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150 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

Having previously cruised with P&O were expecting more of the same , unfortunately it was not to be . The ship is looking tired in places ,mainly carpeting in the public areas,also some fixtures ie damage in the lifts. Our balcony ... Read More
Having previously cruised with P&O were expecting more of the same , unfortunately it was not to be . The ship is looking tired in places ,mainly carpeting in the public areas,also some fixtures ie damage in the lifts. Our balcony cabin was large and comfortable Food in the main dining room was not as good with less variety and smaller portions ,as a result of which we took most of our meals in the Waterside and Beach house self service cafe . The entertainment was very good both in the Arena and the various bars . Service is as always very good . Excursions were well organised and informative . Would not cruise with P&O again until their dress code is smart casual on non black tie nights and it is adhered to and enforced . Jeans,trainers,walking shoes and crocs. have no place in the dining room ,but apparently this is "smart casual" Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
The itinerary was the main reason for choosing this cruise particularly for excursions to Florence and Rome. Embarkation was swift and well organised as was disembarkation and our excursion to Rome was enjoyable and hassle free if a little ... Read More
The itinerary was the main reason for choosing this cruise particularly for excursions to Florence and Rome. Embarkation was swift and well organised as was disembarkation and our excursion to Rome was enjoyable and hassle free if a little rushed. So to the ship itself, we were expecting it to be a little shabby in places as she is due to have a major refit but we were pleasantly surprised by the cabin which although an inside was relatively spacious and spotlessly clean . Our cabin steward did an excellent job and was able to source a mattress topper and comfortable pillows for my partner who suffered a back problem two days into the cruise. The overall service by the hard working staff was very good, both in the restaurant and the bars but unable to comment on the service in the speciality dining areas as we did not use them. We found the food was generally good in the main dining Room ( we were on freedom dining in Saffron ) but a little hit and miss in the buffet though we could always find something to eat, all be it was not always hot. Occasionally it felt like a bun fight when passengers were entering the food area from both directions and some people were acting as if it was going to be their last meal... enough said. Entertainment was varied and the Headliners were as good as always however we found the music generally not to our taste and would have appreciated more live bands and perhaps some classical musicians playing in the main Arena theatre. The Ventura orchestra should be applauded though as they helped to show off the speciality acts to their best advantage. One of the main criticisms we had was even though Ventura is a large ship, there seemed to be a lot of wasted space. Not many passengers used the Sindhu , Glass house or the Epicurean and these are large areas which we feel could be put to better use . The Atrium dance floor was used only for dance lessons and Ballroom and there was just a complete lack of atmosphere generally in the evenings around the Ship. I personally would not choose Ventura again but I can see that She has appeal for the more senior travellers. All that said, we still enjoyed the cruise and would go with P & O again in the future but perhaps on one of the smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
5th cruise first time with P&O (Previous with Celebrity, RCL and Princess). Mixed bag this cruise some things were really good, The entertainment squarely aimed at the brits (comedians, tribute acts) was of a really good quality we ... Read More
5th cruise first time with P&O (Previous with Celebrity, RCL and Princess). Mixed bag this cruise some things were really good, The entertainment squarely aimed at the brits (comedians, tribute acts) was of a really good quality we went to the shows more on this cruise then ever before. Embarkation was a breeze and the ports were good, The Cabin bed was really comfortable and the Art class brilliant, However the food in the MDR was really samey basically meat (or fish), potatoes and two veg. With repeats on the mains and deserts. Once you took out the always available, todays roast and from the grill it was probably only about 3 mains per night that were new. Virtually no pasta, curry etc (when they did do lasagne it came with 3 veg). The veg was pretty much always mange toute, green beans and carrots (Not sure is they got a job lot) but it is going to be a while till i eat them again (14 nights....). I think there was roast beef at least 5 times. The buffet was also pretty poor as an alternatve (uninspired). My real gripe was the MDR meals are 5 courses (well there are if you want to make everyone else on your table wait). The menu is written so soups and salads appear with starters so most people order either a starter, soup or salad, a main and a desert or cheese (The cheeseboard often took ages to arrive, often had 3 - 4 small bits of cheese left on it and maybe a choice of 2 crackers). Service was woefully slow (Waiters seem to have too much todo). When a fellow passenger didn't like the soup that seemed to be of no interest (on other cruises the waiters would have at least offered something else). I made the mistake of one night trying to order a san pellogreno lemonade in the MDR - sorry can't have that here. Service in the bars was poor mocktail taking 20 minutes (so was watery), and running out of drink menu items (But i'm not a big drinking so i just didn't bother after that). Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Having sailed on Ventura before I was not expecting very much as I had been disappointed before, but being a sucker for a bargain I booked a last minute cruise. The ship is still quite dull compared with some other lines but seemed to have ... Read More
Having sailed on Ventura before I was not expecting very much as I had been disappointed before, but being a sucker for a bargain I booked a last minute cruise. The ship is still quite dull compared with some other lines but seemed to have been cleaned up a lot. The food was good and there never seemed to be a issue with finding a seat in the buffet. We were on freedom dining not by choice but it did prove to work well. Each night we were given a table for two next to the window and served with the same staff each day. The entertainment was quite good though the Headliners shows were still the same ones we have seen on other ships over a period of years. The same ongoing issue of dead spots between acts is still the same so people walk out of venues ruining the atmosphere when the next session starts. The big problem we found was with the people in the next cabin smoking on the balcony making our balcony totally unusable. My wife is in remission from breast cancer and we did not want to jeopardise her recovery. We reported the matter on the first day to reception who said "we take this very seriously" but nothing was done. I spoke to the cabin steward who said she could also smell it but could not get in the room because they put the do not disturb sign on the door when they are smoking, but she would tell her deck manager. The smoking still continued on the second day and again I reported this at reception. This time I was told by the lady that ther is nothing they could do unless they actually saw them smoking. (I can only presume that P&O staff are now trained to absail down the side of the ship to witness elicit smoking). As you may imagine I left reception realising that they do not take the matter seriously. On day three the smoking was still going on and again I reported the matter at reception, this time I explained that if nothing was done I would expect a significant refund for being unable to use the balcony. The gentleman said he would report the matter to the deck manager; again nothing happened. On day 4 I began to realise that there was more going on than just smoking, because there seemed to be a constant stream of young men knocking on the door; I will leave you to make up your own mind what was going on. By chance I noticed a three ring officer on deck and I reported the whole matter to him, a short while later the deck manager came to see me and said she had spoken to the people next door and told them to stop smoking on the balcony because the people next door had complained. This put us in a very precarious situation as we did not know how they would react towards us. The smoking continued for the rest of the cruise but we had now got to the point of giving up as staff do not seem to be bothered to take the matter seriously. On another somewhat linked matter I was speaking with a school boy who was with an acquaintance I had met on the ship and the lad told me he had been smoking cannabis on deck with his friends, I did witness this going on but felt with the reaction of the other matter I would be wasting my time reporting it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We choose this cruise mainly because we only had a small window of time which we could take a cruise, The ports were places we had not been to so they appealed to us. Embarkation was extremely smooth and our cabin was good. The cabin ... Read More
We choose this cruise mainly because we only had a small window of time which we could take a cruise, The ports were places we had not been to so they appealed to us. Embarkation was extremely smooth and our cabin was good. The cabin steward was most helpful and could not fault him in anyway. The rest of the staff, dining room, reception,and other services on the ship were just plain rude. There is no atmosphere on the ship at all. we have been on a number of cruises with different lines and this was the worst . The food in the dining room and at the buffet was just average and most of the time it was just warm. Just a small mention about the toast it was as hard as rocks and so thin that you could nearly see through it. One good point was the free washing machines and dries there was plenty of them on each floor and they were appreciated. Entertainment was good but there were a double up of the same artists Overall we were disappointed with the cruise and having brought two friends with us that had not cruised before it was a let down Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Our second cruise on this ship since November 2016, this time with elderly and wheelchair using relatives. Initial embarkation and final disembarkation could not have been easier or smoother. Absolutely brilliant checkin, checkout and ... Read More
