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

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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and related maritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Please be assured that the author is NOT associated with any Cruise Company or Cruise-Travel Agency. The author has been in the Passenger Shipping and Cruise Industry since 1960, and although now long retired, but remain delighted to continue to share my vast knowledge with those who love to take their vacation by sea! Thus I continue to write on worthy Cruise Companies and their wonderful ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts to ensure that you, my wonderful readers will make the best-informed choice possible on which company or ship will be just perfect for your next cruise vacation, regardless which part of the world you wish to sail in!



Please Note: Photographs in this review were taken by & © the author, Reuben Goossens and Mr. Hun-Eng Tan

The Photograph above was kindly provided by Pacific Aria’s wonderful Photographers manager

As well as a few originally provided by P&O Cruises Australia


Page One 


I am sure that many regular readers of Cruise Australia and ssMaritime will be well aware that I and my good friend Mr. Hun-Eng Tan have cruised on the Pacific Aria a good number of times. Of course during our many cruises having been from 7 to 18 nights in duration, we have made many good friends among the fine crew on board and all I can say the service has been outstanding in all areas of the ship, from our suite stewards, Restaurants waiters and staff, and The Pantry, has been simply outstanding! The same applies to all the Bars and Lounge staff, a special mention to the wonderful staff at the Ocean Bar and special thank you to Annaliza for looking after me in an outstanding manner!

I was delighted to discover that Maître’d Mr. Edison Fernandes was once again on board for he is an outstanding person for the job and a simply wonderful man as well! During the various voyages we have enjoyed on the Pacific Aria, we have had Mr. Fernandes on a good number of cruises and he has been simply outstanding, as has all of the staff, from the Restaurant managers, to our waiter Kapel and his assistant Sumith. Although the food has been good at the Waterfront Restaurant in the past, but as we boarded on this cruise we were greatly surprised by the colossal change to the Waterfront Menus, and that applies to Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.

Our Maître’d Edison Fernandes, my friend & carer-

Hun-Eng Tan and myself seated in the Waterfront-

The new choices are exciting, especially the brand lunch menu. The new menu now offers an exciting range of “Starters” and believe me they are simply amazing! Then there are some very tasty monster sized “Club Sandwiches” on offer. If you feel hungry, why-- not try one of the mouth watering “Mains” on offer! To complete the lunch come the biggest torture of all, and yes it is called “Dessert”, but how could you possibly not enjoy one of these sweet delights? And, yes I enjoyed an amazing lunch and all this was even before the ship had left Brisbane and guess what, I have to be honest; I only had the Entrée and a Mains meal, and sadly was unable fit in a delicious Dessert, but what I did have was simply AMAZING!

Our evening meal was another delicately created Entrée being a superb smooth Butternut cream soup, followed by the Main of Ocean Trout, which was so fresh and simply a meal that was beyond belief. The main course came with a range of vegetables and sauces that were perfection. For dessert I had the Chocolate Mud Cake, which was a triumph all by itself, and one of the best I ever tasted be it on a ship or land for that matter, and I have had what was considered as the best in Australia. I will have more to say about the cuisine available on the Pacific Aria a little later day when I cover the Waterfront Restaurant where we generally dine for Breakfast, Lunch and Diner.

Amazingly, all the aforementioned delicious food was consumed on the day we boarded the ship, and things are certainly looking very good. In addition, the weather was perfect, for there is no wind, the sea is very calm as we have headed out into Moreton Bay and at the time of writing this we are now out in deep sea, and passengers are happy and feel perfectly relaxed!

Reuben Goossens.

The above was written aboard Pacific Aria 10.55 pm on November 10, 2018.



Our last cruise on the Pacific Aria was in May this year (2018) and since then she headed off to Singapore, where she has received a refit and a makeover. Therefore, before commencing my review I am delighted to introduce some of the new features and delights aboard the Pacific Aria and also the Southern Cross which now is so beautifully draped along her shapely bow!

