15 Barbados Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

Everything was perfect, You walk off the plane and onto a coach where you’re taken straight to the ship where our bags were waiting for us at our cabin. On return you see the immigration officers onboard, the queues move very fast, ... Read More
Everything was perfect, You walk off the plane and onto a coach where you’re taken straight to the ship where our bags were waiting for us at our cabin. On return you see the immigration officers onboard, the queues move very fast, no standing still. Then we were taken from the ship to the airport and our cases were sent to the plane ahead of us so we didn’t have to carry them around with us, they will also look after your hand luggage for you from when you leave your cabin until you depart the ship, they give you clean towels and an option to use a cabin to freshen up before your flight. Completely hassle free. Cabin was very comfortable and quiet, spotlessly cleaned twice daily and the cabin stewards were so friendly and kind. Fantastic staff, so attentive, friendly and really make you feel valued. Delicious food with plenty of options. The restaurants were very nice and in the buffet you have tons of options, you have fresh food cooked to order including omelettes and create your own stir fries, pastas and pizzas where you can choose exactly what ingredients they put in your meal. The fresh salad bars were so good too with freshly made potato salads, coleslaws and bean salads to name but a few. They had branston like pickle, piccalilli, chutneys and all the usual condiments including HP sauce, Branded drinks and a great choice of cocktails. Even without the premium drinks upgrade. Twinings breakfast and Yorkshire tea and many other kinds of herbal teas, delicious fresh sweet pure orange juice. The snack bar by the pool had freshly prepared salads (Caesar, Greek, Asian, curried chicken, avocado, salmon and more) sandwiches, wraps and burgers, hotdogs, fries etc to grab and go. Excellent entertainment with so many different options to choose from each day and night, something to do whatever your mood. The Collective were absolutely fantastic and got everyone rocking! Plenty of fun, lively areas with great music and entertainment and also calmer areas if you want some peace and quiet to just chill out and enjoy the moment. Didn’t feel at all overcrowded, even at the busiest times there was always somewhere to sit in the shade or in the sun. You can dress to impress if you like which meant I got the chance to wear some evening dresses but if you don’t feel like dressing up you don’t have to. You’re treated beautifully whatever you wear. Unlike other holidays I’ve been on (where drunken idiots have spoiled it for everyone else with their bad behaviour and they’ve been allowed to remain in the hotel and carry on their behaviour for the whole holiday) if someone gets out of hand they are promptly removed from the ship, they have zero tolerance of violent or abusive behaviour, Brilliant! Like staying in a 5 star hotel where the view changes daily. I can’t see how they can improve this ship and it’s staff. We don’t know how they manage it but even on a ship with so many other people on board you are made to feel special, the staff remember you and treat you very well. We will definitely be booking with TUI / Marella again. Everything really was perfect. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Did not know what to expect on this our first cruise as we had read so many varied reviews, but we could not fault our cruise experience, we booked a large balcony cabin and it was perfect, we had our own sun lounger, table with 2 chairs ... Read More
Did not know what to expect on this our first cruise as we had read so many varied reviews, but we could not fault our cruise experience, we booked a large balcony cabin and it was perfect, we had our own sun lounger, table with 2 chairs and a hammock! It was ideal to get away from the hustle and bustle of the pool deck areas and really chill out. Okay the Marella explorer is not brand new and not as huge as some of the other cruise ships but for us it as just right. The main self service dinning room served a good range of hot and cold dishes which changed daily, and if you wanted a full English breakfast you'd have to go a long way to beat it, we also tried out the specialty restaurants, some you had to pay a cover charge for, but well worth it, and the all inclusive drinks package was the best we ever had, all the top and well known beers and spirits.We can't praise all the staff on-board enough, from the cleaners to the ships Captain, nothing was too much. Plenty of hand sanitisers' everywhere, entertainment and activities were suited to all age groups and were well organised, The only thing I would do differently next time would be to book shore excursions on-board the ship, yes they are more expensive than doing it yourself but it saves the hassle of being pestered by the hoards as you walk out of the port area into local towns, overall we had a fantastic first cruise experience and certainly do it all over again, especially on the Marella Explorer. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We have cruised many times with Thompson/Marella in fact all their ships (including the Infamous Saphire in 1996)(Tic). Yes she is old and vibrates a bit. But the Food is excellent in all venues the staff are all vey good our cabin ... Read More
