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24 Southampton to Baltic Sea P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

We chose P&O from family recommendations and Ventura as she was going to the Fjords at the right time for us. We also wanted to ensure we had lots of choice aboard ship as we hadn't cruised before and wanted to give ourselves ... Read More
We chose P&O from family recommendations and Ventura as she was going to the Fjords at the right time for us. We also wanted to ensure we had lots of choice aboard ship as we hadn't cruised before and wanted to give ourselves options for dining and entertainment. Embarkation was surprisingly quick, from leaving the car with the CPR rep to walking on board took less than half an hour. We were very lucky with the weather most of the week, but were glad of being allowed lots of luggage as we had to cover all options for Norway plus formalwear. The swift embarkation plus no luggage limit scores highly against flying to a holiday in my book. We enjoyed all the ports, however found Stavanger less interesting than the others. The drizzle that day may have had something to do with this of course and we did try to fill our time, visiting two museums. We usually did our own thing, heavily researched online beforehand, but did the tour to the Stave Church in Andalsnes, where we found the local guide on the bus very personable and knowledgeable. Onboard we found 99% of the staff were friendly and approachable. Service was usually excellent in all areas of the ship. The main dining room dinners ranged from OK to good (usually the latter); we also tried the silver service cream tea which was nice, plus had a good evening in Whites, where the service was fantastic (thought they could have done more with the decor). I can't comment on the refit as the ship is new to me, but my one gripe would be the public area toilets. Apart from the ridiculousness of having only two cubicles in the ladies loos nearest the enourmous theatre, many of the loo seats were stained/clearly old and really let the standard down. They were clean, no problems there, just didn't look great. The entertainment was great, a good mix (and of course not everything is for everyone). I enjoyed filling my time on the two seadays, though there were times when we would have appreciated a few more things aimed at the younger end of the market. I enjoyed the tribute acts more than I expected to, in fact we often gravitated to Havana in the evenings and watched the entertainment there. The video wall in Metropolis was broken for most of the week; we saw it doing Hong Kong but weren't overly impressed gven the hype around it. Enjoyed meeting other passengers, usually when it was necessary to share tables (eg at afternoon tea or sometimes when the buffet got full) and had a table for two for dinner. The first night I felt queasy eating in The Bay Tree as you can feel the vibrations underneath you, however I got used to it. Cabin (balcony) was a good size and the bed very comfy. On C Deck the balcony is twice the usual length and is partly shaded, so it's a good one to choose. All in all, I would go back. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Having previously cruised with Celebrity and RCL, we were keen to see how P&O compared, this was also our first cruise from a UK port. The only thing we would suggest as an area for really improvement is the website, RCL/Celebrity is ... Read More
Having previously cruised with Celebrity and RCL, we were keen to see how P&O compared, this was also our first cruise from a UK port. The only thing we would suggest as an area for really improvement is the website, RCL/Celebrity is far better to use, but after that P&O really impressed. In simple summary P&O is not necessarily better than the other two in an one area but it is consistently good at everything where as Celebrity and RCL both have areas in which they excel but some real short-comings in others. Compared to Cape Liberty in New Jersey Southampton is a joy. Clean, slick and very very well organised. Ventura is a modern and pleasant ship, our stateroom R705 was well appointed, simple things like a kettle and laundrette were nice touches compared to the American operators. In-room entertainment was a little bit limited but the pay to view movies were good value. We joined P&O excursions at Olden & Molde, both were well organised and enjoyable although all cruise ship excursions seem overpriced to me. Disembarkation/Embarkation was easy at every port. We tried all the restaurants on board, The White Room was OK but East was the one that impressed the most. Our first in the main dining room we were allocated the second sitting the service was incredibly rushed and then at the end the waiter introduced himself and the team, from then on the service in the main dining room was fine. A real strength was the evening entertainment, really good quality performances with good variety. Timings worked well to get everything fitted in each night. Overall a really enjoyable week, -must have been good we have just booked Azura to the Caribbean   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
The one and only reason we went on a cruise is that I have a phobia of flying. As hubby & I both very much want to see the world, cruising seemed a good alternative. We were sceptical - especially hubby: it was a very expensive ... Read More
The one and only reason we went on a cruise is that I have a phobia of flying. As hubby & I both very much want to see the world, cruising seemed a good alternative. We were sceptical - especially hubby: it was a very expensive 'gamble', we were concerned whether cruising life would suit us being only in our late 20's, and whether Norway was the ideal destination for a lively 4 year old. Embarkation took a little while, especially with a little one to entertain but was simple enough. Our hearts did sink a little when it seemed that our child was one of only maybe three children amongst thousands waiting to embark. We also felt we'd brought the passenger age down by about 30 years :) in reality, however, once on the boat there were other younger passengers - mainly holidaying with family or a few young couples. For the most part, it really wasn't an issue - our fellow passengers were mainly very friendly and welcoming to our little one. There were the exceptions: those who rolled their eyes as soon as they saw a child (even though ours is very well behaved) or, more frequently, those who felt the need to talk incessantly in very loud voices - on lifts, dining rooms, everywhere! - about how many hundred cruises they had been on and how many cars they had at home. But these were the minority, not the majority and it was lovely getting to know familiar faces around the ship. My personal first impression was that the Ventura is not as grand inside as I'd possibly expected. Hubby and I said its like a 4* hotel when perhaps we'd expected a 5*. It was a lot more modern than I'd anticipated too but I loved the horse decorations throughout and 4 year old fell in love with the bubble columns in the lifts - a fun touch. It was all very clean and shiny. One and only service error, really - our child's luggage went 'missing' for a worrying hour or two. This was annoying as we knew the luggage label was coming off as the steward took it off us to board - she wouldn't let me refasten it and then the bag goes AWOL! The staff member left to deal with irate passengers whose luggage hadn't turned up was less than courteous - but I suppose it wasn't his fault & he'd drawn the short straw. All was well in the end, bag turned up and our hol began properly. We chose Ventura specifically because it seemed to have the most child friendly facilities. It didn't disappoint in that the Reef children's club was fantastic. I had absolutely no intention of leaving 4 year old with some random childcarers and felt we should have him with us whilst on holiday. However it quickly became obvious that these 'random childcarers' were brilliant with children and probably more qualified than our regular nursery staff. More importantly, little one loved it up there - there is a built in 'play zone' with ball pall, lots of great toys and craft activities. He quickly made it clear that he'd really rather be there than with us most of the time!! They let the 2-8 year olds fall asleep on sleeping bags watching a film if parents are at the evening show, but do remember to send them in their pyjamas or they'll be wide awake again by the time they've been carried to bed through the bright lights and noise of the ship. Activities on board weren't generally to our taste - a few slightly younger talks etc would have been good (they were on topics like reducing arthritis!!!) but, that said, we could have got involved with things like jewellery making, quizzes or dance lessons. The Headliners theatre company were very talented and I particularly enjoyed their west end musicals show though hubby did feel that, again, most of the show content was geared towards an older audience. The earliest shows started at 8.30 - it would have been nice if one night there was a 'matinee' for the children. The covered swimming pool was a big hit, and one of the main reasons we chose this ship. The entertainment team were also fantastic and very friendly - one night they valiantly kept up a dance routine despite downpour and they created a fantastic Great British Sail Away experience. Shore excursions were very expensive but we felt necessary for Norway. There really was very little to do oneself in port, except for Stavanger where there are plenty of museums and shops within easy walking distance. We went to the Petrol Museum which was an unexpected hit, especially for little boys as there are lots of gadgets, a 3d cinema, great play area and submarines they can go in. Our favourite port was probably Olden - the Briksdal Glacier excursion is a must and the place is just beautiful, with mountains surrounding the port. Worst port was Molde - an utterly pointless little shopping town like any in England. If you can pick a Norway version with a port other than Molde, we'd suggest it. Final things of note: service of the staff was excellent, our waiters in particular were brilliant in the Saffron restaraunt. We were very impressed with the food (and hubby is tough to please!) though would have liked to see some traditional Norwegian dishes on the menu. Down point for me was one rough night with gale force winds - stabilisers or not, we certainly felt it and spent an anxious night. A reassurance announcement from the captain would have been nice. Overall though, a surprisingly enjoyable holiday - we'll definitely be back Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We have just got back from our first Fjords cruise and had a great time. Having sailed on Oceana from Southampton before and finding that cruise too quiet for our liking we were concerned about booking another P&O cruise but we ... Read More
We have just got back from our first Fjords cruise and had a great time. Having sailed on Oceana from Southampton before and finding that cruise too quiet for our liking we were concerned about booking another P&O cruise but we needn't have worried. Ventura has far more going on with a large theatre and other bars with stages so there was plenty of good quality evening entertainment. The productions were of high quality and the Annie Lennox and Freddie Mercury tribute acts were amongst the best acts I've seen at sea. We had a standard balcony cabin on A deck which was of a good size with plenty of storage and it was well maintained by our steward Uday. However on the last day he did take all our own coat hangers before we had packed them and they were never seen again. I know it may not be a big deal to most (and it isn't for me really but it just seemed a bit strange) why does a British ship sailing from Britain show the American "E"and MSNBC TV channels amongst the choice of 4? Fortunately there was a range of on demand movies (a few free) if you fancied watching something in your room. We ate in the main restaurant every night and were never disappointed. The food was of very high quality and the service was very efficient if a little hurried on some occasions. We chose freedom dining which meant that we sat at a different table every night with different waiters so we did not get the opportunity to get to know them but it suited us as we could plan our nights depending on what entertainment was on around the ship. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was another matter. The quality of food was ok but the whole layout was very poorly designed. The buffet areas were too small for the number of people trying to use them with little room between stations to move around and once you got your food there was inadequate seating capacity. We invariable ending up sitting outside which was fine but if the weather had been worse this area would probably have not been usable. Due to the weather (high winds and 8 - 10m swells) the Captain made the decision not to go to Gerainger but to stop in Flam instead. Whilst this was disappointing I think it was good of him to arrange this in a limited time frame rather than take the easy option to have stayed berthed in Skjolden overnight. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Ventura and would quite happily sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We drove down the day before and stayed overnight on a cruise package at the De Vere Grand Harbour, which included bed & breakfast and 15 nights parking with port transfers by taxi, and it provided very acceptable 4 star accommodation ... Read More
