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4,154 P&O Cruises Cruise Reviews

I promised I would write a review so here goes. Advance apologies if anyone finds my opinions different to theirs! Prices are in £ sterling. General Info This was our eighth cruise..David is my husband and we take our cruises together! ... Read More
I promised I would write a review so here goes. Advance apologies if anyone finds my opinions different to theirs! Prices are in £ sterling. General Info This was our eighth cruise..David is my husband and we take our cruises together! Cruised from Southampton to The Canaries and back to Southampton. The cruise duration was 9 nights. Getting to ship/embarkation. We drove to Southampton and gave the car to Andrews to look after. The journey was a bit fraught as there were holdups on M27 and we had to leave the motorway and find our way through the centre of Southampton. The embarkation was smooth..our cases were taken as we arrived and we saw them again once we reached our cabin. We waited for about 3/4 hour before embarkation and were seated comfortably in the terminal where you could buy drinks, newspapers, magazines and other odds and ends. Quite tranquil. The ship was loaded according to cards handed out as you booked in..all hassle free. First we were taken to one of the beautiful lounges on this ship. It was Anderson's. We made our own way to our cabin after a decent interval as nobody seemed to be coming to escort us. We were highly impressed on our first glimpse of the interior... most tasteful and the 3 deck atrium was quite stunning. The ship has a high level of cleanliness which was maintained throughout the cruise. Cabin we were on deck 9 in the Forward section of the ship...which was very long. I certainly got exercise getting there. The cabin was C128 and was an outside cabin with very large window. The cabin was 150 sq.ft. which included the bathroom. This was the smallest cabin we have ever had. The bathroom had a bath with shower over and it would have been more spacious if there had been just a shower. The cabin used large mirrors judiciously to enhance the size of the room. The bed was 6ft wide..2 singles joined together. We did think to separate the beds to make extra space in the middle..but were too lazy to bother. The wardrobe space had 3 doors with the rails front to back rather than sideways. This was an irritant as you had to reach in trying to unhook those wretched hangers! This was a space saving device I guess. To be fair we had adequate space and we were able to store our large suitcases under the beds. We had two chests of drawers one each side of the bed with 4 drawers in each, plus a dressing table with 4 very spacious drawers. One special plus was the fridge..so much better and cheaper than a minibar. We took on board our own wine and drinks. Also there was a kettle and mugs plus tea coffee milk and sugar so you could make your own refreshments. There were biscuits and chocolate drinks as well. We thought this was a great plus and we found making your own cuppa whenever you wanted was wonderful. There was a TV with remote and we were able to get BBC World, CNN etc. I would like to ask cruise lines to get Sky news as I just hate BBC World which seems to think giving any news about UK as irrelevant! While I am on this topic congratulations to P&O who screened the World Cup Matches not only in the Pacific Lounge but in our cabins...my husband was delighted. The bathroom was well equipped with liquid soap over the shower..Molton Brown no less which is quite an upmarket brand. There was also a bag of goodies including cottonwool, sewing aid, nail files etc. The two bathroom cabinets were quite adequate. All in all the cabin was good...very light. Walking around the ship we thought the inside cabins were equal size with outside..good to know if you plan to have an inside. Also found that cabins in the same letter grade were priced according to location...we were KC forward. KA were on a higher deck and were also in a better location...i.e midships. The next grade cabin up D grade were a much better size and were also well located, but on the port side of the ship they had 3-4 people and were used by families. We would look for a D grade cabin if we could get a special price, but if we really wanted a cruise we would go the same grade as this time. The sound insulation was quite good, although we had only couples next door to us and we heard no noise from above. We were pleased as we cannot stand extraneous noise. Dining & Food We were late bookers and had no choice of dining. We were first sitting and were on a table for 6 people. The other 4 were 2 couples travelling together and all were very pleasant, so no problems there. The food was quite good...not as good as QE2 or Crystal but nevertheless plenty of choice and well presented. Our waiters were very good..all came from Goa and were most professional. The portions were generous and there was always a fish dish and vegetarian selections. Considering the number of passengers on the ship the dining experience was good. We ate in the Peninsular restaurant but the other, the Oriental was a better looking room, purely because it was at the back of the ship with a wrap around window. Dining room was according to cabin location so we were placed in Peninsular. We did sneak into the Oriental for some breakfasts and lunches but it was discouraged and we were asked which restaurant we normally dined in..we ofcourse told a lie..anything to write a good review.. Our readers need to know these things. Breakfast in the dining room ended at 9am..a grave mistake in our opinion. We feel that breakfast should last until 9.30am at least. Dinner began at 6.30 and second sitting was 8.30pm. Because we do not like to dine so early we took advantage of the restaurant in the conservatory...you know, the Lido. Each evening part of this restaurant was transformed into Le Jardin and there was a cover charge of £3.50 per person, which was well worth it in our opinion. We were able to sit in the perfect location overlooking the water with our own waiter taking care of all our needs and the food was really good and very well presented. We ate there more than in the dining room as we enjoyed the experience so much..well done P&O. Turning to breakfast and lunch in the conservatory, I simply do not like the hugger mugger atmosphere of these places..they are generally crowded and noisy and this was no exception..kids shouting others crying and a generally unrelaxed atmosphere. Give me the starched tablecloths and the dignity of the main restaurant any day. There were no themed dinners and no baked Alaska nights..good. My birthday was one night and we managed to avoid the usual happy birthday song, but when we got to our cabin there were the balloons on the door and inside a plate of Belgian chocs. and a card signed by the captain. Very tasteful and much appreciated. The dress code was always adhered to, and we were impressed with the standard of dress on formal nights..people on the Oriana were in my opinion better dressed than on QE2. Of the nine nights 3 were formal, 4 were informal and 2 were casual (first and last nights)There were more men in Tuxes than I had thought would be and I certainly never felt overdressed in my finery. Ship's facilities Found the staff at all levels very helpful and polite..except for one waiter who took umbrage when I asked for fresh tea at breakfast..the cup he poured was stewed. He told me many people liked it like that and made a big production of it. Then he asked my husband if he should go and get another pot of hot water to serve the coffee..very sarcastic.. but there is always the odd rude person isn't there. On board shops had a lot of stock..but the evening clothes for sale were pretty awful and one dress was marked as though it had been worn. Lots of jewellery and perfume..usual inch of gold. Not much to talk about really though quite adequate and there were two shops one on deck 7 and another on deck 6..do ask any questions you would like answered about the shops. They did give a talk about Tanzanite, which I had seen in the Caribbean. The young woman giving the talk about it seemed to read the details and knew very little. When I went to look at the display in the jewellery section, I thought it was vastly overpriced as was the Swarzovski jewellery. The Pave was good and they had a reasonable selection. The Casino gave me a pain..I just love to play the slots but I was convinced that these were calibrated to give least return...I went through £10 in about 10 minutes and this was the worst result on Slots that I have ever had. The other gaming room was well organised and attended,..but we did not play. Looked at the equipment in the gym which was on a high deck..very good and there was a spa there too which was always deserted. Dear reader, I took all my gym clobber but regret to inform you that after looking at all the young men and women exercising ferociously, I just did not get round to my regular exercise. The decks at the aft section where the pools were situated were always crowded on fine days at sea and I have to tell you the German towel syndrome was well in evidence (please do not take offence German readers..this is a British joke) In my opinion British people are very guilty of the towel on sunbed habit. This was a great drawback for us..You simply had to go out and stake your claim about 9am to get a bed. I was unable to get one except on the side promenade deck during the entire cruise. Not to sound too snobbish but the types who do this kind of thing were a bit downmarket and I would not have liked to confront them. The Jacuzzis were also quite crowded. I did not visit the hairdresser..I find them generally overpriced and not that good, so prefer to take my own dryer and fix my own hair. Looked at the cyber study, but sessions on the internet were very expensive and I did not use it. Nor did it ever seem crowded. Liked the library, though I do wish there were some audio books to borrow. I always take one or two as they are amazingly soporific and I never get to listen to more than one side before I am asleep. Hellishly expensive on the batteries! You could borrow 2 books at a time and titles were up to date..some very new ones. You could also buy paperbacks on board, a good idea. The Thackeray room attached to the library was a lovely relaxing room in which to read. I used it all day on the rough day we had on the way home. My husband was disappointed by the lack of bridge players on board. There were 8 others and nobody else came, so he did not get a game. We went to the trivia quizzes. One was at 5.30pm..a stupid time as those going to first sitting found it inconvenient. There was always a good crowd there. Photo gallery same as any other ship..nothing to say really, although as it was on a walkway, it was a bit inconvenient at times. Lots of bars to drink in...not that interested in this so really can only tell you if bars are your scene, you will not be disappointed on Oriana. We loved Tiffany court where a pianist tinkled away before and after dinner..we sipped our cocktails and listened to his great improvisations. I have to say that drink prices on Oriana were very reasonable. I think the drinks on the ship were cheaper than on any other ship we have cruised on. Nothing to say about discos..I am well past that age! Entertainment The theatre Royal was highly impressive..a really large theatre with tiered red plush seats, complete with individual aircon. in each seat..how different!. can only say that this was the best theatre on board that I have seen. The shows were fine..We did enjoy the productions. We heard that they had changed the dance troupe and were trying out a new company..well done P&O as we enjoyed the music and verve of the artists. There were two nights of classical piano recitals in the Curzon room. Most music was well known and well played and I found them most enjoyable. Another artist was an excellent illusionist plus a stand up comedian on a couple of nights....and that was it. The ports of call were well known to us: Vigo..for Santiago De Compostela. We have done the tour before so went shopping in Vigo for ciggies for friends in UK. We do not smoke but the cost of a carton was £10..very cheap. Lanzarote..where we took our only organised tour. The guide was one of the best we have ver had and the landscape of the island was highly dramatic. I would thoroughly recommend this tour. Santa Cruz Tenerife...we wandered around the town of Santa Cruz and found it most relaxing. Madeira.. last port of call. We had been there twice before, but always like a wander around the town of Funchal. Heard that our tablemates enjoyed their tour greatly. There was always a bus to get into town, except in Funchal where a boat was laid on to take you to the middle of town.. all very satisfactory. We had one very rough night on the second night out..I was rather scared, but that was just because it was uncomfortable. The only other rough weather was just after we left Madeira when a strong wind whipped the sea up and there was a most uncomfortable day spent indoors. OK, Now how would I improve this cruise experience.. There were 200 children on the ship...children got very heavy discounts. I think some even went free under a certain age. For us this was one of the downsides. We have children ..and in fact we have grown up teenage grandchildren, but we do not like to spend our cruises with kids..OK you can slate me if you like, but we had thought that in June the kids would still be in school and I have to say I heartily disapprove of parents removing their children in term time to go on hols. I know it is expensive to holiday in the school hols. but we were surprised to see quite so many children. They were well catered for on board and I am sure they enjoyed themselves. We certainly did not like them around at meal times. Why is it that young children wait until meal times to bawl, scream and generally carry on? This was especially apparent in the conservatory where I advise you to keep away if you are looking for tranquility. I am now looking for ships other than Saga where children are not catered for.. having read the review about Arcadia maybe that ship will be the one for me! Next..cinema listings. The cinema is superb and was under utilised both for talks and decent films. They had Charlotte Grey and A beautiful Mind on..but films were poorly advertised and I have written to P&O to suggest they have an advertisement outside the cinema to say what is showing. The films shown in the cabins bore no resemblance to the written program so I did not see any I liked. I am a real film fan and so I was disappointed, especially as the cinema is so good. Saw Harry Potter and Monsters Inc. Both were rather spoilt as parents dropped their children in the cinema and left them.. whereupon some played merry hell. Guest Speakers...where were they?? There was an erudite gentleman who spoke about ports and the tours. We enjoyed his knowledge and thought he was great. There was one other guest speaker, a lady who spoke twice about getting your life in balance..bit jargony and I have a really great balance in my life and did not go on a cruise for self improvement. This lack of guest speakers was a great disappointment to us, having been on other cruises where the guest speakers were pure enjoyment. The under utilisation of so many wonderful lounges. The lounges on this ship were some of the best I have ever seen. How great to serve afternoon tea in such gracious surroundings..but no! Afternoon tea was served in the restaurant or in the dreaded Conservatory..not at all gracious. I like a serene room with a musician in the background and waiters in elegant gloves serving finger sandwiches, scones and cakes using china that is elegant..maybe too much to ask? But this is a British ship and we should be doing tea in style! Well I think by now you will all be bored. As I have been writing I can see that I did really like the Oriana, especially as I paid only £799 for this cruise booked only 3 weeks in advance. There were many other passengers who had paid the same price as us. An inside cabin could be had for £699..so who can complain. I think that the World Cup affected sales and so we were lucky. I would give the cruise 7/10 and would have given a better score except for my moans outlined above. Please feel free to ask questions..but do it soon as we are about to leave on another cruise..this one booked a year in advance. We leave on 11th July on Saga Rose to Iceland, Norway, Shetlands etc and then to Ireland and Scotland. Cheers, annspeakman@homechoice.co.ukJuly 2002 Read Less
As [our travel agent], provided a taxi from home to the Mayflower Terminal, joining the ship was very stress free. The actual embarkation process was quite efficiently carried out by P&O staff and we were soon in our cabin on ... Read More
As [our travel agent], provided a taxi from home to the Mayflower Terminal, joining the ship was very stress free. The actual embarkation process was quite efficiently carried out by P&O staff and we were soon in our cabin on deck 10 and our luggage was delivered to our cabin within a few minutes. The Oriana is a fine well built ship and no expense has been spared, it seems, in quality of the furnishings and equipment. We were pleased with our cabin with balcony which seemed well sound proofed. The Captain, Rory Scott and his officers ran the ship in a very professional manner. The Captain was to be seen around the vessel chatting to passengers but was also we were told quite strict which is always a good thing. Entertainment was really extremely good with the ships dance and song troupe being very versatile and putting their all into their shows. The other entertainers, John Evans; the comedian; Martin Daniels the conjurer/Comedian and Gerard Kenny, the singer/song writer were really excellent. The Maritime Theme lecturers were also very good with the cinema venue often filled to overflowing. The food in general was good with breakfasts being excellent, lunches a bit variable as regards some choices. For instance hot pot and cottage pie are not what one expects on a P&O cruise. Our biggest disappointment however were the main courses at dinner (second sitting) in the Oriental restaurant. Apart from the Captain's Gala Dinner the meat was sometimes tough or overcooked and the fish rather tasteless. We were not alone in commenting on this as others on our table for six echoed this. A pity as this the main meal of the day on a cruise. Our waiters were again very good indeed and perhaps we should have complained about the meat, etc. to our head waiter. We enjoyed the ports of call and the excursions we went on we enjoyed with the guides doing a very good job, one or two having a great sense of humour as well. We had good weather almost throughout the voyage with only quite a gentle swell in the Bay of Biscay. Arriving back in Southampton the disembarking process was pretty efficient probably because of P&O'S considerable experience in Southampton. Finally one or two criticisms: We think P& O are wrong to carry children of up to 11 years old free of charge outside school holiday times, this encourages parents to allow them to miss schooling. It also means that people who book cruises at these times have to put up with noisy and sometimes badly supervised children The children on this cruise completely ignored pool rules and the ships staff made no effort to our knowledge to enforce the rules regarding jumping and diving. We also noticed that P&O are not giving those little touches that other cruise lines give such as chocolates on the pillow each night, fruit in the cabin, toiletries in the bathrooms. This was our first cruise with P&O, but people told us that these used to be provided. In fairness however the provision of binoculars and an atlas in the cabin was a plus point. Overall we did really enjoy our cruise on the Oriana. CopeEdwards@aol.comNovember 2002 Read Less
