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158 Southampton P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

Just returned from a Norwegian Fjords cruise for our anniversary. We have been told on numerous occasions to try P & O cruises, so that it what we decided to do on Ventura for 7 days, with an excellent offer of £499 for a weeks ... Read More
Just returned from a Norwegian Fjords cruise for our anniversary. We have been told on numerous occasions to try P & O cruises, so that it what we decided to do on Ventura for 7 days, with an excellent offer of £499 for a weeks cruise. We had never been in and inside cabin before and although apprehensive it was fine. Very small when you are used to Balconies but still livable. We noticed that we could not have bath robes because of the grade of cabin we were in and we didn't get any animal sculptures ( but that was okay by us). We did however have an excellent cabin steward Dipu who went out of his way to do anything for us and kept the cabin immaculate. Embarkation was good and we used P & O valet parking which although we had to wait for 20 mins was efficient. We didn't use shore excursions and were able to get off freely and explore ourselves. We did have very heavy rain in Stravanger and because of this people returned to the ship sooner, getting back on board was a joke and we got soaked in a 40 minute queue not impressed. The Headliner shows were very good but we found that there was just not enough time to see a lot of what was offered in the evening and it all seemed to be very good. We opted for fixed dining on a table of 8 on 8.30pm dining. This was our first experience of this and we were lucky and had a full table, some were only half full. We have eaten better food but it was okay, I think we expected better. The lack of Steak, Fish or a Pasta meal as an alternative to the daily recommendations was not to our liking but we didn't go hungry. Cheese boards are a joke so poor!!!!!!!!!!!! We had booked a celebration pack costing £60 this was well worth doing, apart from Champagne and chocolates on arrival we had the most incredible Champagne Breakfast delivered to our cabin and were able to have a photograph taken on our anniversary included in the package. We chose to self disembark and this was brilliant, easy and we were off the ship by 7.40am. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
The Trips Dublin As we have been to Dublin many a time and the weather was bad we didn't go off the ship. There was a curtsey bus that took you into Dublin town for free, not having used any of the trips I can't comment on ... Read More
The Trips Dublin As we have been to Dublin many a time and the weather was bad we didn't go off the ship. There was a curtsey bus that took you into Dublin town for free, not having used any of the trips I can't comment on what they were like. Reykjavic Here we did take a trip, organised by the ship's explorer desk, the "The Golden Circle" cost was £85 per person. We visited the geothermal plant which was very interesting, from there we went to see a massive waterfall and then on to the Geysir, which was something else. It erupted every 7 minutes or so and was some sight. Lunch was included, which I personally didn't think much off, there again, it takes some doing catering for a load of tour busses arriving all at the same time, still it was edible. From there we went to see where the earth's crust had started to separate, I can't exactly remember by how much every year. The tour guide was very informative, all in all a good trip which I can recommend. Some people from the ship had organised their own trips and I believe it was cheaper that what we had paid for. The bathing in the blue lagoon £53 pp apparently was very good I was told by another cruiser. A complimentary shuttle bus was available for those who just wanted to go into town. Akureyri We just went and had a walk into the pretty town, I can't comment on any of the trips. Alesund All the trips were fully booked so we finished up walking into town, if you find yourself doing the same go and visit the Aalesunds Museum it is very much worth the visit, we had a lovely time there, it is situated on different floors so you must be able to do steps. The curator was very informative. There are guide books in different languages which you can borrow and then replace, on every floor. It cost 5 Euro's entry. There is a little sightseeing train, that goes around the town, it takes 1 Hour and the cost is 150 Kr pp. Olden I fell in love with Olden, the prettiest town you can imagine, we were too late to book a trip everything was sold out. When we disembarked we found a hut on the quay,where you could book trips. There are a few choices. A little train that takes you around the lake. We chose to go and see the Briksdal Glacier the cost on the ship for just to get there was £56pp if you choose to go to the top with the trolly car it was £74pp. We did it on our own and paid 35 euro's to get to the site of the Glacier, and then 20 euro's, return, for the trolly car. You can pay for only to go up, and walk down; it would be half the price. The walk to the Glacier is very long and steep, and you must be pretty fit to get to the top, we didn't manage it for health reasons and had to return from half way to take the trolly car to go back to the top, once you're there, there is a platform where the cars stay and you have a short walk to the Glacier, which is a sight to behold, it is so worth it. There is a small lake and some inflatable boats that can take you nearer to the bottom of the Glacier at a cost. Talking to other people I found out that there is a local bus at about 9.45 am that can take you to Briksdal at a cost of 5 Euro's and it picks you at 1.30pm. Trolly Car times starts from 08.15 from April till November. Roundtrip takes 1.30 hours. Phone number..4757876805/90051244 Fax..4757876808. e-mail..www.oldedalen-skysslag.com It is worth taking the trolly especially when you're not steady on your feet. Some e-mail addresses if you want to do trips on your own. I believe prices are negotiable if there are many of you or if they can fill-up the little mini bus. www.glacierexpress.no www.oldencruise.no phone number +4791781449 post @ oldencruise.no Bergen A shuttle bus drops you off by a little lake and you can walk from there all through the town, past the fish market where you can have a bite to eat. Walking further onto the funicular, which takes you to the top, overlooking Bergen. A word of advice is, be early, the queue are very very long to get up, hundreds of people waiting .And you have to pay by credit card or krona's they don't take anything else, it is about 70kr pp. A hop on, and off, bus tickets are, adult 150kr or 20 euro or £20. www.citysightseeing-bergen.net Phone +4797781888 if you pick up a brochure first they give you 10% off an open tour bus. Stavanger We just walked through the town, looked at the old town, which was interesting. You can do your own trip to Pulpit Rock, which is a cruise and will cost you NOK 280 if you are a pensioner or NOK 360 if you're not. Child NOK250. Family ticket NOK 900. It is a mini cruise stopping at lysfjordenteret at Oanes. It leaves more or less where the ship is docked, you can get the tickets on the quay. You can also do a harbour tour for 1 Hour at a cost of NOK 190 or £20. Zeebrugge You have to take the provided shuttle bus to get of the quay, this one will take you into Blankenberge where you can take the train to Brugge if you want to, or just visit Blankenberge which is a nice seaside town, there isn't very much in Zeebrugge so it is better to go on a trip or do it yourself. If you visit Brugge go on the canal's you can see all the Flemish architecture, there is also a brewery you can visit, and then there are the Belgium Choc's go for Leonidas they are the best once at a reasonable price, and a vast choice. Ventura Having travels on the Celebrity Eclipse and the Independence of the Sea we weren't sure if we were going to like this ship. But it surprised us. Food Self-service restaurant, the layout was terrible and not easy with the amount of people eating there, we went in the mornings and sometimes at lunch. Seating wasn't always easy to get. The choice wasn't really that good and the quality, well it's just food, the drink station was crammed and not always could you find glasses and had to wait for them to bring some. Restaurants. The food was ok in the dining room, plenty of choice for everyone, veggie's included , the service at our table was excellent couldn't complain, although it was said to us that the service and the food had gone down on this particular ship, and that was said by a man who'd cruised 56 times. Speciality restaurant. We went to the Marco Pierre White Room, and where disappointed we had more or less the same food at evening time, nothing very special and definitely not worth the £25pp. Due to that we gave the east Restaurant a miss, the East displayed food outside the restaurant every evening and to be honest it didn't look that nice, but still that was OUR opinion, others might disagree. The Ramblas served ( Starters) any 3 tapas for £2.50 or 3 courses for only £5. They were very good and I can recommend them. Bingo Value pack at £15..6 cards for each of the 5 games Bonus pack £10 3 cards for each of the 5 games Basic pack £5 for each of the 5 games. Entertainment Theatre. The Headliners where very good and worth seeing. Although sometimes you had to get there early to get a seat. The Ventura staff were helpful and moved people to occupy every seat. The once that stood out for me in entertainment where the following. Steve Tandy brilliant comedy went to see him twice and when he did the tribute to Jonny Cash. John Ellis as Elton John was very good Timothy Abel & Matthew Glossop where excellent with their classical music and received a standing ovation on the last night. Sid Bowfin, was an alternative comedian with a different approach but he was very good. Ian Kirton, now there is a voice, this man should be on the London Stage, we thoroughly loved his show. Drinks prices were very reasonable, they changed the liquor allowance when buying on board, now when you buy your bottle of scotch or other, they won't give it to you for your cabin consumption until a week later. So be aware of this. Will I go again on the Ventura...Yes..Although my opinion to start with wasn't that good but the ship grew on me, I must admit the entertainment did it for me, so much choice and different places to see them in, was something that we hadn't experienced on the previous cruises that we have been on. Also make sure you book your trips beforehand, as we found out everything worthwhile was fully booked. Comparison, if I could have the food from the Celebrity Eclipse and the entertainment of the Ventura and the prices of the drinks of the Ventura, the ship would be perfect, that is in my opinion. If any of you have anything to ask please do I'll be happy to help if I can. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Arrived at Ocean Terminal just after 11.30 and was given a lettered ticket for check-in (previously been used to been given a card after checkin but I'm sure the numbers we are talking about for Ventura explains the difference. Most ... Read More
Arrived at Ocean Terminal just after 11.30 and was given a lettered ticket for check-in (previously been used to been given a card after checkin but I'm sure the numbers we are talking about for Ventura explains the difference. Most people looked like me in the terminal i.e. excited and with a daft "expectant holiday" grin but there is always a percentage of people with the expression like the Queen watching the Olympics. Why is that? You're going on a cruise!!Anyway, check-in was a breeze and we were through that and security within 20 minutes. We were directed straight to Waterside Buffet ( I was going there anyway!)Greeting staff were all very smiley. I was very impressed the quality and variety of the buffet throughout the cruise much better than on Oriana and Oceana in my (more recent) other experience of P&O in my opinion. I can see what people mean about the congestion for the various stations at the buffet which is partly due to the "angled" nature of the different parts but also down to people "zig-zagging" backwards and forwards when they either have forgotten things or have spotted something appetising on someone else's plate(the gastronomic equivalent of the grass being greener).When particular a logjam was being created by a zig-zagger who was elbowing a member of staff out of the way I commented to the crew member you have to be slim to work here he returned a knowing look... Anyway, for the record, I had stir fried chilli prawns which were excellent a small piece of salmon (bit dry and overcooked) lamb dopiaza which was very tasty and succulent, followed by a cream horn which was also very good. Securing a seat was always a challenge and we usually carried our food into the Beachouse part. Both the log jam stations and seating are something P&O should consider addressing at the impending refit in my view. We then had a bit of a potter around the open decks and went for a swim in the Beachcomber Pool with my daughter whilst my wife enjoyed a spot on a sun lounger. The roof was open for the entire cruise apart from the last night and disembarkation morning a testimony to the beautiful weather we were fortunate to have. Felt sorry for the children whose parents either didn't know or had forgotten to pack swimwear in carry on luggage.However, I can't be too smug as I'd forgotten to pack towels as of course the blue pool towels now reside in your cabin. So I snuck down to the cabin feeling a bit like a naughty schoolboy as the all clear was yet to be sounded and grabbed a couple of towels and had a sneak preview of the JF grade balcony cabin on B deck aft, first impressions were good and i was able to put our 2 cases in the cabin as they were already there. Had lovely swim followed by a dry off on the loungers and a first drink. By then, there were plenty of loungers as most people stampeded when the announcement of your cabins are ready but we took our time .Met our cabin steward Santance who was very quiet but polite and smiley and very efficient and made a point of remembering our names every time he greeted us which I always think is nice. Had longer inspection of the cabin (I can never call it a stateroom although the word cabin does still remind me most of an incredibly pokey 4 berth cabin on Canberra). My wife was particularly impressed with the walk-in wardrobe which was a useful feature but I didn't get quite so excited..Liked the (pretty compact) balcony although was quite surprised that much of the varnish of the balcony rail was on the missing list. Bathroom I would describe as compact in fact exactly the same size as an inside cabin on Oceana which was a bit of a surprise. My daughter's bunk hadn't been pulled down but as in the other days it appeared at night time turn down .It did have a special duvet but despite being assured by P&O beforehand that all children received a welcome balloon and jelly sweets neither appeared although we did notice numerous children on the last day with balloons. Then off to lifeboat drill which didn't seem as crowded as Oriana last year and it appeared to be taken more seriously (people were more attentive) perhaps a symptom of recent events. After sail away ( a lovely member of staff took a photo of the 3 of us ) we decided to give the Beachouse a try. We really enjoyed the experience had a lovely table with a sea view. I had French Onion Soup with cheese crouton, The sizzler combo and apple crumble. The first 2 courses were excellent the third just ok. We formed the impression that waiters here were being tried out to see if they were up to main dining room standard and service here was patchy, but the food I thought was very good. We