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195 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

On arrival aboard the ventura we we greeted with a cabin that was not properly cleaned and to a standard which i would not expect from a second rate youth hostel.Issues of cleanliness included:Dirty stained tea cupsCoffee stains all down a ... Read More
On arrival aboard the ventura we we greeted with a cabin that was not properly cleaned and to a standard which i would not expect from a second rate youth hostel.Issues of cleanliness included:Dirty stained tea cupsCoffee stains all down a wall on cupboard topsA dirty binDirty ashtray on balconyCarpet not well hooveredFinger marks on mirrorBathroom smellingBathroom not well cleanedBathrobe missingI contacted reception and asked for the house keeper to visit the cabin as the hygene and cleanliness was totally unacceptable,on his arrival we were requested to leave the cabin whilst these issues were attended to.not ideal after an 8 hour flight a 1 hour drive and 3 hours at manchester airport. P and O wake up and smell the roses or in this case the toilet! An offer of a complimentary drink or some form of token gesture would have been of some consolation,but not forth coming.All the above issues were dealt with to some degree and i eventually recieved asome what shabby bathrobe which I personally would have been embarresd to donate to a charity shop.Our smelling bathroom saga continued through-out the holiday dispite several matainance men attending to the issue on numerous occassions,I dont believe the issue was ever really solved we became amune to most odours due to the amount of air freshners we had crammed in the room.we found the rest of the ship to be very clean and had no other hygene issues other than with the poor cleaning standard of our cabin,dispite being a suite where we spent a lot of time especially during sea days and sharing with 3 adults ,the cabin was only hoovered at best every other day and minimal house work was done to our cabin at a very poor standard.In the main restaraunts ,primarily evening meals were of a very poor standard to a degree that if i were a paying customer onshore not only would i never return to such a restaraunt i would expect the head chef to apologise for his mismanagement of creating such poorly cooked and presented food.Often badly presented ,very rarley correctly seasoned,very small portions,A pathetic cheese board and very so so menus that would not attract a paying clientel.I found the waiters and most of the dining staff very professional,courteous and polite although reading between the lines after several weeks,i was lead to believe many staff were unhappy on the ship.The best meals in my opinion were breakfast and best be had in the restaraunt as the self service system was generally a mish mash of problems espescially at peak times (9am onwards)day after day the same issues.No cups ,tea spoons or glasses by the drink machinesDirty cups continually being put out by drink machinesLarge waiting times for speacial orders such as a boiled egg, often stood waiting for 5 mins or moreBacon very undercooked and not of a quality one would expect from any restaraunt. I could waffle on about issues with entertainment ect however appreciate that every ones taste are different and trying to appeal to all ages I am sure no one would be pleased all of the time,In fairness i personally thought the evening shows and artist were of a reasonable standard and catered a bit of everything during our 29 days.Conclusion.P and O are certainly allowing standards in all quarters to drop ,in my opinion more of a bargain bucket than an oppulent experience.I appreciate the price of cruising in real terms has probably never been so affordable however ,why do people especially P n O clentele wish to cruise?I would consider P and O to be offering a butlin on the sea experience rather than an opulent ,quality ,fine holiday experience.I have dispite my latest experience with P and O,booked again on the ventura for a simular christmas cruise,for no other reason than this ship is in the right plaice at the right time at an affordable rate to myself.however should the cabin service be of as poor quality let it be known that the captain may be a crew member missing,as for the food i will aim to live off breakfasts and hope the head chef has found his rightful position in life preferably out of a kitchen. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My fiancEe and I have just returned from a 29 night 2010/11 Christmas / New Year cruise on the P&O Ventura - Caribbean / Mexico and USA. Having booked it in October 2009, we had looked forward to it for over a year, so we were very ... Read More
My fiancEe and I have just returned from a 29 night 2010/11 Christmas / New Year cruise on the P&O Ventura - Caribbean / Mexico and USA. Having booked it in October 2009, we had looked forward to it for over a year, so we were very disappointed in the final experience. Having cruised before on the Marco Polo, Sea Princess and Celebrity Summit, all being good experiences, I will however try to be objective and fair. From what we thought we knew about the P&O brand, we thought it would represent a step "Up Market", but Ventura was very much a "Down Market" experience in our opinion. If P&O don't want to damage their brand, then they should take a long hard look at Ventura or possibly market her under another brand. I say this because a significant number of fellow passengers we spoke to not only indicated they would never sail on Ventura again, but many who had no other P&O experience to compare it with, said they would never sail P&O again. Unless we can be convinced otherwise, we also fall into this second category. The ship itself was bright, modern and very clean. The Arena theatre was huge, and there were two main cabaret venues, Havana and Tamarind. There were four swimming pools and several Jacuzzis although half were cold and despite complaints were never warm enough to use. One of the larger swimming pools had a sliding roof for when the weather wasn't too good. Our cabin on C deck was clean, well equipped and had a large balcony with two reclining chairs, a foot stool (only one !) and a small drinks table. The balconies on this deck were about 10 ft x 10 ft, twice the size of most others, half covered so you could still sit out if it rained. We had a good shower room and the open plan area for hanging clothes gave us ample space for two people. We also had a TV, a fridge (un-stocked) and tea making facilities with a good supply of quality tea bags. The drinks onboard where quite reasonably priced and there was a good choice. You did have this daft system of barman needing to serve you via the waiter, but in truth we never found this to be a problem or to create much of a delay. We read many reports of there being too few sun beds, but we could always find some. Ok, they were very closely packed and as you would expect, very heavily subscribed in the pool areas but away from those areas there were plenty. Anyway, we preferred the privacy of our nice balcony. But P&O in their wisdom have marketed this ship to a different type of person from their normal customer and we felt we were not made sufficiently aware of what to expect, hence my earlier branding comments. As well as this, many passengers seemed to have gotten last minute bargain basement deals which brought on board a lot of people who might be better suited to a Butlins holiday. Sorry if this sounds a bit snobby, but it's an honest opinion and a comparison used by quite a number of other passengers. Shaven heads, tattoos and male earrings were much in evidence, as were sweatshirts and bad language. We didn't want the dress code to be too stuffy but there should be some areas of the ship where a reasonable code is enforced, such as the formal restaurants. Even on formal nights it wasn't always. You and your wife might go to a lot of trouble getting all dressed up in your dinner suit or gown, then some scruffy individual was allowed to enter the restaurant and plonk themselves down at your table dressed in polo shirt, jeans and trainers with tattoos up to their ears This was indicative of the general lack of rule enforcement. For example, on other ships there has been a strictly enforced rule about using the hand sanitizer gel before entering any restaurant, but on Ventura no one challenged you if you entered a restaurant without using the gel dispenser. That worried us as I endured a dose of Norovirus once (off ship) and I had no desire to repeat the experience. We were on Freedom Dining, and as we enjoy dinner as a social event, we looked forward to some convivial evenings with our fellow diners, as we have enjoyed on other ships. While we did meet some very pleasant and interesting people on Ventura, there were far too many evenings when we found ourselves on a table of six or eight with folk who had absolutely no conversation or social skills what so ever. Getting an intelligent conversation going could be like drawing teeth, indeed, one evening on a table for six, a couple joined us and while the wife did manage the odd sentence, during the entire meal the husband only said one word, and that was "No" when asked by the wine waiter if he would like wine with his meal. Boring and rude or what ! As far as freedom dining was concerned, we never had a problem waiting too long for a table. However, the food in the main restaurants was pretty bland and unimaginative. If meat and two veg is your thing then OK but we expected much better. There were some good dishes but not many and as for the buffet restaurant, I've had better food in a works canteen. For the alternative restaurants, Beach House was reasonable but in the East restaurant, food was not great and far from authentic Asian. It was little better in Ramblas, the Tapas bar. Here they wanted us to have just a single "starter" dish as a tapas, not a selection. When we ordered the main dish, Paella, we were offered boiled broccoli and roast potatoes as accompaniments - has anyone on the catering staff ever been to Spain or experienced proper Tapas ????? Worst of all though was the unedifying bun fight that passed as breakfast in the buffet restaurant. Never enough tables, cutlery, plates, cups, trays and not a great selection of food either. The design of the severy was so cramped and with no one-way system enforced, people where forever pushing past and over each other in the scramble to get at the food. A served breakfast could be had in two of the three formal restaurants, which was a much more civilised affair but that finished very early at 9:00am (9:30 on sea days). These could have taken some of the strain off the buffet had breakfast been extended to all three restaurants with longer hours, but it was not.. By contrast, the White Room was excellent and we had no problems booking it. We ate there on Christmas evening at a supplement of £30, but this included a quality glass of wine with each course and again on the last formal night, (supplement £20) wine excluded. Both times we opted to dine outside under the stars. However, supplements are all very well, but not if you have to upgrade just escape to poor quality elsewhere onboard. Most of the chefs were by all accounts Indian / Asian so it came as no surprise to occasionally find an excellent curry on the buffet lunch menu. So why on earth they did not make far more use of this asset and do more of it or even turn East into a truly authentic Indian venue is beyond us. With some exceptions, in general we found the staff to be a bit surly, and a few almost rude, particularly in the buffet restaurant and the bars up on deck. We think half the problem was that the remuneration system didn't serve to motivate them well enough Generally speaking the entertainment was amateurish at best and awful at worst, with a few of notable exceptions. Chris Walker and his Jazz band were very good, and several of the tribute acts were also good. There was some pretty inane daytime entertainment around the main pool but luckily you could escape this by using one of the other pools. The casino was a bit limited and unfortunately for it's adherents formed part of the Exchange bar, which was an onboard "Pub". Here the entertainment hit rock bottom. You could enjoy such delights as an evening of excruciating karaoke. The Great British Pub Night featured a sing-along evening with songs such as Knees up Mother Brown, Roll out the Barrel and My Old Man, amongst other traditional British sophistication, while red-faced guests sat around waving little Union Jack flags and swilling pints of lager. The only things missing were a Glamorous Granny competition and a Knobbly Knees contest. Hi-De-Hi !!! This event was packed out, which could mean P&O had got it right, conversely it could demonstrate the type of clientele they had succeeded in attracting. Brands are meant to stand for something definitive, that's the whole point of them. They should distil the very essence of what you are about and project that image, clear and unambiguously deep into the heart of your intended market, so that when customers buy into them, they know precisely what to expect - P&O, if you value your brand, for heaven's sake do something about Ventura Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
As first time cruisers we weren't too sure what to expect. Not sure we would go with P & O again as on speaking to our fellow passengers they too were disappointed with several things. The evenings were great, met with some ... Read More