Our second cruise on this ship since November 2016, this time with elderly and wheelchair using relatives. Initial embarkation and final disembarkation could not have been easier or smoother. Absolutely brilliant checkin, checkout and security staff at Southampton. The ship overall had a completely different feel to it compared to the November trip on a similar sort of route - not surprisingly. The holiday camp feel of the summer holiday crowd was all pervasive and the entertainment, whilst complete torture to me, was clearly enjoyed by many. Other reviewers have mentioned visible wear and tear on the ship - we didn't see much sign, but then again we saw numerous ongoing maintenance eg. new carpet sections being glued in place which explained the odd bubble gum smell in some of the stairwells. The enrichment activities included a speaker whose talk was entitled: "Serial Killers" plus an added "bonus talk" about the Yorkshire Ripper. Wasn't expecting that! We had 2 cabins for 4 of us - an accessible, balcony cabin - excellent, spacious and well designed for the wheelchair user. Ours was a nearby inside cabin - enough space given it was the cheapest type of accommodation and it served its purpose. But the loud creaking noises apparent during the crossing of the Bay of Biscay were disturbing on many levels, especially since reading a previous review where a crack appeared in the structure of this ship during a storm. The weather was fine throughout our trip and yet the roll and sway of this mega-sized ship at times kept one of our group in bed. I got some time lapse video of the swimming pools sloshing all over the place! With Freedom Dining the waiting time for a table for four was sometimes about an hour and that meant wasting loads of time during the rest of those evenings with the resulting logistical show-starting-time dilemmas. Everything took so much longer, and needed more planning, with a wheelchair user. We imagined, wrongly, that Freedom Dining would provide greater flexibility for us. It actually tied us into eating much earlier than we wanted. The food quality and choice in Freedom Dining had reduced since my last trip I guess because there were so many empty tables in the select dining restaurants that incentives are needed. Eating fish and chips whilst being required to wear black tie was faintly ridiculous. The one night with decent quality food was when the celebrity chef came aboard and created a signature set of dishes of the same quality that I had experienced previously. The self service buffets were fine and staff were really helpful with assisting our wheelchair user access the food. Finding a seat was sometimes something of a scrummage and not easy with a wheelchair. Our group didn't receive an individual safety briefing at the start of the cruise (which we expected because of the wheelchair user who is totally unable to walk). In preparation for the emergency drill we were told to take the lift to deck 7 rather than attempt to simulate a real evac. In the event of a real emergency I do not actually know what we would have done. Disembarkation during the stop at Guernsey was incompetently managed. Due to wind/choppy conditions the tender service could not operate during the morning of arrival and all morning excursions were cancelled. But when the weather improved at lunchtime, the crew announced the tenders were running. However, they failed to manage the queuing system as over 1,500 passengers wanted to get off the ship all at once. A queue zig zagged chaotically around the atrium and whole central section of the ship and the crew disappeared rather than attempt to manage the aggressive outbursts which occurred. It was a vile experience. It took 2 hours to get off and a further hour to queue to get back on leaving 2 hours in St Peter Port. Contrast this experience with final disembarkation which was superbly handled and phased to perfection. Ship WiFi at £12 per 24 hours for the medium package was not good value. I measured download speeds of between 0.16 and 0.40 Mbps. With free mobile data packages now available on many UK mobile phone tariffs I waited till port to catch up with home. Ports were good: Vigo - did an accessible P&O excursion to Baiona - well organised and very talkative and informative guide. Lisbon - accessible transfer vehicle to the centre only takes one carer per wheelchair user - so the group was split. We walked back to the ship rather than use the shuttle. Oporto - there was no accessible shuttle transfer to the town so we got one to the port gates and walked along the huge beach. St Peter Port - garden tour of Guernsey was cancelled sadly. On balance won't be going with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
we chose this cruise because we thought it would make a great change to sail to the Canary Islands instead of the med, our usual destination. We chose to sail with P & O having sailed on Britannia last year and absolutely loving her. ... Read More
we chose this cruise because we thought it would make a great change to sail to the Canary Islands instead of the med, our usual destination. We chose to sail with P & O having sailed on Britannia last year and absolutely loving her. Last year we holidayed with our daughter and grandson but this year we travelled as a couple. Because I have quite severe walking/disability issues we need to be near middle of ship for ease of getting about. Embarkation was quite smooth. Just as well because we had travelled down to Southampton, by coach from Co Durham which was an uncomfortable and tiring experience this year. Once at Southampton I had assisted boarding which is a lifesaver and I take my hat off to the people who provide this amazing service. Once we arrived in our cabin we immediately looked at each other with real disappointment, We had a superior deluxe cabin, but compared to same cabin on Britannia it looked so very shabby. Yes the balcony is bigger than the same one on Britannia but Ventura cabin looks in need of a refit and a good scrub. Bathroom is a good size but looks as though everything needs replacing. Really everything in our cabin needed to be spruced up, replaced or repaired. Sadly, this was the same right throughout ship. The worst aspect of the cruise, however, was the food we had freedom dining and ate mainly in the formal dining room, whilst, we only twice had to wait for a table with the famous 'buzzer', once seated we quickly found the food to be a huge disappointment. Quality of the food was very poor apart from breakfast which was very good. However, all of the staff on Ventura were all amazing, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. We enjoyed the entertainment though, and thought prices of drinks were very reasonable. In conclusion the ship desperately needs a refit but can be very proud of staff. Would like to mention Edwin in Glasshouse who is a gem, smile to light up any room, and who served us with the best meal we had on Ventura which sadly we had to pay extra for because of it being a speciality restaurant Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Have cruised with P&O in the past and wanted another cruise to the Mediterranean. Generally we prefer the smaller to mid sized ships and now that we have sailed on Ventura we still hold that view! It's quite a difficult ship to ... Read More
Have cruised with P&O in the past and wanted another cruise to the Mediterranean. Generally we prefer the smaller to mid sized ships and now that we have sailed on Ventura we still hold that view! It's quite a difficult ship to navigate around, a view shared by other passengers, and for a large ship it did seem to suffer quite a lot of movement, even though seas generally very calm. Our outside cabin was of sufficient size and kept immaculate by our lovely Steward Dannychris. Although we were assured that this cabin on E Deck was not a blocked view, it actually had limited visibility towards the direction of travel, but a straight out view was fine. The Ship's decor was obviously good at its inception but now buffet areas and cabins are definitely in need of refurbishment, as quite soiled. Staff, mostly helpful although the odd dour one occasionally. Freedom Dining not effective if you want a 2 person table, often sent away with bleeper for 45 mins each night quite irritating as made eating very late. Food not good for first part of cruise, better in the latter half. Entertainment very good & high standard in the Arena theatre, but space very short on good nights. Sitting out areas very limited for numbers of people, and particularly annoying with so many seats occupied by towels with no occupants, P&O say these will be removed after 30 mins but never happened. Atrium/Coffee shop area used for teaching dancing which meant constant noise & very few places to sit quietly with no noise!! Felt like we might be at one of those well known camping sites, rather than a med cruise!! P& O have made several cut backs which were not appreciated by the passengers who felt less valued. Shore excursion Manager very bad at dealing with a complaint, 5 days to resolve! Lovely weather and good ports. Embarkation and Disembarkation efficient. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
*Excellent embarkation and disembarkation - very well organised *The cabin was spacious enough and had an extra large balcony - which was shaded but this suited us *Freedom dining in the buffet was great, less so in the restaurants ... Read More
*Excellent embarkation and disembarkation - very well organised *The cabin was spacious enough and had an extra large balcony - which was shaded but this suited us *Freedom dining in the buffet was great, less so in the restaurants downstairs where the choice was limited *The 3 speciality restaurants were all excellent and to be recommended - sitting on the top deck sailing out of Naples into the setting sun and eating wonderful food was an unrivalled experience * Marked lack of decent entertainment and activities, expected interesting lectures about the ports of call and the area travelled through, not 'pop' psychology and the royal yacht Britannia *Service couldn't be faulted, cabin steward was excellent and interesting, restaurant staff helpful *Some very good excursions, particularly Pompeii, the Etruscans sadly cancelled due to lack of interest. All ports were easy to access and great places nearby to visit easily on ones own Never again want to be on a ship which sails out of European ports with a deckload of people singing Rule Britannia so no probably wouldn't sail with P&O again Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
The ship was beautiful and elegant all areas were well looked after and clean the food was well presented and very well cooked entertainment was varied with something for everyone we landed in Southampton by coach at 1330 and were in the ... Read More
