Escape your everyday routine and relax and unwind on board the P&O Arcadia cruise ship. An exclusively adults-only vessel, the Arcadia is the perfect place to get pampered by day and socialise by night.
Sailing mostly from Southampton in the United Kingdom, she makes regular trips to warm, sunshiney climates such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. As soon as you step on board you’ll feel any stress slip away. Whether you head straight to the poolside bar for a cocktail, or make a beeline for the Oasis Spa, there’s no shortage of spaces to treat yourself on this luxury cruise ship.
Built by Fincantieri in Italy in 2005, the Arcadia is a reliable mid-size vessel with capacity for 1,950 passengers. She weighs in at 83,781 tonnes, measures 951.1 feet in length and spans across 11 decks.
The Arcadia interior decor is stylish, contemporary and elegant. Each room incorporates just the right amount of extravagance; from strategically-placed sculptures to delicate chandeliers, you will always feel that you are somewhere special.
The ship underwent a major refurbishment in 2013, one of the biggest refits the P&O cruise line has ever orchestrated. All rooms were given a slick makeover, replacing any dated decor with modern colours and finishing touches. The rooms are light, bright and airy, with cream, blue and gold colourings, while the bars, restaurants and public spaces are always sparkling, with beautiful light arrangements and glossy finishes.
It’s also worth mentioning one of the ship’s standout features; her exterior, glass-fronted lifts. Guests can enjoy panoramic views of the ocean every time they transfer between floors. This sets the tone for life on board the Arcadia; there are stunning photo opportunities everywhere you look.
Where to eat and drink: Arcadia restaurants and bars
From fine-dining to light snacks, the Arcadia caters for all tastes. The food is fresh, innovative and most importantly, delicious. All of the eateries have a lovely relaxed yet formal atmosphere. Being an adults-only vessel, you’ll never have to worry about avoiding children in the main dining room or waiting in line with families at the poolside grill. Couples will also be pleased to note several additional tables for two were added during the ship’s 2013 refurbishment; there are now four times as many spaces to enjoy a romantic dinner as there were before.
As for bars, there is no shortage of popular spots to enjoy a drink, night or day. Most of the bars offer great views of the ocean making them perfect places to socialise in the afternoon, and there is also an excellent beach-resort-themed cocktail bar by the Aquarius pool. Later in the evening, there are plenty of buzzing spots to head to after dinner, such as the Globe or the Crow’s Nest.
Beer enthusiasts will be pleased to note that craft beer has been added to several of the bars on board.
Things to do on the Arcadia
Unlike on some other cruise ships, life on board the Arcadia is largely centred around relaxation as opposed to adrenalin-fuelled activities. While you won’t come across any ziplines, waterslides or rock-climbing walls, you will be able to take your pick from a wide range of spa treatments, comfortable lounges and plush deck-chairs. There are several places to settle down and enjoy a good book with a hot drink in hand, such as the library (which also doubles as an internet cafe) and the Viceroy Room.
Organised activities are fairly laid-back: think yoga classes and golf tournaments. This creates a wonderful holiday atmosphere; why rush around? Besides, you’ll need to reserve your energy for the evenings, when the cruise ship really comes to life. Between the Palladium Show Lounge, the casino and the Crow’s Nest Bar, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied until the early hours.
Arcadia itineraries and shore excursions
Primarily based in Southampton, the Arcadia regularly sails to the Baltic, Caribbean and Mediterranean regions. The shore excursions available depend on the ship’s schedule, but you can expect trips of a high standard and wide variety. Some popular excursions include a tram ride around the Old Quarter in Lisbon, a visit to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and a traditional afternoon tea at Reids Hotel in Madeira.
It’s a good idea to book your excursion when you purchase your cruise ticket, but you can also make bookings on-board at the Tours Office. The P&O cruise line takes pride in offering a range of excursions to suit all interests and fitness levels, and an English-speaking, expert guide will accompany you on most activities. There is also usually an informative ‘port lecturer’ on board who can provide information, maps and guidance for those keen to plan their own day out.
Guests can choose between suites, mini-suites, balcony cabins, outside cabins and exterior cabins. Suites offer plenty of space (516 square feet, including the balcony), a separate lounge area and are fitted with jacuzzi bathtubs and DVD players, making them the perfect private retreat. Mini-suites are slightly smaller at 384 square feet.
