With its fashionable bars hosting hip bands, contemporary decor, and swanky pool decks, Pacific Aria has the razzle dazzle of a much younger -- and more expensive -- ship. As the smallest vessel in the P&O Cruises' fleet, Pacific Aria has a convivial onboard vibe that suits the predominantly Australian and New Zealand clientele. With no waterslides and an attractive adults-only pool area, it's a good choice for couples who would prefer to avoid the pitter-patter of little feet on this family-friendly line.
Decor is light, bright and funky, but this doesn't necessarily mean you'll be cruising with a young crowd. Pacific Aria is popular with cruisers of all ages and the ship caters for this well, with entertainment ranging from a piano man in The Mix Bar to a soulful guitar duo in the Ocean Bar and pumping R&B band in the sultry Blue Room. Dining options also offer plenty of choice; particularly for those travelling on a budget.
The upscale Angelo's (Italian) and moody Dragon Lady (Asian) are fee-free with some of the ship's best service and food in a luxurious setting. Waterfront main dining room offers a compact yet appealing menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Pantry is reminiscent of a food court but offers better hygiene and less waste, with a good range of cuisines. P&O Cruises' favourite Salt Grill costs extra but is well worth it.
Pacific Aria is not a new ship, so don't expect a five-star experience in every category. It is hard to escape the reality that the cabins were designed in 1994 and have not been refurbished since the ship sailed as Holland America's Ryndam. However, with so much fun to be had, you're unlikely to spend much time in there anyway.
P&O Cruises has been targeting families for the past decade and this ship appeals to parents in their 20s to 40s, as well as groups of friends and first-timers who may be put off by the trappings of traditional cruising. Pacific Aria is upbeat, lively, and playful with a sophisticated sense of fun and offers excellent value for passengers whose love of cruising is larger than their budget.
For more details about cabins, dining and things to do, see the separate sections of this review.”
P&O attracts all sorts: from party animals to peace-seekers, divorcees to retirees, couples with kids, couples without kids, and groups of friends in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. While the line's wild days are in the past, the focus remains firmly on fun, so passengers are still looking to have a good time, whether it's by the pool, dancing in the Dome or critiquing the restaurants. During school holidays, the balance tips to families with children, although many of them are hidden away in the kids' clubs and teen clubs. P&O cruises are not marketed overseas, so the overwhelmingly predominant nationality is Australian, or at least Australian residents, followed by New Zealanders.
Daytime: Casual, with shorts and tees inside the ship and bathing suits and cover-ups on the pool deck.
Evening: Mostly casual except on 'cocktail' nights when men wear long pants and collared shirts and women are expected to dress up a bit. Note that suits, sport jackets and gowns are not required. The 'cocktail' dress standard is a suggestion rather than compulsory and not enforced.
P&O Cruises always include at least one themed party such as Bianco, where everyone wears white, or the Gatsby night, when it's time to go back to the 1920s' fashions. Dressing up for these parties isn't compulsory, but it's part of the fun to get involved.
Not permitted: Swimwear is only allowed on the open deck and around the pool areas.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: P&O Cruises.
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