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Ultimate Geek

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# 249180 29-Apr-2019 16:04
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I am looking at cruising, never having done so before - particularly reviews of the Pacific Aria (ship).  Looking at websites such as cruisecritic.com.au they seem sales-oriented.  If anyone review this ship or suggest review websites that have genuine reviews I would be interested.

 

My concern is food-and-beverage services on board, particularly whether there are long waits at peak times.  





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  # 2227469 29-Apr-2019 16:04
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Allow me to introduce you folks to our new travel community: TravelTalk NZ.

 

We hope to see you there!

 





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Banana?
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  # 2227477 29-Apr-2019 16:15
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I've done two P&O cruises, but not for a few years. I haven't cruised Aria (Did Pacific Sun and Pacific Pearl, both of which have sailed off for other waters).

 

P&O is the 'budget' end of the cruise market, but still perfectly fine. It attracts (generally) a younger clientele, and more families.

 

We found food fine, certainly not top class, but certainly not 'airline' food either. The buffets were good and plentiful, and the Waterfront Restaurant did a good job.

 

I think now they do the buffet slightly differently, in that they have 'The Pantry' - the buffet divided into 7 different 'restaurants' - so Chinese, Italian, Indian, Deserts etc.

 

 

 

My Sister-in-law has done a couple of P&O's recently, and her daughter loved it so much she is getting married during a cruise in August, so I will be going on another P&O, this time on Pacific Explorer ex. Sydney. Quite looking forward to it.

 

If you have any specific questions, fire away - I can ask her if it is something more recent (she last cruised last year).


 
 
 
 


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  # 2227508 29-Apr-2019 16:51
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My wife and I are cruising on the Aria to Fiji at the end of May, so I'll be able to give you up to date opinions in about five weeks.

 

Its our first cruise, and we are getting quite excited. I'll be watching this thread for any interesting insights.


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  # 2227517 29-Apr-2019 17:11
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We were in the same... *chuckle* boat... last year.

 

Signed up for the 10 day Vanuatu cruise on the Pacific Jewel as part of a deal with my partners parents, but we weren't really that fussed about it at the time. After that cruise though, we could easily do another. Definitely will be cruising with P & O in future!

 

Food and beverages onboard were pretty decent, and I never felt we had to wait anymore than an average wait time at a cafe or restaurant. The Pantry is a food court/buffet where you get to mix and match as much as you like, whereas the Waterfront is more of a sit-down-and-order-off-a-menu approach. Plus a few onboard paid-for restaurants

 

As a side note, I would recommend the refreshments beverage package, the one that includes most non-alcoholic beverages. We were taking good advantage of the bottled water (since there is no in room drinking water) and even stock piling it in our mini-fridge. That plus having barista coffee and the occasional soft drink when we felt like it, and a peppermint tea every night without having to worry about what we were spending (I may have been keeping a running tally on a spreadsheet to make sure we were getting our money's worth haha).


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  # 2227553 29-Apr-2019 18:32
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Lines and waits on the P&O seem to be a thing of the past now. I did the 7 day Pacific Hopper. Loved it. (on the Dawn)

 

My best tip (got it from someone else..)

 

First thing you do on board (aside of the evac excersizes) is don't go for food. All the aussies do (if you leaving there). Snack up before you board just incase. But head straight to 'the waterfront' And book a table for yourselves for the entire trip. Breakfast is usually an easy in. But check the menu each morning, and if you don't like whats listed for tea - say you won't need the table for the night and head up to the Pantry - we would do a reccy of both before sitting down just to compare as sometimes the themed nights were cool, american hotdogs etc

 

The green and red jelly is nom :D

 

And when in the main restaurant, you can order off-menu from something similar to upstairs. We found ourselves asking for 3 scoops of icecream and fruit instead of the dessert on menu. Or chicken nuggets once we found they had them for the kids. Just ask for a double helping :D

 

 


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  # 2227557 29-Apr-2019 18:36
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Oh, and load yourself up with softdrink cans if you don't want to spend on the drinks package. Unboxed you can take on a dozen. I packed a day bag before boarding. So if you find any shore stores and want more, that's another dozen as you re-board without blinking an eye. 

 

I made a cruising tips guide for some friends also going. I'll need to dig it out.


