After driving to Southampton we met a long queue of traffic for the docks. There was the Southampton Boat Show and two other cruise ships joining that day, not surprising there was a lot of traffic. Once in the port we used the CPS car park which was a slick operation and very efficient. Inside the terminal building the boarding process was quite quick, and we were soon on our balcony, with a mug of tea admiring, the fantastic view of the port and the other two cruise ships.
Our cabin was very clean with all we needed. What we miss on the American ships is the capability to brew tea and coffee in our room. Heaven! - lots of tea and wonderful shortbread biscuits plus a tray of delicious sweets. A tour of the ship revealed a similarity to Caribbean Princess. After reading the days info' sheet we realised there was much on offer. The gym was good with loads of kit. I used the mountain bike simulator which I thought was brilliant - only wish I had one at home.
We dined in the Bay Tree restaurant on 2nd sitting, sharing our table with two other couples, who were great fun. The food was superb, as was the service from our waiters and wine waiter. We did, however, think that Celebrity had the slight edge on creative presentation. We dined in the Waterline and Beachcomber for lunch and breakfast, both superb too with excellent choices of food. Walk to the rear of the ship and there was always a table.
Entertainment was very good. The Ventura Co. did Masquerades - a series of Lloyd-Webber hits from the shows - brilliant - West End quality! The comedian - Peter Piper had us crying - hilarious. His take-off of Basil Fawlty was very realistic.
Ventura visited Vigo, Lisbon, La Rochelle and Brest. I would rate La Rochelle as a 5. Free shuttle to the centre. Loads of squares and side streets with bars, eateries and under- archway shops to browse. Coffee overlooking the marina was a treat. Lisbon and La Rochelle were our favourites. Brest was the final stop. We did the 'Breton Delights' tour to the Landenou Bridge, a manor house for crepes and delicious sweet delights with coffee and cider. The manor and people were terrific but the smell of pigs outside was overpowering. 1000 or more! Finally visiting one of the church closes which was very interesting.
Overall - Thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, the ship, the food, the service all excellent. Better than Celebrity and Princess. Tea and coffee and biscuits, free shuttle buses, cheaper drinks and wine for meals, cheaper for tipping. We will certainly sail with P and O again and Ventura - thank you for a great holiday.