P&O Cruises


Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

P&O Cruises
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeSmall

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.Read More

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.

  • 11 passenger decks
  • 2 specialty restaurants
  • dining room
  • buffet
  • Safe
  • DVD (some)
  • Wi-Fi
  • 2 pools
  • Fitness classes
  • gym
  • hot tubs
  • sauna
  • spa
  • steam room
  • 14 bars
  • casino
  • dance club
  • library
  • show room
  • Dry-cleaning
  • laundry facilities
  • laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • Wi-Fi
  • No kids under 18
  • No-smoking cabins


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
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

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins


Accommodations in all categories have adequate storage space in closets and drawers and feature a vanity desk, flat-screen TV, safe, hair dryer, refrigerator, tea/coffeemaker, and telephone, but standard cabins are slightly smaller than the corresponding categories on the HAL Vista class, the platform on which this ship was based. Outside cabins with balconies and some of the larger standard inside and nonbalcony outside cabins also have a small seating area with a sofa. A refit in 2008 added additional aft-facing balcony staterooms.

All cabins and suites are tastefully decorated in light woods and pastel tones. Although the colors throughout tend to be somewhat bland, they are soothing. The balconies in suites and minisuites are generous enough in size to have tables and chairs suitable for dining.

Suites have larger seating areas and balconies than regular outside cabins. In addition, they have a trouser press, ironing board, DVD player, whirlpool tub, and a separate shower. Full-suite bathrooms feature dual sinks and a dressing area, which are nice touches. Suite occupants enjoy the added services of a butler.

Thirty cabins are wheelchair accessible.

Food & Drink


In the main dining room, breakfast and lunch are open seating; dinner is offered at two assigned seatings. Two specialty restaurants serve dinner nightly and lunch on sea days (reservations only, extra charge). The buffet restaurant is open 24 hours a day; an outdoor grill is another option for lunches and light snacks. Outdoor barbecues are offered on certain days. There is a charge for room service. Arcadian Rhodes, the extra-charge specialty restaurant, is the creation of Gary Rhodes, one of Britain’s most popular contemporary chefs. Take a stroll up to the Orchid Bar and Orchid Restaurant, a select dining venue serving Asian fusion dishes.


Arcadia has many a place to happily spend an hour or two: Caffè Vivo, the Piano Bar, and the Rising Sun pub to name but a few. Every evening there’s entertainment in the Palladium Theater, as well as a casino, dance club, and Globe lounge, where entertainment may be anything from comedy to live music.

Spa & Fitness

The Oasis Spa on the Lido deck is the place to be to soothe stiff muscles in the hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite or in the nearby Neptune and Aquarius pools, which are on the same deck. A full roster of treatments is on offer as well. A new ocean-view gymnasium is outfitted with workout machines and weights for daily exercise.

Key cruising tips


Entered Service
Number of Cabins
Passenger Capacity
Crew Members
Passengers to Crew Ratio
Gross Tons
96 feet
936 feet

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