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92 P&O Australia First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise. We took our two adult daughters to visit Port Vila, Lifou and the Isle of Pines and were expecting lots of interesting activities, lovely cabins, good food and great service. The good points were the Waterfront ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We took our two adult daughters to visit Port Vila, Lifou and the Isle of Pines and were expecting lots of interesting activities, lovely cabins, good food and great service. The good points were the Waterfront Restaurant with 5 star food and service and attentive, friendly waitstaff. Our waitress remembered our names from the very beginning, no matter where she was working, and was an absolute delight. When one of us was sick, she put together a plate of cheese and biscuits to take back to the cabin. At the end of the cruise, she hugged us all as we said goodbye. She was an absolute asset to P & O, as was the cabin steward and other waiters. The food in the buffet was a bit hit and miss - lovely breakfasts but pretty ordinary food the rest of the day. My rating of 3 for dining is really an average between the Buffet and the Waterfront Restaurant. The evening productions (musical theatre and circus performances) were outstanding and we enjoyed the trivia quizzes, however unfortunately there was very little else of interest and we struggled to 'fill in' the day. There is only so much reading you want to do for 6 sea days! There were very few movies for adults and unless you got there 30 minutes before they started, you couldn't get a seat. Many of the activities cost extra or were talks designed to sell the ship's products or services, such as the spa. How often do you want to listen to what to do about your wrinkles and puffy eyes? This talk seemed to be on every day. If you like gambling at the casino and playing Bingo, that could have occupied a lot of your time but if that's not your thing, then there wasn't much else. Bridge was on at 8am each day and unhosted - so if you turned up and three other people did at that crazy hour, you might have a foursome for bridge. Dancing classes didn't happen for the first few days and then started on the days people were on shore. There were no interesting talks as on other cruises we've heard about, e.g. on the history and culture of the places we were visiting. There seemed to be a big emphasis on making money from the expensive alcohol (apart from the cocktails which were cheaper than bars at home). We spoke to quite a few people who had cruised on that very ship or with other P & O ships and all of them said that the standard of this one was disappointing compared to other cruises. They all said that the number of activities had really reduced, there wasn't enough to do and things that were previously free now cost extra. Some also said the emphasis seemed to be more on drinking alcohol "because that's where they make all their money". The ship was in need of refurbishment in many areas where it looked 'tired' and 'old'. Our cabin, 11150, was a mini-suite with balcony on Deck 11, the highest level of cabin on the highest deck, so the most expensive. Our daughters were in a cabin with window down the passage from us. Although our cabin was a good size with a very comfy bed and good quality linen, the carpets were stained and the tiles in the bathroom were badly cracked. However the greatest problem we had was the noise of the cabin. I can't believe that I just read a review of a cabin on the same deck written in April 2011 complaining of the same noise for the same reason! I wish I'd read it before leaving. Obviously this hasn't been addressed in the last two years. 11150 was under the open deck with pools. Every day and night we heard deck chairs being moved for long periods of time while staff stacked them and put them out, or people dragged tables and chairs around. We mentioned this to Reception but they were completely disinterested. On top of this, we heard all the music from the bands playing on deck which wasn't too bad until one night when the noise was reverberating off our walls and ceiling. Fortunately it stopped at 11.30 pm but not too good with sick members of the family. It appears that the ceiling wasn't insulated at all. We also had an excessive, odd noise in the air conditioning for about 2 days and one night: the incessant 'beeping' overnight prevented sleep altogether. Fortunately it righted itself and the maintenance staff did investigate. The cabin also creaked and groaned all night with the swell! Our daughters' cabin further up the passage (11196) had no noise from the deck above (they were under the restaurants) but the air conditioning fan appeared to be on 'high' for the entire cruise. They were told that all the cabins had air conditioning like that, which obviously wasn't true. We spoke to several other passengers who had lovely quiet cabins and normal air conditioning in lower decks and those who were experienced cruisers told us never to stay on the top deck. What a shame, considering it was also the most expensive. We also found it difficult to get a refund for a shore tour when one of our daughters was too sick with a virus to get out of bed for an entire day. We were told we couldn't get it without taking her to the doctor on board and that person agreeing that she was sick enough not to go. She didn't need a costly medical consultation, but just needed to sleep. We had given 3 hours' notice that she would not be going but the inflexibility and lack of concern of the Reception staff was unbelievable! It was such a shame to have these negative experiences and we would never sail on the Pacific Jewel again or even with P & O. Fortunately the good points I mentioned above are things we will always remember happily but the negatives will stick with us too.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Let me start off by saying I was the last person who thought i would be going on a cruise but i have to say it was the most amazing thing i could of done! Once you get onto the ship there is nothing left to do, just sit back and relax! you ... Read More
Let me start off by saying I was the last person who thought i would be going on a cruise but i have to say it was the most amazing thing i could of done! Once you get onto the ship there is nothing left to do, just sit back and relax! you don't have to worry about checking into hotels or anything! We went on a 4 night cruise on a P&O Australia boat called the Pacific Jewel. It only had one port of call and that was Morton island, just off Queensland Australia. Let me start by telling you about the ship, We forked out and got a window room and it was great! lots of room and very neat and tidy(not to mention the amazing view), It was plenty off room for me and my partner even a nice size bathroom. We were on the 5th floor and i prob wouldn't go any higher then that as it was perfect because you couldn't really feel any rockiness at all. After i finished unpacking we went from one side of the ship to another to check it out and it exceeded all my expectations. The ship was tidy and well looked after. There was an array of bars, dining options, and boutique shops, not to mention the extensive selection of entertainment. My first stop was the buffet for lunch and i was instantly impressed with the spread. They had everything from roast dinner to Indian cuisine, hamburgers and chips and also a fresh fruit bar and a dessert bar. After lunch i headed back to my room and found the daily news paper so i started planning my day. There so much to choose from that there was not enough hours in the day. Anything from art to cocktail making classes(i highly recommend doing the cocking making class at mix bar), live shows, dance classes and more. One of the highlights for me was watching Beyonce on the big screen on top of the deck. I also participated in the on board trivia and karaoke which seemed quite fun for everyone. At night we chose to dine in the on board restaurant which had a lovely reoccurring menu available everyday accompanied by a menu of daily specials that changed everyday. This makes every dining experience different everyday. So in conclusion the pacific jewel provided an excellent first cruise experience. I would have no hesitations recommending this ship to my family and friends and anyone else who is thinking of going on a cruise with P&O. I love everything that it had to offer and it made my 21st birthday a very memorable time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Just got back from our first cruise. In spite of the weather being average the cruise was great. From the time we got to the dock to the time we reached are cabin the whole process was completed in 1,5hrs. Our luggage arrived to our ... Read More
