Life on Arcadia

I spent six and a half weeks on the Arcadia during my half world cruise – Southampton to Brisbane (disembarking in Sydney due to Cyclone Oma).

The days just go by. During the day, there is a schedule of activities going on around the ship in various bars, rooms and the theater. From Port lectures to guest speakers, there is so much to do!

I decided to go for a walk around the ship and photograph the spaces where the activities take place, along with what goes on where. I am still learning where everything is on the ship, so bear with me!

At the very top of the ship (Deck 11) towards the back (aft) there is a sports court where lots of activities take part like tennis, walking football and basketball. There is also a space to practice your swing for golf.

In the middle of the ship on deck 11 is the Sindhu and the East Bar. When I went there to take my photo there was a cribbage get together happening.
In the East Bar, there was people just relaxing having a drink.

I then proceeded to deck 10 which is the Sun Deck. Staying mid ship, there is the retreat is used for some classes.

In the retreat on the day of the photograph was dance lessons. It is quite a popular class.

If you then head towards the back of the ship, there is an area where deck quoits and shuffleboard are played.

If you head back towards the front of the ship, you pass the retractable roof for the Neptune Bar and pool area.

Heading back inside, you then come to the crows nest (which is right at the front (fwd) of the ship) and the viceroy room (a meeting room) which is usually used for get-togethers or classes. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the crows nest.

Heading down (at the front of the ship) to deck 9 is the Lido deck. The first place you come across is the Oasis spa and gym. In the spa, you can have lots of treatments (which you have to pay for). There is also the thermal and hydro pool which is an area that you pay extra for access to on a day or whole cruise basis. I’ve not been yet, so no photos of that, but I did manage to get some photos of the spa receptions, hair dressers and the gym (which is free).

There is a little know secret (probably more well known that I think!) that if you walk down the side of the gym, there is a door that leads to a small deck area that is right at the front of the ship and has no restriction on the views. Its a great place to go and take some photos of the sunset or when you are sailing in or out of a port. There is also a seat. I thought this would be a brilliant place to see the Panama Canal transit, but unfortunately P&O decided to make it an exclusive area and charge £75pp when transiting the canal.

After coming out of the spa, you head through a door that takes you to the Neptune pool and bar area. On hot sunny days the roof is open – it is a popular area and has always been busy when I have gone there. As well as the pool and bar, they also server lunch there (Neptune Grill).

After exiting the Neptune pool and bar (and heading towards the back of the ship, you come into the Belvedere restaurant. This is where you come for lunch when you embark and during the cruise you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks here. I’ve only eaten the odd lunch here (mainly salad) as there is very little to cater for my dietary needs.

Heading out of the back of The Belvedere, is the Aquarius pool and bar. This is where the sail away parties are held and late night stargazing. They also hold a party from 9.30pm til midnight where you can dance away under the stars. This area was also used for events such as ‘build a boat on a ship’ which is an activity where you use items only found on the ship to make you own boat which then has to be tested to see if it floats and can survive a big wave (the guy jumping into the pool!). They also held the crossing of the equator ceremony.

Decks 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4 are cabins and mid forward of deck 4,5 and 6 are laundrettes and there is also one on deck 4 forward (this is an additional one).

Staying at the front of the ship and heading down to deck 3, this is where you will find the top tier of the palladium theatre.

Then start heading towards the back, you come to the screening room which is where they show films. Space is limited so you have to get tickets from either the library or reception. They hold three or four screenings a day.

Continuing towards the back, there is some more meeting rooms where they hold classes. Bridge class was happening when I took my photos.

Next is the ‘essentials’ shop. Unless you class sweets and chocolates as essentials, there is not a very good stock of essentials.

There is then a little cafe where you can buy costa coffee and get free cake. I’m not sure if the free cake is restricted to certain times of the day or if it is just around 4pm for afternoon tea. On further investigation, it turned out that the drinks were complimentary to have with your costa coffee!! I still managed to get one though even though I didn’t buy a coffee or hot chocolate!!

The library is next door to the cafe. You can come here to access the internet (chargeable) on their computers, borrow a book, do a jigsaw or find a game, dvd or just sit quietly and read.

