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Boarding the Arcadia
Wednesday, 5th October 2016
We checked out of the 11 room boutique hotel after stoking up for the day from their breakfast menu. An easy drive to the Naval Dockyards where we saw the timbers that are all that remain of the Mary Rose. There is a lot to see and learn from there, one can try drawing bows and realise how strong the archers were, touch the tarred ropes of jolly Jack Tars, and weigh on one's hands the cannon balls. Good stuff for the several parties of school kids who were there for us to contend with.

We patronised the soon to be closed Georgian tea-rooms then relied foolishly on the Satnav to get us to the Arcadia. But we were foully betrayed and trapped in the container port! Freak out time. A kindly guard took pity and instructed us to get back to the M27 which we did, then followed the physical signs which didn't let us down. At the Ocean Cruise Terminal we sat in our car for tens of minutes, relieved the Arcadia was visible, before we could hand over the car to CPS and the cases to porters then enter the terminal itself for some waiting we assumed. But to our amazement we were handed black cards and fast-tracked first to checking in then through security then through the air bridge then straight to our cabin E89!
Our cheerful steward Angela introduced herself as we wondered where our cases were, they didn't all appear until time for the muster drill. This is a regulation exercise where everyone practises responding to the emergency signal. If you're wise you go to the muster area early so you get a seat. I signed up for Internet access but P&O really gouge you now for that, instead of paying per minute it's now per day. Other gouging includes shrunk laundrettes (to get more cabins on board). Some of the lifts are overdue for maintenance, the doors opened and closed spasmodically, creaking like they were in a haunted castle. P&O do give you two small free bottles of water, I accidentally bought 6 large bottles of water by filling in a form but the form got left behind so I got another large bottle from a bar. So our cabin was rather cluttered up.

We had our first evening meal in the lower Meridian restaurant, meeting Brian and Geraldine (who were on the previous Atlantic cruise), and Chris and Ian and unashamed Welshman Rhys on 8-seater table 77. Rhys once brought his collection of beer mats to the evening meal, he prefers to rest his beers on them to the paper ones on the boat.
Went to the evening welcome show in the Palladium theatre which has decent banking in two tiers, though one needs to be careful as pillars can block views. The energetic Headliners did a few numbers, the band exhibited their talents, and the entertainment team lined up on stage to introduce themselves, say where in the UK they were from and see if the audience responded. A rare black face of the guy who was DJ - mostly whites on board apart from the waiters and stewards.