P&O Cruises - MV Pacific Aria - Cruise Review 18 Day South Pacific from Brisbane 15 August to 2 September 2016

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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and my other related maritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any of the cruise companies nor any travel or cruise agencies, etc! The author has been in the Passenger Shipping industry for a very long time and although now semi-retired, but I am delighted to share all my 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 for their pleasure, but more so to ensure that you, my wonderful reader will make the best-informed choice possible!

 

MV Pacific Aria is seen above departing Brisbane, bound for her South Pacific Adventure

 

Part One

Introduction:

Considering that I had been writing about the P&O newest two ships for some time, the Pacific Eden and the Pacific Aria I decided that it was time I actually would take a cruise on the Pacific Aria and one that had an excellent range of Pacific ports, not usually visited by P&O! Also it is important to understand that this review also in so many ways reflects directly with the Pacific Eden, for remember they are identical ships in every single way, internally and externally!

.However, before I continue with my review regarding me and my dear friend and associate Eng Tan who loves cruising, I will .briefly wish to say that the Pacific Aria and her sister the Eden have became two of P&O’s most popular cruise ships, for they .are without a doubt a cut above the rest of the fleet! They commenced their days as Holland America ships, the Ryndam (1994) .and Statendam (1993) respectively, making the Pacific Aria (previously ms Ryndam) the youngest ship in the P&O fleet. These .two ships are so popular that the Company will be slowly upgrading their other ships to meet similar standards found on the .Aria and Eden. Pacific Dawn will be refurbished and arrive with her brand new look in 2017.

.The author is seen in his accommodations aboard Pacific Aria in August 2016.

.In addition soon the Pacific Explorer, previously the Dawn Princess, will also join the P&O fleet in 2017. Then a brand new ship .is being built in Italy and she is due late in 2019 or early 2020. This giant of a ship will be the largest cruise ship ever to built and be based fulltime in Australia. P&O Australia’s new cruise ship will be a huge 135,500 tonnes and she will be able to accommodate well over 4,200 plus passengers, based on twin bedded accommodations.

Please Note:

All Cruise Review Photographs were taken by & © 2016 Reuben Goossens and Hun-Eng Tan

Also Note: I always pay my full fares as I have remained 100% and thus completely non-commercial.

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My Cruise Review Commences

Now, let us commence with the cruise review, commencing with the boarding procedure, followed with my accommodation and the rest will automatically follow. Page One of this review is being entirely written in my accommodation during the cruise, and photographs were added where needed on this page at the same time. Part Two - Pages 1 & 2 is where we will go “Exploring the Ship” and we will do this Deck by Deck complete with many photographs by Mr. Eng Tan and me. However these pages, although partially completed onboard will come online as soon as they are finished and you will know this when the links at the bottom of this page are active. Reuben Goossens.

Pacific Aria berthed at Portside Cruise Terminal

Portside Cruise Terminal and Boarding Procedure:

We arrived at Brisbane’s Portside Cruise Terminal at 10.15 am with Pacific Aria at her berth, and considering we had “Priority Check-In” due to being booked in a Suite therefore as soon as we presented ourselves to a P&O representative within minutes of our arrival, our two suitcases were taken from us and we were guided into the terminal, and as sadly due to condition these days, I am in need of a wheelchair. I was provided with one very quickly and assisted to check in and received our Cruise room & identity cards,etc. Having filled in our health and immigration cards in advance, we were onboard and in our suite within just 20 minutes of our arrival at Portside Terminal. Everything was handled with great courtesy and efficiency!

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A general view of Portside that also offers has a Mall with Shops, Restaurants, Café’s, even a Supermarket and a Cinema.

