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19 P&O Australia First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

Fantastic fun filled girls weekend away..... Thank you Pacific Eden you put on a great Adelaide comedy 3 night cruise. Gosh, where to start, embarking couldn't of been any easier our luggage was taken before we boarded the ship then ... Read More
Fantastic fun filled girls weekend away..... Thank you Pacific Eden you put on a great Adelaide comedy 3 night cruise. Gosh, where to start, embarking couldn't of been any easier our luggage was taken before we boarded the ship then delivered to our rooms. We were upgraded to an ocean view rooms (big thumbs up). Rooms were spotless and smelt clean. Between the 5 of us we were given $125 in credit and 2 soft drink packages straight off the bat that was a great start to the weekend. So the drinking began in the Ocean bar where we met some great friendly staff that looked after us throughout the trip and even appreciated our sense of humour. So a massive thank you to Lanoan and Marie Joy in the Ocean bar and Margaret in the Mix @ Casino bar These guys made our girls weekend the best yet. The entertainment was some of the funniest comedians I have seen in a long time. Two in particular was Jarred Fell and Mr Bingo!. Jarred, Thankyou I haven't had a good belly hurting laugh like that in a while fantastic! Mr Bingo, I have never been a fan of bingo but if every bingo could have their very own Mr Bingo I would go to them all! Oh yes and we won the jackpot so yay for bingo!!!! The food was great we mainly ate at the Pantry so much to choose from and all was very tasty and such friendly and helpful staff. The Passenger Stewards on deck 4 were hard working, friendly and so helpful. So I would recommend to anyone thinking about a weekend away jump on board the Pacific Eden great value, great food, friendly helpful and entertaining staff you would love it as the 5 of us did. We will be back!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My wife and me (late 40's early 50's) just returned from our first cruise just a 4 night cruise from Sydney to Tangalooma island and return,we had our 2 adult children and their partner's for a total of 6 of us in 3 sea view ... Read More
My wife and me (late 40's early 50's) just returned from our first cruise just a 4 night cruise from Sydney to Tangalooma island and return,we had our 2 adult children and their partner's for a total of 6 of us in 3 sea view rooms on P and O's pacific Jewell which i believe was partially refurbished in early 2015. After paying our deposit i started to do a bit of research and found a lot of negative reviews especially regarding the food so i was not expecting to much but i was pleasantly surprised. Boarding the Pacific jewell was a breeze because it was not leaving Australia their was no customs hassles,they still x-rayed our carry on and put us thru the metal detectors but from the time of arrival at the White Bay cruise terminal ($ 75.00 for a maxi taxi from central train station for 6 of us) to the time we were in our rooms would have been 30 minutes max,15 minutes later we were having lunch in the Pantry with a selection of Australian food roast beef and vegies today,Fish and chips,Chinese,Indian curries,fruit,and of course dessert. their were 6 different counters arranged in a semi circle and you joined the que at whichever counter you wanted, picked out what you wanted and they dished it up on a plate for you, you could go to as many different serverys as you wanted even eat dessert first.Their was also a pizza bar $9.00 and a burger bar not sure of the Price.. The quality of the food ranged from so-so to quite good, if you got something that you did not like you just left in on the table for the friendly staff to pick up and went and tried something else,because the pantry is open from 0630 to about 9.30am for breakfast and 11.30 to 2.30 for lunch and 5.30 to 8.30 the ques are not to long maybe 4 or 5 mins. Breakfast was really good,coffee,tea,fruit juice, scrambled eggs.omlette,poached eggs,fried eggs bacon pancakes,pastries,fruit etc etc. After lunch we went for a wander (it takes a few days to work out where everything is) and had a few drinks before we gathered for our safety briefing.The alcohol prices were not to high $6.00 for a stubby of midstrength,Carlton Dry $6.95, Caronas about $7.50 i think,their were a variety of other beers spirits about $10.00 a shot and lots of cocktails ranging from about $12 to $16 ther was one bar we found the Orient which had a few craft beers and ciders on tap but unfortunately they were served in plastic schooner "glasses". when we booked our cruise we recieved a bonus of free soft drinks so not sure of the price of soft drink..their was also the Waterfront restaurant which was free as was the pantry we tried that one night while the food was good it took a long time to be served so we did not go their again,the other 2 options were the Lunar Asian Restaurant $29.00 0r the Saltwater grill $59.00 we did not try either of these.if you went on a 7 night or longer the pantry might get a little repetetive. The cabins were roomy enough with a king sized comfy bed a TV plenty of cupboard and hanging space,a desk, while you could only fit one person at a time in the bathroom it was not to small the shower was also a good size. The day at Tangalooma resort was the highlight of the trip for us a beautifull sunny day we hired a few kyaks for $25 for 90 mins swam at the beautifull beach ate prawns had a few beers before us boys went on our Quad bike tour which was a bit slow for us but still ok,the girls went and fed the Dolphins which they said was unorganized and not as good as they had expected. We only went to one show which was a magic show and was ok.Visited the Casino a few times Roulette, poker,Black Jack,and pokies. Chilled on the back deck read a book.Ate to much.. The disembarkation was quick and hassle free as well. Summary;; we all had a great time you can do as much as you want theirs lots of organised activities or just chill around the pool or one of the deck bars, we found 4 nights good 6 or 7 would be great any longer i think i would get a bit board, we had great weather sunny and calm seas which also helped..I would go again and probably will.. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
