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308 P&O Australia Cruise Reviews

Hello all, To be a cruise critic, I would think that one would have needed to be on more than four cruises, but my cruise on the Pacific Dawn was one with some differences, that I wish I new about before I booked. So for you with a similar ... Read More
Hello all, To be a cruise critic, I would think that one would have needed to be on more than four cruises, but my cruise on the Pacific Dawn was one with some differences, that I wish I new about before I booked. So for you with a similar mindset this is for you. Dinning.. The freestyle concept with P&O (aust) is new, having been on the NCL (wind) which had several different venues to eat, on the Dawn it was very much smokes and whistles, to explain, the palm court offered passengers really the only individual dinning room available, which was unique in its venue, that you could go sit and be waited on with an ever changing menu. The cafe De Sol was on an upper deck and served the same food as the Palm Court (during dinner) but as a buffet style arrangement, having to serve yourself was OK but then to find a seat was another matter. Other dinning options was the Italian Pizza Restaurant, with a very limited menu, average pasta, just two choices and fair pizza. In the evening a section of the Cafe De sol is transformed into the Steakhouse, here there is a $20.00 surcharge for a nice piece of steak, really not much more as the service by the waiting staff is great throughout the ship. So to sum up, and a passenger who looks forward to the whole dinning experience on board, it is with regret that I have to say that I've certainly had a more favorable dinning experienced on other ships. Entertainment.. Another enjoyable aspect to cruising that both my partner and I enjoy is the nightly entertainment in the international show lounge, this also was fair, the band backing the artist was to my taste average, and the performance from the artist including the Pacific Dawn Troupe was tired most of the time. Surprisingly as this rebranded ship has only been sailing since Nov 07. The other entertainment on offer were ceramics, ballroom dancing, flower making classes and the casino. There was no dedicated cinema it was a screen in the show lounge, great sound but average picture. Staff.. All the staff onboard were terrific, our cabin steward was very accommodating. And the Staff in the Palm Court equally so. Though one word of warning to couples who have enjoyed the Freestyle concept of dinning previously, If you feel that you have made a dinner booking to sit at a table for two to enjoy a romantic night together, or a table for four to enjoy a meal with some newfound friends, think again, on not one occasion were our request met. If P&O are advertising this ship with this style of dinning available it needs to be fined tuned to say the least. For the smokers on board, you are not allowed to smoke in your cabin, as a smoker this is for me not a problem, but many passengers who would have preferred to have indulged in there cabin would have been lumped with a $300.00 cleaning charge, after a warning, at the end of their vacation. And as far as other areas for smokers you are allowed only to smoke on the Port side of deck 7 (Promenade) and the port side of the Casino/Sports bar which all have very limited seating available. For the non smokers this was a welcome change, but imagine the smokers. After all I have said it was a nice relaxing holiday, but would I cruise with P&O australia again, well let me put it this way, it would be great for first time people interested in cruising. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
I was looking forward to this cruise as i was about to celebrate a BIG one and as the Dawn was previously the Regal Princess expected it to fulfill my "dreams" - it did except for the food. We flew to sydney from Melbourne on day ... Read More
I was looking forward to this cruise as i was about to celebrate a BIG one and as the Dawn was previously the Regal Princess expected it to fulfill my "dreams" - it did except for the food. We flew to sydney from Melbourne on day of embarkation and friends picked us up at the airport, drove us to the cruise wharf where we were going to leave our luggage and book in later in the day as the ship was still disembarking passengers. The staff said we could book in then (approx. l0.30am and ship did not set sail until 4 pm) and return whenever, go on board and have lunch - we were very surprised at this, but we were able to check in within a few minutes and had no further worries. When we returned later in the day we just walked on!!!! Our cabin was a little larger than expected, very clean and welcoming - had large queen size bed, pristine linen. The ensuite area was certainly larger than expected particularly the shower area(big enough for two people), large hanging space for clothing, many many drawers, safe and even room to store luggage. we used the area outside the ensuite as a dressing room because of the amount of space we had. After unpacking we went off to explore the ship and was certainly impressed with all lounges, bars and public areas. There are plenty of comfortable lounge chairs, etc. around to use , but did find the "Dome" area (nightclub at night) lounge area during day, was a little short of seating around the viewing area from the front of the ship. Great music was played here each evening until approx. llpm when the disco started. There are a couple of other spots on the ship where you can listen to relaxing music during the day and early evening and enjoy a glass of wine or coffee - whichever is your preference!!!!! The theatre was well set up for floor shows, which we enjoyed, but found some of the entertainers on board only ok. This area was also used for showing films. Our biggest disappointment was the food - actually couldn't believe it was of such a poor standard. On embarkation night we were served (my choice) grilled chicken, vegetable, etc. it was so BADLY presented, so dry, tasteless that i was just stunned - couldn't eat it so thought would try a desert, but unfortunately this was just as bad. Hopefully better luck the next day, but no it was just the same. I personally love pasta, but even this was hard, tasteless and took one mouthful and pushed it away. (at a cooking demonstration we were told that we would be having smoked salmon pasta that evening -very special!!!)am still looking for the salmon. Honestly all that was in the pasta was a small piece (no bigger than a teaspoon) sitting on top . Could go on telling you about the food but at least the soup was ok and the fresh bread rolls/butter were great (i lived on these most of the cruise ) The above all took place in the dining room, which i must admit is a very nice room and the stewards were great. Tried the buffet a few times, but all i will say about this is - think mess hall food. Didn't try the steakhouse as i thought if the food is so bad generally why pay for a bad meal there. Hamburger bar: had a hot dog here, (which i do generally enjoy, actually i love them) was terrible, tasteless. Pizza bar; Didn't try this one as people we met said it was only ok. Afternoon tea was a joke - it was only on for a half hour. you are served a scone (i thought it was either small bread roll/damper, shortbread biscuit and a cake. then comes along a small dob of jam, smaller dob of cream and eventually either tea or coffee. (think the stewards serving this had had a bad day as it certainly was not smiley time) Needless to say my friends and myself never bothered venturing there again, nor did a lot of other people we spoke to. As we had been to the ports before on other cruises we Didn't bother with the shore excursions, just got off the ship to have a walk on land and to have a chat with the locals and buy some duty free alcohol in villa which is cheaper than on the ship. There was plenty of activities to keep you busy if this is what you wanted to do, but i was quite happy reading a book, enjoying the sunshine, relaxing on a deck chair and watching the water go by. Disembarkation is done very well with the luggage out the night before and leaving the ship by color code (you get a different color depending on what time you have connecting flights, etc. to catch) We are able to go into a lounge have coffee, etc. and just relax till you leave the ship which is certainly much better than a few years ago where you sat around for hours waiting to disembark and hopefully could find a seat. Summary: this is a lovely ship, clean, plenty of lounges, and different areas to spend time in, listen to music, enjoy a drink at one of the many bars, play the pokies if you wish, watch a movie and live shows. there are plenty of outside decks to be able to walk around and enjoy the ocean air, the crew are very friendly (most of the time), courteous and our cabin was always 100% - even though we hardly saw our steward. I would love to sail on the Pacific Dawn again, but only if i knew that the standard of food would have improved, as i feel that this is a very important part of a cruise, as you look forward to meeting your old and new friends at dinner, having a lovely meal together, talking about the activities of the day and what a new cruise day holds for you all. Just hope that P.& O. are not cutting costs on their cruises by down-grading their meals. (Have previously sailed on Pacific Princess many times and their food was 110%) Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
EMBARKATION: We lined up at check in at 1415pm, Check in had already commenced. After 45 minutes we were checked in and then only had to wait another 10 minutes to board the boat. So that was no big deal with the small kids 3 and 5 ... Read More
EMBARKATION: We lined up at check in at 1415pm, Check in had already commenced. After 45 minutes we were checked in and then only had to wait another 10 minutes to board the boat. So that was no big deal with the small kids 3 and 5 handling that one quite well. CABIN. We had three cabins one of them a 4 berth with 2 kids. The staff were friendly although were few and hard to find apart from out steward, Who gracefully apologized on the tardiness and stained sheets which were promtly changed. However the boat had no spare queen size dooners for us, Just two singles nothing could be done there despite booking over 6 months ago. Word of advice you will need to request these in advance on your bookings. Towels and anything that was requested through our steward was done effortlessly. Air conditioning was absolutely terrible and too hot. Most nights we were up on deck till late to cool down. Crew did nothing to look at the situation either. DINING: Upon boarding, despite being 330pm the lunch buffet was open as well as the grill (which normally charges for meals). We used the Waterfront Al-la-carte for all evening dinners. Out waiter and Maitre'd were fantastic with reasonably fast service. Ashame on the quality of food. Lines were not too long, however you can reserve your table in advance. Theyr only take reservations for two sittings. Up to 615pm for the first sitting and no earlier than 730pm for the second sitting. We tried the Salt Grill for lunch which attracted a $20 service charge. We did not think much of it, either the food quality or service which was slow and not friendly at all. The only queues we found we at the pool bar at peak times it was very slow to get drinks. They could have had a lot more sales had their been staff. There was no waiter service visible for the pool and lounge area either. DRESS CODE: Despite being cocktail dress. Only about 80 percent dressed to the applicable (suite and cocktail dress). On other nights when it says slacks for men, about half still went dining in their shorts and thongs. Even women did their part to dress down as well. Nor did I see any enforced dress code in place either. CHILDRENS CLUB: (Turtle Club was used) The fact that the kids only wanted to spend their time there and not with us, and tantrums ensued when we couldn't take them there eg at meal times, speaks for itself. They loved it. There was a full program to keep them amused. ENTERTAINMENT: Quite good, eg the circus performances whether it be in the Marqee Lounge, Atrium Lounge or out on deck. And those Elephants look so real it promted our 6 year old to ask where does he sleep as he cannot fit in our cabin. How sweet!!! There could be more trivia options throughout the day. Rather they all seemd to be in the evening and overlapped at times. The Pacific Daily (whats happening each day) seemed rather cluttered and hard to read. Layout was not all that clear. DISEMKARKATION: This is where the reception staff were caught short and offered inconsistent advice. Despite our severe frustration with them (my only encounter with them) we got to disembark early with our own luggage within 45 minutes after docking. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
I flew from Sydney via Auckland to Papeete and had 4 days at the Manava Suites before embarking on the Pacific Dawn to cruise back to Sydney. I can recommend the Manava Suites. The hotel is new (opened in March 2009) and I was ... Read More
I flew from Sydney via Auckland to Papeete and had 4 days at the Manava Suites before embarking on the Pacific Dawn to cruise back to Sydney. I can recommend the Manava Suites. The hotel is new (opened in March 2009) and I was upgraded from a superior room to a one bedroom duplex. It was like a one bedroom apartment with a lounge room and kitchen downstairs and a bedroom and bathroom upstairs...very nice. The hotel also has a magnificent infinity pool claimed to be the largest in Tahiti. The only negative was the restaurant - expensive food and drink but then it's Tahiti and everything is expensive there. I got the hotel shuttle to the ship - it was much cheaper than a taxi but it was driven by the rudest driver I have ever come across - he wanted to drop me off at the ferries rather than the cruise ship. When I pointed this out to him he did quite a lot of swearing in, what I assumed was French, under his breath. He really was creepy and I was glad to get out of the bus. Embarking was odd. I followed another couple to the end of the wharf where there was a gangway for passengers and a lot of crewing sitting around. No one knew what to do with us and so we just stood around looking at our bags until I asked someone to carry mine on. At the top of the gangway (on the ship), they still didn't know what to do with us especially when I told someone that I was sick and needed to be tested for swine flu. Finally after a lot of fluffing around, I had a picture taken, got my cruise card and the nurse took me off to the Medical Centre to be tested - not a nice test at all! After about 20 minutes, I got the all clear - no swine flu although I didn't really care because I felt dreadful and unfortunately was sick for the entire cruise. I had originally booked an ocean view cabin on deck 10 however at the last minute was upgraded to deck 11. I really loved my cabin. I have never been aft before - always at the front, so this was a pleasant change. My bed was very comfortable and the water pressure in the shower was amazing - better than what I have at home. I was only a few steps from the back deck where the spa pools were located. I didn't think much of my cabin stewardess. She basically had nothing to do in my cabin because I'm a neat freak however I did ask her for ice every afternoon. I got it 3 times in 16 days so I can't tick the box for good service from her. With respect to dining, I had most of my meals in the dining room. Although every night, just before closing time, I snuck up to the Buffet to get my cheese and biscuits to eat whilst watching the movie in my cabin. I also had a nice meal with some Cruise Critic people in the Steakhouse however I did not think it was worth paying an additional $25 for. Of particular note was the Greek salad and poached salmon at lunch time. Every time I had the salmon, it literally melted in my mouth - I couldn't get enough of it. The lunch menu also had some very yummy desserts. There were a number of vegetarian choices and I enjoyed quite a few of them even though I'm not vegetarian myself. By the end of the cruise, I was sick of the dining room and sick of the menu. If you didn't like the daily specials, the regular stuff was there day in, day out. I didn't buy any drinks but people were complaining about the cost of alcohol on board. I didn't notice it stopping people from drinking though. I had dinner with a couple and after 12 days on board, their bill was already $1,700. I hate to think what it was when they got off! The waiters seemed to work hard but for some reason that I couldn't fathom, the service was ordinary and so slow. It took a long time to get fed and a number of my friends stopped eating in the dining room because of the length of time it took to eat. Breakfast always took at least an hour and the toast always came late. Several times towards the end of the cruise, the waiters were putting dirty tablecloths back on the tables. Not very impressive. I regularly went to Le Patisserie for great coffee and yummy cookies. This was also an interesting spot to sit and people watch or watch the ridiculous Art Auctions. Why on earth would P&O put out paintings for auction with a $56,000 reserve price? I went to a few shows, some I liked and some I didn't like. Syd Halen was quite boring at the beginning with a lot of old, stupid jokes but became very entertaining with his juggling act at the end. I enjoyed Tony Pantano and Jackie Love's performance was average up until she sang a medley of Piaf songs which was utterly brilliant. I loved The Dome at the front of the ship. This was a great place to read in the morning whilst the sun shined through. I noticed quite a number of people having snoozes in this area both in the morning and in the afternoon. Unfortunately I had to cancel a few of my excursions because I was sick and I did not get off the ship until our last port, Port Denarau - Dravuni Island was cancelled due to purported bad weather on the home stretch which never actually eventuated. Our ports of call were Moorea, Bora Bora, Pago Pago, Apia, Savu Savu, Suva and Port Denarau. The onboard lectures were good. Sam Leon, a Life Enhancement Lecturer, was motivating and Peter Anderson, the astronomer, was interesting. We had a night of viewing aft on deck 10 but the weather wasn't good to us; we followed up with another night underneath the bridge on deck 10. Again it was a little cloudy but we did manage to see some star clusters and the area was great because there was not a lot of light. The final night of viewing was a disappointment because again it was cloudy but no one from P&O bothered to turn up with the binoculars. Peter did his best with his laser and we were able to see a few things of interest. I have been to Liars Club on other ships and it was always really funny. Liars Club on the Pacific Dawn didn't disappoint....it was hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Trivia was a very interesting activity and was well attended however it really brought the worst out in people. This was primarily caused by a team who constantly won the quizzes with very high scores. My team actually won 3 times but I'm convinced it was because we were in port and the "other" team didn't show up. I was surprised towards the end of the cruise when this particular team won (again), and people near me were actually booing them. One lady told me that she'd been to the Pursers Desk to complain (don't know how true this is). I think I'll always remember the Pacific Dawn just for the trivia! There was a good range of in-cabin movies and many were shown on the big screen in the International Show Lounge. I watched quite a number, e.g. Gran Torino, Castaway, He's Just Not That Into You, Nim's Island, Australia, Revolutionary Road, Yes Man, Bolt, Marley & Me, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, New in Town, Ghost Town, South Pacific, Night at the Museum, Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Mamma Mia, Sex and the City and Ice Age. Disembarkation: I wasn't allowed to get my passport back until after arrival in Sydney - this was because I had embarked in Tahiti. So I had to report to The Dome at 0645, collect my passport and get it stamped by Customs. It was not orderly and there was a bit of sitting around waiting for Customs to get their act together. Finally, I was able to eat a quick breakfast in the Buffet before going to the Show Lounge for disembarkation. My deck was called quickly and I got off the ship at around 0800. I collected my bag immediately and walked to Wynyard station to get the train home. I'd just like to add some observations regarding being a solo passenger. The solo get-together was nearly always held in the middle of the day - I found that I was usually doing something and so never was able to make it. I would have preferred a solo get-together in the evening before dinner, when you are at a loss for dinner companions. Also I'd meet people and then never see them again. I actually met some people on the way home on the train that I'd never seen on the ship! I also didn't like the huge dining tables - I always seemed to be seated at one with 10 people. It is so difficult to talk to everyone on a table of 10, you seem to be yelling across the table to be heard. I found the tables of 6 were best and whilst I requested this, I didn't always get it. Apart from that the ship is lovely. It is easy to get around and has many nice public areas to sit in. I didn't spend much time by the pool because I was sick and of the times I did go out to the pool found the area too smoky. As I mentioned earlier on, I was sick for the whole cruise and that was certainly bad timing and bad luck for me but aside from that, I felt it was an average cruise, not worth the large amount of money I paid for it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Woke up at 3am on the day of the cruise. Packed and ready by 4am.Stopped and had a quick bite to eat at Mcdonalds at Devonport, saw the Spirit of Tasmania come in(I was getting motion sickness just by looking at it.Arrived just before 8am ... Read More
