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1,392 P&O Australia Cruise Reviews

From the moment we stepped on board the Pacific Jewel the service and ship was awful. Prior to cruising we were issued tickets advising we had single beds. I phoned to advise we need a double bed as we are partners, to which they ... Read More
From the moment we stepped on board the Pacific Jewel the service and ship was awful. Prior to cruising we were issued tickets advising we had single beds. I phoned to advise we need a double bed as we are partners, to which they advised was fixed. Of course, on arriving at the ship we had been given single beds. We phoned reception to get this fixed, and once done we wished we had stayed with single beds as the gap between the beds was very uncomfortable. The lights in our cabin did not work. It took 8 phone calls to reception and 3 days before anyone came to fix it. The service was disgusting! We could not use the safe or the robes as that space was pitch black dark, even during the day. On day 3 we resorted to stealing towels from the Cabin Stewards trolley as the towels in our cabin were not being replaced. We would leave the wet towels on the floor, only to come back and find them hanging on the back of the door and no new towels. Again, it took several phone calls to reception to get this fixed. We were disappointed to find there is only 'Anytime Dining' available on the ship and no set dining times. The service in the restaurant mirrored the service elsewhere, terrible. It took half an hour to be served, and not a drinks waited in sight! We ordered a bottle of wine which disappeared after filling our glasses. Eventually we ended up requesting the bottle be left on the table as night after night the bottle would disappear and never return. In total we were kicked out of the dining room 3 times, once for wearing shorts to dinner on a casual dress day, once for wearing a hat on a port day and once for wearing a singlet at lunch time on a port day. We wanted to use the steam room to which the spa staff inform us costs $170.00. And it turns out, you cannot access the steam room for a one off session, you must pay $170.00 and that allows you to use the steam room at any time during the cruise, they do not have single access passes. It was day 5 of our cruise at this point, so if you pay on day 1 its $170.00, and if you join on day 5 it is still $170.00. We booked our shore tours using the online system ensuring us and our friends in another cabin were all on the same tour. Of course when we got on board we received a call on the second sea day advising they had stuffed up the tours and we were not all booked on the same tour. Of course, the next day we went to the tours desk to find a new tour we could all do together only to be told that we could not cancel the initial tours as we had not given them 48 hours notice! Finally, we purchased alcohol in the duty free shop on day 4 of the cruise which was immediately charged to our on-board account. On the final sea day, no sign of the alcohol. We phoned reception who advised us that it had all been delivered and to take a copy of the receipt to reception as evidence of the purchase. We did this, only to be given a letter which said 'Dur to an accounting error there was insufficient alcohol on board to fulfil your purchase'. However no one had been refunded the money they spent. Instead people were given the option of cancelling their self-assist disembarkation to wait for the alcohol the next day or get a refund. I spent a complaint letter to P&O Australia advising how disappointed I was at the poor standards and service on board, only the be sent a reply saying 'as a goodwill we will offer you a $100.00 credit off your next cruise'. unfortunately, I will not be spending another $5,000.00 just to redeem a $100.00 credit and be treated in the same manner. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Background I have done 24 cruises and cruised on P&O on 3 previous occasions, with all the rest of my cruises with Princess. This cruise was a very last minute thing, booking only a week prior to the cruise (I was desperate for a ... Read More
Background I have done 24 cruises and cruised on P&O on 3 previous occasions, with all the rest of my cruises with Princess. This cruise was a very last minute thing, booking only a week prior to the cruise (I was desperate for a holiday). Unfortunately, there were no Princess ships in Australian waters at this time and this cruise was the only cruise available that suited price and timing. Itinerary The cruise was named Week Fantastique, Voyage W120 and was for 7 nights on the Pacific Dawn. It left Brisbane on a Saturday afternoon, had a day at sea, then arrived in at Noumea mid afternoon on Monday departing at 11.00pm that night, then the next day at Lifou, followed by a day at Port Vila, then 2 days at sea arriving back at Brisbane at 6.00am the next Saturday. Embarkation Like most cruise lines, it was drop your baggage at the front of the terminal. If you had printed off your baggage tags from the internet prior to arriving, it was super quick. Otherwise, a rather lengthy wait entailed to obtain blank luggage tags. Once in the terminal, it was queue up to receive your cruise card, provide credit card info, passport inspection and customs. P&O do not have a Past Passenger Program in place so it is join the queue for everyone. People who have cruised with P&O many times queue up with people who are first time cruisers. The Only exception was people who had booked suites or mini suites who had their own express check in. From time of dropping off suit cases to time we walked onto the ship was just short of one hour. Stateroom We booked an ocean view cabin and were on deck 6. The cabin was right opposite the lift well, so we had lift foyer noise and often could hear conversations outside, including in the middle of the night which was annoying. The cabin itself was adequate and more spacious than Princess cabins. Plenty of clothes storage and hanging space. Bathroom was the usual compact size, but only soap and shampoo provided. No conditioner or moisturiser provided like Princess do. Aqua Spa The Aqua spa on board provides access to a gym, spa treatments and a thermal room consisting of a small sauna, a small steam room and 2 tiled hot beds and a relaxation area consisting of 6 lounges and complimentary fruit and chilled water to relax after spa treatments. However, for some unknown reason, the Aqua spa is situated on Deck 2 mid ships, yes that's right....deck 2, below the actual water line!!! It don't get much lower than this on a cruise ship and is certainly the lowest I have ever been!! There is no natural light and whilst sitting in the thermal room or in the relaxation area, all you can hear is the mechanical clunking of the workings of the inner bowels of the ship. Not very inviting I am afraid. The Aqua spa is well appointed and nicely colour toned, and is obviously an addition at a recent dry dock renovation, but why they couldn't have put it somewhere else is beyond me. There is a kids centre up on deck 14 (above the buffet) which surely could have housed the Spa and the kids centre could have gone down to deck 2. Would be much more attractive and inviting and much easier to get to. I just want to touch on the costs of the Spa. As with all ships, the spa treatments can be quite costly. Well, the Pacific dawn is no different. I always enjoy a sauna and/or steam at the end of the day on a ship, something I don't have access to at home. Well, the only sauna and steam on the Pacific Dawn is in the Thermal room and they charge $99 for the privilege of using it for a 7 day cruise. No pay as you go or daily rate, it was $99 or nothing. Sure you have unlimited use and they throw in one "free glass of champagne" after each time you use it to enjoy whilst laying in the relaxation lounge. So, after the first day, I thought I could do without it, but into the second day, I was longing for a "sweat" so I went and signed up. The sauna and steam were quite hot and served their purpose, but no where worth the cost. And to obtain your "free glass of champagne" (Now I was going to get my money's worth!!), you had to go to reception and ask for it, which became quite uncomfortable the second time around. And on the second time, the champagne they served up was flat, dead flat, and I had to ask for another glass. I didn't ask nor was I offered for champagne again. They sold a maximum of 20 couples spa passes per cruise (that's 40 people) and it became very crowded in the thermal spa at times. Late afternoon was always popular and there were a couple of occasions when people came in and literally could not fit in. The spa treatments on the Pacific Dawn were, in my opinion, quite expensive. An example follows...on most ships I have been on, they offer a sampler of 20/20/20 which consists of 20 minutes of different spa treatments of your choice, a sampler of each. For the one that you like, you can come back and get the full treatment. The cost of this on the Pacific Dawn was $139, with a 15% discount on port days. We have seen this as low as $99 on other ships on port days. On our day on the ship in Noumea, my wife decided to have a facial. She rang up and enquired. They could fit her in in 15 minutes and the 15% applied. The facial was very nice and when she went to pay for it, she got over charged by $30. When she queried the price, they said she had had a facial and another treatment, bringing the total to $30 more. She complained and they then charged her the initial agreed price. Dining The one and only dining room was very spacious and quite nice in decor. It had a high ceiling which gave it the "more space" look. You had to book and could not just walk up and be seated. They stated you could only book on the day of the meal, and no matter what time you rang or personally attended to book, the only time available was 8.00pm or 8.15pm. I found out on the last night of the cruise that some passengers had permanent bookings each night. I don't know why this wasn't offered to all. The menu in the dining room was the same every night. The lunch menu was also the same every day. However, it was vast and provided lots of choice and the meals were very nice. Staff were not friendly and not attentive. On one night, we were not given a menu for 40 minutes after being seated. At lunch one day, we arrived at 1.45pm and were told to "order quick" as the dining room was closing. We did eat in Luke Mangin's Salt Restaurant one night and would highly recommend it. One of the nicest meals (I had the steak) we have had in long, long time and well worth the cover charge. Book early as it does book out. We were fortunate enough to have Luke travelling on our cruise for the first couple of nights and he was in the restaurant the night we ate in there. Waiter attention in here was excellent. The buffet was dual sided and plenty of eating space. It is not open 24 hours, only for meal times. Quality of food was average. Afternoon tea was below standard and the worst I have been to. Waiter service was atrocious, Drinks Alcohol was very expensive on this ship. The cheapest glass of wine was $8, and that was bar prices. It was dearer again in the restaurant. In the bars, they do not print on the wine list what the cost of wine is, which was very strange. They just list what sort of wine they have in one sentence. When you asked the waiter the cost of a glass of Shiraz or Riesling, the waiters did not know and you were surprised what the cost was it arrived. A drink that costs $9.85 on Princess ships cost $13.80 on this ship. Coffee was also more expensive on this ship than Princess ships. Coffee cards are not available, which are so handy on Princess ships. At afternoon tea, you had to buy your cookies, whereas on Princess ships, they are free. However, with every cup of coffee you purchase, you receive a free chocolate, which was a nice touch. Entertainment Entertainment was good. The circus acrobats in the Atrium were very good. On the last night, they had different entertainers/musicians gather in the Atrium and they would sing or perform whatever they wanted. This was excellent. Very low key and informal, but excellent entertainment. Ship The Pacific Dawn is the old Regal Princess from the Princess Fleet. I was a bit sceptical about what condition she would be in, but I was not disappointed....truly a magnificent ship and in very good condition. The makeover she would have had prior to joining the P&O Fleet has certainly beautified her. There were 5 main entertainment areas, the Bengal Bar, the Promenade Lounge, the Show Lounge, the Dome and the atrium. The Bengal Bar was host to most of the game shows and trivia during the day and the Promenade Bar was the piano lounge, which had perfect ambiance at night with candle lights and soft lighting. The Show Lounge is badly designed I think and could be better done. Unless you are sitting in the first few rows directly in front on deck 7, the view elsewhere is not that good. The seating incline in not that great so you are always looking at the person in fronts head and the side seats actually side behind the action, so you can't get a front on perspective. The seats on the upper level (deck 8) you have to look over/under the safety barriers. Seats at the side on this level have the same level as below. The Dome is the Night Club on board and was well attended by many passengers, dancing their cares away until the early hours of the morning. Got extremely crowded on occasions. The Atrium spanned over 3 levels and was very comfortable. It hosted the acrobats performances and some informal music renditions. Ports Itinerary was good, although we didn't bother to get off the ship at Noumea. A case of "been there before and done that" (a few times) and the day we were in Noumea was a local public holiday with nothing open. Many passengers were disappointed with this port. I know there are valid reasons why cruise ships visit Noumea, but it is not high on our "bucket list". Expensive, streets are dirty and uninviting and the locals are not that welcoming. Lifou was just divine. One of the reasons we went on this cruise was to go snorkelling at J??? Beach, which we did. This would have been our 4th time at this port and it did not disappoint, although the amount of fish is diminishing, as is the coral. Each time we visit this beautiful island, the amount of coral dying off is noticeable. Last time we were there (late 2010), there was a wooden staircase there that led people down into the water. Although very slippery, it served its purpose. However, on this occasion, the stairs had been destroyed. Nothing left but a small viewing deck. In its place was a ladder about 3 metres high and made from local trees and tied together with vines. It was just leaning up against a small cliff and people had to climb up and down it to get to the water. EXTREMELY dangerous. How nobody fell off it and seriously injured themselves is beyond me and how long it lasts is anybody's guess. Why the locals have not built something more reliable here I don't know. They could easily charge every person swimming at this beautiful beach $1. With the amount of cruise ships calling in and people visiting this port, over a 12 month period, they would easily accumulate enough cash to build something permanent and substantial. Suggestion - P&O hire out snorkel gear for $49.95 on board the ship. You can hire it for the day for about $20 AUD on the beach here. If this is the only place you plan to snorkel on this trip and don't take your own gear, this is a much cheaper option. Suggestion - If you can, take French francs with you. The locals charge for their services and wares in both AUD and French francs. However, the change over rate is somewhat vast. Some asking prices are 1000 francs or AUD15, others are asking 1000 francs or AUD20, where in fact the official change over rate is roughly 1000 francs = AUD10. Port Vila - This port just gets better every time we visit it. We just love it. The choices increase more and more and is becoming a great place to visit for a week, not just the day off a cruise ship. The weather gods were on our side and we were able to do what we planned to do if the weather was nice and that was visit Hideaway Island. This little gem is one of Port Vilas little secrets as cruise ships no longer run shore excursions there. Although, I think the secret is out as there were many people on the beach here with the blue and white striped towels, a dead give away for cruise ship passengers. The snorkelling here on this day was the best I have seen it. As the tide was low, we had to swim out a bit to find the fish in mass, but we were not disappointed......it is on par with the amount of fish we experienced on our Shark Boy tour in Bora Bora.....aquarium sort of stuff. After Hideaway Island, we did our obligatory duty free shopping at Wing Fei (the last shop on the left of the main drag when heading out of town) and the prices were super cheap and as usual, much cheaper than on board the ship. The duty free shop on board had a sale and guaranteed that they were cheaper than on land, which sucked a lot of people in (including me unfortunately!!), but alas, they are not. DO NOT BUY ON BOARD.......Port Vila is the only place to get your duty free grog and cigs. Don't be tempted to buy anywhere else. Costs in Port Vila Taxi into/out of town - AUD5 for 2 people is a good price (Most taxis offer AUD10) Taxi to Hideaway Island - AUD50 return for 2 people (pay the lot at the end of the day to ensure the driver returns and picks you up) 2 Bottles of Gordon Gin (1 litre) at Wing Fei - AUD20 for both!! Carton of 250 cigs at Wing Fei - AUD35 Disembarkation Was well organised and spaced out. As the area where the luggage is collected is very small, only 5 colour codes of luggage could be displayed any given time. As one colour code luggage is collected, it is replaced with the next. If you decide to disembark before your colour code is due, your luggage won't be there for collection. Taxis were plentiful and waiting Overall Remarks P&O do things very differently to Princess. After cruising for so long with princess, it was hard to get use to the P&O ways. You definitely get better service and value for money with Princess. I would not cruise with P&O again I am afraid. If you don't drink alcohol, plan to not do any spa treatments and get mediocre service and attention, then this ship is for you!! PRINCESS FOR ME!!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Pacific Dawn: P&O Australia. Sail date 21st May 2011, 11 nights New Caledonia & Vanuatu. After reading past reviews of this ship and after viewing past drunken passengers videos on youtube, we were a little hesitant about stepping ... Read More
