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150 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

Background We are a retired couple in our 60s who have cruised about 8 or 10 times previously, only with P&O, mostly on the Oriana or Aurora, but once on Artemis. We have always wanted to go on a Maiden cruise - had imagined this ... Read More
Background We are a retired couple in our 60s who have cruised about 8 or 10 times previously, only with P&O, mostly on the Oriana or Aurora, but once on Artemis. We have always wanted to go on a Maiden cruise - had imagined this would be something unique, with special events and special entertainment. We made a reservation on the day bookings opened and got a "guarantee" cabin for the grade we had requested. We also subsequently added the one week cruise immediately following - visiting 4 ports on the Spanish and French Atlantic coast. Travel to Southampton We drove down to Southampton taking advantage of the free parking offered for this cruise. The queue from well outside the dock gates took an hour before we reached the unloading point. There was then quite a long queue (in the rain) before we got inside the terminal building. As "frequent" P&O cruisers we had the advantage of priority check-in once we were inside, but even that was quite slow due to the number of such passengers arriving. Once on board at 1.30pm our luggage arrived within a couple of hours. It may be that the long queues to reach the ship and subsequently to check-in were a result of this being the first time that P&O have had to embark so many passengers. The Ship Ventura is the first large ship in the P&O fleet - taking around 3,400 passengers I believe, as compared to 1,800 or so on the Oriana or Aurora. She is built to the standard we have come to expect with P&O - well fitted out, beautifully furnished, excellent artwork everywhere. As she is designed to attract a new type of cruise customer (families with young children), the lounges and public areas are more open and "walk-through" than we are used to and we felt the lack of quiet places to sit down in comfort and read or relax. The bars are all spacious, although the three largest - Havanna, Tamarind Club and Metropolis are regularly used for entertainment, much of which is relayed at a volume which appears to be designed for those who are hard of hearing. The theatre is outstanding - up to the class of the best London theatres, seating 750+, with comfortable seating and excellent production facilities. The Atrium and shopping area is OK with more shops and more space than we have seen on the smaller P&O ships. There is a limited library, but no dedicated library reading room as on the Oriana or Aurora. Our Cabin Our cabins - A622 on deck 12 for the Maiden Cruise and B406 on deck 11 for the one week follow-on cruise, were identical, with reasonable space, excellent furnishing, a terrific walk-in wardrobe area (more hanging space than we have seen on other ships) and a typical, adequate bathroom/toilet with shower. The cabin had a balcony with two semi-recliner chairs and a small coffee table. There was a flat screen TV, excellent tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge. Our cabin stewards were first rate as we have always found on P&O ships. One of the few snags we encountered with this brand new ship was that public area announcements could not be heard on one of the TV channels as stated, so every time anyone heard the sound of any announcement, everyone rushed to the door and stood in the corridor to listen...... A minor annoyance which should be put right quickly, we hope. The only other "snag" was, we believe, a sign of the times - some films on the TV were free to watch, others required a payment of a few pounds. Just another way that Carnival is seeking to increase income. A similar situation applied to cabin food service - some items were free, others required a payment. The TV has an "interactive" function where one can find messages (usually promoting services from the Spa, Photographers, Tours Team or Art Gallery) and a facility for checking the on-board account expenditure to date. TV channels included Sky News (UK version), BBC World and BBC Prime for nearly all of the time. One comment we would make - something to take into account when choosing a cabin with a balcony - is that the balconies on decks 10, 11 and 12 are set back from the side of the ship and are built vertically one above the other with decent privacy. But we could look straight down into the balconies of cabins on decks 8 and 9 which are staggered out (presumably give larger balcony and/or cabin size). We felt than the people on these lower decks at times felt quite uncomfortable with us looking down on them resting or having drinks or a meal. Dining There are two large self-service cafeterias on deck 15 which are open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, children's high tea, an evening meal and a limited midnight buffet. In practice some food is available from 6.30am until the early hours. The restaurants are bright and airy, but with limited space for serving food and the choices reflect that limit. Seating is insufficient at peak breakfast and lunchtimes, even with the small outside area at the stern and the few tables in the area around the covered pool. Breakfast and lunch are also served in one or two of the "main" restaurants, with waiter service. This was our preference on most occasions unless we wished to have a quick breakfast before going ashore. During the daytime there are two food bars on deck 15, one serving pizzas and the other burgers. These are free of charge. There is also an ice cream bar for which there is a charge. We had an excellent pizza for lunch on one occasion, but did not sample the burgers or ice cream. There are a number of evening meal options on Ventura, but at the time of booking it is necessary to make a choice for dinner between "Club" dining (the same table every evening at one of two restaurants - Baytree or Saffron - at either 6.30pm or 8.30pm) or "Freedom" dining - eating in a third main restaurant (The Cinnamon) at a time of your choice without reservation. We had chosen Club dining second sitting at a table for 8 and apart from one or two evenings when the galley was struggling to cope, we were seated promptly and looked after by excellent restaurant staff very well. We met some people who had chosen Freedom dining and heard that at peak times it was necessary to make a reservation the day before if you wished to eat at a particular time. In addition to all those eating options, there are three alternative dining venues for which there is a cover charge. The "White Room" - conceived and inspired by Marco Pierre White, we were told - had a charge of £20 per head for dinner on the Maiden Cruise, but this had increased to £25 per head for the following one-week cruise. "East" had a charge of £15 and £20 respectively and "Ramblas" also had a charge, but we did not enquire. We heard good reports of the White Room and it was fully booked by the second day of each cruise. The menu there did not attract us sufficiently to justify the additional charge. We did eat at East and had an excellent meal from an interesting menu. There did not appear to be any difficulty in getting reservations there. We did not sample Ramblas, but friends tried the Tapas snacks available in the bar area (I think is was 3 Tapas for £2.50) and said that this was very good. Several of these would make a light lunch. The food was generally good, although there are signs of economy in the choices available and the quality of some dishes and the reduction in provision of fresh vegetables.. Beef in particular, was of poor quality on several occasions and the "standby" offering of sirloin steak at dinner was inedible on a couple of occasions. Staff were very embarrassed about this and promptly offered an alternative. Meals came out from the galley ready plated - your choice of main course on a bed of rice, pasta or potatoes with minimal vegetable decoration and the waiters then added another potato choice and one vegetable of the day by silver service. There were 4 formal and 4 informal nights on the maiden cruise and 2 of each on the one week cruise. The rest were "smart casual". We were impressed that nearly everyone made the effort to comply with the dress code on formal nights and it was a pleasure to see even small children smartly kitted out - some even in scale size DJs! We suspect that those who chose not to "play the game" ate in the cafeteria on formal nights and kept clear of the main public areas. Daytime entertainment Much is made of "Cirque Ventura" - an area on the highest deck with equipment (and trained staff) for trampoline, flying trapeze, juggling, walking on stilts, etc. Workshops are held (for which there is a charge, I believe). This will appeal to young people, but only operated in good weather. There is limited space for deck quoits and shuffleboard and 4 table tennis tables. There are - as always - many scheduled daytime activities to suit most, but not all, tastes. But with the ships spending more days in port than at sea, these activities are less important. There are 4 swimming pools - none reserved for adults only - and plenty of sunloungers, so long as you are prepared to look around and not stay close to a pool. There is a comprehensive Spa and hairdressing / manicure salon. The steam room and sauna are not mixed sex on this ship which is a shame and the facilities did not therefore appear to be used much. There was much promotion of the various massage services available. The gym / fitness center was very good, although, to my shame, I only used it three times. Evening entertainment This is a very subjective matter and our comments can only reflect our own tastes. One overall comment - we found the music much too loud, especially in the shows performed in the Havanna venue. Even in the Metropolis bar we had to move away from the area where music was being played, in order to hold a conversation. Luckily we happened to carry earplugs in our luggage and we made use of them on several occasions…! There were 3 venues in use each night - the arena theatre, the Tamarind Club and Havanna. Each venue had three performances, enabling people to see 2 of the shows if they wished, as well as having dinner. The theatre company shows were terrific - the best we have seen on any P&O ship - and contained elements of dance, song and acrobatics. There was over-reliance on the lead male singer (an excellent voice, but finding it tough to perform 3 shows a night) which was a shame because there were other members of the team with good voices as well. We had a classical pianist on each cruise and both attracted a loyal following. The Tamarind Club was billed at the Ventura Comedy Club. There was a comedian or a duo there almost every night. We suspect that P&O have some way to go to discover and retain good comedians. Comedy needs to be good and reasonably sophisticated to attract a wide audience and when comedians have to rely on bad language, smut and sex in order to present an act, that is not to our taste. We feel that this is also not appropriate for an audience which includes young children (who were still around at the shows at 10.45pm) The other cabaret acts were sometimes OK, but not of the standard we have met on previous P&O cruises. This was particularly disappointing as we had expected the Maiden cruise, at least, to be something special and to have some top class entertainers. One act that did stand out was called "Legends" on the Maiden cruise. Children's facilities We did not have children with us. On the maiden cruise there were - we believe - only about 40 children on board. On the subsequent cruise there were 400 children. We were told there will be 800 or more on board during school holidays. We understand that the facilities for children are excellent and they certainly have a large dedicated area and dedicated staff to organize their day. For passengers without children, the impact of large numbers around the pools is significant. Ports On the maiden cruise we visited Barcelona, Villefranche, Livorno (for Florence), Santa Marghareta, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Alicante and Gibraltar. On the one week cruise we visited Vigo, Lisbon, Bilbao and Brest. We booked ship excursions (actually coaches to transport us to the city and back so we could "do our own thing") for Florence, Rome and Santiago de Compostella (from Vigo). The coach service was reliable and the attendant guide good on 2 occasions and poor on one. Elsewhere we explored locally, making use of the shuttle bus provided into town where appropriate. We like to explore on foot at our own pace, not in a crowd. We research for walks and sights of interest on the internet before each cruise and always try to find a suitable restaurant for an inexpensive lunch in a non-touristy area. We usually get recommendations by posting questions in the appropriate Forum in the sister website www.tripadvisor.com There was an initial problem with disembarkation by tender at Villefranche (the first time they had done this with a full complement of passengers) and on a couple of other occasions there were problems getting ashore because of a lack of shuttle buses to take passengers out of the port area. We hope these are teething problems which will be sorted. Final Disembarkation This operation ran smoothly and once we had remembered what color our suitcases were, we found then easily amongst the vast collection in the arrivals hall at Southampton. The car was easily found and the journey out and home uneventful. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Just got back from the second cruise of Ventura - P & Os new - and much hyped - cruise ship. This was our ninth cruise - tried different ships and different lines and - what a shame - this was our least enjoyable. We weren't ... Read More
Just got back from the second cruise of Ventura - P & Os new - and much hyped - cruise ship. This was our ninth cruise - tried different ships and different lines and - what a shame - this was our least enjoyable. We weren't expecting miracles from the Itinerary "Iberia" - done most of it before and knew it was nothing special - we came for the ship, but they might have told us Brest (in the rain) was closed for a Bank Holiday - we were lucky and heard it from early returnees. NB all transport was free - a plus point. It's actually a little difficult to nail down the reasons for our reaction - because nothing was terrible - or even poor - but then most of it was "fair" , with a little "good" thrown in. Cabin (balcony) was a good thing - reasonable size, fair layout - as good as most and better than one or two. Service was fair without being exceptional. Freedom dining was bit half-hearted - you could turn up and wait - or pre-book - which was a limited sort of freedom. Food in the restaurants was fair to good - but never outstanding - with oddly limited choice(3 starters?)We had pre-booked the White Room - (NB it booked out for the week the first night)that was good but not outstanding compared to other speciality restaurants on other ships)WE didn't try the speciality Oriental, East, which seemed over-priced at an extra £20 or the Spanish (OK at extra £5)They messed up my pre-booking and confirmation at the White Room something rotten - took 5 trips to get it right. The buffet restaurant was over-crowded and also severely limited in choice. Entertainment during the day, except for that for children, was almost non-existent - at least for our sort of thing - talks etc. Saw very little of any entertainments staff generally. Evening entertainment was mixed but on the whole a plus. The headline act of Brian Conley was excellent, and the dance and gymnastic troupe we thought outstanding. There was a show and another act each night and each gave three shows (a first for us). Some of the comedians in the Comedy Club were awful,and a special talk by Mark Williams really very poor - was he nervous or just terrible without a script? The public rooms and the Atrium and theatre were - OK again - never something special. If you saw the advertisement for the "special Scalextric" you were expecting something special - no, it was a track set up in one of the show -rooms - a bit pathetic really. I'm sure I saw a "puff" for a 3-D cinema - must check - there were films run in one of the show rooms but no actual cinema and no 3D. TV was a bit lazy - the channel for the Cruise Director never had anything on it for the whole cruise - other channels had "interactive" choices but all the good films were an extra charge,- quite a lot for children. The pools - there were several - two outdoor. My wife likes it warm so only ever uses indoor. The indoor pool was small and usually held lots of children. The Spa one was smaller and the current machine was broken throughout - she enjoyed the steam rooms though. I know they like extensive reviews here but I find them tedious so I'll close. When I re-read this it's difficult to explain why it was (as it was) a disappointment - but most experienced cruisers had the same reaction. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We took the second cruise from Southampton - Iberia cruise all along the Atlantic coast to Lisbon. Ports called at: Vigo, Lisbon, Balboa and Brest. The crew were unused to treating passengers - when asked for milk in the buffet for my ... Read More