It is one of the finest and best operated Cruise Terminals in Australia, especially for visiting cruise ships on world cruises

And on the left is my Cruise & Accommodation card, which used for all purchases onboard, etc

Please Note: My ratings in this Review are shown from 1 to 10. Obviously 1 is terrible; in fact anything below 5 is not very good either. Ratings of 6 means there is some work ahead and improvements to be made if they really wish to make a big career of your chosen profession. Then there is 7, which is on the cusp of being really good, but not really great as yet! A rating of 8 or 9 is so close of greatness, but there is still a little room for improvement. Obviously 10 is simply sheer excellence and the person, a group, or a service receiving this would have to simply be supreme, and believe me that is what all those who work on or for cruise ships should be striving for.

Ratings: Check-In & Boarding scored 8.

Our Accommodation:

Our suite is located on the starboard side on Deck 10 with the suite being the third of the accommodations down the hallway from forward. Ahead of the guest accommodations are the Captain’s quarters and the Officers cabins with the Bridge located far forward. In fact the first Suite in our hallway is the huge Penthouse, number (#) 10003, followed by Suite #10011, then our Suite # 10015. Our suite was booked to be made up in a twin bedded configuration and upon arrival it was just as arranged! These are wonderful suites, which come with a host of extras of course, including laundry and so much more!

The suite is wonderfully spacious with a Bedroom area and a spacious separate lounge. In the Bedroom side of the spacious room, the beds are backed by mirrors with floor timber cabinets at both ends and one that is movable in order that can be placed in the middle as in our case. Along the large windows that look out to the huge balcony, there are attractive curtains with a long timber cabinet with countless drawers and cupboards. In the corner near the mirror there is an Espresso Coffee machine complete with capsules to make the type of coffee you like best; be it from a Mild or Medium Roast to Espresso. Your steward will supply the type of roast that is desired each day. On the other end of the cabinet is a flat screen TV, which offers a host of channels from “TV P&O” to a good number of Movie channels, BBC News UK and so much more!

Next is the spacious Lounge area that has a long six seat black leather Sofa, and it is curved at the end near the main entrance. Then there is a large round glass topped Coffee table with three legs and two very comfortable red velvet Lounge Chairs.

Part of Suite 10015 with the bar is to the right, lounge left and bed area ahead,

with a long cabinet under the window and Mr. Eng Tan’s laptop can be seen there

 

The Lounge section and the doors to the Balcony

 

Looking towards the Bar area topped by the mirrored glass cabinets and the front door

A long Bar is featured on the inside wall with the dressing room behind it, and it has all mirrored vertical panels above it, which contain several doors for glasses and other items. Below there is a magnificent marble top, whilst under it there you will find not only the fridge, but also the wine rack, suitable place for any other bottles as well as bottled water and anything else you may to have in your bar!

We now enter the Dressing Room that also contains three spacious mirrored sliding doors into the wardrobes that have enough room for all your clothes as well as the suitcases. There is a make up table, come desk, and I have been using this desk as my office at the time of writing this review, for the cabinets in the suite itself are too high and thus, this make up table makes the perfect desk for my laptop as there are two power points. Just to my left there is a small round sink, but whilst writing I have covered it with a round stainless steel server topped with a serviette and a bottle of water and a glass.

This is the makeup area, come my office whilst on the cruise and it has worked well

The bathroom was a lot smaller than what we are used to, for we had been in Neptune Suites (which these were previously) on Holland America Line and in their suites they were very much larger. But we discovered that there is just one sink and a Spa Bath with an overhead shower.

 

Above & below: As can be seen for a deluxe Suite, the bathroom is very small and there is very little storage

 

But here comes the biggest problem for me! Unlike all the other Holland America Line ships I have sailed on, their Neptune Suites all had a separate shower stall beside the bath. However now with the bath only situation on the Pacific Aria and with the bath being so high sided due to it being a Spa-Bath, I was unable to get into it due to my severe leg problems. Therefore this caused more problems than anyone could have imagined. Believe it or not it took almost a week to get permission to use the shower at the Elemis Spa organised, but even when is was arranged and we went there, I was told believe it or not by some rude man from Elemis “You are not permitted to use these showers for they are only for Elemis clients,” and that to a person who was by then sadly confined to a wheelchair. Eng Tan, who was assisting me, told him to check with his manager and he soon returned, but just said “OK,” but there was no apology for his rudeness. This situation had already been a great embarrassment to me and this rude individual had made it all worse. I had a shower, but due to the situation, I never returned and continued to the bathing style I had employed prior in the bathroom during the first week onboard, not something one would have expected considering to what I paid for my so-called luxury suite!

