Looking at cruising with p& O, Sydney to noumea, Vila etc. anyone have any feedback pos or neg?
I've done several cruises with P&O, mainly on the Pacific Sun and the Pacific Pearl. I have done a ship's inspection of the Pacific Jewel and will cruise on the Dawn in a few monthys time. The Sun has been sold and I think her last cruises in Australia will be in June / July this year.
The P&O cruise line is perhaps the cheapest line for 7 day cruises out of Sydney or Brisbane, tho' some of the newer contenders such as RCI, Carnival, Celebrity are giving P&O Australia a run for their money, hence there are currently a lot of special prices and OBC (on board credit) on offer.
IMO, the P&O Australia ships are 3- 31/2 star ships - nothing more, nothing less. They have a laid back atmosphere and there are more Aussies on board than any other nationality, though cruises out of NZ tend to have more Kiwis on board.
Usually 7 night cruises out of Sydney go to Noumea, Isle of Pines and perhaps another port on New Caledonia or may be one of the islands of Vanuatu. A 10 night cruise will often go to Noumea, and Port Vila (Vanuatu) as well as usually another two ports of call. You will have about 3 sea days before you call into Noumea (usually the first port of call) and 3 sea days back to Sydney. 14 night cruises usually go to Fiji - possibly one or more of these ports - Champagne Bay, Dravuni Island, Nadi, Port Denarau. Some 14 night cruises go to NZ and back too...just depends on how much time you have to spare and what the costs are.
The cost of your fare includes your cabin, all food in the buffet and dining rooms but extras are drinkis, bottled water, specialty coffee and cakes, internet which is usually expensive and very slow, specialty restaurants and anything in the on-board boutiques.
The sea days can be as leisurely as you like but there are often lots of activities on board to keep you occupied from Trivia quizzes to spa treatments, craft and bingo, and sometimes movies. The entertainment crew and the Cruise Director's staff have lots of fun and games planned which are all outlined in the daily newsletter delivered to your cabin each night.
I find the food is pretty good on board and there is a wide variety of dishes available. The buffet area is very popular if you want less fornal dining and the main dining rooms, particularly at night are very popular so it's wise to make a booking ASAP you get on board. And if you like your wait staff, ask for the same table again.
There are specialty restaurants on board which aren't included in the cost of your fare, such as Luke Mangan's Salt Restaurant on a couple of the P&O ships - truly worth the extra $30 for lunch or $40 for dinner. The restaurant is small and there are limited bookings available.
You cannot take alcohol on board any P&O ship and if you do, they will keep it in the Hold for you until the night before the cruise ends. Alcohol prices - around $9 per glass of wine - cheaper to buy the bottle and if you are in the dining room, just drink the amount you want and ask them to keep it for you until the following night - they put your cabin number / account number or name on it and store it for you so it can be retrieved from any of the dining areas.
If you are going to port Vila, that is the cheapest place to buy alcohol duty free - the Chinese Emporium - a taxi will take you there from the ship ($AUD 10) and then just walk back through the town stopping at the shops etc and then get a taxi back to the ship. There's more to do in Vila of course but everyone buys their liquor there.
At each port you can do shore excursions with the ship which are usually very expensive or you can make your own arrangements either at the port or prior to... or simply wander around the port by yourself.
The best position for a cabin IMO is mid ships, around decks 6 - 8 - but be sure to have a look at the deck plan either on the P&O site or the brochures to ensure there is nothing above / below your cabin that could keep you awake at night such as a disco !
There are "Boutiques" on board which are all designed to help you part with your money - same with photographers - the prices for the latter being huge IMO.
There's no tipping on the OP&O line, that is, no gratuities are added to your stateroom account whereas on the other lines that is not the case. You can tip your cabin steward and dining staff if you wish and they would appreciate it.
Does this info help you? Anything else your after? When are you thinking of going ?
Hi Dougo. Is the Taxi $10 each way in Vila ?
Yes, that's what we paid - $10 each way for the two of us.
If you can find a mini bus that takes around 10 or more people, you may get it for $5 each way ... that's what a couple of people told me they paid. You'll probably be asked for more but those who have cruised there before never pay more than $10 each way as far as I know.
A word of warning about some of the ports, including Port Vila ... everywhere you go around the world including the Sth Pacific, you'll always find people who will be happy to relieve you of money. In Pt Vila I was approached by two young boys asking for money for their soccer club ... this was right outside the Chinese Emporium. The security guard chased them away so I assume they were trying to scam us. I have heard of a couple of incidences like that and more in Vila - it is a safe place but you're best not to tempt fate and leave yourself open to being approached by locals for money, some of whom I'm told can be on the aggressive side - but these are isolated incidents and are more likely to happen away from the main street or populated areas.
Hi. Have only been on one P&O cruise thus far, Pacific Sun in December 2010 for 7 nights to Noumea and Isle of Pines and we had a great time. There was myself and husband, plus 2 teenage daughters and we went with another family of the same configuration. If you go expecting 5 star all round , you may be a little disappointed, but having said that, the service staff were definitely 5 star. Food was great, we preferred doing all our dining in the main dining rooms instead of the buffet as we found it was more relaxing and nicer to be waited on. Rooms were extremely clean - I reckon our steward tidied/cleaned our room 2 to 3 times a day (not that it needed it) but everything was clean and fresh. We did tip our cabin steward at the end of our cruise, and also the 2 main wait staff in the dining room who did an excellent job at entertaining the kids and looking after us in general. I believe the Pacific Sun is probably their lowest standard ship but overall we were very happy. Be sure to pre purchase goggles and snorkel sets for each family member as the snorkelling around some of the islands is absolutely beautiful. I think it is quite reasonable when you consider all that is included and for once, mums get to actually have a break as all cleaning, cooking, packing away and entertaining is done my P&O and not you. I can highly recommend. I am heading off for a 3 night LIfestyle cruise on Pacific Jewel in April with a girlfriend and have also booked another 8 night cruise in January 2013 on the Pearl. Can't wait. Hope the advice helps and hope you enjoy your cruise. Regards A.