We took the second cruise from Southampton - Iberia cruise all along the Atlantic coast to Lisbon. Ports called at: Vigo, Lisbon, Balboa and Brest. The crew were unused to treating passengers - when asked for milk in the buffet for my coffee I was shown the pre-packed little cartons - not what I wanted and it took a while to get the staff to understand that I wanted "real" milk - and help was not offered without asking! We waited in traffic for 2 hours to get to the ship and onboard - the docks at Southampton are not used to dealing with 3 very large ships. (Queen Victoria-3000 passengers and the Independence of the Seas- 4000 passengers (maiden voyage) and us with 3000. Makes me tired just thinking of all the numbers!! Room very clean - but overall the ship seems very bland - no wow factor - aimed at the family market - so there is a large area purely for children - no adults. The casino shares space with a general use bar - no real comfortable seating - and noisy - they held the bingo here and with all the slots going it was hard work. The smell of smoke and the haze it created not good either Bar staff in general did not seem terribly interested in serving you - in fact in the theatre we gave up and sent the men out to get the drinks - hope it improves. The entertainment was excellent - they had one night only well known faces ( for UK people) and the caliber of the onboard entertainers was good - Chronicles was the only thing I did not like too much - a personal thing. Sea days did not seem to have any activities. Shops very expensive. Food - hit and miss when it was good it was very good - if not very plain and boring - the staff again did not engage with us - except for our wine waiter Roel - excellent - by the second day we were ordering our wine for the next day and getting the bar ordered for the men. 5 stars to him!! If you wanted the new Marco Pierre White onboard restaurant - tough it was fully booked before we left! We asked about lunch service on sea days - NO! The SMELL - yuck - the Tamarind Bar had a problem for 4 nights with the overpowering smell of sewage - it got worse - and then completely disappeared! We found general seating on the ship to be hard and modern - hope it wears in a bit - the bar at the back on the top - Metropolis was great for the backdrops ( moving to different areas of the world, themed nightly). My husband not happy that bars closed - even when it was full of people still drinking! The Havana Club needs a refit immediately - the lined lights are awful and you cannot see over them to the stage or dance floor! This was a first for me on a P&O ship and lots of people complained about the lack of service, smell and told us that Aurora and Oriana were much better and not to judge the whole fleet on the basis of this cruise - so I shall pass the information along! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was our 2nd P&O cruise, the 1st one was on Arcadia and we have cruised a number of times with Celebrity and RCI.I am 38 and my husband is 45, no kids. We chose this cruise as it was only 7 nights and would give us a chance to try ... Read More
This was our 2nd P&O cruise, the 1st one was on Arcadia and we have cruised a number of times with Celebrity and RCI.I am 38 and my husband is 45, no kids. We chose this cruise as it was only 7 nights and would give us a chance to try the much anticipated new P&O ship. Embarkation at Southampton was relatively smooth although we did arrive a little bit too early to park the car so had to wait half an hour or so until previous passengers had finished disembarking! The ship: The design of the ship doesn't 'flow' too well, mainly because of the different dining rooms, you have to walk down to the Bay Tree because the galley is in between. We did miss the grand multi level dining rooms of RCI and Celebrity; also there is no background music whole you dine which would have been nice. We also missed the lack of a walking/jogging track on the open decks, again this is due to the fact you can't walk all round the pool decks on one level. However the main pool does have a retractable roof which makes it an all weather venue. Public Rooms: We thought the choice of bars was fantastic, we especially liked the Metropolis at the top of the ship with its video wall of a different city sunset every evening with themed cocktails and drinks to match, very sophisticated! Ramblas was also a great venue and we enjoyed the tapas (£2.50 for 3). The Tamarind Club and the Red Bar are also very opulent, swish drinking venues! The atrium doesn't have an immediate WOW factor but it's a pleasant area with four huge black granite arches and comfy sitting areas. Entertainment: The entertainment was outstanding; I think they must have fit 2 weeks worth of shows into one. The production shows were all highly enjoyable especially Masquerade a Andrew Lloyd Webber extravaganza and the Saturday Night Fever show was as good as the West End. The couple who do the acrobatics and aerial performances were amazing and they featured in all the production shows. Brian Conley came onboard in Lisbon and packed the theatre with his hilarious show. There was also the Dusty Springfield tribute and the actor Mark Williams (from the Fast show and Harry Potter films) gave a talk about his career as well as live bands in various venues so really there was no chance to be bored in the evenings! The food: On the whole we enjoyed our meals. We ate in the Bay tree restaurant although there were only 4 of us on a table for 8. There should have been others but they didn't show so I felt sorry as the waiters would be down on their tips. The food was very good and well presented and we enjoyed all our meals there. We ate in the White Room and was glad I pre purchased the gift package at the price of £46.50 for dinner for 2 with a bottle of red or white Chilean wine as it worked out cheaper than paying £20 per person just for the dinner. The service in there was very good and it had a nice relaxed atmosphere. We enjoyed the food although I wasn't wowed like I am with the specialty restaurants on the Celebrity ships, but a very pleasant evening all told. We didn't dine at East, the Asian specialty restaurant purely for the fact we had such good meals in the dining room although we would have dined there if we were on a longer cruise. The buffet restaurants were an improvement on the Arcadia's limited choices, the Beach House being better to navigate than the Waterside as you couldn't walk from one side to the other without having to go all the way out and back in again! We didn't dine there very often but when we did we enjoyed the food especially the curries! Our cabin: We chose a balcony cabin on C deck which proved to be a good choice as the balconies on this deck are double depth to the other decks. It was a nice quiet area towards the aft, our cabin steward, Cezar did his job very well and we liked the tea and coffee tray which you don't get on any of the American ships! The interactive TV kept freezing up but they seemed to have rectified this by the end of the cruise .When it worked there were loads of film and TV programmes and music videos to watch on demand. You can also check your on board account. Fitness facilities: The Oasis pool was supposed to be a relaxing adults only area but there is a sports court above it so the atmosphere is somewhat spoilt by the sounds of golf balls and the like! Also the endless pool feature was not working due to it being damaged by rough weather on the previous cruise, which brings me to another comment. I have read that the ship doesn't handle rough seas too well. We were very fortunate to have very calm seas but one of the spa staff commented that a lot of people were sea sick when the ship was in rough seas because of the flat bottomed design. I have to say that we once saw the Golden Princess (same design as Ventura) pitching and rolling terribly whilst we felt very little movement on the Zenith which was a much smaller ship, so there may be some truth in that. The gym was well equipped with all the latest fitness equipment. They did run some fitness classes, like Pilates, Zumba and spinning but these required you to sign up for 3 at £21.00, I was a little disappointed that they didn't have any free step or aerobics classes although I'm sure they will have on longer cruises. The spa was extensive and expensive; they even had a qualified dentist who would whiten your teeth for £198! Some of the treatments were discounted by 20% on port days. Ports visited: After a day at sea we arrived at Vigo in Northern Spain. The main attraction from this port is Santiago de Compostela and there were many ships tours offering this, however we decided to just have a wander around the old town and sample the wonderful seafood the region is famous for. About 5 mins walk from the ship is an area where they sell plates of fresh oysters for 8 euros a dozen and my husband was in heaven! It was nice to mingle with the locals and enjoy a glass of wine or 2! The next day we arrived in Lisbon after a spectacular approach under the suspension bridge. We took the free shuttle bus into the city centre and again sampled some of the local fare and wandered around the streets. After a nice sunny calm day at sea we arrived in Bilbao, Spain. The ship docks 10km from the town centre so another free shuttle service was provided. We really liked Bilbao and could definitely spend a weekend there; the old town was wonderful with lots off trendy tapas bars and great shops. Another attraction here is the modern Guggenheim art museum which the old couple on our table thought was a complete waste of time, of course if you are into modern art I'm sure it is a must see! Our final port of call was Brest in France which was unfortunately a bit of a let down as it was raining and also a public holiday in France. The majority of shops and cafes were closed so we would have been better off staying on the ship! I'm sure when the sun shines and the shops are open its a completely different place. Disembarkation: This went very smoothly, we were off the ship by 9.30 and the car park was only a short walk with a luggage cart,(porters were available if needed). In conclusion, we enjoyed our week on the Ventura, if we could find a ship with the design of Royal Caribbean, the food and service of Celebrity and the entertainment and reasonably priced drinks of P&O that would be the perfect combination, until then we will just have to keep sailing on all of them! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
It's been about a week and a bit since we got back from our cruise, and finally am on top of the washing for me to be able to put down a proper review.Our cruise to tbe Baltics on Ventura (booked when they first opened bookings last ... Read More
It's been about a week and a bit since we got back from our cruise, and finally am on top of the washing for me to be able to put down a proper review.Our cruise to tbe Baltics on Ventura (booked when they first opened bookings last year!), was the first for me and my two sons.  The wife has been on Oriana before.Firstly, I will say that the new Ocean Terminal in Southampton, very efficient, and was impressed at how easy it was to not only get in, but how organised the embarkation was, it took about an hour from dropping the car off to being onboard.One matter that did keep recurring on the ship was the issue of the Norovirus that had been evident from a previous cruise.  Although you can see most staff were doing their best to play the seriousness of it down, the ship was in a state of red alert.  I think by the end of the cruise, the norovirus was pretty much contained, though it'll always be there.Took a while to get my bearings around the ship, found a few dead-ends sometimes, but that wasn't a problem.  The Tamarind club felt like it was a corridor most of the time which was strange, the Havana club is a nice layout at the back of the ship, and did host the Scalextric sessions during ship days.  Have to admit, I was a tad disappointed with the Scalextric, as I was anticipating a huge layout, and found one that was roughly 12' by 8', and also kept breaking down, but it was fun while it worked, especially when an octogenarian Iris, beat the pants off hardened boy-racers!!The Waterside restaurant was supposed to be self-serve, but due to the norovirus, had to be manned, which made it a manic visit in there and finding seats could be difficult.  Secret here is, don't be afraid to share a table with people, a cruise is supposed to be a sociable thing.  You wouldn't believe that a few times people just didn't want you sat at 'their' table!!  Each breakfast and evening we ate in Saffron, and our waiters were Rajesh and Santosh, two top blokes, very attentive and nothing was too much trouble.  Our wine waiter was Sid, who we found to be a great guy as well, and helpful.  The dinner menu's we found to be on the whole really nice, a good variety.  Yeah there were a few times things didn't go quite to plan, but they were sorted out quickly.Breakfast times, however were absolutely manic, and at times disjointed.  One other issue we found was that although we had asked to be put on a large table, we were put on a small table for four, which at times was a very tight squeeze.  Head Waiter was unable to move us, and even at breakfast times, we were put on the small tables, so did feel that although P&O advertise this as more of a family orientated ship, we were segregated from other people because we were a family.  But I digress.Reports from the boys about the kids clubs were that they were fantastic, and when we got onboard, found a good schedule for the whole cruise, and the boys were never bored, and at times, hardly saw them.  Think it helped on this cruise that there were only 80 children onboard.  Facilities in the kids clubs were good, and they defo liked the Cirque Ventura when it worked (weather permitting!)Disappointed that we never saw the captain, think at best I saw the Staff Captain about two or three times, but due to the norovirus, the Captain's Reception/Gala, was cancelled.  Most people were disappointed with this, which I concur with. Not expecting to become best friends with them, but to either hear or see the Captain now and then would be nice.Photographers on the ship have a difficult job in parts getting their photos right, and we found two stood out from the rest.  Lynette was defo one of them, and another chap whose name I forgot was the other, but they had a natural flair for it, and more often than not we bought some of their photos.There were four formal nights, and the rest was smart casual.  Formal nights were great, wife loves them, as she has a bit of a wardrobe for this, including her favourite blue sky dress.  Smart casual is something I take issue with.  Many a time I saw people wearing t-shirt and jeans in there.  Was not impressed with this, especially if in the case of my two boys, we were more dressed informally with ties and shirts for me and the boys, and a smart dress for the wife.  Think they need to have informal nights to maintain a decent standard.Cleanliness of the ship was patchy, with some of the cleaners either over-zealous, or slack.  Found the Arena theatre is way too small, and I think many people were disappointed to miss out on some good shows.The astronomy talks by de St. Croix (sp?) were well done, and if you do a Baltics cruise to Russia, hopefully you will get the guy we had, who knows everything about Faberge, Russian Dolls and all things Russian.We opted for an part-obstructed oceanview cabin with pullmans, but the view wasn't really obstructed, and was nice and comfortable, bigger than we anticipated.To summarise, although the cruise was a nice one, and we didn't let the few days of bad weather ruin things, just felt there was something missing.  Still can't put  my finger on it.  Will say wife and I were well rested after the holiday, which at the end of the day, says that it's worth it. I just think that the ship could have had a few better features on it, and I don't feel I got the true P&O feeling that I was expecting.Still the wife and the kids, plus mother-in-law are booked on Azura next year, so be interesting to see how it compares.  For me, the Baltics are definitely an area I would recommend you visit once or twice in your life.Would I go on P&O again?  Probably, but more than likely not on Ventura, unless I know that they've got on top of the ships issues.  There are so many other cruise companies out there with nice ships, you've got to try them all!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I will try to be positive but it's quite difficult.  You just got the impression that P&O and the crew found this ship just a bit beyond their capabilities.  You also feel Royal Caribbean would have had no such problems. We ... Read More
