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P&O Cruises: Arcadia

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Arcadia Review

Love it or hate it. The Arcadia is a larger ship showing her age while offering traditional cruise cuisine, facilities, and entertainment that may keep passengers smiling or grimacing. At the end of 2013 the ship will go into dry dock, nearly five years after its last multimillion-dollar refurbishment. When it returns, its updated features will include 10 single cabins using reconfigured space from the disco and casino, updated rooms with softer furnishings, a new soundproof nightclub, and rehauled interior design for Marco Pierre White’s Ocean Grill restaurant. The Arcadia transformation will be completed before her 2014 world cruise.

Exclusively for adults, the Arcadia is a mid-size ship carrying 2,388 passengers at full capacity. Her understated elegance is highlighted by an extensive art collection of nearly 3,000 works that showcases modern British artists. A three-tier theater, two-deck fine dining restaurant, and luxurious spa outfitted with a thermal suite and hydrotherapy pool distinguish this ship from others in the P&O fleet. The New Horizons activity program utilizes the services of leading specialists and offers such classes as tai chi, painting, Reiki, and garden design.

P&O's first new ship Arcadia was built on Holland America Line's Vista-class platform (indeed, she was destined to be a Holland America Ship until Carnival acquired P&O in 2003), but the new owners made modifications to suit British tastes. She offers a relaxed pace and stylish accommodations. Her signature features include exterior glass-fronted elevators, a celebrity chef restaurant, and expansive panoramic views from the Sky Deck. A refined yet lively British Victorian–style pub is a favorite of repeat cruisers. Special attention is paid to daily activities, entertainment, and recreation to ensure relaxation of mind, body, and spirit.

Since 1937, P&O Cruises (originally the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) has been a force in passenger shipping. Although the company's suggestion that they invented leisure cruising cannot be proven, P&O is assuredly a pioneer of modern cruising. The company acquired Princess Cruises in 1974. P&O then purchased Sitmar Cruises and merged it with Princess in 1988, and the passenger-cruise business—known as P&O Princess—was spun off in 2000.

P&O Cruises is the oldest cruise in the world and remains Britain's leading cruise line, sailing the U.K.'s largest and most modern fleet. The ships are equipped with every traditional big-ship amenity, including swimming pools, stylish restaurants, spas, bars, casinos, theaters, and show rooms.

Seven ships in the P&O fleet offer a diverse range of venues for relaxation and entertainment, including cocktail bars, nightclubs, cinemas, games rooms, and cabaret lounges. Enjoy live bands, dramatic musicals, and deck parties, cabaret singers, comedians, specialty acts, classical recitals, and concerts. Theme evenings include tropical, 1960s and '70s, or Black and White Ball. Other activities include quizzes and panel games, with prizes awarded to winning teams. A select number of itineraries offer the opportunity to spend the evening, or even overnight, in port.

An abundance of balcony and outside cabins on P&O ships ensures that a view to the sea is never far away. Accommodations, from inside cabins to lavish suites, cater to a wide cross section of budgets and tastes. In the interest of passenger health and safety, smoking has been prohibited indoors, including in all cabins and suites and on private balconies. Outdoor smoking venues are published on board.

To offer passengers a variety of choices, P&O has adapted their fleet to match the preferences of their primary markets. Although most of the ships cater to families as well as couples and singles of all ages, Arcadia, Adonia, andOriana are adults-only ships. The Aurora, Azura, Oceana, and Ventura complete the P&O armada and welcome both adults and children. Following customer feedback, P&O announced major refurbishments for the Ventura, Oceana, and Arcadia in 2013.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • New Horizons adult education program has been a popular addition
  • The ship offers fine international dining with a celebrity chef restaurant
  • The Palladium Theater is a grand space for evening production shows

Cons

  • The educational enrichment program and workshops have an extra fee
  • Exterior glass-front elevators may not be suitable for passengers suffering seasickness, claustrophobia, or fear of heights
  • There's an extra charge to use the thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 880
  • Entered Service 2005
  • Gross Tons 83,500
  • Length 936 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,008
  • Passenger Capacity 2,388
  • Width 96 feet
  • New

