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195 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

Great ports but found the Caribean all a bit overcrowded with so many cruise ships around ! The ship was very nice but also too crowded for us particularly on the sun deck. On sea days it was extremely difficult to find a sun bed and it if ... Read More
Great ports but found the Caribean all a bit overcrowded with so many cruise ships around ! The ship was very nice but also too crowded for us particularly on the sun deck. On sea days it was extremely difficult to find a sun bed and it if you were able to it was jammed in between others. Not a pleasant experience. We spent a lot of time on our balcony , however this was overlooked by cabins and decks above as it protruded from the ship. Nice balcony but did compromise our privacy. Food all good and anytime dining worked well for us. Did not have to wait too long for a table for 2. Entertainment overall was good. Embarkation was handled very well at the cruise terminal rather than the airport. The overnight stay in Barbados before coming home was brilliant. Overall a good cruise but this ship is not for us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
If this had been our first cruise we would probably never cruised again. The title of this review, P & Queue, is an overall impression of this cruise, it appeared that every couple of days we had to queue. Manchester Airport Arrived ... Read More
If this had been our first cruise we would probably never cruised again. The title of this review, P & Queue, is an overall impression of this cruise, it appeared that every couple of days we had to queue. Manchester Airport Arrived early after stopping over night at an airport hotel, had to queue for 2 and a half hours to check in, only one check in desk manned, the P&O representative said there should have been 7 and blamed Thompsons, but our contract was with P&O and they should have seen that the agreement they had with Thompsons was enforced. Flight OK, old plane very ordinary meals and service. Barbados Check in. We queued for 1 and half hours to register and then 1 hour to get through security. (Only 2 scanners for about 1500 passengers??) Bags did not arrive at our cabin until after 10.30pm, we landed at 5.15pm. Booking Gala Meals Booking for Christmas Day and New Years Eve meals was a farce, we queued for 2 and a half hours for the second sitting, people booking for the first sitting had to wait longer, also people "missed" breakfast due to the time they had to wait. One lady, a solo passenger, told us she had to queue for 4 hours and when she got to the front was told "as a solo she didn't have to queue as they could have slotted her in anywhere". Flight Back to Manchester 2 Thompson fights leaving at the same time from the same gate, very confusing and more queuing. Some of the restaurant staff on board ship were rude and hurried us out of the restaurants after breakfast and lunch as they were in a hurry to prepare tables for the following meal. (Not enough staff??) Our last cruise with P&O was in 2009, every thing went like clockwork, staff were excellent and all the service we received on board was perfect, following this we recommended P&O to our friends, never again, we have now booked another cruise with another Company, we never looked at P&O alternatives. Very disappointed Passenger, now booking with other Company's.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely ... Read More
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely good with just a few disappointments but in nearly all cases the meat portion was too small. Our D deck cabin was very average with no internet access when the ship was moving, poor maintainance in the bathroom, a faded settee, questionable AC and ridiculous noise from the tender launching process at 7am (!) in Tortola . To add to this the balcony was not at all private with virtually every cabin above it having a birds eye view of us. The balcony was often littered with cigarette butts which I assume came from the rooms above . The guest entertainers were typically good but the production shows were over ambitious given the singers available and their lack of talent . It's takes a brave girl of any description to offer a "tribute" to Karen Carpenter but if they cannot sing well its just not practical and how 3 white guys can try to mimic the Drifters is beyond my comprehension - they must be able to both sing and dance and do both at the same time! The Calypso band that played in various venues was quite good but the rock band much worse. There was a constant problem with the lack of sun beds . This is down to bad deck design or even ship design and poor management - given though P&O can cure this but they have to want to do it. Similarly the show lounge is too small and requires a 3rd nightly show. P&O employ "minders" around the swimming pool whose sole purpose appears to be annoy the kids who are jumping in and out and enjoying themselves. These pool minders even kick out adults in the pool if the appear to jump in, even though they weren't. Making these people redundant would offer a serious cost saving . They could be re employed as traffic wardens where they could irritate a larger number of people and not damage the cruise's reputation. For some reason the hot tubs were often closed for cleaning - even on Christmas Day - is there no planning or consideration given to the days on which this happens? Ship maintenance, such as refreshing of paint, occurred during day hours. Why? Wouldn't it be easier to do this at 5am or when passengers are sleeping rather than make paying passengers move this lounge chair during the day to accommodate ship repairs? The kindergarten now operates a nonsensical process for signing the kids in and out and this needs to be looked at. As it stands a cruise card with a kids club sticker on it is "worth" a child and a signature the same as the one on that card is the only thing required to release the child. If there really is such a problem a picture of the parents maybe more worthwhile. I suspect the process was engineered by someone at a desk with a pen but little or no practical experience. The itinerary worked well except from Christmas Eve in Dominica. As you may know it rains there a lot so to organise Santa's arrival on the open deck as we left was frankly stupid, it was always going to rain and of course the entire event, witnessed by hundreds of families, was a complete wash out. Clearly a different port or venue or time was needed. At Tortola the dock is being rebuilt and is closed for the duration. The itinerary suggested it was a "possible tender" port. It's a definite tender and those on deck 9 should have been warned of the very loud noise and shuddering vibration a 7am when the tenders are launched. To be fair the tender process seemed to worked ok but there is no need to go there at all until the dock is built - there are lots of other islands. There were too many formal nights - 4 in total. This was way too many and should be re thought on family cruises. Given the fact we all had to fly in with the accompanying baggage problems, a clear dress code itinerary would have been useful ahead of the cruise, sadly it's not provided. The passengers were an eclectic mix of pensioners, couples and families with older and or younger children, some of whom were well heeled educated types and many others who could be described as "tattooed wonders", some of the later may perhaps be better served at a guest house in Blackpool or Butlins. I realise P&O is not going to conduct IQ tests on the passengers at the pier prior to boarding but I recommend they think of something before the entire cruise resembles a remand centre. There were too many smokers onboard and now may be the time to ban smoking completely. This would discourage those who need budget fares and relieve non smokers of ash, smell, and dirty ash trays which ruin otherwise useful deck areas. I noticed on a number of occasions that "housekeeping" was not as it could be with abandoned coffee cups left in halls for many hours and festering nappies in lifts. Some of this will be as result of the passenger mix but P&O should know who they sold the cruise to and prepare accordingly. Throughout the cruise the air conditioning did don't seem to work too well. Cruise ships in my experience are typically really quite cool inside but the Ventura was always warm. Even with the AC set to minimum in the cabin it was often too warm to sleep and other passengers who commented on the issue suggested it was a cost cutting measure..... P&O offer what amounts to late check out of the cabin to those who wish to pay for it. The process for this defies belief - as after paying £85 you have to leave the room you've had to the last fortnight together with your hand luggage at 9am and come back an hour later to room a few doors along the hall. If a good hotel offers late check out they let you have the room you are in - it saves preparing it again - and often they do not charge either. On this cruise all the passengers arrive on flights in the later afternoon and those going home need to leave before that. The only explanation for devising such a scheme is to collect cash and generate work for the stewards, it really is that silly. The additional cost restaurants are multiplying - and getting pricey. We went to the "Beach House" where even the burger is £2 extra - over and above the £6 you've just already agreed to. The place is ok but really you should stay with the dining room. Many of the other dining places are much more money and where often empty. Breakfast in the dining room was a slow a prescriptive saga and I see no reason to go there. The buffet arrangement upstairs seems better with plentiful if rather average food but often a shortage of tables unless you go out on the deck and sit in the cigarette smoke and ashtrays. P&O now serve Costa coffee which is big improvement on the liquid served in the buffet. Given their quest to charge for everything they can they should serve it at all the bars and for breakfast at a "nominal charge" of course. The buffet lunches were a bit tedious with the menu only changing a little each day and offering some bizarre choices for a Carribean cruise including faggots and a hotpot! On deck they serve burgers and hotdogs which are quite good but again the lack of tables either with or without smokers is an issue. The reception