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332 P&O Australia Cruise Reviews

I traveled on the Pacific Dawn with a group of 12. Overall I had a great cruising experience. Even though we had cyclone gene completely mess up our itinerary! Service I found the service to be great most of the time, room was cleaned ... Read More
I traveled on the Pacific Dawn with a group of 12. Overall I had a great cruising experience. Even though we had cyclone gene completely mess up our itinerary! Service I found the service to be great most of the time, room was cleaned twice a day. Dinning waiters entertaining. Entertainment I would say mediocre, there is only so many lame trivia games with lame prizes you can endure. There were a few great production shows! the themed nights and music was good. Bingo was the highlight! What is that saying?? Best to make your own fun! Night life Although some say the dome gets repetitive. its a cruise, theres one club, deal with it. The dome was fantastic, party until 4am every night. Island night they had a deck party, unreal they should host more of these during the length of the cruise! Staterooms The staterooms are clean, great size, plenty of storage, large window! Food buffet- good food but to repetitive. exactly the same thing every day for 10 days straight. horrific, only good for a quick meal. palm court - the food was great, changed everyday, great service! however, free style cruising needs to go. highly annoying having to reserve your table everyday, especially when you eat at the same time every night. Also creates long queues and our table was rarely ready on time, usually had to wait another 20 mins outside the restaurant. alternative dining - pizza and gelato was nice, steak house, didn't dine there, didn't fancy paying $20 to eat in the buffet with people walking in and out when the palm court looked alot more appealing. Ship The Pacific Dawn is a great ship, Although just another hand me down I finally feel like P&O have a ship unlike the converted looking cargo ships they acquire in the rest of there fleet. She has great public spaces, her dining room, atrium and dome being the highlight. Her exterior is grand and elegant. The pools are deep and of a good size. good layout to. Cost Although P&O pricing has reduced in the past couple of years I feel for there product they are over priced. As they sell four berths for the same price as other cruise lines (with a similar product) sell there twin berths for. Best to save a little more and fly to other lines Passengers There were 1800 passengers aged between 18 and 30. Not many kids at all as the cruise left as school started up. Overall It was great met alot of people, would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Hi all we left a cold Melbourne for Sydney on a Qantas flight booked through the on line agent we got a great deal $49 return with transfers to the wharf included. Qantas had a new check in system which made it hard we actually sat on the ... Read More
Hi all we left a cold Melbourne for Sydney on a Qantas flight booked through the on line agent we got a great deal $49 return with transfers to the wharf included. Qantas had a new check in system which made it hard we actually sat on the plane for an hour before leaving as they miscounted us gettin on the plane but we had plenty of time so no worries there, got to Sydney and picked up the coach to the wharf the beauty of this is that they put your cases straight on the ship so no lugging cases around. We were surprised to see no long lines for check in the system is much better now you get given a card with a number and when it is called you go on board much much better. We went straight to are cabin and met our cabin steward who seemed very nice she said if we needed anything to let her know,.the cabin itself was very nice a good size bathroom, and everything was spotless,no complaints at all. went into the main dining room for dinner its a nice place and we did tend to eat there most nights as we liked the idea for meeting different people every night, the food was fine there is always something to please every one. We did enjoy the trivia every day and even won once mind you we sat with another couple that were very good so thats how we ended up with a clock each. we met other people from the boards on the ship which was very nice and we even got a private galley tour from Fabio very interesting, the islands we had been to before. All in all it was a good cruise only one thing marred it and boy was it a big on, if you get allocated cabin D169 beware lovely cabin shame about the noise, first night it made very loud noises, went to the pursers desk to complain they sent the carpenters up to fix it, they put four wedges of wood in different parts of the cabin, great we thought fixed no went to bed exhausted next night only to find same noise, went to pursers desk again only to be told sorry they couldn't do any more, they did send up ear plugs the next day ,which didn't impress, so went to tell them this only to be told well maybe you should see the ships doctor and get some sleeping pills from him (I don't think so) any way in the end the solution was to give us a inside cabin to sleep in of a night on deck five then we had to go back to deck eight to our outside cabin for the day time not ideal but at least we got some sleep, would we go on the Pacific Dawn again no we prefer the Pacific Sun Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
I travelled with a friend on Pacific Dawn over the Victorian School holidays (September 08)and it was a last minute decision to book. My friend came from the UK and we decided that it was time for him to experience a cruise. I have ... Read More
I travelled with a friend on Pacific Dawn over the Victorian School holidays (September 08)and it was a last minute decision to book. My friend came from the UK and we decided that it was time for him to experience a cruise. I have travelled with quite a few cruise companies including: P&O UK, Princess, NCL, RCCL, Seabourn and Swan Hellenic. My last cruise was a month on Seabourn, so I had low expectations for this trip compared to my last. Embarkation was easy, and straight forward. However once through the immigration and security it was a long wait to actually board the ship. This was due to the photographs that are used in conjunction with the ships security, and not the ships photographers (although they were there!) Our cabin was A125 which turned out to be a disabled cabin on the inside of A deck. It was spacious compared to other cabins that I saw during the cruise. This cabin needs some work done on the carpeting and the inside and was showing it's age. However saying that, it had two beds, plenty of wardrobe space and a massive shower (for the disabled guests) I had travelled on this ship previously as Regal Princess and didn't find getting around difficult. It was nice to see that most of the rooms had undergone some renovations, most noticeable was the "dome" where the banks of slot machines had gone and replaced with a small stage. Our first experience of dining was the buffet on Deck 12, I would never normally use this, as the Palm Court is a much better option. Today was embarkation day so had no choice. The line stretched for ever, and took around 30 mins to actually reach the food. The food is probably the only major disappointment on the trip. The buffet food is something that you might have experienced at school once. However that evening the dinner in the main dining room was ok. The food never really got any better throughout the whole trip, and was probably the worst aspect of the cruise. One thing that annoyed me beyond anything else was the constant selling by waiters... did we want a kilo of prawns for $10? Did we want some naff glasses? Did we want to purchase this or that.... It became a joke after the first night. P&O in the UK (well certainly the last time I travelled with them) does not offer this continuous bombardment of selling. The ports of call for me were the best part, Noumea we took a ships tour and did a jetski around a small island, great fun and worth the $99 we each paid. The other smaller islands were a great opportunity to swim and relax on the beach and to experience some culture. The drink prices on board were expensive compared to other lines, and unlike other large companies they did not offer a "soda card" which is so useful if you don't drink booze. I had an issue with one of the waiters who refused to serve me 6 cans of coke to take back to my cabin. Eventually he let me, and I made a complaint to one of the bar managers. He basically told me that I was lying and this would have never of happened. This annoyed me no end.. I don't drink that much, and to be told that I was lying was very unprofessional. However it didn't spoil the holiday, and I forgot about it after a couple of hours. If you wanted food outside of normal dining hours it was possible, unlike other lines, they charged you for it. I didn't mind paying for the icecreams or at 1am for a hamburger (only once!!) but I found it not as "inclusive" as some cruise companies. We tried the steakhouse once and paid AUD$25 for the meal. My steak was huge, and cooked to perfection, however not worth the money paid. The cruise as I mentioned earlier was during school holidays, most of the kids were well behaved, although there was a huge youth security and other security guards. Kids did hog the spas and other things, and after 11pm there was no where for them to buy a soft drink. P&O need to look at this very carefully. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Pacific Dawn  - September 2008 South Pacific We have been very pleasantly surprised Pacific Dawn is one of two ships that P&O Australia (not to be confused with P&O UK) currently have based in Australian waters. The other being ... Read More
Pacific Dawn  - September 2008 South Pacific We have been very pleasantly surprised Pacific Dawn is one of two ships that P&O Australia (not to be confused with P&O UK) currently have based in Australian waters. The other being Pacific Sun. Late in 2009 the Pacific Dawn's sister ship Pacific Jewel joins the fleet as does another new ship Pacific Pearl bringing the total to four. These plus the two Princess ships Dawn Princess and Sun Princess which are also based year round in Australia has finally given us Aussies and Kiwis some decent choices and some great new itineraries including circumnavigations of Australia without having to fly 1000,s of miles to find a good cruise. There are some  problems though as many people get confused between the two "Dawns' and the two "Suns' .Two different cruise lines with two different standards.  Also P & O Australia is not connected with P & O in the UK who operate the Oriana, Aurora and Arcadia amongst others. However all three lines as well as Cunard , Seabourn and Costa are all marketed here by Carnival Corporation's local office ,it can get confusing! P & O Australia has had some bad image problems in the past with old ships , a pretty bad on board "party" atmosphere, bad service and in the last few years here in Australia a lot of bad press about an onboard death and underage drinking. The cruise line has been working wonders to turn this around Anyway we digress back to this 'Explorers Cruise" on board Pacific Dawn Pacific Dawn was the old Regal Princess and was moved to Australia a couple of years ago. The day of sailing the ship was late. We latter found out this was due to encountering rough seas outside Sydney. Consequently the sailing was delayed by about four hours The cruise line has their arrivals and departures at Wharf Eight Darling Harbour. The plus side is you get to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The down side is the lack of facilities and in this case with a lengthy boarding delay lack of information. Why there is no electronic information sign board at the terminal for situations like this is puzzling.We were at the pier about midday dropped our luggage off at the well signed luggage drop point and joined the queue to check in.  This is where P & O fall down. Although the check-in was handled quickly and efficiently there was no offer of an apology re the late departure. We were told boarding should start about 12.30 apart from that there was no information. The terminal is very basic with about 20 rows of plastic chairs and a very tiny outside coffee bar selling tea, coffee and sandwiches. Many people were milling around in a fairly small space waiting for boarding to commence, us included. 12.30 came and went, 1pm came and went, 1.30 pm came and went. No announcements and no movement. Finally they allowed 200 of us into the customs hall in a long queue. Here we stood again for 40 minutes with no chairs and quite a few elderly people. Two P & O staff walked around but did not offer any information or assistance. We would call this "how to put your passengers off side without really trying!" There were many tired and very irate people at this stage. The cruise line, just like airlines, should realise that one of the most important things people need during a delay is information. If we had been told boarding was delayed by two hours we would have headed back into the city for lunch rather than be squashed in a crush of people. We hope P & O Australia have addressed this as its really a very bad start to a holiday and casts the ship in a bad light and puts passengers in a foul mood Finally onboard and our foul mood slowly improved. We think nothing beats sailing out of Sydney's magnificent harbour and with a cocktail in hand we were out on deck watching the city glide past and we sailed out past the heads and into the South Pacific The Ship The ship is in fact a delight. For those princess devotees you would be at home as the dEcor throughout, the carpets, and indeed the staff uniforms are Princess The public rooms are spacious, our inside cabin was huge with a large walk-in wardrobe, very comfortable bed, good linen and even the pillows were great. We had a delightful cabin stewardess who worked so hard. and always had a talk with us. What was also great to see were a number of Pacific Islanders employed as waiting staff. The ship operates in Australian currency so we did not have to sweat on the exchange rate of the US dollar. If you could pick up a cross section of the Australian population and plonk 1800 of them onboard Pacific Dawn this is exactly the people on board this cruise. All ages groups including, surprisingly as this was outside school holidays, about 50 children. Word of Warning, during the Australian school holidays they can have over 500 children on board. The Public areas are great and very stylish with loads of likght coloured wood venners. We loved the martini bar Crooners and the main restaurant is very good dEcor wise. The service at times was a bit hit and miss. You would wait longer to be served with a drink than say on Princess or RCCL Out by the main pools it was more like I'll get up and go to the bar than a waiter come to us.This ship is rated about 3.5 stars so what we were seeing was what we were expecting and in most cases our expectations were exceeded. The highlight room for us is "the Dome" which is situated on top of the ship overlooking the bow. Daytime this is a great place to come and read a book. Early evening a great place to have a pre dinner drink and night time becomes a great night club. This room is one of the best public rooms we have experienced on any cruise ship. On the sister ship Pacific Jewel we believe this area is the spa and the gym. Please note for any Berlitz World Wide Cruise guide readers that the information on the dome is wrong for Pacific Dawn  The quality of the food in the buffet was good and we never had a problem getting a table by ourselves for lunch or breakfast, We only ever ate in the restaurant for dinner. Here most nights we had one of the very few tables for two. Its sort of two sittings combined with dine when you want. We think they are still fine tuning that. The waitress who looked after us at dinner was delightful and boy did she work hard. Her offsider was sometimes good sometimes not so good.  