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592 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

Boarded in Southampton 4th September, compared to flying this is a fantastic way to start to the holiday. on the ship within 50 minutes of arriving- 10/10 A beer/Lunch and look around, the ship is easy to navigate just forget majority of ... Read More
Boarded in Southampton 4th September, compared to flying this is a fantastic way to start to the holiday. on the ship within 50 minutes of arriving- 10/10 A beer/Lunch and look around, the ship is easy to navigate just forget majority of the decks and focus on the ones you need 6/7 bars shops and theatres. and then the top decks for waterside laguna and very rare sunshine. cabins clean tidy and good size, we were on C deck so had a good sized balcony. the cabin steward was very helpful and attended to our needs. the ship overall was spacious and again very clean. FOOD - the food in all the restaurants we used was very good, we ate mostly in the Bay Tree also paid £25 extra for a night in Marco Pierre Whites which was worth every penny. breakfast and lunch in buffet was very good and a couple of evenings in the Boathouse one of which i paid £6.50 supplement for surf n turf fillet steak with the biggest prawns i have ever seen. entertainment was good, and there were bars to suit all tastes. overall the whole experience was a pleasant one. Good and Bad GOOD A litre of Barcardi delivered to your cabin £12.00 our last cruise on Ocean Village you could not do this and a couple of nightcaps in the cabin cost about the same as the full bottle on P & O. Staff very attentive. Very nicely laid out ship. BAD STELLA on tap This seems to be the case with all british ships P & O please note this is awful muck used by yobs to fuel there bravery before causing fights. alternative was to spend the same amount for half a pint of decent beer. THIS IS ALL I CAN FIND TO MOAN ABOUT !! VENTURA AND P & O ARE GREAT Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We are seasoned cruisers and have cruised many times before most recently with Royal Carribean, NCL and Princess so this was our first P&O cruise and we must say were not impressed in comparrison! Embarkation/Disembarkation This was ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers and have cruised many times before most recently with Royal Carribean, NCL and Princess so this was our first P&O cruise and we must say were not impressed in comparrison! Embarkation/Disembarkation This was very efficient we arrived at Southampton around 11.45 and we were on board the ship within half an hour very organised lots of desks open to check you in. Great start to our holiday or so we thought! Disembarkation was very organised you are given coloured cards and get off once your colour has been called however don't try and get off before your colour is called as you will be sent back. Cabin The smallest cabin we've had especially the bathroom which was very petite. We had an inside cabin on deck 12 which was fine despite being a bit smaller than what we are used to. Our steward did a good job throughout although we did miss the small finishing touches that we ve always had like towel animals being left on your bed at night. Other than that it was fine. Food & Drink The food was the highlight probably some of the best food we've had on any cruise I am wheat and gluten free and they were great at accomadating me with this. If there was something I didn't like on the menu the chef would make it especially if he could, as I pre-ordered my meals the night before the same with afternoon tea as long as I pre ordered they would accomadate me. The White Room was FANTASTIC well worth the £25 per head extra charge. Drinks were very reasonable around £2.25 for a can of beer £4.20 for a cocktail. The downside to this was the waterside buffet on deck 15 it was a NIGHTMARE! The restaurants closed at 9am for breakfast so if you wanted a lie in you had to go to Waterside, we have never ever had to queue for breakfast or for a seat before on this cruise we constantly had to queue it was awful. We chose freedom dining which was ok but if you want a table for 2 be prepared to wait up to an hour most nights as we had to wait, a bit annoying that you cant book a table like we could last year on Royal Carribean. Entertainment The only word for it is RUBBISH! Very poor throughout the cruise a long way off the standards of the american cruise lines and not enough activities during the day.We felt like we were on a floating butlins or a package holiday at sea not what we are used to at all. Ports Of Call Lisbon, Vigo, La Rochelle and Brest. The ports of call were ok but we much prefer the med if you are going to cruise Europe we did a tour in Lisbon and La Rochelle which again were o.k but over priced like most excursions. What they don't tell you is there are free shuttle buses at every port which is useful but we had already booked our tours so were unable to make use of these in Lisbon and La Rochelle. In vigo we got off and walked into town which we thought was a bit of a dump and Brest we didn't get of the ship so cant comment on that. Service The service was ok not the most friendly service we've had but we didn't have any problems either the staff were pleasant but didn t go out of there way where service is concerned. Ventura "ROLL" We were told this at breakfast yesterday by a lady sitting on our table that she was told by someone at P&O the Ventura is known as The VENTURA Roll and boy did she rock. We have cruised out of New York in winter we have cruised Alaska and never experienced movement like this before it was VERY VERY ROCKY. Alot of people were suffering from sea sickness that we spoke to. She is not a very stable ship at all the swells and sea conditions we were told by the captain were fine. If the Ventura rocks like that in ok weather I dread to think what she would be like in bad weather. Summary The demogarphic on this ship was vast I have never seen so many tattoo's in one space before, there were alot of babies and alot of diabled and wheelchair passengers on board. We feel this cruise was aimed at the more cheaper end of the market which is why it gave us the feel of a floating butlins or package holiday at sea. The ship was full 3,500 passengers and this is the first time we've felt it was crowded, we have often been on large ships but have never felt crowded before. The food was great however not much else was as i've said above and in future we will pay a bit more and stick with Celebrity and Royal Carribean and will certainly never cruise with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Just back from a two week cruise on Ventura with our two children (age 2 & 4. As usual with P&O, embarkation was very quick and easy. We had some reservations about the size of the ship, but can honestly say we never felt we were ... Read More
Just back from a two week cruise on Ventura with our two children (age 2 & 4. As usual with P&O, embarkation was very quick and easy. We had some reservations about the size of the ship, but can honestly say we never felt we were on board with 3000 other pasengers. Around 100 children were on board, most of which we never saw, but were informed during August School Holidays there were 800! That would have been very noticiable. Our biggest mistake was booking the fixed time eating at 6:30. Having always eaten at 8:30pm on previous cruises we booked the earlier sitting to "fit in" with our childrens routine at home, however the rush to get us all ready in time for dinner was not worth it, missing some of the best parts of the day on deck to get ready. Often the childrens meal would not turn up until we started our main course which led to a fed up children and a complaint to the head waiter. By the second week we gave up and started eating in the Waterside or Beach Hut when we wanted which was so much more relaxed. Our cabin was very roomy having booked the superior deluxe cabin with a sofa bed instead of bunks. Small details like a blue duvet and pink duvet for our son and daughter was a nice touch, (as was the complimentary champagne, chocolates, robes and slippers for my Husband and I). However on the downside we felt that the staff were more impersonal and looked under more pressure than on previous cruise ships (Adonia, Oriana, Arcadia), the cabin was not that clean, we found a dirty pair of girls pants and a used knife under the sofa-bed, my mum found a pair of men's pants in her cabin also! The kids club in general was clean, very well organised with large areas for the children to play including an indoor soft play area and secure outdoor play area, computers and a well stocked toilet/nappy changing facility. The kids programme was vast and ran until 10:30pm where upon which our children were usually asleep and could be transferred if you wish to the night nursery, although we did not use this service. Overall, Ventura is an excellent ship for Children, my Husband and I have learnt to select freedom dining from now on and our impressions of Ventura were good but the food and entertainment was not as high standard as previously experienced on P&O's smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Our first family cruise has turned out better than expected. The Ventura is a super floating 5 star hotel and I find it difficult to find any faults at all. Holiday costs were great free child places meant that it was a reasonable ... Read More
Our first family cruise has turned out better than expected. The Ventura is a super floating 5 star hotel and I find it difficult to find any faults at all. Holiday costs were great free child places meant that it was a reasonable cost for a family of four. (2011 quotes are 2.5K more expensive) On board prices were good value, Stella at £2.95 G&T for just over £3. You can take drinks on board with you but to be fair to P&O why you would at their prices. On board bottle of Bombay Sapphire 1ltr £12. Jamison's Irish whisky 1ltr £15. Kids club was great for our two kids they were gone all day and night with their new friends leaving me and the wife for some quality time together (a first on our holidays) Food was exceptional with choices of buffet dining or a full sit down five course meal. 4 formal dinner nights which you could avoid if you wanted and a pool restraint serving burger pizza etc. Room service if you really want to be lazy was a nice touch. Entertainment was good with a selection of Movies, shows, singers and comedians. Several bars and plenty of fun and games with the entertainment staff. We had a superior balcony room which was great for all four of us. I would not recommend an inside cabin as they looked a little small. To conclude this was our best holiday ever and we are saving up to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
2nd time on the Ventura 1st time was on the Med, this time transatlantic to the Caribbean. Over all it was an enjoyable cruise just a couple of grumbles. But first the good points. Our cabin was an outside and was very comfortable, ... Read More
2nd time on the Ventura 1st time was on the Med, this time transatlantic to the Caribbean. Over all it was an enjoyable cruise just a couple of grumbles. But first the good points. Our cabin was an outside and was very comfortable, and the cabin layout was great, we particularly liked the open plan wardrobe, it gives you lots of space for cases etc, The in cabin entertainment was wonderful, with a great choice of free tv and free movies. The food was wonderful, the entertainment was amazing in quantity and quality, the cruise director Leon de Ste Croix was excellent. As were the guest speakers among which was Duncan Mckenzie who did a few wonderful talks and a very entertaining Q&A session in the theatre. We had about 5 comedians on the cruise 3 singers 2 groups and a classical pianist, so as I said amazing entertainment. Bar prices were excellent, UK pub prices in fact Also the ship its self is beautiful and well maintained. The minus points were, some of the passengers :-( P&O had drastically reduced the cruise prices just before the sailing date, so much that some of the passengers were from the lower end of the passenger scale and would have been better suited to "Butlins or Pontins". That may sound snobbish but i'm far from a snob (from a Liverpool council estate originally) but I have done 20+ cruises and I do know how to behave with people and how to consider other people. Anyway on with this review, most of the time it was not possible to get a sunbed with people reserving them from early morning 6 - 6.30am in some cases. One last thing was some of the staff in the waterside in particular the lads who were clearing tables, they were not as friendly or efficient as they usually are and were very very slow to replace cups and glasses in the drinks areas, quite often none of the drinks areas had any cups or glasses and you had to ask for them and then eventually got them. All that said it was still a good cruise and we did enjoy it. One last thing I must commend P&O for their transfer organisation it was brilliant both getting to the ship by coach from Manchester and getting to the airport in Barbados, one great thing was putting your bags outside the cabin on last night and not seeing them till Manchester airport, OTHER CRUISE LINES TAKE NOTE !! :-) Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our very first P&O cruise taken recently on the Venturs was a mixed bag of reactions. First of all it is the very first time we have ever had a delay in sailing and the 15 hours we spent on board before sailing was spent trying to find ... Read More
