By Tim Faircloth

P&O’s newest ship, the Pacific Explorer, arrived in Sydney earlier this week.

If you have cruised P&O previously, you’ll feel right at home on the newly updated Pacific Explorer (formerly Dawn Princess.

Imagine a blend of the Pacific Eden, Pacific Aria and Dawn Princess… a contemporary take on an already much loved cruise ship in the Australian market.

The Explorer is on trails and ready to take on her first paying guests shortly.  She’ll be christened by Nickelondeon character Dora the Explorer on Sunday, July 2, along with SpongeBob SquarePants and the Teenages Mutant Ninja Turtles (you can win tickets at

Princess fans, don’t despair, as there are still plenty of your classic favourites (plus exciting new additions on the way). However, the new P&O revitalisation of Dawn may not fit with the typical Princess customer.

Pacific Explorer is a ‘fun ship’, no doubt about that. She will appeal to families, with the familiar Shark Shack and Turtle Cove kids clubs, plus of course the thrilling new water slides and more sedate water park for the little ones.

The revamped pool area also has a sophisticated and relaxed vibe for adults, with all new sun loungers, funky poolside dining options like ‘Lukes’ gourmet hamburger bar and those delicious P&O cocktails flowing from numerous bars.

We noted there was a much more visible presence of poolside waiters happily taking orders – a huge plus, negating the need to line up at the bar.

There is an adults only Oasis, with it’s own plunge pool, and The Sanctuary, another sun lovers secret hideaway on the upper decks.

The interior lounges, bars and restaurants are all basically brand new, funky, fabulous and free flowing spaces that definitely deliver the ‘wow factor’. From the moment you step aboard that wonderful smell of ‘everything new’ hits you.

We dined in the Waterfront restaurant for both dinner and breakfast and the new Pantry for lunch after boarding. The menu, food options / quality and service all seemed to be up to P&O standards, which is a great achievement for new crew on their first ever cruise.
Interestingly all the crew, both hotel and marine departments have come from other P&O ships and not passed on from Princess.

There is no Salt Grill onboard Explorer. However you can still sample Luke Mangan’s delicious cuisine in the ‘Taste of Salt’ section at the Waterfront Restaurant.

The shops onboard are some of the best we’ve seen on a cruise ship. Light, bright and stocked with everything you could think of for a holiday. P&O Home, the new homewares store onboard is a refreshing change and should be a real winner.

The idea is that you can purchase many similar decorative pieces to those that the P&O designers have carefully selected for the ‘uber chic’ public areas on the ship.

Our cabin was a standard Balcony twin on deck 11. This was not renovated from the Dawn Princess, apart from new carpet.
However it was very clean, tidy and comfortable and would be a lovely home away from home for a week or so.

Whether you’re a die hard P&O fan or first time cruiser, we believe that Pacific Explorer will certainly deliver a value-packed cruise holiday. She will no doubt quickly become a new Australian favourite, cruising to all the popular Pacific destinations along with a some exciting new itineraries as well.

Tim Faircloth of

Here are some new Pacific Explorer photos courtesy of ilovecruising’s Tim Faircloth.

With waterslides, special eateries and an incredible family atmosphere, the Pacific Explorer is sure to be a favourite of many cruise fans for years to come.

Keep an eye out for our review of the Pacific Explorer, coming soon!

Want to know more about the Pacific Explorer in the meantime?