We have cruised many times with Thompson/Marella in fact all their ships (including the Infamous Saphire in 1996)(Tic). Yes she is old and vibrates a bit. But the Food is excellent in all venues the staff are all vey good our cabin steward was 1 of the best we have had. We had a disabled cabin 101 apart from the "Lump" where they have raised the floor in front of the Bathroom. a few of the staff we have met over the years we have cruised with them, and were glad to see their friendly faces. Mainly "Ling the Lerciless" a play on Ming the Merciless The only drawbacks are the Small swimming pool/s and only 1 Extreemly small Jacquzi, and turning them into "all inclusive" seems to be turning them into "Booze Cruises" which IMHO is not the best way forward. The Discoveries both Ex Royal Caribbean Vision class are superb. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I really can't understand why people complain??? Yes the ship is a bit old but it does everything it needs to....gets you from A to B to Z with everything needed (unless you go 5 star and complain about that too?). My wife (who ... Read More
I really can't understand why people complain??? Yes the ship is a bit old but it does everything it needs to....gets you from A to B to Z with everything needed (unless you go 5 star and complain about that too?). My wife (who has a disability and TUI were great with the offer of a disabled cabin) & I enjoyed the whole experience around the islands & met some lovely new friends too. Staff - Excellent. Bars - Very Good (although should be 2 or more Bar Staff at all times). Food & Drink - Ideal. Entertainment - Very Good (something for everyone). Cabins - Not luxurious but if they are clean & tidy (as these are) then no complaints from us. Tours - Didn't do all as we like to do our own exploring (When in British Virgin Islands seek out Captain Friendly who will take you on an informative & very enjoyable 3 to 3 1/2 hour tour & visiting the Shell Man & Friends was the highlight). Transfers - Very Good yet we only did the arrival as return is a little early if you've got prebooked seats as TUI checked us in & our hold luggage was taken from our cabin straight to the plane (great touch TUI Thankyou). Tips for new travellers - Take mixture of U.S & Eastern Carribean Dollars as although U.S are widely used some prices better in local currency. Take Barbados Dollars for last day as locals will give you the price in their own currency first. Highlights - Apart from this lovely old ship & it being tbe best/slowest week holiday we have had then its the local bars,shops & people, as doing our own exploring we never felt threatened or intimidated due to the locals being friendlier than citizens of the UK. Negatives - Safe Key (£15 for the week non-refundable)....not a complaint but just a suggestion that this should be a deposit not an extra payment!!! ENJOY YOUR CRUISE WITH THE MARELLA SHIP THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN AS YOU ARE ONLY USING IT AS A TAXI-WITH-A-ROOM TO TAKE YOU TO SOME ONCE IN A LIFETIME PLACES AS ITS VERY RARE TO HEAR COMPLAINTS ABOUT A TAXI...HAVE A GREAT TIME ALL!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My wife and I had never "done a cruise" and were tempted by a last minute deal. The flight out of Gatwick with TUI was really well done and the 'plane was superb. Too much up selling of duty free stuff but, hey ho, ... Read More
My wife and I had never "done a cruise" and were tempted by a last minute deal. The flight out of Gatwick with TUI was really well done and the 'plane was superb. Too much up selling of duty free stuff but, hey ho, that's life. The embarkation process was seamless with some very courteous mini coach drivers. Really fast check in onto the ship. Our luggage hadn't arrived when we went to our cabin but that is to be expected so we spent a fascinating few hours exploring the ship. We had an hour sunbathing and returned to the cabin where our luggage said hello to us. We chose an inside cabin as we didn't want to be in the cabin too much. The cabin was superb with plenty of space and was really, really clean. (Tip: to free up more space pop your shoes under the bed) Freddy our steward was perfection itself and he always greeted us with a smile. Getting set up for WI FI was a bit of a ceremony but we didn't let that annoy us. We cancelled the automatic tip system and tipped our favourite staff nicely and in person. The Horizon restaurant was absolutely superb with great selections and lovely views. We had top quality service from the beginning with Ronald being a stellar waiter/busboy. I was pretty much addicted to the Indian vegetable curry which was made on board and to be honest far better than most Indian restaurants I've been to in the UK and I've been to a few hundred. Everything was slick and immaculate clean. We did try the Peninsular but things were a bit slow so we didn't go back and stayed loyal to the Horizon. The shows in the Theatre were superb. High, high quality. Horizon 3, Peter Howarth and the Bluejays were all absolutely splendid and having been in the entertainment world for decades I am quite picky. The pantomime by the entertainment crew was really not too good so we left. Lots stayed and enjoyed it though. We liked