5 P&O Australia Pacific Jewel Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to South Pacific from Sydney (Australia)

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
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
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
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
Pacific Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 3.7
Dining 4.0 3.2
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 3.5 3.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.1
Family 3.5 3.1
Shore Excursion N/A 3.2
Enrichment 3.0 3.0
Service 4.0 3.7
Value For Money 4.5 3.3
Rates 3.0 3.7

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