The menu choices we enjoyed but some nights we felt like we were in an RSL club . Plain roasts or a chicken kiev which was served with french fries. Other nights the kitchen surprised us with really good food. P&O Australia have recently revamped all the menus onboard. We are sailing on the ship 14th August for a three night weekend gourmet cruise from and back to Sydney so we will be very keen to see if there has been an improvement Entertainment was average. The pirate show was a bit kitsch but a fun night. One annoying aspect was the way the"  look at us arn't we glamorous" young dance entertainment staff hogged the best deck spots by the pools most days There was a hosted "friends of dorothy" the first evening at sea and we made some good friends here who we would meet up with for a pre dinner drink most nights William thought the gym was great and had a good work out each day and we both really loved the two spa pools on the back deck. That of become an adults only area by default and it was a great place to sit and soak The Library was very disappointing. It was obvious that this had once been an American ship aimed at Americans. No offence to our American friends but there is only so much American politics we can read! There had been absolutely no effort at all by the cruise line to stock non-fiction books that would appeal to an Australian or New Zealand audience. Even all the travel guides were about Alaska, the Caribbean and Europe. Nothing about the South Pacific or where the ship is now based. It will be interesting when we are back on board in August to see if this has changed Talking of appealing to Aussie and Kiwi audiences the dreaded art auction (we personally hate them ) again  there was no representation of any New Zealand or Australian artists. There are many good one and famous ones. The days that these auctions took over the atrium we retreated to the Dome. The Ports This cruise was to Suva, Port Denarau , Dravini Island and Savu Savu all in Fiji, then scenic cruising past Tin Can island Tonga, then to Vavau and also Nuku'alofa in Tonga before  Noumea in New Caledonia before heading back to Sydney Suva, we were four hours late due to our late departure. The highlight was having the Fiji Police Band marching up and down the pier as we arrived and docked. That was sensational. As for Suva, well we can say we have been there. Port Denarau. This is a purpose built resort and gated residential area near Nadi.  A number of five star hotels and a very clinical harbourside shopping area . We would recommend doing what we did - take a cab into Nadi and wander up and down the main street and soak up the atmosphere or get the shuttle bus round to one of the five star hotels and relax by the pool. The beach here is not very good. We don't paying for shore excursions preferring to go off and do our own thing Dravini Island - This would fit most people's idea of a South Pacific Island. Beautiful beaches crystal clear warm water palm trees and a small village. It was a Sunday so village life centred around the church service. A delightful relaxing enriching day Savu Savu we loved this small village and bought some great dvd's for $1 each. Yes they did work Tin Can Island - we sailed past this black looking place Everyone had been encouraged to mail postcards to be posted from here. The ship puts them into a big tin can and someone from the island comes out to collect the can. On our day the water was too choppy so the can was left floating. Our postcard finally arrived home in Sydney three months latter! Vavau - a long cruise up the channel to the anchorage point  We took the tender across and found the local souvenir and money changers were only just starting to set their stall up dockside Tongan Time!. There is currency exchange available at the little Western Union branch about five minutes walk from the dock We hired a taxi, the car was an experience in its self but the driver drove us around for a couple of hours and was obviously very proud of where he lived. The evening sailing just before sunset down the channel and out through the sea entrance was stunning Nuku'alofa we were up just on dawn and watched the most astounding sunrise as the ship steamed toward the very low island on the horizon. The pilot boat looked like the African Queen! We docked at the Queen Salote wharf . Tonga does not get many cruise ships and apart from a few trestle tables with people selling local trinkets there was nothing else. We got a taxi and settled on $15 into town. When he dropped us he insisted on $15 US it was the only time we felt very ripped off. The local markets are fun and we bought two really beautiful fresh flower leis to wear at "Island Night" that night Noumea , fantastic is all we can say you feel like you are back in civilisation. The cruise terminal is excellent The range of tours on offer are great. Don't buy on board but buy at the pier as they were all about half what the ship's tour office was charging. We had a great afternoon at Bay de Citron swimming and relaxing on the beach. There is an atm machine a short walk from the pier tho now we believe the ship has an atm on board Back home to Sydney. We were up before dawn to watch us sail in past the heads. Disembarkation was easy and the complete opposite to the disastrous boarding 16 days before. We were back home within fifteen minutes Did we enjoy this cruise. YES Will we go back on Pacific Dawn again YES and we hope P&O Australia maintain the standard and the hardware and not let the bean counters cut things back Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Overall our cruise was great. 11 Nights departed May 5th and returned May 16th 2009. Met some amazing people and had a great time. Ports we're great, cabin stewards were great, bar staff very helpful.PROS- Night time shows and theme ... Read More
Overall our cruise was great. 11 Nights departed May 5th and returned May 16th 2009. Met some amazing people and had a great time. Ports we're great, cabin stewards were great, bar staff very helpful.PROS- Night time shows and theme nights were great success- Food was incredible(be prepared to put weight on)- Casino staff were so nice and would help you understand the game- Comedy Club so hilarious as with Majority rules trivia- Different games like deal or no deal, sea horse racing and liar liar are awesome and very entertaining.- Bingo a huge success and very worthwhile for the jackpot winner at the end.- Very informative about shore tours etc- The daily newsletter was great outling the port to come and customs, currency, language etc- Cabin Steward was so great (wanted to take him home and leave the bf)- Karaoke was an experience and a half, worth checking out- Prices of drinks were fairly priced, same as you would pay in pubs and club and alcohol content is stronger. All the drinks i had the alcohol could be easily tasted and very strong.- Formal Nights are great,nothing like dressing up. We had 2 on this cruise.- Spa reasonably priced- Gym limited to workout more than weights training. Depending on how much you can lift.- Quick by thorough safety brief.CONS- I hate that the dining is buffet or dining room. Its so hard to get into the dining room if you don't call up first thing in the morning. The buffet area vibrated alot when eating and often you'd have to catch your drink before it fell off the table and this had nothing to do with rough seas.- Entertainment staff acted as though they were superior to all the paying guest during their freetime hanging out by the pool.- Photo prices are expensive but the professional photo's on formal nights look amazing and you are not obligated to buy.- Maybe it was just us but we couldn't get to the front of the boat. Only look out through the dome.- Spa and Gym can only be accessed via 1 set of elevators- Hairdryer isn't real great.Our cabin was outside twin. We were on the 10th floor and at the very front of the ship.Being so high up and the first cabin at the front we felt the seas when they were rough. If i had an afternoon sleep i would lay in the middle of the two single beds to ensure i didn't roll out which nearly happend a few times.Overall the cabin was great and our cabin Man Viddy was Incredible, i loved him so much that i wanted to bring him home.Bathroom obviously are small and makes it hard to shave your legs and what not but you manage.Wasn't very noisy in the cabin either but when you walked outside of the cabin it was i think mainly to do with being at the front.There are heaps more pros but i cant think of them all as there is so much to do onboard.P&O make cruising special and that is why i continue to travel with them. I have cruise number 3 book for NYE this year and i am very excited for it.We also had Getaway on Board and the episode will be airing on Channel Nine 6th August 2009.I hope you find my review helpful and happy sailings!!!   =)Our First Port was Luganville, when we arrive we were docked at the port and the weather was great for being May. We opted to walk around the markets and up to the Main street. I noticed the women and children were very friendly to me but sometimes felt as though the men would look straight theough you as if you were insignificant. The locals obviosly love when the boats dock here seeing as though they put on little concerts and have their little stores. I noticed the main street was what i expected, just do't expect too much. I didn't buy anything at this port just donated money to the local schools and the selected few children that i thought were deserving. I didn't do any shore tours here however a nice couple that we met onbaord got a group together and hired a Taxi to take them to Million Dollar Point or Lookout and they said it was really good. The driving on this country may surprise you as they all drive basically New Hilux utes and have anywhere from 1-20 people in the back. PORT VILA - Well this was a good port and has plenty of shore tours to choose from. Before our first tour we thought we would walk the markets just to look and then go to our designated meet area for our off road Buggy Adventure. Well i guess the markets cannot be explained until you see them but its a long stretch off round over crowded with stores trying to sell souvenier items, hair clips, leis and clothes etc. This is great as i found that the price on one store would be double another so it really pays to look around. The downside is long line of Taxi's. The scream and yell at you and do all they can to get you to get in them. They will almost hit you and drive like maniacs, funny to watch though. Ok so shore tour number 1 - off road buggy adventure - was great but left a little disappointed. The brochures warns of muds and unless its been raining its really only alot of dirt and dust but still great fun. The session was divided into 2. So you can switch drivers half way through and have a break. I found the steering was the hardest part and was very tough and actuall hurt my arms but would def do it again and i would recommend it as it's a great experience. Seeing as though the ship was docked at port we returned to the ship after tour 1 to shower off the dirt and change have lunch and head to tour number 2. Second Shore Tour - Parasailing - Was Amazing, although i have a terrible fear of sharks and this worried me. I was told by people that when they went parasailing they actually seen a shark and this worried me dramatically. So first thing when i got on the boat ready to be harnessed up i asked whether i would be dunked in the ocean? This however prompted the boat driver to be smart and scare me. I still went up though. Whilst be harnessed up i was nearly blown off the boat. I went in the air for about 10 mins. I loved in and did not see any sharks or get dunked in the water. After the tours ended we walked the markets again and brough a fair bit of things from clothes to items for island night and different things. We didn't however make it into town into duty free as the town is a fair way in. I do advise allow time to do this shopping if its something you want to do. Maybe do it first thing in the morning and shore tours after lunch. Friends brought cheap ipods, cameras, jewellery, alcohol and other various things. ISLE OF PINES - This amazing place is stunning. It was the second time i had been here and i love it as much now as i did 4 years ago. Its like the picture from a postcard. The water is so blue and incredible. Because i have a big fear of sharks i never go in the ocean, this is the first time i ever swam in the ocean and i loved it. The first time i went to this island there wasn't much to do except snorkel. There is now a resort and paddle boats, kayaks to hire etc. Wild dogs are a massive problem, 4 yrs ago i did not see one dog, this time everywhere, they seem friendly but still i'd be careful. As for seasnakes i didn't see any and neither did anyone else that i spoke to. They do warn about them here especially but 2 times to this island now and i haven't see one. Mystery Island - WAS CANCELLED DUE TO BAD WEATHER!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
As much as I enjoyed the cruise (being my maiden voyage), I was a little miffed about the selling of everything from the time we got through customs until we returned to brisbane. Photo before you went on board $29.90, gown and slippers in ... Read More
As much as I enjoyed the cruise (being my maiden voyage), I was a little miffed about the selling of everything from the time we got through customs until we returned to brisbane. Photo before you went on board $29.90, gown and slippers in the cabin $25.00, bottled water in cabin $2.50, (but beware it comes up as $2.95 on your itemised expenditure sheet each time you open one), shore trips at up 3(three) times the price of going ashore and finding the same thing for yourself, prawns with your dinner $10.00 half kilo, steak $25.00 minimum, pizza $7.00 and up, ice cream $2.50 and up, stop when you cant get anymore in the cone/cup or your mouth, duty free cigarettes and alcohol that you can't have until the last day, (then they tell you about the limit of smokes you are allowed back in australia), art auctions with prices of some pieces that would pay for a house. Then on the last day or two the sales start in the atrium, to bloody late we spent all our money on everything else. But my biggest whinge is the price of a can of coca cola. $2.50. Not for a can of coke made in australia @ 375mls but for a can of coke made in vietnam @ 330mls and clearly marked (not to be sold outside vietnam). Now i realise that these ships and the cruises are designed to make money and P&O proudly state the this ship is based in australia and has been for some time and probably will be as long as she stays afloat, but how about supporting the local economy as well, or bring the price back to reality. Enough whingeing, apart from the above i have never enjoyed myself so much as a maiden cruiser, the food was great (more than you could eat in ten lifetimes), the service was brilliant (espcially in the main dining room on deck 7), and there was usually something to do somewhere on the ship, or just relax and let the world drift past while downing a drink or 2 and or chatting with new faces. Even the odd nana nap to recharge the batteries was called for. My personal opinion is a 8/10 to P&O for putting on a great cruise, so much so that we are going to go again in a couple of years. They (P&O) need to back of with the hard sell and some of their pricing, otherwise brillint. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was a short cruise so I will attempt to make the review equally as short! We took this cruise for our 20th wedding anniversary and it was the first cruise without our children so while normally we would also look at a cruise from the ... Read More
