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1,402 P&O Australia Cruise Reviews

This was our 6th cruise - we've done four with Princess and this was our second with P&O. We went on the 'Week Fantastique' cruise with some family and friends to celebrate a 50th birthday. Our cabin was a mini-suite ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise - we've done four with Princess and this was our second with P&O. We went on the 'Week Fantastique' cruise with some family and friends to celebrate a 50th birthday. Our cabin was a mini-suite on Aloha Deck (deck 11). Embarkation: We flew to Brisbane the day before the cruise and stayed overnight in the city. On the morning of the cruise we all woke up fit and well and then for some reason my husband was suddenly taken quite violently ill. Of course he had to tick the appropriate box on the health questionnaire, and after a long discussion with the P&O medical staff they decided he could board, but only if he agreed to be quarantined in our cabin until at least that evening when the doctor would come to see him. We agreed to this, and a staff member took us straight through security and customs making sure hubby came into contact with as few people as possible. Although we appreciated the way the P&O medical team dealt with the problem at embarkation, it was a little disconcerting that no-one actually visited that night as promised - we had to wait until I could visit the Medical Centre the next morning to get permission for him to be released from quarantine. This sort of 'not quite great' service was a bit of a hallmark of the whole cruise. Cabin: We stayed in a minisuite and it was really starting to show its age, particularly in the bathroom. On the second day the toilet malfunctioned and leaked - it appeared to be leaking out onto the tiles but it was actually leaking under them. Although people came to look at it immediately, and worked on it a few times during the cruise, the problem was never really fixed, only patched over. Noise - As has been mentioned many times in previous reviews of minisuites, this was a noisy room. At various times we had a herd of elephants stomp over our heads every few minutes for a while - presumably a running group - and during the day and into the evening there was almost always some level of scraping movements of deck chairs overhead. Our cabin was also across the hall from something which made a constant noise along the lines of a loud vacuum cleaner - I think it was the pumps for one of the pools. These noises were always noticeable and although overall it didn't really bother us that much, others who are more sensitive to noise could easily be driven nuts by it. One thing P&O doesn't really mention - since this is a minisuite, it has a bath which is lovely if you like a relaxing bath - and I do! But it could be a real problem if you have mobility issues since it means that to have a shower you need to be agile enough to climb into and out of the bath - quite tricky if the seas are rough. Overall, apart from the issued mentioned above, it was really nice to have the extra room and particularly desktop space that's available in a minisuite. Food: The Cafe del Sol - aka the buffet - can be really crowded, the quality of the cooking varies quite significantly - nothing really bad, just things like overdone or underdone vegetables. Breakfast is fine, good range of choices; lunch and dinner were generally ok. The layout of the buffet was annoying though - basically one single line where you couldn't really pass by the person in front without being rude and so it could take a long time to get through the line. Although this layout looks well organised, I much prefer the Princess idea of a number of separate areas for different sorts of food - it looks less organised but it works better because most people don't want to choose something from every station. The Palm Court restaurant food and choices were quite acceptable although not earth-shatteringly good, and the service is a bit unpredictable - the first night the waiters all seemed inexperienced and actually quite tired, the other few times we ate there, the service was quite good. The food was generally ok until the last night, when it all seemed a little greasy and overcooked. Salt Grill - I can't add any more than what has already been said on many different reviews - divine, worth every cent. Service and food are excellent. Drinks: As usual drinks were quite expensive. Given that it was the tropics in summertime, I was annoyed at how hard it was to get a drink of cold water outside of mealtimes. Because of our experiences with Princess the only coffee we drank was from La Patisserie, and it was fine although the service was patchy. It was almost impossible to get drinks service in the buffet. Entertainment: Shows aren't a big part of the reason that we cruise, but we did see the 'Transformation' show done by the Pacific Cirque and it was excellent! Activities Reasonable range of activities available on board, although personally I'd have preferred more of the 'enrichment' type Internet: My recommendation would be that you don't go on this ship unless you can do without internet access at all for the whole cruise. This is the 6th cruise I have been on, so I'm well aware of how slow ship's internet access can be, but this one takes it to a whole new level of unacceptable. In the internet cafe the PCs are extremely old and slow - in combination with the slow internet access, some websites were simply inaccessible. And, although in theory you can use a WiFi connection on deck 5, 6 or 7, we never managed to get a reliable connection with either of our laptops or with my Samsung Galaxy Tab. P&O seems to use the same 'passenger internet' software as Princess, so the logon pages and process were quite familiar to me, but every time I tried to connect, the logon page that came up was the crew's logon page, not the passenger's one. Unlike the other cruises I've been on, the Pacific Dawn doesn't have a specified staff member whose job it is to help with problems with internet access - you just have to go and talk to the people at the Purser's Desk. And when I did this, basically the person I spoke to treated me like an idiot - first she accused me of deliberately / maliciously trying to connect to the crew's internet instead of the passenger's, then she fiddled with my laptop for a few minutes and presented me with the screen showing the correct page. However, when I asked her what she had done to make it work, she again said it was my fault - this time I was being "impatient" and all I had to do was wait until it worked. This is just ridiculous - I was following the procedure they set out, and their software selects the appropriate connection and displays the logon page. I still have no idea what she thought I was doing wrong, or what she did to get it temporarily right. And in the end it was really only temporary since I lost the connection within minutes and - surprise, surprise - the page that automatically came up for me to logon was AGAIN the crew login page. In the overall scheme of things not a huge drama, but if you came on the cruise absolutely needing a few minutes of internet access every day, specially if you need to use your own laptop, you mightn't be able to get it. Shore Excursions: I only did two excursions - both your standard 'city highlights' tours. In both cases I'd certainly have been better off just taking up one of the private tours that's offered as you walk off the ship - for the time we spent we didn't see a lot in either place, and the level of explanation / commentary offered was okay but not great. Noumea was disappointing - the ship only arrives around 2pm and departs around 11pm, but it's on a day when most shops are shut, so there's no real options for shopping. Lifou was beautiful Port Vila - even just the short time we had to spend in Port Vila was enough to convince me that I'd love to holiday in Vanuatu someday. Disembarkation: Really well organised both onboard and as far as taxis and shuttles were concerned, no problems at all. Summary: If I hadn't cruised with Princess before, I'd have thought that this was a quite acceptable holiday, even with the annoyances mentioned above. However, the bottom line as far as I'm concerned is that P&O doesn't cruise to any destination that Princess or another line doesn't also do, often for a similar or better price and definitely with and overall better experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Checkin was easy and the line moved really quickly. The cabins are bigger and our steward was there to greet us on arrival, he did a great job throughout the cruise. We booked the same table every night as we liked our waiters and dining ... Read More
Checkin was easy and the line moved really quickly. The cabins are bigger and our steward was there to greet us on arrival, he did a great job throughout the cruise. We booked the same table every night as we liked our waiters and dining companions. The food, while delicious is not up to Princess standards, that is the only area we think lets P&O down, it's not a bad thing you just aren't tempted to eat so much. The "anytime" dining is the only complaint we have. We think they should return to 2 sitting times. Lining up to rebook our regular table for Christmas dinner was a pain that lasted about 30 minutes. I do hear the line got longer as breakfast progressed. It isn't anytime dining anyway, they still seem to have only 2 sittings. The Pacific Entertainer performances were first class. Don't miss the Pacific Cirque performances, they will blow you away with their skills. All of the entertainment staff were energetic and engaging which made the activities really enjoyable. Love your work Nick and Anthony! Particular favourites were the trivia, pictionary and tabletennis tournaments. Not to mention the Karaoke and Popstars, now they were great entertainment. The Bengal Bar is a great place to gather and meet new friends. The drink prices are acceptable, the photos a little expensive but you don't have to buy them. The shops could have had more Christmas themed stock but that's a minor issue. We didn't book any tours and were happy enough to do our own thing, snorkelling on all the islands, which by the way were really beautiful. We were told to take reef shoes for the coral and also some small toys for the local kids and are glad we did. On the last day we donated our snorkel gear and reef shoes to some very grateful locals. Noumea and Vila were our least favourite stops, in hindsight it would have been better to have pre booked some tours at these ports as we only saw the drab side of them. In Vila you are met by some very over zealous taxi and bus drivers. Get a price before you get into the vehicle and make sure they stick to it. Some people paid a driver for the day ($100-$150) and they then took them around to all the places worth seeing. From what we heard they all had a very enjoyable day. Otherwise there are a lot of tours on offer from the boat, though book early for Vila. Champagne Bay was by far our favourite port, the place is just so relaxing, the shade from the large trees is spectacular. The best snorkelling is on Lifou, walk to the other side of the island. Wala has a local man who slices up locally produced tropical fruit and presents it on a banana leaf for $5 which is great value. Mystery Island is the place to buy coconuts for the juice, very nice. The gym, being on level 2 is a letdown, it would be better to have ocean views as you workout, like on Princess ships. It is also very small. Overall, despite a couple of rough days we had a lovely holiday and will definitely travel with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My partner and I are both first time cruisers, booking the trip as a way to relax and unwind at the end of a hectic year for both of us. We had read fairly mixed reviews about the Pacific Jewel thus we boarded not really knowing what to ... Read More