desk staff were typically polite but often could not answer many questions sensibly and they also had a habit of not answering the phone at all. P&O want you to buy a "wine" package for dinner but while this appears to offer some value the chosen wines are not good and the wine list selection is a better bet albeit at extra cost The beauty parlour prices where laughably high and it's hard to imagine anybody paying them. The return flights on Thomas Cook were only just about acceptable and only because we paid extra for Premium seats. The economy looked too cramped for an 8 hour flight and the food and drink are extra back there too. To add to this if you want to sit together as a family you have to pay another £15 each - each way - £90 for a family of 3!. This is a rip off and those concerned should be ashamed of such fees on families who have, in some cases, already paid £8000+. The gratuity policy appears now to involve charging every adult £55 (for the 2 week cruise) to there account and this covers the gratuities, however what is less clear is who gets the money, how much of it and what happens if you choose to opt out of the £55 deal. I asked for the money to be credited back to the account and it was and I gave cash to the room steward and dining room waiter and his assistant, but if more than those 3 were about to receive from me did they do without and in any event who were they and what is it they did for me? As with so many other silly fees in this world P&O should scrap the gratuity like they have with the one on the bar bill and pay their, largely excellent, service staff a sensible wage. As Ryan Air will tell you making people mad will not generate repeat passengers and P&O should take a good look at what they are doing before the policies get any worse..... I expect I will sail with P&O again - we are booked already but the Ventura will not be on my shortlist and P&O need to sort themselves out if I am to stay a loyal passenger. I am hoping the issues only relate to the Ventura but I am not hopeful.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We booked this cruise just over a year before departure, choosing P&O as we had not cruised with them before, and the itinerary took us to 7 islands which we had never previously visited. The idea of checking luggage in at the UK ... Read More
We booked this cruise just over a year before departure, choosing P&O as we had not cruised with them before, and the itinerary took us to 7 islands which we had never previously visited. The idea of checking luggage in at the UK airport, and having them delivered direct to your cabin was a great innovation, and no security to go through at Bridgetown airport was another. The only problems with the flight were the fact we were sat on the aircraft for nearly three hours at Manchester airport before we departed! Problems with a piece of “cargo”, that we later discovered was a spare part for a stricken Thomas Cook aircraft at our destination. Then we were sat on the coach on the tarmac at Bridgetown for 45minutes before the final passengers were boarded before our 45 minute journey to Ventura, only to find there was then another 40 minute process to check in and get on-board. We finally got to our cabin at 6:25pm (dinner at 6:30), having been on the 9:00am flight out of Manchester. Thirteen and a half hours from scheduled departure to arrival was not a great start. At least we weren’t on the Saturday flight that didn’t even arrive! One thing we can say on the positive side is, the Cabin and Cabin Steward (Virag), were excellent. The layout and cleanliness were excellent, with the “dressing area” outside the bathroom much better than other layouts. No problem found with the shower size or curtain as read in previous reviews. Meals on board were OK. We had “Traditional” dining at the early seating, and found the menu varied, although the vegetables at times were a little tasteless. We took our breakfasts in the Waterside/Beach House areas, and on certain days (sea days) found these to be very crowded at times. One thing we did discover during our cruise was that the Muster Drill that everyone has to attend (by law), was not attended by some passengers. There was no check on who had attended or not by any of the crew, no “head-count”, no checking that passengers were out of their cabins at Muster. Other cruise companies have a head count as you enter the Muster Station, and crew check that all cabins are vacated of passengers. As this is a lawful requirement to attend, surely P&O are required to ensure that everyone is attending, and in case of an actual emergency, that all are at their dedicated Muster? Getting a sunbed was a nightmare. It was obvious (when at times we found some), that passengers were putting towels on them to “reserve” them and leaving them there for hours. Very annoying, and something that P&O should clamp down on. The best pool area we found was the Spa pool. Although this got more crowded as the cruise progressed. Now the “Down” sides. The atmosphere of the Bar and Deck staff on-board was very staid. There was no liveliness in them, almost like there was some unhappiness amongst them. They did their jobs ok, took drink orders, served them (very slowly at times) but that was all. There was no sense of enjoyment from them, like they were enjoying their work. There was no “fun” atmosphere. And as for the Cruise/Entertainments director, or whatever his title was, he would have been more suited to “Butlins”. Where on earth did they get him from? The layout on the ship seemed awkward. There appeared to be no “flow” through the ship. It was well into the second week before we could figure out what routes, up/down/forward/aft, we had to take to get between locations on-board. Overall we enjoyed the holiday, with some great new places visited. But as for P&O and Ventura, we’ve been spoilt by other companies. It’ll be back to Royal Caribbean for us definitely.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Our last cruise was on the Azura last January 2014 going round the Caribbean which defiantly had the Wow Factor which we though ally enjoyed enough to book another cruise with P&O & despite the Ventura being the sister ship to the ... Read More
Our last cruise was on the Azura last January 2014 going round the Caribbean which defiantly had the Wow Factor which we though ally enjoyed enough to book another cruise with P&O & despite the Ventura being the sister ship to the Azura it lacked any feel good factor. My wife enjoys sitting on deck during the day reading, whilst I usually go to any lectures, demonstrations & joining in the classes in the Gym. Considering what you pay for what you receive you used to get a massive amount of value for your money. But from talking to many other passengers there is better cruise company's out there for similar money, eg Celebrity. Sadly P&O are cutting back on what used to be all inclusive, now comes at a price attached. There are a small selection of daytime activities that are available all now with a hook!! Disguised as eg" Relieve back pain & walk in comfort" which translates to a foot insole at £119.00 a pair. Or "Back pain solutions" which translates in a Spa employee trying to flog sessions of Acupuncture at £93.00, even a gym class will cost you £5.00. If you might be interested in the Spa products, my advice is DONT, they are hugely overpriced & questionable weather they actually work or work as well as what they claim?. The food in the main buffet for breakfast & lunch is the same everyday & although you might not slag it of, you wouldn't write home about either. Passable. The quality & quantity in the main evening restaurant is ok, no more no less. We thought the Ventura is kept immaculacy clean all the time & is in reasonably good condition. Generally we enjoyed it, it was not as good as it was but nothing is, is it? Lets not forget this is a business like any other & the cost of everything keeps on escalating as it does in your weekly shopping. USEFUL TIPS & SUGGESTIONS FOR 1ST TIMERS & OTHERS. As this was our 5th cruise we are always looking at any savings we can make along the way. Eg. Don't bring your own shampoo & soap, it is supplied to you in your cabin. Although the tea on board is Twinning's which is ok I prefer my own so I bring Yorkshire tea bags. The instant coffee is Dow Egbert's which is ok. Bring 6 x 500lm empty plastic water bottles with you so you can fill them up free on board & take them assure with you. There is a 1litre electric kettle, 2 mugs & tea spoons in all cabins. Bring large food bags to make up sandwiches from the breakfast buffet to take assure, saves you buying lunch. P&O is the only cruise company I know that allows you to bring your own booze on board to drink in your cabin only, we took 6 litres of wine which was enough for a 2 week cruise, saves on the bar bill. Post cards of the ship are free at reception as many as you wont, postage is massive, take your cards assure & buy postage stamps at penny's not pounds. Get cash assure at ATM machines, the exchange rate on-board is not as good. Its a good idea to bring a spare pair of sun glasses in case you loose or break the ones you are using, they charge silly money on-board. Bring a light weight rain mac in case it rains as it sometimes does. Bring a beach bag for carrying your book etc from your cabin to the sun deck. If you have a inside cabin bring a small torch as its pitch black at night for finding your way to the loo. The photographs are £11.20 each on board, bring your own camera. Photocopy your passports & keep them with you at all times when assure in the unlikely event of you missing the ship you will have ID especially if the next stop is a different country. Always get a statement of your account half way though your cruise so you stay on top of what you are spending. Have a good look at your account & make sure all the items tally with your recites. Its a long story but they messed up big time with our statement in compensation they gave us a free meal in White Restaurant. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
As first time cruisers, we'd have appreciated more information before leaving the UK regarding known differences between standard package holidays and cruises. The embarkation process was slick and well organised, and we were well ... Read More
