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mystte

Review N626 Pacific Sun

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At last, I am feeling guilty and worried I may forget details as it has all gone by in a whirl!! It was the most amazing experience and one that has done me a world of good as I was so worn out and tired before I got on board and now everyone at work including my partner says I have become my old self again.

I totally encourage people to go on a cruise especially if, like myself. you need to rest and relax. And that is just what I did - I don't know where the time went???? It all seemed to slip by and yet I wonder what I actually did on that cruise, as I didn't participate in too many activities and yet each day just sped by - on the last day we were both saying we wish we could have another couple of days!!

Firstly we boarded at Darling Harbour, we had stayed in Sydney for a couple of nights and had had a lovely time walking around and catching a ferry to Watson's Bay to Doyles for lunch. That was definately worth it.


It was about $7 or $8 taxi fare to Wharf 8 and the drver knew exactly where to go as one would assume. He drpped us off at the front and we dragged those horribly overloaded suitcases in to find that we should deposit them to the left of the building in what I could only term as a large warehouse. We checked everything was tagged and proceeded back inside to stand in a very long queue. It was about 12.30pm.

The ship looked so enormous and elegant to say the least, it really was quite beautiful.

It was a little wait until they started processing us through but there were sooo many people waiting and one of the staff was telling people at the end to not waste their time waiting and to come back in an hour!!! As if anyone would do that when we are eagerly awaiting getting on - I certainly wasn't going anywhere but on that ship!!!

Went through scanner and my partner was told he had alcohol in his bag - interesting that it comes up. He had a few stubbies left when we left the apartment and one was still in his backpack. I remembered and apologised as we had forgotten and left it. The guy there asked what it was and then said if that's all it is then go ahead take it onboard as he feels we really should be able to take what we want. I was amazed and quite grateful to find someone so understanding.

Went through all the official stuff of cards, credit cards, sorting out duty free etc and onto the ship.

Up a few flights of stairs and onto Empress deck. I vowed I would not take one lift on board and I didn't not even when we disembarked all loaded up. I am totally glad I did as I actually don't think I put on any weight as we really walked- it's a long way from front to back and bottom to top:D

Our cabin was at the back portside E194. We was totally surprised and delighted when we walked in as we had no high expectations and I was expecting something to not be quite right. Totally the opposite!

Everything was so clean and organized but maybe that had something to do with being in a top deck as the previous owners would have been one of the first to leave. I once dropped a pen between the bed and wall, a very narrow space and baulked at having to retrieve it because of dust etc - surprise! It was totally dustfree and VERY clean. Bathroom like one would imagine in a caravan but bigger, enough for one person at a time.
Which reminds me a good thing to bring is a deodorant spray which works like room freshener, my partner was grateful I had brought it:D

We had a four bunk bed and the 2 lower were made up into one large bed. THe only criticism I have is that the mattresses kept slipping apart and Ross would end up sleeping on my side, a tight squeeze. Room aircon we turned down and never needed extra blankets although they were provided. I bottle of water and ice were waiting on the bureau. Lots of wardrobe space especially as it was designed for 4 people. I was delighted.

I really enjoyed having a window as often I would sit on the ledge and just look outside. On our last night we had a thunder storm and the lightening was amazing to watch from bed.

Luggage arrived soon after but we headed off to explore. Now if you all recall, P&O said thee was no lunch on board for the first day but I dragged poor Ross around to find it - all he wanted was to sit and enjoy his beer! I wanted to see what the deal is about with the food and I found it in the outback grill. Little rolls made up, sandwiches, I can't remember everything as most of the time a was recording on camcorder! It was so good as we were a bit hungry.

It was really nice sailing under the Sydney harbour bridge and we stayed up on board until we passed the heads, it was so nice but a bit chilly. For those leaving while weather is still cool do wrap up. I get cold very easily.
Went down to unpack - boy did I take a lot of clothes but I really didn't know what I would need.

Next we came up to the Legends bar for a pre dinner drink and off to dinner in the Burgundy Room at 8.15. Met our really lovely waiters - Jojo and Rick, and our new table companions. One thing I will say is that they couldn't have picked better companions for us if they were hand picked.

We really enjoyed eachothers company and after a few nights said that none of us wants to try the outback grill steakhouse because we wee having so much fun together. We didn't often see eachother during the day unless we were in the same place at the same time but the evening were hilarious with each of us relating our fiascals to the others.

The waiters were really great and the service impectable. Rick was still young and he was learning party tricks from the other waiters and would try them out on us and it was sooooo much fun so we wee always the last to leave.


