P&O Cruises ARCADIA, Maiden Port Call At Los Angeles

P&O Cruises ARCADIA

Maiden Port Call at Los Angeles

By

Shawn J. Dake

ARCADIA departing from Los Angeles on May 27, 2011, Photo by Shawn J. Dake ©.2011.

The 83,700 gross ton ARCADIA paid a visit to the Port Of Los Angeles on Thursday, May 26, 2011. The maiden call at the port was part of a 72-day roundtrip voyage that commenced in Southampton, England immediately following the ship’s 2011 World Cruise and a two week trip to the Mediterranean. This particular voyage is especially noteworthy as it marks the first time in 37 years that P&O has offered a cruise that included Alaska. Before the purchase of Princess Cruises, P&O regularly featured summer cruises to Alaska from Los Angeles aboard the s.s. ARCADIA of 1954 among other ships. The last regular P&O voyages from Southern California ended in 1974, but continued under the newly acquired Princess banner.

ARCADIA in Yakutat Bay, Alaska on May 14, 2011, Courtesy of Nigel Travis, P&O Cruise Director

The present day ARCADIA was built in 2005 for the Carnival Corporation. The ship measures 936 feet in length with a beam of 106 feet. Based on double occupancy, the ship is designed to carry 2,016 passengers. This vessel has a bit sleeker exterior profile and more modern, stylized interiors than other members of the seven-ship P&O fleet. This can be attributed, at least in part, to the rather convoluted route the ship took prior to her christening for P&O back on April 12, 2005. Ordered as the fifth “Vista Class” ship for Holland America Line, Carnival decided instead to remake it into a Cunard Line vessel bearing the name QUEEN VICTORIA. The plans for the new Queen were altered very little from the “Vista” prototype, one of the few additions being a top deck restaurant for Queens and Princess Grill passengers. On the completed ARCADIA that area is now the Orchid Restaurant and Bar.

The profile of the ARCADIA is a blend of Cunard Line mast and funnel atop a Holland America Line superstructure wearing P&O livery. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, ©.2011.

The Orchid Bar on Sky Deck. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, ©.2011

Otherwise, the interior layout of public rooms and most cabins is identical to the Holland America Line ships. The mast and funnel also bear traditional touches of Cunard, patterned after the QE2. In any event, this first attempt at creating a QUEEN VICTORIA was shelved in favor of the completely redesigned Cunard cruising Queen that emerged in 2007. Built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, the often passed around yard number 6078, finally emerged as the fourth P&O ship named ARCADIA.

The ARCADIA of 2005 at Pier 93 A/B in San Pedro on May 26, 2011. Photo by Shawn J. Dake ©.2011.
The ARCADIA of 1954 at the same pier during Spring, 1974. Photo © Shawn J. Dake. c.1974.

The name Arcadia originates from a mountainous, almost mythological, pastoral place. In reality it is a region in the central Peloponnese area of Greece. The first P&O ship to bear the name was a two-funneled, four-mast, steel ship of 6,603 tons built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, in 1888. Arguably, the second vessel was the most famous and popular among the ships of that name. The ARCADIA of 1954 had a single, large funnel and measured just under 30,000 gross tons. She was built on the river Clyde by John Brown & Company. In her 25 year career she served as a liner from Great Britain out to India and Australia and in later years as a pioneering cruise ship for P&O.

The third ARCADIA visited Los Angeles on January 29, 1999. Photo by Shawn J. Dake ©.1999.

Reviving the name of that popular ship, the third ARCADIA came about as a transfer from Princess Cruises through their earlier purchase of Sitmar Cruises. The 63,524 gross ton cruise ship was designed as the SITMAR FAIRMAJESTY, but entered service as the first STAR PRINCESS. It joined P&O as the third ARCADIA in 1997 and remained with them until 2003. It later sailed as the OCEAN VILLAGE for another division of the company and now caters to the Australian market as the PACIFIC PEARL for P&O Cruises Australia.

The present ARCADIA is by far the largest ship of that name, and is the third largest in the P&O fleet after the AZURA and VENTURA, both in excess of 115,000 gross tons. Cabins range from 170 square foot standard inside and outside rooms to numerous categories of balcony staterooms with 254 square feet of space.

Typical Balcony Stateroom on the ARCADIA. Courtesy of P&O Cruises.
An example of the Suite accommodations onboard. Courtesy of P&O Cruises.

Mini-Suites found on B & D Decks are 384 square feet. The largest suite accommodations are approximately 516 square feet in size and are all named after major cities of the world. The ARCADIA is designed for adults-only and offers no facilities for children.

