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37 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

We spent New Year 2015/2016 on P&O VENTURA on a 4 day cruise going to Zeebrugge and Amsterdam. And the bad outcome was my fault 100%. Of course the question is “why did I choose P&O ?”. Two main reasons: 1) Never been on it and ... Read More
We spent New Year 2015/2016 on P&O VENTURA on a 4 day cruise going to Zeebrugge and Amsterdam. And the bad outcome was my fault 100%. Of course the question is “why did I choose P&O ?”. Two main reasons: 1) Never been on it and I just wanted to try and 2) Previous year I was on Queen Victoria on the same type of cruise and itinerary and I was thinking that being under the same corporate umbrella the experience will be more or less the same. On top of that my favourite cabin was not available on QV so I choose Ventura to spend the longest night of the year. BIG MISTAKE ! Why ? Ventura, which launched in 2008, aimed apparently to transform what many people consider P&O's somewhat stuffy ambience to one more in tune with the times. The result was a floating pub resembling more a ferry than a cruise liner. As I read, in April 2013, the ship had a multi-million pound makeover including new soft furnishings in the cabins and new carpets throughout but the result is a ferry pretending to be posh and taking you back in ’70 cheap all-inclusive sea side resorts. Embarkation/Disembarkation Even if a fast track embarkation and a dedicated check-in desk are promised for suites on our arrival in Southampton a “charming lady” sent us in a line shouting that P&O don’t do dedicated check-in….”maybe only for the Cpt”. On disembarkation we were queuing on stairs, in a very well organised chaotic way ignoring any safety rules but having an “intellectual touch” as the queue was passing twice the Art Gallery. Quite happy when we reach the shore ! Accommodation Ventura has 1,555 cabins, of which 434 are inside, 1,103 are outside and 881 have a balcony. Aiming for the best experience we choose the most expensive cabin on board (£2000/person/4 days) – ORIENTAL SUITE. There are two of this kind on Ventura, side by side on Deck 12 right at the aft of the ship, 742 square feet (with a 216 square foot balcony). And the Penthouse was the first shock on board. The living area and the bedroom were very generous from the living space point of view, with a lot of storage space and big balcony and bathroom. The deco was what made us scream; a lot of unused space, with furniture that reminds me of a ‘70s all-inclusive cheap resort in Spain with some random paintings who seems to come directly from a B&Q sales. When spending a quite afternoon in the living room I had the feeling that the deco was the result of a “choose the ugliest and the cheapest stuff you can find” competition. According to P&O website a Penthouse includes some “special touches: Butler service, daily canapes, and a Senseo coffee machine with complimentary pods included”. The reality was a little bit different: the coffee machine was replaced with a kettle and the coffee pods with some instant coffee sachets, the daily canapes were randomly selected from the yesterday buffet’s leftovers. The Butler was like a drop of fresh water in the seat: very kind, polite and excellent manners. “Fortunately” his first class service was “well balanced” by the rudest steward I ever meet who has as a main duty to moan every day, sometimes twice a day about almost everything. Even the tip (50 Euros for 4 days) wasn’t good enough for him and he told us off after we had a little cocktail party with some friends in our room. Looking again at P&O website I can see that is mentioned for Penthouse “a flat screen TV, MP3 compatible music player, an iron and ironing board and trouser press plus White Company amenities”. And again … 25% correct! The TV hand an excellent free movies selection but the system didn’t work most of the time and the “play&pause” option was a non-sense. The music system was indeed Bose (wow, wow, wow!!!!!) but didn’t work (still pretty as a piece of furniture) and the iron was probably recuperated from Titanic after staying on the bottom of the Ocean for couple of decades. Initially I was very happy with the amenities as the 4 bottles (shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion) of White Company were a bonus for the cabin. The surprise was that after 2 days when we requested an replacement we were told by the “nice” steward that we are not entitled to get new ones – “only one set per cabin per cruise”. I was checking the P&O website again and didn’t find any information about 2 mandatory showers/cabin/cruise … maybe I missed the page! Dinning P&O’s marketing blurb claims there are 10 restaurants. There aren’t. There are five genuine restaurants (Bay Tree, Cinnamon, Saffron, The White Room, and East); the rest are more casual eateries. Having a penthouse we were entitled to have our dinner in Cinnamon (Deck 5, midships) on a freestyle basis. No difference in the menu between this restaurant and the main one - Bay Tree and to be honest I don’t believe that Marco Pierre White, the creator of the menu, apparently, will be happy with the “corner pub” style of food or “whatever, I aint bovvered” rushed service style. I think for those who will be brave enough to try P&O in the future and eat in the main restaurants the safest option is a salad and a “eat quick and run” dinner style. I manage to take a photo of the “delicious” petit fours at the end but unfortunately I missed the “alien” lamb served that night. For a company that sells its cruises on The Fine Dining experience. Silver Service has gone, but they won't tell you. Wine waiters have an impossible work load, not leaving their previous duty until they are already required for Dinner Service and then too many tables. It's obvious then that most tables are not even going to get their wine order taken until after they have started eating and most will not get ... their wine until they have started main course. This is far from Fine Dining and nothing like the claims made in the brochure about attention to detail to the whole food and beverage experience. In the Cinnamon the portions were a bit mean - one floret of cauliflower and broccoli as vegetables on one occasion (no opportunity to reach '5-a-day!). We had dinner twice here and we decided to try our luck in the speciality restaurants. And there was a different story. Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to be awarded the coveted Michelin star, brought his highly sought-after talent and years of experience to Sindhu, a fine dining restaurant where you can experience modern Indian cuisine with a British twist. Fabulous service, elegant deco and amazing food mad worth it the fee that you pay for dinner there. Dinner menus are changed twice a cruise and are drawn from dishes in Kochhar's Benares Restaurant in London. For starters expect shammi kebab (spiced lamb cakes), jai tarang (pan-fried hand-dived scallops) and gosht ke dhuandhar soole (marinated smoked beef skewers). For mains we had Atul's signature plate of lamb rogan josh, chicken murgh and cod jai pari which was sublime .And Sindhu was actually the best dinner we had on board. For New Year Dinner we opted for The Epicurean, positioned right at the back of the ship high up on Deck 17. The former White Room now is an elegant space, with plush carpets and dark furnishings; the menu for kind of imaginative, creative cuisine - molecular gastronomy type - which has style as well as content. The menu presents as traditional but the dishes are re-interpreted for today's modern palates. The New Year dinner, which has a double price than a normal one, included different types of wine with each course and lots of other fun touches: Bloody Mary lollipops to start with a dash of Worcestershire sauce in the centre; salt and pepper oyster and jumbo prawn tempura that comes with an artist's 'paint tube' of sweet pimento sauce; a sorbet designed as a tube of lipstick or a 'poached egg' with a 'yolk' of mango and a 'white' of coconut milk. Again a great decision to spend the night there. One of the few drops of style and class on Ventura. Entertainment I always believe that cruise entertainment attempt to be generally of high quality but this is clearly where P&O cut costs. Very little entertainment during the day and the quality and choice in the evening was not much better. P&O doesn't go in for the huge West End-style productions the big US ships have popularised. Instead, expect British comedy; revue-type shows where the emphasis is on the singing talents of the performer rather than what's going on behind her; and magicians, ventriloquists and tribute acts. On two evenings the entertainment was a film, yes that's correct, a film. On another day a young artist called Karl Lewis was an Olly Murs (!!!) tribute who later in the week returned as himself. He bore no comparison to either. The band called “The Flyrights” were more interested in “chatting up the chicks and having some booze” than performing on stage. Havana, the main nightclub and entertainment venue, where movies are sometimes shown, is an activities room by day and a sultry Cuban-inspired club by night, but sight lines are extremely poor from many seats. Lucky the band “Serious Souls” performed time to time there making the venue more attractive. A video wall in the Cosmopolitan club lounge screens real-time footage of the world’s seven most famous city skylines – Sydney, Paris, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas, Hong Kong and London but in the evening reminds me a pub in Crawley Friday night. P&O claims the 785-seat Arena Theatre, at the front of the ship and spanning two decks, is the largest show lounge aboard a UK-based cruise ship but in fact the show lounge aboard Queen Mary 2 is larger, with 1,094 seats, as is the Show lounge aboard Independence of the Seas. But that was the place were we have a surprise. “Destination Dance” was the only real entertainment during our 4 days on Ventura. Excellent choreography and performance, amazing lighting and costume, fantastic choice of music and vocals made this show even better than the same production seen couple days later on Queen Victoria. But in general to set a comparison the entertainment was at a level that would expect from a local town talent show. Ventura Fellow Passengers That’s a very delicate point because, based only on what I experienced on board Ventura between 29th december to 2nd of January, I think P&O build its business model around the crowd on board. Food, entertainment, service style (a lot of “All right mate ?!” and “Cheers mate !” in the staff vocabulary) are created for fans of “let’s get pissed in the pub” kind of fun. A typical short cruise will have one formal night and the rest will be 'evening casual', which is defined as open necked shirt and 'tailored trousers' or smart jeans for men; dress or casual separates for women. Forget the rules don’t expect something like that on board. Ventura during this New Year Celebration Cruise was an invasion of bad hair extensions, massive fake eyelashes, cocktail dresses two size smaller when the dress code was formal and of course jackets, ties and bow ties removed and abandoned on chairs, sofas or necks after 5 minutes of wearing. Class or style can hardly find a place on corridors or decks full of ladies collapsed on the floor and crying for lost love around 1.00AM, having in one hand a glass with Echo Falls and in the other the shoes. Was like they were filming a new episode of Benidorm on board! By the way Ventura is the first cruise ship where I saw in the buffet an “Enomatic wine dispenser system” … and that’s says all! Of course reading P&O Facebook page and other sites I realised that P&O and Ventura in particular have a big army of fans. From this point a view P&O scored big time as they created a product for a certain type of market. However if you look for style, class, service standards, elegance and enchanted experience for sure you have to look somewhere else. Is nobody to blame….P&O do the right thing for the right market. Was me who booked the cruise! But at the end of the day our journey was part of a learning curve. Fortunately for us after 4 days on board P&O Ventura we board Cunard Queen Victoria for a 7 days cruise. And, like in the L’Oréal advert, that will smooth the wrinkles of Ventura’s experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
As avid cruisers, this was our first cruise in the winter for New Year and it ended up a choice between Cunards Queen Victoria and POs Ventura, both offering similar itineraries from Southampton to Amsterdam for New Year and as we've ... Read More
