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Review of Pacific Sun cruise 18 April 2009 (N914) 7 days, Noumea, Lifou, Port Vila


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We were very lucky as we had lovely weather, and the seas were not too rough.

Embarkation/Disembarkation: Efficient, likewise transfers to/from Andrew’s Airport Parking.

Cabin: Functional and clean, ditto bathroom (apart from mould on shower curtain hem). Toilet overflowed once, as did others in our “zone” (forward Upper Deck). Problem with vacuum extraction system, apparently. Bed comfortable. Cabin was quiet, A/C efficient. Cabin (outside) had upper berths (folded away) which project somewhat from the wall. We hit our heads a few times till we learned! The stewards work very hard, put in very long days. Alarmed to see our tiny female cabin steward lifting all the cases onto trolleys on Disembarkation eve. Left the automatic tips on our account, and also tipped extra to cabin staff and dining room staff in appreciation of their hard work.

 

Dining: Did not like the “Your choice dining”, at least as interpreted in Burgundy (no reservations) restaurant. Our experience was that the staff were inflexible, assigned us to a large table, would not let us sit at a smaller table, even when requested. Unless you happen to arrive at the right time when a smaller one is being filled! However, the system still did not work efficiently, for example the drinks ordered by our table of ten at dinner only arrived after we had all finished our appetizers.

You can reserve a table in the other restaurant, Bordeaux, and this is what we did thereafter. Can only reserve one day at a time, but may request the same table and dining time, which means the same waitstaff. Food was generally good (though often lukewarm), better in the dining room than in the Lido buffet. Attractive presentation in dining room. Pizzas ($7 each) were OK in Lido Buffet. Ate once in Churchill’s Steakhouse. Food was OK, not significantly better to justify spending an additional $25 per person. Wine markup seemed rather high, not commensurate with the quality of the restaurants ($32 and $38 for the two NZ Sauvignon Blancs available, for example). The $2.50 cappuccinos are now $3 in the Outback Bar.

 

Entertainment: The Pacific Entertainers worked hard - dancing on a moving stage in heels (even the guys) is no mean feat. Would have enjoyed their performances more had they been not so loud, and had they toned down the strobe lights, which blinded us intermittently. There were some dire comedians as well, and a very good Tahitian dance group which came on in Noumea.

 

Shore Excursions: Recommend all we did..

Noumea: “Noumea City Sights and Acquarium”. Acquarium is beautiful (Closed Monday, but specially opened for us. Not so the shop, alas), also good views of the city and harbour from two lookouts, FOL & Ouen-Toro . Not much to buy on shore, as most shops firmly shuttered by the time the tour ended.

Lifou: In morning “Forest and Secret Grotto” tour. Lots of interesting info about plants, some of which we have growing at home. Kids on the tour loved the candle-lit grotto, and live coconut crab encounter. Our bus was 30 mins late collecting us afterwards, so not enough time to tender back to the ship before the afternoon tour. This was “Cliffs of Jokin”, included visit to a garden with vanilla plants and a vanilla tea & coffee tasting. The cliffs are attractive; you also visit a chief’s grass hut, and are given a palm frond hat decorated with flowers. And coconut milk.

Recommend that you do only one tour in Lifou. There will not be enough time to tender back to the ship for lunch between tours, as we had planned to do, and food prospects on shore are limited. (Ship recommends you allow 45 minutes for the tender each way. Although the trip is short it takes time to fill the tender.) The local ladies sell baguettes filled with egg & mayo, or ham, but these sit un-refrigerated all day, so did not trust them. Their banana fritters and cake seemed to do no harm, however! For quarantine reasons you cannot take food from the ship. All the shore excursion information says toilet facilities are limited, but the public loos were just fine. We changed money into Pacific Francs the day before, but did not spend any. Shops were mostly closed in Noumea, and Aussie dollars were accepted in Lifou. Take small change, as they will accept coins, and some food items are inexpensive. You can also take a shuttle run by the local people, which visits the villages of Easo and Chepenehe, costs $AUD18 and runs every 45 minutes. Would have done this instead of one of the shore excursions, had we known it existed. All the ship’s tours sold out beforehand, so book early if you want to do one, as you may be disappointed otherwise.