the reggae/calypso band on the main deck. Around the pool was very busy and noisy so we found a few quiet spots around the ship to bask in the sun. Gorgeous. There was always good product and service around the pool areas and wait staff wandering around ready to take an order We loved staying on board the ship when most people went on a tour as we were so very relaxed and happy basking in the sun. We had a wonderful time for the whole cruise and can't really fault it. Yes things aren't always to everyone's liking but that is life. We thought it was all pretty much perfect and we are very fussy. I note people complaining about the elevators and that's fair enough but when a lot of people use the elevator for one or two floors it's easy to see why it all gets clogged. We did the stairs as much as possible. We were on board when the Gatwick drone problem was going on and I have to say P & O and TUI managed everything so well it was very impressive. Superb emergency management. Thank you P and O Cruises and TUI - We will be back! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose to return to the Caribbean again to escape some of the winter, and having had enjoyable cruises with Thomson Ships in the past chose to go on Discovery. We are getting older now and not so able bodied. My husband has a mobility ... Read More
We chose to return to the Caribbean again to escape some of the winter, and having had enjoyable cruises with Thomson Ships in the past chose to go on Discovery. We are getting older now and not so able bodied. My husband has a mobility scooter which we took with us for the first time. Everyone was amazing. As soon as we landed in Barbados after a wonderful flight and great service on board Dreamliner, we were met by a taxi and taken to the Ship. Our cabin on deck six was midships and perfect for lifts etc. We ate all breakfasts and most dinners in 47. The waiters loved parking the "Ferrari" as they called it usually doing a lap of the restaurant first. We ate in Surf and Turf and Kora la which were good. The Italian was also enjoyable and made a change occasionally. We didn't do much ashore as we had been to most islands before, but did do the catamaran trip in Antigua which was great. The Ship was immaculate. We were well informed by the Captain regarding weather and sea conditions and have no complaints about service, food, or crew who were all friendly and welcoming. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
l chose this cruise because we wanted to cruise the Caribbean we flew to Barbados and embarked on the Marella Discovery the ship is fantastic for all inclusive drinks the price is excellent and the food was very good especially the Al A ... Read More
l chose this cruise because we wanted to cruise the Caribbean we flew to Barbados and embarked on the Marella Discovery the ship is fantastic for all inclusive drinks the price is excellent and the food was very good especially the Al A Carte we had many meals in there where the staff were excellent the service was perfect l would like to thank Ryan Pacumba for being the best waiter any one could possibly have you are the best Ryan and Renalyn our waitress on a number of occasions and also excellent with a fantastic personality and Anthony the restaurant manager who looked after us so well big thank's to you all---the buffet food was so good we were spoiled for choice. The live music was also very good on deck 9 and in the bars also. l will certainly be booking this cruise again very soon. l would also like to thank the hospital on board the ship my husband was taken ill and spent 2 days in the ships hospital the doctor was first class and also Boris who looked after my husband was the best . l would next time book a better cabin as the inside one we had was very small and with my husband in a wheelchair we had no room to move about at all. The Spar was very good my husband had a pedicure and paraffin massage l had my hair cut and blow dried and my nails done very reasonable price and l would certainly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The original itinerary was changed by the hurricanes to substitute Guadeloupe for the destroyed Tortola in British Virgin Islands. As Hurricane Irma, Harvey, Maria and Katia barrelled their way round the Caribbean in the Autumn of ... Read More
The original itinerary was changed by the hurricanes to substitute Guadeloupe for the destroyed Tortola in British Virgin Islands. As Hurricane Irma, Harvey, Maria and Katia barrelled their way round the Caribbean in the Autumn of 2017, we became very worried about whether there would be enough left standing for us to enjoy. It was a needless concern, because we visiited nine islands and saw no damage. Boarding our P&O chartered Thomson's Dreamliner at Gatwick, we hopefully waved au revoir to our cases and settled in for eight hours of reading, announcements, meals to be eaten like a praying mantis and, of course, funny smells. It was a pleasant flight; the Dreamliner being what it is, we had to keep looking out the windows to make sure the engines were turned on because it was quiet enough to hear people scratching. Luckily, the driver found Barbados in the middle of nowhere and we duly landed to be greeted by a wall of heat and friendly faces. The forty minute coach trip to the P&O Azura was fascinating. Barbados is quite a