Pacific Pearl Day 1: A Pearler of a sailaway

It’s always concerning when you’re about to embark on a cruise and you’re warned that you will be facing three to four metre swells…especially when you’re sailing with a first time cruiser.

Looking at the sunshine in Sydney on embarkation, it was hard to believe the conditions that we were about to face though.

Blue skies and picture perfect conditions welcomed us and the Sailaway Party was in full swing as we headed under the Harbour Bridge.

The “Nutbush” was pumping and the 1,800 passengers or so onboard seemed geared up to make the most of their four-night cruise to Auckland.

Many were returning home, some had organised back-to-back cruises (the Pacific Pearl had just returned from a South Pacific itinerary) and some were venturing to New Zealand for the first time.

I fit into the latter category and had selected this ship in particular because of the swim-up bar. Little did I know that there wasn’t much likelihood of my actually getting to sample it!

The friendly Aussie versus Kiwi rivalry started from the muster drill with Rugby World Cup jokes and more than a couple ‘across the ditch’ references. It was going to be a big night!

Given that my first time cruiser friend thought that the cruise terminal was moving, I might have had a suspicion that she may not feel too well once we hit those reported swells.

“Does the ship move as much as the terminal?”

She just wouldn’t believe it when I told her we were still on land!

My first time cruiser retired to our balcony stateroom before the Sailaway Party to prepare herself for what would be a rocky night whilst I headed straight to Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill to make a reservation before it booked out.

Being such a short cruise, I wanted to ensure that we had the chance to experience what has been dubbed the best restaurant at sea.

For only AUD$30 for lunch and AUD$40 for dinner, passengers can experience a specially created menu by celebrity chef Luke Mangan in an intimate setting with a capacity of 50 people for lunch and 60 people for dinner.

My souvenir P&O hurricane glass in hand I enjoyed a Pina Colada whilst listening to the smooth sounds of DJ Cowboy before checking in on my first time cruiser.

Our balcony stateroom was smaller than expected with limited access to the wardrobe and balcony due to a tad too much furniture for such a small space.

The balcony itself, however, was spacious and would be a refuge for both of us when the swells got too intense. If only I had a view like this every day!

Attempting to unpack my toiletries was an unaccomplishable feat with limited storage space in the bathroom and not even a shelf or soap dish in the shower cubicle! The water pressure on the other hand was fantastic!

Something else that surprised me was that there were no complimentary toiletries provided, a first for this somewhat seasoned cruiser.

Smart casual was the theme of the evening and the Waterfront dining room was our chosen venue for dinner with our waiter, Ericson ensuring that we had everything we needed for our first proper meal onboard.

I chose the curry prawn linguini followed by the ricotta and spinach crepe, whilst my first time cruiser attempted to eat but wasn’t very successful with the rocking of the boat affecting her regardless of the medication taken.

She braved the elements though and we both enjoyed “Transformation” by the incredible Pacific Cirque in the atrium before watching “Please Don’t Stop the Music” featuring the Pacific Entertainers in the Marquee Showroom.

It constantly amazes me how entertainers aboard cruise ships seem to be able to perform in any conditions and these conditions were very rocky!

So much so that the sick bags were lining the bannisters and most passengers seemed to have retired to their cabins for the evening.

It was going to be an interesting first day at sea!

Originally written for e-Travel Blackboard



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