We decided to escape the cold chill of a British winter and head on a 23 night cruise from Southampton to Southampton via the Caribbean on Aurora. Our party of 3 consisted of Myself (29 yrs old) My Mum and Grandma and we had separate ... Read More
We decided to escape the cold chill of a British winter and head on a 23 night cruise from Southampton to Southampton via the Caribbean on Aurora. Our party of 3 consisted of Myself (29 yrs old) My Mum and Grandma and we had separate accommodation. I had the fortune of having a cabin with a balcony,it's such a luxury to have your own personal space outside. Now with ships having balcony cabins on the "standard" grades as well as superior grades, having a balcony is now more affordable. The other members of the party were lucky enough to have a mini suite for the 23 day cruise, which of course put my cabin to shame, but as the cruise was a Christmas present I couldn't really complain!!! Our ports of call were Madeira, Tortolla, St.Lucia, Barbados, The Azores and back into Southampton on a chilly January morning. I find it amazing that people slate the ports of call on these reviews, maybe they should do some research before booking! Embarkation was good, as our party had a mini suite, we were offered priority embarkation, however as it was the Christmas cruise, P&O had mince pies (traditional British Christmas fare) and a choir to sing carols. This made the time pass quickly, but as I said earlier we were ushered onto the ship about 15 mins after completing the check in formalities. Cabin Steward- unfortunately the name of my steward escapes me, after all this review is being written some 18 months after the cruise, however the reason I don't remember his name was that he wasn't any good. Several times he knocked and entered without waiting for a response, catching me twice with nothing on. However he did provide towels, and serviced the room well, if not in a timely fashion (sometimes not until the afternoon) Restaurant- There is a multitude of choice for dining arrangements onboard. The traditional cruise two seating policy, with two restaurants (one midship, the other aft) a 24 hour French style bistro and the normal pizza place. You could eat 24 hours 7 days if you wished. Remember to book at the Cafe Bordeaux if you want to dine there at least 24 hours in advance. Overall the food was fine, traditional British Fare combined with some Indian dishes ( P&O has traditionally used waiters and staff from India for over 150 years) and the highlight was New Year's Eve, where a feast fit for a king was served (no pun intended!!) However on other nights food was good, but not in comparison with NYE. Our waiters were keen to please, and did the utmost in their power to keep us happy, they were so good at their job that we tipped them more than the recommended amount. However some people at our table decided to eat at Cafe Bordeaux on the last night so they could avoid seeing our waiters to give them their tips. The entertainment- Shocking is a word I would use to describe this, they flew in a minor celebrity into Barbados so he could cruise back with the ship ( more to the point so he could spend Christmas in the sun in Barbados) for folks from the UK he was Roy Walker from Catchphrase. Cinema releases were out of date, and the boy band on the ship for all the children acted like children themselves, behaving badly in public places, combined with some shows that could only be described as naff and poor quality. Children- Well it was a Christmas cruise, and as much as I don't mind children, they seemed to be EVERYWHERE, in the pools, in the Jacuzzi etc, and were generally badly behaved. Underage drinking was rife (not the ships fault, but parents seemed to give their cruise cards to the teenagers so they could buy drinks after they went to bed) of course some teenagers bought their own whilst ashore and kept it well hidden from mum and dad. Fitness- two pools for adults, and one for children (not that they paid any attention to the fact that their pool was at the back of the ship!) they were well maintained with plenty of fresh towels. The gym had some nice equipment to burn off all the calories provided by the excess food over the Christmas period. Massages etc were expensive, but if you look in the ship's paper they have offers on port days, if you can spare the time, this is the best opportunity to use these services as you can get at least a 30% discount. The public rooms on Aurora are very accommodating, especially Andersons (named after one of the founders of P&O) drink prices were exceptionally good, a pint of beer was about £1.60, a gin and tonic came in at under £2.00, not bad considering that at a pub at home they could be twice that price. The design of the ship is quite good, except for access to the aft dining room. If you are seated here, make sure that you get down early, otherwise you will be waiting on the stairs until the doors open for dinner. Officers were good, and were found almost everywhere in the evening. Some people complained about officers having a drink in the public rooms, however please remember that they work a 16 hour day, don't have a day off in 6 months and after all it is their home. We had the Captain at our table for one night, a very good communicator and we had an excellent time enjoying his company. So what can I say about the whole experience, compared to other lines (RCCL, NCL, Princess, and Swan Hellenic) they do a great job of looking after you whatever your age. The only real complaint was my cabin steward, and some really rude old people (it looks like they are an epidemic on cruise ships these days) and some drunken teenagers (but hey it was New Year's Eve so they are forgiven) Any questions, please feel free to email me. James Read Less
Sail Date December 2002
This was the first proper cruise that my partner and I have done. We did it as a trial as we have booked on the QE2 transatlantic crossing in Dec 04 and wanted to check a bit of a cruise while we waited. This was a great experience. It ... Read More
This was the first proper cruise that my partner and I have done. We did it as a trial as we have booked on the QE2 transatlantic crossing in Dec 04 and wanted to check a bit of a cruise while we waited. This was a great experience. It was a 4 day/ 3 night "taster" on the Aurora that I assume is to try and get people like us to give cruising a try. Although, we only ever met people that were experienced cruisers who were using the short trip as a "top-up" to get their cruise fix before longer cruises! The 3 nights involved going from Southampton - Zeebrugge - Guersney - Southampton. We had booked into a mini-suite. The following are some observations and thoughts: Check-in/ embarkation: amazing The check in was so smooth and easy to do. More used to airline travel we were amazed at how efficient and organized it was. We barely stood in line. Once into the waiting area (which is neat and tidy but not very exciting) we felt that they could offer more for passengers to do. We had an priority boarding as we were in a mini-suite. We were taken to ANDERSONS bar and given a drink and sandwiches. Cabin We were very very impressed. It is around 350 sq feet. With a massive king size bed (I belive made from 2 singles), bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and 2 basins, lounge area with clever set up where a dining room table is inserted into a desk area. The balcony comfortably held 2 chairs and a lounger. There were chocolates, flowers and champagne to greet us. Dining We had second sitting in the ALEXANDRIA. It looked good. The service was so good it was almost invisible that you barely even realized it was all happening. Drinks were reasonably priced, and the food was varied and delicious. We had been put with a good set of people, 2 single travellers and a couple. All were regular cruisers and so we spent many happy hours chatting and getting their advice. We had breakfast and lunch in the MEDINA each day as that had a served breakfast and lunch, preferring that to the ORANGERY which had a buffet. Service here was more patchy. Maybe as they knew that we would not be influencing their tips. The formal tea was also in that restaurant. That was very good indeed with a lovely selection of pastries, cakes, sandwiches etc Entertainment etc - We used the gym twice. It is well equipped and bright. It would be good if they had TVs or better music as the gym instructor played techno dance music all the time which was not ideal! - The spa was good, and we both had excellent and (compared to UK land prices) very reasonably priced back, neck and shoulder massage. - The shows put on by the theatre company (young dancer/ singers) were good. They have huge energy, and while clearly they had a good singing and dancing coach/ director they probably need some help on the staging and "book" as that was a bit amateur. But they were very enjoyable. - The casino was small and very smoke filled. - Tours on offer were varied and well organized. Overall We thought the ship was great. It was very clean and well maintained -and you never saw anyone doing it so like the restaurant service it is done quietly and so as you don't notice it. The shops were terrible - and we felt a real missed opportunity as even though we wanted to spend money all they had was fragrance, some clothes if you had forgotten something and a bit of watches, chains etc. It is a large and beautiful ship and looks great too! Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
We arrived in Barbados to a quick and speedy departure from the airport and straight to the ship. Didn't have to go through customs or anything, straight onto the bus and straight to the ship, this was a bonus and not what we had been ... Read More
We arrived in Barbados to a quick and speedy departure from the airport and straight to the ship. Didn't have to go through customs or anything, straight onto the bus and straight to the ship, this was a bonus and not what we had been used to. Quite a queue when we got to the ship but to be expected as we had all just got off the plane. For first time cruisers it was spectacular going through the atrium to get to their cabins. Unfortunately on arrival at our cabin we were terribly disappointed, the bathroom and the cabin were dirty and also the fridge. We had to ring housekeeping for our cabin steward to come and clean our cabin - we could not have stayed in this cabin if it had not been thoroughly cleaned. Even when it had been re-cleaned we cleaned door handles etc., ourselves as we couldn't be sure. Our first experience of the Plaza buffet was also disappointing as there were only minimal dishes and food available and thought if this was the state of things to come it was going to be very disappointing after our last 4 cruises (all on Princess) and not what we were used to. We went along to our safety drill and then retired to bed as the whole family were really tired (2 children also). The next day things looked rather better apart from the weather (raining) in Mayreau. We went to the restaurant for the first time and had a wonderful first class meal. We had actually been on this ship before when it was Ocean Princess a couple of years ago, so knew our way fairly well around the ship. The children joined the Children's Centre which was excellent and all the staff. This year they were in two separate groups (aged 11 and 8) so their clubs finished at different times. Our whole experience of the children's centre was fantastic. They were entertained, dined, taken to the theatre etc,. etc., all in all they had a magnificent time on the ship the whole 2 weeks. Our restaurant was the Adriatic dining room and every meal we took there was fantastic as well as our two waiters Joe and Chan - they could not have made our experience any better than they did. The Plaza did improve after the first nights experience and we put that down to the fact that it was the first night. The themed buffets that we attended (ie. seafood, chocolate and Mexican and Indian) were all magnificent and we truly enjoyed them. All in all we had a fantastic holiday. We have been used to cruising with Princess and this was the first time with P&O. The themed buffets were excellent, meals excellent, children's facilities excellent. The poolside and ship hygiene was not in the same league as the Princess ships and this was very noticeable to us. It was wonderful not having to pay 15% tax on all drinks etc. but we did miss the children's drink voucher enabling children to unlimited soft drinks - perhaps this is something P&O should think about. Might I just mention that Thomas Cook airlines who transported us on our flights were excellent. There were a few experiences with illness on our flight home and they looked after passengers in a fantastic and professional way. Cafe Jardin (snack bar) we used a lot especially with the children and found it a great experience. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me about the ship. All in all a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
This was our first cruise and a 25th wedding anniversary treat. We visited Eire, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. We flew down to Southampton the day before and stayed into a pre-booked hotel (Novotel) we booked independently. Avoid this ... Read More
This was our first cruise and a 25th wedding anniversary treat. We visited Eire, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. We flew down to Southampton the day before and stayed into a pre-booked hotel (Novotel) we booked independently. Avoid this hotel if you can. The room was dirty and at breakfast the kitchen were unable to provide the gluten-free meal I had asked for weeks in advance and confirmed by telephone earlier that week. Check in was okay but the waiting facility in Southampton is rather dull. The actual cruise was fantastic. We had a Stateroom with balcony and bath. Nora, our steward was incredible. Nothing was too much bother for her. As we are early risers our cabin was usually serviced prior to us returning after breakfast which we took in the Orangery most mornings. Having special diet requirements meant we could pick and choose what was suitable. We also took lunches in the Orangery as I really like to pick my own salad and my husband just likes eating. Dinner was in the Medina Restaurant, first sitting, at a table for eight. Everyone on our table was wonderful and we have kept in touch. We were the only cruise virgins at that table though..... My gluten-free diet was no problem at all - the head waiter (Chris) always took my order one evening for the next evening so everyone at our table got a preview. The entertainment was okay. Jimmy Cricket was certainly the star for us - we went to both his shows. The company entertainers tried very hard and made up for their short comings with their enthusiasm. One gentleman player had real star quality and I do hope he "makes it". The bridge lessons were a huge disappointment and we voted with our feet. The library was fine and I read stuff I normally wouldn't - and enjoyed it. cyb@study was expensive and I didn't use it. Too much like the day job. We spent a lot of the sea days in the Crows Nest and the service was attentive but I found once I had refused a drink I wasn't pestered. But when I did want something a smile at the waiter brought almost immediate service. The art auctions were a huge hit with us and we were lucky enough to win two pieces in the prize draws. Unfortunately P&O messed up the paperwork on one of the items and it took a lot of time and effort to sort out the customs and VAT after we got home. Excursions were not good value for money. We got most value by making our own arrangements. We did do the white-water rafting when we were in Norway which I would do again though. We are keen kayakers and I took my own dry suit for this although suits were provided (I'm tall and curvy so usually have problems getting centre provided suits to fit!) Nuuk harbour (Greenland) is a tender port and not good for anyone who isn't great on their feet as the access from the tender to the harbour is by very slippy and uneven steps. There were a few tumbles there. Not P&O's fault but something that the Greenland authorities will have to look at if they want more cruise ships to call. Disembarkation (again Southampton) was very polished. We had to berth in the QE2 berth but P&O had everything laid on with cars transferred for people who had left them and loads of taxis (fixed fares) ready to whisk us to the airport or rail stations. That's it folks! Next trip is with NCL in December..... Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
The short summary is that we LOVED this new ship to the P&O fold and we loved the cruise around the Mediterranean, finding nothing major to highlight as areas P&O could focus on to make it better! The areas we wrote on the feedback ... Read More