The balcony is huge and it features a round dining table with four chairs, two sun lounges and a chair with a small round table. This is a balcony, which is very useful and certainly ideal for dining and I enjoyed lunch once whilst in port, whilst Eng Tan was ashore, and coffee and snacks on a number of sea days!

 

Above & below: The spacious balcony and certainly had a few lunches and snacks out here!

Photograph taken whilst at anchor at Vava’u, Tonga on Tuesday August 23

 

Ratings: Percy and Ariel 7½ out of 10.

Please Note: Other accommodations will be shown on Part Three, which will contain the Deck Plan as well as various cabin styles, from Inside, Outside and Balcony cabins, to Suites as well as the Penthouse.

First Day Onboard:

But we now return to the morning of the day of boarding.

The Pantry: Having settled into our room it was soon time for lunch, which was at The Pantry on Deck 11 aft and this turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I decided on an Indian curry with extras and it was simply delicious with the flavours being perfectly balanced as well as hot, as in temperature. At the same time it was not too hot spice wise, but just perfect having just enough heat to be pleasant! Mr. Eng Tan decided on a Chinese meal and he was more than happy with it. Both meals were hot and very fresh and although it was very busy, yet service was rapid, and a table and seats were easily found, thus it proved to be a most pleasant experience!

I dined at The Pantry for lunch on a port day and again the food was just delicious, the meal I had came from “Hooks Fish and Chips,” and the fish and chips was served in a basket lined with a mini newspaper, that obviously has no ink on it. The fish was beautifully cooked and the chips were crisp! Whilst Mr. Eng Tan, enjoyed a meal from Styx,” offering Pan Asian food. Overall, it was an excellent experience dining in the Pantry and the food was simply WOW!

With the service and the speed of obtaining food, etc., The Pantry scored a very healthy 8 out of 10.

Drill: After lunch we returned to our suite, for at 1.30 pm it was the “Guest Emergency Drill.” Our station was at lifeboat number 3, which was to be held out on the starboard side of the Promenade Deck (6). However, as this is a stand up affair and it was a somewhat crushed one for me these days with my severe leg problems. Therefore, I was permitted to sit in the Atrium Lounge area with other folk with walking difficulties.

Departure Entertainment: Up on Lido Deck 11, from 2 to 5 pm there was music by the band “The Secret,” then at departure time the entertainment was moved down to the Oasis on Deck 10 aft with music provided by DJ Moo and the Entertainment team providing all the usual departure fun and frivolity. With the ship having departed other indoor activities commenced, including the “Welcome Aboard Trivia” at the Ocean Bar. However, at 5.45 pm the superb Pacific Showband commenced with their live music session in the Ocean Bar through to 7.45, and so the fun started! Not being present, I could not score it.

Waterfront Restaurant:

This is the central raised part of the Waterfront Restaurant, with curtains on each corner

The Waterfront Restaurant is an amazingly fine venue, with a high mid section and it has both round, square and oblong tables for two, four and more. With the venue separated into sections, due to the high raised centre sections with its corner curtains, the seating arrangements was delightfully intimate in style and thus having a more casual feel about it.

We occupied a table 146 located forward on the portside for two, but for personal reasons, I decided to move to a nearby table along the port wall, table 149, which was curtained, with a solid wall behind it, and were more than happy with our table for it was close to the entrance and meant less walking. However, sadly within five days my legs had so badly deteriorated, I was forced to obtain a wheelchair and Eng Tan became my assistant in more ways that one. Many of my readers are well ware that I have health problems but I usually do not share them, but in this case I have to give credit to P&O for their wonderful assistance in many more ways than one!

