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Sail Date: July 2014
Cruised Genoa-Venice in July for 7 nights.  This was the first cruise for my wife and I, and I must say I was a bit apprehensive with some of the reviews which posted negative comments. After 7 wonderful days, I feel very sad for anybody ... Read More
Cruised Genoa-Venice in July for 7 nights.  This was the first cruise for my wife and I, and I must say I was a bit apprehensive with some of the reviews which posted negative comments. After 7 wonderful days, I feel very sad for anybody who could possibly post negative comments over petty issues- this cruise experience was quite simply outstanding! The ship Ventura is a beautiful piece of engineering, a remarkable quality hotel floating on sea, with barely any reminder that it was carrying thousands of people across the Mediterranean. A wide variety of activities to suit most tastes kept us occupied all the time, with the only difficulty trying to work out how to prioritize. Everything was organised extremely well, with no fuss, ranging from embarkation to port activities and finally disembarkation. The food was plentiful, high quality, beautifully presented, fresh, and served by a team of hard working waiters. Occasionally a waiter may look a bit tired, but all it needed was politeness from the diner and an interest in where they came from etc to bring a smile. Entertainment was varied, very professional, and rounded off wonderful days at sea or on land. I think P and O have obviously been doing cruises for some time now, and they are a quality act. I know that some people write reviews and compare/contrast, sometimes negatively, with other companies. All I can say is that I hope I never get spoiled by cruise experiences as I suspect some reviewers have been, and shall be delighted to pass on my money again for more cruise experiences on the Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Having read several reviews, we were very concerned that we had made a poor choice in booking a P&O cruise. Talk of "chavs" and "Butlins" filled us with dread - whilst reports of poor standards on board had us ... Read More
Having read several reviews, we were very concerned that we had made a poor choice in booking a P&O cruise. Talk of "chavs" and "Butlins" filled us with dread - whilst reports of poor standards on board had us dragging our heels to the departure lounge. Wrong I'm afraid.... As part of our "package"  - we stayed overnight in Mestre before joining the ship in Venice. Arriving at the port just after 11am - the embarkation procedure was completed efficiently and we were taking our first tour of the Ventura by 11:30am. Like the majority of other passengers we were encouraged to head for the buffet restaurants for our first meal on board. The same restaurants remained extremely busy for the remainder of the cruise. Whilst we acknowledge the efforts of the staff to keep an even flow of food and passengers - the general standard was adequate and on par with the budget "eat all you like" establishments back home. Just ok.... For a more refined and quiet dining experience we opted to go to the Bay Tree Restaurant for most of our meals. The food was excellent - as were the waiters. Nothing was too much trouble. We avoided afternoon tea - but enjoyed the poolside grill for a lunch time snack. Unfortunately the pizzeria remained close throughout our stay. Our inside cabin was ready to occupy by 1pm and we were expertly looked after by our cabin steward Darryl (Deck 12-Aft). Slight vibration experienced as described by other passengers in this forum - but not too uncomfortable. The cabin itself was comfortable and reasonably spacious. The Ventura takes a bit of navigating & we were often confused by dead ends! However we soon learned that deck 7 was the centre of the Ventura universe - and you could find most facilities from here. Ok - we have covered dining and cabins..... The ship was full to capacity - and for most of the time we did not feel over powered by the volume of people. We were able to get seats at the entertainment venues etc, but experienced difficulty in getting a sun bed on sea days. Despite appeals from the staff about reserving beds - passengers were hoarding spaces with the flair of our German friends on the Costas...! My husband & son dared to leave their bed for a quick swim and some one complained that they had abandoned their beds. Pot - kettle....! There was a wealth of activities offered throughout the day. Sometimes it was hard to choose. I used the spa once - watch out for the special offers in the Horizon magazine. The men enjoyed sports, used the gym, watched films etc. I was happy to go along to seminars and dance classes. Something for everyone... As the daytime activities wound down - the ship took on a different vibe. Formal nights had an air of sophistication and it was great to see everyone in their finery. We mostly went to the shows in the Arena theatre: a male group called 4-Tunes (very good), cheeky comedian Peter Piper and the P&O theatre company: Headliners (superb). There were also tribute acts and vocal groups at other venues who were also very good. Port days were quieter on board. We enjoyed all ports - and were able to visit most on foot. We booked an excursion to Rome - as this was more difficult to manage ourselves. All in all we were very pleased with our first cruise experience and would not hesitate to travel with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
This was our first time cruising, and we had a wonderful time. Our balcony cabin on A deck was lovely, plenty of room and spotlessly clean (thanks to our friendly cabin steward Remy) so great to be able to open the patio doors each morning ... Read More
This was our first time cruising, and we had a wonderful time. Our balcony cabin on A deck was lovely, plenty of room and spotlessly clean (thanks to our friendly cabin steward Remy) so great to be able to open the patio doors each morning and take in the amazing views, and to sit on the balcony at end of the day and just listen to the sound of the waves as we sailed along. The ship is amazing, so big and so much to do, I don't think we really explored all of it on our weeks holiday! We chose to take breakfast in the buffet Waterside restaurant each morning. Plenty of choice; cooked breakfast, cereals, croissants, ham & cheeses plus fruit & pastries & much more. It was busy but we always found a table, sometimes sharing with fellow passengers and chatting about our plans for the day. In the evening we ate in the Saffron restaurant. We had chosen freedom dining and it suited us perfectly, being able to wander down when we wanted. We were happy to share a table and we met some lovely people, the menu gave a good choice and was always delicious. We could not fault the service and our waiters were always very friendly and efficient, we had some good laughs with them! We enjoyed the formal nights, so lovely to be able to get dressed up & we even got to meet the Captain! We had booked two excursions through P & O, visiting Florence & Pisa, plus Sorrento & the Amalfi coast. The organisation was brilliant as were our tour guides who were all local people with good knowledge of the areas we were visiting. Visiting these amazing places was our main reason for choosing this cruise, the scenery and architecture was stunning. We chose to wander around Dubrovnik on our own; the views along the walled city were fantastic. Sailing into Venice was a real highlight! Fantastic views from the top of the ship as we sailed in, with people in boats waving, it is a sight I will never forget. As we had visited Venice before, we again chose to wander at our leisure, such a beautiful place to visit. Yes, it was busy on sea days but you only had to wander around the ship to find a sunbed. The choice of evening entertainment was great, something for everyone & The Headliners show was brilliant .All too soon our week was at an end, as first timers we were not too sure of what to expect, but we loved every minute! We really wished we could have done the return journey for the second week. We could not fault the cruise. We had an amazing time; fantastic ship, lovely friendly crew, we met some lovely people and we visited some fantastic places. P & O certainly didn't disappoint for us, we are hooked and we can't wait to sail with P & O again. Thank you for a wonderful holiday!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
This was our second cruise, the first last year was on the Azura and we did not expect the Ventura to be as good. The cabin steward was excellent and couldn't do enough to make our cruise more enjoyable. We stayed in a 3 berth cabin, ... Read More
This was our second cruise, the first last year was on the Azura and we did not expect the Ventura to be as good. The cabin steward was excellent and couldn't do enough to make our cruise more enjoyable. We stayed in a 3 berth cabin, the last one on the starboard side. The extra berth was dropped down from the ceiling and was put down after we went out for the evening and put back up when we went for breakfast. We suffered a couple of bruises when going past to the loo in the night but nothing too bad. The itinerary was great and we enjoyed every port visited. My favourite excursion was the Herculaneum with a P & O excursion, the guide was extremely knowledgable and made the tour very interesting. Ports visited included Kotor, Corfu, Civitaveccia, Ajjaccio, Lisvorno, Naples. The younger people in our party enjoyed the water park in Corfu very much. Personally I'm not a fan of fly / cruise and prefer going from Southampton, especially when trying to pack enough clothes for 2 weeks, but it did give us 2 more days in the sun so shouldn't complain. I'd recommend this cruise whole heartedly however. There was a group of 13 of us altogether (family and outlaws) and we all enjoyed.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
I have cruised once before on Ventura and I had just as good a time this year. On my previous cruise I had a deluxe balcony cabin which was great but this time I was in an inside cabin. I was apprehensive but it proved to be no problem. ... Read More
I have cruised once before on Ventura and I had just as good a time this year. On my previous cruise I had a deluxe balcony cabin which was great but this time I was in an inside cabin. I was apprehensive but it proved to be no problem. In fact, I slept better than I usually do because it is so dark and cosy. If you book an inside cabin DO NOT book cabin C621. This was my first cabin and it is next to the main air conditioning unit for the whole ship. The room had a noisy vibration which came through the walls. I was lucky that someone else's misfortune at having to leave the cruise meant that I could change cabins. The staff were great and they moved all our "stuff" whilst we were round the pool. We chose Freedom dining and it worked fine. We were in the Cinnamon Restaurant and went around 7 to eat and never had to wait. If you can get table 33 go for it. The waiter is fantastic. His name is Sunil and he Could not do enough for us. My Granddaughters enrolled in the children's clubs but they loved the pool so much they didn't go to any events. Entertainment is variable. The Arena show was superb but it is only 50 mins. The Tribute acts were good but some of the other acts were mediocre. Drinks are reasonable with no surcharge as the American cruise liners add on. When we docked at Naples we took the Hydrofoil to Capri. Very easy but expensive at 40 €. Dubrovnik was magic and easily reached by bus. Venice was superb. Use the tender from the ship 15€ each as it costs the same at the quay side. We took a Gondola trip. It is 80€ wherever you catch it. It is a set price. The only problem is, is that in July it is mad busy and it is not very romantic to be in a line of tens of other Gondolas. Still a must do! Just remember that with four ports of call in seven days this is not a "restful" holiday but Dubrovnik and Venice are now off my Bucket list.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
