New Arcadia Gallery
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Ship Gallery & Report

Carnival Corporation originally intended this ship as the new "Queen Victoria" for Cunard Line but during construction they decided that the specification wasn't going to be high enough as the Atlantic running-mate for their "Queen Mary 2" and so was borne the new "Arcadia", replacing the old "Arcadia" which had been rebranded as "Ocean Village" in 2003. See Arcadia (1997) >>

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Arcadia departing Southampton
Arcadia (2005)
82,972grt; length 936 ft; 22 knots
Passengers: 1,950-2,400 max

The fourth P&O ship to bear the name, "Arcadia" entered service in April 2005 as the new flagship. Built by Fincantieri in Italy, she's one of Carnival's "Vista-class" ships, the first 4 of which are now Holland America Line's "Zuiderdam", "Oosterdam", "Westerdam" and "Noordam". With a beam of 106 ft, she can navigate the Panama Canal during round-the-world cruising.

While more than 80% of the cabins have balconies, 35 are Suites with full Butler Service. But there are also another 30 "Mini-Suites", which are 50% larger than the standard cabins and which are equipped to much the same standard as the Suites - but without the Butler Service. They also have the advantage of various other little "exclusive" privileges, just like the full-size Suites, so if you are not bothered about dining in your cabin or entertaining large groups of people, the Mini-Suites are a great choice, especially if (like Andrew, Stella & Sally) there are 3 of you sharing!
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Mini-Suite B098 Mini-Suite B098 Our Balcony Twin sinks! Jacuzzi Bath
Dad & I had Mini-Suite B098 on Deck 7. It proved very comfortable and included a fresh coffee-maker, cd/dvd-player, fridge and trouser-press. They even give you an umbrella and binoculars! The bathroom had twin sinks, a full-size jacuzzi-bath as well as a seperate full-size shower and complimentary Molton-Brown toiletries. And on our corner balcony, we had 2 nice wooden loungers as well as 2 chairs and a table. The view was fantastic!

The Rest of the Ship
Up on Deck-11, one of the ship's "alternative dining options" is the Orchid Restaurant. The menu is "contemporary oriental fusion" and this exclusive restaurant has its own cocktail lounge with nice forward views over the midships pool. The concept is good and the position excellent. However.....

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The Orchid Bar The Orchid Restaurant The Orchid Bar &
open Magrodome above
the Neptune Pool
Deck 10 aft
Sports Deck
Deck 10 fwd &
the Magrodome
our one experience of this venue proved disappointing. The starters and entrees were good but unexceptional and service was embarrassingly slow, even though there were few other diners, and the initially attentive staff seemed to disappear. Our table was also opposite the kitchen and it proved very noisy and draughty. Then there was no ice-cream (the fridges had broken-down) and the remaining deserts were dry and leathery. We waited a further 25 minutes for tea/coffee and never got to the bottom of what really went wrong; even the Restaurant Manager proved elusive and unsympathetic. Only under pressure did he eventually refund the 10 per person surcharge. Concept 10/10; Performance 6/10.

Forward on Deck-10 is the Crows Nest, a large and popular lounge with a sea view; it's just a shame that it's set too far back to be able to see the bows! See the view >> Nevertheless, this proved to be our lounge of choice for pre-dinner drinks most evenings and the atmosphere and service were both quite good. Group Photo >> Outside on both sides of the ship behind the Crows Nest, there are two nice sheltered areas with tables and chairs out of the sun.

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Crows Nest Lounge Deck 10 sheltered area Neptune Pool
(Magrodome closed)
Scenic Lifts The Belvedere Restaurant
On Deck-9, the Oasis Gym and Spa are forward (no photos, sorry) while the Neptune Pool amidships has a sliding glass "Magrodome" roof. When this was open, even when the ship was under-way, I detected no unpleasant wind-eddies, unlike on some earlier ships with this feature. There is a nice Grill here that serves fresh hot-dogs & burgers and there is also a tempting ice-cream stall.

The Belvedere Restaurant on the other hand is a 24-hour, food-court-style self-service restaurant, an interesting idea but at peak times the layout results in too much contra-flow and accidents, not to mention time wasted getting different courses from different stations and consequently cold "hot" dishes! This was probably my most disliked place on the ship and after a couple of disastrous lunches there, I avoided it other than for breakfast, which was best taken early.

