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Sail Date: June 2015
This was our first adventure with P &O cruises having previously sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We liked the idea of sailing from Southampton and also not having to convert all our shipboard spend from ... Read More
This was our first adventure with P &O cruises having previously sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We liked the idea of sailing from Southampton and also not having to convert all our shipboard spend from Dollars to GBP so that was a major factor in the initial decision. Embarkation was awful; queues everywhere and it didn't matter what time you were listed to board, you just joined the massive queue and waited. The ship was due to sail at 4.30pm and it took until 4pm before we were all aboard. The two hours we spent waiting could have been improved with the offer of a glass of water as there really wasn't anything worthwhile on offer in the terminal. We later heard that the utter chaos had been caused by a computer failure earlier in the day and and assured by fellow passengers that it isn't normally that bad. The ship herself is absolutely stunning with plenty of indoor chill out space and lots of outdoor small terraces to sit and have a drink or enjoy the view. We chose an indoor cabin on deck 9, towards the aft of the ship on the starboard side. The room we had, D711, was very spacious with lots of lighting and mirrors which made the room feel warm and welcoming. We were pleasantly surprised with the ample wardrobe space with plenty of storage. The shower room was small but had everything you need including complementary toiletries. We especially liked the tea/coffee making facilities and the interactive services on the television where for example, you could choose a free film, find out what food theme was available that night in the Waterside buffet restaurants and most importantly, find out our itemised onboard spend. We had 'freedom dining' so could choose where and when we wanted to eat. The Saffron restaurant we were allocated was lovely, the staff were very helpful and the food was fantastic. I can't comment on those who have said P&O have dumbed down on ditching silver service and on the portion sizes but there was certainly ample choice and we never left the restaurant feeling anything less than happy and pleasantly stuffed. Although the food in the main restaurants was fabulous we wanted to try the various options available to us. There's a superb little bistro called the Beach House on deck 15 aft, it's part of the Waterside buffet during the day but is converted into an intimate venue for food in the evening. There is a small cover charge, £5 per person but this is well worth it. The food is American or Mexican by theme with the menu changing each week. The sort of food you can have here is Nachos or Caesar salad for starter, kebabs (chicken, meat, vegetable your choice) Mac and cheese, steak you cook yourself at your table on sizzling platters, or my favourite, spicey sizzler plates which are a bit like make you own fajitas. As for dessert, it's to die for, they serve the biggest portion size of chocolate fudge cake (2 slices with ice cream) I have ever seen. The banana bread and butter pudding with walnut ice cream is gorgeous. This is so good you'll want to try the following weeks menu too. Our favourite 'select' dining option was Atol Kutchars restaurant Sindhu. This is situated on deck 7 midship. This also had a small cover charge (£15 per person) but again was well worth the money. The food was amazing and was served silver service in beautiful surroundings. Although there were 3 main courses there were lots of little touches that made this an unforgettable experience. Prior to starters being served there were complementary mini popadoms and dips, followed by onion badgjis and following on from the meal we were served petit fours and chocolates with our coffee. In common with the other select dining options the menu here changes each wee of your cruise. The third select dining option we tried was the Glass House by Ollie Smith wine expert. This is the sort of venue where you can just turn up when you like either for lunch or dinner. There is a fairly extensive menu of food on offer priced by each course. The restaurant also does tasting menus where they pair food with several glasses of wine. This is very popular and costs £30. Since we are not great fans of wine we choose to try '3 small plates' each. These were a bit like tapas served in three individual plates that you choose from a list of about 10. We tried watermelon and feta salad, scotch egg with quail egg, chicken tenders, baba ganoush, garlic mushrooms and tempura prawns. The 3 plates cost £5.25 per set and we left feeling very full. The wine waiters were very knowledgeable and helped us choose something suitable from an extensive range. Wine could be bought as either a small or large glass or by the bottle with prices per bottle ranging from about £16.50 upwards. There is a further select dining called the Epicurean which is apparently a bit like the kind of food done by Heston Blumenthal but since we are vegetarian and this was mostly meat based we didn't try this venue. So what did we enjoy apart from the food? The entertainment was without doubt the best we have had at sea. There was a broad range of entertainment available in the main Arena theatre, ranging from musical extravagan Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We are pensioners and have cruised many times and many lines. We picked this cruise because it looked interesting and was a good price. Having cruised on the AZURA this ship held very few surprises for us as they are sisters. It is one of ... Read More
We are pensioners and have cruised many times and many lines. We picked this cruise because it looked interesting and was a good price. Having cruised on the AZURA this ship held very few surprises for us as they are sisters. It is one of the larger ships there was plenty to do and the entertainment staff were for the most part very friendly and soon made you feel at home. We had one of the cheapest balconies situated at the rear of the ship, the balcony was slightly larger than previous one we’ve had. When at sea there was quite a bit of noise from the wash which mostly disappeared when the door was shut and there was an occasional ‘shimmy’ when the autopilot made a correction both of these didn’t cause us to much of a problem. As is normal the room maid was efficient and very obliging and kept the room spotless. We had most of our dinners in the main dining room and found the service was impeccable, preferring not to dress up on holiday we had formal normal night dinners in the buffet which was also very good. Most nights we went to the theatre to see some excellent shows, although being non dancers and not a follower of ‘Strictly come dancing’ some of the dancing shows left us cold. I hear you say if you not keen on dancing why did you go on a ‘Strictly come dancing cruise’ because the cruise fitted our criteria. We also saw some very good acts in the ‘Havana’ lounge including some very good comedians. Having been on many cruises round the Med we did not both with excursions but rather settled for a stroll around the local town, most of these places had some interesting points in their favour . Although the Ventura and Azura are sisters we both thought that there was a better atmosphere on the Azura. One little niggle for us and several other passengers where the daily Sudoku and Crossword, on most of the previous cruises (and on many lines) the Sudoku and crossword were put out first thing to give you something to do while waiting for the activities to start, but on the Ventura they mad you wait until they had printed a newssheet and so didn’t appear until eleven o’clock and missed altogether when the hard working!!!! Librarian was given another job. We left England in cold weather but I’m glad to say it warmed up by the time we got to Gibraltar and was sunny all the way home, but we did suffer when we hit the Bay of Biscay the sea was very choppy and while some old salts laughed it off we did feed the fish, still it had cleared by the English channel and we arrived back to a warm sunny day. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise and although we had a fabulous time I would like to let others know some tips if you have never cruised before. We travelled on the P&O Ventura from Southampton and from the ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise and although we had a fabulous time I would like to let others know some tips if you have never cruised before. We travelled on the P&O Ventura from Southampton and from the start it was a very smooth operation and we were very impressed at the organised way it all started compared to the "cattle market" airports we were used to. Only one tip here - when you drive up to the terminal if you have booked car parking they are there waiting for you very efficient but make sure you unload your baggage quickly because as my husband went to look for a trolley to load our luggage onto a chap got into the car to drive it to the car parking - I was still trying to unload the luggage from the boot so be quick! Once inside the terminal all went extremely smoothly and very calming. Once on the boat you have to realise it is enormous and all the time you are bumping into people all looking as lost as you are! Even seasoned cruisers found the Ventura very large and hard to find your way around. The cabin we had was an outside cabin with balcony which was very nice. In fact the whole ship was very tastefully decorated but a bit on the tired side. First of all I will tell you all the positives which far outweigh the negatives and wouldn't want to put anyone off a cruise but just point out the little things we would have found helpful to know in advance. We had set dining - there are 2 times for this 6.30 or 8.30 we chose the latter and had a table for two which turned out to be the best on both counts. If you choose the earlier sitting be prepared to rush some days as the trips can run late but if you have children the earlier sitting is probably the best time. A table to for 2 is best because if you sit with others on a table for 6 or 8 you find you have to wait until the last person has finished their course before you are served the next course. We were told some funny stories from other seasoned cruisers about waiting for elderly passengers to finish chewing their steaks whilst the others on the table waited! the food itself is very, very good - 5 course dinners with very attentive waiters. You can opt for freedom dining but that is in the other restaurants where it is buffet style help yourself - very good food the same as the restaurants. There are other restaurants on board which you have to pay a supplement for - passengers highly recommended the Beach House food if you fancy a change. Be prepared for girls to come round every day all day to try and sell the other restaurants where you pay a supplement. It can become a little irritating. We decided not to go to the restaurant for waiter service for breakfast because again you have to sit anywhere and they will fill the big tables first and we found it easier to go to the buffet Waterside restaurant. Again the choice is massive. Men do need to wear long trousers in the evening in the restaurants. There are plenty of poolside loungers but some do reserve whilst they then go for breakfast but this didn't get too silly but the staff don't prevent it happening. They issue a daily newspaper the Horizon which will be delivered to your cabin during the evening and lets you know the dress code for the following evening and any information regarding the next day's port. It also lists the entertainment for the following day so that you can decide which bar you want to go to. This is a negative for the late 8.30 diners - by the time you have finished your meal and make your way to the various bars they are full and you have to sit where you can. The entertainment was very good and there is something for everyone of all ages. We were told because it was a "Strictly" cruise there were more younger people on board than usual on the cruise and in fact there were 7 weddings on board on our cruise. The service from the waiters at the poolside and restaurants and bars was excellent. Port and shore excursions were very good and the guides were excellent. A few tips here though. The P&O rep was very "school ma'am" with the passengers and there seemed to be a conflict of timings with her and what passengers were told in the Horizon paper and she would tell you off if you were too early! The organisation of the trips left a lot to be desired at some ports like Gibraltar and Monaco passengers were left in the very hot weather queuing up at the port to get back on board the ship. This was due to the fact other ships were in dock at the same time and all passengers from all ships were ferried through the same system so it can take hours. We found the excursions very good but a tip for Rome is men as well as women have to have their knees covered so wear long shorts and women have to have their shoulders covered if you are visiting the Sistine Chapel. It was an excellent excursion but a very long day in the heat and I would advise you to have a day off from any excursions the next day and just do your own thing. If you are a person who likes to go shopping make sure you don't do all the organised excursions