My wife and I decided to experience a fly/ cruise with P&O and made our way to Venice to join the Ventura cruise ship as she sailed to various destinations over 14 days. Pour only previous experience with P&O had cruises departing ... Read More
My wife and I decided to experience a fly/ cruise with P&O and made our way to Venice to join the Ventura cruise ship as she sailed to various destinations over 14 days. Pour only previous experience with P&O had cruises departing from Southampton and it was a bit of a trek for us as we made our way from our home in Belfast to Venice via London gatwick. This would be our main negative in that it took is almost 12 hours to complete this journey on the outbound leg and 10 hours on our return. More departures from Belfast airports would encourage a lot of new business for P&O. When we eventually made it to Venice to board the ship we were pleasantly surprised at how easy the whole process was, because it was a fly/cruise passengers were arriving at different times of the day and this prevented any large build up and the need to wait in queues. It only took us about 10 minutes from we entered the terminal & completed paperwork until we boarded the ship. Quick and painless. The Ventura is one of the largest ships in P&O,s fleet and at first we were a bit daunted by its size and the numbers on board but to be honest we never experienced any feeling of being crowded of had any delays when visiting any of the shows, shops, theatres, restaurants or bars. We were also told that there were up to 600 children on this cruise but thanks to a great children,s entertainment programme we hardly ever saw any of them and could not say one negative thing about them. Our cabin was spacious and was kept spotless by our cabin steward Sorcorro, it had all the necessary requirements, ample wardrobe space, fridge, free safe, interactive tv & tea & coffee making facilities, there was also the essential daily copy of the Horizon which detailed all the events happening on board on a daily basis. The various restaurants were excellent and the food and service were of the highest quality, we had opted for the newly introduced "Freedom Dining" which allowed us to dine in the formal dining rooms anytime between 6pm and 9.30pm, we could also give our preferred table size each day from dining in a romantic twosome (it was our 40th wedding anniversary) to dining with up to 8 other guests. We varied this over the cruise and met some lovely people from all parts of the UK and also has some time on our own. The entertainment overall was very good with some acts being excellent and some being good, our favourites were the comedians and special mention must go to Carl Scofield in week 1 and to Tucker in week 2, both should be on tv, we were in stitches. We also really enjoyed the Beatles experience, Vocalist Laura Carter and ex-Brooksider Sam Kane. There were also some individual tribute acts and these were good without being great. The highlight of any evening had On to be the main theatre shows and here the Headliners Theatre Group stole the show, all the performances over the cruise were outstanding, singing, dancing, storytelling, fantastic sets & customer changes, superb. Our only complaint was that they were not on every night and only occurred on about 6 occasions furring the cruise. Casino facilities were very good and easy to follow and we had a little flutter or two , almost breaking even at the end of our stay. There were a number of organised tours in each destination and while they looked quite good they seemed to be pretty expensive, being experienced cruisers we tended to do our own thing and on occasions combined with other guests to make up the number and use the taxi buses waiting at most of the ports. Using this transport we managed to visit Rome and see all the sights (St Peters, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Colosseum, Roman ruins etc) at our leisure and all for 35 Euros each. In other poets we also used this transport to visit Pisa, Florence, Pompeii & Dubrovnik. We would highly recommend this cruise to anyone interested in seeing a lot of places in a relatively short time.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Great ship and excellent staff. Drinks well priced. It is a bit too big tho! even on the 14th day, many of us were still having to consult our deck maps, heaven help next years "Britannia" guests! Shows a bit variable, but some ... Read More
Great ship and excellent staff. Drinks well priced. It is a bit too big tho! even on the 14th day, many of us were still having to consult our deck maps, heaven help next years "Britannia" guests! Shows a bit variable, but some really excellent. Food really not too bad, only had two "iffies"-(both roast beef and yorkshires, not good). Its true what other reviewers say:- two sizes of trousers !! Kotor and Corfu good, Rome dissapointing, Piza and Florence good--tho' VERY wet, Naples ie Pompei Hmmm, went alone by train, NOT, NOT 15 mins walk to Station, try 50. and eventually there one brick wall looks like the other one. (OK, Phillistine !!) Ajaxio nice, Dubrovnik ankle deep in flood, hey ho, but will return. Venice, well its Venice, so good every time. President hotel in Mestre, DONT. Bar never open and the only food is a cold Brekky. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
My girlfriend and I have just returned from a 7 night cruise around Italy on the P&O Ventura and had a FANTASTIC time. From start to finish P&O were faultless and everything was catered for from the moment we arrived at Gatwick ... Read More
My girlfriend and I have just returned from a 7 night cruise around Italy on the P&O Ventura and had a FANTASTIC time. From start to finish P&O were faultless and everything was catered for from the moment we arrived at Gatwick airport until the moment we touched back down. The organisation was absolutely exceptional and the embarkation, disembarkation, booking in and all the organised trips we went on ran incredibly smoothly and like a well-oiled machine. The itinerary was well thought out and had something for everyone with a range of different ‘stop-offs’ including cultural visits such as Venice and Rome and more relaxing beach destinations such as Corfu and Corsica. Initially my girlfriend and I toyed with the idea of booking a balcony cabin before deciding on an external cabin with a partially obstructed view (this option was a few hundred pounds cheaper). On hindsight we are now very pleased that we went with the chosen option as for the minimal amount of time we were in the cabin it would have been a waste of money as there are plenty of quiet places on and around the outside decks to sit and relax/enjoy a drink. The money that we saved by having an external cabin was better off going towards our final bill! The cabin was extremely clean and more than spacious enough for ourselves and although there was a lifeboat outside our window, we still had a nice view of the sea/ports when we looked out. The bathroom was small (as expected) but more than adequate for the both of us and the shower pressure/temperature was better than most hotels we have been to. The bed was unexpectedly huge and very comfortable and relaxing. The interactive TV was excellent and we loved the room service facility/up-to-date bill page and captains log channel. There were fresh towels every day for both the cabin and the pool and fresh bedding at request. The staff were fantastic and could not have done enough for us. The food was equally impressive and the five course menus were varied with more than enough options to suit everyone. We dined at Marco’s restaurant on one of the evenings and couldn’t believe the value for money, it was exceptional. The 24hr buffets were also faultless and there was always a massive selection of both hot and cold food to choose from. On one of the sea days the staff did a BBQ on the top deck with burgers, hot dogs, chicken pieces, massive salads and fresh fruit and once again this was delicious. To summarise P&O excelled themselves and the Ventura was a lovely ship with so much on offer for everyone, whatever their tastes. We will definitely be returning.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on po cruise ship ventura. This was our first time with p o but it will not be our last. Staff throughout the ship were always happy to help from the officers to the bar and ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on po cruise ship ventura. This was our first time with p o but it will not be our last. Staff throughout the ship were always happy to help from the officers to the bar and cabin staff . Entertainment was brilliant , something for all tastes throughout the whole day and into the night. The shore excursions were a little expensive but were really well organised and the guides were really pleasant and also very happy to answer any questions. Our cabin was perfect and our steward Patrick saw to our every need. We chose the freedom dining option which worked really well and we would recommend the Cinnamon resteraunts for fine dining or the Waterside for delicious buffet food. Thankyou Ventura for our WONDERFUL Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
Before I write my review I’d just like to say that we are a married couple in our late 20's doing their second cruise. We cruised last year with Royal Caribbean and said that we would never do a cruise again. We hated it, ... Read More
Before I write my review I’d just like to say that we are a married couple in our late 20's doing their second cruise. We cruised last year with Royal Caribbean and said that we would never do a cruise again. We hated it, "Butlins at Sea" "Hi-De-Hi Campers" and "what have we done?" where all said on our first day. However we saw this cruise come up which gave us a very good deal and allowed us to visit a lot of the places on our "places to see list". We booked the cruise with the approach of let's just put up with the ship, enjoy the abundance of food and enjoy the excursions. The service was fantastic, we checked out bags in at Gatwick next time we saw them they were outside our cabin on the ship. The Thomas Cook charter flight was as you would expect nothing to write home about but good enough for the two hour flight to Venice. On arrival in Venice we went straight though immigration and were guide to the bus waiting for us. After a short wait we were off for the short drive to the port. There was a bit of a queue at the port the check onto the ship but considering we landed less than an hour ago it wasn’t an issue. There are thousands of passengers turning up all wanting to get on board, what else would you expect. I did notice there where a few passengers who were arriving with their own luggage so it may only be people who book to travel on the P&O Charter flight who get the smooth airport service. We were on board by about 11:30 and were told our cabins would be ready by 1. We milled around and explored the ship while we waited for our cabin. It was ready before the time they gave us which was good so we promptly headed to our cabin and got changed. We hadn’t received our main luggage yet but had shorts etc in hand luggage to cover us for the first day. I’m not surprised we had to wait for our luggage we were probably at the ship before it had even left the airport. We heard some people complaining that the didn’t have their luggage