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149 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

I'll get my moan out of the way first ! We booked the cruise last January, specifically for the overnight stop in the centre of Amsterdam, to allow us to easily come and go from the ship, and venture back into the city for the ... Read More
I'll get my moan out of the way first ! We booked the cruise last January, specifically for the overnight stop in the centre of Amsterdam, to allow us to easily come and go from the ship, and venture back into the city for the "night life". A month after our booking, we were told that for "operational reasons" we would now be stopping at Ijmuiden overnight Instead, and being coached in an hour each way. A few months later we were told the schedule had changed, and we would not sail the first day but rather go straight to Ijmuiden, so we didn't arrive at 8am but rather at 10.30am, so we didn't get into Amsterdam until 12 noon. This cocked up our plans and we were given the option to cancel but lose our deposit, and not given the option to pay the tax ourselves. A bit of investigation identified that the operational reason was that Amsterdam have introduced an €8 per person tax, and they aren't willing to be dictated to, but despite repeated e mails and calls they aren't willing to admit this. There is no way that the fuel used sailing there faster, the coaches through the night, and the 385 nautical miles sailed before our next port ( 100 miles away) make this a good decision for anyone. Now that I have got that off my chest, the rest of the break was excellent ! We went on Ventura a couple of years ago, and it has had a refit since, so all the public areas are well maintained. We have been on a couple of TUI cruises since we last went on P&O a year ago, so have something to compare them to. Without any doubt the decor and the food quality / choice on P&O is better, with more in the way of activities. However, the standard of service is far below that of TUI, and has dropped since we last sailed P&O (since the dropped the tipping?). It's not that it's poor service, it's more that it is just functional, and there is no attempt to interact with passengers, which does have a big impact on the atmosphere onboard. The show team at night of drama school kids were of as high a standard as we have seen at sea, and all their shows were excellent. I can't say the same for the other entertainment that came an left the ship, who unfortunately appeared more than once, especially the comedienne. Our stop at Bruges was very good, but unfortunately our stop at Guernsey was cancelled due to high winds preventing the launch of the tenders. I can't vouch for its accuracy, but other passengers said that it was the fifth time this year that they have aborted the port, which makes you ask why they bother if this is the case. Embarkation at Southampton was speedy, as was our disembarkation which went very smoothly an hour ahead of schedule. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Our August/September Golden Anniversary Cruise was on P & O’s Ventura, a ship on which we have travelled before, in fact it was on our first cruise just 2 years ago. We chose the itinerary primarily because the date of our ... Read More
Our August/September Golden Anniversary Cruise was on P & O’s Ventura, a ship on which we have travelled before, in fact it was on our first cruise just 2 years ago. We chose the itinerary primarily because the date of our anniversary was mid-cruise and the week-long itinerary included the island where we had our honeymoon back in September 1969, Guernsey, where we could relive all the fond memories of our time there. We had very high hopes since we love Ventura and I had pre-booked a meal in the Epicurean , the ship’s specialist fine-dining restaurant, on the night of our anniversary. That meal was spectacular and the staff were amazing. Apart from being delicious, the food was so imaginative – how about fried custard on your dessert? It was a really lovely surprise, believe me. So, Ventura scores very highly in terms of food and service including the excellent support my wife has for her special dietary needs, and our super cabin steward, Morris. Unfortunately, it was not the cruise we had hoped for in respect of the shore experiences. The first disappointment was to be told, in advance, that we would not be berthing in Amsterdam but at the distant port of Ijmuiden and that a bus shuttle service would be provided. At the time I received the notification I guess I wasn’t too concerned because I hadn’t visited Amsterdam before and didn’t know what impact those arrangements would have on our time there. We were given the usual ‘operational reasons’ excuse. Because details were not divulged, everyone, and I mean everyone, I spoke with believed it was down to the tax imposed on cruise ship passengers. I wonder how much money was spent on the shuttle services and how passenger experiences were thereby enhanced. Come on P & O! Amsterdam is a fascinating city for loads of reasons. It is just the sort of destination that really benefits cruise visitors when they are able to pop on and off of their ship at will. Sadly, a bus shuttle that took between 40 minutes and over an hour in each direction killed that opportunity. Equally, long delays waiting, in blazing sunshine (well at least we had that!), for return shuttles that got stuck in heavy traffic was not the most pleasant experience other than for sun worshippers! This problem must have been known of in advance and precautions taken to alleviate the misery. This was particularly an issue on our first day when we had booked an evening canal excursion that meant we had to ‘shuttle’ back to the ship in order to pick up the excursion bus to travel back in again, thus cutting our time in Amsterdam on our own severely. The actual excursion was great and you can imagine that we really dug into the cheese and wine provided, especially the wine. However, the real disappointment came when we arrived at Guernsey. I queued early to get a reasonable tender time and was given two spaces on the first tender departure. We were thrilled to have such a long time ashore to relive all those wonderful memories. The thrill was quickly stifled when the captain announced that the winds were too severe to operate the tenders although he would ‘hang around’ for half an hour because the forecast was that the winds would reduce. No such luck because, after 30 minutes had elapsed, we were told that it was too dangerous to operate the tenders. We were both so upset, my wife in particular. I am well aware that safety of passengers is paramount and I cannot take issue with P & O over the decision. What I find hard to take is that, having spoken to so many passengers both on and off the ship at the time and since returning home who have suffered the same experience, I don’t understand why either the destination is not removed from itineraries if it is so dangerous or that the largest possible ‘health warning’ of the likelihood of ‘failure’ is prominently published in all the appropriate literature, including glossy brochures. A Golden Wedding comes only once and is so special. Our celebration left a real curate’s egg of memories from the joy of Epicurean to the real sadness of missing out on re-visiting our honeymoon island. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Some background detail first of all. P&O has been our cruise company of choice but I have been trying other cruise lines to review for my travel blog. This cruise was a long awaited return, after just over a year away from ... Read More
Some background detail first of all. P&O has been our cruise company of choice but I have been trying other cruise lines to review for my travel blog. This cruise was a long awaited return, after just over a year away from P&O Embarkation was relatively smooth apart from the appallingly managaged car parking which resulted in a half hour wait to drop off the car. Although strictly speaking not P&O's fault is is their recommended parking provider and provided as part of the select deal. We were traveling with other family members, two adults and two children, who had a family suite. Once parked check-in and security clearance was quick and even though we headed straight to our cabin once on board our bags beat us to the cabin - a promising start. We met our cabin steward, Cathy, who was friendly and personable - a good start to the onboard experience …… little did we know at the time this would almost be the zenith of the cruise. The safety drill was an improvement as you are no longer required to take your life jacket with you, although the demonstration was somewhat undermined by loud, fellow passengers noisily talking over the demonstration and / or finding the whole thing a joke. We had selected “Freedom Dining” as we didn’t want to be tied to a fixed dining time, this also means you are on a different table each night and this led to a mixed experience. We took advantage of Freedom Dining on four of the nights, twice with just the adults and twice with the children as well. Service was decidedly mixed, on two of the nights the service was really good, as one would expect, on the other two totally indifferent with the waiting staff simply going through the motions. It may be coincidence but the two better experiences were when we dined with the children. On another night we dined in the Sindhu restaurant and the service, as well as the food was exemplary with one of the best waiters we’ve ever encountered. In terms of the staff generally we were shocked by the contrasts. A large number offered the standard of service you would expect from P&O, however a very significant minority had an almost, couldn’t care less attitude. The ship just felt generally unhappy. A couple of examples, at one of the food outlets, the woman serving looked as though she had sucked a lemon and acted as if she was doing you a favour by serving you. Indeed a fair percentage of staff seemed to have lost the ability to smile or to be affable. Yes, there has always been the odd staff member on any cruise but here it was much more noticeable and prevalent. On another occasion we wanted an ice cream milkshake and were having trouble finding any on board. I went to reception to ask if any were available on board to be given the response “I don’t know, ask at one of the bars.” The jolliest person on board seemed to be the Captain, who also seemed to think he was a stand up comedian …… he was certainly a refreshing change from some of the aloof Captain’s we’ve come across but I have to admit, after a week, some of of his jokes were becoming a bit boring. I wasn’t overly impressed when he suggested two latecomers were cheered and applauded on board after being late back in Bergen – they may well have had a good reason for being late and the “welcome” could have been humiliating. The sail away from Olden was brilliant - although this is down to the town rather than P&O Turning to food, the food in the main dining rooms was of the usual high standard, although I don’t think I’m alone in being under the impression portion sizes are shrinking. Food in the buffet was more variable ranging from good to inedible – I made the mistake of going for toad in the hole one night – the single sausage was OK but the batter was stodgy and undercooked. The buffet was also too small for the numbers on board, especially at breakfast on the sea days. On the final evening a "Family Disco" was advertised .... the children were looking forward to this but it was a con and a shambles. It wasn't a disco and there were no staff running it ..... basically it was a dance floor with a pre-recorded sound track, most of which was unsuitable for children. The only staff were bar staff trying to sell alcohol to the parents. When one of the parents complined to one of the bar staff, he shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Obviously we speak to fellow passengers on board and it was interesting to note that everyone we spoke to who had sailed with P&O before all thought the standards on this cruise had dropped dramatically. More tellingly, the family members we travelled with are both ex-P&O bridge officers and this is the first time they have been on a P&O ship in ten years and they were appalled by the drop in standards. I wonder if it is down to the removal of the service charge and subsequent reduction in pay for staff …. Is this causing a reduction in morale? We also found from a cabin steward, not ours in case P&O read this and decide to victimise our steward, they are now being asked to look after more cabins than they used to. Whilst on board I had planned to book a future cruise with P&O to take advantage of the discounts and other benefits – after this experience I did not bother. In the past I’ve been happy to pay more for the superior level of service with P&O. I am now of the view I can experience the same level of service with another Carnival company, Costa, for around two-thirds the price of P&O. It will be a long time, if ever, before I sail with P&O again and that’s something I thought I would never say. It seems P&O are aiming to dumb down to the lowest common denominator rather than providing a class service. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
As first family crew chose p and o. Buffet food was average and bland especially at dinner time.Very difficult to find a table at buy times. Staff in buffet restaurant not particularly friendly. Believe other worked. Restaurants included ... Read More
As first family crew chose p and o. Buffet food was average and bland especially at dinner time.Very difficult to find a table at buy times. Staff in buffet restaurant not particularly friendly. Believe other worked. Restaurants included in price Cinnamon and Saffron. Had lovely food and very good service. We paid for food one night in the glasshouse (tapas) that was amazing. Beach house food which you had to pay extra for was average. My food had a hair in it yuk. Put me off. Our steward was excellent very friendly. Most of the other staff were not very smiley and seemed disinterested. Reception staff not very friendly or smiley either. Swimming pools were good but sometimes full of screaming kids. Entertainment was good. We3 - vocal group were amazing. Adele impersonator very good. Metropolis bar was very classy with good views and a guy playing piano. I used the gym. It’s very good with up to date equipment and nice views into the sea. Overall good. But customer service standards could be better. Maybe staff not getting tips anymore is having an affect. We are thinking of trying another cruise company next time to get a better standard of customer service and friendlessness. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was a family cruise around the Fjiords with frequent cruisers. The boarding was very efficient and our cabin (Superior Deluxe Balcony) could not be faulted when we first arrived. However, the food across the board was below ... Read More
This was a family cruise around the Fjiords with frequent cruisers. The boarding was very efficient and our cabin (Superior Deluxe Balcony) could not be faulted when we first arrived. However, the food across the board was below average. It was below average in general, not just in comparison to the normal standard of cruise food. The buffet was small, cramped and disorganised with limited selection. We ate breakfast in the buffet and restaurant. The selection in the restaurant was very disappointing as each day there was a special which could not be ordered on any other day. i.e. Eggs Benedict could only be ordered on a Monday etc. We ate in the Cinnamon Restaurant every evening and were able to have the same table seating all of us every night. The poor staff are run off their feet from clear staff cuts and do not have enough time for the usual niceties let alone to take orders and serve the food. The food in the restaurant was bland and disappointing on almost every occasion. The desserts were diabolical. The pastry was always uncooked, the panna cotta contained far too much gelatine and had less flavour than a piece of paper. Our cabin was very noisy. Being near an engine room there was a constant rattling. We did complain and were offered to move to an indoor cabin! When we refused to downgrade we were offered ear plugs. However, we were impressed with the size of the cabin and canapes on the Captain's night were a nice touch. Our cabin stewardess was lovely and really looked after us. The entertainment was average and if anything on the tacky side. They could do with more seating in the bar/lounge areas. On the positive, drinks were very reasonably priced in comparison to other cruises we have been on as were the spa treatments. We will not be cruising with P & O again.Yeah Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We'd only been on one cruise before, and that was with Royal Caribbean on their Vision Of The Seas ship, which is about 80% of the size of this one, I think. This was a cheap cruise, so we decided to (despite the not fantastic ... Read More
We'd only been on one cruise before, and that was with Royal Caribbean on their Vision Of The Seas ship, which is about 80% of the size of this one, I think. This was a cheap cruise, so we decided to (despite the not fantastic reviews) plump for it and see how it went. We didn't have elevated expectations and unfortunately we were right to have had that attitude! I was absolutely blown away by the difference in service levels. Ventura is full of staff who simply do their job. Too many of them have forgotten that they are only there because the customers need them to be - and that people go on holiday to have fun and enjoy a little bit of luxury. Don't get me wrong, none were rude, but none had any real spark, minus a guy in Metropolis. --Bay Tree restaurant-- To begin, our dinner in the Bay Tree restaurant on the first night, blimey. Steak and chips, fish and chips, ham egg and - yep - chips were three of about 7 main options. The others weren't interesting either; I'm not just excluding them to make the review look poor! One was pie I think. The menus every night were just not exciting. After a day of being at sea, or on a black tie evening, it's nice to be wowed by a fantastic menu - not just be "fed". The staff in this restaurant were amongst the least interested in great customer experience I think I've ever experienced! Their main aim, it seemed, was to get their job done in the easiest way possible - so for example serving my wife and I alongside the three tables of two around us, at the same time. So we all got our orders taken at the same time, all got our food at the same time and waited for each other to finish before we could order the next course. We had to flag someone down to order a drink other than the (really chlorinated) water we were already given. When I ordered a glass of red, I was sent the "wine waiter" - a lady turned up who didn't offer any knowledge on wine, just wanted me to tell her what I'd like. She couldn't take payment either, that was the first guy's job. Cheese and biscuits? Bizarre! We were first given a side plate each and a knife. Then our waiter turned up with a large slate of cheeses, but not to leave it with us - he wanted my wife and I to select each cheese, bit by bit, and how much of each we wanted. Then, after this process was complete, he returned to get us to do the same with the biscuits! I had to explain to him that the idea of cheese and biscuits is that the choice is made as you're eating it! Also, having to beg for five minutes before eating is frustrating and unnecessary. As for breakfast in this restaurant, it's even worse! Lots of staff serving (/cleaning) empty tables instead of the guests sat down already, means you have to forever catch someones eye. The toast was never anything but stone cold and solid (even when we asked for it to be warm). There's no going off the menu in terms of options. I wanted (on the Monday morning) some smoked salmon with my scrambled eggs - the chap told me that wasn't on until Sunday. So once in the week we were allowed smoked salmon (and by the way when Sunday came, it was mixed in and therefore cooked, with the scrambled eggs). I'm not a greedy person but am used to being able to have a certain level of creative licence with breakfast! I don't know why they can't just offer a buffet system - they appear to be withholding any ability for the guest to just have a good breakfast, and with it, being really slack on service. --The ship-- We found the layout really annoying. The absolute main reason for this is that there's no one route around the whole ship - meaning after dinner when you fancy a walk, you can't do this without either worming through the interior spaces of one of the decks (7 I think), cutting through bars and restaurants, or going out on deck and walking through sports areas and using stairs to complete a circuit. It doesn't sound like a big problem until it's a sea day and all you want to do is get a few steps done! A weird feeling of cabin fever when you can't just go for a walk. The atrium isn't very big, meaning there's no real reason for it being there - on Vision (RC) last year, the atrium was constantly used for nice evening celebrations and displays. There isn't therefore one large, spectacular area on the ship for people to all be in, on for example a black tie evening reception. We found it strange that there wasn't a common area for people to begin their evening. --Things to do-- There was loads to do, as long as you're either with a child, or you're a child. We were travelling as a couple and basically there's only one place with any level of atmosphere that's laid back and slightly classier, which is Metropolis Bar. Every other space for "lounging" either has no music on (and is therefore just an area for people to sit looking at each other, waiting for their next meal) or is full of kids. They were all very quiet, abandoned spaces during the day. And because there's no one large open area in the ship for people to gravitate towards, everywhere felt deserted. Exchange bar was nice enough, but treads too much on the Butlins method of holidaying - people drinking Fosters and playing bingo or watching the football. We avoid places like this at home so didn't use it on the boat. We consequently found sea days pretty boring without our own things to do - books etc. We never found this on RC's Vision. Their public spaces were all vibrant and well laid out; nice enough to spend time in just watching the world go by. --The great things-- We loved Metropolis. Only complaint really would be that it kept being booked out for private events, meaning that the one decent bar was pretty much out of action for these times. It's also (as mentioned above) the only classy, atmospheric bar on the ship, so got really busy in the evenings, so much so people were jostling for tables. (Tamarind was nice in the evenings too, but no view as it's low down in the ship and the