As a fortieth wedding anniversary treat we booked cruise J503 on Arcadia. Denise, my wife is wheelchair bound and this was our first cruise without family so we were concerned whether we would cope. Embarkation was a breeze. Our daughter dropped us off, our suitcases were collected by a porter and we entered the departure area to book in. Within 20 minutes we were in our cabin.
The cabin itself was ok but hardly fully adapted as described. Plenty of storage space but a lack of a full length wardrobe left Denise's dresses half folded.
P&O make much of their fine dining experience but again it was slightly disappointing. Food was not always very hot and at times could only be described as bland. Choice of vegetables seemed to be anything you liked, as long as it was brocolli ! Conversation with other passengers, many of whom were Arcadia regulars, suggested that the standard of dining had diminished since the abolition of silver service. Plates now arrive fully plated and are unceremoniously plonked in front of you. However, waiter service and wine waiter service was excellent.
Port and shore excursions were good. At Cadiz most boarded coaches for Seville but my days of manhandling Denise onto a coach have long gone so we spent an enjoyable day wandering around Cadiz. Messina is not a place I wish to return to in a hurry! I have never seen so much graffiti, it was scrawled everywhere. The whole place looked as if it could do with a good lick of paint. The harbour was full of floating rubbish. However, it has a magnificent cathedral.
Pretty Corfu was the next stop. Unfortunately no shuttle buses were provided for the disabled so we were left with a lengthy walk to the old town. P&O please note, if you supply a service (ie shuttle bus) for able bodied passengers, by European Disability Law you MUST provide the same service for disabled passengers otherwise you are guilty of disability discrimination. Rant over. Must admit we quite enjoyed the 2 mile stroll into town.
Next was beautiful Dubrovnik. We booked a wheelchair accessible tour here and were taken by adapted minibus way into the country to a farm that milled it's own flour, then onto Cavtat, then to Dubrovnik old town. Excellent tour with an excellent guide.
Venice followed and again we booked an wheelchair accessible tour. Expensive but well worth the money. From the ship to Tronchetto Island to board a valparetto for the trip to St Marks Square. We had a personal guide all day as part of the tour package. Fabulous day.
Split was an anti-climax as we knew that the ship was tendered here, so we spent a relaxing day on board recovering from Dubrovnik and Venice.
Then followed a lengthy trip to Gibraltar for a flying visit ( 4 hours) and being Sunday most of the shops were closed.
And finally to Southampton where disembarkation was just as smooth as embarkation.
On board entertainment generally was excellent. The Headliners Theatre Group produced some excellent shows.
Arcadia herself is showing signs of wear and tear. Buckets catching dripping water became a more frequent sight as the cruise went on. I think a decent refit is long overdue.
All in all we thoroughly enjoyed it despite a few gripes. I may be a little generous giving it four stars.
Sold to us as a 'fully adapted' cabin (my wife is wheelchair bound) but disappointing. Putting as handrail around the bathroom and a seat in the shower doesn't make it fully adapted. However, we coped. Rather an odd shaped cabin with an odd shaped balcony. A struggle to get the wheelchair on to the balcony because of a heavy self closing door.