Arcadia - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)



Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 397 out of 500

Accommodation: 144 out of 200

Food: 255 out of 400

Service: 285 out of 400

Entertainment: 73 out of 100

Cruise: 269 out of 400

Overall Score: 1423 out of 2000

Arcadia Statistics

Size: Mid-size Ship

Tonnage: 82,972

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: P&O Cruises

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9226906

Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)

Original Cost: $400 million

Entered Service: Apr 2005

Registry: Bermuda

Length (ft/m): 936.0/285.3

Beam (ft/m): 105.0/32.0

Draft (ft/m): 25.5/7.8

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (34,000kW)/ 2 azimuthing pods

Passenger Decks: 10

Total Crew: 886

Passengers (lower beds): 1,994

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 37.4

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3

Cabins (total): 1,000

Size Range (sq ft/m): 170-516.6/15.7-48

Cabins (for one person): 6

Cabins (with private balcony): 684

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 30

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 14

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2

Hot Tubs (on deck): 5

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: UK£


A contemporary, adults-only ship for mature-age Brits

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

The Ship. P&O’s Arcadia, intended to be Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria, was transferred to the P&O Cruises brand (both companies are owned by the giant Carnival Corporation).

Outdoors facilities include a walk-around promenade deck (covered in the ship’s forward section), with plenty of sunloungers (and cushioned pads). A large Lido Deck pool has a moveable glass-domed cover - useful in poor weather. Panoramic exterior glass-wall elevators grace the central foyer to port and starboard and travel between all 10 passenger decks. Pod propulsion is provided, so there’s no vibration.

The layout provides a decent horizontal flow, with most public rooms, shops, bars, and lounges set open-plan style on two principal decks, so finding your way around is relatively easy, except that the layout of upper public room decks is disjointed. The interior decor is geared towards those with youthful, contemporary tastes. It is, however, restrained, but lacking any connection to the more traditional features that P&O Cruises is known for. There are 3,000 works of art by British artists, costing $4 million. Although Arcadia is one of the Carnival Corporation’s Vista-class ships, the decor is perhaps the most subtle of them all, and both passenger flow and signage are generally good.

Facilities include a forward-facing Crow’s Nest observation lounge high atop the ship (in a contemporary setting nicely refurbished in 2013); a florist, a gift shop arcade, a Monte Carlo casino, a library (with leather armchairs and a Waterstone’s section for paperback sales), a 30-seat boutique screening room, and The Retreat (a good place to meet and chill out). The 14 bars include the Spinnaker Bar (good for ship buffs, with its display of ship models), a ‘traditional’ English pub (The Rising Sun, with Boddington’s draught beer), plus a bar overlooking a modest three-deck-high atrium lobby. The ship really lacks a ‘soul’, because there is no central meeting point - no atrium lobby as such to act as a social centre - quite different to Oceana, for example.

Arcadia blends time-honored British cruising with contemporary facilities, but it is completely different from other more traditional ships in the fleet. It is registered in Bermuda, so UK and US passport holders can be legally married by the ship’s captain (check with P&O Cruises for the latest requirements). You can also renew your vows in a special ceremony. The ship underwent a refurbishment program in 2013, in which one new suite, and 23 new cabins were added (including 6 for singles) in a new structure aft of the Crow’s Nest, plus a new Harrods store (and revitalized shopping area), and an extra-cost East Restaurant which replaced the former Orchid Restaurant.

The New Horizons lecture program provides an array of lectures on a range of subjects (introductory sessions at no charge; more in-depth subject matter study in smaller groups, at an additional cost.

Many extra onboard revenue centers have appeared aboard P&O Cruises’ ships, including Arcadia - such as paying for lectures and thalassotherapy pool use. Smoking is permitted only on cabin balconies and in designated spots on the open decks.

Passenger niggles: there is no room for card games such as bridge; dance floor space is pitiful; and the embarkation system keeps people waiting in a lounge after lines at the check-in desks and security until boarding card letters are called. The small public toilets lack touches like flowers and hand towels; there are no poolside towels (you must take them from your cabin); poolside gala receptions lack atmosphere; and pre-dinner announcements are robotic. The often noisy air conditioning cannot be turned off in cabins or bathrooms.