curtains were shut!). Sindhu, absolutely incredible. A fantastic way to spend an evening, away from the crowds. Food was top notch and the service was great too. The show - Paradise City - was great. Not the longest show, but absolutely perfectly put together! --The cabin-- We had an interior cabin, to test the theory for our summer cruise which we hadn't booked at the time of sailing. It was absolutely fine - a little strange not knowing what was happening in the world outside but that's normal for an interior cabin. I liked the layout, of the dressing area by the bathroom, with the bedroom as its own separate area. Nicely equipped too, with a kettle and fridge. Could have done with more hangars and a bigger telly. Also somewhere to sit would have been nice! Not sure if it's normal for interior cabins to be so small. --The destinations-- If I'm honest, I'm a bit simple with culture. Not really a museum-goer, so a wander around the town is good enough for me. The destinations were nice - but one of them was on a bank holiday day, so nothing was happening (and the city wasn't particularly pretty anyway) - this could have been scheduled a little better I think. The excursions were really fairly priced - and I heard good things about them. --Summary-- I think basically, 7 days is the maximum time I could spend on this ship. It's a little too poorly designed and there's not enough to do, without making your own entertainment. Also, it was value for money given what we'd paid. Had I paid lots of money for a summer holiday on this boat, I would be very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Seemed like a good idea at the time, first day we were greeted by a pedal bin in the toilet full of tissues and a used tampon smiling at us, reported it and all we got was a grunted apology whereas friends of ours got a fifty pound extra ... Read More
Seemed like a good idea at the time, first day we were greeted by a pedal bin in the toilet full of tissues and a used tampon smiling at us, reported it and all we got was a grunted apology whereas friends of ours got a fifty pound extra spend because some noise was heard early one morning.Although not P&O,s fault the ship was overun with wheelchairs, zimmer frames and mobility scooters.Technical faults ensued throughout and rudely awoken at 4.20 one morning with chairs etc being moved above us, when complained was virtually called a liar as no one goes above deck until 7.00 am to move stuff ,haunted ship I suppose. I dont think I've seen so many vastly overweight people in one place before, food ok but nothing wonderfull but most staff ok with some of the younger girls very smiley and chatty. One waiter virtually threw the food at us and seemed like he would rather be elsewhere . Two P&O cruises and four Princess and will go back to Princess in future , shame really as we would rather support home grown. Freddy Mercury tribute was awful if you were a queen fan and on a last note ive never seen food consumed in such large ammounts by people in their 80s as on this trip, no wonder it cost so much in care homes, lovely bunch though. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I would of given 4 stars as an overall rating as everything else except the cabin was very good . Embarkation was speedy as was disembarkation. The food was great in the dining room and the buffet . The waiters were all polite and helpful. ... Read More
I would of given 4 stars as an overall rating as everything else except the cabin was very good . Embarkation was speedy as was disembarkation. The food was great in the dining room and the buffet . The waiters were all polite and helpful. The excursion from Zeebrugge was excellent. I learnt more about Belgium from our guide than I ever knew before ! We went to a small village, a castle come Manor House and finished at a chocolate factory. We were disappointed that the ship couldn’t stop at Peter Port yet again. I feel it’s time to find another port in northern France that would make it easier to disembark passengers safely. I’ve suggested on previous questionnaires that a dedicated cinema would be great with films on at times you can watch them!! Nobody has paid attention yet ! All in all apart from the cabin we had a great time and have booked a 2 week cruise to the Baltic’s next year. Excellent value. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our first cruise with P&O and we had both good and bad experiences. We would try P&O again but I think the experience we had this time was not the best. Positives Ship was excellent, really good condition. We loved ... Read More
This was our first cruise with P&O and we had both good and bad experiences. We would try P&O again but I think the experience we had this time was not the best. Positives Ship was excellent, really good condition. We loved the Metropolis and Tamarind bars. Evening dining was good considering the number of people they have to serve. Service was efficient but not particularly friendly. Cabins were good, well appointed and clean. Entertainment was of good quality (although sometimes not for us). Decent drinks prices. Negatives Both Embarkation and disembarkation were delayed. We missed Oporto so had our excursion cancelled. Evening and daytime entertainment were swapped around, cancelled and delayed (to be fair this was partly due to weather conditions). The Retreat & Oasis pool were unavailable for the whole cruise even though other pools were in use. As a couple of adults this was a disappointment. Buffet wasn't great... Dried food and plastic desserts. Bars were often crowded and loud and we had difficulty getting a seat. Theatre shows in the evening were also very busy. Outstanding We thought the on board comedy magician was naughty but great fun! Our room steward and our table waiters were also excellent, friendly and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was the first cruise for our daughter and son in law with two children age nine and six. We as grandparents have been on Ventura before. Our daughter was impressed with how smart the ship was and we, since our last trip. have been ... Read More
This was the first cruise for our daughter and son in law with two children age nine and six. We as grandparents have been on Ventura before. Our daughter was impressed with how smart the ship was and we, since our last trip. have been with Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity and agree the ship is not a let down. The family chose an extra large balcony cabin on Deck 9 (D728) and that was great for four people. We had a regular balcony on the same deck (D734) and we faced aft. We gained an extra large balcony, mostly shaded, but when ship was at sea the noise from the wake was loud. We had some moderately rough weather and did feel movement and vibration but nothing outrageous. Cabin service was good, our steward cleared the fridge for our bottles and made regular deliveries of ice and lemon. Breakfasts were delivered on time and accurately when we asked. We mostly ate in the main dining room and food was generally very good, only two or three dishes would have been sent back if we were paying by the dish!! The first formal night, with Captain's reception offering a choice of drinks (not just cheap fizz!!) and a special menu, was as as good as any gala night at sea in seven cruises. The disappointment came when the second black tie event did not have any extras and we chose uninspiring dishes from a rather ordinary menu. Our grandchildren appreciated the children's buffet but our daughter and son in law did not enjoy the atmosphere in the main buffet. Following our experience on the American lines the buffet choice is very limited with three counters of the same offering where as others have much greater variety, including free ice cream. Tables were cleared promptly and it felt clean. Entertainment around the ship was varied and generally of good quality. The entertainment manager took a low profile and we appreciated how this avoided a "holiday camp" atmosphere. Astonishing, the new magic and illusion show is brilliant and definitely as good as anything we have seen. The other acts in the main theatre, however, were aimed at the older age group which was a shame on what was intended to be a family cruise during the school holidays with more passengers under 50 that we have ever seen before. The company production of Burt Bacharach songs was well done, but the other four nights we had two shows from a Rock and Roll Band and two shows from a Tina Turner tribute act (All these dating back to the 1950/60s!!). We were not enthusiastic and our children did not even bother after the first night. There were disruptions from weather and other factors which were handled exceptionally poorly. We had an hour long queue in the car to drop off luggage- never known that before. Then, as ship was late in port and there were gangway problems, everyone was boarding at least an hour late. We were however well informed at this stage and seating was available. In Lisbon we were told the weather was too bad to get into Porto so we were staying another day in Lisbon. That second day we left at 11:30 in the morning and this was very limiting as we knew from the first day nothing was fully open before 10am. We reached Guernsey which we knew was a tendered port but the waits to get off ship were horrendous. It was suggested we join the queue late but it took from 10:45 to 1pm to get ashore. We were watching the queue to get back on the ship from about 3 pm and it was never shorter than an estimated two hours. We joined the last tender and got back to the ship 1h15 after it was due to leave. We spent more time waiting than exploring St Peter Port. We did hear there was an extra tender boat for hire but if this could not be used then there should have been a booking system,even a ballot for the popular times. The port arrangements at Vigo and Lisbon were fine both within walking distance of town. Returning to Southampton there was a delay notified the day before but we still had to vacate cabins by 8am and breakfast finished at 9am. We could not get ashore until ten to eleven but Anthony from the ents staff kept us informed as we waited in a restaurant. Our grandchildren really loved the children's clubs and children's entertainer Josh was excellent, but we would have enjoyed more enrichment for the adults to enjoy the free time. We found the drinks very good value and a meal at Sindhu was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We have done 15 previous cruises with a variety of lines but felt if the opportunity arose we should try P&O as departing from Southampton was very convenient. This opportunity came with a short break we were planning to Lisbon and ... Read More
