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159 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

We are a couple in our late forties, and this May we abandoned our children for the first time (they *are* old enough before you worry) to take a somewhat belated 20th Anniversary break on a cruise liner. A four day break to Zeebrugge in ... Read More
We are a couple in our late forties, and this May we abandoned our children for the first time (they *are* old enough before you worry) to take a somewhat belated 20th Anniversary break on a cruise liner. A four day break to Zeebrugge in Belgium and Guernsey.We've actually been considering this for years, it was seriously mooted for our honeymoon, but we've never really got round to it before. We chose P&O based on a mixture of recommendations, reading, and where we (or to be more precise, the missus) fancied going.We arrived early at Southampton, despite it being a bank holiday. We arranged to book with CPS who handle the parking for that port. Sadly, this was a complete shambles on both entry and exit (see later for exit)On entry, we were fed into a "loop" near the checkin area where they pick up your bags and drive your car off. There were many cars waiting to be checked in, we waited about an hour and a quarter. I spoke to one of the security men who was getting worried because they simply didn't have enough space to put any further cars if any more turned up. In his view (and he was right as far as I could see) the delay was due to undermanning by CPS - there were several 'check in' lanes but only one was in operation and could handle about a dozen cars at once, each taking maybe five minutes. This was hugely unimpressive but we didn't mind too much because it was a nice day.When we actually got to offload this was done very well. We progressed to the terminal building to a far more efficient system run by P+O where they checked tickets, took photographs and credit cards and so on. This took no time at all, but we then went to another long queue caused, I think, by the Port Authorities not employing enough staff where they checked the baggage. Then, finally, we got on the boat and headed for our cabin.We had booked an outside cabin with a balcony on Deck A. It was spacious (more than expected) and clean - there was a large double bed, a TV showing assorted cable-type shows and an information channel, a seperate bathroom and the balcony. We also had a fridge which was filled with the drinks we had brought on board (including a bottle of Champagne the missus had sneaked on)One of the cases was not ours - it belonged to the deck below. We brought this to the attention of the steward (ess ? she was female) and it was taken away. Ten minutes later it was back :) despite being clearly labelled.Staff overall were excellent though throughout, nothing was too much trouble. Most of the staff were Indian, from the Goa area I understand. Our fellow Passengers were also very pleasant. Whether we were lucky, or this is a function of the holiday I do not know, but we spoke with a cross section of ages and social classes over the break (if you know what I mean !) and everyone was very friendly. Didn't see any 'hen party' behaviour at all.The first thing we went to was the raffle for free treatments at the Spa, obviously a loss leader to get people in. Whilst the girls doing the work were excellent, I didn't like its hard sell mentality at all. I was able to hear the manager tell the girls to stand near the exits to give passengers a tour as they exited (most people left after the raffle) and we were asked to stand, for a contrived reason, in cabin floor groups. The cynic in me says this is a handy way of grouping people by finances. The missus did have a massage and said it was very good, but it was expensive, probably a 30% markup unlike the rest of the ship where prices for drinks etc. were about par.We had all our dinners in the Bay View restaurant, club dining, just a table for two though we did chat with the couple on the table next to us. Service was generally excellent, and there was no push towards expensive wines - I don't drink much wine and the missus just drinks a glass or two a night, so we only used two bottles in four days, which was reasonably priced. The food was well presented. Portions were on the small side but there were several courses and we always felt full when we left.We went to the first two of the four main performances in the Arena theatre. The first night the show was a performance of 70s classics (the missus is slighly younger than me, mistaking Suzi Quatro for Blondie - possible grounds for divorce) and was done by the resident song and dance group. It was great fun, lasting about 45 minutes or so with no interval. The second show was a Take That tribute band who were pretty good. I enjoyed it even though I only recognised about half the songs. The third night was the resident theatre group again doing songs from the musicals, and the last night was a comic. There were usually a couple of other performances going on elsewhere, we saw an Annie Lennox tribute, there was a Johnny Cash tribute, an impressionist and two chaps who sang with a piano, and a couple of house singers who appeared at odd times.We slept well. One thing that we didn't suffer from was noisy announcements, these only came though if you had the information channel on.In the morning, just, we went to the Breakfast buffet which was pretty good, a mixture of continental, fruit and English fry up. This was the source of one of the very few complaints I had - the orange juice was frequently watery. It's a sign of how much we enjoyed the cruise that the 'complaints' are pretty trivial.We went to Bruges on Day 2, taking a half day trip. We took the official excursion even though there were options such as the train or taxis, simply because we were cruise rookies. We disembarked (no passports were checked in Zeebrugge or Guernsey) onto a coach. We had a rather eccentric guide who didn't like the Germans very much telling a story of a hotel the Belgians built, then the Germans came in and destroyed it in 1914-18, the Belgians then restored it only for the Germans to destroy it again in 1939-45. Fortunately we didn't have any German passengers :) Bruges we enjoyed, especially the ride round in the horse drawn cab which isn't cheap (and apparently the boat trip is well worth it). Coming back, it chucked it down and we got soaked. There was confusion about a potential missing passenger. Why they didn't keep a list of who was on what coach I do not know. But the organised excursion was pretty well organised.Wednesday was a sea day. This is my other P&O complaint, which might be a function of the trip type. There was plenty going on in the evening, in fact if we did it again we would change to an early dining shift so we could experience more. In the day time there was less going on. Wednesday I thought would be more representative. Discounting childrens activities there were a couple of quizzes, one dance activity (line dancing, the only dancing lesson of any sort all trip), a film (not brand new but recent - Skyfall was on for example). There was one 'lecture' which was about a fellow's time in school (I think, we missed it)Many of the activities documented in Horizon appeared to be the Spa running sales spiels "come and learn all about Acupuncture (and we can flog you a session)" during the day. I was rather disappointed to be honest, but having said that we didn't get bored. I went to a cricket session - got picked last in teams (I am podgy and nearly 50) but I can still bowl fairly sharpish, though my back and shoulders regretted it the next day :)The missus had a massage in the morning and a yoga session in the evening at the Spa and said it was very well done. Good thing considering the price and by this time I just didn't like the people who ran it (not the actual staff themselves)We tried the in cabin service on Wednesday - you can order food through the TV, and this came pretty rapidly - you could order sandwiches and so on for free, drinks (paid, obviously) plus some food was charged (Burger + Chips was Â(EURO)3.50)Wednesday night was also the formal night. We got dressed up in our finery (less so in my case) and there were several people taking photographs in various settings throughout the ship. There was one photographer (David I think) who is quite a diminutive fellow but managed to take a decent set of photos of me, which means the man is a genius. Photos retailed throughout at 10 or formal night photos were 16 (to be fair they were slightly larger). There were regular photo sessions - you had the opportunity at meal time etc., but the photographers were not pushy. We didn't go to the Wednesday show partly because we were slightly late for dinner but mainly because we were slightly smashed.Thursday was Guernsey day. You have to go to Guernsey on the lifeboats/shuttles so there was a ticket system and a long queue. Not ideal but well enough done given the limitations, especially as the weather was borderline. We got plenty of time in St Peters Port. We had planned to visit the Underground Hospital but looking at the bus timetables we decided not to. In retrospect, we would book the trip for Guernsey (which helped with the disembarking) and planned ourselves for the far more ad hoc trip to Bruges. But you live and learn.Thursday we also sampled afternoon tea, and lunch for the only time. Lunch was an alternative of a cut down meal or an assortment of fillers, Afternoon tea was sandwiches and cakes, crumpets and teacakes.As time progressed the prices in the shops dropped, though they never were ridiculous. Apart from the Spa prices were pretty close to normal, no great deals though as promised, tax free cancelling out the mark up. The missus did buy a handbag and checked prices afterwards, it was slightly less than the RRP.On our last day we