My partner and I are both first time cruisers, booking the trip as a way to relax and unwind at the end of a hectic year for both of us. We had read fairly mixed reviews about the Pacific Jewel thus we boarded not really knowing what to expect, reminding ourselves to keep an open mind and to go with the flow. Embarkation was a fairly easy process. We were dropped off at Wharf 5 at 11:30 and by 12:30 we were checked in, through customs, into our room, booked into Salt and at the Plantation buffet for lunch. There was a bit of a snafu with our room at first. When we arrived, there was no key in the door. We hoped that meant our room was double booked and we'd be upgraded from an outside cabin to a balcony or mini suite. Alas, the people on the cruise before us had lost or left with the keys and new ones needed to be coded. It was a minor problem fixed up in no time by our accommodation steward, Adrian. Speaking of Adrian, he was just fabulous. A friendly and warm person for whom nothing was too much bother. We were extremely happy with the service he provided, and we will miss seeing his smiling face on the way to breakfast each morning and dinner at night. Unfortunately the same could not be said for the staff at Waterfront. We ate at Waterfront for a majority of our meals as the buffet was not really our thing. The service was very hit and miss. We were hoping to find a waiter we liked and book the same table each night, unfortunately that wasn't to be. I understand that the service staff work very hard, and very long hours, yet when we would make a simple request (Such as asking for tomato sauce to go with chips at dinner or Vegemite for toast at breakfast) it was as if we'd just asked them to cut off their own hands and these requests had to be made two or three times. I also had an incident at breakfast where one of the wait staff was bringing me my croissants. I saw him drop one on the way, and so I got a plate with just one croissant. When I asked for a replacement it took five minutes of explaining and arguing as to why I should get another. I know that sounds petty but it is a great example of how most of the staff at Waterfront just could not be bothered, or were too tired to care. At the opposite end of the spectrum, our dinner at Salt was just spectacular. We went on the second night of the cruise and spent the rest of our week talking about how good the steak we had was. The food and service there were equally amazing and definitely worth the money. We heard other people complaining about it, that they didn't like the ordering process or that the food was just average but I am pretty sure they were on drugs. Don't listen to those people, definitely go to Salt if you have the chance. We managed to see most of the nightly shows. I wasn't expecting much, a bit of school spectacular mixed in with RSL dancers but I was pleasantly surprised. The Pacific Cirque troupe was extraordinary and the shows put on each night by the Pacific Entertainers were of a high quality. The only lowlight for us was Danny McMaster. His show was very second rate. It seemed he hadn't learnt any new impressions since the mid 90's and after his third horrible racist joke within minutes we walked out in disgust. Unfortunately it seems that kind of humour appeals to most people and we were the only ones not laughing, so I'm sure he will continue to be booked. We had lots of fun on board the ship, having a few drinks and enjoying the sun and people watching. We tried as many different things as we could and made the most of our eight days at sea. A special shout out needs to go to Scooter the sports coordinator for his trivia each night. A good laugh and we managed to learn a bit about Canadian sports. The in-room entertainment was a bit interesting. They only seemed to play two movies, either Big Momma's House or Ocean's 11. It also only had BBC World News or Sky News UK which meant that we had no idea what was going on in Australia for the whole time we were away. To the ports. We didn't book any shore tours as we weren't sure what we were going to do. In Noumea we ended up booking our own ride on the tour train, which was good fun. At the end they dropped us off at Lemon Bay, a great place for a spot of lunch and to swim in calm protected waters. If you're going to Mystery Island or Isle of Pines as we did, I highly recommend taking a snorkel and aqua shoes with you. We had never snorkeled before but after picking up a cheap snorkel and goggles at K-Mart and aqua shoes at Target we thought we'd give it a go. Definitely the right decision. The water is so clear at Mystery Island and there's so much fascinating coral to look at. Isle of Pines had so many different types of fish, it was just amazing. Our only regret is that we didn't get an underwater camera to get some shots of the fish. Oh well, next time! Sadly our eight nights were soon up and it was time to leave. Disembarkation was very smooth. Our group's meeting time for disembarkation was 8am and we were off the ship and in a taxi with our bags by 10 past 8. All in all we had a fantastic time. There was plenty to do to keep us entertained, and we also had lots of time to relax. We deliberately had low expectations but they were more than exceeded. When it comes down to it, your cruise is what you make of it. Like I said in the beginning we kept an open mind and a smile on our faces and it meant that we had a wonderful week that we will remember forever.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We did the 'Week Tropique' Cruise starting in Brisbane and sailing up the Australian coast to Port Douglas and back. The positives: The fare was very cheap and we had a great cabin on Deck 6 with lots of cupboard space and the ... Read More
We did the 'Week Tropique' Cruise starting in Brisbane and sailing up the Australian coast to Port Douglas and back. The positives: The fare was very cheap and we had a great cabin on Deck 6 with lots of cupboard space and the bedding was clean and comfortable. The food was great in the dining room but you had to book to get a table. The buffet was more of a case of 'quantity over quality' but it was great for breakfast. The ship has many bars and cafes; all with their own character and relatively friendly staff. The negatives: The ship is looking quite dated. Carpets and wall adornments were faded and musty-smelling. Certain decks were looking particularly tired and worn. An inordinate number of very young adults had booked onto our cruise. Consequently the pool was always full of drunk 21 year olds; we rarely felt comfortable even just going for a swim. Nobody seemed to be 'policing' their behavior and the whole experience began to feel like 'Spring Break' at sea. The were also many children on board. That's fine but they were frequently seen in 'adult' areas and the 'adult pool' and, again, crew didn't seem to notice or care. Final gripe; some staff were very friendly and accomodating. Others were aloof and cold particularly some of the younger entertainment performers and dining room waiters. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Will try and keep this succinct, to the point and as honest as possible. I hope this is appreciated. Embarkation: Was as smooth as always, on in no time. Cabin: Was comfortable and kept spotlessly clean by our fabulous cabin steward ... Read More
Will try and keep this succinct, to the point and as honest as possible. I hope this is appreciated. Embarkation: Was as smooth as always, on in no time. Cabin: Was comfortable and kept spotlessly clean by our fabulous cabin steward who was always smiling and nothing seemed like too much trouble for her. Towel animals every second night. Public areas: Were okay, I guess they were comfortable and clean but they certainly lacked that "wow" factor that I've experienced on every other cruise I've been on including other P&O ships. There did seem like a lack of entertainment spaces on board compared to other ships with the prime location for a great entertainment space wasted as a spa facility. The "Attic" or the nightclub was also very uninspired and boring. Waterfront Food: I used to rave about P&O food but this has definitely gone downhill considerably. The quality of meats and ingredients has clearly declined as a result of cost cutting. For example I had the same scotch fillet I had six months earlier on another P&O ship, yet on the Jewel the actual quality of the cut was so far inferior and not palatable to the original one I had, which I remember to this day because of how nice it was. Buffet food: Other then breakfast it looked unappealing and for the most part tasted the exact same way. Even breakfast was next to impossible to get bacon or toast that wasn't stone cold. La Luna: Definitely not worth the $20 cover charge, plenty of food but it just wasn't that nice. The dining room provided much better food then here. Maybe if you enjoyed Asian cuisine a lot you may enjoy this experience. To be fair the duck was delicious but that was about it. Entertainment: A highlight, once again P&O provided unbeatable entertainment, great shows both production and guest entertainers bar one piano according player who just wasn't my cup of tea. One of the entertainment staff "Basil" loved himself so much he chose to sing every second song of karaoke while passengers were missing out, when karaoke ended about 10 people who signed up missed out because this guy wouldn't stop singing and he was boring to watch, at least the passengers were entertaining! Only flaw in their entertainment. Broken ship!!: Technical problems meant the ship limped from port to port, we had to miss the fjords and Napier because the ships engines were broken and we wouldn't have made it around in time. This seems a rather common occurrence on board Pacific Jewel for technical issues to arise. Drinks: Cocktails have all been hiked by around $3 each drink which considering the dodgy house spirits they use in them now as well, they are heavily overpriced. It definitely reflected on the number of people drinking them in my opinion. What's missing: Afternoon tea axed, fruit or ornamental displays axed, no holding of wine overnight anymore. Overall: We had an enjoyable cruise (of course) it just lacked a lot of the "wow" and that great experience that I have come to expect from cruising. Lets hope this was a one off and P&O get their act together again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Yesterday we arrived home from a fantastic holiday with our 22mth old darling son (hereafter refereed to as DS)on the Pacific Dawn cruising Week Fantastique. I have based this review around how the cruise fared as a 'toddler ... Read More
