Pacific Pearl Tour

Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 |
Two of us at Cruise Republic were lucky to have a tour of, and lunch on, the Pacific Pearl when she was docked in Auckland this week. As it was a disembarkation/embarkation day, during the middle hours of the day the ship was reasonably empty and we had a good look around the place, including into a few different categories of cabins.

The Atrium of the ship, where we entered, is a colourful, spacious and fun-looking area with a ground floor and 2 mezzanine levels, surrounded by duty-free shops, bars and with tables to sit at and watch the world go by. With many of the ship's facilities close by, it is a good place to meet friends and family. On the ceiling there is a bar where acrobatics can be performed if weather does not permit them to happen outside by the pool. With the 2 mezzanines and plenty of space on the ground floor, it is easy to imagine the Atrium being a great place for this, as a lot of people would fit in to see the show.




Nearby is the casino, which like the rest of the ship is primarily a cashless place- you use your cruise card to get credit to play with, and winnings can be put back on your card or given in cash if you prefer. It is up-to-date with digital poker tables and the like- a very cool place for gambling (in moderation of course).


On Deck 2, in the cool depths of the ship is Aqua, the spa and gym. Spa treatments are a little expensive, but from what we saw would be a great treat and addition to your cruise- Some examples include acupuncture- $164 for 50 mins, facials- from around $130 for 50 mins, a 75 min Seaweed wrap and massage for $215, and almost any other spa treatment you could ask for, including teeth whitening and 'The Shave of all Shaves' for men. There are also waxes, hair styling and treatments, pedicures and manicures, and an exclusive Thermal Suite with hot stone benches for back pain, a variety of showers and more. Access to this is limited and must be booked, at around $200 for a couple for a week-long cruise.The spa appeared to be very clean and fresh- a nice environment to be in, which is ideal if you have come to relax. Also, there are sparkly pillows everywhere- nice!

 One of the treatment rooms:


The gym is free for all to use and well-stocked with treadmills, exercycles, weights and other machines. Although the idea of working out on holiday may not appeal, the food we had was honestly great- so I can see how you'd feel the need for  bit of exercise!


There are several bars on the ship- the Mix Cocktail Bar, the Orient, the Dome (also a nightclub), a swim-up bar, Connexions and a bar in the adults-only Oasis. These are used for different things during the day- some just to chill out, Connexions is often used for karaoke, the Dome hosts the overflow from Bingo tournaments, and there are various live music shows. One feature that I thought particularly excellent was that there are english pub meals served at lunchtimes in the Orient- mushy peas and pie, bangers and mash and the like. What a cool idea- and it is complimentary with your cruise fare. In  the evening, the bars are venues for drinking, meeting people and having fun, often with live music. The Dome is the nightclub, and has a dance floor and great ocean views. P&O employs a lot of bartenders from the UK as they are the most skilled at the job. How's that for attention to detail!






In other entertainment news, at the forward end of Deck 7 is the Marquee Theatre, where musical productions take place- there appeared to be a good selection of shows on offer when we looked in there, and the theatre is on two levels but not huge- I could see you would be very close to the onstage action, but it would be necessary to arrive early for popular shows to get a seat. There is a mezzanine level with more seating, and a bar in case you should become dehydrated whilst taking in a show. Decorated dramatically in red and yellow, it feels like any theatre you might find on shore.



Children and teens are well catered for on the Pearl- there are fully staffed kids clubs and an area called HQ for teens. The programmes operate from 9am until 10pm with breaks where parents are required to take their children to meals, and are named Turtle Cove for 3-6 year olds and Shark Shack for 7-10 year olds. Babysitting is available for a small fee from the end of the programmes until 1am. Teen HQ and HQ+ are based in a cool hangout at the back of the ship, with great views over the wake.

The kids and teens areas looked to me like fun- they are surprisingly technology-orientated, which the young ones will love. As well as crafts, games, sports, movies and competitions, there are video games for all ages- the Teen HQ has numerous PS3s and a wii sports area, as well as a big screen for movies.The foosball table would also be a hit, I would say!

Kids:
Teens:





The pool deck is where you go for sunbathing, swimming and generally enjoying being outside. There are a LOT of sun loungers by the pool and on the mezzanine level above, and other decks overlooking the stern, and I was assured that there are enough that no-one needs to fight to get a spot! The pools look inviting, if a little smaller than i expected, and there is a swim-up bar in one of them. The sailaway party was being prepared for when we were there- drink stations, entertainers, acrobatics on the outdoor stage- it looked to be a good evening! Also available for peaceful sunbathing is adults-only Oasis, with more upmarket sun loungers, a bar and spa pools. This area, on deck 8, was very nice, right on the back of the ship so it would offer amazing views.

 Pool Deck:

Oasis:


Food- this is one of the more important parts of the cruise, and there are several options on the Pearl. First, the options which need to be paid for. Salt Grill is a top-notch restaurant by celebrity chef Luke Mangan, and requires bookings (you can only book onboard) and a $40pp cover charge. If you are a foodie, this would be worth it- a 5-course meal of this calibre would cost hundreds elsewhere. If you aren't a lover of gourmet, eat elsewhere- it is still good, and is covered in your cruise fare. The chocolate cafe on the pool deck also costs, but not too much- and it sells icecream! Room service is priced per item for the 24-hour menu, and if you want a normal meal delivered there is a delivery fee. Delivered continental breakfasts can be ordered free of charge.



There is a lot of variety should you wish to only eat what you paid for before your cruise. The main dining room on Deck 7 is called the Waterfront, and is a very nice sit-down restaurant with 3 courses. Although a big place, it does not feel like a dining hall, as it is partitioned off to form smaller, intimate areas- i found it to be a very nice place to eat. The food was very good, our waiter extremely friendly and funny, and there is a regular menu with a lot of choice, and a daily specials menu with yet more. There is a buffet restaurant called the Plantation cafe opening on to the pool area- I can't comment on the food but it looked great and the cafe was nicely decorated- nothing like a cafeteria! Also on the pool deck, in case you don't want to walk the few metres to the buffet, is the Grill which serves usual poolside fare- burgers, chips, hot dogs etc. As mentioned before, pub lunches are available at the Orient. You won't need to go too far to eat!

Waterfront:
Plantation:


We were able to look at a window double/twin cabin- these have beds which can be joined or seperated depending whether you like to sleep with your roommate. These are basically the same as hotel rooms- bed/beds, a window, a desk, tv, a/c with remote control, safety deposit box, fridge, sink, shower and toilet. If you were going to be spending a lot of time in your cabin, you may want a balcony or mini-suite, but otherwise they are nice rooms, clean and sufficient for your accommodation needs! They can have beds pull out to fit four people. We did see a balcony room- the same, but with a small balcony which would be nice to sit out on in the morning or evening for a bit of privacy. There are also extra privileges that come with booking a balcony- including fresh fruit delivered daily to your cabin, priority embarkation and the goodies you find in the minibar are free (only the first lot though- not any restocking!). The largest rooms available on the Pearl are minisuites, which have extra room to spread out- a living area, bigger wardrobe area and bathroom, and of course these have the same privileges. The one we saw was lovely and would be great for a couple who wanted to splash out and have some time to chill out in their cabin.

Double with window:
Minisuite:

Overall, I thought the Pacific pearl was a great ship: she is not a big one, however didn't feel small and poky but felt light and welcoming (apart from the hallways where the cabins are, but that is to be expected with any hotel!). She has been recently refurbished, and it shows- especially in the Teen HQ and the Waterfront restaurant, which were the two areas i was most impressed with.

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