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Sail Date: June 2011
This was our first trip on Arcadia although we have travelled on several other P&O ships. We didn't get the 'wow' factor when boarding Arcadia and initially the ship felt a bit 'bland'. CABIN - ... Read More
This was our first trip on Arcadia although we have travelled on several other P&O ships. We didn't get the 'wow' factor when boarding Arcadia and initially the ship felt a bit 'bland'. CABIN - Our cabin was a good size. We had an excellent cabin steward who kept the cabin spotlessly clean. Everything worked and we didn't suffer any cabin noise. My husband and I do take ear plugs just to be on the safe side. I had breakfast in my cabin on sea days. The breakfast steward asked if I wanted breakfast in my cabin each day. I said no - just on sea days. My breakfast arrived on time every sea day with a cheerful smile and good morning from the steward. DINING - we had lunch in the buffet restaurant. Plenty of choice but a bit hectic at times. EVENING MEAL - we dined in the main restaurant in the evening - club dining - on a table for 8 people. Our waiters were efficient and chatty - nothing was too much trouble. One couple on our table were celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary. P&O made it a special day for them from breakfast time and then in the evening with a cake and champagne. Well done P & O and also the waiters. We did not use the 'specialist' restaurants. Our previous trip on the Oriana left us with the impression that standards in the restaurant had 'slipped'. The quality and quantity of food had, in our opinion, deteriorated. However, I am pleased to say that the food on board Arcadia was far superior and our faith has been restored!!! I am vetarian. P&O have a separate veggi menu if there is nothinn on the main menu that you fancy. I have found the choice and quality of veggie food to be excellent. My husband enjoys a steak and this is always available as an option. The theatre usually very crowded with standing room only sometimes. The entertainment was not very inspiring and we did not go in to the theatre every night. I did use the gym - the facilities were excellent and I was always able to get on a treadmill. The ship did grow on us. There was plenty to space and it didn't seem overcrowded. We will certainly sail on the Arcadia again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
P&O UK Arcadia Auckland to Sydney This ship is midway through her annual World Cruise A most enjoyable experience What we did not like Our cabin steward's housekeeping standard was a little dubious The main ... Read More
P&O UK Arcadia Auckland to Sydney This ship is midway through her annual World Cruise A most enjoyable experience What we did not like Our cabin steward's housekeeping standard was a little dubious The main dishes and sometimes deserts in the main restaurant were swimming in their respective gravy or sauces (serve it on the side!) The food service staff in both the main restaurant and Arcadian Rhodes ( the onboard pay 15 pounds for dinner specialty restaurant operated by Gary Rhodes )need work.They were ok but not polished The sofa in our cabin - unless you sat with a very stiff back it was very uncomfortable and needs two cushions Tipping is still the old fashioned "money in envelope and hand to your waiting staff" its messy and uncomfortable charging your onboard account is so much easier What we liked The ship itself The colour schemes on board, the feel onboard, very comfortable and elegant. Lots of browns and golds, lovely pieces of art and beautifully appointed public lounges Everywhere you sat you were near windows that connected you with the sea There is also a large very popular english pub Our cabin A very comfortable DD grade outside cabin with a huge balcony and nice bathroom with a tub The passengers Being a world cruise and a very British ship we were expecting a lot of elderly British passengers Although we were probably the youngest onboard there were many people around our age and everyone we spoke to was delightful Mainly middle class average Brits (and a lot of aussies as well) and a sprinkling of Americans There were a number of Aussies onboard who sailed from Sydney on Oriana 4 months ago then had two weeks in the UK for Christmas then have sailed all the way back onboard Arcadia The Aussies all preferred Oriana as the ships decor is more elegant in soft greens and there is a wonderful 4 story atrium Something missing on Arcadia is a wonderful atrium What we loved The onboard prices The bar and wine prices are simply amazing! Martinis and cocktails were all under 3 pounds We had a delicious french chablis with dinner that cost 32 pounds The average wine prices between 12 to 17 pounds a bottle and there is no 15% gratuity automatically added to the bar bill like most other cruise lines Recognition The ship was near full the wine waitress who served us in a full restaurant the first night and remembered our names the next day that was impressive The bar staff who likewise remembered our drinks and our names and who all seemed genuinely pleased to see us each evening A table for two for each meal nothing was a problem for the restaurant manager We would have no hesitation in recommending P&O UK Please note that P&O UK ships are vastly different and superior from P&O Australia There were a small few niggles which we have mentioned but overall the short cruise was a relaxing and restful way to cross the tasman and we would both feel very comfortable onboard Arcadia for a much longer sector Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
A short cruise Auckland to Sydney on " Arcadia " February 2011.We took this short cruise as a very pleasant way to get to Sydney instead of sitting in a metal tube and hanging around airports.Embarkation; at Auckland was ... Read More
A short cruise Auckland to Sydney on " Arcadia " February 2011.We took this short cruise as a very pleasant way to get to Sydney instead of sitting in a metal tube and hanging around airports.Embarkation; at Auckland was OK, but there were 3 cruise ships in port and we embarked via tin shed 10 on Queens Wharf. It was alright for the 150 getting on in Auckland but would have been stretched for too many more.On boarding we were "greeted" by the standard photographer and a girl who asked" do you know where you are going ? " Not exactly the best way to present your ship ! Accommodation; we had booked an Outside but had an upgrade to a DB Balcony; the cabin was really nice and was a decent size. Bathroom was also of a reasonable size although we felt the mini tub was unnecessary and would prefer a shower cubicle. The cabin had an excellent verandah, spacious and furnished with traditional cushioned steamer chairs, ideal for a long cruise. Nice little touches like electric jug and tea/coffee making facilities; air con.was easy and reliable to control. Cabin steward was excellent and nothing too much for him.Public rooms; a mixture of really nice and very ordinary; it didn't seem to have any " flow" with various spaces here and there. DEcor was low key but quite nice but we did think the lack of an atrium as the centre point of most ships was lacking and let down the overall impression. Lovely theatre but back up , The Globe, was miniscule and did nothing for us. So pleased they didn't appear to have the crappy "art auctions" that most other ships have, but a very pleasant art gallery with really original works on display. The ship could really do with a secondary theatre of a decent size for smaller shows .Dining; Main Meridian restaurant appeared quite pleasant on 2 levels and didn't seem to be as noisy as many we have struck. Food here was generally good and a decent choice.The Belvedere Buffet was disappointing; breakfast was your standard English breakfast offerings with little in the way of "extras" to tempt one; and why have the cereals and fruit at the stern end when 80% of passengers enter from the centre of the ship ! Lunch was very poor; a standard choice daily with no attempts at variance; and have you ever seen beverage dispensers with notices "Fruit Juices only available from 6 a.m to 12 noon ?? " It is a big area and plenty of seating, but service was almost non-existent with few attempts to clear and clean tables; could do with a brush up all round ; perhaps the largely British passengers preferred the dining room ?We also tried the alternative venues; Arcadian Rhodes was very nice and the food excellent; but service again almost non- existent, had to ask for wine list, and appalled when staff were clearing tables around us before we had finished, and locking away the liqueur trolley offerings in a cupboard as if to say "let's get out of here ". ( and it was only 9 p.m. ) The Orchid ( up top on deck 11 ) was a different matter; with an Asian influence, excellent staff and altogether an extremely pleasant evening, the 10 GBP cover charge being well worth it. Would go back there in a flash.Drinks policy ; we applaud P&O for what was a lesson to be learned by a lot of other cruise lines; prices everywhere., bars and restaurants were extremely reasonable and one could also purchase spirits to "take away" to your room at duty free prices and drink at your leisure ; so no need to "smuggle" bottles on board like some ships and a policy that should be seriously looked at by other operators; people will always buy ships stock if its properly priced , have a very pleasant experience, and not feel ripped off or under suspicion of having something in your bag you shouldn't have.Entertainment; in our short time on board we came to the conclusion that shows were very good; we had the funniest man on one night and again being interviewed the next afternoon, Tom O'Connor, who had everyone in stitches without a single smutty reference of swear word; well done. Production show on the last sea night was excellent; but the so-called Australian Cultural show on the in-port Sydney night was an embarrassment, and the company should know better. The cruise staff were so-so, seemed to be there because they had to be. We liked the idea of the big main pool up top with the opening roof ( that actually opened ! ) and the slightly smaller one outside on the after deck; and also very much liked the fact that all the outside decks were teak planked and not plastic covered. There was no space in the ship that would accommodate the numbers of people for trivia or bingo that are so popular on "Princess" ships, but once again its horses for courses and probably not the same type of crowd.A small note, full marks to P&O for the daily newsletter "Horizon" ;very professionally produced and knocks spots off the "Princesss Patter "Itinerary; we obviously did not experience the full offering but we did feel that the World Cruise itinerary was sparse to say the least in ports visited., would have wanted more ports to see on the way. It was a pity for the 850 round trippers on board that the weather in Auckland and the 2 days in Sydney was poor but one can't control that. That said, what a superb location the Passenger Terminal has at Circular QuayDisembarkation; we stayed on board overnight in Sydney and disembarked on Sunday morning; a lot of people wanted to get off on Saturday but were not allowed, presumably because it would have needed extra Customs and MAF attendance but did seem rather officious and unnecessary.Overall. A very pleasant experience, and as we said a great way to cross the Tasman; we would use the ship again given the right itinerary and the right price, but like everything in life there were pluses and minuses and all these come into account when making the final choice. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Had an absolutely fabulous world cruise on board Arcadia, we have no complaints at all. Every member of staff that we encountered was marvellous and went the extra mile. The speciality restaurants were amazing. Lots of public areas to sit ... Read More
Had an absolutely fabulous world cruise on board Arcadia, we have no complaints at all. Every member of staff that we encountered was marvellous and went the extra mile. The speciality restaurants were amazing. Lots of public areas to sit inside and out, also quiet spots to be found if you wanted to read or enjoy the peace and quiet.. Never had to ask our cabin steward for anything our cabin was always fully stocked with all our needs. This was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip but we will certainly be doing it again. Although we had 54 sea days we managed to find something to occupy us whether it was listening to the lectures, watching a movie, learning about our next port of call, walking on the promenade deck, spending time in the gym, or the more conventional cruise activities like eating and drinking.The food availability and choice was hard to beat, I don't know how they can cater for the needs of 2000 people over a couple of hours at lunch and dinnertime, I struggle with 6!! On the days we were in port, we had a good idea of what we wanted to do. The staff were very helpful with advice and their own experiences in various ports. This includes waiting staff as well as shore excursion staff. We have no complaints about the actual choice of ports. We thouroughly enjoyed our time both onboard the ship and ashore.We have never had so many complimentry champagne receptions as we did on this cruise, a great way to meet some lovely fellow passangers. We were kept informed of important information on the ship, via the ships tannoy or talks in the Palladium. Some of the acts in the theatre were not our cup of tea but they can not please all 2000 of us all the time, "The Headliners" were our favourites, what a lovely bunch of talented young people with loads of energy. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
We travelled by train from Durham to Southampton via London and stayed the night at Jurys Inn. After a tasty breakfast at Wetherspoons we took a taxi to the Ocean Terminal and arrived at about 11.45. A very civilised and quick ... Read More
We travelled by train from Durham to Southampton via London and stayed the night at Jurys Inn. After a tasty breakfast at Wetherspoons we took a taxi to the Ocean Terminal and arrived at about 11.45. A very civilised and quick boarding meant we were enjoyind a tasty curry in the Belvedere by 12.30pm. Our balcony cabin on C deck was ready at 2.30pm-our cabin steward ,Morris, inroduced himself and was happy to inform us that we had new mattresses and very comfortable they were too!He kept the cabin clean and tidy and well stocked with tea bags etc. All cabin drinks were speedily delivered and very reasonable priced. We had breakfast and lunch in the Belvedere-a good selection and always found a table. Dinner was in the Meridian-a quiet table for 3 with 2 charming and attentive waiters Moona and Jaison. The menu choice was excellent ,food always hot--the soup too hot and we were never rushed. We dined once at the Orchid restaurant-a superb meal in a beautiful restaurant-well worth £10 each. The entertainment was varied-we enjoyed the comedian Andy Wilkins-often chatted with him on deck and the Headliners were excellent. The retired Concorde captain gave several very interesting talks. Disappointed with the classical entertainment-2 very talented sister on the harp and oboe but a little too highbrow-really Apart from the weather for Italy and missed port we were lucky with the weather and the lovely ports of Barcelona,Monte Carlo,Alicante and Gibraltar. Most passengers dressed according to the dress code apart from a few men who wore polo shirts each night and one'gentleman' whose idea of Black & White night was a white football shirt,black tracksuit bottoms and white trainers. Overall,a very enjoyable cruise-the Arcadia is a very friendly,comfortable ship. We are looking forward to a 42 night world cruise sector in 2012. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Arrived at Southampton port, embarkation very well organised and efficient,when we arrived at our stateroom all our baggaged had been delivered much more efficient than our previous cruise with P+O on Artemis. Arcadia is a very ... Read More
Arrived at Southampton port, embarkation very well organised and efficient,when we arrived at our stateroom all our baggaged had been delivered much more efficient than our previous cruise with P+O on Artemis. Arcadia is a very impressive ship very well appointed and clean. Activities on board cover a good range if you want to get involved, with two pools, gym, cinema, theatre, deck games,line dancing, etc. Service in the Meridian restaurant was first class could not fault it in any way, the food was also very good. The Belvedere restaurant served a good variety of food during the day with a themed menu in the evening, this could get busy at peak times but we always managed to find a table. We did not visit the Arcadian Rhodes as there was a cover charge of £15 a head or the Orchid Restaurant where there was also a cover charge of £10 a head which we thought was expensive on top of the price we paid for the cruise. The port and shore excursions, Two of the ports we were scheduled for had to be changed due to an incident on board as a crew member was missing and we had to turn the ship round and retrace where we had sailed from as he was presumed lost overboard , he was eventually found on the ship but it was then too late to make Malaga and we ended up in Palermo Sicily, what a disappointment to say the least. Our last port of call was due to be Cadiz but due to bad weather forecast in the Bay of Biscay the Captain decided to miss out Cadiz and head for LaHavre to make the journey more comfortable for passengers by missing the worst of the weather, although we did have two days of rough seas. Unfortunately it was a bank holiday in LaHavre so no shops were open. Entertainment was very good. One seminar to avoid is 'Secrets to a flatter stomach'. You will be asked if you want to book a consultation after the talk, this will cost you £15.00 and he will measure your body fat mass etc.and advise on exercise. What is not mentioned in the seminar is that this is a ploy to sell a detoxifying Catalonian mud foot soak which will cost you £61 for a months supply. This is a very underhand method of selling. I came out of there feeling I had been misled into a selling situation. As the trips are quite expensive I research on the internet and find you can do most of them a lot cheaper. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
