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215 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

We returned in the early hours of this morning from Ventura's repositioning cruise to the Caribbean, having joined the ship at Malaga. (We should have arrived home 24 hours previously, but a medical emergency saw our plane diverted to ... Read More
We returned in the early hours of this morning from Ventura's repositioning cruise to the Caribbean, having joined the ship at Malaga. (We should have arrived home 24 hours previously, but a medical emergency saw our plane diverted to the Azores!} Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, but the cruise itself would have been interesting for any sociologist. Generally, the P and O experience is "safe." The food is good without being hugely imaginative and the standard of service and the quality of cabins is also pretty good. However, for those who have cruised before, be it with P and O or other lines, there is a certain, intangible feeling that, due to today's very competitive market, some corners have been cut and the overall experience is not what it once was. A number of "serial" cruisers were heard to voice the above comment, and I think I would agree with them. e.g. Why bother to kit up for a formal night if the dining experience is absolutely the same as any other night? Why not some theme or just something to make it a little special? Also, silly little mistakes such as, only one film per day during the six days crossing the Atlantic, but two per day(and better films) whilst in the West Indies, when most passengers were not aboard! Also, the entertainment was variable; perhaps inevitable when trying to cater for all tastes. However, the most noticeable aspect, and much commented upon by various people we met when "freedom" dining, was the clientele: or should I say the pretty sharply drawn social differences in the clientele. To be blunt, the very competitive prices of cruising these days seems to be attracting people who might once have felt more at home at Butlin's , with the ship tending to divide between those who enjoyed this aspect and tended to mainly frequent the Lido Deck and self service restaurants and the others who avoided such areas as much as possible. P and O have something of a problem facing them because of this clientele shift. First although the rumour mill was rife, it seems safe to say that a small group were ejected from the ship at St Maarten for a) Violence and b) attempted shoplifting; something I had not encountered before on a cruise. Second, having looked around the upper decks early in the cruise, the sight of ranked masses of sun beds, many less than 12 inches apart made me very glad we had a balcony. Again we were to hear that some people were placing towels on sunbeds early in the morning and attempting to keep them even when missing for hours and indeed, trying to reserve more than one so that they could move from sun to shade as they required. There were reports of this causing heated exchanges and if true, it is something that P and O must police and get to grips with. Third, far from being an interesting meeting of various people, all too often, the quality of conversation when breakfasting or dining, was, in my opinion, not very stimulating. "Freedom" dining does not help here, because people are always at the "getting to know you" stage and hence conversation becomes very repetitive. So, it was OK, but the prices seem to be encouraging a change in the character of cruising and the result is something that begins NOT to look like an elegant holiday experience. The problem for P and O is that we all like to pay less, but if competitive prices change the clientele, then the character of cruising will change and those who once enjoyed it might well move to other lines that charge more (e.g. Cunard and Celebrity)and the cheaper cruises will indeed become floating holiday camps. Would the company be happy with this image as long as they are making money? I have returned home feeling a little sorry for the ship and its crew. The former is perfectly satisfactory and the latter hard working, pleasant and obliging and neither they, nor to a certain extent P and O, are responsible for the type of custom they have to cater for, but both my wife and I might well think about cruising less often but paying higher prices in order to (hopefully) experience the atmosphere that we think cruising should exude.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and ... Read More
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and temperatures never really dropped below 70 deg F. Saw some fabulous sights from our outside balcony including night time lightning at sea, a moody volcanic island and some fantastic port destinations. Food on board was good on the whole in the standard restaurants with plenty of choice beyond the staples. The trips we booked were OK - from the wonderful mountain views of Montenegro to the olive groves of Italy - though they all began to get a little samey. Judging from the comments we have heard from others, the trip to avoid was the extremely long drive into Rome from the nearest port town. In retrospect I wish that we had researched the trips a little more, and checked out some of these reviews, before we, errrm, took the plunge as it were and booked every single available trip! The "rest" days, which were days at sea, while enjoyable in themselves, we not sufficiently restful between port trips to recover properly, so I would advise to go it alone more often on the port visits rather than take group trips all of the time. The evening shows on board, while of a high quality, were really not my cup of proverbial tea. The shows were spectacular, while being mimed, visually stunning while seeing "tap dancing" without taps, so again entirely mimed to such an extent that you kept wandering what it was you were actually being entertained by. Another slight point of contention with P&O was the penny pinching and up selling you come across on board, all of the time. An example of the former being when we were sitting down, as a group of six, just before the show and the canapes came round.... but we were ignored because we did not buy any drinks! Given that we were a relatively large group paying thousands of pounds between us, we felt second class citizens at that moment! And an example of of upselling is the constant "sales" on board of jewelry, clothing etc in the shops, all at special discounts, though you can easily buy the same things onshore at even cheaper prices (in Euros) that the ship's sale prices (in pounds). Having said all that, would we do it again? Probably, but with more pre cruise research.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Have cruised with P&O once before (Oceana) and Ventura is certainly a more modern ship but, considering the size of the ship, the facilities are not much better. The library is very poor, shops not great, and standard of food not as ... Read More
Have cruised with P&O once before (Oceana) and Ventura is certainly a more modern ship but, considering the size of the ship, the facilities are not much better. The library is very poor, shops not great, and standard of food not as good as we remembered. Like many people, I object to paying extra to eat in a "speciality" restaurant; all the food should be of an equal standard. I got tired of seeing the same salad options coming out again and again at the buffet. Waiter service was good in the restaurant but poor in the buffet and patchy in the bars (where the price of drinks has shot up since our last cruise) - I saw two serious health and safety incidents where they were slow to react and did nothing to warn passengers of potential hazards. The theatre is not able to accommodate even half the number of passengers on board, and the only way to guarantee a seat is to get there at least thirty minutes early, which usually means missing something else. Also, the sound level was way too high, with the bass reverberating through your seat. In general, the on-board activities seemed to be less plentiful than on our previous cruise, although the Entertainment team (under-strength because of illness) worked very hard, especially Chris, and most of the performers were good - no celebrity speakers this time. I've seen lots of comments about P&O staff failing to enforce the rules about not reserving seats and sunbeds, so this has clearly been a problem for a long time and it still is a problem. On the plus side, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, although the contents of the TV channels are absolutely dire - you even have to pay extra for films. Nor do they have the radio requests show that they had on Oceana. The ports of call were fine but the excursions are still grossly overpriced. We would go on Ventura again but stay clear of school holidays. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Cruised on Ventura from Genoa stopping at Livorno, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice then back again via Kotor, Corfu, Civitavecchia and Ajaccio (Corsica). An excellent itinerary which enabled us to visit a few “must-haves” and re-visit a few ... Read More
Cruised on Ventura from Genoa stopping at Livorno, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice then back again via Kotor, Corfu, Civitavecchia and Ajaccio (Corsica). An excellent itinerary which enabled us to visit a few “must-haves” and re-visit a few others as well as some we probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. First of all, Ventura is a large ship and it takes the best part of 2 weeks to find your way around. Our cabin was an inside on deck 14 and was comfortable and not at all claustrophobic. We had wondered about this having had a balcony in the past but, considering how little use we had actually made of one the extra cost seemed pointless and, in fact, proved the case. The only downside in the cabin was just one chair. Plenty of hanging space beside the bathroom with a cupboard and a safe there as well. Bathroom was perfectly adequate, similar size to other ships we have been on. The cabin has a TV with a useless selection of channels, a kettle and tea/coffee, a hair dryer and a fridge. Dining is in one of three formal dining rooms at either fixed times or, in two of the restaurants, what they call freedom dining where you turn up and are allocated a table. There are two speciality restaurants, Marco Pierre White and East, and there is a supplement to eat in them. On the 15th deck aft are two buffet-style restaurants where you elbow your way around selecting food then walk miles to find a table somewhere. Coffee and water are available from machines (mostly not working) and at breakfast only they also provide fruit juice. We generally chose to eat our three meals in one of the restaurants where you were given a table and waiters brought everything to you. Can’t understand why anyone endures the buffet bun fight! There is also a pizza stall beside one of the pools and a Costa coffee shop, probably the only way to get a decent coffee on board! There are four pools for cruisers plus a small one on the foc’sle which seemed to be crew only. Loads of loungers, packed in like sardines so you could always find somewhere to rest. There is a well equipped gym forward on the 16th deck and, beside it, a Spa offering treatments for trivial amounts like £75 a pop. Needless to say we didn’t partake! At the rear of the ship is a children’s area with what looked through the windows like a soft-play area and there is a small poll adjacent. Unfortunately they permit smoking there so it may not be an automatic choice for small children. Above this there are nets for golf practice and there may be other activities there but we didn’t explore. It may only have been this particular cruise but, for some reason which was never explained, the room service offering of bottles of spirits was not available so bring your own as P&O seem quite happy for you to bring it aboard. I suppose they would draw the line if you arrived with huge quantities of booze but if you like a drink in your cabin it seems you are best to take your own. On a 14 day cruise they time it so there are four “black tie” nights and most people seemed to have either a DJ or suit and tie. They seem quite particular about it so if you go without you will probably have to eat in the buffet those nights (unless you buy or hire on board that is - they seem to have availability). Just a few brief details of the destinations as most will have been there or can find better details elsewhere. P&O are good at laying on shuttles at those ports where you need one so unless you are on an organised tour you can get transport into the towns from the dockside. Royal Caribbean were particularly poor in this respect. Whether or not you paid for these shuttles depended on the type of booking you had so, in other words, the late availability cheapos probably have to pay. Livorno is the stop for Florence and Pisa, Naples for Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento. Dubrovnik, despite being in the EU, still used its own currency, the Kuna. The ship will change at 1.8 odd kuna to the euro but will