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590 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

We stayed overnight the Premier Inn at Southampton. On Sunday morning we went down to the docks and had the first site of the Ventura which seemed absolutely enormous. We were immediately directed to an area where our car was booked in and ... Read More
We stayed overnight the Premier Inn at Southampton. On Sunday morning we went down to the docks and had the first site of the Ventura which seemed absolutely enormous. We were immediately directed to an area where our car was booked in and the luggage taken by a porter, after the car keys were handed over the car was taken by CPS to a secure car park. We entered the embarkation lounge and we were given a card with a letter K and sat down to wait our turn which soon came then after booking in and having our photo taken we joined the queue to board the ship and were soon eating a lovely buffet lunch on board while waiting for our cabins to be ready. The call soon came to say they were ready and we went off to find it and were pleasantly surprised to see our luggage already inside and waiting for us. We had cabin C609 which was midships and had a balcony. The cabin was very clean but a little smaller than we imagined. The balconies on C deck are larger than the others and there was plenty of room to stretch on the two reclining chairs with footstools. The ship is enormous and we did get lost several times whilst on board but handily we had been given a map of the ship along with our cruise card which is used to pay for all goods and services on board along with being our cabin key. We mainly dined in the freedom restaurant on board which was Cinnamon and found the food to be excellent every time. We aren't used to dining in posh restaurants and didn't know if we would like it but we were soon put at ease. We asked the maitre d' for a table for two and he gave us a lovely table which we asked for every night and after a couple of days he remembered us and happily waved us straight to our preferred table. We did notice that some tables for two were on bench seats which were a little low so we were glad we hadn't been shown to one of them. Freedom dining is just that, you can choose the time you want to eat but we went more or less the same time every night. The waiters were very friendly and eager to please and make sure we had everything we wanted. A particular mention goes to our wine waiter Neil and food waiters Dominic and Sachin they were absolutely marvellous we can't praise them enough. Even though we had £40 each deducted for tips we gladly gave them an envelope each with a little extra to show our gratitude. The service in the restaurant was like a well oiled machine plenty of staff on duty all had their particular jobs and knew exactly what to do and the service was very quick. We went to the Ramblas Spanish restaurant one night and paid a supplement but were a little disappointed by the meal so didn't go back, we also went to the Beach House restaurant which is waiter service at night with a more traditional menu and although it was ok we missed the fine food in the main dining room. There were 4 formal nights which most people observed the rest were smart casual with a couple of themed nights. i.e. Black and white and Tropical. For breakfast and lunch we mainly used the buffet restaurant which was fine and we always managed to find a table. On a few occasions we ordered continental breakfast for our cabin to have on the balcony which was nice, we also had snacks a couple of times from room service and it was always good. We noticed in the buffet that there were always plenty of staff on duty and they were very busy clearing tables immediately they became vacant and keeping things generally clean and tidy. Our cabin steward was friendly and when asked if we could have ice and lemon she brought us some every day. The cabin was kept really nice and tidy as she came in twice a day to make beds and clean etc. We spent a lot of time sunbathing on deck and could generally find a sunbed although not always right beside the pool but that wasn't a problem. There are four pools on board with bars and the waiters will bring drinks to you at your sunbed while you relax. The bars on board are all waiter service but there are plenty of waiters around and we never had long to wait for a drink. We went to a few shows in the various venues, all of which were very good especially the musicals. The shore excursions were again very well organised and very enjoyable with local guides who always managed to make it enjoyable. The end of the holiday came all too soon and the disembarkation was as smooth as the embarkation, we had a card with a time when we could embark this was done with the minimum of effort and we wondered how on earth we would find our luggage amongst that of 3,000 other passengers but again P&O had obviously done it all before and the luggage was put in deck order so we just had to find the luggage from deck C and there it was waiting for us. Overall the cruise was marvellous, we would love to go again and wouldn't hesitate to use P&O and recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We drove down the day before and stayed overnight on a cruise package at the De Vere Grand Harbour, which included bed & breakfast and 15 nights parking with port transfers by taxi, and it provided very acceptable 4 star accommodation ... Read More
We drove down the day before and stayed overnight on a cruise package at the De Vere Grand Harbour, which included bed & breakfast and 15 nights parking with port transfers by taxi, and it provided very acceptable 4 star accommodation in an accessible room. This was our first cruise on Ventura but we have sailed on a couple of similar sisters, Azura as well as Emerald Princess, so we knew our way round quite well. The main difference between Ventura and Azura is that the former has one of its main pools covered, whilst the latter has the sea screen above one of its pools. As this was an Iceland & Fjords cruise the covered pool was especially beneficial as it allowed us to feel that we were on deck when it was too cold to be out on an open deck. Other than that Ventura has the same public rooms as Azura but they are named differently and the decor has also been changed. As regards decor our favourite area was Ramblas, this is a Spanish themed speciality bar and restaurant serving Tapas as well as 3 course Spanish meals for a very reasonable surcharge, and the food is quite good as well. Havana is the nightclub style venue, here we thought the solid dividers between the tiers restricted the view of the stage area from the upper tiered seats, from memory I think that on Azura these have been changed to a see through glass type. However there are plenty of wide screen TVs set into the ceiling which give you a fairly good view of the stage area. We ate mainly in the MDR and never had a poor meal, some menus are more tempting than others, but you can always find something to enjoy. We ate once in the White Room and thoroughly enjoyed the food and the experience, despite the fairly rough seas,. I think the charge is a bit excessive,if it had been more reasonable we would probably have gone back again, particularly as the menu changes for the second week of the cruise. The buffet was generally crowded but we were normally always able to find a table even it meant sharing. We also ate one evening in the waiter service American diner, which by day is part of the Beach House buffet. This was the evening we sailed back down the fjord from Olden, you will have to queue to get a window seat when it opens at 6:30, but for any scenic daylight cruising the views are worthwhile. The MDR waiters and wine waiters were attentive but unobtrusive. The only minor criticism we had in the buffet section was that the slatted wooden tables in the covered pool area often had food debris between the slats, but I suspect this is because they are more difficult to wipe clean than the solid topped ones. Other than that the service was the usual high standard. The entertainment was typical P&O fare, the headliners were excellent as usual, and we also enjoyed the Elton John tribute and Chilli Gold, but we skipped the comedians. We also went to a couple of interesting talks on cruising and cruise ships from Anthony Cooke who has a very pleasant presentation technique, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy these talks and I will try sampling other ones in future. We had an accessible balcony cabin on Riviera deck identical in all respects to the one we had on Azura last August. The facilities and layout of these cabins are excellent, the only additional item we had requested was a shower chair, which my wife uses at the washbasin, otherwise everything was provided, plenty of grab handles in the bathroom and a drop down shower stool. The extra space these cabins provide make it easy to manoeuvre a wheelchair, this is very useful especially in rough seas when my wife finds it impossible to walk around the cabin. Our cabin steward was as usual very efficient and provided any little extras that we requested. These cabins are adjacent to the forward lifts but there was absolutely no noise from the lifts, and to be honest very little noise from passing passengers either. Perhaps one area that P&O might look to improve is in the cost of their accessible tours, I appreciate that small mini buses with only about 6 or 8 passengers will be more expensive to hire than the normal coaches, but we have a Celebrity cruise booked for September and they appear to include wheelchair passengers in their normal shore excursions and at reasonable costs, albeit only for a small number of tours, so it will be interesting to make a comparison. However P&O do provide free shuttles in ports that need them, on this trip Dublin, Reykjavik, Bergen and Zeebrugge, they also try to offer an accessible shuttle but they never give a guarantee, but on this cruise there were accessible vehicles at the 4 shuttle ports; however for wheelchair users if you are able to board a normal coach on foot, and put your chair in the luggage bay, this will be much more convenient, they normally only have one accessible vehicle, and you can wait quite some time between its trips. The other ports, Akureyri in Iceland, Alesund, Olden and Stavanger, the ship berthed almost in the town centre. These four ports were relatively easy for wheelchair users, but there were cobbled sections and some steep inclines, and not everywhere had good quality dropped pavements, but we managed with our manual wheelchair. For early June we had reasonable weather on this cruise, Iceland was very sunny and it was quite warm in Akureyri, in Norway Olden had the best weather, very sunny and almost hot by afternoon. There was also some sunshine in Stavanger and Zeebrugge, and even in Alesund and Bergen where it was cooler there was very little wind and it was dry; only in Dublin did it rain, but Ireland is not called the emerald for nothing. So take clothing to allow you to dress in layers and just hope you can remove some. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
The Trips Dublin As we have been to Dublin many a time and the weather was bad we didn't go off the ship. There was a curtsey bus that took you into Dublin town for free, not having used any of the trips I can't comment on ... Read More
The Trips Dublin As we have been to Dublin many a time and the weather was bad we didn't go off the ship. There was a curtsey bus that took you into Dublin town for free, not having used any of the trips I can't comment on what they were like. Reykjavic Here we did take a trip, organised by the ship's explorer desk, the "The Golden Circle" cost was £85 per person. We visited the geothermal plant which was very interesting, from there we went to see a massive waterfall and then on to the Geysir, which was something else. It erupted every 7 minutes or so and was some sight. Lunch was included, which I personally didn't think much off, there again, it takes some doing catering for a load of tour busses arriving all at the same time, still it was edible. From there we went to see where the earth's crust had started to separate, I can't exactly remember by how much every year. The tour guide was very informative, all in all a good trip which I can recommend. Some people from the ship had organised their own trips and I believe it was cheaper that what we had paid for. The bathing in the blue lagoon £53 pp apparently was very good I was told by another cruiser. A complimentary shuttle bus was available for those who just wanted to go into town. Akureyri We just went and had a walk into the pretty town, I can't comment on any of the trips. Alesund All the trips were fully booked so we finished up walking into town, if you find yourself doing the same go and visit the Aalesunds Museum it is very much worth the visit, we had a lovely time there, it is situated on different floors so you must be able to do steps. The curator was very informative. There are guide books in different languages which you can borrow and then replace, on every floor. It cost 5 Euro's entry. There is a little sightseeing train, that goes around the town, it takes 1 Hour and the cost is 150 Kr pp. Olden I fell in love with Olden, the prettiest town you can imagine, we were too late to book a trip everything was sold out. When we disembarked we found a hut on the quay,where you could book trips. There are a few choices. A little train that takes you around the lake. We chose to go and see the Briksdal Glacier the cost on the ship for just to get there was £56pp if you choose to go to the top with the trolly car it was £74pp. We did it on our own and paid 35 euro's to get to the site of the Glacier, and then 20 euro's, return, for the trolly car. You can pay for only to go up, and walk down; it would be half the price. The walk to the Glacier is very long and steep, and you must be pretty fit to get to the top, we didn't manage it for health reasons and had to return from half way to take the trolly car to go back to the top, once you're there, there is a platform where the cars stay and you have a short walk to the Glacier, which is a sight to behold, it is so worth it. There is a small lake and some inflatable