Woke up at 3am on the day of the cruise. Packed and ready by 4am.Stopped and had a quick bite to eat at Mcdonalds at Devonport, saw the Spirit of Tasmania come in(I was getting motion sickness just by looking at it.Arrived just before 8am at Launceston Airport for a 9am flight(need assistance so that's why they want you there early. Flight took us to Melbourne where we waited for 3/4 of an hour before another flight that took us to Sydney.12:40 PM the plane landed in Sydney.We then went downstairs to get out baggage off the carousel(I forgot to put the P&O TAGS on the suitcases, no matter,Went outside the terminal to catch a taxi to wharf 8.The people just ahead of us at the taxi rank had their P&O tags,that's what made me remember that I had forgot to put them on at the luggage collection.The cost of a taxi was $45 including a toll,thank heavens the taxi had air conditioning. Arrived at wharf 8 outside the terminal, we weren't the only one's who didn't have tags.P&O baggage handlers then took out suitcases, we were shown the direction to the terminal, once in there,a nice lady assisted me with getting me a wheelchair and taking me to where the disabled passengers are processed.A young man took our tickets and passports(Stephen went with him) came back a few minutes later and wheeled me into another section of the building, there we were processed by security had our passports checked,then over to the TRS desk,I could only claim for the digital video camera,not the SD card or the I-pod, although I did have proof of purchase, and bought items during the 30 days of departure,apparently,it would have been better if I had all items on one invoice(sheesh) Had our photos taken before boarding the ship,can't say that I looked stunning,I looked awful.... up and into the boat... had our photo's taken for the cruise card and then we were inside the boat..... we had our first "ding" We then proceeded to our cabin D103, very spacious and lots of cupboard space.When I look back... we didn't need half the clothes as I washed 3 times for both of us. Wash was $3 and dryer was $3 and a box of fabric softener just a $1. Had lunch in the buffet, we were famished,had a lite salad and fruit for lunch. Muster was just a little after 3pm, took about 15 Min's.Got our sail-away drinks just after the muster(mock-tails, they were yummy) got to keep the P&O plastic tumblers.Went to the back of the ship for sail-away(just above the spa).The boat began moving slowly and we were on our way. Marvellous sailaway, under the Harbour Bridge.... On the foreshore I counted 3 brides, but I heard that there were 13.... must of been a great day Sun was shining.... warm afternoon.Past the opera House and headed out to sea. Stephen and I went back to the cabin to unpack, meet out cabin steward Nelson.I don't recall what we did after that... we were too tired to explore the ship any further.Oh now I remember... just out of the heads...saw a dolphin riding the bow waves,it was getting on dusk so we just made him out. Day 1 at sea:Slept okay, took phenergan the gentle roll, rocked us to sleep.Wandered down to the Palm Court Dining room for breakfast.... we had breakfast and lunch nearly every day.We would of went there for Dinner, but we never took the opportunity,(note to self, anytime dining on your cruise card rolls eyes in head).I spent my time on deck 7, promenade deck, as I am used to having a window open at night for fresh air. Made a few purchases just minor things at first,Big swell/roll feel a lot of movement in our cabin and walking the corridors,its amazing how your cabin "groans" in the early hours of the morning.Took ginger tablets and panadeine as I had a blinding headache, due to the fact that I hadn't eaten for more than 12 hrs.Went to lunch.... still movement, I tried to focus on something else, but eating wasn't one of them.People at the table said I looked "green" still had a blinding headache,was helped back to my cabin by a fellow cruiser who most friendly.(I came across some wonderful people on this cruise)Went to the medical center around 4:30pm... first 1 there... told the nurse my symptoms and gave me a "shot" and avomine tablets, was told to go straight to my cabin as the injection would make me feel drowsy. Day 2 At Sea:Went to the shore tour desk and had booked the glass bottom boat in Vila,exchanged $100 forXPF. And a word in your ear new cruisers::: lean closer......DO NOT GIVE money to cabin stewards,we were generous and gave more than we should have. I know I know..... tips and advice on the cruise board went out the window with me, wait till the end of the cruise and tip those that gave you good service, and not during the cruise. I had removed Stephens gratuties but not my own.... I'll know better next time. Tipping didn't get better service of the cabin steward......I'd be happy for some fresh towels and ice.... even though I waited patiently till after 12:30(when were at lunch) it would have given him time to do that. At last, we sighted land... doing a happy dance!!!Doing a shore tour at 10 am when we arrive in Noumea.What a shock to the system!!!!! from coming from a cool temperate climate, and then hitting the "heat of the tropics" was just too much for Stephen and I.we welcomed being inside the ship has air-con.There in port we were greeted my natives singers and dancers....... it was touching it bought tears to my eyes.Did the city highlites tour tour guide was Helen and the Driver, Pascal.... thank heavens the bus had air-con. What I noticed in Noumea, was the traffic, not a breath of wind,didn't see anydogs and for that matter any bird life.... maybe it was just too darn hot for beasts and men.It really needs rains....and more rain....Noumea is not a place I would like to retire.Did the green train at 2pm,broke down.... or was that meant to happen, I really don't know........... I could have kicked myself as the train took the same route as the bus tour.All I know was that we wanted to get back to the ship and have a nice tepid shower.Had the Spring Chicken for lunch(really quite bland, much like hospital food). Over night at sea after leaving Noumea.... ready for Lifou 4th Dec:Had a relaxing footspa yesterday,note to self... when I get home make time for a pedicure. Day 5 stopped at Lifou had breakfast, got our tender tickets at 10 am... finally left at 11 am.Spent an hour at Lifou,pretty rocky walking up a dirt path, its really only for goats,hard for me to get down to the beach.Apparently, others did snorkling on the other side of the island and serveral people were stung blue bottles.Got a few knik-naks from the small market at Lifou then back on the boat ready to have lunch. Gave a guy $5 then 1's that work the tender boats for helping me on and off the boat....couldn't thank me enough, I smiled,it was well worth it. Day 6:Vila had breakfast and left the ship around 8:30 to have a look at the markets,no sooner had we gotten out of the gate then a throng of taxi drivers were in our face.When I said no... and shook my head, a young man he would do us a tour of the village and the falls... not sure which one Cascade on Mele Falls.Negotiated a price before we got in the taxi $80 or 8,000 vatu...where's a man when you need one.(Men are so good at fixing up our mistakes)So "hot" even with the windows down.... our self proclaimed tour guide was Joel.He took us too a village of about 3,000 people....the kids came running up to the car and gave us flowers that they had picked from the bushes, and in return, expected lollies. Funny that.....seems the tourists believe in giving the children lollies in return for some flowers.If I had known, I would have bought pencils and school note pads...its terrible seeing the children exspecting lollies,it ruins it for them and us. Got back to the ship at 10:30am, in time for our 11am shore tour.This was done with P&O.We were -along with others, ushered into a dilapitdated mini bus,(sorry, telling it like it is)For our glass bottom boat tour.Arrived at the jetty were the glass bottom boat was(looked very much like my Dad's prawn trawler) old and and smelly... not like the other glass bottom boats we saw that day. I had to climb down steep steps into the boat, another elderly couple whom I could see had knee replacements,struggled as well. Its a pity the P&O couldn't have organised a better boat for us. Willie the Captain,and Alice our tour operators were pleasant and helped everyone sort out the gear they wanted.Looking thtough the glass bottom boat,seeing all the dead coral looked a graveyard, Willie and Alice told us that there had been a cyclone a few years back, and the reef was slowly growing back.Even Stephen got into the swing of snorkling, he enjoyed it so much, that he wants to do it when he gets back....(maybe even dive for crayfish one day). The tour went for nearly 2 hours but when we got back to the jetty there was no-one there to pick us up.(Was busting to go to the loo)So Stephen and I walked about 100yards to the road to hail a taxi(I wanted to do some shopping in Vila.....but Stephen, bless his heart was concerned for my welfare)Gawd!!! they have some mad drivers in Vila, and drive on the wrong side of the road... no caution is exercised for other motorists or pedestrians.Its a case of he who hesitates is killed!!!!Got in a taxi.... back door wouldn't stay open.... as I was getting in...so Stephen held the door while I got in.We thought the taxi driver was taking us for a ride when he pulled into the local servo to fill up with fuel.I found Vila just as dirty as Noumea... so dry and some much needed rain to green up the place wasn't forth coming. Got back to the markets at the wharf, told the taxi driver to drop us off 500vatu..so Stephen and I were walking on the gravel close to the markets when this mini van came to close and nudged me....I was stunned and a little shaken up, but not hurt(later that day... I felt mild to moderate pain, so took some panadeine).I can't really blame the workers at the wharf... for going slow on the job, its stifling in that heat. Sailaway at 6 pm from Vila had a French Navy Vessel bid us farewell.A day is not enough,Can I be brutally honest for a moment...Its like the population HAS TO BE FRIENDLY to the tourist, their hearts weren't in it....which made me feel awarkward.Felt the natives were very wary of us,it takes time to win trust. Sat 5th Dec:Woke up to find that toilets wouldn't flush(isn't it always the way.... when you get the urge to go) so went down to 7, only to find that that toilet wouldn't flush either. How embarrassing. 3-4 hours later, we could all flush,cause was someone had put something in the toilets affecting 3 sections of the ships vaccum system.We could us the fwd toilets but no other toilets.Bought as bingo dabber.... thinking I was going to play bingo,never eventuated. Had dinner at the Steakhouse that night....a lot of shuddering was going on... and rocking...I didn't enjoy the food, took too long to get served,booked a table for 8pm... lucky to get served by 8:30-8:40pm,certainly not worth $25 pp. Today at Wala, Stephen went, took some photos.He said it was nice and the natives were the friendliest people, wish I had gone. Sun6th Dec :Rough weather tonight,waves and wet on deck 7, had the safety officer come and closed the area. Mon 7th Dec.. Had breakfast then lunch,played the pokies $20 went in, and $37 came back!!First time in days I saw the stars. Overall comments:Wait staff in Palm Court Excellent.Coffee down on deck 5 Excellent(Patisserie)...Alwin a most attentive waiter new us by name with a warm smile he greeted us.But most of all we had some very considerate cruiser's who would go out of their way by opening doors and standing aside the elevators.But although we didn't do all that there was to offer in the Pacific Daily,we did enjoy the show on Monday evening.This cruise was more than I had envisaged....was mind boggling to all my senses. Never assume all P&O staff are friendly or attentive,(pursers desk)they may never see you again you are just another passenger to them,1 lot off, the next lot boarding. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
In retirement one can indulge oneself and the idea of a cruising long weekend focusing on food and wine was very appealing. Although we usually cruise on new ships, we chose to overlook the fact that the Jewel is 21 yrs old and went for ... Read More
In retirement one can indulge oneself and the idea of a cruising long weekend focusing on food and wine was very appealing. Although we usually cruise on new ships, we chose to overlook the fact that the Jewel is 21 yrs old and went for the enjoyment of sailing in and out of Sydney Harbour and eating good food. On that basis we had a good cruise but not everything was good. Not having sailed with P&O before, I was amused at the snaking line to book-in - disorganised compared with other lines. We, the passengers were blamed because everyone got there earlier than the 3 pm embarkation time that was stipulated! We were one of the early birds and were on by 3.15 pm. Our CABIN was a good size with large shower in the bathroom, plenty of drawers and nice decor. We were lucky enough to have hot showers each day because some on deck 10 were not so lucky. On reading about the Degustation Dinner on Sunday night with limited availability, we immediately went to the Salt Grill to book. No one was there and CONSTANT phone calls to Reservations all afternoon proved fruitless - no-one ever answered. After dinner, we went to Salt Grill again only to be told that it had been booked out by 3.15 pm. How was that possible?????? That was not the only thing we could not get into - the wine tasting and coffee presentation on Saturday was also booked out. We finally got into the coffee appreciation talk, only by sitting in the cafe for 1 hr on the Sunday. While it was excellent, we found that the only way to get good seats or even get in was to go 30 mins early or queue for similar time. We also really enjoyed the Blue tongue beer tasting and yes, we grabbed a seat 1 hr before it started! The FOOD in the Waterfront Restaurant was excellent on Fri and Sun evening. As good as any 5 star ship or good restaurant. The restaurant is light with modern decor. The service at times both ordinary and very good. However, I cannot same the same for the food in the Plantation Buffet Restaurant. It was very poor quality, variety and quantity. The atmosphere is drab, the carpet filthy and the tables and chairs showing their years of service. The ENTERTAINMENT was excellent. The shows in the Marquee were 5 star and SZYGNY (don't know if the spelling is correct) were outstanding with their performance in the Atrium and on deck Those three major aspects of the cruise made for an enjoyable time BUT the ship is old on the outside - rust just gets painted over and there are areas on the inside that have obviously not been refurbished and look very tired or old fashioned. The CASBAH lounge, PLANTATION, the POOLS and the TOILETS fit this category We will probably not sail on the Jewel again - we prefer newer ships. The service was very ordinary. One time I asked for a Tonic Water and got Solo Lemon! The cabins were not serviced till 2 pm - that is poor. Overall, I enjoyed the three days but that was enough for us. The concept of the 3 day cruise is excellent but I dare not consider what a 14 day cruise might be like. The service and general organisation needs to improve if P&O are ever going to improve their overall rating. Carnival and P&O listen - give us OZZIES newer ships and better service so we don't have to fly around the world. We deserve it!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
My family (wife, 4 boys, mum & dad) enjoy cruising and were on the lookout for a good deal on the new addition to australian shores the Jewel. This cruise Noumea, Vila, Lifou & Wala. Check-in was effecient, usual photographers ... Read More
My family (wife, 4 boys, mum & dad) enjoy cruising and were on the lookout for a good deal on the new addition to australian shores the Jewel. This cruise Noumea, Vila, Lifou & Wala. Check-in was effecient, usual photographers getting in the way and holding up progress, they get a bit shirty when you refuse a photo you could take yourself and have no intention of purchasing. We have sailed previously on the Pacific Dawn twice, but no others to give comparison. The rooms (inside quad) were as expected, luggage delivered efficiently, quite clean, no complaints other than one cupboard under the fridge required a folded up piece of paper to hold it shut due to a broken lock. This was not fixed and with twin 4 year old boys it proved a bit of a pain keeping it closed as it is in the entrance to the room, it wasn't a problem for the cabin steward as it wasn't in his room. Our steward was well mannered and polite, did what was required but nothing extra, on our first cruise we were spoiled with the most wonderful steward and maybe compare others too much to him. My parents shared the other room with my two older sons. The top bunks have mattresses only suitable for children, I slept two nights up top and paid for it with a very sore back. As the rooms were not adjacent they had another cabin steward who I would describe as similar to ours, nice but not worth tipping (which I don't understand why they wouldn't strive to excel as they could more than double their meagre wage with gratuities). In the jewel the top bunks don't fold down as they do on the Dawn, they pull down under tension, you need to apply quite some force to pull them down. One night my 8yr old son returned to his cabin about 9.30 only to find his bed not pulled down so he slept in the lower bed (my mothers). When my parents retired after a late show they were unable to pull down the bed, so being unassuming country people who don't complain, mum had an uncomfortable sleepless night sharing a single bed with my son. When my father mentioned to the steward about the bed in the morning he said 'I couldn't pull it down', he seemed unconcerned but polite and needed my father to suggest he organise a maintenance person to look at it whilst wondering what value he received out of the $20 he gave this person on the first day. On the dawn we had ice buckets in our rooms that the stewards would fill every day, this was not practised on the jewel and seemed too hard for these stewards, so we got our own, I had to get my own glasses almost every day for the room if you removed them from the room and had staff clear them in some other part of the ship. Most of these are minor things but contribute to enjoyable cruising. The food in the dining room was excellent as was the service, we ate dinner every night there, I saw no need to pay for dinner in other parts of the ship when food of such quality was available with no charge. We mostly dined there as well for lunch, good servings, enough variety and very good quality. Didn't dine there for breakfast, preferring less formal atmosphere of the buffet where food was mixed generally not hot enough but plenty of choice to satisfy most. I wish the cooks would learn that most prefer bacon closer to crispy than raw. The entertainment was good, sports co-ordinator excellent only complaint periods of nothing happining then three things I would like to do at once. Reception staff cold, bar staff excellent albeit a long wait to get a simple bottled drink when all are making cocktails. Wine basic but very expensive, cocktails reasonable, tap water sometimes tastes like they got it from a swimming pool, softdrinks expensive, watered down orange juice only available in thimble sized cups lukewarm at breakfast, what do they expect children to drink on a hot day? - Take drink on board with you. Captain is a true professional, you always feel well informed and in good hands. Kids club staff excellent, kids club poor, very poor when compared to the Dawn. I went for a sauna every day on the Dawn (complimentary) the Jewel wanted $140.00 - no thanks. The Jewel has replaced an airy comfortable multipurposed area in prime position top floor front of ship ie the Dome on the Dawn with a gym and massage parlour where you can treat yourself to a $300.00 massage. This obviously is used but I never saw people queued up three deep to use these facilities, don't know too many people who go to the gym for the view. The Dawn had a late night movie on just about every night in the show lounge - one on the Jewel in 10 nights. P & O have one hand reaching for my wallet the whole time on the ship, I paid for my ticket and its inclusions, make shopping, art auctions, glamour photos etc available but dont shove them in my face or pressure me to spend money. Shore tours are outrageously expensive. Providing adults only areas is good but charging for them is greed. We stopped at Wala a beautiful island with equally friendly lovely people who live very basically but are proud of their home. I was a bit disappointed at P&O's hungriness for cash by setting up stalls on the ship flogging softdrinks for people to take ashore, whilst the same drinks are available on shore with locals selling them out of eskys, surely on a non commercialised island with no shops and a local people of little means they could let the local people make a few more dollars, if they any sense of fairness they would give them the drinks to sell for allowing us to share their beautiful home. We had a good holiday, the sister ship the Dawn offers more to us as a family but now sails out of brisbane offering repetative 'done it once dont need to do it again' cruises. Will we go the Jewel again? Only for a real, real good deal on a cruise offering different destinations. Will probably look at some visiting ships in the near future Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