Another section of the central raised section

At 6 pm as I had pre arranged, due to medical reasons, we arrived at the Waterfront Restaurant and headed for our table where we met our waiter whose name is Farman Hattikatki and I must say from the outset to the conclusion of our cruise that Farman was not just a simple delight but also one of the finest waiters we have had in twenty five years of cruising. Farman was outstanding in every respect, however knowing many guests onboard and having spoken with so many during our cruise, a good 99.8% have praised the staff at the Waterfront Restaurant as being from “really good” to “simply excellent.”

In addition I must add that the Maître ‘D Hotel Mr. Rish Dias was a wonderful host in every respect, and he like his Restaurant Managers including the delightful Mr. Edwin Fernandez were outstanding, for they did not only treat Eng Tan and myself with great courtesy, but they treated all their guests just as they were the only VIP on the ship, and that meant a great deal to me and it is the mark of being a great host! 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.

Looking down to the lower sides of the Restaurant, which are on three sides offering great ocean views!

The cuisine onboard Pacific Aria was a huge improvement from our last voyage on the Pacific Dawn a number of years ago. In short the menus on Pacific Dawn was simply far too extensive and therefore a huge problem existed with quality control. But today, there is a delightful daily selection on the Menu which is a well thought out, prepared, and presented Menu. Then there is also an additional three course International menu available on the side, and you may mix and match your meal between the two, It is all your choice! What we discovered is that there were dishes, which had a wonderful balance of intricate flavours woven into the dish, making them, extraordinary, thus very special. But the meals in general were just a delight. The Menu featured dishes that hail from throughout the globe all superbly prepared by the ships chefs and supervised by Executive Chef Ravindra Jadhav who I was delighted to meet.

I can honestly say that the cuisine on the P&O Pacific Aria did prove to be a hit with the majority of the passengers, even though there were the usual complainers, for the truth is, no matter how carefully meals are prepared, there are always the usual type of people that just cannot help themselves and they will complain at the drop of a hat. The truth is they would even complain if they were on the Queen Mary 2, but then they would be completely out of place, for luxury and fine dinning is not what they know anything about!

The truth is this, P&O Cruises Australia offers Value for Money fares and please remember being 100% non-commercial, I am not paid to say this or anything I have written in this cruise review, but I feel it is true! And as you will find later my honesty also goes somewhat in the other direction, for I always say it as it is!

Ratings: Waterfront Restaurant Cuisine scores 8½ out of 10.

The Food and Beverage Director is Martin Bell and he was also on our last P&O cruise on the Pacific Dawn, and It was a delight to meet with him again on this cruise and chat about the wonderful changes made to the menus and the great food being served! He has certainly seen the great changes and he appreciates it, just as I have! There is no doubt that Martin is doing a marvellous job, but being in the background I am unable to officially score him, but I really like this Glasgow man and would certainly have given him top marks!

The Maître ‘D Hotel, Mr. Rish Dias without a single doubt deserved a score of 9 out of 10.

The Restaurant Manager we were in contact with most was Mr. Edwin Fernandez, and I scored him an outstanding 8½ out of 10.

Our Amazing Waiter Farman:

Then comes our simply superb Indian waiter “Farman” the point is what more can I possibly say about the “perfect waiter.” Farman looked after us for every Breakfast and Dinner and the vast majority of lunches during our cruise, with only the odd exception when I had lunch at the Pantry when in Port or had lunch on the balcony on one occasion. But Farman looked after Eng Tan and me in the most delightful and exceptional manner and thus we can only rate our excellent waiter a well deserved 10 out of 10.

Our brilliant Waterfront waiter Farman Hattikatki

Thank you Farman, you are the very first waiter ever to receive an official reviewer’s score 10 out of 10, thus P&O better take note for I do not give a score of 10 freely as it takes a great deal to earn a 10 and you certainly did earn it, for you are the very best we have experienced on any ship in the past 25 years! You made our cruise a great joy and one we will remember for a very long time!

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It’s Entertainment!

