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Sail Date: October 2013
Traveled down to Southampton with the complimentary coach provided from Manchester airport which was stress free. On arrival at Southampton unfortunately the check in at the terminal had technical issue's and held up the check in ... Read More
Traveled down to Southampton with the complimentary coach provided from Manchester airport which was stress free. On arrival at Southampton unfortunately the check in at the terminal had technical issue's and held up the check in procedure for over 1 hour. On boarding the ship we were allowed straight into our room which was a Balcony cabin on Deck A the cabin was good and a good size comfy bed. Now I have been told how good P&O Cruising is I have only done Royal Caribbean and Princess so my expectation was high. Well I was very disappointed first with the internal layout of the ship the Atrium was small and not has impressive of that of Royal Caribbean ships of the same size. The dining experience was not very good at all,dining rooms were drab the staff not very friendly the food was ok. The East restaurant and White room (which was an extra cost) on the other hand were excellent. The bars on the ship were ok but lacked that atmosphere. I thought the shows/entertainment on the ship were very good. I was surprised of the lack of anti-bacterial gel on and off the ship when boarding. Its my first transatlantic crossing which I would not do again, to many sea days. The ship in all I was disappointed with, the ships crew did not go that extra mile a part from Crosby our cabin steward, the ports visited were fine. Will I cruise with P&O again probably but not until the the new ship Brittania is launched. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We have done the Transatlantic cruise on board Ventura and Azura for the past few years each time the services you get has been getting poorer and poorer The meals in the main restraunt are becoming ordinary and the level of attention you ... Read More
We have done the Transatlantic cruise on board Ventura and Azura for the past few years each time the services you get has been getting poorer and poorer The meals in the main restraunt are becoming ordinary and the level of attention you get off the staff is left I think this is because they are reducing staff numbers the waiters are looking after more tables. Tips are now added daily to your onboard account so there is no need for the staff to do that little bit extra. The meals are now pre plated rather than the veg being brought and served so you can choose which veg you would like. The entertainment teams are not able to run all the games they once did, When I aked they said because of health and safety they coudnt play the pool games staff v passangers. I am disapointed that Ventura is being based in the med as it is the only ship with a covered pool that at least you can use when the ship leaves southampton in colder weather. Love the ship itself and find it brighter than its sister ship Ventura.and the two smaller ships Oceana which is also a lovelly ship and Oriana that is now a adult only ship and in need of a complete refurbishment. I have only been taking holidays on cruise ships for 5 years but have done two a year. Disapointed for the other members of the family and friends that came with us for the first time as we had over 10 cabins in total.T Theater shows are great Entertainment staff did there best worked realy hard and extremly helpfull went out of there way to make the holiday enjoyable. Just not enough of them felt sorry for them As they ran from event to event. I wnt be booking another with PO this year and will now look at other cruise lines. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
To say that Ventura was disappointing would be huge understatement. OK firstly I should say that we booked late and got a huge discount, as did pretty much every other guest we spoke to, had we have paid full fare I would have been ... Read More
To say that Ventura was disappointing would be huge understatement. OK firstly I should say that we booked late and got a huge discount, as did pretty much every other guest we spoke to, had we have paid full fare I would have been complaining like crazy. The boat was full of people who had paid less than 500 for an inside cabin and were determined to eat at least 1000 worth of food, if you enjoy all-inclusive holidays in Benidorm then this is the one for you. Does that sound a bit snobbish? Well I'm a council house kid from South East London and I was embarrassed to be British at times. The quality of the food in the main restaurant was poor and service not much better. First night we were treated to a prawn cocktail that consisted of a small lettuce leaf on top of which were piled watery frozen prawns and no sauce, followed by what in the seventies used to be called chicken corden bleu accompanied by croquet potatoes. It was like the chef had been down to Iceland and bought what was on offer that day. I say chef but I use the term loosely, I do not consider heating pre-prepared food as cooking. The Sommelier hadn't the first clue about wine, (apparently Fleurie is now Spanish), and did not even know how to pour a glass of wine properly. In fairness The White Room was excellent in all respects, quality of food & service but at an extra cost of 25 per head. I would whole heartedly recommend it though as it is definitely worth the money. In the self service restaurant pandemonium reigned, apart from the piranha's fighting over every morsel the staff had a habit of randomly shutting off sections of the servery as and when it suited them. On three occasions at breakfast I actually managed to find a croissant available on display, on every other day I had to ask for one. Each time I did this the request would be transferred via two or three people to someone in the bakery area who would miraculously produce a croissant. This ritual was performed by many other guests who as frustrated as I was voiced their displeasure. The bus boys whipped the plates away before the last mouthful was swallowed and had virtually all forgotten how to smile. These are only a few of the daily annoyances( don't get me started on the availability of cups) and basically all come back to one thing - Poor Management. The staff in the bars were a bit better in that they always greeted guests with a smile and took the orders promptly, but then generally left you waiting for a while before the drinks arrived. In fairness the entertainment was very good and in particular the dance instructors were excellent, probably the most enthusiastic people on the boat. The theatre group put on some great shows and most of the entertainers were value for money. One exception though was Kate Robbins, Oh dear! half the audience walked out, I'm not sure if it was because of the rubbish act or the smell of booze. The cabins are not bad, we had a balcony room which was OK, the bathroom was a little on the small side but adequate, and the hanging rail arrangement was better than the wardrobes you usually find. Our cabin steward was excellent. Friendly, helpful and nothing was too much trouble for him, whoever trained him should train the restaurant staff, a smile costs nothing. The weather was a bit rough going across the Bay of Biscay but I didn't think Ventura handled it very well, the ship rocked and rolled all over the place and many people were seasick. We've experienced worse weather than that coming across the North Sea and not had anything like as much movement. Our previous cruise was on Celebrity Eclipse and that ship is a world away from this one, the Eclipse beats Ventura in every single department in my opinion. Our verdict was - P & O Could do better. Next cruise will be Celebrity I think. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
As two first time cruisers, celebrating 3 special occasions in 2013, we were so excited to be heading for the Caribbean in January 2013 on the P&O Ventura. We had planned and prepared for this cruise for 18 months and it was such a big ... Read More
As two first time cruisers, celebrating 3 special occasions in 2013, we were so excited to be heading for the Caribbean in January 2013 on the P&O Ventura. We had planned and prepared for this cruise for 18 months and it was such a big disappointment. I would recommend that anyone thinking of going on their first cruise to research yourself thoroughly before you jump on board. We had gone to a specialist cruise shop in Liverpool and the advice given to us failed in the first instance as the wrong cruise company was recommended. We wanted a ship with the “wow” factor, including the wave pool, rock wall, indoor mall, but P&O ships don’t offer these services… We now know we should have chosen a Royal Caribbean ship for a number of factors. The beginning of the holiday started well as we boarded our charter at Liverpool Airport (this was a test schedule). The flight to Barbados airport was ideal and the transfer from plane to ship went smoothly bypassing Barbados customs to transfer directly to the ship. Upon boarding we didn’t experience the WOW factor and our first impression of Ventura lasted with us the whole cruise as other experiences didn’t come upto the expected standard. The general area furnishings were outdated, tired and worn and within our room (B326), the carpet was dirty, the towels threadbare and yellowed, the sheets in need of renewing as we found a hole in the duvet upon one of the changes and the balcony furniture was stained. Whilst on board we found that the ship was due for refit in March so we would it would be interested to see if passengers cruising