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154 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

Background We are an English couple and began cruising about 10 years ago on Thomsons & Airtours but in recent years have tended towards the American lines. Celebrity, Princess & NCL are our favorites but we have also enjoyed ... Read More
Background We are an English couple and began cruising about 10 years ago on Thomsons & Airtours but in recent years have tended towards the American lines. Celebrity, Princess & NCL are our favorites but we have also enjoyed Costa, QM2, RCCL & Star Cruises. We don't like to book too far in advance and typically look for offers on the internet 1-2 months before we want to sail, so we have been lucky enough to find some fantastic deals and arrange our own airfare and independent transfers when needed. Looking for something special for Paul's 70th birthday on 17th April had become unusually challenging as many ships were transatlantic at the time and for medical reasons we can't get insurance for North America at the moment. When we found an offer for the Ventura's maiden voyage about 6 weeks before sailing it seemed to good opportunity to try P & O. Nearly everyone on board had booked up on the day bookings opened a year before, so it must have been a cancellation cabin. Although we love to try different ships we had never sailed with P & O before, mainly because most of the itineraries sail from Southampton and as I am not a natural sailor the 2/3 days sailing each way to the Med does not particularly interest me. Also, their prices are typically around 50% dearer than comparable cruises with other companies. At £1,119 each for an inside cabin this was the most expensive cruise-only fare we had paid in our 25 cruises, and as a maiden voyage on a much-hyped ship we had fairly high expectations. Travel to Southampton & Embarkation We drove ourselves to Southampton port - as we had a discounted cruise fare we were not entitled to the usual free parking offer and had pre-booked with CPS for £117. Unusually, there was a terrific traffic jam and it took us about an hour from our first sighting of Ventura to the car park drop-off point. There was no obvious reason for this and we had embarked equal -sized ships there before without any problem so it was probably just bad luck. But we had plenty of time, and once we had left our car the check-in procedure was quick and efficient and after a short wait for security checks we were on board about 2.30pm. The Ship - First Impressions Ventura is a lovely ship, almost identical in layout to the Golden & Grand Princess, that we know and love, so we had no trouble finding our way around. She was "specially designed for Britain" which primarily means that the dEcor is generally less flamboyant than on her American sisters. Our Cabin We had booked an inside guarantee and after a daily website check had found our cabin allocation about 2 weeks before leaving - R248 is towards the front of deck 14 (Riviera deck) one deck below the lido deck. Our cabin was fine, brand new, spotlessly clean, exactly as we had expected and no different from any other modern cruise ship. There are sparkling new tea and coffee facilities in the cabins along with a single rose bud and some boiled sweets in a matching steel vase and dish to welcome us aboard. 2 small complimentary bottle of water were provided which was nice. No mini-bar but drinks could be ordered from the room steward. Richard, our steward, introduced himself and was extremely efficient and pleasant throughout the voyage. Our luggage arrived promptly (although there was an announcement later in the afternoon that there had been some technical problems and luggage delivery was delayed). Room service was available but we did not use it. The menu was slightly strange - for example you could order a salmon meal for free but a chicken sandwich cost £1.50. Apple pie was free but chocolate tart £1. Toiletries provided in the bathroom included some novel items such as eye cream, refreshing balm for aching feet (extremely useful !) and lip gel as well as the usual moisturizer, soap, sewing kit etc. There was a dispenser in the shower holding a combined hair & body shampoo but no conditioner. Fellow Passengers All British, and apart from 2 couples on their first cruise almost exclusively P & O "regulars". There were a huge number of "Gold" members (150 days + on P & O, I understand) for whom a special event had been arranged with Michael Portillo as guest speaker. There were a few families but the majority of passengers were aged 60+. As cruses in general, we found everyone to be extremely pleasant and happy to share tables and to chat. There were 4 formal nights and 4 semi-formal (jacket & tie expected for gentlemen) on our 14 day cruise and the dress code was honored by everyone and we really enjoyed dressing up for a change, as so many ships have let the dress code slip. Seeing 3,000 people dressed correctly for the "Black and White Ball" night was amazing. The other theme nights were "Latino","Pirate/Tropical", 60s/70s and 80s/90s. Dining - Cinnamon Restaurant I had been pleasantly surprised on booking to have been offered the option of "Freedom Dining". Unlike Princess only one restaurant is dedicated to Freedom and as a fairly new innovation for P & O it did not seem particularly popular. Some people who had requested a fixed table had been moved onto Freedom to make up the numbers, but for us this was good as we walked into the restaurant between 8-8.30pm and were seated immediately every night without having to wait or queue at all. The restaurant manager was nice and soon got to know that we liked to share a larger table. The service was always good and we were happy to have the £1.60 daily gratuity added to our account -some people did have this removed and there were tip boxes in the restaurant on the last day for those who preferred to tip in cash. Food is very subjective, but in our opinion the menus were alright without being brilliant and the food fell broadly into the same category. We considered it overall far below the levels of quality we had experienced on most other ships. Each evening there was a choice of 3 starters, 2 soups (but no salad option apart from an "always available" Caesar Salad), 5 main courses (generally 1 fish, 1 vegetarian and 3 meat) and "always available" salmon, chicken or sirloin steak, 3 desserts plus a choice of ice cream & sorbet. A cheeseboard, coffee/tea and different nice home-made after dinner sweets were offered in addition to a dessert. The menu descriptions were not always terribly accurate but there were some interesting options such as some game dishes and an excellent lobster thermidor, but there was a distinct lack of steak, which is Paul's favorite on the American ships. In fact the only beef offerings during the 2 weeks were a couple of roast beef meals (one of which, it was universally agreed, was awful), one "pot roasted rump steak" (which also turned out to be slices of roast beef) and one braised steak. A good but small beef wellington on the last formal night was the only meal he considered to be a "proper" cruise ship steak dinner. Most nights there was at least one choice which I would have categorized as a cheap, everyday meal such as shepherds pie, toad in the hole, sausages & mash etc and not the sort of dish I would expect to find on a cruise menu. That said, these dishes did seem to be quite popular. There were bread choices listed on the menu but all that the waiters ever seemed to have when they served bread was the same old soft rolls every evening - brown or white was the only choice. Each meal came served with a garnish of potato and/or a vegetable and the waiters served another type of potato and a second veg at the table. Dining - Other Venues The Waterside is the main buffet restaurant. It has serveries on both sides of the ship identical to the Horizon Court on Princess, but on Ventura each servery is divided in half by a rope and the dishes are then repeated on the other side, so basically you get half the number of items. We found the selections adequate but limited and unexciting. There was nothing cooked to order - so eggs for breakfast came ready-fried in trays from the galley and I missed the pancakes and waffles so readily available on American ships. The lunch selection was a fairly basic, an unchanging salad bar with a daily selection of cooked meats, smoked fish etc and usually one curry (or similar), one English pie cooked in individual dishes and one or two other hot dishes. The exception was the cake / dessert section which was fantastic both at lunch and afternoon tea time every day - a large section brimming with a huge assortment of individual cakes, tarts, slices etc and warm scones at tea time. The Beach Hut is the extension to the Waterside further to the aft. The food choices were the same but I preferred this area as it was brighter, lighter, generally less crowded and I thought the food from this servery tended to be hotter. It seems a silly complaint, but the worst thing about the buffet areas on Ventura is the ridiculous trays they provide ! They are huge and heavy (even before being loaded with crockery and food) unlike the usual lightweight melamine sort, and make it almost impossible for 2 tray-carrying diners to pass in an already crowded environment. Once you do find a table there is nowhere to put the trays and the staff who are so keen to force them into your hand when you enter the buffet are less keen to collect them up - although by the end of the cruise a number of us had become "tray avoidance experts" !. Frankie's Pizza bar is situated between the pools and the pizza were cooked to order in a few minutes and lovely. There is also a burger bar which we tried once and it seemed OK but we are not burger experts. We did not try any of the other dining options. East had an interesting oriental menu with a £15 per person cover charge and seemed to be quite busy. The White Room seemed rather out of the way on a high deck at the back of the ship. We went to look on the first day but could not find a menu (they don't display menus outside the main restaurants either). I think the cover charge was £20 each and we might have been tempted if Marco Pierre White had been on board himself - many people like us were surprised he was not there for the maiden voyage. We spoke to 3 or 4 couples who had dined in his restaurant and liked it, apparently the service was exceptional. There is also a Spanish Tapas bar in the "Ramblas" Bar. This area did not seem to be well used at all which is a shame as I thought it was rather nice. Entertainment We found the evening entertainment to be very good. Shows were repeated 3 times, at 7.15pm, 8.45pm and 10.45pm which was wonderful as it gave the opportunity to see 2 shows. We tended to see our first choice of entertainment, usually the main theatre show, at 7.15 then eat and then see a show in one of the other venues at 10.45 if we were not too tired. It was interesting that many of the P & O regulars that we spoke to were disappointed by the entertainment. There were perhaps too many comedians, and some were better than others, but there was always another type of show instead and we found at least one every night that we thoroughly enjoyed, and as you only get one show on most ships the second one was a bonus anyway. The Production shows were all excellent and original, especially "Chronicles" and "Plunder" - the latter takes place near the pool and I don't want to give too much away but it would be best seen from the deck above, we were near the pool bar and did not have a good view or sound quality but the show is fantastic. In addition to the main show in the Arena Theatre there was generally a gameshow and/or comedy act in the midship Tamarind lounge and a music act in the Havana nightclub at the back of the ship. These were also repeated 3 times per evening. An excellent young classical pianist called Maria King was one of the most popular entertainers, performing several times with some varied programmes and not all classical, she had a lovely personality too - some people said she was funnier than the comedians !! The cruise director was very pleasant but his role seemed to be purely an introducer/announcer rather than an entertainer or personality in his own right. Daytime entertainment we considered quite poor. There was an excellent history lecturer on board but apart from him there was little of general interest, the only regular quiz was at 11pm each evening, although in the last couple of days they did add in a couple of afternoon events. There were the standard spa-sales-based talks and some computer and camera courses (which I think were chargeable) but nothing that particularly appealed to us. The "Horizon" daily newspaper looked full of events but many were multiple-listings, eg the Cirque Ventura's bungee trampoline (which cost £3 for about 5 minutes) was listed every hour. The best event of the cruise was the "British Sail Away Party" from Gibraltar, which was a bit like Last Night of the Proms and nearly everyone was on deck. Children Very few on our cruise and the ones that were on board seemed to spend most of their time with the various childrens' clubs. Apparently 300 children were due on board on the next cruise and up to 800 in the summer ! The childrens' facilities are well advertised and probably good. Noddy even put in an appearance at the welcome party !! The Ship - A Little More Detail Ventura has 4 pools, a small one on the back terrace, two main pools on the lido deck (one with a retractable roof) and a lovely "endless pool" in the spa area where you can swim against the current. The sunbeds around this pool were the only ones to have cushions, the ones elsewhere on the ship being less than comfortable. No ship can have everything, but the facility we missed most on the Ventura was a card/games room. There were non-hosted bridge & whist games in one of the restaurants at certain times but the only place to play a private game was in one of the bars or in the buffet restaurant. We heard others bemoaning the lack of a cinema, dance floor and chairs on deck. But Ventura has a lot of good points too, most of the public rooms (with the exception of the Havana lounge where many of the seats have blocked views of the stage) are very nice, comfortable and friendly. Bar prices seemed very reasonable compared to the ships we are used to, at about £2.50 for a pint of beer, spirit or glass of wine. Cocktails started at about £4. There does not seem to be an additional "gratuity" added to bar bills which is a pleasant change. Likewise you tip the cabin steward (and anybody else you wish) in cash at the end of the cruise whatever you see fit, there does not even seem to be a recommended amount. Again, this seems far more like a tip than the fixed $10 day (or whatever) added to the bill on most ships which has become more like an addition to the cruise cost than a gratuity. Ports of Call I intended this review to focus on the ship, as there is a lot of information already on CruiseCritic.com about the standard western Med ports that we visited - Barcelona, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Villefranche & Gibraltar. There were also 2 new ports for us. Santa Margherita which I had considered to be the jumping off point for Portofino but in fact was a really lovely Italian resort in its own right. We tendered right into town and had a lovely day exploring the interesting shops, harbor and beaches. Alicante was our second new port and had a lovely long beach but other than a lovely harbourfront promenade the town seemed rather grotty. I suspect the better area would have been along the beach towards Benidorm where the hotels seemed to be located. Another time we will take the tram that ran from the shuttle bus drop-off and explore in that direction. This was a maiden cruise and we had expected some hiccups but the only real problem we encountered was at the first tender port where apparently there had been some technical problems with some of the tenders and it caused a huge queue. There were also long queues to get on and off the ship at some other ports and going by the anger expressed by a lot of passengers I gather this is not a usual P & O failing, so I am sure the organization will improve with a little time and experience. Summary I do not intend this to be a negative review - Ventura is a nice ship, we enjoyed our cruise very much and would be very happy to sail on her again. However, I don't think we are likely to take many P & O cruises for the very same reasons that we have not done so in the past - namely itinerary and price. This was a good cruise without being particularly memorable and there was nothing that made us feel we had had good value for the extra money over other cruise lines. That said, for anyone who likes several sea days on a larger ship and prefers not to fly then the Ventura will be a good choice. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