boats that can take you nearer to the bottom of the Glacier at a cost. Talking to other people I found out that there is a local bus at about 9.45 am that can take you to Briksdal at a cost of 5 Euro's and it picks you at 1.30pm. Trolly Car times starts from 08.15 from April till November. Roundtrip takes 1.30 hours. Phone number..4757876805/90051244 Fax..4757876808. e-mail..www.oldedalen-skysslag.com It is worth taking the trolly especially when you're not steady on your feet. Some e-mail addresses if you want to do trips on your own. I believe prices are negotiable if there are many of you or if they can fill-up the little mini bus. www.glacierexpress.no www.oldencruise.no phone number +4791781449 post @ oldencruise.no Bergen A shuttle bus drops you off by a little lake and you can walk from there all through the town, past the fish market where you can have a bite to eat. Walking further onto the funicular, which takes you to the top, overlooking Bergen. A word of advice is, be early, the queue are very very long to get up, hundreds of people waiting .And you have to pay by credit card or krona's they don't take anything else, it is about 70kr pp. A hop on, and off, bus tickets are, adult 150kr or 20 euro or £20. www.citysightseeing-bergen.net Phone +4797781888 if you pick up a brochure first they give you 10% off an open tour bus. Stavanger We just walked through the town, looked at the old town, which was interesting. You can do your own trip to Pulpit Rock, which is a cruise and will cost you NOK 280 if you are a pensioner or NOK 360 if you're not. Child NOK250. Family ticket NOK 900. It is a mini cruise stopping at lysfjordenteret at Oanes. It leaves more or less where the ship is docked, you can get the tickets on the quay. You can also do a harbour tour for 1 Hour at a cost of NOK 190 or £20. Zeebrugge You have to take the provided shuttle bus to get of the quay, this one will take you into Blankenberge where you can take the train to Brugge if you want to, or just visit Blankenberge which is a nice seaside town, there isn't very much in Zeebrugge so it is better to go on a trip or do it yourself. If you visit Brugge go on the canal's you can see all the Flemish architecture, there is also a brewery you can visit, and then there are the Belgium Choc's go for Leonidas they are the best once at a reasonable price, and a vast choice. Ventura Having travels on the Celebrity Eclipse and the Independence of the Sea we weren't sure if we were going to like this ship. But it surprised us. Food Self-service restaurant, the layout was terrible and not easy with the amount of people eating there, we went in the mornings and sometimes at lunch. Seating wasn't always easy to get. The choice wasn't really that good and the quality, well it's just food, the drink station was crammed and not always could you find glasses and had to wait for them to bring some. Restaurants. The food was ok in the dining room, plenty of choice for everyone, veggie's included , the service at our table was excellent couldn't complain, although it was said to us that the service and the food had gone down on this particular ship, and that was said by a man who'd cruised 56 times. Speciality restaurant. We went to the Marco Pierre White Room, and where disappointed we had more or less the same food at evening time, nothing very special and definitely not worth the £25pp. Due to that we gave the east Restaurant a miss, the East displayed food outside the restaurant every evening and to be honest it didn't look that nice, but still that was OUR opinion, others might disagree. The Ramblas served ( Starters) any 3 tapas for £2.50 or 3 courses for only £5. They were very good and I can recommend them. Bingo Value pack at £15..6 cards for each of the 5 games Bonus pack £10 3 cards for each of the 5 games Basic pack £5 for each of the 5 games. Entertainment Theatre. The Headliners where very good and worth seeing. Although sometimes you had to get there early to get a seat. The Ventura staff were helpful and moved people to occupy every seat. The once that stood out for me in entertainment where the following. Steve Tandy brilliant comedy went to see him twice and when he did the tribute to Jonny Cash. John Ellis as Elton John was very good Timothy Abel & Matthew Glossop where excellent with their classical music and received a standing ovation on the last night. Sid Bowfin, was an alternative comedian with a different approach but he was very good. Ian Kirton, now there is a voice, this man should be on the London Stage, we thoroughly loved his show. Drinks prices were very reasonable, they changed the liquor allowance when buying on board, now when you buy your bottle of scotch or other, they won't give it to you for your cabin consumption until a week later. So be aware of this. Will I go again on the Ventura...Yes..Although my opinion to start with wasn't that good but the ship grew on me, I must admit the entertainment did it for me, so much choice and different places to see them in, was something that we hadn't experienced on the previous cruises that we have been on. Also make sure you book your trips beforehand, as we found out everything worthwhile was fully booked. Comparison, if I could have the food from the Celebrity Eclipse and the entertainment of the Ventura and the prices of the drinks of the Ventura, the ship would be perfect, that is in my opinion. If any of you have anything to ask please do I'll be happy to help if I can. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We usually cruise with Thomson but being a little fed up with hanging around in airports we decided to take a cruise from Southampton. We arranged parking in the port car-park, first mistake as we were in a queue for sometime waiting our ... Read More
We usually cruise with Thomson but being a little fed up with hanging around in airports we decided to take a cruise from Southampton. We arranged parking in the port car-park, first mistake as we were in a queue for sometime waiting our turn to unload our suitcases. The departure lounge was absolutely full standing room only and as i had failed to book as a disabled passenger (second mistake) it seemed we were in for a very uncomfortable time. Luckily i was identified as a person needing assistance and was whisked through onto the ship. The cabin C308 deck 10 was not the largest we have had but was entirely suitable for our needs plenty of hanging space more than adequate drawers. The safe was free to use (charge on Thomson) and the balcony was wider than the balconies on any of the other decks with a shaded area or a full sun area. I didn't think we would have much use for the balcony as we were going to Iceland and Norway. How wrong I was the weather was mainly hot and the balcony was well used. The shower was OK pretty much standard for a ship. What we did like was the in cabin tea and coffee making facilities that are not present on Thomson's ships, also we could have breakfast in our cabin at no extra cost. The one drawback was our cabin was opposite a service doorway which could be noisy early in the morning. Luckily we had booked freedom dining and i would not have been happy with having a set dining time i had to keep to as this could seriously affect our ability to watch the evening entertainment. We barely used the buffets because they were very busy and seating was limited. Sometimes we had to wait for a table in the restaurant used for Freedom Dining but the quality of the food compensated for a little inconvenience. Not being ones to dress up a lot we were thinking that maybe there would be to much formality, how wrong we were some people made an effort to dress smart casual but others looked like they'd had nothing but Shorts and Tee Shirts in their wardrobe. The entertainment was not always to our liking and some of the comedians were not very funny in fact were diabolical but generally we enjoyed most of what was on offer and there was always something else to do if a particular show was not your cup of tea. There was a good variety of afternoon films on show in the theatre on the sea days. The excursions were as overpriced as usual and not having found them always good value for money in the past we are now very selective on the ones we take preferring to make our own way around the at our own pace, using the shuttle buses or taxis where needed. All in all we enjoyed the cruise immensely and will definitely cruise again on the Ventura Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Arrived at Ocean Terminal just after 11.30 and was given a lettered ticket for check-in (previously been used to been given a card after checkin but I'm sure the numbers we are talking about for Ventura explains the difference. Most ... Read More
Arrived at Ocean Terminal just after 11.30 and was given a lettered ticket for check-in (previously been used to been given a card after checkin but I'm sure the numbers we are talking about for Ventura explains the difference. Most people looked like me in the terminal i.e. excited and with a daft "expectant holiday" grin but there is always a percentage of people with the expression like the Queen watching the Olympics. Why is that? You're going on a cruise!!Anyway, check-in was a breeze and we were through that and security within 20 minutes. We were directed straight to Waterside Buffet ( I was going there anyway!)Greeting staff were all very smiley. I was very impressed the quality and variety of the buffet throughout the cruise much better than on Oriana and Oceana in my (more recent) other experience of P&O in my opinion. I can see what people mean about the congestion for the various stations at the buffet which is partly due to the "angled" nature of the different parts but also down to people "zig-zagging" backwards and forwards when they either have forgotten things or have spotted something appetising on someone else's plate(the gastronomic equivalent of the grass being greener).When particular a logjam was being created by a zig-zagger who was elbowing a member of staff out of the way I commented to the crew member you have to be slim to work here he returned a knowing look... Anyway, for the record, I had stir fried chilli prawns which were excellent a small piece of salmon (bit dry and overcooked) lamb dopiaza which was very tasty and succulent, followed by a cream horn which was also very good. Securing a seat was always a challenge and we usually carried our food into the Beachouse part. Both the log jam stations and seating are something P&O should consider addressing at the impending refit in my view. We then had a bit of a potter around the open decks and went for a swim in the Beachcomber Pool with my daughter whilst my wife enjoyed a spot on a sun lounger. The roof was open for the entire cruise apart from the last night and disembarkation morning a testimony to the beautiful weather we were fortunate to have. Felt sorry for the children whose parents either didn't know or had forgotten to pack swimwear in carry on luggage.However, I can't be too smug as I'd forgotten to pack towels as of course the blue pool towels now reside in your cabin. So I snuck down to the cabin feeling a bit like a naughty schoolboy as the all clear was yet to be sounded and grabbed a couple of towels and had a sneak preview of the JF grade balcony cabin on B deck aft, first impressions were good and i was able to put our 2 cases in the cabin as they were already there. Had lovely swim followed by a dry off on the loungers and a first drink. By then, there were plenty of loungers as most people stampeded when the announcement of your cabins are ready but we took our time .Met our cabin steward Santance who was very quiet but polite and smiley and very efficient and made a point of remembering our names every time he greeted us which I always think is nice. Had longer inspection of the cabin (I can never call it a stateroom although the word cabin does still remind me most of an incredibly pokey 4 berth cabin on Canberra). My wife was particularly impressed with the walk-in wardrobe which was a useful feature but I didn't get quite so excited..Liked the (pretty compact) balcony although was quite surprised that much of the varnish of the balcony rail was on the missing list. Bathroom I would describe as compact in fact exactly the same size as an inside cabin on Oceana which was a bit of a surprise. My daughter's bunk hadn't been pulled down but as in the other days it appeared at night time turn down .It did have a special duvet but despite being assured by P&O beforehand that all children received a welcome balloon and jelly sweets neither appeared although we did notice numerous children on the last day with balloons. Then off to lifeboat drill which didn't seem as crowded as Oriana last year and it appeared to be taken more seriously (people were more attentive) perhaps a symptom of recent events. After sail away ( a lovely member of staff took a photo of the 3 of us ) we decided to give the Beachouse a try. We really enjoyed the experience had a lovely table with a sea view. I had French Onion Soup with cheese crouton, The sizzler combo and apple crumble. The first 2 courses were excellent the third just ok. We formed the impression that waiters here were being tried out to see if they were up to main dining room standard and service here was patchy, but the food I thought was very good. We then fancied both the Soul tribute in the Arena and Fogwell Flax but plumped for Fogwell. We found him very funny his impressions were good and gags appropriate for a mixed audience.Liked his Ventura walk gag which whilst mainly visual gave the impression most have which is you are never quite sure which way you are going not helped by the numerous dead ends. We had 2 lovely cocktails raspberry crème brulee and gin and sherry cobbler served with a smile which always helps. Liked Havana as a venue- nice decor. So to bed -tired but happy. Slept ok but beds quite small(I'm tall but not all that wide but wider than I was!) and not all that comfy in my view compared to Oriana last year. Day 2-Zeebrugge.Went to Bruges last year from Oriana so had already decided to just go into Blankenberge so had leisurely breakfast at buffet. I was impressed with range of choice hot & cold options. Always found the fresh fruit to be delicious and at right stage