Our First Cruise – Life Onboard

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The Arcadia Theatre

The Arcadia Theatre

We had no idea what to expect from life on board Arcadia during the day – would it be like a holiday camp with hi-de-hi nonstop activities? Would it be boring at sea, with nothing to do but stare at the ocean all day? What should we wear – is it too hot/ too cold? Would we enjoy the food, would we be able to get a cup of tea or coffee when we fancied one? I packed to cover all eventualities – lots of books, magazines and puzzle books, plus my laptop loaded with computer games. It turned out that a cruise is exactly what you want it to be – If you want to spend time alone, reading or thinking, there are plenty of secluded chairs and loungers, both inside or outside in a sheltered spot. Equally, if you want to spend every minute being active, there is a fantastic gym with wonderful views out over the sea and yoga, pilates and line dancing classes, there are two swimming pools with five whirlpool tubs, and there are competitions in deck quoits, shuffleboard (don’t ask!), golf swings and tennis. If you want an informative holiday, there are lectures and workshops galore, on everything from cooking (by Gary Rhodes) to Concorde (by a very entertaining ex pilot) to art (by experts from the Tate) to cartooning (by the legendary Bill Tidy). Other facilities include a shopping area, well stocked with any basics you may have forgotten, a library, a cinema and an Internet area.
In reality, most people seem to go for a combination of relaxation, education, luxury (wonderful spa treatments at reasonable prices), and activity. Every evening, there is a ships newspaper published, showing the times of the next days events, so that you can plan your day ahead. With so much happening, my books remained largely unread, and my laptop stayed in its case, while my husband and I tried everything.
Nearly forgot the main focus of life onboard for many people – food, glorious food! It is possible to eat non-stop, with the Belvedere Food Court on Deck 9 offering seamless transitions from Continental Breakfast to Full English to Elevenses to Lunch to Afternoon Tea to Dinner to Evening Snacks to All Night chips. In addition, there is a grill bar and a salad and sandwiches counter most of the day, all serving as a back up to the superb silver service breakfast and dinner provided by the Meridian Restaurant. The best of all, all the food, plus unlimited tea, coffee and iced water, is totally free. If you want to eat even better quality food, there are two specialist restaurants – Gary Rhodes and The Orchid Fusion, which each cost a token extra £10-20 per person. We ate in the Arcadian Rhodes, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but enjoyed the food in the Trevor Connolly managed Meridian equally as much.
For a couple who tend to eat dinner and then flop in front of the TV for the evening, the nightlife onboard was a bit overwhelming at first, but we soon adapted! The theatre offers comfortable sofas and bucket chairs to watch two super performances of a different show every night, featuring West End standard singers and dancers. Afterwards, there are loads of bars, where you can choose between a quiet intimate drink, live music, dancing, or quizzes, or you can visit the Casino, the Night club or The Rising Sun pub. My husband was pleasantly surprised by the price of drinks, apparently they are the same on board as in most pubs, and I tried to work my way through ‘Cocktail of the Day’ each night (a bargain £2.75 each) – It’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it.

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