The ship was beautiful and elegant all areas were well looked after and clean the food was well presented and very well cooked entertainment was varied with something for everyone we landed in Southampton by coach at 1330 and were in the cabin by 1345 the port we reason we selected this cruise was the itinerary as there were a few ports we hadn't visited before and we weren't disappointed an excellent 14 days. The only bad point I have is the fact that some passengers are still vaping and smoking on balconies which can make it unpleasant walking down corridors. The staff were all extremely professional and were willing to go the extra mile to make our cruise go as smoothly as possible we had ordered flowers to be delivered to our cabin and the beautiful display lasted the whole fortnight the champagne and chocolates which were ordered were also good quality. The Anderson gin cocktails were far too easy to drink. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Itinerary suited us, good mix of sea days and port days. Ship now looking tired, damaged and torn seats and leaks from ceilings in public areas and marked and damaged fittings in cabin, although the ship was spotlessly clean. Ship ... Read More
Itinerary suited us, good mix of sea days and port days. Ship now looking tired, damaged and torn seats and leaks from ceilings in public areas and marked and damaged fittings in cabin, although the ship was spotlessly clean. Ship didn't seem to have the atmosphere it usually did, cabin steward and waiters didn't seem to have time to talk. Most days we were waiting for food in the buffet restaurant. The theatre show times had been altered and made it difficult to get to the theatre and a show afterwards. Many of the little fancy touches that made P and O special were missing. Shore excursions included a lot of walking, not suitable for me. Picked only two with minimal walking, and still ended up struggling to cope. Not enough information is given on board ship about the ports. What shops are within walking distance, where the bus stops are and how to get to them. Entertainment staff and Headliners theatre company made the holiday, they are so hard working. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
The Ventura is long overdue for a refit, but All Staff were superb Our cabin ( suite ) was shabby. TV and system is obsolete. 10 foot overhang over balcony ( cabin R 412 ) made the the balcony sunless and the cabin gloomy. Extremely ... Read More
The Ventura is long overdue for a refit, but All Staff were superb Our cabin ( suite ) was shabby. TV and system is obsolete. 10 foot overhang over balcony ( cabin R 412 ) made the the balcony sunless and the cabin gloomy. Extremely crowded with over 3000 passengers. Long waits for lifts. Best shows all seats taken 30 - 45 minutes before start. Almost no public rooms with few quiet places to relax. Promenade only 8 ft wide and not continuous. Out of bounds in large areas above the spa. Epicurian (£28) and Sindu (£20 ) uninspiring. After 20 plus cruises this was the least satisfying. Excursions poor with little consideration for the less mobile. No classic recitals. Only one lecturer who many have heard before. Few disabled cabins , no auto doors for disabled toilets. Overall design of the Ventura could be described as greedy with no wow factor Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Went on this cruise as we wanted to visit the Greek islands. Good embarkation at Southampton. Ports were good. Quite a few children onboard but not too bad. Dining on freedom and had good waiters and food. Entertainment, good ... Read More
Went on this cruise as we wanted to visit the Greek islands. Good embarkation at Southampton. Ports were good. Quite a few children onboard but not too bad. Dining on freedom and had good waiters and food. Entertainment, good but day activities were mainly geared around the spa! Not our scene. Sadly no port lecturer, just listen to it on the tv! Shore experience was very good enjoyed all the ports and well organised by the staff. We (four of us) had a lovely cruise and weather, missed one port but the captain managed to get us into another port before getting to Gibraltar. The morning of our disembarkation we received our final bills. That was correct, however on our return home and getting our credit card bills we find both couples have been charged extra which is been taken up with P&O who initially came back and said it was either food or drink! We have asked for a breakdown of the bill to define what we have been charged for! And will continue with the dispute as none of used the mini bars. My sister had her mini bar contents removed on the first day by the steward! We put it all at the back of the fridge not touched. Moral is double double check yr mini bar on arrival and on your last day/night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This was my 13th. cruise and my 4th. (in a row) with P&O. I travelled on Ventura in 2015 and all was well-but I'm sad to say the ship now needs some serious restoration. As with my other reviews on this site, I'll split this ... Read More
This was my 13th. cruise and my 4th. (in a row) with P&O. I travelled on Ventura in 2015 and all was well-but I'm sad to say the ship now needs some serious restoration. As with my other reviews on this site, I'll split this up into catergories starting with... Embarkation/Disembarkation. Sailing from Southampton in the UK. A complete breeze. P&O know what they're doing. Although the ship was completely booked up, there were loads of staff waiting at the terminal in Southampton. My car was taken by a local long-term parking company and I was directed to the main terminal building. Inside were (literally) hundreds of people getting their cabin keycards. But everything was perfectly smooth and I was onboard in around half an hour. Disembarkation was also a breeze. I'm a "walk off". That is somebody who can take their own luggage and leave the ship without any assistance. I was off the ship around 0730, I picked up my car and I was on the road home by 0800. Fantastic organisation. Demographics. The ship was fully booked and not exclusively British. I heard several eastern European, Asian and American accents. As it was the school Easter holidays, there were lots of families with children onboard and I estimate that the average age of the psasengers was in the forties-maybe less. There was (depending who you spoke to) around 300 to 400 children (under 12 and younger-I don't count teenagers) onboard. As I don't have kids of my own, I forgot about the Easter holidays. I'm not making a social comment, but everywhere you went during the day, there were loads of screaming kids-especially around the swimming pools. I tried to avoid this, but you couldn't get away from them. This made daytime activities difficult and I had trouble finding a nice quiet corner to relax. There was an "adults only" section of the ship, but this had a daily charge attatched and I wasn't going to pay. Talking of daily charge...P&O charge £6 per per per day on everybody's account. They call this a "hotel charge". This applies to all passengers over 12. I went to reception and asked for a form to remove this charge. P&O cannot force people to pay this it and I feel very strongly about being told when and how much (if at all) I am going to tip staff. I did tip my steward 50 Euros but that is as far as I will go. The cruise companies need to look at this as these trips are expensive enough. Food/drink. I requested first sitting in the main dining room (MDR) but I was given "freedom dining". Not for me. I like sitting down with the same people discussing the day, not with different people every night with the same questions...Where are you from/what do you do/married/kids etc. Because of this, I had my evening meals in the buffet. The food on offer was very good with themed nights..Curry night/Italian night/British pub food etc. All in all, very tasty. There are speciality restaurants on the ship-Sinhdu/Epricurean/Glass House and others. There is a cover charge on these but I have tried Sinhdu and I would highly recommend them. There won't be any screaming kids in these restaurants. As to alcohol...P&O claim that they charge "pub prices". Not where I'm from they're not. Beer was served in British Imperial pints (as opposed to the American pint which is 16 fluid ounces-British pints are 20 fluid ounces). My regular pub charges £3.05 for a pint and I could go to a Wetherspoons (to non-British readers Wetherspoons is a major UK pub chain) and pay around £1.80 for a pint, so I don't think P&O is charging pub prices. Permium beers/bottles cost even more. There was the usual spirits/wines/cocktails/champagne on offer-again at a lot more than you would pay in a pub. The ship and its staff. As I said above, I travelled on Ventura in 2015 and it had a refit in that year. I have to report that it needs another one-and soon. The carpets in the main public areas and staircases were threadbare and there was paint chips on the woodwork all over the place. Also, it seemed to me that the decor hadn't changed in the two years since I was on Ventura. P&O need to look at this with a serious update. I will say that all of the public areas/toilets/bars/restaurants were spotless all the time. The lower order of staff (bar staff/cabin stewards/cleaners) were mainly Indian and Filipino, very friendly and nothing was too much trouble. My cabin steward-Vincy-was brilliant. My cabin. I paid what P&O call an "early saver" fare. I was allocated an inside double room despite the fact that I had only paid a single fare as opposed to double for a solo traveller. The cabin was ok but as I have said above about a refit, the cabins need updating. There's loads of storage space-drawers/cupboards etc. but the shower/toilet had seen better days. Entertainment. I'm not a show person but there was the usual onboard troupe-Headliners-doing shows in the main theatre. There were resident bands and guest singers all doing MOR music. All very good. I did go and see an Elton John tribute in the Havana bar. He was very good and looked the part. He did two shows on two of the days and they were well attended. Daytime/night activities included quiz nights in the pub "The Exchange". I used to write pub quizzes as a hobby so I don't take part. There was guest lecturer talking about famous singers-Frank Sinatra/Elvis Presley-very informative. At least there wasn't any screaming kids there. Our route. We visited Vigo in Spain, Lisbon and Opporto in Portugal and Cherbourg in France. The weather could have been a little better but it was the first week in April so I didn't expect too much. We did have 32C in Lisbon and Opporto but it cooled down a bit in Cherbourg. I booked excusions with P&O before I travelled visiting the Oceanarium in Lisbon, a port vineyard in Opporto and the Bayuex Tapestry in Bayuex-about an hour's drive from Cherbourg. All very interesting. The Bayuex Tapestry was on my "Bucket List" so thats one done. I did my own thing in Vigo. And