Our very first P&O cruise taken recently on the Venturs was a mixed bag of reactions. First of all it is the very first time we have ever had a delay in sailing and the 15 hours we spent on board before sailing was spent trying to find our way in this huge vessel. This was certainly the very best cabin with the most comfortable bed we have ever had on any cruise. The cabin was immaculate and well planned so that we had room to move and our clothes were easy to unpack and store in the roomy wardrobe area. The cabin steward did a first class job every day witrh clean fresh towels and no sooner we left the room for breakfast in the morning and our room was cleaned and replenished immediately, we never came back to an unprepared cabin. The service in this respect was first class. The food also was of a superior standard and the choices were varied and numerouos. Quality was first class although the waiters did not provide much more than an adequate service. We had to ask the waiter on a number of occasions for things we expected to be on the table, e.g. NO steak knives - apparently this ship does not carry steak knives. As each course was served, the waiter had to place soup spoons, knives etc in relation to what was ordered. Why can't the tables be set up to provide all the required cutery? The formal nights were also something of a disappointment, out of the four we attended only one had a pre-dinner reception. The other nights had no reception or after dinner show, so why were they classed as special nights? they were exactly the same as all other nights (except we had taken care to dress extra special). We enjoyed the cruise, despite having to miss out one port of call due to the delayed sailing but we have decided that the ship was too big for us, and we prefer the smaller ships with a more intimate atmosphere and more organisation on the gala nighhts. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our itinerary was Southampton to Zeebrugge (For Bruges) and return to Southampton. 25th to 27th March 2011.Booked through a cruise agent we had used before and no problems on this. However on all the documentation I received there was no ... Read More
Our itinerary was Southampton to Zeebrugge (For Bruges) and return to Southampton. 25th to 27th March 2011.Booked through a cruise agent we had used before and no problems on this. However on all the documentation I received there was no indication which berth, at Southampton, the Ventura sailed from. A few years ago when sailing from Southampton with P&O we always left from the Mayflower Terminal (Dock Gate 10), good job I phoned to check beforehand as the Ventura sailed from Ocean Terminal Dock Gate 4 !! Other passengers I spoke to had to enquire also.Embarkation: No problem with porters taking luggage from car as soon as I arrived and parking car in short term car park adjacent to the terminal was hassle free. On entering the embarkation hall just after 2pm (the advertised opening time) we were greeted by a mass of passengers all waiting to be checked in. We were given a coloured card with a letter denomination and had to wait for our card identification to be called before we could advance to check in. Green E was being called on arrival and we were Red B. (green & red cards only issued so you can do the maths to work out the anticipated waiting time). We waited approx. 1hr.Checking in: Very easy, except we were informed we had a cabin upgrade from C deck to B deck, but it was just the same outside with balcony status. Seeing that our suitcase had been taken from us on arrival and was tagged with our original cabin number on C deck, I asked whether there would be a problem in delivering the luggage to our new allocated cabin. We were informed it should be OK as they have a system of cross referencing things.On Board: Great looking ship, no complaints with accommodation, food and waiting staff. On board entertainment in the evening was very good. However, getting back to the suitcase: our cabin steward asked if we had received our luggage and on seeing we had not and eventually grasping the circumstances (Language difficulty) he said he would chase. 1hr later still no luggage, so phoned reception to query as we ideally wanted a fresh change of clothes for dinner at 6.30pm. They would check. After a further hour, visited reception to query again, as we only had 30 mins to go before dinner. They said they would check and do a 'deck sweep.Needless to say we had to go to dinner in the clothes we travelled in.I checked outside the cabin we had originally bee allocated on C deck but could not find case, even checked the stray case area, allocated to missing cases, but still no joy. Eventually at 8.45pm our case arrived. 5 and three quarter hours after arriving on board. My assumption is they do NOT have a good system for cross checking of information on luggage appertaining to late cabin changes such as ours!!!Arrival at Zeebrugge: We wanted to do our own thing, getting to Bruges, a Taxi would cost EUR 45 to 50 each way, which is a bit steep. We opted to use the free shuttle into Blankenberge (20 mins) and just behind the drop off point in the town is the Railway station. Trains to Bruges once per hour, takes 15 mins. and only cost EUR 3.60 return per person. From the station at Bruges it is a 15 min leisurely walk into the centre of the city.On return train journey you have to be careful as the incoming train is quite a long one and they split the train, the front half goes elsewhere and 3 mins later the back half takes you back to Blankenberge. So watch out for this!!!As mentioned previously no problems encountered with anything else on board we had a really nice time.Disembarkation: In a nutshell a complete shambles. In my years of cruising I have not encountered anything so bad.Options were- you could leave with your luggage after breakfast from 8.30am > 10.30am as you wished, alternatively you could leave your luggage outside the cabin late in the evening before disembarkation, which would be collected and placed shore side and you would be called off the ship in 30 min slots depending on which colour disembarkation cards you were allocated. (THEY LIKE TO USE COLOURED CARDS).Cabin had to be vacated at 8am re new cruise preparation, we had breakfast, and by 9am waited in one of the lounges to be called off at 9.30am as indicated in the information leaflets we had been given. We were aware there may have been a slight delay as we were 20 mins late berthing at Southampton.However apart from an announcement saying were were coming alongside and being 20mins late there was no other announcements about disembarkation at all and all the 'card' holders in waiting were getting very frustrated when they saw there allocated time slot passing by.What the staff did not realise was the huge influx of passengers wanting to leave the ship with their own luggage and instead of an assumed even spread, they all wanted to get off at the same time completely overwhelming the system and jamming up the corridors and stairwells (passengers and bulky luggage). After waiting 40 mins past our allocated slot we joined the queue with the baggage lot and after a further 20 mins got off the ship. Low and behold our case was waiting in the baggage area for us to pick up.I just wonder how long the other passengers on board had to wait for their turn to be announced. As I said from berthing to us getting off not one announcement was made re disembarkation.To summarise : Cruise Excellent, Embarkation; Fair, Disembarkation; Disastrous Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We had often wondered would we enjoy a large cruise ship after the ultimate experience of Azamara could anything be better than that.,so when I saw a 2 night cruise to Zeebruger to visit Bruges and try all that chocolate and special price ... Read More
We had often wondered would we enjoy a large cruise ship after the ultimate experience of Azamara could anything be better than that.,so when I saw a 2 night cruise to Zeebruger to visit Bruges and try all that chocolate and special price balcony cabin same as inside i booked it.What a mistake from the moment of check in at Southampton to the chaos of disembarkation nothing lived up to expectation,Too many people, nowhere quiet to relax,queues for everything from breakfast to lifts, buses,everywhere you went people pushing and so much noise.The cabin clean and bed very comfortable ,best of all cruises we,ve had,plenty of hot water and good shower.No water in the room to drink and 2 sachets of coffee a day!!!Food ok could be better, buffet breakfast lacked imagination and fresh fruit could have been fresher.Staff fairly indifferent but polite chatted a lot to each other.Would recommend that P and O .staff do an Azamara cruise they could learn a lotWill never chance P and O again Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Our cruise from Southampton to Bruge, a two day taster cruise that left on the 25th March 2011 and returned on the 27th March and cost us £350 per person plus extras, was a big disappointment I'm sorry to say. As quite experienced ... Read More
Our cruise from Southampton to Bruge, a two day taster cruise that left on the 25th March 2011 and returned on the 27th March and cost us £350 per person plus extras, was a big disappointment I'm sorry to say. As quite experienced cruisers we wanted to taste the delights of P.& O. which we thought would be a real treat and cut above the others (Royal Caribbean and Princess). From the very beginning organisation was a real issue. We arrived at the cruise terminal (Southampton) to be handed the colour coded cards with letters on, with no explanation as to the procedure other passengers filled us in, and over an hour later waiting in a huge hot hanger (please please tell me that's air conditioned in summer ?) we were called. Then you que for check in, then you que for security now I understand that some queing when dealing with 3000+ passengers must be inevitable but there are ways to handle large groups with courtesy and tact rather than making them feel like cattle, and this was not attempted here.We arrived on board and a few staff were "hanging around" and we managed to find out where are cabin was ,but on previous cruises this has been handled as a warm welcome with smiles and grace, not so here.Best Bit of cruise was the brass band on the dock which played us off, magic. Our cabin was adequate, with furnishings as expected but the overall feel was that the decor, fabrics and flooring were very tired. A small TV on which little information was ever displayed and PAY per view films ! unlike Princess or Royal Caribbean where the latest movies run for free, with plenty of choice of other channels and information is updated daily in a rolling show recorded by the cruise director. (Dont even think P&O have a cruise director).In the bathroom were decent size toiletries, but a shower curtain rather than a door. In the Room were tea and coffee making facilities and a fresh daisy, all small nice touches. On the balcony, nice furniture two loungers, one foot stool (every one else had two??) and an occasional table (what do occasional tables do the rest of the time? [I digress]).We went for a wander around the ship and came back to find our case had been left outside someone else's cabin, luckily we walked past that particular cabin so reclaimed our case !!! can you imagine the problems we could have had had we not been lucky enough to spot it?There was no explanation of where we could eat (this was the major problem of this cruise there was never any information or help or organisation), we ended up on the deck eating hot dogs and burgers although, I believe, we could have eaten a nice afternoon tea in the buffet but no one told us!The restaurant was pleasant, the food and service excellent, we had first sitting 6.30pm and a table with two other couples and although we were strangers we got on well and I have no complaints about the restaurant and my partner was pleased to note that on the formal night people were denied access to the dining room if they were not adhering to the specified dress code. The breakfast (which we took in the buffet on deck 15) was also excellent with masses of choice and very nice food. My partner had full English and I had continental with fruit and yogurt all lovely and well presented. We will give credit where credit is due the staff and food served on this ship were top notch.The entertainment on board for this two night cruise were awful, a bad comedian, two X-factor rejects, a sub standard tribute to the four tops and a George Micheal tribute act. I hope that normally on longer cruises the shows would be good but might have expected at £350 a head for two nights we deserved better. The crew also seemed to think this was a "Party Cruise" nobody billed it as a party cruise when we booked it, it was described as a "Taster" and we expected a taste of P.& O.'s usual standards.Bruge and the shore excursion- We booked the four hour tour, boat ride and shopping advertised as "A Taste Of Bruge" £40 a head.Our coach was half an hour late leaving the ship due to lots of chatting and checking lists by the P&O staff, so we were instantly late starting our walking tour. No problem for the guide who was 6'4" with a stride to match and decided to do the whole thing at top speed with no "comfort stops", in the end three of us ladies had to demand a toilet break which went down very badly and he went into a complete sulk when half the group decided not to continue with the tour and make their own way back to the ship (at considerable expense). If I were you I would book the "Bruge at your own pace" (£28)which is basically a transfer to and from the ship and look round Bruge at your leisure. A lady however told me that this was also fraught with disaster for some people as when they went to get the buses back, some how the buses filled before every one who had paid were seated on them. The driver of the last bus refused to carry these passengers, despite their having tickets and turning up in good time ( one was even in a wheelchair), and left them to make their own way back to the ship, ten miles away. Perhaps to make your own way to and from Bruge via the train is the best option as many more experienced passengers did. Bruge by the way is lovely. The boat "driver" we had was very funny and we tipped him because he was the best bit of the tour.Disembarkation- We have been on many cruises and are used to the system, you keep the bare essentials with you and put your main case(s) outside the night before you dock. In the morning those who want to get off quick (and didn't put their cases out the night before) get off first. Then the others are kept in different lounges and called in order (usually colour coded) to avoid chaos, no one ques for longer than necessary and you wait in comfort! That's how they do it on other ships, not here though, lip service was paid to the organised way, we waited for the calls for disembarkation but after nothing for an half an hour my partner went to find out what was happening. He was told by a member of staff that they'd abandoned any attempt at organisation and everyone was now queing (3000+ people) to leave the ship by one gang plank!!! madness which we then had to join. What a rubbish way to end a rubbish weekend. Everyone was hot,tired and very fed up, it didn't have to be like that, the fact that the ship was late docking should not have caused this chaos.When we got home a P.&O. brochure was awaiting us, and leafing through I was amazed to find that this ship is only 3 years old, it has not aged well. It needs a deep clean and preferably a complete refurbishment, it needs someone to organise the staff and provide more information, where are the little cards with maps of the ship ? (so handy on other cruises we've been on). The staff need to up their game be polite and informative (one spoke to me so rudely he alone would have put me off P.& O. single handedly) the general attitude seemed to be it's only a two day cruise we dont give a damn about the passengers. You will not be surprised that we will not be travelling with P.& O. again and are having our next cruise with Princess, they know how to treat their customers (and we've already booked it).It saddens me that a great British company has been reduced to this. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We got to Southampton dock and were put into a queue then directed to the unloading area the luggage was taken from us and that was the last we saw of it until it was outside our cabin.The booking in was a bit of a wait but then with over ... Read More
