P&O Cruises

3 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


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Date of travel

January, 2017

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Reasons for trip

Family holiday

Southampton to Singapore ’17. Heaven or Hell?

Arcadia is a quiet, comfortable ship…like an old armchair (though a little tatty in places).
Overall, the dining experience was good (Belvedere excluded).
Entertainment; this particular Headliners Company were exceptional.
Some wonderful ports of call Alotau, San Francisco, Napier, Nha Trang, Singapore.
No fighting for deck chairs on Arcadia…acres of space.
Service was uniformly excellent throughout.
Dance hosts Brenda & Jeffrey converted many non-dancers. Superb.
Quiet ship, everyone in bed early…little to do after the theatre show.

No meaningful second entertainment / cabaret venue.
Due to the above, the ship was quiet from 9.30pm (i.e. post theatre).
Areas of the ship had plumbing issues and smelled foul throughout the 12 week cruise. (Mid-ships next to the shops particularly affected).
Excessive use of smoke effect (mist) in the theatre. Universally slated and booed by the viewing public and artistes alike.
The ship needs an overhaul not just an engine refit. Extremely dated.
Too many quizzes, day and night. Cheap and cheerful? No, just cheap!
If we want a quiz we go to our local. Not what we hoped for on a world tour.

Dining 3/5
The Meridian Restaurant delivered a good (not great) selection of food served warm (rarely if ever hot). The levels of service were influenced by variables such as the waiting team, distance of your table from the galley, dramas in the kitchen etc. Given the length of the cruise there was inevitable repetition of menus. Unfortunately, these menus nearly always read better than the delivery! Comparable with banquet catering served at say, a family wedding rather than a fine dining experience. None the less, the Meridian (main dining room) would score 4/5.

The Belvedere buffet was another story. The choice, quality and presentation of food was mediocre to poor. Even by P&O’s moderate standards this ‘restaurant’ left a lot to be desired. With the possible exception of Curry Night, this place should be avoided if possible. Score 2/5. Hence the overall dining score of 3/5.

Sindhu, P&O’s Asian fine dining restaurant seemed to attract mixed views; rather like Marmite! We don’t like Marmite so 2/5. The Ocean Grill (by day the ship’s officers mess, by night Marco Pierre White’s fine dining experience) was incredibly popular, with generally good to excellent reviews. Whether this popularity was due to the need to utilise the copious on-board spending money to be found on a World Cruise or, truly reflected the quality of food and service on offer might be debated. In our opinion, it is not as good as say The Epicurean Restaurant on Azura/Ventura where the extra charge is double that for The Ocean Grill. None the less, in terms of food quality, service and value for money it rates 4/5.

Dining room dress code
Interesting! At the start of the cruise, Southampton to say San Francisco, there were typically three formal nights each week… too many. As the passenger mix changed around the Pacific rim (many more Australians joined the ship), formal nights were reduced to one per week. The Aussies were welcome for any number of reasons and ruffled a few feathers with their ideas on formal wear! What’s wrong with a dash of colour and a hairy leg?

Room Service was generally good to excellent. Of course it was somewhat limited in choice when compared to the restaurant however it was cooked to order, often hot and for the most part, delivered on time. Please note, some items were chargeable. In our experience, this is probably the only way to get warmish toast on board. 4/5.

Cafe Vivo, tucked away in the dark, no doubt as an afterthought of the ship’s architect; was illuminated by excellent staff who brought sunshine to it’s customers. Much too small and poorly positioned. 4/5.

Entertainment 2/5

P&O offers a largely British cruising experience. None the less, on this a World cruise, the passenger profile was truly mixed and included Brits, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Americans, amongst many others.

Given the above passenger profile, the entertainment was not surprisingly geared towards British Commonwealth tastes.

It is not so long since P&O Cruise Directors proudly introduced their entertainment team of sixteen staff. On this cruise (a world cruise) the now Entertainment Manager introduced his team of six. A sign of the times?

Headliners Theatre personnel were excellent on this cruise. From memory, they presented nine different shows all of which we had seen on previous cruises; each of these enjoyed their third showing during our 82 days on board Arcadia. Some might call this repetitive.