I have just returned from the Baltic Splendours cruise - my first foray into this type of holiday. I travelled with my husband and both of us are in our early 50's, so fell fairly in the middle of the age range of those on board. ... Read More
I have just returned from the Baltic Splendours cruise - my first foray into this type of holiday. I travelled with my husband and both of us are in our early 50's, so fell fairly in the middle of the age range of those on board. Check In We were due to embark between 2 and 4pm and joined the queue at about 2.01. We then sat in a queue of traffic for very nearly an hour. We had chosen the on-port parking as we thought it would be easier but having seen the busses all speed past the cars we would choose an off-port parking scheme another time. However, once we had handed our car and luggage over the check-in process was very quick and efficient. We found our cabin easily and one of our cases was waiting for us. The other two turned up within the hour. The cabin struck us as more spacious than we were expecting. We liked the way there was an open hanging area as I would imagine doors would be a bit of a nuisance in a confined space. There were enough hangers for our use. There is a cupboard with 5 shelves in, which also contained the safe, two bedside tables with two drawers each and another large cupboard with one shelf in the dressing table/desk. In addition there are some small open shelves. We found the storage so adequate that we did not use the cupboard in the desk at all. There was a tray of sweets, a single rose and tea/coffee making facilities with biscuits. The tea, coffee etc were replenished every day. The bathroom was compact but with plenty of space to put everything. Two large towels, two small towels and two flannels were provided. There were also two blue towels for use by the pool. There was a lot to read in the bathroom as there were little labels on everything but I welcomed the invitation to put towels to be changed in the shower otherwise they would be left, as I think it is such a waste to change them every day. Our cabin steward looked after us royally and was always friendly and polite when we met him. I did not sleep very well the first night as there was a constant sound, very like a large fan. I thought at first it was just the climate control fan but gradually realized that our cabin was next to the funnel. If you look on the deck plan and your cabin is next to a large blank area then this is it. As the noise is a constant one I soon got used to it and after the first couple of nights slept much better than I do at home. Dining As we had booked fairly last minute we were on the Freedom Dining option. We started booking every day but as we tended to eat early soon found out that this was not necessary, although I understand there was sometimes a wait if you wanted to eat at around 8.30. We thought the food was excellent. The choice was not wide (only 3 starters, for instance) but we were never unable to find something we fancied. Having said that we are open to new experiences and tried several things that we had never even heard of before and lots that we had not experienced before. I would imagine that people who were "meat and two veg" type of diners may have struggled sometimes and fast foodies definitely would have, but then they had the choice of going to the self-service restaurant. The waiting staff were attentive and mostly very efficient. I did hear one person say that she felt they were not as attentive because you didn't have the same waiter every night and so they were not trying too hard for their tip. I felt this was a very cynical point of view and did not find it to be borne out by any of the staff we had. We were served with cheerfulness and flashes of delightful senses of humor, which were always appropriate. Sometimes we dined with others on a larger table and met some delightful and charming people. Others were quite hard work and once I very nearly got up and left when one man was not only moaning about everything and everyone but when we said we were having a very nice holiday started lecturing us on why we couldn't possibly be. For breakfast and lunch we used the Waterside and Beach House self service restaurants. It was sometimes quite difficult to find a table, especially for the first couple of days. However, most people were happy to share and it was another good way to meet new people (I twice missed things I wanted to go to because we had met such lovely people and were enjoying talking to them). It also seemed to get easier as the cruise went on, so whether meal times became more staggered or whether people were taking their food elsewhere to eat I don't know. We also used the Saffron restaurant for a waiter-served breakfast on one occasion, which was very nice but we preferred the self-service. We also ate at the White Room, which was an absolute delight. Everything was cooked to perfection and served beautifully. We tried to book again, but they were full. We did not use East (but heard good reports of it) or the Ramblas tapas bar (where we understand the choice was a little limited) Entertainment We found this to be mixed. There were six "comedy nights" in the Tamarind bar, each consisting of two comedians. Each two did a set each for two nights and then two new ones came on board, so we saw six comedians in all. Some were very funny and some died a rather horrid death in full public view. It's all down to personal taste, I suppose, but given the age of the audience "lager lout and shagging" material did not hit the mark and perhaps the booking of that particular comedian was a mistake. The Ventura Theatre Company worked their socks off. We didn't see all the shows but I think only missed one. They did 4 different shows in the course of our cruise, three times each night they were on. Sometimes the material they had to work with was better than others but they really did try their best and mostly succeeded very well. It was hard to get a seat in the theatre for the middle show but if we couldn't get there early just went and did something else first and went to the late show. The other entertainers in the theatre were generally good and Gary T Thompson was brilliant, as were the Soul Brothers. Bars They are plentiful and varied. We favored Tamarind and Metropolis, but it wasn't always easy to get a seat. Tamarind had a band that played music to dance to, Metropolis had a jazz band and a video wall showing realtime images of various cities by night. There were also: Ramblas which had a Spanish theme and was very handy for a drink after the theatre; Exchange which was supposed to be like a pub and was the only bar you could smoke in so we tended to avoid it; Red which very often had a pianist tinkling the ivories and was very laid back; Tazzine which was a coffee bar with delicious hot chocolate and Havana which was the largest and most underused. The seating in Havana was surrounded by waist high partitions, which meant that when seated you couldn't see the stage properly. It was also used for the family entertainment and as they were rather thin on the ground on our cruise, always seemed to be rather empty. The bar waiters circulated frequently and efficiently. Swimming etc There are four pools, which when weather allowed were well used. The Oasis pool is for adults only but all the others are family pools. One had a roof that could be open or closed as weather permitted. The Oasis pool was supposed to have a machine that created a current for continuous swimming but it did not work for the whole of our cruise. Pools and Jacuzzis were often roped off - presumably for cleaning and maintenance. The gym was well equipped with plenty of machines of torture. We did not use the hair and beauty facilities. The sun decks were well equipped with plenty of sunbeds and we never failed to find one when we wanted one. Excursions As this was our first cruise we booked excursions in most of the ports, but next time I probably wouldn't. In most cases there was either a shuttle bus (sometimes free) or a hop-on hop-off tour (and quite often both) that would get you to the city center or around the major sites. Having said that we did enjoy the excursions we took part in and for St Petersburg it was by far the easiest thing to do because of having to purchase an individual visa if you were not part of an organized group. The worst one was probably Tallinn, where the guide used a remote microphone and we all had headsets. Unfortunately the pitch of voice of the guide and the questionable quality of the equipment made it very difficult to hear what she was saying and I came away feeling I new nothing of the beautiful city. That one I would definitely do by myself with a guide book. The Bad Bits Sorry, but nothing is perfect and there were some things that were not done well. It did say in the book that was sent out in advance of the cruise that a photocopy of the picture page of your passport was needed if you were doing an excursion in St Petersburg. Unfortunately it did not say it anywhere near the excursion pages but in the small print at the front. Being a voracious reader I saw it and went prepared but many, many people had to queue for a long time to get photocopies on board. Big print on the St Petersburg excursion pages would have completely prevented that happening. In general the size of the public spaces was not enough for the number of people on board. For instance the dance floor in Tamarind could really only take about 50 people comfortably. This one is really petty, but worth a mention. The knives for dinner were simply not sharp enough. They must be almost new but they had no cutting edge. This sometimes gave the impression that meat was tough but once you had hacked your way through it the chewing was easy. The staff on Reception failed, on each occasion that I went there, to give anyone their full attention. I work on a reception desk so I do know a bit about it. They were always listening in to what their colleagues were doing and nearly every time the person who was supposed to be helping me would wander off and get involved with another person's query without being asked to. This meant the queue was much longer than it ever needed to be. The excursion to Tallinn was advertised as being one-and-a-half hours walking. Two evenings before they sent out a flier saying this was a misprint and it was in fact 3 hours of walking. The flier invited anyone who may have difficulty with this to visit Explorers and talk to them. Only - when you did go to Explorers it was to find a notice on the desk saying that they were closed until 7pm of the day after next making it almost impossible to speak to them before the excursion. Poor. There was not a great deal of entertainment laid on during sea days. Films were shown but usually for those not going ashore on excursion days. It would have been very nice to have put a couple of extra on for sea days as the weather was very windy and it was not always possible to be doing something outside. The Tate Modern talks were OK but the other major thing offered was digital photography and some of those had a "nominal" fee (sometimes as nominal as £20). I did go to some interesting talks on Russian art but would have appreciated more for adults to do that was not a quiz or bingo. In conclusion We had a lovely holiday and really enjoyed sampling so many different countries. We thought the food excellent, the staff hard working and the entertainment good to excellent. We also met some lovely people whose company we enjoyed. However, I feel that P&O are in danger of falling between 2 stools here. They are pushing the family side of Ventura and seem to have failed to realize that a lot of their loyal cruising customers would also want to sample her delights. Nearly all of them are saying that they will not go on her again so P&O will have to find a new customer base for her and children are at school for a lot of the year. One of the main gripes of the regulars was that the captain was not much in evidence, which was certainly true. We didn't mind but lots of people did. And therein lies the rub, really. We did meet some very pleasant sociable people but I have to say that by and large I have never met such a load of old moaners in my life and it is that which would put me off cruising as my next holiday. We got to the stage where we avoided questions like "are you having a nice time" and "is this your first cruise" because it seemed to start people off on a rant. I think the lady behind me in a queue once was a fine example. As she stood behind me she said "Another queue. It's all queuing on here. I'm fed up with it". There was one other person in front of me! No wonder the captain kept a low profile! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Well - we booked the cruise and then checked out the ship which was probably the wrong way round. We were a little anxious when we found out how big the Ventura was and how many children it may hold.  Oh well, it was booked and paid for ... Read More
Well - we booked the cruise and then checked out the ship which was probably the wrong way round. We were a little anxious when we found out how big the Ventura was and how many children it may hold.  Oh well, it was booked and paid for so we couldn't change our mind.  Glad we didn't!The pre-boarding was absolutely fantastic - the best we've done so far.  It was an apparently new terminal and we hardly waited 10 minutes before boarding. This was around noon and we couldn't go to our cabin until 2pm but we were told to go to the Waterside restaurant for lunch.  Waterside is self service which always makes me worry but needlessly so this time.  The food was of a high standard with a good variety. The salads were marvellous and, I'm sure, not very slimming!!We were allowed into our cabin just after 2pm.  It was an inside one and was very well fitted out. Two wide single beds which we pushed together - we probably could have asked our room steward, Clevy, to do for us.  He made the beds up into a proper, large double later that day.  There was plenty of hanging space and hangers in what I'd roughly describe as walk-in type of wardrobe.  Mirrors were everywhere to heighten the feeling of space and light and the bathroom facilities were good.Evening meals were 'anytime'.  Food was of a very high standard and the service very good most evenings although a couple of times it became a little slow but 2 out of 14 slow nights isn't bad. There were two swimming pools which were adult only and we spent most of our on board time near the 'pointy' end which had plenty of space.  Plenty of sun beds to be had and pool towels were supplied in our rooms.Entertainment was good although a little repetitive.  Lots of quizzes, shows, dancing places so something for everyone. We were lucky that a Scottish comedian was on board who was very funny - he did a Billy Connelly act the second time we saw him.The tours were also good.  We went to Pisa which was a half day trip and the Colloseum and other places in Rome which was full day and very, very tiring as it was so hot.  There was a lot of queuing to get on and off the ship at some ports, Barcelona being the worst.  Perhaps open another gangway and use more than one xray machine???So far good points. Now a couple of bad ones.The waiting staff in the Waterside and Beachside restaurants need to be trained to avoid walking into passengers - they seem to be very reluctant to move aside and one barged into me holding a heavy tray - very painful - he didn't apologise even though I'd moved over and was against the side tables.  He came back in about 5 mins and apologised which was a bit late and I wasn't very nice about it.  Then the restaurant manager came over and apologised.  I think the waiter must have thought about it and was worried about keeping his job if I'd complained.I do think P&O could refrain from charging for teas, coffees and soft drinks when around the pools, decks and bars.  They are free when in the restaurants though.Disembarking was very good and we actually left the ship about an hour earlier than scheduled.  We have now cruised with the Sea Princess (2004) which were impressed with, the QEII (2007) which was just fantastic and now Ventura.  I can honestly say we enjoyed the cruise but it just didn't compare with the very elegant QEII. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Having been very disappointed with service and standards on P&O Arcadia when we sailed on its 15 night Caribbean Collection Cruise in 2007, we booked at short notice on to Ventura`s 17 night Mediterranean Cruise sailing from ... Read More
