R619 - Pacific Star moonlight serenade review

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#1
Katherine NT Australia
551 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Hi Everyone

I'm back from my holiday (including the cruise). I did enjoy the cruise - even with all the oldies that were on board and have booked another cruise on the Pacific Sun for Christmas 2007 with the kids.

Hope you like my review. I will be uploading photos later on this week when I have time. I have copies of all of the Pacific dailies, the drinks list, the lotus spa price list, grapevine wine tasting info (including prices), menus from the bordeaux restaurant, flowers price list, and island information for nukulofa, vavua, suva and apia.

Cheers and Happy reading Rach

Pacific Star Review - 27th May to 9th June 2006

The Embarkation

It was an interesting experience getting onto the ship in Auckland. We travelled by coach to the Wharf and then had to line up to go through customs, register our credit card, get our cruise card etc. It seemed as though we were stuck in the line forever – when actually it was probably only an hour from getting off the coach and onto the ship and it was all undercover. It was a quite smooth process.

The Cabin
Once we figured out how to open the door (tip for new cruisers – push the door keycard all the way in before turning the handle!!) we were pleasantly surprised with our cabin. We had been allocated a 4 berth and there were only 2 of us!! It appeared that our cabin was a bit roomier than 2 berths but maybe it’s a trick of the eye. The cabin had 4 wardrobes each with their own safe and plenty of coathangers. There were also 2 small drawers in the bottom of each wardrobe. As well as the wardrobes, the cabin had a writing desk with a reasonably roomy drawer in it. This writing desk is where the phone and information about the pacific star is on it. The cabin also has bedside tables with a shelf underneath and a lamp on each table. There is also a tv in the cabin. The TV has channels that show in house movies, the 2 ship cruise cams, information about the ship, lotus spa and shore tours. In your cabin you are also supplied with an ice bucket, tongs and 2 small glasses.

The bathroom has a shower with a retractable clothes line just big enough for a few undies or 2 t-shirts), hand basin with shelves above and below for storage and of course the toilet .It also has a hair dryer / ( clothes dryer ha ha ) The toiletries supplied are toilet paper, soap and shower gel (in a dispenser within the shower cubicle).

The cabin staff are excellent – no job is ever to big or too small. They introduce themselves to you within a short time of being on board and they never forget your name. The cabin stewards always say hello when you pass them in the hallway they make up your room and turn down your bed at night. Our shower was cleaned 3 times during the whole cruise – they turn the shower head upside down when they cleaned it but the rest of the bathroom was cleaned daily. The sheets were changed every 3 days on the beds and the towels were changed daily whether you used them or not eg face washers and handtowels.

We didn’t get any towel animals until my birthday – it was the only one we got and it took me 10 minutes to figure out it was a bunny rabbit!!

The Ship

The Pacific Star is a reasonably sized ship (its my first cruise). It does shake and rattle quite a bit but you soon get used to it. There are ongoing maintenance issues with the ship and its fittings eg screws coming loose, footboards coming away from the walls etc. That being said the ship is on a continual upgrade with various engineers working non stop during the day hours. The addition (that was done in Italy in an attempt to stabilise the boat) has not been done every well and it now appears to be coming away from the ship itself. The public areas are always spotless although there were a few issues with blocked toilets at the start of the cruise but the crew jumped on it and fixed them immediately. Most of the ship was refurbished prior to becoming the Pacific Star (except for Dukes Piano Bar). During our cruise there were issues with the lifts with maintenance occurring almost daily on at least 2 lifts with one of the lifts being out of action for over half the cruise, and also one of the lifts couldn’t even be used to get down to the restaurant (deck 4) or the tenders (deck 3). The captain of the ship is Marco Fortezee.

The ship is currently undergoing a wiring refit as they install closed circuit tv and upgrade their security system which meant that there were panels off walls and ceilings and wires training everywhere. However, the crew that were doing this were very apologetic about the inconvenience to the passengers.

The internet café was good. I regularly checked my email both home and work with very little problems – it was a bit slow but no slower than what we have at home. It is charged at 0.25c per minute but this rate seems to drop the longer you are on. The most I paid or 30 minutes was $7.50. It is purely for surfing the internet and checking email – you cannot open word documents or send any other attachments other than a photo email (which I didn’t try). If you want to print out anything it costs $1.25 per page.

