Passengers who prefer traditional cruise entertainment will find plenty to amuse them in the Palladium Theatre, which spans the stern end of Decks 2 and 3. This forum stages musical cruise shows like "Knights of Rock and Roll," "The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber" and "Best of the West End." Classical music recitals and jazz/big band concerts are also offered here, in the Crow's Nest or in The Globe cabaret theatre.
Devotees of coarse alternative comedy may enjoy the late-night comic in The Globe cabaret space (sited -- appropriately enough -- on F Deck), but I found the material surprisingly blue for a cruise ship, and -- more unforgivably -- not particularly funny.
Arcadia also has an enormous casino, and offers karaoke sessions in the Rising Sun Pub for those who enjoy that sort of thing (if you like pubs but prefer to drink in peace, there is a small cozy area just outside).
There are also the inevitable art auctions; and shopaholics are well served by the Piccadilly shopping area on Deck 3, which offers the usual logo goods, scents, jewelry and cosmetics, as well as designer swimwear, Fossil bags and Frank Usher evening wear (from 153 GBP for a sparkly top).
Shore excursion options on my sailing from London (Southampton) to Spain, Madeira and the Canary Islands ranged from a 15 GBP per person walking tour of Cadiz to 42 GBP for a tram ride around the Old Quarter of Lisbon, followed by a sherry and cake tasting. The most expensive available was a 46 GBP per person "Tapas in Tenerife" coach tour from Santa Cruz, taking in the Arafo mountain range and Mount Teide in the south and the Esperanza Forest to the north before visiting a wine museum for tapas and a wine tasting.
In fairness, passengers were not pressured to join shore trips; the cruise featured a very informative port lecturer who gave lots of tips for go-it-aloners, and sensible maps and port information were provided.
Arcadia Public Rooms
The Orchid Bar, adjacent to the Orchid restaurant on Sky Deck (11), with its warm terracotta, rust, chocolate and cream decor, bamboo bar and long windows is, for my money, the ship's most attractive watering hole. You can enjoy a sundowner there even if you're not dining in the restaurant, and it would make a lovely venue for a reception following a wedding in the Viceroy Room (Deck 10).
This is an appropriate setting for nuptials with its soft cream and "old gold" decor, and it has an outdoor area with teak tables and latticed planters for couples who prefer an alfresco celebration.
Next to the Viceroy Room, the Crow's Nest Lounge offers panoramic views, and though it's larger and less intimate than the Orchid, this is to some extent disguised by clever use of dividers. But it only really comes to life later in the evening, when fiercely-contested quizzes are held there around 11 p.m.
Lower down the ship on Prom Deck (3), Cafe Vivo provides a place to meet up and enjoy coffee and cakes for passengers busy bargain hunting in the Piccadilly shopping zone, taking classes in the New Horizons suite (see Entertainment), visiting the library or getting connected at the Cyb@Centre Internet cafe.
Unfortunately, its lack of natural light, uncomfortably tall seats and tables and rather drab brown walls don't make it very conducive to relaxation. And while sandwiches and cakes are free, teas and coffees are expensive -- 1.95 GBP for a large cappuccino and 1.15 GBP for herbal tea. That's far too much for a teabag in hot water.
The Intermezzo Bar near Arcadian Rhodes restaurant on F Deck (2) is a prettier setting for a drink, with stylish deep plum velvet sofas, aubergine chairs, pale walnut veneered walls, and striking red and blue cracked glass panels.
The Spinnaker Bar (also on Deck 2 outside the lower level of the Meridien Restaurant) attempts a nautical air, and has a brass ship's bell at its entrance. But though its intricate scale models of old clipper ships and lovely James Naughton seascapes are well worth a look, the bar itself feels oddly bland, a side-effect of the modern trend towards open-plan ship's facilities, which all too often makes bars feel like corridors with seats.
Arcadia's large-windowed library on Promenade Deck (3) incorporates a branch of Waterstone's bookshop and offers a good selection of free-to-use books, talking book CD's and cassettes, and a more limited choice of DVD's and music CD's.
The nearby Cyb@Centre has plenty of computers but charges a lot for Internet access; just to get online the first time costs a 1.95 GBP "activation fee," and thereafter pay as you go rates are .30 GBP per minute. Packages are available (50 minutes for 10.50 GBP and 100 minutes for 16 GBP), but these are still steep enough to make it worth your while to track down an Internet Cafe ashore.
Arcadia Spa & Fitness
The Oasis Spa on Lido Deck has a large gymnasium overlooking Arcadia's prow, and with 10 treadmills, four bikes, three rowers and four cross-trainers, there is enough equipment to minimize waiting times.
At the other end of this deck is the Aquarius Pool, with two whirlpools and substantial sunbathing space. Just outside the Oasis Spa is the glass-roofed Neptune Pool, a roomy but oddly charmless facility with rather stark blue and cream decor, and, despite the fact that it has a bar, the air of a public bath.
However, it provides a large enough pool for a decent workout and two free saunas, and from 10 GBP per person, you can spend up to two hours wallowing in the hydrotherapy pool, aromatic steam rooms, heated loungers and scented showers of a very attractive Thermal Suite. (Use of this gets cheaper the more often you go; a cruise pass for a daily session costs 60 GBP on a 14-night cruise).
As ever, spa health and beauty treatments are priced at roughly 1 GBP a minute or more (though even at these rates, Arcadia remains less expensive than some of the big cruise ships). Facials cost from 55 GBP, massages from 60 GBP, while a "Palm Ritual" (otherwise known as a manicure) costs 30 GBP and a "Cloud Walking Ritual" (ditto a pedicure) is 40 GBP.
There are also charges for Pilates and Yoga classes (5 GBP a session), though aerobics, Legs, Bums & Tums classes remain free, and there are some complimentary lectures on nutrition.
For 29 GBP, yummy mummies can make like Gwyneth Paltrow at the ship's small "Diversions" Kinesis gym on Sundeck (10), which works on a system of stretchwires and pulleys; T'ai Chi, Yoga and dance classes are held in The Retreat, a large white-curtained space also on Deck 10.
Golf lessons are also available up at the golf nets, for 15 GBP a session.
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