Ship was clean and in good condition and the food was delicious and plentiful
I think that even though we faced two cyclones most staff rallied on...but after being on the SUN a year early...i must say i preferred the staff on board the SUN at the time..more cheerful, more entertaining, more service
The entertainers were not really up to scratch and I think its a shame that the same :format" is used on every ship..needs to change up a bit for regular cruisers. That said my next is a Mediterranean cruse this year, cant wait
How do you find a holiday that will meet the following specifics? Mum wants to be pampered, a married daughter wants to spend time with her husband and two children aged 12 and 15 need to have enough activities to keep boredom at bay. We found the perfect solution in a P&O 7 night Week Fantastique
cruise on board the Pacific Dawn.
After an easy check in, which included having our picture taken for our onboard ID tag, we were welcomed to our cabin by our very friendly and helpful steward. Throughout the whole cruise he had a smile on his face and kept the cabin in order with a full clean both morning and night. The cabin was more than adequate in size (we travelled as 3 in a quad share berth). Enough room to stow our luggage out of the way and although the ensuite was rather small, the large mirror at the writing desk was more than adequate for two women to put the finishing touches to hair and makeup before going out each evening. However there is only one power point so I'd advise packing a small power board to charge up cameras etc. The cabin window is large, letting in lots of natural light. Even this proved to be entertaining for my children. As first time sailors they were amazed by the vastness of the ocean and loved to watch the bustle ashore at our three port visits of Noumea, Lifou and Vila.
On day 1 I enrolled the children into Kids HQ and HQ+. I also opted to give permission for them to be out at supervised club activities until late at night. There are loads of things to do on sailing days (and more than enough on port days) to keep the kids occupied. All are fully supervised by qualified staff and the ship's daily news has a list of all events so you can concentrate on relaxing knowing the kids are in safe hands.
The dining on board was amazing. There are so many options available. From buffet breakfast in Cafe del Sol, breakfasting on deck, full service in the dining room or a continental breakfast delivered to your cabin. Options for lunch are again varied and on sailing days even include a poolisde bbq. Pre dinner saw us head to the Raffles inspired Bengal Bar for a cocktail and again the children were catered for with mocktails. We chose to have an ongoing booking for our dining table in the lovely Palm Court Restaurant, where every night the meals from the a la carte menu were delicious. There are more than enough choices to tempt the fussiest eater. The wait staff ensure every night's dining is a memorable experience. After only one night they had remembered all our names and drink orders! We opted to dine around 8pm which gave us time to enjoy our meal and then watch the second session of the night's entertainment. The shows were top class. From comedians, juggling acts, P&O's own Pacifique Soliel to Motown and Boogie Fever nights, each performance was outstanding and fully included in your fare.
P&O are very selective in their port destinations. We explored Noumea by minibus taking in the French culture, then the crystal clear waters of Lifou where we snorkelled amongst the coral reefs of the naturally formed aquarium coming up close to the beautiful and varied marine life. Our last port call of Vila was rather more bustling with the locals setting up market stalls with good quality merchandise to sell. All optional tours can be pre booked and paid before departure. Those we chose to do were enjoyable and very well organised.
As we headed to our return port of Brisbane we still had plenty in store:- another high tea at sea, our second formal evening and a must see, the incredible Champagne Fountain. Sea days are filled with plenty to do from musical trivia, bingo, a galley tour, lazing by the pool or for the more energetic, Boot Camp at Sea or a gym workout.
Our 7 day cruise far exceeded our expectations. We have the perfect excuse to cruise again as we didn't have time to take a martini mixer class, aromatherapy lecture, being spoilt at the beauty therapy centre...the list goes on!
Cruises are for oldies aren’t they? I was turning 40 not 70!
With my 40th looming I wanted to do something special and wanted to celebrate it with my close friends. I wanted a party but couldn’t decide whether to hire a hall or have it at my place. The thought of having at mine sounded quite good, however, I would have had the dilemma of deciding whether to allow kids in which would equal worrying about them, the house, their behaviour and more to the point my behaviour- well, it was my 40th after all!
