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5 P&O Cruises Arcadia Holiday Cruise Reviews

Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait ... Read More
Arcadia cruise 9-20 December 2014 cruise J421 Our first impression was a good one as we arrived at the new Mayflower Teminal. It is very well designed and set out, much improved on the "shed" we were in in 2008. We had to wait two hours for a friend who was joining us but had lost his passport. We were guided to comfortable seats in a roped off area complete with brass stands, brass knobs and royal blue rope. There were refreshments and a ringside view of everyone coming and going. We booked this cruise at future cruise sales when we were on Aurora in June. I use a mobility scooter and need to book an adapted cabin so it was agreed at the time of booking that cabin C2 would be suitable to my needs. I had the scooter with me when we booked. Despite this and filling in all the forms in advance, when we checked in P&O reckoned we were not in a cabin suited to a scooter so another 40 mins while they sorted that one out. Eventually we got on board and after checking the cabin made our way to the Belvedere Buffet for a very tasty lunch. Good first impression on the food, even for my partner who is vegetarian, something very few caterers understand. Muster drill was a bit of a comedy. They kept announcing to keep the lifts for for the lame and lazy but they were full of the fit.  I eventually got into a lift with a woman in her nineties but the lift would not go where we wanted and took us up and down ad nauseam. We were in there so long her father was waiting for us when we got out to demand I make an honest woman of her. You might be surprised at the number of people complaining about what a farce having a muster drill was, you would think that after the Costa Concordia disaster they would see it in a different light. We were on Freedom Dining and it felt like they were operating a smart wheeze at dinner. When you arrive you are given a pager and told there is a half hour wait so "you might be more comfortable waiting in one of the bars". We had just bought a drink when the pager went off. Less than ten minutes, they must have really upped the drinks revenue. We were all pleased with dinner but that awful refined diesel oil that they try to pass for butter had followed us from the last cruise. Thankfully the buffet had little pats of Irish butter so we smuggled some out. We came back after lunch to a letter for each of us accusing us how not having registered a credit card and threatening to stop our credit. This has happened every time we have sailed with P&O despite all the rigmarole of them swiping cards and taking signatures at check in. It turns out that the P&O computer system could not cope with my partner's name which starts O'R...... They do not do apostrophes and said he would need to change the spelling to Or..... I presume he cannot be the only traveller with an apostrophe and as it has been causing problems for us since 2008 I am sure it could have been sorted. The cabin was fine and the steward kept on top of it but it really needed a good deep clean as there was a lot of fluff going back a long time under the bed and settee. There were a couple of inexcusable problems in the bathroom. A very badly scored toilet seat, the scores yellow with urine and a mouldy bathmat. We complained and they were replaced. The food onboard ship has been excellent. Every morsel tasty, good quality and well cooked. A hundred times better than our first Arcadia Christmas 2008. Then we paid £5700 for a balcony cabin for the two of us and parted with the money as we believed they would really push the boat out (if you will pardon the pun) but apart from a wallet "from Santa" tossed unwrapped onto the bed there was nothing extra. On that cruise there was a standing joke about being served potato croquettes and carrot medallions at every meal and by the end of the cruise it was not a joke, it was a recurring horror story. That was the one where at afternoon tea, William, the vegetarian got two slices of bread with just a rocket leaf! He asked if he could not at least have a cheese sandwich and was told he should have given 24 hours notice for that.  So well done Arcadia, you have redeemed yourselves. One of the highlights in the Palladium theatre was a great male singing quartet. Former West End Musical singers who have formed a group. Their performance was amazing on the first night hence the reason we headed off early and camped out in the front row for their next show.  Check our fourtunes.com Ports Our first port was Vigo. A tip for disabled visitors. Ask any taxi driver on the rank to call you an accessible cab and they phone "Eurocabs" for you. I was able to drive my scooter right into the cab. There is a €5 cover charge but it was only an extra €4 to take us to the top of the town. Porto was next. Another tip for disabled visitors. It is very hilly you might make it down to the railway station with its magnificent tile murals and the cathedral, great views of the river from there and the port producers on the opposite bank. If you go further down be prepared to get a taxi back to the coach drop off. We have been to Cadiz many times and we were hoping for good weather to walk along the shore then make our way back into the city via the Roman Amphitheatre but the rain was torrential and relentless so we gave up and returned to the ship. At which tme the sun came out and we got an hour sitting out but it was short lived then back to rain. Malaga was a gem, What a lovely city. A great central shopping street, very stylish with all the top brands. A well developed port with an attractive marina, more shops cafes, bars and well kept beaches. At each corner an attractive square with beautiful historic buildings all very sympathetically preserved.  