had a formal breakfast which was very similar to the buffet (slightly extended) but with waiter service. We had sent our cases ahead and got up early for breakfast (most days we weren't early enough for the formal breakfast !). Disembarkation started with those who had kept their cases, then everyone else, we decided to sit and have a drink and wait for the queue to die down, we don't live that far away from the port.In retrospect we would probably keep our cases and get off as early as possible. So, having waited to disembark though our own choice, we went to collect the keys, which was done rather efficiently, and then we found our car easily enough. Then it ground to a complete halt. The reason for this was all the cars went out through the same one track road past two people in Hi-Viz jackets on different junctions who didn't seem aware that there was half a dozen cars in one direction, and hundreds in the other. We were stuck in the queue, frequently not moving for ten minutes at a time for about 90 minutes. Amazingly there were no fights and no shunts.It is rather disappointing. The cruise itself was great but it was spoiled by the parking at the beginning and end - not P&O's fault at all. If (as is likely) we go again I will try the offsite parking with minibus transfer or possibly parking elsewhere in Southampton, because however bad they are they couldn't be worse.Overall though we really enjoyed it. The negatives are almost exclusively about the car parking at either end. We will do it again, I'm sure, and would certainly consider P&O again. The weather was erratic which meant the balcony wasn't used much, and I had concerns about the standards of the daytime entertainment which might be problematical on a cruise with more sea days. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
On arrival at Ocean Terminal I asked for wheelchair assistance from one of the lovely helpful gentlemen, he took me directly into the terminal & booked me in to receive my cruise card. i was then taken onboard & up to the buffet ... Read More
On arrival at Ocean Terminal I asked for wheelchair assistance from one of the lovely helpful gentlemen, he took me directly into the terminal & booked me in to receive my cruise card. i was then taken onboard & up to the buffet area to await my friend. Incredibly efficient.My Deluxe cabin was wonderful, even bigger than I had expected. A decent sized bathroom with bath + shower; large bath sheets, face cloth & toiletries. There was a dressing area with plenty hanging space & generous sized soft robes. There is a small safe inside the mirrored wardrobe, along with shelf space. My suitcase arrived outside my room by about 3pm, about the same time my friend arrived, this was her first cruise & she was also delighted with the accommodation.This is the first cruise ship I have been on with tea & coffee facilities, including mugs, just lovely touch & appreciated. Our room steward, Morris, introduced himself to me as soon as I arrived in the cabin & was extremely polite, friendly & helpful. I had asked for a feather pillow & an extra blanket but they were not in the room, Morris managed to provide these while we were at dinner.We were allocated Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon restaurant, a new experience for me & we both really enjoyed dining this way, meeting new people each evening & sitting in different parts of the restaurant. There was plenty choice on the menu & food was well presented, there always seemed to be plenty staff around and they worked really hard. We were always offered a large glass of cold water as soon as we sat at the table. Wine waiters would arrive soon after we sat down & everything was well organised. I have particular dietary issues & the ever helpful Joy, Senior Waiter, in Cinnamon, ensured that my needs were met. each evening he would provide me with the following days menu & later discuss any changes I might need. This was done very discreetly & I was never made to feel awkward. One of the first things I did was to fill in a form at reception to withhold tips, choosing to tip staff at my choosing, this way i ended up spending more but I gave to those who made my experience better, including restaurant staff & room steward.The ship had a lovely feel about it, a mix of traditional, stairways & lift areas but also modern, in the atrium. Being Whitsun, there were a lot of families with children aboard & they were all well behaved. The only place one was really aware of them en masse was around the pool areas which we tended to avoid. Not that I was hungry but I tried afternoon tea in Saffron, goodness this was a full on affair. i joined a family & we were offered plenty hot tea, selection of sandwiches, muffins, toasted teacakes, warm scones + jam & cream. In addition to all this there were tiers of cakes on a stand. The children had a bit of everything but I only managed tea & the toasted tea cake. glad to have tried it but I decided it was just too much. We had room service breakfast once but thereafter ate upstairs from the generous buffet in the Waterfront restaurant. Despite the ship being so big & about 3,000 guests we never felt crowded & often wondered where everyone else was. I was disappointed with the library, it was rather small & only4 or 5 chairs to sit on. One was able to pick up a free daily crossword & sudoku from the library, a very brief daily news was also available in the atrium area near the Costa coffee bar. There were a few shops as always. I thought the choice of daily extra sale stands offered rather a poor standard of merchandise compared to other ships I have been on (Cunard & Holland America). We appreciated the shuttle buses as we did our own thing in ports rather than taking one of the fairly pricey organised excursions. The local bus from Brankenburg to Brugge took about 20 mins & was only â,¬5.80 for 2 of us one way. Brugge was lovely, a sort of medieval feel to it. Large lovely old tall buildings, a large central square, plenty of cafe/bars & horse drawn carriages. We had a beer & a coffee at one of the prominent cafes in the square. As I was short on energy we did not do Brugges justice, other guests who took a canal trip said it was good value at about â,¬9 each. We walked to the station, about 15 mins from the centre, through a park. The lovely clean double decker train only cost us â,¬6 for both of us back to Brankenburg where we got on the shuttle bus. We were back on board for a late sit down lunch in Saffron. I would like to return to Brugge. Our sea day was a lovely relaxing excuse to do nothing, along lie & then a meander around the ship. Although there were some activities on offer none of them appealed. A craft session would have been appreciated. I had a Fire & Ice pedicure, 60 mins. It was very pleasant & included a cooling gel, hot stones, exfoliation, massage & nails varnished. It did feel rather impersonal but the girls work a very long day. It cost 45 which was ok but I did not like that they automatically added 10% service charge - this meant I did not then leave a personal tip to my therapist. The sea was very choppy when we arrived at Guernsey where tenders were needed to get ashore. A lot of folk were wanting ashore & the waiting area was very busy, at one stage they stopped handing out tickets for tenders as the weather took a turn for the worse. We did get on a tender, it was definitely choppy but nothing awful. St Peter's Port was overcast, a bit cold & threatening to rain. We opted for the local bus that I had sourced pre cruise, it went all the way round the island from the town's bus station. Although buses generally only go once an hour, they put on extra buses as the cruise ship was in. 2 took us all the way around the island on a journey that took about 1 hour 20 mins - what a bargain. If you wanted to "get on get off" it cost the princely sum of 4.50. Guernsey was rather boring but this is maybe an unfair judgement as we did not get off at any of the tourist spots - you would have needed to take a ship's tour to make the most of this 24 square mile island. Again, we were back onboard for a late lunch & relaxing aft.Our only Formal night was on our sea day & 99% of guests made a real effort which was lovely, it made for a good atmosphere around the ship. Disembarking was efficient although mine was done through the mobility section & not the same experience as others. My friend chose to take her own case ashore & this worked well, I met up with her in the Ocean Terminal entrance while she waited for her Eavesway coach & me for my lift. I was surprised to see people arriving to get aboard on the next short cruise while we were still getting off! All in all a wonderful time, really relaxing, lovely escape from reality & great value. My first but not last time on P&O. 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Sail Date May 2013
I have wanted to go on a cruise for as long as I can remember but have never had the opportunity before so when a fabulous offer price coincided with half term ( I work in a school) and my mother in law offered to have the kids, it was too ... Read More
