Review: P&O’s Pacific Eden
Short cruises seem to have ignited our desire to travel in and out of Sydney recently. The three night sampler cruises are really fun and a delightful time to be out at sea. Just imagine yourself sailing on a floating paradise with nothing to worry about at all, just sit back and relax.
Our recent break on board the Pacific Eden was quiet a remarkable one. She is an older cruise liner built in 1993, now belonging to the fleet of P&O. She had a mammoth make over in 2015, the dry-dock treatments have worked wonders, and she looks very refreshed.
As we embarked, we were welcomed by the crew, and immediately captivated by the lavish decorative feel in the atrium. The deep blue colours accented by gold, made you feel this was a decadent place to be, and what could be expected throughout the ship. The lifts operate both at the forward and aft of the vessel and decks are easily accessible by stairwell if you prefer.
We were assigned to Stateroom 10066 on deck 9, a room with a balcony. The room has a king bed, leather lounge, mini fridge, safe, flat screen tv with attached DVD player, wardrobes, hair dyer, 110 and 250 volts sockets, toilet with shower over bath, towels and built in shower pack by Elemis. The lighting was soft, multiple and inviting and the bed was neatly made up. The mattress and pillows were firm which suited us quite well. The air conditioning was weak though, a common complaint from many Eden Cruisers, in fairness it was one the hottest weekends on record, but still it hardly gave flow, more a whiff of occasional cool air. Overall the furnishes were still fresh, with the exception of the wardrobe doors, some hinges were missing and/or broken, leaving doors ajar and wobbly.
Dining On Board:
The Pantry is a dining area on Deck 11 with lots of natural light, fresh fit-outs, artificial greenery and lively colour coordination. Instead of a buffet style, you’ll find here 8 specialty stations offering various roasts, tacos, curries, fish and chips, sandwiches, salad bar, Asian favourites, and a dessert bar that should fill everyone’s fancy. Dining here has a quality food court feel. Our picks were; the roast chicken, the meat was tender, juicy and lots of flavours, a truly finger lickin’ dish. No guilty moments at the Sweet Bar which offered a variety of mouthwatering desserts.
Several other reviews slammed The Pantry, poor food, long queues, no seats, yet we found non of that to that extreme, the food was always fresh, well presented, some cooked to order, and all stations were well executed and spotless, they use a system of closing one station to clean down and prepare for next service and so on, they were scrubbed clean and glass washed. Compared to the buffet style, this was quicker, cleaner and well managed, as some people pick and poke at a buffet that can cause all sorts of issues. Of course there will always be people waiting at some point, after all, you are on a cruise with over a 1000 other guests, not a private charter bobbing away on the harbour!
The main dining area is The Waterfront, stepping inside this Australian inspired restaurant on Deck 7, is just like being in a top hotel, it is elegant, chic and spacious. The menu here is a la carte and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast starts with a choice of juice, followed by a selection of freshly baked bread, coffee then the main dish, we chose the BIG Breakfast from the menu, a generous mix of the traditional favourites, we found the food quality good, and the sausage plump in the style of a good Lincolnshire.
Indulge in Italian fare at Angelo’s on Deck 8. Although this is a specialty restaurant, there is no cover charge but bookings are essential and smart dress code is required. The decor flows effortlessly through clean lines with a modern ambience and pleasing black and white photos and images on the walls. We ordered primi, secondi and dolci e formaggi and our picks were; the Fennel and Spinach Risotto with pork confit, truffle butter and fragrant herbs. It was served warm with creamy consistency and bursting with flavours. The Vanilla Panna Cotta with Nutella sauce and candied hazelnuts was a show stopper. The timing of the dishes from order to table was good, better than some restaurants on land and gave us time to enjoy our wine without feeling rushed. The food was well presented, the portion sizes were quite adequate, taking into account that you can continue to eat at The Pantry later, if you still feel peckish.
While we were waiting for our table at Dragon Lady on Deck 8, another specialty free of charge dining, as with Angelo’s, even though your table has been booked, there can be a wait to be seated, so we made use of the Monkey Bar, cleverly sandwiched between the two restaurants. From the bar where we were seated, we could see the dark timber fixtures and fittings, sophisticated lighting, giving us a preview of what to expect inside this mysterious Far East dining space. Once seated, there was a bit of wait before food service, but the popularity of this place means its always busy, so grab a drink in the mean time and enjoy the surroundings.
The menu comes in an origami form and the offerings were an exotic mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and Indonesian dishes. The Shooter, a concoction of watermelon, lychee, lime and mint was a refreshing and palate cleansing starter. Our picks were; the Soy-Braised Beef short ribs, the meat was so tender and the cabbage ‘kimchi’, bacon and sugar snap peas added harmony to the dish. The Carrot Halva, an Indian favourite, served with coconut mousse, pistachio, passionfruit granita with a hint of ghee was luscious and delicate.
The must-do dining on board the Pacific Eden is Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill on Deck 8. Luckily for us we were able to secure a lunch booking, our luck continued when Luke entered the restaurant to meet and greet the dining guests, something he likes to do when he is on board the ship. The restaurant has warm and inviting vibe, subtle lighting, a touch of European decoration and lovely seating areas. The service was impeccable from start to finish. Our picks were; the beautifully presented Five Spiced Cured Duck with golden beetroot, almond dressing, crisp pancetta and miso mustard broth. The duck was aromatic and tasty, we can discern multiple flavours with every bite. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with Luke’s signature Liquorice Parfait, creamy and rich, the lime syrup cut through making it a well balanced dessert. A selection of wine is available to accompany your meal and the cost to dine here is $49 per head.
Shaken or stirred? Our favourite bar for libations started at The Blue Room, the lavish decoration here is understated yet very smart. It’s quiet during the day but it gets busy and wild at night especially when the band starts to hit some high notes and bar flies start hitting the dance floor. We really liked the beer served by the pint at The Casino Bar on Deck 8, a great selection of tap beers, our choice was the excellent Minimum Chips by the Matilda Bay Brewing Co., it made a nice option to bottles and made you feel you were really having a true bar experience, prices in general were slightly cheaper than what we would call city bars. For a quieter space, The Ocean Bar is the place to be for an intimate catch up and those many cocktails on offer. The late night bar and dancing including a live band is at The Dome on Deck 12 by the pool.
Never a dull moment! There are lots of activities that you can join in during the day, like food and wine tasting, watch a show, shopping, cooking classes, high tea, yoga classes, a visit to the spa and fitness, play sports or simply just laze by the pool. Check the P&O Goodtimes program for additional charges on some of the activities.
Overall we had a great 3 day cruise, the stunning make over made this cruise liner from bow to stern feel luxe with today’s standard of cruising. The only let down was the air condition which was unbearable at times, especially when you are in smart dress code and perspiring at your dining table, or in full Gatsby outfit, that is one thing that really needs to be addressed. Apart from that, the crew balanced it all with their sincere and impeccable service so we can’t offer a complaint about that. If you ask us if we are going to cruise with Pacific Eden again? Our answer is a BIG YES!
Have you cruised with Pacific Eden before? please share your experience by commenting below, thanks.