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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
Cruise J824 - Arcadia - Dec 20th 2008 to Jan 5th 2009 Embarkation We arrived at the terminal in Southampton at 2:10 pm to find a huge queue ahead of us. When we finally entered the terminal building the check in desks were unmanned, ... Read More
Cruise J824 - Arcadia - Dec 20th 2008 to Jan 5th 2009 Embarkation We arrived at the terminal in Southampton at 2:10 pm to find a huge queue ahead of us. When we finally entered the terminal building the check in desks were unmanned, staff were milling about but no announcements were made regarding the delay for at least an hour. Asking a staff member we were told there were "technical issues" and they couldn't embark anyone at the present time. A few clowns were present to entertain the waiting masses but cold drinks would have been more appropriate. The building was very hot and not even cold water was available. The usual procedure took place at check in, photo for ship pass, registration of credit card etc. 2 days into the cruise we received a call from reception saying they had no record of our registered credit card on the system, it seems our credit card details were lost somewhere between check in at Southampton and the ships database. When we questioned the staff on reception about this once again their response was "technical issues", poor show P&O. At 4:40 we finally got on board only to find the lifeboat drill had taken place, no other drills were arranged for the passengers who had missed this vital information. A 2 hour 30 minute wait to embark is inexcusable. Cabin The cabin (D-deck with balcony) was spacious with plenty of wardrobe space. Luggage fitted easily under the bed with room to spare. Adequate lighting in the bathroom, shower had good pressure and was easy to use. A range of Temple Spa toiletries were present, only the shower gel was replenished. The balcony was showing signs of wear, peeling paint. One small table and 2 chairs took up the majority of balcony space available. Good sized fridge. Decent size, height adjustable table in the cabin. The bed was very comfortable, pillows soft yet supportive. Overall the cabin was clean, fresh and inviting. Our cabin steward was a real gem and easily the most professional crew member we encountered aboard the ship. Entertainment The entertainment aboard ranged from poor to outstanding but most of it was aimed toward the more mature passenger with very little provided for those not in their twilight years. To any readers under 50, I would suggest doing some research on alternative cruises before doing a cruise on Arcadia. Other member reviews have said the same thing and I can only echo their warning. It does seem to be a ship of mainly older folk, average age was around 75. Our first day at sea had a fluid retention and swollen ankles talk in the spa, if you were out of there by 11 am you could head up to The Crow's nest for a game of bingo. Headliners Theatre Group, the ships entertainers, were outstanding. Each cast member was an accomplished vocalist and competent dancer. All the shows they performed were wonderfully executed with superb costumes and sets. Highlights of the cruise were the performances given by Gerald Dickens, great great grandson of Charles Dickens. His performance of 'A Christmas Carol' on Christmas day was joyous and worthy of the West End. It's just a pity that the other entertainment provided in the various bars around the ship was so mundane. Not everyone enjoys listening to repeated sets of what sounded like elevator music day after day. The refit of Arcadia allowed P&O to provide a small cinema on deck 3. As it only seats 30 people you have to get there early in order to ensure a seat. The seats recline and are very comfortable...if you can get one. An annoying thing was the extreme rudeness of some passengers who would barge in 5 minutes before the end of the previous film with no thought to the passengers already there and enjoying the end of the movie they had chosen to watch. On more than one occasion the wrong movie was shown and staff had to be informed, as they didn't hang around to check they were actually playing the correct film. A cinema on board is a great idea but pointless to have one that seats 30 on a ship that carries 2000 passengers. The cabin TV was supposed to have a dedicated channel devoted to movies, Christmas movies especially. When we tried to watch channel 9, all that we saw was a screen of interference. When we called reception to ask about the problem we were told that channel 9 wouldn't be available for the entire cruise, it's a "technical issue", seems that term was the answer to any query P&O encountered. The Disco was usually always empty and seemed to be a complete waste of space, extending the casino into the disco area would be a better utilization of that area of deck 2. As it is the casino is very small with an outdated selection of slot machines. A Christmas Bazaar was listed as a shopping experience to take place in the upper level of the Meridian restaurant. We were disappointed to see that this shopping extravaganza was merely the shop inventory laid out on some of the restaurant tables with nothing new whatsoever. The newly extended Aquarius deck was the main venue for Hogmanay celebrations. The generally friendly fellow passengers and crew enjoyed many hours of music and dancing. The party went on into the wee small hours as can be testified to by the Alpha alert over the tannoy system at 4 am, it seems there was a passenger in difficulty after falling down some stairs We got chatting to long standing P&O diehards who mentioned that this was the first New Year party on a P&O ship that they were not given a free drink. The consensus seems to be that the standards are dropping year by year with passengers being charged for more extras. Crew The majority of the crew we encountered were polite and friendly with the exception of an extremely rude member of the photography team. Our cabin steward couldn't be faulted; waiters were pleasant and chatty once we got to know then. Our wine waitress left a lot to be desired, on more than one occasion drink orders from ourselves and our table companions were completely forgotten by her and she only remembered as we passed her on the way out of the restaurant. Some crew had a personal hygiene problem; we noticed this numerous times. 