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279 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

How many times have you heard 'you'll be fine' - 'you'll not really be alone' and inside you are dreading people finding out that you are travelling on you own. It took me a couple of years to find out that ... Read More
How many times have you heard 'you'll be fine' - 'you'll not really be alone' and inside you are dreading people finding out that you are travelling on you own. It took me a couple of years to find out that it's not so bad especially when you cruise. The Ventura sailed from Southampton so no flying and just a short journey with a very heavy case I boarded ship. From the time I boarded I felt a huge sense of freedom - so much to do and see and you had the choice to do it all or do nothing. It was a last minute decision so no excursions had been arranged but I had time to decide where I went and what I did and after speaking to people about their experiences I made better choices. I visited six places that you'd never be able to do in two weeks, met some very interesting people, had so much choice of food I was never hungry. I was allocated a table of 10 people all of whom were older than me but each evening we'd come together and share the days events or recommend trips etc. I had the choice of joining them or doing my own thing. The staff were brilliant - courteous and efficient. I had a great time, relaxed on the sunny deck, visited loads of lovely places, tried lots of different foods and felt recharged. The schedule of activities were varied and I was grateful that there was a news letter containing the next days events as I used this to plan my next day. A real voyage of discovery for me in more ways than one. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My wife and I selected the P&O Ventura as a first cruise as the round trip to Lisbon was only for 7 days and we felt we could put up with this whatever it was like. Before booking the cruise our main concerns were would there be ... Read More
My wife and I selected the P&O Ventura as a first cruise as the round trip to Lisbon was only for 7 days and we felt we could put up with this whatever it was like. Before booking the cruise our main concerns were would there be endless queues as upwards of 3,000 passengers could be milling around. (3,400 on our trip). Embarkation at Southampton took about 40 mins from dropping the car. We arrived spot on our allocated time of 12.30pm and were surprised to see how busy the terminal was already - virtually standing room only. There were about 20 embarkation pass groups in front of us but as mentioned it took about 40 mins. We had a balcony cabin on B deck amidships on the port side. One day we had 8 foot waves (moderate apparently) but very little movement in our cabin or indeed of the ship. When docked we rarely had the sunny-side so if you want to sit on your balcony in the sun I would recommend starboard for this schedule. Never had to wait more than a minute or so for a lift except when the theatre (900 people) turned out. Easy to get seat/lounger outside. We opted for fixed, first sitting dining and the service and food choice was excellent in the Cinnamon restaurant. We shared a table for six and the other couples were of similar age (late fifties)and we got on together fine. One other main reason for opting for a cruise was that my wife had recently been diagnosed with Coeliacs (gluten intolerance). We normally take city breaks and the thought of asking for gluten free food in non-English speaking countries was a bit daunting. Every evening the head waiter brought the next day's menus to my wife (lunch and dinner) and helped her choose. Apparently we could have got the ordered meals anywhere on the ship the next day just by quoting our table number. In fact my wife was able to make her own choices from the extensive buffet in the Waterside restaurant. On a couple of occasions when returning from trips in port, we went for the afternoon tea and the staff were able to supply suitable cakes, biscuits and sandwiches almost immediately on request. Seating for breakfast and lunch in the Cinnamon restaurant was arranged by filling tables as people arrived. Therefore different every day. Everybody seemed very easy to talk to and friendly and were a spectrum of ages and cruise experience. Plenty of first timers for the same reason as us eg short trip as a taster. All were pleasantly surprised and would do it again. We used various bars and the Arena theatre for three of the Ventura company musical productions. Good standard and very popular. We were seated about 30 mins before start of 9.00 performance and theatre probably good as full 10 mins later. Also saw the Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox tribute acts in the Havana club which were also entertaining. Very good drinks service - either get it yourself or from roaming waiters (pub prices). Disembarkation was again problem free. We were given a 10.15 slot to leave by the random allocation system (8.45 earliest) but in fact got off 30 mins ahead of schedule. Overall, we really enjoyed our first cruise and the ease of getting an excellent choice of gluten free dining was a brilliant addition. We would certainly go again but probably only consider the larger vessels so that there is the same level of dining choice and entertainment we would now wish for.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our first cruise and we were just amazed when we pulled up at the dock and seen Ventura, she is huge. Our luggage was taken off us and we proceeded to check-in. Once all the formalities of check-in and security were over we ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were just amazed when we pulled up at the dock and seen Ventura, she is huge. Our luggage was taken off us and we proceeded to check-in. Once all the formalities of check-in and security were over we proceeded to board. We all looked in amazement when we entered Ventura. We were shown to our cabins and our luggage was there waiting and our cabin steward introduced himself. Our cruise was for 7 nights and what a 7 night cruise we had it was fantastic. The staff were friendly and efficient, they did an outstanding job. The food was amazing with a choice of self service restaurants to club dining (which we did). As for things to do on board there was so much from the swimming pools to the numerous quizez to shows and more. The only thing i would have to complain about is some of the other passengers (mainly ones who had been on cruises before)all they did was moan, they were rude to staff and passengers alike complaining the service was slow, the food wasn't good, all i can say is absolute rubbish. We enjoyed cruising with P&O and the Ventura (what an amazing ship)so much that we are already booking for next year. Thank you for a wonderful holiday Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
P & O V E N T U R A CRUISE 15TH - 22ND MAY 2010 Saturday 15th May - Southampton - Hampshire - England Partly Cloudy Westerly Force 2 Temp. 59 degrees F Smart Casual Best of British buffet After parking at Southampton ... Read More
P & O V E N T U R A CRUISE 15TH - 22ND MAY 2010 Saturday 15th May - Southampton - Hampshire - England Partly Cloudy Westerly Force 2 Temp. 59 degrees F Smart Casual Best of British buffet After parking at Southampton Airport, we shared a taxi with a French couple Cruising on QM2 to New York. Firstly, the taxi driver took us to the QM2 Terminal (decorated with flags), then to the Ocean Terminal. The cases were promptly placed on the conveyor and we boarded the escalator to the top floor. Embarkation was straightforward after showing passports, paperwork and registering debit card. Soon on board and Dave and I were given a free massage in the Atrium. Our cabin (A416) Australia Deck was really spacious with walk in wardrobe, tea/coffee facilities, pamper pack, and good quality bed linen. Lunch was served in the Waterside Restaurant with a grand view of the harbour. After lunch, quickly unpacked and explored the ship. Lifeboat drill was held at 4 p.m. We sailed at 4.30 p.m. and Keith was with his friends on the beach at Warsash complete with foghorns, so able to speak on mobile. There was a sailaway party and the Salvation Army played on the quayside (a bit mournful!). Had a pimms. With all pre departure checks complete, clearance was granted and the Captain (Julian Burgess) made his departure broadcast. Ventura let go all her lines and moved off berth. She then proceeded down Southampton Water, slowing down at Fawley Oil Terminal before making the two turns, first at Calshot Spit and the other at Brambles Bank. Once complete an easterly course was set along the Eastern Solent. Ventura disembarked her local pilot at 19.02 and once clear of the Nab Tower, she was altered onto a south westerly course through the English Channel. We then went to the spa for the raffle. Had a pre dinner drink in the Metropolis Bar - with virtual wall displays of major cities - tonight London. Dinner was 2nd sitting at 8.30 p.m. (Saffron). Casual. We should have been on a table for 6 but only two others arrived throughout the cruise, a couple from Boston, Lincs. Our waiters were excellent throughout. After dinner, The Arena Theatre - Cruise Director's introductions (Leon de ste. Croix), followed by John Lenahan (magician). Other venues were Havana - disco, The Exchange - group, The Tamarind Club - Jayne Curry. The Tamarind Club was also a coffee bar. The evening passed quickly and the clocks went forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Chocolates on our pillows each night of the cruise plus biscuits replenished twice a day. Sunday 16th May - Day at Sea Formal Night Fish & Seafood buffet Westerly Force 4 59 degrees F We always enjoy days at sea. After a leisurely breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we spent the morning on a conducted tour, then the Endless pool plus Jacuzzis. Lunch in the Saffron (waiter service), followed by a flower demonstration (Atrium) and I was fortunate enough to win the top prize worth £40 in the raffle, a beautiful arrangement. The cabin looked really cheerful. We then enjoyed afternoon tea in the Saffron, which we did on most afternoons. Walked to back of ship via promenade deck. Looked at some of the interesting artwork on board - Rolf Harris CBE. We then discovered the Terrace Bar and pool, where we spent most of our Leisure time. Before dinner we sat under cover watching for wildlife. We saw precisely one bird! Dinner in the Saffron - formal preceded by Captain's Reception, followed by Peter Piper (11 p.m.). (Did not rate). There was a gala ball tonight, but did not go, instead went to our favourite Metropolis Bar Australian evening. From departure Southampton until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 308 nautical miles at an average speed of 18.1 knots. Monday 17th May - 9 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. VIGO Spain - Spain's busiest fishing port Muelle de Transatlanticos Port Smart Casual Asian & Oriental buffet Wind - light airs 64 degrees F A bank holiday in Vigo today, (P & O said they didn't realise) which suited us just fine as all the shops were mainly closed. We went ashore early and virtually did a walking tour. First the church (service in progress), then a walk along the main shopping area up to El Castro Mount, panoramic views over the Galician countryside and down to the Bay, peppered with numerous mussel farms. We saw the bronze fishermen and the statue of the wild horses. We walked down again and visited the Restaurante Casavella and I sampled the oysters. We then walked along the promenade to view the ship before returning for lunch. Spanish VAT was added at 7% in the bars during time in port. The afternoon was spent swimming and relaxing before the sailaway party. Tonight Smart casual dress for dinner in the Saffron. After dinner, Chronicles in the Arena Theatre at 11 p.m.(Adventurers in Africa combining acrobatics, aerial ballet, martial arts, puppetry and special effects.) Followed by Metropolis bar - Las Vegas. Once clear of the Bay of Vigo, a southerly course was set, paralleling the Iberian coast towards Lisbon. Tuesday 18th May - 8 a.m.- 5.30 p.m. LISBON Portugal Smart Casual/60s & 70s Italian buffet Wind - Light Airs 81 degrees F We sailed along the Tagus River to the 25th April Bridge, 230 feet above the water and disembarked and took the P & O shuttle bus (free) to Rossio Sq., where we took the Ascensor da Gloria - The Gloria Funicular - the busiest in the city. The funicular was declared a national monument in 2002. We then enjoyed the views from the gardens and I had a Pasteis da Nata tart. Dave reckoned he spotted Terry Gilliam from Monty Python! To save our legs and it was v. hot, we took an open top bus ride Olipso Tour - Yellow bus for 2 hours complete with head phones and music. We visited many sites. Bairro Alto, Principe Real, Cais do Sodre, Praca da Figueira, Rossio, Twin Towers, etc. After the tour, we took the funicular back down to catch the shuttle back to the ship. After lunch, swimming and relaxing ready for the evening. At 1700 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines in preparation for our departure. The vessel was thrust to starboard, taking us clear of the berth, before swinging the bow around to starboard to head out down the river passing under the Ponte 25 de April Bridge. Ventura cleared the channel at 18.49 and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines, as we set courses taking us northwards and paralleling the coast of Portugal. Tonight Sir Henry Cooper was the quest speaker in the Arena Theatre. Sir Henry's career spans 16 years and he fought 55 times, winning 40 including winning the British Heavyweight title, and he became the first man to put Cassius Clay on the floor just before he became world champion . In February 2000 he was knighted by the Queen. We also watched Jayne Middleton as Annie Lennox in the Havana. Last thing, the Metropolis bar, mostly had non-alcoholic cocktails here (Shanghai). Wednesday 19th May DAY AT SEA - formal night Ship's clocks put forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Country & Western buffet Wind - North easterly force 7 59 degrees F Today, another day a sea relaxing and swimming There was an ice carving demonstration and also a deck BBQ, most enjoyable! Afternoon tea with Tiptree jam and scones to die for! Tonight pre-dinner a classical concert by Hiro Tachenouchi, Chopin, Prelude in C sharp Minor Op. 45, Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor and Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58. in the Tamarind Club. Tonight another formal night, so after dinner Masquerade show in the Arena Theatre, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, hits from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, Phantom of the Opera and Whistle Down the Wind with the Ventura Theatre Company and Followed by a Black & White Ball in The Tamarind Club and late night disco. Metropolis bar to finish (New York). Most nights we had a coffee and snacks in the Waterside. From departure Lisbon until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 284 nautical miles at an average speed of 17.2 knots. Thursday 20th May BILBAO Spain (Basque country) - 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. Getxo port Smart Casual Indian buffet Wind - Easterly force 2 64 degrees F Took the free ship's shuttle into Bilbao, approximately 40 minutes. We then crossed the river over the Zubizuri Bridge over the Nervion River. Then we took the Artxandaxo Funicular to the top for good views of Bilbao. Rode back down and walked back over the bridge to the Guggenheim. Didn't pay to go in, but just had a quick peep. Took plenty of outside photos. Then took a gentle stroll back along the riverside (trams alongside) and boarded the shuttle coach near to El Corte Ingles back to port. Popped back on the ship to get some more film and then took the Port Authority's free minibus to the Bizkaia Bridge a hanging bridge which joins the riverbanks at Portugalete and Las Arenas. The bridge is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower due to its black iron structure and this 109 year old masterpiece of engineering is now the oldest transporter bridge in the world. We took the lift to the top (5 euros) and walked across (good view of the ship) and then the lift down to a flower market and walked along the quayside. Came back over the river on the transporter with the vehicles. Walked back to the port, approximately 45 mins. with views of the different types of architecture along the promenade. Had a some lunch, afternoon tea and had swim. 