I was invited On board P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Eden by P&O Cruises Australia to get a taste of what cruising is going to be like in the future, with Australia’s home grown brand.

Wow what can I say, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden which were formally from HAL as Ryndam And Statendam are the new face of Australian cruising. They offer a fresh insight into the NEW modern Australia look that P&O Cruises Australia want to bring to the fastest grown cruising industry in the world.

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Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden are the two modern Australian ships that are the new face of P&O Cruises Australia, this is how they want to market their brand to the Australian cruising industry. When you look at both of these new ships they remind me of the Hotel Sofitel in Melbourne, with its high class finishings and elegant fixtures. The bars and restaurants on both ships have a classy and stylish feel about them. Both new ships from P&O Cruises Australia want to be known as a four star product.

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Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden are not going to be to everyone’s taste, if you want a more up market and classier experience well then these two ships are the right ones for you. If you’re looking for an experience other than that well then P&O Cruises Australia has three other ships for you to choose from in Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl.

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The public areas of both ships have been refurbished and look very stylish, they have been fitted out very well. You certainly know the difference between these two new ships for P&O Cruises Australia, compared to the Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl. The cabins and the dome on both ships remain the same as the way they were with HAL. I have been told that they will not change until the next refurbishments for both of the new ships.

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Now to the most important aspect of the Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. Both of these new ships have their own Pandora shop on board which the lady's are going to love. Pandora certainly provides quality lady's jewellery at an affordable price.

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 Kids Clubs.

On board Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden all the kids clubs are located down the back of the ship [ AFT ]

Both of the new ships limit to how many children they have on board. This is so that there is a higher level of attention for each child involved. Also by doing P&O Cruises Australia hopes to get the children involved more in their prospective groups.


Please note that activities differ to each individual age group. The age groups are split into the following categories :

Turtle Cove (2-6 yrs) Shark Shack (7-10 yrs.) HQ & HQ+ (11-14 & 15-17yrs)

Some of the activities that P&O Cruises Australia have on board are as follows :

iPad activities iPad activities



LEGO zone,   Teen jams music sessions

Arts and crafts, Sports competitions

Movies and cartoons

Talent shows, Scavenger hunts, Theme nights

Jewellery making, Karaoke

Mini Olympics, Air hockey

Sleepyheads Storytime,  Dance classes



P&O Cruises Australia is also promoting what the line says is the "world's largest adventure park at sea,". There are 20 shipboard activities of P&O Edge which include a Segway obstacle course and laser tag on the top deck. They also have a flying fox across the pool area on-board the ships, which is great fun even if you dont like heights !

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Also their ships have been equipped with a cargo net race, slackline bouncing bridge, aft funnel climb, bow ladder climb and bungee tramp these are just some of the attractions on board the ships, there is certainly enough to keep you busy of a day and into the night.

During a media event in Sydney, stuntwoman Janene Carleton, who has doubled for Angelina Jolie in movies, tried out some of the more challenging activities that were on board.

On the P&O Edge website, the cruise line rates the activities on how much of an adrenaline rush they provide. It is also provided in a booklet on board the ship about each of the activities offered. The Flying fox across the top deck gets a 5 star rating. The Titanic moment which is on the ship's bow, while being strapped into a harness, is rated at a 4 star rating.

Prices for the activities range from $20 TO $59 OR with a package with more than one activity there are different options available.

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There are also many other activities that take place around the ship of a day. These can range from a ships tour so you know where everything is once your on board, to snowball jackpot bingo, family touch football, open deck games, Facebook group meet ups and much much more.

This can all be found in your Pacific Daily which can be found in your stateroom every night as you retire to bed, ready for the next exciting day of your cruise.


Both Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden have a fully equipped gym with lots of equipment for all your daily workout needs. You can also sign up for many different programs, such as acupuncture, yoga, boody sculpt, results based training and bootcamp classes.

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Both Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden have a fully equipped Elemis spa at sea. Its where the foocus is to leave the worries of life behind and surrender to the most refreshing gift of all self renewal.

