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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2013
We went on the J301 cruise from Southampton to Brisbane the dream cruise for retirement that turned into a nightmare I would conservatively say 80% of the people on the ship were sick at some time with type 1 and 2 flu found on the ship ... Read More
We went on the J301 cruise from Southampton to Brisbane the dream cruise for retirement that turned into a nightmare I would conservatively say 80% of the people on the ship were sick at some time with type 1 and 2 flu found on the ship as well as the famed Arcadia cough which we found was no myth I boarded the ship healthy and during the 52 days of the cruise have never taken so many medicines in 70 years Nora virus ironical was no problem the ship were meticulous and the threat was well handled in fact the hotel department of the ship, food cabins (State Rooms if American) were very good both Pursers we had excellent However a ships mood is set by the personality of the Captain and the Cruise Director Captain number 1 to Montevideo bland but functional Captain number 2 in my opinion short changed the clients in many ways totally none commutative we all felt she thought we were lucky to be on her ship -- however she was not too burdened with a personality The Cruise Director had much the same attitude only she was so full of self importance with constant references to "my Staaaaf" and my DJ my, Technical team" and so on I think there was a problem with understanding of who paid the wages and the cruise was for the benefit of the passengers The main complaint the limitary slashed to endless sea days 4 ports taken out 1 put back -- I have paper work to say in port in Easter Island and Pitcairn We sailed by with no effort to point out the land marks or sail around the Islands as other cruises do In fact the cruise DJ when we were 10 minutes from Easter Island made fun of the Bridge "maybe some one will tell us what id happening soon" his comments Valparaiso was a disaster the ships Captain wanted us all back on board for a boat drill at 5pm although we were scheduled to sail until 9pm The monthly refresher could have been done any time cutting the on shore activity down tremendously I could wax on whinging like the 600 Auses we had on the ship with other points -- however I think you can see why the passenger moral was low Never again with Arcadia P&O yes but I will be looking who the Captain and cruise director is before booking many Australians will never cruise P&O again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
We liked the ship itself and our balcony cabin was clean, spacious and comfortable. The public areas were well decorated and tidy with decent carpets and fabrics. The atrium was a little disappointing - not very grand and if you blink you ... Read More
We liked the ship itself and our balcony cabin was clean, spacious and comfortable. The public areas were well decorated and tidy with decent carpets and fabrics. The atrium was a little disappointing - not very grand and if you blink you will miss it. We were however disappointed with the cruise in general. We didnt feel that it was a special holiday - a treat, as we have experienced on equal, and lesser graded ships. Arcadia has the potential because we heard several people comment that they had been on this ship in the past and enjoyed it in the past and they said that there had definately been a fall in standards. We found the food at the evening meal to be fairly average on the whole, with some very good courses occassionally. The buffet lunches were really dreadful and as for the 'chocolate extravaganza' well it was served in the hour before you had to be on board the ship - so it was easy to miss it. waiters served you to one piece of coconut ice which they dipped in the chocolate fountain and then there were 3 small tables of mixed cakes - mostly not chocolate. There were no chocolate dipped strawberries, beautifully decorated gateaux or other luxurious items , it was all very very average. The ships' staff in general seemed to not really care about providing a good service, one day at sea we were on top deck (11) sunbathing for an hour and no waiters came around at all.I walked around deck and not one customer had a drink, on deck 10 it was the same. When i went to the nearest indoor bar on the deck below there were 3 waiters standing doing nothing and i asked why they werent serving either deck 10 or 11 and was told it was because of the windy weather. One waiter did take my order and bring it to my sunbed, but only after i had sought him out and asked him to. It would have been helpful if a sign had been posted somewhere to let people know there would be no waiter service. So, overall not good enough, not special, certainly not luxurious. The evening and daily entertainment seemed geared entirely to the older clientele, the 2 proper shows on the nights were very much the same, singing songs from old musicals. Costumes, singing and