'Stand By Below' was rung on the ships engines at 1630 as the final passengers returned onboard. With all passengers and crew on board, our gangways were struck and we started to let go our mooring lines. With all lines onboard, Ventura was thrusted to starboard off the berth and into the buoyed channel. We continued to set mainly Westerly courses out through the channel until clear. We disembarked our local pilot once outside the breakwater and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines. We then set courses taking us through the Bay of Biscay, northwards towards our next port, Brest. After dinner did not bother with the theatre, but went to the Metropolis bar - Greg Jardine - and also Tribute to the Stars - Steve Larkins as Freddie Mercury in the Havana. At dinner one evening I spotted several dolphins and also some late one afternoon (the Captain made an announcement). Finished the evening in the Metropolis Bar - Paris. Friday 21 May - BREST France - 9.30 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. (Natural harbour). Smart Casual Mediterranean buffet Wind - Northerly Force 4 63 degrees F After breakfast, we went on our one and only proper excursion which was actually just a transfer to Quimper (a medieval town). After a 1 hour journey, we took the road train (Le petit train de Quimper) around the town. Met some Americans. We then had a drink at the Cafe 21 (vingt et un) opposite St. Corentin's Cathedral. At 1 p.m. we visited the cathedral and then took a quick look at the small shops and indoor typical French market. Bought two crepes which even Dave enjoyed. Walked back to the coach and 1 hour journey back through good countryside. There were some kiosks selling local goods on the quayside. Bought some wine, wooden spoon, and salt pot. Afternoon tea, then packed as cases had to be outside cabin door by 8 p.m. Hot and tired, so had a last quick swim in the Terrace Pool. This is near where the children's clubs took place and where they threw a pirate in the pool. With all of our passengers and crew onboard, 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines at 16.30. All of our lines were let go, before Ventura was thrusted off the berth. Once clear, the vessel was swung bow to starboard, and once complete, the vessel entered the channel to take us clear of the port 'full away on passage' was rung at 17.30 and Ventura set various courses taking us into the English Channel and towards Southampton. After dinner and saying goodbye to the waiters, we were presented with all the menus for the week (a nice gesture). Tonight Saturday Night Fever in the Arena Theatre. Last drink in the Metropolis bar - Hong Kong. Bedtime reading Britain Today. Saturday 22nd May SOUTHAMPTON - Hampshire England Wind - Variable Force 2 66 degrees F After breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we had to vacate our cabin by 8 a.m., so we went up on deck to the Terrace bar and sat in the glorious sun watching the shipping to Isle of Wight. After we disembarked, we quickly located our luggage and took a taxi back to the airport and our car. We then went to Warsash and visited Keith. Had a drink on the terrace and then went to Montisfont Abbey, National Trust property before heading for home. VENTURA'S EATING PLACES Saffron (our restaurant) Bay Tree (dark restaurant) Cinnamon - silver service anytime The White Room - extra East - Asian - extra The Waterside - inside/outdoor self service buffet Frankies Grill Frankies Pizzeria - lovely pizza! Tazzine - coffee lounge - pay for coffee but cake free The Beach House - 24 hours - casual Marcos Roof Cafe - Ice cream Havana - night club Metropolis - real time images of main cities Ramblas - tapas - some items extra 24 hour room service - some items extra Complimentary breakfast - i.e. juice/croissants Tea/coffee making facilities in cabin During cruise VE012 Ventura steamed a total distance of 2126 nautical miles on passage. A most enjoyable cruise and really good weather thoughout! P & O V E N T U R A CRUISE 15TH - 22ND MAY 2010 Saturday 15th May - Southampton - Hampshire - England Partly Cloudy Westerly Force 2 Temp. 59 degrees F Smart Casual Best of British buffet Please see Cruise Log for day by day record of the cruise After parking at Southampton Airport, we shared a taxi with a French couple Cruising on QM2 to New York. Firstly, the taxi driver took us to the QM2 Terminal (decorated with flags), then to the Ocean Terminal. The cases were promptly placed on the conveyor and we boarded the escalator to the top floor. Embarkation was straightforward after showing passports, paperwork and registering debit card. Soon on board and Dave and I were given a free massage in the Atrium. Our cabin (A416) Australia Deck was really spacious with walk in wardrobe, tea/coffee facilities, pamper pack, and good quality bed linen. Lunch was served in the Waterside Restaurant with a grand view of the harbour. After lunch, quickly unpacked and explored the ship. Lifeboat drill was held at 4 p.m. We sailed at 4.30 p.m. and Keith was with his friends on the beach at Warsash complete with foghorns, so able to speak on mobile. There was a sailaway party and the Salvation Army played on the quayside (a bit mournful!). Had a pimms. With all pre departure checks complete, clearance was granted and the Captain (Julian Burgess) made his departure broadcast. Ventura let go all her lines and moved off berth. She then proceeded down Southampton Water, slowing down at Fawley Oil Terminal before making the two turns, first at Calshot Spit and the other at Brambles Bank. Once complete an easterly course was set along the Eastern Solent. Ventura disembarked her local pilot at 19.02 and once clear of the Nab Tower, she was altered onto a south westerly course through the English Channel. We then went to the spa for the raffle. Had a pre dinner drink in the Metropolis Bar - with virtual wall displays of major cities - tonight London. Dinner was 2nd sitting at 8.30 p.m. (Saffron). Casual. We should have been on a table for 6 but only two others arrived throughout the cruise, a couple from Boston, Lincs. Our waiters were excellent throughout. After dinner, The Arena Theatre - Cruise Director's introductions (Leon de ste. Croix), followed by John Lenahan (magician). Other venues were Havana - disco, The Exchange - group, The Tamarind Club - Jayne Curry. The Tamarind Club was also a coffee bar. The evening passed quickly and the clocks went forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Chocolates on our pillows each night of the cruise plus biscuits replenished twice a day. Sunday 16th May - Day at Sea Formal Night Fish & Seafood buffet Westerly Force 4 59 degrees F We always enjoy days at sea. After a leisurely breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we spent the morning on a conducted tour, then the Endless pool plus Jacuzzis. Lunch in the Saffron (waiter service), followed by a flower demonstration (Atrium) and I was fortunate enough to win the top prize worth £40 in the raffle, a beautiful arrangement. The cabin looked really cheerful. We then enjoyed afternoon tea in the Saffron, which we did on most afternoons. Walked to back of ship via promenade deck. Looked at some of the interesting artwork on board - Rolf Harris CBE. We then discovered the Terrace Bar and pool, where we spent most of our Leisure time. Before dinner we sat under cover watching for wildlife. We saw precisely one bird! Dinner in the Saffron - formal preceded by Captain's Reception, followed by Peter Piper (11 p.m.). (Did not rate). There was a gala ball tonight, but did not go, instead went to our favourite Metropolis Bar Australian evening. From departure Southampton until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 308 nautical miles at an average speed of 18.1 knots. Monday 17th May - 9 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. VIGO Spain - Spain's busiest fishing port Muelle de Transatlanticos Port Smart Casual Asian & Oriental buffet Wind - light airs 64 degrees F A bank holiday in Vigo today, (P & O said they didn't realise) which suited us just fine as all the shops were mainly closed. We went ashore early and virtually did a walking tour. First the church (service in progress), then a walk along the main shopping area up to El Castro Mount, panoramic views over the Galician countryside and down to the Bay, peppered with numerous mussel farms. We saw the bronze fishermen and the statue of the wild horses. We walked down again and visited the Restaurante Casavella and I sampled the oysters. We then walked along the promenade to view the ship before returning for lunch. Spanish VAT was added at 7% in the bars during time in port. The afternoon was spent swimming and relaxing before the sailaway party. Tonight Smart casual dress for dinner in the Saffron. After dinner, Chronicles in the Arena Theatre at 11 p.m.(Adventurers in Africa combining acrobatics, aerial ballet, martial arts, puppetry and special effects.) Followed by Metropolis bar - Las Vegas. Once clear of the Bay of Vigo, a southerly course was set, paralleling the Iberian coast towards Lisbon. Tuesday 18th May - 8 a.m.- 5.30 p.m. LISBON Portugal Smart Casual/60s & 70s Italian buffet Wind - Light Airs 81 degrees F We sailed along the Tagus River to the 25th April Bridge, 230 feet above the water and disembarked and took the P & O shuttle bus (free) to Rossio Sq., where we took the Ascensor da Gloria - The Gloria Funicular - the busiest in the city. The funicular was declared a national monument in 2002. We then enjoyed the views from the gardens and I had a Pasteis da Nata tart. Dave reckoned he spotted Terry Gilliam from Monty Python! To save our legs and it was v. hot, we took an open top bus ride Olipso Tour - Yellow bus for 2 hours complete with head phones and music. We visited many sites. Bairro Alto, Principe Real, Cais do Sodre, Praca da Figueira, Rossio, Twin Towers, etc. After the tour, we took the funicular back down to catch the shuttle back to the ship. After lunch, swimming and relaxing ready for the evening. At 1700 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines in preparation for our departure. The vessel was thrust to starboard, taking us clear of the berth, before swinging the bow around to starboard to head out down the river passing under the Ponte 25 de April Bridge. Ventura cleared the channel at 18.49 and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines, as we set courses taking us northwards and paralleling the coast of Portugal. Tonight Sir Henry Cooper was the quest speaker in the Arena Theatre. Sir Henry's career spans 16 years and he fought 55 times, winning 40 including winning the British Heavyweight title, and he became the first man to put Cassius Clay on the floor just before he became world champion . In February 2000 he was knighted by the Queen. We also watched Jayne Middleton as Annie Lennox in the Havana. Last thing, the Metropolis bar, mostly had non-alcoholic cocktails here (Shanghai). Wednesday 19th May DAY AT SEA - formal night Ship's clocks put forward 1 hour at 2 a.m. Country & Western buffet Wind - North easterly force 7 59 degrees F Today, another day a sea relaxing and swimming There was an ice carving demonstration and also a deck BBQ, most enjoyable! Afternoon tea with Tiptree jam and scones to die for! Tonight pre-dinner a classical concert by Hiro Tachenouchi, Chopin, Prelude in C sharp Minor Op. 45, Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor and Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58. in the Tamarind Club. Tonight another formal night, so after dinner Masquerade show in the Arena Theatre, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, hits from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, Phantom of the Opera and Whistle Down the Wind with the Ventura Theatre Company and Followed by a Black & White Ball in The Tamarind Club and late night disco. Metropolis bar to finish (New York). Most nights we had a coffee and snacks in the Waterside. From departure Lisbon until noon today, Ventura steamed a total distance of 284 nautical miles at an average speed of 17.2 knots. Thursday 20th May BILBAO Spain (Basque country) - 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. Getxo port Smart Casual Indian buffet Wind - Easterly force 2 64 degrees F Took the free ship's shuttle into Bilbao, approximately 40 minutes. We then crossed the river over the Zubizuri Bridge over the Nervion River. Then we took the Artxandaxo Funicular to the top for good views of Bilbao. Rode back down and walked back over the bridge to the Guggenheim. Didn't pay to go in, but just had a quick peep. Took plenty of outside photos. Then took a gentle stroll back along the riverside (trams alongside) and boarded the shuttle coach near to El Corte Ingles back to port. Popped back on the ship to get some more film and then took the Port Authority's free minibus to the Bizkaia Bridge a hanging bridge which joins the riverbanks at Portugalete and Las Arenas. The bridge is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower due to its black iron structure and this 109 year old masterpiece of engineering is now the oldest transporter bridge in the world. We took the lift to the top (5 euros) and walked across (good view of the ship) and then the lift down to a flower market and walked along the quayside. Came back over the river on the transporter with the vehicles. Walked back to the port, approximately 45 mins. with views of the different types of architecture along the promenade. Had a some lunch, afternoon tea and had swim. 