33 Barbados Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and ... Read More
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and the other half went on Carnival last year for our honeymoon which we thoroughly enjoyed so we were excited to cruise again and to see how a different company compared. My top tip would be to book as late as possible, we booked 16 months in advance thinking we were getting a good deal but it was reduced by around £500 per passenger around 6 weeks before departure which was sickening. STAFF The majority of the staff on the ship were Indian which we didn’t expect, I knew there would be some different ethnicities but 95% were Asian males. The majority were friendly with the odd exception. From certain members of staff we received fantastic service, in the restaurants and bars to the salon staff. Credit to P&O. (Joel Manning Head waiter, Melissa on bar, Gracey the bar steward, Krystina the croupier). DINING Breakfast was nice, buffet style was always plentiful and cooked nicely. Formal breakfast was nice too but toast was always cold. Lunch we missed most days but made it back for the afternoon which doesn’t really make sense to me, I would have preferred a ham/chicken salad at 4pm when you have had a day lazing by the beach rather than pie/curry, sandwiches and scones. Staff were less than forthcoming when we asked for a salad which is unfortunate considering the amount of money we handed over. Our evening seating time was 8.30pm which we chose as we thought 6.30pm was too early but due to the amount of people in our party we would struggle to make it to the 10.30 show so we changed to freedom dining in the second week which we wished we had done sooner. Freedom dining is the way forward. Food was average to very good in the main restaurant, there was a starter, soup, main, dessert and cheeseboard every night. We dined in the “surcharge” restaurants after a few days as the food was starting to get slightly repetitive in the main restaurant. East was £15 each but if you book while on board they offer a bottle of house wine between two on certain nights, effectively bringing the price down to £7.50 each. Same with the White Room which we paid £25 each for, with a bottle of wine between two we thought it was well worth it. The only restaurant (excluding the buffet) were you can dine outdoor which was fantastic. Beach House (daytime buffet restaurant which converts in to sit down restaurant of an evening) was £5 per person and you had the option to upgrade from there, ie. If you wanted king prawns to start you would need to pay an extra £1.50 and if you wanted steak on a stone it was an extra £2.95 but the food was very nice. Drinks were not too expensive, glass of wine approx £4 for small and £5.50 for large, spirit and mixer around £5 and cocktails from around a fiver. Range of wines available, bottles of house went down well at £14.95. Selection of diet drinks available which was a massive plus, diet coke, 7up free and diet Tango all available. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Gym had good machines but very little free classes. It opened at 8am until 8pm which was a bit awkward as we were awake at 6.30pm some days which we would have normally shot up to the gym ready to get off the boat once docked at 8am. This was very strict as there are cabins below the gym. Only way of getting in before this was to do a stretch and relax class at 7.30am which didn’t look like it would be worth walking to the lifts for, looked more like lie down and sleep. Shame they charged £7 odd for the spinning class too and there weren’t more aerobic classes available for free. Other than that it was fine, lots of equipment, busy in the morning with everybody standing at the front doors at 8am ready to get their preferred machine. Pools were fine though were majorly busy are what I would imagine a typical Benidorm holiday would be like, definitely wasn’t what we expected. At 5pm they would do a sail away party were the entertainment staff would come out and do sing along and arm waving that was fit for a 10 year olds party. We weren’t pleased but the other 2000 passengers seemed happy with it! (Bah humbugs!). Some days there were ice sculpting which was interesting, deck BBQs and as I said some parties when departing the island. Evening entertainment was fantastic thanks to the Headliners Theatre Group, such amazing singers and dancers who kept us entertained with 4 different shows while on-board. There were also two comedians, a Tom Jones and Gary Barlow tribute and a fantastic 4 piece Michael Buble style band who were amazing too. SHORE EXCURSIONS If there is something that you really want to do, ie whale watching/boat trips/river rafting, I would recommend booking through P&O as these wont be available to book on the day. For beach trips and island tours it was massively cheaper to book on arrival at the port. There are many street vendors over 50% cheaper than P&O. DISABLED FRIENDLY The disabled friendly room was fab. It was a great size and had excellent facilities throughout, the shower room was the same size as our cabin, the mother in law was made up! Getting on and off the ship was easy enough too as there would be a steward to help out at every port. The only port she was unable to get off was Tortola as we had to use a tender from the boat to the port. She didn’t miss much to say the least! All in all the cruise was fab, I would recommend P&O for both families and couples as there was something for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
From the early booking stage, the forms now sent by P&O, for all disability and wheelchair users are easy to fill in and now are in a format that can be completed on the computer and returned via email. We booked a flight from ... Read More
