P&O Arvia Cruise Ship Review – Should you book?

Arvia is P&O Cruises’ newest ship and we recently took a 14-night Mediterranean cruise to find out what this cruise ship has to offer. This P&O Arvia cruise ship review will talk you through the best and worst of Arvia so continue reading to find out what we really thought.

If you are considering a cruise on P&O Arvia, we hope this will help you decide if this ship is right for you.

Where is P&O Arvia today?

Arvia is known as the ‘sunshine ship’ so cruises in the Caribbean during the winter and the Mediterranean during the summer.

In the Caribbean, it’s embarkation ports are Barbados and Antigua. For Mediterranean cruise, Arvia sails from Southampton.

P&O Arvia is currently here.

Is Arvia the biggest cruise ship?

P&O Arvia is the largest ship ever commissioned for the British cruise market and although she’s a sister ship to Iona, Arvia is heavier by 611 gross tonnes. This Excel Class ship has many other sisters within the Carnival Corporation such as Carnival Celebration, Costa Smerelda and AIDANova.

P&O Arvia

P&O Arvia can accommodate 5,200 passengers and up to 6,264 if all 3rd and 4th berths are occupied. You may be concerned (like we were) that this cruise ship is just too big with too many people onboard but surprisingly, Arvia was able to cope really well with the amount of passengers.

The current cruise price for P&O Arvia is very reasonable for a brand new ship and therefore, it’s likely that cruises on Arvia are going to be fairly full for the foreseeable future.

Listen to my review of Arvia on the Magically Cruising Cruise Podcast

P&O Arvia Cabins

P&O Arvia offers a wide range of different cabins to suit all preferences and price points. You can choose from an inside cabin right up to a huge suite.

The main types of cabins on P&O Arvia are:

  • Inside
  • Sea View
  • Balcony
  • Mini-suite
  • Conservatory Mini-suite
  • Suite

The most popular type of cabin on Arvia is a balcony cabin but it’s worth knowing that not all balcony cabins are the same. Location is key when deciding on a cabin and some are best avoided if you value your privacy!

The forward-facing balconies on Deck 8 offer no privacy and no view, which kind of defeats the object of paying for a balcony.

With that said, there are plenty of good cabins to choose from on Arvia so it’s worth doing some research on where you’d like to be situated before booking.

If you’re interested in treating yourself to a suite on P&O Arvia, there are some beautiful ones in great locations.

Take a look at one of the best suites on Arvia that Cruise With Amber enjoyed on the inaugural cruise.

P&O Arvia Inside Cabin Review

We booked an inside cabin on the Saver Rate, which didn’t allow us to choose our inside cabin location.

Overall, we found the cabin to be small but manageable for two people sharing. It had everything we needed.

We were apprehensive about how much storage space this cabin type would have but we managed to find somewhere to put everything – and we’re not light packers!

The plug sockets on P&O Arvia include UK, European and USB sockets, which is really useful. I created this handy guide to plug sockets on P&O Cruises to help with your next cruise.

Deck 4 is a really good location for getting on and off the ship in port, plus there’s very little movement, even in rough seas. Our cabin (4655) was in a unique location, which posed a bit of different a problem. Watch our cabin tour and review of an inside cabin on Deck 4 to find out what the issue was.

Dining on Arvia

P&O Cruises has stepped up its options in the dining department on Arvia, with a good selection of complimentary and specialty restaurants.

Meridian main dining room on P&O Arvia

There are four restaurants that are categorised as main dining rooms:

Across the ship there are 8 food venues that are included in your cruise fare and you can eat in all of these places with no extra charge. In addition to the main dining rooms mentioned above, you also have the choice of:

  • Horizon Buffet
  • The Quays
  • Taste 360
  • The Chef’s Table (available on celebration nights only)

We ate in all complimentary dining venues during our cruise and really enjoyed the variety that they offered.

Read my guide to complimentary dining on P&O Arvia

Zenith and Meridian Dining Rooms

Both of these dining rooms are almost identical in terms of decor and table arrangements. Zenith benefits from windows on either side and overlooks the Meridian restaurant, whereas Meridian has huge windows looking out over the wake.

The menu is the same in both restaurants so it doesn’t really matter which you choose to dine in. The menu changes daily but you will always find steak, a vegetarian option, a curry option, ice cream and a cheese board.

The food is good in the Meridian and Zenith for dinner, with recommendations from the chef and for wines.

The menus features gluten free, vegan and vegetarians options for each course.

Portion sizes were more than adequate for us and the service was friendly and attentive. During peak times it was a little slower but we were never in any rush to hurry through our dinner.