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Hi all P&O past travellers,
We are a family of 2 adults and 2 kids looking at doing either the 9 night Pacific Jewel sail in Sept to the South Pacfic or the 12 night also in Sept on the Pacific Jewel also to the Pacific Islands but this one goes around the Islands the long way it appears compared to the 9 night sail. We are tossing up between the two and hoping to make a decision asap.
My question is with regard to the sleeping arrangements for a family of four...are the bunks generous both top and bottom? The pics are limited so you cant really tell or see what to expect...are the bottom beds more like single beds?
We adults are 5 foot 10, and 6 foot 4 and therefore quite tall....I am disappointed that the cruise ships dont offer large family rooms with qb + 2 singles options????? We would happily pay for such. Anyhow any comments good and bad on the sleeping arrangements in the quad share rooms would be greatly appreciated!!!!
Thanks in advance for your time and comments.
I have done a ship's inspection of the Jewel but have not cruised on her.
And I have slept in bunk beds on the Pacific Sun and I would say that you would not find them comfortable due to your height. I think they will be too short for you, particularly the person who is 6 ft 4" tall.
Re "family" style rooms, have a look at RCI who are cruising in Aussie waters - I know they have a family style suite on the Voyager and perhaps the Radiance if I recall correctly.... I went to a presentaton and saw the style of rooms which would accommodate a famly quite comfortably.
Also have a look at Carnival Spirit which is aimed at families in any case. Their ship which will call Australia home later this year will have 84 connecting rooms - ie, Mum and Dad in one room and kids in the other.
They currently have some good specials going with OBC (On Board Credit) and I think they run until the end of this month.
The other thing is that Carnival Spirit will be like P&O to some extent, eg on board currency is AUD, not USD, and there is no gratuity added to you stateroom account (same as P&O Australia) tho' you can tip your cabin sterward / wait staff if you wish.
If you go on line and have a look at Carnival Spirit or pick up a brochure, the photos won't be accurate as she is being refurbed - the Carnival reps said so last week at a presentation.
Thanks for the information that is a huge help. We are about to embark on our first cruise on the Sun in May out of Brisbane and we are a family of four with my husband and myself and two boys 12 and 16 and taking my parents who are in the 70's, all of us this is a first time cruise. To get information like you have provided is a huge help to understanding more about the cruise. Did you go on island tours? and are there places that are best avoided cause they are too expensive? also the drinks on board we are not big drinkers but the kids will want soft drinks etc are they expensive? Also when you had dinner did you get seated with others or just your family and your own friends? how dressed up do we have to be? Thanks for any information you can provide
I'll tackle your questions one by one !!
Did you go on island tours?
I have been on one in Noumea -the Tchou Tchou train which we organised ourselves but it is different to the one the ship organises because there were no refreshments or commentary.
I did once book a trip to Amadee Island from Noumea via the ship's shore excursion desk but the tour was cancelled due to the choppy seas.
At Noumea, you can do a DIY tour of the island via the yellow HOHO bus which is around $AUD 20 each ... it broke down before we left the dock so we didn't do it -- we got our money back.
At Port Vila we did shore excusion which was a boat cruise on their lake which was nice .. but on more recent trips there, we've hopped into a taxi and just walked around the town.
At Champagne Bay, we paid a local to take us to the top of the mountain (with others - I think it as $10 each) and then back to the beach and a lovely pool of water.
In all the ports we tend to do our own thing and just wander around.
and are there places that are best avoided cause they are too expensive?
I think Noumea is overpriced but there is no way to avoid that - I think ship's stop there for fresh supplies .. that's all
also the drinks on board we are not big drinkers but the kids will want soft drinks etc are they expensive?
They can add up - you take take your own water and softdrink on board - as much as you like really and I would encourage you to do so - around the Sth Pacific I take bottled water because I prefer it and it's SOOOO much cheaper than buying it on board and you DEFINITELY need it when you go ashore.
Softdrink on board is around $2.50 per glass I think ... I don'[t know for sure as I don't drink it much but my O/H does!
Also when you had dinner did you get seated with others or just your family and your own friends?
If you all arrive at the dining room together, they will do their best to seat you together. You could arrange a "permanent" table when you get on board at a set time - that's probably the easiest option.
how dressed up do we have to be?
The daily newsletter will tell you what the dress code is for dinner - from smart casual to cocktail - it's not such a formal affair now with ball gowns etc. Many women choose to wear a maxi dress or a cocktail dress or smart pants with a sparkly top and men may wear suit and tie if they wish on formal night .. or a suit with an open necked shirt would be fine.
But on any given night in a P&O dining room., singlets and boardies are not acceptable and neither is swim wear.
Ok thanks so much that is great. I didn't think about being able to take our own drinks on board as in water and soft drink, do they weigh the luggage? cause that would make it heavier having soft drinks and a pallet of water lol