Jul 20, 2008

Norwegian Fjords and North Cape

This review gives my personal view only. I realize that all aspects are purely subjective and that others may have a very different opinion of things. I appreciate hard work and know that I am not perfect so I don't expect things to be perfect. I do, however, expect value for money and people to make an effort. Background: This cruise turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Our original choice cruise had been cancelled because of operational difficulties

so, with only 7 weeks to go, our TA found us a good deal on Arcadia to Norway. My DH and I have cruised 19 times before (Princess, NCL, RCI, Carnival, Star Cruises and Louis) but never on P&O. We were looking for somewhere different because, hopefully without seeming too boastful, we have done most of the Med, Baltic, Caribbean, Alaska etc, so decided to take the plunge. I am in my very late 50s (OK, so I'm 60 this October but sssssh...) and my DH is very early 60s. We consider ourselves to be active and inquisitive. We love to meet people, have new experiences and see different things so this cruise fulfilled all our criteria. We are from the Midlands in the UK so it was a pleasant change to sail from Southampton with no weight restrictions! This was a wonderful cruise and I would highly recommend both the ship and the itinerary. P&O will not be my first choice of cruise line for many reasons: we prefer an anytime dining option and less formality. We also prefer a more cosmopolitan mix of passengers and a younger profile. Having said all that though, we would not hesitate to go with P&O again if the price and itinerary were right. This is a very, very subjective area. We found the food to be abundant, of a reasonable quality and very British. I, personally, prefer to have a more eclectic choice but it was good to have a plentiful variety of vegetables which we always find lacking on the American ships. The buffet was usually busy and it was sometimes difficult to find seats (this is the case with every ship on which we have travelled) but people were happy to share tables. I enjoyed the British bacon and sausages. The salads were good and, generally, the quality of the hot food was fine. At lunch time I loved the hot puds with custard - it was a bit like school dinners at their best! We were on second sitting (8:30ish) and this was my one major gripe - I really don't like ˜traditional dining." Quite often the dining room did not open on time so the queues built up. We were on a table for 6 and our companions were delightful which helped to make the evening meal a pleasure but I much prefer open seating so I can choose the time I want to eat (I know I could have gone to the buffet but like to be waited on in the evening). The food was plentiful but we have had better quality on other lines. The service was always very attentive. We did not try the speciality restaurants but people we talked to had enjoyed the food at both venues - Arcadian Rhodes and the Orchid room. We had been offered a balcony guarantee when we booked so were absolutely thrilled to be allocated an aft cabin on deck E. We love aft cabins and this one did not disappoint although it was slightly smaller than the other aft cabins due to its position next to a suite whose doorway has been designed to open very close to ours. There was adequate storage, a small bath with shower, a large comfortable bed (the pillows were a bit too hard and lumpy for my liking), a sofa with coffee table, a small dressing table, fridge and flat screen TV. I did like the choice of films, BBC and Sky news plus the UK drama and comedy shows - not that we watched much. The balcony was spacious with 2 comfortably padded wooden sun chairs and a small table. Luckily, the weather for the majority of the 13 days was pleasantly warm so we were able to use the balcony quite a lot. Sitting out there with a drink as we sailed through the fjords or late at night with the sun still shining was magical! It was lovely to be greeted with a beautiful red rose in a bud vase and to have the tea/coffee making facility along with the packets of biscuits. The collection of toiletries (lip salve, body lotion, eye cream etc) together with decently large towels was also a bonus. Our cabin steward, Emily, was a delight and she kept everything spotless. The cabin compared favourably with those of the other cruise lines I loved the main pool area as it had a retractable roof which meant that the facility could be used all the time although I have to say that the lounging chairs were the most uncomfortable that I have ever come across on a cruise ship. There were many different bars and lounge areas which all seemed to be well used. We love to dance so spent most of our time, when not eating or at the show. in the Globe which had a reasonable size dance floor. The amount of ballroom and sequence dancing opportunities was a major bonus to us but we missed a lot because the main dancing times were scheduled while we were eating dinner and then watching the show. P&O really need to look at the timing of their shows. The majority of other lines have an early show so people can watch that before dinner. On Arcadia the first show was while we, on second sitting, were eating and the second show started at 10.45p.m.! This