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11 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean from Southampton

Looked into cruising a little, but always felt daunted by it. Took the plunge based on the rights dates and great last minute price. To give an idea of what type of travellers we are, We are a married couple, both 37, who enjoy good food ... Read More
Looked into cruising a little, but always felt daunted by it. Took the plunge based on the rights dates and great last minute price. To give an idea of what type of travellers we are, We are a married couple, both 37, who enjoy good food and wine, sightseeing and relaxing on holiday. We travel anywhere from traditional Spanish resorts, to Bali and Malaysia and skiing. Here's a list of what we thought. Travelling from and to Southampton was brilliant. There was a wait of around an hour to get on the ship, but so easy once checked in. We used the recommended car parking company and it was so simple, like meet and great. We chose self disembarkation. This is not really explained well, but basically means you leave before 8.45 in the morning. I.e. Before the hoards of people enter the massive luggage claim area to try and locate their luggage. Breakfast is best in the main restaurants, but only served to 9 on port days and 9.30 on sea days. The buffet is ok for breakfast, but of lower quality. I'd avoid the buffet at any other time, it's ok but there are so many better places. Not a lot was explained to you. Being a new cruising puts you in the minority. Thus, ask, read the horizon guide each night and explore the ship fully in your first day or so. We found food in the main restaurant bland other than on gala nights. They are catering for a mass market after all. It was very good, but needed seasoning, herbs, spices etc. The additional paid for restaurants are wonderful, and good value. Yes, you can eat for no extra cost, but for a feeling of going out for a meal, they are great. Service is quality and there is not the noise and bustle of a mass catering environment. The glass house is fabulous, a must try. They do wine flights, 3 x 125ml wines for around £10 or £11. Lots of different ones to try. The tapas plates are brilliant. Sihdu was also very good, with scallops and lobster on the menu. The beach house is a great American BBQ style, and excellent value. You get more generous portions in the paid for restaurants. Note, the glass house do a tasting menu with wine paring for £30 a head. This is something not advertised until the day before in the horizon magazine. However, all regular cruisers know about it, as they rush to reception to book as soon as they get on board. I don't blame them, but unfair of P and O not to advertise in advance so us new people can also get a chance to try. Other restaurants and events are easily booked on board, and some you can't book anyway. We never had a problem. Good tip, the glass house serves food till 10.30 ish, an hour after all other restauarants. There is so much entertainment, you have to pick what you want to do. Most is duplicated in the evening, at 8.30 and 10.30, which for us seemed too early to have finished dinner then go, and too late to always go after dinner. However, most things last 45 mins to an hour. Have a run around on the first night or two and work out what you like. We like live bands and music more than the shows, so planned accordingly. The live bands were very very good. There were two comedians on our cruise. One was brilliant, the other ( who has been doing the cruises since i was born) was awful, clearly the material is getting a little tired. Cabin (balcony) was bigger than I expected. However, it had a sense of the hospital room about it. Wiped down walls, plastic moulded work tops, bad pictures on the wall. The bed was comfy. The to was awful. News channel and that was it. Loads of films to watch but the to was so bad, the picture and sound was not good. There is free room service, which is good quality and fairly speedy to arrive. Shower is powerful. There is a full size bottle of white company shower gel attached to the wall, plus 100ml size of white company shampoo, conditioner and lotion. I'm sure you can ask for more if needed. The ship itself was impressive due to size. Some public areas were canteen like or reminded me of bars in Benidorm hotels. Other areas more elegant, such as the glass house, art gallery and metropolis bar. Something for everyone so you just find what you like. Getting on and off the ship was easy. We experienced a queue only when you had to use the shuttle bus, but it was only 20 minutes or so. Going from Southampton means you can take on drinks etc with you and keep in your fridge, just top up at each port. Drinks on board we brilliant. Extremely good wine list and all low prices, cheaper than in the uk. About £17 gets you a great bottle and most were in that region, rather than one or two then loads at higher prices. Cocktails about £5.50 to £6.50. The vast majority of men are in black bow tie for gala night. I dont think I saw a standard suit. However, there are areas you can dress casual ( the buffet). At other times though, this is not a posh ship. You get the odd one or two people who do dress up every night, but most people are casual or wearing what you'd expect for a normal meal out somewhere. Pools are all heated, which is fab. The two in the middle were usually busy and noisy. The adult only was closed the whole time we were on board, which is disappointing. There is a big mix of people. Apologies if I offend any regular visitors here, but I want to be honest. There are a lot of very old people, who would not look too out of place in a care home ( a cruise is cheaper), there are a lot