I will try to be positive but it's quite difficult.  You just got the impression that P&O and the crew found this ship just a bit beyond their capabilities.  You also feel Royal Caribbean would have had no such problems. We have only cruised once before - two years ago on Navigator Of The Seas.  A great ship, well run.  But we liked the Baltic city itinerary and fancied being a bit "posher" with P&O (or so we thought). So let's start with some positives: The evening meals in the formal restaurants were great.  Food was good quality and hot.  Good choice.  This was the best part of the ship.  We also enjoyed the made to order pizzas near the pool.  The buffet restaurant seemed to be liked by many but it was poor compared to Royal Caribbean. Freedom dining:  This worked well on the whole and we'd certainly take this option again. Bar prices are reasonable - basic pub prices. The deck space is good.  Lots of sun beds in a variety of locations but also options for chairs and tables. Good variety in the entertainment locations and seminar options. A well equipped gym.  I loved the mountain bikes with the screens to race round various tracks. Contrary to other reviews we've seen, we actually liked the cruise's entertainment director - his jokes were corny but funny. There are a number of good things on Ventura but some things you shouldn't have to experience: Getting late into ports.  We lost two hours of our visit to Copenhagen due to lateness and then being docked miles out from town despite all the information saying we would be close to the Mermaid statue.  Spoilt our plans for the day as there wasn't enough time.  We were also late for the next port. Queues - everywhere.  At least this was the case during the first week.  For breakfast, lunch, dinner; to get off the ship, to get a ticket for the shuttle. Seemed to get better in the second week, but that may have been that we went later to everything and avoided the queues. Lateness of programmed events.  On several occasions we were kept waiting whilst previous events were running late.  At one point, as paying customers, we were kept waiting outside the Tamarind Club for the Salsa class whilst a band rehearsed.  That was extremely poor. A dirty ship due to lack of cleaning (see below). The worst reception staff I've ever come across.  Never helped once.  They were content to simply say, "Your steward should deal with that" and never make sure it was dealt with for you.  If you wanted a form they never had copies at reception.  Instead you even had to see your cabin steward for the memo detailing how you should tip your steward!  We logged a fault with our bathroom on the second day - and then again on the fifth - but nothing was ever done about it. Add to that that we were told on arrival on the ship that they had experienced the dreaded Novo virus from the end of the previous cruise and would need to put various measures in place.  I'm not qualified to know whether the measures they took were sensible or appropriate but they certainly impacted badly on the cruise experience.  These measures included:   ·         Making the self-service Waterside buffet restaurant into a served one.  This meant staff standing serving everything in a space not designed for them - causing congestion. Closing the Beach House restaurant - because they were using the staff at Waterside.  This didn't open for the entire cruise. Not vacuuming anywhere. So by the end of the cruise the cabins and corridors were really dirty.  In the last few days some passengers, including myself were getting bitten. Introducing bacterial hand wash - as if this was not standard practice. Cancelling the Captain's Gala.  Additionally the captain was not to be seen by anyone until into the second week.  Rumours were going round that he wasn't on board - he was that invisible.  He took the Sunday service on the second week and was never seen again. Our cabin was fine.  We only went for the basic inside cabin - we don't intend to spend our cruise in there.  The same cabin type on Navigator meant a bigger space with a sofa, but we liked having the fridge plus tea and filter coffee. We enjoyed the dance classes and the opportunity to practice in the evenings.  But the dance floor was woefully small and unable to cope with the numbers. On the whole the entertainment was fine.  The shows were good but some of the solo singers were "samey".  The ships group, Powerhouse, were excellent.   Talks were good - we particularly enjoyed hearing Derek Redmond.  Entertainment was more varied and better quality on Navigator. We did enjoy the cities visited - Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Oslo all excellent. Overall, great places to go, but there's got to be a better ship to see it from.  You never felt there was anyone that really cared what you thought or that everything was okay for you.  Another itinerary, with better weather and no stomach virus going around, maybe others will think the ship is great.  At the end of the day we went to some great places and ate lots, morning noon and night.  So can't be a bad way to spend two weeks.  Will we cruise again?  Yes - in a couple of years, probably.  On P&O?  Possibly, but they are quite far down the list now.  We'd prefer to go back to Royal Caribbean.   On Ventura?  Seems very unlikely. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
My Son George (age 12) and I are veterans of many cruises! We have been on Princess many times (we are both big fans, my son especially of the foods. The pancakes at breakfast live on in his imagination), Holland America once(but I am sure ... Read More
My Son George (age 12) and I are veterans of many cruises! We have been on Princess many times (we are both big fans, my son especially of the foods. The pancakes at breakfast live on in his imagination), Holland America once(but I am sure that will be repeated as they were excellent)and once on Cunard (which we found a bit stuffy, frankly). So this past Easter we decided to try cruising British style from Southampton. I should explain we are both English and resident in Sussex so getting to the Port in 3 hours was a dream start, compared with the delights of Terminal 5 and a 10 hour flight! We arrived early, about midday, and had a super fast check in. In about 15 minutes we were on board, which was wonderful. Our cabin was lovely: a deluxe balcony, with a proper bath room and full size bath. That made a nice change from some American ship bathrooms,which have been so small that I have had to rest my leg on the basin, whilst still in the shower, in order to do my legs! The toiletries on board were Temple Spa and very high end indeed. Of course, George was far more impressed with the TV system that had a channel showing Top Gear and Jonathan Creek 24/7. The ship is large, but the design was virtually identical to the Crown Princess that we had cruised on recently, so we instinctively knew our way around. The Positives: sounds silly, but I hate a build up of dirty laundry, so I was very pleased with plentiful and free (!) washing machines and tumble dryers. As I had brought my own detergent and softener (I told you I need to get out more...) I was in laundry heaven. The speciality restaurants were outstanding and worth the price of admission alone. My son and I ate at The White Room 5 times! It was amazing: service, food and location, although at the top of the ship (deck 17) it did tend to sway a bit in high wind. Not that this put my son off his steak... The pools were really well designed, but on sunny days they were very crowded. The Pizza and Burger restaurants on Lido deck were very good. The kids club was very lively and my son discovered class mate on the same cruise! What are the odds of that! The Port excursions were good value and cheaper than we had paid on some American lines. There was a speciality coffee shop called Tazzine that served fab coffee and had great staff, so we became regulars there. The Negatives: some staff had a real attitude problem, especially the Lido deck bar staff. They could be quite rude and off hand. Other staff, like our steward, were just lovely. The food was quite variable: other than the speciality restaurants, we found the food not much better than acceptable and breakfasts in particular were ordinary. The entertainment was a bit too "Butlins" for our tastes. Sounds so snobby, which we are not, but I suppose George and I really prefer spending evenings in our cabin, where we play poker for chocolates (he always wins, I swear he cheats) The weather was pretty lousy: high winds and not a lot of sun, so we were very disappointed in that, but not P & O's fault. Excursions and Ports: We loved Gran Canaria and enjoyed a trip on a submarine. Good value and great for kids. Lisbon was excellent, and coming in to dock under the bridge and past the great statute of Christ the King when the sun was coming up, was just breathtaking. The weather in Tenerife was dreadful so we stayed on board. Madeira was cold. We had arranged a dolphin watching trip which was good and we saw plenty of dolphins, but the cold wind was a little too brisk. In the other ports, like Vigo and Cadiz, we just wandered around under our own steam. Conclusion: we enjoyed the cruise, but will probably not choose P & O again, simply because the trip made us yearn for turquoise blue Caribbean seas. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and ... Read More
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and O since the Worldie in 2008 since when we have been with Cunard, RCI and Celebrity Sat 5th June We left Chelmsford at 0930 and my inbuilt SmartNav certainly earned its keep on this 130 mile journey. It found delays on the M 25 where the M1 joins and took us across on the A404 to rejoin further down, then before the M3 junction and we had a trip bringing back memories down the A30 before rejoining the M3 which had a further problem in the Winchester area which meant a further deviation eventually arriving 3 ½ hours later. One of our table companions lives 10 miles nearer and it took him 4 ½ hours. Then we were stacked in lines by CPS not helped by getting a text from Iain on the Independence of the Seas saying he and Lynn were having their first drink of the day. Once in the terminal building we were directed to the assisted disabled check in which was so busy we were asked to sit and wait so opted to use the Gold Members' check in which took just a couple of minutes and so looked forward to our first ever Goldie drinks. Wrong !!! None available. We found our disabled balcony cabin which was superb as expected and ventured up to the buffet lunch where at least I could buy a proper English beer. On the way back we tried the disabled access out onto the Promenade deck but I got stuck and Rosemary was amused when the passenger helping me said "take it steady Pop" !! After lifeboat drill the Captain allowed Grand Princess and Independence sail out past us and I could just imagine Iain and Lynn enjoying their Diamond free drinks !! We were on second sitting dinner in the Saffron restaurant and had a lively table for eight but we found it strange they were all British. After the first night the waiters encouraged me to take my scooter to within a couple of feet from the table. On the way someone shouted "there's Norman on his scooter" and disappeared. We thought it might be Iain's friends who were also on the ship but turns out they were lurkers on WLC (told us their names but of course I have forgotten them). We did meet Iain's friends later in the week in La Rochelle Sunday 6th June A comfortable crossing of the Bay of Biscay and although Rosemary went to Line Dancing we didn't do much at all. I did ring housekeeping as we didn't have our bath robes. A house keeping officer soon appeared to say we were not entitled to robes as these were only for those in superior balcony cabins and above and our super cabin was not a superior grade and even our Goldie status didn't qualify for one. I explained that our friends on Oriana had them but he replied that on Oriana they only had standard cabins anyway. I asked to speak with a senior officer to explain that P and O's policy was so outdated compared with RCI, Cunard and Celebrity but all that happened was they said my complaint would be logged and sent to shore side. Come on P and O get with it !! We did like the idea of the pre dinner 7.30 pm shows and noted that P and O now serve drinks like they do on the American ships and there are aircraft style drinks tables. We can't remember having seen Mike Doyle before but he was brilliant. This was followed by the Captain's cocktail party which we were surprised was held in the atrium with no seats available although I was on my scooter. Drinks flowed freely provided you wanted gin and tonic or white wine. We did learn there were over 1100 first time cruisers on this ship. Dress code was fairly OK in the dining room but not too good in other parts of the ship. Monday 7th June La Curuna Moored very close to town we had a walk by the Marina and as the sun came out realised we had left the sun screen in the cabin so had to get some from a local chemist after which we continued across the peninsular to the beach. There was a magnificent promenade with wonderful disabled access and also a vintage tram which followed the coast but curiously no bars or restaurants so we wandered back to the ship for lunch. Our Goldie presents arrived today which were two boxes each containing three miniature bottle of spirits - a nice change from the rubbish we have had in the past. Again we went to the pre dinner show which was Martin Daniels. I first saw Paul his dad before he became famous and Martin tonight was so funny I and the lady sat in front of me had tissues out to wipe the tears of laughter from our eyes. Disabled access to the theatre was superb although there were no designated seats for carers like we found on Oriana. We started going for after dinner drinks in the Metropolis and the first night the video wall was was set in Sydney right where we were berthed on Aurora and Oriana so that brought back memories. There were other entertainment venues one of which was Tamorind but we could never get a seat in there and the Exchange pub which we both found was a depressing place and the train never was working - the barman said it was the effect of volcanic ash !! I should have said I am finding the food at dinner quite acceptable especially as I found out the a prawn cocktail is always available as a starter. I was surprised when I asked for a steak knife because of my arthritic hands to be told they do not have steak knives on this ship !! The waiters were very good though and always asked if I wanted the meat cut up. Amazing having found out that one couple (American) who were on our table on the Constellation will be with us on the first leg of our Celebrity Equinox Cruise next January one couple on our table this time are booked on the second leg of that same cruise. Tuesday 8th June Bilbao Free shuttle buses were provided (they had taken the trouble to phone me earlier to say that disabled transport might not be available but with Rosemary's help I can get into a coach and the scooter goes in the luggage compartment) but as the weather was cloudy and the bus journey time was 45 minutes we decided to just have a wander round the marina area and beach and returned to the ship for lunch before it rained. Wednesday 9th June La Rochelle I've just found a note on my iPod that there were horrendous queues for breakfast in the buffet area yesterday morning - something I've not come across on other ships. P and O again laid on free shuttle buses for the 20 minute journey into town. They were using a mixture of coaches and bendy buses and the latter had driver operated electric ramps so fine for disabled users. After a wander round we chose a tent covered outside restaurant where Rosemary had her long awaited Moules and chips and being boring like I am joined her with a mushroom omelette all of course washed down with wine. During this time it was raining but they extended the tent top to cover my scooter. Fortunately it had stopped by the time we left and just as well it had as we met Iain's friend who introduced himself and warned us of a very lengthy shuttle bus queue. My word indeed it was and it disappeared out of sight around two street corners !! Everyone of course was moaning and there were no