We’re just back from our Christmas cruise on Arcadia, and here’s the summary and review page.
First, the links to the day-by-day posts that I made:-
- First was the usual ‘this is we how got to Southampton‘ post
- Then there was one about the first night;
- Formal nights are always of interest, and here’s a link to the post about the Captain’s Gala;
- There was one about Arcadia itself;
- We did some excursions at the three ports of call: Zeebrugge, where we went to Ghent; Copenhagen; and Oslo;
- It was Christmas after all, so there were some posts about that: first, Christmas Eve; then the main part of Christmas Day; and finally Christmas dinner;
- And finally the journey home.
So, did we enjoy Christmas on Arcadia? Yes we did, with reservations.
First, though, the good points. We both enjoyed the meals more than on the last cruise. We ate in the MDR for all of the dinners and they were certainly all OK, and occasionally better than that. If that sounds like faint praise then I apologise but on some recent cruises we’ve not enjoyed the food in the MDR – so this was better than we’ve had recently. Next good point – we both enjoyed Arcadia. All of the good points from before are still there, and the refurbishment has added a few extras. Chief of these would be the Crows Nest which is now a lovely room with good bar facilities. Also the conversion of the Orchid Restaurant to East seems to be an improvement. We didn’t eat there ourselves but two parties from our table did and their reports were very positive. We also enjoyed the wrap-round Promenade (we went for several multi-lap walks), the theatre, and the run of bars along deck 2. It’s a pity that Arcadia doesn’t have a Glasshouse, but there you go.
The itinerary was also good. We enjoyed the trip to Ghent from Zeebrugge, and the excursion at Oslo was the highlight of the trip. The excursion at Copenhagen was a bit disappointing, but that was because of that specific excursion – I’m pretty sure that if we’d done something different then we would have enjoyed that port more than we did. So as a cruise it was good.
Now for some things we didn’t enjoy so much. First of these would be the fact that we actually feel that we’ve missed Christmas – we didn’t think it was very festive on board, or at least we didn’t pick up much of the Christmas spirit. You could say that this was our fault – we didn’t go to midnight mass or the Christmas morning service, nor did we see Santa, but there again we wouldn’t do those things at home. Maybe the truth is that we missed not being with our family – when we rang Val’s sister on Christmas morning (she had an army for Christmas dinner) we both felt that they were having the fun and we weren’t. Our Christmas dinner was very good, but when all is said and done, it was just another meal in the MDR on a cruise ship. So we’ve learned that we don’t like doing Christmas cruises, and we won’t be repeating the experiment. Of course, other people feel differently – several people at our table are serial Christmas cruisers, and are perfectly happy being so, and good luck to them.
The other reservation we had was that we really noticed on this cruise just how hard the waiters have to work. I gather that with the demise of silver service each pair of waiters has more tables to serve, and this was showing. It’s not that service was slow, it wasn’t, but they were clearly always in a rush. The days when you could have a chat with your waiter seem to be gone. They will chat if you try to do so, but you’re aware that they are anxious to get on with their work, so you don’t prolong the conversation – or even start it.
We also heard one or two bad reports from passengers on Freedom dining, about poor service. In one case this was from a couple on their first P&O cruise, after cruising with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity a number of times. They were saying that they thought the service in Indy was better than what they were getting in Freedom dining on Arcadia, and they were pretty clear that they wouldn’t be back. This is of relevance to use because we will be on Freedom dining when we go on Azura next year, and sometimes we wonder if we have made the right choice.
Finally, we are wondering more and more if we are ‘cruised out’ – it doesn’t seem that special any more. It might be that after next year we’ll do fewer cruises, or even another type of holiday altogether. But that’s in the future. Right now, we enjoyed our cruise on Arcadia, and if it hadn’t been at Christmas we’d have fewer reservations. But that’s probably our fault for expecting more than could realistically be delivered. As a cruise, and as a ship, this merited a solid 4 stars.