First time cruisers, mid twenties. Slightly apprehensive after reading the reviews but we thought - we will make our own fun if all else fails. Essentially we wanted some drinks and sun - all in all we weren't disappointed. After ... Read More
First time cruisers, mid twenties. Slightly apprehensive after reading the reviews but we thought - we will make our own fun if all else fails. Essentially we wanted some drinks and sun - all in all we weren't disappointed. After seeing some of the deplorable behaviour from fellow passengers, I can see how some of these reviews came to be. If you're expecting a 5 star cruise, book a 5 star cruise. If you act like an entitled jerk, the staff won't be all too receptive to that. I saw a grown couple throw a tantrum and sit down in the middle of a corridor because they had arrived at the wrong time for their tender and an older woman argue with bar staff over the strength of her cocktail. We encountered nothing but helpful, friendly staff, our room attendant was exceptionally lovely and worked around our comings and goings. Say hello and thank you, your experience will be all the better for it. We were a little sea sick the first two days but grabbed a couple of DVDs from our attendant and some snacks from the Pantry, which is your standard food court fare - never had to wait more than a couple seconds to be served - and headed back to our room. A rocky ship can't really be helped! Days on the islands were amazing, everything went smoothly - we did our own thing and had a blast. Angelos and Dragon Lady were great for what they were, a cruise ship restaurant masquerading as some form of fine dining, however the service was lovely in both and food was above average - the Wasabi Creme Brulee was exceptional. Enjoyed them. Went to Waterfront for breakfast most mornings, never had to wait for a table, here the waiters appeared to be a little flustered for a simple breakfast service but it honestly didn't bother us, the food was nice and the coffee was hot. Being in the 20 - 30 yr old age range there really wasn't anything on the activity front that attracted us, however we were planning on not doing much more than relaxing with a drink in the Oasis which was amazing when the weather permitted. The Main Pool was always loud and slightly feral (like an indoor aquatic centre) however all children seemed to be having a blast. At night we spent most of our time in the Blue Room, thoroughly enjoyed the bands and table service. Bar staff here were lovely and remembered how we liked our drinks made! Rooms were in the standard of a 3 star hotel room - loved our balcony. No issues with the bathroom or toilet, the room itself was very loud and creaky, probably the biggest issue we had with the cruise. Embarking/Disembarking were smooth and fast. Keep your attitude and expectations in check and you will have a great time! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I have just returned after 13 nights on the pacific Aria traveling to PNG. Had an excellent time! From reading previous reviews I wasn't sure what to expect but as a first time cruiser my expectations were met. Don't let all the ... Read More
I have just returned after 13 nights on the pacific Aria traveling to PNG. Had an excellent time! From reading previous reviews I wasn't sure what to expect but as a first time cruiser my expectations were met. Don't let all the elderly whingers reviews get you down! A great time was had. Pros -Lots of friendly helpful crew on board! -Good facilities, thoroughly enjoyed the pools, casino, marquee, gym and multiple bars. -Food was great especially considering the volume of passengers. The pantry had a good variety of meals to suit all pallets! The restaurants were great for the most part, obviously some meals were better than others. -Oceanview room had more than enough room for a 2 week stay, nice hot showers too! Cons -Internet was average at best, connection was extremely poor in our room but okay at other parts of the ship, for $99 I expected better. -whilst the crew did their best, 100's of people were stuck for an hour or two directly in the hot sun in Wewak whilst waiting for a tender. P&O should certainly make plans for more shade in the future. Overall I'm very happy and would highly recommend the Pacific Aria, thanks for a great trip! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
A total cost of $412 for 3 adults and unlimited food in Pantry and Waterfront for a 2-night cruise Sdy-Mel in a inside cabin. It is definitely value for money. We did not spend any other money during the cruise. We came back Mel-Syd via ... Read More