As first time cruisers, we'd have appreciated more information before leaving the UK regarding known differences between standard package holidays and cruises. The embarkation process was slick and well organised, and we were well looked after on board - though frequently felt rushed when eating. P&O don't police the sun-beds and don't remove towels left unattended (and reserving beds). Therefore it can be difficult (if not impossible) to find any beds after about 9.30am - and certainly insufficient for a family group together on an "at sea" day. Time in ports was too limited - the majority of the excursions felt rushed. The main issues we encountered were to do with disembarkation. Reception staff were ill-informed (and on one occasion just plain rude). We eventually discovered that there was provision for leaving hand-baggage on our last day prior to a lunchtime disembarkation so we could have time ashore without it. Other passengers who had cruised with P&O before knew this was the case - why didn't their own staff? AND HAVING TO GO TO THE AIRPORT OVER 4 AND A HALF HOURS PRIOR TO THE HOMEWARD FLIGHT (the airport being no more than 20 minutes from the port) WAS TOTALLY RIDICULOUS!! It was clear to us (and other passengers we spoke to) that all P&O wanted to do was get rid of us as soon as possible to be able to concentrate on the inbound passengers.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We love cruising, but I wouldn't cruise with Ventura again. We had a lovely holiday, but we had great expectations sine we have been cruising for years. I took my 21 yr old daughter and my 3 yr old granddaughter with me. Flew from ... Read More
We love cruising, but I wouldn't cruise with Ventura again. We had a lovely holiday, but we had great expectations sine we have been cruising for years. I took my 21 yr old daughter and my 3 yr old granddaughter with me. Flew from manchester to Venice was fine, they took cases at airport and they arrived straight into our cabin. check in was easy and fine. Cabin with balcony was fine but the bunk bed for a 3 yr old not suitable as she fell out, it is too open and also rattled all night, so I spend a cramped week with her in my bed. I am used the great service on P&O cruises sadly not on the Ventura. We were given Freedom dining - given a pager and waited ages for table - got too late to eat, waiters looked harrased and hurried us, forgot our bread, service was bad. Childs food was like something from Mcdonalds but not as good, & arrived when We were having our desert. Quality of food and service were not good. TRy the East restaurant ..you have to pay but it was excellent, Beach hut is also very good but you have to pay-if you want the quality and service you have to pay extra. Theatre was good, pools around kids area although very deep and you need to be with them all the time, are nice and warm, but you need to get early for a sun bed, Kids thought kids club too boring..hence no kids in there - which was one reason for taking our little one. Venice was lovely - you need to pay for boat to get there, but was lovely, as were most of the ports. Instead of waiting and trying to find table at the buffet - we just took trays back to cabin it was easier. British sail away was good fun. Beach hut and East for food although it costs. if you have a small child be aware of the bunks. Don't expect 5 star - you won't get it. TRy Oriana instead although adults only. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I really don't know where to start! We had really looked forward to this cruise, it was our 10th Wedding anniversary and was a special cruise to celebrate. We were so happy when we arrived, we'd paid extra to have a deluxe ... Read More
I really don't know where to start! We had really looked forward to this cruise, it was our 10th Wedding anniversary and was a special cruise to celebrate. We were so happy when we arrived, we'd paid extra to have a deluxe balcony cabin as it was a celebration, well we regretted it pretty soon. We had a bath as well as a shower in the cabin, although the first night we used the bath, the water couldn't wash away as the plug was stuck and it wasn't going to budge, well we went for the evening meal and when we came back and the beds had been turned down, the bath was still full of water, the room steward had just left it, we spoke to reception and they said it would be dealt with (this unfortunately happened 4 times during our stay in this room which really was poor). My husband actually put a crumb on the floor to see if the room was hoovered, well a week later it was still there! We had net curtains removed from the balcony doors on day 2 and it took us a week to get them returned and had to shut the main curtains every day to keep the room from frying, no explanation for them being taken away for so long, all we got was they had a tear in them! The room steward thought I was in the room alone and wouldn't go away until he heard my husband shouting from the bathroom, he really didn't get the hint and I was standing in my bathrobe. On the second night, Black Tie Night we paid extra to go in the Marco Pierre White restaurant, it was outside under the stars and was lovely, we sat with all the others who had paid extra for the privilege only to find a couple of teenagers were allowed in with football t-shirt and shorts on, his partner had dressed nicely but we were all disappointed, it was Black Tie night, how did he manage to get in passed the restaurant manager, we all felt very fed up about it, but nothing was done, this wouldn't have happened on a Royal Caribbean ship! The entertainment was varied, the shows were a little tedious and some were really good like the comedians and musicians, the dancers did really well. The dining room was very busy always, we had freedom dining which was great, but whenever we went for dinner we had to wait quite a while to eat, the waiters nearly bash you on the head with trays, rush off to serve other tables whilst you're trying to tell them what you'd like, it wasn't very good at all. The destinations were amazing, we were so happy and tried not to let the poor room get us down. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I have cruised twice before with NCL - the Epic (fabulous) and the Jade (very good). However I chose P&O this time as my 80 year old mum was coming with us and I thought the british slant on the ship would be more preferable for her. ... Read More
I have cruised twice before with NCL - the Epic (fabulous) and the Jade (very good). However I chose P&O this time as my 80 year old mum was coming with us and I thought the british slant on the ship would be more preferable for her. My overall comments are that going with P&O was the right choice for this reason. The passengers were mostly british and lovely, the dining room food was good, the boat was beautifully clean, absolutely loved the entertainment on stage and in the show bar (comedians especially - Peter Piper!!) and there was little to moan about. However, in my short holiday career in cruising, i know I am still up for a good time, to live it up a little, and see a bit of glitz and glam on board as well as the stop-off's. So this is where Ventura was lacking for me. It was clearly targetted towards the 'older' cruisers. The other bug-bear was the formal dining. I totally understand two of the nights were for dinner jackets and long dresses, but those who chose not to dress up were forced to eat in the buffet - which was basically a good canteen. The ship should at least put aside one dining room for those not wanting the pomp. Finally - the bar staff. They were miserable. No attempt was made to strike up any guest chit chat / relationship etc with regular customers - they just served the drinks with an 'i'm at work' face. To conclude, for the young and younger at heart, I would stick with NCL and (so I understand) RCL and Carnival. As a couple, we were just 10 - 15 years too early for P&O, but it was great for my mum at 80. However I would consider sailing with them again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We booked a fly cruise and BA schedule flights were included. Sadly we flew into Nice and had to transfer by coach to Genoa, but it was ferry well handled and check in was good. The ship itself was lovely, clean and attractive with lots ... Read More
We booked a fly cruise and BA schedule flights were included. Sadly we flew into Nice and had to transfer by coach to Genoa, but it was ferry well handled and check in was good. The ship itself was lovely, clean and attractive with lots of attention to detail. The atrium is nice and the pool deck is lovely. I did find it a little difficult to navigate, and other cruisers seemed to be having the same problem, but I think it's probably due to the amount of port time meaning we probably didn't pay enough attention! We were (fortunately) allocated Freedom dining - if we had been given 6.30 dining we would never have eaten in the MDR! We ate in Saffron on 3 occasions and had a table on our own which we didn't have to wait long for. The food was nice, portions a little small (and I am a small person!), but a good selection and tasty. The only negative was that it was badly served - put the spoon down from your starter and your main appears! I know they can't give you lots of time, but 5 minutes wouldn't go amiss! Dining also finishes quite early - go in after 9pm and they want you gone! We really enjoyed The Beach House, but it was very difficult to get a table unless you arrived early. One night we were turned away at 7.30 with the "we are full for the rest of the night"! I think this is a sign of how good the place is, and the service is remarkable (unlike the lack lustre experience in the MDR.) Personally we disliked the buffet greatly. The selection was limited and badly laid out. There were quite a lot of tables and it wasn't too noisy/busy, just a very poor selection in our eyes: and I always thought I was easy to please when it came to food! The Pizza Bar and Grill were good, but the Pizza Bar was closed for 3 days which was very disappointing considering how bad the buffet selections were. In hindsight we should have used the MDR for lunch, but on Port Days we were out and during sea days we were sunning/swimming so not MDR appropriate! There is a very large selection of bars, though due to the World Cup we mostly visited the Exchange which we enjoyed - quite like the quizzes and karaoke too! There are also quite a few deck bars which were lovely on the warm evenings. The Headliners entertainment was brilliant! We are