of ripeness in particular the melon and pineapple. There was then an announcement about 10.30 I think saying that there was a long wait for shuttle buses so perhaps people might consider delaying their departure. We had a quick look over the side and it didn't seem too bad so we went off anyway. We waited less than 10 minutes. Weather was scorchio! We went into Blankenberge which is a popular seaside resort with Belgians, it was packed! We had a look around the shops, some fascinating cake and chocolate shops and followed the throng to the seafront. The beach is ok nothing spectacular but we went into the Serpetarium (snakes spiders etc) which was reasonably priced and well set out. We had a nice picnic on the seafront and then a stroll on the Pier and had a Belgian Beer (it would be rude not to) at the cafe at the end of the pier. Then we went back on the shuttle to return to Ventura. Our daughter now being 10 had said she wasn't going to the kids club, but a note had been left offering the chance to pick up a free gift between 6 and 7 in the Peninsula room. She was seduced by this and received a nice "Reef" holdall. The staff then "sold" the club in a gentle way pointing out the benefits and doing the "I know you're 10 but going round with Mum and Dad all day must get boring give us a chance" .It worked as she asked to go back to have a look after dinner and went every night after that. Some people have mentioned that there are no cocktail parties for cruises of less than 7 nights but whilst that is true of 2 nighters, I am happy to confirm we did have a "reception" party in the Atrium with free drinkies. We timed our escape just before everyone else to sample Cinnamon freedom dining. The Food was excellent and the service was good too. I had Mushroom and white wine soup(one of the nicest soups I've ever had),Glazed Duck which was nice(portion a bit small but then I'm greedy) and Fresh Strawberries with Whipped Cream, Toasted Flaked Almonds and a Warm Chocolate Biscuit which was lovely, followed by good cheese board. The wine waiter appeared promptly and we had a nice bottle of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. My daughter then went off to the kids club and was introduced to the other kids, we kept coming back to check on her and were told to go away (you are cramping my style). We had a drink in Metropolis and enjoyed the views (and the cocktails). As a change of scene we also tried Ramblas, we loved the decor and atmosphere in there and had a glass of red propping up the bar .I do hope the rumours of Ramblas possibly being replaced during the refit are unfounded as we loved it. Day3-Le Havre Had a huge buffet breakfast(as usual) today the Beachouse server part was open previously only used for seating at breakfast ,expect that was because the venue just got busier and busier. Had a quick look at Terrace Pool my daughter keen to try this later as Laguna and Beachcomber were very packed the previous day. Took shuttle into centre and had a mooch around the Hotel De Ville nice gardens and fountains. Planned to get shuttle back to 2nd stopoff-Docks Verdon (big out of town shopping centre)but jumped a taxi instead very pleasant taxi driver who seemed pleased to have English passengers, his English was excellent(far better than my French).My Daughter headed for what appeared to be the French rival to Toys r Us La Grande Recre which stocked some Monster High items(her latest great interest) that are not available in the Uk and therefore will afford her some bragging rights back home.The centre was like many out of town centres although built in an old dock area the exterior of the building had more charm than usual and it was nice and cool on a very hot day. We had a lovely sandwich and cake from a Boulangerie although my daughter insisted on having hers from Subway(sigh) We then returned onboard for a swim in the Terrace Pool and a pleasant dry off in the sun on the wooden stepped area, whilst having afternoon tea from the buffet(jam and cream scones-my idea of heaven, cheese & pineapple toastie-yum and duck and hoi sin wrap-also yum) and drinking "mocktails"-Bananberry Crush ( Strawberry, fresh banana and pineapple juice) which excellent bit like a smoothie and Longboat Fizz( Ginger beer and lime juice) which sounds wrong somehow but was very refreshing actually and worked. We then went to the Beach House for a 2nd time but more people had cottoned on to this option so we were sent away with a buzzer but it did buzz bang on the time we were given. This time I had Buffalo wings which were ok nothing special and the Steak which was excellent. However, the service was much less attentive second time around and we were basically forgotten and people after us "overtook" us and had their sweets before we had even got to plate clearing of our main. In fact our waiter was physically absent for ages. We gave up in the end and went to the buffet for cheese and biscuits and a coffee. We struggled to find entertainment we were interested in tonight and apart from the clash on the first night, this was a theme and normally I've felt it to be a strong point of P&O. My daughter went to Kids Club again and enjoyed putting her own mocktails together. Day 4-Guernsey A further buffet breakfast (again excellent fruits) and then off by tender (took a while with ticketing system but seemed much better organised than when we were here on Oceana). We had arranged to meet my Mum's lifelong friend here she's from Guernsey and was an evacuee who lived with My Mum and they have stayed firm friends ever since and her daughter which was bittersweet as my Mum has dementia which has now progressed to the stage we felt we couldn't bring her with us, we have taken her with us on 4 previous cruises since My Dad passed away. I did feel guilty (especially today)but Mum did love hearing about the lovely time we had. We had a whole tour of the Island which has some truly beautiful coves and beaches. We went to Port Soif beach which is beautiful and had a picnic made by our hosts including egg sandwiches with eggs from her own hens and Gache for pudding (a type of Guernsey fruit loaf-very Moorish with real butter).We also swam in the sea which was bracing but lovely.We then went to Bordeaux -not France but Guernsey style a lovely cove with a view and had a drink outdoors.There were some people painting the bay which was a lovely tranquil scene but all I could think of was the fast show character Johnny who paints everything black! We then headed back to St Peter Port having a lovely view on the way of Ventura and stopped off to buy some Gache back home.Our hosts were wonderful and very proud of the Island and they have every right to be. It being our last night I had fully planned a formal restaurant meal but encouraged by others i went to see what the buffet had to offer and succumbed. Had Tomato and Basil soup(nice butt Basil a bit overpowering followed by Roast Beef and all the trimmings which was very nice although they were a bit skinny with the meat and I had to do an Oliver and ask for more.I also snuck a steak and mushroom pudding on my plate and this was sublime. Had 2 Banoffee pies (they were very small your honour) and cheese and biscuits for "afters".My daughter asked to go to kids club so we went to see Martin Gold who we thought had a big build up but Fogwell Flax was funnier he wasn't bad but not that good either.Nice to be able to sit and relax though and have drink in your seat. We were ready for bed before our daughter!She came back with a goody bag which nice a few games in it-Pairs-Uno etc. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I'm an avid Ventura fan but I have tried to give an unbiased and honest account of my most recent time onboard. I can talk the hind legs off a donkey given the chance, so I've tried to mention the important bits rather than a ... Read More
I'm an avid Ventura fan but I have tried to give an unbiased and honest account of my most recent time onboard. I can talk the hind legs off a donkey given the chance, so I've tried to mention the important bits rather than a day-by-day account. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Generally this was ok. We only live around 45 minutes from Southampton so we arrived in plenty of time to check-in, but were then met with various queues of cars all waiting to use the CPS parking. We probably sat for a good hour waiting for them to call our row of cars, but when they eventually did the porters were very efficient in taking our luggage and they also park the car for you, which I hadn't realised when I'd booked the parking. Check-in was very quick and we probably went from car to our cabin in around 10-15 minutes. Disembarkation was busy, as you would expect with some 3000 people all wanting to get off. They ended up calling our colour card in the middle of breakfast as everything was ready ahead of schedule, so by the time we had finished and got out of the restaurant, a huge queue had formed which looped around the Atrium and through the Exchange bar. It moved fairly quickly though and we were off within around 15-20 minutes. Cabin: I managed to upgrade our Inside cabin to a Balcony last minute but hadn't told Mum. Her 'Oh wow, a balcony!' reaction made it worth the extra money, and we definitely made use of the extra space (though I think I've now spoilt her so nothing but a Balcony will do!). Our cabin, B743, was a JF grade standard Balcony on B Deck. It was the last one on the starboard side at the rear of the ship and had a fantastic view down the length of the ship. We overlooked the balconies on decks C and D below, although this wasn't a problem for us and the people below didn't seem to mind us being able to see their balcony either. Our cabin was clean and tidy with plenty of storage space. The bathroom was small but perfectly comfortable for a few nights - my only gripe is it had a shower curtain which I hate (I prefer the sliding doors I've experienced on RCI and Celebrity). Our cabin steward, Sadashiv, came and introduced himself shortly after we arrived, and he kept our cabin spotless and was always very chatty and polite the few times that we passed him in the corridor. I've never had a cabin at the rear of a ship before and I'm not sure I'd choose to do it again. The first night was pretty bumpy and there was a fairly constant roll even on the calm days, and when the ship was manoeuvring backwards the whole cabin shook. Dining: We'd been booked on to the 2nd sitting at 8.45pm with a table for 8 in the Saffron Restaurant. Our table companions consisted of another mother/daughter combo, grandparents with their granddaughter and a single traveller on her first cruise. We all found plenty to talk about and I really enjoy this type of dining as you get to know people, swapping stories and tips along the way. Our waiters were fantastic, although I didn't think to make a note of their names. The food itself I thought was excellent and each night there was something completely different so it never got boring. We had breakfast here twice too, which was also very good and I was surprised at how much choice there was. The only other place we ate was in The Waterside and The Beach House, which are the buffet restaurants. We ate here for supper on embarkation day as we'd skipped lunch and dinner was several hours away. The Waterside was heaving but that's to be expected, and as the Beach House was effectively closed we brought our food through to eat there where it was quieter. The choice of food wasn't great and it all tasted pretty bland. There was also only water or tea/coffee available which I wasn't best pleased about - surely they could have had juice or squash too? Other cruise lines do. We ate here once more for breakfast the next day and then decided that it wasn't for us. The choice of breakfast food was good, with hot, cold, cereal and pastries but again it was all very bland and didn't compare to the breakfast we had the following day in the Saffron Restaurant. Frankie's Grill and Frankie's Pizzeria seemed very popular so we will probably try that out when we go again in September. We also saved trying the speciality restaurants East and The White Room, as it's difficult to get a reservation on a short cruise. Ramblas seemed like a nice area and I heard other people saying the food was nice too, but to me it seems a bit forgotten and was usually empty whenever we walked through it. Entertainment: The Sail-away Party was brilliant despite the overcast weather. The live band played a real mixture of classic and modern songs that seemed to appeal to everyone. We saw 2 of the 3 shows in the Arena theatre, with the first being Destination Dance which was like a mini-musical showcasing lots of different styles of dancing as well as live singing. The best part for me was the end where the whole of the Headliners dance troupe performed a Riverdance-style Irish jig, which was just fantastic! The second show we saw was on the last night and was a Boogie nights-style show, with disco music throughout the decades, and some acrobatics thrown in for good measure. Considering there are probably only about 14 or 15 members of Headliners they do an amazing job, with constant costume changes and not a single note out of key. They are probably one of the best shows I've seen so far. We went to Havana's once but it was rammed full (they had the Robbie Williams tribute act that night) and also only went to Metropolis once as we found the music a little depressing (a quietly spoken woman and a keyboard does not qualify as entertainment in my book!) We didn't bother with The Exchange as karaoke isn't for either of us, but it was always packed when were walked to and from the theatre. The Red Bar was nice for a spot of people watching as its right by the Atrium and one night the pianist got some of the waiters singing which was great. Can't really comment on the daytime entertainment as we were off the ship, and obviously not travelling with kids I've no idea what the kids' clubs were like either. Gym/Spa: I only encountered these areas on my tour of the ship, but I will be making use of them on my cruise in September. I love the spa, and use of the thermal suite seemed very reasonable to me, working out around £10 per day. The people in the gym were perhaps a little over-enthusiastic but I imagine that's the only way to encourage people to use it! Overall, I still really love the Ventura but she is definitely starting to show her age and I think the refurbishment next Spring is well-timed and well-needed. I still maintain that she's a great ship for young and old and I didn't see any of the so-called 'Butlins' or 'chavvy' people that I've seen mentioned on so many reviews. All the staff I encountered were superb, the food for the most part was excellent and the entertainment was top notch - I can't wait until September when Mum and I go back for more! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We were all looking forward to our cruise, and it certainly did not disappoint! The ship was fantastic in the main, and the facilities excellent. We normally holiday in the UK in Bournemouth or Centre Parcs and was worried about some of ... Read More
