Stephen Westerby | October 27, 2014 | P&O Cruises | Arcadia
My wife and I recently returned from part of the 2014 world cruise on Arcadia, Los Angeles to Auckland. The last time we were aboard the Arcadia was when she was almost new, on a New Years Eve Cruise from Acapulco. Probably the worst and most anti social cruise we’d been on not to mention the number of time we were offered cheese sandwiches (and variants of these) on a very uncomfortable outbound Thompson flight (plus other carriers) during the early hours of the night/morning. For those who had been on those flights and cruise it will bring back some unpleasant memories. Part of the reason for the anti socialness on board we believe was down to the fact there was no Atrium ( no focal point). The number of disparaging on line blogs after the cruise about this topic on this and other cruises was unbelievable and she was taken in for a refit shortly afterwards to correct.
Now she boasts an atrium and has been recently refitted. General quality of the ship was very good and although a few years old now is still in good condition throughout. As ever the service, quality of food and accommodation is excellent. BUT this is what you expect from P & O. However what is lacking is that little extra special effort. If excellent is the norm for P & O we, and others, found nothing extra from the staff, the food or accommodation except for 2 waitresses/wine waitresses who were still providing that little extra service and politeness and deserved recommendation which were given. However every year we sail with P & O we find that a little something is missing or has been removed. This year its the silver service in the Meridian restaurant. Does its demise detract from the quality of the food or the service? Well no but its just another one of those cost cutting standard from Carnival that you miss. There’s no question you couldn’t ask for more food if there wasn’t enough on the plate, but its not the same. Since Carnival took over some years ago the ships are becoming much the muchness. P & O was always traditionally British with British standards and that little extra something. Now their becoming like their American counterparts in other shipping lines, probably because P & O are now owned by them and to keep costs down unifying operations.
In the past we have had great cabin stewards but on this cruise, whilst very pleasant, being left with no soap on 1 night, cabin not made up until late evening on another, one night he came to turn the beds down at 19:00 knowing we were on second sitting and the traditional bed time chocolate occasionally missing, amongst other small bits and bobs, he didn’t get our votes or tip! Speaking of which they are added to your on board but you can opt out of them. Just go to the customer relations desk and ask.
We thought the journey from LA to Tahiti would be long and arduous at 9 days before making land but it past all too quickly with much to do on board and we were sad to leave her in Auckland.
The satellite internet was frequently off line and a number of passengers lost a lot of money when they had bought internet packages but couldn’t use it all before disembarking because of the connection problems. There are no refunds for unused internet time even though it wasn’t the passengers fault. One of the reason given to me, which I found very bizarre was they were blaming the floods in the UK. Considering they are trying to connect to a satellite in the sky where does the UK floods come into this????? Some of us are technically minded. Thankfully I was a PAYG customer.
The journey back had a problem at Auckland Airport whereby we were only allowed to take on board 7kgs of hand luggage. this wasn’t a problem with the outbound BA flight to LA. These are NZ rules apparently not an airline issue. We were NOT told about them and had to strip the bags down on the airport floor. The check in girl was more than helpful though. P & O ( and dare I say it Bolsover) could have informed us in the literature sent or even in the daily newspapers. The Cathay flight to HK was OK but longer than thought at 10.5 hrs, then a 2 hour layover at HK and a 13.5Hr flight on BA home to Heathrow. Although we have done long haul numerous times before but at literally 24 hours flying time this was by far the longest journey undertaken and would not recommend it without at least 1 day stop over in HK, Dubai, Singapore or similar depending on the route. The jet lag when we got home was horrendous and lasted for some days.
The highlight of the holiday for us was a trip called ‘The Aqua Safari’ at Bora Bora. For this you get taken by speed boat to another boat anchored off-shore, wear a helmet with an air line attached and basically taken to the seabed to feed the fishes at around 12′ below. The helmets are big enough for you to wear your glasses, there are divers down there with you, you don’t even need to be able to swim, snorkel or scuba dive. Someone is also down there taking photos of you ( the pictures are a little expensive) but I also took a camera in a waterproof pouch and managed to take video. Its one of those chances in a lifetime that you’ll probably never do again; terrific!!!!
We met great friends on-board, there were excellent shows performed by the regular theatre company and acts such as the ‘Opera Boys’ although some of the other acts were a little poor but by and large good.
Overall it was a great holiday just marred by few little things and yes we’d do it again, and with P & O. Its just a little sad about some of the traditional quality standards being lost. My comments of the feedback form was if you keep cost cutting you’ll soon be at the standards of Thompson cruises (no offence to Thompson Cruises). There will be others who was on the cruise who thought everything was the best thing since sliced bread and other who thought it dreadful. These were just our views and comparing it to past P & O cruises.
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