Port Vila: “Ekasup Cultural village” was probably the best tour we did. Tour guide was very witty, and the tour very informative about local customs. Kids in the group loved the warriors leaping out at them from behind the bushes. Refreshments offered at the end, there is a clean toilet available, and some crafts to buy at reasonable prices. We were dropped off in the main street afterwards and had lunch at El Gecko, which we enjoyed (Tusker beer, coconut crab). Also visited the museum, which was interesting. We paid ten dollars for taxis to get around, did not haggle, happy with the price in the humid atmosphere. Recommend you wait and buy your leis etc for Island Night in Vila as the ladies sell them on the dock, and in the town market. Many are nicer than those from the dollar stores at home, and similarly priced. We did not buy any duty free in Vila. The day before, Sandy the energetic CD, recommended not buying perfume and cosmetics onshore as they might have lost some oomph in the tropical heat. Hmm, nothing to do with the ship’s shop also selling these items? (For information, I priced Miracle perfume on the ship, it was $105 for 100 mls, $58 for 50 mls. Don’t know about the price in duty free stores on shore – but they are air-conditioned.)

 

Summary: Our last ocean cruise was on Celebrity Millennium, and we did not expect a five star ship to compare with Pacific Sun, especially at the “good deal” price we paid. P & O doesn’t do a bad job on the whole; the staff work very hard, and the food wasn’t bad either. Our biggest criticism would be the lack of public areas in relation to the numbers of passengers; especially somewhere you could sit quietly in the shade. Very few possibilities inside or outside, even the library was taken over by noisy mahjongg players. Of course the poolside area was always noisy, with competitions all the time. The ship always felt very crowded, especially as the ceilings were low and dark-coloured in many areas. However, if you paid $15 per person per day you could hang out in The Oasis, and this is what we did for the three sea days. It is a quiet area forward; though it got a tad hot, as the shade sails don’t screen out all the sun. The price included some ice cream, bottled water. Comfortable loungers, a neck pillow would also be handy to take along. The Oasis was popular and filled up quite quickly. No kids allowed.

Pacific Sun offers a good affordable holiday for families; there is a lot to do if you so wish, and the kids seemed to enjoy their programmes. Many first-time cruisers on this cruise.

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It would have been an interesting comparison with the Celebrity cruise.

Anna

Thanks. Tried not to draw too many comparisons as it would not be fair to Pacific Sun to compare it to a more expensive cruise ship. Any travel experience is what you make of it. We've been travelling extensively all our lives and lived overseas in different countries till DH retired. Cruising is quite a new thing for us, though, and we are enjoying it. (Must be in the "nearly dead" group now - our first cruise was our honeymoon over forty year ago when we were in the "newly wed" group.:))

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Emma,

We were you on the same cruise and I agree with all you said, except for the ship being crowded everywhere.

 

Yes there was not enough chairs around the 2 pools, but other than that we never had to wait for anything.

 

There was 4 of us together and we all commented on how much space there was.

 

Great staff, terrific weather.

 

Sure the ship is getting a bit old now, but for the price it is still great value and a terrific holiday.

 

Our last cruise was aboard Super Star Leo, so there was a huge difference between the 2 ships, but we expected that.

 

Our next 2 cruises are booked for Dawn Princess and Diamond Princess.

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Emma,

We were you on the same cruise and I agree with all you said, except for the ship being crowded everywhere.quote]

I guess crowding is a subjective thing. We did have to stand in line a lot, and sometimes it was difficult to find a table in the Lido buffet area at lunch time. We were lucky in that we had such fine weather on the cruise so all the outdoor areas could be used. The Pacific Sun cruise the previous week had a lot of wet weather and I would assume that would place more stress on the inside areas. Mainly, though, we felt that it was hard to find somewhere quiet and shady to sit, unless you paid extra for The Oasis.

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We were very lucky as we had lovely weather, and the seas were not too rough.

Embarkation/Disembarkation: Efficient, likewise transfers to/from Andrew’s Airport Parking.

Cabin: Functional and clean, ditto bathroom (apart from mould on shower curtain hem). Toilet overflowed once, as did others in our “zone” (forward Upper Deck). Problem with vacuum extraction system, apparently. Bed comfortable. Cabin was quiet, A/C efficient. Cabin (outside) had upper berths (folded away) which project somewhat from the wall. We hit our heads a few times till we learned! The stewards work very hard, put in very long days. Alarmed to see our tiny female cabin steward lifting all the cases onto trolleys on Disembarkation eve. Left the automatic tips on our account, and also tipped extra to cabin staff and dining room staff in appreciation of their hard work.