January 19th, 2010 Pros: We attended the cruise leaving Sydney on the 9th of Jan 2010, which ventured to Noumea, Lifou, (new Caledonia); Vila and Wala (Vanuatu). All the staff where very helpful, friendly and fantastic in their areas of ... Read More
January 19th, 2010 Pros: We attended the cruise leaving Sydney on the 9th of Jan 2010, which ventured to Noumea, Lifou, (new Caledonia); Vila and Wala (Vanuatu). All the staff where very helpful, friendly and fantastic in their areas of expertise, however didn't show this until half way during the cruise. The decor and refurbishment of general areas and cabins was splendid and theme the ship. Ports selected in Vanuatu were brilliant and featured a culture like no other. Tours in Vanuatu ports were also excellent. The WALA tour, which was not connected to PnO and run by locals on the island themselves, was the best tour by far (and also the cheaptest).The chocolate bar was wonderful, a quite place to chill out and staff were lovely. Room size, bathroom size and cabins overall were slightly above average. Luke Mangan's restaurant was absoultely the highlight of our stay onboard, divine food, presentation and layout, and service in there was exceptional. Entertainment was above average, I wouldn't agree to say broadway but it was very good. Cruise director was pleasant, down to earth and funny. Cons: Unfortunately this cruise was a slight disappointment, especially since it's only one month old. Service in the waterfront restuarant was poor. Service was slow and table seatings at awkward hours. Our company actually moved tables the third day. It was a fantastic decision because we met a brilliant group of waiters and waitresses, who did their upmost to accomidate us and our large crowd. Menu was repeitive, although portion sizes were decent. The buffet was a disappointment, as the menu up there similiar everyday. The ship, sadly, wasn't aimed towards the Australian market dispite their efforts. Unlike pervious PnO cruises, there was no BBQ, no theme nights, no Aussie music, no staff from Australia. It is important that cruising in Australia and on an Aussie ship can be relateable and this was not the case with no entertainment staff being Australian. Our bathroom toilet became clogged the third day; it was fixed instantly however a newly renovated ship shouldn't have these hiccups. Also, many toilets around the ship were often out of order, especially ones needed regularly on deck 12 (pool deck). Lack of staff in bar areas, we found ourselves at the bar ordering drinks for most of the cruise. Obviously costs cut meant removing needed staff. Leaks from the ceiling in the dining room. Biggest downpoint was the air conditioning not working until the day we got off the ship. From previous cruising experience, (this was our tenth cruise), we know the ship should be constantly cold with air conditioning working. This was not the case here. Room air con didn't work either. After being on a cruise with 2000 people (crammed into crowded areas) and after visiting such humid ports in the middle of Summer, air con was NECESSARY! There was a smell that came most nights after 10pm in the corridors that resembled sewage. Tours were limited in Noumea and Lifou, and these two ports were not very appealing and unattractive ports on our itinerary. It seemed like the passengers on board, especially with young families, thought PnO was a good babysitting serivce and at every opportunity let their children run riot. Shows often disruptted by kids jumping on seats, talking loudly, screaming (and I'm not referring to innocent babies, more like 5 to 12 year olds). The onboard circus seemed a definite highlight however during one of the shows a female performer fell 3m from the hoop in the air face first after not being harnessed. It was dealt with professionally and in a respectful manner, however why wasn't there a crash mat or harnesses attached to the stage? Not good Occupational Health & Safety, especially for an Aussie ship. Overall: We enjoyed ourselves with a relaxing holiday and made the best out of the what we were given. It was a good family holiday but we were expecting more with the hype. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We enjoyed ourselves with a relaxing holiday and made the best out of the what we were given. It was a good family holiday but we were expecting more with the hype. We attended the cruise leaving Sydney on the 9th of Jan 2010, which ... Read More
We enjoyed ourselves with a relaxing holiday and made the best out of the what we were given. It was a good family holiday but we were expecting more with the hype. We attended the cruise leaving Sydney on the 9th of Jan 2010, which ventured to Noumea, Lifou, (new Caledonia); Vila and Wala (Vanuatu). Positives: All the staff where very helpful, friendly and fantastic in their areas of expertise, however didn't show this until half way during the cruise. The decor and refurbishment of general areas and cabins was splendid and theme the ship. Ports selected in Vanuatu were brilliant and featured a culture like no other. Tours in Vanuatu ports were also excellent. The casacdes tour in Vanatau was absolutely brilliant and honestly well worth seeing. If in Vila, book the tour to Mele waterfalls. The WALA tour, which was not connected to PnO and run by locals on the island themselves, was the best tour by far (and also the cheaptest). The chocolate bar was wonderful, a quite place to chill out and staff were lovely. Room size, bathroom size and cabins overall were slightly above average. Luke Mangan's restaurant was absoultely the highlight of our stay onboard, divine food, presentation and layout, and service in there was exceptional. Entertainment was above average, I wouldn't agree to say broadway but it was very good. Cruise director was pleasant, down to earth and funny. Negatives: Unfortunately this cruise was a slight disappointment, especially since it's only one month old. Service in the waterfront restuarant was poor. Service was slow and table seatings at awkward hours. Our company actually moved tables the third day. It was a fantastic decision because we met a brilliant group of waiters and waitresses, who did their upmost to accomidate us and our large crowd. Menu was repeitive, although portion sizes were decent. The buffet was a disappointment, as the menu up there similiar everyday. The ship, sadly, wasn't aimed towards the Australian market dispite their efforts. Unlike pervious PnO cruises, there was no BBQ, no theme nights, no Aussie music, no staff from Australia. It is important that cruising in Australia and on an Aussie ship can be relateable and this was not the case with no entertainment staff being Australian. Our bathroom toilet became clogged the third day; it was fixed instantly however a newly renovated ship shouldn't have these hiccups. Also, many toilets around the ship were often out of order, especially ones needed regularly on deck 12 (pool deck). Lack of staff in bar areas, we found ourselves at the bar ordering drinks for most of the cruise. Obviously costs cut meant removing needed staff. Leaks from the ceiling in the dining room. Biggest downpoint was the air conditioning not working until the day we got off the ship. From previous cruising experience, (this was our tenth cruise), we know the ship should be constantly cold with air conditioning working. This was not the case here. Room air con didn't work either. After being on a cruise with 2000 people (crammed into crowded areas) and after visiting such humid ports in the middle of Summer, air con was NECESSARY! There was a smell that came most nights after 10pm in the corridors that resembled sewage. Tours were limited in Noumea and Lifou, and these two ports were not very appealing and unattractive ports on our itinerary. It seemed like the passengers on board, especially with young families, thought PnO was a good babysitting serivce and at every opportunity let their children run riot. Shows often disruptted by kids jumping on seats, talking loudly, screaming (and I'm not referring to innocent babies, more like 5 to 12 year olds). The onboard circus seemed a definite highlight however during one of the shows a female performer fell 3m from the hoop in the air face first after not being harnessed. It was dealt with professionally and in a respectful manner, however why wasn't there a crash mat or harnesses attached to the stage? Not good Occupational Health & Safety, especially for an Aussie ship. Basically a floating RSL. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
My husband and I have cruised two times before, but previous cruises were out of the USA on Carnival cruises. If I was to compare the P & O Cruise to those, there would be no comparison. These were definitely better, but having said ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised two times before, but previous cruises were out of the USA on Carnival cruises. If I was to compare the P & O Cruise to those, there would be no comparison. These were definitely better, but having said that we did have a great time on the Pacific Jewel. Embarkation - This was a fantastic experience for us. We got priority boarding, not really sure why. We were on Deck 11 so maybe that was it. The only complaint I have about Sydney's terminal is that there wasn't really too many places to sit. I think they need more chairs around, especially for the more mature crowd. Plus it wasn't really very 'nice'. I say this because other terminals seem to be a lot nicer in decor and newer I guess. Anyway, I don't know how we managed this, I think just in the right place at the right time, but suddenly we were headed onboard the ship and we were the first ones on. I don't know what happened with the people behind us but we were the only ones on the ship for about 15 minutes. Nobody behind us. How exciting! We were greeted onboard and it kind of felt like royalty. The ship was impressive and the decor whilst loud was really really nice. Our Room - We headed straight there so we could watch others boarding. We had a balcony cabin on the left side of the ship (sorry don't know what this is called). Our cabin was huge compared to the other ships we had been on. So much cupboard space and drawer space. The queen bed was great. I have never had the problem with two singles put together like others have commented on. I only have two negatives about the room. The first was that if your cupboard door came open like ours did a couple of times, whilst someone was in the bathroom, they couldn't get out. Luckily for us my husband and I were almost always together in the room so noone was stuck in there for long. The second was that the aircon was hot for all of the trip. It was fine the first day only but that night was horrible. We complained about it on many occasions and they came to look at it many times. On the 4th day finally a tech came and said that it was set to 24 degress and that was the lowest it goes to even though the dial said it could go colder. Why bother having a temp gage if you can't change the temp? Our cabin steward was fantastic and well worth the tip we gave him. More about tips later. Dining - Ok I am not a fan of anytime dining. You don't get to know your waiters and they don't get to know you. Plus there are almost always lines waiting to get into the dining room. Mind you they moved quite quickly but I still prefer having the same table each night. The food was great in the Waterfront. I never had a problem with it. Always hot and fresh. We generally prefer to go to the dining room than eat in the buffet. Just because we don't like having to search for a table and then get up and down all the time. Much prefer the service. Getting drinks in the Waterfront was horrible. We always had to ask for the drinks server who didn't always come. One time they asked everyone at our table for drinks except for us. When we had set dining, our drinks waiter knew what we wanted and it was either waiting for us when we arrived or not long after. I missed that. Menues were pretty repetitive but delicious none the same. A few items were changed each day for variety. Also be prepared to pay for all your drinks. I think they should offer a drink with the main meal or offer a soft drinks card. The Salt Grill was delicious and I wished we had gone back there a second time. We actually had our meal there on Valentine's Day. I thought it would be decked out especially for it but it was no different to any other time which was a little disappointing. The buffet area was beautifully done with valentine hearts everywhere. The food though was outstanding and I have to recommend the gnocci and the chocolate dessert. Yum! Worth the $25 extra we paid per head. Staffing - Didn't notice a lack of these anywhere like other reviews I have read. There was always a drinks person wandering around taking orders or with a tray full of the drink special. We don't drink so didn't really affect us much but I did see them everywhere. Tipping - Tips were automatically added each day to our account but you can have them removed and tip as you see fit. This is what I did and what I recommend. I don't see the point of tipping people who don't do good or exceptional service. I noticed though that after October 2010 tipping will not be automatic anymore which I think is a much better idea. Entertainment - I thought the shows that we did see were great. The only issue I had with some of them is that they were very very late and we missed them because of this. Like the comedian. Some of the shows were at 11pm or later and we never were able to keep our eyes open at this time. The first night the circus show was at 10.30pm and I thought this quite late too especially for the kids I saw with their parents all bleary eyed waiting for it to start. Fallon - the singer they had I disliked from the start. Great singer but about 15 years older than his photo in the daily paper. Wore tight pants and shirts unbuttoned and seemed really sleezy. Told old old jokes and didn't appeal to me at all. The older crowd seemed to love him though. The other singer/comedian was great and well worth seeing. Jokes much better. Magician was good too, unless you have watched the show on TV that shows you how all the tricks are done! I was really disappointed with the ice carving. Didn't get to see it because they did it down on the deck (same level as the crowd watching) so you couldn't see it unless you were in the front row. The deck above was totally filled with people and again you couldn't see unless you were in the front row. They should have put the guy on a stage and then everybody would have been able to see no matter where you were standing. We loved the trivia games. They were funny and fun. We even won a few prizes. I don't have much to say about the ports as we didn't go on any excursions. Just too expensive and our main goal on the trip was to enjoy the cruise. We found on past cruises that we were rushed when we did the excursions and were amongst the crowds waiting to get off the ship, especially when there were tenders and we didn't feel like doing this, this time around. Having said that, the waters in the ports looked amazing and seemed like everyone was having a good time. The Health Spa - Yes, the prices were terribly high. But here is a tip. We went to the art auctions each day as they often had a special going and one day they offered a hot stone massage for $70. You can't beat it. Pros - We had a blast. Loved the food. Especially the Salt Grill. Also the lamb rogan josh was delicious on the lunch menu. Rooms quite big. Cons - Aircon didn't work well. Take a fan if you get hot at night. The sell sell sell attitude. Everything seemed to cost extra. All in all we loved this cruise. Heck we love any cruise. Go with an open mind and you will enjoy. Don't sweat the small stuff. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This was our second cruise, but first P&O. We can't really fault P&O, the main problems we had were with our fellow passengers. We are a married couple in their late 20's from Sydney. Pros: Our cabin steward (Ronaldo) ... Read More
This was our second cruise, but first P&O. We can't really fault P&O, the main problems we had were with our fellow passengers. We are a married couple in their late 20's from Sydney. Pros: Our cabin steward (Ronaldo) was fantastic. La Luna was outstanding. Food at Plantation buffet was surprisingly good. Food at Waterfront was consistently good. Lifou and Pentecost Island were amazing. Large range of organised activities meant you could do as much or as little as you wanted. We did trivia each day and went to a Martini Master class. Cons: Drinks service at Waterfront was very poor. Production shows were awful. Bars were too small and not enough of them (very hard to get a seat at Connexions in the evenings). Comedians weren't very good. Our cabin smelled like cigarette smoke for the first 2 days. Our cabin was under the theatre and the stage seemed to be used constantly for rehearsals - sounded like a herd of elephants were jogging on the spot. My husband got sick from the steak at Salt Grill. But the worst thing about the cruise were the other passengers. We did meet some lovely people at dinner each night, but en masse it was a nightmare. Rude, mannerless people constantly cutting in line at the buffet, heckling the musicians, smoking constantly, complaining about everything, kids in the adult pool. And stupid too - we saw one man waving his glass under the hand sanitiser unit trying to get water out of it (and this was half way through the cruise) and another lady using her hand to push the lever on the water dispenser rather than her glass. If we cruise P&O again perhaps a New Zealand or Tasmania cruise would have a more sophisticated crowd. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Pacific Jewel - Pacific Magic - J027 - 27 August to September 6, 2010 Us I've travelled a lot over the years (a former travel agent, then financial services, now rehabilitation counsellor), and got reacquainted with cruising last ... Read More
