We've always wanted to visit the North coast of Spain, and with last minute offerings on Ventura- a ship with which we are familiar- we decided that we could spare the time and money to go on this port-filled cruise. This leads me to the difficult bit, and the reason why we've not written a review anywhere before. In the week before our sailing, the area where we live had a major incident, which affected us all. We were reluctant to leave our village at a time of stress, and almost cancelled. The incident did impact on us throughout the cruise, but of all places to be, the Ventura was the most familiar ship to us, and, it being very British, we had no problems going with the flow. We learnt not to say where we were from, and were able to find quiet spots for our sadder days.
Having a last minute cruise means taking whatever dining options are offered- we only go with cruise lines which offer Freedom dining- so our slot into 2nd sitting we ignored, going only once, to make sure that the waiters were tipped. Instead, we dined at all the other venues, with a tremendous meal at White's, with Marco himself in and out of the kitchen. We chose his own recommendation of red wine:"Possum", which was £24, and worth every penny. We were very impressed by the tapas in the Ramblas, where you could have a mixture of any kind of main meal, sweet- or just a list of tapas. The tuna pastry was freshly baked, and memorable. We each had a paella; mine the meat, OH the fish. Excellent!
Our cabin was way up on A deck, and was similar to the last one we had on C, but without the massive balcony...this was almost a Juliet! Still, there was room to sit and relax away from the crowds.
The main reason for grabbing this cruise was to see Santiago de Compostella. We took the ship's tour, and it was brilliant. The coffee break in Santiago's main square was in the ancient hospice, now a Pousada, which would have occupied us for a day of sight seeing alone, with old chapels and courtyards full of statues. Certainly a place to stay in the future. As well as the Cathedral, the guide lead us through the 4 car-free squares surrounding.We only scraped the surface of a fascinating town, but it will need a holiday there to see more. At Bilbao, P&O as always provided a free shuttle bus. Interesting to see the P&O ferry from Portsmouth in the harbour, and reflect that one P&O ship was now owned by Carnival, and the other by a group in the Middle East.
We were unable to join any activities or entertainment, due to our tragedy, and unlike our last Ventura cruise; we can wholeheartedly say that she is an excellent ship for people who need to get away. There are quiet corners, and enough open deck to satisfy the most solitary. We self-disembarked, and were able to leave the ship at 7.30am. Taxis were lined up, and we were at the station by 8.50, able to catch an earlier train north, arriving at out little station by 3.45. Jo and G.