Brilliant mini cruise to Guernsey
Haydn Costin | July 28, 2017 | P&O Cruises | Arcadia
Having sailed on our first cruise on Britannia last year in the Caribbean, thought we’d try a mini cruise as a weekend break and an opportunity to see what the experience of departing on a cruise from Southampton is like. So, our choice of vessel was basically made for us but I was looking forward to trying another ship in the P&O fleet…
The boarding process was a breeze, I think it took us 40 minutes from self-parking the car at the Mayflower terminal to getting in our cabin. We even got fast tracked to check in, which was a nice touch. Not sure why though as we’re not on any loyalty tier yet having only been on the one P&O cruise previously.
Luggage arrived only about 15 mins after we got to the cabin, which allowed us to unpack and get right up to the Aquarius bar to find a spot and have a few drinks in the lovely (but unexpected!) Southampton sunshine. It was very busy in that bar but never difficult to flag down one of the waiting staff and the wait for drinks was not long at all.
Given the duration of the cruise there were lots of hen / 50th / 40th birthday parties and a fair number of stag parties on board; as a result the age group was broad, not dissimilar to our cruise in the Carribbean, with fewer elderly passengers and more of our age, 40s & 50s. Now it’s fair to say that there was a party atmosphere in the Aquarius bar / sun deck and it wasn’t peaceful and quiet – I’m sure it would have been a bit loud for some but we loved the party vibe. It never got out of hand, though.
Now I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, but we also enjoyed the Great British Sailaway on the Saturday up there (although having a few beers definitely helps!)
We were Freedom dining and apart from not reading on the card that you should go to the desk on Deck 3, and as a result queuing on Deck 2 for no reason, we didn’t have to wait at all on the first night when we shared. On the second night, we asked for a table for two and only waited about 20 mins with a pager whilst having a drink. Food was great, the same standard as we remembered from Britannia, including the cooked breakfast in the MDR.
I’ve read that Arcadia is looking tired in the public areas; well, we didn’t see any evidence of that, even though our previous experience was a ship only 18 months old. The only bars other than the one on the sun deck that we tried were the Intermezzo and the Crow’s Nest which we always enjoy. We didn’t get the chance to see any entertainment on this occasion given the brevity of the cruise, plus the main act on Friday, Killer Queen, we’d seen before only last year.
Our cabin steward was good and all the other staff we interacted with were just fine.
We loved the port call at St Peter Port, despite the fact that a tender was needed; there’s no doubt that a port visit where the ship is alongside is by far the best option, but the crew handled the tendering process efficiently and we waited no longer than 15 mins for our number to be called. We waited on the quayside for about 20-30 mins to get the tender back, which was fine and there was water on hand in case it got too warm for anyone.
We didn’t pay for any excursions and did our own thing. St Peter Port is a lovely small town, narrow streets with shops both well-known UK brands and more boutique style. We found a great craft beer bar the Golden Lion, and then wandered over to Castle Cornet where the views were excellent over the town and the bay towards where the ship was docked. To have done it justice though we should have devoted more than the hour we had available, given it costs £10.50 each to get in.
Disembarkation was even easier than embarkation, as soon as we had breakfast we went straight out (they were early calling from the Meridian), and we were in the car by 9:15am.
Overall this was a really fun trip and a great way to spend a weekend away, and sample what Arcadia has to offer. I wouldn’t choose to sail on here for a longer cruise if I’m honest but that’s just down to the fewer select dining choices versus Britannia. The promenade deck is plus, but unlike some other diehard cruisers I’m not about to use this as a primary selection criteria!
Although some of the bathroom fixtures and fittings are a little tired, and the shower hose rusty, it was clean and had loads of storage space. Elsewhere the cabin itself is comfy and had a nice sofa. Whilst there’s loads of cupboard space, the wardrobe was a lot smaller than on Britannia and I wouldn’t want to store 2 weeks’ worth of clothes in it! Not sure if it’s a new thing on P&O but the fridge contained a fully stocked mini bar, which we didn’t have last year. Balcony was way bigger than Britannia but that’s the newer ships for you. It was however in need of a clean outside and the aluminium door frame was a bit tarnished, but it was fine and to be expected of a ship of its age and mileage. The sliding door on Britannia was better than the outward opening door on Arcadia, as well.
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