We took the accessible mini bus shuttle into the city but walked back through the marina and along the promendade. Do not be afraid to stop for refreshments in the marina, it is all very reasonable priced and they have the cutest, tamest sparrows that will eat out of your hand. We were told in the booking info that we would spend the morning in Gibraltar. Once the daily paper has been circulated we learned we dock at 7 and leave at 11.30. People tend to save their shopping for Gib as it is so British but as shops open at 10 there was just an hour before one needed to head back to port. My companions went up the Rock on the cable car but it was not accessible for me, too many steps. So I stayed in the car park below. I tried the Almeda Botanical  Gardens but same again, steps!. I guess that was to be expected from a settlement built for mountain goats.  They found the cable car quick and the top of the rock unusually quiet. The monkeys (Macaques) were there but much better behaved. There are signs up threatening. £4,000 fine for feeding them. There were babies, very cute, we have pictures. Protective adults, not very cute with threatening grimaces and great pictures of the view all around is it was such a clear morning. I was reading that the Macaque population had got out of control so they have introduced a system of modern birth control (Marie Stopes eat your heart out) and exported a few families to a park in Scotland. We had a wonderful day in Lisbon, 7 hours. My companions hired Segways from Red Tour Segways in Rua Dos Fanquieros, a man we have patronised for years.  I was impressed by the performance of my scooter but Lisbon being so flat the load was reduced a little despite carrying half the P&O buffet round my midriff. I set off with such good intention but the food is all so good!!!!! Measuring it out later the scooter did about 7 miles so just made it back to the cabin before the battery died. It is the one question people ask me all the time. "How many miles do you get out of it?" But there are so many variables it is almost impossible to answer.  I found a lovely local deli in a back street selling smelly fish and cheese and got some good wines for the couple who are looking after the car. We had Coffee and Nata, the Portugese custard tart, a Christmas speciality, at the St Nicholas cafe in the main pedestrian street that runs off Black Horse Square.  We had been warned about thieves and pickpockets but the biggest surprise was the number of men who sidled past muttering "cocaine? hashish? Marihuana?" I bet they shopped any tourists who bought drugs to the police for a cut of the profit as there were lots of Polis around who must have known what they were doing. I tried sidling up to people muttering "Sennacot? Omeprazole? Rennies?". Once the rush hour traffic was clear the streets were fairly quiet as there is a two day rail and metro strike on. To those of us who have been coming to Lisbon for many years you can see how badly it has suffered under the recession. Many empty shops and abandoned premises with older shopkeepers presiding over out of date stock that was once their livelihood. Many more beggars, local people and not addled with drink or drugs just abandoned by the state. They have made a good start with dropped pavements and are half way to full accessibility. Half way, in the you drive off the pavement and get to the other side of the crossing to be met by a 6inch kerb.  Then back to the ship and the two day cruise back to Southampton. All in all it was a good cruise. So we would definitely do Arcadia again after this one. Well done P&O .   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Embarkation. We boarded at The Ocean Terminal for the first time and found it to be excellent. The process of handing over the car the luggage and proceeding through check in and onto the ship was pretty well seamless. Arrived at terminal ... Read More
Embarkation. We boarded at The Ocean Terminal for the first time and found it to be excellent. The process of handing over the car the luggage and proceeding through check in and onto the ship was pretty well seamless. Arrived at terminal at about 11.15am and were on board by just after 12.30pm. I would have rated the process 5 but for the fact that there were about 400 Portunis Gold Club members, who, quite rightly had priority but given the numbers it took quite a while to process them. Service. We found to be excellent throughout the cruise and we were very well looked after by all the staff but particularly by our waiters Sebastian and Ajay on table 116 in the Meridian Lower Tier and by Loretta the chief bar keeper in the wonderful Rising Sun Pub. As mentioned in the cabin section our steward was first class. Food. On the whole was very good, as ever on P&O well presented and served. One or two issues with the Belvedere self service restaurant, probably the worst self serve out of Arcadia, Ventura and Oriana. In saying that my comments relate to breakfast and lunch, dining in the evening was good. The curry nights particularly were of a high standard. The two speciality restaurants are fabulous and well worth the cover charge, I am just sorry Gary Rhodes franchise is coming to an end. However, I am sure Marco Pierre White will do a fine job. Really we would love to see freedom dining across the fleet, I don't think you can get away from the fact that first sitting is too early and second is too late. Sitting at the same table with the same people at the same time is really quite low on our cruise wish list.Ports and excursions. The itinerary was superb and all the ports had something good to offer. New York was an undoubted highlight but they were all good. The excursions were varied interesting and reasonably priced. Particularly good was the JFK museum and library in Boston, the trip to Kennebunkport from Portland Maine,and, the Titanic