then fancied both the Soul tribute in the Arena and Fogwell Flax but plumped for Fogwell. We found him very funny his impressions were good and gags appropriate for a mixed audience.Liked his Ventura walk gag which whilst mainly visual gave the impression most have which is you are never quite sure which way you are going not helped by the numerous dead ends. We had 2 lovely cocktails raspberry crème brulee and gin and sherry cobbler served with a smile which always helps. Liked Havana as a venue- nice decor. So to bed -tired but happy. Slept ok but beds quite small(I'm tall but not all that wide but wider than I was!) and not all that comfy in my view compared to Oriana last year. Day 2-Zeebrugge.Went to Bruges last year from Oriana so had already decided to just go into Blankenberge so had leisurely breakfast at buffet. I was impressed with range of choice hot & cold options. Always found the fresh fruit to be delicious and at right stage of ripeness in particular the melon and pineapple. There was then an announcement about 10.30 I think saying that there was a long wait for shuttle buses so perhaps people might consider delaying their departure. We had a quick look over the side and it didn't seem too bad so we went off anyway. We waited less than 10 minutes. Weather was scorchio! We went into Blankenberge which is a popular seaside resort with Belgians, it was packed! We had a look around the shops, some fascinating cake and chocolate shops and followed the throng to the seafront. The beach is ok nothing spectacular but we went into the Serpetarium (snakes spiders etc) which was reasonably priced and well set out. We had a nice picnic on the seafront and then a stroll on the Pier and had a Belgian Beer (it would be rude not to) at the cafe at the end of the pier. Then we went back on the shuttle to return to Ventura. Our daughter now being 10 had said she wasn't going to the kids club, but a note had been left offering the chance to pick up a free gift between 6 and 7 in the Peninsula room. She was seduced by this and received a nice "Reef" holdall. The staff then "sold" the club in a gentle way pointing out the benefits and doing the "I know you're 10 but going round with Mum and Dad all day must get boring give us a chance" .It worked as she asked to go back to have a look after dinner and went every night after that. Some people have mentioned that there are no cocktail parties for cruises of less than 7 nights but whilst that is true of 2 nighters, I am happy to confirm we did have a "reception" party in the Atrium with free drinkies. We timed our escape just before everyone else to sample Cinnamon freedom dining. The Food was excellent and the service was good too. I had Mushroom and white wine soup(one of the nicest soups I've ever had),Glazed Duck which was nice(portion a bit small but then I'm greedy) and Fresh Strawberries with Whipped Cream, Toasted Flaked Almonds and a Warm Chocolate Biscuit which was lovely, followed by good cheese board. The wine waiter appeared promptly and we had a nice bottle of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. My daughter then went off to the kids club and was introduced to the other kids, we kept coming back to check on her and were told to go away (you are cramping my style). We had a drink in Metropolis and enjoyed the views (and the cocktails). As a change of scene we also tried Ramblas, we loved the decor and atmosphere in there and had a glass of red propping up the bar .I do hope the rumours of Ramblas possibly being replaced during the refit are unfounded as we loved it. Day3-Le Havre Had a huge buffet breakfast(as usual) today the Beachouse server part was open previously only used for seating at breakfast ,expect that was because the venue just got busier and busier. Had a quick look at Terrace Pool my daughter keen to try this later as Laguna and Beachcomber were very packed the previous day. Took shuttle into centre and had a mooch around the Hotel De Ville nice gardens and fountains. Planned to get shuttle back to 2nd stopoff-Docks Verdon (big out of town shopping centre)but jumped a taxi instead very pleasant taxi driver who seemed pleased to have English passengers, his English was excellent(far better than my French).My Daughter headed for what appeared to be the French rival to Toys r Us La Grande Recre which stocked some Monster High items(her latest great interest) that are not available in the Uk and therefore will afford her some bragging rights back home.The centre was like many out of town centres although built in an old dock area the exterior of the building had more charm than usual and it was nice and cool on a very hot day. We had a lovely sandwich and cake from a Boulangerie although my daughter insisted on having hers from Subway(sigh) We then returned onboard for a swim in the Terrace Pool and a pleasant dry off in the sun on the wooden stepped area, whilst having afternoon tea from the buffet(jam and cream scones-my idea of heaven, cheese & pineapple toastie-yum and duck and hoi sin wrap-also yum) and drinking "mocktails"-Bananberry Crush ( Strawberry, fresh banana and pineapple juice) which excellent bit like a smoothie and Longboat Fizz( Ginger beer and lime juice) which sounds wrong somehow but was very refreshing actually and worked. We then went to the Beach House for a 2nd time but more people had cottoned on to this option so we were sent away with a buzzer but it did buzz bang on the time we were given. This time I had Buffalo wings which were ok nothing special and the Steak which was excellent. However, the service was much less attentive second time around and we were basically forgotten and people after us "overtook" us and had their sweets before we had even got to plate clearing of our main. In fact our waiter was physically absent for ages. We gave up in the end and went to the buffet for cheese and biscuits and a coffee. We struggled to find entertainment we were interested in tonight and apart from the clash on the first night, this was a theme and normally I've felt it to be a strong point of P&O. My daughter went to Kids Club again and enjoyed putting her own mocktails together. Day 4-Guernsey A further buffet breakfast (again excellent fruits) and then off by tender (took a while with ticketing system but seemed much better organised than when we were here on Oceana). We had arranged to meet my Mum's lifelong friend here she's from Guernsey and was an evacuee who lived with My Mum and they have stayed firm friends ever since and her daughter which was bittersweet as my Mum has dementia which has now progressed to the stage we felt we couldn't bring her with us, we have taken her with us on 4 previous cruises since My Dad passed away. I did feel guilty (especially today)but Mum did love hearing about the lovely time we had. We had a whole tour of the Island which has some truly beautiful coves and beaches. We went to Port Soif beach which is beautiful and had a picnic made by our hosts including egg sandwiches with eggs from her own hens and Gache for pudding (a type of Guernsey fruit loaf-very Moorish with real butter).We also swam in the sea which was bracing but lovely.We then went to Bordeaux -not France but Guernsey style a lovely cove with a view and had a drink outdoors.There were some people painting the bay which was a lovely tranquil scene but all I could think of was the fast show character Johnny who paints everything black! We then headed back to St Peter Port having a lovely view on the way of Ventura and stopped off to buy some Gache back home.Our hosts were wonderful and very proud of the Island and they have every right to be. It being our last night I had fully planned a formal restaurant meal but encouraged by others i went to see what the buffet had to offer and succumbed. Had Tomato and Basil soup(nice butt Basil a bit overpowering followed by Roast Beef and all the trimmings which was very nice although they were a bit skinny with the meat and I had to do an Oliver and ask for more.I also snuck a steak and mushroom pudding on my plate and this was sublime. Had 2 Banoffee pies (they were very small your honour) and cheese and biscuits for "afters".My daughter asked to go to kids club so we went to see Martin Gold who we thought had a big build up but Fogwell Flax was funnier he wasn't bad but not that good either.Nice to be able to sit and relax though and have drink in your seat. We were ready for bed before our daughter!She came back with a goody bag which nice a few games in it-Pairs-Uno etc. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I'm an avid Ventura fan but I have tried to give an unbiased and honest account of my most recent time onboard. I can talk the hind legs off a donkey given the chance, so I've tried to mention the important bits rather than a ... Read More
I'm an avid Ventura fan but I have tried to give an unbiased and honest account of my most recent time onboard. I can talk the hind legs off a donkey given the chance, so I've tried to mention the important bits rather than a day-by-day account. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Generally this was ok. We only live around 45 minutes from Southampton so we arrived in plenty of time to check-in, but were then met with various queues of cars all waiting to use the CPS parking. We probably sat for a good hour waiting for them to call our row of cars, but when they eventually did the porters were very efficient in taking our luggage and they also park the car for you, which I hadn't realised when I'd booked the parking. Check-in was very quick and we probably went from car to our cabin in around 10-15 minutes. Disembarkation was busy, as you would expect with some 3000 people all wanting to get off. They ended up calling our colour card in the middle of breakfast as everything was ready ahead of schedule, so by the time we had finished and got out of the restaurant, a huge queue had formed which looped around the Atrium and through the Exchange bar. It moved fairly quickly though and we were off within around 15-20 minutes. Cabin: I managed to upgrade our Inside cabin to a Balcony last minute but hadn't told Mum. Her 'Oh wow, a balcony!' reaction made it worth the extra money, and we definitely made use of the extra space (though I think I've now spoilt her so nothing but a Balcony will do!). Our cabin, B743, was a JF grade standard Balcony on B Deck. It was the last one on the starboard side at the rear of the ship and had a fantastic view down the length of the ship. We overlooked the balconies on decks C and D below, although this wasn't a problem for us and the people below didn't seem to mind us being able to see their balcony either. Our cabin was clean and tidy with plenty of storage space. The bathroom was small but perfectly comfortable for a few nights - my only gripe is it had a shower curtain which I hate (I prefer the sliding doors I've experienced on RCI and Celebrity). Our cabin steward, Sadashiv, came and introduced himself shortly after we arrived, and he kept our cabin spotless and was always very chatty and polite the few times that we passed him in the corridor. I've never had a cabin at the rear of a ship before and I'm not sure I'd choose to do it again. The first night was pretty bumpy and there was a fairly constant roll even on the calm days, and when the ship was manoeuvring backwards the whole cabin shook. Dining: We'd been booked on to the 2nd sitting at 8.45pm with a table for 8 in the Saffron Restaurant. Our table companions consisted of another mother/daughter combo, grandparents with their granddaughter and a single traveller on her first cruise. We all found plenty to talk about and I really enjoy this type of dining as you get to know people, swapping stories and tips along the way. Our waiters were fantastic, although I didn't think to make a note of their names. The food itself I thought was excellent and each night there was something completely different so it never got boring. We had breakfast here twice too, which was also very good and I was surprised at how much choice there was. The only other place we ate was in The Waterside and The Beach House, which are the buffet restaurants. We ate here for supper on embarkation day as we'd skipped lunch and dinner was several hours away. The Waterside was heaving but that's to be expected, and as the Beach House was effectively closed we brought our food through to eat there where it was quieter. The choice of food wasn't great and it all tasted pretty bland. There was also only water or tea/coffee available which I wasn't best pleased about - surely they could have had juice or squash too? Other cruise lines do. We ate here once more for breakfast the next day and then decided that it wasn't for us. The choice of breakfast food was good, with hot, cold, cereal and pastries but again it was all very bland and didn't compare to the breakfast we had the following day in the Saffron Restaurant. Frankie's Grill and Frankie's Pizzeria seemed very popular so we will probably try that out when we go again in September. We also saved trying the speciality restaurants East and The White Room, as it's difficult to get a reservation on a short cruise. Ramblas seemed like a nice area and I heard other people saying the food was nice too, but to me it seems a bit forgotten and was usually empty whenever we walked through it. Entertainment: The Sail-away Party was brilliant despite the overcast weather. The live band played a real mixture of classic and modern songs that seemed to appeal to everyone. We saw 2 of the 3 shows in the Arena theatre, with the first being Destination Dance which was like a mini-musical showcasing lots of different styles of dancing as well as live singing. The best part for me was the end where the whole of the Headliners dance troupe performed a Riverdance-style Irish jig, which was just fantastic! The second show we saw was on the last night and was a Boogie nights-style show, with disco music throughout the decades, and some acrobatics thrown in for good measure. Considering there are probably only about 14 or 15 members of Headliners they do an amazing job, with constant costume changes and not a single note out of key. They are probably one of the best shows I've seen so far. We went to Havana's once but it was rammed full (they had the Robbie Williams tribute act that night) and also only went to Metropolis once as we found the music a little depressing (a quietly spoken woman and a keyboard does not qualify as entertainment in my book!) We didn't bother with The Exchange as karaoke isn't for either of us, but it was always packed when were walked to and from the theatre. The Red Bar was nice for a spot of people watching as its right by the Atrium and one night the pianist got some of the waiters singing which was great. Can't really comment on the daytime entertainment as we were off the ship, and obviously not travelling with kids I've no idea what the kids' clubs were like either. Gym/Spa: I only encountered these areas on my tour of the ship, but I will be making use of them on my cruise in September. I love the spa, and use of the thermal suite seemed very reasonable to me, working out around £10 per day. The people in the gym were perhaps a little over-enthusiastic but I imagine that's the only way to encourage people to use it! Overall, I still really love the Ventura but she is definitely starting to show her age and I think the refurbishment next Spring is well-timed and well-needed. I still maintain that she's a great ship for young and old and I didn't see any of the so-called 'Butlins' or 'chavvy' people that I've seen mentioned on so many reviews. All the staff I encountered were superb, the food for the most part was excellent and the entertainment was top notch - I can't wait until September when Mum and I go back for more! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Well having travelled on RCI and Celebrity before we thought we'd try P&O. Despite booking a year ago we were given very little choice of availability and selected two staterooms for our party of 4 on deck C. We said no to the ... Read More