no screaming kids. Note: If you decide to do your own thing or use local tour guides in the ports of call and you miss the sailaway-tough. I will be your responsibility to get to the next port and at your own expense. The ship will not wait for you. And if you try to claim back any costs incurred on your travel insurance, they won't pay out as it was your own fault for missing the ship. If, on the other hand, you use an official P&O trip and you're late, the ship will wait for your return. Observations. This is not a social comment. I have said this on previous reviews and have been completely vilified. Going back to the kids onboard. In the buffet, kids were running about with no control from parents. This could be potentially dangerous and P&O need to sort this out. Also, at night, parents were carrying kids who were fast asleep or in buggies/pushchairs in loud, busy bars. These children were very young-some less that a year old. I know that when I was that age, I was in bed by a certain time and if I complained about it, I got smacked. I know that this isn't "politically correct" in this day and age, but I think this is wrong. I will say that during the evenings, the slightly older kids were well behaved and in complete control. But kids don't need to be in loud bars when the adults are enjoying the entertainment. One one occasion, I went to the Metropolis Bar. This is a smaller, intimate bar with a piano player, mood lighting-all very nice. Unfortunately, there were several families in the bar with around ten kids running about all over the place. This was around one o'clock in the morning and I had popped in for a nightcap before retiring for the night. Not something that is needed in what I would call an "adult bar". I won't make the mistake of booking another cruise when the kids are on holiday in the future. Conclusions. The ship...A bit threadbare and in need of a refit. Food/Drink...The buffet was very good-I can't comment on the MDR's-and the alcohol prices are still too high. The staff...Excellent. Weather..I know we can't control the weather but we did get two or three very warm days-the cruise was in the first week of April. Marks out of ten? I'll give this cruise six out of ten. I've deducted points for high beer prices, ship a bit tatty and too many screaming kids. I will recommend Ventura to first timers and seasoned cruisers-just don't book a cruise in the school holidays. Did I mention the screaming kids? Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Wanted to get away early in the year and visit a few new places. Chose this cruise because of its itinery. Embarkation and Disembarkation was superb unlike the usual airport chaos. Decent cabin on A deck with small balcony. Good food in ... Read More
Wanted to get away early in the year and visit a few new places. Chose this cruise because of its itinery. Embarkation and Disembarkation was superb unlike the usual airport chaos. Decent cabin on A deck with small balcony. Good food in the restaurant but the pool side buffets are no better than a motorway service station and best avoided. Excellent entertainment very large theatre but you need to be there an hour before the show starts to get a decent seat. The Havana Bar and Tamarind Club are very poorly designed, it is almost impossible to see any of the acts no matter where you sit. The bars serve real ale in bottles Marstons Pedigree and Doombar as well as the usual keg rubbish. The bar prices are very reasonable, house wines were of a decent quality. Extensive shore excursions are offered went on a couple but not very good value better to get an open top bus. Ran into bad weather off Cartagena bobbed about all day offshore and was unable to land, landed in Malaga the next day but weather very poor heavy rain so returned to the ship after a short walk around the town. Weather in Maderia was also poor but was able to take the open topped bus before the rain started. Decent weather in Lisbon, Cadiz, Gibralter and Casablanca. Spent too many days at sea the daytime entertainment is limited to Bingo and Quizzies, just one speaker, gave talks on Ocean Liners very interesting, lots of beauty type treatments trying to sell you overpriced creams and lotions. Decent enough service from the staff. This was our 1st trip with P&O and I would not book with them again. Rob Brydon tells you that This Is The Life but it is not my idea of life. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We choose this cruise because it was a golden wedding anniversey and husbands 70 birthday.And last year was an annos horribilus for our family with to of the family being hit by the big C.Although ok now , it took its toll. Any way we ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it was a golden wedding anniversey and husbands 70 birthday.And last year was an annos horribilus for our family with to of the family being hit by the big C.Although ok now , it took its toll. Any way we arrived at Southampton with excitement and just glad to have reached this goal.We were very soon on board, and although the Ventura is definatly showing signs of wear, still had some places where she sparkled.Cabin A 627 deck 12. Was similar to the ship, ok but showing signs of wear, balcony with 2 chairs one foot rest and one small table.Plenty of clothes storage space and enough room for changing in.A very small shower, but adequete.The room attendant Sandesh, arrived to welcome us and show us round etc. Seemed very genuine and caring.We are not given to dressing up for meals, but do put on clean shirt trousers etc.So we opted really to use the buffet for our meals, plus we could dine when we wanted, which works for us.The food was adequete, if a bit sameish.There was no squash throughout the day, just tea or coffee. The entertainment was very good , a special word here for the onboard show team of young people who put on about 8 different shows, they put their heart and souls into each show.AMAZING****. Didnt rate the comedian very much, not my humour. Of course there were lots of other things going on round the ship, so we would float in and out where we wanted. Liked the small library and computor area, dear though, nice young lady managing area.the usuall mix of passengers and I heard 45 childen, didnt see much of them, shame like to see them enjoying themselves. Ports were good we have often been to Madiera, like it there a lot, plus we didnt realise but it was carnival time while we were there, as with another 3 visits.so that was a bonus. Ihad call to visit the ships doctor while onboard, with some sort of allergy on my face, which was sore swollen, needed cortizone cream, anyway I was impressed with the professional treatment from the senior nurse and doctor. Looking forward to next cruise, I probably sound like an old grump, but really it was good. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
10 of us went as a group for a 3 day break , time away from children , grandchildren , nagging partners and husbands :) We arrived at Southampton and was whisked through security and passport control at such a speed, so different from ... Read More
10 of us went as a group for a 3 day break , time away from children , grandchildren , nagging partners and husbands :) We arrived at Southampton and was whisked through security and passport control at such a speed, so different from airports. before we knew it we were onboard ! The staff are lovely and very friendly. Room had window with restricted views ( lifeboat outside ) Very clean and pleasant. Top tip adjust your temp control to suit you ( i froze the first night ! ) warm as toast once i realised. Food is top class in the buffet . The two other places to eat included in the price were fab. Black tie was great we all enjoyed dressing up. We decided to eat at the beach house on the last night , we paid the extra as my sister and i fancied the ribs , they looked fab . Tasted awful :( everything tasted of pine and lemon toilet cleaner ! we couldn't eat them at all ! others meals looked fab . The nightclub was great fun and didnt close till the last person left. We enjoyed the quizes in the afternoon. The drinks are pretty much the same as pub prices . You can go to reception and get a tally of what you have spent at any time.. All in all a great time and a great taster cruise . Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We had heard really positive things about P&O, and so chose them to be our first cruise. We selected a mini cruise of four nights to give us a chance to explore the ship. Before sailing we read some reviews and forums here and were ... Read More
We had heard really positive things about P&O, and so chose them to be our first cruise. We selected a mini cruise of four nights to give us a chance to explore the ship. Before sailing we read some reviews and forums here and were expecting things to perhaps look a little worn, and that a cruise during half term plus it being short that it might be a little rowdier than normal. We were thrilled with embarkation- we arrived early due to travel arrangements, and were prepared to wait until our time slot - the free magazines were a bonus. We were called to check in before our time slot and were on the boat 90minutes earlier than expected. Our cabin was on deck 9, and was a good size (Sup Deluxe Balc) . It looked a little tired as expected, and the sofa bed was certainly worse for wear and wasn't that comfy to sit on due to the slope of the seat cushions. There was a very chilled bottle of champagne waiting for us with chocolates, which was nice to see and a feature of our cabin grade. The sofa bed had a faulty spring, and still was not fixed at the end of our four night cruise, meaning our son slept on a bed on an angle. This wasn't great and I was surprised at the apparent lack of concern over this. The bathroom was a good size, but smelt rather stale. Our first meal was at the Beach House buffet, this wasn't great. It was a real scrum. The food was average, but felt more like an experience at a motorway service area than the cruise experience we were led to believe we would have. That evening we went to cinnamon as we had freedom dining. There was a wait for tables, and we said we would share. That was a mistake not to be repeated. We were put on a table with a party of five. They didn't interact with us at all, ordered multiple dishes at every course, and the gentleman seated to my side took my cutlery to use, leaving me with just some forks. I had to ask for ,ore cutlery and the waiter serving tutted. It wasn't the best experience. Overall the food in the Freedom dining restaurants was good, and nicely presented although brought out far too fast - which meant that as a slow eater, some of our meals were not that hot as they were sat on the side whilst I finished my starter. Food in the buffet restaurants was not so nice, often lukewarm at best and poorly presented, name cards for a lot of items were missing. Service was a real mix. Sometimes it was excellent and really friendly whilst at other times it felt like we were being treated with disdain. We often had to ask for water and bread rolls. The final evening we were given just one menu to share between us, with no apology given. Entertainment and facilities were good, the information about ports was good. Our cabin steward was lovely and friendly, and concerned we weren't eating enough. Would we go again? Well we had already booked another cruise before this one, so you could say yes, although given our experience I'm not sure I'd go with P&O again, and am tempted to ring them to see about cancelling the next cruise and switching to another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Ventura Cruise N703 to Amsterdam and Brugge. Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th February 2017. Day 1 - Wednesday 15th February 2017 With a 'priority boarding' time slot of 1230, we aimed to arrive at the Mayflower Cruise ... Read More