Accommodation. While there are plenty of price grades, there are really only five types of accommodation: suites, mini-suites, cabins with private balcony, and twin-bedded cabins with or without a window.

All cabin doors and elevators have numbers in Braille. All accommodation has duvets (or blankets and pillows if you prefer), flat-screen TV sets (the audio channels are also on the television, but you can’t turn the picture off), tea/coffee-making sets with Tetley teabags and long-life milk, small refrigerator, vanity/writing desk, personal safe, hairdryer; bathrooms have half-size tubs/shower/washbasin, and toilet. Personal toiletries are by Temple Spa, with larger bottles and more selection choice provided for suite occupants.

Also standard are stylish bed runners, Slumberland eight-inch sprung mattresses, 10.5 tog duvets (blankets and pillows if you prefer), Egyptian cotton towels and robes, improved tea/coffee-making facilities with speciality teas (long-life is provided), as well as in-cabin toning and fitness facilities for passengers who would prefer to exercise in private.

In twin-bedded cabin grades (approximately 170 sq ft/16 sq m), when the beds are pushed together, there’s little room to maneuver.

Accommodation designated as suites (approximately 516 sq ft/48 sq m, including balcony) and mini-suites (approximately 384 sq ft/36 sq m, including balcony) benefit from more space (some are really just the size of two cabins), king-size bed, trouser press, ironing board and iron, three-seat sofa (suites) or two-seat sofa (mini-suites), wall clock, and binoculars. The bathrooms are larger, and include an aqua-jet tub, two washbasins, toilet, and separate shower (suites only).

So-called ‘butler’ service is provided, but, unlike most lines with these kinds of grades, bottled water costs extra, as do soft drinks.

Passenger niggles include the space-hogging tea/coffee-making set on the small vanity desk in the standard cabin grades, although the set itself is good. Other gripes about standard cabins include: closets with hanging space too narrow for the width of a jacket; little drawer space; poor-quality plastic hangers; and no hooks for belts.

Dining. The Meridian Restaurant, located aft, is two decks high (the two decks are connected by a spiral staircase); it has 11 superb glass fiber-optic ceiling chandeliers created by Neil Wilkin. A podium with grand piano graces the upper level, which is for Freedom Dining - you can go anytime between 6.30pm and 9.30pm. There are two seatings (called Club Dining) in the lower level restaurant only, and tables are for two to eight people. Note that the glasses for both red and white wines are small.

Other dining options. Ocean Grill, by Marco Pierre White, specializes in prime steaks and seafood - with lots of taste. East Restaurant (on Deck 11) has fine panoramic views, Asian-fusion (spice-heavy) cuisine created by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, and its own bar. Reservations are required in both venues, and a cover charge applies.

For casual meals and snacks, there’s a self-serve 24-hour eatery (The Belvedere), a section of which becomes another dining venue at night, serving Indian cuisine. There’s also an open-deck Neptune Grill and Caffè Vivo (indoors, adjacent to the library).

Entertainment. The Palladium show lounge is an entertainment palace with three seating tiers and excellent high-tech staging, lighting, and sound systems. Seating is in both banquette-style and individual tub chairs, and the sight lines to the stage are generally good. There are several major production shows.

Late-night party types can dance and scream in The Globe. Classical concerts may also be scheduled for many cruises.

Professional dance hosts and teachers are usually carried (but ballroom dance aficionados should note that there are few wooden dance floors).

Spa/Fitness. The Ocean Spa includes a gymnasium with good forward ocean views, 10 body-pampering treatment rooms, a thermal suite that incorporates a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, and two small unisex saunas at no charge, but in a location that discourages their use (the thermal suite is better). While the tiny sauna is free, there’s a charge to use the Aqua Pool. To get from the changing room to the sauna you must walk across a carpeted foyer.

Additionally, The Retreat is a cool space for relaxation, and for calming classes like tai chi and yoga. The spa is operated by the UK-based Harding Brothers. Sports facilities include a sports court for racquet or football games, a golf driving range, and the traditional shuffleboard and ringtoss.