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  • Writer's pictureRob & Mike

Travel Story: Moreton Island Weekend Escape On P&O Cruises Ship, Pacific Explorer

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

P&O Cruises ship Pacific Explorer is the latest addition to the P&O fleet, she was formerly Dawn Princess for Princess Cruises and since we'd sailed on Dawn Princess multiple times we decided to book a P&O Short Break on Pacific Explorer to see what changes P&O had made to the old Dawn Princess. P&O does more year round short cruises from Australia than any other cruise line so if your looking for a good value quick getaway to unwind then a P&O Short Break could be for you.

Day 1: Sydney, New South Wales Australia - Embarkation

After our business class flight with Virgin Australia from the Gold Coast to Sydney we grabbed an Uber to the port, it's worth noting that Carnival Cruises and P&O Cruises use the White Bay Cruise Terminal instead of the Overseas Passenger Terminal at circular quay so public transport is not an option from the airport to the cruise terminal. Upon arrival at the port we headed to the priority check in line for suites where we were quickly checked in and then allowed to board the ship ahead of regular boarding. We headed to suite number 9240 which is located on deck 9 at the stern of the ship, we had previously stayed in this spacious suite twice when it was suite C746 on Princess Cruises. We were surprised to see that the suite was pretty much identical to how it was when it was Dawn Princess so P&O had obviously decided not to refit the accomodation on board, it was however in good condition but just seemed a little dated compared to the newly refitted public areas on board. As the ship departed our stateroom steward brought us a glass of champagne to enjoy as we sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge before we headed to Angelos the ships onboard Italian restaurant.

Day 2: Sea Day

We started our second day with breakfast on our balcony followed by a couples massage at the ships on board Elemis Day Spa, the spa staff were friendly and the massages were excellent however one issue we had with the Elemis day spa is the how heavily the massage therapists push you to buy their spa products to take home with you after your massage is complete it takes away from an otherwise great spa experience. In the afternoon we grabbed a book and headed up to the Oasis Bar on the top of the ship which is the ships adults only area where we got some sun and enjoyed a strawberry daiquiri or two before headed back to our suite for sunset drinks. In the evening we dressed up for the Gatsby themed evening and headed to 400 Gradi which is the ships on board pizzeria, we had been to this restaurant when it was the pizzeria on Dawn Princess and were pleased with the high end service and amazing pizza, it is definitely an upgrade compared to what it was like when it was Dawn Princess and is by far our favourite restaurant on board.

Day 3: Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia - Kayaking

This morning the ship anchored off Moreton Island in beautiful Moreton Bay Queensland where we had pre booked a kayaking tour of the Tangalooma wrecks through the ship. After tendering ashore we met out guide who helped us load our glass bottom kayaks on the boat and then we headed off to see the wrecks, the 15 wrecks were scuttled between the 1960's & 1980's to create a man made reef ecosystem which is now flourishing with coral and tropical fish. It was amazing to see all of the sea life through our glass bottom kayaks, we even had a few fish come up to the bottom of the kayaks and stare back at us. After our tour we headed to the beach at Tangalooma Island Resort to get some sun and relax with a cocktail served in a coconut before we had to tender back to the ship, we were lucky enough to see the migrating whales leaping out of the water while we were sitting on the beach. Back on board we headed to dinner at Dragon Lady the ships on board asian restaurant followed by a nightcap at The Bonded Store cocktail bar.

Day 4: Sea Day

On our last day on board we spent the day exploring the ship and settled down in the explorer hotel with a book and a couple of craft beers. In the afternoon we grabbed a couple of cocktails and headed back to our balcony to enjoy the afternoon sun before watching our last sunset on board. In the evening we dressed up for the white party and headed to the Shell & Bones restaurant for dinner which is the ships seafood & grill restaurant before visiting The Bonded Store for after dinner drinks. When we got back to our suite we found a towel penguin sitting on our bed that our stateroom steward had left which was a nice touch on our last night.

Day 5: Disembarkation

Today we arrived back in to Sydney around 6am and were off the ship by 8am and on our way to the airport, it was a short break but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Over the years we have sailed many times with P&O and for the price point they operate in they represent good value however if you like a more high end experience P&O may not be for you. Their ships are well designed with beautiful public areas and the food in the paid specialty restaurants is very good however due to P&O's focus on short cruises the majority of the ship is filled with people on bucks or hens parties so it can get a bit rowdy. We tend to find that you have a better experience in a suite vs a stateroom as you have more space to get away from the rowdy crowds on the public decks but if you like to party then any level of accomodation would suit. All in all it depends on what you want out of a cruise and your budget but we feel for a good value short break you can't beat a P&O Short Break. So that ends this travel story, if you have any questions about this trip feel free to comment on the blog, Until next time!

Want More Information?

If you would like more information about P&O Cruises destinations, staterooms, dining options and fares you can visit their website

For more information about Virgin Australia's services you can visit their website

About The Author

Rob has been passionate about cruise ship holidays and exploring the world since the first cruise he went on when he was only seven years old. Since then Rob who is a Photographer and his partner Mike of 18 years have travelled the world on over 25 cruises with over 10 different cruise lines visiting every continent across the globe as well as many remote tropical islands along the way. In addition to cruise holidays they enjoy relaxing at beach side holiday resorts and first/business class air travel as well as transcontinental rail journeys. Between them both Robert and Michael have worked out the best way to maximise frequent flyer reward points allowing them to travel first/business class at economy class prices or in some cases travelling first/business class for free.

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