We drove down the day before and stayed overnight on a cruise package at the De Vere Grand Harbour, which included bed & breakfast and 15 nights parking with port transfers by taxi, and it provided very acceptable 4 star accommodation in an accessible room. This was our first cruise on Ventura but we have sailed on a couple of similar sisters, Azura as well as Emerald Princess, so we knew our way round quite well. The main difference between Ventura and Azura is that the former has one of its main pools covered, whilst the latter has the sea screen above one of its pools. As this was an Iceland & Fjords cruise the covered pool was especially beneficial as it allowed us to feel that we were on deck when it was too cold to be out on an open deck. Other than that Ventura has the same public rooms as Azura but they are named differently and the decor has also been changed. As regards decor our favourite area was Ramblas, this is a Spanish themed speciality bar and restaurant serving Tapas as well as 3 course Spanish meals for a very reasonable surcharge, and the food is quite good as well. Havana is the nightclub style venue, here we thought the solid dividers between the tiers restricted the view of the stage area from the upper tiered seats, from memory I think that on Azura these have been changed to a see through glass type. However there are plenty of wide screen TVs set into the ceiling which give you a fairly good view of the stage area. We ate mainly in the MDR and never had a poor meal, some menus are more tempting than others, but you can always find something to enjoy. We ate once in the White Room and thoroughly enjoyed the food and the experience, despite the fairly rough seas,. I think the charge is a bit excessive,if it had been more reasonable we would probably have gone back again, particularly as the menu changes for the second week of the cruise. The buffet was generally crowded but we were normally always able to find a table even it meant sharing. We also ate one evening in the waiter service American diner, which by day is part of the Beach House buffet. This was the evening we sailed back down the fjord from Olden, you will have to queue to get a window seat when it opens at 6:30, but for any scenic daylight cruising the views are worthwhile. The MDR waiters and wine waiters were attentive but unobtrusive. The only minor criticism we had in the buffet section was that the slatted wooden tables in the covered pool area often had food debris between the slats, but I suspect this is because they are more difficult to wipe clean than the solid topped ones. Other than that the service was the usual high standard. The entertainment was typical P&O fare, the headliners were excellent as usual, and we also enjoyed the Elton John tribute and Chilli Gold, but we skipped the comedians. We also went to a couple of interesting talks on cruising and cruise ships from Anthony Cooke who has a very pleasant presentation technique, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy these talks and I will try sampling other ones in future. We had an accessible balcony cabin on Riviera deck identical in all respects to the one we had on Azura last August. The facilities and layout of these cabins are excellent, the only additional item we had requested was a shower chair, which my wife uses at the washbasin, otherwise everything was provided, plenty of grab handles in the bathroom and a drop down shower stool. The extra space these cabins provide make it easy to manoeuvre a wheelchair, this is very useful especially in rough seas when my wife finds it impossible to walk around the cabin. Our cabin steward was as usual very efficient and provided any little extras that we requested. These cabins are adjacent to the forward lifts but there was absolutely no noise from the lifts, and to be honest very little noise from passing passengers either. Perhaps one area that P&O might look to improve is in the cost of their accessible tours, I appreciate that small mini buses with only about 6 or 8 passengers will be more expensive to hire than the normal coaches, but we have a Celebrity cruise booked for September and they appear to include wheelchair passengers in their normal shore excursions and at reasonable costs, albeit only for a small number of tours, so it will be interesting to make a comparison. However P&O do provide free shuttles in ports that need them, on this trip Dublin, Reykjavik, Bergen and Zeebrugge, they also try to offer an accessible shuttle but they never give a guarantee, but on this cruise there were accessible vehicles at the 4 shuttle ports; however for wheelchair users if you are able to board a normal coach on foot, and put your chair in the luggage bay, this will be much more convenient, they normally only have one accessible vehicle, and you can wait quite some time between its trips. The other ports, Akureyri in Iceland, Alesund, Olden and Stavanger, the ship berthed almost in the town centre. These four ports were relatively easy for wheelchair users, but there were cobbled sections and some steep inclines, and not everywhere had good quality dropped pavements, but we managed with our manual wheelchair. For early June we had reasonable weather on this cruise, Iceland was very sunny and it was quite warm in Akureyri, in Norway Olden had the best weather, very sunny and almost hot by afternoon. There was also some sunshine in Stavanger and Zeebrugge, and even in Alesund and Bergen where it was cooler there was very little wind and it was dry; only in Dublin did it rain, but Ireland is not called the emerald for nothing. So take clothing to allow you to dress in layers and just hope you can remove some. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
The Trips Dublin As we have been to Dublin many a time and the weather was bad we didn't go off the ship. There was a curtsey bus that took you into Dublin town for free, not having used any of the trips I can't comment on ... Read More
The Trips Dublin As we have been to Dublin many a time and the weather was bad we didn't go off the ship. There was a curtsey bus that took you into Dublin town for free, not having used any of the trips I can't comment on what they were like. Reykjavic Here we did take a trip, organised by the ship's explorer desk, the "The Golden Circle" cost was £85 per person. We visited the geothermal plant which was very interesting, from there we went to see a massive waterfall and then on to the Geysir, which was something else. It erupted every 7 minutes or so and was some sight. Lunch was included, which I personally didn't think much off, there again, it takes some doing catering for a load of tour busses arriving all at the same time, still it was edible. From there we went to see where the earth's crust had started to separate, I can't exactly remember by how much every year. The tour guide was very informative, all in all a good trip which I can recommend. Some people from the ship had organised their own trips and I believe it was cheaper that what we had paid for. The bathing in the blue lagoon £53 pp apparently was very good I was told by another cruiser. A complimentary shuttle bus was available for those who just wanted to go into town. Akureyri We just went and had a walk into the pretty town, I can't comment on any of the trips. Alesund All the trips were fully booked so we finished up walking into town, if you find yourself doing the same go and visit the Aalesunds Museum it is very much worth the visit, we had a lovely time there, it is situated on different floors so you must be able to do steps. The curator was very informative. There are guide books in different languages which you can borrow and then replace, on every floor. It cost 5 Euro's entry. There is a little sightseeing train, that goes around the town, it takes 1 Hour and the cost is 150 Kr pp. Olden I fell in love with Olden, the prettiest town you can imagine, we were too late to book a trip everything was sold out. When we disembarked we found a hut on the quay,where you could book trips. There are a few choices. A little train that takes you around the lake. We chose to go and see the Briksdal Glacier the cost on the ship for just to get there was £56pp if you choose to go to the top with the trolly car it was £74pp. We did it on our own and paid 35 euro's to get to the site of the Glacier, and then 20 euro's, return, for the trolly car. You can pay for only to go up, and walk down; it would be half the price. The walk to the Glacier is very long and steep, and you must be pretty fit to get to the top, we didn't manage it for health reasons and had to return from half way to take the trolly car to go back to the top, once you're there, there is a platform where the cars stay and you have a short walk to the Glacier, which is a sight to behold, it is so worth it. There is a small lake and some inflatable boats that can take you nearer to the bottom of the Glacier at a cost. Talking to other people I found out that there is a local bus at about 9.45 am that can take you to Briksdal at a cost of 5 Euro's and it picks you at 1.30pm. Trolly Car times starts from 08.15 from April till November. Roundtrip takes 1.30 hours. Phone number..4757876805/90051244 Fax..4757876808. e-mail..www.oldedalen-skysslag.com It is worth taking the trolly especially when you're not steady on your feet. Some e-mail addresses if you want to do trips on your own. I believe prices are negotiable if there are many of you or if they can fill-up the little mini bus. www.glacierexpress.no www.oldencruise.no phone number +4791781449 post @ oldencruise.no Bergen A shuttle bus drops you off by a little lake and you can walk from there all through the town, past the fish market where you can have a bite to eat. Walking further onto the funicular, which takes you to the top, overlooking Bergen. A word of advice is, be early, the queue are very very long to get up, hundreds of people waiting .And you have to pay by credit card or krona's they don't take anything else, it is about 70kr pp. A hop on, and off, bus tickets are, adult 150kr or 20 euro or £20. www.citysightseeing-bergen.net Phone +4797781888 if you pick up a brochure first they give you 10% off an open tour bus. Stavanger We just walked through the town, looked at the old town, which was interesting. You can do your own trip to Pulpit Rock, which is a cruise and will cost you NOK 280 if you are a pensioner or NOK 360 if you're not. Child NOK250. Family ticket NOK 900. It is a mini cruise stopping at lysfjordenteret at Oanes. It leaves more or less where the ship is docked, you can get the tickets on the quay. You can also do a harbour tour for 1 Hour at a cost of NOK 190 or £20. Zeebrugge You have to take the provided shuttle bus to get of the quay, this one will take you into Blankenberge where you can take the train to Brugge if you want to, or just visit Blankenberge which is a nice seaside town, there isn't very much in Zeebrugge so it is better to go on a trip or do it yourself. If you visit Brugge go on the canal's you can see all the Flemish architecture, there is also a brewery you can visit, and then there are the Belgium Choc's go for Leonidas they are the best once at a reasonable price, and a vast choice. Ventura Having travels on the Celebrity Eclipse and the Independence of the Sea we weren't sure if we were going to like this ship. But it surprised us. Food Self-service restaurant, the layout was terrible and not easy with the amount of people eating there, we went in the mornings and sometimes at lunch. Seating wasn't always easy to get. The choice wasn't really that good and the quality, well it's just food, the drink station was crammed and not always could you find glasses and had to wait for them to bring some. Restaurants. The food was ok in the dining room, plenty of choice for everyone, veggie's included , the service at our table was excellent couldn't complain, although it was said to us that the service and the food had gone down on this particular ship, and that was said by a man who'd cruised 56 times. Speciality restaurant. We went to the Marco Pierre White Room, and where disappointed we had more or less the same food at evening time, nothing very special and definitely not worth the £25pp. Due to that we gave the east Restaurant a miss, the East displayed food outside the restaurant every evening and to be honest it didn't look that nice, but still that was OUR opinion, others might disagree. The Ramblas served ( Starters) any 3 tapas for £2.50 or 3 courses for only £5. They were very good and I can recommend them. Bingo Value pack at £15..6 cards for each of the 5 games Bonus pack £10 3 cards for each of the 5 games Basic pack £5 for each of the 5 games. Entertainment Theatre. The Headliners where very good and worth seeing. Although sometimes you had to get there early to get a seat. The Ventura staff were helpful and moved people to occupy every seat. The once that stood out for me in entertainment where the following. Steve Tandy brilliant comedy went to see him twice and when he did the tribute to Jonny Cash. John Ellis as Elton John was very good Timothy Abel & Matthew Glossop where excellent with their classical music and received a standing ovation on the last night. Sid Bowfin, was an alternative comedian with a different approach but he was very good. Ian Kirton, now there is a voice, this man should be on the London Stage, we thoroughly loved his show. Drinks prices were very reasonable, they changed the liquor allowance when buying on board, now when you buy your bottle of scotch or other, they won't give it to you for your cabin consumption until a week later. So be aware of this. Will I go again on the Ventura...Yes..Although my opinion to start with wasn't that good but the ship grew on me, I must admit the entertainment did it for me, so much choice and different places to see them in, was something that we hadn't experienced on the previous cruises that we have been on. Also make sure you book your trips beforehand, as we found out everything worthwhile was fully booked. Comparison, if I could have the food from the Celebrity Eclipse and the entertainment of the Ventura and the prices of the drinks of the Ventura, the ship would be perfect, that is in my opinion. If any of you have anything to ask please do I'll be happy to help if I can. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We usually cruise with Thomson but being a little fed up with hanging around in airports we decided to take a cruise from Southampton. We arranged parking in the port car-park, first mistake as we were in a queue for sometime waiting our ... Read More