This was a short cruise so I will attempt to make the review equally as short! We took this cruise for our 20th wedding anniversary and it was the first cruise without our children so while normally we would also look at a cruise from the kids perspective we can't this time. The ship was berthed in Darling Harbour and had a departure time of 8pm. We arrived around 5pm and were checked through in around 10 minutes. Other passengers we spoke to said it took them around 45 minutes to an hour so it really was pot luck for us to get through so quickly. Just as we have seen before the baggage drop off and check-in process works well here. The kids shooed us away and onto the ship around 6pm (still hardly anyone in the terminal) and we decided to head straight to the dining room so we could make it up on deck for the sail-away. The dining room is fresh and modern - as it should be after a refit - and the service was efficient and the food was good. My wife has a severe allergy to some foods but this presented no problem and she was shown the menu for each of the next nights so she could pre-order. The sail-away was exciting with the Pacific Cirque doing their spectacular show as we slipped our mooring and sailed straight out and under the Harbour Bridge. As we sailed past the Opera House a magnificent fireworks display was started on a barge just for us finishing with a "BON VOYAGE" in sparklers. That was awesome and totally unexpected. Our cabin was very nice. It was an oceanview with a very large window. The cabin is laid out nicely, the wardrobe was a good size and there is more drawer space than you could ever use. The safe worked easily and there is a good sized fridge. A wide variety of movies and shows were available on the TV and the 'moving map' display was OK. I was very happy with the bathroom. The shower recess was tiled and had a nice strong shower which was height adjustable and could also be hand held. (We had to laugh...the room was shown on our ticket as a double. We asked for the single beds to be converted and they just got pushed together. So we still had single sheets on the bottom and single doonas and the beds drifted apart. It was more funny than actually annoying). We went for a wander and quickly discovered how easy it is to get lost on this ship, I couldn't put my finger on why but it just seemed a lot harder to find your way around than on other ships. The decor and colours make the ship feel fresh and vibrant but it lacks the elegance that we have come to associate with cruise ships. We caught the comedian / ventriloquist in the Marquee lounge that evening and he was first class. The following nights had the Runaway to the Circus show and then the Aussie tribute show. Both of these were OK. The Marquee lounge itself is a good venue, we thought the upstairs seats were a better choice than downstairs. The Pacific Cirque performers put on a wonderful acrobatic and trapeze show in the atrium. If you have these guys on your cruise do not miss this show! (and get a seat upstairs). We didn't use the Internet on this cruise but the cost seemed the same as other cruises (i.e. expensive) and we had expected to be able to keep in touch with kids via the mobile phone facility called MCS but for some reason the phone we had wouldn't connect, yet this was the same phone we used on the Sun Princess with no problem. Bottom line is don't rely on this to be able to keep in touch with family. We had breakfast and lunch in the Plantation buffet and were happy with what was available. Coffee and tea (including herbal varieties) and iced water was available from machines. Something I did not expect was to have to pick over plates, cups and cutlery that hadn't been washed properly. This happened with breakfast and lunch both days we were there. I have never had to do this before. On a more pleasant note the food in the buffet was nice, we never had a problem finding a seat and the panoramic view outside made for a very pleasant time to chat with other passengers. Briefly back to the Waterfront dining room where we had dinner each night, P&O are using the "anytime dining" approach instead of set sittings. I think I definitely prefer the set sittings. You know where your table is so there is no big queue while you wait to be seated each night and you also get the opportunity to get know your waiters, it just seems nicer...maybe I'm just getting old. Disembarking was pretty non-eventful. We were one of the first to disembark and were off by 8am (after a 7am arrival) but the latest departure group wasn't until around 9.50am. It seems if you had carry-on baggage you could depart earlier, otherwise you had to wait until your colour was called. Something I missed was not having any updates from the Captain, we never heard from him. Normally you can't shut them up!!! Maybe it was because it was just a short three night cruise but it was something a number of passengers commented on. To sum up, would I sail on the Pacific Jewel again?....yes. Some things could be better, but....the crew were friendly, the food was good, the cabin was excellent and we had a great time which is why we cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Before this cruise I had been on only one previously, on the Legend of the Seas. I was keen to find out how this would compare. Unfortunately, the holiday did not get off to a good start, as the engines broke down on the previous cruise ... Read More
Before this cruise I had been on only one previously, on the Legend of the Seas. I was keen to find out how this would compare. Unfortunately, the holiday did not get off to a good start, as the engines broke down on the previous cruise and the ship was a day and a half late returning to Brisbane. This led to changes of the itinerary, and the news that we would not get to Vanuatu which was disappointing. This was unfortunate, and I can't speak for everyone, but the group I was with did not let this dampen our spirits. When we finally boarded almost two days late, but after a very smooth check in, the party began. There was a band playing up on the deck all night - in fact it seemed as if there was always music around the pool regardless of what time it was. We got to our room, and they were significantly larger than they had been on my previous cruise. Talking to the stateroom attendant, who I must complement for his exemplary service, he said they were the largest of any ship he's been on. We went to the buffet for dinner on the first night, which in hindsight was probably a mistake. The food was good but not great, and the ques were massive. The following night, when we went to the dining room, we enjoyed excellent food, brilliant service and a far nicer atmosphere. Especially on the first night, it seemed that everywhere you looked there was someone trying to sell you a drink or souvenir. This was great if you were thirsty, but not if you didn't want to pay $9 for a Corona. This was one one of my main criticisms of P&O, that everywhere you looked they were trying to take money off you. Bottled water, which was free on Legend of the Seas, was very expensive on Pacific Dawn. Entertainment on Pacific Dawn was great. There was very few times when I wasn't doing anything; in fact I often had to miss activities as there is simply not enough time in each day. Shows in the theater during the day were the highlight of entertainment, along with the late night comedy shows. The shows in the theater provided some brilliant moments of entertainment. For example, when they had a cooking demonstration the cruise director was busy eating the first dish and didn't see the chef pour a bowl full of chili into the second dish. All eyes were on her as she took a mouthful and then ran from the stage to get a drink. Hopefully, if P&O want the Pacific Dawn to keep cruising in the long term, they will do something to fix her engines. Ive seen plenty of reviews about where they have broken down, and they are also very loud when you're in the dining room if the ship is going quickly. One thing I found liked was that on the last sea day we were able to go on a tour of the ships kitchens and also the backstage area of the theater. It was interesting to see the conditions that the staff have to work in. There were five key things I liked on Legend of the Seas that Pacific Dawn did not have. 1) A deck enabling you to stand up the front. The Pacific Dawn sort of had a deck like this, but it was closed half the time. 2) A lounge where you can sit on the highest deck and watch all four directions. The Dome is the Pacific Dawns version of this, but shutters were lowered at 6pm each night, ruining the view. 3) A rock climbing wall and mini golf course. I don't necessarily want these exact features on every ship, but something other than a pool up on deck would be welcomed. 4) Everything was contained on four decks; 2 down the bottom and 2 up the top. On the Pacific Dawn everything was spread everywhere, which complicated finding things at times. 5) Soft drink packages. For a couple of dollars a day you got unlimited soft drink on Legend of the Seas. P&O needed a drink package of some description. Of course, the Pacific Dawn had features I liked about it that the Legend did not have. Finding a drink waiter was never a problem. There was much more in the way of entertainment and the ship had a nightlife, whereas the only nightlife on the Legend was in the casino. The laser show on the Pacific Dawn was also very entertaining. Overall, the Pacific Dawn is a beautiful ship, and is a cruise well worth going on. Make sure you're in the mood to party, as it is perhaps more aimed at a younger age group than other ships are. There was certainly never a dull moment, and I would not hesitate to go on this ship again. The original itinerary for our cruise was Noumea, Lifou and then Port Vila. However, due to the delayed start to the cruise it was changed to Noumea and Divine Island. Noumea was an interesting place to visit. Everything is very expensive there, except for duty free alcohol. We got a litre of Jack Daniels for about $20. If you want to go on a tour of Noumea, don't bother booking it on the boat. As soon as you get off the boat there are plenty of tour operators who will give you the same tour for half the price. We took this option, and went on a tour of Noumea. There were three main things I noticed. 1: It is very hot. I'm glad the bus was air conditioned. 2: Noumea is made from hills. Its not hard to get a good view of the surrounding area. 3: Taking the Tchou Tchou train is not a good idea because it broke down halfway up a hill due to its engine overheating. Apart from going sightseeing, there is not much to do. Activities such as go karting etc. are available, but they are no cheaper, in fact some are more expensive, then Australia. For lunch we went to a local bakery, and bought some Noumean beer. The beer we had is called Number 1...and I might give it a miss next time. However, they do make another called Manta which is apparently nicer. After this we got back on the ship and that evening we headed off to Divine Island, with a band playing to farewell us. If you looked at a cross section of Divine Island, you would see ocean, sand, forest, sand ocean. The only things on the island are a couple of huts. The ship brought over a bar so you could have a drink on the beach (at ridiculous ship prices). We were told the snorkeling would be good, and it was reasonable, but unfortunately it was too close to the surface and I found it difficult to snorkel in 40cm of water. In addition, it appeared quite lifeless, at least compared to what I saw when I went snorkeling in Vanuatu. We got onto the island at about 10:30, and left at about 12:30 to get back for lunch. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Well the cruise was good, but the rough seas saw to a fair bit of seasickness. The staff onboard, with the exception of a couple of disinterested types with no idea of customer service, were fantastic. Food was brilliant; did not once ... Read More
Well the cruise was good, but the rough seas saw to a fair bit of seasickness. The staff onboard, with the exception of a couple of disinterested types with no idea of customer service, were fantastic. Food was brilliant; did not once get a bad meal. Entertainment was superb & far better than I expected to see. The only bad points were: Laborious attempts to get people ashore via tenders which resembled a keystone cops type of farce. 2 hour + waiting times to just get a tender. People queue jumping to hog tender tickets. A staff member crying because people complained about the delays. Why does a ship visit a port with just 1 space for tender offloading, leading to a banking up of vessels? The drinking water was absolutely disgusting. No wonder people were ill. Some shore tours didnt go well, but that is more the issue of the people running the tours rather than P&O. A glass bottom boat that was so green you could not see anything. A tour guide being rude to patrons. Offerings on the tours not as described. That said, I still say it was a very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We are a middle-aged couple just returned from J019, a 14-day Fiji Adventure on Pacific Jewel. In general we enjoyed our cruise - the food, accommodation, entertainment and crew were all good and we were blessed with fair weather. We ... Read More
We are a middle-aged couple just returned from J019, a 14-day Fiji Adventure on Pacific Jewel. In general we enjoyed our cruise - the food, accommodation, entertainment and crew were all good and we were blessed with fair weather. We received no pre-departure package, so we arrived at the dock without bag tags. The staff there were helpful and we soon filled out our own tags and joined the queue. Our cabin was a mini-suite, which was spacious, well laid out and reasonably well furnished, although some of the upholstery was stained. Cabin 11130 is under the pool bar area, and we often heard the boom of loud music and the scrape of deck chairs being re-arranged. We would have preferred a shower recess rather than the bath/shower. Also, the shower water temperature wandered which was annoying. Initially the room was too hot for the doona, the only bedding, but following a technical visit things improved. The food was excellent. The buffet was kept well supplied with fresh refills, supplemented by eggs cooked to order at breakfast, and a carvery for other meals. The main dining room offered fine dining with excellent service. Congestion could be a problem at peak hours, but the meal times were generous so we went late and avoided the rush. The speciality dining venues were worth the extra expense. We used room service for morning tea and toast which was invariably cold. DIY, or a local tearoom is needed. The activities programme was extensive and catered to most tastes. The evening floor shows featured an excellent dance troupe with visiting artists such as singers or comedians. Some of the activities were held in venues which were much too small, leaving many standing. So our first experience with P&O was positive, and we'll consider another cruise, but not to the South Pacific again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect when we committed ourselves to a cruise to "somewhere" warm, in the middle of winter, so we went into this experience without any preconceived ideas or opinions and ... Read More
As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect when we committed ourselves to a cruise to "somewhere" warm, in the middle of winter, so we went into this experience without any preconceived ideas or opinions and without any other cruises as points of comparison. A couple of pre-trip aspects were not particularly well covered eg Despite paying for our trip about nine weeks prior to departure, we did not receive our travel package until six days before we set out for Sydney. This meant that we were unable to do any pre booking of shore trips and, consequently missed out on the popular ones that filled up quickly. Two days prior to our departure we received a telephone call detailing the embarkation arrangements and telling us that embarkation would be on a deck-by-deck basis, with times allocated to each deck. We arrived at the check-in and found that this was not the case and that embarkation was being carried out according to what time you arrived for check in These were two minor points that actually did little to detract from an overall worthwhile experience Briefly - Our cabin - An "upgrade", or so we had been told a few weeks before we left, but is high up and right at the front necessarily better than lower down and mid-ship. Not really, when boat movement became accentuated. Nicely appointed with enough room, an excellent en-suite and storage , comfortable beds etc, , mirrors to give the impression of more space but no fridge. The Ship - 20 years old, but it has had a recent refurbishment. I thought it had everything, almost There were noisy places and quiet places, busy bars and not-so-busy bars. It would have been good to have a TV screen which showed the ship's progress, other than the map on Deck 12 which had the course pencilled in. The deck crew were always present, cleaning and maintaining the vessel The food - Great selection in both Waterfront and Plantation always well cooked and presented. We tried both and didn't feel a need to go to the surcharge restaurants. It did get crowded at times in Plantation but the long hours meant that there was plenty of time when it wasn't. Booking Waterfront was more of a hassle. Reservations opened at 8 am, but were usually full by 8.15 am. The cafe made excellent coffees and hot chocolates and the coffee machine in Plantation provided drinks and Pastries for early (5.00 am) risers The crew - polite, usually friendly, efficient. The captain's talk on the running of the ship was an early highlight. He held my attention for a full hour and a half with his information and sense of humour. I'm pleased to see that tipping is going to be re-organised later this year. It seems unfair that a room steward can automatically get recognition but any other staff member has to be named and nominated. They are all doing their job. it is the extra smile or attitude that is displayed that sets one above another. Some staff seemed genuinely happy to be serving the passengers, while a few treated you as if you weren't really there. Entertainment - The Cirque Pacific artistes were top-quality. The Pacific Jewel dancers/singers were excellent, polished and professional. Yes it was the same eight people singing different songs and doing different dances, but it is a reflection on their talent, that they are able to adapt to the different themes of their shows and put together such a quality performance. We also thoroughly enjoyed Mr Fish. The other keynote entertainers gave mixed performances, with some placing too much reliance on the audience singing along and tired old jokes. A bouquet to Sarah Jane the Cruise Director and her team for keeping the various programmes humming along, with enthusiasm and a genuine wish for the passengers to have a good time. The karaoke sessions saw the usual range of talent, or lack of it, but the final of the Pop-stars competition was a real highlight. Ports of call - Some people were very uncomplimentary about Noumea. Personally I liked the place. Our choo choo train ride (paid for on shore) took us past beautiful beaches, resorts and affluent neighbourhoods. The city centre, near where we berthed, is quite old and dilapidated in parts, but it is also the largest city in Melanesia, a major port and industrial centre and its funding comes from a colonial power on the other side of the world. Mystery Island, Lifou and Isle of Pines were all beautiful spots, giving a view of how these Pacific Island people live and Vila was a long lane of market stalls and waiting taxis and minivans, unless you went further afield to do Duty Free shopping or on a shore tour Shore tours - we did one ship arranged excursion and two independent trips. The only difference would be the cost. Why are the P and O trips, for the same experience so much more expensive? Is the company receiving an overly large proportion of the cost for each trip it sells? Don't necessarily expect your guide to speak English, or to be too forthcoming with information about what he is showing you, although they do vary. The numbered tickets for the tenders was a good system, with very little waiting and the ship's end and, if you decided to leave the island before the deadline, the queues weren't too long there either Overall we enjoyed our 10 days. I am a nervous sailor. We met some interesting people who were all out to enjoy themselves and who contributed to making our cruising experience a memorable one. Thank you P & O and the passengers and crew on JO21 Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My Partner and I have just disembarked after a 10 night cruise on P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel. This was our 19th cruise and our 3rd with P&O Australia. Sydney has a great purpose built overseas passenger cruise ... Read More