Ventura Cruise N703 to Amsterdam and Brugge. Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th February 2017. Day 1 - Wednesday 15th February 2017 With a 'priority boarding' time slot of 1230, we aimed to arrive at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal at 1115, this being the earliest advertised time for car drop off with CPS. Having had a hassle free drive down to Southampton, in spite of the rainy weather, we arrived at 1110. Much to our surprise, we were struck by the fact that a lot of passengers were still disembarking. The traffic Marshall told us that there was a delay with disembarkation due to the "luggage having been loaded on the wrong side of the ship". On the basis that luggage probably spans the entire width of the ship, we doubted the validity of that explanation, but we agreed to drive off and return 30 minutes later. As we turned the corner, another marshal beckoned us into a holding lane on the dockside railway tracks, so we duly obliged! After around 10 minutes we were called forward to the unloading lanes where we vacated the car with our luggage. Due to the delayed disembarkation, we then had to stand and wait around 15 minutes for the CPS staff to 'check in' the car and then a further 15 minutes until the porters arrived as they were having their coffee break. No complaints though as we were conscious that we were very early and we were still inside the terminal by 1145. We were ushered straight to the front of the priority boarding line but then had a 5 minute or so wait there until called. Again, no problem - we were now in holiday mode! Check in complete, we proceeded to the priority boarders 'lounge' (a roped off corner of the general waiting area) where we enjoyed a very welcome cup of tea and a delicious millionaires shortbread. As disembarkation had been delayed, we relaxed thinking that the usual 1230 embarkation would be later than usual. Much to our surprise, at 1210 we were told that we could now board! Whizzing around the perimeter of the main lounge, we were through security in around 2 minutes and on board by 1215. Most impressive. Although we had an invite to the priority boarders reception in one of the main dining rooms, as creatures of habit we headed straight to the Waterside buffet for one of the delicious P&O curries. Embarkation is the one and only time we use the buffet as we are there ready for when it opens. I have followed too many of my fellow male species out of the loos over the years who have failed to wash their hands and then head directly into the buffet, in addition to countless folk of all ages and sexes who have a habit of licking food spills off their fingers and then continuing to handle the serving tongs. Over 8 previous cruises we have managed to avoid Norovirus (even when there have been outbreaks on board) and I am convinced that this is due to our avoiding the buffet other than on day one when we are first in! Come to think of it, they didn't have the usual staff manning the entrances forcibly squirting hand gel. Sadly, there was no normal curry on offer, just a biryani which was very dry and almost all rice. We had enough food to quell the 'post travelling hunger pangs', by which time our friends had texted to say that they were in the priority boarders restaurant. As we were carrying a small amount of hand luggage and were wearing coats, we diverted via our cabin (A752 Peninsular Suite, classed as a Penthouse). First impressions of the suite were good. The furnishings are quite dated and (in the case of TV's) sub-standard compared to Britannia, but we knew that would be the case. There was plenty of space, with a dining area, large lounge, adequate bedroom area, good bathroom facilities and a large balcony. The only negative was the tiny wardrobe area which would be adequate for up to 7 nights, a crush for 14 nights and impossible for anything longer. The design (difficult to describe) was poor and access very difficult as 50% of the (limited) hanging space is hidden behind shelving. The biggest positive, as we would discover, was that we didn't hear a sound from any other passengers throughout the 4 days, other than the dragging around of deckchairs above on a couple of occasions (the first time at 0630 on the first morning which, given the time and weather, we figured was the staff moving them in order to clean the decks). Noise and vibration from the stern thrusters was enough to wake the dead, but this is short lived and serves as an alarm clock to alert you to port arrivals, so no complaints about that. Strangely, vibration in the public areas at the rear of the ship (Epicurean, Beach House etc) was quite noticeable when the ship was moving, but was not evident in our suite. Very odd. An added benefit was that, although the suite had a standard width door, the wheelchair (a narrow version) just about squeezed through without having to be dismantled. Next stop Saffron restaurant for the priority boarders reception. This was better than the one we had on Britannia last summer. Although still very limited, there was a wider selection of food (still snacks rather than meals) and the freebie sparkling wine, whilst definitely not Champagne, was at least palatable, unlike the stuff served on Britannia which we couldn't drink as it was so vile. Drinks service was very good, but wouldn't be representative of what we would experience throughout the rest of the cruise. Back to the suite to unpack before the safety drill. Our butler (Dinesh) introduced himself. Nice chap but we don't really use them other than for the delivery of the very poor canapés (other than the lovely chocolate covered strawberries on formal night) and next day menus (which didn't materialise on this cruise). The cabin stewards do all the real work. As we reached the lifts, life jackets in hand, there was an announcement that the drill was going to be delayed by 30 minutes as some coach passengers hadn't arrived. We decided to go to our assembly lounge (The Tamarind Club) anyway to ensure that we had a seat. A very officious crew member (who looked like a gym instructor) was wandering around checking the assembly letter on people's life jackets and being very insistent that they moved to the correct assembly point if they were in the wrong place. Quite right. Although the drill is essential, I love it when they end, as it's the one and only thing that you have no option but to attend and our time is our own thereafter. Back to the suite just in time to watch our departure (over an hour late) from the balcony and to relax prior to the evening activities. Around 7pm, whilst travelling around the Isle of Wight, we had a very unexpected surprise which would be one of the two highlights of the cruise. We suddenly became aware of a very loud noise from outside and ventured out on to the balcony. Had it not been for a lunch we had with P&O's overall Head of Security a year or so ago (following a ship visit), we would have been convinced that the ship was being subject to a terrorist attack. Thankfully, as he had told us that this happened from time to time, we instantly realised that we were witnessing a SBS (Special Boat Service, the Naval equivalent of the SAS) exercise. There were 5 or 6 ribs (rigid hull, inflatable sides), each containing around ten SBS operatives, all dressed in dark clothing, taking it in turns, two boats at a time, to roar right up to the stern of the ship (through the wake). They must have been touching the ship as they disappeared under the balcony and couldn't be seen at all. After a short time, they would roar off to the side (they sounded as though they had very powerful engines) and immediately two more would roar in from behind across the wake to take their place. All very dramatic and quite a sight and sound and, of the several thousand people on board, there were probably less than a dozen of us who witnessed it or were even aware of it having happened. We were going to dine in the Beach House, but a last minute change of plans resulted in us dining in Sindhu. Although curry is my favourite food, I can take or leave Sindhu, but this was a lovely meal to start the holiday and service was very good (unlike the other Select dining restaurants, as we would discover later in the cruise). We finished in time for the 1030pm show which, unusually for a first night, was a full scale Headliners production. I am told it was quite good but I only saw the first 5 minutes and was woken intermittently by the clapping. Time for bed. Day 2 - Thursday 16th February After a good nights sleep (other than being woken at 0630, which was really 0530 as the clocks had changed) by deck chairs being dragged around overhead, we headed to The Epicurean for the Suite passengers breakfast. On Britannia, this is an absolutely superb experience with very good (albeit limited) food and exemplary service. Frankly, it's a major reason we book a Suite as it's a lovely way to start the day. Sadly, on Ventura, this is a poor replica. Having placed our order as tea and toast arrived, we proceeded to wait 50 minutes with no sign of our order materialising. When I eventually called a waiter over to ask what was happening, panic seemed to set in and our hot food arrived quite quickly, the previous parts of the order (cereal etc) having been missed altogether. Food quality and presentation wasn't quite as good the standard on Britannia. The usual delicious fruit smoothies were all completely flavourless, until the last morning. Very strange. All in all, very disappointing for the supposed top tier restaurant. Sea day activities are usually very limited for the under 70's, unless you are in to health and beauty, low level exercise or sport. As none of these appeal, the best we could find was a talk on LS Lowry which, to be fair, was quite interesting. I managed four laps of the promenade deck before lunch, something that you cannot do on Britannia. We ventured into the main dining room for lunch but, with breakfast