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600 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

My Son George (age 12) and I are veterans of many cruises! We have been on Princess many times (we are both big fans, my son especially of the foods. The pancakes at breakfast live on in his imagination), Holland America once(but I am sure ... Read More
My Son George (age 12) and I are veterans of many cruises! We have been on Princess many times (we are both big fans, my son especially of the foods. The pancakes at breakfast live on in his imagination), Holland America once(but I am sure that will be repeated as they were excellent)and once on Cunard (which we found a bit stuffy, frankly). So this past Easter we decided to try cruising British style from Southampton. I should explain we are both English and resident in Sussex so getting to the Port in 3 hours was a dream start, compared with the delights of Terminal 5 and a 10 hour flight! We arrived early, about midday, and had a super fast check in. In about 15 minutes we were on board, which was wonderful. Our cabin was lovely: a deluxe balcony, with a proper bath room and full size bath. That made a nice change from some American ship bathrooms,which have been so small that I have had to rest my leg on the basin, whilst still in the shower, in order to do my legs! The toiletries on board were Temple Spa and very high end indeed. Of course, George was far more impressed with the TV system that had a channel showing Top Gear and Jonathan Creek 24/7. The ship is large, but the design was virtually identical to the Crown Princess that we had cruised on recently, so we instinctively knew our way around. The Positives: sounds silly, but I hate a build up of dirty laundry, so I was very pleased with plentiful and free (!) washing machines and tumble dryers. As I had brought my own detergent and softener (I told you I need to get out more...) I was in laundry heaven. The speciality restaurants were outstanding and worth the price of admission alone. My son and I ate at The White Room 5 times! It was amazing: service, food and location, although at the top of the ship (deck 17) it did tend to sway a bit in high wind. Not that this put my son off his steak... The pools were really well designed, but on sunny days they were very crowded. The Pizza and Burger restaurants on Lido deck were very good. The kids club was very lively and my son discovered class mate on the same cruise! What are the odds of that! The Port excursions were good value and cheaper than we had paid on some American lines. There was a speciality coffee shop called Tazzine that served fab coffee and had great staff, so we became regulars there. The Negatives: some staff had a real attitude problem, especially the Lido deck bar staff. They could be quite rude and off hand. Other staff, like our steward, were just lovely. The food was quite variable: other than the speciality restaurants, we found the food not much better than acceptable and breakfasts in particular were ordinary. The entertainment was a bit too "Butlins" for our tastes. Sounds so snobby, which we are not, but I suppose George and I really prefer spending evenings in our cabin, where we play poker for chocolates (he always wins, I swear he cheats) The weather was pretty lousy: high winds and not a lot of sun, so we were very disappointed in that, but not P & O's fault. Excursions and Ports: We loved Gran Canaria and enjoyed a trip on a submarine. Good value and great for kids. Lisbon was excellent, and coming in to dock under the bridge and past the great statute of Christ the King when the sun was coming up, was just breathtaking. The weather in Tenerife was dreadful so we stayed on board. Madeira was cold. We had arranged a dolphin watching trip which was good and we saw plenty of dolphins, but the cold wind was a little too brisk. In the other ports, like Vigo and Cadiz, we just wandered around under our own steam. Conclusion: we enjoyed the cruise, but will probably not choose P & O again, simply because the trip made us yearn for turquoise blue Caribbean seas. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Ventura Cruise N009 - April 2010 We dealt with a travel agent rather than P@O directly. Price paid was less than P@O's internet pricing. However when we tried to upgrade, we were advised that we could only take that route at the ... Read More
Ventura Cruise N009 - April 2010 We dealt with a travel agent rather than P@O directly. Price paid was less than P@O's internet pricing. However when we tried to upgrade, we were advised that we could only take that route at the price difference prevailing when we booked - not the current (lower) price. Be warned. We decided to take our car to Southampton and arranged for the valet parking (included in price) to be carried out by CPS. What an excellent job they did. As we arrived early, we had to queue for sometime until P&O allowed passengers to begin boarding (12.30pm.). Cabins were ready at 2.00pm. Our balcony cabin was considered by us to be small - less than 200 square feet with a fair amount of hanging space. There was also a safe. The shower room was quite compact - but it did the job well save for the fixed head shower unit itself which was a slight problem. We prefer flexible units. Their was a small but quite adequate fridge stocking iced water and ice. Plenty of room to keep mixers etc. Fair sized television with SKY news, a choice of old TV programmes and the ships log. You can also keep a running tab regarding your account on screen. There is a dressing table with two 13amp sockets plus a hair dryer. The saving grace for the cabin (stateroom) was the very large size of the veranda balcony. This was nearly half the size of the cabin. Plenty of room for a small table, footrest and two reclining chairs. Smoking is allowed on the balcony. However, the walls in the cabin are very thin and I was woken by a passenger in the next cabin snoring. The following point is quite important if you are booking a superior balcony or a balcony cabin: A and B deck balconies overlook C and D deck balconies. C deck balconies also overlook D balconies. This might at first seem a bit intrusive - but when the sun is high, you still get the sun on C and D balconies - not A and B. We regularly sunbathed on our C deck balcony well into the afternoon. So we had the sun from early morning for most of the day (starboard side). Lastly you could order breakfast in your stateroom - but not bacon and eggs. Passenger disembarkation on the days in port was very smooth in all cases including those ports that were tendered. Whilst on the subject of port visits, P&O do not seem to have a policy in place for confiscating your duty free alcohol or cigarettes when you return from your trip as some other lines do. That could be a big plus. But watch out! Customs in the U.K. are red hot. We were stopped even though we weren't carrying any duty free goods other than a half bottle of Blue Gin. Now for the amenities on the ship. There are a considerable number of bars (both drinking and snack). You could get a snack any time of the day or night with The Waterside restaurant open 23 hours per day with a good quality of food (self service). The main problem with the Waterside is that it cannot accommodate the people who whish to use it. Only on one occasion did we manage to gain a table in the restaurant - other times we had to use the open area by the pool either to have our breakfast or a snack. P&O need to address this problem - but it will be a difficult one to solve. There are other restaurants on board which have waiter service. As we chose Freedom Dining we were allocated to the Cinnamon Restaurant where you could turn up at any time (until 9.30pm.) and be allocated a table, you would be very lucky to get a table for two without having to wait. For instant entrance you would normally be sitting on a table for eight. This could be good or bad depending whether you wanted to talk to anyone or not. Speciality dining is a big feature on most cruise lines. I guess that it is a high profit centre. The White Room which we tried on my birthday charges £20 per head as a cover charge. A lot extra to pay out for mediocre food - although the service was first class. East's cover charge is £10 per head and specialises in oriental cuisine. Our very personal view is that this restaurant was awful. The fusion dish that we were served was chicken, fish and beef all at the same time. This did not work for us and the restaurant was empty most nights. The other cover charge restaurant is Rambles which is a pseudo Tapas restaurant with a cover charge of £5 per head. Food was O.K. but waiter service was indifferent and somebody should tell P&O that serving up a small dish of peas and carrots does not constitute a Tapas dish. Keeping on the theme of service, our main restaurant (Cinnamon) had a first rate service culture and was well staffed. There is a charge already added to your bill for restaurant staff tips at about £1.50 per day per passenger. The cost of laundry might be worthwhile mentioning: Shirt: £3.50; T Shirt: £2.50p.; Trousers: £4.00p.; Tie: £4.00p. We couldn't fault the entertainment with something going on every evening from classical through to Bee Gees. Three variety stage shows in the two week cruise. With a quality that can't be beaten. There were many courses on offer during the day and I took advantage of the photo processing course. It was very good value. Other classes available included dancing, bridge, 5 a side football, family trees, line dancing etc. Always something to do. There is a small library and book shop (selling books at full price) which operates during the day. There are a few chairs but it is very difficult to find somewhere (other than your own stateroom) where you can get some peace and quiet on this 116,000 ton ship. And whilst I think of it there is no deck to run round due to the poor design of the vessel. In fact to get to the rear bar (Metropolis) from forward, you had to walk to the aft of the ship and then get a lift to the top floor. There are overwhelming opportunities to buy clothing, handbags, jewellery, gifts, and watches on board. Not satisfied with selling within the shops, as the days wore on, trestle tables were brought out so that a pinch point was created and you had to slow down to look at the merchandise on offer. Even during a wait in the restaurant bar for our table at dinner we couldn't hear ourselves. Sales people were literally shouting out loud - just like a market stall, selling, selling selling. I did on one occasion make a complaint to a senior officer who told me he could do nothing about the noise. In fact that last sentence could sum up the attitude to the staff on board. It was very poor. If there was no tip in the offing - then they weren't interested. If it was outside their remit then again they were not interested. This included officers. Our cabin steward was very good, and deserved his tip at the end. Thought we might mention alcohol. Alcohol is available to drink in your cabin from your steward. The corkage charge is £1.50 per bottle which is quite cheap. For example, Baileys litre bottle cost was £10 from the shop (who would let you have it at the end of the cruise) plus £1.50 corkage to drink in your room if purchased from the steward.. Well worth it when you consider that the bar price for Baileys is £4.70 for a 50ml measure. My local pub charges £2.85 for the same measure, tax and duty paid. The profit on that makes your eyes water. We have noted below some prices: Pint of lager: £2.90. Pint of bitter: £2.65. Bottle of Stella 330ml: £2.75p. Cola 150ml can: £0.75p.Gin: £2.15 for a 25ml. measure. Glenfiddich whisky: £2.60 for 25ml. Benson & Hedges cigs: £2.55p. for 20. Golden Virginia per 50 gram - £4.95p.Crisps: 80p. Had a couple of massages whilst on board priced between £60 & £88. Very expensive but oooh so worth it! Incidentally we had booked our massages direct with P&O some weeks before leaving. No details of the booking existed in the spa. I'm told that that was not the first time that had happened. Disembarkation was very smooth at Southampton. Had to wait about an hour and a half to get off, but were so relaxed by this time that it didn't matter. All in all a very enjoyable cruise. We always say that we will try and watch the pennies next time, but P&O have money extraction down to a fine art. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Living just 20 minutes drive from the port this is what appeals about cruising though it is probably not our favourite type of holiday. Embarkation was swift and 30 mins after dropping off our luggage we were in our cabin. This was our ... Read More
Living just 20 minutes drive from the port this is what appeals about cruising though it is probably not our favourite type of holiday. Embarkation was swift and 30 mins after dropping off our luggage we were in our cabin. This was our 6th P & O cruise, our first onboard Ventura. Had always shied away from Ventura thinking the ship is too big. However, very pleasantly surprised. Yes she is bigger than the other P & O ships but didn't feel so large that we would get lost or miss things, in fact navigating the ship was easy. Booked a basic inside cabin but got upgraded to outside part restricted view so that was a bonus. The cabin is well laid out with plenty of space to move around. Loads of storage space and liked the open plan wardrobe. Bathroom was smaller than other ships but perfectly adequate. Opted for 2nd sitting fised dining, table size 6, which we got. Enjoyed the company of our table guests. The waiters, including wine steward, were friendly and enjoyed it when we involved them in conversation, they work hard and the service couldn't be faulted. Always something on the menu to suit everyone though wish the main meals weren't accompanied by various potatoes or veg and that these were brought out separately with the potatoes & veg of the day. Enjoyed a beer or two in most of the bars and again the service was efficient, the staff like it if you engage in conversation with them. The entertainment was varied with something to suit everyone from traditional pianist, singers and groups to comedians and tribute acts as well as the ship's headliners company. Having cruised the Med before did not join in any excursions as we did our own thing. Disembarkation was as swift as embarkation which surprised me since there were more passengers and luggage to unload than previoulsy experienced. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
How many times have you heard 'you'll be fine' - 'you'll not really be alone' and inside you are dreading people finding out that you are travelling on you own. It took me a couple of years to find out that ... Read More