after that refit report a significant change. Other passengers on board felt the standard against price paid was very poor. Having paid extra for a balcony and checked the brochure before hand for any restrictions, we found that our balcony was completely covered, the canopy being the floor of the balcony above. So beware of B deck balconies as this canopy stretches a good proportion of the ship. We have since raised this mis information with P&O (the fact that according to the brochure, our balcony wasn’t “restricted” in any way) and their customer service dept are not willing to accept this fact. I would recommend that if you do have a problem whilst on board then persist with the in- house team to rectify any problem, as once home, the UK based Customer Service Centre are not interested in listening to you regarding your concerns. There were four days at sea during the 15 night holiday and we expected to take full advantage of these relaxing on a sun-lounger. This was not the case as the sun-loungers filled up by 9 am with customers reserving them from sunrise. The in-house literature requested that passengers do not reserve beds and if they are moving away from their bed for half an hour then it be freed up. Policing this request was none existent as staff weren’t interested in the distress of some customers who searched the ship and were unable to obtain a sun-lounger. Some selfish customers went as far as reserving one each in the shade and one in the sun and swapped between the two periodically throughout the day. The feedback from P&O customer services reported that “they had provided the facility to sunbathe and were not obligated to find passengers a bed!!” This issue with beds has been a major problem with other passengers on Cruise Critic Sites and has been reported since 2009 and yet P&O have made no attempt to implement a procedure for the comfort of their passengers. I wonder if this is the norm with all cruise ships but it is certainly off-putting and a bad mark against P&O for their lack of interest to rectify this problem. I have some good aspects to report. The itinery with the variety of islands covered and the length of daily stay in port (normally arriving 7 am and departing 5 pm) was ideal. Booking P&O organised excursions is recommended as it alleviates the worry that you may get left behind if you are delayed. These excursions do seem expensive but the island tours give you a good overview of beach and town. The evening entertainment content was of a high standard but that did prove a disadvantage in itself as seating was unobtainable unless you left your meal early and reserved your seat in the cabaret lounge and theatre. The food was of a high quality in all of the ship restaurants and the waiting and bar staff attentive and helpful. We dined in Saffron on the first sitting and the organisation was excellent. I would recommend eating in the waiter service restaurants than fending for yourself in the buffet restaurant which at times was like a free for all at a holiday camp as some passengers chose to queue jump and many were disrespectful of the waiting staff. The bar prices were on par with UK hotels and the fact that you paid in £ Sterling was a bonus. The soft drinks and ice cream package was good value for money. Ship’s passengers are 90 % British and for us Brits that like our tea available in the room, all rooms had tea making facilities and a fridge. I believe P&O advertising is bringing in a different clientel and the traditional standards of cruising are being left behind. The Captain’s Gala on the second night was a let down as the Captain appeared for a five minute slot at the beginning of the evening and was never spotted again for the rest of the evening. There was no Captain’s table at which he was dining and he wasn’t "Meeting and Greeting" the passengers as we expected. In fact passengers wanting to approach him were queuing to have their photo taken with him to which they would then be asked to pay for this official photo. Official photographers were in abundance but the price charged was expensive and there were no offers for those wishing to purchase more than one photo. I can only guess at the amount of photos that were wasted and it surely would have been more cost effective to have reduced prices and put packages together. The “Spa” didn’t give the ambiance of privacy and restfulness expected and the prices for spa treatments and prices in the hairdressers were far too expensive. Therapists were under pressure to attract the customers themselves, however, appointments were always available when requested and the daily specials provided the best deals. Disembarkation was straightforward and smooth running. All in all this cruise didn’t give us the excitement, elegance and luxury we expected to get for a special holiday and as such it left a lot to be desired. After my experience I wouldn’t recommend a P&O as a company to cruise with. Many customers on my cruise that had travelled with P&O previously highlighted the lowering in standards they believed because P&O are attracting a different group of passengers, those cruising on a budget and choosing to travel at the lowest category available. The late deal prices are now comparable to an all inclusive resort in Benidorm. There was a wide assortment of tattoos on display and a number of passengers chose not to participate in the formal evenings and were wondering the ship in shorts and T shirts in the evening. A shame as the formal evenings were good fun and what cruising used to be about. The glamour and extras are being discarded to the detriment of those passengers wanting a traditional cruise experience.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
We sailed out of Southampton on a 16 night transatlantic voyage across to the Caribbean. This was our fifth cruise overall and our first with P&O. Embarkation went without problem and we were on the ship quickly. We found our ... Read More
We sailed out of Southampton on a 16 night transatlantic voyage across to the Caribbean. This was our fifth cruise overall and our first with P&O. Embarkation went without problem and we were on the ship quickly. We found our stateroom and it was decorated to generally good order but was showing signs of wear and tear here and there. There was also a slight sewage smell in the bathroom that was not particularly nice but it was only slight. This is a large ship and as such a lot of passengers were onboard. I'd say it was probably full. Our biggest issue was with the buffet area on the ship. It was very poorly stocked and the size of it is a joke for a ship of this size. The buffet area was regularly severely overcrowded with long lines to get food. Whoever designed this part of the ship really should get the boot. The food selection was also very poor. Most irritating was that when there was a 'theme' night (e.g. curry night) then there was virtually no other choice to be had. Other ships we have been on have had a massive selection all the time. The main restaurant was 'ok'. Food portions were very small and we would get through our evening dining experience in about twenty minutes! Service throughout the ship was also just bad. It is nearly a 100% Indian crew and they all just seemed fed up, overworked and just uninterested in anything. It was the first time ever we contacted the front desk and had the gratuities removed completely - we just could not justify it. We ate at some of the other restaurants on the ship and again we just found the food to be of poor quality and in small portions. We had an ongoing temperature problem in our room as well. Hot one minute and freezing the next. We had around six engineer visits during our time onboard. Public areas on the ship regularly were very busy with lots of people and it just wasn't enjoyable. Overall our experience was more like being on a giant ferry rather than a luxury cruise liner. And luxury it very much is not. Compared to the likes of a hotel rating this ship was probably a two star at best. As one previous reviewer wrote, "Butlins on a boat" isn't too far of the mark. We are unlikely to choose P&O again and will likely stick to the more premium carriers. If you book this ship then as long as you go with low expectations then everything will be great. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2012
The holiday got off to a dissapointing start when our flight was delayed because of an outage with the baggage belt supply at Gatwick. After just over 2 hours we finally took off. The service was very slow on Thomas Cook flight. As ... Read More