My Partner and I have just disembarked after a 10 night cruise on P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel. This was our 19th cruise and our 3rd with P&O Australia. Sydney has a great purpose built overseas passenger cruise terminal right in the heart of the city between the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is where most ships berth when in town. P&0 Australia however berth their ships at Darling Harbour. They also berth Sun Princess and Dawn Princess here. Darling Harbour is just around the corner on the Western side of the Central Business District. The beauty of this is you get to sail right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge - simply stunning. The downside is currently (and for about the next 12 to 18 months) the Port of Sydney has supplied the cruise line with a very large tent to facilitate passenger check-in and embarkation and the reverse when you get back. This tent is a temporary measure whilst the NSW government builds a purpose built new cruise ship terminal at White Bay, still past the harbour bridge but sadly not the current 5 minute walk into the city. This new terminal also will only be able to accommodate ships that can fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There is currently much discussion here in certain circles about the merits of the White Bay development anyway - Our Cruise Embarkation The very large tent and pier is actually very pleasant and workable. Lots of car parking with very good drop off and pick up points. Inside the tent its air-conditioned, good check-in desks, lots of seats to sit in whilst waiting to board and good passport and security checkpoints once you get the go ahead to board. Way better than the old "temporary" terminal that P&O had been using at the next door wharf at Darling Harbour. We were on-board Pacific Jewel by 12.30pm for a 4pm departure. The Ship Originally a Princess ship then a couple of changes until joining the P&O Australia fleet about 12 months ago. The ship is a sister ship to Pacific Dawn however there are a couple of differences inside. The main one being the dome area at the top of ship. On Pacific Dawn this is an amazing crows nest type bar, on Pacific Jewel it is the Spa and Gym. This ship looks great and is in very good condition. The colour scheme on-board in the public areas is reds and yellows which works well. Cabin Our cabin 5177 was midships on deck 5 and was spacious and nicely furnished. A good size wardrobe and decent bathroom with a shower big enough for two people. Good quality bed linen, the pillows a tad small but not bad, flat screen TV with a good range of movies and also Sky News Australia. No ships satellite map tho which we both missed. We always like to know whereabouts on the ocean we are. A very high housekeeping standard. We had a really wonderful cabin attendant called Christian. A young guy who was genuinely delightful even when he had sweat pouring off him. Its the only time we both feel guilty being on holiday when your cabin attendant keeps asking how has your day been and the poor person looks like they are about to collapse from over work Restaurants and Food In the last 18 months P&O Australia appear to have thrown all their old Pub Grub steak,chips and two veg type restaurant menus, crockery and decor overboard and started again. In a word - SENSATIONAL The Waterfront Restaurant is the main one operating anytime dining which, for us, worked every evening. You book the day before and we had a table for two at the time we wanted the next evening. The decor is amazing, very modern with the room broken up into many small spaces. The food - we were constantly amazed at both the presentation and the taste which was always great and in many cases sensational. The service unfortunately was hit and miss. Sometimes good, sometimes lightening fast, occasionally slow but on most evenings the waiting staff seemed all over the place and on three occasions we were given the wrong main courses and also the wrong bottles of wine. Communication with some of the waiting staff even when we pointed to the specific item on the menus was sometimes frustrating There are two speciality restaurants on board with a surcharge Salt Grill by Luke Mangan (one of Australia's top chefs)$30pp La Luna which is an Asian style restaurant $20pp Salt Grill we loved and the man himself - Luke Mangan was on board and helped serve our meals. Wonderful waiting staff and it is equal to the best restaurants in Sydney. Well worth the surcharge La Luna was different, an eight course tasting type asian menu with some odd dishes but overall not bad The Plantation Buffet - good food, good quality and good service Bars There are two main bars - the Casbah and Connexions both devoid of character and just rooms to sit in. We discovered the first night that your cocktail and Martinis are limited to the 15 or so shown on the cocktail and Martini lists. My request for the martini I usually have at sea and which was not on the "list" was initially met by a "no we can't do it" to a "well perhaps we can" to a "well yes we can make it but it will cost you" and cost it certainly did. This I followed up with the Food and Beverage Manager who rectified the cost and also ensured I could get my Martini each evening at a realistic price. Also on this ship they scheduled music and entertainment in the bars at bizarre times. In the Casbah which was the better looking of the two bars there was a sports quiz at 6.30pm every night. 6.30pm is cocktail time Likewise the piano players (both were very good) would often be finishing when you came out from dinner just when you wanted to sit down and listen to music with a post dinner drink. The Connexions bar would be having Karaoke about the same time as the sport quiz Sports Quizzes and Karaoke are not our cup of tea Production Shows We saw two and these were spectacular and very very good. P&0 Australia seem to have poured a lot of money into these and it showed. Very polished and very professional There is also a group of five people called "Pacific Cirque" who do the most amazing acrobatic performances. One evening in the atrium, one evening at sea on the top deck where there is a purpose built frame and the last night in the production show The Oasis On deck 10 at the stern of the ship is the adults only Oasis outdoor area. $5.00 pp per half day and worth every cent. Accommodates about 40 people. Very nice rattan cane sun-lounges and settees. Fresh fluffy towels, easy listening music, waiters with chilled water, tea and coffee and also a full bar - a great way to spend the day and you can just come and go as your sun-lounges remain reserved for you The Club Lounge A small "hotel club floor" type lounge with free Internet, selected drinks between 5pm-6pm and personalised service but there is a $25 per person per day charge with a minimum of three consecutive days and they would not waiver the three day rule so we did not use it. $150 for two people for a couple glasses of wine each day seemed excessive Overall experience The first three days from Sydney the ship encountered very rough seas. Gale force 9 winds and 7 to 10 metre waves. It was more like the North Atlantic in winter than the South Pacific! We both felt fine and we were grateful for our midships cabin down low on deck 5. Many many passengers and also crew were ill. Not a great start to a holiday and for about 90% of the passengers on board this was their first cruise. Once the ship arrived at the Isle of Pines the weather improved dramatically. Also , whether due to three days and nights of being bounced and banged around or not, in Noumea we were advised that Pacific Jewel had developed propulsion problems and our last port of call was cancelled. The ship stayed alongside in Noumea for an additional 18 hours then took an extra day to sail back to Sydney. This delay was handled with the highest professionalism by the cruise line. Free Internet was offered. Two phones at reception to make free telephone calls, this did cause long lines for three days but they were free and a credit put onto everyone's room account. We were wrapped as we ended up with another day at sea. Most people we spoke to were also very happy. Overall we have had another wonderful and relaxing cruise. If you are accustomed, like we are, to Princess Cruises or better then this may not be the ship for you. Pacific Jewel, like its sister ship Pacific Dawn, is aimed squarely at middle Australia. Great Food,Good Entertainment, average bars where the most consumed drink on board is beer and sports quizzes and Karaoke rule. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Forgive the late (nearly 4 years to be exact) review! But I just located my video camera footage and video diary from our cruise in Feb 2011, whilst unpacking our new house, and thought I may as well add it to the fold. How much relevance ... Read More
Forgive the late (nearly 4 years to be exact) review! But I just located my video camera footage and video diary from our cruise in Feb 2011, whilst unpacking our new house, and thought I may as well add it to the fold. How much relevance it will still hold, I don't know? But what the hey! We embarked in what was a bit of a kerfuffle in Sydney, we had P&O arranged fights and transfers and we're swiftly collected from Sydney Airport to a waiting coach to the terminal, this was pain free and quite convenient. The embarkation tent was a nightmare, people everywhere, no lines to speak of at some points and people scattered everywhere. The cattle call to get people through was very long and tiresome. I understand getting 2000 passengers on is no easy feat, but it definitely was not orderly in any way. The Oceanview room at the time was comfortable and quite spacious, the décor was a little dated with garish orange striped curtains and slightly worn carpet, but I would assume this would have been updated by now with the new enhancements to the Jewel recently. Our cabin steward was initially very good, but did have a habit of ignoring the do not disturb signs in the evening... causing a bit of a scare of us one night! Luckily we were only napping as hubby was badly sunburned in Lifou the previous day, we were polite about it (as we aren't nasty people, the cabin stewards work hard and don't need rudeness from passengers) but we did mention that we didn't need the turn down service and were ok to miss it if our do not disturb sign was on the door, no problems. But lo and behold a few nights later when I was napping after dinner, (with the sign out) in he comes again! "Sorry, sorry.." he said, again no problems... But he was very distant with us after that. We felt bad, but we never did anything to make him feel bad and were completely ok with it, but he seemed to be annoyed that we even put the sign out. Nevermind! Just one of those niggly things. I just like to feel that If I need privacy, I can have it.... Good location for the cabin, towards the back of the ship 6196. Relatively quiet - just a bit noisy on port days when using the tender boats (Lifou) as they come past the window outside... that got our attention! We opted for an upgrade if one came available for a better cabin category, initially we booked and paid for 5150 and a few weeks before departure, we noticed we'd been bumped up a category to Deck 6. Not all that different, but nice all the same. The ship overall was good for a first time cruiser out of Australia, all costs onboard in Aus dollars, no tipping etc. Well sized and not too overwhelming. Slightly lacklustre in the activities department on our cruise, many options if you had younger children, but for a late 20s/early 30s couple, it was underwhelming. Luckily we don’t mind just relaxing and we’re able to enjoy the experience for what it was. Bingo was a laugh and we did like to do this and have some fun with it, no winning – but enjoyable entertainment. The shows were average, don’t expect a Broadway musical – more like Local theatre, but have fun with it. No circus at sea, just due to the rough seas we had. Art auction was quite interesting though, but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. We only ate in the main dining room on the sailaway evening, we were travelling with another couple and had a table for 4. Service was good, no complaints – food was also good. We only ate in the main dining room that one evening as we didn’t like having to call and make a reservation every day, we all just found it easier to eat in the buffet when we felt like it. Buffet was good, sometimes a little repetitive – but that’s to be expected. Got a bit crowded in the mornings for breakfast, but was ok for lunch and dinner times as people varied that a bit. Not a lot of food on offer outside of meal times if you didn’t wish to pay for it, but no biggie there either. We had shocking weather on our cruise. Just terrible, terrible luck. We only had one real day of sunshine and that was gorgeous… happened to be our port day to Lifou, where my husband proceeded to get himself very burnt – even with sunscreen on! That put a dampener (literally) on any real lazing by the pool (which weren’t the best design of that ship and number of passengers) decks and outdoor areas were very windy and showery, quite blustery. So I think activities were a little thin on the ground inside to cope. We missed our final port of Champagne Bay, Vanuatu due to Cyclone Atu sweeping through the region at the time, we appreciated the captain’s stance on not putting our safety in jeopardy and heading to safer waters as soon as possible. Completely understandable. P&O and the ship’s crew did attempt to find us an alternate port to make up for the day’s loss at Champagne bay, we attempted to tender at Isle of Pines as a substitute, but the waters were too rough to safely operate them, so we had to call it quits and head toward Sydney. The captain did try and make it up and took us on a scenic cruise past a World Heritage Site, Bells Pyramid and the Lord Howe Island Marine Park, which was lovely. Again, no one’s fault, just rotten luck and made for a bit of a long “cabin fever-esque” trip back to Australia. Noumea: Very nice and interesting place. Being our first cruise we went with a ship tour to the Noumea aquarium, some scenic highlights and past Anse Vata Beach on the way back. The aquarium was nice, but nothing spectacular. But the sightseeing was a nice sampler of the place. We were thankful when we returned to the ship later that evening as we head some other passengers recounting how they’d paid a local “tour operator” a cheaper sum than offered by the cruise line to do the same tour, he’d taken them to the Aquarium and advised he’d be back and never showed up again… luckily the last ship tour had some spare seats, took pity on them and bought them back. We also did the glass bottom boat ride out around Amadee Island, very nice. Just not a particularly brilliant day weather wise, it was raining in the morning and came out in patchy cloud that afternoon – which didn’t make things as fun. We went for a short walk around the town area just where the boat docks, it’s interesting… again, not exactly comfortable with what seems to be a lot of local groups just hanging around the place. Some were