Here’s what we ate for dinner on one evening in the Zenith Restaurant.

It’s certainly worth dining in the Meridian or Zenith on at least one of the celebration nights to enjoy an elevated menu. The Baked Blueberry Souffle is particularly worth ordering.

baked blueberry souffle in the main dining room on P&O Arvia for celebration night
Baked blueberry souffle (vegetarian/gf)

Breakfast in the Meridian and Zenith is not to be missed because it’s a much calmer start to the day than the Horizon Buffet. This cruise was the most we’ve ever eaten breakfast in the main dining room.

There are healthy options as well as the traditional ‘Full English’ so everyone is catered for.

The Olive Grove

The Olive Grove is very popular on Iona and it’s worth dining here at least once during a cruise on Arvia. The menu is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, which is particularly apt for a Mediterranean cruise.

Service is fairly quick in this restaurant so it’s a good option if you have plans to watch a show. This restaurant is only open for dinner and reservations are recommended.

The Olive Grove menu on P&O Arvia

We were particularly impressed with the quality of the dishes, given that this was included in the cruise fare. There were choices of Italian, Spanish, Greek, Portugese, Sardinian and Turkish dishes on the menu. There are two menus that alternate every few days so if you have the time, we’d advise returning so you can try both.

Here’s what we ate for dinner in the Olive Grove.

6th Street Diner on P&O Arvia

This American-style diner is exclusive to P&O Arvia and is open for brunch and dinner. It’s a perfect option if you’re looking for casual dining with table service.

The brunch menu serves breakfast and lunch options from 10.00am, so is worth remembering if you choose to sleep in on a sea day.

There’s certainly a fun element to this restaurant with the crew dressed accordingly and 50s rock and roll music playing on the jukebox.

Read my full review of brunch and dinner at the 6th Street Diner.

6th street diner on P&O Arvia cruise ship

The Quays

Situated on Deck 8, The Quays offers quick, hot food options with a choice of three stations:

  • Hook, Line and Vinegar – Fish and chips
  • Asian Fusion – Asian dishes with noodles and rice
  • Roast Carvery – roast dinners and Yorkshire pudding wraps
the menu at The Quays on P&O Arvia
The menu changes daily at The Quays

The Quays is a really quick and easy place to get something to eat at pretty much any time of the day. There’s plenty of table seating inside but we also enjoyed taking our food to the outside dining area on port side.

We ate at all three stations during our cruise but our particular favourites were the Katsu Curry from Asian Fusion and the Fish and Chips from Hook, Line and Vinegar. We had these more than once because they were so tasty.

We’re not huge fans of eating roast dinner on holiday but this was also a popular choice with passengers. In our opinion, the Yorkshire pudding wraps sounded better than they were.

You can head to The Quays for breakfast as the stations serve breakfast items from 6.30am to 10.00am.

  • Hook, Line and Vinegar serves pancakes and waffles
  • Asian Fusion becomes an egg station with omlettes
  • Roast Carvery serves cooked breakfast items

We had breakfast in The Quays once during our cruise. The pancakes with bacon we had were very tasty and is a much quicker option than the 6th Street Diner if that’s what you are planning to order. It’s worth noting that the hot breakfast at the Roast Carvery was very popular and so you must be prepared to queue.

Taste 360

In the SkyDome is a pool-side grill option serving pizza, burgers, hotdogs and salads. The menu changes slightly each day to rotate through different variations of these items.

Don’t be put off by a queue, it moves fairly steadily because the food is being made constantly so you can grab what you want without having to place an order. We thought this was a very clever system to keep the waiting time to a minimum.

Chef’s Table

To cope with the inevitable demand for formal dining on celebration nights, P&O Cruises has introduced the Chef’s Table. We dined here on the first Celebration Night of our cruise.

The four-course menu is chosen by Marco Pierre White with wine pairings from Olly Smith but we felt it definitely deserved to be served in a better setting than the Horizon Buffet.

The menu caters for most passengers with vegetarian and gluten-free options and some vegan-friendly choices.

Here are two of the dishes we enjoyed the most from the Chef’s Table.

Horizon Buffet

The buffet on P&O Arvia is on Deck 16 and is fairly substantial in size. There’s food available almost all day for you to grab a snack or dine in a casual setting.

Even though the buffet is large, there are still times during the day that are particularly busy: breakfast and late at night.

The choice for breakfast is extremely good and has an assortment of hot and cold options from cereals and pastries to a cooked breakfast items. Breakfast is also when you can get complimentary fruit juices from the drinks machines, which is a nice little extra.