but if you think realistically about the logistics of getting several hundred suitcases from the airport to the ship and then delivering them to the cabins it’s going to take time, I personally wasn’t expecting to have mine until 7ish that evening. We got a water bus into Venice for the afternoon and when we returned at about 5:30 our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabin. The process was similar on the return we were given our boarding passes and luggage tags a day or two before departure. We placed our bags outside our cabin the night before we departed and didn’t see them again until we collected them at Gatwick. People where again head complain that you had to be out of you cabin by 7 the morning of departure but if you think about the logistics, all the cabins need to be cleaned at prepared by 1 that afternoon for when the new passengers turn up. Yes it’s an inconvenience to be out of your cabin at 7 and have to wait around until your specified departure time but cruise ships aren’t like ordinary hotels as all of the guest turn up at the same time on a cruise ship. Except the process that the crew have to go through and realise the world doesn’t revolve around yourself and you won’t have to many problems Now to the nitty gritty of the cruise, it was mainly older passengers and there were very few younger people and hardly any children. We did find a lot of the older passengers looked at us with a “what are you doing on here?” and wouldn’t sit next to us in the bars even if the only seats left where next to us. In the second week when more passengers arrived there were more children and families but they didn’t cause any problems and in general everyone on the ship was very friendly, you get the odd rude person but you get them everywhere. The Ports where in general very good, like I said earlier there were lots of places to visit that where on our “list” however some of the transfers from the ports to the cities you where docked to visit where long so you didn’t get a great deal of time to explore i.e. Civitavecchia to Rome is about 1 hour 30 minutes, Livorno to Florence is about 1 hour. The highlight of the trip for me was Kotor, a lovely little medieval walled city with fantastic views of the bay from the top of the mountains. You had to pay for all shuttle buses into the towns which where about £3 per person each way so even if you didn’t do any organised excursions and just wanted to explore on your own it could become very costly. There was nothing to stop you walking or getting a local taxi in most ports though. The entertainment was poor, there where good acts that I could watch over and over but most of them once was more than enough. The tribute acts where pretty good, we saw Gary Barlow, Phil Collins, Whitney Huston and Tom Jones. Gary Barlow was by far the best, he looked and sounded just like the real deal. The comedians where in general poor in the first week Manuel Martinez did two shows which were hilarious the second week we saw two comedians and both where awful. One even managed to empty the room he was performing in. For a company that says it gets some of the best performers out there this should not happen. The Theatre Company put on a very good production but if you are a fan of West End musicals or have done Latin & Ballroom dancing you will be very disappointed with the dancers. However the bars where very nice each has a different feel, so you will be able to find one that suits your taste. Some of the venues which they have evening entertainment on in could do with being better laid out. There are a few places which have restricted views. I would say that the rooms were designed for their feel and their use was an afterthought. The bar staff did a good job of taking your drinks orders. The amount of order they take at a time I’m surprised they manage to get the right drinks to the right people. The venues do fill up so we would always get a seat no later than 30 minutes before the show would start. All that can be said about the food is fantastic, Breakfast, lunch and dinner can either be in a formal sit down served restaurant or from the buffet. We always had breakfast from the buffet as we like to eat and get on the go rather than have a leisurely breakfast. Selection was great cooked breakfast, cereals, pasties, hams & cheese and fruit and quality was fantastic. Lunch again from the buffet was fantastic with a good selection of very tasty food. We sometimes ate at the poolside grill and pizzeria if we didn’t fancy a meal at lunch and again the food was great. The only thing that I would say is seating in the buffet restaurants is a bit of a premium especially if you are there during the peak times we did occasional spend a little while trying to find a table and a couple of times we had people ask to join us. I think the restaurant could be laid out better to utilise the space available. For dinner we were on Freedom Dining. We were assigned a restaurant and could just turn up any time between 6 & 9.30 and be given a table either a table for two or sharing with others. If there isn’t a table available they give you a pager and call you when a table is available. We would go and get a drink whilst waiting and never had to wait more than 30 minutes. The Club dinning has sittings at 6.30 or 8.30, 6.30 I believe is too earlier as we often got back to the ship around 5.30 so unless you can get ready for dinner pretty quick I don’t think it leave enough time to get ready and the 8.30 sitting would only give you one hour to eat you dinner before the evening shows start at 9.30, especially as the whole restaurant has sat down at the same time to have up to 5 courses I don’t think this would be regularly achievable. The food like everywhere else on the ship was fantastic but did get a bit repetitive over the two weeks, each night was a variation of meat and two veg. don’t get me wrong the food was fantastic and wasn’t just pork, chicken and beef. My only gripe would be that there weren’t enough sun loungers around the pools. Around the ship as a whole there were plenty but not around the pools especially on sea days. In summary this cruise was fantastic and if viewed as a floating hotel which takes you to lots of different destinations you will have an amazing holiday which can be as relaxing or tiring as you want. This has changed our opinion of cruising and we are already looking at other cruise that will visit places on our list.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
My wife and I have done a number of cruises all over the world and congratulate P and O Ventura and the entire staff for getting it right ----- here's why. a) Once we checked in our baggage at Gatwick airport we did not see it again ... Read More
My wife and I have done a number of cruises all over the world and congratulate P and O Ventura and the entire staff for getting it right ----- here's why. a) Once we checked in our baggage at Gatwick airport we did not see it again until it arrived outside our cabin door, and at the end of our cruise the cases where left outside of our cabin to be collected later on the baggage carousel at Gatwick. b) Tea making facilities in the room. c) Complimentary water offered in the restaurant automatically. d) Alcohol can be brought onto the ship. e) We chose freedom dining in the Cinnamon restaurant and the food and service was 5 star. f) The evening shows were excellent and the 'Headliners' equalled the best that Broadway can offer. g) All the ports of call were excellent and not chosen to make up the numbers. h) Hygiene was taken seriously and everytime you visited a restaurant you were requested to apply antiseptic hand gel. i) You could eat outside in the buffet restaurant. j) Good choice of food in the buffet late at night k) The condition of the ship was immaculate and clean. l) The majority of passengers were English so announcements were not made in six languages ---- believe me after a few days that can be really irritating. j) Our cabin was near the back of the ship and there was no vibration. There is always going to be something not right but for that we have to go to heaven but Ventura is not far behind, so stay happy and enjoy yourself, and remember if you want to see Venice from a big ship do it now because by the end of the year they will be banned, and when you are sipping your 6th Gin and tonic you will realise that the logistics of running ships like this is staggering. Best wishes to you all, Chris and Anne Our rating 5 plus. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
This was to be our first cruise, so with 2 adults and 2 seventeen year olds, we took advice from friends and family and settled on the fly cruise with Thomas Cook. All booking was done online and we chose some of the tours also. Flight and ... Read More
This was to be our first cruise, so with 2 adults and 2 seventeen year olds, we took advice from friends and family and settled on the fly cruise with Thomas Cook. All booking was done online and we chose some of the tours also. Flight and boarding went very smooth,everything was well organised, no complaints. Once aboard we found our cabins, which were spacious,clean and had all that we required. The ship was lovely it was at full capacity but never seemed crowded at all when you wandered around, unless you wanted a sunlounger then you had to be up at the crack of dawn and claim a spot with a towel!!! s@d that!! we were on holiday to chill out!! Food and drink were good, but if you went to all the sittings, after a couple of days you started to get sick of the sight of food,well we did anyways. The 'kids' took advantage of room service chomping pizza late at night after a show so they were happy. Staff on were very friendly and Elton,one of the bar waiters at the beach comber was brilliant, funny and had a great laugh with kids. Photographers were a bit pushy now and then. The only things that spoiled our cruise were some of the fellow passengers on board, stuck up self important a@@es, who looked down their nose at you when you walked towards them or tried to make conversation, for the first couple of days this really annoyed me, so in the end up i'd make a bee line if i saw a snooty look and engage them or try to in conversation!!! horrible people who,even some seasoned passengers made comment on the amount of snobbery there was onboard. The other thing was probably our fault as there was very little for 2 seventeens to do to keep them occupied on board, compared to other ships/cruise lines. All in all we really enjoyed our cruise and the ports we visited, we would definitely do another cruise but probably with another cruise line and maybe if the kids came one that was more suited for them.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We went on board with mixed views after reading previous poor reviews of a similar cruise in the Western Med. Not being a stranger on the Ventura I took a discerning look on my embarkation. We were told the cabin wouldn't be ready ... Read More
We went on board with mixed views after reading previous poor reviews of a similar cruise in the Western Med. Not being a stranger on the Ventura I took a discerning look on my embarkation. We were told the cabin wouldn't be ready until 1 pm but were beckoned by our steward to come into the cabin as it was ready. He introduced himself and was very informative advising us of our dinner booking and provision of other services he was able to provide. The cabin was spotless. When disembarking to spend time in Venice I noticed that the ship and it's fabric were clean and of a high standard. The meals on board were excellent and our waiter was extremely attentive and informative. We always had a leisurely dinner. We lunched and breakfasted both in Waterside and Baytree finding the food to be of high standard. Some of the courses offered in the Baytree for lunch I would have liked for dinner. The shows were good catering for all tastes, and especially liked the Liverpudlian comedian. Ports of call were good, we prefer to go on our own no disrespect to the tours P&O provided, our fellow diners did a couple of P&O tours and were very impressed. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
