Departing Sydney’s Circular Quay on a big ship is a huge buzz – even though it was a cold, grey afternoon, people on shore and on ferries waved us goodbye and the sailaway party was underway before Pacific Jewel had even reversed out of her berth. Kids were dancing along with the entertainment team by the pool on Deck 12 and crowds of a very mixed-age group of passengers gathered to chat, drink and gaze at our beautiful harbour as we steamed out to the open ocean.
We have two sea days before we arrive at the Isle of Pines in Noumea. Our cabin on the starboard side of Deck 10 has a balcony, plenty of storage space for two people for five nights (more hangers would be good) and a small but adequate shower. Once we’d got our bearings and checked out the dining options we went for an early dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant on Deck 7. It’s advisable to book a table even though it’s part of the included dining options (Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill and La Luna cost $40 and $20 per head extra and tables must definitely be booked as soon as possible after you get on board). Waterfront is a relaxing space, with soft lighting and subtle decor, and our dinner was beautifully served and very good (apart from rather disappointing dessert and cheese plate) – particularly cruise companion Mary’s beef pie and my baby prawns. Servings are a good (small) size, although I did hear from a passenger that some people eat at the Waterfront early in the evening then go up to the Plantation buffet to top up later! And having just been to a lecture about improving your metabolism I really don’t think that is advisable …
And talking about food, during Captain Lorenzo Paoletti’s introduction to the officers he mentioned that 13 tons of food are consumed every day on board; 9,000 meals prepared and cooked every day, by 150 galley crew under the command of French executive chef Patrice Mick; and that on this cruise there are 1,732 passengers on board, so we’re pretty near capacity.
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