We usually cruise with Thomson but being a little fed up with hanging around in airports we decided to take a cruise from Southampton. We arranged parking in the port car-park, first mistake as we were in a queue for sometime waiting our turn to unload our suitcases. The departure lounge was absolutely full standing room only and as i had failed to book as a disabled passenger (second mistake) it seemed we were in for a very uncomfortable time. Luckily i was identified as a person needing assistance and was whisked through onto the ship. The cabin C308 deck 10 was not the largest we have had but was entirely suitable for our needs plenty of hanging space more than adequate drawers. The safe was free to use (charge on Thomson) and the balcony was wider than the balconies on any of the other decks with a shaded area or a full sun area. I didn't think we would have much use for the balcony as we were going to Iceland and Norway. How wrong I was the weather was mainly hot and the balcony was well used. The shower was OK pretty much standard for a ship. What we did like was the in cabin tea and coffee making facilities that are not present on Thomson's ships, also we could have breakfast in our cabin at no extra cost. The one drawback was our cabin was opposite a service doorway which could be noisy early in the morning. Luckily we had booked freedom dining and i would not have been happy with having a set dining time i had to keep to as this could seriously affect our ability to watch the evening entertainment. We barely used the buffets because they were very busy and seating was limited. Sometimes we had to wait for a table in the restaurant used for Freedom Dining but the quality of the food compensated for a little inconvenience. Not being ones to dress up a lot we were thinking that maybe there would be to much formality, how wrong we were some people made an effort to dress smart casual but others looked like they'd had nothing but Shorts and Tee Shirts in their wardrobe. The entertainment was not always to our liking and some of the comedians were not very funny in fact were diabolical but generally we enjoyed most of what was on offer and there was always something else to do if a particular show was not your cup of tea. There was a good variety of afternoon films on show in the theatre on the sea days. The excursions were as overpriced as usual and not having found them always good value for money in the past we are now very selective on the ones we take preferring to make our own way around the at our own pace, using the shuttle buses or taxis where needed. All in all we enjoyed the cruise immensely and will definitely cruise again on the Ventura Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
just got back from the Norwegian Fjiord cruise. This was my second cruise in the company of my two sisters one of whom is severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The cabin was a balcony suite with disabled facilities which were ... Read More
just got back from the Norwegian Fjiord cruise. This was my second cruise in the company of my two sisters one of whom is severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The cabin was a balcony suite with disabled facilities which were ideal for our needs. The Butler Dheeraj and our cabin steward Surrendra were fantastic and could not do enough to meet our needs. Surrendra especially went over and above his duties to ensure our comfort. All the waiting staff whether in the waterside,other restaurants, bars etc were friendly and helpful, I cannot understand those who complain that they are surly and unfriendly, perhaps they respond to being treated as equals and not as servants, as we found them all to be friendly if addressed in the proper manner. The food was as usual superb, in all the dining experiences. The fjiords were picturesque but mostly the waterfalls were still frozen so we did not quite see the at their best.Also it was very cold when off the ship. I have always wanted to see the fjiords from my schooldays, now i have but i must say i prefer the sun. The entertainment was very good. The Headliners put on a great show.The comediens were good, The Freddie Mercury tribute was good as well as hilarious and guest speaker Sue Holderness from "Only Fools and Horses" was excellent Only one complaint,our luggage should have been in the priority disembarkation area, it was'nt and it took 30 minutes to find it in a vast hall full of suitcases, not easy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
AS SOON AS WE ARRIVED AT SOUTHAMPTON DOCKS OUR FAMILY HOLIDAY BEGAN. AS SOON AS I PULLED INTO THE DOCKS AT SOUTHAMPTON, A VERY FRIENDLY GENTLEMAN GREETED US, HE REQUESTED WE OFF LOAD ALL OUT BAGGAGE. ALL OUR CASES WERE TAKEN FROM US ... Read More
AS SOON AS WE ARRIVED AT SOUTHAMPTON DOCKS OUR FAMILY HOLIDAY BEGAN. AS SOON AS I PULLED INTO THE DOCKS AT SOUTHAMPTON, A VERY FRIENDLY GENTLEMAN GREETED US, HE REQUESTED WE OFF LOAD ALL OUT BAGGAGE. ALL OUR CASES WERE TAKEN FROM US STRAIGHT AWAY, HE THEN ASKED FOR MY CAR KEYS AND HE DROVE MY CAR TO THE OVERSTAY CAR PARK. We walked into the arrival lounge, sat there for 30 minutes then we were being called to go on the ship! So much better than an airport when you have two children aged 4 and 11. This cruise ship is amazing for families with young children. My husband and I have two daughters aged 4 and 11. The childrens clubs are amazing. Both our children couldn't wait to go every day. Young children up to the age of 8 have their own indoor soft play area in the theme of Noddy, Noddy is on the ship aswell and they had a noddy welcome party and he joined the children to watch Noddy movies and eat ice cream. Our older daughter enjoyed pool parties everyday with her club and enjoyed lots of games and competitions whilst on board Both our children made lots of friends whilst on holiday, the staff were amazing with both our daughters. In the afternoon there was noddy tea time during 5-6.30pm in the waterside restaurant and all the food was children food. Both our girls looked forward to going to dinner every evening. My husband and I both relaxed on this holiday, seeing our children having so much fun made us both very happy. You can stay with the younger children in the clubs but by the end of the holiday our 4 year old didn't worry if we were there or not because she was having so much fun and made lots of friends! All the bars on the ship would give me milk in the evening for our youngest daughter without any charge. This ship made us feel so welcome with our young children. The interior of this ship is beautiful, there are lots of bars, restaurant and entertainment to keep you busy. We visited the Norweigan Fjords during our cruise and even thought the weather was a little cold the places that we visited were so beautiful. Would definately recommend this ship to families. Thank you P&O Cruises for making our holiday so amazing, your staff were excellent and the ship is brilliant. Can't wait to cruise on this ship again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Just returned from a Norwegian Fjords cruise for our anniversary. We have been told on numerous occasions to try P & O cruises, so that it what we decided to do on Ventura for 7 days, with an excellent offer of £499 for a weeks ... Read More
Just returned from a Norwegian Fjords cruise for our anniversary. We have been told on numerous occasions to try P & O cruises, so that it what we decided to do on Ventura for 7 days, with an excellent offer of £499 for a weeks cruise. We had never been in and inside cabin before and although apprehensive it was fine. Very small when you are used to Balconies but still livable. We noticed that we could not have bath robes because of the grade of cabin we were in and we didn't get any animal sculptures ( but that was okay by us). We did however have an excellent cabin steward Dipu who went out of his way to do anything for us and kept the cabin immaculate. Embarkation was good and we used P & O valet parking which although we had to wait for 20 mins was efficient. We didn't use shore excursions and were able to get off freely and explore ourselves. We did have very heavy rain in Stravanger and because of this people returned to the ship sooner, getting back on board was a joke and we got soaked in a 40 minute queue not impressed. The Headliner shows were very good but we found that there was just not enough time to see a lot of what was offered in the evening and it all seemed to be very good. We opted for fixed dining on a table of 8 on 8.30pm dining. This was our first experience of this and we were lucky and had a full table, some were only half full. We have eaten better food but it was okay, I think we expected better. The lack of Steak, Fish or a Pasta meal as an alternative to the daily recommendations was not to our liking but we didn't go hungry. Cheese boards are a joke so poor!!!!!!!!!!!! We had booked a celebration pack costing £60 this was well worth doing, apart from Champagne and chocolates on arrival we had the most incredible Champagne Breakfast delivered to our cabin and were able to have a photograph taken on our anniversary included in the package. We chose to self disembark and this was brilliant, easy and we were off the ship by 7.40am. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
From start to finish this cruise was amazing. I will break it down into different areas for easy reading: Embarkation- Faster than any airport you will check into. Arrived and boarded the ship all in 15 minutes! Our luggage was even ... Read More
From start to finish this cruise was amazing. I will break it down into different areas for easy reading: Embarkation- Faster than any airport you will check into. Arrived and boarded the ship all in 15 minutes! Our luggage was even taken to the room for us. Very organised, P & O staff readily available to help. Cabin- Basic but had everything needed. Impressed with it considering it was an inside cabin, a good size! The room attendant came in to see to tidy the room twice each day. once to have a general tidy up and once to prepare the bed for you to sleep in it! Also we were each given a chocolate mint was given each night- a nice touch! Dining- It was possible to choose between two dining slots, one which was at 6.30 and one at 8.30pm. On entering the restaurant we went to our allotted table. The waiter came over straight away, I think it was something like 1 waiter per three tables, so good service. The waiters would do anything they could to help you. The choice of food was great. The food tasted fantastic, all cooked to perfection. It was possible to mix and match if there were certain things that you didn't like. We chose to sit on our own, but we got chatting to the people next to us and have even kept in touch with them! Entertainment- The entertainment was fantastic, great things to choose from, the Headliners theatre company being the highlight, there were other great acts too. The only problem really was if you were going to something that was really popular you had to be there half an hour before to guarantee a seat, some performance times being more popular than others. On one of the days at sea the entertainment wasn't fantastic, but there are always plenty of things to do. Fitness and recreation- There were some sport tournaments on, we took part in a couple of them. There was adults football and table tennis which were good fun. There were plenty of pools, however the children were good at invading them! The best one to go to was the spa one where no kids were allowed. Service- Wherever you went on the ship the staff were great, there were always waiters around to ask if you wanted a drink. Shore excursions- The excursions on offer were great, not cheap, but it was Norway! The only sad thing was that most people had booked their excursions online in advance. We felt sorry for the older people who were trying to book trips as nearly all the spaces were gone. Some people were on a waiting list right from the start. We booked one of ours on the Internet before travelling and the second one we booked on the ship, we did get on a waiting list to start with though as there were no spaces, but we did get on it in the end. Value for money- It was good value for money. The drinks package was a bit disappointing, £30 for 20 fizzy drinks. We only bought one as I don't drink fizzy drinks. There was always free water and tea and coffee in the one buffet bar. It was good to be able to keep track of on board spending on the TV in our room, stopped us getting too carried away! Overall- It being our first cruise we didn't know what to expect. We were totally amazed and this was probably our best holiday yet, and we have been to a few countries now! We would definitely recommend the Ventura, what a truly amazing ship. Disembarking- A bit annoying having to sit round with your bags, we were given a disembarkation card and we had to wait for it to be called. All the luggage was laid out according to what deck you were on which was very convenient, no looking out for your luggage like at airports! Again a very fast disembarkation once the card was called. In summary we look forward to doing another cruise! We would be happy to travel on Ventura again anytime! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
To avoid any anxious feelings of being stuck on the M25, we decided to stay at the De Vere Hotel in Southampton the night before our cruise. We headed to the port about 3.00 to board the ship, we are first time cruisers so didn't ... Read More
To avoid any anxious feelings of being stuck on the M25, we decided to stay at the De Vere Hotel in Southampton the night before our cruise. We headed to the port about 3.00 to board the ship, we are first time cruisers so didn't really know what to expect. As we arrived at the port the staff directed us to the car park, where we waited no more than fifteen minutes. We unloaded our luggage while one member of staff checked our car details and another member loaded our luggage onto the trolley. We handed our car keys over and one member of staff drove our car away while the other person wheeled our luggage away. We were directed into the arrivals lounge where we waited an hour before being checked through security and then on to the ship. Perfect, this certainly beats the stress of flying, so far so good. Our cabin was the perfect size for our family of four, and our cabin steward couldn't do enough for us. He kept our cabin immaculately clean and was always close by if we needed him for anything. We had a nice balcony with two reclining chairs a foot stall and a small table. We chose club dining and the Saffron Restaurant was five star dining, we had a wonderful table next to a large window, where we could see the sun setting while we were enjoying fine dining at its best. The entertainment in the evening was very good, lots of choice for every taste, Steve Tandy the comedian is extremely funny. The ports of call were all very nice places and the sail-away parties were lots of fun. We are extremely fussy holiday makers, my husband often calling me a holiday snob, and I can confirm that this holiday was first class, I couldn't fault not one single thing. I can't wait to cruise again on the Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first cruise with P & O. I wasn't impressed. Firstly, We booked the cruise to visit the port of Flam which was cancelled only 3 weeks pre cruise so I wasn't at all happy. That was the whole reason why we booked ... Read More
