This holiday was like a Curate's Egg - good in parts.
The good bits: the staff, the Baytree Restaurant, the cabin, some of the bars, and, of course, the islands, which were the stars of the holiday.
The most disappointing element of this holiday was that we had booked an outside cabin with a balcony so that we could sit outside and enjoy a drink or read in peace and quiet. We were both non-smokers. The cabin was great - our neighbours were not. They smoked like it was going out of fashion and inevitably, the smoke drifted our way, totally spoiling our enjoyment. In the end, we barely used the balcony, which made having it a complete waste of money.
I can understand that our neighbours booked a cabin with a balcony so that they could smoke, but the blame lies with P&O, not with them.
Instead of having the cabin areas the same as the public areas - i.e. one side of the ship for smokers and the other for non-smokers, they take a laissez-faire approach, so in effect, some-one's enjoyment can be ruined simply by P&O not applying the same rules to cabins as to public areas. Many people we met were of the same opinion. This needs to be made clear to people at the time of booking to avoid disappointment.
The entertainment was very populist and well received by the majority, but more cultural entertainment would have been appreciated e.g. talks about the islands we were to visit; something about the flora and fauna; more about the history of the islands - the slavery aspect seemed to have been airbrushed out completely, which was unfortunate. The one sop to a slightly different type of entertainment was the classical pianist, Tia Eagle, but that was all.
We were surprised to see so many children on board given that it was term time and parents are strongly recommended not to take children out of school. The children actually behaved very well for the most part, which is more than could be said for some of the passengers. At times, I felt embarrassed to be British with the way some of them behaved both on shore and on the ship. It reminded me of behaviour more reminiscent of Benidorm, and isn't really what I'd expected from a P&O cruise and certainly not what I'd experienced on a previous cruise. One of our dining companions actually witnessed a very unpleasant argument, with very strong language between two women in the presence of children besides one of the pools, which came very close to blows. This is not what you would expect from a cruise holiday with a reputable company.
Despite excellent food, courteous and helpful cabin and restaurant staff and, luckliy, delightful dinner table companions, I would never travel on the Ventura again - it is too big, it panders to people's more unfortunate natures whilst under the influence of drink and it doesn't provide enough range in forms of entertainment.