P&O Arcadia Adults Only Cruise Ship
P&O UK has a fleet of 8 ships. Their homeport is in Southhampton, England. P&O also has an Australian division sailing out of Sydney with 5 different ships. Of P&O’s eight British ships, 3 are for adults only including the Arcadia on which we joined one leg of a world cruise. People taking the full cruise round trip from Southhampton had a voyage of about 4 months crossing the Pacific and Atlantic oceans twice each. Our leg of the cruise lasted three weeks from Valparaiso, Chile to Sydney, Australia. About half the passengers on the ship changed over in Chile, with the majority of those disembarking in Sydney. Along the way some who had boarded prior to Chile disembarked in Auckland, New Zealand and new passengers boarded there. Unlike shorter cruises where everyone embarks and disembarks at the same place, on world cruises different people are aboard for all sorts of different durations.
The ship had a display with info about the history of P&O and information about each of their 8 UK ships. On this sign it said the ship holds 2094 passengers and 866 crew. Of the crew about half work in food, whether cooking it, serving it, or making sure it all gets done. A quarter of the others take care of the cleaning end of things, both staterooms and public areas. Which leaves a quarter of the crew for all the other jobs combined.
Arcadia is a midsize ship, the largest of P&O’s ships classified as midsize and 4th largest in their fleet of 8. It is one of 3 ships they have designated for adults only along with the Oriana and Adonia. Arcadia began service in 2005. The ship is 951.1 feet long, 105.6 feet wide, and powered by 6 diesel engines. It has 11 passenger decks, most with cabins, but several with public areas only. Commissioned originally for Holland America, during the building process it was switched first to Cunard and then to P&O so the ship has same hull design as some Holland America ships and same style funnel as Cunard.
Some things about the Arcadia remind me of Holland America’s Veendam, like the small atrium that only opens up 3 stories. The glass elevators on the outsides of the ship and the hydrotherapy pool look just like the Westerdam, which is the same ship class as the Arcadia. The cabin was also just like what we had on Westerdam. Funny that it reminds me of Veendam as well since they are not same class of ship as each other. Perhaps Veendam comes to mind because the sculpture in the hydrotherapy pool area looks something like a miniature of Veendam’s atrium sculpture.
We were quite impressed when we first walked into our cabin and saw a full tea service sitting on the desk. Each stateroom on all their ships has an electric tea pot and a container of tea bags, instant coffee, sweetener packets, biscuits (cookies) and some little sealed containers of milk for people to put in their coffee or tea. Because that’s what the English and Australians use – milk, not cream. The box had just one flavor of tea, but that was easily remedied by bringing back a selection from the Lido deck where they had a better selection, all Twinings brand. There was no hot chocolate in the room or available at breakfast or during the daytime, but they had hot chocolate packets on the Lido with their late night snacks, which could be brought to the cabin for later use. Funny thing about the outlets, they had just one British style outlet, but three American ones. There was also one other with a different voltage than either the one with the teapot or the American type.
The ship never seemed crowded until I tried to go to the gym one morning. That’s when I found out where all the people went. I could hardly walk through it, heading to the one open treadmill, which I soon found out was open only because it didn’t work. I never tried using the gym again other than attending a couple of their free exercise classes.
I went down to the promenade deck instead, which circles around the outside of the ship on deck 3 and joined in with the people walking or jogging around the ship most mornings. Literally walking or jogging around the ship. A sign said 3 laps = 1 mile. It’s a British ship so I’m not sure why it gave the distance in miles rather than kilometers. (Apparently learning new things can come from blogging as well as traveling. A British commenter said they use miles there.) Another sign said Walk This Way, with an arrow. I couldn’t help but think of Aerosmith and their song Walk This Way whenever I saw that sign.
They had deck chairs around the inner edge in some of the wider areas and in one section on each side, tables and chairs. My first morning jogging there I saw a crew guy at the starboard tables and didn’t think much of it until the next lap around when suddenly there were ash trays on the tables and people smoking. Having a smoking area where people are trying to exercise seems counterproductive. Work out or die trying? After that I tried to get out there early enough to get finished before anyone started smoking so I wouldn’t have to leave before I was done to avoid going past them. Arcadia allows outside smoking in designated areas on several outside decks and no indoor smoking.
Arcadia has launderetts on 3 floors, with a row of 3 stacking washers & dryers and one ironing board in each. Unlike any other ship I’ve been on that had self-serve passenger laundries, these machines don’t take coins or cards – they are free to use. They did not have soap vending machines in the laundries so anyone not bringing their own soap had to go buy some from the ship’s shops. Launderettes are a bonus on any ship, and especially nice on one which generally takes long cruises as this one does. Though it can sometimes be a challenge to find an open machine, it sure beats paying the price of having the crew do your laundry for you. It’s also far more convenient than trying to hand wash things in the cabin and then find enough space for them to dry on the tiny clothesline in the shower.
The ship has a number of places people can go to entertain themselves. It has a couple pools, several hot tubs, and plenty of deck chairs. There’s a small movie theater inside that changes movies daily and has quite a few showtimes throughout the day. Shuffleboard and deck quoits games are painted on the deck, and the equipment to play them provided. Most of the day they are open to play as you wish, but there are daily scheduled game times for official competition. Other competitions included Wii bowling, trivia games, and bingo. The ship provides other entertainment too including shows in the main theater each night and a couple lectures on a variety of subjects each seaday.
Music plays in different venues throughout the day and each night brings entertainment in the main theater. The entertainment staff had dance lessons and Spanish classes as well as bridge lessons each day. The gym offered fitness classes, some free and some with an extra charge. The ship also had plenty of bars and shops so people could always find something to do.
Food is almost always available somewhere. The buffet is open most of the time, the grill from late morning to early evening, the dining room at meal and tea time. Two specialty restaurants open for dinner, and a coffee shop is open most of the day where the sweets come free with purchase of tea or coffee. Of course passengers could also order room service whenever they wished, with some room service menu items offered free.
To help people find their way around each elevator bay has a you-are-here diagram of the ship and deck plan for the particular deck you are on. The carpeting is a different color on the front, mid, and aft stairways. Each stairway has a different style artwork between levels as well. The deck numbers are too small for a lot of people to see from the stairway, but if you remember which artwork hangs by the elevator on your floor or on the stairways near it then you can find your deck without needing to go look at the tiny number on the diagrams.
Most of the ship’s 11 passenger decks are named for places around the world, which is probably fitting for a ship that sails around the world.
Deck 11 at the top of the ship is called the Sky deck. Deck 10 is the sun deck and deck 9 the Lido. Below that you find the ones named after places with Deck 8 called Australia, deck 7 Bermuda, deck 6 Canada, deck 5 Dominica, deck 4 Egypt, deck 3 Promenade (which is not a place, but there is an outside promenade running around the entire deck), deck 2 Florida, deck 1 Grenada, and the A deck, where passengers would go only for the medical facility or tender disembark is called Antigua.
Out of all those places the only ones we haven’t been to are Egypt and Bermuda, and we do have a cruise booked that stops in Bermuda. Most of the decks named for places had hallway art from the place they were named for. There was a photo from Alaska on Canada deck though. My daughter who lives in Australia said many Aussies don’t think of Alaska as part of the USA, so perhaps the Brits don’t think so either.