How many times have you heard 'you'll be fine' - 'you'll not really be alone' and inside you are dreading people finding out that you are travelling on you own. It took me a couple of years to find out that it's not so bad especially when you cruise. The Ventura sailed from Southampton so no flying and just a short journey with a very heavy case I boarded ship. From the time I boarded I felt a huge sense of freedom - so much to do and see and you had the choice to do it all or do nothing. It was a last minute decision so no excursions had been arranged but I had time to decide where I went and what I did and after speaking to people about their experiences I made better choices. I visited six places that you'd never be able to do in two weeks, met some very interesting people, had so much choice of food I was never hungry. I was allocated a table of 10 people all of whom were older than me but each evening we'd come together and share the days events or recommend trips etc. I had the choice of joining them or doing my own thing. The staff were brilliant - courteous and efficient. I had a great time, relaxed on the sunny deck, visited loads of lovely places, tried lots of different foods and felt recharged. The schedule of activities were varied and I was grateful that there was a news letter containing the next days events as I used this to plan my next day. A real voyage of discovery for me in more ways than one. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We sailed on Ventura for 14 nights from Soutampton - Springbank Holidays. Embarkation was good. We needed assistance with a wheelchair. Our balcony cabin was good, with lots of clothes storage. Shower was rather small. The balcony had 2 ... Read More
We sailed on Ventura for 14 nights from Soutampton - Springbank Holidays. Embarkation was good. We needed assistance with a wheelchair. Our balcony cabin was good, with lots of clothes storage. Shower was rather small. The balcony had 2 lay back chairs,a stool & a table, it was not possible to lay out flat on the balcony. We were on A deck and thought C deck balcony was larger, but overlooked from above, they also had sun when ours had gone. No towel sculptures on an evening. The cabin had tea making facilities & tea/coffee etc was provided. We had 2nd sitting for evening meal [8.30pm] Was a little late as we did not get out until around 11.00 on some nights. Food quality was excellent. We dined in the white House restaurant one night [£20 extra] not worth it as the meal was not any better. We used the set restaurant for most of our meals, as it was almost impossible to get a table in the buffet restaurant. We tried different times, but always the same. Almost all waiters, cabin staff etc were from India. Some were pleasant, but many were sullen. All staff referred to the ladies as MADAME, which did not sound very friendly. We are usually addressed by our names. The entertainment was good and there were 3 shows, so we could catch the early one before dinner. Bars were always full, little dancing though. Main criticism we had was with the sun loungers. Impossible to get one on sea days.Towels were being put our early morning & left all day, even when not in use. These on most ships would have been removed if not in use, but this did not happen. There was no adult pool, so all pools were full of children, shouting & splashing around. We were assisted with the wheelchair when we got off at ports. As the ship is large we docked often in an industrial port with working ships & containers for the view. Some of the posts we were provided with a shuttle, but 2 ports we had to pay and there was no way that we could have walked. Disembarkation was quite the opposite to embarkation. Masses of people trying to get off all at the same time. We were not let off until 9.15 although we had a card for 8.45. We had booked a taxi and they were there waiting to take us to the Holiday Inn, where we had left our car. There were porters at the dock to help if needed. If you can, do the self/express disembarking, they were off at 7.00 with no problems. The ship did not seem to have decided whether it was a traditional/formal cruise ship or a casual/we do not do cruises ship. We would not sail on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My wife and I selected the P&O Ventura as a first cruise as the round trip to Lisbon was only for 7 days and we felt we could put up with this whatever it was like. Before booking the cruise our main concerns were would there be ... Read More
My wife and I selected the P&O Ventura as a first cruise as the round trip to Lisbon was only for 7 days and we felt we could put up with this whatever it was like. Before booking the cruise our main concerns were would there be endless queues as upwards of 3,000 passengers could be milling around. (3,400 on our trip). Embarkation at Southampton took about 40 mins from dropping the car. We arrived spot on our allocated time of 12.30pm and were surprised to see how busy the terminal was already - virtually standing room only. There were about 20 embarkation pass groups in front of us but as mentioned it took about 40 mins. We had a balcony cabin on B deck amidships on the port side. One day we had 8 foot waves (moderate apparently) but very little movement in our cabin or indeed of the ship. When docked we rarely had the sunny-side so if you want to sit on your balcony in the sun I would recommend starboard for this schedule. Never had to wait more than a minute or so for a lift except when the theatre (900 people) turned out. Easy to get seat/lounger outside. We opted for fixed, first sitting dining and the service and food choice was excellent in the Cinnamon restaurant. We shared a table for six and the other couples were of similar age (late fifties)and we got on together fine. One other main reason for opting for a cruise was that my wife had recently been diagnosed with Coeliacs (gluten intolerance). We normally take city breaks and the thought of asking for gluten free food in non-English speaking countries was a bit daunting. Every evening the head waiter brought the next day's menus to my wife (lunch and dinner) and helped her choose. Apparently we could have got the ordered meals anywhere on the ship the next day just by quoting our table number. In fact my wife was able to make her own choices from the extensive buffet in the Waterside restaurant. On a couple of occasions when returning from trips in port, we went for the afternoon tea and the staff were able to supply suitable cakes, biscuits and sandwiches almost immediately on request. Seating for breakfast and lunch in the Cinnamon restaurant was arranged by filling tables as people arrived. Therefore different every day. Everybody seemed very easy to talk to and friendly and were a spectrum of ages and cruise experience. Plenty of first timers for the same reason as us eg short trip as a taster. All were pleasantly surprised and would do it again. We used various bars and the Arena theatre for three of the Ventura company musical productions. Good standard and very popular. We were seated about 30 mins before start of 9.00 performance and theatre probably good as full 10 mins later. Also saw the Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox tribute acts in the Havana club which were also entertaining. Very good drinks service - either get it yourself or from roaming waiters (pub prices). Disembarkation was again problem free. We were given a 10.15 slot to leave by the random allocation system (8.45 earliest) but in fact got off 30 mins ahead of schedule. Overall, we really enjoyed our first cruise and the ease of getting an excellent choice of gluten free dining was a brilliant addition. We would certainly go again but probably only consider the larger vessels so that there is the same level of dining choice and entertainment we would now wish for.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our first cruise and we were just amazed when we pulled up at the dock and seen Ventura, she is huge. Our luggage was taken off us and we proceeded to check-in. Once all the formalities of check-in and security were over we ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were just amazed when we pulled up at the dock and seen Ventura, she is huge. Our luggage was taken off us and we proceeded to check-in. Once all the formalities of check-in and security were over we proceeded to board. We all looked in amazement when we entered Ventura. We were shown to our cabins and our luggage was there waiting and our cabin steward introduced himself. Our cruise was for 7 nights and what a 7 night cruise we had it was fantastic. The staff were friendly and efficient, they did an outstanding job. The food was amazing with a choice of self service restaurants to club dining (which we did). As for things to do on board there was so much from the swimming pools to the numerous quizez to shows and more. The only thing i would have to complain about is some of the other passengers (mainly ones who had been on cruises before)all they did was moan, they were rude to staff and passengers alike complaining the service was slow, the food wasn't good, all i can say is absolute rubbish. We enjoyed cruising with P&O and the Ventura (what an amazing ship)so much that we are already booking for next year. Thank you for a wonderful holiday Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Summary. My wife and I took a seven day cruise from Southampton to Vigo, Lisbon, Bilbao and Brest. We have cruised about ten times but this was our first cruise with P&O. We liked the ports of call, thought there was a good selection ... Read More
Summary. My wife and I took a seven day cruise from Southampton to Vigo, Lisbon, Bilbao and Brest. We have cruised about ten times but this was our first cruise with P&O. We liked the ports of call, thought there was a good selection of evening entertainment and found the drinks prices very reasonable. We were less impressed with the food, which although well cooked was uninspiring and too British, and at times we found the atmosphere rather too much like a holiday camp. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and thought it was pretty good value for money. Arrival/Departure. We drive to Southampton and parked using CPS. There was about a 15 minute wait to check our car in on arrival and then about a half hour wait to check-in for the cruise, but it was all quite orderly. Departure was excellent. Passengers are allocated coloured tags indicating a time to get off the ship. We swapped ours without difficulty to get earlier ones and it took only fifteen minutes to get off the ship, collect our bags, and get our car back. Food & Drink. We had wanted Freedom Dining but that was unavailable (we booked quite late) and we were allocated to a table for eight in 2nd sitting (usually 8.30pm). Although the ship was full only one other person turned up for dinner at our table each evening. Presumably the other five preferred to eat in the buffet or perhaps one of the extra cost dining venues. We sometimes ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room and sometimes in the buffet restaurants on the pool deck. The quality of the food was consistent and reasonable but we were disappointed with the lack of variety. In the dining room all choices were meat, potato and vegetables. By the end of the week we were longing for pasta or rice dishes. On the rare occasions where a main course was more interesting (e.g. calves liver with pea risotto or barramundi with Japanese noodles) they came with tiny amounts of rice/noodles and then the waiters brought mashed potato and boiled cabbage to heap on the plate! I don't see why it should be necessary to pay extra for the premium restaurants to get a good meal. Entertainment. Everyone's tastes are different but we thought the quality of the evening entertainment was pretty good and varied. The only disappointment was the guest speaker, Sir Henry Cooper, who was embarrassingly awful. We found less to interest us among the organised daytime activities on sea days, but lots of the events seemed well attended. Ports of Call. We had read that Vigo had little of interest so had booked an excursion to Santiago de Compostella. Then at the start of the cruise we got a note from the shore excursions team that Santiago was likely to be extremely busy and we might be unable to get inside the cathedral. This was because 2010 is a Holy Year and the day we were in Vigo was a local public holiday. We opted to cancel the excursion and just wandered around Vigo. Perhaps because we had low expectations we actually quite liked Vigo. There's a lovely garden area within castle walls above the town, with great views. Although all the shops were initially closed with it being a holiday, by lunchtime quite a few had opened. We did our own thing in Lisbon, having bought a guide book and got various tips from CruiseCritic and TripAdvisor forums. We took the first shuttle bus into the centre (they drop off and pick up in the Placa dos Restauradores) and went into the adjacent Metro to buy day travel cards. For 4.20 Euros each you get unlimited use of trams, funiculars and buses for the day. We spent the morning walking around the city centre, including a trip up the Elevator de Santa Justa and taking tram 28 over to the cathedral and up to the Castle. In the afternoon we took tram 15 to Belem. As Ventura had moored just upstream from the big suspension bridge we were able to get off the tram on the way back at the fist stop after passing under the bridge approach from where it was an easy walk back to the ship. In Bilbao we also did our own thing. We got the first shuttle bus, walked along the river, took the Artxanda funicular up for great views over the city, then back down and continued around the river to the Guggenheim. The building is great. We were less impressed with the art (?) inside. We then walked back to and around the old town, then took the metro to Areeta to see the Vizcaya transporter bridge. From there it was a 45 minute walk back to the ship. You could shorten the walk by taking the metro out a couple more stops but the walk is very scenic - well worth doing if you aren't exhausted. In our final port of call, Brest, we had booked an excursion to Quimper. We booked one with a guided walking tour of Quimper but quickly abandoned the guide and walked around on our own. With a large group the guided tour was taking forever and we would have seen far less (but perhaps learned more about the few things we did see). Quimper is lovely. Service. Staff were efficient and generally very pleasant. Compared to other (mostly American) ships we found the waiters less sociable. They did their job but had no conversation, even though their English was at least as good as it has been on other ships. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
P & O V E N T U R A CRUISE 15TH - 22ND MAY 2010 Saturday 15th May - Southampton - Hampshire - England Partly Cloudy Westerly Force 2 Temp. 59 degrees F Smart Casual Best of British buffet After parking at Southampton ... Read More