This was our first cruise on Arcadia but our tenth cruise altogether - our fifth on P&O. Our other main cruise line is Celebrity. We did cruise this specifically to get some experience of Arcadia; on this occasion the itinerary was ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Arcadia but our tenth cruise altogether - our fifth on P&O. Our other main cruise line is Celebrity. We did cruise this specifically to get some experience of Arcadia; on this occasion the itinerary was secondary. Quite a bit of this review compares facilities, etc, on Arcadia with the equivalent on Ventura. Embarkation: Very quick and easy, we were only waiting in the Ocean terminal for about 5 minutes, barely long enough to complete the health declaration. We were on the ship by 12:30 or so, I think. Cabin: We had a stern-facing balcony cabin, D187. Again, we'd specifically picked this cabin to try out a cabin facing aft. The cabin itself was fine: roomy and comfortable. I think we still prefer the Ventura cabin with the walk-in hanging area (even though that does reduce the rest of the cabin space a bit) but I'm not complaining about the Arcadia cabin. We were however a little disappointed in the balcony. It so happens that D deck stern cabin balconies are completely covered by the cabin & balcony above. The D Deck balconies are bigger than standard - longer - but this just made it seem a long, shadowy & gloomy place. Not a problem on a short English Channel in mid-September, however, because we used it very little. If I was to cruise on Arcadia again, I'd either pick a different deck and have a stern cabin or (more likely) pick a cabin on one of the sides. Internal Facilities: We really, really liked Arcadia's internal spaces. We felt that the bars (Spinnaker, Intermezzo and Piano) were better than the equivalent spaces on Ventura - they felt more welcoming and the decor was very restful. We also enjoyed The Rising Sun much than The Exchange - the latter is big barn of a space, whereas the Rising Sun is split into smaller areas, more like a real pub. We had a fun evening in there on the Saturday. We also really liked the Crows Nest, especially during the daytime. At night it wasn't so impressive - too big, perhaps - and we felt that the night-club acts performing there were struggling to create any atmosphere. Ventura's Metropolis works much better in the evening, I think (Although in the daytime Metropolis feels like a closed nightclub.). We also enjoyed just walking around Arcadia - we very much liked the decor, and we thought that the art work on display was stunning. Finally we spent a short while in The Globe late on Saturday night. Da joint wuz jumping, but sadly we were very tired by that time so we forbore from joining in. However, many people appeared to be enjoying themselves greatly. Deck spaces: obviously on a three night English Channel cruise in September, the open decks aren't going to get much use. We enjoyed the Promenade, however, and walked round it several times. It's wider than Ventura's and is all on one level, so score one to Arcadia here. We also visited the open area on the Lido deck around the Aquarius pool. This didn't work so well for us. It got very busy at times - this was where the entertainment team did their sailaway thing - and we also had some difficulty getting away from the smokers. We decided we prefer the Terrace on Ventura. But it wasn't a bad deck on Arcadia. The Neptune Pool stayed covered thoughout this cruise, so it felt a bit like an indoor swimming baths. Not its fault - in the Med it would be different, I'm sure. Eating & Restaurants: We were on a table for 8 on the upper level of the Meridian restaurant. We enjoyed the restaurant - we prefer larger multi-level restaurants to multiple smaller ones - and the food was fine. We ate all our dinners here. For breakfasts and lunches we ate in the Belvedere. We found this area confusing - it took us several visits to realise that different areas were serving different things. Also there didn't seem to be many seats. The first 15 minutes on board were especially chaotic. But the food was OK - I don't ask much for breakfasts and lunches. We had a coffee in Caffe Vivo. We thought this space was small, cramped, dingy, and generally horrible. It was the only place in the ship that we really didn't like. We greatly preferred Tazzine on Ventura. We didn't eat in either the Orchid or Arcadian Rhodes restaurants. Entertainment: we didn't visit the theatre. Ports of Call: Zeebrugge and Le Havre. For the first day we just went into BlankenBerge on the shuttle bus and wandered the town. Then at midday we found a bar where had a couple of drinks before finding a restaurant, and eventually staggering back to the ship. Other passengers said later that Bruges had been absolutely packed, so we were pleased with what we'd done. On the second day we stayed on board all day - we didn't set foot off it. We didn't fancy the long slog to Paris and back, nor the visits to Rouen or Honfleur. So in the morning we really explored the ship and took pictures, then after lunch we parked ourselves in the Crows Nest and spent the afternoon there, reading and relaxing. There was enough activity in the Crows Nest to make it feel occupied, but not so much that it felt busy. This was a wonderful relaxing time. Other: We were pleased to see that almost 100% observance of the dress code on the formal night. Conclusion: we enjoyed this cruise very much, and we'd be very happy to cruise on Arcadia again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
J011 - Arcadia - Baltics - August 2010 Travelled with friends from Preston to Southampton by Eavesway coach. Trouble-free, relaxed journey, arrived in Soton 2pm, in our cabins by 3pm, 7/8 of luggage arrived before safety briefing at 4pm. ... Read More
J011 - Arcadia - Baltics - August 2010 Travelled with friends from Preston to Southampton by Eavesway coach. Trouble-free, relaxed journey, arrived in Soton 2pm, in our cabins by 3pm, 7/8 of luggage arrived before safety briefing at 4pm. Arcadia was just the same as last year except that, this time, we knew our way around, which saves a lot of time! Cabins Very clean and tidy. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, P&O had passed on a request from us for mattress toppers to alleviate the potential discomfort of hard-ish mattresses. What we got were slabs of foam rubber maybe 20cm thick, which were not perfect but certainly a whole lot better than nothing. These were in place when we arrived. Our balconies were rather tired looking but on day 2 the painters arrived, painted all the white bits and varnished the rails - perfect timing! We had adjoining cabins and had the connecting balcony door left open to make a nice, large space. Maybe a slightly worrying start as the lady next door the other way was sitting on her balcony smoking whilst we were in Southampton and it was beginning to get a little unpleasant as the smoke drifted our way but once we got underway, we had no further problems. We were in C63 and 65, directly opposite the laundry room and whilst we were maybe a little apprehensive about this, they turned out to be an excellent choice of mid-priced cabins. There was no noise at all from the machines and whilst the only iron was in great demand most evenings just prior to dinner, we could easily avoid the busy times and it was very convenient for us to nip across the corridor on the odd occasion that something needed a quick press. We would hear people chatting when the queue stretched into the corridor but the laundry closed at 8pm and after that it was particularly quiet and peaceful. Food We were very pleasantly surprised. Having read of falling standards and smaller portions, we were prepared for something along those lines but in fact nothing could have been further from the truth. Dinner in the Meridian was consistently good with a wide range of 6 course menus, not a single repeat in two weeks and more than enough for all of us, and we all have healthy appetites. We were regularly asked if we wanted more and on the couple of occasions when we accepted the offer (more chips with the steak!) it was very promptly delivered. The waiters work hard and quickly but are pleasant and polite and we did not feel at all rushed. First sitting was usually comfortably finished by 8pm by all but the slowest or habitual late-arrivals. We had no difficulty at all in reserving tables at the alternative dining venues and regular announcements were made advising passengers of free tables in both restaurants. The Orchid made for a pleasant alternative with two different menus throughout the cruise and pleasant, cheerful service. Arcadian Rhodes was exceptional. High quality food, beautifully presented and experienced, friendly staff in spacious surroundings. An experience not to be missed and well worth the £15 per head supplement on the odd occasion. The Belvedere is what it is. It serves a purpose for a quick lunch but very few would choose to dine there in the evening. The food is little better than mediocre and finding a table at lunch-time is not always easy. Dress code was very well respected for the most part. No more than a handful of men opted not to wear DJs on formal nights and a similar number forgot their jacket on semi-formals, but that is their choice. There were a couple of shaven-headed 30-somethings who swaggered to the front of the Palladium on the first formal night in shorts and tee-shirts (and the men were not much better!). Maybe they assumed that formal wear referred only to the dining room but anyway they appeared to learn from the experience and did not repeat the exercise. Entertainment Varied from average to good. The Headliners team started a little hesitantly but got better and worked very hard. As a group they were fine but possibly lacked the individual talent of some of their predecessors. Vocalist Lynda Radford was OK, Bruce Morrison was maybe not everyone's cup of tea and comedian Les Bryan's dry humour was for the most part well received. The regular bands throughout the ships were generally good to listen to, in particular an "Eva Cassidy"- type soloist accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, whose names unfortunately escape me. The Entertainments Team, led by Cruise Director Sally Sagoe, worked very hard and one of them in particlar, JoB, is a larger than life character in every sense and good value on her own. Public spaces. The Crows Nest, piano bar, Globe bar and Intermezzo are all pleasant places to spend an hour or so but our favourite venue for pre-dinner cocktails was, without doubt, the Orchid Bar, especially if we were dining in the Orchid Restaurant. A small, peaceful haven with lovely views and unobtrusive service, long may it remain a well-kept secret! The Rising Sun is so much more pleasant now, without the smell of smoke. It was very rare for either of the pools to be too full to make swimming difficult, although Aquarius is too small for much more than a splash around. It is a very pleasant area, though, and close enough to the Belvedere to make it easy to pop in for a coffee or a snack. No problem at all with sunbeds. There are enough for everyone and it was easy enough to find a slot in our preferred space, which was usually deck 10 aft, above the Aquarius pool. Excursions. We did not take advantage of any P&O excursions, preferring to do our own thing, which was easy enough except, of course, in St Petersburg. We opted for a mixture of a walking, shuttle bus and HOHO bus. The stroll into Copenhagen took us half an hour or so, stopping off by a canal for an (expensive) coffee on the way to the Tivoli Gardens. These turned out to be more of an amusement park with a 100kr entry fee and a 200m queue which we decided not to join, preferring to potter round the city before taking a local bus back to Arcadia. We probably didn't get as much out of Copenhagen as we should have, mainly because of a lack of preparation. On disembarking in Stockholm a HOHO bus was waiting 50 yards away and we opted for the full tour at c£25. We "hopped off" at the Vasa museum to take a look at the ill-fated ship but, faced with a 30 min queue, hopped back on the next bus and completed the circle to the city centre. The highlight of Stockholm was in fact the sail away from it though the labyrinth of small islands, as the sun set. Beautiful! We took the short shuttle bus ride into Helsinki, walked up to the Church in the rock then back down through the market square to the waterfront. Another easy place to wander around whilst not being wildly exciting. As expected, St Petersburg was easily the highlight of the trip. We had arranged a private, two-day tour with TJ Travel and could not have wished for anything better. Just to dispel a few myths :- a) if you are arriving by cruise ship and staying in StP for less than 72 hours, you do not need a visa provided that you are escorted around the city by an approved tour guide, as we were. b) Even if you are not taking a P&O excursion, it does not take hours to disembark. With two trips due to leave Arcadia at 8am, we disembarked at 7.55 and walked straight through the terminal. c) The Russian immigration authorities are not determined to make your visit as difficult as possible. We presented our passports and the travel passes provided by TJ Travel and cleared immigration in two minutes. Not many smiles but quite efficient. d) If our experience is the norm, then tales of traffic chaos are grossly exaggerated. P&O endeavour to plan Baltic cruises so that you are in StP. over a weekend when traffic is light. We moved around with no delays whatsoever and the chances of failing to return to the ship on time were Nil. We were met by our guide Irina and driver Igor in a new, air-conditioned, 6-seater Mercedes people- carrier. Despite being 30 minutes early for our agreed meeting time, they were already waiting. A resident of StP, Irina has a degree in history, majoring in fine arts and speaks fluent English, as do all the guides employed by TJ. Over the two days, we toured the city in cool comfort, visiting all the major attractions in line with the itinerary we had agreed, and more. We stopped whenever and wherever we wanted, everything was described clearly and expertly by Irina as we went along, and she was more than happy to answer any questions we had. As a "small party", we walked straight past long queues, especially at the Hermitage, where her knowledge of the works of the old Masters really came into its own. When we saw other parties of thirty or more crowding round their guide trying to catch a few words over the noise, we were even more sure that we had made the right decision. We took a trip by hydrofoil to Peterhof, drove back via the Csars' Village and Catherine's Palace, visited Peter and Paul's Fortress and the Church on the Spilled Blood, sampled delicious stollen (pies) and vodka and chose some replica Faberge eggs from a lovely shop with delightful, English-speaking assistants and even learned a few words of Russian. Without hesitation, we would recommend TJ Travel for a party of four or more. They could not have been more helpful in planning an itinerary to suit our personal preferences and the cost of c£200 each for the two full days was very competitive. We took another HOHO bus from the cruise-ship berth into Tallin, got off at the top of the hill in the Old Town, wandered around the cobbled street and then down to the lower Town with its lovely square and historic buildings. A leisurely lunch at the "Klafira", a fascinating Russian restaurant on Vene, just off the town square, was delightful and Tallin slotted easily into number 2 on our list of destinations. It was an easy walk from the berth in Oslo to the Royal Palace and then onward to Frogner Park with its open-air display of hundreds of Vigeland sculptures, allegedly showing the seven ages of man (and woman), obviously before the advent of clothes! Back down through the City, past the Norwegian Parliament building, a bit of souvenir shopping and back on board in time for a quick swim before dinner. Perfect! Arcadia berthed almost in the centre of Kristiansand, a lovely, picturesque town in Southern Norway. Our visit coincided with the Norwegian leg of the beach volleyball World Tour, an event which only added to the charm of the city for at least half of the passengers! A pleasant little place which we covered comfortably in half a day, but a nice change from the bigger cities. The weather We could hardly have been luckier. If there was a complaint it was that St Petersburg was too hot, allegedly reaching 40 deg. on the Saturday. As we returned to the ship on Sunday, there was a slight smell of smoke in the air and reports that the fires, which had been burning for some time around Moscow, were spreading closer, after a month of weather some 15/20deg. hotter than normal. Maybe we just got away in time! Other than that, we had one morning of rain when we were at sea and the rest of the time it was perfect for sitting on deck in the warm sunshine, even on our final day as we cruised down the East coast of Britain! The verdict An excellent cruise where little could have been improved. None of the things which could have gone wrong did so, and we would have changed little except, maybe, some better planning for our DIY excursions. If you haven't tried it then please do so, and I hope you are as lucky as we were. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Having done our first cruise on the Ventura 2 years ago, we wanted to try out another P&O ship and went for the child free Arcadia on 23 May. Embarkation was very organised and speedy around 1pm. We soon found that most people had ... Read More
Having done our first cruise on the Ventura 2 years ago, we wanted to try out another P&O ship and went for the child free Arcadia on 23 May. Embarkation was very organised and speedy around 1pm. We soon found that most people had already made they way to the Belvedere restaurant for afternoon lunch! To be honest the Ship does not entirely have state of the art decoration, but was very clean. Upon arriving at our cabin our cases were in place and we met our cabin steward, Noel. Our balcony cabin was what we expected and very comfortable. Our bathroom had a small bath/shower. Wardrobe storage was fine and plenty of room under the beds for suitcase storage. Plenty of activities on board on days at sea and at shore times. Laptop classes, pilates, hair and beauty, dance classes etc. Some classes did incur a small charge. Evening entertainment, a little disappointed with theatre shows, as on Ventura we had full shows every evening. We couldnt criticise the staff in any way, everyone we dealt with was very friendly and efficient and super fast! Of our 4 ports in Norway, we booked 3 shore excursions. In Olden we had a coach trip which was well organised and informative. Alesund was a little disappointing as not a big town, we had a 2 walking tour which we could have done ourselves. Bergen, we had a short coach trip and which was very good and an informative guide. We had 8.30 dining every day and the food was brilliant every day. Our waiters were very friendly and would remember if there was something special you liked! Most passengers on this cruise were older but we didnt feel out of place at all. Everyone was very civilised and courteous all week which made a lovely change. Although some of the decoration on Arcadian is not very exciting to look at, would definitely go on Arcadia again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
We had a super cruise on Arcadia. Flew down to Southampton from Newcastle and stayed overnight at the Travelodge. Took 30 minutes longer than usual to get to the docks as Arcadia was at the QE2 Terminal instead of the new Ocean. A long ... Read More
We had a super cruise on Arcadia. Flew down to Southampton from Newcastle and stayed overnight at the Travelodge. Took 30 minutes longer than usual to get to the docks as Arcadia was at the QE2 Terminal instead of the new Ocean. A long check in queue but we were on board and enjoying a tasty curry within 20 minutes! Very happy with our cabin C178 and the lovely cabin steward Salvatore. The whole ship is tastefully decorated&comfortable. Ate breakfast and lunch in the Belvedere-never any queues,plenty of tables and helpful pleasant staff. Dinner in the Meridian was a nightly pleasure-food,stewards and table companions were excellent. Entertainment was varied-excellent classical pianist,comedian and wonderful shows from the Headliners. We visited the Casino every evening and were very lucky. We had some rough seas going and returning from Northern Spain but the ship handled the seas extremely well. The weather in Madeira,The Canaries and Cadiz was beautiful. Disembarkation was quick and stress free. We have never known 13 nights to pass so quickly! Happy Cruising Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Arcadia J910 Fjords & Iceland 16.07- 31.07.09 We left home on 15.07.09 at 10.00 & started the long journey down to Southampton, via M1, M69 , M40 & .eventually M27. We had intended to visit a NT house , but the ... Read More