friendly, others seemed to want to try and intimidate you. So we just looked at a few streets and headed back on board a few hours before sail away. Lifou: Our nice, warm, blue skies “what we imagined the South Pacific to be” destination! We didn’t do a tour here, just got off the ship on the tender boats (bit of a queue for that!) and went for a walk along the main road. Locals were very friendly and waved as you passed by. We spent the afternoon snorkelling just by the jetty/tender dock and enjoyed seeing the gorgeous tropical fish in the aqua water. Even though hubby’s back and back of his legs were lobster red that night, he said it was his trip highlight. It was mine too. We later found out there was a much more calm and scenic snorkelling reef a few mins walk over the other side of the island that is more sheltered, but we didn’t know at the time! Vila: Very jungle like and green as you dock, but seems to be that you dock in a very industrial type area – not in the town as you do in Noumea. We had an organised tour (Off road buggys!) so we waited in the waiting tent down on the dock for our tour transport with the other 10 or so people from the ship. Some rickety old vans arrived to take us to the Buggy place, I can honestly say their driving style is a little more daring than I’m used to in Australia! Darting across roads, overtaking… wow, bit of an eye opener! Off road buggy’s was hilarious fun – again it was a light misty rain that day, so everything was muddy. Don’t wear anything you don’t want covered in it! The actual venue was a paddock with a rustic shed, full of cows and chickens. We were taken through paddocks on to actual roads with cars, past homes and other sights – it was great. Coming back there were so many stalls lining the roadside to meet the ship, locals selling trinkets and crafts, we didn’t bother walking back as it had started raining heavily by that point, so we just jumped back on board. Leaving Vila the sky was black in Port, a few passengers names were being called over the loudspeaker asking them to report to the ship immediately. This went on for a while, and eventually we left port. It was then that the captain announced the cyclone and that heading up to Champagne Bay would be unsafe. We had some rock n roll waves for that cruise, Captain said they were very large over 20ft at some points, it was a bit of a hold on tight time! Water was splashing on our Deck 6 high window and the passenger decks were closed off a lot, but I must say for a 70,000 tonne mid-sized cruise ship, the Jewel did very well and I never felt unsafe or sick for that matter (we did take sea sickness tablets each night as a precaution). Public rooms such as the toilets left a lot to be desired, with frequent overflowing, paper everywhere and no cleaners in sight. People can be such pigs, but I did avoid the restrooms in the public areas after a while I must admit... So in closing, it wasn’t the best of times, but it was a holiday at a really good price for 10 nights! I say this even having had hot water spilled in my lap at Afternoon tea, they tried to cram everyone together to make it easier to serve. The boat lurched and the waiter was struggling to get between squished patrons and the water went straight in my lap from the teapot! It wasn't too scalding, but it wasn't pleasant either. He was very apologetic and I understand it was an accident and he was working in conditions that weren't optimal. I was taken to the Medical centre for a check up, where I must say they were more concerned with getting me to admit I was ok, that see if I was actually OK! I'm not once to capitalize on a mistake when i'm truly alright, so I said i'd see how my red legs came up the next day before answering their questions however! Then they told me "no charge" for the medical visit... Uh... I should think not! haha I was ok, no ongoing pain and the redness was gone in a few hours after a cold pack was applied, but there was zero follow up and no reply to my feedback on the dining room set up for afternoon tea set up. Not really the best service experience. I would say now that there is the water park and a few other items on Jewel things would have improved vastly, but upon looking back we realise and understand it is a more budget friendly line and expectations need to be in line with that. Take it for what it is, great value and honest fun at sea and enjoy what you can. We loved cruising as a whole and are going again, this time with Royal Caribbean to New Zealand.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Week Fantastique. July 9th to July 16, 2011. *Brisbane * Noumea * Lifou * Port Vila * Brisbane. By Cassie Grieves (8 years old) with a little help from Mum. Day One (Sat 9thJuly) : Our Adventure Begins.... I can't ... Read More
Week Fantastique. July 9th to July 16, 2011. *Brisbane * Noumea * Lifou * Port Vila * Brisbane. By Cassie Grieves (8 years old) with a little help from Mum. Day One (Sat 9thJuly) : Our Adventure Begins.... I can't wait to go on the cruise. It's my first time and I'm so excited. Grandma and Grandpa came to pick us up at 6.00am and drove us to the airport. Nike, my dog, came to the airport too. He was barking and crying when we left him behind with Grandma and Grandpa. I helped pack my Nintendo, camera and black poodle bag. We flew all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane. It took about 2 hours. When we landed in Brisbane it was 15 degrees. We took a taxi to the port and checked in. When we were able to board the Pacific Dawn I was so amazed. The ship had a swimming pool and whirlpools. We went to Palm Court for lunch. We shared our table with an old couple. There was an announcement for everyone to go to the Show Lounge for a safety drill. The cruise director had a microphone in his hand and talked about safety should something go wrong. We booked into the Shark Shack kids club. I love playing air ice hockey. We went to a magic show. One trick was swallowing razor blades. Another was escaping a strait jacket. There was a trick using Chinese rings. I know there is a hole in one of rings but I don't know how he did the razorblade trick. We went to a laser light show in the Atrium. I thought of my friend Lucia. She would have loved it. The music was a bit too loud but it was so beautiful. Bright pink, orange, green and more different colours. At the start of the show the music went "DerDerDerDoooo DoDoDoooooo". And kept getting lower and lower. It gave me a fright. That night I dreamed about what tomorrow might be like, the magic show and the laser show. Day Two (Sun 10th July): First day at sea... I got up and got changed as usual. We had breakfast in bed. It was delicious. In the afternoon we went to the buffet. I had curry with rice, fruit, vegetables and bread rolls. I wore my bathers underneath my clothes. After eating I jumped in the pool. It was freezing. I jumped straight out and said "BrrBrr" a few times. I waited on the outdoor stage for the staff to open the spa. I waited for ten minutes. We jumped in. It was so hot. I made a friend called MacKenzie. We played together and danced. After that we went downstairs and watched the circus. They did amazing things like dropping down from really high. It was quite dangerous. Later when I went back to the Shark Shack I saw my new friend MacKenzie there. I saw the "Do you wanna Dance ?" show in the Show Lounge. The singers and dancers were very good. My favourite dance was the bullfight-like dance. When we went back to the room, our cabin steward, Jonel, had made a dog out of towels for me. The eyes were made from the lids of the milk packages. Day 3 (Mon 11th July): Noumea, New Caledonia Our ship arrived at New Caledonia. We caught a bus. It took us to Anse Vata beach. We walked along the beach and I picked coconuts from the trees. I ate an icecream and Mum had a crepe. Mum said $8 is a lot to pay for an icecream. We waited for the bus there. When we hopped off I saw a stage and ran to it and did cartwheels. My hands got dirty. We went back to the boat and had dinner. It was so delicious. There were some rich chocolates on our bed. Mmmmmm. Then we went to the market. Mum, bought a necklace for grandma. It was expensive. But mum bought cheaper ones for Ju Feng, Susan and Sara. I wanted a necklace but got a ball that flashes when it bounces instead. Day 4 : (Tue 12 th July) Lifou I woke up and it was like any other day. I had Nutrigrain and bacon and eggs for breakfast. I then went downstairs one floor and I saw MacKenzie. She is my best friend on the cruise. She was getting changed to go to a Village tour. I went down to deck 5. I went in a boat. These boats are called tenders. We went snorkelling. We saw a lot of colourful fish and coral. The colours of the fish were wonderful. We bumped into MacKenzie's family. We walked along and Mum went to a garden. It had a house where the natives live. There was a dog. It was so skinny because it did not have enough food. It was so hot there. When we came to the end of it I had a coconut drink...REALLY ORGANIC. We went back and I went to the Shark Shack. Afterwards we saw "The Pirates of the Pacific" show. When I came back to the cabin Jonel had made me an elephant made of towels. Day 5 : (Wed 13th July) Vanuatu I woke up at 7.15am. Well I actually woke up at six something. I had breakfast at 7.15am. Nutrigrain and apple juice. I played my Nintendo for 50 minutes. I played Mario Bros. I went to World One. I went to Bowsers Castle but then died. I went on a buggy at Off Road Adventures. I was screaming when we first went on the buggies because it was so fast. We went through a sandy part and it was so dusty. Lucky Mum gave me a scarf to cover my nose and mouth. Our buggy broke down and we had to get a new battery. It took a long time so we had to speed really fast to catch up to the others. It was so fast I nearly fell out ! We saw hundreds of baby turtles. We were allowed to pick them up. They were so cute. I went to lunch and had an organic steak. I cut the steak into little bits and put some lettuce on top and got to make a sandwich. Later when we were driving back home I threw some lollies, menthos, to the children. We went to Cascade Falls. It was so beautiful. I had to climb through the water and some parts were slippery. I went for a swim. It was very cold but refreshing. Dad tried to take a picture of me but I always stuck my tongue out! When we went back I didn't want to go. We went back to the ship. We played bingo. Mum said if she won the $2000 jackpot, she would give it to MacKenzie's Mum. MacKenzie's sister has something wrong with her and needs some special care. Unfortunately though we didn't win. That night was island night. Mum went in a hula hoop competition and was really good. I did some dancing too. Day 6 (Thu 14th July) : At Sea I thought about Nike and wondered if he was crying. There were a few theme nights while we at sea. Island night, cowboy night and a couple of formal nights. Mum & Dad also went to cocktails with the Captain of the ship and some of his senior officers. Mum and Dad got a photo with the Captain's autograph on it for free. Day 7: (Fri 15th July) : At Sea We tried our luck again at bingo. This time the jackpot was $4000. We thought if we won we'd give $2000 to MacKenzie's sister, Paris, and then buy a painting we saw at the auction. It was a painting of a ballerina. I thought the picture was beautiful and I do ballet too. Dad went to golf putting. Dad also sang karaoke but I wasn't able to watch because it was in the Bengal Bar. I slept while Dad was singing. Dad was in the golf putting contest but he didn't win. He was also in the Pacific Popstar competition. He didn't win but got a P&O bag with P&O caps, key chains and a stubby holder. Day 8 (Sat 16th July) Back to Brisbane We had a look at the photo boards and bought about 5. They were photo-shopped so it looked a bit like our faces were made of wax. We arrived back in Brisbane at 6am and were off the ship by 7.30am. I can't wait for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Embarkation - Smooth - the best we have experienced from the tent at Wharf 5. Room key plus a separate cruise card a nuisance at first but you get used to it. Disembarkation was even better - just luck that a Maxi Taxi appeared on cue ... Read More
Embarkation - Smooth - the best we have experienced from the tent at Wharf 5. Room key plus a separate cruise card a nuisance at first but you get used to it. Disembarkation was even better - just luck that a Maxi Taxi appeared on cue within 5 minutes. Excellent assistance for people in wheelchairs or with mobility problems. Cabin - Good - midships starboard side. The balcony is quite narrow with an outward opening door that limits the usefulness of the full width - the door will not open or close if one of the chairs is in the way. We were glad we had booked deck 11 with the open balcony rails when we saw the width of the balcony. The much reported noise from the Pool Deck above was not a problem for us but then we live in the inner city in close proximity to our neighbours and have developed a somewhat Japanese attitude to neighbour noise, Our Steward - Edela from the Philippines was on hand to welcome us aboard and check for any special requests. She provided excellent and caring service throughout the cruise. First impressions of the ship - dEcor a surprise - warm tones with columns of iridescent red in the lift lobbies and luminous pink highlights in public areas at night. The warm colours were followed through in the cabin with full length striped curtains in yellow and burnt orange, which reminded me of our room at Circus Circus many years ago in Las Vegas. Thankfully no luminous pink lighting. The walls were a pleasant (and restful) light blue green. Lots of storage and a pleasant open feel to the space. Champagne on the balcony - for us a cruise tradition. I would swap the Spa area on Deck 14 for more open public space and the pool deck was not as attractive as other ships we have been on. Otherwise the public areas were varied and not usually overcrowded. Navigating the ship - Our cabin was midships - the nearest lifts only reach as far as deck 11 so getting to 12 for the pool, buffet and speciality restaurants meant a trip along a corridor to the forward or aft lifts. We are not lazy - Harry rides a small bright red mobility scooter. I walk ahead waving a warning flag, watching out for my own heels and the toes of people wearing thongs. One midships lift went out of service early on but was fixed within a day - otherwise no lift problems, except on the final morning when everyone plus their hand baggage was trying to cram into the same lift at the same time. Being the last day, most were back into shore side rush hour mode and complained grumpily about the delay instead of airily waving the lift on with a "No Worries Mate, we'll take the stairs". Dining - We chose to sit at the same table for two each night in the Waterfront for late service dinner and found this worked for us - booking for the next night as we walked out Our companions at the adjacent tables changed each night and conversation was easy. The wait staff quickly worked out our preferences. Wine and food arrived at a comfortable pace and at the right temperature. After the first few days we ate lunch in the Waterfront Restaurant in preference to the Plantation Buffet. Service was a little less responsive at lunch when we had a different table and therefore different wait staff but was still good . Waterfront is a very different main dining room from our experience on Princess and HAL - no sweeping staircase or frescoed ceilings. It is modern in style and divided into smaller more intimate spaces by wait stations, which are topped with clumps of artificial grass. The Executive Chef has a good joke to tell about this grass, which I won't spoil. Go to the Culinary show and do the galley tour. The quality of the food varied based on what we chose - sometimes we chose well sometimes not. The nightly specials were worth trying and the always available selections were usually good especially the soups and light dishes. Extra bread rolls, butter or a quick change of a bad choice for a better one were not a problem. We ate breakfast in our cabin or on the balcony ordering a basic room service continental breakfast and adding some extras from the buffet. Room service was always on time with hot coffee and was worth the $3 delivery charge for us. We ate once at both La Luna and Salt Grill - enjoyed both as a novelty but not overly impressed. Bar prices - This took us two sea days to work out. The penny dropped on the third night after we had conducted serious research in several bars. A cocktail in the "premium" bar on Deck 7 - the Atrium Mix Bar - will cost you $15 and a shot of whisky $10 - more for single malts - "We only serve premium brands in this bar." commented the bar tender when we asked for House Scotch. By comparison, in Connexions - a larger bar with a dance floor on deck 7 - a cocktail will cost $7 - $9 with beer less than $6. The price lists on each table spell out the cost of cocktails