P&O Cruises Australia - MV Pacific Explorer

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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: 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 a very long time 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 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 readers will make the best-informed choice possible on which ship will be just right for you!


Please Note:

All Photographs & illustrations were provided by & © P&O Cruises Australia, unless stated otherwise

Introduction - P&O’s Ever-Growing Cruise Market

Considering the ever-growing Australian cruise market, which has seen P&O cruises grow from being a one ship Company in Australia to having five ships within a short period of time, and they decided in 2015 to renew their fleet and therefore introduced some amazing new style of ships to the Australia market. This commenced when P&O Cruises introduced the now two popular MV Pacific Aria, and her sister Pacific Eden in 2015. These ships have made a huge impact on the Australian cruise market, as they introduced a completely new style of cruising to our shores. These ships offer brand new style of public venues, such as the magnificent Ocean Bar and the wonderful Blues inspired, Music Lounge, the Blue Room!

MV Pacific Aria is seen berthed at Port Vila, Vanuatu

Photograph by & © cruise-australia.com

I am delighted to say, that I have been fortunate to have cruised on the Pacific Aria from Brisbane a good three times, in August and December 2016, as well as in February 2017, thus I have spent a wonderful 40 nights on board this wonderful ship! These cruises were without a doubt simply great, and they were certainly far above my expectations! In fact I enjoyed this new cruise experience so much, that I have booked further cruises for 2017 & 2018.

You will find two comprehensive cruise reviews that cover the 14 day Papua New Guinea cruise in Feb 2017 and the 18 day South Pacific Cruise from August 2016 via the LINK at the bottom of the page, and they will reveal that P&O have become the pacesetters of the Australia cruise market. Their ships are now offering countless new and exciting innovations and new luxuries that have never been seen before, as well as enhanced quality of dining, with several of the most amazing free dining options available!

Pacific Aria is based in Brisbane and Pacific Eden has been based in Fremantle as well as other ports, but she will be relocated to Sydney, and I as said both ships have proven to be a great success!

However, in 2017 the MV Pacific Dawn has also received an amazing refit and she is very much like a new ship, with grand new public venues and a beautiful Atrium and the Dome! The MV Pacific Jewel which has also received a comprehensive refit, has now been joined by the exciting MV Pacific Explorer, which was previously the Dawn Princess and she has received one of the most amazing refits I have ever seen whilst she was in Singapore, in the very same shipyards where the Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden received their amazing transformations!

A personal note from the Author:

Sadly, I will never be able to sail one her, as I can on the Pacific Aria and The Pacific Dawn, for both of these ships offer suites with disabled facilities and sadly Princess obviously does not like disabled passengers, and the ex Dawn Princess, and now the Pacific Explorer does not have even one single suite, or even a lousy mini suite with disabled facilities and I that this is an utter disgrace! It just happens that I have been disabled for quite some time and I only sail in a suite. The Pacific Aria and the Pacific Dawn both have just one suitable suite each, thus I am forced to pay a high price as I must book way ahead just to obtain that single suite on the ship, thus there is never a discount available for me! I have been on the Pacific Aria a good number of times, and her suite is simply superb, but then we should expect that with her being an ex luxury Holland America Line ship. I will be sailing on the Pacific Dawn on a 14 day Pacific cruise in June 2019 and was able to obtain the required suite and look forward to seeing what it is like, as I have not sailed on the Dawn for a very long time, and never in this suite.

The Pacific Dawn is seen after her refit with her new Southern Cross livery on her bow

With the addition of the Pacific Explorer in the P&O fleet, the MV Pacific Pearl has been sold to a British Cruise Company and she has been renamed MV Columbus, and is in operates from British ports.


P&O Cruises ~ MV Pacific Explorer

Pacific Explorer is the perfect match for the Australian fit, fun and sun loving lifestyle, as this beautifully appointed new ship is complete with two Waterslides, as well as a children’s Waterpark located within the louvered stylised funnel casing, zip lining, rock climbing, and yes even barefoot bowling. Thus, a wonderful new range of activities is available for all ages! She also offers a huge range of Bars, Pubs as well as Live Music venues, and a grand Theatre - the Marquee, and another special adult oriented Showroom, called the “Black Circus.”

When it comes to Dining aboard the Pacific Explorer, guests will be spoilt with an amazing choice of 12 dining experiences all of which are included in the cruise fare, as well as some amazing specialty optional dinning venues.

All this is combined with a all-new P&O style, that provides that relaxed modern Australian interior decor. I certainly highly recommend the wonderful New Pacific Explorer, for she is now the new Flagship of the P&O Fleet!

MV Pacific Explorer is seen on her official naming day at Circular Quay Passenger Terminal, on July 19, 2017

P&O’s new Flagship, MV Pacific Explorer is a spacious 77,441 GRT (Gross Registered Tons), and she accommodates 1,998 Guests (lower berths), making her the largest cruise ship to sail under the P&O Cruises’ Australia banner.