Dinner on the first night we chose a rib eye steak but it wasn't what we expected, as it really wasn't a steak more like roast beef and therefor a disappontment, the wine we chose we didn't enjoy and so our meal was just ok. That was fine as we didn't know what to expect. But progressively night by nigt we chose more wisely, asking the waiters opinion if needed. On the 1st nigt in all the excitement you don't really see the menu.

After that we would have all the course - I always had soup, then entree as they are tiny, main course sometimes with added fries (I'm allowed indulgences on holidays!!!!) Ross always added a salad or steamed vegetables etc. Sometimes just cheese and biscuits or often we preferred just plain vanilla icecream - I don't know where they get it from but it was fabulous, and we don't eat desert!!!!:D

Off to the show where they welcomed us on board but we came quite late and missed half of it. Demo was the cruise director hand he is quite a laugh. I can see why some people get offended by his jokes although he always apologise - no stone is left unturned and he is a bit risque. I loved his jokes and loved watching other peoples expressions. We often sat together as a group but sometime we found our own perfect perch on the window sill on the RHS, that way we could see everything!

Some of the other guests were Dave Burke and Morgan Kent and they were fantastic. Dekada was the band we followed around most nights as I prefer live band to DJ. We sat in the speakeasy bar some nights before dinner for cocktails.

I learnt to drink cocktails!! Ross tried mine and found it so refreshing that in no time the two of us were sipping the cocktail of the day each day. It was so much fun!

Normally we would get up I would insist on checking out the breakfast buffet. I always made my tiny concoction of cereal and Ross would have his bowl of fruit and tub of yoghurt. Sometimes I might try a small sample of what they would serve in the hot buffet and then we would waltz off to the dinig room for our 2nd breakfast:D .

Here Ross would usually have his omelet and I might try whatever they had as the special of the day. I had eggs benedict one day but didn't realize I could have asked for one egg only, bacon on the side - when it arrived I groaned!!! I just ate half if at that. Try the omelets as they are very good.

Lunch we would do the same check the buffet then off to the dining. Even managed a couple of times to sit on our own, just sometimes you don't want to have to talk to otherpeople.

The waiters were lovely but you really could see the difference in service between these 2 meals and the sevice at dinner - it didn't compare. Here it seemed more casual laidback and even sometimes more of I could care less attitude or hurry up...

We tried the afternoon tea twice and were disappointed, service was bad, some tables were served better than others. What I would do is take a few rolls etc from lunch and put in them into a zip lock bag for Ross to consume in the late afternoon, he usually got peckish about that time whereas I was still full from lunch. This way we got to go back to the cabin and try to watch a bit of the movie we may have started earlier on in the day and have a bit of a rest.

Unless of course there were dance lessons!
They were hilarious and lots of fun. I don't think we did much else apart from that.

What we would do is sit outside in a warm place that wasn't too windy then go for a walk drink a cocktail, go for more walks, eat something, go for a walk drink another cocktail.... can you see how busy we were!!!!:D
It's a hard life... now I am tired. I will try to write some more tomorrow

Luci

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Hi Mystte. Give us moreeeee. You are doing a great review. Feel as though I am There. I am soooo glad you had a great cruise. How was the flight from Melb? How many suit cases did you take and do you know the weight you are allowed including Carry-On? We will be flying Quantas. Waiting for your next part. Suexxx:)

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Hi Luci,

Was Morgan Kent an guest entertainer or was he part of the cruise staff? We have had him on a previous cruise as cruise staff. I found him to be a little bit sleazy. He did a good impersonation of Rod Stewart though.

Cheers,
Chaz:)

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Hmm.. I can see why, I think that he may be a little, it comes across in his personality, I think it would be hard to get up there and put on sych a big ego...

Yes he was a guest entertainer, and he was good, great voice. I think the entertainers were great.

Dave Burke was an older gentleman and he was excellent, it was his last show also as he is retiring, he would have to be in his seventies!

Suexxx, the flight was good, i just hate being loaded up, my fault so no one to blame. When I went to Europe a few years ago I managed on 16kilos - this time my suitcase had about 21k, Ross had same, we took a suitbag loaded, overnight bag of 6k, backpack and a large tote - tooooo much!!!

It's just that I like to be prepared. I took magazines and didn't even open one. I took everything but the kitchen sink. I left the hairdryer behind, thank god as I just cut my hair and from reviews the dryer might be fine for short layered hair, and it was. I took a travel iron didn't use.

