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Sail Date: January 2014
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson ... Read More
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson Dreamliner flights were probably the most comfortable economy class flights we have had. The transfer was quick and easy. I was impressed with the infection control procedures, just a shame all passengers didn't follow them. Our cabin was small but well appointed, tea and coffee, a fridge with daily ice provided by our excellent steward and a very comfy bed. There was not much to watch on the TV. Lots of towels and you could take the blue ones ashore to use at the beach. All the staff were attentive. I was impressed with how quickly the tables were cleared. There was never any sign of litter and I only saw one fly in a fortnight! The food in the Beach house restaurant at night was our favourite. The freedom dining option was flexible, meaning that we could pick our entertainment and then fit dinner in to suit our itinerary. There was plenty of choice of entertainment and food venues. The drinks were not overpriced and the service charge was reasonable. The Sailaway parties were not my cup of tea, but you didn't have to go far to find a quiet spot to sit and watch the land disappear and the sunset. On sea days the decks are packed with sunbeds, some people had two each, one in the sun on in the shade, perhaps P&O need to employ a sunbed policeman. In conclusion two weeks in the Caribbean for £71.43 per person per night, including flights, can't be beaten. Two tips don't buy the bottled water, the tap water is fine. Do your own thing when ashore, it's cheaper.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our third time on Ventura - all voyages over Christmas and NewYear in the Caribbean sailing from Barbados. The flight from Manchester was good and on time and we thought there had been an improvement in the food on the plane. The ... Read More
This was our third time on Ventura - all voyages over Christmas and NewYear in the Caribbean sailing from Barbados. The flight from Manchester was good and on time and we thought there had been an improvement in the food on the plane. The usual efficient P&O service at Barbados meant that we were soon on the ship. We had booked a cabin on A deck at the back which was exactly where we wanted to be but a few days before leaving home we found out by chance that P&O had upgraded us to D deck very near the front. The cabin was a superior deluxe balcony cabin which was very comfortable for us two but I would imagine it could be a bit claustrophobic if there were three people in it. There was a bath with shower over. The shower head was fixed so my husband at 6 ft tall found it a bit low for him. Tons of hot water and huge bath towels. Good quality shampoo and conditioner and shower gel. The worst thing about the cabin was the balcony which is useless if it is raining as there is no overhead cover so you cannot sit out (as you can on all other balconies) and watch the rain!! Yes the balcony is overlooked by those above but this did not really bother us. The cabin was kept tidy by Veron, our stewardess although the grouting around the bath under the shower head could have done with a clean. Also the net curtain at the sliding door leading to the balcony had seen better days and was in shreds at one end. We had some nice touches - the best being a little Christmas cake - proper fruit one, with marzipan, icing and a snowman on the top!! The cabin was in a very quiet area. No noise from either outside or above. But for us, it just was not in a convenient location. Still I suppose all the walking from one end of the ship to the other could have shed some calories!! We were freedom dining. The food in the MDR varied from very good to barely OK. Of course everything comes plated up which does not add to the enjoyment of your meal. Someone said that P&O had gone away from silver service for vegetables to plated up meals in response to customer demand - are they having a laugh?? We ate once in the White Room and once in East both of which were excellent. We also did a taster menu in the Glasshouse which I thought a bit overpriced. We also ate once in the evening in the Beach House which was as good as we remembered it on previous trips. Otherwise we had breakfast in the Beach House and I had some lunch in the Waterside. We drank mainly in the Glasshouse and the staff in there were excellent. Indeed it was difficult to criticise the staff anywhere except for those on duty at the gangway who could be a bit more human and welcoming. We were more than happy with the drinks prices. Of course there is no 15% added to each bill unlike most other cruise ships there days. One tip - a cocktail costs less than a large glass of some wines. We are not show people but reviews I heard from fellow guests suggested that the performances were very good. Instead we "people watched" from outside the Tamarind club. New Year's Eve was brilliant on deck. Everyone was beautifully dressed. In fact we thought the standard of dress thought the cruise in the evenings had gone up and we did not see many in scruffy jeans and trainers. Apart from the day in Dominica where it rained all day, we had brilliant weather throughout. We lost one day at sea as the Captain informed us all that a passenger needed urgent specialist hospital treatment and therefore we would be sailing full steam ahead for Barbados. In fact he shaved a whole 24 hours off the journey. So we had an extra day in Barbados. The flight home was again on time and very quick as we were benefitting from the gales across the Atlantic. We really enjoyed our holiday and have already booked the same ship for the same time in 2014. This time we have a cabin at the stern end and have not elected to accept any upgrade so we know where we will be. So it is Good old Ventura once again for Christmas and New Year. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
I have been on an excellent two week Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Ventura with P&O Cruises. P&O Cruises Ventura is 116,000 tonnes first entered service in 2008 and was refurbished in 2013. The ship has a capacity of 3,078 ... Read More
I have been on an excellent two week Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Ventura with P&O Cruises. P&O Cruises Ventura is 116,000 tonnes first entered service in 2008 and was refurbished in 2013. The ship has a capacity of 3,078 passengers with 1,205 crew. In the refurbishment The Ramblas has been replaced by The Glass House by Olly Smith. The two week Caribbean Cruise visited the ports of St Vincent, Dominica, St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts, Grand Turk, Tortola, St Maarten and Barbados. Embarkation The embarkation process was smooth and efficient. At Barbados airport a coach was waiting to take you straight to the ship and you luggage was taken from the plane to your ship and into your cabin. This is the most impressive embarkation on to a cruise ship with a long haul flight I have every experienced. Usually after a long haul flight you have to queue at Passport Control for half an hour to an hour before collecting your luggage to take to a transfer coach or taxi. Ports St Vincent It rained when we were there. Not much to see at Kingstown the capital of St Vincent as it is not set up for cruise ships. If the weather is good I would recommend an excursion to Mustique. Dominica The capital is Roseau where the ship docks. I went for a walk from the ship to the capital. The capital was full of tourist shops but the streets had some open sewers and were very smelly. There was a lot of poverty in Roseau and I was approached by several beggars. St Lucia I went zip lining which was excellent with eight runs. Ideal if you are looking for something different. For first timers I would recommend the Land and Seat Tour of the island. Castries the capital of the island of St Lucia is excellent for shopping. Antigua In Antigua I went to the Coconut Grove Beach which is a picture postcard Caribbean Beach. Antigua is famous for it's beaches with one for every day of the year so in Antigua it would be rude not to go to the beach. For history buffs and culture vultures P&O Cruises offered an island tour. The ship docks in St Johns right in the heart of the Capital. It is a good town for shopping and felt like one the safest islands in the Caribbean. St Kitts The ships docks in Basseterre the capital of St Kitts and has excellent shopping facilities. I took an excursion on the train around St Kitts running on the line that was used to transport sugar cane. Sugar Cane production was stopped in 2004 after it became unprofitable. The train takes you in the heart of St Kitts to give you a feel for the island. Grand Turk The ship docks in a purpose built pier and terminal at the south of the island. Grand Turk is a small island with salt ponds and white coral sand beaches. The beaches here are some of the best in the Caribbean. Grand Turk feels like the Bahamas but with warmer weather. Grand Turk is an island paradise. Tortola The ship docks at the edge of Road Town the capital of Tortola and the British Virgin Islands. Road Town is very small with a few basic amenities a few tourist shops. I went on an excursion to Virgin Gorda and to Devils Bay beach. The beach at Devils Bay is one of the best in the world and is how I would imagine a beach in the Seychelles. The beach at Devils Bay was one of the highlights of the cruise and my only disappointment with the P&O Cruises excursion is that we got 45 minutes at the beach, when 2 - 3 hours would have been better. We caught the 12:30pm ferry back from Virgin Gorda to Tortola whereas a ferry at 2.30pm - 3.30pm would have been much better. St Maarten The ship docks at Phillipsburg, St Maarten which is one of the best capital cities in the Caribbean. The duty free shopping in Phillipsburg, St Maarten is amazing with extremely low prices on tobacco products and alcohol. If you are going to buy duty free loose tobacco, cigarettes or alcohol Phillipsburg, St Maarten is the place to buy it. It did a snorkeling excursion by catamaran which was excellent and they kept the rum punch flowing. In the Caribbean Rum Punch is the national drink similar to Vodka in Russia and Pints of Beer in Britain. Barbados The ship docks at the industrial port at the edge of Bridgetown, Barbados. As Barbados is a former British Island they are very welcoming to British tourists. Although the currency they prefer is US Dollars not British Pounds. I would recommend the US Dollar as the currency to take to the Caribbean Islands. I did an excursion to swim with Turtles which is great, snorkeling over a shipwreck with lots of fish and coral in Carlisle Bay and then off to a beach for a while. Dining I opted for Club Dining on the Ventura and chose second sitting at 8:30pm on a table for 10 in the excellent Baytree Restaurant. The decor was classic P&O with dark browns and badges. The service from our two waiters was superb and when you made a special request they would get you what you wanted if it was possible to do so. There were three formal nights when you had to wear a dinner jacket or tuxedo for men or an evening gown for ladies and eleven smart casual nights. The dress code was strictly enforced. For breakfast I went to the Waterside Buffet which had a superb choice of cereals, fresh fruits, yoghurts and a full English Breakfast as well. There was also an area for Omlette's. The only downside was that there were no hash browns but fried potatoes were available. For those that prefer Waiter Service the Saffron Restaurant was available from 7.00am - 9.00am every morning. For lunch I usually dined at the Waterside Buffet which had a good choice of hot and cold food. Everything needed for a salad was available. If you prefer something hot there was usually a choice of two meats and vegtables, Fish Pies, Lasagne, Mousaka, rice and occasionally Curries. For lunch if you didn't want to go to the Waterside Buffet Hot Dogs and Burgers were available at Frankies Grill. Pizza's and Ice Cream at Frankies Pizzeria. The Cinnamon Restaurant was open from 12:00pm - 1:30pm for those that prefer Waiter Service. The Select Dining Venues are the White Room Marco Pierre's Restaurant and Atul Kochhars East. The White Room is a five star restaurant which charges £25pp for an enhanced menu. The White Room offers dining similar to the Celebrity Chef restaurants in London at a fraction of the price. The equivalent Gordon Ramsay London Restaurant meals start at £80pp. East is the Asian Fusion Restaurant designed by Atul Kochhar and charges £15pp. I didn't dine at these restaurants but fellow passengers on my table did and they were impressed with the quality of food in the White Room and the variety on offer in East. I also dined at the Beach House which is a section of the Waterside Buffet which offers Waiter Service at night. The service in the Beach House was good but not as personal as that received in the Baytree Restaurant. The quality of food in the Beach House was as good as the Baytree Restaurant. Drinks The drinks on Ventura are the lowest prices I have seen on a cruise ship. They were much lower than Royal Caribbean, NCL, Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises. Plus they don't charge a 15% tip on every drinks purchase. The drinks service on board the ship was very good with attentive waiters. You could get pints of beer in the Exchange and watch the football if you wanted to. This area was particularly popular on sea days. The price of a pint of beer was less than a small bottle of 330ml on Royal Caribbean. With Royal Caribbean for the price of one small bottle of beer you get two bottles of beer with P&O Cruises when you add the 15% gratuity to the bill with Royal Caribbean. A pint of beer costs £4.75 at the exchange bottles ranged from about £3.50 - £4.50. Spirit mixer drinks were good value at under £4. There are lots of venues to drink on board Ventura. The night club Havana was a popular place to drink after midnight as it was the last place going late at night. Metropolis on Deck 16 at the rear of the ship has a video wall with a different city a night and was a popular spot for a drink and music with a live band. They also had good value wine packages, coke packages and ice cream packages which you could buy on the ship. If you like drinking lots of wine, coke or eat lots of ice cream I would recommend purchasing a package on board the ship. Entertainment I watched most of the 10:30pm in the superb two deck Arena Theatre. The theatre was grand without being ostentatious, understated in a rather British way. The singing and dancing shows by the Headliners were great and the best I have seen on a Cruise Ship. The Comedian Mark Walker was very good and his impressions of Billy Connolly and Liam Gallagher were spot on. He could be the new Alistair McGowan. I was impressed that after the second sitting there was a show in the Arena Theatre at 10:30pm every night. Whereas on some other Cruise Lines the Show is a 7:15pm before the Second Sitting. This is particularly annoying on formal and black tie nights when you have to get dressed up for dinner. From 11:30pm there was always a singer at the Tamarind Club on Deck 7. Although the singer was always singing music from the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. The ships nightclub the Cuban Themed Havana was a popular for dancing after midnight. From 10:30pm comedians, singers and quizzes often took place at Havana. Disembarkation The disembarkation process was very efficient by P&O Cruises. I disembarked on a Saturday and you had to fill out a form and complete the process at 7:00am on Friday morning. On Saturday morning you had to disembark your cabin by 9:00am and you were allowed to stay on the ship until 1:00pm when the coach left for the airport. Between 9:00am and 1:00pm the Arena Theatre was used to leave your luggage so you didn't have to carry it around. Gripes You had to pay for the Mr Whippy Ice Cream onboard the ship at Frankies Pizzeria. On other cruise ships I have been on Mr Whippy Ice Cream is included in the price and a self service machine is provided in the Buffet Restaurant. The Hot Dogs and Burgers at Frankies Grill were located so you would buy a drink with if from one of the bars nearby. On other ships the Hot Dogs and Burgers were available in the Buffet Restaurant. Tazzine the ships Coffee Shop located on Deck 5 only had items available for purchase. If you wanted a large biscuit or a cup cake you had to purchase a branded coffee or branded tea. On other cruise ships opposite the Coffee Shop there was a self service tea and coffee machine and you could get large biscuit of a cup cake for free. The title of the menu's in the Baytree Restaurant were in French. P&O Cruises caters mainly for British Passengers whose first language and often only language is English. If I cruised on a French Ship I would be surprised if the menu was in English. American ships have menu's in English, Italian Ships in Italian why P&O Cruises didn't have menu's in English I don't know. Nearly every night I had to ask the waiter to explain the menu as it was in French and get an English translation. Some nights the Menu might as well have been in Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Mandarin Chinese or Swahili. An example was Sachertorte, I did not have the foggiest what this was. The waiter told me it was Chocolate Cake. Why P&O could have called it Chocolate Cake to make it easier to understand I just don't know. A lot of the excursion were only for 3 - 4 hours and left at 8:00am - 9:00am in the morning leaving you with the rest of the afternoon to find something to do. Summary The P&O Cruises Ship Ventura is one of the best ships I have ever been on along with Royal Caribbean's Liberty Of The Seas. The Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabin was superb and is the best cabin I have ever had on a cruise ship. The facilities on board the ship are excellent and you will never be bored on Ventura. The drinks on Ventura are the lowest prices I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The entertainment was the best I have ever had on a cruise ship. Both the dancers, singers and comedians were superb. It is certainly geared up well for British Passengers. I was impressed with P&O Cruises that there was no old fashioned bingo advertised or Mr & Mrs quiz that takes place on Royal Caribbean, NCL, Costa and MSC Cruises. Plus there was minimal selling of art, the casino, drinks, excursions, shopping, etc which can drive you mad on cruise ships. The soft sell of P&O Cruises is appreciated by its passengers unlike the hard sell that you get on other cruise lines. The Caribbean is the best place in the world to go cruising as the islands are set up perfectly for cruise ships.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of ... Read More