'Stand By Below' was rung on the ships engines at 1630 as the final passengers returned onboard. With all passengers and crew on board, our gangways were struck and we started to let go our mooring lines. With all lines onboard, Ventura was thrusted to starboard off the berth and into the buoyed channel. We continued to set mainly Westerly courses out through the channel until clear. We disembarked our local pilot once outside the breakwater and 'full away on passage' was rung on the ships engines. We then set courses taking us through the Bay of Biscay, northwards towards our next port, Brest. After dinner did not bother with the theatre, but went to the Metropolis bar - Greg Jardine - and also Tribute to the Stars - Steve Larkins as Freddie Mercury in the Havana. At dinner one evening I spotted several dolphins and also some late one afternoon (the Captain made an announcement). Finished the evening in the Metropolis Bar - Paris. Friday 21 May - BREST France - 9.30 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. (Natural harbour). Smart Casual Mediterranean buffet Wind - Northerly Force 4 63 degrees F After breakfast, we went on our one and only proper excursion which was actually just a transfer to Quimper (a medieval town). After a 1 hour journey, we took the road train (Le petit train de Quimper) around the town. Met some Americans. We then had a drink at the Cafe 21 (vingt et un) opposite St. Corentin's Cathedral. At 1 p.m. we visited the cathedral and then took a quick look at the small shops and indoor typical French market. Bought two crepes which even Dave enjoyed. Walked back to the coach and 1 hour journey back through good countryside. There were some kiosks selling local goods on the quayside. Bought some wine, wooden spoon, and salt pot. Afternoon tea, then packed as cases had to be outside cabin door by 8 p.m. Hot and tired, so had a last quick swim in the Terrace Pool. This is near where the children's clubs took place and where they threw a pirate in the pool. With all of our passengers and crew onboard, 'stand by below' was rung on the ships engines at 16.30. All of our lines were let go, before Ventura was thrusted off the berth. Once clear, the vessel was swung bow to starboard, and once complete, the vessel entered the channel to take us clear of the port 'full away on passage' was rung at 17.30 and Ventura set various courses taking us into the English Channel and towards Southampton. After dinner and saying goodbye to the waiters, we were presented with all the menus for the week (a nice gesture). Tonight Saturday Night Fever in the Arena Theatre. Last drink in the Metropolis bar - Hong Kong. Bedtime reading Britain Today. Saturday 22nd May SOUTHAMPTON - Hampshire England Wind - Variable Force 2 66 degrees F After breakfast in the Saffron Restaurant, we had to vacate our cabin by 8 a.m., so we went up on deck to the Terrace bar and sat in the glorious sun watching the shipping to Isle of Wight. After we disembarked, we quickly located our luggage and took a taxi back to the airport and our car. We then went to Warsash and visited Keith. Had a drink on the terrace and then went to Montisfont Abbey, National Trust property before heading for home. VENTURA'S EATING PLACES Saffron (our restaurant) Bay Tree (dark restaurant) Cinnamon - silver service anytime The White Room - extra East - Asian - extra The Waterside - inside/outdoor self service buffet Frankies Grill Frankies Pizzeria - lovely pizza! Tazzine - coffee lounge - pay for coffee but cake free The Beach House - 24 hours - casual Marcos Roof Cafe - Ice cream Havana - night club Metropolis - real time images of main cities Ramblas - tapas - some items extra 24 hour room service - some items extra Complimentary breakfast - i.e. juice/croissants Tea/coffee making facilities in cabin During cruise VE012 Ventura steamed a total distance of 2126 nautical miles on passage. A most enjoyable cruise and really good weather thoughout! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Our first P. O. cruise, but not our last. We expected a P. & O. cruise to be a bit special & we were not disappointed, but also a little surprised. Our first surprise was the parking. It all went very smoothly, but not an ... Read More
Our first P. O. cruise, but not our last. We expected a P. & O. cruise to be a bit special & we were not disappointed, but also a little surprised. Our first surprise was the parking. It all went very smoothly, but not an "aston" or a "roller" in sight, just your mondeos & astras.The check in went well considering that over 3200 people were waiting to board.We restricted ourselves to minimal hand luggage but next time we will take a small"pull along" case. Once on board we found our outside cabin quite easily & were surprised on 2 counts.Firstly the cabin,(sorry "stateroom") was quite roomy,larger than we expected & secondly our "ocean view" was only partly obstructed by the supporting structure of the lifeboats & we could see out to sea but not directly downwards.From what I could make out this was the case with all the outside cabins.The cabin was very comfortable & the 'fridge was very useful particularly if you want to chill some wine or beer bought ashore from home or one of the ports of call. There was no problem taking alcohol aboard. It is also worth considering which side of the ship to be on.On our itinery it was a slight disadvantage being on the port side as the ship usually docked with the starboard side against the moorings. A standing joke with cruisers & staff was the size of the ship.There is no doubt that this is a"biggy" & can be confusing, but we thought that this all added to the experience.For those people who are concerned about sea sickness then don't be, as the ship is very stable. We were also slightly surprised at the "mix" of people aboard. We thought that it would be mainly 50's & over, but there were young families. 30 somethings & quite a few disabled people for which the Ventura seems to be reasonably friendly. The dining did not disappoint. We went for the "freedom dining" in the Cinnamon restaurant which went very well. The food was very good with great choice, well presented & excellent service. In our case having a drink is a big part of a holiday & we found prices reasonable.A pint of draught bitter (boddintons) £2.75 & stella £2.95. Large canned beers (spitfire speckled hen etc ) £2.70.Branded spirits £2.10 to £2.40 a shot & bottle of house wine at £11.75.Getting a drink was very quick & easy with waiters hovering around just looking for customers. The entertainment was first rate & would not be out of place on the West End stage. On leaving a port of call there was a"sailway party" up on the top deck, which was great fun but unfortunately there were only 2 despite there being 4 ports of call, this was disappointing. Tipping can be a difficult area, but P & O charged us £11.60 per person for the week which we thought was more than reasonable & we tipped our cabin steward sepatately at the end of the week . Disembarkation went smoothly considering the number of passengers & we were on our way quite quickly. All in all a very pleasant holiday & one that I am sure we will repeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We had a last minute booking on Ventura for her March Trans Atlantic crossing. The journey from East Midlands Airport was seamless as was the embarkation. Well done P&O, MSC could learn a lot from you. Now for the niggles. The food ... Read More
We had a last minute booking on Ventura for her March Trans Atlantic crossing. The journey from East Midlands Airport was seamless as was the embarkation. Well done P&O, MSC could learn a lot from you. Now for the niggles. The food was not the usual high standard expected of P&O. Rating: Could have done better. Lack of Managerial control in Marco White's restuarant. I object to paying £56 supplement for a special meal on a special occasion, my wife's birthday on a Formal evening to sit opposite people sitting in their shirt sleeves whilst others displayed red braces, their Dinner Jackets hung on the back of the chair. There is a dress code and it should be enforced. We had opted for set dining and it was impossible to get a seat in Havanah or any other bars where entertainment was in progress after the second sitting so missed out on most of the evening entertainment. . We thought the Theater shows were sub standard and although the cast gave of their best the singing left a lot to be desired. However the Guest speakers were great, especially those from the Tate Gallery and the chap who spoke on Naval history. Ventura is a lovely ship, just a few too many passengers for total comfort and despite the niggles we would sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Started the cruise by selecting a Thompson flight upgrade to premium seating UK to Barbados. This was money well spent as the holiday really started with the dedicated service offered by the airline crew, the 10 hours or so seemed to pass ... Read More
Started the cruise by selecting a Thompson flight upgrade to premium seating UK to Barbados. This was money well spent as the holiday really started with the dedicated service offered by the airline crew, the 10 hours or so seemed to pass in fairly reasonable comfort, one small gripe was if you wished to put your seat right back for sleeping, the person behind me complained that she could not sit and read properly. Transfer to Ventura was done in style, straight from the aircraft to coach and through a fast check in at the port, with our baggage not being seen until we got to our cabin. We had a balcony suite with a separate room for sleeping and a comfortable lounge with sliding doors to the spacious balcony. On arrival we opened the door to fresh flowers, fresh fruit and a bottle of very cold champagne. The cruise was as good as any we have been on, the food in all of the ships many restaurant's was above the quality found in most UK eating out places. We paid £15 extra each for a meal in P&O's famous Marco Pierre White restaurant and reckon this to be as good as eating gets, much better value than the £150 you can spend in a down town Chelsea eatery. The evening entertainment in the ships theatre was very good apart from one night when the a 'comedian' invited in from Cunard tried to invent his own form of flat sailing jokes, we followed the queue of early departures after 20 minutes. The bars on Ventura offer all cocktails and beers at reasonable prices,I recommend the cocktail of the day, for the price of a pint of beer you can enjoy a drink that would cost a fortune on land. Our big gripe on the cruise was the terrible British habit of guests placing towels on the sun deck chairs, most mornings after breakfast we found that by 9am all places were taken with more towels than people on deck. P&O staff seem to be of the opinion that this is normal on all P&O cruises. We have cruised with other Cruise Lines and found that after 15 minutes the deck staff remove personal effects from deck chairs not being used. Day time entertainment on deck was available in the two main pools to much cheering and banter, we elected to find a quieter and more relaxing pool at the front of the ship. On the whole we found Ventura an exellent ship and would book again if my wife elects to 'towel up' at 6am every morning and reserve our deck chairs. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Friday 13 Doncaster to Barbados To Doncaster air port for 7 am flight delayed until 11am boarded ok but slowly In flight was good upgrade to premium was worth the extra, it plenty free drinks 4 meals and attentive service Landed in ... Read More
Friday 13 Doncaster to Barbados To Doncaster air port for 7 am flight delayed until 11am boarded ok but slowly In flight was good upgrade to premium was worth the extra, it plenty free drinks 4 meals and attentive service Landed in Barbados it was 27C straight off the plane into a minibus, 1st away and to the ship 40 minute drive to bridge town, the luggage is bonded and sent directly to the ship and your cabin Settled in and went for dinner in the cinnamon dining room which is dedicated to freedom dining we had a very nice meal in this very large smart restaurant Saturday 14 Barbados Excursion around the island interesting a lot of run down shacks with galvanised sheet roofs but interesting the high light was to be a visit to a beach with a dedicated lounger and umbrellas it did not happen We were left to are own devices and final dragged a couple of chairs under a tree where we were next to a building site and accompanied by the sound of a cement mixer for 2 hours Back to the ship and a complaint just managed lunch in the waterside which closed at 3 pm. On the ship you can always get something to eat as there is always one of the other grills or dinners open, for example, the beach house serves a full English breakfast from 0800 to 1200 and then remains open until 930 pm with a buffet and later as an American dinner The waterside has a breakfast from 0630 to1030 lunch from 12 to 3 then afternoon tea At 6 to 930pm there is always a speciality buffet ie Indian Chinese Italian etc There are also the 3 main restaurants aft that must seat between 300 to 500 each and the 3 speciality pay extra 'cover charge' restaurants Sunday 15 At Sea So a chance to wandered around the ship finding our way checked the pools and bars (there are eleven of them ) shops and had lunch in the waterside Tonight was the captain's cocktail party and formal dinning nothing special really went freedom dinning in the cinnamon In the evening we went to see a Neil diamond lookalike but he did not impress us Monday 16 Antigua Berthed across from silver seas shadow her top deck was level with our balcony and we are on deck 9 Ventura has a total of 18 decks, 15 to the pool deck and a further 3 aft housing fitness centre lounge bars and a restaurant The morning was spent lazing, we took advantage that most of the other passengers and particularly the kids were on trips and the pools were empty, so we swam and took it easy had an early lunch, The buffet salads and hot choices are very good That afternoon we took a trip to Nelsons dockyard with stops off both at 'Shirlyies heights' which was an old colonial officers quarters and then at the remains of an old English defensive fort for the views Nelsons dockyard has been refurbished showed what it looked like in Nelsons time, with all the old buildings that were stores held equipment and housed the men while their ships were being overhauled Although they now served as holiday apartments restaurants and bars Return to the ship 1700 we sail for Grand Turk Sat on the balcony and watched as we 'rotated 'in the harbour and left Antigua, tonight we dined in the beach house American style diner and had an excellent steak This evening Took it easy and visited some of the entertainment finishing up listening to a Billy Connelly tribute that wasn't too bad, I laughed at his jokes any way, had an early night Tuesday 17 at Sea Breakfast in our cabin as usual, chased up the inter connection once again, then had a wander around went for lunch, looked at the shops, visited the library, really quite stressful this cruising lark Tonight is once again formal dinning Wednesday 18 Grand Turk an island 6 miles long x 2miles Walked ashore checked out the cruise terminal duty free shops had a walk through the local shops nearby but there is not much to do here its mainly the beach and scuba diving so we bought some duty free and came back for lunch and a swim in the pool We sat on deck had an double choc ice cream and watched the sail away'sing-along' as we departed its like this each time we leave a port they have a great dance rave up on the pool decks either disco or a steel band and every one joins in its great not to be missed Thursday 19 Catalina Island I have finally sorted out my internet connection now I am able to send from our cabin using my laptop via the cabin router through