taxis to be seen and we felt sorry for oldies having to stand whilst I was sitting on the scooter. I suppose it was just over half an hour before we boarded and on sailaway the captain apologised and said it was due to some of the French bus drivers deciding to go to lunch. Thursday 10th June Brest/Quimper We had booked the P and O tour to Quimper (a one hour journey)where the coach just drops you off for three hours and I would confirm that P and O still offer the best service to disabled passengers on tour. Stickers delivered to the cabin the night before and a big personalised reserved poster on the front seat of the coach. As Amanda and Karen had commented a few weeks ago it is a lovely place but unlike for them the weather again was not too good. However, we found a creperie and indulged. After a big savoury one we both plumped for the sweet one which is flambEed at the table and served with ice cream. Well it was Rosemary's birthday and we had decided not to pay the £25.00 per person for the White Room as the menu did not excite (MPW was on board until we got to Bilbao). On Oriana Rhodes it was only £15.00 reduced to £10.00 for your birthday. East appeared nearly empty most nights but I don't like Indian food anyway. Oh and the waiters do not sing at the table now unless you pay for it (I presume) as one or two did have the singing during the week. Friday 11th June Guernsey At last the weather started to improve and we met our friends from the dinner table on the last Worldie who live there. We only had to wait about 15 minutes to be called for the tender and they didn't hesitate to load my scooter onto the tender (Cunard please note !!). Then when we got a call from our friends who we weren't able to contact whilst waiting to say they were picking us up P and O took the scooter back to the ship for me. Saturday 12th June We had tickets for a 9.00 am departure and were called 15 minutes early. The porter loaded the car with my spare keys while I waited at the CPS kiosk and unlike the journey down we had no problems and were home in 2 ½ hours. Summary I am really trying to make any criticism constructive so let's start off with the positives. This cruise in a super disabled access cabin was only £78 per day (after our credit) P and O wine prices were cheaper than others and so were the drinks although the latter can be offset by the strength of the drinks. P and O also let you take on board drinks to have in your cabin P and O are amongst the best for looking after their disabled passengers (once you can persuade them to let you have a disabled access cabin). For official tours they are THE best. The entertainment was very good and being on second sitting we enjoyed the pre dinner shows. The CD Leon de la Croix is the best afloat. Ventura had good disabled access except for getting out onto the Prom deck Despite recent postings on cruise sites the food was good and the silver service they have retained was welcome. The price for alternative dining was high however. Having tea and coffee making in the cabin is also a welcome P and O treat (but I have read somewhere that Eclipse will offer this) Free shuttle buses As for the ship itself the main problem was getting lost !! We have a lot of experience of big ships but were still getting lost on the last day. The big problem was that you can't walk right through the ship and not all lifts go to all areas all of which was not helped by very poor signing. Finding a sign was one problem - reading it was another. The ship as I have said was packed and finding a seat in the alternative entertainment venue was almost impossible (Tamorind ?) The exchange pub didn't appeal to either of us but we both enjoyed the ambience and music in the Metropolis. The buffet area was again very crowded and not once did anyone offer any help (except Rosemary of course !) We were used to P and O charging for fruit juice at lunchtime but they also charge for ice cream and I also noticed flicking through the room service menu that a lot of items were at an extra cost. Bar service in the buffet was good however. We did enjoy the experience but found five ports in five days was hard work and we were unfortunate with the weather. I can understand lovers of Oriana and Aurora not liking this ship and I thought maybe P and O were trying to compete with RCI but Amanda on WLC suggested that they are trying to fill the void being left by Ocean Village. Maybe the next decent offer we get from P and O will be on Arcadia but we do now have three booked on Celebrity Norman Kerridge June 2010 PS I do have my video on line http://www.vimeo.com/13427851 Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Note:- Embarkation was at Southampton, which is not London!!! The cruise was to northern Spain and Western France (La Coruña, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Brest). This was our 9th cruise but only the second time on P&O and the first ... Read More
Note:- Embarkation was at Southampton, which is not London!!! The cruise was to northern Spain and Western France (La Coruña, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Brest). This was our 9th cruise but only the second time on P&O and the first time on Ventura.We arrived at Southampton at our allotted time of 2pm, and waited 55 minutes to drop off the car. A further queue of 30 minutes to check in and 15 minutes to get through security meant we didn't get to our cabin until 3:45. This was almost as bad as flying! However, our luggage arrived at the cabin before we did, and things started to look up.Although it doesn't have a cinema or a forward observation lounge, Ventura is a lovely ship. It has a narrow promenade deck (so narrow in places that two people cannot pass in comfort), and in calm weather the promenade continues up a flight of stairs to a wide sheltered deck that goes all the way to the bow. It has very good children's facilities, and absorbs the little darlings well. I preferred Ventura to Queen Victoria! I loved the atrium and the way each bar and public room has its own distinctive style. In fact the whole ship is stylish and elegant. It's a pity the same cannot be said of some of the passengers! The dress code (in the public rooms) was not enforced and was ignored by a sizeable minority. On the first formal night, I saw men wearing football shirts and jeans, one man was wearing a baseball cap, and some young women in ankle boots and skirts that barely covered their backsides looked as if they were dressed for walking round Kings Cross rather than a 4 star cruise ship. This apparel wouldn't even make the grade for smart casual, never mind formal. There were also a large minority of traditionalists who wore jacket and tie on the smart casual nights. I think P&O's experiment of trying to cater for the Ocean Village crowd on Ventura and Oceana is a failure, is devaluing the brand, and damaging the reputation that they have built up over 175 years. They really should reinstate the Ocean Village brand, transfer these ships to it, and maintain the published standards on the true P&O ships. There is clearly a market for informal cruising, that at the moment is only met to a limited extent by NCL.The ship has an irritating vibration which shakes you from side to side about twice a second when you are lying in bed. It didn't stop me falling asleep, but it did wake me up in the wee small hours every day. I can only assume it is the natural resonance of the ship itself rather than an engine vibration, as we were midships on deck 10.The drinks were very reasonably priced, and it was nice to be able to get a good choice of wines by the glass. We enjoyed the wide choice of restaurants, and the food and service in East was superb. I loved the cabin and the large balcony. I like the ability to review our account on the TV. The 5% discount on the final bill (as Portunus club members) was appreciated, as were the free shuttle buses.I started by writing about the long wait to check-in. Getting off at the end was a doddle. We opted for "self help" disembarkation. After a good breakfast in the Waterside buffet, we walked off the ship with our luggage just before 08:30, and were in the car and on the way home 10 minutes later.Some of the staff on Ventura are very good, a handful are excellent, a lot are poor. If I saw a bargain basement price and a good itinerary I might cruise on Ventura again, but it's not what I had hoped for from P&O. The standards are not consistent, and you could have a good or bad cruise on this ship - it's all a matter of luck and which staff you interact with. P&O has slipped well down the list of lines we are likely to use again, which is a pity as I enjoyed my earlier cruise on Aurora very much, and she remains my favourite cruise ship. DININGThe quality of the food and its service varied from poor to excellent depending on the venue.We had asked for either a table for two or freedom dining, but were allocated a table for 10. We had planned to eat several times in the "select dining" venues, so we never actually went to our allocated table.We ate twice in the White Room (on the two formal nights). The food was good basic Italian, but not fine dining and with a £25 cover charge (they increase the charge from £20 to £25 on short cruises) it was not good value for money. The crab linguine starter was nice, but uses quite cheap ingredients. The prawn starter was excellent. The rack of lamb was superb. The lobster spaghetti was OK - the small half lobster that topped the spaghetti was good, but the lobster meat in the spaghetti was tough and the spaghetti was slightly overcooked. The tiramisu, in my opinion, was not as good as Marks & Spencer - very creamy but without much flavour. The service was poor. I kept having to ask for more water, and our wine glasses were not topped up often enough (mine ran dry at one point). The second night we ate there, the aperitif glasses were not cleared until the end of the meal.We ate three times in East. The food and service were both superb. The waiting staff in East are all female and Filipino. Our waitress made a point of addressing us both by name (this was the only place on the ship that this happened). The fillet steak was amazing, and of a different quality to the ones they serve in the Beach House for their Surf & Turf. It was a world apart from anywhere else on the ship. The £20 cover charge was worth it, and the £15 cover charge on the longer cruises would be good value for money.We had planned to eat in Ramblas one evening (or "Ramblers" as the CD insisted on calling it!), but we were told we would have to wait half an hour for a table. We went to wait in the bar area, and were then asked if we would eat there instead. We didn't want to do that, so went up to the Beach House, where again we were told there would be a wait of at least half an hour. By this time it was 8:45, so we went down to Cinnamon, the freedom dining restaurant, and threw ourselves on the mercy of the Maitre d', who allowed us to eat there for one night only. The food and service in Cinnamon were both good, and there were plenty of spare seats. Given that many people don't want to dress for dinner (even to a "smart casual" standard) and that the Beach House, Waterside buffet, and Ramblas were all full, I think Ventura has the capacity to make freedom dining in the main restaurants more accessible . There was a big waiting list for Freedom Dining and with three restaurants I think P&O should work harder to balance supply and demand, and keep their customers happy.We had breakfast three times in our cabin. Although the room service menu is limited, and some quite basic items have to be paid for, the continental breakfast was substantial, and when ordered the day before through the TV turned up on time. However, on our second sea day we intended going to the MDR but overslept and woke up at 9:30. We turned the TV on, and there was still an option to order continental breakfast for 09:30 to 10:00 (and later times), which we did. At 10:15, I called room service to make sure they had the order. They looked for it, found it, and said they would send it. Breakfast came at around 10:55, and the steward who delivered it said we should have ordered it the day before (so why still have it as an option on the morning? Bad organisation, bad service!) We also used room service once for a late lunch on a port day. We had pizza which was free, very good, and piping hot, but it took more than half an hour to arrive.We went to the buffet a couple of times at tea time. The choice was very limited (compared to Celebrity and Princess), and the service area was extremely small and cramped. The buffet closed between 5pm and 6pm. We were not impressed by this. We have dinner late, and if we have missed lunch we often like a light snack at this time.We had lunch in the main dining room three times, but on the first two occasions had trouble getting a table for two. We were told to come back after 10 minutes, and then come back again after half an hour. We did eventually get a table for two, but only after a long wait. We have never had this problem on any of our previous cruises. Normally, if a table for two is not immediately available, the staff will give you exclusive use of a table for four. I think the problem on Ventura is that it is a big ship with three dining rooms, but they only open one of them for lunch. Service at lunch-time in the MDR was usually (2 out of 3 visits) poor, although on one occasion it was very good. We had breakfast three times in the "Bay Tree". This is at the back of the ship, only accessible via the aft staircase and lifts, and was quiet at breakfast-time. The ship serves a good English breakfast, but the coffee and orange juice were both dreadful (the apple juice is drinkable). They don't do special requests. For example, we asked if we could have French Toast, but were told "no". A couple at the next table asked if they could have a pot of tea (instead of having to wait for the waiter to come round and pour), again, they were told "we don't do that".We like good strong coffee, so went to the Costa coffee shop for take away coffees a few times. You have to pay for the coffees, but they serve nice cakes if you buy coffee. The first time we ordered coffee to go, we also asked for some donuts and biscuits and got them without a problem. The second time we asked for this, we were told it's not possible to take food away from the coffee shop. "It's not company policy". "It's against health and safety!" It was hard to get good coffee, even from Costa. I asked the waitress for strong black coffee, and told her how I wanted it made - double espresso, and let the water run through until the cup is half full. The first time I did this, when I got up to the room I found they had filled the cups and the coffee was weak and tasteless. After this, I made a point of checking the coffee before I would sign for it. On the third day of the cruise, we stopped by for coffee "to go" on the way back on board, specified how we wanted it, and the barista filled the cup about two thirds full. I said to him, "I asked for it half full", and his response was to pour some of the coffee away so the cup was half full! I explained that I had asked for strong black coffee, and throwing some away did not give me that. The waitress intervened and told the barista to put an extra shot in each cup. This would have solved the problem, but the barista added the extra shots and practically threw the cups at us, saying something in his own language while he did so. We went to reception to ask to see the Bars Manager, but were told he was not available. Reception noted our complaint, and said they would pass it on. They also said food could not be taken away from the coffee shop for health and safety reasons. They said if we wanted strong coffee and cake in our cabin, we would have to order the cake from room service, and then buy the coffee from Costa. They also said it is not permitted to take food from the buffet to the cabin! That's a first, and I can't find that written down anywhere! This happened at about 16:00, and the Bars Manager did leave a message on our phone early afternoon the next day, but we did not follow it up with him.ENTERTAINMENTClassical Pianist Simon Callaghan gave an excellent concert on the first sea day. Unfortunately, the Tamarind Club is not a suitable venue. It has a Steinway piano, but it's amplified over a poor sound system. If you sit more than a third of the way back, you hear the terrible amplified sound which is a distortion of the beautiful Steinway. If you sit close to the front, it sounds good. Simon did three concerts, but the second two clashed with sailaways, so I only went to the first one.Comedian Dave Kristian was not funny.Tenor Victor Michael has a good voice, but sadly plays to the chavs - encouraging the audience to join in with "just one cornetto" while he sang O Sole MioSTATEROOMI was very