gave us about 20 minutes after the end of the show before all the other entertainment finished. There were plenty of organized activities for the 4 sea days but we only did the dance classes which we especially enjoyed. Freda and Michael taught some basic and more complex moves for the tango, jive, rumba, cha cha cha and a bit of salsa. There was line dancing too. I thought the shows were all very good except for the male guest singer who had no charisma and, as the poor attendance at his second show proved, a very unpopular choice of songs. The resident company did a splendid job with their singing and dancing being full of energy and enthusiasm. Embarkation: We travelled down from the Midlands on the Sunday and then stayed overnight in Reading. My DH expected the M3 to be busy so we set off at 9.00a.m. anticipating delays but we sailed(!) through so we arrived early (11:15 a.m.) at the Mayflower Terminal in Southampton. Our car and luggage were both whisked away with great efficiency and we joined the very short queue which grew extremely quickly after our arrival. Boarding started at 11.45 and we were on the ship within 15 minutes. We had been told that cabins would not be available until 1.30 but DH decided to go straight to the cabin to see if he could leave his suit bag there and, to our delight, the cabin was ready. Emily introduced herself and was happy for us to leave everything in there before we went off to explore and have lunch in the buffet. All our pieces of luggage arrived by 4:00 p.m. Ports: We decided not to do many organised trips because we were not sure what the weather would be like. In retrospect, I wish we had done at least one into the mountains around the fjords but we still saw a lot although I think we missed out on the information about the areas. Bergen: It was cool and overcast when we woke up but, as this was our first sight of Norway, we were immediately struck by the grandeur of the hills and the way the town with its strongly colourful wooden buildings nestled among the hills. There were 7 cruise ships in that day so everywhere was very crowded. Arcadia was docked about a 1/2 mile from the town centre and, following advice gained from the cruise forums, we headed, on foot, straight for the funicular which is situated very close to the market area. We had to join a long queue and stood in line for 30 minutes. The return ride was 70kroner, but worth it for the views of the city and fjord. I'm glad we went straight there as the queue was almost twice as long when we arrived back at base. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the harbour area where there was a lively and vibrant market with some unusual stalls - whale products and fur products were in evidence everywhere. It was there that we began to realize just how expensive everything in Norway is!!!! I love to go in local supermarkets and try to bring back home a typical delicacy - jam, packet cake mix, sauce, sweets or a cooking utensil, but I could not bring myself to buy anything. Everything was at least twice the price of a similar item in the UK. Even a single post card cost nearly £1. We quickly learned to eat and drink on the ship and to limit our spending to entrance fees and bare essentials. Bergen has a delightfully quaint area (a world heritage site) just behind the very deep coloured wooden shops by the harbour side. We wandered around there taking photos for a long time before returning to the ship. It was lovely having our first experience of sailing down a fjord and, to make it even better, the sun came out and stayed out for most of the rest of the cruise. Tips Do the funicular ride as early as possible to avoid the worst of the queues. Public toilets are expensive – between 5kr and 10kr (50p &£1) so have change available. There are free toilets in the building at the centre of the fish market area. Flam: We thought Bergen was attractive but Flam was a revelation. We were so lucky that the weather was warm with clear blue skies as it accentuated the magnificence of the lush green hills and the sparkling patches of snow high up on the mountainside. The water of the fjord glistened bright blue and everything was so quiet and still. We had set the alarm for 6.30a.m. knowing that we had a long sail up the Sognefjord to get to Flam and wishing to see some of the fjord. I'm so glad that we did as the scenery in the early morning sunshine was just too beautiful to describe. It was lovely eating breakfast and seeing the mountains and tiny villages slide by. We docked in the little village of Flam at 8:00 a.m. and decided to disembark as soon as possible. This was an excellent decision as it enabled us to catch the first train of the day on the famous train for the 50 minute ride up to Myrdal which left at 8:35 a.m. The station is about a 1/2 mile from the dock and there was only a short queue to purchase tickets (310Kr-£31- pp return). The train ride was spectacular with amazing views of the mountains, waterfalls, rivers and villages. The train makes a 5 minute stop at a huge waterfall and most people got off to take photos. There is not much at Myrdal except for the station and its cafe. My DH and I decided to walk down the path opposite the station and, again, were happy with this decision as it took us alongside a mountain stream