Marquee Theatre & the Shows:

The Marquee Theatre is on two levels, the main level is on Deck 7, whilst the balcony is up on Deck 8 as shown below. Although we sat mostly on the lower level which is shown in Part Two. The line of sight in this fine venue is excellent and that from all angles, and what is so typical of a Holland America Showroom is that there is a vast amount of legroom, and that is something that is lacking on so many of the new modern large and mega ships, where the rows are just like in some cinemas, where you have to stand up to let someone pass. Bur her on the Pacific Aria, you can stretch your legs as far as you can and still not touch the row in front.

Here we see the lower level of the Marquee Theatre on Deck 7 and you can see the ample legroom between each row

For many regular P&O passengers and certainly myself, something really weird occurred on departure night, for normally in days gone and as well on every single other cruise ship I have sailed on, be it Princess, Holland America Line, and yes that includes P&O in days gone, on the first night there is either an “Introduction Show” or at least a guest artist on. As I have been told by many onboard, many guests had risen as early as 2.00 am for they had to travel from far away and were obviously very tired. There were those who come from Victoria, NSW, the Northern Territory, and North Queensland or from the bush and they had to drive many hours to get to Brisbane. Therefore countless passengers were simply far too tired to attend a Major Production Show on the very first night.

The point is this, what complete idiot decided that this was a great idea, and from what I have been led to believe by the entertainment director Johanna Dyson that this is part of a new directive from the Head office to commence with a full scale Production Show named “Off The Charts” on the very first evening. Although when I first asked her who is responsible for which shows are on which nights, she did say at first I am, but then stated that Head Office was to blame, thus the question remains, who was really responsible? But the point is this, regardless who is responsible, it says very little for their intelligence; the truth is they simply do not care about their paying guests, and on this cruise being a longer voyage, the demographic is mostly an older one, with the vast majority of passengers being elderly as well as regular cruisers and most missed this excellent show, and some told me that they were not happy about it!.

Off The Charts” was certainly a fine show and it was well presented by the Pacific Entertainers and backed by the Pacific Showband. What also amazed me, and those passengers who managed to get there; were the amazing special effects shown on the giant screen located center aft of the stage, as well along the two sides of the stage. The effects just had to be seen to be believed for it was on a grand scale, being so vivid, full of colour and it constantly came alive! The Troupe of two female and two male singers and the accompanying dancers were top class and as the title said the songs were all chart toppers and brilliantly presented!

The photographs below sadly do not reveal the most spectacular of the special effects, only a few of the more static ones, which were also excellent, but the ones that were constantly moving with fire and other outstanding effects were rather difficult to capture.

 

These massive curtains appeared from nowhere, almost as it was all done with mirrors

but the three screens did not even connect, how was it done? Simply stunning and so real!

 

 

Above & below: Almost a touch of Australia’s famed group “Hunan Nature”

but there were only three of them and they did not even sing any of their songs

 

Over the next five days, I asked many people who approached me for they knew me by name from ssMaritime.com or Cruise-Australia.com, if they went to see this show on the first night, and not one person I have met to date saw it, which is tragic as it is a show that all should see! I certainly hope that the above show will return on a later date for if it does not it will be an error of judgement by whoever was responsible for the utter stupidity of running a Production Show on the day of departure. If Carnival Australia/P&O entertainment department, Head Office in Sydney is responsible, all I can say that in my day who ever is responsible for such stupidity would have lost their job in 10 seconds flat, for they do not know the reality of cruising!

As I am writing this particular section we have been on the ship for 8 days and apart from the above show we have not had another production show since. So many passengers onboard who know me from my sites have asked me; “Reuben, why are there no shows, all we have had are some basic acts.” And it is true, the ratings below will show that some of the vocalists who appeared in the Marquee Theatre were relatively poor and the ratings show this.

Although there were two performers that really stood out in the early stages, I will commence with the second first, for this was the first vocal performer being the delightfully talented vocalist Anthony Quimby who presented a most enjoyable show on Thursday August 18 and he was the main act in the show entitled “That Swing Thing.”