of people who are less able (both medically and die to size), which could be due to being no fly. There were a few families and kids were all well behaved. Couples like us were in the minority, with most resembling our parents (daily mail in one hand, free glass of prossecco in the other). Spa treatments were good, but overpriced compared to uk, and come with a heavy sales pitch to buy products and Botox. Excursions were overpriced compared to what you get in port, but come with the safety net of not missing the ship. If the shuttle is paid for, generally means you don't need to use it unless you fall into one of the categories I've described above. I thought bingo and the race night were pricey ( no, not our usual sort of thing, but we'd thought we'd try it, especially with a last minute extra sea day due to rough weather). Every member of staff is brilliant. Genuinely helpful and happy. Not pushing for tips. Always there to offer you a drink or help, but not pushy. A real asset to P and O. Everything is cash free. You can even gamble and charge to your room ( dangerous). You cannot add tips on to any bill, so would need cash. That said, we saw zero people tipping. We decided to in the paid for restaurants though. The gym is large, but the equipment is not great quality. Runners were about usable. Cross trainers very light weight. It was also very hot! Overall, we loved visiting several cities we wouldn't have gone to otherwise in one holiday. It's wonderful to arrive in the port, go on a ( self organised) walking tour, stop for lunch, then hop back on the boat. Being on the ship was relaxing in itself, as you can't go anyway so just sit back and relax. The good and drink was excellent, which we like. The entertainment was great. People watching may not have been exactly what I was expecting, but it's good to know cruising is not always a stuck up affair. We will do a cruise again, and would use p and o and other similar lines. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was my first cruise, but my wife had cruised before when she was a young girl. At first site the ship is really impressive. The food was excellent and the quality of service in the restaurants was friendly and professional. The ... Read More
This was my first cruise, but my wife had cruised before when she was a young girl. At first site the ship is really impressive. The food was excellent and the quality of service in the restaurants was friendly and professional. The balcony cabin was very comfortable and extremely well maintained by the cabin steward, Edwin. Our towels were changed twice a day and there was very ample storage space. Our first day was rather spoilt by the staff in the spa area, who were rude when we wanted to view the special relaxation area and then when we were shown round the spa facilities, we were bombarded with a hard sell of the very expensive offerings. You have to pay to attend fitness classes. On the subject of paying, I would expect WiFi to be provided free in these circumstances, but in practice the package offered was extremely poor value. The quality of entertainment was generally very good. The headliners were very professional and some of the other acts were very entertaining. The ballroom dance instructors were excellent, but the area allocated for ballroom dancing is much too small. Surely this is one of the traditions of cruising? On this theme the facilities on the ship seem to be have deigned by an accountant and not an entertainment specialist. There are not enough seats in the theatre and other entertainments areas. (Or there are too many passengers!) There was a constant scrabble for seats. On deck near the Lagoon bar, the entertainment seemed to be designed for young people at Butlins, which did not represent the cross section of people on the cruise. Totally unsuitable music throughout, with very little classical, jazz or even Charleston period. They should pay more attention to their passengers and less to the personal preferences of the entertainment team. Unfortunately the cruise ended on a low note as a passenger was lost overboard and extra time was spent searching for him but to no avail. We will cruise again but not on this ship. They should reintroduce a more formal dress code and try to make things more upmarket. We may try one of the smaller P and O ships or else a different line with a greater focus on traditional values. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Great room, great staff, great food and seemed to be filled with really nice people sailing with us. Staff always reminding people to cleanse hands before entering buffet or retaurant and signs up in toilets, etc. Whole ship was ... Read More
Great room, great staff, great food and seemed to be filled with really nice people sailing with us. Staff always reminding people to cleanse hands before entering buffet or retaurant and signs up in toilets, etc. Whole ship was spotless and staff could be found washing hand rails and door knobs all through the day. We saw the man in charge of buffet, Beach Bar, etc, always patrolling. One day he went mad at staff because he found 1 chip on the floor....hig standards to be sure. Gripes: A lot of upselling, especially drinks waiters, they watch you and pounce! In fact they huddle when a place is quiet then it's a case of which one of them reaches you first...pack mentality! Often food is whipped away if you are up getting a cup of tea...never leave it unattended they are over efficient!! Children....not a problem BUT two nights running in the Havanna lounge, we wnet after 12. A lady kept leaving her children while she danced te night away, they children were aged 3-6. The poor kids were left to sleep on chairs, all unattended and the mother certainly was not watching them. We complained to the bar manager but he just kept saying @It's a family disco'. I pointed out the age of the children, the time of night and the fact that the mother was nowhere to be seen. Nothing was done about this. I ended up sitting watching the kids just in case........ Entertainment not too great but comedian Mark Walker is a must see. The pianist in the Red Bar was funny, friendly and skilled. All staff were very willing to help, always said 'Hi' as you passed them and were always smiling. Photos: Expensive and they don't always upload all the photos, a little disorganised in that sense. The cruise highlights are usually recorded but seems they didn't replace whoever does the recordings after he quit his job at the beginning of the cruise. That was a shame and definitely must have been a financial loss to P & O. We would definitley recommend this ship and the cruise itself. However, travellers should think twice before booking the organised trips as they are very expensive. We went ad hoc and used the taxis and buses at each port....saved a fortune and ended up seeing much more. We will definitely cruise again because it was so cost effective, you couldn't get a five star hotel, the food and service in each country for the price of a cruise. More to the point it makes it so easy to see each country without packing your bags and travelling to each location! Brilliant time had by all. Thanks to all on the Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed ... Read More
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed to front of terminal where our cases were loaded onto a trolley and whisked away, the car was then whisked away in the opposite direction Embarkation Very smooth and quick. Arrived at the Terminal at 12.10pm and we were in our cabin by 1.00pm. Airports could learn a thing or two. We went for a wander around the ship for about an hour and on returning to the cabin our cases had been delivered. We found our way around the ship pretty easily within first couple of days. If you get lost go to Deck 7 - as you can get anywhere from there. Cabin - we had a Superior Deluxe Balcony on Desk 9 Aft. Have to say I chose this location even though Mid cabins were available, as we were close to most things (All the restaurants are Aft, as is The White Room, Metropolis Bar and Havana. The cabin was a good size, perfectly fine for 2 Adults and a Tall Teenager, we could have had one more in fairly easily. Balcony on D desk is overlooked from above but tbh this did not bother us Good wardrobe space. Comfy beds Our Steward Diogo looked after us beautifully Food/Drinks I have to say it was excellent. I have a few negatives to comment on but they are because Daughter is a insulin dependant diabetic and a Coeliac so we are have additional needs to most. And P&O were streets ahead of most places on offering GF so I do not in anyway want to put people off, just to be aware there were a few areas which could still be improved on for those with special requirements Dinner was superb for her. We did Club Dining as I knew have the same waiters each night would be helpful for our daughter. Every night Sangay the head waiter would present our daughter with the menu for the following day, she was able to choose ANYTHING* from the menu and it was adapted to be suitable for her to eat. And they bought her freshly baked GF rolls every night * - they could not however offer GF pasta which I thought was very strange as this is one of the easiest alternatives to offer Breakfast plenty of fruit, eggs, bacon, has browns and Gluten Free Bread. Small negative here were no Gluten Free Cereal on offer at all, it would also have been nice to see some GF sausages. You could however arrange GF pancakes with your waiter the night before. And for those Gluten eaters there were waffles etc on offer too We ate in the Bay Tree most mornings - as was nice to be relaxed with Table service, we generally got a table for 3, but on one occasion we were asked to join another party of 3 on a larger table, we had no issue with this but the woman at the table was so do rude about having to share a table that we asked to be moved. We also did the buffet a few mornings and that was fine Lunch A little more problematic, although the chef would always take us through what she could or could not have from the Buffet but it was limited, and they did make sure there was a GF dessert should she want one. Afternoon Tea - pretty much a No No, do not get me wrong it was lovely. Lots of little cakes, fresh scones etc. But almost nothing she could have at all. They have an on board bakery so a selection of GF cakes/scones would have been nice It could also be a little difficult getting a table for Lunch/Afternoon Tea, the use both Waterside and The Beach restaurants but it got confusing as they seem to close one half of the each restaurant at different points so you'd switch back and forth. Pizza/Burger/Hotdog Bar at the Laguna Pool - nothing suitable in GF The White Room - had a beautiful meal here. We only heard good things from everyone else who ate there as well. for the GF they just asked us to go up the following day and pick her meal, which was excellent. But be warned it gets booked v v quickly. None of the above was a huge issue, she always found something. But still some improvements could be made Drinks packages are a good idea for the kids. We paid £42.50 upfront for a drinks/ice cream card which entitled us to 20 (Large) soft drinks and 20 ice creams. We should also have got a free drinks bottle - but not one of the bars seem to have them, small issue but would have be nice for them to actually stock the bottles Alcohol - found this to be on par with most pubs