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Sail Date: January 2006
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: 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: 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
Arcadia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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