Above & below: Aft within the louvered funnel housing is the Children’s Waterpark

Then aft of the funnel are the two 4 deck high Water Slides


1: Lounges and Bars:

In this first section, I will be showing photographs of some of the new Public Venues, on a Deck by Deck basis, commencing on Deck 5 and head up to Deck 8. Obviously I will commence from forward of the ship and then slowly go aft.

Even though I personally know the ship extremely when she was the Princess cruise ship MV Dawn Princess, having done 106 night around the world cruise on her, the venues are now beautifully refurbished, and she is a far better ship than she ever was! A complete and up to date Deck Plan is available on Page Two. However I have to congratulate P&O Cruise CEO. Mr, Sture Myrmell, a man I have known for many years, and he has great insight and ideas of what a good Cruise Company is all about, and I have seen this, what was a basic cruise line flourish into a very good one!

Mr. Myrmell said that the Pacific Explorer was the next stage in the evolution of P&O’s very popular modern Australian holiday offering and she has something on-board that is suitable for everyone!

Below, is a photographic tour of this fine new P&O ship the Pacific Explorer, and it will provide you with a vision of the kind of vacation that this fine ship will offer you!

The Pacific Explorer Layout:

This updated layout shows the locations of all Public Venues and other facilities on the all-new MV Pacific Explorer

-Blue areas- contain the ships accommodations, all disabled rooms are either inside cabins and just two with a window



Above & below: Here we see two views of the Atrium down on Deck 5 but altogether are three levels

The Atrium is also home to the Reception Desk, Tours Desk, the Waterfront Restaurant & Charlie’s Café



+Charlie’s Café is located on the portside of the Atrium - Deck 5, and it is simply

the perfect place for an Espresso Coffee or some cake, pastry or a delightful snack

+Coffee & snacks are at an optional cost


Far forward on Decks 6 & 7 is the multi level the Marquee Theatre


On the starboard side (right hand side looking forward) of the Atrium on Deck 6

You will discover an entire new experience, being the “P&O Home ware Store”


The Explorer Hotel is located just forward of the Atrium and on Promenade Deck (7) and directly aft of the Marquee Theatre

This fine Lounge and bar offers daytime activities and there dancing as the band plays here each evening


The all-new Ocean Bar is located on Deck 7 (Promenade Deck) around the Atrium a great place to relax and have a drink



Above & below: Another new venue “The Bonded Store” being a Bar in association with the award-winning Archie Rose Distilling Co

Every Cocktail or Drink will feature Archie Rose’s handcrafted spirits. This is indeed a first for an Australian-based cruise ship



The Blue Room - This venue is based on those found on Pacific Aria and Eden and is a fine venue


The aft Black Circus and Bar is located far aft of Promenade Deck (7) and this venue provides

an amazing night of entertainment that has that extra twist! This Cabaret venue brings a new

style edgy, adults-only stage show that will have you wanting more, and there is lots more!


The Casino is located on Deck 8 and can be reached via the Atrium lifts or the spiral stairs near the Blue Room

Here we see one of the many Tables on the left and just a few of the Pokies in the room aft of the Bar

2: Dinning Venues:

Please Note: Venues marked with an * means this venue is included in your fare. Those marked with a + means these are dinning venues at an opotional cost.


*Above & below: Two views of the Waterfront Restaurant is located just aft of the Atrium on Deck 5

This Dining Room offers open sitting and booings can be made in advance, or just turn up when you are ready

If a specific time is required for the whole cruise, this can be accommodated




*Angelo’s Restaurant offering delicious Italian dishes! Located on Deck 6 and is reached via this reception area from the Atrium



   *Dragon Lady Asian Restaurant has become a hit on the Pacific Aria & Eden!

Located beside Angelo’s on Deck 6 and is reached from the Angelo’s reception area at the Atrium


+The new and exciting 400-Gradi Pizzeria is yet another amazing dinning option

It is headed by the famed Johnny Di Francesco and it will serve delicious, and

authentic Pizza. 400-Gradi is located forward on the top level of the Atrium on Deck 8


   +The new style Luke’s, by Luke Mangan by famed Chef Luke Mangan offer’s great new casual dinning options

Luke’s is located forward on Deck 14, but overlooks the ships pools and funnel, etc


+The finest Dining experience anywhere, here you will enjoy an amazing degustation dinner

pared with fine wines, hosted by the Executive Chef in an intimate luxurious setting

+ NEW There is also a brand new and an exciting optional dinning venue called “Shell & BonesSeafood & Grill. This venue offers all the finest fresh seafood you can imagine, and it will certainly be a meal to be remembered. Treat yourself to some traditional favourites, or take your choice from the grill.

3: *The Pantry:

As many P&O passengers have already discovered on the Pacific Aria, Pacific Eden, as well as the Pacific Jewel that “The Pantry” has replaced the old style Buffet, and I am well aware, that there were a small number of past passengers, that the idea of change did not prove to be a good idea at first, but soon enough the majority realised that this Food Court Style of venue was a far superior option. Why? It is very simple, the variety of food was by far superior and the food was fresher and when served it was hot! And of course, you can still obtain food from different outlets, for some in the early stages did not think that this was possible, but of course it is all still a completely free of charge therefore, go, and eat as you desire! And wait until you see the Sweets venue, you will find that it is a beautiful and a sumptuous sweet delight!

