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This was my 12th cruise, mostly from Australia on P&O, and I was horrified to read the reviews about Pacific Aria before leaving! Hopefully this review will put people's mind at ease a bit. We had an ocean view cabin on deck 5. We found the ship was in as good as condition as any other P&O ships we had been on; not as flamboyant as some other cruise lines, but nothing like the bad reviews i had read. It rained very heavily only once but there didn't seem to be any problems. It is an old ship with some new interior fit-out. The food and the included restaurant choices were great, although as we were travelling in a group of 6, I wasn't a fan of not being able to book the Waterfront but all we had to do was turn up and get a buzzer and go for a drink in a bar while we waited, and you could still book the Dragon Lady and Angelo's (both included in cruise price). The pantry is a much better idea and a lot quicker than the old style of service; much like the system Carnival already had. The huge positive of the trip was the itinerary - the people and places we visited were lovely, with wonderful scenery, interesting history and culture still much in tack. HUGE negative was the entertainment; if you can call it that. I dont know if the Cruise Director didnt turn up for duty because it was the worse of any cruise we have been on. P&O used to have some of the best. Bingo at 8pm as the main show?? No sail-away parties at any of the 6 ports. No dancing or sing-along party bands, only folk singers, jazz band and one that seemed to just loudly jam to obscure songs they had written in their back shed. 13 night cruise and only 3 "special guests" (comedian, hypnotist, & comedian magician) who only performed once during the trip as the main act of the night. The "marriage match" that is run on most ships as a sea-day filler was instead the main show one night. The entertainment crew seemed to be the only ones enjoying themselves, as they just sat in groups with each other chatting and taking up the seating in the lounges, they didn't mingle or encourage any passengers to interact. For one of the very few basic interactive game shows held in the Dome, they used 6 of the crew and only 4 passengers even though they could have filled it with passengers craving something to do!! I made a formal complaint but it went no where. Other BIG problem was that I booked 2 P&O Shore tours online before leaving Australia as I could not find other private tours for those ports, and when I got onboard found that they did not register and booked out on first day of cruise, so missed out on once in a lifetime tours. We were not the only passengers this happened to; and nothing could be done as tours were filled before we found out when tour tickets failed to be delivered.

Better than expected! Wonderful PNG itinerary increased my rating to 4 stars.

Pacific Aria Cruise Review by LindaBruce

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was my 12th cruise, mostly from Australia on P&O, and I was horrified to read the reviews about Pacific Aria before leaving! Hopefully this review will put people's mind at ease a bit. We had an ocean view cabin on deck 5.

We found the ship was in as good as condition as any other P&O ships we had been on; not as flamboyant as some other cruise lines, but nothing like the bad reviews i had read. It rained very heavily only once but there didn't seem to be any problems. It is an old ship with some new interior fit-out. The food and the included restaurant choices were great, although as we were travelling in a group of 6, I wasn't a fan of not being able to book the Waterfront but all we had to do was turn up and get a buzzer and go for a drink in a bar while we waited, and you could still book the Dragon Lady and Angelo's (both included in cruise price). The pantry is a much better idea and a lot quicker than the old style of service; much like the system Carnival already had.

The huge positive of the trip was the itinerary - the people and places we visited were lovely, with wonderful scenery, interesting history and culture still much in tack.

HUGE negative was the entertainment; if you can call it that. I dont know if the Cruise Director didnt turn up for duty because it was the worse of any cruise we have been on. P&O used to have some of the best. Bingo at 8pm as the main show?? No sail-away parties at any of the 6 ports. No dancing or sing-along party bands, only folk singers, jazz band and one that seemed to just loudly jam to obscure songs they had written in their back shed. 13 night cruise and only 3 "special guests" (comedian, hypnotist, & comedian magician) who only performed once during the trip as the main act of the night. The "marriage match" that is run on most ships as a sea-day filler was instead the main show one night. The entertainment crew seemed to be the only ones enjoying themselves, as they just sat in groups with each other chatting and taking up the seating in the lounges, they didn't mingle or encourage any passengers to interact. For one of the very few basic interactive game shows held in the Dome, they used 6 of the crew and only 4 passengers even though they could have filled it with passengers craving something to do!! I made a formal complaint but it went no where.

Other BIG problem was that I booked 2 P&O Shore tours online before leaving Australia as I could not find other private tours for those ports, and when I got onboard found that they did not register and booked out on first day of cruise, so missed out on once in a lifetime tours. We were not the only passengers this happened to; and nothing could be done as tours were filled before we found out when tour tickets failed to be delivered.
LindaBruce’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 5215
Average to Good, except for shower over bath - unsure how elderly passengers would have handled this particularly on a rough voyage, but I enjoyed it one day after a long shore tour.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Alotau
    Great tour, great itinerary, good vehicle and driver, but 9 squashed into an 8 seater vehicle in the very hot and humid PNG conditions, on roads that arent the safest.
    View All 27 Alotau Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Madang
    Free transfer to Madang Lodge - airconditioned bus waiting at the port that went past bays and beaches, golf course, memorial lighthouse, and stopped at the Museum & Visitor Centre on way to Madang Lodge Hotel located within beautiful gardens. Lovely spot for a drink on the balcony overlooking Astrolabe Bay and Finnisterre Ranges.
    View All 2 Madang Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Cultural Performances
    $60 for a 5 minute hot bus ride to a resort that had approx 6 different performances happening at once, which were terrific. If I thought the tour money was going to benefit the performers or their village more than P&O and the resort, I would be much happier. Unfortunately I dont think this will be the case.
    View All 2 Cultural Performances Reviews
  • Rabaul
    Best tour of whole trip. Ellie the local tour guide was informative, friendly, funny and very caring. Viewed Volcano Observatory, Yamamotos Bunker, Betty Bomber, Japanese Peace Memorial, Bitapaka War Cemetary, Kokopo War Museum, Japanese Barge and Hospital Tunnels, and Market, Matiput Island cultural performance, handicrafts and oral history.
    View All 12 Rabaul Cruise Port Reviews
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