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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I have to admit that I was concerned about choosing P&O Arcadia for our cruise from San Francisco - Sydney when I saw all the poor reviews compared to the reviews on our usual cruise line, Royal Caribbean. However, the timing and ... Read More
I have to admit that I was concerned about choosing P&O Arcadia for our cruise from San Francisco - Sydney when I saw all the poor reviews compared to the reviews on our usual cruise line, Royal Caribbean. However, the timing and itinerary was right for us, so we decided to risk it and I'm so glad we did! From the beginning, we were treated wonderfully by the staff, both our cabin attendant, our waiters and every service member we came across! They were all gracious and kind. My husband has a special diet and the attention and care he received in the dining room was absolutely amazing - special advance ordering of dinner menu's, along with great advice and knowledge on the part of the head waiter in charge of that. Thank you Abel! On one evening, when we were dining in the specialty restaurant, our head waiter even popped up there to take my husband's order for the following evening! We chose early seating dinner (1830, or 6:30pm for us Americans), and met two wonderful couples to fill out our international table of 6 - from New Zealand, Britian and America. When our New Zealand couple disembarked, we had a wonderful gentlemen couple from the UK that we wished we'd had more time to come to know. They were fabulous people and great conversationalists! Although I truly enjoyed the itinerary and the ports, the sea days were also a real treat on this cruise. The ship was roomy and never felt over-full. We almost always had our choice of lovely places to sit. Drink prices in the bars were very reasonable and no gratuity added to each purchase, as they are on our usual American cruises. I enjoyed watercolor classes each morning and found many friendly passengers, willing to share their tables, introduce themselves and chat. The highlight of this cruise for us was the ballroom dancing classes! Jeffrey and Brenda were amazingly patient, kind and funny teachers who led us through 14 new dances and hosted evening dances in the Globe theater where we could practice our new skills. Out of the 14 dances we had so much fun learning, we only really retained 3 of them for the long-term. Many were "sequence dances" which were so much fun to learn and participate in on our cruise, but aren't popular in the U.S., so we won't worry too much that we can't remember them. But we'll always fondly remember our super fun, overcrowded dance classes and evening dances with all the other wonderful couples - laughing along with Jeffrey and Brenda as we stumbled into each other on the floor. The ship even had a "Tea Dance" with lovely special pastries and teas exclusively for the dance class participants. I'll always remember that lovely touch. I felt that P&O really went the extra mile to include every passenger in "the party". The dance classes and watercolor classes were free with the cruise, and really made the cruise for us, giving us a venue for activities where we could meet others and enjoy. The entertainment on the ship was top notch. The ships headliners were fabulous and had quite a few different shows. Every one of them was wonderful. I was wowed with the level of talent and always looked forward to seeing what was next. As Americans, our only disappointment was the buffet, which we found almost always underwhelming. I'm afraid much of that may have been cultural, since we normally eat large salads at lunch time and there didn't seem to be much of a salad selection. Often there would be lettuce, corn, beets, sometimes hard boiled eggs and one or two watered down salad dressings - thousand island mostly. I normally made do with a small salad and the soup of the day which was usually pretty good. Food being food, we managed. And we enjoyed the occasional afternoon tea with all the yummy scones and pastries! I had to wonder on this cruise if I was on the same ship that I read all the poor reviews on before we embarked? We loved every minute of our 24 days on Arcadia! Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
P&O UK is “British to the bootstraps” but I do believe they are trying to be something they are not, particularly in regard to dress code and maintenance. For example, the information pack provided to passengers before they ... Read More
P&O UK is “British to the bootstraps” but I do believe they are trying to be something they are not, particularly in regard to dress code and maintenance. For example, the information pack provided to passengers before they board states that the dress code for each evening applies from 6 pm throughout the ship, and “asks” passengers to comply. What it doesn’t tell you is that if you are sitting in the Crows Nest or some other public area at 6 pm, reading a book or drinking a cocktail and minding your own business, and you aren’t in a black tie or jacket on those evenings, you will be told to leave (even if there is no one else there). This was annoying – even more so when I went to dinner in my finery to find myself sitting opposite a fellow wearing a T-shirt. I suspect this was because the wait staff were too busy ogling his 20 something blonde girlfriend to notice whether he was wearing anything at all. On complaint, the maitre d’ personally assured me it would never happen again but it did - two nights later: same guy, same shirt, same girlfriend. On a 25 night cruise there were 7 ‘formal’ nights, 7 ‘jacket required’ nights (both of which we thought were excessive, especially in summer in the South Pacific) and 11 ’evening casual’ nights. Except for my T-shirt friend, if you didn’t wear the nominated attire, you were banished to eat at Horizon buffet/cafeteria. However, every night they closed half the serving area and half the outside dining area in Horizon as it was being used by the (extra fee applicable) Beach House restaurant, resulting in a much longer queue to collect your dinner. In effect, this was double punishment for dress code violators. If they put as much effort into maintaining their tenders/lifeboats (which broke down on quite a few occasions) as they did policing the dress code, it would have been a much happier ship. If there is ever a real emergency, I hope that the lifeboats are in better condition than they were on our cruise. Embarkation at San Francisco was