to a beautiful waterfall. I felt a bit sorry for the couple who were camping there as their peace was suddenly shattered by us and a few others who had chosen to walk the path. We caught the 10.50a.m. train back to Flam and were amazed (horrified) by the huge queues waiting for the train. There were several coach loads of people arriving all the time. The village of Flam is a couple of miles from the dock area so we decided just to wander around the dock/station area with its restaurants, souvenir shops and supermarket. There is a pretty park area and a shingle beach where families were picnicking and sunbathing. My DH saw a crew member swimming and asked if the water was cold. The man replied “somewhere between freezing and ice cold!! so we decided to give paddling a miss that time! Arcadia sailed at 5.30p.m. and we were able to enjoy the return trip down the fjord while having a drink on our balcony .....bliss! Tips Get the 8:35 a.m. train to avoid the queues. Sit on the right side of the carriage facing forward for the best views. Olden: This holiday was beginning to settle into a pattern by now as we realised that we would miss so much if we stayed in bed late so, once again, the alarm was set early so that we could have a morning coffee and watch the magnificent scenery pass by as we cruised up the Nordfjord to Olden. Nordfjord was just as impressive as Sognefjord but in a slightly more gently rolling way. The weather again was superb and the early morning sun accentuated the brilliant greens and blues of grass and water. Olden is also situated a long way down the fjord and, like Flam, has a dock area and then a small town about 1mile away. My DH had booked a fjord fishing excursion for the morning so he had breakfast and went off to do his thing. I took the opportunity to wander the ship and take photos and then to have a quiet read on the balcony surrounded by the crystal clear air and wonderful scenery. DH had a good time but only caught 3 fish so he was a little disappointed. In the afternoon we strolled from the ship into the little town. The walk took us past some lovely houses with colourful and well kept gardens before we reached the village centre. There were a few shops selling clothing, souvenirs and food but prices were so high that it was easy to resist buying. There is a lovely white painted wooden church that is open to visitors and after a look round there we walked slowly back along the waterside to the ship. There was an abundance of wild flowers in bloom and a lot of different sorts of birds. We sat on a bench and soaked up the sights and sounds, revelling in the peace and quiet. Tips There is a trolley train that runs from the ships side and does a 1 hour round trip of the area. There are free public toilets in the building next to the supermarket in the village centre. Trondheim: The weather continued to be kind to us and we, again, were up early to see the approach to Trondheim. This was a less spectacular sail but still pretty in its own way. The ship docked in the industrial area of the city and there was a regular shuttle bus service into the town centre which we caught. The bus dropped us off very close to the cathedral so we walked to that. It is a very impressive building and reminiscent of Many English cathedrals. From there it was a few minutes walk to the old bridge which we crossed into the old town area. The buildings here are pastel coloured wooden houses with pretty flower displays. We wandered this district for a little while before heading into the modern town centre. This was a pleasant enough place but very much like any other town so, after an extortionately priced cup of coffee, we returned to the ship. Tips Shuttle bus was 50kr (£5)pp return. You could walk into the city but it was a long way and the route was not particularly attractive. There is a 100kr (£10) entrance fee pp to the cathedral. Toilets are free in the shopping mall. Sea day: This was when we crossed the Arctic Circle although we would never have guessed from the fabulously hot weather we were having. The great thing here was that we could see the Norwegian coastline as we travelled north and it was an amazing succession of high jagged cliffs. Unfortunately the calm and still conditions were perfect to create the fog blanket that descended in mid-afternoon and followed us for the next couple of days. This meant that we did not see the midnight sun, but we did get the 24 hours of daylight. It was a surreal feeling to be sitting on the balcony at 1:00 a.m. in full, although misty, daylight! Honningsvaag and North Cape: It was heaven not to have to set the alarm so early as we were not due to reach Honningsvaag until 12:30 p.m. After a late breakfast and a bit of line dancing my DH and I went our separate ways to join our different tours. We were tendered into the little town of Honningsvaag as Arcadia is too big to tie up to the dock side. There is a permanent population of around 400 in the immediate area and I'm not surprised. It is very wild and beautiful in a stark sort of way but, in winter, they have 74 days of almost total darkness. DH was going bird watching and he was full of praise for the whole trip when he returned. The guide had been excellent and the group had seen many different birds – sea eagles, puffins, cormorants