We were all looking forward to our cruise, and it certainly did not disappoint! The ship was fantastic in the main, and the facilities excellent. We normally holiday in the UK in Bournemouth or Centre Parcs and was worried about some of the negative reviews about CHAVS and Butlins at sea. However I found the fellow cruisers to be not at all like that. I would book the cruise again today if they were to repeat it, however I have checked and they are not, not even in 2013! We chose Freedom Dining and were allocated Cinnamon. The food was excellent in the main dining room, and the service was very good. I chose Gluten Free meals and in Cinnamon the request was well taken care of, the head waiter taking my order each night for the following day to allow the chef to prepare it in advance. I researched on here before we went and was glad to have discovered afternoon tea, really enjoyed it on the ship, again gluten free sandwiches, and some cakes too! Although the buffets served a purpose when returning from shore I would always have eaten in Cinnamon given a choice as I found it much nicer food, just wish we had been around to try lunch in Cinnamon too. The cocktails we had were nice, however I found if you went to the bar directly the strength of the cocktail increased remarkably compared to ordering it from your sun lounger! We travelled independently to Bruges using Ronys Taxi, it cost only 95 euros for 7 of us return and was amazing value compared to the tours, and dropped us straight to the market place. They were reasonably prompt however the driver on the return drove far too fast, if anyone uses Ronys Taxi and the driver number is 00066 be afraid, very afraid! We all felt relieved to be back at the ship. Le Havre was much better than we expected, the weather made it being around 30 degrees. We got the shuttle to town which was quick and easy, and spent some hours around the beach which was really nice. Great choice of beach bars where we enjoyed several drinks. Guernsey was great for a few hours too we walked to Castle Cornet, and around St Peters Port again the weather made it, not a cloud in sight and around 30 degrees again. Our cabin was spotlessly clean, James the steward kept nipping in, changing towels, making the beds up, it seemed like he checked it nearly every time we left it. I was concerned about our cabin allocation, we got allocated D123 first, and I got it changed due to the many bad reviews of that cabin for noise, however we were certainly no better in E116 and we got woken numerous times the last two nights with staff bounding up the staff metal stairway that was next to our cabin. I reported it in the morning the first time, but they were a bit dismissive as I had not rang them as the noise was occurring. I did not want to wake my daughter up however the first night. The night manager came down the second night as I called reception, and explained the problem, its a main route to the bridge apparently for crew. It was really noisy shoes clanking up and down metal steps. He offered to move us but since it was 11.30pm final night thought it would be less disruptive to stay put as was not looking forward to a 6 hour drive after a changing cabin. That was the only real negative to a wonderful holiday however. I will follow it up with P and O. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We were a group of 6 celebrating a 40th birthday, we have cruised with NCL, P and O and Celebrity before. I can't stress enough how disappointed I was with P@O and Ventura. While the ship from the outside looks impressive the ... Read More
We were a group of 6 celebrating a 40th birthday, we have cruised with NCL, P and O and Celebrity before. I can't stress enough how disappointed I was with P@O and Ventura. While the ship from the outside looks impressive the interior is dated and 80's style, I find it hard to believe it was only launched in 2008. As with most cruises the vast majority of the staff are foreign and of all the cruises I've been on so far the staff were the least engaging and generally of a poor standard. Food was just not up to scratch in all areas, the buffet was chaotic, second class quality and the food poorly displayed. It was a horrible experience to be completely frank. Food on evening dinner service was more or less thrown at us, the waiting staff were more interested in talking amongst themselves rather than engaging with the diners. I was shocked by how bad the service was. The staterooms are dated and poorly maintained. The shower has a shower curtain and all of cabins we occupied had a damp musty smell to them. The main positive about the room was plenty of storage. Where P@O seem to excel is on their entertainment, all of the entertainment staff were of excellent quality. Our favorite line is Celebrity, the difference for the same price is vast between the 2 companies, if you're considering which company to choose there is no comparison in my opinion. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Quick observations of our recent three nighter on Ventura out of Southampton to Zebrugge and St Peter Port Food : disappointing compared to my experiences of RCI and Norwegian. There wasn't a big choice of restaurants and the ... Read More
Quick observations of our recent three nighter on Ventura out of Southampton to Zebrugge and St Peter Port Food : disappointing compared to my experiences of RCI and Norwegian. There wasn't a big choice of restaurants and the waiting times for the Cinnamon restaurant for a group of four was forty minutes the first night and over an hour the third night. Early morning continental breakfast to the cabin (croissants and coffee) was good, and arrived on time. Bar Service : bar service around the sun beds was good and I especially enjoyed my Pina Coladas Bar on the 18th floor aft, (can't remember the name) bad experience. On second day at about 17:45 we wandered in after a hard day sunbathing and ordered drinks. No problem there . The drinks duly arrived and we were informed by the waiter that since it was Black tie dress code that night and the bar was a 'high revenue earner' (his words) , we would have to leave as soon as we had finished our drinks. Another waiter appeared a few minutes later to 'remind' us. We felt very rushed and didn't enjoy the drinks. Another couple were placed in the same uncomfortable position as us and weren't happy either. Why didn't they warn us before we ordered the drinks ? Cabin: we booked an inside cabin and found it clean and suited our requirements. The shower was good and strong, and the toiletries were good quality Spa : I had a couple of treatments in the spa which were good, especially the facial and massage on the last day. I would never say good value as spa prices on all cruise lines are outrageous, but I guess they have to make their money somewhere. Relaxation room/thermal suite was very small and internal (no windows) compared to the one on the NCL Jade which is fabulous. Gym: Hubby used the gym once and enjoyed using the virtual reality bikes (not sure if that's what they are called. Embarkation/Disembarkation : At Southampton I was very impressed with the organisation if the parking. Check in was easy. Disembarkation was quick and easy also with luggage easy to find and direction to car park were good Other : Considering this was a British cruise line, with probably 99% Brits on board my husband was very disappointed to find that there was no coverage of the British Open Golf on the cabin TVs or any of the bars. Cabin TV choice was poor with, I think, three nondescript American TV stations included on a British sailing. Why ? Would I sail with them again? : No I don't think so. Much preferred the NCL Jade on which we will be sailing again at Xmas Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I can quite understand the rave reviews and five star ratings for Ventura as these are mostly from First Time Cruisers "upgrading" from their "all inclusive fortnights in Turkey". It is not quite the Butlins Boat yet ... Read More
I can quite understand the rave reviews and five star ratings for Ventura as these are mostly from First Time Cruisers "upgrading" from their "all inclusive fortnights in Turkey". It is not quite the Butlins Boat yet but has certainly set a course in that direction. I actually overheard one passenger declare to the " future cruise specialist" that she might have to downgrade from a balcony next year as her benefits are being cut! For a relatively modern vessel, the decor and furnishing is already looking dated. Cleanliness on decks is variable and residual buffet dishes are of ten left under sunbeds. Food is, at best, average and it is obvious that the executive chefs have been given stretching targets to reduce the average cost per head. The breakfasts were functional but boring with ecactly the same selections every morning. Similarly the lunchtime buffets were equally unimaginative and uninspiring. I suspect that chefs were under instruction to cater for the lowest common denominator in a largely working class British consumer. Restaurant Dinners were marginally better but over two hours for a four course meal is enough to test the appetite and patience of even the most dedicated foody. Daytime entertainment, on deck, was dire. Why do Cruise Directors labour under the obvious misapprehension that the majority of passengers crave for the strains of Agadoo and similar drivel for two hours every day. Is it simply a ploy to drive customers off the decks and into the dining rooms to ease congestion later in the afternoon? Evening entertainment was better. The Headliners Theatre company were lively and enthusiastic though I was surprised to see Arlene Phillips leading the line. If the singers could learn to sing, the dancers learn to dance and the actors learn to act there could be potential in this team. I can also understand why the Smokey Joe's Cafe show is on the last night of the cruise............after the Customer Satisfaction Surveys have been completed. This was about as entertaining as a wake in a Mormon Temple. Guest entertainers from the UK seemed to suffer from second show syndrome. They either had insufficient material to sustain two shows or the food and drink between first and second performances had taken their toll. Whilst the Cruise Director DID try to redefine the rating of EXCELLENT by stating that if we had enjoyed MOST of the performances this did stretch generosity a little too far. On the plus side, drinks prices were sensible. Not cheap, but sensible although the draught beer offerings of Stella Artois and Boddingtons suggest that P&O understand the consumers they are now attracting. The Winelist was extensive and reasonable but this did not prevent table being adorned with a greater number of cans than goblets. Service at the Breakers Bar was woeful. Up to five roaming waiters were being serviced by one barman and it was difficult to assess who was the most stressed.....the barman or the customer. Certainly not the waiters whose Indian heritage had perhaps set them in a permanent state of transcindental meditation. A smile from a waiter was almost as rare as a full spirit measure in a cocktail! The tipping regime was modest at £3.10 per passenger per day but it is obvious that these surcharges are not actually gratuities but form the bulk of the remuneration for these modern day galley slaves. I really wish one of the Cruise Lines would break ranks and pay their staff a sustainable living wage. Another plus, versus Royal Caribbean and Princess were the Port embarkation and disembarkation procedures. They were generally smooth and efficient. The captain, personally kept us advised of the progress of the cruise with daily deck bulletins. There was a pretty good selection of shops but P&O should seriously consider opening a Tattoo Parlour for the minority of us who are feeing increasingly isloated as our bodies are not festooned in garish images or crossed out declarations of love for ex spouses. Surprisingly, overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable but P&O really do need to understand the distinction between informal accessibility and the danger of creating Wetherspoons on Water. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Well having travelled on RCI and Celebrity before we thought we'd try P&O. Despite booking a year ago we were given very little choice of availability and selected two staterooms for our party of 4 on deck C. We said no to the ... Read More