We got to Southampton dock and were put into a queue then directed to the unloading area the luggage was taken from us and that was the last we saw of it until it was outside our cabin.The booking in was a bit of a wait but then with over 3,000 passengers it takes time.The Cabin with balcony was a good size plenty of hanging space and the balcony had a couple of lounge type chairs and a foot rest with a small table included.We found the inside chair were a bit uncomfortable and mostly sat on the bed. The cabin was clean and serviced daily by a very hard working cabin boy. A brass band played us away from the dock side at Southampton which was a great touch.The food on the ship was first class we were in the Bay tree area my wife was having trouble in ordering from the menu as there were a lot of things made with onions which she does not like eating but myself enjoyed the meals but we decided to eat in the waterside as she had a better choice to pick from.I must say the entertainment was first class they have just updated the shows with a Company called the Headliners they were first class and the costumes were out of this world.They had a singer Victor Micheal who sang a lot of Opera which was sung very well ( all though I never understood a word) you had to marvel at his voice.The ship also had a couple of very interesting series of talks on Concord and Bletchley park ww 2 code breakers as well as Norman Hunter giving a after Dinner talk which I enjoyed.There were things going on all over the ship so you should never be bored.The trips were a bit expensive but well conducted, but a Bus Shuttle service was on hand to get you to the town centre which was free.I have a mobility scooter and they helped me on and off the ship and ran spacial buses to carry the scooter on.On the down side they were trying to sell you something most of the time which was a bit annoying I was not very happy with the charge of their WI FI at £30 for a 100 min which was a rip off I and others never bothered with it which was a pity.I had a stomach upset and dehydrated and spent a day in the sick bay which cost nearly £900 so make sure you got a good insurance policy.Over all it was a great experience on a great ship and we would go back tomorrow like a shot. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Ventura N110 7 days. The view from below Well we set off on Wednesday for our Good Friday departure, (we have a very slow car). Luckily we got to Reading in time to check in to the Crowne Plaza. Very nice location by the ... Read More
Ventura N110 7 days. The view from below Well we set off on Wednesday for our Good Friday departure, (we have a very slow car). Luckily we got to Reading in time to check in to the Crowne Plaza. Very nice location by the Thames, with a park by the river, to walk along. (well in my case ride) The weather was great and sun tan stuff was required. We had dinner in the hotel which was very quiet leading up to Easter. I think the normal clientele are of the business variety. The next day we set off into Reading town centre to look around the shops, a few things to buy. Very pleasant, with the sun again very hot. Coffee was taken. The vital ingredients for our in cabin G&T's were purchased in Sainsbugs. (I had found out about the non in cabin alcohol sales due to no port outside the EU). Dinner that evening was taken at an Indian Restaurant on the river bank near the hotel. Very good and having had a chat to the manager two drinks appeared at the end of the meal, an excellent gesture. We left just before 10 the next day after having a good breakfast. The run down was fine until we came to the back of the queue on the M3. This wasted a half an hour. We got to Southampton to realise we had not put the labels on the cases. So stop and put it right. Then on to dock gate 10, which we approached from the town end. ????? It was about 11.35 and we joined a queue of cars waiting for a space to unload. At that point we could see there were people still getting off the ship. At about 11.50 we moved off parked and got unloaded, cases, scooter, hats and medical equipment. None of the luggage had gone in the hole as we walked to the door. On to the entrance, over to the right sir, was the cry as we came through the door, I think not I said, we are gold (pompous or what). So to the left it was, with an empty queue and instructions to come forward. Smile for the photo and all the other formalities over, through the door to the right and the baggage check. As I do not go through the scanners I am frisked. It is then up the lift and into the ship. Gold sir, that will be deck 7 the Tamarind. What would you like to drink that will be a G&T then and a plate of sarnies. We looked at the time and it was 12.10 so 20 minutes from car stopping, to drink in hand, not bad. Very few get to the club and we are told that there are few gold members on board. 13.30 comes and the nice lady comes and informs us that our cabins are ready. Off we go up to deck 9(D) and find our cabin near the lift. Shock horror our cases are already there. Never had that before So unpack and out for a look around. Safety chat over and out on to deck 7 for sail away, no cheap champers!!!!! Is this another EU only port thing. Band good and loud but only 5 of them, a Jazz band. Back to the cabin to get ready for the off, we go out onto the balcony and who should we see above us ....Sharon. Do you know she pestered us all week for a drink.....no chance. We ran out by Wednesday as it was!! Off to dinner to meet our table companions, a very sedate and quiet table little conversation and banter. Well for 5 minutes anyway, after that it was a riot. We started laughing in six minutes and did not finish until 10.30 on the last night. There were 3 couples and a mother and daughter combo, certainly on of the best yet. At 10.30 I could feel the casino calling, it was a long time since Oceana in October. The cruise followed and we had a fantastic time. Our table continued in the same vein with a week of laughing and good banter. Of course I missed all the shows in the theatre and the show lounges as the casino kept calling me. The casino was as busy as I have ever seen on any ship, with 5/6 tables in constant use and many people using the 'bandits'. Quite a community builds up and the banter improves as the week progresses. Wins are greeted by cheers from all as your luck ebbs and flows. Over the week I was only just down, with plenty money for our tips. With regard to the ship it was much as we had remembered it from January 09. The food was excellent and the staff were equally as good. Our wait staff were very efficient and friendly. One of them thought our table must have known each other before we came on board and was quite surprised when we said we had just met. We had a Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabin which the reception called a mini-suite. It was excellent for my scooter as I could drive it up to the balcony end of the cabin and park it out of the way. It was very comfortable with plenty of storage. Our cabin steward Jackson was excellent, with towel animals every night on our bed. The ice and lemon were always there and the cabin was spotless. The one difference we noted was in the Ramblas bar. On our first cruise on Ventura, the bar seemed cold and uninviting, this time there was a totally different atmosphere. We had some tapas at lunch time, which was very good and the bar was warm & very inviting. In the evening it was a great place for pre dinner drinks with a very good guitarist playing a range of tunes from classical to pop. Not a clue what they did to make the change apart from turning off the air conditioning. The bar staff were excellent always cheerful and attentive. The Ports (for me and my scooter) La Coruna Off at about 10.30,a warm and sunny day. Saw a lot more of the town than I have before with having the scooter. After having a coffee we walked along the promenade and into the town again, making our way to the main square. We found a bar selling tapas and settled down for a spell of people watching. The tapas was very good and we had ordered far too much, so we needed a couple of beers to wash it down. The ship is only 5 minutes from this square so we returned at about 3.00 and went directly to Costa. Bilbao Here there was a problem, because of the tide I could not get off the ship as it was going to be difficult to get back on. Although disappointed I spent a very relaxing day on board ship and my wife had a good day mainly going to the Guggenheim, which she loved. La Rochelle Excellent port, helped by the fabulous weather. We wandered around the old port and marina and then moved into the town with its narrow pedestrianised streets and excellent small shops. We stopped on a few occasions for coffee, beer and then food. The food was Croque Madame and omelette overlooking the old harbour. The sun was high and hot, wonderful. We then wandered over to the information centre to get the shuttle bus. It was about 15.00 and we feared a long queue. There was not at all. The bendy bus came in, leaned over and I scootered on ...... excellent. On the way back we had to stop and the bus was boarded and we had to show our passports. This was the first time ever for us on over 15 cruises. When we left there were over 15 security staff standing in a line waving us off. This was in contrast to the next port Brest when I only saw 2 security and they just waved at the buses as they passed. Brest We have been before so we did not go into the town. However we took the trip to Quimper (Kemper) and did our own thing. A delightful small old town to wander around with an excellent cathedral which had the most wonderful stained glass windows. In the centre there was a small market Les Halles which was very pleasant, however we did notice the high prices especially for vegetables. Just by the market was a bread shop so we got some cheese and then bought a warm baguette, straight out of the oven. We found a seat in the sun and had a simple lunch. What bread!!!! In all we had a wonderful cruise with an excellent table, good banter at the tables in the casino, an excellent pre-dinner location in Ramblas and good ports. We thoroughly enjoyed Ventura. It is an excellent ship and well worth another cruise. That will be next April then. On to Azura in September. Dai Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Note:- Embarkation was at Southampton, which is not London!!! The cruise was to northern Spain and Western France (La Coruña, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Brest). This was our 9th cruise but only the second time on P&O and the first ... Read More
