Monday, January 9, 2012

Life on board Pacific Pearl Cruise ship. PART 1

Here is the first installment of my time on holiday with P&O's Pacific Pearl Cruise ship. I was travelling with Grandma Kiwicakes, DH & the kids - we boarded Sunday 29th December at lunchtime. Everything is certainly made easy for you. Our bags were taken from us on the dock and magically appeared outside our rooms an hour or so later.

Going up the gangplank we got an insight in to just how much food in consumed on board (more on that later) as there were entire pallets of just pineapples. Of course those are needed for our cocktails amongst other things.
We had a wonderful cabin steward named Melroy, who catered to every enquiry &; request we had. He delivered our Pacific Daily (the on board newsletter) each night, and turned down our beds, much to my delight with Hillier's chocolate on the pillow.



When leaving towels for the children, he made them in the shape of animals and popped their sunglasses on.
Our Captain greeted us early on and let us know there were over 1700 passengers on board with 707 staff. I never got the sense of seeing all those passengers at once. However the staff were so attentive at all times, that I was sure there was more than 707 of them.
During this cruise, I ate A LOT, drank quite a bit, gambled a little and WON!. There is simply so much to tell, I hardly know where to start, so I've opted to start with life on board the ship. I will fill you in on our port stops in subsequent posts.
One of the fitness instructors on board said most people gain 2-5 kilos while on a cruise. I haven't weighed myself, so can neither confirm nor deny this rumour. However with the abundance of food available 24/7 I would not be surprised.
The two main restaurants were Waterfront (a la carte) and Plantation (buffet). I ate in both of these establishments, we didn't always eat as a group of 5, in fact one night I went to the Waterfront by myself, as DH & the kids had already eaten and Grandma Kiwicakes begged off dinner. I sat with a great bunch of ladies and discovered one was a Kiwicakes customer (Hi Tracey from Manukau!)



As well as this, there was the Chocolate Cafe, Salt Grill by Luke Mangan (more on my visit there to come), Charlies Cafe and many additional bars. (more on these to follow)


My favourite bar was the MIX cocktail bar (photo courtesy of P&O website). Because it was quiet & secluded. I don't really go for the raging party scene (which was there if you wanted it)
Each day we could consult the Pacific Daily events schedule and plan what we would do for the day (especially if it was an at sea day and there was no port call). I attended many events from cooking demo's, galley tour, to ice carving, a cake decorating challenge, bingo (I had never done that!), towel folding (don't laugh it was awesome!) and so much more.
The weather was not kind to us on our journey, we had many grey days, but it didn't seem to matter, with all of the activities available. And I think we still fared better than the upper North Island of NZ over the same time period. Of course there's still plenty to do even if it rains - the P&O TV channels even had Cake Boss & Chocolate Wars.




There were great shops on board, to while away some spare time. There was the Chocobloc chocolate store, with an awesome M&M display in the window. Everything was of course duty free, so these stores were closed whilst we were in port.

Early in our cruise we attended the Cruise Fair this was an introduction to many of the talents of the ships crew on board. P&O used this to showcase some of the different services on board the ship. It was here I watched a cake decorating competition between 3 passengers. It was judged by one of the patisserie chefs on board.


These were the ingredients they had to work with. The sponge was incredibly light (I sampled it elsewhere on board) and very thin multiple layers. All of the small cakes available in the buffet were slices of multiple layers of this type of sponge, with a wide variety of fillings and topping. If only I could get my own sponge this light!


The girls hard at work


The eventual winner was Christine, her finished gateaux, was much in the style of the pastry chefs themselves. Here are a few of the cakes on show at the Crusie Fair. The flowers are made from marzipan.





We were greeted by the staff from the Chocolate Cafe with Chocolate Ravioli, with a little scoop of ice cream YUM!


The coffee I have on good authority from Grandma & DH was excellent, they often headed to the Chocolate Cafe for a decent coffee.


The bags of Belgian chocolate they use are enormous



I just adore eating good marzipan, so I was thrilled to learn all of the flowers & models on the sweets on board Pacific Pearl are made from marzipan.



There were some wonderful demos of towel & napkin folding





At the Cruise Fair, I met Armando, I learnt he studied carving for 5 years at college. He carved a watermelon in the space of about 5 minutes. (in a later post I will show you his ice carvings). His work was showcased in many of the restaurants and bars. I'd often see a piece of his work and wish I had brought my camera with me, as when I next passed the item was gone (such as on New Year's eve, the 2012 ice carving & Happy New Year pineapple display)








Well I'll be back again real soon with more photo's and updates and some of the promised competitions, with the goodies I brought back from P&O.


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