etc plus a minky whale, seals and sea lions. I did the North Cape trip. This cost £46 which included the £20 entrance fee to the North Cape national park. The coach trip took about 50 minutes along very windy roads with some spectacular views across bleak moorland. There were herds of reindeer grazing on the patches of lush grass and wild flowers. The North Cape tourist centre is large and has some interesting exhibits including the 180 degree wide screen film show. It was such a shame that the mist was still hanging around and was thick enough to make it difficult to appreciate the height of the 900ft cliffs. We were free to return when we wanted so I spent about an hour there and 15 minutes looking round the town of Honningsvaag before getting the tender back to the ship. Unfortunately the mist persisted so we were unable to see the North Cape cliffs as we cruised past them at midnight. Tips It would be difficult to do anything independently in this area. There is a free toilet on the ground floor at the museum in Honningsvaag. Have warm clothes. Tromso: The mist cleared as we travelled south to Tromso and the warm weather returned, much to our delight. We also resumed our early morning alarm call and were not disappointed as we sailed up another pretty fjord. Arcadia docked at the industrial port which is a good way out of the town centre. We were able to see the large bridge and the modern Arctic Cathedral from the upper deck of the ship. We caught the port run shuttle bus which dropped us off in the shopping district. This was about 3 miles from the ship. We walked down to the water front and realiZed that it was too far to walk across the bridge to the cathedral so we concentrated on the commercial centre. This comprises of a few shopping streets, some pretty wooden houses and there was also a small market where we found some affordable small gifts. After a couple of hours of slow meandering we felt that we had seen all that was walkable in Tromso so we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship and finished the day with a game of scrabble and a bit of sunbathing. Tips Shuttle bus was 55kr (£5.50)pp return. The market had the cheapest gifts of all the places we visited. Free toilets in the small shopping mall. Alesund: After yet another early morning sitting drinking coffee on the balcony and watching the approach down the fjord to the next destination we were pleased to find that we were docked right in the centre of Alesund. The weather had changed and was cool and damp. This was a shame because Alesund was perhaps the most attractive of all the cities we visited. Once again we wandered the streets and found some beautiful waterfront buildings. My DH then decided to climb the 400+ steps to the top of the mountain where there is a viewing platform. I gave this one a miss and spent a bit of time window shopping before returning to the ship. The weather improved in the afternoon and the sun came out as we set sail. Apparently this had been the first visit of a P&O ship to this port so we were escorted out into the fjord by a fire department boat with the hoses spraying fountains of water. Tips There is a trolley train which takes you up the mountain to the view point for 150Kr (£15)pp Stavanger We had lovely weather again as we neared Stavanger. I have to say that I was not particularly looking forward to this port but it turned out to be my favourite of the larger ports. Arcadia docked right in the centre of the town and the market was only a 200 yards from the gangplank. We walked to the market square and then, just to the left is the church with some beautiful and interesting artefacts. A short stroll down the narrow shopping streets lined with attractive floral displays took us to the ferry terminal and a most unusual children's playground constructed from all kinds of industrial materials. We carried on walking and eventually came to small hill in the centre of the town with an old lookout tower on it. There were very good views of the ship from there. Our stroll took us back to the church square and then into the pretty little park area with the lake and fountain. From there we continued to walk back towards the ship but followed the quayside on the opposite side of the harbour until we came to the Old Town area. This was truly beautiful in the warm sunshine. The old town comprises of several narrow, cobbled streets lined with quaint, white painted, wooden houses which were set off by colourful displays of flowers in window boxes, hanging baskets and the small gardens. My DH and I spent some time sitting at various vantage points so that we could soak up the atmosphere of this, our last port in Norway, before heading back to the ship. There was a Great British Sail Away party on the aft pool deck as we slid out of Stavanger and down the last fjord. This seemed a fitting end to our Norwegian adventure. Tips This is the perfect place to get off the ship in the morning, return for lunch and then get off again in the afternoon. Spend all your remaining Norwegian Kroner coins as banks at home will not change them. Sea Day Our last day was spent packing and enjoying the facilities aboard for the last time. We were able to put out our first bags for collection by 4.00p.m. and any others needed to be out by midnight.

