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857 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

Our last cruise was on the Azura last January 2014 going round the Caribbean which defiantly had the Wow Factor which we though ally enjoyed enough to book another cruise with P&O & despite the Ventura being the sister ship to the ... Read More
Our last cruise was on the Azura last January 2014 going round the Caribbean which defiantly had the Wow Factor which we though ally enjoyed enough to book another cruise with P&O & despite the Ventura being the sister ship to the Azura it lacked any feel good factor. My wife enjoys sitting on deck during the day reading, whilst I usually go to any lectures, demonstrations & joining in the classes in the Gym. Considering what you pay for what you receive you used to get a massive amount of value for your money. But from talking to many other passengers there is better cruise company's out there for similar money, eg Celebrity. Sadly P&O are cutting back on what used to be all inclusive, now comes at a price attached. There are a small selection of daytime activities that are available all now with a hook!! Disguised as eg" Relieve back pain & walk in comfort" which translates to a foot insole at £119.00 a pair. Or "Back pain solutions" which translates in a Spa employee trying to flog sessions of Acupuncture at £93.00, even a gym class will cost you £5.00. If you might be interested in the Spa products, my advice is DONT, they are hugely overpriced & questionable weather they actually work or work as well as what they claim?. The food in the main buffet for breakfast & lunch is the same everyday & although you might not slag it of, you wouldn't write home about either. Passable. The quality & quantity in the main evening restaurant is ok, no more no less. We thought the Ventura is kept immaculacy clean all the time & is in reasonably good condition. Generally we enjoyed it, it was not as good as it was but nothing is, is it? Lets not forget this is a business like any other & the cost of everything keeps on escalating as it does in your weekly shopping. USEFUL TIPS & SUGGESTIONS FOR 1ST TIMERS & OTHERS. As this was our 5th cruise we are always looking at any savings we can make along the way. Eg. Don't bring your own shampoo & soap, it is supplied to you in your cabin. Although the tea on board is Twinning's which is ok I prefer my own so I bring Yorkshire tea bags. The instant coffee is Dow Egbert's which is ok. Bring 6 x 500lm empty plastic water bottles with you so you can fill them up free on board & take them assure with you. There is a 1litre electric kettle, 2 mugs & tea spoons in all cabins. Bring large food bags to make up sandwiches from the breakfast buffet to take assure, saves you buying lunch. P&O is the only cruise company I know that allows you to bring your own booze on board to drink in your cabin only, we took 6 litres of wine which was enough for a 2 week cruise, saves on the bar bill. Post cards of the ship are free at reception as many as you wont, postage is massive, take your cards assure & buy postage stamps at penny's not pounds. Get cash assure at ATM machines, the exchange rate on-board is not as good. Its a good idea to bring a spare pair of sun glasses in case you loose or break the ones you are using, they charge silly money on-board. Bring a light weight rain mac in case it rains as it sometimes does. Bring a beach bag for carrying your book etc from your cabin to the sun deck. If you have a inside cabin bring a small torch as its pitch black at night for finding your way to the loo. The photographs are £11.20 each on board, bring your own camera. Photocopy your passports & keep them with you at all times when assure in the unlikely event of you missing the ship you will have ID especially if the next stop is a different country. Always get a statement of your account half way though your cruise so you stay on top of what you are spending. Have a good look at your account & make sure all the items tally with your recites. Its a long story but they messed up big time with our statement in compensation they gave us a free meal in White Restaurant. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Having been disappointed on other cruise lines sailing from Venice due to the chaotic and drawn out Embarkation / Disembarkation organisation this was an absolute pleasure. We handed in our bags at Birmingham and only saw them in our ... Read More
Having been disappointed on other cruise lines sailing from Venice due to the chaotic and drawn out Embarkation / Disembarkation organisation this was an absolute pleasure. We handed in our bags at Birmingham and only saw them in our cabin. The marshalling and transfer of passengers was totally excellent and there were ample check in staff. last time there was only 3 this time there must have been around 30. If all P&O fly cruises are this easy, even though I hate the airport part, I will definitely do it again. Maybe part of it was Birmingham departures as this is a great, well organised airport to go from. All the security desks were open even early and there were security personnel waiting for us. Very different. If you haven't sailed out of Venice do so whilst you can as it is spectacular . Forget dinner (though we had the new P&O version of freedom dining - set dining room but turn up when you want) as the view is much more important. Quite spectacular and this is the third time I have sailed out but previously always had a couple of days in Venice on the way out and the way back as well. Food overall was plentiful and very good. Entertainment was not the best as we only saw the Headlines Theatre company twice ( we would go to see them every night given a chance) but the other acts were more than exceptional, especially the Motown Queens. Guest speakers were good, bar prices reasonable (cheap by US lines prices), we got to all the ports, the organisation at each was great ad the staff with the exception of 1 surly waiter were fantastic. What's not to like? This is our 5th P&O cruise on various ships and the overall quality is consistently high and the cruise value equally so We are trying the new Costa Diadema in a few weeks and are hoping that the fly and embarkation parts of the trip are as good, but past experience tells us otherwise. Hope we are surprised Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and ... Read More
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and temperatures never really dropped below 70 deg F. Saw some fabulous sights from our outside balcony including night time lightning at sea, a moody volcanic island and some fantastic port destinations. Food on board was good on the whole in the standard restaurants with plenty of choice beyond the staples. The trips we booked were OK - from the wonderful mountain views of Montenegro to the olive groves of Italy - though they all began to get a little samey. Judging from the comments we have heard from others, the trip to avoid was the extremely long drive into Rome from the nearest port town. In retrospect I wish that we had researched the trips a little more, and checked out some of these reviews, before we, errrm, took the plunge as it were and booked every single available trip! The "rest" days, which were days at sea, while enjoyable in themselves, we not sufficiently restful between port trips to recover properly, so I would advise to go it alone more often on the port visits rather than take group trips all of the time. The evening shows on board, while of a high quality, were really not my cup of proverbial tea. The shows were spectacular, while being mimed, visually stunning while seeing "tap dancing" without taps, so again entirely mimed to such an extent that you kept wandering what it was you were actually being entertained by. Another slight point of contention with P&O was the penny pinching and up selling you come across on board, all of the time. An example of the former being when we were sitting down, as a group of six, just before the show and the canapes came round.... but we were ignored because we did not buy any drinks! Given that we were a relatively large group paying thousands of pounds between us, we felt second class citizens at that moment! And an example of of upselling is the constant "sales" on board of jewelry, clothing etc in the shops, all at special discounts, though you can easily buy the same things onshore at even cheaper prices (in Euros) that the ship's sale prices (in pounds). Having said all that, would we do it again? Probably, but with more pre cruise research.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Having been on Ventura twice before I was looking forward to the cruise. I had had a balcony and inside cabins previously and chose an outside cabin for this cruise. The cabin was fine but the two pullman beds restricted movement and space ... Read More
Having been on Ventura twice before I was looking forward to the cruise. I had had a balcony and inside cabins previously and chose an outside cabin for this cruise. The cabin was fine but the two pullman beds restricted movement and space was limited with nowhere to sit in the cabin other than on the bed or the one chair at the dressing table. The bathroom was adequate and the hanging space for clothes was excellent though drawers were too few. The location of the cabin was excellent and quiet. Having taken advantage of an excellent price offered by a relatively late deal I knew there would be a 'variety' of clientele on board. However, it seems that P & O's policy of discounting certainly 'lowers the tone' somewhat. It beggars belief how some people can behave as they did, which was reflected in the number of people being ejected from the ship. Well done to P & O for doing this so discretely. I have to say how well P & O deal will matters. I understand why P & O discount fayres, but perhaps they should look at the way it is done that would maintain standards. However, on several occasions I saw inappropriate attire in the reastaurants. Silly hats and vests may be OK for some cruise lines and Butlins but if this is the direction P & O are heading it seems to be putting off the more 'traditional cruiser'. This probably sounds a bit snobby but quite frankly I don't want to spend my holidays with such people. The entertainment on board was generally very good with one ot two exceptions. The Headliners are a talented group of singers and dancers but it would have been nice to have more than backing tracks and pre-recorded vocals to support them, but I suppose it's the way the entertainment industry is these days which is driven by cost. One problem with 2nd sitting diners is that we were unable to see the shows in both the Arena and the Havana lounge due to the timings, so we had to make a choice. Meals were excellent but the withdrawal of silver service at dinner is a lowering dining standards and increases waste food. The Waterside buffet was fine but difficult to find a table for breakfast. I was a little uncomfortable with the system of deducting a set amount each day for tips 'for our convenience'. I consider myself to be a generous tipper having always tipped my cabin steward and dinner waiters with the odd tip here and there for other staff. Being uncertain as to where my tips would go I decided to remove the daily amount and was more comfortable tipping in person. I realise that this is so that P & O can reward all staff with tips more fairly, but this shouldn't be the responsibility of passengers. I doubt if I will travel on Ventura again unless it's an attractive itinerary. The sunbed saga persists and we read requests not to reserve them, but P & O do nothing to solve the problem themselves. P & O's organisation to and from ship is excellent particularly with regard to transfers and baggage. Ventura needs a quiet lounge area with comfy seating. Considering everything, I enjoyed the cruise. The vast majority of passengers on board were lovely people but the presence of a significant number of 'anti-sociables' reduced my enjoyment somewhat. I look forward to my next cruise with P & O. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our 6th cruise - 3rd with P&O. We booked for two reasons, it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary and the Ports of Call looked interesting. This was the largest ship we had been on, and like most other passengers we got lost lots ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise - 3rd with P&O. We booked for two reasons, it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary and the Ports of Call looked interesting. This was the largest ship we had been on, and like most other passengers we got lost lots of times! But it's makes for interesting discussion with others! We had an outside cabin on deck 12/A606 midship which was lovely. Bed was comfortable, room clean bathroom had everything you would need including shower gel shampoo & conditioner all by The White Company. Proper hairdryer in room. We were on freedom dining which suited our needs and most nights we were seated on a table for 6/8 people. You could have a table for two if you wanted. Food was lovely. We had one meal in Marcos White Restaurant and one meal in East......both highly recommended! On sea days we ordered breakfast in our cabin ( no extra charge for this). Other days we alternated between Saffron/ buffet.....some days it was a little awkward finding a table in the Buffet...but we always did. Afternoon tea was lovely! One tip if you go to Costa Coffee during afternoon tea you get a free cake with your coffee (but you have to ask for it). Entertainment was good, my only complaint is that people were leaving one show before the end, they were trying to rush to the next show at the other end of the ship in time to get a seat! Sunbeds are squashed together but we always managed to get two together. P&O are not very good at giving passengers that want to go off by themselves local information, I guess they want to sell you the trips, however, I believe they should at least offer some sort of map with bus numbers/stops etc. We only booked one trip...as we like to do our own thing! However, there was so much discussion in regard to travelling to Rome by yourself.....the staff saying that people can get stranded if the trains go on strike etc. it cost £90 for the two of us. It was a little rushed once in Rome and many of the older passengers found it hard to walk to certain sites and get back to the coach within one hour. We had a little excitement as Marco Pierre White and Rob Brydon were on board as P&O were filming their new advertisement. It would have been nice if the sauna was mixed, as I would had like to go with my husband. Instead I had to site by myself in the ladies sauna and my husband sat by on his own in the men's! Highlights for me: sailing into Venice, spectacular! Kotor, Montenegro just a lovely walled town, once inside there were beautiful squares with cafe/bars small shops. Would I got on Ventura again. ....yes to the Caribbean next January!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our first cruise and, on the whole, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t praise P&O enough for the extremely smooth transition from Venice Marco Polo airport to the ship. We didn’t have the usual scrum round the baggage ... Read More
