my husband and i took our first cruise 2 years ago on an american cruise liner and my husband hated it.. He reluctantly agreed to make the "sacrifice to take me on a P&O cruise to the Carribean for my 60th birthday on the uinderstanding that if he disliked it again the word cruise would not pass my lips again - Well given he would have been prepared to stay on the ship for another 2 weeks at the end of the trip I can safely say this cruise was a great success.
Firstly it really helped that this was a British cruise ship and everything about it was very British, from the entertainment to the sail away parties, games on deck, talks on Nelson in the Carribean and the absolutely fabulous afternoon teas, with warm scones and teacakes and jam and cream and dainty little cakes.
Secondly it is essential to choose the right area to cruise in. We are very active people and not sunbathers. so it was great that we spent very little time at sea, arrived at 7.am at most destinations and were able to disembark as early as 8.15am We then toured each island by local taxi's and hit the beaches for swimmimg before heading back to the ship at 4 p.m to get afternoon tea. It is wrong to assume cruising is for the feeble oldies. We did so much each day we actually looked forward to a day on board to recuperate ready for the next landing. When we had a day on board we chatted to other passengers and took in the entertainment. Formal dining took place on the 3 days we were at sea so I also took the opportunity to spend a little time getting my hair back into shape. We were never bored.
The carribean is a delight but I wouldn't have wanted to spend more than a few days in each destination so the cruise was a perfect way to do it. For many on the cruise this was their second, 3rd or even 4th time cruising the Carribean and they suggested on the first cruise you should take the opportunity to tour the islands to get a feel for each destination and then take the cruise a second time and just hit the best beaches. That's an idea we may take up.in 2014/15.
The Ventura may not be the most spectacular ship on the ocean but we found it spacious and dined well in the Bay Tree Restaurant. There were some interesting and fun people on our table so we chose to dine there each evening to catch up but had that not been the case we could have chosen freedom dining instead. The food was excellent in the Bay Tree and our waiters a joy to be with each night. In general we found all the staff friendly and anxious to please (excluding security staff, whether on the ship or at the airport - are these people specifically selected to have no sense of humour) The entertainment particularly from the inhouse theatre group was very good - west end style shows lasting about 45 minutes and then on to one of the bars to see tribute acts and comedians. Generally all very good.
The casino was a little small and we had difficulty in getting on the tables after 10pm. One great thing about P&O above other cruise lines is they will allow you to bring your own drink on board and take it to your room . I believe most cruise ships take it off you and return it at the end of the cruise We didn't do it because we are not drinkers but many were bringing cheap liquor on board from the duty free shops. The only thing which spoiled our cruise was finding out that people in better cabins had paid a lot less than us because they had booked only two weeks before sailing - some people they had paid substantially less than others and caused a great deal of resentment . P.O need to find some way of avoiding this
You don't have to take the ships tours at any of the islands visited. The local taxi's are brilliant, well organised and reliable. You don't pay until you get back so they always pick you up and anyway there are hundreds of them touting for your business. They are now controlled by the tourist boards and prices are more or less fixed. The only cruise ship trip we did was swimming with turtles in Barbados. We were a bit surprised to find our catamaran stopped off a beach in view of the cruise ship and others swam with the turtles under there own steam by paying 8 dollars for a taxi whilst we paid £64 on the boat - we did get to snorkel over a shipwreck and cruise to another beach and it was very nice but next time we would do it on our own. Always get talking to people on the boat you would be amazed how many times some people have been and how much they know. Having seen the Carribean for the first time I know why they keep coming back.