This was our first cruise with P & O. I wasn't impressed. Firstly, We booked the cruise to visit the port of Flam which was cancelled only 3 weeks pre cruise so I wasn't at all happy. That was the whole reason why we booked so we could go on the railway. P&O informed me that there were too many ships in that port that day so they had to arrange an alternative. On walking on board we barely had one foot in the atrium and we were bombarded with staff trying to sell the spa and various other goods. i thought give us a chance to get settled. I was expecting the ship to have more of a wow factor - after cruising with RCI this was a disappointment. RCI Navigator was so much more opulent and being that was our first cruise we were amazed at the decor and the layout of the ship, not only that, the staff were HAPPY and friendly and we felt they made the effort to make our holiday enjoyable. I suppose different cruise companies do different things but I missed the Mahdi Grat and food festival themes nights that navigator put on - there was nothing like that on Ventura - nothing on our last night. We did get a souvenir from the waiters - a folder of the weeks menus and we also received a cruise log which I thought was lovely, but it would have been nice to have something of a farewell show - navigators was brilliant. I personally thought that Ventura was like an enormous ferry, it was lack lustre,sedate and had no atmosphere. I didn't like the layout of the ship either but that maybe just a personal view. Although the staff were pleasant, they wasn't very happy and warming, I found this quite off putting as they were so happy on the Navigator. The entertainment wasn't that great except for Clem Curtis from the Foundations, he was excellent and really got the passengers up on their feet and enjoying themselves, as for the the tribute Elton john and lulu I can only hope that the real stars don't ever get to see them!!! I was looking forward to the 60/70's disco until We were ordered by the host to jump up and down in the air when we heard a particular record and the do kangaroo impressions on the dance floor when we heard Ralph Harris record!!! I'm game for a laugh but really-I was expecting a disco where the norm is to dance on the dance floor to music being played, not to jump around like a kangaroo! I was grateful I was sitting at the back at the bar. We wasn't the only passengers complaining. I also think the sail away days are a bit naff. On the plus side the food was good and the drink prices were reasonable, I liked the tea making facilities and fridge in the cabin. I was also amazed that the majority of staff were male Indian hardly any ladies - don't know if there's a reason or not for that i was just curious. The shuttle bus into Bergen was free, on RCI they charged for this service. Although, I enjoyed the cruise and the ports of call, I wouldn't cruise on Ventura again, it just wasn't what I was expecting, it didn't live up to all the hype of P&O cruises. I wonder if the other P&O ships in the fleet are any better??? my next cruise will be with RCI Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
P&O Ventura 13th May 2011 - 7 nights Embarkation Was very well organised. We arrived about 10.30 am as we stayed overnight nearby so not many people around at all. The car park people were just there and took our luggage and ... Read More
P&O Ventura 13th May 2011 - 7 nights Embarkation Was very well organised. We arrived about 10.30 am as we stayed overnight nearby so not many people around at all. The car park people were just there and took our luggage and car. (Take off your house key as they only want the car key and they also park it for you). We got given a card with a number on inside the terminal and sat inside a giant hall waiting area. Refreshments available but looked like they were charging. It was about 11.45 or just after when check-in opened and we were called according to number. We were still the 2nd to be called even though we arrived very early. Even so, we were on the ship by 12.00 and went up to the Waterside - the self service restaurant for lunch. General The ship was very nice overall. The only thing that spoilt walking around too much was the spa staff pouncing at every opportunity to sell the treatments. When one asked for about the 10th time why don't you get your hair done, I couldn't resist asking what was wrong with my hair now. Well, that stopped that particular lady from approaching me in future! Most other guests were also fed up of the overkill on the selling. Same sort of shops and sales as RC have. Be careful to avoid lots of overpriced 'tat'. Entertainment was ok but nothing special. Food and drinks There were 2 small complimentary bottles of mineral water in the fridge inside the cabin. We ordered the P&O water package from the cabin steward. 6 x 1.5litre bottles of their own brand mineral water for £9.00. Not the best taste but we had no other option. The free water in the restaurants was ok but not great. They do not have free lemonade like Royal Caribbean so I took some orange squash on in my hand luggage to make it taste better. At least they allow you to take drinks on board unlike RC. Could not find any free ice cream other than in the main dining room so not happy. The Waterside and the Beach House were all being used as 1 really. However, at night one side of The Beach House at the back was turned into a very nice totally free waiter service restaurant The chocolate cake is absolutely huge and very nice indeed you must try it! The food in general in the Waterside was ok, not great and they did not have a carvery at lunchtime much which was disappointing. The cakes were not brilliant either, except on the chocolate themed afternoon tea. Each night in the self service restaurant was a different theme but you could always find something to eat whatever your tastes. We tried the late night snacks one evening about 9pm, ok but noticed lots of little flies on some of the food so avoided. You can sanitize your hands as many times as you like, but is it any good when flies are eating the food first? The staff were not very friendly and tended to 'lurk' up the corner and not clear any plates until people left. They very rarely spoke either. The cabin steward spoke a little. We didn't eat in the main dining room as I found it too crowded. I also prefer the self service as I can see the food first! We tried the room service one lunch time. We just had baguettes which were lovely with proper crisps which we couldn't find anywhere else on board. Cabin We got in our cabins at about 1.40pm. We had an inside cabin and also a bacony on the opposite side so not far to walk to each other. We went looking for our cabin slightly earlier and 1 steward asked which cabin number we were. I think he thought he was our steward. When he realised it was not his cabin, he was quite rude and said they are not open yet. He continued to be rather annoying the rest of the cruise and seemed to deliberately block the corridor if he saw us. Deck 10 was ok. The balcony was larger than the rest but it was partially overlooked by above if you stand right on the end. However, deck 9 and below are badly overlooked! Balconies have full screens. We were lucky that nobody was smoking anywhere near us on their balcony. (General point - port side of the ship is no smoking, starboard side is smoking so be aware if it is warm enough for you to sit on deck). Lots of nice toiletries supplied. The shampoo and conditioner are ok, unlike some other ships. Also had shower gel and body lotion. The toilet rolls were ok. They had tiny bars of soap and were very reluctant to let me have another one. In fact when mine had fallen into several pieces the steward just squashed it all back together into one big lump and placed it back on the sink! When I went after him he said he had to ask his supervisor first if I could have another bar. I used my own soap for the shower so I don't think 2 tiny bars of their soap is excessive in a week! There were tea and coffee making facilities inside the cabin unlike many other cruise liners, along with 2 packs of biscuits which were replenished twice daily. About 3 different ones, all very nice. Nice big open wardrobe with plenty of space. The only thing that irritated me about the cabin was the lights on things at night. The tv omitted a red light, the light under the door I blocked out with a pillow and there was also some strange light near the middle of the bed - never did work out what it was for but found rather annoying. Lifeboat drill was interesting. You have to take the lifejacket which is in the cabin and watch the staff demonstrate how to put it on and then try it yourself. People ignored the crew when leaving and the tags were trailing on the floor for everyone to trip over. RC used to be the same but now you do not take the lifejacket, just yourself! Bergen Docks are on the left side of boat as it looks forward (sorry I get confused with Aft and Starboard). We took the free shuttle coach which takes 5-10 minutes to the town and drops you at the lake - very pretty. We then walked (follow those who know where they are going) to the Funicular Railway which took about 10 minutes and was 70 krona (approx £8 return). In hindsight we would have only paid one way and walked down as it looked a fabulous walk and lots of locals were walking up as well as down. Free loos at the top but only use if desparate - they had not been cleaned from the day before when we went - not pleasant! On route to the Railway are the fish market and general souvenir market. Lots of oldy worldy shop fronts along the harbour. There was also a Hop on, hop off bus by the lake for £30 or 225 krona. Everything is expensive in Norway. Molde This was the port we were not supposed to go to but P&O cancelled the original destination. Not quite sure how they knew a good 6 weeks in advance the snow would not have melted at the other place! Seems from reading the reviews, they are too fond of changing the itinerary. Again, boat docks on the left hand side. Beautiful snow capped mountains as you approach port. Easy to walk from the ship to the town as just around the corner. However the walk to the 'Varden' viewpoint was very steep (1,335 feet above sea level)! I would suggest as the tourist office did, to take a taxi to the viewpoint and walk back down. The Tourist info office was hard to find, it's hidden away a little bit in the town. If you walk up slightly and to the right from the ship and past the row of shops, follow it round to the right, right again and right to the end then cross to the other side! We managed to find some free loos in the town hall which were not signed. At the top of the road before you turn right to the tourist office, walk into the building on the left which looks like an office block, set back from the road (think it was some very dark building with lots of glass) they were doing some renovating work at the time but was still open. You can also walk to the Romsdal museum but it was closed until June I believe. Olden: Docks to the left side again. Olden tourist office is literally as you get off the boat. Postcards only 5 krona but over road they are nearly double the price. The tourist office also sells tickets for a small shuttle bus to the glacier for only £30 or 250 krona I think. (still £20 cheaper than P&O's excursion) at £50. There is also a Trolley train that picks up at the boat/tourist office for 150krona - not sure where exactly that went. We were going to take P&O's excursion to the Briksdal Glacier at £50 each but decided to take their Oldevatnet Lake Cruise excursion instead as it mentioned 3 glaciers (albeit the arms and tongues of the Glaciers) and was just a little bit more at £65. However, it was rubbish. We didn't see any glaciers or arms of glaciers, just waterfalls. There were not enough seats on the boat so we had to stand up for the hour trip. We were not impressed and thought it was all very unprofessional. Having written 3 letters I eventually got a refund in the form of an onboard credit on my December cruise I booked months ago so cannot cancel now. They are also reviewing the number of people permitted on the tour as a result. Tip - if you take the shuttle to the Glacier from the tourist info office instead of booking in advance with P&O you can see what the weather is doing first. It was raining all day when we went so the lake cruise was not really a good idea! Stavanger You get off the ship on the left but good views both sides of harbour. Easy to walk around. There is a walking tour excursion you can pay a lot of money for but not good if pouring with rain as it was! Also it is very easy to walk around on your own. If you walk about 10 minutes from the ship to the market square you get to the tourist office to the left hand side - there is a sign but not the easiest place to find, but look for the big green 'I' letter in the window. They have free maps and tell you what to go and see like the old town etc. The market was very quiet, probably due to the weather and only a few stalls turned up. They were selling knitted stuff and reindeer skins for around 9650 krona. The hats with the bits that cover your ears were about 120kr or £10. I got mine for £3 on a UK market! No decent fridge magnets or thimbles which I collect. We walked 5 minutes around the corner to the Petroleum Museum as it was not the weather to explore outside. 100 krona or 50 for seniors. Cafe and souvenir shop inside. Quite an interesting place - much better than I thought it would be. I think I heard someone say there is a tower you can go up in the town for some good views. I managed to get a nice picture of the cruise ship boat from other side of the harbour. Disembarkation Everyone is asked to vacate their room by 8am and sit in the restaurants or public lounges. I much prefer RC where you can now wait in your cabin. We found a nice area on deck by the pool but waited nearly 3 hours to be called to leave. We used the time to eat more breakfast cakes (not good I know) and to compare notes with other cruisers and the general feeling was very nice cruise but not as good as Alaska cruise, staff not as helpful or friendly as R C either. Overall nice cruise and beautiful scenery. However, I would recommend you do this cruise first and then the Alaska one as I couldn't help but compare this to the fabulous RC Alaska cruise which I have to say had a better wow factor. Although I am British and would love to be patriotic and say P&O are better, but I have to say the American RC ships are much better and crew are miles more friendly and helpful. I only booked this one as I used my Tesco Clubcard vouchers as part payment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I read many reviews before choosing Ventura and reading between the lines thought it would suit us as we are easy going people. Overall, we enjoyed Ventura alot, there is so much on offer there is something to please everyone.The cabin - ... Read More