Arcadia J910 Fjords & Iceland 16.07- 31.07.09 We left home on 15.07.09 at 10.00 & started the long journey down to Southampton, via M1, M69 , M40 & .eventually M27. We had intended to visit a NT house , but the weather did not encourage a lazy summer day in the countryside. This was a prediction of the cruise in general. We reached Southampton at approx 16.00 and booked into the Novotel, as recommended by Keith. It was a good choice, as City, QE2 & the new Ocean Terminal were accessible from there. It is also very close to the Railway station, but I would not like to do the walk with cruise luggage to the hotel! We rested with an adult beverage in the 'garden,' whiling away a few hours, until dinner time. We retired early for the night and I woke at 06.00 & watched both Artemis sailing up the river to her berth at the Mayflower dock and Arcadia manoeuvring into the dock beside the Ocean Terminal. We ate breakfast, which was included in the room price (£79) and then wandered around some shops,. We had to vacate the room at noon, so drove directly to the Ocean Terminal, where we lined up, waiting for our turn to off load our baggage.. This was dealt with efficiently and were in the Belvedere, eating our lunch by 1pm. It was interesting 'people watching.' One unfortunate soul, came up in a wheel chair, asked 2 people to move up at the table they were sitting at and then proceeded to get out of the wheel chair and proceed to walk to get his lunch! I am afraid that my sympathy for him was short lived. At 2pm we were allowed to proceed to our cabin, where most of our luggage was waiting. We had booked a cabin with a partial sea view, which was 'blocked' by safety equipment. Fortunately we were between life boats, so I had a decent view most mornings, for 'sail in.' By the time we had unpacked, it was time for 'Muster Stations.' I won't say Lifeboat drill, as we went to the dining room with our lifejackets, but did not go outside. We then had a tour of the gym, where Adrian won a 'G Form' treatment. This he took on the 1st Port day, at 5 pm on our return from Ypres. This entailed having electrodes put on his stomach- 1 hrs treatment was supposed to loose 2lb body fat. But at a cost of £50 per hr, it is a very expensive form of treatment. Adrian 'won 30 minutes', so should have lost 1lb, which he more than made up for on the cruise. I signed up for the Hydro Therapy Treatment- £10 per day, or £75 per cruise. However on the 1st day the offer was £55 for the cruise, which I thought was a good rate, so I used my on board allowance. I tried to get in every evening, when Adrian went to the gym. We went up on deck, where we watched 'Sail Away.' Artemis left first, I was surprised that there was no salute, as both ships are in the P&O fleet.  As we left, we had a good view of the Ocean Terminal, but it was cool on deck 10, where I had gone in the hope that Artemis might catch me on the web cam as she sailed away. We then got ready for dinner, where we met out table companions, Gordon & Claire from Kendal and Graham & Lynne from near Stonehenge. We were very grateful their company and fortunate that we got on so well together for the next 15 nights. We heard many complaints from other people that we ate breakfast & lunch with, but you cannot please everyone, all the time. . We were also fortunate with our waiters, Priyank & Suraj., who served at the speed of light. We never had to wait,& Suraj soon realised that Adrian was partial to ice cream with any sweet course and also would have cheese & biscuits as well. He had a great deal of humour and would ask' Anyone for Cheese & Biscuits,' looking directly at Adrian! No wonder he had to go to the gym every evening. Ports. Ypres- Fri 17.th July We had problems in Zebrugge, the coach was pulled over by Belgian Customs & Exercise. I am not sure what they were looking for, but the bus driver didn't have all the necessary documentation, so another coach was sent for! We wasted 3/4 hr in the process! We had the whole tour, but in reverse, so we were late back to the ship, which fortunately waited for us, as it was a ship's tour! Eventually, the weather improved, so we got some good pictures at Tyne Got cemetery, with the battle fields in the background. Even though Adrian's Granddad survived the war, he was gassed during the battle of Passendale. ( the fields where the battle took place can be seen in the background) He suffered for the rest of his life. We heard later that there had been problems with other morning tours when they returned to the ship, as the tide had changed and a gangway had to be moved. However the crane driver went off, as it was his dinner time, so more than 1,000 passengers were stranded on shore. Fortunately the Meridian restaurant remained open, even though it was past 1.45pm. One wonders if Belgium workers were on a 'Work to Rule,' or whether they are always like that. Not a good advertisement for Tourism! 1st Sea day We went to 3 port lectures, but decided that we would only take tours in Iceland, as the Norweigan Ports were accessible. We decided to book on the 'Jewels of the North' Tour in Akureyri. We left the theatre and went straight down to the Tours Desk, but were told that the Tour was 'wait listed' so booked on Nature & Flora. Fortunately we did manage to eventually get on our preferred tour. That evening was our first 'Formal Night,' held around the covered Neptune Pool. What a strange place to have the Commodore's reception party! I was spoken to by the Commadore, who asked me if I was Ok, to which I replied,'Well I would have been if I had had a Hair Drier(HD). I do not often use one, but as I had been to the Hydro therapy pool, my hair was wet. I looked for the HD and that & the kettle were missing. What a day to remove them for testing! In his speech, the commodore mentioned that if you find that you do not have a HD, then phone your room steward and they will provide you with one! Later one of the photographers annoyed me, as she pointed the camera at me as I was eating a roll! ( I did not buy that photo ,or any others on principle, they were so expensive) Later in the cruise the same photographer came to re-arrange us, just as we were being served dinner. Again I refused to move, but none of our table companions wanted a photo taken either, I was just the spokes person! Don't the photographers get training in Thinking Skills. It does not take too much intelligence to realize that passengers don't like eating cold food. I must be getting old to be grumbling! Stavanger Sun 19th July An early view of Stavanger from Cabin E126 Stavanger on a Sunday was lifeless until after mid-day. We walked around the town & I could not believe that a tourist place had nothing open, not even cafes. Fortunately, the Oil Museum eventually opened, so we were able to use their 'facilities.' We looked to have a cup of coffee, but could not find one listed on the menu, although Pills Larger was at a hefty equivalent of almost £9. This was the same cost as the entry to the museum. We eventually ambled back to the ship, where we had lunch ( having looked at a restaurant menu near to the ship & seen that soup was the equivalent to £12.00) Later walked through the old town ( as seen in the above image) This had plenty of character and so we sat on a bench in the warm sun for a short while. It was then back to the ship and to the Aquarius Pool deck, where we sat in comfort and promptly fell asleep. I must say that I favoured those comfortable chairs, but the settees were not built for people with short legs! Eidjord was wet, so we went on a trip on the Troll train. When we got off, the rain had stopped, so we went for a walk up river. It took 40 mins to walk to the place where the Kayaking was taking place & 25 mins on the return. I am sure the area is pretty when it is fine, Bergen Tue 21st July We took the free shuttle bus into Bergen and started walking towards the Bryggen district. On the way, we saw the Ulikren cable car shuttle bus, so we took it. The glass top gave good views, without getting cold.  We had a shot of Arcadia, moored at the commercial port, through the mist, which kept swirling to & fro. On the return journey, the bus did a tour of the Harbour district, so we had an idea where to go, but there was no commentary. We later went to the Bryggen district & saw Discovery, Prinsendam & Astori and another cruise ship also in Bergen. The Fish market was colourful & interesting, but I was surprised that it was outside- I expected to be an indoor market. Alusend Wed 22nd July It was a much sunnier day in Alusend. Alusend was the start of the Shetland Bus during WW2. We walked around for a few hours taking photos, but returned to the ship for lunch. We then went back to look at the WW2 memorial near the Tourist Information centre, where we eventually spent some Kroner. I bought a mug & Adrian bought a hat& tie - the last of the big spenders. We then had a fire boat had a fire boat send off from Norway,  2nd Sea Day Today's Port lectures were for Reykjavik, Iceland & Dublin, Ireland. We immediately went to the Tours desk & booked the Golden Circle Tour. At the same time I had asked if we were on the 'Jewels of the North' tour in Akureyri, which included the Godafoss waterfall. Amazingly, they had just had a cancellation, so I was at the right place at the right time- unusual for us! We also had put our clocks back 1 hr, taking us back to BSTso had an extra hour in bed, which I was grateful for. I do find 4 port days in a row, rather tiring. We had sailed above the Artic circle overnight, but the seas were reasonably calm. I woke early in the morning, with the sun high in the sky, so thought it was about 10.00- it was actually 05.00. We heard later that the sun had actually setovernight, the 1st time for 2 months. Iceland -Akureyri. Fri 24th July 12 buses in all set off on the trip Jewels of the North which included the 'Godafoss Falls,'  A crater( filled with supposedly non biting mosquitoes, but they bit me) Lava formations The quide has one foot on the American Plate & one on the European plate in this Rift Valley.  and the mud pools.  The trip was excellent, but was rushed as we were leaving at 2pm. We returned 15 minutes after scheduled sailing time, but 2 other coaches were after us. We just made lunch in the dining room- there was no way we were going to the 'Belvedere' after the manic queuing that we had to put up with that morning. They were totally unprepared for the influx of passengers. You would have thought that with 3/4 of the ship's passengers going on trips ,that they would have adjusted the time of breakfast in the dining room! Sail away at 2 pm was superb as there was a fresh snow fall the previous day & the sun on the snow was stunning. We again had a dusk & dawn night, at no time was it dark! Sat 25th July Reykjavik, Iceland Again , I woke early, as the sun was so high in the sky. We had decided to order room service for breakfast, which arrived promptly. It was another early start, but this trip wasn't so rushed. Our German guide was well informed and again we went into Rift Valleys, which reminded me of Canada( it must have been the Loon which I heard)  We then went to the Gysir reagion, where we saw more mud, instead of the Earth's crust, Blue Pools and Gysers of various heights. Unfortunately, while we were eating a lunch of Soup, Salmon and Salad, the clouds came and the sun went in. Gullafoss Falls were still stunning. We returned, via a Hydro Eletric plant which is not yet complete, but utilizes the Thermal Springs and we also had a sketchy tour of Reykjavik, where we were taken to the 'Pearl.' There were excellent views of the town from the top. Sail away was again stunning, as the air was so clear. My only regret was that I didn't see the Blue Lagoon, but as I was unwilling to shower with nothing on, before entering the water, we decided not to take that tour option. Sea Days 3&4 We were warned that the weather would become 'bumpy' once we were in open seas, but I believe the 3rd Officers comment from the bridge at noon on Monday was unnecessary. He was trying to inform us of the depth of sea below us, but when he continued his analogy by informing us that Arcadia would only take 5 minutes to reach the bottom, many passengers thought that he had overstepped the mark. I was told my another officer that he had been reprimanded! We went to Digital Living lectures and the ship's company 'laid out informative demonstrations. It was also our final Formal night, as we were in port for the 2 following evenings. The Commadore had told us at the 1st Formal night, that in 40 years at sea, he had never been to Ireland, so maybe we stayed in port for him. Dublin Tue 28th July We spent an interesting morning finding a bank. We had omitted to take sufficient Sterling for our tips, so had asked to change N.Kroner on the ship. Adrian was unhappy with the exchange rate, so we decided to take a chance in Dublin. We were happy with the rate we were given, even though we had to change into € first then £. We then passed the statue of Molly Malone ( or the Tart with the Cart amongst other names for her) We then jumped on the Hop on Hop off bus & were lucky with the driver that we had, as he was doing his own commentary. His opinion of the government cannot be repeated. We stayed on as far as the Jameson Whiskey Distillery, where we took the Tour. Adrian was a taster! We then had a wonderful lunch of Irish Beef & Yorkshire pudding! We jumped back on the HoHo bus, as far as O'Connell street, where we tried to walk back to the place where the shuttle bus had dropped us off. It started to rain, so we jumped back on the bus again. We had thought of going round Trinity College , so that we could see the Book of Kells, but when we saw the queues, we decided that we would have to pay another visit to Dublin in the future. On our return to the ship, we saw that Boudicca was also in port. Cobh Wed 29th July The Sail in was during the morning, so we went up to the Aquarius pool deck to watch, where a sail in party was taking place! I am sure the people of Cobh were regretting our arrival! As Adrian & I had been to Cork before, we decided to explore Cobh. We climbed up to the church and took in the views. It started to rain ( whats new?), so we sheltered in anArt Gallery, but the prices were beyond our means. I took a few photos and interestingly we saw a photo of the church taken from a Titanic Tender, without the Spire on the church, as this wasn't added until 1916. I must admit that the most impressive part of Cobh was the sail in. Sea Day 5 After a poor start, the weather brightened up & we had our one & only sun bathing afternoon. Our intention was to read, but sleep soon took over. I now know why I have been so tired on this cruise, as I never totally relaxed. As soon as the sun came out I fell asleep. We had 3 hrs of sun, as we sailed up the coast of Cornwall & Devon. I do wonder where everyone would have sat outside, as in my opinion, there were insufficient sun loungers & certainly those around the Neptune Pool were too low for me. [IMG]http://i30.tinypic.com/2hgy5xx.jpg[/IMG] Southampton Fri 31st July Disembarkation was quick. Our car had been moved by CPS to the car park at the QE2 terminal and we were on the road before 9am. Southampton was full of ships, Ventura was at the Ocean Terminal, Celebrity Equinox at the City? Terminal and Crown Princess at the Mayflower Terminal. Arcadia Experience We tended to favour the Meridian restaurant for all our meals. We did go to the Belvedere (self service) occasionally, but found that the service was ultra slow—10 minutes queuing for a bowl of porridge is unacceptable. Adrian experienced the same for cooked breakfast. Why the dining room was not opened earlier when at least 12 coaches were departing on trips at 8am is beyond me. We also sometimes went to the Belvedere for a cup of tea late afternoon and found that small spoons could not be found. Arcadia Rhodes My only experience was on the Galley Tour, as we entered through Arcadia Rhodes. It looked good, & I am told that there were separate kitchens and food stores. But for £15p.p extra cover charge, we declined, as we were happy with the service in the Meridian. Digital Living I signed up for the Internet, which I found painfully slow, but eventually I was credited with an additional 55 minutes. We spent quite a few hours in various rooms; The Sea Room, The Bay & The Ocean Room, listening to free Technology Seminars & Computer Work Shops., given by Karen Wyness. From 1st August, she will be using the Bay Room as her base, as she suffered so many interruptions in the Sea room, where the Lap Tops for passenger use were also situated. It was a no win situation, passengers who had paid for lectures were being disturbed, and those who had paid for Internet access could not use the Lap Tops if she was lecturing. At one time we were in a seminar in the Ocean Room, when passengers were coming in & helping themselves to chairs for use in the cinema ( which I am told was too small) She stopped that, as she said that passengers should not be moving furniture ( Health & Safety) A little later, a woman passenger came & stood in the room, & when asked what she wanted, she said 'Bridge- are these people paying for this?' Bridge started 15minutes later. Entertainment This was excellent. The Headliners Theatre Company had been formed and had 6 weeks rehearsal in London, before embarking on the Ship in mid May. We watched them every night and they put on 8 excellent performances, even dancing through a Force 9 Gale. We also had a variety of artists: Week 1 Suzanne Gayle- vocalist- 2 shows Kyle Esplin- billed as piano/ vocalist, but his piano skills were incredible- 2 shows Week 2 Allan Stewart, I split my side laughing at his traditional British Humour, but some of the older passengers objected to being ridiculed. Bruce Morrison- Singer They both performed twice in the evenings, but Bruce joined forces with Sally Sagoe for a 'heartwarming sketch about Queen Victoria. He also performed on the last afternoon, but we fell asleep on deck, so missed him. Quest Speakers Brian Hanrahan - BBC's diplomatic editor Jeanette Kupermanr- ex Fleet Street Jorurnalist & Anthropologist Sally Sagoe was the Cruise director. My only comment would be that she needs to revise her programme of jokes. She was cruise director when we were on Artemis in Oct 2006, and she is still using the same jokes- which fell flat! However she did an excellent job devising both day & evening entertainment; keeping 2,000+ passengers happy with the weather that we experienced is no mean feat! Over all the cruise was a good experience, we could have asked for the weather to be kinder, but as my photos show, it improved as we travelled further North. I would certainly sail from Southampton again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
As this was our Wedding Cruise we were really excited when we arrived at Southampton early at 11am. We waited to board the ship and were guided to "Priority Boarding" as I had my wedding dress and bouquet in separate bags which ... Read More