Part One

Pacific Aria Refurbishments

Between August 5 and September 18, 2018 the Pacific Aria being in Singapore she received a partial refurbishment as well spending 12 days in dry-dock having her hull cleaned and repainted as well as having P&O’s beautiful new Southern Cross logo draped along her dark blue shapely bow!

Pacific Aria seen featuring the Southern Cross along her bow in her Singapore dry-dock

Photograph provided by & © P&O Cruises Australia

Upon first boarding, it may not be all that obvious that she has been changed very much, for in general it has been mostly cosmetic and it may not even be noticeable to regular cruise goers on the Aria. However, the carpets in hallways are all brand new, in fact more than 10,000 square metres of new carpet has been fitted, as well as 6,000 metres of new fabric.

Pacific Aria has certainly undergone a considerable overhaul, for there are 1,000 pieces of new furniture installed, also a new selection of modern and stylish pieces of artwork and new contemporary wallpaper adorns some of the ship’s public spaces, thus there is much to discover.

The Dome:

But a major transformation has taken place in one of the most popular venues on board, being “The Dome” far forward on Deck 12. This spacious venue offers wonderful ocean views, and it has been completely transformed and has been given a new contemporary “Nautical Theme” with dark blue and white hues, as well as new drapes, new cushions and soft lighting.


Above & below: The Dome, a starboard side, looking forward from aft to forward and the Bar

The photograph below is the same area, but just slightly further aft and looking to the inward wall



Again the same area, but now looking along her newly installed windows


Tables and chairs, as well as long sofas, located far forward overlooking the bow of the ship


Bandstand and DJ area as well as part of the huge timber dance floor!


A view forward along The Dome’s portside

Elemis - Barber Shop:

Directly below “The Dome” on Deck 11 the “Elemis Spa” has also seen an enhancement and now there is even a brand new “Barber Shop”. The Barber Shop comes complete with a traditional leather swivel chair and is surrounded by blue and white Barber Shop curtains, and there are even gold-framed mirrors.

Here at the Old style “Barber Shop” you will find some good old fashioned

Hair dressing with a touch of old time class!

Photograph provided by & © P&O Cruises Australia

The Adult Only - Oasis:

The “Oasis - aft on Deck 10, also received an upgrade with the Oasis Bar having been given a new fresh look, and along the starboard side there is a luxurious comfortable new sofa and table section, all located under cover beside large windows. In addition there are also new tables and chairs on the port side, and several cube like Cabana’s have been installed providing the perfect place for couples or four friends to enjoy a private place to relax. All this makes the “Oasis” an even more attractive place to be and enjoy the pool and enjoy a drink from the Oasis Bar.




Above & below: The Oasis has been refurnished with the finest of furnishings on the market

Making this a quality place for relaxation for Adults!



Photograph provided by & © P&O Cruises Australia

Suites on Deck 10:

Finally, all the ships Suites, which are located forward of the “Oasis” have also been upgraded, included of course the Suite I always occupy.

The reason I always book the same Suite is because I require a room with disabled facilities, as well as having space to park my scooter and a specially designed bathroom, which is suitable for me. The fact is there only one suitable Suite on Pacific Aria, therefore I always book it!

When we arrived on Deck 10 the first thing we noted that the hallway carpets which were previously a dark red were new, and so much brighter and it suited the ship well with its predominant Blue and white pattern.

The hallway’s new carpets, which I found made the hallway look brighter


The Lounge looks great with new the new classy look carpets, the chairs also been reupholstered, and the painting reframed


AS we discovered the room also featured a new much larger Samsung High Definition Flat Screen TV


Here is a better view of the new Samsung Large HD flat screen TV and the lounge from the bedroom


A view towards the hallway, the Bar and the entrance to the Dressing Room, come Office, note my scooter in the hallway


Above we see the Dressing Room, but I always use it as my office, being a maritime historian, I am always writing when I am able, and I did commence this review right here! As the crew are aware that I am joining the ship and always book this same suite, they have my special pillows on the bed, an office chair at the desk, etc! Where you see the water bottle and the tray with glasses there is really a sink and a tap, which we never use. Therefore I cover it up with a round serving tray as you can see, and the space is more useful!

