Embarkation at mayflower terminal in Southampton was excellent and trouble free. By the time we had a quick lunch on-board, our luggage was to be found outside our cabin on Egypt deck. The cabin was exactly as we have become accustomed to on P and O ships – small, clean, and adequate for what we need. We knew in advance that the window was totally obscured by a life-boat and so it didn’t bother us. The cabin was kept spotless by Lorie who worked her socks off during the cruise bless her. The only gripe about the cabin was that although it was nice to have a bath in there, the water was never hot enough. We enquired about this and were told that the water temperature was regulated to avoid anyone being accidentally scalded. I would think that since I’m over 50 years old, I could be trusted with hot water by now!
The entertainment on board was mixed to be honest. The Headliners probably were the best that we had ever seen, being really professional to say the least. Not surprising really since they’d come to the end of their contract and hence their performances were polished due to so much practice. The other entertainment was not particularly to our taste so I’d best not criticise unnecessarily as that wouldn’t be fair. We liked the cinema with its massive armchairs, but be warned, booking in advance is required. We witnessed people being asked to move when ticketholders arrived and found interlopers in their seats!
Food. We opted for freedom dining for evening meal in the Meridian which worked out very well. I think it reasonable to say that of all the P and O cruises we’ve been on, the menu and quality of the food on Arcadia was probably the best we have experienced. There appeared to be a lot more choice and the presentation and temperature of the meals was praiseworthy. The Belvedere buffet (or, ‘the canteen’ as we liked to call it) offered food that we could describe as perfectly functional and adequate. Not fancy but OK. The reason we were less enamoured by the Belvedere was simply because the sheer number of people using it made it a scrum to get ones food. Also, having to search for a table was frankly a pain. This was not helped by horrible couples occupying a table for four or six who made it clear that other people were not welcome to join them, despite there being a shortage of seating. Hence, some people were seen to wonder around the buffet looking quite glum just hoping that a table would become free for them to occupy. Because of this we decided to skew our dining times so that we ate when we hoped the least amount of other guests would also be eating (for example, breakfast at 11 am, lunch at 3 pm).
Crew. All excellent, polite, friendly. No issues to report at all in the bars, dining room or shops etc. The ships officers were best described as a little aloof and not too willing to engage with passengers. This was evident at the Captains reception when there were plenty of officers present, but they just looked like the event was a chore and didn’t engage with passengers – or if they did, it was perfunctory only. We saw this again at the private cocktail party we attended (for those guests of Mediterranean tier) where the officers gathered in little groups to chat among themselves and the fact that they were really supposed to be mingling and interacting with guests like ourselves who had been on P and O ships several times appeared to pass them by.
Ports of call. Fabulous, especially St Petersburg - but Skagen, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Warnemunde were very good too. We walked literally miles around these cities using Google maps to guide us with no issues to report in terms of harassment by locals or anything else. Even St Petersburg in Russia was awesome with none of the potential problems such as pickpockets that one sometimes hears about.
Overall, P and O did a good job and we were happy with the cruise on Arcadia. Can’t say any fairer than that!
No problems to report in terms of layout, storage, cleanliness etc. The bed linen was fine, as were the towels. Clean and fresh. The carpet looked new. The fridge worked just fine.
The water was not hot enough for a bath. Also, had to call tech services to unblock the drain as shower water was not draining away.
Tip - take earplugs as the AC is noisy and would have drove me mad if I didn't have ear protection!
Pretty, peaceful. Very easy to walk (we covered 8.5 miles that day). The northern part has a nice beach and you can see where the North Sea meets the Baltic. Also, there are the remains of German WW2 concrete fortifications which is interesting.
Clean, safe, wonderful. Was part of our bucket list to see the Little Mermaid. Excellent!