The short summary is that we LOVED this new ship to the P&O fold and we loved the cruise around the Mediterranean, finding nothing major to highlight as areas P&O could focus on to make it better! The areas we wrote on the feedback form I will cover later in the review. We did find - however - that very regular P&O cruisers seemed almost eager to want to find things about the ship that they did not like. We found as we met people that they were constantly trying to compare it to other P&O ships, versus focusing on the merits or otherwise of the ARCADIA. That is probably a reflection of just how popular the other ships are! As when we pushed and asked exactly what do you not like, we almost always got the response "um, well, um, we can't quite put our finger on it, but it just isn't the same". Although surely if you want the same you go on the same ship? The 4 specific things people we spoke to did not like were things that (in my view) a bit of simple research before the cruise would have told people about, and are well covered in the brochure, the detailed P&O website (http://www.pocruises.co.uk) and the various P&O groups/chat rooms. These things were: 1) The ship wasn't "glitzy" enough. The P&O material sent out through the building of the ship and in the brochure/ website seems to talk and show how they were going for a more "British"/ under-stated / sophisticated look. 2) The atrium wasn't spectacular. It is (admittedly) only 3 decks high and very simple. People seem to feel that this was a missed opportunity and an important part of any ship that was missing. 3) The Crow's Nest is not that great. I agree. The one in AURORA, for example, with its tiered seating and layout creates a much better atmosphere and is a much better place to visit and spend time in. the one on ARCADIA is a bit sterile. 4) The ship was too big, and takes too long to walk from the back to the front.... We did, however, think the ship is fantastic. And would go back on it in a flash! The fact that it is an adult only ship was a big plus too, as we could get easy access to the pools at all times... The ship, in our view, itself is very tastefully done in muted colours and stylish contemporary fittings and furniture. It was not loud and brash anywhere, except the disco that was funky (although maybe a bit like a teen/ kids fun club). The ship overall is not brash and "Las Vegas" like. The overall look is fairly consistent through the ship, and there is a not a lot of difference in the various rooms. They have gone for consistency, rather than making every public area very different from each other. This is probably the thing some people missed from other ships. Here are some thoughts on some of the areas and rooms: Cabin. B059 Hong Kong Suite We were in this suite on B deck. It was fantastic. It is large (over 500 square feet including the expansive balcony). It has a great seating area with large sofa and chairs. There is a small dressing room, and bathroom with separate shower and "Jacuzzi" bath and 2 basins. The bed was very comfortable and huge - especially when together as they make a king size at least. It has a flat screen TV and DVD player, and piles of storage (we took loads of clothes and stuff and did not even use all the storage). It had butler service (which I still do not really understand!! Perhaps it is just that we don't use them enough as all he really did was bring canapes, our breakfast a few times and chatted to us!. Saying all the above, I am not sure the cost of a suite on the ship is worth it. I think a mini-suite would be very good indeed, and from what we saw the staterooms were a great size and had decent sized balconies. I will go for one of these 2 options next time Meridian Restaurant -- On 2 levels, at the back of the ship, it has an open and bright feel with lots of windows and very striking and unusual light fittings. The food was excellent, and service outstanding. The Palladium Theatre -- Wow! Over 3 levels this is huge. It is hard to remember that you are on a ship. The stage has all sorts of fancy features like in the West End. The shows ranged from a Cirque style show (which was VERY impressive), Andrew Lloyd Weber Best of, West End Favorites, Flashback Review of '60s - '90s. The cabaret was an old TV personality from the UK TV shows "Catchphrase" which was not our taste and a Violinist Showman who we did not go and see. Saying that, I thought the shows were better than we had seen on the QE2 in December by a long way! Decor -- Vivo--  A small coffee shop I used a fair bit as the filter coffee in the other areas was terrible! You pay for the coffee and you get muffin or sandwich etc., included. A pleasant enough area situated next to the Cyber lounge. It did not seem overall to be used that much. Belvedere -- Self Service -- We usually do not like the Lido style places on ships, but we liked this one. It was much better decor than the usual, something most people commented on. The seating runs along large windows on either side of the ship offering great views. It was very large with spread out counters all themed on different types of food, and open 24 hours. The layout meant much less queuing than in many Lido style places on ships we have been on so far. We used it much more than we have ever on other ships. Gym -- This is very large and overlooks the bow of the ship. Bright with wide range of machines and free weights. A good number of classes were on offer. Spa -- Very large but horribly over-priced with fairly inexperienced therapists. NOT worth the money. A lot of passengers agreed! This is a pity as they have given up a lot of space for the spa and it is just not good value for money at all. Cyber Room -- Good size and number of PCs. But as with many ships access was expensive. There was wireless access in most of the public rooms but not in the cabins (unfortunately). Arcadia Rhodes and Orchid Restaurants -- These are the 2 alternative dining options where you pay a surcharge. Both are lovely rooms. We went to the Gary Rhodes one. It was a nice evening - but to be honest the food in the main restaurant was so good and varied that we did not really think it worth the extra cost and so did not go back. It seemed to be fairly empty, although later in the cruise it did get busier we believe. Pools -- Very nice indeed! We used them a lot as the weather was very good. The areas that we suggested P&O think about in our feedback were: 1. Spa – this needs to be sorted out as it is too expensive and staff are not experienced enough for the prices. 2. Crows Nest – needs some work to turn it into a more pleasant and inviting space. 3. Casino – A great range of equipment and games. But the staff is all so miserable. Everywhere else the staff are cheery and helpful. Something is not right in the casino! 4. Filter Coffee – this is terrible! Get another brand please! 5. Wireless access – get it into the cabins. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
AURORA - "Simply The Best?" or "On the Road To Nowhere!" Tina Turner's hit single is played at every opportunity on board P&Os queen of the fleet but since a Canary cruise last year has 12 months sailing ... Read More
AURORA - "Simply The Best?" or "On the Road To Nowhere!" Tina Turner's hit single is played at every opportunity on board P&Os queen of the fleet but since a Canary cruise last year has 12 months sailing around the world made a difference ? Sadly, yes ! Whether the result of the American Carnival takeover or whether a direct impact of Aurora's fateful engine replacement this year costing P&O $millions in repairs and lost revenue, the message and ethos is now an overwhelming sense of cut back, downsize and generate as much IOR (increased Onboard Revenue) as humanly possible. It is a very sad stain on what could otherwise be a very pleasant cruising experience. Cover charges in the Pennant Grill (the outside restaurant) have risen in 12 months from £5 to £6.75 a 35% increase! Meals are free everywhere else. Even an espresso or cappuccino at dinner now requires a surcharge ! Bar waiters are on commission and as a result assault you at every opportunity with a tenacity rivaling that of double glazing salesmen. I sit down and zap the waiter is there. "Would you like a Martini perhaps sir" he says, the £ signs flashing in his eyes as they are £5.25 a crack. No thanks I say. "Perhaps a cocktail sir?". Only £3+ but worth a try. No thanks I say again. "I'd just like a Gin and Tonic please". "Will that be a large one sir?" he says in a last desperate attempt to extract as much expenditure out of me as he can. And this tirade drools out of every waiter every time you want a drink as if they were answering a call centre helpline call. If I want a large Gin & tonic I'll ask for a double like any normal person. If I ask for a Gin & Tonic I mean a Gin & Tonic. If this seems an OTT response believe me it's not. The repetitive pleas from every waiter for you to buy Martini's will wear you down and ruin your otherwise relaxing visit to the Crows Nest. Portions in the main restaurants (Medina and Alexandria) have become pitiful and one wonders how far the cost cutting can go ! My main dish of King Prawn Biryani one night had only 3 king prawns in it! That was my main meal! A starter or garlic mushrooms another night had just 3 mushrooms! You ask the waiter as best you can without wanting to sound greedy and you have to fight to get anything extra. Last year we happily ordered multiple starters instead of soups and so on. This year I could probably eat better at an average English restaurant and in terms of the biryani at my local curry house ! Here's another great "mystery" that appears to affect every cruise from the feedback I have received. After a few days the Spa/Salon always runs out of cheap hair sprays and instead only sells cans at £11 a go !! Funny how they can't anticipate demand after each cruise. Ginger beer ran out swiftly too, it being one of a select few soft drinks that come in normal large cans rather than the ridiculous mini cans that are £1.15. On-Shore excursions were also expensive and in general were noticeably worse than last year. There were some exceptions to this. Overall, cruising with P&O was great last year but now the experience is tainted with cutbacks. There is absolutely no doubt that Aurora has a major financial deficit to make up from it's engine refit and boy are you going to pay for it over the next 12-24 months! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of ... Read More
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of 77,000 tons; she has a maximum operating capacity of 2272 passengers and 870 crew. The ship has 12 passenger decks, 2 swimming pools (fresh water) a couple of splash pools and 5 Jacuzzis. There are 2 main restaurants; currently offering two sittings for dinner, but this, I understand is due to change in April, when one of the restaurants will become `open seating`. There is also the Plaza restaurant for casual dining, and in the evening, this restaurant transforms, together with the Horizon Grill, into alternative dining venues, with reservations required and at a supplement (currently £6.75 or USD$11.00) per person. The Cafe Jardin on deck 8 provides food 24 hours a day. There are two primary show lounges, no fewer than 10 bars/lounges serving alcohol and coffees, a casino, a well-stocked library, a cyber study facility, an avenue of shops, a photo gallery, an art gallery and a number of launderettes for use by passengers (washers and driers are free, but guests must supply their own soap, available for purchase from the shop onboard). There is also a very active club with a highly energetic and enthusiastic staff, catering for the needs of children and teenagers. P & O, now part of the Carnival Corporation, operates a fleet of 5 ships. The homeport for their ships is Southampton, England and P & O have a sea-going tradition since 1837, -some 169 years experience. Each year, during the winter months, three of its ships depart on World Cruises, whilst the remaining two ships are based in the Caribbean. During the other seasons, the fleet operates to and from Southampton on cruises of varying durations, offering a wide choice of itineraries. The company claim that they operate a service of `Traditional British Cruising`. The currency on board is the pound sterling (£). Documentation for this cruise was factual, informative and correct and arrived in good time prior to sailing. The full programme of shore excursions was also provided and these could be booked in advance. On this particular cruise, there was a wide range in the ages of passengers, from children in `buggies` to elderly grand parents. All seemed to mix well and there was a relaxed holiday mood on board. The ship had been skillfully and beautifully decorated and it was evident that Christmas was just around the corner. The cruise had been named the `Calypso Island Christmas Cruise`. It was of 14 days duration, sailing to and from Barbados. There were 10 ports of call and 3 days at sea, Christmas Day and Boxing Day being two of the days spent `at sea`. It was a `port intensive` cruise, especially in the latter stages and most passengers, would have liked a `sea day` at some stage in between these ports of call. Consideration should be given to perhaps re-thinking future itineraries, after a long flight from the UK, most passengers would appreciate the first day, being a sea day, to get over the four hour time difference and to take time to relax and get into the `cruise mode`, or perhaps have the overnight stay in Barbados at the beginning of the cruise, rather than at the end. Additionally, a further suggestion being - New Years Day  after the activities of New Years Eve  a day at sea, rather than St Kitts, especially on a Sunday (and a public holiday at that) would have been welcomed. In order to transport passengers to and from the embarkation port, P&O charters a number of aircrafts which depart from various UK airports. Unfortunately all best plans can encounter difficulties and a number of the flights were late in arriving in Barbados, thus delaying our ships departure time by 2 hours. As with all charter airlines, there is very limited seat space and legroom on such flights, in-flight catering was basic to say the least, but the airline did offer a free bar service. One of the convenient things in regard to these flights, is that when you check-in your luggage in the UK, it is transported in sealed units directly to the ship and is delivered directly to your cabin. This saves the hassle of having to claim your baggage at the arrival airport and transfer it to a coach to take you to the ship. Additionally, coaches meet the flight at the airport steps, and passengers are transferred directly to the ship, thus avoiding long lines for Immigration Procedures to take place. P & O Cruises do offer guests, the option of using the service of scheduled flights to and from Barbados at hefty supplements. Similar arrangements are in place for the return flights. Check-in procedures for the cruise, is carried out in a shed adjacent to the ship. These were friendly, quick, and professionally carried out. On boarding the ship, members of the crew were available to escort or direct guests to their cabins. For this cruise, we had chosen an outside cabin with balcony (JD) Grade. . There are 23 grades of cabins on the Oceana, ranging from inside twins to suites. There are no single cabins, but the company do offer solo guests the opportunity of purchasing a twin for sole use at a supplement. These supplements vary, depending of the cruise, the date and duration of the cruise. P & O also offer a `share cabin` programme for solo travellers. On arrival at our cabin, we were disappointed at the size (178 sq feet, including balcony)  the smallest size for this type of cabin throughout P&O`s fleet. However it was well furnished and comfortable. There is also excellent privacy on the balconies. The balconies are best described as another cruise company so describes them as `sheltered balcony cabins` as they are not the traditional balconies, but rather, balconies within the ships hull. Facilities in the cabins include a remote control television, tea and coffee making facilities, a safe, hairdryer, air-conditioning, en-suite shower room and a refrigerator. Storage space was limited. The balcony accommodated two recliner chairs and a small table. The net curtains on the window, which lead to the balcony were stained and contained a number of holes (probably resulting in being caught in the sliding balcony door). The en-suite was tiny (I was able to spread my arms and touch both walls, and there was very little space between my knees, when sitting on the `throne` and the door of the unit). Luxury toiletries available, but no bathrobes or slippers or fresh fruit are provided. Towels were, on occasions hard and thread borne. The shower curtain was also badly stained. The shower worked, although noisy, with varying water pressures but with an abundant supply of piping hot water. The water from the taps in this unit is safe for drinking. The cabin was spotlessly clean and was kept in this condition throughout the cruise. Each cabin is equipped with a standard 13-amp plug (British style socket) and a 110-volt American style socket. In the en-suite, there are 110/230-volt plugs for electric shavers. There is a good room service menu available during the day until late evening and then this becomes very limited. Full breakfast is not available via room service only Continental breakfast. The cabin steward, shortly after arrival, came to the cabin, introduced himself and did show us how the cabin facilities operated. He also showed us where our life jackets were located, where our Muster Station were located, and asked that we spend some time, watching the video presentation currently being shown on the television, in advance of the Muster Drill. I requested additional towels, ice and feather pillows and was advised that he would have to request these, and that they would be delivered the next day, with the exception of the ice which he provided. When we retired to bed that first evening, we were surprised to find that there were two separate single duvets on the double bed, this somehow seemed strange. We asked the cabin steward for a double duvet, who advised us that none were available, but when we spoke with his supervisor, one was supplied within 24 hours (a point worth remembering  double duvets are available). Lots of things on this ship appear to be `on request`. The ship itself is well appointed with soft furnishings, interesting art works, comfortable sofas and sympathetic lighting in public areas. The ship is relatively easy to negotiate and is well signed  one things of note, especially for guests who may have walking difficulties, is that only the elevators at the front of the ship, serve all passengers decks. The elevators to the rear only serve 7 of the decks and the glass elevators in the Atrium only serve 4 passenger decks. The ship was full for this sailing, but didnt feel `crowded`. On sea days the area around the main swimming pools did get packed and sun loungers were at a premium. However space and any number of sun loungers could be found in other deck areas around the ship. The Atrium in mid-ships, spans 4 passenger decks, and is a wonderful place for `people watching`. On the ground floor, are the reception desk (open 24 hours), shore excursions office, future cruise sales desk and The Portunus Club Representative (P&O`s loyalty club). One of the first things that one notices on this ship is the immaculate turnout of the staff in all departments (from the middle ranking officers to the deck stewards, from the waiters to the all too important guys who work on their knees polishing the brasses and keeping the ship clean). All seem to be happy and enjoy their work, and almost all had smiles on their faces and greeted and acknowledged guests presence with a simple Good Morning or Good Evening Sir  a feature unfortunately lacking nowadays on so many ships. On previous cruises with P&O, it was common to see senior officers walk around the ship and converse with passengers, not on this ship  the absence of senior officers seen in public areas was very noticeable, in fact it was a rarity and many of the guests were so disappointed - this topic seemed to come up in most conversations, especially among past passengers and first time cruisers were amazed that there was no opportunity to have their picture taken with either the Captain or Staff Captain. ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME The Entertainment Programme on this ship can only be described as excellent in all regards. There was something for everyone! West End or Hollywood style shows, specialist entertainers, guest lecturers, music of all kinds  a full and varied programme, details of which were clearly outlined in the ships on-board information bulletin `Oceana Today` which was delivered to cabins daily. The highly talented Cruise Director and staff were always visible throughout the ship and again distinguishable by their smart turnout and coordinated dress. A nice touch on board, is that this line really do want single passengers travelling alone to feel welcome and `inclusive` without `intrusion`. Early on in the cruise there was a meeting for such travellers, and each day, it was advertised that a member of the Cruise Staff would be available to meet solos for coffee and a chat at a given venue and time. On the night of the Captains Formal Reception, the group met some 15 minutes prior to the commencement of this reception. Some of the ladies travelling solo indicated to me that this arrangement was excellent, as many felt embarrassed at attending such events on previous cruise ships by themselves. The only adverse comment that I would make in respect of the entertainment on board is in relation to their scheduling of programmes  on some occasions major events did overlap which caused disappointment. On other occasions, one had to make the difficult choice between a featured production show or celebrity entertainment. Guests on 2nd seating dining lost out in this regard, whereas if one of the shows had have been scheduled as a pre-dinner show, we could have then had the benefit of attending each. With the wealth of entertainment at P&O`s disposal on board, it was disappointing at their programme choices on both Christmas night and New Years Eve. The entertainment offered on Christmas night was exactly the same as on offer on Christmas Eve  the same shows and featured entertainment, whilst on New Years Eve, the choice was a deck party or listening to a pianist or attending a church service. On `holiday cruises`, guests pay `over the odds` for the cruise and on each of these evenings, we expect, not only with P&O but with other cruise companies, to pull out all the stops on these festive nights. The late start of some of the events/shows/lectures was annoying. In cabin television options and programming too was excellent, with a wide range and choice of programmes and films for viewing. I particularly liked the `Christmas Channel` - which showed both old and modern Christmas Films  these brought back many childhood memories. RESTAURANT AND FOOD SERVICE. There are two main restaurants onboard Oceana  the Adriatic and Ligurian, both are similar. We were allocated the Adriatic, where the restaurant manager endeavoured to accommodate all of the guests requirements. Totally professional, it amazed me as to how he remembered most peoples names. He was ably assisted by a number of Headwaiters. Tables are very close together in both of the main restaurants; most seating- 4,6 or 8 guests  there were a few tables for 2. The majority of tables are rectangular in shape and we find that there can be difficulty in communicating with all `tablemates` on tables of this design and find that round or oval shaped tables are more user-friendly in this regard. The ceiling in both restaurants is low, thus the noise levels within the restaurants tends to be high. Food service in the main restaurants was excellent. Our regular waiter and assistant waiter at dinner were particularly proficient in this regard. However presentation was very disappointing, except at the Gala Dinners. Food was wholesome, plentiful, varied and tasty. It was `packing` food  it was good - no pretty pictures on the plate here! Currently the vegetables are served `Silver Service`, but unfortunately from April this practice is going to stop and meals served will be plated  this is unfortunate. Breakfast and lunch are `open seating`, whereby dinner is currently by assigned tables. We found that cooked breakfasts in the restaurant would have tasted better if they had have been served hot, rather than luke-warm. There is a `special` on the breakfast menu each day. The breakfast menus were typically traditional British breakfast fare. The selection and variety of bread served at dinner, as did the choice of Danish Pastries at breakfast left a lot to be desired  very little in the way of choice and mostly the same variety each evening -often they were stale. The choice of juices at breakfast in both the formal and casual restaurants was limited. I requested Cranberry juice and was advised that this would have to come from a bar and would be chargeable. One of the things that I enjoy on cruises, is the array and taste of the fresh fruit usually available, not on this cruise  just the basics, melon, pineapple, apples, pears, oranges, bananas and grapes  nothing exotic at all. I found most of the time that the fruits served were not ripe (although this did improved a little as the cruise progressed) and lacked any sort of taste. I usually enjoy a fruit platter for starters both at breakfast and dinner. On the first evening, I asked if I could have such a platter and was refused, melon only being available. The next evening I was advised, that such a platter is available, but only available through ` Special Order` and requested though the Headwaiter. I made these requests and received my fruit platters, but no thought had gone into their presentation (which is so important on a cruise), just slices of fruit dumped on a plate. The choice of cheeses available was excellent. There are no salad courses on the dinner menus  these are  yes you have guessed it - `by request`. Caesar Salads were however available daily as a main course dish, as was chicken, salmon and sirloin steak. The Gala Dinner served on Christmas Day was however outstanding, in regards to choice, presentation, quality and quantity. Lots of thought, time, and care had obviously been taken into making this particular dinner one of the highlights of the cruise. The Yuletide buffet lunch served in a formal restaurant on Boxing Day was spectacular both in looks and presentation and tasted every bit as good. A chocoholics buffet served one afternoon was most popular and it was pleasing that the needs of diabetics were cater for. In relation to The Plaza  the Casual Dining Restaurant, the first thing that is noticed, is that there are no trays, on which to carry plates, utensils and glasses or cups to the tables - these are needed  especially for those in ripper years, and would also save the need for guests to keep returning to the buffet areas for each course thus avoiding congestions in this area. Food here was reasonably varied and hot food was hot. This venue was the home of rich, fattening and appealing desserts. Unfortunately there was little evidence of the use of `real cream` on these desserts; mostly it was synthetic, as was the cream to accompany the scones in the afternoon in The Plaza. Real cream while more `naughty` does give an enriched taste. Unlike other ships, fruit juices are only available during breakfast service, at other times they have to be purchased from the adjacent bar. Traditional Afternoon Tea (P&O style) is served, is on most days in one of the dining rooms. Throughout the P&O fleet, there are three set dress codes for the evening - Formal  a dinner jacket, white tuxedo or dark suit and tie for gentlemen and long or short evening wear for ladies. Informal  jacket, shirt and tie, or smart shirts which do not require a tie when worn with a linen or blazer-style jacket for men and for the ladies the option ranges from tailored trousers to cocktail dresses. Casual  stylish resort or leisure wear for both men and women. Shorts are not permitted in any of the main or specialty restaurants for dinner. On this cruise, there were 4 formal nights and the remainder were casual. It was pleasing to see that almost every passenger did comply with the dress code. Indeed, many passengers chose on the casual nights to `up dress` (to the dress that is suggested for informal nights  it was obvious that these guests were seasoned P&O cruisers who recalled the days when the dress code onboard P&O ships was either formal or inform only. SHORE EXCURSION PROGRAMME. A wide selection of shore excursions were available at each of the ports of call. The staff in the shore excursions office were most knowledgeable. These were keenly priced and offered value for money. TENDER SERVICE. At ports where tender service was in operation, this transfer procedure was carried out swiftly and smoothly. SECURITY STAFF. Particular mention must be made in relation to the Security Staff on this vessel. They carried out their various duties in a totally proficient and competent manner. No scowls here  pleasant, always a smile on their faces and courteous at all times. BAR SERVICES. A wide range of drinks and cocktails were available from bars throughout the ship. Costs of these beverages were reasonable. Drinks were of good quality and had a kick to them. There was no pressure put on guests to purchase drinks and it was pleasing that there was no 15% gratuity automatically added to the price of these drinks. Gratuities are already been included in the costs. There is a good wine list in the dining rooms, again - these wines are keenly priced. Another pleasing aspect of the bar and beverage service is that the staff are not aggressive in their approach  unlike so many other cruise lines, where staff have targets to meet. GRATUITIES. P & O Cruises suggest that a gratuity of £1.40 (USD$2.31) per day be given to your cabin steward and the sum of £1.50 (USD$2.59) per day to be shared between you waiter and assistant waiter- £2.90 (USD$4.90) a day in total  making the sum of £40.60 (USD$70.00) for a 14 night cruise. * Conversion rates approximate * Most passengers put the gratuity or tip into an envelope and give it to their steward and waiters on the last night of the cruise. Others are known to have skipped dinner on the last night so as not to have to give any gratuities, and these guests usually occupy the most expensive cabins or suits on ships). Yes it does happen and often. INTERNET ACCESS. Internet access is available on the ship, when satellite reception is available, although it is not cheap. The basic time charge is £0.30p(USD$0.51) per minute with a one-time activation cost of £1.95 (USD$3.32). Packages can be purchased when can reduce these costs substantially. THE LITTLE EXTRAS. Each guest on this cruise, received a Christmas card and an extremely up-market Christmas present, wrapped in Christmas paper and delivered to their cabin on Christmas Eve  a nice seasonal touch. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CRUISE. The genuine friendliness of all the crew. The entertainment on-board. The spectacular, Christmas Day dinner menu. The Boxing Day Yule Tide Buffet. The Human touches  like the Officers Choir who treated us to Carols in the Atrium on Christmas Eve. Being treated as if one of an `extended family`  not as a guest or a passenger  but something more than that  the personalisation. The sail-away party on New Years Eve from Antigua, when Oriana (another ship of the P&O fleet) was berthed next to us.  British tradition at its best). DISAPPOINTMENTS. The standard and variety of fruits and breads available. The scheduling of entertainment on board. Entertainment provided on both Christmas Night (this was a repeat of Christmas Eves programme) and New Years Eve. The decision, to transfer the Captains Gala Cocktail Party from the 1st sea day (Christmas night) to the penultimate sailing night. Also the Atrium, which is used for this party, lacks atmosphere for events of this nature. The inconsiderate fellow passengers whose mobile phones ring during dinner or a show and they then proceed to carry out a full conversation with the caller. These devices of modern technology should be banned from cruise ships and not encouraged by installing systems to enhance reception qualities. SUMMARY A good solid product, which caters for all - the Oceana would appear to be P&O`s `party ship` with a less formal and more relaxed atmosphere on board. On a cruise with P&O  there is something for everyone - No-one should be disappointed. A bit more expensive, than some others in the same class, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. A few niggly complaints  (but thats me)  nothing so seriousness to spoil the overall enjoyment of the cruise. Traditional British Cruising in a warm and extremely friendly environment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of ... Read More
OCEANA - (23 December 2005  6 January 2006). Not having sailed with P & O Cruises over the Christmas and New Year Period before, I chose P&O`s ship the `Oceana`, for my `holiday` cruise in 2005. Oceana was built in 2000, of 77,000 tons; she has a maximum operating capacity of 2272 passengers and 870 crew. The ship has 12 passenger decks, 2 swimming pools (fresh water) a couple of splash pools and 5 Jacuzzis. There are 2 main restaurants; currently offering two sittings for dinner, but this, I understand is due to change in April, when one of the restaurants will become `open seating`. There is also the Plaza restaurant for casual dining, and in the evening, this restaurant transforms, together with the Horizon Grill, into alternative dining venues, with reservations required and at a supplement (currently £6.75 or USD$11.00) per person. The Cafe Jardin on deck 8 provides food 24 hours a day. There are two primary show lounges, no fewer than 10 bars/lounges serving alcohol and coffees, a casino, a well-stocked library, a cyber study facility, an avenue of shops, a photo gallery, an art gallery and a number of launderettes for use by passengers (washers and driers are free, but guests must supply their own soap, available for purchase from the shop onboard). There is also a very active club with a highly energetic and enthusiastic staff, catering for the needs of children and teenagers. P & O, now part of the Carnival Corporation, operates a fleet of 5 ships. The homeport for their ships is Southampton, England and P & O have a sea-going tradition since 1837, -some 169 years experience. Each year, during the winter months, three of its ships depart on World Cruises, whilst the remaining two ships are based in the Caribbean. During the other seasons, the fleet operates to and from Southampton on cruises of varying durations, offering a wide choice of itineraries. The company claim that they operate a service of `Traditional British Cruising`. The currency on board is the pound sterling (£). Documentation for this cruise was factual, informative and correct and arrived in good time prior to sailing. The full programme of shore excursions was also provided and these could be booked in advance. On this particular cruise, there was a wide range in the ages of passengers, from children in `buggies` to elderly grand parents. All seemed to mix well and there was a relaxed holiday mood on board. The ship had been skillfully and beautifully decorated and it was evident that Christmas was just around the corner. The cruise had been named the `Calypso Island Christmas Cruise`. It was of 14 days duration, sailing to and from Barbados. There were 10 ports of call and 3 days at sea, Christmas Day and Boxing Day being two of the days spent `at sea`. It was a `port intensive` cruise, especially in the latter stages and most passengers, would have liked a `sea day` at some stage in between these ports of call. Consideration should be given to perhaps re-thinking future itineraries, after a long flight from the UK, most passengers would appreciate the first day, being a sea day, to get over the four hour time difference and to take time to relax and get into the `cruise mode`, or perhaps have the overnight stay in Barbados at the beginning of the cruise, rather than at the end. Additionally, a further suggestion being - New Years Day  after the activities of New Years Eve  a day at sea, rather than St Kitts, especially on a Sunday (and a public holiday at that) would have been welcomed. In order to transport passengers to and from the embarkation port, P&O charters a number of aircrafts which depart from various UK airports. Unfortunately all best plans can encounter difficulties and a number of the flights were late in arriving in Barbados, thus delaying our ships departure time by 2 hours. As with all charter airlines, there is very limited seat space and legroom on such flights, in-flight catering was basic to say the least, but the airline did offer a free bar service. One of the convenient things in regard to these flights, is that when you check-in your luggage in the UK, it is transported in sealed units directly to the ship and is delivered directly to your cabin. This saves the hassle of having to claim your baggage at the arrival airport and transfer it to a coach to take you to the ship. Additionally, coaches meet the flight at the airport steps, and passengers are transferred directly to the ship, thus avoiding long lines for Immigration Procedures to take place. P & O Cruises do offer guests, the option of using the service of scheduled flights to and from Barbados at hefty supplements. Similar arrangements are in place for the return flights. Check-in procedures for the cruise, is carried out in a shed adjacent to the ship. These were friendly, quick, and professionally carried out. On boarding the ship, members of the crew were available to escort or direct guests to their cabins. For this cruise, we had chosen an outside cabin with balcony (JD) Grade. . There are 23 grades of cabins on the Oceana, ranging from inside twins to suites. There are no single cabins, but the company do offer solo guests the opportunity of purchasing a twin for sole use at a supplement. These supplements vary, depending of the cruise, the date and duration of the cruise. P & O also offer a `share cabin` programme for solo travellers. On arrival at our cabin, we were disappointed at the size (178 sq feet, including balcony)  the smallest size for this type of cabin throughout P&O`s fleet. However it was well furnished and comfortable. There is also excellent privacy on the balconies. The balconies are best described as another cruise company so describes them as `sheltered balcony cabins` as they are not the traditional balconies, but rather, balconies within the ships hull. Facilities in the cabins include a remote control television, tea and coffee making facilities, a safe, hairdryer, air-conditioning, en-suite shower room and a refrigerator. Storage space was limited. The balcony accommodated two recliner chairs and a small table. The net curtains on the window, which lead to the balcony were stained and contained a number of holes (probably resulting in being caught in the sliding balcony door). The en-suite was tiny (I was able to spread my arms and touch both walls, and there was very little space between my knees, when sitting on the `throne` and the door of the unit). Luxury toiletries available, but no bathrobes or slippers or fresh fruit are provided. Towels were, on occasions hard and thread borne. The shower curtain was also badly stained. The shower worked, although noisy, with varying water pressures but with an abundant supply of piping hot water. The water from the taps in this unit is safe for drinking. The cabin was spotlessly clean and was kept in this condition throughout the cruise. Each cabin is equipped with a standard 13-amp plug (British style socket) and a 110-volt American style socket. In the en-suite, there are 110/230-volt plugs for electric shavers. There is a good room service menu available during the day until late evening and then this becomes very limited. Full breakfast is not available via room service only Continental breakfast. The cabin steward, shortly after arrival, came to the cabin, introduced himself and did show us how the cabin facilities operated. He also showed us where our life jackets were located, where our Muster Station were located, and asked that we spend some time, watching the video presentation currently being shown on the television, in advance of the Muster Drill. I requested additional towels, ice and feather pillows and was advised that he would have to request these, and that they would be delivered the next day, with the exception of the ice which he provided. When we retired to bed that first evening, we were surprised to find that there were two separate single duvets on the double bed, this somehow seemed strange. We asked the cabin steward for a double duvet, who advised us that none were available, but when we spoke with his supervisor, one was supplied within 24 hours (a point worth remembering  double duvets are available). Lots of things on this ship appear to be `on request`. The ship itself is well appointed with soft furnishings, interesting art works, comfortable sofas and sympathetic lighting in public areas. The ship is relatively easy to negotiate and is well signed  one things of note, especially for guests who may have walking difficulties, is that only the elevators at the front of the ship, serve all passengers decks. The elevators to the rear only serve 7 of the decks and the glass elevators in the Atrium only serve 4 passenger decks. The ship was full for this sailing, but didnt feel `crowded`. On sea days the area around the main swimming pools did get packed and sun loungers were at a premium. However space and any number of sun loungers could be found in other deck areas around the ship. The Atrium in mid-ships, spans 4 passenger decks, and is a wonderful place for `people watching`. On the ground floor, are the reception desk (open 24 hours), shore excursions office, future cruise sales desk and The Portunus Club Representative (P&O`s loyalty club). One of the first things that one notices on this ship is the immaculate turnout of the staff in all departments (from the middle ranking officers to the deck stewards, from the waiters to the all too important guys who work on their knees polishing the brasses and keeping the ship clean). All seem to be happy and enjoy their work, and almost all had smiles on their faces and greeted and acknowledged guests presence with a simple Good Morning or Good Evening Sir  a feature unfortunately lacking nowadays on so many ships. On previous cruises with P&O, it was common to see senior officers walk around the ship and converse with passengers, not on this ship  the absence of senior officers seen in public areas was very noticeable, in fact it was a rarity and many of the guests were so disappointed - this topic seemed to come up in most conversations, especially among past passengers and first time cruisers were amazed that there was no opportunity to have their picture taken with either the Captain or Staff Captain. ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME The Entertainment Programme on this ship can only be described as excellent in all regards. There was something for everyone! West End or Hollywood style shows, specialist entertainers, guest lecturers, music of all kinds  a full and varied programme, details of which were clearly outlined in the ships on-board information bulletin `Oceana Today` which was delivered to cabins daily. The highly talented Cruise Director and staff were always visible throughout the ship and again distinguishable by their smart turnout and coordinated dress. A nice touch on board, is that this line really do want single passengers travelling alone to feel welcome and `inclusive` without `intrusion`. Early on in the cruise there was a meeting for such travellers, and each day, it was advertised that a member of the Cruise Staff would be available to meet solos for coffee and a chat at a given venue and time. On the night of the Captains Formal Reception, the group met some 15 minutes prior to the commencement of this reception. Some of the ladies travelling solo indicated to me that this arrangement was excellent, as many felt embarrassed at attending such events on previous cruise ships by themselves. The only adverse comment that I would make in respect of the entertainment on board is in relation to their scheduling of programmes  on some occasions major events did overlap which caused disappointment. On other occasions, one had to make the difficult choice between a featured production show or celebrity entertainment. Guests on 2nd seating dining lost out in this regard, whereas if one of the shows had have been scheduled as a pre-dinner show, we could have then had the benefit of attending each. With the wealth of entertainment at P&O`s disposal on board, it was disappointing at their programme choices on both Christmas night and New Years Eve. The entertainment offered on Christmas night was exactly the same as on offer on Christmas Eve  the same shows and featured entertainment, whilst on New Years Eve, the choice was a deck party or listening to a pianist or attending a church service. On `holiday cruises`, guests pay `over the odds` for the cruise and on each of these evenings, we expect, not only with P&O but with other cruise companies, to pull out all the stops on these festive nights. The late start of some of the events/shows/lectures was annoying. In cabin television options and programming too was excellent, with a wide range and choice of programmes and films for viewing. I particularly liked the `Christmas Channel` - which showed both old and modern Christmas Films  these brought back many childhood memories. RESTAURANT AND FOOD SERVICE. There are two main restaurants onboard Oceana  the Adriatic and Ligurian, both are similar. We were allocated the Adriatic, where the restaurant manager endeavoured to accommodate all of the guests requirements. Totally professional, it amazed me as to how he remembered most peoples names. He was ably assisted by a number of Headwaiters. Tables are very close together in both of the main restaurants; most seating- 4,6 or 8 guests  there were a few tables for 2. The majority of tables are rectangular in shape and we find that there can be difficulty in communicating with all `tablemates` on tables of this design and find that round or oval shaped tables are more user-friendly in this regard. The ceiling in both restaurants is low, thus the noise levels within the restaurants tends to be high. Food service in the main restaurants was excellent. Our regular waiter and assistant waiter at dinner were particularly proficient in this regard. However presentation was very disappointing, except at the Gala Dinners. Food was wholesome, plentiful, varied and tasty. It was `packing` food  it was good - no pretty pictures on the plate here! Currently the vegetables are served `Silver Service`, but unfortunately from April this practice is going to stop and meals served will be plated  this is unfortunate. Breakfast and lunch are `open seating`, whereby dinner is currently by assigned tables. We found that cooked breakfasts in the restaurant would have tasted better if they had have been served hot, rather than lukewarm. There is a `special` on the breakfast menu each day. The breakfast menus were typically traditional British breakfast fare. The selection and variety of bread served at dinner, as did the choice of Danish Pastries at breakfast left a lot to be desired  very little in the way of choice and mostly the same variety each evening -often they were stale. The choice of juices at breakfast in both the formal and casual restaurants was limited. I requested Cranberry juice and was advised that this would have to come from a bar and would be chargeable. One of the things that I enjoy on cruises, is the array and taste of the fresh fruit usually available, not on this cruise  just the basics, melon, pineapple, apples, pears, oranges, bananas and grapes  nothing exotic at all. I found most of the time that the fruits served were not ripe (although this did improved a little as the cruise progressed) and lacked any sort of taste. I usually enjoy a fruit platter for starters both at breakfast and dinner. On the first evening, I asked if I could have such a platter and was refused, melon only being available. The next evening I was advised, that such a platter is available, but only available through ` Special Order` and requested though the Headwaiter. I made these requests and received my fruit platters, but no thought had gone into their presentation (which is so important on a cruise), just slices of fruit dumped on a plate. The choice of cheeses available was excellent. There are no salad courses on the dinner menus  these are  yes you have guessed it - `by request`. Caesar Salads were however available daily as a main course dish, as was chicken, salmon and sirloin steak. The Gala Dinner served on Christmas Day was however outstanding, in regards to choice, presentation, quality and quantity. Lots of thought, time, and care had obviously been taken into making this particular dinner one of the highlights of the cruise. The Yuletide buffet lunch served in a formal restaurant on Boxing Day was spectacular both in looks and presentation and tasted every bit as good. A chocoholics buffet served one afternoon was most popular and it was pleasing that the needs of diabetics were cater for. In relation to The Plaza  the Casual Dining Restaurant, the first thing that is noticed, is that there are no trays, on which to carry plates, utensils and glasses or cups to the tables - these are needed  especially for those in ripper years, and would also save the need for guests to keep returning to the buffet areas for each course thus avoiding congestions in this area. Food here was reasonably varied and hot food was hot. This venue was the home of rich, fattening and appealing desserts. Unfortunately there was little evidence of the use of `real cream` on these desserts; mostly it was synthetic, as was the cream to accompany the scones in the afternoon in The Plaza. Real cream while more `naughty` does give an enriched taste. Unlike other ships, fruit juices are only available during breakfast service, at other times they have to be purchased from the adjacent bar. Traditional Afternoon Tea (P&O style) is served, is on most days in one of the dining rooms. Throughout the P&O fleet, there are three set dress codes for the evening - Formal  a dinner jacket, white tuxedo or dark suit and tie for gentlemen and long or short evening wear for ladies. Informal  jacket, shirt and tie, or smart shirts which do not require a tie when worn with a linen or blazer-style jacket for men and for the ladies the option ranges from tailored trousers to cocktail dresses. Casual  stylish resort or leisure wear for both men and women. Shorts are not permitted in any of the main or specialty restaurants for dinner. On this cruise, there were 4 formal nights and the remainder were casual. It was pleasing to see that almost every passenger did comply with the dress code. Indeed, many passengers chose on the casual nights to `up dress` (to the dress that is suggested for informal nights  it was obvious that these guests were seasoned P&O cruisers who recalled the days when the dress code onboard P&O ships was either formal or inform only. SHORE EXCURSION PROGRAMME. A wide selection of shore excursions were available at each of the ports of call. The staff in the shore excursions office were most knowledgeable. These were keenly priced and offered value for money. TENDER SERVICE. At ports where tender service was in operation, this transfer procedure was carried out swiftly and smoothly. SECURITY STAFF. Particular mention must be made in relation to the Security Staff on this vessel. They carried out their various duties in a totally proficient and competent manner. No scowls here  pleasant, always a smile on their faces and courteous at all times. BAR SERVICES. A wide range of drinks and cocktails were available from bars throughout the ship. Costs of these beverages were reasonable. Drinks were of good quality and had a kick to them. There was no pressure put on guests to purchase drinks and it was pleasing that there was no 15% gratuity automatically added to the price of these drinks. Gratuities are already been included in the costs. There is a good wine list in the dining rooms, again - these wines are keenly priced. Another pleasing aspect of the bar and beverage service is that the staff are not aggressive in their approach  unlike so many other cruise lines, where staff have targets to meet. GRATUITIES. P & O Cruises suggest that a gratuity of £1.40 (USD$2.31) per day be given to your cabin steward and the sum of £1.50 (USD$2.59) per day to be shared between you waiter and assistant waiter- £2.90 (USD$4.90) a day in total  making the sum of £40.60 (USD$70.00) for a 14 night cruise. * Conversion rates approximate * Most passengers put the gratuity or tip into an envelope and give it to their steward and waiters on the last night of the cruise. Others are known to have skipped dinner on the last night so as not to have to give any gratuities, and these guests usually occupy the most expensive cabins or suits on ships). Yes it does happen and often. INTERNET ACCESS. Internet access is available on the ship, when satellite reception is available, although it is not cheap. The basic time charge is £0.30p(USD$0.51) per minute with a one-time activation cost of £1.95 (USD$3.32). Packages can be purchased when can reduce these costs substantially. THE LITTLE EXTRAS. Each guest on this cruise, received a Christmas card and an extremely up-market Christmas present, wrapped in Christmas paper and delivered to their cabin on Christmas Eve  a nice seasonal touch. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CRUISE. The genuine friendliness of all the crew. The entertainment on-board. The spectacular, Christmas Day dinner menu. The Boxing Day Yule Tide Buffet. The Human touches  like the Officers Choir who treated us to Carols in the Atrium on Christmas Eve. Being treated as if one of an `extended family`  not as a guest or a passenger  but something more than that  the personalisation. The sail-away party on New Years Eve from Antigua, when Oriana (another ship of the P&O fleet) was berthed next to us.  British tradition at its best). DISAPPOINTMENTS. The standard and variety of fruits and breads available. The scheduling of entertainment on board. Entertainment provided on both Christmas Night (this was a repeat of Christmas Eves programme) and New Years Eve. The decision, to transfer the Captains Gala Cocktail Party from the 1st sea day (Christmas night) to the penultimate sailing night. Also the Atrium, which is used for this party, lacks atmosphere for events of this nature. The inconsiderate fellow passengers whose mobile phones ring during dinner or a show and they then proceed to carry out a full conversation with the caller. These devices of modern technology should be banned from cruise ships and not encouraged by installing systems to enhance reception qualities. SUMMARY A good solid product, which caters for all - the Oceana would appear to be P&O`s `party ship` with a less formal and more relaxed atmosphere on board. On a cruise with P&O  there is something for everyone - No-one should be disappointed. A bit more expensive, than some others in the same class, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. A few niggly complaints  (but thats me)  nothing so seriousness to spoil the overall enjoyment of the cruise. Traditional British Cruising in a warm and extremely friendly environment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Overall - Found the cruise to be suited to people in the more advanced years, this was reflected in the musical choice around the different areas, even the pub had a trio playing slow lounge almost background style music. The ship itself ... Read More
Overall - Found the cruise to be suited to people in the more advanced years, this was reflected in the musical choice around the different areas, even the pub had a trio playing slow lounge almost background style music. The ship itself was best described as low key and although fairly well decorated no area could be described as exciting or having a 'wow' factor. For a Christmas cruise the decorations were poor. We will look long and hard before we book with P&O again. Food - 1. Meridian restaurant - Good choice of meals offered but vegetables left something to be desired. Most evenings we were offered new potatoes and one evening I was offered carrots and sprouts with my fish! Wine choice good but both wine waiters and meal waiters were not up to scratch. Too many mistakes made with our wine and wrong choice of food being served. 2. Rhodes restaurant - Spent one evening there, food was good but again the waiters, although they tried very hard, not quite up to scratch. 3. Orchid - Promoted as 'Fusion' food. Spent an evening there not bad but I was expecting something better. The couple next to us asked if they could remove coconut from one of the desserts, they were told it was not possible, which left me thinking they were pre-prepared, not what we were expecting. 4. Belvedere - Self service - Good choice and kept clean and tidy. the layout means you have to travel a long way to see the choice and the drinks area needs improving as it is a bottleneck. Entertainment -As explained earlier, in general the music was suited to 65+. The Arcadian Theatre is the best I've seen and the production company were very good with varied shows. The 'special' acts brought in, two comedians and two singers, were again suited to the older section and not very good, many people left these shows before the end or even halfway through. Photography - Good selection and quite professional, however, like most cruises the cost of the photos and especially the re-prints were far too high. Bring the price down and everybody buys one! Trips - Too expensive for what you get. Most people I spoke to got the same if not better from locals and at less then half price! Flights - Watch out if you're booked on Thompson, everyone we spoke to from 3 different airports all had delays, and some didn't have any food. P&O really need to look at this, Thompson are fine for a low cost European flight but are totally not suited for long haul, spoilt the holiday and I would think they will still be reading the complaints for a while yet! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Arcadia Review, Cruise J601 Simply Caribbean. Having just finished our first P&O cruise on Arcadia, after previously cruising on Coral & Island Princess, I offer the following comments and comparisons as our own personal views. ... Read More