Note:- Embarkation was at Southampton, which is not London!!! The cruise was to northern Spain and Western France (La Coruña, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Brest). This was our 9th cruise but only the second time on P&O and the first time on Ventura.We arrived at Southampton at our allotted time of 2pm, and waited 55 minutes to drop off the car. A further queue of 30 minutes to check in and 15 minutes to get through security meant we didn't get to our cabin until 3:45. This was almost as bad as flying! However, our luggage arrived at the cabin before we did, and things started to look up.Although it doesn't have a cinema or a forward observation lounge, Ventura is a lovely ship. It has a narrow promenade deck (so narrow in places that two people cannot pass in comfort), and in calm weather the promenade continues up a flight of stairs to a wide sheltered deck that goes all the way to the bow. It has very good children's facilities, and absorbs the little darlings well. I preferred Ventura to Queen Victoria! I loved the atrium and the way each bar and public room has its own distinctive style. In fact the whole ship is stylish and elegant. It's a pity the same cannot be said of some of the passengers! The dress code (in the public rooms) was not enforced and was ignored by a sizeable minority. On the first formal night, I saw men wearing football shirts and jeans, one man was wearing a baseball cap, and some young women in ankle boots and skirts that barely covered their backsides looked as if they were dressed for walking round Kings Cross rather than a 4 star cruise ship. This apparel wouldn't even make the grade for smart casual, never mind formal. There were also a large minority of traditionalists who wore jacket and tie on the smart casual nights. I think P&O's experiment of trying to cater for the Ocean Village crowd on Ventura and Oceana is a failure, is devaluing the brand, and damaging the reputation that they have built up over 175 years. They really should reinstate the Ocean Village brand, transfer these ships to it, and maintain the published standards on the true P&O ships. There is clearly a market for informal cruising, that at the moment is only met to a limited extent by NCL.The ship has an irritating vibration which shakes you from side to side about twice a second when you are lying in bed. It didn't stop me falling asleep, but it did wake me up in the wee small hours every day. I can only assume it is the natural resonance of the ship itself rather than an engine vibration, as we were midships on deck 10.The drinks were very reasonably priced, and it was nice to be able to get a good choice of wines by the glass. We enjoyed the wide choice of restaurants, and the food and service in East was superb. I loved the cabin and the large balcony. I like the ability to review our account on the TV. The 5% discount on the final bill (as Portunus club members) was appreciated, as were the free shuttle buses.I started by writing about the long wait to check-in. Getting off at the end was a doddle. We opted for "self help" disembarkation. After a good breakfast in the Waterside buffet, we walked off the ship with our luggage just before 08:30, and were in the car and on the way home 10 minutes later.Some of the staff on Ventura are very good, a handful are excellent, a lot are poor. If I saw a bargain basement price and a good itinerary I might cruise on Ventura again, but it's not what I had hoped for from P&O. The standards are not consistent, and you could have a good or bad cruise on this ship - it's all a matter of luck and which staff you interact with. P&O has slipped well down the list of lines we are likely to use again, which is a pity as I enjoyed my earlier cruise on Aurora very much, and she remains my favourite cruise ship. DININGThe quality of the food and its service varied from poor to excellent depending on the venue.We had asked for either a table for two or freedom dining, but were allocated a table for 10. We had planned to eat several times in the "select dining" venues, so we never actually went to our allocated table.We ate twice in the White Room (on the two formal nights). The food was good basic Italian, but not fine dining and with a £25 cover charge (they increase the charge from £20 to £25 on short cruises) it was not good value for money. The crab linguine starter was nice, but uses quite cheap ingredients. The prawn starter was excellent. The rack of lamb was superb. The lobster spaghetti was OK - the small half lobster that topped the spaghetti was good, but the lobster meat in the spaghetti was tough and the spaghetti was slightly overcooked. The tiramisu, in my opinion, was not as good as Marks & Spencer - very creamy but without much flavour. The service was poor. I kept having to ask for more water, and our wine glasses were not topped up often enough (mine ran dry at one point). The second night we ate there, the aperitif glasses were not cleared until the end of the meal.We ate three times in East. The food and service were both superb. The waiting staff in East are all female and Filipino. Our waitress made a point of addressing us both by name (this was the only place on the ship that this happened). The fillet steak was amazing, and of a different quality to the ones they serve in the Beach House for their Surf & Turf. It was a world apart from anywhere else on the ship. The £20 cover charge was worth it, and the £15 cover charge on the longer cruises would be good value for money.We had planned to eat in Ramblas one evening (or "Ramblers" as the CD insisted on calling it!), but we were told we would have to wait half an hour for a table. We went to wait in the bar area, and were then asked if we would eat there instead. We didn't want to do that, so went up to the Beach House, where again we were told there would be a wait of at least half an hour. By this time it was 8:45, so we went down to Cinnamon, the freedom dining restaurant, and threw ourselves on the mercy of the Maitre d', who allowed us to eat there for one night only. The food and service in Cinnamon were both good, and there were plenty of spare seats. Given that many people don't want to dress for dinner (even to a "smart casual" standard) and that the Beach House, Waterside buffet, and Ramblas were all full, I think Ventura has the capacity to make freedom dining in the main restaurants more accessible . There was a big waiting list for Freedom Dining and with three restaurants I think P&O should work harder to balance supply and demand, and keep their customers happy.We had breakfast three times in our cabin. Although the room service menu is limited, and some quite basic items have to be paid for, the continental breakfast was substantial, and when ordered the day before through the TV turned up on time. However, on our second sea day we intended going to the MDR but overslept and woke up at 9:30. We turned the TV on, and there was still an option to order continental breakfast for 09:30 to 10:00 (and later times), which we did. At 10:15, I called room service to make sure they had the order. They looked for it, found it, and said they would send it. Breakfast came at around 10:55, and the steward who delivered it said we should have ordered it the day before (so why still have it as an option on the morning? Bad organisation, bad service!) We also used room service once for a late lunch on a port day. We had pizza which was free, very good, and piping hot, but it took more than half an hour to arrive.We went to the buffet a couple of times at tea time. The choice was very limited (compared to Celebrity and Princess), and the service area was extremely small and cramped. The buffet closed between 5pm and 6pm. We were not impressed by this. We have dinner late, and if we have missed lunch we often like a light snack at this time.We had lunch in the main dining room three times, but on the first two occasions had trouble getting a table for two. We were told to come back after 10 minutes, and then come back again after half an hour. We did eventually get a table for two, but only after a long wait. We have never had this problem on any of our previous cruises. Normally, if a table for two is not immediately available, the staff will give you exclusive use of a table for four. I think the problem on Ventura is that it is a big ship with three dining rooms, but they only open one of them for lunch. Service at lunch-time in the MDR was usually (2 out of 3 visits) poor, although on one occasion it was very good. We had breakfast three times in the "Bay Tree". This is at the back of the ship, only accessible via the aft staircase and lifts, and was quiet at breakfast-time. The ship serves a good English breakfast, but the coffee and orange juice were both dreadful (the apple juice is drinkable). They don't do special requests. For example, we asked if we could have French Toast, but were told "no". A couple at the next table asked if they could have a pot of tea (instead of having to wait for the waiter to come round and pour), again, they were told "we don't do that".We like good strong coffee, so went to the Costa coffee shop for take away coffees a few times. You have to pay for the coffees, but they serve nice cakes if you buy coffee. The first time we ordered coffee to go, we also asked for some donuts and biscuits and got them without a problem. The second time we asked for this, we were told it's not possible to take food away from the coffee shop. "It's not company policy". "It's against health and safety!" It was hard to get good coffee, even from Costa. I asked the waitress for strong black coffee, and told her how I wanted it made - double espresso, and let the water run through until the cup is half full. The first time I did this, when I got up to the room I found they had filled the cups and the coffee was weak and tasteless. After this, I made a point of checking the coffee before I would sign for it. On the third day of the cruise, we stopped by for coffee "to go" on the way back on board, specified how we wanted it, and the barista filled the cup about two thirds full. I said to him, "I asked for it half full", and his response was to pour some of the coffee away so the cup was half full! I explained that I had asked for strong black coffee, and throwing some away did not give me that. The waitress intervened and told the barista to put an extra shot in each cup. This would have solved the problem, but the barista added the extra shots and practically threw the cups at us, saying something in his own language while he did so. We went to reception to ask to see the Bars Manager, but were told he was not available. Reception noted our complaint, and said they would pass it on. They also said food could not be taken away from the coffee shop for health and safety reasons. They said if we wanted strong coffee and cake in our cabin, we would have to order the cake from room service, and then buy the coffee from Costa. They also said it is not permitted to take food from the buffet to the cabin! That's a first, and I can't find that written down anywhere! This happened at about 16:00, and the Bars Manager did leave a message on our phone early afternoon the next day, but we did not follow it up with him.ENTERTAINMENTClassical Pianist Simon Callaghan gave an excellent concert on the first sea day. Unfortunately, the Tamarind Club is not a suitable venue. It has a Steinway piano, but it's amplified over a poor sound system. If you sit more than a third of the way back, you hear the terrible amplified sound which is a distortion of the beautiful Steinway. If you sit close to the front, it sounds good. Simon did three concerts, but the second two clashed with sailaways, so I only went to the first one.Comedian Dave Kristian was not funny.Tenor Victor Michael has a good voice, but sadly plays to the chavs - encouraging the audience to join in with "just one cornetto" while he sang O Sole MioSTATEROOMI was very impressed with our balcony cabin on C deck (deck 10). I loved the cabin design. The walk-in wardrobe was large and practical, our clothes were easily accessible and it was nice to have space to store the cases without having to put them under the bed. There was plenty of storage space, and the bathroom was adequate. The balcony was very large - about twice as deep as those on the decks above, half in the shade and half open and overlooked. The semi reclining chairs and footstool were good. I would choose a deck 10 cabin if I ever go on one of the "grand" class of ships again. The cabin was nicely decorated. There was no sofa, but two chairs and a small table gave us enough space to have breakfast. A P&O bonus is the kettle and mugs with tea and coffee, and biscuits replenished daily. The TV was well positioned and could be viewed well from the bed. The interactive channels allowed you to order room service and check your bill. Sky news was available most of the time. A selection of films and classic TV programmes were available. The cabin appeared superficially clean, although there was a sequin on the floor, so the carpet had not been vacuumed thoroughly. The superficial cleaning continued during the cruise. Towels were replaced twice daily and the beds were made, but the cabin steward did not wipe down the bathroom properly. Nothing was moved, and where I had left my wet wooden shaving bowl next to the sink, it left a stain the next day as it was still wet. We didn't use the kettle, but it contained water when we arrived and was never emptied. The ice bucket was never filled. There were some sweets on a small tray, the tray was removed two days before the end of the cruise (presumably, people steal them). The White Company toiletries were nice. SERVICEOn TV one day, there was a video of Carol Marlow talking about the "CRUISE" - customer care - programme, and the "key values" instilled in the staff, which included "Go the extra mile" and "Make it happen". Unfortunately, in our experience, "Make it happen" should be replaced with "we don't do that".Myra, a waitress in East, was excellent and friendly. All the staff in East gave a level of service that was unequalled anywhere else on the ship. In fact, leaving East at the end of the meal and returning to Ventura was a bit of a culture shock!! At the other end of the scale, the barista in the Costa coffee shop was rude. The security staff were unsmiling and unwelcoming, and some never spoke, despite my best efforts to get some sort of reaction by saying "good morning", "thank you", and smiling at them. Some of them didn't even look at the passengers. I'm sure I could have walked off using someone else's cruise card and they would not have noticed. Overall, you don't get the friendly excellent service on Ventura that you take for granted on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was our third trip with P&O, our second on Ventura, previously Xmas 2010 which followed Azura in May 2010. I posted a full review of both trips on here for those interested. Ventura met our expectations again, based on our ... Read More