 

Dining: Did not like the “Your choice dining”, at least as interpreted in Burgundy (no reservations) restaurant. Our experience was that the staff were inflexible, assigned us to a large table, would not let us sit at a smaller table, even when requested. Unless you happen to arrive at the right time when a smaller one is being filled! However, the system still did not work efficiently, for example the drinks ordered by our table of ten at dinner only arrived after we had all finished our appetizers.

You can reserve a table in the other restaurant, Bordeaux, and this is what we did thereafter. Can only reserve one day at a time, but may request the same table and dining time, which means the same waitstaff. Food was generally good (though often lukewarm), better in the dining room than in the Lido buffet. Attractive presentation in dining room. Pizzas ($7 each) were OK in Lido Buffet. Ate once in Churchill’s Steakhouse. Food was OK, not significantly better to justify spending an additional $25 per person. Wine markup seemed rather high, not commensurate with the quality of the restaurants ($32 and $38 for the two NZ Sauvignon Blancs available, for example). The $2.50 cappuccinos are now $3 in the Outback Bar.

 

Entertainment: The Pacific Entertainers worked hard - dancing on a moving stage in heels (even the guys) is no mean feat. Would have enjoyed their performances more had they been not so loud, and had they toned down the strobe lights, which blinded us intermittently. There were some dire comedians as well, and a very good Tahitian dance group which came on in Noumea.

 

Shore Excursions: Recommend all we did..

Noumea: “Noumea City Sights and Acquarium”. Acquarium is beautiful (Closed Monday, but specially opened for us. Not so the shop, alas), also good views of the city and harbour from two lookouts, FOL & Ouen-Toro . Not much to buy on shore, as most shops firmly shuttered by the time the tour ended.

Lifou: In morning “Forest and Secret Grotto” tour. Lots of interesting info about plants, some of which we have growing at home. Kids on the tour loved the candle-lit grotto, and live coconut crab encounter. Our bus was 30 mins late collecting us afterwards, so not enough time to tender back to the ship before the afternoon tour. This was “Cliffs of Jokin”, included visit to a garden with vanilla plants and a vanilla tea & coffee tasting. The cliffs are attractive; you also visit a chief’s grass hut, and are given a palm frond hat decorated with flowers. And coconut milk.

Recommend that you do only one tour in Lifou. There will not be enough time to tender back to the ship for lunch between tours, as we had planned to do, and food prospects on shore are limited. (Ship recommends you allow 45 minutes for the tender each way. Although the trip is short it takes time to fill the tender.) The local ladies sell baguettes filled with egg & mayo, or ham, but these sit un-refrigerated all day, so did not trust them. Their banana fritters and cake seemed to do no harm, however! For quarantine reasons you cannot take food from the ship. All the shore excursion information says toilet facilities are limited, but the public loos were just fine. We changed money into Pacific Francs the day before, but did not spend any. Shops were mostly closed in Noumea, and Aussie dollars were accepted in Lifou. Take small change, as they will accept coins, and some food items are inexpensive. You can also take a shuttle run by the local people, which visits the villages of Easo and Chepenehe, costs $AUD18 and runs every 45 minutes. Would have done this instead of one of the shore excursions, had we known it existed. All the ship’s tours sold out beforehand, so book early if you want to do one, as you may be disappointed otherwise.

Port Vila: “Ekasup Cultural village” was probably the best tour we did. Tour guide was very witty, and the tour very informative about local customs. Kids in the group loved the warriors leaping out at them from behind the bushes. Refreshments offered at the end, there is a clean toilet available, and some crafts to buy at reasonable prices. We were dropped off in the main street afterwards and had lunch at El Gecko, which we enjoyed (Tusker beer, coconut crab). Also visited the museum, which was interesting. We paid ten dollars for taxis to get around, did not haggle, happy with the price in the humid atmosphere. Recommend you wait and buy your leis etc for Island Night in Vila as the ladies sell them on the dock, and in the town market. Many are nicer than those from the dollar stores at home, and similarly priced. We did not buy any duty free in Vila. The day before, Sandy the energetic CD, recommended not buying perfume and cosmetics onshore as they might have lost some oomph in the tropical heat. Hmm, nothing to do with the ship’s shop also selling these items? (For information, I priced Miracle perfume on the ship, it was $105 for 100 mls, $58 for 50 mls. Don’t know about the price in duty free stores on shore – but they are air-conditioned.)