From the early booking stage, the forms now sent by P&O, for all disability and wheelchair users are easy to fill in and now are in a format that can be completed on the computer and returned via email. We booked a flight from Birmingham Airport and we had to talk to Thomson airways to confirm they could take the power chair, as there is a limited amount of space on the aircraft, and I was able to discuss if there was any further information they needed before we departed. I had to purchase an air safe key, to disable the power chair for the flight, and this cost £12.00 off eBay. I was also advised to get to the airport a bit earlier due to the amount of time needed to check in. Check in at the airport take a little while as the power chair has to be checked but having the manual and all the relevant data helps to speed you through check in. Then off to check in with the ground staff who would help with getting on the airplane and storing the wheelchair on the airplane. Then off to the waiting area were you have to report to the disability area half an hour before gate opening and then wait to be called. Once at the gate all the disabled are take down the skyway and helped aboard first. Pre booked seat are a must one less hassle. Arrival at Barbados, which was late in the evening and dark, proved to be the first problem with a standard taxi being supplied and the staff on the ground saying they could put the wheelchair in the boot of the car. No chance, as the chair does not fold up, and it weighs some 80+kgs. Although there was a mix up the guys decided to put the chair in the baggage compartment of the bus after folding the seat back down and two of the guys lifted aboard. Then off to the ship and check in with the wheelchair to follow although this could have been a major problem if I could not have been able to transfer to a taxi. We make sure a request for an adapted vehicle is made on the disability form we send to P&O. We resolved this problem for the return by going to the reception, on board the ship, and they contacted the ground staff to book the relevant vehicle for the return journey. We missed the embarkation photo and garland as we had to go a different way through the security check all those done it on board the ship. We had been on the ship before, although not with the electric wheelchair, and we knew that access was best from the forward gangplank and perhaps I should have been told which gangplank to head for. One thing I have to say is every time we embarked and disembarked there was staff to help me up and down the gangplank with a bit of banter and a smile. Because of the wheelchair I did not want to drive through the food area of the self service of the restaurants so I parked the chair and walked in with two sticks. Help was offered to carry a tray and put food onto a plate and then carried to my table, but my wife always fetched and carried for me. There is some problems when the restaurant are full as it was difficult to sit at a table of four and often the larger, which are round, people would not always sit on the fixed seating. For anyone who could not get out of the chair the staff will remove a chair and make space for the wheelchair. Busy times are the worst but we found most people would make space and shuffle around to make room. We had booked freedom dining which suits us best as the early sitting is too early and the late too late. We found that a table for eight is about as big as one can communicate with all the people but an optimum size we found was six. We met some nice people and had a variety of different conversation and not all are about what, how many and who one has cruised with. I wanted to walk to the table and was able to park the wheelchair outside buy the reception desk and we were always allocated a table within a short walking distance. If one had to stop in a chair they would make sure you had easy access to the table. Lift were not a problem as when empty I could drive in and turn around so I could drive out. Most passengers were helpful making way for me to get in and out of the lifts and we had some good banter when the lift was full. There are always one or two people who try and get into the lift as I tried to reverse out and both I and the wife told them off and although we had some dirty looks no one complained. I have seen several reports of people complaining about the number of scooter on the ship and I only saw three and only one about the ship but several manual wheelchairs pushed about by partners. We saw some people who used a wheelchair only to transfer to and from the airport yet were able to walk long distances into town when visiting ports. Cabins are ok with enough room to drive a wheelchair and to turn around and with access to the balcony but the drop down section that fills the gap for in between the sliding door could do with a method of lifting the infill section without sticking your fingers underneath to lift up. Cabins on B deck have a narrow balcony which would be difficult to get a wheelchair out onto. Those of C deck have a lot larger balcony and would easily allow the wheelchair access and be able to turn around. The shower is large with a good size seat to sit on and can easily accommodate a wheelchair and lots of handrails around the toilet and shower area but the wash hand basin is set at a standard height as are the mirrors and sat in a wheelchair it’s difficult to use. Access from the cabin to other areas of the ship was easy as the lifts were right outside the door and the communal decks were easily got to with good walkways even when busy. Getting to deck 15 is along a short corridor and through manual operated double glass doors and then electric wooden doors. I only came across a cleaning trolley once and was able to squeeze by. Everyone I met in this corridor gave way by stepping into the doorways and allowed me to pass. Once on deck to get a bed to sit in the sun was always