A total cost of $412 for 3 adults and unlimited food in Pantry and Waterfront for a 2-night cruise Sdy-Mel in a inside cabin. It is definitely value for money. We did not spend any other money during the cruise. We came back Mel-Syd via jetstar costing us $195 for 3 tickets at off-peak hour. Read a lot of negative comments before department and some of them were true but over exaggerated. It is true that food from Pantry and Waterfront sometime average sometime good! Try to avoid peak hour then you can enjoy more. I prefer Waterfront as we are being served 3 meal course but you can also order extra. WaterFront is more relax as only the waiters walking around to serve the customers. Pantry is a lot more crowded and a lot of customers walking around to get food from different counter and the cleaners keep clean up the tables so that the table always clean and ready for next customers... Ice water, tea and coffee is free whole day in the Pantry. Juice is free during breakfast. Breakfast is hot if you get the one they just cooked and transferred to the serving counter. Sometime I ask for freshly made toast when they are not busy. Pantry is a lot busier for Breakfast and Lunch and a lot quieter during dinner as some people willing to pay for extra to try out other restaurant. Tips - eat every meal in Waterfront; if not full or satisfied then head to pantry to top up. Waterfront has ice-cream for desert as well and they taste above average. Cabin is clean and spacious with 2 single beds and one softbed. No fridge - which is mentioned in the booking but not a lot of people aware of it. Except housekeeping was done in the evening for our room as the staff were overloaded! Other common area - it looks good and still feel very new. Pool is crowded on a hot day as the pool is a very small one - definitely not for lap swim! Just keep in mind : this is 3-star (particularly with the cost I paid) and do not overexpect too much.... Work out the food cost if you buy it separately in a normal food court or the RSL type restaurant - then you know you are being served fairly during the cruise! Remember to enjoy the break and do not compare too much! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Seriously it was not that bad. It is a small ship like a boutique hotel only this hotel floats. The staff from the Stewards to the waiters and entertainers were so friendly and very accommodating. We had a few minor issues which were ... Read More
Seriously it was not that bad. It is a small ship like a boutique hotel only this hotel floats. The staff from the Stewards to the waiters and entertainers were so friendly and very accommodating. We had a few minor issues which were immediately resolved. Just some advice, BYO lanyards for your cruise cards. One card per person, these cards are keys to your cabin and all your expenditure. Using their money kiosk machines you can top up your balance and get your statement anytime of the day or night. The ship may give you some credit towards your card when you first a arrive so don't put all your money in. If you have food allergies please see the maitre de as soon as possible, the menu will be changed to suit your needs. We were not able to use our region 4 dvd but the ship has there own dvd library. There are no library books available so pack up your e-reader. BYO tennis balls, racquets are available just not top of the range. BYO basket ball too !!. Eden has a laundry, it will cost $3 for washing and $3 for the dryer. The iron is in the laundromat, no ironing in your cabin. Bathrobes cost so bring your own. The food in the Pantry and Waterfront was great, eat as little or as much as you want . We enjoyed the variety of foods and sweets and did not need to explore the other restaurants.(Yes were are foodies and are involved in food blogs). BYO snacks such as biscuits. There are no tea or coffee making facilities in your cabin , just head up to the pantry and bring down a cuppa to your room. You will receive a program of daily activities in the morning, take a photo of the program , it is one less thing to carry around on the ship. The only issue we had was communication. Tell us over the intercom if an activity is cancelled, have a seminar on how you run a ship, explain the different types of uniforms we see. For first time cruisers we received a lot of our information from other passengers. Overall we enjoyed our first cruise !!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Like other cruise critic folk I read many reviews prior to my cruise. 95% were negative, thus I had reservations going in.... First thing I'll say to all those 'haters' is you get what you pay for! Don't expect to ... Read More
Like other cruise critic folk I read many reviews prior to my cruise. 95% were negative, thus I had reservations going in.... First thing I'll say to all those 'haters' is you get what you pay for! Don't expect to pay a total of around $1k for a 12 night cruise with all you're accomodation and food provided and expect 5 star everything. If you want that go to a high end resort - pay the standard $1k per NIGHT (not including food!) and you'll get you're 5 star experience. P & O clearly states they are a 3 to 3.5 star cruise. Boarding the ship was seamless in consideration of the volume of people. As we stayed in a suite - yes I paid the extra! I will agree that our 'priority' checkin didn't seem to count for much but we were there early anyway so found ourselves on board approx 1.5hrs after arriving at the Brisbane wharf. All good here. Our room was fantastic (again - what you pay for), it was clean, spacious, had plentiful storage, comfortable king bed, nice balcony, etc. paying the extra we also received many extras. Refer to their website for the long list. The less you pay the greater the likelihood of not as good of an experience. Such is life. Our room attendants were 1st class and did a fantastic job under adverse conditions. I work with people who put in less than half the hours you guys do each week and they are constantly