P & O V E N T U R A CRUISE 15TH - 22ND MAY 2010 Saturday 15th May - Southampton - Hampshire - England Partly Cloudy Westerly Force 2 Temp. 59 degrees F Smart Casual Best of British buffet After parking at Southampton Airport, we shared a taxi with a French couple Cruising on QM2 to New York. Firstly, the taxi driver took us to the QM2 Terminal (decorated with flags), then to the Ocean Terminal. The cases were promptly placed on the conveyor and we boarded the escalator to the top floor. Embarkation was straightforward after showing passports, paperwork and registering debit card. Soon on board and Dave and I were given a free massage in the Atrium. Our cabin (A416) Australia Deck was really spacious with walk in wardrobe, tea/coffee facilities, pamper pack, and good quality bed linen. Lunch was served in the Waterside Restaurant with a grand view of the harbour. After lunch, quickly unpacked and explored the ship. Lifeboat drill was held at 4 p.m. We sailed at 4.30 p.m. and Keith was with his friends on the beach at Warsash complete with foghorns, so able to speak on mobile. There was a sailaway party and the Salvation Army played on the quayside (a bit mournful!). Had a pimms. With all pre departure checks complete, clearance was granted and the Captain (Julian Burgess) made his departure broadcast. Ventura let go all her lines and moved off berth. She then proceeded down Southampton Water, slowing down at Fawley Oil Terminal before making the two turns, first at Calshot Spit and the other at Brambles Bank. Once complete an easterly course was set along the Eastern Solent. Ventura disembarked her local pilot at 19.02 and once clear of the Nab Tower, she was altered onto a south westerly course through the English Channel. We then went to the spa for the raffle. Had a pre dinner drink in the Metropolis Bar - with virtual wall displays of major cities - tonight London. Dinner was 2nd sitting at 8.30 p.m. (Saffron). Casual. We should have been on a table for 6 but only two others arrived throughout the cruise, a couple from Boston, Lincs. Our waiters were excellent throughout. After dinner, The Arena Theatre - Cruise Director's introductions (Leon de ste. Croix), followed by John Lenahan (magician). Other venues were Havana - disco, The Exchange - group, The Tamarind Club - Jayne Curry. The Tamarind Club was also a coffee bar. The evening passed quickly and the clocks went forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Chocolates on our pillows each night of the cruise plus biscuits replenished twice a day. Sunday 16th May - Day at Sea Formal Night Fish & Seafood buffet Westerly Force 4 59 degrees F We always enjoy days at sea. After a leisurely breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we spent the morning on a conducted tour, then the Endless pool plus Jacuzzis. Lunch in the Saffron (waiter service), followed by a flower demonstration (Atrium) and I was fortunate enough to win the top prize worth £40 in the raffle, a beautiful arrangement. The cabin looked really cheerful. We then enjoyed afternoon tea in the Saffron, which we did on most afternoons. Walked to back of ship via promenade deck. Looked at some of the interesting artwork on board - Rolf Harris CBE. We then discovered the Terrace Bar and pool, where we spent most of our Leisure time. Before dinner we sat under cover watching for wildlife. We saw precisely one bird! Dinner in the Saffron - formal preceded by Captain's Reception, followed by Peter Piper (11 p.m.). (Did not rate). There was a gala ball tonight, but did not go, instead went to our favourite Metropolis Bar Australian evening. From departure Southampton until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 308 nautical miles at an average speed of 18.1 knots. Monday 17th May - 9 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. VIGO Spain - Spain's busiest fishing port Muelle de Transatlanticos Port Smart Casual Asian & Oriental buffet Wind - light airs 64 degrees F A bank holiday in Vigo today, (P & O said they didn't realise) which suited us just fine as all the shops were mainly closed. We went ashore early and virtually did a walking tour. First the church (service in progress), then a walk along the main shopping area up to El Castro Mount, panoramic views over the Galician countryside and down to the Bay, peppered with numerous mussel farms. We saw the bronze fishermen and the statue of the wild horses. We walked down again and visited the Restaurante Casavella and I sampled the oysters. We then walked along the promenade to view the ship before returning for lunch. Spanish VAT was added at 7% in the bars during time in port. The afternoon was spent swimming and relaxing before the sailaway party. Tonight Smart casual dress for dinner in the Saffron. After dinner, Chronicles in the Arena Theatre at 11 p.m.(Adventurers in Africa combining acrobatics, aerial ballet, martial arts, puppetry and special effects.) Followed by Metropolis bar - Las Vegas. Once clear of the Bay of Vigo, a southerly course was set, paralleling the Iberian coast towards Lisbon. Tuesday 18th May - 8 a.m.- 5.30 p.m. LISBON Portugal Smart Casual/60s & 70s Italian buffet Wind - Light Airs 81 degrees F We sailed along the Tagus River to the 25th April Bridge, 230 feet above the water and disembarked and took the P & O shuttle bus (free) to Rossio Sq., where we took the Ascensor da Gloria - The Gloria Funicular - the busiest in the city. The funicular was declared a national monument in 2002. We then enjoyed the views from the gardens and I had a Pasteis da Nata tart. Dave reckoned he spotted Terry Gilliam from Monty Python! To save our legs and it was v. hot, we took an open top bus ride Olipso Tour - Yellow bus for 2 hours complete with head phones and music. We visited many sites. Bairro Alto, Principe Real, Cais do Sodre, Praca da Figueira, Rossio, Twin Towers, etc. After the tour, we took the funicular back down to catch the shuttle back to the ship. After lunch, swimming and relaxing ready for the evening. At 1700 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines in preparation for our departure. The vessel was thrust to starboard, taking us clear of the berth, before swinging the bow around to starboard to head out down the river passing under the Ponte 25 de April Bridge. Ventura cleared the channel at 18.49 and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines, as we set courses taking us northwards and paralleling the coast of Portugal. Tonight Sir Henry Cooper was the quest speaker in the Arena Theatre. Sir Henry's career spans 16 years and he fought 55 times, winning 40 including winning the British Heavyweight title, and he became the first man to put Cassius Clay on the floor just before he became world champion . In February 2000 he was knighted by the Queen. We also watched Jayne Middleton as Annie Lennox in the Havana. Last thing, the Metropolis bar, mostly had non-alcoholic cocktails here (Shanghai). Wednesday 19th May DAY AT SEA - formal night Ship's clocks put forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Country & Western buffet Wind - North easterly force 7 59 degrees F Today, another day a sea relaxing and swimming There was an ice carving demonstration and also a deck BBQ, most enjoyable! Afternoon tea with Tiptree jam and scones to die for! Tonight pre-dinner a classical concert by Hiro Tachenouchi, Chopin, Prelude in C sharp Minor Op. 45, Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor and Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58. in the Tamarind Club. Tonight another formal night, so after dinner Masquerade show in the Arena Theatre, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, hits from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, Phantom of the Opera and Whistle Down the Wind with the Ventura Theatre Company and Followed by a Black & White Ball in The Tamarind Club and late night disco. Metropolis bar to finish (New York). Most nights we had a coffee and snacks in the Waterside. From departure Lisbon until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 284 nautical miles at an average speed of 17.2 knots. Thursday 20th May BILBAO Spain (Basque country) - 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. Getxo port Smart Casual Indian buffet Wind - Easterly force 2 64 degrees F Took the free ship's shuttle into Bilbao, approximately 40 minutes. We then crossed the river over the Zubizuri Bridge over the Nervion River. Then we took the Artxandaxo Funicular to the top for good views of Bilbao. Rode back down and walked back over the bridge to the Guggenheim. Didn't pay to go in, but just had a quick peep. Took plenty of outside photos. Then took a gentle stroll back along the riverside (trams alongside) and boarded the shuttle coach near to El Corte Ingles back to port. Popped back on the ship to get some more film and then took the Port Authority's free minibus to the Bizkaia Bridge a hanging bridge which joins the riverbanks at Portugalete and Las Arenas. The bridge is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower due to its black iron structure and this 109 year old masterpiece of engineering is now the oldest transporter bridge in the world. We took the lift to the top (5 euros) and walked across (good view of the ship) and then the lift down to a flower market and walked along the quayside. Came back over the river on the transporter with the vehicles. Walked back to the port, approximately 45 mins. with views of the different types of architecture along the promenade. Had a some lunch, afternoon tea and had swim. 'Stand By Below' was rung on the ships engines at 1630 as the final passengers returned onboard. With all passengers and crew on board, our gangways were struck and we started to let go our mooring lines. With all lines onboard, Ventura was thrusted to starboard off the berth and into the buoyed channel. We continued to set mainly Westerly courses out through the channel until clear. We disembarked our local pilot once outside the breakwater and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines. We then set courses taking us through the Bay of Biscay, northwards towards our next port, Brest. After dinner did not bother with the theatre, but went to the Metropolis bar - Greg Jardine - and also Tribute to the Stars - Steve Larkins as Freddie Mercury in the Havana. At dinner one evening I spotted several dolphins and also some late one afternoon (the Captain made an announcement). Finished the evening in the Metropolis Bar - Paris. Friday 21 May - BREST France - 9.30 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. (Natural harbour). Smart Casual Mediterranean buffet Wind - Northerly Force 4 63 degrees F After breakfast, we went on our one and only proper excursion which was actually just a transfer to Quimper (a medieval town). After a 1 hour journey, we took the road train (Le petit train de Quimper) around the town. Met some Americans. We then had a drink at the Cafe 21 (vingt et un) opposite St. Corentin's Cathedral. At 1 p.m. we visited the cathedral and then took a quick look at the small shops and indoor typical French market. Bought two crepes which even Dave enjoyed. Walked back to the coach and 1 hour journey back through good countryside. There were some kiosks selling local goods on the quayside. Bought some wine, wooden spoon, and salt pot. Afternoon tea, then packed as cases had to be outside cabin door by 8 p.m. Hot and tired, so had a last quick swim in the Terrace Pool. This is near where the children's clubs took place and where they threw a pirate in the pool. With all of our passengers and crew onboard, 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines at 16.30. All of our lines were let go, before Ventura was thrusted off the berth. Once clear, the vessel was swung bow to starboard, and once complete, the vessel entered the channel to take us clear of the port 'full away on passage' was rung at 17.30 and Ventura set various courses taking us into the English Channel and towards Southampton. After dinner and saying goodbye to the waiters, we were presented with all the menus for the week (a nice gesture). Tonight Saturday Night Fever in the Arena Theatre. Last drink in the Metropolis bar - Hong Kong. Bedtime reading Britain Today. Saturday 22nd May SOUTHAMPTON - Hampshire England Wind - Variable Force 2 66 degrees F After breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we had to vacate our cabin by 8 a.m., so we went up on deck to the Terrace bar and sat in the glorious sun watching the shipping to Isle of Wight. After we disembarked, we quickly located our luggage and took a taxi back to the airport and our car. We then went to Warsash and visited Keith. Had a drink on the terrace and then went to Montisfont Abbey, National Trust property before heading for home. VENTURA'S EATING PLACES Saffron (our restaurant) Bay Tree (dark restaurant) Cinnamon - silver service anytime The White Room - extra East - Asian - extra The Waterside - inside/outdoor self service buffet Frankies Grill Frankies Pizzeria - lovely pizza! Tazzine - coffee lounge - pay for coffee but cake free The Beach House - 24 hours - casual Marcos Roof Cafe - Ice cream Havana - night club Metropolis - real time images of main cities Ramblas - tapas - some items extra 24 hour room service - some items extra Complimentary breakfast - i.e. juice/croissants Tea/coffee making facilities in cabin During cruise VE012 Ventura steamed a total distance of 2126 nautical miles on passage. A most enjoyable cruise and really good weather thoughout! P & O V E N T U R A CRUISE 15TH - 22ND MAY 2010 Saturday 15th May - Southampton - Hampshire - England Partly Cloudy Westerly Force 2 Temp. 59 degrees F Smart Casual Best of British buffet Please see Cruise Log for day by day record of the cruise After parking at Southampton Airport, we shared a taxi with a French couple Cruising on QM2 to New York. Firstly, the taxi driver took us to the QM2 Terminal (decorated with flags), then to the Ocean Terminal. The cases were promptly placed on the conveyor and we boarded the escalator to the top floor. Embarkation was straightforward after showing passports, paperwork and registering debit card. Soon on board and Dave and I were given a free massage in the Atrium. Our cabin (A416) Australia Deck was really spacious with walk in wardrobe, tea/coffee facilities, pamper pack, and good quality bed linen. Lunch was served in the Waterside Restaurant with a grand view of the harbour. After lunch, quickly unpacked and explored the ship. Lifeboat drill was held at 4 p.m. We sailed at 4.30 p.m. and Keith was with his friends on the beach at Warsash complete with foghorns, so able to speak on mobile. There was a sailaway party and the Salvation Army played on the quayside (a bit mournful!). Had a pimms. With all pre departure checks complete, clearance was granted and the Captain (Julian Burgess) made his departure broadcast. Ventura let go all her lines and moved off berth. She then proceeded down Southampton Water, slowing down at Fawley Oil Terminal before making the two turns, first at Calshot Spit and the other at Brambles Bank. Once complete an easterly course was set along the Eastern Solent. Ventura disembarked her local pilot at 19.02 and once clear of the Nab Tower, she was altered onto a south westerly course through the English Channel. We then went to the spa for the raffle. Had a pre dinner drink in the Metropolis Bar - with virtual wall displays of major cities - tonight London. Dinner was 2nd sitting at 8.30 p.m. (Saffron). Casual. We should have been on a table for 6 but only two others arrived throughout the cruise, a couple from Boston, Lincs. Our waiters were excellent throughout. After