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The Elmis philosophy is : Your skin, your body and your wellness lie at the heart of Elmis. Hands-on Elmis therapists harness the power of nature and science to create ground-breaking formulations that genuinely transform your skin. Personally prescribed. Sublimely sensory. The experience is exceptional, where the results are real.

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The Elmis spa at sea has a whole range of differnt experiances for you to choose from and enjoy. Im quite sure the staff at the spa will look after you, while you are on board and on your cruise of a lifetime.

Oasis Child Free Area.

For the adults there is also the Oasis area where you can sit back and relax in one of the many lounges, you maybe even lucky enough to grab one of the cabanas.

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Its just one of those areas where it feels like paradise. You can have a cocktail in hand and be relaxing watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset over the wake of the ship.

It is trully an experiance.


The Blue Room.

This room has become a favourite of many when they step on board these beautiful ships. This is where LIVE entertainment is shown off at its best. With rich velvet and chrome fittings and there are instruments that have been turned into artwork on the walls, this area will become a favourite area to listen to LIVE music especially for lovers of jazz.

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It really is one special area that needs to be explored on board the ship!

 Ocean Bar.

This is where the real stars come out to play. That's right every guest on board Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden is encouraged to come to the Ocean Bar and meet and mingle amongst its stylish surrounds.


There are also plenty of other bars around the ship, that will keep you entertained with LIVE music, these ships have certainly up the ante in the way of providing quality entertainment in a relaxed and chilled environment.

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 Cellar Door

If you enjoy a decent drop of wine, then Cellar door is going to be a great place on board for you to meet and mingle with fellow guests. Its were everyone can come together and enjoy the best wines from the region of the Hunter Valley.

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P&O Cruises Australia have come together with Glandore Estate wines which produces wines from a wonderful region in Australia. Glanndore Estate have a different approach and style from the traditional varieties known in the Hunter Valley. They are all hands on deck when it comes to hand picking right through to the hand operated basket press, this in turn creates a smaller batch of fruit for production but with a high quality outcome.

 The Shows

In the main show lounge called the Marquee P&O Cruises Australia is ramping up its shows with some new production shows.

P&O Cruises Head of Entertainment Brett Annable said Twice Upon a Time marked a turning point in P&O’s entertainment.


We’re taking a big leap into uncharted territory with Twice Upon a Time. Unlike anything Australian cruise guests will have seen at sea, it’s packed with raw emotion and the musical score and contemporary choreography is so powerful, it takes the audience to another place,” Mr Annable said.

Quoted from Brett Annable P&O Cruises Australia Entertainment Director.

The show is all part of the cruise line’s revamped on-board entertainment program, which also includes a fresh line up of talented Australian musicians performing in on-board venues, and new parties including P&O’s Bianco party and Gatsby cocktail evening.

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In line with the new look and feel of Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria, Twice Upon a Time will only be performed on P&O’s latest ships and plans are currently underway to develop innovative show concepts for the rest of the P&O fleet.

Twice Upon a Time https://youtu.be/96RrteX5gEg joins other recent P&O stage shows which also feature a more contemporary approach.

Including Grammys-style pop concert Off The Charts https://youtu.be/mB-7gn8Mepw and Sideshow Alley https://youtu.be/nTzdaytGscY, a musical about the characters from a travelling sideshow.

The Velvet Rope https://youtu.be/frjIKyTVxpA , thought-provoking production Disconnected and contemporary show Life As We Know It, will also feature in the entertainment line-up ensuring there is something for everyone’s taste.


The cabin categories  are: Inside, Outside, Balcony and Suites.

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All cabins on both Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden have not been refurbished, the cabins are quite comfortable to sleep in. They are quite a decent size from what I have noticed compared to their other three ships, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl.

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All cabins come equipped with their own ensuite, air-conditioning, TV, hair dryer  wardrobe with  plenty of hanging space. There is also a safe in each room.