dancing skills were very good but the type of show just wouldnt appeal to everyone - hence lots of empty seats in the theatre both nights.During the day there was ballroom dancing, bead necklace making sessions, quiz of 50's music etc etc - there seems to be a theme here. Norway was nice but 4 days of Norway would have been too much. It is expensive, and there is nothing much to do at each stop. Trips were expensive to book. Thankfully we were unable to dock at Stavanger, our last stop, due to a port strike and our captain diverted to Zeebrugge in Belgium which meant we were able to visit Bruges - the chocolate and beer capital of Europe ! Fabulous , and such a pretty town to walk around. I would definately recommend that P&O keep this in the itinerary for future cruises as it was a definate highlight of the cruise. So, we did get value for money because we paid a very reasonable price for our balcony cabin. However, we upgraded 3 nights out of 7 to the speciality restaurants on board . They were both well worth the money. If you are under 65 i would definately not recommend this cruise. Sorry P&O but you must try harder, many people said Arcadia must be the poor relative as all the other ships were much better. Shame on you for letting one of your ships become laclustre and horribly average. It has definately put me off cruising with P&O in the future. Sorry. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
Have just returned from Barbados by aircraft, leaving the cruise-ship Arcadia to travel onwards to Alaska, before its return journey to Southampton sometime in June.All staff aboard the vessel were generally hard-working and polite, ... Read More
Have just returned from Barbados by aircraft, leaving the cruise-ship Arcadia to travel onwards to Alaska, before its return journey to Southampton sometime in June.All staff aboard the vessel were generally hard-working and polite, although in the Belvedere self-service restaurant the staff clearing or replenishing various items on trolleys, for some reason expected you to give way as you meandered through the facility. On other ships such staff usually give way and are therefore not really noticeable, but on the Arcadia they are part of the traffic problem, making the staff on other cruise operations somehow even more appreciated.The majority of senior staff - the one's wearing "whites" - were predominantly western European.Not wishing to cast any aspersions on recruitment policy or ladders of opportunity in the P&O operation, to me it just seemed slightly bizarre and rather out of kilter with modern ideology with just a few token non-Caucasian post-holders of junior rank.I became aware of what is seemingly important to the P&O operation and their regulars, by the daily activities on offer which we were alerted to in the very informative daily Horizons newsletter. I must emphasise that before making my booking I didn't complete a pre-cruise questionnaire as to my personal tastes, club or society membership, religious persuasion or general pastimes. So imagine my concern when we were alerted to a Masonic Lodge meeting in the Viceroy Room. I thought this little gathering was meant to be secret?There were other targeted sessions arranged for specific groups including a Rotary Club meeting, a Catholic Mass on the Sunday, various Bridge tournaments, whist-drives, a jigsaw group, and numerous other activities that are usually the preserve of the Women's Institute.In that respect, perhaps these bastions of UK society are where P&O advertise their adventures to this target group who seemingly appear to think that they are a cut above the rest of us. I myself like a little bit of Google-ing in my spare time - but P&O charge for this. I also like gardening, swimming and a bit of car maintenance. None of which were offered as on-board activities. They may argue that swimming was available, but their two dip-pools hardly catered for the monotony of doing lengths at your local pool. I can't really comment on many of the other activities such as the shows and lectures available throughout the day, as I didn't do any. All entertainment is optional, unless it's not entertaining and you wish it to be so. I have witnessed a few shows at sea and always come to the same conclusion that the shows could be dropped and thereby allow free internet access to the customers, and do away with the show-girls and resident bands and dubious guests and one-hit-wonders. I could go on about the P&O operation and no doubt will. However, the following little episode regarding the evening's dining arrangements just about sums it up, speaking volumes as to what this company is seemingly all about.During the booking process we had requested to be sat at a table for six on the second sitting, and the second sitting we got, although we were sat at a table for just 4. However, we were sat at least sat at Table Number 6. So perhaps it was a reasonable attempt on their part.Anyway, no confusion and no questions. Hand in card, sit were shown, and eat