dinner, The Arena Theatre - Cruise Director's introductions (Leon de ste. Croix), followed by John Lenahan (magician). Other venues were Havana - disco, The Exchange - group, The Tamarind Club - Jayne Curry. The Tamarind Club was also a coffee bar. The evening passed quickly and the clocks went forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Chocolates on our pillows each night of the cruise plus biscuits replenished twice a day. Sunday 16th May - Day at Sea Formal Night Fish & Seafood buffet Westerly Force 4 59 degrees F We always enjoy days at sea. After a leisurely breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we spent the morning on a conducted tour, then the Endless pool plus Jacuzzis. Lunch in the Saffron (waiter service), followed by a flower demonstration (Atrium) and I was fortunate enough to win the top prize worth £40 in the raffle, a beautiful arrangement. The cabin looked really cheerful. We then enjoyed afternoon tea in the Saffron, which we did on most afternoons. Walked to back of ship via promenade deck. Looked at some of the interesting artwork on board - Rolf Harris CBE. We then discovered the Terrace Bar and pool, where we spent most of our Leisure time. Before dinner we sat under cover watching for wildlife. We saw precisely one bird! Dinner in the Saffron - formal preceded by Captain's Reception, followed by Peter Piper (11 p.m.). (Did not rate). There was a gala ball tonight, but did not go, instead went to our favourite Metropolis Bar Australian evening. From departure Southampton until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 308 nautical miles at an average speed of 18.1 knots. Monday 17th May - 9 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. VIGO Spain - Spain's busiest fishing port Muelle de Transatlanticos Port Smart Casual Asian & Oriental buffet Wind - light airs 64 degrees F A bank holiday in Vigo today, (P & O said they didn't realise) which suited us just fine as all the shops were mainly closed. We went ashore early and virtually did a walking tour. First the church (service in progress), then a walk along the main shopping area up to El Castro Mount, panoramic views over the Galician countryside and down to the Bay, peppered with numerous mussel farms. We saw the bronze fishermen and the statue of the wild horses. We walked down again and visited the Restaurante Casavella and I sampled the oysters. We then walked along the promenade to view the ship before returning for lunch. Spanish VAT was added at 7% in the bars during time in port. The afternoon was spent swimming and relaxing before the sailaway party. Tonight Smart casual dress for dinner in the Saffron. After dinner, Chronicles in the Arena Theatre at 11 p.m.(Adventurers in Africa combining acrobatics, aerial ballet, martial arts, puppetry and special effects.) Followed by Metropolis bar - Las Vegas. Once clear of the Bay of Vigo, a southerly course was set, paralleling the Iberian coast towards Lisbon. Tuesday 18th May - 8 a.m.- 5.30 p.m. LISBON Portugal Smart Casual/60s & 70s Italian buffet Wind - Light Airs 81 degrees F We sailed along the Tagus River to the 25th April Bridge, 230 feet above the water and disembarked and took the P & O shuttle bus (free) to Rossio Sq., where we took the Ascensor da Gloria - The Gloria Funicular - the busiest in the city. The funicular was declared a national monument in 2002. We then enjoyed the views from the gardens and I had a Pasteis da Nata tart. Dave reckoned he spotted Terry Gilliam from Monty Python! To save our legs and it was v. hot, we took an open top bus ride Olipso Tour - Yellow bus for 2 hours complete with head phones and music. We visited many sites. Bairro Alto, Principe Real, Cais do Sodre, Praca da Figueira, Rossio, Twin Towers, etc. After the tour, we took the funicular back down to catch the shuttle back to the ship. After lunch, swimming and relaxing ready for the evening. At 1700 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines in preparation for our departure. The vessel was thrust to starboard, taking us clear of the berth, before swinging the bow around to starboard to head out down the river passing under the Ponte 25 de April Bridge. Ventura cleared the channel at 18.49 and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines, as we set courses taking us northwards and paralleling the coast of Portugal. Tonight Sir Henry Cooper was the quest speaker in the Arena Theatre. Sir Henry's career spans 16 years and he fought 55 times, winning 40 including winning the British Heavyweight title, and he became the first man to put Cassius Clay on the floor just before he became world champion . In February 2000 he was knighted by the Queen. We also watched Jayne Middleton as Annie Lennox in the Havana. Last thing, the Metropolis bar, mostly had non-alcoholic cocktails here (Shanghai). Wednesday 19th May DAY AT SEA - formal night Ship's clocks put forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Country & Western buffet Wind - North easterly force 7 59 degrees F Today, another day a sea relaxing and swimming There was an ice carving demonstration and also a deck BBQ, most enjoyable! Afternoon tea with Tiptree jam and scones to die for! Tonight pre-dinner a classical concert by Hiro Tachenouchi, Chopin, Prelude in C sharp Minor Op. 45, Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor and Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58. in the Tamarind Club. Tonight another formal night, so after dinner Masquerade show in the Arena Theatre, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, hits from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, Phantom of the Opera and Whistle Down the Wind with the Ventura Theatre Company and Followed by a Black & White Ball in The Tamarind Club and late night disco. Metropolis bar to finish (New York). Most nights we had a coffee and snacks in the Waterside. From departure Lisbon until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 284 nautical miles at an average speed of 17.2 knots. Thursday 20th May BILBAO Spain (Basque country) - 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. Getxo port Smart Casual Indian buffet Wind - Easterly force 2 64 degrees F Took the free ship's shuttle into Bilbao, approximately 40 minutes. We then crossed the river over the Zubizuri Bridge over the Nervion River. Then we took the Artxandaxo Funicular to the top for good views of Bilbao. Rode back down and walked back over the bridge to the Guggenheim. Didn't pay to go in, but just had a quick peep. Took plenty of outside photos. Then took a gentle stroll back along the riverside (trams alongside) and boarded the shuttle coach near to El Corte Ingles back to port. Popped back on the ship to get some more film and then took the Port Authority's free minibus to the Bizkaia Bridge a hanging bridge which joins the riverbanks at Portugalete and Las Arenas. The bridge is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower due to its black iron structure and this 109 year old masterpiece of engineering is now the oldest transporter bridge in the world. We took the lift to the top (5 euros) and walked across (good view of the ship) and then the lift down to a flower market and walked along the quayside. Came back over the river on the transporter with the vehicles. Walked back to the port, approximately 45 mins. with views of the different types of architecture along the promenade. Had a some lunch, afternoon tea and had swim. 'Stand By Below' was rung on the ships engines at 1630 as the final passengers returned onboard. With all passengers and crew on board, our gangways were struck and we started to let go our mooring lines. With all lines onboard, Ventura was thrusted to starboard off the berth and into the buoyed channel. We continued to set mainly Westerly courses out through the channel until clear. We disembarked our local pilot once outside the breakwater and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines. We then set courses taking us through the Bay of Biscay, northwards towards our next port, Brest. After dinner did not bother with the theatre, but went to the Metropolis bar - Greg Jardine - and also Tribute to the Stars - Steve Larkins as Freddie Mercury in the Havana. At dinner one evening I spotted several dolphins and also some late one afternoon (the Captain made an announcement). Finished the evening in the Metropolis Bar - Paris. Friday 21 May - BREST France - 9.30 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. (Natural harbour). Smart Casual Mediterranean buffet Wind - Northerly Force 4 63 degrees F After breakfast, we went on our one and only proper excursion which was actually just a transfer to Quimper (a medieval town). After a 1 hour journey, we took the road train (Le petit train de Quimper) around the town. Met some Americans. We then had a drink at the Cafe 21 (vingt et un) opposite St. Corentin's Cathedral. At 1 p.m. we visited the cathedral and then took a quick look at the small shops and indoor typical French market. Bought two crepes which even Dave enjoyed. Walked back to the coach and 1 hour journey back through good countryside. There were some kiosks selling local goods on the quayside. Bought some wine, wooden spoon, and salt pot. Afternoon tea, then packed as cases had to be outside cabin door by 8 p.m. Hot and tired, so had a last quick swim in the Terrace Pool. This is near where the children's clubs took place and where they threw a pirate in the pool. With all of our passengers and crew onboard, 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines at 16.30. All of our lines were let go, before Ventura was thrusted off the berth. Once clear, the vessel was swung bow to starboard, and once complete, the vessel entered the channel to take us clear of the port 'full away on passage' was rung at 17.30 and Ventura set various courses taking us into the English Channel and towards Southampton. After dinner and saying goodbye to the waiters, we were presented with all the menus for the week (a nice gesture). Tonight Saturday Night Fever in the Arena Theatre. Last drink in the Metropolis bar - Hong Kong. Bedtime reading Britain Today. Saturday 22nd May SOUTHAMPTON - Hampshire England Wind - Variable Force 2 66 degrees F After breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we had to vacate our cabin by 8 a.m., so we went up on deck to the Terrace bar and sat in the glorious sun watching the shipping to Isle of Wight. After we disembarked, we quickly located our luggage and took a taxi back to the airport and our car. We then went to Warsash and visited Keith. Had a drink on the terrace and then went to Montisfont Abbey, National Trust property before heading for home. VENTURA'S EATING PLACES Saffron (our restaurant) Bay Tree (dark restaurant) Cinnamon - silver service anytime The White Room - extra East - Asian - extra The Waterside - inside/outdoor self service buffet Frankies Grill Frankies Pizzeria - lovely pizza! Tazzine - coffee lounge - pay for coffee but cake free The Beach House - 24 hours - casual Marcos Roof Cafe - Ice cream Havana - night club Metropolis - real time images of main cities Ramblas - tapas - some items extra 24 hour room service - some items extra Complimentary breakfast - i.e. juice/croissants Tea/coffee making facilities in cabin During cruise VE012 Ventura steamed a total distance of 2126 nautical miles on passage. A most enjoyable cruise and really good weather thoughout! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Our first P. O. cruise, but not our last. We expected a P. & O. cruise to be a bit special & we were not disappointed, but also a little surprised. Our first surprise was the parking. It all went very smoothly, but not an ... Read More
Our first P. O. cruise, but not our last. We expected a P. & O. cruise to be a bit special & we were not disappointed, but also a little surprised. Our first surprise was the parking. It all went very smoothly, but not an "aston" or a "roller" in sight, just your mondeos & astras.The check in went well considering that over 3200 people were waiting to board.We restricted ourselves to minimal hand luggage but next time we will take a small"pull along" case. Once on board we found our outside cabin quite easily & were surprised on 2 counts.Firstly the cabin,(sorry "stateroom") was quite roomy,larger than we expected & secondly our "ocean view" was only partly obstructed by the supporting structure of the lifeboats & we could see out to sea but not directly downwards.From what I could make out this was the case with all the outside cabins.The cabin was very comfortable & the 'fridge was very useful particularly if you want to chill some wine or beer bought ashore from home or one of the ports of call. There was no problem taking alcohol aboard. It is also worth considering which side of the ship to be on.On our itinery it was a slight disadvantage being on the port side as the ship usually docked with the starboard side against the moorings. A standing joke with cruisers & staff was the size of the ship.There is no doubt that this is a"biggy" & can be confusing, but we thought that this all added to the experience.For those people who are concerned about sea sickness then don't be, as the ship is very stable. We were also slightly surprised at the "mix" of people aboard. We thought that it would be mainly 50's & over, but there were young families. 30 somethings & quite a few disabled people for which the Ventura seems to be reasonably friendly. The dining did not disappoint. We went for the "freedom dining" in the Cinnamon restaurant which went very well. The food was very good with great choice, well presented & excellent service. In our case having a drink is a big part of a holiday & we found prices reasonable.A pint of draught bitter (boddintons) £2.75 & stella £2.95. Large canned beers (spitfire speckled hen etc ) £2.70.Branded spirits £2.10 to £2.40 a shot & bottle of house wine at £11.75.Getting a drink was very quick & easy with waiters hovering around just looking for customers. The entertainment was first rate & would not be out of place on the West End stage. On leaving a port of call there was a"sailway party" up on the top deck, which was great fun but unfortunately there were only 2 despite there being 4 ports of call, this was disappointing. Tipping can be a difficult area, but P & O charged us £11.60 per person for the week which we thought was more than reasonable & we tipped our cabin steward sepatately at the end of the week . Disembarkation went smoothly considering the number of passengers & we were on our way quite quickly. All in all a very pleasant holiday & one that I am sure we will repeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and ... Read More