The Crow’s Nest Lounge on Sun Deck forward. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.
The Retreat serves as a multi-purpose room, where children’s facilities would be on other ships in the class. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.

There is a wide array of public rooms concentrated on the three top decks and the three lowest levels. Sky Deck has the aforementioned Orchid Restaurant and Bar. On the Sun Deck, the Crow’s Nest Lounge occupies the same space as on its near sisters in the Holland America and Cunard fleets, above the bridge with a commanding view over the bow and to the sides. Further aft is The Retreat. Lido Deck has both of the ship’s swimming pools, the aft one open air, the midship Neptune Pool covered by a macro-dome. Forward is the gymnasium and spa and aft is the casual Lido Restaurant. Six decks lower, the Promenade Deck offers a wrap-around walkway on the exterior, surrounding many of the smaller bars and lounges, anchored by the uppermost level of three-deck high Palladium Showroom forward and the two-deck Meridian Restaurant aft.

The Palladium Show Lounge. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.
The Meridian Restaurant. Photo by Shawn J. Dake,© 2011.

Some of the most interesting public rooms are situated on F-Deck, level 2. Moving aft from The Palladium, are the Monte Carlo Casino on the port side and The Rising Sun pub to starboard. Next comes the Electra discotheque to port and an Art Gallery walkway leading past The Globe, a secondary theater and multi-purpose room.

The Rising Sun pub is a very popular cocktail venue. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.
The Globe lounge located midship. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.
A corner of the Arcadian Rhodes restaurant. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.

Farther aft on the port side is the Arcadian Rhodes, an elegant specialty restaurant in the evening hours, which on this voyage was also being used as an officer’s dining room. Beyond that is the main galley. In the narrow space on the starboard side leading to the dining room are two lounges, the Intermezzo and Spinnaker Bar. The original ship’s bell from the 1954 ARCADIA can be found displayed on a pedestal in this area.

The bell from the ARCADIA of 1954 has also been displayed on both the third and fourth ships to bear the name. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011
The Atrium rises through three decks under this colorful overhead. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.

All the way aft is the lower level of the Meridian Restaurant with its dual central staircase decorated with glass sculptures connecting to the upper level. The lowest passenger level, is G-Deck. Midship a three-deck atrium topped by a colorful ceiling connects the public areas. The reception desk, tour desk and banks of four panoramic elevators and two additional lifts surround the seating area at the bottom of the atrium.

Captain Kevin Oprey accepts a commemorative gift from Christopher Chase, Business Development Manager for The Port of Los Angeles. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.

With this being the first call of the ARCADIA at the Port of Los Angeles, there was the obligatory exchange of plaques between the ship and various port officials. The only thing marring this maiden arrival was U.S. Immigration which refused to clear the in transit passengers, requiring them to go through a lengthy biometric scanning process. The ship had arrived at 7:00am that morning, and into the afternoon passengers still had not been allowed to disembark, causing missed shore excursions and much grumbling. Despite this, Captain Kevin Oprey maintained as good an attitude as possible under the circumstances, noting only that the ship had already been sailing in U.S. waters for the better part of the last two weeks and had previously visited seven U.S. ports including San Francisco and Seattle along with their extensive tour of Alaska before heading south to Los Angeles. The ARCADIA had been scheduled to depart that evening at 7:00pm. To allow passengers a chance to visit one of the major ports of call on this cruise, the decision was made to remain overnight, so guests were still able to view the L.A. area the following day. The ship cast off her lines at 6:00pm on May 27th and forty-five minutes later was clearing the Angel’s Gate Lighthouse heading out to sea. The schedule calls for a six day run directly to the Panama Canal. Captain Oprey will be leaving the ARCADIA later this year, to take command of the QUEEN MARY 2. He had expressed a desire to see the original QUEEN MARY in the neighboring Port of Long Beach. Hopefully the extended stay allowed him to do so, on the 75th anniversary of the maiden voyage of that venerable vessel.

The ARCADIA returns to the open sea after passing the Angel’s Gate Lighthouse. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011

The ARCADIA is an impressive ship which creates a very favorable first impression. It is fascinating to note the influences of modern cruising history that contributed to her design, ultimately emerging as a most unique ship for P&O Cruises. Her worldwide itineraries are varied and tend to be longer voyages than aboard other ships. While being a thoroughly contemporary ship, it maintains a high standard of passenger comfort and P&O tradition, worthy of the fabled name ARCADIA.

The ARCADIA leaving Los Angeles on May 27, 2011 after her extended stay. Photo by Shawn J. Dake, © 2011.

 

Special thanks to Michele Andjel, Martin Cox, Nigel Travis and Donna Weiger.

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake
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