We have cruised on Arcadia several times but could not help noticing how some standards on the ship have declined on the last cruise. This did not alter the fact that overall we enjoyed the experience.
Our first moan was that we had to wait for at least 20 minutes in the car before we could unload the luggage. It appeared that this was due to there not being enough drivers to park the car. Our last cruise was on Celebrity Eclipse in May and the unloading/parking method used then would eliminate this wait. We drove up to the unloading point, our luggage was removed, we parked the car and walked back to the ship, making a note of where we parked the car. This made it a lot easier when we arrived back as we did not have to search for the car.
The reception was very good. As we are Portunus Gold Members we more or less booked straight in, straight through security and were directed to the Orchid Restaurant where we had champagne and light bites before going to our cabin -â€" a deluxe balcony cabin which we have had before.
The carpet was not clean, although the rest of the cabin was fine. This time there were no slippers or bath robes as had been advertised in the brochure, only a small gerbera in a silver vase which lasted less than a week and a few boiled sweets. Storage space is adequate but would be a tight squeeze for a World Cruise. We made extra space by removing the wooden hangers provided, storing them in a suitcase under the bed, and used our own plastic hangers. The TV was tiny (14 inch) and very difficult to read even from a short distance. A good supply of tea, coffee and biscuits was available. The bathroom was adequate - a fair amount of storage space but the shower is over the bath with a horrible curtain which inevitably sticks to you. My DIY husband remedied this by fixing a rope across. Would it be too much to have a fixed screen, I ask? The balcony was roomy, plenty of space for two loungers and two small tables. We did not meet our cabin steward till the evening of our first full day when we mentioned the carpet. Her reply was that she did not have a vacuum cleaner! Well on top of that and our first lunch in the Belvedere (see below) I made a complaint at reception. All the points I mentioned were attended to : the restaurant manager phoned me as did the accommodation supervisor and there were no more queues at lunch time and our steward got her vacuum cleaner but not without a reprimand for telling us too much!
Our dinner was in the lower Meridian restaurant but the standard of service, which was very slow, and the variety of food choice were of a lower standard than on previous cruises. The wine service was the worst we have ever had -â€" the white wine was served warm every time we had it, in spite of us asking the wine waiter to make sure it was cold and the red wine seemed as though it had come out of the oven! Because of the slow service the only time we had a full dinner was on the nights when we decided not to go to the theatre and we could enjoy the coffee and petit fours.
We had a most enjoyable dinner in the Orchid Restaurant -â€" excellent service, including the wine, and excellent food but that comes with a cover charge.
Other nights we had dinner in the Belvedere (buffet style) which had much improved since our last cruise on Arcadia with places being set at the tables with glasses and cutlery, and water was served by a waiter. The wine service was good and the wine was served at the correct temperature. Tea and coffee were also served at the table.
We had lunch once in the Belvedere as the experience on our first day was not enjoyable. I had to queue for 10 minutes to get salad as only one side of the buffet was open. I fancied some chips with my salad but I took one look at the queue where the hot food was served and did not want another 10 minute wait. I went back to our table where my husband was waiting. He got me some chips as the other side of the buffet had opened but they were stone cold and soggy as they were any other time we tried them. When we went to make our tea there were no teaspoons and no milk!! Instead of lunch from then on we had afternoon tea which was a more enjoyable experience with a fair range of choice. I was also disappointed to see that as there was no check on the entrance to the Belvedere to ensure that everyone used the hand sanitising gel. Very few people did in fact use it. Could this have been the reason that so many passengers had colds?
The theatre is lovely, better than some West End ones, but to be sure of getting a good seat it looks as though you have to leave dinner early which is a shame as dinner should be a sociable occasion. In Celebrity Eclipse dinner was 15 minutes earlier and the theatre started, I think, at 9pm which we found to be more relaxing. Like a lot of others who have sailed on Arcadia a few times we were getting bored with the resident group "The Headliners", same old performances, good dancing but awful singing. The guest artists were, with one or two exceptions, very good. We thoroughly enjoyed the classical concerts but the piano was at right angles to the audience with the result you could not see the pianist's hands. In fact the pianist was in silhouette most of the time! We spoke to the pianist and she too was unhappy with the position of the piano. When I asked her if she had mentioned it to the Cruise Director she said she had not met her! Surely, the Cruise Director, Tracy Clegg, should have met all the Artists? Her deputy, Magic Martin, did not help matters any, when, one night as he was introducing the pianist said, "Welcome to the Globe Theatre" when in fact we were in the Crow's Nest and to make matters worse he did not call for an encore which is standard practice. I think these two would be better suited to organising Bingo!
The Ports were on the whole very good. We organised all our own excursions but I would only recommend doing that if you were accustomed to cruising and had done a fair bit of research beforehand. It rained on our first day in New York (the only port where we had rain) but we still enjoyed our stay there. We walked to Central Park on our second day and had a great time but as we were too exhausted to walk back hailed a yellow taxi with little effort and the fare was only about $7. Bar Harbor was the port we enjoyed most -â€" absolutely picturesque. It is a "must see"! As the fog was very thick in St. John, New Brunswick, we stayed on board and were later told there was not much to see. We had a tremendous start to our stay in St John's (Newfoundland & Labrador) where we had the best welcome party yet - two girls and two men in ancient military uniforms, two mounted police on lovely black horses and to top it all one gi-normous Newfoundland dog and a black Labrador. Not much to see there but enjoyed the walk. The send-off we received was also worthy of mention -â€" soldiers in ancient military dress were high up on Signal Hill where they fired their muskets as we sailed away with the sun still shining. This coincided with our early dinner time which we decided to forego and dined in the Belvedere. The food, Indian buffet, was good but as usual was lukewarm.
We paid for 14 days at the thermal spa which we always enjoy and it is the only draw which would make us return to Arcadia unless there is a complete makeover. There are plenty of other ships which are much better managed. After the long walks we had on shore days it was so relaxing to have a soak in the hydro-therapy pool and then lie on the thermal beds looking out to the sea, allowing our tired muscles to recover at leisure.
The public rooms and bars were all satisfactory but I do wish that there was more space for those who want simply to read without being bombarded with canned music or other noise. We spent a fair amount of our morning time in the Spinnaker Bar mainly because it now serves Costa coffee with some of the muffins seen in UK. One rather weird event which happened during our stay in New York - we noticed that the muffins were not on show as usual and when we asked the waiter why he replied that the American port authorities considered the selling of the muffins as unhygienic! Why should they have any control over what we eat on board? We and the waiter thought that the selling of food on the New York streets was more in need of criticism!