because you don't get time to shop. Another tip is some of the ports have sightseeing buses which are a cheap and good way to get about if you don't want the expense of the organised trips. Cadiz is a very good port for shopping and very cheap. Hang on until you have done all the trips with regard to buying from the duty free shops on board - you can find cheaper alternatives particularly perfumes at the ports. You will also find they reduce things towards the end of the cruise so look out for bargains then. With regard to formal dining - 4 on a 2 week cruise are usually held on a sea day so that you have time to prepare. We did find though that on the other nights there were 2 themed nights we did not know about - one was a 60/70's night and the other a "tropical" night. So if you want to be prepared take an Hawaiian shirt with you! Be prepared to be sociable with fellow passengers because they are the best people to advise you on things you don't know. You will not get any advice from P&O. We had free on board spend with our cruise and other passengers said to decline the "tipping" deduction they make from your spends. It is better to tip your own waiter and steward as you see fit. We appreciated that advice because you would tip them on top of what P&O deducted from your account but don't do it just to avoid tipping at all! Other seasoned passengers told us they felt the Ventura was too big with over 3,000 passengers and even they kept getting lost. They preferred other smaller P&O ships. They also said they found the food, entertainment a higher standard than other lines and the drinks were cheaper than the American run cruise liners. The prices on the drinks is on a par with pub prices at home. They add 10% extra when you are in Spanish waters because the Spanish have their own taxing system! We had a couple of ports where a tender was used and this was the ships life boats which wasn't a problem for us but some of the elderly had issues so check if you have any disabilities that you can go ashore. To summarise we had a lovely time and would definitely cruise again. I do think however that P&O could make a bit more effort to help first time cruisers with information. On board they do a daily "solo" travellers tea and I completed a questionnaire on board and after the cruise to suggest they could hold a first/second day coffee morning for first time cruisers to give them advice and answer any questions they may have. It does come across that P&O are only interested in selling another cruise to their "regulars" with the discounts they get. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
We're just back from a 4 day mini cruise on P&O Ventura from Southampton to Bruges and Guernsey and have sailed with a variety of cruise lines but this was our first with P&O. Embarkation was swift and we were on board and sat ... Read More
We're just back from a 4 day mini cruise on P&O Ventura from Southampton to Bruges and Guernsey and have sailed with a variety of cruise lines but this was our first with P&O. Embarkation was swift and we were on board and sat relaxing in a bar within an hour of arriving at Southampton. I liked our cabin which was a mid ship balcony with great storage space, a good sized balcony and a powerful bathroom shower. It's worth noting that Ventura is a very stable ship and I barely felt any movement or motion at all. We chose freedom dining and ate in the Saffron restaurant on three nights with a birthday celebration in the speciality restaurant East on our first. We ate lunch on a few of the days in the Waterside buffet where a decent selection was let down by the enclosed and claustrophobic serving area. Rather frustratingly if you wanted burgers, pizzas or fries, you needed to head out of the buffet to the one of the pools. Not great when travelling with kids. I did like the a la carte breakfast served daily in Saffron where there was a great choice of food with changing daily specials. But generally I found the food on board a little disappointing. It just wasn't fine dining and the menu choices seemed limited in the evenings. Beyond the food, the entertainment was excellent with a great range of shows and something on in every bar. My particular favourites were the Havana Lounge, a Cuban themed show lounge and the Metropolitan Bar, a crows nest type of thing at the top of the ship. Drinks prices were very reasonable and it's an added bonus that P&O is one of the few cruise lines who don't limit the alcohol you can bring on board. For a mini cruise, the ports of call were well chosen and quaint. Bruges is ten minutes by train from Zebrugge and P&O were more than helpful in providing information of how to do this under your own steam rather than trying to sell you an excursion as many of the American ships will do. Guernsey was a tender port and getting us ashore was swift and efficient with a ticket system to disembark. We spent a few pleasant hours strolling St Peter Port and enjoying the sunshine in a beer garden terrace overlooking the ship. We enjoyed the cruise but four days just isn't long enough to explore a ship the size of Ventura; by the time I'd found my cruise legs we were heading down the gangway. There didn't seem to be the wow of a Royal Caribbean but it was fun to sail British and I've high hopes for our next P&O cruise which is on Britannia for Christmas and New Year in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
We are platinum on Carnival. This is our 16th cruise. We took this cruise because we wanted to try a British Line. We had just come off a Transatlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. We stayed at wonderful small hotel in Southampton. ... Read More
We are platinum on Carnival. This is our 16th cruise. We took this cruise because we wanted to try a British Line. We had just come off a Transatlantic on the Brilliance of the Seas. We stayed at wonderful small hotel in Southampton. The Blue Keys was really great. Our experience on embarkation was swift and courteous. Waited about 40 minutes to board. Took a cab from hotel to Ship probably no mote than 10 minutes. Cabin was ready by 2 pm. The cabin was really large its the biggest balcony we ever had. Took 3 shore excursions, two in Amsterdam one on the channel islands. Since my wife has trouble walking we did bus tours. All were good. Just wish we could have gotten on the tour of Ann Franks House. It was sold out way in advance. The entertainment was really good the 4 seasons Jersey Boys group was really good. Having seen the show in New York twice we can say that those men did a really fine job. We ate most of our meals in the main dining room food was OK not great but OK. Not much selection in the buffet. That's why we like the MDR. Disembarkation was quick and went well off the ship self assist by 7:30 am. We really enjoyed meeting many people all really nice. I believe that we were the only Americans on board. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
After toying with other ships leaving Southampton which didn't have enough indoor space for cool climates, our last two cruises have been on sensible P&O ships with indoor pools with space for dining around them (our mistake last ... Read More
After toying with other ships leaving Southampton which didn't have enough indoor space for cool climates, our last two cruises have been on sensible P&O ships with indoor pools with space for dining around them (our mistake last year was to choose the massive Indy OTS for a short trip to Norway....this ship depends on Caribbean weather to make use of the splendid outdoor pools area, but it was virtually empty outside for the 8 days, and utterly crowded inside). Ventura is an old favourite of ours, and we came upon an absolute last minute booking, giving us a week to prepare...and an upgrade from inside to an obstructed outside. This cabin, E410, is one of the most obstructed on the ship, having the machinery for the life raft covering most of the window- but there was a view, and above all, there was daylight! The cabin was lovely- we've only found this beautiful welcome of a tea tray, a flower and a silver dish of sweets on P&O, and, yes, it does add to the experience! Sometimes we sail in a more luxurious cabin on other lines, and enjoy perks provided, but really we know we pay for them; the tea tray/sweeties is for all levels of cabins, along with the chocolate at the turn down service! For once, there were no new ports for us on this cruise; in fact, we did an almost similar cruise in November on Aurora, mainly hoping for a little warm weather. In Lisbon we took the tour to Estoril, having known many who holidayed there, and looking out for the railway station to take us there another time; bad weather meant missing Cadiz, which is a favourite with everyone, but we made up for that with a full day in Gibraltar, a most fascinating port....we used the local buses, which took us to the cable car for 75 pence, senior fare. Malaga is glorious, and Cartagena is another favourite; Casablanca less so, but at least you can take the shuttle bus to the big square and wander around - I found "Sorry, no money!" n helpful, and hoped that "Pas d'argent!" was the right French....it seemed to work, and I wasn't hassled. We love Madeira, and this time took a tour because we've not been into the island itself, only along the coast and into Funchal, before. A delightful trip. The ship feeling was, as ever, relaxed and friendly; super staff; excellent speakers; the Headliners tremendously well-rehearsed and polished. A lovely, happy, laid-back and interesting fortnight; next time on her will be the full 28 days to the Caribbean and back, in January. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
Never used P&O Cruises before apart from their ferries. We like Thomson Cruises and were looking for something that would be along those lines or better than. P & O Ventura did not dissapoint on our first cruise with her . ... Read More
Never used P&O Cruises before apart from their ferries. We like Thomson Cruises and were looking for something that would be along those lines or better than. P & O Ventura did not dissapoint on our first cruise with her . We had booked an inside cabin deck A and was upgraded to a obstructed viewbon E Deck and was impressed by the space,clean,modern room with a vey comfy double bed and very quiet with no motion when at sea . The room fridge came with two bottles of water free and our cabin steward Prakash was great in re-supplying our teas,coffee and biscuits everyday and he always had time to make sure we were ok and ask how our day had been . The bathroom was very modern and everything worked , nothing faulty and came with toiletries that seemed decent. Although the ship was full we never felt over crowded and seemed plenty of staff to go around . We never had to wait long apart from our one night in the Bay tree Restaraunt, which to us was painfully slow service . We were first in the queue and and shown to our table ,despite this we and the table next to us had to wait 25 minutes for a menu our own waiter even managed to serve starters to some of his other tables before he even came back to us and it got no better. We used the Beach House & Waterside self service for the rest of our cruise and the food was hot ,tasty and well presented a lot of dishes served in individual pots and dishes , to be honest we looked forward to eating in these places ,so did not use any of the pay to eat restaraunts. We never had problems finding a table to eat our meals at and the views from up there through the large windows were great. Going for a drink the Ventura gave us eleven bars and a show bar to choose from and the service was fast and friendly and the staff were not stuffy as we had read on other forums. Just our opinion but unlike Thomson who seem to encourage staff to stop and chat , P& O want customers to be served asap ,so they move to the next waiting customer rather than stop and chat. All the bar staff we spoke to were friendly and would spend the odd moment chatting but then would be off serving or off doing other bar duties. We found them to be ok. The Headliners show team put on two very good shows and had the advantage of a high tech theatre and lighting plus sound system compared to Thomson ships we had used . This is one of the places where Thomson win hands down as their show teams put on two shows as well but at least six nights per week , the crew even do a show in the theatre. Having said that we were happy with the shows we saw with P&O . The first day on Ventura , we were no sooner on board and were pounced on with the big sell .. Photo's ,Spa's and drinks packages but to be fair we said no thanks and never was bothered again . Keeping tabs on your spending was easy with the interactive TV giving you an up to date balance and the TV gave a lot more ,ships web cam , captains log and map plus loads of TV programs some pay per view but loads are free. The ship on our week had a good mixture of passenger ages and the ones we met were friendly and considerate to their fellow passengers and used the hand gels at meal times. The ship was very stable even in bad weather ,you had to look out of a window at times to remind you that the ship was moving ,the chances of being sea sick should you suffer from it must be very remote . The ship has a promenade deck with plenty of chairs should you wish a stroll or sit and watch the world go by or go up to the sun deck should you wish to lay on a lounger . Given the chance we will be back on the Ventura it's a good family /couples and singles ship and everyone seems to have a good time with plenty to do on board . I hope we sail on her again and soon . Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