 

Summary: Our last ocean cruise was on Celebrity Millennium, and we did not expect a five star ship to compare with Pacific Sun, especially at the “good deal” price we paid. P & O doesn’t do a bad job on the whole; the staff work very hard, and the food wasn’t bad either. Our biggest criticism would be the lack of public areas in relation to the numbers of passengers; especially somewhere you could sit quietly in the shade. Very few possibilities inside or outside, even the library was taken over by noisy mahjongg players. Of course the poolside area was always noisy, with competitions all the time. The ship always felt very crowded, especially as the ceilings were low and dark-coloured in many areas. However, if you paid $15 per person per day you could hang out in The Oasis, and this is what we did for the three sea days. It is a quiet area forward; though it got a tad hot, as the shade sails don’t screen out all the sun. The price included some ice cream, bottled water. Comfortable loungers, a neck pillow would also be handy to take along. The Oasis was popular and filled up quite quickly. No kids allowed.

Pacific Sun offers a good affordable holiday for families; there is a lot to do if you so wish, and the kids seemed to enjoy their programmes. Many first-time cruisers on this cruise.

 

 

 

Having to pay extra to have a quiet space on the ship is mind boggling, of course this ship was designed for max.1500 passengers. To pay extra for food on a cruise other than specialty restaurants is also mind boggling. I salute you for keeping the automatic tip on and giving extra to the hard working crew.

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Having to pay extra to have a quiet space on the ship is mind boggling, of course this ship was designed for max.1500 passengers. To pay extra for food on a cruise other than specialty restaurants is also mind boggling. I salute you for keeping the automatic tip on and giving extra to the hard working crew.

 

Well, yes, at first sight it does seem a bit much to have to pay extra for a quiet space, or different food and beverages. I would not expect to on an expensive cruise, however this was a "good deal" cruise and the paid extras are completely at your discretion. This is how P & O is able to offer such an affordable product. Not everyone is such a princess as I am :D, and would not bother paying the extra for some peace and quiet. We thought however that for the extra $90 for both of us in The Oasis for the three sea days we converted a three star experience into a three and a half star at least...

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Thanks for your review!

 

We were on the cruise before you (the one with some rainy weather)! I concur with your comments about Andrews Parking - we used them and found them to be very efficient (and no where near as long a queue when we disembarked as Priority Parking clients had to deal with!!!)

 

We were also on Upper Deck forward - we had Lette and Firman as our room attendants and they both worked very hard! (not sure if Lette is the same small female attendant you were referring to or not!).

 

We didn't try to go to the Burgundy restaurant, but booked the same table each night in Bourdeaux - which worked out well. It was good to have the same wait staff each night - ours were excellent.

 

Although we had some wet days, we had no trouble finding a place to sit most of the time. The tables on Lido deck (outside around the pool) were under cover and dry! (especially now the slide is gone and there's not overflow from the pool sloshing around your feet as there has been on previous cruises!!!!) so we generally found one of those for breakfast and lunch (on the non-smoking side) without any problems. As you said, crowding and space is relative to each individual and we all have different expecations (and tolerance) levels about our personal space!:)

 

You're right in that these are well priced cruises and shouldn't be compared directly with higher priced/graded ships. I think they are pretty good value for money (particular for us - a family of four).

 

I love Lifou - and this was our second time there. As with your cruise, all the tours were booked out before sailing. (However, we've done the Cliffs of Jonkin on a previous cruise - so didn't feel like we had to do any P&O tours this time!).

 

Glad you had great weather and a pleasant time - it's also good to hear some good reviews about the Oasis Deck (I haven't spoken to too many that had used it as often as you did!).

 

Was the NZ Ice Cream open again for your cruise ... the freezer had broken down during our cruise and we couldn't get any!!! (it was very much missed by members of my family!!!!!:eek::eek::D).

 

Thanks again for a great, comprehensive review!:)

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We were very lucky as we had lovely weather, and the seas were not too rough.

Embarkation/Disembarkation: Efficient, likewise transfers to/from Andrew’s Airport Parking.