Pacific Jewel - Pacific Magic - J027 - 27 August to September 6, 2010 Us I've travelled a lot over the years (a former travel agent, then financial services, now rehabilitation counsellor), and got reacquainted with cruising last November 2009 on the Diamond Princess (Asia to Sydney) quickly followed by the NYE to NZ cruise on Sun Princess, both as a solo cruiser. My name is Debbie and I am now a cruisaholic. I went into this cruise trying to have no expectations, I'm rarely a whinger and go with the flow. I met my partner before I went on these cruises but pushed away his advances until I got back hehe. Told him if he wants to be part of my life he must love travelling and cwoozing (and dogs, washing, ironing and cooking LOL)! So with that, I booked this cruise 2 weeks before sailing, after changing jobs and cancelling a few other cruises on Royal Caribbean South Pacific, Princess South Pacific and Princess to South America because of work, I will start with saying P&O were not my first choice but they fitted into my schedule. My partner went on the Fairstar in 1980 something and has had a few land trips to Europe and even walked the Kokoda Track a few years ago. I'm an official SKI (spend kids inheritance) at the ripe old age of 51. My partner is a couple of years younger (I'm a cougar hahahahahaha) Embarkation at Wharf 5 Being Sydneyites with all the intentions of getting there at 11.00 am, we finally arrived at 2.00 pm LOL Bag drop off was quick with plenty of P&O staff directing. They handed out the green immigration card and health card to fill in, then onto the very long queue for check-in. I thought we would be there for hours but it took about 20 minutes, then through immigration and up the gangway. All up about 30 minutes from bag drop off to gangway. Cabin Now to check out the cabin and I was pleasantly surprised. It was bright and airy with plenty of storage. The "pay for it" robe and slippers where there and thanks to this forum I knew not to open them (I never read directions lol) , but the big disappointment was the balcony. We had 102XX, aft, and I sat on the deckchair and couldn't see a thing except white metal, and even though I'm a midget my very tall partner couldn't see anything either. The balconies on Deck 10 are very narrow and closed in and it had an odd smell. The timber balcony furniture was in desperate need of replacement. I believe the Deck 11 balconies are more open. Unfortunately, we did not really use the balcony. Oh well, such is life. I'm not going to let this spoil my cruise! So onward to check out the ship. We had a quick whiz around, stopped at the Aqua Spa to check out the thermal suite, but decided at $199 for a couple, and no heat beds (like Princess) we probably wouldn't use it. Then muster was called so back to the cabin to get the lifejackets and do what ya need to do. Our cabin steward was pretty slack (thus I left my cabin number out). In fairness it was his last cruise on a 9 month contract and he was dying to get home to his new wife and start making babies. I sent laundry out (all the clothes covered in cow shyte - read below LOL) and it took him 3 days to bring it back, although, he even admitted he was slack in bringing it back. Sailaway There's nothing like it eh? Lots of action happening on deck, music, dancing, drinks. The buzz of sailing away out of Sydney Harbour is never under-estimated. I love it! We left on time and enjoyed the goings on. Then back to the cabin to get changed to meet up with chopper62 and robg54 at Connexions at 6 pm. It's funny how you know who people are. There were heaps of people there but I spotted chopper62 and his wife immediately with no prior visual. They had that cruise forum look about them LOL We chatted for about 1.5 hours but no Rob and his wife to be seen. We then went to the dining room for dinner and onto the Marquee for the Welcome Aboard Show. Shows/Entertainment I thought the shows were very good and a great mix of daily activities and entertainment. After reading about Zoltina-J here I was concerned but all that was alleviated. I found her to be a great CD with a great personality and perfect for the job. Bingo with Bobbi was also fun and once again, she'll make a great CD some day. Only wished we'd won though LOL. The jackpot only got to $5100 at the end. The Pacific Cirque were awesome. Doing their thing without nets or clipped on. On Island night it was windy but the ship slowed and turned so they could perform "Syzygy" which was fantastic. They also did a show, the "Vignette" in the Atrium one night. Make sure you got to Deck 6 or 7 to see this or front row of Deck 5. We managed to see just about everything that was on offer and I could not complain about the entertainment. Drinks I'm a non-drinker but I thought the price of alcohol was expensive for a cruise ship. They had some mocktails but would make up anything you wanted which was great. All the bar staff were great. The Cafe and the other coffee shop/bar in the atrium made great coffee. Casino Well, ya just gotta love the casino when you win LOL We did alright and came out in front. I also won a helicopter flight for Port Vila in the casino raffle but as it was only for one, we had to buy another one at $99 LOL. The staff here were helpful and friendly and the bar staff always on top of things! My partners complaint was they switched the satellite to beam in the AFL so missed out on the NRL although they did replay the games later at night. Don't know why he bothered....his team, the Rabbitohs got hammered by my team....the Dragons. If you were on the ship you will know who he is as he had the bloody green and red jersey on A LOT! LOL Ports/Sightseeing Noumea - fortunately I didn't book any shore tours although I was interested to go over to Amadee or Duck Island. The weather was lousy so we decided we would do the hop on hop off bus that I'd read about. When we got off there were tour operators in the cruise terminal offering tchoo tchoo train ($25 pp compared to $59 pp for ship's tour) and island tours. All the operators advised us the aquarium was closed on a Monday, so we chose the tchoo tchoo train and had a ball as there were a lot of fun people on the train. If you had booked the ship's tour to do the Aquarium they were opening it especially for the ship. We came back then went out to Lemon Bay ($10 pp return in a shuttle) for lunch. Can't remember the name of the restaurant but it wasn't that good, then had a yummy ice cream and coffee and back to wander the streets of Noumea and back onto the ship. So most of bag Noumea, why do they stop there? The Captain advised that if we want to go to the other islands they must stop there for immigration purposes. Suck it up folks! There was no problem using Aussie dollars here although I had some pacific francs. Lifou - did our own thing. Tender port, no dramas. Wandered over to Jinek Bay for the snorkelling we were looking forward to (took our own gear but you can hire it on the ship for about $45 I think), but I was very disappointed, as were others who had snorkelled there before. Not sure if it was because it was low tide, but not the best, although it was nice to swim in the sea! The water wasn't overly warm and I lasted about 30 minutes before I began to freeze. I don't understand why P&O don't pay to get the steps fixed! Surely it won't cost them much. They are dangerous. There are markets and massage here also. Aussie dollars OK as well. Take $5.00 notes and coins for $3.00 items, and change their coins for them if they ask! A couple of people were disgusted they were asked to change coins (get a life folks! They can't cash them). When they brought the tenders in one got a buoy wrapped around it's propeller which they didn't realise until the brought the concrete block up with it! Kinda funny. They spent forever trying to unravel it. Port Vila - Extreme sports day LOL. Lashed out on shore tours. We started with the Buggies and had an absolute ball, although they did try to slow us down. The warning was you will get muddy.....we ended up getting covered in cow shyte. So funny!!! Well worth it, except for slowing us down! Next we had the Jetboat which was fantastic fun. We got absolutely drowned but way better than any other I had been on, however, I have not done the Shotover in NZ and another couple said the shotover was way better. We had a blast. Next for a freebie (almost) helicopter ride. At $99.00 it was only 7 minutes and I wouldn't pay for it but it was an awesome view, complete with turbulence, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Some people off the ship came to book direct, and they were still charged the ship's price. Duty free shopping - smokes and alcohol super cheap. Everything else such as electronics/cameras/perfume on par with OZ or what was on the ship. We went to the waterfront for coffee and wandered around the markets here. Aussie dollars are OK. Stopped at the markets winding up to the ship for a look see and to pick up island night stuff. Saw Chrissy and cashed some coins and gave her a large cash donation for the hospital. Wala - what a beautiful stop. Tender port, no dramas. The snorkelling was fantastic and we saw lots of Nemos hehe. I found Nemo yeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. The ships Pacific Daily said the walking tours offered by locals are free but they do have donation boxes so bring coin. No mention of markets, so heaps of people had to go back to the ship to get money. Lots of markets, drinks available and the island tour is $10.00 pp. Mini-suite Benefits OK, so I have no idea why we got mini-suite benefits but we did. I still wonder if it's because I'm a Princess cruiser and they're trying to swoon me over? No one else we spoke to in balcony cabins on Deck 10 received the privilege. On our 2nd day we got fluffy bathrobes and slippers and extra bathroom amenities. Priority disembarkation was a special treat! On cocktail nights we got canapEs delivered to our cabin, and we were invited to the Captain's small and private cocktail party in the Club Lounge. Whilst the Captain had photos taken with everyone on their arrival his officers were all milling around together - not very impressive actually. Oasis The first two sea days the weather was lousy but on our first sea day after all the ports we used the Oasis for the day. $5 for half a day, $10 for full day pp. It was a nice retreat, very comfy sun lounges, bar service, piped music (relaxing type) and well worth it! Captain Neil Turnbull Funny bugger for a pom LOL His regular daily updates, his welcome show, his interview....all great. A captain WITH a personality hehe. On loan from Pacific Dawn to cover the other captains leave. On a more serious note, he was very good at advising the passengers about the Christchurch earthquake and keeping us up to date. He railroaded us for 20 minutes at his cocktail party....aren't we special hehe We discussed the 'food' situation with him and various other cruising and personal life topics (his and ours) as well. He advised us they were bringing P&O UK senior crew down to OZ to endeavour to fix things up.....there ya have it straight from the Capitans mouth! Weather Lots of people puking on the first 2 sea days. It was only a 3m swell but was coming from the quarter so made things particularly rock and rolley. Fortunately we don't get sea sick! The weather was cold and cloudy also on those first 2 sea days. By the time we got to Noumea it had warmed up a little to about 21C but still not overly warm. Lifou it warmed up a little more about 23C but still overcastish but Port Vila and Wala it was sunshiney, warm with beautiful warm water! Although the captain advised it might get bumpy on the way back, and the spew bags were placed on the banisters of the stairs (not a good sign!) we were lucky and he sailed around it. The last day as we got closer to Sydney the pitching started (more sick people) and cloudy but overall I thought the seas were very kind to us.....it helps not being a motion sickness person LOL Medical Centre I'm going to put this in as we spoke to many people who complained about having to pay for the ship's doctor up front. It's what happens on cruise ship people, in fact, it happens on land too in foreign countries. Wait a minute, you pay upfront mostly in OZ too, then claim it back. A woman also collapsed on deck and the medical team were there swiftly, followed by the Captain calling for stretcher support. Sadly, they did appear to have to perform resuscitation and I have no idea of her condition. I hope she is OK. Speciality Restaurants La Luna - $20 pp cover charge - Dinner - I loved it, but I heard lots of complaints about it. It's not your local Chinese restaurant which is why I loved it. Great taste sensation and they change the menu half way. Salt Grill - $30 pp cover charge - Dinner - Luke Mangan was on board and was wafting around the restaurant. What is the hype about this place? The food was good, but not excellent. The service was excellent though. I wouldn't pay his prices on land if this was what he was serving. And the extra charges (ie. $4 per oyster on top of the cover charge???? What's with that!) Aqua Spa Usually the partaker of many a spa treatment, being so busy I didn't get around to it until the last day. So I booked a triple treatment hehe Body Scrub, Massage and Facial. The girls were great at their art and I had no complaints. Yeah it's expensive but you already know that! Captains Club Cocktail Party Anyone who had cruised before was here LOL and it was held in the Marquee. Drinks and nibblies. I always like these to see who is the most cruised. Well the winner was a 90 year old lady who was on her 150th cruise! Funnily enough, we were up in the buffet one day (prior to this) and she was pushing her walker unsteadily from the coffee machine with a cup of coffee in her hand spilling on the floor. Not a sole helped her, and I promptly grabbed her cup, walked her to her table and got her comfy. My partner questioned her ability to be on the cruise alone! I said, leave her alone, that'll be me hahahahaha It was a port day, so I daresay her family were on shore. Cocktail Nights I love dressing up on these nights. When you do the kind of work I do you don't get to wear much bling! LOL The people that made the effort looked great and I find it a special part of a cruise. It's a shame they've dropped it back to Cocktail from Formal. The boys always look great in their tux's. Shops on Board Very ordinary and expensive compared to Princess (ooops I compared) LOL. Ages I was surprised at the age of the passengers. Mostly families, middle aged and elderly but not many younguns. The younguns we spoke to were a little disappointed that there weren't many 20-30ish crowd? and the girls definitely outnumbered the boys in this age bracket (so the girls told us LOL) The End We had a fantastic time, met some wonderful people including chopper62 and his wife (we're still looking for robg54 and his wife hehe), never had dud dinner partners and had some great laughs with folks, we ignored the chronic whingers (why do they bother cruising????)....anyway I digresss. Overall it was a great cruise........................except THE FOOD!!!! I saved the worst for last. What a disgrace. The whole food and food service is disgusting, yes disgusting, and I am not a foodie! Let's face it, the focal point of cruising is food.....it's all you do! LOL Most of the food and beverage staff seemed to be miserable with the rare few who were always happy and smiling, so compared with the rest of the friendly, efficient ship's crew it was very very noticeable. Service in the Waterfront Restaurant was hit and miss (more miss). Lunch - 2 hours to get lunch is not my idea of lunch and we never went back after hearing others say the same thing day in and day out. The same menu for breakfast and lunch every day with no specials. Dinner - The meals were very small, and my partner is a tradie with a BIG appetite and it was impossible to get another serving, you had to beg for an extra bread roll, so he needed to go and pay for pizza afterwards. This is wrong! The piece de resitance was getting dessert in the same cheap plastic bowls they have in the buffet.....what's wrong with that in the dining room???? The buffet. Breakfast was fair, same same same every day. No variety! Lunch and dinner was bland, slop and the same same same salads every day. C'mon P&O get some imagination happening. It's not that difficult! Also, the air-conditioning faded towards the end and it was very hot in some public areas of the ship and the constant blocking of the public toilets, with many lifts constantly out of service. It's an old ship, I understand that, but these things really do bring the quality of the ship down. Would I sail with P&O Australia again? They were not my first choice, but I'm glad I experienced it. But not unless they lift their food game, or I need a 2 nighter to get to elite on Princess haha Oh yeah, I didn't miss The Dome LOL I start a new job tomorrow and have already asked for time off LOL........now time to plot my next escape I know this is long, and I've tried to cut it down and I know I've missed out stuff, so thanks for reading it! Deb Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
First off, let me say that the ship sailed from Brisbane. The bit listing Melbourne is rubbish but the system will not let me choose Brisbane and will not let me leave the area blank. We live in Melbourne and flew to Brisbane to join the ... Read More
First off, let me say that the ship sailed from Brisbane. The bit listing Melbourne is rubbish but the system will not let me choose Brisbane and will not let me leave the area blank. We live in Melbourne and flew to Brisbane to join the flight. My husband and I are both in our 50s, we've been on 2 cruises and we travelled both times with two other couples in the same age bracket. So there were six of us and I am basing the review on our overall impressions. Our first cruise was in January 2009 on Sun Princess and we went to the South Pacific, while our latest cruise was on Pacific Dawn to ports in Far North Queensland. You will probably find I compare ships a fair bit, but I figure this is fair in that a lot of other aussies might like to know these details. Both cruises took place in school holidays, because I am a teacher and that is when I get holidays. It was a good cruise-comfy bed, pleasant staff, good food and entertainment. But Pacific Dawn is probably not a ship that will dazzle you if you have been on bigger ships. Pacific Dawn is rated half a star under Sun Princess and I told the others that, but all the same, they were still a little disappointed overall with first impressions of the ship. This is not to say the ship was no good, just they weren't as impressed by the physical aspects of the ship as on our first cruise. THE SHIP. First impression of the Pacific Dawn was that it was a nice ship-but the others in the group commented several times that it was a 'much smaller' ship than the Sun Princess, but the difference actually isn't as huge as it may appear. The Princess ships seem to be quite a lot glitzier. The public areas are definitely bigger and have that wow factor that is missing in the Pacific Dawn. This is especially true of the atrium area, which is just dazzling on the Sun Princess, with its well lit stairs and glass elevators. There is nothing wrong with the Pacific Dawn public areas, they are perfectly comfortable, but they tend to be a bit dark. That was one of my first impressions. The Sun Princess was much more light filled. Why Pacific Dawn recarpeted in brown is a mystery to me as although it is nice enough carpet, the whole area needs a lift, to be a little lighter and brighter. The Sun Princess is also, generally speaking, in better nick, as my husband would say. The overall finish is better. My friend's husband commented that the Pacific Dawn had a fair bit of rust on railings and on the outside. This won't affect your cruise but it is a first impression. The ship recently underwent a refurbishment but they missed some areas. CABINS. We had inside cabins in both ships. The Pacific Dawn cabin was a MUCH better design, in my opinion. It was bigger, for a start. In the Sun Princess, we asked for a queen bed set up but walked in to see two singles, each against a wall. We left it that way as there was barely room to walk between them as it was. There was a desk and chair but the TV could only be viewed from the bed. On this cruise, we asked for single beds but walked in to find it set up as a queen bed. But in Pacific Dawn, the set up really worked well. There was plenty of room to walk round, more like a motel size, and there was a curtained wall that gave an impression of a window. The bathroom was a better design with a shower area about twice the size of Sun Princess. There were little things that let Pacific Dawn down though-specifically the finish inside cabinets and so on. Pieces of laminate were missing or chipped and it made the cabin look a bit tired and tatty in parts. But the bed itself was excellent, very comfortable, and we had lovely pillows. around Sun Princess. Overall, I would say Pacific Dawn cabins run rings around Sun Princess cabins, for comfort and design, but not for finish, if that makes sense! But maybe the cabins need to have those little cosmetic things fixed as they go along-it would look better. I think the fact the cabins are bigger on Pacific Dawn may help explain why the ship looks 'much smaller' than Princess ships. There is less room left for the public areas if you have bigger cabins. Now to something that we noticed that really affected our enjoyment of the ship. The PROMENADE deck. Both ships had them. But on Sun Princess, this deck goes all the way round the ship. This means you can do the circuit. It is great exercise. I really missed this on the Pacific Dawn as the two sides of the promenade do not connect. We were limited to walking up and down on one side, so we just didn't bother. We didn't use the promenade