Dine and brine
certain tastes (tannins, softness, silkiness). The sessions are fun and informative, and about 300 passengers attend each for a mere $8 supplement.
Some things don’t work so well. A cheese-tasting is set in the atrium with shopping in progress on the upper levels; noise is funnelled down the shaft and the service is informal and chaotic. The Hunter Valley Cheese Company’s fine offerings need to be paid as much respect as the wines and given a formal, sit-down tasting. The food service generally has some problems and wait staff could profit from a rigorous education process on wines, food and higher-end service, since P& O is entering this market. Service at the degustation dinner, on the other hand, is notable for its focus and enthusiasm, the staff seeming to come alive with their daunting task.
Pacific Dawn is in the throes of a transition. It is hard to accommodate all tastes and expectations, but the degustation dinner alone is worth the trip for anyone interested in a food-focused voyage. The cruise continues to cater for casino and nightclub-goers, while also introducing something new in the wine sessions and the meals. Good on P& O for going down this road. Australians are more and more interested in innovative food and wine and, as far as I can see, passengers young and old loved this trip and will be back. Judith Elen was a guest of P& O Cruises.