The holiday got off to a dissapointing start when our flight was delayed because of an outage with the baggage belt supply at Gatwick. After just over 2 hours we finally took off. The service was very slow on Thomas Cook flight. As usual they do not regard themselves as in the service industry but are "inflight safety officers". The temperature on the aircraft was very cold to suit the cabin crew working, and not the passengers. Upon arrival at the Venturer, we were impressed with the efficency of the check in, also the transfer from the aircraft. The Venturer is a very big well kept ship. The big let down is the staff on the whole of the ship. There is one nationality which is prevalent throughout the ship and they just do not pay attention, are very slow, and walk about in pairs talking to each other. The one exeption was the cabin steward, Martin. He excelled in his work and was always happy if sometimes a little tired. The mixed fruit at breakfast always ran out quickly and was never replenished quick enough. When I asked one of the supervisors in a white uniform to do something about it his attitude was not what it should have been. The edges of the dining room in the breakfast buffet were never clean. Maybe the staff are used to living like it but the officers should inspect it better and educate them The entertainment during the day was dire. The guest speaker could send you to sleep every afternoon with his monotonous droning from a book. The quiz prizes were a joke. nothing usefull like a bottle of wine. Just silly stars like a child at primary school would receive for merit. As in other reviews, trying to get a drink in the Exchange bar was very difficult. The staff also played some dreadfull rock music which they must have liked, but could not have suited the average age group of the people using the bar. We booked freedom dining, but when we got there, we were told we HAD to got to Saffron restaurant at 18.30 as too many people wanted freedom dining. When we booked by telephone with P&O we were not told there was a possibility we would be changed. When we complained, the reception staff pointed out a very small "wl" next Freedom dining on the booking form which denoted wait listed.Because of this, were restricted to that restaurant or the buffet which was always very full. There were other venues to dine which P&O unbelievably wanted you to pay for.The food must have been the same, so you had to pay for better service. One of the venues, East, was Asian food. Now, the curries in the buffet did not seem authentic,(surprising as they were cooked by Indians) so I didnt think it would be a good idea to pay and be disappointed. On the transatlantic crossing, the ship took a detour to the Azores instead of calling at Tenerife. The captain told us this was to avoid bad weather. I rather suspect this was to save a massive amount of fuel,and of course, money. On other cruises, the majority of staff seemed to be Phillipino, who were a delightful race of people, always so happy, and more importantly, good at the job. This ship needs a complete crew change. P&O staff were not good at the job,and sometimes surly. I suggest the people running P&O try a little "undercover boss" trips on their own ships and then on other cruise lines to see where they are going wrong. I think I'll give P&O a miss in future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
After a christmas cruise on the arcadia 5 years ago which was superb we decided to try P&O again and booked the christmas cruise on the Ventura. This being our 18th cruise on various cruise lines, we do know the standard to expect. ... Read More
After a christmas cruise on the arcadia 5 years ago which was superb we decided to try P&O again and booked the christmas cruise on the Ventura. This being our 18th cruise on various cruise lines, we do know the standard to expect. After a good flight all be it delayed we arrived in Barbados early evening.We were transferred immediately from the airport but had a long delay sat at the port on the coach, not what you want after a long flight. To our surprise when eventually on board we find out we have been upgraded to a balcony cabin from an inside cabin.Very nice thank you, but we found out later people had paid for 4 weeks what we had for 2 weeks as we booked 20 months in advance. The ship itself was fine although due to its different layout from other ships took a while to work out.The entertainment we found was okay although as in our previous cruise their were no well known celebrities.. The ports of call were fine but there were too many days at sea. The ship seemed to be cleaned early morning and then never again, one of the dirtiest ship's we have ever been on. Toilets not cleaned and by evening the paper hand towels were all over the floor. Trays of food left in the corridors all day. On deck the tables were not cleared quick enough. Dirty carpets all around the ship. Days at sea were very stressful as 50% of sun beds had towels left on them at 7am for most of the day which no staff ever moved' Our major problem was the food. The main restaurant was an experience you would want to forget. We had the worst Christmas dinner we have ever had. The standard of food was pub grub at best, not what you'd expect Poor quality and badly cooked. The buffet had theme nights but had very little choice, lunch or dinner but the breakfast buffet was very good if what you wanted was a traditional English breakfast.We tried the White Room and found very nice but not worth the £20 cover charge. If you travel with Celebrity or Holland and America you would get this as standard every night. We enjoyed EAST but would have liked a little more choice. This to me proved they could cook quality if you paid extra for it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We have been with P and O before but have been on an assortment of other cruise ships since. So we decided that Ventura would be a good choice for Christmas in the sun departing and returning from Barbados. I regret that we found the ... Read More
We have been with P and O before but have been on an assortment of other cruise ships since. So we decided that Ventura would be a good choice for Christmas in the sun departing and returning from Barbados. I regret that we found the ship dirty, many of the public areas were simply not cleaned often enough, the floors were not hoovered and glass work and handles not polished, some of the public toilets do not have a very good smell. We found the entertainment to be low quality although the 'Headliners' stage shows were good. Although a very nice man perhaps the cruise director need replacing with a younger one with new ideas and energy but I suspect the problem was more with the budget allocated to him. The food was okay in main restaurant but the quality had dropped drastically since we last sailed with P and O. The food in the buffet was very poor. Very little choice and mostly English type meals, cottage pie, pasty etc. One of the things we enjoy about cruising is the choice in the buffet of worldwide cuisine. This was real Butlins type food. The East Restaurant (which had a surcharge) had little choice and not very exciting food. The White Room, again an extra charge was quite good. We found the crew across the ship to be lazy and we thought that they had little interest in doing their job. The crew in the casino were the worst. We will never touch P and O again and I know that many more of the passengers on Ventura felt the same. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first time with P&O. Found Ventura a bit grubby. Ate in East on first nite, nothing special! We were allocating dining in the Baytree restaurant so ate there on the second nite and found hair in my food. So that put us ... Read More
This was our first time with P&O. Found Ventura a bit grubby. Ate in East on first nite, nothing special! We were allocating dining in the Baytree restaurant so ate there on the second nite and found hair in my food. So that put us off. We then ate mostly in the buffett or Waterside, the food there was very nice. On the second week we gave the Baytree another try, and guess, found hair in my food again! I was sent two letters of apology to our stateroom saying they had written to head office in Southhampton to 'investigate' how hair could have ended up in the food. Come on, it came off someones head in the kitchen. The staff on board do work very hard although there was an air of discontent, the Philopino staff are being paid in dollors and the Indian staff are getting British pounds. Not very fair. Do review your on board account frequently as we had been billed for room service we did not receive. Whilst chatting with one of the hospitality managers, I mentioned that housekeeping of public areas, ie: the pool areas, decks, toilets, casino was lacking, especially the smoking areas, ashtrays never emptied, banana and orange peels lying about for hours and staff just walking past them. Tissue paper and hand towels covered the floor of toilets. Yes the dirty, iresponsibe passengers were guilty of this but I still expect it to be cleaned for the rest of us. Found the spa very nice and used it frequently, until one day I seen 4 male crew shaving in the steam room and tapping the razors against the seats. Disgusting. We booked 3 trips, snorkling with turtles in Barbados, Bob Sleigh at Mystic mountain in Jamaica and the helicopter trip in St Lucia. Really enjoyed each. We did our own thing via local taxi's at the other stops. One took us to Hawksbill resort in Antigua, would really recommend this. For $40 you can have a day pass, including all drinks, food and water sports. Also the beach to yourself. Bonaire was a waste of time. Missed Grand Turk as the captain could not dock ship, if he had been American the ship would have docked. This meant 3 days at sea, not happy! Entertainment was so so, but I do expect this on cruise ships. Try getting the attention of the waiters for a drink, they spent most of the time watching the entertainment. The main let down on this cruise were the fellow passengers, hard faced and very rough. I had spoke with guests who had sailed on Ventura previously, some 4 times, but they agreed that standards had slipped and would not travel on her again. Was led to beleive this was a 4* ship, maybe a 3* with 2* service. Would I travel on P&O's Ventura again? No never Would I recommend P&O. No, we shall stick with Cunard or Fred Olsen Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
I took my family for a cruise along the Western Med in Sept 2011 on the P&O Ventura. I chose the Ventura as its is widely halied as a British Family cruise ship which I cannot fault. From what I can gather most of the passengers had a ... Read More