a problem on sea day, as is on any ship, but is more difficult when you are in a wheelchair and have to park it close to the bed so I could get out of the chair. I don’t want the cruise ship to allocate an area for wheelchair users yet it would be helpful if the end beds on a row could be allocated for wheelchair users how you police it I have no idea. Access to the theatre is good up a double dogleg ramp and an area for 3 wheelchair users per side and there partner/carer but the chairs are too low for the partner/carers to see over the wooden balustrade. Either the chairs need to be higher or the balustrade removed. The staff on duty each evening at the theatre will instruct non wheelchair persons who sit in these chairs to move so don’t be afraid to seek help to gain a seat. The return transfer was faultless with the correct vehicle waiting. There was a minor hitch on boarding the airplane as the ground crew were not aware of what a flight key was or how it worked.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We have just returned from our first cruise with Seabourn on Seabourn Spirit in the Caribbean. It has taken us a little time to analyse why we were so very disappointed in this cruise. It has been a long held ambition of ours to sail with ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise with Seabourn on Seabourn Spirit in the Caribbean. It has taken us a little time to analyse why we were so very disappointed in this cruise. It has been a long held ambition of ours to sail with Seabourn and our expectation was high – much higher than the actual delivery which fell short on many occasions. Many of the issues were caused by our expectations that this ship was accessible, with a few restrictions. My husband cannot walk well, has difficulties with stairs and often uses either a very small electric mobility scooter or a manual wheelchair. These needs were discussed with Seabourn prior to booking and a special needs form completed as requested. Despite obvious attempts to make the ship accessible, it is clear immediately on boarding that issues are numerous. The first problem is boarding. Nowhere did we find a warning that boarding would be via a staircase. As it happens, in Barbados the stairs were not too steep and given time and help my husband was able to climb the stairs. However, in other ports the stairs were often steeper and were very difficult, particularly as there was never any assistance available on the dockside. This restricted our ability to leave the ship. The second major problem was boarding the tender. On other ships this has not really been a problem. Lifts normally go to within a few steps of the tender boarding platform. Boarding tenders tends to be from midships where movement is less and the entrance to the tender also tends to be midships reducing movement significantly whilst also providing a safe landing into the interior of the tender. Arrangements on Pride are quite different. There are two steep wooden staircases to negotiate as well as a passage through the marina area where there are only rope rails. On arrival at the tender boarding platform (at the stern of the ship where movement is extreme), one is faced with stepping onto a tiny platform at the stern of the tender with no rails to hold. Crew are excellent at helping but it is frightening to have to step on the small tender platform and then step down onto the stern on the tender before negotiating yet more steep steps into the tender. General warning about the need to use tenders is just not good enough. We had to cancel all of our booked shore excursions in tender ports since on any particular day we could not be sure if my husband would be able to board the tender. This had a very significant impact on our enjoyment of the cruise. We were also disappointed in the accessibility of the suite. It was only big enough to drive the scooter in if the dressing table chair was removed first. There was no electricity socket near enough to charge the scooter. This problem was solved by wiring in an extension through the cupboard below the TV so that the cupboard doors could not be shut. There is a step into the bathroom that is easy to forget at night. There are no grab rails near the WC. The shower is tiny and with inadequate grab rails. The shower chair eventually turned up but was so unstable that it could not be used. Someone came to tighten the screws on the legs but this failed to solve the problem. The walk-in wardrobe had clearly been made to smaller to attempt to make the suite accessible. This meant that use of the hanging rail near the door prevented the door from closing. If the door was not closed then the light would not go off. If the clothes were moved to close the door, movement during the night caused them to slide back down the rail so the door could not be opened in the morning. It is clear that a lot of work has been done to make the door thresholds around the ship easier to negotiate. However these steep ramps are impossible for scooters. As there is no flat area at the top near the door, the scooter just grounds on the crest and hangs in mid-air with its wheels off the ground. These ramps help those unable to step up but do not help scooters. Getting to the Sky bar (the only outdoor space with chairs for use during the day) was impossible since the lift was not big enough for a scooter or a wheelchair. In general public spaces were very crowded making it hard to find seats that were accessible to anyone with some walking difficulties. Sidling between chairs and tripping over feet is just not an option. In our view it would be much better to make some of the issues clear. If we had known the problems we would have considered carefully if we could manage without the scooter or if we should have tried one of the bigger and more modern Seabourn ships. As it was, life on board was a