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Dec 29, 2006

Barbados/Panama Canal

Have just returned from a two week cruise on Arcadia, "Tropical Delights" from Acapulco to Barbados via the Panama Canal. I found the other reviewer's comments really helpful, so hopefully someone will also benefit from mine. This was my third cruise with P&O, previously we had been on Aurora and Adonia. Our impression of Arcadia was very disappointing. The ship looked shabby, lots of areas had flaking paint, marks

on the walls and floor. Our balcony had stains all over the floor, we mentioned this three times and eventually someone came and cleaned it. There were some tiles next to a buffet counter beside the main pool which had lifted, leaving dangerous sharp tiles where people would be walking. After two hours of looking at this, I reported it and one of the staff put a little bollard over the damaged area. Admittedly, they did repair the tiles a couple of days later, but they replaced with a different color which added to the shabby look. If you're used to P&O ships being pristine, I think you'll find Arcadia a real disappointment. I was talking to another passenger who used to be a senior manager in P&O, and he said that the reason that the ship was so shabby is that it had been in the Caribbean for so long. Normally, when ships return to Southampton they get things fixed. Clearly P&O needs to make better arrangements, surely it must be possible to get a painter in the Caribbean? Another member of the executive team on the ship was chatting to us, and he said that since Carnival had taken over, there were cost cuts on top of cost cuts. He said that he thought most of the ships were getting shabbier as a result. One thing which you can't help noticing on Arcadia is the AWFUL mix of carpets and soft furnishings. The carpets are very heavily patterned and in bright colors, generally mixed with furniture which just simply doesn't go. You can't help thinking that they must have gotten the carpets on the cheap, as nobody could have paid good money for such old tat. We did notice a few changes in P&O's product, brought in by the accountants to drive up profits, but detracting from the cruise experience. The free ice creams which P&O used to give out in the afternoons are, replaced by ice creams you can buy. The ship's staff constantly pushed the Orchid and Rhodes restaurants - the cookery demonstration was an advert for the Orchid, and even the cabaret artiste did a big plug for the paid-for restaurants. We didn't bother to use either, £15 a head additional charge seems quite steep given that food is supposed to be included, and the fact that the ship's company were pushing them so hard suggested that they weren't very popular. The menus in Rhodes are very similar to the restaurant, lots of steaks and big meat dishes, and the executive chef for the main restaurant also oversees Rhodes, so what is the difference? We were told by a member of the executive team that P&O was increasingly getting rid of anything on board which didn't generate onboard spend. "If marketing had their way, we'd get rid of all the dancing on the ship because people can't dance and drink at the same time" was the comment. Card games have similarly been banished because they don't generate revenue, and there is no Traveling Alone Club on the ship, evidently because single people don't generate as much on board spend as couples. This is a real shame because cruising is such a popular option with singles. P&O explains these "innovations" as part of being contemporary. Another "innovation" is to have exactly the same entertainment EVERY cruise, so if you do a back to back cruise, you get the same shows, the same talks, everything repeated for the second cruise. Having read the reviews of the flight to Acapulco, I decided against and booked flights on Air France out and BA back. I was really pleased we did, as most people talked about nothing else but the awful flights for the whole cruise. In most cases, people were stuck on a charter plane with almost zero legroom for 16 hours. On one flight, 6 people needed oxygen and the plane had to borrow additional oxygen from another when it refueled. On another flight, an admin error in P&O led to no food on the flight. When the flights arrived at Acapulco, there were 2 immigration officers for over 2000 arriving passengers, so most people evidently queued for up to 3 hours (having spent 16 on the plane). Then another 2 hours on a bus fighting its way through Acapulco traffic. Almost everyone said "never ever again". Simple advice, do not use the P&O flights under any circumstances. So, onto the itinerary. We stopped in Zihautanejo (pretty little resort), Huatulco (beach, 2 bars, very little else), San Juan del Sur (we did the trip to Granada and loved it), Panama (loved walking around the old town), Panama Canal, Limon (we did the rainforest tram, good but very overpriced), Aruba (very americanised, did nothing for me), Port of Spain (I enjoyed this, but a lot of people thought it was a bit rough) and Barbados (has anyone not been here?). Personally, I think this cruise would have been much much better if they had started at Los Angeles, therefore enabling people to get scheduled flights easily. After that, they could go to Acapulco, so you'd get a proper day there, then spend more time on the pacific side of the canal, cutting out one or two of the Caribbean stops. Weather was beautiful, if anything a little too hot. Much better and more predictable on the pacific side than the Caribbean. If you're going on this one, don't bother to pack anything warm you absolutely won't need it. Food in the main restaurant was pretty standard P&O fare. Very very calorific, and no hint of a healthy option on any of the menus. The buffet had a good selection, if a little uninspired, but the Formica top tables and gross carpet made you feel you were eating in a transport cafe. They laid on three parties on deck, which were all well attended and good fun. The Arcadia theatre company had variable performances. There were three gymnasts in the company, mainly for the Cirque de Arcadia show which was excellent. The four singers ranged from one chap who was excellent to one American girl who just couldn't hit the high notes any more and was awful. The cabarets were disappointing. Hilary O'Neil almost died on stage the first night, she tried hard to make us laugh but pretty much failed and was embarrassing. The other male comedian was similarly unfunny and also nearly died during one of his performances. You're probably thinking that I completely hated the cruise - this is wrong. To be honest, we had a good time. I was really interested in seeing Central America, and enjoyed the trips we did. I liked the child-free ship, and generally like the P&O cruises offer. So, I wouldn't recommend that you avoid this cruise. All I would say, in summary, is don't have too high expectations of Arcadia. As a new ship, her shabbiness is disappointing. If you're a P&O regular, you will notice how they're making every attempt to get more and more onboard spend out of you. And, finally, whatever you do, DON'T GO ON THE CHARTER FLIGHTS to Acapulco. Hope this has been helpful to someone.  