Pacific Dawn: P&O Australia. Sail date 21st May 2011, 11 nights New Caledonia & Vanuatu. After reading past reviews of this ship and after viewing past drunken passengers videos on youtube, we were a little hesitant about stepping onboard P&O Australia's publicized ship of "Brisbane's First Super Liner". This is no Super Liner, once it may have been but, those days for this ship have long gone. The ship is 21 years old and sadly now is showing her age badly. The previous day to our embarkation we received a text and email from P&O Australia confirming that the ship had hit bad weather on the return leg to Brisbane and this would delay the departure of our cruise time. In the end, due to tide restraints I suspect, the actual delay was only 1 hour. I checked the bridge cam at 6.30am on departure day and it was already secure and tide up at the cruise terminal. We arrive at the terminal at 11.30am to find utter chaos, people everywhere and, only one visible P&O shore staff outside. We knew the drill and it was easy to see where we were to depart with our cases, already tagged with cabin numbers, to the porters loading the conveyor belt. We then go inside the terminal to find a very long snake line with literally hundreds of people waiting in-line to be checked in. At least 20 staff were busy taking passenger's identity pictures and giving out cruise cards. We soon arrived at our check-in agent, considering the numbers checking in about 30 minutes. Given a number to board, we then waited to board, just after 1pm before our numbers were called. Another line to be scanned and security cleared prior to boarding. Finally we are on board at 1.15pm. No staff directing anyone that we could see, but being past cruisers we knew the drill, find the lifts, go to your deck and look for the ships deck plan and find your cabin number. At the cabin, key card into the slot, open the door to immediately see that the carpet was old, dirty, and threadbare around the edges and did not even fit to the walls of the cabin. Check the fridge and that too was dirty. Bathroom, immaculate, what a relief. The glass patio door to the balcony nor the fixed glass pane had not been cleaned for a very long time, it was filthy dirty. Never on a cruise ship have I ever seen such dirty windows both inside and out upon arrival. The balcony had lots of old paint flaked from the balcony chairs. The balcony floor was covered with flaked bits of rust and paint from the ships structure and from the chairs. It is clear that the balcony to this cabin is not cleaned on a regular basis. We leave our hand luggage and go to the buffet for lunch. A more detailed review of the buffet will be covered later. Lunch taken, we explore the ship and take pictures before the ship is packed to capacity. 30 minutes later we have discovered everywhere and even find the library, locked with no staff in sight. We later found out that this library is not maintained by P&O Australia and the books therein were left over by the last shipping line and is currently topped up with gifts, books left by past passengers. Also the library has very limited opening times unlike say Princess who leave the library open all of the time and you sign in and out your own books for reading. We found the ships dancers manning the library, knowing nothing about the books, clearly the books were originally intended for American readers. The quality of the books is shameful. I read one of these books "Miracle in the Andes" which incidentally is a great book and once you pick it up you will be unable to put it down. But the condition of the book had the entire picture pages loose, just stuffed inside. There were several books in this state. For a supposedly luxury cruise ship, this was a disgrace. Now we return to our cabin, my suitcase has arrived so I duly unpack. The steward arrives and introduces herself. I point out the dirty stain marks all over the carpet and she agrees that it has to be cleaned. She also informs me that out of the 17 cabins she takes care of each day, 6 of them have carpets in this sate. I never saw evidence of this, as all others that I could see seemed to have been refitted with newer carpets than this BC grade cabin which for 11 days we had paid $4998.00.($454 a day) 20 minutes later the deck supervisor arrived, the steward had called him in to take a look. We were then told that the past passengers of this cabin had wrecked the room, damaging both bedside light switches and spilling red wine all over the carpet plus other liquids. No doubt the liquid stains on the glass window/door were also the result of the cabin being trashed. The supervisor says that he will get the carpet shampooed and cleaned the next day. We accept this but point out that some of these stains are not only past guest's accidents or whatever, but caused by age and time from a rusting superstructure. We point to the very large rust water marks which is evident of time, for a re-fit but we do not mention that fact. The next day, true to his word, whilst we are away from the cabin for breakfast the cleaners are in and shampoo the carpet, only the affected area and not the whole cabin. We are informed that the stains are too bad to be removed and that they will change the carpet. We are surprised that they carry spare carpets on-board but leave the cabin for two hours and return after lunch. The carpet has been replaced and fitted, badly but hey, they did it in two hours and at sea. Upon arrival we also checked the pillows to see if they are clean. Our past experiences tells us, pillows on cruise ships are often overlooked for washing. When we remove the pillow protectors all 4 pillows are badly stained with other peoples perspiration/sweat and all pillows have deep yellow marks and smell very badly of odour. Immediately the steward, who has seen this a thousand times I'd imagine, brings new ones and apologises but blames the time frame of change over-day and all she has to do in such a short time. We accept this and sympathize with her situation of 17 cabins and a complete change around. We cleaned the fridge ourselves and never mentioned the dirty glass windows, hoping that as like other cruise ships, the window glass would be cleaned at some point during our cruise vacation. Sadly, on this ship they were never cleaned nor was the balcony. The same paint chips scattered around the balcony were there at the end, the very same one's which were there on day one. Our light switch was fixed on day three, after we again had pointed this out to the steward that it was a safety issue, a piece of insulation tape over the top of bare electricity power wires is not a safe way to protect you when using a switch in the darkness of the night, or half asleep. Dining Onboard: The main restaurant has seating for 800 as we were informed by the crew. With 1760 passengers on our cruise, is this why they choose to name the dining as 'Anytime dining'. Open and anytime it may be called but open timing it most certainly is not. On the first night we had requested a table upon booking the restaurant for 8 or 10. Upon entering the restaurant we were shown to a table of 6. 4 others were already there and eating. Having nothing of this, we return to the front where the staff are all huddled and demand a large table as requested. They must keep table 133 on the first night for people who will not be just put anywhere, as everyone on the table had a similar experience. Nevertheless, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the whole table turned out to be one of the very best we have ever experienced on any one of our 22 cruises so far. We all then tried to book this same table the next night for 6.30pm, after all it is anytime dining. We were then told no, this table is only used at 6pm or 8pm, now what do you wish. 6.30 We say, no they say, 6 or 8. We insist its anytime dining so they say you can have table 78, which we accepted. At table 78 we can see table 133 is still unoccupied. We call the waiter and he's amazed we were not allowed the same table. How do they expect you to tip a particular waiter at the end of a cruise if you cannot join the same table every night if you should so wish? From that night on, we conformed to what they wanted and relented to a 6pm dinner time. Thus we now have table 133, the same waiter who I know is happy as at the end of the cruise as every single couple on the table tipped him well, making his cruise with us or ours with worthwhile. The quality of the food was good. 7-8 out of 10(7-8/10) Not as good as Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and not in the same class at all as Cunard and P&O UK, let alone Crystal. Nevertheless, although portion size was restrictive, you could ask for double portion is you wished. I loved the portion size control as this is my first cruise where I actually left the ship losing half a kilo rather than putting on 3 - 4. So I was happy, very happy. Tipping: As this ship and all of the P&O Australia fleet advertise. The ship has a no tipping policy. Yes I know in Australia in general one does not have to tip. I actually agree with this policy wholeheartedly and agree with not having to tip as is compelled to in the United States. But quickly here, the food prices in the states are much cheaper than here in Australia and the wages paid to waiters in the USA is very low compared to here. So USA, yes tipping is necessary where as in Australia tipping is not necessary. However on a cruise ship it has always been that the cruise lines makes a mint out of you and, then you are advised that you have to tip as well. Doesn't seem fare does it. Until you dig deeper and find out that these stewards and waiters do this for normally $50 a week and rely on your tips to make up their wages to maintain their families in their own homelands. An example of this is say a steward would get on average $5 a day tip, over a week that's $35 multiply that by the 17 that's $595 plus his $50 and you're up to $645. But again remembering that they work very long hours and 7 days a week for 8-9 months for that. Then they have 2-5 months out of work waiting for their next contract. The reason they do it, simple, the need to feed their families, as at home at best they could only expect to earn $50 a week. So by going on these cruise ships, they are actually much better off, financially that is. Now back to P&O Australia, they now pay these Stewards & Waiters $200-250 per week. And say it's not necessary to tip, but in so doing they have removed half of their possible wage. This is why, some of you may have experienced some slack service at times. But we never did, and most whom we talked with, were still tipping their waiters and stewards. Good on you all, is what I can say. That's how it should be. After all, working 7 days a week for 6 or 8 months is no easy task. Alcohol Policy: This ship has a strict BRING NO alcohol on board policy. They just want you to buy everything on board at very much inflated prices. They do not pay duty and tax on their prices but you are paying equal to or more than what you would here in Australia. Apart from the couple of cheaply priced wines in the restaurants, the rest is expensive and not even reasonable. The ship x-rays your luggage as it boards your cases and, if you are seen with an empty or full bottle of alcohol in your luggage it will be securely kept for you and returned after the cruise. You will be called down to deck 4 to open and have your case inspected and your booty confiscated. Some cruise lines within the Carnival banner, will allow you to bring alcohol onboard with you. Some will even supply it to you in your cabin at Duty Free prices and some lines will even provide you with a fully stocked mini bar for your own in cabin consumption, whilst others will provide you with two bottles of spirits along with mixers all included in your booking price. So for this Cruise line or any cruise line with this restrictive policy of allowing no alcohol in your cabin because as they say, they have a responsible alcohol policies to ensue you do not drink yourself silly. They are blatantly and knowingly infringing your human rights. They are treating you as irresponsible adults and not someone enjoying a holiday, where yes, most of us will have a wee drink or two. If a hotel stopped you from carrying in your own alcohol there would be an outcry but, for a ship this type of search and remove is okay. Remember these rules that this particular cruise line have introduced as only enforceable if passengers agree to these restrictions. Everyone should make a stand and everyone should pack empty spirit bottles or full ones in the cases that way, they just could not handle 1760 passengers' bags all lines up in a 4m x 4 area on deck 4 to be opened. They just couldn't cope. But we are all used to being told what we should do and not do, in this dictatorial world, our freedoms are slowing being eroded from us all everyday. This is yet just another one of those silly rules which should be banished. Party Ship: The entertainment staff encourages all guests to attend the dome after 10.30pm each evening to party. Indeed the Entertainment Manager always mentioned the dome and its activities after each evening shown in the show lounge. They hold different events in the dome, it seems, precisely designed to encourage you to drink and party to the small hours. The videos on Youtube are evidence of such antics and carryings on which emulates from too much alcohol. Also the onboard video produced for you to buy as a memento, also captures these party events. Showing copious amounts of alcohol being served and people being just plain silly. The ship definitely has a party type atmosphere feel about it, right from the sail away parties, to the so describe 'fun party nights' in the dome. Saying all of that, which is true, downstairs in the lounges and bars I never once encountered rowdy or drunken behaviour associated with too much alcohol. So maybe, and I mean just maybe, P&O Australia by segregating these party nights up in the dome away from the other public areas, are possibly better able to control the hot, shake it all about and must be loud types. Thus able to cater for all, be that young, middle aged or old-en's on the same cruise ship. Where other ships actually only cater for middle aged and the older generation. This is possibly why the P&O Australia ships are filled with all age groups from kids to grannies. All which seem to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere onboard generated by all of the crew. Our cruise was outside of the school holidays, nevertheless, we encountered at least 60 children onboard whose parents had taken them out of school. Buffet Restaurant: Breakfasts here would be a delight for most. They served each and everyday an excellent full cooked English breakfast, where you could order your eggs as you liked. The bacon was short-back and not streaky as most cruise lines use. The cereal section was limited to about 5 varieties but hey, if you couldn't choose something else then you really are being too picky. There were always lines to grab a tray and plates, the line moved quickly. Out of 10, I would have to give them 9/10 for the breakfast. This they excelled at: Lunchtime: Here too the variety was always different in the hot section. The cold and salad section was nearly always the same or very similar. The cold meats were limited to just two varieties per day and was repeated nearly the same everyday. Only occasionally were the mortadella and salami replaced with something else. The bread was small slices, airy and of no substance. A very light bread. The rolls we small and only white or white offered. Occasionally a brown one would be offered. So to make a sandwich was almost impossible as the size of the bread was one bite and it would be gone. Only on one day, were filled round larger bap type rolls on offer. I suspect left over from the deck barbeque the previous day. I had one and it made a very nice change from the mouthful of air bread previously encountered on other days. For the first 7 days no waiters offered us any drinks with our lunch. I did see a drinks station tucked up at the end and thought that on this ship they had done away with the wine waiters at lunchtimes. On the last 3 days it seemed that all the waiters had been instructed to drum up and sell more alcohol at lunchtimes, as everyone came around trying to persuade us to max out our cards. Maybe they had been put on a bonus scheme or they had not reached their targets of selling enough alcohol. Overall the lunchtime quality and service was not as good as the Palm restaurant of the evening. The carpets around the edges under the windows were never cleaned whilst we were onboard, food droppings were there from one day to the next. Although the main carpet was cleaned just not behind the tables next to the windows. Also the air vents above the dining area were all full of dust, not cleaned in a very, very long time. This really does need immediate attention. Overall at lunchtimes including service 7/10. Never used the buffet for an evening adventure as we prefer the formality of a full service restaurant. Entertainment: Show times were designed for you to spend extra times in the bars and to spend more money onboard. Considering dining times are classed as open but in reality its 5.30 to 6pm and 8-8.30pm, the shown times were constantly 7.30pm and 9.30 pm. Making it impossible for anyone dining at 8pm to see a show. On other ships Showtime's are 6.15 for second sitting passengers and 8.15 for first seating passengers. Occasionally on some it has been 8pm and 10pm. All of these times allow all passengers to see a show, not on this ship though. Consequently the 7.30 shows were always packed out and the 9.30 ones only half full. But the bars were always full of people spending money and drinking. I guess they have it planned out that way. Bugger the passengers as long as the ships making money. The quality of the shows was poor in comparison to the other cruise lines mentioned already in this review. We did have 5 shows on this 11 night cruise but you could not call them Broadway or West End adaptations. Disappointing after being spoiled in the past by other cruise lines with their style and quality of theatre style entertainment. Ports of call: One has to do it to say you have done it. Out of the 6 ports of call only two were actual ports of call, all the others we anchor offshore and tender in. After 4 tender ports you really are all done with tendering. Yes it costs the cruise lines much less to anchor offshore rather than find a port that can take your size ship. But for you as the passenger, it's a hassle , line up for tender tickets, line up to get out and then line up to get back to the ship. Tender ports generally are places which are less habited and therefore you will have less to do. If you are from Queensland, nothing beats a Queensland sandy beach. Not even one in French New Caledonia or Vanuatu. So don't expect to be thrilled or exasperated by the places in the middle of the South Pacific. Just enjoy the ride and enjoy the cruise the rest is just not on my radar screen as enjoyment. A walk past a pig with its front leg tied to a tree a goat too. Or a baby turtle in a washing bowel where you will be charged $2 to take a picture. This is animal cruelty and the cruise ship which organizes these types of stops should inform the land owners that unless they stop this type of ridiculous tourist trap behaviour they will no longer call there. That way, this animal cruelty will be not seen as a way to earn money from these cruise ships. The only port worth another visit was La Vila. Many of the cruise passengers were first time cruisers, one can see why when the ports of call out of Brisbane and Sydney are limited to these outcast Islands of new Caledonia and Vanuatu apart from of course beautiful New Zealand. But there are only so many times you can cruise the New Zealand without it becoming too familiar. Overall: P&O do an excellent job of filling their ships, considering the real lack of real ports of call. They price their product which attracts not only older cruisers but families with young children. The downside is that the quality of the product overall must lie within the price and as such, don't expect to be on Cunard's Queen Mary or on one of the many ships that sail under the P&O UK flag. The Australian ships may have the same P&O flag but the two products are light years apart. The ships of P&O Australia are the cast off's of other lines within the Carnival brand, which they themselves have been awarded the newer much more elegant and updated ships of the 21st century. Considering that this ship had a major refit in May 2010, clearly our cabin on B deck was missed. Whilst it was clear that the majority had received new carpets it was disappointing to have been allocated one which clearly missed the inspections just 12 months ago. The public rooms clearly have received a refit and looked good for a ship 21 years old. Sadly I am sorry to report that the painting maintenance and lack of general cleaning in parts is letting the brand down. I hope that soon they put this right as the costs associated with a refit which are astronomical in financial terms, will all have been lost in a couple of years without the maintenance upkeep needed with such a vessel. The ships officers and crew on all ships do a remarkable job, this ship was no different, they are small floating cities each with their own charm and deportment. Would I sail on a P&O Australia ship again, not if I had another option or they upgraded their quality of product, which I cannot see them being able to do with the limited numbers of people within easy reach of Australia. Most passengers originated from within Australia, unlike other cruise lines which seem to attract guests from all over the world. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