flat island (the only one in the Caribbean that wasn’t made by a volcano) and so the loveliest scenery is mainly around the beaches. Our first trip to the Caribbean and the things we discovered. • Most places have taxi marshall's outside the welcome terminal. They will manage which taxi (minibus) you get in, leaving only when full (but at least they leave the AC on!). You pay at the end of your return journey after they pick you up at the appointed time. • Take US dollars and Euros. Don’t bother with Eastern Caribbean Dollars and be careful you know which “dollars” you are being asked for. Make sure your change is in US dollars. • Everywhere you go there is music. If you don’t like reggae, go somewhere else, because that is the theme running through most islands. • Rum Punch is often quite strong. Two will make you tipsy, and don’t mix it with their Carib beer at 5.2%, something I learned rather than heard. • Caribbean people are friendly, vibrant, kind, church-going Christians, happy and bring their children up really well. They seem to have proper family values and standards. They don't have drug problems - they have drug-trafficer problems because of their unfortunate geographic location between grower and user. • Wherever you stop, there is a terminal area with markets, shops, stalls, music and bars where you can buy duty free goods. These are invariably more expensive than in the town. Antigua (Pronounced “ANTEEGAH” - saying “ANTEEG YOU AH” singles you out as a “newbie”) A gorgeous and spectacular island, the inhabitants of which are 99% church-going Christians, and all of whom are lovely friendly souls. We went on the “Best of Antigua with Lobster Lunch” excursion for the best lobster I have ever had! Apparently another excursion with a lobster lunch was not nearly so good, so be careful which one you choose. This one visits Shirley Heights, Nelsons Dockyard (Lobster Lunch), the spectacularly beautiful rain forest and finally Mitties Bar by the beach. Verdict - Lovely island and people, safe as houses. Mitties Bar rum punches are stronger than you think. I know that now. St Kitts and Nevis A pretty little island with lovely laid back friendly people. We did the train journey round the island which had some lovely surprises, rattling and rolling it's way round that central mountain. Others did the beach and thoroughly enjoyed their day. The shops near the ship were great fun, as were the bars. Smashing friendly people. "Don't worry ...... be happy" Amber Cove - Dominican Republic This is a shopping and recreation centre built by Carnival Cruises as a clean safe oasis in the Dominican Republic. If you've been to Disney-World, it's a bit like Main Street USA. We didn’t find anyone who did the Puerto Plata (nearest town) excursion and enjoyed it on account of the fact that it seemed to be a tour through landfills. Nobody said they felt safe in the town and, outside Amber Cover, you can pay for a day at the hotel and beach next door. Those that did, didn't seem very happy with it. This Amber Cove “Carnival Cruises oasis” is clean, safe, ringed with steel fences and very well appointed. There are pools, loungers, bars, shops, water features and views, most of it being free. I loved it but others thought it was false and man-made. Which it was. I still liked it though. You don’t have to spend anything if you don’t want to. Unfortunately all telecoms were down so nobody could use the free WiFi or pay with cards. Rickshaws take you from the ship to the entrance.. It’s free, but a $2US tip per trip is gratefully received. Martinique (Actually, France, and therefore Europe) Much nicer than Guadeloupe. This was more up-market - the currency is Euros, very few take dollars. We did what most people do and took the boat from the dock to Pointe de Bout ($7 return per - person pay on board). From here you can walk to the right to a pretty, exclusive and expensive beach. Drinks here, especially on that little bar in the water, are shockingly expensive. Alternatively, walk straight on from the jetty through the lovely shops and bars (normal prices) to the big more popular beach. The boats also go to other nearby beaches which we didn’t visit. The people are lovely, friendly and helpful. And French. Yes I know. All the reviews about rudeness are unfounded. The boats are backwards and forwards from the dock every half hour. Some people walked round the town instead and reported it to be very pleasant, although a lot were closed because it was a Sunday. Guadeloupe (France again) Not our favourite stop. Use Euros and not dollars, try and speak some French if you can. We did the excursion called “Highlights of Guadeloupe” which might have been wishful thinking because some felt the highlight was getting back to the ship again. The waterfall was underwhelming, the botanical gardens a muddle and the plantation and distillery a health and safety nightmare. The rum shop was good though - every rum product you can imagine, so that made the trip worthwhile. People who did the excursion “St Anne’s Beach on your own” had a much nicer time and said it was quite safe and very pretty. Wish we'd done that! I’d like to be able to say all the people we met were friendly. Do not wear jewellery or use your mobile phone in the street. Some passengers didn’t take that advice, regrettably. Our tour guide advised us not to walk anywhere