Anthony Quimby seen during his fine performance of “That Swing Thing” in the Marquee Theatre

Anthony gave us all an intimate evening offering us a wide range of some of the best-known Swing Classics. However, in the middle of Anthony’s superb set, a young lady, Eva Heath came on stage and sang two songs, but all I can remember were her two hands in front of her face throughout her performance and a very basic voice. Sadly she distracted somewhat from what was in reality a great night out! Anthony Quimby’s show was a sheer delight and everyone left completely satisfied having heard a fine voice! I was more than happy to score Anthony 8½ out of 10.

The second performance was a very different one and it was one night earlier. This was at the “Sitdown Comedy Club,” which starred funny man Brad Oakes, who was a massive hit by all who were present at this 9.30 pm show. It was well known that this was an Adult only show and all reports were that he was simply great and as several put it, “He was the Best.” Based on reports by countless reports and having actually spoken with the man the next morning out on deck. The truth is that according all I have been told, Brad Oakes was outstanding and a huge hit thus he scored 8 out of 10.

Finally the next production show came on Tuesday August 23, and yes, unbelievably it was on a port day, again, honestly would it not have been so much better on a sea day? The truth is that people come back to the ship tired from a long day ashore, thus this is very poor planning by the entertainment department, whoever is responsible. Not to forget that this is one the main and biggest feature production shows of the entire voyage, which is entitled “Twice Upon a Time” and believe me it is a huge spectacle, bigger than anything ever seen on any ship! Once again this grandiose show features the most spectacular background effects that will make anything you have ever seen before like amateur hour. Be assured, this show is BIG and I do mean very BIG as are the amazing costumes. But on a port day, please give us a break!

The story is as follows: It dramatically takes a journey through a post apocalyptic world to a time of re-generation and splendour. The contemporary dance style captures the tension and the glory of the story of this grandiose emotional masterpiece like anything else I have ever seen on any ship in the world! This time round we decided to go the first Show and possibly we should have gone to the second as well, but during the performance we saw, on occasions the dancers were sadly a little on the sloppy side. And of course, myself with my Family background of the Goossens family in Classic music, opera and ballet, etc, besides my own shipping/cruise history that goes back to 1960, I have a great deal of knowledge in the dance and music industry! Yet as a piece the show is a masterpiece! And I have still given it a very high rating, see below.

An early scene as dark days commence prior the destruction and ominous black clothed people dance around the scene

 

Flames of destruction have come and the dead lie everywhere, except the two drummers

 

Then what seem to be spirits of life come and bring the fallen back to life as the scene slowly regenerates

 

Light returns again amongst the wreckage of the world

 

All is well as a kaleidoscope of colour has returned upon the scene

Above I have given you just a snippet of the show, but it is something that just has to be seen. When going to see the show it is vital to be in the theatre at least 20 minutes before the show commences for there will be a large screen presentation that will explain what the show is all about, and more so how it came to be which involves the Sydney Dance Company!

Then the next Production Show was on a Sea Day, Hallelujah! In fact on Thursday August 25, and it was entitled “Sideshow Alley.” It was a wonderful musical romp set in a typical old time Sideshow Alley with a host of music from yesteryear! One of the outstanding highlights was Russell Morris’ extended version “The Real Thing” sung by the host in the show, who was more like a ringmaster. All the players were simply great and so was the music, we all left most gratified, for it was a most uplifting show!

Let the show commence …

 

Introducing the Strong Man and the Bearded Lady

 

The Sideshow Alley Troup

 

Singing Russell Morris’ - “Come and see the Real Thing, come and see … Ooma,ma,ma” etc!

 

Sideshow Alley coming close to the finale

During our cruise I was rather surprised that suddenly three nights in a row, the marquee Theatre featured a comedy act by guest artists, which is very weird and never heard off! On Saturday August 27, this was written up as being a show of “visual and physical comedy” performed apparently by two people.

The next day, the Australian comedian Kenny Bennet appeared, and he was followed the day after on Monday the 29th.by a Brad Manuel who did some sort of “interactive comedy show.” The aforementioned are supposed to have been performing worldwide, as well in Las Vegas. This certainly did not impress me and therefore, I did not attend any of these shows! Not my thing, anyone can go to your local footy club and see them there!