Having just read the last review I am astounded at what was written as we were on the same cruise ship and 3 cabins away on the same deck. We thought the service was brilliant from the crew and our Steward - Decson was adorable. He kept ... Read More
Having just read the last review I am astounded at what was written as we were on the same cruise ship and 3 cabins away on the same deck. We thought the service was brilliant from the crew and our Steward - Decson was adorable. He kept our cabin clean and tidy with clean towels whenever we needed them. He dusted and hoovered each day and one night made put a bath towel in the shape of a swan on our bed! I agree that the Waterside restaurant was the worst out of all the eating places because it was like a 'free for all'. It is open 24 hours and children could eat in here and adults didn't have to dress up. We ate most evenings and lunchtimes in Saffron restaurant which had a super choice of food and the menu differed each day. The waiters were hard working and we're absolutely charming. Atul Kucher's Indian restaurant named East was amazing. You paid £15 pp and had a 3 course Michelin starred meal which was so different to the Indian restaurants we have in UK. We also went to the Glass House for a pre dinner drink most nights and ate in there once. The service was terrific and they were always very pleasant. Entertainment was good, most shows in the main theatre were on twice a night but you had to get there early to get a seat. There were singers and comedians in a few bars and the overall ambience in the evening throughout the ship was relaxing. The sun beds were too close together and people did leave 'towels' on the beds. I think staff should remove the towels as many beds were not in use for many hours. The trips on shore were well organised and the security to get on and off the ship was second to none. All in all a fantastic holiday and an amazing experience. Thank you P &O. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to ... Read More
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to Venice and from Genoa were on time, and the P&O team at each end were superb, baggage checked in and then the next one sees it - it is in the cabin. Cabin steward was good, polite, although we kept it tidy so all he had to do was re-arrange / new towels etc. There were two beach towels in the cabin, and more available in the ' spa ' changing room - which would answer a previous complaint in a review- that persom did not look far enough. We dined in the Cinnamon Restaurant, and thought the choice and standard high.We did try the White Room, and yes £25 cover charge, was it worth it, YES for a one off experience, as we were able to dine outside, the ambiece was superb, and a few foodie extras thrown in too, service was brilliant, the food was exceptional, really enyoyed it, we lingered and whay not. The ship is big and it took the week to find one's way around, the ' observation deck ' at the front front on Lido deck was not listed in the leaflet, found it by chance - and a great viewing area. The Theatre is very good, on two deck levels, ( far better than on the Oceana- just a minor point ) we went to the two ' Headliner shows' good singers, and how they change the costumes so many times in seconds is beyond me !!! well done. The '' 4 Tunes '' four guys singing in harmony were outstanding, again we managed their two shows. Ports of call - Kotor by tender- and a trip up the mountain, the 25 bends are NOT for the faint hearted. Rome - we did the Tuscania village trip, beautiful countryside, a very relaxing morning, good wine too at the olive grove farm, and olive oil to purchase too. Corfu & Corsica - suggest just go on foot around the towns, the walk up to the old fort in Corfu, and lunch there was a highlight. P&O do offer very good value for money, the prices on board are in £'s and in my opinion the drinks prices are very reasonable, this is my 2nd P&O cruise. My suggestion - avoid the buffet restaurants, just people not knowing where they are going or what they want- food quality fine though. We did NOT enjoy a might in the Beach House resaurant- menu disappointing. We chose freedon dining- which is ideal, and usually had a table for two, but no problemd sharing as we did from time to time. Afternoon tea in the Saffron was of a high standard. We did use the ' adults ' only oasis pool - although as slightly out of school holidays few children on the ship. The sun loungers are close together and there IS the towel on the sunbed syndrome, which P&O DO need to address. Would I use P&O again - certainly yes, would like to try the Britannia when she comes on stream.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
Having read the negative reviews we set off for our cruise with a little trepidation.........from arrival at Manchester airport we found the organisation extremely efficient indeed. Our flight left at 6.15am and by 9.30am we were sitting ... Read More
Having read the negative reviews we set off for our cruise with a little trepidation.........from arrival at Manchester airport we found the organisation extremely efficient indeed. Our flight left at 6.15am and by 9.30am we were sitting on the Lido deck taking in the Italian sunshine having already familiarised ourselves with the main areas of the ship, well done P & O I say!! We had a superior deluxe balcony room which was spacious, very clean and in good condition. The bed was very comfy and our cabin steward kept it spik and span all week, he was very friendly and competent indeed. We were freedom dining and prefer to dine alone out of the 6 nights that we used the Cinnamon dining room we were immediately seated at a table on 3 the other 3 nights the longest wait was 35 minutes giving us time to enjoy a pre dinner drink. We did not find this unacceptable or annoying at all we just utilized the time to enjoy a cocktail before dinner. The food was very nice and well presented, there was usually something to suit our taste and if there wasn't the classic menu was there to order from, a couple of nights we mixed our order from the 2 menus. The waiters were polite and friendly, we never had to ask for our water to be topped up and were asked at every course if our meal was okay. When I struggled to decide between deserts our waiter just bought me both bless him. We found ample choice of food in both bayside and the beach house for breakfast and lunch and the only time we found them to be overly busy was the morning of disembarkation back at Genoa, again to be expected as many people had to vacate their cabins by 7am. The deck grill on lido deck turned out some tasty snacks and the pizzas were prepared as you ordered so queues did build up there at times. The lido and sun decks did get very busy on sea days especially but this is to be expected. On these days the bar staff and waiters on deck worked very hard but they did chat when serving you if you took the time to chat and be polite to them. I didn't find any of the staff impolite, miserable and rude but I did come across some very impolite, miserable and rude passengers that were nothing short of professional moaners. I believe that people should complain when unhappy about something but the aggressive manner in which we witnessed a complaint being made on one occasion was shocking!!!! The shows I believe were very busy and you had to get there early to get a seat but we didn't go to any, the musicians and singers that we did see in the bars were all easy listening and not bad. As smokers I feel that I have to comment on this......actually previous reviews are wrong. Yes smokers are catered for as they should be, there is specific areas of outside decks that are for smokers, namely one side of the promenade deck, the same side on lido deck there are specific table and chairs by one of the pools, one side of breakers bar up on deck 16 and one side of the terrace bar at the aft of the ship. Overall this is a very small percentage of the outdoor space being allocated to the smokers clearly this offends some people but hey the very same peoples rude, offensive behaviour offends me!!!!! To summarise we found the organisation overall very efficient, the food was good in all eateries that we used, the cabin was clean and well kept. We had no issues with any of the P and O staffs behaviour and just wish the same could be said for the behaviour of some of the passengers. My only complaint if I had to have one would be the lack of soda packages etc on offer in comparison to the ones we have been able to purchase on Princess and RCI, however, I certainly wouldn't let this put me off booking with P and O in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Having read the previous review of the same cruise by Rakugoka I find it fascinating to see just how subjective a review can be, as it is clearly based upon one's own experiences, but of a similar event. Anyway, this was our first ... Read More
Having read the previous review of the same cruise by Rakugoka I find it fascinating to see just how subjective a review can be, as it is clearly based upon one's own experiences, but of a similar event. Anyway, this was our first P&O experience, and the beginning could be seen as a good start, or a bad one, depending on how you look at it. To ensure your baggage arrives at your appointed cabin P&O very kindly e-mail you a label to attach to your case(s). As these labels are not of the type you would see attached at the baggage check-in at the Airport, we felt there was a risk of them becoming detached during the handling of our suitcase at either Birmingham or Genoa (or in-between) and so had intended to sellotape them to the bags once we collected them at Genoa. However, we had not been made aware that, once the bags were deposited at Birmingham check-in, we would not be expected to see them again until they were delivered to our cabin and so missed the opportunity to attach our labels indicating our cabin number. Several anxious hours ensued upon arrival at the ship, and many visits to Reception, to seek reassurance that our 'unlabelled' bags would still find their way to our cabin. Fortunately, they did eventually turn up and so, relieved, we then settled in for our departure form Genoa. The other point of annoyance from a P&O novice point of view was that it was nowhere clearly stated that, in fact, the transfer from Genoa Aipoprt to the ship was included. After much searching and deliberation on Cruise Critic we had decided to get a Taxi from the Airport to the ship, only to find in fact, the organisation was so good, they had actually laid on a bus, which was brilliant, but so glad we hadn't booked a private transfer as this would have been a waste of money. I suppose, in a nutshell, it would have helped considerably if the P&O cruise personliser had made these points more clearly. I would concur with the previous reviewers observations regarding the check-in process at Genoa, with a single line having to pass the photographer, and you could clearly see that the 20 or so check-in staff were never fully utilised, meaning the photo process was causing a bottleneck. Many people chose not to have their picture taken but nonetheless still had to run the gauntlet of staff trying to 'persuade' you to have your picture taken (which was later for