deck half as much as it wasn't anywhere near as 'open' in feel. Maybe it doesn't sound like that big a deal but it will make a difference to how I choose a ship in future. There is a running track on deck 14 of Pacific Dawn but I wasn't interested in that. Some of us really missed a promenade deck we could walk around a few times while watching the ocean. We didn't get that on Pacific Dawn. THE DOME nightclub. This is on Pacific Dawn and my friends were impressed, claimed it was much better than anything Sun Princess had. EMBARKATION. Much the same, although it took a little longer with P&O as we had to wait around after the formalities, till our number was called. On our first cruise, which left from Melbourne, we walked straight onto the ship once we got our cruise card. One little item. P&O now have a nifty little hole in their card, ready for the lanyard. Princess ships may do this now, I don't know, but back in 2009 they didn't and it was a bit silly as 2000 people then had to queue up at the purser's desk over the next day or so to have a hole punched in the card. Congratulations to P&O for a sensible move. SAFETY DRILL. Okay all ships seem to have to have this just before sailing, but what a shemozzle. Sun Princess managed it all so much better. On our first cruise, we arrived at our venue, sat down, were given the drill, then went back to our cabins. On the present cruise on Pacific Dawn, no such luck. First off, we were directed to a venue that didn't have Buckley's hope of seating even half the people assembled there. So we had to stand. I found it hard on my feet so heaven only knows how the really elderly got on. Then.. the drill didn't start on time. It was delayed for over 30 minutes. Could even have been longer. It felt longer, I know that much! It was annoying to be told in announcements that they were a bit behind time, but to just sit down and make ourselves comfortable. There were clearly no chairs available. Running late with things and long queues of people was to be a constant feature of this cruise at various times. It didn't make for a good start to the cruise. FOOD. At the risk of sounding like a real set of gluttons, we were all devastated that the buffet on Pacific Dawn wasn't open 24/7-or at least all day. There were times in the late afternoon when it would have been nice to just wander in for a coffee and be able to pick up a cracker and cheese or some fruit or a slice. Sun Princess beats Pacific Dawn hands down in this regard as it is open round the clock. I found the quality of the food to be similar. In fact, I probably enjoyed the food on P&O a fraction more, on the whole, than on Princess. But at night, after the shows, we would go to the buffet for a coffee, only to find we were being given wind up signals to leave by about 10pm. I liked the food in the Pacific Dawn dining room much better than the buffet offerings. It was definitely of a higher standard and the formal dining room is a lovely looking room. But it would have made a big difference to have had tea or coffee available after the meal. There was none. It was a real pain on this cruise to have to travel from the dining room right up to the buffet just to have our coffee at the end of a meal. I can't see why P&O can't include it in the dining room. It was certainly never offered to us. BUFFET area on Pacific Dawn. Again, not as nice to be in as the similar area on Sun Princess. I don't know what they have done to the glass but it isn't always clear to see through. When up in the buffet near a window, you want to be able to have a clear view of the ocean- not on Pacific Dawn, it's blotchy. The back area of the buffet needs a revamp. It is far too dark, with heavy curtains plus venetians. I would prefer a sea view myself. It is also hot and stuffy compared to the side areas of the buffet, so be warned. First morning when we went for breakfast, we struck a long queue at the buffet-way out the door and half way to the pool area. Only one side of the buffet was open. We turned round and went to the dining room, where we had excellent service. Near the pools, I noticed that there were no free chips or burgers for the kids. This was a highlight for them on Sun Princess. They would hang out by the pool almost all day and even eat there. On Pacific Dawn, there was an area near the buffet but they were charging for chips. Disappointing. No soda or coffee cards on P&O either. FACILITIES. Laundries on Pacific Dawn were large and excellent, they ran rings around Sun Princess, though having said that, they were not on every level. But there were big rooms with multiple machines. I never saw anyone much in the rooms and had no trouble using an iron when I wanted one. Mind you, we were on a 7 day cruise, we may have struck busier times on a longer cruise. On Sun Princess, there was a tiny laundry room on our deck and every time I went past, it was busy. HOT TUBS. Better location on Pacific Dawn, although it depends which ones you talk of. There were some near the main pools. I never went near these, just used the ones on deck 11. This is because of the location. Our cabins were on deck 11 and at the back of that deck there are two hot tubs. They are a lot smaller than the ones on Sun Princess. On Sun Princess, you can fit 6 adults no worries. On the Pacific Dawn ones, you would be lucky to fit 3. But the location of those tubs on deck 11 is magic as they command a view of the ocean. It's lovely to sit in one and just watch the sea. There were hardly any people out on that deck. I blame Pacific Dawn management for this (though it worked in our favour I guess). There were signs on the doors, just as you went out onto deck 11, that said "Oasis area' and stated this was a fee paying area and open only to adults. When I saw it first, I naturally thought the deck was off limits unless we paid but then when I looked closer at ship layout designs, I noticed the oasis was actually down on deck 10. Why they placed the sign on a door leading to deck 11 I have no idea. So for your information, deck 11 is better than deck 10, from what I can see. It has deck chairs PLUS 2 spas. Why would anyone pay to go down to deck 10, with no hot tubs? POOLS. I didn't use them but they seemed much smaller on Pacific Dawn. ART AUCTIONS. Better run on Pacific Dawn, in my opinion. The man in charge of these gave a run down on starting bid, how the auctions worked, and clearly stated if a bid had reached the reserve. This wasn't done on Sun Princess, although the information about artists and types of art was much more educational and informative on Sun Princess. I noticed though that a lot more art was sold on Pacific Dawn and I am guessing it is because the whole process was so much clearer and people knew when a bid won. On the Princess ship, I never could tell if a bid had won or been passed in. ENTERTAINMENT. Pacific Dawn put on 4 full productions over the week. We were 12 days on Sun Princess with nothing like that amount. I thought the productions also had better costuming on Pacific Dawn and were more varied. We even had two circus type acts in the atrium, so there definitely was more variety on Pacific Dawn. One thing I noticed was that Pacific Dawn had a theme night almost every night-there was cowboy night, pirate night, island night, as well as 2 formal nights. This was in one week. No one went over the top dressy on formal nights on this cruise. It was more cocktail party type dress. I didn't bother with things like cowboy night but let me just say that if you are a family with young kids or teens, the P&O Australia line may be more to their liking as it seems to cater much more for the nightclub crowd and the Dome was a more spectacular venue than that available on Sun Princess. Sun Princess though had a better ambience in that there were musicians constantly in the atrium area. This meant we heard music constantly and could sit and have a coffee in that atmosphere. There were musicians on Pacific Dawn but tucked away in bars, nowhere near as evident, nowhere near the ambience. Keeping in mind both cruises were in school holidays, I would say the crowd was much younger on P&O. I noticed many toddlers and young children. On Sun Princess, we were told there were 400 children and the crowd was 'much younger' than usual, but I think most must have been teens as we rarely saw them. The children were never any bother on either cruise. EXCURSIONS. Oh my god, where do I start? On this cruise, we all booked two ship-organised excursions. One was to the Great Barrier Reef and the other was in Cairns, with a gondola ride above the Daintree rainforest to Kuranda, with a train ride back. For both excursions, we had to meet in the theatre and huge tour groups were involved. For both excursions, we were kept waiting long beyond our scheduled meeting time and we were late getting away. Considering the cost of the excursions ($219 and $179pp), that is not good enough. In the rainforest excursion in particular, my main memory is of massive crowds and queuing. First we queued for the gondola ride. Then we got off half way, as instructed, and had to queue another 40 minutes for the second part of the ride. This gave us exactly 35 minutes in Kuranda village, to have lunch and look around, before we had to catch a bus to come back via the train. I didn't meet anyone who was happy with this. It would have been far better to leave earlier and give everyone at least 90 minutes in Kuranda. As it was, it was rush, rush, rush and we saw very little. Stressful. Maybe they should try to break tour groups into smaller components as moving us all en masse was stressful. We did our own thing in Port Douglas. I would advise anyone visiting this area to look up the Port Douglas historical society website as it lists information about places to visit on a walking tour which you can do yourself. The tender takes you right into town. It was our most relaxed excursion of the tour and cost us no money. On the Sun Princess, I felt the tours were better organised by far but that may be because we chose shorter excursions and the numbers of people on them were smaller. STAFF on board ship- Very happy with the level of service. One thing though-at the end of the cruise, we had to fill out a questionnaire on both cruises. The P&O form was much easier and user friendly. Also-and this is a MAJOR difference, we were not asked to rank individual people and weren't hassled by staff about it. On Sun Princess, there was automatic tipping but on the last days, out came trays and trays of envelopes, the entire foyer was taken over by the things, and there were multiple announcements exhorting us to take some to reward staff. In contrast, P&O, which also had automatic tipping at the time of our cruise, simply mentioned on the TV program that it could be removed, changed or that we may care to take an envelope and reward individuals instead if we so chose. That was the end of the matter and a small pile of envelopes were discreetly available on the purser's desk. You had to look for them to even see them. P&O handled it with more class, in my opinion. BRISBANE As we didn't have our cars with us, we used maxicabs and they were marvellous. They were everywhere, they came amazingly quickly when called, they hold all the luggage no problems and still have room for about 8-10 people and if there are a few of you splitting the cost, they work out much cheaper than catching public transport. eg Maxicab from airport to wharf came to $42, while a bus would have cost us $15 each. In SUMMARY Did we enjoy our cruise on Pacific Dawn? Yes. Will we go with P&O Australia again? Perhaps not, unless the price is really cheap. Maybe we were spoilt by our first cruise but the people I was with all want a ship with at least the same wow factor as Sun Princess. Pacific Dawn is quite a nice ship but it presents as a smaller ship, a little tired in some sections and lacking some of the facilities such as 24 hour buffet. On the other hand, it has excellent laundry facilities and better designed cabins with more comfortable beds. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Not your classical cruise experience, more like a party boat which suited most of the cruisers. It was rather more like a floating RSL club than a cruise-ship. Formal nights, which a lot of people enjoy have given way to a ... Read More
Not your classical cruise experience, more like a party boat which suited most of the cruisers. It was rather more like a floating RSL club than a cruise-ship. Formal nights, which a lot of people enjoy have given way to a "cocktail evening" with basically no dress code and no-one knowing what to wear resulting in half the ship's passengers not bothering at all. Embarkation was the best we have experienced so far, very efficient. Food was good, the service was not very good, wait staff were sometimes very grumpy. The entertainment was excellent, there was always something to do. The island night was great. Drinks are very expensive. Kids clubs were hopelessly undersized and hopelessly over populated. The spa was very nice (extra cost to use the sauna etc) It seemed to be a lot of wasted space and would make a very nice size entertainment area. All of the ports except Brisbane were tender crossings which were very long & rough and not for the faint hearted. The ship itself appeared to be past it's sell by date. Although having undergone a massive fitout at great expense there were obvious mechanical problems. One of the stabilizers was inoperative causing a lot of unnecessary rocking and rolling and there was a severe vibration at the rear of the ship causing people to be bounced up and down sometimes. It appears that the fitout was only a veneer hiding an old ship that would not be seen in US or UK waters. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf ... Read More
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf to the time we stepped foot in our cabin it was just under 30 minutes. One tip is to grab a Customs departure card from your travel Agent or next time you are at the airport and fill this in before leaving home. This will save you time and prevent you having to move out of the line to fill in, as several people had to. The Cabin Our cabin was 11174 an Outside cabin on the 11th deck (A deck). Slightly rear of mid ship. The first Outside cabin past the Balcony cabins. It was a good position, only about 20 metres from the Aft stairwell and lifts and only one level below the Plantation restaurant and pool deck. Although immediately below the pool deck we didn't hear much noise, only a couple of times did we hear tables being dragged on deck. Our bed was a queen configuration. Comfy mattress on a slat base. our empty suitcases just fitted underneath. Our room stewart Jomon must not have been use to Duvets as it was pretty well tucked in at the bottom for the first few days, only bringing it to half way up your chest. On one side of the bed you have a small set of four draws and a lamp. on the window side is the desk that also serves as the bed side cabinet with another four draws. All the original furniture from the Ocean Village apart from the TV. The desk would be about 1.4m long with lamp and phone. this is where the one and only power point is for the room. the only other power point is above the TV, but is English. So be sure to pack a double adaptor. The window is a good size. I would guess just over a metre square. The TV is a ViewSonic 22" flat screen and has AV (RCA plugs) along with PC, HDMI and USB connections. The picture quality of the in-house TV feeds is not that great. Other furniture in the room is a single armchair and a desk chair and a small round coffee table. The walk in wardrobe has a good amount of hanger space with 14 wooden coat hanger provided, but no spring clip pants or skirt hangers. There is eight draws about .8m wide with a cupboard above that houses your safe and life jackets. There is a good amount of space above the coat hangers for bulky items or even bags. Opposite the walk in wardrobe is three side by side full length mirrors which gives a good impression of lots of space. Between the main cabin area and the wardrobe is the small built in fridge and cabinet for glasses and supplies. the fridge is a clever design in that you can stand up a tall bottle of water or wine inside it, with enough room for cans to sit behind it. Below the fridge is a locked cupboard. Not sure what it contains. Above the fridge cupboard is a couple of well spaced glass shelves that house your pool towels. The bathroom/toilet is well laid out, but certainly a one person at a time job. The shower is about 1.5m long and .8m wide. The shower rose comes out of the corner, so a little strange. The water pressure is just OK. It has a single mixer control. Has a built in shampoo and conditioner shelf. The ship provides a combined shampoo/conditioner dispenser. It is a shower curtain and not a door, but the shower seems big enough that the shower curtain doesn't cling to you at all while taking a shower. Not too much vanity area around the sink, but has mirrored cupboards both sides of the main mirror. The they three shelves in each each. All the same height, but not just high enough to hold tall cans of hair spray/deodorant. Lighting is OK, but not fantastic. One thing I liked about the bathroom was there wasn't a big step or lip to get into the room. The actual toilet is angled off the corner, but has enough leg room. the entire bathroom appears to be one moulded unit. The WiFi internet connection was good in our room. Laundrette This was located on the 6th and 10th floor and had eight top loading washing machines (on the 10th floor one) which operated on a AU$2.00 coin. Some were a little tricky and you had to open a small compartment on top to trigger the reset switch to make it start. The load took approx 30 minutes on a normal cycle. The clothes driers were free, a 30 minute cycle just doesn't get the clothes fully dry if you have a full load. The Lounges and Bars This is where you can see that P&O has spent a bit of money. The Orient (Deck 7) This has an English pub feel to it, so not too sure why it was named The Orient. Lots of nice timber panels and earth tone fabric with a variety of seat types. this bar is used a lot for the Trivia sessions and accoustic artists. The port side has a corridor, but the starboard side corridor blends into the room which is a nice idea. Tap beer is available at this bar. Connexions (Deck 7) This neighbours The Orient, but would be nearly double in size. More popular with the younger cruisers that the Orient. Home of the Karaoke and the dance style bands. Also used during the days for the lectures and demonstrations. A lot of cane furniture used in this area. Once again uses the starboard side of the lounge as the corridor. The Atrium (Decks 5,6 & 7) A busy area of the ship with housing the photo gallery and shop. Duty Free shops, Shore Tour office and Reception. Charlies coffee shop and the Mix Bar (formerly Blue Bar).The three levels are used for the Laser light shows which are worth a look at. Pacific Cirque will also perform a few smaller shows here. Pre-dinner Piano music is also played here. One slight design fault is that the Shore Tour desks are besides the Reception so you get long lines going across the front of reception for the Shore Tour booking desks, they also need to look at putting in a third desk for the busy days. Also the Sold Out Tours board needs to be displayed where people line up rather than behind the desks where the brochures are. The Marquee (Deck 7 & 8) This is an area I'm sure they will change the design of with-in the next year to 18 months. Great size stage and fantastic new giant LCD screens that they can do wonders with for stage backgrounds and to act as stage sets. But the seating layout is crazy. Upstairs the balcony rail is right at the level of the stage sightline. They have gone for lots of individual movable seats and curved three seater couches. This cuts the capacity down to around 500 maximum I would guess. The bar at the rear of the theatre has a large amount of open area in front of it which does seem a waste of space. It also has two semi spiral staircases from level 7 to 8 which takes up valuable seating space. Once the theatre fills up (which seems to be earlier and earlier as the cruise went on) passengers stand in the corridors which blocks the views of those sitting in the back. Some of the bar stools have missing foot rails and in one case has a missing seat pad. Not a major to fix, but stayed like that for the entire cruise. The sound and lighting is very good, especially with the full height LCD screens. The Dome (Deck 14) This would be my favourite venue, both day and night. Fantastic views, great wide open feeling. Very comfy seating. Nice colouring and a good size bar. Generous size dance floor on a slightly lower level. A good venue for the late night comedy and other smaller shows. Top Decks (Decks 12 & 14) Home to three swimming pools and Pacific Cirque stage area and the giant 7m LCD screen. The pools were always in use, it did take a few days until the warmer weather for the adults to start using the swim up bar pool. However the water did look a little murky for the first couple of days. I'll cover the Pacific Cirque show later on, but great viewing advantage points from several points around decks 12 and 14. There is new decking and artificial grass on both levels and new coats of paint, but some areas have missed having a touch up altogether. An example is the Splash Bar has nice new tiles on the wall behind the drinks, but if you look up at the ceiling above the counter, the paintwork hasn't even been touched, with lots of stains and marks. The Oasis (Deck 8) We got caught out here on our first visit to this area at the rear of the ship. After we sat down on the very nice padded cane sun loungers, we were asked if we would like to book in for a half or full day session. The charge is AU$10 for 4 hours or AU$20 for 8 hours. That was the first and last time we visited the Oasis. The Gym and Spa (Deck 2) Not being Gym bunnies we didn't use the Gym, but we did go and have a noisy and spoke to a few people at dinner that did use it. The comments were all very favourable and that the equipment was all brand sparkling new. However the Steam room did play up a bit and was not operational a few times. As with all cruise ships the Spa and Salon prices were very expensive. Example of one of the specials. AU$139 for a 20-20-20 sampler. 