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Formerly part of the Holland America Line fleet, Pacific Aria is now under new management with P&O. After reovations, Aria emerged as a hot new thing with an outstanding fresh look and modern vibe. In fact, the stylish decor that adorns Aria is so distinct from that of sister ships Pacific Pearl, Jewel and Dawn that it’s hardly recognisable as a P&O ship. Other great changes include a better dining experience; different bars, each of which with its own cool ambience and personality; and the live music found throughout the ship, which plays an eclectic array of genres. TThe dress code is casual from day until night, in true Aussie fashion, and there are no formal nights aboard, although guests are encouraged to dress up on cocktail nights and for the themed parties (such as 1920s fashion Gatsby Night, or the all-white Bianco party).

Accommodation

Aria’s cabins weren’t included in the 2015 renovations, although all bed linens and towels were replaced and rooms were equipped with Australian power outlets. A consequence is that compared to the spiffy public areas, the cabins look a bit dated, but one difference of Aria and its sibling Eden is that their cabins are larger than the standard cruise size. Spaciousness, room amenities, bed configurations, bathroom facilities, and more vary among the six main categories of accommodations on Pacific Aria, namely: inside, balcony, oceanview, mini-suite, suite, and penthouse. Every cabin is equipped with personally controlled air-conditioning and flatscreen TVs, along with the usual fare of room amenities. More luxuries await those in the lovely suite categories. The best accommodation available on board is the lone Aria Penthouse on deck 10. Spanning 1,273 square feet, it has a second bathroom with a spa bath, a walk-in wardrobe, dining room, and more.

Food

The main dining room is the Waterfront restaurant on deck 7, which has an a la carte menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The selection for breakfast consists of two sections, nine sweet and 12 savory dishes, with original food not usually seen on cruise ships, such as grilled coconut bread with mascarpone cheese or poached eggs topped with lemon yoghurt. Lunch and dinner share one menu, comprised of seven starters, four mains, nine sides, five desserts, and a share platter. It has contemporary and varied selections to cater to different tastes. The Pantry replaces the traditional buffet, with an array of various international cuisines. The Dragon Lady combines specialties from Thailand, Singapore, Japan, India and Singapore in wonderful banquet-style dishes in a mellow, intimate room, while the Italian restaurant Angelo’s gives dinner a more elegant and formal vibe. Other dining choices on board include P&O favorites such as Salt Grill by celebrity chef Luke Mangan, Chef’s Table, and the Blue Grill. Room service is available 24 hours a day.

Activities

The Elemis at Sea spa has a wide selection of treatments, such as facials which make use of the brand’s famous products, and an extensive list of massages. Beauty treatments include mani-pedis, brow tinting and shaping, lash enhancements, waxing, hairdressing and more. There is also a thermal suite equipped with five heated benches, aromatic steams, and powerful monsoon showers. The gym is outfitted with several fitness machines, facing floor-to-ceiling windows so cruisers get to enjoy the beautiful sea view as they exercise. There are different classes like aerobics, indoor cycling, yoga and Pilates offered in the gym, with some for free and some for-fee.

Families

Despite the flashy new look, Pacific Aria is still aimed at families, especially kids, with facilities like a kids’ and teens’ club, which have scheduled fun activities for specific age groups, free of charge, and led by qualified staff and youth counselors. On deck 12, there are two dedicated kids’ spaces, the Turtle Cove (ages two to six years) and the Shark Shack (seven to 10 years). The youngsters can enjoy story time, games, parties and movies, while older kids have talent shows, dance classes, arts and crafts, and outdoor activities like scavenger hunts. HQ and HQ+ are the two areas where teenagers can chill and enjoy activities like music jam sessions, dress-up parties, video games, and the Broadshorts program, which teaches them how to make their own animation movie. After-hours babysitting is available for kids aged 10 and below.

Verdict

The ship’s modern makeover has made it perfect for families, but it also attracts a great mix of party animals and peace-seekers, young and old. Although not a hardcore party ship, Aria has a significant focus on fun.

– Cruise Passenger 

“With a few improvements, Aria has potential to be one of the best ships in Australia.”

– Cruise Critic 

n/a

– Berlitz

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