On the 30th of April 2011, I stepped foot onboard the pacific dawn. Would I do it again? OF COURSE! It was a fantastic cruise. Of course there were negatives but this in no way ruined the cruise. From the food to the crew to the people on ... Read More
On the 30th of April 2011, I stepped foot onboard the pacific dawn. Would I do it again? OF COURSE! It was a fantastic cruise. Of course there were negatives but this in no way ruined the cruise. From the food to the crew to the people on board it was just excellent. Embarkation was easy, picked up a tag, tagged my bag put on the conveyer belt and off it went. Try to remember to bring a pen as not many are supplied at all! That process took maybe 5 minutes at most! Then go inside where you will be amongst hundreds of other humans, though a little daunting it seemed to run quite smoothly. Collect a Green card and go into the line. Fill out the card while you wait too save you some time. When you get to the front of the line you will go to up to a desk and get checked in. Here you show your passport and your cruise card (Cabin key and how you pay for everything on board). They also take your picture so when it's scanned they know who you are...This is where you set up your credit card to the cruise card. Then you will receive a ticket saying when you will board. When it's called you just go to the customs area and have the green card. After this I went to the cafe too eat before my boarding number was called, the food there was quite good! I had the steak and eggs. Also there is an IGA next too it so you can grab some last minute things...I would grab some potato chips and some small snacks to keep in your cabin. Also you should buy a lanyard for your cruise card or bring one from home. I brought my own as I read about it before. There was a guy on the street selling some for $5 and some stores had them for $6-$8. You can buy them on the boat as well for $8. Don't get one with a plastic sleeve in my opinion as you have to take it out to get in your room and what not. They also have a hole already for the lanyard. I read that they did not have it before, now they do.Customs was a joke compared to an airport. When it's your turn you go through and hand that green card to some guy near the entrance. Then you are asked to wait in line to go through the metal detector and the x-ray for your onboard bags. You walk through and you are good to go! There was no sniffer dog; the bags were barely looked at so you could probably bring anything on board. She glimpsed at the x-ray monitor for less than a second when me and my brother went through.From customs you will walk through to the boat going up some stairs which I tripped on because my brother was in front of me and walking too slow, there will be a photographer to take your picture there against a blue backdrop. I read that photos cost about $20 on board so I decided not to. I regret it now because you get a free 1Gb USB stick which has a little ball with water in it with a cruise ship inside...so it moves! I loved it! Sadly you can only get it for the first two days and you have to buy the Embarkation photo. Then you will just walk up a ramp and get your card scanned to say that you are on board. This is where that picture of you from earlier is used. So make a funny face too try and make them laugh :)Then just find your way to your cabin. I was on deck 8. I went up the lift and looked at a map and figured it out quite easily. This boat is so dam easy to navigate you can't get lost! I got to my cabin and my luggage was there. My brother's was not yet there. Scanned my card and I was in my cabin. It was quite large, bigger than expected. We had a twin cabin that could be a 4 person cabin. It was an obstructed view it had one of the life boats in the way, but you could see 80-90% of everything out of the window. The TV was a little too small in my opinion it was about a 19 inch flat screen. There was a mini fridge but it didn't really keep anything too cold. We cranked up the dial to max and it still was not super fantastic for a cold drink but it kept it colder than room temperature which was good I suppose. We had a look at the TV channels they offered. There were three movie channels which repeated the same movie on the channel it's on over and over for the day. Then a channel which had sitcoms and other TV shows on it. For example how I met your mother, Glee, Cake Boss (which I fell in love with) and late at night they showed discovery channel type things. The other channels were a mix of kids channels, they had cartoons and other type of shows. Some days they would play a kids movie on one of them none stop till the next day. There was also a news channel but it was crap. Something like fox news but more "puffed up" news stories. I was probably the first person on the boat to hear of Bin Laden death. There was ESPN which played all day, don't expect any Australian sports. There was also a channel showing a camera which was on the front of the boat as well as channels with some information about the cruise and what not. The bathroom is very small, I hated the toilet as I am quite large and it was tiny. I clogged it twice. The 2nd time someone had to come fix it. I guess if you do big poops you should flush multiple times. The shower was alright and a decent size for what it was.Then we met our room cleaner Danzil or something like that. He was a young dark skinned guy did not speak to him much. He was telling us about the safety procedures and what not. He shows us the life jackets and what not. We had to go down at 1:30 to have a safety drill. The alarm went off and we went down with our life jackets. We had to line up single file, people who got their earlier got seats, we did not. The just explained what the rings mean and how to put the jacket on. Probably could of just stayed in cabin and they would of never have known no role checks were taken or anything. Then the sail away deck party started, there were some entertainers and drinks going around. You could also buy a plastic cocktail cup to take home for $5. They claimed they did not have any regular cocktail glasses but the next day they happen to appear on the boat. Cocktails were $9.50 and Carona's were about $7.70 and a gin and tonic was $6.50. I recommend everyone try the strawberry daiquiri and pacific island ice tea with red bull. Soft drinks were all $2.00, coke was only 330ml sadly, but you could buy regular 375ml Pepsi for the same price. The Pepsi was from Australia but the coke was imported from some Asian country. Carona's were from Canada. Most drinks are not from Australia thus they had a different taste to what you may expect. We first ate in the buffet, we ate there quite often. It was great food. You would line up sanitize your hands and get a tray with your knife and fork. I recommend grabbing two plates, one for salad and dessert and another for your meat or hot food. Then you go slowly around to the salad then the deserts then the meat/hot food. The salads were fantastic on the first day however the tomatoes were green. This greatly upset me as I love them! This improved after the first day however. The best thing on the salad section was the Caesar salad dressing. It was amazing; it had a strong taste of garlic and is just to die for. Best dressing for salad I have probably ever had! The salad bar contained all kinds of salad from cold Cous Cous to just plain lettuce.Moving on from the salad bar was the desert bar. This normally contained a tart which was filled with cream and some fruit on top often kiwi or rock melon. Then there were 2-3 different types of cakes some were great some just average, never bad however. Jelly was also available here. The jelly had some sort of fruit in it and was just to die for. The jelly was fantastic it was also available every day. Then you had bread rolls, which are baked daily. Though they are rather empty they are crisp on the outside and soft on the side. They were very nice. Sometimes there were other kinds of breads. Butter was provided with the bread as well.Next was the awesome part, the MEAT. I'm a huge meat eater. Too review everything that was there would take me forever. But here are a few things that were available throughout the cruise. Chicken schnitzel, roasted potato with skin on or off, creamy potato bake, beef pot pie, shepherd's pie, fish grilled, seared, fried, steamed etc, roast chicken, roast pork, lamb shanks, lamb skewers and much much more. There was also soup but I never tried it. There was a new soup every day. However people told me it was hit and miss, but it was normally good. This was the same for the fish, the first two days the fish was great other times just rubbish. At the end of the meat line there was a guy cutting fresh pieces of some meat, this could have been roast chicken or roast beef, it changed daily. Often this was fantastic. I only ever came here for lunch and dinner. They were pretty much the same sort of style all the time. I never woke up on time for breakfast; however I was told breakfast was amazing. On the last day I was brought some pancakes from there and they were too die for. I regret not waking up for breakfast now.Now for the dining room option, I only went here twice. Both times for lunch, I had the chicken focaccia as a starter and the rump steak and chips as a main and the apple crumble for desert the first time. The chicken focaccia was alright, a little plain but was nice, the steak was alright perfectly cooked but was a little dry, just not as tasty as it looked, and the sauce was very good. The apple crumble was small and it was nice just not enough of it. The second time I had the Caesar salad as a starter and it was quite a small amount maybe 3 or 4 cos lettuce leaves with some parmesan and crotons as well as the sauce. The sauce makes it worth it! Then I tried the cheese burger and chips, I took one bite of the burger and just stopped. It was horrible did not like it at all, almost a rotten taste. I skipped desert after trying the burger. I tried to come back one night for dinner but I was wearing shorts, they would not allow me in. So I never came back. I was wearing fairly presentable shorts they were quite long and black, very modest shorts, not like swimming shorts. Other things I should mention was that the food was never hot, it was just warm, I don't like that at all, I prefer nice hot food. When you order all three things they will bring all three of them and just replace it when you finish. They hold it over near your table where they stack the dirty plates to return. This is probably why it's not hot. Also the place is quite noisy as the waiters are always around you stacking plates and what not, they do it in little stations around the room and my table was right next to it. This was not a very nice experience. I never went to the Salt Grill as it was $40 per person and I just wasn't up for it. I did however go to the Asian banquet called La Luna which was $20 per person. It was not fantastic it was 7 or 8 courses of food. It was very spicy and I felt a lot of the food was leftovers from the night before in the buffet. Some of it was very nice like the pork belly and prawns; otherwise it's not worth going to. I will note that it was extremely spicy for some of the courses, to an extreme level where you are gasping for air.Then there was the grill, this was a late night food place which cost extra. The steak sandwich was AMAZING for $15 a kilo of chicken wings was $8.50, a kilo of prawns was $28, Chicken kebabs were $11 and there were chips but I am not sure how much they were...they may have been other things as well but they were not listed. The chicken kebab was the only real rip off. It was really just roast chicken shredded and put in a pizza pocket with some salad and tazaki sauce. The wings and prawns can also be purchased in half kilos at half the price. They were very nice. The prawns are completely peeled apart the tail and are cooked.Room service was $3 for delivery and they would get you salads, soups, sandwiches, pies and cakes as well as a few other simple things. All the items ranged from $5-$8 and were all quite tasty, I tried the cheese cake and Caesar salad. My brother tried the potato beef and bacon pie. There is also a complimentary breakfast for $3 which is toast, pastries, hot chocolate, juice and other such simple things. BUT I never got it. I ordered it on the first day but it never came nor did I receive another card to order it again. I just didn't bother was a little upset over it.Entertainment on the cruise was fantastic, motorcity town was fantastic, it was a show with Motown music. It had a lot of singing and dancing and it was pretty much the most memorable Motown songs you know of, so singing along was encouraged. Amazing performance I wish I watched it twice. I am also 18 and it's not remotely my type of music but I enjoyed it. Pirates of the pacific was also quite a good show, it was a lot of pirate music and it was fun as it got the crowd on stage and involved them in what happened. Was quite funny all families will enjoy this. I missed watching so you wanna dance. I did not hear anything about this so I assume it was not as fun. I also missed most of Boogie Shoes, I watched the last two or three songs. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as the others at all. Then there were three comedians on board. These shows were hilarious! One was all ages and two were 18 years and over. They were all quite rude to some level. But the one which was all ages also sang. He sang like frank Sinatra and it was a great show. The other two were extremely funny; you should bring two or three diapers it's that funny. There was also two laser shows and they were amazing, these were held in the atrium over viewable by three decks. Then also in the atrium there was acrobatics by some group from Columbia. When they were supposed to perform the ship was moving too much so it was cancelled and replaced by a laser show. They performed when we were docked at an island. They were just amazing. This is something everyone should see. Just breathe taking. Other entertainment was given to you in newsletters delivered to your cabin daily, these included trivia, jeopardy, cooking demonstrations, ping pong, dance parties and lots more. Most were quite enjoyable. The singing and dancing crew were just amazing, the girls were just gorgeous and everyone had some real talent. Also there is a show called pacific pop star where passengers qualify to be in through karaoke completions this was fun and hilarious. A guy I played poker with won it singing what a wonderful world. Also in the showroom they sometimes showed movies around 10:30pm and sometimes during the day at 1:00pmThe casino was quite small there were two roulette tables which were $1 chips, three or four blackjack tables, an ocean poker table, a three card poker table, a Texas hold em poker table and a crap ton of slot machines. I was mainly playing poker. The table is also electronic and is $1/$2 blinds. The casino also takes a cut of how much you win in the pot. You play with other players on the table not a computer. It was fantastic I could have stayed there the whole cruise. The people I played with were hilarious! The casino does take quite a lot from you however when you play. Tournaments were also organized in the newsletter, it took a minimum of six people to start one but normally you had ten players. Entrance was $30 the entrance fee is the reward for 1st and 2nd place. The casino takes $5 per player in these tournaments. With ten players the rewards are $175 for first place and $75 for second place. I came second in one. It was great fun. Also on one night of the cruise the dealer for blackjack will show BOTH his cards to you before you decided to hit or stay with minimum bet of $5. I did not play however. Bingo is also on board and at the end there was a massive $6,800 price pool for one game. Full tickets are $30 for 5 games. The guy who won the prize pool was a bit of a downer. He wasn't happy or excited at all and he was under 40! The worst thing on the cruise to me was the casino bartenders and waiters. The never came to the poker table to ask what you want to drink they also never cleaned it up until you left. There would be 20 bottles and glasses on the table and not a single one will be taken off. Also when you asked for a Carona with Lemon they would give you with lime. When you ask for a lemon they say there are none left, when someone just got one on their drink. When you complain enough you'll get the lemon.The first place we visited was Noumea this place well just ....sucked! It's a French city and is VERY VERY expensive. Expect it to cost more than Australia! This city is home to the world's largest lagoon. It had some amazing waters. When you get off the boat you will enter the terminal and you will find many local market stalls, don't buy anything! It's expensive and you will find it cheaper in Vila. Here you will also find tour guides. Do not book the Noumea Experience Bus. It is rubbish! You go on a bus and get picked up where ever you want in Noumea but the overload the bus. They say a new bus comes every 20 minutes but when we went we had to wait over 50 minutes for the next one. We request a refund and just went on a small mini bus type thing and it was just as good. Lemon bay is a great place