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9 P&O Australia Cairns Cruise Reviews

We choose this cruise as it was not your average destination & we wanted to experience a different culture & people. The ship sailed from Cairns Aust. We live in Central Victoria. So right from the get go we were up for extra ... Read More
We choose this cruise as it was not your average destination & we wanted to experience a different culture & people. The ship sailed from Cairns Aust. We live in Central Victoria. So right from the get go we were up for extra costs of air fares & hotels. If we flew up on the day of the cruise & there was a problem with flights then we could have been in deep doggy do doos. The prudent thing was to go to Cairns the day before= flights + hotel +3 hours in a plane. Not actually complaining about that. But the cruise. The Eden is a rebirthed ship. We had an inside, deck9 cabin. Not badly appointed. However & this was a 1st for us......no refrigerator. We had to order one through reception & could only have one if one was available. Went to have a shower. I live on property with only tank water. My pump put out a lot more pressure than what we had on board. 2nd night in during the wee hours there was a lot of loud noises that was coming from some machinery near our cabin. it was that loud & sounded like something was breaking down that after a while I was almost ready to report it to reception, then it quietened down. I made mention to our steward the next morning. He was unaware of anything but later in the day he told me that it was an ice machine(must have been a big one). if P&O are aware of these things you would think that they would inform you of this & maybe discount the cabins that are effected by the noise. A POINT of INTEREST for all serving & ex service members. We only found out about this after we had a serviceman's meet & greet on the 2nd day. You are entitled to some sort of cruise discount or on board credits. The cruise companies don't tell you but apparently they're there .Good on you P&O & Princess. I'm 4 cruises up now & it's the 1st I heard of it Food: No real complaints, I ate well, good variety, The main restaurant, 6.5/10. prefer to have set dinning. In port the restaurant was not open for lunch. Had to deal with the buffet or as they call it, the Pantry. Can get very crowded on port days & hard to find a table to sit & eat. Good idea, prefer this over the buffet style eating. No contamination by passengers with less than adequate personal hygiene, if you know what I mean. Main gripe with the food: the wife like a lot of people is gluten free. While meals in the main restaurant was not an issue, as she was able to pre order the next days meals. But up in the pantry, especially port days, when we came back from ashore at lunch time to have a bite to eat......there was next to nothing to eat ashore.....the selection of gluten free was very limited to say the least. I did talk to another passenger who was also GF & she was having a terrible time trying to get something to eat. I explained to her about pre ordering at the restaurant. Don't know how she went, but someone other that me should have explained to her. Maybe P&O could have assisted her before embarkation. Other disappointment: The theatre: Seats looked OK, until you sat down. on the hard side & after an hour or so show they were very uncomfortable. Also seating was a bit low: obstructed view from people in front of you & if they were moving around due to the uncomfortable factor it only compounded the situation. The cruise director: after each show it was the same old tiresome lines night after night. The shows were good & enjoyed them. The ship's staff rated highly, particularly our cabin steward. nothing was a hassle for him. I should mention ....Duty free......alcohol & cigs. Very limited in what they had in the way of alcohol & even though I no longer smoke it doesn't hurt to bring some home for those that do. But no Smokes at all. It was as though this cruise only had left overs from previous cruises. Last word on the ship: embarkation & disembarking in Cairns was via a steep gangway. My wife had cellulitis & hard for her to walk far let alone up or down a steep gangway. & a young lady behind us who has had numerous hip & knee replacements due to childbirth problems struggled badly. God knows how the elderly faired. PNG: 4 Stops. Alotau, Kirawina, Katava & Conflict Islands Alotau was the highlight of our trip. We organised our own private tour. We visited a bush school & bush village. We were welcomed & made to feel very special, as they don't normally have visitors. They welcomed us into the village with a ceremonial welcoming & the students sang us a song that they had practised for weeks. We brought them a heap of gifts for the school as they have absolutely nothing. We then travelled to another 2 villages, where we were given displays on traditional activities. We also took gifts to these villages. The only other activities in Alotau was a cultural & canoe festival. We didn't experience this as we had our own tour while it was on. I didn't hear many favourable reports on this from other passengers. Kirawina & katava . Not much there. swimming, snorkelling & markets. The markets consisted of villagers selling their wares. Conflict Islands, was more of an activity stop, not much interaction with natives One thing that struck me about PNG & this is only my own personal opinion. Tourism has ruined it. Everyone is after your money. people from kids up that want to take you somewhere & show you things to canoe rides, photos or any activity. They see the cruise ships come in & its one big cash cow. I'm all for helping people out & that's why we took gifts to the places we went to or buying the odd carving which might help out. In conclusion, would I use P&O again.....yes.... Would I sail on the Eden or its sister ship the Aria....No Would I go back to PNG.... Yes but depending on where in PNG. I would research the ports of call first. If it was anything like Kirawina or Kativa then the answer is No Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
booked this cruise from our home port of Cairns with a drinks package at a good price. We were concerned by the reviews and we had also just finished a cruise from Hawaii to Sydney on Celebrity Solstice. So we went with our eyes wide open. ... Read More