Me and my sister's first time cruising, we were accompanied by my dad and step mum who had cruised before. My dad had chosen to drive down and use CPS parking which went smoothly, picking up the car at the end of the cruise was no ... Read More
Me and my sister's first time cruising, we were accompanied by my dad and step mum who had cruised before. My dad had chosen to drive down and use CPS parking which went smoothly, picking up the car at the end of the cruise was no trouble and it only took him 10 mins. We went to the Mayflower terminal to board Ventura. We arrived at 2pm which I'd say is the worst time to arrive. They had seating but it was all taken up at that time. We waited two hours in total before checking in and boarding which was seamless. First impressions of Ventura were excellent; finding our cabin was no trouble, they have ship plans and deck levels near the lifts to view for quick reference. I loved our cabin (C637) balcony cabin on Deck 10, it had loads of space for me and my sister, and the bathroom was a reasonable size although it rather reminded me of an airplane toilet but slightly larger. Our cabin just had the shower. Service onboard was excellent; in the buffet they always cleared the tables away quickly; in fact they will often take your tray away if you want to just have your plate on the table. In the main dining rooms the waiters were really good and professional despite them being busy sometimes. We always found the service a bit slower in the dining rooms though so if we needed to eat quickly we chose the buffet. We tried the Glass house, East and Beach house restaurants and service was excellent. Also all the staff including the cleaners always seemed to greet you with a smile. Our cabin steward Rajesh was really nice and our cabin always looked spic and span. I like their turn down and make up service too. On the whole, I enjoyed the excursions although we went on one tour which was advertised to give us some free time to wander around but the lady only gave us half an hour free which by that time we needed a drink and a snack which took nearly half an hour so it wasn't 'free time' in my opinion. Loved the entertainment on board, the headliners company really blew me away with their talents on the stage. Getting into the theatre early is a must on those nights they perform! There were quizzes daily, we took part in one or two. We watched a film in the arena but screen quality was bad as they had clearly just had the video image stretched out onto a bigger screen. Watching a film in the Havana club was slightly better as they used a smaller screen. There were some free films to view on the cabin tv which we took advantage of sometimes. If you want to watch your own without paying for the chargeable ones I recommend a portable dvd player or tablet with preloaded films. We didn't go to one port which happened to be the last one; Guernsey as we needed to go via tender and the water was too choppy by the pontoon. We had extra entertainment laid on instead which included an extra film to watch. Food - couldn't fault it and the same standard whether in the buffet or dining rooms. Can't understand why we get free pizzas but not free ice cream though. Disembarkation was smooth - we chose to disembark ourselves as we wanted to leave early with having a 5 hour trip home and apart from waiting for lifts carrying our own luggage we were off the ship in twenty minutes. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
We really enjoy these short breaks and we look forward to spending a few days on board, as we live not far from Southampton it makes it easy for us to get to and from the port. The embarkation time we were given was 12.30 and we got to the ... Read More
We really enjoy these short breaks and we look forward to spending a few days on board, as we live not far from Southampton it makes it easy for us to get to and from the port. The embarkation time we were given was 12.30 and we got to the port by 11 - we waited for our letter to be called and it was all very easy, we were on board and eating in the self service retaurant by 12.45, the food was very good and we were pleased that there were plenty of wine waiters so we didn't have to wait long to have a glass of wine. As usual it was very busy but we managed to get a table by the window and queued up for our lunch, the food was very good with lots of choice and the view from the top of the ship over Southampton water was great. We we booked this as a guarantee cabin and only found out a few days beforehand that we were going to be on Riveria Deck which was deck 14. We had booked a balcony cabin and were slightly disappointed that we weren't lower down the ship where the balconies are bigger. However the cabin was very comfortable although we did have 6 bottles of water left for us with a note to say we could buy the pack if we wanted to. We put this under the small table but it was in the way. Our cabin steward didn't come and introduce himself and we only saw him once when he let himself into our cabin and then told us we should have put the "do not disturb sign" out. We were supposed to find out our dining arrangements once on board and when this has happened before there is usually a card left on the desk for us. This time there was nothing and we were worried as if we were eating at 6.30 we would need to get ready in a hurry. We phoned down to reception who said we would need to contact the dining manager, we tried ringing but the phone was constantly engaged or just kept ringing. We ended up going down and were told that we were able to eat at any time so we took it we had been allocated Freedom Dining. It took quite a bit of time to get this sorted which is annoying when you are only on a short trip as every hour is precious. Freedom dining suits us best so we were pleased with this, but saying that we did find we had to wait over an hour to get a table as P&O seem to have increased the amount of freedom diners. We had a drink in the Metropolis Bar, the Raspberry Brulee which is my favourite cocktail. We did notice that on this cruise there were a lot of hen parties which were very loud and some of them were very drunk. This was particularly disappointing in the restaurant, the noise levels and general rowdiness spoilt a lovely meal and as it was Gala Night it would have been nice to keep the feeling of elegance going but unfortunately women were being vulgar and some were rude to the staff. The entertainment for the first night was the ships company, Headliners, doing a review of songs from a variety of stage shows. We really enjoyed it and were very impressed with the quality of the singing. The second night was a comedian that we didn't find very funny and particularly didn't like the way he included the audience as it makes us feel uncomfortable, especially when questions that need to be answered in front of the whole audience. When we returned to our cabin on the first night we went to fill out our breakfast card so we could have some tea and some fruit juices in the morning with a fruit and cold meat platter. The cabin steward had removed our folder so we couldn't do this. I did phone room service and they brought some cards up for us but by this time it was 1.00 am and we had to wait for the cards to be delivered. I don't know why our steward removed the folder, it also meant that the postcard of the ship had gone and we like to collect these on the ships we have been on. We were woken the following morning to our tea and fruit and we enjoyed this in bed before getting up and going for a walk around the ship, our balcony had a view over the port of Zebrugge which was very industrial but interesting to watch all the work going on. We then went up to the self service breakfast where we had some coffee and a small bite to eat. P&O provide a free shuttle service to the local town where you can get the train into Bruges but as we had done this before so we opted to have a walk round the town. We went to the Storm Centre on the pier which on the website sounded interesting but in reality was not that good although we did spend a couple of hours walking around, it was a shame that there wasn't much in English so it was difficult to understand all the things they had on display. The weather wasn't that good so we only walked round for a couple of hours before heading back to the ship. The shuttle bus was waiting for us and we were back on board in time for lunch. The two days went very quickly and we did enjoy ourselves, the food is very good and we had a lovely evening in the Glass House where we tried a few of the wines. We also enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails both evenings as well as the chance to look round at the beautiful works of art they had in the gallery. Our cabin was clean and very comfortable, the towels were changed each time we seemed to leave the cabin. We also appreciated having a fridge and a kettle with tea and coffee available in the cabin. The choice of entertainment and different bars in the ship are able to accommodate everyone without making you feel you are in a large ship. We tried all the bars apart from the pub, although we did go to the casino which was busy and seemed a bit too complicated for us, we are not really big gamblers and might have bet a few pounds but the tables had minimum stakes, as did the slot machines. You had to use your cruise card and it was a minimum of £10 which put us off. Disembarkation was the usual hectic struggle to find somewhere to have breakfast, you have to be out of your cabin by 8.00 am and then wait to be called for disembarkation. If you want your luggage taken off by the porters you need to put your cases outside your cabin the night before but we only had small cases so decided to take them off ourselves. We left our cabin and ended up sitting outside by the pool as the restaurants were too busy. We had a relaxing time drinking coffee and doing a bit of people watching - something cruises are really good for. We weren't in a rush as we were getting picked up about 10.30 so didn't mind waiting around and once the restaurant started to thin out we got something to eat. Despite all the hiccups we still enjoyed this cruise, so much so that we are now booked for another short cruise in June on P@O's Aurora which is a new ship for us. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
After a problem with my parents having to cancel britannia maiden voyage they had a huge deposit outstanding so the 4 of us ended up on Ventura if I am honest not our first choice !!! But do not be put off please ! A relaxed ship with a ... Read More
After a problem with my parents having to cancel britannia maiden voyage they had a huge deposit outstanding so the 4 of us ended up on Ventura if I am honest not our first choice !!! But do not be put off please ! A relaxed ship with a friendly crew and fab entertainment (do not miss the 2 boys from headliners doing solo set amazing ) But the most fantastic revelation was the food WOW WOW as a proper foodie we have eaten in some great restaurant s I cannot believe the quality and presentation of the food in the saffron restaurant !!!! Along with the wine package it was like eating in a 5/star hotel every night ☺ so if you want to be wowed go on ventura ..... The young lady who runs the waiters is fab wonderful unexpected cruise Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
Friday March 13th Left house at 5am and had good ride to airport. Checked in right away in seperate queue and security much quicker than usual. Flight premium economy. Seats roomy but a bit hard after a while. Free drinks and nice food ... Read More