to visit. We had a look around and weren't really impressed. Local's aren't that nice and may just ignore you if you try speaking to them. But what do you expect their French. I got a fruit smoothie from a store it cost me $9 and it had the longest straw I have ever had, it was over 50cm long! Was amazing to me. You will see a lot of pretty girls here as well; my jaw was dropped almost the whole time. Don't bother going to the casino it's about the size of a living room and is just slot machines.The next place was some island, I did not go here, you had to catch a tender boat to get there and I was a bit lazy to go, I also woke up a bit too late to go anyway.Next was Vila! This was a fantastic place. It's so cheap for anything you want! Once you get off the ship you will be hit by a huge amount of heat. It's hot very very hot. Then local taxi drivers will call out to you from a hill trying to get you to go with them. You have two options a bus or a taxi. The taxi's aren't your usual taxi's they are small little cars. They can be anything you could get into a corolla or a swift. They cost you $10 to get into town for how many people you want in there. A bus is anywhere between $1.50 and $3 per person to go. They aren't your normal bus either they are just vans. I heard that normally they wait till they get full before they go. But we just left straight away so maybe it's not the case. We paid $3 each to get to town and when we came back $1.50 each. Also there are no seat belts and no driving laws so expect a fun ride! Spare underwear is recommended. Also before the taxi's there is a huge market, try not to spend too much time here because the same things are found in town and are probably cheaper. You can also get a tour of the island for around $80.When in town you can visit duty free stores and other random stores, there is a lot to see and do. Duty free is fantastic. I got 1.1 liters of Jim bean for $11! Cigarettes are cheap as well if you don't mind rolling your own you can get 250 grams for $21 otherwise a carton is $35 or so. You can also find pirated dvd movies for around $5 each, not really worth it but you may want to bring a few home. Give the kids selling newspapers a dollar or two it'll make them very happy. The people are extremely friendly it has been voted happiest place on earth quite a few times. It's a very nice place. You can find billabong shirts for $10 and bags for $17. Also there are many nice shoes around for $20-$40. You really may want to buy something while here. Also there are fireworks around. They are so hard to resist try to not think about how to smuggle them onboard! If you get lost just as for help and the people will help you! Also I recommend you try kava, a local drink which makes you "happy". When you are going back on board you pass through a metal detector and your things get x-rayed again not much attention on the x-ray is noticed here. All crew members were fantastic apart the casino waiters and bartenders. On the deck it was fantastic they asked if you wanted a drink and gave recommendations and then got it for you. They would also clean your table when things are finished. You felt you were respected and treated well by all members of the boat. Getting of the cruise was like getting on, you go through customs and what not it was easy and quick. They did not even check my carryon luggage at all; you could probably bring some extra bottles of alcohol if you put it in your carry on. No sniffer dogs again and was very quick to get offThe cruise was fantastic I would defiantly go again, however I would like to experience other cruise lines as well to compare them. So though I enjoyed it I will probably not be back for some time as I want to see other ships. It's also very cheap so it's a great escape; there is a lot of kids on board as well. I went the week after the school holidays and still there were many people of all age groups. I hope my review has helped you pick P&O cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My wife & I booked this cruise looking for a relaxing time, but in many ways although cruise OK, many things on this ship were lacking in quality/standard. Our previous experience has been HAL in Alaska, Europe & Eastern ... Read More
My wife & I booked this cruise looking for a relaxing time, but in many ways although cruise OK, many things on this ship were lacking in quality/standard. Our previous experience has been HAL in Alaska, Europe & Eastern Mediterranean, and Princess to Tasmania. HAL way ahead in all categories with Princess not far behind. We still quietly enjoyed the relaxation even though it lost its gloss via lack of attention to detail.We deliberately chose a higher midships inside stateroom having experienced outside & verandah previously, as we only use it for sleeping. Found the stateroom tidy clean - nothing flash. Steward good but nothing personal in manner.The ship, we were told was just 18 months out of having substantial dollars spent on refurbishment. Waste of money and a prime example of P&O Aust. (or Carnival Corp's)policy of hand me down ships to the aussie cruise market. Many parts of the ship are very tired and dated. Movement around the ship is not a comfortable exercise, does not flow particularly as it has no complete promenade type deck. It has no top decks lounge area such as the usual crows nest, a legacy of being handed down from the German market I'm told. It also lacks comfortable & quiet lounge furniture & areas throughout. Elevators constantly out of service. Lower accommodation very noisy from worn machinery (stabilisers I believe) with some people asking for moves away so to sleep.Below, to save space & time is a dot point summary of the cruiseEmbarkation Process - Very GoodWelcome on board - NoneDirections to stateroom - NoneSail Away Party - ordinary and loud on Lido Crew - mostly offhanded behaviour, appeared poorly trained but found the occasional good & helpful steward.Dining Room - Food was good to very good but spoilt by rude stewards.Plantation buffet - mediocre food & serviceRestaurants - Did not go to Salt Grill with $40.00 cover charge - did go to La Luna (Asian) 1 night (cover charge $20), a waste of money.Spa & Gym - very expensive.The Marquee - bar one comedian whose humour was from the gutter, the shows were very good. The seating is very uncomfortable with low & uncomfortable fixed bench seats at rear & behind a weird mixture of crammed in movable seating with high backs.Circus on Lido deck - mediocrePools tired and datedPorts - Luganville very basic - our Custom Village tour was a disaster and should be dropped (1 hour to do 10km in a rust bucket van)Noumea - beautiful area of New Caledonia but town dead (was Sunday afterall)Other ports were excellent especially Mystery IslandP&O Australia seriously needs to review its hand me down ship policy. Probably won't go on P&O again and this is where P&O will suffer as others agreed. Needs to upgrade its party at all costs/hand me down budget cruise line reputation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was my first cruise but I really enjoyed it. I guess these things are what you make of them and my partner and I are very social people, so we chatted to most people and got to know as many people as possible. We also tried to do as ... Read More
This was my first cruise but I really enjoyed it. I guess these things are what you make of them and my partner and I are very social people, so we chatted to most people and got to know as many people as possible. We also tried to do as many of the activities as we could squeeze in so aways seemed to be running from one thing to the next. The staff were wonderful Cruise Director David Pepper was great, as were the entertainment staff - Pee-Wee, Anthony, Karen and the others. The shows were brilliant!! Girt by Sea was an Australiana show which I thought would be cheesy, but it was so well done. The main singers were Charlotte Fortune and Neil James. Both wonderful and nice people to talk to socially. My favourite would be the Mentalist show by Phoenix. I saw his first show and it was so good I saw the same show repeated again. His memory is amazing and the way he can read people's minds is mind blowing. Highly recommended. He also was social with the passengers and he did some close up tricks for my partner and I and I'm still baffled how he does them! Loree from LA was a pianist/singer playing every night. Also brilliant. Food wise, Salt was lovely ($40 surcharge) but absolutely loved La Luna ($20 surcharge). The duck was amazing! The buffet one was okay. Went there mostly because it was easy. Get ready to put on weight! The night club was fun too. My only criticism was they closed down whenever the crowd dies down. I believe they should still stay open until a set time if there are still people that want to party there. Had fun in the casino, but the bar would shut before the casino did so you had to run up to the nightclub to get drinks. Very bizarre. First port was actually Airlie Beach but it's not listed here. First time I've ever been there. We just relaxed near this big public pool near the beach. Perfect day. Beautiful But overall, excellent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Having traveled on this ship now 5 times I personally would never step foot on it again it is looking tired and nothing more than a party ship since it's changed to it's departure port of Brisbane. Embarkation. The ... Read More
Having traveled on this ship now 5 times I personally would never step foot on it again it is looking tired and nothing more than a party ship since it's changed to it's departure port of Brisbane. Embarkation. The check-in was open from 8am and seemed to be running OK, we were told we would board around 10.30am we got called through at this time only to have to wait for Australian Customs to have there tea-break (no fault of P&O). We boarded the ship as we had been on it before we did not need to be told where to go to find our cabin, But if this was your first time then you were direct to the ship map next to the lift. Cabin and Cabin Steward. We booked an inside cabin this time we normally book a outside window. The cabin was tired looking the carpet was dirty and stained and for the first time on any cruise I have been on I question if the sheets were even clean. The steward which I will not name was not one of the best we have ever had, The cabin on same days was not cleaned until the late afternoon and if you showered for dinner the towels were not changed until the next day as the cabin never was done at night (very unusual for a cruise holiday. But the worst thing of all was on the day of Dis-Embarkation we were all advised that the ship will be running late into Brisbane by 2 hours and if we could all be out of our cabins by 8am. So we set our alarms for 5.45am and the automatic phone wake up call for 5.45 as well, Just after 5.30am our cabin door was opened by the steward and shouted out wake-up call (even though we had the do not disturb card in the door) 15 Min's later the automatic phone and alarms went off. We went down to breakfast at 6am (and once again put the do not disturb in the door )and left the ipods/computers etc on the side as we would pack these into the backpack last. We returned to the cabin around 6.45am to find our cabin door open we looked around and all the cabin doors for this steward were also open (even though no one had to be out of there cabin until 8am)we checked to make sure nothing was missing. This was the first time on any cruise I have been on that I did not tip the cabin steward. Public Areas. In general are kept clean but the carpeted area's are looking old and tired. Entertainment. The Pirate's of the Pacific is good but the other shows are only average at best which are done by the Pacific Entertainers, The only other shows were Ash Puriri singing which was good and a local show when we were in Noumea. The other activities on the ship even trivia which i enjoy doing are way below what you would expect to find on a cruise. The Cruise Director is not the worst I have seen, But is fighting a losing battle with what he as to work with. Dining Room / Buffet The food in the palm court dining room is no world beater but is what you would expect from this class of ship, The only thing like could do is cook the veggies a bit more as they are rock hard. The dinning room staff are friendly but do not expect service you would get on a higher class ship for example starters coming out at the same time as main meals for people would not happen and dirty glasses on a table is a no no. On the last formal night the usual chocolate's came out well now do i describe this a mass of little chocolate pieces dropped in a slab of white chocolate and cut in to small pieces and add that to a orange dyed coconut to sum up awful. The last thing regarding the Dining Room is there dress standards there is not any. Everything from passengers wearing jeans with holes to t-shirts and shorts, With formal nights being no different passengers from Brisbane most seem to have a attitude we don't have to dress up. The Maitre-d who should be there to make sure dress codes are applied does not seem to care the only time i saw him was at the captain's party and for the food director is one of the most rudest person I have come across on a ship. The buffet food can only be described as below bad even the wife who eats most things Say's it's awful if you enjoy everything cold and not cooked very well then this is the place to try. One other place where I ate on the ship was the grill prior to this cruise the food as always been very good but no surprise it as changed as well, The kebab I have always ordered as not only gone up by $4 but is now put on pitta bread which is not toasted with chucks of meat instead of shaved along with core of the tomato really good stuff not. Overall Like stated before I have been on this ship 5 times now and since it's arrival in Queensland the standards have dropped to a new low which I thought P&O Australia could not even achieve. I have never thought the idea of removing the tipping from your cruise is good way to go unless the service is bad I think that now makes my mind up that i am correct. As for the captain telling people that we have brand new ship from last December sailing from Sydney in the Pacific Jewel maybe he should get his facts right and say it's 15 years old and has been renamed. My next cruise was going to be on the Sun Princess from Brisbane in December this year but I am now in the process of changing to a different ship not leaving from Brisbane. *Note cruise left from Brisbane and not Sydney but on the port of embarkation box it does not show Brisbane on it* Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
All in all I enjoyed the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. It was very relaxing, but I did spend more time in my cabin than I thought I would. This was probably more due to roughish seas and overcast weather than anything else, but I do have to ... Read More
All in all I enjoyed the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. It was very relaxing, but I did spend more time in my cabin than I thought I would. This was probably more due to roughish seas and overcast weather than anything else, but I do have to note that the Australian passengers were often a miserable lot. A lot of people walked around with faces like smacked a*ses, which is always a bit depressing on a cruise. We visited Noumea, Port Vila and Lifou on the cruise. Embarkation was fine. No problems whatsoever. Noumea: We came off the ship to discover it was a public holiday in Noumea, and therefore all tours etc were useless as attractions were closed. Luckily we had booked none as we were intending to see the city sights, unluckily they were also closed. It seems Noumea takes its public holidays very seriously. The city was run down looking and empty and a bit eerie - I'm sure it would be a much nicer city with everything open and people everywhere. We ate some crepes at a place near the docks, but basically just wandered around took photos and boarded early. I have to say that none of us had any idea it was a public holiday. I would have thought there'd be some info somewhere, like when we docked or something. Lifou: We didn't do much at Lifou except walk around in the heat for half an hour, hire some ratty old snorkelling gear and snorkel for most of the time there. We snorkelled where we were tendered and it was decent snorkelling - we saw turtles and many fish. It was a beautiful little island. I would have liked to see more of it - there had been a big storm that ruined the steps to a place we wanted to snorkel and people said it was too slippery to climb down to, so we just hung around the tendering point, which was lovely anyway. Port Vila: Really enjoyed Port Vila with it's market near the dock and it's low prices in town. We went into town, ate, hired a driver to take us to the waterfall, which was fabulous (wish we'd been more prepared and spent more time there) and then went on a shore excursion to do some snorkelling. It was all good, I would definitely return to Port Vila. Cabins on Dawn: We had 2 ocean view cabins. Really decent storages. The teens had their cabin toilet flood pretty badly. I had heard there could be problems so I was expecting this as they are ridiculous with the toilet paper. Poor cabin steward. The problem was fixed reasonably quickly and I was very happy that one of our teens was old enough that we could get a separate cabin. We had no problems with our own cabin - it was nice and comfortable and we liked our ocean view. There weren't any real perks to the cabin - we used our own toiletries and shampoo and conditioner and soap as their offerings were non-existent or poor. Service: Had decent service all over the ship. Great cabin steward but I think he came to hate our teenagers. I don't blame him. Food: The main dining room was fine in terms of food but very annoying in terms of booking systems. It certainly wasn't Celebrity in this regard. I liked it but it wasn't great, and eating in the buffet was pretty horrible due to crowdedness and lines and all those smack *rse faced people. Entertainment: I enjoyed the entertainment. Some of the shows were pretty lame but I liked the circus style shows and final karaoke night. Teens club: Mr 15 tried the club and spent a bit of time making new friends. He said it was often pretty boring. Ms 17 was not so keen on the whole scene and preferred activities like making beaded things and going wherever we went. I thought it was a cruise with some good destinations and we were lucky to get great weather for those destinations. The sea days were always a bit cloudy and the seas were a bit rough. It was overall a pleasant experience but I don't know about booking on Dawn or with P&O again. One last thing - we got great prices which helped make it nice. If I'd paid full price I'd have been unhappy about quite a few things. LOL Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I was somewhat apprehensive prior to going on a P&O Australia cruise - especially after having been on several other cruises of a 4 and 5 star standard overseas but I wanted to escape the cold of Central Western NSW so thought ... Read More