The three cabin options measure between 170 square feet and 254 square feet. They are all comfortable and include basic amenities such as personal safes, hairdryers, minibars, telephones and tea and coffee making kits.
All of the rooms were given a facelift during the 2013 refurbishment, with new carpets, curtains and flat screen televisions installed. Several single cabins were also added during this time.
Dining included in your Arcadia ticket:
Specialty dining (not included in your Arcadia fare):
Arcadia by day
The Arcadia cruise ship offers several entertainment options throughout the day. Guests will likely get happily lost in the Piccadilly shopping area, a delightfully well-stocked hub featuring high-end brands such as Ted Baker, Gerry Weber, Harrods and Givenchy Make-Up.
Continuing on the luxury theme, the art gallery is well worth a look, featuring no less than 3,000 pieces of stunning art. Another great daytime entertainment option is the Boutique Cinema. With just over 30 seats, this is a cozy spot to relax and lose yourself in a great film.
With several glitzy bars and cozy lounges, the Arcadia really comes to life in the evening. The Crow’s Nest and the Palladium Show Lounge are the two best spots to enjoy live entertainment. The Crow’s Nest plays host to a variety of activities as the night goes on, including art auctions, live music (especially jazz), comedy shows, dancing and late-night cabaret performances. Meanwhile the Palladium Show Lounge is home to more traditional musical cruise shows.
Every bar has its own look, feel and theme. The Rising Sun Pub is of British Victorian style and features a jukebox and stage and hosts regular social nights, such as talent shows, karaoke competitions and dancing. This venue also broadcasts big sports matches.
The Intermezzo, on the other hand, is a quieter, upmarket venue. This exclusive cocktail and champagne bar is the perfect place to show off that new dress or slick suit. Other themed nightspots include the Piano Bar (with, you guessed it, live piano performances), the Spinnaker Bar (nautical decor) and the East Bar, a colonial-style venue decorated with travel-themed artwork.
Guests can try their luck at the Monte Carlo casino, located right next to the Palladium Theatre and the Globe nightclub. The casino has two roulette tables and 50 slot machines.
Arcadia pools, gyms and spas
There are three pool areas on board; the Neptune Pool and the Aquarius Pool are open to everyone, while the Aqua Pool in the spa area has a small cover charge.
The Oasis Spa is one of the Arcadia’s highlights. Made up of ten treatment rooms, a thermal suite (featuring a hydrotherapy pool), a sauna, a steam room and fragrant aromatic showers, this is the ultimate place to relax, unwind and leave all of your stress behind.
There are several fitness and wellness facilities to choose from. The Retreat offers tai chi, yoga and meditation classes as part of the Arcadia’s ‘New Horizons’ programme, while the gym has all of the latest fitness equipment with the bonus of sweeping sea views.
Guests can also choose from a range of sports facilities, including a sports court (great for racquet or football) and a golf driving range. Depending on the cruise ship schedule, there are occasionally organised sports tournaments for short tennis, football, volleyball, basketball and cricket.
We thought of checking out the Arcadia, as she sails around the world at seemingly reasonable fares, in order to have a base to judge her appeal for some months. Good that we did, as we did not like the overall impression. It started with the check-in, which was slow and ‘massive’.
When on board, we were recommended to go to the Lido deck, the ‘Belvedere’ to have lunch or a snack. Not only did we struggle to find some seats, as all the deck in- and outside was packed. Then we found a seat and after some 10 minutes a waiter came to ask: “any drinks?” … not welcome on board, may I help you, or some other niceties, yes you were calibrated to the tone and style of the Belvedere. The ‘waiters’ with the white uniforms and one to 3 stripes did nothing but to check out their staff and were talking with each other – all the cruise long. No welcome words to the passengers with notable exceptions. … The waiter then took our order, after delivering the drinks menu and served, after some ten minutes again, the bottle of chardonnay, with plastic glasses. We refused to drink out of these and the waiter then took another 5 minutes to bring some real glasses. The wine was good but for some 18 pound St.+ you would expect a decent drop.
