This was our first cruise on Arcadia but our tenth cruise altogether - our fifth on P&O. Our other main cruise line is Celebrity. We did cruise this specifically to get some experience of Arcadia; on this occasion the itinerary was secondary. Quite a bit of this review compares facilities, etc, on Arcadia with the equivalent on Ventura.
Embarkation: Very quick and easy, we were only waiting in the Ocean terminal for about 5 minutes, barely long enough to complete the health declaration. We were on the ship by 12:30 or so, I think.
Cabin: We had a stern-facing balcony cabin, D187. Again, we'd specifically picked this cabin to try out a cabin facing aft. The cabin itself was fine: roomy and comfortable. I think we still prefer the Ventura cabin with the walk-in hanging area (even though that does reduce the rest of the cabin space a bit) but I'm not complaining about the Arcadia cabin. We were however a little disappointed in the balcony. It so happens that D deck stern cabin balconies are completely covered by the cabin & balcony above. The D Deck balconies are bigger than standard - longer - but this just made it seem a long, shadowy & gloomy place. Not a problem on a short English Channel in mid-September, however, because we used it very little. If I was to cruise on Arcadia again, I'd either pick a different deck and have a stern cabin or (more likely) pick a cabin on one of the sides.
Internal Facilities: We really, really liked Arcadia's internal spaces. We felt that the bars (Spinnaker, Intermezzo and Piano) were better than the equivalent spaces on Ventura - they felt more welcoming and the decor was very restful. We also enjoyed The Rising Sun much than The Exchange - the latter is big barn of a space, whereas the Rising Sun is split into smaller areas, more like a real pub. We had a fun evening in there on the Saturday. We also really liked the Crows Nest, especially during the daytime. At night it wasn't so impressive - too big, perhaps - and we felt that the night-club acts performing there were struggling to create any atmosphere. Ventura's Metropolis works much better in the evening, I think (Although in the daytime Metropolis feels like a closed nightclub.). We also enjoyed just walking around Arcadia - we very much liked the decor, and we thought that the art work on display was stunning. Finally we spent a short while in The Globe late on Saturday night. Da joint wuz jumping, but sadly we were very tired by that time so we forbore from joining in. However, many people appeared to be enjoying themselves greatly.
Deck spaces: obviously on a three night English Channel cruise in September, the open decks aren't going to get much use. We enjoyed the Promenade, however, and walked round it several times. It's wider than Ventura's and is all on one level, so score one to Arcadia here. We also visited the open area on the Lido deck around the Aquarius pool. This didn't work so well for us. It got very busy at times - this was where the entertainment team did their sailaway thing - and we also had some difficulty getting away from the smokers. We decided we prefer the Terrace on Ventura. But it wasn't a bad deck on Arcadia.
The Neptune Pool stayed covered thoughout this cruise, so it felt a bit like an indoor swimming baths. Not its fault - in the Med it would be different, I'm sure.
Eating & Restaurants: We were on a table for 8 on the upper level of the Meridian restaurant. We enjoyed the restaurant - we prefer larger multi-level restaurants to multiple smaller ones - and the food was fine. We ate all our dinners here.
For breakfasts and lunches we ate in the Belvedere. We found this area confusing - it took us several visits to realise that different areas were serving different things. Also there didn't seem to be many seats. The first 15 minutes on board were especially chaotic. But the food was OK - I don't ask much for breakfasts and lunches.
We had a coffee in Caffe Vivo. We thought this space was small, cramped, dingy, and generally horrible. It was the only place in the ship that we really didn't like. We greatly preferred Tazzine on Ventura.
We didn't eat in either the Orchid or Arcadian Rhodes restaurants.
Entertainment: we didn't visit the theatre.
Ports of Call: Zeebrugge and Le Havre. For the first day we just went into BlankenBerge on the shuttle bus and wandered the town. Then at midday we found a bar where had a couple of drinks before finding a restaurant, and eventually staggering back to the ship. Other passengers said later that Bruges had been absolutely packed, so we were pleased with what we'd done. On the second day we stayed on board all day - we didn't set foot off it. We didn't fancy the long slog to Paris and back, nor the visits to Rouen or Honfleur. So in the morning we really explored the ship and took pictures, then after lunch we parked ourselves in the Crows Nest and spent the afternoon there, reading and relaxing. There was enough activity in the Crows Nest to make it feel occupied, but not so much that it felt busy. This was a wonderful relaxing time.
Other: We were pleased to see that almost 100% observance of the dress code on the formal night.
Conclusion: we enjoyed this cruise very much, and we'd be very happy to cruise on Arcadia again.