only take back 50 kuna notes and above, no coins or lesser denominations. Just inside the city gate there is a shop with a bureau de change and they were offering a better rate, 1.9 something to the euro. At the end of the day do you really want to be left with a load of useless kuna so best to ask if they accept euros and, if not, walk away. Behind this bureau is a restaurant with a toilet and they take 1 euro to use it. By the way the supermarket at the dockside only takes Kunas or, I think, credit cards so save yourself the walk unless you have kanas to get rid of. Kotor is very picturesque and probably not somewhere you would finish up other than on a trip like this. It is a bit like a mini Dubrovnik with a medieval walled old town. For the fit and healthy there is a steep climb up the hillside and for the rest of us there are a few cafes, lots of souvenir shops and a couple of ice-cream stall. There is a public toilet which is signposted and a couple of ladies sit outside collecting your 1 euro to go in. A more leisurely walk up some of the walls takes you past some peoples gardens to a view over the harbour. Watch how you walk here as there were used syringes about. Back down at street level there were a few females begging so just like home really! Corfu, or more precisely, Kerkira where the ship docks is a short shuttle bus to the old town. The Russian navy was in town when we were there and the sailors were busy snapping up fake Rolex watches from the many Africans. There are lots of shops selling designer name goods at knock off prices but in between there were some genuine stores too. Unless you really want a Calvin Klein belt for 2.5 euros or a Gucci bag for little more you may want to search out the shops that don’t have these bargains for the real thing. Naples has a duty free shop after you go through dockside security before you board the ship and is useful if you need to stock up. Ajaccio is a pleasant town with streets close to the ship to stroll around in and a market just near the dock selling mostly cheeses and meats with a wine stall. Carry on up the street until you come to a Spar supermarket (Yes they have them there too) where stuff is a bit cheaper. If you are in a sunbathing mood there are beaches nearby. Hopefully this will be of some help to future travellers. One point worthy of mention was an incident affecting the ship when travelling between Dubrovnik and Venice. A sudden squall hit the ship and caused it to list some degrees to port, sufficient to wake everyone as everything crashed off the cabin surfaces and we had to walk downhill to get out of our cabin. More worryingly, however, this listing persisted and for around three hours we all waited to see if it would carry on tipping over. As you no doubt know, ships bob about on the sea, but when they bob one way they immediately then bob the other way. That is the theory but in this case the other bob just didn’t happen, hence the worried looks. Our captain spoke once briefly from the bridge, told us this was normal and we should all go back to our coff….sorry cabins. Having seen the wreck of Costa Concordia in Genoa on our way to the ship it was not a reassurance that gave us a great deal of comfort. It turned out the following day that the cause of the persistent listing was the fact that the swimming pools on deck 15 had emptied out and the water was swilling about in the space enclosed by glass panels on the port side with nowhere to go. Not only that but another passenger told us that her daughter had experienced the self-same thing on her cruise with Ventura in June of this year. So there you are. If the ship suddenly lurches to one side and stays there it is nothing to worry about. Just don;t ask us to cruise with Ventura again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The basics of life on the Ventura were well organised by P and O. The essentials of cabin management, feeding and entertaining the passengers were all well organised. All facilities seemed to function well, in particular the warm clean ... Read More
The basics of life on the Ventura were well organised by P and O. The essentials of cabin management, feeding and entertaining the passengers were all well organised. All facilities seemed to function well, in particular the warm clean swimming pools were much appreciated. General cleanliness around the vessel was impressive. Staff were enthusiastic and efficient in carrying out their tasks. However the sea passage from Dubrovnik to Venice was something else. I am amazed that my wife slept through the whole episode! I say that because she is prone to motion sickness, and if she had been awake she would almost certainly have been ill! As far as I am concerned this started around 1.30am, when I awoke as the ship was swaying badly and pitching hard up and down into obviously a heavy sea. I guess we were lucky with a cabin close to the bow so that we did not suffer from the pronounced swaying or leaning that others have reported elsewhere. I can recall the thunderstorms and lightning we had observed before retiring the night before, but had no idea of the mayhem they would cause in the middle of the night. I tried to get out of bed and found it hard to stand up, as since we were in an inside cabin we had no reference as to what was level! I was never aware of the apparent broadcast by the Captain at about 2,30am, which has been widely reported elsewhere. I only know that my last recollection of being awake and bouncing was about 3.30am. Although the captain toured the dining rooms the following morning to reassure passengers, his answers to my questions were largely humorous jibes which I did not find entirely helpful. AS an experienced traveller I asked him to confirm that such storms were unusual in the Mediterranean. He replied that "we certainly found one last night." I then asked if he had been on the bridge at the time? His reply was 'Not initially but I was straight after the phone rang." I am afraid that I find the response inadequate. This captain was always full of flippant apparently humorous remarks during his broadcasts especially as we were about to leave port. His standard phrase was something like, "the chief engineer assures me that the rubber bands have been fully wound to enable us to leave port on way to 'X'." I didn't find that funny, and anything he is reported to have said in the early hours of the morning as we were bounced around like a cork, I would probably have dismissed as well. As a retired airline pilot we were always advised don't try to be humorous with passengers during public address announcements as the passengers need to be assured that calls from the captain are responsible instructions particularly when emergency procedures may subsequently be required. I find it even more worrying that as far as I am aware there has been no official statement from P & O at all. Other reports on the internet, confirm what I observed that night, and indeed some suggest that the Ventura was built with a shallow draught which it seems is likely to lead to instability when adverse weather strikes. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
A 14 nights cruise on Ventura from Genoa. We choose a cruise on the itinerary and value, and we have no loyalty to any cruise line. We tend to book late and have a balcony. Cabin 4/5 - D614 Superior Deluxe Balcony port side midships on ... Read More
A 14 nights cruise on Ventura from Genoa. We choose a cruise on the itinerary and value, and we have no loyalty to any cruise line. We tend to book late and have a balcony. Cabin 4/5 - D614 Superior Deluxe Balcony port side midships on Dominica deck 9. Approx 30% larger than a standard balcony cabin. King bed with quality linen and pillows. We slept well - very quiet. Plenty of UK 3 pin sockets and a few US flat 2 pin 110v sockets. Large lounge area with sofa (a double sofa bed). 2 flat screen TVs - one facing the bed and one facing the lounge area. Kettle & large fridge. In the Superior Balcony grade, you get a bottle of Champagne and box of chocolates on arrival, an atlas, binoculars, robes and slippers, plus canapés and fruit once a week. Plenty of storage space and a large digital safe. Plenty of glasses etc. Housekeeping twice a day. A reasonably sized balcony with 2 lounger chairs and a small table. The larger rooms on decks C and D stick out further than those cabins above and are hence overlooked. This is the price you pay for a larger room or bigger balcony. Bathroom 4/5 - normal cabin size with a full size bath and shower above. Lovely White Company toiletries (deluxe balconies only). Shaver point. Food 4/5 - Cinnamon and Saffron for evening Freedom dining. Bay Tree for fixed Dining at 18.30 and 20.30. Saffron for waiter served breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. We were allocated Freedom Dining in Cinnamon - we ate here most evenings and enjoyed sharing with new people each night, though we do like to break it up by eating elsewhere. The food and service were generally very good. There is no doubt that over time the quality of food on cruises has drifted downwards as prices and profits have been squeezed and it is perhaps no longer "fine dining", but the food is still very good. Entertainment 4/5 - everything was good that we saw. We particularly like the Headliner shows. The main shows are very popular and you need to get to the Arena Theatre 10 min before the show starts. Often, late arrives would be left standing or sitting on the steps. Ship 4/5 - still in good condition. Considering the ship had over 3,000 passengers on board, it never felt too crowded, except on sea days, when we were shocked at how packed the open decks were. Every sun lounger was taken and they were crushed together like sardines, with nowhere near enough deck space for all the passengers on sunny sea days. There were lots of sun loungers stacked up, but no deck space to put them. As often is the case, reserving loungers was endemic, despite warnings in the Horizon daily information sheet. Can't blame the Germans on this ship!! Service 5/5 - we found the staff hard working, efficient, helpful and courteous at all times. Our cabin steward Amelita looked after us very well throughout. Value 5/5 - we booked 10 days before we sailed. We had the choice of a standard balcony at £1,249 per person or £1,349 for a superior balcony - we chose the latter. Great value for a 2 week cruise Med in August including conveniently timed flights and transfers. The daily tip charge of £3.95pp is reasonable, as are the drinks prices and the fact that you can bring some booze on board at ports for consumption in your cabin. Overall 4/5. Hard to fault P&O these days. Sure there were some minor niggles (when isn't there), but overall this was a lovely cruise with a great itinerary and we have no hesitation recommending it. DAILY LOG Day 1 Embarcation in Genoa - a 10.35 departure Titan charter flight from East Midlands to Genoa. We had prebooked our seats. Nice leather seats and reasonable legroom. You can purchase food and drinks on board. The flight took 1hr 45 min and was on time. No collection of bags required at Genoa airport. We were whisked swiftly though to the transfer bus. Lots of P&O staff guiding us. At the port, the cruise check-in was very efficient and we were in our cabin by 14.00. The bags arrived soon afterwards. So from taking off to being on board ship was 2 1/2 hours - remarkable. We did not go into Genoa, but had lunch, unpacked and got to know the ship layout again. All on board by 18.30 and we sailed away at 19.00. Nothing much to see on the sail out except a beautiful private yacht in the harbor with its own helicopter. There was the standard muster drill at 18.30 before we left Genoa. We ate in Cinnamon. Too tired to watch the show. Day 2 Livorno - we docked at 07.30. Not a very pretty sail in. We have been to both Pisa and Florence a number of times before, though not cruising, so we just strolled around Livorno. You cannot walk in the Laverne dock area for safety, so free shuttle buses are provided which takes you into the centre (Piazza Grande). There is a tourist information there. You can get a bus from here to Pisa and Florence for €10 and €15 respectively. The Central Station is a 10 min walk away. We walked along the Via Grande to the central fort, which is surrounded by a wide moat. There are numerous canals in the historical centre called the Venetian Quarter. Plenty of interesting churches to visit - Santa Caterina was lovely. All on board 19.00 - sail away at 19.30. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was very good - Mark Walker, a multi-talented singer, musician, comedian and impersonator. Day 3 at sea - we walked 4 miles (10 laps) of the promenade deck (0.4 miles per lap), then worked on the tan in the afternoon. First Formal night. Captains cocktail party, then we ate in Cinnamon. The show was The Headliners doing music and dance from well known stage shows - excellent. Day 4 Naples - a pleasant sail into the Bay of Naples. We docked at 08.00. Gangway open 08.30. We walked to The Central Station - a 2 km stroll. and took the Circumversuvian Line to Pompeii. - one level below the main station - €2.90pp single fare. The train takes approx 20 min. The entrance to Pompeii ruins is by the station. €11 entrance including a site map. It's a huge site, so take strong shoes. We arrived there before 10.00. By 12.00 it was getting hot and busy with tours, so we left. We took the same train back to Herculaneum for a quick look at the small ruins (€11 entrance), then back to Naples and we were back on the ship by 15.00. I've been to Pompeii before, but it was my first time to Herculaneum. A nice day. All on board 17.30, with some late tour arrivals at 17.45, which didn't delay us. A nice sail away from Naples at 18.00 past Vesuvius, Sorrento, Capri and the beautiful Amalfi coast. We ate in Cinnamon. The show was an excellent trio of male singers doing classic soul and Motown sounds. Day 5 - at sea - a nice sunny sail down the west coast of Italy, through the narrow Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily and into the Ionian Sea. I ran 5 miles around the Promenade Deck in the morning, then spent some time in the sun. Freebee canapés delivered to the room. Second formal night. We ate in Cinnamon. A fine show by the Headliners "Reel to Reel" - music from British films. Day 6 - Dubrovnik - a lovely sail in. We docked at 08.00. There was a shuttle bus from the harbor to the Old Town (£4.50pp each way but worth it). We've walked the walls here before, so we spent a few hours wandering around the streets and the marina. It was a very hot day and the city walls looked very busy. We ate in the main buffet, as it was Tandoori night - very good. The show was another excellent set from Mark Warner. A completely different show from the one a few nights ago. Day 7 - Venice - we arrived at 12.15. It takes a while to enter Venice and larger ships have to be assisted by tugs. It is wonderful to sail into Venice Lagoon, then along the Canal San Marco and past the Grande Canal and St Marks Square - magical. Larger ships will not be able to do this next year and will have to dock elsewhere. We got the People Mover from the cruise terminal to Piazza Roma. €1.30pp each way, or you can walk it, as it's not too far. We walked from Piazza Roma to St. Marks Square and got a Vaporetto (water bus) back €7pp, which takes you fully down the Grande Canal. We spent the afternoon wandering the streets of this wonderful city. You can get a P&O water shuttle from the terminal to near St Marks. £15 for a day unlimited use or £25 for 2 days, but the shuttle does not go down the Grande Canal, whereas the Vaporetto does. It is good value though if you just want to get quickly to St Marks square and back. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was Reflex - the Headliners doing music and dance from the 1980's. A good lively show. Overnight in Venice. Day 8 Venice - we met our friends Peter & Janet who were doing the same 2 week P&O cruise, but from Venice. We used the P&O shuttle boat from near the ship to St Marks. Very efficient. We walked miles around Venice and got lost again. A wonderful sail away sipping cold Prosecco as we drifted slowly along the San Marco canal and past St Marks as the sun set. One of life's great travel experiences. After dinner in Saffron (though we were allocated Cinnamon, you can mix the 2 Freedom dining locations) we had a late night drink in Metropolis. A bit choppy overnight with the win reaching a max of Force 11. Day 9 at sea - we did 10 laps of the promenade deck. Then a few hours in the sun. 3rd formal night. After dinner in Saffron we watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - quite a good song and dance show. Day 10 Kotor - we set our alarm for 6.15 to watch the beautiful sail in. Kotor is at the end of a narrow river valley. We docked at about 08.00. We had to tender into town. We went to The Tamarind bar and got a tender ticket. We were called about 15 mins later. It was a lovely 10 min tender ride to the dock. Kotor is a small and pretty fortified city. We walked the 1,352 steps to the top of the fortress. Fab views from the top. We had a beer and wandered around the cobbled streets. All on board 18.30 and a lovely sail away back down the valley. Dinner in Cinnamon. After the steps, we were too tired for the a show. Day 11 Corfu - a nice sail in past the old fort. We docked at 08.00. We took a short shuttle bus to the old town €1.50 each way. We then walked the short distance to the bus station and caught a local bus to Paleokastritsa (€2.60) each way. A cab would be €50 each way. Paleo is a lovely cove and beach with clear water for swimming. We later caught the bus back to Corfu old town and spent a few hours wandering around the cobbled streets. All on board 17.00. A pleasant sail away. We had dinner in Saffron and did not go to the show, but listened to the pianist in the Atrium. Day 12 at sea - a lovely sunny day to top up the tan. We sailed through the Straits of Messina late morning and then sailed past Stromboli at 13.00. Fourth formal night. We watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - a fine medley of songs by the Headliners from Rogers & Hammerstein. Day 13 Civitavecchia (for Rome) - we arrived at 07.00. The gangway was open at 07.15. The weather suddenly closed in and we saw a number of tornados out to see. A free shuttle bus is provided by the port into the town. We have been to Rome before a couple of times (not cruising). Rome is 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way by road. I don't think you have enough time there to do it justice - much better to fly in and see it properly. We strolled along the Civitaveccia promenade to the central station and took the train to Santa Marinella (10 mins) - a pleasant seaside town (€1.10 each way). Last port return shuttle bus was 18.00. All on board 19.00. The weather was cloudy for the sail away. We had a nice meal in East (£15pp cover charge) and didn't go to the show. Day 14 Ajaccio - we arrived at 08.00 directly on the dock. It is only a few minutes walk into the town. Ajaccio is a very nice, small town with a marina, fort and some nice beaches. We spent a few hours strolling about the tree lined boulevards. Napoleon was born here and his image abounds in bronze. You can easily see it all in a few hours. All on board 16.00. A pleasant sail away and a lovely sunset. We had the "Food & Wine pairing dinner" at The Glasshouse. A cover charge of £30pp applies which includes a glass of wine with each of the 4 courses. There is a set dining time at 18.30, but even though we had pre-chosen our food, we still had to wait until 19.20 for any food. Excellent quality food and wine - 4 courses and 4 wines, with an explanation of each course. A lovely meal in a nice setting, but I could have done without the theatrics of clapping the chefs and waiters etc. An American chap even stood up and gave a short speech in celebration of the event - not sure what that was about. Suitcases outside the cabin by 23.00 latest. There was good & detailed information regarding our disembarcation procedure. Day 15 - disembarkation - we berthed in Genoa before 6.30. You are supposed to be out of your cabin by 07.00, but our kind steward Amelita let us stay until nearly 08.00, as she had lots of other cabins to clean already. After breakfast, we passed time by reading in the peace and quiet of Metropolis on deck 18. Disembarcation is by a colour coding system, which is announced over the tannoy. We were called at on time at 12.30 and bussed to Genoa airport. We were then led to security and passport control. We didn't even have to think what to do. Titan flight ZT9402 took off on time and we had an easy flight back to the UK.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Never been on a cruise before (of any sort), so unsure how it would compare to normal holidays(I normally arrange flights, hotels, transport, restaurants, etc, independently to pick the best that suits my needs). Allocated a balcony cabin ... Read More
Never been on a cruise before (of any sort), so unsure how it would compare to normal holidays(I normally arrange flights, hotels, transport, restaurants, etc, independently to pick the best that suits my needs). Allocated a balcony cabin on the Lido deck, which was not bad, apart from the overweight joggers who thought it fun to get red and out of puff using deck 16 above at 6:30am for their morning run. I soon put to a stop to that by getting the Night Manager to rope off that section of deck until 8am. The cabin itself - Travelodge circa 1985, even down to an open hanging rail rather than a wardrobe. Bed comfortable enough. Air-conditioning not up to the task, and room always too warm. Pointless mini-TV and a 'fridge' that was really a chiller that tried but wasn't up to the task. The bathroom had insufficient ventilation, thus nothing dried properly resulting in a mouldy shower curtain.The lack of drying meant that the cabin steward ended up needing to supply clean (dry) towels twice a day, every day. Food onboard was very patchy. - In the self-service cafeterias (Waterside and the Beach House) quantity over quality seemed the aim of the customers, who didn't seem to mind the luke warm food (chef measured the temperature and told me 65c was fine), noise, and the struggle to find a table. - Frankies Grill - Cheap burgers served on plastic plates. I would say more McDonalds than Byron, I that would be disparaging McDonalds. - Cinnamon and Saffron - Staff friendly and willing, and mostly efficient (apart from all the wine waiters), but the food? The problem was that the menu was overambitious, and they just kept failing to deliver. If somebody offers me a good meal, and they occasionally surprise by producing an excellent meal, I am happy. But if somebody promises me an excellent meal, but most often produces just a good meal, with the occasional rubbish, then I am unhappy. Unfortunately P&O fits into the latter category. The issue seemed to mainly occur in the evenings with the hot food. Cold starters were always perfect, but hot... utterly random. I can only assume an insufficient number of staff in the kitchen. I could also see why the older customers were happy with the food, because the menus seemed about 20 or 30 years out of date. It was certainly not the sort of interesting menu that you would have seen in London this millennium, even in an unambitious restaurant. Freedom dining, fine if you want to share. If not, be prepared to be asked to wait every night for up to an hour. Or they tell you a minimum of half an hour, so you get a drink, and then two minutes later call you. Random, and again not anything seen in any normal restaurant. Dress code, hmm. Take what P&O say with a pinch of salt. Casual evenings translated as "wear anything you like", including a few adult men wearing shorts in the main dining rooms in the evening. Formal evenings, the vast majority (95%+) were wearing dinner jackets and bow ties. The 'dark suit' option was chosen by very few, and I thought they stood out more than those who hadn't changed their dress style from the casual evenings, looking like they had just stumbled in from the office. Bars - Something to suit everyone, from the Metropolis cocktail bar down to the Exchange station Pub (I didn't think downmarket station pubs from the 80's still existed until I saw that one), but the prices were not bad. Entertainment - Much better than expected. Shows usually about 45 minutes, and clearly a lot of money and effort thrown at the productions. Also pleasantly surprised to see that there is a rotation of shows, so you won't see the same acts/shows repeated on a 14 night cruise. One poor entertainment point was the quality of the film projection on the films that were shown. P&O have spent a huge amount on the rest of the entertainment and insufficient on the film projection equipment*. If you want to see a film in TV standard definition quality, blown up onto a cinema size screen, so everything is fuzzy (or if they are showing it in one of the bars, on a 4:3 screen not widescreen), then this is for you. *When I asked, I was told that the equipment that they use to show the films was not intended to do so, but was only intended to show backdrops, etc as part of the stage show. It shows. And a final point on entertainment. If you know that a show is going to be full, what sort of idiot leaves a single spare seat between them and the next group, so that you have two or three empty seats on their own in a row. So don't be shocked when someone asks you to move up. Swimming pools and deck chairs. People were out at 6:30am, especially on sea days, putting out towels to reserve chairs. Their tactics were successful as P&O were utterly ineffectual about doing anything about it, other than to print a small bit in occasionally the newspaper. Port stops, mostly good, but excursions were completely extortionate. And I thought that the captain seemed to express just a little to much pleasure in announcing for several days running, that some people who had gone ashore to Rome had been left behind, especially as he then went straight into a sales pitch for the excursions. Venice - You would have thought that for people travelling independently to the ship, P&O would appreciate that they may need some information such as the berth number and