Arcadia Review, Cruise J601 Simply Caribbean. Having just finished our first P&O cruise on Arcadia, after previously cruising on Coral & Island Princess, I offer the following comments and comparisons as our own personal views. I can now understand all those negative comments I had read about Arcadia, she is definitely far less glitzy than the Princess ships, and Oceana according to fellow passengers; and her lack of a proper Atrium is a big disappointment. The walkways through the main public decks seem far narrower and the area through the photo gallery gets very congested, probably because they have the photos displayed down both sides. In addition she only has one theatre, the Palladium which tends to limit the variety of shows, and even then its size is only just comparable with the smaller of the two Princess show lounges, and on exiting the Palladium on deck 3 you have to walk through either the casino or the Rising Sun pub. In fact the layout of both public decks was less than ideal, the shopping area creates another bottleneck, and I thought it pointless to have Intermezzo and the Spinnaker bar next to each other, especially as neither was ever full. On the plus side the cabins are bigger and the majority have a bath with shower over, which the ladies will probably prefer, but even here the wardrobe space is much less with limited fixed hangers, but your steward will provide extra wire hangers, the safes are tiny and shelf space is barely adequate, but our balcony on E deck was much bigger than we have had on Princess. One other strange quirk is that the bedroom reading lights are just above the pillows and if you want to sit up in bed and read then they are covered, not the best design feature I have ever seen. Contrary to other comments there are plenty of electric sockets above the dressing table, 5 in all, one UK, one European and 3 US, so if you take a couple of travel plugs and a 2/3 way UK adaptor he can charge his razor and camera battery whilst she uses the hairdryer and curling tongs, and still have plenty left over. As you would expect the food is first class and the restaurant dining service is friendly and attentive, however I did yearn for the ever present waiter topping up my water and breakfast coffee that comes as standard on American ships, but I did enjoy the genteel way in which my HP sauce was served. After a shaky start we also felt that the Belvedere, self service restaurant, was better than Princess. The seating is more comfortable and it is more spacious, and the choice of food was excellent, however its layout did take time to sink in, but by the end of the cruise you should know where everything is! Of the two alternative restaurants we preferred Arcadian Rhodes; the food in the Orchid was rather too bland for our tastes. In the Restaurant we were on 2nd sitting at 8:30 pm which we found rather late, most people on 1st sitting, 6:30 pm seemed to think it too early, on Princess we enjoyed the flexibility of anytime dining, maybe P&O could think about switching sittings half way through a cruise to give a better variety. We thought the Arcadia theatre troupe were excellent, we went to all the shows and only Bollywood Nights flopped, the rest were very enjoyable. We also enjoyed the variety acts with Martin Daniels probably our favourite, but all of them seemed to go down well with the British passengers whereas the American acts on Princess are not usually appreciated by British passengers. Unfortunately we did feel that the deck attendants were not as vigilant, used glasses and food plates were often left all day and very little attempt was made to keep the sunbathing decks tidy, until they were cleared away after sunset. We also felt that tightly packing the sun beds did not help in keeping the areas tidy since the first thing everyone did was to pull out one or two beds to make themselves a private space. Princess use small tables between every two or three sun beds and this provides enough privacy and avoids spare sun beds littering the rest of the deck. The cyb@centre is OK but pricey, and you cannot use Wanadoo webmail, so for Wanadoo users ensure you have a list of e-mail addresses with you and prepare to use Mail2web or similar, which is just as convenient but each logon is only specific to ONE e-mail account. What would be our overall rating for Arcadia, probably 7 or a weak 8, compared with a high 9 for Princess. Would we book an Arcadia cruise again, of course we would if the itinerary or price were right, after all despite any criticisms this is 5 star cruising and a wonderful way to spend a one or two week holiday being pampered and cosseted without a care in the world. One final point regarding the flights, I now have to agree with all the complainers that the seating is just too cramped, P&O should look at this and charter airlines that offer more space, even if the extra cost has to go on the price. However the direct flights from your local airport with the luggage going straight to your cabin and you going directly off the plane onto a coach cannot be bettered, this is a really big benefit compared with having to fly via Heathrow. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Embarkation was quick, simple and friendly. Once on the ship, the staff were brilliant, very helpful. Suitcases were taken directly to your cabin and most were there before you. Cabin facilities were very good and our cabin stewardess ... Read More
Embarkation was quick, simple and friendly. Once on the ship, the staff were brilliant, very helpful. Suitcases were taken directly to your cabin and most were there before you. Cabin facilities were very good and our cabin stewardess was polite, helpful and made up our cabin twice a day . Our 14 year old daughter thought it was beautiful, the way her pyjamas were laid out in the shape of a fan and that every night her loyal teddy was placed differently inside the sheet. The cabins are clean and tidy and a balcony is a must as it does make a big difference to be able to get a first view of the ports and a relaxing area for yourself. Food is amazing and so is the service. You cannot beat their variety of food and it's available 24 hours a day. Entertainment is very good, each to your own personal choice. Brilliant if you can find time to relax but there is so much to do at the time. Excursions are excellent, the way they are dealt with, that again is fast, simple and always someone there to help. The daily magazine , which is left outside your cabin each night, is very good and must be read. It tells you everything you want to know about the next day's events. Television is again, letting you know what is going on where, very useful. On a whole the entire cruise was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Never Again ! There are I think 2 types of people in the world. There are the "I'll try anything once" types and there are the "I'm happy with what I know and love types". For P&O cruisers the dilemma ... Read More
Never Again ! There are I think 2 types of people in the world. There are the "I'll try anything once" types and there are the "I'm happy with what I know and love types". For P&O cruisers the dilemma facing most of us is "shall I try out the newest ship in the fleet?". Sadly I fell for this psychological trap and booked a short mid-year 7 day break on Arcadia. It will never happen again! There are plenty of reviews that will inform you of the practical design differences to the other ships and they are pretty much accurate. Design is poor, period. Main restaurant is right at the aft so those with a tendency for seasickness will be at maximum discomfort during the most important eating time. Layout elsewhere is confusing and it's hard to get anywhere in a straight line on one deck. Bars, lounges and cafes all have main walkways through them so are not at all nice places to chill out, relax and say read a book. As I said, plenty of other reviews around on those differences. The main problem you need to be aware of when being tempted by that "shall I, shan't I" dilemma is that Arcadia, being an adult only ship, is in fact packed full of geriatrics. They fall out of every room, bar and lounge and spend their cruise lolling asleep in chairs with their mouths open. Arcadia is an old folks home at sea. Now, I'm not ageist in any shape or form, but given a choice, I would not knowingly choose to spend a holiday as important as a cruise with 1500 pensioners all waiting to spend their final days in the best way possible. It's truly awful. I'm just over 40 myself and although we had excellent table companions who were full of character, this didn't make up for the overall atmosphere on board. If you are intent on doing the "Arcadia" thing, then you need to be prepared for the practical realities that you will be faced with. In general these worldly wise veterans spend their days getting up well before everyone else at about 5-6am. Their purpose and motivation in life is to get to places first, before everyone else, to get that all important seat. First sign of this was the muster drill. I left for the drill 5 mins early just to avoid the busy corridor rush that normally happens. What greeted me at the muster station was a sea of elderly people who had clearly already bagseyed their chairs and settled in, probably an hour before! Everyone else was stood in the corridors for the 45min drill. I'm not discourteous mind, but I always felt the heart and soul of any cruise was consideration for fellow passengers, queuing patiently, tolerating and so on. Old people show very little of this, it's dog eat dog and boy, they're going to get up as early as it takes to get there before you. And once there, they ain't gonna move any time soon. They're going to sit quietly ordering coffee after coffee to justify their continued presence in those seats like the people who used to make a cup of tea last 3 hours in a Little Chef restaurant. It's an ethos they have for the duration of the cruise. As with any cruise, we had some days at sea and some of these were in bad weather so everyone was looking for things to do and places to go inside the ship. Could we find even one empty armchair in one bar or lounge or cafe to get a coffee? Not a chance! Every single seat was packed out with geriatrics who for all I know had been sitting there from 3 o'clock in the morning just to make sure they got that seat. And many of them were just lolling there asleep. It makes for a truly horrible atmosphere I'm afraid and is very frustrating. I walked the length of the ship 3 times on different decks looking for somewhere to have a coffee. Took me 40 mins to find a dark unrelaxing corner. To further perpetuate the old folks home experience P&O ensured that all the activities were in tune. So during the day expect workshop sessions telling you how to grow Clematis or how to cultivate cuttings ! Computer lessons for the completely technophobic and so on. No doubt I have now offended every mature cruiser that reads this review and I apologise for that, however, I want people to go into an Arcadia cruise with an informed decision. Had I known beforehand I would not have spent those precious holiday days and all that money on a "let's see what Arcadia is like" venture. I would have stuck with the ships that I know and love. Carnival/P&O need to understand pretty quickly that Arcadia looks to have quickly become an old folks home. No doubt there is a great market for that and I wish the best of luck to P&O and to all the older people sailing with Arcadia. However, be mindful of the fact that there are hundreds of other cruisers being slowly alienated, who might otherwise expect a "normal" cruising experience. One where there are seats available and where occupied seats are buzzing with life and banter and atmosphere. We all have choices. It looks like the Arcadia is the place for the elderly. That's just fine. I wrote this review just to ensure everyone else is suitably informed before they book their first time Arcadian experience in the hope of something new, different and exciting. For me it wasn't any of those things. Personally, I will never sail with her again. The design, the ethos and the atmosphere on-board are just not to my taste. I love the formality of the other ships and the courtesy and liveliness on-board. Everyone is different, you must make your own choice, but at least be informed and prepared. The scores I have recorded reflect the normal aspects of those services but all are tainted and spoiled by the wider problem. Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
I took a 17 night cruise on P&O's Arcadia, returning last month (Voyage To Venice). Despite having seen various negative reviews about the ship before I went, it was the best of the four cruises I've taken with P&O. ... Read More
I took a 17 night cruise on P&O's Arcadia, returning last month (Voyage To Venice). Despite having seen various negative reviews about the ship before I went, it was the best of the four cruises I've taken with P&O. I'm 36 and was definitely one of the youngest (but not the youngest... my partner is 34) on board. Initial disappointment about the mini-atrium soon gave way to delight about the rest of the ship, and esp. the NEW HORIZONS programme (£90 for as many classes as you like for 17 days). I took language lessons and Tai Chi (with the excellent Jon Wallwork) every day. Used the hydropool once (free with my New Horizons pass), which I thought was enough. There is a free steam room/sauna thing too near the larger pool and free gym facilities as well. Decor is very tasteful and I liked it a lot - but I'm not a SHOUTY type (Royal Caribbean? Yuck!) There's an excellent selection of art and some of the public rooms (the theatre, Orchid Bar and dining rooms for example) are quite lovely. My C deck balcony cabin was spotless, spacious and had the best balcony I've seen - nicer than those on Oceana and the old Adonia. LCD TV too and full size bath. Only lasting disappointment was with the limited golf facilities (no simulator and even the chipping competition was cancelled virtually every day on our cruise!) Some of the things that annoyed me about other P&O cruises have been sorted out (the art auctions are less intrusive, the photography better, the alt dining now worth the money). The food was excellent, both in the Meridian (we had table 142 on level 2 with the excellent Cajy as main waiter and Fabian as head waiter) and in the alt dinning. We had both lunch and dinner in each of the Arcadian Rhodes and Orchid and each experience was exquisite. The food in Arcadian Rhodes was best but the service was best in Orchid (it definitely pays to befriend the waitresses here - we got some extras!) In Arcadian Rhodes be sure to try the english sparkling wine they have on the menu (Chapel Down). It's a champagne method wine that really made me think again about the quality of English wines. I didn't use the buffet dining much but it seemed like the food was good if you don't want the ambience of the other dinning options. The shows were a mixed bag but the addition of some circus skilled performers has allowed all of the shows to be a little more than just song and dance, and enabled the high point - the Cirque D'Arcadia. There were excellent comedians on in the late evening on a couple of nights but the audiences were small, possibly because P&O kept warning the shows were "blue". They weren't, just modern comedy of the kind you get on BBC2 any night after 9pm. I'm on Oceana next, since it had an itinerary that fits a small gap I have in my schedule, but when I get round to planning a longer voyage I'll definitely look at Arcadia again. It's a BIG step in the right direction for P&O as far as I'm concerned. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Oriana June 2006 Last year we took a short cruise on Arcadia and were shocked to hear all the time not to go on a short cruise, there were so many times we were told not to go on a short cruise, so with some trepidation we took a ... Read More
Oriana June 2006 Last year we took a short cruise on Arcadia and were shocked to hear all the time not to go on a short cruise, there were so many times we were told not to go on a short cruise, so with some trepidation we took a 4-day cruise on Oriana. We went Wednesday the 21st. As normal a pleasant and easy trip down to Southampton, we arrived at 1150 am and the car park chaps were waiting, they took the car and then a guy came over and took our bags, all this took about 2 mins and was great service. None of this happened on Arcadia, it was not on a short cruise. Check in opened at 12 and we were whisked through in no time at all. We had a drink in the lounge and waited to board and that was pleasant. Boarding was fast and easy we were on board by 2 and our bags were at the cabin waiting, we had an outside on c deck c141 and its was perfect, last time on Arcadia we had a suite and the cabin on Oriana did not disappoint. Our steward was there while we unpacked and was so nice, she said anything you want just ask and she meant it. So we unpacked and did a tour of the ship, starting on the top deck and walking along every deck from top to bottom. The ship is ten years older than Arcadia but much much nicer , all the rooms are better, the bar lounges, shopping it's all so much better . Arcadia was a cold ship quite plain but Oriana was so much nicer. We were seated in the peninsular restaurant and had asked for a table for 2 and first sitting, both of which were given to us as requested. This was not the case on Arcadia. The met office had forecasted strong winds, very unusual for the time of year they said, so we thought it could be an interesting trip to Rotterdam our first port. The ship sailed on time, and we dropped into Andersons for a pre dinner cocktail this is such a nice bar, nothing to compare on Arcadia and the staff were so welcoming. The cocktails were to die for, so so nice. Dinner followed superb food service was brilliant if you can find a fault here then you're a really sad person. As we passed calshot the sea was busy, white horses every where and I thought this does not look good, we're only in the Solent. As we passed bembridge and hit the open water it got worse a fairly heavy swell and white horses every where. But the ship was perfect, hardly moved and took it all in its stride so no worries there at all. So off to the show, its was hits from the musicals and was very good, the only place Arcadia is better was here the seat and layout were better in that theatre. After the show off to the pacific lounge for the 70s night and the group natural high did a great job. We danced the night away and went up to the cabin about 2 am it was the most perfect first day. Next morning we awoke early and watched out progress up the river to Rotterdam its a long ride from the sea to the city and was fascinating. We decide to breakfast in the peninsular again and it was the best breakfast anywhere in the world nothing is too much for those guys. We took the courtesy bus into town for some retail therapy and the guide was great gave us loads of info all free of charge of course. We returned to the ship for lunch and again it could not have been better. Another walk round the ship then back in the afternoon to town, to look round the shops we missed in the morning. Dinner again was just perfect and followed by a show with Tom o Connor who is really good, he was also on Arcadia last year. Yet again more cocktails in Andersons and then off to the pacific lounge again for a sailaway party. We danced the night away again. This ship is really good and your made to feel welcome everywhere. Next morning we arrived on time in Zebrugge and went into town after another amazing breakfast. Bit more retail therapy this time big bottle of chocolate milk and Belgium chocolates. Back to the ship cocktails by the Rivera pool and it was so nice up there, then off to lunch in the conservatory again a wide choice and cream cakes to die for. The afternoon was spent sunbathing and sleeping on the rear pool deck. We both got a bit burnt, as it's a real suntrap. Gala dinner night the only formal night on the cruise followed by the captains cocktail party in the pacific lounge, the Captain made a speech and was genuinely funny. We talked to some officers and they were friendly too and of course free drinks and nibbles. Another show followed this time the Buddy Holly story and that was well done too. By now I suspect you're bored and thinking this is a love story of one couples love for Oriana. Well it's true we loved Oriana and almost hated Arcadia. I smoke and on Arcadia I was told you can't buy cigarettes as it's against customs regulations on a short cruise, on Oriana they delivered my smokes to my cabin and it was not a problem. Arcadia is not finished and decorated in the same way, ok they say its contemporary and modern. That may be, but its cold and not welcoming, the atrium is a waste of time with its boring curtains, on Oriana its grand and welcoming. Little things were different, outside the restaurant the days menus were displayed and on Arcadia it was a secret what was for dinner in the evening, they did not display the menus on a short cruise. If you're thinking of a cruise and can't do the full monty because of costs or work commitments, please treat your self and go on the Oriana you will be hooked for life it's a real experience, to add to our rapture we only paid £ 299 for a double outside we got a free upgrade of about 5 grades too. I hope Arcadia personnel read this and suggest they travel on Oriana to see how to get people to fall in love with cruising and show off the real true way P and O cruising should be. Next trip for us is a one-night taster on the QE2 and we paid £ 49 each for this so we can't wait to see how the ship compares. But I can promise we will be cruising again and P and O are going to see a lot more of us we can't wait and all of you out there wondering if you should try it all we can say is go for it, but not on Arcadia. One tiny footnote, the hand sterilising on the ship was almost non existent, only in the conservatory was any effort made, this is the same on Arcadia so come on P and O sort it out its causes problems so make it more strict please. Happy cruising to you all. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
