At 70,000 tons and carrying 1,590 passengers (max capacity 2,050), Pacific Dawn becomes the largest ship in the P&O Australia fleet (though it was among Princess' smallest). The ship will be sailing South Pacific itineraries roundtrip from Sydney, calling at exotic ports such as Isle of Pines, Wala Island and Noumea.
In the last several years, Regal Princess had become somewhat of a remnant of a previous cruise era. With only 30 percent of all outside cabins featuring verandahs (compared to almost 80 percent on the new Emerald Princess), a nearly invisible spa (buried in the vessel's bowels) and no alternative restaurant, the ship was rapidly being supplanted by its newer, far more modern fleetmates.
Prior to re-launching with P&O Australia, Pacific Dawn underwent a much-needed multi-million dollar refurbishment in Singapore. The upgrades to this 1991-built vessel include:
Improvements to the sun deck; large sun shades have been erected on the Lido Deck creating shaded alfresco dining areas, and a new sports bar and ice cream parlor has been constructed.
Because Australia has a strong family cruise market, a number of four-berth cabins have been fitted, and kids and teen facilities -- the Teen Lounge, Shark Shack and Turtle Cove areas -- were upgraded.
Flat-screen TV's have been added to all staterooms, as have new linens.
The most dramatic change has been to the grand dome at the front and top of the ship. It is now serves as a more traditional "crow's nest" bar, a casual venue during the day that transforms into a nightclub in the evening.
Pacific Dawn will sail 52 cruises between November 2007 and June 2009 ranging in length from 7 to 28 nights.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor