Pacific Dawn – Ship Review
Launched: Originally 1991 as the Regal Princess, and was relaunched as Pacific Dawn for P&O Australia in 2007. She has called Brisbane home since 2009.
Cruising speed: 22.5 knots.
Number of passengers: 2,050 at double occupancy.
Staterooms: 795, 134 of which have private balconies, and there are 10 wheelchair accessible rooms.
Where she cruises: Australia/New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Pacific Dawn is Brisbane’s first superliner, and although she was one of the smallest in the Princess fleet, she is the largest in P&O’s. She is arguably one of the most spacious ships to cruise Australia year-round, and was designed by the world-renowned Italian architect, Renzo Piano.
Who Should Go?
Families and anyone looking for an affordable vacation.
Things You Might Not Know
Dawn was originally christened the Regal Princess by the former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1991, then renamed by the Olympic gold medallist, Cathy Freeman, in Sydney in 2007, marking P&O’s 75th anniversary in Australia.
Dawn has a wide variety of accommodation options, although not many with balconies, and most come with standard facilities including twin beds that can convert to a queen, flat screen televisions, a bathroom, fridge and a safe. Its 171 standard inside staterooms can have from two to four berths, and standard outside cabins total 440, accommodating from two-to-four people. Higher up in the ship, on the upper decks, there are 14 suites and 36 mini suites with private balconies which can accommodate from two-to-four people. The decor overall is neutral with blue carpets and furnishings, good use of wood, light coloured walls, and flashes of colour on bedding.
Facilities and Entertainment
This ship comfortably accommodates adults, kids and couples. The two-story lounge is the focal point for entertainment with Broadway-style shows and comedy, and there are regular arts and crafts lessons, trivia competitions, and dancing lessons. For kids, dedicated children’s activities are offered during the day, including scavenger hunts and talent shows, and if you love the great outdoors there are two pools and several whirlpools.
The new Aqua Spa is the place to head for a little pampering, and there is also an adult retreat, Oasis, to escape the bustle. Dawn also has nine bars and lounges, including the elaborate Bengal Bar, The Promenade Bar on deck 7, and a key attraction is the Dome on deck 14, which offers the best views and as well as a venue for live bands, dancing, comedy shows and theme night celebrations.
There are multiple dining options on Dawn, including a new Luke Mangan Salt Grill as of 2010. An intimate venue, Salt serves an eclectic menu of the celebrity chef’s signature dishes including Sydney crab omelet with miso mustard broth and incurs a fee of $30 a head for dinner, $20 for lunch. The primary restaurant is Palm Court, which operates traditional, two seating fixed table dining, and there’s also a casual buffet called Cafe Del Sol. The pizzeria is located on the lido deck and operates for lunch until 4pm, then dinner from 6pm until late. There is also 24-room service.
The Low Down
This is a good ship for short-range and South Pacific cruising, offering basic accommodation and plenty of activities for young and old.