Well having travelled on RCI and Celebrity before we thought we'd try P&O. Despite booking a year ago we were given very little choice of availability and selected two staterooms for our party of 4 on deck C. We said no to the auto upgrade as P&O would not guarantee that a linked booking would be treated as a priority and would be kept together (this really isn't fair if you are a family or party that wants to be near by) As the time for our cruise approached, we noticed P&O started to heavily discount the sailing on 21 August 2012 with a number of "getaway deals". We therefore contacted Customer Service and after a bit of a faff we were upgraded the week before we sailed. Although both staterooms were on the same deck, the staterooms were spread - one mid and one forward. It was frustrating to see getaway fares offered that would have saved us almost £1000! Whether the new P&O Price Pledge will finally see early bookers treated fairly we will wait and see. You are advised to contact Customer Service and too be persistent with your query! My advice is to take time to plan / pick your stateroom - we should have stayed put really. Travelling through the Bay of Biscay on our way home made for a very rocky ride for us near the front! Lucky we are seasoned cruisers and didn't get sick but travelling at 30 knots with a wind at same speed, many were feeling a bit off it the day after. Well let's now focus on the cruise, Ventura has had mixed reviews and some criticism. It launched the same year as RCI's Independence - which we have travelled on. It's not as glitzy or sparkles but really comfortable. It certainly isn't Celebrity... but it seem to suit loads of people who return year on year. Though some felt standards were lower than previous years. On the day of embarkation it was well organised, we'd booked the car parking service - we went one way, luggage another and car taken away - great - worth every penny provided car was returned back!. We booked 5 days too late for free car parking - book early to get this (we did though book in time to get a good on board credit). We were on the Ventura early, had a pleasant lunch and a tour round. Our Staterooms were ready early and both were very well presented. Very clean and had all that we needed. We had a great sized bathroom and good amount of hanging space. The bathroom was better that both RCI and Celebrity in terms of size. Luggage delivery was a bit haphazard but our stateroom attendant sorted it all. Our champagne and chocolates were there, fluffy bathrobes and slippers. No complaints. Our children were in a very pleasant stateroom and the youngest had special pink bedding. Both attendants were excellent. Dinner was in Saffron - we were on late sitting. We had no complaints and our food and service across the cruise was good. An attentive waiter and wine waiter. The dress code was observed well and again this was something other reviewers had highlighted as a negative. We struggled to find any unfriendly staff ....though there was one exception on arrival in Breakers Bar (yes it was sunny and we went on deck for sail away)there was one miserable waiter who didn't give a very good welcome at all (name withheld he's about 48ish with glasses on!) I think overall the staff were really nice and when you chatted they responded. The officers and senior staff seem to treat the staff well and there was banter / humour between staff which was nice to see (unlike RCI or Celebrity where they were strict). In terms of amenities - we tend to do our own thing and get into the port rather than go on excursions. We don't do the talks or films but when others said they had gone they enjoyed them. If you go on this cruise or any other miss La Palma - dreadful place! Although it was a Sunday - Im sure not much else happens on a Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday etc as one of the comedians said a one horse town. The highlight for us was Madeira - so cheap...Oporto was good but we do like Portugal. Our children used the kids club - no complaints and they made nice friends - the holiday makers are virtually all from the UK. So if you don't like the culture even Bingo - go with another line for the variety. Night time brought the Theatre Shows and other acts(again not every-one's cup of tea) but the entertainment we saw was good - Fogwell Flax has had mixed reviews but we enjoyed both shows, the two other Comedians were good (sorry I just can't remember the names but I laughed despite my other half saying I have no sense of humour) and the singer in the Tamarind mostly was 5th Element and were possibly the best they had on board other that Des Walker. There was a duo that sang in the Met Bar called Into the Drift but for us they needed to drift off...(sorry but the woman twittered and never seem to have her sheet music ready...)The ballroom dancers made our toes curl but it was a must for others. P&O do a sail away party out of each Port,avoid these if you don't fancy a load of music, cheering and daftness. They made a special effort for the last one to celebrate 175 years of P&O. There are two other pools away from the crowd - a tiny one at the back and an adults only at the front. Someone did say on another review that there was little control exercised over the kids in the laguna pool but we noticed that the kids were quite good - Ventura is a family ship - so don't book in school holidays if you don't like kids. The indoor / covered pool tended to be the base for most kids. Great to have a retractable roof in cold weather. P&O do try to make an effort with a 60 and 70s night on day 4 - about 20% dressed up and a tropical night mid cruise - about 70% dressed up. The formal nights were well supported with adults and children looking really smart! There was a lovely chocoholics afternoon tea that was possibly attended by all 3000 passengers - Im sure that we dipped in the middle as everyone made there way to mid ship. A nice touch and appreciated by all. We understand that the shows by the Headliners Team were good and other shows well supported like Clem Curtis and a Freddy Mercury Tribute - it's all very British. We don't do every show as we did on our first cruise - we get about more. The Cruise Director isn't OTT - I recall one cruise where the CD was the centre of his universe and totally full of himself. The staff just get on with what they do. The White Room was a lovely experience though our waiter was a little cool and very very hard to understand but the dinner was excellent. We sat outside and watched the sunset go down. Marco's Tiramisu was the best. I know some do not want to pay the £25 cover charge but we really enjoy things like this! East got good reviews but there were two curry nights in the Waterside Buffet and we went there (no cover charge and good selection). Unlike Celebrity and RCI there is limited choice - so if you don't do the main dining room be aware that they have a theme each night - Italian, curry, cowboys - there is limited choice ... If you are used to the different buffet stations on other lines you may be a bit disappointed. There was the Beach House which was good for steaks etc and it was hard to get in. One lady I spoke to was very vocal about the lack of choice. We used the buffet for breakfast as the main dining room was just a bit OTT in the morning with a limited choice - you could only have certain things on set days ie scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on a sunday...not really the sort of limitations I'd expect so this is my little moan. Las Ramblas was lovely - we enjoyed our Tapas and Sangria and we didn't mind the small charge! I know others begrudge it and it is a personal choice. Coffee Shop and retail outlets were very good - better stock that Celebrity and more affordable. Excellent outfits for men and women if you need another special outfit even a tux or bow tie. Spa was great and on a port day my other half treated me to the unwind package - worth the £69 for 90 minutes of pure pampering. There are plenty of places to go on board and all venues such as the casino, exchange bar, coffee shop (selling COSTA), Met Bar, Red Bar, Tamarind and Havana etc all seemed well supported. It has a busy vibe and doesn't have the dip in the atmosphere that some lines have between dinner sittings - the two main dining rooms were well attended and the Bay Tree for Freedom Dining was popular but at peak I understand some people had to wait. Room service was efficient with a reasonable selection. P&O put tea and coffee making facilities in the room which were popular with older holiday makers. A little old lady told me that she loved her tea tray (bless her!) Frankie's Grill and Pizzeria was popular for burgers, pizza and other things (no charge).Half way through there was a lunchtime barbi which was appreciated. A feature was a guy doing an ice carving in just 7 minutes. Internet service was best we had, no cold water in staterooms it's always warm(previous reviewers have noted this), decent hairdryer in staterooms, ironing room and washers / dryers how great. Some passengers did all their washing before coming home! Value for money.. yes - our cheapest cruise so far.... There is no hard sell (unlike RCI) on P&O though the female waitresses in the bars do mither and mither you even when you have a full glass of wine. Bar prices not too bad. The shuttle buses are free and on other lines they do rip you off. This is a real saving for a family of 4. The gifts for the children were good in the Reef Club and they were treated to pizza and other things which was nice. Some people felt a bit let down ( some P&O advocates) and I suppose you get what you pay for. Ventura was for the four of us overall good value for money. I can see why one reviewer said it was Butlins on Sea - though I feel it is perhaps a bit hard - sure it's not got the finesse of other lines but what it does... it does well. Everyone seemed really nice on Board and most were really happy with their holiday. My only disappointment was the getting off, we went to the buffet for breakfast as we had an early slot. I fell badly on my side due to a very slippy floor in the swimming pool area and hit the floor hard. There was no care or attention from any P&O staff but a number of other passengers were lovely (I felt that they had taken my money and I was now off!) I was very shaken, an Officer offered no assistance at all. We then had possibly the worst disembarkation ever... but in the round it didn't spoil things. Would we go with P&O again - possibly but we plan to try Princess or return to RCI. Ohh and my car was there and the car parking service was great. Hope this was review useful and may I wish future passengers a lovely holiday. PS Skip La Palma! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Initially for the first couple of days on board Ventura the service was dreadful - very very slow but this did improve as time progressed. Most waiters were extremely pleasant helpful whilst a few were surly and off-hand. Excellent meal ... Read More
Initially for the first couple of days on board Ventura the service was dreadful - very very slow but this did improve as time progressed. Most waiters were extremely pleasant helpful whilst a few were surly and off-hand. Excellent meal in The White Room and East. Facilities for children very good. However, I think management need to focus on service and importantly health and safety in the swimming pools. There are notices stating 'no diving' and 'no jumping' but these were ignored by most of the teenagers using the pools. Despite pointing out our concerns at reception and after hearing similar views from other passengers, no notice was taken of our comments. What is the point in having notices if activities in the pool are not monitored at any time by staff? There were no easy access shepherd's hooks provided at the swimming pools and whirlpool spas as far as I could see and when younger children are in the water it is extremely dangerous when older ones jump and dive in - it is an accident waiting to happen. One final point at no time did the tap water run cold - it was always warm. Apparently as the hot and cold water tanks are near to each other the water in the cold tank is dependent upon outside weather conditions. This was the explanation although I have definitely not experienced this on other cruise liners. The cruise was enjoyable but improvements need to be facilitated. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We have just got back from our first Fjords cruise and had a great time. Having sailed on Oceana from Southampton before and finding that cruise too quiet for our liking we were concerned about booking another P&O cruise but we ... Read More
We have just got back from our first Fjords cruise and had a great time. Having sailed on Oceana from Southampton before and finding that cruise too quiet for our liking we were concerned about booking another P&O cruise but we needn't have worried. Ventura has far more going on with a large theatre and other bars with stages so there was plenty of good quality evening entertainment. The productions were of high quality and the Annie Lennox and Freddie Mercury tribute acts were amongst the best acts I've seen at sea. We had a standard balcony cabin on A deck which was of a good size with plenty of storage and it was well maintained by our steward Uday. However on the last day he did take all our own coat hangers before we had packed them and they were never seen again. I know it may not be a big deal to most (and it isn't for me really but it just seemed a bit strange) why does a British ship sailing from Britain show the American "E"and MSNBC TV channels amongst the choice of 4? Fortunately there was a range of on demand movies (a few free) if you fancied watching something in your room. We ate in the main restaurant every night and were never disappointed. The food was of very high quality and the service was very efficient if a little hurried on some occasions. We chose freedom dining which meant that we sat at a different table every night with different waiters so we did not get the opportunity to get to know them but it suited us as we could plan our nights depending on what entertainment was on around the ship. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was another matter. The quality of food was ok but the whole layout was very poorly designed. The buffet areas were too small for the number of people trying to use them with little room between stations to move around and once you got your food there was inadequate seating capacity. We invariable ending up sitting outside which was fine but if the weather had been worse this area would probably have not been usable. Due to the weather (high winds and 8 - 10m swells) the Captain made the decision not to go to Gerainger but to stop in Flam instead. Whilst this was disappointing I think it was good of him to arrange this in a limited time frame rather than take the easy option to have stayed berthed in Skjolden overnight. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Ventura and would quite happily sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We're a young(ish) active couple in our early 40s who booked a week on Ventura cruising the Norwegian Fjords as our first cruise. We didn't want to spend a fortune or go for more than a week in case cruising wasn't for us. ... Read More
