or maybe instead promote them to training-positions for P&O.
We still have no idea how Aria lost almost two hours overnight. Mechanical failure? Fuel-thriftiness? Maybe the Captain thought we would enjoy the sights of the Brisbane River by daylight rather than dawn. This is our preferred choice. Read Less