Sliding back into the Brisbane River in the wee hours of the eighth day was a sombre affair. This amazing holiday that we had had aboard this ship to mark my parents 60th birthdays on behalf of a loved one was coming to close.
We had such a wonderful time aboard our first ocean liner and met so many friendly people, visited so many breathtaking places and did a whole heap of things we’ve never done before in places we’ve ever been before and now it was drawing to a close.
It was sad to say goodbye to a glorious ship that hosted us for the last week and filled us with many awesome new memories, but as if to say “Welcome back, never leave again”, Brisbane put on an epic sunrise that lit up the sky in a spectacular shade of pink, capping off an incredible cruise in a most stunning way.
Pacific Dawn Review
Beautifully refurbished and swimming in opulence, mood and luxury. Each section felt very distinctive, modern and spacious.
Open Areas/ Top Deck
Lots of space for drinking, relaxing and sunbaking with areas in the sun and under the shade being plentiful. The pool was pretty small though but it transforming into a wave pool when it got a bit choppy was an unexpected and delightful surprise. The slide with the music and coloured panels was a nice touch and having the end of it situated on a narrow section of the ship increasing the chances of soaking a passer-by is the kind of sadism I can get behind.
Every night the food at the Waterfront Restaurant was different, which was awesome. I liked that the portions were small for the 3-course meal but as a whole was a satisfying amount, so you’re not stuck with one big meal that might suck. The soups, in particular, were incredible, which is saying something because I generally don’t like soups. The mains were a touch on the bland side, but the desserts were divine.
The Pantry had a great selection of nomables for whichever hour of the day you got peckish (not actually available for all hours). It’s definitely not as decadent as the glamourous Waterfront Restaurant and a little on the dry side, but it’s if its bigger portions you want, it’s bigger portions that you get, whether you ask for it or not. I mean, who doesn’t love generosity but when you’re taste-testing a little of a lot of things, it ends up being a lot.
(Side note: This was when I was vegetarian. I have since become vegan, so the food is no longer suitable for me)
There was a tonne of entertainment although I don’t think there was a lot in the way of activities. There is a gym and a spa if that tickles your fancy, and a few kids sections and a casino, but those weren’t tugging at my heartstrings. The Edge activities were fun but they activities themselves are individually very short and are more skewered towards the kids and teens despite their deceptive advertisements. The zipline was the most fun and satisfying for me and I enjoyed the Bow Ladder Climb and the Pacific Dawn Signage Experience too.
In terms of entertainment, it was fantastic. There was a different stage performance/comedy/classes/talk show every night in the Marquee and a different party each day throughout the ship, some of which were themed. I’m not much of a party person myself, but the main performance shows were luscious and engrossing and the crew talent shows were delightful and uplifting. I love how they put them front and centre and let them let their hair down.
Unlike the public areas, the accommodation did not receive a luxurious makeover and felt very dated, particularly the bathroom. The shower is straight out of a 1970s Better Homes And Gardens Magazine and dear God, that toilet… all the toilets are the worst! To quote me, “Not only does the slurping, sucking sound it makes as its whooshes your bodily functions away induce your gag reflexes from the vivid imagery it creates, it also does suck away the paper half the time either! And it blocks regularly too!” And it’s not just the room that has these, pardon the pun, “shit” toilets, but it’s every toilet on the ship, which means that the vivid imagery it creates isn’t just your own poop getting launched through the pipes with the force of a jet engine, but it’s the poop of everyone else too…
Shitstorm aside, the room was neat, clean, if not all that spacious and the stewards who look after the room are upstanding guys and did a great job with their duties.
The crew was very friendly, helpful and welcoming. I can’t say enough good things about them. They are a top-notch bunch of people and only added positively to the whole cruise experience. There was a small handful of people that were not giving out warm, fuzzy vibes but there was also a handful who went above and beyond to help us and I think those people should get a raise.
Destinations/ Tours/ Activities
The capital of New Caledonia was the most breathtaking of the three destinations. The city is surrounded by gently mountains rising from the ocean, and the views, particularly going up Ouen Toro were so picturesque and lush.
Tchou Tchou Train
The Tchou Tchou Train that took us around was fun, with it being bouncy, on the wrong side of the road and open-aired, did not allow any time to time to appreciate the two stops you had at Roche a la Voila and Ouen Toro were excruciatingly short, which was a real shame. (There are actually three, but we didn’t do the markets as it was a public holiday and they weren’t open).
The tour was also supposed to be 2 hours and meant to have cheese and wine, but it was an hour and a half with none of the latter. Originally, I didn’t want to do the Tchou Tchou Train but instead do the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus which took you to the same parts of town but were a little more linger-friendly, but we opted for the train, which wasn’t all-in-all a bad thing because the people who decided to bus around were standing in the rain for quite some time while we were sitting in a covered train.
Coming into Noumea at 3 pm didn’t give us a lot of time to do a whole heap, which to be honest is a weird schedule for the ship but I think, given the time limitations, the Tchou Tchou train was a good way to see a fair chunk of New Caledonia’s capital city and it was mighty fun to wave to all the friendly locals and have a couple of guys race the train and a bicycle beating our slow asses up the steep hill.
Lifou, Loyalty Island, New Caledonia
Jinek Bay, a short walk from the docking pier is a spectacular underwater experience. It was my first time snorkelling and while the coral is bleached closer to shore, the outer reaches of the reef are absolutely beautiful and teaming with schools of fishes and the otherworldly sensation it gives you is glorious.
Notre Dame de Lourdes
Lue Jajinga (Cave)
That on top of climbing up to Notre Dame De Lourdes and down to a underground swimming hole was such a wonderfully varied way to see such a small part of a gorgeous little island in the middle of the South Pacific.
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s capital is another gorgeous destination. While not as picturesque and mountainous as Noumea, Port Vila shines in its own way.
It hustles and bustles and it’s filled with friendly, welcoming people, although a couple of times, there was a bit of jostling for your custom which is a little uncomfortable for me.
Taking to the seas, the water taxi was a great, inexpensive way to see the city from the bay. Taking to the skies, the short helicopter ride taking off from a floating platoon was a wonderful way to see the stunning crystalline waters and the surrounding islands from an aerial perspective.
Vanuatu Jungle Zipline
The ziplining was a thrilling way to explore the high jungles and the wide open bays while getting the adrenaline pumping and the Zego was a ridiculous amount of fun skimming the water doing donuts and blinding oneself with ocean water to the eyeballs.
All-in-all, the destinations were absolutely incredible. I wish I been able to have had more time at all the destinations, especially Noumea, but of the time that was spent at all the destinations, I had such a wonderfully fun and positive experience.
An all-round amazing trip and one that I would definitely recommend to anyone to try at least once, no matter how long it takes you to do. It’s guaranteed to be an incredible trip.
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