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and O since the Worldie in 2008 since when we have been with Cunard, RCI and Celebrity Sat 5th June We left Chelmsford at 0930 and my inbuilt SmartNav certainly earned its keep on this 130 mile journey. It found delays on the M 25 where the M1 joins and took us across on the A404 to rejoin further down, then before the M3 junction and we had a trip bringing back memories down the A30 before rejoining the M3 which had a further problem in the Winchester area which meant a further deviation eventually arriving 3 ½ hours later. One of our table companions lives 10 miles nearer and it took him 4 ½ hours. Then we were stacked in lines by CPS not helped by getting a text from Iain on the Independence of the Seas saying he and Lynn were having their first drink of the day. Once in the terminal building we were directed to the assisted disabled check in which was so busy we were asked to sit and wait so opted to use the Gold Members' check in which took just a couple of minutes and so looked forward to our first ever Goldie drinks. Wrong !!! None available. We found our disabled balcony cabin which was superb as expected and ventured up to the buffet lunch where at least I could buy a proper English beer. On the way back we tried the disabled access out onto the Promenade deck but I got stuck and Rosemary was amused when the passenger helping me said "take it steady Pop" !! After lifeboat drill the Captain allowed Grand Princess and Independence sail out past us and I could just imagine Iain and Lynn enjoying their Diamond free drinks !! We were on second sitting dinner in the Saffron restaurant and had a lively table for eight but we found it strange they were all British. After the first night the waiters encouraged me to take my scooter to within a couple of feet from the table. On the way someone shouted "there's Norman on his scooter" and disappeared. We thought it might be Iain's friends who were also on the ship but turns out they were lurkers on WLC (told us their names but of course I have forgotten them). We did meet Iain's friends later in the week in La Rochelle Sunday 6th June A comfortable crossing of the Bay of Biscay and although Rosemary went to Line Dancing we didn't do much at all. I did ring housekeeping as we didn't have our bath robes. A house keeping officer soon appeared to say we were not entitled to robes as these were only for those in superior balcony cabins and above and our super cabin was not a superior grade and even our Goldie status didn't qualify for one. I explained that our friends on Oriana had them but he replied that on Oriana they only had standard cabins anyway. I asked to speak with a senior officer to explain that P and O's policy was so outdated compared with RCI, Cunard and Celebrity but all that happened was they said my complaint would be logged and sent to shore side. Come on P and O get with it !! We did like the idea of the pre dinner 7.30 pm shows and noted that P and O now serve drinks like they do on the American ships and there are aircraft style drinks tables. We can't remember having seen Mike Doyle before but he was brilliant. This was followed by the Captain's cocktail party which we were surprised was held in the atrium with no seats available although I was on my scooter. Drinks flowed freely provided you wanted gin and tonic or white wine. We did learn there were over 1100 first time cruisers on this ship. Dress code was fairly OK in the dining room but not too good in other parts of the ship. Monday 7th June La Curuna Moored very close to town we had a walk by the Marina and as the sun came out realised we had left the sun screen in the cabin so had to get some from a local chemist after which we continued across the peninsular to the beach. There was a magnificent promenade with wonderful disabled access and also a vintage tram which followed the coast but curiously no bars or restaurants so we wandered back to the ship for lunch. Our Goldie presents arrived today which were two boxes each containing three miniature bottle of spirits - a nice change from the rubbish we have had in the past. Again we went to the pre dinner show which was Martin Daniels. I first saw Paul his dad before he became famous and Martin tonight was so funny I and the lady sat in front of me had tissues out to wipe the tears of laughter from our eyes. Disabled access to the theatre was superb although there were no designated seats for carers like we found on Oriana. We started going for after dinner drinks in the Metropolis and the first night the video wall was was set in Sydney right where we were berthed on Aurora and Oriana so that brought back memories. There were other entertainment venues one of which was Tamorind but we could never get a seat in there and the Exchange pub which we both found was a depressing place and the train never was working - the barman said it was the effect of volcanic ash !! I should have said I am finding the food at dinner quite acceptable especially as I found out the a prawn cocktail is always available as a starter. I was surprised when I asked for a steak knife because of my arthritic hands to be told they do not have steak knives on this ship !! The waiters were very good though and always asked if I wanted the meat cut up. Amazing having found out that one couple (American) who were on our table on the Constellation will be with us on the first leg of our Celebrity Equinox Cruise next January one couple on our table this time are booked on the second leg of that same cruise. Tuesday 8th June Bilbao Free shuttle buses were provided (they had taken the trouble to phone me earlier to say that disabled transport might not be available but with Rosemary's help I can get into a coach and the scooter goes in the luggage compartment) but as the weather was cloudy and the bus journey time was 45 minutes we decided to just have a wander round the marina area and beach and returned to the ship for lunch before it rained. Wednesday 9th June La Rochelle I've just found a note on my iPod that there were horrendous queues for breakfast in the buffet area yesterday morning - something I've not come across on other ships. P and O again laid on free shuttle buses for the 20 minute journey into town. They were using a mixture of coaches and bendy buses and the latter had driver operated electric ramps so fine for disabled users. After a wander round we chose a tent covered outside restaurant where Rosemary had her long awaited Moules and chips and being boring like I am joined her with a mushroom omelette all of course washed down with wine. During this time it was raining but they extended the tent top to cover my scooter. Fortunately it had stopped by the time we left and just as well it had as we met Iain's friend who introduced himself and warned us of a very lengthy shuttle bus queue. My word indeed it was and it disappeared out of sight around two street corners !! Everyone of course was moaning and there were no taxis to be seen and we felt sorry for oldies having to stand whilst I was sitting on the scooter. I suppose it was just over half an hour before we boarded and on sailaway the captain apologised and said it was due to some of the French bus drivers deciding to go to lunch. Thursday 10th June Brest/Quimper We had booked the P and O tour to Quimper (a one hour journey)where the coach just drops you off for three hours and I would confirm that P and O still offer the best service to disabled passengers on tour. Stickers delivered to the cabin the night before and a big personalised reserved poster on the front seat of the coach. As Amanda and Karen had commented a few weeks ago it is a lovely place but unlike for them the weather again was not too good. However, we found a creperie and indulged. After a big savoury one we both plumped for the sweet one which is flambEed at the table and served with ice cream. Well it was Rosemary's birthday and we had decided not to pay the £25.00 per person for the White Room as the menu did not excite (MPW was on board until we got to Bilbao). On Oriana Rhodes it was only £15.00 reduced to £10.00 for your birthday. East appeared nearly empty most nights but I don't like Indian food anyway. Oh and the waiters do not sing at the table now unless you pay for it (I presume) as one or two did have the singing during the week. Friday 11th June Guernsey At last the weather started to improve and we met our friends from the dinner table on the last Worldie who live there. We only had to wait about 15 minutes to be called for the tender and they didn't hesitate to load my scooter onto the tender (Cunard please note !!). Then when we got a call from our friends who we weren't able to contact whilst waiting to say they were picking us up P and O took the scooter back to the ship for me. Saturday 12th June We had tickets for a 9.00 am departure and were called 15 minutes early. The porter loaded the car with my spare keys while I waited at the CPS kiosk and unlike the journey down we had no problems and were home in 2 ½ hours. Summary I am really trying to make any criticism constructive so let's start off with the positives. This cruise in a super disabled access cabin was only £78 per day (after our credit) P and O wine prices were cheaper than others and so were the drinks although the latter can be offset by the strength of the drinks. P and O also let you take on board drinks to have in your cabin P and O are amongst the best for looking after their disabled passengers (once you can persuade them to let you have a disabled access cabin). For official tours they are THE best. The entertainment was very good and being on second sitting we enjoyed the pre dinner shows. The CD Leon de la Croix is the best afloat. Ventura had good disabled access except for getting out onto the Prom deck Despite recent postings on cruise sites the food was good and the silver service they have retained was welcome. The price for alternative dining was high however. Having tea and coffee making in the cabin is also a welcome P and O treat (but I have read somewhere that Eclipse will offer this) Free shuttle buses As for the ship itself the main problem was getting lost !! We have a lot of experience of big ships but were still getting lost on the last day. The big problem was that you can't walk right through the ship and not all lifts go to all areas all of which was not helped by very poor signing. Finding a sign was one problem - reading it was another. The ship as I have said was packed and finding a seat in the alternative entertainment venue was almost impossible (Tamorind ?) The exchange pub didn't appeal to either of us but we both enjoyed the ambience and music in the Metropolis. The buffet area was again very crowded and not once did anyone offer any help (except Rosemary of course !) We were used to P and O charging for fruit juice at lunchtime but they also charge for ice cream and I also noticed flicking through the room service menu that a lot of items were at an extra cost. Bar service in the buffet was good however. We did enjoy the experience but found five ports in five days was hard work and we were unfortunate with the weather. I can understand lovers of Oriana and Aurora not liking this ship and I thought maybe P and O were trying to compete with RCI but Amanda on WLC suggested that they are trying to fill the void being left by Ocean Village. Maybe the next decent offer we get from P and O will be on Arcadia but we do now have three booked on Celebrity Norman Kerridge June 2010 PS I do have my video on line http://www.vimeo.com/13427851 Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We didn't know what to expect, i had gone on a cruise 30 plus years ago in my teens and couldn't remember too much but my partner had never sailed, so there was a slight concern of sea sickness ....which never came i'm ... Read More
We didn't know what to expect, i had gone on a cruise 30 plus years ago in my teens and couldn't remember too much but my partner had never sailed, so there was a slight concern of sea sickness ....which never came i'm pleased to say. The Ventura was a loverly clean ship and you hardly knew you were sailing. The start / checking in was the best experience ever , the atmostphere was so calm and i lost count of the P&O check in staff at Southampton. This set the holiday off very well . You were given a ticket with a letter on it and when this was called you went up to the check in ....we were there in a full hall and only waited about 20 mins from us arriving ...oh i forgot to add they took our bags at the car and we never saw them again until we gor to our cabin ! The information on board was second to none as your TV gives you information on position, miles travelled etc and also gives very interesting information on video form of your ports you are visiting. The cabin was fantastic and the attendant very polite and friendly . Towels seemed to be changed 2-3 times a day soometimes . They turn your bed down at night and not only do they leave a printed itinerery for the next day they leave small choclates on the bed ! The choice of food was vast and the quality very very good. You can eat in other restarants of varrying tastes at a varring suppliment.Or there is a non formal dinning area which is very nice and no suppliment. But to be honest the main restaurant is as good or better than any 5 star hotel you may visit so we stayed in there !! The entertainment was good some acts better than others but there is so much choice if one wasn't to your liking you can just go and find another going on at the same time ...its that easy. The drinks on the Ventura ar normal pub prices so no worries there. The staff are very friendly and helpfull. Even the collection of our bags at the end was a breeze as i was worried i wouldn't see my plain black case as i'd forgot my bright pink gay pride march strap ! But no worries there , they let you off and you walk into a massive hall / warehouse as part of the route out and your bags are all lined up in deck order so you just find your deck walk along the line ( there's no conveyor belt) and just pick your bags up ....all done ...easy as that !!! We are going again !!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Agreed at the last minute to join friends who were sailing out on Ventura on 12th June with much apprehension as possibly I read too many reviews on the internet. Well we were most pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. I might ... Read More
Agreed at the last minute to join friends who were sailing out on Ventura on 12th June with much apprehension as possibly I read too many reviews on the internet. Well we were most pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. I might add that we are seasoned cruisers having sailed on almost all the P & O ships and 3 times with Royal Carribean. Our cabin was excellent, spacious and we really appreciated the balcony, it was out first time to have one. The weather was very hot and it was bliss to escape back to the ship and our very own 'space'. The food was very good and lots of options, although we mostly dined in Medina with our pals, 1st sitting. We usually had to rush to get to the shows in the theatre as mostly they were very well attended. By and large we enjoyed the programmes put on there but later it was impossible to get into the tribute shows in the smaller theatre. Went several times but had to leave as it was 'standing room' only. At no time did we see any unruly children or teenagers, and there were some on board. Our fellow cruisers were well-mannered and friendly, mostly British. When we had to tender it was a bit of a drag getting 3,000 people ashore but P & O did organise it as best they could and one just had yto show some patience. Embarkation na dis-embarkation was dealt with in a very efficient manner. Summing it all up - a very enjoyable experience. Forgot to add that the highlight of the cruise for me was a ship's trip up into the mountains of Corsica from Ajaccio. What spendour, now I know why its called the 'scented isle'. If you go to Corsica make sure you take a tour to those majestic mountains. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We've been on four cruises in the last two years and to be honest until we got a great deal we considered P & O out of our price range and now it seems we've opted for quantity of holidays as opposed to quality. Last year ... Read More