experience in Halifax Nova Scotia. Entertainment. Absolutely the best on any cruise we have been on. The Cruise Director Tracy Clegg and her team (and a team is just what they were) gave their all. I have never known an entertainments team work so hard and so well. From Arcadia's version of Strictly Come Dancing to Quizzes and the ships own version of loose women called 'Loose lips' it was all fantastic. Our wonderful dance instructors Alan and Ginny Newman were lovely people, so kind and patient and they made learning to dance such fun. On the formal side Sam Kane, Brian Conley and the wonderful voice of Eve Sherratt were exactly what they are stars. I did hear a not of complaining the morning after one show, a comedian, and, I have seen something in a review on this site. However, cannot comment as were attended the dancing that evening. We both found the lecture programme varied and interesting, in fact some topics I would have not expected to be interesting turned out to be very good. Summary. Absolutely fantastic we loved it and will certainly never forget the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
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 ... Read More
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! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Have just returned from Barbados by aircraft, leaving the cruise-ship Arcadia to travel onwards to Alaska, before its return journey to Southampton sometime in June.All staff aboard the vessel were generally hard-working and polite, ... Read More
Have just returned from Barbados by aircraft, leaving the cruise-ship Arcadia to travel onwards to Alaska, before its return journey to Southampton sometime in June.All staff aboard the vessel were generally hard-working and polite, although in the Belvedere self-service restaurant the staff clearing or replenishing various items on trolleys, for some reason expected you to give way as you meandered through the facility. On other ships such staff usually give way and are therefore not really noticeable, but on the Arcadia they are part of the traffic problem, making the staff on other cruise operations somehow even more appreciated.The majority of senior staff - the one's wearing "whites" - were predominantly western European.Not wishing to cast any aspersions on recruitment policy or ladders of opportunity in the P&O operation, to me it just seemed slightly bizarre and rather out of kilter with modern ideology with just a few token non-Caucasian post-holders of junior rank.I became aware of what is seemingly important to the P&O operation and their regulars, by the daily activities on offer which we were alerted to in the very informative daily Horizons newsletter. I must emphasise that before making my booking I didn't complete a pre-cruise questionnaire as to my personal tastes, club or society membership, religious persuasion or general pastimes. So imagine my concern when we were alerted to a Masonic Lodge meeting in the Viceroy Room. I thought this little gathering was meant to be secret?There were other targeted sessions arranged for specific groups including a Rotary Club meeting, a Catholic Mass on the Sunday, various Bridge tournaments, whist-drives, a jigsaw group, and numerous other activities that are usually the preserve of the Women's Institute.In that respect, perhaps these bastions of UK society are where P&O advertise their adventures to this target group who seemingly appear to think that they are a cut above the rest of us. I myself like a little bit of Google-ing in my spare time - but P&O charge for this. I also like gardening, swimming and a bit of car maintenance. None of which were offered as on-board activities. They may argue that swimming was available, but their two dip-pools hardly catered for the monotony of doing lengths at your local pool. I can't really comment on many of the other activities such as the shows and lectures available throughout the day, as I didn't do any. All entertainment is optional, unless it's not entertaining and you wish it to be so. I have witnessed a few shows at sea and always come to the same conclusion that the shows could be dropped and thereby allow free internet access to the customers, and do away with the show-girls and resident bands and dubious guests and one-hit-wonders. I could go on about the P&O operation and no doubt will. However, the following little episode regarding the evening's dining arrangements just about sums it up, speaking volumes as to what this company is seemingly all about.During the booking process we had requested to be sat at a table for six on the second sitting, and the second sitting we got, although we were sat at a table for just 4. However, we were sat at least sat at Table Number 6. So perhaps it was a reasonable attempt on their part.Anyway, no confusion and no questions. Hand in card, sit were shown, and eat meal. Splendid.Unfortunately if you are sat at table number six with six as your preferred party size, then it is understandable to the mere mortals that conduct the restaurant operation that confusion can set in. And it set in the following evening when we were joined by a different couple. They explained that on the first night they had not shown up to dinner, as by 8.00pm neither had their luggage. We were then joined by couple number one from the previous evening although they seemed confused as the table now had all seats taken. Despite the confusion, we merely requested that we be reallocated to a table that would at least sit us all, only to be met with shockwaves from distraught restaurant staff. The unfolding incident quickly attracted the attention of the Restaurant Manager himself. His manner and overall demeanour may be engaging to some; brown-nosing the elite diners with his well-honed patter, but to deal with any issues that are somewhat beneath his station obviously