Ventura is one of five family friendly ships in the eight-strong P&O Cruises' fleet. But be warned, though the ships are family friendly in terms of their facilities, it's a different story if you venture out of school holiday times. P&O Cruises' classic cruiser -- over-60, retiree, not too fond of kids -- still dominates on these ships in term time and on longer cruises.
Of the five (Azura, Oceana, Aurora and newest ship Britannia are the others), Ventura is arguably the most family friendly, with a massive kids' club called The Reef at the back of the ship on Deck 16. It is divided into five age groups: Tumblers (6 months – 2); Splashers (2 - 4); Surfers (5 - 8); Scubas (9 - 12) and H2Os (13 - 17). Note that under-2s must be accompanied by a parent.
It is the biggest kids' club on any ship in the fleet and has separate rooms for each age group to play and hang out in -- (Toybox, Jumping Jacks, The Den and Decibels) -- with a packed daily activities programme to keep the youngsters entertained. Each room has age-appropriate facilities, such as soft play for the Tumblers, a climbing frame for the Surfers, ping-pong for the Scubas and video games for the teens. All under-13s must be signed in and out; teens come and go as they please. Kids are welcome to use all the pools (bar Oasis) onboard, but there is a dedicated splash pool and a dip pool outside the children's club.
At the start of the cruise, parents (and kids) are welcomed by a super-exuberant and large kids' club team (The Reef Rangers) 12 decks below in the Havana room, which also plays host to the kids' discos and visits from Mr Bump and Little Miss Sunshine. They outline what's on offer throughout the cruise, which might include a scavenger hunt, painting, drawing, dressing up, theme days or the aforementioned family disco.
Opening hours for The Reef are 9 a.m. - noon,1 p.m. - 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. - midnight. A night nursery operates from 6 p.m. - 2 a.m. and is open to kids from 6 months to 5 years old. Parents are issued with pagers.
There is a dedicated space in Waterside, which is put aside from 5 p.m. - 6p.m. for children's tea, with a selection of kids' favourites (fish fingers, baked beans etc.).