Well having travelled on RCI and Celebrity before we thought we'd try P&O. Despite booking a year ago we were given very little choice of availability and selected two staterooms for our party of 4 on deck C. We said no to the auto upgrade as P&O would not guarantee that a linked booking would be treated as a priority and would be kept together (this really isn't fair if you are a family or party that wants to be near by) As the time for our cruise approached, we noticed P&O started to heavily discount the sailing on 21 August 2012 with a number of "getaway deals". We therefore contacted Customer Service and after a bit of a faff we were upgraded the week before we sailed. Although both staterooms were on the same deck, the staterooms were spread - one mid and one forward. It was frustrating to see getaway fares offered that would have saved us almost £1000! Whether the new P&O Price Pledge will finally see early bookers treated fairly we will wait and see. You are advised to contact Customer Service and too be persistent with your query! My advice is to take time to plan / pick your stateroom - we should have stayed put really. Travelling through the Bay of Biscay on our way home made for a very rocky ride for us near the front! Lucky we are seasoned cruisers and didn't get sick but travelling at 30 knots with a wind at same speed, many were feeling a bit off it the day after. Well let's now focus on the cruise, Ventura has had mixed reviews and some criticism. It launched the same year as RCI's Independence - which we have travelled on. It's not as glitzy or sparkles but really comfortable. It certainly isn't Celebrity... but it seem to suit loads of people who return year on year. Though some felt standards were lower than previous years. On the day of embarkation it was well organised, we'd booked the car parking service - we went one way, luggage another and car taken away - great - worth every penny provided car was returned back!. We booked 5 days too late for free car parking - book early to get this (we did though book in time to get a good on board credit). We were on the Ventura early, had a pleasant lunch and a tour round. Our Staterooms were ready early and both were very well presented. Very clean and had all that we needed. We had a great sized bathroom and good amount of hanging space. The bathroom was better that both RCI and Celebrity in terms of size. Luggage delivery was a bit haphazard but our stateroom attendant sorted it all. Our champagne and chocolates were there, fluffy bathrobes and slippers. No complaints. Our children were in a very pleasant stateroom and the youngest had special pink bedding. Both attendants were excellent. Dinner was in Saffron - we were on late sitting. We had no complaints and our food and service across the cruise was good. An attentive waiter and wine waiter. The dress code was observed well and again this was something other reviewers had highlighted as a negative. We struggled to find any unfriendly staff ....though there was one exception on arrival in Breakers Bar (yes it was sunny and we went on deck for sail away)there was one miserable waiter who didn't give a very good welcome at all (name withheld he's about 48ish with glasses on!) I think overall the staff were really nice and when you chatted they responded. The officers and senior staff seem to treat the staff well and there was banter / humour between staff which was nice to see (unlike RCI or Celebrity where they were strict). In terms of amenities - we tend to do our own thing and get into the port rather than go on excursions. We don't do the talks or films but when others said they had gone they enjoyed them. If you go on this cruise or any other miss La Palma - dreadful place! Although it was a Sunday - Im sure not much else happens on a Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday etc as one of the comedians said a one horse town. The highlight for us was Madeira - so cheap...Oporto was good but we do like Portugal. Our children used the kids club - no complaints and they made nice friends - the holiday makers are virtually all from the UK. So if you don't like the culture even Bingo - go with another line for the variety. Night time brought the Theatre Shows and other acts(again not every-one's cup of tea) but the entertainment we saw was good - Fogwell Flax has had mixed reviews but we enjoyed both shows, the two other Comedians were good (sorry I just can't remember the names but I laughed despite my other half saying I have no sense of humour) and the singer in the Tamarind mostly was 5th Element and were possibly the best they had on board other that Des Walker. There was a duo that sang in the Met Bar called Into the Drift but for us they needed to drift off...(sorry but the woman twittered and never seem to have her sheet music ready...)The ballroom dancers made our toes curl but it was a must for others. P&O do a sail away party out of each Port,avoid these if you don't fancy a load of music, cheering and daftness. They made a special effort for the last one to celebrate 175 years of P&O. There are two other pools away from the crowd - a tiny one at the back and an adults only at the front. Someone did say on another review that there was little control exercised over the kids in the laguna pool but we noticed that the kids were quite good - Ventura is a family ship - so don't book in school holidays if you don't like kids. The indoor / covered pool tended to be the base for most kids. Great to have a retractable roof in cold weather. P&O do try to make an effort with a 60 and 70s night on day 4 - about 20% dressed up and a tropical night mid cruise - about 70% dressed up. The formal nights were well supported with adults and children looking really smart! There was a lovely chocoholics afternoon tea that was possibly attended by all 3000 passengers - Im sure that we dipped in the middle as everyone made there way to mid ship. A nice touch and appreciated by all. We understand that the shows by the Headliners Team were good and other shows well supported like Clem Curtis and a Freddy Mercury Tribute - it's all very British. We don't do every show as we did on our first cruise - we get about more. The Cruise Director isn't OTT - I recall one cruise where the CD was the centre of his universe and totally full of himself. The staff just get on with what they do. The White Room was a lovely experience though our waiter was a little cool and very very hard to understand but the dinner was excellent. We sat outside and watched the sunset go down. Marco's Tiramisu was the best. I know some do not want to pay the £25 cover charge but we really enjoy things like this! East got good reviews but there were two curry nights in the Waterside Buffet and we went there (no cover charge and good selection). Unlike Celebrity and RCI there is limited choice - so if you don't do the main dining room be aware that they have a theme each night - Italian, curry, cowboys - there is limited choice ... If you are used to the different buffet stations on other lines you may be a bit disappointed. There was the Beach House which was good for steaks etc and it was hard to get in. One lady I spoke to was very vocal about the lack of choice. We used the buffet for breakfast as the main dining room was just a bit OTT in the morning with a limited choice - you could only have certain things on set days ie scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on a sunday...not really the sort of limitations I'd expect so this is my little moan. Las Ramblas was lovely - we enjoyed our Tapas and Sangria and we didn't mind the small charge! I know others begrudge it and it is a personal choice. Coffee Shop and retail outlets were very good - better stock that Celebrity and more affordable. Excellent outfits for men and women if you need another special outfit even a tux or bow tie. Spa was great and on a port day my other half treated me to the unwind package - worth the £69 for 90 minutes of pure pampering. There are plenty of places to go on board and all venues such as the casino, exchange bar, coffee shop (selling COSTA), Met Bar, Red Bar, Tamarind and Havana etc all seemed well supported. It has a busy vibe and doesn't have the dip in the atmosphere that some lines have between dinner sittings - the two main dining rooms were well attended and the Bay Tree for Freedom Dining was popular but at peak I understand some people had to wait. Room service was efficient with a reasonable selection. P&O put tea and coffee making facilities in the room which were popular with older holiday makers. A little old lady told me that she loved her tea tray (bless her!) Frankie's Grill and Pizzeria was popular for burgers, pizza and other things (no charge).Half way through there was a lunchtime barbi which was appreciated. A feature was a guy doing an ice carving in just 7 minutes. Internet service was best we had, no cold water in staterooms it's always warm(previous reviewers have noted this), decent hairdryer in staterooms, ironing room and washers / dryers how great. Some passengers did all their washing before coming home! Value for money.. yes - our cheapest cruise so far.... There is no hard sell (unlike RCI) on P&O though the female waitresses in the bars do mither and mither you even when you have a full glass of wine. Bar prices not too bad. The shuttle buses are free and on other lines they do rip you off. This is a real saving for a family of 4. The gifts for the children were good in the Reef Club and they were treated to pizza and other things which was nice. Some people felt a bit let down ( some P&O advocates) and I suppose you get what you pay for. Ventura was for the four of us overall good value for money. I can see why one reviewer said it was Butlins on Sea - though I feel it is perhaps a bit hard - sure it's not got the finesse of other lines but what it does... it does well. Everyone seemed really nice on Board and most were really happy with their holiday. My only disappointment was the getting off, we went to the buffet for breakfast as we had an early slot. I fell badly on my side due to a very slippy floor in the swimming pool area and hit the floor hard. There was no care or attention from any P&O staff but a number of other passengers were lovely (I felt that they had taken my money and I was now off!) I was very shaken, an Officer offered no assistance at all. We then had possibly the worst disembarkation ever... but in the round it didn't spoil things. Would we go with P&O again - possibly but we plan to try Princess or return to RCI. Ohh and my car was there and the car parking service was great. Hope this was review useful and may I wish future passengers a lovely holiday. PS Skip La Palma! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Initially for the first couple of days on board Ventura the service was dreadful - very very slow but this did improve as time progressed. Most waiters were extremely pleasant helpful whilst a few were surly and off-hand. Excellent meal ... Read More
Initially for the first couple of days on board Ventura the service was dreadful - very very slow but this did improve as time progressed. Most waiters were extremely pleasant helpful whilst a few were surly and off-hand. Excellent meal in The White Room and East. Facilities for children very good. However, I think management need to focus on service and importantly health and safety in the swimming pools. There are notices stating 'no diving' and 'no jumping' but these were ignored by most of the teenagers using the pools. Despite pointing out our concerns at reception and after hearing similar views from other passengers, no notice was taken of our comments. What is the point in having notices if activities in the pool are not monitored at any time by staff? There were no easy access shepherd's hooks provided at the swimming pools and whirlpool spas as far as I could see and when younger children are in the water it is extremely dangerous when older ones jump and dive in - it is an accident waiting to happen. One final point at no time did the tap water run cold - it was always warm. Apparently as the hot and cold water tanks are near to each other the water in the cold tank is dependent upon outside weather conditions. This was the explanation although I have definitely not experienced this on other cruise liners. The cruise was enjoyable but improvements need to be facilitated. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We sailed out of Southampton on a 16 night transatlantic voyage across to the Caribbean. This was our fifth cruise overall and our first with P&O. Embarkation went without problem and we were on the ship quickly. We found our ... Read More
We sailed out of Southampton on a 16 night transatlantic voyage across to the Caribbean. This was our fifth cruise overall and our first with P&O. Embarkation went without problem and we were on the ship quickly. We found our stateroom and it was decorated to generally good order but was showing signs of wear and tear here and there. There was also a slight sewage smell in the bathroom that was not particularly nice but it was only slight. This is a large ship and as such a lot of passengers were onboard. I'd say it was probably full. Our biggest issue was with the buffet area on the ship. It was very poorly stocked and the size of it is a joke for a ship of this size. The buffet area was regularly severely overcrowded with long lines to get food. Whoever designed this part of the ship really should get the boot. The food selection was also very poor. Most irritating was that when there was a 'theme' night (e.g. curry night) then there was virtually no other choice to be had. Other ships we have been on have had a massive selection all the time. The main restaurant was 'ok'. Food portions were very small and we would get through our evening dining experience in about twenty minutes! Service throughout the ship was also just bad. It is nearly a 100% Indian crew and they all just seemed fed up, overworked and just uninterested in anything. It was the first time ever we contacted the front desk and had the gratuities removed completely - we just could not justify it. We ate at some of the other restaurants on the ship and again we just found the food to be of poor quality and in small portions. We had an ongoing temperature problem in our room as well. Hot one minute and freezing the next. We had around six engineer visits during our time onboard. Public areas on the ship regularly were very busy with lots of people and it just wasn't enjoyable. Overall our experience was more like being on a giant ferry rather than a luxury cruise liner. And luxury it very much is not. Compared to the likes of a hotel rating this ship was probably a two star at best. As one previous reviewer wrote, "Butlins on a boat" isn't too far of the mark. We are unlikely to choose P&O again and will likely stick to the more premium carriers. If you book this ship then as long as you go with low expectations then everything will be great. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We have just got back from our first Fjords cruise and had a great time. Having sailed on Oceana from Southampton before and finding that cruise too quiet for our liking we were concerned about booking another P&O cruise but we ... Read More
