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33 Genoa P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

We thought that we would try a fortnight in the Eastern Med/Adriatic and see Venice from a reasonably big boat before the rumoured restrictions are put into place. Now this is neither our first cruise with P&O, nor our first fly/cruise ... Read More
We thought that we would try a fortnight in the Eastern Med/Adriatic and see Venice from a reasonably big boat before the rumoured restrictions are put into place. Now this is neither our first cruise with P&O, nor our first fly/cruise on the Ventura, also we understand that change must happen, but there are certain things we look forward to on cruises, certain standards met, etc. We take it as a given that once on-board, all any cruise line is interested in is our money, and this used to to politely done, now it is just blatant. From our point of view, Ventura has very nearly lost all 'Britishness' it once had and its patently obvious that the parent company Carnival Corp. has totally failed to understand P&O's major customer group i.e. the British. First the ship is looking very tired now, the much publicized refit was not very visible except for the normally empty, pretentious and overly expensive 'The Retreat' (same as the Azura), and in my opinion a total waste of space. The refit has not physically changed the old Rambalas/Tapas bar and is thankfully not a copy of that horrible creation on Azura, but is now also called the ‘Glass House’. There was visible damage to many wooden fittings in public areas, missing tiles around the pool(s) area, and peeling surfaces of the pool itself. Deck 15 food the pizza, burger/hotdog, self-service area, and the ‘Beachhouse’ does not appear to have changed. We did not try the ‘White Room’ this time because we thought the cover charge was extortionate, but we heard rumours that is was not that busy. We did try ‘East’ and the ‘Glass House’ once each, both were expensive but the food was well cooked and very tasty. This is the first time that we had been allocated ‘freedom dinning’ and the ability to eat when it is convenient is very attractive (unless you have to wait – of course), however the service we received here was definitely not silver service, mostly it was rushed with side plates and cutlery often missing from the tables, glassware was not properly dried or polished. Most times missing items (including butter) were replaced from nearby tables while the occupants were still eating. The quality and presentation of the food was somewhat less than it had been on other cruises, e.g. the main dish was presented fully plated and therefore you had no opportunity to have fewer or more vegetables as you wished, also the medium-rare beef always seemed to be a bit too rare. Drinks were as previous P&O cruises i.e. of reasonable prices compare to other cruise lines. But it should be noted that on the Genoa-Venice leg of the trip all purchases are subject to Italian VAT @ 22% extra – because the ship does not leave EU waters for those 7 days. As always the entertainment was of mixed quality, from very good to very poor. Now this is a very subjective subject and I will not expand too much further, suffice it to say many did not appreciate comedians who told the audience that "he did not care ... what they thought" and/or using swear words and lewd comments in front children. It was noticeable that day-time talks, recitals, craft classes etc were greatly curtailed. Normally we fly with the P&O charter carrier, but this time we elected to fly with BA the consequence of this entailed a certain amount of claiming baggage and transferring it ourselves to allotted points for onward transport, we were resigned to this hardship. It is our opinion that P&O/carrier interface was poorly managed from P&Os end, as all the problems appeared to be of P&Os making and this made embarkation and dis-embarkation at best chaotic and at worse shambolic. All in all, we found that this cruise the destinations were great, the ship was missing something and definitely lacked the old romance/sparkle of previous and felt slightly niggardly and of reduced quality.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Having read the previous review of the same cruise by Rakugoka I find it fascinating to see just how subjective a review can be, as it is clearly based upon one's own experiences, but of a similar event. Anyway, this was our first ... Read More
Having read the previous review of the same cruise by Rakugoka I find it fascinating to see just how subjective a review can be, as it is clearly based upon one's own experiences, but of a similar event. Anyway, this was our first P&O experience, and the beginning could be seen as a good start, or a bad one, depending on how you look at it. To ensure your baggage arrives at your appointed cabin P&O very kindly e-mail you a label to attach to your case(s). As these labels are not of the type you would see attached at the baggage check-in at the Airport, we felt there was a risk of them becoming detached during the handling of our suitcase at either Birmingham or Genoa (or in-between) and so had intended to sellotape them to the bags once we collected them at Genoa. However, we had not been made aware that, once the bags were deposited at Birmingham check-in, we would not be expected to see them again until they were delivered to our cabin and so missed the opportunity to attach our labels indicating our cabin number. Several anxious hours ensued upon arrival at the ship, and many visits to Reception, to seek reassurance that our 'unlabelled' bags would still find their way to our cabin. Fortunately, they did eventually turn up and so, relieved, we then settled in for our departure form Genoa. The other point of annoyance from a P&O novice point of view was that it was nowhere clearly stated that, in fact, the transfer from Genoa Aipoprt to the ship was