My friend had mentioned that she had gone on a cruise a few years ago and that they thought it would be boring and full of retirees but they had had a fantastic time. I must admit a cruise conjured up images of oldies having a good time at bingo – I wasn’t old – I wasn’t turning 70 - I was only turning 40! With some reservations I decided it was worth a look. I started to scan various websites and the idea of cruising was beginning to grow on me. I kept coming back to www.cruisesalefinder.com as they were not only the cheapest but their website was really easy to search by date and from port it was sailing from, it also gave you a price immediately online and they also had a real person you could ring up to speak with to ask any questions or make the booking.
I found a cruise leaving on Sat 21nd August 2010 from Brisbane sailing to Vanuatu . This would be perfect as my sons birthday was on 22nd and mine the 27th August. The price was unbelievable - $2600 for a family of 4 for a week . This included all the food and entertainment. The site gave you details on the ship, deck and your cabin so you could see exactly where you would be. On reading further I discovered there was a nightclub, casino, shows, restaurants, games room, pool, bars, BINGO!…..but more importantly a free kids club – this I decided was perfect. I wondered whether any of my friends would be interested and so excitedly text 5 of my friends and family not really expecting them to come along. All 5 rang me back that night and we booked it the following day. All the women were sold on the fact that you didn’t have to cook, clean, and could have 100% relaxation and have a night out with friends without having to think about designated drivers, babysitters, etc. Two of the men had reservations about going on a cruise – thinking it would be quite boring to be on the ship the whole time.
We arrived at the Brisbane Port and checked in our suitcases all within an hour! Before we knew it we were then on board being shown to our cabin, which was quite compact, but had everything we needed and we figured we wouldn’t be spending a lot of time in it anyway. What a nice surprise it was to see our suitcase in our cabin. I decided to leave the unpacking till later and headed up to the main deck bar where we joined our friends for cocktails and a P&O sale away party. The weather was perfect as we sailed out of Brisbane port - Pina Colada in hand singing to the music – well, it was my 40th after all! Wow – this was only the start of our cruise and i loved it already!
There was so much to do on board or so little, the choice was yours. My friend and I decided to keep up with our fitness whilst we were on board by going to the gym and also jogging around the top deck with Eli – this lasted 2 days the further 5 were spent lying on the sun lounger relaxing, coffee & cake , pop quizzes, and dare I say it – even bingo! Well, it was my 40th after all! There was lots of cash prizes of which we won quite a bit. I even had my teeth whitened whilst on board by the qualified beautician – well it was my 40th! I also did do a little spending in the duty free shops on board – they were such good value – well it was my 40th after all!
I was pleasantly surprised that there were quite a few other children on board which was good for our children. The children played all day in the pool -playing organised P&O team games such as Volleyball, they also organised soccer matches and table tennis tournaments to mention but a few! The kids loved the freedom that being on the ship gave them – at least we knew they couldn’t go far – unless they went for a swim! Man over Board kind! They also loved the full buffet and the free pizza, burgers, ice cream and cakes! This was such a bonus to have the choice of meals to suit even the fussiest of kids!
We visited the beautiful islands, visiting craft markets, snorkelling in clear blue water with tropical fish and seeing the most spectacular reef. I must admit though, the highlight of our holiday was booking our restaurant table for 12 on the evening (just the adults! The children didn’t starve! We fed the children earlier from the buffet and then they went to the kids club which was open until 10pm, or 1am for a small charge). After dinner we then had the choice of shows, bars, nightclub and casino. There were 2 theme nights on board – a hawaian and a cowboy/girl which we had brought our garlands and checked shirts to ensure we looked the part. Well, it was my 40th! These were great – everybody on board had made an effort which made it a really good party atmosphere – even the kids dressed up and entered various P&O competitions!
On my Birthday and even my sons 9th birthday – we were made to feel special from the start of the day – putting balloons on the cabin door and giving us both a birthday cake. For my birthday I had organised a 70s-2000 pop era fancy dress to celebrate my 40th. As you can see from the photo – there was Sonny & Cher, Abba, Bucks Fizz, Ozzy Ozbourne, Grease, Tom Jones, and me – Ginger Spice – The crew even got in on the picture! It was the best holiday I have ever been on, and the best 40th Birthday Party I could have wished for. Everyone commented on how easy and relaxing the holiday was, not having to make one meal let alone the bed! Nevertheless there were plenty of activities to choose from if you wanted action!