that has buildings above three storeys. Scary! The capital Point de Pitre is like downtown Marseilles. We wouldn’t walk round it, something the Captain advised over the ships tannoy before we docked. The reason that P&O haven’t been to this island for the last twenty years was no longer a mystery. Grenada Paradise. Take the water taxi from near the berth to the beach. $10pp return, $20 for a luxurious sunbed and very large brolly. A bucket of six beers, surrounded by ice costs $15 and is served by waiters who will come round to see if you need anything. Lovely beach for swimming and just chilling out. Water taxis are travelling backwards and forwards all the time. The island is safe and friendly, the people lovely, sand clean the landscape gorgeous. It used to be British. St Lucia Beautiful port, lovely friendly people. The terminal area is a chaotic mass of taxi drivers and tour sellers trying to sell you something. Just walk on, they have nowhere else to tout for business - it’s just not very well organised. People loved the beach trips and the kayaking. We found the people friendly and fun. The terminal building has shops on two levels. Whatever you do, make a point of going upstairs to Shirley's shop. She and her shop are wonderful! If you walk out of the terminal area, turn left and go to the local market a little way on the left. We had such a great time there laughing with the ladies and buying bits and pieces. If someone approaches you and hands you a handmade object or anything else, don’t take it because they will only accept money and will say you bought it by taking it. This isn’t dangerous, it’s just a nuisance. A couple went to Vigie Beach by bus. It cost $18 each return and everything they did was very expensive - umbrellas, chairs, drinks. They said they hadn’t expected to pay so much for a day at the beach and that facilities there were very basic. We were late leaving St Lucia and the Captain advised us not to venture into Castries after dark. It used to be French. St Vincent and the Grenadines A lovely friendly safe pretty island that’s almost more British than Britain. We went to the botanical gardens by taxi - $20 return. Very peaceful and beautiful place to spend an hour. Oddly, we spent two or three hours behind some beers in the terminal area which was totally the opposite of St Lucia - probably because of the people, the music and the beer! With reggae music in the background, and $3 for a local beer, why go anywhere else? Some people went to Bequie island by water taxi, where the beaches are beautiful, but there are no seats or umbrellas for non-residents. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
The cruise itinerary we chose was paradise island which consisted of British Virgin Island (Tortola) St Maarten , St Kitts , Antigua and Bequia (the grenadines) and Barbados however we just embarked and disembarked here . All calls of port ... Read More
The cruise itinerary we chose was paradise island which consisted of British Virgin Island (Tortola) St Maarten , St Kitts , Antigua and Bequia (the grenadines) and Barbados however we just embarked and disembarked here . All calls of port were very nice and what was expected , however Bequia was horrid , there was nothing to do there as soon as we got off the tender boat we looked round and got back on straight away I couldn't believe that we had actually docked there! Also most places you were hounded and disturb by men yelling "Taxi, Taxi!!" It at some points made you feel very vulnerable. Also do not pay for excursions through Thomson as you can get the same experiences for less than half the price when you get off the boat. Our room numbers were 3076 and 3074 which were interconnecting rooms , and I must say the rooms were bigger than we had all expected, plenty of storage space and the bathrooms weren't too small also the windows were massive and you could see plenty through them. Also Maria our house keeper was a lovely lady and would do anything to help. The food was outstanding especially in Gallery and 47° ,the service was excellent and I couldn't recommend it more , however we were continuously eating between those two restaurants every night so I think the a la carte restaurants should have been free or at a cheaper price as there wasn't many places to eat. Also I would recommend the drinks package for £10 a day however you could probably get away with one person in your group just ordering all the drinks as they only scan one card anyway. The entertainment was incredible , in the day they have plenty of things to do from quizzes and musical masterminds where you can win real presents and loads of music and live performances going on. Also there were quite a few activities to do mini golf , climbing wall and they had a enormous amount of classes or gatherings for everyone to do in one day. Although I was not a single passenger I do believe they did try to include single passengers and help them interact with each other as they could meet up daily however hopefully in the future Thomson will offer more for single passengers. Also the shows were out of this world , some of the shows were a bit random however it meant there was at least one shows that everyone would like , the comedian Tank was hilarious I was crying with laughter and all the performers and dancers were amazing you could see how much hard work they put into there jobs. The only down sides were the expenses , the spa was ridiculous!! You could see why there was lack of customers at those prices. Also the wifi was very exspensive (£50 for 8 days) considering it ran out for two members of our party 4 days before we left which was simple impossible as we had not been over using the wifi however they did restart the wifi in both cases , although I do think it was a bit of a dodgey scam just to make more money on you. However I would definalitly recommend this cruise it was amazing and I would love to return. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