I have wanted to go on a cruise for as long as I can remember but have never had the opportunity before so when a fabulous offer price coincided with half term ( I work in a school) and my mother in law offered to have the kids, it was too good an opportunity to turn down. I was a little concerned before we went as the price seemed very low for what was included and I thought the ship might be over run with kids as it was half term. Having decided to leave ours at home I didn't really want to spend the 5 days getting irritated by other peoples children. However I couldn't have been more wrong. Although there were apparently 600 children on board I didn't really notice and the children we did encounter were incredibly well behaved and polite. I half wished we had taken ours along too as the facilities for children seemed excellent.Embarkation was incredibly smooth. We had paid for port parking with CPS and were very impressed with this service. We had to wait approximately 30 mins in a queueing system before we were processed. This was very efficient. Once you get out of your car your cases are whisked off in one direction and your car in another. It's then a few paces into the terminal where you wait to be issued with your cruise card. We couldn't fault this process at all.We got on board about 3pm and were able to go straight to our cabin which was located on B deck (level 11) and had a balcony. It was very spacious and had a fridge and tea and coffee making facilities.We had asked for 1st sitting club dining but were in fact giving 2nd sitting in the Saffron restaurant. The disadvantage of this was that we could only see one show in the evenings as they seemed to run two slots 8:30 and 10:30 when all the shows rotated. An earlier sitting would mean you could take fuller advantage of all the entertainment. However eating later meant that we could skip lunch and have afternoon tea (at 3:30) then not feel too full for dinner. We did this on both of our port days when we left the ship at around 10am and arrived back before 3pm.The restaurant staff were incredibly helpful. My husband has several food intolerances and they were great at adapting the food for him. We thought he might have quite restricted choice but in fact they were happy to adapt anything he choose from the menu. He was giving the lunch and dinner menus the night before and choose in advance. They even made sure that there were specially adapted cakes and sandwiches available every afternoon for afternoon tea whether we went or not. Because of my husbands dietary requirements we didn't try any of the other restaurants. We were more than happy with the saffron. We were sat on a table for 7 at dinner, this was great as you got to know some of your fellow passengers quite well and could swap stories of your day each evening. We were sat with similarly aged people and discovered on the last night that we all came from the Coventry area, spooky.Bruges was a joy. Being cruise novices we weren't sure whether to book excursions or not but after a little research decided to 'do it ourselves'. It was so easy (& cheap). A free shuttle bus was provided to the local town of Blakenburg. From there it was a 10 minutes train ride, trains are 1 an hour and it cost 5.60E return. Bruge train station is about a 15 minute walk from the market square but it is a lovely walk and there is so much to see on the way. I would very much like to go back to Bruge. People told us the canal boat trip is well worth doing. We just had a lovely wander round in the unexpected sunshine, ate waffles and bought chocolates, delicious. Getting back to the boat was equally easy and we returned in time for afternoon tea.Our sea day was gloriously sunny so we shunned the talks, movies and other entertainment in preference of sitting in the sun and reading. There were lots of waiting staff around on deck ready to take your drinks orders, my criticism of this would be that if you just want the free tea, coffee and water you need to walk down to the beachside and waterside restaurants at the back of the boat. It would have been useful to have more places where you could get water, particularly on hot days. Our experience of bar waiting staff was that they were very efficient and returned relatively quickly with your drinks order.I thought the entertainment was good, I don't think it's what you get if you were to go to the west end but it was very entertaining and there was a good variety. We saw one show in the theatre and a comedian in Havana and well as various singers in bars around the ship.One of the nicest aspects of the cruise was meeting lots of different people at meals and in the bars. It felt like a very social way of holidaying. I wouldn't have any reservations in asking to be sat on a large table again and people we met who had dined alone said they wished they'd asked for a larger table.It was a bit overcast in Guernsey. We had to wait about 30 mins for our tender and left the ship about 10am. Crossing was a little choppy but not too bad. We just went to the occupation museum in St Peter Port and then had a wander around town. If I went again I might do the round Guernsey bus. I think Guernsey would be better enjoyed in the sunshine. Didn't have to wait to get back on the boat just walked straight onto a tender and left.We talked to a few people about disembarkation on the boat and decided as we didn't have much luggage the best thing to do would be to do it ourselves. This was incredibly easy. We walked straight off at 7:45, picked up our car key and drove straight out of the port with no queues. Definitely the easy stress free option. We were home (in Cambridge) by 10am.Obviously as a first timer I have nothing to compare our cruise to but we thoroughly enjoyed it and would not hesitate to book another with P&O Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My wife and I had a wonderful first time trip on-board the Ventura from the 7th to the 14th April 2013. Overall, we were extremely pleased with the ship and staff and truthfully, could not find much to complain about. We were pleasantly ... Read More
My wife and I had a wonderful first time trip on-board the Ventura from the 7th to the 14th April 2013. Overall, we were extremely pleased with the ship and staff and truthfully, could not find much to complain about. We were pleasantly surprised that the holiday was so good and this was in part because we had been unnerved by some of the reviews we had read from other passengers and so expected the worst. That is not to say that other reviewers did not have valid points or that they had in any way fabricated their complaints or grievances. However, I think we paid too much attention to some reviews which unfortunately negatively influenced us before we had even set foot aboard Ventura. In brief, here is our summary of our trip: 1. Embarkation -- we were astounded at how smoothly this process was! Before we knew what was going on, our baggage had been whisked away and our car driven off. We had been 'processed' and were on-board the ship having lunch within an hour. Very well done. Disembarkation was equally smooth (although we heard several passengers grumbling about delays). 2. The ship, having just been refurbished was very clean and orderly. All the public spaces were well attended and our cabin (inside, forward) was well appointed and clean. There was a very noticeable 'new carpet smell' in the corridors and it was apparent that much cleaning / paining / varnishing had taken place. No complaints. 3. Food. Overall, really good quality throughout. We had fixed dining (late) in the Cinnamon restaurant and we felt that the food and service was impeccable. No waiting. The buffet restaurant served good food -- however, it was like 'whacky races' at times trying to get your meal whilst navigating through the crowds. We don't feel that the food service area was anywhere near big enough to accommodate the throughput of diners carrying trays. Additionally (and this is something that P&O officials might like to take notice of), the ship really needs to get rid of so many large tables and bring in MANY MORE tables for two / four. It was difficult to find a table - and when you did, it was usual for one person to 'guard it' whilst the other selected their meal. Often, if a couple sat at a table for eight for example, they jealously protected their space and made it clear that other diners were not welcome to share (even families). Unbelievably, on one occasion, a man approached my wife declaring that the table was his. My wife replied that there was no-one sitting there when she arrived - to which he proclaimed that he had left a glass on the table to mark his territory! A solitary, dirty glass - enough said! Afternoon tea was something we looked forward to. However, it was frequently 'spoiled' by people almost stampeding into the restaurant, in the desperate hope of being able to sit at a table for the exact number of diners in their party. We had the impression that people were not happy to be sat with strangers. 4. Public areas. All areas were generally well kept with plenty of waiters. Some were friendlier than others though. Drinks were 'pushed' a lot, although the service was efficient if you wanted a drink. When we began the cruise, there seemed to be a mad scramble for the crew to get your attention. For example, promoting wine drinks packages or Spa therapy sessions. We did not find this overwhelming; however, it could have put some passengers off. For the rest of the ships amenities, we really enjoyed the gym and used it daily (not that we are fitness fanatics!). Because of the poor weather, we did not go on deck a great deal and so did not use the pools (plenty of kids seemed to enjoy though!). Cannot comment about the sun loungers as we did not use. 5. Entertainment. As a couple in our forties, we found this to be 'mixed'. On the one hand, the two big shows in the Arena were splendid (this is the type of thing we had experienced on other ships every night of the voyage) however, as mentioned, there were only two on the Ventura and we would have loved more. There were a number of singers such as a Phil Collins tribute and also a big band music singer. Very competent, but 'not our scene'. Additionally, there was a comedian on offer who again was competent, but perhaps who appealed to (dare I say it) the older passengers. P & O cannot please everyone and so we cannot reasonably condemn them for entertainment that did not live up to our personal expectations. 