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Sep 30, 2006

Baltic

Well, just where do I begin? When I joined the ship in Southampton and found my cabin, it had 2 twin beds and not the double I requested. The card showing my meal seating plan showed a table for 4 when a table for two had been reserved. After queuing for 50 minutes to speak to the restaurant manager a table for two was sorted out I think under duress! The next problem I was to encounter was that when I awoke on the

first morning at sea.... my balcony flooded! I was told by the cabin steward that it had rained overnight, but I knew this to be untrue, more on this later. On eating in the Meridian restaurant at your main meal time one glass of water and no ice per person.  Why can't we have a nice cold jug of water be provided so that I can have a refill when I want and not have to wait for the waiter to be told I would like another drink? Now on to the subject of breakfast. If you fancy a lie in on your hard earned holiday then don't expect to use the Meridian restaurant as on sea days it closes at 0930 and can you believe 0900 on port days!! but then again you can always use the self service restaurant, The Belvedere open until 1030 on all days for breakfast, but, be prepared for one hell of a bun fight. Trying to get a table is a nightmare and when you do find one, be prepared for some complete stranger to join your table just as you start breakfast. Also my own record for trying to get a table was I started looking at 0910 and managed to get one at 1020. Now onto what can only be described as joke entertainment in the very plush palladium. We have two shows a night one, at 8:45pm and one at 10:45pm both are the same shows - this allows everybody to see it if they want to, mind you having gone to the shows, you need to be in your seat 30 minutes before it starts or you will only find a seat behind one of the posts that restrict your view! Oh and don't get too comfortable in your seat as the show is over in 45 minutes. There is other entertainment around the ship at night but unless you like ballroom dancing or quizzes then the only other place is the casino. On the Lido Deck they do have things going on at night like the ho-down nightline dancing. Yes it is popular but there are only 7 tables outside, so if you like leaning against the handrails or sitting on stacked up sun beds then this is the place to be seen drinking beer, which has been served to you from a can. Yes a can! I tell no lie.  Arcadia only has one main bar where the beer is draught and that's at the other end of the ship on deck 3, every where else it from cans.  By the way, I went around the Caribbean 3 years ago on the Oceana and that was a wonderful holiday. Why P and O have let things slip to these standards is beyond me? P.S. I paid in excess of three thousand pounds for 12 days bad days. Never again will I go with P and O cruises again!!    

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Aug 18, 2006

Baltic

This was our second P&O cruise and we chose the ship as it was new and had received considerable UK press. Previously we had used Oceana and in common with others on the cruise, the lack of a dramatic atrium made our start a little flat, however the ship did grow on us.  We will use again particularly given its child free status. We were in cabin e34 which along with a very large room gave us an enlarged balcony

over the cabins above us. We found the staff excellent which made the trip however the facilities were marred by the Belvedere 'Tesco' style eating. In fairness it was the clientele who were perhaps more at home in this queuing up UK style that made matters worse but it does need some better structure otherwise guests end up with a tray but no seat. We as a result used the formal Meridian instead and would have liked a third option as provided on Oceana. We did not use the Rhodes or Orchid as did not feel paying extra was warranted over the Meridian which was top class with staff to match. We felt the one let down was the costly New Horizons package; it was never fully clear from the daily newspaper what was free and what not, really we did not expect to have to pay for such facilities and would not in future. The ship whilst having a superb theatre in the Palladium lacks the second option, again as on Oceana, as such the cinema is in a lecture room. Overall an excellent ship. The staff were the real credit to P&O and they should look after them, hopefully they are not all reliant on tips, something I would like to know more about. Logistically though, P&O cannot be faulted and we were pleased to be on a 'British' ship with manners and conduct to match.  