Friday March 13th Left house at 5am and had good ride to airport. Checked in right away in seperate queue and security much quicker than usual. Flight premium economy. Seats roomy but a bit hard after a while. Free drinks and nice food from James Martin. Flight delayed a little due to medical emergency on incoming flight. At Barbados taken straight onto third coach which set off within seconds. At port checkin very quick as there were not many of us. No special checkin for suite passengers. Room had bottle of champagne and chocs but had to ask steward for bottle closer, so that we could drink half the champagne and save the rest.He did not know what I meant but later the butler brought one. They seem to share duties to some extent. Saturday March 14th Barbados Woke up panicking thinking it was 8am but had misread watch and it was only 7am. Breakfast in Whites. Very nice but staff a bit over-attentive. Took taxi to Bridgetown, 2 dollars per person each way. Lunch in dining room, nice but limited. Weather warm and partly overcast. Saw showat night but thought that it was poor. Choreography not very imaginative Cast good singers and dancers though but very repetitive. Theatre half empty. Sunday March 15th St Lucia. We had been here before so did not go on a trip. Breakfast in the White Room and mid-morning went ashore to find cheap wi-fi. Found a bar where if you spent 5dollars you got allday fast internet. Spent $5 on a Guiness which is 7.3% alcohol here and brewed locally. Tonight is black tie and food includes lobster. Monday March 16th St Kitts and Nevis. Boat trip to Nevis. Learnt native of Nevis is a Nevitian. We already knew that a native of St Kitts is a Kittician. Tuesday March 17th Antigua. No trip but went to shops and found internet bar. Wednesday March 18th At sea. Weather excellent and sea smooth with a little swell. Breakfast outside at White Room. Thursday March 19th Breakfast inside as White Room patio was soaking wet. Took back library book. Overheard woman complaining that if you reserve a sun lounger and go to lunch people move your stuff! She seemed quite upset! Cruise critic meeting at 10.30. About fifteen people there and had a good chat. Lunch in room. Talk on unsolved murders. Not bad Talk and forum about iPad use. Learnt how to use iMovie, but the forum was hijacked by people wanted to know how to connect their phones. Had tiramisu at dinner which was much nicer than the one at the White Room. Monday March 23rd Azores. Trip to pineapple factory and crater lakes. Very sunny and warm. Not feeling too good with sore throat and cough. Internet on board. Obviously slow but not too bad. I could download the Times and my mail in about three minutes at 7am, when it seemed to be quicker. We had bought the 100 minutes plan with 20 extra minutes for£35. By today we have 8 minutes left although they do a deal for extra minutes - 60 minutes for £15 or 30 minutes for £10.50. Paid restaurants The White Room. As suite customers we got breakfast here daily and it is well worth it if a little over-attentive. We also ate here one night and was not so impressed. I had a tiramisu which was not as good as the one that I later had in the main restaurant. The Glass Room. Excellent food although we only had the little plates and a shared sundae. East Seems to get heavily booked so had to book a couple of days ahead. The food was nice but by then I had developed a cough and cold so could only manage a tiny amount. My wife enjoyed it though and we could have had an intended bonus as they forgot to charge us for a bottle of champagne, but we pointed it out to them and they added it on with a brief thanks. Other passengers Despite dire warnings on this forum we found everyone we met to be very nice. Obviously there is the sun lounger issue and it would be easy for me to criticise but then we had a huge balcony to ourselves and did not need to compete for space. Entertainment Obviously very subjective. The ship's entertainers seem talented and enthusiastic but I thought that most of the dance routines lacked imagination and need more set chenges. When we left the Azores Tom O'Connor joined the ship and his act had the theatre packed to the gunwales (note the nautical reference!). Was this because his performance was brilliant or were we just desperate for a good act? We saw tthee films on board. The first time that we looked in on a film showing in the Havana Club it was almost finished and what was obviously a widescreen film was showing in 3:4 aspect so the whole picture was squashed. The first film that we actually saw was in the Tamarind Club and we all sat waiting for it to start but a waitress said that nobody knew how to stop the backgound music in the club playing and start the film. After over fifteen minutes they managed to get assistance. We then saw the film "Belle" in the Arena Theatre. As befits a full-time theatre it has by far the biggest screen. I could not make out the model of the projector, other than it was a Sanyo but i would say, and I do the projection for a local video society, that the picture quality was about VHS standard although luckily the sound was good. There was very little fine detail and dark areas exhibited considerably blocking. The last film that we saw was "Interstellar" which I had been looking forward to. Again the picture quality was poor and after about half an hour the picture started moving upwards until it had disppeared off the top of the screen. After what seemed like a long wait a "technical" person could be seen moving around and the picture descended again. I am assuming that they had not been watching the film as they then rewound it fifteen minutes so we had to watch part of the film twice! Crossing the Atlantic We had crossed the Bay of Biscay before in terrible weather so knew what to expect but no, the weather was sunny and the sea was calm. People were swimming in the pool the day before we arrived at Southampton and on arrival day there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Coach transfer. Full marks to P&O for providing these although they are not well publicised. On the coach to Manchester, which took about five and a half hours for the journey, including a 45 minute stop some passengers had been given totally unrealistic timings for onward flights. Motorway journeys always take way longer than you expect. We had parked at Manchester Airport short stay car park and getting from where the bus left us at the drop-off point to the car park took almost an hour. Would I go with P&O again? Probably not. Although the ship was fine and the beer was cheap I found the entertainment boring and the extras for suite passengers very poor. Next January we are booked on the Norwegian Getaway and I hope to find that a bit more exciting. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
We have travelled several times with P and O and have always enjoyed it . The Ventura is a large ship with lots of separate areas . Our cabin was on C deck which has extra large balconies . This is really useful in the Caribbean heat as ... Read More
We have travelled several times with P and O and have always enjoyed it . The Ventura is a large ship with lots of separate areas . Our cabin was on C deck which has extra large balconies . This is really useful in the Caribbean heat as it gives an area of shade and it's possible to stretch out comfortably . All the staff on P and O work tirelessly and are very polite and welcoming . Each cabin has normal plug settings so there is no need to take any adapters . A good tip however is to take an electrical strip if you have lots of things that need charging . There are white products , shampoo and shower gel available in the cabin in small bottles so these can add to your supplies . We travel in premium seats on long journeys due to medical problems and the extra that this costs is well worth it especially as you get a 28 kg luggage allowance. The extra on board credit covered most of our costs this year and this was excellent as you don't want an extra large bill after a holiday . P and O has always been one of our favourite cruise lines but from a personal opinion we were a bit dissapointed with a few aspects . The time to put suitcases out on the last evening at 11pm is very early especially if you are on the late dinner sitting . This would be much better if it was extended to 1.00am . We were very compliant with trying to keep our hand luggage on the return journey to the recommended 5 kegs but then watched in amazement as other passengers had two to three large bags and even largish suitcases that were way over the allowance . . If you don't need to keep to the limit then this should be very clear or somone should monitor it . Meals in the main dining room were not delivered with silver service but came plated up and the portions . were quite large . This can be too much at times and seems wasteful . P And O also seems to be stuck in using their tried and tested format . This might be fine for first time cruisers or those who don't like change but we were dissapointed that you could predict the day time and evening entertainment . We can't understand why this always has to be the same , the same type of talks, shows , comedians etc . No one offering an entertainment service on shore would get away with reproducing the same material and artists year on year especially when there is such a variety to choose from . P and O need to just make sure that there are a few new aspects to each cruise to keep everyone's interest or like us we will be tempted to look at other cruise lines so that we do get a different experience . This would be shame as everything else is very good Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
We have returned from the Christmas cruise and we both feel rather disappointed with this trip compared to last year's trip. Our plane was delayed at Gatwick due to a problem with the captain's pass and when we arrived at the ... Read More
We have returned from the Christmas cruise and we both feel rather disappointed with this trip compared to last year's trip. Our plane was delayed at Gatwick due to a problem with the captain's pass and when we arrived at the ship it took approximately 2 hours before we got our passes. We then had a further queue for another 30 minutes to get through xray and onto the ship. How much longer will it take to board Britannia next Christmas as its capacity is larger. We felt there had been cut backs especially with the entertainment which was repetitive and the quality of acts were poor. We very much enjoyed the evening pantomime last year as it was the best and funniest show we saw and we were looking forward to this year's performance but it was only performed during an afternoon. The showing was at 3.00 pm on a sea day and most people were up on deck and did not want to get ready to go down to the theatre and miss the afternoon sun. Last year it was at 20.30 and the theatre was packed with many children also attending. Apparently this year we were told that the theatre was not as full and the performance not as good. We watched many shows in Havana and on some occasions people got up and walked out before the act had finished. The Robbie Williams show was the best entertainment of the whole cruise. The worst part of the cruise was the fact that in Havana it was extremely cold and we asked at reception if the temperature could be changed and was told that nothing could be done. The entertainment team last year which was run by Benny was extremely good especially on the sailaways as they performed a dance routine on stage and everyone joined in which made a great atmosphere. This year the entertainment team hardly did any sailaways and for the majority of time there was a group performing which did not give us the same atmosphere. We were very pleased with our cabin and steward and any requests were met immediately. The cabin was kept spotless and our steward was friendly and polite. Again this year the food was of good quality but portions varied in size. Some of the waiters appeared extremely miserable but others were very friendly and helpful. The amount of time wasted queuing for Christmas and New Year dining was horrendous, some people waited up to 4 hours. We queued for 2 hours, surely there is a better system P&O could use. We are booked for this year's Christmas cruise on the Britannia and we are very much looking forward to seeing how this year's cruise compares to the one we have just returned from. We are really hoping that the entertainment is of far better quality and we will write a review accordingly. Yes we did overall enjoy the cruise but not as much as last year. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Mixed feelings regarding our Christmas cruise to the Caribbean. The flight form Gatwick, chartered to Thompson was refreshingly pleasant as we booked in premiere and were treated very well indeed with complimentary drinks and very ... Read More
Mixed feelings regarding our Christmas cruise to the Caribbean. The flight form Gatwick, chartered to Thompson was refreshingly pleasant as we booked in premiere and were treated very well indeed with complimentary drinks and very comfortable seating, the interactive entertainment menu again very good. Arriving in Barbados again was a nice surprise not having to go through airport customs but being "ordered" on to a very old and tired small coach. Reaching the dock was not too bad but the check in procedure was awful we were herded like cattle in a pen without facility for refreshment for the best part of 45 minutes in very hot and humid conditions without any explanation as to how long this procedure would take "More information from P&O" would have been nice. The cabin was pleasant and clean and the cabin steward was friendly and informative. We opted for freedom dining which was a good choice as the 'sail away' party was just another excuse to join a long queue for average food. Breakfast is normally overcrowded and our party of 6 struggled to get a table most mornings having to circumnavigate both venues before being able to breakfast as a family. The breakfast & dinner on the whole was excellent especially our visit to the White Room. Having a "Costa" in the atrium was a pleasant surprise and we used this facility most afternoons but the service on 10 times out of 13 was nothing short of disgusting sometimes waiting up to 25 minutes for someone to take our order when at most there were two or three tables awaiting service. We used the Spa facilities once (on a special offer) and were induced to buying overpriced products whilst we were in a totally relaxed and near sleep condition, almost ready to agree to anything. (We were told that the therapists are trained to hard sell to their clients after the massage which I must say was excellent) I got off light after buying some Gell and oil for £70 but my wife ended up being sold creams for £195 this is on top of the treatment price - a bit over the top, a 10% gratuity was also added, this was not too bad as the treatment was on special offer. The entertainment was every enjoyable and refreshing and the appearance of Roy Walker was a nice bonus. These entertainers work very hard and the production team are to be applauded. Trying to get a Sun lounger when we had our "at sea" days proved to be something of a challenge, so we did not bother as the only areas that we could sit were very loud with lots of children running around. Yes we did try the adult area and again the only place to sit was the bench style seating next to the swimming pool. the hot tubs were very good though one always seemed to be cordoned off. Overall the Islands we visited were as expected with gorgeous beaches but St. Vincent was a little bit of a let down. Most items on board if not on special offer were a bit pricy but I suppose P&O have a policy of trying to extract every last pound from their passengers. It would be nice to know how exactly the amount added for gratuities was divided, as the staff manning the Ice cream machine & Pizza ovens on the whole thought they were doing you a great favour by serving you. Attitude of staff on Sun decks really could have been a lot better, as this was not a cheap cruise. I have to say that I had different expectations and the overall experience is not one I would wish to repeat.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We have just returned from our first P & O Ventura cruise after being told by numerous friend that we had to try it! On the whole we enjoyed the experience , from embarkation which is surprisingly run like clockwork to leaving your ... Read More