caused him some distress. His general manner to the restaurant staff appeared to be a knock-back to the days of the Raj. I digress slightly, so please allow me to recount his opening line when he got wind of our table/party size issue."Did you book in 2009?"That's it.'Did I what?' sprang immediately to mind, but really his line of enquiry speaks volumes if not screams them, and as I let the enormity of his statement sink in. Just imagine for a minute, Gordon Ramsey being asked the same question as he sat in preparation for some culinary delights.I wish I could have responded in true-Ramseyesque fashion because boy did this grotty man deserve it."Did you book in 2009?""I'm sorry, what do you just say?"As if it matters when you book. Does it suggest a sliding scale of quality?Nobody at the table responded as they all appeared to be stunned by his line of enquiry. I suggested that a discussion wasn't really necessary and all they had to do was deal with the issue. And to be fair, they did just that and we were relocated to a different table and were even joined with a further two diners on the subsequent night. Perhaps this table may have been designated for troublemakers, riff-raff or general ne'erdowells. Who knows?Nevertheless, our dining experience appeared to be similar to that of other diners in the vicinity of our new location, although it was apparent that we weren't exactly fawned over like some of those earmarked as elite, with attentive waiters pouring more wine at every opportunity, removing crumbs and creases from the tablecloths or replenishing the ice-bucket.We had attentive staff who delivered what we asked for and were on hand to deal with any dining issues. To me this is more preferable than having a squad of waist-coated waiters terrorising me with requests as to whether I was enjoying my meal, or re-iron my serviette, or ask if I needed my bread roll smeared with more butter, or even have my steak cut in to delicate morsels so as to avoid me being hospitalised with repetitive strain injury."Did you book in 2009?"God, it plagued my mind for days afterwards, and still does for that matter. What on earth was he expecting as a response? What action would he take on this apparent sliding scale of service?If I had let slip that I only booked the day before setting sail, perhaps he would have had me keel-hauled, or thrown overboard. To be honest we actually booked about six weeks before sailing, but not being a member of any particular lodge or golf club, I still expected equal treatment to the other guests on board. "Did you book in 2009?"What the hell do you mean by that? Does it form part of a Restaurant Manager training seminar back at P&O Headquarters? I would complain to them directly, but having previously tried complaining on other cruise lines, my experience suggests the procedure is like "peeing into the wind".While we are on with the dining experience, P&O celebrate your adventure with what they consider to be a gesture of goodwill and fond memories. On the last evening meal of your cruise you are issued with copies of all the evening menus to which we had been subjected, all in a nice little glossy wallet-file entitled, 'Something to remember' or 'Your unforgettable dining experience'. Unfortunately I can't actually remember the name of the brochure as I didn't bring it home as a keepsake. Deliberately so.I do though remember that most diners were unhappy with the lobster on one particular evening, which was actually filled with prawns and not lobster. Where do you buy just lobster shells so that you can fill them with some cheaper fishy offering? Or more importantly, Why? Seems rather fishy to me. On the whole, the evening meals were indifferent, occasionally very good, but overall nothing more than okay and more often than not, disappointing. There were a few additional regular options at the bottom of the menu if the delights of the main menu weren't that appealing, with grilled chicken, sirloin or salmon available.Nobody tried the chicken at our table, but I had the salmon one evening and it was rather good. This was during the lobster sketch, so I may have just been thankful for not having been won over by the mouth-watering description of Maine lobster. Others who chose the steak option were less impressed. I presume it is quite difficult to prepare a medium or medium-rare sirloin steak with all the flavour removed, although this was alarmingly consistent from the kitchen, where they appear to have mastered flavour removal from what is a good looking platter of food. I would therefore recommend a mustard or pepper sauce accompaniment, so at least you get to taste something.On a positive note, I particularly liked the Baramundi dish that was served up one evening, but overall I wasn't blown-away by any of the main meals. I'm not a big sweet eater, but did occasionally sample some of the desserts. The New York cheesecake was rather good, and by all accounts the liquorice ice-cream was a true delight. However, I didn't realise that Tiramisu was now actually available in Angel-Delight packets, because that's what I appeared to get. Or then again it could have been Instant-Whip...Asda here I come - a fine flavour but not particularly fine-dining. Semi-skilled milk, Angel-delight tiramisu mix, whisk to a thick-ish consistency and add a bit of chopped flake - marvellous.I must point out that the cheeseboard was fairly good and reasonably consistent, so I usually stuck to that.Oops, I've missed the starters, which to be fair were generally okay except for one particular platter. The shellfish and crab pate served on delicate melba toast sounded rather tempting. Unfortunately the subsequent Kit-e-Kat on Rivita was not what I had in mind as an opener to that night's dining experience. My wife ordered Whitebait as a starter one evening and ate only one delicate morsel before tucking