Cabin: Functional and clean, ditto bathroom (apart from mould on shower curtain hem). Toilet overflowed once, as did others in our “zone” (forward Upper Deck). Problem with vacuum extraction system, apparently. Bed comfortable. Cabin was quiet, A/C efficient. Cabin (outside) had upper berths (folded away) which project somewhat from the wall. We hit our heads a few times till we learned! The stewards work very hard, put in very long days. Alarmed to see our tiny female cabin steward lifting all the cases onto trolleys on Disembarkation eve. Left the automatic tips on our account, and also tipped extra to cabin staff and dining room staff in appreciation of their hard work.

 

Dining: Did not like the “Your choice dining”, at least as interpreted in Burgundy (no reservations) restaurant. Our experience was that the staff were inflexible, assigned us to a large table, would not let us sit at a smaller table, even when requested. Unless you happen to arrive at the right time when a smaller one is being filled! However, the system still did not work efficiently, for example the drinks ordered by our table of ten at dinner only arrived after we had all finished our appetizers.

You can reserve a table in the other restaurant, Bordeaux, and this is what we did thereafter. Can only reserve one day at a time, but may request the same table and dining time, which means the same waitstaff. Food was generally good (though often lukewarm), better in the dining room than in the Lido buffet. Attractive presentation in dining room. Pizzas ($7 each) were OK in Lido Buffet. Ate once in Churchill’s Steakhouse. Food was OK, not significantly better to justify spending an additional $25 per person. Wine markup seemed rather high, not commensurate with the quality of the restaurants ($32 and $38 for the two NZ Sauvignon Blancs available, for example). The $2.50 cappuccinos are now $3 in the Outback Bar.

 

Entertainment: The Pacific Entertainers worked hard - dancing on a moving stage in heels (even the guys) is no mean feat. Would have enjoyed their performances more had they been not so loud, and had they toned down the strobe lights, which blinded us intermittently. There were some dire comedians as well, and a very good Tahitian dance group which came on in Noumea.

 

Shore Excursions: Recommend all we did..

Noumea: “Noumea City Sights and Acquarium”. Acquarium is beautiful (Closed Monday, but specially opened for us. Not so the shop, alas), also good views of the city and harbour from two lookouts, FOL & Ouen-Toro . Not much to buy on shore, as most shops firmly shuttered by the time the tour ended.

Lifou: In morning “Forest and Secret Grotto” tour. Lots of interesting info about plants, some of which we have growing at home. Kids on the tour loved the candle-lit grotto, and live coconut crab encounter. Our bus was 30 mins late collecting us afterwards, so not enough time to tender back to the ship before the afternoon tour. This was “Cliffs of Jokin”, included visit to a garden with vanilla plants and a vanilla tea & coffee tasting. The cliffs are attractive; you also visit a chief’s grass hut, and are given a palm frond hat decorated with flowers. And coconut milk.

Recommend that you do only one tour in Lifou. There will not be enough time to tender back to the ship for lunch between tours, as we had planned to do, and food prospects on shore are limited. (Ship recommends you allow 45 minutes for the tender each way. Although the trip is short it takes time to fill the tender.) The local ladies sell baguettes filled with egg & mayo, or ham, but these sit un-refrigerated all day, so did not trust them. Their banana fritters and cake seemed to do no harm, however! For quarantine reasons you cannot take food from the ship. All the shore excursion information says toilet facilities are limited, but the public loos were just fine. We changed money into Pacific Francs the day before, but did not spend any. Shops were mostly closed in Noumea, and Aussie dollars were accepted in Lifou. Take small change, as they will accept coins, and some food items are inexpensive. You can also take a shuttle run by the local people, which visits the villages of Easo and Chepenehe, costs $AUD18 and runs every 45 minutes. Would have done this instead of one of the shore excursions, had we known it existed. All the ship’s tours sold out beforehand, so book early if you want to do one, as you may be disappointed otherwise.

