P&O Arvia – Far better than we expected.
Paul Johnson | September 25, 2023 | P&O Cruises | Arvia
First the negative bit. Skip this bit if you like but its a sage reminder that the world is a fairly corrupt place. We booked a park and stay hotel with Holiday Extras, Holiday Inn Eastgate in Southampton. The day before I had rang up the hotel and told them the time we would arrive at the hotel… midnight… they told me no problem they have 24hour Reception and will be happy to welcome you then. We actually arrived at the hotel a little earlier than expected at 22:00. Only to be told that they didn’t have a room for us! In fact what had happened is that a wedding party was having a reception in the hotel and they needed another room so we were bumped out of ours. To add insult to injury they hadn’t even bothered to try and find us alternate accommodation or even contact us to inform us we no longer had a room there. They had our money all £234 of it for many many months. After a discussion they began to try and find us somewhere else… Southampton was completely full and half an hour later they eventually found us a fairly run down alternate hotel in Farnham half an hours drive away. This is the second time we have been dumped out of somewhere having booked through Holiday Extras… a trend forming. Anyway, on with the good stuff.
Smooth as you like, we turned up 20 minutes before we should have done and after dropping our bags at the 17th floor conveyer belt we were ushered through to check in. No queue whatsoever, we immediately checked in and were given our cruise cards. No more than 10 minutes after arriving at the port we were onboard. Could not have been smoother.
First impressions was that it looked superb. and generally it was. It was perhaps a little narrower and longer than other cabins we had been in but still very nice. The bathroom felt very airy. The shower and the bathroom felt larger than usual. The bed was huge and comfortable. There was a sofa and a little table to put the drinks. Plenty of plugging in options too. The balcony was deeper than those on Britannia as well. A couple of design foibles. No drawer space, the wardrobes were next to the bed and the space between the bed and wardrobe meant we had to take it in turns to access it when dressing. The TV isnt in front of the bed and only just in front of the settee. Its also not on a bracket so cannot be angled to face either. It didnt really matter but we just thought it a bit oddly placed. Good cabin though and well maintained. One thing to note. The balcony is always shaded due to the upper deck overhanging it. Its not looked into though. There was a little noise around 7.30 as the crew put out the sunbeds but it was only slight and only lasted about 3 or 4 minutes.
Looks stunning just about everywhere. The open deck areas seemed huge, lots of levels from deck 16 to deck 18 with the odd extra level inbetween. Then there was also a lot of sunbed and seating space on the promenade deck too… Unlike most ships the promenade deck does feel like somewhere you can sunbathe and spend all day on. Lots and lots of hot tubs and pools too. We never actually sussed out how many pools there were (at least 5 I think, 2 of which are infinity ones).
The layout inside was easy to navigate everything was on decks 8,7,6 and the gym was on 5 and yes we did often use the gym. We really enjoyed the novel way they had done the shops, it was like walking through a bazaar, one shop leading to the next, it made it far more interesting than the usual separate shops around the main atrium. We loved the layout, days after boarding we were still finding new places and things inside. The entertainment venues were also great. The main Theatre is state of the art and the shows spectacular. The lounge at the opposite end was more restrained.. but was ok. Our fave though was the 710 club.. we loved that small intimate venue. Bars were plentiful, our fave being Andersons. Just as on the outside decks we could always find somewhere to sit in one of them despite being 5300 passengers on board.
This was the best thing about the ship for us. The App worked well, we only had one problem when we were bumped from a virtual queue without being asked to our table, but we sorted that by talking to that venues Maitre D who had us at a table within 15 minutes from that point. We loved being able to eat in so many different venues. It was like staying in a town rather than a ship where we could pick and choose what we did, a very adult way of doing things and a step away from the ‘butlins’ that sometimes it can feel like on a ship. Food quality was also a step up from our last P&O cruise too. Overall we think that Green & Co and Cow & Keel were our two fave venues whilst the biggest let down was the Epicurean, the tables for two are far too close together, zero privacy. and an amouse bouche and table scraping does not make it fine dining. We occasionally eat at Michelin star restaurants for a treat.. and the closest thing on the ship to that is Green & Co… not the rather dated in style Epicurean. We will not be eating in that one again.
As mentioned the stage shows were spectacular, regardless of liking the music or not it always felt like we had seen something worth seeing. At leat 4 comedians were onboard from time to time.. we saw a couple of them, Tucker was ok but we had seen him before a few times so new
the act. The other one we watched in the lounge bar and he corpsed. poor lad. Tough crowd. The magician /illusionist tried a darren brown style stage show… it was ok, he didnt quite pull it off to DB level but a fair attempt. The guest speakers were very good. Our fave entertainment was in 710 club.. this was intimate and wonderful. hard to get in though. The quizzes had proper questions that were hard enough to make attending a quiz worthwhile without being impossible to get right. We never tried the Limelight club or the submarine thing whatever that is. There was something going on all around the ship. So much that it wasnt possible to do everything. They also did a few shows in the Skydome, we tried attending a few but the echoey nature of the venue put us off.
Ports of Call:
La Caruna, was terrific as ever, this time we visited the small fort near the ship. a couple or 3 euros in.. lots of value for money with many British Museum worthy exhibits inside. followed by tapas and beer/wine in town.
Valencia, dropped off at the modern museums and walked into the old town. We made an error and should have just stuck with visiting the Oceanography museum… it was a long walk into town on a hot day and in the end we didn’t appreciate what we did see due to the heat. Had a sandwich and sangria from the market which was really nice.
Barcelona, first day did a walk about, visited medieval cathedral had tapas, and generally searched around the old town. 2nd day we did a ships trip up to Monserrat Monastery, which was a great value splendid trip out. We recommend it.
Cadiz, Again and unusually for us, we did a ships trip… this time to visit a few villages in Andalusia, we enjoyed it but best bit was a sherry brewery visit. It was ok.
Much improved offering from P&O. We really enjoyed how it felt as if we were in control of our own holiday. The ship is beautiful, the food generally good. The entertainment sometimes spectacular. Our cabin was also excellent and the location suited us.
We would say though that many cabins have particular circumstances that somne people will not like so would recommend studying the deck plans and asking questions about particular cabins… some are overlooked, some are on the promenade deck and some dont have a view at all. So be careful going saver fare..we did and got lucky. We have already booked another cruise on her and have gone select fare.
The Atlantic Islands from Southampton on board Ventura
We sailed on Azura back in 2017 as a family of 4, recently sailed on Iona 2022 and Arvia 2023.… Read more
Fred Olsen Bolette
FO Bolette is a lovely ship and very different from others we have been on. Loved the Garden and Oriental… Read more
Our first time with P & O and will probably be our last . Staff not trained in curtesy towards… Read more
Arvia – very good!
Three weeks from Southampton, via the Canaries, to the Caribbean: what could be better!! We sailed on Arvia's ill-fated Christmas… Read more
Arcadia cruise November 2023
Terrible cruise, Noravirus on ship when we boarded and got worse.Toilets stopped flushing on four occasions and had to receive… Read more