Having been on 15 wonderful cruises with P&O, on Oriana, Aurora, Artemis, Adonia and Oceana, the one we've just taken on Arcadia will sadly be our last with P&O.
It was lovely go on her right after her refit, as we were the first in the cabin with it's new curtains, beds and carpets. Huge cabin tv for those who want it!
The Crow's Nest had been very nicely redone... you've never seen so much fluff from all the new carpets! but it was a bonus all the new furniture, curtains, carpets in so many areas of the ship.
P&O have always had such high cleanliness standards that the fact Arcadia was in many areas throughout the cruise 'grubby' glared at you, due to it not being the case normally. Our balcony was filthy from start to finish and lots of the new paint was flaking off on the decks, there were paint splats everywhere and little piles of screws, bits of plastic etc all over the place.
Cleary crew numbers have been drastically cut again as nearly all the crew looked shattered from the off. The entertainment crew were excellent, their pantomine superb, the crew show - of which they formed a lot of the acts - was first class and they were great fun at deck coits and shuffleboard. The tours crew were lovely and very helpful and cheerful. Receptionists the same. Our cabin steward was the best we've ever had.
Trouble is.... the message we constantly got was.... all the cut backs ie the axing of keynote speakers - we had ONE speaker on Concord ALL the way out (3rd P&O cruise in a row) and ONE only ALL the way back, an ex policeman on crime etc; the abolition of craft classes... newbie ents chap turns up with one box of... very basic, very uninmaginative - QVC bog standard and very cheap according to another passenger - not hard to believe that was true!! - boxes of card making, quilling and glass painting and says 'that's it, we are charging £6.60-£9.50 and you get on with it!! 15-20 women get up immeadiately and walk out, me included!! are because it's what the 'new generation' cruisers want or rather DON'T want!!,
Freedom dining, great but... to accommodate that it meant the set dining meals came out ready plated looking like below average pub grub.... the vegetable bill must have been slashed by 90% as, and I kid you not... only one small roast potato given... one small new potato cut in half.... 4 french beans and 2 wet clearly frozen or, woefully over cooked carrots as the veg!! you got 2 slices of courgette as a vegetable, ONE 1 1/2 ich foret of broccoli!! You could ask for more, our over worked waiters told us... they of course have been given more tables to wait on so you are lucky to get 'a good evening' out of them as they hurtle around trying to get it all done! If you did, it caused mayhem and several times the answer came back 'the kitchen says NO'!! a medium steak came very rare, when queried the answer was... the chef says that's it, that's medium!!!! it was VERY rare and was not changed!! For the first time ever the tired, dead eyed waiters actually answered passengers back! I sympathise as the took the brunt of everyone's dismay at the axing of the silver service. I don't know what is more pathetic... P&O thinking any passenger would for a second believe the plated dinner was to improve food presentation and allow passengers more time to talk to their waiters (a letter in the cabins stated this) or the fact they actually PAY someome to write such drivel!!!! The cheese board has gone.. plated - 3 choices of cheeses in little triangles but NO variation, you want stilton, only if it's on that day!! you dont' want the other cheeses, just leave them!! The size of portion given as a starter was SO small is caused a lot of laughter around the table....
Food in the Belvedere was good and our breakfasts fine and enjoyable.
Ironically the tours we did were excellent and I highly recommend the Americas cup sailing boat race and the Barbados photography tour.
We were told by all levels of crew (some senior) that the changes/reductions/limitations were here to stay, no point voicing opinions as they will have no effect... if you don't fit the 'new generation' profile then.... well 'go elsewhere' we all assumed so WE WILL!! another 4 high level, long term cruisers gone for good but clearly P&O don't care, so nor will we... I just feel so sorry for the crew.