constant frustration making it hard to enjoy other aspects of the cruise. Not all other aspects came up to our expectation. The promised “fine wines” poured with meals turned out to be the lowest price vin de table available from supermarkets at a few pounds a bottle. The promised service turned out to be patchy with tables in the crowded Veranda Café left with dirty dishes while people wandered around trying to find somewhere to sit. Often repeated requests were necessary for such simple items as a glass of water or orange juice. Breakfast in the dining room took over an hour for a simple cooked breakfast to arrive. The ordered plate of fruit never did arrive. A simple 3 course dinner one evening took over 2 and a half hours meaning that we left before coffee in order to get to the entertainment. We did speak to staff on several occasions about items that could be rectified on board and the crew did everything they could to rectify deficiencies. However the major issues could not be addressed and resulted in a wide discrepancy between our expectation and delivery. Everyone told us that the problems we were encountering were due to the age and design of the smaller ships and we would not have these problems on the larger ships. However, at the price of cruises with Seabourn we are reluctant to consider another cruise if it is not possible to find out a bit more about the realities of life on board for those with walking difficulties. We feel that the publicity and the web site are very misleading and lacking in real information about the ships. The result for us was a very disappointing cruise that fell far below the advertised standard. In spite of writing to the company over a month ago we have not had any contact from them.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
I chose this cruise as it was destinations this ship went to port that really interested me. The ship has its Flagship in Hamilton Bermuda. Around 600 people on the ship, with 90 percent of the people being British over 65 years old. This ... Read More
I chose this cruise as it was destinations this ship went to port that really interested me. The ship has its Flagship in Hamilton Bermuda. Around 600 people on the ship, with 90 percent of the people being British over 65 years old. This was a quieter alternative to a Carnival Cruise or some big cruise boat with kids. The destinations were Eastern Caribbean. We had an cabin with single beds no window. The room was cleaned everyday. The food was excellent, staff was helpful with any questions especially the pursers desk. The ship was built in 1972 so it has been in service a while. Their are two restaurants one you have dinner the other you have breakfast or lunch. The ship has a small pool, hot tubs, bar, family room for games on board. A gift shop is on board near pursers desk. I recall there were six levels to the ship. Wi-fi was spotty at times using a ship computer is costly.There is an infirmary room a doctor on board as well as a tailor for clothing adjustments. There is formal nights once a week where you can rent a tux if needed. The room service is included to have food delivered until 23:00 hr. Overall it is an older mellow crowd on this ship so don't expect parties all into the night. What I like about this ship was you can bring aboard liquor in reasonable size bottles on board. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. ... Read More
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. Overall we had a superb cruise. Ventura does most things well. Its a reliable cruise experience and is relatively good value. We booked at only 1 months notice and got a great deal. The ports were mostly great. We didnt take any excursions as Mum need a wheelchair where walking distances is required but still enojoyed our jaunts ashore. Our favourites were St Maartin and Grenada. Having been on here three times in 13 months we did notice some differences. None of these spoilt the cruise but for regular passengers on her it may be worth nothing the following: Showtimes On previous trips on Ventura and Azura, the evening show in the main theatre usually had three performances at approx 7pm, 8.30pm and 10.30pm. This allowed a choice of performance for any club sitting passengers. Those on first sitting could choose the 8.30 or 10.30 show and those on second sitting could choose the 7 or 10.30 show. You could also coordinate it to fit in the a performance in Havanna or Tamerind. However, things had changed on this trip. The theatre only had two performances, 8.30 and 10.30. This doesnt affect those on first sitting so much but if you are on second sitting you only have the option of the last showtime. It also means you cannot get to fit in a performance in Havanna as well as the start times clash with those in the main theatre. Its a bit of a double whammy for second sitters and also meant those on freedom dining may have needed to be more selective in their choice of dining times in order to fit in performances. Also as there was one less theatre show per evening the others were much busier. One one evening, we finished our second sitting meal at 9.50, went straight to Havanna for a 10.30 act and there were no seats left. We walked though to the theatre and again could not get in so no entertainment for us that night. We chose second sitting based on our previous experiences so we could see an early show, have dinner and then take in an act in Havanna or Tamerind alas this was not possible on this trip. As we had seen many of the shows and acts previously this did not impact on us as greatly as it may impact on others but it is a major change to the way in which the evening entertainment is scheduled and I overheard others complaining. I did get to speak to one of the entertainment team about this and they advised that as this 2 week cruise included a lot of people who had