As this was our Wedding Cruise we were really excited when we arrived at Southampton early at 11am. We waited to board the ship and were guided to "Priority Boarding" as I had my wedding dress and bouquet in separate bags which was brilliant. We were in our cabin by 12.30 pm and immediately went to lunch whilst waiting for our suitcases. As we had been on Arcadia for Christmas 2006 we were really looking forward to another brilliant cruise which unfortunately didn't turn out to be the case. Although being senior citizens ourselves we were quite shocked to see that a lot of the guests were a lot older than ourselves and seemed to go to bed very early. The rush for the first sitting at dinner, made our second sitting in the Meridian restaurant very quiet with a lot of tables with spare places or completely empty. We were looked after brilliantly by our wedding coordinator and P&O and nothing was too much trouble. We were really treated like VIP's with lots of little extras in our cabin on arrival, i.e. flower arrangement and bottle of champagne. Later a basket of fruit arrived also which was replenished every few days. We were also treated by the Executive Chef when a small Christmas Cake,Stollen cake and shortbread biscuits were delivered also. Each evening we received canapes whilst we were getting ready for dinner in the evening. Our Christmas Day wedding day dawned and I went to the spa for hair, nails and make up to be applied. Our wedding at 5pm was brilliant with Captain Ian Walters taking the small service. Our guests really enjoyed themselves and we went into the Orchid Bar for canapes after the many photos taken by the ship's photographer all around the ship. We arrived fashionably late for Christmas Day evening dinner and a round of applause was given to us as we went down the stairs to our table on the ground level, with balloons decorating the table. All in all a lovely day! The rest of the cruise was OK but we were disappointed that the ship seemed to be very quiet after leaving the restaurant in the evening, most of the bars seemed deserted. The shows were brilliant and the Headliners Group really worked their socks off to entertain everybody. Another sore point was the fact that the new top deck wasn't completed after the refit and all the cruise we were not allowed to go on it as the decking was still being completed and sanded down, which caused shavings etc. dropping onto the Acquarius deck furniture leaving it covered in dust! Also the carpets outside the Spinnaker Bar were completely soaking wet and had a dehumidifier constantly on plus the men's toilet outside the Globe Bar was permanently closed due to a breakdown and the smell that came from that area got progressively worse throughout the cruise. At the end of this cruise I felt a little disappointed and have decided to go on another P&O ship Aurora to celebrate our 1st Wedding Anniversary Christmas cruise as hopefully it will be a little more upbeat and lively as there will be children on board!!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Although this might not have the razzmatazz of some of the American ships I still had a fantastic time, yes I missed the shops of the Royal Promenade & the shows could be at times hit and miss but the food was just equisite every ... Read More
Although this might not have the razzmatazz of some of the American ships I still had a fantastic time, yes I missed the shops of the Royal Promenade & the shows could be at times hit and miss but the food was just equisite every night. Our waiter even remembered that I didn't like parmesan on my caesar salad and so always arranged this without asking. The gary rhodes restaurant is WELL worth a visit as is the Fusion restaurant, for me the fusion restaurant was by far my favourite although my favourite tipple was in the Gary Rhodes - a cocktail made up of a shot of sloe gin topped up with champagne. Gorgeous. We spent every night in the nightclub as we were there as part of a large group. The pool area was lovely to relax around and I had a very relaxing massage in the spa that was worth every penny - I practicularly floated out. BIG TIP - If you want to have your hair done for Captains Cocktail then book as soon as you board. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
We are in our late 50s - not uncritical (we were very critical of our Ventura cruise earlier in the year) - but we're not "professional moaners" either - sorry, but we all know they are out there, waiting to ruin a good ... Read More
We are in our late 50s - not uncritical (we were very critical of our Ventura cruise earlier in the year) - but we're not "professional moaners" either - sorry, but we all know they are out there, waiting to ruin a good lunch. We've been on about 12 cruises - four different lines, and on P & O we'd tried Aurora,Arcadia and Ventura. For others like us out there, here's a positive review for the Arcadia for a Med. cruise October 2008 This was a "good standard" cruise on a "good standard" ship and excellent value for money. Food was possibly the best of any cruise, both in the main restaurant and the buffet. Only possible regret was that gala nights did not have anything particularly outstanding. Rhodes specialist restaurant had been more than excellent two years ago and was more than excellent again - it was the highlight of the cruise for us and we ate there 7 out of 14 nights - well worth the extra £15. Note that there are special offers (£10) on the first two nights and also two gourmet nights. (Yum yum as my wife would say) Staff everywhere were excellent. Attentive and friendly, without being servile (thank heavens!) We've sailed with this Captain (Ian Walters) before and like him and the feeling on his ships - friendly - you see the officers and staff around the ship. We weren't really aboard for the excursions, but had pleasant ones to Etna and Gibraltar. Note that if you don't fancy Rome, Civitavecchia is OK for a wander round - decent main street and market. Even at Palau we found a worthwhile ceramics shop about 15 mins up the main street on the left. All ports had free coaches where needed. We're not show people, but found the shows perfectly acceptable and some other reasonable entertainers. Speakers could maybe have been a bit more entertaining - but I'm OK with a book from the library. My wife liked the spa - as usual a bit expensive - but a cruise pass to the big hydropool, steam rooms etc. at £60 for 14 days was reasonable for a bit of luxury. She only swims in warm water and the covered pool was fine most days. We love our cruises but are sensible about what we can expect for the price. Excellent product P & O Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
THE START Although we only live a couple of hours from Southampton, we decided to travel down the day before to make sure we didn't have any worries about being stuck in traffic en-route. The journey was horrible as it rained ... Read More
THE START Although we only live a couple of hours from Southampton, we decided to travel down the day before to make sure we didn't have any worries about being stuck in traffic en-route. The journey was horrible as it rained constantly all the way to Southampton. We stayed in our usual haunt, the Holiday Inn, just beside the docks and on getting to our room were greeted with the surreal sight of the Independence of the Seas almost immediately outside the window. Even though we were on the 7th floor, we seemed to be staring straight across at the IOTS Bridge! We watched both IOTS and Oceana sailing away at 5.30 in the wind & rain. There certainly were only a few hardy souls out on deck. That night we ate out at Banana Wharf in Southampton's Ocean Village marina. Despite getting soaked walking 100 yards from the taxi to the restaurant, we had a great meal there. It is buzzy, informal and serves good, reliable food. If it had been summer on 9th August(!) we would have enjoyed eating out on the terrace, overlooking the marina. After a swim in the hotel pool and a leisurely good quality breakfast the next morning, we checked out of the hotel about 1130 and drove the half mile or so to the Mayflower Terminal, dropped off the car with CPS and joined the queue to check-in to Arcadia. The desks opened just after 1200 and we snaked around the hall for about 25 minutes, which wasn't too bad. We had a suit carrier each and a small carry-on bag so immediately after boarding, we sneaked down to our cabin, saw our stewardess and just dropped the bags off before going straight back up to the Belvedere for lunch. After a leisurely spell there, watching others arriving at the terminal, we went down to Arcadian Rhodes to book a table, had a walk around the ship to reacquaint ourselves and then went back to the cabin to start unpacking. There was a stiff wind at sailaway but at least it was dry and bright so we were all out on the deck. We passed Oriana at the QE2 berth and headed out to sea. We then continued with the unpacking and nipped along to the sole ironing board on C deck to press the evening's shirts! THE SHIP For anyone reading this who is not familiar with Arcadia, she is a medium to large (by today's standards) ship built in 2005. She sails child-free and therefore all her facilities are for 'grown-ups'. She is very contemporary in style and her dEcor mixes many neutral tones with splashes of strong color. Some feel this makes her bland but I feel this is far from the case. She has one main two story restaurant plus alternative dining in a casual food-court and two speciality restaurants for a supplement. She has two good-sized swimming pools - one with a 'skydome' roof for inclement climes, five hot-tubs and a large spa with hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite. A huge art collection is seen throughout the public areas of the ship, which are quite open-plan, making them great for people-watching. Arcadia was due to have her first significant re-fit earlier this year and although she is generally in a good state, there were some areas that showed signs of needing the refit - for instance, the internal surfaces of the pools, some areas of carpeting (seemed to be stained rather than worn) and some of the fabrics of the soft furnishings. This ship has around 2000 passengers on her almost every day of the year so it is hardly surprising that after 3 years she deserves a spruce-up. The refit is now due at the end of 2008. We had a standard inside cabin, which was a good size with plenty of storage. I would however not choose one of these again for two reasons; the space in front of the wardrobes was very limited and lighting in a couple of places was very poor. When next on Arcadia, I would choose either a large inside or an outside. Beds were firm but comfortable with plenty of room underneath for storing suitcases - even our deep hard-sided ones. FOOD I had seen other reviews prior to our cruise that were quite critical about the food quality. As far as I was concerned, I had wasted my time worrying because for my taste, the food was some of the best in recent years whilst sailing with P&O. I particularly liked the way the menus included both traditional and contemporary/adventurous dishes on most nights. This meant that there was usually something for all tastes. A good example of this was Roast Gressingham Goose with Fondant Potato and also Seared Tuna with Pink Grapefruit Hollandaise & Coriander Cous Cous and on the dessert front, Chocolate & Caramel Mousse cake and also Roasted Fresh Peppered Pineapple. I thought the quality of meat & fish throughout the cruise was high. We were also pleasantly surprised at the quality of the buffet food in the Belvedere, which 2 years ago we thought was quite poor. We also ate once in Arcadian Rhodes and found the quality there still to be exceptionally high although, unusually, the service was a little hit & miss for us with others who arrived later than us 'catching up' with us by the end of the meal. ENTERTAINMENT The in-house theatre troupe, 'Headliners Theatre Company' was very good. They were all excellent dancers and several displayed competent but not exceptional solo voices. As a group and chorus, they worked very well. They put on around 7 production shows, many of which were new and very enjoyable. One or two did not really seem to quite come off though. House Bands were Dezso (good pianist but never spoke & had no personality), Kelly & Stuart (vocalist & instrumentalist), The Karoly Gaspar Jnr Trio (good Jazz/Cocktail music) and Powerhouse (versatile band with female vocalist). We enjoyed all of these and also the Arcadia Orchestra who provided the show music. Also on board were the Tritones and a classical duo, neither of which we got to see/hear. Cabaret was provided by Lisa Martin (Vocalist) & Dick Van Winkle (multi-instrumentalist), who did not seem to be particularly well thought of; the Opera Stars (who got good reviews) and Paul Hughes, a young swing singer who was fine when singing swing but when he tried to diversify died quickly, with a number of people leaving the Theatre. The 'star guests' were Peter Goodwright and Maurice Grumbleweed. Neither of these appealed to me remotely but those that did see them seemed to enjoy their shows. Guest Speakers were former footballer, Ian St John and Personal Financial Planner, Richard Allen, whose talks got more & more popular during the cruise. Cruise Director Sally Sagoe was very visible throughout the Cruise and packed every day (especially sea days) with an enormous selection of activities. The Entertainment Officers were also a very good Team, enthusiastically trying to make sure all had a great time. PORTS Malaga: Lovely, very Spanish small city. Lots to see with excursions out of the city available if desired. Weather was great. We had some personal business to attend to here but most passengers seemed to enjoy whatever they did. Zakinthos: We enjoyed the 'Island Highlights' tour we did here, which provided a very substantial Mezze - enough for lunch! We also had a walk around the Capital City which was pleasant enough but not very authentic. Very hot & humid here. Dubrovnik: We anchored off the old city and tendered straight in to the main tourist area. Also did a 'highlights' tour here. A quick drive out to a lovely viewpoint was followed by an informative walk around this lovely old city. Following that, we had a further wander around on our own before taking lunch in one of the side-streets off to the left of the main street (as you walk away from the harbor). It was called 'Longo' and is recommended! Venice: As stunning as ever but incredibly busy! We met a friend for drinks on the terrace of the Bauer Hotel, overlooking the lagoon, had a wander around and then had lunch at a small restaurant he recommended. Another little wander and then we got back on the transfer boat to the ship. The Lovely sail-in and sail-out encased a great day here. Korcula: A really lovely surprise. Arcadia was anchored off between Korcula Island and the Croatian Mainland so the views on all sides of the ship were really great. We tendered in to the foot of the tiny walled town and then had a good walk around the sights using the in-cabin guide. We were the only cruise ship in so it was not too crowded. After souvenir buying, we had a leisurely - and lovely - ice-cold beer in a cafe overlooking the water and then we grabbed a delicious local ice cream on the way back to the tender point. After a spot of late lunch on-board we sat and watched the huge variety of water-sports happening from a beach on the mainland, including an expert kite-surfer who kept 'buzzing' the side of the ship. Bari: Another day and another surprise. I had read that Bari was not worth getting off the ship for - thank goodness we did. We walked from the ship into the old town (around 10 minutes) and it was a real delight. A lovely cathedral, an impressive basilica and lots of really authentic, narrow little lanes filled with high buildings complete with elderly women dressed all in black and the washing hanging off the balconies. It is not big but definitely worth a visit in my books. It was just a shame that our day here had been cut to 4 hours because of the propulsion problem. Palma: Our last Port and a very enjoyable one too. Did the magnificent Cathedral, the San Francisco Basilica, wandered around the old town streets and then had a small beer and Tapa each at the foot of the main Avenida leading to the port area. Got the shuttle bus back to the berth in time to see Ventura slip her moorings. Just the sight of her reinforced my feelings that she is a 'ship too far' for my taste. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS Having seen a few critical posts about Arcadia of late, I was a little uneasy about returning after a great cruise on her in 2006. I was worrying needlessly. Yes, there is still the evidence of change/small cut-backs (no flags to wave at sail-away, no garlands for Tropical night etc) but overall, the standard of the cruise was very high. Food was really good, service great in the restaurant but only okay in the bars/lounges (ie very few waiters seemed to use your name when serving drinks or remembered what you drank) although no-one was surly or showed any poor attitude. The photographers were quite zealous in trying to make folks have pics taken but accepted gracefully if you firmly rebuffed their offers! The 'reception' staff were their usual bland selves. Never rude but never really appearing to want to be entirely helpful (but this always seems to be the same on most ships). We had a very enjoyable CC Meet on the first morning at sea when we were joined by the Cruise Director. The Commodore sent his (written) apologies as he had only just returned to the ship after leave. The problem with the Azipod propulsion unit meant we had shorter stays in some ports - particularly Malaga and Bari, which was a great shame. Our main cause for concern was in the Spa. We paid £50 each for 'unlimited access' for the entire cruise. For the first week, only 1 of the 3 thermal rooms was operational and although they were supposed to be 'aromatic' they certainly were not. Also, towels never seemed to make it into the gents lockers and all towels were in a very poor state with threadbare patches or holes and lots of loose threads around the edges (in the sort of state you might keep to dry a dog with!). The gents locker-room was also very untidy every evening we visited. We mentioned this to the staff on duty all the time but things only changed when we had the opportunity of raising it with James Cusick, Exec Purser. He got on to the case right away and new towels appeared - in the lockers and everywhere else around the Spa - and the one working steam room also acquired its aromatic status. The atmosphere on-board was very friendly and relaxed, with passengers spanning a wide age-range from 20s to 70+. I would say the biggest majority were in their 50s - far from a floating nursing home that some accuse Arcadia of being! We had great table companions in the Meridian Lower tier and met lots of really lovely people to pass the time of day with. We had about 4 or 5 days of not ideal weather (cloud and/or strong winds) but this was at least considerably better than at home. Would I book Arcadia again???? Now - where is that P&O brochure? You bet I would. THE ENDING We had breakfast in the Meridian having arrived back in Southampton and didn't feel in the least rushed. Afterwards, we retreated to the Piano Bar area to await our disembarkation being called, sauntered off the ship, found the cases etc very easily and collected the car from the car park. We left Southampton about 1015 and arrived home in Brighton about 1.30, having stopped off at the supermarket to stock up! We then looked at all the unpacking, washing, ironing etc and the Post Cruise Blues descended post-haste. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