impressed with our balcony cabin on C deck (deck 10). I loved the cabin design. The walk-in wardrobe was large and practical, our clothes were easily accessible and it was nice to have space to store the cases without having to put them under the bed. There was plenty of storage space, and the bathroom was adequate. The balcony was very large - about twice as deep as those on the decks above, half in the shade and half open and overlooked. The semi reclining chairs and footstool were good. I would choose a deck 10 cabin if I ever go on one of the "grand" class of ships again. The cabin was nicely decorated. There was no sofa, but two chairs and a small table gave us enough space to have breakfast. A P&O bonus is the kettle and mugs with tea and coffee, and biscuits replenished daily. The TV was well positioned and could be viewed well from the bed. The interactive channels allowed you to order room service and check your bill. Sky news was available most of the time. A selection of films and classic TV programmes were available. The cabin appeared superficially clean, although there was a sequin on the floor, so the carpet had not been vacuumed thoroughly. The superficial cleaning continued during the cruise. Towels were replaced twice daily and the beds were made, but the cabin steward did not wipe down the bathroom properly. Nothing was moved, and where I had left my wet wooden shaving bowl next to the sink, it left a stain the next day as it was still wet. We didn't use the kettle, but it contained water when we arrived and was never emptied. The ice bucket was never filled. There were some sweets on a small tray, the tray was removed two days before the end of the cruise (presumably, people steal them). The White Company toiletries were nice. SERVICEOn TV one day, there was a video of Carol Marlow talking about the "CRUISE" - customer care - programme, and the "key values" instilled in the staff, which included "Go the extra mile" and "Make it happen". Unfortunately, in our experience, "Make it happen" should be replaced with "we don't do that".Myra, a waitress in East, was excellent and friendly. All the staff in East gave a level of service that was unequalled anywhere else on the ship. In fact, leaving East at the end of the meal and returning to Ventura was a bit of a culture shock!! At the other end of the scale, the barista in the Costa coffee shop was rude. The security staff were unsmiling and unwelcoming, and some never spoke, despite my best efforts to get some sort of reaction by saying "good morning", "thank you", and smiling at them. Some of them didn't even look at the passengers. I'm sure I could have walked off using someone else's cruise card and they would not have noticed. Overall, you don't get the friendly excellent service on Ventura that you take for granted on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
P&O Ventura 13th May 2011 - 7 nights Embarkation Was very well organised. We arrived about 10.30 am as we stayed overnight nearby so not many people around at all. The car park people were just there and took our luggage and ... Read More
P&O Ventura 13th May 2011 - 7 nights Embarkation Was very well organised. We arrived about 10.30 am as we stayed overnight nearby so not many people around at all. The car park people were just there and took our luggage and car. (Take off your house key as they only want the car key and they also park it for you). We got given a card with a number on inside the terminal and sat inside a giant hall waiting area. Refreshments available but looked like they were charging. It was about 11.45 or just after when check-in opened and we were called according to number. We were still the 2nd to be called even though we arrived very early. Even so, we were on the ship by 12.00 and went up to the Waterside - the self service restaurant for lunch. General The ship was very nice overall. The only thing that spoilt walking around too much was the spa staff pouncing at every opportunity to sell the treatments. When one asked for about the 10th time why don't you get your hair done, I couldn't resist asking what was wrong with my hair now. Well, that stopped that particular lady from approaching me in future! Most other guests were also fed up of the overkill on the selling. Same sort of shops and sales as RC have. Be careful to avoid lots of overpriced 'tat'. Entertainment was ok but nothing special. Food and drinks There were 2 small complimentary bottles of mineral water in the fridge inside the cabin. We ordered the P&O water package from the cabin steward. 6 x 1.5litre bottles of their own brand mineral water for £9.00. Not the best taste but we had no other option. The free water in the restaurants was ok but not great. They do not have free lemonade like Royal Caribbean so I took some orange squash on in my hand luggage to make it taste better. At least they allow you to take drinks on board unlike RC. Could not find any free ice cream other than in the main dining room so not happy. The Waterside and the Beach House were all being used as 1 really. However, at night one side of The Beach House at the back was turned into a very nice totally free waiter service restaurant The chocolate cake is absolutely huge and very nice indeed you must try it! The food in general in the Waterside was ok, not great and they did not have a carvery at lunchtime much which was disappointing. The cakes were not brilliant either, except on the chocolate themed afternoon tea. Each night in the self service restaurant was a different theme but you could always find something to eat whatever your tastes. We tried the late night snacks one evening about 9pm, ok but noticed lots of little flies on some of the food so avoided. You can sanitize your hands as many times as you like, but is it any good when flies are eating the food first? The staff were not very friendly and tended to 'lurk' up the corner and not clear any plates until people left. They very rarely spoke either. The cabin steward spoke a little. We didn't eat in the main dining room as I found it too crowded. I also prefer the self service as I can see the food first! We tried the room service one lunch time. We just had baguettes which were lovely with proper crisps which we couldn't find anywhere else on board. Cabin We got in our cabins at about 1.40pm. We had an inside cabin and also a bacony on the opposite side so not far to walk to each other. We went looking for our cabin slightly earlier and 1 steward asked which cabin number we were. I think he thought he was our steward. When he realised it was not his cabin, he was quite rude and said they are not open yet. He continued to be rather annoying the rest of the cruise and seemed to deliberately block the corridor if he saw us. Deck 10 was ok. The balcony was larger than the rest but it was partially overlooked by above if you stand right on the end. However, deck 9 and below are badly overlooked! Balconies have full screens. We were lucky that nobody was smoking anywhere near us on their balcony. (General point - port side of the ship is no smoking, starboard side is smoking so be aware if it is warm enough for you to sit on deck). Lots of nice toiletries supplied. The shampoo and conditioner are ok, unlike some other ships. Also had shower gel and body lotion. The toilet rolls were ok. They had tiny bars of soap and were very reluctant to let me have another one. In fact when mine had fallen into several pieces the steward just squashed it all back together into one big lump and placed it back on the sink! When I went after him he said he had to ask his supervisor first if I could have another bar. I used my own soap for the shower so I don't think 2 tiny bars of their soap is excessive in a week! There were tea and coffee making facilities inside the cabin unlike many other cruise liners, along with 2 packs of biscuits which were replenished twice daily. About 3 different ones, all very nice. Nice big open wardrobe with plenty of space. The only thing that irritated me about the cabin was the lights on things at night. The tv omitted a red light, the light under the door I blocked out with a pillow and there was also some strange light near the middle of the bed - never did work out what it was for but found rather annoying. Lifeboat drill was interesting. You have to take the lifejacket which is in the cabin and watch the staff demonstrate how to put it on and then try it yourself. People ignored the crew when leaving and the tags were trailing on the floor for everyone to trip over. RC used to be the same but now you do not take the lifejacket, just yourself! Bergen Docks are on the left side of boat as it looks forward (sorry I get confused with Aft and Starboard). We took the free shuttle coach which takes 5-10 minutes to the town and drops you at the lake - very pretty. We then walked (follow those who know where they are going) to the Funicular Railway which took about 10 minutes and was 70 krona (approx £8 return). In hindsight we would have only paid one way and walked down as it looked a fabulous walk and lots of locals were walking up as well as down. Free loos at the top but only use if desparate - they had not been cleaned from the day before when we went - not pleasant! On route to the Railway are the fish market and general souvenir market. Lots of oldy worldy shop fronts along the harbour. There was also a Hop on, hop off bus by the lake for £30 or 225 krona. Everything is expensive in Norway. Molde This was the port we were not supposed to go to but P&O cancelled the original destination. Not quite sure how they knew a good 6 weeks in advance the snow would not have melted at the other place! Seems from reading the reviews, they are too fond of changing the itinerary. Again, boat docks on the left hand side. Beautiful snow capped mountains as you approach port. Easy to walk from the ship to the town as just around the corner. However the walk to the 'Varden' viewpoint was very steep (1,335 feet above sea level)! I would suggest as the tourist office did, to take a taxi to the viewpoint and walk back down. The Tourist info office was hard to find, it's hidden away a little bit in the town. If you walk up slightly and to the right from the ship and past the row of shops, follow it round to the right, right again and right to the end then cross to the other side! We managed to find some free loos in the town hall which were not signed. At the top of the road before you turn right to the tourist office, walk into the building on the left which looks like an office block, set back from the road (think it was some very dark building with lots of glass) they were doing some renovating work at the time but was still open. You can also walk to the Romsdal museum but it was closed until June I believe. Olden: Docks to the left side again. Olden tourist office is literally as you get off the boat. Postcards only 5 krona but over road they are nearly double the price. The tourist office also sells tickets for a small shuttle bus to the glacier for only £30 or 250 krona I think. (still £20 cheaper than P&O's excursion) at £50. There is also a Trolley train that picks up at the boat/tourist office for 150krona - not sure where exactly that went. We were going to take P&O's excursion to the Briksdal Glacier at £50 each but decided to take their Oldevatnet Lake Cruise excursion instead as it mentioned 3 glaciers (albeit the arms and tongues of the Glaciers) and was just a little bit more at £65. However, it was rubbish. We didn't see any glaciers or arms of glaciers, just waterfalls. There were not enough seats on the boat so we had to stand up for the hour trip. We were not impressed and thought it was all very unprofessional. Having written 3 letters I eventually got a refund in the form of an onboard credit on my December cruise I booked months ago so cannot cancel now. They are also reviewing the number of people permitted on the tour as a result. Tip - if you take the shuttle to the Glacier from the tourist info office instead of booking in advance with P&O you can see what the weather is doing first. It was raining all day when we went so the lake cruise was not really a good idea! Stavanger You get off the ship on the left but good views both sides of harbour. Easy to walk around. There is a walking tour excursion you can pay a lot of money for but not good if pouring with rain as it was! Also it is very easy to walk around on your own. If you walk about 10 minutes from the ship to the market square you get to the tourist office to the left hand side - there is a sign but not the easiest place to find, but look for the big green 'I' letter in the window. They have free maps and tell you what to go and see like the old town etc. The market was very quiet, probably due to the weather and only a few stalls turned up. They were selling knitted stuff and reindeer skins for around 9650 krona. The hats with the bits that cover your ears were about 120kr or £10. I got mine for £3 on a UK market! No decent fridge magnets or thimbles which I collect. We walked 5 minutes around the corner to the Petroleum Museum as it was not the weather to explore outside. 100 krona or 50 for seniors. Cafe and souvenir shop inside. Quite an interesting place - much better than I thought it would be. I think I heard someone say there is a tower you can go up in the town for some good views. I managed to get a nice picture of the cruise ship boat from other side of the harbour. Disembarkation Everyone is asked to vacate their room by 8am and sit in the restaurants or public lounges. I much prefer RC where you can now wait in your cabin. We found a nice area on deck by the pool but waited nearly 3 hours to be called to leave. We used the time to eat more breakfast cakes (not good I know) and to compare notes with other cruisers and the general feeling was very nice cruise but not as good as Alaska cruise, staff not as helpful or friendly as R C either. Overall nice cruise and beautiful scenery. However, I would recommend you do this cruise first and then the Alaska one as I couldn't help but compare this to the fabulous RC Alaska cruise which I have to say had a better wow factor. Although I am British and would love to be patriotic and say P&O are better, but I have to say the American RC ships are much better and crew are miles more friendly and helpful. I only booked this one as I used my Tesco Clubcard vouchers as part payment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was our first cruise with P & O. I wasn't impressed. Firstly, We booked the cruise to visit the port of Flam which was cancelled only 3 weeks pre cruise so I wasn't at all happy. That was the whole reason why we booked ... Read More
This was our first cruise with P & O. I wasn't impressed. Firstly, We booked the cruise to visit the port of Flam which was cancelled only 3 weeks pre cruise so I wasn't at all happy. That was the whole reason why we booked so we could go on the railway. P&O informed me that there were too many ships in that port that day so they had to arrange an alternative. On walking on board we barely had one foot in the atrium and we were bombarded with staff trying to sell the spa and various other goods. i thought give us a chance to get settled. I was expecting the ship to have more of a wow factor - after cruising with RCI this was a disappointment. RCI Navigator was so much more opulent and being that was our first cruise we were amazed at the decor and the layout of the ship, not only that, the staff were HAPPY and friendly and we felt they made the effort to make our holiday enjoyable. I suppose different cruise companies do different things but I missed the Mahdi Grat and food festival themes nights that navigator put on - there was nothing like that on Ventura - nothing on our last night. We did get a souvenir from the waiters - a folder of the weeks menus and we also received a cruise log which I thought was lovely, but it would have been nice to have something of a farewell show - navigators was brilliant. I personally thought that Ventura was like an enormous ferry, it was lack lustre,sedate and had no atmosphere. I didn't like the layout of the ship either but that maybe just a personal view. Although the staff were pleasant, they wasn't very happy and warming, I found this quite off putting as they were so happy on the Navigator. The entertainment wasn't that great except for Clem Curtis from the Foundations, he was excellent and really got the passengers up on their feet and enjoying themselves, as for the the tribute Elton john and lulu I can only hope that the real stars don't ever get to see them!!! I was looking forward to the 60/70's disco until We were ordered by the host to jump up and down in the air when we heard a particular record and the do kangaroo impressions on the dance floor when we heard Ralph Harris record!!! I'm game for a laugh but really-I was expecting a disco where the norm is to dance on the dance floor to music being played, not to jump around like a kangaroo! I was grateful I was sitting at the back at the bar. We wasn't the only passengers complaining. I also think the sail away days are a bit naff. On the plus side the food was good and the drink prices were reasonable, I liked the tea making facilities and fridge in the cabin. I was also amazed that the majority of staff were male Indian hardly any ladies - don't know if there's a reason or not for that i was just curious. The shuttle bus into Bergen was free, on RCI they charged for this service. Although, I enjoyed the cruise and the ports of call, I wouldn't cruise on Ventura again, it just wasn't what I was expecting, it didn't live up to all the hype of P&O cruises. I wonder if the other P&O ships in the fleet are any better??? my next cruise will be with RCI Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our second cruise to the Canaries on The Ventura. The first was also with P&O on the Azura to the Caribbean. We enjoyed the cruise, but we did prefer the Azura, and while this may have been partly because the destination was ... Read More