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Jul 29, 2006

Baltic

Review of P&O Arcadia 7-night Fjord’s Adventure Cruise 30 July 2006 This was a cruise from Southampton to Eidfjord, Flam, Olden and Bergen with a day at sea on the first and last days. It was our second cruise with P&O, our previous one two years ago was on Oceana to the Canary Islands. Arcadia seems to have had some very mixed reviews from P&O regulars but we went with an open mind as we have so far enjoyed

experiencing nine different cruise lines and eighteen ships. Arcadia was our second adults-only ship, the first being Saga Ruby earlier this year. Ruby’s passengers probably averaged over 70 years of age and we decided after that we prefer a more mixed age group. Arcadia had a really good spread of ages from a group on the next table at dinner celebrating a 21st birthday, and many others in their 20’s and upwards. We were in an OE grade inside cabin number B10 on Bermuda Deck number 7 and paid £770 each ($1,463 at 1.90). Plus Points: The décor of our cabin was beige walls with green furnishings and looked rather luxurious with its LCD flat screen TV. It was also one of the quietest cabins we have ever had. The public room décor primarily in beige, brown and other earth tones with 3,000 pieces of artwork and sculptures commissioned from British artists made for a very stylish ship in a contemporary way, somewhat similar to some of Celebrity’s Millennium Class ships. With only 1,950 passengers on this 83,000-ton Vista Class ship it is very spacious and lots of windows make the public areas very light. Captain Steve Burgoine, the Cruise Director Neil Oliver, and the officers and crew was happy, smiling, efficient and willing to oblige at all times. Our cabin stewardess was Bernadeth from the Philippines and our waiter Alberto and his assistant Joaquim were from India. The Belvedere buffet selection for breakfast and lunch was better than we had experienced on Oceana but still not up to the standard of US lines such as Celebrity and Holland America. We had some delightful companions on our first sitting dinner table. The choice of food at dinner was better on the first few nights than on the last few, just as we had found on Oceana. On three occasions my wife and I had the alternative option of steak and it was exceptionally tender. Salmon or chicken was also available every night. Overall quality was good rather than outstanding. The Lido pool has a retractable glass roof that is very useful if the weather isn’t kind however the non-adjustable sun loungers around the pool were very uncomfortable. Those by the other pool and on the higher deck were adjustable. Some drink prices were lower than on US cruise lines. For example Beringer White Zinfandel that was £18 ($34.20) on Legend of the Seas earlier this year was £15.75 ($29.92) on Arcadia. A glass of house wine is £2.55 ($4.85), half a liter carafe £7.15 ($13.58) and a liter carafe £14 ($26.60). A 330ml can of coke was £1.10 (2.09), Whisky and Gin started at £ 2 ($3.80) the cocktail of the day was £2.50 ($4.75), draught beer £2.25 ($4.27), lager £1.85 ($3.51) and specialty coffees such as a Latte £1.45 ($2.75). These prices include gratuities, unlike US lines that add 15%. Moreover if you have sailed with P&O before and are a member of the Portunus Club you get 5% or more off all on board spend, reducing drinks prices even further. While we didn’t use it, internet pricing is quite low starting at 30 pence ($0.57) per minute for ad-hoc use reducing to 16 pence ($0.30) if you buy 100 minutes. Most public lounges are wireless access zones. The shows were of a good standard. The three production shows were Best of the West End, The Knights of Rock and Roll and Le Cirque Arcadia. Bobby Knutt was a very popular comedian who did two shows, and the other two shows were singer Carlo Paul Santana and illusionists The Twins. The port presentations were excellent and not exclusively shopping talks as on many US cruise lines. Embarkation and disembarkation were very efficient. We embarked within 15 minutes of arriving at the check in desk line and were disembarked and in our car in the car park only 25 minutes after we were called at 8.35am. Minus Points: - So few they seem very minor: The three-level Atrium seems poorly decorated making it seem even smaller than it is. In particular a curtain blocks the view from one side of the piano bar to the other which is annoying when people enjoying the music quiz from the non-smoking starboard side of the ship can’t see the pianist. We felt that the other musicians on board were not very well balanced, and never found one to our tastes but that is a personal thing.  

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