As a seasoned cruiser we have travelled with Thomson, p and o, Disney, Celebrity, Cruise and Maritime, island Cruises, Saga, Windstar and Silver seas. We have always enjoyed the Thomson ships for the service, because they are not too large ... Read More
As a seasoned cruiser we have travelled with Thomson, p and o, Disney, Celebrity, Cruise and Maritime, island Cruises, Saga, Windstar and Silver seas. We have always enjoyed the Thomson ships for the service, because they are not too large and because we truly believe they have the best entertainment, although we know they are not normally the prettiest and nicest of the ships. When we booked the Tui discovery two weeks in the Caribbean we had mixed feelings about it, a little worried about some of the reviews regarding the fact that it was informal (we like to dress up) and a little bothered about there may be too many kids for our liking, but the itineraries were different and so we decided to give it a go. I am so pleased we did. This was an amazing cruise, definately the best we have done! First of all the ship is beautiful. It has gone under a refurb earlier in the year when thomson bought it from royal Caribbean. The atrium is very impressive and we loved the way the housekeeping staff had decorated it so tastefully with Christmas decorations. The main buffet restaurant was lovely, nothing like the canteen feel of most of the ships. It was all glass fronted with the majority of tables set in an angle to give you a lovely view of the bow of the ship and surrounding views which was lively when eating. The glass house adult only area was a conservatory with an indoor pool with no extra charges unlike most lines and extremely comfortable sun loungers. Lite bites and salads were available during the day and snacks in the evening at no extra charge. The theatre is also designed very well, no pillars or posts obscuring views so wherever you sit you can see very well. And the whole ship was spotless, the cleanest ship we have been on, housekeeping staff were amazing. Three weeks before we were due to travel I actually broke my shoulder. I was very nervous about travelling but the care and attention I received from all of the staff was phenomenal. When the chief housekeeper Larry heard this he actually managed to arrange for us to move to a cabin with a specially adapted shower which was amazing as I am still at the stage where my mother is assisting me to dress and wash. They also arranged for extra pillows and our cabin steward Fernando was constantly checking to see if I needed anything else to make myself comfortable. The cabins are a lot bigger than most and very tastefully decorated. I also have a lot of allergies and the food was the best I have experienced on board a ship. The head chefs Gustavo and Thomas and also ionut spoke to me to check what I could eat and ionut checked with me after every meal to sed I had enjoyed my food. The variety and types of foods served on board were very high quality. Guests can find at any time, we preferred to done in the Italian restaurant 47 degrees as it had a balcony overlooking the main restaurant and was a lovely ambience with a pianist to entertain. There was no extra charge for this restaurant, there are two a la carte restaurants which do incur a supplement which we did not try simply because the food was so good elsewhere but I heard good reports from fellow guests. We were pleased that most people did in fact dress up nicely. The restaurant staff were also amazing, particularly the restaurant manager Felipe, the buffet managers Robert and Nara, and Maxton and Jordan who arranged my special orders each meal. I see reports that the bars were short staffed, we certainly did not experience this, there were always plenty of staff and the service was excellent. We did not take the all inclusive option as I do not drink but thought the drinks were reasonable. The five bottles of wine for £72 was a good deal and also the spirits in the onboard shop which thomson allow you to enjoy in your cabin unlike most lines are very reasonable. I see people complaining that you pay for bottled water but there are water stations that are free by the glass everywhere so personally I think this is just nit-picking. In fact I have to say this is the least money grabbing cruise we have been on! We were especially surprised that there was no extra charge for the grab and go where you could get sandwiches wraps and salads to take ashore was free. The Free Icecream was served in quality waffle cones, not cheap wafers. The staff on board from the shops, to the destination services, the spa and the photographers all assisted us without making us purchase. We did one tour with thomson and three independently and they