I took my family for a cruise along the Western Med in Sept 2011 on the P&O Ventura. I chose the Ventura as its is widely halied as a British Family cruise ship which I cannot fault. From what I can gather most of the passengers had a good time, however there was a simmering air of under expectation and certainly talking to some of the passengers there was a air of disappointment hoering over the ship. Why would this be. From my point I can understand. Although the Ventura has not been vruising for many years there as feeling of tirdness about the boat,its not any thing specific but the ventura just feels like its been arounf for alot longer and is quite worn in, when compaired to some other cruise ships. It was very apparent that P&O have embarked upon a process of cost cutting, to such an extent that we struggled to get sufficient drinking water in our room until I actually complained. The food was really quite appalling, I grew up eating school dinners but some of the stuff that was laid out was really even below that. I have to say I have never tased Oats porridge like that before. One always got the feeling that the catering staff were watching to see that passengers didnt help themselves to too much food in the buffet resturants. While I am at it I should also mention that the staff were a constant enigma to me. Often staff showed such indifference, it was just quite sad to see. The amount of time I saw staff mucking about together and ignoring passengers was far too often, there was just a feeling that P&O training has somehow slipped, as the customer service was plain and simply awful. P&O have obviously tried to create an environment that sets traps for passengers to part with money and for the uninitiated it would be very easy to find oneself stuck with a very large bill at the end of the cruise, although this is no different to other cruise operators P&O seem to have conered the market of being blatanly obious about it. On the plus side though were the ports opf calls were well organised, the reception staff were very professional and the cabin staff we had was impeccable. For myself I will cruise again, but never on P&O, this is not for me, Considering I parted with few thousand pounds for this cruise I know I cand do better. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Travelled by car to Southampton and found CPS car parking efficient and easy.Long queues for embarkation but we were on the ship within an hour and half of our allocated time. Whilst waiting in line for security we were accosted by ... Read More
Travelled by car to Southampton and found CPS car parking efficient and easy.Long queues for embarkation but we were on the ship within an hour and half of our allocated time. Whilst waiting in line for security we were accosted by photographers wanting to take photos of us on embarkation; this was to be a theme on Ventura - photographers were everywhere - on disembarkation at every port, in every bar/club, even each meal time they would pounce on you. This was annoying and oppressive, particularly since the photos were selling at £5.95 for a small one. Nobody we met on the cruise actually purchased any. Fair enough having photographers available but allow us to make the decision as to whether or not we wish to use their services. The cabin was well presented and spacious and we were quite happy with it, until one night the balcony door (a heavy glass door) actually came off its runners in my hand as I was trying to open it. My partner was asleep and the sea was choppy, so he couldn't hear me calling him for about 10 minutes and I had to stand there holding this huge door to prevent it from dropping onto the floor or blowing overboard and taking me with it. This could have caused a serious accident. We called reception and they sent the housekeeper to our room, who managed to put the door back in with our help, but it wouldn't close; we had the rest of the night with a howling gale blowing through the cabin - mainatanence men don't work out of hours!! The cabin had a fridge and tea making facilities which were replenished frequently, and the room service was good value with a wide range to choose from (when you could actually get them to answer the phone). The first port of call was Barcelona and we were sitting on the balcony waiting for our excursion time. Enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we were suddenly drenched with a high powered hose pipe from the bridge; the crew were cleaning the floors and underside of the floors directly above our balcony. To say we were soaked is an understatement; our breakfast was floating, guide books were ruined and the camera had a lucky escape. We complained about this and were told that the crew only cleaned on port days when most passengers were off the boat. However a good many of us were still on the boat and we could be seen from above where the cleaning was going on, had anyone bothered to check. We got a gruding apology and were made to feel as though we were causing trouble. The manager said that we had to produce any ruined items so that they could consider what they "may be able to do about them". After making a fuss (mainly becuause of the need to forcibly extract an apology)we did get a bottle of duty free wine. We unfortunately had further cause to complain when trying to access the internet. P&O charge 50p a minute, or you can buy an hour for £35.00. This is daylight robbery and is certainly one factor that will prevent us going with P&O again. We run a business and left 7 children at home, so making contact with home is crucial to us. But the annoyancy didn't end there! We went to sign up for an account only to find that we had to pay £2.50 to even register. Reluctantly we had to do this, however, half way through a one line email the system crashed and I had to start again. one email cost me over £7.00 and on arriving home, I discover that my email did not even get sent. They do advertise that the connection will be slow, but slow doesn't even begin to describe it. Absolute rip off. We complained about the system crashing and as a goodwill gesture, they knocked £2.00 off the total cost. Outrageous. The TV in the cabin was poor, only channels really were news and P&O spin channels. There were some films available at a cost of £5.95 each. We luckily had our laptop with us and a selection of films - top tip for anyone about to sail as days at sea can be long. The cinema had a daily showing whne at sea, but the films were not new films and we had seen them all before. P&O could at least have put on some current films and more than one showing (usually 1pm. The entertainment overall was a washout; we were really disappointed and after a few days we didnt' even bother to go. It was second rate and I would say not even Butlins standards. The activities similarly were not worth bothering with, nor the talks, unless you were interested in cars, flying or back pain. There was no atmosphere at night - only one party type evening on the top deck on the saturday night, which seemed to be mostly crew letting their hair down. Nothing at all on the last night and the bars were sedate and disappointing. We had been looking forward to a disco onboard but nothing we encountered could be described as a disco really. Meals were overall quite good; but we were restriced to the same restaurant each night at 8.45, which didn't always suite us. We could have used the buffet if we didn't want a sit down meal, or paid to dine in one of the paying outlets, but we had been warned off doing this by other passengers as not good value for money. The wine onboard was expensive and although you could take your own, there was a £10.00 corkage fee. It did feel to us as though we were being accosted at every turn for more money; we would have preferred to have paid more up front than having to keep shelling out for extras. For example, bottled water for the excursions - £4.95 for two small bottles. This isn't a very honest way - lure the passangers on with the hype and spin and then rip them off in whichever way you can. The excursions were variable in quality; we went on a bike tour of Barcelona, which was excellent and we had a super guide. Really would recommend that - not strenuous at all but a great way to see the city. We then did the 'easy Nice' tour - what a joke!! 68 Euros for a lift into town basically!! The guide was a silly, giggly woman who told the coach her life story and even pointed out where she lived. She then told the group to follow her hat as she steamed ahead, only to take her hat off in the crowds so nobdoy could see her. The worst of it though, was when we came to some steps down into the old town - the guide had vanished off into the distance and we were left to help 2 wheelchair users down the steps - they were elderly and if we hadn't been lagging behind the group, they wouldn't even have had our help. You would have thought that the guide would take note of this and choose a route without steps that was suitable for all passengers - disgusting. We left the group and go the bus to Monte Carlo for 1 Euro - and back again almost right to the port. Avoid this tour!! Gibraltar excursions were all sodl out by the time we tried to book, but in the event there were a number of tour guides on the quayside selling tours for half the price that P&O were charging. These tours included twice as much as the P&O one, and was very good. Don't bother booking with P&O as again, a rip off.They were running seperate tours for each attraction, whereas the one we took covered all of them for 25 Euros. Overall, we did have a really good time with enforced rest and nothing really to have to think about. We will definately go on another cruise but not with P&O - it was a real let down. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We had often wondered would we enjoy a large cruise ship after the ultimate experience of Azamara could anything be better than that.,so when I saw a 2 night cruise to Zeebruger to visit Bruges and try all that chocolate and special price ... Read More
