Best of the Canaries July 2nd 2006 P&Oís Arcadia, Cruise number J615
Graham & Angela Couch age 44 from Burnley Lancs.
This review covers our experiences aboard the P&O ship Arcadia ports of call were:-
Vigo, Lisbon, Praia De Rocha, Tenerife, La Palma, Madeira, on a 12 day cruise
We joined our ship at Southampton on a Sunday morning after staying overnight in the nearby Ibis Hotel, (poor breakfast, go to McDonalds across the road) we watched England lose to Portugal in the world cup that afternoon.
This is the first time we have sailed from Southampton we usually join cruises in Palma, so we flew down from Liverpool by Flybe costing £100 ...
for two of us return which isnít bad, a taxi from the airport to the docks was £20, there is a checker taxi desk just next to the exit in the airport they will book you a car and agree a price before you go, I recommend this company. Also Flybe will allow 50Kg of luggage which is the highest in the industry; if it is a two week cruise you will need this!!Read More
The staff at P&O were very helpful and organised when we arrived, and immediately took our cases through a chute for boarding, we then queued for about ten minutes as there were 1900 people to process as the cruise was sold out and we were early, so we stayed in a waiting area which was like a airport lounge for about 30 minutes until they called our ticket number, there were drinks available and it was very comfortable, security checks are very strict at this point as well.
After boarding we were taken to our cabin by a steward, the Arcadia is a big ship. 84,000 tons, so we were apprehensive about getting about, but there was no need, it is easy to navigate, just a lot of walking. Our cabin was spotless, and because the Arcadia is only 1 year old it was as new, the Steward Mathias kept it absolutely pristine throughout the cruise, we were on E deck, with a window but restricted view, beware it is a very restricted view as well, there was a lifeboat right up to the window and we couldnít see anything, except light, but this didnít really bother us.
I will go through the good and bad points of the ship later.
First day, sailing out of Southampton was brilliant, we sailed down Southampton water on a beautiful afternoon into the Solent and then to the Channel heading for our first port of call, Vigo in Portugal. We actually followed Artemis out of the dock; it was on its way to the med.
Vigo is a large city with parks on the top of the hill in the centre, it is very hilly so be prepared, most shops donít open till late so take you time getting there as it is very sleepy until ten ish. The walk up to the gardens is recommended but it is hell of a climb, the views however are spectacular, but apart from a shop thatís about it really. I recommend also that you book an excursion here as there is little to do in town except shop. P&O also provided a shuttle here from the port to town as they do on all ports of call.
Lisbon the capital of Portugal is a very large city with lots of squares, shops and monuments, so be careful of the usual hazards that you have in all cities, beggars, bag snatchers etc, although we experience no pickpockets or bag snatchers beggars are plentiful, there are some delightful places to see here and there a little trams that do tours around the city but are very busy and pricey, book an excursion here for the trams this is the best way to see Lisbon.
Praia De Rocha is a typical Portuguese beach resort with tacky shops, bars and English restaurants, beer is cheap though but not the sort of place we like, it is a tender here as well so we had a boat ride there and back, lot of effort, and little reward, beaches are lovely though but thatís about it, if this isnít what you want then stay on the ship or get an excursion.
Tenerife We docked in Santa Cruz, north of the island, the views were spectacular, there are a lot of mountains and wooded hills here and little Lego houses dotted around in between the forests, very beautiful. I believe the excursions here are good as there are some very good views and a trip to a volcano, which is active!! Apart from that a very charming, bustling city with chique shops, restaurants and tree lined streets. I must mention this is where I nearly choked on some chicken in a street cafť, I threw up on my dinner to get the blockage out and happily I am still here, very frightening though.
La Palma again docked in a town called Santa Cruz? This was on a Sunday and most shops were shut for the day, very sleepy, very quiet nothing to see, so either get an excursion or stay on the ship!
Madeira, (Funchal) this was our favourite, Madeira is absolutely beautiful and lush with trees and flowers, there are some very nice restaurants on the front and very good shops. We went on an excursion here which included a sled ride down a very steep hill guided by two men with tyres on their feet, this was an experience you should not miss, Madeira is famous for the sled rides, and have been doing it for 100 years, half way down a man will take your photo and will present it to you in a folder two minutes later?? How they do it I donít know, but for 10 euros it is a nice momento. I thoroughly recommend Madeira and would consider staying here for a while it is so pretty here and very pleasant to stay in.
That is the end of the itinery for this cruise, a bit disappointing as we have stopped at some beautiful, interesting places on other cruises, so we think P&O should drop some of these destinations and re-think the itinery, but that is just our opinion.
The Arcadia the ship is a little over a year old so is very clean and new, it is described as contemporary in the brochure and it is, lots of chrome, steel, wood mirrors, modern art etc, reminds me of a very stylish modern city apartment in design, we cannot fault the cleanliness and order onboard it is absolutely pristine.
The staff though, very helpful but a bit miserable, we have been on other cruises and been bowled over by the friendliness and bubbliness of the crew, I think because it is still young the ship needs to find itself first then maybe it will be better in the future. However, the food was excellent, though a bit rushed in the Meridian in the evenings, the service though was good and the waiters did have some fun with us but nowhere near as mush as we like, we were on the Island Escape last year and had a wonderful, fun time every night, the staff on the Arcadia seem to be scared of letting their hair down a bit and propagating some fun, donít know why! Try the Arcadian Rhodes restaurant, there is a surcharge of £15 each for this but the food and service are outstanding, well worth it.
I could go through all the amenities on board but you can look at this in the brochure or the website they are very accurate in their descriptions, we had very little to complain about on board, the prices of drinks are reasonable, (although a mini can of coke as a mixer is 75p) Stella is £1.50 a pint, and the gift shop is quite cheap as well, good presents available.
Entertainment onboard entertainment was fairly good, there is something for everyone, from digital photography to classes on fears and phobias, try the wine tasting too this is very good if you like wine.
The cabaret entertainment at night was so-so, there are two showings at 8.45 and 10.45 which fits in with your dining and the cast are very professional and are all excellent singers and dancers but, and this is a big but, the themes were poor, they were a bit boring and not very well produced, which is only my opinion of course but on all the other ships I have been on they were much, much better, especially the Island escape which was breathtaking.
There was a comedian onboard called Micky Zany who is very good, but also on one night there were two alternative comedians on, one looking like swampy, who was appalling, where they dug then up from god knows, and the language was colourful as well and totally unnecessary, even though they warn you. P&O wake up, this act was not appropriate on this cruise!!
All in all this was a good cruise, and I would go with P&O again because of the high standards of the ship, although sailing from Southampton is not my preference, and the itinery being poor we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would not hesitate in recommending P&O and the Arcadia. The ship is superb and the staff very helpful if not a tad miserable, but there are some exceptions.
Tour Operator: P&O