We had previously cruised with NCL, Princess and Celebrity and were really looking forward to sampling P & O but unfortunately we were rather disappointed with some aspects of this cruise.
Our flight was a Thomas Cook charter to Barbados, and it was as good, if not better than many schedule flights, with plenty of legroom and attentive cabin crew.
Ventura is a large ship, chosen by us as I do not have the best sea legs and we thought it would be good to choose a large ship as we were crossing the Atlantic.
Our cabin was very nice, well equipped with a very helpful cabin steward.
However, the public rooms were not as grand as we had previously encountered, no impressive atrium or quiet reading rooms.
The dining room (Bay Tree) was well appointed and we were pleased to have a table for two, our two waiters were very attentive and pleasant but the food was not up to the usual cruise ship standard and the menu was not very varied. The drinks however were very reasonably prices, both the wine and the bar drinks, in some instances half the price of other cruises which was naturally a real plus.
We went on three shore excursions which we thoroughly enjoyed, our first was a tour of St Kitts where our guide was very knowledgeable and made the trip a joy. We then did a snorkeling trip on Tortola with two snorkeling sites, again our guides were very professional with the snorkeling being best off 'Treasure' Norman Island. Finally, we did a tour on the Azores, which again was very good with a lovely local guide. The Azores was an unscheduled stop but a real gem and far preferable to Tenerife.
Unfortunately there were two aspects of this cruise which really spoilt our holiday; the first was the attitude of the Shore Excursions and shop staff on board ship, we found they lacked any social skills and had total apathy when you expressed any interest in any port of call or any shop items. The second was the number of places on the ship where smoking was permitted. As people who like to take a stroll along the Promenade Deck you had to walk through the 'fog' every time on the Starboard side. Additionally, smoking was also permitted in one of the outside bars, near one of the pools and on the balconies, one of our neighbours was a smoker which spoilt our use of our balcony. Indeed, the smoking issue was a real down side for us, we will seriously have to consider whether we would cruise with P & O again if they continue to give preference to smokers over non smokers.