Pacific Jewel Entertainment & Activities
As we were aboard a comedy cruise, the entertainment on Pacific Jewel was all about the laughs. While there was some live music, the focus was on the comic acts, workshops and other activities such as The Gong Show that passengers could take part in. Nightly, there were three shows (comedy act or show), at 7 pm, 9 pm and then an over-18s Sit-Down Comedy at 10.30 pm. Arrive early or you will be standing at the back.
Pacific Jewel also offers the usual cruise activities such as trivia, bingo, shopping events, workshops and the like. Announcements over the PA by the cruise director were few and far between, so if you didn't check your Good Times daily schedule (delivered to your cabin every night), there's a chance you will miss out.
Shows are held in The Marquee, the ship's theatre, forward on Deck 7. It's a traditionally designed space with a bar and plenty of maroon, gold and dark red colours. It has an LED wall and features a variety of shows to suit different tastes including musicals and more contemporary productions. The main show, Seven, is a visual feast based on the seven deadly sins.
Despite the very good light and sound system, The Marquee is in dire need of some love. The seating is unattractive and uncomfortable and often many passengers are left standing at the rear of the theatre due to the lack of seating.
Daytime activities range from a martini mixology class and wine tastings to ballroom dance classes. There is also karaoke, trivia and bingo almost every day somewhere onboard. On sea days especially, the daily itinerary is packed with fun things to do, and the outdoor big-screen, located on the pool deck forward, is where you'll catch movies, day clubs with DJs, full-length concerts and live sports, including rugby league and AFL during the season. Major sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, are also broadcast onboard.
Evening entertainment is standard cruise ship fare -- a combination of lively Broadway-style production shows and guest entertainers from the worlds of song, dance, magic and comedy.
Another popular entertainment feature of a P&O cruise is the four party concepts that have been rolled out across the fleet. The revamped party nights include the Bianco, a white party inspired by the world's super clubs, hosted on the open deck, or Nero, which is the New Zealand version where everyone wears black. Every cruise of three nights or more will also include the Gatsby party. Longer cruises may have a Back to School night.
For those who wanted to continue into the early hours of the morning, the recently refurbished Dome is the spot to head to. In the dark it was hard to appreciate the improvements, but the atmosphere was fun and passengers enjoying themselves.
Pacific Jewel Bars and Lounges
Out of all the areas on the ship, the 2018 refurbishment was most apparent in the bars and lounges.
The Atrium (Deck 5, midship): Brought alive by new carpet, soft furnishings, elegant furniture and subdued colours, this is a popular venue to congregate, listen to live music, have a coffee or enjoy a few drinks at all times of the day. As a pleasant area to walk through, it's also a great place to people-watch.
Connexions Bar (Deck 7, midship): The ship's main bar has been beautifully decorated with soft green and earth tones, plenty of seating, tables and decorative touches. The carpet, embellished with palm leaves and other botanical motifs, continues the summery vibe, giving the whole area a relaxed and inviting feel. Definitely a crowd favourite.
The Orient (Deck 7, midship): The warm, bluesy feel of this bar makes it a perfect spot to enjoy jazz; however, most times it was empty and it closes quite early. It would be the perfect lounge for a nightcap as an alternative to the Dome. The new furnishings were tasteful, but due to its location, it played second-fiddle to the adjacent Connexions Bar and its bustling vibe.
Mix Bar (Deck 7, midship): With shiny metal accents, cool bar stools and a well-stocked bar, Mix is a great spot for a cocktail or to muddle up your own. Passengers can take part in Mix Academy (for an extra charge) and learn how to make many favourite libations: Note: get in quick as spaces book out very quickly.
Players Bar and Casino (Deck 8): This bar has limited seating for anyone not in the mood to gamble.
The Dome (Deck 14): The dingy old nightclub is now an attractive venue to hang out by day or night. It has new, plush, high-backed chairs, comfortable cushions and plants. At the entrance is a feature wall adorned with hip vases, suitcases and fashionable framed prints. At night a DJ does his best to transform the Dome into a big party but the DJ needs a few lessons in filling a dancefloor. Playing Kenny Rogers' The Gambler three times in the space of 45 minutes is not conducive to dancing!
Pacific Jewel Outside Recreation
Deck 12 is where all the outdoor activities take place. It has two small pools, both of which have a depth of 1.70 metres and are separated by the outdoor stage and two elevated hot tubs. The entire area is open to everyone -- there's no adults-only pool -- with the aft pool close to a large outdoor bar and the forward pool beneath the big screen.
A bowling green has been installed on the ship as part of the 2018 refurbishment. Hidden away on Deck 9 aft, the green is closed in poor weather conditions but a great, secluded spot for lawn bowls (free of charge) on a sunny day.
Pacific Jewel was the first ship to launch P&O Edge, dubbed the world's largest 'adventure park at sea'." Thrill-seekers will enjoy climbing the ship's aft funnel, which takes about 30 minutes. There's laser tag, too, which also runs for half an hour. Other popular options include riding on the flying fox (zipline), which zooms across the pool deck from above the big screen to the forward funnel at the other end. Popular among the romantics at heart is the Titanic Experience, where you and your beloved can pose on the ship's bow, an area that is usually out of bounds to passengers. All of these adventures carry fees, but passes for multiple activities are offered at a discount.
Deck 12, the main open deck, is where all the outdoor activities take place. It has two square-shaped pools, both of which have a depth 1.7 metres and are separated by the outdoor stage and two elevated hot tubs. The entire area is open to everyone -- there's no adults-only pool -- with the aft pool close to a large outdoor bar and the forward pool beneath the big-screen.
The adults-only Oasis retreat is a big drawcard for cruisers aboard the Pacific Jewel. It was expanded in the 2013 refurbishment to cover the aft areas of decks 10 and 11 and has since been given some attention in the 2018 makeover with the addition of new furniture and cushions. The spacious section on the back of Deck 11 offers a combination of sun loungers and cosy cabanas, plus some tables and chairs where you can enjoy food from The Pantry directly above. The section on Deck 10 has sun loungers and a bar. A drawback is the lack of anywhere to cool off while sunbathing as there is no pool or hot tub. But it's still a relaxing spot to unwind kid-free and free of charge, from 10 am to 8 pm on sea days and noon to 8 pm on port days.
Pacific Jewel Services
A collection of shops, spread around the Atrium on various levels, sell clothing, jewellery, P&O memorabilia, digital cameras, chocolates, lollies and duty-free beauty products, perfume, alcohol and cigarettes. Pacific Jewel was the first ship to have a Pandora outlet offering stylish jewellery at duty-free prices. Also popular with couples and families is the dedicated photo studio, Expression. Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, though it's stronger in public spaces. On Deck 10 is a self-service laundry with coin-operated machines, irons and ironing boards. A guest services desk is located on Deck 5.