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of 'foodies' who like the occasional glass of wine and I think we are representative of most working families in the UK. With regards to the food, which appears to be a common thread for some complaints, I think that there are a multitude of options available to suit everybody at lunchtime. Yes, there is always a curry, or two, but these are extremely popular with most passengers and are on the menu because of customer demand. Alternatives are the extremely popular and good quality salad bar, a range of cheeses and biscuits as well as fresh bread buns, a BBQ grill, pizzeria and silver service dining. The silver service restaurants on an evening offer two menus; a 'classic menu' which contains old favourites such as prawn cocktail, tomato soup and other options to start with, followed by a salmon dish, steak or chicken. In addition there was a menu of the day which changed daily. We ate venison, guinea fowl, goose and a good range of fish dishes. Not once did we have a poor meal. The meals on Christmas night and New Years Eve were excellent. I genuinely fail to see how people are disappointed with the food. Our only misgiving is the fact that P&O have introduced the concept of pre-plated meals in the dining rooms so your meal comes with the vegetables already on the plate, as does the cheeseboard. This does make the dining experience slightly less special as it isn't conducive to 'fine dining'. We always sat on deck 7 beside the Beachcomber pool and there were always plenty of staff from whom to order drinks. There were always a high number of drinks staff on duty on the poolside and in the bars and restaurants. There was a high number of children and teenagers on the cruise. Some parents clearly had no idea where their offspring were or what they were doing. We did see a rowdy group in the swimming pool but they were stopped by an officer within a few minutes. We did see groups of teenagers sprawled on the floor in the buffet restaurant on one occasion late at night and commented that they should have been told to sit at a table. On previous cruises we have been aware of youth security officers patrolling the ship whose job it is to monitor groups of youths but we didn't see any on this cruise. That said, I regularly saw youth staff clearing groups of kids away from the stairs and lifts. Overall it is a family cruise during a school holiday and there are always going to be a number of passengers under the age of 18 and the majority were well behaved and polite. There were 12 lifts on board and one was out of service but that left 11 remaining. Having had many conversations with other passengers all but two said that they had had a fabulous time and loved every facet of their cruise (apart from Dominica). The two dissenters gave me the impression that they would have found always something to complain about. The staff were excellent and attentive but not to the point of being obsequious. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ... Read More
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ship and this was efficient but a little slow. We were on E deck with a restricted cabin view. Our cabin was comfortable and kept clean by Dennis, our steward. Our overall impression of the Ventura was good, offering excellent entertainment and the entertainment team did their utmost to ensure everyone enjoyed themselves. One of the best nights was the pantomime, it was a great laugh and even the staff enjoyed doing it. Overall the restaurant staff were very friendly and the food quality and menu choices were excellent. Only one little criticism was that the waiters should all be trained in the same way to ensure that the female orders are taken before the male orders and that the food should be served from the side rather than across people. We enjoyed freedom dining as it gave us greater flexibility. We did feel that the price of the professional photographs at £9.95 were rather expensive and unfortunately some of the ones we liked were slightly blurred and not worth the money. We also were happy with the prices of drinks on board and the offer of soda packages and would have welcomed a draft beer package! and it was good to see everything priced in pounds. We returned from Bonaire to Barbados in one day instead of two due to a medical emergency and we do hope that the person involved makes a speedy recovery. We thoroughly enjoyed the combination of ports we visited and since we have returned we have already made a booking for December 2014 on Ventura for the same dates so this proves it was a good holiday and we look forward to meeting up with people from this cruise. Overall a great atmosphere on board for Christmas and New Year with a very Great British sail away from Bonaire. We are both nearing our 60s and were amazed that people have complained about the younger generation being loud and drunk. We feel this comment was not fully justifiable as we only came across a couple of younger drunk people late on New Year's Eve. Considering this was a Christmas cruise we felt the young people should allowed to enojoy themselves and they caused us any problems.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My Review of Ventura Xmas / New Year 2013 Cruise Here is my review of our recent fab cruise. I apologise that its so long……. I’ve put in some headings so you can just skip to those parts you think you might be interested in. A bit ... Read More
My Review of Ventura Xmas / New Year 2013 Cruise Here is my review of our recent fab cruise. I apologise that its so long……. I’ve put in some headings so you can just skip to those parts you think you might be interested in. A bit about us: DH and I are in our 50s, have cruised many times before, but this was our first time on Ventura (have been on Azura twice including xmas/new year cruise in 2011). Our cruises are our stress-busters, and we don’t go in for entertainment or activities – our balcony is the most important part of our cruise along with the eating places! FLIGHTS AND ARRIVAL: We flew from Birmingham on the Saturday and had a pleasant flight. We’d pre-booked our seats and although we were in “cattle class,” there was plenty of leg room and comfy seats on the First Choice plane. They gave out earphones which you had to keep as they weren’t given out again on the return flight. There was a fair selection of films, TV programmes etc available, but apart from the one episode of Dr Who (which I watched again although I’ve seen at least a million times before as I love DR Who!), I stuck to being entertained with my ipod and snoozing. We saw the ship briefly from a distance as we were approaching Barbados, and as we got off at the back of the plane, we were among those on the first bus out. It was brilliant to feel that heat and sun as soon as we hit the tarmac and thoughts of rainy cold home went well out of my mind….now I was definitely on holiday! The driver of our bus and the one behind were having a bit of a “competition” to see who could get to the ship first, as we went different ways but came together (fortunately not literally!) in places where there was a dual carriageway! You could almost smell the testosterone! Arrival at the “shed” was well organized and although there was a big queue when we arrived, it went down quickly and we were soon on the ship, complete with floral garland around our necks. The flight home was not as good as the one going out. We sat on the plane for ages while it was refueled and left an hour late, but picked up time as we were only 20 mins later than scheduled arriving in Birmingham. Think the plane home (another First Choice) was older that the first one, with what felt like less leg room and poor seats. DH had to physically put my seat back upright as the button would recline the seat but wouldn’t spring it back. I also saw others having the same problem and the staff didn’t particularly look happy in their work. The main meal was the same on the way out and on return (chicken a la king) and there was no choice (except take it or leave it), and you got water / orange juice with breakfast, and tea / coffee with meals included, but all other drinks and snacks were paid for. I had a cup of lukewarm tea for £2.50 (overpriced and not even hot!), so the couple of bottles of pop we bought at the airport saw us through the flights. Love charter flights with no hassle with luggage, and straight off the plane onto a bus in Barbados. Return just as well organized, staying on the ship until transfer to the airport. The luggage is weighed going out (both hold and hand luggage) but not on the return, so no worries about getting all your trinkets and dirty washing home! CABIN: We had chosen our cabin with “no upgrade” which was on C deck mid ship. We specifically wanted the larger balcony on this deck, having been on the Azura and Princess ships which are the same style. Our steward soon appeared to introduce himself and asked if we had any requests. I’d already checked the pillow and duvet (I’m allergic to feather) and these were fine, so apart from ice, we couldn’t think of anything else we needed at this time. Bags arrived a couple of hours after, and muster was in the middle of unpacking. No checking of names at muster though (unlike Celebrity and Princess) which I was surprised about, and I ended up showing a lady how to put her life vest on and off, while DH showed her friend how to do hers! The cabin wasn’t the cleanest we have ever stayed in. As they are in constant use, cleaning is obviously very superficial. I know that the Ventura had a refurb not too long ago, and I assumed that had fitted new carpets, as there were clumps of fluff in the corners and on the edges of the carpet. When I dropped my hair brush and sprawled on the floor under the desk to get it back, I came out from under the desk looking like a duster! I sent DH under the bed to check if there was anything there that shouldn’t be (you’d be surprised what can be found under beds - in the past we’ve found many things including a pair of mens dress shoes and a half opened case full of clothes!), and he came out with a black and white eye mask, totally covered in dust! So much for thorough cleaning! We put up some tinsel to make it a bit more Christmassy, and noticed little bits of tinsel were still on the carpet a week later, so the hoover didn’t get much use in our cabin. The telephone had exposed wires which we reported to the steward but it was never changed. The balcony floor was not particularly clean with bits of stuff over it (maybe it’s the carpet fluff escaping!) and there was an ashtray by the door! We did ask the steward to remove it and he didn’t seem to want to as he said that other guests may need it, but I think the look on my face told him it was better to take it away! I am sorry to say that our steward was a bit ‘hit and miss’ over the 2 weeks, as for example we’d get the biscuits topped up one day but not the tea bags, or sugar and no biscuits the next. He left a glass in the bathroom instead of with the other glass by the kettle, left the fridge open one day, and I had to ask him to change a cup that had a big chip out of it, right where we drink from! We came back from dinner one evening to find a great towel animal on the bed, but it wasn’t until the next morning when I got out of the shower, I realised my towel was sitting on the chair as a dog and I had to grab one of the pool towels from under the sink! We’ve had stewards in the past leave us some fab towel animals, but they’ve never used our towels for these, but they’ve been with “extra” ones. Good job I had a pool towel to hand, as the hand towel wouldn’t have dried much or covered much of my dignity! None of this however impacted on our overall holiday experience, but we’ve had better stewards in the past. There were 3 pictures (canvas type pictures) opposite the bed, which were of person flying a kite in fields, a farmer ploughing a field on his tractor, and a cricketer (not sure whether he was going into bat or had just been LBW’d!). I bet they’d had a “job lot” and lots of other cabins also had the same pictures. I thought they were actually quite nice (especially the kite one), although as they were done looking through a “fish eye” lens, they did make me feel a bit “sea sick” at times. Closer inspection revealed all of the pictures covered in what looked like paint splashes (I know this because I’ve done this before over my stuff when I’ve tried decorating!). Goodness knows how they’d got this paint on them, so if anyone sees them in the future on EBay, it’s worth checking them out for paint splashes before purchasing them, otherwise you may be disappointed! Then I wondered if those in other cabins also had paint splashes on them, but that thought soon went out of my head when I went out to enjoy the sun on the balcony. I was on holiday, so my brain was shutting down! Mattress – I’ve needed a chiropractor on previous Princess ships, but not on the Ventura. The bed was reasonable and at least I didn’t wake up with backache any morning, but I must say that they aren’t a patch on the Celebrity Eclipse mattress, which was the best one I’ve ever had on a cruise. I’d give the Ventura mattress 6.5 / 10 for comfort if I had to rate this one. TV – had a few TV channels, but also had a good interactive service including our on board accounts and a range of episode from TV programmes (I watched both episodes of Dr Who surprisingly!) and films. Some of these were chargeable while most were free. Didn’t watch anything apart from Dr Who though, as it was far too nice outside to be in the cabin. FOOD: Got to get the priorities right – cabin then food. We had freedom dining as we prefer this to being stuck to a set time and prefer a table for two. We were allocated the Cinnamon restaurant for the first 3 days (the info in the cabin said this and then we could go to either of the restaurants after day 3). On the first evening we decided to go to the buffet (as we were almost asleep standing up and felt I may just doze off in the soup in the main restaurant), but when we got there, it was CLOSED! The only thing of offer was a BBQ out on deck, so we got some food from there and went back to the buffet as there were not tables free on deck, and it was much quieter. Not impressed with the BBQ food. The nicest part was the jacket potato, but the meats were only lukewarm and not hot. Oh well, we didn’t need much to eat anyway and went back to the cabin and fell into bed exhausted. I know I’m going back to the Cabin heading here but I’m sure you’ll forgive me. When we got back in the cabin, we noticed there was only one bedside light on (on DH’s side of the bed), which I thought was a bit odd (why would they only put ONE lamp on unless they were on an economy drive?), then we discovered why……the other lamp didn’t work as bulb had blown! The steward must have noticed this, as on all other evenings both lamps were on (which you would expect), so I guess he’d just left it and hoped we wouldn’t notice or he had noticed it and decided he couldn’t get it fixed that night. When we mentioned it to him the next day, he appeared surprised…..but it was fixed the same day. Buffet: Most evenings had a foody “theme” . These were BBQ, Meditteranean, Asian Oriental, Indian, Best of British, Thai, Caribbean, Italian, Mexican, Eastern meditteranean, Tandoori and Country and Western. As we both have a food allergy (and the food theme didn’t really appeal to us anyway), we thought it better to avoid these, especially considering how poor the BBQ had been. The buffet was fine for breakfast and afternoon tea though, although I did notice after a few days that there were NO hard boiled eggs at the salad bar, although they must have had eggs as they were on the “always available” dinner starter as egg mayonnaise! In the desserts cabinets, for half of the cruise there was a list of what these were (with food allergies it was essential that people knew what they are), but on other days there wasn’t a list and you just had to guess by looking at them what they were! Not really wanting to experience the medical centre, I asked the staff what they desserts were, but I wish they had been consistent with the use of the list! The buffet was also CLOSED on Christmas Day evening! Cinnamon Restaurant: Overall a great experience for us. Had a table for two and the first evening we went there we were given a table in the middle of the row of tables for two, with couples either side of us. Anyway, the couples next to us were almost finished and left as we were on our first course. These tables were not filled again until we were almost finished, which was great. Just an observation……I can never understand why people ask for a table for two and then constantly talk to the people at the next tables in the row! If they want to talk to others why not join a bigger table? The second evening we hit the jackpot and got a table