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Another Pacific Star R631 Review


Rallo

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Week Fantastique 23-30 September 2006

Pacific Star

Part 1

Saturday 23 September 2006

Embarkation etc

We arrived at the new terminal around 9.30am – there were people everywhere – some embarking, a lot disembarking and waiting for taxis etc. We had no idea where to go or what to do. We saw a line of people queuing to go into a marquee so we thought we’d join that line. Meanwhile hubbies were taking the cars over to Priority Carpark where they were stored undercover for the week for $80. They could have got a free shuttle bus back to the terminal but were told it wasn’t leaving for an hour so they walked back out to the main road and grabbed a cab. After standing in one queue for 15 minutes or so we were directed over to another queue in front of a sign saying baggage check-in. This moved fairly quickly and our bags were taken from us and we were given a card with a number on it and a health questionnaire to fill in and told to go and have a coffee or something and wait until our number was called for boarding. So far so good. About an hour later after we had been up to the observation deck and had a look at our ship and snapped a couple of photos and been reunited with our men our number was called and we had to go and join a queue inside the terminal where there was a long desk set up for P&O check in with about 10 or so staff on duty. These lines moved very slowly but eventually we made it to the desk where we handed over our credit card details and received our cruise cards. No surprise upgrades unfortunately.:( Into another queue for the x-raying machine then up some stairs to the customs officers who checked our passports. Next was a stop at the TRS counter to claim back the GST on our purchases (these ladies were very nice). Along a corridor where we were told to put all our hand luggage down against the wall and to move away so the little beagle dog could do his thing. This is nerve racking even though you know you’re not carrying anything you shouldn’t. Next stop was the ship photographer for a quick embarkation snap. Along another corridor and across an open air walkway then into a tunnel to join another queue. So close now but one more queue to deal with – very hot and stuffy in there. At the front of the queue we had to insert our cruise cards into a machine and have our picture taken for security reasons. We were on!!:D What an exhausting procedure. It was about 12 o’clock I think by this stage so we found our cabin and dumped our hand luggage, met our cabin steward who gave us a rundown of a few things then made our way up to the Lido Buffet for some lunch. After a little rest it was back down to the cabin to get things unpacked and dewrinkling before heading back upstairs to watch us cast off. The ship started pulling away about 2.15pm so she was on time for the first time for awhile. We watched from the front of the Verandah deck as we sailed under the Gateway Bridge at exactly 3.00pm. Passenger Emergency Drill was at 4.00pm and then it was time to get ready for pre-dinner cocktails in the Piano Bar followed by the show “Love the Nightlife” which was fantastic and then dinner at 8.00pm. Unfortunately the long day started to catch up with me and I got a bad headache which made me feel nauseous so I wasn’t able to enjoy dinner that night although I forced as much in as I could. The bread and soup went down well. An early night for me and the girls that night but hubby enjoyed a few quiet drinks with a few others from our group until midnight or so.:)

*My tip for embarkation would be to not get to the terminal too early - we got caught up in the confusion of the disembarking passengers. 11.00am would be early enough I think.