here at home. Small Tip, buy a separate coke/lemonade for your mixer and just order your spirit, worked out better value as the soft drinks are in large glasses, where the mixer is a small can.We are not big drinkers but P&O do allow you to take some alcohol on board. We took a bottle of Malt and a few beers to enjoy on the balcony. Ports of call As mentioned our crossings was quite rough, with a few people suffering seaksickness - we took tablets each day and seemed to be OK though We did not do any excursions as we'd already researched and knew we could easily get into the towns from Port. However, we did not stop at Oporto because of bad weather - again did not spoil cruise as we spent day at Sea where the weather was lovely Entertainment In the main very good. One comedian who was not to my taste. But very good singers - Jayne Curry particularly excellent. Phil Collins Tribute, Rob Lewis also excellent. And a young man singing Big band hits/swing who again was excellent. Headliners, the on board company, did an excellent show Bars - you have a choice of everything from a "pub" - The Exchange. To the Bar Metropolis on Deck 19 (our personal favorite) Kids - very very well catered for. Over 700 on board and it never seemed like it. Did not see my Teen much at all, she went to Teen club on first night. made friends and was off. Great for me with my daughters medical needs, was they gave us a pager so that if she needed attention, they were able to contact us easily. Yes there were some kids being "badly behaved" But you get this everywhere and remember this is a family ship - noone should be complaining about children being on board. If you do not want kids around then go out of School Holidays, or to one of the Adult only ships Dress Codes - in the main this was adhered to. Was lovely to see the vast majority of people in their formal wear for the 2 nights - even most of the children. There were a few who chose not to follow the dress code, which was fine, but they stuck out more and were unable to use some of the bars that night. Staff for me these were the Highlight of the cruise. Kat, Rob and Jamie from the entertainment team were excellent Diogo our Steward was also excellent Prodip and Sangay our head waiters - simply superb Sohail and Arun our dinner waiters, were simply outstanding And Godip our wine waiter was just the best. A lot of the staff are employed out of Mumbai or Goa and they could totally teach staff in the UK a think or two about service with a smile. They work incredibly long hours, and yet still always found the time to be pleasant. The other Negative was I booked this cruise as Marco Pierre White was supposed to be on board to do some talks. Well he never turned up, and despite repeatedly asking, no-one could explain why. In fact most staff seemed to be oblivious to the fact he was supposed to be on board - so for me this was very very disappointing. We were however lucky enough to have Rachel Allen the well known Irish cook/baker on board. She gave a lovely talk, and also signed copies of her book for us all So I really enjoyed by first cruise, would any of the negatives stop me returning... No.......... I just would not booked a cruise to see M.P.W. again !! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We stayed overnight the Premier Inn at Southampton. On Sunday morning we went down to the docks and had the first site of the Ventura which seemed absolutely enormous. We were immediately directed to an area where our car was booked in and ... Read More
We stayed overnight the Premier Inn at Southampton. On Sunday morning we went down to the docks and had the first site of the Ventura which seemed absolutely enormous. We were immediately directed to an area where our car was booked in and the luggage taken by a porter, after the car keys were handed over the car was taken by CPS to a secure car park. We entered the embarkation lounge and we were given a card with a letter K and sat down to wait our turn which soon came then after booking in and having our photo taken we joined the queue to board the ship and were soon eating a lovely buffet lunch on board while waiting for our cabins to be ready. The call soon came to say they were ready and we went off to find it and were pleasantly surprised to see our luggage already inside and waiting for us. We had cabin C609 which was midships and had a balcony. The cabin was very clean but a little smaller than we imagined. The balconies on C deck are larger than the others and there was plenty of room to stretch on the two reclining chairs with footstools. The ship is enormous and we did get lost several times whilst on board but handily we had been given a map of the ship along with our cruise card which is used to pay for all goods and services on board along with being our cabin key. We mainly dined in the freedom restaurant on board which was Cinnamon and found the food to be excellent every time. We aren't used to dining in posh restaurants and didn't know if we would like it but we were soon put at ease. We asked the maitre d' for a table for two and he gave us a lovely table which we asked for every night and after a couple of days he remembered us and happily waved us straight to our preferred table. We did notice that some tables for two were on bench seats which were a little low so we were glad we hadn't been shown to one of them. Freedom dining is just that, you can choose the time you want to eat but we went more or less the same time every night. The waiters were very friendly and eager to please and make sure we had everything we wanted. A particular mention goes to our wine waiter Neil and food waiters Dominic and Sachin they were absolutely marvellous we can't praise them