P and O Cruise Review / Information 2023

By | 31 July 2023

The family and I along with some friends went on a 13 night P and O cruise aboard the Pacific Explorer, which took us to destinations such as Fiji, Tonga and Norfolk Island.

Some things I learnt…

Backend / Payment System

We were given $700 credit on board as part of our booking, however this was NOT applied to our ship account. We had to ask reception to sort this out.

Also 3/4 of our room cards did NOT work – again, reception to sort out.

The above may have just been our cruise but good idea to check these things once on board.

Account kiosks are available for self management etc, however these seemed to be hit and miss if they worked or showed correct information all the time.

The “linking” of cards and accounts etc is a little confusing to get your head around but reception staff will assist with this, including removing the linking between accounts so your kids don’t use all your credit.

Keep in mind, P and O base everything in AUSTRALIAN dollars on-board.

Purchases from anything on board is done via room credit, NO cash.


This is for shore tours, on-board activities etc and even pre-cruise things.

If you have kids that are adventurous, then highly recommend getting them the Edge Extreme pass online BEFORE your cruise date. Doing this before the cruise date usually gives you a discounted price. Edge Extreme is effectively unlimited access to all the available onboard adventure activities, such as flying fox, Titanic experience, Walk The Plank, rock climbing etc.

Booking on board activties soon as you board is highly recommended as some do book out quickly, such as the cocktail making courses.

Some of the restaurants do require bookings for dinner, so keep this in mind when wanting to try The Waterfront, Dragon Lady etc.

Some shore tours are more popular than others, so if theres one you really want to do, make sure you’ve booked it online pre-cruise, or as soon as you board.

Cancelling shore tours MUST be done as soon as possible as they do have a cut off time for them, usually 24-36hrs before.


Each room has its own TV with a selection of channels showing cruise information, travel and wildlife shows, movies, kids shows etc. Quality is poor so don’t expect to see full HD or anything. A lot of passengers have complained that HDMI is not available, so you cannot plug in a console, laptop etc.

This is NOT true.

The TV’s DO have HDMI input, but the remote does not have any options for selecting it. The workaround for this, is not to use the remote, but the on TV controls – our TV was a Samsung so the controls were on the back right hand side (when looking at the TV) – I could access everything as I would at home. Comes in handy if you have younger children who get bored and just want to watch their fav TV show…….


There is internet on board the ship but :

  1. Its expensive if you want “full” connectivity. The basic connection is pretty much email and basic browsing only, no streaming etc.
  2. Its flakey as hell. When it works, its slow. Good old satellite connection I’d assume.

What I did, was waited until I was in port, then used my providers roaming option ($8 a day). This worked fine for most of our port days, except for Norfolk Island, no roaming available via Vodafone/One.


When we were given our time to board, it was highlighted to stick to that time and that noone would be permitted ahead of their allocated time. Monitoring Facebook posts regarding this, did seem to enforce this, and people said they were unable to board earlier.

Well, we went 2 hours early and boarded with no questions asked.

Had no hassle getting through, and our bags were not even thougroly checked for alcohol – they could see there were cans in my bag but never asked if they were soft drinks or not. Yet during the cruise I was questioned on some cans I bought onboard from a port stop…

Final Disembarkation

What a shambles this was…….

The day before port, we were advised to put out our luggage in the hall to be collected that night. No problem. Except they never specified to keep goods to be declared separate. This was only announced the next morning as we were waiting to disembark.

The official notification to all passengers via a printed letter left in the cabins, stated that you should wait in your cabin until 15mins before your allocated disembarkation time. Ours was for 8.15am.

At 7.30 am a staff member knocked on our door and asked us to leave the room ASAP. Thinking we could get off the ship earlier, we obeyed and headed to floor 7….. and found ourselves trapped with every other passenger from the ship. They had decided to change the process, and instead of using a timed schedule, that they would use a number allocated to our luggage – ours being 12. So we waited over an our as they called out each number……

Now, keep in mind, we’re trapped in the lounge areas with everyone else. COVID and all. Cough, splutter, sneeze. FUCK.

Finally #12 was called, and we made our way off the ship….. into chaos. The baggage claim area was poorly laid out, there was no official queue system, you just pushed and shoved your way to customs.

I had some lady trying to push her way in front of me the whole time, trying to separate me from my family so she could get ahead….. she learnt the hard way not to do that.

Then we’re seeing people with the numbers 18 and higher AHEAD of us – how the hell….. because their bags were located closest to the customs line, they were claiming their bags, and just forcing their way into the queue.

More cough, splutter, sneezes.


Eventually we made it to customs, declared our items which were checked over by a friendly customs agent, who was having to use a torch to inspect things because there was no lighting in the area. Felt sorry for her.

We finally escaped…..


Make sure you have travel insurance, specifically for cruises as not all travel insurance covers the extra things required for assistance on a ship.

There is a medical center on board, at your cost (hence why good to have insurance)

We found this the unfortunate way with one of the kids injuring themselves (nothing major). The staff are very good and had things sorted quickly.

Cost was approx $170AUD – this was for after hours, doctor, and medication. So not bad overall – not that you ever plan to see them.


Anything that seems negative in this post, should not prevent you from taking a cruise. They are mainly just process flaws that I’m sure P and O have now received feedback on and hopefully improve.

We had an absolute blast during the trip, and looking forward to our next one, COVID and all.

And yes, out of the 10 of us in our party, 50% have now tested positive. Doh.