included. After much searching and deliberation on Cruise Critic we had decided to get a Taxi from the Airport to the ship, only to find in fact, the organisation was so good, they had actually laid on a bus, which was brilliant, but so glad we hadn't booked a private transfer as this would have been a waste of money. I suppose, in a nutshell, it would have helped considerably if the P&O cruise personliser had made these points more clearly. I would concur with the previous reviewers observations regarding the check-in process at Genoa, with a single line having to pass the photographer, and you could clearly see that the 20 or so check-in staff were never fully utilised, meaning the photo process was causing a bottleneck. Many people chose not to have their picture taken but nonetheless still had to run the gauntlet of staff trying to 'persuade' you to have your picture taken (which was later for sale at over £14 but they didn't tell you this at the time!). It would have been much more efficient to separate the queues into 2, for those wanting their photo taken and those that did not but, I suspect, this may have resulted in a significant lost opportunity for P&O to try and tease a bit more cash out of you, as it would be quite likely far less people would have gone down the photo op queue than by their current method. So, having settled in to our cabin, met our brilliant Steward Iris, and eaten all the chocolates which greeted us, we set-sail. There was also a bottle of Champagne in our cabin, which we struggled to decide what to do with, as we're both not particularly fond of the stuff. We had booked a Balcony Cabin which was superb. Very well appointed, nice balcony, very clean, and was made available to us ahead of the scheduled 4pm. Iris (male by the way) was superb, very friendly; helpful and efficient, and never showed any problems with the daily clean, or evening turn-down. On previous cruises we had become used to niceties such as the customary folded towel animals on our bed on one or more evenings but this didn't happen on this cruise. Don't know if this is by design on a P&O cruise, or just that Iris's artistic side wasn't up to it. This isn't a complaint by the way, just an observation. We had also selected the Freedom dining package, meaning we could attend our appointed Restaurant any time during the evening 'window' and, being the anti-social type we are, always requested a table to for 2 as opposed to sharing. One each occasion we were advised we would have to wait, and were handed a pager to notify us when our table was ready. Most times this was a very short wait, and were quickly seated at our table. The food, we found, was excellent, both on the 'Classic' menu (which stayed the same throughout) and the alternative menu which varied from day to day. I would say that, of the thing you would note as standing out, would be that everything was supremely efficient'. 2 of the nights were designated as Black-Tie which, as people that prefer not to partake of these, we were forced into the option of either using one of the themed Restaurants (at an additional cover charge), or to take advantage of the Buffet style restaurants on the Lido Deck. Unfortunately, P&O chose to make all of the Buffet Restaurants themed also, on these nights (one being a Thai night, and the other a Curry night). As we were keen on neither we felt the only option was to attend a Restaurant at additional cost. We chose the Glass House on both occasions, which was excellent, but we once again felt, the 'system' was designed to encourage you to spend your cash as, to us, it would have made more sense to split the themed offerings in the buffet restaurants to a night which was different from the Black-Tie night, or at least still provide a normal buffet service in one or more of the 4 buffet restaurants. At each port, there were a number of excursions on offer. We only took one excursion, to Pisa, to see the Leaning Tower, but we opted to book one on-line from crusingexcursions.com which was around half the price of the P&O one, and still with an excellent guide, and the bus returned us directly to the ship. The cabins (or 'State Rooms' as they like to call them) are provided with a flat screen TV (2 in our cabin) which has channels devoted primarily to P&O sales, news (BBC and Sky) and Sky Sports News. There is a channel where you can purchase movies at around £2 each, or a small selection of TV shows which were free of charge. There is also an interactive service, where you can order room service, view your account etc, and also receive messages. Rather annoyingly, if there are messages waiting, you are forced into reading these before you can progress onto viewing any TV channels. On 2 occasions, were advised 'you have 5 web mail messages waiting for you' which, if you clicked on this, you were then taken to a screen advising you take out a subscription for their internet access (e.g. £35 for 90 mins) before you can view your web-mail. I personally felt this was misleading and, potentially, dishonest, as P&O could not actually KNOW you had e-mail messages waiting, and this was just a ploy to get you to buy their internet services. I also not, regarding their Internet Service, they offer it with a caveat that you shouldn't expect it to be very quick, as it is accessed via satellite. To me, this is akin to offering you meal in a restaurant for £20 but don't expect it to be very good! - If it's not a 'good' service, then it should be offered free-of-charge. Overall, we had a wonderful experience, the ship was very clean, well appointed, and the staff, whilst not always falling over themselves to go the extra mile were however, always pleasant and, once again, I feel compelled to use the word 'efficient'. I would say P&O's emphasis was on efficiency, as opposed to customer service. We were constantly left feeling like they wanted us to buy 'extras' which is understandable, to a limit but, somehow, we just felt as thought they were continually trying to extract just a little bit more, all of the time. Despite the little niggles, as previously described, we would seriously consider going back to P&O, but not to the same ship.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was our second trip on the Ventura and already had two cruises on the Azura. Ships are the same layout but still managed to take wrong turnings. On the whole though the ships easy to find your way around. Flew from Manchester, flight ... Read More