We're a young(ish) active couple in our early 40s who booked a week on Ventura cruising the Norwegian Fjords as our first cruise. We didn't want to spend a fortune or go for more than a week in case cruising wasn't for us. My husband hates flying so a cruise from Southampton seemed ideal. We normally holiday in the UK and enjoy walks, photography, good food and in my husband's case, a pint of two of real ale. This cruise appealed because is was sure to be scenic and seemed like a good introduction to holidaying at sea. We travelled by train from Nottingham to Southampton to avoid the stress of driving and the expense of parking. It was easier than getting to the pick up point for the coach. As soon as we got out of the taxi at the Mayflower Pier our cases were immediately whisked away and we joined the line for check in. The queue moved fairly swiftly and within about 30 mins we were on board. We felt a bit lost and not sure what to do but were handed a map of the ship and wandered off to find our cabin. On our way we came across our cases which were waiting on the corridor and wheeled them the rest of the way down to our cabin towards the aft end of the C deck. We'd decided on aft to save £100 each and had read that C deck cabins have the best balconies. This is true. Our cabin had everything we needed, was well tastefully decorated, comfortable and a reasonable size. Our cabin steward, Grazie, introduced herself almost as soon as we'd moved in. She told us where to find our muster station and made sure we were happy with our cabin. She did a great job keeping our home for the week clean and tidy and was always smiling and chirpy. After unpacking (and yes there was plenty of room for our stuff, our cases and enough hangers) we went for a wander and afternoon tea. Then it was time for the safety talk at the muster station (Havana). This didn't take long and was straight forward. We spent the first afternoon exploring although we still managed to get lost a few times, even towards the end of the week! The floors are a bit confusing as some areas don't seem to link up from all 3 staircases but we had some extra exercise finding our way round. We'd opted for freedom dining and ate in the Cinnamon restaurant each evening, We didn't see the point of paying extra to eat in the "select" restaurants as the food and service were very good in our allocated restaurant. We elected not to share tables and never had to wait long for a table for 2. We ate close to 6pm most evenings and were shown a window seat several times. We have no complaints about the food. There was plenty of choice and it was possible to request items that weren't on the menu if you're especially fussy. The service from the waiters was prompt and efficient. Some were more smiley and friendly than others but they were all good at their jobs. We sampled most of the bars on board and preferred the Metropolis bar over all due to the relaxed atmosphere and great views. We also liked the Red Bar as it was comfortable. The drink prices were reasonable and the service was attentive without being pushy. Even in busy venues, such as the theatre and Havana bar the staff did a great job in getting to you when you needed a refill and remembering who ordered what. I don't know how they do it! Hubby was happy with the range of real ales and I enjoyed working my way through the cocktail list and sampling the occasional liquor. We went to some of the shows in the theatre. The Headliners singers and dancers were very good and their shows were professional and entertaining. The comedians were ok but we didn't see any of them for a second time. The Neil Diamond and Tom Jones tribute acts were very good. The older ladies in the audience especially enjoyed the banter from the Tom Jones act! We didn't partake in the entertainment every evening. We were happy just to sit in the Metropolis bar with a drink, enjoying the sunsets and chilled out music. There was a fairly comprehensive programme of daytime activities but most of it wasn't really our cup of tea. We did use the gym which was very well equipped. The classes were a bit expensive but the free "fab abs" class was good. The treadmills and cardio equipment are arranged to give a great view out to sea at the front of the ship. Who needs MTV! There are plenty of swimming pools on Ventura but only a few brave souls made use of them. It was rather nippy in April! If you want to do "proper" swimming you'll find them a bit small. The endless pool wasn't working most of the time but it was too cold to use it anyway. The temperature around the only covered pool was reasonable and if that had been bigger or "endless" we might have used it. Ventura is a family ship so this area was a bit noisy for us although most of the time we didn't really notice many children elsewhere on board as it was term time. You can always get something to eat on the ship without having to pay extra for it. The 24hr buffet had a good choice of food. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea were fairly varied and of good quality. Seating was rather limited and at times we walked circuits around both sides of Waterfront and Beach house to find a table. It probably would be less congested in warmer climates when you could make use of the exterior seating. On our cruise we had 2 sea days and visited ports on 4 days. The excursions were very expensive. We only booked one - the Flam railway trip. This was also pricey but we don't regret booking it. There wasn't a lot to do in the ports other than enjoy the scenery. This was enough for us. Flam and Bergen are covered below. We also visited Stavanger and Olden. Both were interesting and pleasant to wander around. We liked the old town in Stavanger but it felt as though Ventura and its passengers took over the town in a rather imposing and intrusive way. It seemed as though it wasn't quite ready for the tourist season as not everywhere was open and quite a lot of work was being done in the port. Olden has some shops geared towards tourists. We didn't buy anything but lots of people did - they were packed! We found the old wooden church which was worth the short walk to find. Again, some of the shops were closed - they missed a trick there! The prettiest area can be found by turning left and walking down the road back along the Fjord. There's a wooden pier by some conifer trees where we took some lovely photos which look like paintings. There is something surreal about the colours of the landscape and the snow-capped mountains reflected in the water. Yes, Norway is expensive but cruising is a cheaper way to visit as there is no need to pay for food and drinks - you can get them on the ship! We only wandered around in the ports for a few hours between breakfast and lunch so didn't need to get on and off too many times. This was a good thing as queuing to get through security was a bit of a chore, albeit necessary and understandable. We had been a bit nervous before our holiday about rough seas. One night was quite bad although the staff were reassuring, especially the captain who had warned us that there would be a big swell and some noise from the bow slapping down on the sea (gulp!) We wore our anti sea sickness bands and didn't feel ill, just a little anxious. We propped ourselves up in bed and watched the TV most of the night to distract us from the noise and motion. There was some vibration from the stabilisers which i understand was worse on the lower decks. The rest of the time we were lucky to have fairly smooth seas and good weather. We knew it would be cold and packed accordingly. Disembarkation was swift and well organised but no drinks were offered wile we waited to be led off the ship. We would have happily paid for a cuppa in the bar as we'd had to vacate our room by 8am and were not due to leave until after 10am. We could have left earlier, taking our bags off ourselves but we'd have had a long wait at Southampton station. We were expecting the buffet breakfast to be rammed on disembarkation but we beat the crowds by eating before 7am. It was the quietest we'd seen it all week! We would definitely recommend P&O and Ventura and the Norwegian Fjords. In fact I've been missing the ship since we came home! It would be interesting to see how different the experience would be in warm weather when you could sit on deck and enjoy the pools. Maybe next time... Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
A packed Ventura set sail on 7 April 2013 for an Easter holiday cruise down to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and La Coruna. Myself and two teenagers were in inside cabin C248- a perfectly acceptable cabin with no noise issues. The first night and ... Read More
A packed Ventura set sail on 7 April 2013 for an Easter holiday cruise down to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and La Coruna. Myself and two teenagers were in inside cabin C248- a perfectly acceptable cabin with no noise issues. The first night and day was marred by a force ten down the English channel and Bay of Biscay. Daughter was ill and loads of people wandering around clutching Ventura medical Centre invoices. Vigo- well a forgettable port. Just glad to get off. Go up the road by the tourist information Office and turn right for literally two minutes to find (left)the most packed mini market shop selling all goods in the suface area of a shoe box. Stocked up on Don Simon wine cartons at 1.45 euros each to put in the cabin fridge! Also cake thingys which would come in useful throughout. Next stop, Lisbon. Lisbon is hideous. Clearly the only industry thriving is that manufacturing paint spray cans. Crumbling and graffitied it is a sorry sight.Stayed 20 minutes. Into yet another area of low pressure heading north, the Captain had to throw away Oporto and we had to endure another rather boring day onboard, tempered only when the sun came out late afternoon. La Corunna was a nice surprise. Clean, well maintained and upmarket. Great British Sailaway- hmmm, I'm patriotic but is this bordering on the jingoistic? We were on freedom dining in Cinnamon- nice crew and reasonable food- I cannot say the food blew me away to be honest. This ship cannot cope on sea days with the breakfast bun fight. Two room service orders to overcome this were "lost" with no apology offered. Kids club good- although a few individuals a bit snooty. Casino was fun. Didn't sample any of the shows. Weather ruined the whole thing- not P and O's fault. Would not sail from Southampton again. Three out of three cruises in the past 12 months were ruined/altered due to the weather conditions. Hey ho. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
First of all for the price I payed I cannot really complain, but in just 4 short days i'm not overly impressed with P&O.The good bits - the ship is spotless the cabins and beds fantastic room maid brilliant, food in main ... Read More
First of all for the price I payed I cannot really complain, but in just 4 short days i'm not overly impressed with P&O.The good bits - the ship is spotless the cabins and beds fantastic room maid brilliant, food in main restaurants.The not so good - entertainment (pub & club standard) & timings of shows.The really poor bits - Buffet restaurant quality, pools & spa pools.Let me elaborate on my mini cruise to Brugge & St Peter port on Ventura, check in very good & well organised our room was spotless, we had a quick walk round the ship and soon found ourselves completely lost now your thinking well it's a big ship! wrong it's the smallest we have been on the deck and room numbers don't work shouldn't a room on deck 8 be say 8204 not E204 you get in a lift you don't know where you are going, then you have to map out your journey from one end of ship to the other unlike the independence you can walk from one end to other without changing deck any deck!There should be little signs outside lifts should tell you where you are forward, back, left right etc everyone had a little map it was quite funny watching everybody who was lost!Anyway the food in main restaurants was very good with good service, drinks service a little slower we ended up taking drinks in with us saved the long wait (starters finished & main course started before drinks came).Now the not so good entertainment was not the standard of RCI if you have been on RCI you will know what I mean. If your on 8:30 dining you only get the one show there was six shows on different locations all doing 8:30 and 10:30 starts so when you finished dining you had to make a choice of what you wanted to see we just went to the Arena after seeing some of the acts they were ok just not my cup of tea, the volume level seemed to drown out there ability!Now the bad all but two pools and one spa pool were shut even my lads said it was chaos and didn't go in with the weather fantastic at sea this was really poor and a few people were griping about it.The buffet restaurant choice and quality wasn't very good in fact it was poor again RCI do it miles, miles better, I had a curry at lunch time one day it was by far the worse curry i've ever had period.On the plus side when it shut for lunch and opened for afternoon tea this was miles better and was a pleasure, so we just did this.Tips for excursions on this tripZeebrugge - Get the free transfer bus to train station get the train one every hour staff will tell you the times about 6.50 euros return each then taxi to Brugge town square 7 euros each way go and go early in morning and get a full day.St Peter port - Get up early for the tenders because by 10:30 its manic and get either a taxi or bus from the bus station its 10 min walk along the front to where your going. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I booked this mini cruise online because of the fantastic price, after a colleague at work highly recommended Ventura and P&O I took my family, my mother and one of my sons mates with us, we had fantastic weather very smooth travel the ... Read More
I booked this mini cruise online because of the fantastic price, after a colleague at work highly recommended Ventura and P&O I took my family, my mother and one of my sons mates with us, we had fantastic weather very smooth travel the boat didn't move, Brugge was lovely and St Peter port nice for the time we had! Apart from that the rest was a little disappointing food in restaurant good but only warm the buffet house was very poor standard and not much choice, (compared to RCI it was really poor!) On the plus side breakfast was great in the restaurants. With only two pools and one whirlpool open they were mobbed by kids, not a problem they are entitled to a holiday as well, but had they got the other pools and splash pools open it may have eased the congestion, my mother was very disappointed not to get in a whirlpool, we sent her to the new oasis spa but that pool was shut so she came away. The entertainment was another bug bear of mine it was very loud maybe this drowned out the poor quality of the acts. Apart from the Take That tribute band who were good the rest were club standard again RCI seem to have quality musicians onboard. Getting off at Brugge was good a free courtesy bus to the train station with a local tour rep telling train times this was a good touch and a massive plus. (taxi from train station to centre square 7 euros) Getting off the ship at St Peter port all I will say is 'get up early'!! Disembarkation just like every other ship chaos!!Would I sail with P&O again....... only if I pay the same price I don't think I would ever pay their full brochure price.Ps :- Room P204 was very good, the room maid fantastic and when docking the ropes and anchor act as a great alarm clock so dont pack one! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Having previously cruised with Celebrity and RCL, we were keen to see how P&O compared, this was also our first cruise from a UK port. The only thing we would suggest as an area for really improvement is the website, RCL/Celebrity is ... Read More
