MV Pacific Aria - Seven Night “Barrier Reef Discovery” Cruise Review November 9, 2018

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Please Note: All photographs on this page were taken by & © the author, Reuben Goossens and Mr. Hun-Eng Tan


Page Two

Part One

Let’s Have Entertainment

A Reminder: Cruise-Australia and all of its associate sites are 100 % non-commercial and I am not connected to any agency or shipping company, and as you may have gathered my sites do not feature any paid advertising. Thus the ratings below are from my long experience, having been in the Passenger Shipping and Cruise Industry since 1960, although I have now long been retired. Thus, I am able to provide ratings that are 100% without any bias!

Marquee - Production Shows:

As we had already seen all the Production Shows in the Marquee Theatre a good number of times before, we did not attend any, but we know well that each one is of a very high standard and well worth watching for those who have not cruised before. As I say to first time cruises, you would pay a great deal of money to see one of these top quality shops ashore, and here it is free!

The lover level of the Marquee Theatre seen on Deck 7


One of the great shows on board; “Side Show Alley”; please do NOT miss this delightful show for It is a TRUE GEM!

Please Check Your P&O GOOD TIMES every morning and plan your day, especially your evening!

Production Shows rate from 8 to 9.5 out of 10:


Marquee Showroom Guest Artist:

On Sunday November 11, at 7 & 9 pm, the Guest artist was Emma Kirk, who sang a range of Adele’s songs. OK, I have to be honest, I am not an Adele fan, but, I do know a good voice from an average one. I found that Emma certainly looked the star on stage, but sadly the performance somehow did not hit the spot. It was only with her last two songs when Emma was at her very best. But as a whole, I would say the performance was missing that something special, even though she had an excellent voice.

I rated Emma (Adele) Kirk 6.5 out of 10:


Blue Room:

After our evening meal on November 9, we decided to head to the Blue Room and listen to some music and as it turned out “The Pacific Showband” was playing that night. The band leader on bass guitar, his pianist, guitarist and drummer played an excellent set of music with many tunes from the movies. The vocalists all had fine voices and their instrumentation was perfection, it was a great evening of entertainment.

“The Pacific Showband’ on the night of November 9, 2018

The Good news was that they would return the next evening with a great set of the James Bond themes, and that was not just another wonderful evening, but obviously one of the most poplar musical events.

The James Bond themed Night on November 10

The Pacific Showband I rate as 9.8 out of 10:


MIX Bar:

The Mix Bar has two small Bandstands, one aft which has a grand piano surrounded with bar stools and a place for drinks, and the aft Mix Bar of course. The second Bandstand at the forward Mix Bar where usually there will be a guitar vocalist, a vocalist, or a duo.

At the Mix Bay aft, we greatly enjoyed the piano playing and the fine vocals of Brian Barber. He has such a vast repertoire and passengers simply love sitting around the piano, and around the Bar and listening, and often joining in to the great music played. Requests are always welcome. Sadly I did not have my camera with me.

Brian Barber is Rated 9.5 out of 10: 

At the MIX Bar forward (mid) a versatile duo would often play by the name of, the “Shivon Cohelio Duo”. Their excellent harmonies, and beautiful songs, combined with guitar playing that was simple perfection, listening to them was a delight. Thus we enjoyed their performances greatly!

The “Shivon Cohelio Duo” seen at the (mid) “MIX’ Bar

The Shivon Cohelio Duo is Rated 9 out of 10:


Of course the other music options available on board the Pacific Aria, such as “The Sound Blasters”, and guitarist and singer Ian Berry, although I did hear them, in passing they sounded very good, but sadly I was heading elsewhere and did not stay or even see them, but what I heard was just fine.


Part Two


Whitsunday’s (Hamilton Island) - Cairns (2 Days) & Willis Island

As stated above, on this cruise we would call at the Whitsunday’s (Hamilton Island), and have two wonderful days in Cairns. On the return voyage to Brisbane, a stop was made just off Willis Island, and will cover the aforementioned destinations below.

Sunday November 11 - Whitsundays: Pacific Aria dropped anchor around 7am and soon tenders  as well as rather luxurious vessels from various operators would take  those who were on excursions, or passengers desiring to visit for Hamilton Island. My friend Eng Tan having been to the region whilst on the MV Oriana on the way to Southampton and did an excursion, decided to just head o Hamilton Island and take a look around and take the bus around the Island. Eng was fortunate to board one of Hamilton Islands’ more glamorous vessels to take him to the Island’s Marina.

A view of the Pacific Aria as the Hamilton Yacht heads off to its destination

All photographs of the ship and ashore were taken & are © Mr. Hun-Eng Tan

Upon arrival he was amazed by the magnificent roof of the “Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s” what can only be called a sculptural roof. As the photograph taken by Eng will show it looks like the tail of a Humpback Whale, as well as its huge Fin, and Hamilton Island has so much more to offer!

Hamilton Island Yacht Club

Right at the Marina are a good number of shops and restaurants and the seafood restaurant is really worthwhile, for I have dinned there in the past and it is supreme, as the fish is so fresh, arrives from the trawler each morning and you can have it for lunch! The last time I was there I had Sweet Lip, and Wow, how good it was! Eng Had a walk around the shops and the sculpture garden, and then took the FREE hop on, hop off Island bus around the Island. Soon he found himself atop of “One Tree Hill Lookout”, which has views all around, to the ocean as well as toward the Islands beaches and resorts. Having taken his bus tour, Eng decided to return to the ship for a spicy Indian at the Panty, which he really enjoys!