but not individual prices for beer, wine or soft drinks. These are Price On Application and asking is the way to go. So ask and shop around. Room Service prices vary from $5.50 for XXXX to $144 for Moet with a $3 charge for delivery. You can buy a cocktail, a mocktail, wine or beer at almost any bar and carry your drink(s) away with you wherever you like. Breakable glasses on the pool deck are discouraged. Wine by the glass is not good value so buy a bottle and either leave it in the dining room for the next meal or take the remainder with you back to your cabin or onto the next activity - no problems. Entertainment - The signature Pacific Cirque shows are brilliant. On this cruise the winds were too chancy for open air Deck 12 performances. The Atrium is a good alternative - aim for level 6 and get in early for a good view - pretend you are waiting for a washing machine in the Laundromat and take a book. The Production Shows were energetic, well designed and very well received. Some of the individual guest artist performances were a little lost in the large two tiered Marquee theatre unless you were in the A grade stalls on Deck 7 or front balcony rows on Deck 8. There was one very good light classics pianist Ian Mason, who mostly played in the (Premium) Mix Bar. Meet the Cast plus the (optional) Backstage tour on the last day was an interesting and fun look into working as an entertainer on board a cruise ship. On Board Activities - Short, varied and frequent was the usual pattern unless you go in for bridge or bingo - both requiring a longer attention span than I can manage on a cruise. I stopped counting the individual activities on offer on sea days after 40. The range and spread out locations for all this busyness was enough to distribute the passengers throughout the ship and the only crowded spaces were the pool deck on sunny days, Bingo as the prize snowballed and Connexions bar in the evening. Shore Tours - The Shore Tour Desk was helpful when the tour we had booked ahead on line was cancelled. To find an alternative tour in Port Denarau, we needed confirmed assistance with tendering and on shore transport that could manage the scooter. This was organised by email from the shore tour desk to the tour operator in Nadi and it all worked, We were escorted via the secret lift to the tender level and on shore were directed to the bus with the luggage space we needed for the scooter. I did the Isle of Pines Natural Aquarium Tour and recommend it - good exercise, a beautiful beach and some interesting fish. Otherwise we did our own thing on shore. On Mystery Island, I did a local off the beach "Best Snorkelling" trip to the fringing reef for $25 including (dare I say it) a tip. I recommend this option having snorkelled directly off the beach on a previous cruise. You get away from the crowds, your camera and bag are safe in the boat and there are some wonderful stag coral formations , a variety of fish and plenty of coral outcrops I really noticed the crowds on Mystery Island this visit but despite this the tender operation was smooth and well organised. Overall - Enjoyable - much more so than we were expecting from some of the reviews we had read. The weather was kind apart from missing landfall on Dravuni Island and the ports were varied and spaced well over the 14 days. The real plus was the excellent service from staff in dining areas, bars, at reception and in general just walking around the ship - smiles and greetings on all sides. The Jewel seemed a happy ship. If you are looking for a special occasion cruise with dressing for dinner, silver service and formality, this is not the ship for you. From our experience, you will have a relaxing and entertaining cruise with good service and a wide variety of food and entertainment. We chose the mini suite to provide room for the scooter - not sure it would be worth the extra if you did not need the space as we did. The standard balcony cabins on Deck 11 seemed reasonable and not cramped. The mini suite balcony is no wider only longer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised ... Read More
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised to some of these islands. Embarkation: This is the first cruise to which we didn't have to fly as we live near Brisbane. The shuttle service offered by the nearby car storage was efficient. Embarkation went smoothly with lines moving quickly. The wait for your number to be called was reasonable considering we were early. Once on board, we were directed to our cabin where we left our hand luggage and went exploring, followed by lunch. The ship left on time at 2 pm. One of our suitcases took until late afternoon to appear. The Ship: Built in 1991 this ship was showing its age but the recent refurbishment helped it feel modern. Public areas were nicer than we expected. As it was originally the Regal Princess there was similarities to that line. There was some rough weather on this cruise with some seasickness experienced by other passengers. Perhaps a more modern ship would have handled the waves better. Cabin: Our ocean-view cabin was very pleasing and surprisingly large. With the bed head on the side wall the window view was quite good. The bed was comfortable with 4 pillows supplied. This was the first time our suitcases couldn't fit under the bed but there was a space on both sides of the window behind the curtain where we could stow them. We liked the open style walk-in type robe which had good hanging space. The shower was a generous size. One of the things changed during the refurbishment were new flat-screen TVs (a bit small). The small fridge was handy for keeping our supply of Coke & snacks cold. Our only disappointment was that the floor had obviously not been vacuumed and the plug was jammed fast in the basin. When we pointed this out to our cabin steward he apologised profusely and immediately rectified the problems. He seemed very efficient at his job. Food & drinks: Overall we found the service in the main dining room (Palm Court) to be fine but the standard of food was inferior ' maybe they were hoping more people would use the extra-charge restaurants (which we didn't use). There was a noticeable lack of seafood other than fish ' not even the usual prawn cocktails (as my DW is not a seafood lover she was happy with the quality). We were pleased with being able to choose side vegetables on the menu. Although you were supposed to book each night for dinner, we sat with a lovely couple from our Cruise Critic roll call and they were able to organise the same table and dining time for the whole cruise. It is relaxing having the same dinner companions and the same dining room staff got to know our preferences. After experiencing the long lines at the buffet (Caf' Del Sol) the first morning, we used the MRD for breakfast every other morning. The food seemed better and the atmosphere more relaxing for breakfast. We did use the buffet for lunch but wished there were separate food stations as on other ships ' trays are still supplied. Some times the line stretched almost out the door! There were rolls and French fries available outside on the deck. Food at the buffet is not available 24/7 as on Princess ships and the times varied between sea and port days. Disappointedly burgers, prawns and ice-cream were only available for a price (except vanilla ice-cream was available in the MRD at night). The only exception was on the last day at lunch when prawns were offered at the buffet ' maybe they hadn't sold enough! Coffee and tea was available 24/7 but there were no cookies at any time ' except by buying them from the coffee shop! Also we missed the freshly made waffles for breakfast offered on some other ships. There was no drink packages offered ' a can of soft drink was expensive at $2.75. Wine choices and price were similar to other cruise lines. Room service was $3 for delivery. We were pleased to see hand-sanitizers at MRD and the buffet. Also the public toilets had the main door open and/or paper towels supplied to open them. Staff and service on board: Generally the staff were friendly and polite. The service was as expected for a 3 star ship. Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows in the main theatre as we have done on other cruises. These are the highlight of our evening. The lighting and costumes in the production shows were spectacular and the performers on the stage worked hard to entertain. The other entertainers were good as was the Cruise director. Also in the atrium on 2 nights an acrobatic group from Columbia performed - they were just amazing. This was viewable from three decks with the only downsize was the lack of seating provided. The program of activities from which to choose was fine. Some of our highlights were the humorous culinary demonstration in the theatre & the passenger singing competition. We did miss not having the informative enrichment lectures offered my other lines. At the open games/card venue offered by the ship, we found 3 lovely passengers with whom we played cards every day. Shore Excursions & Destinations: We normally try to avoid shore excursions organised by ships as we feel that they were too expensive. On this cruise we were happy to do our own thing. Armed with maps & information collected before the cruise, we easily explored ourselves. Three of the 4 ports required using tenders and the delays with these were reasonable. As the weather was very wet at the 1st port, Isle of Pines (and we'd been there before), we stayed on the ship. At the next, Mystery Island we walked around the island and snorkelled. The 3rd stop was Port Villa, the only docking port where we did our own walking tour followed by shopping ' duty-free alcohol was the only thing cheap there (e.g. 2L bottle of Jim Beam for $20). The last port, Lifou Isle was disappointing as the lovely snorkelling beach (Jinek Bay) was difficult to access as the steps were washed away last year and still not replaced ' don't forget they're on island time!. The only means of accessing the beach was by a primitive ladder that had slippery and widely spaced rungs. My DW did not want to risk it. Disembarkation: Being one of the last groups to leave the ship, we were delayed way past the scheduled time of departure. Maybe disembarkation was delayed by customs. Anyway, we weren't in any rush as we only had to collect our car from storage and drive home. Conclusion: As we paid $72 each per day for an ocean-view cabin which is less than half the usual promoted special price for this cruise, we certainly had value for money. Anyone paying the usual price may have felt different. This is only rated a 3 star ship by P&O and as such is not to the usual standard of Princess or Holland America which are owned by the same company, Carnival Corporation. Australians are a bit of a captive segment as until recently P&O had no competition here. In the present economic climate this has changed but Carnival still requires Australians to book through the local agent thus missing out on discounts offered to Americans. Also P&O doesn't have a loyalty program like its sisters' lines. Being retired we could take advantage of the late special. Anyone with children would need to book early as there were 300 children on this cruise and it wasn't school holidays! In our opinion the ship, service and entertainment are generally satisfactory but the quality of the food could have improved for seafood lovers. We would recommend P&O at the right price and would sail again with them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Because of work commitments my husband and I had separate holidays this year. He went to Malaysia with his mother for a week and I decided to take a cruise. I have wanted to try one for several years now and it seemed like the perfect ... Read More
Because of work commitments my husband and I had separate holidays this year. He went to Malaysia with his mother for a week and I decided to take a cruise. I have wanted to try one for several years now and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. If I liked it then my husband had agreed to go on a cruise with me next year. I was looking forward to a relaxing solo holiday, but at the last minute a friend decided to join me. I was anticipating some hassles, but it was a very easy process to get the cabin configured for twin beds and have her added to the booking. Having read other reviews on Cruise Critic I was determined to get to the terminal early on embarkation day and, as a result, check in and boarding went very smoothly. The staff were all friendly and patient with my 'first time cruiser' questions and the lines were very short. When my friend arrived a little later in the day the lines were bigger and it took a little longer. Now, I haven't been on a cruise ship before, and from some of the (not very complimentary) reviews about the Dawn I was a trifle worried that the ship would be small and dated and not particularly clean. I needn't have worried. The Dawn cuts an impressive figure moored in the Brisbane river, towering above all of the buildings -quite a sight for the uninitiated. The decor on board is quite 90's-ish in tans and peaches and golds, but the ship is tidy and there's a nod toward the art deco era that I appreciated as I (along with a lot of others I imagine) have a fantasy of cruising that revolves around the golden era of the ocean liner in the 1910's and 20's I had booked a stateroom with a balcony and my travel agent had got me a room in the middle of the ship. I have been on plenty of boats before but I was a bit worried about seasickness so I figured that if worse came to worse I could sit out on my own balcony and feel green in privacy. I needn't have worried about the seasickness. We had 3m swells for the entire trip and my stomach was a little upset for the first 24 hours but once my body got used to it I was just fine - I even find myself missing the rocking now when I'm in bed at night! The balcony turned out the be the best thing ever. I spent hours out there with a shawl, a drink and one of the three books I had brought. It's amazing how mesmerising the ocean is and just how many stars there are at night! The room was fine. It was clean and tidy and in good repair, about the size and quality of an average hotel room. There was TONS of closet and drawer space and the hangers were great. I had brought some from home as well, just in case, but I could have left them in my closet and been just as happy. The bathroom was ingenious. The toilet was angled into the bathroom so you didn't feel cramped. there was lots of storage space in the cabinets around the mirror, enough for make up and toiletries for two girls with room to spare. The shower was huge (although the shower curtain did like to adhere to you - maybe a door would have been better) and the water pressure was great - another pleasant surprise. I have to add a note here about our room stewards (we had 2). The were both fantastic, really friendly and helpful. I've never had that level of service in any hotel, ever. I left glowing reviews for them with the reception and tipped (P&O has removed any tipping requirement and New Zealand does not have a tipping culture so that was quite a big deal for me). I have a thing about buffets and hygiene. My mother was a little bit neurotic (well.. kind of a lot neurotic actually) and as a result I don't eat from buffets or salad bars if I can help it, so my friend and I ate at the Palm Court Dining room for all of our meals. The food was great, not quite fine dining, but there was a good choice and you could always find something that you were suer to enjoy. The service was generally good with a few really excellent waiters and a couple of unpleasant ones. Needless to say, the good ones got a written recommendation and a compliment to the maitre'd (but not a tip, the anytime dining meant that we never had the same waiter for more than 1 or 2 meals) We never had a problem getting a seat in the dining room and it was good to meet different people at every meal. Most of the time it was easy to make conversation. If all else failed you could always revert to the general questions: So... have you cruised before? Have you had a good time so far? Will you be staying on in NZ after the cruise? etc. I thought that I would be really busy going to all the activities, but to my surprise I ended up leaving my friend to go to all of the lifestyle seminars and zumba classes and I eked out my own schedule that mainly consisted of strolling along the promenade deck and jogging track, reading on my balcony, sketching on the promenade deck, drinking the odd G&T in the Bengal Bar, dressing for dinner and catching the evening shows. The shows were a bit of a mixed bag. The comedians were alright, the circus performers were great, and the musical shows were oriented towards the kids - we didn't make it through Pirates of the Pacific. Disembarkation was a breeze. We were breakfasted and off the ship by 10.30am. It was all handled very efficiently. Wow, I've written quite a bit more than I intended. All in all it was a great holiday. Far more relaxing than I had anticipated but brilliant just the same. At the risk of sounding soppy being 'at sea' was a unique experience. Even with the resort-like facilities and the two thousand other passengers I still felt like an explorer when I stood at the rail and looked out at the endless waves. It was eminently intoxicating. My next stop is the travel agent for more cruise brochures. Maybe Asia next year? Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Checkin was easy and the line moved really quickly. The cabins are bigger and our steward was there to greet us on arrival, he did a great job throughout the cruise. We booked the same table every night as we liked our waiters and dining ... Read More
