My husband had warned me that he would probably be very bad tempered all day – he hates traveling, hates the hassle and REALLY hates queues. After an hour’s taxi journey to Southampton, we arrived at the well-signposted terminal. As we drew up to the kerb, a porter materialized to whisk our cases away. We have directed up an escalator to a comfortable sitting area and given cards with the letter H. There were racks of free magazines, and tea and coffee available, but we didn’t have much time to appreciate it all, as ‘everyone with boarding cards H please go to the desks’ was called. Within half an hour of arriving at the terminal, we had checked in, been through security, boarded, and were sitting up in the dining area drinking coffee and looking out at the activity on the docks 9 floors below us. No stress, no hassle, above all no bad-tempered husband. To anyone used to airport procedures, this was a complete revelation!
After a leisurely drink and snack, we wandered down to our cabin to find our cases already delivered to the door and started unpacking. Although we’d seen an inside cabin on the Ship’s Tour 5 months earlier, I was worried that it would be much smaller, darker and cramped than I’d remembered. No problem. Our cabin was clean, light and welcoming, with enough room to hold a desk, 2 chairs and a small table, 3 wardrobes and 2 bedside cupboards as well as a very large bed (2 large singles pushed together, with strangely 2 separate duvets, but extremely comfortable). On the desk was a flat screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities, and a hairdryer, with a large fridge underneath the desk, and a small safe in the wardrobe.
The only glitch came when I looked at the plug sockets ….Only one standard UK 3 pin socket, set right down at desktop level, and impossible to plug in anything large such as a phone or camera charger. The other sockets are continental 2 pin or those tiny little 3 pin low voltage ones. Advice – take a short 2 or 4 plug extension, and/or continental adaptors. I had to take my phone down to Reception, where they happily charged it for me whenever I asked. Incidentally, phone reception on board is erratic and very expensive while at sea, but you can use the cabin phone for a ship to shore call for £5 for 5 minutes.
When we had unpacked (OK, I unpacked, husband, lay on the bed to see if it was comfy), we went back upstairs to watch the ship set sail. You don’t get streamers and spectators waving on shore anymore, but we did get a Sail Away Party, and the ships hooter blasting away. Felt quite emotional watching land slip away, and also felt the first swaying of the decks as we left the calm of the harbor. We got talking to some other passengers, but soon it was time to freshen up before dinner. There are two dinner sittings on the Arcadia, one at 6.30 and one at 8.30, but we had booked for the earlier session so that we could go to the theatre at 8.45 rather than 10.45.
Very nice 3-course dinner, followed by coffee, then to the theatre for the introductory show by the Headliners onboard singers and dancers. A quick drink in the bar, a walk round the casino and then up to the cabin for our first night on board ship.