This was our first cruise and, on the whole, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t praise P&O enough for the extremely smooth transition from Venice Marco Polo airport to the ship. We didn’t have the usual scrum round the baggage carousel. We just sailed through (please excuse the pun) customs, where a bored looking official gave our passports a cursory glance, and then the P&O staff guided us to the very comfortable coaches and onward to the Ventura. Our cases were delivered to our cabin later on. On arrival at the Ventura, I must admit it did feel like we were herded like cattle through the registration process. However, it was all done very quickly and efficiently and then we were on board. Our cabins weren’t ready yet but we were advised to go to Deck 15 for tea and coffee and an announcement would be made later. Unfortunately, we had arrived at lunchtime and the Waterside Buffet restaurant was packed with people. We couldn’t see one free seat. We were exhausted from getting up at 2am to go the the airport and we just wanted to sit down with a cup of tea. We scouted around for a seat and I noticed the Beach House bar outside and the fact that a few people were smoking on one side. I guided my, by now irritable, husband outside and told him to sit on a bar stool and light up. I then went and found the tea and coffee machines and we started to feel a little bit more human. Soon afterwards, there was an announcement that the cabins were ready and we went to find ours on Deck 9. We had booked a superior de-luxe cabin and we were delighted with it. It was spotlessly clean and bright with plenty of wardrobe and storage space, fridge, kettle, hairdryer, two TVs, vanity table and a sitting area with a sofa and chair and a decent sized bathroom (bath with shower). We couldn’t have been happier with the cabin. The other positive point about our cabin was the fact that it was extremely well sound proofed. You couldn’t hear any noise from neighbours. Any outside noise almost disappeared when you closed the balcony doors. The only sound we heard was if someone let their cabin door slam or if people were talking loudly in the corridor. Our steward kept the cabin spotless during our two weeks and we were always well supplied with tea/coffee/milk, plenty of clean towels etc. Excursions We did our own research before we left for the cruise and worked out where we wanted to go, train timetables etc. However, we did book one trip with P&O which was on the Genoa stop. We booked the Portofino trip which was around £63 each as there is no way we could have found our own way to Portofino easily. It was a lovely trip and we were glad we went on it, although we would have liked to have had more time in Portofino. We felt a bit rushed. For the Civitivecchia stop, we had already decided to make our own way to Rome on the train. The port authorities were very helpful in that they had set up an area where they were selling the train tickets and local bus tickets for the station bus. We purchased a return BIRG ticket to Rome for 12 Euros each, which is extremely cheap considering that the journey takes almost an hour and the ticket could also be used on the Metro and bus systems. We also purchased the local bus tickets we needed to get to the station, which cost 80 cents each. It was all made very easy and I am grateful to the port authorities for that. There were regular trains to and from Rome, approximately every half hour. To compare prices with the P&O equivalent trip in which you paid for a train ticket for a pre-booked seat and guide on the train only (basically just a train journey with help), the cost was £47 each. P&O did employ scare tactics as well on a couple of occasions. On their announcements and I think it was also mentioned in the Horizon newsletter, they kept repeating that Italian railways were notorious for sudden strikes and to make sure we had a back up plan for getting back to the ship. I understand that this is probably true and that there are strikes, but I was slightly cynical about P&O’s tactics. If you get stranded independently somewhere, the ship sails without you. If you are with a P&O excursion, the ship waits for you. In Ajaccio, we took the local open top bus tour which cost us 10 Euros each. The equivalent P&O excursion was £41 each (Introduction to Ajaccio). We took the train from Monaco to Antibes - price 15 Euros each for a return ticket. P&O Old Antibes trip - price £30 each. Again there were trains almost every half hour, except over lunchtime. Food We were allocated the Cinnamon restaurant and we went there to eat on the first black tie evening. We didn’t realise beforehand that they were promoting Marco Pierre White’s menu on that particular evening. I ordered the soup and my husband ordered the smoked salmon as starters, once we had translated the gobbledegook from the menu. The soup came and it was consomme. We did wonder if it had been made with the Knorr stock cubes that Marco Pierre White advertises. My husband had a large plate with a tiny piece of transparent smoked salmon, a small piece of lemon tied up in a muslin bag and a few other little bits of decoration. The main course was also just bits of food decorating the plates. We were so disappointed...and still hungry, so we skipped the dessert and went up to the buffet restaurant for some real food. We ate mostly in the buffet restaurant because the food was good and the choice was good most of the time. They usually had a different country’s food each night and this wasn’t a problem normally because there were other choices if you didn’t like the food from a particular country. The only problem we had was on the Tandoori night. Everything was spicy, even some of the salad choices, so if you didn’t like Indian food, there wasn’t much choice that evening. They did have a roast each evening, eg. roast beef, chicken, pork but the chef who was serving it was very stingy and only gave you a couple of very thin small pieces of meat. Entertainment Some of the evening entertainment in the Havana Bar was very good. We saw Elton John, Phil Collins and Kenny Rogers tribute acts, which were surprisingly good. In the theatre we saw a young singer called Paul Hughes who sang in the Frank Sinatra/Michael Buble style and we also went to see Tom O’Connor in the theatre as well. He is still going strong and is funnier than some of the younger comedians you see on TV nowadays. A few of the singers we saw were typical cruise ship cheesy singers and we did think that the ventriloquist act was just a step too far so we gave that a miss, but on the whole, the entertainment was very enjoyable. A Few Negatives The cost of the food on the Thomson flight. For the prices people are paying for their cruise holidays, not even a cup of tea or coffee was offered. A cup of tea or coffee cost £2.50, Kit Kat biscuit £1.30, sausage roll £3.50 etc etc. Drinks were quite expensive on the Ventura and I did notice that a lot of people were buying a drink and making it last. Also many people got tea and coffee or water from the buffet restaurant and brought them outside. A few examples of prices: Pint of Carling lager £3.85, small can of Heiniken lager £3.85, glass bottle of Coca Cola £2.50, other soft drinks £1.95. The Great British Sailaway - at the Laguna Pool and Breakers Bar area. This happened several times on our trip and was akin to Butlins holiday camp entertainment. Jolly, happy P&O entertainment people would lead a sing-along with all the happy sunbathers waving flags and cheering as the ship set sail from whatever port we were at. It was really just a promotion for whatever alcoholic drink P&O were promoting at the time but it was really quite cringe-worthy. The P&O photographers. On disembarking at each port the photographers were there to take another photo. On each black tie evening, they were there to take a special portrait photo. On another night they were taking a soft focus photo to make you look 10 years younger...and so it goes on. The photos taken on embarking and disembarking cost £11.80 each. The black tie portrait photos cost £17.95 each and the special album to collect all your photos in cost £21.00 so if you were daft enough to buy all of your photos, you could be paying around £200 over the two weeks, which is probably enough for a deposit on your next cruise! Arriving in Barcelona on a Sunday when all the big stores are closed all day. Not impressed by this. I assume it was P&O cost cutting over port fees. Also, leaving some ports early when we had a sea day the next day. Again, this could have been cost cutting. Gratuities. There is an automatic gratuity charge of £3.95 per person per day on the Ventura. For us this amounted to £55.30 each over the two weeks of the cruise. Someone we spoke to had one of his charges removed (he was there with his wife) and told us that he was met with quite a hostile response from the receptionist, but he made them take the charge off his account. He said he would rather give the money to his steward and a couple of waiters in his restaurant. You are within your rights to have the charges removed and when you think about it, it is a bloody cheek forcing passengers to pay gratuities. It is not the passengers’ responsibility to tip every member of staff on the ship. We left a good tip for our steward and we left the gratuities on our account but we would seriously consider having them removed if we go on another cruise. On the whole our experience with P&O on the Ventura was positive with just a few niggles. We have got the cruise bug now and would love to go on another one but we will do more research into other cruise companies before making our choice. I am sure there are pros and cons with all of them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Having read some previous reviews, I was a bit nervous what to expect on our cruise, but decided to just go with the flow and make my own mind up. Well its been made up - Loved the cruise, the itinerary, the food and the other passengers. ... Read More
Having read some previous reviews, I was a bit nervous what to expect on our cruise, but decided to just go with the flow and make my own mind up. Well its been made up - Loved the cruise, the itinerary, the food and the other passengers. Our cabin was looked after brilliantly by Manuel, who would always greet us and asked how we were etc. We only had an inside cabin, but its a lot bigger than we thought and it was a pleasure to come back in the evening to the bed turned down and our chocolate on the pillow (nice little touches) and He was always very approachable if we needed anything. We were on Freedom Dining so met quite a few different people, and we always had a good time talking and listening to them all. On the odd occasion, we wanted to just sit at a table for 2, this was no problem. We were given a bleeper and told it might be 40 minutes or so - and we would go for a pre dinner drink, and every time, the bleeper would go within 15-20 mins and we would just take the drinks we had just started into the restaurant. We tried East (£15 supplement p/p) - would recommend, absolutely wonderful and also the Food & Wine evening in the Glass House (£30 Supplement p/p) This although very nice - I don't think was worth the £30 each. The food in the MDR we couldn't fault, some people say you only get small portions - but they are more than adequate, considering you can have 5 courses and always go to the buffet later! (I never needed to!) The ship was lovely, but the only thing I can say about it, is that its too big for us - I have a good sense of direction, but still found it difficult to find which way to go. The four Tunes were amazing - one you should go and watch, the rest of the shows where good, but being on freedom dining, we never seemed to get our timing right - too early/too late for shows. Loved the quizzes. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Have cruised with P&O once before (Oceana) and Ventura is certainly a more modern ship but, considering the size of the ship, the facilities are not much better. The library is very poor, shops not great, and standard of food not as ... Read More