opted to take the 1 month cruise they decided they would not need three shows per night for our 2 weeks. I pointed out how it affected us and others particularly those on 2nd sitting and she advised she had just come off Azura and had found the 7 o'clock show to be quiet and therefore it was better to concentrate people into two shows per evening. I hope this is not permanent change they implement. The theatre holds 700 for a ship of 3000+ passengers and therefore only two performances isnt good enough. Feedback from the forum seems to suggest P&O have done this before on Azura which is a little worrying. Drinks prices Some prices have risen. For example in Dec 2010 a pint of Stella was $2.95. It is now $3.50, a rise of 18%. You could previously buy a litre caraffe of house wine in the MDR for $11.95. This has now gone and house wine is in 75cl bottles at $12.95. Thats a rise of 50%. Other drink prices have also risen incl some cocktails but these are the prices I noticed as they are the ones we have previously partaken of. Bottled water too has risen in price. Now P&O still have good value drink prices however such sharp price rises appear to be more than simply reflecting inflation and may hint at a subtle change in direction for P&O onboard pricing. Menus This was the first time we have experienced the new menus in the MDR. The changes are not enourmous. As has already been reported the 'always available' Chicken, Salmon and Steak options have gone. As has the prawn cocktail, unpublished, but always available starter. We found the choice of starters a little more difficult than previously. Many were simply trying to be too fancy and we did find we were trying them but leaving our choices more than previously.The soups however were extremely good and better than before. There is extra choice in the mains sections which now usually features a from the grill section and/or local produce option dependant on your port of call. Also the veg served seperately has been reduced from three to two options but this is still plenty. Fish appears much more frequently, in fact on one evening fish formed 3 of the 7 options. Two of our party love fish so this pleased them however it has to be said the fish portions were very small but nicely cooked. For those who dont like fish their choices have been reduced. We did crave a simple steak or piece of salmon from the always available section on occassion and it is a shame this has been dropped (we did find out half way through that the chicken option remains always available but I am unsure why given that its not mentioned anywhere and only offered when we enquired). This was the first time we had moved from freedom dining to club dining and our views of the service we had previously received in freedom dining have been reinforced. The service in club was far better: much more personable, friendly and attentive and at the end of the two weeks we definately thought they had earned their tips. We had a great rapport with our waiters and they got to know our preferences. Our previous views of the service in freedom dining have been that it was mostly functional but hardly warm and friendly and had been occassionally disorganised with widely varying meal durations. We had tried it on Azura once and twice on Ventura and had the same experience each time and having now had the comparison of the service levels in club dining it is clear that the waiters in club work for their tips. It will be interesting to see if standards in club slip once the tips start being automatically added to passengers onboard accounts this year. Our waiter in Club had actually been our waiter in Freedom dining twice in May last year and the difference in his level of service was so visible. I have to mention that for the second time in a year we experienced Huey Taylor as Cruise Director. I hate to pick someone out personally but this role has a huge impact on passenger enjoyment and on how they view the connection between the cruise company and themselves and unfortunately Huey just doesnt suit Ventura at all. He was uttely invisiable apart from daily lacklustre announcements reading out the contents of Horizon. He appears to delegate everything to his team (who are excellent) and I really cannot understand why he is in this role on this size of vessel. A CD needs to inject enthusiasm but he lacks any connection with passengers. What is it with P&O and cruise director role? Surely there are better in the ranks who would jump at the chance to bring some enthusiasm to this job? Anyway, despite the differences noticed between this and previous cruises, we loved out New Year cruise and would not hesitate to chose Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Well I appoligise for the writing I have catteracts so writing this review is difficult along with most passengers we had booked 18 months in advance at what we thought was a once in a life time oppertunity 28 nights on the AZURA in ... Read More
Well I appoligise for the writing I have catteracts so writing this review is difficult along with most passengers we had booked 18 months in advance at what we thought was a once in a life time oppertunity 28 nights on the AZURA in caribean and USA at what we thought a bargain taking in Christmas and the New yearof £2500 pp . Before I start I am not hard to please I had thought 28 days away from the UK climate was reason enough to take this cruise The AZURA had no wow factor ship was always full of people rushing or in the case of getting to the Playhouse Theater stamppeading or queing there was no where to sit quitely inside as every venue was a walk thru The first thing you notice was the major cost cutting in all areas Both breakfast and dinner buffets where of cafe style quality with no taste or smell and then again a stamppead to find a table The evening meal could be good if it served