6. Ports of call. We enjoyed La Coruna and Vigo. Very easy to explore straight from the ship. Lisbon at first could put people off as there was a lot of graffiti. However, once you have 'acclimatised' to the city, it was safe and interesting. Oporto was abandoned as the sea conditions were too rough to dock. 7. Lastly, tipping. From talking to other cruisers on Ventura, we can see that this is a vexed subject. One or two people were indignant when money was taken and appeared on their on-board account (I think we paid about £50 per couple for the 7 days). P & O say they take this money to be distributed throughout all the crew -- not just those with public facing roles such as the waiters (by default, we cannot distribute tips to crew that we haven't seen). On the one hand, we understand this. However, we think the crux of the problem is that many of us like to be given the choice whom to tip and not to have this choice made for us by the holiday company. One comment we heard frequently was that P & O should pay all crew a decent wage so that passengers should not have to subsidise them as the cruise was expensive enough. We are in two minds about that. Anyway, we paid the automatic gratuity added to our on-board account -- and also tipped extra to the wine waitress, the servers in the restaurant and of course the cabin steward. My wife and I could not walk away without leaving a small token. Would we go on a P & O cruise again? Yes, without doubt. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. Within minutes our bags were taken from us and due to mobility was amazed, taken straight to checkin desk and within 15 minutes we were standing in our cabin C431 a twin with shower and balcony. We decided to leave the unpacking till after we had a walk around the ship. What a lady, Ventura had just come back from having her refit. Atrium was bright and airy. Onboard shops were easy to find, walk around and noone jumped on you as soon as you entered the shop ( one of my pet hates. We found most of the places for Dining, the Orangery was already very busy. We had booked with the knowledge we would be given a dining time and table on reaching our cabin. We were on MDR 2nd sitting in Saffron. And so we set sail. We missed the sail away party as we were unpacking. Our cabin was spacious and we had everything we needed. Our cabin steward Winston, was fantastic once we had told him we were first time cruisers. Our nights on board were 2 Black tie. 2 smart casual and 3 casual. We loved the thought of getting dressed for dinner. The meals were very good, waiters very experienced and helpful. We had no issues with the food and rarely ate lunch as we either on an excursion or had a light snack in the Orangery. Eating in the orangery was a little ruff as the few times we ate there reminded us of school caffateria. We ate in the White room one evening, and both the food and the staff were lovely. We had pre-booked 3 excursions as the last one was full, but we were told via the excursion team, we had seats for the Flam railway. Our ports of call in the Norwegian Fjords were Stavanger. Flam, Olden and Bergen. What wonderful sights, to stand on the pier without a coat on to looking up to snow capped Mountains. Excursion were very good. One or two "Eek" moments on the coach going up the mountain on very narrow roads, I swear at one point some of the coach was hanging over a 70mtre drop. On the whole we really enjoyed our excursions. The entertainment was fair as I had been expecting full scenery, lighting and Broadway show so I was a little disappointed with the shows, however we saw the Chapman Brothers twice, only one we liked. There were children on the cruise and most were very polite and courteous, mind u is till cannot understand young, fit children who take the lift to go up or down one floor!!! Overall we were very impressed with the service. Staff very very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed it so much we have recently returned from a 14 night Baltic cruise on the Aurora, but that's another tale. Well done all the staff on Ventura for its them that make or break a cruise Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed ... Read More
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed to front of terminal where our cases were loaded onto a trolley and whisked away, the car was then whisked away in the opposite direction Embarkation Very smooth and quick. Arrived at the Terminal at 12.10pm and we were in our cabin by 1.00pm. Airports could learn a thing or two. We went for a wander around the ship for about an hour and on returning to the cabin our cases had been delivered. We found our way around the ship pretty easily within first couple of days. If you get lost go to Deck 7 - as you can get anywhere from there. Cabin - we had a Superior Deluxe Balcony on Desk 9 Aft. Have to say I chose this location even though Mid cabins were available, as we were close to most things (All the restaurants are Aft, as is The White Room, Metropolis Bar and Havana. The cabin was a good size, perfectly fine for 2 Adults and a Tall Teenager, we could have had one more in fairly easily. Balcony on D desk is overlooked from above but tbh this did not bother us Good wardrobe space. Comfy beds Our Steward Diogo looked after us beautifully Food/Drinks I have to say it was excellent. I have a few negatives to comment on but they are because Daughter is a insulin dependant diabetic and a Coeliac so we are have additional needs to most. And P&O were streets ahead of most places on offering GF so I do not in anyway want to put people off, just to be aware there were a few areas which could still be improved on for those with special requirements Dinner was superb for her. We did Club Dining as I knew have the same waiters each night would be helpful for our daughter. Every night Sangay the head waiter would present our daughter with the menu for the following day, she was able to choose ANYTHING* from the menu and it was adapted to be suitable for her to eat. And they bought her freshly baked GF rolls every night * - they could not however offer GF pasta which I thought was very strange as this is one of the easiest alternatives to offer Breakfast plenty of fruit, eggs, bacon, has browns and Gluten Free Bread. Small negative here were no Gluten Free Cereal on offer at all, it would also have been nice to see some GF sausages. You could however arrange GF pancakes with your waiter the night before. And for those Gluten eaters there were waffles etc on offer too We ate in the Bay Tree most mornings - as was nice to be relaxed with Table service, we generally got a table for 3, but on one occasion we were asked to join another party of 3 on a larger table, we had no issue with this but the woman at the table was so do rude about having to share a table that we asked to be moved. We also did the buffet a few mornings and that was fine Lunch A little more problematic, although the chef would always take us through what she could or could not have from the Buffet but it was limited, and they did make sure there was a GF dessert should she want one. Afternoon Tea - pretty much a No No, do not get me wrong it was lovely. Lots of little cakes, fresh scones etc. But almost nothing she could have at all. They have an on board bakery so a selection of GF cakes/scones would have been nice It could also be a little difficult getting a table for Lunch/Afternoon Tea, the use both Waterside and The Beach restaurants but it got confusing as they seem to close one half of the each restaurant at different points so you'd switch back and forth. Pizza/Burger/Hotdog Bar at the Laguna Pool - nothing suitable in GF The White Room - had a beautiful meal here. We only heard good things from everyone else who ate there as well. for the GF they just asked us to go up the following day and pick her meal, which was excellent. But be warned it gets booked v v quickly. None of the above was a huge issue, she always found something. But still some improvements could be made Drinks packages are a good idea for the kids. We paid £42.50 upfront for a drinks/ice cream card which entitled us to 20 (Large) soft drinks and 20 ice creams. We should also have got a free drinks bottle - but not one of the bars seem to have them, small issue but would have be nice for them to actually stock the bottles Alcohol - found this to be on par with most pubs here at home. Small Tip, buy a separate coke/lemonade for your mixer and just order your spirit, worked out better value as the soft drinks are in large glasses, where the mixer is a small can.We are not big drinkers but P&O do allow you to take some alcohol on board. We took a bottle of Malt and a few beers to enjoy on the balcony. Ports of call As mentioned our crossings was quite rough, with a few people suffering seaksickness - we took tablets each day and seemed to be OK though We did not do any excursions as we'd already researched and knew we could easily get into the towns from Port. However, we did not stop at Oporto because of bad weather - again did not spoil cruise as we spent day at Sea where the weather was lovely Entertainment In the main very good. One comedian who was not to my taste. But very good singers - Jayne Curry particularly excellent. Phil Collins Tribute, Rob Lewis also excellent. And a young man singing Big band hits/swing who again was excellent. Headliners, the on board company, did an excellent show Bars - you have a choice of everything from a "pub" - The Exchange. To the Bar Metropolis on Deck 19 (our personal favorite) Kids - very very well catered for. Over 700 on board and it never seemed like it. Did not see my Teen much at all, she went to Teen club on first night. made friends and was off. Great for me with my daughters medical needs, was they gave us a pager so that if she needed attention, they were able to contact us easily. Yes there were some kids being "badly behaved" But you get this everywhere and remember this is a family ship - noone should be complaining about children being on board. If you do not