We went with 3 generations as I suspect did many families on this cruise - ages from 65 to 8.
We left our car at the port as usual and although we arrived 5 minutes before our boarding time were faced with huge queues to board, in the end we got our paper work done and just sat and waited for the lines of standing passengers to clear and then when there were only 8 or 10 left joined in - we were last on the boat but at least we didn't stand for 50 minutes in line
The cabins (Deluxe Balcony) were the best part of the entire cruise, I highly recommend them, large with big sitting area and nice balcony, steward wonderful.
We set sail and were standing by the swimming pool near the pizza parlour as we progressed up the Solent when the ship lurched to the left and a huge amount of water slopped out of the side of the pool and ran down the deck, we later discovered in ran into the buffet area and as the carpet was so wet that part of the buffet had to be closed off - which resulted in more queues as people had nowhere to sit - we were told later it was a problem with the ballast tanks.
The weather was appalling - force 10 winds, very high seas - we were OK but the younger generations were not, so their first day at sea was spent lying down. We wandered about the ship, we last sailed on the Ventura in 2010 and I really think standards have slipped in that time - cost cutting I presume, if you wanted a coffee or whatever you sat down and eventually a steward would take your order and card and then disappear or just prop themselves up against the nearest bar and chat, one coffee order took nearly 45 minutes to arrive, completely unacceptable. They had your card so you were stuck.
The first port was Vigo, we had a good walk round and found the people to be really charming and friendly.
Lisbon is very rundown we hopped on the tourist bus and had a good city tour, there are some beautiful places there but it does need a coat of paint, the recession has hit Iberia very hard
We never made Oporto as the weather was too poor to get into the harbour, so a rather boring sea day, looking round there were a lot of long faces. My daughter in Law checked out the craft session where the "very reasonably priced" supplies to make the bracelet cost an astonishing 25, for a thin strip of leather and a couple of beads, she teaches craft in the UK and was appalled saying it was such a rip off.
La Corunna was very nice, probably the best port of all.
We took Freedom Dining which was not a success, we queued for every meal we had from breakfast to Dinner, although for dinner you are given a bleeper which tells you when your table is ready - normally 30 to 40 minutes. The food was good but not exceptionable - we ate one evening in the restaurant that was formerly called East in 2010 the meal we had there was superb none of the best fusion meals I have ever eaten how it is called Atol Kochar I think and was disappointing alas,
The afternoon tea queues were huge enough to put you off waiting.
The Buffet areas were clean and the food looked fairly appetizing but as half of the place was out of action it was very slow there and often not possible to find a seat, if only people who have finished moved on it would help but many don't and seem to sit there for hours so they can get a free cup of tea when they want. Anyways we go on cruises to be pampered not to do self service and get shoved about in a queue
As to entertainment they had a very good Johnny Cash Tribute who was excellent at one end and that ran through to the other to a supposed comedian - who was truly awful and embarrassing to watch struggle.
The grandchildren didn't use the clubs much, they preferred to swim and play games with their parents. They did enjoy themselves though and can't wait to go on another cruise - they are besotted by Room Service!!
Service in the public rooms was slow and at times reluctant, the meal service was at times so fast that the waiter would try to whip your plate away before you had finished. Room service was a bit hit and miss, timings are not now what they were. Only the cabin steward was marvellous nothing was too much trouble, he soothed sea sick children with a practiced hand, well done him
All in all if you don't mind the rather holiday camp atmosphere, the queuing and waiting for things then go P&O but I will not cruise with them again, I found it to have been a very disappointing week of my life, we usually cruise with Cunard and the gap between them & P&O is widening. We have had a week on a Cunard ship since April and it was just superb, very, very few queues everything just as it ought to be - if only P&O could do the same