This is a room of mirrors, for behind me are three floor to ceiling sliding mirrored doors, which makes up three massive wardrobes, which can take our suitcases and bags and as many clothes as you might wish to bring. We have never filled these wardrobes to date on any of the voyages we have been fortunate to sail on the Pacific Aria, and I also sailed on her when she was the ms Ryndam for Holland America Line, thus I know these suites so well!

New furnishings have been placed on the large balcony, and the new table and chairs is topped with a solid marble table top

If you really want to spoil yourself, why not book a Suite for a cruise on the Pacific Aria, for it is money well spent, for not only do you receive a wonderfully spacious room, but there are some other delightful extras! See your licensed cruise agent and make sure you obtain the best fare possible!

To view the many other fine venues on board, such as the three level Atrium, the Internet café, its lounges, the Cinema, the Ocean Bar and all the other fine venues on board, including those we have looked at above which have been refitted earlier this year, including the Suites. Thus you will be able to see the dramatic changes that have taken place in each of those venues. I suggest that you visit the “Papua New Guinea (PNG) Review, which is located on the INDEX at the bottom of this as well as on Page Two.


The Author is 100% without any bias:

Please Note: I have been rating ships all over the world and from many different countries. & and all its associate sites are 100 % non-commercial and I am not connected to any cruise/travel agency or shipping company, and as you may have gathered my sites do not feature any advertising, paid or otherwise. Thus the ratings below are from my long experience, having been in the Passenger Shipping and Cruise Industry since 1960, although I have been long retired. Thus, considering the aforementioned I am able to provide a Cruise & Ship review that is completely without any bias!


Part Two

Reviewing Our 7 Night Barrier Reef Cruise

Seven nights simply went so fast, and now I am home reflecting on what has been such an excellent cruise, which both my friend and carer Eng Tan and I have enjoyed immensely! As most of my readers will know, I speak with many passengers during each day and obtain their thoughts regarding their time on the Pacific Aria, what they think of the ship, the service, food, entertainment, and so on! I can honestly report that 98.9% were completely delighted with their cruise and all said they would certainly book again. I recommended to many, especially first time cruisers to do the Papua New Guinea Cruise, for it is such a spectacular and a colourful voyage thanks to PNG’s wonderful people!

On this cruise we had an excellent Cruise Director, who was simply known as “Kabir”, and this young man had a great personality and he was hospitable to all the passengers, and he certainly was a vastly talented man! I found that the in room movies were also of a high standard and most varied, I will just mention a few blockbusters: “Mama Mia-Here We Go Again”; “Jurassic Park-Fallen Kingdom”; “Ant Man and the Wasp”; “12 Strong”; “Skyscraper”; “Hotel Artemis”; “The Spy Who Dumped Me”; “Mission Impossible - Fallout”; “Life of the Party”; “Guardians of the Tomb”; “Tully”. The aforementioned are just a partial list; in addition there are also a multitude of children’s movies and programs, as well as Sky & BBC News, Australian Sports channels and other channels. There were movies also screened on the large screen in the Ships Cinema.

Like all on cruises, there are countless activities during the day, and it commences, yes folks believe it or not at 7am at the Elemis Gym, where there is the 1. “Stretch & Relaxation” session and at 7.30am it continues with the “Abdominal Conditioning” session, which ends at 8am. Both sessions are under a professional instructor and are free of charge. During the day there are a multitude of quizzes. Music events activities, be it in art or even a hilarious “Musical Game Show” in the Marquee Theatre, it just never stops, and you may choose what to do and what if so desire do nothing at all and relax up on deck!