automatically provide it. Alas no. You may also think that they would tell you when check in opens, not just a suggested arrival time. Alas no. You may also think that they would tell boarding passengers which restaurants were open at lunch time, so everyone is not queuing at Waterside. Alas no. Kotor - A long 20 minute tender ashore for a pleasant morning stroll, but not much there. I suspect it is lovely about 8pm in the evening with a cold beer, but of course we had left by then. Corfu - A free port shuttle bus ride to the port gate, and then change to a second (possibly chargeable) P&O shuttle bus ride to the town gate, for a pleasant morning stroll. I know from previous visits Corfu town is lovely about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Rome - From Civitavecchia, a free port shuttle bus ride to the port gate, and then a second chargeable town bus ride to the station, followed by a train to Rome. Absolute chaos at Civitavecchia railway station on the return, as everybody arrived back on the same train, all wanting to catch the single bus that would get them back to the ship before it sailed. Made worse by American's who struggled with the concept of public transport, and had never experienced the joy of the Northern Line on the tube in the morning peak. A nice day seeing the sights, but, and there is theme developing here, I know from previous visits it is lovely about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Ajaccio - France, very definitely France, even down to the dog on the pavements. But nice all the same. I suspect even nicer about 8pm, but of course we had left by then. Ajaccio to Genoa - Force 8 winds, so the sick bags were out and being filled. However as I don't get sea sick, after an interesting show where the cast were struggling to stay upright, up to Metropolis to watch the front of the ship going up, up, up and then down, down, down crashing through the waves. Lots of carpets being cleaned around the public toilets the next morning. Genoa - A stroll into town down a street that would have made the Kings Cross area in the 90's feel upmarket. At 9am it was interesting. At 9pm I suspect it is very interesting. A pleasant morning spent strolling the more upmarket areas of Genoa and using the funiculars and lifts to see the views, before returning to the ship for lunch. I used the bus to get back to town in the afternoon, as I had seen enough tattoo parlours and shifty people selling other "goods" and "services" for the day. Livorno - Been to both Pisa and Florence before (and been able to stay past 4pm), so opted to stroll around Livorno, which is a surprisingly pleasant port town without the "interesting" characteristics of Genoa. Naples - Easy day trip out to Herculaneum on the tram and train. Enlivened by pickpockets on the tram on the way back, necessitating a trip to the Naples central Police Station (the cruise port police dealing with people off the cruise ships don't speak anything other than Italian, why would they?). The building and police detective who offered to assist were straight out of the casting for Hill Street Blues. Really helpful guy and worth the hassle going there, as the insurance paid up without question. So the pickpockets did me a favour by getting me a shiny new phone. On the way back to the ship from the police station, a bloke sticks his head around a street corner and says "psst, want to buy an iPhone or an iPad". Dubrovnik - A (possibly chargeable) shuttle bus ride to the town gate. At 9am up on the city walls there were half a dozen people, including a guy running laps of the wall. By 11am, Dubrovnik was full. Completely full. I can understand the desire to rebuild after the 1991-92 conflict, but the whole effect now is rather Disney, except I suspect Disney would do it better. The whole city within the walls now only exists for tourists, with every place being a museum, a bar, a restaurant, or a shop selling tourist tat (catering for all ends of the scale from cheap to expensive tat). And what was amusing was that Croatia uses the Kuna not the Euro, so lots of signs saying "No Euros". Or the sneaky bars not saying whether they did or didn't, but you could be sure it wouldn't be to your advantage if you only had Euros to pay. Hot as hades, by early afternoon, so a nice long queue in the sun to get a shuttle back to the ship. Definitely a place that is nicer at 8pm. Venice again - As the ship stays overnight, then we were able to go into the city late afternoon, and be able to stay into the evening after all the day trippers had left. Much, much more pleasant riding a vaporetto back up the Grand Canal as the sun is setting. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Thoroughly enjoyed our Cruise, the organisation onboard and disembarking for the Shore, was fantastic and the ship appeared spotless in all areas. Our Cabin Steward was exceptional, quiet and unobtrusive, but twice a day our cabin was ... Read More
Thoroughly enjoyed our Cruise, the organisation onboard and disembarking for the Shore, was fantastic and the ship appeared spotless in all areas. Our Cabin Steward was exceptional, quiet and unobtrusive, but twice a day our cabin was serviced with nice little touches like towel animals. We were sorry that he, Altivey, finished his stint, before our trip was over. We found the Buffet food good, a different theme each night and if you didn't like that Genre, there was always a Roast on offer. There have been some niggles by other critics about how quickly/ slowly the food is served in the Saffron or Cinnamon Restaurants, how can the waiters please every one? Some cruisers are in a rush to get to the first Show, others want to linger. We thought the Four Tunes and the Headliners provided excellent shows and we liked the Comedians. We found you couldn't have a leisurely meal and make the first show, the alternative was waiting around till 1030pm for the second show. The Musical Director and his Team were mostly good , but perhaps could have showed their talents more often, besides the Sailaways. Having your photo taken so often was nice and gave you a great variety of shots to choose from, but it was too expensive for you to buy most of them. I found the Guides on some of the Tours quite tedious and often hard to listen to or understand. I felt English people with Local Knowledge would have been more interesting, I didn't want to hear the history of almost every building I passed or the geneology of everyones ancestors. Facts I forgot in most cases as soon as I heard them. A bit of current local knowledge would have been preferable. The Excursions were of course pushed and it would have been good if the Ship gave more information on visiting the ports independently. We would have loved to see behind the Scenes of the Ventura but at 75 Euros per person for the privilege, we, and most others, declined, thank you. In common with most people, we could not get a Sun Lounger because they were claimed by the Towels and Belongings of their, usually absent, owners. P and O saying this is not allowed, is NO deterrent. Despite the few niggles, would I cruise with P and O again, definitely.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
A little late but here we go, disappointed with the Ventura the transfers were good from Manchester to Venice then to ship, when on the ship had to go first to the waterside Buffett talk about manic what a ridiculous set up no room for ... Read More
A little late but here we go, disappointed with the Ventura the transfers were good from Manchester to Venice then to ship, when on the ship had to go first to the waterside Buffett talk about manic what a ridiculous set up no room for movement everyone in each other way and no tables also no squashes only tea coffee or water to drink like a bun fight. Eventually got our cabin on B deck with balcony very spacious and clean changed towels twice a day and sheets once a week, decided to go on water taxi into Venice cost £15 from reception, left ship went outside a bus was there asked rep was told that only people in wheelchairs could use this. I am registered disabled but only use sticks he was quite adamant that I could not get on.Eventually he relented and let me on,he came with me how ridiculous other people were struggling along on foot what a waste of resources. The one saving grace was another gent at the waterside helped me on and off boat and directed me to a shop when back to get bottles of coke much cheaper than on the boat. Afternoon tea that day was a bit of a joke all over the place cakes first etc,also the staff could not get rid of you quick enough very surly.We found the cruise to be anything but relaxing no sun beds all week unless up at crack of dawn, late dinner which we asked to changed to be earlier but catagorically told No so time dinner finished no shows as to tired Been with Royal Carribean and so much more relaxing better food and more room to relax. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our seventh cruise having previously been on 4 Royal Caribbean ships, P & O Aurora and Azamara Journey for a special occasion. The ports of call on this Ventura cruise appealed to us and despite some negative reviews we ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise having previously been on 4 Royal Caribbean ships, P & O Aurora and Azamara Journey for a special occasion. The ports of call on this Ventura cruise appealed to us and despite some negative reviews we thought we would try a larger P & O ship. As summarised above, we thought Ventura was in pretty good condition, our cabin on B deck had an un-overlooked balcony with loungers (we looked on to cabins below so lower deck balconies were not private) and was nicely furnished, bed comfortable and a very nice cabin steward Manoj who attended to everything for us. We ate in the Saffron restaurant on Freedom Dining and it worked well, the food was good. We also tried the White Room but did not think it was worth the extra £50.00. The Glass House wine bar was great, the wine was really good and the food and prices excellent. The problem for us on Ventura was the number of people on board and the lack of space both in places like the Waterside buffet (a real scrum to find a seat and food) and the outside decks especially on sea days. The loungers are packed together like sardines and there is just not enough room. We quite like to sit outside on a chair in the sun with a book in a quietish area but there was no availability of chairs or quiet. We probably should have booked the Retreat area but objected to the cost and on a 7 day cruise we just gave it a miss. Consequently we had a continental breakfast delivered to our room each day which was OK but not spectacular, and used our balcony on sea days when it was in the sun. Previous cruises have also been made up of varying nationalities and we prefer that mix of people on holiday. At times there is a Butlins on Sea feel about Ventura, a comment which has been made before. So its back to Royal Caribbean or possibly P&O Aurora for us - we really enjoyed the latter, more space, smaller boat. I think Ventura appeals to some Brits because it is so British, there was even Lancashire Hot Pot on the menu one lunchtime and a safe food menu generally with bread and butter pudding, roast dinners etc. The beer and wine is also very cheap which again is probably geared to us Brits who like a drink. Its horses for courses and you can't please everyone but regrettably we won't be back on Ventura or Azura again.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our second trip on the Ventura and already had two cruises on the Azura. Ships are the same layout but still managed to take wrong turnings. On the whole though the ships easy to find your way around. Flew from Manchester, flight ... Read More
This was our second trip on the Ventura and already had two cruises on the Azura. Ships are the same layout but still managed to take wrong turnings. On the whole though the ships easy to find your way around. Flew from Manchester, flight P & O Thomson charter which was fine, all run to times. Airport to Cruise Terminal and Embarkation seamless, though had a wait of 20 minutes for Italian Police to show re embarkation. Accessed our cabin relatively quickly, luggage soon after. Greeted by a smiley Vijaya, very pleasant cabin steward who kept the cabin spotless. We were allocated second dining and our waiters were excellent, very friendly and efficient, no problems there, food was good with enough choices for all courses. We never used the alternative dining venues on this cruise, though have in the past and would say they are excellent. Used the dining rooms for all meals and found everything to our liking. Not too many problems finding somewhere to sit in the sun, when it was out, but then the ship was not full. Have been on the ship full and struggled to find sunbeds, so many reserved with towels. We never used the ships shore excursions, find them quite pricey in the Med, did our own thing. Our needs are relatively simple, overall had a really nice cruise, good food, nice bars, excellent entertainment, and really nice fellow cruisers. Shame about most of the weather. This is our second time at the Med round about the same time April/May, been told we were unlucky !! Won't try again at this time. Off to the sunny Caribbean again in February and on this same ship, which for us speaks for itself.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Really enjoyed our third Ventura cruise which was excellent for the most part, The ship was spotless, the cabin steward Michael was efficient and kept the cabin like a new pin. The ports of call were lovely especially Kotor and Dubrovnik. ... Read More