75 minute Jewel Facial AU$275, Couples Seaweed Massage AU$399 for 75 minutes The Entertainment and the Entertainment Staff We have been on five previous cruises mainly on Princess and Royal Caribbean and would have to put the quality of the entertainment as some of the best we have seen. There has been a great variety in various venues. Some of the entertainment offered was Peter Byrne (Neil Diamond) Centre Stage(The Pacific Entertainers) James Galea - I Hate Rabbits (Magician)Bobby Dennis (Comedian) Clint Paddison (Comedian) Pirates 2 (The Pacific Entertainers) Acrobatic Show (Pacific Cirque) run Away To The Circus (The Pacific Entertainers) and the normal Game Shows involving the passengers. Zoltina J. was the Cruise Director and did an excellent job. She fronted all the main shows and lead the charge when it came to getting the passengers up and dancing. Her band of staff had their own strenghts and some weaknesses, but put a lot of energy into their roles. The Hit Machine were the party band on board and played a lot of the good party hits, although they didn't look old enough to be up as late as they did. Meals We have been spoilt in the past with a huge variety of food at the buffets on other ships and did find the selection a little dull in the Plantation restaurant. The was never hot in this restaurant, in fact the fried eggs on the last morning were stone cold. However, if you hadn't cruised before outside of the Pacific you would be very happy. It never seemed a problem to get a seat in the Plantation restaurant. Only had one lunch meal at The Grill and wasn't impressed. The meal was stone cold, but heard some great feed back from others about the quality and variety. We had all our evening meals at the Waterfront Restaurant, the lunch menu was very good. Once again you can see where they had spent their money on the refurbishment. Very nicely decorated and laid out. We sat in a variety of areas and at a variety of size tables. The service standard did vary a bit and you could tell the experienced wait staff. The Pacific Cirque It is nearly worth the cost of the cruise to see these guys perform. They were top standard and caused lots of grasps from the audience. Their show on the open deck was packed out, so get their early to secure a deck chair, however because of the height of their performance all areas on deck 12 and 14 are great viewing points. Their alternative show in the atrium combined with the laser show was also excellent. Movies The cinema on the Ocean Village was taken out to make room for the new Casino. The new 7m wide LCD screen on the top deck is a good alternative when the weather co-operates. Some of the movies played were: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE EAT,PRAY,LOVE ICE AGE 3 LETTERS TO JULIET MAMMA MIA THE ROMANTICS GREASE SHREK: FOREVER AFTER CHARLIE ST. CLOUD KARATE KID MAO'S LAST DANCE MARMADUKE THE SWITCH TAKERS Other activities on the big screen included Playstation and Wii competitions and a Special Bingo Game, plus a few concerts. As I said at the start, we have been spoilt by having been on a Royal Caribbean and a few Princess cruises so we were always comparing to those cruises. If you had not cruised before you would be over-whelmed. We did enjoy the cruise and met some great people and would mostly like do another P&O cruise again at some stage, but for the money we would first look at what other cruise lines had to offer. The NZ Customs and Ag Department boarded the ship in Noumea. Customs clearance was processed in The Dome on the 2nd to last day with a set appointment time. It took about five minutes if that and was a breeze. We were able to walk straight off the ship in Auckland, collect our bags and go. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We had a few changes on our planned cruise so there were no real surprises when there were changes during the cruise. We started out with a planned cruise on Pacific Pearl but a change by P&O saw that ship doing cruises out of NZ when ... Read More
We had a few changes on our planned cruise so there were no real surprises when there were changes during the cruise. We started out with a planned cruise on Pacific Pearl but a change by P&O saw that ship doing cruises out of NZ when we wanted to cruise. A change was made to Pacific Jewel as it was cruising to two of the best island stops, Ouvea and Champagne Bay, along with Noumea and Vila. About 6 months out from the cruise Ouvea was changed to Lifou, reportedly because the natives were restless. Been to Lifou several times and I can't say it is a standout port. BOARDING. We were pretty early for boarding so we dropped our bags so we could go for a wander about Darling Harbour. After getting our Health Questionaire I asked if I could get an Immigration Departure form. No, we don't give those out till you have checked in. These must be extremely expensive bits of paper that must be doled out sparingly. So instead of filling out the form at my own leisure in the 3 hours I had spare before boarding, I got to fill it out after checking in before going through Immigration. Luckily they didn't see me purloning another 6 of these valuable pieces of paper otherwise I could have got into serious trouble! Not a big thing, just silly and another reason why P&O stands for 'poorly organized' at times. Other than that the check in was quite fast. CABIN. Bigger than on Princess, light and airy and our cabin steward, Eric, was good. No problems at all. THE SHIP. Same same, but different from Pacific Dawn. Minor variations in decor and bar names with the exception of The Dome becoming The Spa. There is a small disco bar up on the stbd side but there isn't much room with 20 people in there. P&O obviously believe they can get better value out of the Spa than a bar, but it seemed pretty deserted each time I stuck my head in there. The Waterfront Restaurant has a pretty good decor and the Plantation isn't that bad either. ENTERTAINMENT. Variable, standard RSL guest entertainers and production shows. The best night was the Circus show, very good. Pacific Pop Star featured very good singers from the passengers,some were better than the ship's entertainers. CRUISE DIRECTOR. Noortje from the Netherlands. Looking at the spelling we started calling her 'naughty girl'. In a word:- hopeless! I used to think Demo was a bit of a dill but she has set a new low standard. THEME NIGHTS. I don't know why P&O even bother. They do nothing to promote them onboard, there is limited pre cruise info and they swap them about willy nilly. No retro or rock n roll night but we had a pirate night follower by an island night. These two are so close in concept and dress etc that a separate nights are a waste. How much of this shambolic effort is due to the CD is unknown. Give me the good old Fairstar theme nights any time. FOOD. Generally very good. I think it is even better than the fare offered up by Princess. None of the higher end dishes, eg lobster, but what we did get was well done. Having a good waiter also improves the meal. I'm no fan of Anytime Dining as you can end up anywhere with anybody. It is defacto First and Second seating anyway because it is virtually impossible to book a table around 7:00 PM because the place fills up after 6:00 and nothing is available. We ended up rebooking the same table at 8:00 as we had a superb waiter (Budi on table 147) and everything flowed smoothly. Tried set lunch a few times and it was also very good. Prefer the Plantation buffet breakfast though. PORTS ETC. The weather started to intervene at Port Vila and a tropical low, eventually to develop into Cyclone Ata, off Champagne Bay saw that stop cancelled. Throughout the next couple days the Captain kept us all informed of the situation and efforts being made to find alternatives. We headed south and he tried to get us into the Isle of Pines but the cyclone was following us and it became a bit dicey for the tenders. He eventually arranged a scenic cruise around Balls Pyramid and Lord Howe Island on the way back to Sydney. We have been very lucky to do this as cruise ships don't go near there very often. The skipper in a word:- superb. The ship lacks a big second entertainment area like the Sky, Sun or Dawn Princess because of the location of the restaurant. Connextions was always crowded for various events karaoke, trivia etc. If you could get a combination of Princess and P&O it would be a pretty good cruise. Last but not least, the Carnival cost cutting is evident but the product is still pretty good but it could be better. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
The actual port of embarkation/disembarkation is Brisbane.Embarkation: A nightmare!! We arrived at the cruise terminal at Hamilton Brisbane around 10:20am and found every single other person must have arrived at the same time! It took us ... Read More
The actual port of embarkation/disembarkation is Brisbane.Embarkation: A nightmare!! We arrived at the cruise terminal at Hamilton Brisbane around 10:20am and found every single other person must have arrived at the same time! It took us almost an hour and half from arriving to actually boarding the ship. Not good with two young children. Our 3 yr old was particularly distressed by the time we were nearly boarding.A tip...take your own pen to fill out the necessary forms. P&O appear too stingy to supply any and so we had to borrow one of a couple of different people as I had accidently packed ours in our main luggage rather than the carry on variety...bad idea!! With our previous cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas, we had no such embarkation problems. I did speak to some people who have previously cruised on the Dawn. They said they have never seen it that bad before so perhaps it was just a one off. Room: we had an obstructed view cabin on deck 8. Very spacious compared to our similar room on the Rhapsody. The shower/bathroom was larger on the Dawn for starters and we had more cupboard space. The fridge was a good addition (ice bucket only on Rhapsody) plus a more modern flat screen TV (not that we used it much). We were quite impressed with the room. Well done P&O. We had no major noise issues during the cruise except for the party people in the cabin next door. Can't do much about that though.Casual/Buffet Food: very disappointed with the buffet (Cafe Del Sol). Nothing like the Rhapsody of the Seas. Didn't appreciate having to join a long line of people just in order to get very inadequate food most of the time. P&O would do well to look at the way RCI does a buffet. Much more choice (and no lining up!) onboard the Rhapsody. A definite thumbs down for this. Having said that, I did speak to a first time cruiser who absolutely loved the buffet. I guess when you have nothing to compare it to, you may be impressed. Not much choice in the way of included drinks either. RCI at least has lemonade and fruit punch in addition to water at it's drink stations. No hot chocolate included for the kids either on P&O (I don't a hot choc either). Having fries available for lunch free but then charging for them at night is a bit bewildering too P&O. I also missed the complimentary pizza, chips, hotdogs and hamburgers that the Rhapsody has by it's indoor pool up till 2am in the morning. The Dawn didn't even have pizza from what I could tell, and you had to pay extra for a hamburger or hotdog at the Grill. On a positive note they did a kid's tea time menu in the buffet which was great for our kids.Main Dining: food here was very good to excellent. Staff were quite attentive and we didn't have to wait long for service and/or food etc. Plenty of choice, unlike the buffet, and much more included (kids and I appreciated ice-cream & chips without extra charge lol).If we cruise on the Dawn again we will be spending most of our eating time here. Lesson learnt...We didn't dine at the Salt Grill. We didn't particular want to part with $40 per person ourselves, but from the people we spoke to who did, they enjoyed it.Children's Clubs: my two children were in Turtle Cove (3-6 yr olds). They had a blast!! We had trouble keeping them out of there! Good facilities with friendly staff. Good work P&O.Public Areas: these were nicer than I expected for a 3 & a half star older ship. Ok, they weren't as good as Rhapsody, but I never expected them to be. Everything was generally tidy and clean looking most of the time.Entertainment: was hit and miss but overall not too bad. We particularly enjoyed the circus performances and the Pirates of the Pacific show. The champagne waterfall was a waste of time for us...we stayed to watch as I've seen some people whinge about one not being included on certain cruises. Must be an older person thing. Ports: 1st port of call was Noumea. We went here on our last cruise. Not particularly fond of Noumea but the chocolate shop that someone recommended on here was worth a look. A little expensive but I haven't tasted chocolate like it...very nice indeed. 2nd stop was at Lifou. Beautiful place. Would go back there tomorrow as we love to swim and snorkel. Very good snorkeling on the other side of the island (about a 10 - 15min walk from where you land) at Jinek Bay. I could've spent hours there. Got some great underwater shots from that location.3rd stop was Port Vila Vanuatu. Another beautiful place with many different activities to do. Cheap duty free shopping in town. Got a bottle of Jim Beam 2L for $20 and 2 bottles of 1L Smirnoff Vodka for $23. There may have been cheaper shops around as we only visited the one place in town, but we were more concerned about getting to Hideaway Is to swim and snorkel. We loved this place. A little, uncrowded tropical island with great swimming and good snorkeling. It has the world's only underwater post office (apparently). A gimmick I know, but I couldn't resist. We had to send a couple of letters lol. We would also go back here in a heartbeat.Disembarkation: a hell of a lot better than getting on! We were off the ship and in our car in around 20 minutes or so. Not too bad at all.All in all, we had a great time on this holiday with our kids and we would certainly consider doing it again if the right circumstances came up. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Have just returned from a 3 night "cruise" aboard the Pacific Jewel. First the good: Fabulous cabin. Had a twin bed inside on deck 11 one of the cheapest 2 bed cabins available but it was huge and very comfortable and very ... Read More
Have just returned from a 3 night "cruise" aboard the Pacific Jewel. First the good: Fabulous cabin. Had a twin bed inside on deck 11 one of the cheapest 2 bed cabins available but it was huge and very comfortable and very clean. Next time will get a cabin with a window or balcony but inside cabin was fine for 3 nights and it was cheap. Excellent food. Both the buffet and the silver service dining room (Waterfront Restaurant) the only 2 dining areas where you didn't have to pay to eat were excellent. We did not try the other restaurants where you have to pay although we tried to get into the Salt Grill a couple of hours after we boarded but it was booked out for the whole cruise. Very good entertainment Loved the Plantation restaurant - sitting in comfort, enjoying nice food and looking at the fabulous view - bliss Cabin steward was excellent Ship in very good condition We did not find ourselves having to queue much at all. We booked for dinner every night and we avoided the dinner queue which was quite long some nights. However see my comment below about the problems with having the book for dinner every night and not being sure you will get in. Cost of cruise was very reasonable And now the not so good ... We were supposed to depart at 4pm and spend 3 days cruising. Instead we departed around midnight and sailed down the coast to Jervis Bay where we dropped anchor around mid morning the next day. We remained there until the following day when we sailed back to Sydney. The reason given by the cruise director for doing this was to avoid the rough weather further out to sea. On the last morning we learned from a fellow passenger that the same thing happened when he went on a 3 night P&O cruise a couple of months earlier. He said however there were no rough seas on that cruise so the reason for dropping anchor at Jervis Bay was a mystery. There is of course a massive saving in fuel costs when a ship stays put rather than sailing around the ocean. the open air circus on the top open air deck near the pools, which I believe is unique to Pacific Jewel, was scheduled for the night we left Sydney. It was raining all day that day and the forecast was for more showers in the evening. After boarding we were told that the circus had been cancelled "due to the rain". It was not rescheduled for another evening. It is a mystery why it was scheduled for the first evening when the weather was so wet and why it was not rescheduled for the following evening or the evening after. No satisfactory explanation was given. Having to book a table for dinner at the silver service dining room (the only dining room/restaurant where you did not have to pay to eat - apart from the buffet)was very stressful. There was only one hotline number to ring and whenever you rang, the number was engaged so you had to ring many many times before you got onto someone. If you didn't ring and book soon enough you could miss out on a table at the dining room and would have to go to the buffet. Most people are on holidays to get away from stress so this kind of arrangement is not good. I believe with some other lines you book meal times when you book your cruise. meal time options were either too early or too late. The options were 5.30pm, 6pm, 8pm and one other which I think was some time after 8pm. Would probably not sail with P&O again because of the Jervis Bay issue. Some tips: You don't need to take a lanyard with you or buy one on board. A piece of thin (round) hat elastic is all you need. Poke it through the hole at the top of the cruise card and the door key and tie a knot and put it around your neck. Simple and very cheap. Don't forget to take your phone charger with you Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
I have previously sailed with Royal Carribean (RCI) & so have reasonable expectations of service & style. Unfortunately my cruise last year on Pacific Dawn was a bit of a let down by comparrison.I sailed with my elderly mother ... Read More