PLEASE NOTE: When you first board the ship and enter your cabin, make sure you collect your copy of the “P&O GOOD TIMES”. This daily guide will arrives in your cabin every evening and it will contain a complete listing of all the next days’ activities, entertainments, music gigs and shows, etc. In addition it will shot that days dinning times, as dinning times may alter whilst in port.

What amazed me whilst on this cruise, even on day three that I met passengers who did not know that they could dine at the Waterfront for free, and that it was included in their cruise fare. Many assumed that it was only available at an optional fee. I asked them, have you not read the P&O printed material in your cabin, or a brochure before you boarded the ship? No they had not, and also some had booked directly per phone, or online with P&O, or another cruise booking site. Having been in the industry since 1960, I always recommend that you never book your cruise in that manner, for you will receive no service whatsoever, although there is sufficient information online, but people just do not seem to have the time these days to locate what they require, and as I was told, some seemed to have enough trouble printing their own tickets and labels online.

Thus why not find yourself a fully licensed experienced Cruise & Travel Agency, who will give you a full service, and they will provide much more information, which all online booking sites, no matter which one it is will not provide! In addition, my agent prints my tickets, for if they would not, they would not get my bookings! Thus I found it sad that many on board just did not know that there were three amazing dinning options available to them free of charge. But then again, there is a booklet “The Cruiseling COMPASS” in every cabin that makes it clear, the problem is, the booklet looks more like an advertising magazine, and I was told; “We just threw it in the rubbish, it was just selling stuff.”

I feel that it would be good for P&O to provide a separate very clear notice with their tickets/labels setting out in simple terms the Free Dinning Options available, as well as those at an Optional Cost on their ships!

Thus let us now look at the dinning options available on the Pacific Aria.

1 … Dinning Included in Your Fare:                                             

“Waterfront” Restaurant aft on Deck 7 - This is the a la carte Dinning Room, where you receive full waiter service, and order from an excellent menu. The Waterfront is open as follows: Breakfast 7.30 to 9.30am; Lunch 12Noon to 1.30pm; Dinner 5 to 9pm. Here it is open sitting, where you can dine when you wish and with whom you wish. You can just arrive or pre book if you wish for dinner.

The raise mid section of this fine Dinning Room

Please Note: I have added two menus below “Lunch” and “Dinner” and although they will change of course during the cruise, but it will give you an idea of what could be on offer, if desired these Menus can be enlarged, just click on the link below each menu. When the menu opens, it will be in a reduced size, just click on it and it will open in its full version!

For a large version of the menu Click HERE


For a large version of the menu Click HERE

Both menus were kindly provided by Maître’d Mr. Edison Fernandes

And are © P&O Cruises Australia



“The Pantry” located aft of the pool on Deck 11, this amazing facility offers a range of International and Australian food outlets (much like a food court in a large shopping Centre, but it is all free), is open for Breakfast 6.30 to 10.30am; Lunch 11.30am to 2.30pm; Dinner 5.30 to 9pm.

“The Pantry” is unique as it offers interactive dining at a range of stylish individual food each outlet offering a range of contemporary Australian as well as International Cuisines! And having personally tested the Pantry, I can certainly vouch for it!

At “The Pantry” you discover such outlets like; “Hooks Fish & Chips,” as well as the Indian “Curry House,” indulge your passion for great Asian dishes at Styx” offering Asian style foods, then there is great Mexican food from “Mexicana,” a Sandwich and Bread Roll from “Kettle and Bun.” But, YUM there is all those wonderful Roasts at the “Fat Cow,” Be it Lamb, Beef, Pork with crackling, and so much more! There are burgers, Vegetarian and Vegan options, and to complete a good meal, there is always the “Sugar Bar” for a variety of desserts. Also forward and aft of the Pantry there is the all day and night popular coffee and tea station!