Dropping down in one of the 4 scenic lifts (a dizzying experience the first time you do it!) the rest of the ship's facilities are on Decks-2 & 3. Here you will find the Palladium Show Lounge.

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Palladium Show Lounge Forward Lobby
(Promenade Deck 3)
The Rising Sun Monte-Carlo Casino
The design of this is quite flawed; the two sides of the balcony are not connected and there are two curious "boxes" the purpose of which escapes me! They are wasteful on space and the visibility from them is quite poor. Downstairs, what was originally an area for a dance floor is cluttered with additional settees and chairs close to the stage. Other than here, none of the main seating incorporates any space for drinks. However, I must say that all the production shows I attended were excellent - even spectacular - and among the best I have seen on any ship to date.

Perhaps they think everyone will do their drinking in the nearby "Rising Sun" which takes on the look and feel of a "good old British Pub'" in the evenings. Shrewdly located adjacent to this is the Monte-Carlo Casino. I used to say that casinos on British ships were not a popular feature but it seems that "times they are-a-changing"!

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The Globe Spinnaker Bar Intermezzo Arcadian Rhodes'
A disorientating "zig-zag" flow takes you past The Globe, the ship's night club cabaret lounge and it's the only one with a reasonable dance floor. But the whole room is round, focusing on the dance-floor; maybe that's ok for cabaret but the decor is dull and the lighting is simply not conducive to dancing. On such a big ship, why is there no "proper" dance floor in a good-sized lounge?

The Spinnaker Bar and Intermezzo flow into one another and while they are decoratively more interesting, their arrangement is very much as a "walk through" to the main Restaurants.

Arcadian Rhodes is the ship's other "alternative dining experience" and it's Gary Rhodes' first such restaurant at sea. The decor is restrained and the banquette seating not such a good idea but otherwise, our experience of this restaurant was a world away from that in the Orchid. Service was highly attentive; at key stages throughout the meal, we had 8 waiters serving the 8 of us simultaneously! And the food, described as "Traditional British cuisine with a modern twist", was excellent. Main Menu >> - Desert Menu >> Overall, well worth the surcharge of 15 per person.

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Piano Bar The Atrium Table 93
Meridian Restaurant
The Meridian Restaurant The wrap-around
Promenade on Deck 3
The 3-deck high Atrium is at the heart of the ship, with the usual administration desks on Deck-1, which is also the main embarkation point. The various bars and lounges open off this area on Decks-2 & 3 but aft on both decks is the 2-deck high Meridian Restaurant.

Considering that it serves more than 1,000 passengers at each sitting, this works well. Table-spacing is good, with nice arm-chairs and there are views of the sea on 3 sides of the ship, although on the upper level, the restaurant is surrounded by the Promenade Deck. Our table position and waiters proved excellent and the food was generally very good, although too many dishes contained bacon (something often not mentioned on the menu). There was plenty of variety between the menus - Dinner Menu (1) >> - Dinner Menu (2) >> - Dinner Menu (3) >> John & I had lunch in this restaurant almost every day (in preference to the "free-for-all" in the Belvedere) and it was most relaxing and enjoyable - Lunch Menu (1) >> - Lunch Menu (2) >>

Operating "child-free", the new "Arcadia" has a number of features that work successfully and, overall, the ship has a comfortable feel.

However, there are a number of design-flaws in her interior arrangement which, while dressed with a generous array of artwork, is a little bland & uninspirng. And for the size of the ship, there are a number of significant omissions; there is no card-room and no proper dance-lounge. There isn't even a seperate cinema.

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Some of these omissions are because so much space is now taken up with additional "revenue centres" - shops, a large photo-gallery, internet centre, Cova cafe (which is actually quite pitiful and unwelcoming) and various function rooms (where they now charge you for attending many of the lectures!). You could almost be in any large land-based resort hotel - a sign of the times which says a lot about they way the cruise business is now being managed in the "mass market".

Indeed, this attitude (which appears to have hardened considerably since my last P&O voyage on Aurora in 2004) gave rise to a number of unpleasant brushes with Department Managers who seemed unusually reluctant to apologise and who left you feeling that they didn't really care one way or the other if you didn't come again. Since our return, I have heard of a number of other passengers making similar complaints, so perhaps P&O had better have another look at the way they are running things these days, especially on their flagship, the new Arcadia!

Total Mileage aboard
the New Arcadia: 6,344 n miles

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