Never Again !
There are I think 2 types of people in the world. There are the "I'll try anything once" types and there are the "I'm happy with what I know and love types". For P&O cruisers the dilemma ... Read More
Never Again !
There are I think 2 types of people in the world. There are the "I'll try anything once" types and there are the "I'm happy with what I know and love types". For P&O cruisers the dilemma facing most of us is "shall I try out the newest ship in the fleet?".
Sadly I fell for this psychological trap and booked a short mid-year 7 day break on Arcadia. It will never happen again!
There are plenty of reviews that will inform you of the practical design differences to the other ships and they are pretty much accurate. Design is poor, period. Main restaurant is right at the aft so those with a tendency for seasickness will be at maximum discomfort during the most important eating time. Layout elsewhere is confusing and it's hard to get anywhere in a straight line on one deck. Bars, lounges and cafes all have main walkways through them so are not at all nice places to chill out, relax and say read a book. As I said, plenty of other reviews around on those differences.
The main problem you need to be aware of when being tempted by that "shall I, shan't I" dilemma is that Arcadia, being an adult only ship, is in fact packed full of geriatrics. They fall out of every room, bar and lounge and spend their cruise lolling asleep in chairs with their mouths open. Arcadia is an old folks home at sea. Now, I'm not ageist in any shape or form, but given a choice, I would not knowingly choose to spend a holiday as important as a cruise with 1500 pensioners all waiting to spend their final days in the best way possible. It's truly awful. I'm just over 40 myself and although we had excellent table companions who were full of character, this didn't make up for the overall atmosphere on board.
If you are intent on doing the "Arcadia" thing, then you need to be prepared for the practical realities that you will be faced with. In general these worldly wise veterans spend their days getting up well before everyone else at about 5-6am. Their purpose and motivation in life is to get to places first, before everyone else, to get that all important seat. First sign of this was the muster drill. I left for the drill 5 mins early just to avoid the busy corridor rush that normally happens. What greeted me at the muster station was a sea of elderly people who had clearly already bagseyed their chairs and settled in, probably an hour before! Everyone else was stood in the corridors for the 45min drill. I'm not discourteous mind, but I always felt the heart and soul of any cruise was consideration for fellow passengers, queuing patiently, tolerating and so on. Old people show very little of this, it's dog eat dog and boy, they're going to get up as early as it takes to get there before you. And once there, they ain't gonna move any time soon. They're going to sit quietly ordering coffee after coffee to justify their continued presence in those seats like the people who used to make a cup of tea last 3 hours in a Little Chef restaurant.
It's an ethos they have for the duration of the cruise. As with any cruise, we had some days at sea and some of these were in bad weather so everyone was looking for things to do and places to go inside the ship. Could we find even one empty armchair in one bar or lounge or cafe to get a coffee? Not a chance! Every single seat was packed out with geriatrics who for all I know had been sitting there from 3 o'clock in the morning just to make sure they got that seat. And many of them were just lolling there asleep. It makes for a truly horrible atmosphere I'm afraid and is very frustrating. I walked the length of the ship 3 times on different decks looking for somewhere to have a coffee. Took me 40 mins to find a dark unrelaxing corner.
To further perpetuate the old folks home experience P&O ensured that all the activities were in tune. So during the day expect workshop sessions telling you how to grow Clematis or how to cultivate cuttings ! Computer lessons for the completely technophobic and so on.
No doubt I have now offended every mature cruiser that reads this review and I apologise for that, however, I want people to go into an Arcadia cruise with an informed decision. Had I known beforehand I would not have spent those precious holiday days and all that money on a "let's see what Arcadia is like" venture. I would have stuck with the ships that I know and love.
Carnival/P&O need to understand pretty quickly that Arcadia looks to have quickly become an old folks home. No doubt there is a great market for that and I wish the best of luck to P&O and to all the older people sailing with Arcadia. However, be mindful of the fact that there are hundreds of other cruisers being slowly alienated, who might otherwise expect a "normal" cruising experience. One where there are seats available and where occupied seats are buzzing with life and banter and atmosphere.
We all have choices. It looks like the Arcadia is the place for the elderly. That's just fine. I wrote this review just to ensure everyone else is suitably informed before they book their first time Arcadian experience in the hope of something new, different and exciting. For me it wasn't any of those things. Personally, I will never sail with her again. The design, the ethos and the atmosphere on-board are just not to my taste. I love the formality of the other ships and the courtesy and liveliness on-board. Everyone is different, you must make your own choice, but at least be informed and prepared.
The scores I have recorded reflect the normal aspects of those services but all are tainted and spoiled by the wider problem.
Happy sailing! Read Less