Please Note: Cruise-Australia and my other related maritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Please be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise company or any travel or cruise agency, etc! The author has been in the Passenger Shipping industry for around sixty-six years and although I am now retired, but I am delighted to continue to share my vast knowledge with those who love to take their vacation by sea. Thus I continue to write in relation to worthy Cruise ships and their respective companies in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts 1; for their pleasure, 2; but more so to ensure that you, my wonderful readers will make the best-informed choice possible on which ship will be just right for you.
Pacific Aria is seen at anchor of an Island at
Please Note: Photographs on this page were taken by & are © by Reuben Goossens & Hun-Eng Tan, unless noted otherwise!
Cruise Review, Public Venues, & Dinning Experiences!
Amazingly in the past six months, my close
friend Mr. Hun-Eng Tan and I have enjoyed three cruises on the Pacific Aria. We
first thoroughly enjoyed an eighteen-night cruise on the Pacific Aria in August
2016, and we then decided to
Thus on Friday February 10, 2017 we departed the Brisbane Portside Cruise Terminal and commenced our 14-day Papua New Guinea cruise, which as I am writing this, is certainly proving to be a fascinating voyage of discovery indeed, for many more reasons than one!
The author is seen aboard Pacific Aria having a wonderful Evening Meal at Angelo’s Restaurant.
On each of our three cruises, P&O’s MV Pacific Aria has provided amazingly high standards, which we have now come to expect from this delightful and beautiful ship. The “Aria” has proved to be a huge success story for P&O, and yet P&O continues to improve their product on a constant basis, which clearly shows the pride P&O has in their ships!
2… Passengers Comments:
Whenever I have spoken with passengers, and believe me I have certainly spoken with a great many of them, all have praised the friendliness of the crew, especially in regard the cabin and dining room stewards, who simply cannot do enough for them and all with a genuine smile. In addition, passengers have without exception praised the quality of the food as well as the excellent variety in all the dining venues! But, what has amazed me is that an amazing number of the passengers I have spoken to were in fact “first time cruisers” and each of them clearly stated: “We are having an amazingly wonderful time, for it is far better than we ever expected it to be, In fact it was so much so, that we have booked another cruise here onboard!” Whilst those who are regular cruisers, yet being the first time on the Pacific Aria, said they had fallen in love with this ship and that she was simply outstanding and without a doubt the jewel of the P&O fleet. I did mention that the Pacific Eden is almost the identical ship, and that the Pacific Dawn is to be upgraded to a similar standard as the Pacific Aria, and the Dawn Princess will in 2017 be completely transformed in a similar style and will be renamed the Pacific Explorer!
The Pacific Explorer will feature the new Southern Cross logo on her bow
After the cruise and the passengers have arrived home they will soon receive questionnaire from P&O regarding their cruise. In relation to the food on the Pacific Aria in all the dinning venues, passengers who completed the questionnaires rated the Pacific Aria very highly regarding the cuisine! In fact, considering questionnaires of the entire P&O fleet of the same time over six months, the Pacific Aria has scored the highest rating for providing the finest food in the fleet, although the passengers completing this would never have known this, but I managed to discover this fact!
3… This Multi-Page Feature:
Besides a cruise review, I have decided to cover and show you the ship at large. Her many fine Lounges, Bars, Restaurants, Theatres, and countless other facilities, and you will find this all on Page One. Whilst all this can be seen a comprehensive cruise review is provided on the voyage and the ship itself! Page Two features her pools, one of which is an adult only pool at the Oasis Deck with has it own Bar and a huge deck space! In addition, there are many experiences to be had at “the EDGE” be it walking the plank over the side of the ship, or taking a flying fox ride almost the length of the ship and many other adventures that are to be had! Internally, view the very spacious Fitness Centre (Gym) that has every kind of equipment you could wish for to get fit. Or join one of the daily “Stretch” or Abdominal Conbditioning” classes in the Gym at 7 am, or 5 & 6 pm.