Yesterday we arrived home from a fantastic holiday with our 22mth old darling son (hereafter refereed to as DS)on the Pacific Dawn cruising Week Fantastique. I have based this review around how the cruise fared as a 'toddler friendly' holiday, as despite many many hours researching, there seems to be hardly any info our there recommending good family holidays for kids under 3! Dining: The first few days we dined at the buffet. We never had trouble finding a high chair, though unfortunately one person would have to sit at the table with DS while the other got some food, then swap over. This could be quite painful when sometimes it would take 15-20mins each to get through the buffet line. The main complaint I have heard about Pacific Dawn is the quality of food in the Buffet, and sadly I have to agree. The deserts are ok, but apart from that the food is nothing to rave about - similar to what you would get in a university cafeteria. There also wasnt much that DS liked to eat, so he lived off deserts and bread rolls. The one good thing is that there is always milk at the coffee station, so we visited there whenever we wanted to fill up his sippy cup with milk. Also I would alway pop into the buffet early in the morning and grab a bananna, a muffin and some yoghurt, and take it back to our room in case DS felt like an afternoon snack between meal times. However, once we discovered the Palm court Dining room we never went back to the buffet. The Food at the Palm court Dining room is amazing! At dinner there is a full kids menu including dessert. DS loved the chicken nuggets, pasta, pork schnitzel ad fish fillets, oh and the chocolate cake of course. At lunch you can order off the adults menu for kids - we usually got DS some chip, steamed veges, fruit skewers with yoghurt, or cheese, and some kind of dessert. At breakfast as soon as he was seated they always brought him a muffin or a Danish, then I usually ordered him weetbix, yohurt and fruit, or toast to follow (though nothing stopping you from ordering bacon and eggs for your little one if thats what they like!). But not only is the food great, the waiters are exceptional. They always had a high chair ready for him, always fussed over him (and remembered his name) and made DS animals and hats out of his napkin. Also a few nights DS decided to fuss while I was ordering, and they quickly rushed over and amused him while I looked through the menu. Even the supervisor made a fuss over him. They were amazing - I have never ever been so well treated at a restaurant. Our Cabin and the dreaded "Day Naps!" It is actually very easy to get your child off to sleep in the cabin, as there is a little 'nook' out of view of the beds. I happily sat there reading for 15mins while DS went to sleep, then once asleep we dragged out the portable DVD player and watched movies (with headphones) til he woke. Very relaxing, especially with a cocktail!On Board Activities: Although too young for kids club, DS was never bored. We went to the kids club everyday with him to give him a play( was wonderful), and there were also kids shows in the entertainment lounge. We also went swimming (as his is toilet trained), and he also just loved hanging out on lido deck playing with the other toddlers. Our favourite thing to do was to take all his colouring books and toys up to a booth in "the dome" at the front of the ship, and he would happily play while we watched the scenery. He also loved watching the shows at night - surprising for him as we usually have trouble getting him to sit still for more than 5mins! It was a wonderful holiday and he loved every minute of it! Ports: - just quickly as am running out of space Noumea - book a tchoo train ride in the terminal for $25 per adult, DS loved it. Lifou - Paradise! We walked with DS to the church on the hill, then spent the rest of the day swimming at the lovely beach right where the tenders pull up. Villa - Unfortunatelt cascade waterfalls didnt really suit a toddler, so we taxi'd it to the markets, and from there caught a water ferry to Iririki Island resort - for $35 we got use of the resorts beautiful pool, private beach, plus a lovely lunch. Just a side note us (the adults) loved it too - if you are considering the Pacific Dawn for a holiday with young kids then I have 2 words for you - do it! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
I feel a lot of the things being said on here about the Pacific Dawn are quite harsh. I've seen many reviews complaining that you must pay for everything other than food and your ticket. If everything were included the price would go ... Read More
I feel a lot of the things being said on here about the Pacific Dawn are quite harsh. I've seen many reviews complaining that you must pay for everything other than food and your ticket. If everything were included the price would go up and people would complain about that.. Embarkation/debarkation was smooth and easy. Our cabin was a decent size and well cleaned everyday by our super friendly cleaner, the only problem I would point out is that the balcony was a bit dirty. But just ask someone to clean it for you and it's not a problem. The balcony is definitely worth the money. There's nothing like drinking a cocktail on your balcony watching the sunset :) The food in the buffet for dinner wasn't very good, the focused more on quantity than quality, but the breakfast and lunch buffets were good. Food in the dining hall was great, I can't fault it. The staff in the dining room were very grumpy and rude though, if we requested anything they got angry (my partner requested a second entree and the waiter frowned at us..). We had the $20 Asian set dinner one night, and I have to say it was excellent value for money and good quality food. We would definitely pay for that again. Cocktails were good, but a few of the bar staff were grumpy too. The staff at the coffee shops were super friendly though, and the coffee was really good for the price. The free coffee was terrible, but I think I'm a coffee snob haha. The shows were pretty good. Most of the comedians were terrible. They made a lot of jokes by embarrassing people in the audience (getting them up on stage when they clearly didn't want to, or calling them no fun when they said no, running up and screaming in people's ears to frighten them) which I didn't find funny at all. The gym was very small and shoved at the very bottom of the boat, which wasn't good. But they go boot camp,jogging and yoga on deck for a fair price for all you fitness nuts who don't want to be in the box of a gym. They did a lot of parties on deck and in the nightclub, which were heaps of fun ! Adults only trivia and karaoke/singing competitions in the nightclub were a lot of fun too. Bingo was really fun(even though you had to buy a pen haha), the jackpot went to one lady who won $6000 ! There weren't that many scheduled activities for younger people during the day, lots of quilting and how to lose weight/dealing with arthritis seminars. But that was ok, there were plenty of things for us to do later on in the day, it was nice to relax at the back of the ship in the adults only area during the day and do the night-time activities. Overall we had a great time and would book this cruise again in a heartbeat ! Some small complaints really don't outweigh the many good things, don't let the bad reviews on here put you off. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
As is the case with many reviews, this review will not cover competing brands or make comparing or contrasting comments relative to any other cruise company. Ive only ever cruised with P&O - hence the point of my review title. Ive ... Read More
As is the case with many reviews, this review will not cover competing brands or make comparing or contrasting comments relative to any other cruise company. Ive only ever cruised with P&O - hence the point of my review title. Ive been on cruises P&O in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012 on the Sky, the Star and the Dawn respectively, as time has gone on, the experience has become progressively worse. Bearing in mind, i am making comments fully aware of the bargain basement price of $700, hence my 5 Star rating for "Value for Money". When it comes to spending $700 and getting as much as you do and going where you go, it truly is an unbeatable holiday proposition. However, therein lies the problem for me. My first cruise was relatively expensive in comparison to the one i went on last week on the Dawn. It had a high proportion of middle-aged families and pensioners - which for me (at the time) - was a total nightmare in terms of the fun police making permanent and constant patrols of the buffet and the cinema aisles. The service level was fantastic, theme nights were fun and you were made aware them in advance, BBQ's were set up on the beach at the islands visited and you could enjoy the pleasure of having roasted, grinded and strained coffee beans rolling over your tongue without a price tag that would collapse a small banana economy. Now, i have taken into consideration i may have found this new found floating utopia even more awesome because id never been on one before - but im forced to dismiss this logic as ive come to realisation all the little, minor things that really made the cruise as good as it was, have somehow gone missing of late. Wheres the BBQ on the beach? Wheres the warm welcome and happy farewell from the dining room waiters? Wheres the bar tender with character? Wheres the relaxed atmosphere? Im sure they exist somewhere, just not on the Pacific Dawn. The ship is; aged and tired, the gym is tiny, everything costs (a lot of) money, there isnt much to do on sea days, anything you ask for will amount to an issue of some sort and the sales tactics get a bit tiring after a short amount of time. For example, photographers in your face every day taking photos trying to get you to buy them, not making theme nights definitively known before you board the ship but coincidently selling theme night related stuff during the day, peddling poor quality plastic strobe cups and the list goes on. Nothing can be done outside the boundaries of the rules on P&O anymore. You cant modify a meal, ask for a change in something, ask for help with anything. You seem to receive some sort of South East Asian cold shoulder that would send a chill down the spine of a frozen fossil if you would dare ask for a side of chips. I do believe that this phenomenon of pathetic service stems directly from P&O relieving the cruises of set dinner times. Which of course, meant you sat at the same time on the same table and shared stories with the same waiter. They built repport, you made a familiar relationship and the result was a kind thanks and some legal tender to go with it. It gave the people who helped make your cruise more enjoyable an incentive to make it just that little bit better. The new way; sitting anywhere, booking whenever, wearing whatever (seriously) and speaking to the waiters like trash has resulted in them losing their service mojo. You can see it in their eyes that they would rather be dragged through a chilli farm than have to serve another Australian bogan that wont let the moths out of their wallet. Lets not forget to mention the two "tough" security guys that spoke a mother like she was a total moron because she (unbeknowst to her) attempted to walk into the "nighclub" with her child in an attempt to find her husband after 10pm. Lucky you were there lads... Who knows what would have happened... I could really go on in length about how much the quality of the cruises have declined, but that would be in direct corrolation with their subsequent decline in price, so what can you expect? I wont go on another one. Which is shame, because i have some fantastic memories of P&O when they really put in the effort on the little things. The decline of quality (and its breakneck pace) has resulted in P&O being the JetStar of cruise lines; you get the ticket and some "food" and literally everything else (even a pen for Bingo) has to be paid for. Id rather pay a decent amount up front and have a "real" stress free holiday with exceptional service. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
