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Whoey

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Whoey here,

 

Just got back today.. was fantastic! I will post a detailed review over the next few days.

 

Kids loved it, ports were all good...

 

overall experience was great, few different things this time round.. will explain later

 

gotta go catch my plane !

 

cheers all :):):)

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Hey everyone!

I had a wonderful time!!!!!!! The cruise was fantastic and I can't wait to go cruising again :)

Feel free to ask any questions. I'll post a review and some photos up when I have more time during the week.

Cheers girl05:)

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Welcome back,looking forward to your valued opinions,hope they have done something about the smoke near the casino,its a nice area to sit and look out there but is ruined by the smoke from the casino.

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Home tonight, quite tired but very satisfied... everything went like clockwork, our travel plans from Melbourne to Sydney and 1 night stay at YHA in the city was all better then I had anticipated.

 

Returning home our shuttle bus and flights all went to plan, completely hassle free. The only waiting we did on this entire holiday was for connections (bus to plane etc) and tenders on shore days.

 

I think I will write my review in three stages...

 

1) Sydney to Noumea.

 

2) Noumea and the Islands

 

3) Coming home

 

Yes there will be some photo's over the next few days too !

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Embarkation:

 

We cruised with a large group of 12 adults and 5 children. As we all arrived at the Sydney Wharf 8 terminal at different times, the plan was to meet over at Darling Harbour to walk the shops and kill some time until embarkation began. This went pretty much to plan. The paperwork with the tickets stated embarkation is from 1 pm - 3 pm. We strolled back from the harbour area around 1:30 and even though there was a long snaking line of waiting passengers (best guess 200 in front of us), from the time we lined up it was about 15 minutes to go through to customs and then we were about 10 - 12 minutes getting our personal hand luggage scanned and picking up the cruise cards and cabin key cards plus a brief chat at the customs cubicle. The good news here is even though we were roughly in the middle of the embarkation period the 5 of us were onboard and in our cabin no more then 25 - 30 minutes from line up time.

 

Embarkation was surprisingly simple and hassle free. I later found out if you have passed your luggage through around the side earlier in the day and all your paperwork (tickets, passports etc and that * have you been sick lately* survey thing), passengers are allowed to embark to the ship from 12 and lunch is provided. We had purchased lunch over at Darling Harbour and then found people onboard who had enjoyed a lovely first day lunch - didn't matter really.

 

Once onboard I deposited our cash onto our cruise card and we unpacked our hand luggage items, ran around getting the kids familiar with the ship and signed in with their clubs. The first afternoon was a blur of activity and trying to get ready for sailaway, we enjoyed a bottle of champagne with others in our group. We fed the kids right on 5 (their usual dinner time) and sailaway was under the bridge at 5:30 which we made by 10 minutes.

 

Sailaway was a great feeling and everyone onboard was up on deck celebrating, a really special moment. The weather was excellent and the vibe was all abuzz.

 

After sailaway we put the kids in the clubs and went to our dinner. We were Bourdeax first sitting 6:15 session, we had little time from getting the kids into their clubs and being ready for dinner and didn't do any pre-dinner drinks.

 

Dinner night one was very exciting with everyone enjoying wine and full of excitement to try the variety of dishes. Our table were quite rowdy (not offensively so) and we fully enjoyed our meals. If I recall correctly, we went to the show after dinner the first night called *welcome*. It was a bit of everything to come across the various acts with the Pacific Sun Dancers and two lead performers from this group standing out. Welcome show was average at best with the dancing clearly showing up the other two performers.

 

We got the kids and turned in around 11 o'clock on the first night.

 

The next morning it was overcast and quite windy with 2 - 3 metre swells. The ship was moving around a fair bit, not really a problem but was noticably more then the first day/night. It was yucky with the wind and overcast weather to go on deck so day 1 at sea was spent indoors :(

 

Day 2 at sea was actually worse with rain here and there and once again windy, cold and overcast - not really deck weather. Day 2 some sick bags were in the corridors as late that day we hit 4 metre swells. Some people were seasick but the majority seemed ok, i.e. they still went to Dinner and shows.

