Having spent my childhood holidays camping, skiing and always on solid ground, I was nervous stepping aboard P&O Cruise’s Pacific Jewel. But after four days at sea, I’m officially a cruise convert and ready to book my next trip when the ship arrives in New Zealand this September.
Fiji, Vanuatu and Noumea are just a few of the exotic destinations of the Pacific Jewel cruise that attracts over 1600 passengers of all ages. I was excited to enjoy four days of relaxing on our journey from Sydney up the coast to Moreton Island. But little did I know there was more to this holiday than cocktails and kicking back. From rock climbing to a Segway obstacle course, the Pacific Jewel boasts Australia’s largest adventure park at sea. Even I couldn’t help but give the flying fox a whirl. I mean, it’s not every day you get to zip across a high wire in the middle of the ocean, right?
The running joke on the Pacific Jewel is that you board as passengers and leave as cargo because of the amount of food you’re bound to eat. New to the ship is a huge food court-style service called the Pantry, which replaces the old-school buffet. You can also dine at top-notch restaurants, including my personal favourite, the Salt Grill run by Australian celebrity chef Luke Mangan. I was well and truly stuffed after my visit, where I indulged in a spread of delightful dishes, including Luke’s famous Liquorice Parfait, which was served at Crown Princess Mary of Denmark’s wedding.
3. Aqua spa and gym
Treat yourself to a pedicure or massage experience. Located on the top deck of the Pacific Jewel is the newly revamped spa with breathtaking views of the ocean to soak up while you enjoy your treatments. Or if you’re looking for a way to work off all the food you’re indulging in, visit the gym with its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the sea. My absolute must-do was the morning yoga class. Starting off the day in a warrior pose on the sunny top deck was total bliss.
Parties, bars, theatre shows and movies on the big screen – the ship truly comes alive when darkness falls. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you want a relaxed night with the family or if you want to dance the night away with your girlfriends. As a girl who loves to dress up, the Great Gatsby party was a highlight for me. I spent all afternoon prepping for the big night with dance classes and headband-making workshops. When the ’20s music started to fill the atrium, everyone on board from the young to the old got down for a boogie.
5. Island escape
Fancy a swim with a wobbegong shark or a school of more than a thousand butterfly fish? Then don’t miss snorkelling the shipwrecks of Tangalooma. This sun-soaked island off the coast of Brisbane was where we spent a day of our cruise exploring. As much as I didn’t want to leave the luxurious world of the Pacific Jewel, I couldn’t ignore the long list of exciting activities on offer, with helicopter rides, parasailing and quad bike adventures just a few picks from the menu. While we’ve got some amazing beaches in New Zealand, the snorkelling there was hands-down the best I’ve ever experienced. The thought of swimming with sharks and sea creatures used to give me chills, but surprisingly, I was totally relaxed seeing the wild wobbegong gliding along just one metre beneath me!