This 9 day cruise out of Sydney was great. Make sure you label your suitcases at home. Saves hassle at departure time. We are first time cruisers. We enjoyed our holiday. Tips for booking a cruise: check your Itinerary to see how many ... Read More
This 9 day cruise out of Sydney was great. Make sure you label your suitcases at home. Saves hassle at departure time. We are first time cruisers. We enjoyed our holiday. Tips for booking a cruise: check your Itinerary to see how many Port Days you have and how many Sea Days you have. If you depart from Brisbane, you can decrease the amount of time you have at sea (if you are heading for the South Pacific). There is plenty to do on the ship but we preferred the Port Days. NOUMEA: take note that if you arrive there on a Monday, several museums are closed e.g. Tjbaou Cultural Centre. Passengers who were booked on Shore Tours through P & O were able to go to this place but I'm not certain that they went IN it!You need to do your homework. Buy the Lonely Planet guide book. It's certainly easy to book trips yourself once you disembark from the ship at NOUMEA. It's very organised in a chaotic kind of way. We found a tour for $15.00 which gave us a 45 min bus ride around the city. After this mini tour, we were given a pass to ride around on the local bus which took us to the beaches etc. Perfect. Excellent value. Have your snorkel and facemask with you. We walked to the markets which took 5-10 mins. Handy to speak French at this point! Just aim for the Marina. Note that by 9.30am the markets were all but over! This was a Monday so don't know if that is typical. We found a place for a coffee and baguette! I read somewhere that one Monday of the month, the markets do not operate at all. Our ship did not 'park' at the end of the town (which would have been so handy) but in an Industrial Area nearby. Passengers were very efficiently transported from the ship to the Terminal where we should have pulled in. (Another ship had booked the spot!) Not a problem though. Currency: it really was very handy to carry South Pacific Francs. The onboard rate that the ship had was fine. You can exchange them back again if you don't use them. Noumea was expensive. Across the road from the Terminal is a Supermarket if you get hungry. MYSTERY ISLAND: Our favourite. Do all your shopping here and hair braiding $12.00, massages $15.00 etc! Lots of stalls to wander through. It was rather surprising what was available considering it is an uninhabited island! Locals came over to the island for the day to set up shop. This is Vanuatu not New Caledonia and the prices of everything reflect this! LIFOU: A funny little island where it was hard to get away from everyone! Snorkelling was great. Exit the ship and wander up through the carpark then turn left when you hit the road. About 5 mins along the road will be a turn to the right, not sign posted. This is where you snorkel with the hordes! Very good though. The church was in the same vicinity. Another nice stroll. ISLE OF PINES: Snorkelling here was fabulous. Don't get off the ship without your snorkelling gear on any Port Days! The lobster was nice but a mere morsel! Good way to use up your spare francs. There was a very civilised 'pub' at the end of the beach but you have got to explore a bit to find it! CHILDREN: We did not have ours with us but I noticed very few children had any swim aids and the water can be very deep in places we snorkelled. It sure would have made it more enjoyable for parents and kids if they had a float aid on! There were lots of Dads being 'strangled' in the water! MAIN TIP: Diet before you take this cruise! Bon apetite! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Having been on over 25 cruises with P&O, P&O Australia and Princess cruises, I find myself at the bottom of the barrel with Pacific Dawn. Having previously cruised on her about 2 years ago, I can't tell you how different the ... Read More
Having been on over 25 cruises with P&O, P&O Australia and Princess cruises, I find myself at the bottom of the barrel with Pacific Dawn. Having previously cruised on her about 2 years ago, I can't tell you how different the two experiences were. Embarkation was chaotic, however saying that I was on board within an hour of reaching the cruise terminal in Brisbane. I told the lady at check in that I was a seasoned P&O Cruiser, and she very kindly gave me a priority embarkation number. This allowed me to get on board much quicker than I had anticipated. The ship has dated beyond belief, the carpets were worn, the ship stank of sewerage on several occasions and my cabin was probably the second most disappointing aspect after the food. My cabin was a 4 berth for one, with a queen sized bed in the centre of the cabin. The wood was chipped, damaged and looked 20 years old. The bathroom was small, cramped and smelt of mildew. The only saving grace was my cabin steward Christian. I would however say that my cabin was mid ship and didn't have any noises and was very stable. The wardrobe space was bizzare, as it was broken down into 4 sets of everything.. to accommodate for the 4 berth. A bit pointless for one!! Now onto the food. On embarkation day, I had lunch in the Palm Court. I was very happy with lunch, and thought that this would be the way the rest of the cruise would pan out. As the cruise progressed, the food got worse and worse, till the final evening, I thought I was dining in a waiter service McDonalds. Because your table was different every night, it was very hit and miss with the waiters as well. Some nights, the waiters couldn't understand English, and thought that we only had 20 minutes to eat 3 courses. Sometimes food was placed in front of you, whilst you were still eating your starter.. NOT cruise service, not cruise food. This was the last cruise before the ship went into a refit. I understand that the cabins were not going to be changed (with the exception of the suites and mini-suites) and a great deal of work was going to be on the mechanical side of things. I am booked on Pacific Jewel in September, and dreading the bad food and service. The only positive dining experience was in SALT, the additional $40 per head restaurant and the first lunch. My option next cruise on Pacific Jewel might be to eat in SALT and the Asian place. This will add another $300 onto the cruise fare as a result. Passengers were also very.. erm.. "different" with a large percentage of first time cruisers, who were intent on drinking the ship dry. Many of the cruise passengers were "red carded" so that they couldn't buy any more drinks that night. What then happened was they got their friends to buy them drinks, and so it went on. I am hoping for a much better experience in September. If not, then new cruise lines are visiting Australia for next year, and they will get my business instead of P&O. Feel VERY let down by P&O and can compare it to a very bad holiday camp in the UK! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We had a wonderful time on our first ever cruise. Yes, we have nothing to compare it to but we had a great time. We travelled with 3 children from 15-25 and all agreed that the experience was positive. The photographers were probably ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on our first ever cruise. Yes, we have nothing to compare it to but we had a great time. We travelled with 3 children from 15-25 and all agreed that the experience was positive. The photographers were probably the only "low" point - a little pushy and some quite rude if you decline a photo - but we managed these guys by either ignoring them or pulling silly faces! We had no intention of purchasing the overpriced photos. The food was average to very good depending where you ate, but loads of it - I think we all packed on a kilo or 2. Only complaint I have with relation to restaurants on board is that you don't really get informed about what is included and where etc. You need to "discover" this for yourself. The onboard activities are fun and a great way to meet your crew and other fellow passengers. We enjoyed the triva, dance classes, juggling class, bingo, martini class etc - if you get bored on a cruise - you just aren't trying hard enough!! All crew and other staff we met were friendly and happy to help out if needed. Our cabin steward was wonderful and attentive - although a little inconsistent at times. Overall I have no complaints about Pasific Dawn, her crew, her ports of call or anything else. We would be back again next week if we could. If you have spare time be prepared to stay onboard for a back to back cruise, they offer specials at the end of each cruise which are UNREAL - ie less than half the price you probably paid for the first one. N Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
In short -- we had a great time. The longer story - This was our sixth cruise but our first with P&O and we were a little bit sceptical due to some of the reviews and feedback received so we decided to go with an open mind and not ... Read More
In short -- we had a great time. The longer story - This was our sixth cruise but our first with P&O and we were a little bit sceptical due to some of the reviews and feedback received so we decided to go with an open mind and not to expect too much. We were very pleasantly surprised. This was also to be our first cruise from our home port so there were no flights and accommodation involved. We simply had a very relaxed morning, packed our cases and drove to the Gateway Parking near the terminal. They quickly had us at the terminal by 11.00am. Unbeknown to us, this was a mother's day cruise and there were many mothers and daughters on board. It was the usual busy scenario that we have encountered at other terminals, we stood in line and and we had our cruise cards in our hands about 35-40 mins later. Off to the bar at Portside Wharf and it was time to begin celebrating our holiday with a few drinks. Back to the terminal, through customs where I claimed my obligatory refund from the TRS counter and we stepped on board and proceeded to our outside cabin on Deck 9. The first thing we noticed was the size of our cabin, compared to the other ships we had cruised on (Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Rhapsody of the Seas). Very impressed and we liked the separate bathroom and wardrobe area. There are heaps of drawers, lots of space. We quickly unpacked and it was off to explore. We had a quick walk around the Atrium, visited the library and then headed to the dining room for lunch. There was nothing wrong with the food here, though the service was a bit slow. After lunch we headed to the top deck for the Sail away party. Singing, dancing it was all happening, however, we like many others were content to watch from the walking track and also watch the river as we passed. Before we knew it, we were cruising past Moreton Island (with cocktails in hand) and we saw a beautiful sunset over the Glasshouse Mountains. By this time, we were getting a bit hungry so headed to our cabin to dress for dinner. For the rest of our cruise, although the food was very nice, the service was still slow. Even our waiters (who were great) a few times offered us more bread, as they laughed our meals might come tomorrow. We decided to eat breakfast and lunch in the buffet, the food was always well presented and we had no complaints about the quality of the food whatsoever. We did find it odd that the dessert area was between the salad and hot dishes areas but no big