meal. Splendid.Unfortunately if you are sat at table number six with six as your preferred party size, then it is understandable to the mere mortals that conduct the restaurant operation that confusion can set in. And it set in the following evening when we were joined by a different couple. They explained that on the first night they had not shown up to dinner, as by 8.00pm neither had their luggage. We were then joined by couple number one from the previous evening although they seemed confused as the table now had all seats taken. Despite the confusion, we merely requested that we be reallocated to a table that would at least sit us all, only to be met with shockwaves from distraught restaurant staff. The unfolding incident quickly attracted the attention of the Restaurant Manager himself. His manner and overall demeanour may be engaging to some; brown-nosing the elite diners with his well-honed patter, but to deal with any issues that are somewhat beneath his station obviously caused him some distress. His general manner to the restaurant staff appeared to be a knock-back to the days of the Raj. I digress slightly, so please allow me to recount his opening line when he got wind of our table/party size issue."Did you book in 2009?"That's it.'Did I what?' sprang immediately to mind, but really his line of enquiry speaks volumes if not screams them, and as I let the enormity of his statement sink in. Just imagine for a minute, Gordon Ramsey being asked the same question as he sat in preparation for some culinary delights.I wish I could have responded in true-Ramseyesque fashion because boy did this grotty man deserve it."Did you book in 2009?""I'm sorry, what do you just say?"As if it matters when you book. Does it suggest a sliding scale of quality?Nobody at the table responded as they all appeared to be stunned by his line of enquiry. I suggested that a discussion wasn't really necessary and all they had to do was deal with the issue. And to be fair, they did just that and we were relocated to a different table and were even joined with a further two diners on the subsequent night. Perhaps this table may have been designated for troublemakers, riff-raff or general ne'erdowells. Who knows?Nevertheless, our dining experience appeared to be similar to that of other diners in the vicinity of our new location, although it was apparent that we weren't exactly fawned over like some of those earmarked as elite, with attentive waiters pouring more wine at every opportunity, removing crumbs and creases from the tablecloths or replenishing the ice-bucket.We had attentive staff who delivered what we asked for and were on hand to deal with any dining issues. To me this is more preferable than having a squad of waist-coated waiters terrorising me with requests as to whether I was enjoying my meal, or re-iron my serviette, or ask if I needed my bread roll smeared with more butter, or even have my steak cut in to delicate morsels so as to avoid me being hospitalised with repetitive strain injury."Did you book in 2009?"God, it plagued my mind for days afterwards, and still does for that matter. What on earth was he expecting as a response? What action would he take on this apparent sliding scale of service?If I had let slip that I only booked the day before setting sail, perhaps he would have had me keel-hauled, or thrown overboard. To be honest we actually booked about six weeks before sailing, but not being a member of any particular lodge or golf club, I still expected equal treatment to the other guests on board. "Did you book in 2009?"What the hell do you mean by that? Does it form part of a Restaurant Manager training seminar back at P&O Headquarters? I would complain to them directly, but having previously tried complaining on other cruise lines, my experience suggests the procedure is like "peeing into the wind".While we are on with the dining experience, P&O celebrate your adventure with what they consider to be a gesture of goodwill and fond memories. On the last evening meal of your cruise you are issued with copies of all the evening menus to which we had been subjected, all in a nice little glossy wallet-file entitled, 'Something to remember' or 'Your unforgettable dining experience'. Unfortunately I can't actually remember the name of the brochure as I didn't bring it home as a keepsake. Deliberately so.I do though remember that most diners were unhappy with the lobster on one particular evening, which was actually filled with prawns and not lobster. Where do you buy just lobster shells so that you can fill them with some cheaper fishy offering? Or more importantly, Why? Seems rather fishy to me. On the whole, the evening meals were indifferent, occasionally very good, but overall nothing more than okay and more often than not, disappointing. There were a few additional regular options at the bottom of the menu if the delights of the main menu weren't that appealing, with grilled chicken, sirloin or salmon available.Nobody tried the chicken at our table, but I had the salmon one