We have just returned from our first P & O Ventura cruise after being told by numerous friend that we had to try it! On the whole we enjoyed the experience , from embarkation which is surprisingly run like clockwork to leaving your bags at check in at the airport then the next time you see them is in your room - excellent . We had a deluxe cabin with balcony which is a good size , comfy bed , good shower , really nice cabin steward who couldn,t do enough for us . Against this , the TV with constant sky news as the only decent channel will eventually drive you mad , sports channel for premiership football was good , and thats about it for TV. Although the cruise price seemed good value , its only good value if you resist all the other ways P & O have of trying to part you from your money > Wi Fi at £15 - £20 per hour is ridiculous in this day and age , trips , gym sessions , massage , photos of you at every opportunity , getting on , getting off , dining , drinking , you name it , a camera was there . We enjoyed the food tremendously , the service was good , sometimes too good , plate removed as soon as my knife & fork touched the plate ! Buffet food equally as good just a shame you have to try and hunt down a table as it was so busy. Entertainment - first class , some excellent shows ! The main thing that lets this ship down is the fact that P & O are too relaxed about the dress code , the formal nights most people do make an effort, but the rest of the time ,  baseball caps worn in the restaurant, men in sleeveless shirts and singlet type vests in the buffet , women walking through the buffet restaurant in their swimming costumes , not a pretty sight ! I think that due to the cheap starter price of the cruise this holiday is replacing the Benidorm/Torremelinos all inclusive holiday and hence the drop in standards - a real pity . P & O need to get their act together , even if it means raising the price and cutting down on the numbers ! My opinion for what its worth ! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We booked for our first Caribbean Cruise over a year before the sail date and we were so looking forward to it. One of the things we liked was that we booked our cases in at the airport and they were delivered to our cabin, one of the ... Read More
We booked for our first Caribbean Cruise over a year before the sail date and we were so looking forward to it. One of the things we liked was that we booked our cases in at the airport and they were delivered to our cabin, one of the things we found out that we didn't like was the length of time it takes to book everyone on board. We were in a hot and sweaty shed on the quayside in a long line and it took a good couple hours. The ship met up with our expectations, great food, lovely staff who were very friendly and tendered to our every need. The entertainment in the evenings was outstanding (Except for the Ventriloquist who was poor) in every venue. There was bars you could just sit and relax and enjoy a drink and there was bars where you could dance the night away something for everyone. But As with every holiday there are parts that doesn't come up to scratch and the Ventura is no exception. Firstly we felt like we were in a 2 Star all inclusive holiday in Spain as the sun beds were reserved very early in the morning with towels left on the beds while the holiday makers were nowhere to be seen, we thought it would be more classy than that. In fact we were told that people were reserving beds as early as 5:30 in the morning in order to get the prime spots. P&O policy states that no sunbed reservations are to be made but we witnessed two incidents of 'Bed Rage' Secondly, we assumed (wrongly) that the evening dress code would be smart casual mixed with a number of Black Tie events. What we found was that quite a number of people did not conform to the dress code and even to the point of wearing football shirts with shorts which tainted the experience. Overall, the cruise was fantastic and what we experienced would not put us off booking another.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We returned in the early hours of this morning from Ventura's repositioning cruise to the Caribbean, having joined the ship at Malaga. (We should have arrived home 24 hours previously, but a medical emergency saw our plane diverted to ... Read More
We returned in the early hours of this morning from Ventura's repositioning cruise to the Caribbean, having joined the ship at Malaga. (We should have arrived home 24 hours previously, but a medical emergency saw our plane diverted to the Azores!} Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, but the cruise itself would have been interesting for any sociologist. Generally, the P and O experience is "safe." The food is good without being hugely imaginative and the standard of service and the quality of cabins is also pretty good. However, for those who have cruised before, be it with P and O or other lines, there is a certain, intangible feeling that, due to today's very competitive market, some corners have been cut and the overall experience is not what it once was. A number of "serial" cruisers were heard to voice the above comment, and I think I would agree with them. e.g. Why bother to kit up for a formal night if the dining experience is absolutely the same as any other night? Why not some theme or just something to make it a little special? Also, silly little mistakes such as, only one film per day during the six days crossing the Atlantic, but two per day(and better films) whilst in the West Indies, when most passengers were not aboard! Also, the entertainment was variable; perhaps inevitable when trying to cater for all tastes. However, the most noticeable aspect, and much commented upon by various people we met when "freedom" dining, was the clientele: or should I say the pretty sharply drawn social differences in the clientele. To be blunt, the very competitive prices of cruising these days seems to be attracting people who might once have felt more at home at Butlin's , with the ship tending to divide between those who enjoyed this aspect and tended to mainly frequent the Lido Deck and self service restaurants and the others who avoided such areas as much as possible. P and O have something of a problem facing them because of this clientele shift. First although the rumour mill was rife, it seems safe to say that a small group were ejected from the ship at St Maarten for a) Violence and b) attempted shoplifting; something I had not encountered before on a cruise. Second, having looked around the upper decks early in the cruise, the sight of ranked masses of sun beds, many less than 12 inches apart made me very glad we had a balcony. Again we were to hear that some people were placing towels on sunbeds early in the morning and attempting to keep them even when missing for hours and indeed, trying to reserve more than one so that they could move from sun to shade as they required. There were reports of this causing heated exchanges and if true, it is something that P and O must police and get to grips with. Third, far from being an interesting meeting of various people, all too often, the quality of conversation when breakfasting or dining, was, in my opinion, not very stimulating. "Freedom" dining does not help here, because people are always at the "getting to know you" stage and hence conversation becomes very repetitive. So, it was OK, but the prices seem to be encouraging a change in the character of cruising and the result is something that begins NOT to look like an elegant holiday experience. The problem for P and O is that we all like to pay less, but if competitive prices change the clientele, then the character of cruising will change and those who once enjoyed it might well move to other lines that charge more (e.g. Cunard and Celebrity)and the cheaper cruises will indeed become floating holiday camps. Would the company be happy with this image as long as they are making money? I have returned home feeling a little sorry for the ship and its crew. The former is perfectly satisfactory and the latter hard working, pleasant and obliging and neither they, nor to a certain extent P and O, are responsible for the type of custom they have to cater for, but both my wife and I might well think about cruising less often but paying higher prices in order to (hopefully) experience the atmosphere that we think cruising should exude.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and ... Read More
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and temperatures never really dropped below 70 deg F. Saw some fabulous sights from our outside balcony including night time lightning at sea, a moody volcanic island and some fantastic port destinations. Food on board was good on the whole in the standard restaurants with plenty of choice beyond the staples. The trips we booked were OK - from the wonderful mountain views of Montenegro to the olive groves of Italy - though they all began to get a little samey. Judging from the comments we have heard from others, the trip to avoid was the extremely long drive into Rome from the nearest port town. In retrospect I wish that we had researched the trips a little more, and checked out some of these reviews, before we, errrm, took the plunge as it were and booked every single available trip! The "rest" days, which were days at sea, while enjoyable in themselves, we not sufficiently restful between port trips to recover properly, so I would advise to go it alone more often on the port visits rather than take group trips all of the time. The evening shows on board, while of a high quality, were really not my cup of proverbial tea. The shows were spectacular, while being mimed, visually stunning while seeing "tap dancing" without taps, so again entirely mimed to such an extent that you kept wandering what it was you were actually being entertained by. Another slight point of contention with P&O was the penny pinching and up selling you come across on board, all of the time. An example of the former being when we were sitting down, as a group of six, just before the show and the canapes came round.... but we were ignored because we did not buy any drinks! Given that we were a relatively large group paying thousands of pounds between us, we felt second class citizens at that moment! And an example of of upselling is the constant "sales" on board of jewelry, clothing etc in the shops, all at special discounts, though you can easily buy the same things onshore at even cheaper prices (in Euros) that the ship's sale prices (in pounds). Having said all that, would we do it again? Probably, but with more pre cruise research.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Have cruised with P&O once before (Oceana) and Ventura is certainly a more modern ship but, considering the size of the ship, the facilities are not much better. The library is very poor, shops not great, and standard of food not as ... Read More
Have cruised with P&O once before (Oceana) and Ventura is certainly a more modern ship but, considering the size of the ship, the facilities are not much better. The library is very poor, shops not great, and standard of food not as good as we remembered. Like many people, I object to paying extra to eat in a "speciality" restaurant; all the food should be of an equal standard. I got tired of seeing the same salad options coming out again and again at the buffet. Waiter service was good in the restaurant but poor in the buffet and patchy in the bars (where the price of drinks has shot up since our last cruise) - I saw two serious health and safety incidents where they were slow to react and did nothing to warn passengers of potential hazards. The theatre is not able to accommodate even half the number of passengers on board, and the only way to guarantee a seat is to get there at least thirty minutes early, which usually means missing something else. Also, the sound level was way too high, with the bass reverberating through your seat. In general, the on-board activities seemed to be less plentiful than on our previous cruise, although the Entertainment team (under-strength because of illness) worked very hard, especially Chris, and most of the performers were good - no celebrity speakers this time. I've seen lots of comments about P&O staff failing to enforce the rules about not reserving seats and sunbeds, so this has clearly been a problem for a long time and it still is a problem. On the plus side, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, although the contents of the TV channels are absolutely dire - you even have to pay extra for films. Nor do they have the radio requests show that they had on Oceana. The ports of call were fine but the excursions are still grossly overpriced. We would go on Ventura again but stay clear of school holidays. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