Having been very disappointed with service and standards on P&O Arcadia when we sailed on its 15 night Caribbean Collection Cruise in 2007, we booked at short notice on to Ventura`s 17 night Mediterranean Cruise sailing from Southampton on 1 September 2009 and hoped for the best. We were pleasantly surprised. P&O have raised their game considerably and much has improved in terms of service and standards. The food was consistently good and the service in all of the restaurants was of an extremely high standard. The Waterside Buffet was well organised with plenty of seating available. We chose Freestyle Dining and found that the Cinnamon Restaurant delivered first class service and excellent choices of high quality dishes. We treated ourselves to Dinner in the White Room and we were delighted with the menu and service. The ship was immaculate and the crew very friendly and helpful. The Cruise Director was the best that we have encountered after many cruises. The Captain and Ships officers got us into every port spot on time and kept us fully informed on every aspect of our progress. Our cabin was kept to a very high standard by Jerry from Goa who tended to our every need with courtesy and good humour. The entertainment in the Arena Theatre was first class and the club style entertainers performing throughout the ship were of an equally high standard with only one exception where in the Havana one night a proportion of the audience walked out in protest to a leud perfomers jokes. The excursions that we took were well organised and good value for money. embarkation and disembarkation processes were swift and efficient. We enjoyed the varied on board lectures which were well attended All in all we enjoyed our cruise greatly, this is a large ship with over 3000 passengers, however P&O have organised things well, so overcrowding is not apparent. The only niggles that we did have were minor. The Information Desk could have been more helpful on the three occasions that we made enquiries we came away without a clear resolution other than to be told that they would report the matter to their management. This latest cruise on Ventura has restored our faith in P&O and we are likely to use the Line again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
I had thought that we were going to a simple beach holiday in Spain, for my snorkelling husband- a prospect which didn't thrill me at all, but to make up for it, he'd booked a Thomson's cruise to the Red Sea in Feb. So the ... Read More
I had thought that we were going to a simple beach holiday in Spain, for my snorkelling husband- a prospect which didn't thrill me at all, but to make up for it, he'd booked a Thomson's cruise to the Red Sea in Feb. So the sudden shock of a cruise instead had me dancing round the room! The local TA has a door to ship offer several times a year, which cuts out most of the hassle. Collected at 5am, then on to one of the 3 coaches he'd provided and away to Southampton by 6. Ventura is one of Carnival's Grand design ships, and is the largest, newest ship we've travelled on. There was ample space for the amount of people, with 4 pools, a full sized theatre, and a large, rambling buffet which I never saw overcrowded. There's also a promenade on 7, which I enjoy. Part of this- starboard- was for smokers, and was always crowded, unlike port side, even in the wild weather which occured from Barcelona.....and virtually all the way home! Cabins are fairly small, but the reason for this is a large walk-in wardrobe, which proved most useful- as was the laundry down the stairs and round the corner. The beds didn't have the mattress toppers we're used to on NCL, and the pillows had suffered from too much washing, resulting in hard balls of lint- most uncomfortable!- but I was given a new one without any fuss. We're not big eaters, nor do we have any sugar, so 2 nights in the freedom eating room were enough. We ate in the buffet after that, even on formal nights, and discovered that the formality almost disappeared by the 2nd week. Each night had a theme, with tables set and attentive wine waiters. Italian, Indian and tropical were our favourite. The entertainment was stunning in the theatre, especially the Jean Ann Ryan shows, with beautiful costumes, lighting and scenery. Several shows had trapeze and circus balancing; thrilling especially when going through a force 9! There was plenty of activities throughout the many sea days; Bill Giles the weather man; Colin Burring on ships and sailors; life planning; circus acts and juggling as well as the "selling" lectures. 2 things I'd like to see on other cruises were the passenger's choir and the discussion groups. In common with lots of other European cruisers, many of the ports we'd visited already, so it was good to find that P&O were looking at new tours. We visited Tuscarnia, to see the stunning 9th century church and walled city, followed by a farm tea at Marta. Good. Our anniversary was at Gibraltar, and after a rousing sail-away, which was more fun than I'd imagined, we prepared for a meal at Marco Pierre White's restaurant. This was superb in every way, from the damson drink to welcome us, to the hand made chocolate truffles at the end. All diets went out of the window! Although there was plenty to do on this vast ship, the sea days home dragged a little, probably because of the weather. Disembarkation was dreadful, as everyone had to queue after finding cases, for 40 mins (in our time slot), before reaching customs. They were stopping lots of people; someone said because we'd visited Gib. The journey home was long and arduous, being Friday at the beginning of half term. Having only travelled once before with P&O, on a very stuffy, longer cruise, we were pleasantly surprised by this one, with the multitude of activities. It's a change to have sensible drinks prices, without the 15%, and none of the penny pinching or grabbing that we've met before on some lines. The gratuities for freedom dining are paid up front, at £1.60 per day, and other tipping is discussed sensibly in a booklet. An altogether refreshing and enjoyable cruise.-jocap. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was our first 'proper' cruise with P&O, we have previously cruised with Royal Caribbean (to the Caribbean and Alaska) and have done weekenders on the Oceana and NCL. Ventura is a beautiful ship. The staff are immaculate ... Read More
This was our first 'proper' cruise with P&O, we have previously cruised with Royal Caribbean (to the Caribbean and Alaska) and have done weekenders on the Oceana and NCL. Ventura is a beautiful ship. The staff are immaculate and very helpful and courteous. I felt she lacked the initial wow factor when we boarded, however she is modern, elegantly furnished and there are some lovely areas that have been very well designed. the Atrium was smaller than I expected having seen photo's but was a lovely place to wander and people watch! Ventura seems to do a good job at catering for most people most of the time. There is the Exchange 'pub' for quizzes, karaoke , bands etc for those who want a lively entertained holiday but also bars like Metropolis which is calm and sophisticated with a pianist at certain times. One of the weakest areas of the ship is the outside space (or lack of it). There are just too many passengers for the space available. There are just hundreds and hundreds of sun beds filling every single corner of available space, and as soon as the sun came out they were all full - or reserved!! There were no clear walkways so it was virtually impossible to get from one end to the other. You could usually find a sun bed, it was just a case of picking your way through the crowds. We headed right to the front and sat in the semi shade of the old sports court which was very pleasant. Another weak point in my opinion was the casino. It was just small and drab. There were a couple of gaming tables and a very small area with lots of fruit machines and stools all crammed in which was also a walkway through. It is also adjacent to the pub and when something was going on in there the noise completely dominated the casino. Not good. We spent very little time and consequently very little money in there because of this. Our room was lovely, clean and tidy, well fitted out and kept spotless morning and evening - thank you Pascoal. I was surprised on the rest of the ship about the lack of enforcement of the use of hand gels. There were a couple (some not working) in the self serve area and that was it. You were not required to do it entering the dining rooms, re-boarding the ship etc, no wonder we all had colds and coughs by the second week. The food was superb all over the ship. The self service was excellent, always something different to try, we tended to go outside peak times to avoid the queues. The Saffron main dining room was also excellent, Bonny and Peter looked after us very well. Lunch and afternoon tea were also very good, possibly a little rushed but very nice. East - the Asian fusion restaurant was absolutely outstanding. The whole thing was superb from start to finish. We went twice in the evening and once for a curry lunch. Well worth every penny of the small supplement. The White Room - the food was very nice, the service was good but it all just seemed to lack something. We ordered 'Medallions of beef with rocket' which in fact translated to steak with lettuce on top. It was a nice evening but I didn't really think it warranted the much larger supplement. I felt that the entertainment was a little regimented, it was always the same band in the same bar at the same time every night. They never rotated. the Entertainment Team for me were not very entertaining or visible. If you like doing quizzes with your morning pint you were fine! There was only two hosted sail away parties the whole two weeks - we were all up on deck - where were they??? Overall we had a good cruise on a nice ship. It was all a bit 'British' for my taste. I quite like the mixture of Americans and Europeans you get on other lines, it makes it feel more like a holiday. I would cruise with P&O again and possibly on Ventura but only to the Baltic's or Fjords where sun beds would not be an issue. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Ventura Cruise N009 - April 2010 We dealt with a travel agent rather than P@O directly. Price paid was less than P@O's internet pricing. However when we tried to upgrade, we were advised that we could only take that route at the ... Read More
Ventura Cruise N009 - April 2010 We dealt with a travel agent rather than P@O directly. Price paid was less than P@O's internet pricing. However when we tried to upgrade, we were advised that we could only take that route at the price difference prevailing when we booked - not the current (lower) price. Be warned. We decided to take our car to Southampton and arranged for the valet parking (included in price) to be carried out by CPS. What an excellent job they did. As we arrived early, we had to queue for sometime until P&O allowed passengers to begin boarding (12.30pm.). Cabins were ready at 2.00pm. Our balcony cabin was considered by us to be small - less than 200 square feet with a fair amount of hanging space. There was also a safe. The shower room was quite compact - but it did the job well save for the fixed head shower unit itself which was a slight problem. We prefer flexible units. Their was a small but quite adequate fridge stocking iced water and ice. Plenty of room to keep mixers etc. Fair sized television with SKY news, a choice of old TV programmes and the ships log. You can also keep a running tab regarding your account on screen. There is a dressing table with two 13amp sockets plus a hair dryer. The saving grace for the cabin (stateroom) was the very large size of the veranda balcony. This was nearly half the size of the cabin. Plenty of room for a small table, footrest and two reclining chairs. Smoking is allowed on the balcony. However, the walls in the cabin are very thin and I was woken by a passenger in the next cabin snoring. The following point is quite important if you are booking a superior balcony or a balcony cabin: A and B deck balconies overlook C and D deck balconies. C deck balconies also overlook D balconies. This might at first seem a bit intrusive - but when the sun is high, you still get the sun on C and D balconies - not A and B. We regularly sunbathed on our C deck balcony well into the afternoon. So we had the sun from early morning for most of the day (starboard side). Lastly you could order breakfast in your stateroom - but not bacon and eggs. Passenger disembarkation on the days in port was very smooth in all cases including those ports that were tendered. Whilst on the subject of port visits, P&O do not seem to have a policy in place for confiscating your duty free alcohol or cigarettes when you return from your trip as some other lines do. That could be a big plus. But watch out! Customs in the U.K. are red hot. We were stopped even though we weren't carrying any duty free goods other than a half bottle of Blue Gin. Now for the amenities on the ship. There are a considerable number of bars (both drinking and snack). You could get a snack any time of the day or night with The Waterside restaurant open 23 hours per day with a good quality of food (self service). The main problem with the Waterside is that it cannot accommodate the people who whish to use it. Only on one occasion did we manage to gain a table in the restaurant - other times we had to use the open area by the pool either to have our breakfast or a snack. P&O need to address this problem - but it will be a difficult one to solve. There are other restaurants on board which have waiter service. As we chose Freedom Dining we were allocated to the Cinnamon Restaurant where you could turn up at any time (until 9.30pm.) and be allocated a table, you would be very lucky to get a table for two without having to wait. For instant entrance you would normally be sitting on a table for eight. This could be good or bad depending whether you wanted to talk to anyone or not. Speciality dining is a big feature on most cruise lines. I guess that it is a high profit centre. The White Room which we tried on my birthday charges £20 per head as a cover charge. A lot extra to pay out for mediocre food - although the service was first class. East's cover charge is £10 per head and specialises in oriental cuisine. Our very personal view is that this restaurant was awful. The fusion dish that we were served was chicken, fish and beef all at the same time. This did not work for us and the restaurant was empty most nights. The other cover charge restaurant is Rambles which is a pseudo Tapas restaurant with a