deal. One of the first things we noticed was that all the prices seemed reasonable. Of course we could only compare to our previous cruises but everything was of course in Aussie currency and there is no tipping. Because of this, we didn't have to consider the conversion plus gratuities and so for the first time, we freely spent. (Perhaps a good ploy by P&O) We felt the shows were lacking something but then again we thought the same of Princess and RCI ships. The guest artists and musicians we thought were very good. On the last night there was a jam session in the Atrium with the bands and crew, this was a highlight for us, very good! We visited the Spa and gym but somewhat disappointed they were in the bowels of the ship on Deck 2. Once again for the first time on any cruise, we used the spa services. Prices were expensive but nowhere near as expensive as the fore mentioned ships. We purchased the couple's sauna package and used the facilities every day, it was good for some quiet time. We sometimes looked at each other and laughed in the Relaxation lounge as we heard staff scurrying around and banging things... nevertheless - We liked the spa, it was a good experience, one downside no spa, no hot tub -- only on the decks in the public areas. We feel the photos were of good quality and also lashed out and bought most of them, although we dodged the photographers on a few occasions. We had visited Noumea and Vila before but not Lifou, so we were looking forward to that especially as we really enjoyed Isle of Pines on our previous trip. We normally would book a driver and explore on our own, however once again as the Shore tour prices seemed reasonable, we opened our credit card to P&O again! In Noumea, we booked a "Sail the bays" shore tour. This was a sailing trip on a small cat with only about 20 passengers, we sailed to a spot just off L'Escapade Island where we snorkelled on the reef. After snacks and coffee, we sailed to Duck Island which we had visited on our last cruise, once again there was a beautiful sunset. The guide was an Aussie from Perth living in Noumea and he was very informative. Next day In Lifou, we decided to do our own thing and we were tendered to shore reasonably quickly. We looked at the markets and grabbed some local treats then walked towards the town, we stopped for a look at the Catholic Church, visited the cave for a swim and then headed back to Jinek Bay and the Lady of Lourdes Church which we have seen on so many photos. We had a quick dip on the beach and headed back to ship. Next day in Vila, we booked a trip which included a paddle in an outrigger style canoe, island visit and a snorkel off Irriki Island all within site of the ship. It was a good tour and interesting to hear how the locals have lived simply on the island. Ok just a few little downsides for us , nothing major though and probably not worth mentioning. There is no forward facing deck on the ship for viewing, although I did hear there is a small area on one of the decks. We had some cabin noise early in the mornings from furniture being moved around in the Oasis which woke us up. Why screen Sky UK news on the big screen while we are doing our laps? If any news, how about Sky Australia? On the plus side- Our cabin was of a good size and our steward was attentive. Reasonable duty free prices on board -2 bottles for $25 and $35 depending on the type -- great value. Embarkation, tendering, and disembarkation -- everything well organised. We were disembarked at 8.15am, picked up by Gateway Parking , in our car and home by 9.00am, couldn't fault the process. I believe P&O have hit the mark understanding what Aussies want in a cruise. The Australian touch -- meat pies, sausage sizzle and hamburgers and chips readily available at the grill. At the Captain's cocktail party, he said a ship is only as good as its crew and they were great. We gladly handed in our tip form to reception. There was something for everyone on this trip, if you didn't enjoy it, I honestly would have to say cruising is not for you. We booked a future cruise deposit on board and since our return, we have already used this and booked a cruise next year to New Guinea. Well done P&O, thank you. Your crew were very good! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
If you really like to dress for dinner every night this is probably not the cruise for you it is definitely more casual than other cruises we have been on. This cruise was more on the relaxed fun and friendly theme. Embarkation was ... Read More
If you really like to dress for dinner every night this is probably not the cruise for you it is definitely more casual than other cruises we have been on. This cruise was more on the relaxed fun and friendly theme. Embarkation was good and also disembarkation at all ports good. Our cabin was probably a bit tired furniture wise but loads of wardrobe and drawers and lovely comfy bed the cabin steward was very good and every night fancy animals the monkey habging in the bathroom nearly gave me heart attack. The buffet was good and a good selection of food. The meat pies which came out at the end of lunchtime were to die for. The evening meals in The waterfront were restaurant were great and a varied choice our waiter Ross was fantastic as we always wanted to go see the show he made sure we did and always had a smile. The shows were excellent would have loved to see some of them again, The cruise director Willie was brilliant and all his gang. Take cardigans or jackets cos aircon a bit cold in some places especially the connexions bar but if you dance you will be ok. I do think some people dont know the meaning of smart casual and were quite scruffy. Had a great cruise highly recommended but definitely relaxed style. Ports of call good except Luganville nothing much there but probably unfair as the weather wasnt quite as good and we didnt go swimming or snorkelling but people that did were back on the boat before we got off. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Well we got back last week from our latest cruise, loved it , of course. We were very lucky in that with this cruise we visited 4 islands we had not been to before. We both loved the Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Pentacost and Santo. ... Read More
Well we got back last week from our latest cruise, loved it , of course. We were very lucky in that with this cruise we visited 4 islands we had not been to before. We both loved the Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Pentacost and Santo. The locals were, as usual, very happy to see us and put on some great cultural dances, songs etc. the weather was perfect, like a mill pond from the time we left Sydney, the only tiny bit of swell was on the second to last day on the way back to reality. The Jewel is a big ship, at 73,000 tonnes, so it does take a bit to toss it around. Embarkation was very smooth, about 20 mins from entering the area. Cabins were quite nice, very clean and our cabin steward was great. Free dining was not a hit with us but after the second night, Rossen, the maitre'd booked our table 117 for the whole cruise and from there we had no problems. The meals were very good and of 4 star quality. The table waiters were also great and made dining a bit of fun. We were a little disappointed with the dress code of some people and also the noise, some of this was caused by the staff singing birthday greetings and what ever. This got quite rowdy at times so conversation was not possible. On the food front we only had one complaint, I ordered the 200 gm beef burger for lunch one day, it consisted of a dry toasted roll, one slice of tomatoe, a piece of lettuce, a slice of beet root, half a onion thickly sliced and of course the pattie. There was no sauce etc. it was very dry. If you had got it a a burger shop you would have sent it back. Deffinately not seen by chef Patrick. The circusbwasba very big disappointment and might as well not have been there. The shows were not bad apart from a segment in "Girt by sea" where the lead singers were very flat and tone deaf. All in all though a very good cruise, we met some lovely people and my wife even brought home money, very unusual:-) the drinks were on the expensive side, but the trip is cheap so they have to make money somewhere. Will do it all again next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We have just returned from our first cruise (2 adults, 2 children 11 & 16 yo) staying in a four birth cabin. CABIN: ----- PROS... The bunk style layout was better than I imagined and there was more room. It was definately a ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise (2 adults, 2 children 11 & 16 yo) staying in a four birth cabin. CABIN: ----- PROS... The bunk style layout was better than I imagined and there was more room. It was definately a cheaper option than having 2 adjoining rooms. I also felt that I could keep a bit more track of the kids comming and going. Space and storage was ample. We really didn't spend too much time in cabin all at once. The carpet looked new in our cabin (brownish zebra kind of stripes) or a least newer than some of the other cabins on our floor (quick glance in when cleaning was in progress). The cabin was serviced regularly and ample towels supplied. Ample small bar soaps and wall dispensed shampoo supplied in shower. CONS... The kids chose their beds first, leaving DH to navigate one of the top bunks each night. Noone told us that the ladders were under the bottom beds, we found that out on the second day! Conditioner would have been nice. No tissues were supplied even though there was a wall dispenser. The TV could only be viewed from 3 beds, the other one was completely blocked (guess who lucked out). TV programs were limited and looped. The TV had crackly sound and was of poor quality. SERVICE: ------- PROS... Reception staff, steward were always very helpful and pleasent. Doctor and the two nurses were fantastic. Waitstaff impecable and frendly. Security kept keen eye on the older teens (16/17 year olds) after HQ+ closed. Kids security were very good as well. The ladies running the kids clubs (HQ and HQ+) were enthuastic and friendly. CONS... The head nurse was rude and unhelpful (multiple occassions). DH described her as a propper b Such a shock when everyone else is overtly nice. FOOD: ---- PROS... We ate several times at the Waterfront Restaurant. Food was great. The buffet had a a lot of dishes, some changed daily. The Grill was a nice change, the kids liked the fries and soon worked out when they were free. The Salt Grill, what can I say. It was a wonderful experience to share with the kids and the food was impecable. Perfect and well worth the $40 per person. CONS... There could be a bit of a line up for the buffet and it became a bit repetative by the end of the cruise, so we found ourselves booking the Waterfront more often for breakfast, lunch and dinner. TEENS KIDS CLUB: --------------- PROS... It was great that they slip the older kids out, otherwise I do not think the older teens would go. My 16 was really reluctant to go at first and after he went he made some great friends. The big group hung out outside HQ+ around the pool and dined together - it was really nice. At night the security let them hang out in areas where they could listen to the nightclub music but still be safe. I think that this little bit of freedom prevented them wanting to get inside. At one stage DH tracked the group down with the help of security who made a simple call to the CCTV manned station. Lots to do in these two rooms. Facilities were appropriate for these