A view from One Tree Hill Lookout towards the main Hamilton Beachside Resort


A view of the Pacific Aria upon Eng’s return

Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited Island in the Whitsundays, and it is also the only Island in the Great Barrier Reef that has its own Commercial Airport serving most of the main cities around Australia. Hamilton Island is located some 881 kl north of Brisbane and 512 kl south of Cairns. And besides all that it is the springboard to countless destinations, visits to the reef, snorkelling and scuba diving and countless other excursions, which can be arranged before departure, or at the excursion Deck on Deck 7 forward.

PS: As I remained on board it was so wonderful that just before 11am the Captain came on the ships speakers and gave a beautifully prepared speech in remembrance of November the 11th, and there was a minute silence throughout the ship, completed with the last post heard everywhere on the ship, and it was very moving!

November 12&13 - Cairns - overnight: Pacific Aria arrived at the after end of the “Cairns Cruise *Liner Terminal”, which is officially named “Trinity Wharf” at 9.45am.

Of course there were a host of excursions available, be it to Green island, out to the Barrier Reef and a huge pontoon that is more like a multi level restaurant, bar and lounges and other facilities, as well as sun decks, etc. Of course the “Skyrail” Kuranda and the Historic Train ride down is always popular, or there is the coach scenic drive up to Kuranda, giving time to spend there,

A view of the main street of Kuranda


Then comes the exciting Skyrail down hill, and it needs to be known it is in stages, as you disembark, you will be at a timber platform high in the treetops and you can walk around for a short time, before caching the next stage down.

Eng’s photo taken from his Skyrail gondola


A view of lower part of the Waterfall

Having arrived at the bottom, the next stop is the Butterfly House, which was exciting and very colourful, as can be seen below.


Just two of the countless butterflies seen, in fact one was pale orange and so delicate it was difficult to photograph

Having two full days in Cairns was extremely popular with all the passengers aboard for it gave them an opportunity to explore so many places as well enjoy countless activities. Many headed off to Green Island of even further afield and went snorkelling on the Reef, etc. There sufficient time to explore the city and the surroundings of Cairns. Many enjoyed the night market, and of course head off and dine out and enjoy some of the fresh local seafood! Cairns is the perfect destination, therefore on this voyage there were far more passengers who had flown up to Brisbane from New Zealand, Adelaide, Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney, and places in between.

This is the forward part of the Cairns Cruise *Liner Terminal, but we were berthed aft at “Trinity Wharf.”

The photo is deceptive, but that is clever shooting with the right lens!

PS: Forgive me for one of my longstanding rants, but being an old time maritime historian and recognised worldwide as a maritime authority. I do have to say that the term *Liner cannot never be used for a cruise ship. The term “liner” used to be a passenger ship that was scheduled on a regular basis to sail from point A to B and return, even though there may have been ports in between A & B, such as long voyages from Southampton to Australia, etc.

But sadly the days of the great liners have now long gone, and that happened when the Jet age came into being, and most of the grand old liners began to lose their clientele and money. These ships were either sold, or where converted into cruise ships, as holiday cruises had become profitable! Thus, technically ‘liners” no longer exist today, although Cunard owned by Carnival likes to pretend their big cruise ships, like the QM2 is still a liner, but it is an huge glorified American designed hotel on water, and she and all ships much like her are not liners, even though a few may undertake the occasional Trans-Atlantic cruises! When P&O ended their liner services, they changed the prefixes of their ships from RMS Orsova (Royal Mail Ship) to SS Orsova (Steam Ship) WHY, because they were no longer liners and Mail Ships! If you are interested in Classic liners, visit;

On November 13 - we departed Cairns at 5pm and the weather continued to be just perfect, although there had been a short shower in Cairns late in the afternoon. As we headed back into deeper waters the sea was calm as it has been since departure from Brisbane. Tomorrow, those who have never been in this region before were looking forward to a special event, which was, a close by visit to Willis Island”.

Wednesday November 14: After a hardy breakfast, we prepared ourselves for the Aria to stop along the east side of Willis Island, being Australia’s remote “Weather Monitoring Stations” operated by the “Australian Bureau of Meteorology.” There are usually four weather observers posted at this station, with one of these being the Officer in Charge and another, an electronic and computer specialist.

Our view of a tiny Atoll known as “Willis Island

The ship arranged a two way radio conversation with the weather station’s Officer in Charge and we received an exciting insight f what actually happens on the Island and the work that is undertaken by the med that are stationed there. Thus this cruise provides not just exciting ports, but also some exciting insights of what happens on this tiny coral atoll, which also is home to a large number of different birds as well as Green Turtles. Our stop here was really worthwhile.

A close up of the Weather Station on Willis Island

Voyage back to Brisbane: There was much to do on our final days, including a Culinary (cooking) demonstration in the Marquee with the Executive Chef and the Maître’d. Once again, the weather remained fine and the ship sailed as smooth as silk as they say. Later today Eng happen to catch a beautiful sunset, and I will close the review officially with that photograph, and to say that this may have been a short cruise for us, but it was certainly a perfect cruise in so many ways!

Return to Pacific Aria Review Page One

P&O Cruises Australia - INDEX:

Pacific Aria Barrier Reef Review:  Cruise & Destinations Review - Page One.

Pacific Aria Review Page 2:  Continuation of the   Cruise & Destinations Review.

Pacific Aria PNG Review:  2-Page Review & 3-Page Photo “Papua New Guinea Experience”.

MV Pacific Explorer:  P&O’s new 77,441 Ton Flagship.

Page Two:  Deck Plan & Accommodations.

MV Pacific Dawn:  Popular 70,285 Ton Brisbane based ship.

Pacific Adventure:  New 114,147 Ton Grand Class Ship Due in 2020.

Enter the Cruise-Australia …     - INDEX


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