I was somewhat apprehensive prior to going on a P&O Australia cruise - especially after having been on several other cruises of a 4 and 5 star standard overseas but I wanted to escape the cold of Central Western NSW so thought "I'll give it a go". EMBARKATION - Arrived at Wharf 5 at 1030 am and was pleased to see many counters open for check-in. Paperwork completed seamlessly, my partner and I sat and waited to be called for boarding which was done at about 12 noon. We boarded heading to Plantations buffet for a light lunch then headed back to our balcony room and unpacked. Weather was rainy and windy as we attended the Sailaway Party on deck. The bar was poorly manned with service there slow. Sailing under the bridge was a spectacle with the Captain suggesting that "passengers susceptible to seasickness should now take medication as seas were expected in the region on 3 - 4 m after we left the harbour. CABIN - Our balcony room 11181 on the starboard (right) side towards the back on Deck 11 was quite good with a table and 2 chairs on the balcony. Bathroom was large though I found it a little dark even with the light on. Was surprised the shower cubicle was quite large and the wardrobe had plenty of space too with removable hangers. Our cabin steward was fine but nothing exceptional - bedtime choccies on 2 nights and terry animals on 3 nights. The rose I had ordered was delivered, as were the birthday balloons, but I would have preferred to have had them already there and not placed while we were unpacking. The cabin was cool for the 2 sea days from and to Sydney necessitating a jumper even with the aircon turned off - the heat function was not activated even though the control was on maximum high heat setting. FOOD & BEVERAGE - dined at Plantations buffet for lunch & breakfast most days. At breakfast, the queue at the egg station for fried eggs was lengthy during peak periods - fried eggs being the extent of the item supplied there. An omelette was available from the buffet plates along with a selection of cold meats, cereals, yoghurts, toast, pastries and 2 juices - basically a stock-standard 3 star hotel fare. Lunch was a similar system with a variety of meals available which changed daily. It was disappointing to note that no free beverage was on offer other than water and instant coffee/tea. Evening meal at the Waterfront Restaurant was adequate, although nothing special with a 2 page menu - on the left page and a changing on the right. Wine list had to be asked for every night and 2nd bread rolls offered on 3 nights only. SHORE TOURS - Ports of call being Noumea, Mystery Island, and Isle of Pines. Noumea shore tour we had selected was quite good and the snorkelling not bad. Hired snorkel gear from ship for my partner and we received a new snorkel and a clean mask. ENTERTAINMENT - Shows in the theatre was very good with some very funny comedians. The Cirque was a non-event on the outside of the ship due to poor weather but it was eventually held indoors. The Lazer show was very good albeit short. SUMMARY - It was quite good and ultimately, you get what you pay for. Would I cruise again with P&O Australia? Afraid not as they are just not up to a high enough standard as far as I am concerned but there is definitely a market for them here in Australia. The Jewel is getting tired - this can be determined by the issues with elevators and broken pipe during this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We just got back from our South Pacific Cruise and as I promised here is my review. But unlike normal I will endeavour to keep it on topic and for it to be concise and make sense. :) Embarkation: Was seamless and well organised ... Read More
We just got back from our South Pacific Cruise and as I promised here is my review. But unlike normal I will endeavour to keep it on topic and for it to be concise and make sense. :) Embarkation: Was seamless and well organised everyone at P&O was helpful and friendly even considering the weather was pretty average to say the least. I was surprised how quick it was actually. In no time we had found our cabin and on the top deck enjoying the sights of Sydney and welcome aboard drinks. The Sail away party was fun, going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge is definitely a great thing to experience, I was told there is 7 meters clearance for the Jewel under the bridge, it didn't look like that to us we recon less than 7 feet. Weather out from the heads was pretty bad 5 meter swell with the occasional 7 meter wave that night that kept you on your toes. I made the mistake of opening our balcony door that night to find myself very wet. We did make dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant that night and it was empty sea sickness was starting to take it's toll already. Trying to sleep was an experience it felt like I was undergoing a test for the NASA Space programme. My lady (a first time cruiser)was prepared she had a supply of sea sickness tablets she had got on-line from recommendations from a friend and she had no problems I would recommend them to anyone who suffers they are called "Sea Legs" from NZ and you can't get them here in Australia apparently. Anyway just take them before you cruise other people had taken other tablets that didn't help at all. I don't suffer so I didn't bother. Our Cabin: We were on Deck 10 at the front and had a balcony. I was pleasantly surprised heaps of room for to hang and store your clothes. I liked the decor, inside the rooms and the whole decor of the ship in general. Bathrooms were big enough. I am glad we didn't pay the extra for the full length balcony on deck 11. It just wasn't needed. The balcony's have two chairs and a table. Our Cabin Steward James was just the best friendly and quick and wow that man could make a wicked terry toweling animal. :). They deserve any tips you can afford to give them in my opinion. I don't think I would do there job for what they get paid and for the lengths of there contracts. Entertainment: Yes P&O do put on some great shows, the laser show was great(could of lasted longer but) there floor shows in the Marque Lounge are top quality. And the circus shows are top rate, We were lucky enough to have two troupes on board as the 1st were finishing there contracts and the new troupe were on there to practice for the next cruise. In essence we got to see two shows by two different acts. In my opinion P&O could maybe lift there game in regard to there bands they where rather repetitive with there song selections and really when needed on theme nights did not have the songs to match the occasion. They could really work on making there theme nights more known and talking them up a lot more. So everyone gets involved. The Island theme night was a good night as most got involved. My only other gripe would be the Attic night club being so small, what was P&O thinking having so much room for the fitness centre and a night club that you cannot swing a cat in. The DJ was good but. Dining: The Waterfront restaurant I could not fault. Ample food seconds if you wished. The Wine and Food Waiters were attentive prompt and pleasant. We tended to dine late but even when we forgot to book because of being to busy on shore. They always made room. The buffet we mainly only did for brekkie, on the rare occasions we did have to grab a quick meal I found the selection of fruits and salads great and the hot food ample. The Salt Grill was superb and well worth the extra $40 a head. We didn't dine at the LaGuina but I heard good reviews on that also. Just a few things I found a tad wanting, Lunch menu was great but dinner menu had no salad at all that you could order as a side i:e garden salad. also the Waterfront restaurant really does lack a restroom close by, it is a walk almost the length of the ship to go to the toilet. Minor things I know but i suppose if you don't mention it they wont know. Over all it was enjoyable and I can not fault the service and quality. Shore Excursions: We didn't do any P&O based shore excursions, as we tend to be a bit independent in that regard. We like to get a taxi for the day and see 3 times as much for the same price. I did speak to a few people who had done shore excursions with P&O and they had no complaints. Loved Mystery Island and Dravuni Island. Port Villa is the place to duty free shop. Isle of Pines would be great if it was easier to get around and explore the island (limited taxi's and transport for so many people). I had some great diving during my cruise. Funny Stuff: Two men got into a fight in the laundry over a washing machine and were put in the brig and let off at the next port. Apparently one guy was talking and didn't get his washing out of the machine fast enough for the other guy, this guy grabbed the other blokes washing out threw it on the floor and stamped on it and a fight broke out. His washing was still on the floor the next day and security in the Precinct of the Laundry Mat was increased to something akin to a visiting king. Day before we arrived home the weather had turned sour again (but not as bad as the way out) everyone on deck was watching a water spout out at sea and suddenly another one appeared and passed across the ships deck collecting a lady in a chair moving her 2 meters from her previous position and depositing her on her butt, with a what was that look on her face. Conclusion: I would travel with P&O again, I could not fault the service, the Captain was one funny guy and did everything as promised even swapping Nomeau for the Isle of Pines as we couldn't get there in time on our way out of Sydney from the bad weather. We got the Isle of Pines the last port of call which I thought was better anyway. Yes this ship is showing signs of age but they seemed to be trying to keep on top of it as there was maintenance being done every main port we went to. P&O just please fix your lifts on this boat people weren't happy about them at all. I didn't really care stairs are fine. All in all great times, great staff and top service and after all cruising should be as fun as you want to make it. Good work Pacific Jewel. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Have just returned from an 8 day trip to Noumea on the Pacific Jewel. After reading quite a few bad reviews was a bit apprehensive but needn't have worried as it was great. Food was good and plentiful, ship was clean, staff were ... Read More
Have just returned from an 8 day trip to Noumea on the Pacific Jewel. After reading quite a few bad reviews was a bit apprehensive but needn't have worried as it was great. Food was good and plentiful, ship was clean, staff were marvelous and so happy in their jobs, and we went to quite a few of the shows and were very impressed. We ate most of our meals in the Plantation Restaurant, which is self service, but there was so much to choose from. We ate a couple of times in the Waterfront Restaurant and the food was of an excellent quality. The ports of call were really good, Noumea, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines. Take some money with you to the last 2 as the local islanders set up market stalls and sell souvenirs, food, coconuts and we could have even got a massage on Mystery Island. The weather was good and the water lovely and warm for swimming and snorkeling. If you are looking for somewhere nice in Noumea to grab a coffee I can highly recommend Le bout du monde, which overlooks Port Moselle marina just across from the morning market....they do a great cappuccino. One thing I would recommend is that you take a watch and/or travel clock as there aren't many clocks around the ship and as I had switched my mobile off, I was always wondering what the time was so that I wouldn't be late for any of the activities. If anyone wants any more information about the ship, I am happy to oblige. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Week Fantastique. July 9th to July 16, 2011. *Brisbane * Noumea * Lifou * Port Vila * Brisbane. By Cassie Grieves (8 years old) with a little help from Mum. Day One (Sat 9thJuly) : Our Adventure Begins.... I can't ... Read More
Week Fantastique. July 9th to July 16, 2011. *Brisbane * Noumea * Lifou * Port Vila * Brisbane. By Cassie Grieves (8 years old) with a little help from Mum. Day One (Sat 9thJuly) : Our Adventure Begins.... I can't wait to go on the cruise. It's my first time and I'm so excited. Grandma and Grandpa came to pick us up at 6.00am and drove us to the airport. Nike, my dog, came to the airport too. He was barking and crying when we left him behind with Grandma and Grandpa. I helped pack my Nintendo, camera and black poodle bag. We flew all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane. It took about 2 hours. When we landed in Brisbane it was 15 degrees. We took a taxi to the port and checked in. When we were able to board the Pacific Dawn I was so amazed. The ship had a swimming pool and whirlpools. We went to Palm Court for lunch. We shared our table with an old couple. There was an announcement for everyone to go to the Show Lounge for a safety drill. The cruise director had a microphone in his hand and talked about safety should something go wrong. We booked into the Shark Shack kids club. I love playing air ice hockey. We went to a magic show. One trick was swallowing razor blades. Another was escaping a strait jacket. There was a trick using Chinese rings. I know there is a hole in one of rings but I don't know how he did the razorblade trick. We went to a laser light show in the Atrium. I thought of my friend Lucia. She would have loved it. The music was a bit too loud but it was so beautiful. Bright pink, orange, green and more different colours. At the start of the show the music went "DerDerDerDoooo DoDoDoooooo". And kept getting lower and lower. It gave me a fright. That night I dreamed about what tomorrow might be like, the magic show and the laser show. Day Two (Sun 10th July): First day at sea... I got up and got changed as usual. We had breakfast in bed. It was delicious. In the afternoon we went to the buffet. I had curry with rice, fruit, vegetables and bread rolls. I wore my bathers underneath my clothes. After eating I jumped in the pool. It was freezing. I jumped straight out and said "BrrBrr" a few times. I waited on the outdoor stage for the staff to open the spa. I waited for ten minutes. We jumped in. It was so hot. I made a friend called MacKenzie. We played together and danced. After that we went downstairs and watched the circus. They did amazing things like dropping down from really high. It was quite dangerous. Later when I went back to the Shark Shack I saw my new friend MacKenzie there. I saw the "Do you wanna Dance ?" show in the Show Lounge. The singers and dancers were very good. My favourite dance was the bullfight-like dance. When we went back to the room, our cabin steward, Jonel, had made a dog out of towels for me. The eyes were made from the lids of the milk packages. Day 3 (Mon 11th July): Noumea, New Caledonia Our ship arrived at New Caledonia. We caught a bus. It took us to Anse Vata beach. We walked along the beach and I picked coconuts from the trees. I ate an icecream and Mum had a crepe. Mum said $8 is a lot to pay for an icecream. We waited for the bus there. When we hopped off I saw a stage and ran to it and did cartwheels. My hands got dirty. We went back to the boat and had dinner. It was so delicious. There were some rich chocolates on our bed. Mmmmmm. Then we went to the market. Mum, bought a necklace for grandma. It was expensive. But mum bought cheaper ones for Ju Feng, Susan and Sara. I wanted a necklace but got a ball that flashes when it bounces instead. Day 4 : (Tue 12 th July) Lifou I woke up and it was like any other day. I had Nutrigrain and bacon and eggs for breakfast. I then went downstairs one floor and I saw MacKenzie. She is my best friend on the cruise. She was getting changed to go to a Village tour. I went down to deck 5. I went in a boat. These boats are called tenders. We went snorkelling. We saw a lot of colourful fish and coral. The colours of the fish were wonderful. We bumped into MacKenzie's family. We walked along and Mum went to a garden. It had a house where the natives live. There was a dog. It was so skinny because it did not have enough food. It was so hot there. When we came to the end of it I had a coconut drink...REALLY ORGANIC. We went back and I went to the Shark Shack. Afterwards we saw "The Pirates of the Pacific" show. When I came back to the cabin Jonel had made me an elephant made of towels. Day 5 : (Wed 13th July) Vanuatu I woke up at 7.15am. Well I actually woke up at six something. I had breakfast at 7.15am. Nutrigrain and apple juice. I played my Nintendo for 50 minutes. I played Mario Bros. I went to World One. I went to Bowsers Castle but then died. I went on a buggy at Off Road Adventures. I was screaming when we first went on the buggies because it was so fast. We went through a sandy part and it was so dusty. Lucky Mum gave me a scarf to cover my nose and mouth. Our buggy broke down and we had to get a new battery. It took a long time so we had to speed really fast to catch up to the others. It was so fast I nearly fell out ! We saw hundreds of baby turtles. We were allowed to pick them up. They were so cute. I went to lunch and had an organic steak. I cut the steak into little bits and put some lettuce on top and got to make a sandwich. Later when we were driving back home I threw some lollies, menthos, to the children. We went to Cascade Falls. It was so beautiful. I had to climb through the water and some parts were slippery. I went for a swim. It was very cold but refreshing. Dad tried to take a picture of me but I always stuck my tongue out! When we went back I didn't want to go. We went back to the ship. We played bingo. Mum said if she won the $2000 jackpot, she would give it to MacKenzie's Mum. MacKenzie's sister has something wrong with her and needs some special care. Unfortunately though we didn't win. That night was island night. Mum went in a hula hoop competition and was really good. I did some dancing too. Day 6 (Thu 14th July) : At Sea I thought about Nike and wondered if he was crying. There were a few theme nights while we at sea. Island night, cowboy night and a couple of formal nights. Mum & Dad also went to cocktails with the Captain of the ship and some of his senior officers. Mum and Dad got a photo with the Captain's autograph on it for free. Day 7: (Fri 15th July) : At Sea We tried our luck again at bingo. This time the jackpot was $4000. We thought if we won we'd give $2000 to MacKenzie's sister, Paris, and then buy a painting we saw at the auction. It was a painting of a ballerina. I thought the picture was beautiful and I do ballet too. Dad went to golf putting. Dad also sang karaoke but I wasn't able to watch because it was in the Bengal Bar. I slept while Dad was singing. Dad was in the golf putting contest but he didn't win. He was also in the Pacific Popstar competition. He didn't win but got a P&O bag with P&O caps, key chains and a stubby holder. Day 8 (Sat 16th July) Back to Brisbane We had a look at the photo boards and bought about 5. They were photo-shopped so it looked a bit like our faces were made of wax. We arrived back in Brisbane at 6am and were off the ship by 7.30am. I can't wait for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