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Please note that cabins do not come with a fridge apart from balcony's and suites, you can request an ice box to keep medication cool and in your cabin should you need it of a night.

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Dining Options.

WOW where do I first start

The new restaurants on Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden - Angelo’s and Dragon Lady - add an international flavour to P&O’s latest ships.

Originally there was going to be a small fee planned for these new-to-P&O specialty restaurant but it is free of charge.

The new restaurants reflect the cruise line’s celebration of modern Australian cuisine with influences taken from around the world - and classic Italian food is something that never goes out of style with Aussie foodies


Angelo’s is a contemporary dining space with a relaxed vibe that is casual enough to be comfortable but with a touch of sophistication that feels luxurious and indulgent. In line with the rest of the ships, the design was inspired by modern Australia.

While there is a move away from the traditional trattoria style menus, the menu has enough choice to suit everyone’s taste. To some it may seem limited but to others there was enough variety. I found the menu in Angelo’s to be a mix of classic Italian dishes plus there were a few that were quite rustic dishes which I loved.

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Angelo’s has a very modern take that incorporates the latest trends in Italian dining. Traditional favourites like Linguini Pasta Vongole and Eight-hour Veal Ossobucco Gremolata which was quite a rustic dish.

This was offered alongside modern specialities like Sicilian-style Fremantle Sardines using fine Australian produce, as a main on the menu.

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While On Board Pacific Aria I was able to ask a few questions to the President of P&O Cruises Australia Sture Myrmell in relation finding out how they decided to put an Italian restaurant On Board two of their ships.

The below questions were dirctly emailed back to me from P&O Cruises Australia, and here are the responses.

1. How and why was the name chosen for Angelo’s??

Taking its design inspiration from Angelo Frontoni, one of Italy’s best-known photographers, Angelo’s offers a taste of la dolce vita.

2. What made P&O Cruises Australia put an Italian Restaurant on board two of their ships??

The new restaurants on Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden - Angelo’s and Dragon Lady - add an international flavour to P&O’s latest ships.

3. What does Angelo's Italian Restaurant signify to P&O Cruises Australia and to their guests on board??

The new restaurants reflect the cruise line’s celebration of modern Australian cuisine with influences taken from around the world - and classic Italian food is something that never goes out of style with Aussie foodies.

4. How far does P&O Cruises Australia want to go when delivering an authentic Italian experience?? And how do P&O Cruises go about delivering this??

A move away from the traditional trattoria style menus, the menu is a mix of classic Italian dishes with a very modern take that incorporates the latest trends in Italian dining. Traditional favourites like Linguini Pasta Vongole and Eight-hour Veal Ossobucco Gremolata are offered alongside modern specialities like Sicilian-style Fremantle Sardines using fine Australian produce.

5. With Angelo's the way that it at the moment how does P&O Cruises classify the décor, ambiance and menu in the restaurant??

Angelo’s is a contemporary dining space with a relaxed vibe that is casual enough to be comfortable but with a touch of sophistication that feels luxurious and indulgent. In line with the rest of the ships, the design was inspired by modern Australia.

 Dragon Lady

Immerse yourself in the intoxicating flavours of Asia at the brand new restaurant, Dragon Lady. From steaming baskets of dumplings to sizzling plates of spicy stir-fry, Dragon Lady is bringing the heat.

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With a sultry mix of dark timbers and midnight blue tones, it boasts an intimate and mysterious setting. Be seduced by the exotic scents and spices of a menu inspired by Australians’ passion for Asian cuisine.

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Bursting with flavour, every mouthful promises a tantalising night in the Orient. Open every night for dinner, featuring a fixed menu giving guests the opportunity to enjoy a sensual feast of Chinese, Thai, Indian or Japanese. Only available on-board Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden.

I have taken this piece of information from P&O Cruises Australia website as I did not eat at Dragon Lady.