for two against the wall in a different part of the room, which was a lot more private and comfortable. One of the waiters we had we recognised from our previous cruise on the Azura (and even better he remembered us!), and we’d had a great experience with him then, so we went back to his section every evening except Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. On these two days, we had had to book a table on the first Sunday (between 7am and 12 noon), as they were only doing 2 sittings – 6.15pm and 8.30pm. Fortunately we were awake early on “booking morning” and decided to go and book and then come back to bed, so we were second in the queue before they opened up. Because of our allergies, we were visited on our first evening in the Cinnamon by the head waiter Abel, who was absolutely fantastic! We ordered with him for the following evening, and towards the end of the cruise, Abel was telling us what he thought we were going to order, and most of the time he got it right! Oh he was so lovely, so pleasant and the evening I didn’t like anything on the starter menu, he said I could have anything from the lunchtime menu if I wanted, and so I did! We also had a great wine waiter. He would appear to top up our glasses like a phantom in the night! He appeared just at the right time and disappeared just as quickly. Couldn’t have been better. I don’t eat fish (apart from prawns) and only eat beef, chicken and turkey (yes I know I’m an awkward so and so), and so I had quite a few steaks from the “always available” list. On every cruise I say that I’ll try more fish as I can always have something else if I don’t like it, but I’m sorry to say I am not that brave and so went back to what I know and like! I thought that the quality of the food was very good overall, with some excellent beef and steak, and the portions were just right. We never felt “stuffed” after dinner – even though I ate more cheese and ice cream and yummy puds than I ever do at home. Having ordered the day before also meant we got served quicker than usual, although never rushed. Now I bet you’re wondering how much I put on during the cruise? The saying goes….”you board as a passenger and leave as cargo!” Well sorry to disappoint you but I didn’t put on anything – yes I couldn’t believe it either but I didn’t find another set of scales for a second opinion! Ports: We’d done all of the ports before and in most of them we just wandered and explored in the town on our own. We did a couple of ship tours - one in St Kitts (we’re done the train before so went for the Fort this time) and the other an island tour in St Lucia. These were OK and we saw a bit more of the islands than we had before. The air conditioning didn’t work on one of the buses though, so it was a case of opening all the windows so as not to fry! This was fine by me and it was lovely to have a warm breeze of my face. Not sure whether his bus would last the season though, as the clutch was also on it’s way out. Still, it just added to the local flavor of the place for me. I should warn you though that tour buses and I don’t mix anyway. On previous cruises, my tour bus in Bonaire had a flat tyre, the door fell off my bus in Hawaii, and the tour bus completely died going through the Rockies in Canada, where I could hear huge trucks thundering past in the pitch black. I was convinced we would be the filling in a “truck and tree” sandwich! So it would be wise for you to demand a different tour or at least a refund if you find yourself on the same tour bus as me! We had an extra day in Barbados, due to a poorly patient who needed specialist treatment (the Captain announced this when we were at dinner on Wednesday evening). So instead of arriving on the Friday morning, the Captain really “legged it” and we arrived a day early. This was the only time that I felt sea sick during the night (apart from looking at the cabin pictures too long), as it was very windy that evening and he’d really put the accelerator down. We did worry about the patient though, and hope that they made it back OK and got the treatment they needed and are getting better. Although we had to do immigration on the ship that Thursday at a set time (a very reasonable time so we still got our lie-in that morning), it was a fast and efficient process, and we were off the ship at lunchtime with a nice walk into Bridgetown. The following day we went to the beach – not the prettiest but there weren’t many people there and the white sand and warm clear sea was good enough for me, and it was only the other side of town so well within walking distance. On the way back, we saw two turtles in the marina (or whatever it’s called by town where the boats park). I’d never seen turtles before so that was just lovely. Being British I just have to mention the weather! It was an average of around 28deg C most days, one day I think hit around 33. So lovely and warm then. In Dominica it HEAVED it down with rain all day!! It was so bad that an announcement was made to say that all morning ship tours were cancelled, and they named two afternoon ones that were still going, including whale watching. Around lunchtime though, they announced these were also cancelled – if the whales had any sense they would have scarped far away from the monsoon! We had a few showers on and off, but the sun came out and it was dry again soon enough. It is wonderful getting up in the morning and going out onto the balcony with the sun shining and feeling the heat. There were a few afternoons though when the sun was on the balcony, and even I couldn’t stay outside as I felt like I was being roasted in an oven! One of the nicest parts for me too, was coming back from dinner, putting on my PJs, and going out and sitting on the balcony, in the warmth and looking at the clear starry sky and listening to the swish of the waves. Bliss! The only thing that spoiled it a little for me, was that quite often, there were balcony lights left on either side of us, when there was no one using the balcony. When I looked out, there were also many balconies with lights on without anyone being out there (I could see on the D deck ones below as their balconies are completely uncovered). I know its not a big issue, but what a waste of energy and as I love being out there in the dark, it’s just an annoyance for me. Not sure why the steward doesn’t switch off any lights not being used by guests when they do the rooms in the evening? Interesting snippets (well I think they’re interesting but you may not!): We were parked next to an RCI ship (think it was RCI but I may be having a senior moment!) in one port (at my age my memory isn’t was it used to be so can’t remember which one it was), and there were also 2 other ships in port (including Arcadia). There were frequent calls with a number of names for them to ring reception (those who obviously weren’t back on the ship), until only two were left unaccounted for. We should have left at 5pm, but we were still there about 20 minutes later. The horns sounded and off we went, pulling back from the dock, waving and cheering with the RCI passengers who were also not long off leaving. We must have got about 30 feet or so from the dock when a couple came “rushing” down the dock waving to us. They were our 2 missing passengers! Now if I’d have been the Captain, as they should have been on at least 45 minutes ago, I would have said “hard luck you’re too late”, but being the lovely Captain that he was, he actually moved the ship back to the dock to let them board. What I did find irritating was that the couple didn’t even seem sorry! There was clapping and whistling from our ship, and he was making bows to the ship, not at all looking embarrassed and just acting like an idiot! As we’d then missed our departure slot, we had to wait until all the other 3 ships had gone, and so left port about an hour late. Now I did hear that the couple were billed £500 for the extra costs the ship incurred and they refused to pay, so were put off the ship at the next port, but I don’t have any evidence to prove this, so it may just be wishful thinking! We weren’t the only ship with missing passengers though, as on the RCI ship, even after they had taken up the gangway, there were staff leaning out of the doorway looking up the dock for the missing suspects. I suspect that some were left behind there. We also heard towards the end of the cruise, that two families had been kicked off the Ventura. One because the children were caught shop lifting in the on-board shops and the other due to drunken behaviour, (they had been warned about this) but as it continued, they were chucked off. Serves them right IMHO! Captain: Charlie Carr was superb. He had the most wonderful sense of humour! We just happened to come out of dinner into the Captains Party in the atrium, so we stayed for his speech. He started by telling us how sorry he was that it was around 28 degrees C where we were and only 4 degrees and raining in Newark. He then continued something like……. ”Tomorrow we’re going to St Kitts…..the next day to….uuummmm….somewhere else….and the day after that…uuummm….somewhere else again”. (It may not have been St Kitts but I was on holiday mode by then and can’t remember exactly what port he said we were going to the next day!) Library – not the biggest or the best I’ve seen on a ship, but I still managed to borrow enough books to last me the 2 weeks (DH had his hands on MY Kindle). The Azura previous offered Kindles to borrow, but they weren’t available on here. I was only able to borrow 2 books at a time, so I made DH get 2 more out for me on his card. However I did notice that I’d dropped my 2 books off in the bin just before the library opened in the afternoon, and I took out another two. They couldn’t possibly have checked my old books back in before I took my new ones out! There was also a table just outside the library where people had left their own books for “recycling”. I managed to pick up two, but when I returned the last one I had at the end of the cruise, this table was overflowing with books! So if you want some reading material, I’d suggest getting there early, as books are still popular. For those who wanted to keep up to date with the news, there was a summary news sheet on a table by the Costa coffee bar, along with a daily suduko/crossword. There was also BBC World News on the cabin TV as well as Sky News and sport, and although we did keep up to date with what was going on, I must admit that I like to be away from everything when I’m in holiday, and be in my own world for 2 weeks. Spa: As we’d got some OBC, I treated myself to a pedicure treatment at the spa. Wish I’d never bothered!! The therapist told me that 2 months ago she’s been working in an office – this bothered me a little as I wondered just how much training she’d had to do the treatments. I sat in a chair and put my feet in lukewarm going on cool water, then I suddenly felt that I was being punched in the back! She’s only started the massager in the chair without a word to me, and as I have a back injury, this was the last thing I needed. I managed to stop it (but not before it had irritated my injury to the extent that I needed some analgesia when I got back to the cabin), but the treatment then got worse when she pushed so hard that she made my toe bleed! The basic pedicure was 45 mins but the more expensive one I’d opted for was an hour, but I was in and out within 45mins and had nothing more than a basic pedicure (I was glad really as it was anything but relaxing), and to add insult to injury, they added on an automatic gratuity to the bill! My back and toe throbbed and the more I reflected on the treatment I’d received, the more annoyed I got and worried she could potentially do some real damage to someone else, especially by putting the massager on without any sort of consultation or consent. I couldn’t let it go, so I went up to the spa and insisted on speaking to the Spa Manager. I suggested that his staff should have some proper training and better client care is needed. I got 50% of the treatment cost back, but my main concern is that I hope they treat people with more care in future. For anyone who is thinking of paying a visit to the spa on a future cruise, be aware that they add on an automatic gratuity (and there was even another place on the slip you sign to insert yet another tip!). Miscellaneous: We like our pop and there was a general store in the Barbados port shops area where we picked up a couple of large bottles of Coke light and some smaller bottles at a very reasonable price. We struggled to find larger bottles in other ports, so if you’re like us and like your pop, I’d advise stocking up in Barbados before the cruise leaves. Yes I know we can buy it on the ship, but its far cheaper doing it this way. On deck 4 where we disembarked in ports, there was a table by the medical centre, which had a number of leaflets advertising offers in different shops. The only one I used was that for Diamonds International to get a free charm bracelet. With the bracelet you can then get a free charm in the ports where there is a DI store. OK they aren’t worth anything as they are free, but they are fine for kids, and my friends’ twin 6 year old granddaughters think they’re great! Future cruise payment – we considered doing this on board but when we read the conditions, decided not to. We would have to book a cruise within 1 year and if we didn’t, we would lose the deposit. We would also only get £25pp for the balcony cabin we have for a 2 week cruise. As we don’t have anything in mind at present to book, a year is not long enough for us, so we chose not to do this. Princess beats P&O hands down here, as with their similar offer, we have 2 years to book and if we choose not to, we get the deposit back (I understand that they’ll also extend it to 4 years if you ask). Sorry P&O but I don’t think this is a good deal unless you already have a cruise in mind that you want to book within the next 12 months. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive as Ventura had a bit of a “party” reputation at one stage, but I didn’t find that except at times when you’d expect it to be lively like New Year’s Eve. There also didn’t appear to be as many younger children on this cruise but more teenagers, who we weren’t aware caused any problems. I also didn’t hear the usual “moans and groans” that I’ve heard on other cruises from the British, so I assume that most people had a good time – those we spoke to had enjoyed their holiday. Did we have a good time? NO! We had a brilliant time! Relaxed and rested, good food, visited some lovely places and met some very nice people. And had sun and warmth. Would we do it again? We are! We had already booked the Ventura again for next xmas/new year. We even picked the same cabin (which we only realised after we’d booked it!) – so I’ll be checking for even more fluff under the desk! I am sorry that I have gone on a lot but I hope that at least some of you have managed to stay awake and found it interesting or useful. Happy cruising to you all.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
my husband and i took our first cruise 2 years ago on an american cruise liner and my husband hated it.. He reluctantly agreed to make the "sacrifice to take me on a P&O cruise to the Carribean for my 60th birthday on the ... Read More
my husband and i took our first cruise 2 years ago on an american cruise liner and my husband hated it.. He reluctantly agreed to make the "sacrifice to take me on a P&O cruise to the Carribean for my 60th birthday on the uinderstanding that if he disliked it again the word cruise would not pass my lips again - Well given he would have been prepared to stay on the ship for another 2 weeks at the end of the trip I can safely say this cruise was a great success. Firstly it really helped that this was a British cruise ship and everything about it was very British, from the entertainment to the sail away parties, games on deck, talks on Nelson in the Carribean and the absolutely fabulous afternoon teas, with warm scones and teacakes and jam and cream and dainty little cakes. Secondly it is essential to choose the right area to cruise in. We are very active people and not sunbathers. so it was great that we spent very little time at sea, arrived at 7.am at most destinations and were able to disembark as early as 8.15am We then toured each island by local taxi's and hit the beaches for swimmimg before heading back to the ship at 4 p.m to get afternoon tea. It is wrong to assume cruising is for the feeble oldies. We did so much each day we actually looked forward to a day on board to recuperate ready for the next landing. When we had a day on board we chatted to other passengers and took in the entertainment. Formal dining took place on the 3 days we were at sea so I also took the opportunity to spend a little time getting my hair back into shape. We were never bored. The carribean is a delight but I wouldn't have wanted to spend more than a few days in each destination so the cruise was a perfect way to do it. For many on the cruise this was their second, 3rd or even 4th time cruising the Carribean and they suggested on the first cruise you should take the opportunity to tour the islands to get a feel for each destination and then take the cruise a second time and just hit the best beaches. That's an idea we may take up.in 2014/15. The Ventura may not be the most spectacular ship on the ocean but we found it spacious and dined well in the Bay Tree Restaurant. There were some interesting and fun people on our table so we chose to dine there each evening to catch up but had that not been the case we could have chosen freedom dining instead. The food was excellent in the Bay Tree and our waiters a joy to be with each night. In general we found all the staff friendly and anxious to please (excluding security staff, whether on the ship or at the airport - are these people specifically selected to have no sense of humour) The entertainment particularly from the inhouse theatre group was very good - west end style shows lasting about 45 minutes and then on to one of the bars to see tribute acts and comedians. Generally all very good. The casino was a little small and we had difficulty in getting on the tables after 10pm. One great thing about P&O above other cruise lines is they will allow you to bring your own drink on board and take it to your room . I believe most cruise ships take it off you and return it at the end of the cruise We didn't do it because we are not drinkers but many were bringing cheap liquor on board from the duty free shops. The only thing which spoiled our cruise was finding out that people in better cabins had paid a lot less than us because they had booked only two weeks before sailing - some people they had paid substantially less than others and caused a great deal of resentment . P.O need to find some way of avoiding this You don't have to take the ships tours at any of the islands visited. The local taxi's are brilliant, well organised and reliable. You don't pay until you get back so they always pick you up and anyway there are hundreds of them touting for your business. They are now controlled by the tourist boards and prices are more or less fixed. The only cruise ship trip we did was swimming with turtles in Barbados. We were a bit surprised to find our catamaran stopped off a beach in view of the cruise ship and others swam with the turtles under there own steam by paying 8 dollars for a taxi whilst we paid £64 on the boat - we did get to snorkel over a shipwreck and cruise to another beach and it was very nice but next time we would do it on our own. Always get talking to people on the boat you would be amazed how many times some people have been and how much they know. Having seen the Carribean for the first time I know why they keep coming back. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Our latest P & O Cruise on board Ventura began way back in July 2012 when we had a family get together back up North on Merseyside when my eldest brother in-law wanted to arrange a special birthday (60th) but didn’t know what to do, ... Read More
