We have just enjoyed a 12 night cruise onboard the Arcadia departing from Southampton , talking in Gibraltar, Cartagena, Valencia, Tangiers, Cadiz and Lisbon with a couple of sea days. We boarded with little fuss and realatively little waiting at Southampton, our slot was three but as we arrived early we actually managed to get on about one thirty, it would have been better to have arrived at our allotted slot as then we'd have gone straight on, note to self for future reference. The ship is slightly smaller and older ( although recently refitteed) than we are used to, not as flashy as many of the newer and bigger liners , but it has an intimacy that size doesn't allow. As this was an adults only ship cruising in November we expected an older age demographic on board ( we're in our late fifties ) so weren't surprised that the majority of the passengers were retirement age and we met many a sprightly eighty year old but also noticed younger couples ( we wondered if they may have found it a bit overwhelming to be surrounded by so many older people). We booked late and cheap so we didn't get our preferred 6.30 dinner slot, or the free time dining and had to be content with 8.30 ( very late for us ) but we survived and had excellent dinner companions which made up for it. The food and service onboard were excellent, I was absolutely sure we'd have put on weight but found that we had not, as everything was very healthy and as you can have pretty much whatever you want you naturally pace yourself.
The stateroom ( cabin ) was very nice, clean, with perfectly adequate facilities, we had the cheapest inside cabin, slightly smaller than we've had on our usual Princess cruise ships, but not significantly so, did panic slightly about where to put the empty cases but they slip under the bed so no problem. Nice flat screen tv with sky news, BBC news, several free film and tv channels and programs produced for the cruise itinary and information about the ships status.
The onboard entertainment program seemed OK but we tend to rest and read when not in port, we attended a dance show in the comfortable theatre and enjoyed that. We also took part in some late night quizzes which were fun.
The Spa was very good except that when I booked a special deal the receptionist I saw did not understand the offer and sold me the wrong treatments ( that did not qualify) but after a little upset the matter was resolved to my satisfaction. The massages I had were very very good and the Spa is excellent .
I did find the retail area limited, and the staff who manned it badly trained, I actually asked the retail manager if a necklace I was interested in buying was "Opal" or " Imitation Opal" to be told it was " Cubic Zirconia" , I was quite surprised that he decided to " blag " me instead of simply stating that he didn't know the answer to my question, having spent many years in the jewellery trade I do know it wasn't a cubic zirconia and I told him so, he made an aside to a colleague that he'd had me throw off the ship, very unprofessional. Apart from him and the mix up in the Spa the other staff were all lovely and received tips from us above the usual ones added to your account .
Clean, comfortable, good size shower room, only one British power point, good wardrobe space, put suitcases under bed, air con or heating easily adjusted, good size tv, tea and coffee replenished daily, 6 large bottles of water ( £10 ) , mini bar ( fridge), hairdryer, lots of useful cruise information in the cabin including port maps, cabins are kept spotless and beds made twice a day ( or as often as you wish). Slightly smaller than on Princess ships but still enough room to move. Well lit area in shower room, plenty of soft white towels. Blue pool towels also provided. Beds either twin or double.
It's a great shopping centre, with plenty of eateries and museums ( particularly the Titanic exhibit).
Took a mini bus from the dock into the town. Lots of shops both local small businesses and large brands ( like M&S and Debenhams) , alcohol is much cheaper than the UK , also cigarettes, electrical goods, perfume. The main town is quite compact, cramped even, narrow streets but not pedestrianised, clean public toilets in the square just off the main shopping street ( you go down some steps to an underground WC). Prices are in pounds so prices are very easy to understand and English money is accepted but change given is in Gibraltar pounds. We bought a radio for £170 that would have cost well over £200 in the U.K.
Loved this beautiful clean port, simply get off the ship turn left at the end of the marina and walk into a very nice shopping area, don't miss the understated entrance to the Roman Theatre on your right as you approach the shopping area, this is the entrance to a well preserved and restored original Roman theatre, not just a mueseum and they really don't make a big effort to get that across at the entrance, once inside there are a few artififacts but pass them and you go up a few escalators ( or a lift ) and emerge in the actual theatre. I absolutely loved it, you can explore the area but be warned the steps are steep and without hand rails, you can however see a lot without leaving safe walking areas.
We took the open top, "hop on hop off" historic bus tour which was a complete waste of time and money, as there was precious little to see from the bus that was historic. We caught the hop on hop off in the older part of the city ( we'd got there by a bus laid on by the ship it's self) so we could have seen anything historic simply by staying in the centre of Valencia. Actually we didn't like Valencia it's a modern city, nothing very interesting to look at all, so it might be an idea to look at the excursions and go somewhere else or stay on the ship.
Two hour coach ride, with two quick stops, we didn't want to wander round Tangier independently but wanted to see something of the port. This was for us the best option, we got a flavour of the place whilst feeling safe and comfortable. A knowledgable guide talked us through the basics , and the coach was air conditioned. We went in late November and it was pleasantly warm and sunny.View All 10 City Tour Reviews
No need to get a bus as the ship docks just off the main shopping area. Unfortunately it rained the day we visited after we'd been there an hour, so that cut our trip short. There are plenty of shops with prices similar to those in the U.K. , I did buy a bag but it wasn't particularly cheap I simply liked it. We felt a little uneasy at times that we were in danger of being targeted by puck pockets, but nothing actually happened. Not a port we'd go out of our way to visit again.
Obidos is a quaint medieval walled village about 1 Hr 15 mins from the port. Although some walking is necessary on this tour it's more a shopping opportunity in a tourist village with the twist that it's famous for a cherry liquer served in chocolate cups, unfortunately I do t drink so can't tell you how delicious it was, but it looked nice. Lovely little independent gift , craft and clothes shops selling local products. Thoroughly enjoyed this charming place, nice people too and they were just preparing for their famous Christmas spectacular for which they are apparently famous ( we missed it because we were there in November) . Very much recommend, my favourite day of the cruise. Despite being in late November the weather was warm and sunny.View All 12 Medieval Obidos Walking Tour Reviews