We had often wondered would we enjoy a large cruise ship after the ultimate experience of Azamara could anything be better than that.,so when I saw a 2 night cruise to Zeebruger to visit Bruges and try all that chocolate and special price balcony cabin same as inside i booked it.What a mistake from the moment of check in at Southampton to the chaos of disembarkation nothing lived up to expectation,Too many people, nowhere quiet to relax,queues for everything from breakfast to lifts, buses,everywhere you went people pushing and so much noise.The cabin clean and bed very comfortable ,best of all cruises we,ve had,plenty of hot water and good shower.No water in the room to drink and 2 sachets of coffee a day!!!Food ok could be better, buffet breakfast lacked imagination and fresh fruit could have been fresher.Staff fairly indifferent but polite chatted a lot to each other.Would recommend that P and O .staff do an Azamara cruise they could learn a lotWill never chance P and O again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
Our cruise from Southampton to Bruge, a two day taster cruise that left on the 25th March 2011 and returned on the 27th March and cost us £350 per person plus extras, was a big disappointment I'm sorry to say. As quite experienced ... Read More
Our cruise from Southampton to Bruge, a two day taster cruise that left on the 25th March 2011 and returned on the 27th March and cost us £350 per person plus extras, was a big disappointment I'm sorry to say. As quite experienced cruisers we wanted to taste the delights of P.& O. which we thought would be a real treat and cut above the others (Royal Caribbean and Princess). From the very beginning organisation was a real issue. We arrived at the cruise terminal (Southampton) to be handed the colour coded cards with letters on, with no explanation as to the procedure other passengers filled us in, and over an hour later waiting in a huge hot hanger (please please tell me that's air conditioned in summer ?) we were called. Then you que for check in, then you que for security now I understand that some queing when dealing with 3000+ passengers must be inevitable but there are ways to handle large groups with courtesy and tact rather than making them feel like cattle, and this was not attempted here.We arrived on board and a few staff were "hanging around" and we managed to find out where are cabin was ,but on previous cruises this has been handled as a warm welcome with smiles and grace, not so here.Best Bit of cruise was the brass band on the dock which played us off, magic. Our cabin was adequate, with furnishings as expected but the overall feel was that the decor, fabrics and flooring were very tired. A small TV on which little information was ever displayed and PAY per view films ! unlike Princess or Royal Caribbean where the latest movies run for free, with plenty of choice of other channels and information is updated daily in a rolling show recorded by the cruise director. (Dont even think P&O have a cruise director).In the bathroom were decent size toiletries, but a shower curtain rather than a door. In the Room were tea and coffee making facilities and a fresh daisy, all small nice touches. On the balcony, nice furniture two loungers, one foot stool (every one else had two??) and an occasional table (what do occasional tables do the rest of the time? [I digress]).We went for a wander around the ship and came back to find our case had been left outside someone else's cabin, luckily we walked past that particular cabin so reclaimed our case !!! can you imagine the problems we could have had had we not been lucky enough to spot it?There was no explanation of where we could eat (this was the major problem of this cruise there was never any information or help or organisation), we ended up on the deck eating hot dogs and burgers although, I believe, we could have eaten a nice afternoon tea in the buffet but no one told us!The restaurant was pleasant, the food and service excellent, we had first sitting 6.30pm and a table with two other couples and although we were strangers we got on well and I have no complaints about the restaurant and my partner was pleased to note that on the formal night people were denied access to the dining room if they were not adhering to the specified dress code. The breakfast (which we took in the buffet on deck 15) was also excellent with masses of choice and very nice food. My partner had full English and I had continental with fruit and yogurt all lovely and well presented. We will give credit where credit is due the staff and food served on this ship were top notch.The entertainment on board for this two night cruise were awful, a bad comedian, two X-factor rejects, a sub standard tribute to the four tops and a George Micheal tribute act. I hope that normally on longer cruises the shows would be good but might have expected at £350 a head for two nights we deserved better. The crew also seemed to think this was a "Party Cruise" nobody billed it as a party cruise when we booked it, it was described as a "Taster" and we expected a taste of P.& O.'s usual standards.Bruge and the shore excursion- We booked the four hour tour, boat ride and shopping advertised as "A Taste Of Bruge" £40 a head.Our coach was half an hour late leaving the ship due to lots of chatting and checking lists by the P&O staff, so we were instantly late starting our walking tour. No problem for the guide who was 6'4" with a stride to match and decided to do the whole thing at top speed with no "comfort stops", in the end three of us ladies had to demand a toilet break which went down very badly and he went into a complete sulk when half the group decided not to continue with the tour and make their own way back to the ship (at considerable expense). If I were you I would book the "Bruge at your own pace" (£28)which is basically a transfer to and from the ship and look round Bruge at your leisure. A lady however told me that this was also fraught with disaster for some people as when they went to get the buses back, some how the buses filled before every one who had paid were seated on them. The driver of the last bus refused to carry these passengers, despite their having tickets and turning up in good time ( one was even in a wheelchair), and left them to make their own way back to the ship, ten miles away. Perhaps to make your own way to and from Bruge via the train is the best option as many more experienced passengers did. Bruge by the way is lovely. The boat "driver" we had was very funny and we tipped him because he was the best bit of the tour.Disembarkation- We have been on many cruises and are used to the system, you keep the bare essentials with you and put your main case(s) outside the night before you dock. In the morning those who want to get off quick (and didn't put their cases out the night before) get off first. Then the others are kept in different lounges and called in order (usually colour coded) to avoid chaos, no one ques for longer than necessary and you wait in comfort! That's how they do it on other ships, not here though, lip service was paid to the organised way, we waited for the calls for disembarkation but after nothing for an half an hour my partner went to find out what was happening. He was told by a member of staff that they'd abandoned any attempt at organisation and everyone was now queing (3000+ people) to leave the ship by one gang plank!!! madness which we then had to join. What a rubbish way to end a rubbish weekend. Everyone was hot,tired and very fed up, it didn't have to be like that, the fact that the ship was late docking should not have caused this chaos.When we got home a P.&O. brochure was awaiting us, and leafing through I was amazed to find that this ship is only 3 years old, it has not aged well. It needs a deep clean and preferably a complete refurbishment, it needs someone to organise the staff and provide more information, where are the little cards with maps of the ship ? (so handy on other cruises we've been on). The staff need to up their game be polite and informative (one spoke to me so rudely he alone would have put me off P.& O. single handedly) the general attitude seemed to be it's only a two day cruise we dont give a damn about the passengers. You will not be surprised that we will not be travelling with P.& O. again and are having our next cruise with Princess, they know how to treat their customers (and we've already booked it).It saddens me that a great British company has been reduced to this. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Arrived in Barbados after a 9 hour flight without inflight entertainment(TOM194)out of Manchester.Everyone on the flight had blankets around them it was that cold.From airport to ship was excellent no waiting about.We checked into the ... Read More