Our latest P & O Cruise on board Ventura began way back in July 2012 when we had a family get together back up North on Merseyside when my eldest brother in-law wanted to arrange a special birthday (60th) but didn’t know what to do, having cruised many times over the last decade I suggested a cruise, the question came back ‘Where can we go were the weather is good on the 30th November (His Birthday) My answer either the Canaries or the Caribbean, Caribbean won, so we booked a fly- cruise A party of four departing from Manchester & Us from Gatwick meeting on board Ventura in Barbados for a 14 night PARTY. During the weeks leading up to our departure date we kept a close eye on the long range weather forecast, which wasn’t looking to good Rain/Rain/Thunderstorms/Partly Cloudy & more Rain, never mind it has to be better than the UK @ the end of Nov, what a pleasant surprise to find on arrival in Barbados glorious sunshine knocking on the door of 30C, after having been given a flight upgrade to B/A, a cabin upgrade plus onboard credit, could things get any better? We arrived at Bridgetown Cruise Terminal just short of 6.00pm, were Ventura awaited, given our Cruise Cards and headed to our pre-arranged meeting place of Deck 16,Starboard side(Smoking), Breakers Bar to meet the family, whom had arrived earlier in the afternoon via their Manchester Thomas Cook flight. Whilst participating in ‘Sailaway’ drinks, we compared flights and general pre- cruise arrangements (1-0) to British Airways. Once our luggage arrived which to be fair wasn’t too long, we spent our time before dinner, unpacking and having a leisurely drink on our (Upgraded) balcony as we sailed into the sunset. We decided against Dinner at our designated table in the Bay Tree Restaurant (Deck 6 aft) & headed for the on Deck BBQ (Deck 15 Laguna Bar & Grill) accompanied with poolside tunes from our on board Caribbean Band ‘Caribbean Cruise) Our first full day on board Ventura was a Sea day were we spent most of the daylight hours around the pool enjoying the beautiful weather which wasn’t forecast, us boys having a few beers, whilst the girls tried several of the cocktails on offer inc ‘Cocktail’ of the day, the evening, our first of four ‘Formal’ nights we dressed appropriately Tuxedo for the men and Ball gown or Cocktail dress for the ladies as we headed for second sitting (8.30) for dinner, after which there was an array of entertainment to choose from either in the ‘Arena’ theatre, Tamarind Club or ‘Havana’ to name but a few. Day Two: Our first Port of Call: Grenada After getting up pretty early 5.30am to watch us pull into port and tie up in the capital of St. George’s, we met in the ‘Waterside’ for a Full English cooked breakfast as well as fresh fruit, croissants yoghurts etc..The Manchester crew (My two Brothers in law & their respective partners) headed for their meeting place for the first of their many pre- booked excursions on this occasion they had chosen ‘Hike to the Seven sister’s’. We in turn just decided to wander the streets & the old fort before having a few beers in a local tavern which happened to be owned by a very friendly German & his wife. Back on board before departure we had the usual drinks by the pool, this time with music by ‘Cruise Edition’, followed by dinner. Tonight’s entertainment was to be a tribute to ‘The British Queen of Soul’ Dusty Springfield in ‘Havana’ or Jimmy James ‘The priest of Soul’ in the Arena Theatre. Day Three: St Lucia Even though this was my fourth time in the Port of Castries, St Lucia it was the first time I thoroughly enjoyed it, 1st time we never managed to get ashore through adverse weather as it was a tender port 2nd Walk the perimeter fence of the airport trying to find a beach 3rd didn’t venture out of Castries due to a very heavy night the previous evening. So after nine years of wanting (We were first here in 2004) we managed to arrange/haggle a taxi to take all six of us to Marigot Bay ‘the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean’ white sand, turquoise waters, swaying palms, ticking every box in tropical paradise and to top it off the location of the infamous film ‘Dr Dolittle’ In a word FABULOUS After a very strenuous day at the beach as I’m sure you can imagine, we didn’t do a lot after dinner other than a few drinks in Havana again and then enjoyed the evening on the balcony watching the sun disappear, hoping it would return in the morning and the sound of the waves crashing alongside Ventura as we headed to our next port at a tranquil average speed of 7.9 knots Day Four: Dominica Sunrise; 6:13 am & up early again, this time split into three teams after what seems to be the compulsory Full English and everything else that goes with it Breakfast, the Manchester crew are split Boys/ & Girls. The boys are going ‘River Tubing followed by Hibiscus Falls, whilst the girls are ‘Hot Springs Escape’. Us in turn are doing our usual photo shoot around port then heading for what is probably the most ‘Bizarre’ bar in the ‘World’ Having been here again a few times in the past we have seen the ‘Ruins’ Caribbean Bar as it is known grow in stature. 1st year No Roof, 2nd year Electric & a roof (The Beer fridges & Music were getting the electric from a petrol generator in the street) 3rd time: Air Conditioning, every time we have been we are the only non local people to enter, by the time we leave it is full of fellow ‘Cruises’ it is an experience not to be missed, the Rum punch is unforgettable, Oh I nearly forgot they have a snake pit in the cellar. Looking forward to the next year of improvements. Back on board we had our usual ‘Sailaway’ followed by getting ready for dinner , this time meeting for pre-dinner drinks in Ventura’s stylish ‘Glass House’ (Deck 7 Fwd) a relaxed wine bar that also serves food which is dedicated to the love of fine wine . After dinner ‘Mark Walker’ deserves a mention as he performed his Award winning impressions of Billy Connolly, Freddie Mercury & Michael Jackson etc… in the ‘Arena theatre’ (Deck 6 & 7 Fwd) Day Five: St Kitts After a leisurely overnight passage of some 50 miles, we arrived in St Kitts, accompanied by two other cruise ships MSC Musica & Aida Bella, so between us 9000 passengers, split approx three ways 3 thousand Brits/Italians /Germans headed into the sleepy town of Basseterre and have a party, what a day, with the local Carib beer being sold for as little as 99 cents a bottle & souvenirs in abundance, together with yet another great day of weather other than the odd minute long shower , fun was had by all. Frivolities continued into the early hours with the Entertainment team as they took us back in time with the 60s & 70s night around the Laguna Pool & Breakers Bar (Deck 15 & 16 fwd). Day Six: St Maarten My personnel favourite, our first time hear we came ashore by tender, however a new cruise terminal & complex has been built over the years, again beautiful weather welcomed us to the island of St. Maarten an island shared 50/50 between the Dutch & French, we chose to walk the short distance into town, you can take a water taxi if you prefer. After the compulsory browse around the many shops & market stalls as well as the unbelievably cheep Duty Free shops, we found a spot on the beach for the afternoon until which time we had to make our way back to the ship, on walking back to the cruise terminal were both Ventura and NCL Norwegian Gems, awaited their respective passengers the heavens opened & we experienced a tropical storm that I had never had the pleasure of before, so we had to dive into a bar for cover as well as to sample the local beer. ‘Sailaway’ unfortunately was a complete wash out due to the weather which eventually passed over, then the usual drinks before dinner, then dinner & the evening entertainment in the several venues. Day Seven: Tortola Half way through already (Not Good) The BIG day had arrived, the reason why we were all here (The 60th Birthday) so to start the cabin door was decorated with the usual 60th banners & balloons. Cards, presents and best wishes were presented to the ‘Birthday Boy’. After breakfast we headed ashore, wandered around Tortola on a very humid day, unfortunately the port of ‘Road Town’ doesn’t have a lot to offer other than a few bars around the marina area and several shops, one of which was fascinating ‘The Best of British’ a convenience store, the likes of which you would find back home, selling everything ‘British’ cans of Heinz bake beans, soups, Kelloggs corn flakes, English canned beers to name but a few, they were doing a roaring trade in this ‘British Virgin Island’. We headed back to the ship reasonably early as we had pre booked an Al Fresco table in the alternative dining restaurant ‘White Room’ for 6:30pm. Marco Pierre White now has an alternate dining venue on six out of the seven strong P & O fleet (Azura being the exception) The intimate dining room offers superb views out over the ship’s wake and a terrace area for Al Fresco, unfortunately closed on our evening due to adverse weather, this however didn’t spoil, what turned out to be a fabulous evening, the menu is as impressive as your surroundings. After desert, a Champagne bottle shaped birthday cake arrived at our table with a single candle and duly decorated wishing ‘Paul’ Happy Birthday. Day Eight: At Sea. After a late celebratory night, we duly went for our usual buffet breakfast and a lazy day ahead as we were at sea as Ventura maintained her course across the Caribbean Sea towards Curacao, we spent most of the day @ Breakers Bar overlooking the pool as the weather was Sunny with temperatures topping 32 C. The Evening attire was ‘Formal’ and a ‘Black & White’ ball was held in the atrium Day Nine: Curacao Curacao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast, and we docked in the capital city of Willemstad. Another beautiful sunny day and we just strolled around the city which is split into two main districts, the Punda and the Otrabanda , by St. Anna Bay, the view from either side is of beautiful 17th Century gabled houses ,typically Dutch in all aspects bar one- their facades are wild pastel shades. Queen Emma Bridge, also known as the floating bridge or The Swinging Old Lady links the two main areas of the city. After ‘Sailaway’ we decided to have tonight’s dinner in ‘The Waterside’ buffet restaurant as the evening Theme was Neptune, which was everything fish, once finished we headed to Havana as the tribute was John Ellis as Elton John. Later in the evening we headed back up to Breaker’s Bar as one of the entertainment team were playing Relaxing Reggae under the Stars. Day Ten: Bonaire. Another sunny/fun packed day awaited us as we arrived early in the port of Kralendijk, the island of Bonaire is surrounded by coral reefs and the boys had pre-booked a Cruise &Snorkel day trip on board a 40ft catamaran ‘Mushi Mushi’, we in turn headed for Eden Village a beach resort we had found several years ago on our previous visit. ‘Sailaway’ this evening is advertised as the BIG one. As we are invited to the biggest party of the cruise. A good old knees up around the Laguna pool, with music, dancing, and lots of flag waving, it did not disappoint as everyone on board joined in and as a finale the entertainment staff cooled off by jumping into the pool fully dressed. The party atmosphere continued as tonight was Tropical Party Bonanza Night, with the Caribbean buffet bbq fired up and the sun setting in the sky, everyone duly arrived in their newly purchased Caribbean Tropical attire, the party continued into the small hours but we didn’t need to be up early the following day as we had two sea days ahead as we headed back to Barbados which awaited some 534 nautical miles away Day Eleven: At Sea. This was the first of our two (2) days at sea, we woke up to another fine morning, but a little windy on our port side balcony as we had no sun our side until later in the day, I decided that before breakfast, I would take advantage of the laundry facilities on board and get our washing out the way, all was done in a little over an hour, all washed and dried and ready to pack. We spent the most of the day as per usual at Breakers Bar whilst the sun continued to shine. The shops were busy all day with last minute Tax & Duty Free shopping The evening was to be our final ‘Formal’ night, so we duly got ready for dinner, we had, yet again a delicious meal at our table in the Bay Tree Restaurant. Day Twelve: At Sea. Our final sea day before arriving in ‘Ventura’s home port of the winter months Barbados, another fine day at sunrise just before 6.30am, I wandered the open decks as I usually do first thing, and after several cups of coffee & a few cigarettes, met up with the others for breakfast, after which the day was spent in and around the pool. The shops were again busy with fellow guests purchasing their last minute shopping and photographs from the photo gallery. The atmosphere was quite sombre during the day as the majority of passengers were disembarking in the morning and heading back to the U.K. The evening was more or less the same, but as we were finishing our dinner in the Bay Tree, we had the traditional ‘Chefs Parade ‘ were all the ships Chef’s gather together and walk through the restaurant to raptures of support and thanks. As the evening drew to a close we had a few hours in Havana’s and then circumnavigated the Promenade Deck (Deck 7) before retiring to the comfort of our own cabin & balcony. Day Thirteen: Barbados On arrival and watching from our port side balcony, the quayside was a hive of activity with passengers disembarking and luggage being taken from the ship to be transported to the airport, We thankfully still had a full day in Bridgetown, Barbados to look forward too. So after the compulsory breakfast, headed off the ship and toward town, a fifteen minute stroll along the esplanade, across the bridge of the harbour, which is full of deep sea fishing boats for hire and onto the ‘Boatyard’ a beach resort, that we found awhile back and this was to be our fourth visit. For a small admission charge of $15.00 (About £10.00) you have the use of all the facilities, sun lounger, parasol, bar, restaurant, rest rooms, beach games & a free homemade Rum Punch! An absolutely fabulous way to spend our last afternoon in the Caribbean, until next time of course. They also offer a complimentary mini-bus return to the ship if you choose to use it, as well as a shop with plenty of beach wear to choose from. Our final evening on board was spent packing our suitcases for collection from our cabin for transfer to the airport. Our farewell dinner in the restaurant was completed by saying a big thank you to the superb waiters for excellent food and service. A few drinks in the Havana, again thanking all staff that we came across. We had a reasonably early night, and not looking forward to having to head back home to the British weather in early December. Day Fourteen: Final Day As per usual I managed to awake early, and wanting to find out the previous days football results , turned the TV on to Sky Sports News, only to see ‘Breaking News’ scrolling along the bottom of the screen. ‘Airport Delays all over the UK’. After watching for awhile, I alerted the others in our party. Thankfully after breakfast the ‘Ships Company’ announced that instead of us all having to spend an unknown amount of time at the airport, we were allowed to spend the day on board Ventura until which time our flight was confirmed. As each flight was called, we said our ‘Goodbyes’ to new found friends and our family, who were heading back to Manchester. As the ship began to fill with new passengers, we eventually headed to the airport at 17.00hrs. The flight was due for take-off at a re-scheduled time of 20.30hrs. All went well and we arrived back in Gatwick after our overnight flight after what must be a near record time of seven hours flying time. All in all a fabulous and most memorable holiday cruise and has made us decide to do it all again in a little over three months, so will need to start packing again in the middle of March 2014.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
