Arvia is a spectacular new cruise ship from P&O Cruises with wide-ranging appeal, from couples to families to multi-generational groups. Nicknamed the "Sunshine Ship", it's been designed to sail in warm climes -- winter in the Caribbean, summer in the Mediterranean. Arvia is sister ship to Iona (which launched in 2021).
But despite the two 5,200-passenger cruise ships being structurally nearly identical, Arvia is by no means a carbon copy of Iona. Arvia has a top deck mini golf and high-ropes course and swim-up bar -- firsts for P&O Cruises. The popularity of these amenities, however, has introduced some congestion to the top deck's wake pool area which tends to get crowded early on in the day. Thankfully the roof above its Sky Dome has been designed to retract, giving top decks an extra outdoor swimming pool.
Inside there are differences, too. At the heart of Arvia's deck plan is the all-new and lighter Grand Atrium with three-storey glass walls filling the space with bright, widescreen sea views. Arvia also has the first rum distillery at sea as well as two new restaurants, 6th Street Diner and Green & Co. The latter’s flexitarian menu offers a mix of sushi and plant-based dishes. For families there's a new submarine-themed "Escape Room" experience called Mission Control.
Thanks to the retractable roof on Arvia's Sky Dome, there are now four outdoor pools (five if you count the swim-up bar) staggered across the ship's top three decks, as well as a splash zone on Deck 18. Here's where you’ll also find the high ropes, mini-golf, jogging track, sports court and kids clubs, which means that during school holidays these decks tend to feel busier than normal. To find somewhere quieter to lay your towel head either to the front of Deck 18 (next to or in proximity of the Beachcomber pool) where there are lots of spare sun beds available or to Deck 8 which, as well as being the Promenade Deck, also has hot tubs dotted along its length. Alternatively there's also the adults-only Retreat -- an extra-fee outdoor sanctuary with loungers, two whirlpools, on tap refreshments and beautiful vistas.
While there are some cabins on Deck 16 (the same level as the Horizon buffet) the vast majority of staterooms are located on Decks 9 to 15. The remainder are on Decks 4, 5 and 8.
As you'd expect, the top decks have several bars as well as a couple of speciality restaurants, but the majority of Arvia's bars, eateries and entertainment venues (including the Headliner's Theatre, cinema and clubs) are found on the three floors that span the atrium -- decks 6 - 8. Although at key times (before or after a show) the atrium can feel crowded, there’s mostly a good flow of traffic. It’s even possible to take a selfie from the sweeping marble staircase without anyone else in your picture.
Arvia offers Inside (windowless), Outside (ocean-facing with a window), Balcony cabins and Suites, including 28 Single cabins and 32 of the new Conservatory Mini-Suites, which were introduced on sister ship Iona. These have proved hugely popular as a midway cabin option -- they're pricier than a regular balcony room, but cheaper than a higher-category suite.
For extra space there's also a Deluxe Balcony cabin costing less than a mini-suite but with nearly as much floor space. Just be careful of its positioning. If privacy is important to you then Balcony cabins to avoid (including those which are suites) are on Deck 8. That’s because these balconies are all on the same level as the wraparound promenade. Walkers and runners lapping the Promenade Deck (of which there are many) pass these balconies every time they circuit the ship. They can also see INTO the cabin which means that you need to close curtains every time you require privacy.
Budget travellers will be pleased to hear that Arvia has more Inside cabins than any other P&O Cruises' ship. Seeing as you’re likely to spend more time on the public decks of the Sunshine Ship than on a private cabin balcony, this is a great value option, ditto the outside cabins. We met many guests who didn’t bother upgrading to a balcony for this reason and had no regrets. Also popular are Outside cabins on the lower decks 4 and 5, with very large windows, unobstructed sea views and tend to feel less movement.
Arvia has more than 30 bars and restaurants, but whereas sister ship Iona has four main dining rooms, Arvia only has two. Instead there are a couple of new-to-the-line restaurants. One is the included 6th Street Diner -- a hugely popular all-American diner with a gourmet Southern twist. The other is the a la carte plant-based restaurant Green & Co, which, despite its inventive and tasty cuisine, is much quieter…though this may well change as it catches on. Here dishes come with a small fee and there's also a sushi bar which is a great alternative for lunch.
Elsewhere there's the Horizon buffet on Deck 16 as well as Deck 8's The Quays, a food court which offers small prepared plates alongside stands serving noodles, fish and chips and "Roast in the Quays". This is another new-to-the-line offering and is an original take on the traditional Sunday Roast -- dished up in a giant Yorkshire pudding instead of on a plate.
For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard P&O Cruises Arvia, please refer to P&O Cruises Vaccination & Testing Policy.
· Main dining rooms, 6th Street Diner, the buffet, The Quays and select other dining
· All theatre and SkyDome shows plus aerialist performances in the Atrium
· The four-screen cinema
· Most daily activities, unless noted below
· Use of the gym, but not most classes
· Continental room service breakfast
· Speciality dining venues (Green & Co, Sindhu, The Glass House etc)
· All drinks beyond tap water, tea, coffee and select juices in the buffet/The Quays
· Altitude Skywalk high-ropes course
· Mission Control Escape Room experience
· Spa treatments
· The Retreat
· Shore excursions
· Room service delivery charge (not applicable to continental breakfast)
Arvia is aimed at a younger demographic than the line’s more traditional ships and its pioneering amenities, nightlife and new restaurants are attracting first-time cruisers. The vast majority of guests are British. Meet-ups are arranged for solo and LBTQ+ passengers. That said, some of our group attended one such scheduled gathering and, disappointingly, nobody else showed. There are 55 wheelchair accessible cabins.