As first time cruisers we weren't too sure what to expect. Not sure we would go with P & O again as on speaking to our fellow passengers they too were disappointed with several things. The evenings were great, met with some very lovely people (how lucky we were). The gentleman was right about the sunbeds, not enough to go round and I understand that the shop had capacity for another 800 people, god only knows what it would have been like at sea on those days if you wanted to sit up top. The food was great but the customer service could have been improved. Didn't see much of anyone in authority walking round and the teenagers and some adults were diving, bombing etc despite warning notices. The staff when told at reception weren't interested, and there could have bneen a serious incident. As the prices on the cruise were offered at very reduced prices it made it very cheap for some undesirables who showed that they didn;t know how to behave on a luxury cruise liner. Bit disappointing if you had paid full price. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and ... Read More
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and O since the Worldie in 2008 since when we have been with Cunard, RCI and Celebrity Sat 5th June We left Chelmsford at 0930 and my inbuilt SmartNav certainly earned its keep on this 130 mile journey. It found delays on the M 25 where the M1 joins and took us across on the A404 to rejoin further down, then before the M3 junction and we had a trip bringing back memories down the A30 before rejoining the M3 which had a further problem in the Winchester area which meant a further deviation eventually arriving 3 ½ hours later. One of our table companions lives 10 miles nearer and it took him 4 ½ hours. Then we were stacked in lines by CPS not helped by getting a text from Iain on the Independence of the Seas saying he and Lynn were having their first drink of the day. Once in the terminal building we were directed to the assisted disabled check in which was so busy we were asked to sit and wait so opted to use the Gold Members' check in which took just a couple of minutes and so looked forward to our first ever Goldie drinks. Wrong !!! None available. We found our disabled balcony cabin which was superb as expected and ventured up to the buffet lunch where at least I could buy a proper English beer. On the way back we tried the disabled access out onto the Promenade deck but I got stuck and Rosemary was amused when the passenger helping me said "take it steady Pop" !! After lifeboat drill the Captain allowed Grand Princess and Independence sail out past us and I could just imagine Iain and Lynn enjoying their Diamond free drinks !! We were on second sitting dinner in the Saffron restaurant and had a lively table for eight but we found it strange they were all British. After the first night the waiters encouraged me to take my scooter to within a couple of feet from the table. On the way someone shouted "there's Norman on his scooter" and disappeared. We thought it might be Iain's friends who were also on the ship but turns out they were lurkers on WLC (told us their names but of course I have forgotten them). We did meet Iain's friends later in the week in La Rochelle Sunday 6th June A comfortable crossing of the Bay of Biscay and although Rosemary went to Line Dancing we didn't do much at all. I did ring housekeeping as we didn't have our bath robes. A house keeping officer soon appeared to say we were not entitled to robes as these were only for those in superior balcony cabins and above and our super cabin was not a superior grade and even our Goldie status didn't qualify for one. I explained that our friends on Oriana had them but he replied that on Oriana they only had standard cabins anyway. I asked to speak with a senior officer to explain that P and O's policy was so outdated compared with RCI, Cunard and Celebrity but all that happened was they said my complaint would be logged and sent to shore side. Come on P and O get with it !! We did like the idea of the pre dinner 7.30 pm shows and noted that P and O now serve drinks like they do on the American ships and there are aircraft style drinks tables. We can't remember having seen Mike Doyle before but he was brilliant. This was followed by the Captain's cocktail party which we were surprised was held in the atrium with no seats available although I was on my scooter. Drinks flowed freely provided you wanted gin and tonic or white wine. We did learn there were over 1100 first time cruisers on this ship. Dress code was fairly OK in the dining room but not too good in other parts of the ship. Monday 7th June La Curuna Moored very close to town we had a walk by the Marina and as the sun came out realised we had left the sun screen in the cabin so had to get some from a local chemist after which we continued across the peninsular to the beach. There was a magnificent promenade with wonderful disabled access and also a vintage tram which followed the coast but curiously no bars or restaurants so we wandered back to the ship for lunch. Our Goldie presents arrived today which were two boxes each containing three miniature bottle of spirits - a nice change from the rubbish we have had in the past. Again we went to the pre dinner show which was Martin Daniels. I first saw Paul his dad before he became famous and Martin tonight was so funny I and the lady sat in front of me had tissues out to wipe the tears of laughter from our eyes. Disabled access to the theatre was superb although there were no designated seats for carers like we found on Oriana. We started going for after dinner drinks in the Metropolis and the first night the video wall was was set in Sydney right where we were berthed on Aurora and Oriana so that brought back memories. There were other entertainment venues one of which was Tamorind but we could never get a seat in there and the Exchange pub which we both found was a depressing place and the train never was working - the barman said it was the effect of volcanic ash !! I should have said I am finding the food at dinner quite acceptable especially as I found out the a prawn cocktail is always available as a starter. I was surprised when I asked for a steak knife because of my arthritic hands to be told they do not have steak knives on this ship !! The waiters were very good though and always asked if I wanted the meat cut up. Amazing having found out that one couple (American) who were on our table on the Constellation will be with us on the first leg of our Celebrity Equinox Cruise next January one couple on our table this time are booked on the second leg of that same cruise. Tuesday 8th June Bilbao Free shuttle buses were provided (they had taken the trouble to phone me earlier to say that disabled transport might not be available but with Rosemary's help I can get into a coach and the scooter goes in the luggage compartment) but as the weather was cloudy and the bus journey time was 45 minutes we decided to just have a wander round the marina area and beach and returned to the ship for lunch before it rained. Wednesday 9th June La Rochelle I've just found a note on my iPod that there were horrendous queues for breakfast in the buffet area yesterday morning - something I've not come across on other ships. P and O again laid on free shuttle buses for the 20 minute journey into town. They were using a mixture of coaches and bendy buses and the latter had driver operated electric ramps so fine for disabled users. After a wander round we chose a tent covered outside restaurant where Rosemary had her long awaited Moules and chips and being boring like I am joined her with a mushroom omelette all of course washed down with wine. During this time it was raining but they extended the tent top to cover my scooter. Fortunately it had stopped by the time we left and just as well it had as we met Iain's friend who introduced himself and warned us of a very lengthy shuttle bus queue. My word indeed it was and it disappeared out of sight around two street corners !! Everyone of course was moaning and there were no taxis to be seen and we felt sorry for oldies having to stand whilst I was sitting on the scooter. I suppose it was just over half an hour before we boarded and on sailaway the captain apologised and said it was due to some of the French bus drivers deciding to go to lunch. Thursday 10th June Brest/Quimper We had booked the P and O tour to Quimper (a one hour journey)where the coach just drops you off for three hours and I would confirm that P and O still offer the best service to disabled passengers on tour. Stickers delivered to the cabin the night before and a big personalised reserved poster on the front seat of the coach. As Amanda and Karen had commented a few weeks ago it is a lovely place but unlike for them the weather again was not too good. However, we found a creperie and indulged. After a big savoury one we both plumped for the sweet one which is flambEed at the table and served with ice cream. Well it was Rosemary's birthday and we had decided not to pay the £25.00 per person for the White Room as the menu did not excite (MPW was on board until we got to Bilbao). On Oriana Rhodes it was only £15.00 reduced to £10.00 for your birthday. East appeared nearly empty most nights but I don't like Indian food anyway. Oh and the waiters do not sing at the table now unless you pay for it (I presume) as one or two did have the singing during the week. Friday 11th June Guernsey At last the weather started to improve and we met our friends from the dinner table on the last Worldie who live there. We only had to wait about 15 minutes to be called for the tender and they didn't hesitate to load my scooter onto the tender (Cunard please note !!). Then when we got a call from our friends who we weren't able to contact whilst waiting to say they were picking us up P and O took the scooter back to the ship for me. Saturday 12th June We had tickets for a 9.00 am departure and were called 15 minutes early. The porter loaded the car with my spare keys while I waited at the CPS kiosk and unlike the journey down we had no problems and were home in 2 ½ hours. Summary I am really trying to make any criticism constructive so let's start off with the positives. This cruise in a super disabled access cabin was only £78 per day (after our credit) P and O wine prices were cheaper than others and so were the drinks although the latter can be offset by the strength of the drinks. P and O also let you take on board drinks to have in your cabin P and O are amongst the best for looking after their disabled passengers (once you can persuade them to let you have a disabled access cabin). For official tours they are THE best. The entertainment was very good and being on second sitting we enjoyed the pre dinner shows. The CD Leon de la Croix is the best afloat. Ventura had good disabled access except for getting out onto the Prom deck Despite recent postings on cruise sites the food was good and the silver service they have retained was welcome. The price for alternative dining was high however. Having tea and coffee making in the cabin is also a welcome P and O treat (but I have read somewhere that Eclipse will offer this) Free shuttle buses As for the ship itself the main problem was getting lost !! We have a lot of experience of big ships but were still getting lost on the last day. The big problem was that you can't walk right through the ship and not all lifts go to all areas all of which was not helped by very poor signing. Finding a sign was one problem - reading it was another. The ship as I have said was packed and finding a seat in the alternative entertainment venue was almost impossible (Tamorind ?) The exchange pub didn't appeal to either of us but we both enjoyed the ambience and music in the Metropolis. The buffet area was again very crowded and not once did anyone offer any help (except Rosemary of course !) We were used to P and O charging for fruit juice at lunchtime but they also charge for ice cream and I also noticed flicking through the room service menu that a lot of items were at an extra cost. Bar service in the buffet was good however. We did enjoy the experience but found five ports in five days was hard work and we were unfortunate with the weather. I can understand lovers of Oriana and Aurora not liking this ship and I thought maybe P and O were trying to compete with RCI but Amanda on WLC suggested that they are trying to fill the void being left by Ocean Village. Maybe the next decent offer we get from P and O will be on Arcadia but we do now have three booked on Celebrity Norman Kerridge June 2010 PS I do have my video on line http://www.vimeo.com/13427851 Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
My Son George (age 12) and I are veterans of many cruises! We have been on Princess many times (we are both big fans, my son especially of the foods. The pancakes at breakfast live on in his imagination), Holland America once(but I am sure ... Read More