 

Day 3 was much the same and some people were beginning to complain. I guess most people expect a cruise to be endless days catching the sun on deck. For us we had 3 days indoors with only half an hour here and there on deck, mostly to see the sea with the white caps going all over the place. Not many people tolerated the weather and the entire mood through the ship was one of dissapointment. The Captain promised better weather for Noumea (the next day), which did eventuate much to everyone's relief.

 

Day 3 partly out of boredom being indoors I caught us up with our washing by using the washing machines on board. $1 buys 2 washes worth of powder. $1 per wash and $1 per spin dry. The small wash rooms, there are 2 of them (deck 5 & 6) have 4 wash and drying machines each. Both levels had 1 set not working, effectively that means there were 6 units working for all the passengers. The laundry rooms are very warm, a bit like a sauna and a few times we had to wait for a machine which was quite annoying. It was beneficial to wash on Day 3 as the next few days were all port days and who wants to do washing in a crummy laundry when there are beautiful beaches and things to see...? The last thing I will say about the Laundry is I had some interesting conversations whilst doing washing getting the opinions of other passengers. There were a lot of people complaining, always complaining about this and that, by about day 5 I ignored them as we were having such a good time and the things they complain about are so trivial anyway !

 

I am sure I read on here somewhere that children's clothes get washed for free on Pacific Sun? I am here to state that this is not the case as I enquired everywhere and was told that parents have to wash kids clothes. Maybe this is something they recently dropped because as a parent it is annoying to have to wash large volumes of clothes (5 people go through a lot of clothes on a cruise... swimming especially) in VERY poor laundry facilities. Anyway, we dealt with it and it wasn't a big deal because we are very organised people and managed our times quite well (washed off - peak times that sort of thing).

 

 

I cannot recall if it was Day 2 or Day 3's evening show however we went to see Maureen someone or another (sorry I cant remember right now) perform. She is a scottish singer and although she has a good voice her choice of songs is clearly aimed at the older group of passengers, of which we had over 500! Anyway our mostly younger group decided to walk out about half way through as it was not our cup of tea. No disrespect to her but the golden oldies after 5 or 6 songs doesn't really cut it with a group of 20 - 35 olds...

 

Not really much else to say about the first few days as they were the least appealing. In one way it was good because we all, kids included, got a pretty good feel for the layout of the ship. A number of people in our group partied quite hard during these nights and simply slept the day away.

 

The vibe of the cruise changed dramatically as we all awoke at Noumea to a beautiful 30 odd degrees day with much relief for those who had booked tours (we didnt do any tours) and a chance to get out into the sun.

 

Here ends Part 1, I will write Part 2 tomorrow :)

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Welcome home Whoey and Girl05

 

Glad to hear you both had a great time.

 

I saved some cruise cam photos of your sailaway and if you want me to email them to you I will.

 

Kazza

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I'm enthralled by your review.

Very well done, stating the facts, and giving us Virgin Cruisers hints and tips. So much we want to know.

Looking forward to what you did did in Wala as we go there in a few weeks time, and I seem to be unable to find out much about it.

Pity we can't control "Mother Nature" but I guess that is the luck of the draw.

Thanks for a good read,

Val

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Noumea

 

Noumea is often described as the worst port for any cruise. This is mostly due to the fact the city where the ship docks is dirty, ugly, unfriendly and quite expensive! Luckily for most passengers there are quite good tours available for Noumea such as Amedee Island and Petit Train to name a few. We did not hear of one complaint from people who did tours in Noumea, however others who filled their day with shopping and wandering the town complained greatly.

 

We got up early, looked out the window and were greatly relieved that one, the ship was no longer going up and down and two it was a sunny morning. We rushed down to breakfast, came back to the cabin and much sunscreening occured (a regular event). Grabbing our cruise cards we disembarked from Deck 5 Pursers area down a gangway.

 

There is a building with various baubles and sarongs, that kind of thing. Of which I honestly didn't see anybody buy anything. Maybe that was because we simply walked straight through past the variety of tours on offer. There were bikes that could be hired to ride around the city, we didn't investigate as on the advice of others here on the forum we made our way to Anse Vata beach area.

 

We jumped in two taxi's, there were 7 of us at this stage and paid about $15 Australian each cab for a 5 minute ride. Once at Anse Vata there is a water taxi that can take you over to one of about three small islands. As it was quite windy on the beach we decided to pay the water taxi fare - was $9 per adult and kids under 5 free. Once again it was only a 5 minute boat ride to the closest island.