The food, all self service of course, note: the waiters were only there to clear the tables and ask for drinks, possibly. The waiters clearing tables, had to wear blue most unappealing rubber gloves. Large buffet style servings reminding us more of mass university style food halls, all ok but not presented with any finesse nor ‘love’. Roasts, English style, potatoes, chips, some rice dishes and stews and a few other servings, every day, lunch and evening the same loveless concoctions. The desert glass cabinet had some small fruit tartlets, vanilla- and chocolate puddings and boring cream tarts, far away from any great Austrian cakes or deserts. We only checked it out once more and passed by a few other times to confirm the lack of variety. All very, very ordinary.
The coffee out of theses huge machines, one type of mug only, tasted as expected, watery, flavourless and sad. Real milk was unavailable, only the skim type. Juices and tap-water again out of plastic coming from big dispensing machines.
Not correct to say that all food was substandard, the dining room offerings were very good whilst no high quality gourmet style, but enjoyable. The waiters, mostly all Indian, did quite a good job and after our complaint of being seated where we did not like, we ignored the seating saga and were looked after by Pio Cardozo the head waiter, experienced and gentle. Once we got to know the waiters, we enjoyed the service.
When arriving at our cabin, we noticed that the deck was not cleaned, the next day it was better, however, it was not that nice to sit there at discoloured and unclean planks. Otherwise the room was in good order and at A1xx ‘deluxe balcony’, we would have liked some bathrobes and slippers, no luck in this grade it seamed. Bathroom amenities were also ordinary being in sink with the overall impression of the P&O motto of British mass appeal.
Leaking ceilings for a few days in the hall close to the piano bar, permanent dryers in the charming Crows Nest were not that confidence building but things can happen. Service at the Crows Nest was also poor and long waits were normal. We did not like the drinks being measured too small and after bringing this to the notice of the waiter we received half a nimble more. The bar tender, we saw from the side, was unhappy and re-measured again, but the second time it was better and more adequate, considering the high prices on board, not commensurate with the service.
The gym was reasonably big, but 3 out of the four exercise bikes were not functioning. The ladies in the spa, as there was nobody in the gym, did not know and promised to pass the message on to the gym boys, it was not fixed. Gym-cleanliness borderline.
Service in general in the bars after the show was always slow, what reason is there complaining on holidays, we just mention it as this was unexpected.
The shows in the Palladium Theatre were good, taste-wise not necessarily for the majority of the cruise participants. The stand up comedian was for the UK clientele only, other English speaking persons would likely not understand. The other music offerings, with the exception of the superb pianist who was also the mini orchestra chief, were nice, but just about that.
All in all, P&O UK’s Arcadia was for us a big ship with a very ordinary appeal, we would give it 3 stars in most categories, the Belvedere would not deserve more than one. Perhaps our mistake was to cruise with Oceania and Crystal beforehand.
Great relaxing holiday had a wonderful steward and butler although the majority of the passengers were elderly still was great Looking forward to booking another cruise soon
After cruising for a month from Sydney towards Southhampton onboard the fantastic Arcadia we approached the Gulf of Aden. Much to the delight of my security conscious husband we were escorted by two Navy Frigates one English the other Italian for a day and a night our guardians protected our sea
lane .During the night the obliging crew offered night vision binoculars to scan the glassy moonlight horizon for any sign of pirates!
None ! That didn't detract from the excitment of sailing The Gulf Of Aden .
Two lower beds convertible to a king-size bed
Bathroom with full-size whirlpool bath, dual sink vanity unit, WC and separate shower
Wardrobes and drawer space
Two seater sofa, two chairs and table
Vanity unit/writing desk
TV, DVD player and radio
Safe, hairdryer and refrigerator
Tea/coffee making facilities
Slippers and bathrob
Direct dial telephone
Balcony with two loungers, two chairs and a table
Ironing board and trouser press
You will find the Orchid Bar at the highest point of the ship - Sky Deck. You can reach it using the midships lifts, including the exterior lifts that travel down the port and starboard side of Arcadia. As you enter this colonial style bar you are welcomed by an array of drawings and paintings created by Martin Williams, which form a travelogue of journeys through Asia, and a warming palette of orange and reds, vibrant fabrics, wood veneer and woven cane furniture. This narrow bar occupies an impressive vantage point over the Neptune Pool and out to the ocean beyond. As the sunsets and warm ambient light pours into the room, you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink before dining on the most wonderful Asian cruisine in the nearby Orchid Restaurant, or stop by later for a post-dinner drink.