Ventura's 'seamobilecafe' It has been a steady 28 C all week and we are just leaving Catalina Island part of Dominica we have been taken ashore by tender landed on this idyllic beach were we have been swimming in the sea, and lounged under the palm trees, the best day yet The ships galley and bars transferred loads of food and drink ashore by tender, where they set up their own bar and ran a BBQ, all staffed by the guys that normally served you in the bars and restaurants on board. Quite a logistical feat serving 3200 people on a beach in 4 hours it was quite surreal to see the waiters who normally brought you drinks at the poolside or in the lounges bringing them to you along the beach so it was eat drink and enjoy yourself After a tiring day we could not be bothered going for dinner so we order a meal in our cabin from room service and chilled out, it only took 20 minutes before there was a knock on the door and the meal was ok, you just cannot fault the service and politeness of the staff which is excellent Friday 20 at sea Half way through the cruise!! Usual breakfast in our room got waken up with it fact, did some washing in one of the laundrettes, (each deck has one) , went for lunch looked in the shops sent some emails read dozed, had a quiet day Formal night, black and white theme Saturday 21 St Kitts Called off its too windy to go along side so another day at sea heading for St Lucia before the wind stops us entering there Sunday 22 St Lucia (along with Sea Princess and Pacific Princess ) Morning Arrived in Cruise terminal and we tried to do it alone, failed miserable ended up on the same beach as the tours and paid the Taxi twice as much and then it cost us £15 for the sun beds which were useless not amused still the island looked nice and its very touristy with lots of very exclusive hotel complexes for example there are 3 all inclusive "Sandals" here 6 o clock We have just left St Lucia it was really hot 30 °C nice to return to the ship and the air condition, had a burger and pizza by the pool instead of the usual lunch buffet We are off to St Maarten tomorrow, this week we are in the Windward Islands last week we were in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean We are off for dinner but cannot decide on whether it's the sea food buffet, the formal dining restaurant or Spanish tapas, of course we could go oriental but there is a cover charge of £10, still that's choices for you on Ventura! Monday 23 St Maarten (along with Wind spirit (a modern sailing ship with aluminium masts ) Serenade of the seas (royal Caribbean) and Maasdam...a Holland America ship Shock, horror we had to miss breakfast in our cabin and join the rest of the rabble at the restaurant because we were booked on a 0845 trip to the beach It was a good call though, after a long trudge along the jetty we set off for a long winding and very steep drive in an open sided bus, going from the Dutch side to the French side of the island( St Maarten is split in two and is owned by both countries)we were taken to orient beach There we were shown into our own sectioned off area of the beach laid out with comfortable sun loungers with big umbrellas right by the Atlantic surf crashing on the beach There we swam in the very warm blue sea and battled the waves, and had fun, it was great, the breeze blew, and there were all sorts of water sports to watch. There were little bars and restaurants along the back of the beach, you could hire any type of water sport equipment from snorkel to jet skies, we had a great time, Oh I forgot about the 2 glasses of complimentary rum punch Then it was back to the cruise terminal check out the shops and had a late lunch at 3 pm on board We sail at 6 pm as usual and As usual as we leave a port they have sail away'sing-along' a dance rave up on the pool decks either a group a disco or a steel band Ate in the Rambles tapas restaurant very nice not allot on your plate but adequate and different Tuesday 24 Tortola in the BVI Lazy day in the morning In the Afternoon we have Booked a trip to pussers landing, we got into this 'bus' which was in reality an open sided converted pick up with bench seats and no seat belts This in its self wouldn't have been so bad except that we then started a very hairy journey up some very steep twisting roads which the lake district would have been proud of,Hard Knot pass has nothing on these roads, there are no road marking and they drive with one hand on the horn After a while we had a stop off for ½ hour at the beach on Cane Bay, which would be a good trip on its own, it was a nice spot with a bar and restaurant and we bought some gifts, then it was on to 'Pussers Landing' where we stayed for an hour but this realy wasn't enough time you need 2 hours at least The trip back was not the mountainous route taken earlier but a slightly calmer one along the main high way In the main town, there is plenty to do here doing your own thing, there is a decent size town and a lively market It was English night in the waterside restaurant with the biggest joint of beef I have ever seen in any carvery it must have taken 2 too lift Wednesday 25 Dominica in the Dominican Republic Just went ashore looked in a few stalls but didn't stay long, you need to take the formal trips here if you want to see any thing interesting, there isn't much in the town it would have been better to spend 2 days in Tortola We are ate in the EAST restaurant it was worth the cover charge the meal was spot on Thursday 26 St Vincent Stayed on board childed out Friday 27 Barbados Returned home , our overall impression was the ship is brilliant the skipper Captain Allister Clarke puts his stamp on it and its reflected in the happy way the whole ships company respond to the passengers, I would sail with her again Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
The Ventura certainly lived up to the hype in the P & O brochure with one exception. The holiday cruise was a joy from the moment we arrived at Birmingham airport through to our flight home. The excellent service with the staff on ... Read More
The Ventura certainly lived up to the hype in the P & O brochure with one exception. The holiday cruise was a joy from the moment we arrived at Birmingham airport through to our flight home. The excellent service with the staff on board going out of their way to ensure we had everything we wanted to make our holiday perfect. We had a superb stateroom with balcony on deck 11 - great views when sailing into the islands, very quiet and great location close to forward lifts. 24 hour room service available at no extra charge - great choice for breakfast on sea days Impossible to get any cold water - design problem possibly. Excellent maid service in room. Dining arrangements and the food offerings were outstanding with ample choice of food choices with too many options generally the norm. The onboard facilities, swimming pools, gym, pub venues, snack bars, shops and the art gallery are all first class. In all these areas the Ventura excels however just one major area of disappointment was the entertainment. The choice was very varied however it was below standard compared with everything else on Ventura - one favourite comedian Manual Martinez we have enjoyed on previous cruises was scheduled to perform and although spotted on the boat never performed ! The inclusion of an ex BBC weather reporter for the late night entertainment in the main theatre remains a mystery. The other complaint we had ( and also voiced by other passengers) was the hideous design of the Havana night spot/bar which comprised seating areas with barriers which restricted the views of the artists! A design fault which should be rectified. Was the cruise value for money -yes without a doubt Are we going to travel with Ventura again - yes definitely (Can't believe the entertainment would be this poor again) Would we recommend the boat to friends and relatives - undoubtedly Highlights - the food, the service, the friendly staff and the sublime food in the White Room (Pierre Marco White restaurant) We will be talking about this holiday for a long time.. If you are thinking about cruising on the Ventura - book now you won't regret it Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We have just being on a two week Caribbean cruise on P & O Venture. This being our first cruise meant we went with an open mind and few expectations. Right from the start we were very impressed with the professionalism of P & O. As ... Read More
We have just being on a two week Caribbean cruise on P & O Venture. This being our first cruise meant we went with an open mind and few expectations. Right from the start we were very impressed with the professionalism of P & O. As on landing at Barbados, there was no waiting for our luggage and we went straight to the ship. We were processed very quickly and given assistance to our cabin. After a few hours our luggage was waiting for us outside of our cabin. We were very pleased with the size of our cabin, (Stateroom with Balcony). It was plenty big enough for us, it was very clean and well presented. Our steward maintained the same standard throughout the criuse. The Venture is a very large ship and it took some time to get round it, and even at the end of the cruise we were still getting lost. We had paid for Freedom Dinning which lived up to expectations. As this gave us the flexibility we wanted. We were very pleased with the quality and presentation of the meals which were excellent. The waiters were very good and gave excellent attention, plus they never rushed us. The costs of the drinks was very reasonable, and compared favourably to the cost of drinks at home. We eat breakfast mainly in Shaffron Restaurant and again found this to be an excellent restaurant. We visited a lot of the bars throughout the ship and found the cost of the drinks to be very good. Even though there was sometimes a delay in receiving our drinks after ordering them. We liked the Breakers bar in the day and in the evening used the Metropolis Bar. The only bar we didn't like much, was the Havana as the design of it was not good for watching a show, plus it got very busy on some nights, to the degree people were standing in front of the audience. P and O should look at redesigning this room, removing the barriers which would give more seating. We saw a lot of the enterainment mainly in the Arena Theatre, which was a good theatre. Some of the entertainment was excellent, this included the Venture Theatre Company, plus there were some excellent comedians. The singers were however hit and miss, even so we enjoyed the Robby Williams and Freddie Murcery Tributes acts. There was plently going on all day and night on the ship, and in reality it is impossible to do everything. We found the daily Horison newsletter and the Island information leafletreally helpful. As these enabled us to plan what we wanted to do the next day. Most of the islands we visited were excellent, and varied enough to make each stop different. The only island I was not impressed with was St Vincent, and if we had not gone on a fast boat ride from the dock side, we would have stayed on the ship. We however loved Grand Turk as this was our idea of a desert island, Antigua was beautiful and Nelson's Dockyard was a must see. If we had more time we would have gone to a beach as well. At St Lucia we took a bus trip to see the Piton's which was a hike however it was well worth it, as the view of them was a must see. Next time if I went to St Lucia, I would go to one of beaches as Rodney Beach is excellent. St Marteen had a great beach right by where the water taxi comes in and only cost 6 dollars both ways. On all of the islands we used US Dollars, and found most gave us change in US Dollars. On the advice of others we did not arrange any trips on the ship, and on each Island, local taxi's or minibuses were there to offer very similar trips at half the cost. However, I would advice us negotiate the cost of the trip and only pay at the end. If you want to do a particular trip such as swimming with the stingrays or going on a helicopter ride then book these with P & O. We found the Island people very helpful and informative. We had no trouble when on the islands. When on the ship we found there was plenty of sun beds and could find one even on a busy sailing day. Overall we have no complaints regarding our cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed. We would recommend the Venture to others, and gained the impression from speaking to others who had already being on the Venture, the initial problems appear to be addressed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Booked at a Large well known T/A (never again!!) Names were mixed up on booking and several minor problems there meant more discounts every time they made a mistake. Flew with Thomson fly Manchester to Barbados great flight free drinks ... Read More
Booked at a Large well known T/A (never again!!) Names were mixed up on booking and several minor problems there meant more discounts every time they made a mistake. Flew with Thomson fly Manchester to Barbados great flight free drinks loads of leg room seat back entertainment (extra charge for "premium" films)and arrived fresh (ish) at Barbados. No formalities whatsoever right down the plane steps onto waiting mini buses to the ship. Checkin at the port was super quick within an hour of landing we were on board. We were in a mini suite (Princess' name)for our stateroom. I can't help but compare to Princess because to all intents Ventura is just like a Princess ship. Food was in someways better than Princess especially breakfasts, but evening meals were better on Princess better quality and more of it.....not that we went hungry. We were on anytime dining waits were minimal often had a table for 2 with no problem. Entertainment on a par with Princess. Ports of call were all good esp St Vincent where we took a powerboat ride along the island to a waterfall, to do some whale watching, see Pirate of the Caribbean location and a beach stop. Disembarkation was a breeze, you need to be "Immigrated" at set times according to your flight. Cases are left outside your room by midnight and the next time you see them is at your home airport. What could be easier??? Its a coin toss whether I would choose Ventura or Princess next time if the routes were similar! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
To start it was great to check in your suitcase at the airport and not see them again till they got put outside your cabin, again when we were going home we put our suitcases out the night before and didn't see them till we got to the ... Read More