We have just got back from our first Fjords cruise and had a great time. Having sailed on Oceana from Southampton before and finding that cruise too quiet for our liking we were concerned about booking another P&O cruise but we needn't have worried. Ventura has far more going on with a large theatre and other bars with stages so there was plenty of good quality evening entertainment. The productions were of high quality and the Annie Lennox and Freddie Mercury tribute acts were amongst the best acts I've seen at sea. We had a standard balcony cabin on A deck which was of a good size with plenty of storage and it was well maintained by our steward Uday. However on the last day he did take all our own coat hangers before we had packed them and they were never seen again. I know it may not be a big deal to most (and it isn't for me really but it just seemed a bit strange) why does a British ship sailing from Britain show the American "E"and MSNBC TV channels amongst the choice of 4? Fortunately there was a range of on demand movies (a few free) if you fancied watching something in your room. We ate in the main restaurant every night and were never disappointed. The food was of very high quality and the service was very efficient if a little hurried on some occasions. We chose freedom dining which meant that we sat at a different table every night with different waiters so we did not get the opportunity to get to know them but it suited us as we could plan our nights depending on what entertainment was on around the ship. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was another matter. The quality of food was ok but the whole layout was very poorly designed. The buffet areas were too small for the number of people trying to use them with little room between stations to move around and once you got your food there was inadequate seating capacity. We invariable ending up sitting outside which was fine but if the weather had been worse this area would probably have not been usable. Due to the weather (high winds and 8 - 10m swells) the Captain made the decision not to go to Gerainger but to stop in Flam instead. Whilst this was disappointing I think it was good of him to arrange this in a limited time frame rather than take the easy option to have stayed berthed in Skjolden overnight. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Ventura and would quite happily sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
After an excellent Weekend visiting Longleat House and Safari Park we traveled to Holiday Inn Express which in our opinion is betterthan Premier In Although further from the Port. We arrived at the port at 10-30 there was a delay and we ... Read More
After an excellent Weekend visiting Longleat House and Safari Park we traveled to Holiday Inn Express which in our opinion is betterthan Premier In Although further from the Port. We arrived at the port at 10-30 there was a delay and we were lined up in car park for 30 minutes. After this we had an excellent embarkation. Stateroom was available as soon as we had lunch We were in P340 which is accessable with a wet room, Inside but next toCosta Coffee, very central. Dinner companions were a delight!!! They put up with Ann being fed her Dinner (this has put some people off in the past and they never returned to the table) Food was very good throughout the cruise both in dining room and waterside. The ENTERTAINMENT WAS A GOOD MIX OF musicals type shows by the HEADLINERS and cabaret singers and classical music. There were many children on board, many more than you would expect in Term time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This was our 10th cruise and the first with P&O we looked forward with great expectation to this cruise. Our booking was made on the 16th Sept 2012 outside twin grade LC with freedom dining,sailing date 21st October. We booked a ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise and the first with P&O we looked forward with great expectation to this cruise. Our booking was made on the 16th Sept 2012 outside twin grade LC with freedom dining,sailing date 21st October. We booked a overnight stay with parking for the duration of the cruise and a taxi to the port and back,it makes it a little less stressful than traveling the 300+ miles we have to travel on the sail-away day. Embarcation was swift and well organised and after a cup of coffee in the Waterside we found our cabin ready for use though the luggage was still to be delivered it wasn't long before it arrived. The cabin was as we expected it to be twin beds plenty of hanging space and good decor typical of most cruise ships of this size,on the bed were the ships daily information paper and a letter addressed to my wife and I which I eagerly opened only to be disappointedly informed we were allocated 2nd sitting dining on a table of 8 and that freedom dining had been full since July,how can this be possible we booked in September surely they could have told us,so we went in search of the Restaurant's Manager to try and resolve the issue and found him in the Saffron dining room ,when eventually we were let through to see him (we were just one of many couples queuing to see him)we explained that late dining was not something we can handle as it affects both our sleeping patterns,he was not in the least interested his attitude was like it or lump it and if you want to eat early you can eat in the Waterside.We have in the past sailed with Ocean Village and this was a relaxed freestyle type of cruising where we eat buffet meals and very good they were so we resigned ourselves to eating in the Waterside. only one night did we have any thing that resembled a decent British meal of Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, nearly every other meal was a Theme Night consisting of spiced dishes and rice with a few exceptions,by the half way stage we were living on salad and ham and sick of the sight of it. Entertainment was pretty good especially the singers and resident dancers and a couple of guest tribute artists, a guest speaker in shape of Ray Clemence gave us a insight into his life with Liverpool and Spurs. On board activities were very poor unless you were into losing pounds of your waist and pocket,not forgetting deck quoits and shuffle board. Ports of call were what we expected having spent holidays in all the Canary Islands but Lisbon and Virgo were worth the visit. To sum up we had as good a time as we could make of it but its not looking good for any future P&O cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Sailed from Southampton to The Caribbean on a 19 day cruise, and have I to say was very impressed with this ship, there was something is always going on! With twelve places to eat, including three main restaurants, as well as a wine bar, a ... Read More
Sailed from Southampton to The Caribbean on a 19 day cruise, and have I to say was very impressed with this ship, there was something is always going on! With twelve places to eat, including three main restaurants, as well as a wine bar, a fine dining restaurant by Marco Pierre White, and a dedicated family restaurant where you can dine whenever you choose, day or night. You'll also find twelve places to drink, fantastic children's clubs, a lavish two-deck theatre and a tranquil spa, not to mention many quieter places to simply relax. It makes the 5 day sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean very enjoyable, the ship was very clean and the crew was very friendly, the food was some of the best we have had on all of our cruises, cabin was very nice, a nice size, and balcony was also a good size, the cabin girl was really friendly, keeping our ice bucket filled constantly, turning down our bed every night and leaving cute towel animals on our bed, chocolates on the pillows every night, and nothing was too much for her, The shows were very good, compared to what I have seen on other ships. and the pool parties were great, was onboard over Halloween, so enjoyed the halloween pool party, drinks and cocktails were a good price, on par with what you would pay in the pubs back home, and the staff were very relaxed about taking your own drink on board, the Caribbean was lovely as always, been a few times now, particularly liked Barbados, and their lovely rum cake, I would definitely go on this ship again Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We left from Southampton had 3 days at sea then arrived in Madeira.This was followed by another 5 days at sea to then arrive in the BVI Tortola .Each day then in another island, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and finally ending in Barbados.We ... Read More
We left from Southampton had 3 days at sea then arrived in Madeira.This was followed by another 5 days at sea to then arrive in the BVI Tortola .Each day then in another island, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and finally ending in Barbados.We had at cabin B 755 overlooking the stern which was fabulous watching the wake of the ship and star gazing at night. The ship was very busy , 3000+ clients, so sometimes there were not enough seats to watch the show in the Arena theatre so some people had to finish 2nd sitting dinner early in order to get a seat. The sunbeds were incerdibly close together in som eplaces but there were probably enough, not all in the shade though. The Captains cocktail party was a farce as it was held in the Atrium so ther were 1500 peole attending .I did not speak to anyone as it was so squished , you could hardly hold your drink, so I didn't think that was very well planned. The trips we went on in Tortola and Antigua and Grenada were all very goo and value for money and in St Lucia, we found a tour on this website who were excellent. Weather was hot ,showers at times but soon disappeared.Fodd was very good and waiters were excellent and we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We booked this cruise 10 months in advance because of cost and destinations. The size of the ship was at first daunting but we quickly aclimatised. All staff were very efficient from the time of checking in to disembarkation and flight ... Read More
We booked this cruise 10 months in advance because of cost and destinations. The size of the ship was at first daunting but we quickly aclimatised. All staff were very efficient from the time of checking in to disembarkation and flight home from Barbados. it was the first time we had a cabin with a balcony and we just loved it. We spent many an hour, particularly when we wanted to escape the crowds on deck, on our balcony. Having the balcony gave us more choices of what to do with our day whether on deck, on shore or lazing with a glass of wine in the privacy of our balcony. The only negative comment is that the bathroom smelt of damp cloth all the time. We reported it but nothing was ever done about it. Live shows were fantastic and of the highest quality. The meals served in all the restuarants, we attended, were supurb. The crowds, particularly at lunchtime, that gathered in the buffet restuarants were not too bad provided you had the patience to wait for a table. We never had to wait long for food or a table. The only negative comment in this regard would be towards those selfish passengers who after completing their meal would continue to sit and chat or read their books. We chose 2nd sitting for supper at a table for 6 and what a pleasure this was. Meeting and comparing notes every evening with well travelled and fun people. Overall I am ready for my next cruise. Well done P&O! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
My wife and I had a wonderful first time trip on-board the Ventura from the 7th to the 14th April 2013. Overall, we were extremely pleased with the ship and staff and truthfully, could not find much to complain about. We were pleasantly ... Read More
My wife and I had a wonderful first time trip on-board the Ventura from the 7th to the 14th April 2013. Overall, we were extremely pleased with the ship and staff and truthfully, could not find much to complain about. We were pleasantly surprised that the holiday was so good and this was in part because we had been unnerved by some of the reviews we had read from other passengers and so expected the worst. That is not to say that other reviewers did not have valid points or that they had in any way fabricated their complaints or grievances. However, I think we paid too much attention to some reviews which unfortunately negatively influenced us before we had even set foot aboard Ventura. In brief, here is our summary of our trip: 1. Embarkation -- we were astounded at how smoothly this process was! Before we knew what was going on, our baggage had been whisked away and our car driven off. We had been 'processed' and were on-board the ship having lunch within an hour. Very well done. Disembarkation was equally smooth (although we heard several passengers grumbling about delays). 2. The ship, having just been refurbished was very clean and orderly. All the public spaces were well attended and our cabin (inside, forward) was well appointed and clean. There was a very noticeable 'new carpet smell' in the corridors and it was apparent that much cleaning / paining / varnishing had taken place. No complaints. 3. Food. Overall, really good quality throughout. We had fixed dining (late) in the Cinnamon restaurant and we felt that the food and service was impeccable. No waiting. The buffet restaurant served good food -- however, it was like 'whacky races' at times trying to get your meal whilst navigating through the crowds. We don't feel that the food service area was anywhere near big enough to accommodate the throughput of diners carrying trays. Additionally (and this is something that P&O officials might like to take notice of), the ship really needs to get rid of so many large tables and bring in MANY MORE tables for two / four. It was difficult to find a table - and when you did, it was usual for one person to 'guard it' whilst the other selected their meal. Often, if a couple sat at a table for eight for example, they jealously protected their space and made it clear that other diners were not welcome to share (even families). Unbelievably, on one occasion, a man approached my wife declaring that the table was his. My wife replied that there was no-one sitting there when she arrived - to which he proclaimed that he had left a glass on the table to mark his territory! A solitary, dirty glass - enough said! Afternoon tea was something we looked forward to. However, it was frequently 'spoiled' by people almost stampeding into the restaurant, in the desperate hope of being able to sit at a table for the exact number of diners in their party. We had the impression that people were not happy to be sat with strangers. 