The Ships Boutiques

I purchased a shirt for the country and western night and only paid $20 so was happy with the purchase. The ships boutiques included duty free alcohol – much cheaper than on shore - $40 for 2 litres, hairdressers – cost me $43 to get my hair straightened for the first formal night and I hated it!! – duty free jewellers – very expensive, sundries shop – bought a first cruise t-shirt for my future niece or nephew and paid $17. bought souvenirs for the kids – reasonable prices about $7 for a magnet. Duty free perfume – didn’t buy anything or look – sorry.


The Shore Tours and Islands

The girl at the shore tours information desk was quite rude. She was extremely unhelpful. All of our shore tours were pre booked with P & O and all but one of them were cancelled. All of the afternoon tours were cancelled and they were only running morning tours. I had spoken to the girl on the tour desk about the change and that we were struggling with the time difference (eg Suva was 3 ½ hrs ahead of our normal time at home) and asked if there was any chance of a refund if we missed the tour due to the time difference issue. She said no. We missed the tour of Suva (we were 5 minutes late due to trying to get money changed from the bank) and it cost us $210. So a warning to all that book shore tours – remember to give your body time to get used to the time difference and remember to factor in time for money changes (sometimes the banks are late on board and the tours WONT wait and they won’t give you a refund for the tour!!!).

DravuniIsland
Dravuni Island was beautiful. The people were friendly and helpful. There is a tender to get to Dravuni – its best to wait for open tender (about 11am) as the boats aren’t as full. We went snorkelling ( remember to wear reef/aqua shoes due to the coral reefs), walked almost to the top of the island – great shots and views, we just walked to the first hill – there are 3 and they are quite a hike. The sand is white and beautiful to lie on.
Snorkelling was a lot of fun and near the beach only goes to a maximum depth of 3 metres. I saw coral of reds, blues and oranges and small fish of various colours.
If you have a digital camera I recommend purchasing an underwater case as I found the limited shots of the film camera to be extremely frustrating.

Yasawa-I-Rara
Yasawa I Rara is another tropical paradise with a small village and friendly locals. I did not do much as I arrived late in the day.( Very , very sleepy from the night before.)
The locals run a small market when the ship is in and there are some unique items available The snorkelling was fun and the water was warmer than Dravuni but not as clear. You can walk around the island and get rid of the odd half kilo from all the good food you have eaten, take wonderful shots of scenery and get that tan you want.

Suva, Fiji
We missed our tour in Suva so instead we walked around the main town. Suva is dirty, dusty and not very pleasant. Although I enjoyed going into a jewellery shop and having 6 sales staff rush to help me!!
Take a tour and get out of the cities wharf district.
Beware of the gauntlet of sellers when leaving the wharf from the ship as some of these people have the art of the quick con down to a fine art including official looking ‘Suva City Council’ laminated tags.

If you accept a taxi and go off on a jaunt again beware. Make sure it is of a suitable standard of road worthiness… it is your life in another persons hands. Some cruisers accepted fares for $100.00 to see a tourist sight then were told it was $300.00 to get back to the ship… take it or leave it. So CLEARLY negotiate your fare before you get in the taxi.
Other cruisers experienced with Suva and other places took off in taxis and had a ball. So in this place keep your street smarts about you and you will be fine

Apia, Samoa
WOW! We went on a shore tour of Apia that included the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and the University of Samoa. It was amazing. The Samoan people were so friendly and welcoming. We were in rustic local buses – no air-conditioning , no PA, no windows, no shock absorbers and wooden seats – TIP – take a towel to sit on. It was very cheap - $1 equalled 2 Samoan Tala. We arrived in Apia on a pubic holiday so not all of their stores and sights were open but all the locals would stop and wave at the buses as you went past. We arrived in Apia on a Public Holiday so a lot of the shops and attractions were closed.