This was our third trip with P&O, our second on Ventura, previously Xmas 2010 which followed Azura in May 2010. I posted a full review of both trips on here for those interested. Ventura met our expectations again, based on our previous trip 4 months previous. We travelled as a party of 4 in 2 cabins: - 3 adults in the 40-50 age group and our Mum in her late 70s who is a part time wheelchair user. Embarkation: We arrived at 11.45, car swiftly taken off our hands by CPS and we were on board within 30 minutes having lunch in the buffet. Cabin: A standard balcony cabin on C deck. These have the larger balconies which are twice the depth of those featured by standard balcony cabins on other decks. We didn't mind the fact that half the balcony is visible to those above as you still have the overhang of the deck above which shades the rear half from view if some privacy is required. We would definitely choose a C deck cabin again if available. The interior of the cabin was identical to that on Azura the previous year (we had a superior deluxe cabin on D deck on our Xmas Ventura trip but didn't feel the price difference on this trip justified it). The inside of our cabin was kept very clean by our invisible cabin steward who we saw only once when she introduced herself. Not an issue for us but I know some prefer a more personable cabin steward. We did note the balcony wasn't clean on boarding and wasn't cleaned at all during the trip, either the interior part or the outside glass and could have done with a good deep clean. On our Xmas cruise they advised on some mornings which sections of the balconies would be cleaned each day but there didn't seem to be any balcony cleaning at all on this cruise. However we were so pleased with the size of the balcony that we forgave this. Food: We ate in the buffet for breakfast each day. Again a good choice which suited all our preferences including Quorn bacon and Quorn sausages to order for our Veggie member. Can't really fault the breakfasts at all apart from saying that some things could have been warmer on occasion. Lunch was also mainly in the buffet with most of us choosing from the large salad range. A couple of us had burgers or pizzas from the places by the pool which were always reliable and freshly cooked. Most cruises, and Ventura too, receive criticism for having too little space to sit in the buffet. We always found a space but maybe not in the section we would prefer. I've said it before that the people who complain about not being able to find a seat seem to be the same ones who hug their third cup of tea after finishing their meal for an eternity instead of making way for others or they are the couples who sit at a table for 8 instead of walking a few yards further and sitting at a smaller table. We chose Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon Restaurant again and ate there on 12 of the 14 nights. We thought the MDR food on Ventura at Xmas was very good and better than on Azura and we thought that on this trip it had notched up even further. A really good choice of selections on the menu and a good separate Vegetarian menu to pre-select for the following night. Out of the 12 nights we were seated immediately on a table for four on 10 of them with a buzzer being given on the other 2 nights with waits of 5 mins and 15 mins which was pretty good. This allowed us to plan to dine around our choice of entertainment. Having now experienced freedom dining 3 times on P&O I have to say the flexibility means we would always choose this option. However, I do believe there is a trade off in terms of the service. This can be very variable with some waiters looking quite fed up and quite a difference some nights in terms of the speed of the meal being delivered: anything from 1 hour to 2 ½ hours dependant on the waiter so it was hard to predict. On one night we sat with our empty soup bowls on the table for 25 minutes before I had to find the head waiter to get things moving again as our waiters seemed to have vanished. I would describe the service as functional rather than great. I do think that in Club Dining the waiter is encouraged to go the extra mile in order to secure their tips and maybe achieve more than the recommended tip from a passenger with whom they have built up a relationship. We hear about the little personal touches Club Dining waiters offer and how they get to know your preferences. On freedom dining a set tip is assured (unless you go to Reception to adjust it) so they simply don't have the same incentive to offer more than a functional level of service. After all why should one waiter offer a higher level of service when his less enthusiastic colleague will receive the same share of the tips? I'm not sure what the answer is here apart from better management of the waiters. On RCI's equivalent of freedom dining the waiters were superb in every respect, always smiling and incredibly helpful and personable. As I said we would still choose freedom dining over Club dining to allow us more flexibility but I do feel that the service could be better overall. We dined in the Beachcomber Diner one night which was a nice change and offered a good choice of freshly cooked food and was very busy. We also ate in the White Room to celebrate a birthday. Overall we were a bit disappointed with MPWs eatery. The service was ok but not as good as on our previous visit or as good as in Seventeen on Azura and it was a shame the menu was the same as it was 4 months previous. My Mother was not too pleased upon ordering a dessert to be told by the waiter 'are you sure as there are a lot of calories in that'! Maybe something got lost in translation but it's not what a woman wants to hear. Also Veggies note that small appetisers are served but they don't have any for veggies and the desserts are not marked as vegetarian and this took quite a bit of persistence to get accurate answers about whether they were vegetarian or not. I think as we all thought the food in the MDR was so good when we compared it with our evening in the White Room this led us to decide we would not visit it again. Nice to try but we were not overwhelmed. We didnt eat in the East restaurant as the Veggie options were not great. Entertainment: This cruise had the best entertainment of our 3 P&O cruises. Daytime activities were again varied and offered a packed programme however the main difference was the Headliners Shows. Previously we had become tired of the 'West End Show' description given to the Headliners on Azura and our previous Ventura cruise as we felt they never quite hit the spot and could be a bit cringeworthy. Many disagreed but mainly those of a certain age. However we were told that we were the first to experience 3 of the new shows on this cruise and that the headliners were a new group of professionals that had been put together. We were handed a program detailing the experience of the performers and it was clear this was no amateur group. The result was amazing: Superb voices, great dancing, professional sets and costumes and excellent productions. Their shows became increasingly more popular and the 8.30 performance required people to start queuing up to an hour or so early to ensure a seat. We only went to the 7pm shows and always found a seat with ease. If P&O are going to roll this new style out across the fleet then they are going to start gaining a very good reputation for quality shows. They put on a total of 6 shows. We had seen one before, Destination Dance, on Azura last year and all four of us didn't like it at all. It felt a bit like seeing an Amateur Dramatic production, however the same show performed by these guys was amazing. Such good dancers and singers and the sound was superb. We did find it strange that Hughie Taylor the Cruise Director was quite invisible. He only appeared for some Arena shows and didn't introduce the Captains Welcome Speech at the time we attended. At the Great British Sailaway his job entailed handing flags out rather than being part of the main entertainment team which was a little strange. I think he is possibly suited more to a smaller ship without the cross section of ages on Ventura. Most of the other acts we had experienced previously. I'm not sure how often they rotate their acts but I would be pretty miffed if we booked another cruise with P&O in the next year or so and came across the same group of singers and comedians yet again. However I would have to say we could watch Jimmy Love as Elton John any day. We have to mention Laura from the Entertainment team who had us in stiches on numerous occasions with her accent (when calling number 66 during bingo it became 'sexty sex' for example). Her quizzes were equally funny. Bars: We really like the choice of bars on Ventura each one offering a different ambience and you could always find somewhere to sit somewhere onboard. Drinks prices remain very reasonable although we did note draught lager and some cocktails have increased in prices since Dec 2010. Not by a lot but an increase nonetheless. Bar service is generally superb. Ports of Call: I'm not going to go into a description of each port as this can be quite subjective and is covered in the ports of call section on this site. However I want to mention a new one to us: Valencia. Even the Captain had not been here before. We decided that we had seen enough history on our cruise and planned a trip to the Oceanographic Aquarium. This is part of a recent development of the old riverbed (La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias ) and the modern architecture is amazing. We took a taxi from the ship to the Aquarium and as it didn't open for an hour we walked around the area and were stunned by the buildings. It looks like something from a Sci-Fi film. The Aquarium was great too (the biggest in Europe) and we spent 3 hours in total exploring including watching the Dolphin Shop in the Amphitheatre before taking a taxi back. We worked out that in the end we only saved about £8 each off the cost of the ships' trip to the Aquarium so some may prefer to plump for this especially if you are only splitting the taxi fare a couple of ways. The Aquarium is amazingly disabled friendly with lifts everywhere down to the underwater tanks and tunnels. There are a few niggles in this review however this is really us being nit-picky. We still really like Ventura and still prefer it over Azura. We prefer the mix of passengers. Ventura is constantly being knocked as 'Butlins at Sea' which is very unfair and I feel this comes from passengers who don't really want to mix with children or younger people and perhaps are of a certain age and more suited to one of P&Os more traditional or adult only ships. On both Ventura cruises we have been on the age range has been wide although as this was a term time holiday it still must have averaged in the mid-50s. Because of this wider mix of ages we feel Ventura has a more relaxed feel whereas we found Azura to be a little snobby at times. We like dressing up for dinner with the best of them however we also want to be able to relax and enjoy our holiday as well and there were a nice bunch of people on this cruise with fewer of the 'old moaners' we encountered on Azura (sorry about the choice of description but you may know what I mean). We were told by the Captain that this cruise had over 1200 people new to cruising onboard which seemed a very high figure so P&O must be doing well attracting this number of new cruisers. Ventura does most things very well. It doesn't excel at many but neither does it disappoint much too and for us she continues to be our choice for a reliable mass market cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We are just back from the Ventura's three night short cruise and have been more then pleased after reading some of the negative reviews here beforehand.Our inside aft cabin (B721) was nicely decorated and more roomy than expected. We ... Read More
We are just back from the Ventura's three night short cruise and have been more then pleased after reading some of the negative reviews here beforehand.Our inside aft cabin (B721) was nicely decorated and more roomy than expected. We were woken by the engines as the ship was docking, but soon went back off to sleep. If you are a very light sleeper you may want to consider another location on the ship. The food was fantastic, not one complaint. The buffet was fresh and plentiful, we didn't have to que once. Dinner in the main dining room was outstanding, from the food to the service, to the surroundings, just perfect. We also ate one evening in the Beach House and had another very enjoyable meal. The menu in there doesn't change, we both had Buffalo wings to start and ribs for main, with a side of Bruchetta. Although it's not fine dining its was all cooked and presented beautifully, we had a window table overlooking the ocean watching the sun set - what more could you ask for?Service throughout the ship was second to none, we didn't go to the bar for our own drinks once. There are plenty of bar waiters to bring your drinks to the table and they keep an eye on your drinks for refills.Everything was well organised apart from disembarking. Luckily we were one of the first off but can imagine the chaos that we left behind. People were queuing up the stairwells and the whole atrium area was packed.Brugge was lovely and very easy to get to on the train, there is no need to pay the £28pp excursion fee. Le Havre was like a ghost town because it was a Sunday and everything was shut.On formal night it seemed everyone made the effort, we didn't see anyone under dressed. Many people were dressing in suits and smart dresses for the smart casual night too.There were a couple of hen parties, but they certainly didn't make a nuisance of themselves. All in all a good trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
After unpacking we requested iced water, only to be told it was no longer served in the cabin. How strange and penny pinching.The bad points first. In the Bay Tree restaurant, portions definitely cut down in size. Cheese board pathetic. ... Read More
After unpacking we requested iced water, only to be told it was no longer served in the cabin. How strange and penny pinching.The bad points first. In the Bay Tree restaurant, portions definitely cut down in size. Cheese board pathetic. virtually no selection, no celery or grapes and given bits not pieces, most embarrassing.We later found out that Stilton was available but it was kept a secret If you didn't fancy the main course, you could not have an alternative. no steaks any more. Ice cream, three tiny little scoops served in a very small dish.Breakfast at Waterside, food generally fine, but annoyingly on numerous occasions there would be no cups, no glasses, no spoons, when complaining no one seemed particularly interested.Came on this boat last year, and entertainment, whilst still decent, not as good.We only booked a week before and found it exceptional value, but would not have been happy had we paid the regular price.Obviously P&O are trying to keep costs down whilst struggling with inflation, unfortunately it is noticeable how standards have fallen.WE still had a thoroughly enjoyable cruise, and would sail on Ventura again providing the price was attractive. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
