Before I do a general overview of the cruise here is some useful information.
The Inside cabin:
The room was big enough to have two single beds pushed together to make a large kingsize bed yet there was still 18 inches either side to get around the bed.
There is small amount of light entering the room through the door air vent so it is not pitch black. The room has a hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities which are refilled a couple of times a day and there are also biscuits. The water from the tap in the bathroom is drinkable and we saved our 2 small bottles to refill with tap water to take to the sunbeds with us. You can buy small bottle of water for 80p or large bottles of spring water from Costa Coffee on deck 5. The bathroom is not huge but is functional and has enough room to move around. You also get towels for sunbeds so you don't need to take them with you. You store your cases under the beds and there is plenty of room
Laundry and ironing:
Not sure if this applies to all decks but there was washing and drying facilities on deck 11 which also has 2 ironing boards and steam irons.
There are several shops on deck 6 and 7 midships near the atrium which sell clothes including Tuxedo jackets and dickie bows. You can buy paracetemol and tummy tablets etc and toiletries. There are jewellers on board with various kinds of jewelry and watches. Costa coffee is on deck 5 and has similar prices to home and don't forget to get your free piece of cake.
Dining: When we booked 10 weeks before departure we opted for freedom dining but when we arrived we were allocated places on a table for 8 on second sitting. Apparently freedom dining was over subscribed so we could not have this option they did however put us on a table of 8 on first sitting in the Bay Tree when we requested a change and we had lovely company. What we did not realise is that if you opt for freedom dining you can only use this option in the cinnamon restaurant.
Our cruise experience.
We used the CPS parking at the dockside at Southampton and the service was quick and efficient and cost Â£148 for 2 weeks. Having only been on one previous cruise on Island Star a few years ago we did not know what to expect. This cruise experience it has to be said was a cut above. The room was bigger and more comfortable the food in the restaurants was excellent although I have to admit that I felt the beach house and waterfront restaurants were a bun fight so we tried to avoid these after the first couple of days and had breakfast and lunch in the Saffron which was far more pleasant.
The five course menu in the evening offered 3 choices of starter, 2 choices of soup, 5 choices of main course and 3 choices of sweet plus cheese and biscuits and coffee. After finishing dinner at 8pm we went to watch several of the shows in the Arena theatre . The Headliner theatre group put on some lovely shows of west end quality which lasted 45 mins. A couple of comedy shows including Mark Walker were excellent and his impressions of Liam Gallager and Billy Connelly were very funny. To ensure you get a seat make sure that you get to the theatre at least 20 mins before the show starts because they fill up quickly and the ship was under capacity by 400 passengers.
First port of call was Cadiz on Day 4 which was a lovely town but to be honest we did not need to use the open top bus to get around it. As you come out of the gate there was an information desk with a useful map and it is easy to walk around.
The second stop was Barcelona and again we did the Green route open top bus tour which takes around 70 mins but this is mainly due to stop start heavy traffic. Parc Guell was a nice place to see but be warned that where you get off the open top bus it is approximately 400 yds to walk up a fairly steep incline and free entry. Saw La Sagrada Familiar from the bus and it was very busy around the area. We then went onto the cathedral and Las Ramblas which was nice to walk around.
Third Stop was Ville Franche which we had to land by Tender. This was quite efficient and we only had to wait 20 mins. Once there we picked up a map from the information desk and asked the ladies for directions to the bus for Nice. This is a 10 minute walk up hill to the bus stop. The number 100 runs apx every 15 mins and costs one euro. There are information screens on the bus showing where you are, we did not get off at the first bus stop but at the terminus which was one stop later and in the centre of Niece. Journey time is about 20 mins and you get the same bus back. A taxi will cost you 35 Euro each way. Nice is nice but not cheap. A 500ml bottle of coke from a news stand was 2.8 euro, a coffee and a beer on the promenade was 8.8 Euro.
I liked Ville Franche it's a very pretty town.
Stop 4 Civitavecchia
Having done Rome before we stayed on the boat here.
Stop 5 Livorno
We did not do Pisa or Florence as again we had done this before but we did visit the town and it was pleasant to walk around the indoor market and have a coffee in one of the squares. From the shuttle bus drop off point it was about a 10-15 minute walk to the centre.
Stop 6 Alicante
This was a pleasant place to visit with a nice beach area and centre. Had a look around the modern art gallery which was free to enter and was quite interesting. Some nice buildings to see and the town is easy to walk around.
Stop 7 Gibralter.
Had a walk into Gibralter for some Duty Free alcohol and it is much cheaper than on the ship. The main street seemed to go on forever with Perfume, jewelry and duty free shops all over the place.
To summarise we really enjoyed our cruise on Ventura and would certainly consider this trip in the future. Our cabin Steward Mack on deck 11 was wonderful and really took care of us. The drinks are reasonably priced and the entertainment and nightly quizzes were great fun. The holiday was made more special by the lovely people we met, including Ian ,Ann, Roz , Lisa, Vic and Val. Must not forget Jo from the entertainment team nice girl with a BIG personality.
Some Technical Info
The ship uses 96 gallons of fuel per mile at 17.8 Knots and can carry 3200 tonnes of fuel on board which is enough to travel 8400 miles. Our cruise was apx 4500 miles which mean we must have used over 400000 gallons of fuel so if you are bothered about your carbon footprint ????????.
Ventura makes its own water from Seawater and can store 3 million litres in its 12 tanks.