want kids around then go out of School Holidays, or to one of the Adult only ships Dress Codes - in the main this was adhered to. Was lovely to see the vast majority of people in their formal wear for the 2 nights - even most of the children. There were a few who chose not to follow the dress code, which was fine, but they stuck out more and were unable to use some of the bars that night. Staff for me these were the Highlight of the cruise. Kat, Rob and Jamie from the entertainment team were excellent Diogo our Steward was also excellent Prodip and Sangay our head waiters - simply superb Sohail and Arun our dinner waiters, were simply outstanding And Godip our wine waiter was just the best. A lot of the staff are employed out of Mumbai or Goa and they could totally teach staff in the UK a think or two about service with a smile. They work incredibly long hours, and yet still always found the time to be pleasant. The other Negative was I booked this cruise as Marco Pierre White was supposed to be on board to do some talks. Well he never turned up, and despite repeatedly asking, no-one could explain why. In fact most staff seemed to be oblivious to the fact he was supposed to be on board - so for me this was very very disappointing. We were however lucky enough to have Rachel Allen the well known Irish cook/baker on board. She gave a lovely talk, and also signed copies of her book for us all So I really enjoyed by first cruise, would any of the negatives stop me returning... No.......... I just would not booked a cruise to see M.P.W. again !! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We left from Southampton had 3 days at sea then arrived in Madeira.This was followed by another 5 days at sea to then arrive in the BVI Tortola .Each day then in another island, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and finally ending in Barbados.We ... Read More
We left from Southampton had 3 days at sea then arrived in Madeira.This was followed by another 5 days at sea to then arrive in the BVI Tortola .Each day then in another island, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and finally ending in Barbados.We had at cabin B 755 overlooking the stern which was fabulous watching the wake of the ship and star gazing at night. The ship was very busy , 3000+ clients, so sometimes there were not enough seats to watch the show in the Arena theatre so some people had to finish 2nd sitting dinner early in order to get a seat. The sunbeds were incerdibly close together in som eplaces but there were probably enough, not all in the shade though. The Captains cocktail party was a farce as it was held in the Atrium so ther were 1500 peole attending .I did not speak to anyone as it was so squished , you could hardly hold your drink, so I didn't think that was very well planned. The trips we went on in Tortola and Antigua and Grenada were all very goo and value for money and in St Lucia, we found a tour on this website who were excellent. Weather was hot ,showers at times but soon disappeared.Fodd was very good and waiters were excellent and we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We booked this cruise 10 months in advance because of cost and destinations. The size of the ship was at first daunting but we quickly aclimatised. All staff were very efficient from the time of checking in to disembarkation and flight ... Read More
We booked this cruise 10 months in advance because of cost and destinations. The size of the ship was at first daunting but we quickly aclimatised. All staff were very efficient from the time of checking in to disembarkation and flight home from Barbados. it was the first time we had a cabin with a balcony and we just loved it. We spent many an hour, particularly when we wanted to escape the crowds on deck, on our balcony. Having the balcony gave us more choices of what to do with our day whether on deck, on shore or lazing with a glass of wine in the privacy of our balcony. The only negative comment is that the bathroom smelt of damp cloth all the time. We reported it but nothing was ever done about it. Live shows were fantastic and of the highest quality. The meals served in all the restuarants, we attended, were supurb. The crowds, particularly at lunchtime, that gathered in the buffet restuarants were not too bad provided you had the patience to wait for a table. We never had to wait long for food or a table. The only negative comment in this regard would be towards those selfish passengers who after completing their meal would continue to sit and chat or read their books. We chose 2nd sitting for supper at a table for 6 and what a pleasure this was. Meeting and comparing notes every evening with well travelled and fun people. Overall I am ready for my next cruise. Well done P&O! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Sailed from Southampton to The Caribbean on a 19 day cruise, and have I to say was very impressed with this ship, there was something is always going on! With twelve places to eat, including three main restaurants, as well as a wine bar, a ... Read More
Sailed from Southampton to The Caribbean on a 19 day cruise, and have I to say was very impressed with this ship, there was something is always going on! With twelve places to eat, including three main restaurants, as well as a wine bar, a fine dining restaurant by Marco Pierre White, and a dedicated family restaurant where you can dine whenever you choose, day or night. You'll also find twelve places to drink, fantastic children's clubs, a lavish two-deck theatre and a tranquil spa, not to mention many quieter places to simply relax. It makes the 5 day sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean very enjoyable, the ship was very clean and the crew was very friendly, the food was some of the best we have had on all of our cruises, cabin was very nice, a nice size, and balcony was also a good size, the cabin girl was really friendly, keeping our ice bucket filled constantly, turning down our bed every night and leaving cute towel animals on our bed, chocolates on the pillows every night, and nothing was too much for her, The shows were very good, compared to what I have seen on other ships. and the pool parties were great, was onboard over Halloween, so enjoyed the halloween pool party, drinks and cocktails were a good price, on par with what you would pay in the pubs back home, and the staff were very relaxed about taking your own drink on board, the Caribbean was lovely as always, been a few times now, particularly liked Barbados, and their lovely rum cake, I would definitely go on this ship again Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
After an excellent Weekend visiting Longleat House and Safari Park we traveled to Holiday Inn Express which in our opinion is betterthan Premier In Although further from the Port. We arrived at the port at 10-30 there was a delay and we ... Read More
After an excellent Weekend visiting Longleat House and Safari Park we traveled to Holiday Inn Express which in our opinion is betterthan Premier In Although further from the Port. We arrived at the port at 10-30 there was a delay and we were lined up in car park for 30 minutes. After this we had an excellent embarkation. Stateroom was available as soon as we had lunch We were in P340 which is accessable with a wet room, Inside but next toCosta Coffee, very central. Dinner companions were a delight!!! They put up with Ann being fed her Dinner (this has put some people off in the past and they never returned to the table) Food was very good throughout the cruise both in dining room and waterside. The ENTERTAINMENT WAS A GOOD MIX OF musicals type shows by the HEADLINERS and cabaret singers and classical music. There were many children on board, many more than you would expect in Term time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We were all looking forward to our cruise, and it certainly did not disappoint! The ship was fantastic in the main, and the facilities excellent. We normally holiday in the UK in Bournemouth or Centre Parcs and was worried about some of ... Read More
We were all looking forward to our cruise, and it certainly did not disappoint! The ship was fantastic in the main, and the facilities excellent. We normally holiday in the UK in Bournemouth or Centre Parcs and was worried about some of the negative reviews about CHAVS and Butlins at sea. However I found the fellow cruisers to be not at all like that. I would book the cruise again today if they were to repeat it, however I have checked and they are not, not even in 2013! We chose Freedom Dining and were allocated Cinnamon. The food was excellent in the main dining room, and the service was very good. I chose Gluten Free meals and in Cinnamon the request was well taken care of, the head waiter taking my order each night for the following day to allow the chef to prepare it in advance. I researched on here before we went and was glad to have discovered afternoon tea, really enjoyed it on the ship, again gluten free sandwiches, and some cakes too! Although the buffets served a purpose when returning from shore I would always have eaten in Cinnamon given a choice as I found it much nicer food, just wish we had been around to try lunch in Cinnamon too. The cocktails we had were nice, however I found if you went to the bar directly the strength of the cocktail increased remarkably compared to ordering it from your sun lounger! We travelled independently to Bruges using Ronys Taxi, it cost only 95 euros for 7 of us return and was amazing value compared to the tours, and dropped us straight to the market place. They were reasonably prompt however the driver on the return drove far too fast, if anyone uses Ronys Taxi and the driver number is 00066 be afraid, very afraid! We all felt relieved to be back at the ship. Le Havre was much better than we expected, the weather made it being around 30 degrees. We