booked this cruise from our home port of Cairns with a drinks package at a good price. We were concerned by the reviews and we had also just finished a cruise from Hawaii to Sydney on Celebrity Solstice. So we went with our eyes wide open. it was going to be a 3 star ship which is typical of P and O australia and we were not expecting the bells and whistles of Solstice. We went with 3 other couples and had a great time. embarking and disembark worked well. the ship was fine, obviously an older ship but in reasonable condition. particularly liked the lounges and bar arrangements. entertainment was consistent.The dancing and music in the theatre was high energy but missed the mark in my opinion. One of the shows was just too dark and a lot of the music i have never heard before. choreography was great but music choice poor and did not relate to the audience.it felt like they had done the choreography .and then picked the music to match it. if they had chosen music the audience could relate to the shows would have been better received The pantry worked well. plenty of choice and no issues with the food being not warm enough. they have to do something about the crazy decision to put coffee tables into this area. what were they thinking?? its an easy fix and will complement the area by giving every diner a table to sit and eat at. The main dining room is big and very well done....but its half empty every night. It looks like they dont have the staff so you are lining up for a table and there are empty tables every where. speaking of staff, it was very hard to get any inter action from them in any of the dining areas. The food was fine if a little on the small size with some serves. Actually some serves were miniscule. The same can be said for the asian and italian restaurants. good food, small portions and unsmiling stiff staff serving you. the swimming pool at the aft is a great idea, no kids and a small bar. but it was almost comical to see almost everyone gathered around trying to find what little shade is on offer. the drinks package was a first for us. we like a drink but at $79 a day you have to be drinking non stop to get value. with 4 port calls in 7 days you spend a lot of time off the ship so i found myself drinking just because i was on a package and not necessarily because i really wanted "another cocktail". we did not get close to drinking $79 worth on any day, which surprised me and were happy it was an add on to our booking. the last day i only had 2 drinks as i had had enough of alcohol. P and o certainly have it right with their drinks staff. plenty of them walking around and getting you drinks and we met some lovely staff in the bars. Alatau was nothing special, walked down town. the memorial had interesting info re the war in milne bay. Kitiva and Kiriwini were very interesting. walked with a local guide and had an interesting time with the natives. Conflict was very pretty, the owner has done a great job with the facilities in such an isolated spot Apparently previous ships have had trouble tendering to this island. the jetty needs some modification as there is a big gap between the tender boat and getting onto the jetty. its an accident waiting to happen with older cruisers for sure, but even the young would have to be careful. our cabin was fine, ocean view on deck 6 and was in good condition for its age. little things like wardrobe doors not closing properly, otherwise it was a good size, bed was great and both stewards did a great job. Overall we had a good time on a 3 star ship that had the bonus for us of being a $20 taxi ride from our house. would i go on Eden again. probably yes , from Cairns. but if i had to hop on a plane to go to Brisbane or Sydney i would most likely cruise on Princess, RCI or Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was a pretty much overrated trip. While the staff were great, the charges were pretty steep and it was (initially) difficult to get around. Food was o.k. - although Luke Mangan's Restaurant should be thrown out as it is ... Read More
This was a pretty much overrated trip. While the staff were great, the charges were pretty steep and it was (initially) difficult to get around. Food was o.k. - although Luke Mangan's Restaurant should be thrown out as it is simply overpriced and overrated! The Waterfront Restaurant was excellent, as was Dragon Lady and Angelos - but getting into them proved to be the problem. Bar service was excellent, although for a duty free environment, costs were excessive. The prospect of listening (again) to a Scottish Bar Attendant in the Blue Room Bar as he whinged and whined about the poor salaries paid by P&O made sure that I didn't go there very often. Entertainment was o.k. - but Loud! The Magician show was very amateurish. By the end of the trip I would have gladly gone shark fishing with most of the 5 -12 year old kids on board - using them all as bait! Those kids - and, on the main, - their parents spoiled the trip for several of us older citizens. Drunken yobbish Bogans do not entertain me at all. I will not be travelling on P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
The terminal in Cairns did a great job on embarkation and disembarkation the staff were professional and friendly. The gang plank was quite steep and difficult for some older passengers. On this cruise we visited Papua New Guinea and ... Read More
The terminal in Cairns did a great job on embarkation and disembarkation the staff were professional and friendly. The gang plank was quite steep and difficult for some older passengers. On this cruise we visited Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and had a lovely time at the various ports Alotau, Rabaul, Honiara and especially Kivata island and Gizo island; which were very primative but full of lovely friendly people. I would recommend visiting and I would love to go back one day BUT NOT ON Pacific Eden! This ship is really starting to show its age even though P&O have tried to market it as a NEW member of the Australian fleet. The air conditioning is virtually non existant in The Pantry which is P&O's sad replacement for The Buffet. When entering The Pantry you should expect to be hit with a fresh heat relieving breeze and a tantalising hit of aromas from the various stations but unfortunately that is not the case, the first thing to hit your senses is there is no refreshing air then the smell - an aroma very close to over cooked Brussel sprouts. The salad bar is basically a lettuce bar nothing interesting, with processed meats. There is a Roast section and the roast changes from day to day but the sides are virtually the same every day. The fish and chip section never had a French fry available only wedges even though there were pictures of fries all around. The Indian Curry section used an awful lot of potatoes in the dishes, Mexican was ok, Chinese the noodles changed but the flavour was similar and the Sandwich Bar had a choice of 3 pre made Rolls- One day they had Duck Cocktail which was duck in a thousand island dressing with lettuce, normally there would be a roast meat that had been in the roast section the day before. The Pantry has a closed in feeling because of the screens and high seating used, and then you have the silly coffee tables that you are supposed to eat off. Who ever designed the seating was either stupid or totally mad- so many high tables with high stools great when you are young but really awful for the older cruisers. The main dining room food was better but don't expect a table cloth cause they don't use them. You will see tables being washed/wiped down going from table to table without rinsing the cloth then cutlery and crockery laid down on the bare surface of the table even glasses placed upside down. It worried me because apart from the machine at the restaurant door there was not anyone enforcing the cleansing of hands before entering the restaurant that you normally have on other cruise lines. The shows and entertainment crew were good but in the theatre the lamps are being held together with sticky tape. The air conditioning did not work properly in our cabin and we had to ask for top sheets as it was to hot to sleep with the