evening and it was rather good. This was during the lobster sketch, so I may have just been thankful for not having been won over by the mouth-watering description of Maine lobster. Others who chose the steak option were less impressed. I presume it is quite difficult to prepare a medium or medium-rare sirloin steak with all the flavour removed, although this was alarmingly consistent from the kitchen, where they appear to have mastered flavour removal from what is a good looking platter of food. I would therefore recommend a mustard or pepper sauce accompaniment, so at least you get to taste something.On a positive note, I particularly liked the Baramundi dish that was served up one evening, but overall I wasn't blown-away by any of the main meals. I'm not a big sweet eater, but did occasionally sample some of the desserts. The New York cheesecake was rather good, and by all accounts the liquorice ice-cream was a true delight. However, I didn't realise that Tiramisu was now actually available in Angel-Delight packets, because that's what I appeared to get. Or then again it could have been Instant-Whip...Asda here I come - a fine flavour but not particularly fine-dining. Semi-skilled milk, Angel-delight tiramisu mix, whisk to a thick-ish consistency and add a bit of chopped flake - marvellous.I must point out that the cheeseboard was fairly good and reasonably consistent, so I usually stuck to that.Oops, I've missed the starters, which to be fair were generally okay except for one particular platter. The shellfish and crab pate served on delicate melba toast sounded rather tempting. Unfortunately the subsequent Kit-e-Kat on Rivita was not what I had in mind as an opener to that night's dining experience. My wife ordered Whitebait as a starter one evening and ate only one delicate morsel before tucking into her bread roll. Not being a huge fan of this particular offering I can only convey that whitebait to her is usually crispy and covered in a light batter coating, and not gooey and smothered in oil; be it extra-virgin, vegetable, or sun-tan, although the oil wasn't really the issue. It would be like grilling custard or roasting some salad, if that God forbid isn't presenting the chef with some future ideas for his menu. Anyway I hope you get my point.We did venture into the Gary Rhodes inspired Arcadian Rhodes restaurant, although this was only for the lifeboat drill. I had no desire to return to eat in this establishment, although if necessary there were one or two handsome bottles of red that might require saving during an actual lifeboat alert. The glass doors to this venue were dirty, and not what one would expect. If you can't clean a glass panel - would you really want to eat in there?I mentioned briefly about the clientele aboard and the bawdy golf-club types and even those that move in the circles of the rather secretive Masonic Lodge. These people supposedly keep secrets going back way back when, with some illustrious former members such as Isaac Newton and George Washington to name but two. I have no doubt that these notable historical figures may possibly have had information which may have been truly revealing or even startling. However, putting yourself in their eminent shoes just for a moment, who would you really trust with imparting such knowledge to? There surely would be no other alternative than to create some secret group or society whose members rise up through various degrees and demonstrate via various acts that they have become truly worthy of harbouring such information. That being said, it would sadly appear to be the case that some senior Masons may have possibly met their sad demise before passing on their invaluable information to entrusted members rising through the ranks. That being the case, then you're essentially left with a gentleman's club that has a secret that none of its members no longer know, but they have a jolly time dressing up and pretending that they know something, but that's the biggest secret of all. They don't know it anymore, and the secret is now pretending that they do. They have no current knowledge of the knowledge that they were once supposedly entrusted with. But shh... don't tell anyone I told you. It'll be our secret.One lunchtime I actually overhead some diners mentioning something about unit-cost, which actually made me grateful for not having booked in 2009. If you're not responsible for on-shore purchases for the P&O operation, then why on earth would unit-cost be a topic of conversation for anyone on board?I even overheard some "I'm an important person" type passenger questioning the special guest concert pianist as to his arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The musician seemed somewhat dumb-struck as to his cross examination whilst he partook in a light lunch. To me his examiner seemed just plain dumb.The cruise on the Arcadia was offered as an adults-only holiday. The problem of booking an adult only cruise is that no-one really qualifies what is meant by the word adult. Over 18? Over 