early 30s and are normally more Stone Roses than musical extravaganza, but the quality was really good. We also enjoyed Will Martin (a guest artist) - he was very talented and entertaining. There was a comedian, mind reader, singers, and a Gary Barlow tribute through the week, none of which appealed to us. The balcony room we had was lovely and a decent size and well looked after. There is a steam and sauna in the mens and womens changing rooms near the oasis pool which are free to use. We managed to find sun beds on sea days, though there is a massive problem with people reserving beds - literally all day and not using them! They show a few films (Monuments Men and Grudge Match) in the lovely Arena Theatre, and also in the Havana Bar (Winters Tale and something else that was that bad I have wiped it from my memory!) They did Bingo, but done expect much energy or entertainment from it! We did a P&O Venice trip that included a gondola ride. It was well presented and informative and worth the money. Word of warning though - take a bottle of water with you, don't moan about them not being provided for you! Overall: - We loved the transfers, Entertainment, The Beach House, our room, the Ports, the pools and hot tubs, the kettle! - we didn't like the dining situation, the lack of availability of the beach house, the closure of the pizza bar, the fact there is no ice cream in the buffet, that you only get one "complimentary" snack per Costa coffee. - we hated the buffet, the fact that the casino closed early, and the very rude and ignorant passengers we sadly encountered on several occasions. Sadly, despite all the positives I would only book another P&O cruise if it was an absolute bargain or going somewhere I really wanted to go. I am not a fan of the class-based fare system, the way freedom diners are treated, the inflexibility of P&O to work with their brand to accommodate the next generation of cruiser as well as comfortably fit with their existing "fan base", and the terrible dining offerings. A cruise on the med with late port departures requires later dining and entertainment and isn't suited to the "traditional" style of P&O. The Ventura is a fab ship that is perfect for the med, but it doesn't feel like it's being operated in a way that's conducive with it's location. I would like to point out though that despite our gripes we had a lovely time as we do on every holiday, and we met some wonderful people. I think it was more that we didn't fit with P&O: we were lucky to have a lovely ship with some lovely staff going to some amazing places so in that respect I am glad we went.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
After a very early start getting to Manchester airport for 3.30am checking in the car and for the flight went very smoothly, the flight at a ridicules time of 6.20am. The charter flight with Thomson left on time .I did feel that as this ... Read More
After a very early start getting to Manchester airport for 3.30am checking in the car and for the flight went very smoothly, the flight at a ridicules time of 6.20am. The charter flight with Thomson left on time .I did feel that as this was the start of my holiday with P.O they could have laid on at least a cup of tea/ coffee instead of having to pay £2.50. On arrival in Venice P.O were vey organised and soon we were on coaches for the short journey to the Ventura, that is when the chaos started with so many flights arriving together nobody seemed to be charge and it took over an hour to embark. Having been on the Ventura before we thought that the evening entertainment would be good, that first night proved the opposite in most of the venues around the ship tables and chairs had been placed on the dance floors making it difficult to dance and enjoy the bands this was I presume to sell more booze. Ports of call were good again if you had taken the early bird saver you were on your own with regards to any shuttle service except when they docked in a nasty part of the docks otherwise they tried to rip you off. Good points. Sea day dance classes with Penny and Ian teaching basic routines and putting a lot of effort into the evening entertainment in the atrium. A couple of the party nights with resident bands were very good. Bad points. All evening entertainment seemed to stop for breaks at the same time . Dining in the main dining room was a bit rushed and tables not always prepared properly. The buffet was a bit of hit and miss with tables not cleared food was not labelled (for vegetarians ) .No fresh fruit was readily available and begrudged when asked for. I felt that the staff were not trained to the high standard that you expect . So would I cruise again with P.O having cruised with Carnival. R.C.I and Princess there would have to be a marked improvement in quality and less cutting corners. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
When I booked this cruise I had low expectations and so was not disappointed. The check in was wonderful and not having to claim our luggage on arrival was a real bonus. Transfers and embarkation were smooth and efficient and at this point ... Read More
When I booked this cruise I had low expectations and so was not disappointed. The check in was wonderful and not having to claim our luggage on arrival was a real bonus. Transfers and embarkation were smooth and efficient and at this point i was beginning to think that I was wrong to have low expectations. However, my thoughts were soon shattered. As our cabin was not ready we made our way to the Lido deck 15. Having been travelling for some time I needed a comfort break and this is the point where things started to go downhill. The ladies toilet to say the least were dirty and bearing in mind norovirus they were a health hazard and I chose not to use them, my husband said the gents were also dirty. Our Cabin... on arrival I pleasantly surprised it was roomy with plenty of hanging space, the bathroom was small but this was not an issue and the kettle was a definite bonus. Again I was in for disappointment I opened the cupboard by the dressing table to find hairs in it!!!! not acceptable and when I ran my fingers over the surfaces there was a layer of dust everywhere. Food... this was not outstanding and lacked in choice as for the eating area on the Lido deck this was small and cramped. At no one time were all the machines at any of the coffee stations working, and there was no ice for your water. In the evening we ate in Cinamon but we were never asked if the meal was ok or if they could get us anything else, most nights I had to ask for my water glass to be refilled. Ice cream was charged for I did not like this Shows were on the whole good but the comedian was excellent. Sunbathing again I was glad I had low expectations only 1 towel per person in the cabin and no towels on deck. I am a swimmer and swim at 7am each morning so before the day started my towel was wet!! Our Cabin steward Gnash did get us extra towels because of this but i did not like the fact I had to ask for this. The sunloungers were packed so close together you need to be a contortionist to get on & off them The shops were uninspiring and this is the first cruise I have been on and not bought anything from the shops. Disembarkation this again was a plus as we did not see our cases from when we put them out on the last night until we landed in the UK On the whole PO you could do better especially in the cleanliness but we would consider sailing with you again   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first cruise with P&O and it was a bit of a curate's egg, after a series of little disappointments, we came away feeling rather underwhelmed. This is a fly cruise but we got the full budget airline experience, being ... Read More
This was our first cruise with P&O and it was a bit of a curate's egg, after a series of little disappointments, we came away feeling rather underwhelmed. This is a fly cruise but we got the full budget airline experience, being charged extra to sit with the person you are going with is a real bugbear, the charge could just as easily be made upfront. Our plane got changed and although we had booked seats with extra legroom, we did not get them in the change. We had a very easy processing, with pretty much everything to schedule. P&O want you to be at the airport three hours before the flight which for us appears excessive, perhaps they have had enough problems in the past to make this necessary. The luggage found its way to and from our cabin with no problems. Perhaps the only issue was the embarkation procedure. There were around 20 check in desks, and once you got to them it all went very smoothly, however everyone had to queue up to put their bags on a table, decide if they wanted a photograph taken and then collect their bags. Considering there could be three photographers waiting at a gangplank trying to take your photograph when you were going into a port but only one photographer on the way in for processing, this could have been thought out more carefully. The room was very nice, well decorated with a decent sized shower, though see our cabin comments. Our cabin steward did a good job of keeping the room under control when she could. Of the seven nights and six full days we were there, there was no time for the turndown service on three nights, one day the room was not cleaned and on a second we had to vacate the room to get things done. This certainly was not because the stewardess was not working hard, perhaps this was her first week and she had not got the routine down but it seems more likely that the ship is understaffed with too many people being asked to do just a bit too much. You could see the same issues elsewhere. One of the security computers seemed to be off all week. When over three thousand people could be trying to get off the ship you would think that that is would have been a high priority (it is just a couple of extra computers as back up). The reception staff were always on edge, and while the waiting staff did there jobs courteously and efficiently, there was no question of 'going the extra mile'. Smiles not forced but the were few and far between. There is no attempt to hide the fact that we are there to buy things, Almost any event that was unlikely to lead to somebody making a purchase seemed to be 'unhosted', the days events that were strongly advertised (apart from the shows) were basically spa treatments or photography purchases and while the