I was a reluctant cruiser. The thought of being inactive and surrounded by people and food did not impress me. I had enjoyed the intimate river cruises with Viking for the last 3 years and needed a winter break somewhere warm at a more ... Read More
I was a reluctant cruiser. The thought of being inactive and surrounded by people and food did not impress me. I had enjoyed the intimate river cruises with Viking for the last 3 years and needed a winter break somewhere warm at a more affordable price than Viking have now become. We booked 5 weeks before on a getaway deal. We were impressed with the balcony room on B deck. The balcony was just big enough for 2, 4 at a push when our daughters joined us if they sat on the foot stool and table. Small shower room though. My parents paid £200 more each for a deluxe balcony room with a bathroom and a living area with a 4 seater sofa and chair in their larger room. They also had a bigger balcony and were on D deck., but it was overlooked by all the decks above ( As are the balconies on C deck). No privacy if you want to sunbathe. The ship is cleverly designed. Adults in the front, kids at the back, noisy pool with dj in the middle. The food in the restaurant was lovely and varied. The service was exceptional. The staff were friendly and the captain a delight to talk to. We were tempted to eat elsewhere one night and pay the extra cover charge, but we didn't want to abandon our waiters or the food and stayed loyally eating at the 6.30pm sitting. Prices on the ship were reasonable. £15 for a bottle of wine, £20 for a trip to the beach, more for more exotic excursions. We went Whale watching for £55 each, Kayaking and snorkelling £46 each. On other days we organised our own taxi tours that were plentiful and competitively priced. The cruise island itinerary was good ( Barbados, Granada, St Lucia, Dominica, St Maarten, St Kitts, Tortolla and then our favourites Curacao and Bonaire (Little Gems),. There was a good blend of island days and sea days to relax. Good idea to have 2 sea days to take us back to Barbados where we chilled and relaxed by the endless pool, It was not boring and neither was it like Butlins I am really glad I took the leap. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
I was a bit dubious about P&O as I thought it would be older people and all Brits but have just had a great cruise. The ship was modern, spacious with a good selection of bars and restaurants. I couldnt believe there were over 3000 on ... Read More
I was a bit dubious about P&O as I thought it would be older people and all Brits but have just had a great cruise. The ship was modern, spacious with a good selection of bars and restaurants. I couldnt believe there were over 3000 on boar as nowhere seemed crowded. There was some hogging of sunbeds but always somewhere quiet to sit, which suited me more than being round the pool. Entertainment was mostly excellent, especially the Freddie Mercury tribute. Absolutely fantastic. Theatre shows were good - get there 30 mins before to get a good seat. Sometimes the orchestra seemed to be in a battle with the singers but The Headliners are great singers and dancers. There was something for everyone so not all shows to our taste but we found somewhere else to go. Could have done with some craft sessions on sea days - scrap boarding or card making. Also no speaker on upcoming ports or history of the region. Food in the MDRs was excellent. as we had freedom dining and happy to share there was never any waiting. service was good. Only complaint that wine took a long time to come on some nights and we were into the main course before we got a slurp! Embarkation and disembarkation were well planned. On in 30 mins and even quicker getting off. Value of the cruise was stunning as I booked 4 weeks before we sailed. The ports were all excellent and the weather was unbelievable. Well done P&O for providing free shuttles and free laundrettes. Would have liked free ice cream though. I can't find anything to complain about, though we heard people grumbling that standards had gone down. This was our first P&O so don't have anything to compare it with. Compared to our 7 previous cruises, it was an excellent standard. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Drove down to Southampton, easy 3 and a bit hours from our home. Little bit of a wait to unload our cases and then into the huge hall. First time ever we have not had to queue to go to the registration desk. Then straight through to ... Read More
Drove down to Southampton, easy 3 and a bit hours from our home. Little bit of a wait to unload our cases and then into the huge hall. First time ever we have not had to queue to go to the registration desk. Then straight through to checking hand luggage and persons through with just a little queue. Our cabin was ready for us in a relatively swift time, soon followed by our cases. Then unfortunately for the boring but essential part of the safety drill. Unpacked our cases and job done! We had travelled on Ventura previously so knew what to expect. We had already booked the White Room and East and looked forward to the Glass House as we had sampled this on Azura the previous Christmas. The staff on board are second to none. Everyone is very friendly, courteous and knowledgeable. Have to give a huge thanks to the Jumping Jacks staff. We couldnt keep our 8 year old daughter away they did such a good job of looking after her. Our trip down the Bay of Biscay was the gentlest one we have ever experienced. Sailing through the straights of Gibraltar was beautiful, saw many dolphins. Our first port was Valencia. Went to the huge beach just a stroll round from where the boat docked, unfortunately it was rather windy. Hubby enjoyed seeing the Grand Prix circuit. Next stop Barcelona. Amazing place, architecture fantastic. The infrastructure left over from the Olympics has made a huge impact. Did an open topped bus tour which was the best way of quickly seeing the sights. Wouldnt have like to have been on the ground as it was packed. Then Monaco, truly stunning. Went to the aquarium and can highly recommend this. We were the only ones in!. Then went on the little train and again a good way of seeing the sights. Walking round the harbour is a must, oggling at the hugely expensive craft. This stop was by tender and love that way of getting to the Port. Next was Rome, again masses of tourists, did a trip to the Colloseum which was dumfounding and had some free time in the afternoon so explored the Panthenon and Trevi Fountain - both a must. Next stop Ajaccio and if there is one place we would like to return to its Corsica. Beautiful, French and not packed with tourists. If it is a lovely day, hop off the boat and 10 minutes to the left you arrive at a beautiful clean beach with clear water. Next to Gibraltar. Did the Secrets of the Rock Tour which was highly informative. Up on the cable car to the top of the rock, saw the apes and watch out for these, they will steal anything and don't rustle in your handbag! Our guide was hugely enthusiastic. We went down into the caves and then visited the tunnels used by the soldiers. We were absolutely pooped at the end but it is well worth it and the history behind the rock is amazing. There were loads of dolphins as we entered and left the harbour in Gibraltar. Unfortunately the weather turned a bit travelling back through the straights and up the side of Portugal and there were a few green faces the next day. Last stop was La Corunna and we decided to stay on board having visited here before. We would have gone to the Beach our 8 year old wanted a day off from tramping round as she called it! Food: Excellent, especially the White Room and East. Can highly recommend experiencing these. We loved the Glass House although expected it to have had a makeover to distinguish it from Las Ramblas as was previous. The only let down we felt with regard to food was the Freedom Dining Cinammon and Saffron restaurants. The quality seemed less than previous. However on the Gala dinner night it was superb (Marco Pierre White menu) - wish it had been like that every night. Breakfasts are fantastic, every option catered for. Room service was bril too - never had to wait too long which was lovely after a tiring day in Rome. Had a lovely chat with Charlie Carr the Captain when he was doing his rounds. He stopped while we were eating to say hello and we found out he lives only a short distance from us with his relatives just down the road - small world. Didnt do any of the shows so cant comment on these although judging by how packed the venue seemed to be perhaps speaks for itself. Best event was Olly Smith's wine talk, hugely informative and what a thoroughly nice chap he seems to be. He is very enthusiastic about his wines and food and can highly recommend this. Also did the Marco Pierre White talk. Pretty much the same as the one we had done previously. Passengers - OMG was there anyone apart from us younger than 50!? Well there were a few but have to say this was the oldest group of fellow passengers we have come across. If we had any gripe it would be that we didnt appreciate finding a previous passenger's underpants and socks behind the small cupboard at the side of the bed. Will definitely return one day and a big thumbs up to the crew and staff for their unstinting customer service.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
I have just returned from a lovely cruise with ventura I took my son and his partner as my sister I was going with passed away last month she was so looking forward to another cruise on this ship I found it was to big for me as It there ... Read More
I have just returned from a lovely cruise with ventura I took my son and his partner as my sister I was going with passed away last month she was so looking forward to another cruise on this ship I found it was to big for me as It there was to much walking but I found the entertainment was excellent also choice of food in the bay tree restaurant served by stephen and dev who couldn't do enough for us The organised trips were very good even though pricey Only problem was I never liked the coffee on board could have been the water also the loud music in the casino why do these singers have to shout I enjoyed the pina colader the last two nights as they wasnt filled with ice as I was told they can only make them with ice till a waiter said he would do them for me without the ice and the drink was perfect Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Stayed night before in Grand harbour hotel,lovely place but didn't really enjoy the early alarm call- 01-10am by the fire alarm !! but hey the two hours outside and in the Holiday Inn you got to meet plenty of people !! Accommadaion ... Read More
Stayed night before in Grand harbour hotel,lovely place but didn't really enjoy the early alarm call- 01-10am by the fire alarm !! but hey the two hours outside and in the Holiday Inn you got to meet plenty of people !! Accommadaion inside cabin A deck.Very nice,plenty storage and cabin steward, Martino was excellent,very attentive and hard working. Food was amazing and we went for Freedom Dining ,met another 3 couples on first night and that was us for the rest of the cruise,great company and what a laugh,thankyou all !! Entertainment was excellent,WestEnd Men,comedians the disco!! and all other entertainers onboard.Had heard a lot of negative comments about the ship but as far as myself and wife were concerned, you will never please all the people all of the time !! Had a fantastic time and can't wait to book the next one. If you've not tried it do it, you won't regret it, its what you make it, isn't it peeps !! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We spent 12 nights on Ventura at the end of a very tough year. My husband was diagnosed with cancer last December and had major surgery followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. This crusie was a well deserved rest for us both and a chance to ... Read More
We spent 12 nights on Ventura at the end of a very tough year. My husband was diagnosed with cancer last December and had major surgery followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. This crusie was a well deserved rest for us both and a chance to wave goodbye to the past year. We stayed in cabin D207 and only booked 6 weeks before sailing. This was a guarantee cabin and although quite near the front of the ship, we loved it. The cabin was spacious with a lounge area and a lovely balcony. Yes the balcony was completely overlooked but this also meant it was perfect for sunbathing! My husband was on board for his birthday andi had arranged for a champagne breakfast in bed which was wonderful and made for a very special start to his day. This came with a half bottle of Lanson, a plate of fruit, cheese, cold meats, pastries, fruit juice, coffee. Far too much for two of us but stored in our fridge, we muches our way through it later on. I also ordered a birthday cake for the evening and this was lovely. We chose the timed dining at 8.30pm which suited us well. We could get ready at our leisure and if we were ready early we would go to Metropolis for a pre dinner cocktail. We dined in Saffron Restaurent. Our waiters were superb and could not have done more for us. We chose a table of 6 and we shared it with two other couples. We all got along well. There was always lots to do on board and you could not get bored on this ship. My only complaint was trying to get a sunbed particularly on sea days. This is where we hugely benefited from having a lovely cabin and our own balcony. We dined in all three fine dining restaurants. The White room was wonderful. Great food and lovely service. East was also great food and service. The Glass house was superb and the wines and food lovely. Would recommend all three venues. Formal evening were nice and the majority of people really made a big effort with their outfits. The on board shows by the Headliners were amazing and they were a real credit to not only themselves but also P&O. All in all we had a wonderful 12 nights on Ventura and would definitely cruise with P&O again. It was just the type of break we neeeed. Didn't think much of the canaries but loved Madeira and Lisbon. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
We chose P&O from family recommendations and Ventura as she was going to the Fjords at the right time for us. We also wanted to ensure we had lots of choice aboard ship as we hadn't cruised before and wanted to give ourselves ... Read More
We chose P&O from family recommendations and Ventura as she was going to the Fjords at the right time for us. We also wanted to ensure we had lots of choice aboard ship as we hadn't cruised before and wanted to give ourselves options for dining and entertainment. Embarkation was surprisingly quick, from leaving the car with the CPR rep to walking on board took less than half an hour. We were very lucky with the weather most of the week, but were glad of being allowed lots of luggage as we had to cover all options for Norway plus formalwear. The swift embarkation plus no luggage limit scores highly against flying to a holiday in my book. We enjoyed all the ports, however found Stavanger less interesting than the others. The drizzle that day may have had something to do with this of course and we did try to fill our time, visiting two museums. We usually did our own thing, heavily researched online beforehand, but did the tour to the Stave Church in Andalsnes, where we found the local guide on the bus very personable and knowledgeable. Onboard we found 99% of the staff were friendly and approachable. Service was usually excellent in all areas of the ship. The main dining room dinners ranged from OK to good (usually the latter); we also tried the silver service cream tea which was nice, plus had a good evening in Whites, where the service was fantastic (thought they could have done more with the decor). I can't comment on the refit as the ship is new to me, but my one gripe would be the public area toilets. Apart from the ridiculousness of having only two cubicles in the ladies loos nearest the enourmous theatre, many of the loo seats were stained/clearly old and really let the standard down. They were clean, no problems there, just didn't look great. The entertainment was great, a good mix (and of course not everything is for everyone). I enjoyed filling my time on the two seadays, though there were times when we would have appreciated a few more things aimed at the younger end of the market. I enjoyed the tribute acts more than I expected to, in fact we often gravitated to Havana in the evenings and watched the entertainment there. The video wall in Metropolis was broken for most of the week; we saw it doing Hong Kong but weren't overly impressed gven the hype around it. Enjoyed meeting other passengers, usually when it was necessary to share tables (eg at afternoon tea or sometimes when the buffet got full) and had a table for two for dinner. The first night I felt queasy eating in The Bay Tree as you can feel the vibrations underneath you, however I got used to it. Cabin (balcony) was a good size and the bed very comfy. On C Deck the balcony is twice the usual length and is partly shaded, so it's a good one to choose. All in all, I would go back. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
This short break was to accompany friends trying a first cruise. 5 days was long enough to get a feel for cruising - and to avoid the stag/hen parties on short breaks. Ventura was well presented, well maintained and with good service ... Read More