My Son George (age 12) and I are veterans of many cruises! We have been on Princess many times (we are both big fans, my son especially of the foods. The pancakes at breakfast live on in his imagination), Holland America once(but I am sure that will be repeated as they were excellent)and once on Cunard (which we found a bit stuffy, frankly). So this past Easter we decided to try cruising British style from Southampton. I should explain we are both English and resident in Sussex so getting to the Port in 3 hours was a dream start, compared with the delights of Terminal 5 and a 10 hour flight! We arrived early, about midday, and had a super fast check in. In about 15 minutes we were on board, which was wonderful. Our cabin was lovely: a deluxe balcony, with a proper bath room and full size bath. That made a nice change from some American ship bathrooms,which have been so small that I have had to rest my leg on the basin, whilst still in the shower, in order to do my legs! The toiletries on board were Temple Spa and very high end indeed. Of course, George was far more impressed with the TV system that had a channel showing Top Gear and Jonathan Creek 24/7. The ship is large, but the design was virtually identical to the Crown Princess that we had cruised on recently, so we instinctively knew our way around. The Positives: sounds silly, but I hate a build up of dirty laundry, so I was very pleased with plentiful and free (!) washing machines and tumble dryers. As I had brought my own detergent and softener (I told you I need to get out more...) I was in laundry heaven. The speciality restaurants were outstanding and worth the price of admission alone. My son and I ate at The White Room 5 times! It was amazing: service, food and location, although at the top of the ship (deck 17) it did tend to sway a bit in high wind. Not that this put my son off his steak... The pools were really well designed, but on sunny days they were very crowded. The Pizza and Burger restaurants on Lido deck were very good. The kids club was very lively and my son discovered class mate on the same cruise! What are the odds of that! The Port excursions were good value and cheaper than we had paid on some American lines. There was a speciality coffee shop called Tazzine that served fab coffee and had great staff, so we became regulars there. The Negatives: some staff had a real attitude problem, especially the Lido deck bar staff. They could be quite rude and off hand. Other staff, like our steward, were just lovely. The food was quite variable: other than the speciality restaurants, we found the food not much better than acceptable and breakfasts in particular were ordinary. The entertainment was a bit too "Butlins" for our tastes. Sounds so snobby, which we are not, but I suppose George and I really prefer spending evenings in our cabin, where we play poker for chocolates (he always wins, I swear he cheats) The weather was pretty lousy: high winds and not a lot of sun, so we were very disappointed in that, but not P & O's fault. Excursions and Ports: We loved Gran Canaria and enjoyed a trip on a submarine. Good value and great for kids. Lisbon was excellent, and coming in to dock under the bridge and past the great statute of Christ the King when the sun was coming up, was just breathtaking. The weather in Tenerife was dreadful so we stayed on board. Madeira was cold. We had arranged a dolphin watching trip which was good and we saw plenty of dolphins, but the cold wind was a little too brisk. In the other ports, like Vigo and Cadiz, we just wandered around under our own steam. Conclusion: we enjoyed the cruise, but will probably not choose P & O again, simply because the trip made us yearn for turquoise blue Caribbean seas. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
First time we had been on Ventura - the cabins are great. We had a super one with an extra large balcony at the aft end of the ship - this proved to be our sanctuary. Whilst this is quite a pleasant ship it certainly lacks the wow factor ... Read More
First time we had been on Ventura - the cabins are great. We had a super one with an extra large balcony at the aft end of the ship - this proved to be our sanctuary. Whilst this is quite a pleasant ship it certainly lacks the wow factor of Celebrity Soltice and is a good deal smaller even though it carries the same number of passengers. Our main disappointment was the lack of really nice places to go for a drink, a nice club bar was needed. The large bar at the top of the ship with its big video screen was the best, but on the whole the staff were not very pleasant or helpful. The biggest disappointment was the huge pub style bar which dominated along with the casino most of the midships area. This I likened to going to darts at the Lakeside Club!! Inane quizzes and football on TV in this huge barn of a room was not for us! Where had all the interesting talks from celebrities gone - in fact anything that would expand your mind a bit! The entertainment seemed to comprise of sales opportunities for the gym and spa or else shopping. I think there was also bingo! With no dedicated cinema, films were shown in different places around the ship and unless they were actually shown in the theatre then it was pretty unsatisfactory. The food in the Saffron restaurant was mostly acceptable, apart from a dreadful gala dinner. Although we did all say that the staff did not seem to be the usual happy bunch and wondered if there was some problem behind the scenes. Our regular waiters at dinner where pleasant, but that could not be said for some of the ones at lunch and breakfast. Whites restaurant was brilliant, however, and we would thoroughly recommend this - especially dining out under the stars - magic. We also enjoyed tapas at Ramblas. We had a horrendous Thompson flight out with a stopover in Shannon - making it 14 hours door to door (and we only live 5 mins from the airport)! On arrival in our cabin it was disappointing to have a filthy loo! The steward cleaned this with apologies and then worked hard to make amends, but not a good start. It was disappointing that some of the passengers did not keep to the dress code - bare chests and tattoos in the restaurants were not remedied by the staff. Perhaps they were too scared of some of the passengers, after two passengers were thrown off for punching a waiter! We avoided the main sundecks after finding some people shouting to one another and raucous laughter at the top of their voices. We all want to have fun, but found that there were too many of the loud ones to make the sunbeds a pleasant place to relax. We actually enjoyed the shows, although there was a lot of criticism from others. I know the main singer could not sing, but he had great stage presence!! The two acrobats and the dancers were fantastic. We enjoyed a couple of the comedians, although a Billy Connolly tribute act was absolutely dire and we were boxed in and could not escape! There were some pretty awful stand alone singers too. One girl, however, had a fantastic voice, but her comedy was sooooo bad we all felt embarrassed for her. Any show held in the nightclub, Havana, seemed to be dire - it really is a very horrid room. Having said that the sound insulation is very good as our cabin was over this and we could not hear a thing!! All in all, lovely to get some sunshine, but it was not only us who thought that P & O had become Butlin's at sea. Sadly after 10 years of cruising around the world, we don't think that P & O will get our business again - they have dumbed down too far. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
It's been about a week and a bit since we got back from our cruise, and finally am on top of the washing for me to be able to put down a proper review.Our cruise to tbe Baltics on Ventura (booked when they first opened bookings last ... Read More
It's been about a week and a bit since we got back from our cruise, and finally am on top of the washing for me to be able to put down a proper review.Our cruise to tbe Baltics on Ventura (booked when they first opened bookings last year!), was the first for me and my two sons.  The wife has been on Oriana before.Firstly, I will say that the new Ocean Terminal in Southampton, very efficient, and was impressed at how easy it was to not only get in, but how organised the embarkation was, it took about an hour from dropping the car off to being onboard.One matter that did keep recurring on the ship was the issue of the Norovirus that had been evident from a previous cruise.  Although you can see most staff were doing their best to play the seriousness of it down, the ship was in a state of red alert.  I think by the end of the cruise, the norovirus was pretty much contained, though it'll always be there.Took a while to get my bearings around the ship, found a few dead-ends sometimes, but that wasn't a problem.  The Tamarind club felt like it was a corridor most of the time which was strange, the Havana club is a nice layout at the back of the ship, and did host the Scalextric sessions during ship days.  Have to admit, I was a tad disappointed with the Scalextric, as I was anticipating a huge layout, and found one that was roughly 12' by 8', and also kept breaking down, but it was fun while it worked, especially when an octogenarian Iris, beat the pants off hardened boy-racers!!The Waterside restaurant was supposed to be self-serve, but due to the norovirus, had to be manned, which made it a manic visit in there and finding seats could be difficult.  Secret here is, don't be afraid to share a table with people, a cruise is supposed to be a sociable thing.  You wouldn't believe that a few times people just didn't want you sat at 'their' table!!  Each breakfast and evening we ate in Saffron, and our waiters were Rajesh and Santosh, two top blokes, very attentive and nothing was too much trouble.  Our wine waiter was Sid, who we found to be a great guy as well, and helpful.  The dinner menu's we found to be on the whole really nice, a good variety.  Yeah there were a few times things didn't go quite to plan, but they were sorted out quickly.Breakfast times, however were absolutely manic, and at times disjointed.  One other issue we found was that although we had asked to be put on a large table, we were put on a small table for four, which at times was a very tight squeeze.  Head Waiter was unable to move us, and even at breakfast times, we were put on the small tables, so did feel that although P&O advertise this as more of a family orientated ship, we were segregated from other people because we were a family.  But I digress.Reports from the boys about the kids clubs were that they were fantastic, and when we got onboard, found a good schedule for the whole cruise, and the boys were never bored, and at times, hardly saw them.  Think it helped on this cruise that there were only 80 children onboard.  Facilities in the kids clubs were good, and they defo liked the Cirque Ventura when it worked (weather permitting!)Disappointed that we never saw the captain, think at best I saw the Staff Captain about two or three times, but due to the norovirus, the Captain's Reception/Gala, was cancelled.  Most people were disappointed with this, which I concur with. Not expecting to become best friends with them, but to either hear or see the Captain now and then would be nice.Photographers on the ship have a difficult job in parts getting their photos right, and we found two stood out from the rest.  Lynette was defo one of them, and another chap whose name I forgot was the other, but they had a natural flair for it, and more often than not we bought some of their photos.There were four formal nights, and the rest was smart casual.  Formal nights were great, wife loves them, as she has a bit of a wardrobe for this, including her favourite blue sky dress.  Smart casual is something I take issue with.  Many a time I saw people wearing t-shirt and jeans in there.  Was not impressed with this, especially if in the case of my two boys, we were more dressed informally with ties and shirts for me and the boys, and a smart dress for the wife.  Think they need to have informal nights to maintain a decent standard.Cleanliness of the ship was patchy, with some of the cleaners either over-zealous, or slack.  Found the Arena theatre is way too small, and I think many people were disappointed to miss out on some good shows.The astronomy talks by de St. Croix (sp?) were well done, and if you do a Baltics cruise to Russia, hopefully you will get the guy we had, who knows everything about Faberge, Russian Dolls and all things Russian.We opted for an part-obstructed oceanview cabin with pullmans, but the view wasn't really obstructed, and was nice and comfortable, bigger than we anticipated.To summarise, although the cruise was a nice one, and we didn't let the few days of bad weather ruin things, just felt there was something missing.  Still can't put  my finger on it.  Will say wife and I were well rested after the holiday, which at the end of the day, says that it's worth it. I just think that the ship could have had a few better features on it, and I don't feel I got the true P&O feeling that I was expecting.Still the wife and the kids, plus mother-in-law are booked on Azura next year, so be interesting to see how it compares.  For me, the Baltics are definitely an area I would recommend you visit once or twice in your life.Would I go on P&O again?  Probably, but more than likely not on Ventura, unless I know that they've got on top of the ships issues.  There are so many other cruise companies out there with nice ships, you've got to try them all!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I will try to be positive but it's quite difficult.  You just got the impression that P&O and the crew found this ship just a bit beyond their capabilities.  You also feel Royal Caribbean would have had no such problems. We ... Read More