As avid cruisers, this was our first cruise in the winter for New Year and it ended up a choice between Cunards Queen Victoria and POs Ventura, both offering similar itineraries from Southampton to Amsterdam for New Year and as we've sailed with PO before, we decided to trust the brand we know, big mistake. "Discover the best of Bruges and celebrate the New Year in Amsterdam" is what the brochure said......... What it failed to add is that you're highly unlikely to get there in the winter unless the weather is perfect and the seas are calm, why..... the Ventura only has a 5 metre tolerance to maneuver up the narrow canals to Amsterdam and does not have the same type of thrusters as the Queen Victoria (who made it), least that's what we were told by the captain as the we approached Amsterdam in the early hours of New Years eve, then turned around! This was a cruise with an advertised itinerary of Southampton, Bruges, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Southampton, which turned out to be Bruges with 3 days at sea! As a consequence we spent 2 days over the New Year drifting in the North Sea on an over crowded ship with very little entertainment or things to do. To cap it all off, the final evening after dinner we thought we'd try our luck in the casino only to find signs on all the tables and machines saying it was closed, presumably because we'd came home early to Southampton and we were no longer in international waters! Knowing what we know now, we would never have booked the Ventura for this cruise and why PO would plan this ship and itinerary is a mystery. Apparently this same New Year cruise was on the smaller Oceana last year, maybe they got greedy and took a risk on the bigger ship, who knows. Overall, apart from Bruges which is a beautiful city any time of the year, this cruise was a disaster and we would certainly not recommend it to fellow passengers. PO had no 'plan B' despite the obvious indications that we would not make Amsterdam, they offered a lukewarm apology at best from the captain and no compensation whatsoever, not even a free drink, despite what I would consider a major change on the itinerary advertised. We will certainly not be returning to any PO cruise ships in the future. Embarkation / Disembarkation An excellent start to the holiday, early arrival, small queues and on board within 45 minutes so no complaints there. Just as swift a departure, called at 9.15am and in the car by 10.00am. Accommodation We had a balcony cabin on R deck (14), the cabins are a decent size and well laid out with plenty of storage although they are starting to look rather tired and dated. This deck is just under the main pool deck and food hall and we had read reviews about noise from sunbeds, but we thought as it was winter this would be ok, we were wrong, the noise from dragging chairs and tables was constant from around 7am until late in the evening. Dining My previous experiences with PO dining has always been very positive however this was by far the worst dining we'd experienced on any cruise ship in the main dining room. We were on freedom dining and allocated to the Saffron restaurant, overall the experience was slow with poor service, bland food and really small portions, like Gammon, egg, few peas 4 chips! Although this was freedom dining, New Years was changed to a set dining time and this should have been the highlight of the cruise. Wrong again, the whole evening spoilt by the fact that we sat at 8.45pm, asked 4 times for a waiter to serve us drinks which we eventually received when we were being served our dessert around an hour later. I seen some people walking out of the restaurant to go and collect drinks themselves from the red bar nearby, not what I would call a fine dining experience! Entertainment The usual combination of live bands and tribute acts, overall standard was average. Other than a few movies there was very little on offer during the day, however this is probably because we not supposed to be on the ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We first cruised on Ventura in 2011 and had such a pleasant experience. This time we decided to go on a family cruise for half term in October 2015. We booked 3 deluxe rooms and although it was expensive at around 7,000 pounds for the ... Read More
We first cruised on Ventura in 2011 and had such a pleasant experience. This time we decided to go on a family cruise for half term in October 2015. We booked 3 deluxe rooms and although it was expensive at around 7,000 pounds for the accommodation and meals, we thought it would be worth it. What a mistake! Starting with the extremely rude check-in lady before we even boarded, the whole weeks experience was very poor. The room although good for size and with a very nice comfortable bed, was very tired. We had a cracked and broken toilet seat in the bathroom. The champagne and chocolates on arrival were of dubious origin (cheap and nasty) the food in the self service restaurant was worse than a UK service station. The "fine dining" restaurant was beautifully set up with very good service but again the food although not quite as bad as the self service was not good. The room service was worse that both the alternatives with stale sandwiches and powdered soup with the powder still stuck to the bottom of the bowl! The only decent food we ate was on land at our various stops. Even the canapes (part of the deluxe room service) were stale mini pastry cases, 5 or 6 of them all filled with the same cream cheese and served on a plate, cling filmed, and thrown into your room on an evening of their choice. When we saw them all we could do was laugh! I'm afraid this was extreme cost cutting and we wouldn't dream of cruising with P&O again. Just to add insult to injury, we filled out an on board form as well as an online form as well as speaking to 3 customer service representatives asking to speak to someone in authority and instead they offered us a bottle of champagne on our next cruise when I thanked them but refused their offer, they then upped it to £100. When I again thanked them for their offer but said no thank you I would really like to speak to someone in authority instead. I was then told there was nothing else they could do and I was then advised to go to ABTA and given the phone number! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I chose this 2 night cruise because I wanted to try a different cruise line other than my usual NCL. Big mistake! Whilst the ship was large it was so badly designed it was very difficult to get around. There are 4 pools on board, oasis at ... Read More
