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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


P & O Holidays

m/v Pacific Sun

Rating:Three and a Half Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: P & O Holidays
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1986 / 2004
Length / Tonnage: 733 / 47,262
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 723 / 1,446
Officers / Crew: British & Italian / International
Operating Area: Year Round South Pacific from Sydney
Telephone / Fax: Tel 144 2264 / Fax 144 2266

Review by Christopher Smith, TravelPage.com, Associate Cruise Editor

In the early 1980's, the TROPICALE had hardly made a name for herself when Carnival realized they needed more and larger ships. They contracted with a Swedish shipbuilder, Kockums, to build the largest purpose built cruise ships yet seen. Naturally, bystanders thought Carnival was out of its mind, clucking "you'll never fill them". Well, Carnival filled them, suggesting that somebody over there's got the fun....and a lot of people on land really do like what Carnival does. The three liners Carnival ended up getting are eccentric looking, but they paved the way for the larger FANTASY class liners. With the JUBILEE and her sisters, Carnival gave Joe Farkas virtually free reign to work his decorative magic....and you'll see plenty of his trademark designs in the public rooms. These ships are a pretty good, solid, everyman product. They were very much evolutionary ships...not revolutionary.... so there's very little innovative about them, no matter what Carnival would like you to think. They are at present, with the TROPICALE, the little old ladies of the fleet...though at almost 48,000 each, they aren't really little....they're the fleet Carnival called the "superliners"....and though dwarfed in size by the FANTASY class ships and the CARNIVAL DESTINY, they're still super ships.

The JUBILEE was the first Carnival ship to offer year round sailings from Los Angeles....a market that grew, thanks to the line's popularity....so that Carnival could add the HOLIDAY as their first three and four day ship out of that port.

The CELEBRATION, JUBILEE and HOLIDAY all share pretty much the same dimensions and general arrangement yet each is unique in her own right... endowed with a distinct personality...Here and now I HAVE to tell you that Carnival bashing may let you come away with a heightened sense of self esteem and self worth, a feeling of refinement and sophistication...and you'd be wrong! Hear me now and know what I say....Carnival does a good job...no..for what it is and what it promises to deliver, Carnival does a GREAT job and these ships are nothing short of fabulous...whether or not they are to your taste...Carnival does not suggest their floating cities are temples to refinement, sophistication and elegance... OK, Carnival president Bob Dickinson said it best: "People don't want to vacation with the Queen Mum."...And if the JUBILEE and her sisters do not share direct descent from the QUEEN MARY, that's OK, too...and with so many senior officers having made the jump from the transAtlantic liners of fabled Italian Line to cruising, these Carnival liners have a direct link to that fine tradition of Italian liners like the REX, CRISTOFORO COLOMBO and MICHELANGELO!...Carnival has an enviable record for looking after passenger's safety at sea...and that's nothing to sneeze at.

In 2004 JUBILEE underwent a $35 million refurbishment and was transferred to P&O Holidays in Australia where she is operating as the Pacific Sun.

Public Areas
This ship's Promendade Deck in such a successful configuration that Carnival later copied it for their eight FANTASY class ships.

Not even a simple corridor leading from one room to another was sufficient....this seaview hallway is called Park Lane on the PACIFIC SUN.....it will allow you to meander from the forward Atlantis Lounge...where all out full scale production numbers are staged.... all the way aft to the Terraces in the Grove Lounge...passing all sorts of interesting places to visit in between. Be sure to poke your head into the Oz Dance Club at night....to see the pink and black checkerboard dance floor, and the overhead lighting diffused by giant green leaf like fixtures. The nearby Smuggler's Lounge looks like an old warehouse....complete with steel drums, wood barrels and cotton bales. As you can guess, whimsy plays a big part in the decor on the PACIFIC SUN....it's amusing and harmless fun at sea.

Up top, overlooking one of the two pools, fitness lovers can get a pretty good work out in the gymnasium, then have competent staff relax their sore muscles in the Nautica Spa. There's a reasonable amount of deck space on the PACIFIC SUN....not as generous as on her larger fleetmates of the FANTASY class....but adequate.