Vavau. Tonga
To access this island you tender ashore. On this day 2 of the tenders were broken down so that the queues to come back to the ship were quite long and a lot of the elderly passengers were feeling the heat. The township itself is quite dirty and unkempt. Quite a few passengers hired taxis to get away from the town as the only tourist attractions in the town are the harbour (sailing on a dinghy like we did) or St Josephs Church at the top of the main street. The taxis are all extremely rough with many running with bald tyres and missing wheel nuts. The people who were selling at the stalls on the wharf were friendly but we found that most of the locals were not. We also had another bad experience with a shore tour here. We were going on a sailing dinghy in the harbour for 1 hour and were ferried by minivan to the jetty to pick up the dinghy. At the end of the hour the attitude was “thanks, see you later” and we were left to make our own way back to the wharf to catch a tender back to the ship.

Entertainment and Activities
During Sea Days there was plenty of choice of things to do – ranging from bingo and sea horse racing to beer quoits and cards although this was only between the hrs of 10 am and 4.30 pm. We went to the sea horse racing, quizzes, bought a print at the art auction (free champagne) and bingo (won $135).The parties were great – they had a pyjama party, rock ’n’ roll party, island night and country and western night. There were 3 formal nights including the captains welcome. The entertainers were Roanna Dempsey (singer), Chris Powelley (singer) and Peter Dean (comedian). Out of the 3 entertainers Chris powelley was by far the best – Roanna Dempsey kept trying to sing songs that were not suited to her voice and Peter Dean kept laughing at his own jokes before he had even finished them.

The entertainers were OK but nothing to really write home about. I really enjoyed the Pacific Star Entertainers. The performances by the Pacific Star Entertainers were Dance, Love the Night life, Gday Gday, Welcome Aboard Showtime. The main singers for the Pacific Star Entertainers were Benjamin h mchugh and Joanna bagley – they had great voices.

The cruise Director was Dan Styne – I thought he was quite funny. He was able to make a joke out of just about anything. The assistant cruise director was Nathaniel (didn’t think he was as funny as Dan). Nathaniel was very approachable and he was only 21 so seemed quite young to be an assistant cruise director.

Onboard Activities

Onboard activities were bingo ($10 a book), seahorse racing ($2 per bet), beer quoits, quilling, t-shirt painting ($15), trivia quizzes, art auctions, marriage match, movies in the show lounges and many more activities.

The Food

The food was to die for. We had breakfast in the Lido Buffet and also in the Bordeux Restaurant. Lunch we generally ate in the Lido Buffet. Had dinner most nights in the restaurant as the buffet is only open for breakfast and lunch – the themes were Mediterranean, Italian, French(did not like the snails) , International, Mexican, Landfall, Sailaway just to name a few.

Also went to the steak house (club bahia) it was yummy. For a $20 cover charge you got an entrée, main meal and dessert – the blooming onion (as entrée) and tiramisu are the best.

There is also the Pizzeria available – Pies were $2.50 each with Pizzas available from $7.00-$7.50. The Pizzeria was open from 3 pm to 6 pm for pies and pizzas with it open for hamburgers and hotdogs at no charge at lunch time.


The gratuity payment
The gratuity charge is a $4.50 charge added to your cruise card for every passenger over the age of 12 per day. This charge is split between the room stewards and restaurant waiters. There is also a 10% gratuity charge already factored into the cost of the drinks at the bars The reason for these charges is that the room stewards, waiters and bar staff are not on a salary. They work on 10 month contracts with their cabin and food included and a wage of $100-$150 per month. The gratuity is in place to help these staff earn extra money. The gratuites bring the stewards, bar staff and waiters wages up to about $700-$800 a month at the most.


Overall Impressions

On our cruise over 80% of cruisers were over the age of 70. Although there were discos and parties most of them were closed by midnight due to very few people coming to them. I would recommend that you try to find out the demographics of other cruisers before you go so that you are prepared. The Pacific Star is a good first time cruisers ship but I would recommend maybe looking at other younger ships that might not rattle and roll as much as the Pacific Star. Having said that, we did enjoy our cruise and have booked the next one on the Pacific Sun (this time with the kids) for Xmas 2007.
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Previous Cruises
Pacific Star - Moonlight Serenade - Birthday Cruise
27th May 2006 - 9th June 2006
Pacific Star - Week Fantastique - Anniversary Cruise
29th Sept - 6th Oct 2007
Pacifc Sun N740 - 18th Dec - 27th Dec 2007 - Family Christmas Cruise
Pacific Sun N929 - Week Tropique - 19th Sept 2009-25th Sept 2009 -Long Service Leave Cruise
Pacific Dawn - Week Fantastique 20th-27th November 2010 - mum and daughter time