 

The island had a dead coral beach and was very rough on the feet, luckily we all had beach shoes. There was hardly anyone there however it had large umbrella's and lots of plastic deck chairs :) The kids began swimming and the adults setup camp. Anyway after about 10 minutes some guy comes over from the other side of the island and told us it was about $35 PER DECK CHAIR and the umbrella would be extra. No mention of this charge was made when we booked the $9 pp water taxi - not happy Jan.

 

We moved all our gear off the deck chairs and sat in the sun on the hard coral, not much fun. There were literally 50 empty chairs on the island and if they charged a reasonable $10 or so per chair people would use them. Anyway we stayed about 1 hour here and got the water taxi back. Snorkelling on this island was the best thing about it because it is surrounded by excellent coral and a variety of fish.

 

Luckily the wind over at Anse Vata beach had died down so we swam there for about 2 more hours. The beach is very nice, soft clean sand, only a few people about. We enjoyed this time immensely. As always happens on a cruise, we got hungry and decided to head back to the ship. The time was about 1 pm and we had spent 3 hours at sunny beaches. We asked at the information hut about buses back to the city because we didn't really know where to get more taxi's and thought we had spent enough already. The information lady was quite helpful, which was surprising and refreshing after the expensive and unreasonable people on the small island. We ended up catching a bus back which took a winding course almost following the petit train in sections. The bus was $8 Aus for the 7 of us, a welcome change :)

 

After lunch, was the usual buffet up back of the ship, I stayed on board as the kids returned to their kids centres and one parent is suppose to stay onboard during kids centre time. My wife returned to the city and with some others they did a little shopping, a few souveniers.

 

As we had a late departure from Noumea of 11 pm, some of the Adults from our group had Dinner in town. It was expensive, weird french food and they were not very impressed, I am glad we didn't accompany them!

 

Isle of Pines

 

The next morning was Isle of Pines, our first Tendering experience. Once again after breakfast and excessive amounts of sunscreen we proceeded to Atlantis Lounge Deck 8 (lower level) to collect our Tender tickets. For some reason this was a fast process this day and we waited only 10 minutes from collection of tickets to sitting on a tender, we were greatly impressed. The ship anchored a considerable distance from the Isle of Pines and the Tender journey was about 15 minutes long, they seem to drive the Tenders extremely slow for some reason even in good weather. As we proceeded to the shore the sound system on the Tender was pumping out some favourite tunes, Sweet Caroline had everyone singing along and was followed by Delilah to which everyone joined in even more, was good fun.

 

Once we landed at the small jetty, it took a while to get off the Tender and even longer to get to shore as each group of passengers have their photo's taken (yawn). Eventually we found the others in our group and proceeded to the large black rock area. The kids loved this beach as it was once again very clean and quite shallow in a large area so they could play hassle free. I snorkelled around the murky waters surrounding the large black rock and found it to be dissapointing compared to the Noumea snorkelling the day earlier. My brother in law and I took off in search of better snorkelling, which we found right around the point, almost exactly opposite the jetty. The first beach is a large bay area and we went to the other end of it. The water was much clearer and we snorkelled for about an hour and a half in complete privacy, one of my pet hates with snorkelling amongst other passengers are all the elbows and fins one cops in the face. This empty beach area was truely awesome stuff, only 3 other people in the area for about 500 metres. Sunny day, clear water, beautiful sand, lapping waves, everything you could dream of for a great beach day.

 

My wife took the kids back to the ship for lunch and I came back later with my brother in law. I was qite tired from the walking and snorkelling, the weather was probably 28 or 29 degrees and over these first two port days I had got enough sun for a bit, so once again I stayed onboard for the kids clubs and my wife returned to the fantastic snorkelling spot with my brother in law.

 

That afternoon I watched the afternoon movie, was Dukes of Hazzard, I know I'm sad hehe, I was in the mood for out of the sun time and a couple of drinks in the airconditioned Terraces Lounge watching a movie appealed at the time.