cover charge of £5 per head. Food was O.K. but waiter service was indifferent and somebody should tell P&O that serving up a small dish of peas and carrots does not constitute a Tapas dish. Keeping on the theme of service, our main restaurant (Cinnamon) had a first rate service culture and was well staffed. There is a charge already added to your bill for restaurant staff tips at about £1.50 per day per passenger. The cost of laundry might be worthwhile mentioning: Shirt: £3.50; T Shirt: £2.50p.; Trousers: £4.00p.; Tie: £4.00p. We couldn't fault the entertainment with something going on every evening from classical through to Bee Gees. Three variety stage shows in the two week cruise. With a quality that can't be beaten. There were many courses on offer during the day and I took advantage of the photo processing course. It was very good value. Other classes available included dancing, bridge, 5 a side football, family trees, line dancing etc. Always something to do. There is a small library and book shop (selling books at full price) which operates during the day. There are a few chairs but it is very difficult to find somewhere (other than your own stateroom) where you can get some peace and quiet on this 116,000 ton ship. And whilst I think of it there is no deck to run round due to the poor design of the vessel. In fact to get to the rear bar (Metropolis) from forward, you had to walk to the aft of the ship and then get a lift to the top floor. There are overwhelming opportunities to buy clothing, handbags, jewellery, gifts, and watches on board. Not satisfied with selling within the shops, as the days wore on, trestle tables were brought out so that a pinch point was created and you had to slow down to look at the merchandise on offer. Even during a wait in the restaurant bar for our table at dinner we couldn't hear ourselves. Sales people were literally shouting out loud - just like a market stall, selling, selling selling. I did on one occasion make a complaint to a senior officer who told me he could do nothing about the noise. In fact that last sentence could sum up the attitude to the staff on board. It was very poor. If there was no tip in the offing - then they weren't interested. If it was outside their remit then again they were not interested. This included officers. Our cabin steward was very good, and deserved his tip at the end. Thought we might mention alcohol. Alcohol is available to drink in your cabin from your steward. The corkage charge is £1.50 per bottle which is quite cheap. For example, Baileys litre bottle cost was £10 from the shop (who would let you have it at the end of the cruise) plus £1.50 corkage to drink in your room if purchased from the steward.. Well worth it when you consider that the bar price for Baileys is £4.70 for a 50ml measure. My local pub charges £2.85 for the same measure, tax and duty paid. The profit on that makes your eyes water. We have noted below some prices: Pint of lager: £2.90. Pint of bitter: £2.65. Bottle of Stella 330ml: £2.75p. Cola 150ml can: £0.75p.Gin: £2.15 for a 25ml. measure. Glenfiddich whisky: £2.60 for 25ml. Benson & Hedges cigs: £2.55p. for 20. Golden Virginia per 50 gram - £4.95p.Crisps: 80p. Had a couple of massages whilst on board priced between £60 & £88. Very expensive but oooh so worth it! Incidentally we had booked our massages direct with P&O some weeks before leaving. No details of the booking existed in the spa. I'm told that that was not the first time that had happened. Disembarkation was very smooth at Southampton. Had to wait about an hour and a half to get off, but were so relaxed by this time that it didn't matter. All in all a very enjoyable cruise. We always say that we will try and watch the pennies next time, but P&O have money extraction down to a fine art. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Living just 20 minutes drive from the port this is what appeals about cruising though it is probably not our favourite type of holiday. Embarkation was swift and 30 mins after dropping off our luggage we were in our cabin. This was our ... Read More
Living just 20 minutes drive from the port this is what appeals about cruising though it is probably not our favourite type of holiday. Embarkation was swift and 30 mins after dropping off our luggage we were in our cabin. This was our 6th P & O cruise, our first onboard Ventura. Had always shied away from Ventura thinking the ship is too big. However, very pleasantly surprised. Yes she is bigger than the other P & O ships but didn't feel so large that we would get lost or miss things, in fact navigating the ship was easy. Booked a basic inside cabin but got upgraded to outside part restricted view so that was a bonus. The cabin is well laid out with plenty of space to move around. Loads of storage space and liked the open plan wardrobe. Bathroom was smaller than other ships but perfectly adequate. Opted for 2nd sitting fised dining, table size 6, which we got. Enjoyed the company of our table guests. The waiters, including wine steward, were friendly and enjoyed it when we involved them in conversation, they work hard and the service couldn't be faulted. Always something on the menu to suit everyone though wish the main meals weren't accompanied by various potatoes or veg and that these were brought out separately with the potatoes & veg of the day. Enjoyed a beer or two in most of the bars and again the service was efficient, the staff like it if you engage in conversation with them. The entertainment was varied with something to suit everyone from traditional pianist, singers and groups to comedians and tribute acts as well as the ship's headliners company. Having cruised the Med before did not join in any excursions as we did our own thing. Disembarkation was as swift as embarkation which surprised me since there were more passengers and luggage to unload than previoulsy experienced. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We sailed on Ventura for 14 nights from Soutampton - Springbank Holidays. Embarkation was good. We needed assistance with a wheelchair. Our balcony cabin was good, with lots of clothes storage. Shower was rather small. The balcony had 2 ... Read More
We sailed on Ventura for 14 nights from Soutampton - Springbank Holidays. Embarkation was good. We needed assistance with a wheelchair. Our balcony cabin was good, with lots of clothes storage. Shower was rather small. The balcony had 2 lay back chairs,a stool & a table, it was not possible to lay out flat on the balcony. We were on A deck and thought C deck balcony was larger, but overlooked from above, they also had sun when ours had gone. No towel sculptures on an evening. The cabin had tea making facilities & tea/coffee etc was provided. We had 2nd sitting for evening meal [8.30pm] Was a little late as we did not get out until around 11.00 on some nights. Food quality was excellent. We dined in the white House restaurant one night [£20 extra] not worth it as the meal was not any better. We used the set restaurant for most of our meals, as it was almost impossible to get a table in the buffet restaurant. We tried different times, but always the same. Almost all waiters, cabin staff etc were from India. Some were pleasant, but many were sullen. All staff referred to the ladies as MADAME, which did not sound very friendly. We are usually addressed by our names. The entertainment was good and there were 3 shows, so we could catch the early one before dinner. Bars were always full, little dancing though. Main criticism we had was with the sun loungers. Impossible to get one on sea days.Towels were being put our early morning & left all day, even when not in use. These on most ships would have been removed if not in use, but this did not happen. There was no adult pool, so all pools were full of children, shouting & splashing around. We were assisted with the wheelchair when we got off at ports. As the ship is large we docked often in an industrial port with working ships & containers for the view. Some of the posts we were provided with a shuttle, but 2 ports we had to pay and there was no way that we could have walked. Disembarkation was quite the opposite to embarkation. Masses of people trying to get off all at the same time. We were not let off until 9.15 although we had a card for 8.45. We had booked a taxi and they were there waiting to take us to the Holiday Inn, where we had left our car. There were porters at the dock to help if needed. If you can, do the self/express disembarking, they were off at 7.00 with no problems. The ship did not seem to have decided whether it was a traditional/formal cruise ship or a casual/we do not do cruises ship. We would not sail on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Summary. My wife and I took a seven day cruise from Southampton to Vigo, Lisbon, Bilbao and Brest. We have cruised about ten times but this was our first cruise with P&O. We liked the ports of call, thought there was a good selection ... Read More
Summary. My wife and I took a seven day cruise from Southampton to Vigo, Lisbon, Bilbao and Brest. We have cruised about ten times but this was our first cruise with P&O. We liked the ports of call, thought there was a good selection of evening entertainment and found the drinks prices very reasonable. We were less impressed with the food, which although well cooked was uninspiring and too British, and at times we found the atmosphere rather too much like a holiday camp. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and thought it was pretty good value for money. Arrival/Departure. We drive to Southampton and parked using CPS. There was about a 15 minute wait to check our car in on arrival and then about a half hour wait to check-in for the cruise, but it was all quite orderly. Departure was excellent. Passengers are allocated coloured tags indicating a time to get off the ship. We swapped ours without difficulty to get earlier ones and it took only fifteen minutes to get off the ship, collect our bags, and get our car back. Food & Drink. We had wanted Freedom Dining but that was unavailable (we booked quite late) and we were allocated to a table for eight in 2nd sitting (usually 8.30pm). Although the ship was full only one other person turned up for dinner at our table each evening. Presumably the other five preferred to eat in the buffet or perhaps one of the extra cost dining venues. We sometimes ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room and sometimes in the buffet restaurants on the pool deck. The quality of the food was consistent and reasonable but we were disappointed with the lack of variety. In the dining room all choices were meat, potato and vegetables. By the end of the week we were longing for pasta or rice dishes. On the rare occasions where a main course was more interesting (e.g. calves liver with pea risotto or barramundi with Japanese noodles) they came with tiny amounts of rice/noodles and then the waiters brought mashed potato and boiled cabbage to heap on the plate! I don't see why it should be necessary to pay extra for the premium restaurants to get a good meal. Entertainment. Everyone's tastes are different but we thought the quality of the evening entertainment was pretty good and varied. The only disappointment was the guest speaker, Sir Henry Cooper, who was embarrassingly awful. We found less to interest us among the organised daytime activities on sea days, but lots of the events seemed well attended. Ports of Call. We had read that Vigo had little of interest so had booked an excursion to Santiago de Compostella. Then at the start of the cruise we got a note from the shore excursions team that Santiago was likely to be extremely busy and we might be unable to get inside the cathedral. This was because 2010 is a Holy Year and the day we were in Vigo was a local public holiday. We opted to cancel the excursion and just wandered around Vigo. Perhaps because we had low expectations we actually quite liked Vigo. There's a lovely garden area within castle walls above the town, with great views. Although all the shops were initially closed with it being a holiday, by lunchtime quite a few had opened. We did our own thing in Lisbon, having bought a guide book and got various tips from CruiseCritic and TripAdvisor forums. We took the first shuttle bus into the centre (they drop off and pick up in the Placa dos Restauradores) and went into the adjacent Metro to buy day travel cards. For 4.20 Euros each you get unlimited use of trams, funiculars and buses for the day. We spent the morning walking around the city centre, including a trip up the Elevator de Santa Justa and taking tram 28 over to the cathedral and up to the Castle. In the afternoon we took tram 15 to Belem. As Ventura had moored just upstream from the big suspension bridge we were able to get off the tram on the way back at the fist stop after passing under the bridge approach from where it was an easy walk back to the ship. In Bilbao we also did our own thing. We got the first shuttle bus, walked along the river, took the Artxanda funicular up for great views over the city, then back down and continued around the river to the Guggenheim. The building is great. We were less impressed with the art (?) inside. We then walked back to and around the old town, then took the metro to Areeta to see the Vizcaya transporter bridge. From there it was a 45 minute walk back to the ship. You could shorten the walk by taking the metro out a couple more stops but the walk is very scenic - well worth doing if you aren't exhausted. In our final port of call, Brest, we had booked an excursion to Quimper. We booked one with a guided walking tour of Quimper but quickly abandoned the guide and walked around on our own. With a large group the guided tour was taking forever and we would have seen far less (but perhaps learned more about the few things we did see). Quimper is lovely. Service. Staff were efficient and generally very pleasant. Compared to other (mostly American) ships we found the waiters less sociable. They did their job but had no conversation, even though their English was at least as good as it has been on other ships. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Agreed at the last minute to join friends who were sailing out on Ventura on 12th June with much apprehension as possibly I read too many reviews on the internet. Well we were most pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. I might ... Read More
Agreed at the last minute to join friends who were sailing out on Ventura on 12th June with much apprehension as possibly I read too many reviews on the internet. Well we were most pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. I might add that we are seasoned cruisers having sailed on almost all the P & O ships and 3 times with Royal Carribean. Our cabin was excellent, spacious and we really appreciated the balcony, it was out first time to have one. The weather was very hot and it was bliss to escape back to the ship and our very own 'space'. The food was very good and lots of options, although we mostly dined in Medina with our pals, 1st sitting. We usually had to rush to get to the shows in the theatre as mostly they were very well attended. By and large we enjoyed the programmes put on there but later it was impossible to get into the tribute shows in the smaller theatre. Went several times but had to leave as it was 'standing room' only. At no time did we see any unruly children or teenagers, and there were some on board. Our fellow cruisers were well-mannered and friendly, mostly British. When we had to tender it was a bit of a drag getting 3,000 people ashore but P & O did organise it as best they could and one just had yto show some patience. Embarkation na dis-embarkation was dealt with in a very efficient manner. Summing it all up - a very enjoyable experience. Forgot to add that the highlight of the cruise for me was a ship's trip up into the mountains of Corsica from Ajaccio. What spendour, now I know why its called the 'scented isle'. If you go to Corsica make sure you take a tour to those majestic mountains. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Having spent 15 days on Ventura in the Caribbean some 18 months previously,we had am element of reassurance that we at least knew our ship, if not our destinations. Southampton proved to be an easy port to use apart from P+O's ... Read More