having arrived so late and our one and only afternoon tea looming, we just had a light meal. We rarely elect to share a table but did so on this occasion with another couple, a mother and daughter and a retired gentleman who was either travelling or dining alone. I broke the awkward silence a minute or so after we had all ordered and it turned out that the couple and the mother and daughter all came from Southampton, so we had something in common as we lived there for a while over 20 years ago. Next the husband of the Southampton couple raised the subject of how much they had paid (£399, which I presume was each). I never understand why people do this. Either you hack other people off or ruin your own holiday by finding out that you paid more than they did. Sure enough, the mother and daughter had paid £349. All failed to mention which category of cabin they had, but from the prices they were clearly both inside cabins. We opted out of this part of the conversation, not just because we had paid a lot more, but because we would have had to explain that there are around 25 categories of cabin and the reason we had paid a lot more was because we were in a top tier suite. Sometimes, diplomacy is the best approach! The solo traveller didn't say a word (he didn't want to talk at all, even when I tried to engage him in conversation - all I managed to establish was where he was from) and I was unclear why he wished to dine on a shared table. After lunch we headed to the Arena Theatre where we watched the film 'Sully' about the emergency landing of a passenger jet on the Hudson River in New York. As it is a true story (which we could recall) we enjoyed the film, in spite of the poor picture quality (slightly out of focus or insufficient picture quality to be blown up to that size). What is it with some people who feel that's it's acceptable to enter 10 minutes after the film has started and expect half a row to stand up (blocking the screen for all those behind) as they progress to the centre, illuminating their route (and dazzling everyone in the process) with the intense light on their mobile phones? Perhaps they are in the same category as those who insist on bringing the noisiest possible food (crisps or wrapped sweets) into theatres. Sadly, there were no windows nearby for me to throw them overboard. I shall watch the film again at home when it comes on TV, in glorious high definition and without the presence of these thoughtless idiots! As the film ended, we had to hot-foot it to The Epicurean again, this time for the Eric Lanlard afternoon tea. On this occasion, food quality and service was on a par with Britannia and it was a most enjoyable experience. Although this evening was a Gala Black Tie Dinner, there was no Captains Welcome Aboard Reception. Clearly 4 day cruises don't warrant giving passengers a free drink. As with other shortcomings that we noticed on this cruise (our 9th with P&O but our first short cruise), we felt that this was a mistake. Most passengers were first time cruisers and things like that help to get them 'hooked' on the whole cruise experience. The lack of this reception resulted in the evening not feeling quite as 'special' as it usually does. We dined in the main dining room (after a wait of one hour for a table for four) and the food quality (Marco Pierre White menu) and service were good, other than cheese which seems to be served reluctantly these days (when we first cruised with P&O all passengers were offered cheese after desert. Now they seem to think it is instead of a desert and if you want both it's a bit of an effort for them). In another break with what we are used to on formal nights, there was no Headliners production show, just a 'famous' soul singer who was so famous we had never heard of him, a comedian (there's only so many cruising gags you can laugh at in one lifetime) and Gareth Oliver, a ventriloquist from Britains Got Talent. As this seemed like an entertainment line up from the 1970's, none appealed so we headed to Metropolis for an after dinner drink, listening to Shades Duo. We would have preferred a Crows Nest bar but Ventura and Azura lack one in favour of the gym, which is daft. Drinks service was poor. The waiter was disinterested and unhelpful. The female singer of Shades Duo has a very nice voice but her repertoire was sadly cut short as an obnoxious and very drunk man who, although probably in his 30's was on holiday with his grandparents, started verbally having a go at her. Clearly distressed she left the venue and shortly afterwards a P&O security officer arrived. We didn't stay to see how it all ended, but he surprisingly wasn't offloaded the next day. Sadly, this wouldn't be the last example of appalling passenger behaviour we would witness. Day 3 - Friday 17th February After another good nights sleep, we woke to the bow thrusters as we manoeuvred on to the berth in Amsterdam. Although we have bad memories of Amsterdam, having been pick-pocketed there over 20 years ago, we were pleased to find that our berth was an easy 20 minute walk to Dam Square, even with the wheelchair. We ventured off the ship after a leisurely breakfast (service was better but the smoothies remained flavourless) but, being the morning, the more unsavoury elements were not yet on the streets so we had a good wander around, including the canals and notorious Red Light district, in complete safety. The weather was looking quite threatening so we headed back to the ship for a late lunch in The Glass House. Sadly, yet again, service was poor. Waiters weren't at all attentive and had to be called over after an unacceptably long wait to order. Our main courses were very good but the desert, a sundae that was meant to have blondies and cake pieces in it was served as 100% ice cream and had little resemblance to the desert advertised. We then visited the On-board Costa (Tazzine) for a hot chocolate. This was nothing like the version you get on land and looked and tasted like drinking chocolate powder in hot water with a splash of milk. Vile. We found a Rolling Stones double CD in the library which we thoroughly enjoyed listening to on the Bose sound system provided in our suite as we relaxed during the late afternoon. The sail away from Amsterdam, although in darkness, was fascinating as there were lots of multi-story office and residential blocks all illuminated, where you could see hundreds of people in meetings, cooking in their kitchens, eating their meals etc. It reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock film 'Rear Window'. Dinner that evening was in The Epicurean which, although a bit short of the overall experience on Britannia, was still very good. Unfortunately, as with the main dining room, cheese was an inconvenience to the waiting staff. The show was 'Don't Blame it on the Boogie', which we have seen countless times so didn't bother with. Day 4 - Saturday 18th February We awoke to a real pea-super in Zeebrugge (which we now know is pronounced sea-brooge and not Zee-brugga as us brits call it), so much so that you could barely see the end of the mooring ropes! We had pre-arranged a cab transfer to and from Brugge (€50 each way) with Martin's Taxis, so, after breakfast, we disembarked and waited 10 minutes for the free port provided shuttle to the dock gates (one had pulled away as we were walking down the ramp) where 'Lou with the white hair in the air' (as she had called herself) was waiting for us. After the SBS excitement the first evening, this journey was to be the 2nd surprise highlight. Lou was wall-to-wall entertainment and really made the trip one to remember. Her political incorrectness made Joan Rivers look like Mother Theresa. We didn't stop laughing all the way to Brugge and the return journey was equally entertaining. Any of her one liners repeated on here would be sure to offend somebody or other, so I shall refrain! Brugge was fantastic. We couldn't do the boat trip as wheelchair access wasn't possible, but we had a good walk around the historic city. By luck, there was a Salvador Dali exhibition in Market Square, which we enjoyed prior to wandering around the shopping areas. Realising that the horse and cart trips would be on 'step free' terrain, we walked around some of that route prior to returning to a street full of chocolatiers where we had earlier spotted a shop / cafe advertising hot chocolate. Comprising hot frothy milk with a large chunk of Belgian chocolate moulded on to the tea spoon which slowly melted to make the drink, these were the best hot chocolate drinks we had ever tasted and were a thousand times better than the foul version we had been sold in Tazzine the day before. After a thoroughly enjoyable few hours 'Lou with the white hair in the air' transferred us back to the ship, delivering yet more memorable lines that have amused us ever since. As a word of warning, there is a flat fare of €50 per vehicle each way from Zeebrugge to Brugge, regardless of the number of passengers, and you pay on the day, even if you have pre-booked (as we had). There was a group of passengers at the dock gates who had pre-paid €240 and the cab hadn't showed. They were understandably getting very anxious as a condition of booking was that if they didn't show up they would be charged anyway. The fact that the cab hadn't showed would make it difficult for them to prove that they had indeed turned up. Even more worrying, our cab driver hadn't heard of the firm, but she did later say (on the return run) that she had found their website which looked legitimate. Lunch again in The Glass House. Service was slightly better (although still not attentive) and the quality of food was good. Another restful few hours in our suite prior to the uneventful sail away which, from this port is sobering as it's where the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized in 1987 with the tragic loss of 193 lives in the most terrifying circumstances. The only thing of interest was the 30 or 40 gulls which swooped around the aft of the ship for over 30 minutes, presumably in anticipation of food scraps being tossed to them. Our last dinner on board was in The Beach House. Once again, the comparison against the version on Britannia wasn't a favourable one. Although on both ships this is a cordoned off area of the buffet, on Britannia it is a smaller, more intimate affair that has the feel of a proper restaurant. On Ventura it still feels like a section of the buffet. The lean ribs which I had thoroughly enjoyed on Britannia were very fatty here. Service was again patchy with the wine waiter making a real fuss about having to go to a bar to get the bottle of wine that we ordered - which was on the wine list for the Beach House! Sadly, the evening was somewhat spoiled by a party of 6 (3 couples, all middle aged to retired) where one of the ladies was being ridiculously loud and obnoxious. Whether it was drink, ignorance, lack of etiquette or, as I suspect, a combination of all