were just as happy to assist with independent information. The evening shows were fabulous and the cruise director Paul Evans was hilarious yet very down to earth. There did not seem to be as many say time activities as in previous cruises, this did not bother us as in the fortnight we only had one sea day but had we been on a crossing we would probably have wanted more. We very much enjoyed the backstage tour by the entertainers and the q and a with the captain. We were also very impressed by the steel band and the amazing saxophonist who entertained in the atrium evening times. I don't know whether it was the time of year (2 and 3 week dec) but there were not many kids on board and the kids club entertainers seemed to keep them occupied which was good for us. We also did not experience any problem with getting sun beds, there seemed to be plenty and most guests obeyed the requests not to reserve them apart from a few ignorant couples who hogged the few in the adult area at the back the Veranda throughout the cruise. I have to say though what really made the trip so great was the crew and officers, senior officers taking time to speak to passengers a lot as well, namely chief officer hotel director, general manager, head bar manager, executive chefs, head housekeeper and captain - everyone was so down to earth and chatty. We will definitely be booking the Discovery or the new soon to be launched discovery two again, despite the fact that as from summer everyone has to go all inclusive which does not really suit us but is worth the sacrifice. Once again, amazing cruise, can't recommend enough and many thanks to all on board! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Well we are back from our Azura Christmas cruise (flew out 25th Dec from Manchester on the dreamliner). I was going with an open mind as we usually do, we have sailed on Ventura and oceana and a few other cruise lines prior to p&o. I ... Read More
Well we are back from our Azura Christmas cruise (flew out 25th Dec from Manchester on the dreamliner). I was going with an open mind as we usually do, we have sailed on Ventura and oceana and a few other cruise lines prior to p&o. I was hoping we would like Azura as we loved Ventura. I have to say that this was the best cruise by far for us, it even beat our cruise around the Caribbean for our honeymoon 10 years ago, and we had our two young children and my mum with us. I have to say the age range of the passengers was great a real good mixture and there were also 300 children on board which it never seemed that many. There was a great atmosphere on board and we made friends with young and old. While on board we renewed our wedding vows to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, as we did want to marry at sea. Captain Camby was lovely, funny and really chatty guy and I love his thoughts of the day. Kids had a ball in the kids club, my daughter is disabled but she had an amazing time too, both got really upset when leaving. They put on a little nativity play which they all did really well remembering their words. I felt 99% of kids were well behaved, there were a few 'on the loose' with no parental supervision and some of them were 16/17 and getting into a spot of trouble but nothing to spoil our holiday. By the time we arrived Christmas day and got on board we were too tired to get off so decided to dump our hand luggage in the cabin and take a mooch around and register the children at club. As were were club dining we could eat at either 6.30 or 8.30pm on the first two days but we decided to do our own thing until the formalities set in on first sea day. Quick drink up top deck to watch the sunset and off to bed. The next day we got a taxi to Harbour lights in Carlisle bay (wanted to do boat yard last time but didn't get round to it and didn't fancy taking the children). I knew I wanted to find the guy who takes you out to snorkel by the turtles and snorkel over the ship wreck. This was an amazing trip, turtles swimming under me, the kids enjoyed it too. Tortola we paid for a ship excursion to Jost Van Dyke, all I can say for the brief few minutes we were there it was beautiful, I was gutted we had to leave asap, as my mum had a caught her leg on a sun bed and lost quite a lot of blood. Spent the next couple of hours in medical while they stitched her up. Amber cover we used the new facilities, what a lovely port area.The water park was amazing, my kids didn't want to leave, plenty of sunbeds too, Captain told me they always try and make sure only one ship is in with them, it would have been crowded if two ships were in. St Maarten was new years day, we wanted to go to Maho last time we were there but never got round to it. We took a cab to Mullet bay first which is a 10 min walk from maho. The beach is stunning but the waves and current are very dangerous for small children, even we got knocked down by them trying to keep hold of the children. We walked to maho and spent a couple of hours at driftwood bar the opposite end of the busier bar. We missed the klm coming in well we saw it from mullet, but witnessed the klm take off, now I wasn't standing in the jet blast and still got blasted with sand and stones and bare the bruises on my tummy, how these people can stand directly in front of it I don't know. Antigua we took a walk to the bus station and took the bus to