chris (56) and I (52) have just returned from a fabulous 7 night trip on arcadia. contrary to some reviews that we've read, we found it to be nothing like an OAP outing. yes, there were a lot of elderly people on board, but ... Read More
chris (56) and I (52) have just returned from a fabulous 7 night trip on arcadia. contrary to some reviews that we've read, we found it to be nothing like an OAP outing. yes, there were a lot of elderly people on board, but what's wrong with that? virtually all the guests were polite and well behaved, we did not witness any drunkenness or rowdiness that is sometimes associated with a younger crowd. and the joy of not having children running riot around the ship was wonderful! arcadia is a beautiful ship, every area we visited was very clean and comfortable (apart from the uncomfortable loungers around the neptune pool ), with very pleasing decor. our obstructed view cabin was larger than we expected,about the same size as our concierge class balcony cabin on celebrity constellation.there seemed to be plenty of space in all areas despite this trip being fully booked. as with most ships the buffet (belvedere) could get crowded at peak times, but we always got a seat. the main dining experience (meridian) was really good. we were fortunate in that we were seated with 2 very nice couples on our table for 6. our waiters, cajie, mankeesh and bosco were great, as was the food. we didn't feel the need to use the 'supplementary charge restaurants'. room service menu was a bit limited, and much of it incurred an extra charge. entertainment was ok, it would have been nice to have a pre dinner show a couple of nights (we were on 8.30 dinner sitting, so our show didn't start till about 11pm most nights). PORTS. Bergen-docked about 10 minutes walk from centre. easy to explore on our own (thanks to a bit of earlier research). old part very interesting. funicular (£7 return, £3.50 single) up mountain, fabulous views and lots of walking trails to follow, we walked back down to the centre (less than an hours walk).weather mainly dry and warm. expensive! Geiranger-took a tender ashore after lunch (rain am, but sunny pm). did ships excursion to mount dalsnibna, good value at £38 each. cruised back out of the fiord for several hours during the evening, we ate our (delicious) meal in the belvedere that evening at a window table to enjoy the sights. expensive! Alesund-docked here at 23.00 until 18.00 next day.poured with rain all morning but afternoon fine. walked into town (5 minutes) then to park to climb 418 steps to view point-worth it! expensive! Stavanger-pleasantly surprised by this place. sunny all day. docked right in the centre-fascinating and pretty old wooden houses, nice park with brilliant photo exhibition (spirit of the wild by steve bloom, on until 28 sept). expensive! we will definitely consider travelling on arcadia in the future Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2008
Please enter your review. P&O North Cape & Norwegian Fjords J814 - Arcadia - 21 July 2008 (13 nights) This review gives my personal view only. I realize that all aspects are purely subjective and that others may have a very ... Read More
Please enter your review. P&O North Cape & Norwegian Fjords J814 - Arcadia - 21 July 2008 (13 nights) This review gives my personal view only. I realize that all aspects are purely subjective and that others may have a very different opinion of things. I appreciate hard work and know that I am not perfect so I don't expect things to be perfect. I do, however, expect value for money and people to make an effort. Background: This cruise turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Our original choice cruise had been cancelled because of operational difficulties so, with only 7 weeks to go, our TA found us a good deal on Arcadia to Norway. My DH and I have cruised 19 times before (Princess, NCL, RCI, Carnival, Star Cruises and Louis) but never on P&O. We were looking for somewhere different because, hopefully without seeming too boastful, we have done most of the Med, Baltic, Caribbean, Alaska etc, so decided to take the plunge. I am in my very late 50s (OK - so I'm 60 this October but sssssh...) and my DH is very early 60s. We consider ourselves to be active and inquisitive. We love to meet people, have new experiences and see different things so this cruise fulfilled all our criteria. We are from the Midlands in the UK so it was a pleasant change to sail from Southampton - no weight restrictions! The ship: General Arcadia is a modern, 80,000 ton ship with all the usual amenities. It is also an 'all adult' ship so the age range was generally older than we are used to. I would estimate the average age of the passengers to have been around 65 which made the atmosphere relatively sedate and quiet. It was also 'very British' as there were only a handful of passengers from other countries. The decor is muted with lots of wood and plenty of interesting art work. There were 4 formal nights (held on the sea days), 6 semi-formal nights and 3 smart casual nights. The majority of the passengers adhered to the dress code. Cabin (E187): We had been offered a 'balcony guarantee' when we booked so were absolutely thrilled to be allocated an aft cabin on deck E. We love aft cabins and this one did not disappoint although it was slightly smaller than the other aft cabins due to its position next to a suite whose doorway has been designed to open very close to ours. There was adequate storage, a small bath with shower, a large comfortable bed (the pillows were a bit too hard and lumpy for my liking), a sofa with coffee table, a small dressing table, fridge and flat screen TV. I did like the choice of films, BBC and Sky news plus the UK drama and comedy shows - not that we watched much. The balcony was spacious with 2 comfortably padded wooden sun chairs and a small table. Luckily, the weather for the majority of the 13 days was pleasantly warm so we were able to use the balcony quite a lot. Sitting out there with a drink as we sailed through the fjords or late at night with the sun still shining was magical! It was lovely to be greeted with a beautiful red rose in a bud vase and to have the tea/coffee making facility along with the packets of biscuits. The collection of toiletries (lip salve, body lotion, eye cream etc) together with decently large towels was also a bonus. Our cabin steward, Emily, was a delight and she kept everything spotless. The cabin compared favorably with those of the other cruise lines Food: This is a very, very subjective area. We found the food to be abundant, of a reasonable quality and very British. I, personally, prefer to have a more eclectic choice but it was good to have a plentiful variety of vegetables which we always find lacking on the American ships. The buffet was usually busy and it was sometimes difficult to find seats (this is the case with every ship on which we have travelled) but people were happy to share tables. I enjoyed the British bacon and sausages. The salads were good and, generally, the quality of the hot food was fine. At lunch time I loved the hot puds with custard - it was a bit like school dinners at their best! We were on second sitting (8:30ish) and this was my one major gripe - I really don't like 'traditional dining'. Quite often the dining room did not open on time so the queues built up. We were on a table for 6 and our companions were delightful which helped to make the evening meal a pleasure but I much prefer open seating so I can choose the time I want to eat (I know I could have gone to the buffet but like to be waited on in the evening). The food was plentiful but we have had better quality on other lines. The service was always very attentive. We did not try the speciality restaurants but people we talked to had enjoyed the food at both venues - Arcadian Rhodes and the Orchid room. Amenities: I loved the main pool area as it had a retractable roof which meant that the facility could be used all the time although I have to say that the lounging chairs were the most uncomfortable that I have ever come across on a cruise ship. There were many different bars and lounge areas which all seemed to be well used. We love to dance so spent most of our time, when not eating or at the show. in the Globe which had a reasonable size dance floor. The amount of ballroom and sequence dancing opportunities was a major bonus to us but we missed a lot because the main dancing times were scheduled while we were eating dinner and then watching the show. P&O really need to look at the timing of their shows. The majority of other lines have an early show so people can watch that before dinner. On Arcadia the first show was while we, on second sitting, were eating and the second show started at 10.45p.m.! This gave us about 20 minutes after the end of the show before all the other entertainment finished. There were plenty of organized activities for the 4 sea days but we only did the dance classes which we especially enjoyed. Freda and Michael taught some basic and more complex moves for the tango, jive, rumba, cha cha cha and a bit of salsa. There was line dancing too. I thought the shows were all very good except for the male guest singer who had no charisma and, as the poor attendance at his second show proved, a very unpopular choice of songs. The resident company did a splendid job with their singing and dancing being full of energy and enthusiasm. The cruise Embarkation: We travelled down from the Midlands on the Sunday and then stayed overnight in Reading. My DH expected the M3 to be busy so we set off at 9.00a.m. anticipating delays but we sailed(!) through so we arrived early (11.15a.m.) at the Mayflower Terminal in Southampton. Our car and luggage were both whisked away with great efficiency and we joined the very short queue which grew extremely quickly after our arrival. Boarding started at 11.45 and we were on the ship within 15 minutes. We had been told that cabins would not be available until 1.30 but DH decided to go straight to the cabin to see if he could leave his suit bag there and, to our delight, the cabin was ready. Emily introduced herself and was happy for us to leave everything in there before we went off to explore and have lunch in the buffet. All our pieces of luggage arrived by 4.00p.m. Ports: We decided not to do many organized trips because we were not sure what the weather would be like. In retrospect, I wish we had done at least one into the mountains around the fjords but we still saw a lot although I think we missed out on the information about the areas. Bergen: It was cool and overcast when we woke up but, as this was our first sight of Norway, we were immediately struck by the grandeur of the hills and the way the town with its strongly colorful wooden buildings nestled among the hills. There were 7 cruise ships in that day so everywhere was very crowded. Arcadia was docked about ½mile from the town center and, following advice gained from the cruise forums, we headed, on foot, straight for the funicular which is situated very close to the market area. We had to join a long queue and stood in line for 30 minutes. The return ride was 70kroner (£7)pp but worth it for the views of the city and fjord. I'm glad we went straight there as the queue was almost twice as long when we arrived back at base. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the harbor area where there was a lively and vibrant market with some unusual stalls - whale products and fur products were in evidence everywhere. It was there that we began to realize just how expensive everything in Norway is!!!! I love to go in local supermarkets and try to bring back home a typical delicacy - jam, packet cake mix, sauce, sweets or a cooking utensil - but I could not bring myself to buy anything. Everything was at least twice the price of a similar item in the UK. Even a single post card cost nearly £1. We quickly learned to eat and drink on the ship and to limit our spending to entrance fees and bare essentials. Bergen has a delightfully quaint area (a world heritage site) just behind the very deep colored wooden shops by the harbor side. We wandered around there taking photos for a long time before returning to the ship. It was lovely having our first experience of sailing down a fjord and, to make it even better, the sun came out and stayed out for most of the rest of the cruise. Tips • Do the funicular ride as early as possible to avoid the worst of the queues. • Public toilets are expensive - between 5kr and 10kr (50p &£1) so have change available. • There are free toilets in the building at the center of the fish market area. Flam: We thought Bergen was attractive but Flam was a revelation. We were so lucky that the weather was warm with clear blue skies as it accentuated the magnificence of the lush green hills and the sparkling patches of snow high up on the mountainside. The water of the fjord glistened bright blue and everything was so quiet and still. We had set the alarm for 6.30a.m. knowing that we had a long sail up the Sognefjord to get to Flam and wishing to see some of the fjord. I'm so glad that we did as the scenery in the early morning sunshine was just too beautiful to describe. It was lovely eating breakfast and seeing the mountains and tiny villages slide by. We docked in the little village of Flam at 8.00a.m. and decided to disembark as soon as possible. This was an excellent decision as it enabled us to catch the first train of the day on the famous train for the 50 minute ride up to Myrdal which left at 8.35a.m. The station is about ¼mile from the dock and there was only a short queue to purchase tickets (310Kr-£31- pp return). The train ride was spectacular with amazing views of the mountains, waterfalls, rivers and villages. The train makes a 5 minute stop at a huge waterfall and most people got off to take photos. There is not much at Myrdal except for the station and its cafe. My DH and I decided to walk down the path opposite the station and, again, were happy with this decision as it took us alongside a mountain stream to a beautiful waterfall. I felt a bit sorry for the couple who were camping there as their peace was suddenly shattered by us and a few others who had chosen to walk the path. We caught the 10.50a.m. train back to Flam and were amazed (horrified) by the huge queues waiting for the train. There were several coach loads of people arriving all the time. The village of Flam is a couple of miles from the dock area so we decided just to wander around the dock/station area with its restaurants, souvenir shops and supermarket. There is a pretty park area and a shingle beach where families were picnicking and sunbathing. My DH saw a crew member swimming and asked if the water was cold. The man replied "somewhere between freezing and ice cold!!" so we decided to give paddling a miss that time! Arcadia sailed at 5.30p.m. and we were able to enjoy the return trip down the fjord while having a drink on our balcony .....bliss! Tips • Get the 8.35a.m. train to avoid the queues. • Sit on the right side of the carriage facing forward for the best views. Olden: This holiday was beginning to settle into a pattern by now as we realized that we would miss so much if we stayed in bed late so, once again, the alarm was set early so that we could have a morning coffee and watch the magnificent scenery pass by as we cruised up the Nordfjord to Olden. Nordfjord was just as impressive as Sognefjord but in a slightly more gently rolling way. The weather again was superb and the early morning sun accentuated the brilliant greens and blues of grass and water. Olden is also situated a long way down the fjord and, like Flam, has a dock area and then a small town about 1mile away. My DH had booked a fjord fishing excursion for the morning so he had breakfast and went off to do his thing. I took the opportunity to wander the ship and take photos and then to have a quiet read on the balcony surrounded by the crystal clear air and wonderful scenery. DH had a good time but only caught 3 fish so he was a little disappointed. In the afternoon we strolled from the ship into the little town. The walk took us past some lovely houses with colorful and well kept gardens before we reached the village center. There were a few shops selling clothing, souvenirs and food but prices were so high that it was easy to resist buying. There is a lovely white painted wooden church that is open to visitors and after a look round there we walked slowly back along the waterside to the ship. There was an abundance of wild flowers in bloom and a lot of different sorts of birds. We sat on a bench and soaked up the sights and sounds, reveling in the peace and quiet. Tips • There is a trolley train that runs from the ships side and does a 1 hour round trip of the area. • There are free public toilets in the building next to the supermarket in the village center. Trondheim: The weather continued to be kind to us and we, again, were up early to see the approach to Trondheim. This was a less spectacular sail but still pretty in its own way. The ship docked in the industrial area of the city and there was a regular shuttle bus service into the town center which we caught. The bus dropped us off very close to the cathedral so we walked to that. It is a very impressive building and reminiscent of Many English cathedrals. From there it was a few minutes' walk to the 'old' bridge which we crossed into the old town area. The buildings here are pastel colored wooden houses with pretty flower displays. We wandered this district for a little while before heading into the modern town center. This was a pleasant enough place but very much like any other town so, after an extortionately priced cup of coffee, we returned to the ship. Tips • Shuttle bus was 50kr (£5)pp return. • You could walk into the city but it was a long way and the route was not particularly attractive. • There is a 100kr (£10) entrance fee pp to the cathedral. • Toilets are free in the shopping mall. Sea day: This was when we crossed the Arctic Circle although we would never have guessed from the fabulously hot weather we were having. The great thing here was that we could see the Norwegian coastline as we travelled north and it was an amazing succession of high jagged cliffs. Unfortunately the calm and still conditions were perfect to create the fog blanket that descended in mid-afternoon and followed us for the next couple of days. This meant that we did not see the 'midnight sun' but we did get the 24 hours of daylight. It was a surreal feeling to be sitting on the balcony at 1.00a.m. in full, although misty, daylight! Honningsvaag and North Cape: It was heaven not to have to set the alarm so early as we were not due to reach Honningsvaag until 12.30p.m. After a late breakfast and a bit of line dancing my DH and I went our separate ways to join our different tours. We were tendered into the little town of Honningsvaag as Arcadia is too big to tie up to the dock side. There is a permanent population of around 400 in the immediate area and I'm not surprised. It is very wild and beautiful in a stark sort of way but, in winter, they have 74 days of almost total darkness. DH was going bird watching and he was full of praise for the whole trip when he returned. The guide had been excellent and the group had seen many different birds - sea eagles, puffins, cormorants etc plus a minky whale, seals and sea lions. I did the North Cape trip. This cost £46 which included the £20 entrance fee to the North Cape national park. The coach trip took about 50 minutes along very windy roads with some spectacular