this will be short n sweet. But we travelled with our two young children aged 5 & 6 at the time. We flew to Brisbane the day prior to cruising, and i am glad we did. As we went bright and early for boarding, and we were on in time ... Read More
this will be short n sweet. But we travelled with our two young children aged 5 & 6 at the time. We flew to Brisbane the day prior to cruising, and i am glad we did. As we went bright and early for boarding, and we were on in time for lunch. The sail out party was amazing, and the entertainment crew did an awesome job of getting all ages involved and excited for the upcoming cruise. DINING: The buffet was great for the first day or so, then we became tired of it. It seemed like everything was the same, and not much variety. We then found the restaurant (Palm Court Dining) and it was soo nice to have a beautiful meal. The service was excellent. Alot of Australian companies could learn something from these people. So we dined at the restaurant nearly everyday for lunch and dinner. On the top deck, they do a lunch consisting of bread rolls filled with different fillings nearly everyday (except shore days). And the bread rolls are beautiful. ENTERTAINMENT Bingo was heaps of fun, and the commentators are sooo funny. the Casino has everything of a normal casino, with the exception of Keno. So it was good. We only seen two shows, and they were great. Next time we will try and see a few more. The shows in the atrium (circus etc) were amazing, and left us breathless. And the kids loved them. KIDS CLUB The kids absolutely loved kids club, and we couldn't get them out of there. The carers are amazing, and the kids loved them. They were so great, that the carers knew all the kids by name by the second day, which made the kids feel sooo welcome. The kids did shows that the parents could go and see in the theatre, and they thought that was great. TOURS I am glad we only did one tour, and it was pretty good. But on the other two destinations, we did our own thing. We saved hundreds of dollars doing our own thing. At Vila, we paid a local to take us to all the tourist hot spots for $150 for the day. He was great, and we seen everything that the tours were doing and more.. We also seen stuff that the boat doesn't tell you about, and it was amazing. The kids loved it, loved Turtle Bay, the local villages, the local schools etc. It was a real eye opener to see just how the other half live, so to speak. CABIN OUr cabin was neat and tidy, with heaps of storage. It was quite roomy considering there was 4 of us. During the day our steward (Johannes - who was amazing and so thoughtful) put the bunks up, so we had room to move. It was even better we had a window to look out day and night. The rocking didn't bother us at all, as we were on deck 6, in the middle of the ship. OVERALL We had a great time, although we wish the weather could have been kinder. We have now booked our second cruise on this boat for longer, two weeks around New Zealand. We only did a short 7nighter for the first cruise, just in case etc... I was told by the local travel agent and P & O person, that the Pacific Dawn is the better of all the P & O ships.. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Embarkation - Smooth - the best we have experienced from the tent at Wharf 5. Room key plus a separate cruise card a nuisance at first but you get used to it. Disembarkation was even better - just luck that a Maxi Taxi appeared on cue ... Read More
Embarkation - Smooth - the best we have experienced from the tent at Wharf 5. Room key plus a separate cruise card a nuisance at first but you get used to it. Disembarkation was even better - just luck that a Maxi Taxi appeared on cue within 5 minutes. Excellent assistance for people in wheelchairs or with mobility problems. Cabin - Good - midships starboard side. The balcony is quite narrow with an outward opening door that limits the usefulness of the full width - the door will not open or close if one of the chairs is in the way. We were glad we had booked deck 11 with the open balcony rails when we saw the width of the balcony. The much reported noise from the Pool Deck above was not a problem for us but then we live in the inner city in close proximity to our neighbours and have developed a somewhat Japanese attitude to neighbour noise, Our Steward - Edela from the Philippines was on hand to welcome us aboard and check for any special requests. She provided excellent and caring service throughout the cruise. First impressions of the ship - dEcor a surprise - warm tones with columns of iridescent red in the lift lobbies and luminous pink highlights in public areas at night. The warm colours were followed through in the cabin with full length striped curtains in yellow and burnt orange, which reminded me of our room at Circus Circus many years ago in Las Vegas. Thankfully no luminous pink lighting. The walls were a pleasant (and restful) light blue green. Lots of storage and a pleasant open feel to the space. Champagne on the balcony - for us a cruise tradition. I would swap the Spa area on Deck 14 for more open public space and the pool deck was not as attractive as other ships we have been on. Otherwise the public areas were varied and not usually overcrowded. Navigating the ship - Our cabin was midships - the nearest lifts only reach as far as deck 11 so getting to 12 for the pool, buffet and speciality restaurants meant a trip along a corridor to the forward or aft lifts. We are not lazy - Harry rides a small bright red mobility scooter. I walk ahead waving a warning flag, watching out for my own heels and the toes of people wearing thongs. One midships lift went out of service early on but was fixed within a day - otherwise no lift problems, except on the final morning when everyone plus their hand baggage was trying to cram into the same lift at the same time. Being the last day, most were back into shore side rush hour mode and complained grumpily about the delay instead of airily waving the lift on with a "No Worries Mate, we'll take the stairs". Dining - We chose to sit at the same table for two each night in the Waterfront for late service dinner and found this worked for us - booking for the next night as we walked out Our companions at the adjacent tables changed each night and conversation was easy. The wait staff quickly worked out our preferences. Wine and food arrived at a comfortable pace and at the right temperature. After the first few days we ate lunch in the Waterfront Restaurant in preference to the Plantation Buffet. Service was a little less responsive at lunch when we had a different table and therefore different wait staff but was still good . Waterfront is a very different main dining room from our experience on Princess and HAL - no sweeping staircase or frescoed ceilings. It is modern in style and divided into smaller more intimate spaces by wait stations, which are topped with clumps of artificial grass. The Executive Chef has a good joke to tell about this grass, which I won't spoil. Go to the Culinary show and do the galley tour. The quality of the food varied based on what we chose - sometimes we chose well sometimes not. The nightly specials were worth trying and the always available selections were usually good especially the soups and light dishes. Extra bread rolls, butter or a quick change of a bad choice for a better one were not a problem. We ate breakfast in our cabin or on the balcony ordering a basic room service continental breakfast and adding some extras from the buffet. Room service was always on time with hot coffee and was worth the $3 delivery charge for us. We ate once at both La Luna and Salt Grill - enjoyed both as a novelty but not overly impressed. Bar prices - This took us two sea days to work out. The penny dropped on the third night after we had conducted serious research in several bars. A cocktail in the "premium" bar on Deck 7 - the Atrium Mix Bar - will cost you $15 and a shot of whisky $10 - more for single malts - "We only serve premium brands in this bar." commented the bar tender when we asked for House Scotch. By comparison, in Connexions - a larger bar with a dance floor on deck 7 - a cocktail will cost $7 - $9 with beer less than $6. The price lists on each table spell out the cost of cocktails but not individual prices for beer, wine or soft drinks. These are Price On Application and asking is the way to go. So ask and shop around. Room Service prices vary from $5.50 for XXXX to $144 for Moet with a $3 charge for delivery. You can buy a cocktail, a mocktail, wine or beer at almost any bar and carry your drink(s) away with you wherever you like. Breakable glasses on the pool deck are discouraged. Wine by the glass is not good value so buy a bottle and either leave it in the dining room for the next meal or take the remainder with you back to your cabin or onto the next activity - no problems. Entertainment - The signature Pacific Cirque shows are brilliant. On this cruise the winds were too chancy for open air Deck 12 performances. The Atrium is a good alternative - aim for level 6 and get in early for a good view - pretend you are waiting for a washing machine in the Laundromat and take a book. The Production Shows were energetic, well designed and very well received. Some of the individual guest artist performances were a little lost in the large two tiered Marquee theatre unless you were in the A grade stalls on Deck 7 or front balcony rows on Deck 8. There was one very good light classics pianist Ian Mason, who mostly played in the (Premium) Mix Bar. Meet the Cast plus the (optional) Backstage tour on the last day was an interesting and fun look into working as an entertainer on board a cruise ship. On Board Activities - Short, varied and frequent was the usual pattern unless you go in for bridge or bingo - both requiring a longer attention span than I can manage on a cruise. I stopped counting the individual activities on offer on sea days after 40. The range and spread out locations for all this busyness was enough to distribute the passengers throughout the ship and the only crowded spaces were the pool deck on sunny days, Bingo as the prize snowballed and Connexions bar in the evening. Shore Tours - The Shore Tour Desk was helpful when the tour we had booked ahead on line was cancelled. To find an alternative tour in Port Denarau, we needed confirmed assistance with tendering and on shore transport that could manage the scooter. This was organised by email from the shore tour desk to the tour operator in Nadi and it all worked, We were escorted via the secret lift to the tender level and on shore were directed to the bus with the luggage space we needed for the scooter. I did the Isle of Pines Natural Aquarium Tour and recommend it - good exercise, a beautiful beach and some interesting fish. Otherwise we did our own thing on shore. On Mystery Island, I did a local off the beach "Best Snorkelling" trip to the fringing reef for $25 including (dare I say it) a tip. I recommend this option having snorkelled directly off the beach on a previous cruise. You get away from the crowds, your camera and bag are safe in the boat and there are some wonderful stag coral formations , a variety of fish and plenty of coral outcrops I really noticed the crowds on Mystery Island this visit but despite this the tender operation was smooth and well organised. Overall - Enjoyable - much more so than we were expecting from some of the reviews we had read. The weather was kind apart from missing landfall on Dravuni Island and the ports were varied and spaced well over the 14 days. The real plus was the excellent service from staff in dining areas, bars, at reception and in general just walking around the ship - smiles and greetings on all sides. The Jewel seemed a happy ship. If you are looking for a special occasion cruise with dressing for dinner, silver service and formality, this is not the ship for you. From our experience, you will have a relaxing and entertaining cruise with good service and a wide variety of food and entertainment. We chose the mini suite to provide room for the scooter - not sure it would be worth the extra if you did not need the space as we did. The standard balcony cabins on Deck 11 seemed reasonable and not cramped. The mini suite balcony is no wider only longer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We are two gay men in our fifties and we travelled with our girlfriends we play bridge with. We had upgraded a week before departure to two balcony cabins on Deck 10 and from the start it was the best cruise we've ever done. ... Read More
We are two gay men in our fifties and we travelled with our girlfriends we play bridge with. We had upgraded a week before departure to two balcony cabins on Deck 10 and from the start it was the best cruise we've ever done. Check-in was very quick and we were meeting our cabin steward, Jun, within about an hour of arriving at the wharf. Unlike other cruises we've done, he didn't ask us if we wanted our queen bed turned into two singles! He was smiley, charming and helpful from day one to day twelve. He even let the girls know where we were if they came around and we weren't home! The cabin was kept beautifully clean and tidy and he varied his cleaning times to suit us. I tipped him when we first got on the ship, halfway through and at the end. I asked him if we could have a bucket of ice brought to the cabin at about 3pm everyday and, sure enough, there it was. Extra glasses, more towels, whatever we asked, nothing was too much trouble. The balcony cabins on deck 10 have the metal bit from the railing down and although this blocks the view somewhat, we all still loved having our own piece of deck. We left the door open at nightand all you could hear was the slashing of the waves on the side of the ship. Heaven! There is plenty of cupboard space and the bathroom is also a good size. I had continental breakfast each morning in the cabin while my partner went up to the buffet - I just couldn't face the pig trough (as my partner called it) that early in the morning! The cabin breakfast is a great start with plenty of good coffee, hot chocolate, orange and apple juice, pastries, toast and honey etc. Most days we braved the buffet for lunch and I was really pleasantly surprised at the standard of the food, particularly the salads, fresh and crunchy. They also had what was probably the best beef madras curry I've had anywhere in the world on one day and on another a delicious NZ lamb stew. The staff were constantly replenishing and restocking and it was always piping hot. An issue in the past has been the lack of seating but as La Luna was open we usually took our trays in there but never had a problem finding a vacant table. We ate in the Waterfront Restaurant most evenings and as we preferred to eat later never had a problem booking the day before for a table of 4. Most of the dishes were delicious with some real standouts. The staff were unfailingly welcoming and charming and the service was efficient and timely, even though they were, as usual, really busy. The dishes arrived at the table at the right temperature and in the right order. The steaks were cooked perfectly but on one occaision I ordered a rump steak from the daily specials menu and it was so tough as to be inedible....just bad luck, as the others were all lovely. On night 2 we had our first experience of Salt. Yes, the food is good, yes the service is great, but not really the standout experience I thought it would be. Maybe I'm odd but I thought 5 waiters swooping on our table at once bringing our tapas starter was a bit over the top - there were arms and hands everywhere! The best part of the whole experience was Charmaine the maitre'd - what a lovely lady! On night 3 we ate in La Luna. Now this really was a great experience. The food was EXCELLENT! The staff were fabulous! And they worked together like a well-oiled machine. Charmaine is in charge here too and as one of the waitresses said to me they are like a family and it showed. They were all fun, efficient, knowledgable about the food and just great to be with. We were lucky that they changed the menu half way through the cruise, not because we were tired of the food, but because we ended eating there 4 times! On the last night we had a wonderful time with them all - a great ending. We missed Isle of Pines due to bad weather but the captain kept us all informed and these things happen. Mystery Island was beautiful with great snorkelling but Wala was a little disappointing - the locals were nearly begging, hated seeing the poor turtles in those little dish-pans and the snorkelling was ordinary. But saying that we also ate some great fruit and met some lovely Ni-Vanuatu. At Luganville and Port Vila we hired a vehicle and drove around both islands which was great - finding our own out-of-the way places. Champagne Bay was fantastic - and we were the only ones there. We met locals, toured one of their schools as we has a teacher with us, and went to a cattle ranch and got a guided tour as we have cows back here. So, to sum up, great staff, great food, great ship, great value for money. We've already booked our next one in October! Well done P&O! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I had read a lot of information regarding cruises on the internet. There was quiet a lot of negative comments that I filtered out as I decided to emabrk on my first cruise with my partner. He has cruised before, and told me it was great, ... Read More
