Cruising was gaining popularity among our fellow Australians, I had already followed the masses to Hawaii the year earlier and had taken the path less traveled to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan in the past. My travel buddies and I began to contemplate whether we should follow suit and join the hoards of people holidaying on board cruise ships, although hesitant that we were possibly joining a potential trend that was no more than a novelty.
It was October 2013 when we boarded the Pacific Jewel for our first voyage, the beginning of a reluctant love affair with cruising. In the weeks preceding the cruise I had read cruise horror experiences (it didn’t help that we received an odd call at 4am to our cabin which resulted in me freaking out) and sifted through numerous forum posts to prepare myself for the unexpected.
For departure we made our way up to the top deck for the sail away party with hundreds of our new travel companions. Although Australia’s most iconic monuments, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are not new to me, that moment as the ship passes under the bridge never eases to excite me with anticipation of what lies beyond.
The Jewel was chosen predominately due to price and itinerary. Unstated decor, yet clean and I can not speak highly enough of the staff and out of 3 cruises I have completed to date, the entertainment was the most enjoyable.
I found the food more than satisfactory, although it is not hard to please me, I’ll eat almost anything once! The Jewel had the usual main dinning room (Waterfront Restaurant) and buffet (now replaced by the Pantry), as well specialty restaurants Salt Grill (well worth the surcharge, we still make a salad I had here, the meal was approx. $50 at the time) and Luna restaurant (also attracting an additional fee).
At times a BBQ was held near the pool and a grill nearby offered amazing garlic prawns, hot dogs and chicken wings (some items came at a nominal cost). We indulged in breakfast at the Waterfront Restaurant on sea days and the buffet on shore days. I did not care for the buffet for other meals, much preferring the main dinning room for lunch and dinner.
Anytime dining was our choice for meals and the ushers in the restaurants were great, seating us with an array of people over the course of our trip. Although I have to disclose, our first dinner experience was extremely awkward sitting with another couple, possible cruising newbies as ourselves wondering why we were sharing a table, not one word was exchanged that evening.
Apart from formal nights, after the last show, the ship was quite quiet, even the night clubs only had a handful of people on the hardwood dance floor. It was hard to believe the ship could hold almost two thousand guests and yet we could only find a few people enjoying the night life.
We chose an ocean view cabin, triple share. It was spacious enough for three, there was decent sized wardrobe area and the shower space was just adequate.
I have an admission to make, that on a South Pacific Cruise with beautiful weather, I not once ultilised the pools or spas. Two small pools where situated at top, one family, one for adults, but I never felt the want to dip in. A couple of small spas were in proximity, yet were always accompanied by children to my dismay!
The gym was outstanding, just kidding I wouldn’t know, I didn’t use it. I did partake in a yoga class though (at a fee), worth a try if you don’t mind a rocking boat to further test your abilities!
It was a pleasant experience for our first cruise, we were well aware that P&O may not offer the most glamorous ships, but the Jewel suited us well. Since, I have traveled on the Jewel once more to Melbourne, if you have any questions, fire away and I’ll try to answer them.
I’ll soon show off the beauty of the Loyalty Islands (New Caledonia) in up coming posts.