doona on the bed. Other passengers complained that their air could not be turned down. Other passengers also told of water leakages in their cabin and carpets being wet. The bathroom consisted of a bathtub with overhead shower, the taps are showing their age and the shower curtain really needed to be replaced as it had mood and mildew on it. There is a small vanity and sink a couple of small shelves and a toilet. The cabin size was ok, carpet looked a bit tired, the beds were comfortable and the pillows were different 1 was standard size the other extra large. The power outlets are for Australian plugs but my hair straightener would not work and the hairdryer supplied was pretty useless. The main pool was very green compared to the adult pool. But there was hardly any shade at the adult pool which forced us to use the main pool. If they close the roof on the main pool it becomes a sauna as there isn't any ventilation. A few opening windows would help! I had a drink package that included alcohol,water and coffee which was quite good except on a port day I asked for a bottle of water to take ashore then I ordered a coffee to have while waiting for the tender and I was told I had to wait 3 minutes between my drinks! Sensible service of water and coffee! Most of the staff were very nice. My friend and I both felt that the ship either needs more work or to be retired after all why would Holland America sell her if she was still up to it? Sorry Captain I love your accent but not your ship and she certainly isn't beautiful. I will not cruise on a P&O ship again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Boarding: Instructed to show up at 11am, we expected a gentle progress suggested by the red “Priority” notice on our E-ticket. It seemed everybody had an 11am date and 1500 people were trying to progress through registration, ... Read More
Boarding: Instructed to show up at 11am, we expected a gentle progress suggested by the red “Priority” notice on our E-ticket. It seemed everybody had an 11am date and 1500 people were trying to progress through registration, border control and security. Someone took pity on us and we were probably the 300th couple to board. The Room: Sold as a “suite”, our room was twice the size of standard balcony rooms and while having an en-suite bathroom, had no separation of bedroom and living space. Nevertheless it was pleasant, had loads of storage space and a little wardrobe – dressing room. It also had a Nespresso machine and a fridge. The balcony was large and populated by 2 sunbeds in disgusting condition and a relatively decent table and 4 chairs. We were greeted by our splendid room stewards Aime and Joshua who produced a bowl of fruit and bottles of water. The Pantry: The Pantry offers a variety of dishes from little “stalls” and we were able easily to find a table at which to enjoy them. We discovered subsequently that when in a port, the main “Waterfront” restaurant closes so The Pantry becomes the only lunchtime venue. On these occasions the whole place is hugely overcrowded and lunch becomes a bunfight. The Waterfront: A large and nice room aft, it is the main restaurant on board. At mealtimes there is a queue stretching past the lifts to get in. From our observations this is not because they are short of tables, but is a scheme intended to ease the workload of the wait-staff and galley. We found that by going straight to the Maitre d’ and saying we only wanted a table for 2, we were admitted immediately. The menus were interesting but the dishes themselves were only a chef’s impression of what the dish should be. Probably about 7 out of 10. Angelino’s and The Dragon Lady Respectively these are the Italian and the oriental themed eateries. No queues at the restaurants, but long queues to make the required bookings at the “Monkey Bar”. More intimate than the Waterfront we had some really good meals there. Probably 8 out of 10 Salt: This is the Luke Mangan inspired venue and is charged to one’s account. We went for a dinner and a lunch – the menu is the same but lunch is cheaper. We enjoyed our meals there and would give it 9 out of 10. Public spaces and bars: I thought the décor was generally of the Leagues Club meets RSL style. The Blue Room was the closest to “cool”, but it was occasionally spoiled by an entertainer with more volume than talent. The bar staff are competent and charming but are hindered by P&O’s strict cocktail recipes that deliver very watery drinks. Having tried the cocktails we stuck mainly to wine. There is a “Mix Bar” where one can get real cocktails, but at an exorbitant price. Drinkers beware! We took the $69 “Drinks Package” because we didn’t know better. This came to $138 per day or $1,380 for the trip. Outside of the Mix Bar “cocktails” are between $11 and $12 each, beers are between $5 and $6 each and most glasses of wine are between $9 and $11. The package only allows drinks up to $12 but does not allow one to buy bottles of wine. We could have saved money by putting bottles of wine – between $27 and $40each on our shipboard account; spending - say $90 per day – and stashing them in our fridge when not in use. Anyway, you do the arithmetic for your typical usage. Fellow Passengers: Because school was out there were quite a few children. Those we saw were well behaved but most were squirrelled away on the top deck and cared for by professionals. The Oasis Deck on 10 aft was barred to kids – very good idea. There were a lot of folk of pensionable age and a significant number of obese (some morbidly) people. P&O aim for the bottom of the market with very cheap accommodation and it shows. The somewhat slack dress code meant many blokes wore jeans , or worse – shorts after 6pm. On the other hand, most women made an effort. Don’t look for “cool” if you go P&O. Problems: The drain in our bath/shower was probably blocked by 22 years of hair and soap, so one was ankle deep in dirty water by the end of a shower. This was reported twice but totally ignored by the maintenance crew. The crew name badges were in a font so tiny that normal people could not read them. What is the point of P&O asking for crew plaudits if we had no idea who they were? Decent glasses of wine in the restaurants were priced beyond the $12 limit of the Drinks Package Conclusions: We took the cruise because it departed and returned to the wharf opposite our flat. I am not sure that would be sufficient reason to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Reading the reviews before we left, was confusing, some had a great time (these included frequent travellers) others bagged it, or tried to compare it to other cruise companies. I'll start by saying we had a great time. I will also ... Read More