enough. Even though we had £40 each deducted for tips we gladly gave them an envelope each with a little extra to show our gratitude. The service in the restaurant was like a well oiled machine plenty of staff on duty all had their particular jobs and knew exactly what to do and the service was very quick. We went to the Ramblas Spanish restaurant one night and paid a supplement but were a little disappointed by the meal so didn't go back, we also went to the Beach House restaurant which is waiter service at night with a more traditional menu and although it was ok we missed the fine food in the main dining room. There were 4 formal nights which most people observed the rest were smart casual with a couple of themed nights. i.e. Black and white and Tropical. For breakfast and lunch we mainly used the buffet restaurant which was fine and we always managed to find a table. On a few occasions we ordered continental breakfast for our cabin to have on the balcony which was nice, we also had snacks a couple of times from room service and it was always good. We noticed in the buffet that there were always plenty of staff on duty and they were very busy clearing tables immediately they became vacant and keeping things generally clean and tidy. Our cabin steward was friendly and when asked if we could have ice and lemon she brought us some every day. The cabin was kept really nice and tidy as she came in twice a day to make beds and clean etc. We spent a lot of time sunbathing on deck and could generally find a sunbed although not always right beside the pool but that wasn't a problem. There are four pools on board with bars and the waiters will bring drinks to you at your sunbed while you relax. The bars on board are all waiter service but there are plenty of waiters around and we never had long to wait for a drink. We went to a few shows in the various venues, all of which were very good especially the musicals. The shore excursions were again very well organised and very enjoyable with local guides who always managed to make it enjoyable. The end of the holiday came all too soon and the disembarkation was as smooth as the embarkation, we had a card with a time when we could embark this was done with the minimum of effort and we wondered how on earth we would find our luggage amongst that of 3,000 other passengers but again P&O had obviously done it all before and the luggage was put in deck order so we just had to find the luggage from deck C and there it was waiting for us. Overall the cruise was marvellous, we would love to go again and wouldn't hesitate to use P&O and recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
From the minute we stepped on the Eavesway coach from Preston we experienced first class service! The staff on Ventura were absolutely fantastic ALWAYS happy, polite, efficient and eager to be of service, such a refreshing change from the ... Read More
From the minute we stepped on the Eavesway coach from Preston we experienced first class service! The staff on Ventura were absolutely fantastic ALWAYS happy, polite, efficient and eager to be of service, such a refreshing change from the usual British service! Our cabin was spotless, and perfectly adequate, our cabin steward John made sure it remained so throughout our cruise. We opted for Freedom dining which meant that we sat with different people each meal, this was perfect for us and we had the pleasure of meeting lots of very nice and interesting people. The food was always beautifully presented, there was always a good choice of menu and it was always delicious! The only real criticism was the price of ordinary lager. The only draught lager was Stella Artois which my husband dislikes and so he had to settle for cans of lager which proved very expensive.....a 330ml can of carlsberg cost £3.50...that meant a pint cost £7.00 which was really quite outrageous when compared to Stella which cost half of that! The wines were nice, I drank Bili Bili Shiraz which was lovely and cost £17.95 per bottle, which is probably comparable to British restaurant prices. The entertainment on offer was very good, and the cinema offered some excellent films on the days we were at sea. We didn't use the pools because the weather wasn't brilliant but there was always plenty to do so that was no great hardship. Apparently there were about 700 children on board but the kids clubs must have been excellent because it never felt as if there were many children on board.....and those that we saw were very well behaved! Of the places we visited, our favourites were Monte Carlo and Barcelona. I had looked forward to our tour of the Vatican on Easter Saturday but unfortunately it was so busy and overcrowded we were just pushed along with the crowds and not allowed to stop and browse the beautiful art work.....there was actually no enjoyment, it was all just too uncomfortable! I think most passengers were surprised and disappointed that our stopover in Cadiz was suddenly changed to Gibralter.....we're still not sure about why the decision was made...apparently it had something to do with paying VAT if we did not visit a non EU country ???? All in all we had a fantastic time on the beautiful Ventura, and despite the few negative comments, we really loved our time on the cruise and will certainly be cruising with P&O again....in fact we have already paid our deposit! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Travelled by car to Southampton and found CPS car parking efficient and easy.Long queues for embarkation but we were on the ship within an hour and half of our allocated time. Whilst waiting in line for security we were accosted by ... Read More
