First Time Cruise on Pacific Aria - Brisbane - Noumea - Vila rtn.

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#1
2 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Hi Everyone
My wife and I, plus two kids (teens) have booked our first cruise for July. I have a few questions so I'd appreciate any suggestions tips etc. We are going on the P&O Pacific Aria.

Sea sickness - Can you prevent this with meds before travel or do you treat as it happens. What do you use?

Insects - Is this a problem on board? I hate mosquitoes but they love me. Are they a problem in Noumea and Vila? If so I'll bring spray.

Money for stops - Can you use AUD$ in Noumea and Vila or do you have to exchange?

Duty Free - Is it best value to buy duty free onshore at the stops or onboard?

Hair dryers and straighteners - Are these allowed onboard?

Irons - Are irons available for use on board?

Electrical Wall sockets - Are they Australian or do you need an adaptor?

Hot and Cold Water - is there free water bubblers/taps available to fill bottles? Is there free hot water for flasks?

Cafes - Is there always something open to grab a drink anytime day or night?

WIFI - Is this available and is there a cost?

Shops - Are there any shops on board that sell toiletries, confectionery and other sundry items?

Safety - How safe are the cruises in terms of theft, drunkenness etc? ie Is it entirely safe for the kids to wander around?

Laundry - Is it expensive to use the washers and dyers?

Embarkation Luggage - How soon is your luggage delivered to your room?

Disembarkation Luggage - Do you walk off with this or do they carry it off for you and you collect onshore?

Noise - Are the rooms fairly well insulated for noise?

Restaurants - Do you need to book tables at the restaurants or can you just walk in without a booking? If the latter how do you book?

Bringing Drinks on board - I believe that alcohol is not allowed on board. Are cans or bottles of soft drink allowed?

Any other tips for first timers?

Thanks.
#2
New Zealand
151 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
Sea sickness -Can you prevent this with meds before travel or do you treat as it happens. What do you use?

In general you shouldn't bet sea sick as they have stabilisers and try to avoid rough seas, but if you are worried take some sea legs and take it at night (it helps you sleep and protects you the next day)

Insects- Is this a problem on board? I hate mosquitoes but they love me. Are they a problem in Noumea and Vila? If so I'll bring spray.

Not a problem onboard, but there is zika around the pacific. You should use insect repellent before you go ashore.

Money for stops- Can you use AUD$ in Noumea and Vila or do you have to exchange?

In general most of the stalls etc will take AUD - but they are not so great at giving change so you want lots of small notes. Also credit cards are accepted in all major shops etc so just let the bank know where you will be. Noumea only took AUD on the stalls at the cruise terminal. You can book a tour etc in AUD or cc ok.

Duty Free- Is it best value to buy duty free onshore at the stops or onboard?
It is much of a muchness unless you are going to port vilia. The best place in the south pacific is Kung Fuei in town - take the water taxi (or if you are doing a tour you are likely to end up at a duty free as they get a payment for everyone they bring)

Hair dryers and straightness - Are these allowed onboard?
Yes but there is a hairdryer rin your cabin

Irons- Are irons available for use on board?
Yes the laundry has these

Electrical Wall sockets - Are they Australian or do you need an adaptor?
You should be right with Aussie ones, but there is only one or two plugs so take a multi board (without a surge protector)

Hot and Cold Water- is there free water bubblers/taps available to fill bottles? Is there free hot water for flasks?

Yes, the pantry has both hot and cold 24/7. Every bar will have a water dispenser and glasses for passengers to help themselves.

Cafes - Is there always something open to grab a drink anytime day or night?
Room service (which has a fee) is 24/7 but the food venues close about 9.30 (except for the grill which is open till "late"). Breakfast starts about 6.30

WIFI- Is this available and is there a cost?
yes and yes - think slower than dial up and mortgage the house. It is a satellite service and the price depends on the cruise. You can normally get a discount on the first day.

Are there any shops on board that sell toiletries, confectionery and other sundry items?

Yes there is but at a considerable mark up (think at least 3 times more than you pay at home). If you do need something and can wait to a port there is a supermarket right across the road from the cruise terminal in Noumea (they also have an ATM if you want to get currency). They are called casino and take credit card. Most other main ports will have a shop you can make purchased from and it is fine to bring things back onboard.

We tend to take a little stash of medication and snacks – you can take commercially packaged food onboard.

Safety- How safe are the cruises in terms of theft, drunkenness etc? ie Is it entirely safe for the kids to wander around?

It is really safe and most kids wander around - but things do happen. They have lots of security around but there can be opportunistic thefts. But with general duty of care you will be fine. Most drunkenness is dealt with fairly promptly and they do cut people off to limit this.

Laundry- Is it expensive to use the washers and dyers?
It is $4 per load so it will cost $8 to wash and dry. Take your own powder - I tend to buy laundry pods to take as it is easier. You need $2 coins but reception will make change for you.