Reading the reviews before we left, was confusing, some had a great time (these included frequent travellers) others bagged it, or tried to compare it to other cruise companies. I'll start by saying we had a great time. I will also not compare this cruise to others, until the end. So where to start, ahhh the beginning: P & Os website provides enough information to get onto the ship, generate your booking, and a few tours. On this trip around some PNG Islands, there are not that many tours - I did have to ring P&O once, and send a few emails to get things sorted out. Embarkation / Disembarkation: Cairns does not normally turn around 1450 passengers in a few hours, so we expected delays. They weren't to bad by any standards, and we were quickly onboard (about 15mins all up) - longest queue was for the security x-ray machine (run by our local airport who are notoriously bad at that!). Quickly checked our cabin, they were all ready prior to boarding, and then booked all our restaurants for the week trip - a good point learnt from other reviews on this site. Bookings are at the Monkey Bar, between Angelo's and Dragon Lady - and yes, do book early! Food, oh yes, the all important food question. The Pantry - No I am not a fan. The health aspect is obvious, the patrons cannot access any food, so stops someone from sneezing, coughing or pre-sampling your food (we have seen it). The area is not overly large, and the food options can be limited. Space is a premium, and it can get quite crowded around the peak meal periods (but no surprise there). The hours are limited, so don't expect 20hr grazing rights, and closes at about 9:30pm. It is good for a top up between meals (when open). Breakfast was standard - cooked, cereal or fruit. Lunch was a mixture of salads and cooked meals (including curry, asian, rolls and fish and chips), and dinner was something similar to lunch, but a bit more filling. The Waterfront - A single story contemporary style, with anytime dining option only. Did breakfast, lunch and dinner on seas days. Best place to go to for lunch (and by reports for breakfast as well). Dinner did get very crowded, and often people had to wait 10-20 mins for a seat. Also you miss out on have the same wait staff and table companions (if that's important for you). The food was pretty good, small sizes but filling, and the service was pretty good, but could be a little slow at peak times, and drinks waters could be hard to find. Quality wise, this would be somewhere between a good pub restaurant and a 3.5 star restaurant - not fantastic, but highly satisfactory. Angelo's - need to book, and can book more than once. Its included in the cost of the ticket. Quite nice, a good feel, but a little bright. Service in here was quite good, and the menu changes every few days. Again not large sizes, but filling. Service is a bit more personal here, and its a lovely place to dine. Dragon Lady - Asian Fusion restaurant (everyone knows the style, but is still trying to figure out what it means). Like Angelo's, the service is a notch from the the Waterfront, and the options are reasonable. The servings are quite small, but satisfactory come the end of the meal. We did prefer Angelo's out of the three. These areas can be busy during peak times (1800-1930) so plan ahead. Salt Grill - this was talked up by pretty much everyone that went, and so we had high expectations, which probably fell a little short (especially for $49.95 per person). That said the service was very good, the quality of the meals was up there, and the experience was of a good 4 star restaurant. Selections for mains was steak or fish, but a good range of options, and sides a-plenty. Was a nice evening. Chefs Table (yes we did every dining option on this trip) - Fan-bloody-tastic. Cost $99 each, but was worth the experience. Firstly the staff (Onile and Antonio) did a great job, and we got to met all the Chefs. Anyway, starts with a glass of Champers and an hors d'oeuvre, followed by a tour of the galley (the galley is tiny!! This is a place of miracles considering what is produced). Then came another 8 courses, with paired wines. The group is limited to a maximum of 14, and we all became good friends over the evening. The meals were small, with the accent on presentation and quality. Each chef came up and explained his creation, which added a great touch. 4.5 hours later we all left with a great experience behind us. a freebie photo of the group, and a chefs surprise later in the trip (I wont spoil the surprise). Will do it again and again. The best dining experience at sea we have had. The bars, there were several bars around the ship, our favourite being the Blue Room, best music, closely followed by Mix (good piano player - Chester, and cocktail guy - Jamie). The Ocean Bar had plenty of room and the Dome had great views (and was good during they day to read a book - when activities were not on). As bars go, these were of a good standard, and reasonably priced (for a tourist trap). Could use an extra bar staff or two in each area during the busy periods. Casino was small and intimate, but we only lost $40 all trip, so quite bit of fun. Reception / tour desk. Only needed them once or twice, and though not being overly friendly on one occasion, they came through with the answers. You can check you account balance at an ATM style kiosk, and for those who want tight control over expenses you can transfer money into your onboard account from your banks (EFTPOS) or withdraw cash and manage you account at reception. The reception also advertised a money exchange for the PNG stops. Entertainment, overall the musicians were really good, and interacted well. There were crowd favourites, but we had some great musical sessions. Music was available somewhere from midday to midnight, with a short break around dinner. Stage shows - The stage area is on the small side, and has no live music component. That said they have some very imaginative and well prepared shows. The talent of both the performers and the technical staff makes these shows work. Visibility due to the layout of the Marque theatre can be problematic, but get in early and grab a good spot, it will be worth it. There were two late night comedy shows and one magician - comedian, All comments were heard after these shows (not quite our style, or past our bedtime) were very positive. SPA, over priced (fairly normal) but we did use the Thermal Room (package for two for 7 days $199, or one was $129). We took good advantage of these facilities, and so did a number of others, but was not too crowded. Jacuzzi, hot beds (heat tile beds - very relaxing at the end of the day), steam and aromatherapy rooms, sauna and a quiet area. Yep, will do those again. Adults pool, surprisingly there was enough space, but not much shade, very pleasant in the evening. The general pool area was normally busy, but still with room to sit around, and the Grill (chips, pizzas, burgers, etc.) and New Zealand Ice Cream stores were very good and good value. Duty Free shopping, again a bit ht and miss, a lot of stuff just too expensive, gut still sold memorabilia and some munchies at reasonable rates. A wasted area was the promenade deck, that area would be great with a supply of deck chairs, and was only really frequented my the smokers. Worst point - tender operations. Trying to fit 1450 passengers through one outlet (which is also the receiving area) is poor planning. Also the pontoon setup is very susceptible to any type of swell or wave action. This meant issues at one site, and no off loading at another (for information P&O, 20 - 30 kt winds, 1m-2m swells are NORMAL for this area for about 6-8 months of the year). Overall the quality of the ship and it surrounds were quite good, the service was friendly, but maybe not enough during the busy periods, while I believe The Pantry may have missed the