Guest entertainers (the usual suspects) were largely flown out to join the ship and varied in standard. For example, an “alternative comedian” who normally performs in a late night show lounge / night club venues on Arcadia’s sister ships found himself starring at Arcadia’s theatre. A poor fit, but little choice really since there is no alternative showroom / cabaret venue (see Cinema notes below). Local entertainers / cultural performers were also engaged as the ship moved from continent to continent.

The Globe, a 200 seater utility room is used for dancing (users complain that the floor is much too small with tensions often mounting between sequence and ballroom dancers as they vie for space), classical recitals, occasional musical ‘jams’ featuring the ships orchestra and other in-house musicians.

Bars/Lounges. There is music of some description in each of the bars and lounges as the same in-house musicians play their own brand of musical chairs and rotate venues each evening throughout the crews. No criticism of the musicians; however extensive their repertoire, some performances became tedious and repetitive over our twelve weeks on board. Drinks prices are comparable with pubs at home and do not carry the 15% service charge (added to the bill for your convenience) as seen on many American lines.

The Retreat, another small, utilitarian facility is primarily used for ballroom, sequence or line dancing, either for lessons during the day, or, as an alternative to The Globe during the evening. The Retreat is much smaller than The Globe, therefore far from ideal.

Guest speakers were shipped out (from the UK) on a regular basis and once again varied in attractiveness dependent on your taste. Most notably, Eric (Knocker) Knowles, Wayne Sleep and Lord Michael Howard offered lectures on their chosen subjects and life in general. Listed like this it sounds varied and interesting however in reality, the overall quality of the speakers lacked sparkle. As an aside, does Mr Knowles reside permanently on cruise ships? We have seen him perform on four previous cruises in the past couple of years.

The Ocean Room is a multi-purpose facility busy delivering art, crafts and card lessons by day but, idle at night. Could be better utilised as a revenue earning second venue after dark.

Service 5/5

The service throughout the ship was uniformly excellent, particularly the reception. Often receiving the brunt of complaints from frustrated passengers we witnessed the reception staff defuse potentially difficult circumstances. Dragana and Sandra were outstanding. 5/5.

Cabin 3/5

The deluxe balcony cabin on D deck was both comfortable and serviceable, if a little tired in places. Previous cruiser’s mishaps on the room carpets and soft furnishings were permanent and there for all to see. The decor and layout is now dated with the ludicrously positioned bed lamps the butt of many visiting comedians. Constant warnings about the frailties of the toilet system seemed to be heeded by the guests. Our cabin’s w.c. backed up only once during the nearly three month cruise. The balcony and balcony furniture (2 x deck chairs, 1 x leg stool, 1 x service table) were also a little tired. The cabin stewards worked extremely hard to keep the room in good order and they are to be commended. The air-conditioning, whilst in theory adjustable, was fierce. Anecdotally, several passengers we met claimed to seek medical advice for sore throat/chest infections citing the air-con.

Shore Excursions 4/5

Normally we steer clear of these due to overpricing and generally being poor value for money. Somewhat different on the World Cruise it seems, with P&O upping their game considerably…on most occasions. Interesting itineraries, informative tour guides, great lunches when included, bottled water available on many tours etc. Even allowing for the exotic nature of the ports of call; in our opinion and to our surprise, most tours genuinely rated 4/5.

Cinema 1/5

What a waste of space with only thirty seats some of which remained unserviceable and unavailable throughout the cruise. Previewing at the cinema tonight – shown in the cabin tomorrow night. The cinema, Cafe Vivo, Ocean room should be converted as one to a much bigger day time craft/arts/card room but convertible to a second venue/showroom at night. Cafe Vivo could be easily moved further aft where coffee is already served.

In Summary

We thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary and we made some good friends on board. The food and entertainment were inevitably repetitive and it felt like we were on six separate back to back cruises rather than one unique adventure. For us, the ship was tired and badly in need of its facelift due for late 2017. This was disappointing. P&O unashamedly market their Arcadia product and on-board services towards a more mature clientele. As a 63 year old, I can say that there is nothing wrong with age and experience however, do be aware that in comparison to other ships Arcadia (on a world cruise at least) is very quiet from 10.00pm onwards.


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