Really enjoyed our third Ventura cruise which was excellent for the most part, The ship was spotless, the cabin steward Michael was efficient and kept the cabin like a new pin. The ports of call were lovely especially Kotor and Dubrovnik. The entertainment that we saw was very good. The food was in the main very good, However, meals now come with vegetables already on the plate whether you want them or not. Compared to our other eight P&O cruises we were disappointed with the staff around the ship, with the exception of our cabin steward, very few staff had a smile. The T. V. channels were the fewest we've had on any cruise, There were in total nine of them, four P&O channels, two news channels, two sports channels and just one other lifestyle channel. On other P&O cruises the captain gave regular daily updates on progress, weather and sea conditions for the day and night ahead, on this cruise the updates were few and you never knew when they were coming. At the second muster for those joining the ship in Venice the announcement was made that the Captain would soon be addressing the new passengers about safety on board, shortly after, the voice of the captain came over the intercom welcoming everyone on board which was fine and made you feel that as an individual you were important to the captain and his crew, until about 30 seconds after he had finished, the speech started all over again and we realised it was just a recording! Like many others have said, we feel standards are slipping with P&O. Personally I think that with the gratuities being taken up front there is less of an incentive for the ships crew to be as friendly as they used to be. All this aside we had a lovely cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We have just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Ventura with some friends. Both couples have used P & O Cruises in the past and have had excellent experiences, however on this occasion we all agreed that there is something going wrong ... Read More
We have just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Ventura with some friends. Both couples have used P & O Cruises in the past and have had excellent experiences, however on this occasion we all agreed that there is something going wrong with P & O in respect of their staff recruitment, training and entertainment choices. Firstly, I would like to say that our cabin stewards were the highlight of our cruise in respect of staffing, they were excellent and interacted well, needed no prompting and were totally efficient - excellent experiences in cabins. However, the bar staff and catering staff looked dower, miserable and bored most of the time. Interaction was negligible and only if you spoke to them did you get a response that was one word or two. Staff in the entertainment teams were not of the standard we had experienced and we felt that they were better placed in a Butlins holiday camp. The Cruise Director was ineffective and totally lacking in direction towards his team and this gave us the feeling that the entertainment team were there to enjoy themselves rather that entertain us. The shows were mixed ranging from excellent to dire. Bar staff were too quick to try to take away your glass even when it was not empty and they pushed drinks every few minutes even when you had told the same waiter 'no thank you' only 3 minutes before. Only on dress nights did you know there was an officer crew on board as they were not very visual for the rest of the time. Customer services need to learn how to smile and understand that the reason you go to them with a question is that you don't know something and not to give you half an answer and leave you to work the rest out for your self. Photographers need to understand when you say no you mean no and not to be so pushy and disrespectful when engaging with people who know what the want. Our evening meals appeared rushed, there was no time between courses and the waiters kept clearing the table as each person finished an item, hence there was always a waiter hovering at the table. This appeared to be general to the whole of the dining room. The ship itself was clean and the food good, prices were fair and the cruise experiences was generally what you would expect, however on this occasion I would consider choosing another cruise company as it was obvious where P & O are making the cost savings/changes in their service, and they are not doing it very well. It was not only ourselves that noticed the changes as many times this same conversation was heard around the ship. The most uncomfortable aspect for all of us on the cruise was the amount of areas that smokers can go. When exiting the restaurants with your buffet to sit by the pool, it was unpleasant to have to walk through the smokers and when there were no tables available having to sit amongst them when eating your meal. P & O appear to be catering to the smokers far too much. Our last cruise was with Princess Cruises and I am sorry to say that they knocked spots off the Ventura in all aspects of our cruising experience. The staff must be doing what has been instructed as the above was throughout the cruise and no one person can be blamed, this appears to be a culture that is being developed. If this is the standard that is going to be allowed to develop them P & O as a premier line will lose its reputation and customers to other companies.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Just arrived home from our first cruise. 1-14th March. We stayed on the Ventura. Being first timers we really didn't know what to expect. We flew from Gatwick to Barbados on Thomson Dreamliner and were very impressed with the amount ... Read More
Just arrived home from our first cruise. 1-14th March. We stayed on the Ventura. Being first timers we really didn't know what to expect. We flew from Gatwick to Barbados on Thomson Dreamliner and were very impressed with the amount of legroom. I assume long haul flights always have personal tv's for entertainment? On arrival in the port in Barbados we were amazed by the cheerfulness of the security staff and those dealing with our ID cards, I asked the guy dealing with mine if I should smile for my photo and he said "Oh yes SMILE, it's good to smile"!. I fully agree with the continuous use of anti bacterial hand gel used before you step on board and in all the dining rooms, such a pity many people ignore it. I wish airlines would use it too! We found our way (eventually) to our cabin (C422) and were very pleasantly surprised with our large balcony whilst below us had half the size and the ones above were even smaller, their cabins were probably much bigger but we had ample space so were very happy!! The rooms are kept immaculately clean by the stewards, mostly boys who do an amazing job and work extremely hard 7 days a week, rooms are serviced twice a day and it's a lovely gesture to find little squares of chocolate on your bed at night. Towels are changed each day and personal flannels are replaced morning and night. Tea, coffee, biscuits etc replenished twice daily. We had a set table in the Bay Tree Restaurant. The menu wasn't particularly amazing but it was better not to have too much to choose from and the food was beautifully presented and very filling. Wine was very reasonably priced as was most of the drinks on board. The waiters were extremely efficient and very pleasant and I cannot fault the service in any way. Entertainment wasn't really to our taste but this is not a criticism. We read a review about sunbeds but although there wasn't supposed to be a shortage, on days at sea we couldn't find two together and it was very much 'sardines in a can', this part of the cruise we didn't like, also there were no sunshades with the sunbeds. We booked a trip for each island we stopped at as we didn't want to just wander aimlessly, each trip also gave us free time to look around the shops in the ports. It was really good to arrive in a different place (nearly) every day. Regarding tipping, we opted out of the compulsory tip charge because we wanted to know EXACTLY where our money was going. Ask at reception for a form if you wish to opt out. We always tip generously, but like to tip those we choose to tip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
So this was my second time cruising with p&o but my first time in the carribbean.The flights to and from the cruise were faultless and the embarkation was quick and easy. Entertainment- There was some form of entertainment on most ... Read More
So this was my second time cruising with p&o but my first time in the carribbean.The flights to and from the cruise were faultless and the embarkation was quick and easy. Entertainment- There was some form of entertainment on most nights and i have to admit they were mostly amazing however during the day there isnt alot going on which i was a bit disapointed in.there wasnt any entertainment around the pools apart from at the sailaway parties at which the deck was too crowded to enjoy it. service- All the bar staff were excellent and friendly apart from one who seemed to be fine to me but was always blunt and rude to my 14 year old daughter(who wasnt loud or rowdy) which i thought was a bit of a let down to an overall good service.However the same cannot be said about my cabin steward(dulce) who was useless.There were 3 of us in my cabin and yet she only supplied us with 2 towels, therefore we asked for another to be in there however in the end we had to go out to her trolley and go get one ourselves every morning because she never gave us one. port-The shore excursions arranged by p&o were amazing and ran smoothly, i would highly reccomend the two reef turtle snorkel as the staff and the excursion itself was exceptionally good. dining- i went to the resturant twice and was not amazed, the food just never seemed to appeal to me and so we ended up going to the buffet most of the time where there was a much better selection of food which was good except for the lack of fruit during lunch and dinner. childrens clubs- My 14 year old daughter used the teens club every day and was definately not dissapointed. on the first night there were only 2 other children in the kids club which were both 5 years younger than her but the youthie working at the time(sam) made a big effort to make her feel welcome.on the second day my daughter went to see if any more children of her age had come to the kids club yet and there were a few more children but not any of her age, however sarah(one of the youthies) who had never met lauren before came over and knew lauren by name and age already and really made her feel welcome and comfortable and assured her that some children of her age would turn up soon. when 2 boys her age turned up sarah made an effort to introduce lauren to them and from then on lauren became good friends with them and spent every spare minute in the kids club.The youthies are all really friendly and caring but arent bossy or patronising, they would joke around with the kids and tease them like they were one of them. We were really pleased with all the youth staff she encountered and i would like to give them all credit: Sam,Abi,Sarah,Lynne,,Danii,Laura, Vicky and Denise, you were all amzing and made laurens cruise experience 100x better. overall this cruise was amazing and am definately going to go on it again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Just got home from our 3rd P & O cruise, had a fantastic time but I do feel P & O is slipping behind it's competitors, we have already picked our next cruise and it will be Princess again. Our cabin on the Ventura was fine but ... Read More
Just got home from our 3rd P & O cruise, had a fantastic time but I do feel P & O is slipping behind it's competitors, we have already picked our next cruise and it will be Princess again. Our cabin on the Ventura was fine but smaller than Princess, our cabin steward was top notch, couldn't fault his service. However I was enraged to find out from him that we could not have a toweling robe in our cabin. Even on Princess you have to ask for one but you do get it. How penny pinching is this!!! Likewise the food, it was lovely, well cooked and served but no little luxuries like Lobster, caviar and other delights which Princess do so well. We thought the entertainment was good on this ship, enjoyed several of the theatre shows and entertainers but missed a nightclub/disco on board, there was a Dj in the Havana bar but always really late in the evening. Shops were a total disappointment, expensive stuff, Harrods range, mega expensive handbags, not a patch on Princess. Frustrated to find no waiter service in the buffets, self service tea and self service wine dispensers!!! Swimming pools were freezing, didn't use them at all, we waited for the beach. Plus side - drinks were really cheap, £3.50 for a pint of John Smiths and £13 for a bottle of red, saved us a fortune. Also the cost of the cruise is cheaper overall but we would rather pay extra for the little luxuries. We flew Premium class Thomas Cook, worth every penny extra for more leg room and great service. So P & O pull your socks up a bit and stop all the little economies because when we cruise we are looking for luxury. Our next ship will be Ruby Princess, looking forward to comparing!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We have just arrived home last week from caribbean cruise on ventura,and after reading many good and bad reviews on this ship,and having sailed with P&O 4 times before,once on ventura 3 years ago,I have to conclude that things are not ... Read More