Everyone loved it so much that we have all booked our next cruise in March 2012 (even the 2 who had reservations !). Having talked about it and laughed about it so much since returning we have now another 2 more families joining us next year. They said they don’t want to miss out on it this time! That makes a total of 8 families – watch out P&O!
After spotting a great deal on Cruise Sale Finder and making my hassle-free booking i packed my bags for 7 nights ‘Week Fantastique’ cruising with P&O’s Pacific Dawn – Brisbane, Noumea, Lifou, Brisbane.
Check-in was pretty quick. 30 mins is all it took to hand over my luggage, register my credit card details, take possession of my dangerous (but fun!) cruise card, present my passport and i was walking up the gangway to join the Sail Away Party!
CABINS: I had an Ocean View Stateroom on Plaza (deck 5). Plenty of room, a queen bed, shower built for 2, nice sized basin, toilet always flushed, a desk, table and chair, t.v, fridge and ample storage. Best feature was a large window to the side of the bed that allowed for great views.
BARS.BARS.BARS!: Everywhere you go on this ship there’s a bar. There is the inevitable open-air Lido Deck Bar overlooking, the whirlpools and 2 pools. A spectacular niteclub called ‘The Dome’ (Deck 14 forward) with amazing lighting, and windows wrapping around it with the best views on the ship. A quiet ‘Oasis Bar’, which serves an adults only (my haven!) sun deck (Deck 10 aft). The elegant Promenade Cocktail Bar, and my favourite the ‘Bengal Bar’ (which has spawned a thousand facebook photos of just slightly inebriated passengers straddling its famous gold tiger statue.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD!: There is simply too much of it..SERIOUSLY!. Several dining options are available – casual buffet style or smart dress in the Palm Court Dining Room (4 courses!) are included in your ticket. At added cost are room service, a cafe or an icecream bar. 2 specialty dining options are also available for a price - $20pp for Asian over several course at ‘Fusion’, or Luke Mangens ‘Salt’ Grill for $40 pp for several courses (heaven on a plate!) I was talking to crew who said they averaged out passengers at 75kg outbound, and 77-78kg inbound. I did a quick poll of everyone i knew and we all put on between 5-7kgs...there is a fabulous gym, and a jogging/walking track..i just couldn’t seem to fit it in between meal times..ahem..
COCKTAIL ANYONE?: Drinks are a tad pricey. $9.25 for cocktails, $8 glass of wine (although i could get a bottle for $24 which was what i did), $5-6 for a beer. If you like Bourbon or Rum, it comes served with Pepsi (yuck, and wrong on soo many levels!!) If you ‘buddy’ it up with a can of Coke instead it pushes the price to $10.25 ouch!! Look... expect it, budget for it, and enjoy yourself (how often do you do these things anyway right??) This brings me back to those cruise cards (the ship is cashless if you didn’t know, the waiters swipe you card for drinks, shop purchases etc). If you are a bit social like me, and enjoy a tipple or 20 into the wee small hours..PLEASE CHECK YOUR ACCOUNT AT RECEPTION IN MORNING..until you get a feel for it. Many a new cruiser has left it for a few days, and been in for an extremely rude shock!.
ACTIVITIES & SHOWS: Plenty to do for everyone. From the weird and whacky – ‘Meet to discuss your pets’???? and something involving grown adults building boats out of empty juice containers and whatever else, to race across the pool. For the smarty pants – lots of trivia and gameshow opportunities. The would-be singers Karaoke, and more Karaoke. The crafty can participate in t-shirt making, quilling? and gecko making??? (don’t ask me!!) Casino action, cards, bingo, art auctions, bridge and galley tours etc, etc. Shows are of a very high quality. Laser light shows, circus acts, staff productions, comedy, a cultural act from Noumea to name a few, all staged in the 3 level Atrium or International Show Lounge. Don’t miss the champagne waterfall/Laser show and ‘Bomb Alaska’ parade on the last night.
KIDS: The kids clubs are amazing. Just book early on school holidays (before you board) so you don’t miss out. Talent shows, arts and crafts, discoes etc for all age groups..the kids seem to really love it!
PORTS & TOURS: Also book these before departure, otherwise you will miss out. What is left sells out quickly after departure, so don’t delay.
Noumea – My pick: Sightseeing by The Tchou Tchou Train. On a Budget: The $15 ‘hop-on’ hop-off’ bus tickets available at the Info Centre. Allows you to explore Noumea at your leisure, for one small price.