Have cruised with P&O once before (Oceana) and Ventura is certainly a more modern ship but, considering the size of the ship, the facilities are not much better. The library is very poor, shops not great, and standard of food not as good as we remembered. Like many people, I object to paying extra to eat in a "speciality" restaurant; all the food should be of an equal standard. I got tired of seeing the same salad options coming out again and again at the buffet. Waiter service was good in the restaurant but poor in the buffet and patchy in the bars (where the price of drinks has shot up since our last cruise) - I saw two serious health and safety incidents where they were slow to react and did nothing to warn passengers of potential hazards. The theatre is not able to accommodate even half the number of passengers on board, and the only way to guarantee a seat is to get there at least thirty minutes early, which usually means missing something else. Also, the sound level was way too high, with the bass reverberating through your seat. In general, the on-board activities seemed to be less plentiful than on our previous cruise, although the Entertainment team (under-strength because of illness) worked very hard, especially Chris, and most of the performers were good - no celebrity speakers this time. I've seen lots of comments about P&O staff failing to enforce the rules about not reserving seats and sunbeds, so this has clearly been a problem for a long time and it still is a problem. On the plus side, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, although the contents of the TV channels are absolutely dire - you even have to pay extra for films. Nor do they have the radio requests show that they had on Oceana. The ports of call were fine but the excursions are still grossly overpriced. We would go on Ventura again but stay clear of school holidays. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Cruised on Ventura from Genoa stopping at Livorno, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice then back again via Kotor, Corfu, Civitavecchia and Ajaccio (Corsica). An excellent itinerary which enabled us to visit a few “must-haves” and re-visit a few ... Read More
Cruised on Ventura from Genoa stopping at Livorno, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice then back again via Kotor, Corfu, Civitavecchia and Ajaccio (Corsica). An excellent itinerary which enabled us to visit a few “must-haves” and re-visit a few others as well as some we probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. First of all, Ventura is a large ship and it takes the best part of 2 weeks to find your way around. Our cabin was an inside on deck 14 and was comfortable and not at all claustrophobic. We had wondered about this having had a balcony in the past but, considering how little use we had actually made of one the extra cost seemed pointless and, in fact, proved the case. The only downside in the cabin was just one chair. Plenty of hanging space beside the bathroom with a cupboard and a safe there as well. Bathroom was perfectly adequate, similar size to other ships we have been on. The cabin has a TV with a useless selection of channels, a kettle and tea/coffee, a hair dryer and a fridge. Dining is in one of three formal dining rooms at either fixed times or, in two of the restaurants, what they call freedom dining where you turn up and are allocated a table. There are two speciality restaurants, Marco Pierre White and East, and there is a supplement to eat in them. On the 15th deck aft are two buffet-style restaurants where you elbow your way around selecting food then walk miles to find a table somewhere. Coffee and water are available from machines (mostly not working) and at breakfast only they also provide fruit juice. We generally chose to eat our three meals in one of the restaurants where you were given a table and waiters brought everything to you. Can’t understand why anyone endures the buffet bun fight! There is also a pizza stall beside one of the pools and a Costa coffee shop, probably the only way to get a decent coffee on board! There are four pools for cruisers plus a small one on the foc’sle which seemed to be crew only. Loads of loungers, packed in like sardines so you could always find somewhere to rest. There is a well equipped gym forward on the 16th deck and, beside it, a Spa offering treatments for trivial amounts like £75 a pop. Needless to say we didn’t partake! At the rear of the ship is a children’s area with what looked through the windows like a soft-play area and there is a small poll adjacent. Unfortunately they permit smoking there so it may not be an automatic choice for small children. Above this there are nets for golf practice and there may be other activities there but we didn’t explore. It may only have been this particular cruise but, for some reason which was never explained, the room service offering of bottles of spirits was not available so bring your own as P&O seem quite happy for you to bring it aboard. I suppose they would draw the line if you arrived with huge quantities of booze but if you like a drink in your cabin it seems you are best to take your own. On a 14 day cruise they time it so there are four “black tie” nights and most people seemed to have either a DJ or suit and tie. They seem quite particular about it so if you go without you will probably have to eat in the buffet those nights (unless you buy or hire on board that is - they seem to have availability). Just a few brief details of the destinations as most will have been there or can find better details elsewhere. P&O are good at laying on shuttles at those ports where you need one so unless you are on an organised tour you can get transport into the towns from the dockside. Royal Caribbean were particularly poor in this respect. Whether or not you paid for these shuttles depended on the type of booking you had so, in other words, the late availability cheapos probably have to pay. Livorno is the stop for Florence and Pisa, Naples for Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento. Dubrovnik, despite being in the EU, still used its own currency, the Kuna. The ship will change at 1.8 odd kuna to the euro but will only take back 50 kuna notes and above, no coins or lesser denominations. Just inside the city gate there is a shop with a bureau de change and they were offering a better rate, 1.9 something to the euro. At the end of the day do you really want to be left with a load of useless kuna so best to ask if they accept euros and, if not, walk away. Behind this bureau is a restaurant with a toilet and they take 1 euro to use it. By the way the supermarket at the dockside only takes Kunas or, I think, credit cards so save yourself the walk unless you have kanas to get rid of. Kotor is very picturesque and probably not somewhere you would finish up other than on a trip like this. It is a bit like a mini Dubrovnik with a medieval walled old town. For the fit and healthy there is a steep climb up the hillside and for the rest of us there are a few cafes, lots of souvenir shops and a couple of ice-cream stall. There is a public toilet which is signposted and a couple of ladies sit outside collecting your 1 euro to go in. A more leisurely walk up some of the walls takes you past some peoples gardens to a view over the harbour. Watch how you walk here as there were used syringes about. Back down at street level there were a few females begging so just like home really! Corfu, or more precisely, Kerkira where the ship docks is a short shuttle bus to the old town. The Russian navy was in town when we were there and the sailors were busy snapping up fake Rolex watches from the many Africans. There are lots of shops selling designer name goods at knock off prices but in between there were some genuine stores too. Unless you really want a Calvin Klein belt for 2.5 euros or a Gucci bag for little more you may want to search out the shops that don’t have these bargains for the real thing. Naples has a duty free shop after you go through dockside security before you board the ship and is useful if you need to stock up. Ajaccio is a pleasant town with streets close to the ship to stroll around in and a market just near the dock selling mostly cheeses and meats with a wine stall. Carry on up the street until you come to a Spar supermarket (Yes they have them there too) where stuff is a bit cheaper. If you are in a sunbathing mood there are beaches nearby. Hopefully this will be of some help to future travellers. One point worthy of mention was an incident affecting the ship when travelling between Dubrovnik and Venice. A sudden squall hit the ship and caused it to list some degrees to port, sufficient to wake everyone as everything crashed off the cabin surfaces and we had to walk downhill to get out of our cabin. More worryingly, however, this listing persisted and for around three hours we all waited to see if it would carry on tipping over. As you no doubt know, ships bob about on the sea, but when they bob one way they immediately then bob the other way. That is the theory but in this case the other bob just didn’t happen, hence the worried looks. Our captain spoke once briefly from the bridge, told us this was normal and we should all go back to our coff….sorry cabins. Having seen the wreck of Costa Concordia in Genoa on our way to the ship it was not a reassurance that gave us a great deal of comfort. It turned out the following day that the cause of the persistent listing was the fact that the swimming pools on deck 15 had emptied out and the water was swilling about in the space enclosed by glass panels on the port side with nowhere to go. Not only that but another passenger told us that her daughter had experienced the self-same thing on her cruise with Ventura in June of this year. So there you are. If the ship suddenly lurches to one side and stays there it is nothing to worry about. Just don;t ask us to cruise with Ventura again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We were a group of 4 ladies celebrating our friend's 70'th birthday week on our first cruise. This cruise was brilliant, the ship was clean and well decorated, we had Freedom Dining which was great as we could eat where and when ... Read More
We were a group of 4 ladies celebrating our friend's 70'th birthday week on our first cruise. This cruise was brilliant, the ship was clean and well decorated, we had Freedom Dining which was great as we could eat where and when we wanted, we found the Saffron and Cinnamon restaurants and they were first class and our favourite.  We shared a table some nights and others were on our own, met some lovely people, only had to wait a couple of times when busy but not a problem. The staff in the restaurants and all around the ship were brilliant and very friendly and helpful. they made the holiday for us. They seemed to be mostly from India and were very friendly and work very hard. I hope the tips we all had to pay each day are evenly handed out to them and not taken to be part of their wage. They deserve to be tipped fairly. Everyone on the ship was very friendly and there was no snobbishness and luckily as we went in Sept there were no children, only a couple here and there, otherwise we would not have enjoyed having children running around and making a noise. we wanted an adults only holiday which is what we got. also there was a good age range, it was not full of old people, just a few here and there. We thought we would come home with a huge hill for drinks but were very pleasantly surprised, we had wine with dinner every night and jugs of Pimms during the day, it was very reasonable. The trips we booked were a bit expensive, glad we did them, but next time we would do our own thing as at most of the ports we were very close to the town so could easily have walked or got a taxi in. We would definitely go again and can't wait. Everything was very efficient with good organisation picking us up and taking us to airport, on trips, etc, so no worries there. We had an inside cabin which was adequate as we only slept there and got ready to go out for the day, would prefer a window next time, but definitely an adequate room for the amount of time you spend in there. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We have just returned from our first cruise aboard Ventura. Having read some of the negative reviews I was apprehensive about what to expect - I need not have worried. The first day went smoothly from the airport to the ship (a very early ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise aboard Ventura. Having read some of the negative reviews I was apprehensive about what to expect - I need not have worried. The first day went smoothly from the airport to the ship (a very early start unfortunately). After checking in, the hold luggage was not seen again until we were on board the ship. P & O staff were positioned all along the route through Venice Marco Polo Airport directing everyone quickly to waiting coaches for the transfer. Security checks inside the port building were reassuringly efficient and at around midday we had enjoyed a buffet (Waterside) before accessing our cabin at 12.45 p.m. (after getting lost in corridors a few times - see below!) For this cruise we had chosen an outside cabin with balcony, which turned out to be a perfect choice given the wonderful ‘sail ins’ and ‘sail aways’ to follow. The luggage arrived shortly afterwards, so we unpacked essentials before exploring the glories of Venice for a few hours (using the “People Mover” near the port entrance and on foot). This was a very pleasant start to the holiday before our return to the ship in time for the emergency muster drill. We had been allocated a Club Dining late sitting in the Bay Tree Restaurant (9.0 p.m. first day then 8.30 or 8.45 after that) Not ideal dinner times for us, but we soon adapted to this, as there are plenty of daytime food options to fill the gaps, including afternoon tea. This was also convenient if, as on a few occasions, shore excursions finished late afternoon. The restaurant staff, mostly from India or the Philippines, were friendly and attentive, especially the waiters in dealing with my wife’s special dietary requirements. We were directed to a table for two, which would have suited some couples, but (for variety of company!) the head waiter accommodated our moving to a table for six at the beginning of our second week. In the Bay Tree there was enough variety in the dinner menus for most tastes and a standard grill menu every night. We were very happy with both the quality and quantity of the fare on offer. On this cruise there were four formal nights and two ‘theme’ nights, one 60s and 70s the other Tropical. There was a nice buzz around the ship for these special nights - our fellow passengers liked to dress up on the black tie and black and white nights, but were less inclined on the ‘theme’ nights. We wore some 60s and tropical attire to get into the spirit but evening casual was the norm. We stuck with the Bay Tree Club Dining on this cruise except for one night in the White Room on Deck 19. The food and service here was exceptional - in our view well worth the cover charge for that special occasion. On the second morning at (waiter-served) breakfast in the Bay