Don’t Bother (Arvia)
Lynn Kettell | February 13, 2023 | P&O Cruises | Arvia
Perhaps customers will have a better experience on the Arvia in 6-12 months time when they have ironed out some teething issues (such as the Sky Dome not working in the first week), and the staff know what they are doing.
Having spoken to many passengers during our 2 week cruise on 20/01/23, it was clear that in the month before we sailed, P&O had sold off many cruises for 50%-70% cheaper than we had paid a year earlier for a so-called ‘early-bird’ special rate. The cabins are also very narrow – the smallest we have stayed in on any cruise ship.
Whilst understanding P&O’s desire to pack the cruise with as many passengers as possible, they had not increased the amount of staff employed to cope with the increase. We were regularly told that restaurants and shows were full, but we could see empty tables/seats each time. A member of staff told us unofficially that they only had the staffing capacity to cover three quarters of the passengers. Cabin stewards were regularly seen serving tables in restaurants in the evening, which might explain why there was no turn down service in cabins in the evening.
The new system for booking all meals and shows via a phone App only worked intermittently (as did Wifi generally). We were only able to book one show for the whole 2 weeks and it was cancelled on the day, as the cast were ill (there had been an announcement from the captain that there was an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness earlier that day, so we were told to be extra careful with hygiene).
The standard of food and choice was poor in the Horizon and main restaurants, but very good in the ones you paid extra for (when we were lucky enough to book in).
Many of the previous P&O touches had stopped, e.g. free room service for continental breakfast, or a bottle of water in your cabin. Everything has a price now. Glasses were missing/unavailable in bathrooms and we had to ask at Guest Services for extra toiletries.
The design of the ship means it lacks the ‘wow’ factor. There are two long corridors of shops, that we hardly ever saw people in. One shop sold vintage (second-hand) handbags for four figure sums! The pool is also far too small for 5,200 passengers.
The Retreat has 74 sun beds, however despite being told we would be able to book them on embarkation, we couldn’t. P&O had sold most of them online (during a one hour booking slot we weren’t made aware of) before the cruise for £500 per couple. The remaining slots were sold for £429 per passenger (i.e. £858 per couple) to passengers who arrived on earlier flights than ours.
Arvia is a new ship and therefore clean and comfortable. They are the only positives I can think of. If you can grab a last minute bargain – and I will certainly never book more than a few weeks in advance again – then you shouldn’t be too disappointed, provided you book as many things as possible beforehand.
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