 Salt Grill by Luke Mangan

Salt Grill derived out of a chance meeting between Luke Mangan who is famous for one Australia's leading restaurants and then Senior vice president of P&O Cruises Australia Sture Myrmell. This stunning restaurant that is now on all five P&O Cruises Australia ships has become a much loved and talked about dining experiance.

Created by celebrity chef Luke Mangan, His signature restaurant is open for dinner every evening at a cost of $49pp and on select sea days for lunch $39pp and high tea $20pp.

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From the Tapas menu which has garlic and herb flat bread, bruschetta or the grilled arrow squid. To Oysters which can be done three ways at a surcharge of $2.00 AUD, there are certainly plenty of options on the menu. Then there are the meats from the grill, and for my personal choice the scotch fillet- bone in is always a winner. There is also for those who choose not to have red meat options on the menu, such as the Barramundi, snapper or the lobster tails which come out beautifully presented on the plate. 

Then comes that time for desert, well what can I say with six deserts to choose from the floating island with fresh berrys and fruit to the famous liquorice parfait which is Lukes signature desert. Maybe you could alsways choose the decadent strawberry cheescake or tiramisu. Which ever way you decide to choose you'll be in for one unforgettable evening !

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Reservations are a MUST, as soon as you are on board my advice is to make a reservation at the restaurant or you will miss out!

The Grill

Prices are from $3: Located on the pool deck and caters for when you don't want to change out of your swimwear. It also caters to those who do not want to go to The Pantry, or during the times when other dining venues are closed or if you just want to have a relaxed and casual evening on the pool deck. Their is also a breakfast menu avalible such as a bacon and egg roll cost $3 and chorizo and egg wrap cost $3 as seen in the below picture of the menu.  Burgers pulled pork and beef are available, wraps, pies with mash and peas, chips, hot dogs cost $3 each; pizza costs $9. Prawns in a bucket cost $15 ideal for those who sit by the pool.

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To be perfectly honest this venue is for the people who just want to spend a lazy day, afternoon or evening by the pool relaxing and enjoying the calm surrounds on the pool deck. Its a great way to capture the mood and everything that happening on board the ship.

 The Pantry

Dig in to dishes inspired by the world’s most exotic places.

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There are eight separate areas in The Pantry which also have their own feature walls. The Pantry is located down AFT on Pacific Aria, Pacific Eden and Pacific Jewel. The Pantry offers a variety of different food outlet options, these are as follows :  Mexicana (tacos), Hook's (fish and chips), Curry House (Indian), Stix (Asian), Fat Cow (for meat lovers), Kettle & Bun (sandwiches, soups and salads), McGregor's Garden (salad bar) and Sugar Bar (desserts).

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For me with The Pantry there is lots of seating and there is plenty of space to find somewhere to sit down and eat. The Pantry has a  modern look and feel to it, which is great. If you had a disability or had mobility issues you may find that you have a few issues, nothing that can’t be overcome. I find with The Pantry that many of the ques have gone, and the food seems to be much better than the old buffet.

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The food in The Pantry does come out hot in my opinion but it can be repetitive, that’s the only issue I have with it.

Waterfront Restaurant

With over 40 different menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Waterfront Restaurant which is based on a modern Australia serves up a sophisticated selection of both classic dishes and cutting edge cuisine.

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There is even something to keep the kids happy with their mini menu. The Waterfront Restaurant offers a huge choice of menu options that are both healthy, and full of flavour to keep everyone happy. The kids specials menu changes daily, so even those who find it hard to make up their mind on what to eat will find something they’ll love.

It also should be noted that for those who have different diatary requirements should approach the Matra'D so that they can talk about what their requirements are. This information then will be passed on to the Head Chef who then will be able to cater to your needs for breakfast, lunch and dinner or what ever you require.

The Waterfront restaurant is available on all P&O ships and is open for breakfast and dinner every day and lunch most days.