views across bleak moorland. There were herds of reindeer grazing on the patches of lush grass and wild flowers. The North Cape tourist center is large and has some interesting exhibits including the 180 degree wide screen film show. It was such a shame that the mist was still hanging around and was thick enough to make it difficult to appreciate the height of the 900ft cliffs. We were free to return when we wanted so I spent about an hour there and 15 minutes looking round the town of Honningsvaag before getting the tender back to the ship. Unfortunately the mist persisted so we were unable to see the North Cape cliffs as we cruised past them at midnight. Tips • It would be difficult to do anything independently in this area. • There is a free toilet on the ground floor at the museum in Honningsvaag. • Have warm clothes. Tromso: The mist cleared as we travelled south to Tromso and the warm weather returned, much to our delight. We also resumed our early morning alarm call and were not disappointed as we sailed up another pretty fjord. Arcadia docked at the industrial port which is a good way out of the town center. We were able to see the large bridge and the modern 'Arctic Cathedral' from the upper deck of the ship. We caught the port run shuttle bus which dropped us off in the shopping district. This was about 3 miles from the ship. We walked down to the water front and realized that it was too far to walk across the bridge to the cathedral so we concentrated on the commercial center. This comprises of a few shopping streets, some pretty wooden houses and there was also a small market where we found some affordable small gifts. After a couple of hours of slow meandering we felt that we had seen all that was walkable in Tromso so we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship and finished the day with a game of scrabble and a bit of sunbathing. Tips • Shuttle bus was 55kr (£5.50)pp return. • The market had the cheapest gifts of all the places we visited. • Free toilets in the small shopping mall. Alesund: After yet another early morning sitting drinking coffee on the balcony and watching the approach down the fjord to the next destination we were pleased to find that we were docked right in the center of Alesund. The weather had changed and was cool and damp. This was a shame because Alesund was perhaps the most attractive of all the 'cities' we visited. Once again we wandered the streets and found some beautiful waterfront buildings. My DH then decided to climb the 400+ steps to the top of the mountain where there is a viewing platform. I gave this one a miss and spent a bit of time window shopping before returning to the ship. The weather improved in the afternoon and the sun came out as we set sail. Apparently this had been the first visit of a P&O ship to this port so we were escorted out into the fjord by a fire department boat with the hoses spraying fountains of water. Tips • There is a trolley train which takes you up the mountain to the view point for 150Kr (£15)pp Stavanger We had lovely weather again as we neared Stavanger. I have to say that I was not particularly looking forward to this port but it turned out to be my favorite of the larger ports. Arcadia docked right in the center of the town and the market was only a 200 yards from the gangplank. We walked to the market square and then, just to the left is the church with some beautiful and interesting artifacts. A short stroll down the narrow shopping streets lined with attractive floral displays took us to the ferry terminal and a most unusual children's playground constructed from all kinds of industrial materials. We carried on walking and eventually came to small hill in the center of the town with an old 'lookout tower' on it. There were very good views of the ship from there. Our stroll took us back to the church square and then into the pretty little park area with the lake and fountain. From there we continued to walk back towards the ship but followed the quayside on the opposite side of the harbor until we came to the Old Town area. This was truly beautiful in the warm sunshine. The old town comprises of several narrow, cobbled streets lined with quaint, white painted, wooden houses which were set off by colorful displays of flowers in window boxes, hanging baskets and the small gardens. My DH and I spent some time sitting at various vantage points so that we could soak up the atmosphere of this, our last port in Norway, before heading back to the ship. There was a 'Great British Sail Away' party on the aft pool deck as we slid out of Stavanger and down the last fjord. This seemed a fitting end to our Norwegian adventure. Tips • This is the perfect place to get off the ship in the morning, return for lunch and then get off again in the afternoon. • Spend all your remaining Norwegian Kroner coins as banks at home will not change them. Sea Day Our last day was spent packing and enjoying the facilities aboard for the last time. We were able to put out our first bags for collection by 4.00p.m. and any others needed to be out by midnight. Disembarkation: We were issued with brown cards which gave us a disembarkation time of 10.10a.m. This was the last time so, as we had to vacate our cabin by 8.ooa.m., we had a leisurely breakfast and then found a quiet spot in the Orchid Bar to read while we waited for our call. The call came at 10 o'clock and we were off the ship and in the terminal by 10.05a.m. We found our luggage quickly but then the wait began. There were very long queues to go through customs and then a chaotic scene as people tried to get to the taxi rank or get their car keys. We finally pulled out of the car park at 11.00a.m. which I suppose, if you consider U.S. immigration and airport waits, was acceptable. Tips • Take fewer pieces of luggage and do the self disembarkation. We have done this on other cruise lines and been away in 20 minutes. Conclusion: This was a wonderful cruise and I would highly recommend both the ship and the itinerary. P&O will not be my first choice of cruise line for many reasons: we prefer an 'anytime' dining option and less formality. We also prefer a more cosmopolitan mix of passengers and a younger profile. Having said all that though, we would not hesitate to go with P&O again if the price and itinerary were right. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
We were a bit concerned that we had done the right thing for our 30th wedding anniversary by booking a P & O cruise to the western Med for 14 nights June 2008. We found the queue to embark at Southampton long and it was a tiring 3/4 of ... Read More
We were a bit concerned that we had done the right thing for our 30th wedding anniversary by booking a P & O cruise to the western Med for 14 nights June 2008. We found the queue to embark at Southampton long and it was a tiring 3/4 of an hour wait, but it was very well organized and after registering our credit card and going through the security checks, were on board soon enough, and shown to the Belvedere dining lounge for lunch. Our cabin was then ready and we went down to E deck and found our luggage had been delivered very efficiently. I must say it was more enjoyable than flying and far less tiring at the end of the day. We did not have far to travel to the docks so that most certainly helped in our case. We found the Arcadia a lovely ship, very large, and it most certainly took us several days to get accustomed to it all and where to find places on the ship. Our ports of call were Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Santa Margherita, Rome, Alicante and Gibraltar. We booked 6 shore excursions and found most of them very good value and good fun. We went to Elche when at Alicante and although it is not mentioned in the itinerary of the trip, we were finally taken to a shoe factory for a film show.. all very fast, so not much time to browse at the shoes!! Rome was very warm, and we just did a one stop tour of it. Dining on the Arcadia is very good, we found the standard of catering en masse surprisingly hot. Breakfasts can be either waiter served in the Meridian, or buffet style in the Belvedere.This is the same arrangement for lunches or dinner. Even though you are allocated a dinner table in the Meridian you can choose to dine in the Belvedere buffet, or pre book the Arcadian Rhodes or Orchid Restaurant at extra cost which we did on our anniversary, and the wine and extra charges came to £55 extra. We found all service on the Arcadia very good, the staff are of course trained to a high level in the restaurants and we found the Arcadian Rhodes restaurant even more efficient and polite! It certainly is above what we expected..and having read a lot of reviews before we went I was really quite concerned that we were "doing the right thing" but after a day or so we both agreed we had never expected it to be so lovely as we were experiencing. Entertainment in the Palladium was truly excellent and I suppose I was expecting a cirque act as according to many reviews that it all that was mentioned, but in our case we had a wonderful group of extremely talented young singer/dancers for the whole two weeks along with Carlos Santana of Paper Lace fame who entertained us one evening and a comedienne magician on another night. Anyone that dances should have a wonderful time to the big band sounds in the Crow's Nest or disco. We found our cabin very comfortable, two single beds, but these can be put together if you so wish and a small balcony. We found our cabin adequate in size for the time you spend there, as there is alot going on all over the boat throughout the day and for anyone that enjoys art auctions,or jewelry shows, beauty shows, ice sculpting, internet lessons, and much more beside the deck games, golf etc. We took our own laptop but was unable to connect to the internet, we waited for an assistant for half an hour then gave up. If you use their computers, they are expensive, and at the start of the cruise it was £8.50 for only 15 mins. I had an Indian/Balinese head massage in the therapy room, followed by a wash and blow dry £55. I must say I did not like the oils used for the "massage" if you can call it that, as it was for me very sore indeed, and I was very pleased when it was over, which was not long thank goodness. The hair "do" was very quickly done, as it was a "formal night" and I guess they were very busy in there... however I was back combed and sprayed, which I haven't had in years !!! Maybe they are only used to much older clients !!!!!!! I am 55. Anyway it gave my hubby a laugh when he saw my Cilla Black hair do as he called it. I went again a few days later just for a wash a blow dry and had a young man who was more switched on and it looked really nice when he had finished. My advice on that one is to be very strict about what you would like done and refuse to be bullied into anything else. Regarding the massage thing, make sure you know what they intend as if you have any tender bits it can really hurt for a few days afterwards as it did in my case. We found the disembarkation a bit long winded, but when you consider how many people have to get off, it has to be done by Decks and as we were on E deck our time for going was 9.25 am. Others of course were before starting at 7 am. You have to vacate your cabin by 8 am. (Big suit cases are collected the night before so you have to have your clothes to dine the last night in which is a smart casual night and to go home in) We just about made it 7 am taking our hand luggage down to breakfast, had breakfast, then waited to be called to disembark, which was done very quickly and we had a taxi waiting so we were relieved not to be stopped in the customs hall on the way out. We will be cruising again soon!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
I am just coming to the end of my first ever cruise and wanted to write a review to give others who may just be considering trying it for the first time, a taste of what they will have to come if they take the plunge! My husband and I ... Read More
I am just coming to the end of my first ever cruise and wanted to write a review to give others who may just be considering trying it for the first time, a taste of what they will have to come if they take the plunge! My husband and I wanted to try cruising as the glamour really appealed to us and I don't like to fly so this seemed like a good choice. We usually can only take one holiday a year as don't have too much annual leave, so with some trepidation we booked with P&O on Arcadia - as the thought of no kids running around really appealed to us. It was no effort at all getting to Southampton and as soon as we arrived our bags were whisked away and were waiting for us in our room when we got on board 30 minutes or so later. As a newby this was astounding to us, as we're used to having to lug the bags around with us and take hours, if not most of a day, to get to your destination. The first evening we were nervous about going to our table, we had opted for a table for 8 on the later sitting at 8.30. I'm not going to say that we will be lifelong friends with everyone at our table but two I can honestly say we will stay in touch with. It was so refreshing to be with sociable, likeminded people of our own age (early 40's). When you go to a hotel you just don't have the opportunity to meet people and we have always kept to ourselves, but I will definitely miss this element of the holiday next time I'm in a hotel on land. We will definitely opt for a big table on our next cruise and fingers crossed we are so fortunate the next time around. Some of the entertainment on board the Arcadia wasn't always to our taste but we just enjoyed having a lovely dinner each night then having a few drinks, sometimes we did the quiz and sometimes we just sat on our balcony enjoying some time together. There are few places that I've been to around the world that are as romantic as a private balcony with the water below washing by. It was also great as this was a Baltic cruise so it didn't get dark until 11pm in the evenings. We tried all the restaurants on board and absolutely loved the Arcadian Rhodes one, especially as Gary Rhodes was on board for the last few days and this made it even more special. He cam by our table at the end of dinner and that was fantastic - an opportunity that we will probably never have again. The Orchid was also nice and the buffet was really convenient for breakfast and lunch, with a good selection of food. Seating could sometimes be a bit of a problem but certainly nothing to get worked up about. We always found a table within a couple of minutes. Our cabin was spacious and had some lovely finishing touches like the spa products in the bathroom. Our steward was amazingly helpful and it really seemed like nothing was too much trouble. There were a lot of ports and we did a couple of organized excursions and the rest of the time just mooched around the town. The weather was fantastic so it was always nice to get back on board again in the afternoon to soak up some rays with a cocktail by the pool. We were by no means the youngest on board but because there are no children the average age of passengers did seem to be towards the mid to late 50's. This was fine and everyone we met and chatted to was very similar minded to us and were just enjoying themselves. I am so glad that we decided to try cruising and I will definitely be going again. Next time I think I would try a ship with children on board as think this would mean a few more people our own age. I would be tempted to try another line as we don't tend to stick with the first thing we try, but I don't fancy the American lines as think they'll be too glitzy for us. I cannot fault P&O from my experience, the service was fantastic and the communication I received before and during this cruise has been second to none. Easily as good as any hotel I've ever stayed in. It just took a bit of getting used to being waited on hand and foot - it's like being in a 5* hotel but we got a great discount so easily the best value for money I've experienced. I hope this review helps any potential cruisers make their decision. Do it - you will love it!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2007
INTRODUCTION This was the ninth cruise for my partner and myself, but the first on both P&O and Arcadia, so we looked forward to the experience with some trepidation. I can say, though, from the outset, we need not have worried. We ... Read More
INTRODUCTION This was the ninth cruise for my partner and myself, but the first on both P&O and Arcadia, so we looked forward to the experience with some trepidation. I can say, though, from the outset, we need not have worried. We chose this ship and line for the itinerary: Southampton - Stavanger - Flåm - Olden - Trondheim - Honningsvåg (North Cape) - Tromsø - Andalsnes - Bergen - Southampton, and for the time of year - my partner is a teacher. So were most of the other passengers, it seemed. Of every couple we met, at least one was a teacher or retired teacher. EMBARKATION During the days before our departure date, the weather in England was very wet with severe flooding in many places. We decided to leave early (at 8.30am for a 2pm check-in) but had a completely uninterrupted journey to Southampton, arriving at 11am. What threw us a little bit was that the ship was scheduled to leave from the Mayflower Terminal, but was in fact berthed at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal. Our luggage was taken away immediately and I was able to leave the car with Cruise & Passenger Services, but the check-in did not open until midday. The hour's wait was not wasted though, and we enjoyed watching fellow passengers arrive. When check-in eventually opened, we were among the first to get our boarding cards and were ushered up the escalator to the departure lounge. Much to our surprise, we were directed straight on to the ship and were thus on board at 12.15. Shortly afterwards, there was a public announcement that cabins would not be ready until 2pm and we should go to the Belvedere Restaurant (self-service) for lunch. Being among the first on board, there were no queues and after a very satisfactory seafood salad, we had time to explore the ship before finding our cabin. CABIN Our cabin was D126, a balcony cabin on Deck 5 (or D Deck or Dominica Deck) and it connected with the next door cabin. This was initially a concern, but the next cabin was either unoccupied, the occupants were very quiet, or the insulation between the two was very good, because we heard not a peep. The cabin was very comfortable, twin beds made up as one, sofa with table and dressing table with coffee/tea making facilities, television and fridge containing two complimentary bottles of water. The bathroom was satisfactory, with both bath and shower. The shower was excellent with a good water flow, and more importantly, consistent temperature. I have found n other ships that the shower temperature often fluctuates between stone cold and scalding hot, depending on time of day and use of showers elsewhere. A minor criticism was that the amount of storage was not generous and the wardrobes were a bit shallow, so there was always a sleeve or hem sticking out from the doors, and I had to re-fold all my shirts because they were too long to fit on the shelves. Having said all that, though, there was just enough storage for two people for two changes of clothes per day. The balcony, I noticed, was slightly shallower than the balconies on the deck above, but still accommodated two teak deck chairs and a small, teak table. The top of one of the lifeboats was just below the