I have previously sailed with Royal Carribean (RCI) & so have reasonable expectations of service & style. Unfortunately my cruise last year on Pacific Dawn was a bit of a let down by comparrison.I sailed with my elderly mother & teenage daughter during the school holidays. & overall I just could not help but compare the two lines. P&O was left wanting in almost every capacity. I felt the food on the Dawn in the cafe was on par with a very average club bistro, was consistently at a 'just' warm enough temperature, lacked continuity (ie bolognaise sauce, but then no spaghetti etc)& limited choice that would appeal to kids considering it was a school holiday cruise. The pool side set up for lunch was reasonable but limited again in choice for kids(IE not to many kids enjoyed the choice between prawn croissants or turkey & blue cheese wraps) nice by my standards but not theirs... so chips 'again' it was for many of them! The dinning room, if you could manage to get in every night, had some good points but always either felt rushed or drawn out never a happy medium. Choices for a teenager were scarce. Meal sizes were inconsistent, at times poorly cooked & only just warm. In comparison to RCI, where every meal was an adventure served up by the most attentive of waiters, there is just no comparison. For the most part, with difficulty at times getting into the dinning room , & lack of variety in the bistro for dinner,I just always felt that I was being forced into paying the additional money at one of the 'exclusive' restaurants. To go back to the topic of attentive service, this was another point of no comparison. The P&O staff for the most part just didn't seem to care if passengers were having a good time. Were at times quite rude & left you thinking even the most basic of requests was a huge inconvenience. Nothing like the diligence & attention to detail of all staff I came into contact with on RCI. The entertainment was hit & miss. The circus was excellent, very talented & skilled individuals. The stage shows however left a lot to be desired. The singing & dancing was again fairly club like & seemed to lack imagination. The guest artists were OK I guess... if you were 70! I just wish cruise lines in general would keep up with their demographics. The passengers are not all 70 & would like some of the evening stage shows to be a little more updated with perhaps a more modern line up of music, not just the number 1 hits of the 50's! Overall I was left with a bit of a sense of disappointment with it all. With so many cruise lines now choosing to service Australia & at generally comparative or lesser costs, P&O should really take a lesson in service, & attention to detail from the other lines lest they loose many to these other international lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
yes, This is not the QEII. it is a bit like going out to dinner at the local bistro at the pub or an RSL. yes it caters to a lower socio economic class. not that this is a bad thing, just be prepared. the price reflects this, it is ... Read More
yes, This is not the QEII. it is a bit like going out to dinner at the local bistro at the pub or an RSL. yes it caters to a lower socio economic class. not that this is a bad thing, just be prepared. the price reflects this, it is very good value for money. treat the experience as being on an overnight ferry to a destination rather than as a cruise per se. there are many things to do on board whilst you are en route. you will be able to do whatever you want and if this means sitting doing nothing then great, reading then great, eating, playing in the naff activities etc all good.funnily enough the casino was muuuuuch better than the casinos you get in australia i.e nowhere near as much kitsch and flashing lights etc. Ports of call. I loved noumea and port vila. mystery island is dull and not worth it. Pentecost island was ok but all a bit staged, the best was getting away from the crowds and wandering away for a bit. food is excellent for the price. the crowd expects quantity and they give that. sure it is not the top quality but you are at the floating equivalent of a pub bistro and you are paying a low price because of it. drinks. i cannot stand companies that impose restrictions on what you can consume/take on board/etc. it is a nannying way to do things. BUT having said that with the crowd on board it would have become extremely boozy and i reckon as aggressive as a drunk cricket crowd if there was bring your own alcohol. it wasnt too expensive i dont know where everyone buys their drinks perhaps at the rsl or leagues clubs but really, compared with melbourne city (and i suspect sydney as well) prices it was very reasonable. staff are all great. they are an international staff (canadian entertainment, romanian croupiers, indian bar staff, filipino wait staff and english and italian in charge of the ship) and the standards of service are higher than that you often get in australian pubs/bistros/casinos etc. Embarkation. p and o were fine despite the chaos at the dock. security in australia were ridiculous. asking people to go through metal detectors to get on an enormous ship is absurd. once you are through you find your own way which i thought was good. i do not want to be hassled forever by staff and this is something that p and o were good at - ie leaving you be. compare that with being on any aircraft with constant nagging by staff. summary - if you want a "cruise" in the sense of a romantic/high quality/olde world type experience, don't go on P&O. if you just want a cheap holiday without the hassle of getting on an aircraft etc, with plenty of food and things to do or not to do, then treat the ship as a ferry and enjoy yourself. that's what we all did and had a pretty good time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We just did a cruise on P&O's Pacific Jewel, a three day "Food & Wine" cruise out of Sydney.This is the first time I have tried P&O, hence the three day cruise, also it left on my partners birthday, easy ... Read More
We just did a cruise on P&O's Pacific Jewel, a three day "Food & Wine" cruise out of Sydney.This is the first time I have tried P&O, hence the three day cruise, also it left on my partners birthday, easy present.It was scheduled to leave at 4pm, the Captain announced at 3.30pm that we would not be leaving until 7.30, it left the dock at 11.30pm, there was no further announcement from the Bridge re this, so much for the "sail away party" and being kept fully informed as advised at 3.30.I was told when booking that it sailed for three days to nowhere, but it sailed over night to Jervis Bay and dropped anchor next morning and stayed there until late next afternoon, not much sailing to be had, it sailed late afternoon on the second day to return to Sydney so mostly at night, so much for sitting on the balcony to enjoy the ocean.First night we had dinner in Salt Restaurant, the service and food were superb, well worth the extra charge ($40.00pp).From this point trying to organise anything was a chore, you had to stand in line,this took up to 45 minutes to try and get into any of the talks that were part of the "Food & Wine " aspect of the cruise.After enduring this, I must admit I'm not good standing in queues, when you finally reached the counter you were then told that what you wanted to do was fully booked.Not a good start, the organisation of this was abysmal.I then went back to the cabin to call the other restaurants we wanted to try, well it did not get any better, i was told i could not book for the following night and had to call back the next morning from 8am, i informed the person on the other end of the phone that i had been trying to get thru for 15 minutes, ( it seemed like hours having to dial the number over and over), they just said thats how it is.I was on the phone next morning at 8am, by the time i was answered,8.10am, La Luna the other restaurant was fully booked.We went to the Waterfront Restaurant the second night, this is the standard restaurant for the ship, i had booked in advance asking for a table for two only and was happy to wait until this could be done, we arrived at 8.00pm and was told no this was not available and we had to sit at a shared table, the service was erratic and slow, when the food arrived it was just warm, getting a wine list was a whole other experience.The cabin we had 11123 was a mini-suite, the best this ship could offer, it was well laid out, spacious and clean, the bed was good and the sheets/linen were of good quality.We didn't have in the room the inclusions that were promised with this level of cabin, i had to phone to request these, i was told the steward must have forgot to put them in the cabin.The one huge concern was the noise from the deck above, we were under the pool deck, normally not a concern, but on this ship the tables and chairs being dragged around by people just using them came straight thru the ceiling, it was unbelievable the amount of noise, it keep you awake at night and woke you up early in the morning.This level of cabin on this ship is a huge waste of money, opt for the standard balcony cabin on deck 10, it might be half the size but it will be quite and you will get a full nights sleep.Over all the ship was what was expected i suppose, ( cheap & cheerful) I was hoping for more, the staff appeared to be over worked and looked on average unhappy and tired,getting a drink at some of the bars was plain hard work, to the extent I walked off, the food was very average, good if you like warm to cold.The pay to use restaurants were very good and well worth the extra charge, the staff were very helpful, friendly and the food was hot and very tasty.As a mini-suite customer you really get nothing extra except more space in the cabin and the noise from above killed the enjoyment of that.It was worth a try, but i will not be boarding the Pacific Jewel again and will think twice before trying another P&O ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Pacific Dawn: P&O Australia. Sail date 21st May 2011, 11 nights New Caledonia & Vanuatu. After reading past reviews of this ship and after viewing past drunken passengers videos on youtube, we were a little hesitant about stepping ... Read More
Pacific Dawn: P&O Australia. Sail date 21st May 2011, 11 nights New Caledonia & Vanuatu. After reading past reviews of this ship and after viewing past drunken passengers videos on youtube, we were a little hesitant about stepping onboard P&O Australia's publicized ship of "Brisbane's First Super Liner". This is no Super Liner, once it may have been but, those days for this ship have long gone. The ship is 21 years old and sadly now is showing her age badly. The previous day to our embarkation we received a text and email from P&O Australia confirming that the ship had hit bad weather on the return leg to Brisbane and this would delay the departure of our cruise time. In the end, due to tide restraints I suspect, the actual delay was only 1 hour. I checked the bridge cam at 6.30am on departure day and it was already secure and tide up at the cruise terminal. We arrive at the terminal at 11.30am to find utter chaos, people everywhere and, only one visible P&O shore staff outside. We knew the drill and it was easy to see where we were to depart with our cases, already tagged with cabin numbers, to the porters loading the conveyor belt. We then go inside the terminal to find a very long snake line with literally hundreds of people waiting in-line to be checked in. At least 20 staff were busy taking passenger's identity pictures and giving out cruise cards. We soon arrived at our check-in agent, considering the numbers checking in about 30 minutes. Given a number to board, we then waited to board, just after 1pm before our numbers were called. Another line to be scanned and security cleared prior to boarding. Finally we are on board at 1.15pm. No staff directing anyone that we could see, but being past cruisers we knew the drill, find the lifts, go to your deck and look for the ships deck plan and find your cabin number. At the cabin, key card into the slot, open the door to immediately see that the carpet was old, dirty, and threadbare around the edges and did not even fit to the walls of the cabin. Check the fridge and that too was dirty. Bathroom, immaculate, what a relief. The glass patio door to the balcony nor the fixed glass pane had not been cleaned for a very long time, it was filthy dirty. Never on a cruise ship have I ever seen such dirty windows both inside and out upon arrival. The balcony had lots of old paint flaked from the balcony chairs. The balcony floor was covered with flaked bits of rust and paint from the ships structure and from the chairs. It is clear that the balcony to this cabin is not cleaned on a regular basis. We leave our hand luggage and go to the buffet for lunch. A more detailed review of the buffet will be covered later. Lunch taken, we explore the ship and take pictures before the ship is packed to capacity. 30 minutes later we have discovered everywhere and even find the library, locked with no staff in sight. We later found out that this library is not maintained by P&O Australia and the books therein were left over by the last shipping line and is currently topped up with gifts, books left by past passengers. Also the library has very limited opening times unlike say Princess who leave the library open all of the time and you sign in and out your own books for reading. We found the ships dancers manning the library, knowing nothing about the books, clearly the books were originally intended for American readers. The quality of the books is shameful. I read one of these books "Miracle in the Andes" which incidentally is a great book and once you pick it up you will be unable to put it down. But the condition of the book had the entire picture pages loose, just stuffed inside. There were several books in this state. For a supposedly luxury cruise ship, this was a disgrace. Now we return to our cabin, my suitcase has arrived so I duly unpack. The steward arrives and introduces herself. I point out the dirty stain marks all over the carpet and she agrees that it has to be cleaned. She also informs me that out of the 17 cabins she takes care of each day, 6 of them have carpets in this sate. I never saw evidence of this, as all others that I could see seemed to have been refitted with newer carpets than this BC grade cabin which for 11 days we had paid $4998.00.($454 a day) 20 minutes later the deck supervisor arrived, the steward had called him in to take a look. We were then told that the past passengers of this cabin had wrecked the room, damaging both bedside light switches and spilling red wine all over the carpet plus other liquids. No doubt the liquid stains on the glass window/door were also the result of the cabin being trashed. The supervisor says that he will get the carpet shampooed and cleaned the next day. We accept this but point out that some of these stains are not only past guest's accidents or whatever, but caused by age and time from a rusting superstructure. We point to the very large rust water marks which is evident of time, for a re-fit but we do not mention that fact. The next day, true to his word, whilst we are away from the cabin for breakfast the cleaners are in and shampoo the carpet, only the affected area and not the whole cabin. We are informed that the stains are too bad to be removed and that they will change the carpet. We are surprised that they carry spare carpets on-board but leave the cabin for two hours and return after lunch. The carpet has been replaced and fitted, badly but hey, they did it in two hours and at sea. Upon arrival we also checked the pillows to see if they are clean. Our past experiences tells us, pillows on cruise ships are often overlooked for washing. When we remove the pillow protectors all 4 pillows are badly stained with other peoples perspiration/sweat and all pillows have deep yellow marks and smell very badly of odour. Immediately the steward, who has seen this a thousand times I'd imagine, brings new ones and apologises but blames the time frame of change over-day and all she has to do in such a short time. We accept this and sympathize with her situation of 17 cabins and a complete change around. We cleaned the fridge ourselves and never mentioned the dirty glass windows, hoping that as like other cruise ships, the window glass would be cleaned at some point during our cruise vacation. Sadly, on this ship they were never cleaned nor was the balcony. The same paint chips scattered around the balcony were there at the end, the very same one's which were there on day one. Our light switch was fixed on day three, after we again had pointed this out to the steward that it was a safety issue, a piece of insulation tape over the top of bare electricity power wires is not a safe way to protect you when using a switch in the darkness of the night, or half asleep. Dining Onboard: The main restaurant has seating for 800 as we were informed by the crew. With 1760 passengers on our cruise, is this why they choose to name the dining as 'Anytime dining'. Open and anytime it may be called but open timing it most certainly is not. On the first night we had requested a table upon booking the restaurant for 8 or 10. Upon entering the restaurant we were shown to a table of 6. 4 others were already there and eating. Having nothing of this, we return to the front where the staff are all huddled and demand a large table as requested. They must keep table 133 on the first night for people who will not be just put anywhere, as everyone on the table had a similar experience. Nevertheless, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the whole table turned out to be one of the very best we have ever experienced on any one of our 22 cruises so far. We all then tried to book this same table the next night for 6.30pm, after all it is anytime dining. We were then told no, this table is only used at 6pm or 8pm, now what do you wish. 6.30 We say, no they say, 6 or 8. We insist its anytime dining so they say you can have table 78, which we accepted. At table 78 we can see table 133 is still unoccupied. We call the waiter and he's amazed we were not allowed the same table. How do they expect you to tip a particular waiter at the end of a cruise if you cannot join the same table every night if you should so wish? From that night on, we conformed to what they wanted and relented to a 6pm dinner time. Thus we now have table 133, the same waiter who I know is happy as at the end of the cruise as every single couple on the table tipped him well, making his cruise with us or ours with worthwhile. The quality of the food was good. 7-8 out of 10(7-8/10) Not as good as Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and not in the same class at all as Cunard and P&O UK, let alone Crystal. Nevertheless, although portion size was restrictive, you could ask for double portion is you wished. I loved the portion size control as this is my first cruise where I actually left the ship losing half a kilo rather than putting on 3 - 4. So I was happy, very happy. Tipping: As this ship and all of the P&O Australia fleet advertise. The ship has a no tipping policy. Yes I know in Australia in general one does not have to tip. I actually agree with this policy wholeheartedly and agree with not having to tip as is compelled to in the United States. But quickly here, the food prices in the states are much cheaper than here in Australia and the wages paid to waiters in the USA is very low compared to here. So USA, yes tipping is necessary where as in Australia tipping is not necessary. However on a cruise ship it has always been that the cruise lines makes a mint out of you and, then you are advised that you have to tip as well. Doesn't seem fare does it. Until you dig deeper and find out that these stewards and waiters do this for normally $50 a week and rely on your tips to make up their wages to maintain their families in their own homelands. An example of this is say a steward would get on average $5 a day tip, over a week that's $35 multiply that by the 17 that's $595 plus his $50 and you're up to $645. But again remembering that they work very long hours and 7 days a week for 8-9 months for that. Then they have 2-5 months out of work waiting for their next contract. The reason they do it, simple, the need to feed their families, as at home at best they could only expect to earn $50 a week. So by going on these cruise ships, they are actually much better off, financially that is. Now back to P&O Australia, they now pay these Stewards & Waiters $200-250 per week. And say it's not necessary to tip, but in so doing they have removed half of their possible wage. This is why, some of you may have experienced some slack service at times. But we never did, and most whom we talked with, were still tipping their waiters and stewards. Good on you all, is what I can say. That's how it should be. After all, working 7 days a week for 6 or 8 months is no easy task. Alcohol Policy: This ship has a strict BRING NO alcohol on board policy. They just want you to buy everything on board at very much inflated prices. They do not pay duty and tax on their prices but you are paying equal to or more than what you would here in Australia. Apart from the couple of cheaply priced wines in the restaurants, the rest is expensive and not even reasonable. The ship x-rays your luggage as it boards your cases and, if you are seen with an empty or full bottle of alcohol in your luggage it will be securely kept for you and returned after the cruise. You will be called down to deck 4 to open and have your case inspected and your booty confiscated. Some cruise lines within the Carnival banner, will allow you to bring alcohol onboard with you. Some will even supply it to you in your cabin at Duty Free prices and some lines will even provide you with a fully stocked mini bar for your own in cabin consumption, whilst others will provide you with two bottles of spirits along with mixers all included in your booking price. So for this Cruise line or any cruise line with this restrictive policy of allowing no alcohol in your