We have just arrived home last week from caribbean cruise on ventura,and after reading many good and bad reviews on this ship,and having sailed with P&O 4 times before,once on ventura 3 years ago,I have to conclude that things are not the same,standards seem to be slipping, the food and entertainment are not on the same level as many other cruise companies,and the type of passengers seems to have changed. You could say "you get what u pay for",we only booked two weeks before and got a lovely balcony cabin for a reduced priced,but I would not have been happy if I had paid full price,as I know a lot of passengers had,but a lot of people we spoke to had got a cheap holiday in the caribbean sunshine and were quite happy! So to sum, up if you can get a reduced price, cabin, from your local airport its dam good value for money. BULLET POINTS. Regional flights,easy check in,no hassle with luggage,good quick transfers to ship Flight with First Choice a bit slap dash,food terrible,paid £2.50 for 1 cup of tea in 8 hours(free bar gone now). Good size cabin,but needed a good clean.Cabin attendant helpful and attentive. Have always liked tea and coffee and biscuits in cabin and free laundry facillities. WATERSIDE/BUFFETS REST. Just ok,never very.hot. ok if u like salads or curries (well there are a lot of indian chefs,but all the currys were good currys,if you love curry) Good English breakfast,but toast always rock hard ,Plenty of other choices too. Serveries just not wide enough,people go the wrong way when they forget some thing, so it ended up like a bun fight. Then you carnt find a seat as people dont move and sit drinking cups of tea BAY TREE REST. Freedom dinning very good,Food and Menus good and varied, for all meals, although meals plated now. Service Good, waiters very pleasant. Most passengers respected dress codes. OTHER SELECT DINNING. I believe was very good but did not use ourselves.Seems an excellent option and very popular for special occasions. ENTERTAINMENT. We found very poor comparing to all previous cruises(about 20 to date).3 comedians in the first week which were just ok.We had seen all the HEADLINERS shows before,3 years ago.Other lookie like,Elton John,Neil Dimond and Cliff Richard,nothing special The Havana Venue is not big enough and not fit for purpose,a lot of people standing,and u couldnt see the small stage although there are small TV screens you can watch the show on. Plenty of other entertainment/music/bands in different venues,depending on taste.t We went to bed early most nights, Television channels minimal in cabin,and have to pay now for any decent film. Entertainment on deck minimal,No organised games around the pool which can be fun when at sea. Entertainment Team on deck at sailaways akin to Butlins singing the same songs every time,month after month,Although THE GREAT BRITISH SAILAWAY is unique and never to be missed,a memory which is never forgotten on a PO cruise. Organised Trips. Good selection,well organised but expensive. You can venture out on your own or with others cheaper in local taxis and buses. SUNBEDS like sardines on sea days ,which was only 3 single days,but there are no germans,so you can find a bed eventually.Better not sit around the pool if carnt stand loud mouthed Brits eating pizzas all day,or dont like TOWIE or Embarassing Bodies. CREW always friendly,polite and helpfull You can take your own alcohol aboard,which most ships dont allow,We saw loads of older ladies with little bottles of spirits in their handbags. I expect they will put a stop to that soon. Drinks reasonable prices,nice cocktails,waiters not pushy with the hard. sell as on american ships. So to sum up, as I could go on for ever,we had a good holiday,met some nice people and ate some lovely food,BUT alot of the competing cruise ships are on another level now,in the decor ,venues,entertainment,food and service and standards. Unfortunately we will be looking else -where for our next cruise,PO you may have just lost another few loyal British cruisers Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was our first time in the Caribbean and also with P and O. The good. The P and O charter flight both to and from Barbados were faultless, flights on time both ways, you put your bags on at the airport and do not see them again until ... Read More
This was our first time in the Caribbean and also with P and O. The good. The P and O charter flight both to and from Barbados were faultless, flights on time both ways, you put your bags on at the airport and do not see them again until in your cabin, on the return, you put your bags out of the cabin before 11pm the night before departure and pick them up again at the home airport. When you arrive in Barbados, you get off the plane and straight onto a coach for the ship, this is followed by a very quick and efficient check in process, overall superb. Cabin steward, Raju, one of the nicest we have ever had on a cruise, extremely polite, efficient and totally un obtrusive. The standard of food was good overall. The majority of the staff did not appear very happy and some of the bar and waiters certainly appeared overworked with a constant stream of superiors checking on them. The ports of call are superb, very friendly people and safe to get around. It is easy to book tours through the ship, but also easy to get tours off the ship without feeling conned. If you are in St Lucia, I would certainly recommend Cosol Tours, absolutely fabulous. The bad This is not an old ship, yet is already showing signs of wear and tear, dirty carpets in hallways etc. It is the first time we have seen basic maintenance being carried out on sea days in public areas, necessitating the closure of public areas. Closing the Beach hut buffet area at lunchtimes on sea days, which only added to the queues in the adjacent main buffet area. Given the size of the ship, the main theatre is too small, if you want a seat you have to be in place at least 30 - 40 minutes before the show starts. The few shows we did see were nothing more than OK, one of the resident bands were very good but only put on a silly times and in the smaller venues. As above in the good, the majority of the staff are lovely, but I was surprised as to how some of them were treated by fellow passengers. Do not get me wrong, if anyone has a cause for concern, they are perfectly entitled to complain, but we personally witnessed some staff being spoken to in a simply appalling manner, The ugly We are from Scotland and I like a drink as much as the next person, but I have never seen sights like it on a cruise. P and O should warn people going on booze cruises or Rum Runner trips about the dangers of very strong alcohol in unusual heat. Sitting on deck 15 just before a sail away we saw ( which turned out to be perfectly healthy people ) collapsing quayside and being wheel chaired on board by uniformed and medical staff purely through drink. On the same night, we were next to a table where a man passed out over dinner, he had been on a booze cruise, none of these people were youngsters. We will certainly return to the Caribbean as it is gorgeous, however, it will more than likely not be with P and O, not because of the staff. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My Husband, myself, our daughter and 82 mum in law were on the Ventura for 2 weeks in the caribbean. Loved just checking in our luggage at Birmingham, and not seeing until we arrived in our cabin in Barbados. We had 2 balcony cabins on ... Read More
My Husband, myself, our daughter and 82 mum in law were on the Ventura for 2 weeks in the caribbean. Loved just checking in our luggage at Birmingham, and not seeing until we arrived in our cabin in Barbados. We had 2 balcony cabins on deck 14, loved waking up every morning and going out on our balcony and seeing coming into every port. First time a balcony cabin, cabin numbers R242 & R246, sorry inside cabin no more. The only thing that spoilt our enjoyed were the people in the next cabin smoking, and then coughing their guts up. Not for much longer I know this is being stopped, but didn't help us at the time. Sandy our room attendant was great, everything perfect including the towel dog. First time my mum in law had cruised, she was well looked after. Dining was fabulous, food was great everyday. The entertainment team of headliners were fantastic, and the guest singers Jane Curry and Peter Grant were brilliant. We had been on the Azura twice before and thought that the Glass House was much better on Azura. The retreat we thought was a waste of space, not many passengers using it. Didn't like the pool with the roof over, we thought that Azura was much better and bigger space with the cinema. Mum in Law had to use the medical centre, only took a weeks worth of medication, the doctor was brilliant, he telephoned the surgery in England to find out the medication she took. Couldn't fault at all. The only thing that leaves a bitter sweet taste is the way that p&o have treated early bookers. We booked this cruise 16 months ago, and upto a few weeks before sailing, p&o selling a balcony cabin for 1/2 the price we paid. I wrote to p&o but they didn't want to know. Shame on you p&o, seriously get your act together with your price policy. Treat your past passengers much better or we will go elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Having cruised on many previous occasions, but always with RCI/Celebrity, both in the Med and the Caribbean and on ships right up to and including Oasis class, this P&O booking was last minute, (to mark my 50th birthday), but the draw ... Read More
Having cruised on many previous occasions, but always with RCI/Celebrity, both in the Med and the Caribbean and on ships right up to and including Oasis class, this P&O booking was last minute, (to mark my 50th birthday), but the draw of sailing from Southampton appealed, as did the price for our usual grade of balcony cabin, so we took a chance and opted to try P&O's Ventura? After all, it was peak season and having been advertised as a 'family ship', we assumed that there would be loads to do by way of activities and entertainment, whilst P&O/Cunard are names that have been around for generations? Driving, instead of flying, was a pleasure and the meet-and-greet service for the car parking was faultless, as was the check-in procedure in the terminal. However, the differences showed from the second we boarded, as instead of the usual glass of chilled bubbly, instead, there were just a few half-hearted smiles from those assembled. Hey ho? Locating our cabin was easy and I have to say, whilst there were no real surprises, (it was immaculate and well equipped as usual), the extra hanging space was very well received. This said, the shower cubicle is noticeably smaller than those found on RCI/Celebrity....and I mean noticeably! We were travelling with another couple, so once we'd established that we were all dining aat the second sitting, but that we'd been put in different restaurants, (not just tables), we went to the main dining room and joined the queue to see the Manager. Apparently, we weren't alone, so we waited patiently and once ushered into the restaurant, we approached the man behind the desk, who, once we'd explained out predicament, informed us that there was nothing he could do, but that he'd try to seat us together, in the same restaurant, from the following day? I politely informed him that this was not acceptable, I reminded him that we had booked together and that we wanted to sit together, but he again repeated that there was nothing he could do! It was only after we had escalated the matter to a Customer Relations Manager, that we were given the possibility of some hope? However, as it subsequently transpired, the impossible became possible, as indeed, we sat and dined together. Funny how things can happen if you really try hard enough! Another issue relates to formal dining, as whilst I wear a suit and tie for work, I consciously choose not to wear a tux for the formal evenings, although I do wear a shirt and tie, (on RCI/Celebrity). However, having been informed that unless I wore a jacket, I would be refused access to the main restaurant(s) on the three formal evenings, I asked to see where it said this in writing? Yes, it advises/suggests that a tux be worn, but nowhere does it state in writing that