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Overview: Arcadiais a modern cruise ship based in Southampton, England – so UK passengers can avoid airports. It is for couples and solo travelers looking for a large, adults-only ship, with entertainment geared to British tastes, an informal setting, and with plenty of public rooms to experience.


Arcadia - Sinking Fast. by Johnson, Notts

Arcadia - Sinking Fast.

Overall Rating: 1


Cruise Line:
P&O Cruises
Cruise Ship:
World Cruise

Reviewed By: on
I have recently returned from the Sydney to Southampton leg of the Arcadia ‘world cruise’ and thought I would share some of my experiences.
Firstly, I am probably not the regular profile of a world cruiser being younger than the average age group of fellow passengers.
We started out in Sydney with a very poor boarding experience. We travelled independently and were met by a lack of porters and a one and a half hour queue to board the boat. On first impressions our balcony cabin was compact but adequate. I did find some tissues behind the bed though and the bedding was well worn. However this was as good as it got as later in the cruise we had bedsheets with brown stains, yellow stains, holes and pillows that were just disgusting. Our cabin steward remarked that they struggled to find clean linen.
The TV however was miniscule and unviewable from the bed. Not that it really mattered there was nothing on it. The interactive map showed was also small but half the time had the Arcadia going across land. The updates from the bridge were invariably hours out of date and the time was frequently displayed incorrectly. This was an important factor as we had 10 time changes on our voyage and every single one, instead of being at midnight was at midday, ensuring your lunchtime eating was rushed. Why not change the clocks at midnight like everywhere else? We had our first taste of reception service shortly afterwards and found that the staff just said ‘yes’ or ‘ok’ to everything when generally they meant ‘no’.
We ate our evening meal initially in the lower Meridian restaurant at the back of the boat near the windows but moved as the noise and vibration whilst underway was unbearable. We did move a lot further forward and found that it was acceptable there. Our servers were first rate. The food in the restaurant was the best on the ship and good but not exceptional. Quite often we were served vegetables plated with our main course and the additional vegetables were just the same vegetables. My biggest laugh was the beef olives, which were infact a carrot wrapped in a piece of beef served with carrots.(it wasn’t dinner on April 1st by the way)
Generally we took lunch in the Belvedere café. It was here that we had to contend with rude and ignorant people who obviously thought the food would have run out by morning. I saw one couple have to sit at separate tables as they had so much food. There may have been quantity but there was no quality. The same old slop just kept repeating itself day after day. Some sort of mince dish, some horrible vegetables and sweets that what ever they were tasted the same. On a one week cruise you probably wouldn't spot the repetition but on the daily 'speciality' night the food was identical to the previous one. To watch the people in the Belvedere was incredible. They pushed and shoved, I saw one man just put his cereal bowl to his mouth and drink it, another lady served herself, licked the serving spoon and put it back. It was like a zoo.
We also noticed a large number of buckets collecting leaking water around the ship. At one point four in the library that resulted in you getting dripped on while searching for books or DVD's. In this library by the way was the internet manager who constantly talked loudly in the library when there was a larger empty computer room across the corridor. The internet was incidentally ridiculously expensive.
Another thing that annoyed me was the immigration arrangements for our arrival back to the UK. A member of the UK border agency joined the cruise in the Azores. We were then told we had to queue the following morning from 08:00 to have our passports checked. Why did we have to get up at 07:30 on holiday when we had 3 days at sea to check our passports?
I was also disappointed with the entertainment. Apart from something that resulted in spending in the spa or photo shop etc. there was very little. A load of supposed activities that resulted in a chats amongst fellow passenger with no involvement of any staff. The TV was full of endless interviews of staff by staff. At one point P & O found a football referee on board so we had two interviews with him. There were some speakers but on subjects that were not very wide ranging, geology, deep sea creatures, 19th century history, space travel.
I did think with quite a few sea days the entertainment would be better. The cinema was also ridiculous, a 30 seater cinema on a boat with 2000 people? We did queue to watch Argo that was advertised in the Horizon daily magazine, only to be told they didn’t have Argo.
I also object to the auto tipping system. P and O should pay their staff properly and put it in the price. I ended up tipping £285 for 46 days. I worked it out and that’s £2.7 million annually on tips and there is only 900 staff and I assume the british crew get no tips.
I’m not convinced it all gets to the staff who serve you who on the whole are exceptional.
So to summarise I feel it was like a training camp for an old peoples nursing home and P & O don’t seem to care at all about their customers, just their bank balance. They do not seem to even care about their employees who mostly seem to do an excellent job in the circumstances.
I feel their cost cutting will result in lower standards that will result in lower prices that will result in lower standards of passengers that will result in lower income that will result in more cost cutting and the cycle continues.
I’m sure some people had a better experience than we did.
If you want to view the positives read the P & O brochure but in conjunction with the reviews.

Times cruised before: 6-10
Sailed: February, 2013
Age: 46-55
Cabin: Balcony

Quality of Food
Meridian good but not excellent. staff very good. Belvedere terrible. Ocean Grill like Meridian but better ambience

If it cost P & O too much it wasn't happening and it didn't

Shore Excursions
Travelled independently

Cabin stewards and restaurant staff very good. Management not so good. Reception staff said yes to everything but invariably meant no.

Children's Facilities

Onboard Activities
Not really my cup of tea but everything seamed to involve P & O extracting some money from you

Cabin was compact but adequate. Fairly clean but dated and in need of refit. Daily broken biscuits provided not like P & O used to provide.

Overall Rating
Green, Caloundra - Commented on this review

You may not be aware of it, but the tipping factor is a matter of option. If you do not want to have the tipping amount debited to your onboard account, then you can opt to have it removed from your account by going to the Purser's desk and filling out a little form. This is what we did as I felt I really only wanted to tip those staff with whom we had the most to do, such as our cabin steward, restaurant waiters and a select few others. Problem with the tipping being debited to your onboard account is that you don't really always know who gets it. Besides, I don't see why I should tip someone who has had nothing to do with me directly.

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mou, limassol - Commented on this review

I agree with all the reviewers comments. It was a dire cruise with cancelled ports of call dreadful food, very rude people and an invisable Captain! Never again would I do a world cruise with P&O. Or any other cruise for that matter. They have down hill big time!

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