Our first P. O. cruise, but not our last.
We expected a P. & O. cruise to be a bit special & we were not disappointed, but also a little surprised.
Our first surprise was the parking. It all went very smoothly, but not an "aston" or a "roller" in sight, just your mondeos & astras.The check in went well considering that over 3200 people were waiting to board.We restricted ourselves to minimal hand luggage but next time we will take a small"pull along" case.
Once on board we found our outside cabin quite easily & were surprised on 2 counts.Firstly the cabin,(sorry "stateroom") was quite roomy,larger than we expected & secondly our "ocean view" was only partly obstructed by the supporting structure of the lifeboats & we could see out to sea but not directly downwards.From what I could make out this was the case with all the outside cabins.The cabin was very comfortable & the 'fridge was very useful particularly if you want to chill some wine or beer bought ashore from home or one of the ports of call. There was no problem taking alcohol aboard.
It is also worth considering which side of the ship to be on.On our itinery it was a slight disadvantage being on the port side as the ship usually docked with the starboard side against the moorings.
A standing joke with cruisers & staff was the size of the ship.There is no doubt that this is a"biggy" & can be confusing, but we thought that this all added to the experience.For those people who are concerned about sea sickness then don't be, as the ship is very stable.
We were also slightly surprised at the "mix" of people aboard. We thought that it would be mainly 50's & over, but there were young families. 30 somethings & quite a few disabled people for which the Ventura seems to be reasonably friendly.
The dining did not disappoint. We went for the "freedom dining" in the Cinnamon restaurant which went very well. The food was very good with great choice, well presented & excellent service.
In our case having a drink is a big part of a holiday & we found prices reasonable.A pint of draught bitter (boddintons) £2.75 & stella £2.95. Large canned beers (spitfire speckled hen etc ) £2.70.Branded spirits £2.10 to £2.40 a shot & bottle of house wine at £11.75.Getting a drink was very quick & easy with waiters hovering around just looking for customers.
The entertainment was first rate & would not be out of place on the West End stage.
On leaving a port of call there was a"sailway party" up on the top deck, which was great fun but unfortunately there were only 2 despite there being 4 ports of call, this was disappointing.
Tipping can be a difficult area, but P & O charged us £11.60 per person for the week which we thought was more than reasonable & we tipped our cabin steward sepatately at the end of the week
. Disembarkation went smoothly considering the number of passengers & we were on our way quite quickly.
All in all a very pleasant holiday & one that I am sure we will repeat.