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  # 2227565 29-Apr-2019 19:29
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We did our first cruise last year on the Pacific Jewel, was a comedy cruise. Had an absolute ball (went with friends), everything was fantastic. Ship was a bit run down but it was getting on in age (and since sold).

 

Ours was a 3 night, we took a dozen soft drinks and basic clothes and that was it.

 

Food wise, it got busy but at no point were we like "OMG, forget it". You booked for the main restaurant, but the food court was always great.

 

We cant wait for the next one, we're looking at doing one that heads up around the islands for about 12 nights.

 

 





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Ultimate Geek

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  # 2227573 29-Apr-2019 19:49
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Hey folks, many thanks to all for the responses and I will definitely go ahead.





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  # 2250901 4-Jun-2019 09:56
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Just got back from an 8 night Fiji cruise on the Pacific Aria. I highly recommend it. It was our first cruise and we had a really good, relaxing time.

 

We didn't experience any undue queuing for food. At absolute peak time in the food court if there was a popular option in one of the counters, the queue might have been as long as 8-10 people and had a wait of a maximum five minutes. But that was only if you absolutely had to have that one option out of the 8-10 available and you had to have it right then. 

 

If you want to eat at the three included restaurants, book early, they fill up fast. But the Pantry (food court) is fine for most meals anyway. The menu changes every day.

 

The drinks packages seem expensive, but if you plan on drinking, they are worth it. We cheated a little and bought one alcohol package and I passed a few drinks to my wife as she isn't a big drinker and would have had to work hard to get her money's worth. The in-room water package was definitely worthwhile. As someone above said, you can take a dozen cans of soft drink aboard, which makes your carry on very heavy, we took a 10 pack of little V cans each as energy drinks on the boat are expensive.

 

Cruising out of Auckland has its pluses and minuses - it is really convenient not to have to fly and worry about bag weights etc. The main down side is that to get anywhere from NZ, there's a lot of sea days in the open ocean. But that's not a huge hardship as the ship is huge and full of entertainment options.




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  # 2260322 18-Jun-2019 15:28
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Our experience was on the Discover Vanuatu cruise on Pacific Aria.  On this cruise there were about 1400 'guests' and I believe this ship has a capacity for around 1500 - so almost full.  There were just the two of us and we are in our late 60's

 

The Pantry (aka food court) is the mainstay of eating options and we found the food to be good but at peak times we had to find seating, then take it in turns to get our meals.  The free restaurants (Angelos and the Waterfront) had very average food quality on their menus, with the best choices being surcharged.  Portion sizes were small.  At Angelos I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana, then ordered a second.  The same with Desert.  The Waterfront was a bit better.  We also dined at Salt Grill ($60 surcharge per person for 3 courses) - good menu choices but not really worth the cost.  Looking at land-based comparisons, Angelos and The Waterfront would be comparable to suburban eateries where mains are priced under $30, Salt would be comparable to mid-priced city restaurants.  The Pantry has all-day machine-dispensed coffee and tea.  Drinking water is freely available by the glass at all food outlets and bars.  The restaurants have tea/coffee as part of the meal but the coffee is not barista-made (probably filter or plunger - served at the table in a cup so hard to tell).

 

One of the most noticeable features of all three restaurants was that all the entrees and mains were brought into the restaurant on plates with plastic hoods to keep food hot.  Clearly they use a central kitchen, but I would have thought this would be attached to Salt for those premium priced meals to go straight from kitchen to table.  Accordingly the food is never 'piping hot', but neither was it cold.

 

This cruise was 9 days plus embarkation and disembarkation days.  Of those 9 days 5 were at sea and 4 in port.  We had hoped that with this being in term time there would be minimal school-aged children on board.  Unfortunately this was not the case so on all of the sea days the one spa pool and main swimming pool were full of children and this cut down our options.  Again on sea days the only comfortable options in public areas of the ship were all bars, but only 2 of them served tap beer (which mercifully included some Aussie crafts).

 

We had a balcony room, but the value of this was diminished by the fact that no in-room tea/coffee making facilities were available or permitted.  So there was no option to make a drink and enjoy it outside.  Room facilities were good - shower over mini-bath with toilet and vanity unit, queen bed, ample clothes storage and standard electrical supply (although just 2 outlets).