Tree, we heard stories from passengers about the storm and high winds the previous week. The ship had listed alarmingly for a couple of hours before righting itself due to the water emptying the swimming pools on the open deck to one side of the ship. Disconcerting on only the second day! They lived to tell the tale, and again we need not have worried - on our cruise it was rather choppy between Corfu and the Straits of Messina (Day 5), but by then we had our sea legs. After the horror story in the Bay Tree on the 2nd day we decided to go for buffet breakfast and lunches in either the Waterside or the Beach House. These areas were very busy on some port days, but we found it interesting sharing a table and chatting. We are not sun worshippers, but there seemed to be enough sunbeds for those so inclined. There is plenty on board Ventura to keep non-sun-worshippers occupied on sea days, quizzes, films, ballroom dance classes, some retail therapy - and more food. The library is quite small but has a reasonable stock of fiction/reference for days at sea - there are quieter parts of the ship (and balcony if you have one) to just sit and chill with a book. Drinks prices (and wine packages) are comparable with the UK. The Oasis Spa treatments were high quality, but expensive. The evening entertainment it must be said was not always to our taste, very middle-of-the-road, but passengers who went to the theatre and Havana bar we spoke to enjoyed the high energy shows with the Headliners, the 4 Tunes, and some tribute acts. We caught the tail end of some shows after the quizzes in the Exchange which we went to most evenings. The entertainment staff were energetic and funny - but some passengers did take quiz nights a bit too seriously! The ports visited, the main reason we chose this particular cruise, were varied and interesting. Having previously visited Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Rome we booked organised shore excursions for places not yet seen. These were somewhat pricey, but guaranteed to return to the ship on time. More confident cruisers went ashore independently and most we spoke to had no difficulties getting around. The guides on our “Best of” Corfu, Ajaccio, Dubrovnik (sadly, the only day of rain) were very informative. The highlight trips for us were Paradise Gulf (boat trip to Portofino) and Herculaneum, which was outstanding. Apart from Dubrovnik (sadly the only day of rain), we were blessed with fine weather - there were some unforgettable moments, including wonderful scenery around Kotor (a hidden gem), sailing by Stromboli, sunrise over Vesuvius, and sailing into Venice. Ventura is a large ship and rather daunting for first time cruisers. We were provided with a “side view’ deck plan when we first went on board, but no plan views of the decks. Apart from reception staff, there were no crew members directing people to the different parts of the ship. The geography of Ventura takes some getting used to, and the signage in the public areas is limited (come on P & O, you can do this!) This said, we thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and can recommend this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Had a week on Ventura for our honeymoon in september 2014. Embarkation was really quick and very easy at Venice and after a seamless journey from Manchester we were in our cabin by lunchtime enjoying the view from our C deck large ... Read More
Had a week on Ventura for our honeymoon in september 2014. Embarkation was really quick and very easy at Venice and after a seamless journey from Manchester we were in our cabin by lunchtime enjoying the view from our C deck large balcony. After a good look around skipped lunch and went for afternoon tea, in the main restaurant which was nice. Lovely slightly late sail away from Venice which I think changes soon with the cruise ports being moved so appreciated the view of St Marks etc weather little rainy next day but at sea so did cookery demonstration and chilled! Enjoyed all of the ports, stayed on the ship at Rome as been before and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Sunbeds busy on sea days but getting up and out to breakfast by 8-30 meant we were able to get tow no problem at the back of the ship just above the pool. Nice spot as fab views and cool breeze. Do think in the very busy areas it should be up to P and O staff to remove towels left for more than say two hours. We tended to have breakfast and lunch in the MDR as enjoyed the service and choices were good. Had dinner in MDR most evenings - food good, but would say no better than a good pub / gastro pub at home. Did try the white room, lovely view sat outside - little dark...hard to see the menu....service good but again not overwhelmed by the food. ordered the scallops, prawn and oyster dish and asked for no oysters as don't like...waiter had to go and ask chef if he was allowed to serve without..same for my husbands request for no snails with his steak...which i found a little strange..who is the customer? Didn't realise that all of the dish was tempura battered with a risotto that tasted floury so not really anything to cut through the tempura batter. Strawberry soufflé desert ok! Wouldn't go back for the food but lovely first week wedding anniversary location wise in the open air at the back of the ship. Really enjoyed the balcony cabin on C deck with covered area then part where yes others can see down into. This meant lots of chats with neighbours and a social atmosphere. All in all nice ship, I liked the size as always something to do..would have liked a comedian one night which there wasn't. Nice bar and couple singing / guitar at the metropolis bar on deck 18 after dinner. Ship not as glitzy as say RC or Royal Princess but a nice and friendly atmosphere. Waiters in MDR not a patch on RC didn't feel as though I could recognise ours other than they were near our table. Rest of staff lovely. Heading back onto Ventura for Caribbean in March, drinks prices good and liked the fact you could bring something yourself so much better than the american ships and you don't feel so......ripped off?? all in all benefits of P and O outweigh the slight negatives in my view. Looking forward to our next cruise and as a cruise convert form skiing and non cruise holidays previously....love the fact that its like a floating island where you go to your favourite restaurants each night, there is always loads to do with mixed age ranges and you wake up somewhere different most days. If in doubt try it!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The basics of life on the Ventura were well organised by P and O. The essentials of cabin management, feeding and entertaining the passengers were all well organised. All facilities seemed to function well, in particular the warm clean ... Read More
The basics of life on the Ventura were well organised by P and O. The essentials of cabin management, feeding and entertaining the passengers were all well organised. All facilities seemed to function well, in particular the warm clean swimming pools were much appreciated. General cleanliness around the vessel was impressive. Staff were enthusiastic and efficient in carrying out their tasks. However the sea passage from Dubrovnik to Venice was something else. I am amazed that my wife slept through the whole episode! I say that because she is prone to motion sickness, and if she had been awake she would almost certainly have been ill! As far as I am concerned this started around 1.30am, when I awoke as the ship was swaying badly and pitching hard up and down into obviously a heavy sea. I guess we were lucky with a cabin close to the bow so that we did not suffer from the pronounced swaying or leaning that others have reported elsewhere. I can recall the thunderstorms and lightning we had observed before retiring the night before, but had no idea of the mayhem they would cause in the middle of the night. I tried to get out of bed and found it hard to stand up, as since we were in an inside cabin we had no reference as to what was level! I was never aware of the apparent broadcast by the Captain at about 2,30am, which has been widely reported elsewhere. I only know that my last recollection of being awake and bouncing was about 3.30am. Although the captain toured the dining rooms the following morning to reassure passengers, his answers to my questions were largely humorous jibes which I did not find entirely helpful. AS an experienced traveller I asked him to confirm that such storms were unusual in the Mediterranean. He replied that "we certainly found one last night." I then asked if he had been on the bridge at the time? His reply was 'Not initially but I was straight after the phone rang." I am afraid that I find the response inadequate. This captain was always full of flippant apparently humorous remarks during his broadcasts especially as we were about to leave port. His standard phrase was something like, "the chief engineer assures me that the rubber bands have been fully wound to enable us to leave port on way to 'X'." I didn't find that funny, and anything he is reported to have said in the early hours of the morning as we were bounced around like a cork, I would probably have dismissed as well. As a retired airline pilot we were always advised don't try to be humorous with passengers during public address announcements as the passengers need to be assured that calls from the captain are responsible instructions particularly when emergency procedures may subsequently be required. I find it even more worrying that as far as I am aware there has been no official statement from P & O at all. Other reports on the internet, confirm what I observed that night, and indeed some suggest that the Ventura was built with a shallow draught which it seems is likely to lead to instability when adverse weather strikes. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My boyfriend and I were new to cruising this year and have just disembarked the Ventura ship with P&O Cruises. It truly was the holiday of a lifetime and whilst we have no other cruises to compare this to, we do have reasonably high ... Read More
My boyfriend and I were new to cruising this year and have just disembarked the Ventura ship with P&O Cruises. It truly was the holiday of a lifetime and whilst we have no other cruises to compare this to, we do have reasonably high expectations and lots of previous experience of high quality holiday packages. We booked this cruise very last minute (just 17 days before embarkation!) and therefore wondered if we were too late to book certain excursions or for my boyfriend to hire a suit for the black tie events. Everything was so straight forward and easy to organise. We had access to the P&O ‘cruise personaliser’ online which enabled us to book excursions, book a reservation at ‘East’ restaurant, order a suit etc. I was very impressed with this personalised touch and the way we could see our personalised holiday itinerary at a glance before we’d even arrived. Let me get to the holiday itself! Everybody looks for different things on holiday but I genuinely believe this ship had a wide enough choice of everything to suit the vast majority of people. I personally enjoy: excellent food, engaging entertainment, space to relax in beautiful surroundings, exercise and spa facilities and a well-equipped and comfortable room. My boyfriend enjoys these same things as well as lively nightlife and the opportunity to socialise with fellow holiday makers. FOOD Ventura boasts a wide range of restaurants, both a la carte and buffet styles. AMAZING food! We were allocated a table at the Bay Tree restaurant, 2nd sitting which tended to be around 8.30pm. Reading some other reviews, I can see that some people don’t like having allocated meal times but for us it worked well. We enjoyed knowing we had a table reserved at this top class restaurant and I loved the nightly process of getting myself dressed up for the occasion! The menu varied every night (7 nights) and every night the food and service were brilliant. I am a vegetarian and was concerned that my options may be limited or repetitive. How wrong I was! I enjoyed delicious concoctions that I’ve never tried before most nights and even the soups were varied across the week, all equally tasty. My boyfriend was blown away by the food and loved the fact that he could order 2 different mains in a night if he fancied it for no extra charge! Desserts were also fabulous and varied every night. The waiter service was 5 star, with our waiter remembering after the first night that I like a peppermint tea after eating. Amazing when you consider the masses of people those waiters serve every day and the fact that they’re never on board for very long! The buffet restaurant was very good for breakfast – a wide choice of cooked food (including vegetarian sausages!), continental style food and lots of fresh fruit. We didn’t tend to use the buffet for meals other than breakfast as we were booked in at the Bay Tree but the one night we did opt to go there for dinner, we were again very impressed. We had 1 evening meal at ‘East’ and my word, it was one of the best oriental restaurants we have dined at. And we’ve been to a lot! The food was an explosion of tastes and the service was impeccable. For an extra £15 per person to dine there for an evening is well worth it. A restaurant of that standard in London would cost about £70+ per head for what we had. There is a wide variety of food available throughout each day too; including BBQ grills on some days, freshly prepared pizza to order, ice-cream and the buffet restaurants. Not to mention afternoon tea and inclusive room service. I am not a drinker so can’t comment on the alcohol available, however I love a mocktail and there were some excellent varieties on board. For just £2.50 a drink, they were the best value for money mocktails I’ve ever had. We bought a ‘soft drink’ package where we got 20 drinks for £35. Super value for money! My boyfriend had the odd alcoholic drink and was impressed with the quality but noted that they’re not particularly cheap. CABINS We stayed in a balcony cabin on deck 14 (Riviera deck). Excellent cabin with great facilities. The bed was queen-size and extremely comfortable. The