 

Not much else to report on Isle of Pines, not many facilities to be found, I saw two toilet blocks and no market that I knew of. Isle of Pines in my opinion has the best beaches of our cruise and on par with Mystery Island if anyone reading this has been there. If your cruise goes to Isle of Pines prey for good weather as once ashore it really is everything you could want from a beach island, good shadey trees and swimming beaches plus excellent snorkelling. We also did not hear of anyone complaining from jelly fish here (some were found later in Wala).

 

Hienghene

 

Once again we had great weather at this port, it was drizzling but still quite warm with sunny breaks here and there. Most people went ashore here, I didn't. My wife walked the island up to the cultural centre and back. She returned to the ship very hot and commented how there was very little to do on the island. Its not a place you can swim, very dark water and rocks everywhere. There is only 1 shop and 1 market stall. Most people who went ashore looked around in confusion trying to work out where to go and what to do. Overall we rated this port as the worst because it was plainly boring. From the ship it does offer some lovely views of mountains, it reminded me of the island on the TV show LOST but without the beaches, just the mountains.

 

I don't have much to say about Hienghene, expect when we book our next cruise we will pick one without this port as there as so many other places the ship could go. It is the sort of place it would be nice to sail past like the Boulvari-Havanna Passage. I don't know why P&O made this place a Port as it is dead flat boring.

 

Vila

 

My favourite port. I love to shop, always have and Vila is like heaven to me. Lots of shops selling Island things like wooden everything and t-shirts plus hand painted bits and pieces. We bought our Duty Free here, at the last shop at the end of town. Our group had half a lobster and salad for $32 Aus, it wasn't cheap however the quality was excellent and we recommend El Gecko little cafe restaurant in the middle of town. The five of us spent $80 for lunch, it was a treat and we don't begrudge doing so. To be honest by this time we wanted a change from the same old lunch on the ship.

 

Some of our group did a variety of tours in Vila. Parasailing was apparently *unreal* or so my brother in law said. The Jet Boat ride was very exciting for the other children in our group however the parents said it wasn't as thrilling as they had hoped.

 

After shopping from 9:30 till 4 pm I finally hit one of Vila's garden bars for a well needed cold beer. The temperature was 30 - 32 degrees and the humidity was very high. After the drink my brother in law stripped off his shirt and walked a short distance down into the water for a swim. Vila was very friendly as many of the shop / stall owners gave our children little gifts and were honest and open people. It didn't matter if you bought off them they were simply nice people.

 

The taxi's are $10 from the ship to town and shuttle buses (run down old vans) are $2 per person and run all the time. Most of the vehicles are run down and there doesn't really seem to be any road rules as one of our drives spent more time on the wrong side of the road then the right one!

 

Vila is an exciting, beautiful place, we felt quite comfortable here with the children and enjoyed interacting with the locals, we even got our two girls hair breaded which was fun.

 

The shopping is not cheap by Bali standards where a t-shirt might cost $5 - #7 Aus in Bali the same shirt is $10 - $15 in Vila and the shop owners don't seem to haggle much. I did my best anyway and got some good prices on a few items :)

 

Wala

 

Once again the next morning we anchored a surprisingly short 500 odd metres from the beaches of Wala. Wala is a small island best guess is twice the size of Mystery Island, nestled in a group of longer islands, it's kind of like being in a canal or large river system. I do a fair amount of swimming for fitness and I could easily have swum from Pacific Sun tender area to the shore.

 

Anyway, Wala has a small market that accepts Australian dollars. Most of the items are 90% the same as the other Ports so nothing much stood out to buy, especially after all day shopping at Vila. The people were friendly and offer a free, yes you read it right, a free cultural tour of the island. Some people in our group did the tour and said it was quite good. As it was another hot day and someone found jelly fish at the beach we limited our childrens exposure to sun and jelly fish and only swam in the morning, returned to the Ship about 12:30.

 

Wala was good to swim, parts are quite rocky and unaccessable. There really are only two main beaches one left of the jetty and one right. The right side contained the Jelly Fish and the left didn't, go figure. Some people snorkelled out around the point and said it was as good as Isle of Pines in regard to the Black Rock area.