Travelled by car to Southampton and found CPS car parking efficient and easy.Long queues for embarkation but we were on the ship within an hour and half of our allocated time. Whilst waiting in line for security we were accosted by photographers wanting to take photos of us on embarkation; this was to be a theme on Ventura - photographers were everywhere - on disembarkation at every port, in every bar/club, even each meal time they would pounce on you. This was annoying and oppressive, particularly since the photos were selling at £5.95 for a small one. Nobody we met on the cruise actually purchased any. Fair enough having photographers available but allow us to make the decision as to whether or not we wish to use their services. The cabin was well presented and spacious and we were quite happy with it, until one night the balcony door (a heavy glass door) actually came off its runners in my hand as I was trying to open it. My partner was asleep and the sea was choppy, so he couldn't hear me calling him for about 10 minutes and I had to stand there holding this huge door to prevent it from dropping onto the floor or blowing overboard and taking me with it. This could have caused a serious accident. We called reception and they sent the housekeeper to our room, who managed to put the door back in with our help, but it wouldn't close; we had the rest of the night with a howling gale blowing through the cabin - mainatanence men don't work out of hours!! The cabin had a fridge and tea making facilities which were replenished frequently, and the room service was good value with a wide range to choose from (when you could actually get them to answer the phone). The first port of call was Barcelona and we were sitting on the balcony waiting for our excursion time. Enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we were suddenly drenched with a high powered hose pipe from the bridge; the crew were cleaning the floors and underside of the floors directly above our balcony. To say we were soaked is an understatement; our breakfast was floating, guide books were ruined and the camera had a lucky escape. We complained about this and were told that the crew only cleaned on port days when most passengers were off the boat. However a good many of us were still on the boat and we could be seen from above where the cleaning was going on, had anyone bothered to check. We got a gruding apology and were made to feel as though we were causing trouble. The manager said that we had to produce any ruined items so that they could consider what they "may be able to do about them". After making a fuss (mainly becuause of the need to forcibly extract an apology)we did get a bottle of duty free wine. We unfortunately had further cause to complain when trying to access the internet. P&O charge 50p a minute, or you can buy an hour for £35.00. This is daylight robbery and is certainly one factor that will prevent us going with P&O again. We run a business and left 7 children at home, so making contact with home is crucial to us. But the annoyancy didn't end there! We went to sign up for an account only to find that we had to pay £2.50 to even register. Reluctantly we had to do this, however, half way through a one line email the system crashed and I had to start again. one email cost me over £7.00 and on arriving home, I discover that my email did not even get sent. They do advertise that the connection will be slow, but slow doesn't even begin to describe it. Absolute rip off. We complained about the system crashing and as a goodwill gesture, they knocked £2.00 off the total cost. Outrageous. The TV in the cabin was poor, only channels really were news and P&O spin channels. There were some films available at a cost of £5.95 each. We luckily had our laptop with us and a selection of films - top tip for anyone about to sail as days at sea can be long. The cinema had a daily showing whne at sea, but the films were not new films and we had seen them all before. P&O could at least have put on some current films and more than one showing (usually 1pm. The entertainment overall was a washout; we were really disappointed and after a few days we didnt' even bother to go. It was second rate and I would say not even Butlins standards. The activities similarly were not worth bothering with, nor the talks, unless you were interested in cars, flying or back pain. There was no atmosphere at night - only one party type evening on the top deck on the saturday night, which seemed to be mostly crew letting their hair down. Nothing at all on the last night and the bars were sedate and disappointing. We had been looking forward to a disco onboard but nothing we encountered could be described as a disco really. Meals were overall quite good; but we were restriced to the same restaurant each night at 8.45, which didn't always suite us. We could have used the buffet if we didn't want a sit down meal, or paid to dine in one of the paying outlets, but we had been warned off doing this by other passengers as not good value for money. The wine onboard was expensive and although you could take your own, there was a £10.00 corkage fee. It did feel to us as though we were being accosted at every turn for more money; we would have preferred to have paid more up front than having to keep shelling out for extras. For example, bottled water for the excursions - £4.95 for two small bottles. This isn't a very honest way - lure the passangers on with the hype and spin and then rip them off in whichever way you can. The excursions were variable in quality; we went on a bike tour of Barcelona, which was excellent and we had a super guide. Really would recommend that - not strenuous at all but a great way to see the city. We then did the 'easy Nice' tour - what a joke!! 68 Euros for a lift into town basically!! The