I chose this 2 night cruise because I wanted to try a different cruise line other than my usual NCL. Big mistake! Whilst the ship was large it was so badly designed it was very difficult to get around. There are 4 pools on board, oasis at the front, pool terrace aft, an indoor pool and another outdoor pool in the middle of the deck. Oasis is adults only I believe. I was surprised to see that I had to take a ticket and wait to be called for check-in and the woman at check-in gave me no information whatsoever. I had no clue why she had taken my credit card, she did not explain anything to em about the auto gratuity that was added. A fellow passenger told me that I did not have to pay this and should have been given the option upon check-in. After I checked in it was then to go through security and striaght onto the ship which all went smoothly. The staff in general were a miserable lot with one or two looking a little happy every now and again. My single cabin F328 was located next to the Exchange Bar. Karaoke went on here until late and so it was impossible to sleep until this had finished. I was offered no sympathy from either the cruiseline itself via the phone nor the reception staff and there was no offer of compensation. I was actually told that when it was time for me to go to sleep for me to go to reception and ask them to turn down the bass. I am firmly of the opinion that these cabins shoud not have been built because they are subpar. I will say this however, the cabins are far bigger than NCL, although as you are not in it much apart from sleeping this isn't the be all and end all for me. A good night's sleep is. The food was hit and miss. The buffet was a joke it was so small with ropes cordoning off certain parts and it was very difficult to find seating due to the sheer number of passengers. Fajitas with tortillas were advertised and I had to stand there and ask for the fajita as it was not there and for the tortillas. I was provided with a warm fajita to place the chilli in myself but no tortilla. Everythign seemed too much for the staff at the buffet. Thankfully, the evening meal improved with lobster thermidor which I thoroughly enjoyed, althoug the mushroom soup was of such a bizarre consistency I could not eat it. i finished my meal with pached strawberries but there were no strawberries on my plate whatsoever just some ridiculous coulis amde from strawberries. Dinner the following night was mediocre. The best food by far on the ship were the small homemade pizzas with 4 types to choose from as well as a daily special. I thoroughly enjoyed these. The drinks could've been better priced (£6.50-£8.50) and are cheaper with NCL. Beers are mainly British. The entertainment was laughable. the comedian on the first night was so bad I would've left but I was stuck in the middle of a row and wouldn't have been able to get out without some comment from the imbecilic man. There was also a Take That tribute band which was pathetic. If I coudl have got off the ship that night I would gladly have gone. The tender service to Guernsey the next day operated well and it only took me 25 minutes to get onto the tender. Disembarkation was also fine, however I feel being made to leave the cabins at 8am is asking a bit much. We had to queue to get to breakfast which was annoying as only one restaurant was open. In short this was my first and last cruise with P&O as it is well below the standards I am used to. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I have just come back from a trip on Ventura, sail date 13 September 2015 down to the Canary Islands from Southampton and back again. I have done a lot of cruises with other companies before but I am planning a round the world cruise ... Read More
I have just come back from a trip on Ventura, sail date 13 September 2015 down to the Canary Islands from Southampton and back again. I have done a lot of cruises with other companies before but I am planning a round the world cruise and P&O go round the world. My mother advised me to do a short cruise with P&O before booking a long one to see what I thought of them. I’m so pleased I did. There is no way on earth I would ever choose to do another cruise with this company. It started off OK, embarkation was really smooth and my cabin, although small was perfectly adequate. I’d booked late in the day so the best I could get was a balcony cabin which is smaller than I’d usually book but it was perfectly manageable. What was shocking, right from the start, was the attitude of the staff. You can’t get into your cabin until 2 and I’d had a long drive down so I found somewhere on deck to sit and got some lunch. Right from the start I got staff asking me where my husband was. It was like I’d gone back in time. When I told them I was travelling alone I got raised eyebrows and a smirk. It was seriously unsettling. I then had the ongoing problem during the trip of people wandering into my cabin. They’d knock quickly and before I had a chance to say “no” they’d waltz in. I ended up putting up the “do not disturb” sign every time I went back to my cabin, but it didn’t stop them – they’d just knock twice and waltz in. I began to think they were having some sort of bet as to who could catch me naked first. I went and complained to reception and got the response “What do you want us to do, post a guard outside your door?”. The ship is desperately over crowded. Going up for breakfast there is a very poor choice of canteen style food that is greasy and unappetising. It is really difficult to get a table, especially travelling on your own as you have no-one to save your place and if you leave your food for a moment it will be whisked away and someone else will be seated there. There is juice, but only at breakfast and its nasty reconstituted stuff. The canteen is way too small for the number of people on the ship and it’s crowded with people bumping into each other. Room service is pathetic. You can’t get cooked breakfast to your room and there is a very limited range during the day. The night menu actually looked better, if you can wait until after 11 pm to order something. I was freedom dining which was actually OK, as a single person I got added to a table and quickly seated. The problem was the menu was so dull that most evenings I couldn’t be bothered to get dressed up to go down and eat it. Very school dinners. Steaks that had obviously been frozen and thawed too quickly. The biggest problem was the lack of anything to do. The “talks” are all just trying to flog you things, like acupuncture or other treatments. The spa is ridiculously expensive although the therapists are very competent and friendly. The biggest mistake I made was paying to use “The Sanctuary”. This turned out to be a separate area with slightly more comfortable