I read many reviews before choosing Ventura and reading between the lines thought it would suit us as we are easy going people. Overall, we enjoyed Ventura alot, there is so much on offer there is something to please everyone.The cabin - was clean and comfortable and we were well looked after by our cabin steward. Plenty of cupboard space, no bath but shower was fine and always hot water and fresh towels. We were on C deck and the balcony was double depth, half covered and half exposed so it was perfect for us and we used it alot.Dining - Bay Tree dining room, the food and service here was excellent. We had a table for 2 but as has been said before these are close together and we ended up enjoying meeting our 'neighbours', so in a way we got the best of both worlds. Beach House - in the evening this turns in to an American Grill, which had been strongly recommended to us but this was the meal we enjoyed least, not that it was bad in anyway it just didn't measure up to the hype we'd heard.Waterside Buffet, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner here......all meals had plenty of selection, it was always fresh and good quality. Delicious puddings !! It was very popular so at times we had to search for a table and one person grab it, while the other went to get their food......but its no hardship, they were not going to run out of food !! Bearing in mind the number of meals that are served here, the staff do an outstanding job with keeping the food refreshed and the tables cleared and always with a smile.Room Service - we ordered breakfast on a couple of mornings which is just continental style. Delivered on the dot by a courteous steward.......you can't ask for more than that.We didn't try the speciality restaurants as we didn't really have time, there are so many places and themed nights to try......maybe we'd give them a go on a longer cruise.We did 2 shore excursions with P & O, both of which were great. We did 2 ports on our own. Out of them all, we got more out of the excursions than our DIY but that was to be expected I suppose. Entertainment - there is so much to keep you entertained. Its not really my cup of tea but we did take in a few shows and they weren't bad. The venues were always full so they were very popular and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. There are so many bars with different atmospheres that you can find somewhere to suit your mood almost every hour of the day !! We didn't see any louts or snobs, just friends and families having fun on holiday...... a great cross section of people made a super atmosphere so if that's what you're into then Ventura is for you.Overall, I can't think of anyone thing to criticise.......if I had to pick something the one thing that I thought was cringeworthy was the great british sailaway....as I said earlier organised entertainment isn't for me so didn't actually go to it but we could hear it on our balcony, not tasteful in my opinion but different strokes for different folks, live and let live. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We have recently returned from Norwegian Fjords Cruise 7 nights from Southampton 17th to 24th July. The embarkation was efficient and by the time we had got onto the ship we were already saying this is much better than a fly cruise (that ... Read More
We have recently returned from Norwegian Fjords Cruise 7 nights from Southampton 17th to 24th July. The embarkation was efficient and by the time we had got onto the ship we were already saying this is much better than a fly cruise (that we have previously done). We found our cabin immediately P234, spotlessly clean and our steward Nicolau was very pleasant without being overpowering, he kept us with an endless supply of sweeties, biscuits, tea coffee you name it, 3 times a day he was in the cabin changing towels etc etc... we could not have asked for any better treatment if we had booked a suite. Apart from a little niose during the night on a couple of nights this deck is highly recommended for those on a budget, only a few steps through the gallery you were in the atrium, we sat in this area in the evening with a buzzer (for the longest 10 mins) to wait for a table in Cinnamon restaurant. We opted for Freedom dining thinking that this would be less formal and the food would not be up to the standard of Club dining, how wrong we were. The food was bl**dy excellent, piping hot and quick service, the waiters were brilliant - could not fault this service at all, well worth the huge tip we gave them at the end of the cruise.... Only fault was the weather, rained all week apart from the sail up the North Sea and the return my husband and myself both got burned, we did not take sunscreen as we thought it would not be hot (how wrong were we !).. the scenery can only be described as spectacular from entering the Fjords to coming home. We have previously been on 3 cruises to the Med with Ocean Village (which we loved by the way and sorry to see go to Oz), so you can imagine our apprehension of whether we would fit in. We loved every minute and all day today we have been shopping around for the best deal to book for the Med Sept 2011. We are both young 50's and would recommend this to all ages, but do not make the same mistake as we did and didn't take with us the formal attire. We thought we did not have to partake (you don't), but we felt left out and when we decided to go and buy a tie or bow from the onboard shop, all had been snapped up quickly, it appears others had done the same. We watched all the passengers in their sparkly gowns and tuxedo's and wished it was us. The next cruise we are already prepared and know the score... For those of you who are not sure... go on, food excellent, service the same from boarding to disembarking.... I loved Ventura and cannot wait, I am sure it is 56 weeks to go and counting.... Happy cruising.. xx Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
THE VERY GOOD Buffet breakfasts and lunches were excellent with good choices and fresh food, ample seating even with a full ships complement. Inside cabins were spacious for two people and well equipped. Transfers to and from the ship at ... Read More
THE VERY GOOD Buffet breakfasts and lunches were excellent with good choices and fresh food, ample seating even with a full ships complement. Inside cabins were spacious for two people and well equipped. Transfers to and from the ship at ports of call were well organised. Drink prices onboard weren't too exorbitant. The speciality dining room EAST carrying a supplement of £15 per head for early dining is an excellent dining experience and good value for money. THE GOOD There is a good selection of bar and entertainment venues and the main theatre provides plenty of good seating. Entertainment was varied and catered for most tastes. The Bay Tree main dining room was a pleasant dining area and had an adequate if not spectacular selection of meals. The shore excursion out of Olden to Stryn valley was interesting and informative even on a drizzly, cloudy day. THE NOT VERY GOOD We had a late allocation inside cabin (D524) which was listed as an upgrade from OE to OC. Avoid this at all costs. For 2 nights we suffered noise from the location close to the ships funnel.On the next day this turned into a mechanical vibration from somewhere close by. After complaints about the noise and vibration and several visits from various P&O personnel we were moved to a Deck C forward cabin for the rest of the week, and apart from some noise from the theatre was a great improvement. The attitude of the predominantly Indian bar and lounge attendants was less than enthusiastic. The standard of food presentation and main course vegetable choices in the main dining room were poor compared to other cruises we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and ... Read More
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and O since the Worldie in 2008 since when we have been with Cunard, RCI and Celebrity Sat 5th June We left Chelmsford at 0930 and my inbuilt SmartNav certainly earned its keep on this 130 mile journey. It found delays on the M 25 where the M1 joins and took us across on the A404 to rejoin further down, then before the M3 junction and we had a trip bringing back memories down the A30 before rejoining the M3 which had a further problem in the Winchester area which meant a further deviation eventually arriving 3 ½ hours later. One of our table companions lives 10 miles nearer and it took him 4 ½ hours. Then we were stacked in lines by CPS not helped by getting a text from Iain on the Independence of the Seas saying he and Lynn were having their first drink of the day. Once in the terminal building we were directed to the assisted disabled check in which was so busy we were asked to sit and wait so opted to use the Gold Members' check in which took just a couple of minutes and so looked forward to our first ever Goldie drinks. Wrong !!! None available. We found our disabled balcony cabin which was superb as expected and ventured up to the buffet lunch where at least I could buy a proper English beer. On the way back we tried the disabled access out onto the Promenade deck but I got stuck and Rosemary was amused when the passenger helping me said "take it steady Pop" !! After lifeboat drill the Captain allowed Grand Princess and Independence sail out past us and I could just imagine Iain and Lynn enjoying their Diamond free drinks !! We were on second sitting dinner in the Saffron restaurant and had a lively table for eight but we found it strange they were all British. After the first night the waiters encouraged me to take my scooter to within a couple of feet from the table. On the way someone shouted "there's Norman on his scooter" and disappeared. We thought it might be Iain's friends who were also on the ship but turns out they were lurkers on WLC (told us their names but of course I have forgotten them). We did meet Iain's friends later in the week in La Rochelle Sunday 6th June A comfortable crossing of the Bay of Biscay and although Rosemary went to Line Dancing we didn't do much at all. I did ring housekeeping as we didn't have our bath robes. A house keeping officer soon appeared to say we were not entitled to robes as these were only for those in superior balcony cabins and above and our super cabin was not a superior grade and even our Goldie status didn't qualify for one. I explained that our friends on Oriana had them but he replied that on Oriana they only had standard cabins anyway. I asked to speak with a senior officer to explain that P and O's policy was so outdated compared with RCI, Cunard and Celebrity but all that happened was they said my complaint would be logged and sent to shore side. Come on P and O get with it !! We did like the idea of the pre dinner 7.30 pm shows and noted that P and O now serve drinks like they do on the American ships and there are aircraft style drinks tables. We can't remember having seen Mike Doyle before but he was brilliant. This was followed by the Captain's cocktail party which we were surprised was held in the atrium with no seats available although I was on my scooter. Drinks flowed freely provided you wanted gin and tonic or white wine. We did learn there were over 1100 first time cruisers on this ship. Dress code was fairly OK in the dining room but not too good in other parts of the ship. Monday 7th June La Curuna Moored very close to town we had a walk by the Marina and as the sun came out realised we had left the sun screen in the cabin so had to get some from a local chemist after which we continued across the peninsular to the beach. There was a magnificent promenade with wonderful disabled access and also a vintage tram which followed the coast but curiously no bars or restaurants so we wandered back to the ship for lunch. Our Goldie presents arrived today which were two boxes each containing three miniature bottle of spirits - a nice change from the rubbish we have had in the past. Again we went to the pre dinner show which was Martin Daniels. I first saw Paul his dad before he became famous and Martin tonight was so funny I and the lady sat in front of me had tissues out to wipe the tears of laughter from our eyes. Disabled access to the theatre was superb although there were no designated seats for carers like we found on Oriana. We started going for after dinner drinks in the Metropolis and the first night the video wall was was set in Sydney right where we were berthed on Aurora and Oriana so that brought back memories. There were other entertainment venues one of which was Tamorind but we could never get a seat in there and the Exchange pub which we both found was a depressing place and the train never was working - the barman said it was the effect of volcanic ash !! I should have said I am finding the food at dinner quite acceptable especially as I found out the a prawn cocktail is always available as a starter. I was surprised when I asked for a steak knife because of my arthritic hands to be told they do not have steak knives on this ship !! The waiters were very good though and always asked if I wanted the meat cut up. Amazing having found out that one couple (American) who were on our table on the Constellation will be with us on the first leg of our Celebrity Equinox Cruise next January one couple on