The Arcadia is a decent enough ship although it is by now (2012) probably in need of a refurbishment. Boarding in Dubai was a reasonably efficient affair, a little slow, but i have experienced much worse.
If you are looking for a ship that is internally stunning to the eye then you may be disappointed. there is no WOW factor, but it is clean and well maintained.
The ports of call made this a worthwhile journey especially if like me you have not been to India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, etc. Do your own research before departure.
The pre-arrival port information talks were probably the most informative i have experienced on any cruise ship, with no real hard sell on excursions.
Drinks are not badly priced in comparison to some US based ships and being able to buy Duty Free spirits for consuming on board was a plus, but remember to stock up on mixers like tonic water in Dubai etc. There also appeared to be no restriction on buying wine or beer ashore and bringing it on board, this was a cruising first for me. As this was part of a world cruise the age profile was high and i would estimate the average age to have been around mid 70's + .
Entertainment was really quite diverse with different artists joining for different segments. Some were great some were dire. All down to personal taste.
The greatest disappointment was probably the food which i can only describe as bland, mundane, predictable and lacking finesse. Most passengers opted for 1st sitting, which had a long waitlist, an age thing i suppose. We were fortunate to have a table for two on 2nd sitting. 42 nights of 'bon homie' was not for me, each to their own i suppose. The ship was at times like the Marie Celeste in the late evening.
The crew by which i mean the waiters and cabin stewards are predominantly Indian and are an absolute joy. Given the age profile of fellow passengers they are for all intents and purposes 'carers'. They are very patient considering they are young 18 to 20 somethings.
The laundry facilities are totally insufficient for a cruise of this duration and i heard some dreadful stories regarding the behaviour of some passengers using the launderette, It was by all accounts a source of much discontent amongst many passengers. Considering the age profile of passeners, i found the stories of crass behaviour quite bizarre. Especially when we can be over critical of young people's behaviour!.
All in all this was a pleasant voyage, nothing exceptional, although nothing dramatically wrong either. It was a pleasant way to get to Australia. If you are looking for something really special or celebrating a big occasion. then you should really do your homework and think hard before booking.
Arcadia could be compared to a pleasant 3* plus country hotel, nice and pleasant but nothing really memorable. The majority of passengers were British with quite a sprinkling of Dutch as well. The Dutch were all very pleasant and easy to chat with. Most whom i spoke to appeared to like sailing with the British.? At Singapore and Hong Kong we were joined by lots of Australians, great fun. There was never any great problem finding loungers for sun worship as the Australians did not lay in it and the Brits and Dutch were of course frying daily. I met lots of nice people who had very interesting backgrounds and occupations. Some were on their second and third world cruise aboard Arcadia, so there must something right about the ship. For me, enjoyable, but not again. Enjoy.
Finally, many passengers did pick up a quite serious cough, with some later developing chest infections as a result. Thankfully, for us it cleared up within about 5 days. In comparison to ships on the US circuit where the use of antiseptic hand-gel dispensers is compulsory. added to the visible 24/7 cleaning of surfaces like lift doors / controls and handrails. The Arcadia was very lax in comparison.