21? Having a job? Being married? Being a Mason? Essential Golf Club membership? Understanding the rudimentaries of bridge? Who knows?I have at least five of my own little tykes plus a granddaughter, so adult-only adventure was an appealing angle on a holiday. You were therefore not plagued with little miscreants pestering you to get them some lager, pressing all the buttons in the lifts, or screaming and bawling at not been allowed yet another ice-cream. Aah Bliss.Instead of all these delights, you become aware of some other menace that can be equally annoying to any brat causing havoc in the lifts. The regular lift menace on this cruise was caused not by youngsters but obviously adults in this case. There were rather disturbing aromas in and around the lifts, as someone quite possibly mistook them for a lavatory or just couldn't help themselves passing wind between floors. This proved quite popular with some guests and as we were on the second sitting for dinner, you could get a clear indication of what was on that night's menu long before you even arrived at the restaurant.Some of the more portly guests seemed to enjoy the Jacuzzis out on the sun deck. However, when they had finished immersing themselves for their therapeutic session, the amount of water left in the receptacle was less than half; such was their experimentation in displacing a volume of water. Eureka indeed...I must point out that on other occasions some of our lift-friends didn't even need to switch the Jacuzzi on.The Arcadia itself is a slightly tired vessel, and on two different occasions it moored alongside a gleaming Royal Caribbean ship, and it was evident that P&O don't overdo the painting side of things.There were other areas on board which could only be described as adequate, although the Palladium Theatre is better than average. The Library is a tad disappointing and barely adequate, but did house the Jigsaw Society. These were a rather disturbing group whom I alerted our dining colleagues to. One of them proposed a black-ops mission in order to remove a few pieces, or even swap lids on the boxes or exchange a handful of pieces amongst the various unopened puzzles...There was an abundance of walking aids on board, ranging from traditional walking sticks to motorised scooters, and a seemingly endless supply of cotton socks to match that day's tailored shorts along with traditional open-toed sandals.There were limited shaded areas on the open decks and the promenade deck was usually oversubscribed by individuals dribbling their breakfast as they took a well-earned nap in the morning sunshine. Perhaps though, they'd been there all night. I wonder if anyone checks before nightfall?The bar prices and venues are fairly typical of what you find at sea. However, there is one redeeming feature that other cruise lines need to take heed of. You can take your own booze on board - even at the destination ports. On most cruises this is not the case. You can book into the best hotels in the world and nip down to the corner shop and get yourself some goodies to enjoy in the comfort of your hotel room. No search squads, teams of security, nor does it apparently contravene any hotelier protocols. But you can't do this at sea, and any alcohol is usually removed and returned to your stateroom on the last night of your cruise. Not anymore though. P&O allow reasonable allowances, and they will even deliver a litre of branded spirits to your room for under £12. Well done P&O, very well done.As for being done, well they provide you with comprehensive information on tipping and even provide you with envelopes and how much you should tip. They seemingly pride their operation on not applying gratuities up front, but then have the cheek to request that you reward high standards by telling you who and what to tip. If they don't pay their staff appropriate wages, why should we subsidise it by stumping up a bit more for a service that we've already essentially paid for, just so that P&O shareholders can maximise their dividends.Pay the staff appropriate salaries and put the cost up - you never know people may still leave tips.For some bizarre reason we pay the cost of new clothing by paying the price on the tag, but for some reason the price on a menu isn't ever quite right, or the drinks for that matter. Why is this? In a shop: Greet, provide information, fold garment, complete transaction. No tip.In a restaurant: Greet, take order, bring drinks and meal, remove empties, bring bill, complete transaction. Wait for tip.Why have we allowed this financial intimidation to evolve?Nevertheless, I left a fiver in an envelope marked "Captain" - Well steered mate, excellent job.So where did we go on our adventure?Madeira was quite charming - if you call a walk along the front at Funchal a full and proper exploration of this historic volcanic island. We decided against the suggested toboggan rides and cable cars, having had no real desire to partake in such activity. So a stroll it was- and as I said it was pleasantly surprising