mark. Would we do one again, yes, if the price was right. So here's the rub. We are still new at this cruising thing, but having been on two RCIs and one Celebrity boat, all >14 days, and all in a balcony; we have come to expect a certain level of service. Does P&O have the same finishing touches - No; does P&O have the same ration of staff to wait on you - No; does P&O offer free room service or free snacks 16 hours a day - No. So why would we do it again, for the price you get a good level of accommodation and food, you get friendly service and a smile, and we had a great time. We likened it to comparing a Hilton service to a Travelodge Service (sorry if the analogy doesn't mean much to some), but these 7 days cost us a fraction of the other trips in comparison, and we enjoyed every minute. We could've sat there comparing away (and we did), but it meant nothing, it was trying to compare oranges with banana's - don't bother, just enjoy. So Celebrity it's not, but great fun all the same, it all comes down to what you can afford, and P&O is great on a budget, while if we had the cash we would still like to go with RCI or Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We just got back from the PNG cruise out of Cairns. The only downside really was the lack of information given before the cruise which continued on through each day on board. As soon as you got on board there was a bombardment of ... Read More
We just got back from the PNG cruise out of Cairns. The only downside really was the lack of information given before the cruise which continued on through each day on board. As soon as you got on board there was a bombardment of signs, flyers and little desks around for the First 24 hours sale! The photo package, the drinks package, the Spa package, the Edge Package, the internet packages, the Thermal Suite membership etc... I would have preferred all of this was available before the cruise so that I could make an decision before I got on board, not bombarded & feeling overwhelmed before the ship even left dock! Luckily someone had told me to book the Dragon Lady, Angelo's & Salt Grill as soon as we boarded so we got a night in each, Dragon Lady was the best. The first days flyer had information on the restaurant options including opening times for port or sea days and evening meal choices. Seems sensible enough - but - none of this was repeated on any of the next 6 day's flyers so it was a guessing game to try to turn up on time! We turned up at the Waterfront on the sea day at 1.30pm to be told they closed at 1.30pm so go away. My only other bit of advise is to only eat breakfast once in the Pantry - after that go to the Waterfront. The staff were generally lovely, the stewards were fantastic, the entertainment staff were fun, the coffee lady's at the Ice Cream shop made great coffee (had to pay for it though) and the restaurant staff had a joke with us most nights, so that was nice. We got a good price for this cruise so I am happy enough with it but if I'd paid full price or anywhere near it I would have been very disappointed. Advise to P&O - include the coffee!! include the Social media internet package ($10 per day) and do a photo package which is pre purchased and includes a digital copy of every photo taken! The photographers worked hard to get people interested in having their photo taken but the to have to pay $25 per photo to be printed??? Who prints photos much anymore! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Embarkation was quick & trouble free as we had the help of staff at the terminal for my 86 yr old mum with her wheelie walker. It was unfortunate that we (and others with disabilities) were expected to walk right around the building ... Read More
Embarkation was quick & trouble free as we had the help of staff at the terminal for my 86 yr old mum with her wheelie walker. It was unfortunate that we (and others with disabilities) were expected to walk right around the building past the buses to the mini bus at the back of the carpark for transport to Fisherman's island wharf. Our room was a disability room #8106 which was spacious, well fitted out & clean when we arrived. We were only a few doors from the casino but this was about the only noise we didn't hear. There must have been children in the corridor above as we had a " herd of elephants" coming through the ceiling every time they ran to their cabin. We didn't need to go to the bars on deck 7 as we could hear every word sung by their entertainers at night. There was plenty of food in the buffet & the staff were very quick to offer mum help with her tray. There were many times when most things (including roast potatoes when lamb roast was served) were covered in chilli or other spices. This made it hard for those who cant eat spicy food. It is so easy to provide a sauce to be added to food but impossible to remove it. Having cruised on Sun Princess 18months earlier I find it impossible not to compare the two experiences. The entertainment was a standout difference. The quality & number of choices of both daytime & nightime entertainment on Pacific Dawn were disappointing. The in room TV could have had a movie on it during the day for those who were feeling a bit too seedy to sit on top deck. The same episode of Packed with the Rafters was on every day & 2 years old. There was too much reliance on karaoke & talent quest to provide what the entertainment crew are being paid for. Unfortunately the weather was bad so we had rough seas & strong winds for the 7 days with only a few hours of calm seas. This could not be avoided but P & O could have done a lot more to entertain the passengers who were unable to do what they had paid their money for. We arrived in Noumea 3 hours late which made sightseeing tours a waste of money. There wasn't much provided for those who were unable to use the pools due to the rough seas. As I didn't have children on the cruise I cant comment on the kids clubs but there were a lot of kids with their parents during the day which we didn't see on Princess. Missing out on our days in port was disappointing but safety must come first. We did go to Champagne Bay which was lovely but I waited for over an hour in the queue to return to the ship. The tender boats were operating but not full on each trip. Fortunately all those waiting did so with good humour & we were able to stand in the shade of the huge trees. It would have been difficult on a hot day. Thanks to the help of the staff we had a super easy disembarkation when we arrived in Brisbane even if we were an hour later than our requested time & second last to leave the ship. Mum is pleased that she has faced her fears & survived the cruise ( she has had a fear of boats all her life)but we are both disappointed with the cruise itself. I will cruise again but probably not with P & O. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Pacific Dawn: P&O Australia. Sail date 21st May 2011, 11 nights New Caledonia & Vanuatu. After reading past reviews of this ship and after viewing past drunken passengers videos on youtube, we were a little hesitant about stepping ... Read More