sun loungers. They made it sound like we were going to be fed and waited on, but this never materialised. The shows were a joke. I’ve seen much better school productions and one of the singers in particular was horrifically flat. I struggled not to laugh through the whole thing at just how preposterous it was. The TV has news channels and some sport and that is it and it often doesn’t work at all. They have a selection of a few old films. They show films in the theatre but they repeat them and when I went it was so out of focus it was hard to actually watch it. I have been on a lot of cruises, I have never been so bored in my entire life. I felt like I was stuck on a very bad ferry and ended up counting the hours until I could go home. When we were in port the choice of excursions seemed to be either something where you needed to be uber fit and able to walk for hours on end, or, something where you sat on coach and got driven round but didn’t really get to actually get out and do anything. There isn’t time when you only have a few hours in a port to make your own arrangements if you want to be sure of not missing the ship but the choice was so poor I usually just ended up getting off and walking around a bit. The very, very worst things though were problems with the ship itself. We started off crossing Biscay in a very bad storm. They locked the balconies and shut the decks. I’ve crossed Biscay in a storm many times before but this was the first time I’ve actually been scared. I didn’t feel the ship was up to it. Various members of the crew told me later that they’d been scared too and they’d been living on the ship for more than a year. There was a serious problem with the lifts which kept breaking down. This is really not good when you’re on a ship with that many floors and you need to keep getting up and down. Just as a note, I became very aware of what a huge problem the lifts were for the number of wheel chair users on the ship who often ended up missing things. There are very few public toilets and even fewer disabled ones and the disabled ones don’t have automatic door openers so there is no way of travelling on this ship as a wheel chair user unless you have a companion. On the last day the lights failed. So the lifts were working but you needed to travel down in pitch dark. There was no lights in the toilets, or water for that matter, so no way to wash your hands. The entire cruise was just one annoying event after another. My card kept failing, so I’d battle the lift queue up to my cabin only to get a red light when I tried to open it, and then have to play lift roulette to go back to reception to get my card replaced. Eventually when I phoned and made a huge fuss they said I didn’t need to go down again as they could reset my door from there and hey presto, suddenly my key worked. There were times when I felt I was getting a “hazing”, that the staff were deliberately going out of their way to make my experience miserable. I am not sure that a lot of the male staff in particular approve of a woman travelling alone without a male chaperone, or at least that is the definite impression I got. I didn’t do anything that warranted the way I was treated. I think if I was a man, or even if I was travelling with another woman I might have had a better experience, but I really felt an underlying hostility to a lone female passenger. I have always loved going on cruises but I never want to experience something like this again. It was just no way up to the standard I am used to. It would call it Butlins on Sea but I think that would be unfair to Butlins. I have never been so happy to get back to England and disembark. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We stupidly believed the Thompson reps who assured us "if you enjoyed Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas you'll enjoy P&O Ventura" - please learn from our mistake; Royal Caribbean beats P&O at every level: ... Read More
We stupidly believed the Thompson reps who assured us "if you enjoyed Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas you'll enjoy P&O Ventura" - please learn from our mistake; Royal Caribbean beats P&O at every level: The whole ship seemed in need of a full refit. Entertainment wasn't worth seeing - Karaoke had better singers! Walls in fine dining were covered in dust and grease. Where was the hand-gel? Even the lifeboat muster was more theory than practice - don't know how they get away with that. P&O have spoiled the idea of cruising for us - boring and old fashioned - poorly trained crew, completely overworked! Felt sorry for them really. No idea of service or even hygiene. P&O seem to rely on a faithful customer base who seem too embarrassed to admit they might get a better deal elsewhere. Couldn't believe some of the things they were prepared to put up with because; "well, we've sailed with P&O for years and we get a good deal" - it seemed quite sad really. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
P & O apparently have rules that state that there won't be any noise from the upper deck between 12 and 7am .... but they don't stick to it and the duty managers don't seem to have the requisite authority to enforce ... Read More
P & O apparently have rules that state that there won't be any noise from the upper deck between 12 and 7am .... but they don't stick to it and the duty managers don't seem to have the requisite authority to enforce them. You know that there are smokers up on deck, but can forgive the intermittent chair scraping. The rest of the noise is intolerable - and I have ear plugs!! We were woken almost every day by rumbling trolleys between 6 and 7am. We were woken every night (12am-1am) and again every morning (approx 7am) by deck stewards scraping sun loungers. The deck party was so noisy that it took 3 complaints to finally have this turned down by 12.30pm. Then we had another 30 mins of deck hands clearing up. On another occasion (after midnight) the bar staff were throwing the tables and chairs around as they tried to clean the deck. P&O roped off the deck area, but we were woken after midnight by scheduled deck cleaning and again in the mornings. It wasn't really possible to catch up on sleep during the afternoons. I will never book or be upgraded to a suite on any P & O ship. Not only do they not have enough insulation, but P&O don't observe their own rules. I go on holiday to enjoy myself, not spend endless hours having to raise noise issues especially when quiet was promised by a senior officer. Shows - fairly