age groups. CONS... Sometimes they relocated these 2 rooms in the library or the Dome when the top deck was closed due to unsavoury weather. I was a bit concerned a couple of times when I felt it was too windy for kids to be comming and going from there. At this age, parents can delegate that the kids are responsible enough to come and go without parental concent. I think different method of access is required. MEDICAL: ------- PROS... There is medical assistance if you require it (or a willing to pay a premium). CONS... The cost. Take everything you think that you will need with you, otherwise it could be very expensive. It was obvious that there were a substantial amount of passengers who had coughs, colds, sniffles who did not present to the medical facility. I recommend if you are traveling at this time of year have the flu needle and take chemist supplies (just in case). If you go to the doctor, be prepared that you may be confined to your cabin if it is determined that you are contagious (and the TV is crap)! ENTERTAINMENT: ---======---- PROS... There was a lot of choice and taste to suit all. The kids loved the magic show and the acrobatics. Everything we saw was good. CONS... The acrobatic show was in the Atrium. There was hardly any seating and a lot of people complaining. They should have brought in some extra chairs and had a roped of area where the kids could sit on the floor (saving the chairs for adults). OVERALL: Our family had a great time. We were glad that we took our own softdrinks and snorkel gear, as both saved a lot of money. We didn't drink too much and therefore there was no bill shock. It was worth the money and could be a cheap family holiday option if you can resist the temptation to buy, gamble or drink. We would cruise again, but maybe to a different destination/ship for variety. Thanks to all members who answer everyones questions. Everyone is really helpful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My wife has always had major reservations about cruising but considering it was the year of my 40th birthday she decided to treat me and our daughter to a cruise. We then managed to convince the rest of her family to come with us and ended ... Read More
My wife has always had major reservations about cruising but considering it was the year of my 40th birthday she decided to treat me and our daughter to a cruise. We then managed to convince the rest of her family to come with us and ended up with 4 cabins all together. Lets just say that we didn't have any expectations about P&O or cruising at all. It was all new. We have been to Africa twice, New Zealand twice for skiing and various places in Australia for vacations. I have also travelled around the USA twice before. This 7 day South Pacific cruise ended up being the best family holiday we have been on. It was affordable, had a great itinerary, great facilities on board, good entertainment and incredible staff. It helped that the first 6 days were like sailing on a pond. I couldn't fault P&O and their staff though. Our cabin steward and waiters made us feel like we were the only ones on board and the kids club staff were great too! Large oceanview cabin with big window. This was the perfect size for the three of us and offered a good sized living area with comfy bunk beds and writing desk, great sized wardrobe and storage, smallish bathroom with a great sized shower. It was clean, comfortable and a great place to escape to at the end of the day. I would have preferred a bigger cabin with a queen sized bed and a pull down bed over a couch like I've seen in some other cruise ships and maybe next time I'll go for a balcony. The door on the fridge cupboard wouldn't stay shut. Otherwise it was great! Food was amazing and we found that alcohol was very affordable. Pacific Dawn is a good size ship. We didn't feel like we would get lost on her but there was so many things to do as well. Ports of call were great (not long enough) but a great introduction to South Pacific culture. We ended up organising our own tours off shore which worked out much cheaper. Brisbane needs to do more to entice cruise ship companies with its portside facilities but otherwise i couldn't fault the cruise! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This was my second cruise with P & O Australia and my first on the Pacific Dawn, having previously sailed on the Pacific Sun. This was a 3 night comedy cruise embarking from Brisbane. I was a little disappointed with one particular ... Read More
This was my second cruise with P & O Australia and my first on the Pacific Dawn, having previously sailed on the Pacific Sun. This was a 3 night comedy cruise embarking from Brisbane. I was a little disappointed with one particular aspect of this cruise and that was the service. In the three days onboard we never once met our room steward although in saying that, our room was cleaned daily and spotlessly. I can honestly say I didn't see too many smiles from the staff when being served or having our tables cleared. A friendly attitude and smiles were missing big time. I work in hospitality myself and a smile can go a long way. A couple of staff bordered on hostile. I know it was only a 3 night cruise but for my sister-in-law, this was her first cruise and I have told her that in the future if she decides to cruise again with her husband, to actually consider Princess or Royal Caribbean. We loved the Salt Grill and it was well worth the cover charge we paid. Outstanding!!! We ate in the Plantation Buffet and The Waterfront Restaurant. The buffet was your usual standard on cruise ships. The Waterfront was not too bad. Everything else was great from some of the shows we saw to bingo, trivia etc. Embarkation was excellent. Our cabin on Plaza deck was a little noisy but otherwise very good. Good sized shower in comparison to other bigger ships. I have always said and still do that P & O is a good starting out cruise-line. We loved the Pacific Sun and have great memories of our very first cruise on her. Would I sail with P & O again - probably not. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Just got back from our first cruise. In spite of the weather being average the cruise was great. From the time we got to the dock to the time we reached are cabin the whole process was completed in 1,5hrs. Our luggage arrived to our ... Read More
Just got back from our first cruise. In spite of the weather being average the cruise was great. From the time we got to the dock to the time we reached are cabin the whole process was completed in 1,5hrs. Our luggage arrived to our cabin in quick time also. Was greeted by are cabin steward,Toto, service was outstanding he really looked after us and ensured any queries we had were dealt with straight away he also follow up. Meals were great did become a bit boring by day 10 we sat around and guessed what was for lunch today. Plenty of bars and lounges to sit around and while the sea days away. Photos the ships crew take are OTT $30.00 for two photos. Aqua Sauna and Steam Zone prices again OTT. The Gym was excellent used it every other day. Duty Free Shopping on board "dear" becomes cheaper closer to the end of the trip 40-50% off. Don't buy up early. We did are duty free in Villa. Kids are well catered for even though we had none we did not see the kids that much during the day so they must have enjoyed the entertainment provided. Night life plenty to do, one of the highlight's was Pacific Cirque the show was fantastic. The Pacific Entertainers led by Sandy who loves BINGO they also did a great job. The Marquee seating is uncomfortable. P&O need to rip it out and put in more comfortable seating. Be prepared to spend up to $400-$500.00 on drinks this included bought coffee it was better than the free at least you got a chocolate with it.Drinks range from approx $7.00-$12.00each. The Art Auction did not impress myself I thought what was on offer was pretty ordinary and I did not see much chance of them increasing in value. Water front Restaurant service was outstanding I have only experienced that type of service in high end restaurants. Salt Grill, was put off by the cover charge of $22.00 this was the only priced advertised at the front door it would have been nice to see the meal prices also at the front. La Luna did not try as the girls were not into Asian Food. The service by all staff was outstanding. When you got within one meter of a crew member they greeted you, they always had a smile on their face. The crew made up for any shortfalls the ship weather threw up. The Bar Staff I got to know some of them quite well and got talking to them were they lived etc. Make a point of filling out the Proud Forms it helps the guys for Promotion and earns the another Proud Badge. Leaving the ship once we docked back home. We were off the ship and in a Taxi within the hour of docking. In summary value for money did not have to lift a finger P&O and team ensured we sat back and relaxed. Will we do it again you bet next time we are taking the whole extended family. Thanks P&O and Team, lots of memories came flooding back from are time in the islands back in the 80s. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We did a 7 day cruise on the Pacific Jewel from Brisbane stopping at Noumea, Mare, and Port Villa. Firstly I will say that this is a relatively cheap cruise compared to other cruise lines and this should be remembered when reviewing. ... Read More
We did a 7 day cruise on the Pacific Jewel from Brisbane stopping at Noumea, Mare, and Port Villa. Firstly I will say that this is a relatively cheap cruise compared to other cruise lines and this should be remembered when reviewing. Embarkation was a bit chaotic with so many people crowded into a small area for processing but once on the ship this was soon forgotten. Disembarking was very well organised with smaller groups exiting in stages. The Pacific Jewel is an older ship and did feel old with not much glitter and shine to it. Most lounge areas were in the centre of the ship with minimal natural lighting so seemed dark. Cabins were a little dated but functional. I was in a wheelchair cabin which was very spacious and suitable for my needs. Dining options were good. At the Plantation buffet food was of a buffet quality. I would recommend booking daily at the Waterfront restaurant for evenings (where the food is of a good step up and of a good quality (again remembering this is not a 5 star cruise). Waterfront breakfast and lunch was excellent. Waiting staff in all restaurant areas throughout the ship were very good. More staff for taking drink orders on deck would have been better as sometimes it was hard to find them and even harder to get to the bar yourself. I thought the entertainment and activities were mediocre. Production shows weren't very good, acrobatics were ok but in the atrium which had limited access/space. I would rather see bigger production shows. I had previous done a cruise on the Pacific Sun 4 years ago and went to shows every night as were so good. This trip only sat though 10 minutes of 3 shows as were poor quality. The stop at Noumea was at 3pm which is a complete waste of time. By the time you disembark the town is only an hour from closing up, It's dark during half of the sightseeing tours. Over all it was a good cruise but not as good as last time and I won't rush back Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Just back from the Week Fantastique 7 day cruise out of Brisbane .I have done this same cruise 4 years ago on the Pacific Sun and cant believe the contrast .To say P&O have gone down market would be an understatement. What was good ? ... Read More