Arrived in Barbados after a 9 hour flight without inflight entertainment(TOM194)out of Manchester.Everyone on the flight had blankets around them it was that cold.From airport to ship was excellent no waiting about.We checked into the boarding sheds very quickly and then we were held up by the bain of the whole cruise yes a PHOTOGRAPHER. Reached cabin D729 VERY NICE INDEED,there was champagne, chocolates and fruit waiting great start on board. The Ventura is a beautiful ship even though we hadn't cruised before to compare it with.The main entertainment centre was the Arena theatre which holds approx 900 and is very comfortable.Las Ramblas is a very comfortable meeting place for a drink it could be a room in any top class hotel. The Tamarind bar is a beautiful room but unfortunately is the centre for the Ballroom dancers and therefore is only fully utilized if there is entertainment on following the dancing.Nightclub Havanna is at the stern of the ship and is a very poorly shaped room so much so that there is numerous TV screens around the room in order to see the entertainment. This is also where LIBBY and her cronies entertain themselves dancing the night away when supposedly working. We were booked first sitting 6.30pm in the BAY TREE restaurant, all the food we had was of a very good standard the only drawback was that the food was not very warm when it reached our table which was the furthest from the galley.We also dined in the WHITE ROOM on two ocassions which for the extra £20pp was well worth the experience.During the day we used the Waterside restaurant the self service food was edible but on board it was known as the CANTEEN.Not only are the plates red hot but also the trays are the hottest anywhere. After our day in Barbados we set sail for BONAIRE 36 hours away.This is when we found out about the squealing screaming kids on board who are allowed by their parents and staff alike to do as they please and ruin everyone elses relaxation. If you require a nice relaxing holiday after 12 months hard graft DO NOT GO ON THE VENTURA.Not only are there young children, roaming the ship at will are teenagers who sit on stairs or anywhere they want to which is not very nice on a beautiful cruise ship. On the Islands visited I can honestly say that there is not a lot to choose between any of them they all have the same shops/sheds selling alot of junk, they all have taxi drivers trying to rip you off with island tours if you haven't been ripped off by P&O who are even dearer.The only Islands I would reccommend is ST MAARTEN and maybe GRAND TURK the latter is only 1x7 miles. On the cruise there are 4 formal nights which if your are a normal guy like me will have you heaving as the dolled up snobs who stroll round licking a--e as if they are really someone.On the first formal evening the Captain greeted his subjects like the pope by standing on a balcony in the Atrium, pass me a bucket.This is where the most annoying thing apart from the screaming kids on Ventura starts in earnest and never stops until you leave the ship THE PHOTOGRAPHERS believe me they never leave you alone whether you are walking eating drinking they are there it is pathetic, i now know why famous people hate the paparazzi they are in your face all the time. Entertainment is worse than any working mens club that i have visited.To save time i will just give examples from both ends of the spectrum, the best which both came on the last two days were Martin Daniels a comedian/magician and a Neil Diamond tribute act who was very good.At the other end for adult entertainment in the night club we had Mr Biscuit who made dogs from balloons and a so called comedian by the name of ANDY FORD who emptied the room in 15minutes flat they were an absolute disgrace. So there you have it folks don't be fooled by all the hype about cruise ships,if you want to spend a fortune on what is basically a captive holiday go, if not steer clear because for what you will pay out you could do at least 3 holidays a year al a carte virtually anywhere.Finally do not be fooled by the on board spend offered it does not last 5 minutes and we did not purchase any photographs at £15 a time.If you have booked this ship just pray that all the kids are at school if not take some big earplugs. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Thank you Paul Woodman for your cruise review. My wife and I agree with almopst everything that you have said. We were on the same cruise. We didn't opt for Freedom dining. Instead we had first sitting, 6.30 p.m. on a table for ... Read More
Thank you Paul Woodman for your cruise review. My wife and I agree with almopst everything that you have said. We were on the same cruise. We didn't opt for Freedom dining. Instead we had first sitting, 6.30 p.m. on a table for six. We were most fortunate to have four interesting and interested companions.However, one couple had paid £2000 per head less than we had paid.In addition our total "on spend" money was £200, those with the cheap fare had £900 per couple.It certainly makes one think about Booking ahead. Our two waiters were excellent, both were from India and obviously took pride in their work. In the main restaurant most of the meals were just "OK". Generally very bland and no more than 2* or 3*. An exception was the alternative option each night of a steak. These were always excellent and were often ordered in lieu of the Main Menu. We were without a TV in our cabin for almost 72 hours. I reported this fault to Reception by phone and in person on at least 6 occasions. On the third day without TV I left reception with a P & O complaint form in my hand and told the Receptionist that if the set wasn't working on my return to the ship I would make a written complaint. Of course it was then fixed and only made me cross that I hadn't gone down that route earlier. A large number of passengers had taken advantage of the low fares and their dress and general behavior left much to be desired. A high number of passengers were equally disenchanted with the cruise overall and many said they would write to Head Office and complain. It's my experience that very few actually write. Finally, I think P & O are shooting themselves in the foot by offering such cheap fares. I've just read that three Cruise Lines are promising to give back the difference to any passengers if the cruise they have booked is reduced. Paul has already said how poor the entertainment was. We went almost every night thinking "tonight may be better". There were 2 or 3 good shows, best of all was comedian Tom O'Connor; so good in fact that he was asked, and did, another show. I'll conclude by saying that I will look long and hard before I book another P & O cruise. It's a shame, we have such wonderful memories of our days on the "Oceana" Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
We are seasoned cruisers and have cruised many times before most recently with Royal Carribean, NCL and Princess so this was our first P&O cruise and we must say were not impressed in comparrison! Embarkation/Disembarkation This was ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers and have cruised many times before most recently with Royal Carribean, NCL and Princess so this was our first P&O cruise and we must say were not impressed in comparrison! Embarkation/Disembarkation This was very efficient we arrived at Southampton around 11.45 and we were on board the ship within half an hour very organised lots of desks open to check you in. Great start to our holiday or so we thought! Disembarkation was very organised you are given coloured cards and get off once your colour has been called however don't try and get off before your colour is called as you will be sent back. Cabin The smallest cabin we've had especially the bathroom which was very petite. We had an inside cabin on deck 12 which was fine despite being a bit smaller than what we are used to. Our steward did a good job throughout although we did miss the small finishing touches that we ve always had like towel animals being left on your bed at night. Other than that it was fine. Food & Drink The food was the highlight probably some of the best food we've had on any cruise I am wheat and gluten free and they were great at accomadating me with this. If there was something I didn't like on the menu the chef would make it especially if he could, as I pre-ordered my meals the night before the same with afternoon tea as long as I pre ordered they would accomadate me. The White Room was FANTASTIC well worth the £25 per head extra charge. Drinks were very reasonable around £2.25 for a can of beer £4.20 for a cocktail. The downside to this was the waterside buffet on deck 15 it was a NIGHTMARE! The restaurants closed at 9am for breakfast so if you wanted a lie in you had to go to Waterside, we have never ever had to queue for breakfast or for a seat before on this cruise we constantly had to queue it was awful. We chose freedom dining which was ok but if you want a table for 2 be prepared to wait up to an hour most nights as we had to wait, a bit annoying that you cant book a table like we could last year on Royal Carribean. Entertainment The only word for it is RUBBISH! Very poor throughout the cruise a long way off the standards of the american cruise lines and not enough activities during the day.We felt like we were on a floating butlins or a package holiday at sea not what we are used to at all. Ports Of Call Lisbon, Vigo, La Rochelle and Brest. The ports of call were ok but we much prefer the med if you are going to cruise Europe we did a tour in Lisbon and La Rochelle which again were o.k but over priced like most excursions. What they don't tell you is there are free shuttle buses at every port which is useful but we had already booked our tours so were unable to make use of these in Lisbon and La Rochelle. In vigo we got off and walked into town which we thought was a bit of a dump and Brest we didn't get of the ship so cant comment on that. Service The service was ok not the most friendly service we've had but we didn't have any problems either the staff were pleasant but didn t go out of there way where service is concerned. Ventura "ROLL" We were told this at breakfast