P&O Cruise to Port Lincoln & Kangaroo Island, South Australia | Review

Family-friendly P&O Cruise to Port Lincoln & Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Review by Carla Caruso

There’s just something about life on the water that continues to fascinate – as seen by the popularity of shows like The Love Boat and Below Deck!

To celebrate my dad’s 70th recently, I jumped aboard the P&O Pacific Explorer for a four-night cruise with the fam, stopping in Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

P&O Cruises is at the affordable end of cruising, so it appeals to a broad section of the community, from twenty-somethings to families and seniors.

(If you’re new to such holidays, there are Facebook forums, like the ‘Pacific Explorer Cruise Passenger Forum Australia’, where you can ask questions of fellow travellers before you board.)

Here’s a little of how our oceanic adventure unfolded. As P&O’s tagline goes, the experience is “like no place on earth”. (Oh, and don’t forget your travel sickness tablets if you’re that way inclined!)

The Accommodation

Fun fact about cruise ships – most don’t have a 13th floor, including the Explorer!

Even though Taylor Swift considers the number lucky, on a ship, decks are generally numbered up to 12 and skip straight to number 14. 

This, of course, is due to the superstitious nature of seafaring culture. It’s believed that having a 13th deck could bring bad luck, so it’s been eschewed for centuries.

The Explorer, as such, has 14 floors. Our accommodation was located on deck eight.

We spread our family-of-four across two twin suites, with portholes overlooking the ocean. And the extended family were in cabins alongside us.

There are also options for balcony rooms (nice to have fresh air circulating if you can) or bigger family suites.

It can take a while to get your bearings onboard. But you’ll soon get used to nautical terms on signage, like ‘portside’ and ‘starboard’, to help guide you. (The former terms refer to the left and right sides of the vessel.)

Room stewards will tidy your room, replenish your towels, and sometimes leave cute towel animals and notes for you.

The Food

One thing you’re never short of onboard is FOOD. You might even get a little sick of the sight of it by the end of your trip!

As part of the holiday package, passengers have access to a smorgasbord, known as ‘The Pantry’, where you can have (complimentary) breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea, dinner, and desserts.

The venue can get as busy as a shopping centre food court, depending on the time that you roll up.

Along with having certain dishes available always – like nachos, curries, and carved meat – they’ll do one-off options on particular days too, such as laksa, hot dogs, and fresh prawns and oysters.  


We opted for a drinks package for the adults ($25 per person, per day), which allowed for barista-made coffees, soft drinks, bottled water, and so on. But you could survive fine on the complimentary bevvies, which includes instant coffee, tea, juice, and filtered water.

There are also restaurants onboard if you want a less frenetic dining experience. Some are included in the package, others you have to pay for. Bookings are advisable.

Using the stairs, instead of the lifts, throughout our stay helped even out the calorie consumption!

The Activities

Screen-addicted kids may get a shock to learn that a P&O cruise doesn’t include Wi-Fi. If you want to use the internet while at sea, you’ll have to pay for it.

We didn’t, and I actually enjoyed the break from the internet.

Make sure to put your phone on flight mode while at sea or you’ll get international roaming charges. Of course, when you stop at a port, you can log in and let the real-world flood in again.

If you need to message your cabin-mates while on-board, there’s a chat function in P&O’s app. However, this is for adults only, not kids. So, finding the youngsters sometimes can be a little tricky if they’re not clear about where they’re going to be!

Even without Wi-Fi, you and the kids will have no shortage of things to do onboard. The Explorer has a games arcade, casino, day spa, gym, running track, pools, spas, water slides, a kids’ club, cable TV, and more. 

There are also activities you can join throughout the day if you choose, from trivia competitions to dance classes. Plus, night-time fun. On our trip, the latter included a white-themed party, where a band played on the pool deck and everyone dressed in white, and a Great Gatsby-inspired knees-up.

Live shows can keep you amused after dark, as well. We caught everything from a stand-up comedy show to a rock anthems spectacular, all part of the package.

You can pay extra to see other shows too. Then there’s the fun of watching people attempt karaoke at the bar…

The Destinations

The places where you stop are more of a taster as you’ll only spend half a day in each, then jump back onboard. (On other days, you’ll be ‘at sea’ and won’t anchor anywhere.)

Our first stop was Port Lincoln. You can pay extra for tours while onshore, but we just enjoyed being on land for a while and having a wander.

While in town, we checked out a local market (open mainly for cruisegoers), various shops, the Makybe Diva statue, and more. The town also has a volunteer-run railway museum.

Fom the wharf, we glimpsed schools of tuna swimming about too, which is what the town’s renowned for. (On the ship, we saw pods of dolphins jumping out of the water a few times, as well.)

Kangaroo Island was picture-perfect the day we visited. To get onto the island, we had to board a ‘tender’ – a smaller boat, which takes passengers and crew ashore.

Again, we just revelled in wandering around and checking out the shops and food outlets (rather than do the tours). There are wilderness trails you can do, including a sculpture one, or you could bring your togs and just hang out at the beach. The water couldn’t have been clearer!


I definitely want to return to both towns soon!

On our last day onboard, we had to be out of our room by 7am and off the ship by 9am, which was a bit of a shock to the system. There’s a train station at Outer Harbor, which proved an easy, affordable way to get home.

We left with a ton of memories and gratitude that we were able to spend quality time with our extended family. A cruising holiday really is an experience like no other!

Review by Carla Caruso

Discover more about Kangaroo Island

things to do in Adelaide for families

For more information, please visit the P&O Cruises website.

All photos by James Elsby for Play & Go Adelaide 

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post and our review is done completely independently. All photos are by Play & Go (unless specified).


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