When in “The Pantry” you can enjoy your meals in a delightfully casual stylish café setting, in addition there is also ample seating by the Lido Pool, being a delightful place to dine in fresh air when the roof is open, or even when it is closed during cooler climes! But even whilst there is a shower the sides are always sheltered, also there is a deck space aft of the Pantry.


Angelo’s” Italian Restaurant Deck 8 aft (FREE Dinning Facility) Dinner 5 to 9pm;

A glamorous restaurant inspired by the great Italian Diva Sofia Loren

This is one of our favourite restaurants as; 1. We love good Italian cuisine, and 2. Angelo’s offers the perfect menus and their dishes are simply sublime!

The Author seen at Angelo’s


Above & below: The above images were taken on various cruises on the Aria, for we are regular dinners at the fabulous Angelo’s


Hun-Eng (Eng) Tan enjoying some great Italian food, Pepper anyone?



“Dragon Lady” Pan Asian Restaurant Deck 8 aft (FREE Dinning Facility) Dinner 5 to 9pm. Reservations are recommended for “Angelo’s” and “Dragon Lady’s”.

A very different Asian Experience on the Pacific Aria

Photograph provided by & © P&O Cruises Australia



2 … Dinning at an Optional Charge:

“The Grill” on Lido Deck 11. The Grill is located forward of the Lido Pool over on the starboard side next to the windows. It offers variety of low cost snack options, such as Burgers, Pizzas, Pies and Fries, etc. Open 12 Noon till late.

Forward of the Lido Pool on the right next to the windows is “The Grill”



“Salt Grill” - However, should you desire something very special, why not have Lunch or Dinner at Luke Mangan’s Glamorous “Salt Grill” - located on Deck 8 amidships on the starboard side. Should pre book! Lunch 11.30am to 1pm, Dinner 5.30pm to 9pm. Reservations are highly recommended!

The author enjoying the delight’s of the Salt Grill and its excellent service



“Chef’s Table” - This is the Ultimate Dining Experience and if you love fine food should not miss this once ion a lifetime experience! You will enjoy a delightful degustation dinner with fine wine pairings, with the meal being hosted by the Executive Chef and your Maître’d.

Bookings are essential as numbers are at each event is limited. Bookings can be made through your Maître’d, or one of the Restaurant Managers, your table waiter will put you in touch with them.

Please Note: Page Two Continues with Entertainment and Destinations - The Whitsundays (Hamilton island - Cairns (2 full Days)  Willis Island Experience! Use the LINK below.


Conclusion to Page One, I can honestly say that Eng (Mr. Tan) and I had a wonderful cruise and Eng enjoyed his time in Cairns which I have covered above. However, it was really so nice to have a good number people come up to me and say hello, for they had read one of my reviews of the Pacific Aria, and booked a cruise on her, and one couple said that they decided to book it because of the review, and now this was their second cruise, and another told me much the same, but this was their first cruise ever. However, what I learned from so many passengers I spoke with, they certainly had a great time and as I said earlier the vast majority enjoyed the ships excellent facilities, as well as the great service and wide variety of food, entertainment and of course the itinerary. The vast majority said that they will certainly book another cruise on the Pacific Aria, or another P&O ship as there were many from down south, as well some Kiwis.

One particular couple I spoke with said;

“We will book another cruise for it was better than what we really expected. We ate at The Waterfront, and the Italian one as well as The Pantry, and they were free and we enjoyed the food. We have friends who have gone on another cruise ship, and they say that they are always paying to eat in other restaurants, for when they went to the free dinning room the queue of people to get in was so long, they just left and paid at other place. Thankfully, here, it is all so organised. We really enjoyed the shows, which were unbelievable, and all the great music around the ship. But Reuben, it was the Staff who really made our holiday for they were so wonderful, friendly and always so helpful. All I can say, this has been the best holiday Julie and I have ever had, so Reuben we’ll be back, and go as you recommended on the Papua New Guinea cruise.”

Go to Review Page 2

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


Email the Author …  Click Here



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