Lifou – Just beautiful...arrive by tender...it’s all white sand and glorious crystal clear water. My Pick: The Secret Grotto Tour (lovely cave and a talk by a local chief). On a Budget: turn left after beach and take the moderately taxing walk up to the lovely old church (it’s the steps at the end that get you huffing). It gives you a spectacular view from high of the ship. This is also your best snorkelling opportunity, and check out the coconut crabs!
VILA - Shopping, and more shopping! Nice cheap duty- free everything. Lots of nick-nacks at the local market stalls...(keeping customs restrictions back home in mind). So many tours! My Pick: The Cultural Village tour is fantastic. But you can Kayak, Para-sail, Jetboat, Scuba, Snorkel, pamper yourself at Le Lagon Resort, see the Cascade waterfalls, or enjoy a scenic helicopter ride. I even met a 75 y/o darling that went ‘Zorbing’ which is a strange activity that involves getting wet and being rolled around in a giant beachball. On a Budget: You can work out a deal with one of the many, many local drivers with vans waiting at the dock. Don’t worry – the male drivers can be a bit over-enthusiastic to get your business, but are harmless. Crime is almost non-existent in Vanuatu.
FORMAL/THEME NIGHTS: 2 formal nights are featured which is not necessarily a tux and ballgown. Nice pants and a dress shirt for men, and cocktail dress for the ladies is acceptable. You won’t be able to eat in the dining room on these nights if you don’t participate, and will have to take the buffet option. Plenty participate, but plenty also opt out, and the bars after dinner have a mix of all dress types (except swimwear obviously), so you won’t feel left out whatever you choose. There are 2 theme nights as well. The first is usually ‘Cowboy’ (just check) and the second is the big ‘Island Night’ Party on Lido deck the second last night....Can i just make a side-note here??? If you are anything like me, aren’t a spring chicken, have let your exercise regime slip, and have indulged mightily on your holiday...can i just suggest on Island night you wear a little SOMETHING? under your coconut shell bikini purchased in Vila for the occasion...maybe?...totally up to you...anyway i digress...
Overall P&O’s Pacific Dawn is fantastic. It’s a superliner – plenty of room, plenty of sun loungers, seats in the show/bars etc. Service is great. Food is good and plentiful. It was much better, and a whole level above my last P&O cruise on the Pacific Star 6 years ago. It was tired, and the shows were hammy, the niteclub dark and depressing – which is why it took so many years to do another. IT WONT TAKE ANOTHER 6 YEARS!. I’m already eyeing off the fantastic 2012 options on Cruise Sale Finder ...Freemantle to Bali anyone???
Having travelled with P & O twice this year already, we looked forward to the cruise to Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia aboard the Pacific Dawn (W219). Sadly, we were in for a disappointment in many ways.
On the first night our cabin was very warm, despite the air conditioner being set at the lowest temp. We spoke to reception who sent someone to look at it. They opened up the vents in the ceiling and poked around, but nothing changed, so we spent a second sleepless, warm night aboard. On the third day we complained again and magically, the problem was fixed. WHY it took three days we will never know.
Things went well for a few days, though there were unacceptable delays in getting off the ship in most ports of call for various reasons - at Mystery Island the channel markers had vanished and had to be replaced, delaying the tendering service well over an hour and many passengers complained it took till after 1pm for them to even get to the island. With a departure time around 4pm for the final tender back to the ship, that didn’t leave much time to walk around on shore.
At 5pm, as we were due to leave Mystery Island and head for the Isle of Pines - one of the highlights of the trip - the captain came on the speaker system and informed us he had made an arbitrary decision to skip Isle of Pines due to poor weather forecasts and head back to Brisbane instead, taking a long detour to avoid the worst of the weather. I have NO idea if there WAS a weather front around the Isle of Pines, or if it was a convenient way of keeping everyone aboard spending money at the bars etc for an extra day. This may sound rather unpleasant, but given P & O's mercenary approach to extracting money from their passengers at any opportunity, it can’t be ruled out.
Either way, we sailed north to avoid the weather and hit terrible weather! Big swells, severe winds which closed the outside decks on deck 7 and lots of rain.