It did surprise us how busy the ‘midnight buffet’ was on our cruise. We did go a couple of nights for a little snack when we’d had a lighter dinner and it was queued with people filling their plates with noodles and all sorts! We’d heard the hot chocolate was worth trying, but for us, it didn’t live up to the hype.

midnight buffet on Arvia
Midnight Buffet

Overall, we were very impressed with the range of complimentary dining options on Arvia. There are formal and casual venues with table service as well as places you can grab a meal or snack without any fuss.

P&O Arvia Dining and the Virtual Queue

You can make reservations for all of the main dining rooms two weeks before your cruise on your P&O Cruises online account if you’re happy to eat early (5.00pm – 6.30pm). We would recommend doing this on days you really want to eat in a particular venue e.g. Meridian on Celebration Night.

After 6.30pm, the four main dining rooms require you to join a virtual queue on the My Holiday webpage but we found that going to the restaurant and collecting a buzzer was much quicker.

Don’t worry if you don’t book your dining in advance, there is always somewhere to eat on Arvia!

Entertainment on P&O Arvia

There’s a vast choice of entertainment on Arvia, which I’ve summarised in the table below. Each entertainment venue offers something slightly different so there’s lots to choose from.

Grand AtriumNightly aerialist performancesFreeNo booking required
Amber LoungeLive musiciansFreeNo booking required
BrodiesQuizzes, live musicFreeNo booking required
710 ClubNightly music sessionsFreeBooking required
Headliners TheatreMusicals, shows, guest performersFreeBooking Required
Limelight ClubDinner and guest performances, live music£ variesBooking required
SkyDomeDaily quizzes, live music, sail away parties and evening showsFreeNo booking required
The Club HouseNightly performances x 3 by Pulse house band and comedians on selected nightsFreeNo booking required
Sunset BarLive DJ every eveningFreeNo booking required
The Crow’s NestPianist/singer every eveningFreeNo booking required
Ocean Studios Cinema3 films screened throughout the dayFreeNo booking required

The only entertainment you need to pay extra for is the dinner and show in the Limelight Club but after that has finished, it’s open for anyone to enjoy the live music that starts at 10.30pm.

To find out more about the Limelight Club, read our useful guide.

Booking some of the entertainment takes the spontaneity out of your evenings but we can understand the need to do this, given the amount of passengers onboard.

The first week of entertainment can be booked 15 days before your cruise and the second week’s entertainment from a couple of days before the cruise and during the cruise.

Entertainment in the Grand Atrium and Amber Lounge

In the Grand Atrium there are nightly performances from aerial performers, which are very impressive. Each night is slightly different and it’s certainly worth catching some of these performances during a cruise.

The fact that the performers are doing it all without safety lines is even more impressive.

entertainment in the Grand Atrium on Arvia
Aerial performances in the Grand Atrium

The nearby Amber Lounge has a mix of entertainment and activities during the day and night. On our cruise, there were lessons in playing the castanets and talks about Spain as well as Spanish music.

Brodie’s Entertainment

Brodie’s is the British pub onboard Arvia and it did remind me a little of a Weatherspoons! This where the avid quizzers will be found because there are so many quizzes held in this venue.

Brodie's Pub P&O Cruises

Brodie’s has a dart board and pool table in one corners and small stage in another, where live music is performed.

This is also the place onboard to watch football and sports on the various TV screens dotted around the venue.

Brodie's is the place for quizzes
Brodie’s is the place for quizzes

We did stop by here on a couple of sea days to take part in a quiz but the evening quizzes were extremely popular and so it was probably the only venue on the entire ship we failed to find a spare seat.

710 Club

The 710 Club is located near the Grand Atrium and is a small venue that opens nightly. There are three sessions each evening, with live musicians taking on a different theme each night, e.g. 90s, songwriters, American vinyl.

Gary Barlow has has direct input into creating this venue by choosing music for the club, guiding future performers and playlists and even shaping the interiors and signature cocktails.

If you enjoy listening to live music, this is a perfect venue but does require a booking in advance on My Holiday. We didn’t manage to secure a booking but we did hover outside the 710 Club about five minutes before the start of a session and were able to get a seat. This has worked for others too, so don’t give up if you don’t book in advance.

Another tip I have is to make sure you order a drink before the music starts because waiter service completely stops during the performances.

Headliners Theatre

The Headliners Theatre on Arvia has numerous shows to keep you entertained throughout your cruise. There’s a mix of performances from music to comedy and there was a good amount of guest performers who joined throughout the cruise to add to the variety.