This short break was to accompany friends trying a first cruise. 5 days was long enough to get a feel for cruising - and to avoid the stag/hen parties on short breaks. Ventura was well presented, well maintained and with good service throughout. However, it is a large ship and could begin to feel crowded inside when the weather was poor. Embarkation was well organised - arriving at the dock gates to settling down to lunch took about one hour. The superior deluxe balcony cabin we had booked gave plenty of space to sit inside and was just adequate for four to share the balcony when the sun shone. Amsterdam was interesting for a first visit. We took an organised tour. The ship moors in a sufficiently central location for a walk into the city centre. The best way to see Amsterdam seems to be by water. We would spend more time on the canals if visiting again. To spread visits to Amsterdam and Guernsey across five days means that travel speeds are necessarily slow. There were two sea days and the weather was disappointingly cool and cloudy on these days. There was sufficient to keep ourselves occupied, but there was less invested in these days than has been our experience on previous, longer cruises. Guernsey required a trip ashore by tender. We enjoyed the time in St Peter Port, visiting Castle Cornet. Guernsey is now on our list of places to spend a little more time in order to see more of the island. We found the service on Ventura to be very good. Cabin, waiting and bar staff were friendly and would happily engage with you if you took the time to speak with them. Food was good if not exceptional. Our experience was that the Glass House offered a great option at a small price supplement, although the service here was slow. We didn't try the more expensive specialist restaurants. Having spent some time on Azura recently I found myself making comparisons between these two sister ships. The layout is essentially the same, with primary differences being the sea screen on Azura and the cover over one pool on Ventura. Decor was different, such that it was clear we were on a different ship. The captain and bridge crew on Azura brought far more homour - and more information - to their messages about where we were, what was going on, how things worked and what to expect of the weather. At first, I thought that the entertainment team on Azura had the edge, but there is probably little to choose - both were good. The cabin and waiting staff were friendly on both ships - but the experience felt different - perhaps Ventura had the edge. This short break attracted a wider age spectrum than we had experienced on longer cruises with P&O. However, there was still a pre-dominance of over 60s. This, together with the very British feel of the ship, clearly influences menu options and also the shows that are presented. There were moments where the shows seemed to be wallowing in nostalgia whilst failing to recognise that those of us alive in the 1960s have also experienced the 70s, 80s, 90s - and even the 21st Century! As a 60 year old I sometimes felt I wasn't old enough yet for P&O. There were no significant disappointments on this cruise - with the possible exception of the weather, which was better at home! If there is one thing I would want to improve then it would be the photo service which is still print based at a time when many of us may prefer a digital option. I don't want photos to frame but would be pleased to pay for some digital photos to include in a digital photo frame or to add to my own pictures in a photobook. This is an area where I consider P&O need to find their way into the 21st Century. Disembarkation at Southampton was the smoothest we have experienced. We left our cabin at 8.00 and were in the car driving home within 40 minutes. Our experience was that this was well organised and smoothly managed. Overall, five days was long enough to make a real break and, at getaway fares, was great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
We spent 5 days on Ventura, first time on this ship, we thought the staff were very friendly, the food was good and the service as always excellent.We dined in the Bay tree restaurant, the food was good and the service excellent.We also ... Read More
We spent 5 days on Ventura, first time on this ship, we thought the staff were very friendly, the food was good and the service as always excellent.We dined in the Bay tree restaurant, the food was good and the service excellent.We also dined in Marco Pierre White - White Room, this was awesome !!!!! Awesome food, Awesome service, thoroughly recommend this restaurant if you travel on this ship !!!My only bug bear of the trip was the failure of the dress code :( Guests on the ship on black tie night, arriving at the restaurant not in black tie, no sign of a tie !!! And on the casual night's, the attire was less than acceptable, far too casual, I personally think these should be addressed by P&O, and standards should be maintained!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Having just returned from a 2 week cruise round the med on Ventura have to say that unless I can get an absolute bargain we will not be sailing with P&O again. Went on Azura 2 years ago and was really wowed with the ship and had a ... Read More
Having just returned from a 2 week cruise round the med on Ventura have to say that unless I can get an absolute bargain we will not be sailing with P&O again. Went on Azura 2 years ago and was really wowed with the ship and had a great time. Complete opposite this time, the ship had had a make over but this was not very obvious until one of the other passengers explained to us about the addition of the single cabins and the retreat. We booked a getaway deal for a balcony cabin and were allocated a cabin on deck 12, the cabin was tired and really needed a makeover, the steward was spot on and the cabin was kept very clean. The cruise was for my 50th birthday and my husband ordered a dozen red roses to be delivered to the cabin on the day and they were absolutely beautiful. We ate in the Cinnamon restaurant and the food was of a good quality, always hot and plentiful, only had to wait for a table on one night. Tried the Beach Hut restaurant twice and that was excellent. Tried the buffet one night and that was not good, it was Thai night and to be honest I understood that they were themed buffets but assumed that there would have been something light to eat. But nothing appealed so settled on crackers and cheese but guess what they had no crackers so asked a waiter if he could get some more and he came back with a plate with 4 crackers on it !!!! there was an officer stood beside me when I was handed the plate and he could not believe it and asked the waiter to fill up the container but he refused. The entertainment was not up to the same standard as Royal Caribbean, if you could get a seat in the theatre or one of the bars where the entertainment was. Watched the first Headliners show and it was OK the second one was not much better and walked out of the third after five minutes so did not bother with any of the others. Peter Grant was superb, the Neil Diamond and Phil Collins acts were both very enjoyable. The cruise director was very noticeable by his absence we did not see him at any of the shows that we attended we heard his announcement in a morning and that was it. Very poor show by Hughie !!!!! We did notice on this cruise that cost cutting on the ports was very noticeable as the length of time in port seemed to have been reduced. When we tendered to Cannes we were lucky and got off the ship in a timely manner I believe that other passengers were asked not to come down and queue for tender tickets as 500 people were already there. 3 hours to get off for a couple that we met. We did have a trip booked to Monaco but this was cancelled by the ship and we were not informed and when I queried this at the excursion desk was told that I had been sent a letter the night previously to inform me of the cancellation which I had not. On querying this I was basically told not their problem the letter had been sent to house keeping to be delivered so it was out of their hands. Made a complaint to the tour manager who did not want to talk and basically told us to take it up with P&O on shore. We did enjoy ourselves but the holiday was marred by the number of rude and inconsiderate passengers, please note that this was commented on time and time again by other passengers and not just my observation. Unfortunately it was the older passengers who seemed to think that age means that they do not have to queue for lifts, say thank you when people move out of their way or hold back for them. We did meet some lovely people but have decided that maybe P&O is just not for us for at least another 20 years. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We are a couple in our late forties, and this May we abandoned our children for the first time (they *are* old enough before you worry) to take a somewhat belated 20th Anniversary break on a cruise liner. A four day break to Zeebrugge in ... Read More
We are a couple in our late forties, and this May we abandoned our children for the first time (they *are* old enough before you worry) to take a somewhat belated 20th Anniversary break on a cruise liner. A four day break to Zeebrugge in Belgium and Guernsey.We've actually been considering this for years, it was seriously mooted for our honeymoon, but we've never really got round to it before. We chose P&O based on a mixture of recommendations, reading, and where we (or to be more precise, the missus) fancied going.We arrived early at Southampton, despite it being a bank holiday. We arranged to book with CPS who handle the parking for that port. Sadly, this was a complete shambles on both entry and exit (see later for exit)On entry, we were fed into a "loop" near the checkin area where they pick up your bags and drive your car off. There were many cars waiting to be checked in, we waited about an hour and a quarter. I spoke to one of the security men who was getting worried because they simply didn't have enough space to put any further cars if any more turned up. In his view (and he was right as far as I could see) the delay was due to undermanning by CPS - there were several 'check in' lanes but only one was in operation and could handle about a dozen cars at once, each taking maybe five minutes. This was hugely unimpressive but we didn't mind too much because it was a nice day.When we actually got to offload this was done very well. We progressed to the terminal building to a far more efficient system run by P+O where they checked tickets, took photographs and credit cards and so on. This took no time at all, but we then went to another long queue caused, I think, by the Port Authorities not employing enough staff where they checked the baggage. Then, finally, we got on the boat and headed for our cabin.We had booked an outside cabin with a balcony on Deck A. It was spacious (more than expected) and clean - there was a large double bed, a TV showing assorted cable-type shows and an information channel, a seperate bathroom and the balcony. We also had a fridge which was filled with the drinks we had brought on board (including a bottle of Champagne the missus had sneaked on)One of the cases was not ours - it belonged to the deck below. We brought this to the attention of the steward (ess ? she was female) and it was taken away. Ten minutes later it was back :) despite being clearly labelled.Staff overall were excellent though throughout, nothing was too much trouble. Most of the staff were Indian, from the Goa area I understand. Our fellow Passengers were also very pleasant. Whether we were lucky, or this is a function of the holiday I do not know, but we spoke with a cross section of ages and social classes over the break (if you know what I mean !) and everyone was very friendly. Didn't see any 'hen party' behaviour at all.The first thing we went to was the raffle for free treatments at the Spa, obviously a loss leader to get people in. Whilst the girls doing the work were excellent, I didn't like its hard sell mentality at all. I was able to hear the manager tell the girls to stand near the exits to give passengers a tour as they exited (most people left after the raffle) and we were asked to stand, for a contrived reason, in cabin floor groups. The cynic in me says this is a handy way of grouping people by finances. The missus did have a massage and said it was very good, but it was expensive, probably a 30% markup unlike the rest of the ship where prices for drinks etc. were about par.We had all our dinners in the Bay View restaurant, club dining, just a table for two though we did chat with the couple on the table next to us. Service was generally excellent, and there was no push towards expensive wines - I don't drink much wine and the missus just drinks a glass or two a night, so we only used two bottles in four days, which was reasonably priced. The food was well presented. Portions were on the small side but there were several courses and we always felt full when we left.We went to the first two of the four main performances in the Arena theatre. The first night the show was a performance of 70s classics (the missus is slighly younger than me, mistaking Suzi Quatro for Blondie - possible grounds for divorce) and was done by the resident song and dance group. It was great fun, lasting about 45 minutes or so with no interval. The second show was a Take That tribute band who were pretty good. I enjoyed it even though I only recognised about half the songs. The third night was the resident theatre group again doing songs from the musicals, and the last night was a comic. There were usually a couple of other performances going on elsewhere, we saw an Annie Lennox tribute, there was a Johnny Cash tribute, an impressionist and two chaps who sang with a piano, and a couple of house singers who appeared at odd times.We slept well. One thing that we didn't suffer from was noisy announcements, these only came though if you had the information channel on.In the morning, just, we went to the Breakfast buffet which was pretty good, a mixture of continental, fruit and English fry up. This was the source of one of the very few complaints I had - the orange juice was frequently watery. It's a sign of how much we enjoyed the cruise that the 'complaints' are pretty trivial.We went to Bruges on Day 2, taking a half day trip. We took the official excursion even though there were options such as the train or taxis, simply because we were cruise rookies. We disembarked (no passports were checked in Zeebrugge or Guernsey) onto a coach. We had a rather eccentric guide who didn't like the Germans very much telling a story of a hotel the Belgians built, then the Germans came in and destroyed it in 1914-18, the Belgians then restored it only for the Germans to destroy it again in 1939-45. Fortunately we didn't have any German passengers :) Bruges we enjoyed, especially the ride round in the horse drawn cab which isn't cheap (and apparently the boat trip is well worth it). Coming back, it chucked it down and we got soaked. There was confusion about a potential missing passenger. Why they didn't keep a list of who was on what coach I do not know. But the organised excursion was pretty well organised.Wednesday was a sea day. This is my other P&O complaint, which might be a function of the trip type. There was plenty going on in the evening, in fact if we did it again we would change to an early dining shift so we could experience more. In the day time there was less going on. Wednesday I thought would be more representative. Discounting childrens activities there were a couple of quizzes, one dance activity (line dancing, the only dancing lesson of any sort all trip), a film (not brand new but recent - Skyfall was on for example). There was one 'lecture' which was about a fellow's time in school (I think, we missed it)Many of the activities documented in Horizon appeared to be the Spa running sales spiels "come and learn all about Acupuncture (and we can flog you a session)" during the day. I was rather disappointed to be honest, but having said that we didn't get bored. I went to a cricket session - got picked last in teams (I am podgy and nearly 50) but I can still bowl fairly sharpish, though my back and shoulders regretted it the next day :)The missus had a massage in the morning and a yoga session in the evening at the Spa and said it was very well done. Good thing considering the price and by this time I just didn't like the people who ran it (not the actual staff themselves)We tried the in cabin service on Wednesday - you can order food through the TV, and this came pretty rapidly - you could order sandwiches and so on for free, drinks (paid, obviously) plus some food was charged (Burger + Chips was Â(EURO)3.50)Wednesday night was also the formal night. We got dressed up in our finery (less so in my case) and there were several people taking photographs in various settings throughout the ship. There was one photographer (David I think) who is quite a diminutive fellow but managed to take a decent set of photos of me, which means the man is a genius. Photos retailed throughout at 10 or formal night photos were 16 (to be fair they were slightly larger). There were regular photo sessions - you had the opportunity at meal time etc., but the photographers were not pushy. We didn't go to the Wednesday show partly because we were slightly late for dinner but mainly because we were slightly smashed.Thursday was Guernsey day. You have to go to Guernsey on the lifeboats/shuttles so there was a ticket system and a long queue. Not ideal but well enough done given the limitations, especially as the weather was borderline. We got plenty of time in St Peters Port. We had planned to visit the Underground Hospital but looking at the bus timetables we decided not to. In retrospect, we would book the trip for Guernsey (which helped with the disembarking) and planned ourselves for the far more ad hoc trip to Bruges. But you live and learn.Thursday we also sampled afternoon tea, and lunch for the only time. Lunch was an alternative of a cut down meal or an assortment of fillers, Afternoon tea was sandwiches and cakes, crumpets and teacakes.As time progressed the prices in the shops dropped, though they never were ridiculous. Apart from the Spa prices were pretty close to normal, no great deals though as promised, tax free cancelling out the mark up. The missus did buy a handbag and checked prices afterwards, it was slightly less than the RRP.On our last day we had a formal breakfast which was very similar to the buffet (slightly extended) but with waiter service. We had sent our cases ahead and got up early for breakfast (most days we weren't early enough for the formal breakfast !). Disembarkation started with those who had kept their cases, then everyone else, we decided to sit and have a drink and wait for the queue to die down, we don't live that far away from the port.In retrospect we would probably keep our cases and get off as early as possible. So, having waited to disembark though our own choice, we went to collect the keys, which was done rather efficiently, and then we found our car easily enough. Then it ground to a complete halt. The reason for this was all the cars went out through the same one track road past two people in Hi-Viz jackets on different junctions who didn't seem aware that there was half a dozen cars in one direction, and hundreds in the other. We were stuck in the queue, frequently not moving for ten minutes at a time for about 90 minutes. Amazingly there were no fights and no shunts.It is rather disappointing. The cruise itself was great but it was spoiled by the parking at the beginning and end - not P&O's fault at all. If (as is likely) we go again I will try the offsite parking with minibus transfer or possibly parking elsewhere in Southampton, because however bad they are they couldn't be worse.Overall though we really enjoyed it. The negatives are almost exclusively about the car parking at either end. We will do it again, I'm sure, and would certainly consider P&O again. The weather was erratic which meant the balcony wasn't used much, and I had concerns about the standards of the daytime entertainment which might be problematical on a cruise with more sea days. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
