Pacific Jewel has sailed under several different names before was transferred to P&O Cruises and made its debut in Australia in 2009. The seventh ship to cruise under the P&O Australia brand, Pacific Jewel features a lot of local “firsts” including the new ocean-view Aqua Health Spa Fitness, dubbed as Australasia’s largest spa at sea. After a 2015 refurbishment, Jewel became the first of the line’s ships to reveal a new dining concept that offers more choice and flexibility, The Pantry. Daytime dress code is very casual, but after 5:30pm, the line asks guests to wear “smart casual” in public lounges and restaurants. P&O dropped the compulsory gratuity in 2010, so tipping is optional; guests are welcome to reward a crew member if they feel they deserve it.
Among the current P&O fleet, Pacific Jewel has the most balconies: 162 balcony cabins and 36 mini-suites with private balconies. Standard amenities in all cabins include a flat-screen TV, safe, hair dryer and a mini-fridge. Bathrooms have complimentary environmentally friendly toiletries. For $25, guests can request for a bathrobe and slippers. Cabins are categorised into interior, ocean-view, standard balcony, and deluxe balcony. Mini-suites have added perks such as priority embarkation and disembarkation, an invitation to the senior officers’ cocktail party, fresh fruit and bottled water, bathrobes and slippers, an in-room Nespresso coffee machine and an iPod music system.
Pacific Jewel has such a major focus on local ingredients and producers, featuring cheeses from the King Island Dairy in Tasmania and the like. it is also the first of the cruise line’s ships to reveal The Pantry, a new dining concept with eight different outlets to choose from, all included in your fare. Pacific Jewel has said goodbye to the old school buffet-style dining and has brought an upmarket food court onboard. The Pantry includes roast dinners, modern Indian food, salads and sandwiches, fish and chip shop, Asian street food, and a dessert bar. The Pantry is open for breakfast from 6.30am to 10.30am, for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm and dinner from 5.30pm to 9.30pm, daily. Another free dining option is the Waterfront Restaurant, a contemporary dining room operating on a Your Choice Dining basis. The Waterfront Restaurant is open for breakfast from 6.30am to 11am. For lunch, it’s open from 11.30am to 2.30pm and it serves dinner from 5pm to 9pm, daily. At a fee, cruisers can enjoy the several specialty restaurants aboard Pacific Jewel: Chef’s Table, which prepares a seven-course menu paired with matching wines for only 14 people, or Salt Grill by Luke Mangan. Room service is available from 10am to 11pm.
Dubbed as the largest spa at sea, Pacific Jewel’s Aqua HealthSpaFitness encompasses a salon, barber shop, spa area with 11 ocean-view treatment rooms, and a fitness centre with cardio, weight machines, classes and seminars (at a fee). The spa menu has a wide variety of services, from Elemis facials and massages to acupuncture and medi-spa facial treatments such as lip enhancement. Still within Aqua HealthSpaFitness is a Thermal Suite that has aromatherapy showers, sauna and herbal steam room, a meditation room, relaxation pods and a panorama sauna with ocean views. Prices are fixed for a one-day pass, but cruise-long passes may vary by the length of each cruise. Outdoor recreation is centered on deck 12. The main open deck has two pools and two elevated hot tubs. Another industry first for Pacific Jewel is the P&O Edge, the world’s largest adventure park at sea with laser tag, zipline, “Titanic” experience, and a V8 car simulator. Open from 10am until 8pm, the adults-only Oasis Retreat has sun loungers and cabanas.
All of the ships under the P&O Cruises rate highly with families for their wide range of both age-specific and family-friendly activities. Twelve months is the ship’s minimum age to cruise. Kids’ clubs are on a first-come, first-served basis and parents need to register their children for participation. For ages two to six years, Turtle Cove offers movies, scavenger hunts, talent shows and a LEGO wall. At Shark Shack, seven- to 10-year-olds can play with gaming consoles and iPads. Teenagers can play with technology such as Stop Motion Pro Filmmaking, or enjoy the company of friends at themed parties all held at HQ. Group babysitting is available from 10.30pm to 1am at a small additional cost.
A variety of dining, including The Pantry, which replaces the buffet, kids’ clubs and an enormous spa – there is something to make everyone happy. Ideal for multi-generational families and groups.
– Cruise Passenger
“Lots of families, some spanning three generations, create a very relaxed, happy vibe.”
– Cruise Critic