To start it was great to check in your suitcase at the airport and not see them again till they got put outside your cabin, again when we were going home we put our suitcases out the night before and didn't see them till we got to the airport back home. The ship is beautiful very clean, the cabins are nice we had a balcony which i did enjoy, the room is kept very clean and our steward Grenville could not do enough for you, the food is standard, nothing to write home about, but if you go to the east restaurant and Marco Pierre restaurant it is a different story, the food is gorgeous, there is a service charge of £20 per person but well worth it. I found a lot of the waiters miserable a lot never smiled which i found disappointing, because the other cruises i have been on the staff were great always smiling and very friendly, that is what disappointed me about this ship, i was shocked with some of the staffs attitude, were not fussy people and don't like to complain, but on this holiday i did report 1 of the staff. There is a cafe bar called Tazzine and in the morning they have plates of fruit and yogurt in a glass cabinet and lunch time they have sandwiches and cakes, one afternoon my husband and i went to the bar and asked can we have 2 sandwiches each and a cake, we had only fruit for breakfast had a long walk out and now we were hungry, we was told we had to purchase a beverage and then we could have a sandwich, " no problem were having a drink anyway" so we ordered 2 teas 2 sandwiches each and a cake, when the waiter came there was 1 sandwich each, so we said can we have 2 sandwiches each please, the waiter said you want 2 each with a bit of attitude, so we said yes please, so he went and got us another 1 each, the tea was lukewarm but we just drank it. Anyway 2 days later we went again, 2 teas please 2 prawn sandwiches and 2 egg mayo please, waiter came back with 2 teas 1 prawn and 1 egg mayo, so we said we wanted 2 of each sandwich please, "you want 2 each madame" again with a bit of attitude, so i said yes please but i was a bit pi--ed of now and again the tea was just lukewarm but again just drank it. 2 or 3 days later at breakfast time i decided to go 2 the tazzine for the fruit and yogurt it looked lovely so here we go, the waiter said what would you like madame i said can i have a tea please, but can you make sure its hot please the last 2 afternoons I've had tea it has been lukewarm, he said the tea is always hot madame, so i said no the last 2 times it has been lukewarm, again he said no madame the tea is always hot,so i said take my word for it, it was Luke warm can you just make sure its hot please, yes madame, then i said and can i have a bowl of fruit please and a yogurt, he said no madame you are only allowed 1, so i told him to forget it. I was really pi--ed off now can you believe i was refused food which is supposed to be free on the ship, or should i say payed in advance, so i went and reported this guy i wasn't happy, but the manager listened and did make the guy apologise to me, but i can't believe his attitude in the first place. My husband has IBS and we went to the spa and they said have acupuncture and you will feel the benefit so he did, he had 5 sessions at a cost of £250 and they put a mud pack on him when he was having his sessions, when he finished his 5 sessions they said buy some mud packs and use them at home, so he did they cost £62,the next day when he was reading about the mud packs we found they were for cellulite, so we took them back to the spa and said in a normal pleasant way, can we have a refund on these please, the guy whom i sure is the manager looked in the bag and i tell no lies he flung his hands in the air and SHOUTED why you people buy these things when you people don't want them, my husband asked if there was a problem returning them and he said no,then again SHOUTED but i don't understand why you people buy them when you don't want them, so my husband started arguing with him, so i said excuse me my husband was treated with a condition which wasn't cellulite and these mud packs state on the box they are for cellulite, so he said OK madame i will refund you, but i couldn't believe the attitude, to happen once on the ship is bad enough but to be spoken to like that twice has just put me right of the ship, my daughter was going to get married on that ship but she has changed her mind, when you pay a lot of money for your holiday the least i expect is nice friendly staff, its a shame the few spoil it for the ones that are nice and friendly, but overall the ship is lovely clean and the excursions are good. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was our first cruise, and we were gob smacked! I loved every bit of the cruise, the food (freedom dining) in the cinnamon resturant was beautiful, the buffet, white room and the steak house were all excellent. The shows were ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and we were gob smacked! I loved every bit of the cruise, the food (freedom dining) in the cinnamon resturant was beautiful, the buffet, white room and the steak house were all excellent. The shows were of good standard, and the ship was spotless, and bars offered something for everyone. The gallery was a nice addition too. We used the ship photographers- if you've heard of Venture Photography, the ship photos were of the same quality, but 1/3 of the price. We used the spa, and treatments we very good- however their booking system is a bit caotic. We had an outside cabin and was really pleased with the decor, space and facillities in the room. embarkation was great, really makes you want to cruise all the time, not lugging you bags around. Leaving felt a bit more stressful- as for first time cruises we would have like the information a few days earlier- but for all our worries- P&O had it covered, and once again it was great someone else to cart the suitcases around! We truely loved and if I had the money I would cruise everytime- The Ventura is great for families or couples- i've reccommended cruising to so many people! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Having cruise previously with Island Cruises and Ocean Village we had come up with a "small" wish list for our next cruise. Namely- less casual, more traditional, better weather but still good children facilities, a great port ... Read More
Having cruise previously with Island Cruises and Ocean Village we had come up with a "small" wish list for our next cruise. Namely- less casual, more traditional, better weather but still good children facilities, a great port itinerary and of course a fabulous price deal! So not much to ask for and we were lucky enough to find a cruise which for us met and surpassed nearly everyone of our requirements. We booked Ventura just a few weeks before sailing and drove down to Southampton in just a couple of hours. Having no stressful plane journey was a real treat as was the joy of not having a luggage allowance to worry about. We managed, after a bit of a Krypton Challenge and a mild panic attack to squeeze 7 large cases into our family car without having to leave behind either of the children. Arriving at Southampton within moments a porter whisked the cases away and then our car was driven away leaving us to check in. Check in was equally efficient and we were just about to step onto the Air Bridge to board when an alarm sounded to indicate that the bridge had come away from the ship. So near and yet so far! After a little confusion we were directed back to the terminal but we took this as part of the adventure and it gave us chance to begin to make friends with the other passengers. In no time we were boarded via the staff gangway and we were on the Ventura. I have to say that we immediately found the ship impressive. Its size, fittings, artwork were all even better than the brochure. We were also very pleased to find the other passengers to be friendly, articulate and polite and felt very at home as we made our way to our cabin.The staff were all very welcoming and professional. Having travelled on Ocean Village to be addressed with a smile by everyone was very appreciated and unexpected. We had decided to literally "push the boat out" on this occasion because we had been offered such a good deal, and book a mini suite or as Ventura now calls them a Deluxe Superior Balcony stateroom E729. On arrival there was bottle of Champagne chilling on the table, a box of lovely chocolates and a bowl of fresh flowers.The room surpassed our expectations with a king-size (or larger) for my husband and I. We had a nice surprise to find that contrary to all we had been told the girls did not have to share the double sofa bed as there was also a drop down pull man single berth in the ceiling. Although the sofa bed would have been fine, separate beds did prevent a lot of arguments. Our cabin steward, the excellent Rockie, prepared the room daily and advised us that all our cabin grade had this arrangement on Ecuador Deck. The room was spacious with a great bathroom with a full size bath and lots of wardrobe space which accommodated everything except my husbands shoes (which he kept under the bed.) The sofa was huge and the balcony excellent with comfortable reclining chairs and footstools. Having a covered balcony made for a very private space and we did not feel we missed any sun because of it. The balcony was a first for us and worth every penny. We loved waking up to see the port arrival and spent many leisurely mornings eating room service breakfast on the balcony whilst the children slept off their late nights. Room service was great and so easy to order over the interactive TV. Having the balcony also meant we did not feel under pressure to get out early to grab a sun bed. We preferred, due to a combination of not liking it too hot and laziness, to leave going to the sun decks until later afternoon. We then avoided the busy laguna and beachcomber pulls and headed aft to the areas above the Terrace pool which were very quiet with a lovely breeze to keep cool. Most sea days we saw little of the girls, they slept late and then headed to the pool to meet friends, grab some lunch or watch a movie. Port days they accompanied us on brief cultural sight seeing trips (always under duress, with cries of " yes its great but when can we go back to the ship?") or a more popular day on the beach at Corsica and Cannes. The exception was Gibraltar where we all greatly enjoyed the private taxi tour up the rock to see the apes which was lots of fun and excellent value for money at £56 for the four of us. The free shuttle buses into town were very well organised and we were impressed at Barcelona to find Officers waiting to help us onto the return shuttle.The only disappointing port was Alicante where we found the town beach easily, bought a lilo and hired sunbeds only to realise that the sea was filthy soup of disgusting floating debris, too offensive to describe, body temperature and slightly sticky. Not a good combination which persuaded us to abandon our sun beds and beat a hasty retreat back to the ship to hot showeres and disinfecting our swimwear.( The laundrette was very good and free to use but take your own washing powder.) We chose Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon as we were travelling with friends and this gave us the flexibility to dine together or alone as we wished. We were given a pager if a table was not available and could get a cocktail whilst waiting for a table. We found this worked perfectly for us. We loved the food and the service was excellent. Indeed we also often took breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms as we enjoyed it so much. Afternoon Tea in the Saffron was also a favourite treat. We loved the Formal Nights and wished there had been more. My only regret was that I did not go more over the top with my frocks but I shall remedy this next time! My husband loved dressing in the dinner suit he had purchased for the trip and was so glad he had. The girls loved dressing up and we all had a whale of a time on these evenings which started with a gin and tonic in our cabin with ice and lemon supplied by the wonderful Rockie every afternoon. We enjoyed the evening entertainment, going to see a variety of shows, tribute acts party nights but for us the main event was dinner which we liked to linger over with good company. Day time activities were very good with lots of variety. We joined in the quizzes and dancing but there were lots of things we did not get time to try. The Sunday church service was a lovely experience. Disembarkation was smooth and easy. We decided to enjoy breakfast in the Bay Tree for one last time before leaving and found it a lovely, calm and tasty way to end our cruise. Overall we all had an excellent time and cannot wait to go again. We are now P&O converts. Yes it is very British and maybe less glitzy than some others but it suited us perfectly. We found the service, dining, accommodation and facilities to be excellent and great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
With all the bad press we had read before our first cruise we were worried we had made the choice of cruise ship. We shouldn't have worried! From the efficient check in to speedy disembarkation we had just the most wonderful time. ... Read More
With all the bad press we had read before our first cruise we were worried we had made the choice of cruise ship. We shouldn't have worried! From the efficient check in to speedy disembarkation we had just the most wonderful time. The ship is very high spec and is kept sparkling clean. The cabins were well appointed and had very roomy wardrobe space and well designed shower rooms. Our balcony stateroom had just been given a very welcome set of relining chairs which we made full use of. The room service was outstanding, our children's clutter was tidied for them more than once each day, much to my embarrassment! Our children loved the activities available, the freedom of eating at the Frankie's Diner throughout the day and of course the pools. We enjoyed the lectures, the art talks and high quality evening entertainment. With only a couple of exceptions, the performances were of a very high standard. The food was remarkably good - we were astonished to hear some passengers complaining!! Whatever do they eat at home if they could find fault with the menu. It had recently been relaunched and offered a wide selection of appetising dishes, plus an extensive back up menu of plain chicken, steak, salmon or salad. Our waiter was unfailingly cheerful and efficient, but we found this level of service throughout. We booked a couple of P&O excursions but did our own thing for most of the stops. We enjoyed all the Ports of Call and found the information provided on ship really helpful. We hope to be able to travel on Ventura again and hope that other people won't be discouraged from joining us by other less favourable reviews.         Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
2 Young 30+ year olds -Started out on the P&O Oriana on the 9th May 2009 for a well deserved 14 night cruise across the med. From embarkation in Southhampton which took nearly 2 1/2 hours of queing, we were aboard the Oriana which we ... Read More