Page Two also covers the ships fine and spacious accommodations, with the vast majority of rooms having a separate bed area and a lounge area. All rooms have of course a bathroom, with most having a bath with an overhead shower. All balcony rooms and suites have a spa bath as many additional features. The page concludes with a Deck Plan of the ship. Page Three will cover the wonderful ports visited during our fascinating PNG cruise, which was without a doubt an exciting experience, especially for the good number of ex servicemen onboard this cruise. An amazing experience for those who had never been to such a rare and non commercial destination, where you can mix with the kindest of villagers, visit their homes and be made welcome, and see ancient customs, dances and hear songs from villagers from the coast, Islands and the Highlands, even Goroka Mudmen. PNG is the most remarkable cruise experience and certainly, a MUST DO!
My friend and carer Hun-Eng Tan (Eng) went ashore to explore, as well as partaking of several shore excursions during this cruise. Although Eng has been on countless cruises and seen most of the ports around the world, but this was the his first cruise time to Papua New Guinea and Eng just wishes to do it all again, for he claims this cruise to the PNG as; “The Best Cruise Ever.”
But now, let us discover what makes the Pacific Aria such a special ship!
Maritime Historian, Author & Cruise ‘n’ Ship Reviewer.
Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in 1960.
Please Note: Photographs on this page were taken by & are © by Reuben Goossens & Hun-Eng Tan, unless mentioned otherwise
The Pacific Aria, as I previously described in my review of August 2016 is in superb shape and she is sublimely comfortable in every respect. Therefore, as I revealed in my earlier review, each venue features a very different décor and without a doubt my favourite public venue is located starboard side on Deck 8, being the delightful and supreme “Ocean Bar.” Here you will not only find all your favourite drinks and cocktails, but also the finest Barista style Coffee afloat, being made from the world finest beans by Barista trained staff! Hello Jennifer, who I rated 9 out of 10.
Above & below: two views of the Ocean Bar, the Bar area and the dance floor and the bandstand
It is a spacious venue, which has activities during the day as well in the forward section
Eng Tan and I have enjoyed fine Barista made coffee at the Ocean Bar countless times
Heading just aft on starboard side you will discover the delightful venue named, “THE MIX.” The MIX have two amazing Bars that specialise as follows; The forward one is the “Spirits & Ales Bar” and its venue has a décor all of it own as well as a bandstand for performances in the evening. Both of these Bars are based on the principle “where cocktails are top shelf, and the scene is Chic.”
“Spirits & Ales Bar” and its Lounge
The second The Mix Bar is the very
popular “Martini Bar” and Lounge, complete with a sit-around Grand
Piano where there are regular nightly performances by some of P&O
specialised Piano men, and vocalists! On my last two voyages, we had the
wonderful Anthony Quimby playing and he was simply amazing as are the variety
of fantastic Martinis from the Bar!
The second The Mix Bar is the very popular “Martini Bar” and Lounge, complete with a sit-around Grand Piano where there are regular nightly performances by some of P&O specialised Piano men, and vocalists! On my last two voyages, we had the wonderful Anthony Quimby playing and he was simply amazing as are the variety of fantastic Martinis from the Bar!
The “Martini Bar” and Lounge, note the sit-around Grand Piano for the nightly performances
Close by is the ultra glamorous Salt Grill Lounge, with its rich blue tones and domed high chairs and comfortable lounges. During the day, this is a popular lounge for those who love to read a book, but remember to bring your tablet with book downloads or books with you as when the ship was refitted the huge library was sadly removed and now there is no library onboard.
Above & below: Here are three delightful scenes of the Grill Lounge
Above the chair on the right, I use early in the morning to read my book
Almost opposite the Grill Lounge is a wide passage that looks towards a long Bar, and this is the Blue Room Bar located on the portside together with three semi separated Blue Rooms.
A view towards the Blue Room Bar from the Grill Lounge
These three separated, but in general considered to be one large venue, tend to be somewhat on the dark side both day and at night. Apart from the Grill Lounge, the Ocean Bar, The MIX bars and the Blue Room offer music either during the day or at night. But only in the larger of the Blue Rooms located aft, which is the music venue. The bandstand is located along the aft wall, which is covered from floor to ceiling with blue curtains matching the rest of the venue.