our table this time are booked on the second leg of that same cruise. Tuesday 8th June Bilbao Free shuttle buses were provided (they had taken the trouble to phone me earlier to say that disabled transport might not be available but with Rosemary's help I can get into a coach and the scooter goes in the luggage compartment) but as the weather was cloudy and the bus journey time was 45 minutes we decided to just have a wander round the marina area and beach and returned to the ship for lunch before it rained. Wednesday 9th June La Rochelle I've just found a note on my iPod that there were horrendous queues for breakfast in the buffet area yesterday morning - something I've not come across on other ships. P and O again laid on free shuttle buses for the 20 minute journey into town. They were using a mixture of coaches and bendy buses and the latter had driver operated electric ramps so fine for disabled users. After a wander round we chose a tent covered outside restaurant where Rosemary had her long awaited Moules and chips and being boring like I am joined her with a mushroom omelette all of course washed down with wine. During this time it was raining but they extended the tent top to cover my scooter. Fortunately it had stopped by the time we left and just as well it had as we met Iain's friend who introduced himself and warned us of a very lengthy shuttle bus queue. My word indeed it was and it disappeared out of sight around two street corners !! Everyone of course was moaning and there were no taxis to be seen and we felt sorry for oldies having to stand whilst I was sitting on the scooter. I suppose it was just over half an hour before we boarded and on sailaway the captain apologised and said it was due to some of the French bus drivers deciding to go to lunch. Thursday 10th June Brest/Quimper We had booked the P and O tour to Quimper (a one hour journey)where the coach just drops you off for three hours and I would confirm that P and O still offer the best service to disabled passengers on tour. Stickers delivered to the cabin the night before and a big personalised reserved poster on the front seat of the coach. As Amanda and Karen had commented a few weeks ago it is a lovely place but unlike for them the weather again was not too good. However, we found a creperie and indulged. After a big savoury one we both plumped for the sweet one which is flambEed at the table and served with ice cream. Well it was Rosemary's birthday and we had decided not to pay the £25.00 per person for the White Room as the menu did not excite (MPW was on board until we got to Bilbao). On Oriana Rhodes it was only £15.00 reduced to £10.00 for your birthday. East appeared nearly empty most nights but I don't like Indian food anyway. Oh and the waiters do not sing at the table now unless you pay for it (I presume) as one or two did have the singing during the week. Friday 11th June Guernsey At last the weather started to improve and we met our friends from the dinner table on the last Worldie who live there. We only had to wait about 15 minutes to be called for the tender and they didn't hesitate to load my scooter onto the tender (Cunard please note !!). Then when we got a call from our friends who we weren't able to contact whilst waiting to say they were picking us up P and O took the scooter back to the ship for me. Saturday 12th June We had tickets for a 9.00 am departure and were called 15 minutes early. The porter loaded the car with my spare keys while I waited at the CPS kiosk and unlike the journey down we had no problems and were home in 2 ½ hours. Summary I am really trying to make any criticism constructive so let's start off with the positives. This cruise in a super disabled access cabin was only £78 per day (after our credit) P and O wine prices were cheaper than others and so were the drinks although the latter can be offset by the strength of the drinks. P and O also let you take on board drinks to have in your cabin P and O are amongst the best for looking after their disabled passengers (once you can persuade them to let you have a disabled access cabin). For official tours they are THE best. The entertainment was very good and being on second sitting we enjoyed the pre dinner shows. The CD Leon de la Croix is the best afloat. Ventura had good disabled access except for getting out onto the Prom deck Despite recent postings on cruise sites the food was good and the silver service they have retained was welcome. The price for alternative dining was high however. Having tea and coffee making in the cabin is also a welcome P and O treat (but I have read somewhere that Eclipse will offer this) Free shuttle buses As for the ship itself the main problem was getting lost !! We have a lot of experience of big ships but were still getting lost on the last day. The big problem was that you can't walk right through the ship and not all lifts go to all areas all of which was not helped by very poor signing. Finding a sign was one problem - reading it was another. The ship as I have said was packed and finding a seat in the alternative entertainment venue was almost impossible (Tamorind ?) The exchange pub didn't appeal to either of us but we both enjoyed the ambience and music in the Metropolis. The buffet area was again very crowded and not once did anyone offer any help (except Rosemary of course !) We were used to P and O charging for fruit juice at lunchtime but they also charge for ice cream and I also noticed flicking through the room service menu that a lot of items were at an extra cost. Bar service in the buffet was good however. We did enjoy the experience but found five ports in five days was hard work and we were unfortunate with the weather. I can understand lovers of Oriana and Aurora not liking this ship and I thought maybe P and O were trying to compete with RCI but Amanda on WLC suggested that they are trying to fill the void being left by Ocean Village. Maybe the next decent offer we get from P and O will be on Arcadia but we do now have three booked on Celebrity Norman Kerridge June 2010 PS I do have my video on line http://www.vimeo.com/13427851 Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
It's been about a week and a bit since we got back from our cruise, and finally am on top of the washing for me to be able to put down a proper review.Our cruise to tbe Baltics on Ventura (booked when they first opened bookings last ... Read More
It's been about a week and a bit since we got back from our cruise, and finally am on top of the washing for me to be able to put down a proper review.Our cruise to tbe Baltics on Ventura (booked when they first opened bookings last year!), was the first for me and my two sons.  The wife has been on Oriana before.Firstly, I will say that the new Ocean Terminal in Southampton, very efficient, and was impressed at how easy it was to not only get in, but how organised the embarkation was, it took about an hour from dropping the car off to being onboard.One matter that did keep recurring on the ship was the issue of the Norovirus that had been evident from a previous cruise.  Although you can see most staff were doing their best to play the seriousness of it down, the ship was in a state of red alert.  I think by the end of the cruise, the norovirus was pretty much contained, though it'll always be there.Took a while to get my bearings around the ship, found a few dead-ends sometimes, but that wasn't a problem.  The Tamarind club felt like it was a corridor most of the time which was strange, the Havana club is a nice layout at the back of the ship, and did host the Scalextric sessions during ship days.  Have to admit, I was a tad disappointed with the Scalextric, as I was anticipating a huge layout, and found one that was roughly 12' by 8', and also kept breaking down, but it was fun while it worked, especially when an octogenarian Iris, beat the pants off hardened boy-racers!!The Waterside restaurant was supposed to be self-serve, but due to the norovirus, had to be manned, which made it a manic visit in there and finding seats could be difficult.  Secret here is, don't be afraid to share a table with people, a cruise is supposed to be a sociable thing.  You wouldn't believe that a few times people just didn't want you sat at 'their' table!!  Each breakfast and evening we ate in Saffron, and our waiters were Rajesh and Santosh, two top blokes, very attentive and nothing was too much trouble.  Our wine waiter was Sid, who we found to be a great guy as well, and helpful.  The dinner menu's we found to be on the whole really nice, a good variety.  Yeah there were a few times things didn't go quite to plan, but they were sorted out quickly.Breakfast times, however were absolutely manic, and at times disjointed.  One other issue we found was that although we had asked to be put on a large table, we were put on a small table for four, which at times was a very tight squeeze.  Head Waiter was unable to move us, and even at breakfast times, we were put on the small tables, so did feel that although P&O advertise this as more of a family orientated ship, we were segregated from other people because we were a family.  But I digress.Reports from the boys about the kids clubs were that they were fantastic, and when we got onboard, found a good schedule for the whole cruise, and the boys were never bored, and at times, hardly saw them.  Think it helped on this cruise that there were only 80 children onboard.  Facilities in the kids clubs were good, and they defo liked the Cirque Ventura when it worked (weather permitting!)Disappointed that we never saw the captain, think at best I saw the Staff Captain about two or three times, but due to the norovirus, the Captain's Reception/Gala, was cancelled.  Most people were disappointed with this, which I concur with. Not expecting to become best friends with them, but to either hear or see the Captain now and then would be nice.Photographers on the ship have a difficult job in parts getting their photos right, and we found two stood out from the rest.  Lynette was defo one of them, and another chap whose name I forgot was the other, but they had a natural flair for it, and more often than not we bought some of their photos.There were four formal nights, and the rest was smart casual.  Formal nights were great, wife loves them, as she has a bit of a wardrobe for this, including her favourite blue sky dress.  Smart casual is something I take issue with.  Many a time I saw people wearing t-shirt and jeans in there.  Was not impressed with this, especially if in the case of my two boys, we were more dressed informally with ties and shirts for me and the boys, and a smart dress for the wife.  Think they need to have informal nights to maintain a decent standard.Cleanliness of the ship was patchy, with some of the cleaners either over-zealous, or slack.  Found the Arena theatre is way too small, and I think many people were disappointed to miss out on some good shows.The astronomy talks by de St. Croix (sp?) were well done, and if you do a Baltics cruise to Russia, hopefully you will get the guy we had, who knows everything about Faberge, Russian Dolls and all things Russian.We opted for an part-obstructed oceanview cabin with pullmans, but the view wasn't really obstructed, and was nice and comfortable, bigger than we anticipated.To summarise, although the cruise was a nice one, and we didn't let the few days of bad weather ruin things, just felt there was something missing.  Still can't put  my finger on it.  Will say wife and I were well rested after the holiday, which at the end of the day, says that it's worth it. I just think that the ship could have had a few better features on it, and I don't feel I got the true P&O feeling that I was expecting.Still the wife and the kids, plus mother-in-law are booked on Azura next year, so be interesting to see how it compares.  For me, the Baltics are definitely an area I would recommend you visit once or twice in your life.Would I go on P&O again?  Probably, but more than likely not on Ventura, unless I know that they've got on top of the ships issues.  There are so many other cruise companies out there with nice ships, you've got to try them all!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Our Baltic cruise was very nice. We didn't know any capitals of Northern Europe so we got an impression. The itinerary: We started in Southampton. The boarding was very easy and it didn't take many time. Every town was great - ... Read More
Our Baltic cruise was very nice. We didn't know any capitals of Northern Europe so we got an impression. The itinerary: We started in Southampton. The boarding was very easy and it didn't take many time. Every town was great - no matter whether Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Oslo or Kristiansand. Not many Baltic cruises have Norwegian ports - our cruises had!! 2 days in St. Petersburg are important to see all sights!!! The ship: The ship was very new and very clean. In comparison to Crown Princess there were some differences but not many. The crew was friendly and they did a good job. Very good: We could eat when we wanted to do that - no fixed eating times in the evening. The food was good and the ship had many restaurants, bars and eateries. There were many facilities to do something in your freetime. The stateroom: Our balcony stateroom was very beautiful. We could relax there on the big balcony. This was my cruise review. I highly would recommend this ship or the sister ship "Azura" for the Baltic cruises. I look forward to our Norway cruise (jul 17) on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I will try to be positive but it's quite difficult.  You just got the impression that P&O and the crew found this ship just a bit beyond their capabilities.  You also feel Royal Caribbean would have had no such problems. We ... Read More