yesterday by a lady sitting on our table that she was told by someone at P&O the Ventura is known as The VENTURA Roll and boy did she rock. We have cruised out of New York in winter we have cruised Alaska and never experienced movement like this before it was VERY VERY ROCKY. Alot of people were suffering from sea sickness that we spoke to. She is not a very stable ship at all the swells and sea conditions we were told by the captain were fine. If the Ventura rocks like that in ok weather I dread to think what she would be like in bad weather. Summary The demogarphic on this ship was vast I have never seen so many tattoo's in one space before, there were alot of babies and alot of diabled and wheelchair passengers on board. We feel this cruise was aimed at the more cheaper end of the market which is why it gave us the feel of a floating butlins or package holiday at sea. The ship was full 3,500 passengers and this is the first time we've felt it was crowded, we have often been on large ships but have never felt crowded before. The food was great however not much else was as i've said above and in future we will pay a bit more and stick with Celebrity and Royal Carribean and will certainly never cruise with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We have just returned from a 15 night cruise around the caribbean..its was me [26] partner [31] and daughter [3]...the flight with thomsons was great loads of leg room and had TV's in back on seats so you could choose what you wanted ... Read More
We have just returned from a 15 night cruise around the caribbean..its was me [26] partner [31] and daughter [3]...the flight with thomsons was great loads of leg room and had TV's in back on seats so you could choose what you wanted to watch or play games..flew to barbados and took about 30 mins from barbados airport to the ship...got though really quick and straight onto Ventura..the ships massive and took couple days to find way around.The only decks you can walk from one end of the boat to other is decks 7 and 15...the room was small ok just about for us [stayed inside cabin] but a family of 4 would of been tight.the cabin steward forgot to do our room twice..the cabin steward was ok didnt smile much or talk..the pools where nice but all very deep even the kids pool only had small ledge for daughter to stand..kids clubs where great but it was kids looking after kids...the drink prices where good £2.60 for pint and cocktails where around £3.50-£4.50 cocktail of the days £2.65 couldnt taste acahol tho..All the staff from servers in resurants to the ones serving drinks on deck and in bars where so misserable never smilled and where sometimes very rude...The main thing i would like to complain about Ventura is the ENTERTAINMENT or lack of it for our age group..one formal night we where all dressed up in our long dress's and dinner suits [which everyone wore on those nights] in one bar the had mr and mrs Ventura and another bar [which was supost to be the club] Deal or know deal on at 11pm..there was no discos and when DJ NEIL did come on he only played really old music my whole family [mainly my mum and dad who are in early 50's] complained to DJ NEIL and he would be very rude back saying he had to cater for everyone be he never played any modrn music until we requested a few songs they where sometimes played...This boat is good if your only going on the ship to get around to the islands...So the boats lovely,They need a pool thats shallower,better entertainment a club with modern music or live music for 18-30's,SMILING STAFF,helpful friendly staff...we enjoyed the cruise overall but i will defantly pay more and go on the american ships next years the service on them is ten to one and the service and staff on Ventura need to learn a lesson from the american ships.. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
Ventura Canaries July 2008 This is our fourth cruise the last on being with the century of the celebrity line to the Baltic, great ship great cruise, so I thought at£3000 more the p and o Ventura would be fantastic, I was wrong! ... Read More
Ventura Canaries July 2008 This is our fourth cruise the last on being with the century of the celebrity line to the Baltic, great ship great cruise, so I thought at£3000 more the p and o Ventura would be fantastic, I was wrong! Firstly the reception at Southampton was poor, We arrived 4 hours early due to flights, we were ignored for 3 1/2 hours the facilities were very poor with no one willing or able to take our bags, there were about 5o people in the same boat. When I asked if we could sit some where sit, could someone take our bags? I was told by one of there reps what I already knew, we were early and no they couldn't take the bags, but were we excited? Em no! Disappointed, uncomfortable yes, excited ,no. It did not impress us particularly as other people were getting the 5 star treatment, future customers apparently, to see if they would book for future trips Those of us that had parted with their hard earned money well they could just wait outside! The Ship The ship its big too big ,it rolls like an old man on skates,even on a milk pond if windy it cant get into some ports because its too big,(we missed Lanzarote). It's also too big because they is a staff ratio of only 1/3 on all other ships we have been on its been 1/2 this means that the cabins are tided, not really cleaned The public areas ,particularly the public toilets are disgusting, with poo on the seats and floor! This is the only ship I have been on where they do not insist you use hand gel When entering the main dining, so prepare for tummy upset down the line There are not enough sun-beds and they were so desperate to fill the ship i think they have let anyone on, a friend of mine has experienced fing and blinding over sun-beds with the only pool patrols being waiters selling drinks. There are several pools and one we use had enough chlorine to turn the kids eyes red and their swimmers green. There is no sign of security to keep an eye on some who look like they would be happier on a beach in Ibiza. The British staff are as pleasant and helpful as you would find at Woolworths the Filipino and Indian staff are much better as are the spa and internet staff. A word of warning the camera memory card viewer wiped out half my photographs and damaged the card, apparently that was my fault! The food is good but the dining experience, in fact everything is not as good as our previous Celebrity cruise. To sum up too big too dirty, too bad ,P and O have got it badly wrong and their Customer service is very poor, the loading manager was very rude and unhelpful to my wife when we were disembarking, funny that! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2008
What excitement to think that we had managed to book on to P+O's largest ship ever. This is a British ship and Helen Mirren had named her only in April.Our Travel agent arranged for us to be picked up at the house by mini bus and then ... Read More
What excitement to think that we had managed to book on to P+O's largest ship ever. This is a British ship and Helen Mirren had named her only in April.Our Travel agent arranged for us to be picked up at the house by mini bus and then taken to Magor Services where we joined many other people all going to Southampton on the Ventura. We did not arrive until mid afternoon and with so many people to cater for the ship had set sail before we had our cases delivered to our cabin. We were not shown how to get to our cabin so we found it quite frustrating. We had booked club dining and asked for second sitting which we were told was fine. When we looked around the cabin we discovered a notice saying they were pleased to allocate us "Free Dining". This is not Free at all as one has to book the previous day. If you do not book but just arrive, then you could find yourself waiting a long time for table. We booked for 7p.m. each night and had no problem getting a table but as it was a different table each night you never knew who you would be sitting with. This was disappointing as you never got to know anyone really well and as we were just a couple we more often than not found ourselves on a table with a foursome who had come together. Sometimes this was great but at other times we found ourselves 'left out' and just talking to ourselves. We discovered that there were a lot of other people who had booked club dining and found themselves with "freedom dining" but there was nothing we could do about it. Our balcony cabin was at the rear of the ship and if we wanted to go to anything at the front we had a long long walk. Freedom dining was on deck 5 and we were on deck 12, so the first night we decided to walk down the stairs but when we got to deck 6 we could not go down any further. One then had to go back up to deck 7, walk along to the centre of the ship and only then could we go down to deck 5. This was very confusing and even at the end of the cruise one could find people who were lost. The food was excellent and extremely well presented and if you did not like anything on the menue you could always ask for a steak or salad. The self service restaurants (there were two of them, so one was always open) had a good variety of meals and snacks but no custard or real cream. The scones in the afternoon were freshly baked but very small and the pot of cream was synthetic!!! This was the first time I have tasted chocolate eclairs with synthetic cream. The children seemed very well catered for and we rarely saw them on the ship unless accompanied by a minder. Compared with The Royal Caribbean ships the shows were very poor and we only managed to get seated during the middle show