This is the main section of the Blue Room with its large Band Stand forward, but
some of the centre seating options are sadly not the most comfortable to say the least!
Those white looking sections in the bookshelves in the middle Blue Room are supposed to look like real books
For when this was the Holland America Line ship ms Ryndam, this was the ships library, but P&O decided to go without one
Above & below: If the curtains are kept wide open during the day, this can be
a pleasant room. But more often than not, they seem to be closed for some reason
Please Note: The complete lack of a library and the aft Blue - the music venue, offers some very poor seating options. These are my only negatives regarding the ship, which is otherwise a magnificent cruise ship, for there is so much to love about the Pacific Aria!
In the Blue Room we greatly enjoyed a most
talented band named “EXITO” who hailed from
The amazingly talented lead vocalist; Erick
Superb keyboard player and versatile vocalist; Nugie
Another band played regularly in the Blue room
being the remarkable Blues Band the Pearly Shells. I say a trio, but it
was to be a quartet, however the saxophonist, flew all the way from
Of course I have not forgotten that far forward on Deck 7 is the lower level of the “Marquee” Theatre or Showroom, whilst the balcony directly above on Deck 8. Also on Deck 8, there are shops along the portside forward, followed by the Casino. Whilst between the Ocean Bar and the Grills Lounges, but beside the MIX Bars are further Duty Free shops as well as the up market store “Pandora’s.”
The lower level on Deck 7
The “Marquee” is one of the
most comfortable Theatres around as it offers comfortable and deep sofas with
ample drink tables at hand, as well as more than ample leg room, enough to
stretch them right out.
The “Marquee” is one of the most comfortable Theatres around as it offers comfortable and deep sofas with ample drink tables at hand, as well as more than ample leg room, enough to stretch them right out.
The Marquee Theatre (Showroom) is seen from the balcony on Deck 8
“Twice Upon a Time” is one of the grandest & finest shows ever produced at Sea and the Pacific Aria has it!
Marquee Theatre Performances:
Below I will list the Production Shows, by the Pacific Entertainers as well as the Bands, Vocalists and other’s, who have not already been listed above, who have performed in the Marquee Theatre and I have scored them all accordingly.
“Off The Charts” I rated it a healthy 8 out of 10.
“Twice Upon a Time” is without a doubt one of the grandest production shows ever produced for a cruise ship. This show is so brilliantly choreographed in combination with the Sydney Dance Company as it was in its early stages, and now it is staged and it is magic beyond comprehension! This amazing show deserves to be rated a 10 out of 10!
Topside far forward on Deck 12 is the amazing “The Dome” and besides this, the Dome offers the best view during the day. At night it becomes the Night Club and the Disco and goes until the early hours in the morning for those who can make it!
The view from entering on the portside looking forward
Looking towards starboard and the DJ box, the bandstand and the dance floor
During the day, the Dome is the perfect
venues to read a good book, whilst watching the ocean pass by.
During the day, the Dome is the perfect venues to read a good book, whilst watching the ocean pass by.Also there will be a number of classes held here during the day, be it Ballroom Dancing to Line Dancing as well as a vast variety of other activities.
The Dome looking from amidships forward to aft
The Dome’s Bar is located on the starboard side and it provides a superb view as well over the bow of the ship!
I will commence on Deck 6 being the lower level of a three deck Atrium. Here you will find a very spacious venue complete with a fine lounge area as well as the Internet Café located in the very center of the Atrium opening looking up, it features floral style blue carpets and dark blue curtains that rise up high with the golden stairs running along the Atrium walls. Some marble covers a wall below the lower stairs. White pottery is part of the décor behind the screens on their raised desk complete with eight comfortable high chairs standing on a floor of black tiles. On the aft wall of the Atrium Lounge, besides superb furnishings, is a showcase on the wall filled with the most amazing collection of fine pottery you will ever see! On both sides are doors that will take you out to the wide and spacious Promenade Deck.