Having spent 15 days on Ventura in the Caribbean some 18 months previously,we had am element of reassurance that we at least knew our ship, if not our destinations. Southampton proved to be an easy port to use apart from P+O's ridiculous alphabet boarding which meant if you arrived on time there was a full ships worth of passengers in the embarkation hall! No matter we let that one pass and were duly embarked without fuss. When we on Ventura the first time we noted that it rolled around a bit and we were still in Barbados harbour, which we thought strange; and it continued to do this throughout that cruise. Many thought it had a stabiliser fault, but it did not worry us too much and we enjoyed the great itinerary. This cruise was different, in that the ship still rolled around like a pig in a bath, but the weather was foul which was disappointing in the first instance, and bad luck in the second. The first port of call was La Coruna on the North Western peninsular of Spain, a pleasant enough town to wander around for an hour, but not much more. Excursion options on this day and for most of the cruise were limited so we were soon back on the ship minus a few shekels which madam deems customary practice to spend in a shop or three! The third day was Bilbao a short distance along the coast and the main city in the Basque region. A few more places to visit such as the Guggenheim museum, and a big city to explore. Transfer time from the ship to the city was slow and of course it rained.I think I would sum up the city as ok, probably better in the sunshine, but I would not rush back too quickly. On day four we arrived at La Rochelle somewhere we were looking forward to visiting. This French town is on the same level as Cognac, and has a lovely old part to it as well as a nice harbour. P+O decided to berth the ship 25 minutes away and bus everyone in on complementary coaches, not perfect but hey ho? The town was a dream, old narrow streets full of quaint unusual buildings, and to our delight a beautiful food market. The fresh fruit and veg was displayed quite rightly with pride in the outdoor stall area, with every imaginary species available. We then entered the indoor food hall, housing fish, meats poultry, bread, cheese and cakes, all a joy to behold. We had big grins on our faces the whole two hours we spent there. We bought a giant piece of french crusty bread and a slice of ripe Brie to eat on the balcony.A bowl of Moules et Frites in a small cobbled street finished the visit of perfectly, until the heavens opened!!We quickly headed back toward the pick up area. We then noticed a bunch of fellow passengers on a street corner doing nothing which seemed strange? On rounding the corner, to our dismay we saw the rest of the ships quota queued as far as you could see toward the coach collection point. We heard some had been there for 1.5 hours already.Being an impatient so in so, I decided we would go and remonstrate with the people responsible at the stop. It turned out that the French drivers decided they were going for lunch regardless of the contract...C'est la vie! Embarrassingly, as I walked along past the front of the queue and the only coach to arrive for an hour, the lady organiser waived down a different coach type, gave a few terse orders in French to the driver and said to me, Ventura? Oui, I said as quick as a flash, and we were on. I was so ashamed, sitting there on the front seat when those poor folks had queued all that time. Ok, I'm sorry if it was you but we were owed a slice of luck and I guess that was it? Two minutes into the journey I heard complaints about bad feet..oops, brie me thinks? We got back to the ship, ordered red wine and sat on the balcony spooning the ripe brie on to the crusty bread...Fantastic. The next day was Brest, on the North West part of France. Now I guess Brest looks grim when the sun shines, but when it rains.....yuk. All passengers made a hasty retreat back to the ship. The last port was Guernsey, when it again rained in the morning!!!The town of St Peter Port was really nice and as you may have guessed by now we had lunch. Fresh seafood on the harbour front, lovely. Lets deal with the ships amenities. We ate in the White room on day one and the food and service were immaculate, and Marco himself was on board as he was the last time we were on the ship. Whatever you have heard he is a very gracious man, who listens intently to all you say. If you get a chance eat there do so, you will not be disappointed. The main restaurant was ok but not special. The food was average and the waiters seemed to be practicing for a cutlery juggling contest. They need more practice! We also ate in the Tapas bar, fantastic, and on the final night, East, which seemed grossly under used which was a shame as the food and service were brilliant.P+O's drinks prices are really good, half the price of the American alternatives. We were drinking beautiful wine with our meal for under £10; not bad eh? The evening shows were quite good, particularly Mike Doyle the Welsh comedian/singer who did two nights. Nothing was sacred in his mickey taking of the passengers and crew, and everyone raved about the performances. Elsewhere there was a good mixture of music to suit all tastes, and most seemed content. So, it may seem to readers that there were a few negatives, and yes there were, but we had a good time and would not want to put others off. Add some sunshine and it could be a delightful cruise. Disembarkation was the quickest and most painless ever. Well done P+O. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
THE VERY GOOD Buffet breakfasts and lunches were excellent with good choices and fresh food, ample seating even with a full ships complement. Inside cabins were spacious for two people and well equipped. Transfers to and from the ship at ... Read More
THE VERY GOOD Buffet breakfasts and lunches were excellent with good choices and fresh food, ample seating even with a full ships complement. Inside cabins were spacious for two people and well equipped. Transfers to and from the ship at ports of call were well organised. Drink prices onboard weren't too exorbitant. The speciality dining room EAST carrying a supplement of £15 per head for early dining is an excellent dining experience and good value for money. THE GOOD There is a good selection of bar and entertainment venues and the main theatre provides plenty of good seating. Entertainment was varied and catered for most tastes. The Bay Tree main dining room was a pleasant dining area and had an adequate if not spectacular selection of meals. The shore excursion out of Olden to Stryn valley was interesting and informative even on a drizzly, cloudy day. THE NOT VERY GOOD We had a late allocation inside cabin (D524) which was listed as an upgrade from OE to OC. Avoid this at all costs. For 2 nights we suffered noise from the location close to the ships funnel.On the next day this turned into a mechanical vibration from somewhere close by. After complaints about the noise and vibration and several visits from various P&O personnel we were moved to a Deck C forward cabin for the rest of the week, and apart from some noise from the theatre was a great improvement. The attitude of the predominantly Indian bar and lounge attendants was less than enthusiastic. The standard of food presentation and main course vegetable choices in the main dining room were poor compared to other cruises we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We've recently returned from our first cruise and enjoyed it so much that we're now cruise converts! We'd been interested in booking a cruise for sometime but weren't sure if it was our sort of holiday. We did lots of ... Read More
We've recently returned from our first cruise and enjoyed it so much that we're now cruise converts! We'd been interested in booking a cruise for sometime but weren't sure if it was our sort of holiday. We did lots of research as to which would be a suitable ship and eventually picked P & O's Ventura, we thought we'd go for 7 days only, just in case we didn't like it. We used the P & O website to book the holiday, getting a 10% discount and double on-board spend. We had staterooms A501 with a balcony and A517 inside and also chose the freedom-dining option. Living only three-quarters of an hour from Southampton, we had a short drive to the Ocean Terminal and were impressed with the CPS parking arrangements. Wasn't really sure what to expect with the check-in procedure but were pleasantly surprised with how smooth, efficient and stress-less it was. We arrived about 1.00pm and it was busy - it was announced later in the day that there had been 2,500 people in the terminal at that time - but considering the amount of people checking in we couldn't believe that it only took 45 mins between arriving and boarding. We went up to the Waterside Restaurant, had something to eat and it was announced that the cabins were ready at about 2.00pm. Following a quick walk around Deck 15 we went to our cabins. Some of the luggage was already outside the door; some didn't turn up until a few hours later. We had a balcony cabin and an inside one. Both were very comfortable. The beds were really comfy, plenty of storage space, etc. The hairdryer was powerful enough to dry my thick, shoulder, length hair; it was an ordinary plug in one (not one of those powerless wall mounted ones you sometimes find in hotel), so don't worry about packing a hairdryer. My GHD's also worked perfectly. Two small bottles of water were supplied, along with tea, coffee, milk, biscuits and sweets. Complimentary toiletries were by the White Company. Beach towels were also supplied. The balcony was great, enough room for three of us to sit out on and wasn't overlooked, although we could look down onto Decks C and D. We used either the Beach House or the Waterside for breakfast. Lots of choice from traditional cooked breakfast, through to cereals, pastries, fruits, etc. Although the ship was full we never had a problem finding a table. You could also have breakfast delivered to your room. Lunchtimes (when onboard) we used the Waterside Restaurant (wide choice of food) or Frankies, where they did lovely pizzas to order and a good burger (perfect for when you're relaxing on deck or using the pool). Occasionally we would pop into Waterside for a bit of afternoon tea, where there was a selection of sandwiches, cakes, etc. There was a silver-service tea in Saffron each afternoon but we never got as far as getting there; next time maybe..... In the evenings we used either Cinnamon (we went at about 7.00pm and never had a problem getting a table), Beach Bistro or Waterside. Again, a wide range of food, always well cooked and presented. I'm veggie and had no problems finding something to eat. We had a quick peek into Marco Pierre White's restaurant and it looked very inviting, they also did a good veggie option. However, we were so busy trying the other restaurants that we ran out of time to go there. Apparently, MPW was on Ventura the week before, so we just missed him. Entertainment was very good. My favourites were the Four Tops and Drifters Tribute Groups. We also saw Saturday Night Fever and a Freddie Mercury Tribute. There were also plenty of different quizzes including a Dr Who one, talks, classes, etc. Cheryl Baker was guest speaker, not my cup of tea but others who saw her found her enjoyable. The facilities for children looked fantastic and my nephews would of loved them. All the children seemed happy and were well behaved. I had a quick look round but didn't use the gym. Plenty of equipment and great views. At the Oasis Spa is a sauna and steam room for general use. Also for £10 a day you had unlimited use of the Thermaspa. This I did use and it had a couple of steam rooms and a lanconium, complete with warm tiled beds for relaxing on. I felt great after using this. Outside is the adult pool, which although slightly chilly is meant for swimming in, rather than playing in. It was also a lap pool but unfortunately the machinery was out of order last week, due to some rough weather on the previous cruise! There were also two lovely Jacuzzi's too. We used the indoor Beachcoomber Pool on the wet days and the Laguna Pool on the sunny days both were lovely and warm. Didn't get to try the Terrace Pool as we tended to always be down the other end of the boat. Weather wise we had a real mixed bag, so you'd be wise to take summer and winter clothes on a trip to the Fjords. Our first full day at sea was gloriously hot, with lots of sunbathing, swimming and general relaxation. The North Sea was also very calm - not what we were expecting at all, even the Captain commented on how kind the North Sea had been to us. The four stops were as follows:- Bergen - when we arrived at Bergen it was drizzly/low cloud/foggy. We used the shuttle bus and had a good walk around Bergan. We were also going to use the funicular railway, which can easily be done independently, but as we couldn't see the top of the mountain because of the poor weather we decided to abandon this and went back to the boat after a couple of hours. As soon as we got back to the boat the weather improved and the sun came out! Bergen is a pretty little town and well worth a look around. Flam - it rained all day One of the Costa boats was already moored up at the quay, so Ventura used its tenders instead. We'd already booked via P & O to do the Flam railway trip but I expect it would be cheaper to do this independently. The line is 12.4miles and at its steepest gradient it's 1 in 18. There were lots of stunning views and waterfalls, especially the Kjosfossen. At the top of the line we visited the hotel where we had coffee and waffles with raspberry jam and sour cream, yum, yum. Ventura and the Costa ship had a bit of a competition with their horns, which was great fun. Olden - raining. We visited the Briksdal Glacier, again pre-booked with P & O. I expect it would be difficult to get here independently. There are two options with this tour, either walking the whole way or getting the troll bus halfway and walking the rest. We walked the whole way and it can be a steep walk in places (especially in the pouring rain). The troll bus takes you up the steep bit and then drops you off to walk the rest of the way to the glacier. There is a steep bit after the troll bus drops you off and I saw one old lady struggling to make it up this bit, however after this it's a much flatter walk and well worth the effort to see the retreating the glacier. Again, there's a thunderous waterfall half-way up the steep bit, so you might get wet there, even on a dry day. We also had a nice selection of coffee and cakes at the Briksdal hotel on our return. Stavanger - in the morning the weather was overcast, however in the afternoon there was wonderful blue sky. Ventura moored up in the city centre and this was perfect for a gentle wander around. On our last day at sea, again the weather was warm, with blue skies, perfect for a last bit of relaxation before our return to Southampton. Disembarkation was equally smooth. We were given an allocated time of 8.15am to leave the boat and our luggage was waiting for us in the terminal. There was a short walk over to the CPS Car Park and we were on our way back to Bournemouth by 8.45am. We thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and loved the Ventura. We're now looking at the Caribbean Cruises for next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Just back from a two week cruise on Ventura with our two children (age 2 & 4. As usual with P&O, embarkation was very quick and easy. We had some reservations about the size of the ship, but can honestly say we never felt we were ... Read More
