Arcadia (3) Gallery
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Launched as Sitmar FairMajesty, she was built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique at Saint-Nazaire, France and was originally ordered for Sitmar Cruises but was still being fitted-out when Sitmar was taken over by P&O in 1988, whereupon she was transferred to Princess Cruises as Star Princess.

Star Princess (1989)
63,564 grt; length 810ft; 1,460 passengers
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An official postcard view of Star Princess
Christened by none other than Audrey Hepburn, "Star Princess" entered service in May 1989 and initially retaining her Italian Officers and international crew acquired at the time of the merger with Sitmar, she soon established a respectable reputation and a rating of 4-star plus, cruising mostly from America's west coast.

Then in 1997, she was transferred to P&O Cruises' British fleet to replace the departing and much-loved Canberra.

P&O Cruises had taken delivery of Oriana in 1995 but with the retirement of the popular Canberra in September 1997 and the new Aurora still not due to join the fleet until 2000, Star Princess was transferred as a "stop-gap" measure to make up the numbers in the P&O Cruises fleet.

Renamed Arcadia, she was the third P&O ship to bear the name and it would be this ship that would introduce our friend Anny to cruising and upon which we would travel 3 times over the next 3 years.


An Oriental Odyssey
3rd - 18th March 1999

View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Show Picture Full Size With its interesting kinetic sculpture resembling a Swiss Army Knife, the 3-deck high Atrium was the heart of the ship, with the Main Reception & Tours Office, shops, the Photo Gallery, Tiffany's coffee lounge and the lovely Century Lounge, one of our favourites for evening cocktails. The Atrium was also the venue for the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party.
(left) The 3-deck high Atrium and its kinetic sculpture - rather like a Swiss Army Knife!

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The Atrium
3 decks high
Tiffany's (P Deck 5)
for "Special" Morning Coffee!
Our Formal Portrait
The Century Lounge
E Deck (deck 6)

Tiffanys on the lower-level, or Garden Court, was a bar-lounge where they did liqueur coffees in the morning, not just after dinner. My "special" morning coffee on sea-days soon became a habit!

In the evenings, one of our favourites for pre-dinner cocktails was the Century Lounge, with its sumptuous decor and bronze statuette of Britannia. See Photo of Britannia Statuette >>


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The Pacific Restaurant (Prom Deck 7)
and the Maori War Canoe from SS Canberra
Well-designed in "zones" around the funnel casing
Welcome Dinner Menu
Open Dinner Menu >>
The Conservatory
Self-service Buffet
(tinned fruit-salad!)

Seating around 700 in 2 sittings, the Pacific Restaurant, was well-designed and laid-out. Our Dining Room Stewards were Alex and Elvis, who were friendly and efficient, while our Wine Steward was Vinay. The quality of food and presentation was generally good, if unremarkable, but there was always a good menu choice, with all the popular British favourites. See more menus at Arcadia Menus >>

By contrast, the Conservatory self-service buffet was pleasant enough for breakfast but busy and crowded at lunch-times and its food was strictly "cafeteria standard", including tinned fruit salad!

Our cabin (see below) was essentially the lowest grade Outside Twin available, situated on P-deck (deck-5), while Anny had an almost identical cabin but for single occupation up on D-deck (deck-8).


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Our Cabin
LD-grade #P132
Interior Promenade & Card Room "Trumps"
Venue for the early evening Quiz!
The Oval
The ship's "Pub" Lounge
Interior Promenade
Outside the Casino

Inbetween our cabins on Promenade Deck (deck-7), the two interior Promenade Corridors were cleverly themed; red(ish) on the port side, green(ish) on the starboard side, giving rise to my calling them the POSH Corridors (Port Out, Starboard Home)!

The green "Posh Corridor" was outside Trumps, the Card-Room carved out of the original Casino, now the Monte-Carlo Club off the portside (red) corridor, also leading to the ship's "Pub" Lounge, The Oval, with memorabilia from the Cricketers' Tavern on board the famous SS Canberra (1961-97).


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Me, Andrew & Anny
with our new friend Joyce
Festival Theatre
Dedicated Cinema (Deck-5)
Bruce Morrison
An inspiring performer
The Palladium
Show-lounge

Down on P-deck(5) was the Festival Theatre, a dedicated Cinema also used for lectures, while the main show-lounge was The Palladium on Decks 7 and 8. One of my favourite individual performers was Bruce Morrison, singer/director of P&O's Stadium Theatre Company, responsible for all the ship's production shows, of which there were 7 on this cruise!

Another lounge that became a favourite of ours was the Horizon Lounge, up forward on Deck-14 (Sun Deck). With its circular dance-floor and wonderful views of the sea, it was the perfect cocktail lounge. It was here that Anny became quite besotted with the lead singer in the band Kool Blue!


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The circular Horizon Lounge (Sun-Deck 14)
Never too crowded and an excellent dance-floor
The Library (Deck-8 Portside)
& a view of the life-boats

The Library was hidden off the portside corridor leading to the upper level of the Palladium, while on the opposite side, I discovered the quiet Canberra Room, a writing room dedicated to the ship's illustrious predecessor, SS Canberra (1961-97). Memorabilia included a wonderful ship model and a watercolour by Andrew Dibben, a rare copy of which hangs on our staircase at home. (see below)


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At Sea
The Indian Ocean
Promenade Deck
(Deck-7)
The Canberra Room D-Deck (8)
& Watercolour of SS Canberra by Andrew Dibben

While Andrew & Anny preferred to sun-bathe up on Sun Deck during sea-days, I preferred the welcome shade and cool breeze down on Promenade Deck, where there were plenty of loungers.


