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Friday, 14 June 2013

PO Arcadia Caribben April 2013

Arcadia J302 Cruise Review

The cruise
A  24 night Southampton to Southampton cruise to the Caribbean, calling at Ponta Delgada, Antigua, Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados and Horta

The Ship
Soon to have a major refit, with the introduction of single cabins etc. I think the old girl is begining to show her age, as in port alongside other ships, she did look a bit tatty on the outside. 

The weather 
Once we had left the calm waters of Southampton ,the sea swell was high, and continued that way until we reached Ponta Delgada 3 days later, as I said in my blog, I have not known it last that long on any cruise we had done before. After leaving Ponta Delgada, the weather steadily improved, and the sea calmed. The weather around the islands was typical Caribbean, very hot, with showers. The return trip has been much better with flat seas, although the Captain did say when we left Horta that conditions were going to deteriorate, so if it does get lively, I will let you know.
Unusually for us, we only went to see two of their shows, as I have said many times before, the shows do get repetitive, year after year. They were an OK troupe, but I personally did not "click" with them, but that's probably me rather than them.
One of our favourite pastimes but no wins for this cruise, they also seemed to repeat the format every few days, there also seemed to be less quizzes in the day.
I can only assume that it is very popular, but Karaoke seemed to have been in the Rising Sun a lot lot more than I remember from previous cruises.
The Village Fete seems to have been a hit, Sue said it was heaving around the Neptune Pool. I did not attend as I was laid up in the cabin with the ships cough. 
We did not see any of the speciality acts, with the exception of The Beatles Experience, who were OK, nor attend any talks, so unable to comment. 
One of our favourite pastimes of an evening ( in the warm weather ) was just to sit under the stars on the aft deck with a drink in hand PERFECT .

They have run some very recent films in the afternoon in the theatre, which has been good for sea days. I have never understood the logic in Arcadia's last major refit when a cinema was installed with 30 odd seats for a ship that holds C2000 passengers 

As always P&O's greatest asset, but I do feel that some of them are being pushed to the limit workwise. This, plus my observations below, IMHO is P&O trying to minimise costs in what must be a very competitive market place. ( Also I don't like the new biscuits )

Ports of call
With the exception of Tortola and Horta, we had been to the other ports before. I think we both fell in love with Tortola, but all the islands have their own character, and if you have never been to the Caribbean, you don't know what you're missing and it really is a must see. Some say, when you have seen one island you have seen them all, but it's an argument I do not agree with. 

As always the food in the MDR was OK if not a bit repetitive, with a lot more offal on the menus ( never seen tongue before ) . But on the whole I would class it as uninspiring but adequate. On three evenings we ate at the buffet in the belvedere, all three occasions it was Indian cuisine, and I have to say, it was jolly good, and a nice change from the MDR.
We also ate twice in the Ocean Grill ( both menus ). Both Sue and I agreed, that we prefer the menu that has the salt marsh lamb on ( not for Sue of course). The belvedere for breakfast and lunch was OK, we did use the Neptune Grill for lunch, and also the sandwiches there.

Some things I have never seen on a P&O cruise before
Face cloths in the cabin with holes
Towels in cabin, where it was obvious they had seen better days, 
Cracks in mugs in the Belvedere
Cracks in dessert bowls in the Belvedere
Stains on table cloths in MDR
Having to order your dessert at the beginning of the meal
And the above were not a"one off"

Did we enjoy the cruise ? YES SIR, things I would have liked to have changed ? Well the first three days of weather, and catching the "cruise cough ".
I think the P&O product is changing, but nowadays we are in a very competitive market so it has to with a squeeze on margins etc. Still we can't think that it's that bad as we booked 2 for 2014 whilst on board.
But we are about to try Fred Olsen, so P&O beware

Until the next time