We have done 15 previous cruises with a variety of lines but felt if the opportunity arose we should try P&O as departing from Southampton was very convenient. This opportunity came with a short break we were planning to Lisbon and Porto and we discovered that Ventura was doing a 7 day cruise with these two ports on the itinerary plus Vigo and Guernsey and it would work out roughly about the same cost as a land based trip We had ‘parking’ included in our fare and arrived at the port at 12.30 pm, only to be held in a queue gazing at the ship for 45 mins until we could start the drop off process for the car and our luggage. Apparently this was due to the late clearing of the ship from the previous cruise. When we made it into the cruise terminal an hour or so later it was heaving with people; it appeared no-one had actually been boarded yet. The culprit of this delay turned out to be a malfunctioning air bridge and eventually after much time spent trying to fix the problem unsuccessfully, boarding commenced via the key side gangplank. Fortuitously, we had been given a blue card which meant that we were amongst the first to board. We found the layout of the Ventura very familiar to other similar class ships we had sailed on and so were very comfortable with our surroundings, we were also pleased to find that although now quite old by cruise industry standards, and a bit dated, she was in good conditional overall. We had booked an ocean view cabin, figuring that we wouldn’t have much use of a balcony crossing the bay of Biscay in April (good call as it turned out) but had to settle for an ‘obstructed view’, this also turned out better than we had hoped as the obstruction was a white life raft container which only blocked half the window vertically so we had an uninterrupted view from the other half. Our steward dropped by to introduce himself and to remind about muster drill at 4.30 pm and to ‘remember to take our life jackets’ (slightly disappointing as other lines no longer require you to take along your life jacket, sensibly deciding that passengers trailing straps caused greater H&S hazards). Our steward was efficient, pleasant and unobtrusive, so full marks there. We headed to the Waterside buffet for something to eat, expecting it to be busy but it was surprisingly quiet. Our first meal was a little uninspiring – limited choice and quite bland, but our expectations of buffet food are never high. We followed this up with coffee and cake at the Costa outlet – whats this? Only ‘one treat’ supplied with each drink purchased!!! We tried not to make comparisons with the International Café on Princess ships where you can gorge yourself on as much as you can eat 24/7 and so many tempting choices. At 4.20 we thought we should get ourselves prepared for muster drill and set off to try and get a seat at our muster station. We did this very easily – there was no-one about apart from a few passengers wandering aimlessly with their life jackets and a bored looking ‘Muster’ crew member perched on a window ledge studying his phone. 4.30 came and went and only one or two people appeared for the drill so we waited, and then just before 5.00 pm it was announced that due to the late boarding of many of the passengers, muster drill had been put back until 5.30 pm grrrrr.. We were on flexible dining and headed off to eat at about 7.00 pm and as we were happy to share we were seated quite quickly with some pleasant table mates. Bread rolls were offered and these were of the soggy dough variety. My husband and I both ordered prawn cocktail for starters and both vowed never to order it again – it was vile. We then both had steak which was passable. My desert was a mango and passion fruit pavlova; its presentation caused much interest around the table and could best be described as a ‘deconstructed pavlova’ – seems someone has been watching too much Master Chef! Next day was sea day. Breakfast in the buffet – what can I say, standard canteen fare and if you chose hot food it was cold by the time you came to eat it. On the plus side though there was no problem finding seating if you headed to the back of the ship. We passed the day exploring the ship and taking part in some trivia and were thrilled that we were able to watch the Grand National live in the Exchange bar. We liked the ambiance of the Exchange bar and took part in several rounds of trivia there and played on a few on the limited slot machines. It was also ‘formal night’ and it appeared that my husband had brought the wrong colour suit. We were firmly told that unless it was a dark coloured suit we wouldn’t be allowed in certain venues so we opted to eat in The Beach House and had a very good meal there – well worth the additional cost. We were somewhat miffed however to see other gentlemen passengers in formal attire that was anything but ‘dark’. We ate at The Beach house again on the next formal night and also tried ‘Sindhu’ which we felt was ‘nice’ but more style than substance. Entertainment was hit and miss. We very much enjoyed the Tina Turner Tribute act. There was a singer scheduled in the Havanna club one evening just after the ‘family disco’ finished. The small kids were so ‘hyped up’ by then that they continued to run around on the dance floor whilst this poor girl was trying to perform and behind us a group of single mums chattered away oblivious to her performance – we felt so embarrassed for her. Later in the cruise we got chatting to a couple who were first time cruisers; the wife was a retired nursery nurse at Butlins and even she was horrified that the children on the cruise were allowed so much freedom; she said even in Butlins they weren’t allowed in the venues after 9.00 pm, and their experience this time made them question whether they would cruise again. The weather was too chilly to use the pool decks much and the entertainment team seemed to struggle to come up with indoor activities to fill the void; who would guess that ‘how to make a bed properly’ had so much potential to be a spectator sport! Our first port was Vigo. We realised that being Sunday there would be very little open so we were not disappointed. So after a pleasant stroll around the town and up to the fort we returned to the ship. Hubby fancied a burger so we headed up to deck 15. I took one look at the offering and headed back into the buffet for a cheese roll! Hubby bravely went for burger, hot dog and chips and even he (who will eat most fast food) had to admit that the pre-cooked items wrapped in paper, was not an experience he wished to repeat. We then hit Lisbon, which for us was the highlight of the trip and we were not at all disappointed. We enjoyed the best weather of the trip which for the most part was very disappointing. The Captain had already announced that we would be missing Porto due to the weather and sea conditions but the bonus was that we were to overnight in Lisbon allowing us a few additional hours ashore next morning. Our final stop was Guernsey, a tender port, and we received a notification in our cabin the day before that ‘demand for tenders was expected to be very busy up until about 11.30 am but after that we would probably be able to breeze on to a tender as we wished’. It appeared that most of the ship had headed this advice and as we headed for the departure lounge at about 11.20 we found a queue which snaked from one side of the atrium through the art gallery and up to other side of the atrium before even reaching the point where the tender tickets were being issued. We had a trip booked for 1.30 pm and had planned to have a few hours exploring St Peter Port and a spot of lunch before the tour. We started to panic at about 12.15 when we were still queuing for tickets and mentioned that we were booked on a tour so were fast tracked through – even then we didn’t make it onto shore until 1.20. Guernsey was delightful – we were on a mini bus tour of the island with a final stop for ‘gin tasting’ – the samples were very generous and having missed lunch we quickly got quite light headed. We were taken back to port for 4.30 pm (last tender was supposed to be 5.00 pm) and found that the queue to get back on the ship was already snaking half way round the port! So another hour or so queuing was awaiting us. We eventually made it back to the ship for 6.00 pm. Nobody could explain exactly what caused the delay, there were suggestions of adverse sea conditions, insufficient numbers of tenders being used and an unexpected arrival of a ferry which stopped the tender process. Someone in the queue worked out that they had queued for 5 hours to get on and off for an 8 hour port stop! The Captain’s evening update included the phrase ‘I understand some of you had a ‘bit of a wait’ for the tender!’ You can’t help but wonder how other lines with the much larger ships manage apparently to operate their tender process much more smoothly and surely P&O have sufficient previous experience to avoid such chaos. We were so hungry when we got back on ship that we hot footed it to the buffet and as they had just opened for evening service we had a surprisingly good turkey carvery. So our last night and the Captain announced that we would be docking back in Southampton during the early hours when most of us would probably still be asleep. Our disembarkation information told us that we had to vacate our cabins by 8.00 am and that we would be due to leave the ship by 10.00 am. Later that evening, the Captain announced that there was a chance of plan and that due to orders from port maritime officers in Southampton, we now couldn’t dock until 7.00 am – no mention that this might cause a knock on effect on the disembarkation process. We took breakfast in the restaurant after clearing our cabin at 8.00 am and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast (don’t order the ‘healthy poached eggs on wholemeal toast’ option – the healthy toast appeared to be very small rounds of something akin to polystyrene). Leisurely chatting with our tablemates we were ‘thrown out’ as they needed to clear the dining room. We then waited at our disembarkation point – The Havanna Club, and being at the back of the ship, we were the last to be called, some 75 mins later than the scheduled time. Never have we been more pleased to get off a ship! Our overall impression of our P&O cruise was mixed, some good, some bad. We enjoyed the port stops and met some nice people, and the crew were lovely. The queuing to get on and off the ship was frustrating and so bad that it was almost entertaining - it certainly sparked the pioneer spirit amongst the passengers. We agreed that it wasn’t one of our best cruising experiences and had it been our first time, I am not sure whether we would be tempted to cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Happy 12-day cruise but just sometimes food quality was surprisingly poor. Potatoes with black rotting areas and occasionally not hot. Staff in smart restaurants and buffet were hard-working, helpful and pleasant. Often a ... Read More