4. Public areas. All areas were generally well kept with plenty of waiters. Some were friendlier than others though. Drinks were 'pushed' a lot, although the service was efficient if you wanted a drink. When we began the cruise, there seemed to be a mad scramble for the crew to get your attention. For example, promoting wine drinks packages or Spa therapy sessions. We did not find this overwhelming; however, it could have put some passengers off. For the rest of the ships amenities, we really enjoyed the gym and used it daily (not that we are fitness fanatics!). Because of the poor weather, we did not go on deck a great deal and so did not use the pools (plenty of kids seemed to enjoy though!). Cannot comment about the sun loungers as we did not use. 5. Entertainment. As a couple in our forties, we found this to be 'mixed'. On the one hand, the two big shows in the Arena were splendid (this is the type of thing we had experienced on other ships every night of the voyage) however, as mentioned, there were only two on the Ventura and we would have loved more. There were a number of singers such as a Phil Collins tribute and also a big band music singer. Very competent, but 'not our scene'. Additionally, there was a comedian on offer who again was competent, but perhaps who appealed to (dare I say it) the older passengers. P & O cannot please everyone and so we cannot reasonably condemn them for entertainment that did not live up to our personal expectations. 6. Ports of call. We enjoyed La Coruna and Vigo. Very easy to explore straight from the ship. Lisbon at first could put people off as there was a lot of graffiti. However, once you have 'acclimatised' to the city, it was safe and interesting. Oporto was abandoned as the sea conditions were too rough to dock. 7. Lastly, tipping. From talking to other cruisers on Ventura, we can see that this is a vexed subject. One or two people were indignant when money was taken and appeared on their on-board account (I think we paid about £50 per couple for the 7 days). P & O say they take this money to be distributed throughout all the crew -- not just those with public facing roles such as the waiters (by default, we cannot distribute tips to crew that we haven't seen). On the one hand, we understand this. However, we think the crux of the problem is that many of us like to be given the choice whom to tip and not to have this choice made for us by the holiday company. One comment we heard frequently was that P & O should pay all crew a decent wage so that passengers should not have to subsidise them as the cruise was expensive enough. We are in two minds about that. Anyway, we paid the automatic gratuity added to our on-board account -- and also tipped extra to the wine waitress, the servers in the restaurant and of course the cabin steward. My wife and I could not walk away without leaving a small token. Would we go on a P & O cruise again? Yes, without doubt. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. Within minutes our bags were taken from us and due to mobility was amazed, taken straight to checkin desk and within 15 minutes we were standing in our cabin C431 a twin with shower and balcony. We decided to leave the unpacking till after we had a walk around the ship. What a lady, Ventura had just come back from having her refit. Atrium was bright and airy. Onboard shops were easy to find, walk around and noone jumped on you as soon as you entered the shop ( one of my pet hates. We found most of the places for Dining, the Orangery was already very busy. We had booked with the knowledge we would be given a dining time and table on reaching our cabin. We were on MDR 2nd sitting in Saffron. And so we set sail. We missed the sail away party as we were unpacking. Our cabin was spacious and we had everything we needed. Our cabin steward Winston, was fantastic once we had told him we were first time cruisers. Our nights on board were 2 Black tie. 2 smart casual and 3 casual. We loved the thought of getting dressed for dinner. The meals were very good, waiters very experienced and helpful. We had no issues with the food and rarely ate lunch as we either on an excursion or had a light snack in the Orangery. Eating in the orangery was a little ruff as the few times we ate there reminded us of school caffateria. We ate in the White room one evening, and both the food and the staff were lovely. We had pre-booked 3 excursions as the last one was full, but we were told via the excursion team, we had seats for the Flam railway. Our ports of call in the Norwegian Fjords were Stavanger. Flam, Olden and Bergen. What wonderful sights, to stand on the pier without a coat on to looking up to snow capped Mountains. Excursion were very good. One or two "Eek" moments on the coach going up the mountain on very narrow roads, I swear at one point some of the coach was hanging over a 70mtre drop. On the whole we really enjoyed our excursions. The entertainment was fair as I had been expecting full scenery, lighting and Broadway show so I was a little disappointed with the shows, however we saw the Chapman Brothers twice, only one we liked. There were children on the cruise and most were very polite and courteous, mind u is till cannot understand young, fit children who take the lift to go up or down one floor!!! Overall we were very impressed with the service. Staff very very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed it so much we have recently returned from a 14 night Baltic cruise on the Aurora, but that's another tale. Well done all the staff on Ventura for its them that make or break a cruise Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We're a young(ish) active couple in our early 40s who booked a week on Ventura cruising the Norwegian Fjords as our first cruise. We didn't want to spend a fortune or go for more than a week in case cruising wasn't for us. ... Read More
We're a young(ish) active couple in our early 40s who booked a week on Ventura cruising the Norwegian Fjords as our first cruise. We didn't want to spend a fortune or go for more than a week in case cruising wasn't for us. My husband hates flying so a cruise from Southampton seemed ideal. We normally holiday in the UK and enjoy walks, photography, good food and in my husband's case, a pint of two of real ale. This cruise appealed because is was sure to be scenic and seemed like a good introduction to holidaying at sea. We travelled by train from Nottingham to Southampton to avoid the stress of driving and the expense of parking. It was easier than getting to the pick up point for the coach. As soon as we got out of the taxi at the Mayflower Pier our cases were immediately whisked away and we joined the line for check in. The queue moved fairly swiftly and within about 30 mins we were on board. We felt a bit lost and not sure what to do but were handed a map of the ship and wandered off to find our cabin. On our way we came across our cases which were waiting on the corridor and wheeled them the rest of the way down to our cabin towards the aft end of the C deck. We'd decided on aft to save £100 each and had read that C deck cabins have the best balconies. This is true. Our cabin had everything we needed, was well tastefully decorated, comfortable and a reasonable size. Our cabin steward, Grazie, introduced herself almost as soon as we'd moved in. She told us where to find our muster station and made sure we were happy with our cabin. She did a great job keeping our home for the week clean and tidy and was always smiling and chirpy. After unpacking (and yes there was plenty of room for our stuff, our cases and enough hangers) we went for a wander and afternoon tea. Then it was time for the safety talk at the muster station (Havana). This didn't take long and was straight forward. We spent the first afternoon exploring although we still managed to get lost a few times, even towards the end of the week! The floors are a bit confusing as some areas don't seem to link up from all 3 staircases but we had some extra exercise finding our way round. We'd opted for freedom dining and ate in the Cinnamon restaurant each evening, We didn't see the point of paying extra to eat in the "select" restaurants as the food and service were very good in our allocated restaurant. We elected not to share tables and never had to wait long for a table for 2. We ate close to 6pm most evenings and were shown a window seat several times. We have no complaints about the food. There was plenty of choice and it was possible to request items that weren't on the menu if you're especially fussy. The service from the waiters was prompt and efficient. Some were more smiley and friendly than others but they were all good at their jobs. We sampled most of the bars on board and preferred the Metropolis bar over all due to the relaxed atmosphere and great views. We also liked the Red Bar as it was comfortable. The drink prices were reasonable and the service was attentive without being pushy. Even in busy venues, such as the theatre and Havana bar the staff did a great job in getting to you when you needed a refill and remembering who ordered what. I don't know how they do it! Hubby was happy with the range of real ales and I enjoyed working my way through the cocktail list and sampling the occasional liquor. We went to some of the shows in the theatre. The Headliners singers and dancers were very good and their shows were professional and entertaining. The comedians were ok but we didn't see any of them for a second time. The Neil Diamond and Tom Jones tribute acts were very good. The older ladies in the audience especially enjoyed the banter from the Tom Jones act! We didn't partake in the entertainment every evening. We were happy just to sit in the Metropolis bar with a drink, enjoying the sunsets and chilled out music. There was a fairly comprehensive programme of daytime activities but most of it wasn't really our cup of tea. We did use the gym which was very well equipped. The classes were a bit expensive but the free "fab abs" class was good. The treadmills and cardio equipment are arranged to give a great view out to sea at the front of the ship. Who needs MTV! There are plenty of swimming pools on Ventura but only a few brave souls made use of them. It was rather nippy in April! If you want to do "proper" swimming you'll find them a bit small. The endless pool wasn't working most of the time but it was too cold to use it anyway. The temperature around the only covered pool was reasonable and if that had been bigger or "endless" we might have used it. Ventura is a family ship so this area was a bit noisy for us although most of the time we didn't really notice many children elsewhere on board as it was term time. You can always get something to eat on the ship without having to pay extra for it. The 24hr buffet had a good choice of food. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea were fairly varied and of good quality. Seating was rather limited and at times we walked circuits around both sides of Waterfront and Beach house to find a table. It probably would be less congested in warmer climates when you could make use of the exterior seating. On our cruise we had 2 sea days and visited ports on 4 days. The excursions were very expensive. We only booked one - the Flam railway trip. This was also pricey but we don't regret booking it. There wasn't a lot to do in the ports other than enjoy the scenery. This was enough for us. Flam and Bergen are covered below. We also visited Stavanger and Olden. Both were interesting and pleasant to wander around. We liked the old town in Stavanger but it felt as though Ventura and its passengers took over the town in a rather imposing and intrusive way. It seemed as though it wasn't quite ready for the tourist season as not everywhere was open and quite a lot of work was being done in the port. Olden has some shops geared towards tourists. We didn't buy anything but lots of people did - they were packed! We found the old wooden church which was worth the short walk to find. Again, some of the shops were closed - they missed a trick there! The prettiest area can be found by turning left and walking down the road back along the Fjord. There's a wooden pier by some conifer trees where we took some lovely photos which look like paintings. There is something surreal about the colours of the landscape and the snow-capped mountains reflected in the water. Yes, Norway is expensive but cruising is a cheaper way to visit as there is no need to pay for food and drinks - you can get them on the ship! We only wandered around in the ports for a few hours between breakfast and lunch so didn't need to get on and off too many times. This was a good thing as queuing to get through security was a bit of a chore, albeit necessary and understandable. We had been a bit nervous before our holiday about rough seas. One night was quite bad although the staff were reassuring, especially the captain who had warned us that there would be a big swell and some noise from the bow slapping down on the sea (gulp!) We wore our anti sea sickness bands and didn't feel ill, just a little anxious. We propped ourselves up in bed and watched the TV most of the night to distract us from the noise and motion. There was some vibration from the stabilisers which i understand was worse on the lower decks. The rest of the time we were lucky to have fairly smooth seas and good weather. We knew it would be cold and packed accordingly. Disembarkation was swift and well organised but no drinks were offered wile we waited to be led off the ship. We would have happily paid for a cuppa in the bar as we'd had to vacate our room by 8am and were not due to leave until after 10am. We could have left earlier, taking our bags off ourselves but we'd have had a long wait at Southampton station. We were expecting the buffet breakfast to be rammed on disembarkation but we beat the crowds by eating before 7am. It was the quietest we'd seen it all week! We would definitely recommend P&O and Ventura and the Norwegian Fjords. In fact I've been missing the ship since we came home! It would be interesting to see how different the experience would be in warm weather when you could sit on deck and enjoy the pools. Maybe next time... Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