Having previously cruised with Celebrity and RCL, we were keen to see how P&O compared, this was also our first cruise from a UK port. The only thing we would suggest as an area for really improvement is the website, RCL/Celebrity is far better to use, but after that P&O really impressed. In simple summary P&O is not necessarily better than the other two in an one area but it is consistently good at everything where as Celebrity and RCL both have areas in which they excel but some real short-comings in others. Compared to Cape Liberty in New Jersey Southampton is a joy. Clean, slick and very very well organised. Ventura is a modern and pleasant ship, our stateroom R705 was well appointed, simple things like a kettle and laundrette were nice touches compared to the American operators. In-room entertainment was a little bit limited but the pay to view movies were good value. We joined P&O excursions at Olden & Molde, both were well organised and enjoyable although all cruise ship excursions seem overpriced to me. Disembarkation/Embarkation was easy at every port. We tried all the restaurants on board, The White Room was OK but East was the one that impressed the most. Our first in the main dining room we were allocated the second sitting the service was incredibly rushed and then at the end the waiter introduced himself and the team, from then on the service in the main dining room was fine. A real strength was the evening entertainment, really good quality performances with good variety. Timings worked well to get everything fitted in each night. Overall a really enjoyable week, -must have been good we have just booked Azura to the Caribbean   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Having cruised on many previous occasions, but always with RCI/Celebrity, both in the Med and the Caribbean and on ships right up to and including Oasis class, this P&O booking was last minute, (to mark my 50th birthday), but the draw ... Read More
Having cruised on many previous occasions, but always with RCI/Celebrity, both in the Med and the Caribbean and on ships right up to and including Oasis class, this P&O booking was last minute, (to mark my 50th birthday), but the draw of sailing from Southampton appealed, as did the price for our usual grade of balcony cabin, so we took a chance and opted to try P&O's Ventura? After all, it was peak season and having been advertised as a 'family ship', we assumed that there would be loads to do by way of activities and entertainment, whilst P&O/Cunard are names that have been around for generations? Driving, instead of flying, was a pleasure and the meet-and-greet service for the car parking was faultless, as was the check-in procedure in the terminal. However, the differences showed from the second we boarded, as instead of the usual glass of chilled bubbly, instead, there were just a few half-hearted smiles from those assembled. Hey ho? Locating our cabin was easy and I have to say, whilst there were no real surprises, (it was immaculate and well equipped as usual), the extra hanging space was very well received. This said, the shower cubicle is noticeably smaller than those found on RCI/Celebrity....and I mean noticeably! We were travelling with another couple, so once we'd established that we were all dining aat the second sitting, but that we'd been put in different restaurants, (not just tables), we went to the main dining room and joined the queue to see the Manager. Apparently, we weren't alone, so we waited patiently and once ushered into the restaurant, we approached the man behind the desk, who, once we'd explained out predicament, informed us that there was nothing he could do, but that he'd try to seat us together, in the same restaurant, from the following day? I politely informed him that this was not acceptable, I reminded him that we had booked together and that we wanted to sit together, but he again repeated that there was nothing he could do! It was only after we had escalated the matter to a Customer Relations Manager, that we were given the possibility of some hope? However, as it subsequently transpired, the impossible became possible, as indeed, we sat and dined together. Funny how things can happen if you really try hard enough! Another issue relates to formal dining, as whilst I wear a suit and tie for work, I consciously choose not to wear a tux for the formal evenings, although I do wear a shirt and tie, (on RCI/Celebrity). However, having been informed that unless I wore a jacket, I would be refused access to the main restaurant(s) on the three formal evenings, I asked to see where it said this in writing? Yes, it advises/suggests that a tux be worn, but nowhere does it state in writing that without a jacket, entrance will be refused! Strangely, not even a F&B, not a CR manager, could show me this, although had I have been aware, I would have been prepared. Thanks P&O for the head's-up, albeit, a fantastic F&B No.2 officer found me a jacket to smooth the way. If you already have the impression that we wouldn't travel P&O again, you're probably spot on, although to provide tangible reasons why, here are some facts and not just opinions, which of course are entirely personal: * Available options for the breakfast buffet get nowhere near comparing with that offered by RCI/Celebrity, whilst regardless, P&O have clearly never heard of serving warm/hot toast! * Unfortunately, the same goes for the lunchtime buffet menu * Insufficient seating exists for buffet dining, (which is well documented), with you needing to fight, or wait, to secure a table at busy times! * We experienced poorly maintained areas of the buffet restaurant, with tables left covered in soiled plates and one waiter not clearing crockery, as we were informed that it was another's responsibility! * We understand that P&O do have a company teaspoon, (probably just the one for the fleet), but for anyone on our ship, you'll laugh at the complete lack of teaspoons. (Oh come on, smile.....we did). * The quality of the evening meals, (in the main restaurant), exceeded that of RCI/Celebrity, whilst our Waiter and Ass. Waiter, (Bay Tree, table 118), were nothing short of outstanding * No soft drinks packages are available, unless you want to combine a quantity of sodas with ice-creams? No thank you. * There are also insufficient numbers of poolside beds for the number of passengers travelling, which is drastically highlighted on 'sea days' * Daytime entertainment activities are incredibly poor and other than being posted in Horizon, (the on-board paper, the preceding evening), nothing is advertised on the day, before the event, over the PA system! * The on-board photography really team didn't inspire anyone and something that quite a few passengers that we spoke to really took offence at, was that when positioning passengers for a picture, some of them actually touched clothing and/or jewellery, to reposition it. Sorry, please don't invade my space by touching me like that! * Apparently, we had a Cruise Director on-board, although unlike other cruise lines, he was practically invisible? * The excursions team were called upon to address quite a few unhappy passengers after a very poor tour specifically, (a 2.5hr coach trip each way, with a 40min stop at a cafe and not at all as advertised) and they did so by merely informing the group that there was nothing that they could do, or would do and that a refund would not be entertained! * The afternoon silver-service cream tea is a 'must', so long as you're entirely comfortable having sandwiches, cakes, crumpets, tea cakes and scones, all served at your table at precisely the same time! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my food, but steady on chaps, the plates aren't big enough for everything at the same time! If you're still reading my review, it's probably because you can't believe my perceived levels of negativity, or you're just plain curious. However, what about this? My brother-in-law inadvertently locked his sleeping wife out on their balcony. OK, it wasn't clever, but these things happen. However, when we were alerted to this fact by her calling to us over the balconies and we visited Customer Relations asking for assistance, we understand that they couldn't provide us with a duplicate cabin key, (after all, it wasn't out cabin), but it really shouldn't have taken almost an hour for someone to have gone into their cabin to open the balcony door!! Furthermore, my wife and I were on our own balcony afterwards discussing the matter, only to find our cabin steward and the Head of Housekeeping, standing in our cabin, knocking on our own balcony door to attract our attention! Apparently, we hadn't heard them knock on our cabin door, so they let themselves in and stood looking at us on the balcony. And if we'd been undressed, or otherwise engaged, (I'll let you work the rest out), but they didn't see an issue with it? Apparently, neither did Customer Relations, as when we raised the matter with them, they dismissed us out of turn! And now for something completely different: * As already mentioned, the quality of the evening meals in the main restaurants were excellent * Jessica Lloyd, the female solo vocalist, was world class! * The resident Ventura Band was outstanding! * Our cabin was maintained beautifully! * The overall presentation of the ship, (apart from the external public decks where smoking was allowed), was immaculate! * The retail therapy, for a ship that size, were adequate, (although do yourself a favour and don't buy cosmetics/perfumes on-board, as they're cheaper in the UK) * The heating and A/C in the cabin worked brilliantly! * There's a great selection of bars and places to eat! To provide you with an overview of my wife and I, as you probably now have us down as troublesome passengers who are never really happy, we've cruised on many occasions, we've dined in speciality restaurants and been on numerous shore-side excursions and we've never once before had cause to negatively comment, or complain, or have Customer Relations get involved. We've paid our way, had amazing times and thoroughly enjoyed our voyages, with the next one this October on Independence out of Southampton, so we're certainly not looking for issues. However, for us, the experience on Ventura was regrettably somewhat poor and certainly, not what we'd enjoyed previously with RCI/Celebrity. This said, if 8th-18th August was your first cruise, or you've never cruised RCI/Celebrity, then it may be that you actually wouldn't know any different? For us, we have October to look forward to and we've started planning for 2014 already as well.........it just won't be with P&O again!! Happy cruising everyone :) Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We booked this cruise just 4 weeks before we sailed. We have only ever sailed with P&O (twice a year for the last 7 years) so have nothing to compare it with other than comments on here and what we hear from fellow passengers !! We ... Read More
We booked this cruise just 4 weeks before we sailed. We have only ever sailed with P&O (twice a year for the last 7 years) so have nothing to compare it with other than comments on here and what we hear from fellow passengers !! We have sailed on Ventura once before, 4 years ago, and at that time felt a lot of the passengers were a bit "rough" and it was clearly being marketed as a very family friendly and very casual ship. (Well, more casual than the rest of the fleet)and at the lower end of the cruiser market !!! I sound like a snob !! This time around the cruise we chose was the only one that fitted in with what we wanted to do, and I wanted a hot sun cruise round bog standard Western Med destinations. That said, we had never been to Marseilles, Algherro, Malaga or la Coruna, so we were looking forward to those ports. Gibraltar, Barcelona and Livorno were the others. Embarkation was superb and the best we have ever had, very quick. We miss the old style sailaways with a band and a sense of occasion. No band, and we had started to leave by the time emergency drill had been done. No sense of excitement at all and over priced booze !! (Although generally P&O are very reasonable with drinks prices) The weather was superb. wall to wall sun every day, and some days were very hot. We used our balcony a lot, so really got value for money. Thank goodness we had a balcony as we couldnt have got a sun lounger on the decks - which were heaving. That is a major minus point of this ship. Despite warnings not to do so, most people just reserved their loungers at the crack of dawn, then went to breakfast. My partner swam first thing on a number of days and said rows of loungers were reserved with towels etc, even at 8am !! We also noted that it was always the same people sat right beside the pools. The cabin was well presented and our steward did a good job. The balcony was a decent size, but was quite dirty. I like the open walk in wardrobes in this ship (and Azura) which allow much more hanging space. We are late risers so are never in time for breakfast in the main dining rooms. We like the alternatives to the buffet, offered on Oceana (Cafe Jardin), Aurora (cafe Bordeaux) and oriana (Al Fresco). However despite being a big ship, there are no such alternatives on Ventura, and we ran the gamut of the buffet every morning. The food there isnt that bad, but at about 10am it is like a rat run !! We took one lunch in the main dining room which was pleasant, we usually skip lunch if we have a snack from the grill or have afternoon tea. Afternoon Tea has gone right down hill (or maybe it is just this ship) - there is no finess and they want to serve you everything at once. I really dont want a crumpet when I am still trying to eat the scones and cream !! Evening meals in the Saffron restaurant were , as always, very good and our waiters were superb. We had a jolly table and a good time was had by all !! We ate in the White Room once and had a fantastic meal, and had two lunches in the Glass House which were also of good quality. The Headliners theatre group were very good, and not having sailed on this ship for 4 years, three of the shows were new to us. A novelty as we have seen most of them umpteen times and P&O seem to notewant to introduce new theatre shows to their fleet. Over the last few years we have felt the cabaret artists have declined in standard, but not on this cruise. Clem Curtis, Laura Carter and Jamie Allen were superb. The ventriloquist was berabale, and the only damp squib was a french pair (Charlie and Jeremy) who did one show of juggling and tumbling. An act better suited to a circus and not very good at that either !! The bands, and dance bands were all excellent and overall the entertainent was very very good. I Understand from what I hear from other people who cruise multiple lines, that P&O are usually the best for evening entertainment and I can quite beleive it. That said, the Cruise Director was Hughie Taylor, so we knew he would be virtually invisible ( we know what he is like) and this was the case. For a family cruise in high season, we expected more daytime activities. maybe they knew everyone would be out enjoying the sun, who knows, but there was little to do. There were no port presentations (these were just on the TV on a loop, so you had to listen to them all to get to the one you wanted), there was no interview with the captain, there was no interview with the headliners troop, there was no classical act. Maybe they dont do these things on Ventura, who knows, but this was the first cruise we have done where there was none of those things. The ports were all as to be expected with decent times in port (8am until 4 or 5 most days). Gibraltar was 1 till 7 (but that is usually half a day anyway and lets face it, its a tip, who wants a full day there !!) . The main problem was Algherro on Sardinia. Our only tender port. The process of queuing for our tender ticket to actually stepping foot on land took from 10.15am until 12.55pm = a staggering 2hrs 40 mins. NOT GOOD ENOUGH P&O. Despite regular updates and assuranaces they were doing all they could, this should not have happened. It appeared to many folk that P&O should not be taking their biggest ships to tender ports as