Arcadia has an interesting background and at the end of 2013 sailed into a new chapter of its life thanks to a £34 million refit, which transformed different areas of the vessel and created 24 new cabins on an underused section of the Sun Deck. Other changes included a new-look shopping area, top deck bar and late-night dancing venue, plus the introduction of the Asian-themed restaurant East.
Unlike P&O's purpose-built vessels, Arcadia was originally ordered in 2000 by Holland America Line, destined to become the fifth Vista-class ship. Then it was allocated to Cunard as the next Queen Victoria, before being launched in 2005 under the P&O brand. (Ship aficionados can spot tell-tale signs of its previously intended guise, such as an adapted Cunard-style funnel). The atrium is also smaller, and not quite the heart of the ship as it is on its sister vessels. However, that really is a very small point as Arcadia offers a raft of attractive facilities including excellent entertainment and top-notch speciality dining to appeal to P&O's mature and predominantly British passengers who rate style, ambience and a relaxed atmosphere over gimmicks and adrenaline-fuelled activities.
Arcadia is one of the line's three adult-only vessels and became one of the first P&O ships to offer weddings because its Bermudian registry allows captains to marry couples at sea.
Based in Southampton and sailing on a variety of itineraries from short taster cruises to round-the-world voyages, the bright (but tasteful) refit brings Arcadia in line with the fleet's newer vessels.