good - as good as Princess and better than Celebrity! Several things go wrong and so quite entertaining. Lots of backing music and vocals on the shows and the lack of lip sync is quite funny. The sound engineer must have hearing problems. Sound at the front is much better than at the back but several singers struggling to be heard over the music. Food in main restaurant is poor - fair. Very unappealing menu. Beach Hut - Very good, tasty sizzlers and steaks; excellent service Sindhu - Sometimes good, sometimes very poor. Poppadoms are pathetic. Seafood platter isn't cooked well. Curries in the buffet are far superior - and even at the local takeaway. If you like curries and have them fairly often, you will probably be disappointed. Glass House - very good on the whole; excellent service. Allergies food advisor in the Saffron freedom dining on deck 6 was absolutely useless. When asked questions her responses included for example: "I don't cook, I don't really know who to ask, I am not really sure what the things are on the menu" An absolute disgrace. Seems to blame everyone else when she gets things wrong. Doesn't understand "medium rare". When steaks are over cooked, she stupidly asks if you want it with "more blood" ... doesn't seem to understand that the red liquid in a steak is actually myoglobin. I agree with many of the waiters who said she really should stick to washing dishes. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I am writing this review because I wish that I had read something like this before I booked my trip. I literally read 100’s of reviews and gave negative reviews the benefit of the doubt… thinking they were just written by picky ... Read More
I am writing this review because I wish that I had read something like this before I booked my trip. I literally read 100’s of reviews and gave negative reviews the benefit of the doubt… thinking they were just written by picky people. A little bit about me and my travel experience: I grew up in the United States but currently live in central London. I am a woman in my mid 30’s who travelled with my husband, 2 year old daughter, and parents. I was drawn to this cruise because it sailed out of Southampton (convenient), had a night nursery for my daughter, and went to ports that sounded interesting. I have been on 10 cruises over the past 10 years with Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity Cruise lines. I have also stayed at various all-inclusive resorts such as Sandals, Secrets, and other smaller companies in Europe. I travel 5-6 times per year and have experienced many hotels ranging between 2-5+ stars. Overall impression: I was very disappointed and will not be sailing with P&O ever again. Considering that the company is owned by Carnival Co., I assumed that the experience would be a British version of Carnival and Princess cruise lines… which would have been great! However, it was not a “British” version, it was a simply a BAD version. I live in London and LOVE British culture and British people. I think Great Britain is beautiful with fabulous restaurants. This cruise line is NOT a representation of British culture. What really shocks me is that the cruise line is expensive! It doesn't make any sense. PORTS: The bad: -Didn’t get to go to Guernsey because of “bad weather.” -When visiting ports, on other cruise lines, as we exit the ship, we always receive a port map with clear documentation of where our ship is docked. When I didn’t see any on the way out, I went to reception to ask for one, and was informed that they did not exit. This is a major problem that can make finding the ship (in cities with multiple docks) at the end of the day challenging. Maybe this is done on purpose, to make exploring on your own (versus buying a ship excursion) more difficult? The Good: -Porto: The ship provided a very convenient shuttle to Porto. We did a tour and port tasting at Graham’s lodge- amazing experience…. also enjoyed a GREAT lunch at Dourum Restaurante, overlooking the river and town. -La Coruna: We took a taxi to the train station and then train to Santiago de Compostela- it was such a beautiful place and we had a fabulous lunch at Petiscos do Cardeal. -Lisbon: We took a taxi (metered) to Belem tower, tried a famous pastry at Pasteis de Belem, walked to the Discoveries Monument and Jerónimos Monastery. We took a taxi to Castelo St jorge (amazing views!!) and then walked around the Alfama. We finished our day by taking another taxi to Praca do commerce and walked around that area and then back to the ship. We tried the great local drink- ginjinha at a street cart, overlooking the bridge. It was an amazing day. FOOD: The bad: -The selection was awful. Mostly everything was over salted and bland. -Breakfast: No french toast, no smoked salmon, no eggs Benedict… I could go on and on… -Lunch: No sandwich/panini stations, terrible salad options (no spinach or any leafy greens.. just iceberg/romaine), no iced tea or lemonade like other cruise lines… again, could go on and on -Dinner: No french onion soup, no filet mignon (even formal night), the “shrimp cocktail appetizer” was a joke… the shrimp were the smallest that I’ve ever seen… about 1 cm each. -They don’t advertise or tell you everything… 2 examples: At breakfast, pancakes are available but no one knows about it because you have to request them at the hidden omelet making station. Similarly, at the main restaurants, you can request complimentary cappuccino and espresso but it’s not on the menu and the waiter will not offer it. When you ask for it, they seem annoyed. -Juice and milk came from a dispenser, not cartons… you don’t know what you’re getting… nothing seemed natural or fresh. Certainly not 100% juice. The good: -About one out of every five dishes was good…. good, not great. -Great tea selection. -We really enjoyed the wine tasting at the Glass House, 15 pound surcharge, came with food pairing (small bites), educational and tasty. -High chairs available everywhere. SHIP: The bad: -As others have commented, the public areas are not big enough to fit all of the passengers. We arrived to the Arena theater for the “special” nightly performance, as soon as we got out of dinner, 5 minutes prior to the performance start time and all of the AISLES were full of standing people because all of the seats were taken. This is unacceptable. Same with breakfast at the buffet, no where to sit. -In general, the decor is hideous. There is no excuse for this. The ship was built in 2008, not 1997. -The layout seems like it was