This was a cruise from Southampton to Eidfjord, Flam, Olden and Bergen with a day at sea on the first and last days. It was our second cruise with P&O, our previous one two years ago was on Oceana to the Canary Islands. Arcadia seems ... Read More
This was a cruise from Southampton to Eidfjord, Flam, Olden and Bergen with a day at sea on the first and last days. It was our second cruise with P&O, our previous one two years ago was on Oceana to the Canary Islands. Arcadia seems to have had some very mixed reviews from P&O regulars but we went with an open mind as we have so far enjoyed experiencing nine different cruise lines and eighteen ships. Arcadia was our second adults-only ship, the first being Saga Ruby earlier this year. Ruby's passengers probably averaged over 70 years of age and we decided after that we prefer a more mixed age group. Arcadia had a really good spread of ages from a group on the next table at dinner celebrating a 21st birthday, and many others in their 20's and upwards. We were in an OE grade inside cabin number B10 on Bermuda Deck number 7 and paid £770 each ($1,463 at 1.90). Plus Points: The dEcor of our cabin was beige walls with green furnishings and looked rather luxurious with its LCD flat screen TV. It was also one of the quietest cabins we have ever had. The public room dEcor primarily in beige, brown and other earth tones with 3,000 pieces of artwork and sculptures commissioned from British artists made for a very stylish ship in a contemporary way, somewhat similar to some of Celebrity's Millennium Class ships. With only 1,950 passengers on this 83,000-ton Vista Class ship it is very spacious and lots of windows make the public areas very light. Captain Steve B., the Cruise Director Neil O., and the officers and crew were happy, smiling, efficient and willing to oblige at all times. Our cabin stewardess was Bernadeth from the Philippines and our waiter Alberto and his assistant Joaquim were from India. The Belvedere buffet selection for breakfast and lunch was better than we had experienced on Oceana but still not up to the standard of US lines such as Celebrity and Holland America. We had some delightful companions on our first sitting dinner table. The choice of food at dinner was better on the first few nights than on the last few, just as we had found on Oceana. On three occasions my wife and I had the alternative option of steak and it was exceptionally tender. Salmon or chicken was also available every night. Overall quality was good rather than outstanding. The Lido pool has a retractable glass roof that is very useful if the weather isn't kind, however, the non-adjustable sun loungers around the pool were very uncomfortable. Those by the other pool and on the higher deck were adjustable. Some drink prices were lower than on US cruise lines. For example, Beringer White Zinfandel that was £18 ($34.20) on Legend of the Seas earlier this year was £15.75 ($29.92) on Arcadia. A glass of house wine is £2.55 ($4.85), half a litre carafe £7.15 ($13.58) and a litre carafe £14 ($26.60). A 330 ml can of coke was £1.10 (2.09), Whisky and Gin started at £ 2 ($3.80) the cocktail of the day was £2.50 ($4.75), draught beer £2.25 ($4.27), lager £1.85 ($3.51) and speciality coffees such as a Latte £1.45 ($2.75). These prices include gratuities, unlike US lines that add 15%. Moreover if you have sailed with P&O before and are a member of the Portunus Club you get 5% or more off all on board spend, reducing drinks prices even further. While we didn't use it, Internet pricing is quite low starting at 30 pence ($0.57) per minute for ad-hoc use reducing to 16 pence ($0.30) if you buy 100 minutes. Most public lounges are wireless access zones. The shows were of a good standard. The three production shows were Best of the West End, The Knights of Rock and Roll and Le Cirque Arcadia. Bobby Knutt was a very popular comedian who did two shows, and the other two shows were singer Carlo Paul Santana and illusionists, The Twins. The port presentations were excellent and not exclusively shopping talks as on many US cruise lines. Embarkation and disembarkation were very efficient. We embarked within 15 minutes of arriving at the check in desk line and were disembarked and in our car in the car park only 25 minutes after we were called at 8.35am. Minus Points: - So few they seem very minor: The three-level Atrium seems poorly decorated making it seem even smaller than it is. In particular a curtain blocks the view from one side of the piano bar to the other which is annoying when people enjoying the music quiz from the non-smoking starboard side of the ship can't see the pianist.. We felt that the other musicians on board were not very well balanced, and never found one to our tastes but that is a personal thing. The Ports: Eidfjord in Hardangerfjord was our first stop and the only one where we did a ships tour to the Sysen Dam and Voringsfoss Waterfall. We could not have done this on our own at anything like the same price as there are few taxis in these small places and they are very expensive. Next was Flam in Sognefjord. It is very easy to go on the Flam railway on your own as we did. A return ticket to Myrdal is 275 Norwegian Krone, about £25 ($47.50). The scenery from the train is outstanding but there is very little at Myrdal apart from the station. We had a leisurely coffee in the station cafe and a stroll in the meadows before catching the next train back to Flam. Flam has quite a few shops to explore but things are generally very expensive. Olden is in Nordfjord. There we enjoyed a walk into the village to explore the old local church dating from 1759, the shops and have a coffee. Bergen is very easy to do your own thing. We walked along the harbour to the historic Bryggen area then took a one-hour Trolley Train tour of the city for only 100 Kroner (about £9 or $17) each. It was right by the Fish Market, which we explored on our return and the Funicular is just up the street to get a fabulous view of the city from the top for only 70 Krone (about £6.50 or $12). In summary we had beautifully sunny weather all week and the scenery is fabulous. We enjoyed Arcadia and would happily sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
A regular cruiser. Lines to date are Royal Caribbean, Fred Olsen and Costa. Oceana is well behind in fourth place. Embarkation and disembarkation well organized and reasonably efficient. Captain Officers and Ships Company excellent but ... Read More
A regular cruiser. Lines to date are Royal Caribbean, Fred Olsen and Costa. Oceana is well behind in fourth place. Embarkation and disembarkation well organized and reasonably efficient. Captain Officers and Ships Company excellent but their job made almost impossible by excessive cost cutting. Ship fairly well maintained but lacks wow factor. Good swimming pools/lobster pots but these areas crowded with plastic chairs. Superb wrap around promenade deck but with insufficient number of steamer chairs. Balcony grade cabin smallest ever and shower cupboard so small as to be almost impractical. Fairly good service from ultra friendly steward. Menu range tended to be un-ambitious with absence of fresh food. Fresh fruit should not run out when in major Mediterranean ports, tinned fruit is unacceptable although offered at most meals. Singers/dancers excellent but possibly too much repetition. Insufficient segregation of smokers except in dining rooms. Shore excursions OK in general but insufficient tenders in service when at anchor. Fellow passengers comparing this ship with last year were very disappointed. This ship is obviously under attack from accountants and if not successfully repelled, P&O will sink without trace. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
OCEANA CRUISE REPORT E627 27TH OCTOBER TO 10TH NOVEMBER, 2006. Day 1. 27th October, 2006. Arrived at Manchester Airport at approx 8am with the buses waiting for us. We then set off at approx 830am and had two stops for breaks on our way ... Read More
OCEANA CRUISE REPORT E627 27TH OCTOBER TO 10TH NOVEMBER, 2006. Day 1. 27th October, 2006. Arrived at Manchester Airport at approx 8am with the buses waiting for us. We then set off at approx 830am and had two stops for breaks on our way down to Southampton. Arrived at approx 1.20pm but with all the buses coming at the same time the queue for check in was very very long. We finally made the lounge and had to wait another 1 hour before we were on the ship. The luggage had made it to our cabin before us!! We were disappointed to find that we were put on Freedom Dining but after a trip to see Alan Carr the Maitre'D he soon had us transferred to second seating dinner at 830pm. After Emergency Drill at 4.15pm everything was made ready for sailaway from Southampton. We left our berth at approx 5.05pm and set sail down Southampton water with the band playing. We then went to our cabin and unpacked and get ready for our dinner. We had a very good table and everyone seemed to get along very well, most of the passengers on our table had cruised with P & O many times. We had an early night and got ourselves ready for the following two days at sea. Day 2. 28th October, 2006. At Sea. Most of the day was rather cloudy with a slight sea. In the evening we went to see WestEnd a new show for P & O this was very enjoyable and the Stadium Theatre Company should be congratulated. Day 3. 29th October, 2006. At Sea. Today the weather started to pick up and we were on deck most of the day sunning ourselves. In the afternoon it was announced from the bridge that in 5 minutes we would be passing Aurora on her way back to Southampton. We passed approx 1 mile from her and both ships gave the usual 3 blasts on the ships horn and everyone waved. In the evening the show was Gary T Thompson a Comedian, not to our taste so we left and went to listen to the Steel Band in the Atrium, this was very good. Day 4. 30th October, 2006. Madeira. We arrived in port at approx 1.00pm and the ships already in port were Thomson Destiny and Aida Bleu, this was very strange in that we had sailed on both of these ships when they were Sunbird and Crown Princess. We spent the afternoon walking around Funchal and had a few bevies in our usual places. This evening the show a was cancelled due to the singer having lost his voice. The Stadium Theatre Company put on What a Feeling again a very enjoyable show. Day 6 to 10 31st October, to 6th November, 2006. All at Sea. The temperatures had started to climb once we left Madeira and we had a very good crossing, not at all choppy in our opinion, but there were some people who felt the swell, so they said. In the five days at sea we had Susan Maughan the sixties singer, a Halloween Party in Starlight's, a show which was a tribute to Freddie Mercury. On the last sea day we also had a Party Night on Deck with the Stadium Theatre Company performing Summer Sunshine. This was very well attended and the weather was very kind to us with balmy breezes across the open decks. Day 11. 5th November, 2006. St. Maarten. Today was very hot and we went to a fantastic beach called Little Bay and Divi Resorts. The snorkeling along the reef was one of the best we have ever done. I could recommend this to anyone. The cost of chairs here were $5 dollars and the sun shades the same price. The staff at he hotel were excellent and the taxi fare to here from the dock was $10 return. Later that afternoon we took the water taxi into Phillipsburg and did some shopping. In the evening the Theatre Company performed Body Rockers. Day 11. 6th November, 2006. Antigua. We arrived at 8am with blue blue skies and the temperature was rising also. Today we took a taxi to Long Bay and the Occidental Pineapple Beach Resort. Again about a 35 minute taxi ride across the island and to a marvellous beach, plenty of pelicans diving for fish and the snorkeling again was very good. The resort allowed you to use the washroom facilities and there were plenty of beach bars for the occasional tipple.!!! In the evening the entertainment was a 60 and 70's night out on deck again. One or two people had brought all the gear and looked the part. Day 12. 7th November, 2006. St. Lucia. We arrived at 8am again and the weather was a little overcast but very warm. Again we teamed up with some of our table mates and took a taxi to Reduit Beach, no snorkeling here. In the afternoon we had a terrific storm and the skies were very black with torrential rain, we just sat under the umbrella and waited till the storm abated. Some people just sat in the sea it was all very amusing. In the evening we had our third party on deck this time it was Tropical Night with all the men in outlandish shirts. They had a Worst Shirt Competition. Day 13. 8th November, 2006. Grenada. We docked again at 8am and the sun shone as usual. We did not recognize Grenada since our last visit due to the hurricane. Unfortunately this was our worst island in that we again went to the beach and we were hassled from the moment we hit the beach. In fact most people from the ship complained about this when we returned and said that they would stop on the ship if they ever went to Grenada again. Such a shame really. We did not venture off the again that day. In the evening the Stadium Theatre company performed Seven which is a show about the seven deadly sins, again enjoyable but with a few moaning about the content of the show. Also they had a show called Late and Live Comedy with Adult material. Day 14. 9th November, 2006. Tobago. We docked again at 8am again blue skies, we have been so lucky on this cruise. Today we went to the beach for snorkeling and found one called Mount Irvine Bay. This was a little off the beaten track but again shade and sun beds were to be had. The costs again were $5 per chair. This beach was just as the brochures, palm trees to the waters edge and a great reef for snorkeling. There were numerous fish of different kinds. The temperature rose to a high of 94 degrees. On our return the taxi driver took us on a roundabout tour and we ended up at his house to say hello to his family. We really loved Tobago, having never been here before, but would love to go back. Day 15. 10th November, 2006. Arrived at Barbados to disembark at 1pm. Unfortunately our plane had problems coming from Manchester and we were delayed 3 hours. On arriving at the plane we were informed that one of the navigational aids had broken and we needed to change route. This meant that an 8 and a half our flight turned into a 11 hour flight. Not that we need this after our initial 3 hour delay. We arrived in Manchester at 11 am and we should have arrived at 4.05am. Good Points of the Cruise, The Company at our table. Meeting the many cc'ers and putting faces to names etc. P & O pulling the stops out for decorating the dining room for special nights. i.e. Halloween, Tropical Night etc. Minus Points. Flight delays. Not P & O's fault. No Cruise Log at end of Cruise. Some, not all, moaning passengers. No Champagne Waterfall. Other little cut backs by P & O. R.E. LEES. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Before the Cruise For the first time we flew down to Southampton. Normally we go by car but because we would be flying back from Barbados we decided to travel with Flybe. This part of the journey went very well with my wheelchair ... Read More
Before the Cruise For the first time we flew down to Southampton. Normally we go by car but because we would be flying back from Barbados we decided to travel with Flybe. This part of the journey went very well with my wheelchair assistance working well. The irritations came with the restrictions on what we could carry, but that is the same for everyone. We stayed for one night at the DeVere in Southampton, a good choice. We had an executive room with a large balcony looking directly towards The Mayflower Terminal with Oriana berthed, ready to sail at 17.00. The balcony also gave us excellent views of Oriana moving down the Hamble later in the afternoon. We dined at Ennios. Here we had excellent food and good service. However they were rather full that night and everything was not going well. Which, resulted in, not everyone having our good experience. The next morning after a late rise and a long breakfast we assembled in the hotel foyer waiting out taxi. There were about 10 fellow cruisers including June Sadler and her mam. We talked cruses and CC and everyone was full of anticipation. The taxi came and off we went. On arrival at the terminal the driver pulled up by one of the hatches and before he was paid the luggage had gone. We strolled into the terminal and joined the very small queue to the left for gold/premium passengers. Formalities completed quickly, including checking in my credit card, then we were through security and sitting waiting for the call. Embarkation was not as quick as it had been for some recent cruises although we had been told this slight delay by letter. We embarked just after 13.00 and were shown to Arcadian Rhodes where we were given afternoon tea with bucks fizz. Not a complaint but perhaps a change of menu for such an early embarkation would be in order. Then it was off to our cabin, sorry suite. Accommodation We had, as you may know, booked a mini-suite and then got the call with the offer of a suite for a small extra charge. So here we are with all the goodies champagne, chocolates, fruit, Moulton Brown toiletries, bathrobes, trouser press, iron and ironing board, large balcony and of course our butler. Satya was excellent and our enjoyment of the cruise was enhanced by his presence. He brought us canapEs at six when he also refreshed the ice bucket and brought fresh lemon slices for our G & T's, which he poured. We would then have a chat when he would ask us what else we would like. We could have had evening meals in the cabin, but we did not want this but we did have a number of breakfasts, English, which we found very decadent. We had our table in for a drinks party in the second week and Satya produced canapEs for all as well as nibbles. He also welcomed our guests and poured the drinks and made sure we were all settled. The drinks do turned out to be a celebration as Rachael and Andrew announced their engagement and so we had the bottle of champagne which was in our cabin. Jude our steward kept the cabin spotless and was very efficient whenever we required anything. The suite we had was B74, next to the lift, but we never felt any problem with being overlooked. In fact it was ideal for me, being next to the lifts, as I have problems in walking distance. If we ever go for a suite again we would have this one. Or one very close to it. Main restaurant We had a table for 8 on the second sitting in the lower part of the Meridian Restaurant. It was number 65. We had excellent companions, Pete and Cheryl from Guernsey, Barry and Linda from Birmingham, Rachael and Andrew from Whitley Bay. Rachael is a contributor to the CC site and Andrew lives not half a mile from us in Whitley Bay. How weird, what! As I said above Andrew did the romantic thing and popped the question on a Caribbean beach much to Rachael's surprise and delight. A ring was produced and the celebrations never stopped until the cruise ended. It was a pleasure to share this happy time with the pair of them. Mind you Rachael did spend most of the time flashing her third finger, left hand and saying Did you know we got engaged? The table was excellently served by Alberto and Kamlesh with the wine being delivered by Michelle. The food was excellent throughout with a good choice and a wide variety of Veg. They