Happy 12-day cruise but just sometimes food quality was surprisingly poor. Potatoes with black rotting areas and occasionally not hot. Staff in smart restaurants and buffet were hard-working, helpful and pleasant. Often a feeding frenzy in buffet servery which is too crowded sometimes and too small. One area is opened while the other closes. Ideally should both be open. All made worse by impatient passengers who don't like queuing. Also, despite polite request notes on each table asking diners to vacate once finished eating, there are some who seem to camp there for an hour or two chatting, dozing or reading books while others search for seats. Some ignore hand sanitisers in restaurants. Thump of engines can be heard in main restaurant. We heard that P&O have made economies on several fronts and sometimes it shows compared with previous cruises by us. Cabin stewards now asked to service more cabins daily. Stage shows were very good/excellent. One comedian fared badly/gross with old folk with mime of him pretending to wipe his bottom, complained about weak P&O 2-ply toilet paper, said some elderly passengers "smelled like the homeless" and were infirm - among other grubby "jokes." Long wait to disembark because of tide change and positioning the bridge to terminal. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because of the destinations and the time of year. We always go to the Caribbean in January/February for some winter sun, and on the whole the weather didn't disappoint. Check in was a breeze, we arrived ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the destinations and the time of year. We always go to the Caribbean in January/February for some winter sun, and on the whole the weather didn't disappoint. Check in was a breeze, we arrived slightly later than our embarkation time because of a problem on the A34 but got straight on the ship. Our cabin was the same one we had last year and was clean and spacious as cabins go; the cabin steward Ramesh was friendly and helpful and couldn't do enough for us. The biggest let down was the dining experience, we chose Freedom dining in the Cinnamon restaurant; on the first night the food arrived lukewarm, which was a constant feature throughout the cruise. I got sick and tired of sending food back because it was cold, and to top it all I was served a soufflé for dessert which had not risen and was raw inside - totally unacceptable; I sent it back and the restaurant manager came over, apologised and asked if I wanted something else, I declined as my wife had finished eating and was ready to go. One thing we couldn't fault was the waiters, they were all friendly, polite and really helpful. The entertainment was average at best, some acts were outstanding, The Beatles Experience and Beautiful World (celebrating the music of Take That) were brilliant but some were dreadful. One so-called comedian was constantly looking at his watch and was only on for 30 minutes. We had one of the chasers on board from The Chase, Shaun Wallace, and he was really good, a lovely, humble man who was a pleasure to meet. He gave talks in the arena theatre about his life, and took part in P&O's version of The Chase called The Pursuit, he was a good sport and great fun. Some ports were nice, but some, if we never go there again it will be too soon. St Maarten is always good, as is Barbados; we did a P&O photography tour on Barbados and it was really good. The guide Ronnie Carrington was really good, he took us to some beautiful spots and was a pleasure to be with. St Vincent was a let down, the streets where the shops and markets are were dirty and smelly. A hidden gem was Praia de Vittoria, what a beautiful clean town, with plenty of shops and cafes which had very reasonable prices. Disembarkation was easy for us because we took our own cases off, but we heard later there were major problems with luggage not being in the correct place and arriving late; this doesn't surprise me, because when I took our cases down in the morning there was still cases in the corridors. This is probably the last time we will cruise with P&O, because the cuts they are making really showing. There used to be fresh orange at breakfast, that is now cheap orange squash; the biscuits in the cabin are plain and cheap, and anybody wanting decaffeinated tea bags at mealtimes had to ask for them as they were never put out. The chocolate afternoon has gone, and the prizes for the prize passports are vastly inferior to years gone by. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I chose this because it was one of a few that covered Christmas and the new year. The decorations were far below that of two greats ago. There was no Christmas atmosphere. Christmas jumper competition judged on the day of ... Read More
I chose this because it was one of a few that covered Christmas and the new year. The decorations were far below that of two greats ago. There was no Christmas atmosphere. Christmas jumper competition judged on the day of departure, before most passengers had received their luggage. Bar staff pandered to long time cruisers and other passengers had to wait for service. Passengers sat at the bar making it difficult to get service. Bar stools should be removed. Entertainers were always too loud. Food in the buffet was always cold, although a good choice. The cabin steward was, as always, excellent. There were a lot of mobility scooters to avoid. One lift was permanently out of order, while a second one was also sometimes out of order. Some Children were left to run around the ship instead of being supervised by parents, going up and down in lifts, while other passengers had to wait for them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Embarkation as always was good,as priority passengers we arrived early and sat in departures and had our complimentary coffee and biscuits,on ship by midday and straight through to champagne lunch,really is a fantastic start to the ... Read More
Embarkation as always was good,as priority passengers we arrived early and sat in departures and had our complimentary coffee and biscuits,on ship by midday and straight through to champagne lunch,really is a fantastic start to the cruise. We were in suite at back of ship,we always choose this as it's lovely sitting out in the huge balcony. The cabin is nice but 5*? no,not really,quite dirty looking,though that is nothing to do with our lovely cabin stewardess Rose,just years of build up dirt I suppose. I have to mention our butler Dinesh,we have sailed many times with P&O and he was by far the best butler we've ever had,he really couldn't do enough for us.An absolute credit to the company. Can't comment on entertainment as we've never really liked it and don't go to the shows etc. Service,yet again,second to none,I really really can't understand some reviews when they say the waiters are rude and surly,we have NEVER come across this at all,we always have the best laughs with them.The drinks waitress in the dining room came to serve us and when she took our name,she looked at us and said "Weren't you on this cruise last year" could not believe she remembered us.They are amazing,each and every one of them. Unfortunately though,we will not be sailing with P&O in the near future,after numerous cruises with them over the years,their standards are slipping,the food for me (vegetarian) was absolutely awful and it pains me to say it,as it used to be delicious in years gone by,last year I noticed it had gone down a notch but this year,was almost inedible,so my husband and I dined at the speciality restaurants most of the time,which you have to pay extra for but was worth it I have to agree with the other reviewer re the captain,he was fantastic,he should be a stand up comedian,he had the whole ship in hysterics,with his antics,Andrew Willard if I remember rightly,captain of Oceana usually All in all,we did enjoy ourselves but that is because we disappear into our suite half the time and enjoy our balcony and of course the destinations,especially Madeira We have decided to give Cunard a go,I go on a cruise to enjoy the specialness (is that a word)of it but alas these days it's all trainers and jogging bottoms,and people moaning that they have to get dressed up,for gods sake,it's only 4 times in the whole 14 day cruise. Also the rudeness of some people,also mentioned by other reviewers,PLEASE,why do you choose cruising,go for a booze up at Blackpool,where you don't need to dress up. P&O has lost it's way unfortunately,it needs to decide who it's catering for,is it the cheap holiday brigade,who eat more food than their body actually needs or is it the cruisers who enjoy the occasion.Anyway,not for us anymore.Such a shame Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Joined the Ventura on the 21st December 2018 in Southampton and I must say the embarkation process could not have been any quicker, from arrival to emabarkation 15 minutes. Our cabins became available at 2-00pm and our luggage had ... Read More
Joined the Ventura on the 21st December 2018 in Southampton and I must say the embarkation process could not have been any quicker, from arrival to emabarkation 15 minutes. Our cabins became available at 2-00pm and our luggage had already been delivered. So far so good. Overal condition of the cabin was good BUT on entering the bathroom it stank strongly of urine. Immediatly bought it to the attention of the cabin steward who also immediatly steam cleaned the complete cubicle and all was well again. A general tour around the ship indicated it was still looking good after the recent refit with the exception that 6 lifts were PERMANENTLY out of order for the complete cruise. I would expect it on the first day when they are delivering luggage but not for the whole cruise. At times this meant that there were long delays in getting lifts. The Freedom dining experience was good on the first evening but after this the quality of food seemed less appealing and the table stewards we had were not very talkable and we never saw a smile from them. The deck 15 buffet was of it's usual standard but I did not expect to see Thai green curry and paella on a "Best of British" theme night. The Captain appeared to carry out the role of both the master of the vessel as well as the Entertainments manager when ever he made announcements. He also counted down the 12 days of Christmas with all types of animal sounds. Quite amusing and as the cruise progressed the laughter got louder from the guests. The most popular area of the ship appeared to be the Exchange bar and Tamarrin bar. The shows were of an average standard wuth the exception of 2 young classical singers who were "Stars" and received a standing ovation at each show. Christmas Day came & went with no extra items laid on and as Father Christmas had visited the ship on Christmas Eve it appeared weird. The usual ports of call were ok although the weather was not the best it has been at this time of year. New Years Eve was spent in Funchal, Madeira and the Firework display was "FANTASTIC" We had the best berth available to view it and even the Queen Victoria had to anchor out. HOWEVER, immediatly the display was over everybody returned in to the inner areas of the ship only to find things closed. The atrium area was like the Maria Celeste. The only people there were crew members picking up the balloons that were dropped at 1145pm. The Tammarin bar was empty and the coffee bar area was closed. It was a big dissapointment for those of us who wanted to be inside the vessel and continue the evening. I must say that the Beach House restaurant was worth the extra charge but we were not overjoyed by the Epicurean. We were informed that the Flambee would be cooked in the galley and then they used a cigarette lighter with alcohol to light it at the table. Not like the last time when it was prepared at the tables. Overal Assessment: The cruise was nice but not memorable for the right things. The standards appear to have dropped slightly in my opinion and the friendlyness of the crew does not appear to have the zing it used to have. (Maybe its the long hours they are required to work?). I will travel with P&O again and have done many times but only if I am unable to obtain the same with its sister companies where in my opinion the standard is higher and morale is better. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
P & O's Ventura is a lovely ship with many good amenities, lovely caring staff and good food. We could fault nothing about the ship. However, we were amazed at the type of passenger that it seemed to attract. Perhaps we chose the ... Read More