Part 2 to come shortly - I'll try to not waffle on so much!:o

Sherrie

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Part 2

Day 2 on our floating Hotel and the sea legs are getting steadier. I awoke feeling quite refreshed after a good night’s sleep – which is very unusual for me in strange beds. But 6 out of the 7 nights I slept quite well and we all even slept in until after 9 o’clock one morning – which is amazing for our family, especially my husband who is a notorious early riser. But those dark inside cabins are great for sleep-ins! Breaky was either in the Lido Buffet or the Bordeaux Restaurant and I forgot to mention in Part 1 about the Anti-bacterial handwash which was ever present at all meal times and reboarding the ship at each port. They were very big on this which was fine by me – I didn’t want to get any nasty bugs to ruin my holiday! A staff member would stand at the start of the queues or at the door to the dining room and every set of hands was squirted. We participated in Team Trivia, my daughter went to the ear-ring making ($10.00), a lot of our group had a go at the golf putting and a few went through to the final but didn’t win anything. My sister did the art auction thing and bought a small lithograph. I looked in for awhile and it was quite interesting with a lot of lovely artworks on display. Bingo was also popular amongst our group especially on the last day when the jackpot snowballed to $3700 I think. I didn’t win anything but two people in our group had wins of $280 and $340. Formal night was lovely – so nice to dress up! Hubby even surprised me and packed his suit. The Captains Welcome party saw us all receive a cocktail (choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic) I think they were all non-alcoholic actually – very tame! A children’s dinner buffet was offered between 5.00-6.00pm at the Lido Café every night which my kids took advantage of quite often and then sometimes still came to the restaurant for something there as well. I wasn’t really very happy with the table seating arrangements for our group of 26, although they did have us all in the same area. Some were on tables with other people which made it difficult for us to swap around and dine with others in our group each night or to put all the kids together on one table, which is what they preferred. Didn’t do the show on day 2 – vocalist, Steve Wood. Cruise Director by the way was Michael Whitmore, a New Zealander, he was okay I suppose – I have no-one to compare him to. Deputy Cruise Director was Troy, a Canadian.

Part 3 shortly.

Sherrie

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After standing in one queue for 15 minutes or so we were directed over to another queue in front of a sign saying baggage check-in.

 

Hello again Rallo!

So pleased you are doing the warts & all review!

Hubby & I are sitting hear with mouths open going, "I don't believe it". Let's see...we were up on the observation deck sitting at a table, taking pics and waiting to get on board probably at the same time as you...we had 'B' boarding passes. Your story on boarding could have been written by us! We were probably next to each other in that first baggage queue. We had been directed there after looking lost & dazed in the throng of dis-embarking passengers...what chaos! However, we were not re-directed to the queue in front of the 'Baggage Collection' sign & when we got up to the lady giving out the boarding cards, she said she'd run out of 'B' cards & hadn't been given any 'C' cards and so ,"Sorry, it would have to be a 'D' card". We didn't know what the signifigance of all that was until we saw people being given "A" & 'B" cards at the other queue and being told they would be the first to board! I know it might sound petty, but those queues were not getting any shorter. A nice P&O guy who was handing out passes asked us if we needed any help and we queried the boarding system with him. He happily swapped our 'D' passes for 'B's. Was this a wrong thing to do? We didn't think so as we hadgot there so early (we'd been on the go from 4.30am)

We watched from the front of the Verandah deck as we sailed under the Gateway Bridge at exactly 3.00pm.

Now I'm wondering if you are in any photos of ours, as we were on the front of the verandah deck at sail time too. We were up there from when they cast off, turned around and went right under the bridge! I was amazed that there weren't more people up there. Anyway, I'm sure we crossed paths somewhere. Did you do the emergency drill in the Casino? We did.

 

I'm sorry you got a headache on the first night...we had an 'on & off' sick teenager, and no luggage for a while due to the confusion over our upgrade.

 

Keep it coming & I'll continue to compare those 'must have been there' moments!

 

Cheers

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Nerissa it sounds like we were "ships in the night"! Our emergency drill was in Club Bahia - the only time I went in there. You had 6.00pm dinner we had late so probably not too many times we may have crossed paths. We sat with an older couple and their two grandsons who were from Cairns at breakfast on the last morning maybe you met them as well?

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Part 3

 

Ports etc

 

We arrived at Noumea on time. The weather was overcast unfortunately. Perhaps if it had have been sunny we may have thought more of Noumea. We didn’t do any P&O tours but instead paid $15 each for an hour long guided bus tour around the city, past some bays and up to a couple of look-outs. A very funny English lady tour guide kept us entertained with her own style of commentary. After purchasing a couple of souvenirs from the market stalls set up at the wharf, watching a performance by the locals on the dock and taking some shots of the ship lit up at night we reboarded about 6.30pm and prepared for the night’s activities. The show tonight was “Shake Rattle & Roll” and the girls and I enjoyed it very much. The Pacific Star Entertainers and vocalists, Amanda Stella Webb and Ross John Burford did a great job all week. My daughters fell in love with a couple of the dancers.:rolleyes:

