Last week, I was given the opportunity to undertake a ship inspection aboard P&O’s Pacific Aria and partake in a fabulous Luke Mangan ‘Salt Grill‘ lunch. Lucky me! It was a fantastic day and terrific to check out such a lovely ship.
Pacific Aria carries 1500 passenger guests, so is a little different to the huge super liners that I’ve seen in recent times and I have to say that it was very refreshing. The ship was a great size with ample facilities, modernly decorated, clean and fresh.
There are nine guest decks, a range of accommodation options (all very affordable and great value) including Interior, Ocean view and Balcony cabins, Suites and luxurious Penthouses. The shop also boasts sixteen dining experiences, a cinema, pools and a world class spa. And I’m not even scratching the surface of what is actually on offer.
Let’s talk about the dining options, as food always plays a major part of any cruise holiday (no matter what anyone says!). The Pantry is the newer version of the traditional buffet, and has market stall areas offering all types of cuisine, including Mexican, Indian, Asian, salads and desserts. The tables and chairs are also layed out in sections so you no longer feel as if you are part of a mass market! The Waterfront is the main restaurant, light, modern and airy and a delicious menu.
There are also specialty restaurants such as ‘Angelos’ (Italian) and Dragon Lady (Asian), and these currently have no additional surcharge, so make sure you book ahead. Luke Mangan’s ‘Salt Grill’ is a culinary experience that is something really special – the food is divine and I can honestly say that I enjoyed the best cheese platter that I have ever tasted (still raving about it a week later, and I’ve eaten a few cheese platters in my time!). There is a small surcharge for this restaurant, but it is worth every cent! The Chef’s Table is also an exclusive dining experience that caters for a maximum of 14 people.
There are also bars galore, something for everyone from classical piano bar style to The Dome nightclub. With so many bars and lounges to choose from, each night is a case of ‘The world is your oyster’ as there are cocktail bars and lounge bars offering music for all tastes too, jazz, blues, funk, rock etc. whatever you wish to take in and enjoy. Drinks are reasonably priced which is also a bonus.
Pacific Aria is home to two pool deck areas which are lovely, featuring sun lounges, day beds, hanging chairs and luxurious surroundings. One of the pool areas has a retractable roof so lying by the pool or enjoying the pool deck space is always an option, no matter what the weather.
The entertainment and activities list is also endless. In addition to the pools, there is a fully equipped gym, magnificent spa and a range of activities for those keen to work on their health and well being. There are nightly show productions, live music, a cinema and a casino. Check out the shops (there is a Pandora shop onboard ladies!) and enjoy an ice-cream at the New Zealand Natural Ice Cream bar.
There are also dedicated conference facilities onboard so the Aria is a perfect venue for groups or a small conference event. They can comfortably cater for groups of up to 200, so an ideal venue for a conference get together… and nearly everything is covered in your cruise price, so an economical way to handle groups and events too.
There are also amazing Kids Clubs onboard – Turtle Cove for kids aged 2 to 6, Shark Shack for kids aged 7 to 10 and HQ for the tweens and teens (split into two areas so activities are relevant to the appropriate age group).
If you wish to participate in activities there are lots of things to keep you occupied, cooking demonstrations, exercise classes, craft activities, pool games etc. Or just laze around, read a book and relax, it’s your choice.
Cruising is a fantastic holiday for all ages and the Pacific Aria is a fantastic ship to experience. With regular cruises departing from Brisbane, you can head off to the South Pacific, the Great Barrier Reef, New Guinea, Hamilton Island or the Hunter Valley. P&O also run a number of Comedy and Food & Wine short cruises, so the Pacific Aria is perfect for a long weekend or a quick getaway.
Check it out today, you won’t be disappointed and I can’t wait to book my short cruise away… I need to go back for more!