Just back from the Week Fantastique 7 day cruise out of Brisbane .I have done this same cruise 4 years ago on the Pacific Sun and cant believe the contrast .To say P&O have gone down market would be an understatement. What was good ? Wont take long We got an upgrade from inside to outside The cabin steward ,Christian was excelent A beer was $5.50 which compared to other cruise lines is not too bad What was bad ? Lets set the Scene .Take as many people as possible by cramming them 4 to a cabin ,reduce your costs by minimising the crew size and charge for just about everything .So 2000 people and 600 crew serving .Save further by limiting the hours the bars are open . The waiters all looked over worked and tired . Dont dare ask for anything out of the ordinary they just didnt/wouldnt do it .If you like lining up for everything this was the cruise for you .The Bar ,the Buffet ,the reception ,the kiosks ,the shops .You get the picture .I resorted to leaving the dining room to get my own beer rather than wait to be served . The staff largly avoided eye contact in case you asked for something . The Promanade deck should be renamed because so much was closed off all the time you couldnt walk it .Too many people on board equals not enough deck chairs or deck lounges .They may as well scrap the formal nights because 90% of the people didnt bother and dress codes were not enforced .It is pretty obvious that Carnaval with more ships now in Australia have taken the decision to take P&O down market by advertising low quad prices and getting the lower end of the market who would normally consider a cruise to expensive to take their first cruise . Carnaval probably knows I wont do P&O again but that I will do Princess Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Just back from a week on the Pacific Dawn, 4 of us in a quad cabin, parents and teens aged 13 and 15. We have cruised 3 times before, including the Royal Princess. I am not usually one to make the effort to write reviews as I tend to ... Read More
Just back from a week on the Pacific Dawn, 4 of us in a quad cabin, parents and teens aged 13 and 15. We have cruised 3 times before, including the Royal Princess. I am not usually one to make the effort to write reviews as I tend to feel they can be very biased and unfair to judge on one experience - good or bad. However, the negative reviews I have read on this and other sites that nearly put me off booking this trip and need addressing. The Quality of the Food, service and accommodation were of a standard well in excess of the price paid. The surroundings and entertainment were wonderful. The circus show in the Atrium was of a standard I would happily pay for ( even when watching it made me shut my eyes and wish it was over in case the girl spinning fell down ). Anybody who does not appreciate the fact that P & O can only provide so much for the low price, and the extras are user pays, is just not adding things up in their heads properly. We went out in a cheap Mexican restaurant in Brisbane the day before and it cost AUD$100 for horrible food on plastic plates. Marriott Hotel @ AUD$350, I honestly think that some people are living in the past, prices of ingredients have gone up yet the prices of this cruise have gone down. All the cost cutting measures the reviews moan about are just common sense to keep the price affordable. It was a fantastic week and I can honestly say anyone considering this holiday option should not be put off by the reviews that pick on silly niggles. They are always easy to find if you look for them. So why look??. Teen club was really great, girls were entertained and monitored by the youth staff, to a high level that meant they had more freedom than they could ever have at home. They felt grown up and trusted and have both learnt a lot from dining in either family table, or groups of friends in the dining room. The waiters treated a table of 13 year olds with the same service as the adults and the kids all responded well to that. No-one bothered to even lunch in the Buffet after seeing the Waterfront option. I can honestly say if we had not made the effort to spend some of the time with them, we would have only seen them to sleep. Entertainment was fun and well done, Entertainment Director Zoltina-J was very polished, professional and amusing, James Bustar was extremely funny, show team well worth watching - its not West End but then its free and optional. Later shows are always less busy, but all well worth attending. Embarkation and disembarkation were easy and well practised, all as described and no hassles. I think P & O Pacific Dawn offers a holiday that exceeded all our expectations and I can only say - give it a go - all the extra spending is optional, most of the things on offer are good or equal value to shops at home. Photos are good quality and if you want a portrait its 5% of the cost of the professional one we had done earlier this year. Add up a hotel rate each day, entertainment and 3 four course meals a day for each person - it soon adds up! Value for money, this is a family holiday the kids will remember for a long time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Our initial impressions weren't great. There was a lot of queuing up to get through before we boarded. Then we got a terse note in our cabin to say our luggage had been 'confiscated' and we had to go and queue again, like ... Read More
Our initial impressions weren't great. There was a lot of queuing up to get through before we boarded. Then we got a terse note in our cabin to say our luggage had been 'confiscated' and we had to go and queue again, like naughty schoolkids. By this time, we'd really had it with queuing! It turned out we had a pair of scissors (which we'd taken on many cruises before) that were an inch or two too long for P&O. Why they couldn't have delivered the bag to our cabin and then asked us for the scissors (which I wouldn't have minded), I don't know. Presumably it would have cost them an extra few cents in crew payments and, as we found out, saving money and skinning their passengers seems to be a major focus for P&O. It's possible that the cruise line depends on having a lot of first-time cruisers - who don't know any better - on these trips. So, from having sailed on a few ships, here are a few observations... 1 Many ships have, say, seven restaurants and you may have to pay for one of them. Pacific Dawn has 7 restaurants and you have to pay for FIVE of them. The restaurants you don't have to pay for are the buffet, which was dire, and the Waterfront, which was better but no more than 'OK'. Oh, and the 'you pay' restaurants and cafes weren't exactly cheap. You even had to pay for a burger and chips by the pool and it was at least as expensive as eating ashore. 2 If you've cruised before, do you remember how nice it was to go to afternoon tea and have a cuppa and a cookie or cake while a string quartet (as on Princess ships) plays? Well, forget that on PD. The free restaurants seemed to be closed outside main meal times although, of course, you could still get a cuppa and cookie if you were prepared to pay for it! 3 Remember how you got other goodies like ice cream free of charge on other ships? Well, not on PD. One scoop in a cone cost $A5. Besides the charges for what's usually free, there were silly signs of cost cutting. For example, there were no tissues or bottles of body lotion in the room. These are minor irritations but they add up. And so it goes. There were good things about the cruise - the crew all did their best and the disembarkation was very efficient (no doubt because it's in P&O's interests to get people off the ship quickly) - but the overall experience left a sour taste in our mouths. We won't travel P&O again and, if you're a first time cruiser, it would pay to look around and see if you can pick up a cruise from, say Royal Caribean or Princess. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Embarkation- We had received text messages and phone calls (great communication) from P & O the day before we sailed to tell us our sail time had been delayed from 4pm to 7pm because the cruise before us was delayed coming into Sydney ... Read More
Embarkation- We had received text messages and phone calls (great communication) from P & O the day before we sailed to tell us our sail time had been delayed from 4pm to 7pm because the cruise before us was delayed coming into Sydney due to rough seas. 16 of the 28 of us had hired a mini bus to take us into wharf 5 and we decided to only delay this by an hour and spend some time down at Darling Harbour/Cockle Bay wharf. We arrived at the wharf and were able to drop our baggage off straight away, we were also told they had complimentary shuttle buses running between the wharf and Cockle Bay, where they had set up a function room with chairs and tea and coffee facilities. They also gave us our departing card and questionnaire to complete to speed things up when it came time to board. They had staff everywhere, who were very very helpful. We decided to have lunch and a few drinks and enjoy the start of our holiday, it was a beautiful day in Sydney so we were lucky. Most of us had our cabins on decks 11 and 10, so we were able to board early. Our boarding time was given to us as 4, but we decided to go back at around 2:30 and we were glad we did as when we got back, we were able to be checked in straightaway and I was in my cabin by about 3:15pm. A very smooth process. Accommodation- I was in a twin share cabin on Deck 11- 11203 to be exact and we had a window. Our cabin steward was Lina and she was lovely. We got a couple of towel animals and chocolates on our pillow the other nights. Our room was very spacious with 2 single beds, a small bedside table and set of drawers each, a desk, couple of chairs and a TV. The wardrobe space too was very generous with plenty of drawers, hanging space and coat hangers. There is also a safe in the wardrobe. The bathrooms were not very spacious, although the showers are quite large. They supply bars of soap and conditioning shampoo (we took our own, so not sure of how good that is). We were happy with the location of our room, up 1 deck to the Plantation Buffett (we couldn't hear any noise from that above us) and the pool deck and then down to deck 7 for the Waterfront restaurant and bars. We also had a deck off the back not far from our room and it was down just 1 level to the Oasis. Food & Beverage- On the first night, we were still getting ourselves sorted and having to do the safety muster and get up on deck for the sail away party, so we just went to the buffet for dinner, well that was the first and only time we did that. The food was pretty good, but it was very hard to get a table and once we discovered the Waterfront we did not look back! The food and service in this restaurant was fabulous! We alternated between the waterfront and buffet for breakfast and lunch, with the food being lovely in both with plenty of selection. We also ate 1 night at the Salt Grill. This was amazing and so worth the $40 cover charge. The staff in here were so fabulous and the food was beautiful- possibly the best meal I've ever had. We had 20 of us dining, so they gave us an early sitting of 5:30. You are able to choose an entree, main and dessert each and because we were a large group, they bought out all the sides for us, but I'm not sure if they would do that for just 2 or 4 or a small group they also bring out 2 types of lovely bread to begin the meal. Can highly recommend the scallops with blue cheese polenta, the 