Headliners Theatre

In our opinion, The Greatest Days: Official Take That Musical in the Headliners Theatre was excellent. You don’t have to be a Take That fan to enjoy it and we thought it was the closest thing we’d seen to a proper musical on a cruise ship.

We also enjoyed several guest performers during our cruise including a vocal group called ODY.C and impressionist Jon Clegg. Guest performers change for each cruise but if either of these are on your sailing, we’d definitely recommend booking.

Entertainment in the Sky Dome

The Sky Dome is where you’ll find a lot of the family-friendly entertainment on Arvia. Once you get you’re head around the fact that it all takes place around a swimming pool, it does offer some completely different entertainment.

The space is bright and airy due to the glass roof.

You will find tribute acts here as well as some of the cruise ship performers’ shows that are weird and wacky.

Club House Entertainment on Arvia

We really enjoyed the Club House on Arvia for evening entertainment. Most nights, the house band would play three sets and it was the place where passengers would go for a dance. In effect, I’d say this is the onboard disco.

Throughout the cruise, there are themed nights such as Pure Pop, 70s, Motown and Floor Fillers. If you like to listen to upbeat music and have a dance, this is the best place to head.

Club House Arvia
The Club House
club house dance floor

Sunset Bar Entertainment

If you like the idea of looking out at the wake view with a cocktail and some background music, we’d recommend the Sunset Bar.

The entertainment is low key but definitely creates some Ibiza beach bar vibes, whilst you enjoy the warm evenings. There’s a DJ who plays music at the Sunset Bar from the late afternoon onwards so it’s a perfect spot to sit back and enjoy a chilled sail away.

Just remember, on Mediterranean cruises, the sunset can only be enjoyed at the Sunset Bar for the first half of the cruise (before the ship starts heading west again).

sunset bar
The view from the Sunset Bar

Entertainment in the Crow’s Nest

The Crow’s Nest offers some incredible views over the ship’s Bridge during the day and at night becomes a elegant spot to enjoy a drink.

Each evening there’s a pianist who plays and sings. The good thing about this venue is that you can still hold a conversation with people and enjoy the background music.

Things to do on P&O Arvia

There are many activities to choose from Arvia and if you want to make the most of your time onboard, the daily Horizon Newsletter will become your bible.

From 7.00am until past midnight, there are daily activities and entertainment to get involved in. From fitness classes and silent discos to talks about art and culture.

You can browse all of the Horizon Newsletters from a 14-night Mediterranean cruise on Arvia to give you an idea of what to expect. There’s even things to do on port days if you decide to have a fake sea day!

Being Active of Arvia

There are facilities and activities onboard to help to stay active during your cruise.

We enjoyed taking part in the daily Fitsteps classes in the Limelight Club. Fitsteps is a fitness class inspired by Strictly Come Dancing so you can enjoy a dance fitness class without needing to learn the technical steps.

The walking track is a fantastic way to exercise in the fresh air with sea views and there’s an area for table tennis and deck games like shuffleboard. We actually preferred the full wrap-around promenade on Deck 8, which allows you to walk right around the ship.

Unfortunately, if you like to swim, the pools on Arvia aren’t very big. The pool in the SkyDome is the longest pool and is quietest at the beginning or the end of the day.

The gym is located on Deck 5 forward and is very small, given the number of passengers onboard. It’s probably the first cruise ship gym without floor to ceiling windows but it was well used throughout the cruise.

Swimming Pools, Hot Tubs and a Swim-up Bar

There are four swimming pools on P&O Arvia that all offer something a little different:

  • SkyDome Pool (Deck 16) is the largest pool, it has a retractable roof that opens on hot days and is where a lot of families base themselves
  • The Panorama Pool on Deck 18 is an infitinity pool with views over the aft of the ship
  • The Beachcomber Pool is adult-only and has it’s own area with bar
  • The Infinity Pool offers gorgeous wake views and is next to the swim-up bar on Deck 16
Infinity Pool
The Infinity Pool on Deck 16 aft

A great feature of Arvia is the number of hot tubs that are available onboard – there are 18! Not only are they located next to each of the four pools, you’ll also find them dotted around the open decks on 8, 16 and 17.

There are so many hot tubs on Arvia, you can always find one to sit back and relax in, especially the ones located on Deck 16 and 17.

The infinity hot tubs allow you to look out to sea and we particularly enjoyed finding one of these as we left port.

The swim-up bar is a first for P&O Cruises and is a fun addition. There are stools in the water so you can sit and enjoy a cocktail whilst cooling off.

swim-up bar on Arvia
Enjoying a cocktail in the swim-up bar

Altitude SkyWalk

Do you enjoy a challenge? The Altitude SkyWalk is a high ropes course at sea that can be booked for a small fee. Adults are £10.00 and Children are £7.50 (height restrictions apply).