straightforward. The porters at the dock touted for tips – I gave one guy $2 and he took our bags away. Another passenger gave a porter $1 and the porter scoffed and handed it back. There was no roll call or card swipe at the lifeboat safety drill, so they wouldn’t know who attended. My lifejacket didn’t have a whistle and our cabin attendant advised there were no spares. About halfway through the cruise we had to leave our lifejackets on our bed for inspection, so I left mine there with a note “no whistle” which was still there when we returned in the evening – with no whistle. We had booked a wine package on the internet as it was significantly cheaper than buying one on board. The ship’s shore excursions were also significantly cheaper if booked over the internet beforehand. The ship’s shore excursions were significantly more expensive than the local tours, however you run the risk of a local tour being fully booked out by the cruise line and therefore not being available when you get off the ship. There was initial confusion amongst the staff in regard to how the coffee cards and wine packages would work. There was no restriction on the amount of alcohol you could bring on board and the fridge in the cabin could easily accommodate 2 bottles of wine. I would describe the staff on the Aurora as “reserved” and generally (with a few exceptions) not as friendly as say Holland America or Princess. This could have been the result of a perception that they had to maintain a “stiff upper lip”. We had an inside cabin (C162) on Deck 9 (Canberra Deck) which was quite compact compared to inside cabins on other cruise lines, but entirely adequate. I had trouble with backache on waking up in the mornings but everyone is different. The bathroom was a good design and although it had a shower curtain and not doors, no water spilled onto the floor. The shower curtain was replaced at least once during our voyage. As suggested on CruiseCritic, I sprayed the air conditioning vents with Glen20 every second day and we had no trouble with cabin cough. Our cabin attendant Rex kept our accommodation spotless (well done Rex!). Laundry washers and dryers are free on the ship, which was great. The design of the ship around the Crystal Pool was the best we have seen on any ship. There were plenty of tables, chairs and deckchairs in both sun and shade. There are plenty of deck chairs all around the ship, to the extent that no-one, at any time, had to reserve a seat by throwing their towels on it. However towels were rationed to two per cabin and it took some time to learn that extra towels were hidden away in the dressing rooms situated in the Spa area of the ship. Topless sunbathing was restricted to 'Deck 14 forward' which, given the average age of the passengers, was a blessing. We never felt the need to eat at the “extras” restaurants as the quality of the food in the Medina was generally very good for both lunch and dinner. Movies in the theatre were recent releases, however the TV shows and movies in the room repeated ad nauseam. Considering the number of DVDs in the Library, this could have been fixed very easily. Shopping on the ship is expensive: the same Citizen Eco-drive watch we bought in November on Voyager of the Seas for A$125 was £165 (or A$321) on the Aurora (true!!). There was a “50% off the ticketed price” of pearl jewellery one day – the only problem was there was no price on any of the tickets and to obtain any price you had to ask the sales assistant. We suspected that some “disabled” passengers were not so: a woman with a white cane swung it like a baton when she thought no-one was looking and another with a zimmer frame only used it when there was an advantage to be had. One old bloke with an ”L” plate on his electric scooter nearly took out the rear wall of the elevator, and continued to be a menace all around the ship. Genuine disabled passengers, young and old, were in full control of their movement aids and were an absolute pleasure to assist when the need arose. Daily gratuities were even charged for the International Dateline day, which didn’t exist. However the daily newsletter for this missing day was a hoot to read – well done P&O. The “Sounds of the Supremes” show was akin to scraping your fingernails down a chalkboard. Other regular passengers told us the comedians were still telling the same jokes as they did on the Aurora world cruise three years ago. We found that the arrival and departure times at ports that were advertised pre-cruise were often not the actual times we experienced. This makes booking independent tours more challenging. In Maui we were on the first tender but when we tied up at the wharf the US Customs guy ordered the tender to leave as he had received insufficient paperwork! We had to reverse and bob around outside the shipping lane while another tender raced from the ship with the necessary papers. At Honolulu there was no free ship’s shuttle (as promised by the Cruise Director) – the only free shuttles were run by the Maui Diver Pearl Shop and Hilo Hatties, each of which required you to spend some time in their shops. There was much pushing and shoving (and no ship’s crew in sight) by passengers with a Maui Diver sticker when the Hilo Hatties bus arrived first. On our afternoon shuttle back to the ship, the Hilo Hatties bus was half occupied by crew, meaning that some passengers had to wait for the next bus in one hour’s time. In the Bay of Islands the shuttle buses from Waitangi to Paihia were free – a service supplied by the local community. When we got off the ship in Wellington a girl with a ‘Security” tag asked to see our cruise cards – it turned out this was so she could scan them to charge us £4 each one-way for the ship’s shuttle bus, parked about 5 metres further on. Another security guy suggested we walk instead, which we did. Cruise ships don’t dock at Dunedin but at Port Chalmers, 10km away on Otago Harbour: the ship’s shuttle to Dunedin is £5 one-way. At Dusky Sound the captain announced over the PA that a naturalist would be giving a commentary into the Crows Nest as we sailed through the Sounds, but except for a ”Testing 1-2-3” we heard nothing. We had a 2 for 1 package ($3200 for 25 nights for both of us) so the value for money was unsurpassed. Others had a fly/cruise package which was also good value. However, due to the strict dress code, I could not recommend P&O UK to anyone, although I do appreciate that others may enjoy being regimented on holidays. Read Less
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