With two nights to go, the seas were so rough the entertainers had to cancel their second show. To be honest, it was remarkable they had managed to do the first one - dancing in high heels on a stage which is lurching dramatically can only be described as dedication to their craft or total stupidity and I am convinced it was the former, so thanks guys you deserve a special mention of your own for that.
At 4am next morning, we hit a "rogue" wave. Rumour has it that it took out a window on the deck. Certainly when the captain came on air to tell everyone what had happened and how the crew were assessing the damage to see if the cruise could continue to Brisbane or not, you could hear the tinkling of glass in the background. Of course, with the captain being Italian, it is possible the window broke as he dived for the nearest lifeboat when he saw the rogue wave and forgot the window was closed!! (OK, ok, that was uncalled for I admit!!)
With the ship still working fine, we continued on to Brisbane and at 9am next morning we were assured the ship was still on time to arrive in Brizzy the following morning at 6am. At 12 pm we were AGAIN told we were on schedule and everyone attached their disembarkation tags to their bags and duly placed them outside their cabins at 5pm for collection. However at 5pm the captain came on the speaker system and explained we had lost time and would now not be arriving till 9am! This, as you can imagine, threw just about everybody’s travel plans into disarray, without warning. For us it meant we would not make our connection in Brisbane and would result in our not being able to get home till 20 hours later than we had planned. Obviously P & O are not responsible for the weather, BUT it is highly unlikely that the captain hadn’t known earlier we were falling behind time. To lie to the passengers at 9am and 12pm was unforgivable. If there was even a slight chance of delays he should have said EXACTLY that instead of the bull about still being on time. As soon as his announcement of the 3 hour delay was made, reception was inundated with long queues as people tried to change their baggage tags for earlier times in order to still make their flights. In our case, we wanted to move ours BACK - there would be no point in getting up at 4.30 when we would not be able to get out of Brisbane till 3.15 at the earliest. The queue for reception snaked along deck 5 and the crew behind the desk made the same fatal PR mistake so many businesses do each day - they answered the phone as it rang, keeping the queuing passengers waiting even longer.. It truly amazes me that big corporations haven’t worked out that when a customer takes the time to walk to your store or reception desk, they have made a commitment EARLIER than the person who lifts their phone and dials. To stand in line for 20 minutes and see a receptionist taking calls and answering phone enquiries from someone who had literally JUST picked up the phone and dialed from their cabin is infuriating. The solution is to have ONE dedicated person to take the calls and tell the passengers they need to come to reception to sort their problem, NOT tie up all the reception people constantly. P & O, that was DUMB.
Having changed their disembarkation times where possible everyone then had to quickly get back to their cabins and hope their bags hadn’t already been taken away so they could change the tags. All in all a total shemozzle and a demonstration of poor middle management at work. Actually, it was odd how all the executive crew members vanished the moment the captain’s announcement was made, leaving reception to handle the crowds. Add gutless to the other criticisms of the management team.
Of course, there would be NO compensation for the missed port of call - P & O explain that in their fine print when you book. There would be no compensation for anyone whose travel plan changes without notice resulted in an overnight in Brizzy or further costs to grab a replacement flight - P & O's fine print covers that too!
How easy would it have been to offer a free drink to each passenger when the disembarkation delay was announced? How sensible to give $100 off your next cruise when the last Port of Call was canned? But no, P & O are SO concerned about not admitting fault or accepting liability for decisions they make and SO keen to suck every dollar from every passenger they can, they don’t see past the trees to view the wood!
Overall, a wonderful demonstration in poor management, lousy customer relations, awful PR, and quite possibly, poor decision making by the captain in regard to the rerouting that took us into poor weather anyway and left us 3 hours short of our destination at the time we should have been moored despite sailing for an extra 10 hours!
Have to also say that the embarkation and disembarkation at Brisbane leaves a LOT to be desired compared to the same processes in Sydney, which is odd when you think that in Sydney they are using a temporary tent whilst in Brisbane they have a permanent facility.
On the plus side, the entertainers were very good, the food was plentiful and tasty as always and apart from taking phone calls with long queues of people waiting to change their disembarkation times, the reception staff were excellent.