they cannot cope with the huge numers of folk wanting to get of. They have been here before with Ventura so must have known what would happen. The feeble excuse was that there was a 3mph speed limit in the harbour - what utter rot. The real reason was they mis judged that most people would want to go ashore mid morning. They should issue tickets for time slots, the day before. Obviously they won't because that would entail extra costs. Hey ho, we still had 2.5 hourts ashore but it could have been longer. Similarly quesues for shuttles were often quote long, and where we could, we walked into town. We did two tours - both "on your owns" to Sitges from Barcelona,and to Florence from Livorno. Both as to be expected. The theme of queues was one of the main themes of the cruise It was a very busy cruise. A young average age, with lots of kids and teenagers and large families on board. The ship was very busy and it was often a relief to retire to the quiet of our cabin and balcony. I like a busy ship, with a younger clientele, and it was busy until very late each evening, but perhaps I prefer it not quite as busy as it was !! Completely the opposite to Arcadia and Oriana which are now like floating rest homes and where everyone goes to bed at 11.30pm. On Ventura, there were lots of teenagers running along corridors and hanging around stairwells and lifts because they had nothing to do !! We had our cabin "make up" card stolen on one evening and our steward said it was a regular occurance, as the kids often took them out of all the doors. That said, there was no trouble on the cruise, but one felt that it was bever very far away. There were some very large family groups on board, who looked rather forbidding, and a bit rough. If challenged I expect they could have kicked off !!! This cruise had the feel of Butlins at sea and did not have any finness about it at times. On the 4 formal nights, compliance wasnt too bad, but we saw some people dressed completely casually, just milling around with everyone else in black tie. Thats the problem with a "suggested" dress code. It should be an enforced one, then the ones who want to remain casual can eat in the buffet !!! That said, everyone was clearly having a good time and , unlike Arcadia and Oriana, we encountered no moaners or whingers. BUT, the cruise just lacked a bit of finness. The food, service and entertainment were good quality as always, and for what we are now paying , it still represents good valuie for money, but clearly this ship is aimed at a market that I really dont want to cruise with regularly. I understand from a travel agent friend that ventura is P&O's most heavily re-booked ship. It clearly appeals to those it is martketed at, and thus is doing its job, so nothing weill change. I will stick to Aurora, Azura, and Oceana in future, with occasional forays on Oriana, but will only go on ventura again if I have no other options. Of course I could try another cruise line, but I hate large groups of Americans, so best to stick with P&O !!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our second P&O cruise, the first being in December last year on the Azura. We booked about six weeks before sailing and got what I thought was a good deal on an inside cabin. However one week later, for a very short time, the ... Read More
This was our second P&O cruise, the first being in December last year on the Azura. We booked about six weeks before sailing and got what I thought was a good deal on an inside cabin. However one week later, for a very short time, the same website was offering an outside cabin with balcony for the same price. A little frustrating but what can you do. Cabins were ready as soon as we got on board and half our luggage got to it before we did. Our cabin steward Sharon was quick to introduce herself but we saw very little of her during the trip. Because of P&Os sensible policy regarding bringing drink on board, we asked Sharon for a bucket of ice to be delivered around 5.00pm each evening and she was happy to oblige. The layout of the Ventura is identical to the Azura so it took next to no time to familiarise ourselves and were pleasantly surprised by the general decor of the ship, which I thought was presented in a more tasteful fashion than the Azura. Throughout the trip there seemed to be intermittent problems with the lifts which often led to long waiting times. It was not helped by several kids who thought it would be a good game and took delight in making sure that lifts stopped on every floor. As far as food was concerned, we had requested a table of six for the second sitting and were delighted to quickly make friends with the other two couples on our table. While I found the service from our waiter Gilbert to be excellent, we were a little dismayed one evening when he was quite rude to a guest when she complained about her steak being underdone. He implied that she got what she ordered although this was not the case. Other than this one incident, service was faultless. I am a big meat eater and my wife prefers fish, we were both very happy with the variety and quality. We were not happy with the cold toast at breakfast!! Other reviews have already commented that some of the staff were quite rude and I would mirror this observation, especially the staff in Costa Coffee. Equally frustrating was the delay in ordering drinks from the roving waiters. Their practice was to walk around offering their service but not returning to the bar to fulfil orders until they had multiple requests. This meant that quite often you would have anything up to a fifteen minute wait before drinks were delivered. Entertainment throughout the trip was varied and of a high standard. I did feel that both the magician and the comedian who performed twice during the cruise were unable to match their first nights performance. In both instances the second show was not as good as the first. I would also like to single out two members of the entertainment team. Firstly the Cruise Director, simply because he was almost invisible. Apart from welcoming us aboard on the first night, the only other time I saw him was drinking in the bar on the last night. He made one announcement a day over the public address system where his attempt at humour was at best very poor. He left everything else up to his team. Perception is reality and in my experience he was useless. Conversely, Andrew Lazarus contributed greatly to our enjoyment of the cruise and I would single him out for special praise. He has only been doing the job for a year but if he sticks at it he will have a long and successful career. The cruise had all the usual Atrium sales. Interestingly the day before we arrived in Gibraltar, a duty free port, the on board duty free shop took a further 15% off its prices. I am not complaining as I got a great deal on Bushmills Whisky. This saved me time shopping in Gib and we were able to spend a few hours on a rather dirty beach instead. Most of the other ports were very nice to visit and Lisbon was a delight to sail into and out of. We didnt go on any organised tours as I think they are overpriced and offer little value. If you are not scared of engaging with the locals you can normally get to see what you want to for considerably less. Of course you run the risk of not getting back to the ship in time but proper planning should remove this issue. While this was a family friendly cruise, I particularly liked the Adults only areas and the pool with no kids allowed. In summary, I felt that it would have been nicer to stay a couple of hours longer in each port, perhaps the ship could have sailed a little faster to compensate. Some of the visits, especially Gibraltar really were whistle stop. It is always possible to nit-pick but when all is said and done cruising still represents fantastic value for money. Over the seven years that I have been cruising there is little doubt that standards are dropping and corners being cut. Unfortunately this is the way of the world and P&O are just as guilty as any other cruise line. This will not stop me cruising again and I cant wait for my next one (January next year). Perhaps I will get warm toast!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We really enjoy these short breaks and we look forward to spending a few days on board, as we live not far from Southampton it makes it easy for us to get to and from the port. The embarkation time we were given was 12.30 and we got to the ... Read More
We really enjoy these short breaks and we look forward to spending a few days on board, as we live not far from Southampton it makes it easy for us to get to and from the port. The embarkation time we were given was 12.30 and we got to the port by 11 - we waited for our letter to be called and it was all very easy, we were on board and eating in the self service retaurant by 12.45, the food was very good and we were pleased that there were plenty of wine waiters so we didn't have to wait long to have a glass of wine. As usual it was very busy but we managed to get a table by the window and queued up for our lunch, the food was very good with lots of choice and the view from the top of the ship over Southampton water was great. We we booked this as a guarantee cabin and only found out a few days beforehand that we were going to be on Riveria Deck which was deck 14. We had booked a balcony cabin and were slightly disappointed that we weren't lower down the ship where the balconies are bigger. However the cabin was very comfortable although we did have 6 bottles of water left for us with a note to say we could buy the pack if we wanted to. We put this under the small table but it was in the way. Our cabin steward didn't come and introduce himself and we only saw him once when he let himself into our cabin and then told us we should have put the "do not disturb sign" out. We were supposed to find out our dining arrangements once on board and when this has happened before there is usually a card left on the desk for us. This time there was nothing and we were worried as if we were eating at 6.30 we would need to get ready in a hurry. We phoned down to reception who said we would need to contact the dining manager, we tried ringing but the phone was constantly engaged or just kept ringing. We ended up going down and were told that we were able to eat at any time so we took it we had been allocated Freedom Dining. It took quite a bit of time to get this sorted which is annoying when you are only on a short trip as every hour is precious. Freedom dining suits us best so we were pleased with this, but saying that we did find we had to wait over an hour to get a table as P&O seem to have increased the amount of freedom diners. We had a drink in the Metropolis Bar, the Raspberry Brulee which is my favourite cocktail. We did notice that on this cruise there were a lot of hen parties which were very loud and some of them were very drunk. This was particularly disappointing in the restaurant, the noise levels and general rowdiness spoilt a lovely meal and as it was Gala Night it would have been nice to keep the feeling of elegance going but unfortunately women were being vulgar and some were rude to the staff. The entertainment for the first night was the ships company, Headliners, doing a review of songs from a variety of stage shows. We really enjoyed it and were very impressed with the quality of the singing. The second night was a comedian that we didn't find very funny and particularly didn't like the way he included the audience as it makes us feel uncomfortable, especially when questions that need to be answered in front of the whole audience. When we returned to our cabin on the first night we went to fill out our breakfast card so we could have some tea and some fruit juices in the morning with a fruit and cold meat platter. The cabin steward had removed our folder so we couldn't do this. I did phone room service and they brought some cards up for us but by this time it was 1.00 am and we had to wait for the cards to be delivered. I don't know why our steward removed the folder, it also meant that the postcard of the ship had gone and we like to collect these on the ships we have been on. We were woken the following morning to our tea and fruit and we enjoyed this in bed before getting up and going for a walk around the ship, our balcony had a view over the port of Zebrugge which was very industrial but interesting to watch all the work going on. We then went up to the self service breakfast where we had some coffee and a small bite to eat. P&O provide a free shuttle service to the local town where you can get the train into Bruges but as we had done this before so we opted to have a walk round the town. We went to the Storm Centre on the pier which on the website sounded interesting but in reality was not that good although we did spend a couple of hours walking around, it was a shame that there wasn't much in English so it was difficult to understand all the things they had on display. The weather wasn't that good so we only walked round for a couple of hours before heading back to the ship. The shuttle bus was waiting for us and we were back on board in time for lunch. The two days went very quickly and we did enjoy ourselves, the food is very good and we had a lovely evening in the Glass House where we tried a few of the wines. We also enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails both evenings as well as the chance to look round at the beautiful works of art they had in the gallery. Our cabin was clean and very comfortable, the towels were changed each time we seemed to leave the cabin. We also appreciated having a fridge and a kettle with tea and coffee available in the cabin. The choice of entertainment and different bars in the ship are able to accommodate everyone without making you feel you are in a large ship. We tried all the bars apart from the pub, although we did go to the casino which was busy and seemed a bit too complicated for us, we are not really big gamblers and might have bet a few pounds but the tables had minimum stakes, as did the slot machines. You had to use your cruise card and it was a minimum of £10 which put us off. Disembarkation was the usual hectic struggle to find somewhere to have breakfast, you have to be out of your cabin by 8.00 am and then wait to be called for disembarkation. If you want your luggage taken off by the porters you need to put your cases outside your cabin the night before but we only had small cases so decided to take them off ourselves. We left our cabin and ended up sitting outside by the pool as the restaurants were too busy. We had a relaxing time drinking coffee and doing a bit of people watching - something cruises are really good for. We weren't in a rush as we were getting picked up about 10.30 so didn't mind waiting around and once the restaurant started to thin out we got something to eat. Despite all the hiccups we still enjoyed this cruise, so much so that we are now booked for another short cruise in June on P@O's Aurora which is a new ship for us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Me and my sister's first time cruising, we were accompanied by my dad and step mum who had cruised before. My dad had chosen to drive down and use CPS parking which went smoothly, picking up the car at the end of the cruise was no ... Read More