I will try to be positive but it's quite difficult.  You just got the impression that P&O and the crew found this ship just a bit beyond their capabilities.  You also feel Royal Caribbean would have had no such problems. We have only cruised once before - two years ago on Navigator Of The Seas.  A great ship, well run.  But we liked the Baltic city itinerary and fancied being a bit "posher" with P&O (or so we thought). So let's start with some positives: The evening meals in the formal restaurants were great.  Food was good quality and hot.  Good choice.  This was the best part of the ship.  We also enjoyed the made to order pizzas near the pool.  The buffet restaurant seemed to be liked by many but it was poor compared to Royal Caribbean. Freedom dining:  This worked well on the whole and we'd certainly take this option again. Bar prices are reasonable - basic pub prices. The deck space is good.  Lots of sun beds in a variety of locations but also options for chairs and tables. Good variety in the entertainment locations and seminar options. A well equipped gym.  I loved the mountain bikes with the screens to race round various tracks. Contrary to other reviews we've seen, we actually liked the cruise's entertainment director - his jokes were corny but funny. There are a number of good things on Ventura but some things you shouldn't have to experience: Getting late into ports.  We lost two hours of our visit to Copenhagen due to lateness and then being docked miles out from town despite all the information saying we would be close to the Mermaid statue.  Spoilt our plans for the day as there wasn't enough time.  We were also late for the next port. Queues - everywhere.  At least this was the case during the first week.  For breakfast, lunch, dinner; to get off the ship, to get a ticket for the shuttle. Seemed to get better in the second week, but that may have been that we went later to everything and avoided the queues. Lateness of programmed events.  On several occasions we were kept waiting whilst previous events were running late.  At one point, as paying customers, we were kept waiting outside the Tamarind Club for the Salsa class whilst a band rehearsed.  That was extremely poor. A dirty ship due to lack of cleaning (see below). The worst reception staff I've ever come across.  Never helped once.  They were content to simply say, "Your steward should deal with that" and never make sure it was dealt with for you.  If you wanted a form they never had copies at reception.  Instead you even had to see your cabin steward for the memo detailing how you should tip your steward!  We logged a fault with our bathroom on the second day - and then again on the fifth - but nothing was ever done about it. Add to that that we were told on arrival on the ship that they had experienced the dreaded Novo virus from the end of the previous cruise and would need to put various measures in place.  I'm not qualified to know whether the measures they took were sensible or appropriate but they certainly impacted badly on the cruise experience.  These measures included:   ·         Making the self-service Waterside buffet restaurant into a served one.  This meant staff standing serving everything in a space not designed for them - causing congestion. Closing the Beach House restaurant - because they were using the staff at Waterside.  This didn't open for the entire cruise. Not vacuuming anywhere. So by the end of the cruise the cabins and corridors were really dirty.  In the last few days some passengers, including myself were getting bitten. Introducing bacterial hand wash - as if this was not standard practice. Cancelling the Captain's Gala.  Additionally the captain was not to be seen by anyone until into the second week.  Rumours were going round that he wasn't on board - he was that invisible.  He took the Sunday service on the second week and was never seen again. Our cabin was fine.  We only went for the basic inside cabin - we don't intend to spend our cruise in there.  The same cabin type on Navigator meant a bigger space with a sofa, but we liked having the fridge plus tea and filter coffee. We enjoyed the dance classes and the opportunity to practice in the evenings.  But the dance floor was woefully small and unable to cope with the numbers. On the whole the entertainment was fine.  The shows were good but some of the solo singers were "samey".  The ships group, Powerhouse, were excellent.   Talks were good - we particularly enjoyed hearing Derek Redmond.  Entertainment was more varied and better quality on Navigator. We did enjoy the cities visited - Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Oslo all excellent. Overall, great places to go, but there's got to be a better ship to see it from.  You never felt there was anyone that really cared what you thought or that everything was okay for you.  Another itinerary, with better weather and no stomach virus going around, maybe others will think the ship is great.  At the end of the day we went to some great places and ate lots, morning noon and night.  So can't be a bad way to spend two weeks.  Will we cruise again?  Yes - in a couple of years, probably.  On P&O?  Possibly, but they are quite far down the list now.  We'd prefer to go back to Royal Caribbean.   On Ventura?  Seems very unlikely. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Can't fault the transfer to/from airport - Thomson holiday, but First Choice flight from Gatwick. Food terrible, but leg room good (Row 11). Same seats on return journey so ensure you choose wisely on way out. Once baggage checked ... Read More
Can't fault the transfer to/from airport - Thomson holiday, but First Choice flight from Gatwick. Food terrible, but leg room good (Row 11). Same seats on return journey so ensure you choose wisely on way out. Once baggage checked in - that's it until you receive it at your cabin. Excellent. Ship absolutely massive - first sight from outside showed fantastic promise. Unfortunately, on entering, dirty carpets and overall impression of tiredness - bit like it's newly arrived guests! What should have happened was that we would have been given a nice refreshing drink to welcome us onboard. Such a simple and cheap gesture would have made a very good impression. Not a sniff of one however! Cabin great. Appreciated the dressing area. Bathroom v. small but adequate. Steward (Victor)fantastic. Food - plenty of places to eat and all in all, not bad. Some dodgy curries on at lunch-time in Waterside restaurant - omelette for instance, but choice enough generally for all. Spa area - great. Wait for the special offers and treat yourself. We had 5 treatments for a total of £45.00, which we found to be great value and absolutely lovely. Pools - adults only area at the Terrace Bar much appreciated. Sunbeds - suggest you become a token German as otherwise you've had it! Note to pool guys - far too closely laid out. Give people a chance to breathe. They are on holiday! Entertainment - don't get me started!!! Absolutely dire. Shoot the blonde! Take ear plugs/blindfolds/empty brain/sense of humor and v. large drink. Better still, just don't bother - they don't! The other v. annoying thing was the entertainment director, Leon prat something or other, announcing over the tannoy in the cabins some insignificant news about his stupid itinerary. Go away you imbecile. Who cares what you've got to say and if they do, they can hear you half a dozen other times around the place - just don't invade our private space. Thank you. Islands visited - forget St Vincent and Martinique. Dreadful. Filthy. Unwelcoming. Otherwise, lovely islands and great beaches. $15 for two sunbeds and an umbrella. Great shopping in St Martin. Is that it? Seems so. Oh, the weather was great! Now where's that brochure for the Far East - on ANY OTHER SHIP! Cheers. Lindsey. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
The flight from Manchester to Barbados (Thomson) was comfortable but the service was terrible and the food no better. The transfer to the ship and the embarkation was extremely efficient as usual in Barbados. On return we were delayed - ... Read More
The flight from Manchester to Barbados (Thomson) was comfortable but the service was terrible and the food no better. The transfer to the ship and the embarkation was extremely efficient as usual in Barbados. On return we were delayed - expected these days - but service again was really poor. Cabins are absolutely fine - bathroom very tiny but OK. Food in the Waterside was OK but the salad bar and cold buffet selection was the poorest I have ever seen. If you have been to a Pizza hut and paid £1 extra to allow you to go to the salad bar then this was it. Bowls of cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, tasteless potato salad, chopped lettuce, pasta salad, and grated carrot - every day. You had the choice of wafer thin tasteless ham or crab sticks or a piece of smoked haddock. Never saw prawns or salmon as on other cruises. Paid extra and ate at the Marco Pierre White restaurant on 3 occasions and also East Restaurant on another 3 nights. Well worth it. Entertainment started OK with Neil Diamond look a like and a Rod Stewart look alike and then went down hill. There are no quiet bars for you to get away from the noise of everything else going on. Each bar is a thoroughfare, great for people watching but to have a nice quiet drink - no chance. No games room if anyone wanted this. Should anyone want to play bridge, whist, or join in a quiz then all these activities were done in a restaurant with the waiters setting tables around you. Sunbeds on sea days are a nightmare. They are so close together that you have to kneel on them and then turn around. One side of the ship was for non smokers but that did not stop anyone from smoking anywhere. The passengers could give the Germans a lesson on towels on sunbeds, not only did they reserve beds on one side of the ship, but on the other as well for when the sun moved. (By the way, they even reserve tables in the Waterside with the towels - I had a few moments in that restaurant). If you sat near the pool areas then ear plugs were required. The music is so loud, no chance of relaxing or reading at all. Sometimes it was not an option as there were no other sun beds. Children are unsupervised in the pools. Signs of no jumping or diving are displayed but obviously neither the children or the parents could read. We are not an old couple but this ship is just a floating Butlins catering for families. Very little concern for anyone that has come on holiday for a rest, a chance of a quiet area somewhere, nice food and decent entertainment. You sat through acts that you would never have dreamed of going to see at home. Ventura and maybe P & O not for us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Our own embarkation was swift and hassle free although the same could not be said for our luggage - which did not arrive until some 6 hours after we had originally landed! Our cabin was fantastic. Double bed was sooo comfortable, ... Read More
Our own embarkation was swift and hassle free although the same could not be said for our luggage - which did not arrive until some 6 hours after we had originally landed! Our cabin was fantastic. Double bed was sooo comfortable, beautiful pillows and linen. Excellent Cabin Steward. Pleased and relieved we opted for a cabin with sofa and balcony - at times it was necessary to opt for our 'own space' - although the balcony was overlooked by all those above it. We were dreadfully disappointed with the lack of quality and quantity of shows in the Arena. The advertising led us to believe that there would be "full floor shows every evening". There was nothing of the sort for our first 3 nights and then we were treated to an absolutely terrible rendition of Saturday Night Fever. The team did up their game considerably in the subsequent shows - but then they needed to, but only appeared every other night. One of the Comics was appearing near Skegness 25 years ago - he's still doing the same gags! Jayne Curry in the Havana Club was brilliant however. We attended several art and jewelry talks which were time well spent. We also went to a culinary display which spurred us on to eat in the East Restaurant 3 times and the White Room twice. The whole experience in both of these restaurants is difficult to describe in words, suffice to say that the food, staff, ambience and dEcor are world class and we defy anyone to want better - we doubt it would be possible. Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon was also wonderful and we were always made aware of other options should there be nothing to our taste on the menu - there always was. We always opted for a table for 2 (we go on holiday to be together and really don't feel the need to share with others - which is apparently not the idea behind cruising). We did not enjoy the cramped conditions of sun beds - so we instead sunbathed on port days when it was relatively quiet and amused ourselves away from the masses on sea days. We were both quite shocked by the rocking of the ship through the night on several occasions. We most definitely would not wish to experience less calm water if this was how the ship coped in never anymore than 'moderate' seas. Although there were a number of children on board - they never caused us any disturbance. In the main the loud and disagreeable passengers were of the much older generation. Compared to the ports, shopping on board was extremely reasonable. We did do a couple of comparison checks and the ship was cheaper both times. The Lladro is a particular bargain. Iced coffee is a must from the bar on Deck 5 in the Atrium. The Spa is excellent but expensive - wait for the Port day offers. Visit Kevin for Reflexology - at the very least attend his Workshop. Talk to the jewelry guys in 'Eternity' they will not pressure you to buy but they are happy to talk to you about how to look out for the best stones and how to clean your old ones! Browse Whitewall Galleries - they've got some amazing artwork and are very knowledgeable and personable people. We were surprised and disappointed to realize that Port days meant we were sat along side something akin to Immingham Docks. At one point the view was a coal dump next to an EDF power station. Just as well that the arrivals and departures were impressive - make the most of them. At £19.95 for an 8"x6" photograph the ships photographers should have been far better at their job. We always buy photo's. We didn't buy any. We did miss the mixed nationality feel of a holiday - "oggie! oggie! oggie!" at the sail away parties is not our idea of fun. All drinks apart from any of the wine are reasonably priced - we bought a card of 20 large soft drinks for £20 which can also be used for ice-creams. The size of the vessel is beyond explanation. However, exploring the ship after your first week because you're lost again becomes more frustrating than enjoyable. We fail to see the need to hand luggage back ready for disembarkation so early (18 hours before we were actually due to leave the ship). Also, no-one told us about this - we found out by accident - 'first timers' not generally catered for in this and other respects - you are just expected to 'know'. Will we cruise again? No thanks. It was an experience that we can tick off our list but whilst we didn't hate it - we didn't love it either and when you consider the money it cost that simply is not a good enough verdict. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Travelled from Manchester on december 20th one and a half hours late. This is nothing unusual so no problem there. Arrived in Barbados 8 hours later after a pleasant flight, quite fresh and looking forward too getting on board the ship. ... Read More