Cruised on Ventura from Genoa stopping at Livorno, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice then back again via Kotor, Corfu, Civitavecchia and Ajaccio (Corsica). An excellent itinerary which enabled us to visit a few “must-haves” and re-visit a few ... Read More
Cruised on Ventura from Genoa stopping at Livorno, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice then back again via Kotor, Corfu, Civitavecchia and Ajaccio (Corsica). An excellent itinerary which enabled us to visit a few “must-haves” and re-visit a few others as well as some we probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. First of all, Ventura is a large ship and it takes the best part of 2 weeks to find your way around. Our cabin was an inside on deck 14 and was comfortable and not at all claustrophobic. We had wondered about this having had a balcony in the past but, considering how little use we had actually made of one the extra cost seemed pointless and, in fact, proved the case. The only downside in the cabin was just one chair. Plenty of hanging space beside the bathroom with a cupboard and a safe there as well. Bathroom was perfectly adequate, similar size to other ships we have been on. The cabin has a TV with a useless selection of channels, a kettle and tea/coffee, a hair dryer and a fridge. Dining is in one of three formal dining rooms at either fixed times or, in two of the restaurants, what they call freedom dining where you turn up and are allocated a table. There are two speciality restaurants, Marco Pierre White and East, and there is a supplement to eat in them. On the 15th deck aft are two buffet-style restaurants where you elbow your way around selecting food then walk miles to find a table somewhere. Coffee and water are available from machines (mostly not working) and at breakfast only they also provide fruit juice. We generally chose to eat our three meals in one of the restaurants where you were given a table and waiters brought everything to you. Can’t understand why anyone endures the buffet bun fight! There is also a pizza stall beside one of the pools and a Costa coffee shop, probably the only way to get a decent coffee on board! There are four pools for cruisers plus a small one on the foc’sle which seemed to be crew only. Loads of loungers, packed in like sardines so you could always find somewhere to rest. There is a well equipped gym forward on the 16th deck and, beside it, a Spa offering treatments for trivial amounts like £75 a pop. Needless to say we didn’t partake! At the rear of the ship is a children’s area with what looked through the windows like a soft-play area and there is a small poll adjacent. Unfortunately they permit smoking there so it may not be an automatic choice for small children. Above this there are nets for golf practice and there may be other activities there but we didn’t explore. It may only have been this particular cruise but, for some reason which was never explained, the room service offering of bottles of spirits was not available so bring your own as P&O seem quite happy for you to bring it aboard. I suppose they would draw the line if you arrived with huge quantities of booze but if you like a drink in your cabin it seems you are best to take your own. On a 14 day cruise they time it so there are four “black tie” nights and most people seemed to have either a DJ or suit and tie. They seem quite particular about it so if you go without you will probably have to eat in the buffet those nights (unless you buy or hire on board that is - they seem to have availability). Just a few brief details of the destinations as most will have been there or can find better details elsewhere. P&O are good at laying on shuttles at those ports where you need one so unless you are on an organised tour you can get transport into the towns from the dockside. Royal Caribbean were particularly poor in this respect. Whether or not you paid for these shuttles depended on the type of booking you had so, in other words, the late availability cheapos probably have to pay. Livorno is the stop for Florence and Pisa, Naples for Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento. Dubrovnik, despite being in the EU, still used its own currency, the Kuna. The ship will change at 1.8 odd kuna to the euro but will only take back 50 kuna notes and above, no coins or lesser denominations. Just inside the city gate there is a shop with a bureau de change and they were offering a better rate, 1.9 something to the euro. At the end of the day do you really want to be left with a load of useless kuna so best to ask if they accept euros and, if not, walk away. Behind this bureau is a restaurant with a toilet and they take 1 euro to use it. By the way the supermarket at the dockside only takes Kunas or, I think, credit cards so save yourself the walk unless you have kanas to get rid of. Kotor is very picturesque and probably not somewhere you would finish up other than on a trip like this. It is a bit like a mini Dubrovnik with a medieval walled old town. For the fit and healthy there is a steep climb up the hillside and for the rest of us there are a few cafes, lots of souvenir shops and a couple of ice-cream stall. There is a public toilet which is signposted and a couple of ladies sit outside collecting your 1 euro to go in. A more leisurely walk up some of the walls takes you past some peoples gardens to a view over the harbour. Watch how you walk here as there were used syringes about. Back down at street level there were a few females begging so just like home really! Corfu, or more precisely, Kerkira where the ship docks is a short shuttle bus to the old town. The Russian navy was in town when we were there and the sailors were busy snapping up fake Rolex watches from the many Africans. There are lots of shops selling designer name goods at knock off prices but in between there were some genuine stores too. Unless you really want a Calvin Klein belt for 2.5 euros or a Gucci bag for little more you may want to search out the shops that don’t have these bargains for the real thing. Naples has a duty free shop after you go through dockside security before you board the ship and is useful if you need to stock up. Ajaccio is a pleasant town with streets close to the ship to stroll around in and a market just near the dock selling mostly cheeses and meats with a wine stall. Carry on up the street until you come to a Spar supermarket (Yes they have them there too) where stuff is a bit cheaper. If you are in a sunbathing mood there are beaches nearby. Hopefully this will be of some help to future travellers. One point worthy of mention was an incident affecting the ship when travelling between Dubrovnik and Venice. A sudden squall hit the ship and caused it to list some degrees to port, sufficient to wake everyone as everything crashed off the cabin surfaces and we had to walk downhill to get out of our cabin. More worryingly, however, this listing persisted and for around three hours we all waited to see if it would carry on tipping over. As you no doubt know, ships bob about on the sea, but when they bob one way they immediately then bob the other way. That is the theory but in this case the other bob just didn’t happen, hence the worried looks. Our captain spoke once briefly from the bridge, told us this was normal and we should all go back to our coff….sorry cabins. Having seen the wreck of Costa Concordia in Genoa on our way to the ship it was not a reassurance that gave us a great deal of comfort. It turned out the following day that the cause of the persistent listing was the fact that the swimming pools on deck 15 had emptied out and the water was swilling about in the space enclosed by glass panels on the port side with nowhere to go. Not only that but another passenger told us that her daughter had experienced the self-same thing on her cruise with Ventura in June of this year. So there you are. If the ship suddenly lurches to one side and stays there it is nothing to worry about. Just don;t ask us to cruise with Ventura again.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
The basics of life on the Ventura were well organised by P and O. The essentials of cabin management, feeding and entertaining the passengers were all well organised. All facilities seemed to function well, in particular the warm clean ... Read More
The basics of life on the Ventura were well organised by P and O. The essentials of cabin management, feeding and entertaining the passengers were all well organised. All facilities seemed to function well, in particular the warm clean swimming pools were much appreciated. General cleanliness around the vessel was impressive. Staff were enthusiastic and efficient in carrying out their tasks. However the sea passage from Dubrovnik to Venice was something else. I am amazed that my wife slept through the whole episode! I say that because she is prone to motion sickness, and if she had been awake she would almost certainly have been ill! As far as I am concerned this started around 1.30am, when I awoke as the ship was swaying badly and pitching hard up and down into obviously a heavy sea. I guess we were lucky with a cabin close to the bow so that we did not suffer from the pronounced swaying or leaning that others have reported elsewhere. I can recall the thunderstorms and lightning we had observed before retiring the night before, but had no idea of the mayhem they would cause in the middle of the night. I tried to get out of bed and found it hard to stand up, as since we were in an inside cabin we had no reference as to what was level! I was never aware of the apparent broadcast by the Captain at about 2,30am, which has been widely reported elsewhere. I only know that my last recollection of being awake and bouncing was about 3.30am. Although the captain toured the dining rooms the following morning to reassure passengers, his answers to my questions were largely humorous jibes which I did not find entirely helpful. AS an experienced traveller I asked him to confirm that such storms were unusual in the Mediterranean. He replied that "we certainly found one last night." I then asked if he had been on the bridge at the time? His reply was 'Not initially but I was straight after the phone rang." I am afraid that I find the response inadequate. This captain was always full of flippant apparently humorous remarks during his broadcasts especially as we were about to leave port. His standard phrase was something like, "the chief engineer assures me that the rubber bands have been fully wound to enable us to leave port on way to 'X'." I didn't find that funny, and anything he is reported to have said in the early hours of the morning as we were bounced around like a cork, I would probably have dismissed as well. As a retired airline pilot we were always advised don't try to be humorous with passengers during public address announcements as the passengers need to be assured that calls from the captain are responsible instructions particularly when emergency procedures may subsequently be required. I find it even more worrying that as far as I am aware there has been no official statement from P & O at all. Other reports on the internet, confirm what I observed that night, and indeed some suggest that the Ventura was built with a shallow draught which it seems is likely to lead to instability when adverse weather strikes. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
A 14 nights cruise on Ventura from Genoa. We choose a cruise on the itinerary and value, and we have no loyalty to any cruise line. We tend to book late and have a balcony. Cabin 4/5 - D614 Superior Deluxe Balcony port side midships on ... Read More