Then on Tuesday the 30th.the Marquee offered the so-called “powerhouse entertainer Hayden Smith.” Or “Mr & Mrs Smith” with Mrs Smith being Hayden’s wife, who he met on a P&O ship, when she was part of the Pacific Entertainers, and the rest is History. Her stage name is Alexa Jane.

If there was ever the Beauty and the Beast, here it is, she sang like an Angel and he sung just as he looked, a wild beast!

What really bothered me about this show was that as we waited for the show to commence, there was constant onscreen advertising of Haden’s CD’s, as well as his website, etc, etc. I believe that this kind of hard sell should not be permitted, for 1. He is far from a top class entertainer, although he seems to think he is. 2. He is free to mention his CD’s towards the end of his performance, just as everyone does, but using the three screens for his own benefit is wrong!

Certainly not a great singer, he sang “Bring Him Home” from “Les Mis,” but there was no emotion, just singing the whole song with every ounce of his lungs, more like screaming trough an amazingly powerful and emotional song. Then he forgot a lyric towards the end, which was most unprofessional. The only song he did reasonably well was Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, as was his playing the saxophone, guitar, and flute. But I have to be honest, his beautiful wife, Alexa Jane who sang two great power songs, which were simply outstanding and she stole the whole show!

Entertainment Ratings:

All ratings are shown out of 10 with 10 being excellent and 1 is just very bad. You will note that on occasions I will score half points, such as 5.5 - but these will be shown as .

Entertainment Director Joanna Dyson I met Joanna in my room, and although she conducts Trivia times quite well, I have great doubts regarding her skills as an entertainment director. I asked regarding the placement of the Productions shows, and she answered “I do.” However, when I queried the poor judgement of a Production show on departure night, she changed direction, and stated that “Head Office was changing direction and had new Ideas.” Really Joanna? Thus I still have concerns who are really responsible for the Production show placements on the departure night?

I scored Joanna Dyson 5½ out of 10.

However, Joanna’s co-workers - Alex & Miguel and the rest of the team, I have seen them around the ship and they do an excellent job in general, therefore I was happy to score them as a team, 8 out of 10.

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.

Production Shows:

Off The Charts” I scored a healthy 8 out of 10.

Twice Upon a Time” was the show of all shows, brilliantly choreographed, and staged and this amazing show deserves to be given 10 out of 10!

Sideshow Alley.” Was a happy and a delightful show and everyone simply loved it, I scored it 9 out of 10.

The Velvet Rope.” This show took you back to the early days as a young man commenced a club around the 20s.and slowly gathered musicians and vocalists. Overall a pleasant show without any spectacular back screen effects, but good staging and costuming, but not a grandiose show to end the cruise on! It scored 7 out of 10.

The Pacific Entertainers (or the Production Troupe) received 8½ out of 10.

The Pacific Showband I scored 9 out of 10.

Vocalists:

Vocalist Monique Montez just gave us, what was nothing but a low class cabaret act, sorry just 4 out of 10.

Then came Jacques Renay who was to be Mr. Tom Jones and supposed to sound like him. But he was just a very poor imitation and was far from being good Tom Jones, let alone a vocalist. Many left and after just two songs my friend and I departed. From what I did see and heard, the score is just 2 out of 10.

Vocalist & Musician Hayden Smith could only give a score of 4 out of 10.

Vocalist Alexa Jane (Mrs. Hayden Smith) scored 8½ out of 10.

Other Venues:

The Blue Room: The Danny Felix Band received a score of 7 out of 10.

The somewhat too loud Corazon Band performed an array of exciting Latino music and songs all lead by vocalist Toni. I did enjoy them as did so many others. I scored them 7½ out of 10.

The Band Corazon with the amazing voice of lead vocalist, Toni

Also in the Blue Room was the group Soundblaster and although they had an excellent repertoire, however, at times they were somewhat average in their performances, yet they did work very hard, thus I scored them 6½ out of 10 for trying!