got the shuttle to town which was quick and easy, and spent some hours around the beach which was really nice. Great choice of beach bars where we enjoyed several drinks. Guernsey was great for a few hours too we walked to Castle Cornet, and around St Peters Port again the weather made it, not a cloud in sight and around 30 degrees again. Our cabin was spotlessly clean, James the steward kept nipping in, changing towels, making the beds up, it seemed like he checked it nearly every time we left it. I was concerned about our cabin allocation, we got allocated D123 first, and I got it changed due to the many bad reviews of that cabin for noise, however we were certainly no better in E116 and we got woken numerous times the last two nights with staff bounding up the staff metal stairway that was next to our cabin. I reported it in the morning the first time, but they were a bit dismissive as I had not rang them as the noise was occurring. I did not want to wake my daughter up however the first night. The night manager came down the second night as I called reception, and explained the problem, its a main route to the bridge apparently for crew. It was really noisy shoes clanking up and down metal steps. He offered to move us but since it was 11.30pm final night thought it would be less disruptive to stay put as was not looking forward to a 6 hour drive after a changing cabin. That was the only real negative to a wonderful holiday however. I will follow it up with P and O. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We stayed overnight the Premier Inn at Southampton. On Sunday morning we went down to the docks and had the first site of the Ventura which seemed absolutely enormous. We were immediately directed to an area where our car was booked in and ... Read More
We stayed overnight the Premier Inn at Southampton. On Sunday morning we went down to the docks and had the first site of the Ventura which seemed absolutely enormous. We were immediately directed to an area where our car was booked in and the luggage taken by a porter, after the car keys were handed over the car was taken by CPS to a secure car park. We entered the embarkation lounge and we were given a card with a letter K and sat down to wait our turn which soon came then after booking in and having our photo taken we joined the queue to board the ship and were soon eating a lovely buffet lunch on board while waiting for our cabins to be ready. The call soon came to say they were ready and we went off to find it and were pleasantly surprised to see our luggage already inside and waiting for us. We had cabin C609 which was midships and had a balcony. The cabin was very clean but a little smaller than we imagined. The balconies on C deck are larger than the others and there was plenty of room to stretch on the two reclining chairs with footstools. The ship is enormous and we did get lost several times whilst on board but handily we had been given a map of the ship along with our cruise card which is used to pay for all goods and services on board along with being our cabin key. We mainly dined in the freedom restaurant on board which was Cinnamon and found the food to be excellent every time. We aren't used to dining in posh restaurants and didn't know if we would like it but we were soon put at ease. We asked the maitre d' for a table for two and he gave us a lovely table which we asked for every night and after a couple of days he remembered us and happily waved us straight to our preferred table. We did notice that some tables for two were on bench seats which were a little low so we were glad we hadn't been shown to one of them. Freedom dining is just that, you can choose the time you want to eat but we went more or less the same time every night. The waiters were very friendly and eager to please and make sure we had everything we wanted. A particular mention goes to our wine waiter Neil and food waiters Dominic and Sachin they were absolutely marvellous we can't praise them enough. Even though we had £40 each deducted for tips we gladly gave them an envelope each with a little extra to show our gratitude. The service in the restaurant was like a well oiled machine plenty of staff on duty all had their particular jobs and knew exactly what to do and the service was very quick. We went to the Ramblas Spanish restaurant one night and paid a supplement but were a little disappointed by the meal so didn't go back, we also went to the Beach House restaurant which is waiter service at night with a more traditional menu and although it was ok we missed the fine food in the main dining room. There were 4 formal nights which most people observed the rest were smart casual with a couple of themed nights. i.e. Black and white and Tropical. For breakfast and lunch we mainly used the buffet restaurant which was fine and we always managed to find a table. On a few occasions we ordered continental breakfast for our cabin to have on the balcony which was nice, we also had snacks a couple of times from room service and it was always good. We noticed in the buffet that there were always plenty of staff on duty and they were very busy clearing tables immediately they became vacant and keeping things generally clean and tidy. Our cabin steward was friendly and when asked if we could have ice and lemon she brought us some every day. The cabin was kept really nice and tidy as she came in twice a day to make beds and clean etc. We spent a lot of time sunbathing on deck and could generally find a sunbed although not always right beside the pool but that wasn't a problem. There are four pools on board with bars and the waiters will bring drinks to you at your sunbed while you relax. The bars on board are all waiter service but there are plenty of waiters around and we never had long to wait for a drink. We went to a few shows in the various venues, all of which were very good especially the musicals. The shore excursions were again very well organised and very enjoyable with local guides who always managed to make it enjoyable. The end of the holiday came all too soon and the disembarkation was as smooth as the embarkation, we had a card with a time when we could embark this was done with the minimum of effort and we wondered how on earth we would find our luggage amongst that of 3,000 other passengers but again P&O had obviously done it all before and the luggage was put in deck order so we just had to find the luggage from deck C and there it was waiting for us. Overall the cruise was marvellous, we would love to go again and wouldn't hesitate to use P&O and recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date June 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
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
Before I do a general overview of the cruise here is some useful information. The Inside cabin: The room was big enough to have two single beds pushed together to make a large kingsize bed yet there was still 18 inches either side to ... Read More
Before I do a general overview of the cruise here is some useful information. The Inside cabin: The room was big enough to have two single beds pushed together to make a large kingsize bed yet there was still 18 inches either side to get around the bed. There is small amount of light entering the room through the door air vent so it is not pitch black. The room has a hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities which are refilled a couple of times a day and there are also biscuits. The water from the tap in the bathroom is drinkable and we saved our 2 small bottles to refill with tap water to take to the sunbeds with us. You can buy small bottle of water for 80p or large bottles of spring water from Costa Coffee on deck 5. The bathroom is not huge but is functional and has enough room to move around. You also get towels for sunbeds so you don't need to take them with you. You store your cases under the beds and there is plenty of room Laundry and ironing: Not sure if this applies to all decks but there was washing and drying facilities on deck 11 which also has 2 ironing boards and steam irons. Shops: There are several shops on deck 6 and 7 midships near the atrium which sell clothes including Tuxedo jackets and dickie bows. You can buy paracetemol and tummy tablets etc and toiletries. There are jewellers on board with various kinds of jewelry and watches. Costa coffee is on deck 5 and has similar prices to home and don't forget to get your free piece of cake. Dining: When we booked 10 weeks before departure we opted for freedom dining but when we arrived we were allocated places on a table for 8 on second sitting. Apparently freedom dining was over subscribed so we could not have this option they did however put us on a table of 8 on first sitting in the Bay Tree when we requested a change and we had lovely company. What we did not realise is that if you opt for freedom dining you can only use this option in the cinnamon restaurant. Our cruise experience. We used the CPS parking at the dockside at Southampton and the service was quick and efficient and cost £148 for 2 weeks. Having only been on one previous cruise on Island Star a few years ago we did not know what to expect. This cruise experience it has to be said was a cut above. The room was bigger and more comfortable the food in the restaurants was excellent although I have to admit that I felt the beach house and waterfront restaurants were a bun fight so we tried to avoid these after the first couple of days and had breakfast and lunch in the Saffron which was far more pleasant. The five course menu in the evening offered 3 choices of starter, 2 choices of soup, 5 choices of main course and 3 choices of sweet plus cheese and biscuits and coffee. After finishing dinner at 8pm we went to watch several of the shows in the Arena theatre . The Headliner theatre group put on some lovely shows of