P & O's Ventura is a lovely ship with many good amenities, lovely caring staff and good food. We could fault nothing about the ship. However, we were amazed at the type of passenger that it seemed to attract. Perhaps we chose the wrong cruise, going to the Canaries in the midst of Winter or getting away from it all over the Christmas period. There were a large number of people on board who would have been better suited to a few weeks in Benidorm or Blackpool rather than a luxury cruise. They had no manners, had foul language and many were covered in tattoos. They pushed and shoved in the eating areas and had no consideration for other people. I can only surmise that P & O must have had difficulty in selling this particular sailing and discounted many cabins to appeal to this low-life. I also think that this company should consider limiting how many wheelchairs and mobility scooters are allowed on their ships. I can appreciate that disabled people are entitled to a holiday but too many on one crowded vessel just causes problems. Many a time I came across arguments in lifts and I, personally, resorted to using the stairs. The users just barged through regardless of others and on one occasion a whole tray of food went up in the air and the contents spilt all down the wall. We paid for one of the best cabins on this ship, which was a blessing, as we could have some peace and quiet when required and had marvellous service from all the cabin staff. In future we will not be travelling from Southampton as this seems to attract the "Bargain Brits". Our next cruise will be a fly-cruise with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We had a good cruise to Jersey with Aurora in June 2018, so booked again for Brugges with Ventura in November. The orginsation is good, luggage taken even before the entry hall and it arrives at your cabin door before you do. We had a ... Read More
We had a good cruise to Jersey with Aurora in June 2018, so booked again for Brugges with Ventura in November. The orginsation is good, luggage taken even before the entry hall and it arrives at your cabin door before you do. We had a balcony cabin which was really great. As we were on a two night cruise we didn't see much of the sea, none-the-less good to have. The ship was great in terms of communal spaces and decor, a real feeling of deluxe. The most disappointing part was the food, not the same standard as the Aurora, two meals of dried up fish, tasteless chicken stuffed with quail. The waiter couldn't tell me the names of cheeses offered. Brugges is 20 mins away from the dock gates by coach. This isn't for anyone with any sort of mobility problem as you are left at a bus stop about 1 mile walking from the centre. I didn't see anywhere this was explained in advance. Later came back on board early afternoon and went to the Glasshouse buffet on Deck 16. The salads for starters were all good, The main meals were not very appealingly presented. We eventually chose fish & chips, but the fish was dry and inededible, Something needs to be done about the help yourself chip tongs which produce about 3 chips a time with a long queue of people waiting behind you. We would have liked to go to the cinema as with Aurora, but told no cinema on board. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The embarkation process was very efficient and worked well. Our cabin was clean & comfortable, the food excellent, entertainment poor, communication by newsletter or PA not very helpful. There was no information about the Saturday ... Read More
The embarkation process was very efficient and worked well. Our cabin was clean & comfortable, the food excellent, entertainment poor, communication by newsletter or PA not very helpful. There was no information about the Saturday activities, only for the Sunday. We had wanted to to visit Brugge again but no such luck. At the last minute at 7am Sunday morning it was announced that ' too windy to dock at Zeeburgge ' the whole point of the trip! There was no rocking and rolling to be felt so we were very surprised! We just meandered along the English Channel by the White Cliffs of Dover all day and returned to Southampton. P&O must have made a packet!! If each passenger spent £50 on drinks or in the shops on board they would have made £150,000! When I cancelled the taxi I booked the taxi driver said it definitely not too windy. Wouldn't travel with P&O again after this experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
It had been a long held dream to sail to Santorini ................ Unfortunately we did not get to see Santorini or Mykonos on this cruise (the whole reason why we booked the cruise) and of course no one can argue with the forces of ... Read More
It had been a long held dream to sail to Santorini ................ Unfortunately we did not get to see Santorini or Mykonos on this cruise (the whole reason why we booked the cruise) and of course no one can argue with the forces of nature that were blowing through the Greek Islands at that time - but there was no comparable alternative offered. Just an extra day at sea (in the safe knowledge people would spend even more money in the shops/bars etc) Followed by a visit to Sardinian port, on a Sunday, which to all intents and purposes was closed. The half day visit to Gibraltar could have been extended I’m sure but that wasn’t to be. From the moment we came out of hiding in Piraeus, it seemed to be ‘full steam home’. The Captain could have been more communicative throughout this time, although P&O will say that’s NOT what passengers want! We paid five thousand pounds for a very disappointing cruise and for the money P&O must have saved by cancelling three ports and having an extra day at sea, the insult of ‘ a free drink 'with the Captain' in compensation is truly shameful. Entertainment was poor with the exception of a Gary Barlow tribute act. During the day there were all sorts of lectures and seminars which didn’t have universal appeal. Bizarrely, on one occasion, you could have your tongue examined for free in the Spa, along with the usual overpriced ‘treatments’. Unfortunately, P&O appear to have an archaic pseudo class system in place. We paid for our balcony at a higher price than they sell to their preferred 'loyalty' guest and yet because we chose to eat every night in either the Waterfront or Beach House, something as simple as blue cheese was not available unless we were prepared to eat in the Cinnamon which is cramped, noisy and to be honest when we visited The Cinnamon (just the once) the food was tasteless and lukewarm. By comparison, the food at the Waterfront was lovely, always hot and enough choice. The chefs were friendly and approachable and the waiting staff at both venues are absolutely 1st Class - fabulous. If P&O do not have a critical look at themselves and NOT move forward with the times, we feel they could be left with the same reputation as SAGA once had as the 'cruise line for the elderly cruise snobs' because that's exactly the kind of cruise we feel we have just experienced. We are absolutely sure that the time we took to answer their survey following the cruise will have been for nothing. Although P&O seem to have a monopoly on sailings from Southampton, we would think seriously about booking with P&O again. They need to bring their cruises into the 21st century - look at Royal Caribbean and yes even NCL & Marella on which we have had much better experiences. They won't of course, because they probably prefer their elitist, pretentious customer base, of which we are not. We are both professionals and wear uniforms daily and, along with many other passengers, we chose not to dress up in the P & O uniform of black tie on the formal evenings. Subsequently we were ostracized to the Waterfront, which suited us just fine. Everyone we ate with in the Waterfront and Beach House were dressed beautifully for dinner. Not once did we see anyone looking 'under-dressed' or 'scruffy' but the attitude of some of the old regulars towards 'dress code' is incredibly supercilious and snobbish. One ‘gentleman’ ordered a fillet steak on a lava rock – (which you cook yourself) he sent back to the kitchen as he didn’t like the way it was cooked !!! I don’t know how the wonderful staff put up with people like that. We overheard terrible comments being made about guests who chose not to wear black tie - I wonder if those same snobs would be particular if a paramedic and nurse who were not in formal dress might need to attend to them in an emergency ? Shame on P&O for encouraging this archaic attitude. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The embarkation was reasonably quick after being kept waiting in our car for 15min by a lack of baggage porters. Once on board lifts were a problem due to one on each floor aft end out of order causing unacceptable wait times. The ... Read More
The embarkation was reasonably quick after being kept waiting in our car for 15min by a lack of baggage porters. Once on board lifts were a problem due to one on each floor aft end out of order causing unacceptable wait times. The cabin c631 was clean and tidy although a little drab colour wise, our steward was friendly and helpful. The Baytree restaurant the food was imo predictable nothing to really get you excited , the waiters were very busy indeed often having to run ! around the restaurant . The waterside deck 16 the food at times could only be classed as canteen quality! Drinks onboard were reasonably priced The pool area was very pleasant was always possible to find a sun bed For three nights at £900 for 2 would we book anther Ventura cruise No This was our 3 Ventura cruise after a a gap of 8 yrs standards have dropped . Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Having never been on a cruise before we found a 2 night mini-cruise on the P&O Ventura over the August Bank Holiday weekend (Southampton to Guernsey and back). My first point would be that if P&O run this mini-cruise again they ... Read More
Having never been on a cruise before we found a 2 night mini-cruise on the P&O Ventura over the August Bank Holiday weekend (Southampton to Guernsey and back). My first point would be that if P&O run this mini-cruise again they should probably consider making it 3 nights and try and include Jersey as a port of call, it would have just been a slightly better length than 2 nights, which was perhaps a bit to short to fully appreciate the cruise experience (and also its nice to see multiple places). As it happened, having been to St Peter Port fairly recently, we didn't actually disembark, so stayed on the ship all day, hoping to take advantage of the reduced crowds...sadly most places seemed closed, so this plan wasn't quite as smart as we thought! Anyway, lets go back to the beginning...in terms of pre-journey information, that was okay, but I feel they could do better and give a 1 page idiots guide to arrival and embarkation. The process was actually seamless, but for example there is no-where on the P&O website that mentions liquids in your luggage. It may be obvious to regular cruisers, but to airline travellers its a valid concern, we had no idea whether we could take full sized shampoo for example or not (albeit google came to our assistance and re-assured us that if we really wanted to, we could). Physically getting on the ship was far quicker than expected, we got given a fastrack card on arrival at the terminal, no idea if that was just luck or not, but our boarding process was very quick, it felt under 30 minutes...until we got on the ship. One point that is worth making, is that as this was a mini-cruise we only had 1 suitcase, which we could have carried ourselves, however the brochure made it sound like you had to check it in. Again its unclear whether this was required, or merely