Parking in Southampton..smooth and troublefree with ACP. Embarkation comfortable and quick. Dumped hand luggage in cabin early and joined bunfight in buffet.
The cabin was comfortable even though showing signs of wear. Cabin staff were fantastic. Bar staff friendly and efficient. Restaurant staff were mostly efficient and smiling. Buffet staff were also competent. My main problem lay with the variable and inconsistent quality of the cooking... more so in the restaurant than the buffet where perhaps one's expectations were lower. Having spent a lifetime working with food and drink , I was not expecting perfection, but what I found occasionally would not have been served up in the worst of greasy spoon cafes. The syndrome of "Lovely menu, pity about the cooking" was perfectly illustrated aboard Arcadia. The overcooked fish, lacklustre steaks and soggy vegetables were all to common in the restaurant. Even the speciality restaurants MPW's Ocean Grill and the Orchid, were more about dazzling us with presentation and intrusive service than the quality of cooking.
We enjoyed leisurely breakfasts , relaxed lunches and unhurried dinners more in the Belvedere buffet than the Meridian restaurants as there were no pretensions to fine food,everything was edible, and we avoided the frenetic pace of the Meridian.
Much of the port visiting experience ran like a well oiled machine, as one would expect; even though one felt that the time in port was curtailed by late arrivals or early departures. which rather detracts from the point of visiting these ports. Disembarkation was I hear somewhat chaotic for some. We just got off when we were ready ignoring P and O's insistence on passengers hanging around for hours in the forward theatre. Did we enjoy the cruise? Yes.!