This was our second cruise to the Canaries on The Ventura. The first was also with P&O on the Azura to the Caribbean. We enjoyed the cruise, but we did prefer the Azura, and while this may have been partly because the destination was more exciting the first time, there were several other reasons. The ships are broadly similar, but for us the Azura was better. The Ventura had no darts or pool table and the table tennis tables are located under the sliding roof on the top deck, where the floor was slippery and it was very hot and humid there. As a vegetarian, I found the Italian restaurant on the Azura excellent with a variety of vegetarian options. Unfortunately, the alternatives to the main restaurant on The Ventura are extremely poor. We went to the non-buffet one, which did pizza, but were told they could only do Margherita and when it arrived, it compared unfavourably to a cheap supermarket pizza. Alternative options there were not much better. After that experience we stayed in the main restaurant throughout, which was ok, but not much fun if you are vegetarian as you only ever have one option. By the end of the cruise, I was getting pretty fed up with mushrooms! On one occasion, one of the "special" main courses turned out to be vegetarian, but our table staff were unable to tell us this when we asked at the time we ordered. Breakfast, buffet lunch and the poolside pizza were all very good. There was no organised bridge, but there was an organised whist drive. This made no sense as more people wanted to play bridge than whist. We were given some spiel about it being because some ships were trying to be modern and others trying to be traditional that made very little sense. Why not provide both, and why deliberately not provide something there is demand for? Eventually, we persuaded the entertainment officer to allow us to play bridge alongside the whist drive, which we organised ourselves, and eventually they also added it to the daily bulletin. It was a shame they did not advertise it in the first place, as it was no effort on their part to allow us to organise it ourselves. Unfortunately, there was no bridge equipment and initially we were told we couldn't even use the cards because they were needed for the whist drive! Probably it is just luck, but on The Azura we had a very diligent steward, and every time we left our room, when we returned it had been cleaned. This was probably beyond the call of duty, but in contrast on The Ventura, our cabin steward did the minimum possible, and if we had not left the room in the morning when she deemed it was time to clean it, we could return late in the afternoon to find it still had not been cleaned. The staff in the restaurants were all very pleasant, but I would have to say that overall we found the staff on the Azura much better. We wouldn't recommend wandering around Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. There seemed there of much interest. After walking for a couple of hours, we got to the old town, but there really wasn't anything much to see. Not a great destination. Maybe one of the tours would have been more interesting, though they didn't look that appealing. Lisbon and Cadiz were both very nice places to visit, and we also enjoyed Funchal. We just wandered around all of these doing our own thing. A trip around Mount Teide on Tenerife was good, though it was a shame there wasn't time to climb Mount Teide. We were impressed with the efficiency and speed of embarkation and Southampton. We were considerably less impressed with the disembarkation. First, queuing for ages because an escalator to get off the ship had broken. Then the label had come off one of our suitcases, although it had been securely fastened and rather than being placed in an area of unidentified suitcases, it was placed randomly with the suitcases of some other deck we weren't on, so it took over an hour to find. The headliner theatre company we had already seen on the Azura, but still enjoyed. Most of the tribute music groups were not that great. There was a comedian Fogwell Flax we saw twice, who was outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We booked rather late for this cruise through Gills Cruises about 10 days before they went bust. Fortunately the money we paid was already in the hands of P&O. At the time of booking it was on a guaranteed cabin basis. The cruise ... Read More
We booked rather late for this cruise through Gills Cruises about 10 days before they went bust. Fortunately the money we paid was already in the hands of P&O. At the time of booking it was on a guaranteed cabin basis. The cruise start end and dates were 3rd September and 15th September 2011. Checking In The allocated boarding time was 1530 with check-in closing time of 1545. If I had planned my departure from home using these times , a traffic disruption on the M25 , which could last a few hours, would have resulted in missing the boat. We left home early and our car was collected from us by 11.50 am. The check in process was straight forward and by 12.20 pm we were on board. Nobody asks you for the allocated check in time. We have noticed this on our other cruises from Southampton and Dover. Cabin We paid for out tickets on a guaranteed basis and was told by Gill Cruises that a cabin number would be allocated on check-in. In fact we had a letter from P&O with our cabin number -- deck 5 starboard side, within 20 steps of the atrium. It would have been an excellent cabin, except that we suffered from terribly loud noises and vibration for many hours on the 1st, 2nd and 5th nights, and the 1st day at sea. I was tempted to sleep on the sofas in the atrium. After 2 sleepless nights I assumed we were over the worst. I only complained when the loud noises reappeared on the 5th night. Without any hesitation, the person I complained to, told us that the noise was due to the stabilisers being in operation. The sea was choppy , hence the need for stabilisers. She obviously has had the same complaint before. She apologised that she could not move us, because there were no empty cabins available in our price category. We were in Cabin P321 on deck 5, and I have come across (on cruise reviews) that cabin P323 has also been a problem cabin for the same reason. ( See links below). You could be lucky and not have any noise problem if sea had been calm and stabilisers are not deployed. Cabin P321 is in the vicinity of where the pilot gets on board to take the ship into port. You can expect to be woken up with a loud whining noise and banging while preparations are being made for the pilot to come on board. The noise only lasts a couple of minutes , very early in the morning, and we had no problem with it. It was barely a whisper compared to the noise generated by the stabilisers. Entertainment The several performances by the Headliners group of singers/dancers were excellent. So was the comedian Martin Gold. Another comedian Ray Turner was mediocre. He relied on picking on the passengers and was not funny. However, he was a better singer than a comedian. He was due to appear again on another night and I am sure many of the passengers would have chosen to go to another venue than put up with him. On the morning of the night he was due to perform again , there was an announcement that he would not be able to do so because he was unwell. We were told that he was taken to hospital when we docked at Gibraltar. Sue Holderness (Marlene in Fools and Horses) gave us an entertaining talk about her experiences on that show. The ship does not have a dedicated cinema and so films were shown in the theatre on sea days. Two of the films shown had been released in the UK after the cruise in September. Food We ate at the Waterside buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Although we had opted for Freedom dining, half our dinners were at the buffet restaurants. The variety and quality of food was very good. Excursions We never bothered with any excursions but we always went ashore and walked around the town. Barcelona and Civitavecchia (Rome) are the only ports where P&O provided a free shuttle. In Gibraltar you could take the local shuttle for which you have to pay, or it would take about 15-20 minutes to walk to the main street.. I wonder if any one noticed that almost all shops in the main street of Gibraltar and owned and operated by Indians. They also own and operate shops outside the main street.. The ship docks in the town at Ajaccio, and in the case of Villefranche the ship's tender drops you in the town. At Barcelona we took the free shuttle bus into town. In Civitavecchia the shuttle bus drops you at the port gate Disembarkation It was well organised and we got off the ship at 10.30 am, slightly earlier than the allotted time of 10.45 am. It was a short walk to where our car was parked. Parking We had booked our parking with CPS (Cruise & Passenger Services) and it was an efficient operation. The cost for the 12 days was £130. Correspondence with P&O I have written to P&O about the noise problem which others have mentioned on cruise reviews. Complainants have been told by the staff on board that the noise was due to the stabilisers. P&O head office will not mention the word "stabilisers" no matter how many times you mention the word in your letters. They dismiss the noise problem by saying that what is scarcely noticed by one is a problem to another. Initially I was offered £200 discount on a future cruise to be taken within 12 months. After my second letter asking them to investigate the problem for the benefit of future occupants of "problem cabins, they sent me a cheque for £200. I still think there is a noise problem in some cabins on deck 5, when stabilisers are deployed, but P&O does not want to know. It is unbelievable that a 21st century liner is being operated with horrendous noise within some cabins. I have had experience in noise surveys in a petrochemical plant an a boiler house , and the noise level in the cabin would be considered unacceptable in the work environment, let alone sleeping accommodation. Unfortunately people do not complain or their complaints are dismissed and are offered ear plugs. I too did not complain after putting up with the first 2 sleepless nights , and only did so after the 5th night when the noise started. Other relevant Ventura reviews http://www.cruise.co.uk/cruise-reviews/pando-cruises/ventura/read_review_6030/ http://www.cruise.co.uk/cruise-reviews/pando-cruises/ventura/read_review_8008/ http://www.wecruise.co.uk/cruise-reviews/po-cruises/ventura/947-brilliant-cruise-ship This extract is from the above link : "Cabin was excellent, and our cabin steward was very efficient. However, would suggest cabin on a higher deck (we were on deck 5), as when weather is rough, the extra stabilisers they use to steady the ship make a horrendous noise all through the night which dramatically disrupts sleep." Guaranteed Cabins Beware of guaranteed cabins. Ours was a guaranteed cabin and we were told that cabin number would be allocated when we checked in at the dock. We received our cabin number a few days after the book and not at the time of booking. After our experience, I have become cynical about guaranteed cabins. I suspect that "problem cabins" are allocated closer to the cruise date when most of the other cabins are sold out. If there are any cancellations closer to the sailing date, the people allocated the less desirable guaranteed cabins are then offered other cabins that become available in the same price category. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have just returned from the Ventura one week 'Atlantic Coast' cruise. We have cruised before a couple of times (Ocean Village and RCL Voyager of the Seas) and wanted to try out a no-fly cruise and also see what P&O was ... Read More
We have just returned from the Ventura one week 'Atlantic Coast' cruise. We have cruised before a couple of times (Ocean Village and RCL Voyager of the Seas) and wanted to try out a no-fly cruise and also see what P&O was like. It started off very well, getting to Southampton from Norfolk was about the same as getting to Gatwick and the embarkation was very well handled plus the cabin was ready early! The cabin, a balcony on B deck was fine, a little tired perhaps, but the Tea-making facilities made up for that, and the cabin steward was very welcoming. We had a quick explore of the ship (not as impressively glitzy as Voyager but fine for us), and as we were tired a relaxing meal in the Waterside. We'd had lunch there (limited selection) but assumed that the evening meal would be more impressive. Wrong! The was very limited choice of mains, they were presented in school-meals style and tasted as if they had been prepared days ago. Also, it may be a small thing but the hand-sanitizers were on the wall and there was no attempt to get you to use them. It was down-right depressing all the staff seems dour-faced and there under sufferance. In fact we seemed to be in the way as staff pushed past to slop more food into the waiting troughs. Where were the friendly welcoming faces of the other boats who seemed pleased to see us? When we tried the main dining room (Freedom dining) we had a half-hour wait (shorter than we expected and we had the buzzer to tell us when a table was ready), but the service was impersonal and rushed -- we were asked for drink preferences only when we were waiting for our sweets and then hassled out at the earliest convenience (for the staff that is). And we were expected to wear a Tuxido/Suite on formal nights for this? We were lucky to discover the Beach House (evenings only -- free but some items had a supplement attached) and East (charged £20pp) both of which had friendly, attentive staff who seemed interested in ensuring that you had an enjoyable meal. The main dining room (served) and Waterside (buffet) which were the only two options for breakfast, saw equally poor quality food. Almost certainly kept hot for ages, rubbery rolls and toast, with second rate coffee. Although, to be fair, dining room coffee had been only slightly better on the other boats -- I wonder what it is, this was sub-instant by a long chalk. And on that subject (coffee) we did try Tazzine but the 'Costa' coffee there, despite the long wait (waiter had loooong chat with mate at bar) just tasted of diluted milk. Other passengers seemed to find the food OK or even enjoying it with plates piled high with salads, curries, roasts (yes all on the same plate) which they attacked with gusto. Also there seemed a good take-up of the Tuxedo standard on formal nights (Lobster Tails (1st) and Sirloin Steak(2nd)) but in general I felt that this was people on a very ordinary cruise trying to pretend that they were on a 'Posh' boat. Both of us got 'tummy trouble' which we put down perhaps unfairly (?) to poor food standards when lunching in Waterside, so we changed to Pizza on deck (although the burgers did look OK too) not bad but I should mention that the Diavola was one day so chilli-hot as to be almost inedible and the next not a trace of heat to be found-strange. The shows appeared to be of a high standard (selections from West End x 3, Beatles Tribute) and the films were all recent and popular (P&O get good marks in this area). The ports of calls were fine and probably good choices for the Atlantic Coast (Corunna, Bilbao, St Rochelle & Le Havre), shuttles were free even when the town centre was distant (Bilbao), we didn't do any of the P&O trips preferring a leisurely walk round the towns and a much needed (decent) local coffee. What we found was that whole ship's staff was generally unfriendly/disinterested with some oasis's of good service (Cabin Steward, East, Beach House, Metropolis). Would we sail again with P&O? Probably not Ventura, due to the two main issues food and staff, but maybe one of the other smaller ships. We would be very careful to read the reviews first, we had though that P&O was a premium band (which it isn't!) and be tempted by an exciting itinerary. Having said that, as there are a lot of cruise lines offering similar trips on genuinely 4* ships and with service/food to match and I think that we would want to try these before giving P&O a another chance. Read Less
