We embarked from Southampton and as always check in quite well organised and quickly on board - apart from a technical glitch at the check in terminals but can't be helped. Proceeded to our cabin only to be greeted by a cabin full of visitors who were being shown round the ship! They proceeded to tell US how much we had paid for the cabin (the lady doing the tour had told them how much) before disappearing. They were soon followed by another group ..... anyway it seems we were "too early" for the cabin and had to endure countless people wandering round the room before we got it all to ourselves. Anyway, that out the way - we were disappointed with the size of the room - half the size of the equivalent one on RCI. Having said that, bathroom was a great size with a spa bath and large shower. I will just list the rest of the points I want to make to avoid rambling on:
- cabin staff wonderful and very attentive and a joy to have around
- cabin clean and well maintained
- facilities in the cabin great - coffee machine, endless tea and coffee making products and biscuits
- restaurant staff brilliant and service faultless
- food in Bay Tree restaurant amazing and loved every meal
- ports we visited were lovely and although cut short on two occasions (3.30 pm departures) were pleasant. Can't comment on excursions as we went solo.
- drinks a reasonable cost and comparable to a normal pub price
- didn't really encounter problem obtaining sun lounger however they are crammed in so close to each other you have to get on and off the end unless you are crafty enough to move it and put a table between you and the next one
- gym facilities were great although disappointed there was only a couple of classes available and no Zumba as previous cruisers had mentioned
- unless you like art lectures/wandering round the few shops on board/playing bingo there is not much to do on board for adults. The gym was a godsend as on sea days I would have been climbing the walls.
- the Ventura is advertised as a family ship - there were adequate facilities for the younger children but (and I do realise that older teens are hard to entertain anyway) there seemed to be a lot of mid teens running about the ship, sitting on the stairs, generally mooching about - my son had a look at the entertainment for his age group (he is 14) and none of it had any kind of appeal to him. Whilst I realise this is personal choice, judging by the number of 14 year olds running about on the ship they didn't have much appeal to them either.
- the TV in the cabin had basic channels on (BBC world news, CNBC) but was dismayed that a lot of the movies (old ones at that ...) you had to pay to view! They had two episodes of a couple of dramas from a good few years ago that were free along with I think 5 movies but you had to pay for the rest (1.99 per movie).
- the layout of the ship is very confusing compared to other ships we have been on. It seems very disjointed - for example to get to the Bay Tree restaurant (which is clearly indicated as being on Deck 6) you have to go to the back of the ship, go up to deck 7, then go down again to Deck 6 as there is no direct access from the relevant deck. However, due to the extra miles I put in getting lost for the whole ten days, I came back having gained only two pounds even after all that fantastic food so can't complain :0)
All in all, disappointed with the cruise as we paid a lot of money for the cabin and for the same price on Royal Caribbean we felt we got a lot more for our money. Sorry P & O - just didn't feel luxurious at all - felt like corners had been cut in many areas.