Pacific Dawn: P&O Australia. Sail date 21st May 2011, 11 nights New Caledonia & Vanuatu. After reading past reviews of this ship and after viewing past drunken passengers videos on youtube, we were a little hesitant about stepping onboard P&O Australia's publicized ship of "Brisbane's First Super Liner". This is no Super Liner, once it may have been but, those days for this ship have long gone. The ship is 21 years old and sadly now is showing her age badly. The previous day to our embarkation we received a text and email from P&O Australia confirming that the ship had hit bad weather on the return leg to Brisbane and this would delay the departure of our cruise time. In the end, due to tide restraints I suspect, the actual delay was only 1 hour. I checked the bridge cam at 6.30am on departure day and it was already secure and tide up at the cruise terminal. We arrive at the terminal at 11.30am to find utter chaos, people everywhere and, only one visible P&O shore staff outside. We knew the drill and it was easy to see where we were to depart with our cases, already tagged with cabin numbers, to the porters loading the conveyor belt. We then go inside the terminal to find a very long snake line with literally hundreds of people waiting in-line to be checked in. At least 20 staff were busy taking passenger's identity pictures and giving out cruise cards. We soon arrived at our check-in agent, considering the numbers checking in about 30 minutes. Given a number to board, we then waited to board, just after 1pm before our numbers were called. Another line to be scanned and security cleared prior to boarding. Finally we are on board at 1.15pm. No staff directing anyone that we could see, but being past cruisers we knew the drill, find the lifts, go to your deck and look for the ships deck plan and find your cabin number. At the cabin, key card into the slot, open the door to immediately see that the carpet was old, dirty, and threadbare around the edges and did not even fit to the walls of the cabin. Check the fridge and that too was dirty. Bathroom, immaculate, what a relief. The glass patio door to the balcony nor the fixed glass pane had not been cleaned for a very long time, it was filthy dirty. Never on a cruise ship have I ever seen such dirty windows both inside and out upon arrival. The balcony had lots of old paint flaked from the balcony chairs. The balcony floor was covered with flaked bits of rust and paint from the ships structure and from the chairs. It is clear that the balcony to this cabin is not cleaned on a regular basis. We leave our hand luggage and go to the buffet for lunch. A more detailed review of the buffet will be covered later. Lunch taken, we explore the ship and take pictures before the ship is packed to capacity. 30 minutes later we have discovered everywhere and even find the library, locked with no staff in sight. We later found out that this library is not maintained by P&O Australia and the books therein were left over by the last shipping line and is currently topped up with gifts, books left by past passengers. Also the library has very limited opening times unlike say Princess who leave the library open all of the time and you sign in and out your own books for reading. We found the ships dancers manning the library, knowing nothing about the books, clearly the books were originally intended for American readers. The quality of the books is shameful. I read one of these books "Miracle in the Andes" which incidentally is a great book and once you pick it up you will be unable to put it down. But the condition of the book had the entire picture pages loose, just stuffed inside. There were several books in this state. For a supposedly luxury cruise ship, this was a disgrace. Now we return to our cabin, my suitcase has arrived so I duly unpack. The steward arrives and introduces herself. I point out the dirty stain marks all over the carpet and she agrees that it has to be cleaned. She also informs me that out of the 17 cabins she takes care of each day, 6 of them have carpets in this sate. I never saw evidence of this, as all others that I could see seemed to have been refitted with newer carpets than this BC grade cabin which for 11 days we had paid $4998.00.($454 a day) 20 minutes later the deck supervisor arrived, the steward had called him in to take a look. We were then told that the past passengers of this cabin had wrecked the room, damaging both bedside light switches and spilling red wine all over the carpet plus other liquids. No doubt the liquid stains on the glass window/door were also the result of the cabin being trashed. The supervisor says that he will get the carpet shampooed and cleaned the next day. We accept this but point out that some of these stains are not only past guest's accidents or whatever, but caused by age and time from a rusting superstructure. We point to the very large rust water marks which is evident of time, for a re-fit but we do not mention that fact. The next day, true to his word, whilst we are away from the cabin for breakfast the cleaners are in and shampoo the carpet, only the affected area and not the whole cabin. We are informed that the stains are too bad to be removed and that they will change the carpet. We are surprised that they carry spare carpets on-board but leave the cabin for two hours and return after lunch. The carpet has been replaced and fitted, badly but hey, they did it in two hours and at sea. Upon arrival we also checked the pillows to see if they are clean. Our past experiences tells us, pillows on cruise ships are often overlooked for washing. When we remove the pillow protectors all 4 pillows are badly stained with other peoples perspiration/sweat and all pillows have deep yellow marks and smell very badly of odour. Immediately the steward, who has seen this a thousand times I'd imagine, brings new ones and apologises but blames the time frame of change over-day and all she has to do in such a short time. We accept this and sympathize with her situation of 17 cabins and a complete change around. We cleaned the fridge ourselves and never mentioned the dirty glass windows, hoping that as like other cruise ships, the window glass would be cleaned at some point during our cruise vacation. Sadly, on this ship they were never cleaned nor was the balcony. The same paint chips scattered around the balcony were there at the end, the very same one's which were there on day one. Our light switch was fixed on day three, after we again had pointed this out to the steward that it was a safety issue, a piece of insulation tape over the top of bare electricity power wires is not a safe way to protect you when using a switch in the darkness of the night, or half asleep. Dining Onboard: The main restaurant has seating for 800 as we were informed by the crew. With 1760 passengers on our cruise, is this why they choose to name the dining as 'Anytime dining'. Open and anytime it may be called but open timing it most certainly is not. On the first night we had requested a table upon booking the restaurant for 8 or 10. Upon entering the restaurant we were shown to a table of 6. 