Just got back from our first cruise. In spite of the weather being average the cruise was great. From the time we got to the dock to the time we reached are cabin the whole process was completed in 1,5hrs. Our luggage arrived to our cabin in quick time also. Was greeted by are cabin steward,Toto, service was outstanding he really looked after us and ensured any queries we had were dealt with straight away he also follow up. Meals were great did become a bit boring by day 10 we sat around and guessed what was for lunch today. Plenty of bars and lounges to sit around and while the sea days away. Photos the ships crew take are OTT $30.00 for two photos. Aqua Sauna and Steam Zone prices again OTT. The Gym was excellent used it every other day. Duty Free Shopping on board "dear" becomes cheaper closer to the end of the trip 40-50% off. Don't buy up early. We did are duty free in Villa. Kids are well catered for even though we had none we did not see the kids that much during the day so they must have enjoyed the entertainment provided. Night life plenty to do, one of the highlight's was Pacific Cirque the show was fantastic. The Pacific Entertainers led by Sandy who loves BINGO they also did a great job. The Marquee seating is uncomfortable. P&O need to rip it out and put in more comfortable seating. Be prepared to spend up to $400-$500.00 on drinks this included bought coffee it was better than the free at least you got a chocolate with it.Drinks range from approx $7.00-$12.00each. The Art Auction did not impress myself I thought what was on offer was pretty ordinary and I did not see much chance of them increasing in value. Water front Restaurant service was outstanding I have only experienced that type of service in high end restaurants. Salt Grill, was put off by the cover charge of $22.00 this was the only priced advertised at the front door it would have been nice to see the meal prices also at the front. La Luna did not try as the girls were not into Asian Food. The service by all staff was outstanding. When you got within one meter of a crew member they greeted you, they always had a smile on their face. The crew made up for any shortfalls the ship weather threw up. The Bar Staff I got to know some of them quite well and got talking to them were they lived etc. Make a point of filling out the Proud Forms it helps the guys for Promotion and earns the another Proud Badge. Leaving the ship once we docked back home. We were off the ship and in a Taxi within the hour of docking. In summary value for money did not have to lift a finger P&O and team ensured we sat back and relaxed. Will we do it again you bet next time we are taking the whole extended family. Thanks P&O and Team, lots of memories came flooding back from are time in the islands back in the 80s. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We 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
I feel a lot of the things being said on here about the Pacific Dawn are quite harsh. I've seen many reviews complaining that you must pay for everything other than food and your ticket. If everything were included the price would go ... Read More
I feel a lot of the things being said on here about the Pacific Dawn are quite harsh. I've seen many reviews complaining that you must pay for everything other than food and your ticket. If everything were included the price would go up and people would complain about that.. Embarkation/debarkation was smooth and easy. Our cabin was a decent size and well cleaned everyday by our super friendly cleaner, the only problem I would point out is that the balcony was a bit dirty. But just ask someone to clean it for you and it's not a problem. The balcony is definitely worth the money. There's nothing like drinking a cocktail on your balcony watching the sunset :) The food in the buffet for dinner wasn't very good, the focused more on quantity than quality, but the breakfast and lunch buffets were good. Food in the dining hall was great, I can't fault it. The staff in the dining room were very grumpy and rude though, if we requested anything they got angry (my partner requested a second entree and the waiter frowned at us..). We had the $20 Asian set dinner one night, and I have to say it was excellent value for money and good quality food. We would definitely pay for that again. Cocktails were good, but a few of the bar staff were grumpy too. The staff at the coffee shops were super friendly though, and the coffee was really good for the price. The free coffee was terrible, but I think I'm a coffee snob haha. The shows were pretty good. Most of the comedians were terrible. They made a lot of jokes by embarrassing people in the audience (getting them up on stage when they clearly didn't want to, or calling them no fun when they said no, running up and screaming in people's ears to frighten them) which I didn't find funny at all. The gym was very small and shoved at the very bottom of the boat, which wasn't good. But they go boot camp,jogging and yoga on deck for a fair price for all you fitness nuts who don't want to be in the box of a gym. They did a lot of parties on deck and in the nightclub, which were heaps of fun ! Adults only trivia and karaoke/singing competitions in the nightclub were a lot of fun too. Bingo was really fun(even though you had to buy a pen haha), the jackpot went to one lady who won $6000 ! There weren't that many scheduled activities for younger people during the day, lots of quilting and how to lose weight/dealing with arthritis seminars. But that was ok, there were plenty of things for us to do later on in the day, it was nice to relax at the back of the ship in the adults only area during the day and do the night-time activities. Overall we had a great time and would book this cruise again in a heartbeat ! Some small complaints really don't outweigh the many good things, don't let the bad reviews on here put you off. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
This 9 day cruise out of Sydney was great. Make sure you label your suitcases at home. Saves hassle at departure time. We are first time cruisers. We enjoyed our holiday. Tips for booking a cruise: check your Itinerary to see how many ... Read More
This 9 day cruise out of Sydney was great. Make sure you label your suitcases at home. Saves hassle at departure time. We are first time cruisers. We enjoyed our holiday. Tips for booking a cruise: check your Itinerary to see how many Port Days you have and how many Sea Days you have. If you depart from Brisbane, you can decrease the amount of time you have at sea (if you are heading for the South Pacific). There is plenty to do on the ship but we preferred the Port Days. NOUMEA: take note that if you arrive there on a Monday, several museums are closed e.g. Tjbaou Cultural Centre. Passengers who were booked on Shore Tours through P & O were able to go to this place but I'm not certain that they went IN it!You need to do your homework. Buy the Lonely Planet guide book. It's certainly easy to book trips yourself once you disembark from the ship at NOUMEA. It's very organised in a chaotic kind of way. We found a tour for $15.00 which gave us a 45 min bus ride around the city. After this mini tour, we were given a pass to ride around on the local bus which took us to the beaches etc. Perfect. Excellent value. Have your snorkel and facemask with you. We walked to the markets which took 5-10 mins. Handy to speak French at this point! Just aim for the Marina. Note that by 9.30am the markets were all but over! This was a Monday so don't know if that is typical. We found a place for a coffee and baguette! I read somewhere that one Monday of the month, the markets do not operate at all. Our ship did not 'park' at the end of the town (which would have been so handy) but in an Industrial Area nearby. Passengers were very efficiently transported from the ship to the Terminal where we should have pulled in. (Another ship had booked the spot!) Not a problem though. Currency: it really was very handy to carry South Pacific Francs. The onboard rate that the ship had was fine. You can exchange them back again if you don't use them. Noumea was expensive. Across the road from the Terminal is a Supermarket if you get hungry. MYSTERY ISLAND: Our favourite. Do all your shopping here and hair braiding $12.00, massages $15.00 etc! Lots of stalls to wander through. It was rather surprising what was available considering it is an uninhabited island! Locals came over to the island for the day to set up shop. This is Vanuatu not New Caledonia and the prices of everything reflect this! LIFOU: A funny little island where it was hard to get away from everyone! Snorkelling was great. Exit the ship and wander up through the carpark then turn left when you hit the road. About 5 mins along the road will be a turn to the right, not sign posted. This is where you snorkel with the hordes! Very good though. The church was in the same vicinity. Another nice stroll. ISLE OF PINES: Snorkelling here was fabulous. Don't get off the ship without your snorkelling gear on any Port Days! The lobster was nice but a mere morsel! Good way to use up your spare francs. There was a very civilised 'pub' at the end of the beach but you have got to explore a bit to find it! CHILDREN: We did not have ours with us but I noticed very few children had any swim aids and the water can be very deep in places we snorkelled. It sure would have made it more enjoyable for parents and kids if they had a float aid on! There were lots of Dads being 'strangled' in the water! MAIN TIP: Diet before you take this cruise! Bon apetite! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