interactive television gave us access to a range of inclusive films and shows and we could also order room service via the TV. The bathroom was well lit with lots of towels provided, a large mirror and perfectly adequate shower considering we were on a ship! The balcony was a very nice added luxury – the morning views were spectacular and we spent a few afternoons on our balcony playing chess (borrowed from the on-board library) and sipping afternoon tea! The room-keeping was superb and beds were made at least twice a day, with chocolates left on our pillows after every evening meal and towels shaped into animals! The cabin was spotlessly clean upon arrival and maintained to a high standard every day. We were very impressed with the fact that we didn’t see our luggage after we checked in at Manchester airport until we checked in to our cabin. The same for the journey home, we left our luggage outside the cabin the final night and were reunited with it back at Manchester airport. Very well organised! ENTERTAINMENT We enjoyed a whole host of nightly entertainment in the theatre and various bars. We enjoyed soul singers, West End style shows with singing and dancing and stand-up comedians. We also made use of the casino which was pleasantly low priced with minimum bets being just £2 for blackjack and three card poker. My boyfriend actually ended our cruise up by about £50 in the casino so that was a result! There were 2 black tie nights during our 7 night cruise and these were great fun. There were lots of on-board photographers to capture the moments and whilst we didn’t purchase any photos, we enjoyed the novelty of being treated like celebrities! In the daily ‘Horizon’ newspaper that was delivered each prior evening, there was an outline of sporting activities for the following day. Unfortunately for my boyfriend, these events were unattended and therefore didn’t take place. There are sport courts on board but my boyfriend only got to play me and a random child! I suspect people are too busy soaking up the sun to want to play sports but if they’re advertised as being on, it wouldn’t hurt the staff to try and encourage people to attend. RELAXATION Despite what some people have said about Ventura being over-crowded and packed out with children and teenagers (it is a ‘family-friendly’ ship!), we found this not to be a problem. I did pay extra for access to ‘The Retreat’, which in hindsight I’ve realised was unnecessary as there were lots of quiet areas with empty sunbeds throughout most parts of the ship. The only area I avoided like the plague was deck 15, (Lido deck). This was where families with children and teenagers congregated around the pool and it would have been difficult to claim a sunbed here or to relax as the music was always loud all day. But of course, that’s what some people love and enjoy – if I came on board Ventura as a child, this would have been perfect! ‘The Retreat’ was not at all pretentious as another reviewer claimed it to be, nor was it empty. It was actually fully booked the day we embarked and we were lucky to be able to book it. It was wonderful to have waiter service on these comfortable and well spread out sunbeds. I spent lots of time up there reading books and sun-bathing! One thing I have learnt for next time is not to use the ‘Oasis Spa’! I booked myself in for a hot stone massage on the first day. Relaxing as it was, it was not worth the extortionate price. It was as good as a massage at a ‘Bannatyne Spa’. These cost half the price charged on Ventura. There is a cheeky 10% service charge added on at the end. The first mention of this was after the masseuse asked me if I’d enjoyed the massage and I said I had. You then feel obliged to pay the extra 10% service charge. I would have preferred to know about this before I booked the treatment, had I known it would cost nearly £100 all in I would have left it! I found the ‘Oasis Spa’ to be generally over-priced for what it offered and the staff here are clearly on commission and trained to use pushy sales techniques, which was disappointing. The masseuse tried to force expensive Elemis products on me after my treatment to which I had to refuse 2 or 3 times before she accepted that I wasn’t going to buy. I took part in a yoga class one morning and have to say, it was of a better standard than my usual class at the gym! The instructor was clearly highly trained and experienced and offered a great class that I’d recommend to anyone. EXCURSIONS We did 4 excursions during our cruise. A tour of beautiful, mountainous Montenegro first. This was a 5/5 trip, excellent organisation and value for money. We saw some beautiful sights and tried some local food which was really eye-opening. We visited a waterpark in Corfu which was again, 5/5. The waterpark was one of the best we’ve been to, rivalling parks in Florida! We could have done with an extra hour there before being picked up but it was a great day. We had a tour of Rome, 4/5. It was good but just not quite to our taste as much as we expected due to the very long drive there and back and the sheer crowdedness of the city. We should have expected this in hindsight. It was great to see Rome but it was too much to cram in a day really. Our final excursion was a beach trip in Corsica. I would only rate this 2-3/5. This was because the beach was very average with no sunbeds, very over-priced beachside eateries with slow service and not a long enough length of time at the beach. We actually had to get a taxi back to the ship because we were 4 minutes late to meet the coach and our names hadn’t been written down on this particular excursion so no one knew we were missing! FELLOW PASSENGERS There were a huge range of people on board Ventura, ranging from families with young children to solo pensioners. We spoke to various people in the restaurant, the bars and ‘The Retreat’ and all of them were lovely. There was no evidence of pretentious attitudes or people being rude to staff which I’d read about in 1 review. There is a problem with people reserving sunbeds with towels on the busy Lido deck. It clearly states in Horizon that this is not allowed, so people who are complaining about this are well within their rights to move peoples’ belongings from sunbeds to sit down. My boyfriend did this one day when he wanted to sit in this area for the sail-away party. SERVICE We were made to feel like complete royalty throughout this cruise by all staff we met. They can’t do enough for you and service is always with a smile. Anyone who complains about lack of service here must have some serious delusions of grandeur because unless you expect a personal butler, I don’t see what there could be to complain about! We have already put down a down payment for next year and can’t wait to return, I would recommend this cruise ship to anyone who is looking for an extra special holiday and something truly unique. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We've done several cruises but never flown before so this one was a first for us. Check in and transfer were very efficient, easy and the luggage appeared in the cabin shortly after lunch. I packed swimmers in the hand luggage so we ... Read More
We've done several cruises but never flown before so this one was a first for us. Check in and transfer were very efficient, easy and the luggage appeared in the cabin shortly after lunch. I packed swimmers in the hand luggage so we could use the pool on arrival. Plenty of clean swimming towels are available in the Spa changing rooms. Evening meal service and menu were once again brilliant, with options on the menu for every taste, and my gluten free diet again catered for superbly. Portions are smaller than they used to be, but frankly they were far too big before. After a starter, soup course, main and desert most 'normal' people will feel satisfied. For diners who are particularly hungry the waiting staff will, if spoken to nicely, bring extra starters, deserts etc. as always I found that showing respect to others earns respect. Sunbeds did seem to be a problem on this cruise, which I have not experienced before. I put this down to the limited sea days, the fact that some people were only on board for a week, and the 'British' need to go home with a tan come what may. Whatever the reason, it wasn't really P and O's fault. I also found most people had fried themselves plenty by around 2.30 and sunbeds could easily be found on the higher decks. The buffet as usual was busy and it is difficult to find a table. Which is why we always use the main dining rooms at breakfast, and at lunchtime. Most lunchtimes the restaurant was half empty. The choice was excellent as usual, with light snacks and more filling options available. I never understand why more people don't use it. We find you need to choose the trips carefully. Some do offer really good value, and the companies used are all of a good quality, it is equally as easy to do some things yourself so planning ahead is worthwhile. Others,when compared with the DIY option are a bit pricey, either way, the choice is yours. There isn't a big sell on the trips. Overall the ship was clean, staff friendly and we mostly met lots of like minded and pleasant fellow travellers. I would echo comments made by the smoker passenger who commented on the limited areas for smokers. I'm not a smoker, P and O have really listened to feedback in the last couple of years, smoking in cabins and on balconies is no longer permitted and passengers who are rude and disrespectful of others tend to out number the smokers ! Thanks P and O. Another great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help ... Read More
As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help us and interact with our daughter at every step of the way. So lets break it down - We arrived in Venice and had a walk around having spent the night in a hotel and got on the ship around 2ish. The check in process and embarkation were a breeze, plenty of staff around and helpful dock workers taking our bags for loading. We explored the ship for a bit and made our way to the cabin for 3 o'clock and our bags were already there and waiting. Riviera deck inside cabin R744 Breakfast is a self service affair with a choice of fresh fruits, cereals, muffins, meats, cheeses, smoothies and full English breakfast and according to my wife a horrible porridge personally all porridge is horrible so….. There is a continental side at the aft of the ship with waffles apparently however this seemed to finish at 7.00am and we missed it every day. We mainly attended the mid section of the ship. This was the only time that you can get access to anything other than water coffee or tea free of charge with pure orange, apple and pineapple available. Lunch is the same sort of setup as breakfast with a mixture of hot and cold food and usually with a curry or something as well High tea - sandwiches, cakes, scones and cream……… all good………not for the waistline though…. Dinner - We ate at the Bay tree restaurant on the first sitting our waiters Mark and Sheldon were amazing and never stopped trying to play with Faye (our 2 year old) and make her smile. It took all week but eventually she was high fiving and laughing at them. The food here was rich and well presented with a standard classic menu that was always available and a menu that changed daily. It could have done with a little more variety by the end of the first week. The children s menu had a good selection of standard foods like fish fingers, burgers, chicken breast and you could pick and mix to create your meal with vegetables and potatoes etc. We only used the bay tree in the evenings and should have tried the buffet selection for the evening meal. As the first sitting meant we missed every sail away party and a few other events. The food arrives quickly and no sooner than one course is cleared the next is arriving which can make it feel a little rushed. On the first formal night we had a guest menu from Marco Pierre White - however we found it lackluster and the 2nd formal menu had nothing special about it which was disappointing as we had expected something from East. Speaking of which we booked a table there and included for our 2 year old - the food was simply spectacular. Everything we had hoped for the menu was varied and Atul actually visited each table chatted with guests and posed for photos. In hindsight we should have checked out the evening menus at the restaurants before deciding what to do for dinner. They were posted outside and its normally only a slight detour to check whats on or go for the buffet and then go play. Our daughter would have benefitted from this as she could have gone to play with Mr Bump or the family disco sooner. Entertainment - There was plenty to do on the ship had we ditched our daughter. Not much in the way of family events to get involved with at least not for a two year old. However she loved the Reef kids club and the staff there were brilliant with her. The events whilst not spectacular were definitely entertaining. Trying to keep track of what was going on was tricky. The horizon newsletter that is distributed each evening with the listings could be a bit better laid out as tracking what was going on was done by time rather than rooms and areas. There were plenty of bar areas to relax and unwind and the Tamarind and Havana were good places to sit and listen to different music acts and a cinema in the afternoon. Now we have done it once we would certainly have a better idea how to organise our time better the second time around. Cabin and service - Simply excellent, The cabin was always clean with fresh towels and we even got some jelly beans for the little one and a balloon on the first night which she loved. Every staff member from the backroom cabin crew,cleaners and the plumber that we met to the waiters, bar staff and officers were all friendly approachable and couldn’t do enough to help. I could write suggestions and improvements for ages but suffice to say we had a blast – it might not be as fancy as other cruises but we loved it and were already discussing another one on our trip home. One thing make time to visit the Spa the ladies and treatments were awesome - I would highly recommend the hot stone aromatherapy massage in particular (I had 2) when you go say hi to Edyta for me! :-) John, Kelly & Faye   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