P&O Ventura 13th May 2011 - 7 nights Embarkation Was very well organised. We arrived about 10.30 am as we stayed overnight nearby so not many people around at all. The car park people were just there and took our luggage and ... Read More
P&O Ventura 13th May 2011 - 7 nights Embarkation Was very well organised. We arrived about 10.30 am as we stayed overnight nearby so not many people around at all. The car park people were just there and took our luggage and car. (Take off your house key as they only want the car key and they also park it for you). We got given a card with a number on inside the terminal and sat inside a giant hall waiting area. Refreshments available but looked like they were charging. It was about 11.45 or just after when check-in opened and we were called according to number. We were still the 2nd to be called even though we arrived very early. Even so, we were on the ship by 12.00 and went up to the Waterside - the self service restaurant for lunch. General The ship was very nice overall. The only thing that spoilt walking around too much was the spa staff pouncing at every opportunity to sell the treatments. When one asked for about the 10th time why don't you get your hair done, I couldn't resist asking what was wrong with my hair now. Well, that stopped that particular lady from approaching me in future! Most other guests were also fed up of the overkill on the selling. Same sort of shops and sales as RC have. Be careful to avoid lots of overpriced 'tat'. Entertainment was ok but nothing special. Food and drinks There were 2 small complimentary bottles of mineral water in the fridge inside the cabin. We ordered the P&O water package from the cabin steward. 6 x 1.5litre bottles of their own brand mineral water for £9.00. Not the best taste but we had no other option. The free water in the restaurants was ok but not great. They do not have free lemonade like Royal Caribbean so I took some orange squash on in my hand luggage to make it taste better. At least they allow you to take drinks on board unlike RC. Could not find any free ice cream other than in the main dining room so not happy. The Waterside and the Beach House were all being used as 1 really. However, at night one side of The Beach House at the back was turned into a very nice totally free waiter service restaurant The chocolate cake is absolutely huge and very nice indeed you must try it! The food in general in the Waterside was ok, not great and they did not have a carvery at lunchtime much which was disappointing. The cakes were not brilliant either, except on the chocolate themed afternoon tea. Each night in the self service restaurant was a different theme but you could always find something to eat whatever your tastes. We tried the late night snacks one evening about 9pm, ok but noticed lots of little flies on some of the food so avoided. You can sanitize your hands as many times as you like, but is it any good when flies are eating the food first? The staff were not very friendly and tended to 'lurk' up the corner and not clear any plates until people left. They very rarely spoke either. The cabin steward spoke a little. We didn't eat in the main dining room as I found it too crowded. I also prefer the self service as I can see the food first! We tried the room service one lunch time. We just had baguettes which were lovely with proper crisps which we couldn't find anywhere else on board. Cabin We got in our cabins at about 1.40pm. We had an inside cabin and also a bacony on the opposite side so not far to walk to each other. We went looking for our cabin slightly earlier and 1 steward asked which cabin number we were. I think he thought he was our steward. When he realised it was not his cabin, he was quite rude and said they are not open yet. He continued to be rather annoying the rest of the cruise and seemed to deliberately block the corridor if he saw us. Deck 10 was ok. The balcony was larger than the rest but it was partially overlooked by above if you stand right on the end. However, deck 9 and below are badly overlooked! Balconies have full screens. We were lucky that nobody was smoking anywhere near us on their balcony. (General point - port side of the ship is no smoking, starboard side is smoking so be aware if it is warm enough for you to sit on deck). Lots of nice toiletries supplied. The shampoo and conditioner are ok, unlike some other ships. Also had shower gel and body lotion. The toilet rolls were ok. They had tiny bars of soap and were very reluctant to let me have another one. In fact when mine had fallen into several pieces the steward just squashed it all back together into one big lump and placed it back on the sink! When I went after him he said he had to ask his supervisor first if I could have another bar. I used my own soap for the shower so I don't think 2 tiny bars of their soap is excessive in a week! There were tea and coffee making facilities inside the cabin unlike many other cruise liners, along with 2 packs of biscuits which were replenished twice daily. About 3 different ones, all very nice. Nice big open wardrobe with plenty of space. The only thing that irritated me about the cabin was the lights on things at night. The tv omitted a red light, the light under the door I blocked out with a pillow and there was also some strange light near the middle of the bed - never did work out what it was for but found rather annoying. Lifeboat drill was interesting. You have to take the lifejacket which is in the cabin and watch the staff demonstrate how to put it on and then try it yourself. People ignored the crew when leaving and the tags were trailing on the floor for everyone to trip over. RC used to be the same but now you do not take the lifejacket, just yourself! Bergen Docks are on the left side of boat as it looks forward (sorry I get confused with Aft and Starboard). We took the free shuttle coach which takes 5-10 minutes to the town and drops you at the lake - very pretty. We then walked (follow those who know where they are going) to the Funicular Railway which took about 10 minutes and was 70 krona (approx £8 return). In hindsight we would have only paid one way and walked down as it looked a fabulous walk and lots of locals were walking up as well as down. Free loos at the top but only use if desparate - they had not been cleaned from the day before when we went - not pleasant! On route to the Railway are the fish market and general souvenir market. Lots of oldy worldy shop fronts along the harbour. There was also a Hop on, hop off bus by the lake for £30 or 225 krona. Everything is expensive in Norway. Molde This was the port we were not supposed to go to but P&O cancelled the original destination. Not quite sure how they knew a good 6 weeks in advance the snow would not have melted at the other place! Seems from reading the reviews, they are too fond of changing the itinerary. Again, boat docks on the left hand side. Beautiful snow capped mountains as you approach port. Easy to walk from the ship to the town as just around the corner. However the walk to the 'Varden' viewpoint was very steep (1,335 feet above sea level)! I would suggest as the tourist office did, to take a taxi to the viewpoint and walk back down. The Tourist info office was hard to find, it's hidden away a little bit in the town. If you walk up slightly and to the right from the ship and past the row of shops, follow it round to the right, right again and right to the end then cross to the other side! We managed to find some free loos in the town hall which were not signed. At the top of the road before you turn right to the tourist office, walk into the building on the left which looks like an office block, set back from the road (think it was some very dark building with lots of glass) they were doing some renovating work at the time but was still open. You can also walk to the Romsdal museum but it was closed until June I believe. Olden: Docks to the left side again. Olden tourist office is literally as you get off the boat. Postcards only 5 krona but over road they are nearly double the price. The tourist office also sells tickets for a small shuttle bus to the glacier for only £30 or 250 krona I think. (still £20 cheaper than P&O's excursion) at £50. There is also a Trolley train that picks up at the boat/tourist office for 150krona - not sure where exactly that went. We were going to take P&O's excursion to the Briksdal Glacier at £50 each but decided to take their Oldevatnet Lake Cruise excursion instead as it mentioned 3 glaciers (albeit the arms and tongues of the Glaciers) and was just a little bit more at £65. However, it was rubbish. We didn't see any glaciers or arms of glaciers, just waterfalls. There were not enough seats on the boat so we had to stand up for the hour trip. We were not impressed and thought it was all very unprofessional. Having written 3 letters I eventually got a refund in the form of an onboard credit on my December cruise I booked months ago so cannot cancel now. They are also reviewing the number of people permitted on the tour as a result. Tip - if you take the shuttle to the Glacier from the tourist info office instead of booking in advance with P&O you can see what the weather is doing first. It was raining all day when we went so the lake cruise was not really a good idea! Stavanger You get off the ship on the left but good views both sides of harbour. Easy to walk around. There is a walking tour excursion you can pay a lot of money for but not good if pouring with rain as it was! Also it is very easy to walk around on your own. If you walk about 10 minutes from the ship to the market square you get to the tourist office to the left hand side - there is a sign but not the easiest place to find, but look for the big green 'I' letter in the window. They have free maps and tell you what to go and see like the old town etc. The market was very quiet, probably due to the weather and only a few stalls turned up. They were selling knitted stuff and reindeer skins for around 9650 krona. The hats with the bits that cover your ears were about 120kr or £10. I got mine for £3 on a UK market! No decent fridge magnets or thimbles which I collect. We walked 5 minutes around the corner to the Petroleum Museum as it was not the weather to explore outside. 100 krona or 50 for seniors. Cafe and souvenir shop inside. Quite an interesting place - much better than I thought it would be. I think I heard someone say there is a tower you can go up in the town for some good views. I managed to get a nice picture of the cruise ship boat from other side of the harbour. Disembarkation Everyone is asked to vacate their room by 8am and sit in the restaurants or public lounges. I much prefer RC where you can now wait in your cabin. We found a nice area on deck by the pool but waited nearly 3 hours to be called to leave. We used the time to eat more breakfast cakes (not good I know) and to compare notes with other cruisers and the general feeling was very nice cruise but not as good as Alaska cruise, staff not as helpful or friendly as R C either. Overall nice cruise and beautiful scenery. However, I would recommend you do this cruise first and then the Alaska one as I couldn't help but compare this to the fabulous RC Alaska cruise which I have to say had a better wow factor. Although I am British and would love to be patriotic and say P&O are better, but I have to say the American RC ships are much better and crew are miles more friendly and helpful. I only booked this one as I used my Tesco Clubcard vouchers as part payment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I read many reviews before choosing Ventura and reading between the lines thought it would suit us as we are easy going people. Overall, we enjoyed Ventura alot, there is so much on offer there is something to please everyone.The cabin - ... Read More
I read many reviews before choosing Ventura and reading between the lines thought it would suit us as we are easy going people. Overall, we enjoyed Ventura alot, there is so much on offer there is something to please everyone.The cabin - was clean and comfortable and we were well looked after by our cabin steward. Plenty of cupboard space, no bath but shower was fine and always hot water and fresh towels. We were on C deck and the balcony was double depth, half covered and half exposed so it was perfect for us and we used it alot.Dining - Bay Tree dining room, the food and service here was excellent. We had a table for 2 but as has been said before these are close together and we ended up enjoying meeting our 'neighbours', so in a way we got the best of both worlds. Beach House - in the evening this turns in to an American Grill, which had been strongly recommended to us but this was the meal we enjoyed least, not that it was bad in anyway it just didn't measure up to the hype we'd heard.Waterside Buffet, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner here......all meals had plenty of selection, it was always fresh and good quality. Delicious puddings !! It was very popular so at times we had to search for a table and one person grab it, while the other went to get their food......but its no hardship, they were not going to run out of food !! Bearing in mind the number of meals that are served here, the staff do an outstanding job with keeping the food refreshed and the tables cleared and always with a smile.Room Service - we ordered breakfast on a couple of mornings which is just continental style. Delivered on the dot by a courteous steward.......you can't ask for more than that.We didn't try the speciality restaurants as we didn't really have time, there are so many places and themed nights to try......maybe we'd give them a go on a longer cruise.We did 2 shore excursions with P & O, both of which were great. We did 2 ports on our own. Out of them all, we got more out of the excursions than our DIY but that was to be expected I suppose. Entertainment - there is so much to keep you entertained. Its not really my cup of tea but we did take in a few shows and they weren't bad. The venues were always full so they were very popular and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. There are so many bars with different atmospheres that you can find somewhere to suit your mood almost every hour of the day !! We didn't see any louts or snobs, just friends and families having fun on holiday...... a great cross section of people made a super atmosphere so if that's what you're into then Ventura is for you.Overall, I can't think of anyone thing to criticise.......if I had to pick something the one thing that I thought was cringeworthy was the great british sailaway....as I said earlier organised entertainment isn't for me so didn't actually go to it but we could hear it on our balcony, not tasteful in my opinion but different strokes for different folks, live and let live. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was our third cruise on Ventura, so you already know that she's a ship we like. Ventura's strong points were the same as ever: the balcony cabins (especially the walk-in hanging area), the big C-deck balcony, the quiet of ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Ventura, so you already know that she's a ship we like. Ventura's strong points were the same as ever: the balcony cabins (especially the walk-in hanging area), the big C-deck balcony, the quiet of the stern Terrace, and the touches of formality. But this cruise was principally about the itinerary, which was as good as we'd hoped. The worst destination, Cephalonia, was just a bit boring; but Dubrovnik, the two days in Venice and a further day in Korcula were extraordinary. When a hot day in Corfu ends up seeming just so-so in comparison, you know you've been to some good places. Food in the MDR and buffets was good to very good, while the meals we took in East (three, including a lunch) and at the White Room were exceptional. Service, too, was good in the typical P&O rather under-stated style. We also had extremely good company at dinner. The only area that we were unhappy with was wine availability: the wine stores hadn't been replenished before leaving Southampton, and wines were becoming unavailable from quite early in the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The main thing we learnt from our previous 2 trips on Ventura, was that there would be so much to do that we'd rarely be together as a couple. With a long cruise and many sea days such as this, we went our separate ways so often, that ... Read More
The main thing we learnt from our previous 2 trips on Ventura, was that there would be so much to do that we'd rarely be together as a couple. With a long cruise and many sea days such as this, we went our separate ways so often, that we must have seemed like a couple of singles. There were a number of lectures each sea days, which is my scene; art classes which clashed with the discussion group; films which clashed with the talks on navigation; choir rehearsals which clashed with the Concorde secrets....oh, the joy of being on a ship which had too much entertainment rather than nothing except over-priced ones, or selling talks! The choir especially was fun...having 7 sea days meant lots of rehearsals, before our 2 performances in the atrium, in front of many passengers. We were also part of the bed-making comp, and OH had wins in bingo and poker! The main purpose of the trip was to spend 2 days in Venice....OH's favourite city, and he spent every minute of both days walking round the different areas, or riding the water buses. Cities are not for me, but it's always lovely to return to Venice, even if it's just for a drink next to a narrow canal. This time I wanted to spend a while in Vivaldi's church, which had his music pouring from a good sound system. The sail-in and out- accompanied by the best of Italian opera pouring over the sides of the ship- to some gondolier's joy- are one of the highlights, and moving moments. The other reasons for taking this cruise were to be with friends....when we happened to find them in such a massive ship; to try both of Marco Pierre White's menus, and to go swimming- achieved in several places such as Corfu, Korkula, Kephalonia....and, this time, even on the ship....we don't often have a "warm" cruise, so the pools were put to good use. It's great that a ship sailing from Southampton has a covered pool; we'd be loath to travel on other ships sailing from that port, where you'd have to wait until Portugal for a dip.... The food was excellent in all places- and we did try all, except, this time, East....even the burger bar provided a tasty menu. We ate in the MD only twice, and were impressed by the choice and service....and the lobster... The cabin was slightly smaller, and, being an inside, didn't work for me- I've only had an inside for 7 nights before, on Thomson and Louis cruises, and 17 nights inside was just too much- I was forever popping outside in the late evening. This wasn't helped by P&O's insistance that e-cigs could only be used in smokers' corners....the fact that you're not smoking, only using an inhaler, doesn't seem to have registered. It was my use of an e-cig which had made us choose an inside, but- rules is rules!!:( At least a number of crew came with questions about the inhaler.) For OH, the best of the cruise would have to be Venice, and snorkelling in the Med; for me, it was the tiny ferry ride I took from one side of Kephalonia to the other little town, and the excursion to the Cies Isles, off Vigo- I think that's really my number one excursion of the cruise. Everything- shows, activities, crew, food, ambience, were of high quality. There's no constant begging for money on board- you can play a card of Bingo for the 5 games for a fiver, and do a wine tasting for the same amount. The tipping suggestions are sensible, and the bar drinks are the same- around pub prices. I have added two of the best ports to the Port Review section; sadly, some of the better ones such as Kephalonia and Korkula aren't available on the pop-uplist, and I'm not enough of a techie to override them....All Greek Isles are fantastic, whilst anywhere in Croatia is the med as it once was.... A great holiday, and although I've many more cruise lines to try, this particular journey will take some beating! Jo. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was our second cruise with p&o. Both med cruises. Service was exceptional, food always lived up to expectations. Entertainmet varied and of good quality. Headliners presented broadway style musicals and deserved to be introduced ... Read More
This was our second cruise with p&o. Both med cruises. Service was exceptional, food always lived up to expectations. Entertainmet varied and of good quality. Headliners presented broadway style musicals and deserved to be introduced as such, spectacular and brilliantly choreographed, Beegee tribute was fun and entertaining. Martin Daniels and his comedy magic show amazed and amused us. George King and his gardening jokes, jept it clean and family orientated.However, the stars of the cruise, from our families point of view, were the tireless and patent childrens entertainers. Each age range have their own group of reef rangers with activities throughout the day. Crackers and Cheese entertained with funny and wow factor magic hows and fun houses. Most days they were in the buffet for childrens noddy tea with balloons and magic. They were genuinely interested in the children, who inevitably stopped them around the ship. Even when they were off duty and wondering around the port stops, they always took the time to chat and have some fun with the children. Genuinely nice couple as well!! Adults being entertained is one thing, but when children feel like they are safe and entertained then everyone can relax and enjoy them selves. Well done P&o and well done reef rangers and especially Crackers and Cheese!!! We will travel again with you Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I've read a lot of very negative reviews on this ship and so I can not say it was without trepidation that I set foot for the first time on Ventura. I am, you see , a snob. I like nice things, like to stay in fancy hotels, visit ... Read More
I've read a lot of very negative reviews on this ship and so I can not say it was without trepidation that I set foot for the first time on Ventura. I am, you see , a snob. I like nice things, like to stay in fancy hotels, visit exciting and exotic places and mix with 'my kind of people'. I was told that I would struggle to find these on Ventura and would struggle to find anything I wanted to do... Since I had a child 2 ½ years ago, we have had to curb our holiday habits (as roaming the wilds of Africa - all be it in 5 star luxury - and young children simply don't mix) and started cruising. This I admit was always a compromise solution but I have quite caught the bug and can see myself cruising for many years to come. Well enough about me, I'm sure you'd rather hear about the boat... sorry ship. Firstly, we turned up early, as usual, and embarkation was smooth (but we were about 3rd on the boat) and tottered off for lunch. This was the usual buffet fare which TBH is lacklustre and leaves a lot to be desired but does sustain life. (It didn't improve thru'out the events and really P&O this is something you should improve on...) We then headed to our cabin and met our steward, Eleanora who was the best we'd ever had. Our room was not set up how we wanted and this was quickly rectified with minimal hassle to ourselves. It was kept clean and tidy thru'out the holiday and Eleanora carried out her work with a smile on her face and an almost invisible presence. Food in the Main Dining room was variable, we were on 'freedom dining' which we prefer and only once did we wait for a table, although we were happy to share and met some interesting people that way. I'm not a great fan of the shows, and the one we saw was the usual affair, musical without the story kinda thing... just not my cup of tea but well executed if you like that sort of thing. The Ports were variable Vigo is just 'a leg stretch' - nothing special to see - maybe an excursion might be a good idea here. We missed Lanzarote as the weather was bad so an extra night at Gran Canaria was scheduled instead. Gran Canaria and Tenerife were equally OK but a bit bland... But Tenerife got the weather which really is necessary in the Canaries. Maderia is lovely and well worth a visit. We don't do excursions as a general rule as we're not keen on coach trips and feel that they don't offer value for money but we did take the cable cars in Maderia which was well worth the 15 euro return trip. The other passengers were mostly a great bunch - we felt lucky - although we did hear a few whinges about the number of children on board. Piece of advice - if you don't want a cruise with lots of kids, don't choose a trip to the Canaries (or the Med) out of Southampton on a 'family friendly' ship... And there were a few tattoos about - if that's something that worries you... The real pluses of this trip though were the Entertainment staff who were all so positive and fun, the Cruise Director - who followed through when my son demanded 'The Wheels on the Bus' at Sailaway... And.. The Kid's Clubs. With the notable exception of 'Magic Matt' who I believe was booked for 'one cruise only' and let's hope that was the case. The kid's crew or to give them their correct title, 'Reef Rangers' were truly magnificent. How they do what they do, day in day out, with such enthusiasm baffles belief. I would truly like to know what Mark Price is on and where I can get a wagon load of it... Mark and his team made my son's holiday and kept me entertained for much of it... I used to be a 'floating boater' and would sail with any line that offered the right itinerary but the boys and girls at The Reef have made me a devoted follower -P&O fashion... Please, unless you hate children, or want to spend your whole holiday reading a book, don't write off Ventura, and if you have kids, then I don't think there is a better choice. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was our first cruise with P & O. I wasn't impressed. Firstly, We booked the cruise to visit the port of Flam which was cancelled only 3 weeks pre cruise so I wasn't at all happy. That was the whole reason why we booked ... Read More
This was our first cruise with P & O. I wasn't impressed. Firstly, We booked the cruise to visit the port of Flam which was cancelled only 3 weeks pre cruise so I wasn't at all happy. That was the whole reason why we booked so we could go on the railway. P&O informed me that there were too many ships in that port that day so they had to arrange an alternative. On walking on board we barely had one foot in the atrium and we were bombarded with staff trying to sell the spa and various other goods. i thought give us a chance to get settled. I was expecting the ship to have more of a wow factor - after cruising with RCI this was a disappointment. RCI Navigator was so much more opulent and being that was our first cruise we were amazed at the decor and the layout of the ship, not only that, the staff were HAPPY and friendly and we felt they made the effort to make our holiday enjoyable. I suppose different cruise companies do different things but I missed the Mahdi Grat and food festival themes nights that navigator put on - there was nothing like that on Ventura - nothing on our last night. We did get a souvenir from the waiters - a folder of the weeks menus and we also received a cruise log which I thought was lovely, but it would have been nice to have something of a farewell show - navigators was brilliant. I personally thought that Ventura was like an enormous ferry, it was lack lustre,sedate and had no atmosphere. I didn't like the layout of the ship either but that maybe just a personal view. Although the staff were pleasant, they wasn't very happy and warming, I found this quite off putting as they were so happy on the Navigator. The entertainment wasn't that great except for Clem Curtis from the Foundations, he was excellent and really got the passengers up on their feet and enjoying themselves, as for the the tribute Elton john and lulu I can only hope that the real stars don't ever get to see them!!! I was looking forward to the 60/70's disco until We were ordered by the host to jump up and down in the air when we heard a particular record and the do kangaroo impressions on the dance floor when we heard Ralph Harris record!!! I'm game for a laugh but really-I was expecting a disco where the norm is to dance on the dance floor to music being played, not to jump around like a kangaroo! I was grateful I was sitting at the back at the bar. We wasn't the only passengers complaining. I also think the sail away days are a bit naff. On the plus side the food was good and the drink prices were reasonable, I liked the tea making facilities and fridge in the cabin. I was also amazed that the majority of staff were male Indian hardly any ladies - don't know if there's a reason or not for that i was just curious. The shuttle bus into Bergen was free, on RCI they charged for this service. Although, I enjoyed the cruise and the ports of call, I wouldn't cruise on Ventura again, it just wasn't what I was expecting, it didn't live up to all the hype of P&O cruises. I wonder if the other P&O ships in the fleet are any better??? my next cruise will be with RCI Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first cruise after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with ... Read More