cabin because as they say, they have a responsible alcohol policies to ensue you do not drink yourself silly. They are blatantly and knowingly infringing your human rights. They are treating you as irresponsible adults and not someone enjoying a holiday, where yes, most of us will have a wee drink or two. If a hotel stopped you from carrying in your own alcohol there would be an outcry but, for a ship this type of search and remove is okay. Remember these rules that this particular cruise line have introduced as only enforceable if passengers agree to these restrictions. Everyone should make a stand and everyone should pack empty spirit bottles or full ones in the cases that way, they just could not handle 1760 passengers' bags all lines up in a 4m x 4 area on deck 4 to be opened. They just couldn't cope. But we are all used to being told what we should do and not do, in this dictatorial world, our freedoms are slowing being eroded from us all everyday. This is yet just another one of those silly rules which should be banished. Party Ship: The entertainment staff encourages all guests to attend the dome after 10.30pm each evening to party. Indeed the Entertainment Manager always mentioned the dome and its activities after each evening shown in the show lounge. They hold different events in the dome, it seems, precisely designed to encourage you to drink and party to the small hours. The videos on Youtube are evidence of such antics and carryings on which emulates from too much alcohol. Also the onboard video produced for you to buy as a memento, also captures these party events. Showing copious amounts of alcohol being served and people being just plain silly. The ship definitely has a party type atmosphere feel about it, right from the sail away parties, to the so describe 'fun party nights' in the dome. Saying all of that, which is true, downstairs in the lounges and bars I never once encountered rowdy or drunken behaviour associated with too much alcohol. So maybe, and I mean just maybe, P&O Australia by segregating these party nights up in the dome away from the other public areas, are possibly better able to control the hot, shake it all about and must be loud types. Thus able to cater for all, be that young, middle aged or old-en's on the same cruise ship. Where other ships actually only cater for middle aged and the older generation. This is possibly why the P&O Australia ships are filled with all age groups from kids to grannies. All which seem to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere onboard generated by all of the crew. Our cruise was outside of the school holidays, nevertheless, we encountered at least 60 children onboard whose parents had taken them out of school. Buffet Restaurant: Breakfasts here would be a delight for most. They served each and everyday an excellent full cooked English breakfast, where you could order your eggs as you liked. The bacon was short-back and not streaky as most cruise lines use. The cereal section was limited to about 5 varieties but hey, if you couldn't choose something else then you really are being too picky. There were always lines to grab a tray and plates, the line moved quickly. Out of 10, I would have to give them 9/10 for the breakfast. This they excelled at: Lunchtime: Here too the variety was always different in the hot section. The cold and salad section was nearly always the same or very similar. The cold meats were limited to just two varieties per day and was repeated nearly the same everyday. Only occasionally were the mortadella and salami replaced with something else. The bread was small slices, airy and of no substance. A very light bread. The rolls we small and only white or white offered. Occasionally a brown one would be offered. So to make a sandwich was almost impossible as the size of the bread was one bite and it would be gone. Only on one day, were filled round larger bap type rolls on offer. I suspect left over from the deck barbeque the previous day. I had one and it made a very nice change from the mouthful of air bread previously encountered on other days. For the first 7 days no waiters offered us any drinks with our lunch. I did see a drinks station tucked up at the end and thought that on this ship they had done away with the wine waiters at lunchtimes. On the last 3 days it seemed that all the waiters had been instructed to drum up and sell more alcohol at lunchtimes, as everyone came around trying to persuade us to max out our cards. Maybe they had been put on a bonus scheme or they had not reached their targets of selling enough alcohol. Overall the lunchtime quality and service was not as good as the Palm restaurant of the evening. The carpets around the edges under the windows were never cleaned whilst we were onboard, food droppings were there from one day to the next. Although the main carpet was cleaned just not behind the tables next to the windows. Also the air vents above the dining area were all full of dust, not cleaned in a very, very long time. This really does need immediate attention. Overall at lunchtimes including service 7/10. Never used the buffet for an evening adventure as we prefer the formality of a full service restaurant. Entertainment: Show times were designed for you to spend extra times in the bars and to spend more money onboard. Considering dining times are classed as open but in reality its 5.30 to 6pm and 8-8.30pm, the shown times were constantly 7.30pm and 9.30 pm. Making it impossible for anyone dining at 8pm to see a show. On other ships Showtime's are 6.15 for second sitting passengers and 8.15 for first seating passengers. Occasionally on some it has been 8pm and 10pm. All of these times allow all passengers to see a show, not on this ship though. Consequently the 7.30 shows were always packed out and the 9.30 ones only half full. But the bars were always full of people spending money and drinking. I guess they have it planned out that way. Bugger the passengers as long as the ships making money. The quality of the shows was poor in comparison to the other cruise lines mentioned already in this review. We did have 5 shows on this 11 night cruise but you could not call them Broadway or West End adaptations. Disappointing after being spoiled in the past by other cruise lines with their style and quality of theatre style entertainment. Ports of call: One has to do it to say you have done it. Out of the 6 ports of call only two were actual ports of call, all the others we anchor offshore and tender in. After 4 tender ports you really are all done with tendering. Yes it costs the cruise lines much less to anchor offshore rather than find a port that can take your size ship. But for you as the passenger, it's a hassle , line up for tender tickets, line up to get out and then line up to get back to the ship. Tender ports generally are places which are less habited and therefore you will have less to do. If you are from Queensland, nothing beats a Queensland sandy beach. Not even one in French New Caledonia or Vanuatu. So don't expect to be thrilled or exasperated by the places in the middle of the South Pacific. Just enjoy the ride and enjoy the cruise the rest is just not on my radar screen as enjoyment. A walk past a pig with its front leg tied to a tree a goat too. Or a baby turtle in a washing bowel where you will be charged $2 to take a picture. This is animal cruelty and the cruise ship which organizes these types of stops should inform the land owners that unless they stop this type of ridiculous tourist trap behaviour they will no longer call there. That way, this animal cruelty will be not seen as a way to earn money from these cruise ships. The only port worth another visit was La Vila. Many of the cruise passengers were first time cruisers, one can see why when the ports of call out of Brisbane and Sydney are limited to these outcast Islands of new Caledonia and Vanuatu apart from of course beautiful New Zealand. But there are only so many times you can cruise the New Zealand without it becoming too familiar. Overall: P&O do an excellent job of filling their ships, considering the real lack of real ports of call. They price their product which attracts not only older cruisers but families with young children. The downside is that the quality of the product overall must lie within the price and as such, don't expect to be on Cunard's Queen Mary or on one of the many ships that sail under the P&O UK flag. The Australian ships may have the same P&O flag but the two products are light years apart. The ships of P&O Australia are the cast off's of other lines within the Carnival brand, which they themselves have been awarded the newer much more elegant and updated ships of the 21st century. Considering that this ship had a major refit in May 2010, clearly our cabin on B deck was missed. Whilst it was clear that the majority had received new carpets it was disappointing to have been allocated one which clearly missed the inspections just 12 months ago. The public rooms clearly have received a refit and looked good for a ship 21 years old. Sadly I am sorry to report that the painting maintenance and lack of general cleaning in parts is letting the brand down. I hope that soon they put this right as the costs associated with a refit which are astronomical in financial terms, will all have been lost in a couple of years without the maintenance upkeep needed with such a vessel. The ships officers and crew on all ships do a remarkable job, this ship was no different, they are small floating cities each with their own charm and deportment. Would I sail on a P&O Australia ship again, not if I had another option or they upgraded their quality of product, which I cannot see them being able to do with the limited numbers of people within easy reach of Australia. Most passengers originated from within Australia, unlike other cruise lines which seem to attract guests from all over the world. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My wife & I booked this cruise looking for a relaxing time, but in many ways although cruise OK, many things on this ship were lacking in quality/standard. Our previous experience has been HAL in Alaska, Europe & Eastern ... Read More
My wife & I booked this cruise looking for a relaxing time, but in many ways although cruise OK, many things on this ship were lacking in quality/standard. Our previous experience has been HAL in Alaska, Europe & Eastern Mediterranean, and Princess to Tasmania. HAL way ahead in all categories with Princess not far behind. We still quietly enjoyed the relaxation even though it lost its gloss via lack of attention to detail.We deliberately chose a higher midships inside stateroom having experienced outside & verandah previously, as we only use it for sleeping. Found the stateroom tidy clean - nothing flash. Steward good but nothing personal in manner.The ship, we were told was just 18 months out of having substantial dollars spent on refurbishment. Waste of money and a prime example of P&O Aust. (or Carnival Corp's)policy of hand me down ships to the aussie cruise market. Many parts of the ship are very tired and dated. Movement around the ship is not a comfortable exercise, does not flow particularly as it has no complete promenade type deck. It has no top decks lounge area such as the usual crows nest, a legacy of being handed down from the German market I'm told. It also lacks comfortable & quiet lounge furniture & areas throughout. Elevators constantly out of service. Lower accommodation very noisy from worn machinery (stabilisers I believe) with some people asking for moves away so to sleep.Below, to save space & time is a dot point summary of the cruiseEmbarkation Process - Very GoodWelcome on board - NoneDirections to stateroom - NoneSail Away Party - ordinary and loud on Lido Crew - mostly offhanded behaviour, appeared poorly trained but found the occasional good & helpful steward.Dining Room - Food was good to very good but spoilt by rude stewards.Plantation buffet - mediocre food & serviceRestaurants - Did not go to Salt Grill with $40.00 cover charge - did go to La Luna (Asian) 1 night (cover charge $20), a waste of money.Spa & Gym - very expensive.The Marquee - bar one comedian whose humour was from the gutter, the shows were very good. The seating is very uncomfortable with low & uncomfortable fixed bench seats at rear & behind a weird mixture of crammed in movable seating with high backs.Circus on Lido deck - mediocrePools tired and datedPorts - Luganville very basic - our Custom Village tour was a disaster and should be dropped (1 hour to do 10km in a rust bucket van)Noumea - beautiful area of New Caledonia but town dead (was Sunday afterall)Other ports were excellent especially Mystery IslandP&O Australia seriously needs to review its hand me down ship policy. Probably won't go on P&O again and this is where P&O will suffer as others agreed. Needs to upgrade its party at all costs/hand me down budget cruise line reputation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
All in all I enjoyed the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. It was very relaxing, but I did spend more time in my cabin than I thought I would. This was probably more due to roughish seas and overcast weather than anything else, but I do have to ... Read More
All in all I enjoyed the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. It was very relaxing, but I did spend more time in my cabin than I thought I would. This was probably more due to roughish seas and overcast weather than anything else, but I do have to note that the Australian passengers were often a miserable lot. A lot of people walked around with faces like smacked a*ses, which is always a bit depressing on a cruise. We visited Noumea, Port Vila and Lifou on the cruise. Embarkation was fine. No problems whatsoever. Noumea: We came off the ship to discover it was a public holiday in Noumea, and therefore all tours etc were useless as attractions were closed. Luckily we had booked none as we were intending to see the city sights, unluckily they were also closed. It seems Noumea takes its public holidays very seriously. The city was run down looking and empty and a bit eerie - I'm sure it would be a much nicer city with everything open and people everywhere. We ate some crepes at a place near the docks, but basically just wandered around took photos and boarded early. I have to say that none of us had any idea it was a public holiday. I would have thought there'd be some info somewhere, like when we docked or something. Lifou: We didn't do much at Lifou except walk around in the heat for half an hour, hire some ratty old snorkelling gear and snorkel for most of the time there. We snorkelled where we were tendered and it was decent snorkelling - we saw turtles and many fish. It was a beautiful little island. I would have liked to see more of it - there had been a big storm that ruined the steps to a place we wanted to snorkel and people said it was too slippery to climb down to, so we just hung around the tendering point, which was lovely anyway. Port Vila: Really enjoyed Port Vila with it's market near the dock and it's low prices in town. We went into town, ate, hired a driver to take us to the waterfall, which was fabulous (wish we'd been more prepared and spent more time there) and then went on a shore excursion to do some snorkelling. It was all good, I would definitely return to Port Vila. Cabins on Dawn: We had 2 ocean view cabins. Really decent storages. The teens had their cabin toilet flood pretty badly. I had heard there could be problems so I was expecting this as they are ridiculous with the toilet paper. Poor cabin steward. The problem was fixed reasonably quickly and I was very happy that one of our teens was old enough that we could get a separate cabin. We had no problems with our own cabin - it was nice and comfortable and we liked our ocean view. There weren't any real perks to the cabin - we used our own toiletries and shampoo and conditioner and soap as their offerings were non-existent or poor. Service: Had decent service all over the ship. Great cabin steward but I think he came to hate our teenagers. I don't blame him. Food: The main dining room was fine in terms of food but very annoying in terms of booking systems. It certainly wasn't Celebrity in this regard. I liked it but it wasn't great, and eating in the buffet was pretty horrible due to crowdedness and lines and all those smack *rse faced people. Entertainment: I enjoyed the entertainment. Some of the shows were pretty lame but I liked the circus style shows and final karaoke night. Teens club: Mr 15 tried the club and spent a bit of time making new friends. He said it was often pretty boring. Ms 17 was not so keen on the whole scene and preferred activities like making beaded things and going wherever we went. I thought it was a cruise with some good destinations and we were lucky to get great weather for those destinations. The sea days were always a bit cloudy and the seas were a bit rough. It was overall a pleasant experience but I don't know about booking on Dawn or with P&O again. One last thing - we got great prices which helped make it nice. If I'd paid full price I'd have been unhappy about quite a few things. LOL Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I was somewhat apprehensive prior to going on a P&O Australia cruise - especially after having been on several other cruises of a 4 and 5 star standard overseas but I wanted to escape the cold of Central Western NSW so thought ... Read More
I was somewhat apprehensive prior to going on a P&O Australia cruise - especially after having been on several other cruises of a 4 and 5 star standard overseas but I wanted to escape the cold of Central Western NSW so thought "I'll give it a go". EMBARKATION - Arrived at Wharf 5 at 1030 am and was pleased to see many counters open for check-in. Paperwork completed seamlessly, my partner and I sat and waited to be called for boarding which was done at about 12 noon. We boarded heading to Plantations buffet for a light lunch then headed back to our balcony room and unpacked. Weather was rainy and windy as we attended the Sailaway Party on deck. The bar was poorly manned with service there slow. Sailing under the bridge was a spectacle with the Captain suggesting that "passengers susceptible to seasickness should now take medication as seas were expected in the region on 3 - 4 m after we left the harbour. CABIN - Our balcony room 11181 on the starboard (right) side towards the back on Deck 11 was quite good with a table and 2 chairs on the balcony. Bathroom was large though I found it a little dark even with the light on. Was surprised the shower cubicle was quite large and the wardrobe had plenty of space too with removable hangers. Our cabin steward was fine but nothing exceptional - bedtime choccies on 2 nights and terry animals on 3 nights. The rose I had ordered was delivered, as were the birthday balloons, but I would have preferred to have had them already there and not placed while we were unpacking. The cabin was cool for the 2 sea days from and to Sydney necessitating a jumper even with the aircon turned off - the heat function was not activated even though the control was on maximum high heat setting. FOOD & BEVERAGE - dined at Plantations buffet for lunch & breakfast most days. At breakfast, the queue at the egg station for fried eggs was lengthy during peak periods - fried eggs being the extent of the item supplied there. An omelette was available from the buffet plates along with a selection of cold meats, cereals, yoghurts, toast, pastries and 2 juices - basically a stock-standard 3 star hotel fare. Lunch was a similar system with a variety of meals available which changed daily. It was disappointing to note that no free beverage was on offer other than water and instant coffee/tea. Evening meal at the Waterfront Restaurant was adequate, although nothing special with a 2 page menu - on the left page and a changing on the right. Wine list had to be asked for every night and 2nd bread rolls offered on 3 nights only. SHORE TOURS - Ports of call being Noumea, Mystery Island, and Isle of Pines. Noumea shore tour we had selected was quite good and the snorkelling not bad. Hired snorkel gear from ship for my partner and we received a new snorkel and a clean mask. ENTERTAINMENT - Shows in the theatre was very good with some very funny comedians. The Cirque was a non-event on the outside of the ship due to poor weather but it was eventually held indoors. The Lazer show was very good albeit short. SUMMARY - It was quite good and ultimately, you get what you pay for. Would I cruise again with P&O Australia? Afraid not as they are just not up to a high enough standard as far as I am concerned but there is definitely a market for them here in Australia. The Jewel is getting tired - this can be determined by the issues with elevators and broken pipe during this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
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