First time on a cruise bit daunting what to expect! P & 0 are very organised from embarking the ship to disembarking. You check in your luggage at the airport and then don't see it until its outside your cabin door. You barely ... Read More
First time on a cruise bit daunting what to expect! P & 0 are very organised from embarking the ship to disembarking. You check in your luggage at the airport and then don't see it until its outside your cabin door. You barely felt the ship was moving. Breakfast & lunch was very busy you had to find a table but there was a large choice of food for everyone. We dined in the Bay Tree restaurant every night 2nd sitting at 8.30 which suited us. Excellent choice of food & service from Deepak, Edison and the Sommelier. We informed P & O beforehand about our daughter's dietary requirements and we had excellent service from Awkash Thank you. Entertainment was very good; there was lots of choice from West end shows to a ventriloquist. Prices of drinks was the same as the UK Cocktails (£5-6) and bottles of wine were from £12 upwards. Lovely room champagne & chocolates on arrival, Vijendra, our cabin steward, excellent nothing too much trouble, we loved the elephant and rabbit towel folding thank you. We went to Pompeii, Dubronvik and Venice but booked the trips beforehand,very good trips. Even though the trips seemed expensive, it was worth paying for because you didn't have to queue for tickets and the guides were very knowledgeable of the area and friendly. The sail into Venice was fantastic. We found the sunbeds no problem to find but on sea days it could be a problem as the sundecks and the pools are very busy and so are the restaurants. Lots of people reserving sunbeds even though P&O were telling people not to. During our cruise, we tended to avoid the pools as there were lots of children there and some were throwing objects like hard tennis balls and there was a chance they would hurt you. In conclusion, the cruise was worthwhile because of the fantastic trips and excellent service. Unfortunately, as my family enjoy swimming, the pools were a let-down and if possible, P&O should have people supervising the pools to make them safer and more available to everyone.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
As first time cruisers, we'd have appreciated more information before leaving the UK regarding known differences between standard package holidays and cruises. The embarkation process was slick and well organised, and we were well ... Read More
As first time cruisers, we'd have appreciated more information before leaving the UK regarding known differences between standard package holidays and cruises. The embarkation process was slick and well organised, and we were well looked after on board - though frequently felt rushed when eating. P&O don't police the sun-beds and don't remove towels left unattended (and reserving beds). Therefore it can be difficult (if not impossible) to find any beds after about 9.30am - and certainly insufficient for a family group together on an "at sea" day. Time in ports was too limited - the majority of the excursions felt rushed. The main issues we encountered were to do with disembarkation. Reception staff were ill-informed (and on one occasion just plain rude). We eventually discovered that there was provision for leaving hand-baggage on our last day prior to a lunchtime disembarkation so we could have time ashore without it. Other passengers who had cruised with P&O before knew this was the case - why didn't their own staff? AND HAVING TO GO TO THE AIRPORT OVER 4 AND A HALF HOURS PRIOR TO THE HOMEWARD FLIGHT (the airport being no more than 20 minutes from the port) WAS TOTALLY RIDICULOUS!! It was clear to us (and other passengers we spoke to) that all P&O wanted to do was get rid of us as soon as possible to be able to concentrate on the inbound passengers.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We love cruising, but I wouldn't cruise with Ventura again. We had a lovely holiday, but we had great expectations sine we have been cruising for years. I took my 21 yr old daughter and my 3 yr old granddaughter with me. Flew from ... Read More
We love cruising, but I wouldn't cruise with Ventura again. We had a lovely holiday, but we had great expectations sine we have been cruising for years. I took my 21 yr old daughter and my 3 yr old granddaughter with me. Flew from manchester to Venice was fine, they took cases at airport and they arrived straight into our cabin. check in was easy and fine. Cabin with balcony was fine but the bunk bed for a 3 yr old not suitable as she fell out, it is too open and also rattled all night, so I spend a cramped week with her in my bed. I am used the great service on P&O cruises sadly not on the Ventura. We were given Freedom dining - given a pager and waited ages for table - got too late to eat, waiters looked harrased and hurried us, forgot our bread, service was bad. Childs food was like something from Mcdonalds but not as good, & arrived when We were having our desert. Quality of food and service were not good. TRy the East restaurant ..you have to pay but it was excellent, Beach hut is also very good but you have to pay-if you want the quality and service you have to pay extra. Theatre was good, pools around kids area although very deep and you need to be with them all the time, are nice and warm, but you need to get early for a sun bed, Kids thought kids club too boring..hence no kids in there - which was one reason for taking our little one. Venice was lovely - you need to pay for boat to get there, but was lovely, as were most of the ports. Instead of waiting and trying to find table at the buffet - we just took trays back to cabin it was easier. British sail away was good fun. Beach hut and East for food although it costs. if you have a small child be aware of the bunks. Don't expect 5 star - you won't get it. TRy Oriana instead although adults only. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My wife Tracey ,daughter Olivia (11) and I decided to treat ourselves to an Italian cruise aboard the Ventura in August 2014. It was our first cruise so we were a little naive to some things but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The good ... Read More
My wife Tracey ,daughter Olivia (11) and I decided to treat ourselves to an Italian cruise aboard the Ventura in August 2014. It was our first cruise so we were a little naive to some things but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The good points; The food was mostly excellent! We dined in the Cinnamon restaurant in the evening as we had excellent service from the friendly and efficient waiters and wine steward. We used the upper deck restaurants for breakfast and lunch, so we could stay dressed casual. The food here was very nice, but not as good as the formal restaurants. We are early risers so we did not find breakfast and lunch much of a busy hassle. The biggest problem at times was finding an empty table, once you had chosen what to eat. Juice is only served at breakfast, chilled water during the rest of the time. Of course there is coffee (very nice) and tea of all flavours served during all hours. I found all savoury dishes tasty, but some of the sweets were a little lack lustre. We are not wealthy, but found the prices of wine, beer etc, reasonable to that what you would pay at home. Pint of beer £3.50 average bottle of wine with evening meal £18 -£20 and cocktails £5.50. We found the entertainment very good, especially the ventriloquist who was brilliant. All of the waiters around the pool and in the restaurants worked very hard and always there to get you a drink or take away dirty plates and glasses. I found all of the guests, from all walks of life to be very friendly and respectable. We try our best not to be judgemental with other people and as such we found everyone friendly and easy to talk to. I just do not understand some people who deem to judge other people because of their appearance and who just seem to nit-pick at every minor point. If you want friendly and respectable company to accompany a family friendly cruise, the Ventura is for you. If you prefer a ship that is more geared to formality and peace and quiet, then maybe choose a smaller and a more expensive ship. We visited Sorrento on the trip to the farm (we were the last to get on the trip). Well worth it and Sorrento is so picturesque. We did not pay for the excursion to Dubrovnik, just paid for the shuttle bus to get us there. It’s a small town you can explore easily yourself. This is well worth visiting and for ‘Game of Thrones ‘fans, there is a guided tour showing you the locations of some scenes. Finally, Venice is a must and I was very pleased to manage to get places for this visit that included a ride on a gondola. However, it would have been much cheaper to just pay for the shuttle boat to get you onto land and make your own way around. As we entered St. Marks square, the bells began to ring and it was just magical. This is a memory that will stay with us forever. Tips for a better cruise; We had to wait a few hours for our luggage to be delivered to our cabin once on board – about 2-3 hours. Our cabin steward helped and brought them to us within half of an hour of asking him to find them. We will remember to pack our bathing costumes in our hand luggage next time, along with a few toiletries. We struggled to get onto some of the excursions as we had not pre-booked on line before the holiday. Florence and Pizza were completely sold out. We could have tried to make our own way, but Florence was over an hour away and we were a little nervous of getting back in time for the ships departure so we stayed on board. However, it was very relaxing during the day and plenty of room to relax and explore the ship. We had an internal cabin, which was adequate with just enough room for the 3 of us. However I think we would get a bigger room for a 2 week cruise. We actually saved approx £500 in one week booking an internal cabin this instead of getting a balcony and a bigger room, which we were pleased with. If you are booking a balcony room, ensure that it is not overlooked and a higher deck would give you better views. We were on the Riviera deck near the top of the ship, which was great as we were near the pool decks. Our cabin steward Angelo was very friendly and nothing was too much trouble. Our extras including drinks, photos and excursions etc. came to approx £650 in one week. We only had 1 bottle of wine with our evening meal so we didn’t bother with the drinks package and we had the benefit of ordering what wine, spirits or beer etc. we wanted without sticking to a pre-ordered package. I think when you buy a package deal with wine, drinks ice cream etc. it just makes to drink more. Finally during days at sea the pool area is naturally very congested. Get up early to get a bed near the pool or you will struggle. Yes the beds are placed close together, but they are comfortable and big enough for you not to be touching your neighbour. We slept in one day and found no beds by the pool, but an older couple near us gave up some of their beds that they were saving for the kids, which I thought was a very kind gesture. People do place towels on the beds, but the ship’s rules state that you can remove them if you wish. I think my wife and I would like to cruise again as it is our silver wedding anniversary next year.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
A 14 nights cruise on Ventura from Genoa. We choose a cruise on the itinerary and value, and we have no loyalty to any cruise line. We tend to book late and have a balcony. Cabin 4/5 - D614 Superior Deluxe Balcony port side midships on ... Read More
A 14 nights cruise on Ventura from Genoa. We choose a cruise on the itinerary and value, and we have no loyalty to any cruise line. We tend to book late and have a balcony. Cabin 4/5 - D614 Superior Deluxe Balcony port side midships on Dominica deck 9. Approx 30% larger than a standard balcony cabin. King bed with quality linen and pillows. We slept well - very quiet. Plenty of UK 3 pin sockets and a few US flat 2 pin 110v sockets. Large lounge area with sofa (a double sofa bed). 