I had read a lot of information regarding cruises on the internet. There was quiet a lot of negative comments that I filtered out as I decided to emabrk on my first cruise with my partner. He has cruised before, and told me it was great, but I had reservations. Well let me tell you about it. We arrived at Sydney airport to be greeted by P & O staff, we were taken to a bus and loaded on and out of the airport with barely enough time for a toilet stop. The service and speed was great. We arrived to the wharf, and after filling out forms, which I had to beg a pen off a fellow traveller, P & O , you should offer pens at this stage, but other than this very small problem, we were on the ship within 15 minutes. No queues, nothing. It was so highly organised and ran as smooth as possible. Every little bit of information we needed was in our cabin, and with a quick introduction by Richie, our brilliant minder we were off for the most relaxing 2 weeks of our lives. Our room was twice as large as I thought it would be, we had a small balcony. Everything we needed was there.And plenty of storage, we unpacked in to full size drawers and cuboards, ans stowed the suitcases away. The food was brilliant. The Waterfront restaurant was outstanding, very surprising quick service with escellent food. I was worried about the reservation system, but whether we mae a reservation or not we were always seated for dinner. the buffet was of an extremely high standard and was a great standby for the nights we could not be bothered dressing up for. Salt grill was absolutely amazing. I could never aford to eat at a restaurant like that at home. We went there 3 times. La luna was good, the service great, but I thought the food lacked a little. Overall I would rate the food expereince a 5/5. I did have one small concern, the rpice of the wine was a little expensive. As we were eating out every night, it would have been nice to have a bottle every night, but the budget did not stretch this far. So we had a couple of dry nights. The wine list was varied and interesting, but with the Katnook at $48 per bottle, $15 in Dan Murphys, I was a little miffed. Maybe I have expensive tastes in wine, but the cheaper Rothberry line that was offered at $25 per bolltle was not to my tasting. A little more range in Pinot Noir would be nice to see next time. There was so much to do on the ship. The activities were non stop. I chose to bake ont he back deck at the Oasis, and read for most of my activities, but for the busy minded there was so much to choose from. The shows were great, I loved the Juggler, magician,the ventriliquist the late night comedy shows. The musical shows were entertaing but as these do not really appeal to me I should not probably comment. I thought that they caould be of a slightly higher standard. Everon else on board seemed to love it. The circus show with the elephant puppets was fantastic. Not to the columbian and New Zealad trapeze artists. Absolutley world class. I loved the 4 shows we saw with their juggling and trapeze work. The laser light shows were also very entertaining. Ports:  Isle Of Pines. Totally beautiful relaxing experience Mystery Island. The best snorkelling and beatiful Island Port Vila OK Suva Dirty, you need to get out of town here and do a tour Port Denaru Lovely I loved my cruise. The ports were great, and even though we missed one due to bad weather I did not mind. I hardly felt the ship move during the bad weather. Either I am an excellect sea farer from way back, or the ship has an amazing stablising system underneath it. The latter I think. I will efinately be cruising again. I am addicted. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Pacific Jewel - Exceeded Expectations We thoroughly enjoyed our 14 day cruise to Fiji. This is the first time we have cruised with P&O and when we booked we had many reservations about this company after all the bad publicity a ... Read More
Pacific Jewel - Exceeded Expectations We thoroughly enjoyed our 14 day cruise to Fiji. This is the first time we have cruised with P&O and when we booked we had many reservations about this company after all the bad publicity a few years ago plus some of the reviews were not good either. Well, I can truly say that this was a fantastic cruise. Fun, relaxed, comfortable, interesting ports, and the weather was mostly kind to us - which definitely helps. The embarkation and dis-embarking process was the best we have ever experienced (this was our sixth cruise) - very smooth and took no time at all. The tendering at the different ports was also easy and a pleasant experience - I now wonder why it all seemed so difficult on our other cruises. On one Mediterranean cruise we waited in a long queue for 2½ hours to embark and the tendering was a nightmare!! Our cabin was comfortable - king bed (well, two singles pushed together), a large shower stall (bigger than other ships we've been on), bathroom itself was same size as other ships, which is fairly small, but with enough space for toiletries etc. cabin and bathroom all spotlessly clean. We'd been given an upgrade to cabin 10303, which was an inside aft and was in a great position right next to the Oasis deck. Our favourite spot during the sea days and the early evening was on a deck chair at the Oasis. Perfect! Our cabin was wonderfully quiet cabin as the Oasis deck and bar closed around 6.30pm. I'm sure we also had the best cabin steward on board! Aatish was wonderful. Food in both The Plantation and The Waterfront was generally very good - I did get one meal in the Waterfront that was not good at all but here was no problem about getting another. Service also in the Waterfront was a bit hit and miss - we did not eat at the same table each evening so had different waiters each time. The service for those who ate at the same table and same time each night was exceptional. (You could ask to be seated at a favourite waiter's table). Staff, without exception, was friendly and helpful and always smiling. It was a very relaxed, easy going cruise. The Captain was a very social man and his good humour and friendly attitude was evident throughout the ship. He called his crew "my beloved crew" and "my kids". His talk about the Pacific Jewel lasted about 2 hours and was brilliant - not to be missed - so informative and yet very funny. We were fortunate on this ship to be able to view the galley and to view backstage. We've not been able to do this before on any cruise and I loved seeing behind the scenes. The gym is very well equipped and both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the daily stretch classes and using the gym. The ports were great - my favourite was Isle of Pines - I guess I just wasn't expecting anything so picture card perfect. It was truly beautiful with white, white sand and clear aqua blue water....and as most passengers found their way to the snorkeling spot, we chose to stay beachside so had this unbelievably beautiful beach almost to ourselves. The other ports, Mystery Island, Port Vila, Port Denauru and Suva were all very interesting and each was quite different. We enjoyed them all. Sadly, because of the weather and seas we were unable to tender at Dravuni Island. (No matter, that will be my excuse to do this cruise again!) Can't wait to do another cruise with P&O. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised ... Read More
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised to some of these islands. Embarkation: This is the first cruise to which we didn't have to fly as we live near Brisbane. The shuttle service offered by the nearby car storage was efficient. Embarkation went smoothly with lines moving quickly. The wait for your number to be called was reasonable considering we were early. Once on board, we were directed to our cabin where we left our hand luggage and went exploring, followed by lunch. The ship left on time at 2 pm. One of our suitcases took until late afternoon to appear. The Ship: Built in 1991 this ship was showing its age but the recent refurbishment helped it feel modern. Public areas were nicer than we expected. As it was originally the Regal Princess there was similarities to that line. There was some rough weather on this cruise with some seasickness experienced by other passengers. Perhaps a more modern ship would have handled the waves better. Cabin: Our ocean-view cabin was very pleasing and surprisingly large. With the bed head on the side wall the window view was quite good. The bed was comfortable with 4 pillows supplied. This was the first time our suitcases couldn't fit under the bed but there was a space on both sides of the window behind the curtain where we could stow them. We liked the open style walk-in type robe which had good hanging space. The shower was a generous size. One of the things changed during the refurbishment were new flat-screen TVs (a bit small). The small fridge was handy for keeping our supply of Coke & snacks cold. Our only disappointment was that the floor had obviously not been vacuumed and the plug was jammed fast in the basin. When we pointed this out to our cabin steward he apologised profusely and immediately rectified the problems. He seemed very efficient at his job. Food & drinks: Overall we found the service in the main dining room (Palm Court) to be fine but the standard of food was inferior ' maybe they were hoping more people would use the extra-charge restaurants (which we didn't use). There was a noticeable lack of seafood other than fish ' not even the usual prawn cocktails (as my DW is not a seafood lover she was happy with the quality). We were pleased with being able to choose side vegetables on the menu. Although you were supposed to book each night for dinner, we sat with a lovely couple from our Cruise Critic roll call and they were able to organise the same table and dining time for the whole cruise. It is relaxing having the same dinner companions and the same dining room staff got to know our preferences. After experiencing the long lines at the buffet (Caf' Del Sol) the first morning, we used the MRD for breakfast every other morning. The food seemed better and the atmosphere more relaxing for breakfast. We did use the buffet for lunch but wished there were separate food stations as on other ships ' trays are still supplied. Some times the line stretched almost out the door! There were rolls and French fries available outside on the deck. Food at the buffet is not available 24/7 as on Princess ships and the times varied between sea and port days. Disappointedly burgers, prawns and ice-cream were only available for a price (except vanilla ice-cream was available in the MRD at night). The only exception was on the last day at lunch when prawns were offered at the buffet ' maybe they hadn't sold enough! Coffee and tea was available 24/7 but there were no cookies at any time ' except by buying them from the coffee shop! Also we missed the freshly made waffles for breakfast offered on some other ships. There was no drink packages offered ' a can of soft drink was expensive at $2.75. Wine choices and price were similar to other cruise lines. Room service was $3 for delivery. We were pleased to see hand-sanitizers at MRD and the buffet. Also the public toilets had the main door open and/or paper towels supplied to open them. Staff and service on board: Generally the staff were friendly and polite. The service was as expected for a 3 star ship. Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows in the main theatre as we have done on other cruises. These are the highlight of our evening. The lighting and costumes in the production shows were spectacular and the performers on the stage worked hard to entertain. The other entertainers were good as was the Cruise director. Also in the atrium on 2 nights an acrobatic group from Columbia performed - they were just amazing. This was viewable from three decks with the only downsize was the lack of seating provided. The program of activities from which to choose was fine. Some of our highlights were the humorous culinary demonstration in the theatre & the passenger singing competition. We did miss not having the informative enrichment lectures offered my other lines. At the open games/card venue offered by the ship, we found 3 lovely passengers with whom we played cards every day. Shore Excursions & Destinations: We normally try to avoid shore excursions organised by ships as we feel that they were too expensive. On this cruise we were happy to do our own thing. Armed with maps & information collected before the cruise, we easily explored ourselves. Three of the 4 ports required using tenders and the delays with these were reasonable. As the weather was very wet at the 1st port, Isle of Pines (and we'd been there before), we stayed on the ship. At the next, Mystery Island we walked around the island and snorkelled. The 3rd stop was Port Villa, the only docking port where we did our own walking tour followed by shopping ' duty-free alcohol was the only thing cheap there (e.g. 2L bottle of Jim Beam for $20). The last port, Lifou Isle was disappointing as the lovely snorkelling beach (Jinek Bay) was difficult to access as the steps were washed away last year and still not replaced ' don't forget they're on island time!. The only means of accessing the beach was by a primitive ladder that had slippery and widely spaced rungs. My DW did not want to risk it. Disembarkation: Being one of the last groups to leave the ship, we were delayed way past the scheduled time of departure. Maybe disembarkation was delayed by customs. Anyway, we weren't in any rush as we only had to collect our car from storage and drive home. Conclusion: As we paid $72 each per day for an ocean-view cabin which is less than half the usual promoted special price for this cruise, we certainly had value for money. Anyone paying the usual price may have felt different. This is only rated a 3 star ship by P&O and as such is not to the usual standard of Princess or Holland America which are owned by the same company, Carnival Corporation. Australians are a bit of a captive segment as until recently P&O had no competition here. In the present economic climate this has changed but Carnival still requires Australians to book through the local agent thus missing out on discounts offered to Americans. Also P&O doesn't have a loyalty program like its sisters' lines. Being retired we could take advantage of the late special. Anyone with children would need to book early as there were 300 children on this cruise and it wasn't school holidays! In our opinion the ship, service and entertainment are generally satisfactory but the quality of the food could have improved for seafood lovers. We would recommend P&O at the right price and would sail again with them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Because of work commitments my husband and I had separate holidays this year. He went to Malaysia with his mother for a week and I decided to take a cruise. I have wanted to try one for several years now and it seemed like the perfect ... Read More
Because of work commitments my husband and I had separate holidays this year. He went to Malaysia with his mother for a week and I decided to take a cruise. I have wanted to try one for several years now and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. If I liked it then my husband had agreed to go on a cruise with me next year. I was looking forward to a relaxing solo holiday, but at the last minute a friend decided to join me. I was anticipating some hassles, but it was a very easy process to get the cabin configured for twin beds and have her added to the booking. Having read other reviews on Cruise Critic I was determined to get to the terminal early on embarkation day and, as a result, check in and boarding went very smoothly. The staff were all friendly and patient with my 'first time cruiser' questions and the lines were very short. When my friend arrived a little later in the day the lines were bigger and it took a little longer. Now, I haven't been on a cruise ship before, and from some of the (not very complimentary) reviews about the Dawn I was a trifle worried that the ship would be small and dated and not particularly clean. I needn't have worried. The Dawn cuts an impressive figure moored in the Brisbane river, towering above all of the buildings -quite a sight for the uninitiated. The decor on board is quite 90's-ish in tans and peaches and golds, but the ship is tidy and there's a nod toward the art deco era that I appreciated as I (along with a lot of others I imagine) have a fantasy of cruising that revolves around the golden era of the ocean liner in the 1910's and 20's I had booked a stateroom with a balcony and my travel agent had got me a room in the middle of the ship. I have been on plenty of boats before but I was a bit worried about seasickness so I figured that if worse came to worse I could sit out on my own balcony and feel green in privacy. I needn't have worried about the seasickness. We had 3m swells for the entire trip and my stomach was a little upset for the first 24 hours but once my body got used to it I was just fine - I even find myself missing the rocking now when I'm in bed at night! The balcony turned out the be the best thing ever. I spent hours out there with a shawl, a drink and one of the three books I had brought. It's amazing how mesmerising the ocean is and just how many stars there are at night! The room was fine. It was clean and tidy and in good repair, about the size and quality of an average hotel room. There was TONS of closet and drawer space and the hangers were great. I had brought some from home as well, just in case, but I could have left them in my closet and been just as happy. The bathroom was ingenious. The toilet was angled into the bathroom so you didn't feel cramped. there was lots of storage space in the cabinets around the mirror, enough for make up and toiletries for two girls with room to spare. The shower was huge (although the shower curtain did like to adhere to you - maybe a door would have been better) and the water pressure was great - another pleasant surprise. I have to add a note here about our room stewards (we had 2). The were both fantastic, really friendly and helpful. I've never had that level of service in any hotel, ever. I left glowing reviews for them with the reception and tipped (P&O has removed any tipping requirement and New Zealand does not have a tipping culture so that was quite a big deal for me). I have a thing about buffets and hygiene. My mother was a little bit neurotic (well.. kind of a lot neurotic actually) and as a result I don't eat from buffets or salad bars if I can help it, so my friend and I ate at the Palm Court Dining room for all of our meals. The food was great, not quite fine dining, but there was a good choice and you could always find something that you were suer to enjoy. The service was generally good with a few really excellent waiters and a couple of unpleasant ones. Needless to say, the good ones got a written recommendation and a compliment to the maitre'd (but not a tip, the anytime dining meant that we never had the same waiter for more than 1 or 2 meals) We never had a problem getting a seat in the dining room and it was good to meet different people at every meal. Most of the time it was easy to make conversation. If all else failed you could always revert to the general questions: So... have you cruised before? Have you had a good time so far? Will you be staying on in NZ after the cruise? etc. I thought that I would be really busy going to all the activities, but to my surprise I ended up leaving my friend to go to all of the lifestyle seminars and zumba classes and I eked out my own schedule that mainly consisted of strolling along the promenade deck and jogging track, reading on my balcony, sketching on the promenade deck, drinking the odd G&T in the Bengal Bar, dressing for dinner and catching the evening shows. The shows were a bit of a mixed bag. The comedians were alright, the circus performers were great, and the musical shows were oriented towards the kids - we didn't make it through Pirates of the Pacific. Disembarkation was a breeze. We were breakfasted and off the ship by 10.30am. It was all handled very efficiently. Wow, I've written quite a bit more than I intended. All in all it was a great holiday. Far more relaxing than I had anticipated but brilliant just the same. At the risk of sounding soppy being 'at sea' was a unique experience. Even with the resort-like facilities and the two thousand other passengers I still felt like an explorer when I stood at the rail and looked out at the endless waves. It was eminently intoxicating. My next stop is the travel agent for more cruise brochures. Maybe Asia next year? Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Pacific Dawn 1/10-5/10/11, This is my 2nd P&O Australia cruise and the other being a short food & wine on The Pearl. And to be fair I would struggle to do anything longer. We had an outside Cabin which was great on deck 10, but ... Read More