tired, whingy, and generally depressing to be around. You were both like a breath of fresh air. Thank you! Again, I disagree with the negative food reviews on board. Starting with The pantry - the variety is more than sufficient. Does it really hurt you to have to maybe consume the same thing twice during a cruise?? The quantity - if they don't give you enough the first time go back for more. It's all you can eat! Also the quality is not as atrocious as what people make out. It's average and what you would expect for the layout. Waterfront - didn't go much as we were happy with the pantry but always had good food and friendly service. Dragon lady - didn't try it. The grill - when you're craving a pizza or burger it was always great. Salt grill - incredible experience all around. Can't fault the food, service and nice quiet ambience. No it's not expensive as some people have stated!! For a 3 course meal like that you'll be paying 3 times as much at other fine dining restaurants around Oz. There were always many spare tables too because people didn't seem to want to pay/get dressed up a bit. Also for those that said they were somehow still hungry after a marquee performance - room service is available 24/7. Pay the measley fee and eat that in the comfort of you're own room....without pants!! Public areas are all very modern and inviting. Love how there are little 'escapes' for couples. Shopping options good, entertainment a plenty. Don't understand how people can be bored or have nothing to do!! They have thought of everyone from a 1 yr old to an 80 yr old. At the end of the day I went on the cruise to see Vanuatu and Fiji - the ship came second in order of priority but you can't complain of the numerous things to do onboard...it's what you make of it. Sure beats sitting in a plane or car. All staff very friendly, welcoming and generally nice. Considering the time they spend working away from home and family averaging 12 hr days, it's truly incredible. Issues I had were sleep! I'm a fairly light sleeper so I was always sleep deprived. Kids running around on the decks till all hrs of the night was the main reason. I don't think this is P&O's fault more just bad/lazy parenting. People slamming cabin doors....again not P&O's fault just selfish people not thinking of others. Spa prices were too high! Massage and facial for my wife and I cost over $600. It's a shame because I would of loved to get more done but the costs of all treatments I just couldn't justify. A few rude tourists whinging about small things also annoyed me. Be grateful you are able to have this cruise experience where many around the world are not. Lastly, I found the ship quite rocky even on calmer days. Just a heads up if you struggle with sea sickness!!! Otherwise all good!! Fantastic experience both on and off the ship, I feel blessed to be able to have done it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Overall we very much enjoyed out trip. Have not done much previous cruising so not comparing, as many others seem to be doing. We were very well looked after with embarkation/disembarkation with wheelchair assistance. Cabin was very neat ... Read More
Overall we very much enjoyed out trip. Have not done much previous cruising so not comparing, as many others seem to be doing. We were very well looked after with embarkation/disembarkation with wheelchair assistance. Cabin was very neat and tidy and the cabin stewards we had were very very good. The Pantry provided everything we could have wanted, and though its the same basic theme every day, the actual offering in each place changes so its actually not the same day in day out. The food there was very good, and the staff always willing to try and help as much as possible. We did have some weather issues and the itinerary for Cooktown was changed, but for us that made no difference as we were not planning to take the tender in anyway - and P&O can't control the weather. Probably the only disappointment was the Waterfront rest. on the Christmas Day dinner. It did seem a bit disorganised, and we would have liked a glass of wine with our dinner but there didn't seem to be any drinks staff around at all. Apart from that though it was a great trip. I think it really is what you make of it - we were just happy to be travelling, relaxing, and being looked after with no cooking to be done etc. I did hear some complaining it was not as good as other cruises they had done. There were still some teething issues going on, but nothing in life is perfect. We certainly did not have any issues as others seem to have had with their cabin, we were very impressed with the staff and we loved the Pantry. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first cruise and we couldn't have been happier. The ship did show age in some areas, but this didn't mean our experience was affected. The Pantry offered food of club food standard which was fine when chasing a ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we couldn't have been happier. The ship did show age in some areas, but this didn't mean our experience was affected. The Pantry offered food of club food standard which was fine when chasing a quick meal. The Waterfront, Angelo's and Blue Dragon offered great quality food for breakfast, lunch and dinner with good service levels. P & O edge was a disappointment, not what was indicated by promotional material or what was initially advised. Crew really put in a great effort at all times to give us an experience of a lifetime, and trying to get into the Christmas spirit. At times you could tell they were still trying to learn, particularly around thier seamanship when tendering. All in all though we had a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was my first cruise so I dont really have a benchmark. However, I set out not expecting much as I was told that P&O is at the lower end of cruise lines. We totally enjoyed our cruise and the faults I will mention were really quite ... Read More
