This was our first cruise and had been booked 18 months in advance, so we had had plenty of opportunities to research our chosen ship and read lots of reviews, some of which were great and some not so good.
So our cruise has finally come and gone and what did we think of the P&O Ventura?.....Wonderful, beautiful, amazing.
We both found it very difficult to fault this lovely ship in any way, and thought the P&O experience and service in general was excellent. A very enjoyable flight with Thompson delivered us safely to Barbados, and the only unpleasant part of the trip followed, a very tedious and congested bus route to the dock itself followed by a VERY hot check in 'shed' Nic fainted in the heat but quickly recovered as we had our first view of Ventura, She is a very large ship and quite a sight when you see her for the first time.
Accomadation:We had selected cabin E721 (Superior deluxe balcony CC) and we were not disappointed. A lovely spacious cabin with chocolates and champagne awaiting us..Nice, The suitcases arrived and then we were off to explore, I have never seen so many people looking lost at once, The ship is a maze of corridors, stairways and public spaces and we were still getting lost after a week on board.
The mix of passengers was mainly over 50 with some 30-50 and a relatively small number of children (probably less than 100)
Food: We had been looking forward to dining on board and can honestly say we never had a bad meal. We ate in the Bay Tree but later swopped to the Saffron to join some friends. The service from the largely Indian team was very good indeed and we were amazed at how the waiters would remember your favourite choice of bread or favourite wine choice. We also ate in THE WHITE ROOM on the evening of Nics birthday and this was a really lovely meal, the service was again very good, the only disappointment being that the outside terrace was closed due to light rain.
The other speciality restaurant is EAST, an asian style restaurant and this was the biggest surprise of the cruise, The food was sensational, we loved every mouthfull, especially washed down with a nice bottle of Champagne. Dont be put off by the small cover charge for these restaurants as they are both very worthy of a visit.
The buffet breakfast was excellent with wide variety and choice and there are several smaller snack bars around the ship to try, And of course you must not miss out on afternoon tea, sandwiches, crumpets, scones and lovely tea at 4pm each day if you had room for it.
We also used room service several times for breakfast and it always arrived bang on time.
Entertainment: Ventura is a family ship and very much aimed at the mass market, and this was reflected in the range of entertainment on board, from truly excellent stage productions to comedians, magicans and singers, there was something for everyone, If Kareoke in the pub wasnt your cup of tea, then a short stroll to the lovely Tamarind club would find the Orchestra and talented West End Singer (Anna Stolli)performing classic songs. We also enjoyed visiting the casino a few times and even managed to make a profit !!
Nic enjoyed the Spa facilities on several occasions although they are fairly expensive and the bills can soon add up.
Speaking of bills, the cashless system works well and is very convenient, and overall we were pleasantly surprised at the reasonable cost of drinks etc on board. We saved up for this trip for a long time and are very pleased to have brought a fair ammount home (a deposit for the next one maybe)
Dressing up for formal nights was a great experience which we both enjoyed, although in the heat of the Caribbean four formal nights is enough, The only irritation I began to feel was the endless photograph opportunities, although we did spend Â£100 on a very nice souvenir album so I cant complain too much.
In conclusion we thought Ventura was a wonderful ship and really could not fault her or her helpful staff in any way. This was backed up by the many many people we spoke to travelling on her for the fourth or fith time.
So well done P&O and well done Thompson.
I have deliberately avoided talking about the destinations we visited as we wanted to describe our experience of the ship itself, But there where nine Caribbean Islands (Missed Grand Turk due to being unable to dock) and the only one we did not like was Jamaica where we felt very threatened, pestered and intimidated by the locals.
So if you are new to cruising give Ventura a try, you wont be disappointed
Steve & Nicola