The MIX: Has two small bandstands, one in the Martini Bar which has a grand piano, where frequently the amazing Anthony Quimby will perform and although he was great when he presented his main show in the Marquee, he is at his very best when he is behind his keyboard and again he receives 8½ out of 10.

Another male vocalist, who is simply known as ‘Habes’ performs in the Spirits & Ales Bar of The MIX, but for some reason this untidy looking guy never seems to have his heart in what he was doing and he sings his songs just like if he does not give a damn. This chap has a voice in there somewhere, but he is too lazy to use the talent he really has. I heard him sing that song that I only know as “Creep” and tragically it was nothing short from a train wreck! I am sorry Habes, but I can only score you 3 out of 10 and at this time where you are at, that is being generous!

The Ocean Bar: The Secret is duo made up of a male and female sang their songs and were just OK. They scored 5½ out of 10.

The Pacific Showband also plays there at times and in other locations around the ship, but I have already rated them in the Marquee section a well deserved 9 out of 10.

Summing Up Entertainment:

The truth is that there was so much great entertainment onboard, even though not all the artists may have been A Grade, but many were simply great and they certainly performed like true professionals.

Activities: During the day there was a great deal to do, as there were activities aplenty, be they indoors or outdoors. From various kinds of Trivia, Dancing with the Stars, Pacific Pop stars, Cooking Demonstrations, Game Show - Liars Club, Arts & Crafts, Speed Sudoku challenges, Movies in the Cinema, Lectures, Dance Classes, Deck Quoits and all the other Deck games in the Tennis or Basket Ball Courts. And then there is P&O EDGE for those who are a little adventurous, for you can go Rock Climbing, go flying close to the length of the ship on the Flying Fox, which is huge fun, or why not Walk the Plank! If that is a little too much for you, OK, come down to the Marquee theatre and join the Jackpot Bingo crown, and remember that on the last cruise the winner took home over $20,000!

Life on the Pacific Aria certainly never gets boring, It will if you are a person who has no desire to join in anything or likes nothing. But then again, we do need to remember that there are passengers who come on a cruise just to have a wonderful rest and enjoy their wine and dine experience onboard and are content to be wonderfully entertained and visit some exciting destinations! And yes, there are even those who just keep on working most days, like a certain cruise reviewer I know, however, he dd manage to have a great time in-between!

Pacific Aria is seen at Port Vila Vanuatu on Friday August 19, 2016

Photograph by & © Hun-Eng Tan

Negatives:

Many bathrooms have bathtubs and all suites and balcony cabins have spa baths, now that is very nice, unless you are older, or have a partial disablement for there is only a shower in the bath and no separate shower stall. I have sailed on other Holland America ships in the Neptune Suites, which we are in now, and all have had a shower stall, but here on the ex Ryndam there are none in the suites par one only disabled one. Many cabins have a bath with an overhead shower, whilst other cabins will have a shower stall.

In Conclusion:

This ship has it all for you, for she is a wonderful intimate ship, smaller and far less passengers then all the others and you will note that you will be treated more like an individual and I really liked that on this ship. Yes, I did give several low marks, but these can be simply remedied by P&O and I believe that they will, for I had one major complaint some years ago when I sailed on Pacific Dawn and having spoken about it, it was fixed and today the Pacific Aria is simply a magnificent ship and it is a better class of ship, more suitable for a slightly older clientele, but also the young couples with children, but it is not the wild party ship like some others, and thank goodness for that, for there has been far too much scum onboard some of the ships in the past making a voyage on P&O almost impossible for so many passengers! Indeed, P&O has finally come of age with the Pacific Aria and the Pacific Eden, for remember they are identical!

Reuben Goossens.

The ship is seen at anchor at Port Denarau, Fiji on Sunday August 21. Photo taken

from a badly moving tender, therefore the loss of part of the bow, but a great shot

Photograph by & © Hun-Eng Tan

 

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