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Apart from the above there is also New Zealand natural Ice-cream where you will have to pay for your ice creams, and shakes, but there many options and varieties to choose from.  Then their is room service where there is a fee after 11pm of a night, it still offers an array of different choices to choose from.

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In a closing note:

Yes there has been some issues with the new ships, and there have also been a lot of complaints by passengers that were on the maiden cruise of Pacific Eden from Fremantle and the maiden cruise for Pacific Aria from Sydney for the 5 ship celebration, which I was on.

So now let’s address the issues one by one:

1. The late boarding time of Pacific Aria for the 5 ship celebration.

The fact is they had travel agents on board Pacific Aria the night before which was a shakedown cruise. Many of the travel agents didn’t depart the ship until late plus P&O Cruises Australia had to get the ship ready for the 5 ship celebration. They also had many new staff that joined the ship in Sydney.

2. Issues such as slow service around the ship on both Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden.

New staff that was trained and picked from the three other P&O Cruises Australia ships had been placed on both the Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden.

Then there was the issue of Pacific Eden being under staffed until she got to Sydney, yes this is correct and a mistake made by P&O Cruises Australia, hence there was more staff brought on in Sydney.

There had also been new staff that had not been on a ship and some that needed more training, this combined with not knowing the layout and getting use to different working conditions was an issue. This meant that these two ships were going to have teething issues in relation to staff on board. " Fact "

3. The Galley Issues on both Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden., with waiting for food and then food coming out cold.

With the three ships in Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl these ships have their own separate galleys for Salt grill and La Luna which are the specialty restaurants.

Unfortunately with Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden because they were HAL ships before joining the P&O Cruises Australia fleet they only have ONE galley to service all the restaurants on board these ships.

It was known that HAL were used to operating one galley for all there restaurants on board as both ships catered to less passengers and a different clientele.

In the end the fact is when I spoke to the head chef on the morning of 27th of November after arriving into Brisbane on Pacific Aria’s maiden cruise, I was advised that they do realise the need for more staff in the galley.

This was being addressed and that once the issue with pulling staff from the other P&O Cruises Australia ships along with putting more staff in the galley and training more staff for the galley that the issues would be solved.

4. Issues in regards to the backing up of Toilets in cabins.

There is always going to be the case of issues with toilets on board a cruise ship, especially when the ships have been refurbished or if the ship is new.

It does not take much for a toilet on a cruise ship to get blocked, the case with Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden was that people were putting things down the toilet that they should not.

I think the cruise lines such as P&O Cruises Australia need to educate people in what can and cannot be put down a toilet. While this may seem funny to some there are lots of first time cruisers out there and even some seasoned veterans of cruising still need to be educated in a way.

5. The Issue with no fridge’s being in cabins apart from balconies and suites.

P&O Cruises Australia did not take the fridges out of the cabins as has been suggested by some people. There were NO fridges in cabins apart from balcony's and the suites when P&O Cruises Australia acquired the ships from Holland America Line.

I have been told that you can ask for an ice box if you require keeping medication cool, and available so it’s handy if you need it of a night.

My closing thought on both of these two new ships is that they offer an alternative to what Australians had cruised on in the past. Both Pacific Aria And Pacific Eden are the new face of Australian cruising, they will turn heads where ever they go !

When I was walking around the ship and taking notice of what was going on each guest was certainly enjoying themselves and the mood on board these ships seems to a more relaxed feel. On the formal night with the Gatsby Party the ship was a buzz with excitement something that I've never seen before. I think it was just the anticipation of what the night was about to bring.

That said the interiors are simply stunning and the food is to die for ! P&O Cruises Australia have gone out of their way to provide Australians with great entertainment and to be more up market which a lot of guests will appreciate.

Australians will take to these ships like a duck to water, it adds another piece of history having two beautiful ships like Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in the expanded P&O Cruises Australia fleet.


This review of Pacific Aria And Pacific Eden was written by: Brian Gaskin of Cruise The Seas Travel And Media.

Photos credit: Brian Gaskin Of Cruise The Seas Travel And Media.