and quite charming. It is unfortunate that the resort still bears the scars of last year's inclement weather with numerous damaged bridges, and the depositing of all the debris caused by the storm in one area along the seafront. Apparently there is no more money left in Portugal, so there is no possible solution on the horizon. Unless of course they get bailed out by the EU.However, you never know they may add this eyesore as a shore excursion as the famous storm debris plateau where guests could collect some samples...They could even erect a hut in traditional Madeirian style in order to house local craftsmen who could fashion intricate jewellery from the spoil.After six days at sea crossing the Atlantic, you finally spot land. It is a seemingly endless journey, but your admiration goes out to those who have made the crossing in vessels lacking GPS systems, or engines for that matter.A few days of 'Yeahhh Maan' were on offer at Antigua, St Maarten, St Lucia and Barbados.For me Barbados is rather forgetful and a tad disappointing, as to is Antigua. The other two islands on this cruise made you want to go back, which shouldn't really be that hard in the Caribbean. They both had charm, warm people and wonderful scenery.The humpback whales off Antigua were a surprise and a delight to behold. There are plenty of other wildlife to see during a cruise, although patience is required as the oceans are rather vast, and the critters doesn't just leap out of the pond at the sound of a whistle for a dangled dead herring, before returning to the ocean depths with a double-piked re-entry.The temperature goes up significantly on this adventure, and you find that the heat begins to erode your general response time, and you find yourself in need of a nap in the afternoon and one-or-two too many beers. In that sense you get an indication of the lifestyle that the locals lead on these islands, as you too begin to behave in a similar manner...Time is altered in these parts. Perhaps the earth turns slower, or the magnetic lines interfere with chronometers, but in general, five minutes equates to about half-an-hour on a normal clock, but nevertheless you eventually get used to it, even if you have to wait five minutes or so.It's difficult to rate this adventure as we only did part of it. But the dining experience was poor in comparison to other cruise operations - but being fair we weren't hospitalised or plagued with dysentery. It was just as I said, disappointing.The ship is probably in need of a make-over, although this opinion is probably skewed slightly by my previous experiences at sea which were undoubtedly better. It's a difficult thing to categorise, but essentially I can only measure the experience by asking if I would I do the cruise again. No, not really. Not even if I had booked in 2009.Would I use P&O again? Well yes, possibly, but it wouldn't be my first choice, no matter how appealing it is taking your own booze on board. But be aware, it is now very difficult to book anything in 2009 if not impossible - so be prepared, as you might get asked, "Did you book in 2011?"Enjoy - whenever you book... Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
As regular cruisers we chose our first P & O cruise for its exciting itinerary. Hong Kong to Dubai on a leg of the Arcadia World Cruise. The itinerary did not disappoint and there were some good features on the Arcadia, tea and ... Read More
As regular cruisers we chose our first P & O cruise for its exciting itinerary. Hong Kong to Dubai on a leg of the Arcadia World Cruise. The itinerary did not disappoint and there were some good features on the Arcadia, tea and coffee facilities in the good sized balcony cabin, which you do not get on many American Boats, good headline acts in the theatre, and our evening waiters were efficient. The problem was the standard of food which they were given to serve. The menu was filled with fancy descriptions but what was produced was reminiscent of school dinners. Universally sloppy the only thing with texture was the steaks which were as tough as old boots. A piece of salmon, one scallop and one prawn does not make for a gala night seafood grill, vegetables were either overcooked or stuck together. Breakfast in the buffet offeredplenty of 'English' fare but bacon and black puddings were swimming in grease and the one and only omelette station kept breaking down. We tried the main dining room for breakfast and found slow service and food not cooked to order, i.e. I asked for dry scrambled eggs and after a full 40 minutes got slop! To top it all the lack of finesse was astounding. We drink decaffeinated coffee and the best on offer in the main dining room was a sachet opened and poured into a cup in front of us then topped us with hot water. We tried, in some desperation, to get a decent coffee by paying for it in the coffee shop only to spot the staff putting the same sachets in to the cup, topping it up with frothy milk and charging us for a cappuccino. On complaining we were told 'everyone knows