 

Next morning we were up early and breakfasted so we could get early tender tickets for Lifou. We were on a tender by 9.30am and my husband had to lug a big barrel bag full of 4 sets of flippers, goggles, snorkels and reef shoes. We also had four towels, sunscreen and cameras etc to carry. But after making our way over to Jinek Bay and into the quite cool water we all agreed it was worth the effort. Absolutely gorgeous coral reefs right on the shore with an abundance of colourful fish of all shapes and sizes. My daughter finally put her new waterproof camera to the test and it passed with flying colours. A few in our group also did the hair braiding thing at Lifou - $15-20. I trekked up the hill to visit the little church which was a bit of a test of the fitness levels:eek: but worth the effort as the view was quite lovely from up there. After heading back to the jetty and queuing up again for the tenders we were back onboard in time to grab some lunch before it closed at 3.00pm. Hot showers then before heading back upstairs. On that subject the shower was great – ours was always hot but some in our group had cold showers one day. The only problem we had was a blockage in the drain which flooded our whole bathroom. We informed the Steward the first time it happened and all he did was mop it up and replace the sopping towels we had used to try and soak it up with so of course it happened again the next day. This time the Steward called the plumber and he came and fixed the problem in about 15 minutes. Never had a problem after that and thought the shower terrific! Tonight’s show was “Dance” – another very entertaining hour before heading into dinner. Country & Western night but we didn’t dress up for it. The ship was doing a bit of rockin’ and rolling tonight and watching the water splash out of the pool on the Lido Deck was quite entertaining. The roughest night we had but still pretty tame compared to the stories of other people on here.

 

Next morning I was up early to watch us sail into Port Vila, quite warm already at 7 in the morning. When we got off the guys organised a couple of minibuses to drive us around all day for $150 per bus or $15 per head. We had ten in each bus and they were very rundown – no seatbelts and the vinyl on the seats was all cracked but our drivers were very nice and took us to the Cascade Waterfalls first where we were surprised to discover that it was $15 per adult and $7.50 per child to enter. Very nice scenery but we have just as nice here in Queensland for free so kinda regret going there. Next we went to a place called Tara Beach for lunch. A funny little set-up on the beach with an open air bar and restaurant and a little jetty that you could feed the fish off. A bit dear we thought. On the way back into town (those shops were beckoning) we detoured through a local village where there were pigs running all over the place and yams hanging everywhere. The buildings were very basic and there were little kids running everywhere waving at us and handing flowers through the windows – I think they wanted money but I didn’t know if we should or not. :confused: By the time we got back into town we only had two hours to shop :( before getting back to the ship so a mad dash was made around the shops in search of bargains. Fung Kuei definitely the best place for alcohol. My daughter bought a DVD which is not released yet for $19 but it plays up so I would advise avoiding those. Back to our luxury coaches ha ha and back to the wharf where we still had a little time to buy some last minute handicrafts from the markets before getting back onboard. Island night tonight and what a lot of fun dressing up. We had matching shirts so may have stood out a little. :D My daughters had a great time dancing the nutbush, the bus stop, the conga line and goodness knows what else.

 

Part 4 shortly.