into her bread roll. Not being a huge fan of this particular offering I can only convey that whitebait to her is usually crispy and covered in a light batter coating, and not gooey and smothered in oil; be it extra-virgin, vegetable, or sun-tan, although the oil wasn't really the issue. It would be like grilling custard or roasting some salad, if that God forbid isn't presenting the chef with some future ideas for his menu. Anyway I hope you get my point.We did venture into the Gary Rhodes inspired Arcadian Rhodes restaurant, although this was only for the lifeboat drill. I had no desire to return to eat in this establishment, although if necessary there were one or two handsome bottles of red that might require saving during an actual lifeboat alert. The glass doors to this venue were dirty, and not what one would expect. If you can't clean a glass panel - would you really want to eat in there?I mentioned briefly about the clientele aboard and the bawdy golf-club types and even those that move in the circles of the rather secretive Masonic Lodge. These people supposedly keep secrets going back way back when, with some illustrious former members such as Isaac Newton and George Washington to name but two. I have no doubt that these notable historical figures may possibly have had information which may have been truly revealing or even startling. However, putting yourself in their eminent shoes just for a moment, who would you really trust with imparting such knowledge to? There surely would be no other alternative than to create some secret group or society whose members rise up through various degrees and demonstrate via various acts that they have become truly worthy of harbouring such information. That being said, it would sadly appear to be the case that some senior Masons may have possibly met their sad demise before passing on their invaluable information to entrusted members rising through the ranks. That being the case, then you're essentially left with a gentleman's club that has a secret that none of its members no longer know, but they have a jolly time dressing up and pretending that they know something, but that's the biggest secret of all. They don't know it anymore, and the secret is now pretending that they do. They have no current knowledge of the knowledge that they were once supposedly entrusted with. But shh... don't tell anyone I told you. It'll be our secret.One lunchtime I actually overhead some diners mentioning something about unit-cost, which actually made me grateful for not having booked in 2009. If you're not responsible for on-shore purchases for the P&O operation, then why on earth would unit-cost be a topic of conversation for anyone on board?I even overheard some "I'm an important person" type passenger questioning the special guest concert pianist as to his arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The musician seemed somewhat dumb-struck as to his cross examination whilst he partook in a light lunch. To me his examiner seemed just plain dumb.The cruise on the Arcadia was offered as an adults-only holiday. The problem of booking an adult only cruise is that no-one really qualifies what is meant by the word adult. Over 18? Over 21? Having a job? Being married? Being a Mason? Essential Golf Club membership? Understanding the rudimentaries of bridge? Who knows?I have at least five of my own little tykes plus a granddaughter, so adult-only adventure was an appealing angle on a holiday. You were therefore not plagued with little miscreants pestering you to get them some lager, pressing all the buttons in the lifts, or screaming and bawling at not been allowed yet another ice-cream. Aah Bliss.Instead of all these delights, you become aware of some other menace that can be equally annoying to any brat causing havoc in the lifts. The regular lift menace on this cruise was caused not by youngsters but obviously adults in this case. There were rather disturbing aromas in and around the lifts, as someone quite possibly mistook them for a lavatory or just couldn't help themselves passing wind between floors. This proved quite popular with some guests and as we were on the second sitting for dinner, you could get a clear indication of what was on that night's menu long before you even arrived at the restaurant.Some of the more portly guests seemed to enjoy the Jacuzzis out on the sun deck. However, when they had finished immersing themselves for their therapeutic session, the amount of water left in the receptacle was less than half; such was their experimentation in displacing a volume of water. Eureka indeed...I must point out that on other occasions some of our lift-friends didn't even need to switch the Jacuzzi on.The Arcadia itself is a slightly tired vessel, and on two different occasions it moored alongside a gleaming Royal Caribbean ship, and it was evident that P&O don't overdo the painting side of things.There were other areas on board which could only be described as adequate, although the Palladium Theatre is better than average. The Library is a tad disappointing and barely adequate, but did house the Jigsaw Society. These were a rather disturbing group whom I alerted our dining colleagues to. One of them proposed a black-ops mission in order to remove a few pieces, or even swap lids on the boxes or exchange a handful of pieces amongst the various unopened puzzles...There was an abundance of walking aids on board, ranging from traditional walking sticks to motorised scooters, and a seemingly endless supply of cotton socks to match that day's tailored shorts along with traditional open-toed sandals.There were limited shaded areas on the open decks and the promenade deck was usually oversubscribed by individuals dribbling their breakfast as they took a well-earned nap in the morning sunshine. Perhaps though, they'd been there all night. I wonder if anyone checks