captain's announcements were not broadcast into the rooms, the entertainments director did 'push' his events. To be fair the cinema's options were up to date films which critically acclaimed. But the biggest let down was the food. We were on freedom dining and as long as you were not too concerned about table size this seemed to work okay. The restaurant was surprisingly noisy and on a large table you could only comfortably talk to near neighbours. The food was disappointing. Some of it was the menu, soup with say paprika and croutons came without, cheese and biscuits with... came without. Sometimes it was the waiters, if you did not mention something on the menu you would not be reminded, so salad without salad dressing. But most of the time it seemed to be the ingredients, custard without milk, scones without butter, devilled kidneys without mustard. Sometimes it was just the lack of cooking time (scones again). There was something wrong on almost every plate. There are the upgrade restaurants that Carnival seem to like but we did not try them (and by the number of special offers that were being pushed perhaps no one was). Our solution was the themed buffets. Careful selection of what was on offer did not always work of course but you could avoid the more obvious disasters. Of course, it was possible to find some quite good food, the dal on Tandoor night was very good for example. (Another trick was to go for obviously bought in stuff). We did go on one excursion, this of itself was reasonably executed but one of the sites chosen was in the throes of restoration and the other had us arriving when the area we had come to visit had just about closed down, so another let down on the planning. Despite the size of the ship it did not seem all that difficult to move about and there never seemed to be long queues. No deck plans were provided but you were given a side on plan, most of the time this works okay. Reading back over this review, I appreciate that some people will feel that this is a bit nitpicking. Some people on the cruise seemed to share our views, others were having a good time. I suppose that it all depends upon what you have experienced elsewhere and what you are used to. There is no doubt with more investment in the people, both staff and passengers, the Ventura has the makings of being a very good cruising experience, but it has not made it yet. Whether that is where Carnival want to take the brand or not we will have to wait and see. Perhaps just bobbing along is where they want to be.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Went on this cruise to celebrate my 60th birthday, and my husband's birthday. The cabin was a Superior Deluxe balcony, which could have done with a carpet shampoo. The bathroom was ideal as my husband can't use a shower, so the ... Read More
Went on this cruise to celebrate my 60th birthday, and my husband's birthday. The cabin was a Superior Deluxe balcony, which could have done with a carpet shampoo. The bathroom was ideal as my husband can't use a shower, so the bath was great. The wardrobe was open..unusual for any I had seen before. The balcony looked as though it never gets cleaned, as we could hardly see through it. My husband started to clean it, and the people up above asked him to do theirs as well!!! Room service proved to be a bit of a problem, as we were not told when they were going to come to the cabin, and we waited in most of the day! The entertainment was 80% good, apart from a stand up comedian who managed to get rid of the audience faster than fill it! The food was not particularly great. If you don't mind what you eat, then you'd be ok with it. One night it was Antipasti, and we got three types of Italian meat just rolled up and put on the plate with a few small bits of bread! Cock-a-leekie soup seemed to contain prunes! Dining room staff and cabin staff were great. If you love to have your photo taken then you'll love this ship. Personally they were a pain in the neck. They jumped in front of my husband, knowing he had a walking stick, and tried to stop him. When he didn't we got a remark from one, which should never have come from anyone in the crew. Some of the trips were expensive for what you actually got. The restaurants were not ideally laid out, as people were putting towels and bags on the seats to book them in order to be able to sit down after getting their meal. The theatre was not easy to get a seat in, as people were again putting bags on the seats next to them, to book them for their friends. On the days where formal dress was required, we went to the restaurant to have our dinner, and afterwards to a show. as it was packed, my husband being disabled took his jacket and bow tie off as he was extremely hot. We went from there to the 'Red Bar' and went and sat down next to another couple, due to lack of seats. We got our drinks, then about 30mins later, the waiter came up to my husband to tell him that someone had complained my husband was not wearing his jacket. He told the waiter that because of having an artificial leg, he gets very warm and had to take his jacket off, although he still had it with him. He told him he would have to put his jacket on, and my husband refused. The bar manager then came over to tell him he needed to put on his jacket, and my husband reitterated what he had tol the waiter, adding that there was a person sitting across from us with a T shirt and jeans. He left it at that saying that they had not served that person. My husband went to the cabin and I went to complain at reception, whereby I met the bar manager, who apologized profusely about the situation. He said that he had a word with his staff and it would not happen again. Friends of ours were on free dining, therefore did not need to wear formal clothes, and went to the 'Red Bar' and were served, then after a short time were told to drink up as they were not suitably dressed. The sign entering the bar was very small, and insignificant. Some of the trips appeared to be overly expensive for what you got. As we got to the end of our trip, we went to the gangway at 7.30am on the morning we were leaving as we had to vacate our cabin at that time, and as independent travellers we had our taxi the same as a number of others, booked for 8am. We were told by Security that we would need to leave after 9-9.30am after all the others waiting on bus transfers had gone. We went to reception, where they said we would need to wait on the announcement. The ship had been docked since the day before, so all quarantine checks etc had been done, so nothing should have stopped us getting off the ship. After quite a number of people were getting quite distraught at possibly missing their taxi transfer to the airport, we were told that we could get off the ship. It was a good cruise, but I would give P&O a miss in the future, as it was not my type of ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was our first trip to the Caribbean and our first on Ventura although we are experienced cruisers in other locations and on other ships, including Azura. Ventura itself is a nice ship, nothing special and it seems to fall in the gap ... Read More
This was our first trip to the Caribbean and our first on Ventura although we are experienced cruisers in other locations and on other ships, including Azura. Ventura itself is a nice ship, nothing special and it seems to fall in the gap of not managing to quite cater for anybody specifically. In terms of the evening entertainment if musical theatre and lounge music is your thing then you will be well catered for, otherwise forget it. It's all well and good advertising as being family friendly but P&O seem to forget that most families have a dad and there is very little about the P&O on board experience suited to your average 30-40 something man. In the same way because everything is a little more relaxed the older guests aren't exactly happy either. You do get the odd bit of general entertainment, we had Manuel Martinez, a mind reader and a ventriloquist over our 2 week cruise but these are few and far between compared to the 3-4 times a night solo/lounge singing onslaught. They are also packed out 30-40 minutes before they start due to people looking for something different. We enjoyed the food on Ventura and chose to eat in our allocated main dining room most nights. In the past we were firm favourites of the buffets on other ships but the table limitations on Ventura made the whole buffet experience a bit of a pain, especially if you wanted to eat together. And that isn't even going in to the rudeness of some of the other guests on board, I'll save that for later. Generally speaking all the waiting on staff were superb and the drinks waiters in the various public areas did a good job of getting to you when you wanted a drink. In each location we'd built a reputation where staff new what we wanted without us needing to ask, you can't fault that level of service. I can see why some people could get annoyed by being asked if they wanted a drink but then again we don't go on holiday to sit nursing the same glass of water for 3 hours whilst we wait for the next free bit of entertainment. By far the best bit of this holiday for us was the ports, all delivered more than we expected. For the most part we'd arranged our own trips to avoid the cattle truck trips organised by P&O although we did slip up and I had to order a last minute P&O trip in Grenada. It was the only bad experience we had ashore during the whole holiday (90 minutes each way up mountain paths on a fold out chair). Highlights included snorkelling around Klein Bonair (on the Woodwind, a nice sailing boat) and our island trip around St Lucia with Spencer Ambrose tours. You can't compare the trips offered on board to organising a private trip for both value and experience. Don't be fooled by the "miss the ship" scare tactics, in all the cruises we've done we've never found a local operator that wasn't extremely conscious of when your ship was leaving and making extra sure to get you back in good time. At this point it was a solid 4 out of 5 cruise but what knocked it back and the reason I wouldn't step foot on another P&O cruise ship if I was paid to was the other guests. Despite the family friendly/relaxed cruising marketing that P&O is trying to establish their ships are still rammed with a generation of cruise guests that the sooner they are gone the better. Just some highlights, we witnessed guests clicking