I will try to be positive but it's quite difficult.  You just got the impression that P&O and the crew found this ship just a bit beyond their capabilities.  You also feel Royal Caribbean would have had no such problems. We have only cruised once before - two years ago on Navigator Of The Seas.  A great ship, well run.  But we liked the Baltic city itinerary and fancied being a bit "posher" with P&O (or so we thought). So let's start with some positives: The evening meals in the formal restaurants were great.  Food was good quality and hot.  Good choice.  This was the best part of the ship.  We also enjoyed the made to order pizzas near the pool.  The buffet restaurant seemed to be liked by many but it was poor compared to Royal Caribbean. Freedom dining:  This worked well on the whole and we'd certainly take this option again. Bar prices are reasonable - basic pub prices. The deck space is good.  Lots of sun beds in a variety of locations but also options for chairs and tables. Good variety in the entertainment locations and seminar options. A well equipped gym.  I loved the mountain bikes with the screens to race round various tracks. Contrary to other reviews we've seen, we actually liked the cruise's entertainment director - his jokes were corny but funny. There are a number of good things on Ventura but some things you shouldn't have to experience: Getting late into ports.  We lost two hours of our visit to Copenhagen due to lateness and then being docked miles out from town despite all the information saying we would be close to the Mermaid statue.  Spoilt our plans for the day as there wasn't enough time.  We were also late for the next port. Queues - everywhere.  At least this was the case during the first week.  For breakfast, lunch, dinner; to get off the ship, to get a ticket for the shuttle. Seemed to get better in the second week, but that may have been that we went later to everything and avoided the queues. Lateness of programmed events.  On several occasions we were kept waiting whilst previous events were running late.  At one point, as paying customers, we were kept waiting outside the Tamarind Club for the Salsa class whilst a band rehearsed.  That was extremely poor. A dirty ship due to lack of cleaning (see below). The worst reception staff I've ever come across.  Never helped once.  They were content to simply say, "Your steward should deal with that" and never make sure it was dealt with for you.  If you wanted a form they never had copies at reception.  Instead you even had to see your cabin steward for the memo detailing how you should tip your steward!  We logged a fault with our bathroom on the second day - and then again on the fifth - but nothing was ever done about it. Add to that that we were told on arrival on the ship that they had experienced the dreaded Novo virus from the end of the previous cruise and would need to put various measures in place.  I'm not qualified to know whether the measures they took were sensible or appropriate but they certainly impacted badly on the cruise experience.  These measures included:   ·         Making the self-service Waterside buffet restaurant into a served one.  This meant staff standing serving everything in a space not designed for them - causing congestion. Closing the Beach House restaurant - because they were using the staff at Waterside.  This didn't open for the entire cruise. Not vacuuming anywhere. So by the end of the cruise the cabins and corridors were really dirty.  In the last few days some passengers, including myself were getting bitten. Introducing bacterial hand wash - as if this was not standard practice. Cancelling the Captain's Gala.  Additionally the captain was not to be seen by anyone until into the second week.  Rumours were going round that he wasn't on board - he was that invisible.  He took the Sunday service on the second week and was never seen again. Our cabin was fine.  We only went for the basic inside cabin - we don't intend to spend our cruise in there.  The same cabin type on Navigator meant a bigger space with a sofa, but we liked having the fridge plus tea and filter coffee. We enjoyed the dance classes and the opportunity to practice in the evenings.  But the dance floor was woefully small and unable to cope with the numbers. On the whole the entertainment was fine.  The shows were good but some of the solo singers were "samey".  The ships group, Powerhouse, were excellent.   Talks were good - we particularly enjoyed hearing Derek Redmond.  Entertainment was more varied and better quality on Navigator. We did enjoy the cities visited - Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Oslo all excellent. Overall, great places to go, but there's got to be a better ship to see it from.  You never felt there was anyone that really cared what you thought or that everything was okay for you.  Another itinerary, with better weather and no stomach virus going around, maybe others will think the ship is great.  At the end of the day we went to some great places and ate lots, morning noon and night.  So can't be a bad way to spend two weeks.  Will we cruise again?  Yes - in a couple of years, probably.  On P&O?  Possibly, but they are quite far down the list now.  We'd prefer to go back to Royal Caribbean.   On Ventura?  Seems very unlikely. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I have just returned from the Baltic Splendours cruise - my first foray into this type of holiday. I travelled with my husband and both of us are in our early 50's, so fell fairly in the middle of the age range of those on board. ... Read More
I have just returned from the Baltic Splendours cruise - my first foray into this type of holiday. I travelled with my husband and both of us are in our early 50's, so fell fairly in the middle of the age range of those on board. Check In We were due to embark between 2 and 4pm and joined the queue at about 2.01. We then sat in a queue of traffic for very nearly an hour. We had chosen the on-port parking as we thought it would be easier but having seen the busses all speed past the cars we would choose an off-port parking scheme another time. However, once we had handed our car and luggage over the check-in process was very quick and efficient. We found our cabin easily and one of our cases was waiting for us. The other two turned up within the hour. The cabin struck us as more spacious than we were expecting. We liked the way there was an open hanging area as I would imagine doors would be a bit of a nuisance in a confined space. There were enough hangers for our use. There is a cupboard with 5 shelves in, which also contained the safe, two bedside tables with two drawers each and another large cupboard with one shelf in the dressing table/desk. In addition there are some small open shelves. We found the storage so adequate that we did not use the cupboard in the desk at all. There was a tray of sweets, a single rose and tea/coffee making facilities with biscuits. The tea, coffee etc were replenished every day. The bathroom was compact but with plenty of space to put everything. Two large towels, two small towels and two flannels were provided. There were also two blue towels for use by the pool. There was a lot to read in the bathroom as there were little labels on everything but I welcomed the invitation to put towels to be changed in the shower otherwise they would be left, as I think it is such a waste to change them every day. Our cabin steward looked after us royally and was always friendly and polite when we met him. I did not sleep very well the first night as there was a constant sound, very like a large fan. I thought at first it was just the climate control fan but gradually realized that our cabin was next to the funnel. If you look on the deck plan and your cabin is next to a large blank area then this is it. As the noise is a constant one I soon got used to it and after the first couple of nights slept much better than I do at home. Dining As we had booked fairly last minute we were on the Freedom Dining option. We started booking every day but as we tended to eat early soon found out that this was not necessary, although I understand there was sometimes a wait if you wanted to eat at around 8.30. We thought the food was excellent. The choice was not wide (only 3 starters, for instance) but we were never unable to find something we fancied. Having said that we are open to new experiences and tried several things that we had never even heard of before and lots that we had not experienced before. I would imagine that people who were "meat and two veg" type of diners may have struggled sometimes and fast foodies definitely would have, but then they had the choice of going to the self-service restaurant. The waiting staff were attentive and mostly very efficient. I did hear one person say that she felt they were not as attentive because you didn't have the same waiter every night and so they were not trying too hard for their tip. I felt this was a very cynical point of view and did not find it to be borne out by any of the staff we had. We were served with cheerfulness and flashes of delightful senses of humor, which were always appropriate. Sometimes we dined with others on a larger table and met some delightful and charming people. Others were quite hard work and once I very nearly got up and left when one man was not only moaning about everything and everyone but when we said we were having a very nice holiday started lecturing us on why we couldn't possibly be. For breakfast and lunch we used the Waterside and Beach House self service restaurants. It was sometimes quite difficult to find a table, especially for the first couple of days. However, most people were happy to share and it was another good way to meet new people (I twice missed things I wanted to go to because we had met such lovely people and were enjoying talking to them). It also seemed to get easier as the cruise went on, so whether meal times became more staggered or whether people were taking their food elsewhere to eat I don't know. We also used the Saffron restaurant for a waiter-served breakfast on one occasion, which was very nice but we preferred the self-service. We also ate at the White Room, which was an absolute delight. Everything was cooked to perfection and served beautifully. We tried to book again, but they were full. We did not use East (but heard good reports of it) or the Ramblas tapas bar (where we understand the choice was a little limited) Entertainment We found this to be mixed. There were six "comedy nights" in the Tamarind bar, each consisting of two comedians. Each two did a set each for two nights and then two new ones came on board, so we saw six comedians in all. Some were very funny and some died a rather horrid death in full public view. It's all down to personal taste, I suppose, but given the age of the audience "lager lout and shagging" material did not hit the mark and perhaps the booking of that particular comedian was a mistake. The Ventura Theatre Company worked their socks off. We didn't see all the shows but I think only missed one. They did 4 different shows in the course of our cruise, three times each night they were on. Sometimes the material they had to work with was better than others but they really did try their best and mostly succeeded very well. It was hard to get a seat in the theatre for the middle show but if we couldn't get there early just went and did something else first and went to the late show. The other entertainers in the theatre were generally good and Gary T Thompson was brilliant, as were the Soul Brothers. Bars They are plentiful and varied. We favored Tamarind and Metropolis, but it wasn't always easy to get a seat. Tamarind had a band that played music to dance to, Metropolis had a jazz band and a video wall showing realtime images of various cities by night. There were also: Ramblas which had a Spanish theme and was very handy for a drink after the theatre; Exchange which was supposed to be like a pub and was the only bar you could smoke in so we tended to avoid it; Red which very often had a pianist tinkling the ivories and was very laid back; Tazzine which was a coffee bar with delicious hot chocolate and Havana which was the largest and most underused. The seating in Havana was surrounded by waist high partitions, which meant that when seated you couldn't see the stage properly. It was also used for the family entertainment and as they were rather thin on the ground on our cruise, always seemed to be rather empty. The bar waiters circulated frequently and efficiently. Swimming etc There are four pools, which when weather allowed were well used. The Oasis pool is for adults only but all the others are family pools. One had a roof that could be open or closed as weather permitted. The Oasis pool was supposed to have a machine that created a current for continuous swimming but it did not work for the whole of our cruise. Pools and Jacuzzis were often roped off - presumably for cleaning and maintenance. The gym was well equipped with plenty of machines of torture. We did not use the hair and beauty facilities. The sun decks were well equipped with plenty of sunbeds and we never failed to find one when we wanted one. Excursions As this was our first cruise we booked excursions in most of the ports, but next time I probably wouldn't. In most cases there was either a shuttle bus (sometimes free) or a hop-on hop-off tour (and quite often both) that would get you to the city center or around the major sites. Having said that we did enjoy the excursions we took part in and for St Petersburg it was by far the easiest thing to do because of having to purchase an individual visa if you were not part of an organized group. The worst one was probably Tallinn, where the guide used a remote microphone and we all had headsets. Unfortunately the pitch of voice of the guide and the questionable quality of the equipment made it very difficult to hear what she was saying and I came away feeling I new nothing of the beautiful city. That one I would definitely do by myself with a guide book. The Bad Bits Sorry, but nothing is perfect and there were some things that were not done well. It did say in the book that was sent out in advance of the cruise that a photocopy of the picture page of your passport was needed if you were doing an excursion in St Petersburg. Unfortunately it did not say it anywhere near the excursion pages but in the small print at the front. Being a voracious reader I saw it and went prepared but many, many people had to queue for a long time to get photocopies on board. Big print on the St Petersburg excursion pages would have completely prevented that happening. In general the size of the public spaces was not enough for the number of people on board. For instance the dance floor in Tamarind could really only take about 50 people comfortably. This one is really petty, but worth a mention. The knives for dinner were simply not sharp enough. They must be almost new but