This was my first cruise so I dont really have a benchmark. However, I set out not expecting much as I was told that P&O is at the lower end of cruise lines. We totally enjoyed our cruise and the faults I will mention were really quite minor. Cabin Balcony cabin was quite roomy and very clean. Balcony is small but functional. Bathroom was clean and everthing worked. Better than I expected. Bars All good and the prices for drinks were reasonable. Some bars charged more than others and I didnt quite get that. Entertainment Theatre is smallish but didnt see anyone having to stand. Seats a bit uncomfortable. Shows were good - Bev Killock was awesome. A few more movies would have been nice. Pool area Probably the bogan and kid hangout of the boat. Not a major problem but turned us off using the pool a bit. Food Pantry was OK if you got the food when it first came out. Bit of a zoo at breakfast. Waterfront restaurant food was average and didnt bother again after the first night. Room service was cheap but food was cold. Salt, the Luke Mangan, was over rated and not worth the surcharge ($49pp). The high tea, however, is a must at $20pp. Luna was an unexpected jewel. The food was awesome and rivalled the best city restaurants. At $29pp I wouldve gone again if we had time. Overall You get cheap rooms but pay for a lot of extras. Ship is not too bad for its age and I didnt notice much roll with the waves. Odd tip! Im very tall and except for the corridors had few problems with ceilings. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My family and i sailed on the second cruise for the Eden, and i was pretty worried after reading very negative reviews from the previous cruisers. I don't know what ship they were on because I was pleasantly surprised and the ship was ... Read More
My family and i sailed on the second cruise for the Eden, and i was pretty worried after reading very negative reviews from the previous cruisers. I don't know what ship they were on because I was pleasantly surprised and the ship was fine. Good even!! The ship was clean, including public spaces and bathrooms. Of course if you inspect anything closely enough you'll find something wrong, but there were always people around cleaning up. The food was better than i expected. The pantry does have a decent selection, despite what other reviewers have said. I think the trick is to try different things, instead of going to the same counter every night. I never ate the same thing more than once. Salt grill was great, easily the best food on the ship. I found the staff to be 99% fantastic and helpful. Most were extremely friendly and i did not think they were lacking in training. Someone mentioned a lack of drinks lists and receipts - I saw both. There was norovirus and this was unfortunate but is a fact of life. I thought it was dealt with well by staff who stepped up disinfecting efforts and closed the pools. All in all a good holiday! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We found that it was relaxing. The food in the Pantry, as others have said, lacked variety. What was there was good, but needs to be changed. There also should be some simple food for lunch (proper sandwiches, made to order). Cabin ... Read More
We found that it was relaxing. The food in the Pantry, as others have said, lacked variety. What was there was good, but needs to be changed. There also should be some simple food for lunch (proper sandwiches, made to order). Cabin staff were excellent and everyone else we dealt with were mostly friendly. Some of the areas they did seem bored. Overall we enjoyed the shows and entertainment and would go again. We travelled by car to port. Embarkation and disembarkation was as good as can be when dealing with Port Authorities. We arranged our own shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise on Pacific Jewel for 7 nights. Before leaving for the cruise I had heard negative comments about P & O cruises, but we were pleasantly surprised. The check-in staff at the ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise on Pacific Jewel for 7 nights. Before leaving for the cruise I had heard negative comments about P & O cruises, but we were pleasantly surprised. The check-in staff at the cruise terminal were both friendly and helpful. We were impressed with our oceanview room and the friendly staff. Our only complaints were that we would like to see more areas restricted to smoking. In an ideal world, smoking on ships would be banned totally. Smoking should be restricted to one deck.We would've liked to have walked on the open decks to experience the sea breeze, but were confronted by dreadful smoke fumes which ruined the experience. Thank you Pacific Jewel for a wonderful cruise. It has given my husband and I further incentive to go on another cruise in the future. Julie and Peter - August 2015. We enjoyed the entertainment on board, the comperes Marios and his friend were fantastic, Bobbi was lovely. The musicians and singers were also good. We participated in the trivia, tai chi, cruise info seminar and I also danced in the "white evening". While I was extremely happy with the service onboard I did not like being asked "Want a drink? by one of the female Philippino drinks waiter - this is not a professional way to ask someone if they would like a drink. A couple of the male Philippino male drink waiters could have have appeared happier - one did not smile at all. These are only minor issues. Kojak (who I believed was called Brian) in the Waterfront Restaurant was fantastic as were all the staff in this restaurant. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Just arrived back today Sunday 12th July!!! This was my first time on a cruise and I wasn't disappointed. There was 9 females ranging from approx. 40 - 80 years of age celebrating my girlfriends 50th birthday. We had a hoot!!! As with ... Read More