 

Wala is small however it is again very pretty and we hit it for another unbelievable beach day. The people were again friendly and honestly seemed interested in welcoming passengers. I think P&O will stick with Wala for some time to come as everyone found something appealing about the place from cultural tour, people in traditional dress, smiles, good snorkelling and some good swimming (not much though as the beach area is the smallest of all the other ports we did). Wala in size reminded me of Mystery Island but with a little less swimming area.

 

Departing Wala needs a mention as the ship slowly goes backwards then turns around. The locals return to their homes on the other longer islands and the ship was surrounded by little rowboats full of waving hands and smiling faces.

 

Wala is a very inviting place and the extremely short tender distance made the process very quick. We highly recommend Vila. Importantly as it was our last Island stop it left everyone content with their beach / snorkelling time and if you hadn't got enough souveniers it offered one last chance to get a sarong or hand painted wooden thingy-ma-bob !

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what a great review. thanks for spending your time to do it. As i havent been yet and will be going to a lot of the same places it has given me so much information. except for a few bad days (weather wise) your cruise seems to have been great. Will you cruise again?

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Whoey,

 

This is a fabulous review and chock full of information for cruise newbies. You are taking a lot of time and effort to write it all up and it is very much appreciated.

 

Thanks heaps,

 

Jenny:)

>^..^<

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Isn't it funny how we all perceive things differently. I had heard that about Noumea too, but I liked the port and didn't find it dirty, ugly or unfriendly. Hubby was different, he wasn't that keen on the port. The people weren't over friendly either though, just indifferent to travellers. I would go back there again. The only thing is I wish the taxis and buses would go right down to the boat and that the locals would interact more with us, it would be neat to at least try out some French.:eek: :eek: :eek:

 

On all our three trips there were people moaning and complaining about just about everything on the ship and like you said, I stopped listening to them too. I don't know why they bother leaving home.:mad: If there were problems I found them minor and if something needed sorting out the pursers were more than happy to sort it.:)

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Whoey

 

Excellent review a lot of time and thought put into it, thankyou.

 

Definetly have to agree about Hienghene, the place has nothing going for it unless you do some sort of tour, I went there in July last year for the Suns first visit and after the ceremony with the Tribal Chiefs we spent about 1/2 hr there and then went back to the ship, but other passengers that went on tours (not P&O Tours)that the locals offered came back and said the place was great.:o

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Good review Whoey,I don't pick Noumea now either,I can't wait for isle of pines now,thanks for the tip in snorkelling.It will take a lot to beat Mystery. We will see!!! What was the ship like? Wear and Tear etc

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Isn't it funny how we all perceive things differently. I had heard that about Noumea too, but I liked the port and didn't find it dirty, ugly or unfriendly. Hubby was different, he wasn't that keen on the port. The people weren't over friendly either though, just indifferent to travellers. I would go back there again. The only thing is I wish the taxis and buses would go right down to the boat and that the locals would interact more with us, it would be neat to at least try out some French.:eek: :eek: :eek:

 

On all our three trips there were people moaning and complaining about just about everything on the ship and like you said, I stopped listening to them too. I don't know why they bother leaving home.:mad: If there were problems I found them minor and if something needed sorting out the pursers were more than happy to sort it.:)

 

Yeah we didn't find Noumea sa bad as everyone said but we went back over after havng lunch and hit siesta time - this was very daunting, as hubby and I walked with 2 young children and all the islanders are all sitting on the sidewalk watching you. Apparently 1 of the passengers had an attepted mugging - but all was sorted somehow with other passengers stepping in too help. We didn't find it smelly or dirty though!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I,m back today too from N607 had a wonderful time ...... .but.....

glad to be home.........

my 4th cruise the 3rd with P & O and i can see quite a change in service and activities with it now owned elsewhere.

:rolleyes: and Wala was my favourite place........ beautiful people........

beautiful island......

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Coming home was definately better then the first few at sea days because the weather was sensational. From Wala we sailed home to Sydney over three days arriving the fourth morning. As most people had spent the majority of the first few days indoors, there was much sunbaking and poolside time spent leisurely enjoying the gentle roll of the sea and soft breezes.