Checkin was easy and the line moved really quickly. The cabins are bigger and our steward was there to greet us on arrival, he did a great job throughout the cruise. We booked the same table every night as we liked our waiters and dining companions. The food, while delicious is not up to Princess standards, that is the only area we think lets P&O down, it's not a bad thing you just aren't tempted to eat so much. The "anytime" dining is the only complaint we have. We think they should return to 2 sitting times. Lining up to rebook our regular table for Christmas dinner was a pain that lasted about 30 minutes. I do hear the line got longer as breakfast progressed. It isn't anytime dining anyway, they still seem to have only 2 sittings. The Pacific Entertainer performances were first class. Don't miss the Pacific Cirque performances, they will blow you away with their skills. All of the entertainment staff were energetic and engaging which made the activities really enjoyable. Love your work Nick and Anthony! Particular favourites were the trivia, pictionary and tabletennis tournaments. Not to mention the Karaoke and Popstars, now they were great entertainment. The Bengal Bar is a great place to gather and meet new friends. The drink prices are acceptable, the photos a little expensive but you don't have to buy them. The shops could have had more Christmas themed stock but that's a minor issue. We didn't book any tours and were happy enough to do our own thing, snorkelling on all the islands, which by the way were really beautiful. We were told to take reef shoes for the coral and also some small toys for the local kids and are glad we did. On the last day we donated our snorkel gear and reef shoes to some very grateful locals. Noumea and Vila were our least favourite stops, in hindsight it would have been better to have pre booked some tours at these ports as we only saw the drab side of them. In Vila you are met by some very over zealous taxi and bus drivers. Get a price before you get into the vehicle and make sure they stick to it. Some people paid a driver for the day ($100-$150) and they then took them around to all the places worth seeing. From what we heard they all had a very enjoyable day. Otherwise there are a lot of tours on offer from the boat, though book early for Vila. Champagne Bay was by far our favourite port, the place is just so relaxing, the shade from the large trees is spectacular. The best snorkelling is on Lifou, walk to the other side of the island. Wala has a local man who slices up locally produced tropical fruit and presents it on a banana leaf for $5 which is great value. Mystery Island is the place to buy coconuts for the juice, very nice. The gym, being on level 2 is a letdown, it would be better to have ocean views as you workout, like on Princess ships. It is also very small. Overall, despite a couple of rough days we had a lovely holiday and will definitely travel with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We did the 'Week Tropique' Cruise starting in Brisbane and sailing up the Australian coast to Port Douglas and back. The positives: The fare was very cheap and we had a great cabin on Deck 6 with lots of cupboard space and the ... Read More
We did the 'Week Tropique' Cruise starting in Brisbane and sailing up the Australian coast to Port Douglas and back. The positives: The fare was very cheap and we had a great cabin on Deck 6 with lots of cupboard space and the bedding was clean and comfortable. The food was great in the dining room but you had to book to get a table. The buffet was more of a case of 'quantity over quality' but it was great for breakfast. The ship has many bars and cafes; all with their own character and relatively friendly staff. The negatives: The ship is looking quite dated. Carpets and wall adornments were faded and musty-smelling. Certain decks were looking particularly tired and worn. An inordinate number of very young adults had booked onto our cruise. Consequently the pool was always full of drunk 21 year olds; we rarely felt comfortable even just going for a swim. Nobody seemed to be 'policing' their behavior and the whole experience began to feel like 'Spring Break' at sea. The were also many children on board. That's fine but they were frequently seen in 'adult' areas and the 'adult pool' and, again, crew didn't seem to notice or care. Final gripe; some staff were very friendly and accomodating. Others were aloof and cold particularly some of the younger entertainment performers and dining room waiters. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We had a wonderful time on our first ever cruise. Yes, we have nothing to compare it to but we had a great time. We travelled with 3 children from 15-25 and all agreed that the experience was positive. The photographers were probably ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on our first ever cruise. Yes, we have nothing to compare it to but we had a great time. We travelled with 3 children from 15-25 and all agreed that the experience was positive. The photographers were probably the only "low" point - a little pushy and some quite rude if you decline a photo - but we managed these guys by either ignoring them or pulling silly faces! We had no intention of purchasing the overpriced photos. The food was average to very good depending where you ate, but loads of it - I think we all packed on a kilo or 2. Only complaint I have with relation to restaurants on board is that you don't really get informed about what is included and where etc. You need to "discover" this for yourself. The onboard activities are fun and a great way to meet your crew and other fellow passengers. We enjoyed the triva, dance classes, juggling class, bingo, martini class etc - if you get bored on a cruise - you just aren't trying hard enough!! All crew and other staff we met were friendly and happy to help out if needed. Our cabin steward was wonderful and attentive - although a little inconsistent at times. Overall I have no complaints about Pasific Dawn, her crew, her ports of call or anything else. We would be back again next week if we could. If you have spare time be prepared to stay onboard for a back to back cruise, they offer specials at the end of each cruise which are UNREAL - ie less than half the price you probably paid for the first one. N Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
In short -- we had a great time. The longer story - This was our sixth cruise but our first with P&O and we were a little bit sceptical due to some of the reviews and feedback received so we decided to go with an open mind and not ... Read More
In short -- we had a great time. The longer story - This was our sixth cruise but our first with P&O and we were a little bit sceptical due to some of the reviews and feedback received so we decided to go with an open mind and not to expect too much. We were very pleasantly surprised. This was also to be our first cruise from our home port so there were no flights and accommodation involved. We simply had a very relaxed morning, packed our cases and drove to the Gateway Parking near the terminal. They quickly had us at the terminal by 11.00am. Unbeknown to us, this was a mother's day cruise and there were many mothers and daughters on board. It was the usual busy scenario that we have encountered at other terminals, we stood in line and and we had our cruise cards in our hands about 35-40 mins later. Off to the bar at Portside Wharf and it was time to begin celebrating our holiday with a few drinks. Back to the terminal, through customs where I claimed my obligatory refund from the TRS counter and we stepped on board and proceeded to our outside cabin on Deck 9. The first thing we noticed was the size of our cabin, compared to the other ships we had cruised on (Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Rhapsody of the Seas). Very impressed and we liked the separate bathroom and wardrobe area. There are heaps of drawers, lots of space. We quickly unpacked and it was off to explore. We had a quick walk around the Atrium, visited the library and then headed to the dining room for lunch. There was nothing wrong with the food here, though the service was a bit slow. After lunch we headed to the top deck for the Sail away party. Singing, dancing it was all happening, however, we like many others were content to watch from the walking track and also watch the river as we passed. Before we knew it, we were cruising past Moreton Island (with cocktails in hand) and we saw a beautiful sunset over the Glasshouse Mountains. By this time, we were getting a bit hungry so headed to our cabin to dress for dinner. For the rest of our cruise, although the food was very nice, the service was still slow. Even our waiters (who were great) a few times offered us more bread, as they laughed our meals might come tomorrow. We decided to eat breakfast and lunch in the buffet, the food was always well presented and we had no complaints about the quality of the food whatsoever. We did find it odd that the dessert area was between the salad and hot dishes areas but no big deal. One of the first things we noticed was that all the prices seemed reasonable. Of course we could only compare to our previous cruises but everything was of course in Aussie currency and there is no tipping. Because of this, we didn't have to consider the conversion plus gratuities and so for the first time, we freely spent. (Perhaps a good ploy by P&O) We felt the shows were lacking something but then again we thought the same of Princess and RCI ships. The guest artists and musicians we thought were very good. On the last night there was a jam session in the Atrium with the bands and crew, this was a highlight for us, very good! We visited the Spa and gym but somewhat disappointed they were in the bowels of the ship on Deck 2. Once again for the first time on any cruise, we used the spa services. Prices were expensive but nowhere near as expensive as the fore mentioned ships. We purchased the couple's sauna package and used the facilities every day, it was good for some quiet time. We sometimes looked at each other and laughed in the Relaxation lounge as we heard staff scurrying around and banging things... nevertheless - We liked the spa, it was a good experience, one downside no spa, no hot tub -- only on the decks in the public areas. We feel the photos were of good quality and also lashed out and bought most of them, although we dodged the photographers on a few occasions. We had visited Noumea and Vila before but not Lifou, so we were looking forward to that especially as we really enjoyed Isle of Pines on our previous trip. We normally would book a driver and explore on our own, however once again as the Shore tour prices seemed reasonable, we opened our credit card to P&O again! In Noumea, we booked a "Sail the bays" shore tour. This was a sailing trip on a small cat with only about 20 passengers, we sailed to a spot just off L'Escapade Island where we snorkelled on the reef. After snacks and coffee, we sailed to Duck Island which we had visited on our last cruise, once again there was a beautiful sunset. The guide was an Aussie from Perth living in Noumea and he was very informative. Next day In Lifou, we decided to do our own thing and we were tendered to shore reasonably quickly. We looked at the markets and grabbed some local treats then walked towards the town, we stopped for a look at the Catholic Church, visited the cave for a swim and then headed back to Jinek Bay and the Lady of Lourdes Church which we have seen on so many photos. We had a quick dip on the beach and headed back to ship. Next day in Vila, we booked a trip which included a paddle in an outrigger style canoe, island visit and a snorkel off Irriki Island all within site of the ship. It was a good tour and interesting to hear how the locals have lived simply on the island. Ok just a few little downsides for us , nothing major though and probably not worth mentioning. There is no forward facing deck on the ship for viewing, although I did hear there is a small area on one of the decks. We had some cabin noise early in the mornings from furniture being moved around in the Oasis which woke us up. Why screen Sky UK news on the big screen while we are doing our laps? If any news, how about Sky Australia? On the plus side- Our cabin was of a good size and our steward was attentive. Reasonable duty free prices on board -2 bottles for $25 and $35 depending on the type -- great value. Embarkation, tendering, and disembarkation -- everything well organised. We were disembarked at 8.15am, picked up by Gateway Parking , in our car and home by 9.00am, couldn't fault the process. I believe P&O have hit the mark understanding what Aussies want in a cruise. The Australian touch -- meat pies, sausage sizzle and hamburgers and chips readily available at the grill. At the Captain's cocktail party, he said a ship is only as good as its crew and they were great. We gladly handed in our tip form to reception. There was something for everyone on this trip, if you didn't enjoy it, I honestly would have to say cruising is not for you. We booked a future cruise deposit on board and since our return, we have already used this and booked a cruise next year to New Guinea. Well done P&O, thank you. Your crew were very good! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We have just returned from our first cruise (2 adults, 2 children 11 & 16 yo) staying in a four birth cabin. CABIN: ----- PROS... The bunk style layout was better than I imagined and there was more room. It was definately a ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise (2 adults, 2 children 11 & 16 yo) staying in a four birth cabin. CABIN: ----- PROS... The bunk style layout was better than I imagined and there was more room. It was definately a cheaper option than having 2 adjoining rooms. I also felt that I could keep a bit more track of the kids comming and going. Space and storage was ample. We really didn't spend too much time in cabin all at once. The carpet looked new in our cabin (brownish zebra kind of stripes) or a least newer than some of the other cabins on our floor (quick glance in when cleaning was in progress). The cabin was serviced regularly and ample towels supplied. Ample small bar soaps and wall dispensed shampoo supplied in shower. CONS... The kids chose their beds first, leaving DH to navigate one of the top bunks each night. Noone told us that the ladders were under the bottom beds, we found that out on the second day! Conditioner would have been nice. No tissues were supplied even though there was a wall dispenser. The TV could only be viewed from 3 beds, the other one was completely blocked (guess who lucked out). TV programs were limited and looped. The TV had crackly sound and was of poor quality. SERVICE: ------- PROS... Reception staff, steward were always very helpful and pleasent. Doctor and the two nurses were fantastic. Waitstaff impecable and frendly. Security kept keen eye on the older teens (16/17 year olds) after HQ+ closed. Kids security were very good as well. The ladies running the kids clubs (HQ and HQ+) were enthuastic and friendly. CONS... The head nurse was rude and unhelpful (multiple occassions). DH described her as a propper b Such a shock when everyone else is overtly nice. FOOD: ---- PROS... We ate several times at the Waterfront Restaurant. Food was great. The buffet had a a lot of dishes, some changed daily. The Grill was a nice change, the kids liked the fries and soon worked out when they were free. The Salt Grill, what can I say. It was a wonderful experience to share with the kids and the food was impecable. Perfect and well worth the $40 per person. CONS... There could be a bit of a line up for the buffet and it became a bit repetative by the end of the cruise, so we found ourselves booking the Waterfront more often for breakfast, lunch and dinner. TEENS KIDS CLUB: --------------- PROS... It was great that they slip the older kids out, otherwise I do not think the older teens would go. My 16 was really reluctant to go at first and after he went he made some great friends. The big group hung out outside HQ+ around the pool and dined together - it was really nice. At night the security let them hang out in areas where they could listen to the nightclub music but still be safe. I think that this little bit of freedom prevented them wanting to get inside. At one stage DH tracked the group down with the help of security who made a simple call to the CCTV manned station. Lots to do in these two rooms. Facilities were appropriate for these age groups. CONS... Sometimes they relocated these 2 rooms in the library or the Dome when the top deck was closed due to unsavoury weather. I was a bit concerned a couple of times when I felt it was too windy for kids to be comming and going from there. At this age, parents can delegate that the kids are responsible enough to come and go without parental concent. I think different method of access is required. MEDICAL: ------- PROS... There is medical assistance if you require it (or a willing to pay a premium). CONS... The cost. Take everything you think that you will need with you, otherwise it could be very expensive. It was obvious that there were a substantial amount of passengers who had coughs, colds, sniffles who did not present to the medical facility. I recommend if you are traveling at this time of year have the flu needle and take chemist supplies (just in case). If you go to the doctor, be prepared that you may be confined to your cabin if it is determined that you are contagious (and the TV is crap)! ENTERTAINMENT: ---======---- PROS... There was a lot of choice and taste to suit all. The kids loved the magic show and the acrobatics. Everything we saw was good. CONS... The acrobatic show was in the Atrium. There was hardly any seating and a lot of people complaining. They should have brought in some extra chairs and had a roped of area where the kids could sit on the floor (saving the chairs for adults). OVERALL: Our family had a great time. We were glad that we took our own softdrinks and snorkel gear, as both saved a lot of money. We didn't drink too much and therefore there was no bill shock. It was worth the money and could be a cheap family holiday option if you can resist the temptation to buy, gamble or drink. We would cruise again, but maybe to a different destination/ship for variety. Thanks to all members who answer everyones questions. Everyone is really helpful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Embarkation- We had received text messages and phone calls (great communication) from P & O the day before we sailed to tell us our sail time had been delayed from 4pm to 7pm because the cruise before us was delayed coming into Sydney ... Read More