We've been on four cruises in the last two years and to be honest until we got a great deal we considered P & O out of our price range and now it seems we've opted for quantity of holidays as opposed to quality. Last year (2009) we travelled on both Ocean Village ships and cruised Caribbean and the Mediterranean they were fantastic and everything we expected, but now I'm guessing had we been on a P & O ship first and then travelled with Ocean Village we would probably have felt that they're not a patch on the beauty of Ventura, its elegant decor, the overall layout, outstanding entertainment and the service and food was above all second to none. All though some of our ports of call we visited with Ventura were not as glamorous as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, add the fact that the weather was a hit and miss affair. Ventura itself certainly more than compensated, the ship is simply a holiday destination on it's own. P & O is most certainly the way to go. Last January we travelled on the Island Escape around the Canary Islands, again the places were great, however the ship was a total disaster, I had been on it years ago, it was great back in 2002, but it was a mere shadow of it's former self, everything about it was substandard, in fact truth be told it was totally awful. So cruising on Ventura in June after Januarys cruise on the Island Escape could be compared to trading in an old Austin Allegro for a Rolls Royce! On Ventura we opted for Freedom Dining instead of set times and had most of our meals in The Cinnamon Restaurant where the food was out of this world, we're not used to the high standard service and quality every night, on other cruise liners you'd have to pay a lot extra for this kind of service and quality. Most evenings Liston and Jessey served us, it seemed they couldn't do enough to please us. In fact all the staff on Ventura are an asset to P & O, all very friendly and extremely helpful. The free shuttle buses from the ports were a great touch as I had researched what to do in each port and I much prefer to explore and find the places of interest without being taken around by a guide. It also saves a pretty penny! The entertainment was superb, we found ourselves rushing round trying to catch two or three shows a night, usually on our past cruises there would be a couple of nights where nothing really appealed to us, in the past we've sat and read books on a balcony or watched a film in our cabin. Ventura's entertainment was action packed from start to finish we enjoyed it immensely; Martin Daniels was highly amusing we didn't expect that! George Michael isn't really my cup of tea but the guy who impersonated him was very entertaining. The musicals in the Arena were truly magnificent, though I have to say the show Flash could have had some better songs, there was a couple of duff numbers in there! We left Southampton on the 5th of June; the 6th was a day at sea. On the 7Th we arrived at La Coruna north of Spain. We walked a straight line from the port into the town until we came out at tram track next to the sea, we walked along the sea front until we came to a little beach that was being worked on, we found a quiet little cove and then walked to the Hercules Light house which was free that day and climbed the stairs to the top had a look around. We then headed towards the main beach area, Riazor Beach and then the sky became overcast, it started to rain a little so we headed back for the ship. The 8th of June we arrived in Bilbao,in Spain's Basque Country. A free shuttle buses took us into the town. After reading reviews about the Guggenheim Museum, a modern art gallery, we decided to check it out, the exterior was a work of art itself, there's a huge spider sculpture, a dog frame covered in flowers and a tall sculpture that looked like silver balloons piled on top of one another, everything outside the museum was very impressive. Warning! Do not waste your money going inside, if you consider the works of the late American Robert Rauschenberg as art then you are just as deluded as the man who created them and about as crazy as the idiot who decided to exhibit them as modern art in the first place! It's simply pieces of metal, from cars and road signs and any other metal junk riveted and welded together to create art? Modern art? I've got our old bath down the side of our house, I lovingly filled with the bathroom debris from a complete refit, so if any gallery wants to pay me a few thousand to exhibit this as an exhibit then please feel free to contact me, it's yours for a couple of hundred pounds though if you are totally eccentric or stupid even then give me a few thousand for it. Another room in the gallery was filled with wooden pallets with mounds of clay on that resembled stacks of human faeces, and to be honest that's what we all thought of it, another room was decorated white with a slash in the wall, we've got a kitchen like that! Are you getting the feeling that we were not impressed yet? I could go on about other totally useless exhibits by other artists there, but seriously don't waste your money or time in the Guggenheim, call me uncultured all you like and straight away I'll be thinking that you are a rather sad individual that really ought to get a life! After the museum that we headed north to the Artix Funcular, a train that takes you up a steep mountain to a recreational area where you can get some great views of the city, well worth a couple of Euros. The 9th of June we arrived in Brest in Brittany France. There was two free shuttle buses, one that takes you into the old town and one that takes you to Oceanopolis a huge aquarium, I heard somewhere that it's the biggest in the world. It was raining that day so we opted for the aquarium it was ok, nothing special though we spent most of the day there, I have to say I prefer the aquariums in Genoa Italy and Long Beach California. We didn't go into town as other passengers had advised it's not one the nicest of places in Brittany and besides it was raining! June 10th we were in La Rochelle France again a free shuttle bus into this lovely old town, we walked around the shops and then the picturesque marina, lots of restaurants, we popped into one for banana chocolate crepes and coffee, then carried on walking around and up to the old towers that guard the harbour before heading back. On June 11th we were in Guernsey tender boats took us across from the ship to St Peter Port. Guernsey was easily our favourite port of call, it's a fantastic very beautiful place to visit, we plan to have a holiday there and next time visit Sark and Herm. There's plenty to see and do with miles of glorious coastline, everything about the place was wonderful. We visited our friends there and had a superb day, it started off with a little light rain and then the sun came out and transformed every view into a picturesque postcard! We arrived on June the 12th back in Southampton. Disembarkation went smoothly and we were off the ship earlier than we had anticipated and had to wait a couple of hours before our scheduled train home. All in all we had a fantastic holiday, totally recommend Ventura to anyone no matter where in the world she goes, you'll enjoy her and all it has to offer. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Having spent 15 days on Ventura in the Caribbean some 18 months previously,we had am element of reassurance that we at least knew our ship, if not our destinations. Southampton proved to be an easy port to use apart from P+O's ... Read More
Having spent 15 days on Ventura in the Caribbean some 18 months previously,we had am element of reassurance that we at least knew our ship, if not our destinations. Southampton proved to be an easy port to use apart from P+O's ridiculous alphabet boarding which meant if you arrived on time there was a full ships worth of passengers in the embarkation hall! No matter we let that one pass and were duly embarked without fuss. When we on Ventura the first time we noted that it rolled around a bit and we were still in Barbados harbour, which we thought strange; and it continued to do this throughout that cruise. Many thought it had a stabiliser fault, but it did not worry us too much and we enjoyed the great itinerary. This cruise was different, in that the ship still rolled around like a pig in a bath, but the weather was foul which was disappointing in the first instance, and bad luck in the second. The first port of call was La Coruna on the North Western peninsular of Spain, a pleasant enough town to wander around for an hour, but not much more. Excursion options on this day and for most of the cruise were limited so we were soon back on the ship minus a few shekels which madam deems customary practice to spend in a shop or three! The third day was Bilbao a short distance along the coast and the main city in the Basque region. A few more places to visit such as the Guggenheim museum, and a big city to explore. Transfer time from the ship to the city was slow and of course it rained.I think I would sum up the city as ok, probably better in the sunshine, but I would not rush back too quickly. On day four we arrived at La Rochelle somewhere we were looking forward to visiting. This French town is on the same level as Cognac, and has a lovely old part to it as well as a nice harbour. P+O decided to berth the ship 25 minutes away and bus everyone in on complementary coaches, not perfect but hey ho? The town was a dream, old narrow streets full of quaint unusual buildings, and to our delight a beautiful food market. The fresh fruit and veg was displayed quite rightly with pride in the outdoor stall area, with every imaginary species available. We then entered the indoor food hall, housing fish, meats poultry, bread, cheese and cakes, all a joy to behold. We had big grins on our faces the whole two hours we spent there. We bought a giant piece of french crusty bread and a slice of ripe Brie to eat on the balcony.A bowl of Moules et Frites in a small cobbled street finished the visit of perfectly, until the heavens opened!!We quickly headed back toward the pick up area. We then noticed a bunch of fellow passengers on a street corner doing nothing which seemed strange? On rounding the corner, to our dismay we saw the rest of the ships quota queued as far as you could see toward the coach collection point. We heard some had been there for 1.5 hours already.Being an impatient so in so, I decided we would go and remonstrate with the people responsible at the stop. It turned out that the French drivers decided they were going for lunch regardless of the contract...C'est la vie! Embarrassingly, as I walked along past the front of the queue and the only coach to arrive for an hour, the lady organiser waived down a different coach type, gave a few terse orders in French to the driver and said to me, Ventura? Oui, I said as quick as a flash, and we were on. I was so ashamed, sitting there on the front seat when those poor folks had queued all that time. Ok, I'm sorry if it was you but we were owed a slice of luck and I guess that was it? Two minutes into the journey I heard complaints about bad feet..oops, brie me thinks? We got back to the ship, ordered red wine and sat on the balcony spooning the ripe brie on to the crusty bread...Fantastic. The next day was Brest, on the North West part of France. Now I guess Brest looks grim when the sun shines, but when it rains.....yuk. All passengers made a hasty retreat back to the ship. The last port was Guernsey, when it again rained in the morning!!!The town of St Peter Port was really nice and as you may have guessed by now we had lunch. Fresh seafood on the harbour front, lovely. Lets deal with the ships amenities. We ate in the White room on day one and the food and service were immaculate, and Marco himself was on board as he was the last time we were on the ship. Whatever you have heard he is a very gracious man, who listens intently to all you say. If you get a chance eat there do so, you will not be disappointed. The main restaurant was ok but not special. The food was average and the waiters seemed to be practicing for a cutlery juggling contest. They need more practice! We also ate in the Tapas bar, fantastic, and on the final night, East, which seemed grossly under used which was a shame as the food and service were brilliant.P+O's drinks prices are really good, half the price of the American alternatives. We were drinking beautiful wine with our meal for under £10; not bad eh? The evening shows were quite good, particularly Mike Doyle the Welsh comedian/singer who did two nights. Nothing was sacred in his mickey taking of the passengers and crew, and everyone raved about the performances. Elsewhere there was a good mixture of music to suit all tastes, and most seemed content. So, it may seem to readers that there were a few negatives, and yes there were, but we had a good time and would not want to put others off. Add some sunshine and it could be a delightful cruise. Disembarkation was the quickest and most painless ever. Well done P+O. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We travelled down to Southampton and stayed the night before at the DeVere hotel right on the front. We booked a stay with breakfast, transfer and park package that cost only slightly more than paying for just parking at the dock. The ... Read More