they had no cutting edge. This sometimes gave the impression that meat was tough but once you had hacked your way through it the chewing was easy. The staff on Reception failed, on each occasion that I went there, to give anyone their full attention. I work on a reception desk so I do know a bit about it. They were always listening in to what their colleagues were doing and nearly every time the person who was supposed to be helping me would wander off and get involved with another person's query without being asked to. This meant the queue was much longer than it ever needed to be. The excursion to Tallinn was advertised as being one-and-a-half hours walking. Two evenings before they sent out a flier saying this was a misprint and it was in fact 3 hours of walking. The flier invited anyone who may have difficulty with this to visit Explorers and talk to them. Only - when you did go to Explorers it was to find a notice on the desk saying that they were closed until 7pm of the day after next making it almost impossible to speak to them before the excursion. Poor. There was not a great deal of entertainment laid on during sea days. Films were shown but usually for those not going ashore on excursion days. It would have been very nice to have put a couple of extra on for sea days as the weather was very windy and it was not always possible to be doing something outside. The Tate Modern talks were OK but the other major thing offered was digital photography and some of those had a "nominal" fee (sometimes as nominal as £20). I did go to some interesting talks on Russian art but would have appreciated more for adults to do that was not a quiz or bingo. In conclusion We had a lovely holiday and really enjoyed sampling so many different countries. We thought the food excellent, the staff hard working and the entertainment good to excellent. We also met some lovely people whose company we enjoyed. However, I feel that P&O are in danger of falling between 2 stools here. They are pushing the family side of Ventura and seem to have failed to realize that a lot of their loyal cruising customers would also want to sample her delights. Nearly all of them are saying that they will not go on her again so P&O will have to find a new customer base for her and children are at school for a lot of the year. One of the main gripes of the regulars was that the captain was not much in evidence, which was certainly true. We didn't mind but lots of people did. And therein lies the rub, really. We did meet some very pleasant sociable people but I have to say that by and large I have never met such a load of old moaners in my life and it is that which would put me off cruising as my next holiday. We got to the stage where we avoided questions like "are you having a nice time" and "is this your first cruise" because it seemed to start people off on a rant. I think the lady behind me in a queue once was a fine example. As she stood behind me she said "Another queue. It's all queuing on here. I'm fed up with it". There was one other person in front of me! No wonder the captain kept a low profile! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Just got back from the second cruise of Ventura - P & Os new - and much hyped - cruise ship. This was our ninth cruise - tried different ships and different lines and - what a shame - this was our least enjoyable. We weren't ... Read More
Just got back from the second cruise of Ventura - P & Os new - and much hyped - cruise ship. This was our ninth cruise - tried different ships and different lines and - what a shame - this was our least enjoyable. We weren't expecting miracles from the Itinerary "Iberia" - done most of it before and knew it was nothing special - we came for the ship, but they might have told us Brest (in the rain) was closed for a Bank Holiday - we were lucky and heard it from early returnees. NB all transport was free - a plus point. It's actually a little difficult to nail down the reasons for our reaction - because nothing was terrible - or even poor - but then most of it was "fair" , with a little "good" thrown in. Cabin (balcony) was a good thing - reasonable size, fair layout - as good as most and better than one or two. Service was fair without being exceptional. Freedom dining was bit half-hearted - you could turn up and wait - or pre-book - which was a limited sort of freedom. Food in the restaurants was fair to good - but never outstanding - with oddly limited choice(3 starters?)We had pre-booked the White Room - (NB it booked out for the week the first night)that was good but not outstanding compared to other speciality restaurants on other ships)WE didn't try the speciality Oriental, East, which seemed over-priced at an extra £20 or the Spanish (OK at extra £5)They messed up my pre-booking and confirmation at the White Room something rotten - took 5 trips to get it right. The buffet restaurant was over-crowded and also severely limited in choice. Entertainment during the day, except for that for children, was almost non-existent - at least for our sort of thing - talks etc. Saw very little of any entertainments staff generally. Evening entertainment was mixed but on the whole a plus. The headline act of Brian Conley was excellent, and the dance and gymnastic troupe we thought outstanding. There was a show and another act each night and each gave three shows (a first for us). Some of the comedians in the Comedy Club were awful,and a special talk by Mark Williams really very poor - was he nervous or just terrible without a script? The public rooms and the Atrium and theatre were - OK again - never something special. If you saw the advertisement for the "special Scalextric" you were expecting something special - no, it was a track set up in one of the show -rooms - a bit pathetic really. I'm sure I saw a "puff" for a 3-D cinema - must check - there were films run in one of the show rooms but no actual cinema and no 3D. TV was a bit lazy - the channel for the Cruise Director never had anything on it for the whole cruise - other channels had "interactive" choices but all the good films were an extra charge,- quite a lot for children. The pools - there were several - two outdoor. My wife likes it warm so only ever uses indoor. The indoor pool was small and usually held lots of children. The Spa one was smaller and the current machine was broken throughout - she enjoyed the steam rooms though. I know they like extensive reviews here but I find them tedious so I'll close. When I re-read this it's difficult to explain why it was (as it was) a disappointment - but most experienced cruisers had the same reaction. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was our 2nd P&O cruise, the 1st one was on Arcadia and we have cruised a number of times with Celebrity and RCI.I am 38 and my husband is 45, no kids. We chose this cruise as it was only 7 nights and would give us a chance to try ... Read More
This was our 2nd P&O cruise, the 1st one was on Arcadia and we have cruised a number of times with Celebrity and RCI.I am 38 and my husband is 45, no kids. We chose this cruise as it was only 7 nights and would give us a chance to try the much anticipated new P&O ship. Embarkation at Southampton was relatively smooth although we did arrive a little bit too early to park the car so had to wait half an hour or so until previous passengers had finished disembarking! The ship: The design of the ship doesn't 'flow' too well, mainly because of the different dining rooms, you have to walk down to the Bay Tree because the galley is in between. We did miss the grand multi level dining rooms of RCI and Celebrity; also there is no background music whole you dine which would have been nice. We also missed the lack of a walking/jogging track on the open decks, again this is due to the fact you can't walk all round the pool decks on one level. However the main pool does have a retractable roof which makes it an all weather venue. Public Rooms: We thought the choice of bars was fantastic, we especially liked the Metropolis at the top of the ship with its video wall of a different city sunset every evening with themed cocktails and drinks to match, very sophisticated! Ramblas was also a great venue and we enjoyed the tapas (£2.50 for 3). The Tamarind Club and the Red Bar are also very opulent, swish drinking venues! The atrium doesn't have an immediate WOW factor but it's a pleasant area with four huge black granite arches and comfy sitting areas. Entertainment: The entertainment was outstanding; I think they must have fit 2 weeks worth of shows into one. The production shows were all highly enjoyable especially Masquerade a Andrew Lloyd Webber extravaganza and the Saturday Night Fever show was as good as the West End. The couple who do the acrobatics and aerial performances were amazing and they featured in all the production shows. Brian Conley came onboard in Lisbon and packed the theatre with his hilarious show. There was also the Dusty Springfield tribute and the actor Mark Williams (from the Fast show and Harry Potter films) gave a talk about his career as well as live bands in various venues so really there was no chance to be bored in the evenings! The food: On the whole we enjoyed our meals. We ate in the Bay tree restaurant although there were only 4 of us on a table for 8. There should have been others but they didn't show so I felt sorry as the waiters would be down on their tips. The food was very good and well presented and we enjoyed all our meals there. We ate in the White Room and was glad I pre purchased the gift package at the price of £46.50 for dinner for 2 with a bottle of red or white Chilean wine as it worked out cheaper than paying £20 per person just for the dinner. The service in there was very good and it had a nice relaxed atmosphere. We enjoyed the food although I wasn't wowed like I am with the specialty restaurants on the Celebrity ships, but a very pleasant evening all told. We didn't dine at East, the Asian specialty restaurant purely for the fact we had such good meals in the dining room although we would have dined there if we were on a longer cruise. The buffet restaurants were an improvement on the Arcadia's limited choices, the Beach House being better to navigate than the Waterside as you couldn't walk from one side to the other without having to go all the way out and back in again! We didn't dine there very often but when we did we enjoyed the food especially the curries! Our cabin: We chose a balcony cabin on C deck which proved to be a good choice as the balconies on this deck are double depth to the other decks. It was a nice quiet area towards the aft, our cabin steward, Cezar did his job very well and we liked the tea and coffee tray which you don't get on any of the American ships! The interactive TV kept freezing up but they seemed to have rectified this by the end of the cruise .When it worked there were loads of film and TV programmes and music videos to watch on demand. You can also check your on board account. Fitness facilities: The Oasis pool was supposed to be a relaxing adults only area but there is a sports court above it so the atmosphere is somewhat spoilt by the sounds of golf balls and the like! Also the endless pool feature was not working due to it being damaged by rough weather on the previous cruise, which brings me to another comment. I have read that the ship doesn't handle rough seas too well. We were very fortunate to have very calm seas but one of the spa staff commented that a lot of people were sea sick when the ship was in rough seas because of the flat bottomed design. I have to say that we once saw the Golden Princess (same design as Ventura) pitching and rolling terribly whilst we felt very little movement on the Zenith which was a much smaller ship, so there may be some truth in that. The gym was well equipped with all the latest fitness equipment. They did run some fitness classes, like Pilates, Zumba and spinning but these required you to sign up for 3 at £21.00, I was a little disappointed that they didn't have any free step or aerobics classes although I'm sure they will have on longer cruises. The spa was extensive and expensive; they even had a qualified dentist who would whiten your teeth for £198! Some of the treatments were discounted by 20% on port days. Ports visited: After a day at sea we arrived at Vigo in Northern Spain. The main attraction from this port is Santiago de Compostela and there were many ships tours offering this, however we decided to just have a wander around the old town and sample the wonderful seafood the region is famous for. About 5 mins walk from the ship is an area where they sell plates of fresh oysters for 8 euros a dozen and my husband was in heaven! It was nice to mingle with the locals and enjoy a glass of wine or 2! The next day we arrived in Lisbon after a spectacular approach under the suspension bridge. We took the free shuttle bus into the city centre and again sampled some of the local fare and wandered around the streets. After a nice sunny calm day at sea we arrived in Bilbao, Spain. The ship docks 10km from the town centre so another free shuttle service was provided. We really liked Bilbao and could definitely spend a weekend there; the old town was wonderful with lots off trendy tapas bars and great shops. Another attraction here is the modern Guggenheim art museum which the old couple on our table thought was a complete waste of time, of course if you are into modern art I'm sure it is a must see! Our final port of call was Brest in France which was unfortunately a bit of a let down as it was raining and also a public holiday in France. The majority of shops and cafes were closed so we would have been better off staying on the ship! I'm sure when the sun shines and the shops are open its a completely different place. Disembarkation: This went very smoothly, we were off the ship by 9.30 and the car park was only a short walk with a luggage cart,(porters were available if needed). In conclusion, we enjoyed our week on the Ventura, if we could find a ship with the design of Royal Caribbean, the food and service of Celebrity and the entertainment and reasonably priced drinks of P&O that would be the perfect combination, until then we will just have to keep sailing on all of them! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
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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