west end quality which lasted 45 mins. A couple of comedy shows including Mark Walker were excellent and his impressions of Liam Gallager and Billy Connelly were very funny. To ensure you get a seat make sure that you get to the theatre at least 20 mins before the show starts because they fill up quickly and the ship was under capacity by 400 passengers. First port of call was Cadiz on Day 4 which was a lovely town but to be honest we did not need to use the open top bus to get around it. As you come out of the gate there was an information desk with a useful map and it is easy to walk around. The second stop was Barcelona and again we did the Green route open top bus tour which takes around 70 mins but this is mainly due to stop start heavy traffic. Parc Guell was a nice place to see but be warned that where you get off the open top bus it is approximately 400 yds to walk up a fairly steep incline and free entry. Saw La Sagrada Familiar from the bus and it was very busy around the area. We then went onto the cathedral and Las Ramblas which was nice to walk around. Third Stop was Ville Franche which we had to land by Tender. This was quite efficient and we only had to wait 20 mins. Once there we picked up a map from the information desk and asked the ladies for directions to the bus for Nice. This is a 10 minute walk up hill to the bus stop. The number 100 runs apx every 15 mins and costs one euro. There are information screens on the bus showing where you are, we did not get off at the first bus stop but at the terminus which was one stop later and in the centre of Niece. Journey time is about 20 mins and you get the same bus back. A taxi will cost you 35 Euro each way. Nice is nice but not cheap. A 500ml bottle of coke from a news stand was 2.8 euro, a coffee and a beer on the promenade was 8.8 Euro. I liked Ville Franche it's a very pretty town. Stop 4 Civitavecchia Having done Rome before we stayed on the boat here. Stop 5 Livorno We did not do Pisa or Florence as again we had done this before but we did visit the town and it was pleasant to walk around the indoor market and have a coffee in one of the squares. From the shuttle bus drop off point it was about a 10-15 minute walk to the centre. Stop 6 Alicante This was a pleasant place to visit with a nice beach area and centre. Had a look around the modern art gallery which was free to enter and was quite interesting. Some nice buildings to see and the town is easy to walk around. Stop 7 Gibralter. Had a walk into Gibralter for some Duty Free alcohol and it is much cheaper than on the ship. The main street seemed to go on forever with Perfume, jewelry and duty free shops all over the place. To summarise we really enjoyed our cruise on Ventura and would certainly consider this trip in the future. Our cabin Steward Mack on deck 11 was wonderful and really took care of us. The drinks are reasonably priced and the entertainment and nightly quizzes were great fun. The holiday was made more special by the lovely people we met, including Ian ,Ann, Roz , Lisa, Vic and Val. Must not forget Jo from the entertainment team nice girl with a BIG personality. Some Technical Info The ship uses 96 gallons of fuel per mile at 17.8 Knots and can carry 3200 tonnes of fuel on board which is enough to travel 8400 miles. Our cruise was apx 4500 miles which mean we must have used over 400000 gallons of fuel so if you are bothered about your carbon footprint ????????. Ventura makes its own water from Seawater and can store 3 million litres in its 12 tanks. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
From the minute we stepped on the Eavesway coach from Preston we experienced first class service! The staff on Ventura were absolutely fantastic ALWAYS happy, polite, efficient and eager to be of service, such a refreshing change from the ... Read More
From the minute we stepped on the Eavesway coach from Preston we experienced first class service! The staff on Ventura were absolutely fantastic ALWAYS happy, polite, efficient and eager to be of service, such a refreshing change from the usual British service! Our cabin was spotless, and perfectly adequate, our cabin steward John made sure it remained so throughout our cruise. We opted for Freedom dining which meant that we sat with different people each meal, this was perfect for us and we had the pleasure of meeting lots of very nice and interesting people. The food was always beautifully presented, there was always a good choice of menu and it was always delicious! The only real criticism was the price of ordinary lager. The only draught lager was Stella Artois which my husband dislikes and so he had to settle for cans of lager which proved very expensive.....a 330ml can of carlsberg cost £3.50...that meant a pint cost £7.00 which was really quite outrageous when compared to Stella which cost half of that! The wines were nice, I drank Bili Bili Shiraz which was lovely and cost £17.95 per bottle, which is probably comparable to British restaurant prices. The entertainment on offer was very good, and the cinema offered some excellent films on the days we were at sea. We didn't use the pools because the weather wasn't brilliant but there was always plenty to do so that was no great hardship. Apparently there were about 700 children on board but the kids clubs must have been excellent because it never felt as if there were many children on board.....and those that we saw were very well behaved! Of the places we visited, our favourites were Monte Carlo and Barcelona. I had looked forward to our tour of the Vatican on Easter Saturday but unfortunately it was so busy and overcrowded we were just pushed along with the crowds and not allowed to stop and browse the beautiful art work.....there was actually no enjoyment, it was all just too uncomfortable! I think most passengers were surprised and disappointed that our stopover in Cadiz was suddenly changed to Gibralter.....we're still not sure about why the decision was made...apparently it had something to do with paying VAT if we did not visit a non EU country ???? All in all we had a fantastic time on the beautiful Ventura, and despite the few negative comments, we really loved our time on the cruise and will certainly be cruising with P&O again....in fact we have already paid our deposit! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft cabin was lovely, except for the broken drawer, and had a large balcony. Tea and coffee making facilities were a boon and very welcome early morning, whilst getting ready for dinner and late at night before retiring. Socorro, our cabin steward, kept everything ship shape except for the broken drawer which attempted to kick me several times. Oh and did I mention the frilled half moon balcony mat which tripped me up a couple of times. I moved it. Not all the service staff had read P & O's 'be friendly to the cruisers' booklet but on average they were fine even if some appeared preoccupied or fed up. Maybe they were thinking of the Caribbean, who wouldn't, the ship's next destination. The food was lovely and varied. However I never got a piece of decent toast or a fried egg to my liking. Must have gone to the Buffet at the wrong time, so my fault both were elusive. We didn't partake of all the entertainment but what we saw was really good. Booked three trips out and all were great. Although I prefer smaller cruise ships, with no broken drawers or frilled mats, I would travel on Ventura again if the itinery was right. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My husband and I sailed on Ventura in September to the Med. We cannot understand some of the reviews that have been put on this site, only that these people were on a different cruise to us! The food on this cruise was amazing - how ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on Ventura in September to the Med. We cannot understand some of the reviews that have been put on this site, only that these people were on a different cruise to us! The food on this cruise was amazing - how anyone can say the portions were small is beyond me - the food in the restaurants excellent and if you wanted more, you only had to ask! From what I saw on some peoples plates, not many people went hungry!! The service in the restaurant - we used Saffron - was also excellent - thanks to our waiter Newby who was always one step ahead when filling our glasses, etc. The cabin was lovely, cleaned and tidied twice a day by our cabin attendant, Orlando, who always had a smile and a kind word. It was always fully stocked with tea, coffee and biscuits, with a chocolate at night! We only went on one excursion - we did our own thing at other ports - but this again, was well organised, with a knowledgeable guide - the cost of the excursions was also a lot cheaper than other cruise lines. I do not normally write reviews on holidays, but really felt I had to put forward a realistic view. Why go on a lovely cruise and then come home and moan .............. some people will never be happy! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Super ship but disappointed with Itinerary. Just five Ports to visit in 12 days Initial three days at sea before reaching Barcelona frankly seemed too long. Why for example pass Vigo, Lisbon,Malaga, or even Palma and forge on all the ... Read More
Super ship but disappointed with Itinerary. Just five Ports to visit in 12 days Initial three days at sea before reaching Barcelona frankly seemed too long. Why for example pass Vigo, Lisbon,Malaga, or even Palma and forge on all the way to Barcelona cannot comprehend the thinking behind this. On the plus side the Entertainment particularly the Dancers and Singers were truly awesome. They put on a breathtaking show every night each one on a different theme. The Costumes and sets on a par with any West End Production. Comedians and Solo acts also very good. The Lectures were first class. But dear oh dear the Dining Room was a monumental disappointment. The word miniscule would best describe the size of every portion no matter what the dish on offer. Certainly one did not have to watch one`s weight when tackling the Menu this had been taken care of for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