A 14 nights cruise on Ventura from Genoa. We choose a cruise on the itinerary and value, and we have no loyalty to any cruise line. We tend to book late and have a balcony. Cabin 4/5 - D614 Superior Deluxe Balcony port side midships on Dominica deck 9. Approx 30% larger than a standard balcony cabin. King bed with quality linen and pillows. We slept well - very quiet. Plenty of UK 3 pin sockets and a few US flat 2 pin 110v sockets. Large lounge area with sofa (a double sofa bed). 2 flat screen TVs - one facing the bed and one facing the lounge area. Kettle & large fridge. In the Superior Balcony grade, you get a bottle of Champagne and box of chocolates on arrival, an atlas, binoculars, robes and slippers, plus canapés and fruit once a week. Plenty of storage space and a large digital safe. Plenty of glasses etc. Housekeeping twice a day. A reasonably sized balcony with 2 lounger chairs and a small table. The larger rooms on decks C and D stick out further than those cabins above and are hence overlooked. This is the price you pay for a larger room or bigger balcony. Bathroom 4/5 - normal cabin size with a full size bath and shower above. Lovely White Company toiletries (deluxe balconies only). Shaver point. Food 4/5 - Cinnamon and Saffron for evening Freedom dining. Bay Tree for fixed Dining at 18.30 and 20.30. Saffron for waiter served breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. We were allocated Freedom Dining in Cinnamon - we ate here most evenings and enjoyed sharing with new people each night, though we do like to break it up by eating elsewhere. The food and service were generally very good. There is no doubt that over time the quality of food on cruises has drifted downwards as prices and profits have been squeezed and it is perhaps no longer "fine dining", but the food is still very good. Entertainment 4/5 - everything was good that we saw. We particularly like the Headliner shows. The main shows are very popular and you need to get to the Arena Theatre 10 min before the show starts. Often, late arrives would be left standing or sitting on the steps. Ship 4/5 - still in good condition. Considering the ship had over 3,000 passengers on board, it never felt too crowded, except on sea days, when we were shocked at how packed the open decks were. Every sun lounger was taken and they were crushed together like sardines, with nowhere near enough deck space for all the passengers on sunny sea days. There were lots of sun loungers stacked up, but no deck space to put them. As often is the case, reserving loungers was endemic, despite warnings in the Horizon daily information sheet. Can't blame the Germans on this ship!! Service 5/5 - we found the staff hard working, efficient, helpful and courteous at all times. Our cabin steward Amelita looked after us very well throughout. Value 5/5 - we booked 10 days before we sailed. We had the choice of a standard balcony at £1,249 per person or £1,349 for a superior balcony - we chose the latter. Great value for a 2 week cruise Med in August including conveniently timed flights and transfers. The daily tip charge of £3.95pp is reasonable, as are the drinks prices and the fact that you can bring some booze on board at ports for consumption in your cabin. Overall 4/5. Hard to fault P&O these days. Sure there were some minor niggles (when isn't there), but overall this was a lovely cruise with a great itinerary and we have no hesitation recommending it. DAILY LOG Day 1 Embarcation in Genoa - a 10.35 departure Titan charter flight from East Midlands to Genoa. We had prebooked our seats. Nice leather seats and reasonable legroom. You can purchase food and drinks on board. The flight took 1hr 45 min and was on time. No collection of bags required at Genoa airport. We were whisked swiftly though to the transfer bus. Lots of P&O staff guiding us. At the port, the cruise check-in was very efficient and we were in our cabin by 14.00. The bags arrived soon afterwards. So from taking off to being on board ship was 2 1/2 hours - remarkable. We did not go into Genoa, but had lunch, unpacked and got to know the ship layout again. All on board by 18.30 and we sailed away at 19.00. Nothing much to see on the sail out except a beautiful private yacht in the harbor with its own helicopter. There was the standard muster drill at 18.30 before we left Genoa. We ate in Cinnamon. Too tired to watch the show. Day 2 Livorno - we docked at 07.30. Not a very pretty sail in. We have been to both Pisa and Florence a number of times before, though not cruising, so we just strolled around Livorno. You cannot walk in the Laverne dock area for safety, so free shuttle buses are provided which takes you into the centre (Piazza Grande). There is a tourist information there. You can get a bus from here to Pisa and Florence for €10 and €15 respectively. The Central Station is a 10 min walk away. We walked along the Via Grande to the central fort, which is surrounded by a wide moat. There are numerous canals in the historical centre called the Venetian Quarter. Plenty of interesting churches to visit - Santa Caterina was lovely. All on board 19.00 - sail away at 19.30. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was very good - Mark Walker, a multi-talented singer, musician, comedian and impersonator. Day 3 at sea - we walked 4 miles (10 laps) of the promenade deck (0.4 miles per lap), then worked on the tan in the afternoon. First Formal night. Captains cocktail party, then we ate in Cinnamon. The show was The Headliners doing music and dance from well known stage shows - excellent. Day 4 Naples - a pleasant sail into the Bay of Naples. We docked at 08.00. Gangway open 08.30. We walked to The Central Station - a 2 km stroll. and took the Circumversuvian Line to Pompeii. - one level below the main station - €2.90pp single fare. The train takes approx 20 min. The entrance to Pompeii ruins is by the station. €11 entrance including a site map. It's a huge site, so take strong shoes. We arrived there before 10.00. By 12.00 it was getting hot and busy with tours, so we left. We took the same train back to Herculaneum for a quick look at the small ruins (€11 entrance), then back to Naples and we were back on the ship by 15.00. I've been to Pompeii before, but it was my first time to Herculaneum. A nice day. All on board 17.30, with some late tour arrivals at 17.45, which didn't delay us. A nice sail away from Naples at 18.00 past Vesuvius, Sorrento, Capri and the beautiful Amalfi coast. We ate in Cinnamon. The show was an excellent trio of male singers doing classic soul and Motown sounds. Day 5 - at sea - a nice sunny sail down the west coast of Italy, through the narrow Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily and into the Ionian Sea. I ran 5 miles around the Promenade Deck in the morning, then spent some time in the sun. Freebee canapés delivered to the room. Second formal night. We ate in Cinnamon. A fine show by the Headliners "Reel to Reel" - music from British films. Day 6 - Dubrovnik - a lovely sail in. We docked at 08.00. There was a shuttle bus from the harbor to the Old Town (£4.50pp each way but worth it). We've walked the walls here before, so we spent a few hours wandering around the streets and the marina. It was a very hot day and the city walls looked very busy. We ate in the main buffet, as it was Tandoori night - very good. The show was another excellent set from Mark Warner. A completely different show from the one a few nights ago. Day 7 - Venice - we arrived at 12.15. It takes a while to enter Venice and larger ships have to be assisted by tugs. It is wonderful to sail into Venice Lagoon, then along the Canal San Marco and past the Grande Canal and St Marks Square - magical. Larger ships will not be able to do this next year and will have to dock elsewhere. We got the People Mover from the cruise terminal to Piazza Roma. €1.30pp each way, or you can walk it, as it's not too far. We walked from Piazza Roma to St. Marks Square and got a Vaporetto (water bus) back €7pp, which takes you fully down the Grande Canal. We spent the afternoon wandering the streets of this wonderful city. You can get a P&O water shuttle from the terminal to near St Marks. £15 for a day unlimited use or £25 for 2 days, but the shuttle does not go down the Grande Canal, whereas the Vaporetto does. It is good value though if you just want to get quickly to St Marks square and back. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was Reflex - the Headliners doing music and dance from the 1980's. A good lively show. Overnight in Venice. Day 8 Venice - we met our friends Peter & Janet who were doing the same 2 week P&O cruise, but from Venice. We used the P&O shuttle boat from near the ship to St Marks. Very efficient. We walked miles around Venice and got lost again. A wonderful sail away sipping cold Prosecco as we drifted slowly along the San Marco canal and past St Marks as the sun set. One of life's great travel experiences. After dinner in Saffron (though we were allocated Cinnamon, you can mix the 2 Freedom dining locations) we had a late night drink in Metropolis. A bit choppy overnight with the win reaching a max of Force 11. Day 9 at sea - we did 10 laps of the promenade deck. Then a few hours in the sun. 3rd formal night. After dinner in Saffron we watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - quite a good song and dance show. Day 10 Kotor - we set our alarm for 6.15 to watch the beautiful sail in. Kotor is at the end of a narrow river valley. We docked at about 08.00. We had to tender into town. We went to The Tamarind bar and got a tender ticket. We were called about 15 mins later. It was a lovely 10 min tender ride to the dock. Kotor is a small and pretty fortified city. We walked the 1,352 steps to the top of the fortress. Fab views from the top. We had a beer and wandered around the cobbled streets. All on board 18.30 and a lovely sail away back down the valley. Dinner in Cinnamon. After the steps, we were too tired for the a show. Day 11 Corfu - a nice sail in past the old fort. We docked at 08.00. We took a short shuttle bus to the old town €1.50 each way. We then walked the short distance to the bus station and caught a local bus to Paleokastritsa (€2.60) each way. A cab would be €50 each way. Paleo is a lovely cove and beach with clear water for swimming. We later caught the bus back to Corfu old town and spent a few hours wandering around the cobbled streets. All on board 17.00. A pleasant sail away. We had dinner in Saffron and did not go to the show, but listened to the pianist in the Atrium. Day 12 at sea - a lovely sunny day to top up the tan. We sailed through the Straits of Messina late morning and then sailed past Stromboli at 13.00. Fourth formal night. We watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - a fine medley of songs by the Headliners from Rogers & Hammerstein. Day 13 Civitavecchia (for Rome) - we arrived at 07.00. The gangway was open at 07.15. The weather suddenly closed in and we saw a number of tornados out to see. A free shuttle bus is provided by the port into the town. We have been to Rome before a couple of times (not cruising). Rome is 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way by road. I don't think you have enough time there to do it justice - much better to fly in and see it properly. We strolled along the Civitaveccia promenade to the central station and took the train to Santa Marinella (10 mins) - a pleasant seaside town (€1.10 each way). Last port return shuttle bus was 18.00. All on board 19.00. The weather was cloudy for the sail away. We had a nice meal in East (£15pp cover charge) and didn't go to the show. Day 14 Ajaccio - we arrived at 08.00 directly on the dock. It is only a few minutes walk into the town. Ajaccio is a very nice, small town with a marina, fort and some nice beaches. We spent a few hours strolling about the tree lined boulevards. Napoleon was born here and his image abounds in bronze. You can easily see it all in a few hours. All on board 16.00. A pleasant sail away and a lovely sunset. We had the "Food & Wine pairing dinner" at The Glasshouse. A cover charge of £30pp applies which includes a glass of wine with each of the 4 courses. There is a set dining time at 18.30, but even though we had pre-chosen our food, we still had to wait until 19.20 for any food. Excellent quality food and wine - 4 courses and 4 wines, with an explanation of each course. A lovely meal in a nice setting, but I could have done without the theatrics of clapping the chefs and waiters etc. An American chap even stood up and gave a short speech in celebration of the event - not sure what that was about. Suitcases outside the cabin by 23.00 latest. There was good & detailed information regarding our disembarcation procedure. Day 15 - disembarkation - we berthed in Genoa before 6.30. You are supposed to be out of your cabin by 07.00, but our kind steward Amelita let us stay until nearly 08.00, as she had lots of other cabins to clean already. After breakfast, we passed time by reading in the peace and quiet of Metropolis on deck 18. Disembarcation is by a colour coding system, which is announced over the tannoy. We were called at on time at 12.30 and bussed to Genoa airport. We were then led to security and passport control. We didn't even have to think what to do. Titan flight ZT9402 took off on time and we had an easy flight back to the UK.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Never been on a cruise before (of any sort), so unsure how it would compare to normal holidays(I normally arrange flights, hotels, transport, restaurants, etc, independently to pick the best that suits my needs). Allocated a balcony cabin ... Read More
