This was certainly much improved on the stuff I saw on my last P&O Cruises' outing.
There were a couple of song-and-dance acts -- and a rather disappointing pirates' show on the top deck one evening -- but I got the impression this type of performance is being eased out by comedians, of which there were plenty.
The comedy acts were a bit hit and miss. Those in the theatre were good, played to packed audiences and kept them in hysterics, but the four comedians I saw in the Tamarind Club died on their feet.
Lounges included the Metropolis Bar, on deck 18, which was everyone's favourite. Each evening a plasma screen showed photos of a different city -- such as New York or London -- with a new city each night over a seven-day period.
Las Ramblas, modelled after the eponymous street in Barcelona, was also popular -- both the "inside" bar and the "garden", complete with olive tree. Daytime country music was very out of place, but the guitarist in the evening added a Spanish touch.
The Red Bar is, as the name suggests, red, and is an attractive drinking hole at the top of the three-story atrium.
Tamarind was also used for themed party nights. At other times there was a live band playing. The Red Bar has a pianist every evening; Las Ramblas has a guitarist.
The ship's casino is called Fortunes; it houses the usual game tables and slot machines. Check out its bar -- model trains (look for the Royal Scott and the Flying Scotsman, among others) run around it.
Ventura Public Rooms
A central focus on Ventura is the ship's three deck atrium. Around each deck you'll find a cluster of public spaces, such as a mediocre collection of shops, purser's desk, shore excursions, Internet cafe and coffee bar.
There is a library but no chairs where you can sit with a good book or do a jigsaw. Could it be they are more interested in selling books -- yes, there are books for sale -- than having people hang around, I wondered, as I balanced a "not to be removed" encyclopaedia on the shelf from whence it came while doing research.
One nice feature -- though it isn't technically a "room" -- on Ventura is the full wrap-around promenade deck. It's excellent for walking or simply pulling up a chair and enjoying the view.
Ventura Spa & Fitness
The Oasis Spa is far bigger than the spas on any other P&O Cruises ship. It has the usual hair and beauty salon and range of treatments, from facials to massages and body wraps, but also a thermal spa (£10 a day, £60 for a pass for the duration of the cruise) with hot and cold rooms and heated mosaic beds.
As numbers are carefully controlled I was told it's advisable to buy a pass and book a daily slot to guarantee getting in. That's fine if you know what you're going to do day by day, but a bit too inflexible for my liking.
There are free saunas in the spa toilets but towels are not supplied so take the pool towel from the cabin.
Ventura also has the biggest gym of any P&O Cruises ship, with the usual assortment of treadmills, cross-trainers, cycles and weights. Sadly all exercise classes, even the aerobics, which now goes under the name Zumba, carries a charge. They call it a nominal fee. At £7, I call it a hefty charge for what was previously included in my cruise fare.
Ventura has onboard dentists who perform teeth cleaning and teeth whitening -- it's a potentially dubious combo for a vacation sailaway but it's still pretty interesting. Other innovative treatments include a massage that uses crystals to balance energy, and a "Beauty Tek" butt and breast lifting option that's nonsurgical. In the fitness area, Trixter bikes provide a high-tech indoor cycling experience. Like PlayStations for adults, the stationary bikes offer cycling routines linked to scenic roadways from the Scottish Highlands to deserts, highways and city centres.
The spa pool is just outside the spa and supposed to be for adults only but I often saw children in it so guess it was never policed. There are two main pools on the top deck, one comes with a retractable roof so you can swim in all kinds of weather and the other is completely outdoors. More private (and more quiet) is a pool at the aft end of the ship, behind the Beach House.