without a jacket, entrance will be refused! Strangely, not even a F&B, not a CR manager, could show me this, although had I have been aware, I would have been prepared. Thanks P&O for the head's-up, albeit, a fantastic F&B No.2 officer found me a jacket to smooth the way. If you already have the impression that we wouldn't travel P&O again, you're probably spot on, although to provide tangible reasons why, here are some facts and not just opinions, which of course are entirely personal: * Available options for the breakfast buffet get nowhere near comparing with that offered by RCI/Celebrity, whilst regardless, P&O have clearly never heard of serving warm/hot toast! * Unfortunately, the same goes for the lunchtime buffet menu * Insufficient seating exists for buffet dining, (which is well documented), with you needing to fight, or wait, to secure a table at busy times! * We experienced poorly maintained areas of the buffet restaurant, with tables left covered in soiled plates and one waiter not clearing crockery, as we were informed that it was another's responsibility! * We understand that P&O do have a company teaspoon, (probably just the one for the fleet), but for anyone on our ship, you'll laugh at the complete lack of teaspoons. (Oh come on, smile.....we did). * The quality of the evening meals, (in the main restaurant), exceeded that of RCI/Celebrity, whilst our Waiter and Ass. Waiter, (Bay Tree, table 118), were nothing short of outstanding * No soft drinks packages are available, unless you want to combine a quantity of sodas with ice-creams? No thank you. * There are also insufficient numbers of poolside beds for the number of passengers travelling, which is drastically highlighted on 'sea days' * Daytime entertainment activities are incredibly poor and other than being posted in Horizon, (the on-board paper, the preceding evening), nothing is advertised on the day, before the event, over the PA system! * The on-board photography really team didn't inspire anyone and something that quite a few passengers that we spoke to really took offence at, was that when positioning passengers for a picture, some of them actually touched clothing and/or jewellery, to reposition it. Sorry, please don't invade my space by touching me like that! * Apparently, we had a Cruise Director on-board, although unlike other cruise lines, he was practically invisible? * The excursions team were called upon to address quite a few unhappy passengers after a very poor tour specifically, (a 2.5hr coach trip each way, with a 40min stop at a cafe and not at all as advertised) and they did so by merely informing the group that there was nothing that they could do, or would do and that a refund would not be entertained! * The afternoon silver-service cream tea is a 'must', so long as you're entirely comfortable having sandwiches, cakes, crumpets, tea cakes and scones, all served at your table at precisely the same time! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my food, but steady on chaps, the plates aren't big enough for everything at the same time! If you're still reading my review, it's probably because you can't believe my perceived levels of negativity, or you're just plain curious. However, what about this? My brother-in-law inadvertently locked his sleeping wife out on their balcony. OK, it wasn't clever, but these things happen. However, when we were alerted to this fact by her calling to us over the balconies and we visited Customer Relations asking for assistance, we understand that they couldn't provide us with a duplicate cabin key, (after all, it wasn't out cabin), but it really shouldn't have taken almost an hour for someone to have gone into their cabin to open the balcony door!! Furthermore, my wife and I were on our own balcony afterwards discussing the matter, only to find our cabin steward and the Head of Housekeeping, standing in our cabin, knocking on our own balcony door to attract our attention! Apparently, we hadn't heard them knock on our cabin door, so they let themselves in and stood looking at us on the balcony. And if we'd been undressed, or otherwise engaged, (I'll let you work the rest out), but they didn't see an issue with it? Apparently, neither did Customer Relations, as when we raised the matter with them, they dismissed us out of turn! And now for something completely different: * As already mentioned, the quality of the evening meals in the main restaurants were excellent * Jessica Lloyd, the female solo vocalist, was world class! * The resident Ventura Band was outstanding! * Our cabin was maintained beautifully! * The overall presentation of the ship, (apart from the external public decks where smoking was allowed), was immaculate! * The retail therapy, for a ship that size, were adequate, (although do yourself a favour and don't buy cosmetics/perfumes on-board, as they're cheaper in the UK) * The heating and A/C in the cabin worked brilliantly! * There's a great selection of bars and places to eat! To provide you with an overview of my wife and I, as you probably now have us down as troublesome passengers who are never really happy, we've cruised on many occasions, we've dined in speciality restaurants and been on numerous shore-side excursions and we've never once before had cause to negatively comment, or complain, or have Customer Relations get involved. We've paid our way, had amazing times and thoroughly enjoyed our voyages, with the next one this October on Independence out of Southampton, so we're certainly not looking for issues. However, for us, the experience on Ventura was regrettably somewhat poor and certainly, not what we'd enjoyed previously with RCI/Celebrity. This said, if 8th-18th August was your first cruise, or you've never cruised RCI/Celebrity, then it may be that you actually wouldn't know any different? For us, we have October to look forward to and we've started planning for 2014 already as well.........it just won't be with P&O again!! Happy cruising everyone :) Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We booked this cruise just 4 weeks before we sailed. We have only ever sailed with P&O (twice a year for the last 7 years) so have nothing to compare it with other than comments on here and what we hear from fellow passengers !! We ... Read More
We booked this cruise just 4 weeks before we sailed. We have only ever sailed with P&O (twice a year for the last 7 years) so have nothing to compare it with other than comments on here and what we hear from fellow passengers !! We have sailed on Ventura once before, 4 years ago, and at that time felt a lot of the passengers were a bit "rough" and it was clearly being marketed as a very family friendly and very casual ship. (Well, more casual than the rest of the fleet)and at the lower end of the cruiser market !!! I sound like a snob !! This time around the cruise we chose was the only one that fitted in with what we wanted to do, and I wanted a hot sun cruise round bog standard Western Med destinations. That said, we had never been to Marseilles, Algherro, Malaga or la Coruna, so we were looking forward to those ports. Gibraltar, Barcelona and Livorno were the others. Embarkation was superb and the best we have ever had, very quick. We miss the old style sailaways with a band and a sense of occasion. No band, and we had started to leave by the time emergency drill had been done. No sense of excitement at all and over priced booze !! (Although generally P&O are very reasonable with drinks prices) The weather was superb. wall to wall sun every day, and some days were very hot. We used our balcony a lot, so really got value for money. Thank goodness we had a balcony as we couldnt have got a sun lounger on the decks - which were heaving. That is a major minus point of this ship. Despite warnings not to do so, most people just reserved their loungers at the crack of dawn, then went to breakfast. My partner swam first thing on a number of days and said rows of loungers were reserved with towels etc, even at 8am !! We also noted that it was always the same people sat right beside the pools. The cabin was well presented and our steward did a good job. The balcony was a decent size, but was quite dirty. I like the open walk in wardrobes in this ship (and Azura) which allow much more hanging space. We are late risers so are never in time for breakfast in the main dining rooms. We like the alternatives to the buffet, offered on Oceana (Cafe Jardin), Aurora (cafe Bordeaux) and oriana (Al Fresco). However despite being a big ship, there are no such alternatives on Ventura, and we ran the gamut of the buffet every morning. The food there isnt that bad, but at about 10am it is like a rat run !! We took one lunch in the main dining room which was pleasant, we usually skip lunch if we have a snack from the grill or have afternoon tea. Afternoon Tea has gone right down hill (or maybe it is just this ship) - there is no finess and they want to serve you everything at once. I really dont want a crumpet when I am still trying to eat the scones and cream !! Evening meals in the Saffron restaurant were , as always, very good and our waiters were superb. We had a jolly table and a good time was had by all !! We ate in the White Room once and had a fantastic meal, and had two lunches in the Glass House which were also of good quality. The Headliners theatre group were very good, and not having sailed on this ship for 4 years, three of the shows were new to us. A novelty as we have seen most of them umpteen times and P&O seem to notewant to introduce new theatre shows to their fleet. Over the last few years we have felt the cabaret artists have declined in standard, but not on this cruise. Clem Curtis, Laura Carter and Jamie Allen were superb. The ventriloquist was berabale, and the only damp squib was a french pair (Charlie and Jeremy) who did one show of juggling and tumbling. An act better suited to a circus and not very good at that either !! The bands, and dance bands were all excellent and overall the entertainent was very very good. I Understand from what I hear from other people who cruise multiple lines, that P&O are usually the best for evening entertainment and I can quite beleive it. That said, the Cruise Director was Hughie Taylor, so we knew he would be virtually invisible ( we know what he is like) and this was the case. For a family cruise in high season, we expected more daytime activities. maybe they knew everyone would be out enjoying the sun, who knows, but there was little to do. There were no port presentations (these were just on the TV on a loop, so you had to listen to them all to get to the one you wanted), there was no interview with the captain, there was no interview with the headliners troop, there was no classical act. Maybe they dont do these things on Ventura, who knows, but this was the first cruise we have done where there was none of those things. The ports were all as to be expected with decent times in port (8am until 4 or 5 most days). Gibraltar was 1 till 7 (but that is usually half a day anyway and lets face it, its a tip, who wants a full day there !!) . The main problem was Algherro on Sardinia. Our only tender port. The process of queuing for our tender ticket to actually stepping foot on land took from 10.15am until 12.55pm = a staggering 2hrs 40 mins. NOT GOOD ENOUGH P&O. Despite regular updates and assuranaces they were doing all they could, this should not have happened. It appeared to many folk that P&O should not be taking their biggest ships to tender ports as they cannot cope with the huge numers of folk wanting to get of. They have been here before with Ventura so must have known what would happen. The feeble excuse was that there was a 3mph speed limit in the harbour - what utter rot. The real reason was they mis judged that most people would want to go ashore mid morning. They should issue tickets for time slots, the day before. Obviously they won't because that would entail extra costs. Hey ho, we still had 2.5 hourts ashore but it could have been longer. Similarly quesues for shuttles were often quote long, and where we could, we walked into town. We did two tours - both "on your owns" to Sitges from Barcelona,and to Florence from Livorno. Both as to be expected. The theme of queues was one of the main themes of the cruise It was a very busy cruise. A young average age, with lots of kids and teenagers and large families on board. The ship was very busy and it was often a relief to retire to the quiet of our cabin and balcony. I like a busy ship, with a younger clientele, and it was busy until very late each evening, but perhaps I prefer it not quite as busy as it was !! Completely the opposite to Arcadia and Oriana which are now like floating rest homes and where everyone goes to bed at 11.30pm. On Ventura, there were lots of teenagers running along corridors and hanging around stairwells and lifts because they had nothing to do !! We had our cabin "make up" card stolen on one evening and our steward said it was a regular occurance, as the kids often took them out of all the doors. That said, there was no trouble on the cruise, but one felt that it was bever very far away. There were some very large family groups on board, who looked rather forbidding, and a bit rough. If challenged I expect they could have kicked off !!! This cruise had the feel of Butlins at sea and did not have any finness about it at times. On the 4 formal nights, compliance wasnt too bad, but we saw some people dressed completely casually, just milling around with everyone else in black tie. Thats the problem with a "suggested" dress code. It should be an enforced one, then the ones who want to remain casual can eat in the buffet !!! That said, everyone was clearly having a good time and , unlike Arcadia and Oriana, we encountered no moaners or whingers. BUT, the cruise just lacked a bit of finness. The food, service and entertainment were good quality as always, and for what we are now paying , it still represents good valuie for money, but clearly this ship is aimed at a market that I really dont want to cruise with regularly. I understand from a travel agent friend that ventura is P&O's most heavily re-booked ship. It clearly appeals to those it is martketed at, and thus is doing its job, so nothing weill change. I will stick to Aurora, Azura, and Oceana in future, with occasional forays on Oriana, but will only go on ventura again if I have no other options. Of course I could try another cruise line, but I hate large groups of Americans, so best to stick with P&O !!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our second P&O cruise, the first being in December last year on the Azura. We booked about six weeks before sailing and got what I thought was a good deal on an inside cabin. However one week later, for a very short time, the ... Read More