Embarkation- We had received text messages and phone calls (great communication) from P & O the day before we sailed to tell us our sail time had been delayed from 4pm to 7pm because the cruise before us was delayed coming into Sydney due to rough seas. 16 of the 28 of us had hired a mini bus to take us into wharf 5 and we decided to only delay this by an hour and spend some time down at Darling Harbour/Cockle Bay wharf. We arrived at the wharf and were able to drop our baggage off straight away, we were also told they had complimentary shuttle buses running between the wharf and Cockle Bay, where they had set up a function room with chairs and tea and coffee facilities. They also gave us our departing card and questionnaire to complete to speed things up when it came time to board. They had staff everywhere, who were very very helpful. We decided to have lunch and a few drinks and enjoy the start of our holiday, it was a beautiful day in Sydney so we were lucky. Most of us had our cabins on decks 11 and 10, so we were able to board early. Our boarding time was given to us as 4, but we decided to go back at around 2:30 and we were glad we did as when we got back, we were able to be checked in straightaway and I was in my cabin by about 3:15pm. A very smooth process. Accommodation- I was in a twin share cabin on Deck 11- 11203 to be exact and we had a window. Our cabin steward was Lina and she was lovely. We got a couple of towel animals and chocolates on our pillow the other nights. Our room was very spacious with 2 single beds, a small bedside table and set of drawers each, a desk, couple of chairs and a TV. The wardrobe space too was very generous with plenty of drawers, hanging space and coat hangers. There is also a safe in the wardrobe. The bathrooms were not very spacious, although the showers are quite large. They supply bars of soap and conditioning shampoo (we took our own, so not sure of how good that is). We were happy with the location of our room, up 1 deck to the Plantation Buffett (we couldn't hear any noise from that above us) and the pool deck and then down to deck 7 for the Waterfront restaurant and bars. We also had a deck off the back not far from our room and it was down just 1 level to the Oasis. Food & Beverage- On the first night, we were still getting ourselves sorted and having to do the safety muster and get up on deck for the sail away party, so we just went to the buffet for dinner, well that was the first and only time we did that. The food was pretty good, but it was very hard to get a table and once we discovered the Waterfront we did not look back! The food and service in this restaurant was fabulous! We alternated between the waterfront and buffet for breakfast and lunch, with the food being lovely in both with plenty of selection. We also ate 1 night at the Salt Grill. This was amazing and so worth the $40 cover charge. The staff in here were so fabulous and the food was beautiful- possibly the best meal I've ever had. We had 20 of us dining, so they gave us an early sitting of 5:30. You are able to choose an entree, main and dessert each and because we were a large group, they bought out all the sides for us, but I'm not sure if they would do that for just 2 or 4 or a small group they also bring out 2 types of lovely bread to begin the meal. Can highly recommend the scallops with blue cheese polenta, the 300g steak (rump I think it was), the passionfruit cheesecake and all of the sides! I'm not a wine drinker, so the extensive cocktail list on the cruise is perfect for me! Most of the cocktails are priced at $8.50, $9.50 and $11.50 and on the pool deck they come in massive plastic cups. In the connexions and Kasbah bars they are in smaller glasses and although I didn't drink there, in the mix bar on level 7 of the atrium cocktail are priced from $14-$17 but that may be due to the use of premium spirits. The waiters who come and take your drink orders are all so lovely. Entertainment- Our cruise director was Sandy, and he appeared to have 3 assistants- Peewee (American), Nick (British) and Vicky (Canadian). They did a fantastic job running all the activities. We participated in a few trivia sessions and as the weather was so nice, we tended to congregate on the Port (left) side of deck 12 on the tables and chairs because in the afternoon we would have the lovely warm sun on our backs but be protected from the wind. From here we could watch the goings on around the pool like the macho man competition and survivor. They showed movies on the big screen up on deck at least once a day and they also showed some concerts in the afternoons. We had a few winners within our group too in the golf putting and chipping competitions. Most nights we ate dinner at around 8:15 in the restaurant and then made our way down to Connexions bar to watch the band Southern Comfort play or watch Karaoke. They also had Ged the Piano Man in the Kasbah and The two Scots (who were new to the ship I heard) playing in different venues, they were great! We had 3 theme nights on board- pirates, island night and country & western they also had a dancing through the decades party up on deck one night, which was a lot of fun. We had 2 cocktail nights which we dressed up for, a lot of people did and a lot of people didn't, it's really up to you. Because of the time we had dinner most nights, we didn't really see any of the shows, we caught the first half of the circus one, which was really good and very professionally done. My brother in law was also a contestant in Pacific Popstars on the last night, which was a lot of fun. Public Areas of ship- The one downfall of this ship is that there isn't a lot of public areas to go inside. One of the days it was freezing cold on deck and we stuck it out as long as we could but then when we came inside the 2 bars and atrium were full, the attic had a private function, so we ended up in the grill, which was fine but maybe not as comfortable. Another bar would be great. For the most part the ship is in pretty good condition, there are some instances of rust, especially around some windows, but they aren't overly noticeable. Ports- The ports we visited were Noumea, Isle of Pines and Mare. We decided to just book the 1 tour on Noumea, which was the cheese and wine tour and just look around ourselves in the morning. It was a pretty hot day the day we visited Noumea, which we would have preferred for the next day in Isle of Pines because that was overcast and quite cool. We found the city markets in Noumea (about 10mins walk from the dock) which was next to a lovely harbour. The cheese and wine tour was actually really good, we had a fabulous guide, Michele. We went first to a restaurant where we each tried 3 different French wines- a white, red and dessert which were matched up with 3 different French cheeses, an Emmental, brie and blue. You could have as much bread and butter with it that you liked as well. After that, it included a bus tour of the city, with commentary and we got out in 2 places, the lookout with the canon and the hill with the statue of Mary. As I said earlier, the weather for the Isle of Pines was not great, but I still braved the quite cold water around the sacred rock and went for a snorkel, which was pretty good. We were lucky that we had a lovely day for our visit to Mare- what a beautiful place! The water is an amazing crystal clear blue/green. I do recommend getting the $15 return shuttle bus provided by P & O to the beach because unless you just plan on hanging around where the tenders dock (which you can, there are places to swim there) it is a very long walk! Shopping- All the shopping on the ship is surrounding the Atrium on levels 7, 6 and 5. I didn't buy a lot just some P & O souvenir type things, but others in the group bought watches and perfume. Wait until the last couple of days though because they will be reduced. We found jewellery on the ship to be either beautiful, amazing quality and very expensive or not very good quality (sterling silver especially, it felt like plastic) and still quite expensive. They have a Rip Curl shop onboard and even a lot of items in that were reduced in the last couple of days. Disembarkation- Early on in the cruise you are given a form to fill in with what time you require to be off the ship then with a couple of nights to go you receive colour coded luggage tags as well as information as to what time and where you have to assemble on the final morning for disembarkation. As we were getting picked up at 9:30am, we put our off the ship time as 9am and were given 8:30, 8:40 and 8:50 times to assemble in the public areas. We had to have our bags out the night before before 8pm (which seemed quite early) and as we had a 5:45pm dinner reservation, we had to do it especially early. We then had to be out of our rooms by 8am the following morning. It was mostly a smooth process, although they were running around 20 mins late and our drop off location had changed during the cruise from Wharf 5 to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, which was a little more difficult for our bus. Overall-We had a fabulous time and would book again on the 'White Lady' as the captain called her and book again through P & O. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
just got off the pacific jewel yesterday did the j232 bounty adventure would like to have my little say Had an awesome cruise just loved Norfolk island an dravuni Fiji must say its only my opinion but a little disappointed in the events an ... Read More
just got off the pacific jewel yesterday did the j232 bounty adventure would like to have my little say Had an awesome cruise just loved Norfolk island an dravuni Fiji must say its only my opinion but a little disappointed in the events an entertainment as when we were on the pacific pearl an pacific sun both had much more an more age appropriate entertainment up for offer, as i said its my opinion i just found the music and activities more for over 65s the attic was too small for dancing there was no dome, the oasis is free hence never a sun lounge unoccupied, the gate way through there is to the upper an lower decks which children constantly RAN in an out of, we will book again but not on the pacific jewel, i found the entertainment crew very boring an mundane the senior cruise director Gemma was totally not into engaging with passengers yet ive experienced cruises with second in charge cruise events member Alan on other cruise and he and zultana g were amazing and worked well together engaging at all times with ALL passengers he and Gemma do not appear to communicate or work well together this displays to passengers, there was suppose to be a GBLT meet it was at 10 am in the attic no music no crew member anyone who came in walked out (disrespect on P & O side), after a written complaint the GBLT was rescheduled to meet in the casbar at 6pm (dinner time)ON A FORMAL NIGHT ???? although we entertained ourselves an had an awesome time and wonderful cruise overall enjoyed meeting the wonderful people of all the beautiful islands that we visited especially Tonga, Norfolk islands & Dravuni Fiji :):) some examples was knitting club, seniors meet, there was no trivia in the evening, the music on deck 14 was always screeching you could not sit an chat, there was no room that did not have pre recorded music so no where to sit an play a game of cards read a book (except for a dark library) or just chat with friends, the kids turtle shack was on deck 14 at the other end of the boat from the only lift to deck 14 was on the opposite end most afternoon activities in the kids club involved parents participation, in the evening there was not a selection of activities it was the show then the karoke not a choice of activities i think P & O should reconsider Gemma's role someone with engaging an warming personality then again in waterfront grizald, rupert and amit where amazing crew members made us all feel like family interacted wonderfully these people should be long standing crew members for years to come, salt grill really dont cater well enough for non seafood eaters la luna was amazing we went on a thai night yummmmmm would dine there again like ive said we will cruise again but not on the pacific jewel Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Just came back from 7night cruise to South Pacific Islands... Pacific Dawn is a fun ship to be on as it has entertainment all hours although some shows don't start till 11pm which was too late for us in the first few nights. The good ... Read More
Just came back from 7night cruise to South Pacific Islands... Pacific Dawn is a fun ship to be on as it has entertainment all hours although some shows don't start till 11pm which was too late for us in the first few nights. The good points was the bars and entertainment areas have been freshened up and look great. nick and Zoltina J the Entertainment director are an excellent team and brought laughter and good times with them wherever they were on the ship. I would go back on just for their entertainment. The rooms are a bit dated and they could use new mattreses and their are no tissues in the rooms. (even three star hotels have tissues) we had to blow our noses on toilet paper which doesn't look good in main dining room. drinks are about $8.40 for basic spirits, $9.90 to $11.90 for cocktails and basic beers in stubbies $5.50. The buffet would be one of the worst on a cruise shipmate have encountered and the staff don't speak very much English so can't get you something like lemon for the fish. (why don't ships put a little bowl of lemon out with fish dishes) I'm not a foodie but it was bad. If you want cold cut meat you could get it morn noon and night....and it looked to be same stuff just more dried out. Two thirds of deserts were same every day and had no taste so you didnt bother unless you really like jelly in a bowl. No ice-cream on board unless you went to dining room or paid five dollars a scoop at ice cream parlour. The tours purchased onboard were rip offs we got off at new caledonia. And got on the little trains for thirty dollars a person where the ship charged $79 a person. Over 50% profit to p&o what a rip off. We had restricted view room so we could buy more drinks with money saved. I wouldn't do this again as I had an audience when I got out of the shower to get dressed with staff in the tenders doing checks and getting woken up at 5.30am with staff in workbooks walking past ur window. If p&o just got little less stingy and fixed buffet and few small things it would have been a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
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