Travelled from Manchester on december 20th one and a half hours late. This is nothing unusual so no problem there. Arrived in Barbados 8 hours later after a pleasant flight, quite fresh and looking forward too getting on board the ship. The embarkation process is always efficient so all good there and the ship was impressive at first glance. The atrium was a little disappointing,a little small and boring. Found our cabin very easily as we booked very early and our agent was able to tell us what number it was so we could check on P&Os web site to locate it. The cabin was as we expected,reasonably sized with good storage.The bathroom was ok but the shower was quite small. Time to get to know the ship,its massive! trouble is there seems to be locked gates everywhere so hard to get around all the public areas. Although the deck space seems plentiful,its only when the sun beds were out the next day that the problems with space became obvious. there just isn't enough space between loungers,even more of a problem on sea days and we had more than our fair share of these on this cruise. 22.12.08 First call was Antigua and an excursion(kayak and snorkel).Too big a group and all a bit rushed, nice day overall though, my brother and his wife did the same trip in the afternoon and they felt the same. The evening was uneventful and the freedom dining experience was nice if a bit slow, good food but not much choice of desserts. 23.12.08 The next day was at sea and this is were it began to go a little sour on board. people became frustrated with the lack of sun beds and those who could get one had to be up early and climb over people to get on it as they were simply crammed in.Some rows were reported and it transpired that people reserved beds on both sides of the ship so they could move in the afternoon.Nowhere near enough entertainment on deck. 24.12.08 Grand Turk,saw it but didn't get onto it.The captain made his first announcement to say the wind was too strong and it would be dangerous to dock, well he should know best! So an extra sea day and more tension over sun loungers. Again no on board entertainment apart from a christmas songs cd on repeat in every area of the ship.My wife asked one of the entertainment staff if he could put some other music on so he just turned the christmas tunes up. 25.12.08 Christmas day at sea and a rainy start so not so bad getting a sun lounger. some young lads dressed as santa and an elf walking round the ship helped to brighten things up. Poor entertainment from the staff again,yes christmas songs on repeat again until the junior entertainment officer (LITTLE KEV)came out to play and got a good afternoon underway,just as well as the day was gettin lost. The food in all the restaurants was really good and the service was quite good considering the waiters were obviously having to work really hard to keep up and some people should be ashamed at their own behavior towards the waiters. 26.12.08 Boxing day at Catalina island and a beach barbecue.Nice day,rain trying to spoil it but not bad. The ship was tied to a buoy and we were tendered to the jetty.I missed it but it seems the rope snapped and the ship began to drift away,it was soon sorted and didn't effect the day. going back to the ship was troublesome as the wind picked up and delayed the tenders. 27.12.08 Tortola,NO! too windy again and another announcement from the captain,he's making a habit of this. Another enforced sea day and again nowhere enough happening on deck besides fights over loungers. 28.12.08 St Kitts today, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen blah blah blah" he doesn't have to say any more we can't land due to wind and we're stuck at sea, I feel like fletcher christian but they probably had better deck entertainment on the Bounty! 29.12.08 St Lucia,so thats what solid ground feels like,I was beginning to forget. Did some horse back riding overland and bare back in the sea,really good fun. 30.12.08 St Maarten.We are getting spoilt.Spent the first part of the day on the beach near the port,a really nice beach with nice people along it,drinks are cheap and the area is spotless. Then for the afternoon we visited Maho beach a couple of miles away $18 in a taxi.This is where the beach is at the end of the runway,look it up on google video,its mad! 31.12.08 Dominica. Walked around the town,not much to do here if you haven't booked an excursion and none of them appealed to us. 1.1.09 Dominica.Very hot,brilliant! Stayed on board and relaxed,listened to tales of people being thrown of the ship for fighting and trashing a cabin(note to P&O,if you slash prices then you will get cheap people). The new years eve party went well without too many problems,or so we thought,seems that in the early hours a bad fight broke out and a man was cut on the face with a bottle and a couple of young lads were caught by a passenger trying to set fire to one of the bars and more boys tried to set fire to the christmas tree. Under age drinking was a problem on this cruise. but who was supplying it? A few people were put off the ship for the fighting on the previous night. 2.1.09 Barbados. Catamaran & turtles excursion, we have done this trip a few times and has always been good value, recommend the 5 hour trip though, appeared a little crowded this time with some 10 catamarans around the turtles at once. We also visited a hotel which we stayed at in 2006 (Coconut Court hotel) great beach and the sea is excellent for nervous snorkelers or 1st time snorkelers, plenty of fish to hand feed. Review of Ship: The Deck Deck space is very crowded, particularly on sea days. Too many areas closed off to passengers. Smoking appeared to be allowed anywhere on deck, not confined enough to designated areas. Havana Bar Poorly planned in terms of layout and also the barriers separating the seating areas are far to high making it very difficult to enjoy the entertainment, with trip hazards on the floor from loose lighting strips, appears to be small steps from the isles to the seating areas. Exchange Bar: This can be noisy at times due to the casino being to one side. Tamarind: This was at times like sitting in a corridor with people moving around the ship from the Havana and the Arena Theatre. Entertainment: In the theatre the entertainment was average from the theatre company. There were two very good comedians/entertainers the second week. Sludge Lee was very poor, very old jokes. Jane Curry and Paul Baker were excellent, very good voices and talented. Scott Brutton (X FACTOR) was surprising OK. Entertainment on Deck Leon di ste coix - supposedly entertainment director, should be overboard, his management of entertainment on deck was well below standards previously seen on other ships, the standard from the entertainment staff overall showed no enthusiasm to entertain unless they were showing off to other ships and THEIR passengers what a good party ship we were on. Pity they were not this enthusiastic for us, especially on sea days when people are disappointed, there was nothing put on to lift them. A lot of entertainment seemed to be below deck, with art talk, computer talks, talks on the stars, and so on. The Ship Itself: Too big for some of the un-sheltered ports even when the seas are less than moderate, seems to be quite unstable, as if the stabilizers are not working properly. The ship has a very odd way of waggling its tail. Would we travel on Ventura again? At the moment we are booked on Ventura in May 2009, lets hope things have improved! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
My wife,Pat and I had only ever cruised once before on the Arcadia. This was two years ago when it was then the P&O's latest vessel. Our experience was a brilliant one,leaving us looking forward to the next one but not hooked on ... Read More
My wife,Pat and I had only ever cruised once before on the Arcadia. This was two years ago when it was then the P&O's latest vessel. Our experience was a brilliant one,leaving us looking forward to the next one but not hooked on cruising to the neglect of other types of holiday abroad. Our only misgivings were that you only have a limited time ashore to explore and discover the countries visited. What it does do is give you a taste,which then encourages you to return at a future date to expand further. The food was magnificent,the entertainment was fantastic and the ship was awesome. When the offer dropped into our laps to cruise on the Ventura with upgradings at a reasonable cost we jumped at the chance as it had to be bigger and better than Arcadia ! Our first disappointment was on the second night when we went to watch the show. This was nowhere near as good as the talented group of performers on Arcadia. We thought that the performance would get better as the week progressed,but no,in fact it got worse. People were leaving before the end on most nights. This was particularly true with the second Comedian "Sludge" Lees who was awful ! The food in the Saffron was O.K. without coming up to the standard we had come to accept on Arcadia. The buffet restaurant (the Waterside) was nowhere nearly as good as on the Arcadia with poor choices available most of the time. Our experience wasn't helped by the wine-waiter throwing a glass of Chateau-neuf-du-pap over me on the second night. I'm still waiting for an apology from the lady in question and a replacement glass of wine ! They did launder my shirt and "cream" trousers however. Although we would prefer to cruise without children,the 20 or so that were on board during our cruise did not bother us and they were perfectly behaved. However the next cruise after ours had 450 children,that would have been a nightmare ! We renewed our vows whilst on board,which was a moving experience for us both. The package at £250 is not cheap,but we were glad we did it. The icing on the cake was that we had Captain Dowds to perform the ceremony as he was the Captain on the Arcadia on our first cruise. Sadly the 80 pictures taken by the onboard photographer left much to be desired and we were unable to select 24 for the album of the occasion (another £120) but luckily one of our table companions had taken some excellent photos of the occasion on our camera so we got our album at a fraction of the cost ! Ventura is big. Very big !! But we were left thinking that much has been lost in P&O's efforts to go larger. The experience hasn't put us off cruising,but we won't cruise on Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
This was our 3rd cruise and our 2nd with P&O - the previous one being on Arcadia in Feb 2008. The flight to Barbados was comfortable and on time. Although it was a ThomsonFly charter,the aircraft was actually a First Choice plane. ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise and our 2nd with P&O - the previous one being on Arcadia in Feb 2008. The flight to Barbados was comfortable and on time. Although it was a ThomsonFly charter,the aircraft was actually a First Choice plane. Even though we had booked the cruise some 18 months earlier, we could not get an upgrade but even so, the plane was very comfortable with plenty of legroom and OK food. The transfer from the airport to the ship was excellent - (P&O seem to have got this sorted really well) - straight from the plane to a coach and then straight to the check in shed at the cruise terminal. Check in there was quick and we were soon on the ship. What a monster she is. Not really a pretty sight and it would be impossible to describe Ventura as a ship in the traditional sense - more a gigantic floating hotel. We soon found our cabin on C deck. This was compact and functional, clean and well equipped with tea and coffee machine, fridge, good hairdryer, interactive TV on which you can also view your account, comfy bed and good temperature control. The one surprise was the balcony. It was huge and contained only 2 ordinary chairs - like you might find in a works canteen and a small table measuring about 15 inches square. This was on a balcony measuring about 8 feet by 9 feet. Therefore most of the balcony was a waste of space. The balcony cabins on the ship are tiered and therefore if we sat at the front of ours, people in cabins above could see us and also we could see those on the deck below us. It was also easy to overhear conversations taking place on balconies around us. So it wasn't very private. The "bathroom" was very small. We were happy with just a shower but this wasn't overly large either!! However, hot water was in abundance - full marks for this. Senim, our cabin steward kept the place spotless throughout the entire voyage. There was ample hanging and storage space. We were supposed to leave at 20.00 but an announcement told us that some people had yet to leave the ship for the UK as their flight had been delayed and so our revised sailing time was given as 23.30. We all attended the compulsory lifeboat muster but really no one knew if everyone from cabins had attended as no one took our name or cabin number on arrival at the