This was our second P&O cruise, the first being in December last year on the Azura. We booked about six weeks before sailing and got what I thought was a good deal on an inside cabin. However one week later, for a very short time, the same website was offering an outside cabin with balcony for the same price. A little frustrating but what can you do. Cabins were ready as soon as we got on board and half our luggage got to it before we did. Our cabin steward Sharon was quick to introduce herself but we saw very little of her during the trip. Because of P&Os sensible policy regarding bringing drink on board, we asked Sharon for a bucket of ice to be delivered around 5.00pm each evening and she was happy to oblige. The layout of the Ventura is identical to the Azura so it took next to no time to familiarise ourselves and were pleasantly surprised by the general decor of the ship, which I thought was presented in a more tasteful fashion than the Azura. Throughout the trip there seemed to be intermittent problems with the lifts which often led to long waiting times. It was not helped by several kids who thought it would be a good game and took delight in making sure that lifts stopped on every floor. As far as food was concerned, we had requested a table of six for the second sitting and were delighted to quickly make friends with the other two couples on our table. While I found the service from our waiter Gilbert to be excellent, we were a little dismayed one evening when he was quite rude to a guest when she complained about her steak being underdone. He implied that she got what she ordered although this was not the case. Other than this one incident, service was faultless. I am a big meat eater and my wife prefers fish, we were both very happy with the variety and quality. We were not happy with the cold toast at breakfast!! Other reviews have already commented that some of the staff were quite rude and I would mirror this observation, especially the staff in Costa Coffee. Equally frustrating was the delay in ordering drinks from the roving waiters. Their practice was to walk around offering their service but not returning to the bar to fulfil orders until they had multiple requests. This meant that quite often you would have anything up to a fifteen minute wait before drinks were delivered. Entertainment throughout the trip was varied and of a high standard. I did feel that both the magician and the comedian who performed twice during the cruise were unable to match their first nights performance. In both instances the second show was not as good as the first. I would also like to single out two members of the entertainment team. Firstly the Cruise Director, simply because he was almost invisible. Apart from welcoming us aboard on the first night, the only other time I saw him was drinking in the bar on the last night. He made one announcement a day over the public address system where his attempt at humour was at best very poor. He left everything else up to his team. Perception is reality and in my experience he was useless. Conversely, Andrew Lazarus contributed greatly to our enjoyment of the cruise and I would single him out for special praise. He has only been doing the job for a year but if he sticks at it he will have a long and successful career. The cruise had all the usual Atrium sales. Interestingly the day before we arrived in Gibraltar, a duty free port, the on board duty free shop took a further 15% off its prices. I am not complaining as I got a great deal on Bushmills Whisky. This saved me time shopping in Gib and we were able to spend a few hours on a rather dirty beach instead. Most of the other ports were very nice to visit and Lisbon was a delight to sail into and out of. We didnt go on any organised tours as I think they are overpriced and offer little value. If you are not scared of engaging with the locals you can normally get to see what you want to for considerably less. Of course you run the risk of not getting back to the ship in time but proper planning should remove this issue. While this was a family friendly cruise, I particularly liked the Adults only areas and the pool with no kids allowed. In summary, I felt that it would have been nicer to stay a couple of hours longer in each port, perhaps the ship could have sailed a little faster to compensate. Some of the visits, especially Gibraltar really were whistle stop. It is always possible to nit-pick but when all is said and done cruising still represents fantastic value for money. Over the seven years that I have been cruising there is little doubt that standards are dropping and corners being cut. Unfortunately this is the way of the world and P&O are just as guilty as any other cruise line. This will not stop me cruising again and I cant wait for my next one (January next year). Perhaps I will get warm toast!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We tried this mini cruise to see how we liked P&O. Ventura was quite a big ship and a big difficult to find your way around, Our inside cabin was small but adequate. Overall food not bad but Beach house buffet was really difficult to ... Read More
We tried this mini cruise to see how we liked P&O. Ventura was quite a big ship and a big difficult to find your way around, Our inside cabin was small but adequate. Overall food not bad but Beach house buffet was really difficult to get round with trays, it had narrow aisles, we used Waterside which was fine. We chose freedom dining, if there was not a table for two we were given a pager and never had to wait too long. Tables were a big close together but we did have some lovely meals.We took the courtesy bus to Zeebrugge and then got the bus to Brugge, really loved Brugge, take the canal trip if you go it was lovely. We caught the train back to Zeebrugge. Guernsey was ok, we took the local bus that took you all around the island for £2 Guernsey pounds. You can use English money but you get your change in Guernsey money which you can't spend at home.We found the staff ok but they did not seem to engage with the customers very much. We saw our cabin steward once so did not get chance to have a chat.I would recommend trying the mini cruises as it gives you an idea of what to expect.The biggest gripe we came across was the cost of the cruise as many people had paid a lot more than us, but lots of people were unhappy about the vantage and Getaway fares. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
First of all for the price I payed I cannot really complain, but in just 4 short days i'm not overly impressed with P&O.The good bits - the ship is spotless the cabins and beds fantastic room maid brilliant, food in main ... Read More
First of all for the price I payed I cannot really complain, but in just 4 short days i'm not overly impressed with P&O.The good bits - the ship is spotless the cabins and beds fantastic room maid brilliant, food in main restaurants.The not so good - entertainment (pub & club standard) & timings of shows.The really poor bits - Buffet restaurant quality, pools & spa pools.Let me elaborate on my mini cruise to Brugge & St Peter port on Ventura, check in very good & well organised our room was spotless, we had a quick walk round the ship and soon found ourselves completely lost now your thinking well it's a big ship! wrong it's the smallest we have been on the deck and room numbers don't work shouldn't a room on deck 8 be say 8204 not E204 you get in a lift you don't know where you are going, then you have to map out your journey from one end of ship to the other unlike the independence you can walk from one end to other without changing deck any deck!There should be little signs outside lifts should tell you where you are forward, back, left right etc everyone had a little map it was quite funny watching everybody who was lost!Anyway the food in main restaurants was very good with good service, drinks service a little slower we ended up taking drinks in with us saved the long wait (starters finished & main course started before drinks came).Now the not so good entertainment was not the standard of RCI if you have been on RCI you will know what I mean. If your on 8:30 dining you only get the one show there was six shows on different locations all doing 8:30 and 10:30 starts so when you finished dining you had to make a choice of what you wanted to see we just went to the Arena after seeing some of the acts they were ok just not my cup of tea, the volume level seemed to drown out there ability!Now the bad all but two pools and one spa pool were shut even my lads said it was chaos and didn't go in with the weather fantastic at sea this was really poor and a few people were griping about it.The buffet restaurant choice and quality wasn't very good in fact it was poor again RCI do it miles, miles better, I had a curry at lunch time one day it was by far the worse curry i've ever had period.On the plus side when it shut for lunch and opened for afternoon tea this was miles better and was a pleasure, so we just did this.Tips for excursions on this tripZeebrugge - Get the free transfer bus to train station get the train one every hour staff will tell you the times about 6.50 euros return each then taxi to Brugge town square 7 euros each way go and go early in morning and get a full day.St Peter port - Get up early for the tenders because by 10:30 its manic and get either a taxi or bus from the bus station its 10 min walk along the front to where your going. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I booked this mini cruise online because of the fantastic price, after a colleague at work highly recommended Ventura and P&O I took my family, my mother and one of my sons mates with us, we had fantastic weather very smooth travel the ... Read More
I booked this mini cruise online because of the fantastic price, after a colleague at work highly recommended Ventura and P&O I took my family, my mother and one of my sons mates with us, we had fantastic weather very smooth travel the boat didn't move, Brugge was lovely and St Peter port nice for the time we had! Apart from that the rest was a little disappointing food in restaurant good but only warm the buffet house was very poor standard and not much choice, (compared to RCI it was really poor!) On the plus side breakfast was great in the restaurants. With only two pools and one whirlpool open they were mobbed by kids, not a problem they are entitled to a holiday as well, but had they got the other pools and splash pools open it may have eased the congestion, my mother was very disappointed not to get in a whirlpool, we sent her to the new oasis spa but that pool was shut so she came away. The entertainment was another bug bear of mine it was very loud maybe this drowned out the poor quality of the acts. Apart from the Take That tribute band who were good the rest were club standard again RCI seem to have quality musicians onboard. Getting off at Brugge was good a free courtesy bus to the train station with a local tour rep telling train times this was a good touch and a massive plus. (taxi from train station to centre square 7 euros) Getting off the ship at St Peter port all I will say is 'get up early'!! Disembarkation just like every other ship chaos!!Would I sail with P&O again....... only if I pay the same price I don't think I would ever pay their full brochure price.Ps :- Room P204 was very good, the room maid fantastic and when docking the ropes and anchor act as a great alarm clock so dont pack one! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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