sale at over £14 but they didn't tell you this at the time!). It would have been much more efficient to separate the queues into 2, for those wanting their photo taken and those that did not but, I suspect, this may have resulted in a significant lost opportunity for P&O to try and tease a bit more cash out of you, as it would be quite likely far less people would have gone down the photo op queue than by their current method. So, having settled in to our cabin, met our brilliant Steward Iris, and eaten all the chocolates which greeted us, we set-sail. There was also a bottle of Champagne in our cabin, which we struggled to decide what to do with, as we're both not particularly fond of the stuff. We had booked a Balcony Cabin which was superb. Very well appointed, nice balcony, very clean, and was made available to us ahead of the scheduled 4pm. Iris (male by the way) was superb, very friendly; helpful and efficient, and never showed any problems with the daily clean, or evening turn-down. On previous cruises we had become used to niceties such as the customary folded towel animals on our bed on one or more evenings but this didn't happen on this cruise. Don't know if this is by design on a P&O cruise, or just that Iris's artistic side wasn't up to it. This isn't a complaint by the way, just an observation. We had also selected the Freedom dining package, meaning we could attend our appointed Restaurant any time during the evening 'window' and, being the anti-social type we are, always requested a table to for 2 as opposed to sharing. One each occasion we were advised we would have to wait, and were handed a pager to notify us when our table was ready. Most times this was a very short wait, and were quickly seated at our table. The food, we found, was excellent, both on the 'Classic' menu (which stayed the same throughout) and the alternative menu which varied from day to day. I would say that, of the thing you would note as standing out, would be that everything was supremely efficient'. 2 of the nights were designated as Black-Tie which, as people that prefer not to partake of these, we were forced into the option of either using one of the themed Restaurants (at an additional cover charge), or to take advantage of the Buffet style restaurants on the Lido Deck. Unfortunately, P&O chose to make all of the Buffet Restaurants themed also, on these nights (one being a Thai night, and the other a Curry night). As we were keen on neither we felt the only option was to attend a Restaurant at additional cost. We chose the Glass House on both occasions, which was excellent, but we once again felt, the 'system' was designed to encourage you to spend your cash as, to us, it would have made more sense to split the themed offerings in the buffet restaurants to a night which was different from the Black-Tie night, or at least still provide a normal buffet service in one or more of the 4 buffet restaurants. At each port, there were a number of excursions on offer. We only took one excursion, to Pisa, to see the Leaning Tower, but we opted to book one on-line from crusingexcursions.com which was around half the price of the P&O one, and still with an excellent guide, and the bus returned us directly to the ship. The cabins (or 'State Rooms' as they like to call them) are provided with a flat screen TV (2 in our cabin) which has channels devoted primarily to P&O sales, news (BBC and Sky) and Sky Sports News. There is a channel where you can purchase movies at around £2 each, or a small selection of TV shows which were free of charge. There is also an interactive service, where you can order room service, view your account etc, and also receive messages. Rather annoyingly, if there are messages waiting, you are forced into reading these before you can progress onto viewing any TV channels. On 2 occasions, were advised 'you have 5 web mail messages waiting for you' which, if you clicked on this, you were then taken to a screen advising you take out a subscription for their internet access (e.g. £35 for 90 mins) before you can view your web-mail. I personally felt this was misleading and, potentially, dishonest, as P&O could not actually KNOW you had e-mail messages waiting, and this was just a ploy to get you to buy their internet services. I also not, regarding their Internet Service, they offer it with a caveat that you shouldn't expect it to be very quick, as it is accessed via satellite. To me, this is akin to offering you meal in a restaurant for £20 but don't expect it to be very good! - If it's not a 'good' service, then it should be offered free-of-charge. Overall, we had a wonderful experience, the ship was very clean, well appointed, and the staff, whilst not always falling over themselves to go the extra mile were however, always pleasant and, once again, I feel compelled to use the word 'efficient'. I would say P&O's emphasis was on efficiency, as opposed to customer service. We were constantly left feeling like they wanted us to buy 'extras' which is understandable, to a limit but, somehow, we just felt as thought they were continually trying to extract just a little bit more, all of the time. Despite the little niggles, as previously described, we would seriously consider going back to P&O, but not to the same ship.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We have just come back off a cruise on the ventura the actual cruise was excellent,the cabin steward kept the cabin spotless,we was lucky enough to be on board when the opera boys sang,they did 4 shows all full houses,what amazing singers ... Read More
We have just come back off a cruise on the ventura the actual cruise was excellent,the cabin steward kept the cabin spotless,we was lucky enough to be on board when the opera boys sang,they did 4 shows all full houses,what amazing singers a fantastic show,overall the entertainment on board was excellent the headliner dancers was west end standard,we was on freedom dining which suited us the only drawback was if we wanted a table for 2 we had to have dinner at 18.00 or wait about 1to 2 hours but had no waiting to sit on larger tables,such a shame the restaurant staff was not keen with the hand sanitizer people was walking in without sanitizing there hands with staff watching not only the saffron but other eating places,come on p and o get this health issue sorted. The disembarkation of the ship we found was stressful not enough time ieaving ship to flight time,not enough time if any delays,the coach had accident on ramp leading to departures,Genoa airport is not the best very busy and small,overall a great holiday and enjoyed very much,we have booked 13 night cruise next year on the ventura transatlantic. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
I've been a fan of P&O all my life, much of it is nostalgia, my first P&O ship was either the Canton or Carthage when I was a baby en route to Singapore. Many many ships later we went off on the latest trip on board Ventura. ... Read More
I've been a fan of P&O all my life, much of it is nostalgia, my first P&O ship was either the Canton or Carthage when I was a baby en route to Singapore. Many many ships later we went off on the latest trip on board Ventura. Very similar to Azura which we did last year and equally as nice. I did feel there have been a few cut-backs and some corner cutting but as prices are now so low I can understand that. Something has to give.... Embarkation via Gatwick and Genoa was easy though I do prefer Southampton. Disembarkation was equally trouble free. Cabin was adequate with a small balcony, our steward was brilliant but not intrusive. We weren't too keen to be allocated Freedom dining but it worked really well and we were always allocated tables with cruisers who 'matched' us. A special mention here to Head Waiter in Saffron, Colin, who went out of his way to make sure our vegetarianism was catered for. We had a hic-cup on the first night and from then on he was there all the time to make sure all was well! Food was good.... no complaints on menu either in the dining room or in the buffet upstairs. We didn't go to much entertainment, I'm always happy to take to my balcony with a good book and maybe a glass of wine. I love being on a ship and just enjoying the feeling of being at sea. Personal choice but the feedback on the entertainment from dinner companions was usually good. I often read reviews on here and wonder at the expectations of passengers..... so many seem to expect the facilities of a 6* cruise for a 3* price. and complaints about selling? Don't buy! Easy..... I never found them a problem. I did succumb to a cut-price massage in the spa and it was good value for money IMO. Very interesting was the morning in the Atrium when crew from every department were there to demonstrate and explain. very educational.... My biggest complaint would be reserved for the staff on the reception desk who seemed to work on the lines of 'the answer is no, now what's the question....' One particular young lady who shall remain nameless although I did make a note for a formal complaint, was downright rude and patronising. Twice. Oh and it also bugs me that all my previous years of P&O plus multi thousands of miles don't count towards points so we don't get blue slippers! :( But apart from that.... it was a good cruise to fab destinations for a very reasonable cost. Go P&O. We'll be back......   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
We have just returned on the Ventura going round the Caribbean. After reading previous reviews before we went we were a bit apprehensive, but there was no need to worry, we do not understand where these reviews came from. Have been on 4 ... Read More
We have just returned on the Ventura going round the Caribbean. After reading previous reviews before we went we were a bit apprehensive, but there was no need to worry, we do not understand where these reviews came from. Have been on 4 previous cruises with Thomsons which we have thoroughly enjoyed. Didn't fancy paying the gratuities, which we didn't. If you go to reception they will give you a form to fill in and you just say that you do not want to pay the £3.50p each per day and that you would tip yourself where you thought it was necessary which we did. Our cabin steward was excellent, very friendly and approachable, kept the cabin spotlessly clean. We had an outside obstructed view on the 8th floor which was very nice. We found all the staff very pleasant, we spoke to quite a few different people who were different age groups on the cruise and everyone we spoke to were enjoying it, the only thing they did not like was the different prices people had paid. We paid £1,079 each for the 2 weeks where somebody else had paid £1,799 for a inside cabin. Somebody else who was in a balcony had paid £3,000 each and they found out that someone who had the same cabin as them had only paid £1,400 each, such a big difference in price. We found the breakfast excellent, also the afternoon teas were excellent. The evening meal was not as good not as much to choose from. You never got ice cream for any puddings which we found very strange, if you wanted an ice cream you had to pay for them. Some of the entertainment was very good, we saw two very good comedians, and a mind reader. The dances in the Headliners were also very good. Some of the other entertainment was not to our liking it was based more for older people, but I suppose you cannot please everyone's taste. The excursions were very expensive we did our own thing when we got off the ship. There are lots of taxis, and open sided buses to go on which work out a lot cheaper. We did two open sided bus trips which took three and a half hours for 20 dollars each, and one of them gave you complimentary drinks all the time, and even took us to a beach and left us there for one hour, and came back later to pick us up. Do not worry about getting back to the ship on time they will always ask you what time does your ship leave, and they will get you back on time, don't worry. The only other thing I will say that previous people had written about which we found to be true is you have to get up early on the day's that you are at sea to get a sun lounger, and some people put the towels on their beds and don't come back for a long time. Next to where we were laid the towels were on when we got there, so we do not know how long they had been there, and they did not return for three hours later. We would definitely go with P&O again but we are a bit limited because we only like fly cruises we wouldn't want to go from Southampton, and as they only go to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean starting this year so we have not got much choice. Looking forward to seeing you again sometime P&O Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