The Pantry is more like a Grand Food Court with a good number of food outlets

where the only difference is, that great food is available - all included in your fare!

On the left we see the very popular “Fat Cow” that offers the perfect meal for meat lovers!


This is part of the dinning area at the forward section and no matter where

you sit, you will overlook the bow or the ocean at the side of the ship


Here is the huge tea, & coffee section, which is available all day and night!

For those who like fancy teas, it is all there, “Chamomile tea for anyone?”

Now let us look at some of the Dinning Venues available at The Pantry:

Stix-Pan-Aian offers a variety of great Asian food and it will have dishes from different countries around Asia, be it Vietnam, Korea, China, and so much more. This is certainly a very popular dinning option!

Hook’s Fish & Chips offers crispy battered fish together with fresh hot chips that will have the perfect amount of crunch! There will be daily specials available, such as crumbed scallops, salt and pepper squid, and herbed calamari rings. And this is available for you on a P&O cruise!

Fat Cow welcomes all those who are genuine meat lovers, for here you will find quality cuts of meat that will delight you! The range is vast from beef scotch fillets will melt in your mouth. Then there are the delicheos racks of lamb, roast pork with crackling, tender carvings of beef, chicken, succulent legs of lamb and cured hams. Now, who would want that old style buffet when all this is available, and there is so much more to come!

Here is another view of the popular “Fat Cow” Grill, and other venues

Mexicana, you can have either a hard or a soft shall taco, filled with all your favourites, including the salsa, pickles, chilli as required and guacamole, together with some lime and cheese. Now that sounds like a great meal or possibly, an in-between meal snack?

Kettle & Bun offers freshly baked bread, and expertly made sandwiches with a variety of fresh toppings and salads, as well as mouth-watering soups. Thus, pending on taste of the day, you can mix and match and make a perfect combo meal.

Curry House, “Some Like it Hot” then others may like it mild, but what ever you choose the curries here are traditional and offer the classic flavours, including the Tandoori style. Meals come complete with homemade breads, chutneys, raitas and pickles. Enjoy.

Sugar Bar offers a variety of sweet cakes, pastries and individual desserts all freshly made onboard.

And there is so much more to choose from, I am not one for Buffets, but the Pantry is a whole different concept and I love it! You can dine here, for Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner!

4: Outdoor Spaces, Pools, and Activities:

Pacific Explorer has a genuine full walk-around Promenade Deck (7) - starboard side looking aft

Photograph by & © Reuben Goossens


The Main Pool Deck with Giant Movie Screen - Deck 12


The new tube-slides are located up high and aft of the funnel and comes down to Deck 14


Here we see an illustration of the Adults only Oasis retreat is located aft on Deck 14 and pool on Deck 12

Therefore, the circular Pool is located one deck down, located under the covering, as well as two Hot Tubs on either side


The lawn bowls is located aft on Deck 11, and it can be reached via the stairs from

   the Adults only Oasis retreat up on Deck 12, or via the aft doors on Deck 11     

Accommodations and Deck Plan:

Below the Conclusion is a link to the Pacific Explorer’s Deck Plan and accommodation details and photographs.

In Conclusion:

Having sailed on the ship whilst she was the Dawn Princess I can say that she is certainly an excellent sailing ship regardless the weather and having spent 106 days on her during just a single voyage, we did sail through all kinds of weather and the ship handled perfectly! In addition, her overall lay out is very pleasant, and she has a magnificent three level Atrium, which from what we can see above is now so much better then when she was a Princess ship!

Pacific Explorer is seen at the Sydney Cruise Terminal

Overall, the wonderful new Pacific Explorer is a superb ship and she offers a completely new style of cruising for P&O Australia, just as the Pacific Aria and Eden have done! Thus get ready to book, for the Pacific Explorer has already proven on her first cruises to be very popular with many repeat bookings having been made. This would be, because she has so much to offer, including the new children and younger generation facilities, which are available onboard!

Below in the Index you will find the Pacific Explorer’s DECK PLAN and her accommodation page. For a Brochure, enquiries or a reservation, see a registered Cruise Specialist, or a Travel Agency that has cruise experience as they offer the best service and fares, etc!


The New 2019 to 2020 P&O Brochure is now available from your friendly licensed Cruise & Travel Agency


For more information visit pocruises.com.au or go and see a licensed specialised Cruise (travel) agent



P&O Cruises Australia - INDEX:

MV Pacific Explorer:          77,441 Gross Tons – 1,998 passengers (lower berths).

Page Two:                         Deck Plan & Accommodations.

MV Pacific Dawn 2017:     70,285 Gross Tons - 2,000 passengers (all berths).

Pacific Aria PNG Review:   55,820 Gross Tons - 1,500 passengers (all berths).

MV Pacific Jewel:              70,310 Gross Tons - 1,950 passengers (all berths).

Pacific Adventure:             114,147 Gross Tons - 3,780 passengers (all berths) due in 2020.




Enter the Cruise-Australia - INDEX


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