On leaving the library (continuing to the back of the ship), there is a shopping area with clothing, jewellery, bags, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen (to name a few). All the staff are lovely there. Always up for a chat!

After leaving the shops, you are then on the third floor of the atrium and head into the piano bar. Mostly a quiet place to come during the day where you can have a drink, read or play a board game.

On walking through the piano bar on the starboard side, you pass a small area where you can put in flower requests, then a gin tasting bar.

After the Gin tasting area, you enter the Photo Gallery. This is where all the photos taken by the ships photographers can be viewed and purchased.

The last place at the back on this ship is the top floor of the Meridian Restaurant. This is where the ‘freedom’ diners eat.

As this is the promenade deck, it would be wrong not to show you photos. I always found that there was a shady side to the ship (which was always the quieter side).

And, of course, a Sunny side (well, for the majority of our cruise!!).

Going down to Deck 2, (starting forward and heading towards the back). So, you have the second level of the theater. Coming out of the theater, leads you to the casino. They have tables where you can play roulette, blackjack and three card prime. They also sell the bingo tickets here.

Opposite the casino is the Rising Sun Pub. In here, they often held quizzes, football and rugby on the TV, karaoke, themed evening and lots more. It was a nice place to have a drink and watch the world go by!!

As you headed to the back of the ship after the casino and pub, you come to the Gallery. Here you can purchase prints and pictures that can be delivered to your home.

On leaving the Whitewall Gallery, you come into the Intermezzo Bar/Cafe which is also located in the middle floor of the Atrium. It is another area to just sit, play board games or read or meet up for a coffee. Opposite is the Ocean Grill restaurant which is a specialty restaurant. I had afternoon tea in there one afternoon with my friends Allan and John and they even managed to cater for my dietary needs.

Onwards then to The Spinnaker Bar. Another place to sit, relax or have a drink. Some of the quizzes are also held here. On this cruise in particular is the 9.45pm brain teaser quiz. There was also a pre dinner quiz at 5.45pm that was held here.

After the Spinnaker bar is the lower floor of the Meridian Restaurant. This is where the Club (or 6.30pm and 8.30pm) diners eat.

Deck 5 (mid ship) is where the main reception area is along with Future Cruise Sales and the excursions desk.

I really loved my time on Arcadia. The food was brilliant and I was well taken care of (Gluten/Lacose free vegetarian). I will post all of the photos I have from Arcadia on my Facebook page.

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San Francisco

We had two days in San Francisco but unfortunately I didn’t get off until late afternoon on the first day. I decided to take the hop on hop off bus on my own (I had purchased a Go City Card which was discounted for five attractions (I purchased it online before leaving for the trip)).

It was very fascinating travelling through San Francisco, we were driving through several districts and one that stuck a cord was the Tenderloin district. The tenderloin district is the poorest and has the highest number of homeless and driving through, you could really see this.

The bus also took us through the financial district and to Union Square.

The whole of the tour took around three hours and included going across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was very windy and after getting back on bus for the return trip, I opted to stay at the bottom of the bus. Because the sun not being out, the bridge doesn’t look as colourful as the photos you see. I did manage to get a really nice photo from the Walt Disney Museum (it will be below as it was on day 2)

The bus then returned to Pier 39 where I visited the Aquarium. I found the aquarium pretty sad as the enclosures seem quite small. Take a look at the photos and decide for yourself. Usually, the aquariums that I have been to have been quite big but this one wasn’t very big or nice (in my opinion).

I walked back to the ship to have a last dinner with my table mates as three of them were getting off tomorrow.

On day two, I decided to get up and be off the ship by 10am. I got an Uber to The Walt Disney Museum. I am a big fan of Walt Disney and the very first holiday abroad that I went on was to Florida – it was a competition that my mum and dad won. I even remember the day we got the letter! It was when I was leaving for my last year of junior school (year 6) trip to Swanage. This was in 1984 and most of my brothers had gone on cruises for their year trip, but because of the Falklands War, the ships had been called to duty, anyway, I digress!!

Going into the Walt Disney Family museum was like reading his biography in 3D. I walked around in awe of everything! There was a lot of information and original drawings. Here is a selection of the photos I took (and I took loads!) I will place lots more photos on my Facebook page on my return when I have better internet).