before nightfall?The bar prices and venues are fairly typical of what you find at sea. However, there is one redeeming feature that other cruise lines need to take heed of. You can take your own booze on board - even at the destination ports. On most cruises this is not the case. You can book into the best hotels in the world and nip down to the corner shop and get yourself some goodies to enjoy in the comfort of your hotel room. No search squads, teams of security, nor does it apparently contravene any hotelier protocols. But you can't do this at sea, and any alcohol is usually removed and returned to your stateroom on the last night of your cruise. Not anymore though. P&O allow reasonable allowances, and they will even deliver a litre of branded spirits to your room for under £12. Well done P&O, very well done.As for being done, well they provide you with comprehensive information on tipping and even provide you with envelopes and how much you should tip. They seemingly pride their operation on not applying gratuities up front, but then have the cheek to request that you reward high standards by telling you who and what to tip. If they don't pay their staff appropriate wages, why should we subsidise it by stumping up a bit more for a service that we've already essentially paid for, just so that P&O shareholders can maximise their dividends.Pay the staff appropriate salaries and put the cost up - you never know people may still leave tips.For some bizarre reason we pay the cost of new clothing by paying the price on the tag, but for some reason the price on a menu isn't ever quite right, or the drinks for that matter. Why is this? In a shop: Greet, provide information, fold garment, complete transaction. No tip.In a restaurant: Greet, take order, bring drinks and meal, remove empties, bring bill, complete transaction. Wait for tip.Why have we allowed this financial intimidation to evolve?Nevertheless, I left a fiver in an envelope marked "Captain" - Well steered mate, excellent job.So where did we go on our adventure?Madeira was quite charming - if you call a walk along the front at Funchal a full and proper exploration of this historic volcanic island. We decided against the suggested toboggan rides and cable cars, having had no real desire to partake in such activity. So a stroll it was- and as I said it was pleasantly surprising and quite charming. It is unfortunate that the resort still bears the scars of last year's inclement weather with numerous damaged bridges, and the depositing of all the debris caused by the storm in one area along the seafront. Apparently there is no more money left in Portugal, so there is no possible solution on the horizon. Unless of course they get bailed out by the EU.However, you never know they may add this eyesore as a shore excursion as the famous storm debris plateau where guests could collect some samples...They could even erect a hut in traditional Madeirian style in order to house local craftsmen who could fashion intricate jewellery from the spoil.After six days at sea crossing the Atlantic, you finally spot land. It is a seemingly endless journey, but your admiration goes out to those who have made the crossing in vessels lacking GPS systems, or engines for that matter.A few days of 'Yeahhh Maan' were on offer at Antigua, St Maarten, St Lucia and Barbados.For me Barbados is rather forgetful and a tad disappointing, as to is Antigua. The other two islands on this cruise made you want to go back, which shouldn't really be that hard in the Caribbean. They both had charm, warm people and wonderful scenery.The humpback whales off Antigua were a surprise and a delight to behold. There are plenty of other wildlife to see during a cruise, although patience is required as the oceans are rather vast, and the critters doesn't just leap out of the pond at the sound of a whistle for a dangled dead herring, before returning to the ocean depths with a double-piked re-entry.The temperature goes up significantly on this adventure, and you find that the heat begins to erode your general response time, and you find yourself in need of a nap in the afternoon and one-or-two too many beers. In that sense you get an indication of the lifestyle that the locals lead on these islands, as you too begin to behave in a similar manner...Time is altered in these parts. Perhaps the earth turns slower, or the magnetic lines interfere with chronometers, but in general, five minutes equates to about half-an-hour on a normal clock, but nevertheless you eventually get used to it, even if you have to wait five minutes or so.It's difficult to rate this adventure as we only did part of it. But the dining experience was poor in comparison to other cruise operations - but being fair we weren't hospitalised or plagued with dysentery. It was just as I said, disappointing.The ship is probably in need of a make-over, although this opinion is probably skewed slightly by my previous experiences at sea which were undoubtedly better. It's a difficult thing to categorise, but essentially I can only measure the experience by asking if I would I do the cruise again. No, not really. Not even if I had booked in 2009.Would I use P&O again? Well yes, possibly, but it wouldn't be my first choice, no matter how appealing it is taking your own booze on board. But be aware, it is now very difficult to book anything in 2009 if not impossible - so be prepared, as you might get asked, "Did you book in 2011?"Enjoy - whenever you book... Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Cruise J824 - Arcadia - Dec 20th 2008 to Jan 5th 2009 Embarkation We arrived at the terminal in Southampton at 2:10 pm to find a huge queue ahead of us. When we finally entered the terminal building the check in desks were unmanned, ... Read More