This was our first cruise after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with P&Oafter seeing an advert in the newspaper severalweeks earlier and getting what we felt was a very good deal. Before travelling we were in two minds after reading the many reviews some of which were and are very damning. We wished we had booked a ship that catered for adults after reading about Chavs and children but at least we were outside main school holiday periods (exc Scotland). We stayed o/n in Southampton and woke up to beautiful weather on departure Saturday. The whole embarkation process was first class, much less stressful than flying and by mid day we wer sitting on deck enjoying a drink and light lunch. We had been allocated an inside cabin at random. This turned out to be at the rear of the ship. we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cabin which afforded us everything we needed and was very well looked after by our cabin steward Priyal consistently. no complaints at all. Our cases appeared outside our room swiftly with no issues. Throughout our trip we found the standard of cleanliness around the ship excellent. Of course from time to time there were dishes and glasses on tables but we found these generally to be cleared away quickly, certainly as quick as in pubs etc at home and similarly the restaurant dishes were removed promptly. Having familiarised ourselves with the ship in early days we found the decks to be easily accessible and although it has to be said the crowded nature of the main swimming pools was not to our liking (sunbeds generally unavailable) we did find that in the adults area at the front of the ship we could generally find a place to sunbathe without reserving beds with towels at all. Quite often we sat on deck 7 (the only deck that circumnavigates the ship)and found occasional joggers and walkers no problem and certainly no bumping and banging as reported elsewhere. We did attend the Gym which we found to be excellent and with equipment of a high standard. we joined up for the spa area at the beginning of our cruise but at £90 found this to be poor value as we hardly used the facility. Similarly we had a massage treatment which, whilst good, was quite expensive. It was only the Scottish kids on the cruise (perhaps we would avoid Scottish school holidays too) but generally if you accept that Children will be children we had no problems. The food was a real success. We ate in The Bayleaf Restaurant on a table for 2 second sitting. The food and service was superd throughout. For breakfast we chose to eat in one of the main service restaurants as the buffet style restaurants tended to get crowded at peak times with free tables at a premium. that didnt suit us although when we did eat there the food was again excellent. we upgraded twice to the White Romm for dinner and found the experience excellent value for money. We were very surprised by the drinks. English pub prices were the norm so no rip off there. A great selection of bars for every taste and as with all areas of the ship we found staff very efficient cheerful and customer friendly. Much better than our normal experience at home. We found the dress code to be part of the experience and enjoyed the formal nights very much. Everybody seemed to adhere to it and in fairness, being a keen football fan myself, I saw hardly any football shirts during the day (I can remember one Burnly shirt on an adult and maybe a Leeds one) apart from the kids who you expect to wear them. Overall our fellow holidaymakers left a very good impression which is some feat with over 3000 strangers sharing the facilities for 2 weeks. We only partook of one trip-the trip to florence which we found to be good and very informative although the heat in July was oppressive. The rest of the time we ventured out ourselves. The Monaco excursion was difficult as it took us soom time to get off the ship but we understand the cause to be a combination of the rough bay and busy nature of the port, something that is perhaps outside P&O control. The queue to get back to the ship in mid afternoon was horrendous and with no shelter but we merely walked the short distance to a bar, cooled down with a drink or two and returned when the queue was merely 10 deep! We were disappointed not to get to Gibralter but there is plenty of free entertainment available on the ship that we were able to take advantage of. The activities/entertainment on the ship were varied and we enjoyed the organisation of it all. Communication was excellent with the daily newsletter alerting in advance of the following days activities. Having had some reservations before we went we found a lot of the negative comment to be untrue on our cruise. We both thoroughly enjoyed it as did everyone we spoke to, some of whom had travelled on The Ventura before. We will certainly travel with P&O again and it probably wont be on the Ventura purely because we will want to try another ship. We started with a clean slate and open mind and had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
As a Family with two secondary school age boys we are tied to the summer holidays and as such price has increasingly become an issue,we have previously visited Florida but it was going to cost £8000 this time, so we thought we would try a ... Read More
As a Family with two secondary school age boys we are tied to the summer holidays and as such price has increasingly become an issue,we have previously visited Florida but it was going to cost £8000 this time, so we thought we would try a P&O cruise having been recommended by a friend. We booked a 14 night Mediterranean cruise on Ventura departing 30.07.11, a year in advance as we were advised that Famly cabins would go quickly and certain discounts/free parking were included.However as the time approached for the cruise I noticed that P&O were discounting and offering free balcony upgrades in order to fill the ship. I contacted P&O asking if we could change our obstructed view cabin for a balcony cabin etc, we were informed we could but would have to cancel our origional cruise and re-book with a £500+ cancellation fee charge. Having already paid just over £5000 for the cruise I didn't want to spend anymore so left it as it was but felt annoyed before even setting foot on Ventura.We travelled down to Southampton the night before and stopped at the Novotel Hotel being very close to the terminal.The following morning we arrived at the terminal and were quickly dealt with by CPS parking staff who removed our cases to the Ventura and removed our car to a secure parking area,the collection process after the cruise was also very efficient.We then went into the terminal which has an airport feel,but unlike an airport within ten minutes we had been seen by very polite staff/processed and entered Ventura, being sent to the Waterside restaurant on deck 15 whilst awaiting the cabins to be prepared.Initially as all passengers were sent there it was very busy but we had our first taste of Ventura food which was very good.The Waterside and Beach Hut restaurants on deck 15 are self serve and one or the other is usually open, we did find however that they felt a bit tired around the edges compared to the Bay Tree and Saffron restaurants which is where we mainly dined during our cruise, both these restaurants are waiter service and are very clean with excellent staff and food.We had opted for Club Dining and took the second sitting in the Bay Tree,for our 6 course evening meal. Having eaten in a number of quality restaurants over the years I would say that the evening meal you receive would attract a price of £50 a head in a similar land based restaurant, given this and all the food you receive on board I quickly appreciated the value for money the cruise offered, this before you consider entertainment etc. My initial grumble about cabin upgrades soon evaporated as we settled into cruise life.With regards to entertainment there is always something going on and to suit all tastes, we were most impressed with the ship's 'HEADLINERS' who put on a number of westend style shows.During the day and especially sea days there is a large choice of activities,you can use the gym,health spa,cinema,go to a talk ie photography/history talk/wine tasting etc. My two boys were kept busy with the REEF youth programme,drama,circus skills etc,there really was something for everyone. With regards to land excursions we did find them very expensive, we only went on one being a trip to Rome this was £177 for a family of 4, we usually made our own way to other tourist spots, ie PISA,we took a coach from the Livorno Tourist Information Centre which worked out at 65 euro's return to Pisa as apose to £108 for the P&O Pisa coach. One of the best days was Monaco, the Ventura moored just off the harbour area and transported us from the ship using the ships lifeboats,it was great to just take in the sights and sounds of Monaco and Monte Carlo,especially the numerous boats/ships/supercars. Port Review:  Alicante was typical coastal Spain, reasonable seafront,lots of shoe and jewellery shops, nothing special but okay for a leg stretch. Although we enjoyed going ashore it was always nice to return to the Ventura especially for afternoon tea Saffron restaurant 16.00hrs, would I cruise on the Ventura again, you bet. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
As a party of 14 it did feel a bit like herding cattle when we arrived at Southampton. Apart from one of our party having a delay in valet parking, the whole check in and embarkation process was very efficient. As a wedding party with all ... Read More
As a party of 14 it did feel a bit like herding cattle when we arrived at Southampton. Apart from one of our party having a delay in valet parking, the whole check in and embarkation process was very efficient. As a wedding party with all our additional hand luggage - dress, suits, flowers etc etc we were given priority boarding and from check in to boarding took no more than 15 minutes. Once on board we found our cabins very easily. We had booked several cabins on the same corridor so we could be close to each other and we were all impressed with the deluxe balcony cabins. They were very clean, spacious and well appointed with plenty of wardrobe and storage space. The balconies were overlooked from above but to be honest this was never an issue. Our cabin steward Rohan looked after us very well throughout the cruise. We had picked freedom dining as we were such a large group and we all liked to dine at different times. Generally this worked very well and we rarely waited more than 15 minutes for a table - although one night they completely forgot about my parents who had been waiting nearly an hour. Food in the Cinnamon Restaurant was excellent and there was a good choice every night. Service was good but not as friendly as when you are on club dining as you don't get to know your waiters. One of our party is a coeliac and was well catered for in all the dining venues. We also ate at the Beachouse (very good), East twice (excellent food and service) and in Ramblas (again very good). Now onto the wedding itself! Our wedding was one of the first during the cruise and it was fantastic. From the pre-cruise planning to the on board organisation everything went smoothly. Craig the wedding co-ordinator was excellent and arranged everything as we wanted. The ceremony was performed by the captain, Alistair Clark and was lovely. We had a great photographer, Gavin and everyone has commented on how good the photos are. our post ceremony champagne reception was in a cordoned off area of Metropolis which was our favourite bar and we had a lovely waitress looking after us. The canapes were something else - best I've ever had and the wedding cake was delicious. Later we all dined in The White Room which I highly recommend for both food and service. All in all we were treated like VIPS both on the day and throughout the cruise. Overall the cruise was very enjoyable with interesting ports of call - Barcelona, Monte Carlo (nightmare with the tender transfers though), Rome, Florence/Pisa, Palma, Valencia and Gibralter. Unfortunately due to the sea conditions we couldn't dock in Gibralter which was a real shame as it was our last stop before home. We did a couple of excursions with the kids - the Transfer to Pisa was just about right at 3 hours and the Oceanographic Park in Valencia was definitely worth visiting and was a real hit with the kids. We didn't watch much of the entertainment but the shows we saw were good and we particularly like one of the pianists - John Wright. Some of our party used the kids clubs and said they were first class with excellent staff. To sum up I was a little apprehensive going away with a large group aged from 2 to 72 but there really was something for everyone on Ventura and we would definitely cruise on her again. In fact one our party has already booked for her honeymoon next year! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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