2 flat screen TVs - one facing the bed and one facing the lounge area. Kettle & large fridge. In the Superior Balcony grade, you get a bottle of Champagne and box of chocolates on arrival, an atlas, binoculars, robes and slippers, plus canapés and fruit once a week. Plenty of storage space and a large digital safe. Plenty of glasses etc. Housekeeping twice a day. A reasonably sized balcony with 2 lounger chairs and a small table. The larger rooms on decks C and D stick out further than those cabins above and are hence overlooked. This is the price you pay for a larger room or bigger balcony. Bathroom 4/5 - normal cabin size with a full size bath and shower above. Lovely White Company toiletries (deluxe balconies only). Shaver point. Food 4/5 - Cinnamon and Saffron for evening Freedom dining. Bay Tree for fixed Dining at 18.30 and 20.30. Saffron for waiter served breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. We were allocated Freedom Dining in Cinnamon - we ate here most evenings and enjoyed sharing with new people each night, though we do like to break it up by eating elsewhere. The food and service were generally very good. There is no doubt that over time the quality of food on cruises has drifted downwards as prices and profits have been squeezed and it is perhaps no longer "fine dining", but the food is still very good. Entertainment 4/5 - everything was good that we saw. We particularly like the Headliner shows. The main shows are very popular and you need to get to the Arena Theatre 10 min before the show starts. Often, late arrives would be left standing or sitting on the steps. Ship 4/5 - still in good condition. Considering the ship had over 3,000 passengers on board, it never felt too crowded, except on sea days, when we were shocked at how packed the open decks were. Every sun lounger was taken and they were crushed together like sardines, with nowhere near enough deck space for all the passengers on sunny sea days. There were lots of sun loungers stacked up, but no deck space to put them. As often is the case, reserving loungers was endemic, despite warnings in the Horizon daily information sheet. Can't blame the Germans on this ship!! Service 5/5 - we found the staff hard working, efficient, helpful and courteous at all times. Our cabin steward Amelita looked after us very well throughout. Value 5/5 - we booked 10 days before we sailed. We had the choice of a standard balcony at £1,249 per person or £1,349 for a superior balcony - we chose the latter. Great value for a 2 week cruise Med in August including conveniently timed flights and transfers. The daily tip charge of £3.95pp is reasonable, as are the drinks prices and the fact that you can bring some booze on board at ports for consumption in your cabin. Overall 4/5. Hard to fault P&O these days. Sure there were some minor niggles (when isn't there), but overall this was a lovely cruise with a great itinerary and we have no hesitation recommending it. DAILY LOG Day 1 Embarcation in Genoa - a 10.35 departure Titan charter flight from East Midlands to Genoa. We had prebooked our seats. Nice leather seats and reasonable legroom. You can purchase food and drinks on board. The flight took 1hr 45 min and was on time. No collection of bags required at Genoa airport. We were whisked swiftly though to the transfer bus. Lots of P&O staff guiding us. At the port, the cruise check-in was very efficient and we were in our cabin by 14.00. The bags arrived soon afterwards. So from taking off to being on board ship was 2 1/2 hours - remarkable. We did not go into Genoa, but had lunch, unpacked and got to know the ship layout again. All on board by 18.30 and we sailed away at 19.00. Nothing much to see on the sail out except a beautiful private yacht in the harbor with its own helicopter. There was the standard muster drill at 18.30 before we left Genoa. We ate in Cinnamon. Too tired to watch the show. Day 2 Livorno - we docked at 07.30. Not a very pretty sail in. We have been to both Pisa and Florence a number of times before, though not cruising, so we just strolled around Livorno. You cannot walk in the Laverne dock area for safety, so free shuttle buses are provided which takes you into the centre (Piazza Grande). There is a tourist information there. You can get a bus from here to Pisa and Florence for €10 and €15 respectively. The Central Station is a 10 min walk away. We walked along the Via Grande to the central fort, which is surrounded by a wide moat. There are numerous canals in the historical centre called the Venetian Quarter. Plenty of interesting churches to visit - Santa Caterina was lovely. All on board 19.00 - sail away at 19.30. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was very good - Mark Walker, a multi-talented singer, musician, comedian and impersonator. Day 3 at sea - we walked 4 miles (10 laps) of the promenade deck (0.4 miles per lap), then worked on the tan in the afternoon. First Formal night. Captains cocktail party, then we ate in Cinnamon. The show was The Headliners doing music and dance from well known stage shows - excellent. Day 4 Naples - a pleasant sail into the Bay of Naples. We docked at 08.00. Gangway open 08.30. We walked to The Central Station - a 2 km stroll. and took the Circumversuvian Line to Pompeii. - one level below the main station - €2.90pp single fare. The train takes approx 20 min. The entrance to Pompeii ruins is by the station. €11 entrance including a site map. It's a huge site, so take strong shoes. We arrived there before 10.00. By 12.00 it was getting hot and busy with tours, so we left. We took the same train back to Herculaneum for a quick look at the small ruins (€11 entrance), then back to Naples and we were back on the ship by 15.00. I've been to Pompeii before, but it was my first time to Herculaneum. A nice day. All on board 17.30, with some late tour arrivals at 17.45, which didn't delay us. A nice sail away from Naples at 18.00 past Vesuvius, Sorrento, Capri and the beautiful Amalfi coast. We ate in Cinnamon. The show was an excellent trio of male singers doing classic soul and Motown sounds. Day 5 - at sea - a nice sunny sail down the west coast of Italy, through the narrow Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily and into the Ionian Sea. I ran 5 miles around the Promenade Deck in the morning, then spent some time in the sun. Freebee canapés delivered to the room. Second formal night. We ate in Cinnamon. A fine show by the Headliners "Reel to Reel" - music from British films. Day 6 - Dubrovnik - a lovely sail in. We docked at 08.00. There was a shuttle bus from the harbor to the Old Town (£4.50pp each way but worth it). We've walked the walls here before, so we spent a few hours wandering around the streets and the marina. It was a very hot day and the city walls looked very busy. We ate in the main buffet, as it was Tandoori night - very good. The show was another excellent set from Mark Warner. A completely different show from the one a few nights ago. Day 7 - Venice - we arrived at 12.15. It takes a while to enter Venice and larger ships have to be assisted by tugs. It is wonderful to sail into Venice Lagoon, then along the Canal San Marco and past the Grande Canal and St Marks Square - magical. Larger ships will not be able to do this next year and will have to dock elsewhere. We got the People Mover from the cruise terminal to Piazza Roma. €1.30pp each way, or you can walk it, as it's not too far. We walked from Piazza Roma to St. Marks Square and got a Vaporetto (water bus) back €7pp, which takes you fully down the Grande Canal. We spent the afternoon wandering the streets of this wonderful city. You can get a P&O water shuttle from the terminal to near St Marks. £15 for a day unlimited use or £25 for 2 days, but the shuttle does not go down the Grande Canal, whereas the Vaporetto does. It is good value though if you just want to get quickly to St Marks square and back. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was Reflex - the Headliners doing music and dance from the 1980's. A good lively show. Overnight in Venice. Day 8 Venice - we met our friends Peter & Janet who were doing the same 2 week P&O cruise, but from Venice. We used the P&O shuttle boat from near the ship to St Marks. Very efficient. We walked miles around Venice and got lost again. A wonderful sail away sipping cold Prosecco as we drifted slowly along the San Marco canal and past St Marks as the sun set. One of life's great travel experiences. After dinner in Saffron (though we were allocated Cinnamon, you can mix the 2 Freedom dining locations) we had a late night drink in Metropolis. A bit choppy overnight with the win reaching a max of Force 11. Day 9 at sea - we did 10 laps of the promenade deck. Then a few hours in the sun. 3rd formal night. After dinner in Saffron we watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - quite a good song and dance show. Day 10 Kotor - we set our alarm for 6.15 to watch the beautiful sail in. Kotor is at the end of a narrow river valley. We docked at about 08.00. We had to tender into town. We went to The Tamarind bar and got a tender ticket. We were called about 15 mins later. It was a lovely 10 min tender ride to the dock. Kotor is a small and pretty fortified city. We walked the 1,352 steps to the top of the fortress. Fab views from the top. We had a beer and wandered around the cobbled streets. All on board 18.30 and a lovely sail away back down the valley. Dinner in Cinnamon. After the steps, we were too tired for the a show. Day 11 Corfu - a nice sail in past the old fort. We docked at 08.00. We took a short shuttle bus to the old town €1.50 each way. We then walked the short distance to the bus station and caught a local bus to Paleokastritsa (€2.60) each way. A cab would be €50 each way. Paleo is a lovely cove and beach with clear water for swimming. We later caught the bus back to Corfu old town and spent a few hours wandering around the cobbled streets. All on board 17.00. A pleasant sail away. We had dinner in Saffron and did not go to the show, but listened to the pianist in the Atrium. Day 12 at sea - a lovely sunny day to top up the tan. We sailed through the Straits of Messina late morning and then sailed past Stromboli at 13.00. Fourth formal night. We watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - a fine medley of songs by the Headliners from Rogers & Hammerstein. Day 13 Civitavecchia (for Rome) - we arrived at 07.00. The gangway was open at 07.15. The weather suddenly closed in and we saw a number of tornados out to see. A free shuttle bus is provided by the port into the town. We have been to Rome before a couple of times (not cruising). Rome is 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way by road. I don't think you have enough time there to do it justice - much better to fly in and see it properly. We strolled along the Civitaveccia promenade to the central station and took the train to Santa Marinella (10 mins) - a pleasant seaside town (€1.10 each way). Last port return shuttle bus was 18.00. All on board 19.00. The weather was cloudy for the sail away. We had a nice meal in East (£15pp cover charge) and didn't go to the show. Day 14 Ajaccio - we arrived at 08.00 directly on the dock. It is only a few minutes walk into the town. Ajaccio is a very nice, small town with a marina, fort and some nice beaches. We spent a few hours strolling about the tree lined boulevards. Napoleon was born here and his image abounds in bronze. You can easily see it all in a few hours. All on board 16.00. A pleasant sail away and a lovely sunset. We had the "Food & Wine pairing dinner" at The Glasshouse. A cover charge of £30pp applies which includes a glass of wine with each of the 4 courses. There is a set dining time at 18.30, but even though we had pre-chosen our food, we still had to wait until 19.20 for any food. Excellent quality food and wine - 4 courses and 4 wines, with an explanation of each course. A lovely meal in a nice setting, but I could have done without the theatrics of clapping the chefs and waiters etc. An American chap even stood up and gave a short speech in celebration of the event - not sure what that was about. Suitcases outside the cabin by 23.00 latest. There was good & detailed information regarding our disembarcation procedure. Day 15 - disembarkation - we berthed in Genoa before 6.30. You are supposed to be out of your cabin by 07.00, but our kind steward Amelita let us stay until nearly 08.00, as she had lots of other cabins to clean already. After breakfast, we passed time by reading in the peace and quiet of Metropolis on deck 18. Disembarcation is by a colour coding system, which is announced over the tannoy. We were called at on time at 12.30 and bussed to Genoa airport. We were then led to security and passport control. We didn't even have to think what to do. Titan flight ZT9402 took off on time and we had an easy flight back to the UK.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I really don't know where to start! We had really looked forward to this cruise, it was our 10th Wedding anniversary and was a special cruise to celebrate. We were so happy when we arrived, we'd paid extra to have a deluxe ... Read More
I really don't know where to start! We had really looked forward to this cruise, it was our 10th Wedding anniversary and was a special cruise to celebrate. We were so happy when we arrived, we'd paid extra to have a deluxe balcony cabin as it was a celebration, well we regretted it pretty soon. We had a bath as well as a shower in the cabin, although the first night we used the bath, the water couldn't wash away as the plug was stuck and it wasn't going to budge, well we went for the evening meal and when we came back and the beds had been turned down, the bath was still full of water, the room steward had just left it, we spoke to reception and they said it would be dealt with (this unfortunately happened 4 times during our stay in this room which really was poor). My husband actually put a crumb on the floor to see if the room was hoovered, well a week later it was still there! We had net curtains removed from the balcony doors on day 2 and it took us a week to get them returned and had to shut the main curtains every day to keep the room from frying, no explanation for them being taken away for so long, all we got was they had a tear in them! The room steward thought I was in the room alone and wouldn't go away until he heard my husband shouting from the bathroom, he really didn't get the hint and I was standing in my bathrobe. On the second night, Black Tie Night we paid extra to go in the Marco Pierre White restaurant, it was outside under the stars and was lovely, we sat with all the others who had paid extra for the privilege only to find a couple of teenagers were allowed in with football t-shirt and shorts on, his partner had dressed nicely but we were all disappointed, it was Black Tie night, how did he manage to get in passed the restaurant manager, we all felt very fed up about it, but nothing was done, this wouldn't have happened on a Royal Caribbean ship! The entertainment was varied, the shows were a little tedious and some were really good like the comedians and musicians, the dancers did really well. The dining room was very busy always, we had freedom dining which was great, but whenever we went for dinner we had to wait quite a while to eat, the waiters nearly bash you on the head with trays, rush off to serve other tables whilst you're trying to tell them what you'd like, it wasn't very good at all. The destinations were amazing, we were so happy and tried not to let the poor room get us down. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
As a “first-time” cruise experience, we feared it may be somewhat of a disaster (with 2,998 too many other passengers on board) and we were proved right. However we took a punt, and a “last minute” whizz-bang deal + a small ... Read More
