I have been on an excellent two week Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Ventura with P&O Cruises.
P&O Cruises Ventura is 116,000 tonnes first entered service in 2008 and was refurbished in 2013.
The ship has a capacity of 3,078 passengers with 1,205 crew. In the refurbishment The Ramblas has been replaced by The Glass House by Olly Smith.
The two week Caribbean Cruise visited the ports of St Vincent, Dominica, St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts, Grand Turk, Tortola, St Maarten and Barbados.
The embarkation process was smooth and efficient. At Barbados airport a coach was waiting to take you straight to the ship and you luggage was taken from the plane to your ship and into your cabin.
This is the most impressive embarkation on to a cruise ship with a long haul flight I have every experienced.
Usually after a long haul flight you have to queue at Passport Control for half an hour to an hour before collecting your luggage to take to a transfer coach or taxi.
It rained when we were there. Not much to see at Kingstown the capital of St Vincent as it is not set up for cruise ships. If the weather is good I would recommend an excursion to Mustique.
The capital is Roseau where the ship docks. I went for a walk from the ship to the capital.
The capital was full of tourist shops but the streets had some open sewers and were very smelly.
There was a lot of poverty in Roseau and I was approached by several beggars.
I went zip lining which was excellent with eight runs. Ideal if you are looking for something different.
For first timers I would recommend the Land and Seat Tour of the island. Castries the capital of the island of St Lucia is excellent for shopping.
In Antigua I went to the Coconut Grove Beach which is a picture postcard Caribbean Beach.
Antigua is famous for it's beaches with one for every day of the year so in Antigua it would be rude not
to go to the beach. For history buffs and culture vultures P&O Cruises offered an island tour.
The ship docks in St Johns right in the heart of the Capital. It is a good town for shopping and felt like
one the safest islands in the Caribbean.
The ships docks in Basseterre the capital of St Kitts and has excellent shopping facilities.
I took an excursion on the train around St Kitts running on the line that was used to transport
sugar cane. Sugar Cane production was stopped in 2004 after it became unprofitable.
The train takes you in the heart of St Kitts to give you a feel for the island.
The ship docks in a purpose built pier and terminal at the south of the island. Grand Turk is a small island with salt ponds and white coral sand beaches. The beaches here are some of the best in the Caribbean.
Grand Turk feels like the Bahamas but with warmer weather. Grand Turk is an island paradise.
The ship docks at the edge of Road Town the capital of Tortola and the British Virgin Islands.
Road Town is very small with a few basic amenities a few tourist shops.
I went on an excursion to Virgin Gorda and to Devils Bay beach. The beach at Devils Bay is one of the best in the world and is how I would imagine a beach in the Seychelles. The beach at Devils Bay was one of the highlights of the cruise and my only disappointment with the P&O Cruises excursion is that we got 45 minutes at the beach, when 2 - 3 hours would have been better. We caught the 12:30pm ferry back from Virgin Gorda to Tortola whereas a ferry at 2.30pm - 3.30pm would have been much better.
The ship docks at Phillipsburg, St Maarten which is one of the best capital cities in the Caribbean.
The duty free shopping in Phillipsburg, St Maarten is amazing with extremely low prices on tobacco products and alcohol. If you are going to buy duty free loose tobacco, cigarettes or alcohol Phillipsburg, St Maarten is the place to buy it.
It did a snorkeling excursion by catamaran which was excellent and they kept the rum punch flowing.
In the Caribbean Rum Punch is the national drink similar to Vodka in Russia and Pints of Beer in Britain.
The ship docks at the industrial port at the edge of Bridgetown, Barbados. As Barbados is a former British Island they are very welcoming to British tourists. Although the currency they prefer is US Dollars not British Pounds. I would recommend the US Dollar as the currency to take to the Caribbean Islands.
I did an excursion to swim with Turtles which is great, snorkeling over a shipwreck with lots of fish and coral in Carlisle Bay and then off to a beach for a while.
I opted for Club Dining on the Ventura and chose second sitting at 8:30pm on a table for 10 in the
excellent Baytree Restaurant. The decor was classic P&O with dark browns and badges.
The service from our two waiters was superb and when you made a special request they would get you what you wanted if it was possible to do so.
There were three formal nights when you had to wear a dinner jacket or tuxedo for men or an evening gown for ladies and eleven smart casual nights. The dress code was strictly enforced.
For breakfast I went to the Waterside Buffet which had a superb choice of cereals, fresh fruits, yoghurts and a full English Breakfast as well. There was also an area for Omlette's. The only downside was that there were no hash browns but fried potatoes were available. For those that prefer Waiter Service the Saffron Restaurant was available from 7.00am - 9.00am every morning.
For lunch I usually dined at the Waterside Buffet which had a good choice of hot and cold food.
Everything needed for a salad was available. If you prefer something hot there was usually a choice of two meats and vegtables, Fish Pies, Lasagne, Mousaka, rice and occasionally Curries.
For lunch if you didn't want to go to the Waterside Buffet Hot Dogs and Burgers were available at Frankies Grill. Pizza's and Ice Cream at Frankies Pizzeria. The Cinnamon Restaurant was open from 12:00pm - 1:30pm for those that prefer Waiter Service.
The Select Dining Venues are the White Room Marco Pierre's Restaurant and Atul Kochhars East.