muster station. I thought this was all a bit casual. We had something to eat in the Waterside buffet restaurant which was nice and then our cases arrived at the cabin so it was unpacking and an early night. Our first day was a sea day on the way to Antigua. This was our first encounter with the dreaded sunbed saga. As we were towards the aft of the ship we preferred to sit on deck somewhere in that vicinity. We soon found that space was at a premium and that sunbeds were so tightly packed that it would have been difficult to actually sit on one unless you climbed onto it from the front. This then meant that you were literally cheek by jowl with the person on the next bed to you. We identified an area with a little more space on deck 19 but when we tried to get up there we found our way blocked by locked doors and gates, passages which led nowhere and a lift which went to that floor but when you got out of it you could not get through the door onto the deck. Eventually this deck opened and there was a scramble for beds in that area. It turned out that deck 19 was the Cirque Ventura area where there had been bungee jumping etc and also they had 3 big trampolines. However, all that was left was the trampolines - the rest of the "cirque" had been demolished and was being given over to sunbeds. To be honest, for the number of times the trampolines were used during the trip, they could easily get rid of that as well to free up more space for people to sit. We can endorse everything others have said about the sunbed situation on this ship. You had to be up at 08.00 to get a bed with some room around it. On Christmas Day all the beds were taken at the Terrace Pool by 07.15. Everyone knew there was a no towels rule for reserving sunbeds but to be honest, you had to ignore it otherwise you would not have been able to find anywhere to sit. The first evening was the Captain's welcome party but all that happened was that he came and spoke to the assembled guests and then left. There was no moving around in the cocktail party sense like we have had before on Arcadia and the QE2. Our next port of call was Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Christmas Eve. Lots of people were looking forward to this and we had booked a snorkeling trip. However, on arrival, we were informed by the Captain that it was too windy to take the ship alongside the quay and therefore this visit was cancelled. There was a lot of disappointment. We got our money back for the cancelled trip but somehow we were not satisfied and somewhat suspicious as to why the ship did not berth at Grand Turk. However we were in no position to question the Captain's judgment. Christmas Day was a sea day and the following day we moored off Catalina Island, an island owned apparently by P&O. It is situated just off the south east corner of the Dominican Republic. The ship moored with an anchor and a cable from the stern to a mooring dolphin. Passengers were ferried to the island's beach by tender. We decided to remain on board and I was on deck 19 when I heard a loud bang. On looking out over the rail, there was nothing to see but all of a sudden, the mooring dolphin "exploded" with a pall of smoke and the cable to the ship tore apart and whipped back to the dolphin. The ship then began to drift away from the island. A bit scary but things were soon in hand. Given that the call at Grand Turk was cancelled due to the weather, we did not see a great deal of improvement in the weather and sea state at Catalina Island. Indeed, some passengers were left bobbing around for 45 minutes in tenders on the return journey to the ship and many were not happy. The following day we were due in Tortola, BVI. We were looking forward to this, not having been there before. We took on the pilot and then there was an announcement that the ship would not be calling there after all due to the weather so we continued on to St Kitts. By this time, passengers were not at all happy. The next day we were due at St Kitts and having arrived and almost berthed, the Captain announced that we would not be calling there after all due to the weather. A near mutiny was evident!!! We were told that the ship instead would go straight to St Lucia, arriving there late afternoon. Again, we could not see any difference in the sea state between Catalina Island and St Kitts harbor - if anything, St Kitts was a lot calmer. We were told that the winds we had experienced were unusual. However, this is just not true. There is a period of what the locals call "Christmas Winds" which affect mainly the northern islands and are not infrequent at this time of the year. The question we and a lot of others were asking was why these ports were put on the itinerary if Ventura could not berth in those conditions. Of course the Captain has the last word but P&O are responsible for putting together the itinerary and they should see that it is suitable for the ship they are using. We do know that other ships berthed at these ports. The fact is that Ventura is simply too big and unwieldy to put in at some of the smaller more exposed islands. We managed to call at all the remaining ports on the itinerary - St Lucia, St Vincent, Dominica and St Maarten. We went on organized trips in St Lucia and Dominica and felt that they were good value for money. We had opted for freedom dining. We found this worked well as we preferred to dine around 19.00 which was perhaps earlier than a lot of people. We ate in East once which was very nice and in Whites twice, including Christmas Day evening meal. Very good. The food in the main freedom dining restaurant, the Cinnamon was generally good although some steaks were a bit tough. The service was good and pleasant - better we thought than on the Arcadia. We didn't drink in all the bars but we did like the Metropolis which has a great moving mural of a city scape at night - it changes each evening ie Sydney, London, Hong Kong etc. We felt that some of the other bars were a bit public - like drinking in a corridor. We are not great people for shows but those who did go to them came away with mixed reviews. To be honest, the star performer was held out as Scott Bruton who had made the final 12 in the X Factor. We thought he was poor on that programme so this was not a great draw for us. Some people were disgusted with the comedian. In all we felt the range of entertainment in the evenings was pretty boring. The ship could do with a a good triad jazz band performing in the pub or in the Tamarind Club to get people up and dancing. On one evening in the Tamarind, the dance band struck up and played for about 30 minutes and then when people were just getting in the mood for a dance, they stopped playing and we were invited to play Mr and Mrs!!!!! The best entertainment of the whole trip was the New Year's Eve party on deck at the Laguna Pool. Excellent DJ, excellent music, excellent atmosphere. I think that people had had so many disappointments with the cancelled ports that they were determined to have a good time!! The Great British Sailaway from St Maarten was also good fun. The ship was tastefully decorated with Christmas trees etc and generally people dressed up in the evenings even when it was smart casual. There were 3,000 passengers including several hundred children. The children never bothered us and I think that the facilities for them on the ship are very good. We were not disturbed with any rowdy behavior but we did hear that 2 people had been "arrested" for violence and that one had been taken off the ship at St Vincent. Overall, we made the best of things and enjoyed the trip and we had really good weather. Would we go on Ventura again? No. And there were a lot of people saying the same. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
As a regular P & O cruiser I have just returned from a 12 day cruise on P & O's new ship the Ventura and before I relate to the ship I must confess that this new style of cruising that the company has introduced is not to my ... Read More
As a regular P & O cruiser I have just returned from a 12 day cruise on P & O's new ship the Ventura and before I relate to the ship I must confess that this new style of cruising that the company has introduced is not to my taste and expectations. I travelled on the ship with my husband, daughter, son-in law and two grandchildren (under school age)which gave me a wide experience of the ship's facilities. I had a balcony cabin which was spacious and well designed, with the only problem being the disgusting smell of smoke infiltrating our cabin from other passenger's balconies, it resulted in our cabin doors being closed for the majority of our cruise. The standard of service and the attitude of the crew and staff was excellent and comparable to other P & O ships, but unfortunately the quality and choice of food particularly in the restaurant at evening meals was slightly inferior. Although there are many choices of bars,entertainment venues and open lounges, they seemed to be cramped and over-subscribed. In general the whole ship seemed to be restricted in space particularly in passageways, staircases and the promenade. There are 3 restaurants separate from the club dining facilities which have a cover charge and I can recommend Marco Pierre White's, White Room which is excellent (although a little expensive). The buffet's available 24 hours, pizza and grills do resemble a bun fight site at times. The ship has plenty of outside deck area and also a covered swimming pool, but the sun beds are crammed together and it results in them being very noisy and finding quiet areas is nigh on impossible. Some passengers also found difficulty in locating specific areas and passageways seemed to come to dead ends! On a ship that is as large as the Ventura with 3,500 passengers it is expected that there will be a clash of passengers personalities which may not be the norm for P & O cruises. As far as my daughter and grandchildren were concerned, the ship's childrens facilities were excellent with the kiddies clubs being very well organized and supervised. There was constant daily activities for the children of all ages and in respect of my 18 month old grand-daughter the night nursery was a boon. Finally, I would like to say that this new ship does change the perspective of P & O cruising and probably is geared for the family market at the expense of cruisers who are looking for more traditional cruising with a more relaxed and refined atmosphere. In general our family enjoyed the cruise and the younger element of the family had the main benefit. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Just got back from the second cruise of Ventura - P & Os new - and much hyped - cruise ship. This was our ninth cruise - tried different ships and different lines and - what a shame - this was our least enjoyable. We weren't ... Read More
Just got back from the second cruise of Ventura - P & Os new - and much hyped - cruise ship. This was our ninth cruise - tried different ships and different lines and - what a shame - this was our least enjoyable. We weren't expecting miracles from the Itinerary "Iberia" - done most of it before and knew it was nothing special - we came for the ship, but they might have told us Brest (in the rain) was closed for a Bank Holiday - we were lucky and heard it from early returnees. NB all transport was free - a plus point. It's actually a little difficult to nail down the reasons for our reaction - because nothing was terrible - or even poor - but then most of it was "fair" , with a little "good" thrown in. Cabin (balcony) was a good thing - reasonable size, fair layout - as good as most and better than one or two. Service was fair without being exceptional. Freedom dining was bit half-hearted - you could turn up and wait - or pre-book - which was a limited sort of freedom. Food in the restaurants was fair to good - but never outstanding - with oddly limited choice(3 starters?)We had pre-booked the White Room - (NB it booked out for the week the first night)that was good but not outstanding compared to other speciality restaurants on other ships)WE didn't try the speciality Oriental, East, which seemed over-priced at an extra £20 or the Spanish (OK at extra £5)They messed up my pre-booking and confirmation at the White Room something rotten - took 5 trips to get it right. The buffet restaurant was over-crowded and also severely limited in choice. Entertainment during the day, except for that for children, was almost non-existent - at least for our sort of thing - talks etc. Saw very little of any entertainments staff generally. Evening entertainment was mixed but on the whole a plus. The headline act of Brian Conley was excellent, and the dance and gymnastic troupe we thought outstanding. There was a show and another act each night and each gave three shows (a first for us). Some of the comedians in the Comedy Club were awful,and a special talk by Mark Williams really very poor - was he nervous or just terrible without a script? The public rooms and the Atrium and theatre were - OK again - never something special. If you saw the advertisement for the "special Scalextric" you were expecting something special - no, it was a track set up in one of the show -rooms - a bit pathetic really. I'm sure I saw a "puff" for a 3-D cinema - must check - there were films run in one of the show rooms but no actual cinema and no 3D. TV was a bit lazy - the channel for the Cruise Director never had anything on it for the whole cruise - other channels had "interactive" choices but all the good films were an extra charge,- quite a lot for children. The pools - there were several - two outdoor. My wife likes it warm so only ever uses indoor. The indoor pool was small and usually held lots of children. The Spa one was smaller and the current machine was broken throughout - she enjoyed the steam rooms though. I know they like extensive reviews here but I find them tedious so I'll close. When I re-read this it's difficult to explain why it was (as it was) a disappointment - but most experienced cruisers had the same reaction. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We took the second cruise from Southampton - Iberia cruise all along the Atlantic coast to Lisbon. Ports called at: Vigo, Lisbon, Balboa and Brest. The crew were unused to treating passengers - when asked for milk in the buffet for my ... Read More