2 Young 30+ year olds -Started out on the P&O Oriana on the 9th May 2009 for a well deserved 14 night cruise across the med. From embarkation in Southhampton which took nearly 2 1/2 hours of queing, we were aboard the Oriana which we had heard so many good reviews about and on the surface the ship looked divine.  The ship was tastefully furbished with the old style and charm of former vessels with polished wood and chrome in plentyful supply and a delightful 'deco' Atrium which gave a sophisticated ambiance to the the centre of the ship.  However, the look of the ship and its copious facilities were soon out shadowed by the dreadful service and atmosphere that followed.  What P&O failed to highlight in any of their publicity was that the ship would not be suitable for middle-aged people or younger. The average age on the ship during our cruise was 70 which was probably brought down by the handful of babies and children on board. THIS IS THE NORM ACCORDING TO THE CREW, APART FROM A FEW WEEKS DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!!!  We have never seen so many old and infirm people and come 11.30pm the whole place became a ghost ship with few bars or facilities staying open due to P&O's bar policy of 'if there are less than 10 people in the bar it closes'. All bar 1 night, when the band kindly stayed up with us, we had NO night life!!  During the day was not much better, especially during days at sea when the itinarary was totally geared towards the elderly clientelle e.g. flower arranging, bingo and ballroom dancing. To cut a long story......we had a terrible time, most of our excursions were cancelled due to lack of numbers.....please make note that the exciting excursions like sail and swim, gladiator training in Rome WILL be cancelled as the older passengers would not be able to partake in such activities. Also,most of the crew seemed unhappy and unmotivated, especially the Admin services we complained to. Having complained to the Admin services and stated our concerns they said this was the norm and if we wanted to we could swop to the Ventura also docked in Barcelona for a further £1200, despite the fact that the Ventura cruise was cheaper than we had paid and 1 day shorter. Thanks P&O where is your customer service?? So onto the Ventura.....What a Ship!!, tastfully furbished with so many services that I could not list them all in a short review. The ship is huge with 19 decks.  The age group on board was mixed with an average of 50 years old so the bars, casino stayed open and daytime activities were varied.  From the moment we were onboard and met the crew all of them were so friendly, smiling and could not do enough for you.  The Admin Manager- Hayley Alexander (deserves to be named for the service she provided) was outstanding and arranged an upgrade, ensured we were treated well and even got us to meet the captain and visit the bridge.  Overall, all the crew were outstanding and made our cruise so special making up for the dreadful service on the Oriana. The entertainment was top class and as good as the West End with breathtaking dance choreography and stunning vocals from a highly talented cast.  Around the ship you will find all kinds of activities from vocal impersonators, divas, black jack tournaments, karaoke, pianists, small bands, magicians, cinema and much more. We were pampered in the well equipped spa and were able to tone up in the excellent gym facilities. Again, staff were delightful and very experienced. Excursions were well planned and good value for money. Finally, take no notice of the negative reviews about Ventura's food and restaurant services as they were excellent all round. From fine dining in the East Restaurant (which we would highly recommend) to freedom dining in the Cinnamon restaurant and casual dining in the Waterside and on deck the food was plentiful, excellently preapared and very tasty in deed.  For all you folks thinking about trying out Cruising for the first time or if you are young at heart then look no further than the Ventura as this beauty will be hard to beat on all fronts from- faclitilties, freindliness of crew, food, entertainment and all round cruising experience, excellent!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Our Baltic cruise was very nice. We didn't know any capitals of Northern Europe so we got an impression. The itinerary: We started in Southampton. The boarding was very easy and it didn't take many time. Every town was great - ... Read More
Our Baltic cruise was very nice. We didn't know any capitals of Northern Europe so we got an impression. The itinerary: We started in Southampton. The boarding was very easy and it didn't take many time. Every town was great - no matter whether Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Oslo or Kristiansand. Not many Baltic cruises have Norwegian ports - our cruises had!! 2 days in St. Petersburg are important to see all sights!!! The ship: The ship was very new and very clean. In comparison to Crown Princess there were some differences but not many. The crew was friendly and they did a good job. Very good: We could eat when we wanted to do that - no fixed eating times in the evening. The food was good and the ship had many restaurants, bars and eateries. There were many facilities to do something in your freetime. The stateroom: Our balcony stateroom was very beautiful. We could relax there on the big balcony. This was my cruise review. I highly would recommend this ship or the sister ship "Azura" for the Baltic cruises. I look forward to our Norway cruise (jul 17) on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Well what can I say..once we had booked I have looked at all the reviews that everyone have been leaving for the Ventura..all very mixed so in one respect I was a little worried to what we were going to find!! The only gripe we had was ... Read More
Well what can I say..once we had booked I have looked at all the reviews that everyone have been leaving for the Ventura..all very mixed so in one respect I was a little worried to what we were going to find!! The only gripe we had was when we arrived at the port to board the ship..we had to join a very long queue ..think it took the best part of an hour to board etc..but once we checked in at the desk we were on our way,just like airport check-in..once you have gone through the scanner you continue through another doorway and there is a photographer there snapping everyone as they go through..if I new itt was gping to be posted on the photo gallery boards we would have been a bit more enthusiastic and not looked so suprised..im sure you all know what I mean..looking at them on the gallery board there are some funny ones!!..anyway once aboard we could start our holiday.the Atrium is just fabulous..everywhere bigger and better than peoples pictures and video's..cabin towels changed twice a day..I think Jowel our cabin steward could have changed our sheets more than just the once though and that wasnt till the second week,also the carpet could have been vacuumed a few times aswell.our cabin was the 12th deck midship so we didnt have any noise..so that was a plus for us..think we would go for a window or balcony next time..as when you walk along the corridors you see other cabins with the doors open..so so bright,would be nice to wake up and look out the window .. The food is good so much to eat..if you want too,we had breakfast and lunch in the waterside and the beachhut..we had freedom dining so we had dinner in cinnamon..its huge!! excellent quality..service perfect..couldnt fault it at all.No way would you think you were at sea having dinner..just perfect. Entertainment was fine..(Fogwell Flax was very good comedian)Also Robbie Williams impersonater was very good also.. There were lots of more mature passengers onboard over the age of 65/70 plus..not many children,we didnt use the pools as the children were in them most daylight hours.. The sail aways were very entertaining..the last one leaving Gibraltar was the best I thought..and we did join in!! Lots of places you can go and have a sitdown in and have a drink...by the way you dont pay for tea/coffee etc when you are eating in the waterside or the beachhut..have as many as you like its self service. I thought there would be more shops onboard,also they have special sale days and bring out tables selling perfume,watches,jewellery etc but one of the tables looked abit like a carboot with loads of cheap bags and watches etc didnt look very good to me!! On the formal nights the photographers come out and ask if you would like your picture taken..as we all look very good with our posh togs on..range from £5.95 upwards think we purchased 5 in all..as they also take your picture when you go ashore..mind you ..you dont have to buy them if you dont want to..there were loads and loads unsold. We had good weather after a few dull days,we came home with a nice suntan which was even better. You do get a mix of people on the ship.. there was no noisey people on the cruise thank goodness..plenty of people in wheelchairs young and old,not a problem,plenty of lifts and stairs to keep you fit!! Sunbeds if you wanted one..plenty of them. You dont go to the bar for a drink the barstaff/stewards come to you all the time!!...prices are average,cocktails from 2.65 upwards . The Arena theatre is large but still if you dont get there early enough for the first show etc you wont get a seat..its a lovely theatre. Once again this was our first cruise on ventura..and yes we would love to go on her again..but wont do all the destinations..as we are supposed to be relaxing not getting up early to get coaches at 8am.. Also I took far to many clothes as you do..only 2 cases next time!! my husband and I are in our 50s/60s and we went with friends of simular age. Ventura we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Flight 9 hrs, leg space sufficient although quite narrow. Complimentary bar throughout flight. Disembark aircraft straight onto coach then within 30 mins arrive at barbados port and first breath-taking sight of the ventura. Following ... Read More
Flight 9 hrs, leg space sufficient although quite narrow. Complimentary bar throughout flight. Disembark aircraft straight onto coach then within 30 mins arrive at barbados port and first breath-taking sight of the ventura. Following security and credit card registration we were let loose on the biggest ship I've ever seen. We flew out on friday so had overnight in port then all day saturday in barbados plus half empty ship. All port reviews follow. Cabin was clean, and comfortable, with clean cotton sheets and duvet covers, the mattress was soooo comfy. Clean towels when required and of good quality and size. Food at all the standard restaurants was nice, always found much than than I needed to eat (and gained 10 pounds) Most of passengers on board appeared pleasant, courteous and enjoying themselves but in a well behaved way. I did unfortunately encounter one woman who 'hated everything and every minute' of being aboard, so gave her a wide berth! We always managed to get a sunbed 4 together most times, even on sea days, so I was happy about that famous complaint. The only few negative points of my experience are: Lack of ladies toilets, 1- unable to find them! 2- when found, always in a queue due to there only being 2 or 3. Also the entertainment, I felt terribly disappointed with the shows in the arena theatre, the dancers talent varies greatly, therefore poor co ordination with each other, also fed up with storyless type performances, it felt like a talent show most of the time. Other venues entertainment also poor, guest acts are all take off acts eg elton john, robbie williams, bee gees and some MIME! Also resident acts- appalling quality, especially a 'duo' of guys -ve personality and no audience command, singing to backing track (although could of sworn every third song was 'sweet caroline') very disappointing PO! Thank god for the comedians, but why some only get to perform in havana baffles me ???? Standing room only for foggy flax both nights. Fortunately we had and good company for this not to spoil our holiday Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
As we approached Ventura after the long but comfortable flight from London Gatwick Airport to Barbados airport, the first view of the ship gave the impression of a multistory block of flats, but this view was soon to change after we ... Read More
As we approached Ventura after the long but comfortable flight from London Gatwick Airport to Barbados airport, the first view of the ship gave the impression of a multistory block of flats, but this view was soon to change after we embarked. The one thing that P&O Cruises do exceptionally well, are their transfer arrangements in Barbados. Luggage is transferred directly from the aircraft to your cabin. Coaches meet you near the aircraft steps and swiftly convey you to the ship, similarly at the end of the cruise luggage is transferred from the ship to your final airport destination and customs and immigration formalities are completed on-board prior to disembarkation. This saves a lot of hassle at the airport both on arrival and departure. On entering the ship, we were extremely pleased to find that she was tastefully decorated in rich colors, with a feel of spaciousness. There were plenty of comfortable chairs and settees, ideal for curling up and spreading out with a book. Traditional P&O style elegance abounded. All public spaces inside were spotlessly clean and remained this way throughout the cruise. On this cruise, we had chosen a balcony cabin on deck 11, port side. The cabin was compact and comfortable. There was good storage space and the added bonus of having tea and coffee-making facilities in the room was appreciated. The bathroom was adequate with excellent toiletries provided and the large fluffy towels were changed twice daily. There was an ample supply of hot water. There is an excellent interactive television system that offers many choices- from television channels to ordering in-cabin room service and to choose free and pay movies. You can shop, gain information - look at your on-board account and many other actions from this facility. Guests should also be aware that this service also acts as your messaging system. The comfort of the bed was average; it certainly did not have the "wow" factor. The covering was a flimsy duvet, which was not large enough to be tucked in and more often than not ended up on the floor. There is a good air-conditioning system, and there is adequate lighting and a refrigerator. Bathrobes are not provided on board, except in mini-suites and above. The balcony, of adequate size was furnished with two upright chairs and a very small low-level table. There was absolutely no privacy on the balcony as owing to the construction of the ship, the majority of balconies on decks 9, 10 and 11 are tiered --be aware of this fact when booking - we could look down to those below and they could look up at us. Additionally because of the design of the ship, conversations could clearly be heard from balconies three or four cabins away. The room was maintained in an excellent condition and serviced twice daily. There are three formal dining rooms on board - two for "club dining" - 1st and 2nd seating and the third for "anytime" dining. There are also other various specialist and casual dining venues. We found the food to be consistently of a high quality in all dining venues -plenteous and varied and especially designed to the British palate in the main restaurant and casual style buffet. The only disappointment was the very limited choice of breads. In the main Restaurant, dinner was well presented and expertly served. Great care is taken to cater for guests who have dietary requirements. Unfortunately breakfast in the main restaurant lacked any presentation skills whatsoever - breakfasts looked as if they had been just thrown on a plate. Yoghurts should be served in a dish and not presented in the container itself. The ship had over 3000 guests on board and never once, even on sea days did we have to queue or wait for seats in the self-service buffet. Dishes were replenished often and hot food was hot and cold food was cold. There are no free juices, other than at breakfast time. Free tea; with lots of different blends and coffee are available here 24 hours a day. There is a