Pacific Jewel - 27th June 2014 - Sydney/Brisbane/South Pacific/Brisbane
#2
750 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
That was an excellent review, I really appreciate how you went into details! Gives me a much better idea what to expect on our cruise.
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Sun Princess March 2012 Brisbane-Sydney Repo
Coral Princess April 2011 Acapulco-Fort Lauderdale Trans-Canal
Freedom of the Seas Oct 2008 Western Caribbean
Pacific Star Dec 16, 2006 New Caledonia & Vanuatu
Island Princess Feb 8, 1991 Amazon (Manaus-San Juan)
Pacific Princess Sept 1984 Mexican Riviera
#3
Brisbane
1,100 Posts
Joined May 2006
great review there sweet successes. i agree with you on the food, ask any of my friends, it is what i have been raving about since getting off the ship a couple of months ago .

and like you, i was already getting ready for my next cruise no sooner than disembarking. i hope they get to fixing the addition that's falling off by the time i sail, dont want to be leaving any of the Star behind in Cairns now do we?


take care,

sam.
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CRUISE PICS
Pacific Star - R608 Golden Getaway 8th March 2006
Pacific Star - R640 7 Night Delight 2nd December 2006
Pacific Sun - N906 Week Fantastique 14 February 2009

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Dawn Princess - D910 Sampler Cruise June 5 2009
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Originally posted by Riffraff
but I guess it's not the size that matters, it's how tall the pointy bits are!
#4
Adelaide, South Australia
105 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Hi Rach

Thank you for your review, we will be cruising (our 1st)on the star at the end of August.
Our cruise has a group booking of over 100 rock n rollers of all ages from all over Aussie with our own day time activities on board eg rock n roll lessons with profesional instructors as well as P&O organised activities.
It was interesting to read your views on some of the islands, I'm starting to lean towards not even getting off the ship
As for the ongoing maintenance during the day I find that reassuring that it is being done, if anyone has ever based themselves at a motel or resort while on holidays on land you would have seen the same things going on.

Thanks again Rach the excitement is starting to build again I can't wait for our holiday to start - not having to nudge my way to work during peak hour traffic, then at the end of the day doing it all over again & not having to make the decision as to what to cook for dinner wow just the decision of what & how much to eat yep the excitement is building again.


Helen
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August 2006

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#5
Cairns, Nth. Qld
241 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Hi Rach,
Thanks for such a detailed review! Now the questions will start to roll in
Did you know your cabin no. prior to departure,as you sounded surprised at having a 4 berth? Also, did you feel the hairdresser was no-good, or were you just disappointed at your(?) choice of being a straight-haired gal for a night?
Cheers
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Nerissa

Star R631 Week Fantastique
#6
Brisbane
4,730 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Sounds like you had a wonderful time Rach!

No, the back of the ship isn't getting worse, it was no different the day we watched you sail from Auckland than in December when I saw her depart Brisbane for the first time, or March when we were on her. It's just a b*** awful job by the shipyard in Italy.

Good to hear Nathaniel has moved up in the world on the ship! He was one of the one stage entertainers on our cruise. How's his groin??




Ok, so I better explain I guess! On our cruise in March he pulled a groin muscle while doing his part in "If I Were Not Upon the Sea" on the second last night. We were right at the back of the showlounge and we could see from there the pain he was in.

A shame about missing your tour in Suva - both because you paid for it and didn't do it, but also because it meant you had to do Suva yourself - not an experience I'd want to do again! Definetly a tour for us if we go there again.

Kym
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Christmas & New Year South Pacific (12 nights)



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Pacific Sky, Pacific Star (2), Pacific Sun (5), Pacific Dawn (4), Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl (2), Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Solstice, Rhapsody of the Seas, Aurora (2)
#7
Caravan, Australia
62 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Thanks for such detail in your review. We are off on our first cruise on Star next Tuesday. Only 6 more sleeps. Can't wait. Cheers
#9
24 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Hey thanks for the great review, it was very informative. I will be leaving on my first cruise in 7 weeks Can't wait!! Pacific Star R629. I hope it will be the first of many cruises, I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.
I have a question for you are the power points on Pacific Star the same as in Australia or will I need to buy an adapter to use my electrics etc. Thanks.