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 after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with ... Read More
This was our first cruise after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with P&Oafter seeing an advert in the newspaper severalweeks earlier and getting what we felt was a very good deal. Before travelling we were in two minds after reading the many reviews some of which were and are very damning. We wished we had booked a ship that catered for adults after reading about Chavs and children but at least we were outside main school holiday periods (exc Scotland). We stayed o/n in Southampton and woke up to beautiful weather on departure Saturday. The whole embarkation process was first class, much less stressful than flying and by mid day we wer sitting on deck enjoying a drink and light lunch. We had been allocated an inside cabin at random. This turned out to be at the rear of the ship. we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cabin which afforded us everything we needed and was very well looked after by our cabin steward Priyal consistently. no complaints at all. Our cases appeared outside our room swiftly with no issues. Throughout our trip we found the standard of cleanliness around the ship excellent. Of course from time to time there were dishes and glasses on tables but we found these generally to be cleared away quickly, certainly as quick as in pubs etc at home and similarly the restaurant dishes were removed promptly. Having familiarised ourselves with the ship in early days we found the decks to be easily accessible and although it has to be said the crowded nature of the main swimming pools was not to our liking (sunbeds generally unavailable) we did find that in the adults area at the front of the ship we could generally find a place to sunbathe without reserving beds with towels at all. Quite often we sat on deck 7 (the only deck that circumnavigates the ship)and found occasional joggers and walkers no problem and certainly no bumping and banging as reported elsewhere. We did attend the Gym which we found to be excellent and with equipment of a high standard. we joined up for the spa area at the beginning of our cruise but at £90 found this to be poor value as we hardly used the facility. Similarly we had a massage treatment which, whilst good, was quite expensive. It was only the Scottish kids on the cruise (perhaps we would avoid Scottish school holidays too) but generally if you accept that Children will be children we had no problems. The food was a real success. We ate in The Bayleaf Restaurant on a table for 2 second sitting. The food and service was superd throughout. For breakfast we chose to eat in one of the main service restaurants as the buffet style restaurants tended to get crowded at peak times with free tables at a premium. that didnt suit us although when we did eat there the food was again excellent. we upgraded twice to the White Romm for dinner and found the experience excellent value for money. We were very surprised by the drinks. English pub prices were the norm so no rip off there. A great selection of bars for every taste and as with all areas of the ship we found staff very efficient cheerful and customer friendly. Much better than our normal experience at home. We found the dress code to be part of the experience and enjoyed the formal nights very much. Everybody seemed to adhere to it and in fairness, being a keen football fan myself, I saw hardly any football shirts during the day (I can remember one Burnly shirt on an adult and maybe a Leeds one) apart from the kids who you expect to wear them. Overall our fellow holidaymakers left a very good impression which is some feat with over 3000 strangers sharing the facilities for 2 weeks. We only partook of one trip-the trip to florence which we found to be good and very informative although the heat in July was oppressive. The rest of the time we ventured out ourselves. The Monaco excursion was difficult as it took us soom time to get off the ship but we understand the cause to be a combination of the rough bay and busy nature of the port, something that is perhaps outside P&O control. The queue to get back to the ship in mid afternoon was horrendous and with no shelter but we merely walked the short distance to a bar, cooled down with a drink or two and returned when the queue was merely 10 deep! We were disappointed not to get to Gibralter but there is plenty of free entertainment available on the ship that we were able to take advantage of. The activities/entertainment on the ship were varied and we enjoyed the organisation of it all. Communication was excellent with the daily newsletter alerting in advance of the following days activities. Having had some reservations before we went we found a lot of the negative comment to be untrue on our cruise. We both thoroughly enjoyed it as did everyone we spoke to, some of whom had travelled on The Ventura before. We will certainly travel with P&O again and it probably wont be on the Ventura purely because we will want to try another ship. We started with a clean slate and open mind and had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
As a Family with two secondary school age boys we are tied to the summer holidays and as such price has increasingly become an issue,we have previously visited Florida but it was going to cost £8000 this time, so we thought we would try a ... Read More
As a Family with two secondary school age boys we are tied to the summer holidays and as such price has increasingly become an issue,we have previously visited Florida but it was going to cost £8000 this time, so we thought we would try a P&O cruise having been recommended by a friend. We booked a 14 night Mediterranean cruise on Ventura departing 30.07.11, a year in advance as we were advised that Famly cabins would go quickly and certain discounts/free parking were included.However as the time approached for the cruise I noticed that P&O were discounting and offering free balcony upgrades in order to fill the ship. I contacted P&O asking if we could change our obstructed view cabin for a balcony cabin etc, we were informed we could but would have to cancel our origional cruise and re-book with a £500+ cancellation fee charge. Having already paid just over £5000 for the cruise I didn't want to spend anymore so left it as it was but felt annoyed before even setting foot on Ventura.We travelled down to Southampton the night before and stopped at the Novotel Hotel being very close to the terminal.The following morning we arrived at the terminal and were quickly dealt with by CPS parking staff who removed our cases to the Ventura and removed our car to a secure parking area,the collection process after the cruise was also very efficient.We then went into the terminal which has an airport feel,but unlike an airport within ten minutes we had been seen by very polite staff/processed and entered Ventura, being sent to the Waterside restaurant on deck 15 whilst awaiting the cabins to be prepared.Initially as all passengers were sent there it was very busy but we had our first taste of Ventura food which was very good.The Waterside and Beach Hut restaurants on deck 15 are self serve and one or the other is usually open, we did find however that they felt a bit tired around the edges compared to the Bay Tree and Saffron restaurants which is where we mainly dined during our cruise, both these restaurants are waiter service and are very clean with excellent staff and food.We had opted for Club Dining and took the second sitting in the Bay Tree,for our 6 course evening meal. Having eaten in a number of quality restaurants over the years I would say that the evening meal you receive would attract a price of £50 a head in a similar land based restaurant, given this and all the food you receive on board I quickly appreciated the value for money the cruise offered, this before you consider entertainment etc. My initial grumble about cabin upgrades soon evaporated as we settled into cruise life.With regards to entertainment there is always something going on and to suit all tastes, we were most impressed with the ship's 'HEADLINERS' who put on a number of westend style shows.During the day and especially sea days there is a large choice of activities,you can use the gym,health spa,cinema,go to a talk ie photography/history talk/wine tasting etc. My two boys were kept busy with the REEF youth programme,drama,circus skills etc,there really was something for everyone. With regards to land excursions we did find them very expensive, we only went on one being a trip to Rome this was £177 for a family of 4, we usually made our own way to other tourist spots, ie PISA,we took a coach from the Livorno Tourist Information Centre which worked out at 65 euro's return to Pisa as apose to £108 for the P&O Pisa coach. One of the best days was Monaco, the Ventura moored just off the harbour area and transported us from the ship using the ships lifeboats,it was great to just take in the sights and sounds of Monaco and Monte Carlo,especially the numerous boats/ships/supercars. Port Review:  Alicante was typical coastal Spain, reasonable seafront,lots of shoe and jewellery shops, nothing special but okay for a leg stretch. Although we enjoyed going ashore it was always nice to return to the Ventura especially for afternoon tea Saffron restaurant 16.00hrs, would I cruise on the Ventura again, you bet. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
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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