Here is the short version of my review. My longer detailed version is below.
If you are a first time cruiser with no expectations and you are looking for an average cruise on an average ship with an average crew the pacific dawn is perfect for you.
However, if you are an experienced cruiser with expectations for anything above the bare minimum I would absolutely avoid this ship and this cruise.
Long version: this was the first time my wife and I had ever cruised with P&O and it will be the last. We paid a little bit more with Holland America but we had a much better experience!
I can't say anything was really TERRIBLE about P&O and the Pacific Dawn but there was nothing above the bare minimum either.
There was rust in our cabin and on the outside of the ship. The ship is 28 years old and it is dated and worn out. Half way through our cruise some of the toilets on the lower decks started to back up and smell really bad. Our bed was nice but the pillows we were given were terrible.
The crew were nice enough and were never rude but most of them never went out of their way to learn our names or give us anything above the bare minimum.
The food was not bad but it was very average. We were not impressed. P&O also charges 5 dollars or more for all the extras (ice cream, hamburgers, hotdogs etc) the only food they don't charge extra for is the food served at breakfast, lunch or dinner
The on board entertainment was not bad but again, it was very average. Their "library" is a mobile book cart and the selection is extremely limited.
The TV in our room wasn't on demand. If you wanted to watch something you had to plan your day so you wouldn't miss the movie.
Now for the positives:
P&O does not charge that daily gratuity fee which is very refreshing. Additionally, not every show or every meal were terrible but overall, both the shows and the meals were just average. They did offer a free kitchen gallery tour which many other cruise lines charge upwards of 50 dollars for. That was neat. Also our room stewards really did a good job taking care of us.
Some of these complaints might seem petty but as experienced cruisers we just expected more and were disappointed. But as the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for".
P. S. Full disclosure, after we disembarked in Singapore P&O claims they are putting the ship in dry dock for 12 days and renovating everything. Unfortunately we weren't on board the ship again to see the results.
There was rust in our cabin bathroom
Brisbane is a great city with lots to see and do
We were not able to get off due to bad weather :(