Just arrived back today Sunday 12th July!!! This was my first time on a cruise and I wasn't disappointed. There was 9 females ranging from approx. 40 - 80 years of age celebrating my girlfriends 50th birthday. We had a hoot!!! As with any holiday there is always good and bad but any problem we had was rectified as soon as it was reported. The food was lovely, we eat breakfasts and lunches at the Plantation restaurant and yes it could be a little repetitive but it was very nice especially the sweetie section and I wish I had caught his name but the gentleman behind the counter was so helpful and lovely even brought a vanilla slice to my table when they had run out. If you do have something you don't like don't complain just put it to one side and go and get something else it is as simple as that. If you do want to let them know that something is not up to standard let them know in a constructive way and I am sure it will be rectified straight away. My suggestion though would be to attend a little bit out of the normal 7am and 12 midday as it can get very crowded but we did not have to wait to long and it was a nice way to have a chat to other passengers who were waiting in line. We had dinner at the Waterfront most nights and the table service was amazing and the food was lovely and restaurant is in a pretty setting. They made my friends 50th birthday so special and I had pre ordered a birthday cake which was both yummy and beautiful to look at. We joined in on the available activities which were offered and I would highly recommend the martini making classes, lots of fun and not to mention you got to drink 4 beautiful cocktails. We visited Noumea, Mare and Port Vila. Unfortunately, the weather was not kind to us, but this is something there is not control over and you just have to grin and wear it and not allow it to spoil your holiday, as the beautiful south pacific waters are so warm it doesn't matter if it is slightly overcast and drizzling. Had a great snorkel on Mare Island, took the little tut tut train around Noumea. The tour guides voice was a little annoying but as we were only there for a short time it was the best on offer to see the island, especially considering the weather. We hired a driver called Makenzie on Port Vila for the day who drove a pink van and he went out of his way to ensure we made the most of our time on the island. I would highly recommend Mackenzie if you can find him in his pink van he was so lovely and helpful. When you get off the boat all the drivers will be waiting either up to your right or at the gate. If you see a pink van or when you get to the gate just ask for Mackenzie. We visited the cascade falls and climbed to the top absolutely breathtaking and went to Hideaway Island and snorkelled and sent a postcard in the underwater letter box which is not as easy as it sounds...but we all finally got it in the box!!! For those of us not up to the walks or snorkeling he took them to other sites on the island such as the coffee plantation and then came back an picked us up. He also managed to find a tatootist as one of my friends gets a small tattoo in every country she visits!!! Such a beautiful accomodating man. I was pleasantly surprised at the prices of drinks on board and sipped many a cocktail which were delightful. Like I said sometimes you have good and bad on a holiday and if anyone tries to put you in room 8109 head for the hills!!! This room is directly above the Connections Bar where a lot of the entertainment occurs and it is very very loud( might be good for younger people who would be down there anyway) the room is much larger then normal cabin so that is a huge plus but it is very hard to sleep until after 1am also very hard to catch up the next day to have an afternoon nap as the entertainment starts at midday and the whole room vibrates BUT as soon as we reported it to the lovely girls on reception we were soon contacted by the lovely night manager Emile could not do enough for us. Moved us into a very quiet room on deck 5, we also received a complimentary bottle of wine and he checked in with us to ensure everything was ok. Another incident which happened in the dreaded room 8109 was our bathroom flooded and my friend clothes all got damp. Emile immediately organised a laundry service. Thank you Emile you made a wonderful trip even more wonderful with your fantastic customer service and I wish you well in your future career. June was providing our cabin service in 8109 and that was the only sad part about leaving this room. June was lovely and cleaned the rooms twice a day and nothing was too much trouble and always done with a beautiful smile. I unfortunately got very unwell for a couple of days and had to go to the medical centre. I cannot fault the medical centre, the staff there were amazing and the treatment I received was top notch. They must be the most friendly, best looking bunch of doctors and nurses I have ever seen and so friendly. Enjoyed my Pandora story with the lovely nurs Anna and had quite a giggle with her despite feeling unwell. As a result of getting unwell on board, just a reminder to anyone who is travelling, always purchase travel insurance as overseas medical treatment costs a pretty penny but when you are unwell you really do not want to wait to get treated. Highlights far outweighed what little lowlights there were and I would like to thank all the staff and crew for making my first cruising experience a very pleasurable one. Next time and there certainly will be a next time, lets just hope the weather turns it on for us as well. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our first cruise was a little unsure what to expect, but from the moment we arrived at the Terminal were treated exceptionally well. Upon arriving at our oceanview cabin a room steward appeared and happily brought our luggage into ... Read More
