Arcadia sailed for three days to Ponta Delgada in the Azores, our first port of the cruise.
Our cruise to the Azores, Madeira and the Iberian Peninsular would take us to Ponta Delgada, Praia da Vitoria, Funchal, Cadiz, Malaga and finally to Gibraltar
Day 1 Thursday 19th April Southampton
Our journey to Southampton was easy very little traffic. The northbound A34 had its usual half mile traffic jam off the M3. Our cases were just under the limit of 23 kgs. My carry-on, however, consisted of a camera bag, a tripod and loaded wheeled airline case.
We entered the docks at Gate 20 and passed through the container port to the Mayflower Terminal. There we had a short wait before parking outside and unloading our cases and handing over the car keys. Once inside we met up with our friends and that was when we felt that the holiday was really starting.
We were quickly through check-in and boarding Arcadia. Our choice was now to go for lunch with our carry-on or wait for our cabins to be ready and then go for lunch. We chose the former and went to the Meridian restaurant. Lunch was a buffet style with a choice of wines. I had a Cornish pastie (missing the carrots and potatoes) and lots of coated prawns.
As the clock ticked around to 3 pm we left the restaurant after an enjoyable lunch with enough wine to help us catch up on all our latest news. Our cabin was two decks up from the restaurant and our suitcases were waiting outside.
Sail away from Southampton
The sail away party as we left Southampton was around the pool at the aft of the ship.
After our lunch we skipped anymore alcohol and simply enjoyed the sunshine and views as we sailed out through the Solent.
Back in our cabin we finished unpacking and had our first chat with our cabin steward about removing the contents of the ‘fridge so we would have room for our ordered Fever Tree tonics and our daily ice bucket.
Our first evening
Our cabin was close to the stern of the ship and to get to the Crows Nest we went down to the Promenade Deck and then walked nearly the length of the ship to get to the forward lifts. The queue for Freedom Dining had already formed at the entrance to the upper level of the restaurant.
The trio, Misty Blue, were playing in the Crows Nest where we were meeting our friends for a quick drink before dinner. After numbers by Santana and Fleetwood Mac they definitely met with my approval. Rather than a beer I tried the P&O Andersons Gin Special (a double plus cardoman seeds plus tonic and ice) but I’m afraid its taste was not to my liking.
At 8.30 pm we left for the restaurant at the stern. We were in the lower floor of the Meridian Restaurant and the queue had already formed. We were shown to our table, it was number 44 and was at the back of the ship and was close to the panoramic windows back there.
Already at the table were a couple from from Nottinghamshire. We did have two empty seats this first evening. The wine list had changed again and my standby red wine was no longer available. I settled for another Aussie Shiraz called Helmsman.
I had prawn cocktail, steak with extra mushrooms followed by honey and ginger ice-cream. After cups of tea we went back to the cabin to try and get some sleep.
The contents of the emptied fridge had gone from the dressing table and now filled one of our cupboards. Previously this would have been taken away from the cabin.
The air conditioning had finally kicked in after the ship had been underway for a while and the cabin no longer felt as hot as a sauna.