before it was cold this was caused very slow service from kitchen to waiters Now the entertainment the Headliners where wonderful but as for the rest the entertainment budget must have been non existant the was several acts one called the mentalist useless, a majician you could see how he preformed the tricks a comedian who laughed at his own jokes good job as no one else did, a supreme tribute act who screached for half an hour then introduced them selves at least three times in all the worse act I had ever seen no I have not mention elton john and geoge michael tribute acts well they were no tribute so bad they could empty a room in 10 minutes There were other acts but in all only passable pub acts the ones you would expect to see at you local WMC. We were treated to two famous performers wait for it Tom O Conner and Des O conner both I was told were 78 years old Everyone I met were fed up with the cheap entertainment provided well the Christmas film shown on the seascreen on Christmas day was Meet me in St Louie this summed it up a ship bulit for the masses with cheap corney entertainment p&O CAN SAY NO EXPENCE WAS SPARED ON THIS CRUISE NO EXPENCE AT ALL Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Like many we had flight delays but the transfers were seamless, then the problems started - my son is wheelchair dependent and the cabin we booked in Nov. 2009 was not allocated / not happy. 7 hours after boarding my son`s wheelchair had ... Read More
Like many we had flight delays but the transfers were seamless, then the problems started - my son is wheelchair dependent and the cabin we booked in Nov. 2009 was not allocated / not happy. 7 hours after boarding my son`s wheelchair had not been delivered after many enquiries - we found it in reception without any identification! Just imagine your legs being taken away and the £2000 chair you had just bought being abandoned for anyone to claim! Then we found that there were only 2 ways of getting on deck - out of the lido buffet on deck 9 or Sirens on deck 11. Anyone who thinks the food in any of the `restaurants` was good does not know what good food is - some was edible but that is all - the only good food we had was in the airport on leaving! Stained bedlinen, grey towels, dreadful pool towels, no air con., uncomfortable beds / malfunctioning electrics, / sewage smells (and we were on deck 9), stabilisers not working, (I`ve been on ships in North Sea gales and never felt the swells experienced on `The Dream` in the Caribbbean) entertainment staff constantly telling us how wonderful they were - any one who thinks the entertainment was West End standard has a) not been to the West End b) does not go to the theatre regularly. We have previously cruised with Thomson and have only ever praised standards and staff. The only positive thing to comment on about this cruise, `the exotic caribbean` was the itinerary. Others have mentioned sewage odours!, listing, boiler / sewage malfunctions / engine fires / roped off areas with damaged sunbeds. We found the `Destinations Desk` useless- every enquiry was answered by `we haven`t been here before` - so it was a case of get off the ship/coffin and find out yourself. We have previously cruised with Thomson and never found fault but this was dreadfull. Thomson should not have taken this crate across the Atlantic after engine failure, they should have given passengers boarding in Barbados the option of joining the cruise, BUT they should not have continued sailing a ship that was no fully functioning - nor should they continue to advertise that they make holidays tailored just for you - our Caribbean cruise certainly was not `just what we expected or wanted.` Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
As we approached Ventura after the long but comfortable flight from London Gatwick Airport to Barbados airport, the first view of the ship gave the impression of a multistory block of flats, but this view was soon to change after we ... Read More
As we approached Ventura after the long but comfortable flight from London Gatwick Airport to Barbados airport, the first view of the ship gave the impression of a multistory block of flats, but this view was soon to change after we embarked. The one thing that P&O Cruises do exceptionally well, are their transfer arrangements in Barbados. Luggage is transferred directly from the aircraft to your cabin. Coaches meet you near the aircraft steps and swiftly convey you to the ship, similarly at the end of the cruise luggage is transferred from the ship to your final airport destination and customs and immigration formalities are completed on-board prior to disembarkation. This saves a lot of hassle at the airport both on arrival and departure. On entering the ship, we were extremely pleased to find that she was tastefully decorated in rich colors, with a feel of spaciousness. There were plenty of comfortable chairs and settees, ideal for curling up and spreading out with a book. Traditional P&O style elegance abounded. All public spaces inside were spotlessly clean and remained this way throughout the cruise. On this cruise, we had chosen a balcony cabin on deck 11, port side. The cabin was compact and comfortable. There was good storage space and the added bonus of having tea and coffee-making facilities in the room was appreciated. The bathroom was adequate with excellent toiletries provided and the large fluffy towels were changed twice daily. There was an ample supply of hot water. There is an excellent interactive television system that offers many choices- from television channels to ordering in-cabin room service and to choose free and pay movies. You can shop, gain information - look at your on-board account and many other actions from this facility. Guests should also be aware that this service also acts as your messaging system. The comfort of the bed