My partner and I are both first time cruisers, booking the trip as a way to relax and unwind at the end of a hectic year for both of us. We had read fairly mixed reviews about the Pacific Jewel thus we boarded not really knowing what to ... Read More
My partner and I are both first time cruisers, booking the trip as a way to relax and unwind at the end of a hectic year for both of us. We had read fairly mixed reviews about the Pacific Jewel thus we boarded not really knowing what to expect, reminding ourselves to keep an open mind and to go with the flow. Embarkation was a fairly easy process. We were dropped off at Wharf 5 at 11:30 and by 12:30 we were checked in, through customs, into our room, booked into Salt and at the Plantation buffet for lunch. There was a bit of a snafu with our room at first. When we arrived, there was no key in the door. We hoped that meant our room was double booked and we'd be upgraded from an outside cabin to a balcony or mini suite. Alas, the people on the cruise before us had lost or left with the keys and new ones needed to be coded. It was a minor problem fixed up in no time by our accommodation steward, Adrian. Speaking of Adrian, he was just fabulous. A friendly and warm person for whom nothing was too much bother. We were extremely happy with the service he provided, and we will miss seeing his smiling face on the way to breakfast each morning and dinner at night. Unfortunately the same could not be said for the staff at Waterfront. We ate at Waterfront for a majority of our meals as the buffet was not really our thing. The service was very hit and miss. We were hoping to find a waiter we liked and book the same table each night, unfortunately that wasn't to be. I understand that the service staff work very hard, and very long hours, yet when we would make a simple request (Such as asking for tomato sauce to go with chips at dinner or Vegemite for toast at breakfast) it was as if we'd just asked them to cut off their own hands and these requests had to be made two or three times. I also had an incident at breakfast where one of the wait staff was bringing me my croissants. I saw him drop one on the way, and so I got a plate with just one croissant. When I asked for a replacement it took five minutes of explaining and arguing as to why I should get another. I know that sounds petty but it is a great example of how most of the staff at Waterfront just could not be bothered, or were too tired to care. At the opposite end of the spectrum, our dinner at Salt was just spectacular. We went on the second night of the cruise and spent the rest of our week talking about how good the steak we had was. The food and service there were equally amazing and definitely worth the money. We heard other people complaining about it, that they didn't like the ordering process or that the food was just average but I am pretty sure they were on drugs. Don't listen to those people, definitely go to Salt if you have the chance. We managed to see most of the nightly shows. I wasn't expecting much, a bit of school spectacular mixed in with RSL dancers but I was pleasantly surprised. The Pacific Cirque troupe was extraordinary and the shows put on each night by the Pacific Entertainers were of a high quality. The only lowlight for us was Danny McMaster. His show was very second rate. It seemed he hadn't learnt any new impressions since the mid 90's and after his third horrible racist joke within minutes we walked out in disgust. Unfortunately it seems that kind of humour appeals to most people and we were the only ones not laughing, so I'm sure he will continue to be booked. We had lots of fun on board the ship, having a few drinks and enjoying the sun and people watching. We tried as many different things as we could and made the most of our eight days at sea. A special shout out needs to go to Scooter the sports coordinator for his trivia each night. A good laugh and we managed to learn a bit about Canadian sports. The in-room entertainment was a bit interesting. They only seemed to play two movies, either Big Momma's House or Ocean's 11. It also only had BBC World News or Sky News UK which meant that we had no idea what was going on in Australia for the whole time we were away. To the ports. We didn't book any shore tours as we weren't sure what we were going to do. In Noumea we ended up booking our own ride on the tour train, which was good fun. At the end they dropped us off at Lemon Bay, a great place for a spot of lunch and to swim in calm protected waters. If you're going to Mystery Island or Isle of Pines as we did, I highly recommend taking a snorkel and aqua shoes with you. We had never snorkeled before but after picking up a cheap snorkel and goggles at K-Mart and aqua shoes at Target we thought we'd give it a go. Definitely the right decision. The water is so clear at Mystery Island and there's so much fascinating coral to look at. Isle of Pines had so many different types of fish, it was just amazing. Our only regret is that we didn't get an underwater camera to get some shots of the fish. Oh well, next time! Sadly our eight nights were soon up and it was time to leave. Disembarkation was very smooth. Our group's meeting time for disembarkation was 8am and we were off the ship and in a taxi with our bags by 10 past 8. All in all we had a fantastic time. There was plenty to do to keep us entertained, and we also had lots of time to relax. We deliberately had low expectations but they were more than exceeded. When it comes down to it, your cruise is what you make of it. Like I said in the beginning we kept an open mind and a smile on our faces and it meant that we had a wonderful week that we will remember forever.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We were 1st time cruisers so I can't make comparisons, but there's no need because we thought the Pacific Jewel was great. A few highlights: Service - staff were ALWAYS polite, friendly and well-informed. Not once were we ... Read More
We were 1st time cruisers so I can't make comparisons, but there's no need because we thought the Pacific Jewel was great. A few highlights: Service - staff were ALWAYS polite, friendly and well-informed. Not once were we fobbed off or rushed when we had questions. Everyone we spoke to seemed to enjoy doing their job. Everything was micro-managed so that we never waited more than 1/2 an hour to disembark or return, even on tenders. Amazing organisation. Being at sea - I loved being on the ocean, the roll of the ship and the fresh (sometimes very fresh - it was cold!) air Entertainment - what a talented crew! I went to every show and enjoyed them all. Also went to dance lessons, trivia, bingo...something for everyone. Food was very good at the Waterfront - service from our wine waiter Christian and waiter Roshan excellent. Food at the buffet was not quite the same standard but still good. A few things we found underwhelming: Cost of the Internet! Prices at the spa were ridiculous. There were a lot of sessions that were really sales pitches - for detox products and the like. Behaviour of some other passengers - cutting in queues and taking food from the buffet with their fingers (yuck). Only one laundrette for 1900 passengers! Unexpected pleasures: It was so easy to meet people. Walking the length of the ship several times a day going here and there - great exercise. Changing for dinner - I expected this to be a chore as we're pretty casual, but we found it made a nice contrast to everyday life. Overall: I'd always wanted to try a cruise and enjoyed it very much. However we did find 13 nights a bit long. For a first-time cruiser I'd recommend a shorter cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
I had read a lot of information regarding cruises on the internet. There was quiet a lot of negative comments that I filtered out as I decided to emabrk on my first cruise with my partner. He has cruised before, and told me it was great, ... Read More