Here we see a view of all three levels, even a partial shot of the Internet desk, over centre against the stairs
Above & below: Deck 6 of the Atrium has an excellent Lounge area with some magnificent décor
This is the Internet station
A Special Comment: As we have just looked at a number of photographs around the Atrium, I am sure you will have noted the careful detail that has obviously gone into the décor of this simply beautiful interior decorations, for every small detail seems to brilliantly harmonise with one another. The fine Asian inspired pottery and fine bone china in the traditional white and blue, all accentuate with the carpets and the other surrounding details! Just take a closer look at the starboard lounge on Deck 6, the delightful art works on the starboard wall, and the sublime variety of pottery on the aft wall is something that is simply missed by the vast majority of passengers, which is rather sad! However, right beside this valuable collection of rare pottery are two rather comic framed items, one being Mr. Rabbit, and who else? Can you work it out; just take a good look at the photo above? I will place the answer on Page 3,
We now head up to Deck 7 where we will find
the Reception Desk and the
Here we see the Reception Desk and the Shore Excursions Office Note the white marble stands around the Atrium
Here is one of these stands with the much-loved black Bulldogs, range of fake Books
(wish there was a real Library aboard) a large Vase, Glassware and Orchards, etc
The popular Cellar Door
The Torquay Cinema shows the latest up to date movies
For those who have never cruised before, I can tell you with great honesty having cruised so many times, a feast awaits you onboard the Pacific Aria! Let us first look at the wonderful choice of dining venues you can opt for during your cruise, and I am speaking of those that are fully included in your fare!
1: The “Waterfront Restaurant” Deck 7 Aft: This Restaurant is known for its fine extensive a la carte menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This modern Australian restaurant offers a sophisticated selection of both classic dishes as well as cutting-edge cuisine from around the world. Here you can have a fully served hearty or a light Breakfast, a three course Lunch or an extensive Dinner all served by waiters who will provide you all the best and friendly attention on the very best ships found in the world! And on P&O, you know this is done with that genuine friendliness and expertise, as their training is of the very highest standards!
The restaurants décor was done by some of the finest Scandinavian decorators, and it certainly shows! The mid section is raised and it has that super elegant feel. Whilst the surrounding Dining Room as can be seen form the bottom two photos has that more casual feel, although still delightful in its décor! But of course it is the food, which is the real star here! But let us view the venue.
The somewhat raised center part of the casual, yet elegant Waterfront Restaurant
This is looking from the forward (my) table on the portside looking aft
Again looking from our daily table looking towards the center section
Please Note: Although I have not greatly covered “My Personal Dining Experience,” you will find this covered, after I have listed all the “Included Dining Venues,” and those that are available at an “Additional Cost.” The last two of these being, the glamorous “Chefs Table”; and “the Grill,” on Lido Deck poolside.
2: “The Pantry” Deck 11 Aft: This is very much a relaxed Café style setting where you can enjoy freshly made food all over the globe, as well as good old Fish’n’Chips. Here you will discover delights, such as; Mexican, Asian, Indian, Vegetarian, the Grill, and not to forget the Sweets station. Both fore and aft there are Coffee and Tea Stations, which are available all day. Not to forget the amazing Afternoon Tea that is laid on daily! In the evening the Pantry steps it up a notch for a casual Dinner. There is something for everyone at The Pantry day and night!
At each end of the Pantry there are Coffee and Tea making facilities and it is open day and night.
The Grill, Asian, Indian, and Mexican are just a few of the wonders of the World
besides all the Australian, Vegetarian or even Vegan delights are available here!
& Chips and so many other amazing delights at The Pantry!
Fish & Chips and so many other amazing delights at The Pantry!