their fingers at staff in the dining room, addressing staff as "you boy", a talk on Concorde we walked past included the gem "you can't trust foreign johnnies" to much laughter and applause from the gathered geriatrics. We saw other adults being asked to leave the endless pool so that older guests could doggy paddle in peace. Children being shouted at by older guests in the main pools. Waiters completely ignored when greeting people for dinner. People running into lifts with some sort of over inflated sense of entitlement in front of the people who had called the lift. Then there were the ladies of a certain age at the buffet who seemed to have their elbows permanently out and have no concept of waiting in line. We aren't snobs by any stretch of the imagination but the total lack of basic manners and to a certain degree racism shown was appalling. Not so much Butlins at Sea as Ignorant Old People Who Think They Have Paid For The Right To Abuse People At Sea. There wasn't a day that passed where we didn't wonder exactly what we had let ourselves in for. Traditional British cruising you say? That's why we'll not be going back. My understanding is that the Ventura and Azura were designed to be affordable in a way of attracting new cruise customers, from my experience on both ships it seems that all they've done is attract the worst of the bargain hunting older generation who just can't help themselves in feeling entitled to something better whilst walking around like they have bought the ship. We will be going back to the Caribbean sooner rather than later, but not with P&O.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
I decided to take mum away as last year was pretty grotty and having been onboard Ventura before and to Caribbean once this cruise suited. The 8 hour flight was bearable followed by quick transfer to bus for 40 min trip to ship followed ... Read More
I decided to take mum away as last year was pretty grotty and having been onboard Ventura before and to Caribbean once this cruise suited. The 8 hour flight was bearable followed by quick transfer to bus for 40 min trip to ship followed by our luggage. The luggage arrived abour 530 and the safety briefing was at 6pm so we didnt have time to unpack , in fact straight after the briefing we had to go to dinner as we opted for 1st sitting. This was all too rushed in our opinion and the best option by far would be getting on the day earlier as a lot did and then disembarking the day the ship arrives back in barbados. We found the itinery of 9 ports in 14 days ideal , 3 ports then sea day is perfect and the docking position Ventura has was fantastic in all ports. We did notice a definate smaller portion size in meals compared to last time onboard. The entertainment was good , with quizzes in the exchange and on top deck entertaining. We only booked 2 excursions , beach trip in Curacao and the Rhum Runner in Grenada and thought they were both excellent value for money , £25 & £40. One thing i did notice was staff trying to sell you East and The White Room as " They quickly sell out" but after a couple of days offers were available of a free bottle of wine at both venues if dining before 7 Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
OK, arrived for flight with plenty of time to spare, checked in and was then informed there was a 1 hour delay! We boarded the flight to the new time, and almost when ready, the baggage handlers noticed some damage to the baggage door of ... Read More
OK, arrived for flight with plenty of time to spare, checked in and was then informed there was a 1 hour delay! We boarded the flight to the new time, and almost when ready, the baggage handlers noticed some damage to the baggage door of the aircraft. This resulted in an on aircraft delay of another hour. Safety 1st though, no need to take chances. Arrived in Barbados, the transfer of passengers is very efficient without immigrating. The check-in process was smoother than I've had before. Our allocated cabin was E506. On entering, the room was substandard for cleanliness, to say the least. I believe the cabin had been vacant for some time. There was dust everywhere, and the hem of the shower curtain was filthy. We rang for housekeeping, as the toilet also didn't flush. There was sediment in the bowl, but that seemed to appear in all the bowls around the ship!!! The room steward arrived and gave the room a thorough clean, and maintenance arrived to attend to the toilet flush. This took about an hour, and totally ruined our arrival, and negated any chance of enjoying the early arrival opportunities. As we readied for dinner, it was darkening outside and we put the lights on. Well, the ones that worked anyway. Another visit to reception followed, and maintenance sorted the bulb issue whilst we were at dinner. Finally, a chance to unpack, and just on completion, the boom boom of music from below became overwhelming. Now, i'm in my 40's and like music, but the volume with bass tones from the Tamarind Club below was well excessive. This was now 9.30pm, again to reception i went. I was handled with my request to change cabin by Front of House manager Avi, and after a little while, was re-allocated to exact room standard E625, over the photo gallery. Nice and quiet, but is hampered by the staff service door directly across the corridor. Basically, it appears there is no check list for management to oversee new arrivals, and room standard is left to the steward. Now to the cruise itself, the ship was well undermanned with passengers. Strong rumours suggested 1000 under capacity (500 cabins), however, this meant that all the venues on board could be easily accessed without having to beat the herd that roams between shows. The shows are predominantly catered for passengers a generation older than me in my opinion. Music catered for is generally 1960s 70s. The exchange was the best all round atmosphere but could do with an artist some times to break up the monotonous thing of quizzes and bingo!! Generally, the staff try hard in what is a difficult marketplace, as the retired set can make these cruises more easily than the working man/woman. P&O need to keep better abreast of their information sourcing. The internet gave this cruise as 4 formal nights, which was reduced to 3 for some reason. There was many passengers that had booked this as a vantage fare, and were stunned at the number of passengers that had got the cruise for under £1000. Many said they would not book early again, but would wait until the last available minute they could. I will do the same. It's not pleasant to know that people booked less than a week before sailing and got balcony cabins for far less than people paid for insides. One great aspect, Ventura has for this winter season been given 2 freedom dining restaurants. If it is successful, it could be extended fully. To summarise, some shortcomings for me, late bookers getting balconies, persistent sell, sell, sell is annoying, 5pm departures when it fell around shore excursions lead to 6pm (booking info gave 6pm every day), Some positives, availabilty of drinks choice, 2 restaurants freedom dining & comfortable venues, sunbathing etc. I feel that P&O should look at introducing a drinks package. I've sailed with Costa, and at 19.5 euros a day is excellent. Something like this would keep all the venues busy most of the day. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My Auntie Joan and Uncle Gordon always swore that there was not other cruise line to be considered except P&O so when my husband booked a holiday on the Ventura for our first wedding anniversary I was really excited. Although I had ... Read More
My Auntie Joan and Uncle Gordon always swore that there was not other cruise line to be considered except P&O so when my husband booked a holiday on the Ventura for our first wedding anniversary I was really excited. Although I had cruised before I had not been on P&O one. We were delighted at the free coach to take us down to Southampton which saved time,money and driving and the check in was relatively trouble free. Finding out cabin was easy and our luggage was already there for us and the cabin was great but would have been improved by adding a comfy chair. Service throughout the ship was generally good and the good was excellant and we found no need to visit the specialist restaurants which always seemed empty anyway so obviously others agreed with us! P&O has kept their reputation of formal evenings. I well remember my aunt;s first cruise and the excitement of buying the dinner suit and dresses and this was well enforced this time, even to the extent that we were asked to leave, non too politely, from one bar as my husband had removed his jacket (I had spilt red wine down it) even though I was still obviously in evening dress and the bar manager was rude and beligerant. However this standard of etiquette was not carried through with passenger behaviour with children running riot around the ship, racing to get drinks and screaming around the corridors. One one occasion were were enjoying one of the vocalists when a group of people began screaming to each other across the bar with no respect for the performers or other passengers yet no one asked these people to behave. There were precious little room to sit outside where others were not smoking or not on a sunbed and the smell of cigarette smoke was so bad it permeated the ship in many areas. Areas and activities were not well advertised. We did not know about the free saunas; the glass house was advertised as an exclusive area with a cover charge of £30 but in fact only a portion of it was reserved for diners with a cover charge of just over £6.00 and the bar area was extremely nice - pity we only found it on day 12!!! One fellow passenger had been on the ship on three occasions and did not know about it! I would have loved to look around the "inside" of the ship but at a charge of £75 per person to pay for a person's time who is already there was extortion personified. As for fellow passengers I did rather feel that we had been transported to Butlins on the Sea rather than Butlins by the sea and on occasions the family interactions could be liken to Jeremy Kyle's Green Room. Organisation for getting on and off the ship and disembarkation were excellent and they seemed to have learned a great deal about people movement from Disney so no complaints here. However, I am afraid to say Aunty Joan, the past aura the P&O is sadly in the past and I don't think we will travel with them again. On the last note - compliments to the Chef as the food was exceptionally good and Sharon who looked after us was a delight. As for interior design - get a new one - the buffet rooms were lovely, other were a very dark sea of red and brown and depressing! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Picked a mini cruise as a cheaper alternative than flying to Bruges (with airport travel, hotels etc it's very affordable method to just take the mini-cruise!). We've been on Azura for a week to Norway so knew what to expect. ... Read More