This was our first cruise was a little unsure what to expect, but from the moment we arrived at the Terminal were treated exceptionally well. Upon arriving at our oceanview cabin a room steward appeared and happily brought our luggage into the cabin and explained everything about the cabin and ship. We found the staff and crew on board were the friendliest people on earth, always smiling and acknowledging you by name, especially the cabin stewards making little towel animals for the bed. The meals in Plantations and the Waterfront were fantastic with plenty to choose from, ooooohh the pastries and deserts were incredible, the only negative was the coffee stations would break down quite abit. The entertainment was brilliant with plenty of choice between stage shows to just chilling on the pool deck watching a movie. The tours available were fantastic with a good selection to choose from, Komodo Island tour including Pink Beach was my highlight, it is a bucket list item ticked also the Elephant Safari was brilliant. The ship was starting to show signs of wear but was going to dry dock in may, but was still very comfortable, my only concern on the Cruise was that our Air Conditioning in the Cabin broke down only 3 days into our cruise. I would recommend this company, boat and crew to anyone wanting a relaxing holiday. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We recently undertook a 9 night P & O cruise departing from Brisbane visiting the Island of Lifou, Port Vila, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines. Here is my honest assessment of the experience and tips for future travellers. Firstly ... Read More
We recently undertook a 9 night P & O cruise departing from Brisbane visiting the Island of Lifou, Port Vila, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines. Here is my honest assessment of the experience and tips for future travellers. Firstly the answer to two basic questions: Did I enjoy the cruising experience enough to do it again – Yes! Would I cruise with P&O again – No! The Good 1. Great value for money 2. Check-in and boarding and then embarking and dis-embarking at ports and at islands was extremely efficient 3. Cabin layout and size exceeded expectations 4. Cabin staff and wait staff in the restaurants were exceptional. Friendly and attentive. 5. Waterfront Restaurant experience exceeded expectations 6. Drinks prices including tea and coffee were equivalent to on-shore Australian bar and restaurant prices. 7. The on board entertainers in the many bars and the evening feature shows were excellent. 8. Snorkelling at Mystery Island and the Isle of Pines 9. Port Vila – ‘third world’ but very interesting The Bad 1.The on-board temperature was very variable in different areas of the ship. The restaurants and the ‘Dome’ were simply too cold 2.Some of the daytime activities were a bit lame and the seminars relating to heat land beauty were basically infomercials (hence the poor attendance) 3.Some of the staff conducting daytime activities were condescending 4.The Waterfront restaurant is the classier of the two ‘included’ eateries but sometimes the food was just warm and occasionally cool 5.The Plantations Buffet – It’s a buffet for the masses although suitable for breakfast 6.The prices for treatments at day spa not realistic having regard to demographic on board. Prices were pitched at middle to high income earners. The cruise attracts many lower income earners. 7.The milk added versions of the free tea and coffee available form a number of machines is simply dreadful. It tastes like powdered milk is used. When water and milk is added to tea it was a frothy mess which we nicknamed ‘cuppateano’. 8.The gym was too small and a couple of pieces of equipment were out of order for the whole cruse. 9.Dumb passengers who have little regard for coral reefs 10.All smokers (allowed on the main deck but still annoying 11.Sparkles’ - one of the on-board entertainment staff. Groan!! 12.The wages paid to board staff. But that’s why it’s so affordable. My Tips Pre Cruise Tip 1 - If arriving from interstate, the Admiralty Airport Motel on Nudgee Rd Hamilton is a good pre-cruise accommodation option. It's a 15 minute, $30 cab ride from the airport and an easy flat 10 minute walk to the Portside Wharf where the ship leaves from. While there are others a lot closer on Kingsford Smith Drive, it's a major road and is extremely busy and noisy. The motel was very comfortable and clean. There is no on-site restaurant but fish and chips are about 200 metres away and the Portside Wharf and Racecourse Rd precincts are within easy walking distance. Tip 2 - Buy a lanyard for your cruise card (your on board money).They are available on-board but at a premium. Tip 3 - You can take bottled water and soft drinks on board so don't be surprised when you see passengers checking-in and boarding with slabs of either or both. Soft drinks and water are about $3 each on the ship. Tip 4 - Arrive early