To say that Ventura was disappointing would be huge understatement. OK firstly I should say that we booked late and got a huge discount, as did pretty much every other guest we spoke to, had we have paid full fare I would have been ... Read More
To say that Ventura was disappointing would be huge understatement. OK firstly I should say that we booked late and got a huge discount, as did pretty much every other guest we spoke to, had we have paid full fare I would have been complaining like crazy. The boat was full of people who had paid less than 500 for an inside cabin and were determined to eat at least 1000 worth of food, if you enjoy all-inclusive holidays in Benidorm then this is the one for you. Does that sound a bit snobbish? Well I'm a council house kid from South East London and I was embarrassed to be British at times. The quality of the food in the main restaurant was poor and service not much better. First night we were treated to a prawn cocktail that consisted of a small lettuce leaf on top of which were piled watery frozen prawns and no sauce, followed by what in the seventies used to be called chicken corden bleu accompanied by croquet potatoes. It was like the chef had been down to Iceland and bought what was on offer that day. I say chef but I use the term loosely, I do not consider heating pre-prepared food as cooking. The Sommelier hadn't the first clue about wine, (apparently Fleurie is now Spanish), and did not even know how to pour a glass of wine properly. In fairness The White Room was excellent in all respects, quality of food & service but at an extra cost of 25 per head. I would whole heartedly recommend it though as it is definitely worth the money. In the self service restaurant pandemonium reigned, apart from the piranha's fighting over every morsel the staff had a habit of randomly shutting off sections of the servery as and when it suited them. On three occasions at breakfast I actually managed to find a croissant available on display, on every other day I had to ask for one. Each time I did this the request would be transferred via two or three people to someone in the bakery area who would miraculously produce a croissant. This ritual was performed by many other guests who as frustrated as I was voiced their displeasure. The bus boys whipped the plates away before the last mouthful was swallowed and had virtually all forgotten how to smile. These are only a few of the daily annoyances( don't get me started on the availability of cups) and basically all come back to one thing - Poor Management. The staff in the bars were a bit better in that they always greeted guests with a smile and took the orders promptly, but then generally left you waiting for a while before the drinks arrived. In fairness the entertainment was very good and in particular the dance instructors were excellent, probably the most enthusiastic people on the boat. The theatre group put on some great shows and most of the entertainers were value for money. One exception though was Kate Robbins, Oh dear! half the audience walked out, I'm not sure if it was because of the rubbish act or the smell of booze. The cabins are not bad, we had a balcony room which was OK, the bathroom was a little on the small side but adequate, and the hanging rail arrangement was better than the wardrobes you usually find. Our cabin steward was excellent. Friendly, helpful and nothing was too much trouble for him, whoever trained him should train the restaurant staff, a smile costs nothing. The weather was a bit rough going across the Bay of Biscay but I didn't think Ventura handled it very well, the ship rocked and rolled all over the place and many people were seasick. We've experienced worse weather than that coming across the North Sea and not had anything like as much movement. Our previous cruise was on Celebrity Eclipse and that ship is a world away from this one, the Eclipse beats Ventura in every single department in my opinion. Our verdict was - P & O Could do better. Next cruise will be Celebrity I think. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed ... Read More
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed to front of terminal where our cases were loaded onto a trolley and whisked away, the car was then whisked away in the opposite direction Embarkation Very smooth and quick. Arrived at the Terminal at 12.10pm and we were in our cabin by 1.00pm. Airports could learn a thing or two. We went for a wander around the ship for about an hour and on returning to the cabin our cases had been delivered. We found our way around the ship pretty easily within first couple of days. If you get lost go to Deck 7 - as you can get anywhere from there. Cabin - we had a Superior Deluxe Balcony on Desk 9 Aft. Have to say I chose this location even though Mid cabins were available, as we were close to most things (All the restaurants are Aft, as is The White Room, Metropolis Bar and Havana. The cabin was a good size, perfectly fine for 2 Adults and a Tall Teenager, we could have had one more in fairly easily. Balcony on D desk is overlooked from above but tbh this did not bother us Good wardrobe space. Comfy beds Our Steward Diogo looked after us beautifully Food/Drinks I have to say it was excellent. I have a few negatives to comment on but they are because Daughter is a insulin dependant diabetic and a Coeliac so we are have additional needs to most. And P&O were streets ahead of most places on offering GF so I do not in anyway want to put people off, just to be aware there were a few areas which could still be improved on for those with special requirements Dinner was superb for her. We did Club Dining as I knew have the same waiters each night would be helpful for our daughter. Every night Sangay the head waiter would present our daughter with the menu for the following day, she was able to choose ANYTHING* from the menu and it was adapted to be suitable for her to eat. And they bought her freshly baked GF rolls every night * - they could not however offer GF pasta which I thought was very strange as this is one of the easiest alternatives to offer Breakfast plenty of fruit, eggs, bacon, has browns and Gluten Free Bread. Small negative here were no Gluten Free Cereal on offer at all, it would also have been nice to see some GF sausages. You could however arrange GF pancakes with your waiter the night before. And for those Gluten eaters there were waffles etc on offer too We ate in the Bay Tree most mornings - as was nice to be relaxed with Table service, we generally got a table for 3, but on one occasion we were asked to join another party of 3 on a larger table, we had no issue with this but the woman at the table was so do rude about having to share a table that we asked to be moved. We also did the buffet a few mornings and that was fine Lunch A little more problematic, although the chef would always take us through what she could or could not have from the Buffet but it was limited, and they did make sure there was a GF dessert should she want one. Afternoon Tea - pretty much a No No, do not get me wrong it was lovely. Lots of little cakes, fresh scones etc. But almost nothing she could have at all. They have an on board bakery so a selection of GF cakes/scones would have been nice It could also be a little difficult getting a table for Lunch/Afternoon Tea, the use both Waterside and The Beach restaurants but it got confusing as they seem to close one half of the each restaurant at different points so you'd switch back and forth. Pizza/Burger/Hotdog Bar at the Laguna Pool - nothing suitable in GF The White Room - had a beautiful meal here. We only heard good things from everyone else who ate there as well. for the GF they just asked us to go up the following day and pick her meal, which was excellent. But be warned it gets booked v v quickly. None of the above was a huge issue, she always found something. But still some improvements could be made Drinks packages are a good idea for the kids. We paid £42.50 upfront for a drinks/ice cream card which entitled us to 20 (Large) soft drinks and 20 ice creams. We should also have got a free drinks bottle - but not one of the bars seem to have them, small issue but would have be nice for them to actually stock the bottles Alcohol - found this to be on par with most pubs here at home. Small Tip, buy a separate coke/lemonade for your mixer and just order your spirit, worked out better value as the soft drinks are in large glasses, where the mixer is a small can.We are not big drinkers but P&O do allow you to take some alcohol on board. We took a bottle of Malt and a few beers to enjoy on the balcony. Ports of call As mentioned our crossings was quite rough, with a few people suffering seaksickness - we took tablets each day and seemed to be OK though We did not do any excursions as we'd already researched and knew we could easily get into the towns from Port. However, we did not stop at Oporto because of bad weather - again did not spoil cruise as we spent day at Sea where the weather was lovely Entertainment In the main very good. One comedian who was not to my taste. But very good singers - Jayne Curry particularly excellent. Phil Collins Tribute, Rob Lewis also excellent. And a young man singing Big band hits/swing who again was excellent. Headliners, the on board company, did an excellent show Bars - you have a choice of everything from a "pub" - The Exchange. To the Bar Metropolis on Deck 19 (our personal favorite) Kids - very very well catered for. Over 700 on board and it never seemed like it. Did not see my Teen much at all, she went to Teen club on first night. made friends and was off. Great for me with my daughters medical needs, was they gave us a pager so that if she needed attention, they were able to contact us easily. Yes there were some kids being "badly behaved" But you get this everywhere and remember this is a family ship - noone should be complaining about children being on board. If you do not want kids around then go out of School Holidays, or to one of the Adult only ships Dress Codes - in the main this was adhered to. Was lovely to see the vast majority of people in their formal wear for the 2 nights - even most of the children. There were a few who chose not to follow the dress code, which was fine, but they stuck out more and were unable to use some of the bars that night. Staff for me these were the Highlight of the cruise. Kat, Rob and Jamie from the entertainment team were excellent Diogo our Steward was also excellent Prodip and Sangay our head waiters - simply superb Sohail and Arun our dinner waiters, were simply outstanding And Godip our wine waiter was just the best. A lot of the staff are employed out of Mumbai or Goa and they could totally teach staff in the UK a think or two about service with a smile. They work incredibly long hours, and yet still always found the time to be pleasant. The other Negative was I booked this cruise as Marco Pierre White was supposed to be on board to do some talks. Well he never turned up, and despite repeatedly asking, no-one could explain why. In fact most staff seemed to be oblivious to the fact he was supposed to be on board - so for me this was very very disappointing. We were however lucky enough to have Rachel Allen the well known Irish cook/baker on board. She gave a lovely talk, and also signed copies of her book for us all So I really enjoyed by first cruise, would any of the negatives stop me returning... No.......... I just would not booked a cruise to see M.P.W. again !! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
A packed Ventura set sail on 7 April 2013 for an Easter holiday cruise down to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and La Coruna. Myself and two teenagers were in inside cabin C248- a perfectly acceptable cabin with no noise issues. The first night and ... Read More
A packed Ventura set sail on 7 April 2013 for an Easter holiday cruise down to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and La Coruna. Myself and two teenagers were in inside cabin C248- a perfectly acceptable cabin with no noise issues. The first night and day was marred by a force ten down the English channel and Bay of Biscay. Daughter was ill and loads of people wandering around clutching Ventura medical Centre invoices. Vigo- well a forgettable port. Just glad to get off. Go up the road by the tourist information Office and turn right for literally two minutes to find (left)the most packed mini market shop selling all goods in the suface area of a shoe box. Stocked up on Don Simon wine cartons at 1.45 euros each to put in the cabin fridge! Also cake thingys which would come in useful throughout. Next stop, Lisbon. Lisbon is hideous. Clearly the only industry thriving is that manufacturing paint spray cans. Crumbling and graffitied it is a sorry sight.Stayed 20 minutes. Into yet another area of low pressure heading north, the Captain had to throw away Oporto and we had to endure another rather boring day onboard, tempered only when the sun came out late afternoon. La Corunna was a nice surprise. Clean, well maintained and upmarket. Great British Sailaway- hmmm, I'm patriotic but is this bordering on the jingoistic? We were on freedom dining in Cinnamon- nice crew and reasonable food- I cannot say the food blew me away to be honest. This ship cannot cope on sea days with the breakfast bun fight. Two room service orders to overcome this were "lost" with no apology offered. Kids club good- although a few individuals a bit snooty. Casino was fun. Didn't sample any of the shows. Weather ruined the whole thing- not P and O's fault. Would not sail from Southampton again. Three out of three cruises in the past 12 months were ruined/altered due to the weather conditions. Hey ho. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
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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