guide was a silly, giggly woman who told the coach her life story and even pointed out where she lived. She then told the group to follow her hat as she steamed ahead, only to take her hat off in the crowds so nobdoy could see her. The worst of it though, was when we came to some steps down into the old town - the guide had vanished off into the distance and we were left to help 2 wheelchair users down the steps - they were elderly and if we hadn't been lagging behind the group, they wouldn't even have had our help. You would have thought that the guide would take note of this and choose a route without steps that was suitable for all passengers - disgusting. We left the group and go the bus to Monte Carlo for 1 Euro - and back again almost right to the port. Avoid this tour!! Gibraltar excursions were all sodl out by the time we tried to book, but in the event there were a number of tour guides on the quayside selling tours for half the price that P&O were charging. These tours included twice as much as the P&O one, and was very good. Don't bother booking with P&O as again, a rip off.They were running seperate tours for each attraction, whereas the one we took covered all of them for 25 Euros. Overall, we did have a really good time with enforced rest and nothing really to have to think about. We will definately go on another cruise but not with P&O - it was a real let down. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our first cruise after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with ... Read More
This was our first cruise after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with P&Oafter seeing an advert in the newspaper severalweeks earlier and getting what we felt was a very good deal. Before travelling we were in two minds after reading the many reviews some of which were and are very damning. We wished we had booked a ship that catered for adults after reading about Chavs and children but at least we were outside main school holiday periods (exc Scotland). We stayed o/n in Southampton and woke up to beautiful weather on departure Saturday. The whole embarkation process was first class, much less stressful than flying and by mid day we wer sitting on deck enjoying a drink and light lunch. We had been allocated an inside cabin at random. This turned out to be at the rear of the ship. we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cabin which afforded us everything we needed and was very well looked after by our cabin steward Priyal consistently. no complaints at all. Our cases appeared outside our room swiftly with no issues. Throughout our trip we found the standard of cleanliness around the ship excellent. Of course from time to time there were dishes and glasses on tables but we found these generally to be cleared away quickly, certainly as quick as in pubs etc at home and similarly the restaurant dishes were removed promptly. Having familiarised ourselves with the ship in early days we found the decks to be easily accessible and although it has to be said the crowded nature of the main swimming pools was not to our liking (sunbeds generally unavailable) we did find that in the adults area at the front of the ship we could generally find a place to sunbathe without reserving beds with towels at all. Quite often we sat on deck 7 (the only deck that circumnavigates the ship)and found occasional joggers and walkers no problem and certainly no bumping and banging as reported elsewhere. We did attend the Gym which we found to be excellent and with equipment of a high standard. we joined up for the spa area at the beginning of our cruise but at £90 found this to be poor value as we hardly used the facility. Similarly we had a massage treatment which, whilst good, was quite expensive. It was only the Scottish kids on the cruise (perhaps we would avoid Scottish school holidays too) but generally if you accept that Children will be children we had no problems. The food was a real success. We ate in The Bayleaf Restaurant on a table for 2 second sitting. The food and service was superd throughout. For breakfast we chose to eat in one of the main service restaurants as the buffet style restaurants tended to get crowded at peak times with free tables at a premium. that didnt suit us although when we did eat there the food was again excellent. we upgraded twice to the White Romm for dinner and found the experience excellent value for money. We were very surprised by the drinks. English pub prices were the norm so no rip off there. A great selection of bars for every taste and as with all areas of the ship we found staff very efficient cheerful and customer friendly. Much better than our normal experience at home. We found the dress code to be part of the experience and enjoyed the formal nights very much. Everybody seemed to adhere to it and in fairness, being a keen football fan myself, I saw hardly any football shirts during the day (I can remember one Burnly shirt on an adult and maybe a Leeds one) apart from the kids who you expect to wear them. Overall our fellow holidaymakers left a very good impression which is some feat with over 3000 strangers sharing the facilities for 2 weeks. We only partook of one trip-the trip to florence which we found to be good and very informative although the heat in July was oppressive. The rest of the time we ventured out ourselves. The Monaco excursion was difficult as it took us soom time to get off the ship but we understand the cause to be a combination of the rough bay and busy nature of the port, something that is perhaps outside P&O control. The queue to get back to the ship in mid afternoon was horrendous and with no shelter but we merely walked the short distance to a bar, cooled down with