turners, originally it was going to be Ffryes but the lady at the bus station said it was a far walk. We weren't disappointed with turners it was a lovely beach. We got a taxi back St Kitts, mum stayed on the ship and the kids went to club. We wanted to see what ship wreck bar was like on South Friars and just go for a walk. We asked the driver to stop at timothy hill to get a pic. The weather wasn't great here, at one point we were running from a storm/rain cloud ha ha. Loved ship wreck bar too. Little Adonia joined us and we had a good blast off as she left. Martinique we didn't book anything we were planning on getting the ferry across to one of the beach but the weather wasn't great so we just had a little walk in port, brought some rum and back on ship. I was hoping to make use of an empty ship and sunbathe but ended up doing the hokey cokey with my bags getting them under cover every time it rained! I was ok sitting on a lounger in the rain though! We have been to St Lucia before and did a trip to the pitons, so we decided to stay on board as I knew St Lucia isn't the best for beaches. The children were very tired so we let them sleep in until the woke up. We just sat on the balcony so I was gutted when we had the container side ha ha! Once the kids got up they wanted to go to club so we sat on top deck and had 2 hours peace before picking them back up. Then spent the afternoon with the children in the pool. Grenada is our favourite port, we did a bike ride 10 years ago with ocean village then went to a lovely beach morne rouge. This time we booked the rhum runner, mum felt up to it and the kids were looking forward to the dancing. I knew I wanted to get off and get my spice necklaces and spices first so we did that in the morning while mum came to our cabin while the children slept. The Rhum runner was so much fun, very loud and lots of laughs and dancing not to forget lots of rum. The children had some coke (their first time) and told me it was their best drink ever, they won't be having it again. An officer was waiting for us from the ship to hurry us all along. The captain was on the bridge and we all gave a good wave and he waved back. The trip is a must do - so much fun. Pity it is at the end of the holiday though when you need to pack!!! We booked the taster menu in the Glass house £30pp and 6 glasses of wine to accompany the food. Really good food and really good wine. Loved the glass house and really recommend, but you have to book quick as the places are limited. We ate in the buffet twice for dinner and once for lunch. We had 8.30pm sitting in Oriental, our waiters were great and we had a wine waiter which we weren't sure about as we had read that p&o had got rid of them. Our manager came to me every night with the menu the next day to pick my food as I am a vegetarian. I had to send food back once as I had mould on my yorkshire pud, I told them to take the yorkshire away and to keep the rest of my food as I was enjoying it, but they said they couldn't. Because they rushed my course to get it out it was all under cooked and not very enjoyable so I just told them to take it away in the end which I was gutted as I was enjoying it originally. Food was good generally but we have noticed a decline over the years, both in main dining room and the buffet, this was just an observation after cruising with P&O before, it certainly didn't spoil our holiday. We used the pizzeria and grill a fair bit at lunch and the grab and go next to the grill, some nice salads and sandwiches. Breakfast we mixed it up between buffet, restaurant and room service depending when the children woke up and what mood we were in. We have always found the entertainment not to be the best for our age range but we enjoyed what we did see this time. We had Jon Fisher as Gary Barlow, he was brilliant, Freddy Mercury tribute was brilliant, a ventriloquist who was so funny, we couldn't stop laughing all way through the act. We loved accent on top deck too. We didn't use any of the other bars as we were mainly in breakers or up on top deck while the weather was lovely. New Years Eve on top deck was brilliant, unfortunately our dinner service wasn't very good in Oriental which meant the kids didn't eat until 10.10pm and no one come to tell us that they had over cooked the food and started again, it was only when we told them we were a bit disappointed. This meant we got up to top deck late and there were no seats. We sat with a family we made friends with and had to get the chairs that recline to be able to sit down, but everyone was doing this. Darcey Bussell was on board and on stage with the captain and we let the new year in. Overall a brilliant cruise and our best by far. We usually put down a future down payment while on board but we decided not to as we want to come to the Caribbean again but I find it hard fitting it in with the kids holidays except over Christmas, they wanted £10k to go this year on Britannia, but I need to pay some of this cruise off first, so it will be a land based holiday for us for a year or two and maybe going back in two years. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
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 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
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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