4 others were already there and eating. Having nothing of this, we return to the front where the staff are all huddled and demand a large table as requested. They must keep table 133 on the first night for people who will not be just put anywhere, as everyone on the table had a similar experience. Nevertheless, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the whole table turned out to be one of the very best we have ever experienced on any one of our 22 cruises so far. We all then tried to book this same table the next night for 6.30pm, after all it is anytime dining. We were then told no, this table is only used at 6pm or 8pm, now what do you wish. 6.30 We say, no they say, 6 or 8. We insist its anytime dining so they say you can have table 78, which we accepted. At table 78 we can see table 133 is still unoccupied. We call the waiter and he's amazed we were not allowed the same table. How do they expect you to tip a particular waiter at the end of a cruise if you cannot join the same table every night if you should so wish? From that night on, we conformed to what they wanted and relented to a 6pm dinner time. Thus we now have table 133, the same waiter who I know is happy as at the end of the cruise as every single couple on the table tipped him well, making his cruise with us or ours with worthwhile. The quality of the food was good. 7-8 out of 10(7-8/10) Not as good as Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and not in the same class at all as Cunard and P&O UK, let alone Crystal. Nevertheless, although portion size was restrictive, you could ask for double portion is you wished. I loved the portion size control as this is my first cruise where I actually left the ship losing half a kilo rather than putting on 3 - 4. So I was happy, very happy. Tipping: As this ship and all of the P&O Australia fleet advertise. The ship has a no tipping policy. Yes I know in Australia in general one does not have to tip. I actually agree with this policy wholeheartedly and agree with not having to tip as is compelled to in the United States. But quickly here, the food prices in the states are much cheaper than here in Australia and the wages paid to waiters in the USA is very low compared to here. So USA, yes tipping is necessary where as in Australia tipping is not necessary. However on a cruise ship it has always been that the cruise lines makes a mint out of you and, then you are advised that you have to tip as well. Doesn't seem fare does it. Until you dig deeper and find out that these stewards and waiters do this for normally $50 a week and rely on your tips to make up their wages to maintain their families in their own homelands. An example of this is say a steward would get on average $5 a day tip, over a week that's $35 multiply that by the 17 that's $595 plus his $50 and you're up to $645. But again remembering that they work very long hours and 7 days a week for 8-9 months for that. Then they have 2-5 months out of work waiting for their next contract. The reason they do it, simple, the need to feed their families, as at home at best they could only expect to earn $50 a week. So by going on these cruise ships, they are actually much better off, financially that is. Now back to P&O Australia, they now pay these Stewards & Waiters $200-250 per week. And say it's not necessary to tip, but in so doing they have removed half of their possible wage. This is why, some of you may have experienced some slack service at times. But we never did, and most whom we talked with, were still tipping their waiters and stewards. Good on you all, is what I can say. That's how it should be. After all, working 7 days a week for 6 or 8 months is no easy task. Alcohol Policy: This ship has a strict BRING NO alcohol on board policy. They just want you to buy everything on board at very much inflated prices. They do not pay duty and tax on their prices but you are paying equal to or more than what you would here in Australia. Apart from the couple of cheaply priced wines in the restaurants, the rest is expensive and not even reasonable. The ship x-rays your luggage as it boards your cases and, if you are seen with an empty or full bottle of alcohol in your luggage it will be securely kept for you and returned after the cruise. You will be called down to deck 4 to open and have your case inspected and your booty confiscated. Some cruise lines within the Carnival banner, will allow you to bring alcohol onboard with you. Some will even supply it to you in your cabin at Duty Free prices and some lines will even provide you with a fully stocked mini bar for your own in cabin consumption, whilst others will provide you with two bottles of spirits along with mixers all included in your booking price. So for this Cruise line or any cruise line with this restrictive policy of allowing no alcohol in your cabin because as they say, they have a responsible alcohol policies to ensue you do not drink yourself silly. They are blatantly and knowingly infringing your human rights. They are treating you as irresponsible adults and not someone enjoying a holiday, where yes, most of us will have a wee drink or two. If a hotel stopped you from carrying in your own alcohol there would be an outcry but, for a ship this type of search and remove is okay. Remember these rules that this particular cruise line have introduced as only enforceable if passengers agree to these restrictions. Everyone should make a stand and everyone should pack empty spirit bottles or full ones in the cases that way, they just could not handle 1760 passengers' bags all lines up in a 4m x 4 area on deck 4 to be opened. They just couldn't cope. But we are all used to being told what we should do and not do, in this dictatorial world, our freedoms are slowing being eroded from us all everyday. This is yet just another one of those silly rules which should be banished. Party Ship: The entertainment staff encourages all guests to attend the dome after 10.30pm each evening to party. Indeed the Entertainment Manager always mentioned the dome and its activities after each evening shown in the show lounge. They hold different events in the dome, it seems, precisely designed to encourage you to drink and party to the small hours. The videos on Youtube are evidence of such antics and carryings on which emulates from too much alcohol. Also the onboard video produced for you to buy as a memento, also captures these party events. Showing copious amounts of alcohol being served and people being just plain silly. The ship definitely has a party type atmosphere feel about it, right from the sail away parties, to the so describe 'fun party nights' in the dome. Saying all of that, which is true, downstairs in the lounges and bars I never once encountered rowdy or drunken behaviour associated with too much alcohol. So maybe, and I mean just maybe, P&O Australia by segregating these party nights up in the dome away from the other public areas, are possibly better able to control the hot, shake it all about and must be loud types. Thus able to cater for all, be that young, middle aged or old-en's on the same cruise ship. Where other ships actually only cater for middle aged and the older generation. This is possibly why the P&O Australia ships are filled with all age groups from kids to grannies. All which seem to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere onboard generated by all of the crew. Our cruise was outside of the school holidays, nevertheless, we encountered at least 60 children onboard whose parents had taken them out of school. Buffet Restaurant: Breakfasts