Picked a mini cruise as a cheaper alternative than flying to Bruges (with airport travel, hotels etc it's very affordable method to just take the mini-cruise!). We've been on Azura for a week to Norway so knew what to expect. Plus we had a £100 voucher to use up. So-- it's good, considering what you pay. Having an inside cabin (what's the point of a balcony on such a short trip?), we were please with the accommodation. Actually felt larger than I had prepared for. Good dressing area and the shower isn't terribly tight (and I'm a big lad!. Fellow guests were fine in the main although it's going to be the case that on these trips you get people who would never normally cruise and that includes a large number of parties (stag/hen/birthday). The atmosphere on deck is extremely different and largely about drinking. Neither of us drink and to be honest we found that a little off-putting. Having sailed on the sister ship we knew the tricks (such as head away from main areas, eat in the alternative restaurant near the buffet for free and go straight to the bar on the top deck for drinks)- all the things others may not work out until later in their trip. Makes for a comfortable spacious experience. Embarkation was fine as was finding Bruges at the other end. I'd worried about the complication but need not have. You take the free shuttle to Blankenburg and from there buy a very affordable return train ticket to Bruges (at the weekend that was 4euro each!). Fab dual deck trains- quite fun. And to be honest everyone else is doing the same so follow the crowd! From Bruges station its a 20 minute walk to the tourist area which is fine on foot. Not sure this is one for the wheelchair user (that might be a silly assumption, so do your own homework on that). Bruges itself is a beauty. Despite the rain, river trip (about 8euro I think) and listening to the bells in the square was a perfect little day out. Ventura itself is fine. Very clean. Lovely areas. Hated the Glasshouse (because it's so beautiful on Azura and here it's just a half converted area that lacks style entirely). Food a problem in Glasshouse, not up to par with previous experience. Standard Freedom restaurant was fine. I'm sure everyone's said it before but with party-people onboard (some of whom are bored onboard!) this isn't a quiet and relaxing trip. IF you have an edge of snobbery about you (be fair, some of us do!), you're going to freak out a little. I saw one couple making use of the Retreat area-- could have done that in better weather to escape entirely. However, nobody was drunk to the point of illness (that I saw) and it was all in the aim of good fun. I might never forget being approached by a young lady and being asked for a smoke while she interrogated me about the destination however--- "Bruges, so is that in Europe-- Is South America in Europe--- so are we passing Ireland???" I am guessing she might not have been travelling for the sake of getting anywhere. My advice in summary: Don't take a mini-cruise to experience cruising. Do take a mini-cruise to get to a fine city for the weekend and leave your normal world behind for a bit. Top marks to P&O for the important things (feeding us all, cleaning the ship, having some fun). Do take the kids- what an amazing weekend for them, it's still very exciting to take a little trip like this. Only true complaint and it's a tiny one: We are AA so we really like the mocktails in the Metropolis bar. Why take their menu away on the mini-cruise and replace it with only alcohol? Well, we know why-- to keep them all drinking. To be fair it was brought on request but taken away again every time we'd ordered. Odd. Would we sail P&O again-- maybe. We're a bit bored of it after two experiences (Venture and Azura) and we might be the kind of people seeking something more refined. Cunard is next on the list (following an amazing Crystal, one terrible MSC, three 'ok' NCL and two average P&O). PS- I'm gluten intollerant and found everythind I needed (this time!) Oh... and if you are having a hen do-- go for it, looks like a giggle x   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Well, we did not learn from an awful P&O med cruise two years ago1 we have just returned from our second and LAST cruise. The Ventura ship was interesting with lots of activity areas such as pools, bars, show rooms etc, cabin small but ... Read More
Well, we did not learn from an awful P&O med cruise two years ago1 we have just returned from our second and LAST cruise. The Ventura ship was interesting with lots of activity areas such as pools, bars, show rooms etc, cabin small but with a balcony adequate, crew with a couple of miserable exceptions were very good , friendly and fun, especially at my efforts at Hindi and Phillapino. but as with our last effort the big let down was the quality of the food, so bad in fact that we ate in the paying restaurants which added to the overall cost. The breakfasts in the buffet were very good with a big selection, quite a job though to learn where to go on board. There was an organised tour around the Ship, for the pricely sum of only £75, yes £75, totally ridiculous!! The shore trips were fantastic but ranged from The Rock Revealed at £70 each, to An Introduction to Rome at £105 each, 7 trips to go on, the Barcelona trip ruined by a hopeless Tour Guide, we would have been better off without her. What really struck us the most was the standard of most of the passengers! how many of them were able to afford the cruise was a mystery, we summed it up as BUTLINS ON SEA.!!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We embarked from Southampton and as always check in quite well organised and quickly on board - apart from a technical glitch at the check in terminals but can't be helped. Proceeded to our cabin only to be greeted by a cabin full of ... Read More
We embarked from Southampton and as always check in quite well organised and quickly on board - apart from a technical glitch at the check in terminals but can't be helped. Proceeded to our cabin only to be greeted by a cabin full of visitors who were being shown round the ship! They proceeded to tell US how much we had paid for the cabin (the lady doing the tour had told them how much) before disappearing. They were soon followed by another group ..... anyway it seems we were "too early" for the cabin and had to endure countless people wandering round the room before we got it all to ourselves. Anyway, that out the way - we were disappointed with the size of the room - half the size of the equivalent one on RCI. Having said that, bathroom was a great size with a spa bath and large shower. I will just list the rest of the points I want to make to avoid rambling on: - cabin staff wonderful and very attentive and a joy to have around - cabin clean and well maintained - facilities in the cabin great - coffee machine, endless tea and coffee making products and biscuits - restaurant staff brilliant and service faultless - food in Bay Tree restaurant amazing and loved every meal - ports we visited were lovely and although cut short on two occasions (3.30 pm departures) were pleasant. Can't comment on excursions as we went solo. - drinks a reasonable cost and comparable to a normal pub price - didn't really encounter problem obtaining sun lounger however they are crammed in so close to each other you have to get on and off the end unless you are crafty enough to move it and put a table between you and the next one - gym facilities were great although disappointed there was only a couple of classes available and no Zumba as previous cruisers had mentioned Negatives: - unless you like art lectures/wandering round the few shops on board/playing bingo there is not much to do on board for adults. The gym was a godsend as on sea days I would have been climbing the walls. - the Ventura is advertised as a family ship - there were adequate facilities for the younger children but (and I do realise that older teens are hard to entertain anyway) there seemed to be a lot of mid teens running about the ship, sitting on the stairs, generally mooching about - my son had a look at the entertainment for his age group (he is 14) and none of it had any kind of appeal to him. Whilst I realise this is personal choice, judging by the number of 14 year olds running about on the ship they didn't have much appeal to them either. - the TV in the cabin had basic channels on (BBC world news, CNBC) but was dismayed that a lot of the movies (old ones at that ...) you had to pay to view! They had two episodes of a couple of dramas from a good few years ago that were free along with I think 5 movies but you had to pay for the rest (1.99 per movie). - the layout of the ship is very confusing compared to other ships we have been on. It seems very disjointed - for example to get to the Bay Tree restaurant (which is clearly indicated as being on Deck 6) you have to go to the back of the ship, go up to deck 7, then go down again to Deck 6 as there is no direct access from the relevant deck. However, due to the extra miles I put in getting lost for the whole ten days, I came back having gained only two pounds even after all that fantastic food so can't complain :0) All in all, disappointed with the cruise as we paid a lot of money for the cabin and for the same price on Royal Caribbean we felt we got a lot more for our money. Sorry P & O - just didn't feel luxurious at all - felt like corners had been cut in many areas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I was so looking forward to this cruise as thought it was going to be far better than any cruise lines we had travelled with before but was hugely dissappointed -Firstly the sunbeds are so close together that you have to slide off the end ... Read More