We’re not afraid to say, it scared us!

Everyone is given a safety briefing before being let loose on the course and the staff are on hand if you need extra help and encouragement. The safety locking system is very clever and actually put our minds at ease (slightly) that there was no way of falling.

Altitude SkyWalk Arvia safety briefing

The course takes you around a series of different challenging routes with obstacles and things to climb. You can even choose to ‘walk the plank’!

If you really want to do this while on Arvia, we’d recommend booking early in the cruise because it cannot operate during certain wind conditions. Therefore book with enough time to re-schedule if you need to.

Altitude Minigolf

If you prefer to enjoy yourself with both feet firmly on the ground, the mini golf course is located under the Altitude SkyWalk and requires no booking or fee. It’s a fun activity to do together any time between 9.00am and 10.00pm.

Altitude Minigolf

Shopping on Arvia

The main shopping area on Arvia is found on Deck 7 and it feels like you’ve stepped into a boutique shopping centre. Despite shopping not really being a priority, we could appreciate how nice this area was for a spot of window shopping.

Arvia shopping

There’s men’s and women’s clothing, beauty, fragrances, handbags, jewellery and watches as well as a P&O Cruises merchandise shop to buy your souvenirs.

The most popular shop onboard had to be the duty-free. We noticed a slight glimmer of fear on the staff’s faces here, with boxes and boxes of duty-free being wheeled in on sack trolleys to meet demand!

Kids Clubs on P&O Arvia

The Reef children’s clubs on P&O Cruises cater for children from 6 months to 17 years old. There are five different age groups:

  • Nursery (6 months to 2 years)
  • Splashers (2 to 4 years)
  • Surfers (5 to 8 years)
  • Scubas (9 to 12 years)
  • H2O/Scene (13 to 17 years)

P&O Cruises also offers a Night Nursery (6pm to midnight) for children aged 6 months to 4 years so that parents can enjoy an evening together, knowing their children are safe and being looked after. It’s important to be aware that it’s the parent’s responsibility to settle the child in the Night Nursery before leaving and this is not a drop-off service.

We were able to take a look around the kids club area on embarkation day and chat to staff about the activities. Everything is designed to be age-appropriate and there was plenty of things to keep the children busy.

For obvious reasons, there’s a limit on the number of children who can access the clubs each day and so it’s important to arrive early to avoid disappointment from the children and the adults. You can register children up to 14 days before your cruise and sessions can be booked once you get onboard.

It’s also important to know that P&O Arvia has a limit on the number of children who can cruise on each sailing (this is the case for other cruise lines too). Each sailing will have a maximum number so last-minute cruises may not be as easy to find for families.

Our Overall Thoughts on P&O Arvia

Arvia is a new cruise ship for the British market and marks a change in direction for P&O Cruises. This ship, along with her sister Iona, is designed much more with the ‘new to cruise’ and younger cruisers in mind.

Using technology to book dining and entertainment plays a much bigger role in the cruise experience. Although we are not averse to using technology, we felt that this did take away some of the spontaneity that we’ve enjoyed on cruises in the past.

We were impressed with the more casual approach that P&O Cruises has introduced on this ship. There are more casual dining options such as the 6th Street Diner and The Olive Grove. We also noticed that on celebration nights the full black attire we’d previously experienced on Britannia was not as strict.

Things we loved about P&O Arvia

  • The full wrap-around promenade deck
  • The Quays quick and easy food options
  • The Headliners Theatre shows
  • The ability to always find a sun bed
  • The huge number of hot tubs
  • The infinity pools and swim-up bar
  • The Beachcombers adult-only pool area
  • Water stations around the ship
  • All doors opening contactless
  • The variety of complimentary dining choices
  • The cocktail menu in the Amber Lounge
  • The Sunset Bar
  • Dinner in the Meridian and Zenith MDR on Celebration Night
  • The views from the Crow’s Nest

Things we disliked about P&O Arvia

  • The queues for lifts, buffet and shuttle buses
  • Our inside cabin
  • The size of the gym
  • The size of the swimming pools
  • Having to plan all dining and entertainment in advance
  • The Chef’s Table on Celebration Night
  • Limited entertainment in the Grand Atrium
  • Low crew to passenger ratio

As you can see, we enjoyed far more than we disliked about Arvia. This ship is an affordable choice to cruise the Mediterranean or Caribbean.

This cruise is excellent value and we’d recommend you take a look at what is included on a P&O cruise next.

If you’ve cruised on P&O Arvia, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.



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