First observations. This ship is HUGE. I feel like I’ve walked miles just looking around. My feet are killing me! On the plus side, however, my cabin is also HUGE, maybe twice or more times the size I’m used to! I could easily get another single bed in the gap between the foot of the bed and the wardrobe. Never had that much floor space in my life! I don’t even have that much room at home! Just enormous. Oddly though, no drawers. Only shelves. Every ship has these slight curveballs that throw you a little. With no drawers, where do I hide my knickers?! So much for privacy!
In fact, privacy has been given very little consideration on here. There is a shop that sells sweets, toys and essentials you may run out of or have forgotten. But it’s in the middle of a corridor! Who is going to ask for tampons standing there where everyone passing can see and hear you?! Seriously?! I mean, if you forgot your toothpaste, fair enough, but what if you need Imodium?! Absolutely no privacy whatsoever.
Arcadia is looking a bit old and tired, generally. She has American plug sockets, made of dark brown Bakelite-style plastic that look like they probably predate my very existence. Continuing the old and tired theme, walking around the ship, although the public areas are very new and shiny, and I mean SHINY (although they have toned down the epilepsy-inducing carpets since its launch, to be fair), there are definite signs of age. Not least, on deck 3, the sighting of at least three damp carpets, one of which still bears a bucket for the catching of the drips. Not the world’s most reassuring sight! Dad assures me the ship is less than ten years old. It certainly doesn’t look it. They seem to have gone for a sort of seventies decor theme. It’s all polished brass mirrors and dim downlighting, which probably doesn’t help.
First dinner on board. The waiters tried, but the first night is always chaos. The food was good, though, so that’s a relief. And even more of a relief, our tablemates are delightful. John, Hayley and Ted are on their first ever cruise, and Shirley and David have cruised before but not with P&O. Hearing them describe Independence of the Seas, which I am thinking of going on next, as Butlins on Sea, is a leeetle bit worrying… All bar Ted (Hayley’s dad of 83) would fit into my category of having a pulse and they have promised to meet me in the nightclub later. We’ll see. I reckon everyone is too shattered from the day’s travelling. It is a very long day, no matter how organised you are (and we are!).
Of course, us being organised is one thing. The crew and staff being organised is quite another. Some people still had not received all of their luggage, even after dinner. They keep making announcements assuring us they’re working on it, but we are not impressed. I’m all unpacked, and although I have a little shaking down to do, it’s all done. But others could be unpacking late into the night, rummaging for pyjamas, etc. To not have your suitcases by dinner, when you boarded at 1pm seems a bit off. Nul points for organisation, thus far, I’m afraid, Arcadia.
The Pilot was taken off during dessert, so now we are running down the Channel, at 22 knots, heading out towards the Atlantic, via some of the more choppy waters around. The Western Approaches are where the Channel meets the Irish Sea and Atlantic, and are rarely smooth. Hopefully, I’ll be asleep by then!
Post script to the first missive: I was asleep in time, but only just. Had to call Reception at midnight and ask for a CLEAN duvet cover. Tut tut. The poor soul who came to change it had to go back again about six times, because they were ALL marked! In the end, I stopped mentioning it, I felt so bad! Needless to say, I had a word with the Hotel Manager this morning…
Day One? Day Two? Not sure where to count from!
Had a quiet day today. Did as near to nothing as makes no difference.
Watched Chocolat and Oliver Twist (the film not the musical) and the Pride and Prejudice starting Matthew whathislovely and Keira Knightley as Emma and a film with Adam Sandler as a bloke with a remote control for his life. Very moralistic and terribly predictable, but the show is stolen, as one might expect, by Christopher Walken as the Angel of Death. Superb.
Not all excitement is a good thing. That is why the Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times”. Well, today it got interesting. Again.
During dinner, we noticed that we seemed to be making a lot of course corrections (turning, to the uninitiated), mostly to port (left). Our table overlooks the wake, so it was pretty obvious. Shortly afterwards, there was a tannoy announcement. Someone had fallen ill and a helicopter would be coming from Northern Spain to get them.
In order to avoid too much lollygagging and to avoid any flash photography blinding the pilot, we were evacuated from the restaurant, desserts and drinks in hand, and forbidden from going on the outside decks or onto the balconies. We settled in the card room and played patience by a port side window, which conveniently still had the blinds open. While we played we watched half a dozen crew on deck in various uniforms and garbs doing not a great deal other than standing around. It eventually dawned on us that they were standing by to man the search and rescue lifeboat in case anyone ended up in the water (i.e they dropped the poor sick bloke!). Luckily, they didn’t. Meanwhile, the helicopter landed and took away its cargo. The poor second sitting diners had to wait over two hours for their dinner, but everyone was very willing to obey and wait patiently.
Then the evening continued just as normal with only dinner and the show running behind schedule. I hope he’s okay, the bloke. Those who have been reading this blog for a while will know this is not our first excitement, and in roughly the same part of the world, too. Those who don’t know what I’m talking about, please do rummage around in the archive section on the left-hand side of this page. I would suggest you look around January 2010 for two pieces entitled The Cruel Sea and Six Degrees of Separation. I should warn you, they don’t have a happy ending. Here’s hoping for a better outcome this time.
Went to the nightclub and danced from 10.30 to 1.30 almost non-stop. My feet are NOT happy. The DJ’s name is Arwyn (Welsh, don’t ask me). He is very obedient, which is a good thing in a DJ! Note to Simon and Guy. Before Arwyn was Rob, Martin and Paul. Looks like Lulu left not long after you did! Arwyn’s never even heard of her!
Daily total: 3 gin cocktails (two Tom Collins and a gin and tonic from a waiter who misheard Gin Collins as Gin and Tonic). WAY too much Diet Coke. 1.5 litres, I think, possibly more. Three quarters of a litre of water. And some mediocre but very loud singing. Poor Arwyn. At least I only sang the Spandau Ballet, not the Adele…
WORD TO THE WISE: ARCADIA IS NOT A BRITISH CRUISE SHIP. IT WAS BUILT IN AMERICA AND ALL THE PLUG SOCKETS ARE AMERICAN, NOT BRITISH. I kid you not. When I went to Reception, I was told they don’t have any for loan and I would have to BUY a converter from the shop if I wanted to plug my laptop in anywhere other than in my cabin. Seriously. Am surprisingly furious, if I’m honest. There are things I can get over, but this is as close to outraged as I can recall being on a cruise (other than the Mayotte visa incident of 2007). I am disgusted and I will be making a formal complaint. I should not have to buy an adapter in order to charge my computer on a British cruise ship.