I was so looking forward to this cruise as thought it was going to be far better than any cruise lines we had travelled with before but was hugely dissappointed -Firstly the sunbeds are so close together that you have to slide off the end to get off as they are all touching each other, this was difficult for my 83year old father so most of the time he chose to sit in his wheelchair, the buffet restaurant was ok but the cold choices were exactly the same every day, they did have varied hot meals, but usually just want something cold and light at lunch times-The main restaurant the food was good but knowhere near the normal standard as other cruises I have been on including Thompsons, it was terribly rushed, as soon as starter was finished plate taken away and main put down-whilst the service was very quick we did feel they wanted us out as soon as possible and on the formal nights it seemed a waste of time getting dressed up to have a rushed dinner and then not find a seat anywhere so have to return to cabin)-The entertainment was average apart from one comedian and the singer from the Foundations-You had to get into the theatre straight after dinner to get a seat which meant hanging around for 45 minutes or so and couldn't get seats in the other venues to watch the entertainment in those areas The amount of time spent in ports was very short (This is to save them money)and each time was very rushed having to be back on ship by 3.30pm, I do feel they should have stopped in Portugal 1st as 4 days at sea was too long The cabins were very good-The sailaways were good (Lisbon was best one I have ever seen) Feel there should be more entertainment on deck during sea days as most entertainment was going on inside, most of the time it was just music being played which was far too loud (everyone was complaining as you couldn't hear yourself speak)I don't think I would sail with P & O again and am going to try NCL next time Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Just to warn anyone without children with them on a cruise DO NOT go on Ventura.We were mislead into thinking that this Strictly Come Dancing cruise would be for adults in the most part. Surely going out of school holidays and with ... Read More
Just to warn anyone without children with them on a cruise DO NOT go on Ventura.We were mislead into thinking that this Strictly Come Dancing cruise would be for adults in the most part. Surely going out of school holidays and with ballroom dancing as the theme , most people would have thought the same. But unfortunately the Captain had other ideas. There were hundreds of children on board because apparently in Scotland and some other parts of the UK the children had started their holidays. Okay we should have done our homework, but did they really want to be there with the Strictly theme ! No they didn't they wanted to splash and jump and dive in the pools and scream and shout as loud as possible with the playleaders encouraging them to do so. So when we realised that despite having 2 very large pools for the kids the smaller one had also been taken over by them. When we complained in a very nice way to reception, we were told that the Captain had changed the policy of keeping one pool adults only and if we didn't like it we should have gone on one of their adult only ships!! Not a very nice response. It wasn't until a few days later that another passenger told us that we could use the Spa pool ( all be it tiny)even if we didn't use any other facilities. Why didn't reception tell us this?! This was one of many complaints. The buffet food was boring and repetitive and not good quality. The main dining food was decent but not first class, you could see that corners were being cut everywhere. Small choice of rolls, only 2 days were we offered luxury food and all of it on those 2 days because they knew if lobster and fillet steak etc were on menu daily we'd all want them. So the other days were ordinary food. The service in the main restaurant was diabolical. The waiters served the food across us instead of from behind, we were not given choice of rolls, they were just plonked on our plates. We had to send 5 glasses back because they were dirty. We were not given the choice of cheese and biscuits at the end of the meal and the coffee was awful. Room srvice had such a limited menu and much of it was extra charge. AND NO complimentary soft drinks or ice cream !!! Only free drinks were tea,coffee and water! We had this and so much more on Queen Victoria. There is no comparison between the 2 ships. Cunard and the Queen Vic are head and shoulders above Ventura and P&O in every single department. When you walk onto the Queen Vic you feel special and there is that Wow factor. Everything about it is better. How P&O thought they could pull off a Ballroom Cruise without a ballroom I don,t know!! There ballroom is no bigger than a postage stamp and no seating to speak of. After 2nd sitting dinner we couldn't find seats there or almost anywhere where anything was going on. No escorts for the dancing (probably cos there was no room!) The pluses were the Shows and Craig Revel Horwood (Really Good)and the size of our cabin and the bath and the cabin steward and the hairdresser in the Spa.But overall it was so s disappointing after 2 wonderful cruises on the Queen Victoria. BE WARNED UNLESS YOU'RE A FAMILY WITH YOUNG CHILDREN< STEER WELL CLEAR!!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Embarkation was excellent. From handing the car keys over to sitting onboard drink in hand took less than 20 minutes. We had priority boarding which no doubt helped but I heard no complaints from others. First impressions were not great, ... Read More
Embarkation was excellent. From handing the car keys over to sitting onboard drink in hand took less than 20 minutes. We had priority boarding which no doubt helped but I heard no complaints from others. First impressions were not great, the ship looks tired. As this was only our second cruise we could only compare it against Celebrity Equinox which had a wow factor Ventura lacks. Our cabin was A751 an aft suite. We had high hopes for this and it lived up to them in the main. It had a superb spacious layout with a huge balcony. If I had to knit pick it would be about the level of cleanliness. Surfaces that looked ok in a dull Southampton showed they were in need of a bit of spit and polish once the sun shone. As expected at the aft end it moved a lot crossing the Bay of Biscay and was subject to vibrating fixtures at certain propeller speeds but it was a small price to pay for such a nice suite. Both the Butler and Room Attendant were great lads. The food in the main restaurant was ok but rarely anything special. The Waterside Buffet was a free for all with such a poor selection I gave up on it early in the cruise. The wife persisted for a while but always came away disappointed. Afternoon Tea was available at 4pm in Saffron. Not my thing but a lot of folk enjoyed it including the wife. One of the perks of booking a suite is breakfast at M P Whites restaurant. This was very good and meant I could avoid the Waterside buffet. Decent burgers, pizza etc where always available around the pool during the day without any major queues. We paid a cover charge at East one night and enjoyed the meal but again did not find it anything to write home about. Another disappointment was that the only free drinks onboard were coffee and water. P&O cut backs ensure every penny is squeezed out of you where thirst is concerned. If I come across as some kind of food snob let me assure you I am anything but. I work offshore as an electrician surviving four weeks in the Caspian Sea on very poor fare (great food offshore is an urban myth) but I expect a lot more on a holiday. We chose this cruise because we wanted 12 days of total relaxation. No ports really interested us so no trips were booked. We were pretty much last off first on every time. We wandered the shops and grabbed a bite to eat at each destination. They were all much alike in this respect except Gran Canaria had a Marks and Spencer which meant an extra half an hour stood in a street. Arrecife in Lanzarote deserves a special mention. If not for the boisterous local winos we passed on the way to the main street it would be totally forgettable. Having read the above you are probably thinking this miserable sod wont sail with P&O again? You are possibly right but it is by no means cast in stone. I like the British slant of a P&O cruise and the entertainment was streets ahead of Celebrity. We did not attend the Arena Theatre at all but always found decent music or a comedian at Havana or Tamarind. The passengers were a great crowd and even the cheesy British sail aways were a good laugh. We made a lot of friends during this trip so arrived back in Southampton with mixed feelings. For food, drink and opulence P&O are not in the same league as Celebrity. But for a good laugh with a crowd of Brits P&O probably cant be beat. Next year we are trying Royal Caribbean, I hope they are somewhere in-between.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the ... Read More
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the passengers on those cruises that P&O were still the best. So this year we chose to return to P&O on the Ventura, what a shock we got!!.Standards in all areas have fallen dramatically especially the food. Food selection for both breakfast and lunch in the Waterside was very limited and the service area chaotic.This was the first ever cruise my wife lost weight instead of putting it on!! No wonder P&O seem to get bad press for Norovirus the lack of hand hygiene regime was the worst I ever experienced and when I challenged the head waiter why no member of staff was giving out hand gel as on other ships he said that he had been cut back so much on staff he could no longer provide that service. The other big let down was the poor organisation of getting off the ship by tender at Cannes. It was so slow we gave up and this was the only port we really wanted to visit. There are also no live port talks, again another cutback. Entertainment was generally good but as another reviewer stated the noise level was so high we some nights had to leave the theatre to escape the screeching of some of the performers. If P&O continue their policy of discounting and reducing standards I am sure many of their loyal old customers will desert them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
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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