The weather continued to be cool and rainy so we skipped the visit to Mystery Island and I spent a very enjoyable hour chatting with passengers Ray and Barbara King from Tasmania. Ray has clocked up an unbelievable 148 cruises and he and Barbara were cruising on Pacific Jewel so he could tick the ship off his ‘bucket list’ of P&O ships, having already cruised on Pacific Sky, Sun, Star and Dawn;they’ve just got Pacific Pearl to go now. Ray’s all-time favourite ships are P&O UK’s Aurora and Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess and you can read more about Ray’s cruising life in the December issue of Cruise Passenger magazine. Mary meanwhile had found a partner to play Crib with and later found out that her nephew from London, who is performing in shows on board P&O UK’s Ventura, is a good friend of one of the performers on board Pacific Jewel. Talk about a small world … As I mentioned before, we’d booked a second dinner at Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill as this was to be out last night on the ship. Our new friends from the Wine Room dinner, Sam and Lou, joined us and we were treated to another absolutely standout dinner. The cover charge is $40 a head, but as you couldn’t even have a steak in an upmarket city restaurant for that price, it is incredibly good value. It is an intimate dining space, seating a maximum of 64 guests, the decor and lighting are subtle, and the service is five-star. I won’t repeat the entire menu here, but the highlights for me (don’t forget this list is from two separate dinners!) included the Spanish sardines and garlic toast; chilled chopped prawns; crab omelette with miso mustard broth; tender fillet steak with freshly made horseradish sauce; side dishes of crushed peas and mint sauce, and zucchini, bacon, parmesan and basil; and the grand finale, the most sumptuous cheese plate, perfectly served by two waiters. That and a glass of cab merlot and I was in foodie heaven! It was probably a good thing that we were disembarking the next day at Port Vila because if we indulged in any more fine dining we wouldn’t fit down the gangway.
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