a drink or two and returned when the queue was merely 10 deep! We were disappointed not to get to Gibralter but there is plenty of free entertainment available on the ship that we were able to take advantage of. The activities/entertainment on the ship were varied and we enjoyed the organisation of it all. Communication was excellent with the daily newsletter alerting in advance of the following days activities. Having had some reservations before we went we found a lot of the negative comment to be untrue on our cruise. We both thoroughly enjoyed it as did everyone we spoke to, some of whom had travelled on The Ventura before. We will certainly travel with P&O again and it probably wont be on the Ventura purely because we will want to try another ship. We started with a clean slate and open mind and had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We got to Southampton dock and were put into a queue then directed to the unloading area the luggage was taken from us and that was the last we saw of it until it was outside our cabin.The booking in was a bit of a wait but then with over ... Read More
We got to Southampton dock and were put into a queue then directed to the unloading area the luggage was taken from us and that was the last we saw of it until it was outside our cabin.The booking in was a bit of a wait but then with over 3,000 passengers it takes time.The Cabin with balcony was a good size plenty of hanging space and the balcony had a couple of lounge type chairs and a foot rest with a small table included.We found the inside chair were a bit uncomfortable and mostly sat on the bed. The cabin was clean and serviced daily by a very hard working cabin boy. A brass band played us away from the dock side at Southampton which was a great touch.The food on the ship was first class we were in the Bay tree area my wife was having trouble in ordering from the menu as there were a lot of things made with onions which she does not like eating but myself enjoyed the meals but we decided to eat in the waterside as she had a better choice to pick from.I must say the entertainment was first class they have just updated the shows with a Company called the Headliners they were first class and the costumes were out of this world.They had a singer Victor Micheal who sang a lot of Opera which was sung very well ( all though I never understood a word) you had to marvel at his voice.The ship also had a couple of very interesting series of talks on Concord and Bletchley park ww 2 code breakers as well as Norman Hunter giving a after Dinner talk which I enjoyed.There were things going on all over the ship so you should never be bored.The trips were a bit expensive but well conducted, but a Bus Shuttle service was on hand to get you to the town centre which was free.I have a mobility scooter and they helped me on and off the ship and ran spacial buses to carry the scooter on.On the down side they were trying to sell you something most of the time which was a bit annoying I was not very happy with the charge of their WI FI at £30 for a 100 min which was a rip off I and others never bothered with it which was a pity.I had a stomach upset and dehydrated and spent a day in the sick bay which cost nearly £900 so make sure you got a good insurance policy.Over all it was a great experience on a great ship and we would go back tomorrow like a shot. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
First of all let me say that the negative reviews we have read nearly put us off booking the ventura, thank goodness we didn't listen to the doom mongers! From arriving at the terminal to eating lunch at the waterside was 45 ... Read More
First of all let me say that the negative reviews we have read nearly put us off booking the ventura, thank goodness we didn't listen to the doom mongers! From arriving at the terminal to eating lunch at the waterside was 45 minutes. 30 Minutes later our cabin A309 was ready, all our luggage arrived 30 minutes later. Our balcony cabin was surprisingly spacious and there was lots of storage for all of our clothes and three large suitcases plus 2 carry on bags etc.. We had a table for 8 late sitting and all of our dining companions were lovely, we used to spend our evenings all together as the week went on. The food was good, the waiters were attentive and the wine list was surprisingly good. A decent bottle could be had for £17, dessert wine £9. Had the internet package in the cabin 250 minutes plus 30 free for £65. The ship was full and apparently there were 700+ children on board, however we never really noticed the ship was full and we didn't see many children milling about and the ones we did see were very sweet and polite, so P&O kids clubs must be good. Didn't have too much trouble finding a sun bed, although around the pool area was very busy and had we wanted to sit there I think we would have to get there early. We took two trips to Florence and Rome, we enjoyed both and thought they were reasonably priced. The only complaint we have was the attitude of one miserable old bloke on the last day as we we self disembarked we were directed to the queue by the crew and told to join the queue towards the front of the ship and the miserable old boy decided we were pushing in and tried to start an argument, you know the type the same ones that think it is OK to push their way to the front of the lifts, however we had had such a good time we just laughed at him and let it go over our heads.. For anyone thinking twice about booking Ventura because of the negative reviews, don't worry and book asap. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
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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