We are in our seventies and have sailed on Arcadia twice before about 5 years ago. We chose this cruise because we wanted to visit Capetown. We arranged our own flights from Edinburgh to Singapore via Frankfurt with Lufthansa. Flights were excellent. We also had arranged three extra nights in Singapore staying at Traders Hotel. We can recommend this hotel not far from Orchard Road, and they run a free shuttle bus to Orchard Road. We organised a taxi to take us to the ship. Luggage was dropped off at the new cruise terminal which is still not complete. We were then taken by coach to the ship which was at the container terminal. The check in procedure was fast and efficient.
STATEROOM. Our cabin was a disappointment because of lack of drawer space. small bathroom and no cushions for the settee. Same grade cabins on Ventura, Azura and Aurora are much better. Also no interactive TV. TV shows were repeated frequently throughout the voyage. Furniture on the balcony was only just OK.
DINING. The food varied from good to awful in both the Meridian and Ocean Grill. We opted to do the Nelson wine night to complement the food in Ocean Grill. My steak was overdone, dry and tough. Most of it was left on the plate. Another time, lobster was a soft mush.It was either off or overcooked. Generally the food was overcooked, particularly the vegetables. Reading the menu can make the food sound good but there were occasions that you were served something different to what you had expected. Food in the Orchid was very good. Meridian food was sent back on two nights. Generally we find steaks not good so we tend to stick to seafood.
MENU CHOICE. The menus have been changed to offer more main courses instead of the two alternatives that used to be available. Popular choices such as Prawn Cocktails were on the menu once in 35 nights. Passengers began to inspect the menus in the morning to decide whether to visit an alternative restaurant that night. It was obvious when the menu choices were not good as it was always difficult to get a table at the alternatives on such a day. In our case we found it necessary to dine elsewhere on eight occasions. We asked for mint chocolates with our coffee. We were told it couldn't be done so we bought our own ashore. Mints were served one night.
PORTIONS. One day haddock was on the menu at lunch time. We opted for this. I was served what I reckon was a 1/4 of a haddock. I requested in writing to be advised how many portions were obtained from one fish - still waiting for a reply! After this I seemed to get larger portions than my wife.
ACTIVITIES. My wife loved the 'Murder who done it' but we did not participate in any other activities.
STAFF & SERVICE. Were both excellent. Inedible food was replaced if you wished with something more palatable without question. Cabin was kept clean and tidy.
ENTERTAINMENT. Headliners were very good as were most other acts. One comedian was past his sell by date. The second seating show at 10.30pm is too late and needs to be moved to 7.15pm for 2nd sitting diners. There were always lots of empty seats.
SHORE EXCURSIONS. We participated in only one - Signal Hill at Sunset with canopies and champagne at Â£70 each. The champagne turned out to be cheap sparkling wine and the canopies were nibbles and pretzels. We had bought a two day ticket on the open top bus in Capetown and discovered that we could have done this same tour free of charge on the bus.
DISEMBARKATION.We had a flight booked which meant we had to be in the first slot to get off at 9am. I went to the purser desk several days before arriving in Southampton to make this request only to be told that slot was full - first come first serve. After some pressure, we were placed in the first slot.
SUMMARY. The ship is tired. I believe that Arcadia missed its refurbishment slot due to Oriana overrunning time wise. Refurbishment was being carried out throughout the voyage with new carpets being laid etc. The main draw back to this voyage was the presence of what became known as the 'Arcadia Cough'. Many passengers were struck down with this, myself within 3 days of boarding. It lasted about 3/4 weeks and some full Odyssey passengers had it more than once.
I suspect that the air conditioning had something to do with it. I regarded this as worse than norovirus which clears up after a few days. On the brighter side, I did manage to lose some weight! We are booked on a world leg on Aurora next year so hope the food and menus and mints are sorted out in time for that.
Please note Carol Marlow.