for hassle free check-in and boarding. Boarding is done in numbered groups based on time of check-in. If you check-in early you'll have time for your last decent coffee at the Portside precinct and also time to pick up any last minute supplies at the IGA supermarket. On board Tip 5 - Assuming you check-in early, use the first hour on board to get familiar with the ship. Tip 6 - Lunch is served on board on the first day but there is a mandatory safety presentation half an hour before departure (i.e. so 1.30 pm for 2 pm departure) so factor that in. Tip 7 - Keep a daily eye on your spending by swiping your cruise card at the computer terminals at main information desk and reviewing your transactions. Tip 8 - Unless you are impressed by lots of food on display, love loading up your plate with a mountain of food that you probably won't get through, want to bum around in shorts and thongs all day long or have kids who can't sit still, then dinner in the Waterfront restaurant is the best option. It offers table service and 3 courses - all part of your cruise fare. It's also open for breakfast and a 3 course lunch. There are lots of choices and daily specials for dinner. It’s a much nicer experience than Plantations. On 'land' days you can return to the ship for lunch before exploring the islands again but you will have to put your snout in the Plantations trough as Waterfront does not serve lunch on these days. Tip 9 - Power outlets are scarce in the rooms so a double adaptor or small power board is useful. Tip 10 - If you like a variety of tea and decent coffee and don't want to pay for it at the cafe then bring your own tea bags and coffee (you can easily take on board a plastic plunger, ground coffee and capsule of UHT milk). Tip 11 - If you want to use the gym in the morning then get their on opening. It's small and gets busy. Tip 12 - There are some good duty free alcohol deals on board. $25 for two 1 litre bottles of basic spirits (includes Famous Grouse whiskey and Smirnoff vodka) or $35 for two 1 litre bottles (includes Johnny Walker red and Jim Beam white.) Prices on these were only marginally better at Port Vila so convenience could win out. The biggest and best shop for alcohol in Port Vila is Fung Kuei. On the day I was there they had a massive special – A 2 litre bottle of Jim Beam white label for $19!!! However, other shops did have marginally better prices on certain items but simply did not have the range. Tip 13 - The temperature in the restaurants and bars is deliberately kept cool so a jacket or cardigan is essential for those who feel the cold. This was one of our biggest gripes. Tip 14 - There is reasonable clothes hanging space in the cabins but if you have a lot to hang then bring a few wire coat hangers. Tip 15 - Make sure you head to the feature shows at night about 30 minutes before they start to avoid disappointment. Seating is limited On shore Tip 16- On island days, get going early and head back to the ship at around 11.30 for lunch. You'll avoid having to queue for the tender boat by doing so and can go back on-shore afterwards. Most people head back for lunch around 12.30pm to 1.00 pm. Tip 17 - Most of the on island markets are full of junk. You will keep seeing the same thing time after time. Tip 18 - On Lifou, don't miss the cave with its crystal clear plunge pool. Instead of heading left to go to the church on the hill and Jinek Bay, go right. You'll pass another church and, shortly after, come across a few locals sitting near a sign about the cave. They charge $10 to get through to it but it’s worth it. Tip 19 - On Lifou the locals offer two tours for a lot less than similar tours offered by P&O. Tip 20 - At Port Vila, arrange for a ‘taxi’ to take you around. We negotiated a taxi for 5 people from 9 am until 3 pm for $200. We took in the Cascade Waterfalls ($25 pp), the Tanna Coffee house, the Beach House Cafe for lunch (near Hideaway Island), a drive through a real village of, a cultural show ($10pp ), the Port Vila shopping district and return to ship. The driver was very accommodating waiting for us at each stop and accepting payment at the end of the day. Tip 21 - At Mystery Island, start with a walk around the island on the beach (island is only 200m across and 1km long) then pick your favourite spot. The best conditions are in the morning as the wind can pick up after lunch. The better snorkelling is on the side of the island opposite to where the ship’s tenders drop you off. The locals from the neighbouring island run snorkelling and fishing tours ranging between $15pp and $50pp and small outrigger canoes can be hired for $10 pp. Make sure you buy a fresh coconut for $1 or $2. Make a donation to the local pre-school while watching the kids sing their little lungs out. Tip 22 - On Isle of Pines, if you have a good level of fitness there is a great walk up Pic Nga (232 metres) which rewards you with 360 degree views if the Island. The walk takes about 35 minutes each way for those with a good level of fitness. The starting point is about 10 minute walk from the jetty/wharf - head out along the road to Vao, turn left at a T intersection, pass the petrol station (Essence) and you will come sign indicating the trail on your right. Don't miss snorkelling around the edge of the little isle at Kanumera Bay. The $60 Island Discovery Tour offered by P&O is $25 on shore with the locals, but you need to be early.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
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
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
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
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