produced the P & O favourites in deserts of flaming cherries and Crepes Suzette also flaming. The formal dress code was very well observed with only one table of 4 where the men were following there own code. Happily they were in the corner out of the way. Tropical night was well observed with the whole dining room looking very colourful, our table in particular. On the 25th of October we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with champagne and cake and balloons and singing at the table. The Atlantic Crossing The cruise started in the usual way for us down on deck 3 for the sail away party. We were close to the glass lifts in our safety talk, in the piano bar on deck 3. So we did not take our life jackets back and went to get our place by the rail. When we got out we were first there and the champagne was not out yet, what a disaster!!!!! We had to wait 4 minutes for a drink. (I think I will write to P & O). The rest of the passengers seemed slow to appear but soon the place was buzzing and the champers flowing. A Jazz Band was giving it full blast down on the quay. We could have gone back to our cabin and watched from our huge balcony but we felt we would miss the atmosphere and excitement as we set sail, still one of the highlights of a cruise. As usual now, no streamers but we did get Union Flags to wave. The band played and we waved and cheered. As we slipped down the Hamble we had another round and took some pics of Southampton. The crowd started to disperse and we sat contentedly in our steamer chairs watching England disappear. The Captain spoke from above and welcomed us but did say we may have some lumpy weather on the way to the Azores. Eventually back to the cabin with the life jackets and as we had already unpacked we had another look around the ship. Then back to the cabin for canapEs and a G & T. For the first time we had some gin and cans of tonic in the cabin, usually we do not bother but when you have a butler to pour them for you welllll. On to dinner and get to know our dinner companions. Linda went off to the pictures to see The Devil Wears Prada with Meryl Streep, I go to the casino. This sets our usual precedent for our cruise. We often only see each other for meals especially on port days. The first day at sea, disaster the hard bed had given me a bad back. It took me until 10.30 to be able to move freely. Had breakfast in the cabin. We had the fruit from the fruit bowl. Then we went to the CC meeting at 11.00. The meeting was in the Viceroy room next to the crows nest. It was posted as an activity in Arcadia Today and a steward was in the room to take our drinks orders. I tried to get coffee for all but they said it would not be possible. We found out why. You cannot get coffee in the Crows Nest, they have no way of making it. Not good. Anyway I organized the meeting by contacting Arcadia during the previous cruise by Email and asking that the relevant person was contacted. It worked very well and 15 members attended the meeting. They were Bernard, Chris, JK and John, June, Paul, Ruth and Steve, Donald and Barry, Dai and Linda. Ok that only makes 12 but a couple and a lady turned up after reading it in Arcadia today and unfortunately we did not get there names before they slipped away I have got a photo which I will pass on to Mike Rack. The weather was, by this time quite windy and there was some movement of the ship. Certainly enough to separate the sailors from the others. For most of the day we were steaming into a force 9. I blame the driver, as I am sure he could have avoided all those potholes. That evening there were a number of empty places for dinner. So the pattern was set as we made our way down to the Azores. The captain's party was in the Neptune Bar around the pool with the roof on. I must say I am not keen as it seemed very crowded and there were not many seats. The bad weather continued until after the Azores, although not force 9, still uncomfortable for a few, especially first timers. Now I know that we all have free choice and that it would not be in a cruise lines best interest but the consensus on board was that this was not a good cruise for first time cruisers. Eight days across the Atlantic in October with only half a day of respite in the Azores may be ideal for some i.e. me. For a number of people it was less than perfect. As the seas did not relent after Ponta Delgarda there were a number on unhappy cruisers most, if not all, first timers. For the rest of us the cruise was great with a good atmosphere developing the shows were good and there were many good reports of the guest lectures. As noted above we had a great time on the 25th the day after the Azores for our 30th. It started with a full English breakfast served in our suite by Satya and finished with the full works at the dinner table. Champagne, cake, balloons and the choir singing. Great fun. Alternate Dining Satya our butler had made our alternate dining arrangements for us in the Arcadian Rhodes and the Orchid. What wonderful additions these two venues are to the P & O cruising experience. We could not fault the service or food at either one. I particularly enjoyed AR because as well as excellent taste and wonderful presentation you actually got plenty to eat. As we were sitting in Intermezzo, Ruth came along and gave me a tip about how to avoid my bad back. I had not left the cabin all day and had only just made it to AR . What a wonderful girl. I tried it that night and the next morning, no pain. That evening in the Meridian I gave her a big kiss as a thank you. On Friday we went to the Orchid with Ruth and Steve and had an excellent meal preceded by a drink in the small but very good Orchid bar. Entertainment Now I cannot say much about the entertainment as I did not go. This is because I wished to avoid the bruising on my side I have suffered previously. This comes from Linda's elbow as she repeatedly digs me in the ribs to wake me up as I doze after a good dinner and wine. I am told that all the show were excellent and well attended and I know that there was never a mass early leaving as I was in he Casino just outside the theatre door. Throughout the ship on most evenings there was a variety of live music, a steel band, a big band a group and some classical. In the pub, The Rising Sun there was of course Karaoke. Luckily there were some excellent singers on board so it was not too bad. I have left the disco Electra till last as this is were Linda spent a lot of time and even I spent a good deal of time. DJ Steve recently from Oriana did a sterling job and played the songs that those who were there wanted. I must say that this is one of the main plus points of the adult ship environment for us, having the disco for adults and listening to music we enjoyed. On Aurora in the past the disco has been taken over by a much younger element and the music played has reflected this. Activities Daytime As most of you know these are far to many to mention. I did observe however that the entertainment staff all were enthusiastic and that there were activities going on all the time, with many sail away parties etc. Linda attended many of the lectures given on the cruise, particularly by Diane Simpson, who by all accounts kept a large audience enthralled over a series of 5 or 6 talks. Certainly it provoked discussion in other areas of the ship for the rest of the day. Magie Philbin from Swapshop and Tomorrows World was also on board and Linda went to her talks and enjoyed them immensely I went to some talks on Computers and from the New Horizons program a 2 part workshop on digital imaging. It was very good I also had a four session package in the Hydro-therapy pool and steam rooms. I started them at the time of my bad back and it was wonderful on the warm tile beds in the steam rooms area. However a couple of points, the dressing gowns, one size, were designed for Ronnie Corbett. They were an absolute joke. Secondly the tiles in the pool area were not suitable for the area. They were very slippery when wet and of course they get wet. They looked nice but were not pool tiles. My other daytime activity was the Dai Bryson sit and drink coffee and do your Sudoku class This was well attended with 100% attendance most of the time. Sometimes the class participant was known to drop off. These classes took place in the piano bar and in Cafe Vivo, were the participants could also get goodies to eat. I must say that Cafe Vivo is not well designed for a cruise ship with those stools which were rarely used and the couches which were used but were in short supply. Second part to come. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
We travelled on the new (2005)child-free Arcadia from Southampton down to Lisbon calling at Vigo,La Rochelle and Brest. The embarkation,as with all P&O cruises was smooth and very rapid and with the minimum of fuss. THE SHIP; As has ... Read More
We travelled on the new (2005)child-free Arcadia from Southampton down to Lisbon calling at Vigo,La Rochelle and Brest. The embarkation,as with all P&O cruises was smooth and very rapid and with the minimum of fuss. THE SHIP; As has been mentioned before,Arcadia is less spectacularly appointed than other ships in the fleet and has a more modern and contemporary feel to the decor. However we liked the muted colors of sage,cream and taupe which runs throughout the ship and also into the cabins,creating a calm and soothing atmosphere. We had a balcony cabin at the stern of the ship on deck 8 (Australia}with a vast balcony well able to entertain a dozen or more people! The cabin was of an average size for a stateroom,although the doorway was very narrow and a certain amount of juggling had to be done with the bathroom door and wardrobe doors which were directly opposite each other. There were no drawers in the cabin just two large ones in the base of the sofa. The wardrobe was very dark -an interior light might have illuminated the Stygian gloom! However,these cabins are invariably designed by men who have no concept of how to struggle into a ballgown in a 3ft space whilst trying to find one's evening sandal at the back of a wardrobe by touch alone! FOOD; The main formal restaurant,The Meridian had reasonably good food,which tended to arrive tepid. There were also 2 additional restaurants on board-Gary Rhodes and the Orchid which served Asian food. There was a cover charge for both venues and they were excellent,but book early on the cruise as there is great demand for tables. ENTERTAINMENT; We are not huge fans of cruise type shows,but if you like old comics,a few hoofers and lots of dry ice,you will not be disappointed! We also had twin illusionists "THE TWINS" who were doubly awful. The usual teeth whitening seminars and TANZANITE-mysterious gem of Africa enlivened sea days,along with those impossibly dreadful art auctions selling daubs by bad artists to punters who have no idea what they are purchasing! The one entertainer we did enjoy was a very talented guitarist who played in solitary splendor in The Crows Nest Bar to a small select band of us who were prepared to go up to the eleventh deck! PORTS OF CALL: All were fine,but we couldn't dock at Brest due to a force 8 gale and so benefited from another sea day of line dancing teeth whitening seminars and Snowball bingo! Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Just returned off Aurora today from a 12 nt Canary Island cruise. This would have been the 3rd time on the ship. I chose this ship again as I had previously enjoyed the entertainment and passenger mix. Unfortunately, the cruise was so ... Read More
Just returned off Aurora today from a 12 nt Canary Island cruise. This would have been the 3rd time on the ship. I chose this ship again as I had previously enjoyed the entertainment and passenger mix. Unfortunately, the cruise was so boring. The Aurora Theatre company (this time only), were atrocious, just like a team of amateurs. The only good thing I could say was the two lead characters in their show "Phantom of the Popera". They were excellent singers and I think could do even better with a different set of backers. I still couldn't fault the food and service I received from our waiters in the Alexandria Restaurant, Vijay and John. EXCELLENT. The ship was clean as usual and cabins always clean and tidy. Got to be said, entertainment was diabolical. Jimmy Cricket!!! A Welsh singer, cant even remember his name, and illusionist Van Buren!!! and another female singer - shirley bassey singalike!!!! Also very surprised at how many children onboard, even though it wasn't school holidays Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
For our 1st ever cruise which was a birthday surprise for my wife I decided on the Caribbean. Was not sure if she could take the long flight. After having a some turbulence on the way over we were happy to get on the ground and more that ... Read More
For our 1st ever cruise which was a birthday surprise for my wife I decided on the Caribbean. Was not sure if she could take the long flight. After having a some turbulence on the way over we were happy to get on the ground and more that glad not to have to go through customs, but straight on a bus and straight to the ship. Overwhelmed by the size. getting on board was a breeze, no hassle, unlike the queuing you go through at the airports. Cabins were more than adequate for there purpose, as you only used them to get dressed and sleep in. Dressing up for dinner was a joy for us both as it was a gentle reminder of regimental dinners from an earlier time, meeting like minded people at meal times was also a bonus. The onboard facilities were very good and the trips were well worth the money, unlike a package holiday there was no pressure on board to take them. The entertainment was for the most of the cruise was very good quality and mixed. Our only minus was on the day of departure when you get the feeling you are no longer part of the ship, but that is the same on any holiday. One of the bonuses about cruising is the value for money. When you consider the many different places you visit and to visit them all separately, the cost would be very high. We are looking forward to our next one which is in 11 weeks time again to the Caribbean with friends on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
What a great ship. Everywhere was spotlessly clean, the food was very good and the staff could not be more helpful. The only thing you should be careful of is where your cabin is located and the time at your destinations. I myself did not ... Read More
What a great ship. Everywhere was spotlessly clean, the food was very good and the staff could not be more helpful. The only thing you should be careful of is where your cabin is located and the time at your destinations. I myself did not book this short break so I never researched the cabin layouts. Be aware do not book any inside cabins at the rear of the ship unless you like the constant drone of the air conditioning plant. As it was only a four might stay we put up with it but there is no way you can last any longer. We visited Brugges and Amsterdam and they were both great. The only niggle was that on our intinery we were told that we will be leaving Amsterdam early evening the next day, but left at 7am the next day instead. We asked at reception about this and mentioned that we were not informed about the change of departure times either by post or e mail. The polite reply was, "it's on our web site", so beware. Due to the time of departure and the speed the ship was going ( 15 mph ) it took over 24hours to reach Southampton was this a ploy of P&O for people to spend more money on board. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
We had a wonderful time aboard Arcadia. The flight from Manchester was on time at 8 a.m. and we were on the ship at 2 p.m. This is definitely the best place and line to cruise with, straight through passport control onto busses and then to ... Read More
We had a wonderful time aboard Arcadia. The flight from Manchester was on time at 8 a.m. and we were on the ship at 2 p.m. This is definitely the best place and line to cruise with, straight through passport control onto busses and then to the ship. SO unlike going through US. Our luggage arrived at about 6.30 in time for dinner. First night dinner was free seating as later flights were still arriving. Meal not too great but OK. The only problem we had with dinner was getting our table changed as we had been put on a table for 4 and wanted a larger table. Took 2 nights and a certain amount of irritation to get changed, but then fine. We had lovely waiters, Amit and Alex, and the wine waiter Ernesto was really efficient and very pleasant. Often on ships the wine waiters are overworked, or just slow, although as Americans on the whole don't seem to drink as much wine with dinner as Europeans perhaps it is just a culture thing! The food was the best I've had on a ship, always arrived hot and the vegetables were wonderful, great variety and delicious sauces. Had steak a couple of times, which again were cooked perfectly. Great variety at breakfast and the lunch display was good. The cabins were spacious as far as ship's cabins can be! No drawers, which was rather irritating. Decor was fine, quite light, and the balcony had really comfortable wooden recliners. On the whole I don't like ship's entertainment, so this was no better or worse than RCCL, Celebrity, HAL or Princess. As they have captive audiences as opposed to paying customers I always feel they are second rate. Went to 4 shows (under sufferance), Roy Walker comic (Catchphrase) was amusing and professional, so went to see him twice, one other comedian/singer who I didn't like at all, and one acrobatic show which was OK. Didn't go on any ship excursions as we do our own thing. Getting on the tenders in Meyreaux was well organized and despite a big swell everything went well. Was much better organized than RCCL last year when it took over 2 hours to get off the ship in Grand Cayman! On getting on and off the ship there were hand gels to use, plus outside the Belvedere restaurant there was not only gel dispensers but also stewards with dispensers always there to make sure you were 'gelled'. The islands were all fine. We particularly liked St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola and St. Vincent. Meyreaux was lovely, just one long beach with quite large waves which took some people unawares. The only sad thing was that we expected there to be a barbeque, or food, on the beach but this never appeared, although the waiters were there to provide drinks. The last day in Barbados was very pleasant. Unlike other lines where they expect you to get off as quickly as possible, on Arcadia although we had to leave the cabin by 9 a.m. we were then allowed virtually free run of the ship. We had breakfast, sunbathed, showered (in lovely showers in the Spa) had lunch and left the ship at 4 p.m. for our 7 p.m. flight to Manchester, which luckily left on time. This is DEFINITELY the best cruise I've been on (other than the last time we went on the old Arcadia) with regard to transfers. The bars on the ship leave a little to be desired if you like any atmosphere, but then many other new ships are the same. The Crows Nest seemed to be empty until after dinner, didn't like the 'pub' bar and the usual ghastly Karaoke. The dance instructors had no enthusiasm at all, looked bored most of the time and had absolutely no talent for getting anything going. We made some friends who loved dancing and found it really frustrating that there was so little atmosphere and fun. The nightclub was better and had a good DJ. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
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