Port Vila: “Ekasup Cultural village” was probably the best tour we did. Tour guide was very witty, and the tour very informative about local customs. Kids in the group loved the warriors leaping out at them from behind the bushes. Refreshments offered at the end, there is a clean toilet available, and some crafts to buy at reasonable prices. We were dropped off in the main street afterwards and had lunch at El Gecko, which we enjoyed (Tusker beer, coconut crab). Also visited the museum, which was interesting. We paid ten dollars for taxis to get around, did not haggle, happy with the price in the humid atmosphere. Recommend you wait and buy your leis etc for Island Night in Vila as the ladies sell them on the dock, and in the town market. Many are nicer than those from the dollar stores at home, and similarly priced. We did not buy any duty free in Vila. The day before, Sandy the energetic CD, recommended not buying perfume and cosmetics onshore as they might have lost some oomph in the tropical heat. Hmm, nothing to do with the ship’s shop also selling these items? (For information, I priced Miracle perfume on the ship, it was $105 for 100 mls, $58 for 50 mls. Don’t know about the price in duty free stores on shore – but they are air-conditioned.)

 

Summary: Our last ocean cruise was on Celebrity Millennium, and we did not expect a five star ship to compare with Pacific Sun, especially at the “good deal” price we paid. P & O doesn’t do a bad job on the whole; the staff work very hard, and the food wasn’t bad either. Our biggest criticism would be the lack of public areas in relation to the numbers of passengers; especially somewhere you could sit quietly in the shade. Very few possibilities inside or outside, even the library was taken over by noisy mahjongg players. Of course the poolside area was always noisy, with competitions all the time. The ship always felt very crowded, especially as the ceilings were low and dark-coloured in many areas. However, if you paid $15 per person per day you could hang out in The Oasis, and this is what we did for the three sea days. It is a quiet area forward; though it got a tad hot, as the shade sails don’t screen out all the sun. The price included some ice cream, bottled water. Comfortable loungers, a neck pillow would also be handy to take along. The Oasis was popular and filled up quite quickly. No kids allowed.

Pacific Sun offers a good affordable holiday for families; there is a lot to do if you so wish, and the kids seemed to enjoy their programmes. Many first-time cruisers on this cruise.

 

You will love having the Pac Dawn in Brisbane as this ship is a third bigger than the Pac Sun and holds only 100 pax extra.....we thought there was a lot of room on her, and a better layout.

 

Thanks for your review it was great to read. Happy you enjoyed yourself!!!!:)

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Thanks. Tried not to draw too many comparisons as it would not be fair to Pacific Sun to compare it to a more expensive cruise ship. Any travel experience is what you make of it. We've been travelling extensively all our lives and lived overseas in different countries till DH retired. Cruising is quite a new thing for us, though, and we are enjoying it. (Must be in the "nearly dead" group now - our first cruise was our honeymoon over forty year ago when we were in the "newly wed" group.:))

 

 

I like your attitude Emma.... Every cruise should be it's own experience.

 

Kym

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Hi all, to answer your questions..

Thied, the captain is Charlie Carr. Apparently he is an entertaining speaker, but we missed his talk as we were happily asleep up in The Oasis.

LouLou28. Yes we did have the same cabin stewards as you did. Lette is indeed the tiny woman who was heaving the cases onto trolleys the afternoon before we disembarked. Don’t know where Firman was at that stage. My husband gave her a hand – but he shouldn’t lift things either! The crew worked such long days, particularly embarkation/disembarkation day when they had a 4am start. Good to hear that the wet weather wasn’t a problem for you on the previous cruise.

Sounds like you also discovered that the Bordeaux restaurant was the way to go. It really seems to have developed into the traditional sitting type arrangement. We ate at 7.45 pm each night, and someone else clearly had “our” table earlier. One night there were balloons after a birthday celebration..The staff were great, as you say.

Yes, it is indeed a good value family cruise, and we recommended it on this basis to our son and his family for the future.

The NZ ice cream was open and one of the “perks” of The Oasis. Supposedly unlimited ice cream, in practice one of the Oasis stewards made the rounds a couple of times morning and afternoon taking orders. That was more than we wanted (or, rather – needed!). We did use the Oasis deck a lot, and mostly, I confess, for sleeping. Something about the gentle rocking motion. That’s why we missed all the activities..

MargnGrah. Will have to give thePacific Dawn a try sometime, we really enjoyed the Brisbane departure - sailing under the Gateway Bridge. Next cruise (September this year) we are on a ship with more space in the public areas. A good thing, as it is Princess Cruise line’s Star Princess from San Francisco to Sydney and the cruise is 30 days.

Cheers from Emma.

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Hi all, to answer your questions..

Thied, the captain is Charlie Carr. Apparently he is an entertaining speaker, but we missed his talk as we were happily asleep up in The Oasis.