We travelled down to Southampton and stayed the night before at the DeVere hotel right on the front. We booked a stay with breakfast, transfer and park package that cost only slightly more than paying for just parking at the dock. The hotel was excellent, lovely room, breakfast and well organised transfers to and from the ship by taxi. After a leisurely walk along the quay to take pictures of Eclipse, which was also in port we checked out of the hotel and arrived at the new Ocean Terminal at about 11.45. We were given a card with a letter on and had to wait until about 12.30 before our letter was called as boarding did not start until 12.00, we were efficiently checked in and boarded the ship. We had lovely lunch from the buffet sitting in the sunshine on the Terrace until our cabin was ready at 1.30. We had a cabin on C deck with an extra wide balcony and it was perfect, part under cover and part exposed. This was our second cruise on Ventura and the cabin itself was identical to our previous cabin on B deck. A well designed cabin with all the facilities and storage you need We had a table for 8 in the Saffron restaurant, though in the end there were 6 of us plus one of the ships senior officers who joined us for the whole cruise. It was a very enjoyable experience. The food was generally excellent, I returned one meal, very British style food. We ate one night in The White Room as a celebration and that meal was outstanding, a perfect evening, a lovely table in front of the picture windows. We had breakfast either in the Saffron or the buffet, and enjoyed both, an excellent selection. For lunch we went to either the buffet or Frankies grill. We ate very well indeed, though at times it was busy we always found a seat, and dishes were promptly cleared from tables. We never had to queue. We noticed that people were arriving for dinner more than 15 minutes before the club dining time and then complained that they had to queue, strange, of course they had to wait! We went to all the shows in the theatre and thought they were very professional. We easily found seats at the 7pm performance and then went on to dinner. We did not go to any of the other shows or entertainment. Our favourite bar was Metropolis where we could sit looking out at the beautiful scenery as we passed through the fjord still light at midnight. Drinks were reasonably priced and very well presented and served. We though the wine list limited, though again good value, we did not buy a wine package as we were only on a short cruise, but they were available. Disembarkation was very efficient and civilised very unlike our experience on US ships. Times varied from 7.30am to 11am depending on your form of onward travel. The evening before we were given a card with our departure time, an got off the ship promptly at 8.30 rung the prearranged taxi number and were back with our car by 9am. A perfect cruise, we look forward to our next on Azura in October Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Myself and three friends are currently university students who took a gap year so had a fair amount of money saved. We want to be able to travel but not do it rough and neither are we clubbers so a traditional "student" holiday ... Read More
Myself and three friends are currently university students who took a gap year so had a fair amount of money saved. We want to be able to travel but not do it rough and neither are we clubbers so a traditional "student" holiday is not at all what we were looking for. I myself had been on a cruise the year before with my girlfriend and three times before with my parents - so pretty knowledgeable. We got the train to Southampton and got a taxi to the port - very easy and then from there the suitcases were unloaded and within an hour we were on the ship having lunch. The atrium of the ship is not as impressive as in Oceana or Aurora - but nothing bad indeed. The decor has a modern feel and was very well looked after while on board - continuously polishing and cleaning. The food was amazing, I could not fault it one bit. There is a vast array of choice at all meal times, the only gripe was with the layout of the Waterside buffet court which was a little small. The room service food was very good as well, with a reasonable choice that was free. Furthermore, the service as a whole was top notch - nothing more to say. We did not partake in any daytime activity but there was plenty to do and the on board shows were very good, they are not outstanding West End production but good enough to sit down and enjoy. There was a comedian who we didn't find funny, but that is personal taste. Overall and excellent holiday - saving up my student pennies for another one soon. One port i went too that I can scroll down and choose is Alicante - it was ok, not very scenic nor much to do, but if you wanted a beach day or shopping day then this is a good port. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We've always wanted to visit the North coast of Spain, and with last minute offerings on Ventura- a ship with which we are familiar- we decided that we could spare the time and money to go on this port-filled cruise. This leads me to ... Read More
We've always wanted to visit the North coast of Spain, and with last minute offerings on Ventura- a ship with which we are familiar- we decided that we could spare the time and money to go on this port-filled cruise. This leads me to the difficult bit, and the reason why we've not written a review anywhere before. In the week before our sailing, the area where we live had a major incident, which affected us all. We were reluctant to leave our village at a time of stress, and almost cancelled. The incident did impact on us throughout the cruise, but of all places to be, the Ventura was the most familiar ship to us, and, it being very British, we had no problems going with the flow. We learnt not to say where we were from, and were able to find quiet spots for our sadder days. Having a last minute cruise means taking whatever dining options are offered- we only go with cruise lines which offer Freedom dining- so our slot into 2nd sitting we ignored, going only once, to make sure that the waiters were tipped. Instead, we dined at all the other venues, with a tremendous meal at White's, with Marco himself in and out of the kitchen. We chose his own recommendation of red wine:"Possum", which was £24, and worth every penny. We were very impressed by the tapas in the Ramblas, where you could have a mixture of any kind of main meal, sweet- or just a list of tapas. The tuna pastry was freshly baked, and memorable. We each had a paella; mine the meat, OH the fish. Excellent! Our cabin was way up on A deck, and was similar to the last one we had on C, but without the massive balcony...this was almost a Juliet! Still, there was room to sit and relax away from the crowds. The main reason for grabbing this cruise was to see Santiago de Compostella. We took the ship's tour, and it was brilliant. The coffee break in Santiago's main square was in the ancient hospice, now a Pousada, which would have occupied us for a day of sight seeing alone, with old chapels and courtyards full of statues. Certainly a place to stay in the future. As well as the Cathedral, the guide lead us through the 4 car-free squares surrounding.We only scraped the surface of a fascinating town, but it will need a holiday there to see more. At Bilbao, P&O as always provided a free shuttle bus. Interesting to see the P&O ferry from Portsmouth in the harbour, and reflect that one P&O ship was now owned by Carnival, and the other by a group in the Middle East. We were unable to join any activities or entertainment, due to our tragedy, and unlike our last Ventura cruise; we can wholeheartedly say that she is an excellent ship for people who need to get away. There are quiet corners, and enough open deck to satisfy the most solitary. We self-disembarked, and were able to leave the ship at 7.30am. Taxis were lined up, and we were at the station by 8.50, able to catch an earlier train north, arriving at out little station by 3.45. Jo and G. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Cruising on P&O Ventura was a great experience especially as we snagged bargain suite prices by booking only a few days prior to sailing. The party consisted of My wife and I and two of our sons aged 19 and 21. The boarding experience ... Read More
Cruising on P&O Ventura was a great experience especially as we snagged bargain suite prices by booking only a few days prior to sailing. The party consisted of My wife and I and two of our sons aged 19 and 21. The boarding experience was excellent and we were on the ship in the Waterside restaurant within 20 mins of entering the departure building. The suite comprised a bedroom and curtained off sitting room with full bath and shower, a double balcony and an excellent steward called Sam who attended to everything - including unpacking and full English delivered to the suite, and would tell my wife off if he noted that she had attempted to tidy up or clean cups etc. The boys soon got over their initial embarrassment (funnily enough) of having Sam around. The sports and gym facilities on board were top quality and I especially liked the adults only pool (Oasis) at the bow. It is noteworthy that despite 3000 passengers being on board I had this pool to myself for 15-20 mins most sea-day mornings around 930. The food in the restaurant was top quality with 5 courses served each evening and the waiting staff were efficient, friendly yet unobtrusive. The food was so good that despite my suggestion that the boys go eat in the more casual Waterside restaurant at another time so they could watch a World Cup game they insisted on dressing up and not missing their evening banquet! Food menus and hygiene were impressive all over the ship and we had no complaints. Drinks prices were also very reasonable compared to Carnival cruises. The Exchange pub was a great place to have a beer and a snack and enjoy quizzes and bingo as well as catching the big games. The entertainment in the theatre was only an 8/10 lol - but stilled and made up for by the excellent tribute acts (Freddie Mercury, George Michael) in the smaller venues. The midships pool area was a little manic but that's where the families gathered so only to be expected and easily avoided. We only paid for 1 official excursion: Glories of the Gladiators in Rome; because of the long drive from the ship and to ensure we got back on time and also to avoid likely long queues - which we managed to do. We all really enjoyed it and it is definitely recommended for families with older children. In Livorgno we clubbed together with a few other couples and paid for a taxi-bus to take us to Pisa; Be aware however that there is usually a two hour wait to climb the tower once tickets purchased - so it may be worth buying an official excursion if you don't want to miss out. In Lisbon we made our own way around on the trams and in Barcelona we walked everywhere straight from the port except to the Nou Camp which was a cheap taxi-ride away. In Cannes we paid 5 euro for a return train ticket to Monaco and Monte Carlo and had a great day out at a bargain price (compared to the official excursions). The Captain then held a sail-away cocktail party midships and mentioned that he had specifically detoured to Monte-Carlo to provide great views as we left the coast. Typical old-school British class I would say and this was evidenced throughout the ship in terms of service and also the officer of the watch and Captains daily noon briefings. All reminiscent of the calm and efficiency of an officers mess rather than some of the mayhem and especially food queues encountered on Carnival. The motion of the ship was unnoticeable and all-in-all we had a tremendous holiday and would thoroughly recommend Ventura and the P&O experience.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
This was a superb cruise for our 7- strong family covering 3 generations. The Southampton embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and trouble free.As seasoned cruisers, we knew what to expect on "Ventura".Our son, his wife and ... Read More
This was a superb cruise for our 7- strong family covering 3 generations. The Southampton embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and trouble free.As seasoned cruisers, we knew what to expect on "Ventura".Our son, his wife and their three children were highly delighted with their state rooms and all aspects of their first cruise. The facilities offered to the children aged 9.12 and 15 were vibrant, varied and safe. Adults wanting a quieter time could utilise the peaceful OASIS terrace and pool. The entertainment was intelligently varied - something for everyone! The "Ventura Theatre Company" was superlative. The staff were particularly friendly and attentive to our family`s needs. We were delighted with the Captain since he articulated matters both maritime and social with simple fluency and warmth. The seven ports of call were wisely chosen but it was too hot to enjoy them thoroughly. One might expect with a passenger list of 3,389, that the public areas might be crowded but this was not the case - one could always be accommodated easily in the lounges and restaurants, pool and deck areas. We would recommend "Ventura" without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We have recently returned from Norwegian Fjords Cruise 7 nights from Southampton 17th to 24th July. The embarkation was efficient and by the time we had got onto the ship we were already saying this is much better than a fly cruise (that ... Read More
We have recently returned from Norwegian Fjords Cruise 7 nights from Southampton 17th to 24th July. The embarkation was efficient and by the time we had got onto the ship we were already saying this is much better than a fly cruise (that we have previously done). We found our cabin immediately P234, spotlessly clean and our steward Nicolau was very pleasant without being overpowering, he kept us with an endless supply of sweeties, biscuits, tea coffee you name it, 3 times a day he was in the cabin changing towels etc etc... we could not have asked for any better treatment if we had booked a suite. Apart from a little niose during the night on a couple of nights this deck is highly recommended for those on a budget, only a few steps through the gallery you were in the atrium, we sat in this area in the evening with a buzzer (for the longest 10 mins) to wait for a table in Cinnamon restaurant. We opted for Freedom dining thinking that this would be less formal and the food would not be up to the standard of Club dining, how wrong we were. The food was bl**dy excellent, piping hot and quick service, the waiters were brilliant - could not fault this service at all, well worth the huge tip we gave them at the end of the cruise.... Only fault was the weather, rained all week apart from the sail up the North Sea and the return my husband and myself both got burned, we did not take sunscreen as we thought it would not be hot (how wrong were we !).. the scenery can only be described as spectacular from entering the Fjords to coming home. We have previously been on 3 cruises to the Med with Ocean Village (which we loved by the way and sorry to see go to Oz), so you can imagine our apprehension of whether we would fit in. We loved every minute and all day today we have been shopping around for the best deal to book for the Med Sept 2011. We are both young 50's and would recommend this to all ages, but do not make the same mistake as we did and didn't take with us the formal attire. We thought we did not have to partake (you don't), but we felt left out and when we decided to go and buy a tie or bow from the onboard shop, all had been snapped up quickly, it appears others had done the same. We watched all the passengers in their sparkly gowns and tuxedo's and wished it was us. The next cruise we are already prepared and know the score... For those of you who are not sure... go on, food excellent, service the same from boarding to disembarking.... I loved Ventura and cannot wait, I am sure it is 56 weeks to go and counting.... Happy cruising.. xx Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