Remember that red headed lady on TV ? you know the woman who kept singing about the results of her friends "seeing her now"? That line about "eating fancy food?" I don't think P&O's passengers are eating much "fancy food" and I didn't find it particularly fine food or even memorable...but it was good enough and there was LOTS of it all graciously served up with plenty of smiles, so what more could you want! No, there is no caviar here, but remember, as the late great Temple Fielding once wrote..." let's face it, you aren't paying for it, either!" Think of the vast numbers of mouths fed every day in the time permitted to prepare and serve it, what you paid, and you will surely agree that P&O passengers are generally well fed and passengers aren't going hungry!!

The PACIFIC SUN seats her passengers in two similarly decorated dining rooms...the Burgundy and the Bordeaux.... each seats hundreds of people at one time so expect no intimate dining experiences here....there are even Greek coffee shop style booths for four..and someone on either end will have to move if the one in the middle gets seasick or needs something (nah...it'll never happen!)...don't ask for a table in the smoking section either...there IS no smoking allowed in the dining rooms! And unless you are on your honeymoon or lodged in a suite, forget about a table for two....P&O wants you to mingle and couples who "vant to be alone" tend not to party much...Remember, this is a mass market operation and I find that as much as anything else food service epitomizes the concept...it's efficient, it's organized...watch it closely and you see how very hard the dining room staff works....pat 'em on the back...pad their tips with extra cash...they REALLY work for it...and pity them when they have to interrupt their work to do a little song and a little dance...seems that the food department thinks part of the waitstaff's job is to sing and dance...I thought it was their job to bring food, leaving the stage singing and dancing to others...don't expect leisurely unhurried dining here...that's not what this is about...remember...there are TWO sittings...

Up top is the Outback Bar and Grill which serves breakfast, light lunches and buffet dinners as an alternative to the main dining room... don't ask me if I liked breakfast in the Lido...I don't often eat breakfast anyway...but Lunch...that is another matter entirely...and I LOVE Lunch! You can get burgers or other fried or grilled fare from the serving station/line out by the pool, but I prefer some air conditioning when I eat in the tropics...so it's inside for me...where there are TWO grill stations, a salad/bread bar and a pasta table...none of the food was bad...but I never found it very good and my burgers were usually dried out...but I didn't go hungry...and drinks were always offered by wandering drink servers...

Of course, 24 hour room service....for sandwiches and simpler fare....is available...as well as an open all night pizzeria with six varieties of pies, calzones and caesar salad.

Almost all the cabins on the PACIFIC SUN are identical in size and layout...and at 185 square feet each, they're spacious....if not lovely to look at. You will not be able to tell the difference between them and their counterparts on the newer fleetmates. There is the expected dandy storage space, beds that convert to king...but again, the inboard sleeper will be an obstacle to be surmounted should the outboard snoozer need to move first. The bathroom is a dream....plenty of room to manuever, and a large shower. Each cabin has a TV set and most outside grades come with a large window. Only the least expensive categories one, two and three....and category twelve suites, are a different layout.

The lower categories have bunk beds....otherwise, their fixtures resemble the standard grades. The Veranda Suites, lovated just above and behind the bridge, are well equipped, and situated for maximum privacy and quiet.. The beds in those quarters are near the passageway, and the wall separating me from late night revellers and early morning room stewards was not overly soundproofed. But the storage space was fantastic....as was the private deck.

Since November 2000, PACIFIC SUN has been transferred to P&O Holidays and is now sailing a wide variety of itineraries from Sydney. Cruise lengths range from 9 to 13 days and ports include Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Mystery Island and Loyalty Islands.

Who Goes
As you might expect from her new home port of Sydney, PACIFIC SUN carries mostly Australians and Asians with the time and money for extended itineraries.

In general, a cruise on the PACIFIC SUN provides a good value to a mainly Australian market, many of whom are cruising for the first time. It therefore fills a long empty niche in the Australian cruise sector. By all accounts future bookings are solid, and they deserve to be. Although the ship usually sails at near capacity the ships officers, mainly Italian, and crew, Filipino, are attentive, courteous and helpful. Perhaps our most telling observation is to recount that we did not overhear a single negative comment about the whole cruise, somewhat unusual these days.

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