P&O Artemis is one of two CHILD FREE ships in the P&O fleet, the other one being Arcadia. At 44,348 tons Artemis is some 38,624 tons smaller than Arcadia so almost half the size. She is an intimate ship with traditional features such as the wrap-around teak deck . She will accommodate 1,200 passengers with a passenger to crew ratio of 2.4.
Features include a casino with both gaming tables and slot machines, two swimming pools and two splash pools, two whirlpools, a fitness centre, a launderette, a dedicated cinema (a rare thing at sea nowadays) and a library.
Accommodation is all outside view with no inside staterooms at all, there is a total of 600 staterooms with 152 staterooms having private balconies and four staterooms having wheelchair access. There are nine passenger decks all very well designed if not a little unusual in the fact that the staterooms are all situated on decks above the public room decks. However, this doesn’t seem to spoil the feel of the ship and everywhere appears light and there is good access and passenger flow to all areas.
I was boarding Artemis in Southampton for one of P&O’s weekender mini cruises, four nights taking in two European ports Zeebruge and Amsterdam. After my long drive from my home on the Essex coast I was looking forward to a quick and easy check in at Southampton (as has always been the case whenever I have sailed from Southampton) unfortunately on this occasion not everything went according to plan as I would have liked, there was a bit of confusion over where I was to leave my vehicle and the check in was late opening but all in all still a lot less bother than checking in at an airport.
I got on board just after 12:00 so it was straight to the Conservatory Restaurant for some lunch, There was an excellent choice of hot and cold food. I then explored the ship a little and managed to get a guided tour of the treatment rooms in the Oasis spa. It was then up on deck at 17:00 for a “Sail Away” drink although as it was late September and the evenings were starting to get a little chilly we soon retreated to the Horizon Lounge for our pre-dinner drinks.
The Horizon Lounge would prove one of the most popular places on the ship with its panoramic views and comfortable seating, it also doubled as the night club in the evenings. Dinner was at 18:30 in the Coral Dining Room, a very elegant room on just one deck, the food served here throughout the cruise proved to be of a very high standard and the staff were very friendly and helpful.
After dinner it was off to the International Lounge to see the swinging 60’s show, this is the main show lounge and is very comfortable with good views all round. We then went to the Starlight Lounge to listen to the band before ending up at the Horizon Lounge.
Day one and the morning was spent at sea, I got to speak to a couple of the officers who are in charge of arranging weddings at sea, something which is becoming more and more popular, they informed me that to renew your vows cost from £250 where as a wedding costs from £1,000.
We arrived in Amsterdam at 14:00 and I joined one of the ships excursions, we boarded a coach which took us on a tour of the City, stopping off at a beautiful windmill which had been turned into a home and then on to a clog makers where we saw the clogs being made and had the opportunity to sample home made cheeses. We finished off the excursion with an hour long canal trip.
That Evening we had dinner in the speciality restaurant “The Grill”, a good choice of steaks and fish dishes. We then went to the International Lounge to see Darren Day, the cabaret act for the evening, and then onto the Horizon Lounge for the Kareoke.
As the ship was to be in port over night it was possible to go ashore at anytime and spend the evening in Amsterdam, I decided not to as I was more than happy with the facilities onboard.
Day two and after an excellent breakfast in the Conservatory Restaurant I made my own way ashore, around a 20 minute walk into the city. After a most interesting couple of hours spent at the Anne Frank Museum I had a most enjoyable lunch at a pavement restaurant in Dam Square before rejoining the ship at about 15:00.
Tonight was formal night so it was cocktails with the Captain prior to dinner and another evening of good food and entertainment.
Day three and we arrived in Zeebruge, it was possible to take the ships excursions into Bruges etc. but I decided to make my own way, taking the ships courtesy bus to Blankenburg the local train station and taking the train into Bruges. Once there I ambled around the little cobbled streets lined with chocolate and lace shops and whiled away the time sat at a restaurant in the square opposite the Bell Tower, it was a beautiful sunny day and unfortunately all too soon I had to return to the ship for my final evening of the cruise.
Throughout the cruise the food, entertainment and staff had all been of a very high standard, the ship was clean and well looked after and it was a friendly atmosphere.
Being a child free ship meant that life on board seemed less hectic, calmer and easier to sit back and relax. Although this was a weekender minicruise which will understandably attract groups of revellers i.e. stag and hen dos there was no evidence of any misbehaviour on this cruise and a good time seemed to be had by all. The average age on this cruise was probably mid fifties, Artemis has a loyal following with the highest repeat bookings of any P&O ship.
For those wanting a medium sized intimate ship with good service, food and entertainment and child free, look no further than Artemis.
Robert Lidster, January 2009