I had read a lot of information regarding cruises on the internet. There was quiet a lot of negative comments that I filtered out as I decided to emabrk on my first cruise with my partner. He has cruised before, and told me it was great, but I had reservations. Well let me tell you about it. We arrived at Sydney airport to be greeted by P & O staff, we were taken to a bus and loaded on and out of the airport with barely enough time for a toilet stop. The service and speed was great. We arrived to the wharf, and after filling out forms, which I had to beg a pen off a fellow traveller, P & O , you should offer pens at this stage, but other than this very small problem, we were on the ship within 15 minutes. No queues, nothing. It was so highly organised and ran as smooth as possible. Every little bit of information we needed was in our cabin, and with a quick introduction by Richie, our brilliant minder we were off for the most relaxing 2 weeks of our lives. Our room was twice as large as I thought it would be, we had a small balcony. Everything we needed was there.And plenty of storage, we unpacked in to full size drawers and cuboards, ans stowed the suitcases away. The food was brilliant. The Waterfront restaurant was outstanding, very surprising quick service with escellent food. I was worried about the reservation system, but whether we mae a reservation or not we were always seated for dinner. the buffet was of an extremely high standard and was a great standby for the nights we could not be bothered dressing up for. Salt grill was absolutely amazing. I could never aford to eat at a restaurant like that at home. We went there 3 times. La luna was good, the service great, but I thought the food lacked a little. Overall I would rate the food expereince a 5/5. I did have one small concern, the rpice of the wine was a little expensive. As we were eating out every night, it would have been nice to have a bottle every night, but the budget did not stretch this far. So we had a couple of dry nights. The wine list was varied and interesting, but with the Katnook at $48 per bottle, $15 in Dan Murphys, I was a little miffed. Maybe I have expensive tastes in wine, but the cheaper Rothberry line that was offered at $25 per bolltle was not to my tasting. A little more range in Pinot Noir would be nice to see next time. There was so much to do on the ship. The activities were non stop. I chose to bake ont he back deck at the Oasis, and read for most of my activities, but for the busy minded there was so much to choose from. The shows were great, I loved the Juggler, magician,the ventriliquist the late night comedy shows. The musical shows were entertaing but as these do not really appeal to me I should not probably comment. I thought that they caould be of a slightly higher standard. Everon else on board seemed to love it. The circus show with the elephant puppets was fantastic. Not to the columbian and New Zealad trapeze artists. Absolutley world class. I loved the 4 shows we saw with their juggling and trapeze work. The laser light shows were also very entertaining. Ports:  Isle Of Pines. Totally beautiful relaxing experience Mystery Island. The best snorkelling and beatiful Island Port Vila OK Suva Dirty, you need to get out of town here and do a tour Port Denaru Lovely I loved my cruise. The ports were great, and even though we missed one due to bad weather I did not mind. I hardly felt the ship move during the bad weather. Either I am an excellect sea farer from way back, or the ship has an amazing stablising system underneath it. The latter I think. I will efinately be cruising again. I am addicted. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
All in all I enjoyed the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. It was very relaxing, but I did spend more time in my cabin than I thought I would. This was probably more due to roughish seas and overcast weather than anything else, but I do have to ... Read More
All in all I enjoyed the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. It was very relaxing, but I did spend more time in my cabin than I thought I would. This was probably more due to roughish seas and overcast weather than anything else, but I do have to note that the Australian passengers were often a miserable lot. A lot of people walked around with faces like smacked a*ses, which is always a bit depressing on a cruise. We visited Noumea, Port Vila and Lifou on the cruise. Embarkation was fine. No problems whatsoever. Noumea: We came off the ship to discover it was a public holiday in Noumea, and therefore all tours etc were useless as attractions were closed. Luckily we had booked none as we were intending to see the city sights, unluckily they were also closed. It seems Noumea takes its public holidays very seriously. The city was run down looking and empty and a bit eerie - I'm sure it would be a much nicer city with everything open and people everywhere. We ate some crepes at a place near the docks, but basically just wandered around took photos and boarded early. I have to say that none of us had any idea it was a public holiday. I would have thought there'd be some info somewhere, like when we docked or something. Lifou: We didn't do much at Lifou except walk around in the heat for half an hour, hire some ratty old snorkelling gear and snorkel for most of the time there. We snorkelled where we were tendered and it was decent snorkelling - we saw turtles and many fish. It was a beautiful little island. I would have liked to see more of it - there had been a big storm that ruined the steps to a place we wanted to snorkel and people said it was too slippery to climb down to, so we just hung around the tendering point, which was lovely anyway. Port Vila: Really enjoyed Port Vila with it's market near the dock and it's low prices in town. We went into town, ate, hired a driver to take us to the waterfall, which was fabulous (wish we'd been more prepared and spent more time there) and then went on a shore excursion to do some snorkelling. It was all good, I would definitely return to Port Vila. Cabins on Dawn: We had 2 ocean view cabins. Really decent storages. The teens had their cabin toilet flood pretty badly. I had heard there could be problems so I was expecting this as they are ridiculous with the toilet paper. Poor cabin steward. The problem was fixed reasonably quickly and I was very happy that one of our teens was old enough that we could get a separate cabin. We had no problems with our own cabin - it was nice and comfortable and we liked our ocean view. There weren't any real perks to the cabin - we used our own toiletries and shampoo and conditioner and soap as their offerings were non-existent or poor. Service: Had decent service all over the ship. Great cabin steward but I think he came to hate our teenagers. I don't blame him. Food: The main dining room was fine in terms of food but very annoying in terms of booking systems. It certainly wasn't Celebrity in this regard. I liked it but it wasn't great, and eating in the buffet was pretty horrible due to crowdedness and lines and all those smack *rse faced people. Entertainment: I enjoyed the entertainment. Some of the shows were pretty lame but I liked the circus style shows and final karaoke night. Teens club: Mr 15 tried the club and spent a bit of time making new friends. He said it was often pretty boring. Ms 17 was not so keen on the whole scene and preferred activities like making beaded things and going wherever we went. I thought it was a cruise with some good destinations and we were lucky to get great weather for those destinations. The sea days were always a bit cloudy and the seas were a bit rough. It was overall a pleasant experience but I don't know about booking on Dawn or with P&O again. One last thing - we got great prices which helped make it nice. If I'd paid full price I'd have been unhappy about quite a few things. LOL Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
On the 30th of April 2011, I stepped foot onboard the pacific dawn. Would I do it again? OF COURSE! It was a fantastic cruise. Of course there were negatives but this in no way ruined the cruise. From the food to the crew to the people on ... Read More
On the 30th of April 2011, I stepped foot onboard the pacific dawn. Would I do it again? OF COURSE! It was a fantastic cruise. Of course there were negatives but this in no way ruined the cruise. From the food to the crew to the people on board it was just excellent. Embarkation was easy, picked up a tag, tagged my bag put on the conveyer belt and off it went. Try to remember to bring a pen as not many are supplied at all! That process took maybe 5 minutes at most! Then go inside where you will be amongst hundreds of other humans, though a little daunting it seemed to run quite smoothly. Collect a Green card and go into the line. Fill out the card while you wait too save you some time. When you get to the front of the line you will go to up to a desk and get checked in. Here you show your passport and your cruise card (Cabin key and how you pay for everything on board). They also take your picture so when it's scanned they know who you are...This is where you set up your credit card to the cruise card. Then you will receive a ticket saying when you will board. When it's called you just go to the customs area and have the green card. After this I went to the cafe too eat before my boarding number was called, the food there was quite good! I had the steak and eggs. Also there is an IGA next too it so you can grab some last minute things...I would grab some potato chips and some small snacks to keep in your cabin. Also you should buy a lanyard for your cruise card or bring one from home. I brought my own as I read about it before. There was a guy on the street selling some for $5 and some stores had them for $6-$8. You can buy them on the boat as well for $8. Don't get one with a plastic sleeve in my opinion as you have to take it out to get in your room and what not. They also have a hole already for the lanyard. I read that they did not have it before, now they do.Customs