Cruise J824 - Arcadia - Dec 20th 2008 to Jan 5th 2009 Embarkation We arrived at the terminal in Southampton at 2:10 pm to find a huge queue ahead of us. When we finally entered the terminal building the check in desks were unmanned, staff were milling about but no announcements were made regarding the delay for at least an hour. Asking a staff member we were told there were "technical issues" and they couldn't embark anyone at the present time. A few clowns were present to entertain the waiting masses but cold drinks would have been more appropriate. The building was very hot and not even cold water was available. The usual procedure took place at check in, photo for ship pass, registration of credit card etc. 2 days into the cruise we received a call from reception saying they had no record of our registered credit card on the system, it seems our credit card details were lost somewhere between check in at Southampton and the ships database. When we questioned the staff on reception about this once again their response was "technical issues", poor show P&O. At 4:40 we finally got on board only to find the lifeboat drill had taken place, no other drills were arranged for the passengers who had missed this vital information. A 2 hour 30 minute wait to embark is inexcusable. Cabin The cabin (D-deck with balcony) was spacious with plenty of wardrobe space. Luggage fitted easily under the bed with room to spare. Adequate lighting in the bathroom, shower had good pressure and was easy to use. A range of Temple Spa toiletries were present, only the shower gel was replenished. The balcony was showing signs of wear, peeling paint. One small table and 2 chairs took up the majority of balcony space available. Good sized fridge. Decent size, height adjustable table in the cabin. The bed was very comfortable, pillows soft yet supportive. Overall the cabin was clean, fresh and inviting. Our cabin steward was a real gem and easily the most professional crew member we encountered aboard the ship. Entertainment The entertainment aboard ranged from poor to outstanding but most of it was aimed toward the more mature passenger with very little provided for those not in their twilight years. To any readers under 50, I would suggest doing some research on alternative cruises before doing a cruise on Arcadia. Other member reviews have said the same thing and I can only echo their warning. It does seem to be a ship of mainly older folk, average age was around 75. Our first day at sea had a fluid retention and swollen ankles talk in the spa, if you were out of there by 11 am you could head up to The Crow's nest for a game of bingo. Headliners Theatre Group, the ships entertainers, were outstanding. Each cast member was an accomplished vocalist and competent dancer. All the shows they performed were wonderfully executed with superb costumes and sets. Highlights of the cruise were the performances given by Gerald Dickens, great great grandson of Charles Dickens. His performance of 'A Christmas Carol' on Christmas day was joyous and worthy of the West End. It's just a pity that the other entertainment provided in the various bars around the ship was so mundane. Not everyone enjoys listening to repeated sets of what sounded like elevator music day after day. The refit of Arcadia allowed P&O to provide a small cinema on deck 3. As it only seats 30 people you have to get there early in order to ensure a seat. The seats recline and are very comfortable...if you can get one. An annoying thing was the extreme rudeness of some passengers who would barge in 5 minutes before the end of the previous film with no thought to the passengers already there and enjoying the end of the movie they had chosen to watch. On more than one occasion the wrong movie was shown and staff had to be informed, as they didn't hang around to check they were actually playing the correct film. A cinema on board is a great idea but pointless to have one that seats 30 on a ship that carries 2000 passengers. The cabin TV was supposed to have a dedicated channel devoted to movies, Christmas movies especially. When we tried to watch channel 9, all that we saw was a screen of interference. When we called reception to ask about the problem we were told that channel 9 wouldn't be available for the entire cruise, it's a "technical issue", seems that term was the answer to any query P&O encountered. The Disco was usually always empty and seemed to be a complete waste of space, extending the casino into the disco area would be a better utilization of that area of deck 2. As it is the casino is very small with an outdated selection of slot machines. A Christmas Bazaar was listed as a shopping experience to take place in the upper level of the Meridian restaurant. We were disappointed to see that this shopping extravaganza was merely the shop inventory laid out on some of the restaurant tables with nothing new whatsoever. The newly extended Aquarius deck was the main venue for Hogmanay celebrations. The generally friendly fellow passengers and crew enjoyed many hours of music and dancing. The party went on into the wee small hours as can be testified to by the Alpha alert over the tannoy system at 4 am, it seems there was a passenger in difficulty after falling down some stairs We got chatting to long standing P&O diehards who mentioned that this was the first New Year party on a P&O ship that they were not given a free drink. The consensus seems to be that the standards are dropping year by year with passengers being charged for more extras. Crew The majority of the crew we encountered were polite and friendly with the exception of an extremely rude member of the photography team. Our cabin steward couldn't be faulted; waiters were pleasant and chatty once we got to know then. Our wine waitress left a lot to be desired, on more than one occasion drink orders from ourselves and our table companions were completely forgotten by her and she only remembered as we passed her on the way out of the restaurant. Some crew had a personal hygiene problem; we noticed this numerous times. 