On the negative side, poor management with few management skills. Mis and disinformation was the rule of thumb when dealing with passengers. Sales staff in most areas had NO sales skills at all. The Future Cruises manager was hopeless. She lacked humour, was unfriendly and seemed to loathe her job. Lady, you really are in the wrong job! Sales staff in the various shops were totally lacking in product knowlege, choosing to bluff an answer rather than actually check if it was right. In the jewellery store there was no interest in the customers at all with staff more interested in the colour of their nail polish than the needs of their clients - and I am not just talking about the female staff either! Many products are over priced with claims of saving 40% on Australian retail being at best misleading, as the same branded products which were $130 on board were actually under $70 in Brisbane shops. I suspect P & O have reduced staff numbers resulting in less table waiters in the restaurant and fewer drinks waiters in the bars. Service was generally worse than on our previous two cruises aboard the Pearl and Jewel.
Sadly for us the negatives have considerably outnumbered the positives and our next trip will be flying overseas and staying in hotels. I know there are other ships and cruise lines, but the bad taste left in my mouth from this experience will take some time to get over.
This eleven day cruise was great, unfortunately we thought it would be warm, which it was in the Pacific islands, but getting there and back was quite chilly, we wont go again in July'. The only other disappointing thing was that they have changed the early dinning time from 6 PM to 5 PM, the later
time was ideal if you wished to see the 7.30 show, and 5 PM is too early to dine.
Had a wonderful time. Would definitely recommend it.
My family had never been on a cruise ship before and had no idea what to expect, so we were all quite nervous including the children.
From the moment we made our first step onboard it was amazing and our nerves melted away. Even though our first thoughts were the ship look old, in no way did it disappoint in the service of our rooms, dining and activities. Upon arriving to our cabin even though it was small it had everything you needed and you really didnt spend any time in the rooms apart from sleep. Our stewart introduced himself and from that moment on whenever he sawy you he called you by name, the cabin was cleaned several times a day and the beds turned down each evening with chocolates of course. The service in all the resturants was very efficient and the food was five star all the way, even the children loved eating in the a la carte for each meal, it was a wonderful experience for them. After dinner each night we took the children with us to the shows and like us they were amazed at how colourful the costumes were, the performances were very entertaining for all of us. Each evening we looked forward to the newsletter informing us of next days activities including the kids club. There was always so much happening it was hard to choose which ones we should do, it was great to try new things at no additional cost. The children loved the kids club and enjoyed making new friends. Upon arriving at ports it was good to see a variety of tours offered to cover all kinds of tourist activities. It was the first holiday I had ever been on where I did no cooking or cleaning and had people wait on me all the time, best value for money and I would certainly go ahead for sure. A holiday we will always remember.
In September 2010, my family and I set off on an adventure of a lifetime – a cruise with P&O onboard the Pacific Dawn … seven day cruising the Pacific (Noumea, Lifou and Vanuatu) … bliss!
We were unbelievably excited (it had been my dream since loving "the love boat" TV programme when I was a child) and quite honestly, it wasn’t the countries we were visiting that had us so excited, but the actual adventure of being on the ship!
The only concern my husband and I had, was the possibility of seven days of bad food! We actually WORRIED over how bad it could be! What a waste of energy that was!!!! OH MY GOODNESS the food was INCREDIBLE. We honestly couldn't fault the food (in all restaurants), the service (exceptional), the dining experiences (the waiters were AMAZING), in any way whatsoever. We are both real "foodies" and we didn't want to be eating stodge. What we ate and were offered at every single meal was INCREDIBLE. The diversity, the options, the Chef’s, the wait staff – it was all exceptional. We have been telling anyone who will listen about it ever since – for me the crispy pork belly with scallops and asparagus followed by the best cheese platter I’ve ever eaten was the highlight of my cruise, yet for my husband it was the exceptional fish done Thai style with the perfect amount of hot/spice, and for our daughter (8) she ate spaghetti Bolognese EVERY SINGLE DAY (her heaven!) and pancakes, eggs, and her favourite fruits every morning.
Oh, while on the subject of our daughter – I have to mention kids club. WOW. Having an only child, I thought it probably wouldn’t interest her – hanging out in there on her own. But the opposite happened – and I struggled to get her OUT of the kids club, so she could come and hang out with me sometimes!!!! She made wonderful friends, she danced, she did crafts, she LOVED the women who were in charge, she went to pyjama parties, a disco, had ice-cream eating competitions, movie night, painted, and had the best holiday she could have ever dreamed of.