suggested, clarity would be better here. So when stepping on-board it was a bit crowded, but not ridiculously so, we had a welcome photo and then walked towards the lifts (there were plenty of staff to direct people). However the lifts themselves were atrocious. I have never been in any building with such poor lifts and I can't really see why merely being on a ship they should be so bad, at least one was out of action the entire time and two at some points. They appeared to randomly skip floors (or perhaps in reality the display was just not updating quickly enough) and took forever to arrive. Most people gave up and just walked. Whilst I appreciate things can get crowded on embarkation and disembarkation, when I say these lifts were bad, I mean the whole time, even at seemingly quiet times. I feel they need an overhaul. So then we went into the cabin, met the friendly cabin steward and went for a walk around (the cabin was okay, although very dated looking, especially the bath room, I won't say more as I've written a section on the cabin below). We explored the top decks initially and people were already getting into the swing of things, with some already in the pool (quite how they managed that so quickly I have no idea)! The pool's themselves however were very small, much smaller than I'd imagined them to be (even having seen pictures), the whole pool side areas felt quite crowded and more for the hen parties on board than quiet couples, so we never went in, but the water did feel quite cold when I tested it, so I don't feel we missed much! The pool side bars felt a bit rowdy, but nothing over the top, we never saw any trouble (despite mentions of fights and so on, on this ship in previous cruise reviews we found)! This is when we got our first taste of the excellent service, we were just standing by a railing and managed to end up with a couple of very reasonably priced cocktails within minutes. Overall I must commend the staff, the service was excellent, everyone was very helpful, polite and incredibly efficient too, we did tip on top of the standard included tips at dinner, but now I feel slightly bad we didn't tip for drinks too (which being British we wouldn't normally do, but we recently saw a documentary on the wages of cruise ship employees which made us feel bad). Now onto dining…our first taste of the food, was the Waterside buffet, which had a constantly replenished array of snacks and main dishes. It was okay, not spectacular, but then I don’t think it was meant to be, acting more of a quick and easy place to grab something. There was only a minimal queue and reasonable variety, although finding a window table was rarely possible, generally by going into the second room it was possible to find a table (the only exception being upon disembarkation, where everyone had to vacate their cabin’s before breakfast, which created a huge bottleneck). For the first night, for dinner we booked the Epicurian, which is one of the ‘Select Dining’ options available and frankly we were impressed. I popped down a bit early to request a dairy free option (and pre-ordered to make life easier for the chef) and in all honesty it surpassed my expectations. The food (and the service) were both excellent, with very reasonably priced wine to accompany the meal too. The second night we ended up opting to upgrade to Sindu (an Indian themed Select Dining option) and again we were not disappointed, once again the food and service were excellent. The main disappointment with dining was the regular options, which we didn’t try for dinner, purely because the menu just looked a bit rubbish. One thing I noticed, was that (if I recall correctly) every single menu option had dairy in, which isn’t a big deal for many, but in the modern world of allergies and dietary requirements creates an unnecessary headache, surely it wouldn’t kill anyone to create at least one dairy free option (I’m sure the same could be said for gluten, so why not kill two birds with one stone). All that said, of course as I mentioned previously in the restaurants we went to the chef’s did an amazing job of creating special options for me! Aside from the restaurants I’ve already mentioned, there was the poolside grill, which did basic burgers, hot dogs etc. and were pretty much as expected (think university canteen rather than steakhouse burgers). Oh and breakfast too had the usual hot and cold options as expected, it was nice enough and other than the last morning was not too crowded. In terms of bar’s we tried the Tamarind Club, which had a very impressive band called Serious Sounds. They were a group from Barbados and had impressive vocals, with the Keyboard player even outshining the lead singer on occasions! As with everywhere on the ship, the drinks service here was very attentive and quick. We had some cocktails at a bar by the pool and again the service was very rapid, the cocktails were nice too, not watery and reasonably priced (generally sub £6 for a large cocktail, which at least compared to London prices is cheap). Wine was around £20 a bottle, which again felt very good value and a beer was (I think) around £4/£5, which is the same as a cheaper London pub. The other bar I remember, was the British pub themed one called the Exchange, by the Casino, this was showing the football, much to my wife’s horror, however we sat quietly in the corner and had a go on the slot machines as the Casino wasn’t actually open during the day (which was very surprising and a bit odd). We did actually go to one more place, which was a bar / restaurant called the Glass House, this was very wine focused and offered sets of 3 x 100ml sample glasses for around £10 each, which was a nice way to try a few different wines (they also offered standard bottles or glasses of course). Now as I mentioned, we didn’t actually disembark in Guernsey, as we thought with the reduced crowds, it would be a great time to explore the ship, however disappointingly we found the entertainment options pretty limited, with many places closed (such as the Casino, which seems a bit short-sighted). There were some shows on at the Arena theatre and a screen showing children’s films in the Tamarind club, but overall it felt like there wasn’t much left for those who stayed on-board (yet somehow the pools were still crowded)!! In the evening, the entertainment was perhaps more interesting, but after a large dinner, we didn’t really feel like a show, preferring to have a drink or two. It would have been nice if the shows were repeated on different days (perhaps they are on longer cruises), as we had pre-booked dinner before boarding on the first night, which clashed with the only show we really wanted to watch. One thing that was a bit strange is that the entertainment options were not shown in advance, which was a bit annoying, as we would have planned things a bit differently if we had known what was on in advance. We asked to have a look around the children’s clubs (as we do have a small child, although she didn’t come with us on this trip) and to be fair they looked pretty good. The only criticism is that they are rigid about the age range, so a 5 year old can not play in the 2-4 year old play room, which is perhaps a bit unfair as it means children who are days apart in age can’t play together (and there seemed to be more in the smaller children’s room, with the older one still good, but geared more towards the much older kids). The SPA we visited briefly and there is a small pool there, which is adults only, they did also suggest there was a bar there, but oddly we couldn’t find it! The shops were very limited, surprisingly so, I would have thought they would have packed more in, I could imagine on a longer cruise you’d really struggle to find things you needed and would be very bored quickly of looking around the very limited range on offer. I can’t think of much else, so onto Disembarkation. We discovered that we had to vacate our cabin by 8 am and were not impressed by this, perhaps that’s normal with P&O, but having spoken to plenty of older cruisers (including both sets of parents) this is apparently abnormally early. Additionally we were not told this until on-board, which was very frustrating as we had made plans based on our assumption of a later disembarkation. Ignoring the fact that it was annoyingly early, surely P&O know the expected arrival time in advance and could let you know when booking (the same for embarking, although at least we found this out before boarding)!!! For people that have to book a train, especially those coming from further afield, how can they possibly plan ahead??? Very poor communication in my opinion. The other problem with disembarkation was that it didn’t seem to be staggered (I think technically it was, but only in 15 minute slots, which is sort of pointless with circa 3,000 in a confined space), this meant that obviously once again the lifts were an impossibility, but worse still, everyone crowded into the buffet breakfast space, meaning the queues were horrendous and it was impossible to get a table (we managed to find some bar stools outside by a closed bar, but others weren’t so lucky). So overall, the drinks were good value for money, the Select dining was excellent, but the normal dining looked disappointing. The buffet was okay, but unexciting and very poorly co-ordinated on the last morning. Overall the ship just felt very dated and in need of an overhaul, I was surprised to read it was only around 10 years old and has already been refurbished once! It felt as if the décor / facilities were probably older than that. The cabin was okay, but not spectacular (more details in the review below) and overall I guess the value for money was okay. It wasn’t a cheap weekend by any means, but considering how much cruises can cost I don’t think it was ridiculous. Now I do want to mention the staff again, as they were all excellent and deserve to be recognised for their impeccable service. So, would we go again? Well I think we would probably try a cruise again, almost certainly with our little one, as I think she’d really like it, however sadly P&O did not create a great impression so not only would we not go on Ventura again, but would probably be inclined to opt for another operator next time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Fjords Fantastic, Wheelchair friendly ship and ports. Staff very helpful getting on off ship with wheelchair. Many regular P&O Cruisers reported this being the worst ship they had ever been on. Cruise ship disappointing. This was ... Read More
Fjords Fantastic, Wheelchair friendly ship and ports. Staff very helpful getting on off ship with wheelchair. Many regular P&O Cruisers reported this being the worst ship they had ever been on. Cruise ship disappointing. This was our first cruise, however my parents have done several cruises. Cabins were lovely and our Stewart was brilliant. Dinning Buffet meal good for breakfast, just avoid the Eggs Benedict it was cold & no crispy bacon, omelets lovely, cooked to order. Afternoon tea in buffet good. Formal Restaurant service very slow 2 - 2hrs 45 mins, our quickest service was 1hr 45mins because we didn’t stay for desert, however meals were lovely. Entertainment poor 3 good guest acts, the rest was dire, singers out of tune (and I am tonne deaf). Couple of in house bands were good. Entertainment timings didn’t work in well with Restaurant eating. Shore excursions very expensive far better to research things to do and organise yourself - P&O charging over £48 for an activity that is a 10 min walk from ship and costs £10 to go onto. In saying that the Helecopter over the glazier worth every penny. Bar service good but if you drink a lot it can get expensive. Some reception staff could be a bit abrupt at time My Mum got a 5min lecture on how to look after her room key correctly when it stopped working. Seating around indoor swimming pool, floors often running with water and was very rarely mopped. I would do the Fjords again in a heart beat. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Our family party booked a seven-night cruise of the Norwegian fjords: Southampton - Stavanger - Alesund - Olden/Louen - Bergen - Southampton. Embarkation Brisk and efficient as one would expect with a cruise. We were processed and on ... Read More
