Pacific Eden, one of the newest ships to join the P&O Australia fleet, will be homeported in Singapore in mid-2016 as part of her maiden season.
Built in 1992 as Statendam for Holland America Line, Eden was designed to a high standard. Cabins have an excess of storage, a double bed with side tables, a desk and a sofa. The bathrooms are well laid out.
Welcome P&O additions include the Edge adventure area, Salt Grill by Luke Mangan and New Zealand Natural, which served the best flat-white coffee I’ve had at sea, for $3.50. P&O’s new dining concept, The Pantry is a pleasant space with modern decor and ocean views. It offers casual dining, but lacks the level of choice found in buffets aboard rival ships. Opening times are a bit of an issue, with breakfast being wound up at 11am, leaving a notable gap before lunch was ready. The dinner service on most nights finished by 10pm. This arrangement left some passengers having to resort to paid food outlets such as The Grill. Here, you can have cook-to-order pizzas, burgers and hotdogs. However, a ship-wide beef patty shortage meant there were no beef burgers available.
Waterfront, the ship’s main dining venue, is well-managed and very pleasant. P&O has clearly spent money on this area, as it presents as a new facility with sweeping ocean views, friendly service and good food; albeit with a limited menu. There’s a plethora of bars, with Mix Bar being one of the most popular, serving cocktails, Australian and international beers and wines at reasonable prices. Table service was a bit slow, but friendly. The Marquee show lounge has excellent sound and lighting. On the final night, a full-scale production attracted a packed house and was as good as any I’ve seen aboard rival ships.
The crew, mainly sourced from Pacific Pearl, Jewel and Dawn, are getting used to their new ship. As the voyage progressed, service became more streamlined. The ship’s style and interiors lend themselves to a slightly older cohort than the existing P&O fleet, with a large number of passengers over 50.
Give the crew a few weeks to iron out the glitches and Pacific Eden will be well oiled, offering affordable, fun cruises.
Highs: The size and quality of cabins was excellent, and the bed was extremely comfortable. Friendly cabin stewards, remember you by name. Waterfront Restaurant was very pleasant and the food was of a good quality and very tasty.
Lows: Food shortages. Some advertised items were not available; no beef burgers in The Grill and no pavlova in Waterfront. Teething problems, such as computer glitches delaying embarkation. Slow, unreliable internet.
Best suited to: Families, couples or groups of friends who prefer a smaller ship with lots of entertainment and great pool space.