This was our second trip on the Ventura and already had two cruises on the Azura. Ships are the same layout but still managed to take wrong turnings. On the whole though the ships easy to find your way around. Flew from Manchester, flight P & O Thomson charter which was fine, all run to times. Airport to Cruise Terminal and Embarkation seamless, though had a wait of 20 minutes for Italian Police to show re embarkation. Accessed our cabin relatively quickly, luggage soon after. Greeted by a smiley Vijaya, very pleasant cabin steward who kept the cabin spotless. We were allocated second dining and our waiters were excellent, very friendly and efficient, no problems there, food was good with enough choices for all courses. We never used the alternative dining venues on this cruise, though have in the past and would say they are excellent. Used the dining rooms for all meals and found everything to our liking. Not too many problems finding somewhere to sit in the sun, when it was out, but then the ship was not full. Have been on the ship full and struggled to find sunbeds, so many reserved with towels. We never used the ships shore excursions, find them quite pricey in the Med, did our own thing. Our needs are relatively simple, overall had a really nice cruise, good food, nice bars, excellent entertainment, and really nice fellow cruisers. Shame about most of the weather. This is our second time at the Med round about the same time April/May, been told we were unlucky !! Won't try again at this time. Off to the sunny Caribbean again in February and on this same ship, which for us speaks for itself.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was our first cruise with P&O and it was a bit of a curate's egg, after a series of little disappointments, we came away feeling rather underwhelmed. This is a fly cruise but we got the full budget airline experience, being ... Read More
This was our first cruise with P&O and it was a bit of a curate's egg, after a series of little disappointments, we came away feeling rather underwhelmed. This is a fly cruise but we got the full budget airline experience, being charged extra to sit with the person you are going with is a real bugbear, the charge could just as easily be made upfront. Our plane got changed and although we had booked seats with extra legroom, we did not get them in the change. We had a very easy processing, with pretty much everything to schedule. P&O want you to be at the airport three hours before the flight which for us appears excessive, perhaps they have had enough problems in the past to make this necessary. The luggage found its way to and from our cabin with no problems. Perhaps the only issue was the embarkation procedure. There were around 20 check in desks, and once you got to them it all went very smoothly, however everyone had to queue up to put their bags on a table, decide if they wanted a photograph taken and then collect their bags. Considering there could be three photographers waiting at a gangplank trying to take your photograph when you were going into a port but only one photographer on the way in for processing, this could have been thought out more carefully. The room was very nice, well decorated with a decent sized shower, though see our cabin comments. Our cabin steward did a good job of keeping the room under control when she could. Of the seven nights and six full days we were there, there was no time for the turndown service on three nights, one day the room was not cleaned and on a second we had to vacate the room to get things done. This certainly was not because the stewardess was not working hard, perhaps this was her first week and she had not got the routine down but it seems more likely that the ship is understaffed with too many people being asked to do just a bit too much. You could see the same issues elsewhere. One of the security computers seemed to be off all week. When over three thousand people could be trying to get off the ship you would think that that is would have been a high priority (it is just a couple of extra computers as back up). The reception staff were always on edge, and while the waiting staff did there jobs courteously and efficiently, there was no question of 'going the extra mile'. Smiles not forced but the were few and far between. There is no attempt to hide the fact that we are there to buy things, Almost any event that was unlikely to lead to somebody making a purchase seemed to be 'unhosted', the days events that were strongly advertised (apart from the shows) were basically spa treatments or photography purchases and while the captain's announcements were not broadcast into the rooms, the entertainments director did 'push' his events. To be fair the cinema's options were up to date films which critically acclaimed. But the biggest let down was the food. We were on freedom dining and as long as you were not too concerned about table size this seemed to work okay. The restaurant was surprisingly noisy and on a large table you could only comfortably talk to near neighbours. The food was disappointing. Some of it was the menu, soup with say paprika and croutons came without, cheese and biscuits with... came without. Sometimes it was the waiters, if you did not mention something on the menu you would not be reminded, so salad without salad dressing. But most of the time it seemed to be the ingredients, custard