To say that Ventura was disappointing would be huge understatement. OK firstly I should say that we booked late and got a huge discount, as did pretty much every other guest we spoke to, had we have paid full fare I would have been complaining like crazy. The boat was full of people who had paid less than 500 for an inside cabin and were determined to eat at least 1000 worth of food, if you enjoy all-inclusive holidays in Benidorm then this is the one for you. Does that sound a bit snobbish? Well I'm a council house kid from South East London and I was embarrassed to be British at times.
The quality of the food in the main restaurant was poor and service not much better. First night we were treated to a prawn cocktail that consisted of a small lettuce leaf on top of which were piled watery frozen prawns and no sauce, followed by what in the seventies used to be called chicken corden bleu accompanied by croquet potatoes. It was like the chef had been down to Iceland and bought what was on offer that day. I say chef but I use the term loosely, I do not consider heating pre-prepared food as cooking. The Sommelier hadn't the first clue about wine, (apparently Fleurie is now Spanish), and did not even know how to pour a glass of wine properly. In fairness The White Room was excellent in all respects, quality of food & service but at an extra cost of 25 per head. I would whole heartedly recommend it though as it is definitely worth the money.
In the self service restaurant pandemonium reigned, apart from the piranha's fighting over every morsel the staff had a habit of randomly shutting off sections of the servery as and when it suited them. On three occasions at breakfast I actually managed to find a croissant available on display, on every other day I had to ask for one. Each time I did this the request would be transferred via two or three people to someone in the bakery area who would miraculously produce a croissant. This ritual was performed by many other guests who as frustrated as I was voiced their displeasure. The bus boys whipped the plates away before the last mouthful was swallowed and had virtually all forgotten how to smile. These are only a few of the daily annoyances( don't get me started on the availability of cups) and basically all come back to one thing - Poor Management.
The staff in the bars were a bit better in that they always greeted guests with a smile and took the orders promptly, but then generally left you waiting for a while before the drinks arrived.
In fairness the entertainment was very good and in particular the dance instructors were excellent, probably the most enthusiastic people on the boat. The theatre group put on some great shows and most of the entertainers were value for money. One exception though was Kate Robbins, Oh dear! half the audience walked out, I'm not sure if it was because of the rubbish act or the smell of booze.
The cabins are not bad, we had a balcony room which was OK, the bathroom was a little on the small side but adequate, and the hanging rail arrangement was better than the wardrobes you usually find. Our cabin steward was excellent. Friendly, helpful and nothing was too much trouble for him, whoever trained him should train the restaurant staff, a smile costs nothing.
The weather was a bit rough going across the Bay of Biscay but I didn't think Ventura handled it very well, the ship rocked and rolled all over the place and many people were seasick. We've experienced worse weather than that coming across the North Sea and not had anything like as much movement.
Our previous cruise was on Celebrity Eclipse and that ship is a world away from this one, the Eclipse beats Ventura in every single department in my opinion. Our verdict was - P & O Could do better. Next cruise will be Celebrity I think.