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Preparing the boats
Tendering at Phuket, Thailand
Arcadia's stranded Lifeboat
A tender fouls a propeller and has to be rescued by one of the other tenders

While tendering at the island of Phuket, there was some concern when one of the tenders fouled its propeller on some fishing-line and became stranded. It had to be "rescued" by one of the other tenders and the whole operation caused quite a queue of passengers on the beach!


While unremarkable in design or decor, we found Arcadia to have a happy and friendly feel about her, and we rather liked her. That is why we returned to cruise on her a year later in 2000, and again in 2002; each time it would be with Anny and Joyce.
(right) The mast and a view of the ship in Colombo, Sri Lanka
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The Homecoming Cruise
28th March - 9th April 2000

View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Flying out to the Caribbean for calls at three islands, then a 9-day Transatlantic Crossing via Ponta Delgada in the Azores, with me doing Ballroom Dancing lessons for the first time with Joyce!
(right) Arcadia at anchor at Basseterre, St Kitts
(far right) Ballroom dancing with Joyce
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Arcadia (63,564grt)
in Castries, St Lucia
At Sea
Crossing the Atlantic



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Arcadia (53,564grt)
at Ponta Delgada, Azores
From the dockside
A visit to the Bridge
during our day in Ponta Delgada

Scenic South America
19th December 2002 - 3rd January 2003

View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Show Picture Full Size Not only was this a cruise over Christmas and New Year but with the ambitious encouragement of Anny, yet again we were off to a distant part of the world we had never seen before, the spectacular Chilean Fjords, Buenos Aires, the notorious Cape Horn and 20 years after the 1982 War, the Falkland Islands. It was supposed to be "Summer" in the southern hemisphere but way down south, it was really cold!
(left) Dressed for Christmas - the 3-deck high Atrium and its Swiss Army Knife sculpture!


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Arcadia at anchor
off Puerto Montt, Chile
Tendering
at Puerto Montt
Glaciers
in The Beagle Channel


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Punta Arenas, Argentina
Arcadia off Port Stanley
in the Falklands
Memories of 1982
Canberra & HMS Andromeda

Famous geographical place-names now became real to us; the Beagle Channel on Christmas Day; the Straits of Magellan linking the Pacific with the Atlantic; and notorious Cape Horn, which we discovered was an island! But it was in Port Stanley in the Falklands and Buenos Aires in Argentina that memories of the War with Argentina, and the sad loss of lives, were the most poignant.

With a different camera on this trip, I again documented the ship's interior, with a few things I missed during the first cruise nearly 4 years ago!


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Tiffany's
(P-deck 5)
The Pacific Restaurant (Prom Deck 7)
and the Maori War Canoe from SS Canberra
The Horizon Lounge
Sun Deck-14


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The Canberra Writing Room D-Deck (8)
& the scale model of SS Canberra
The Scale Model of SS Canberra
in the Canberra Writing Room (D-Deck 8)


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View of the boats
from the Canberra Room
The Library
Opposite the Canberra Room
The Century Bar-Lounge
Still one of our favourites


The Oval (the ship's "pub"), located close to the main Restaurant, was popular but I realised that what had been a clever idea of colour-styling the Interior Promenades in red & green for port & starboard had been slightly spoiled by expanding the Pub (all in red) onto the "wrong" side!

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The Oval (the ship's "Pub" Lounge (Prom. Deck-7)
& its memorabilia from the Cricketers' Tavern on Canberra
extending into the Starboard Interior Promenade
Portside Interior Promenade
outside the Monte Carlo Club
Our Group Photo


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Trumps (Card Room)
and part of the Starboard Interior Promenade
Festival Theatre
Dedicated Cinema (Deck-5)
The Palladium
Show Lounge (Decks 7/8)


In addition to the Conservatory Buffet on Lido Deck-12, Al Fresco Pizzeria was open most days from noon till 6pm. On selected days in the evening, this venue was also used as a "Candlelit Bistro", for which reservations were required and there was cover-charge of 3 per person.

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Relax!
The Promenade at Sea
Boat Deck
from the Promenade
Al Fresco Pizzeria
(Lido Deck-12)
Joyce & Anne
and me of course!



In 2003, P&O created a new brand, "Ocean Village". Advertised as "the cruise for people who don't do cruises", it offered an alternative cruise experience for families and those looking for fun events and casual dress codes, as opposed to formal dining. Arcadia was renamed Ocean Village and refitted, with an increased passenger capacity of 1,624. Offering a lower level of service than on traditional ships, her crew was reduced from 650 to 514. The new brand met with some success and in 2007, Ocean Village was joined by the ex-Crown Princess of 1991 as Ocean Village 2.

Show Picture Full Size However, after the merger of P&O with Carnival, it was announced in 2008 that the brand would cease to operate beyond 2010, whereupon both its ships would be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia.
(left) Ocean Villlage and (right) Pacific Pearl in Sydney, Australia 2011
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So in 2011, Ocean Village (ex-Arcadia, ex-Star Princess, ex-Sitmar FairMajesty) was refitted yet again and renamed Pacific Pearl, operating out of Sydney, Australia and was still going in 2014.


Arcadia provided us with many happy cruising memories, at a time when P&O Cruises' service was probably at its best. But it was the influence of Anny and our meeting Joyce in 1999 that began the expansion of our circle of cruising friends and although we sadly lost Anny to leukemia in 2006, Arcadia marked a major change in the nature of our enjoyment of cruising over the years to come.


Total Mileage aboard
Arcadia (3): 12,835 n miles

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