I’ve been interning with Cruise Passenger for a couple of months now. In that time I’ve read (and written) about a lot of cruise ships. Everything from Carnival to Cunard, P&O to Princess, but something still felt like it was missing. I’d never actually been on a cruise ship.

In fact, I’d never even seen one. So you can imagine my excitement when I got the chance to hop aboard P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn to explore the ship’s newest upgrades and catch a groundbreaking show from Grayboy Entertainment.

When the taxi pulled up to Brisbane’s Portside Wharf I finally understood why everybody said I wouldn’t believe how big it was. I’d heard it all before: Pacific Dawn is equivalent to three-and-a-half A380 super jumbos lined up in a row; Pacific Dawn has a ratio of 36 tons of space per passenger; Pacific Dawn can carry as many people as five fully-laden A380 super jumbos. But words are wind and nothing compares to seeing this behemoth with your own eyes.

After making my way through customs I was given a quick tour of the ship to see the latest upgrades. Parents can now cruise with more peace of mind than ever, thanks to (a first for P&O Cruises fleet) the introduction of interconnecting cabins. The ship’s fifty suites and mini-suites have also been treated to new furnishings and carpets, along with works from Sydney photographer Tony Rae. Those with a sweet tooth will love the addition of a New Zealand Natural ice cream bar on the top deck, while serious foodies will adore the transformation of the ship’s main eatery into the Waterfront restaurant. Pacific Dawn finally catches up to sister ships Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl with a giant LED Big Screen taking pride of place on deck 12 (so passengers can catch a new release movie while soaking in the Lido pool).

The list of refurbishments goes on: many of the ship’s venues received revamps, including the Show Lounge, the Pan-Asian restaurant La Luna and the Mix Cocktail Bar.

As I lounged on the ship’s deck chairs, snacked on canapés and relaxed at the bar, I found myself forgetting I was supposed to be at work. A guy could get used to this.

Finally it was time for the real reason I came aboard, to see P&O Cruises and Grayboy Entertainment’s collaborative show “Life As We Know It”.

We took our seats and the lights dimmed. Find out what happened next here.

Words and photos: Matt Baxter