For my husband, well, that’s another story. My husband broke his neck in April 2007 while playing rugby union, and is now a quadriplegic. His body doesn’t work from the neck down, he can’t feel anything from the nipple line down, yet he can move enough that he can operate an electric wheelchair with his wrist. We hadn’t had a family holiday since his accident, and I’m sure you can imagine, our lives had been remarkably different since that fateful day. The idea of flying anywhere was horrific, long drives impossible, so what to do? I thought there was no way we could afford a cruise, but then I did some research, and spoke to other chair-bound people who’d been before, and then I booked us on the holiday that would change our lives! If you’re in a wheelchair and can’t use your hands, move your body etc, a holiday isn’t really like a holiday is for the rest of us. He still needs to be showered toileted, hoisted into bed, fed, so the reality isn’t that fun. We decided to take a carer with us, so she shared a room with our daughter, and that gave me a break also. Well, how AMAZING this experience of cruising was for him… often he would just sit out the back and feel the wind on his face, then he’d watch our daughter swim in the pool, do sports trivia in the sports bar, listen to a talk by the Captain, watch the shows, EAT in one of the many fabulous restaurants, chat with fellow passengers, have a beer and listen to a band, oh it was endless the activities he could take part in. Every waiter, every cleaner, everyone was amazing on the ship – we couldn’t have asked for them to be any more helpful. He came back a new man. Oh, the only thing that could have been better – was three more weeks of cruising!!!!!
There was never a moment when my husband just had to sit and wait, or sit and watch without partaking, because he could get involved with everything (to a certain degree). He looked healthy, relaxed, and his eyes were shining, and one night his carer and our daughter organised that we would go on a "date" on the ship and it was just wonderful... it's been so long! (i'm feeling tearful as i write this!)
Getting off the ship in his wheelchair was possible at two of the 3 ports we docked in, and we explored new lands and cultures and were blown away by our adventure. Our daughter has so many special memories, of an amazing time with us, but in particular her dad, as they explored the ship, and then on our return, she made a scrapbook of her holiday and won an award at school for it. What a memory for her!
As for me, and yes I know, this has been a VERY long read! But as for me, it was the most beautiful thing to experience with my family I can’t even begin to expect you to understand. I have watched my husband and daughter go through huge trauma, stress and worry. We live with worry about his health constantly. The cruise changed our lives. We had FUN together. We laughed, we relaxed, and the words my daughter uttered after having our first lunch in the buffet after we’d boarded sum it up perfectly, “MUM! This is like a real truly proper holiday for you because you don’t even have to shop to buy the food to do the cooking and then the dishes and the cleaning!” Oh she was so right! What a magical time. I wandered through the food markets at Vanuatu. I swam in Lifou. I played bingo, did a craft class, a dance class, went to a food tasting, listened to talks, shopped, laughed, ATE and had the most relaxing time of my life. And most importantly – I relaxed for the first time in four years. It was absolutely remarkable.
My dream would be for my family to go on a cruise every year. Realistically I’m aiming for every five years! We’ve asked friends to join us on our next cruise (not booked yet!) and we’ve suggested to our families that we all go on a family catch up cruise.
I have recommended cruising it to EVERYONE I know, and earlier this year friends of ours went on their first cruise – and we caught up a few days later and were all squealing as we were talking about the quality of the food, the fantastic shows etc etc.
What a magical experience and adventure for the whole family – it’s the only way we want to ever holiday again – bring on our next cruise!!!!
We sailed out of Brisbane on Pacific Dawn on 23 July for 11 nights to Pacific Islands. My husband and I both turned 50 this year, so we decided to go on a cruise. I ordered a cake and I was told to take my own decorations by my agent, so I only took candles, but when we received the cake it was
beautifully decorated with chocalate and strawberries and a chocolate wall with writing on, wishing us both a happy 50th. What a surprise! We had the most entertaining, spoilt holiday ever! It seemed like evertime we left our cabin and came back, it was immaculately straightened out again. Dinner service, theme nights, cocktail nights, entertainment shows, shore tours etc were out of this world. We even felt like celebrities with all the photograhers taking photo's the minute you set foot on the islands, at dinner, theme nights etc and even the staff treated us like celebrities. Thank you P&O for an unforgettable holiday!!!!!