Me and my sister's first time cruising, we were accompanied by my dad and step mum who had cruised before. My dad had chosen to drive down and use CPS parking which went smoothly, picking up the car at the end of the cruise was no trouble and it only took him 10 mins. We went to the Mayflower terminal to board Ventura. We arrived at 2pm which I'd say is the worst time to arrive. They had seating but it was all taken up at that time. We waited two hours in total before checking in and boarding which was seamless. First impressions of Ventura were excellent; finding our cabin was no trouble, they have ship plans and deck levels near the lifts to view for quick reference. I loved our cabin (C637) balcony cabin on Deck 10, it had loads of space for me and my sister, and the bathroom was a reasonable size although it rather reminded me of an airplane toilet but slightly larger. Our cabin just had the shower. Service onboard was excellent; in the buffet they always cleared the tables away quickly; in fact they will often take your tray away if you want to just have your plate on the table. In the main dining rooms the waiters were really good and professional despite them being busy sometimes. We always found the service a bit slower in the dining rooms though so if we needed to eat quickly we chose the buffet. We tried the Glass house, East and Beach house restaurants and service was excellent. Also all the staff including the cleaners always seemed to greet you with a smile. Our cabin steward Rajesh was really nice and our cabin always looked spic and span. I like their turn down and make up service too. On the whole, I enjoyed the excursions although we went on one tour which was advertised to give us some free time to wander around but the lady only gave us half an hour free which by that time we needed a drink and a snack which took nearly half an hour so it wasn't 'free time' in my opinion. Loved the entertainment on board, the headliners company really blew me away with their talents on the stage. Getting into the theatre early is a must on those nights they perform! There were quizzes daily, we took part in one or two. We watched a film in the arena but screen quality was bad as they had clearly just had the video image stretched out onto a bigger screen. Watching a film in the Havana club was slightly better as they used a smaller screen. There were some free films to view on the cabin tv which we took advantage of sometimes. If you want to watch your own without paying for the chargeable ones I recommend a portable dvd player or tablet with preloaded films. We didn't go to one port which happened to be the last one; Guernsey as we needed to go via tender and the water was too choppy by the pontoon. We had extra entertainment laid on instead which included an extra film to watch. Food - couldn't fault it and the same standard whether in the buffet or dining rooms. Can't understand why we get free pizzas but not free ice cream though. Disembarkation was smooth - we chose to disembark ourselves as we wanted to leave early with having a 5 hour trip home and apart from waiting for lifts carrying our own luggage we were off the ship in twenty minutes. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Never used P&O Cruises before apart from their ferries. We like Thomson Cruises and were looking for something that would be along those lines or better than. P & O Ventura did not dissapoint on our first cruise with her . ... Read More
Never used P&O Cruises before apart from their ferries. We like Thomson Cruises and were looking for something that would be along those lines or better than. P & O Ventura did not dissapoint on our first cruise with her . We had booked an inside cabin deck A and was upgraded to a obstructed viewbon E Deck and was impressed by the space,clean,modern room with a vey comfy double bed and very quiet with no motion when at sea . The room fridge came with two bottles of water free and our cabin steward Prakash was great in re-supplying our teas,coffee and biscuits everyday and he always had time to make sure we were ok and ask how our day had been . The bathroom was very modern and everything worked , nothing faulty and came with toiletries that seemed decent. Although the ship was full we never felt over crowded and seemed plenty of staff to go around . We never had to wait long apart from our one night in the Bay tree Restaraunt, which to us was painfully slow service . We were first in the queue and and shown to our table ,despite this we and the table next to us had to wait 25 minutes for a menu our own waiter even managed to serve starters to some of his other tables before he even came back to us and it got no better. We used the Beach House & Waterside self service for the rest of our cruise and the food was hot ,tasty and well presented a lot of dishes served in individual pots and dishes , to be honest we looked forward to eating in these places ,so did not use any of the pay to eat restaraunts. We never had problems finding a table to eat our meals at and the views from up there through the large windows were great. Going for a drink the Ventura gave us eleven bars and a show bar to choose from and the service was fast and friendly and the staff were not stuffy as we had read on other forums. Just our opinion but unlike Thomson who seem to encourage staff to stop and chat , P& O want customers to be served asap ,so they move to the next waiting customer rather than stop and chat. All the bar staff we spoke to were friendly and would spend the odd moment chatting but then would be off serving or off doing other bar duties. We found them to be ok. The Headliners show team put on two very good shows and had the advantage of a high tech theatre and lighting plus sound system compared to Thomson ships we had used . This is one of the places where Thomson win hands down as their show teams put on two shows as well but at least six nights per week , the crew even do a show in the theatre. Having said that we were happy with the shows we saw with P&O . The first day on Ventura , we were no sooner on board and were pounced on with the big sell .. Photo's ,Spa's and drinks packages but to be fair we said no thanks and never was bothered again . Keeping tabs on your spending was easy with the interactive TV giving you an up to date balance and the TV gave a lot more ,ships web cam , captains log and map plus loads of TV programs some pay per view but loads are free. The ship on our week had a good mixture of passenger ages and the ones we met were friendly and considerate to their fellow passengers and used the hand gels at meal times. The ship was very stable even in bad weather ,you had to look out of a window at times to remind you that the ship was moving ,the chances of being sea sick should you suffer from it must be very remote . The ship has a promenade deck with plenty of chairs should you wish a stroll or sit and watch the world go by or go up to the sun deck should you wish to lay on a lounger . Given the chance we will be back on the Ventura it's a good family /couples and singles ship and everyone seems to have a good time with plenty to do on board . I hope we sail on her again and soon . Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
After toying with other ships leaving Southampton which didn't have enough indoor space for cool climates, our last two cruises have been on sensible P&O ships with indoor pools with space for dining around them (our mistake last ... Read More
After toying with other ships leaving Southampton which didn't have enough indoor space for cool climates, our last two cruises have been on sensible P&O ships with indoor pools with space for dining around them (our mistake last year was to choose the massive Indy OTS for a short trip to Norway....this ship depends on Caribbean weather to make use of the splendid outdoor pools area, but it was virtually empty outside for the 8 days, and utterly crowded inside). Ventura is an old favourite of ours, and we came upon an absolute last minute booking, giving us a week to prepare...and an upgrade from inside to an obstructed outside. This cabin, E410, is one of the most obstructed on the ship, having the machinery for the life raft covering most of the window- but there was a view, and above all, there was daylight! The cabin was lovely- we've only found this beautiful welcome of a tea tray, a flower and a silver dish of sweets on P&O, and, yes, it does add to the experience! Sometimes we sail in a more luxurious cabin on other lines, and enjoy perks provided, but really we know we pay for them; the tea tray/sweeties is for all levels of cabins, along with the chocolate at the turn down service! For once, there were no new ports for us on this cruise; in fact, we did an almost similar cruise in November on Aurora, mainly hoping for a little warm weather. In Lisbon we took the tour to Estoril, having known many who holidayed there, and looking out for the railway station to take us there another time; bad weather meant missing Cadiz, which is a favourite with everyone, but we made up for that with a full day in Gibraltar, a most fascinating port....we used the local buses, which took us to the cable car for 75 pence, senior fare. Malaga is glorious, and Cartagena is another favourite; Casablanca less so, but at least you can take the shuttle bus to the big square and wander around - I found "Sorry, no money!" n helpful, and hoped that "Pas d'argent!" was the right French....it seemed to work, and I wasn't hassled. We love Madeira, and this time took a tour because we've not been into the island itself, only along the coast and into Funchal, before. A delightful trip. The ship feeling was, as ever, relaxed and friendly; super staff; excellent speakers; the Headliners tremendously well-rehearsed and polished. A lovely, happy, laid-back and interesting fortnight; next time on her will be the full 28 days to the Caribbean and back, in January. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We are platinum on Carnival. This is our 16th cruise. We took this cruise because we wanted to try a British Line. We had just come off a Transatlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. We stayed at wonderful small hotel in Southampton. ... Read More
We are platinum on Carnival. This is our 16th cruise. We took this cruise because we wanted to try a British Line. We had just come off a Transatlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. We stayed at wonderful small hotel in Southampton. The Blue Keys was really great. Our experience on embarkation was swift and courteous. Waited about 40 minutes to board. Took a cab from hotel to Ship probably no mote than 10 minutes. Cabin was ready by 2 pm. The cabin was really large its the biggest balcony we ever had. Took 3 shore excursions, two in Amsterdam one on the channel islands. Since my wife has trouble walking we did bus tours. All were good. Just wish we could have gotten on the tour of Ann Franks House. It was sold out way in advance. The entertainment was really good the 4 seasons Jersey Boys group was really good. Having seen the show in New York twice we can say that those men did a really fine job. We ate most of our meals in the main dining room food was OK not great but OK. Not much selection in the buffet. That's why we like the MDR. Disembarkation was quick and went well off the ship self assist by 7:30 am. We really enjoyed meeting many people all really nice. I believe that we were the only Americans on board. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We're just back from a 4 day mini cruise on P&O Ventura from Southampton to Bruges and Guernsey and have sailed with a variety of cruise lines but this was our first with P&O. Embarkation was swift and we were on board and sat ... Read More
We're just back from a 4 day mini cruise on P&O Ventura from Southampton to Bruges and Guernsey and have sailed with a variety of cruise lines but this was our first with P&O. Embarkation was swift and we were on board and sat relaxing in a bar within an hour of arriving at Southampton. I liked our cabin which was a mid ship balcony with great storage space, a good sized balcony and a powerful bathroom shower. It's worth noting that Ventura is a very stable ship and I barely felt any movement or motion at all. We chose freedom dining and ate in the Saffron restaurant on three nights with a birthday celebration in the speciality restaurant East on our first. We ate lunch on a few of the days in the Waterside buffet where a decent selection was let down by the enclosed and claustrophobic serving area. Rather frustratingly if you wanted burgers, pizzas or fries, you needed to head out of the buffet to the one of the pools. Not great when travelling with kids. I did like the a la carte breakfast served daily in Saffron where there was a great choice of food with changing daily specials. But generally I found the food on board a little disappointing. It just wasn't fine dining and the menu choices seemed limited in the evenings. Beyond the food, the entertainment was excellent with a great range of shows and something on in every bar. My particular favourites were the Havana Lounge, a Cuban themed show lounge and the Metropolitan Bar, a crows nest type of thing at the top of the ship. Drinks prices were very reasonable and it's an added bonus that P&O is one of the few cruise lines who don't limit the alcohol you can bring on board. For a mini cruise, the ports of call were well chosen and quaint. Bruges is ten minutes by train from Zebrugge and P&O were more than helpful in providing information of how to do this under your own steam rather than trying to sell you an excursion as many of the American ships will do. Guernsey was a tender port and getting us ashore was swift and efficient with a ticket system to disembark. We spent a few pleasant hours strolling St Peter Port and enjoying the sunshine in a beer garden terrace overlooking the ship. We enjoyed the cruise but four days just isn't long enough to explore a ship the size of Ventura; by the time I'd found my cruise legs we were heading down the gangway. There didn't seem to be the wow of a Royal Caribbean but it was fun to sail British and I've high hopes for our next P&O cruise which is on Britannia for Christmas and New Year in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We are pensioners and have cruised many times and many lines. We picked this cruise because it looked interesting and was a good price. Having cruised on the AZURA this ship held very few surprises for us as they are sisters. It is one of ... Read More