three, this revolting creature could not be ignored, even from a distance, so we all retired early leaving the poor staff to contend with her. Day 5 - Sunday 19th February Unusually, we berthed in Southampton Mayflower Terminal the 'wrong' way around, with the stern facing the outward route and the starboard side against the berth. No idea why this was. After our final breakfast in The Epicurean, we proceeded to The Exchange for the assisted disembarkation, where an assistance helper disembarked us immediately although, to be fair, there was virtually no queue for regular passengers by this time so we gained no real time advantage this time. Suitcases were found in a minute or so and we were in the car 5 minutes later. As is always the case when cars are parked at this terminal, the vehicle was absolutely covered in a heavy dust from the adjacent grain loading facility. In conclusion, although service levels were below those we have come to expect from P&O, this was still an enjoyable cruise and very relaxing. Out of several thousand passengers, less than a handful were worthy of being thrown overboard for poor behaviour and these were all adults. All the children were very well behaved and never a nuisance. Hopefully, these negatives were mostly attributable to it being a short cruise where the lower price encourages a more, shall we say, 'diverse' profile of passenger and the staff aren't out to impress, as passengers are on board for such a short period. Time will tell. Ventura is showing her age, but is still a nice ship, it's major failing being the absence of a Crows Nest. However, Britannia is a better product (even without a promenade deck), as far as the large ships go. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this ship and P&O because Cunard did not sail at the time we wanted. It was our first time to the Caribbean and coincided with our 40th Anniversary. We had not expected Ventura to rival Queen Elizabeth and chose a Superior ... Read More
We chose this ship and P&O because Cunard did not sail at the time we wanted. It was our first time to the Caribbean and coincided with our 40th Anniversary. We had not expected Ventura to rival Queen Elizabeth and chose a Superior Deluxe Balcony cabin for the extra room and facilities indicated. In this respect Ventura provided all we asked for with a good walk-in clothes space and a generous-sized bathroom. However the soft furnishings were rather shabby and the bed/settee sagging and uncomfortable. This is inexcusable when you have paid extra for a comfortable cabin which you want to spend time in. Nor did four days without heating help - or the lack of interest by the staff on reception - one of whom suggested we were lying about ever having complained. All was eventually sorted - but it is not how you wish to start your holiday. At least we were near the lifts and just two decks up from the main dining rooms, so it was easier to walk. Our cabin steward was friendly, efficient and helpful. Whatever else the Ventura is, it is not Cunard and has little wow factor or style about its public areas. The grand atrium is anything but and the scenic lifts are bit of a gimmick. I was surprised to learn that the dance floor at the bottom was introduced in a recent refit as it seems something of an afterthought. Photographs of the tightly packed sun loungers around the various pools on the upper decks suggested these would be like Clacton on a Bank Holiday Monday and so they proved. As we are not into sunning ourselves to a dark shade of mahogany this was not on our agenda and one advantage of cruise liners of all kinds is that you can pick and choose the parts you wish to inhabit. My partner, however, greatly appreciated a swim at the crack of dawn with a few other hardy souls. Both of the daytime speakers - criminologist going out and army/war-time expert on the return leg - were excellent. And they played to packed audiences. There were some good films on most afternoons and later on we discovered more were available on the TV. Entertainment could be found in some of the bars and club areas but the headline acts were in the theatre. The Headliners house troupe of singers and dancers were excellent and of West End standards. But the support acts on other evenings were somewhat second rate and the three comedians without exception terrible. One was so bad we walked out - only to find half the audience following us. Someone needs to do some equalities training within the entertainment department. Some of the 'jokes' are not acceptable in the 21st Century and given that the average age of the paying guests on this trip were 60 and over these comedians need to tailor their acts rather more - it is not clever to insult your audience. Food - well there's plenty of it. But not of very high quality, rather bland and, with very few exceptions, very forgettable. The menus are huge - and given that you are given very little time to peruse them it would be better to reduce the options and improve the quality. Marco Pierre White was supposed to have devised menus for formal nights but this got a bit out of kilter on this trip which rather spoils the point of dressing up for something special. And expensive ingredients are sometimes highlighted but are actually subservient when they appear on the plate which is just not on. We had a regular table for two on the second sitting and I must say our table crew worked their socks off and were always affable and obliging. There are other dining options at extra cost. The Epicurian calls itself fine dining and aims higher but falls victim to gimmicks which are unnecessary at best while on a long 28 day cruise like this one become stale and rather irritating. Wine is generally far cheaper that on Cunard albeit with a more limited choice. Another paid-for dining experience is Sindhu - an Asian establishment overseen by Michelin starred Atul Kucher - but we found it very little if at all better than our local in London. And who ever thought that the horizontal bamboo screen was a suitable sound barrier from the cacophony of chatter as people walked by on the main internal deck? Or for that matter, the walls of passenger mug shots outside to gaze upon? The biggest surprise was Ollie Smith's Glasshouse wine bar. Food can be a bit hit and miss at many wine bars but this had that standout ingredient TASTE. My first lunch here was calves liver - two large, tender, perfectly-cooked pieces simply bursting with flavour. On later visits we had excellent fish and chips and you could also opt for light bite platters by choosing three items from an extensive list. All excellent. Port and shore excursions were generally as we expected but while initial embarkation had been faultless disembarkation was a nightmare. This was made worse by us being from the theatre. We were encouraged to come down from the rear of the theatre - where most people enter from - and then the person in 'charge' got all huffy about people standing and started spouting health and safety. All the outer seats were taken by people with mobility issues so we had to scramble over them carry heavy hand luggage. My back was put out for several weeks as a result. The MC then said people would leave from the front row but he completely ignored dozens of others streaming down from the higher tiers on the far side until people in the second and third rows complained very vocally. To be fair he was on his own and back-up stewards were really required to prevent cheating. But this fiasco made a mockery of health and safety. The cruise was good overall, with calm seas and excellent weather. That said we will probably not venture on the Ventura again or any other large P&0 cruise liner. We have booked Oriana later in the year and hope that this may be more us. We've heard good reports and it has just had a refit. Here's hoping. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Chose this cruise simply because we wanted to visit the Caribbean without having to fly. We have previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity, but were told by other cruisers that "P&O is the best" so ... Read More
Chose this cruise simply because we wanted to visit the Caribbean without having to fly. We have previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity, but were told by other cruisers that "P&O is the best" so we were very excited at the prospect of sampling "the best". However if this cruise on Ventura is anything to go by, then P&0 is in my opinion very far from being THE BEST. Try Celebrity Eclipse for starters! The shore excursions were excellent, well organised with brilliant local guides. On board entertainment - variable. Some guest performers were truly very talented, others simply loved themselves, and watching/listening to them perform was painful! The dining experience was either brilliant or awful - no half measures.Some of the main restaurant meals (Saffron) were superb others inedible. A lamb leg steak so tough that I could not get the knife through it. The first forkful of what looked like a beautiful piece of Hake only to end up with my mouth full of fish bones - (not a good experience). The disembarkation process almost turned into a riot. One person with a microphone tried to organise the movement of 800 passengers who had been crammed into a Theatre for over an hour.Anyone with a grain of common sense could have told them that it would not work, as people pushed and shoved instead of leaving in an orderly manner row by row, as "instructed" A miracle that no one was injured. In short, I'm in no hurry to repeat the P&O experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Chose this cruise for the prospect of sunshine and warmth. The ship was in good shape overall apart from scruffy lift doors and grubby chairs in the Buffet. Food in the restaurant had improved since our last visit a year ago. However, ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the prospect of sunshine and warmth. The ship was in good shape overall apart from scruffy lift doors and grubby chairs in the Buffet. Food in the restaurant had improved since our last visit a year ago. However, thought the Buffet food was not as good with lunchtime offerings being only luke warm on many occasions despite trying visiting at different times. Cheeses were disappointing with very little choice and cut up into tiny cubes. These were quite sweaty at times. No nuts on offer unlike the Oriana which served pecans and walnuts a plenty. Cabin , an inside on C Deck,, was in good order and well serviced by our effecient Steward. The daily Horizon newsletter arrived quite late around 9pm although I did notice the deck below had theirs a lot earlier. The library offerings were rather abismal and need to be looked at as the shelves were quite empty at times. The lady running this area ,which was combined with the internet , was rather abrupt and absent quite often putting up a be back soon sign . Wifi offered was for use in a 24 hour time slot at various prices. This system is ridiculous as who would want to sit at a computer for 24 hours on a cruise? To get to your emails cost almost £13 Not good value. Many of the visiting acts we had seen before and a couple of the comedians told the same jokes. Headliners, the singers and dancers, did the same old shows so did not bother with those this time. Too many quizzes and not very well organised. Very little for folks who stayed on board on port days. The Entertainment Manager, Natalie, had very little presence around the ship. I only saw her on a few occasions when she introduced the acts in the Arena Theatre. Liked the ports of call. Weather was as hoped for and the ship was kept at a good temperature. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