all a big mistake… it makes no sense! Multiple times throughout one day, you will have to take lifts or stairs up/down, then walk across the ship to other lifts or stairs, and have to go up/down again to get where you need to be. There are road blocks everywhere. -The interactive TV system in the cabins is SO slow! It will take 10 minutes to check the balance on 3 cruise cards for 3 passengers. The good: -The beds are comfortable and our grade HD balcony cabin was a good size with nice balcony furniture. -The kids program is GREAT! The Reef staff are very sweet. CONCLUSION: Perhaps if I hadn’t sailed with other companies, I wouldn’t be as disappointed. This ship/cruise was FINE, but it just wasn’t nearly as good as other options that are priced the same! I just want to urge those that haven’t tried other cruise lines, to please do so. I think you just don’t know what you’re missing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was booked as a short family cruise, when we found there was no Cunard alternative for our dates. Thank God it was short! The ship is only about 20% bigger than the Queen Elizabeth, but has TWICE the passengers crammed on board ... Read More
This was booked as a short family cruise, when we found there was no Cunard alternative for our dates. Thank God it was short! The ship is only about 20% bigger than the Queen Elizabeth, but has TWICE the passengers crammed on board - and half the crew/staff. OK, Cunard are in a different league but even so, we did not expect 'Butlins' on the water. EVERYTHING about the ship and the cruise screams 'cheap' and 'cut-back'. You even have to PAY for a glass of water in any of the bars! The cabins (there's no way you can call them State rooms) are absolutely miniscule. Our 'family' room for four, was a standard twin room with two extra beds crammed in. Within 20 minutes of being on board, I asked for a better room and was told there WERE no better rooms... I asked for a refund, and to be allowed to get off. Clearly this could not happen. The entertainments were low-grade social club acts, a DIRE comedienne who made NOBODY laugh, but everyone cringe. Even the duo in the so-called 'adults' Metropolis bar - it had loads of kids in it - were just a karaoke act - not even very good. The main ship dance floor is the size of the average lounge at home, and even that was just CD's being operated by disgruntled staff. There were FAR too many people on the ship and it couldn't cope. Restaurant waiting times were up to an hour, getting a drink at any bar was an evening event in itself and the 300 seat theatre was a joke - 3000+ passengers. We did not get to see ONE show. A family cruise? Yes, lots of kids. That's fine - we have two. We didn't expect the open-to-all cinema to be showing 15 and even R rated movies at 11.00 in the morning. Complaints were made about the EXTREMELY loud 'F' words coming from a particularly violent film every other word. Nothing was done about it. Daytime activities? Quizzes and bingo. Service? Extremely slow, sometimes completely ignored or orders forgotten, or wrongly made. Several of the crew and ents. staff openly said it was the WORST ship they have ever worked on and admitted that when the cruises are for families, the quality and costs are cut way back. It showed. Conclusion? DON'T ever travel on the Ventura unless you are happy with a floating cheap holiday camp. It costs a fair bit more, but we will be going back to Cunard from now on. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
The Ventura from Southampton, arrived at Port, with high hopes but quickly felt like I had stepped into Butlins from the 1960s - not classy at all. Tacky Entertainment, Ship had no atmosphere, the ship was so crowded you had no where to ... Read More
The Ventura from Southampton, arrived at Port, with high hopes but quickly felt like I had stepped into Butlins from the 1960s - not classy at all. Tacky Entertainment, Ship had no atmosphere, the ship was so crowded you had no where to escape, packed like sardines upstairs on fresh air decks where the stench of smoke stuck to your clothes or you were nose to tail with people drinking all day long. We walked around endlessly looking for a table in the small crowded buffet area, gave up and orded room service for breakfast most days. The sailaway parties are a total joke and the entertainment team is so tacky and amateur , with football lounges, pubs, tacky quizes, its skin crawling, beer swilling , football 'lads' culture. Having cruised with RCCL and Celebrity, I was really shocked. They automatically add gratuity charges of £35 per person over 12yrs before you start and you have to pay for the so called free shuttle buses. They offer seminars on various aspects of health, I attended one called How to Re-alkaline your body. That was meant to be an hour, it was over in 15 minutes becuase non of us wanted to pay £30 for test..so the guy stopped it right there, so we didnt hear most of the information. He was curt and treated us like fools. We all got up and left feeling very uncomfortable. The acupuncture talk was interesting, and we had our tongues analysed. I was told I needed chinese medicine, at a cost of £180 ...of course only available on the ship. Our first shore excursions was a disaster , 39 pounds each , and the boat was so congested, we couldnt get off...so we missed it ...by about two minutes..surely they must have had a list of names and they could have waited ....there was a nice chap who chased the bus down the road and stopped it so eventually we got it..the aquarium was about 7 minutes drive away and a family ticket to was 36 euros, max and this was 2 adults 2 children, the guide said my son was a child and needed a child ticket yet P & O said he was an adult. So we had paid 39 pounds each to P & O to spend 7 minutes on a bus and get a ticket into the Aquarium which didnt even allow access to the temporary exhibition...then we got picked up at 12.45 for a 50 minute drive around the city...the boat didnt leave till 4 pm so why on earth did we get taken back at 1:35. Total rip off. Kids clubs was chaos, they wouldnt let my 13 year old sign up on the first night so he felt he missed the chance to do the introductory stuff and wouldnt go again. Deck 9 cabin was kept very clean & tidy twice a day by a lovely housekeeper. We chose Freedom dining, you can please yourself time wise & sit with others or alone if you choose, we ate in the Cinnamon Restaurant some nights, some staff lovely, some couldnt speak English but dining was very very rushed. As one course finished another arrived sometimes not even waiting for all on your table to finish the first one.First night my chair was pulled out for me, I sat down, seat had had an entire bottle of wine poured on it and my white trouser ruined. The White company complimentary products in your cabin are a nice touch you need to ask if you need more, one small container of shampoo and conditioner wasnt enough for three for a week. Weather was terrible, had about 2 hours of sun all week, boat creaked, thrashed about, groaned, in no rush to do that again ! Ive never heard a boat arrive at port and ive cruised three times before this, I heard evey clang on this boat. Entertainment was horrific apart the Octaves singing group were good. Atol's restaurant Sindhu was amazing but added another 80 to our bill. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