without milk, scones without butter, devilled kidneys without mustard. Sometimes it was just the lack of cooking time (scones again). There was something wrong on almost every plate. There are the upgrade restaurants that Carnival seem to like but we did not try them (and by the number of special offers that were being pushed perhaps no one was). Our solution was the themed buffets. Careful selection of what was on offer did not always work of course but you could avoid the more obvious disasters. Of course, it was possible to find some quite good food, the dal on Tandoor night was very good for example. (Another trick was to go for obviously bought in stuff). We did go on one excursion, this of itself was reasonably executed but one of the sites chosen was in the throes of restoration and the other had us arriving when the area we had come to visit had just about closed down, so another let down on the planning. Despite the size of the ship it did not seem all that difficult to move about and there never seemed to be long queues. No deck plans were provided but you were given a side on plan, most of the time this works okay. Reading back over this review, I appreciate that some people will feel that this is a bit nitpicking. Some people on the cruise seemed to share our views, others were having a good time. I suppose that it all depends upon what you have experienced elsewhere and what you are used to. There is no doubt with more investment in the people, both staff and passengers, the Ventura has the makings of being a very good cruising experience, but it has not made it yet. Whether that is where Carnival want to take the brand or not we will have to wait and see. Perhaps just bobbing along is where they want to be.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Really enjoyed our third Ventura cruise which was excellent for the most part, The ship was spotless, the cabin steward Michael was efficient and kept the cabin like a new pin. The ports of call were lovely especially Kotor and Dubrovnik. ... Read More
Really enjoyed our third Ventura cruise which was excellent for the most part, The ship was spotless, the cabin steward Michael was efficient and kept the cabin like a new pin. The ports of call were lovely especially Kotor and Dubrovnik. The entertainment that we saw was very good. The food was in the main very good, However, meals now come with vegetables already on the plate whether you want them or not. Compared to our other eight P&O cruises we were disappointed with the staff around the ship, with the exception of our cabin steward, very few staff had a smile. The T. V. channels were the fewest we've had on any cruise, There were in total nine of them, four P&O channels, two news channels, two sports channels and just one other lifestyle channel. On other P&O cruises the captain gave regular daily updates on progress, weather and sea conditions for the day and night ahead, on this cruise the updates were few and you never knew when they were coming. At the second muster for those joining the ship in Venice the announcement was made that the Captain would soon be addressing the new passengers about safety on board, shortly after, the voice of the captain came over the intercom welcoming everyone on board which was fine and made you feel that as an individual you were important to the captain and his crew, until about 30 seconds after he had finished, the speech started all over again and we realised it was just a recording! Like many others have said, we feel standards are slipping with P&O. Personally I think that with the gratuities being taken up front there is less of an incentive for the ships crew to be as friendly as they used to be. All this aside we had a lovely cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We have just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Ventura with some friends. Both couples have used P & O Cruises in the past and have had excellent experiences, however on this occasion we all agreed that there is something going wrong ... Read More
We have just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Ventura with some friends. Both couples have used P & O Cruises in the past and have had excellent experiences, however on this occasion we all agreed that there is something going wrong with P & O in respect of their staff recruitment, training and entertainment choices. Firstly, I would like to say that our cabin stewards were the highlight of our cruise in respect of staffing, they were excellent and interacted well, needed no prompting and were totally efficient - excellent experiences in cabins. However, the bar staff and catering staff looked dower, miserable and bored most of the time. Interaction was negligible and only if you spoke to them did you get a response that was one word or two. Staff in the entertainment teams were not of the standard we had experienced and we felt that they were better placed in a Butlins holiday camp. The Cruise Director was ineffective and totally lacking in direction towards his team and this gave us the feeling that the entertainment team were there to enjoy themselves rather that entertain us. The shows were mixed ranging from excellent to dire. Bar staff were too quick to try to take away your glass even when it was not empty and they pushed drinks every few minutes even when you had told the same waiter 'no thank you' only 3 minutes before. Only on dress nights did you know there was an officer crew on board as they were not very visual for the rest of the time. Customer services need to learn how to smile and understand that the reason you go to them with a question is that you don't know something and not to give you half an answer and leave you to work the rest out for your self. Photographers need to understand when you say no you mean no and not to be so pushy and disrespectful when engaging with people who know what the want. Our evening meals appeared