Our family party booked a seven-night cruise of the Norwegian fjords: Southampton - Stavanger - Alesund - Olden/Louen - Bergen - Southampton. Embarkation Brisk and efficient as one would expect with a cruise. We were processed and on board the ship within half an hour of arriving at the Mayflower Terminal in a taxi. Ship environment Ventura is a nice ship that is spotlessly clean and obviously very well maintained. However, it's a ten-year old ship and looks a bit tired in places. There is a general inconsistency between areas that have clearly been refurbished and those that haven't had a facelift. The atrium in most cruise ships usually has a bit of a wow factor but the central area of the Ventura is a bit poky and unimpressive. The ship's layout is a tad confusing and finding one's way around was a challenge because you can't walk through parts of certain decks. My overall impression of the ship is that it seemed very crowded with seats difficult to find for entertainment activities and sunbeds hard to secure on the open and sun decks. Food and dining The food and service for dinner in the main Bay Tree restaurant was generally excellent, with only a couple of disappointing dishes served during our stay. The menu completely changed daily and offered a wide choice of starters, main courses and desserts. You could also opt for a choice of soups and salads instead of, or in addition to, the starters and main courses, plus cheese and biscuits at the end of the meal, so it was possible to have a six course meal if you so desired. I personally didn't enjoy or rate the Marco Pierre White menu served on the first black-tie evening (and therefore avoided it on the second formal dress night). The desserts on all menus were a little lacklustre compared to the standards I have seen on other cruises. These are small criticisms though and, overall, the standard of the food was top-notch. Two of our party opted to eat in one of the select restaurants, The Epicuran, on one night and they said the food and service there was excellent. On most days we took breakfast in the Waterside buffet and the food here was very good although the choice was quite narrow compared to other cruises. Some of the serving areas are very limited for space and the layout of dishes was illogical (who on earth puts the fried bread and toast after the eggs?!) resulting in a bit of a scrum at busy times as people tried to dart in and out of different areas to assemble their breakfasts. I liked that the toast was prepared for you so you didn't have to faff about with one of those self-service machines. We got a table without too much effort on each day, even though the breakfast service was very busy. If on board, we usually took lunch or high tea in one of the buffet restaurants. Although the quality of the food was ok, the choice was very limited compared to other cruises and it was all really rather bland and uninteresting. I struggled to find something I fancied on more than one occasion, which was a cruise first for me. There is a poolside grill serving burgers, hot dogs, pizza but it isn't very obvious or well advertised and we didn't actually discover it until the final day. A major downer in the buffet restaurants is that only tea, coffee and water is available at lunch and tea with the juice/soft drink machines deactivated. Presumably this is to encourage people to buy soft drinks from the bar, but it seemed very penny-pinching of P&O. All in all the lunch and tea buffet service was significantly below the standards I expect from a premier cruise line. Drinks The bar areas are generally plush with excellent service, although they could get very busy before dinner. We enjoyed pre- or post-dinner drinks in The Metropolis at the top of the ship with stunning views, the Tamarind, Havannah and the Red Bar at various times. All nice environments for a snifter. Drinks on board were expensive but not outrageously so, and there were plenty of waiters around to take your order wherever you were on the ship. P&O didn't offer any all-in drinks packages (other than to buy a package of a few bottles of wine for dinner) which is another big mark against them in my book. Entertainment / activities I found the entertainment on offer good, both in terms of the shows staged by the in-house performers and the guest acts. In fact, the in-house shows were not far off the standards of a West End show. Guest acts I enjoyed included a comic ventriloquist and Nya King, a brilliant Whitney Houston tribute act. Unfortunately, the main theatre suffered intermittent but persistent technical problems with the stage equipment during our stay, which led to the interruption or cancellation of some shows. There was also a packed programme of activities during the day with plenty of talks, demos, sports, bingo and quizzes. My only criticisim of the entertainment is lack of seating in the main theatre and that the timing of some activities clashed with dinner sittings (why not time some events for 10pm rather than 9.30pm or 9.45pm so that dinner second sitters can go to them?). Pools and swimming The indoor pool on the lido deck was freezing and the jacuzzi hot tubs were tiny with brackish and unappealing looking water. I wish they would reserve a couple of the hot tubs in the main pool areas for adults only as you can't really use them when there are other people's unaccompanied children in them. The outdoor pool on the lido deck and end terrace pool were warmer but very deep for young children. There is an adults only pool by the spa but clearly this is suitable only for parties with no children at all, and it was hardly used by anyone from what I could see. No towels are available at the poolside, but blue bathing towels are provided in the room for use at the swimming pools. No blankets available, either, for the loungers, which I thought was unusual on a cruise ship. Ports and shore excursions We mostly did our own thing as the ship docked close to the main downtown areas of each port. We did one shore excursion, the Loen Skylift, which was superb. We would have booked more shore excursions through P&O but we like to book a day or two before rather than weeks in advance and so trips were either fully booked or had been cancelled due to low numbers. We have never had a problem doing it this way with other cruise lines, but it seemed too difficult for P&O. The shore excursion staff member we spoke to was rather dismissive and was more interested in getting away at the end of his two hour desk duty than to sell us anything. I was amazed as presumably there is a good profit in it for them! Generally, port facilties and embarkation were smooth and we did not encounter any problems. Again, though, P&O is without those nice little touches that you get from other cruise operators, such as a welcome back on ship with ice water and a hot flannel or wet wipe to freshen up, or whatever. Conclusion Overall we enjoyed the cruise very much but I am not sure that P&O will ever be our first choice of cruise line. I just felt that there was too much penny-pinching across the board and, although all these niggles were quite small individually, together they added up to an inferior overall experience when compared to Celebrity, Cunard or Royal Caribbean. A cruise is meant to be something really special, but there were too many areas where P&O don't make you feel particularly special at all. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
As suite passengers,embarkation is always smooth,taken almost immediately and then in to the priority lounge where you get complimentary teas,coffees and snacks. Then onto ship and through to champagne lunch,which we always love. Our ... Read More
As suite passengers,embarkation is always smooth,taken almost immediately and then in to the priority lounge where you get complimentary teas,coffees and snacks. Then onto ship and through to champagne lunch,which we always love. Our cabin was always clean and tidy thanks to the wonderful Umesh,our butler Andrew was also always helpful. Unfortunately,this cruise line are now cutting back on things a little too much and we have cancelled our next 3 cruises with them,such a shame as we have only ever sailed with P&O and usually twice a year and always enjoyed it. Firstly,going into Stavanger on a Sunday,I dare say this is cheaper for P&O as the place is closed,no shops open at all,we found a small bakery open where we had a lovely coffee and croissant but then just walked around waiting for the bars and cafes to open.The other port albeit it was chucking it down was Bergen,back on board by 2.30pm,what a disgrace,never in our cruises to Norway has this happened before and again I'm guessing it has something to do with port fees. On to the dress code,where the majority of people seem to like getting dressed up there are still the usual characters who still chose to slum it in joggers or shorts,even at the captains gala,they also got served their free bubbly,which should not have happened,It may seem trivial but why do these people come on cruises?why not just go to Skegness for a weekend then you can choose to dress as you like(sorry Skeggy) I think P&O are losing the way,trying to cater for all but failing miserably. At Christmas there was a rather nasty case of the noro virus but even after all the advice about using the hand sanitisers there seemed to be hardly any and where there were some,people just ignoring them and staff not telling them,we even heard one woman as we were going into dinner telling her husband she wasn't using it as she washed her hands earlier!!!! These are selfish people who don't seem to realise the noro virus spreads like wild fire and is really nasty Next is the room service,which now has a charge,as a suite passenger I find this appalling,we pay rather a lot more money for a suite and it's benefits so don't expect to pay for room service,we're not eating in the dining room so surely free food in our cabin should be allowed.when it did come my husbands pizza was black round the edges and my brie sandwich had a tiny slither of brie in it. The service as always is second to none and the waiting and cabin staff are just brilliant,always get such a laugh with them. Glass house food is still superb,you may have to wait for it but it's always fab. We are going on Ventura again over Xmas and New year but sadly that is our last with them,giving Cunard a go,they seem to be sticking to what cruising is all about. We are not snobs in any shape way or fashion and I love that EVERYONE can now enjoy cruising but some just don't know how to behave,I'm sure most of you know the type I mean and the cutbacks are just becoming a little too noticable Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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