I am surprised when I read reviews of cruises by certain P&O passengers, some of which seem to be excessively hypercritical, compared to those by people who have cruised with Celebrity, most of which are gushing with praise. I have to ... Read More
I am surprised when I read reviews of cruises by certain P&O passengers, some of which seem to be excessively hypercritical, compared to those by people who have cruised with Celebrity, most of which are gushing with praise. I have to say that in my opinion P&O are far superior in many respects to Celebrity and indeed most other large cruise lines and I will set out my reasons for saying so in this review. My partner Barbara and I have cruised with P&O on twelve occasions, most recently earlier this month in the Caribbean on Ventura. We have also travelled on Celebrity’s Equinox and Eclipse in recent years as well as on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity’s sister company, Princess and Cunard. Whilst I realise that a lot of people will have been on even more cruises than we have, nevertheless I think that my breadth of experience of cruising with several different companies enables me to provide an informed, and I hope reasonably objective, opinion on their relative merits. Most of the modern ships built for the large cruise companies I mentioned are broadly similar in structure and design and are very well fitted out and equipped to cater to the demands of today’s discerning cruise clientele. All of the above companies have launched several brand new ships in recent years and this trend seems set to continue .Where the differences arise is in the details of the overall product and service offered to passengers and this is the area in which I believe P&O have the edge. First, Celebrity’s new Solstice class ships are generally very impressive in their design and decor, but, unlike P&O’s ships, they do not have a proper promenade deck for passengers to walk around and sit on. Promenade decks have always been a traditional and stylish feature of ocean liners and cruise ships and add to the glamour of cruising in my opinion. Instead, Celebrity have a short jogging track on one of the upper decks on their new ships, but this is a poor substitute. Secondly, the entertainment on Celebrity’s ships is nowhere near as good or as extensive as that provided by P&O. On our cruises on the Equinox and Eclipse there were only three full production shows by the ship’s resident theatre company in two weeks as opposed to the seven regularly performed by P&O’s Headliners theatre company during the same length of cruise. Moreover there was only one show per night on Celebrity {obviously repeated for each of the two formal dinner sittings} varying between the production show and other cabaret artists, whereas on P&O there are three or four different shows every evening, again repeated for each of the dinner sittings. The shows performed by the Headliners on P&O are superb and are of real West End quality. In fact, most of the artists in the company have actual experience of appearing in the West End and/or on television. By comparison, Celebrity’s shows and those of the other cruise lines we have seen were of average quality. Even the production and technical aspects of the P&O shows are better. For example, on one occasion on Cunard, one of the few shows scheduled had to be cancelled because one of the lead singers had a sore throat. If this happens on P&O they have back-up recordings of all the singers so that they can mime to these and the show can go on as normal. Admittedly, Celebrity do have various musicians and bands performing live each evening around the ship as well ,but so do P&O. This last comment brings me to another criticism I have of Celebrity. Every evening in the atrium there was very loud blaring music played. The design of the new Solstice class ships is for the whole of the centre of the ship, from the bottom of the atrium up to the top decks even up to the library, to be open, which is visually very impressive ,but this means that it is difficult if not impossible to relax or carry on a conversation in any of the bars and lounges around the various decks in the centre of the ship. Even upon request they will not lower the volume. Apart from the evening entertainment in the theatres and lounges, P&O also have a lot of quizzes every day during the cruise which are very popular and which I personally enjoy very much. They also have guest speakers throughout the cruise, dancing classes , craft classes etc. I know that the other cruise companies have some of these features , but not as many and they are not as well organised. Another issue is the price of drinks on ships .On Celebrity, as is the case with most of the American cruise lines , {including unfortunately these days Cunard as well on whose ships Carnival ,their American owners, have chosen the US dollar as the on board currency}, prices are comparable to what you would pay in expensive hotels, but they also add on an automatic 15% service charge and they then rub salt in the wound by leaving a note and space at the foot of the bill for an additional gratuity. We are not big drinkers, but I know that all of this annoys many passengers. P&O by contrast charge what can be described as reasonable pub prices for drinks and they do not add any service charge.{ P&O’s general service charge for the cruise overall is also set at a much more reasonable level than Celebrity’s}. Furthermore P&O will let passengers bring on to the ship bottles of wine and spirits purchased ashore to drink in their cabins, whereas Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and I believe most of the other cruise lines will confiscate these and do not return them until the end of the cruise, presumably so that passengers will carry on paying their exorbitant prices for drinks on board. One simple area where P&O provide a thoughtful touch is in providing tea and coffee making facilities in your cabin so that you can have a hot drink whenever it suits you. Celebrity will of course like most cruise lines bring you such drinks via room service free of charge, but this can take some time and the drinks when they arrive are never as hot or fresh as if you had made them yourself. P&O also provide room service, but they know that passengers like to have the option to make their own hot drinks when they want them. Celebrity have now introduced kettles and tea and coffee on their cruises from the UK, but not elsewhere in the world. P&O also provide free launderettes with ironing facilities on each deck on board all their ships so that passengers can wash, iron and press clothes if they wish to, which is very helpful on fly cruises where there are flight luggage restrictions so that passengers who have kept their clothes to a minimum can do a wash half way through the cruise. Celebrity do not do this, and so passengers have to pay their laundry or pressing charges. Another area where P&O excel is in their service in getting passengers to the Caribbean in the winter months where their two large ships Azura and Ventura are stationed. They organize dedicated charter flights from several UK airports which fly straight to Barbados. The process of getting from the plane to the ship is seamless. You do not have to go through any formalities at the airport in Barbados. Instead, you are whisked from the plane straight on to a coach to the ship and you are usually on board and in your cabin within an hour. You do not have to collect your luggage from the airport since this is delivered direct to your cabin. Contrast this with all the other cruise lines where you have to fly, often indirectly, to Florida, go through all the hassle of American immigration, retrieve your own luggage, stay in a hotel overnight and then finally transfer to the ship the next day. There is no comparison. The quality and variety of the food provided by all of the major cruise lines are broadly similar, but most of them now have specialist a la carte restaurants in addition to the main dining rooms and buffet restaurants, which offer menus prepared by, or restaurants named after, famous chefs. These specialist restaurants have a separate cover charge, but again we have found that the American cruise lines generally charge more than P&O, who again offer better value. To be fair there are certain features on the other cruise lines which P&O do not have. For example, on Celebrity, the lawn club areas with real grass on the top deck, on Cunard the very traditional afternoon tea dances, on Royal Caribbean the ice dancing rink and ice shows and on Princess the mini golf putting course. However, the preponderance of areas where P&O excel and are superior to the others is telling. These various matters when considered together do in my opinion make a big difference and I think go quite some way in explaining why I think P&O, while far from being without fault, are still nevertheless the best cruise company to travel with. As with a lot of cruise companies, regular passengers have noticed certain areas where they have cut back on some details and services to save costs ,but this is probably as a result of the competitive pricing they have had to adopt to market and sell the cruises given today’s economic climate .However, I think that they still offer the best overall cruise experience. The combination of formal and informal themed evenings on their cruises is just right and their sailaway parties are the best. I know that they are owned by Carnival, like Princess, Cunard and some other brands, but to their credit Carnival seem intent on maintaining P&O’s unique and traditionally British style of cruising. I am looking forward to travelling on P&O’s new superliner Britannia next year which promises to raise the bar for standards still further. To summarise, I do hope that people who have cruised with P&O and who sometimes like to have a little moan, as we all do from time to time, will reflect on the issues I have raised and realise that P&O are not so bad after all. If you are reading this as a regular traveller with Celebrity or another cruise line, then why not give P&O a try.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
When myself and Husband and two friends had booked our cruise with the fantastic "Getaway" price, but remember this was non - refundable - I think some disgruntled cruisers may forget or not know this - so you do take a risk. we ... Read More