floor level of the balcony and this precluded any views of the dockside immediately below. As all the balconies are recessed behind the line of the lifeboats, I don't know if any higher cabin would have the view either. One disappointment was the lack of bathrobes (I believe they are available in higher grade cabins). They would have been very useful for going on to the balcony in the early mornings to view the scenery. Additionally, no shampoo or conditioner was provided in the bathroom, but the bottle of Moulton & Brown shower gel seemed to work fine. DINING AND FOOD We requested a table for second sitting dinner and were allocated Table 52 for six on the lower level of the Meridian Restaurant; not a window table, but close enough to get good views during dinner. We played musical chairs throughout the cruise, so that everyone could enjoy the views. Food in the Meridian was generally very British and very good, although I had a rack of lamb that was very tough and game grill that was very dry. There was a tendency, though, to add a lot of different flavors to any given dish, for example: breast of chicken Maryland served with bacon, banana, corn pancake with a mustard jus. Service was good and unobtrusive, and although the dishes were already plated, vegetable came silver service, so one could have as much or as little as one wanted. For someone who is a small eater, this is a blessing, not being faced with leaving a plate half eaten. Our sommelier, perhaps, was a little overenthusiastic. Having selected the same wine for the first couple of nights, he had the same wine ready and open every following night! To get something different, we had to tell him the night before. Not a great criticism though - on one cruise, the wine didn't appear until the desserts were served!! Service and food and breakfast and lunch were also good, although we don't like the open seating arrangements and being shepherded on to large tables of strangers. Having said that, though, we generally had good conversations and met a couple from Scarborough who had watched Queen Mary 2 sail through Scarborough Bay in 2004 (at the request of Jimmy Saville) whilst we were on QM2 watching Scarborough pass by, and Jimmy Saville himself, who was on a boat alongside. We also ate in the Belvedere Court, mostly breakfasts and the occasional lunch, and found what was on offer satisfactory. What I hate about all of these self-service restaurants, though, are the people who think it is acceptable to push into a queue at a counter because they want something half way down, or start at the other end and force their way against the flow. There are two speciality restaurants on board Arcadia; Arcadian Rhodes and the Orchid Restaurant. We tried Arcadian Rhodes first and unfortunately, we were rather disappointed. We didn't think the room was particularly special, not sufficiently different from other areas of the ship and we were given an isolated table at the back adjacent to the waiters' station and the entrance to the galley when there were several window tables vacant. We didn't really enjoy the food and the service was quite slow, even though the restaurant was quite empty. However, the other two couples at our table also ate there and thought it excellent, so perhaps it's just our taste in food. We thought of canceling our reservation for the Orchid Restaurant as a result of our experience, but we are so glad we didn't. It spans the ship on Deck 11 and as we were sailing through the inshore islands, we had panoramic views from the windows. It is also a beautiful room. The food had an Indian theme for that night and food and service were superb. This time, we had a window table. We would hesitate going back to Arcadian Rhodes but would go back to the Orchid without hesitation. SHIP'S FACILITIES I was told by a friend who had been on Arcadia recently that I wouldn't like the ship because it wasn't grand enough. Completely the opposite. I loved the ship because of its many small, intimate areas and places where you could sit and read or just stare out to sea. From the Crow's Nest or the Orchid Bar you can get panoramic views and from other bars and lounges, big windows where you get a view of the sea. Many reviews have complained about the small atrium above Deck 1, but I would rather the space is used for passengers rather than just creating an impression. I have compared the deck plans of the new Cunard Queen Victoria (it is basically the same Vista-class ship) with those of Arcadia, and all the small spaces have disappeared to accommodate the grand spaces Cunard wants (there are virtually no intimate spaces on Queen Mary 2 either). We didn't use the casino or the Rising Sun pub, and thought the library was perhaps a bit small. We only used it to reference the Berlitz cruise ship guide to get information on other ships we saw in port. The gymnasium and spa facilities looked extensive, but we didn't use them, only passing through to get to that best kept secret, the forward observation deck! The main swimming pool under its retractable roof was well used, but again, we only passed through - the humidity, smell of chlorine and noise were too much (old fuddy-duddies you might say, but at 46 and 59 we were among the youngest on the ship!) SERVICE Service in all areas was excellent and the staff made a point of learning our names and what we liked to drink, and this was in the several bars that we frequented during the day and evenings. Getting a drink on the Promenade Deck after 6pm was more difficult - service was suspended at that time and you had to collect your own drink. During the cruise, we had a classical pianist who played in the Crow's Nest in the early evening. His first concert came at the end of a sea day and the Crow's Nest was fairly full. He started playing, and as the time passed, quite a lot of people started looking around for stewards to refresh their drinks, but they had disappeared! The expressions of horror at being stuck drinkless were quite funny. We later discovered that a sign had been put outside to say that service would be suspended 15 minutes before the start of the concert, but of course, we were already there and didn't see it! ENTERTAINMENT We only attended one show in the Palladium Theatre and that was the Cirque Arcadia, a dance, song and acrobatic show. This was excellent. Before and after dinner in the Crow's Nest there was live music and not too loud and obtrusive. In the Piano Bar, there was - guess what - piano music from time to time, but there were always places where you could meet for pre-dinner drinks without music. We went to one port lecture and to a presentation about the new Ventura, a ship that seems to be geared up especially for children. In the evenings, we always headed for the Crow's Nest, where, at 11pm, there was a team quiz. It was great fun and our dinner table, whether two, four or six of us taking part, generally did abysmally! Also in the Crow's Nest, we got caught one afternoon by the first of the two daily games of bingo. We'd never before experienced audience participation - after each number was called, the players responded - 88, two fat sailors and everybody responded "wobble, wobble". Within minutes, we were in stitches and in serious danger of being thrown out!! PORTS OF CALL STAVANGER. After a day at sea from Southampton, the first port of call was Stavanger. We took a short, morning coach excursion from the pier (only a few hundred yards from the cathedral and the center of town) to an iron age farm at Ullandhaug Hill where our guide gave way to a representative (and archaeologist) from the university. He was an excellent speaker and gave a very interesting and amusing talk about the farm, the people and myths surrounding the area (the horned helmets of the Vikings are as mythical as the trolls of Norway). From there, we were taken to a hill top featuring a 1960s television aerial, but with panoramic views from its base, and then back into the town to the cathedral to which we paid a short visit. Following that, our guide walked us through the old town (probably mid 1800s because the Norwegians are always burning their towns down) and back to the ship. Our intention after lunch was to go back into town and walk around on our own, but it was warm and sunny and we spent it on deck instead! In any case, we are back in Stavanger next year on board QE2 (No criticism of P&O. It's just that we want to be on board a ship that we love for one last time) FLAAM. Our next call was at Flåm on Sognefjord. Whatever you do on an itinerary like this, get up early. Sailing into the fjords with still waters and early morning mists is magnificent. It's still spectacular sailing out in the afternoon, but the mists and stillness add to the scenery. Here, our intention was to take the Flåmbana railway to Vatnahalsen (not quite the end of the line) and back, with waffles and cream at the Vatnahalsen Hotel (excellent, but rather poorly washed crockery). The journey is spectacular (I shall probably use this word again a lot more times) with a halt going up and coming down at the Kjosfossen waterfall where you get off the train to take photographs (and get soaked by the spray). Eerie music starts up and suddenly there is a blond Viking woman prancing about on the rocks and enticing you into the falls (probably a man in a wetsuit, wig and long dress). Weird, but fun. OLDEN. At the head of Nordfjord/Utfjord, Olden is set in a beautiful location with the waters of the fjord a bright blue from glacial runoff. Our excursion of the day was to the Briksdal Glacier. The coach trip there was about 30 minutes up the spectacular and beautiful Olden Valley to the visitor center for the Josterdalsbreen National Park. From there, it was a very steep (for most of the way) 45 minute walk to the foot of the glacier. Unfortunately, it has retreated 25 meters in the last few years and it was not actually possible to get right up to it as the ice is now deemed to be unsafe. TRONDHEIM. Following the tiny villages of Flåm and Olden, Trondheim is a metropolis in comparison. Our excursion was by coach and veteran tram. The coach took us the short distance from the dock to the cathedral where we walked around part of the old town before boarding the tram. This took us around the town center before taking us miles into the hills and forests above the town. At the end of the line, our coach met us again and took us back to the ship, calling at the Kristiansten Fort for panoramic views over the city. NORTH CAPE.It was a day at sea to reach Honningsvaag on the island of Mageroya where we disembarked for the North Cape. En route, we crossed the Arctic Circle and then sailed up Hollandsfjord to view an offshoot of the Svartisan Glacier, which has also shrunk in recent years. Leaving there, we travelled for several hours through the inshore islands before heading out to sea and northwards. Our guide to North Cape told us we might see reindeer belonging to the Sami people (no longer called Laplanders). We thought we might see one or two, but in fact there were hundreds, some of them bringing the bus to a halt as they ambled across the road. The road from Honningsvåg is spectacular and over real Arctic tundra, but North Cape itself is not much: a visitor center with souvenir shop, café, post office, chapel and enormous bar, with a globe on a plinth above the cliffs themselves. Like a lot of places in Norway, once you have reached your destination, there is not a lot to see or do (unless you like walking), so after 20 minutes, we were ready to leave. However, it's nice to have been there, and the journey there and back was worth it in itself. The best part was the ship then sailing past North Cape at midnight with it beautifully lit by the midnight sun. The party atmosphere on board was fantastic with everybody on deck at midnight with their cameras to be photographed with the sun - somebody took my photograph and my head beautifully eclipses the sun! TROMSO. Another sail along a magnificent fjord (actually a sound) to reach Tromso. We had a coach tour of the city before stopping at the Arctic Cathedral and then taking the cable car to the top of Storsteinen (1380 feet). From there, the views over Tromso, the island of Tromsoya on which it is located and the surrounding sounds are magnificent, well worth the visit. We were then taken to the Tromso University Museum (our Spanish guide was a student there!) - not too interesting as the signs on the exhibits were only in Norwegian. ANDALSNES. On Isfjord, the town used to be just two farms, Andals and Nes and as a community grew around them, they combined the two names. In the morning, we visited Trollveggen, the tallest vertical rock face in the world outside the Grand Canyon and then Trollstigen at the top of and on the opposite side of the same mountain, up a precipitous and narrow road with numerous U-bends. Not a lot there except the inevitable souvenir shop, café and toilets, and of course, the spectacular views. In the afternoon, we were to travel on a train pulled by a vintage steam engine, but it was out of commission for the summer and we were pulled by diesel instead. A coach took us to Bjorli Station to pick up the train and en route stopped at Trollveggen again! The train runs back down the same valley through yet more spectacular scenery, starting very high up the valley side and then by way of a 360° tunnel inside the mountain dropped to lower and lower levels. Guess what? We passed through Trollveggen for the third time, but at least didn't stop! BERGEN. The weather in Andalsnes was rather grey and damp in the morning, but brightened during the day. The whole trip was general bright and warm and we had breakfast on deck the two mornings inside the Arctic Circle. However, Bergen was very wet indeed with very heavy showers all through the day. Our guide told us that the city had 280 to 300 days of rain a year! We took the funicular railway to the top of Fløyen, a thousand feet above the city. The view should have been fantastic, but we arrived during an absolute downpour and other than seconds braving the elements at the vantage point, we huddled in the souvenir shop along with passengers from three other cruise ships in port! Our coach then took us around the city and crisscrossed it from north to south, east to west. It's very attractive indeed. However, the weather prevented us walking back in during the afternoon for a further look. GRATUITIES Gratuities were not included in the on board account, but the cruise information recommended £3.50 per person per day to be split between the cabin steward and dining room staff. We paid a little more than because we felt that the level of service deserved it and we included a couple of the bar staff as well. DISEMBARKATION On previous cruises, disembarkation has usually been on a deck by deck basis with the suites and loyalty club members getting off first. Our deck has usually given us a disembarkation time of about 11am. I don't know on what basis this disembarkation was organized, but we were allocated an 8am slot for departure with only the self-help passengers getting off earlier at 7.30. On the dot, we were called to go ashore and 15 minutes later, we had collected the luggage, loaded the car and were driving away. It couldn't have been easier and we were home by 10.45. GENERAL I had some doubts about booking this cruise, having visited a couple of fjords before and not been that impressed. I realize that neither of them were good representations for what we actually saw, both sailing along the fjords we did and among the inshore islands. I have never seen such spectacular scenery. It was obviously helped by the good weather we had other than in Bergen. And the ship? It exceeded expectations. It was comfortable, quiet and not crowded, although the Crow's Nest could get full in the evenings and it was sometimes difficult to find a seat. The stewards, however, raided the adjoining Viceroy Room for armchairs to accommodate us. The ship is child free, but I have never found children on board to be a problem (I never use the pools which I agree they tend to take over). Except for very few people in their 20s and 30s, the passengers were of retirement age and older - I believe the Electra disco played to very small audiences, although we never even discovered it until the last day. Would we select this ship again? Absolutely! And the itinerary? I would recommend it to anyone, although it is weather dependant to get the best out of it. Paul Hawkins-Kennedy Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Arcadia cruising We sailed from Southampton on Sunday 22 July 2007 with the P&O Arcadia on their 13 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. It was our second cruise and our first with P&O and Arcadia. In 2006, we cruised with ... Read More