rushed, there was no time between courses and the waiters kept clearing the table as each person finished an item, hence there was always a waiter hovering at the table. This appeared to be general to the whole of the dining room. The ship itself was clean and the food good, prices were fair and the cruise experiences was generally what you would expect, however on this occasion I would consider choosing another cruise company as it was obvious where P & O are making the cost savings/changes in their service, and they are not doing it very well. It was not only ourselves that noticed the changes as many times this same conversation was heard around the ship. The most uncomfortable aspect for all of us on the cruise was the amount of areas that smokers can go. When exiting the restaurants with your buffet to sit by the pool, it was unpleasant to have to walk through the smokers and when there were no tables available having to sit amongst them when eating your meal. P & O appear to be catering to the smokers far too much. Our last cruise was with Princess Cruises and I am sorry to say that they knocked spots off the Ventura in all aspects of our cruising experience. The staff must be doing what has been instructed as the above was throughout the cruise and no one person can be blamed, this appears to be a culture that is being developed. If this is the standard that is going to be allowed to develop them P & O as a premier line will lose its reputation and customers to other companies.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
I've been a fan of P&O all my life, much of it is nostalgia, my first P&O ship was either the Canton or Carthage when I was a baby en route to Singapore. Many many ships later we went off on the latest trip on board Ventura. ... Read More
I've been a fan of P&O all my life, much of it is nostalgia, my first P&O ship was either the Canton or Carthage when I was a baby en route to Singapore. Many many ships later we went off on the latest trip on board Ventura. Very similar to Azura which we did last year and equally as nice. I did feel there have been a few cut-backs and some corner cutting but as prices are now so low I can understand that. Something has to give.... Embarkation via Gatwick and Genoa was easy though I do prefer Southampton. Disembarkation was equally trouble free. Cabin was adequate with a small balcony, our steward was brilliant but not intrusive. We weren't too keen to be allocated Freedom dining but it worked really well and we were always allocated tables with cruisers who 'matched' us. A special mention here to Head Waiter in Saffron, Colin, who went out of his way to make sure our vegetarianism was catered for. We had a hic-cup on the first night and from then on he was there all the time to make sure all was well! Food was good.... no complaints on menu either in the dining room or in the buffet upstairs. We didn't go to much entertainment, I'm always happy to take to my balcony with a good book and maybe a glass of wine. I love being on a ship and just enjoying the feeling of being at sea. Personal choice but the feedback on the entertainment from dinner companions was usually good. I often read reviews on here and wonder at the expectations of passengers..... so many seem to expect the facilities of a 6* cruise for a 3* price. and complaints about selling? Don't buy! Easy..... I never found them a problem. I did succumb to a cut-price massage in the spa and it was good value for money IMO. Very interesting was the morning in the Atrium when crew from every department were there to demonstrate and explain. very educational.... My biggest complaint would be reserved for the staff on the reception desk who seemed to work on the lines of 'the answer is no, now what's the question....' One particular young lady who shall remain nameless although I did make a note for a formal complaint, was downright rude and patronising. Twice. Oh and it also bugs me that all my previous years of P&O plus multi thousands of miles don't count towards points so we don't get blue slippers! :( But apart from that.... it was a good cruise to fab destinations for a very reasonable cost. Go P&O. We'll be back......   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Having previously cruised with P&O (our last occasion August 2013 on the Azura) we booked a 7 night fly/cruise on the Ventura over Easter. The high standards which P&O usually deliver unfortunately was missing on this Ventura ... Read More
Having previously cruised with P&O (our last occasion August 2013 on the Azura) we booked a 7 night fly/cruise on the Ventura over Easter. The high standards which P&O usually deliver unfortunately was missing on this Ventura cruise - the ship lacked atmosphere, the staff seemed bored, the food was bland and the service varied from excellent to poor. The entertainments team was the worse I have ever seen during my 14 years of cruising, from being uninterested, dis-organised, to faces of boredom, a cruise director who I think must be a phantom as apart from the first night was never seen again. We booked a shore excursion to Pompeilli, which wasn't bad value, but the organisation of disembarking the ship was chaos and upon return the same chaos (long queues with an average waiting time of over 50 minutes with some guests becoming very irritablle). Also as the Ventura is in Italian seas for these 7 cruising days there is a 22% tax on all goods/gifts (the ship shops) and services (spa), apparently during the following 7 days the ship docks in Montenogro and the tax then isn't applied. A good point was the transfers to/from the airports this was excellent service although it was an early start on our return having to vacant our cabin by 7am. I hope P&O aren't lowering or letting slip their standards, as the Ventura was DISAPPOINTING!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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