3 separate barmen had a particularly strong B.O odor that was quite off-putting. Ship and dEcor The ships dEcor was fresh and bright, plenty of Christmas decorations and trees on every deck added to the festive atmosphere. Beautiful sculptures in the lower entrance to the theatre that are easily missed if you enter theatre on a higher deck. Lots of interesting artwork around the ship, it's certainly worth walking around all the decks to have a look at what's on display. It was easy to see the ship had been re carpeted throughout. P&O must have encountered a problem on deck 2. Just at the Spinnaker Bar, there was an extremely obvious musty smell coming from the carpet, which they tried to rectify by having an industrial drying machine plugged in for the first week of the cruise. The toilets near the Globe on deck 2 were also experiencing problems, the stink passengers encountered when passing them was horrific Food The food in the Belvedere was plentiful but not of the highest quality. A lot of the cakes on offer had synthetic cream and were not at all appetizing. The selection available from midnight onwards tended to be dried out and uninspiring food that looked like it had come from the local freezer center. Salads and fresh fruit were of good quality as were the accompaniments, coleslaw, bean salad etc. Long queues were not apparent, we seldom had to wait for more than 1 minute to reach the food we were in line for. The juice dispenser in the Belvedere was switched off at 12 noon, I must say that this was rather mean and penny pinching of P&O, there can be no other reason to switch of the juice other than to increase passenger spending on drinks over lunchtime. Some of the best lunchtime food was available at the Neptune Grill, always fresh and cooked to order. A particular favorite there was the blueberry cheesecake, very tasty indeed and of much higher quality than the desserts in the Belvedere. The Meridian didn't live up to expectations. The dreaded potato croquettes that have been mentioned on the forums, accompanied dinner on the first night. They are of very poor quality indeed and have no place on an evening dinner menu of a cruise ship. Fellow dining companions ordered the steak one evening. What they received could have been hidden under a small bread roll, it was tiny! Food in general in the Meridian ranged from distinctly average to a few excellent dishes. The Indian food was especially good; the Dhal soup was one of the best I've ever eaten. Afternoon tea was a huge letdown. Hard, tasteless scones, small cakes with synthetic cream and measly filled sandwiches were the order of the day. The vegetarian sandwich was Rocket, one Rocket leaf between 2 slices of bread. I asked the waitress for some cheese sandwiches only to be told that I would need to order them 24 hours ahead. When we spend 3k per person on a cruise we don't expect to have to give a days notice for a sandwich. As I am a vegetarian, I informed my travel agent and also called P&O in person to inform them of this fact. Despite doing so I didn't receive the vegetarian menu until the 5th night, neither the staff in the restaurant or the staff on reception had any record of my dietary requirements. Yep, you've guessed it, technical issues were to blame. Come on P&O spend some money on competent admin staff and computer systems that actually work. During the last sea day passengers could enjoy a galley tour and a chocolate buffet. After previously cruising with Celebrity I expected big things from the chocolate buffet, sadly it was another indication of cost cutting measures. The layout wasn't at all spectacular with more of those thawed out gateaux that can be seen in every supermarket in the land. One or two pleasing ice sculptures couldn't lift the lackluster affair of the tasteless selection on offer. Ports We didn't book any of the P&O excursions preferring to do our own thing. Every port had regular free shuttle buses provided by P&O. Ports of call varied. Palma was a washout, being Boxing Day everywhere was closed and it rained incessantly. Our favorite had to be Malta, beautiful harbor and surprisingly warm weather for the time of year. Certainly a place we shall return to. We arrived in Barcelona on the morning of the 30th of December expecting to leave again as 2am on January 1st. Due to mechanical problems with a generator we didn't leave Barcelona till almost 5pm on January 1st, a full 15 hours behind schedule. As a result of this delay our last post of call was cancelled. Each passenger received £100 as an apology for not getting to Vigo. £40 per person was also refunded during the cruise; this fuel supplement refund was deducted off your shipboard account. The cruise log that each passenger receives at the end of the cruise mentioned nothing of the delay. It states "Arcadia extended her call in Barcelona until late afternoon, allowing a whole extra day for the opportunity for passengers to go ashore" That's not the case, passengers had to be back on board by 1:30-2:00, rather economical with the truth there P&O Disembarkation Disembarkation was smooth considering the number of passengers onboard. Passengers are given color-coded cards the night before with your time to disembark on them. Luggage in the terminal building is sorted according to your deck so is easy to find. In conclusion all I can say is that this was our first cruise with P&O...and our last. Read Less
Arcadia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 1.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.4
Enrichment 3.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.4
Rates 4.0 3.7

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