My Auntie Joan and Uncle Gordon always swore that there was not other cruise line to be considered except P&O so when my husband booked a holiday on the Ventura for our first wedding anniversary I was really excited. Although I had cruised before I had not been on P&O one.
We were delighted at the free coach to take us down to Southampton which saved time,money and driving and the check in was relatively trouble free. Finding out cabin was easy and our luggage was already there for us and the cabin was great but would have been improved by adding a comfy chair.
Service throughout the ship was generally good and the good was excellant and we found no need to visit the specialist restaurants which always seemed empty anyway so obviously others agreed with us!
P&O has kept their reputation of formal evenings. I well remember my aunt;s first cruise and the excitement of buying the dinner suit and dresses and this was well enforced this time, even to the extent that we were asked to leave, non too politely, from one bar as my husband had removed his jacket (I had spilt red wine down it) even though I was still obviously in evening dress and the bar manager was rude and beligerant.
However this standard of etiquette was not carried through with passenger behaviour with children running riot around the ship, racing to get drinks and screaming around the corridors. One one occasion were were enjoying one of the vocalists when a group of people began screaming to each other across the bar with no respect for the performers or other passengers yet no one asked these people to behave.
There were precious little room to sit outside where others were not smoking or not on a sunbed and the smell of cigarette smoke was so bad it permeated the ship in many areas.
Areas and activities were not well advertised. We did not know about the free saunas; the glass house was advertised as an exclusive area with a cover charge of £30 but in fact only a portion of it was reserved for diners with a cover charge of just over £6.00 and the bar area was extremely nice - pity we only found it on day 12!!! One fellow passenger had been on the ship on three occasions and did not know about it!
I would have loved to look around the "inside" of the ship but at a charge of £75 per person to pay for a person's time who is already there was extortion personified.
As for fellow passengers I did rather feel that we had been transported to Butlins on the Sea rather than Butlins by the sea and on occasions the family interactions could be liken to Jeremy Kyle's Green Room.
Organisation for getting on and off the ship and disembarkation were excellent and they seemed to have learned a great deal about people movement from Disney so no complaints here.
However, I am afraid to say Aunty Joan, the past aura the P&O is sadly in the past and I don't think we will travel with them again.
On the last note - compliments to the Chef as the food was exceptionally good and Sharon who looked after us was a delight. As for interior design - get a new one - the buffet rooms were lovely, other were a very dark sea of red and brown and depressing!