 

We enjoyed the second formal night during this time and it was the Captains Dinner including Captains Club Cocktail party for past passengers. As this was our second cruise we attended this function. It ran from 5 - 5:45 with free cocktails and glasses of champagne and wine on offer. The drinks ran from 5 - 5:30 with a 15 minute pep talk by Captain Roger Bilton. The captain is an approachable genuinely nice person, he spent time with the kids clubs groups as well and was always willing to find time for photo's and a brief chat. We both enjoyed the Captains Club Cocktail party and will definately attend the next time we cruise. Was nice to get a free drink or two and discuss cruising in general with other experienced cruisers. Its only a simple get together but as everyone is in their formal wear it certainly had a nice feel to it.

 

We used both pools during this period and I would like to comment on both seperately. The pool at the back of the ship, near the Outback Bar & Grill, is very small. I expected it to be dissapointing, however on one hot afternoon we cooled off in this pool with the kids and found it not only refreshing but good fun. As the pool is very shallow, I think it is only 1.3 metres deep, our children could stand up on their own and this made for a relaxing time for us as we didn't have to hold them like we do in most pools. The salt water is clean but very hard on the eyes and tastes pretty aweful. Once you get use to keeping the water out of your eyes, this is a good pool to simply cool down in.

 

The Lido midship pool with the waterslide is similar in that the salt water once again is just as irritating, however it does offer more entertainment. The slide is really good fun, we saw lots of different people using it. It doesn't run all the time and is monitored closely by staff as it clearly a potential safety risk, especially if used inappropriately.

 

The slide is pure fun and everyone who tried it seemed to love the ride, although the dunking into the salty water left lots of red eyes and especially lungs full of water, coughing spluttering etc. This sounds bad but to be honest its part of the ride and once you got use to it, wasn't really a big deal. The fun element and comraderie as you climb the steps again with the people around you is really cool. We had people in our group go down sideways and back to front, upside down etc. Our kids liked it too, children's heights are measured against some measure and if short they must be accompanied down the slide by a parent or guardian. My seven year old was just (like 1 inch) short so people in our group took turns taking her down the slide. It didn't matter as she had a great time. Our youngest girl, recently turned three, she loved the slide. Cried a little bit when she was dunked however after a minute or so was soon up those steps to go again.

 

As the weather was better sailing home, the sea days found the ship very full. What I mean to say is all the passengers seemed to come out of their cabins and spend time doing the activities and or lazing on the deck. Lunchtime buffet was especially busy. Most people seem to skip the sit down lunch in the restaurants, maybe this is because most take Breakfast there and also Dinner. The buffet food is plentiful as you would expect with moderately long waiting lines (5 - 10 minutes on average). Our group discovered the hamburgers cooked fresh out near the back pool and off to one side. We soon all began to eat the hamburgers as you could line up for under 5 minutes to get one and it was literally cooked in front of you. The other thing to remember is after a full breakfast and 5 course Dinner, lunchtime we didn't feel like a full plate of cooked food. We began the cruise mostly eating the salads and fresh fruit for lunches, we tended to skip the hot eatery as we simply didn't feel like it. Once we discovered the hamburgers they suited our hunger and desire for food perfectly. They comprise, fresh bun, 1 beef pattie, 1 cheese slice and pre-prepared lettuce, tomato and onion I think. The other good thing to say about the hamburgers is they are simple regular food and as the Dinners are quite diverse it was good to have normal food that wasn't going to make us ill.

 

We had near perfect weather the last day sailing back to Sydney and everyone was busy enjoying their last chance to get some sun and or swim. They shows over the last few days were quite good, we saw the Pacific Sun dancers twice and enjoyed the shows. We did see G'day G'day which was interesting but we didn't think it was as good as the previous shows. We spent the majority of the last sea day packing as our room was a bit of a mess by then with 5 of us living in it. There was a lot to organise and towards the end we simply stuffed the cases full because it was faster and there was a strong urge to get up on deck. We enjoyed the slide one last time and also used the spa's to relax, was a good way to finish off a week of near perfect weather :)

 

The last Dinner saw the usual Bomb Alaska fanfare and all the passengers congratulated the chefs, maitre de and cooks etc with much genuine appreciation. Was a great mood to finish off and that night was the Passenger Talent show which we skipped and spent time up on deck looking at the stars and enjoying our group company over a few relaxing drinks with a very gentle evening breeze.