LouLou28. Yes we did have the same cabin stewards as you did. Lette is indeed the tiny woman who was heaving the cases onto trolleys the afternoon before we disembarked. Don’t know where Firman was at that stage. My husband gave her a hand – but he shouldn’t lift things either! The crew worked such long days, particularly embarkation/disembarkation day when they had a 4am start. Good to hear that the wet weather wasn’t a problem for you on the previous cruise.

Sounds like you also discovered that the Bordeaux restaurant was the way to go. It really seems to have developed into the traditional sitting type arrangement. We ate at 7.45 pm each night, and someone else clearly had “our” table earlier. One night there were balloons after a birthday celebration..The staff were great, as you say.

Yes, it is indeed a good value family cruise, and we recommended it on this basis to our son and his family for the future.

The NZ ice cream was open and one of the “perks” of The Oasis. Supposedly unlimited ice cream, in practice one of the Oasis stewards made the rounds a couple of times morning and afternoon taking orders. That was more than we wanted (or, rather – needed!). We did use the Oasis deck a lot, and mostly, I confess, for sleeping. Something about the gentle rocking motion. That’s why we missed all the activities..

MargnGrah. Will have to give thePacific Dawn a try sometime, we really enjoyed the Brisbane departure - sailing under the Gateway Bridge. Next cruise (September this year) we are on a ship with more space in the public areas. A good thing, as it is Princess Cruise line’s Star Princess from San Francisco to Sydney and the cruise is 30 days.

Cheers from Emma.

yes i can only say u missed a great captain very entertaning i must saym he dos more them just a talk but o well i hope he his on our next P&O cruise
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Its nice to see somebody else didnt like "Your Choice Dinning" which is actually "their choice dinning!"

 

Great play on words from P&O!

 

Relaxed evening meal has become a conveyer belt of fill up the tables and get it over with like breakfast and lunch.

 

I had a big argument with a waitress on the PD who would not let us sit on a table of traveling companions,even though there were seats available. All because orders were taken?( meals had not started)

 

Awkward git you may say? But in my mind I am not there to serve them!

 

And i got my way:D

 

 

 

Den

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.

Port Vila: We did not buy any duty free in Vila. The day before, Sandy the energetic CD, recommended not buying perfume and cosmetics onshore as they might have lost some oomph in the tropical heat. Hmm, nothing to do with the ship’s shop also selling these items? (For information, I priced Miracle perfume on the ship, it was $105 for 100 mls, $58 for 50 mls. Don’t know about the price in duty free stores on shore – but they are air-conditioned.)

Hi Emma

I really enjoyed reading your review - thanks for posting it. I have to agree with your comment from Sandy the CD. I bought some perfume from Vila - it was stale before I even used it :(. I won't buy perfume from there again but alcohol not a problem :D.

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Hi Emma

I bought some perfume from Vila - it was stale before I even used it :(. I won't buy perfume from there again but alcohol not a problem :D.

So...Sandy was giving us good advice - and it was nothing to do with the fact that the ship's shop sold the same things. I didn't buy any because I did not think the deals were very good. Thought it possible he was correct about the perfumes onshore - have had stale perfume and cosmetics bought on a plane in the past.

Good that the booze was OK, though..:D

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Relaxed evening meal has become a conveyer belt of fill up the tables and get it over with like breakfast and lunch. Den

 

So true!! We think that one of the pleasures of travel should be the meals. There is no excuse for the way in which the dining situation was handled in the Burgundy restaurant; it was just an unlovely and disheartening experience, due to the conveyor belt approach. However, all was very well when we switched to the Bordeaux restaurant, and this is the way we would approach this "anytime" dining on future cruises - ie make a reservation for dinner, just as we would do with a restaurant on land..

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Hi Emma

I really enjoyed reading your review - thanks for posting it. I have to agree with your comment from Sandy the CD. I bought some perfume from Vila - it was stale before I even used it :(. I won't buy perfume from there again but alcohol not a problem :D.

We always buy our alcohol at Fung Kuei. On one trip I looked at the perfumes, but when I saw the boxes had a light covering of dust, I didn't even bother looking at the prices. :):) I think the duty free shop half way up the main street (either Down Town or Paris) probably sells more perfume so it could be newer.

 

Evon.