full and varied programme of entertainment, outlined in the Daily Newspaper - The Horizon. There is something for everyone. We found the production shows and most of the guest entertainers to be excellent offering professional and varied programmes. For a ship of this size, the Cruise Director and his limited number of staff did a great job. They were highly visible all over the ship, a pity the same could not be said of the officers, and gave the impression of being a most happy and caring team. Even on days when ports of call were cancelled due to bad weather, within a reasonable time, additional entertainment was arranged and relayed to guests. They are to be congratulated! There are the usual on-board shops offering a good selection of goods and usually at competitive prices, do be aware that the shop selling those items that you may have forgotten to bring with you, is, if they have not run out of goods, fairly expensive. There are free launderettes on board, but you have to purchase soap powder from this outlet. They charge 50p for 2 concentrated soap tablets. There is a luxurious spa offering various treatments and therapies. They do offer specials and details of these are messaged to you through your in interactive cabin television as are shop "sales" as well as being advertised in the daily newspaper. There is a well-equipped gym. Internet facilities are available. Although expensive - take advantage of the packages available and the special offers advertised. Specials are also available for the speciality restaurants. There is an excellent and knowledgeable Shore Excursion Team and tours bought from the ship are reasonably well priced and good in content. Occasionally, some tours do not reach their expected standards and to which they have no control - they do however listen and investigate and take appropriate action. There is a Future Cruise Consultant on board, who is most anxious to sell you a future cruise. Beware! She quoted us a price for the same itinerary and on the same ship next Christmas at a cost of £8600.00. We were horrified at this cost. We went next door to the Internet centre and checked P & O`s web site and found the same cruise, although in a different grade of cabin, but in a grade on the same deck with the same facilities, and almost next door to the one that she quoted for £4300.00. We returned a few days later to her, after having again checked our facts and confronted her with our information. You can guess her embarrassment. We asked her to check again and guess what? You are right. Obviously someone who works on a commission basis? We had originally booked the Christmas and New Year Cruise on the Oceana for 2009. However after a number of months, having paid the deposit and received confirmation - P&O cancelled the 2-week cruise and extended it into a 4-week cruise. We were offered a transfer to the 4-week cruise at a supplement - but as we could not get time of work had to decline. We were offered very minimal compensation if we were to book a further cruise with P&O within a specific time frame. We asked to be transferred to the Ventura but were told that P&O would not honor the price available at the time of our original booking, even though they had the advantage of having our deposit for some 5 months. The price had risen by £1000.00 - we did however receive our deposit back in full. Gone it appears are the days of honorability. Administration on the ship and Head Office leaves a lot to be desired. We had a query re on-board credit. The ship e-mailed their Head Office on 21 December and followed the query up with further e-mails - no response was received by the time we disembarked on 2 January and thus we did not receive the credit due to us. Additionally notifications originating from the Pursers Office were In-correct - especially in respect of disembarkation - these had to be withdrawn and re-issued on a number of occasions. Likewise in respect of the 1st edition of the Port information issued in respect of St. Vincent - the information provided actually related to the Azores - what a waste of paper, time and money - more attention to detail is required in this department. The Ships`s photographers do and good job and produce fine quality photographs, together with an excellent DVD of the cruise. Individual photographs tend to be expensive, but again packages are available. This was a Christmas and New Year Cruise and the ship was discreetly and sensitively decorated. There were excellent festal activities. There were, I understand over 700 children on board. This being the case P&O are to be congratulated on their programmes and organized events for those guests as they were very seldom seen and certainly not heard - most well-behaved and a credit to their parents and staff. The facilities for kids and teenagers are outstanding. Dress Code on the ship fell into 3 categories - formal, semi -formal and smart casual. It was pleasing to not that the majority of guests adhered to the dress code especially on formal evening. Following this cruise however, the dress code for this ship and the Oceana fall into only 2 categories - Formal and Smart Casual. There are numerous bars and other venues for drinks throughout the ship. Quiet bars, energetic bars or pool bars. Drinks are well-presented or excellent quality (except at the Captains Cocktail party - where they appeared to lack in alcoholic content) and were reasonably priced. There is a comprehensive wine list again not overly priced. The currency on board is the British Pound. In keeping with the P&O tradition, gratuities are extended on the final evening of the cruise by way of cash in envelopes. Although if you opt for Anytime dining, your gratuity for the waiters in this regard is added to your on-board account. Do be sure that you bring enough sterling for these gratuities. We had planned to withdraw cash at a facility at Gatwick Airport but it was out of order. Fortunately we had enough cash to cover the gratuities, as the Pursers office do not cash personal cheques. There are 3 modest sized swimming pools (one of which is reserved for adults) on board as well as a number of Jacuzzi's. Whilst there are large deck areas with sun beds, there are insufficient sun beds or space for the number of passengers on this ship. - There is just not the amount of required space and beds are so tightly squeezed together and you have to climb on to the sun bed and then sit on it. It does not help when passengers reserve sun beds for hours with their towels and then come along and remove their towels and walk away not having even sat in them. One morning at 7.45am all sun beds were occupied by towels and yet no sun worshippers. P & O do not have a policing policy on this issue - they need to adopt one - this was one of the major factors of discontent on this cruise. A suggestion as to how this might be alleviated is that the upright chairs on balconies be removed and replaced with reclining chairs, like those on the promenade deck. Many guests occupying such cabins would quite possibly tend to spend more time relaxing there than to fight for a sun bed on the open decks. Excellent reclining chairs are provided on the promenade deck. However as the ship has a strict no-smoking policy inside the vessel - many smokers tend to congregate on the starboard side of this deck as it is within easy reach of the bars, entertainment areas, restaurants and night club for their smoke. More ashtrays are needed and those broken need to be fixed and all need to be emptied more often than they are now. This deck also needs to be cleaned more regularly. Some guests on deck 8 - starboard aft, complained about the smoke drifting up from this deck and on to their balconies. They also complained about the noise experienced from these cabins during the early hours of the morning, when smokers from the night-club gathered on this deck. Noise was a constant problem when late night revellers were returning to their cabins in various areas of the ship when the discotheque closed at around 4.00am. There were reports that there were a number of fights on board and those guests were locked up in the brig, but we never witnessed any such fights or any real drunkenness. Unfortunately on the first week of the cruise, the weather was not kind, rain, winds and high seas. This resulted in the ship not being able to dock at 3 of the ports of call. The ship handled well during these conditions whilst at sea. However, it was disappointing that we missed these important ports of calls. Obviously something to do with the size of the ship and its design as guests on other cruise ships and on those of a similar or larger size had no port cancellations. She appeared to the able to dock when in the Caribbean but not at those ports at the edge of the Atlantic. As our fare had included port taxes and charges, it will be interesting to see if P&O refund these to the passengers as they would not have had to pay them and we did not avail of these services. The foregoing are thoughts and/or suggestions and are by no means complaints. They are also designed to assist others when planning their cruise vacation, as to some things that they may wish to consider. In all, we had an excellent cruise and would certainly travel with P&O again. P & O market the ship more towards families, but we feel that the Ventura is suitable for all, couples singles as well as families. We thoroughly enjoyed the traditional P&O experience and would recommend them without reservation. Well Done to all those who made this possible. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Please enter your review. We loved our cruise on the Ventura. We flew to Barbados with Thomson (First Choice aircraft) and we particularly liked the fact that when we checked in our bags at Gatwick that was the last we saw of them until ... Read More
Please enter your review. We loved our cruise on the Ventura. We flew to Barbados with Thomson (First Choice aircraft) and we particularly liked the fact that when we checked in our bags at Gatwick that was the last we saw of them until we arrived in our cabin! We have never experienced this before; it was great! This was also the case on the way back. Only one gripe with the flight; we got exactly the same seats on the way back as we had on the way there. This meant that if you were luckily enough to get extra leg room seats on the way out you got them on the way back too. Equally if you were not sat together on the way out as we were, you were also not together on the way back. I don't know how they can get around this because it was nice to arrive at Barbados and go straight through security without having to check in bags. The first sight of the boat at Barbados was impressive to say the least. It is a large vessel but once on board and once you get your bearings it doesn't feel it. We thought it was a large ship divided into manageable areas. We were on Club dining second sitting and found the food in The Bay Tree to be of good quality and the service was excellent. We tried East and The White Room and found them both to be superb both in terms of the quality of the food and the service. Certainly worth paying extra for in our view. We had breakfast and lunch in one of the buffet restaurants and always found the food available to be of good quality and plentiful (unfortunately!).We never tried breakfast or lunch on the main restaurant. On the days that we were on trips at lunchtime we opted for Afternoon Tea which was a real treat with lovely sandwiches and cakes, scones, etc. As if that wasn't enough the "midnight munchies" were well taken care of as well! On the whole we enjoyed the entertainment on offer. We caught a few of the shows in the Arena theatre. The comic magician was good but we weren't so keen on the Irish comic on there one night. The variety shows by the theatre company were profession and well staged but weren't really out thing. We enjoyed the comics in the Havana bar but weren't so keen on the tribute acts (what would cruise ships do without "Stars in Their Eyes"?!? We liked a pre-dinner drink in the Red Bar especially on formal nights as it was a great place to admire all the lovely outfits! We thought Metropolis was a sophisticated venue but it wasn't that well used and we thought it lacked a bit of atmosphere. The video wall was impressive though. There was a piano in there but we never heard anyone playing it. Some life entertainment up there would have helped. Ramblas was also under-used; it was never busy which was a shame as it was a lovely venue. We liked the Tamarind Club as well and thought Siobhan Phillips was a great singer. We could have done without the "Game Shows" though. As other reviewers have mentioned the sun bed situation is a problem. I don't think I have ever been anywhere either on land or sea where this hasn't been an issue and I don't know what the answer is. There were so many you can hardly walk between them but you still struggle to get one! However if you are patient and keep looking you can always find one somewhere so it is really only a minor gripe. On our cruise we had four formal nights and the rest were smart casual. We loved the formal nights as it is lovely to get all dressed up and see everyone else all dressed up but we thought that three formal nights would have been enough. We really enjoyed the deck parties. We went to East the night of the Beach/Pirate party so only caught the end of the Theatre company show. It did seem to be going on a bit so we weren't sorry we missed it, but the party by the entertainment staff after was great fun. We also really enjoyed the sailaway sing songs. I think some people aren't keen and there was talk of stopping them but I think this would be a shame. The gym was well equipped but I don't think you should have to pay £7 for a fitness class. That being said the Zumba class was great fun and a good workout too. All in all we had no complaints about our cruise and would certainly go on Ventura again. We loved it!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Arriving at Barbados Airport, we were hit by the heat and the wonderful welcome. We were then escorted quickly and efficiently to a bus which took us to our Ship, The Ventura, along charming country lanes. Our first glimpse at the Ship ... Read More
