May 23, 2016

Cruise with the family on Pacific Jewel


Story and Photos by Dallas Sherringham

P&O has been Australia's favourite family cruise line for many years and the newly revamped Pacific Jewel upholds that great tradition.

I first cruised on the Jewel five years ago and it won me over right from the start with its laid back friendly crew and its modern facilities.

Going on board recently was like going home. Smiling faces, people having fun and great new facilities.

Jewel has a timeless beauty, but cruise ships need to be constantly updated and P&O decided it was time to revamp the ship while maintaining its best features.

 Carrying 1900 passengers, the 70,310-tonne ship features the cruise line's ground-breaking dining concept, The Pantry, as well as a Salt Grill by Luke Mangan restaurant, Asian-themed dining at Luna and private group dining at Chef's Table in the Waterfront restaurant.

 Pacific Jewel is home to the largest adventure park at sea, the P&O Edge Adventure Park. This includes a thrilling flying fox style ride on a zip line running across the pools and deck.

For mum and dad, there is a two-level Oasis child-free retreat as well as the Aqua health spa.

You can relax in the Dome entertainment area and observation lounge or the eight bars and lounges. The ship has lot of deck space plus two swimming pools and whirlpool spas.

However, it is in the food and catering areas that the biggest changes can be seen.

There is a new coffee restaurant and lolly shop, but the biggest eye-catcher is The Pantry. This is the eatery on Deck 12 which is used by most passengers for breakfast and lunch.

Gone are the "buffet" type island bars, replaced by staffed servery's where you can order anything from Mexican to a pizza or a burger. It will be personally prepared and served to you.

The Pantry is much healthier for guests as the old fashioned buffet on most cruise ships is susceptible to health problems.

La Luna Asian restaurant is always a great night out and for something different; I had High Tea in the Salt Grill. It was a Dietician's Nightmare; lovely cakes, scones and large selection of teas from around the world.

I went on this cruise as part of a multi-generational group...grandparents and grown up kids. Next time I will take the grandkids as I quickly realised the Jewel offers the perfect family holiday.

So, what do kids get to on board?

Well, there is a multitude of Kids Clubs, serving every group. Kids get the chance to make new friends and learn new skills in a relaxed, safe environment.

Turtle Cove is designed for the two to six-year-old age group.  This includes a pager service for parents so that you can be contacted at all times. The theme is "Have Fun and Be Safe" and the kiddies are hosted by child minding experts.

Shark Shack is for kids aged seven to 10.  Lego is the big favourite in this club, but there are also lots of activities throughout the day including arts and crafts, dancing, concerts and scavenger hunts.

HQ is for older kids 11 to 14 and is real eye opener. It is a lots of electronic games, the chance to make a stop motion animated film and a Teen Jam section for making music.

Kids can come and go throughout the day, but after 10.30pm they have to be picked up by parents.

HQ Plus also provides the chance to make music or form a group and make a music video. Both HQ and HQ Plus also have the chance to perform live on board at a concert.

There is special dining for the younger kiddies if you desire, but I noticed that a lot of children dined with their parents. I think this is great to see as it gives kids dining skills for the future and teaches them what it is like to sit at a table and chat without a TV or I-phone.

In fact, a Pacific Jewel cruise is a great way to introduce your young family to overseas travel. They get to discover new worlds and make new friends in some of the most stunning places on earth.

Finally, the staff on Pacific Jewel is brilliant. They are the friendliest group I have met in more than 80 cruises worldwide. They are a credit to P&O and continue the company's great tradition of friendly service.

 Fares on Pacific Jewel's 10-night Pacific Island cruises departing October 12, 2016 from Sydney start from $849 per person quad share and $1099 per person twin share including a complimentary premium beverage package for the first two adults on the booking, main meals, onboard entertainment and many activities. Offer is valid until June 29, subject to availability. Conditions apply

For more information and bookings contact a licensed travel agent or P&O Cruises on 13 24 94 or visit

  • The Lolly Shop is a new attraction on board
  • Part of the impressive HQ Club facilities on board
  • Pacific Jewel's distinctive, classic lines
  • Kids love the exciting zip experience

May 02, 2016

Struth! Pet therapy for nervous flyers

Nervous flyers go to the dogs

IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says that jittery flyers at some thirty-odd airports in the United States, and four in Canada, are being helped through pre-flight panic attacks by teams of special pooches that are part of a unique program called PUP… Pets Unstressing Passengers.

And it all came about because a volunteer airport chaplain simply took his dog to work with him for company at San Jose's International Airport after the infamous 9/11: so many nervous flyers patted and befriended the friendly little animal, that the airport officially made it a first-ever "therapy dog."

The concept quickly took off with other airports following suit, PUP owners every week now volunteering an hour or two of their time – and that of their dogs – and with Los Angeles International (LAX) alone having 40 pooches of numerous varieties on its roster for daily visits.

Director of Volunteers at LAX, Heidi Huebner says many things can stress passengers: a genuine fear of flying, crowds, daunting queues, terrorism concerns, flying to a funeral, to visit sick family members, or to attend stressful meetings.

"You can literally feel the stress levels drop when people see and befriend our dogs… those previously nervous start smiling, strangers begin talking to each other, everybody goes on their way feeling really, really good," she says.

"One passenger whose husband of 40 years had just told her he wanted a divorce, saw our PUP at LAX, knelt down and wept on its shoulder… the dog just sat there as she let it all out: he could feel…"

And the parents of a 5-year old with autism now arrange for a PUP to meet her whenever she flies home to LAX, it's greeting immediately relieving the child's pent-up anxiety from the flight.

For more information about the program  look at



[] JUST some of the forty PUP volunteers and their pets helping daily de-stress nervous flyers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX.) (Photo courtesy of PUP)

[] PASSENGERS of all ages quickly pal-up with the friendly pooches of the PUP program at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX.) (Photo courtesy of PUP)

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