We took the second cruise from Southampton - Iberia cruise all along the Atlantic coast to Lisbon. Ports called at: Vigo, Lisbon, Balboa and Brest. The crew were unused to treating passengers - when asked for milk in the buffet for my coffee I was shown the pre-packed little cartons - not what I wanted and it took a while to get the staff to understand that I wanted "real" milk - and help was not offered without asking! We waited in traffic for 2 hours to get to the ship and onboard - the docks at Southampton are not used to dealing with 3 very large ships. (Queen Victoria-3000 passengers and the Independence of the Seas- 4000 passengers (maiden voyage) and us with 3000. Makes me tired just thinking of all the numbers!! Room very clean - but overall the ship seems very bland - no wow factor - aimed at the family market - so there is a large area purely for children - no adults. The casino shares space with a general use bar - no real comfortable seating - and noisy - they held the bingo here and with all the slots going it was hard work. The smell of smoke and the haze it created not good either Bar staff in general did not seem terribly interested in serving you - in fact in the theatre we gave up and sent the men out to get the drinks - hope it improves. The entertainment was excellent - they had one night only well known faces ( for UK people) and the caliber of the onboard entertainers was good - Chronicles was the only thing I did not like too much - a personal thing. Sea days did not seem to have any activities. Shops very expensive. Food - hit and miss when it was good it was very good - if not very plain and boring - the staff again did not engage with us - except for our wine waiter Roel - excellent - by the second day we were ordering our wine for the next day and getting the bar ordered for the men. 5 stars to him!! If you wanted the new Marco Pierre White onboard restaurant - tough it was fully booked before we left! We asked about lunch service on sea days - NO! The SMELL - yuck - the Tamarind Bar had a problem for 4 nights with the overpowering smell of sewage - it got worse - and then completely disappeared! We found general seating on the ship to be hard and modern - hope it wears in a bit - the bar at the back on the top - Metropolis was great for the backdrops ( moving to different areas of the world, themed nightly). My husband not happy that bars closed - even when it was full of people still drinking! The Havana Club needs a refit immediately - the lined lights are awful and you cannot see over them to the stage or dance floor! This was a first for me on a P&O ship and lots of people complained about the lack of service, smell and told us that Aurora and Oriana were much better and not to judge the whole fleet on the basis of this cruise - so I shall pass the information along! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was our 2nd P&O cruise, the 1st one was on Arcadia and we have cruised a number of times with Celebrity and RCI.I am 38 and my husband is 45, no kids. We chose this cruise as it was only 7 nights and would give us a chance to try ... Read More
This was our 2nd P&O cruise, the 1st one was on Arcadia and we have cruised a number of times with Celebrity and RCI.I am 38 and my husband is 45, no kids. We chose this cruise as it was only 7 nights and would give us a chance to try the much anticipated new P&O ship. Embarkation at Southampton was relatively smooth although we did arrive a little bit too early to park the car so had to wait half an hour or so until previous passengers had finished disembarking! The ship: The design of the ship doesn't 'flow' too well, mainly because of the different dining rooms, you have to walk down to the Bay Tree because the galley is in between. We did miss the grand multi level dining rooms of RCI and Celebrity; also there is no background music whole you dine which would have been nice. We also missed the lack of a walking/jogging track on the open decks, again this is due to the fact you can't walk all round the pool decks on one level. However the main pool does have a retractable roof which makes it an all weather venue. Public Rooms: We thought the choice of bars was fantastic, we especially liked the Metropolis at the top of the ship with its video wall of a different city sunset every evening with themed cocktails and drinks to match, very sophisticated! Ramblas was also a great venue and we enjoyed the tapas (£2.50 for 3). The Tamarind Club and the Red Bar are also very opulent, swish drinking venues! The atrium doesn't have an immediate WOW factor but it's a pleasant area with four huge black granite arches and comfy sitting areas. Entertainment: The entertainment was outstanding; I think they must have fit 2 weeks worth of shows into one. The production shows were all highly enjoyable especially Masquerade a Andrew Lloyd Webber extravaganza and the Saturday Night Fever show was as good as the West End. The couple who do the acrobatics and aerial performances were amazing and they featured in all the production shows. Brian Conley came onboard in Lisbon and packed the theatre with his hilarious show. There was also the Dusty Springfield tribute and the actor Mark Williams (from the Fast show and Harry Potter films) gave a talk about his career as well as live bands in various venues so really there was no chance to be bored in the evenings! The food: On the whole we enjoyed our meals. We ate in the Bay tree restaurant although there were only 4 of us on a table for 8. There should have been others but they didn't show so I felt sorry as the waiters would be down on their tips. The food was very good and well presented and we enjoyed all our meals there. We ate in the White Room and was glad I pre purchased the gift package at the price of £46.50 for dinner for 2 with a bottle of red or white Chilean wine as it worked out cheaper than paying £20 per person just for the dinner. The service in there was very good and it had a nice relaxed atmosphere. We enjoyed the food although I wasn't wowed like I am with the specialty restaurants on the Celebrity ships, but a very pleasant evening all told. We didn't dine at East, the Asian specialty restaurant purely for the fact we had such good meals in the dining room although we would have dined there if we were on a longer cruise. The buffet restaurants were an improvement on the Arcadia's limited choices, the Beach House being better to navigate than the Waterside as you couldn't walk from one side to the other without having to go all the way out and back in again! We didn't dine there very often but when we did we enjoyed the food especially the curries! Our cabin: We chose a balcony cabin on C deck which proved to be a good choice as the balconies on this deck are double depth to the other decks. It was a nice quiet area towards the aft, our cabin steward, Cezar did his job very well and we liked the tea and coffee tray which you don't get on any of the American ships! The interactive TV kept freezing up but they seemed to have rectified this by the end of the cruise .When it worked there were loads of film and TV programmes and music videos to watch on demand. You can also check your on board account. Fitness facilities: The Oasis pool was supposed to be a relaxing adults only area but there is a sports court above it so the atmosphere is somewhat spoilt by the sounds of golf balls and the like! Also the endless pool feature was not working due to it being damaged by rough weather on the previous cruise, which brings me to another comment. I have read that the ship doesn't handle rough seas too well. We were very fortunate to have very calm seas but one of the spa staff commented that a lot of people were sea sick when the ship was in rough seas because of the flat bottomed design. I have to say that we once saw the Golden Princess (same design as Ventura) pitching and rolling terribly whilst we felt very little movement on the Zenith which was a much smaller ship, so there may be some truth in that. The gym was well equipped with all the latest fitness equipment. They did run some fitness classes, like Pilates, Zumba and spinning but these required you to sign up for 3 at £21.00, I was a little disappointed that they didn't have any free step or aerobics classes although I'm sure they will have on longer cruises. The spa was extensive and expensive; they even had a qualified dentist who would whiten your teeth for £198! Some of the treatments were discounted by 20% on port days. Ports visited: After a day at sea we arrived at Vigo in Northern Spain. The main attraction from this port is Santiago de Compostela and there were many ships tours offering this, however we decided to just have a wander around the old town and sample the wonderful seafood the region is famous for. About 5 mins walk from the ship is an area where they sell plates of fresh oysters for 8 euros a dozen and my husband was in heaven! It was nice to mingle with the locals and enjoy a glass of wine or 2! The next day we arrived in Lisbon after a spectacular approach under the suspension bridge. We took the free shuttle bus into the city centre and again sampled some of the local fare and wandered around the streets. After a nice sunny calm day at sea we arrived in Bilbao, Spain. The ship docks 10km from the town centre so another free shuttle service was provided. We really liked Bilbao and could definitely spend a weekend there; the old town was wonderful with lots off trendy tapas bars and great shops. Another attraction here is the modern Guggenheim art museum which the old couple on our table thought was a complete waste of time, of course if you are into modern art I'm sure it is a must see! Our final port of call was Brest in France which was unfortunately a bit of a let down as it was raining and also a public holiday in France. The majority of shops and cafes were closed so we would have been better off staying on the ship! I'm sure when the sun shines and the shops are open its a completely different place. Disembarkation: This went very smoothly, we were off the ship by 9.30 and the car park was only a short walk with a luggage cart,(porters were available if needed). In conclusion, we enjoyed our week on the Ventura, if we could find a ship with the design of Royal Caribbean, the food and service of Celebrity and the entertainment and reasonably priced drinks of P&O that would be the perfect combination, until then we will just have to keep sailing on all of them! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Background We are a retired couple in our 60s who have cruised about 8 or 10 times previously, only with P&O, mostly on the Oriana or Aurora, but once on Artemis. We have always wanted to go on a Maiden cruise - had imagined this ... Read More
Background We are a retired couple in our 60s who have cruised about 8 or 10 times previously, only with P&O, mostly on the Oriana or Aurora, but once on Artemis. We have always wanted to go on a Maiden cruise - had imagined this would be something unique, with special events and special entertainment. We made a reservation on the day bookings opened and got a "guarantee" cabin for the grade we had requested. We also subsequently added the one week cruise immediately following - visiting 4 ports on the Spanish and French Atlantic coast. Travel to Southampton We drove down to Southampton taking advantage of the free parking offered for this cruise. The queue from well outside the dock gates took an hour before we reached the unloading point. There was then quite a long queue (in the rain) before we got inside the terminal building. As "frequent" P&O cruisers we had the advantage of priority check-in once we were inside, but even that was quite slow due to the number of such passengers arriving. Once on board at 1.30pm our luggage arrived within a couple of hours. It may be that the long queues to reach the ship and subsequently to check-in were a result of this being the first time that P&O have had to embark so many passengers. The Ship Ventura is the first large ship in the P&O fleet - taking around 3,400 passengers I believe, as compared to 1,800 or so on the Oriana or Aurora. She is built to the standard we have come to expect with P&O - well fitted out, beautifully furnished, excellent artwork everywhere. As she is designed to attract a new type of cruise customer (families with young children), the lounges and public areas are more open and "walk-through" than we are used to and we felt the lack of quiet places to sit down in comfort and read or relax. The bars are all spacious, although the three largest - Havanna, Tamarind Club and Metropolis are regularly used for entertainment, much of which is relayed at a volume which appears to be designed for those who are hard of hearing. The theatre is outstanding - up to the class of the best London theatres, seating 750+, with comfortable seating and excellent production facilities. The Atrium and shopping area is OK with more shops and more space than we have seen on the smaller P&O ships. There is a limited library, but no dedicated library reading room as on the Oriana or Aurora. Our Cabin Our cabins - A622 on deck 12 for the Maiden Cruise and B406 on deck 11 for the one week follow-on cruise, were identical, with reasonable space, excellent furnishing, a terrific walk-in