that P & O don't carry decaf coffee' There was a prevalent attitude of P & O can do no wrong or, if there was an obvious problem, 'It isn't my job'. This was particularly prevalent on the embarkation of tours, which were totally disorganised. Being a leg of the World Cruise we found that many of the passengers were very elderly and the atmosphere on board was almost depressing, with little activity in any of the evening venues other than the theatre. Musicians were playing but with next to no audience they looked board to tears, we fancied going to the disco on Abba night but were too embarrassed to dance as we were the only ones there. We felt quite sorry for these entertainers and were not surprised to meet passengers who said that they were ready for going home. We also met P & O die hards who said that Arcadia was the worst ship in the fleet. It was not all bad, but when the food is poor then the overall enjoyment of the holiday is compromised. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Wife and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary - so this was a special cruise. We selected this cruise based on the ports of call. We knew most of the passengers would be retired folks. We first cruised with P&O in the late ... Read More
Wife and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary - so this was a special cruise. We selected this cruise based on the ports of call. We knew most of the passengers would be retired folks. We first cruised with P&O in the late 1980's and upto this cruise our favorite cruise line was Princess. So for folks reading this here is a brief summary: Ports of call fantastic Cabin stewards/bar staff/restaurant staff fantastic Evening entertainment was good Cabin faultless Given we have done so many Princess cruises it is very hard not to make comparisons between Princess and P&O - during the course of this cruise wife and I developed a saying BOP (better on Princess) So here is the list Drinks - on Princess you can buy an unlimited soft drink package approx $35 per 7 day cruise - not possible on P&O. Variety of drinks much better and also cheaper on Princess. Food - Princess is miles ahead. On Arcadia the food variety was incredibly boring and unimaginative. In fact we gave up eating in the main restaurants and paid supplements to eat in the specialty restaurants (the Orchid is fantastic). Excursions - Arcadia, expensive and not imaginative with many admin errors/mistakes leading to almost arrogance. My wife and I called it the 'Excuses Desk' as opposed to Excursion Desk. Open & below deck facilities - Arcadia isn't bad - but Princess is just better. In summary I cannot stress how bad the food was - boring, boring and more boring. I've eaten better in Tesco cafeteria. I think it is very possible P&O are deeply cutting costs and it is in the food and beverage area where this is most evident. I'd rather pay more for my ticket then eat what was served up - actually I did pay more by eating in the specialty restaurants. So next cruise back to Princess... Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2009
We'd flown to Singapore from Phuket, arriving in the late evening on the 4th February. We stayed at the Excelsior Peninsular, a pleasant 4 star-ish grade hotel in what is known as the Marina area of the city. Quite good value for ... Read More
We'd flown to Singapore from Phuket, arriving in the late evening on the 4th February. We stayed at the Excelsior Peninsular, a pleasant 4 star-ish grade hotel in what is known as the Marina area of the city. Quite good value for money, at the internet price that we paid. 'Rack rates' in Singapore can be astronomical at the moment. As we live in Thailand, we'd taken the cruise only option, so we had little joining info to go on. The only information on the cruise ticket said: Arcadia will be docked in Singapore. Imagine your ticket saying: your ship will be berthed in Southampton We rang the port agents who told us to go to the Harbour Front Terminal at 1.30 and we would be taken to the ship in the container port. Having tracked down the tiny office at the back of the terminal, not inside it, we handed over our luggage and were shown outside again to wait in e midday heat, the arrival of the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus took over half and hour to arrive and when it did, people who were clearly P&O crew, (passes round their necks) barged their way onto the bus, in front of others who were waiting to get on. Once at the dock side the same group pushed their way ahead before anyone else was out their seat. Check-in desks were set up on the quayside under tented awnings. The heat was intense and then despite having given them the ticket, they said they DIDN'T HAVE A BOOKING FOR US. A supervisor finally came over, and after many other failed attempts, finally swiped my passport through another laptop that accepted our booking. Cruise cards were quickly issued, but no apologies for the delay, inconvenience, OR the embarrassment they had caused! Having