Never been on a cruise before (of any sort), so unsure how it would compare to normal holidays(I normally arrange flights, hotels, transport, restaurants, etc, independently to pick the best that suits my needs). Allocated a balcony cabin on the Lido deck, which was not bad, apart from the overweight joggers who thought it fun to get red and out of puff using deck 16 above at 6:30am for their morning run. I soon put to a stop to that by getting the Night Manager to rope off that section of deck until 8am. The cabin itself - Travelodge circa 1985, even down to an open hanging rail rather than a wardrobe. Bed comfortable enough. Air-conditioning not up to the task, and room always too warm. Pointless mini-TV and a 'fridge' that was really a chiller that tried but wasn't up to the task. The bathroom had insufficient ventilation, thus nothing dried properly resulting in a mouldy shower curtain.The lack of drying meant that the cabin steward ended up needing to supply clean (dry) towels twice a day, every day. Food onboard was very patchy. - In the self-service cafeterias (Waterside and the Beach House) quantity over quality seemed the aim of the customers, who didn't seem to mind the luke warm food (chef measured the temperature and told me 65c was fine), noise, and the struggle to find a table. - Frankies Grill - Cheap burgers served on plastic plates. I would say more McDonalds than Byron, I that would be disparaging McDonalds. - Cinnamon and Saffron - Staff friendly and willing, and mostly efficient (apart from all the wine waiters), but the food? The problem was that the menu was overambitious, and they just kept failing to deliver. If somebody offers me a good meal, and they occasionally surprise by producing an excellent meal, I am happy. But if somebody promises me an excellent meal, but most often produces just a good meal, with the occasional rubbish, then I am unhappy. Unfortunately P&O fits into the latter category. The issue seemed to mainly occur in the evenings with the hot food. Cold starters were always perfect, but hot... utterly random. I can only assume an insufficient number of staff in the kitchen. I could also see why the older customers were happy with the food, because the menus seemed about 20 or 30 years out of date. It was certainly not the sort of interesting menu that you would have seen in London this millennium, even in an unambitious restaurant. Freedom dining, fine if you want to share. If not, be prepared to be asked to wait every night for up to an hour. Or they tell you a minimum of half an hour, so you get a drink, and then two minutes later call you. Random, and again not anything seen in any normal restaurant. Dress code, hmm. Take what P&O say with a pinch of salt. Casual evenings translated as "wear anything you like", including a few adult men wearing shorts in the main dining rooms in the evening. Formal evenings, the vast majority (95%+) were wearing dinner jackets and bow ties. The 'dark suit' option was chosen by very few, and I thought they stood out more than those who hadn't changed their dress style from the casual evenings, looking like they had just stumbled in from the office. Bars - Something to suit everyone, from the Metropolis cocktail bar down to the Exchange station Pub (I didn't think downmarket station pubs from the 80's still existed until I saw that one), but the prices were not bad. Entertainment - Much better than expected. Shows usually about 45 minutes, and clearly a lot of money and effort thrown at the productions. Also pleasantly surprised to see that there is a rotation of shows, so you won't see the same acts/shows repeated on a 14 night cruise. One poor entertainment point was the quality of the film projection on the films that were shown. P&O have spent a huge amount on the rest of the entertainment and insufficient on the film projection equipment*. If you want to see a film in TV standard definition quality, blown up onto a cinema size screen, so everything is fuzzy (or if they are showing it in one of the bars, on a 4:3 screen not widescreen), then this is for you. *When I asked, I was told that the equipment that they use to show the films was not intended to do so, but was only intended to show backdrops, etc as part of the stage show. It shows. And a final point on entertainment. If you know that a show is going to be full, what sort of idiot leaves a single spare seat between them and the next group, so that you have two or three empty seats on their own in a row. So don't be shocked when someone asks you to move up. Swimming pools and deck chairs. People were out at 6:30am, especially on sea days, putting out towels to reserve chairs. Their tactics were successful as P&O were utterly ineffectual about doing anything about it, other than to print a small bit in occasionally the newspaper. Port stops, mostly good, but excursions were completely extortionate. And I thought that the captain seemed to express just a little to much pleasure in announcing for several days running, that some people who had gone ashore to Rome had been left behind, especially as he then went straight into a sales pitch for the excursions. Venice - You would have thought that for people travelling independently to the ship, P&O would appreciate that they may need some information such as the berth number and automatically provide it. Alas no. You may also think that they would tell you when check in opens, not just a suggested arrival time. Alas no. You may also think that they would tell boarding passengers which restaurants were open at lunch time, so everyone is not queuing at Waterside. Alas no. Kotor - A long 20 minute tender ashore for a pleasant morning stroll, but not much there. I suspect it is lovely about 8pm in the evening with a cold beer, but of course we had left by then. Corfu - A free port shuttle bus ride to the port gate, and then change to a second (possibly chargeable) P&O shuttle bus ride to the town gate, for a pleasant morning stroll. I know from previous visits Corfu town is lovely about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Rome - From Civitavecchia, a free port shuttle bus ride to the port gate, and then a second chargeable town bus ride to the station, followed by a train to Rome. Absolute chaos at Civitavecchia railway station on the return, as everybody arrived back on the same train, all wanting to catch the single bus that would get them back to the ship before it sailed. Made worse by American's who struggled with the concept of public transport, and had never experienced the joy of the Northern Line on the tube in the morning peak. A nice day seeing the sights, but, and there is theme developing here, I know from previous visits it is lovely about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Ajaccio - France, very definitely France, even down to the dog on the pavements. But nice all the same. I suspect even nicer about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Ajaccio to Genoa - Force 8 winds, so the sick bags were out and being filled. However as I don't get sea sick, after an interesting show where the cast were struggling to stay upright, up to Metropolis to watch the front of the ship going up, up, up and then down, down, down crashing through the waves. Lots of carpets being cleaned around the public toilets the next morning. Genoa - A stroll into town down a street that would have made the Kings Cross area in the 90's feel upmarket. At 9am it was interesting. At 9pm I suspect it is very interesting. A pleasant morning spent strolling the more upmarket areas of Genoa and using the funiculars and lifts to see the views, before returning to the ship for lunch. I used the bus to get back to town in the afternoon, as I had seen enough tattoo parlours and shifty people selling other "goods" and "services" for the day. Livorno - Been to both Pisa and Florence before (and been able to stay past 4pm), so opted to stroll around Livorno, which is a surprisingly pleasant port town without the "interesting" characteristics of Genoa. Naples - Easy day trip out to Herculaneum on the tram and train. Enlivened by pickpockets on the tram on the way back, necessitating a trip to the Naples central Police Station (the cruise port police dealing with people off the cruise ships don't speak anything other than Italian, why would they?). The building and police detective who offered to assist were straight out of the casting for Hill Street Blues. Really helpful guy and worth the hassle going there, as the insurance paid up without question. So the pickpockets did me a favour by getting me a shiny new phone. On the way back to the ship from the police station, a bloke sticks his head around a street corner and says "psst, want to buy an iPhone or an iPad". Dubrovnik - A (possibly chargeable) shuttle bus ride to the town gate. At 9am up on the city walls there were half a dozen people, including a guy running laps of the wall. By 11am, Dubrovnik was full. Completely full. I can understand the desire to rebuild after the 1991-92 conflict, but the whole effect now is rather Disney, except I suspect Disney would do it better. The whole city within the walls now only exists for tourists, with every place being a museum, a bar, a restaurant, or a shop selling tourist tat (catering for all ends of the scale from cheap to expensive tat). And what was amusing was that Croatia uses the Kuna not the Euro, so lots of signs saying "No Euros". Or the sneaky bars not saying whether they did or didn't, but you could be sure it wouldn't be to your advantage if you only had Euros to pay. Hot as hades, by early afternoon, so a nice long queue in the sun to get a shuttle back to the ship. Definitely a place that is nicer at 8pm. Venice again - As the ship stays overnight, then we were able to go into the city late afternoon, and be able to stay into the evening after all the day trippers had left. Much, much more pleasant riding a vaporetto back up the Grand Canal as the sun is setting. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Thoroughly enjoyed our Cruise, the organisation onboard and disembarking for the Shore, was fantastic and the ship appeared spotless in all areas. Our Cabin Steward was exceptional, quiet and unobtrusive, but twice a day our cabin was ... Read More
Thoroughly enjoyed our Cruise, the organisation onboard and disembarking for the Shore, was fantastic and the ship appeared spotless in all areas. Our Cabin Steward was exceptional, quiet and unobtrusive, but twice a day our cabin was serviced with nice little touches like towel animals. We were sorry that he, Altivey, finished his stint, before our trip was over. We found the Buffet food good, a different theme each night and if you didn't like that Genre, there was always a Roast on offer. There have been some niggles by other critics about how quickly/ slowly the food is served in the Saffron or Cinnamon Restaurants, how can the waiters please every one? Some cruisers are in a rush to get to the first Show, others want to linger. We thought the Four Tunes and the Headliners provided excellent shows and we liked the Comedians. We found you couldn't have a leisurely meal and make the first show, the alternative was waiting around till 1030pm for the second show. The Musical Director and his Team were mostly good , but perhaps could have showed their talents more often, besides the Sailaways. Having your photo taken so often was nice and gave you a great variety of shots to choose from, but it was too expensive for you to buy most of them. I found the Guides on some of the Tours quite tedious and often hard to listen to or understand. I felt English people with Local Knowledge would have been more interesting, I didn't want to hear the history of almost every building I passed or the geneology of everyones ancestors. Facts I forgot in most cases as soon as I heard them. A bit of current local knowledge would have been preferable. The Excursions were of course pushed and it would have been good if the Ship gave more information on visiting the ports independently. We would have loved to see behind the Scenes of the Ventura but at 75 Euros per person for the privilege, we, and most others, declined, thank you. In common with most people, we could not get a Sun Lounger because they were claimed by the Towels and Belongings of their, usually absent, owners. P and O saying this is not allowed, is NO deterrent. Despite the few niggles, would I cruise with P and O again, definitely.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
A little late but here we go, disappointed with the Ventura the transfers were good from Manchester to Venice then to ship, when on the ship had to go first to the waterside Buffett talk about manic what a ridiculous set up no room for ... Read More
A little late but here we go, disappointed with the Ventura the transfers were good from Manchester to Venice then to ship, when on the ship had to go first to the waterside Buffett talk about manic what a ridiculous set up no room for movement everyone in each other way and no tables also no squashes only tea coffee or water to drink like a bun fight. Eventually got our cabin on B deck with balcony very spacious and clean changed towels twice a day and sheets once a week, decided to go on water taxi into Venice cost £15 from reception, left ship went outside a bus was there asked rep was told that only people in wheelchairs could use this. I am registered disabled but only use sticks he was quite adamant that I could not get on.Eventually he relented and let me on,he came with me how ridiculous other people were struggling along on foot what a waste of resources. The one saving grace was another gent at the waterside helped me on and off boat and directed me to a shop when back to get bottles of coke much cheaper than on the boat. Afternoon tea that day was a bit of a joke all over the place cakes first etc,also the staff could not get rid of you quick enough very surly.We found the cruise to be anything but relaxing no sun beds all week unless up at crack of dawn, late dinner which we asked to changed to be earlier but catagorically told No so time dinner finished no shows as to tired Been with Royal Carribean and so much more relaxing better food and more room to relax. Read Less
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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