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What is P&O Cruises Australia?
P&O Cruises' Australian history dates back more than 75 years, but the link with the British P&O Cruises goes back even further. The UK-based company has dabbled in Australian waters since 1857, going on to establish pleasure cruising here in 1932.
Although the cruise line may have notched up a few years Down Under, it hasn't gathered dust, instead evolving over time. Now, P&O Australia is a far more modern affair.
As the cruise industry has grown locally, so has P&O -- and in some ways it has led the changes. The cruise line has expanded both its fleet and its list of destinations. It has also formed a popular short cruise and event-focused program, offering cruises to the Australian Open, the Melbourne Cup and State of Origin footy games, to name a few.
Although P&O Cruises is no longer the only cruising fleet permanently based here, it does boast the largest year-round fleet in Australia.
How many ships does P&O Cruises have in Australia?
There are currently five ships in P&O's Australian fleet, which is in the process of a reshuffle. In March, the cruise line revealed the surprise departure of Pacific Eden, which will join CMV in April 2019. Meanwhile, Princess Cruises' Golden Princess will begin operating under the P&O Australia banner as Pacific Adventure from 2020. The addition of the larger 2,600-passenger vessel is part of P&O's strategy to expand and refresh the line.
Pacific Adventure will then be joined by Grand Class sister ship Star Princess at the end of 2021, taking the fleet to six.
Where do P&O Australia cruise ships leave from?
The cruise line has seven homeports across Australia, Asia and New Zealand -- Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Cairns, Fremantle, Melbourne, Singapore and Sydney.
Where do P&O Australia cruise ships sail to?
The fleet sails to a wide variety of destinations across the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
Are P&O Australia cruise ships very different from each other?
Because all the line's ships hailed from other brands within Carnival Corp, they are all quite different. However, they were refurbished with P&O Australia's signature features and other specifically Australian touches before joining the fleet.
The 2,000-passenger Pacific Explorer, formerly Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess, carries more people than any other current P&O ship. It also has a similar contemporary design to Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. A few differences for Pacific Explorer are a cabaret-style theatre and burlesque show, barefoot bowls and waterslides.
Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, formerly Holland America's Ryndam and Statendam, have classy pool and cabana areas, as well as complimentary specialty dining venues.
Then, there's 2,020-passenger Pacific Dawn, the line's first mega-ship and the first to carry the line's navy and white livery along with its 'Like No Place on Earth' tagline across its stern. It's been updated with the private Chef's Table venue, with the P&O Edge Adventure Park also installed above the Lido deck. In 2017, Pacific Dawn received two waterslides -- a first for P&O in Australia -- as well as an interactive kids-only play area and several other revamped public spaces.
Finally, there's 1,950-passenger Pacific Jewel which features P&O's first Pandora jewellery shop. Jewel was refurbished in 2018 with lawn bowls, a seafood eatery and upgraded decor in the bars.
Culinary choices on all vessels include the main Waterfront dining room, The Pantry with eight or nine outlets in one food court setting, specialty restaurants including the free Angelo's (Italian) and Dragon Lady (Asian), plus Salt Grill by Luke Mangan, which costs extra. Snacks at the poolside grill also come with a price.
Who goes on P&O Australia cruise ships?
Passengers come mostly from Australia and a few from New Zealand. It's a relatively younger crowd than found on some other lines, with an average age of about 45 years old.
The generally easy-going and fun-loving passengers tend to be more budget-focused with value for money more important than luxury.
Although the cruise line is popular across multiple generations, couples and families dominate. It has won accolades for its family-friendly atmosphere with children kept busy by kids' clubs staffed by qualified teachers and childcare workers.
Do I have to dress up on a P&O Australia cruise?
P&O ships do not have formal nights with black tie requirements. Instead, there's usually one or two party nights (check your itinerary), with themes such as the Great Gatsby or the Bianco party, which calls for white clothing.
What are P&O Australia's most popular activities?
There is a wide range of onboard activities which include fitness classes, cooking demonstrations, mixology classes, live bands, dancing, game shows, table tennis, casinos, cabaret shows, karaoke, deck parties, spa treatments, trivia quizzes, in-cabin movies, shuffleboard, bingo, dance classes, themed nights and parties, talent shows, enrichment lectures and port talks.
P&O Edge is an adventure park that uses the ship as its equipment; for example, abseiling across the bow or climbing the funnel (charges apply).
Also popular are short theme cruises with a focus on food and wine or health and fitness, featuring speakers, presentations and special activities.
Is everything free on P&O Australia?
No. All meals at Waterfront Restaurant, The Pantry, Angelo's and Dragon Lady are included in fares. But all other dining options carry a charge. Drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are also not included, but dispensing machines for water, tea and coffee in The Pantry are free. In terms of activities, there are plenty of perks -- from the complimentary kids' clubs and comedy shows to cooking demonstrations and pool games. However, shore excursions and P&O Edge activities, such as zip-lining, are an additional expense.