finally passed that hurdle, we were then subjected to a further 15 minutes of unshaded heat, whilst awaiting the non-appearance of a phantom wheelchair passenger to disembark the ship, through the single gangway that was in use, for the entire ship. Again the ship crew came and went as they pleased, but we passengers still had to queue, until one chap finally had enough and insisted we be allowed to get on ship. Once onboard, further chaos reigned, as we went through the security,'sync'-ing our mug shots on the cruise card. Hand baggage was xray scanned and left to drop off the conveyor at the other end, in a heap on the floor, as people were sent back to place more items on the baggage scanner. Hindsight is a wondrous thing, yet I really wish I'd had my video camera going at the time, as that chaotic scene would be showing on You Tube by now, otherwise. Where was the cool, calm, smiling face of P&O in welcome? Simply put, it wasn't there at all. Absolutely NOBODY at all, to offer a hand, a kindly word, help pick up the pile of hand baggage on the floor and give directions towards the cabins perhaps. Seemingly nobody was in overall charge either, who possibly might have attempted to manage or take control of that utterly demeaning situation. A total disgrace from beginning to end. The cases took a further 4 1/2 hours to arrive. We had seen some case left out on the quayside standing in a pool of water in the pouring rain. We were told they were not our cases. (So that was okay then,yes??) Unbelievable. The cabin stewardess didnt show up until after 7.00pm that night, who when challenged about it replied, didn't we want her to have a break?? Well, that reply received a suitable reposte, and also safely kept another £10 note in my possession Safety muster was yet another farce, set for 8.00pm, at first it was to be just us joiners, then once we were all near enough assembled in the Palladium, they decided it had to be a full ship muster, even though many people were still off the ship sightseeing in Singapore!! All FIRST impressions that we desperately hoped would never be needed to be given a SECOND chance, in a real emergency. P&O, what were you doing on that dreadful day?? That first day set the tone for the entire cruise unfortunately, we found many to be unwilling and unhelpful, and there was plenty more back chat of a similar ilk to that of the cabin stewardess, from others when they thought they might get away with it.(They didn't!) Reception staff always gave the impression that they had something much more important to be doing that actually having to deal with passengers. Many bar staff just didnt seem interested whether they served any drinks or not. Similarly the guys at The Piano Bar, were quite reluctant to take the afternoon orders for wine at dinner, even though a menu is sent up there each day for that purpose. In the end I ordered our choice through the cabin phone Wine Line. Even at the end of the trip, when I wanted to leave 2 leftover bottles from our wine packages, to friends who were joining the ship as we (thankfully) got off, those same two guys just couldn't be bothered and told me to speak to the wine steward that night. (We were dining ashore in Sydney,that night). Where were the smiles, where was the friendliness, and more importantly where was the management team, who should have been keeping an eye on things? In fairness our table stewards and our wine steward were all very pleasant. No problems with them at all. Likewise we thought Marion and Graham from the tours team were fantastic. I didn't actually get to speak to Graham personally, but he had a wonderful way of sharing his experiences, more a friendly chat than a tours lecture. Marion was a wonderfully warm lady, always ready with a smile and a kind word. Entertainment was quite the best we have ever experienced, and Gary Glading and the show team were excellent. Whilst I doubt that we shall ever set foot on another P&O ship again, we felt it was the entertainment that gave us some feeling that we were there to enjoy ourselves rather than there under sufferance. Representations were made to the management team, but we were unable to see the Exec purser himself, other than a cursory smile in department store in Melbourne. The ship itself appears to be in good order, apart from our ill fitting cabin curtains and the lower deck rails also seemed to be in need of some varnish. I like the new aft deck and the side wings that provide some welcome added shade areas. This was undoubtedly the worst cruise that we have ever experienced out of 10 cruises now. Not a lot by some standards, I agree, but enough to know the difference surely? In fact, it is the only cruise from our point of view, where the need to even consider whether such a category ever existed. P&O was not like this in 2005, so why is it now?? We won't be back! Read Less
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 3.6
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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