Launched: Originally in 1988 as the Sitmar Fair Majesty, then sailed under various names including Star Princess, MV Arcadia and Ocean Village. She was finally was relaunched as Pacific Pearl in December 2010.
Cruising speed: 21.5 knots
Number of passengers: 1,817 at double occupancy
Staterooms: 773, including 28 with verandas and 36 suits with verandas
Where she cruises: Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific
Pacific Pearl is the latest liner to join P&O Cruises’ Australian based fleet. Launched in New Zealand in December 2010, she has been redesigned specifically for the Australian mass market. She has continued a number of innovations introduced by her sisters, Pacific Dawn and Jewel, but introduces a few of her own such as the swim-up bar and Chef’s Table dining experience.
Who Should Go?
Families, young people, and anyone looking for an affordable vacation.
Things You Might Not Know
Pearl‘s godmother is the New Zealand triple Olympic medal winner, Barbara Kendall. The ship has 120 chefs, cooks and bakers, and she has P&O Cruises’ largest teen centre at sea with two teen clubs. This is also the first P&O ship which has specifically commissioned artwork for the entire vessel.
Of Pearl‘s 773 staterooms, only 64, 28 outside and 36 suites, have private verandas. The rest are made up of 176 standard inside staterooms, and 533 standard outside staterooms with portholes or picture windows.
With the exception of the suites, which were totally overhauled in its major pre-launch makeover and boast a stylish, contemporary design, the rest bear many original features including a lot of dark wood panelling and small bathrooms. Only soft furnishings being updated such as carpets, curtains and some furniture.
The staterooms do have new flat screen TVs, with a few TV channels and two movie channels, and bedding has been upgraded. Other features include a hand held hairdryer, fridge and safe. The electrical sockets are also Australian. Although the ship’s wi-fi is only meant to work in public rooms, some staterooms near them also pick up a signal.
Facilities and Entertainment
Pearl is designed for family fun and a lot of the multi-million-dollar makeover has been focussed on facilities including the new Aqua HealthSpaFitness Centre, bars and dining venues. The atrium was over made over converting it in to a multipurpose cafe, bar and retail venue, and the ship has an impressive two-level entertainment venue, The Marquee.
Outside there are two small pools on deck, one for adults only featuring the swim-up bar. The ship also has the circus attraction first introduced by Pearl‘s sister, Jewel, and several outdoor bars. Unlike her sister ships, the spa has been left on deck two as per its original venue, but it was rebuilt from the ground up. It has 10 treatment rooms including a couples’ room with its own whirlpool and steam-sauna.
Facilities for kids range from toddlers to teens, across four clubs, and Pearl also has the popular adults-only venue, the Oasis, where you can seek some peace and quiet for a small fee. Of the many bars, the Dome is a popular spot during the day and transforms into a nightclub after dark, and the Mix Bar is an elegant venue for pre or after dinner cocktails.
There are seven dining options including three restaurants. Waterfront is the primary venue for dinner, where you can make reservations nightly, and it’s an elegant, contemporary venue with lilac curtains, red and blue leather accented chairs, and dark wood petitions creating quiet nooks and crannies. Plantation is the casual option offering buffet style food from breakfast to dinner, and on deck there’s also The Grill for al-fresco casual lunches.
Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill is also a feature of Pearl, following the same theme and menu as her sister ships, and attracting a surcharge of $30 a head for lunch and $40 a head for dinner. Reservations are highly recommended as this venue gets booked out easily. A new addition to the dining scene on Pearl is the Chef’s Table, and will be offered up to three times on every cruise for only 14 guests. Set in the elegant Wine Room, tucked away in the middle of Waterfront restaurant, it features a seven-course degustation menu paired with fine Australian wines. This attracts a surcharge of $75 a head.
The Low Down
This is an affordable ship for younger couples and families who want to explore our own backyard or the South Pacific cruising, offering a wide range of accommodation types, and plenty of activities to keep new cruisers from getting bored.