3 separate barmen had a particularly strong B.O odor that was quite off-putting. Ship and dEcor The ships dEcor was fresh and bright, plenty of Christmas decorations and trees on every deck added to the festive atmosphere. Beautiful sculptures in the lower entrance to the theatre that are easily missed if you enter theatre on a higher deck. Lots of interesting artwork around the ship, it's certainly worth walking around all the decks to have a look at what's on display. It was easy to see the ship had been re carpeted throughout. P&O must have encountered a problem on deck 2. Just at the Spinnaker Bar, there was an extremely obvious musty smell coming from the carpet, which they tried to rectify by having an industrial drying machine plugged in for the first week of the cruise. The toilets near the Globe on deck 2 were also experiencing problems, the stink passengers encountered when passing them was horrific Food The food in the Belvedere was plentiful but not of the highest quality. A lot of the cakes on offer had synthetic cream and were not at all appetizing. The selection available from midnight onwards tended to be dried out and uninspiring food that looked like it had come from the local freezer center. Salads and fresh fruit were of good quality as were the accompaniments, coleslaw, bean salad etc. Long queues were not apparent, we seldom had to wait for more than 1 minute to reach the food we were in line for. The juice dispenser in the Belvedere was switched off at 12 noon, I must say that this was rather mean and penny pinching of P&O, there can be no other reason to switch of the juice other than to increase passenger spending on drinks over lunchtime. Some of the best lunchtime food was available at the Neptune Grill, always fresh and cooked to order. A particular favorite there was the blueberry cheesecake, very tasty indeed and of much higher quality than the desserts in the Belvedere. The Meridian didn't live up to expectations. The dreaded potato croquettes that have been mentioned on the forums, accompanied dinner on the first night. They are of very poor quality indeed and have no place on an evening dinner menu of a cruise ship. Fellow dining companions ordered the steak one evening. What they received could have been hidden under a small bread roll, it was tiny! Food in general in the Meridian ranged from distinctly average to a few excellent dishes. The Indian food was especially good; the Dhal soup was one of the best I've ever eaten. Afternoon tea was a huge letdown. Hard, tasteless scones, small cakes with synthetic cream and measly filled sandwiches were the order of the day. The vegetarian sandwich was Rocket, one Rocket leaf between 2 slices of bread. I asked the waitress for some cheese sandwiches only to be told that I would need to order them 24 hours ahead. When we spend 3k per person on a cruise we don't expect to have to give a days notice for a sandwich. As I am a vegetarian, I informed my travel agent and also called P&O in person to inform them of this fact. Despite doing so I didn't receive the vegetarian menu until the 5th night, neither the staff in the restaurant or the staff on reception had any record of my dietary requirements. Yep, you've guessed it, technical issues were to blame. Come on P&O spend some money on competent admin staff and computer systems that actually work. During the last sea day passengers could enjoy a galley tour and a chocolate buffet. After previously cruising with Celebrity I expected big things from the chocolate buffet, sadly it was another indication of cost cutting measures. The layout wasn't at all spectacular with more of those thawed out gateaux that can be seen in every supermarket in the land. One or two pleasing ice sculptures couldn't lift the lackluster affair of the tasteless selection on offer. Ports We didn't book any of the P&O excursions preferring to do our own thing. Every port had regular free shuttle buses provided by P&O. Ports of call varied. Palma was a washout, being Boxing Day everywhere was closed and it rained incessantly. Our favorite had to be Malta, beautiful harbor and surprisingly warm weather for the time of year. Certainly a place we shall return to. We arrived in Barcelona on the morning of the 30th of December expecting to leave again as 2am on January 1st. Due to mechanical problems with a generator we didn't leave Barcelona till almost 5pm on January 1st, a full 15 hours behind schedule. As a result of this delay our last post of call was cancelled. Each passenger received £100 as an apology for not getting to Vigo. £40 per person was also refunded during the cruise; this fuel supplement refund was deducted off your shipboard account. The cruise log that each passenger receives at the end of the cruise mentioned nothing of the delay. It states "Arcadia extended her call in Barcelona until late afternoon, allowing a whole extra day for the opportunity for passengers to go ashore" That's not the case, passengers had to be back on board by 1:30-2:00, rather economical with the truth there P&O Disembarkation Disembarkation was smooth considering the number of passengers onboard. Passengers are given color-coded cards the night before with your time to disembark on them. Luggage in the terminal building is sorted according to your deck so is easy to find. In conclusion all I can say is that this was our first cruise with P&O...and our last. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Arcadia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.6
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 1.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.4
Enrichment 3.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.4
Rates 4.0 3.7

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