Arcadia world cruise 2014 Auckland to Southampton
We returned to UK from a month touring in NZ by 51 days on Arcadia. This was our first time on P and O and we chose this cruise because of the port calls which seemed to us a wish list of many places in the world we wanted to see and we were not disappointed. Sadly, the planned calls to Egypt could not take place because of the security situation; P and O substituted Sallalah in Muscat which was a waste of time as the majority of passengers did not get off the ship, and also Aqaba, which gave us an excursion to Petra and was the high point of the trip.
We liked: our cabin (E deck next to midships gangway), the promenade deck, some of the lectures and entertainment, the art tutor, the Captain who is outstandingly good, reception staff, the port presentations, the excursions we took. The entertainments staff worked hard but there is a great reliance on quizzes. Headliners theatre company are very good, but on a long trip you eventually get repeats of the same show. The ship is modern and comfortable but not glitzy. Disembarkation was rapid and efficient.
We disliked: the food, quality was very variable. In particular, preparation and cooking of vegetables and selection was poor (‘not peas again’). For vegetarians it was difficult. Meridian restaurant menus became somewhat predictable. Belvedere self service was often over busy and with bizarre choices, some days lots of curries, other days none at all, some days plenty of non meat choices, other days none at all. The beauty salon is over priced and not very good, I had a poor experience myself and heard many unhappy stories from other women passengers.
We would have liked: better lecture choices, (there was rather a lot of history of the second world war), an experienced choir leader and I was surprised that the ship does not carry a chaplain.
A lot of passengers seemed to be ill towards the end of the cruise. While P and O do have some hygiene procedures in place, they do not enforce rigorously, nor remind people as often as they need to. I think there is specific problem on a world cruise, where new groups of passengers, up to 600 at a time, are embarking for a particular sector, and bring with them a lovely selection of winter infections which they then fail to keep to themselves. Those of us who had been away from the UK since January did not stand a chance.
Overall this was a successful cruise which met our expectations but we would probably not travel with P and O again, as we now know that we prefer smaller ships with fewer passengers.