was a joke compared to an airport. When it's your turn you go through and hand that green card to some guy near the entrance. Then you are asked to wait in line to go through the metal detector and the x-ray for your onboard bags. You walk through and you are good to go! There was no sniffer dog; the bags were barely looked at so you could probably bring anything on board. She glimpsed at the x-ray monitor for less than a second when me and my brother went through.From customs you will walk through to the boat going up some stairs which I tripped on because my brother was in front of me and walking too slow, there will be a photographer to take your picture there against a blue backdrop. I read that photos cost about $20 on board so I decided not to. I regret it now because you get a free 1Gb USB stick which has a little ball with water in it with a cruise ship inside...so it moves! I loved it! Sadly you can only get it for the first two days and you have to buy the Embarkation photo. Then you will just walk up a ramp and get your card scanned to say that you are on board. This is where that picture of you from earlier is used. So make a funny face too try and make them laugh :)Then just find your way to your cabin. I was on deck 8. I went up the lift and looked at a map and figured it out quite easily. This boat is so dam easy to navigate you can't get lost! I got to my cabin and my luggage was there. My brother's was not yet there. Scanned my card and I was in my cabin. It was quite large, bigger than expected. We had a twin cabin that could be a 4 person cabin. It was an obstructed view it had one of the life boats in the way, but you could see 80-90% of everything out of the window. The TV was a little too small in my opinion it was about a 19 inch flat screen. There was a mini fridge but it didn't really keep anything too cold. We cranked up the dial to max and it still was not super fantastic for a cold drink but it kept it colder than room temperature which was good I suppose. We had a look at the TV channels they offered. There were three movie channels which repeated the same movie on the channel it's on over and over for the day. Then a channel which had sitcoms and other TV shows on it. For example how I met your mother, Glee, Cake Boss (which I fell in love with) and late at night they showed discovery channel type things. The other channels were a mix of kids channels, they had cartoons and other type of shows. Some days they would play a kids movie on one of them none stop till the next day. There was also a news channel but it was crap. Something like fox news but more "puffed up" news stories. I was probably the first person on the boat to hear of Bin Laden death. There was ESPN which played all day, don't expect any Australian sports. There was also a channel showing a camera which was on the front of the boat as well as channels with some information about the cruise and what not. The bathroom is very small, I hated the toilet as I am quite large and it was tiny. I clogged it twice. The 2nd time someone had to come fix it. I guess if you do big poops you should flush multiple times. The shower was alright and a decent size for what it was.Then we met our room cleaner Danzil or something like that. He was a young dark skinned guy did not speak to him much. He was telling us about the safety procedures and what not. He shows us the life jackets and what not. We had to go down at 1:30 to have a safety drill. The alarm went off and we went down with our life jackets. We had to line up single file, people who got their earlier got seats, we did not. The just explained what the rings mean and how to put the jacket on. Probably could of just stayed in cabin and they would of never have known no role checks were taken or anything. Then the sail away deck party started, there were some entertainers and drinks going around. You could also buy a plastic cocktail cup to take home for $5. They claimed they did not have any regular cocktail glasses but the next day they happen to appear on the boat. Cocktails were $9.50 and Carona's were about $7.70 and a gin and tonic was $6.50. I recommend everyone try the strawberry daiquiri and pacific island ice tea with red bull. Soft drinks were all $2.00, coke was only 330ml sadly, but you could buy regular 375ml Pepsi for the same price. The Pepsi was from Australia but the coke was imported from some Asian country. Carona's were from Canada. Most drinks are not from Australia thus they had a different taste to what you may expect. We first ate in the buffet, we ate there quite often. It was great food. You would line up sanitize your hands and get a tray with your knife and fork. I recommend grabbing two plates, one for salad and dessert and another for your meat or hot food. Then you go slowly around to the salad then the deserts then the meat/hot food. The salads were fantastic on the first day however the tomatoes were green. This greatly upset me as I love them! This improved after the first day however. The best thing on the salad section was the Caesar salad dressing. It was amazing; it had a strong taste of garlic and is just to die for. Best dressing for salad I have probably ever had! The salad bar contained all kinds of salad from cold Cous Cous to just plain lettuce.Moving on from the salad bar was the desert bar. This normally contained a tart which was filled with cream and some fruit on top often kiwi or rock melon. Then there were 2-3 different types of cakes some were great some just average, never bad however. Jelly was also available here. The jelly had some sort of fruit in it and was just to die for. The jelly was fantastic it was also available every day. Then you had bread rolls, which are baked daily. Though they are rather empty they are crisp on the outside and soft on the side. They were very nice. Sometimes there were other kinds of breads. Butter was provided with the bread as well.Next was the awesome part, the MEAT. I'm a huge meat eater. Too review everything that was there would take me forever. But here are a few things that were available throughout the cruise. Chicken schnitzel, roasted potato with skin on or off, creamy potato bake, beef pot pie, shepherd's pie, fish grilled, seared, fried, steamed etc, roast chicken, roast pork, lamb shanks, lamb skewers and much much more. There was also soup but I never tried it. There was a new soup every day. However people told me it was hit and miss, but it was normally good. This was the same for the fish, the first two days the fish was great other times just rubbish. At the end of the meat line there was a guy cutting fresh pieces of some meat, this could have been roast chicken or roast beef, it changed daily. Often this was fantastic. I only ever came here for lunch and dinner. They were pretty much the same sort of style all the time. I never woke up on time for breakfast; however I was told breakfast was amazing. On the last day I was brought some pancakes from there and they were too die for. I regret not waking up for breakfast now.Now for the dining room option, I only went here twice. Both times for lunch, I had the chicken focaccia as a starter and the rump steak and chips as a main and the apple crumble for desert the first time. The chicken focaccia was alright, a little plain but was nice, the steak was alright perfectly cooked but was a little dry, just not as tasty as it looked, and the sauce was very good. The apple crumble was small and it was nice just not enough of it. The second time I had the Caesar salad as a starter and it was quite a small amount maybe 3 or 4 cos lettuce leaves with some parmesan and crotons as well as the sauce. The sauce makes it worth it! Then I tried the cheese burger and chips, I took one bite of the burger and just stopped. It was horrible did not like it at all, almost a rotten taste. I skipped desert after trying the burger. I tried to come back one night for dinner but I was wearing shorts, they would not allow me in. So I never came back. I was wearing fairly presentable shorts they were quite long and black, very modest shorts, not like swimming shorts. Other things I should mention was that the food was never hot, it was just warm, I don't like that at all, I prefer nice hot food. When you order all three things they will bring all three of them and just replace it when you finish. They hold it over near your table where they stack the dirty plates to return. This is probably why it's not hot. Also the place is quite noisy as the waiters are always around you stacking plates and what not, they do it in little stations around the room and my table was right next to it. This was not a very nice experience. I never went to the Salt Grill as it was $40 per person and I just wasn't up for it. I did however go to the Asian banquet called La Luna which was $20 per person. It was not fantastic it was 7 or 8 courses of food. It was very spicy and I felt a lot of the food was leftovers from the night before in the buffet. Some of it was very nice like the pork belly and prawns; otherwise it's not worth going to. I will note that it was extremely spicy for some of