Sail Date March 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
We went with 3 generations as I suspect did many families on this cruise - ages from 65 to 8. We left our car at the port as usual and although we arrived 5 minutes before our boarding time were faced with huge queues to board, in the end ... Read More
We went with 3 generations as I suspect did many families on this cruise - ages from 65 to 8. We left our car at the port as usual and although we arrived 5 minutes before our boarding time were faced with huge queues to board, in the end we got our paper work done and just sat and waited for the lines of standing passengers to clear and then when there were only 8 or 10 left joined in - we were last on the boat but at least we didn't stand for 50 minutes in line The cabins (Deluxe Balcony) were the best part of the entire cruise, I highly recommend them, large with big sitting area and nice balcony, steward wonderful. We set sail and were standing by the swimming pool near the pizza parlour as we progressed up the Solent when the ship lurched to the left and a huge amount of water slopped out of the side of the pool and ran down the deck, we later discovered in ran into the buffet area and as the carpet was so wet that part of the buffet had to be closed off - which resulted in more queues as people had nowhere to sit - we were told later it was a problem with the ballast tanks. The weather was appalling - force 10 winds, very high seas - we were OK but the younger generations were not, so their first day at sea was spent lying down. We wandered about the ship, we last sailed on the Ventura in 2010 and I really think standards have slipped in that time - cost cutting I presume, if you wanted a coffee or whatever you sat down and eventually a steward would take your order and card and then disappear or just prop themselves up against the nearest bar and chat, one coffee order took nearly 45 minutes to arrive, completely unacceptable. They had your card so you were stuck. The first port was Vigo, we had a good walk round and found the people to be really charming and friendly. Lisbon is very rundown we hopped on the tourist bus and had a good city tour, there are some beautiful places there but it does need a coat of paint, the recession has hit Iberia very hard We never made Oporto as the weather was too poor to get into the harbour, so a rather boring sea day, looking round there were a lot of long faces. My daughter in Law checked out the craft session where the "very reasonably priced" supplies to make the bracelet cost an astonishing 25, for a thin strip of leather and a couple of beads, she teaches craft in the UK and was appalled saying it was such a rip off. La Corunna was very nice, probably the best port of all. We took Freedom Dining which was not a success, we queued for every meal we had from breakfast to Dinner, although for dinner you are given a bleeper which tells you when your table is ready - normally 30 to 40 minutes. The food was good but not exceptionable - we ate one evening in the restaurant that was formerly called East in 2010 the meal we had there was superb none of the best fusion meals I have ever eaten how it is called Atol Kochar I think and was disappointing alas, The afternoon tea queues were huge enough to put you off waiting. The Buffet areas were clean and the food looked fairly appetizing but as half of the place was out of action it was very slow there and often not possible to find a seat, if only people who have finished moved on it would help but many don't and seem to sit there for hours so they can get a free cup of tea when they want. Anyways we go on cruises to be pampered not to do self service and get shoved about in a queue As to entertainment they had a very good Johnny Cash Tribute who was excellent at one end and that ran through to the other to a supposed comedian - who was truly awful and embarrassing to watch struggle. The grandchildren didn't use the clubs much, they preferred to swim and play games with their parents. They did enjoy themselves though and can't wait to go on another cruise - they are besotted by Room Service!! Service in the public rooms was slow and at times reluctant, the meal service was at times so fast that the waiter would try to whip your plate away before you had finished. Room service was a bit hit and miss, timings are not now what they were. Only the cabin steward was marvellous nothing was too much trouble, he soothed sea sick children with a practiced hand, well done him All in all if you don't mind the rather holiday camp atmosphere, the queuing and waiting for things then go P&O but I will not cruise with them again, I found it to have been a very disappointing week of my life, we usually cruise with Cunard and the gap between them & P&O is widening. We have had a week on a Cunard ship since April and it was just superb, very, very few queues everything just as it ought to be - if only P&O could do the same Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the ... Read More
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the passengers on those cruises that P&O were still the best. So this year we chose to return to P&O on the Ventura, what a shock we got!!.Standards in all areas have fallen dramatically especially the food. Food selection for both breakfast and lunch in the Waterside was very limited and the service area chaotic.This was the first ever cruise my wife lost weight instead of putting it on!! No wonder P&O seem to get bad press for Norovirus the lack of hand hygiene regime was the worst I ever experienced and when I challenged the head waiter why no member of staff was giving out hand gel as on other ships he said that he had been cut back so much on staff he could no longer provide that service. The other big let down was the poor organisation of getting off the ship by tender at Cannes. It was so slow we gave up and this was the only port we really wanted to visit. There are also no live port talks, again another cutback. Entertainment was generally good but as another reviewer stated the noise level was so high we some nights had to leave the theatre to escape the screeching of some of the performers. If P&O continue their policy of discounting and reducing standards I am sure many of their loyal old customers will desert them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This cruise was booked as a joint stag/hen party. My son proposed to his girlfriend on this 2 day cruise to Bruge last year and she accepted. The wedding is in 3 weeks. They decided they'd like a joint cruise again with all their ... Read More
This cruise was booked as a joint stag/hen party. My son proposed to his girlfriend on this 2 day cruise to Bruge last year and she accepted. The wedding is in 3 weeks. They decided they'd like a joint cruise again with all their mates and some of the family to celebrate. The ages ranged from about 20 to 60, and a great time was had by all!!! Me and my husband have cruised a few times before with Celebrity to the Caribbean, but we did realise that the cruise we were on was not comparable due to the large amount of hen and stag parties aboard, all looking for a good time with lots to drink!!! And boy did they drink, they danced, they joked, were loud and had so much fun!!! In fact my sons mate, became quite a Celebrity doing his own version of Peter Andree's mysterious girl and a Mick Hucknall song while in the hot tub, everyone on deck joined in, it was great. From then on, he became known by us and loads of passengers as 'Hot tub guy'...LOL We have to say the general service was pretty poor, they have waiters everywhere asking to take your drink orders, then you have to wait 20 minutes for it to arrive, because they only seemed to have a couple of bartenders behind the bar, even in the crowded venues. Also trying to purchase photo's was a complete shambles with 2 girls trying to serve people, which resulted in huge queues, which completely blocked the entire area. We gave up in the end, and didn't bother to purchase any for this reason. (About an hours wait) We found the casino quite small after the Celebrity ships, but as we were only on board for a couple of days this didn't bother us (we normally like a flutter). The food in the main dining rooms was very average and I have to say wasn't a patch on Celebritys. Hurried, disorganised service, food luke warm at best, the accompanying veggies tended to arrive about 10 minutes after my rack of lamb was served, then to add insult, what could only have been a bright orange/yellow potato croquet was served to me, looking like it had just come off of the shelf at Iceland....not sure what that was all about, but hardly fine dining!!! We ordered drinks well before our starters and these arrived when we were just finishing our desserts. The main dining room wasn't anywhere near as glam as the Celebrity ships. But having said this P&O do a really good English brekky, but with the usual - people milling about with trays of food, unable to find a table to sit at. We had room R254 on the Riviera deck, we were not overlooked from above. All ok, except the fridge didn't work, we did report it but nothing happened, and the TV remote had a mind of its own, not really a problem on a 2 dayer, but I would have wanted these little niggles sorted on a longer trip. Getting off was a complete disorganised shambles, we queued for 3/4's of an hour, through winding corridors, with our luggage. We spoke to a member of the crew, and asked if it was always this bad, she replied only on the booze cruises, as the company cut back on the amount of staff, which explained the slow drinks service................. You really have to take this 2 day cruise for what it is, everyone on board was calling it the booze cruise, which to be honest it was. If you accept it as that you'll have a great laugh and a really good time!!!! We felt it was like an old fashioned beano....LOL..... In fact we're all planning to do it all again next year......... Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
The one and only reason we went on a cruise is that I have a phobia of flying. As hubby & I both very much want to see the world, cruising seemed a good alternative. We were sceptical - especially hubby: it was a very expensive ... Read More
The one and only reason we went on a cruise is that I have a phobia of flying. As hubby & I both very much want to see the world, cruising seemed a good alternative. We were sceptical - especially hubby: it was a very expensive 'gamble', we were concerned whether cruising life would suit us being only in our late 20's, and whether Norway was the ideal destination for a lively 4 year old. Embarkation took a little while, especially with a little one to entertain but was simple enough. Our hearts did sink a little when it seemed that our child was one of only maybe three children amongst thousands waiting to embark. We also felt we'd brought the passenger age down by about 30 years :) in reality, however, once on the boat there were other younger passengers - mainly holidaying with family or a few young couples. For the most part, it really wasn't an issue - our fellow passengers were mainly very friendly and welcoming to our little one. There were the exceptions: those who rolled their eyes as soon as they saw a child (even though ours is very well behaved) or, more frequently, those who felt the need to talk incessantly in very loud voices - on lifts, dining rooms, everywhere! - about how many hundred cruises they had been on and how many cars they had at home. But these were the minority, not the majority and it was lovely getting to know familiar faces around the ship. My personal first impression was that the Ventura is not as grand inside as I'd possibly expected. Hubby and I said its like a 4* hotel when perhaps we'd expected a 5*. It was a lot more modern than I'd anticipated too but I loved the horse decorations throughout and 4 year old fell in love with the bubble columns in the lifts - a fun touch. It was all very clean and shiny. One and only service error, really - our child's luggage went 'missing' for a worrying hour or two. This was annoying as we knew the luggage label was coming off as the steward took it off us to board - she wouldn't let me refasten it and then the bag goes AWOL! The staff member left to deal with irate passengers whose luggage hadn't turned up was less than courteous - but I suppose it wasn't his fault & he'd drawn the short straw. All was well in the end, bag turned up and our hol began properly. We chose Ventura specifically because it seemed to have the most child friendly facilities. It didn't disappoint in that the Reef children's club was fantastic. I had absolutely no intention of leaving 4 year old with some random childcarers and felt we should have him with us whilst on holiday. However it quickly became obvious that these 'random childcarers' were brilliant with children and probably more qualified than our regular nursery staff. More importantly, little one loved it up there - there is a built in 'play zone' with ball pall, lots of great toys and craft activities. He quickly made it clear that he'd really rather be there than with us most of the time!! They let the 2-8 year olds fall asleep on sleeping bags watching a film if parents are at the evening show, but do remember to send them in their pyjamas or they'll be wide awake again by the time they've been carried to bed through the bright lights and noise of the ship. Activities on board weren't generally to our taste - a few slightly younger talks etc would have been good (they were on topics like reducing arthritis!!!) but, that said, we could have got involved with things like jewellery making, quizzes or dance lessons. The Headliners theatre company were very talented and I particularly enjoyed their west end musicals show though hubby did feel that, again, most of the show content was geared towards an older audience. The earliest shows started at 8.30 - it would have been nice if one night there was a 'matinee' for the children. The covered swimming pool was a big hit, and one of the main reasons we chose this ship. The entertainment team were also fantastic and very friendly - one night they valiantly kept up a dance routine despite downpour and they created a fantastic Great British Sail Away experience. Shore excursions were very expensive but we felt necessary for Norway. There really was very little to do oneself in port, except for Stavanger where there are plenty of museums and shops within easy walking distance. We went to the Petrol Museum which was an unexpected hit, especially for little boys as there are lots of gadgets, a 3d cinema, great play area and submarines they can go in. Our favourite port was probably Olden - the Briksdal Glacier excursion is a must and the place is just beautiful, with mountains surrounding the port. Worst port was Molde - an utterly pointless little shopping town like any in England. If you can pick a Norway version with a port other than Molde, we'd suggest it. Final things of note: service of the staff was excellent, our waiters in particular were brilliant in the Saffron restaraunt. We were very impressed with the food (and hubby is tough to please!) though would have liked to see some traditional Norwegian dishes on the menu. Down point for me was one rough night with gale force winds - stabilisers or not, we certainly felt it and spent an anxious night. A reassurance announcement from the captain would have been nice. Overall though, a surprisingly enjoyable holiday - we'll definitely be back Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I was so looking forward to this cruise as thought it was going to be far better than any cruise lines we had travelled with before but was hugely dissappointed -Firstly the sunbeds are so close together that you have to slide off the end ... Read More