Sherrie

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Part 4

Homeward Bound and Conclusions

Heading for home – the saddest part of the trip is that U-turn.:( I think it was after Island night that we slept in until after 9 o’clock – shocking! Late breakfast and skipped lunch but what a great opportunity to do afternoon tea. Scones were quite yummy. Caught the galley tour which was interesting to get a glimpse of behind the scenes. Marriage Match was very entertaining – how embarrassing! :o I’m glad I didn’t put our names down. Second formal night and isn’t the Baked Alaska on Parade followed by the napkin waving and chicken dance fun – a great night in the Bordeaux Restaurant. The show tonight was “G’day G’day” and I managed to drag hubby along to watch it. Another top show – I was actually crying when he sang “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and the little skit by the Pacific Star Entertainers at the end of the show was hilarious. Loved all four of the shows but didn’t go to any of the others – Vocalist, Ventriloquist, and Magician. The champagne waterfall is a lovely photo opportunity but couldn’t get hubby to stick around for it. Oh well at least I got him to a show which he enjoyed. The last day at sea was taken up with last minute shopping, packing and bingo. I had gathered every photo I could find of my family and put them into my formal portrait sleeve to decide on at the end. So many nice pictures – so expensive! Why don’t they make the photos a little more reasonable – they would sell heaps more and make more money instead of throwing all those lovely pictures away at the end of each cruise? :mad: The DVD is also a rip-off I think at $40. Getting off the ship was a lot easier than getting on. We had an early breakfast in the restaurant then vacated our cabin by 6.00am. Went up to the Lido Deck until our group was called – we were Black Group 2 and were called about 7.15am. Collected our luggage and then off to customs to have our wooden things checked and also had to open one of our suitcases which the scanners picked up something organic in. :eek: Decided it must have been a flower headband bought in Vila which was made of dried woven fronds or something. Anyway he let us go. Straight out to a waiting bus which took us to the Priority Parking facility where we collected our cars and hit the road home to the Gold Coast. We were home and unpacking by 9.30am.

We all agreed we had a great time and even those in our group who got seasick say they would go again. The kids enjoyed themselves and we hardly ever saw them. :D It was a pity the pool was drained for most of the week too. I think the drinks, photos and DVD are too expensive but overall it was a great holiday, although not restful - I, who never sleeps during the day, even fell asleep Saturday afternoon when we got home. Not used to 7 nights in a row past 11pm I suppose. I took too much stuff so will be better prepared next time.

Sherrie

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Sherrie, thanks for such a detailed review, especially the embarking and disembarking procedures at the new terminal. I'm glad to know the parking costs $80 for a week, now I won't consider that option. My husband will have to go straight from the cruise to work which is walking distance from the terminal. I'm a temp so don't know where I will be working then but if you guys got off by 7:30 that sounds good.

 

I also agree about overpriced photos. We might just get one, but otherwise, we will take our own. It's such a waste if they actually print them and throw them away, why don't they just show them to you in digital format, let people choose what they want? That would keep costs down as the price probably reflects all the wasted ones.

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Love reading all the review. We bought Harry Potter GOF in Jan for about the same price and it only worked till about 1/2 way through. Never again.

 

Is Jinek Bay straight up and over at Lifou. You walked? I have only been up to the church and snorkeled on the beaches near the tender wharf. Interesting about Cascade falls. I knew there was a charge but not expecting that much. Not that it is huge but still.

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Is Jinek Bay straight up and over at Lifou. You walked? I have only been up to the church and snorkeled on the beaches near the tender wharf.

Yeah I guess you'd say straight up and over. Jinek Bay is no further than walking to the Church in fact it would be closer and it is really worth it.

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Great review. Thanks so much. Are you able to tell me if they had children's sitting for dinner on your cruise. Like so many other things they seem to be disappearing....We are a group of 47 travelling Easter next year and many have children under 12 and since the adults have been confirmed on second dinner it may be too long for the little ones to wait.

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Great Review Sherrie! Glad you had such a wonderful cruise!!!

 

One of the ladies from my work was on this cruise - but she hasn't been back to work yet (she only works part time) so haven't heard her stories yet.

 

I have to say that 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' near the end of the G'Day, G'Day show ALWAYS brings a tear to the eye - but full credit to whoever designed the show, the use of Waltzing Matilda at the end to bring the mood back up is wonderful. On our last cruise there was a VERY drunk man at the back of the show lounge who started very loudly mouthing off during that song, and he was lucky that his mates quickly removed him from the show lounge, other wise I think he'd have been linched by about 800 passengers.