Please Note: At the next two venues, on the
vast majority of ships with other companies, you would have to pay an optional
fee to dine at such a high quality restaurant such as
3: “Angelo’s” Deck 8 Aft: Love fine Italian cuisine? Well this is the restaurant
for you, for this is upscale Italian dining with a modern charm! Angelo’s
is open only for Dinner and the venue features a classy elegant environment. As
it is said, it is the perfect setting to enjoy “La Dolce Vita” as
you indulge in a meal to remember. We dinned here on a number of occasions and
had two amazing waiters Wesley and Jayrald. The
cuisine and service was simply out of this world, in other words, it was simple
perfection! I rated Angelo’s without any hesitation 9 out of 10! whilst I rated
Angelo’s Italian Restaurant featuring Sophia Loren Our First Table was under
Eng receives pepper on his delicious meal provided by Wesley our superb waiter
During our first visit to Angelo’s on Thursday February 16
The author having the perfect al-dente Pasta at Angelo’s wonderful Italian Restaurant
Our second visit to Angelo’s on Monday February 20, served by another amazing waiter Jayrald
4: “Dragon Lady” Deck 8 Aft: Dragon Lady offers Asian cuisine in a dark and moody setting. On offer is a mix of Chinese, Thai, Indian, or Japanese cuisine, and the promise is that you will be seduced by the exotic flavours of the orient. However, from our personal experience, I am sorry but the service was shocking, the food was far below standard, in fact mid entrée, we walked out, it was that bad! I am sorry, but from my personal experience I rate Dragon Lady a generous 2 out of 10.
The face of Dragon Lady Asian Restaurant rather tells it all, it was an utter misery for us!
The image above was obtained from a P&O media release
Grill” Starboard side amidships - to Aft Deck 8: The
“Salt Grill” by
Luke Mangan’s “Salt Grill”
The image above was obtained from a P&O media release
“Chef’s Table” Portside Aft Deck 8: Then there is one further super special dining even onboard for those who wish to experience a food and wine extravaganza at the “Chef’s Table.” Should you decide to join this amazing evening, be assured, you will NEVER forget it! Your evening will commence with a cocktail and canapé reception hosted by the Executive Chef. This will be followed by an exclusive tour of the Galley. Upon return from the tour to this elegant dinning room it is time to be seated for the one of the most exciting Dining events onboard! The Executive Chef will introduce each course, which is expertly matched with a fine wine! Again from Guest reviews, which were outstanding, I rate the Chef’s Table a 10 out of 10.
The very exclusive Chefs Table Dining Room
PS: The only reason I did not participate in a Chef’s Table evening is that 1; I do not drink any alcohol these days, due to the high level of medication, and each dish comes with a matched fine wine, etc. Also prior to the Degustation meal commences, there is an extensive special tour of the ships galley lead by the Executive Chef. Obviously I am unable to do this as well as sadly, in my old age, my legs are failing me and I am scooter bound these days!
“The Grill” Deck 11 Starboard Midships: The Grill is located forward of the Lido Swimming Pool where the vibe is very casual and certainly “Al Fresco.” On offer are beef burgers, Chorizo and Egg Wraps, or maybe a pulled Pork Burger and much more. Nominal charges apply.
As per our cruises in August and December 2016, we were again happy to have the same table in the Waterfront Restaurant, but better still we also had our amazing waiter Farman, who had served us so magnificently on our last two cruises. It is well known in the industry that I am one of the harshest critics around, yet Farman Hattikatki became the very first waiter in my hundreds of cruises to receive an official rating of 10 out of 10! And believe me it takes a great deal to obtain such a remarkably high rating in this field. It is not just related to having an excellent personality, which he certainly has, but it is obvious that he loves the work he does. And this clearly shows in the efficiency of his work, especially during times when his workload is stretched to the limit. It is during those times when his efficiency comes to the fore and I have seen how he deals with the situation when all of his allocated tables are occupied much at the same time. And even at those times, there will be passengers in other areas who will request him to come and serve them. Farman is in such great demand that he has become one of the finest waiters on the Pacific Aria and it is obvious that the Maître ‘D Hotel and P&O Cruises is very much aware of this, so much so that they have placed a photograph of Farman Hattikatki in P&O’s official training manual, which was taken by myself and is online on my August 2016 cruise review!