Just back from a two week cruise on Ventura with our two children (age 2 & 4. As usual with P&O, embarkation was very quick and easy. We had some reservations about the size of the ship, but can honestly say we never felt we were on board with 3000 other pasengers. Around 100 children were on board, most of which we never saw, but were informed during August School Holidays there were 800! That would have been very noticiable. Our biggest mistake was booking the fixed time eating at 6:30. Having always eaten at 8:30pm on previous cruises we booked the earlier sitting to "fit in" with our childrens routine at home, however the rush to get us all ready in time for dinner was not worth it, missing some of the best parts of the day on deck to get ready. Often the childrens meal would not turn up until we started our main course which led to a fed up children and a complaint to the head waiter. By the second week we gave up and started eating in the Waterside or Beach Hut when we wanted which was so much more relaxed. Our cabin was very roomy having booked the superior deluxe cabin with a sofa bed instead of bunks. Small details like a blue duvet and pink duvet for our son and daughter was a nice touch, (as was the complimentary champagne, chocolates, robes and slippers for my Husband and I). However on the downside we felt that the staff were more impersonal and looked under more pressure than on previous cruise ships (Adonia, Oriana, Arcadia), the cabin was not that clean, we found a dirty pair of girls pants and a used knife under the sofa-bed, my mum found a pair of men's pants in her cabin also! The kids club in general was clean, very well organised with large areas for the children to play including an indoor soft play area and secure outdoor play area, computers and a well stocked toilet/nappy changing facility. The kids programme was vast and ran until 10:30pm where upon which our children were usually asleep and could be transferred if you wish to the night nursery, although we did not use this service. Overall, Ventura is an excellent ship for Children, my Husband and I have learnt to select freedom dining from now on and our impressions of Ventura were good but the food and entertainment was not as high standard as previously experienced on P&O's smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
2nd time on the Ventura 1st time was on the Med, this time transatlantic to the Caribbean. Over all it was an enjoyable cruise just a couple of grumbles. But first the good points. Our cabin was an outside and was very comfortable, ... Read More
2nd time on the Ventura 1st time was on the Med, this time transatlantic to the Caribbean. Over all it was an enjoyable cruise just a couple of grumbles. But first the good points. Our cabin was an outside and was very comfortable, and the cabin layout was great, we particularly liked the open plan wardrobe, it gives you lots of space for cases etc, The in cabin entertainment was wonderful, with a great choice of free tv and free movies. The food was wonderful, the entertainment was amazing in quantity and quality, the cruise director Leon de Ste Croix was excellent. As were the guest speakers among which was Duncan Mckenzie who did a few wonderful talks and a very entertaining Q&A session in the theatre. We had about 5 comedians on the cruise 3 singers 2 groups and a classical pianist, so as I said amazing entertainment. Bar prices were excellent, UK pub prices in fact Also the ship its self is beautiful and well maintained. The minus points were, some of the passengers :-( P&O had drastically reduced the cruise prices just before the sailing date, so much that some of the passengers were from the lower end of the passenger scale and would have been better suited to "Butlins or Pontins". That may sound snobbish but i'm far from a snob (from a Liverpool council estate originally) but I have done 20+ cruises and I do know how to behave with people and how to consider other people. Anyway on with this review, most of the time it was not possible to get a sunbed with people reserving them from early morning 6 - 6.30am in some cases. One last thing was some of the staff in the waterside in particular the lads who were clearing tables, they were not as friendly or efficient as they usually are and were very very slow to replace cups and glasses in the drinks areas, quite often none of the drinks areas had any cups or glasses and you had to ask for them and then eventually got them. All that said it was still a good cruise and we did enjoy it. One last thing I must commend P&O for their transfer organisation it was brilliant both getting to the ship by coach from Manchester and getting to the airport in Barbados, one great thing was putting your bags outside the cabin on last night and not seeing them till Manchester airport, OTHER CRUISE LINES TAKE NOTE !! :-) Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Our itinerary was Southampton to Zeebrugge (For Bruges) and return to Southampton. 25th to 27th March 2011.Booked through a cruise agent we had used before and no problems on this. However on all the documentation I received there was no ... Read More
Our itinerary was Southampton to Zeebrugge (For Bruges) and return to Southampton. 25th to 27th March 2011.Booked through a cruise agent we had used before and no problems on this. However on all the documentation I received there was no indication which berth, at Southampton, the Ventura sailed from. A few years ago when sailing from Southampton with P&O we always left from the Mayflower Terminal (Dock Gate 10), good job I phoned to check beforehand as the Ventura sailed from Ocean Terminal Dock Gate 4 !! Other passengers I spoke to had to enquire also.Embarkation: No problem with porters taking luggage from car as soon as I arrived and parking car in short term car park adjacent to the terminal was hassle free. On entering the embarkation hall just after 2pm (the advertised opening time) we were greeted by a mass of passengers all waiting to be checked in. We were given a coloured card with a letter denomination and had to wait for our card identification to be called before we could advance to check in. Green E was being called on arrival and we were Red B. (green & red cards only issued so you can do the maths to work out the anticipated waiting time). We waited approx. 1hr.Checking in: Very easy, except we were informed we had a cabin upgrade from C deck to B deck, but it was just the same outside with balcony status. Seeing that our suitcase had been taken from us on arrival and was tagged with our original cabin number on C deck, I asked whether there would be a problem in delivering the luggage to our new allocated cabin. We were informed it should be OK as they have a system of cross referencing things.On Board: Great looking ship, no complaints with accommodation, food and waiting staff. On board entertainment in the evening was very good. However, getting back to the suitcase: our cabin steward asked if we had received our luggage and on seeing we had not and eventually grasping the circumstances (Language difficulty) he said he would chase. 1hr later still no luggage, so phoned reception to query as we ideally wanted a fresh change of clothes for dinner at 6.30pm. They would check. After a further hour, visited reception to query again, as we only had 30 mins to go before dinner. They said they would check and do a 'deck sweep.Needless to say we had to go to dinner in the clothes we travelled in.I checked outside the cabin we had originally bee allocated on C deck but could not find case, even checked the stray case area, allocated to missing cases, but still no joy. Eventually at 8.45pm our case arrived. 5 and three quarter hours after arriving on board. My assumption is they do NOT have a good system for cross checking of information on luggage appertaining to late cabin changes such as ours!!!Arrival at Zeebrugge: We wanted to do our own thing, getting to Bruges, a Taxi would cost EUR 45 to 50 each way, which is a bit steep. We opted to use the free shuttle into Blankenberge (20 mins) and just behind the drop off point in the town is the Railway station. Trains to Bruges once per hour, takes 15 mins. and only cost EUR 3.60 return per person. From the station at Bruges it is a 15 min leisurely walk into the centre of the city.On return train journey you have to be careful as the incoming train is quite a long one and they split the train, the front half goes elsewhere and 3 mins later the back half takes you back to Blankenberge. So watch out for this!!!As mentioned previously no problems encountered with anything else on board we had a really nice time.Disembarkation: In a nutshell a complete shambles. In my years of cruising I have not encountered anything so bad.Options were- you could leave with your luggage after breakfast from 8.30am > 10.30am as you wished, alternatively you could leave your luggage outside the cabin late in the evening before disembarkation, which would be collected and placed shore side and you would be called off the ship in 30 min slots depending on which colour disembarkation cards you were allocated. (THEY LIKE TO USE COLOURED CARDS).Cabin had to be vacated at 8am re new cruise preparation, we had breakfast, and by 9am waited in one of the lounges to be called off at 9.30am as indicated in the information leaflets we had been given. We were aware there may have been a slight delay as we were 20 mins late berthing at Southampton.However apart from an announcement saying were were coming alongside and being 20mins late there was no other announcements about disembarkation at all and all the 'card' holders in waiting were getting very frustrated when they saw there allocated time slot passing by.What the staff did not realise was the huge influx of passengers wanting to leave the ship with their own luggage and instead of an assumed even spread, they all wanted to get off at the same time completely overwhelming the system and jamming up the corridors and stairwells (passengers and bulky luggage). After waiting 40 mins past our allocated slot we joined the queue with the baggage lot and after a further 20 mins got off the ship. Low and behold our case was waiting in the baggage area for us to pick up.I just wonder how long the other passengers on board had to wait for their turn to be announced. As I said from berthing to us getting off not one announcement was made re disembarkation.To summarise : Cruise Excellent, Embarkation; Fair, Disembarkation; Disastrous Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This was our third trip with P&O, our second on Ventura, previously Xmas 2010 which followed Azura in May 2010. I posted a full review of both trips on here for those interested. Ventura met our expectations again, based on our ... Read More
This was our third trip with P&O, our second on Ventura, previously Xmas 2010 which followed Azura in May 2010. I posted a full review of both trips on here for those interested. Ventura met our expectations again, based on our previous trip 4 months previous. We travelled as a party of 4 in 2 cabins: - 3 adults in the 40-50 age group and our Mum in her late 70s who is a part time wheelchair user. Embarkation: We arrived at 11.45, car swiftly taken off our hands by CPS and we were on board within 30 minutes having lunch in the buffet. Cabin: A standard balcony cabin on C deck. These have the larger balconies which are twice the depth of those featured by standard balcony cabins on other decks. We didn't mind the fact that half the balcony is visible to those above as you still have the overhang of the deck above which shades the rear half from view if some privacy is required. We would definitely choose a C deck cabin again if available. The interior of the cabin was identical to that on Azura the previous year (we had a superior deluxe cabin on D deck on our Xmas Ventura trip but didn't feel the price difference on this trip justified it). The inside of our cabin was kept very clean by our invisible cabin steward who we saw only once when she introduced herself. Not an issue for us but I know some prefer a more personable cabin steward. We did note the balcony wasn't clean on boarding and wasn't cleaned at all during the trip, either the interior part or the outside glass and could have done with a good deep clean. On our Xmas cruise they advised on some mornings which sections of the balconies would be cleaned each day but there didn't seem to be any balcony cleaning at all on this cruise. However we were so pleased with the size of the balcony that we forgave this. Food: We ate in the buffet for breakfast each day. Again a good choice which suited all our preferences including Quorn bacon and Quorn sausages to order for our Veggie member. Can't really fault the breakfasts at all apart from saying that some things could have been warmer on occasion. Lunch was also mainly in the buffet with most of us choosing from the large salad range. A couple of us had burgers or pizzas from the places by the pool which were always reliable and freshly cooked. Most cruises, and Ventura too, receive criticism for having too little space to sit in the buffet. We always found a space but maybe not in the section we would prefer. I've said it before that the people who complain about not being able to find a seat seem to be the same ones who hug their third cup of tea after finishing their meal for an eternity instead of making way for others or they are the couples who sit at a table for 8 instead of walking a few yards further and sitting at a smaller table. We chose Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon Restaurant again and ate there on 12 of the 14 nights. We thought the MDR food on Ventura at Xmas was very good and better than on Azura and we thought that on this trip it had notched up even further. A really good choice of selections on the menu and a good separate Vegetarian menu to pre-select for the following night. Out of the 12 nights we were seated immediately on a table for four on 10 of them with a buzzer being given on the other 2 nights with waits of 5 mins and 15 mins which was pretty good. This allowed us to plan to dine around our choice of entertainment. Having now experienced freedom dining 3 times on P&O I have to say the flexibility means we would always choose this option. However, I do believe there is a trade off in terms of the service. This can be very variable with some waiters looking quite fed up and quite a difference some nights in terms of the speed of the meal being delivered: anything from 1 hour to 2 ½ hours dependant on the waiter so it was hard to predict. On one night we sat with our empty soup bowls on the table for 25 minutes before I had to find the head waiter to get things moving again as our waiters seemed to have vanished. I would describe the service as functional rather than great. I do think that in Club Dining the waiter is encouraged to go the extra mile in order to secure their tips and maybe achieve more than the recommended tip from a passenger with whom they have built up a relationship. We hear about the little personal touches Club Dining waiters offer and how they get to know your preferences. On freedom dining a set tip is assured (unless you go to Reception to adjust it) so they simply don't have the same incentive to offer more than a functional level of service. After all why should one waiter offer a higher level of service when his less enthusiastic colleague will receive the same share of the tips? I'm not sure what the answer is here apart from better management of the waiters. On RCI's equivalent of freedom dining the waiters were superb in every respect, always smiling and incredibly helpful and personable. As I said we would still choose freedom dining over Club dining to allow us more flexibility but I do feel that the service could be better overall. We dined in the Beachcomber Diner one night which was a nice change and offered a good choice of freshly cooked food and was very busy. We also ate in the White Room to celebrate a birthday. Overall we were a bit disappointed with MPWs eatery. The service was ok but not as good as on our previous visit or as good as in Seventeen on Azura and it was a shame the menu was the same as it was 4 months previous. My Mother was not too pleased