When myself and Husband and two friends had booked our cruise with the fantastic "Getaway" price, but remember this was non - refundable - I think some disgruntled cruisers may forget or not know this - so you do take a risk. we were concerned about the negative reviews, I now wonder if they were all on a different ship to us. we had wonderfully clean, bright cabins with a balcony, champagne, chocolates, flowers and of course the gown and slippers and excellent toiletries The White Company. Pleasant and helpful cabin girl, who could not do enough and remarkably never forgot our names. We, all four, must have been guests from heaven for her, not messy, untidy or demanding, respectful of her culture and human sacrifice of being away from her family for many months and years, we noted many cabins with doors open and "jumble sales" going on inside!! Unless you are with children or a smoker, the main pools are to be avoided like the plague. Noisy, with loud music. Hence the need for your own balcony, if this is not your idea of a good time, for some it is, I just wish they were on a different cruise.  That is my only complaint, except the lack of sunbeds, when at sea. The food was really good, our waiters charming and chatty, and friendly when on other duties during the daytime and you saw them, two lovely boys. Breakfast in the main restaurant is a very nice start to the day, lunch or high tea in the self service area after a day on shore "perfect" The evening entertainment was more than adequate for our different tastes, we particularly enjoyed the Kenny Rogers impersonator and the Tamarind Bar, the shows in the theatre were most enjoyable. Finally walking around the deck late in the evening with the warm Caribbean breeze "wonderful " The islands are a delight, take the tours waiting at the cruise terminal, much cheaper and they are the people who need the money. In all a wonderful, cruise, which will be repeated. I have cruised before with Royal Caribbean and much prefer P&O. Barbados airport was a complete nightmare, no organization, our plane The Dreamliner, on the way out was a perfect flight, plenty of leg room, most comfortable seats I have ever had on a flight. In Barbados it was grounded for some reason, so, our boarding passes issued on board the ship (good idea) where all incorrect and had to be re issued with different seats, even when, as we had, booked and paid for seatin g of our choice. This was not broadcast over the tanoy, no one walked the queue explaining the problem and re issuing - nightmare. The cabin crew were dreadful, rude, unhelpful, we are still waiting for coffee/tea with our breakfast. They were missing for the first 1 1/2 hours of the flight. But the cruise readers, was fabulous.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
We booked this cruise last time we were on board in April last year to maximise our on board credit. This was a fly cruise and the flight with Thomas Cook airlines was the worst part of our holiday, we will seriously consider scheduled ... Read More
We booked this cruise last time we were on board in April last year to maximise our on board credit. This was a fly cruise and the flight with Thomas Cook airlines was the worst part of our holiday, we will seriously consider scheduled flights if we do the trip again. There were obvious queues to check in in a less than luxurious shed but you were offered water while you waited. Once check in was complete we boarded the ship and went in search of our cabin. I was so excited because two weeks prior to departure I had had an email from P & O offering us an upgrade to a suite for an additional £250 per person. This seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity so we took it and were given the Penthouse Suite on the back of the ship. It was amazing, so much space, a butler and the opportunity to have breakfast in the White Room each morning. If you ever get the chance to upgrade I would highly recommend it. The crew as always were friendly, polite, courteous and eager to please. We ate in the Bay Tree each night and the food was always good if not excellent. Lunch was usually eaten in Saffron and again was good or excellent. We ate one evening in the White Room and the food was delicious, I was so full I could hardly manage a pudding. I'm not sure it was worth £25 each but the experience of eating under the stars was great. We used the buffet a couple of times, usually when we had missed lunch and the quality was good and plenty of hand gel in evidence. Pizza was a naughty treat occaisonally as was afternoon tea. We enjoyed pre-dinner drinks in the Metropolis most nights, although sometimes it was hard to get served if they were very busy, this was also the case in the Red Bar. We thought that staff numbers had probably been cut since our last trip. The Glasshouse seemed to lack atmosphere whereas when it was Las Ramblas we thought it had a definite buzz in it but maybe that was to do with the different show times. Shows are not really for us although we did go to one which was fine and we saw Tom O'Connor too. My husband when to a few talks from the guest speaker. In an effort to burn off some calories we visited the gym several times and as usual there were pieces of equipment out of action. One of the rowing machines only required a new battery in the display but despite mentioning this on the first day, two weeks later it was still out of action. We had an excellent holiday once again and would highly recommend this trip to anyone.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Just returned from a lovely relaxing fortnight in the sun. Ventura was as we remembered from a previous Med cruise 2 and a half years ago, no better and no worse. If you travel on this ship you will get good( not gastro) food, friendly ... Read More
Just returned from a lovely relaxing fortnight in the sun. Ventura was as we remembered from a previous Med cruise 2 and a half years ago, no better and no worse. If you travel on this ship you will get good( not gastro) food, friendly staff who do a super job of looking after you (in the allocated time) and do their very best to make the mediocre feel special, cabins with good storage and comfy beds(not deep cleaned for the OCD brigade but reasonably clean)with nicely fitted bathrooms, but most of all (unless you are one of the uptight brigade with truly unreasonable expectations) you will get to relax and be spoilt for a very realistic price. Ventura is not a ship for the picky but if you like down to earth good fun (not yobbishness) this is the place to find it. We didn`t use all the facilities during our fortnight but I will give a brief resume of those we did. Room service. We used this for breakfast every morning and for occasional afternoon snacks and drinks.Nice food (I agree about the toast, it could be better),pleasant service and speedy delivery. cinnamon restaurant on freedom dining dinner. Made friends with the maître de asap and secured a nice table for 2 in our preferred area. Had generally lovely food and ate far too much most nights. The waiting staff were brilliant, simply could not have done more to keep us happy. Found a nice dry white at £13.95 a bottle !! and thoroughly enjoyed every evening. Theatre Headline theatre company were superb and The Opera Boys fantastic. We saw 5 shows and enjoyed them all. Havana caberet bar. We didn`t think much to the 2 tribute acts we saw here, Cliff Richard and Tom Jones but wer`e not fans of either of these artists so maybe our judgement was coloured by this. It was also difficult to get seats where you could see unless you were willing to spend half the night there hogging seats. Waterside buffet. Only used once because we are not keen on buffets but the fish and chips we had were not bad. Beach house (evening restaurant) We used this once and had super food and great service. If we hadn`t enjoyed Cinnamon so much we probably would have come here more. Lovely menu. Shore excursions. In our opinion, overpriced and poor value. My partner went on the ATV trip in St Lucia and said it was OK but was annoyed that P&O wouldn`t let him take me as a pillion only to discover people on the trip who had booked through other means and were carrying pillions. Shops Not a huge problem to us but overpriced and poorly stocked. More reasonably priced resort wear and particularly T Shirts and kids present ideas and we`d have spent a lot more. Breakaway bar (deck 16 ) Lovely place to while away an hour or 2 in the sun with a long cool drink. Spa. Had a good cut and blow dry for £45 (a tadge steep) but the price of other packages even on special offer put us off. The grill on deck 15. Num num, lovely cheeseburgers fish gougons and fries. Naughty naughty (diet needed now). Ports of call. We enjoyed most but weren`t keen on Bonaire. We should have done more independent beach visits as we had a great time in grenada and Barbados swimming in the sea and relaxing on the sand. In conclusion we found everything in this cruise that we needed and more. It would be easy to pick a few faults but why waste our hard earned holiday doing that?. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Pre-Cruise (6/10) I had a little time booked off work, so was essentially trying to find a cruise that fit the budget and the time allowed. I had previously cruised with Princess only, so that was my first preference, but nothing appeared ... Read More
Pre-Cruise (6/10) I had a little time booked off work, so was essentially trying to find a cruise that fit the budget and the time allowed. I had previously cruised with Princess only, so that was my first preference, but nothing appeared to be very good value that was departing during the time I had off. I stumbled across the P&O getaway fare and when you factored in that flights were included, it was a deal that was really too good to pass up. We booked directly with P&O via their website and the flight booking element was more trial and error as it offered flights from all our first choice airports first, then announced they weren’t available. In fact the only option was economy from Gatwick. But in a few minutes it was booked, although somehow it managed to associate the booking with my old email address I had registered with Princess cruises, so it didn't send me any confirmation. That said, it did put the cruise in my history with Princess that counts towards my loyalty level, but the history wasn’t transferable the other way, so I was a proper P&O newbie. Although my traveling companion had been slowly moving up the P&O loyalty scale, so this meant some decent onboard discounts. Flights and Transfers (8/10) As the flight departed at 09:10 from an airport 3 hours away from home, we opted to stay at the airport the night before. I got a decent deal at the Holiday Inn, close the the north terminal for about £90 which included the room, 15 night’s parking and a transfer to the airport. Although the same transfer bus also served the best western and Travelodge Gatwick Central, both of which would have been slightly better options as the Holiday Inn wasn’t partially special and the food and drink were expensive. When we arrived at the airport, the check in process was P&O cruises branded, which was a nice touch and we filled in our health declaration forms before even getting to the counter. Although the queue moved slowly having just 2 people operate a check-in for a full flight. They were also pretty tight on the luggage allowance (at 23kg each), with a hand baggage allowance roughly the size of a holiday novel. Thankfully the luggage scales we used seem fairly accurate and thanks to some last minute case swapping we were both under. Just. The people in front of us experienced that horrible re-pack at check in, which is probably one of the most humiliating and stressful experiences a traveller can undergo. I also booked lounge access at the airport, which was a bit of a waste of money as the BA Galleries Lounge it wasn’t. Very basic buffet breakfast with the option to order ONE hot item each, which was tasty but