was average; it certainly did not have the "wow" factor. The covering was a flimsy duvet, which was not large enough to be tucked in and more often than not ended up on the floor. There is a good air-conditioning system, and there is adequate lighting and a refrigerator. Bathrobes are not provided on board, except in mini-suites and above. The balcony, of adequate size was furnished with two upright chairs and a very small low-level table. There was absolutely no privacy on the balcony as owing to the construction of the ship, the majority of balconies on decks 9, 10 and 11 are tiered --be aware of this fact when booking - we could look down to those below and they could look up at us. Additionally because of the design of the ship, conversations could clearly be heard from balconies three or four cabins away. The room was maintained in an excellent condition and serviced twice daily. There are three formal dining rooms on board - two for "club dining" - 1st and 2nd seating and the third for "anytime" dining. There are also other various specialist and casual dining venues. We found the food to be consistently of a high quality in all dining venues -plenteous and varied and especially designed to the British palate in the main restaurant and casual style buffet. The only disappointment was the very limited choice of breads. In the main Restaurant, dinner was well presented and expertly served. Great care is taken to cater for guests who have dietary requirements. Unfortunately breakfast in the main restaurant lacked any presentation skills whatsoever - breakfasts looked as if they had been just thrown on a plate. Yoghurts should be served in a dish and not presented in the container itself. The ship had over 3000 guests on board and never once, even on sea days did we have to queue or wait for seats in the self-service buffet. Dishes were replenished often and hot food was hot and cold food was cold. There are no free juices, other than at breakfast time. Free tea; with lots of different blends and coffee are available here 24 hours a day. There is a full and varied programme of entertainment, outlined in the Daily Newspaper - The Horizon. There is something for everyone. We found the production shows and most of the guest entertainers to be excellent offering professional and varied programmes. For a ship of this size, the Cruise Director and his limited number of staff did a great job. They were highly visible all over the ship, a pity the same could not be said of the officers, and gave the impression of being a most happy and caring team. Even on days when ports of call were cancelled due to bad weather, within a reasonable time, additional entertainment was arranged and relayed to guests. They are to be congratulated! There are the usual on-board shops offering a good selection of goods and usually at competitive prices, do be aware that the shop selling those items that you may have forgotten to bring with you, is, if they have not run out of goods, fairly expensive. There are free launderettes on board, but you have to purchase soap powder from this outlet. They charge 50p for 2 concentrated soap tablets. There is a luxurious spa offering various treatments and therapies. They do offer specials and details of these are messaged to you through your in interactive cabin television as are shop "sales" as well as being advertised in the daily newspaper. There is a well-equipped gym. Internet facilities are available. Although expensive - take advantage of the packages available and the special offers advertised. Specials are also available for the speciality restaurants. There is an excellent and knowledgeable Shore Excursion Team and tours bought from the ship are reasonably well priced and good in content. Occasionally, some tours do not reach their expected standards and to which they have no control - they do however listen and investigate and take appropriate action. There is a Future Cruise Consultant on board, who is most anxious to sell you a future cruise. Beware! She quoted us a price for the same itinerary and on the same ship next Christmas at a cost of £8600.00. We were horrified at this cost. We went next door to the Internet centre and checked P & O`s web site and found the same cruise, although in a different grade of cabin, but in a grade on the same deck with the same facilities, and almost next door to the one that she quoted for £4300.00. We returned a few days later to her, after having again checked our facts and confronted her with our information. You can guess her embarrassment. We asked her to check again and guess what? You are right. Obviously someone who works on a commission basis? We had originally booked the Christmas and New Year Cruise on the Oceana for 2009. However after a number of months, having paid the deposit and received confirmation - P&O cancelled the 2-week cruise and extended it into a 4-week cruise. We were offered a transfer to the 4-week cruise at a supplement - but as we could not get time of work had to decline. We were offered very minimal compensation if we were to book a further cruise with P&O within a specific time frame. We asked to be transferred to the Ventura but were told that P&O would not honor the price available at the time of our original booking, even though they had the advantage of having our deposit for some 5 months. The price had risen by £1000.00 - we did however receive our deposit back in full. Gone it appears are the days of honorability. Administration on the ship and Head Office leaves a lot to be desired. We had a query re on-board credit. The ship e-mailed their Head Office on 21 December and followed the query up with further e-mails - no response was received by the time we disembarked on 2 January and thus we did not receive the credit due to us. Additionally notifications originating from the Pursers Office were