THE VERY GOOD Buffet breakfasts and lunches were excellent with good choices and fresh food, ample seating even with a full ships complement. Inside cabins were spacious for two people and well equipped. Transfers to and from the ship at ... Read More
THE VERY GOOD Buffet breakfasts and lunches were excellent with good choices and fresh food, ample seating even with a full ships complement. Inside cabins were spacious for two people and well equipped. Transfers to and from the ship at ports of call were well organised. Drink prices onboard weren't too exorbitant. The speciality dining room EAST carrying a supplement of £15 per head for early dining is an excellent dining experience and good value for money. THE GOOD There is a good selection of bar and entertainment venues and the main theatre provides plenty of good seating. Entertainment was varied and catered for most tastes. The Bay Tree main dining room was a pleasant dining area and had an adequate if not spectacular selection of meals. The shore excursion out of Olden to Stryn valley was interesting and informative even on a drizzly, cloudy day. THE NOT VERY GOOD We had a late allocation inside cabin (D524) which was listed as an upgrade from OE to OC. Avoid this at all costs. For 2 nights we suffered noise from the location close to the ships funnel.On the next day this turned into a mechanical vibration from somewhere close by. After complaints about the noise and vibration and several visits from various P&O personnel we were moved to a Deck C forward cabin for the rest of the week, and apart from some noise from the theatre was a great improvement. The attitude of the predominantly Indian bar and lounge attendants was less than enthusiastic. The standard of food presentation and main course vegetable choices in the main dining room were poor compared to other cruises we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We've recently returned from our first cruise and enjoyed it so much that we're now cruise converts! We'd been interested in booking a cruise for sometime but weren't sure if it was our sort of holiday. We did lots of ... Read More
We've recently returned from our first cruise and enjoyed it so much that we're now cruise converts! We'd been interested in booking a cruise for sometime but weren't sure if it was our sort of holiday. We did lots of research as to which would be a suitable ship and eventually picked P & O's Ventura, we thought we'd go for 7 days only, just in case we didn't like it. We used the P & O website to book the holiday, getting a 10% discount and double on-board spend. We had staterooms A501 with a balcony and A517 inside and also chose the freedom-dining option. Living only three-quarters of an hour from Southampton, we had a short drive to the Ocean Terminal and were impressed with the CPS parking arrangements. Wasn't really sure what to expect with the check-in procedure but were pleasantly surprised with how smooth, efficient and stress-less it was. We arrived about 1.00pm and it was busy - it was announced later in the day that there had been 2,500 people in the terminal at that time - but considering the amount of people checking in we couldn't believe that it only took 45 mins between arriving and boarding. We went up to the Waterside Restaurant, had something to eat and it was announced that the cabins were ready at about 2.00pm. Following a quick walk around Deck 15 we went to our cabins. Some of the luggage was already outside the door; some didn't turn up until a few hours later. We had a balcony cabin and an inside one. Both were very comfortable. The beds were really comfy, plenty of storage space, etc. The hairdryer was powerful enough to dry my thick, shoulder, length hair; it was an ordinary plug in one (not one of those powerless wall mounted ones you sometimes find in hotel), so don't worry about packing a hairdryer. My GHD's also worked perfectly. Two small bottles of water were supplied, along with tea, coffee, milk, biscuits and sweets. Complimentary toiletries were by the White Company. Beach towels were also supplied. The balcony was great, enough room for three of us to sit out on and wasn't overlooked, although we could look down onto Decks C and D. We used either the Beach House or the Waterside for breakfast. Lots of choice from traditional cooked breakfast, through to cereals, pastries, fruits, etc. Although the ship was full we never had a problem finding a table. You could also have breakfast delivered to your room. Lunchtimes (when onboard) we used the Waterside Restaurant (wide choice of food) or Frankies, where they did lovely pizzas to order and a good burger (perfect for when you're relaxing on deck or using the pool). Occasionally we would pop into Waterside for a bit of afternoon tea, where there was a selection of sandwiches, cakes, etc. There was a silver-service tea in Saffron each afternoon but we never got as far as getting there; next time maybe..... In the evenings we used either Cinnamon (we went at about 7.00pm and never had a problem getting a table), Beach Bistro or Waterside. Again, a wide range of food, always well cooked and presented. I'm veggie and had no problems finding something to eat. We had a quick peek into Marco Pierre White's restaurant and it looked very inviting, they also did a good veggie option. However, we were so busy trying the other restaurants that we ran out of time to go there. Apparently, MPW was on Ventura the week before, so we just missed him. Entertainment was very good. My favourites were the Four Tops and Drifters Tribute Groups. We also saw Saturday Night Fever and a Freddie Mercury Tribute. There were also plenty of different quizzes including a Dr Who one, talks, classes, etc. Cheryl Baker was guest speaker, not my cup of tea but others who saw her found her enjoyable. The facilities for children looked fantastic and my nephews would of loved them. All the children seemed happy and were well behaved. I had a quick look round but didn't use the gym. Plenty of equipment and great views. At the Oasis Spa is a sauna and steam room for general use. Also for £10 a day you had unlimited use of the Thermaspa. This I did use and it had a couple of steam rooms and a lanconium, complete with warm tiled beds for relaxing on. I felt great after using this. Outside is the adult pool, which although slightly chilly is meant for swimming in, rather than playing in. It was also a lap pool but unfortunately the machinery was out of order last week, due to some rough weather on the previous cruise! There were also two lovely Jacuzzi's too. We used the indoor Beachcoomber Pool on the wet days and the Laguna Pool on the sunny days both were lovely and warm. Didn't get to try the Terrace Pool as we tended to always be down the other end of the boat. Weather wise we had a real mixed bag, so you'd be wise to take summer and winter clothes on a trip to the Fjords. Our first full day at sea was gloriously hot, with lots of sunbathing, swimming and general relaxation. The North Sea was also very calm - not what we were expecting at all, even the Captain commented on how kind the North Sea had been to us. The four stops were as follows:- Bergen - when we arrived at Bergen it was drizzly/low cloud/foggy. We used the shuttle bus and had a good walk around Bergan. We were also going to use the funicular railway, which can easily be done independently, but as we couldn't see the top of the mountain because of the poor weather we decided to abandon this and went back to the boat after a couple of hours. As soon as we got back to the boat the weather improved and the sun came out! Bergen is a pretty little town and well worth a look around. Flam - it rained all day One of the Costa boats was already moored up at the quay, so Ventura used its tenders instead. We'd already booked via P & O to do the Flam railway trip but I expect it would be cheaper to do this independently. The line is 12.4miles and at its steepest gradient it's 1 in 18. There were lots of stunning views and waterfalls, especially the Kjosfossen. At the top of the line we visited the hotel where we had coffee and waffles with raspberry jam and sour cream, yum, yum. Ventura and the Costa ship had a bit of a competition with their horns, which was great fun. Olden - raining. We visited the Briksdal Glacier, again pre-booked with P & O. I expect it would be difficult to get here independently. There are two options with this tour, either walking the whole way or getting the troll bus halfway and walking the rest. We walked the whole way and it can be a steep walk in places (especially in the pouring rain). The troll bus takes you up the steep bit and then drops you off to walk the rest of the way to the glacier. There is a steep bit after the troll bus drops you off and I saw one old lady struggling to make it up this bit, however after this it's a much flatter walk and well worth the effort to see the retreating the glacier. Again, there's a thunderous waterfall half-way up the steep bit, so you might get wet there, even on a dry day. We also had a nice selection of coffee and cakes at the Briksdal hotel on our return. Stavanger - in the morning the weather was overcast, however in the afternoon there was wonderful blue sky. Ventura moored up in the city centre and this was perfect for a gentle wander around. On our last day at sea, again the weather was warm, with blue skies, perfect for a last bit of relaxation before our return to Southampton. Disembarkation was equally smooth. We were given an allocated time of 8.15am to leave the boat and our luggage was waiting for us in the terminal. There was a short walk over to the CPS Car Park and we were on our way back to Bournemouth by 8.45am. We thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and loved the Ventura. We're now looking at the Caribbean Cruises for next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
First of all let me say that the negative reviews we have read nearly put us off booking the ventura, thank goodness we didn't listen to the doom mongers! From arriving at the terminal to eating lunch at the waterside was 45 ... Read More
First of all let me say that the negative reviews we have read nearly put us off booking the ventura, thank goodness we didn't listen to the doom mongers! From arriving at the terminal to eating lunch at the waterside was 45 minutes. 30 Minutes later our cabin A309 was ready, all our luggage arrived 30 minutes later. Our balcony cabin was surprisingly spacious and there was lots of storage for all of our clothes and three large suitcases plus 2 carry on bags etc.. We had a table for 8 late sitting and all of our dining companions were lovely, we used to spend our evenings all together as the week went on. The food was good, the waiters were attentive and the wine list was surprisingly good. A decent bottle could be had for £17, dessert wine £9. Had the internet package in the cabin 250 minutes plus 30 free for £65. The ship was full and apparently there were 700+ children on board, however we never really noticed the ship was full and we didn't see many children milling about and the ones we did see were very sweet and polite, so P&O kids clubs must be good. Didn't have too much trouble finding a sun bed, although around the pool area was very busy and had we wanted to sit there I think we would have to get there early. We took two trips to Florence and Rome, we enjoyed both and thought they were reasonably priced. The only complaint we have was the attitude of one miserable old bloke on the last day as we we self disembarked we were directed to the queue by the crew and told to join the queue towards the front of the ship and the miserable old boy decided we were pushing in and tried to start an argument, you know the type the same ones that think it is OK to push their way to the front of the lifts, however we had had such a good time we just laughed at him and let it go over our heads.. For anyone thinking twice about booking Ventura because of the negative reviews, don't worry and book asap. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We are in our early sixties and were invited to join my cousin and his wife on Ventura. We have been on Celebrity and Princess cruises previously. After driving to Southampton we met a long queue of traffic for the docks. There was the ... Read More
We are in our early sixties and were invited to join my cousin and his wife on Ventura. We have been on Celebrity and Princess cruises previously. After driving to Southampton we met a long queue of traffic for the docks. There was the Southampton Boat Show and two other cruise ships joining that day, not surprising there was a lot of traffic. Once in the port we used the CPS car park which was a slick operation and very efficient. Inside the terminal building the boarding process was quite quick, and we were soon on our balcony, with a mug of tea admiring, the fantastic view of the port and the other two cruise ships. Our cabin was very clean with all we needed. What we miss on the American ships is the capability to brew tea and coffee in our room. Heaven! - lots of tea and wonderful shortbread biscuits plus a tray of delicious sweets. A tour of the ship revealed a similarity to Caribbean Princess. After reading the days info' sheet we realised there was much on offer. The gym was good with loads of kit. I used the mountain bike simulator which I thought was brilliant - only wish I had one at home. We dined in the Bay Tree restaurant on 2nd sitting, sharing our table with two other couples, who were great fun. The food was superb, as was the service from our waiters and wine waiter. We did, however, think that Celebrity had the slight edge on creative presentation. We dined in the Waterline and Beachcomber for lunch and breakfast, both superb too with excellent choices of food. Walk to the rear of the ship and there was always a table. Entertainment was very good. The Ventura Co. did Masquerades - a series of Lloyd-Webber hits from the shows - brilliant - West End quality! The comedian - Peter Piper had us crying - hilarious. His take-off of Basil Fawlty was very realistic. Ventura visited Vigo, Lisbon, La Rochelle and Brest. I would rate La Rochelle as a 5. Free shuttle to the centre. Loads of squares and side streets with bars, eateries and under- archway shops to browse. Coffee overlooking the marina was a treat. Lisbon and La Rochelle were our favourites. Brest was the final stop. We did the 'Breton Delights' tour to the Landenou Bridge, a manor house for crepes and delicious sweet delights with coffee and cider. The manor and people were terrific but the smell of pigs outside was overpowering. 1000 or more! Finally visiting one of the church closes which was very interesting. Overall - Thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, the ship, the food, the service all excellent. Better than Celebrity and Princess. Tea and coffee and biscuits, free shuttle buses, cheaper drinks and wine for meals, cheaper for tipping. We will certainly sail with P and O again and Ventura - thank you for a great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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