The White Room is a five star restaurant which charges £25pp for an enhanced menu. The White Room offers dining similar to the Celebrity Chef restaurants in London at a fraction of the price. The equivalent Gordon Ramsay London Restaurant meals start at £80pp.
East is the Asian Fusion Restaurant designed by Atul Kochhar and charges £15pp. I didn't dine at these restaurants but fellow passengers on my table did and they were impressed with the quality of food in the White Room and the variety on offer in East.
I also dined at the Beach House which is a section of the Waterside Buffet which offers Waiter Service at night. The service in the Beach House was good but not as personal as that received in the Baytree Restaurant. The quality of food in the Beach House was as good as the Baytree Restaurant.
The drinks on Ventura are the lowest prices I have seen on a cruise ship. They were much lower than Royal Caribbean, NCL, Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises. Plus they don't charge a 15% tip on every drinks purchase. The drinks service on board the ship was very good with attentive waiters.
You could get pints of beer in the Exchange and watch the football if you wanted to. This area was particularly popular on sea days. The price of a pint of beer was less than a small bottle of 330ml on Royal Caribbean. With Royal Caribbean for the price of one small bottle of beer you get two bottles of beer with P&O Cruises when you add the 15% gratuity to the bill with Royal Caribbean. A pint of beer costs £4.75 at the exchange bottles ranged from about £3.50 - £4.50. Spirit mixer drinks were good value at under £4.
There are lots of venues to drink on board Ventura. The night club Havana was a popular place to drink after midnight as it was the last place going late at night. Metropolis on Deck 16 at the rear of the ship has a video wall with a different city a night and was a popular spot for a drink and music with a live band.
They also had good value wine packages, coke packages and ice cream packages which you could buy on the ship. If you like drinking lots of wine, coke or eat lots of ice cream I would recommend purchasing a package on board the ship.
I watched most of the 10:30pm in the superb two deck Arena Theatre. The theatre was grand without being ostentatious, understated in a rather British way. The singing and dancing shows by the Headliners were great and the best I have seen on a Cruise Ship. The Comedian Mark Walker was very good and his impressions of Billy Connolly and Liam Gallagher were spot on. He could be the new Alistair McGowan.
I was impressed that after the second sitting there was a show in the Arena Theatre at 10:30pm every night. Whereas on some other Cruise Lines the Show is a 7:15pm before the Second Sitting. This is particularly annoying on formal and black tie nights when you have to get dressed up for dinner.
From 11:30pm there was always a singer at the Tamarind Club on Deck 7. Although the singer was always singing music from the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's.
The ships nightclub the Cuban Themed Havana was a popular for dancing after midnight.
From 10:30pm comedians, singers and quizzes often took place at Havana.
The disembarkation process was very efficient by P&O Cruises. I disembarked on a Saturday and you had to fill out a form and complete the process at 7:00am on Friday morning. On Saturday morning you had to disembark your cabin by 9:00am and you were allowed to stay on the ship until 1:00pm when the coach left for the airport. Between 9:00am and 1:00pm the Arena Theatre was used to leave your luggage so you didn't have to carry it around.
You had to pay for the Mr Whippy Ice Cream onboard the ship at Frankies Pizzeria. On other cruise ships I have been on Mr Whippy Ice Cream is included in the price and a self service machine is provided in the Buffet Restaurant.
The Hot Dogs and Burgers at Frankies Grill were located so you would buy a drink with if from one of the bars nearby. On other ships the Hot Dogs and Burgers were available in the Buffet Restaurant.
Tazzine the ships Coffee Shop located on Deck 5 only had items available for purchase. If you wanted a large biscuit or a cup cake you had to purchase a branded coffee or branded tea. On other cruise ships opposite the Coffee Shop there was a self service tea and coffee machine and you could get large biscuit of a cup cake for free.
The title of the menu's in the Baytree Restaurant were in French. P&O Cruises caters mainly for British Passengers whose first language and often only language is English. If I cruised on a French Ship I would be surprised if the menu was in English. American ships have menu's in English, Italian Ships in Italian why P&O Cruises didn't have menu's in English I don't know.
Nearly every night I had to ask the waiter to explain the menu as it was in French and get an English translation. Some nights the Menu might as well have been in Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Mandarin Chinese or Swahili. An example was Sachertorte, I did not have the foggiest what this was. The waiter told me it was Chocolate Cake. Why P&O could have called it Chocolate Cake to make it easier to understand I just don't know.
A lot of the excursion were only for 3 - 4 hours and left at 8:00am - 9:00am in the morning leaving you with the rest of the afternoon to find something to do.
The P&O Cruises Ship Ventura is one of the best ships I have ever been on along with Royal Caribbean's Liberty Of The Seas. The Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabin was superb and is the best cabin I have ever had on a cruise ship. The facilities on board the ship are excellent and you will never be bored on Ventura. The drinks on Ventura are the lowest prices I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The entertainment was the best I have ever had on a cruise ship. Both the dancers, singers and comedians were superb. It is certainly geared up well for British Passengers.
I was impressed with P&O Cruises that there was no old fashioned bingo advertised or Mr & Mrs quiz that
takes place on Royal Caribbean, NCL, Costa and MSC Cruises. Plus there was minimal selling of art, the casino, drinks, excursions, shopping, etc which can drive you mad on cruise ships. The soft sell of
P&O Cruises is appreciated by its passengers unlike the hard sell that you get on other cruise lines.
The Caribbean is the best place in the world to go cruising as the islands are set up perfectly for cruise ships.