Bought a clothesline at airport and that was great as Ross strung it up from hooks near bathroom onto handle of one of bunks so if we washed anything or neeeded to air out it was good. Little embarrassing when you wash out underwear and it drops on floor of shower then steward picks up and hangs up etc - they are such dears. We tried to keep cabin as tidy as possible - I hate mess but some of the cabins we walked past were really messy, hard for the stewards.

Some of the others had animals made up from towels and one even had one made up from a dress she threw on the bed when she changed, she was a little embarrassed. I heard of chocolates on pillows but we never got anything like that but the service was impeccable.

It's hard on them our steward and his wife work 10 months on the ship and then go home to visit their 11 year old, what a life! Sometimes you just got to do it. Our waiter had a 4 year old conceived on board! She lived with his mother and he really missed her. It must be so hard.

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Great review mystte. Cant wait to read the rest! Glad u had such a great time on your cruise! I plan on doing nothing but relaxing also. Hope our holiday will be as great as yours!:)

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Hi Mysste,

We were in E193 in June (you said you had E194) and we had Burgundy Restaurant, table 36 with JoJo as our waiter. Which table were you at?

Was your steward Gerard? Aren't the stewards great?

Glad you had a lovely time.

Jenny
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loved reading your review, glad you also enjoyed your time in sydney.
have you booked the next one yet???

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[quote name='mystte']

It's hard on them our steward and his wife work 10 months on the ship and then go home to visit their 11 year old, what a life! Sometimes you just got to do it. Our waiter had a 4 year old conceived on board! She lived with his mother and he really missed her. It must be so hard.[/quote]



Hi, what is the name of your waiter?

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Name of steward was Sastro and he was just gorgeous and our waiter was Jojo and he was a gem, he has worked there for quite a while and he is so efficient - when I do another cruise I will be soooo delighted to get him again.

On the first morning both of us felt a bit nauseous, I had taken some kwells earlier and continued in the morning, had something to eat and was fine. Traipsed around the ship looking through all the nooks and crannies and marvelling that we were actually out there.


Met our fellow dinner guests that night and we couldn't have hand picked them better. For the rest of the cruise we eagerly awaited dinner as the company was fantastic, the waiters could not be faulted and the food seemed to get better and better. Had a tour of the galley one day and it is enormous!!

There's so much to do on board yet we didn't do too much, just took it easy and wandered around. Yet every moment was filled, we just kept running out of time.

First stop was Lifou and we didn't get our tickets till after breakfast - yes I know you all said there would be a queue and well there was!! Didn't get off til 1.00!! No matter we had lunch on board, took the tender - very easy and headed towards the island.

Looking at the old church on the hill trying to decide whether wwe would make it to the top and have time for swimming - hahaha - its only 15 min walk, it looked so far!

Went snorkelling and it was lovely. Some of our new friends took a snorkelling tour and were disappointed cause when they came to the place near to where we landed and tried the snorkelling there, they preferred this place. I heard the tour of the vanilla plantation was good.

Listened to the locals singing, bought some jewellery at the market then"queued????' up for a kebab. No one seemed to know how much the locals were charging, they had this basic bbq set up but had no idea how to sell their goods, it was so funny as they spoke no English but someone said it was $3 for a kebab, but who do we pay and we all gathered sround them eagerly. I hope it lasts a while as it really was delightful as commercialism isn't rife yet. Also funny to see how people would take the kebab, straight off the hotplate, fingers had been touching them, a homemade sauce that had probably been sitting out there all day was brushed onto it and a piece of breadstick stuck on the end - even if it fell off onto the ground the customers were very sympathetic and took it with such good grace. Funny we just don't see that anymore yet out there we accept it, I did and it was really tasty!

Port Vila was next stop. we caught the bus there $3 each, into town and went shopping. People so lovely! As my partner wears a bandana he searched for one and some of the ladies were eagerly offering to cut up sarongs and make it for him.

The duty free shop everyone talks of was great for alcohol so I bought our limit. Some other things were just a bit too expensive for my taste!
We didn't take a tour but when we returned some of the tours sounded great so I would suggest one there, lagoon, snorkelling etc or even get a driver and get tour of island for about $50!

Instead we headed to Iririki for some quiet time and some lovely wine with a selection of tapas and serenaded? by a local group. It was lovely. Then we decided to get some exercise and walk back. So many drivers pulling over or flashing lights to see if we wanted a lift. We actually wanted to walk and see the area. My feet swelled up as I walked in thongs.

Ouvea - HEAVEN. Onto island quite early as no one had booked tours so there was no preference. Got onto the back of a ute the usual $3 into the village. The other 2 guys who shared said the driver was going to take them further to the local "pub" so we decided that would be fun. Just an old tin shed but it was closed. The beaches were amazing, just like you see in postcards and the water was warm after you got in. THe sand was almost white and sooo fine not like here. I think everyone was amazed as some people we spoke to had enquired about accommodation on the island as they would like to return.