the courses, to an extreme level where you are gasping for air.Then there was the grill, this was a late night food place which cost extra. The steak sandwich was AMAZING for $15 a kilo of chicken wings was $8.50, a kilo of prawns was $28, Chicken kebabs were $11 and there were chips but I am not sure how much they were...they may have been other things as well but they were not listed. The chicken kebab was the only real rip off. It was really just roast chicken shredded and put in a pizza pocket with some salad and tazaki sauce. The wings and prawns can also be purchased in half kilos at half the price. They were very nice. The prawns are completely peeled apart the tail and are cooked.Room service was $3 for delivery and they would get you salads, soups, sandwiches, pies and cakes as well as a few other simple things. All the items ranged from $5-$8 and were all quite tasty, I tried the cheese cake and Caesar salad. My brother tried the potato beef and bacon pie. There is also a complimentary breakfast for $3 which is toast, pastries, hot chocolate, juice and other such simple things. BUT I never got it. I ordered it on the first day but it never came nor did I receive another card to order it again. I just didn't bother was a little upset over it.Entertainment on the cruise was fantastic, motorcity town was fantastic, it was a show with Motown music. It had a lot of singing and dancing and it was pretty much the most memorable Motown songs you know of, so singing along was encouraged. Amazing performance I wish I watched it twice. I am also 18 and it's not remotely my type of music but I enjoyed it. Pirates of the pacific was also quite a good show, it was a lot of pirate music and it was fun as it got the crowd on stage and involved them in what happened. Was quite funny all families will enjoy this. I missed watching so you wanna dance. I did not hear anything about this so I assume it was not as fun. I also missed most of Boogie Shoes, I watched the last two or three songs. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as the others at all. Then there were three comedians on board. These shows were hilarious! One was all ages and two were 18 years and over. They were all quite rude to some level. But the one which was all ages also sang. He sang like frank Sinatra and it was a great show. The other two were extremely funny; you should bring two or three diapers it's that funny. There was also two laser shows and they were amazing, these were held in the atrium over viewable by three decks. Then also in the atrium there was acrobatics by some group from Columbia. When they were supposed to perform the ship was moving too much so it was cancelled and replaced by a laser show. They performed when we were docked at an island. They were just amazing. This is something everyone should see. Just breathe taking. Other entertainment was given to you in newsletters delivered to your cabin daily, these included trivia, jeopardy, cooking demonstrations, ping pong, dance parties and lots more. Most were quite enjoyable. The singing and dancing crew were just amazing, the girls were just gorgeous and everyone had some real talent. Also there is a show called pacific pop star where passengers qualify to be in through karaoke completions this was fun and hilarious. A guy I played poker with won it singing what a wonderful world. Also in the showroom they sometimes showed movies around 10:30pm and sometimes during the day at 1:00pmThe casino was quite small there were two roulette tables which were $1 chips, three or four blackjack tables, an ocean poker table, a three card poker table, a Texas hold em poker table and a crap ton of slot machines. I was mainly playing poker. The table is also electronic and is $1/$2 blinds. The casino also takes a cut of how much you win in the pot. You play with other players on the table not a computer. It was fantastic I could have stayed there the whole cruise. The people I played with were hilarious! The casino does take quite a lot from you however when you play. Tournaments were also organized in the newsletter, it took a minimum of six people to start one but normally you had ten players. Entrance was $30 the entrance fee is the reward for 1st and 2nd place. The casino takes $5 per player in these tournaments. With ten players the rewards are $175 for first place and $75 for second place. I came second in one. It was great fun. Also on one night of the cruise the dealer for blackjack will show BOTH his cards to you before you decided to hit or stay with minimum bet of $5. I did not play however. Bingo is also on board and at the end there was a massive $6,800 price pool for one game. Full tickets are $30 for 5 games. The guy who won the prize pool was a bit of a downer. He wasn't happy or excited at all and he was under 40! The worst thing on the cruise to me was the casino bartenders and waiters. The never came to the poker table to ask what you want to drink they also never cleaned it up until you left. There would be 20 bottles and glasses on the table and not a single one will be taken off. Also when you asked for a Carona with Lemon they would give you with lime. When you ask for a lemon they say there are none left, when someone just got one on their drink. When you complain enough you'll get the lemon.The first place we visited was Noumea this place well just ....sucked! It's a French city and is VERY VERY expensive. Expect it to cost more than Australia! This city is home to the world's largest lagoon. It had some amazing waters. When you get off the boat you will enter the terminal and you will find many local market stalls, don't buy anything! It's expensive and you will find it cheaper in Vila. Here you will also find tour guides. Do not book the Noumea Experience Bus. It is rubbish! You go on a bus and get picked up where ever you want in Noumea but the overload the bus. They say a new bus comes every 20 minutes but when we went we had to wait over 50 minutes for the next one. We request a refund and just went on a small mini bus type thing and it was just as good. Lemon bay is a great place to visit. We had a look around and weren't really impressed. Local's aren't that nice and may just ignore you if you try speaking to them. But what do you expect their French. I got a fruit smoothie from a store it cost me $9 and it had the longest straw I have ever had, it was over 50cm long! Was amazing to me. You will see a lot of pretty girls here as well; my jaw was dropped almost the whole time. Don't bother going to the casino it's about the size of a living room and is just slot machines.The next place was some island, I did not go here, you had to catch a tender boat to get there and I was a bit lazy to go, I also woke up a bit too late to go anyway.Next was Vila! This was a fantastic place. It's so cheap for anything you want! Once you get off the ship you will be hit by a huge amount of heat. It's hot very very hot. Then local taxi drivers will call out to you from a hill trying to get you to go with them. You have two options a bus or a taxi. The taxi's aren't your usual taxi's they are small little cars. They can be anything you could get into a corolla or a swift. They cost you $10 to get into town for how many people you want in there. A bus is anywhere between $1.50 and $3 per person to go. They aren't your normal bus either they are just vans. I heard that normally they wait till they get full before they go. But we just left straight away so maybe it's not the case. We paid $3 each to get to town and when we came back $1.50 each. Also there are no seat belts and no driving laws so expect a fun ride! Spare underwear is recommended. Also before the taxi's there is a huge market, try not to spend too much time here because the same things are found in town and are probably cheaper. You can also get a tour of the island for around $80.When in town you can visit duty free stores and other random stores, there is a lot to see and do. Duty free is fantastic. I got 1.1 liters of Jim bean for $11! Cigarettes are cheap as well if you don't mind rolling your own you can get 250 grams for $21 otherwise a carton is $35 or so. You can also find pirated dvd movies for around $5 each, not really worth it but you may want to bring a few home. Give the kids selling newspapers a dollar or two it'll make them very happy. The people are extremely friendly it has been voted happiest place on earth quite a few times. It's a very nice place. You can find billabong shirts for $10 and bags for $17. Also there are many nice shoes around for $20-$40. You really may want to buy something while here. Also there are fireworks around. They are so hard to resist try to not think about how to smuggle them onboard! If you get lost just as for help and the people will help you! Also I recommend you try kava, a local drink which makes you "happy". When you are going back on board you pass through a metal detector and your things get x-rayed again not much attention on the x-ray is noticed here. All crew members were fantastic apart the casino waiters and bartenders. On the deck it was fantastic they asked if you wanted a drink and gave recommendations and then got it for you. They would also clean your table when things are finished. You felt you were respected and treated well by all members of the boat. Getting of the cruise was like getting on, you go through customs and what not it was easy and quick. They did not even check my carryon luggage at all; you could probably bring some extra bottles of alcohol if you put it in your carry on. No sniffer dogs again and was very quick to get offThe cruise was fantastic I would defiantly go again, however I would like to experience other cruise lines as well to compare them. So though I enjoyed it I will probably not be back for some time as I want to see other ships. It's also very cheap so it's a great escape; there is a lot of kids on board as well. I went the week after the school holidays and still there were many people of all age groups. I hope my review has helped you pick P&O cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was my first cruise but I really enjoyed it. I guess these things are what you make of them and my partner and I are very social people, so we chatted to most people and got to know as many people as possible. We also tried to do as ... Read More