wardrobe area (more hanging space than we have seen on other ships) and a typical, adequate bathroom/toilet with shower. The cabin had a balcony with two semi-recliner chairs and a small coffee table. There was a flat screen TV, excellent tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge. Our cabin stewards were first rate as we have always found on P&O ships. One of the few snags we encountered with this brand new ship was that public area announcements could not be heard on one of the TV channels as stated, so every time anyone heard the sound of any announcement, everyone rushed to the door and stood in the corridor to listen...... A minor annoyance which should be put right quickly, we hope. The only other "snag" was, we believe, a sign of the times - some films on the TV were free to watch, others required a payment of a few pounds. Just another way that Carnival is seeking to increase income. A similar situation applied to cabin food service - some items were free, others required a payment. The TV has an "interactive" function where one can find messages (usually promoting services from the Spa, Photographers, Tours Team or Art Gallery) and a facility for checking the on-board account expenditure to date. TV channels included Sky News (UK version), BBC World and BBC Prime for nearly all of the time. One comment we would make - something to take into account when choosing a cabin with a balcony - is that the balconies on decks 10, 11 and 12 are set back from the side of the ship and are built vertically one above the other with decent privacy. But we could look straight down into the balconies of cabins on decks 8 and 9 which are staggered out (presumably give larger balcony and/or cabin size). We felt than the people on these lower decks at times felt quite uncomfortable with us looking down on them resting or having drinks or a meal. Dining There are two large self-service cafeterias on deck 15 which are open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, children's high tea, an evening meal and a limited midnight buffet. In practice some food is available from 6.30am until the early hours. The restaurants are bright and airy, but with limited space for serving food and the choices reflect that limit. Seating is insufficient at peak breakfast and lunchtimes, even with the small outside area at the stern and the few tables in the area around the covered pool. Breakfast and lunch are also served in one or two of the "main" restaurants, with waiter service. This was our preference on most occasions unless we wished to have a quick breakfast before going ashore. During the daytime there are two food bars on deck 15, one serving pizzas and the other burgers. These are free of charge. There is also an ice cream bar for which there is a charge. We had an excellent pizza for lunch on one occasion, but did not sample the burgers or ice cream. There are a number of evening meal options on Ventura, but at the time of booking it is necessary to make a choice for dinner between "Club" dining (the same table every evening at one of two restaurants - Baytree or Saffron - at either 6.30pm or 8.30pm) or "Freedom" dining - eating in a third main restaurant (The Cinnamon) at a time of your choice without reservation. We had chosen Club dining second sitting at a table for 8 and apart from one or two evenings when the galley was struggling to cope, we were seated promptly and looked after by excellent restaurant staff very well. We met some people who had chosen Freedom dining and heard that at peak times it was necessary to make a reservation the day before if you wished to eat at a particular time. In addition to all those eating options, there are three alternative dining venues for which there is a cover charge. The "White Room" - conceived and inspired by Marco Pierre White, we were told - had a charge of £20 per head for dinner on the Maiden Cruise, but this had increased to £25 per head for the following one-week cruise. "East" had a charge of £15 and £20 respectively and "Ramblas" also had a charge, but we did not enquire. We heard good reports of the White Room and it was fully booked by the second day of each cruise. The menu there did not attract us sufficiently to justify the additional charge. We did eat at East and had an excellent meal from an interesting menu. There did not appear to be any difficulty in getting reservations there. We did not sample Ramblas, but friends tried the Tapas snacks available in the bar area (I think is was 3 Tapas for £2.50) and said that this was very good. Several of these would make a light lunch. The food was generally good, although there are signs of economy in the choices available and the quality of some dishes and the reduction in provision of fresh vegetables.. Beef in particular, was of poor quality on several occasions and the "standby" offering of sirloin steak at dinner was inedible on a couple of occasions. Staff were very embarrassed about this and promptly offered an alternative. Meals came out from the galley ready plated - your choice of main course on a bed of rice, pasta or potatoes with minimal vegetable decoration and the waiters then added another potato choice and one vegetable of the day by silver service. There were 4 formal and 4 informal nights on the maiden cruise and 2 of each on the one week cruise. The rest were "smart casual". We were impressed that nearly everyone made the effort to comply with the dress code on formal nights and it was a pleasure to see even small children smartly kitted out - some even in scale size DJs! We suspect that those who chose not to "play the game" ate in the cafeteria on formal nights and kept clear of the main public areas. Daytime entertainment Much is made of "Cirque Ventura" - an area on the highest deck with equipment (and trained staff) for trampoline, flying trapeze, juggling, walking on stilts, etc. Workshops are held (for which there is a charge, I believe). This will appeal to young people, but only operated in good weather. There is limited space for deck quoits and shuffleboard and 4 table tennis tables. There are - as always - many scheduled daytime activities to suit most, but not all, tastes. But with the ships spending more days in port than at sea, these activities are less important. There are 4 swimming pools - none reserved for adults only - and plenty of sunloungers, so long as you are prepared to look around and not stay close to a pool. There is a comprehensive Spa and hairdressing / manicure salon. The steam room and sauna are not mixed sex on this ship which is a shame and the facilities did not therefore appear to be used much. There was much promotion of the various massage services available. The gym / fitness center was very good, although, to my shame, I only used it three times. Evening entertainment This is a very subjective matter and our comments can only reflect our own tastes. One overall comment - we found the music much too loud, especially in the shows performed in the Havanna venue. Even in the Metropolis bar we had to move away from the area where music was being played, in order to hold a conversation. Luckily we happened to carry earplugs in our luggage and we made use of them on several occasions…! There were 3 venues in use each night - the arena theatre, the Tamarind Club and Havanna. Each venue had three performances, enabling people to see 2 of the shows if they wished, as well as having dinner. The theatre company shows were terrific - the best we have seen on any P&O ship - and contained elements of dance, song and acrobatics. There was over-reliance on the lead male singer (an excellent voice, but finding it tough to perform 3 shows a night) which was a shame because there were other members of the team with good voices as well. We had a classical pianist on each cruise and both attracted a loyal following. The Tamarind Club was billed at the Ventura Comedy Club. There was a comedian or a duo there almost every night. We suspect that P&O have some way to go to discover and retain good comedians. Comedy needs to be good and reasonably sophisticated to attract a wide audience and when comedians have to rely on bad language, smut and sex in order to present an act, that is not to our taste. We feel that this is also not appropriate for an audience which includes young children (who were still around at the shows at 10.45pm) The other cabaret acts were sometimes OK, but not of the standard we have met on previous P&O cruises. This was particularly disappointing as we had expected the Maiden cruise, at least, to be something special and to have some top class entertainers. One act that did stand out was called "Legends" on the Maiden cruise. Children's facilities We did not have children with us. On the maiden cruise there were - we believe - only about 40 children on board. On the subsequent cruise there were 400 children. We were told there will be 800 or more on board during school holidays. We understand that the facilities for children are excellent and they certainly have a large dedicated area and dedicated staff to organize their day. For passengers without children, the impact of large numbers around the pools is significant. Ports On the maiden cruise we visited Barcelona, Villefranche, Livorno (for Florence), Santa Marghareta, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Alicante and Gibraltar. On the one week cruise we visited Vigo, Lisbon, Bilbao and Brest. We booked ship excursions (actually coaches to transport us to the city and back so we could "do our own thing") for Florence, Rome and Santiago de Compostella (from Vigo). The coach service was reliable and the attendant guide good on 2 occasions and poor on one. Elsewhere we explored locally, making use of the shuttle bus provided into town where appropriate. We like to explore on foot at our own pace, not in a crowd. We research for walks and sights of interest on the internet before each cruise and always try to find a suitable restaurant for an inexpensive lunch in a non-touristy area. We usually get recommendations by posting questions in the appropriate Forum in the sister website www.tripadvisor.com There was an initial problem with disembarkation by tender at Villefranche (the first time they had done this with a full complement of passengers) and on a couple of other occasions there were problems getting ashore because of a lack of shuttle buses to take passengers out of the port area. We hope these are teething problems which will be sorted. Final Disembarkation This operation ran smoothly and once we had remembered what color our suitcases were, we found then easily amongst the vast collection in the arrivals hall at Southampton. The car was easily found and the journey out and home uneventful. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
I was very excited to be going on Ventura after waiting 12 months since my booking. The problems started at Southampton when i had to wait for 2 hours in a Q to park the car.This is unacceptable for any passenger but especially disabled ... Read More
I was very excited to be going on Ventura after waiting 12 months since my booking. The problems started at Southampton when i had to wait for 2 hours in a Q to park the car.This is unacceptable for any passenger but especially disabled passengers, which i am sure i was not the only one . There was a long Q to get on board and the Lady at the security check in for bags etc asked me if it was nearly at the end as she had been on duty for 4 hours already.She said its always like this when Ventura is in .We finally got on board at 4.00 and it was time to sail.We did not go to the muster station for the emergency drill as it had already started and no one asked us if we were going. This is the first time i have seen this happen where people don't need to go to such an important meeting. We met first timers who had not been either.The cabin was beautiful.The problems started straight away. We were booked for early dinner and when we went down the Q was horrendous. When we went for our table for 2 we found 4 tables for 2 stuck together to make a table for 8. We were lucky the others were lovely people but had also asked for tables for 2. The service was really slow and the dining room was really cold all week. The food was sometimes only lukewarm.The self service restaurant  was our next call next morning for breakfast and the Q here was worse than the night before. This was like this all week. Not much staff to cope with over 3.000 people. Lots of complaints about the wait for cups glasses cutlery etc.I have been loyal to this company since 1997 and have never seen anything like it .I did not like the fact that the hand washing gel is now self service. There were lots of people not bothering with it and i was very worried about picking up a bug. There were 4 ports of call and there were shuttle busses to take you from the dock . When we went the first morning for the bus and guess what there were at least 300 in the Q and hardly any busses. Lots of people complaining.. The other 2 days the exact same thig with people waiting in the long Q.I felt very sorry for people who were on their first cruise.Lots were saying NEVER AGAIN.I heard lots of people saying they will be going back to Royal Caribbean as they know how to treat customers.I would not travel on Ventura Again. I had hoped to book AZURA for next year but not now as it will be just the same or maybe even worse.I have booked Arcadia for October . I have travelled on her before and there were no problemsFor my 2010 cruises i will be looking at Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and Cunard  as i met lots of satisfied customers from these companies Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
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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