Arcadia Cruise Review by drd283
- Sail Date: July 2018
- Destination: Europe
- Cabin Type: Mini Suite with Balcony and Bath/Shower
We stayed overnight at the Chilworth Manor and embarked at 12:30. We were seated for lunch in the Meridian by 1:00 and enjoyed a very pleasant buffet in good company. Our cabin with luggage was ready by 1:45.
We use cabin B94, a mini suite. As ever the cabin was well-presented and very clean. The lifeboat muster meeting was managed efficiently and we were able to enjoy sailing away on the Aquarius Deck.
As we got the ready for dinner we opened our champagne & enjoyed the canapés. Our choice for dining was freedom dining. We happily took a pager on the first night before enjoying a drink in the Piano Bar. The Meridian table manager apologies for putting us on table 1, but we are glad he did. The table 1 team of Esteven, Francis & Janine were friendly, attentive & work to an excellent standard of service. We used the pager on 11 more nights & always asked for,and were seated at table 1.
The menus were consistently varied and interesting. I enjoy fish as my main course & had fish such Arctic char, witch sole. stone bass and sea bream. Carolyn enjoys soups and meat main courses and she was not disappointed. The vegetables were always cooked correctly. Desserts were tempting & delicious as was the Stilton and port! We ate once in Sindhu and had the Tasting Menu which was very good and used Belvedere for the Indian buffet on the 60s/70s night, again the food was great. We enjoyed leisurely breakfasts in Meridian, but used Belvedere when we went on early excursions. The variety & quality was good. Belvedere also did very light scones to enjoy with an afternoon cuppa.
We enjoyed the entertainment in the bars, particularly Liv and Jo and the Misty Blues. Our favourite bar for late drinks was the Crow's Nest.
All the ports and shore excursions were very interesting. The first port of Skagen at the very northerly tip of Jutland, Denmark was beautiful and well worth an early start that meant we were on the beach watching the North Sea & Baltic merge by 8:00 am, Some people we spoke to were not impressed by Skagen & questioned why the port had been visited. I think the Danish authorities insist on another Danish port if a cruise wants to visit Copenhagen. If so that is a good trade off!
Our 2nd port was Stockholm & we awoke at 6:00 to enjoy the sail through the Stockholm Archipelago. We spotted a sea otter, 2 large birds of prey, cormorants, shags and lots of noisy crows on the increasingly inhabited islands as we approached the city. Our excursion was on the Ocean Bus which was entertaining & informative. We were able to enjoy coffe and cake in Stortorget before exploring the Gamla Stan in the afternoon. We saw the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. We visited the Storkyrken before a well-earned drink in the sun. The shuttle back to Arcadia was well-organised. The evening cruise in the Archipelago was like an extra excursion.
P & O wisely swapped the days of the visits to Helsinki & Tallinn to avoid the Putin/Trump summit. We visited Porvoo Old Town to explore the media all streets, make purchases at a chocolate shop and visit the Lutheran Cathedral. Coffee and cold drinks at the Glassikon cafe near the Cathedral is highly recommended. In the afternoon we visited Haikko Manor, a very upmarket hotel and spa on an an inlet from the Baltic. There is a strong Romanov connection with the Manor which had beautiful rooms, grounds & views, as well as sticky buns!
The weekend port was St Petersburg. I was pleased to wake early to see Kotlin Island, the home of the Kronstadt Naval Base. There was a mutiny there in 1921 & the Red Army walked out on the ice to deal harshly with the mutineers. We expected a long & tiresome process to go ashore, but the process through a relatively new cruise terminal was ok. Out first excursion was Panoramic St Petersburg which gave photo opportunities for all the main sights. Tatiana, guide was very good. She told jokes and gave us all Russian lesson. My highlight was visiting the cruiser Aurora. Arcadia was berthed less than a mile from the Krestovsky Stadiam where England played Belgium. The stadium lights changed colour and looked spectacular near a new bridge and the Lakota Tower the tallest building in Europe. In the evening we went to the ballet to enjoy Swan Lake in one of the oldest theatres in the city. The building was spectacular and the performance was brilliant!
On Sunday morning we had a champagne breakfast in our cabin, though we saved the champagne for the evening. Fruit, cheese, cold meats, pastries with tea & coffee was more than enough & we saved some pastries for elevenses! In the afternoon we went on the Peter Paul Fortress and River cruise excursion. Once again Yuri, the guide, was insightful, amusing and very efficient as he moved the tour through the Fortess on a very hot day. The prison was fascinating and the Cathedral contained the tombs of the Romanov Family, including the Royal Family who were killed at Ekaterinburg in 1918.
We sailed for Tallinn on Sunday evening & got even better views of Kotlin Island before dinner. We were berthed at Tallin by 6:30 and was able get photos of the medieval town from the deck before the Costa Magica moored alongside us! The day was to be a hot one. Gregor, the guide, provided a real understanding of Estonia's history. The highlight was a recital of medieval music in one of the many churches in the Old Town. Tallinn was very busy! 4 ships were in port all larger than Arcadia. Perhaps the Helsinki summit added to the congestion, but as Gregor said at least we understood how busy a medieval Baltic port town would have been centuries ago. I know modern Tallinn smells nicer than the Old Town would have been!
Our penultimate port was to be Copenhagen.We arrived at the Langeline Cruise Terminal by by 10 am. We had visited Copenhagen in 2011 for a city break & so opted to visit Frederiksberg Castle at Hillerod & Kronborg Castle at Helsingor. Both sites have convinced us to visit again one day. The drive back to the city was along the Strandvej, th richest road in Denmark. It's 40 km of prime property, small harbours and attractive beaches. We had time for a stroll near the Kastellet and have a coffee and a Holly bar before going aboard.
Oslo was to be the final port. The 60 km long & provided a great introduction to a lively city. We took the Fjord cruise on the old boat Helena. The commentary by the guide who had studied at Lincoln Uni took us through 10000 years of history. A prawn buffet lunch with a glass of rose & a cold was most enjoyable. The new Opera House is spectacular and the view from the Fjord gave beautiful panoramas on another stunning day of weather. The Helena returned to its mooring below the Akershus Fort which we visted to take in different views and an outdoor drama performance of a 19th tear jerker! We then moved on to the Slottsparken via the Raadshussen and historic ships moored nearby. The park at the Royal Palace provided welcome shade and we too photos of very healthy hydrangeas and other attractive plants. We made our way back to the Aker Brygge after coffee, cold drinks & cake in an air conditioned cafe! The bars & restaurants, including Jamie's Italian & TGI Friday, in the modern development on the Aker Brygge were all doing great business! I was disappointed that the Seaside Bar had run out of Norwegian beer and had to choose between a Carlsberg or a Kronenburg! There was plenty of prosecco for Carolyn!
The evening cruise out to sea did not disappoint on a beautiful evening with a very bright half moon.
The 2 sea days back to Southampton were enjoyed in fine weather on calm seas. We packed slowly, took the opportunity to catch up our reading, had swims, played quoits & golf and enjoyed a very tasty afternoon tea in Meridian.
All the staff in all departments of the ship were friendly, polite, helpful and efficient. Roly, our cabin steward, was particularly helpful throughout.
This cruise was only our 3rd in 6 years all with P & O. As you will probably have seen by reading our review we still get excited about the experience & thoroughly enjoy our time at sea. I appreciate that some will take issue with some of our comments, but it takes all sorts!
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