here would be a delight for most. They served each and everyday an excellent full cooked English breakfast, where you could order your eggs as you liked. The bacon was short-back and not streaky as most cruise lines use. The cereal section was limited to about 5 varieties but hey, if you couldn't choose something else then you really are being too picky. There were always lines to grab a tray and plates, the line moved quickly. Out of 10, I would have to give them 9/10 for the breakfast. This they excelled at: Lunchtime: Here too the variety was always different in the hot section. The cold and salad section was nearly always the same or very similar. The cold meats were limited to just two varieties per day and was repeated nearly the same everyday. Only occasionally were the mortadella and salami replaced with something else. The bread was small slices, airy and of no substance. A very light bread. The rolls we small and only white or white offered. Occasionally a brown one would be offered. So to make a sandwich was almost impossible as the size of the bread was one bite and it would be gone. Only on one day, were filled round larger bap type rolls on offer. I suspect left over from the deck barbeque the previous day. I had one and it made a very nice change from the mouthful of air bread previously encountered on other days. For the first 7 days no waiters offered us any drinks with our lunch. I did see a drinks station tucked up at the end and thought that on this ship they had done away with the wine waiters at lunchtimes. On the last 3 days it seemed that all the waiters had been instructed to drum up and sell more alcohol at lunchtimes, as everyone came around trying to persuade us to max out our cards. Maybe they had been put on a bonus scheme or they had not reached their targets of selling enough alcohol. Overall the lunchtime quality and service was not as good as the Palm restaurant of the evening. The carpets around the edges under the windows were never cleaned whilst we were onboard, food droppings were there from one day to the next. Although the main carpet was cleaned just not behind the tables next to the windows. Also the air vents above the dining area were all full of dust, not cleaned in a very, very long time. This really does need immediate attention. Overall at lunchtimes including service 7/10. Never used the buffet for an evening adventure as we prefer the formality of a full service restaurant. Entertainment: Show times were designed for you to spend extra times in the bars and to spend more money onboard. Considering dining times are classed as open but in reality its 5.30 to 6pm and 8-8.30pm, the shown times were constantly 7.30pm and 9.30 pm. Making it impossible for anyone dining at 8pm to see a show. On other ships Showtime's are 6.15 for second sitting passengers and 8.15 for first seating passengers. Occasionally on some it has been 8pm and 10pm. All of these times allow all passengers to see a show, not on this ship though. Consequently the 7.30 shows were always packed out and the 9.30 ones only half full. But the bars were always full of people spending money and drinking. I guess they have it planned out that way. Bugger the passengers as long as the ships making money. The quality of the shows was poor in comparison to the other cruise lines mentioned already in this review. We did have 5 shows on this 11 night cruise but you could not call them Broadway or West End adaptations. Disappointing after being spoiled in the past by other cruise lines with their style and quality of theatre style entertainment. Ports of call: One has to do it to say you have done it. Out of the 6 ports of call only two were actual ports of call, all the others we anchor offshore and tender in. After 4 tender ports you really are all done with tendering. Yes it costs the cruise lines much less to anchor offshore rather than find a port that can take your size ship. But for you as the passenger, it's a hassle , line up for tender tickets, line up to get out and then line up to get back to the ship. Tender ports generally are places which are less habited and therefore you will have less to do. If you are from Queensland, nothing beats a Queensland sandy beach. Not even one in French New Caledonia or Vanuatu. So don't expect to be thrilled or exasperated by the places in the middle of the South Pacific. Just enjoy the ride and enjoy the cruise the rest is just not on my radar screen as enjoyment. A walk past a pig with its front leg tied to a tree a goat too. Or a baby turtle in a washing bowel where you will be charged $2 to take a picture. This is animal cruelty and the cruise ship which organizes these types of stops should inform the land owners that unless they stop this type of ridiculous tourist trap behaviour they will no longer call there. That way, this animal cruelty will be not seen as a way to earn money from these cruise ships. The only port worth another visit was La Vila. Many of the cruise passengers were first time cruisers, one can see why when the ports of call out of Brisbane and Sydney are limited to these outcast Islands of new Caledonia and Vanuatu apart from of course beautiful New Zealand. But there are only so many times you can cruise the New Zealand without it becoming too familiar. Overall: P&O do an excellent job of filling their ships, considering the real lack of real ports of call. They price their product which attracts not only older cruisers but families with young children. The downside is that the quality of the product overall must lie within the price and as such, don't expect to be on Cunard's Queen Mary or on one of the many ships that sail under the P&O UK flag. The Australian ships may have the same P&O flag but the two products are light years apart. The ships of P&O Australia are the cast off's of other lines within the Carnival brand, which they themselves have been awarded the newer much more elegant and updated ships of the 21st century. Considering that this ship had a major refit in May 2010, clearly our cabin on B deck was missed. Whilst it was clear that the majority had received new carpets it was disappointing to have been allocated one which clearly missed the inspections just 12 months ago. The public rooms clearly have received a refit and looked good for a ship 21 years old. Sadly I am sorry to report that the painting maintenance and lack of general cleaning in parts is letting the brand down. I hope that soon they put this right as the costs associated with a refit which are astronomical in financial terms, will all have been lost in a couple of years without the maintenance upkeep needed with such a vessel. The ships officers and crew on all ships do a remarkable job, this ship was no different, they are small floating cities each with their own charm and deportment. Would I sail on a P&O Australia ship again, not if I had another option or they upgraded their quality of product, which I cannot see them being able to do with the limited numbers of people within easy reach of Australia. Most passengers originated from within Australia, unlike other cruise lines which seem to attract guests from all over the world. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
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