In-correct - especially in respect of disembarkation - these had to be withdrawn and re-issued on a number of occasions. Likewise in respect of the 1st edition of the Port information issued in respect of St. Vincent - the information provided actually related to the Azores - what a waste of paper, time and money - more attention to detail is required in this department. The Ships`s photographers do and good job and produce fine quality photographs, together with an excellent DVD of the cruise. Individual photographs tend to be expensive, but again packages are available. This was a Christmas and New Year Cruise and the ship was discreetly and sensitively decorated. There were excellent festal activities. There were, I understand over 700 children on board. This being the case P&O are to be congratulated on their programmes and organized events for those guests as they were very seldom seen and certainly not heard - most well-behaved and a credit to their parents and staff. The facilities for kids and teenagers are outstanding. Dress Code on the ship fell into 3 categories - formal, semi -formal and smart casual. It was pleasing to not that the majority of guests adhered to the dress code especially on formal evening. Following this cruise however, the dress code for this ship and the Oceana fall into only 2 categories - Formal and Smart Casual. There are numerous bars and other venues for drinks throughout the ship. Quiet bars, energetic bars or pool bars. Drinks are well-presented or excellent quality (except at the Captains Cocktail party - where they appeared to lack in alcoholic content) and were reasonably priced. There is a comprehensive wine list again not overly priced. The currency on board is the British Pound. In keeping with the P&O tradition, gratuities are extended on the final evening of the cruise by way of cash in envelopes. Although if you opt for Anytime dining, your gratuity for the waiters in this regard is added to your on-board account. Do be sure that you bring enough sterling for these gratuities. We had planned to withdraw cash at a facility at Gatwick Airport but it was out of order. Fortunately we had enough cash to cover the gratuities, as the Pursers office do not cash personal cheques. There are 3 modest sized swimming pools (one of which is reserved for adults) on board as well as a number of Jacuzzi's. Whilst there are large deck areas with sun beds, there are insufficient sun beds or space for the number of passengers on this ship. - There is just not the amount of required space and beds are so tightly squeezed together and you have to climb on to the sun bed and then sit on it. It does not help when passengers reserve sun beds for hours with their towels and then come along and remove their towels and walk away not having even sat in them. One morning at 7.45am all sun beds were occupied by towels and yet no sun worshippers. P & O do not have a policing policy on this issue - they need to adopt one - this was one of the major factors of discontent on this cruise. A suggestion as to how this might be alleviated is that the upright chairs on balconies be removed and replaced with reclining chairs, like those on the promenade deck. Many guests occupying such cabins would quite possibly tend to spend more time relaxing there than to fight for a sun bed on the open decks. Excellent reclining chairs are provided on the promenade deck. However as the ship has a strict no-smoking policy inside the vessel - many smokers tend to congregate on the starboard side of this deck as it is within easy reach of the bars, entertainment areas, restaurants and night club for their smoke. More ashtrays are needed and those broken need to be fixed and all need to be emptied more often than they are now. This deck also needs to be cleaned more regularly. Some guests on deck 8 - starboard aft, complained about the smoke drifting up from this deck and on to their balconies. They also complained about the noise experienced from these cabins during the early hours of the morning, when smokers from the night-club gathered on this deck. Noise was a constant problem when late night revellers were returning to their cabins in various areas of the ship when the discotheque closed at around 4.00am. There were reports that there were a number of fights on board and those guests were locked up in the brig, but we never witnessed any such fights or any real drunkenness. Unfortunately on the first week of the cruise, the weather was not kind, rain, winds and high seas. This resulted in the ship not being able to dock at 3 of the ports of call. The ship handled well during these conditions whilst at sea. However, it was disappointing that we missed these important ports of calls. Obviously something to do with the size of the ship and its design as guests on other cruise ships and on those of a similar or larger size had no port cancellations. She appeared to the able to dock when in the Caribbean but not at those ports at the edge of the Atlantic. As our fare had included port taxes and charges, it will be interesting to see if P&O refund these to the passengers as they would not have had to pay them and we did not avail of these services. The foregoing are thoughts and/or suggestions and are by no means complaints. They are also designed to assist others when planning their cruise vacation, as to some things that they may wish to consider. In all, we had an excellent cruise and would certainly travel with P&O again. P & O market the ship more towards families, but we feel that the Ventura is suitable for all, couples singles as well as families. We thoroughly enjoyed the traditional P&O experience and would recommend them without reservation. Well Done to all those who made this possible. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008

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