On arrival at Ocean Terminal I asked for wheelchair assistance from one of the lovely helpful gentlemen, he took me directly into the terminal & booked me in to receive my cruise card. i was then taken onboard & up to the buffet ... Read More
On arrival at Ocean Terminal I asked for wheelchair assistance from one of the lovely helpful gentlemen, he took me directly into the terminal & booked me in to receive my cruise card. i was then taken onboard & up to the buffet area to await my friend. Incredibly efficient.My Deluxe cabin was wonderful, even bigger than I had expected. A decent sized bathroom with bath + shower; large bath sheets, face cloth & toiletries. There was a dressing area with plenty hanging space & generous sized soft robes. There is a small safe inside the mirrored wardrobe, along with shelf space. My suitcase arrived outside my room by about 3pm, about the same time my friend arrived, this was her first cruise & she was also delighted with the accommodation.This is the first cruise ship I have been on with tea & coffee facilities, including mugs, just lovely touch & appreciated. Our room steward, Morris, introduced himself to me as soon as I arrived in the cabin & was extremely polite, friendly & helpful. I had asked for a feather pillow & an extra blanket but they were not in the room, Morris managed to provide these while we were at dinner.We were allocated Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon restaurant, a new experience for me & we both really enjoyed dining this way, meeting new people each evening & sitting in different parts of the restaurant. There was plenty choice on the menu & food was well presented, there always seemed to be plenty staff around and they worked really hard. We were always offered a large glass of cold water as soon as we sat at the table. Wine waiters would arrive soon after we sat down & everything was well organised. I have particular dietary issues & the ever helpful Joy, Senior Waiter, in Cinnamon, ensured that my needs were met. each evening he would provide me with the following days menu & later discuss any changes I might need. This was done very discreetly & I was never made to feel awkward. One of the first things I did was to fill in a form at reception to withhold tips, choosing to tip staff at my choosing, this way i ended up spending more but I gave to those who made my experience better, including restaurant staff & room steward.The ship had a lovely feel about it, a mix of traditional, stairways & lift areas but also modern, in the atrium. Being Whitsun, there were a lot of families with children aboard & they were all well behaved. The only place one was really aware of them en masse was around the pool areas which we tended to avoid. Not that I was hungry but I tried afternoon tea in Saffron, goodness this was a full on affair. i joined a family & we were offered plenty hot tea, selection of sandwiches, muffins, toasted teacakes, warm scones + jam & cream. In addition to all this there were tiers of cakes on a stand. The children had a bit of everything but I only managed tea & the toasted tea cake. glad to have tried it but I decided it was just too much. We had room service breakfast once but thereafter ate upstairs from the generous buffet in the Waterfront restaurant. Despite the ship being so big & about 3,000 guests we never felt crowded & often wondered where everyone else was. I was disappointed with the library, it was rather small & only4 or 5 chairs to sit on. One was able to pick up a free daily crossword & sudoku from the library, a very brief daily news was also available in the atrium area near the Costa coffee bar. There were a few shops as always. I thought the choice of daily extra sale stands offered rather a poor standard of merchandise compared to other ships I have been on (Cunard & Holland America). We appreciated the shuttle buses as we did our own thing in ports rather than taking one of the fairly pricey organised excursions. The local bus from Brankenburg to Brugge took about 20 mins & was only â,¬5.80 for 2 of us one way. Brugge was lovely, a sort of medieval feel to it. Large lovely old tall buildings, a large central square, plenty of cafe/bars & horse drawn carriages. We had a beer & a coffee at one of the prominent cafes in the square. As I was short on energy we did not do Brugges justice, other guests who took a canal trip said it was good value at about â,¬9 each. We walked to the station, about 15 mins from the centre, through a park. The lovely clean double decker train only cost us â,¬6 for both of us back to Brankenburg where we got on the shuttle bus. We were back on board for a late sit down lunch in Saffron. I would like to return to Brugge. Our sea day was a lovely relaxing excuse to do nothing, along lie & then a meander around the ship. Although there were some activities on offer none of them appealed. A craft session would have been appreciated. I had a Fire & Ice pedicure, 60 mins. It was very pleasant & included a cooling gel, hot stones, exfoliation, massage & nails varnished. It did feel rather impersonal but the girls work a very long day. It cost 45 which was ok but I did not like that they automatically added 10% service charge - this meant I did not then leave a personal tip to my therapist. The sea was very choppy when we arrived at Guernsey where tenders were needed to get ashore. A lot of folk were wanting ashore & the waiting area was very busy, at one stage they stopped handing out tickets for tenders as the weather took a turn for the worse. We did get on a tender, it was definitely choppy but nothing awful. St Peter's Port was overcast, a bit cold & threatening to rain. We opted for the local bus that I had sourced pre cruise, it went all the way round the island from the town's bus station. Although buses generally only go once an hour, they put on extra buses as the cruise ship was in. 2 took us all the way around the island on a journey that took about 1 hour 20 mins - what a bargain. If you wanted to "get on get off" it cost the princely sum of 4.50. Guernsey was rather boring but this is maybe an unfair judgement as we did not get off at any of the tourist spots - you would have needed to take a ship's tour to make the most of this 24 square mile island. Again, we were back onboard for a late lunch & relaxing aft.Our only Formal night was on our sea day & 99% of guests made a real effort which was lovely, it made for a good atmosphere around the ship. Disembarking was efficient although mine was done through the mobility section & not the same experience as others. My friend chose to take her own case ashore & this worked well, I met up with her in the Ocean Terminal entrance while she waited for her Eavesway coach & me for my lift. I was surprised to see people arriving to get aboard on the next short cruise while we were still getting off! All in all a wonderful time, really relaxing, lovely escape from reality & great value. My first but not last time on P&O. 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Sail Date: May 2013
I have wanted to go on a cruise for as long as I can remember but have never had the opportunity before so when a fabulous offer price coincided with half term ( I work in a school) and my mother in law offered to have the kids, it was too ... Read More
I have wanted to go on a cruise for as long as I can remember but have never had the opportunity before so when a fabulous offer price coincided with half term ( I work in a school) and my mother in law offered to have the kids, it was too good an opportunity to turn down. I was a little concerned before we went as the price seemed very low for what was included and I thought the ship might be over run with kids as it was half term. Having decided to leave ours at home I didn't really want to spend the 5 days getting irritated by other peoples children. However I couldn't have been more wrong. Although there were apparently 600 children on board I didn't really notice and the children we did encounter were incredibly well behaved and polite. I half wished we had taken ours along too as the facilities for children seemed excellent.Embarkation was incredibly smooth. We had paid for port parking with CPS and were very impressed with this service. We had to wait approximately 30 mins in a queueing system before we were processed. This was very efficient. Once you get out of your car your cases are whisked off in one direction and your car in another. It's then a few paces into the terminal where you wait to be issued with your cruise card. We couldn't fault this process at all.We got on board about 3pm and were able to go straight to our cabin which was located on B deck (level 11) and had a balcony. It was very spacious and had a fridge and tea and coffee making facilities.We had asked for 1st sitting club dining but were in fact giving 2nd sitting in the Saffron restaurant. The disadvantage of this was that we could only see one show in the evenings as they seemed to run two slots 8:30 and 10:30 when all the shows rotated. An earlier sitting would mean you could take fuller advantage of all the entertainment. However eating later meant that we could skip lunch and have afternoon tea (at 3:30) then not feel too full for dinner. We did this on both of our port days when we left the ship at around 10am and arrived back before 3pm.The restaurant staff were incredibly helpful. My husband has several food intolerances and they were great at adapting the food for him. We thought he might have quite restricted choice but in fact they were happy to adapt anything he choose from the menu. He was giving the lunch and dinner menus the night before and choose in advance. They even made sure that there were specially adapted cakes and sandwiches available every afternoon for afternoon tea whether we went or not. Because of my husbands dietary requirements we didn't try any of the other restaurants. We were more than happy with the saffron. We were sat on a table for 7 at dinner, this was great as you got to know some of your fellow passengers quite well and could swap stories of your day each evening. We were sat with similarly aged people and discovered on the last night that we all came from the Coventry area, spooky.Bruges was a joy. Being cruise novices we weren't sure whether to book excursions or not but after a little research decided to 'do it ourselves'. It was so easy (& cheap). A free shuttle bus was provided to the local town of Blakenburg. From there it was a 10 minutes train ride, trains are 1 an hour and it cost 5.60E return. Bruge train station is about a 15 minute walk from the market square but it is a lovely walk and there is so much to see on the way. I would very much like to go back to Bruge. People told us the canal boat trip is well worth doing. We just had a lovely wander round in the unexpected sunshine, ate waffles and bought chocolates, delicious. Getting back to the boat was equally easy and we returned in time for afternoon tea.Our sea day was gloriously sunny so we shunned the talks, movies and other entertainment in preference of sitting in the sun and reading. There were lots of waiting staff around on deck ready to take your drinks orders, my criticism of this would be that if you just want the free tea, coffee and water you need to walk down to the beachside and waterside restaurants at the back of the boat. It would have been useful to have more places where you could get water, particularly on hot days. Our experience of bar waiting staff was that they were very efficient and returned relatively quickly with your drinks order.I thought the entertainment was good, I don't think it's what you get if you were to go to the west end but it was very entertaining and there was a good variety. We saw one show in the theatre and a comedian in Havana and well as various singers in bars around the ship.One of the nicest aspects of the cruise was meeting lots of different people at meals and in the bars. It felt like a very social way of holidaying. I wouldn't have any reservations in asking to be sat on a large table again and people we met who had dined alone said they wished they'd asked for a larger table.It was a bit overcast in Guernsey. We had to wait about 30 mins for our tender and left the ship about 10am. Crossing was a little choppy but not too bad. We just went to the occupation museum in St Peter Port and then had a wander around town. If I went again I might do the round Guernsey bus. I think Guernsey would be better enjoyed in the sunshine. Didn't have to wait to get back on the boat just walked straight onto a tender and left.We talked to a few people about disembarkation on the boat and decided as we didn't have much luggage the best thing to do would be to do it ourselves. This was incredibly easy. We walked straight off at 7:45, picked up our car key and drove straight out of the port with no queues. Definitely the easy stress free option. We were home (in Cambridge) by 10am.Obviously as a first timer I have nothing to compare our cruise to but we thoroughly enjoyed it and would not hesitate to book another with P&O Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
My wife and I had a wonderful first time trip on-board the Ventura from the 7th to the 14th April 2013. Overall, we were extremely pleased with the ship and staff and truthfully, could not find much to complain about. We were pleasantly ... Read More