This was my first cruise but I really enjoyed it. I guess these things are what you make of them and my partner and I are very social people, so we chatted to most people and got to know as many people as possible. We also tried to do as many of the activities as we could squeeze in so aways seemed to be running from one thing to the next. The staff were wonderful Cruise Director David Pepper was great, as were the entertainment staff - Pee-Wee, Anthony, Karen and the others. The shows were brilliant!! Girt by Sea was an Australiana show which I thought would be cheesy, but it was so well done. The main singers were Charlotte Fortune and Neil James. Both wonderful and nice people to talk to socially. My favourite would be the Mentalist show by Phoenix. I saw his first show and it was so good I saw the same show repeated again. His memory is amazing and the way he can read people's minds is mind blowing. Highly recommended. He also was social with the passengers and he did some close up tricks for my partner and I and I'm still baffled how he does them! Loree from LA was a pianist/singer playing every night. Also brilliant. Food wise, Salt was lovely ($40 surcharge) but absolutely loved La Luna ($20 surcharge). The duck was amazing! The buffet one was okay. Went there mostly because it was easy. Get ready to put on weight! The night club was fun too. My only criticism was they closed down whenever the crowd dies down. I believe they should still stay open until a set time if there are still people that want to party there. Had fun in the casino, but the bar would shut before the casino did so you had to run up to the nightclub to get drinks. Very bizarre. First port was actually Airlie Beach but it's not listed here. First time I've ever been there. We just relaxed near this big public pool near the beach. Perfect day. Beautiful But overall, excellent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
yes, This is not the QEII. it is a bit like going out to dinner at the local bistro at the pub or an RSL. yes it caters to a lower socio economic class. not that this is a bad thing, just be prepared. the price reflects this, it is ... Read More
yes, This is not the QEII. it is a bit like going out to dinner at the local bistro at the pub or an RSL. yes it caters to a lower socio economic class. not that this is a bad thing, just be prepared. the price reflects this, it is very good value for money. treat the experience as being on an overnight ferry to a destination rather than as a cruise per se. there are many things to do on board whilst you are en route. you will be able to do whatever you want and if this means sitting doing nothing then great, reading then great, eating, playing in the naff activities etc all good.funnily enough the casino was muuuuuch better than the casinos you get in australia i.e nowhere near as much kitsch and flashing lights etc. Ports of call. I loved noumea and port vila. mystery island is dull and not worth it. Pentecost island was ok but all a bit staged, the best was getting away from the crowds and wandering away for a bit. food is excellent for the price. the crowd expects quantity and they give that. sure it is not the top quality but you are at the floating equivalent of a pub bistro and you are paying a low price because of it. drinks. i cannot stand companies that impose restrictions on what you can consume/take on board/etc. it is a nannying way to do things. BUT having said that with the crowd on board it would have become extremely boozy and i reckon as aggressive as a drunk cricket crowd if there was bring your own alcohol. it wasnt too expensive i dont know where everyone buys their drinks perhaps at the rsl or leagues clubs but really, compared with melbourne city (and i suspect sydney as well) prices it was very reasonable. staff are all great. they are an international staff (canadian entertainment, romanian croupiers, indian bar staff, filipino wait staff and english and italian in charge of the ship) and the standards of service are higher than that you often get in australian pubs/bistros/casinos etc. Embarkation. p and o were fine despite the chaos at the dock. security in australia were ridiculous. asking people to go through metal detectors to get on an enormous ship is absurd. once you are through you find your own way which i thought was good. i do not want to be hassled forever by staff and this is something that p and o were good at - ie leaving you be. compare that with being on any aircraft with constant nagging by staff. summary - if you want a "cruise" in the sense of a romantic/high quality/olde world type experience, don't go on P&O. if you just want a cheap holiday without the hassle of getting on an aircraft etc, with plenty of food and things to do or not to do, then treat the ship as a ferry and enjoy yourself. that's what we all did and had a pretty good time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We enjoyed most of this cruise and the ship appointments. (we actually left from Brisbane but this option is not available on the drop down list)THINGS WE LOVED: The ship itself, The pools, the waiting and entertainment staff, the ... Read More
We enjoyed most of this cruise and the ship appointments. (we actually left from Brisbane but this option is not available on the drop down list)THINGS WE LOVED: The ship itself, The pools, the waiting and entertainment staff, the special night at SALTGRILL..well worth the extra $40, the trivia, the bingo, the restaurant meals (rarely ate in the buffet so no comment), Our lovely steward LEVIN, our suite (we upgraded to one of the full suite on Aloha deck from a mini suite on B deck after reading another review in this section below. It was well worth it just to get the Nescafe espresso machine. The review on this forum re the noisy deck above the mini suites actually turned out to be very valid as we saw a woman come up onto the deck screaming at the kids for scraping chairs on the roof at midnight so I think we made the best choice to upgrade and not take a mini suite at all. Some of our kids loved HQ, the kids club, the older ones avoided the 15-17 year old HQ plus. I believe the age for the older club should be 14-17 as our 14 year olds didn't want to hang around in a place full of really young children.Things we wondered about: Why we only got one knife and fork with our room service morning breakfasts which were clearly ordered for two people, Why there was no coke machine or vending machine available for our 16-18 year olds so they could get a drink late in the evening when everything was closed except the nightclub. Why the shore excursions cost so much more than we could organise ourselves. Why the photos were so expensive when a far better option in this day and age would be to have them browsable and printable from a photo kiosk rather than having to cover the cost of thousands of photos no one wanted to buy. I'd love a dollar for every printed one they had to shred at the end of the trip, it would have covered my bar bill! NOTE: Have all photos viewable from kiosks and available for a $20 print fee and you'd sell a lot more P&O ! Things we hated: one family member had a queasy stomach and a touch of gastro.. nothing more serious than he gets at home. He asked for a tablet at the medical centre and was quarantined for 24 hours, missing out on the best day of the cruise with his children. He was completely fine and had no problem for the rest of the cruise. I understand the need for a quarantine if he was nauseous, vomiting etc.(all the symptoms of norovirus) but a 24 hr quarantine when he was just after a precautionary tablet was a bit of an overreaction in this particular case. Stock up on your own tablets because a visit to the medical centre for any reason will cost you... ! The cameraman who set up his camera right in front of us on Comedy Night when a simple roof mounted camera would have provided not only a better shot of the comedian for those at the back who couldn't see him but also wouldn't have blocked the view for those of us who could ! TIPS: take your own lanyard or be prepared to pay $7 or so for a "souvenir" one. Buy a photo on day one to get your USB drive and wait until the last day to buy any others. Do your own sightseeing shore excursions if possible. We had a local driver take ten of us to the mele cascades in Vanuatu for the same price two people would have paid to see the same sight via a ship-booked shore excursion. If more than four of you definitely book a regular table in the Palm Court restaurant if you don't like buffet food. Book at least ONE meal in SALTGrill. We found Duty Free cigarettes and alcohol much cheaper in Vila than on the boat. Visit Hideaway island and the Mele Cascades when in Vila. In Lifou walk over the hill (walk up towards the church on the left hand side of the beach along the road and take the first turn to the right to Turtles Next.. so much better for snorkelling but remember to wear reef shoes or boot fins as its not an easy access to the water. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