upon ordering a dessert to be told by the waiter 'are you sure as there are a lot of calories in that'! Maybe something got lost in translation but it's not what a woman wants to hear. Also Veggies note that small appetisers are served but they don't have any for veggies and the desserts are not marked as vegetarian and this took quite a bit of persistence to get accurate answers about whether they were vegetarian or not. I think as we all thought the food in the MDR was so good when we compared it with our evening in the White Room this led us to decide we would not visit it again. Nice to try but we were not overwhelmed. We didnt eat in the East restaurant as the Veggie options were not great. Entertainment: This cruise had the best entertainment of our 3 P&O cruises. Daytime activities were again varied and offered a packed programme however the main difference was the Headliners Shows. Previously we had become tired of the 'West End Show' description given to the Headliners on Azura and our previous Ventura cruise as we felt they never quite hit the spot and could be a bit cringeworthy. Many disagreed but mainly those of a certain age. However we were told that we were the first to experience 3 of the new shows on this cruise and that the headliners were a new group of professionals that had been put together. We were handed a program detailing the experience of the performers and it was clear this was no amateur group. The result was amazing: Superb voices, great dancing, professional sets and costumes and excellent productions. Their shows became increasingly more popular and the 8.30 performance required people to start queuing up to an hour or so early to ensure a seat. We only went to the 7pm shows and always found a seat with ease. If P&O are going to roll this new style out across the fleet then they are going to start gaining a very good reputation for quality shows. They put on a total of 6 shows. We had seen one before, Destination Dance, on Azura last year and all four of us didn't like it at all. It felt a bit like seeing an Amateur Dramatic production, however the same show performed by these guys was amazing. Such good dancers and singers and the sound was superb. We did find it strange that Hughie Taylor the Cruise Director was quite invisible. He only appeared for some Arena shows and didn't introduce the Captains Welcome Speech at the time we attended. At the Great British Sailaway his job entailed handing flags out rather than being part of the main entertainment team which was a little strange. I think he is possibly suited more to a smaller ship without the cross section of ages on Ventura. Most of the other acts we had experienced previously. I'm not sure how often they rotate their acts but I would be pretty miffed if we booked another cruise with P&O in the next year or so and came across the same group of singers and comedians yet again. However I would have to say we could watch Jimmy Love as Elton John any day. We have to mention Laura from the Entertainment team who had us in stiches on numerous occasions with her accent (when calling number 66 during bingo it became 'sexty sex' for example). Her quizzes were equally funny. Bars: We really like the choice of bars on Ventura each one offering a different ambience and you could always find somewhere to sit somewhere onboard. Drinks prices remain very reasonable although we did note draught lager and some cocktails have increased in prices since Dec 2010. Not by a lot but an increase nonetheless. Bar service is generally superb. Ports of Call: I'm not going to go into a description of each port as this can be quite subjective and is covered in the ports of call section on this site. However I want to mention a new one to us: Valencia. Even the Captain had not been here before. We decided that we had seen enough history on our cruise and planned a trip to the Oceanographic Aquarium. This is part of a recent development of the old riverbed (La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias ) and the modern architecture is amazing. We took a taxi from the ship to the Aquarium and as it didn't open for an hour we walked around the area and were stunned by the buildings. It looks like something from a Sci-Fi film. The Aquarium was great too (the biggest in Europe) and we spent 3 hours in total exploring including watching the Dolphin Shop in the Amphitheatre before taking a taxi back. We worked out that in the end we only saved about £8 each off the cost of the ships' trip to the Aquarium so some may prefer to plump for this especially if you are only splitting the taxi fare a couple of ways. The Aquarium is amazingly disabled friendly with lifts everywhere down to the underwater tanks and tunnels. There are a few niggles in this review however this is really us being nit-picky. We still really like Ventura and still prefer it over Azura. We prefer the mix of passengers. Ventura is constantly being knocked as 'Butlins at Sea' which is very unfair and I feel this comes from passengers who don't really want to mix with children or younger people and perhaps are of a certain age and more suited to one of P&Os more traditional or adult only ships. On both Ventura cruises we have been on the age range has been wide although as this was a term time holiday it still must have averaged in the mid-50s. Because of this wider mix of ages we feel Ventura has a more relaxed feel whereas we found Azura to be a little snobby at times. We like dressing up for dinner with the best of them however we also want to be able to relax and enjoy our holiday as well and there were a nice bunch of people on this cruise with fewer of the 'old moaners' we encountered on Azura (sorry about the choice of description but you may know what I mean). We were told by the Captain that this cruise had over 1200 people new to cruising onboard which seemed a very high figure so P&O must be doing well attracting this number of new cruisers. Ventura does most things very well. It doesn't excel at many but neither does it disappoint much too and for us she continues to be our choice for a reliable mass market cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
After unpacking we requested iced water, only to be told it was no longer served in the cabin. How strange and penny pinching.The bad points first. In the Bay Tree restaurant, portions definitely cut down in size. Cheese board pathetic. ... Read More
After unpacking we requested iced water, only to be told it was no longer served in the cabin. How strange and penny pinching.The bad points first. In the Bay Tree restaurant, portions definitely cut down in size. Cheese board pathetic. virtually no selection, no celery or grapes and given bits not pieces, most embarrassing.We later found out that Stilton was available but it was kept a secret If you didn't fancy the main course, you could not have an alternative. no steaks any more. Ice cream, three tiny little scoops served in a very small dish.Breakfast at Waterside, food generally fine, but annoyingly on numerous occasions there would be no cups, no glasses, no spoons, when complaining no one seemed particularly interested.Came on this boat last year, and entertainment, whilst still decent, not as good.We only booked a week before and found it exceptional value, but would not have been happy had we paid the regular price.Obviously P&O are trying to keep costs down whilst struggling with inflation, unfortunately it is noticeable how standards have fallen.WE still had a thoroughly enjoyable cruise, and would sail on Ventura again providing the price was attractive. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Embarkation-smooth and fast, polite, patient staff. However, when sent to the ship, nobody explained what we had to do or where to go. When we got to our cabin, our cases were missing and we had to walk all around our deck to find our ... Read More
Embarkation-smooth and fast, polite, patient staff. However, when sent to the ship, nobody explained what we had to do or where to go. When we got to our cabin, our cases were missing and we had to walk all around our deck to find our cases, which were not near our cabin!Cabin- carpet was very grubby and needs a good clean. There were black (I presume shoe marks) all over the ceiling. Only two complimentary bottles of water in the cabin despite being three people. When we asked the cabin steward, he told us it was P&O policy. Come on P&O, three people have paid thousands between them for the cruise and you only give them two bottles to share. Annoyed on last evening to find cabin steward had packed away out toiletries and not only were they mixed up; some were not ours so god knows where he got them from. The first week we had a fresh flower in a vase, which was a lovely touch but this had been removed by the second week despite it still being in a good condition. We could never get any cold running water to clean our teeth. The shower leaked but was nice and powerful. Could not hear any of the announcements in the cabin until we opened the door to the corridor as they are not available in the cabin.Decks- Filthy most of time. Glasses were left for hours on the floors and in some cases up to a day. Not enough tables to put drinks on. The few ashtrays available were emptied infrequently resulting in many ashtray fires. Joggers causing problems. There should be one designated deck to jog on because we saw quite a few people knocked flying by these inconsiderate people; one old man nearly went overboard as the jogger knocked him hard! If you did not move out of their way quick enough, they would run on the spot quickly behind you making you jump until you moved. There is a good gym on the ship with running machines so why don't P&O insist they use this facility or only allow jogging on one deck? Running on slippery decks is dangerous for anyone.Sun beds- Do not bother trying to get a sun bed on the top deck as towels were seen to go out in the dark at 6am. Even children had their own sun beds, which they never used as they were too busy jumping and diving into the pools (signs clearly stated no jumping or diving)! We deliberately booked early July as we knew the school holidays were later but we did not know the Scottish school holidays had started (we will not make that mistake again). We were told there were 400 children on the ship and on the whole they were great but as usual you get unsupervised ones that spoil other people's holidays. They were racing each other up and down the stairs, using the phones around the ship to mess about, messing about in the lifts and generally running around with food or making a lot of noise. We mentioned these 'naughty' children to a member of staff and he told us that under no circumstances are staff allowed to speak to the children or prevent them from doing anything (even dangerous). They have to ring the Youth Team, who will then speak to the parents. Staff have spoken to children in the past and children have then told their parents and parents then had a go at the member of staff or complained to their superiors.Food- Very good throughout the ship and caters for all tastes. We had no trouble finding a seat in any of the eating areas. The pizza place and burger bar are very good if you want something different. We only had to queue a few minutes whilst the pizza was cooking. Although (in the buffet) the cold plates are always hot as they have just come out of a dishwasher. The tables are often dirty and not cleaned enough. The trays are bulky and heavy before you even begin so you need a lot of arm strength by the time you have food on your plate. UHT milk and cream used throughout the ship so if you don't mind this in your drinks, desserts or cereal etc you will be OK.Drinks- The Great Ice Rip-Off we named it. Staff fill glasses with ice, which subsequently results in less of your original drink. We paid for a pint of cola and when we poured it into an empty glass, without the ice, there was less than half a pint. Even when you ask for no ice or only one cube, they still put loads in. This is a trick that bar staff are taught to maximise profits on mixers, soft drink etc. The first week we got fruit on sticks in our cocktails but we never saw it the second week.Costa Coffee - UHT milk is used in the drinks, which alters the taste of the coffee significantly. We had purchased about 10 coffees before we saw the sign that states you get a free piece of cake with each drink purchased. Staff had never mentioned this or offered cake previously so we had been missing out!Staff- Very miserable on the whole. No eye contact, no smiling, no conversation, no manners, and some actually snatch a pen or receipt out of your hand. This ship had the most miserable staff we have ever encountered out of all the cruises we have been on. This resulted in us only drinking in the Ramblas Bar as Wiston there always had a smile and a wave for us. He was one of the few nice staff we met on the ship and by the middle of the first week, he greeted us by name.Dress- Unlike previous reviews, we are not clothes snobs, as we do not want to waste all our baggage allowance on long dresses and suits. We would never dream of 'reporting' people for having jackets over the backs of their chair or the wrong dress code! One suit for the men and a couple of dresses for the ladies will suffice (for four formal nights). There were lots of people, including children, that wore football shirts in the day (we never saw this during the evening meals) but perhaps that was because there had been a tour to the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona and people wanted to show off their purchases. If you are a clothes snob then this ship is not for you as they are thankfully more relaxed on dress codes (we have been told this is because it is a family ship). Yes, some of the young girls wore shorts skirts and dresses but they looked very classy and not chavvy as previously suggested (I suggest you look up what stereotypical descriptions of chavs are and what they are supposed to wear). I am not shallow enough to judge a person by their tattoos. I like to get to know the person and not judge on appearances. We met many people who had a tattoo (young and old) and guess what?- they were lovely, some had very good jobs but unless you spoke to these tattooed people, you would never know.Excursions-The Pisa tour guide walked too fast and I am sure the coach could have dropped us off closer to Pisa to drop us off and then parked in the coach park where we were dropped off. Two elderly people had been left behind by their guide, as they could not walk as fast as their group, so we had to direct them. Their guide should have known that they were missing. Excursions are expensive compared to what you would pay for a local taxi. My husband and son went to the Nou Camp excursion and said they were rushed round and hardly had any time to stop and look at anything but then the guide wasted time showing them the views of Barcelona, which they had not requested or paid a for. They said they would have preferred more time at the stadium. The free shuttle buses were great, although we had to pay 5 Euros each for one of them. The tenders at Monaco were a disaster. We waited 4 hours to get off and one hour in the boiling sunshine to get on. The queue to return to the ship was very, very long and only two tenders seemed to be working. We had to queue at the side of a narrow road, which was dangerous (especially for those with children) as we had to move near a drop into the water to allow cars and vans to pass us. Eventually, P&O staff brought round water and cold flannels but there were not enough for everyone in the queue. We did not get to Gibraltar because of weather conditions (we were told) but we did see that planes were taking off and landing there without any problems and a yacht managed to sail! We thought the weather excuse was a lie because we were told by a member of staff that there were too many ships in Gibraltar so we could not get into the port. The member of staff said this also happens a lot on Gibraltar ports of call. All P&O offered as compensation was a film that had been showed before or a talk on UFOs. We were extremely angry that P&O did not try and get us into another port instead such as somewhere in Portugal or France. To dock in Gibraltar is very expensive, which is why you only get a few hours, so P&O seemed to keep this saving to themselves. They could have offered a discount in the shops as everyone seemed to rush down there to buy last minute gifts and duty frees. I bet Ventura's coffers swelled that afternoon, which I believe is why they didn't try too hard to dock somewhere else.On the whole we did enjoy the cruise but there are a few simple things P&O could do to make this a perfect ship i.e. a good clean up, more tables and ashtrays and more smiling staff. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our fourth cruise and our second with P&O. Our first cruises were on the Island Star and Ocean Village. We sailed on the Arcadia to the Canaries in July 2011 and the difference between the two ships is obvious in many areas. ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise and our second with P&O. Our first cruises were on the Island Star and Ocean Village. We sailed on the Arcadia to the Canaries in July 2011 and the difference between the two ships is obvious in many areas. Firstly, I have to say that my wife and I liked the Ventura in general. More than enough bars for anyone and a wider selection of places to eat. Good size cabins and a choice of three pools and associated sunbathing facilities. Ventura is big and it can be a long walk between venues but, for some strange reason, the designers could not provide a single, unbroken promenade deck! The usual P&O offerings are available within the staterooms e.g. tea/coffee making, hair dryer, Steward service at least twice a day and a fridge. The bars still serve Stella and Boddingtons on draught and a good range of spirits and soft drinks at or below UK pub prices. In comparison with our Arcadia cruise, the most obvious difference is in the food and service. The main dining experience on the Arcadia was quite good whereas, the Ventura main dining (we went freedom dining) experience was not good. The food was average at best and the service was terrible in the Cinnamon restaurant reserved for freedom dining. We only used the Cinnamon restaurant twice as, on our second visit, it took 20 minutes to get a wine waiter and 45 minutes for our starter to arrive. We withdrew our automatic gratuities at reception a couple of days later. It was also obvious that the Cinnamon restaurant waiters were not interested in offering alternative starters if the ones on the menu did not suit. On the Arcadia, the waiters would have a salad made or a melon selection but on the Ventura, not interested! Waiter service for drinks in other venues (especially on the upper decks) was appalling and it took a long time to even place a drinks order. There were too few waiters and they took ages to return with drinks. The food in the buffet restaurant, on the other had, was far better than on the Arcadia and the Beach House Diner was also very good. The grill and pizza venues were awful! Dress code was not rigidly enforced! For heavens sake P&O, if you are going to have formal evenings, don't let people into the main dining room without a tie or jacket! I reported a table, on our second and last night in the Cinnamon, where there were three men seated, two with jackets removed and a third with no jacket at all and no tie. The restaurant manager said that they did enforce the dress code but could offer no explanation for the diners we had reported. Now for the worst aspect of the cruise... the passengers, not all of them but enough to make us wonder if we had booked with CHAVcruises! We thought our first two cruises with Island Star and Ocean Village were at the low end of the market but, I can seriously state that the passengers on those ships were far better mannered and friendly than a lot we met on the Ventura. We witnessed queue jumping, bad manners, under age drinking (reported to crew but not acted upon) foul language in public areas from teenagers, racist remarks about crew and much, much more. Thankfully there were enough "normal" passengers with good manners, the ability to speak without using four letter words, and interests other than football so we were able to still enjoy ourselves. We would go back on the Ventura but only when the number of children and foul mouthed teenagers is at a minimum. I dread to think what this ship is like in the school holidays... Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Extremely busy at embarkation terminal, arrived at around 2.30pm and expected to be in there for ages, but P and O seem to have mastered this to near perfection, we were checked in and on board at 3.15pm. Cabin as usual was clean ... Read More
Extremely busy at embarkation terminal, arrived at around 2.30pm and expected to be in there for ages, but P and O seem to have mastered this to near perfection, we were checked in and on board at 3.15pm. Cabin as usual was clean and well presented. Disappointed to find a note from the restaurant manager, advising we could not have freedom dining as we originally requested due to overbooking, and we were put on second sitting at 8.45pm which for us is too late. However there are many other dining options available of which we used. Food everywhere is of good quality Ship was full to capacity but did not at anytime feel overcrowded, no long queues for anything. Bar staff all polite and serving drinks at your table. In fact all of the staff were courteous and very helpful as appears to be the norm for P and O in our experience, Victor, our cabin steward was extremely good, probably the best one so far. Ships facilities are very good, shows and entertainment day and night, with plenty of bars and lounges. ports of call were Le Havre which was OK, quiet but it was Sunday. La Rochelle in France is simply stunning, a beautiful harbour town with cafes and bars spilling out onto the streets. Bilbao, hmmm not for us but we are not the City types. La Coruna, again a very nice place with lots of shops within easy walking distance of the ship Weather was a bit disappointing with only 2 days out of the 7 having sunshine, but overall a great break and looking forward to the next one!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having sailed on the old Adonia which was wonderful and Arcadia in the carribean i was looking forward to our 3rd cruise with P&O on Ventura, we sailed from Southampton and after arriving at the new terminal which was very busy, we ... Read More
Having sailed on the old Adonia which was wonderful and Arcadia in the carribean i was looking forward to our 3rd cruise with P&O on Ventura, we sailed from Southampton and after arriving at the new terminal which was very busy, we waited about 20 mins before being called through security, not too bad i thought. We had a balcony for the first time which was wonderful and all was good and clean accept there was some drink staines on the valance around the bed, so i assume these are not changed every cruise? The food was good and so was the service from the P&O staff. I didnot like the some of the layout on Ventura there is no crows nest like the other ships we have been on, just a wasted shaded area for relaxing that nobody used and around the pool area people are squashed together like sardines. I used the spa once for reflexology a cost of 66, never again what a waste on money and painful and not at all relaxing. On the second week of the cruise i was ill, came down with a bad chest infection and was coughing really badly and i know i was not the only one, thats the trouble with air conditioning bugs get passed on quickly. I would like to be able to say i really enjoyed this cruise but i didnot, i wont blame Ventura for my illness but i got it from somewhere and it did spoil my holiday. I think i will go on Arcadia the next time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
after stopping in the premier inn overnight we transfered to ventura where on arrival our luggage was taken off us ,we were then given a coloured ticket to check in which took no time at all.after boarding we were told to go to the ... Read More
after stopping in the premier inn overnight we transfered to ventura where on arrival our luggage was taken off us ,we were then given a coloured ticket to check in which took no time at all.after boarding we were told to go to the waterside restaraunt for lunch till our cabin was ready. when we got to our cabin it was of a very good size with a large picture window comfortably furnished with tv and chairs,the bathroom was fairly small but ok for what we needed.the safe was free aswell which when we have been on other ships you have had to pay,when we set sail the captain announced we would not be calling at cadiz which didnt go down too well with a lot of passengers myself included but the other ports of call were excellent . vigo: what a nice little place this was but very hilly lisbon:they put courtesy busses on to take you to the main square but the queue for the busses back was horrendous so we got a taxi,do check the fare before you get in 1 as we were charged 20 euros and another family were charged 10 euros so we were ripped off. chivitevichia:we went on the 1/2 day panoramic tour well worth it. livorno:missed due to high winds monte carlo:i wasnt impressed with this place to many posers in there ferraris showing off. barcelona:great place to visit with plenty to do gibraltar:been here several times so stayed on board. the staff on board were a vast improvement from when we 1st went on ventura,this time they could not do enough for you. the showteam put on some excellent shows in the arena theatre and the guest acts ,mick miller from the comedians fame was very good,the freddy mercury tribute was fantastic and the other guest comedians were very good both in the arena and havana,the only guest speaker john kettley(weatherman)why they had this man giving a after dinner speech was beyond me. the days at sea were ok with having no problem finding sunbeds when the sun was out which was different to the last on board where they were all reserved before breakfast. the exchange bar was a decent night out with andy the entertainments officer. all in all it was a excellent cruise meeting lots of nice people each night cannot wait to go back on board. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Ventura, 1st April Med cruise All started well with a B&B with parking and transfer at Chilworth Hilton, Transfer got us on the way before 12 and with an excellent check in we were having lunch on board soon after 1pm. We went to ... Read More
Ventura, 1st April Med cruise All started well with a B&B with parking and transfer at Chilworth Hilton, Transfer got us on the way before 12 and with an excellent check in we were having lunch on board soon after 1pm. We went to check out the cabin and we were told not to go in because it was being used as a show cabin (very abrupt). When we were let in our Superior Deluxe Balcony Stateroom, we were overcome with the smell of urine in the bathroom, the flowers in the cabin were dead, the white room pamper pack was missing, the carpet was stained, the settee was threadbare, the window was covered with children's hand prints and every flat surface was covered in thick dust. I ran my finger over one area and could have knitted a jumper with the fluff. On investigation of the bathroom we found the bath had black mould all round it as did the shower curtain, the toilet seat was badly chipped and ingrained with yellow stains, no guessing what that was. We reported the issues to reception who said it may not have been cleaned yet, so we left it for another hour and reported it again. The housekeeper came round had a look in the bathroom and said it was the ventilation. I explained to him it was due to the mould on the shower curtain and the state of the toilet. We left the matter with them and they changed the shower curtain. This did seem to reduce the smell, so my wife cleaned the room for them with ant-bacterial wipes and this got rid of most of the smell. The following day a man came to strip out the bath seal and replace it, at least this looked more inviting to have a shower or bath. The toilet seat was never changed and is still there for the next people, I just hope they notice and put paper on it. The cabin was never dusted in all the time we were there so I wrote DUST on every surface this was still ignored and will be there today. So that was the cabin but in general the ship is not very clean, the only parts are the bits you can see; but if you look if it does not move then no one will notice its not been done. The public don't help with leaving plates etc. anywhere on the floor, stair wells, lifts, but then there does not seem to be any member of staff willing to move them. If you want a real shock that should but does not shame P&O, then check out the floor in "Havana". Without exaggeration I have seen cleaner underpasses in city centres. It is the type of tiled floor you get in a shop and should be stripped and polished every week and buffed daily. It has less foot fall than a shopping centre and they seem to be able to keep them clean. This should be a dance floor but it is covered with chairs and never used for its original purpose. As expected for an Easter cruise there were a lot of children on board, in the main they seem to be catered for very well apart from the pool areas. Be aware if you have children this is a danger area in every sense of the word, it is unsupervised and they are allowed to "bomb" into the pool and even go in on very rough days when waves in the pool could have smashed a child's head on the side of the pool. They were allowed into the Jacuzzis unsupervised with adults, and it only needs the wrong sort of adult to be in with them and who knows what could happen. I did report this as a child protection issue as many adults had also expressed concern and no action had been taken. The entertainment in the theatre was first class and they worked very hard throughout the cruise, there were some low points with the one off acts but the show team, band and production staff put on some class shows. The food in the main dining room was very good and varied; we never felt the need to try the specialist venues due to the quality of fare. The staff who attended us were first class, and though the tips were now put on the bill it did not seem to affect the attitude and service we received. Yes we did have a lot of gripes but feel they were justified and put a damper on the cruise, we visited some very nice places and on the whole had good weather, apart from missing Laverno due to strong winds; but this was compensated for by moving quickly to our next port of Monte Carlo for an afternoon docking and an overnight and next day stay. The original port of Cadiz was also changed to Gibraltar, this did not bother us but had upset others who were meeting people in Cadiz. The disembarkation went quite smooth and again we were well looked after with the Hilton having the transfer waiting for a quick return to pick up the car. In summary far from being a superior deluxe cabin though it was a good size it was more "inferior". The ship looks impressive from the outside, but very dull on the inside, not very clean, a lot of "dead spots" during the evening away from the theatre, the entertainment just does not seem to flow. The tribute acts left a lot to be desired, Freddy Mercury looked like a cross between Bugs Bunny and Billy Bunter and Phil Collins tried to sing with a fake cockney accent and sounded more like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Our standard of cleanliness is as a minimum what we have at home, but if paying a lot of money expect this with extra touches. You get the latter but this does not cover up the dirt. Do not be fooled with the brochure or internet as it must have been done when the ship was new. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
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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