about 1/4 of the size it needed to be to be satisfying. We kind of got the best option with the choice of aircraft as we were booked on the Thompson Dreamliner; although advance seat reservation was expensive at £15 for a basic seat and £35+ for an exit row seat (and you had to book both ways, whether you wanted it or not), it did make sense as the plane was a 3-3-3 configuration and a pair of travellers were likely to be separated across an aisle. The seats were pretty roomy, and probably the best experience i’ve had in the “back of a plane” with decent touch screen entertainment and food that really wasn’t that bad. Drinks (apart from a cup of tea with the meal) were extra. They did stop the inflight entertainment about 40 minutes before landing to make you watch promotional videos for P&O trips you might want to buy, which was a little annoying. They could have also perhaps done with saying that once you land there would be no toilet opportunities for at least an hour after touching down.. rather than telling you this as you were about to go down the steps. Within a few minutes and organisation that verged more on the side of luck than judgement we were aboard a small bus with plastic seats and no air conditioning for the 40 minute ride to the ship. This was followed by a relatively smooth check in process where we also had to complete the same health forms that we’d done 9 hours previously at Gatwick. In all from landing to getting in the cabin is was about an hour and a half; plus we didn’t have to go through any luggage or immigration formalities. Cabin and Ship (9/10) As I mentioned previously, I’ve always sailed with Princess, who use the same design of ships. Therefore I was pretty comfortable with the layout of where most things were and what to expect. The ship was actually much prettier from a design point of view than the Princess version, and the cabin was exactly the same save for different carpets, curtains, bedding, pictures on the wall and lamps. The only real noticeable difference was the british sockets and a proper kettle; both of which were appreciated. The cabin never once felt claustrophobic and the balcony was a decent size, having a bit of extra space which was offset by the fact that it was high and forward with a solid rail wall rather than the glass of 98% of the other balconies. The rest of the ship was pretty much as per the Princess design, aside from nicer decor and better zoning of some of the outside areas. The only thing that didn’t really work for me was the layout at the bottom of the atrium, which on Princess is a more heavily used space thanks to the free 24 hour food available in the international cafe. Although the P&O version has more seats, the coffee was expensive and the food wasn’t much of a draw. So although the atrium looked pretty, it was pretty much a waste of space other than for 20 minutes sessions of dancing in the evening. The ship was in good to excellent condition, only a few signs of age, but largely it was a pleasing place to be. The ship also held its own whenever in port by being one of the better looking ships around. Food and Drink (7/10) Food is always a subjective matter, but it really wasn’t bad. In fact some of the dishes were very good, nothing was ever breathtaking bad and only a few items of disappointments. We ate in the buffet most days for breakfast and the choices were the same every single day. A little variety wouldn’t have killed them, that said the food was fine and fairly tasty. For lunch it was either the pool side eating areas, or the buffet or a combination of both. The buffet had a little more variety at lunch time, and the vegetable Paella was very good (although the same dish made 3 other appearances described as something else at various points, it was good nevertheless). The burgers from the grill were tasty, the pizzas were a little ‘meh’. One thing that did bug me about the buffet was the labelling. Although they had a sign on to say what was on each counter, it was often a little bit of guess work trying to establish which dish was which. While not particularly important if you are not fussy, if you are trying to keep to a particular dietary requirement, it makes unnecessarily hard work of it. The food in the main restaurant also wasn’t bad. The most disappointing dish was the prime rib, which was about 1/3 of the size of that served by Princess with about a quarter of the taste. There was also only ever one meat free main course available, which meant it was either that or nothing. One night the entire veggie selection looked pretty boring, but I ordered it anyway and it turned out to be one of the most nicely balanced dishes I’ve ever eaten. One night we also opted for the White Room at £25 per person. Although making a booking made it sound like they were doing you a favour by fitting you in, the place was less than half full. We did get a table on the outside deck for the evening, which was lovely. The food was OK, but probably not quite £50’s worth, save for a rather nice basket of bread. Drinks were reasonably priced, considering their location; mostly on a par with with what you would pay in a restaurant or bar at home; and when you factored in the 8% loyalty discount, it made for much better value beverages than on other cruise lines where you have to mentally add 15% to the price of everything you’ve just ordered. Room service was fine and easy to order through the clunky and slow interactive TV system. Although some dishes were free, some had a charge and there didn’t seem to be any logical connection between the cost of the dish and whether it was free or not. We also did Glasshouse for the lunchtime tapas which was pretty good. Finally we tried East for a lunch special of £7.50 each, which was probably the best all round meal had on board as the food was good and had decent service; which is something that couldn’t be said for the majority of food and drink experiences… Service 3/10 This is where P&O need to do some serious work. First the positives, the room steward was excellent, and probably one of the better ones I have had. He was like a hawk and always said good morning / afternoon and always knew when you were away from your cabin whether or not you put the service tag out. The bad bits were pretty much everything else. The reception desk was about as welcoming as the enclave to the Wicked Witch of the West and it apparently it was my fault that the bar code on my cruise card wasn’t printed properly and the fact that the other card didn’t open the cabin door. In the restaurant things were worse. The first night not even a hello from the waiting staff; we have to ask for bread. And menus. And for someone to take a drinks order (who eventually did so just as we started the mains). The second night it took until the dessert course arriving for them to get the wine saved from the previous night and then the wine waiter actually stood and augured with us as we’d had the cheek to eat in deck 5 restaurant rather than deck 6 the night before. I could stand this no-longer so had a quiet word with both the wine manager and the restaurant manager who were apologetic. After this we were seated more quickly and only in a specific section where the staff were better (no doubt the corner reserved for the complainers). On deck the drinks staff weren’t much better. It was often an issue getting someone to take your order (ironically the worse service was where there was less passengers around, where the few staff that were working didn’t really seem to care either way). Often the drinks would take an age, particularly if you were ordering expensive soft drinks from your pepsi card and even then service was hardly with a smile. I also found it irritating that you couldn’t just get something directly from a bar and all interactions had to be with 2 people. Perhaps because the people pouring the drinks were even less polite than the waiting staff, with rarely even a please or thank you. Likewise if you asked for anything slightly different, the answer was never yes. It was always a problem or something they needed to “check on”. Ironically decent service is one of the few things you would expect on a cruise ship to be a no-brainer, it does’t cost much to do and creates a good impression. They do have a similar CRUISE motivational customer service programme aboard P&O (the same as with Princess) but it seemed little more than a corporate slogan that staff didn’t care about and weren’t engaged with. To be honest, had it not been for the room steward, I would have given service a 1/10 rating. Simply not good enough. Ports of Call I’m not even going to give this section a rating, as unless you happen to be booked on exactly the same cruise as we went on, then it’s not going to be much help. I’ve never particularly liked the Caribbean and I still don’t. Although for warm, winter sunshine with comfortable temperatures in January you probably can’t get much better. That said, special mention to Grand Turk, which does away with most of the things I find less agreeable about the islands (no aggressive hawkers), with a fanatic cruise terminal right on the beach. The terminal is also complete with a large pool and beach sun loungers that are free to use, but supported by the fact that drinks are very expensive. However, in terms of cruise terminals I’ve been to worldwide, this was the best of the lot; without question. Disembarkation 8/10 Again P&O have really got this whole fly cruise thing sorted. The operation seems to run with almost military precision where they check you in for your return flight and handle your case all the way from your cabin to destination airport. This does create a few issues. Firstly if you are due to disembark on the second day of the turnaround, you still have to get up early on your second to last day to go clear the immigration at Barbados. Although the process was quick, it still involved getting up at 7am to do so; which had we know about we wouldn’t have bothered booking a tour that day so we could have done the clearance at our leisure. The second issue is that you need to pop all your stuff outside the night before you get off, so this means that any remaining liquids you need for the overnight and the next day need to fly with you in your hand luggage, so have to be under 100ml. As it happens we sacrificed a deodorant can and a tube of tooth paste on the last day, both being too big to fly, but both needed for the last day on board. Not much on an inconvenience, but next time I would bring small sized liquids especially for the last day. What was nice is that you remain on board until your flight is called; so for us we departed the cabin at 09:00 and were able to make most of an additional day until we disembarked at 2pm. They then bussed us straight to the airport where all we had to do was clear security. You couldn’t really get much smoother or straight forward. In Summary 8/10 If I had to use two words to sum up the whole experience, it would be “great value”. For what we paid we got a very good product, nice ship, nice food, smooth transfers and decent 2 weeks away in the winter sun. Would I book again? Yes probably, if the price was right. Although I don’t think I’d ever be rushing to book at the full price with P&O. The only thing that left a taste in the mouth was the service, or lack of. I think it is all the more annoying as it’s something that can be fixed with little cost, it just needs some proper passion instilling in the staff. I don’t like to leave review on a bad note, because the experience was good. But it should have been brilliant. 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 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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