 

A note on drinks packages - we were told that these packages were strictly per-person and that this was enforced.  When we checked in we were given access cards that did not include a photo (although one was taken).  I discovered that the photo pops up on the till when they ring up the drinks.  With any luck your partner can get away with buying drinks on your pass - particularly at busy times - but this is hit-or-miss.  On sea days we would have had a bottle of wine, two beers and two cocktails as well as a couple of barista coffees and our spend was under the cheapest alcoholic drinks package.

 

Our goal in cruising is port visits - see them all without continually packing and unpacking.  We will consider short winter breaks in Vanuatu in the future.  We will most certainly cruise again but the ratio of port days to duration will need to be much higher.  We are planning a trip to Europe/Russia etc. so may well build in a cruise on the way over or back.





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  # 2293950 11-Aug-2019 11:06
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BlueShift:

Cruising out of Auckland has its pluses and minuses - it is really convenient not to have to fly and worry about bag weights etc. The main down side is that to get anywhere from NZ, there's a lot of sea days in the open ocean. But that's not a huge hardship as the ship is huge and full of entertainment options.



Pretty sure it's the same amount of sea days in the open ocean from Syd/Mel to the islands as it is from Akl?
It would be great to have more sailing options from Akl

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  # 2320434 19-Sep-2019 14:59
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One of the advantages of cruising with P&O is no gratuities surcharge nor expectation. You are welcome to make one but not expected to





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  # 2320460 19-Sep-2019 15:37
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We're looking at our next one for next year, will take kids this time, and head up for a 10 nighter around the islands or whatever is available.





XPD / Gavin / DemiseNZ

 

Server : i5-3470s @ 3.50GHz  16GB RAM  Win 10 Pro    Workstation : (TBC)    Console : Xbox One

 

https://www.xpd.co.nz - Games, emulation, geekery, and my attempts at photography.     Now on BigPipe 100/100 and 2Talk

 

http://storm.xpd.co.nz - NZ Rock at its finest (WIP)

 

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  # 2320466 19-Sep-2019 15:54
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We got back from a 10 nighter to Vanuatu/New Caledonia at the start of the month.

 

Pacific Explorer out of Sydney.

 

We had a great time.

 

I'd agree with @OldGeek, the Waterfront wasn't that great. I think we only had dinner there once, and it was with the rest of the people we were cruising with. We enjoyed Dragon Lady (Asian Fusion, included in fare) and Angelos. Pacific Explorer also has 400Gradi (surcharge) and the pizzas and calzone were delicious (and cooked there). Pizza was about $12-15 I think, and one was plenty for two people.

 

We did the Chef's table, which is a 7 course degustation (including wine for every course), cooked by a dedicated chef for about 14 people per night - was quite expensive ($120 each) but IMO worth every cent - best meal I've had at sea.

 

We had the Drinks package, no issue with me handing over both our cards to get two drinks.

 

Staff were excellent, hotels here could learn a thing or three about how to treat guests from cruise lines.

 

Entertainment was pretty good - the main theatre shows weren't as good as previous cruises we've been on (but they were still fine). We did Love Riot, which you pay for, and it was well worth the $39 for the 5 course meal and VIP seats (or $15 just for seat only). The stand up comedians were excellent (there were two, they swapped in Port Vila).

 

We also got the Ultimate Romance Package, $199 - included a bottle of Moet in our room on embarkation, $120 onboard dining credit (on Explorer, on the others it is 2 meals at Lukes), 2 breakfasts in bed which came with small bottles of bubbly and choc strawberries, a free 8x10 photo, and canapes delivered to our room every day. Good value. 

 

I would do again, and I'd go for a package that included drinks. I wouldn't buy the drinks package on boarding (it would have been $89 each per day to do that, we got it for about $100 more than we had originally booked for when they started advertising 'packages included' after we'd booked).

 

 


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  # 2320519 19-Sep-2019 16:32
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jevvv:

 

One of the advantages of cruising with P&O is no gratuities surcharge nor expectation. You are welcome to make one but not expected to

 

 

That seems common for cruise lines where the cruise is originating from AU/NZ ports, and (I believe) you book from NZ or AU (as we're not generally countries that do the whole tipping thing). If they are charged to your account, you can usually request prepaid gratuities are removed. If it's not clear in boarding documentation, the passenger services desk will be able confirm and make changes if required.





Keep calm, and carry on posting.

 

 

 

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