we chose the ventura because of the sailing date (winter sunshine), the itinerary and the price. embarkation with a wheel chair was smooth and little waiting, the balcony was adequate as was the cabin. after a couple of days I realised ... Read More
we chose the ventura because of the sailing date (winter sunshine), the itinerary and the price. embarkation with a wheel chair was smooth and little waiting, the balcony was adequate as was the cabin. after a couple of days I realised that I had not taken any pictures of the ventura usually I'm clicking away at everything and that is the thing about the ventura it is a basic no frills ship, built the same time as royal Caribbean's independence of the seas the difference is startling - the independence gives the impression of no expense spared, the ventura no expense spent food - probably the most important for a lot of people, the meat and fish were excellent and cooked correctly however the vegetables were not, either over cooked or under cooked, p&o please note you cannot eat under cooked potatoes, only chips and mash were edible, most people complained and the reason given for not cooking the veg properly - it is all new menus sir - unbelievable entertainment - some very good some average some rather poor - nowhere as good as ncl or royal Caribbean, the headliners show was repeated again and again and again, there were a lot of p&o regulars who were very disgruntled entertainment quizzes - very popular with a lot of cruisers - it was so poorly organised and amateurish, so many questions repeated again and again that people gave up mentioning it - p&o IT IS NOT DIFFICULT you have 28 night cruise with a set number of quizzes prepare them all before you set sail and why oh why do you have two quizzes at the same time - one quiz had 15 teams and the other had just two teams and then you would have a stint of a few hours with no quizzes- TRY ORGANISING IT the staff excellent apart from a couple of members of the entertainment staff who treated the PAYING customers like morons but having cruised a fair few times I have never ever heard staff talk back to the guests as did those two members of the entertainment staff at one point there was very nearly a bust between guests and staff, the staff decided that there would not be a quiz as stated in the programme but instead there would be a hi de hi game, fit for 6 year olds - only when the guests threatened to walk out was a quiz reinstated excursions - because one of our party had difficulty walking and standing for long periods we chose the easy excursions - not bad at all and not bad value either, the last one we did was st kitts and nevis which I would not class as easy but medium disembarking with a wheel chair - frankly appalling we left 2 and a half hours after we should have and there were people we left behind who probably had to wait another hour or so - no explanation nothing - p&o get yourself organised surely you want to get people off the ship for the next cruise I did enjoy the cruise, met some lovely people but with just a bit of simple organisation and cooking the vegetables especially the potatoes properly (it is more difficult to cook meat and you did that superbly) the cruise would have been excellent value and so much more enjoyable, a number of p&o veterans were thinking twice about going with p&o again, warning p&o there is a difference between being value for money and being a budget cruise line Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We primarily chose this 28 night cruise because it was a non-flying winter sunshine holiday. We are seasoned cruisers of 20+ cruisers but this was our first with P&O. We have priority boarding with some cruise lines and we were ... Read More
We primarily chose this 28 night cruise because it was a non-flying winter sunshine holiday. We are seasoned cruisers of 20+ cruisers but this was our first with P&O. We have priority boarding with some cruise lines and we were surprised how swift and painless our boarding was being P&O first timers. Less than 1 hour from arriving at the terminal we were in our cabin unpacking. Let’s get the seriously bad bit out of the way first. Food. It was poor. Every cooked meal we had in either the Saffron or the Waterside was tepid, overcooked, undercooked, congealed sauces, low graded ingredients, beans and peas served as the vegetables every day, bland, tasteless, sometimes nothing more than a soggy mess around a piece of meat all grossly over salted (to the point that when we left the restaurants we had to drink lots of liquid to quench our thirst). Send the food back I hear you cry! We did and it was no better. Meatballs which would not take a fork, pork chop that had to be sawn with a steak knife, Grouse that a knife left no impression upon. Change knife same result. The one food positive was that all the salads were nice. Worst was I contracted food poison 8 days into the cruise. I left the ship 7+lbs lighter than when I joined the ship. If there was a zero for dining I would give it. Our balcony cabin was okay, yes signs of wear but then so does my house. More importantly it was kept clean and tidy by the lovely Linda. The in cabin TV is so so s-l-o-w. Internet is a rip off for a very poor service. We had no criticism of the entertainment in fact with the exception of the Headliners we thought they were excellent. The male entertainment team seemed to thoroughly enjoy their job whereas the female entertainment team seemed to be perfunctory and the stroppy little one from Essex needs retraining. It did erk that every morning we had a PA announcement ' this is your entertainment manager (Hi Di Hi)" and then proceeded to read the days entertainment from the Horizon Daily News. I know the average age of the passengers was well over 70 but they could all read. Headliners as a chorus and dancing group were adequate but when they did solo songs they murdered, screeched and wailed every song. All lounges were okay except the awful, awful Havana Lounge. What idiot designed that? Why have TV screens so we can see a live act. The Ventura is a mirror copy of one of the Princess ships. The Princess 'Havana' lounge has terraced bench seating with loose swivel seats. Everyone in the lounge can see the live acts without having to peer over 1.5 metre wooden screens. We had 8 consecutive sea days on the way out and 5 consecutive sea days on the way back and the teams did well to try and create a balanced and full programme Bar waiter service was adequate but did become irritated with constant attempts to up sell to doubles, premium brands and constant challenges for more drinks. Equally the constant pestering to visit the premium chargeable restaurant was annoying. We did wonder if this was a sales ploy of serving poor food in the general restaurants to generate revenue in the premium restaurants. We have been to the Caribbean a few times before so the ports were not new to us. Disembarkation was chaos. We were called to disembark about 30 minutes after our allocated time and then we queued for 50 minutes to get out of the baggage reclaim hall. Would I recommend P&O? Purely based upon poor food no I would not. Sorry P&O but when people raise issues in a civilized and polite manner then listen to them and act upon them Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this company because we were told that P & O were the best around so we booked a 16 day holiday around the Canary Islands in celebration of my wife,s birthday.Getting on the ship was fairly quick and easy,with plenty of ... Read More
We chose this company because we were told that P & O were the best around so we booked a 16 day holiday around the Canary Islands in celebration of my wife,s birthday.Getting on the ship was fairly quick and easy,with plenty of helpful and friendly staff to assist with embarkation.We had booked a room with a balcony,which we found to be ok in size with lots of room for all our clothes etc.We found the cabin steward,Suresh,was always friendly and helpful,nothing was too much trouble. We were allocated "Freedom Dining" in the Cinammon Restaurant which meant we could go in there at any time in the evening.The trouble was that if we wanted a table for two there was almost always a wait of anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes.The staff in the restaurant were great and nothing was too much trouble but the food was repetative with not too much choiceAlso on other cruises we have been on the food was delivered to your table with dishes of vegetables served seperately but here everything was plated and then delivered to your table.In the mornings we had breakfast in the buffets on Platform 15.This was always packed and more often than not we had trouble finding a table Often there were people just sitting at the window seats just reading books obviousely that was their seat for the day.There were queues for everything.Also the food was almost everytime cold,and during the whole holiday I never once had a soft yolked egg There wasn't a great deal of choice either.In the end we never bothered about breakfast.We ate at lunchtimes at the pool grill but even the burger and chips were frequently cold The onboard entertainment was great especially the staff with the only reservation was that people were rushing in the venues approx.two hours before the shows to make sure they got their seats,making it sometimes impossible to get into the show you wanted to see. At the various ports it was always easy to get on and off the ship with the staff being friendly helpful and professional in their efforts. We only went on one excursion which was to Benfica Football Stadium in Lisbon.That was well run with friendly and knowledgeable staff,even giving us a tour of the city on the way back We found that the staff were great with nothing being too much trouble On the whole the ship was good,the staff great ,the food OK but not great.It was just that we were expecting something very special and it did not reach those heights Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
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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