I'll start off from the beginning.
We flew up to Brisbane with Virgin Blue on the Friday and stayed at the Holiday Inn in Brissy. (Booked over the internet beforehand). The Holiday Inn was a lovely place to stay. We ate at the pub accross the road, $10 for every dinner and was great.
Getting on the Ship
I was expecting the worst after reading the courier mail review but was pleasantly surprised. A P&O lady met us in the foyer of the Holiday Inn at 11.15. They took our luggage and we boarded the coach. There was a 20 minute trip to the wharf. (As i didn't wait in the Transit Centre I can't say what that was like). We got off the coach and entered the tent, after showing our ID, swiping our credit cards and getting out cruise cards, we boarded the ship.. around 20 mins all up. Most people were really excited and it seemed like a few minutes.
Our cabin number was 5070. We shared it with our next door neighbours and were expecting a queen bed and 2 bunks as they had told us previously. There were however 2 double bunks which was much better (we would have had to take turns in the queen bed). The rooms were a bit smaller than the Pacific Sun, but were nice. There was just enough room. The wardrobes were a good size, with plenty of coathangers, 2 drawers, and a shelf. The bags easily slid under the beds. The bathroom was small as well, with just enough room. It was quite soundproof. There was a small TV with movies going on 24 hours and the usual ship channels. We had an outside cabin with a large window which was great to look out from.
Our cabin stewards were great, and were eager to get us anything we needed.
Yes, the ship is old.. but I think it's like this... If you look for faults you will find them, however if you don't look too hard and examine the age and state of the ship you'll find it just as good as any other. The rooms were nice, bright and comfy, and the decks were great. We had a full ship and I don't think there was a time we had to search for somewhere to sit. The pools were a bit bigger than the Sun, though were emptied for the last half of the trip due to rough seas. The spas were ok and were filled with young ones most of the time. There was a large spa right on top of the ship but it didn't work this cruise unfortunately.
The casino was not bad.. they even had a no smoking night in there which was a good idea for us non smokers.
The shops were nice... as there are specials throughout the trip don't buy up big on the first day!
Of course the food was great! Though, if youv'e been on a few P&O cruises you'll know exactly what's going to be on the night time menu as they never seem to change it.
There were alot of choices on this ship. Breakfast you could eat in the dining or buffet. We tried both but preferred the buffet as the food was layed out for you to choose what you like. If you eat in the dining for breaky dont forget to ask for the Breakfast Special.
Lunch - dining room, buffet, or burgers out on the deck. We loved the buffet as it was lovely eating out on the deck. One day was seafood with fresh prawns.. lots of them.. yumm!
Dinner - 2 sittings in the dining room. We were on the late sitting which was good.. we had time to build an appetite! Kids did go to dinner with adults but I never saw any in the late sitting. Our table waiters were great and fun.. I think P&O must treat their crew pretty good as all of the waiters were happy and eager to please. (After hearing rumers about the crew only being fed rice etc, I asked one. He told me they have their own menu, great food and are kept well fed!)
The dining room itself was large but not claustraphobic as I thought it would be as there were no windows. In fact, because it was on the lower deck and in the middle of the ship, on the really rough days it was probably the least rocky part (in my opinion).
We went to the afternoon tea once and they had lovely scones with jam and cream, cakes and biscuits. Too full to go again!
The buffet was similar to the Sun, similar lines of people every now and then. If you timed it well youd have your meal in no time.
We had a pizza one night.. $7 and yumm.
Drinks were usual price, a pity there was no cocktail of the day though! A bottle of wine was a little dear, $32 for a bottle of Asti Riccadonna.
We tried to do as much as we could on this ship. The Cruise staff were all great and kept everyone busy and happy. Dan the cruise director is the best! He is extremely funny!
There was the usual dance classes, beer coits (my husband won lots of beer!) flower making, bingo, etc etc. Everything had a fun edge to it and was a pleasure.
Movies were shown just about every day in one of the lounges, which was relaxing as the drink waiters kept you topped up while watching.
The shows were great! There were 2 new ones I havent seen before and the usual Gday Gday (seen that twice), which was cancelled anyway because of the weather. The talent show was also cancelled due to the rough conditions.
There was a comedian who was just so so, and a singer who was very good as the other entertainers.
Nightlife was terrific.. outside on deck (when the weather was good) they had the band playing, inside there was the disco for the younger ones, which we liked as well, and in the Casablanca room they had a fantastic singing duo, great for dancing to, and after that a retro disco for us 40+'s. We managed to get to bed around 1-2 most nights.
We sat in the Piano Bar a few times, I liked the look of it!
There were 2 theme nights, Hawaiian and Pyjama, and 2 formal nights.
This was a real mystery cruise. We all knew about cyclone Larry, on the way up though seas were really calm and everyone was comfortable.. though alot of people got extremely sunburnt!
We got to Whitsundays and unfortunately the wharf there was too damaged and closed, so we missed that port. The captain was keeping everyone informed every couple of hours with cyclone updates. We still cruised through all the islands, slowly, and got to see some nice sights.
Next port was Cairns. We werent sure we would make it in there as it was only open to small craft at the time of leaving Whitsundays. We got in however and docked, but were not sure of how long until that afternoon. Cairns was a bit battered with a few trees blown around but not that bad. Pity the train was not working so we could only do half of our tour.
Returning to the ship that afternoon we found we were staying in Cairns another day, and were being taken to Port Douglas by coach or catamaran. This day was great, just like another tour and didnt have to use those tenders. Cairns made a good night out as well with lots of places to go!
We left Cairns around 6 and headed for Willis Island, that's when things started to get rough with Cyclone Wati!
The ship was rocking, rolling and reeling and alot of people got seasick. As I am prone to seasickness I was taking Kwells from the very beginning, and thank goodness I did! I never felt seasick the whole time. My husband who never gets seasick started feeling whoosey and took a few Blackmores Ginger tablets and that fixed him up. I would recommend taking precautions before getting on even if you don't get seasick, the jab at the doctor was $140 and the tablets were extremely dear (around $14 for 10 ginger pills compared with $8 for 48 ginger pills from Coles).
There werent many people around that day, and the dining room at night was only half full, the upper deck was like a sick bay with people lieing on the deckchairs trying to get some air. That night we changed route again, moving down a chanel which we were only the 2nd passenger ship to use. Things calmed down a great deal till the next morning, where things got even rougher. It was too windy to go out on deck, with water spraying over the top of the ship. Getting around inside was hard as well as the ship was lurching and shudderring, then crashing down with a huge bang. That night the show was cancelled, as was the passenger talent show. They instead showed movies.. Cinderella Man, and still had the dancing happening. This slowed the ship down by a few hours making us late back to Brisbane, which no one minded as that meant we could all sleep in a bit longer and have a leisurely breakfast.
As we were flying at 12pm, we wanted to go straight to the airport and not the transit centre to make our own way to the airport. We however got tags to send us to the Transit Centre. This was fixed in no time by a visit to the pursers desk who gladly changed our disembarking ticket. The disembarking took no time at all, we were put on the coach and an 8 minute drive to the airport.
A Few Mishaps
A couple of things happened during the trip, one morning the toilets wouldnt flush, but that was fixed in around 20 minutes. The top spa wasnt working. I can't think of anything else.
The cruise was a great mixture of people of all ages, there wasnt a majority of any age. One thing I noticed compared to the Sun trip.. I never heard the "Pacific Sky is so much better" once. In fact I never heard one complaint, even after all we were going through. Everyone was there for a great time and thats what we had!
I hope this isn't too long and boring! I think if you go, don't compare, don't look for faults, you'll have a fantastic time on the Pacific Star!