This time, for a change, we decided to take it on a bit slow, lazy and indulge into affordable luxury before getting the adrenalin hit in New Zealand. So we decided to Cruise the Tasman.
We booked Pacific Pearl with P&O cruises. It is a 4 day cruise from Sydney to Auckland. We booked a cabin with balcony on the upper most passenger deck. The room was spacious enough for 2 people with a dressing mirror, tv and a study table and chair. It was all clean and neat and the staff were super friendly. The highlight, as I was hoping for, is the balcony which is big enough to stargaze in the middle of the night or eagerly wait for the sun to rise in the middle of the ocean. But if you are happy to dress up and walk a 100 metres to the upper most deck then you probably wont need a balcony and you can save yourself a few bucks. All cabin booking charges include meals on board, at specific restaurants only, of course.
The checkin process
I prepared myself with sunscreen, swimmers, hats, cocktail dress and the day has finally arrived. The checkin process was very straight forward and the staff were super friendly. What I specifically liked about the whole process is checking in your baggage right at the entrance so you dont have to carry it with you in the queues.
The passengers entrance was into “The Atrium” on deck 5 which is superb with great lightings and live music. With bars and cafes already open it was a great ambience and a great start to the trip. We just sat down to sip a “virgin bloody mary” (yeah the virgin version, it was 1pm!) We then checked out our room, dropped our hand baggage and hit the “Plantation restaurant” which is where all the “inclusive” food gets served.
Om Nom Nom Nom
Plantation restaurant offers buffets for all meals. The meals included different kinds of salads, soup, meat dishes, fish and seafood. Throughout the journey, the restaurant maintained asian cuisine for lunch and italian for dinners. Whilst I loved their asian meals, I wasn’t a big fan of their Italian meals, especially given that I am a big fan of authentic Italian cuisine. But then, please note that I am a vegetarian and I had quite a few options in the buffet which was pretty impressive. There are also other restaurants and cafes on-board where you can take your loved one for an evening of fine dining.
The safety instructions before we set to sail was pretty robust with instructions regarding the emergency processes, how to use your life jacket etc.
Once this was complete it was the sail away party time, with some music, dances, cocktails and a host as we sailed from under the Harbour bridge in Sydney. The party was on Decks 12 and 14 which are the uppermost decks and it was colourful and full on. But it was only for a couple of hours. I wished that it paused a bit after we started cruising and then continued in the night.
On-board events, facilities and entertainment
The cruise does a “Pacific daily” magazine which gets circulated to every cabin daily and it provides the schedule of the events on the cruise. Everyday there are dance lessons, yoga lessons, sitcoms, movies and themed party nights. There was a cocktail night and a country music party night in the 4 nights we spent. There was country dance lessons before the party and then the entertainment team danced with us. Apart from other events, there was a spectacular champagne waterfall during the cocktail night made by the chief chef of the cruise.
While the evenings were full on I felt that there should have been more interesting events scheduled in the morning. Well for those of you lazying around in the day time, it will work well. The on-board casino, though is a small one, is a pretty good place to hit to as well. Bingo was on almost every day and had gathered masses to it.
Ronald Storm’s performance was awesome but I felt that the sitcom was a bit boring and unnecessarily rude. The highlight “Circus” was on the last night of the cruise.
Totally loved it, the performers were great and the “elephants” on-board was hilarious!
There is also a Day spa with gym. Passengers get free access to the gym and the day spa was heavenly!
The laser show on the cocktail night was another highlight. Followed by the laser show and before the champagne waterfall there was also the dance performed by 2 of the Pacific entertainers who wore a couple of hundreds of mirrors on their body that reflected the laser beams. Such a spectacular show it was! A must watch.
Of all of the performances and presentations on the cruise, the must attend one is the “bridge tour” where the Third officer of the ship explains everything about the bridge, the equipment used for navigation and also the captain introducing the crew. Its a great place to gain some knowledge of the ship you are on!
On day 2 of our voyage we even caught glimpses of a pod of Dolphins swimming in the ocean.
There is plenty of duty free shopping on-board including alcohol, jewellery, perfumes, a professional photographer, swim wear, clothing and did I mention alcohol? 😉
Of everything on the cruise, my favourites were the bridge tour, the circus, the champagne waterfall, the laser show, Ronald Storm’s performance, the open screen night cinema on Deck 14, the dance classes and the day spa!
The cruise director Zoltina-J, the dancers and entertainers Alex and crew have done a tremendous job keeping all of us entertained and keeping us busy to get the “grape vine to the right” and a “grape vine to the left” correct, oh yeah I am talking abt the dance lessons!
The open air theatre, the dance lessons, the kids pool kept the kiddos busy and the parents happy. So I would definitely recommend it for both couples and families. There are no singles cabins on this cruise. So if you cant find a partner, this is not a place to be in or you can book a 2 person cabin :p
Also do not forget to carry the sea sickness medicines and have some Ginger Ale if you feel sick on-board. One of the staff of the cruise shared this tip with us.
So if you intend to take this cruise be prepared to chill out and lazy around pampering yourself and may be join the entertainers in a hip-hop class or two!