Our table and the wonderful Farman Hattikatki our superb waiter, with Eng and myself taken during the PNG cruise
Thus having Farman and his able assistant
Matha who hails from
Diner time, and our wonderful Farman and dear Matha who served Eng and me so beautifully
However, I have just given you details regarding the traditional option that is to be found on the menu, however each evening there is an “International” option available, be it Thai, Italian, Greek, Indian, German, South Pacific and much more, but not to forget on the last night, Australia!
I enjoyed a Steak Pie from the Menu from the Australian option, and it was simply delicious! It came with
mashed potatoes and peas: The perfect pastry Pie cover was in the centre, but I moved it for this photo
Of course I must mention the amazing Maître ‘D Hotel Mr. Rish Dias who was a wonderful host in every respect, as was his Restaurant Managers including the delightful Mr. Edwin Fernandez, who was simply outstanding, for between them they made our three cruises dining experience, simply a great experience, and treated us with great courtesy, but what I loved was that they treated all their guests just if they were the only VIP on the ship, and that meant a great deal to me, for it is the mark of being a great host!
Top Left; Maître ‘D Hotel Mr. Rish Dias & Right; Mr. Edwin Fernandez and Eng & myself
The aforementioned proved to me that the Maître ’D leads a fine group of managers and some of the finest waiters you could possibly hope for, making a meal at the Waterfront an exceptional dinning experience.
A Photograph taken of Farman at Breakfast on morning
The Pacific Aria has brought back the meaning that the passenger comes first and therefore, she has become my ship of preference at this time, she is the perfect size and this review will say the rest why, I feel this! With my third cruise in six months on this delightful cruise ship, I know that we will be back, again and again; thus for her 2015 transformation, as well as her fully transformation and upgraded brand and new style cuisine, etc., I wish to say a special thank you, and congratulations to Mr. Sture Myrmell, President of P&O Cruises who has been responsible for the Pacific Aria’s transformation and the New era for P&O Cruises with a new ship, which will soon the arrive, being the new MV Pacific Explorer, previously the Dawn Princess. In 2019 the Carnival Splendor
Without a doubt a P&O cruise is the greatest value vacation, just look for the specials available in your weekend papers, especially if you have not cruised before. I highly recommend that you go to the P&O Cruises website and sign up for their news updates and they will keep you up to date with latest news, and great specials will also come your way!
Aria seen at anchor from a
Please Note: It is vital that I state once again, I am 100% non-commercial and I am not associated to any Cruise or Shipping Company, and the same applies to any Cruise or Travel Agency. The truth is that I always pay my full fares! Also you will note from my sites, there is no advertising whatsoever, thus I do not make a single cent from what I do. Thus what I write is for all those who love ships and those who are thinking of going on a cruise vacation, for many who have never been on a cruise before and want to know what to expect after they have paid a deposit, and what they will receive once they board the ship. Bon Voyage!
On the next page you will discover the activities side of the Pacific Aria, such as the two Swimming Pools and their spacious Decks and Bars, the special Sports Decks, the Fitness centre (Gym), as well as the super fun and excitement part of the ship, which is known as “P&O EDGE.” This feature offers a number of thrill seeking adventures; that is “IF YOU DARE?”
Thereafter I will cover the variety of Accommodations that are available onboard. In conclusion you will be able to view the ships Deck Plan, which will complete this Page Two. By the end of this page, you will know with full assurance what to expect from a cruise on the wonderful Pacific Aria. I certainly trust that I will have been of assistance, for this review has been written with complete honesty and without any bias, as it is, as I have clearly stated 100% non commercial, and I am not related, or connected to any cruise company or agency, etc! And remember, this is my third cruise on her within six months.
Page Three is a separate Two-Page Feature; it
is entitled “The
Pacific Aria is seen at Anchor of the PNG Island of Wewak on February 16, 2017
MV Pacific Aria PNG Cruise Review Index:
Page One … Cruise Review, Public Venues, & Dinning Experiences.
Page Two … Sports, Fitness Centre, P&O EDGE, & Accommodations & Deck Plan.
Page Three … The
Page Four … The
Page Five … The PNG Photo Experience.
The Pacific Aria seen at anchor from the Conflict Island Airstrip on February 17, 2017
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