We are pensioners and have cruised many times and many lines. We picked this cruise because it looked interesting and was a good price. Having cruised on the AZURA this ship held very few surprises for us as they are sisters. It is one of the larger ships there was plenty to do and the entertainment staff were for the most part very friendly and soon made you feel at home. We had one of the cheapest balconies situated at the rear of the ship, the balcony was slightly larger than previous one we’ve had. When at sea there was quite a bit of noise from the wash which mostly disappeared when the door was shut and there was an occasional ‘shimmy’ when the autopilot made a correction both of these didn’t cause us to much of a problem. As is normal the room maid was efficient and very obliging and kept the room spotless. We had most of our dinners in the main dining room and found the service was impeccable, preferring not to dress up on holiday we had formal normal night dinners in the buffet which was also very good. Most nights we went to the theatre to see some excellent shows, although being non dancers and not a follower of ‘Strictly come dancing’ some of the dancing shows left us cold. I hear you say if you not keen on dancing why did you go on a ‘Strictly come dancing cruise’ because the cruise fitted our criteria. We also saw some very good acts in the ‘Havana’ lounge including some very good comedians. Having been on many cruises round the Med we did not both with excursions but rather settled for a stroll around the local town, most of these places had some interesting points in their favour . Although the Ventura and Azura are sisters we both thought that there was a better atmosphere on the Azura. One little niggle for us and several other passengers where the daily Sudoku and Crossword, on most of the previous cruises (and on many lines) the Sudoku and crossword were put out first thing to give you something to do while waiting for the activities to start, but on the Ventura they mad you wait until they had printed a newssheet and so didn’t appear until eleven o’clock and missed altogether when the hard working!!!! Librarian was given another job. We left England in cold weather but I’m glad to say it warmed up by the time we got to Gibraltar and was sunny all the way home, but we did suffer when we hit the Bay of Biscay the sea was very choppy and while some old salts laughed it off we did feed the fish, still it had cleared by the English channel and we arrived back to a warm sunny day. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise and although we had a fabulous time I would like to let others know some tips if you have never cruised before. We travelled on the P&O Ventura from Southampton and from the ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise and although we had a fabulous time I would like to let others know some tips if you have never cruised before. We travelled on the P&O Ventura from Southampton and from the start it was a very smooth operation and we were very impressed at the organised way it all started compared to the "cattle market" airports we were used to. Only one tip here - when you drive up to the terminal if you have booked car parking they are there waiting for you very efficient but make sure you unload your baggage quickly because as my husband went to look for a trolley to load our luggage onto a chap got into the car to drive it to the car parking - I was still trying to unload the luggage from the boot so be quick! Once inside the terminal all went extremely smoothly and very calming. Once on the boat you have to realise it is enormous and all the time you are bumping into people all looking as lost as you are! Even seasoned cruisers found the Ventura very large and hard to find your way around. The cabin we had was an outside cabin with balcony which was very nice. In fact the whole ship was very tastefully decorated but a bit on the tired side. First of all I will tell you all the positives which far outweigh the negatives and wouldn't want to put anyone off a cruise but just point out the little things we would have found helpful to know in advance. We had set dining - there are 2 times for this 6.30 or 8.30 we chose the latter and had a table for two which turned out to be the best on both counts. If you choose the earlier sitting be prepared to rush some days as the trips can run late but if you have children the earlier sitting is probably the best time. A table to for 2 is best because if you sit with others on a table for 6 or 8 you find you have to wait until the last person has finished their course before you are served the next course. We were told some funny stories from other seasoned cruisers about waiting for elderly passengers to finish chewing their steaks whilst the others on the table waited! the food itself is very, very good - 5 course dinners with very attentive waiters. You can opt for freedom dining but that is in the other restaurants where it is buffet style help yourself - very good food the same as the restaurants. There are other restaurants on board which you have to pay a supplement for - passengers highly recommended the Beach House food if you fancy a change. Be prepared for girls to come round every day all day to try and sell the other restaurants where you pay a supplement. It can become a little irritating. We decided not to go to the restaurant for waiter service for breakfast because again you have to sit anywhere and they will fill the big tables first and we found it easier to go to the buffet Waterside restaurant. Again the choice is massive. Men do need to wear long trousers in the evening in the restaurants. There are plenty of poolside loungers but some do reserve whilst they then go for breakfast but this didn't get too silly but the staff don't prevent it happening. They issue a daily newspaper the Horizon which will be delivered to your cabin during the evening and lets you know the dress code for the following evening and any information regarding the next day's port. It also lists the entertainment for the following day so that you can decide which bar you want to go to. This is a negative for the late 8.30 diners - by the time you have finished your meal and make your way to the various bars they are full and you have to sit where you can. The entertainment was very good and there is something for everyone of all ages. We were told because it was a "Strictly" cruise there were more younger people on board than usual on the cruise and in fact there were 7 weddings on board on our cruise. The service from the waiters at the poolside and restaurants and bars was excellent. Port and shore excursions were very good and the guides were excellent. A few tips here though. The P&O rep was very "school ma'am" with the passengers and there seemed to be a conflict of timings with her and what passengers were told in the Horizon paper and she would tell you off if you were too early! The organisation of the trips left a lot to be desired at some ports like Gibraltar and Monaco passengers were left in the very hot weather queuing up at the port to get back on board the ship. This was due to the fact other ships were in dock at the same time and all passengers from all ships were ferried through the same system so it can take hours. We found the excursions very good but a tip for Rome is men as well as women have to have their knees covered so wear long shorts and women have to have their shoulders covered if you are visiting the Sistine Chapel. It was an excellent excursion but a very long day in the heat and I would advise you to have a day off from any excursions the next day and just do your own thing. If you are a person who likes to go shopping make sure you don't do all the organised excursions because you don't get time to shop. Another tip is some of the ports have sightseeing buses which are a cheap and good way to get about if you don't want the expense of the organised trips. Cadiz is a very good port for shopping and very cheap. Hang on until you have done all the trips with regard to buying from the duty free shops on board - you can find cheaper alternatives particularly perfumes at the ports. You will also find they reduce things towards the end of the cruise so look out for bargains then. With regard to formal dining - 4 on a 2 week cruise are usually held on a sea day so that you have time to prepare. We did find though that on the other nights there were 2 themed nights we did not know about - one was a 60/70's night and the other a "tropical" night. So if you want to be prepared take an Hawaiian shirt with you! Be prepared to be sociable with fellow passengers because they are the best people to advise you on things you don't know. You will not get any advice from P&O. We had free on board spend with our cruise and other passengers said to decline the "tipping" deduction they make from your spends. It is better to tip your own waiter and steward as you see fit. We appreciated that advice because you would tip them on top of what P&O deducted from your account but don't do it just to avoid tipping at all! Other seasoned passengers told us they felt the Ventura was too big with over 3,000 passengers and even they kept getting lost. They preferred other smaller P&O ships. They also said they found the food, entertainment a higher standard than other lines and the drinks were cheaper than the American run cruise liners. The prices on the drinks is on a par with pub prices at home. They add 10% extra when you are in Spanish waters because the Spanish have their own taxing system! We had a couple of ports where a tender was used and this was the ships life boats which wasn't a problem for us but some of the elderly had issues so check if you have any disabilities that you can go ashore. To summarise we had a lovely time and would definitely cruise again. I do think however that P&O could make a bit more effort to help first time cruisers with information. On board they do a daily "solo" travellers tea and I completed a questionnaire on board and after the cruise to suggest they could hold a first/second day coffee morning for first time cruisers to give them advice and answer any questions they may have. It does come across that P&O are only interested in selling another cruise to their "regulars" with the discounts they get. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first adventure with P &O cruises having previously sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We liked the idea of sailing from Southampton and also not having to convert all our shipboard spend from ... Read More
This was our first adventure with P &O cruises having previously sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We liked the idea of sailing from Southampton and also not having to convert all our shipboard spend from Dollars to GBP so that was a major factor in the initial decision. Embarkation was awful; queues everywhere and it didn't matter what time you were listed to board, you just joined the massive queue and waited. The ship was due to sail at 4.30pm and it took until 4pm before we were all aboard. The two hours we spent waiting could have been improved with the offer of a glass of water as there really wasn't anything worthwhile on offer in the terminal. We later heard that the utter chaos had been caused by a computer failure earlier in the day and and assured by fellow passengers that it isn't normally that bad. The ship herself is absolutely stunning with plenty of indoor chill out space and lots of outdoor small terraces to sit and have a drink or enjoy the view. We chose an indoor cabin on deck 9, towards the aft of the ship on the starboard side. The room we had, D711, was very spacious with lots of lighting and mirrors which made the room feel warm and welcoming. We were pleasantly surprised with the ample wardrobe space with plenty of storage. The shower room was small but had everything you need including complementary toiletries. We especially liked the tea/coffee making facilities and the interactive services on the television where for example, you could choose a free film, find out what food theme was available that night in the Waterside buffet restaurants and most importantly, find out our itemised onboard spend. We had 'freedom dining' so could choose where and when we wanted to eat. The Saffron restaurant we were allocated was lovely, the staff were very helpful and the food was fantastic. I can't comment on those who have said P&O have dumbed down on ditching silver service and on the portion sizes but there was certainly ample choice and we never left the restaurant feeling anything less than happy and pleasantly stuffed. Although the food in the main restaurants was fabulous we wanted to try the various options available to us. There's a superb little bistro called the Beach House on deck 15 aft, it's part of the Waterside buffet during the day but is converted into an intimate venue for food in the evening. There is a small cover charge, £5 per person but this is well worth it. The food is American or Mexican by theme with the menu changing each week. The sort of food you can have here is Nachos or Caesar salad for starter, kebabs (chicken, meat, vegetable your choice) Mac and cheese, steak you cook yourself at your table on sizzling platters, or my favourite, spicey sizzler plates which are a bit like make you own fajitas. As for dessert, it's to die for, they serve the biggest portion size of chocolate fudge cake (2 slices with ice cream) I have ever seen. The banana bread and butter pudding with walnut ice cream is gorgeous. This is so good you'll want to try the following weeks menu too. Our favourite 'select' dining option was Atol Kutchars restaurant Sindhu. This is situated on deck 7 midship. This also had a small cover charge (£15 per person) but again was well worth the money. The food was amazing and was served silver service in beautiful surroundings. Although there were 3 main courses there were lots of little touches that made this an unforgettable experience. Prior to starters being served there were complementary mini popadoms and dips, followed by onion badgjis and following on from the meal we were served petit fours and chocolates with our coffee. In common with the other select dining options the menu here changes each wee of your cruise. The third select dining option we tried was the Glass House by Ollie Smith wine expert. This is the sort of venue where you can just turn up when you like either for lunch or dinner. There is a fairly extensive menu of food on offer priced by each course. The restaurant also does tasting menus where they pair food with several glasses of wine. This is very popular and costs £30. Since we are not great fans of wine we choose to try '3 small plates' each. These were a bit like tapas served in three individual plates that you choose from a list of about 10. We tried watermelon and feta salad, scotch egg with quail egg, chicken tenders, baba ganoush, garlic mushrooms and tempura prawns. The 3 plates cost £5.25 per set and we left feeling very full. The wine waiters were very knowledgeable and helped us choose something suitable from an extensive range. Wine could be bought as either a small or large glass or by the bottle with prices per bottle ranging from about £16.50 upwards. There is a further select dining called the Epicurean which is apparently a bit like the kind of food done by Heston Blumenthal but since we are vegetarian and this was mostly meat based we didn't try this venue. So what did we enjoy apart from the food? The entertainment was without doubt the best we have had at sea. There was a broad range of entertainment available in the main Arena theatre, ranging from musical extravagan Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Very enjoyable time on a short cruise to celebrate my Mother in law's 80th birthday. Bit of a wait to drop the car off but after that the embarkation process was very smooth and we were on board in time for a cup of tea and a cake ... Read More
Very enjoyable time on a short cruise to celebrate my Mother in law's 80th birthday. Bit of a wait to drop the car off but after that the embarkation process was very smooth and we were on board in time for a cup of tea and a cake before the safety drill. Our cabin was fine, on deck 5 near the art gallery and our steward was very efficient although we only saw him a couple of times. It is three years since we have cruised with P and O and we did think there had been a drop in quality of the food in the main dining room. Having said that, there was plenty to eat, my husband who is coeliac was well catered for with gluten free bread and cakes and choosing his dinner menu the night before. The black tie dinner was very good, delicious smoked salmon and lobster. Entertainment was good, we enjoyed the Headliners show and The Magnets an acapella group were superb. There were a few stag and hen parties on board but although noisy at times we didn't see any problems and there was a good buzzy atmosphere on the ship as everyone was making the most of their time on board. We didn't use the ships excursions as we prefer to do our own thing. Mum in law is not too mobile but we had a nice wander around Guernsey despite the hills and very much enjoyed a visit to Victor Hugo's house. We had a lovely morning in Blankenberge on Saturday. It was sunny,we had a long walk along the prom and a drink in a beach bar before heading back on board to enjoy the afternoon on deck and the swimming pools. I thought a three night cruise would be too short but we really enjoyed our time and managed to pack everything in that we wanted to. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
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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