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Thanks Sherrie for such a great review. Great detail. Those photos are expensive aren't they, but I'm a sucker and end up buying quite a few. I love to have the Island photos when you get off the ship at the beginning of each island stop in my photo album, as well as the theme night ones.

 

We didn't see any shows on our last cruise so we might take in a couple this time, especially if they're on before 2nd sitting (depends on the weather outside and the socializing of course).

 

Kerri

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Great review. Thanks so much. Are you able to tell me if they had children's sitting for dinner on your cruise. Like so many other things they seem to be disappearing....We are a group of 47 travelling Easter next year and many have children under 12 and since the adults have been confirmed on second dinner it may be too long for the little ones to wait.

They had a Childrens Dinner Buffet every night from 5.00pm to 6.00pm at the Lido Cafe. Ours was a school holiday cruise so this may have been the reason. Bloody good idea I think. As I said in my review our kids would sometimes do both if they were up to it - depends on the days activities and how tired or pumped they were. Some days they would miss it because they were busy doing other things so they had to come to the late sitting with us - they were no trouble at all and often ordered off our menu rather than the kids menu. Our youngest child in our group was 10. Wow 47 in your group - that will be huge!

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Wow 47 in your group - that will be huge!

 

Everyone of them are cruise "virgins" and so looking forward to it. Myself, hubby and two teenagers have cruised before so we know how fabulous it will be. It is hard to get through to some of them that you can do as much as you want or as little...there are a couple of them who are dreading the thought of being "stuck" on a ship and not being able to leave if they don't like it. We've told them it's not like that at all and sometimes you really do forget where you are...notwithstanding..there is excitement in the group.

 

As far as my family is concerned 5 April 2007 cannot come soon enough.

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Priority Parking was perfect for us coming from the Gold Coast. Worked out at $20 a head which would equate to $10 each way per person. You couldn't train and taxi it from the Gold Coast for less. Was great to have your own wheels to get home in too.

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Thanks Sherrie for such a great review. Great detail. Those photos are expensive aren't they, but I'm a sucker and end up buying quite a few. I love to have the Island photos when you get off the ship at the beginning of each island stop in my photo album, as well as the theme night ones.

 

We didn't see any shows on our last cruise so we might take in a couple this time, especially if they're on before 2nd sitting (depends on the weather outside and the socializing of course).

 

Kerri

 

Hi Kerri!

Just have to say, you must see a show! I'm sure you won't be dissappointed. Normal showtimes were 8pm for 1st sitting diners & 10pm for 2nd sitting diners. Some evenings they were altered to 6.15pm for 2nd sitting diners & 8pm for 1st sitting diners.

 

As for professional photos, yes they cost a bit. :eek: We culled our pics each day and at the cruise's end, culled again (brutally!). I remember a lady in the photo queue one day (about day 4....) screaming out "$435! You're bloody joking!" This was after she was handed the receipt to sign...she didn't change her mind though, just walked away swearing under her breath. I presume they were the only photos she bought! Moral of the story: always ask the cost before you get too carried away!

Cheers

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I have to say that 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' near the end of the G'Day, G'Day show ALWAYS brings a tear to the eye - but full credit to whoever designed the show, the use of Waltzing Matilda at the end to bring the mood back up is wonderful. On our last cruise there was a VERY drunk man at the back of the show lounge who started very loudly mouthing off during that song, and he was lucky that his mates quickly removed him from the show lounge, other wise I think he'd have been linched by about 800 passengers.

 

A young teenager near us started to giggle loudly during the song but one of the youth security guys ( something I forgot to mention before they now have a couple of young guys on as youth security) told her to be quiet and respectful or leave and she shut up real quick:rolleyes:

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A young teenager near us started to giggle loudly during the song but one of the youth security guys ( something I forgot to mention before they now have a couple of young guys on as youth security) told her to be quiet and respectful or leave and she shut up real quick:rolleyes:

 

I think the idea of youth security is a good one. I wonder if that was only because there was a large number of kids on the cruise being school holidays, or whether that'll be a standard thing now?

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