After reading so many scathing reviews of the Pacific Aria I had called P&O to see if I could change our booking to another ship a couple of months ago as I was extremely concerned that my 80 year old mother would have a terrible time ... Read More
After reading so many scathing reviews of the Pacific Aria I had called P&O to see if I could change our booking to another ship a couple of months ago as I was extremely concerned that my 80 year old mother would have a terrible time after reading about lifts breaking down, water leaking, and horrible food. I'm so pleased that I left the booking as it was on the lovely Aria as my hubby, mother and I all had a wonderful time.
The ship is beautiful and not as small as I'd imagined she might be. The common areas feel spacious and have a touch of elegance in the decor, especially in the bar areas. There are always places to sit in comfort without a crowd of people around you- perfect for a quiet drink before dinner, to read or just to gaze out of a window at the water without being disturbed by too much noise. So many cosy and intimate spaces, each with it's own feel and so very relaxing! Hubby purchased a bronze level "The Edge" pass and LOVED it. He got his money's worth out of it in the first 2 days and will definitely recommend it for anyone looking to do something a bit more active on board. There were only 50 passes purchased on our cruise which meant little to no waiting times and plenty of opportunity to use the facilities. This would obviously change depending on the number of passes purchased per cruise and whether or not it was school holidays. There was a good range of on board activities including craft, quoits, board games and trivia games. My personal favourite activities included the bag tag making craft and cocktail making class in the Mix bar. My only complaint about the activities is that on a couple of occasions the entertainment crew dropped the ball and didn't show up for the scheduled activity- one was morning trivia and despite the reception staff trying to contact entertainment, no one showed up. The second time was the bag tag making craft activity, however, one of the crew did manage to contact the entertainment team and they sent someone to us, albeit late. The evening entertainment was a bit of a mixed bag; night 1, "Off the Charts" was sub par, night 2 was Timothy Hyde, a magician. He was a showman with the gift of the gab but overall his performance as a magician was very mediocre, at best. However, Twice Upon a Time and La Forza were absolutely world-class shows that we were were blown away with and would be very happy to pay for the privilege of seeing either show again. Another show worth mentioning is Side Show Alley. Our experience was dampened by a couple of loud-mouthed females - at least one of which was a guest singer on board (disappointing and totally lacking class), who yelled, cat-called and cheered throughout the entire performance, despite being asked by other guests to refrain. This seriously spoilt the dramatic affect of the show- I guess no one bothered to tell them that it wasn't a concert and musical theater isn't the venue to scream at. This, of course, wasn't the fault of the cast but sadly for the entertainers who had obviously worked hard to present an amazing show, this did detract from our experience. Other entertainers worth mentioning include the extremely talented Mitch and Mike Gordon and White Chilli - we found ourselves making sure we sought them out whenever possible to listen to them perform. We had a blast at the Bianco party but sadly didn't attend either the Gatsby or Back to School parties as I just didn't have the time to organise suitable clothing before sailing. Embarkation was smooth and made easy by the friendly staff at the terminal and at each port the P&O team were friendly and helpful. The gym was fantastic- such a great space and much bigger than a lot of on board gyms in other ships. Others have complained about the service on the Aria, however, we had no issues whatsoever. All staff went out of their way to ensure everything was taken care of. Sarah (in the Mix bar), Grace (Sugar) and Riuel (Waterfront) all need special mention for always having a smile on their faces, their friendliness and warmth and care shown to all passengers. Our room stewards did a great job and were very inconspicuous. The toilet in our room blocked 3 times during the cruise but was fixed like magic very soon after we reported it so was no inconvenience to us. A couple of the lifts did break down a couple of times, however, were back in use within a short while each time. There was no inconvenience for guests as the other lifts were all working. We all must have gained at least 5 kgs each, so needless to say the food was plentiful and pretty delish. We loved the Pantry- so many choices and so beautifully clean and fresh. I was very happy to see the change and wish the buffet away from all ships. We could easily and happily do a MUCH longer cruise with the food options on board the Aria that are available. Dragon Lady and Angelo's were still available at no charge and we ate at Angelo's twice and Dragon Lady 3 times. Both have amazing decor and staff were lovely, however, Angelo's was a bit hit and miss- fabulous the first time and pretty bad the second time with fish that was so overcooked and dry it couldn't be eaten, missing ingredients (the parmigiana was supposed to be served with eggplant, but once it was served we were told the eggplant was "unavailable"), the gnocchi sounded delish but was almost flavourless. Our first meals there included the fish which was amazing (hence why it was ordered a second time), the parmigiana, again, it was lovely and came with the advertised eggplant the first time, and the risotto. Dragon Lady was spot on every time and we loved it! The meals in Waterfront were mostly great, but there were some meals that weren't as good as others- that being said, that happens at all restaurants and none of us ever went hungry. Overall, the food was fabulous with heaps of choices. Our cabin was lovely and spacious. I was concerned with my mum having to climb into the bathtub to take a shower but there are railings as hand holds and she managed quite well. It would be much easier to have the tubs removed and just leave a shower but this did not impact on our enjoyment at all. The pool areas are perfect spaces to have a cocktail, chat with new friends, read or make use of the facilities and have a cool down in the pools. The ambiance in both spaces was great. The guests on board were among the friendliest that I've ever come across on a cruise- no whingers and lots of really great people who we had the privilege of cruising with. We didn't do any shore tours so I can't comment on them. We loved our 12 night cruise so much that we booked our next cruise on the beautiful Aria before we had disembarked and I can't wait until my next adventure on her! Read Less