I was so looking forward to this cruise as thought it was going to be far better than any cruise lines we had travelled with before but was hugely dissappointed -Firstly the sunbeds are so close together that you have to slide off the end to get off as they are all touching each other, this was difficult for my 83year old father so most of the time he chose to sit in his wheelchair, the buffet restaurant was ok but the cold choices were exactly the same every day, they did have varied hot meals, but usually just want something cold and light at lunch times-The main restaurant the food was good but knowhere near the normal standard as other cruises I have been on including Thompsons, it was terribly rushed, as soon as starter was finished plate taken away and main put down-whilst the service was very quick we did feel they wanted us out as soon as possible and on the formal nights it seemed a waste of time getting dressed up to have a rushed dinner and then not find a seat anywhere so have to return to cabin)-The entertainment was average apart from one comedian and the singer from the Foundations-You had to get into the theatre straight after dinner to get a seat which meant hanging around for 45 minutes or so and couldn't get seats in the other venues to watch the entertainment in those areas The amount of time spent in ports was very short (This is to save them money)and each time was very rushed having to be back on ship by 3.30pm, I do feel they should have stopped in Portugal 1st as 4 days at sea was too long The cabins were very good-The sailaways were good (Lisbon was best one I have ever seen) Feel there should be more entertainment on deck during sea days as most entertainment was going on inside, most of the time it was just music being played which was far too loud (everyone was complaining as you couldn't hear yourself speak)I don't think I would sail with P & O again and am going to try NCL next time Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Just to warn anyone without children with them on a cruise DO NOT go on Ventura.We were mislead into thinking that this Strictly Come Dancing cruise would be for adults in the most part. Surely going out of school holidays and with ... Read More
Just to warn anyone without children with them on a cruise DO NOT go on Ventura.We were mislead into thinking that this Strictly Come Dancing cruise would be for adults in the most part. Surely going out of school holidays and with ballroom dancing as the theme , most people would have thought the same. But unfortunately the Captain had other ideas. There were hundreds of children on board because apparently in Scotland and some other parts of the UK the children had started their holidays. Okay we should have done our homework, but did they really want to be there with the Strictly theme ! No they didn't they wanted to splash and jump and dive in the pools and scream and shout as loud as possible with the playleaders encouraging them to do so. So when we realised that despite having 2 very large pools for the kids the smaller one had also been taken over by them. When we complained in a very nice way to reception, we were told that the Captain had changed the policy of keeping one pool adults only and if we didn't like it we should have gone on one of their adult only ships!! Not a very nice response. It wasn't until a few days later that another passenger told us that we could use the Spa pool ( all be it tiny)even if we didn't use any other facilities. Why didn't reception tell us this?! This was one of many complaints. The buffet food was boring and repetitive and not good quality. The main dining food was decent but not first class, you could see that corners were being cut everywhere. Small choice of rolls, only 2 days were we offered luxury food and all of it on those 2 days because they knew if lobster and fillet steak etc were on menu daily we'd all want them. So the other days were ordinary food. The service in the main restaurant was diabolical. The waiters served the food across us instead of from behind, we were not given choice of rolls, they were just plonked on our plates. We had to send 5 glasses back because they were dirty. We were not given the choice of cheese and biscuits at the end of the meal and the coffee was awful. Room srvice had such a limited menu and much of it was extra charge. AND NO complimentary soft drinks or ice cream !!! Only free drinks were tea,coffee and water! We had this and so much more on Queen Victoria. There is no comparison between the 2 ships. Cunard and the Queen Vic are head and shoulders above Ventura and P&O in every single department. When you walk onto the Queen Vic you feel special and there is that Wow factor. Everything about it is better. How P&O thought they could pull off a Ballroom Cruise without a ballroom I don,t know!! There ballroom is no bigger than a postage stamp and no seating to speak of. After 2nd sitting dinner we couldn't find seats there or almost anywhere where anything was going on. No escorts for the dancing (probably cos there was no room!) The pluses were the Shows and Craig Revel Horwood (Really Good)and the size of our cabin and the bath and the cabin steward and the hairdresser in the Spa.But overall it was so s disappointing after 2 wonderful cruises on the Queen Victoria. BE WARNED UNLESS YOU'RE A FAMILY WITH YOUNG CHILDREN< STEER WELL CLEAR!!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Embarkation was excellent. From handing the car keys over to sitting onboard drink in hand took less than 20 minutes. We had priority boarding which no doubt helped but I heard no complaints from others. First impressions were not great, ... Read More
Embarkation was excellent. From handing the car keys over to sitting onboard drink in hand took less than 20 minutes. We had priority boarding which no doubt helped but I heard no complaints from others. First impressions were not great, the ship looks tired. As this was only our second cruise we could only compare it against Celebrity Equinox which had a wow factor Ventura lacks. Our cabin was A751 an aft suite. We had high hopes for this and it lived up to them in the main. It had a superb spacious layout with a huge balcony. If I had to knit pick it would be about the level of cleanliness. Surfaces that looked ok in a dull Southampton showed they were in need of a bit of spit and polish once the sun shone. As expected at the aft end it moved a lot crossing the Bay of Biscay and was subject to vibrating fixtures at certain propeller speeds but it was a small price to pay for such a nice suite. Both the Butler and Room Attendant were great lads. The food in the main restaurant was ok but rarely anything special. The Waterside Buffet was a free for all with such a poor selection I gave up on it early in the cruise. The wife persisted for a while but always came away disappointed. Afternoon Tea was available at 4pm in Saffron. Not my thing but a lot of folk enjoyed it including the wife. One of the perks of booking a suite is breakfast at M P Whites restaurant. This was very good and meant I could avoid the Waterside buffet. Decent burgers, pizza etc where always available around the pool during the day without any major queues. We paid a cover charge at East one night and enjoyed the meal but again did not find it anything to write home about. Another disappointment was that the only free drinks onboard were coffee and water. P&O cut backs ensure every penny is squeezed out of you where thirst is concerned. If I come across as some kind of food snob let me assure you I am anything but. I work offshore as an electrician surviving four weeks in the Caspian Sea on very poor fare (great food offshore is an urban myth) but I expect a lot more on a holiday. We chose this cruise because we wanted 12 days of total relaxation. No ports really interested us so no trips were booked. We were pretty much last off first on every time. We wandered the shops and grabbed a bite to eat at each destination. They were all much alike in this respect except Gran Canaria had a Marks and Spencer which meant an extra half an hour stood in a street. Arrecife in Lanzarote deserves a special mention. If not for the boisterous local winos we passed on the way to the main street it would be totally forgettable. Having read the above you are probably thinking this miserable sod wont sail with P&O again? You are possibly right but it is by no means cast in stone. I like the British slant of a P&O cruise and the entertainment was streets ahead of Celebrity. We did not attend the Arena Theatre at all but always found decent music or a comedian at Havana or Tamarind. The passengers were a great crowd and even the cheesy British sail aways were a good laugh. We made a lot of friends during this trip so arrived back in Southampton with mixed feelings. For food, drink and opulence P&O are not in the same league as Celebrity. But for a good laugh with a crowd of Brits P&O probably cant be beat. Next year we are trying Royal Caribbean, I hope they are somewhere in-between.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We embarked from Southampton and as always check in quite well organised and quickly on board - apart from a technical glitch at the check in terminals but can't be helped. Proceeded to our cabin only to be greeted by a cabin full of ... Read More
We embarked from Southampton and as always check in quite well organised and quickly on board - apart from a technical glitch at the check in terminals but can't be helped. Proceeded to our cabin only to be greeted by a cabin full of visitors who were being shown round the ship! They proceeded to tell US how much we had paid for the cabin (the lady doing the tour had told them how much) before disappearing. They were soon followed by another group ..... anyway it seems we were "too early" for the cabin and had to endure countless people wandering round the room before we got it all to ourselves. Anyway, that out the way - we were disappointed with the size of the room - half the size of the equivalent one on RCI. Having said that, bathroom was a great size with a spa bath and large shower. I will just list the rest of the points I want to make to avoid rambling on: - cabin staff wonderful and very attentive and a joy to have around - cabin clean and well maintained - facilities in the cabin great - coffee machine, endless tea and coffee making products and biscuits - restaurant staff brilliant and service faultless - food in Bay Tree restaurant amazing and loved every meal - ports we visited were lovely and although cut short on two occasions (3.30 pm departures) were pleasant. Can't comment on excursions as we went solo. - drinks a reasonable cost and comparable to a normal pub price - didn't really encounter problem obtaining sun lounger however they are crammed in so close to each other you have to get on and off the end unless you are crafty enough to move it and put a table between you and the next one - gym facilities were great although disappointed there was only a couple of classes available and no Zumba as previous cruisers had mentioned Negatives: - unless you like art lectures/wandering round the few shops on board/playing bingo there is not much to do on board for adults. The gym was a godsend as on sea days I would have been climbing the walls. - the Ventura is advertised as a family ship - there were adequate facilities for the younger children but (and I do realise that older teens are hard to entertain anyway) there seemed to be a lot of mid teens running about the ship, sitting on the stairs, generally mooching about - my son had a look at the entertainment for his age group (he is 14) and none of it had any kind of appeal to him. Whilst I realise this is personal choice, judging by the number of 14 year olds running about on the ship they didn't have much appeal to them either. - the TV in the cabin had basic channels on (BBC world news, CNBC) but was dismayed that a lot of the movies (old ones at that ...) you had to pay to view! They had two episodes of a couple of dramas from a good few years ago that were free along with I think 5 movies but you had to pay for the rest (1.99 per movie). - the layout of the ship is very confusing compared to other ships we have been on. It seems very disjointed - for example to get to the Bay Tree restaurant (which is clearly indicated as being on Deck 6) you have to go to the back of the ship, go up to deck 7, then go down again to Deck 6 as there is no direct access from the relevant deck. However, due to the extra miles I put in getting lost for the whole ten days, I came back having gained only two pounds even after all that fantastic food so can't complain :0) All in all, disappointed with the cruise as we paid a lot of money for the cabin and for the same price on Royal Caribbean we felt we got a lot more for our money. Sorry P & O - just didn't feel luxurious at all - felt like corners had been cut in many areas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Picked a mini cruise as a cheaper alternative than flying to Bruges (with airport travel, hotels etc it's very affordable method to just take the mini-cruise!). We've been on Azura for a week to Norway so knew what to expect. ... Read More
Picked a mini cruise as a cheaper alternative than flying to Bruges (with airport travel, hotels etc it's very affordable method to just take the mini-cruise!). We've been on Azura for a week to Norway so knew what to expect. Plus we had a £100 voucher to use up. So-- it's good, considering what you pay. Having an inside cabin (what's the point of a balcony on such a short trip?), we were please with the accommodation. Actually felt larger than I had prepared for. Good dressing area and the shower isn't terribly tight (and I'm a big lad!. Fellow guests were fine in the main although it's going to be the case that on these trips you get people who would never normally cruise and that includes a large number of parties (stag/hen/birthday). The atmosphere on deck is extremely different and largely about drinking. Neither of us drink and to be honest we found that a little off-putting. Having sailed on the sister ship we knew the tricks (such as head away from main areas, eat in the alternative restaurant near the buffet for free and go straight to the bar on the top deck for drinks)- all the things others may not work out until later in their trip. Makes for a comfortable spacious experience. Embarkation was fine as was finding Bruges at the other end. I'd worried about the complication but need not have. You take the free shuttle to Blankenburg and from there buy a very affordable return train ticket to Bruges (at the weekend that was 4euro each!). Fab dual deck trains- quite fun. And to be honest everyone else is doing the same so follow the crowd! From Bruges station its a 20 minute walk to the tourist area which is fine on foot. Not sure this is one for the wheelchair user (that might be a silly assumption, so do your own homework on that). Bruges itself is a beauty. Despite the rain, river trip (about 8euro I think) and listening to the bells in the square was a perfect little day out. Ventura itself is fine. Very clean. Lovely areas. Hated the Glasshouse (because it's so beautiful on Azura and here it's just a half converted area that lacks style entirely). Food a problem in Glasshouse, not up to par with previous experience. Standard Freedom restaurant was fine. I'm sure everyone's said it before but with party-people onboard (some of whom are bored onboard!) this isn't a quiet and relaxing trip. IF you have an edge of snobbery about you (be fair, some of us do!), you're going to freak out a little. I saw one couple making use of the Retreat area-- could have done that in better weather to escape entirely. However, nobody was drunk to the point of illness (that I saw) and it was all in the aim of good fun. I might never forget being approached by a young lady and being asked for a smoke while she interrogated me about the destination however--- "Bruges, so is that in Europe-- Is South America in Europe--- so are we passing Ireland???" I am guessing she might not have been travelling for the sake of getting anywhere. My advice in summary: Don't take a mini-cruise to experience cruising. Do take a mini-cruise to get to a fine city for the weekend and leave your normal world behind for a bit. Top marks to P&O for the important things (feeding us all, cleaning the ship, having some fun). Do take the kids- what an amazing weekend for them, it's still very exciting to take a little trip like this. Only true complaint and it's a tiny one: We are AA so we really like the mocktails in the Metropolis bar. Why take their menu away on the mini-cruise and replace it with only alcohol? Well, we know why-- to keep them all drinking. To be fair it was brought on request but taken away again every time we'd ordered. Odd. Would we sail P&O again-- maybe. We're a bit bored of it after two experiences (Venture and Azura) and we might be the kind of people seeking something more refined. Cunard is next on the list (following an amazing Crystal, one terrible MSC, three 'ok' NCL and two average P&O). PS- I'm gluten intollerant and found everythind I needed (this time!) Oh... and if you are having a hen do-- go for it, looks like a giggle x   Read Less
Sail Date September 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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