We booked a fly cruise and BA schedule flights were included. Sadly we flew into Nice and had to transfer by coach to Genoa, but it was ferry well handled and check in was good.
The ship itself was lovely, clean and attractive with lots of attention to detail. The atrium is nice and the pool deck is lovely. I did find it a little difficult to navigate, and other cruisers seemed to be having the same problem, but I think it's probably due to the amount of port time meaning we probably didn't pay enough attention!
We were (fortunately) allocated Freedom dining - if we had been given 6.30 dining we would never have eaten in the MDR! We ate in Saffron on 3 occasions and had a table on our own which we didn't have to wait long for. The food was nice, portions a little small (and I am a small person!), but a good selection and tasty. The only negative was that it was badly served - put the spoon down from your starter and your main appears! I know they can't give you lots of time, but 5 minutes wouldn't go amiss! Dining also finishes quite early - go in after 9pm and they want you gone!
We really enjoyed The Beach House, but it was very difficult to get a table unless you arrived early. One night we were turned away at 7.30 with the "we are full for the rest of the night"! I think this is a sign of how good the place is, and the service is remarkable (unlike the lack lustre experience in the MDR.)
Personally we disliked the buffet greatly. The selection was limited and badly laid out. There were quite a lot of tables and it wasn't too noisy/busy, just a very poor selection in our eyes: and I always thought I was easy to please when it came to food!
The Pizza Bar and Grill were good, but the Pizza Bar was closed for 3 days which was very disappointing considering how bad the buffet selections were. In hindsight we should have used the MDR for lunch, but on Port Days we were out and during sea days we were sunning/swimming so not MDR appropriate!
There is a very large selection of bars, though due to the World Cup we mostly visited the Exchange which we enjoyed - quite like the quizzes and karaoke too! There are also quite a few deck bars which were lovely on the warm evenings.
The Headliners entertainment was brilliant! We are early 30s and are normally more Stone Roses than musical extravaganza, but the quality was really good. We also enjoyed Will Martin (a guest artist) - he was very talented and entertaining. There was a comedian, mind reader, singers, and a Gary Barlow tribute through the week, none of which appealed to us.
The balcony room we had was lovely and a decent size and well looked after.
There is a steam and sauna in the mens and womens changing rooms near the oasis pool which are free to use.
We managed to find sun beds on sea days, though there is a massive problem with people reserving beds - literally all day and not using them!
They show a few films (Monuments Men and Grudge Match) in the lovely Arena Theatre, and also in the Havana Bar (Winters Tale and something else that was that bad I have wiped it from my memory!)
They did Bingo, but done expect much energy or entertainment from it!
We did a P&O Venice trip that included a gondola ride. It was well presented and informative and worth the money. Word of warning though - take a bottle of water with you, don't moan about them not being provided for you!
- We loved the transfers, Entertainment, The Beach House, our room, the Ports, the pools and hot tubs, the kettle!
- we didn't like the dining situation, the lack of availability of the beach house, the closure of the pizza bar, the fact there is no ice cream in the buffet, that you only get one "complimentary" snack per Costa coffee.
- we hated the buffet, the fact that the casino closed early, and the very rude and ignorant passengers we sadly encountered on several occasions.
Sadly, despite all the positives I would only book another P&O cruise if it was an absolute bargain or going somewhere I really wanted to go. I am not a fan of the class-based fare system, the way freedom diners are treated, the inflexibility of P&O to work with their brand to accommodate the next generation of cruiser as well as comfortably fit with their existing "fan base", and the terrible dining offerings. A cruise on the med with late port departures requires later dining and entertainment and isn't suited to the "traditional" style of P&O. The Ventura is a fab ship that is perfect for the med, but it doesn't feel like it's being operated in a way that's conducive with it's location.
I would like to point out though that despite our gripes we had a lovely time as we do on every holiday, and we met some wonderful people. I think it was more that we didn't fit with P&O: we were lucky to have a lovely ship with some lovely staff going to some amazing places so in that respect I am glad we went.