Arriving at Barbados Airport, we were hit by the heat and the wonderful welcome. We were then escorted quickly and efficiently to a bus which took us to our Ship, The Ventura, along charming country lanes. Our first glimpse at the Ship left us with mouths wide open. It was enormous and so impressive. The embarkation process was swift and before we knew it, we boarded the vessel with our account cards. The ship was very easy to navigate and we were soon in our cabin. The cabin was beautifully appointed with a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, and dressing table, lit bedside tables and a balcony, from which we enjoyed the views of the Bridgetown harbor and a wonderful sunset. We did find that the cabin was made up with twin beds, but we informed our cabin steward, Angel, and she said that during dinner she would remake the bed into a double. We didn't even have to worry about our bags, as we were told they would be brought directly to our door. So we took the opportunity to explore the ship and have some dinner in our allocated restaurant, Cinnamon. We had chosen the option of Freedom dining, which meant that you weren't restricted to a certain time, this for us was by far the best way, as it allowed us to make the most of the plentiful activities available. The Cinnamon restaurant provided a diverse range of dishes, along with an extensive wine list. The food was always delicious and served in a very prompt and professional manner. There were tables of two available as well as larger tables, giving you the choice of an intimate meal or an opportunity to meet fellow passengers. For a more informal meal, at any time of the day or night, there were the buffet style restaurants, Waterside and Beach House. Again, the standard of cuisine was very high, and was a good option for varying appetites, as it is self service. A must are the Select Dining restaurants, Marco Pierre White's 'White Room', and East, serving Pacific Rim cuisine. We enjoyed dinner at each and the food was of the highest quality. There are many activities available throughout the day and night, including dance lessons, circus workshops, quizzes, fitness programmes, computing classes, golfing tuition, concerts... the list is endless, and it is just up to you as to the level of involvement. For us, we didn't do masses but it was always easy to join in, as a list of the daily schedule was published in the on board newspaper, Horizon. For those passengers concerned about the presence of children on board, there are equally as many activities organized for them, so much so that we hardly noticed them at all. There were a wide variety of shore excursions, tailored to the needs of every age group. We only did a few but they were very well organized and meant that you didn't have to worry about the time and when you had to be back on board. We visited Virgin Gorda whilst in the British Virgin Islands, a trip that we can both highly recommend. The beaches here were idyllic and we really didn't want to leave. Another benefit of the shore excursions organized through Ventura was that they are cost effective due to the transport being provided for you to and from the venue, similar trips can be taken but will usually mean more money, and again, no guarantee that you will be returned to the ship in a timely fashion. For quieter days, especially those spent at sea, we chose to make use of the deck areas for sunbathing and swimming. There is always someone at hand to serve you a refreshing cocktail or two! The service provided by the crew is first rate. You never want for anything. When it came to disembarkation, the process was very easy, all bags were taken straight from your cabin door to the plane and left you with a very relaxed trip back. All in all, the cruise was totally different from how we had anticipated, and dispelled our stereotypical ideas. We really enjoyed it, the first class service, a wonderful ship and a great climate. For a first time cruise, we hit the jackpot and would recommend it to anyone of any age. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
From the moment we checked in it was so well organized and easy. Straight off the plane, into a coach and to the ship. The check in staff were really friendly. We had never been on a cruise ship before and it was amazing from the moment ... Read More
From the moment we checked in it was so well organized and easy. Straight off the plane, into a coach and to the ship. The check in staff were really friendly. We had never been on a cruise ship before and it was amazing from the moment we stepped on board. We were told were we would find our cabin and it was so easy to find. My wife and I spent the first hour walking around with our mouths open in amazement! The cabin was spacious and clean with lovely furniture. The beds are so comfortable with big fluffy pillows. We had tea & coffee facilities, an amazing bathroom (the wife loved the shower as it was so powerful!), nice shower gel which meant we didn't need to use our own. We had a balcony with table and two chairs (I sat there every morning with my binoculars as we sailed into a new port). The first night we were put on first sitting dining but we wanted to change to late or freedom. The staff were so helpful and told us that if we went on the first sitting that night (which was fine as we wanted an early night) then we could go on freedom the following night. And the next night we moved to freedom. It worked very well for us. Most night we shared tables of either 6 or 8 and we met some really nice people, this made dining a very social event. The food was excellent - all courses were great. Mrs G never had the soup as she found it too much buy I often went for all courses. If there was not a main course that you wanted then you could ask for a steak - which I did once and it was good! Water was always available on the table so you don't need to buy a bottle. We went to both the White Room and East - these were something else. We both felt very treated and looked after. On port days we went for breakfast in the buffet. A good choice, I always had a fry up but the wife went for the fruit and cereal. On days at sea we ordered breakfast in the cabin which was free and delivered to the balcony for us. There was lots of entertainment. We never went in to the Tamarind Club for dancing as I have two left feet! But people at dinner said it was good. We tended to go to the Arena every night and watch either a show by the Ventura dance group (the Andrew Lloyd Webber night was out of this world)or a comedian - Peter Piper had the place in up roar - brilliant! Went in Havana a couple of nights for a disco and one night was a crew talent show (this was very funny and some really good singers).Our last late night drink was always in Metropolis - very relaxed. The staff could not do enough for you, our cabin stewards was a lovely man. On one day when we were sea all day we decided to spend the day sitting on the balcony reading - our cabin steward did not want to come in and disturb us so he telephoned us and asked when would be suitable for him to clean the room - very good service. He was always busy and always around incase we needed him. We never did a planned excursion and always went out to explore alone. This was our first ever cruise and always thought it would be an expensive holiday but we were shocked that it wasn't when you look at what you get for your money. We have been all inclusive hotels before but this was on another level. We are hooked and are all set for another cruise. It was one of the best holidays we have ever been on and were completely treated for two weeks. One word - Fantastic! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
N818 Sailed on Ventura 24th October/7th November. Coach from Manchester to Southampton was early and efficient and after putting cases on coach never saw them again until arrived at cabin on board. Embarkation was smooth and quick (25 ... Read More
N818 Sailed on Ventura 24th October/7th November. Coach from Manchester to Southampton was early and efficient and after putting cases on coach never saw them again until arrived at cabin on board. Embarkation was smooth and quick (25 mins from coach to boarding) and we were on board by 12.50 having lunch in the waterside restaurant. Got call that cabin was ready about 1.45 and headed down to C deck. Lovely well-appointed cabin with balcony (about 9ftX9ft) and walk in wardrobe with enough hanging space for both of us. Tea and coffee making facilities in cabin with complimentary biscuits. Yes the ship is huge (sure there were some places we never saw!) and not signed very well but finding your way round is part of the adventure. Bars. Our favorite was Tamarind club although didn't like the idea of it being walk through to other parts of ship which was off putting when watching shows in there. Metropolis is a lovely bar too but through the day seems very under used. Red bar is an extension of the atrium but ok for a drink and people watching. Exchange bar we were not impressed with, seemed just like any local bar in UK and where sport was shown so only went in there once. Ramblas we liked too and could get tapas in there (3 for £2.50) which was nice for a snack. You could also get light meal in there (£5) but never tried that. Restaurants. We used Waterside/Beachcomber (self service) for breakfast and lunch and we found the food and service in there very good and always managed to find seating after a couple of minutes of searching. We started off on freedom dining and although we never had to wait to be seated and service was good, we didn't take to dining with different company each night so switched to club after 3 nights. We were on a table with some wonderful company and enjoyed every evening meal. Choice of 3 starters, 2 soups, 4 main course and 3 deserts plus ice cream etc (and still some people complained not enough choice) and all very tasty. If nothing on menu was not to your liking could order steak or chicken. On deck. Sun-beds are plentiful but very tightly packed so was interesting watching people getting on/off them but we never found it a big problem getting one after a little searching. The pools are kept nice and clean and yes there are children in them but it's a family ship and we had no problem with that. There is a 16yrs+ (endless) pool at front near the spa, which seemed nice but we never used it. Smoking (dreaded word) is allowed on open areas starboard side and this seemed to work well and on this cruise heard no complaints and everyone seemed to adhere to the rules. Entertainment. Went to all the major shows in the Arena theatre and the production was excellent although thought the content in some of them could have been better. Masquerade is by far the best show. Saw some good shows in other bars too (classical concerts in Tamarind very nice) tribute acts etc. Had a meal in the White room which was very nice and excellent service (£56 including wine) We had 9 sea days so had plenty of time to see most of the ship, and yes if you looked for negatives you could find them but why do that on holiday? We would definitely go on Ventura again if itinerary and price were right. All in all a very good and enjoyable holiday. Just my personal opinions :-) Alan Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
The first thing to say is that we had a really, really good time. Perhaps we're easily pleased, or uncritical, or something, but we found very little that was disappointing and nothing that seriously upset us or detracted from the ... Read More
The first thing to say is that we had a really, really good time. Perhaps we're easily pleased, or uncritical, or something, but we found very little that was disappointing and nothing that seriously upset us or detracted from the cruise. That said, we did pick the time and nature of the cruise carefully - I can imagine that a cruise in high summer, with up to 800 children on board, would be different. But on this cruise - 12 nights, late September/ early October, to the Canary Islands - we had a great time. The cabin was excellent. There isn't a huge amount of space around the bed, but there's enough. Most important of all is the walk-in hanging & shelf area, which takes up quite a bit of the floor area. This is an excellent use of the space, in our opinion, and the fact that all our clothes storage was away from the 'living' part of the cabin made the latter more friendly. One other benefit - it was god to have the walk-in hanging space between the main part of the cabin and the bathroom. We also enjoyed the balcony. it's quite a sun-trap; the weather on this cruise wasn't especially hot but when we got the sun on the balcony it was pretty roasting out there. There again, that might have been due to the latitude - at 28 degrees north, any direct sun is going to be fairly fierce. Food. Dinner: we were on Club Dining, and were assigned to second sitting in the Bay Tree restaurant. Our experiences at dinner were good. If I was being really critical then I might say that I sometimes found it hard to select a starter or soup (usually 3 starters and 2 soups on the menu). Val on the other hand had no problems with these but on occasion found that the main courses were a little fancy - by the end of the cruise she was yearning for plainer fare. One thing she has asked me to add - it wasn't clear from the menu that there were off-menu standard choices available, or what these were. She might have wanted to try them, especially if they were a bit simpler. Breakfast: we had breakfast in the Saffron restaurant every day. What we liked about this was that you could have as much or as little as you wanted, in civilized surroundings. I generally had just orange juice, Alpen & toast, but a few days I also had a single solitary poached egg. Val found room for a cooked breakfast more often than I did. Lunch: we started by using the buffet, and the food here was good. However we found that by the time we had put a representative sample of the available choices on our plates, they were piled high. So we looked for alternatives. Our favorite was tapas at Ramblas, which we had four times. Excellent. Twice we had lunch in the restaurant (Cinnamon, I think), which was very good; however, the occasions when I went to bed feeling really uncomfortable were these two days, I had simply eaten too much over the day. We did not take afternoon tea. Overall we were very happy with the food on board. Bars: we only used some of the bars. We never used Havana; just too brightly lit, too noisy, and how do you see the stage with those high partitions? We also never used Exchange - too smoky, and (in Val's opinion) not very attractive anyway. I was surprised to find that Exchange is basically the on-board pub - when I read the original marketing stuff about Ventura I'm sure it described Exchange as an 'urban warehouse wine bar', which sounded quite attractive. In fact, it's the ship's pub: smoky (though changed now, I believe), sports TV programmes, karaoke. We used Tamarind Club once or twice, usually connected with entertainment, and it was OK. That leaves the Red Bar, Metropolis and Ramblas, and we kept shuttling between these three. We enjoyed all of them; Ramblas in the middle of the day, Red Bar for pre-dinner (and occasionally post-dinner) drinks, and Metropolis for after dinner. The famous video wall didn't do much for me, to be truthful, but it certainly wasn't objectionable, just a bit strange. We liked the two 'round the corner' wings, from which you can see along the length of the ship. Entertainment: we picked and chose what we wanted. We saw two shows - one (Grand Illusion) was good, the other (Explosion) we didn't enjoy - very noisy. We also saw the comedian Martin Beaumont, and the entertainer Kevorkian. Other people seemed to have Jane Beaumont (singer) and a show of Lloyd Webber songs. Itinerary: A mixed bag. We hadn't realized that Santa Cruz and Las Palmas aren't really tourist destinations in themselves, so based on that we can't see what the fuss is about as regards the Canary Islands. However, Funchal was good, and we certainly very much enjoyed the three calls on the Iberian coast: La Coruna, Lisbon and Vigo. Will we go back on Ventura? Yes, if the right itinerary at the right price becomes available in 2010. Either Ventura or her soon-to-be sister ship: 2010 should be her maiden year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
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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