There was a township further along and those that went said it was quite set up what with a supermarket etc. We stopped by the hut that advertised diving as the woman there had set up a shelter much like a gazebo with tables and chairs, rooms to let, showers and toilets. Nothing to catch your eye at first but so amazing as she is right on the beach with all these facilities, even her Fax machine!!! You can get ice cold drinks and beer here but there are no signs, we just looked at what others were doing. Then we just walked back through the village and back to the ship. This was our favourite destination. One couple asked a driver to take them to a snorkelling place and paid him for a round trip but were stranded as he didn't return!

One word - something I would most definately do next time would be to brush up on my French. Thee is very little English spoken on both Lifou and Ouvea. I managed to ask a little girl her name in French and was delighted she understood and somehoe I communicated with the woman selling beer as she offered to exchange my francs back to dollars for me. I wouldn't worry too much with local currency unless I went into town.

Also I heard you can get a driver here also to take you around for about $20 app. They are happy to please and it's so funny to see them driving in their French cars which most of us here would deem expensive!!

What more can I say. It was fantastic.
Too short, a few extra days would have been great. Would pack less as didn't see people get too dressed up.
We also had 3 theme nights - Country and western, Island, and rock and roll - I have covered those elsewhere on this board.

I may yet think of more...

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Again a great review Mystte. Can you tell me how you got to Irriki Is and back etc. Thanks.

kerri

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Just got our computer working again and I must say I actually felt and remembered all that you speak of when I read your review. Thank you, I have a long wait for my next dose of relaxed cruising.

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[quote name='kezza']Again a great review Mystte. Can you tell me how you got to Irriki Is and back etc. Thanks.

kerri[/quote]

Hi Kerri,

There is a little "ferry" that shuttles people over to Irriki. When we went a few years ago it was free.

Cheers,
Chaz:)

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Yes there was a ferry and it's still for free, actually more like a small boat and looks a bit dilapidated! But it got us thee and back at no cost as Iririki runs the boat I think. Nice not to have to pay:)

I did take photos but not many, will try put them on or will ask for help from daughter. I can do some things but sometimes get frustrated and she is so much quicker. I took a lot of video with camcorder.

As for another cruise most definately, just don't know when and where. We might join the others on the Dawn yet, or Asia, even looking at cruise / flight options and go further as some of those prices are pretty amazing! I know then we have the currency exchange and once you start tipping and paying for alcohol in US$ it can add up a bit.

My partners parents just returned from the Alaskan Passage on the Norwegian Wind and they had a ball! Weather was around 30 degrees - amazing! Alcohol was expensive, I think around US$35 a bottle of wine and that can add up as we got one every night:D

Another thing I will mention, we stayed at the back of the ship and a few morning at around 6am we would be awoken by a really loud noise, we were told that that was the stabilizers coming out! It really was LOUD! One night it was the same as we went to bed it was so loud, that could have been when we passed through the Havana Passage and yes, due to this board I was aware that I should see what it's all about so we went up on deck, hardly anyone there and it was beautiful as passed so close to land. Stayed up about half hour but it was quite chilly, next time I would stay longer but it really was amazing. I think the stabilizers were out at that stage possibly and the ship was going really slowly, I don't know but there was a lot of rattling going on!

So one thing I learnt is that it can be noisy at the back!!

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Thanks for the info Chaz and Mystte, now another question about Iririki. We abouts did you catch the ferry from and is it worth a trip over there. We are thinking of not doing any tours in Vila so this maybe a great place to head to.

Kerri

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There is a hotel resort or something next to the landing spot. As you head towards town you will see Iririki's cabins that overlook the water, they stand out and pretty much opposite that is an empty block of land where the boat pulls up and you can board, Just ask the driver it's easy and quite obvious if you're looking for it.

As for is it worth it - well, if you don't want a tour and are happy to sit around at a resort, look over the water, be entertained by local musicians and eat good food and drink good wine... well yes it's great, we weren't the only one's from the ship there so thee were a few like minds.

On the other hand I heard the tours were particularly good... next time I might take a morning tour, head into town for duty free alcohol and then drop into Iririki for a bite to eat, not necessarily in that order:)

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Was wondering if anyone notices:)

I work evenings so don't get home till 11 or 12 sometimes, can't unwind too quickly so I get on the computer for a "little" while:D

It's an easy way to unwind and this site has been so fabulous - I just need to go on another cruise!!

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