300g steak (rump I think it was), the passionfruit cheesecake and all of the sides! I'm not a wine drinker, so the extensive cocktail list on the cruise is perfect for me! Most of the cocktails are priced at $8.50, $9.50 and $11.50 and on the pool deck they come in massive plastic cups. In the connexions and Kasbah bars they are in smaller glasses and although I didn't drink there, in the mix bar on level 7 of the atrium cocktail are priced from $14-$17 but that may be due to the use of premium spirits. The waiters who come and take your drink orders are all so lovely. Entertainment- Our cruise director was Sandy, and he appeared to have 3 assistants- Peewee (American), Nick (British) and Vicky (Canadian). They did a fantastic job running all the activities. We participated in a few trivia sessions and as the weather was so nice, we tended to congregate on the Port (left) side of deck 12 on the tables and chairs because in the afternoon we would have the lovely warm sun on our backs but be protected from the wind. From here we could watch the goings on around the pool like the macho man competition and survivor. They showed movies on the big screen up on deck at least once a day and they also showed some concerts in the afternoons. We had a few winners within our group too in the golf putting and chipping competitions. Most nights we ate dinner at around 8:15 in the restaurant and then made our way down to Connexions bar to watch the band Southern Comfort play or watch Karaoke. They also had Ged the Piano Man in the Kasbah and The two Scots (who were new to the ship I heard) playing in different venues, they were great! We had 3 theme nights on board- pirates, island night and country & western they also had a dancing through the decades party up on deck one night, which was a lot of fun. We had 2 cocktail nights which we dressed up for, a lot of people did and a lot of people didn't, it's really up to you. Because of the time we had dinner most nights, we didn't really see any of the shows, we caught the first half of the circus one, which was really good and very professionally done. My brother in law was also a contestant in Pacific Popstars on the last night, which was a lot of fun. Public Areas of ship- The one downfall of this ship is that there isn't a lot of public areas to go inside. One of the days it was freezing cold on deck and we stuck it out as long as we could but then when we came inside the 2 bars and atrium were full, the attic had a private function, so we ended up in the grill, which was fine but maybe not as comfortable. Another bar would be great. For the most part the ship is in pretty good condition, there are some instances of rust, especially around some windows, but they aren't overly noticeable. Ports- The ports we visited were Noumea, Isle of Pines and Mare. We decided to just book the 1 tour on Noumea, which was the cheese and wine tour and just look around ourselves in the morning. It was a pretty hot day the day we visited Noumea, which we would have preferred for the next day in Isle of Pines because that was overcast and quite cool. We found the city markets in Noumea (about 10mins walk from the dock) which was next to a lovely harbour. The cheese and wine tour was actually really good, we had a fabulous guide, Michele. We went first to a restaurant where we each tried 3 different French wines- a white, red and dessert which were matched up with 3 different French cheeses, an Emmental, brie and blue. You could have as much bread and butter with it that you liked as well. After that, it included a bus tour of the city, with commentary and we got out in 2 places, the lookout with the canon and the hill with the statue of Mary. As I said earlier, the weather for the Isle of Pines was not great, but I still braved the quite cold water around the sacred rock and went for a snorkel, which was pretty good. We were lucky that we had a lovely day for our visit to Mare- what a beautiful place! The water is an amazing crystal clear blue/green. I do recommend getting the $15 return shuttle bus provided by P & O to the beach because unless you just plan on hanging around where the tenders dock (which you can, there are places to swim there) it is a very long walk! Shopping- All the shopping on the ship is surrounding the Atrium on levels 7, 6 and 5. I didn't buy a lot just some P & O souvenir type things, but others in the group bought watches and perfume. Wait until the last couple of days though because they will be reduced. We found jewellery on the ship to be either beautiful, amazing quality and very expensive or not very good quality (sterling silver especially, it felt like plastic) and still quite expensive. They have a Rip Curl shop onboard and even a lot of items in that were reduced in the last couple of days. Disembarkation- Early on in the cruise you are given a form to fill in with what time you require to be off the ship then with a couple of nights to go you receive colour coded luggage tags as well as information as to what time and where you have to assemble on the final morning for disembarkation. As we were getting picked up at 9:30am, we put our off the ship time as 9am and were given 8:30, 8:40 and 8:50 times to assemble in the public areas. We had to have our bags out the night before before 8pm (which seemed quite early) and as we had a 5:45pm dinner reservation, we had to do it especially early. We then had to be out of our rooms by 8am the following morning. It was mostly a smooth process, although they were running around 20 mins late and our drop off location had changed during the cruise from Wharf 5 to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, which was a little more difficult for our bus. Overall-We had a fabulous time and would book again on the 'White Lady' as the captain called her and book again through P & O. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We have only started cruising this year, this is our third cruise and all on the same ship as it is based out of Brisbane which is closest to us. We have done two 7 day cruises Feb and Aug 12 and one 12 day cruise in Oct. Where can I ... Read More
We have only started cruising this year, this is our third cruise and all on the same ship as it is based out of Brisbane which is closest to us. We have done two 7 day cruises Feb and Aug 12 and one 12 day cruise in Oct. Where can I start, check in can be a bit chaotic for newcomers, however that is ok once you are in line it goes along smoothly. Unlike air travel I recommend to arrive four hours prior to departure, that allows you to stow your bags, enjoy lunch and explore the ship before the mandatory emergency drill exercise. We were travelling as a family of 7, two adults and a 12, 10, 6, 4 and 2 year old. Once onboard get all your admin out of the way, that is register the children with the relevant kids club. On our 2nd cruise the boys could not wait to get in so excited where they (same for cruise no 3). The staff there are very friendly and very good. The food was excellent. I love the silver service in the Waterfront Restaurant, the menu is great and such a variety of choices. At lunch my wife likes to go to the buffett on deck 12 so I go along, but if I had the choice I would be in the dining room again. The last cruise we did we had a wedding anniversary and a birthday, cakes and champagne each night, what a treat. The cabins were great, room enough to move and as we do not spend much time in there anyhow it was more than suitable. The pool on deck 12 were unfortunately not heated, this did not stop our children, poor dad though who had to follow the younger ones into the pool. Once in the tropics however the water quickly heats up. The shows are great, however some could be more spontaneous. Celebrity heads had the same charachters, they should realy change them every cruise. The stops were excellent and I liked the concept of exchanging francs on board for New Caledonia and Fiji dollars. Vatus for Vanuatu we purchased on land. With regards to Vila it can be a bit daunting arriving there with all the drivers and co. yelling to get your business. Just find one you are comfortable with and agree to a price you feel is fair. They do have a large sign too that indicates the fare to the city centre. Overall all our cruises have been excellent. Next month we will go on the Pacific Pearl and we are looking forward to it. Ports on 12 nights were Lifou, Mistery Island, Port Denarau, Suva and Villa. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
just got off the pacific jewel yesterday did the j232 bounty adventure would like to have my little say Had an awesome cruise just loved Norfolk island an dravuni Fiji must say its only my opinion but a little disappointed in the events an ... Read More
just got off the pacific jewel yesterday did the j232 bounty adventure would like to have my little say Had an awesome cruise just loved Norfolk island an dravuni Fiji must say its only my opinion but a little disappointed in the events an entertainment as when we were on the pacific pearl an pacific sun both had much more an more age appropriate entertainment up for offer, as i said its my opinion i just found the music and activities more for over 65s the attic was too small for dancing there was no dome, the oasis is free hence never a sun lounge unoccupied, the gate way through there is to the upper an lower decks which children constantly RAN in an out of, we will book again but not on the pacific jewel, i found the entertainment crew very boring an mundane the senior cruise director Gemma was totally not into engaging with passengers yet ive experienced cruises with second in charge cruise events member Alan on other cruise and he and zultana g were amazing and worked well together engaging at all times with ALL passengers he and Gemma do not appear to communicate or work well together this displays to passengers, there was suppose to be a GBLT meet it was at 10 am in the attic no music no crew member anyone who came in walked out (disrespect on P & O side), after a written complaint the GBLT was rescheduled to meet in the casbar at 6pm (dinner time)ON A FORMAL NIGHT ???? although we entertained ourselves an had an awesome time and wonderful cruise overall enjoyed meeting the wonderful people of all the beautiful islands that we visited especially Tonga, Norfolk islands & Dravuni Fiji :):) some examples was knitting club, seniors meet, there was no trivia in the evening, the music on deck 14 was always screeching you could not sit an chat, there was no room that did not have pre recorded music so no where to sit an play a game of cards read a book (except for a dark library) or just chat with friends, the kids turtle shack was on deck 14 at the other end of the boat from the only lift to deck 14 was on the opposite end most afternoon activities in the kids club involved parents participation, in the evening there was not a selection of activities it was the show then the karoke not a choice of activities i think P & O should reconsider Gemma's role someone with engaging an warming personality then again in waterfront grizald, rupert and amit where amazing crew members made us all feel like family interacted wonderfully these people should be long standing crew members for years to come, salt grill really dont cater well enough for non seafood eaters la luna was amazing we went on a thai night yummmmmm would dine there again like ive said we will cruise again but not on the pacific jewel Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
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