Arcadia cruising We sailed from Southampton on Sunday 22 July 2007 with the P&O Arcadia on their 13 day cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. It was our second cruise and our first with P&O and Arcadia. In 2006, we cruised with Celebrity Cruises Millennium Class vessel 'Constellation' on their Baltic Capitals tour. We hope that this resume will help others to decide for themselves whether to try the Arcadia and to give some help to others who perhaps have never cruised before and are wondering if it is for them. Finally, we hope that it will give a balanced and helpful insight into the Norwegian Fjord cruise and particularly the P&O version. The booking procedure was very straightforward and everything arrived on time and exactly as described. Extra discounts were available by shopping around. The P&O website gave basic information on a good website and we waited with anticipation for the Excursion booking portal to become available. This opened several days before the printed book came through the post so if you are particularly keen on any excursion and want to ensure that you obtain a place, I would recommend using the P&O Excursion website. However there seems to be plenty of room on most excursions on this trip and bookings were still available for many excursions right up to the evening before docking at any port. In this part of the world, the weather is a particularly important feature and although we were very fortunate in the weather throughout the cruise, we would have been pretty frustrated if we had paid pre-booked £50 a head in England to see nothing but clouds on a scenic trip of mountains and fjords. We booked with the Eavesway coach service from Preston at £66 a head return and this proved to be a very efficient and comfortable service. There were two comfort breaks with a stop for lunch at the junction of the M42 and M40. There were two drivers who took the driving in turn and were very helpful with loading luggage. There are no reserved seat numbers but we had no problem in finding four seats together and after about 5 ½ hours, we arrived in Southampton Docks at 2.30pm with plenty of time and feeling relaxed. At the Docks, we took our hand luggage ourselves and the heavy luggage was left to the drivers and port staff and we never saw or handled any of the suitcases from Preston Bus Station until they arrived in our cabins within minutes of us arriving in the cabins ourselves. An excellent service and to be recommended. Southampton Dock Terminal is efficient if rather unglamorous. We were processed very quickly and it really helped having pre-registered our details on the P&O website. All that was left to do was to swipe our passports and our credit card and we were given our security card that was to allow us access to and from the ship at every port and to act as our on board credit card for purchases to be billed against and paid for in sterling at the end of the cruise. From the time that we arrived on the coach to the time that we were in our cabins was no more than 30 minutes and the longest queue was 6 people in front for the x-ray security machine. A wonderful improvement on airport queues! We boarded Arcadia with excitement and must admit to being a little disappointed at the initial lack of impact. There was no 'Wow' factor at all and most of the welcome party was security staff. On Constellation, we had arrived in the main Atrium with its massive staircase and were greeted by an officer, passed to a steward who helped us find our cabin and introduced us by name to our cabin steward. On Arcadia, we arrived amongst the lifeboats, entered by a small doorway, were not greeted and had to find our own way to the cabin. This is not as easy as it sounds because the Arcadia has a bizarre but very British way of labelling its decks. Deck numbers start at the bottom and work upwards but with a confusing bottom deck called A Deck. However they also like to letter their decks and couple these letters with names of countries and continents from past P&O glory days. Guess which way the letters start!! That's right - the alphabet starts from the top accommodation deck and works downwards. So A (Australia) deck is near the top and is numbered 8 and the lowest accommodation deck is G (Grenada)Deck which is number 1 Deck. You get used to it in time but the arrival on board should be improved upon as first impressions really do count - and especially so if one is mentally comparing with previous ships and cruise-lines. However the welcome from the cabin steward was both genuine and warm. He was charming, helpful and quietly efficient. He had obviously been well selected and trained and was for ever attentive. Practically all the front line staff on Arcadia are from India. Their English is good and they are the most charming people. Smart, attentive, harmonious, well trained and supervised, they are a real credit to themselves and also the years of association with P&O. We certainly felt more at home on Arcadia than Constellation where we found that the language skills were much poorer and the staff came from all over the world - although the staff were just as well trained. The cabin itself is of a good proportion and well equipped. Although P&O say that the cabin is equipped with 240 volt British style socket, this is being slightly economical with the truth. There is such a socket but only the one. Other voltages and socket shapes are also supplied so if you are like us with a variety of battery chargers etc, it would help to bring an adaptor and/or a continental adaptor so that you can use the other sockets as well. There is a kettle and endless supply of free tea and coffee sachets and milk. All other drinks are charged for but continental breakfasts can now be ordered to the room free of charge. There is a fridge in the room. The bathroom in our cabin had a ¾ sized bath with a very good shower above and all other facilities were fine. A dressing gown was provided on request. Towels were provided for pool side use and all linen and toweling was changed every day. Spotless service and to be commended. The balcony was a very good size with 2 comfortable chairs and a coffee table and was well sheltered. Air conditioning was superb and practically silent and draught free. A television gave facts and service about our ship, our itinerary, our current position, a range of details about excursions and a wide range of films, TV programmes and BBC or Sky News. The ship is equipped with its own mobile phone aerial and processing unit so mobile phone calls were possible even out at sea. Prices seemed to be the same or similar as for land mobile phones - in other words expensive compared to landlines. There is a computer room for access to the Internet at charges that vary upon usage. We didn't use them but the prices were not too bad at £16 for 100 minutes or £10.50 for use throughout the cruise. You can use your own laptop on their wireless service for a nominal fee per day. There is a very good supply of general public areas including a swimming pool that has a retractable roof with a large area for relaxation. Very welcome on this trip to the top of Norway. There is an abundance of bars, a disco, a library, a very well equipped gym and health spa and everything else mentioned in the brochure. There seemed to be plenty of space and availability of services for everyone with the one exception of the self service dining room but more about that later. The theatre was excellent with a very good variety of mixed entertainment of a high quality. Although very full at times, we always managed to find seats and they were comfortable with a good view in air conditioned comfort. If we have any criticism at all of Arcadia, it would be for its rather 1980ish dEcor everywhere. Full of browns and creams. Not to our taste but presumably P&O know their market and supplied their flagship only 2 years ago with a known preference with their regular clients. Not the sort of detail to determine whether one travelled by the ship or its cruse destinations but a bit of a let down in our view. Even the funnel is a bland dark cream above a white hull compared to the exciting colors and shapes of Constellation. Another 'Wow' factor difference between the two ships of comparable age and size. Dining is either at table in the two floors of the Meridian dining rooms or the Belvedere Self Service. There is also speciality dining at the Gary Rhodes Restaurant or the Orchid room but we did not sample either of these facilities. The Belvedere self service area is full of frustrating features - some of which could perhaps be easily improved upon and others that are design problems with no easy remedy. The biggest problem of all is that it is too small. Compared to Constellation, there appears to be some 250/300 less seats as the seating area is much narrower. Constellation has the dining area extended right to the vessel's side and indeed parts of it overhang the ship's side with dramatic glass floor panels with views of the sea below! Arcadia doesn't and at times there were a lot of grumbles about the lack of seating. In warmer climates, it would be possible to eat outside around the rear swimming pool, but this was never really an option on this cruise. The layout of the food on offer does not flow and there are constant flows and counter flows of people searching for the item that they missed. Salads are arranged lengthways along the ship but the cold meats and fish are in the cross bays out of sight of the first queue and you have a second queue to face to complete your meal. At breakfast you also have to queue for your coffee and fruit juice whereas on Constellation, the coffee was served at table by stewards. Many of the salads and dishes are placed almost out of reach behind the protective screens. However on the plus side there are masses of staff and the tables are kept spotless and the staff are charming and efficient. The Meridian dining experience is probably where the Britishness of the whole experience is most noticeable on Arcadia. Both ships supply superb food served by marvellous waiters. There really is no other way of travelling for 14 days and being supplied with such high quality food and served by such well trained and hard working staff. How the staff manage so consistently well to serve so many people for two separate sittings is a daily miracle. My hat goes off to them all. We chose to eat at the first sitting on each vessel as we find that the finishing time of around 10.00pm too late for comfort if choosing the second sitting. All a personal choice. My wife is vegetarian and for her the highlight of a cruising holiday is the daily availability of top class vegetarian cuisine with a choice of starters and main courses. European land holidays have been ruined on past holidays by the complete lack of vegetarian option let alone a choice, but cruise ships supply an immense range of menus that are frequently changed. The big difference of the two ships is that Constellation has a daily vegetarian menu offered at the start of each dinner featuring several starters and main courses, whereas Arcadia offers the same range but the choice has to be made the evening before. So you end up choosing the next meal before eating the current one! There is also a daily vegetarian option on the main menu. She tells me that the food was excellent and varied on both ships. The general menu is very British on Arcadia and is excellent. Good sized portions and well balanced. Our only criticism in both the Meridian and Belvedere restaurants was the synthetic nature of the dessert ingredients. All the cream was fresh on Constellation but only UHT on Arcadia and the desserts were very heavy and gluteus on Arcadia. At least we did not eat too many and we kept our weight down, but again a small point became an issue after a while. Wine prices are considerably cheaper on Arcadia than Constellation but the range of selection is more than adequate on both ships. Dress code is more formal and more respected on Arcadia than Constellation. Maybe its because Constellation clientele are nearer 80% American whereas Arcadia's is 99% British that makes the difference. Suitcase weights whilst flying to Europe must be a consideration and so too is the British love of formality, but I would guess that more than 80% of men wear Dinner Jackets on Arcadia compared to perhaps 50% on Constellation. The other 20% wear suits on Formal nights on Arcadia. Informal nights are also very smart on Arcadia with the majority in suits or formal jackets and trousers. Casual nights were mostly jacketless but still smart casual. There are more photographers on Arcadia than Constellation and they cover many of the excursions as well as the formal nights on board. Prices on Constellation were also three times more expensive than those on Arcadia. Arcadia also has a far more amenable staff who are very willing to help out on camera problems and other aspects of photography other than just trying to sell you their own photos. However Arcadia's interior design is less photogenic as a background. Shopping on Arcadia is extensive and there is a fine selection of evening and day wear, perfume, jewelry, watches, souvenirs and also an excellent selection of toiletries, sweets, flowers and duty frees. There are the usual Art Auctions but a very peculiar range of paintings and it still beats me why anyone should want to buy a picture whilst cruising- but there you go. One man's meat etc etc! There is a very good range of excursions covering all tastes and pockets. Norway is not the cheapest place to visit but all the trips that we went on were excellent value for money and we never had any disappointment. Personally I think that the Flam railway is over-hyped but that is by the railway company rather than P&O. The Flam railway website is full of superlatives but the train spends much of its time in tunnels and having been on it a couple of times now, I do believe that there are other just as attractive railway lines in the UK-such as to Kyle of Localsh, Mallaig or indeed the Settle and Carlisle railway. We later found out that the railway excursion from Andalsnes to Bojli was to us even better for scenery. We were incredibly lucky to have superb weather at North Cape. After a day of thick fog, we dropped anchor at Honningsvag in glorious sunshine and had a beautiful ride by local school bus through stunning countryside before arriving at a very commercialized North Cape Centre. Very similar to Lands End and full of camper vans and bikers. 'North Cape or bust' comes to mind. The video is well worth watching in the underground theatre, but the main attraction is the globe monument on the cliff-top with its longitude and latitude marks. You really are near the top of the world. Have a look at a globe to see just how far north you will be travelling - and yet it is really very warm. The Gulf Steam passes by and they never have any sea icing. We had the most glorious Midnight Sun as the Arcadia later cruised slowly past North Cape from 23.00hrs until 01.00hrs. A lady next to me had been on 6 previous cruises to North Cape and this was the first time that she had been lucky enough to see the Midnight Sun, so you are not guaranteed to see this wonderful phenomena. If you are booking a trip from the ship, try and book the first possible time as the transport arrangements are a bit in a short supply and you also have to use the tenders to reach shore. Several people on board had marvellous experiences on the Bird Safari trip and said that it was well worth the cost. Again you will have to be lucky with the weather and have to balance off the risk of booking early in the UK and taking the weather as it comes, or waiting to see what the weather might be and risk not having the choice of destination and time of excursion. My own view is to take the risk but it is your call. We also went on the long day excursions of 'Norway in a Nutshell' from Flam, 'Geirangerfjord' from Olden and 'The Alps of the North' from Tromso and can recommend all three trips as good value and fascinating trips. The towns of Stavenger, Trondheim and Bergen can easily be visited on your own with ships berthing very close by to the main town centres. The 82,000 ton ship is steered into the most amazing small spaces and the Master took the greatest care to see that we had the best views of fjord countryside including glaciers. The ship seems to spin round on a sixpence but provides a stable platform for wonderful photographic opportunities of countryside and also sea patterns caused by the ship changing course. We were somewhat surprised to find that there is very little birdlife and we never saw any sea creatures either. We had gone equipped with telescopes and binoculars but used neither to any great extent and would not bother if we went again. Then sadly it eventually came time to turn for home and the incredibly smooth Arcadia set off at 22 knots across the North Sea towards Southampton. She had been on time -almost to the minute- at every port and so it was at Southampton where we arrived at 7 am. Our luggage had been taken from our cabins at 5pm the previous evening and we found it all laid out by Deck letters in the Terminal. We had colored cards giving us a disembarkation time of 8.15am as we were joining the Eavesway coach and this all happened punctually and easily. Coaches were lined up immediately outside the Terminal and we left at 9 am precisely - just 45 minutes from leaving the ship. Even though it was an August Saturday, we were safely deposited in Preston at 3.30pm feeling relaxed and very happy. It was a wonderful holiday, well worth every penny and we would recommend the Arcadia trip to Norwegian Fjords to anyone interested in an interesting itinerary for scenery. There are no big towns with cathedrals and castles such as on the Baltic cruises, but the company and its crew do their utmost to make you comfortable, feed you superbly and to show you the best that Norway has to offer with its fantastic scenery. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
Flight from Manchester 40min late departing but managed to arrive on time. We had premium seating which was much better than the last time we travelled charter flights, but not as spacious as the schedule flight to New York on BA we took ... Read More
Flight from Manchester 40min late departing but managed to arrive on time. We had premium seating which was much better than the last time we travelled charter flights, but not as spacious as the schedule flight to New York on BA we took last year. Premium seating meant we were first off the plane and onto the waiting coaches. We were the first coach to arrive at the ship so no Caribbean music to greet us. As we were first on ship we chatted with passengers waiting for their flights so had an idea we were in for a good time, and were not disappointed. We were so early on the ship our cabin wasn't quite ready so, although tired, we wandered around the ship for a couple of hours. On our way back to the cabin we noticed our baggage outside the lifts and asked if it was ok if we took it to the cabins ourselves. We were unpacked by 4.30pm and eagerly awaiting evening meal, well ready for it after arriving at Manchester airport at 5am and only having inflight meals. Cabin was excellent, the best we have had, spacious balcony with good quality chairs. Lots of cupboard space and well planned wardrobes, mirrors everywhere. Bathroom good size with shower above bath. Bed a little strange though. We opted for a double bed, the twin beds were linked which was fine but we still had single duvets, very strange. Arcadia was very clean but a little tired considering it is less than 2 years old. Decor pleasant but not extravagant, Meridian Restaurant very pleasant. Food excellent as usual with P&O, good choice, did not eat in Gary Rhodes or Orchid Restaurant, no need. Belvedere buffet was excellent, good choice, comfortable, waiter to squirt the necessary disinfectant on entry. P&O seem to be penny pinching and drink prices vary according to whereabouts on the ship you are. Shows were very disappointing, thank goodness for Roy Walker, a true professional. Three out of the four singers in the Arcadia troupe were out of tune. Missed a stop at Mayreau due to high swell, tropical rain storm in Cozumel meant we had to cancel our trip into the jungle, very disappointing, it looked really good. Went on about 3 organized trips, Costa Maya beach trip was really enjoyable but confusing regarding the time we had to leave the beach. First time we were given was 3pm, we arrived at 10am, then we were told the coach would be leaving at 1.00pm, then another announcement stated another coach had been negotiated for 1.30pm and this would be the last coach, then miraculously another coach appeared at 2pm, but by then we had changed out of our swimwear and were on the 1.30 coach ready to go back to the ship. At Grand Cayman did the semi-sub trip, it was excellent, being a non swimmer that is the nearest I am likely to get to swimming with the fish. Curacao is the best stop on the cruise, we like it better each time we go there. Nightmare in New Orleans, had to register with immigration day prior to disembarkation. Some passengers queued for over 1 hour to get their passport and documents checked. This made the excursions late leaving which meant they hurried them up to get us back to the ship at the stated time. I do not know why though, we were staying overnight in New Orleans. Great place, lots to see, start of the Mardi Gras carnivals when we arrived. Unfortunately supposedly due to the snow in UK our flight was delayed by 5 hours, which meant we had to stay on the ship another 5 hours, we left the ship at 8pm and flew at 1am, which threw all our homecoming plans out of the window as we were due to drive home to the Highlands of Scotland on the Saturday, we had to stay overnight at our daughter's in Doncaster and eventually arrived home Sunday at 6pm. That was the bad bit of the holiday. Would definitely do P&O again but only if they upgraded the size of the seats for the flights. 8 hours is too long to be sat with yours knees up to your chin. I have emailed them regarding this but have had no response! 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: 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 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
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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