After cruising more than 15 times I like to think that I can judge what's good and what's bad. Almost every aspect of this cruise was awful. The check in at Southampton was slow and manned by rude miserable sour face staff. I was ... Read More
After cruising more than 15 times I like to think that I can judge what's good and what's bad. Almost every aspect of this cruise was awful. The check in at Southampton was slow and manned by rude miserable sour face staff. I was not very happy at the way they spoke to group member who booked this cruise. Lets just say if it had been me she barked at she would have got more than an earful from me in return. If these "staff" are so unhappy with the job then leave and give someone else a chance to shine. Things did not get any better when we got on the ship with female crew barking at us after they overheard us say that we would just go and drop our bags in our stateroom. Yet again if this is an example of P & O at its "best" then its no surprise that more and more people choose more American Cruise lines. The buffet food was rather bland and was never hot. We disliked the way that they had closed most of the buffet down and were only letting one person in at a time. We do not like to stand in line to get some food so we decided to opt for room service. We were shocked to find a large selection of items on the menu had prices next to them We have never had this on any cruise we have done before and we found that this was the theme all over this ship where anything they could get away with charging for they did. Felt more like a cash cow than a passenger. As we were in a group of 8 we had a single table at first seating well lets just say we wish we had opted for anytime as our waiter stank of BO. This carried on every night of the cruise despite a complaint being made to the reception staff. Bar service was painfully slow in fact on the second night we ordered drinks in the Theatre and the time from the first drink arriving till the last drink arriving at our seats spanned a time of over 40 minutes it took so long the show was over before the last drink arrived. The food in the restaurant was rather bland and seemed to be of poor quality. Steaks were very thin cut and most food lacked any form of seasoning. I did try the buffet one lunch time for a salad and decided against any dressing as you had to move the skin out of the way to get the dressing. Again this seemed to be an on-going theme in the buffet with hot food not very hot and cold items not very cold. The one show that we did watch was an experience not to be repeated as it was that "singers and dancers" last show together. That will be a blessing for any future passengers on this ship. I will say than one of them could sing and dance and he did look like Neil Patrick Harris. Found the dress code to be rather out of date when you could not drink in the piano bar without full evening wear on. We were actually refused service even when another member of the group went up to order drinks for us he was told that if the drinks were for us he would not be served. I asked to speak to the Hotel Manager and the bar staff did not even bother to do this. I did notice that this ship is looking tatty and uncared for in some areas with ripped carpets and rust stains. The only shining star on this short cruise was our cabin steward. Our room was cleaned within 10 minutes of us leaving the room even for a quick coffee and Danish for breakfast. In fact he is the only member of the crew that we did tip and I was so annoyed at the poor slow service I had all auto tips removed. Would we cruise P & O again NEVER. Would I recommend P & O to anyone NO WAY as there in no-one I dislike that much. I would go as far to say that P & O should maybe rethink some of their attitudes as more and more people want informal "fun" cruising Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We were a group of 6 celebrating a 40th birthday, we have cruised with NCL, P and O and Celebrity before. I can't stress enough how disappointed I was with P@O and Ventura. While the ship from the outside looks impressive the ... Read More
We were a group of 6 celebrating a 40th birthday, we have cruised with NCL, P and O and Celebrity before. I can't stress enough how disappointed I was with P@O and Ventura. While the ship from the outside looks impressive the interior is dated and 80's style, I find it hard to believe it was only launched in 2008. As with most cruises the vast majority of the staff are foreign and of all the cruises I've been on so far the staff were the least engaging and generally of a poor standard. Food was just not up to scratch in all areas, the buffet was chaotic, second class quality and the food poorly displayed. It was a horrible experience to be completely frank. Food on evening dinner service was more or less thrown at us, the waiting staff were more interested in talking amongst themselves rather than engaging with the diners. I was shocked by how bad the service was. The staterooms are dated and poorly maintained. The shower has a shower curtain and all of cabins we occupied had a damp musty smell to them. The main positive about the room was plenty of storage. Where P@O seem to excel is on their entertainment, all of the entertainment staff were of excellent quality. Our favorite line is Celebrity, the difference for the same price is vast between the 2 companies, if you're considering which company to choose there is no comparison in my opinion. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
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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