My wife and I had a wonderful first time trip on-board the Ventura from the 7th to the 14th April 2013. Overall, we were extremely pleased with the ship and staff and truthfully, could not find much to complain about. We were pleasantly surprised that the holiday was so good and this was in part because we had been unnerved by some of the reviews we had read from other passengers and so expected the worst. That is not to say that other reviewers did not have valid points or that they had in any way fabricated their complaints or grievances. However, I think we paid too much attention to some reviews which unfortunately negatively influenced us before we had even set foot aboard Ventura. In brief, here is our summary of our trip: 1. Embarkation -- we were astounded at how smoothly this process was! Before we knew what was going on, our baggage had been whisked away and our car driven off. We had been 'processed' and were on-board the ship having lunch within an hour. Very well done. Disembarkation was equally smooth (although we heard several passengers grumbling about delays). 2. The ship, having just been refurbished was very clean and orderly. All the public spaces were well attended and our cabin (inside, forward) was well appointed and clean. There was a very noticeable 'new carpet smell' in the corridors and it was apparent that much cleaning / paining / varnishing had taken place. No complaints. 3. Food. Overall, really good quality throughout. We had fixed dining (late) in the Cinnamon restaurant and we felt that the food and service was impeccable. No waiting. The buffet restaurant served good food -- however, it was like 'whacky races' at times trying to get your meal whilst navigating through the crowds. We don't feel that the food service area was anywhere near big enough to accommodate the throughput of diners carrying trays. Additionally (and this is something that P&O officials might like to take notice of), the ship really needs to get rid of so many large tables and bring in MANY MORE tables for two / four. It was difficult to find a table - and when you did, it was usual for one person to 'guard it' whilst the other selected their meal. Often, if a couple sat at a table for eight for example, they jealously protected their space and made it clear that other diners were not welcome to share (even families). Unbelievably, on one occasion, a man approached my wife declaring that the table was his. My wife replied that there was no-one sitting there when she arrived - to which he proclaimed that he had left a glass on the table to mark his territory! A solitary, dirty glass - enough said! Afternoon tea was something we looked forward to. However, it was frequently 'spoiled' by people almost stampeding into the restaurant, in the desperate hope of being able to sit at a table for the exact number of diners in their party. We had the impression that people were not happy to be sat with strangers. 4. Public areas. All areas were generally well kept with plenty of waiters. Some were friendlier than others though. Drinks were 'pushed' a lot, although the service was efficient if you wanted a drink. When we began the cruise, there seemed to be a mad scramble for the crew to get your attention. For example, promoting wine drinks packages or Spa therapy sessions. We did not find this overwhelming; however, it could have put some passengers off. For the rest of the ships amenities, we really enjoyed the gym and used it daily (not that we are fitness fanatics!). Because of the poor weather, we did not go on deck a great deal and so did not use the pools (plenty of kids seemed to enjoy though!). Cannot comment about the sun loungers as we did not use. 5. Entertainment. As a couple in our forties, we found this to be 'mixed'. On the one hand, the two big shows in the Arena were splendid (this is the type of thing we had experienced on other ships every night of the voyage) however, as mentioned, there were only two on the Ventura and we would have loved more. There were a number of singers such as a Phil Collins tribute and also a big band music singer. Very competent, but 'not our scene'. Additionally, there was a comedian on offer who again was competent, but perhaps who appealed to (dare I say it) the older passengers. P & O cannot please everyone and so we cannot reasonably condemn them for entertainment that did not live up to our personal expectations. 6. Ports of call. We enjoyed La Coruna and Vigo. Very easy to explore straight from the ship. Lisbon at first could put people off as there was a lot of graffiti. However, once you have 'acclimatised' to the city, it was safe and interesting. Oporto was abandoned as the sea conditions were too rough to dock. 7. Lastly, tipping. From talking to other cruisers on Ventura, we can see that this is a vexed subject. One or two people were indignant when money was taken and appeared on their on-board account (I think we paid about £50 per couple for the 7 days). P & O say they take this money to be distributed throughout all the crew -- not just those with public facing roles such as the waiters (by default, we cannot distribute tips to crew that we haven't seen). On the one hand, we understand this. However, we think the crux of the problem is that many of us like to be given the choice whom to tip and not to have this choice made for us by the holiday company. One comment we heard frequently was that P & O should pay all crew a decent wage so that passengers should not have to subsidise them as the cruise was expensive enough. We are in two minds about that. Anyway, we paid the automatic gratuity added to our on-board account -- and also tipped extra to the wine waitress, the servers in the restaurant and of course the cabin steward. My wife and I could not walk away without leaving a small token. Would we go on a P & O cruise again? Yes, without doubt. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. Within minutes our bags were taken from us and due to mobility was amazed, taken straight to checkin desk and within 15 minutes we were standing in our cabin C431 a twin with shower and balcony. We decided to leave the unpacking till after we had a walk around the ship. What a lady, Ventura had just come back from having her refit. Atrium was bright and airy. Onboard shops were easy to find, walk around and noone jumped on you as soon as you entered the shop ( one of my pet hates. We found most of the places for Dining, the Orangery was already very busy. We had booked with the knowledge we would be given a dining time and table on reaching our cabin. We were on MDR 2nd sitting in Saffron. And so we set sail. We missed the sail away party as we were unpacking. Our cabin was spacious and we had everything we needed. Our cabin steward Winston, was fantastic once we had told him we were first time cruisers. Our nights on board were 2 Black tie. 2 smart casual and 3 casual. We loved the thought of getting dressed for dinner. The meals were very good, waiters very experienced and helpful. We had no issues with the food and rarely ate lunch as we either on an excursion or had a light snack in the Orangery. Eating in the orangery was a little ruff as the few times we ate there reminded us of school caffateria. We ate in the White room one evening, and both the food and the staff were lovely. We had pre-booked 3 excursions as the last one was full, but we were told via the excursion team, we had seats for the Flam railway. Our ports of call in the Norwegian Fjords were Stavanger. Flam, Olden and Bergen. What wonderful sights, to stand on the pier without a coat on to looking up to snow capped Mountains. Excursion were very good. One or two "Eek" moments on the coach going up the mountain on very narrow roads, I swear at one point some of the coach was hanging over a 70mtre drop. On the whole we really enjoyed our excursions. The entertainment was fair as I had been expecting full scenery, lighting and Broadway show so I was a little disappointed with the shows, however we saw the Chapman Brothers twice, only one we liked. There were children on the cruise and most were very polite and courteous, mind u is till cannot understand young, fit children who take the lift to go up or down one floor!!! Overall we were very impressed with the service. Staff very very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed it so much we have recently returned from a 14 night Baltic cruise on the Aurora, but that's another tale. Well done all the staff on Ventura for its them that make or break a cruise Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed ... Read More
Well I have just returned from my first ever cruise, and I have to say in the main I loved it. Even with a very rough crossing across BOB Car Parking Smooth and quick. We joined a queue, waited around 10 minutes before being directed to front of terminal where our cases were loaded onto a trolley and whisked away, the car was then whisked away in the opposite direction Embarkation Very smooth and quick. Arrived at the Terminal at 12.10pm and we were in our cabin by 1.00pm. Airports could learn a thing or two. We went for a wander around the ship for about an hour and on returning to the cabin our cases had been delivered. We found our way around the ship pretty easily within first couple of days. If you get lost go to Deck 7 - as you can get anywhere from there. Cabin - we had a Superior Deluxe Balcony on Desk 9 Aft. Have to say I chose this location even though Mid cabins were available, as we were close to most things (All the restaurants are Aft, as is The White Room, Metropolis Bar and Havana. The cabin was a good size, perfectly fine for 2 Adults and a Tall Teenager, we could have had one more in fairly easily. Balcony on D desk is overlooked from above but tbh this did not bother us Good wardrobe space. Comfy beds Our Steward Diogo looked after us beautifully Food/Drinks I have to say it was excellent. I have a few negatives to comment on but they are because Daughter is a insulin dependant diabetic and a Coeliac so we are have additional needs to most. And P&O were streets ahead of most places on offering GF so I do not in anyway want to put people off, just to be aware there were a few areas which could still be improved on for those with special requirements Dinner was superb for her. We did Club Dining as I knew have the same waiters each night would be helpful for our daughter. Every night Sangay the head waiter would present our daughter with the menu for the following day, she was able to choose ANYTHING* from the menu and it was adapted to be suitable for her to eat. And they bought her freshly baked GF rolls every night * - they could not however offer GF pasta which I thought was very strange as this is one of the easiest alternatives to offer Breakfast plenty of fruit, eggs, bacon, has browns and Gluten Free Bread. Small negative here were no Gluten Free Cereal on offer at all, it would also have been nice to see some GF sausages. You could however arrange GF pancakes with your waiter the night before. And for those Gluten eaters there were waffles etc on offer too We ate in the Bay Tree most mornings - as was nice to be relaxed with Table service, we generally got a table for 3, but on one occasion we were asked to join another party of 3 on a larger table, we had no issue with this but the woman at the table was so do rude about having to share a table that we asked to be moved. We also did the buffet a few mornings and that was fine Lunch A little more problematic, although the chef would always take us through what she could or could not have from the Buffet but it was limited, and they did make sure there was a GF dessert should she want one. Afternoon Tea - pretty much a No No, do not get me wrong it was lovely. Lots of little cakes, fresh scones etc. But almost nothing she could have at all. They have an on board bakery so a selection of GF cakes/scones would have been nice It could also be a little difficult getting a table for Lunch/Afternoon Tea, the use both Waterside and The Beach restaurants but it got confusing as they seem to close one half of the each restaurant at different points so you'd switch back and forth. Pizza/Burger/Hotdog Bar at the Laguna Pool - nothing suitable in GF The White Room - had a beautiful meal here. We only heard good things from everyone else who ate there as well. for the GF they just asked us to go up the following day and pick her meal, which was excellent. But be warned it gets booked v v quickly. None of the above was a huge issue, she always found something. But still some improvements could be made Drinks packages are a good idea for the kids. We paid £42.50 upfront for a drinks/ice cream card which entitled us to 20 (Large) soft drinks and 20 ice creams. We should also have got a free drinks bottle - but not one of the bars seem to have them, small issue but would have be nice for them to actually stock the bottles Alcohol - found this to be on par with most pubs here at home. Small Tip, buy a separate coke/lemonade for your mixer and just order your spirit, worked out better value as the soft drinks are in large glasses, where the mixer is a small can.We are not big drinkers but P&O do allow you to take some alcohol on board. We took a bottle of Malt and a few beers to enjoy on the balcony. Ports of call As mentioned our crossings was quite rough, with a few people suffering seaksickness - we took tablets each day and seemed to be OK though We did not do any excursions as we'd already researched and knew we could easily get into the towns from Port. However, we did not stop at Oporto because of bad weather - again did not spoil cruise as we spent day at Sea where the weather was lovely Entertainment In the main very good. One comedian who was not to my taste. But very good singers - Jayne Curry particularly excellent. Phil Collins Tribute, Rob Lewis also excellent. And a young man singing Big band hits/swing who again was excellent. Headliners, the on board company, did an excellent show Bars - you have a choice of everything from a "pub" - The Exchange. To the Bar Metropolis on Deck 19 (our personal favorite) Kids - very very well catered for. Over 700 on board and it never seemed like it. Did not see my Teen much at all, she went to Teen club on first night. made friends and was off. Great for me with my daughters medical needs, was they gave us a pager so that if she needed attention, they were able to contact us easily. Yes there were some kids being "badly behaved" But you get this everywhere and remember this is a family ship - noone should be complaining about children being on board. If you do not want kids around then go out of School Holidays, or to one of the Adult only ships Dress Codes - in the main this was adhered to. Was lovely to see the vast majority of people in their formal wear for the 2 nights - even most of the children. There were a few who chose not to follow the dress code, which was fine, but they stuck out more and were unable to use some of the bars that night. Staff for me these were the Highlight of the cruise. Kat, Rob and Jamie from the entertainment team were excellent Diogo our Steward was also excellent Prodip and Sangay our head waiters - simply superb Sohail and Arun our dinner waiters, were simply outstanding And Godip our wine waiter was just the best. A lot of the staff are employed out of Mumbai or Goa and they could totally teach staff in the UK a think or two about service with a smile. They work incredibly long hours, and yet still always found the time to be pleasant. The other Negative was I booked this cruise as Marco Pierre White was supposed to be on board to do some talks. Well he never turned up, and despite repeatedly asking, no-one could explain why. In fact most staff seemed to be oblivious to the fact he was supposed to be on board - so for me this was very very disappointing. We were however lucky enough to have Rachel Allen the well known Irish cook/baker on board. She gave a lovely talk, and also signed copies of her book for us all So I really enjoyed by first cruise, would any of the negatives stop me returning... No.......... I just would not booked a cruise to see M.P.W. again !! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Arrived in Southampton for my 1st Cruise and was just a little apprehensive. We were dealt with quickly and efficiently on check in and within an hour of our arrival we were onboard. The first impression of this huge ship was WOW! The ... Read More
Arrived in Southampton for my 1st Cruise and was just a little apprehensive. We were dealt with quickly and efficiently on check in and within an hour of our arrival we were onboard. The first impression of this huge ship was WOW! The staff onboard were attentive and welcoming and we made our way to the cabin we were allocated (last minute booking at an excellent price) B504 which was situated on deck 11 and was abalcony cabin on port side. This cabin was nicely furnished and presented and was very clean. It had a large hanging space with plenty of shelf storage and a small dressing area outside the shower room. All cabins have a safe which is free to use and once you have set your code you can store all valuables inside safely. Our Cabin steward, Cristo was excellent, very helpful and attentive making us animals from towels each evening when we returned to our cabin. The choice of places to eat are many and all food and choices are excellent to say the least. There are theme nights if you dont want to eat in your designated restaurant and everywhere we ate was faultless, In particular we ate in the Beach House restaurant (Back of ship) were admittance is limited so arrive there at 6.30pm to secure a place as the food is 1st class, some is with a small supplement but many items are at no additional cost.We ate there 3/4 times and our waiter Hamil was 1st class too even remembering on our return our likes and dislikes. I was very impressed as they were fully booked each night. The choice of entertainment is huge and there is something for everyone no matter what age you are. We had Rachel Allen onboard this trip and she held a question and answer session with signings of her new book. We never used the Spa which looked lovely but I personally felt it was a little expensive and they bombarded you with flyers as if desperate for you to go there. There was a well equipped Gym at the back of the spa, although I never used it many did. There are a few shops onboard, however, Duty free shop closed all trip and you had to make purchases ashore when you stopped. Costa Coffee shop service was appalling and the staffs attitude could be greatly improved no way anywhere near the level of service in the rest of the ship! Coffee with attitude served here, eventually!! We ordered on 1 occasion and were told *Too busy madam, come back a bit later*!!! Not impressed. Plenty of excursions in the ports but these too were expensive, however free shuttle buses to the shops much appreciated. All in all a fabulous 1st Cruise and would definitely do it again as soon as possible. Disembarkation...totally confusing with long delays. You book your choice of time at reception on ship a couple of nights before home and they notify you of where and when to go and be ready. We were packed into a bar for 45 minutes and kept being told we were delayed due to a bottle neck at the exit. Some people had flights to Scotland to get and were very distressed, nobody cared we were just told to wait. Eventually we all headed to the exit where there were no queues, no bottle necks and disembarked quickly without difficulty only to find in the luggage hall most of the luggage had been collected by passengers already left. So P and O you need to organise this better and it would be perfect! I would go again tomorrow and highly recommend it. Read Less
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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