Pacific Dawn 1/10-5/10/11, This is my 2nd P&O Australia cruise and the other being a short food & wine on The Pearl. And to be fair I would struggle to do anything longer. We had an outside Cabin which was great on deck 10, but being up the front you noticed the swell. We were a group of 8 so made it fun as we could make it that way. The staff who smile on P&O stand out as most have sour expressions on there faces. We did have a couple of lovely waiters 3 nights in a row who helped make it memorable. Even tho there were kids clubs, they ran riot on the ship. P&O are very expensive in regards to drinks and food outside the buffet and main restaurant. can only compare to Princess, but they are preferable to P&O. the evening entertainment was average, as were the comedians. No dancing was available until midnight and with nothing going on hard to keep interested to stay awake... the bars were lovely, but the singers were terrible. Circ pacific was good tho. As was the shows. Even tho anytime dining, the restaurant was 5.30pm & 8.15 Dining which made it hard to get to shows. It was my partners Birthday and As I said we made it fun. The adults only area on the back was a great place to sit in the sun, The food was Nice, if you are a man, better to order two mains tho as it would not be enough to feed you. For the price we paid was alright, Good for 1st time cruisers as only can go up! But will look at other options for longer cruises, not P&O Australia Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This ship is dark,dreary and past its use by date. Service was shocking;we had problems oredering wine with our meals,wine turning up after meal was completed for 3 nights running,waiter seemed suprised when we asked for the wine to be ... Read More
This ship is dark,dreary and past its use by date. Service was shocking;we had problems oredering wine with our meals,wine turning up after meal was completed for 3 nights running,waiter seemed suprised when we asked for the wine to be served before the start of meal.On ordering a bottle of sparkling wine waiter appeared with 1 sherry glass and 1 wine glass !! Dirty glasses were placed on our table,and left for the duration of our meal,despite asking waiter to get rid of them,these were NOT our glasses.Open sitting dinner does not work;despite going to the inconvenience of booking a table we still had to wait.We were also shocked at poor dress standards of other diners,it is not polite to wear baseball hats at the table,nor wear boardies or thongs! 5 days passed before we were approached by a waiter out on the decks,same poor service in Charlies cafe.Waiters walked round in a dream and would not give eye contact. Why does the music have to be so loud out on Lido deck?Why do we have to put up with music videos going on the screen all day long?Surely the staff could see the mass exodus when dreadful Rap,Hip Hop music was put on.If we were at a resort we would NOT want a large screen flickering all day long,KEEP the screen for night time,movies under the stars....do not inflict it on passengers. P&O you lost a lot of money from wine,beer,cocktails and coffees sales due to poor waiting staff. We also did not appreciate the very loud music from the Lido,we could actually hear it in our cabin on deck 10.The balcony was virtually unusable due to outward opening door,also the stench of cigarette smoke wafting up from deck 7 and down from deck 12,we had asked for non smoking,we should have been told smoking was on the starboard side. We spent $9.000 dollars on this cruise,and feel very cheated on our experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My previous cruise was a transatlantic crossing on Queen Mary 2. Friends warned me that a P&O cruise would be different and so I booked and embarked on the cruise with that in mind. This was a last minute booking about 10 days prior ... Read More
My previous cruise was a transatlantic crossing on Queen Mary 2. Friends warned me that a P&O cruise would be different and so I booked and embarked on the cruise with that in mind. This was a last minute booking about 10 days prior to embarkation. There were great deals going that I couldn't pass up and I ended up getting a 14 day cruise to New Zealand for an excellent price (solo passenger). Pleasingly I was upgraded prior to embarkation day from category G to F (still a porthole cabin). The embarkation process at the Brisbane passenger terminal was relaxed and stress free; I didn't have to wait that long before I boarded the ship. My initial opinion was a positive one and I particularly like the three story atrium with 'grand' staircase. I found my cabin with ease and was quite pleased with the size of the room. It was clean with plenty of cupboard space (but strangely nowhere to put the suitcase - which I ended up keeping by the bed) and a relatively spacious bathroom and shower. Bear in mind that I formed this opinion as a solo traveller - I suspect that four people in the same room may not think it so roomy. The steward's name was Stackla and he did a good job throughout the cruise of keeping my room clean. A couple of days I didn't get towels for some strange reason, but overall I thought he did a good job. Stackla was friendly and polite and always made an effort to smile and say hello. I went up on deck for the sail-a-way party and was impressed with the fun atmosphere and the show that the entertainment staff were putting on; it was a fun and pleasant way to start the cruise. I went down to the 'Essentials' shop and purchased a lanyard on which to attach the P&0 swipe card that you use to get into your cabin and pay for things. For some reason P&O passengers wear their swipe cards on these lanyards - practically everyone wears them, even on formal nights. After purchasing my lanyard I went to the Palm Court dining room to book my table for the evening meal. P&O have 'anytime dining' but you must book a table for dinner as they will not guarantee a space unless you do. Breakfast and lunch is open seating and you turn up when you want. I'll now summarize my thoughts on various aspects of the cruise. Dining: The main dining room is called the Palm Court; it has open seating for breakfast and lunch and 'anytime dining' for dinner. You need to make a booking for dinner. The food in the Palm Court is not going to get any 'foodies' excited. It's very basic banquet food with an emphasis on very basic. Think RSL, and then take it down a notch or five. The buffet is called 'Cafe del Sol' and it's located up on deck 12. The food there is perfectly acceptable for a buffet and I had every breakfast and a couple of lunches here. There is outdoor seating on deck 12 looking over the stern and it's quite enjoyable having breakfast out there. For an excellent dining experience go to 'Salt Grill' which is located forward on deck 12. The food here is excellent and I ate all my evening meals here with the exception of the first night and about 3 nights in the middle of the cruise. The menu is extensive and everything I tried was cooked perfectly and was delicious. Service: The first thing I noticed about P&O was the difference between their staff and Cunard's staff when it came to customer service. On Queen Mary 2 every single staff member I passed would politely and professionally acknowledge me. On Pacific Dawn the staff would frequently walk past me without acknowledging me or I would get an unsmiling "hello". The staff in the shops were uniformly uninterested and their attitude didn't enhance the shopping experience. They gave off the impression that they didn't care whether you bought anything or not; perhaps I was inconveniencing them by being there - I don't know. Sadly the poor customer service extended into the Palm Court dining room. This isn't a happy restaurant and I found it unpleasant to eat there. On more than one occasion the waiter/waitress would have the mains sitting on the waiter's station ready to go whilst myself and the other diners at the table were still eating our starters. As soon as you finished your starter they would quickly remove it and place your main course down straightaway. I am not exaggerating about the timeframe. I really do mean STRAIGHT AWAY. There were a number of instances of poor customer service, including one where a waitress yelled at me because I continued to look for my missing sunglasses (I had left them at the lunch table) after she told me that they had not been found at the table. Other passengers I spoke with agreed that the service in the Palm Court was hit-and-miss. Now for the good experiences. The staff in the Salt Grill were exceptional; they made every meal an enjoyable experience. Amey (one of the waiters there) would have to be one of the most friendly and professional waiters I have ever come across. The difference between the Palm Court and the Salt Grill, in terms of the overall dining experience, is like night and day. Other places where the staff managed to crack a smile and exhibit the desire to help you include the Reception desk (thank you Sid for quickly, and with no fuss, fixing a mistake with my account). The lady who manned the Shore Tours desk was also friendly and professional. If you're taking a cruise in the near future then you will be fortunate to experience Rudi (Lady GaGa) and Agnes (Sexy) in the Promenade Bar. These two make the Promenade Bar (or Mix Bar as it's also known) one of the most enjoyable places to be onboard. They were amongst the friendliest and nicest staff onboard. The nicknames are ones they gave themselves and every night they went out of their way to make sure everyone in the Promenade Bar was looked after and was having a great time. Entertainment: The Promenade Bar is also home to Brian Blatz who sings and plays the piano at regular intervals in the evening. He's very friendly, open to requests and is very accomplished at what he does. Trivia is also held in the Promenade Bar and you can have a most enjoyable evening playing trivia, having a few drinks and listening to Brian. The Entertainment staff are very good and I enjoyed all activities I did which they hosted. The Pacific Dancers have regular shows in the International Show Lounge and they are a young, enthusiastic and energetic troupe. Whilst not as polished as the Cunard singers and dancers, they still put on a good show and I enjoyed all the ones I saw. For lectures, the only ones I went to were the Astrological workshops held by guest lecturer Odyle Knight. These were extremely popular, and considering they were held at the same time as Bingo, it was incredible that Odyle still managed to pack out the Promenade Bar. Odyle's lectures were informative, funny and interactive. During one lecture Odyle divided the attendees into their respective star signs and we work-shopped finding our soul-mates, amongst the other attendees; that lecture was hilarious and everyone had a great time. Fitness: The gym is located on deck 2, and although not a huge space, it has all the equipment you'd expect. It can get busy down here so try and avoid peak times or will probably not get a treadmill (only 4). I signed up for Boot Camp (every sea day at 9am) and was really impressed with Hannah the personal trainer who took most of the classes; she was motivating and had a great personality. Additionally, the exercise programs she came up with were diverse and covered both cardiovascular and strength training. Shore Tours: All the P&O shore tours were well organised and worth the money spent. Cruise Critic doesn't list the ports of Napier or Tauranga. At Napier I did the 'Hawkes Bay Wines and Cheeses' tour. This included three wineries and was an enjoyable tour; made more so by the lady bus driver from Napier who was very informative and had a great sense of humour. At Tauranga I did the 'Kiwifruit & Kaituna Jet Boat' tour. The Jet Boat ride is hugely exhilarating and everyone had a fantastic ride; happily it's quite a long jet-boat ride so you don't feel as though it's over before it's begun. The tour of the Kiwifruit farm is interesting, however the afternoon tea was pretty lame( a muffin and tea/coffee). Overall, I enjoyed this cruise and would travel on P&O again. I would, however, do as I did this time and book very late and take advantage of last minute deals. Using the money I saved I would then eat in the Salt Grill every night so as to avoid the Palm Court dining room. P&O isn't as good as Cunard, but that's to be expected as Cunard costs a lot more than P&O. Having said that, P&O staff could, in general, look and act a little more enthused. Regarding the ratings I allocated for service & dining; I have scored P&O low on these two categories as, despite the excellent food & service in the Salt Grill and the excellent service provided by various staff members I've mentioned, the disappointing and unnecessarily low standards in the Palm Court dining room really drag the whole experience down. The Palm Court doesn't need to be as bad as it is and P&O really should do something about it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We were 1st time cruisers so I can't make comparisons, but there's no need because we thought the Pacific Jewel was great. A few highlights: Service - staff were ALWAYS polite, friendly and well-informed. Not once were we ... Read More
We were 1st time cruisers so I can't make comparisons, but there's no need because we thought the Pacific Jewel was great. A few highlights: Service - staff were ALWAYS polite, friendly and well-informed. Not once were we fobbed off or rushed when we had questions. Everyone we spoke to seemed to enjoy doing their job. Everything was micro-managed so that we never waited more than 1/2 an hour to disembark or return, even on tenders. Amazing organisation. Being at sea - I loved being on the ocean, the roll of the ship and the fresh (sometimes very fresh - it was cold!) air Entertainment - what a talented crew! I went to every show and enjoyed them all. Also went to dance lessons, trivia, bingo...something for everyone. Food was very good at the Waterfront - service from our wine waiter Christian and waiter Roshan excellent. Food at the buffet was not quite the same standard but still good. A few things we found underwhelming: Cost of the Internet! Prices at the spa were ridiculous. There were a lot of sessions that were really sales pitches - for detox products and the like. Behaviour of some other passengers - cutting in queues and taking food from the buffet with their fingers (yuck). Only one laundrette for 1900 passengers! Unexpected pleasures: It was so easy to meet people. Walking the length of the ship several times a day going here and there - great exercise. Changing for dinner - I expected this to be a chore as we're pretty casual, but we found it made a nice contrast to everyday life. Overall: I'd always wanted to try a cruise and enjoyed it very much. However we did find 13 nights a bit long. For a first-time cruiser I'd recommend a shorter cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
So glad we took a chance as we had an awesome time. From the moment we walked on till 10days later as we disembarked it was 1st class treatment from all staff from Stewards, Reception Staff, Bar Staff, Waiters etc. Entertainment was top ... Read More
So glad we took a chance as we had an awesome time. From the moment we walked on till 10days later as we disembarked it was 1st class treatment from all staff from Stewards, Reception Staff, Bar Staff, Waiters etc. Entertainment was top quality, we struggled to fit everything we all wanted 2 do in. We were traveling in a group of 2 adults & 3 children, every1 wanted 2 do something different so it was a real juggle 2 satisfy every1's wishes. Buffet was gr8 4 breakfast but was a bit over it 4 lunch & dinner so it was off the Waterfront 4 those meals. Kids club was a bit ordinary 4 my 12y old (HQ) but our 2 kids under 10 seemed satisfied with what was on offer in Shark Shack. Other traveling friends had a kid in turtle cove (4yold) & he kept asking 2 go back whenever his mum took him out. Loved going 2 breakfast only 2 come back 2 the cabin 2 find our beds made, tidied room & wet towels had been replaced by fresh ones. After dinner our beds were turned down with a surprise every 2nd night or so, usually chockies or a towel shaped in2 an animal, kids loved going back 2 the cabin 2 find out what it was going 2 b. Rooms were bigger than I expected & there was heaps of storage 2 unpack our bags. We had 5 ppl in a 4birth cabin & there was plenty of storage. Having a fridge also was gr8 as we bought cans & poppers with us on board. All in all its what u make it, u can either walk around complaining or suck it up & enjoy the experience. Best part of the ship is Oasis Bar, every afternoon from 5pm is where u could find me, cocktail in hand, no kids, relaxing on a deck chair. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
If you are looking for a cruise company that cares about its customers P&O Pacific Dawn is the one company you should avoid like the plague. This is a bottom of the pile cruise where you are just a 'punter' to be ... Read More
If you are looking for a cruise company that cares about its customers P&O Pacific Dawn is the one company you should avoid like the plague. This is a bottom of the pile cruise where you are just a 'punter' to be processed through the system. In 35 years of travelling for work and vocations this is the worst service I have ever received. If you want to feel used and exploited this is the cruise for you. Everything has to be paid for as an extra except the instant coffee, which says it all. If you want to spend you day in a queue, meals, bar, pool, gym or even for coffee this is the cruise for you. We had a suite and still had to queue for food and to get into the restaurant, where the service was along the lines of 'get them in and out as fast as you can'. Service is processed and systematised to the extent that if you ask for anything not included in the process the staff just ignore you. People had to queue for an hour just to book in order to get Christmas dinner! Dress code, what dress code? On formal nights many passengers were admitted to the restaurants wearing singlets shorts and thongs. Since when has cut of jeans, exposing the cheeks of your arse, and a bikini top been formal wear. Guys wearing jeans and singlet as cocktail wear! I know we are pretty laid back in Australia but this was offensive and ruined the whole point of formal and cocktail nights. The gym and spa are on the 2nd level in the bowels of the ship and you can hear all the noise of the engines when you are trying to relax in the spa. The gym staff where great and really helpful but the gym was obviously an after thought and to small for 1600 passengers. Should have been on a higher deck with sea views. Again an example of P&O doing everything on the cheap. When we had a problem that needed sorting out initially the reception staff were just bloody rude and unhelpful, quoting P&O processes. It was only when I pointed out that the receptionist was being rude and could she indicate how to fix the problem instead of making excuses that we got a result. This cruise is obviously cheap and cheerful and the staff are obviously well used to dealing with the bottom end of the cruise market (hence you are not allowed to bring any alcohol onto the ship). Drinks very expensive and you even have to pay for a decent coffee. If you are looking for relaxation, style, quality and outstanding service avoid this cruise ship like the plague. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
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