 

Earlier we say the Fractured Moments show which I was looking forward to as I am a bit of a movie buff. We all enjoyed the show, as it is passengers performing the content is quite simple, mostly dancing but it is entertaining and a really good laugh. Overall we found the shows quite worthwhile excluding those clearly aimed at the older age groups.

 

They kids talent show was held on the last sea day. Each of the Kids Clubs run some short skits or dancing / singing events. This was a lot of fun and our kids enjoyed it a lot. It's very simplistic and if you don't know any of the kids it would probably be perceived as boring. Earlier that day was a cooking demonstration with Demo hosting (Cruise Director) and Fabio - Maitre De and the German head chef (I cannot recall his name), hamming it up to the crowd. Was genuinely funny and I highly recommend this, not to be missed !

 

Disembarkation

 

The dreaded day to go home arrived and we enjoyed our last breakfast in the restaurant. The kids were all asking to go to their clubs and genuinely did not want to leave the ship. They had experienced no seasickness and had an absolutely fantastic holiday, made a few friends, that sort of thing. After breakfast we relaxed in the Terraces Lounge chairs awaiting our group to be called for disembarkation. Your baggage is tagged with a group code such as Gold One or White One or Blue One / Two etc etc. Once called you leave via the Pursers Desk Deck 5 gangway exit. Customs was extremely simple, the only hard part here was locating our bags from the hundreds of others within our Blue One group. We didn't have anything to declare besides alcohol we purchased and it was literally 5 minutes after collecting the bags to being on the other side in the Public area of the terminal.

 

I won't comment on travelling home to Melbourne from there, except to say it is wise to book flights with enough time just in case the ship arrives late on disembarkation day. We had no issues here.

 

Well, thats about it... I could talk in general about many aspects of the ship and that sort of thing if anyone wants to know. Yes, the Smugglers Lounge, Legends Bar and Casino are still smoke filled areas. Our group played the pokies a bit mostly on the nights when we didn't want to go to the show and the weather up to was no good. I won some money then gave it back... the usual scenario. Your clothes will smell strongly of smoke if you do go to the Casino for any extended time. We didn't go to the Smugglers Lounge and or Legends Bar once, occasionally we went to the SpeakEasy lounge for a drink, although the oldies who like listening to the piano complain when people speak in the SpeakEasy lounge... its weird!

 

Drinks are moderately expensive, such that a big night drinking will put a hole in your cruise card balance. We didn't drink much, I hit it hard the first night, felt terrible on Sea Day One, so decided to moderate my drinking from there on. Personally I think it is stupid to drink so much that the next day is a write off, effectively wasting the next day is a waste of money and opportunity for fun plus expensive due to the drinks money the night before.

 

Someone asked in this thread what we thought of the ship, condition wise and cleanliness. We genuinely found the ship in good condition or to be precise in as good a condition as is practical. When you realise the ship rarely stops anywhere for more then 1 day the external painting and rust removal work is a constant task. There is always someone on deck or hanging off the side of the ship cleaning, cleaning and painting, painting. Pacific Sun is 20 years old this year, for her age the ship is in quite good condition. Machanically of course, who knows. It appears to be quite reliable, we had a stuck anchor once which they solved in about 15 minutes. We also had forward thrusters blocked or clogged with seaweed or something, which they also fixed in under 30 minutes. The crew gives a very confident impression. Yes, there were the odd strange and occasionally offensive smell, some blocked toilets were fixed, that sort of thing. You get the impression there really isn't much this crew haven't dealt with before and this is quite reassuring.

 

About the crew, from the stewards / cabin boy to the cleaners, to the pool staff to the bar staff to the restaurant staff to the security staff to the bridge crew, all seemed competent and most were excellent, they focused on their work and or assisting passengers if required. Some have poor english but always offer a smile and are very polite. Some definately go out of their way to make things special and or memorable, these are the ones we tipped a little extra, most passengers do tip at the end of the cruise. We had no complaints about the crew, in fact they are probably the hardest working people you will ever meet. It's hard to find fault in someone who works a much longer day they we do here in Australia, at least that is how we look at it. Yes, they do make mistakes and don't always understand what we say to them, so what, deal with it!

 

I better shut up now, I hope you enjoyed reading my review

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