once. It seems a very small theatre for the amount of people although they do put on three shows the last one does not start until 10.45p.m. I would suggest that you take any medicines and tablets that you think you could possibly need with you as there is very little in the small shop. So if you want asprins,something for a sore throat, a bad back etc etc you would have to visit the medical centre and see the doctor. This costs £40 plus the cost of the tablets(much more expensive than you get back home in the chemist. As the excess on insurance is generally £50 cheapest a few more items in your case would prove well worth while. The cabins were quite large with a walk-in wardrobe (take some more hangers!!)and you can keep four large cases under the twin beds. The beds were comfortable and I believe that if you asked your cabin lad you can have them pushed together to make a double bed. Some of the ports we took excursions but on others we were so close to the town that we either walked or took the shuttle bus. The shuttle buses were free except for the one into Helsinki which cost 20 dollars but you could pay in pounds. We enjoyed the excursions we did take except for one in St Petersburg The Seige of Leningrad" which was first of all going around an old ice breaker ship- the smell of stale tobacco smoke was not very pleasant, and then around a large museum. This was quite interesting but by the time the Russian guide had her say then the translator it took a very long time and we spent over an hour or more. A lot of people asked to go outside as there were few seats and it did get very repetitive. It would have been better to cut this short and then to maybe go to the commemorative cemetery where they have the flames lit continually. So on that trip we did not see anything of St Petersburg and there is so much to see. As each port of call used a different currency we decided to just have some euros and this was taken by all of them although in St Petersburg they did like you to have American dollars(unless you had roubles of course). My 4 favorite ports of call were Stockholm - loved by most people with it many islands joined by over fifty bridges, a beautiful city but expensive. Then St Petersburg which has so much that one can never see it all. Tallinn which has an old town with cobbled streets and is so so pretty and relatively unexpensive. A shuttle bus took us into the old town and there is plenty to see and plenty of eating places. Then last but not least was Warnemunde, an East German sea-side resort which seems to be getting onto the itinerary of our ships at last. It is only a very short walk from the dock and there are loads of small shops, cafes and boat trips and train trips - I suggest you do your own thing again. The library is quite comprehensive but there are no seats and there is not anywhere that one can exchange books. Most people take some reading matter with them and when finished would like to swap it for another book. We used the computer room a lot and this was never full and the person in charge was very helpful whether you are a complete beginner or more advanced. The dance floor is very small especially considering the size of the ship and the 3,000 odd passengers. Plenty of bars and places for coffee, chocolate etc. The gym is large and has lots of different machines and one could always find a free one to use. Plenty of sun loungers and there were always plenty free. With five pools, one now allocated for adults only there is never a problem when you want a swim. The weather was kind to us most of the time although it was too windy to go into Copenhagen which was a disappointment. A smaller ship would have had no problem. Summing up - a Baltic trip is a must and I would not have missed it for anything but would certainly not go back on the Ventura. Of all the people we spoke to or heard talking there were only two who said they would have another cruise on the Ventura. As this was our first trip with P+O we were told numerous time not to judge P+O by this ship ?????? Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
We went a Ventura cruise for two weeks in the Med. We are experienced P&O cruisers aged early 50s. The basic facts, as objectively as possible: Embarkation was fairly swift a Southampton but the ship left port late due to ... Read More
We went a Ventura cruise for two weeks in the Med. We are experienced P&O cruisers aged early 50s. The basic facts, as objectively as possible: Embarkation was fairly swift a Southampton but the ship left port late due to underestimating the amount of baggage to be loaded. The ship is huge and 90% of it is done very well. Two spacious show lounges plus the theatre. Unfortunately, despite P&O adding an additional performance at each of the shows (three times a night instead of two) the theatre and lounges are not enough for 3,200 passengers. The old activities of flower arranging and making a corsage for Ladies Night have been replace with computer skills, circus lessons, etc. Shore excursions were fine from our perspective and there is a much wider choice than a few years ago. We tried the new "Freedom Dining" option which worked reasonably well although "freedom" meant 7.00 pm or 9.00 pm usually and only if you booked at 8.00am two days in advance. Entertainment was a mix of good and bad...not sure the punk rock group was such a good idea. Martin Gold was quite a funny comedian but some of the others were rubbish. Steward service in the bars was good. The ship did not seem as clean as other P & O ships. Now to my subjective view. Ventura is essentially Butlins at sea. P& O have made a great mistake with this ship with their obvious intention to grow their business outside of the established model. I may be wrong but only if they think they can fill this ship every cruise with families with children, and then only those who are happy that there is no control over their children. It is full at the moment because P&O's loyal cruisers are trying it out as well as their new demographic group. In the whole two weeks we were on board I did not hear one "cruiser" say anything other than they would never cruise on her for a second time. We ourselves have cancelled a cruise on Ventura booked for next year. Children are everywhere, the lounges, all the pools, Jacuzzis used as paddling pools....family friendly maybe...but not children controlled surely!! It just doesn't have the feel of the other ships...like it has dropped down a class. No risk assessments can have been done as children as young as two are allowed to jump into the pools without supervision. I wonder when the first major accident will happen. None of the pools are shallower than 6 feet and the very small children's paddling pool was closed throughout the cruise. There are no adult only bars. The poor replacement for a Crows Nest bar on other P&O ships (Metropolis) was full with children running and playing. Very sophisticated...NOT. There are not enough sun beds even though they are packed in like sardines and, unlike other P&O liners, no one stops the "towels on the beds mentality". Ironically the famous P&O non-common sense rule comes into play here as well. We had a massive balcony with two tiny non-reclining chairs and a small table. If all the balconies had had decent seating the pressure on the sun beds on deck would have been alleviated. We warned the reception desk on the second day that using automatic hand cleaning dispensers in the buffet instead of the good old method of a member of the crew proffering it would lead to a Norovirus outbreak and it did on the fourth day. Drinks menus disappeared, as did salt & pepper cellars and the buffet was served to you. In fact anything that might transfer germs. Another classic case of stable doors and horses bolting! The only exception was the ice cream vendor who continued to use his fingers to add sprigs of mint to ice creams at all times. Even after we reported it twice!! The reception desk needs a special mention. An example..and by no means the only one. We complained about our TV not working five times. Eventually an office came down and told us it wasn't working. Duh! In the end I fixed it myself by rebooting the interactive system. Whatever was said to reception went in one ear and out of the other. A classic "lights on but nobody home". The dinner menus have lost the option to have a steak, chicken, salmon option to the table d'hôte although I am informed it is still available on a wink wink nudge nudge system. The problem with a bigger ship becomes apparent in port. Getting on and off is more difficult with longer queues. At tender ports especially this resulted in long waits onshore to get back to the ship. I have seen a review of this cruise already which was basically thumbs down but they did make the point that if people didn't like the kids why cruise on a Family Friendly ship. I think the point was missed. We don't mind well behaved children on a cruise. We used to take ours. But this is a ship where any complaint about children is greeted by the response that it is "up to the parents". In this day and age that is laughable. And what adult would risk going into a small pool filled with children in today's climate...not I for one. Children rule on this ship. And they will do until next season when P&O will see the cancellations and the poor bookings and think again. We had 230 children on board. I was told this will increase to 600 in the school holidays. I pity anyone sailing on Ventura then. God bless Aurora...she still has children...but is never taken over by them. Read Less
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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