There was a walkway that had ceiling to floor glass and had the most fabulous view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

There was then a spiral walkway that reminded me a bit of Epcot centre and at the bottom was a layout of Disney World.

Walking on through, there was a lot of interactive activities to take part in too. Learning how to operate an animatronic parrot and it isn’t as easy as it looks!

After leaving the Disney museum, I got an Uber to the Union Square in the hope of finding Lombard Street on the trolley. Lombard Street is an east–west street in San Francisco, California that is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. The trolley stopped near Lombard Street, but it looked too far to walk, so I got back on a different trolley and carried on the route which ended at Fisherman’s Wharf.

One of the museums I wanted to visit was near there so I decided to go visit. This was Ripleys Museum. Lots of strange things in the museum – see photos!

Just a short walk away was San Francisco’s Madam Tussauds. As I had been to the one in Sydney, I decided I should visit this one too. It was pretty much the same as the Sydney one, only a little bit more based on America. I was happy to see that there was no President Trump there!!

I was also going to do the dungeons, but opted not to. I have done the one in London, though.

After I left Madam Tussauds, I carried on walking along the waterfront towards pier 39. Pier 39 is famous for its sea lion colony!

I then took a walk through the shops on the pier, purchased some sweets and chocolates for the crew back on board, had a 10 minute walk outside the Hard Rock Cafe while trying to decide if I could walk back or get a bike taxi. I decided that I didn’t want to let a poor cyclist take my weight so opted to take a slow walk back! I made it back to the ship, but was extremely tired, but was happy with what I had seen in San Francisco.

San Francisco was lovely and is a place where I would like to visit again. So many places I didn’t get to see and do, so I will be back!

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Transiting the Panama Canal

Firstly, you may be wondering what happened to the Aruba blog. Unfortunately, the day after Saint Lucia, I came down with Bronchitis and cellulitis of the eye. I went to the the doctor on the day we docked in Aruba, and was prescribed antibiotics. I am slowly getting better, but, apart from just walking off the ship, I didn’t do much in Aruba. I have a couple of photos taken from the ship as we were leaving as I felt so unwell. I was scheduled to do a water based activity but because of the eye problem, I had to cancel. Luckily the medical centre stamped the back and because of that I got a full refund.

We transited the Panama Canal on Sunday 20th January. We were given a schedule of the highlights in the horizon the night before, but as always it was subject to change. We were also given a small booklet with a brief history of the canal.

The length of the Panama is 80kms (50 miles) from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It takes on average 8-10 hours to complete the transit of the canal. Lake Gatun covers and area of 163.38 square miles and was formed by the construction of an earthern dam across the Chargres river which runs Northwoods towards the Caribbean sea.

The dam across the Chargres River

The Culebra cut is 13.7km long and extends from Gatun Lake to Predro Miguel locks.

The images above are the approach of the first and third of the Gatun locks. At the third lock we had the first of two medical emergency evacuations.

Each chamber is 110 feet wide by 1000ft long. Total volume of concrete to build the locks was 3,440.488 cubic meters.

We then spent a very lazy 4-5 hours cruising the Gatun Lake.

During the cruise of the Lake, there was several activities taking place onboard, one of which was an ice carving (a very strange thing to do in 30 degree heat!).

As we approached the Pedro Miquel locks, the captain announced another emergency evacuation off the ship. After that we proceeded through the lock then onto the final two locks that would bring us in to the Pacific ocean. There was a ship next to us which allowed me to photograph its progress through the lock.

The mules are very important and pull or guide the ships through a very narrow area. There is usually 4 to a ship – two at the front and two at the back. The first mule or locomotive cost $13,217 and were built by General Electric, an American company. Mitsubishi is the current manufacturer of Panama Canal locomotives which cost US$2.3m each!

As we were passing though the Miraflores lock, I could see in the distance a container ship using the newer canal.

After leaving the final lock, we then headed under the Bridge of Americas and past Panama City to continue up the coast to Huatulco.

The canal is an amazing piece of engineering. I think the photos will say more than I can. I have also posted a time lapse on my Facebook page which can be accessed here (there are two parts as we had an emergency evacuation right below my cabin and was requested not to photograph or video the medical disembarkation).

My next blog will be about Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas.

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