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We always buy our alcohol at Fung Kuei. On one trip I looked at the perfumes, but when I saw the boxes had a light covering of dust, I didn't even bother looking at the prices. :):) I think the duty free shop half way up the main street (either Down Town or Paris) probably sells more perfume so it could be newer.

 

Evon.

Ha, ha. The dust would be a give-away! I typically don't buy duty-free alcohol when we travel, as most of our travel has been by plane and it was a hassle even before all the liquids restrictions. We are wine drinkers rather than spirits nowadays too, and wine can deteriorate in tropical climates, even if it is available duty free. As for perfume, a lot of the ones I like don't seem to appear in Duty Free stores :(. Have sometimes bought cosmetics and perfume on a plane and a couple of times found it had deteriorated. Leaked or evaporated perfume.

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We always buy our alcohol at Fung Kuei. On one trip I looked at the perfumes, but when I saw the boxes had a light covering of dust, I didn't even bother looking at the prices. :):) I think the duty free shop half way up the main street (either Down Town or Paris) probably sells more perfume so it could be newer.

 

Evon.

 

Hi Evon

 

I think it might have been one of those duty free shops in the middle but lesson learnt...i'll just stick with the alcohol instead :p. Is Fung Kuei the shop on the corner on the RHS? I need to make sure it's the one I visit when I go to Vila in July :D.

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Hi Evon

 

I think it might have been one of those duty free shops in the middle but lesson learnt...i'll just stick with the alcohol instead :p. Is Fung Kuei the shop on the corner on the RHS? I need to make sure it's the one I visit when I go to Vila in July :D.

Fung Kuei is on the left near the far end of the main street.:):)

 

Evon

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Tried not to draw too many comparisons as it would not be fair to Pacific Sun to compare it to a more expensive cruise ship.

 

Thanks for your comprehensive review Emma. We are due to go on the same cruise in late November so I found your comments on the ship and tours interesting.

 

One thing that you and others have commented on is the relative cost of cruising (and extras) on P&O compared to other lines, eg Celebrity.

"Well, yes, at first sight it does seem a bit much to have to pay extra for a quiet space, or different food and beverages. I would not expect to on an expensive cruise, however this was a "good deal" cruise and the paid extras are completely at your discretion. This is how P & O is able to offer such an affordable product."

 

We have sailed twice on Celebrity and if you do some research, it is quite possible to get good deals on Celebrity, Princess and other more "upmarket" lines which compare very favourably with P&O prices.

 

As an example, the 7 night P&O cruise we are doing in November is only about $50 less than the price we paid for the recent Sun Princess Coastal Wonders cruise, which was for 12 nights. Which is better value, especially with the extra costs noted on Pacific Sun for a quiet space, pizzas etc? I guess my point is that I don't think that the P&O cruises are particularly good value (unless there are 4 in a cabin).

Unfortunately to access better value cruises, it's usually necessary to fly halfway around the world, which of course adds significantly to the cost of your holiday.

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Unfortunately to access better value cruises, it's usually necessary to fly halfway around the world, which of course adds significantly to the cost of your holiday.

 

Yes I do agree that you can get get good deals sometimes on the more "upmarket" cruise lines when research and lucky timing coincide. In fact we got a good deal on US Princess line's Star Princess, San Francisco to Sydney in September. The killer, as you rightly pointed out, is that we in Oz have to pay those additional international air fares to access that sort of deal. Especially painful when a one-way fare is involved. Can only envy the lucky Americans who are able to take advantage of some of the last-minute deals I see. Funny thing, we lived in the US for almost twenty years - and never once took a cruise. Only now, when we are settled back home in Oz, are we choosing to cruise! Downright contrary..

 

As for the "value" of P & O's product. The extras are something many would not feel they needed to pay - indeed another poster who was on our cruise said she and her companions did not have any sense of crowding, so The Oasis would have been irrelevant to them. We liked it, however, and thought the additional $90 for three days for both of us was acceptable. (We had a stressful time in the weeks pre-cruise, so were happy to just relax and read.) Only tried the alternative restaurant and the pizza once each - for research purposes. Both were perfectly OK, but we didn't feel the experience needed repeating. Apart from that expenditure, P & O would have only made money from us from the shore excursions and wine at dinner. Would have been quite comfortable sightseeing independently, probably took the tours out of laziness. Maybe also because we thought we might get off the ship more quickly, but this was not the case. In fact the shore excursions, even the first one of the day, left after other passengers were cleared to disembark.

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