Embarkation Luggage- How soon is your luggage delivered to your room?
This is a hard question - normally by dinner. Sometimes it is at our room before we get there; sometimes you get it a bit later. The cabin stewards deliver it and embarkation day is super busy for them.

Disembarkation Luggage - Do you walk off with this or do they carry it off for you and you collect onshore?

Either - you can choose to self disembark which gets you off earlier, else you can put it out the night before. Just remember to put out any clothes you want to wear the next day and have a bag for everything (most people to walk off with one suitcase).

Noise - Are the rooms fairly well insulated for noise?
Again yes and no - you are likely to hear people (well kids) running up and down the hallway but you are unlikely to hear your neighbours TV.

Do you need to book tables at the restaurants or can you just walk in without a booking? If the latter how do you book?
So this one depends on what you want to do. We like to eat at the main dining room and have the same table each night. So to make this happen we go to the MDR as soon as we board to make a booking. There are two shifts 5.30 / 6 or 7.30 / 8 so if you have a preference again book. If you don't have a booking then it is fine - just rock on up and they will accommodate you.
If you have the same table your servers will get to know your preferences. It is courtesy to let the them know at the podium if you aren't going to be at the MDR if you have a saved table - that way they can use it for casual dinners.

If you want to go to a paid restaurant then you are likely to need a booking (there is tons of info on this when you get onboard).

Lunch at the MDR is only on sea days and like breakfast it is just turn up during the opening hours.

Bringing Drinks on board - I believe that alcohol is not allowed on board. Are cans or bottles of soft drink allowed?

You can take 12 cans (non alcoholic) per person, loosely packed in your hand luggage. You can take drink bottles but they need to be empty. We take a mix of soda and energy drinks. Of you could take powder like powerade or raro and mix it onboard.

While they ruthlessly enforce the empty drink bottle (they tip out anything) they don't seem to count the cans or care about the size. But they do need to be loose in the bag.

Any other tips for first timers?

Think about how you will hold your cruise card - lanyards are very common. The walls of the cabin are metallic so we not only take magnets but we also take a magnetic hook that we hang close to the door to hold our lanyards.

Check your balance on the self service kiosks regularly so you are not surprised if you forget that even though you aren't handing over cash things still come at a cost...

You don't need to spend money to have a good time

If you like the shows get there early - doors open 30 min before hand and it gets really full quickly. Do a recon to find seats in the theatre that work for you.

If you are going to catch a shuttle on your return make sure you book it prior - then you go to the head of the queue rather than waiting with the hundreds that didn't.
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#3
New Zealand
151 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
Oh and if you don't want to pay $30 a picture then just wave through the photography area

Relax and have a good time
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P&O Pacific Pearl P317 Food & Wine - 18-21 May 2013
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#4
Adelaide, Australia
118 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Sea sickness: If you're prone to motion sickness, metoclopraminde (maxolon) is the best preventative and treatment. It's an S4 medication, so you need a prescription.

Sweetp12: You mention WiFi is worse than dial up. Does this mean I have no hope of streaming the footy??
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#5
New Zealand
151 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
No hope for streaming but you might be able to get it on the TV. You could also chat to one of the entertainment staff - while the ship subscribes to certain channels they try to do their best to cover big games so depending on what you want to watch they may be able to sort something out.
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#7
Sunshine Coast Australia
59 Posts
Joined Nov 2014
My wife and l are taking Grand Daughter on Aria, this School Holidays, and this seemed to answer all of my questions. If l may add one.
We are new to P&O, and are more familiar with Cunard, thus do l need a suit, or would a jacket and trousers be suitable for dinner etc. Thanks.


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#8
New Zealand
124 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Originally posted by happydays42
My wife and l are taking Grand Daughter on Aria, this School Holidays, and this seemed to answer all of my questions. If l may add one.
We are new to P&O, and are more familiar with Cunard, thus do l need a suit, or would a jacket and trousers be suitable for dinner etc. Thanks.


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Smart trousers and a collared shirt, without a tie will be more than adequate. The dress code is considerably more relaxed than Cunard.
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#9
New Zealand
151 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
There are no formal nights as such - the dress code is definitely casual although the staff love it when you dress up (the hubby always gets lots of attention in his kilt!) P&O want to be family friendly so they removed dress recommendations. On any given night you will see people wearing anything from jeans to a suit. Just go with what you are comfortable with and you will fit in just fine .
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P&O Pacific Pearl P317 Food & Wine - 18-21 May 2013
P&O Pacific Pearl P611 Tonga 22 Feb - 2 March 2016
Carnival Spirit S710 New Caledonia 12-21 March 2017
P&O Pacific Jewel J738N Fiji / Tonga - 5-19 Sept 2017
P&O Pacific Jewel J828 New Caledonia / Vanuatu 3-13 July 2018