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
The cruise was fantastic. We were in cabin A161, a mini-suite, on Aloha deck for a 12 night cruise on the Pacific Dawn. We departed from Brisbane and visited Isle of Pines, Suva, Port Denarau, Vila, and Pentecost Island. Cruise W011N. ... Read More
The cruise was fantastic. We were in cabin A161, a mini-suite, on Aloha deck for a 12 night cruise on the Pacific Dawn. We departed from Brisbane and visited Isle of Pines, Suva, Port Denarau, Vila, and Pentecost Island. Cruise W011N. The week leading into the the Pacific Islands were hit by a Cyclone. We were a bit worried about what may have happened to the Islands, mostly Suva, which was reportedly directly hit by the Cyclone. We were also worried about another Cyclone which was off the North East coast of Queensland. We were notified about 3 days before the cruise that there will be a delay of a couple of hours as the Pacific Dawn had to port at Fisherman's Wharf rather then in Port Brisbane (due to winds). We still had to meet at Port Brisbane and were bussed from there to Fisherman's Wharf. Checking in was easy. They took our bags, checked our passports, gave us our cruise cards and took us to a bus. We got on and everyone was in good spirits. We took the 20 minute bus trip to where the Pacific Dawn was waiting for us. We saw the ship when we got closer and a big cheer went up. We then passed through customs and had our photo taken by the staff and then again by security (linked to the cruise card). After that we were met on board by some staff and shown to our room. Our room stewardess was 'Marta'. She welcomed us with a glass of sparking wine and balloons and a 'just married' sign on the door. From our balcony we had a view of the side of a coal loader, however once we departed the view was fantastic. Shortly after our bags arrived and we unpacked before going to the top deck for the sail away. The horn is so loud. We had a few cocktails and dinner on deck before going to the show. The staff were: Captain: Neil Turnbull. Very funny man. Cruise Director: Zoltina-J. Good value, go with the flow and you will be fine. We set sail about 6:00pm and spent the next two days at sea. They were fantastic with good shows and entertainment. On the first night and some of the next day we had 4 meter swells. We were told they were considered fairly big, however as it was our first cruise we knew now different. The chairs being moved around on the deck above ours were a bit noise. This stopped about 11:00pm and stated about 8:00pm. I think it was the staff packing the chairs up and unpacking them. Our first port was Isle of Pines. This place is a postcard. Soft sand, clear water, heaps of fish. We snorkeled, swam, and sun-baked. I would go back at the drop of a hat. We had to be tendered to and from the Isle. This was only a 5 minute trip. It was a hot day and no one wanted to leave the Isle. The line got long for the tenders back to the ship near the end of the day and one girl about 12 years fainted. The staff made sure she drank water and got her onto the next tender (jumped the queue). I though people would have winged about her and her family going first, but no one did. The seas remained calm for the rest of the cruise mostly 1-1.5 metres (last day of the cruse was about 2 meters). The next port was Suva. There was no damage what so ever from the cyclone as it hit the other side of the Island. We did a tour of a village in the morning and this was fun and interesting. The bus trip was a bit of a white knuckle ride. The don't seem to bother with stopping at red traffic lights and seem to enjoy cutting cars off and beeping the horn. The town of suva is horrible. Do not waist your time and go to the CBD. It stinks, there are aggressive beggers and con artist. Things are over prised and there are alot of poverty. The best part of Suva City is the back of it. If I ever went to Suva again I would book an all day tour. Everyone was back on board and we were delayed by 2 hours from departing due to a problem with a propeller shaft. Ended up being a blown fuse in the electrics but they had to go through the whole checklist to make sure it was safe. The following port was Port Denarau. This was another tender boat port and it took about 20 minutes from ship to shore. Port Denarau is home to about 5 popular resorts. We looked around the main part of the town. The town was great that the locals were alot friendly then in Suva. The town is alot smaller and is targeted towards tourism. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe and got a 'starter' of nacho's. They were the size of a pizza and enough to feed the two of us. They would be about $12 Aust. The local beer (Fiji Gold) was about $2.70 a schooner and sent down well. A can of beer on the ship was about $5.75. The other drinks on the ship were about $9-$11 for a cocktail. They were all nice to try. The next port was Vila. This is a nice place, a good place to get souvenirs for the family and is where to get the Duty Free shopping (alcohol and perfume). We did an underwater walk in the morning which was great. Good photos with our underwater camera. The only thing wrong with this place is that every second car/van stops and asks if you need a lift back to the ship (Who would have though an aussie complaining about too many taxi's). The final port was Pentecost Island. This is home to the N'gol, where the boys/men jump from a wooden tower with vines strapped to the ankles. (like bungee jumping but they hit the ground). To watch this is something else. It was amazing. It isn't something you need to see twice in your life but is one thing I can cross off the list of things I wanted to see. Again it was amazing. The entertainment was amazing. The adult comedy in the dome was great and the guest performers were good. Jackie Love (a bit boring) and Ugly Dave Gray were the guest performers. Ugly Dave still has it, but no cigar. Funny man. My wife did the boot camp and said it was great. We then had two more days at sea and were back in Brisbane. We arrived a couple of hours late due to head winds. We were able to dock at Port Brisbane. Disembarkation was easy for us as we were in the VIP section (seats, tea, coffee, food) Other's not in suites were complaining that they had nowhere to sit why they were waiting to get off the ship. They would then get cranky as they could see us sitting down enjoying a cuppa, but hey we did pay twice as much as them. During the whole cruise we only met one woman who wasn't happy. I think it was more her then them. Her comments included "Why would you be on such a high deck, it moves too much. Queensland is superior over NSW. I can't believe there is Strawberry Ice cream in the baked Alaska, they should tell us that. The Captain is so-so. and The cruise is way too long." At the Virtual Bridge Tour she said the air con was too cold and reminded the poor presenter that the international standard is 24 degrees. Another time a different couple were watching a show and the lady had to go to the loo, she left her camera on the seat so people knew it was being used. Mrs fussy had to go and asked the husband if it was empty. She then had a go at him for saving the seat and made a complaint about it. Overall the cruise was fantastic, Everyone seemed to have a ball. One man who we got to know won the bingo jackpot and got over $13,000. He was a really nice guy and deserved it. There are too many pro's to mention. The cons are: 1) the chairs being moved were a bit noisy. 2) our fridge and hairdryer stopped working (most likely a fuse) we rang up twice but they weren't fixed. 3) They enforced the dress regulations in the restaurant but not in the rest of the ship. I feel they should be strict about this. I would go on another cruise on Pacific Dawn, however would choose a balcony cabin on B deck rather then a mini-suite on A deck. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
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