As a “first-time” cruise experience, we feared it may be somewhat of a disaster (with 2,998 too many other passengers on board) and we were proved right. However we took a punt, and a “last minute” whizz-bang deal + a small surcharge secured us a cabin with a balcony (thank goodness). Catering on board was OK if you are looking for an efficient dining experience without much graciousness, and almost no hint of “local Mediterranean” flavours. Expect to be processed in and out of the restaurant of your choice (at least, within the provisions of ‘Freedom’ dining), in around 40 mins flat. And if you want to catch some rays, get to the sun decks early and beware the unedifying sight of oiled bodies lining-up in parallel, resembling for all the world the tuna at a Japanese fish market struggling for space. On board entertainment included a number of tribute acts who had evidently taken the view that leaving the U.K. was a good career move. On board shopping was expensive, and even at the on-board Costalot there was no “proper” decaff. The shore excursions were also expensive by anyone’s standards, and don’t think you’ll get to tour the entire island/city; expect an abbreviated trip which will include at least one ‘concession’ where you will be relived of your ££/Euros. And will someone PLEASE explain to local tour guides about the 100ml security requirement at Airports – Corfu must be awash with discarded litre bottles of cumquat liqueur (which is about the best thing to do with it anyhow). There’s a curious expectation that everyone deserves a tip – standard practice is for the operator to bill you automatically – I asked for mine to be rescinded in view of some sub-optimal experiences, but that never happened. Think about it: when was the last time you tipped the train driver/pilot/chambermaid in in a UK holiday experience ? The best part was undoubtedly disembarking but the honeypots and tourist tat did little to enhance our appreciation of destinations we had already previously visited at our own pace and on our own terms. And if you want to sample yet another grubby Italian port, do opt against the “Rome in a day” experience, and explore Civitavecchia….. The last two days were a complete waste of time – we even thought of flying home from Ajaccio and I wish we had. Disembarking at Genoa offered no local sightseeing, instead we had a 2hr 20mins coach transfer to Nice (yes, a whole nother country). 'Nice' views out of the windows though. A couple of plus-points: the baggage handling from Gatwick to Venice (the bags made it safely straight to our cabin); seeing Venice and Kotor glide by in the evening light; and the views of the dolphins accompanying us and as viewed from the tranquillity of our balcony. If you like getting to Gatwick for silly-o-clock; and if an enforced sense of bonhomie on board the ship appeals -- then this is for you. But if you want something other than dumbed-down tourism for the masses, then head for the Alps.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Having read many reviews on here I was tempted to cancel!!! However we reluctantly went expecting the worse however we had a fabulous time and could not fault it. Food was excellent waiters were friendly efficient and professional. Cabin ... Read More
Having read many reviews on here I was tempted to cancel!!! However we reluctantly went expecting the worse however we had a fabulous time and could not fault it. Food was excellent waiters were friendly efficient and professional. Cabin was spacious clean and comfy plenty of towels everyday nice white company toiletries Cleanliness was second to non hand gel readily available Entertainment was also excellent Spa tooooooo expensive Drinks reasonably priced Formal nights lovely good to see it is still on cruise ships and not a lots of scruffy baseball hat to dinner type people!!!!! Speciality restaurants no better than the dinning room in my opinion Ports wonderful Organisation brilliant I am well travelled it is not my first cruise either only god knows why some people complain about everything ... All in all would feel very blessed if I could go again a great British ship which I would support very good review !!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Never been on a cruise before (of any sort), so unsure how it would compare to normal holidays(I normally arrange flights, hotels, transport, restaurants, etc, independently to pick the best that suits my needs). Allocated a balcony cabin ... Read More
Never been on a cruise before (of any sort), so unsure how it would compare to normal holidays(I normally arrange flights, hotels, transport, restaurants, etc, independently to pick the best that suits my needs). Allocated a balcony cabin on the Lido deck, which was not bad, apart from the overweight joggers who thought it fun to get red and out of puff using deck 16 above at 6:30am for their morning run. I soon put to a stop to that by getting the Night Manager to rope off that section of deck until 8am. The cabin itself - Travelodge circa 1985, even down to an open hanging rail rather than a wardrobe. Bed comfortable enough. Air-conditioning not up to the task, and room always too warm. Pointless mini-TV and a 'fridge' that was really a chiller that tried but wasn't up to the task. The bathroom had insufficient ventilation, thus nothing dried properly resulting in a mouldy shower curtain.The lack of drying meant that the cabin steward ended up needing to supply clean (dry) towels twice a day, every day. Food onboard was very patchy. - In the self-service cafeterias (Waterside and the Beach House) quantity over quality seemed the aim of the customers, who didn't seem to mind the luke warm food (chef measured the temperature and told me 65c was fine), noise, and the struggle to find a table. - Frankies Grill - Cheap burgers served on plastic plates. I would say more McDonalds than Byron, I that would be disparaging McDonalds. - Cinnamon and Saffron - Staff friendly and willing, and mostly efficient (apart from all the wine waiters), but the food? The problem was that the menu was overambitious, and they just kept failing to deliver. If somebody offers me a good meal, and they occasionally surprise by producing an excellent meal, I am happy. But if somebody promises me an excellent meal, but most often produces just a good meal, with the occasional rubbish, then I am unhappy. Unfortunately P&O fits into the latter category. The issue seemed to mainly occur in the evenings with the hot food. Cold starters were always perfect, but hot... utterly random. I can only assume an insufficient number of staff in the kitchen. I could also see why the older customers were happy with the food, because the menus seemed about 20 or 30 years out of date. It was certainly not the sort of interesting menu that you would have seen in London this millennium, even in an unambitious restaurant. Freedom dining, fine if you want to share. If not, be prepared to be asked to wait every night for up to an hour. Or they tell you a minimum of half an hour, so you get a drink, and then two minutes later call you. Random, and again not anything seen in any normal restaurant. Dress code, hmm. Take what P&O say with a pinch of salt. Casual evenings translated as "wear anything you like", including a few adult men wearing shorts in the main dining rooms in the evening. Formal evenings, the vast majority (95%+) were wearing dinner jackets and bow ties. The 'dark suit' option was chosen by very few, and I thought they stood out more than those who hadn't changed their dress style from the casual evenings, looking like they had just stumbled in from the office. Bars - Something to suit everyone, from the Metropolis cocktail bar down to the Exchange station Pub (I didn't think downmarket station pubs from the 80's still existed until I saw that one), but the prices were not bad. Entertainment - Much better than expected. Shows usually about 45 minutes, and clearly a lot of money and effort thrown at the productions. Also pleasantly surprised to see that there is a rotation of shows, so you won't see the same acts/shows repeated on a 14 night cruise. One poor entertainment point was the quality of the film projection on the films that were shown. P&O have spent a huge amount on the rest of the entertainment and insufficient on the film projection equipment*. If you want to see a film in TV standard definition quality, blown up onto a cinema size screen, so everything is fuzzy (or if they are showing it in one of the bars, on a 4:3 screen not widescreen), then this is for you. *When I asked, I was told that the equipment that they use to show the films was not intended to do so, but was only intended to show backdrops, etc as part of the stage show. It shows. And a final point on entertainment. If you know that a show is going to be full, what sort of idiot leaves a single spare seat between them and the next group, so that you have two or three empty seats on their own in a row. So don't be shocked when someone asks you to move up. Swimming pools and deck chairs. People were out at 6:30am, especially on sea days, putting out towels to reserve chairs. Their tactics were successful as P&O were utterly ineffectual about doing anything about it, other than to print a small bit in occasionally the newspaper. Port stops, mostly good, but excursions were completely extortionate. And I thought that the captain seemed to express just a little to much pleasure in announcing for several days running, that some people who had gone ashore to Rome had been left behind, especially as he then went straight into a sales pitch for the excursions. Venice - You would have thought that for people travelling independently to the ship, P&O would appreciate that they may need some information such as the berth number and automatically provide it. Alas no. You may also think that they would tell you when check in opens, not just a suggested arrival time. Alas no. You may also think that they would tell boarding passengers which restaurants were open at lunch time, so everyone is not queuing at Waterside. Alas no. Kotor - A long 20 minute tender ashore for a pleasant morning stroll, but not much there. I suspect it is lovely about 8pm in the evening with a cold beer, but of course we had left by then. Corfu - A free port shuttle bus ride to the port gate, and then change to a second (possibly chargeable) P&O shuttle bus ride to the town gate, for a pleasant morning stroll. I know from previous visits Corfu town is lovely about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Rome - From Civitavecchia, a free port shuttle bus ride to the port gate, and then a second chargeable town bus ride to the station, followed by a train to Rome. Absolute chaos at Civitavecchia railway station on the return, as everybody arrived back on the same train, all wanting to catch the single bus that would get them back to the ship before it sailed. Made worse by American's who struggled with the concept of public transport, and had never experienced the joy of the Northern Line on the tube in the morning peak. A nice day seeing the sights, but, and there is theme developing here, I know from previous visits it is lovely about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Ajaccio - France, very definitely France, even down to the dog on the pavements. But nice all the same. I suspect even nicer about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Ajaccio to Genoa - Force 8 winds, so the sick bags were out and being filled. However as I don't get sea sick, after an interesting show where the cast were struggling to stay upright, up to Metropolis to watch the front of the ship going up, up, up and then down, down, down crashing through the waves. Lots of carpets being cleaned around the public toilets the next morning. Genoa - A stroll into town down a street that would have made the Kings Cross area in the 90's feel upmarket. At 9am it was interesting. At 9pm I suspect it is very interesting. A pleasant morning spent strolling the more upmarket areas of Genoa and using the funiculars and lifts to see the views, before returning to the ship for lunch. I used the bus to get back to town in the afternoon, as I had seen enough tattoo parlours and shifty people selling other "goods" and "services" for the day. Livorno - Been to both Pisa and Florence before (and been able to stay past 4pm), so opted to stroll around Livorno, which is a surprisingly pleasant port town without the "interesting" characteristics of Genoa. Naples - Easy day trip out to Herculaneum on the tram and train. Enlivened by pickpockets on the tram on the way back, necessitating a trip to the Naples central Police Station (the cruise port police dealing with people off the cruise ships don't speak anything other than Italian, why would they?). The building and police detective who offered to assist were straight out of the casting for Hill Street Blues. Really helpful guy and worth the hassle going there, as the insurance paid up without question. So the pickpockets did me a favour by getting me a shiny new phone. On the way back to the ship from the police station, a bloke sticks his head around a street corner and says "psst, want to buy an iPhone or an iPad". Dubrovnik - A (possibly chargeable) shuttle bus ride to the town gate. At 9am up on the city walls there were half a dozen people, including a guy running laps of the wall. By 11am, Dubrovnik was full. Completely full. I can understand the desire to rebuild after the 1991-92 conflict, but the whole effect now is rather Disney, except I suspect Disney would do it better. The whole city within the walls now only exists for tourists, with every place being a museum, a bar, a restaurant, or a shop selling tourist tat (catering for all ends of the scale from cheap to expensive tat). And what was amusing was that Croatia uses the Kuna not the Euro, so lots of signs saying "No Euros". Or the sneaky bars not saying whether they did or didn't, but you could be sure it wouldn't be to your advantage if you only had Euros to pay. Hot as hades, by early afternoon, so a nice long queue in the sun to get a shuttle back to the ship. Definitely a place that is nicer at 8pm. Venice again - As the ship stays overnight, then we were able to go into the city late afternoon, and be able to stay into the evening after all the day trippers had left. Much, much more pleasant riding a vaporetto back up the Grand Canal as the sun is setting. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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