The pull for land travel is strong but equally as powerful for Travel Writer Mel Bobbermien is the call of the ocean. Fresh off a trip on P&O Cruises’ Pacific Aria, she dishes on her experience.
When you hear your favourite cruise brand is getting not one but TWO new ships transferred into its fleet, you obviously book yourself a cabin on one of those vessels! For me, that brand is P&O Cruises (I know, it’s rare for anyone to claim that, but they’ve always been great to me) and the ship is Pacific Aria.
I tried my hardest to avoid onboard spoilers, which was practically impossible given I work in travel and knowing everything about the industry is kind of important. But I managed my expectations until I recently had the opportunity to test her out for myself.
And what I found was, I LOVED the ship! I took a seven-day cruise on the P&O ship and below is a bit on why I think everyone needs to give her a go.
1. The subtle art-deco feel
Okay, so the reception area has two pronounced Pug statues lined with old-school books & a varnished marble finish. Then, you turn the corner to go top up your cruise card (oh yes, this is exciting) and there is a giant mural of a French Bulldog giving peace signs.
The Pantry (we will touch on this) also has tonnes of tiny little photo frames that surprise you everywhere you look. It was like a whole season of The Block design challenges on one ship – amazing.
2. The Pantry
This is becoming a signature for the P&O ships and we loved it. Not only can you indulge in as many cuisines as you like (as many times as you like – guilty!) but there is no questioning who sneezed on your food.
While they always cater to western culture, the Indian, Asian and Mexican food is not to be missed – it is simply phenomenal. They also do a special kids dinner which runs from 4:30-5:15 and the menu includes chicken nuggets, chips, burgers – it’s quite cute.
3. Included Signature Dining
For frequent cruise travellers, it’s almost foreign to have specialty restaurants included for free. Yep. FREE!
Angelo’s is the Italian restaurant onboard and you can have an entrée (or two), main meal and dessert. Or, two main meals, two desserts, five entrees – the choice is yours.
Next, you have The Dragon Lady which rotates their menus so dishes on night one will be completely different to the meals served on night four, but you can dine in both restaurants exclusively for dinner which means… book ahead. The food here was phenomenal and highly recommended.
4. Top-Up Cruise Card Stations
Well, call me old fashioned but I’m a ‘cash on my card’ kind of girl and the new kiosks outside reception let you deposit cash, check your balance, withdraw foreign cash (amazing) and top-up your cruise card with a credit card all-in-one.
They’re a great service, especially if you haven’t had your morning coffee and aren’t ready to converse with people yet.
5. The Theatre Shows
Being a bit of a theatre nerd in my spare time, I had to go into the shows with no expectations because I genuinely didn’t know what to expect. All I can say is Aria’s current cast is made up of an incredibly talented bunch.
There is a special dance performance piece which was created specifically to be performed onboard P&O ships, as well as a piece called ‘Sideshow Alley’ which had haunted 1920’s circus feels – great productions.
6. The Ports & Shore Excursions
Probably an important point to touch on is the ports and what to expect (even if you’ve done the cruise before). Selling shore excursions to customers before they depart is SO important.
The misconception that they are expensive and to book once you’re on-shore or through another supplier, is a myth that needs to be squashed. Port Vila, Mare and Noumea are such beautiful places and the only true way to explore them is with a local guide – book a shore excursion.
To be honest, what we loved most about the Aria and the experience onboard is how adaptable to change they were and how professionally they communicated anything and everything that was happening.
- READ: P&O scores big names for comedy festival at sea line-up
- READ: P&O’s heartfelt delivery to hundreds of children
- READ: P&O is launching a 1980s Tribute Cruise
Have you cruised on Pacific Aria? Tell us about your experience below.
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