We chose this cruise because we wanted to do something special for New Year's 2017/18. As not many cruises go to the South Pacific from Melbourne, we flew up to Sydney to board P&O Pacfic Eden for a 12 night cruise to Vanuatu and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to do something special for New Year's 2017/18. As not many cruises go to the South Pacific from Melbourne, we flew up to Sydney to board P&O Pacfic Eden for a 12 night cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Before I talk about the cruise I would briefly like to mention P&O's room allocation procedure. Unlike Princess, which you usually choose not only cabin type and deck and number when you book (and which results in different prices within the one category) with P&O unless you wish to pay extra to pick your cabin, this is done automatically within the type you select, eg. interior, oceanview etc.. On the P&O cruise control website it says that you can print your documentation two weeks before the sail date. We tried to do this but the website said, that it can't be done as the rooms hadn't been allocated yet. When I rang P&O they informed me that room allocation could occur up to one day before the sail date, which I personally think is unsatisfactory, as there may be an issue with room location. I was manually emailed the documentation, but when we picked up our documents from Escape Travel, the consultant didn't believe me until i showed him the error.
The embarkation procedure for the cruise was very good, with only a small wait time. When we have sailed on Princess, their wait times have been quite a bit longer and they are fairly rigid with making you wait until your boarding number is called. So we got on and were settled in fairly quickly. I shall provide a brief paragraph on each of the main areas of the cruise.
The ship Pacific Eden was smaller than the other ship Pacific Jewel which we went on and was newer looking with more of a boutique and elegant feel to it. Everything was fairly accessible, although some corridors led to dead ends which could make finding some areas more troublesome.
Dining on the ship was very good, with a reasonable selection of food available in the pantry, although it taking a while to get served due to their no self service ability. We dined at the waterfront restaurant which had good food and service apart from sporadically slow drink service and inconsistent enforcement of dress codes. At some times the pantry wasn't open for food and on these occasions you had to pay more for snacks. We won a dinner at the Luke Mangran salt grill which was exceptional and well enjoyed. As to be expected, snacks from the convenience stores on board were quite expensive.
The activities were probably the best aspect with usually there being something to do. All the entertainment directors such as Louie, Lauren etc.. always made sure people were enjoying themselves. I got a pass for the Edge activities, which included rock climbing, cargo net and flying fox and these were all handled professsionally. The tv choices were somewhat limited with shows often being repeated during the cruise. It was good having trivia at least 3-4 times a day, but the location in the ocean bar tended to get very full and you needed to be there quite early to get a seat.
The excursions were alll ran well and went off smoothly, but there could have been more tender boats going to quicken the process of leaving the ship. On one occasion we went to where tender tickets were being issued and were told by other passengers that they weren't being issued and instead we had to wait for an announcement regarding getting off without a ticket (this took at least 20+ minutes with no announcement). The ports were all easy to get off at and information was available. The port information booklets could have done with a map, which princess usually provides with theirs.
Drink service was fairly good throughout and was used by my partner mainly who purchased a soft drink card. This was with the exception of when we were in the casino and she ordered a drink and the waitress forgot before going on her break! We inquired about the situation after some 20 minutes and when told of the situation I informed them, that this wasn't acceptable service. The waitress came back very apologetic and was thereafter better with her service.
It was just the two of us so no children. Because of the nature of the cruise there was definitely a younger crowd which was usually fine.We think we would probably not do another New Year's cruise as it was just one of those once off things to experience. We are frequent cruisers however and usually go on one a year, with this being our 6th one.
Apart from the minor issues mentioned here, the cruise on the whole was very enjoyable, especially the entertainments. We have as I mentioned previously cruised on Princess and they are our first preference, although their prices have gone up considerably recently. P&O are still an acceptable second and if the circumstances and price were right we would definitely consider cruising with them again. Read Less