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Sail Date: December 2011
Having booked my (girlfriend's first) second cruise on Ventura I was a little bit concerned with the negative reviews on this site. Most were posted after Mediterranean trips and I was pretty pleased to read a review from a traveller ... Read More
Having booked my (girlfriend's first) second cruise on Ventura I was a little bit concerned with the negative reviews on this site. Most were posted after Mediterranean trips and I was pretty pleased to read a review from a traveller who had just enjoyed one of Ventura's first Caribbean trips in the latter part of 2011. In it, the author spoke of snobbery from those who make the 'Butlins at sea' comments and I'd like to say that complete snobbery IS a huge factor here! First of all, the flight was an Airbus A320, Thomas Cook charter and had T.V.s, complimentary drinks and great legroom. We landed, got straight off the aircraft and onto buses for a 30 minute drive to Ventura. I walked on carrying a transparent duty free bag from Gatwick with two litres of Russia's finest. P&O really don't mind you bringing on your own! Our cabin was ready on arrival (around 13.30) and our luggage arrived around about 17.30. We chose set dining, eating at 18.30 most nights in the Bay Tree. The service and food were fantastic. We ate twice in The White Room (£20 supplement per person) and once in East (£15 supp.) which were both worthwhile, especially outdoor at the White Room. It looks down onto the small pool at the back of the ship. Ventura has several great pools, including one with a roof which opens and closes depending on the weather. All have a different area 'feel' to them so you'll find something for you. I do think that it's quite ironic that the Brits go on about the Germans with their towels on sunbeds though. On sea days you need to be up early as lots of (all Brits on this ship) people seem to put towels down early and, regardless of what they do throughout the day, leave the towels there. Get a life people!! The gym and spa are first class and the treatments very reasonably priced. We paid £60 to use the spa, thinking on our first day that this included use of the pool next to it. Turns out that the £60 is only to use the area downstairs. I wouldn't bother as most of it is various steam rooms and heated tiled beds. They actually have steam rooms just off the changing rooms upstairs anyway and the pool is for general use (as they all are). Service is great in all areas of the ship. I think that P&O's tipping policy is very fair so didn't feel uncomfortable with that. We paid the cabin steward and dining staff who were most grateful. We sometimes also gave tips to bar staff where deserved but unlike on a previous cruise on Norwegian Epic, I only once felt that anyone was overtly seeking tips. Drinks prices are reasonable enough with a great choice. There is a good selection of bar areas with variety and the entertainment was pretty good (not really my thing so can't be too enthusiastic!) but I think my only real criticism of our experience on Ventura is that despite there being a significant amount of guests in their teens, twenties, thirties and forties there was no bar area which catered to those looking for a wee bit more action! Actually, it's not fair to discriminate on age at all but what I mean is there is no club type environment anywhere on board. All of the bars are too generic with quizzes, karaoke, comedians etc etc and while this is great and appeals to all, it would be nice to see an area with a slightly more urban vibe! Can I suggest that the pool at the rear of the ship would be great at night with a DJ playing some nice tunes! There is a laundrette on most floors where you can wash, dry and iron free of charge (you need to pay about 50p for powder!) so save some room in the case by not having so many clothes for some Rum! As for destinations, we are not best to review these. We did no excursions and only wanted a nice beach or some snorkeling. These are easy to find! If you want to do some shopping, save your dollars for St Martin where you will find the cheapest booze, cigarettes and jewellery. By the way, if you're in the market for a Breitling, Rolex or something similar... You'll get one online in UK for about the same price (about a third less that RRP) We got delayed 26 hours coming home but that's another story! I can't think of anything else to say except that don't listen to these 'Butlins At Sea' reviews. As the review which I read before I travelled said, they are obviously written by Cunard customers. So please..... stay with them!! As for the open minded, grounded majority.... you will love Ventura I'm sure! Finally, my girlfriend (fiance' from St Martin onwards) insisted that I gave a special mention to Anthony, one of the photographers. We purchased several images which were first class. His were so good that we had to find him each night so she could get more pictures done in every outfit! Thanks mate! I think Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first cruise and had been booked 18 months in advance, so we had had plenty of opportunities to research our chosen ship and read lots of reviews, some of which were great and some not so good. So our cruise has finally ... Read More
This was our first cruise and had been booked 18 months in advance, so we had had plenty of opportunities to research our chosen ship and read lots of reviews, some of which were great and some not so good. So our cruise has finally come and gone and what did we think of the P&O Ventura?.....Wonderful, beautiful, amazing. We both found it very difficult to fault this lovely ship in any way, and thought the P&O experience and service in general was excellent. A very enjoyable flight with Thompson delivered us safely to Barbados, and the only unpleasant part of the trip followed, a very tedious and congested bus route to the dock itself followed by a VERY hot check in 'shed' Nic fainted in the heat but quickly recovered as we had our first view of Ventura, She is a very large ship and quite a sight when you see her for the first time. Accomadation:We had selected cabin E721 (Superior deluxe balcony CC) and we were not disappointed. A lovely spacious cabin with chocolates and champagne awaiting us..Nice, The suitcases arrived and then we were off to explore, I have never seen so many people looking lost at once, The ship is a maze of corridors, stairways and public spaces and we were still getting lost after a week on board. The mix of passengers was mainly over 50 with some 30-50 and a relatively small number of children (probably less than 100) Food: We had been looking forward to dining on board and can honestly say we never had a bad meal. We ate in the Bay Tree but later swopped to the Saffron to join some friends. The service from the largely Indian team was very good indeed and we were amazed at how the waiters would remember your favourite choice of bread or favourite wine choice. We also ate in THE WHITE ROOM on the evening of Nics birthday and this was a really lovely meal, the service was again very good, the only disappointment being that the outside terrace was closed due to light rain. The other speciality restaurant is EAST, an asian style restaurant and this was the biggest surprise of the cruise, The food was sensational, we loved every mouthfull, especially washed down with a nice bottle of Champagne. Dont be put off by the small cover charge for these restaurants as they are both very worthy of a visit. The buffet breakfast was excellent with wide variety and choice and there are several smaller snack bars around the ship to try, And of course you must not miss out on afternoon tea, sandwiches, crumpets, scones and lovely tea at 4pm each day if you had room for it. We also used room service several times for breakfast and it always arrived bang on time. Entertainment: Ventura is a family ship and very much aimed at the mass market, and this was reflected in the range of entertainment on board, from truly excellent stage productions to comedians, magicans and singers, there was something for everyone, If Kareoke in the pub wasnt your cup of tea, then a short stroll to the lovely Tamarind club would find the Orchestra and talented West End Singer (Anna Stolli)performing classic songs. We also enjoyed visiting the casino a few times and even managed to make a profit !! Nic enjoyed the Spa facilities on several occasions although they are fairly expensive and the bills can soon add up. Speaking of bills, the cashless system works well and is very convenient, and overall we were pleasantly surprised at the reasonable cost of drinks etc on board. We saved up for this trip for a long time and are very pleased to have brought a fair ammount home (a deposit for the next one maybe) Dressing up for formal nights was a great experience which we both enjoyed, although in the heat of the Caribbean four formal nights is enough, The only irritation I began to feel was the endless photograph opportunities, although we did spend £100 on a very nice souvenir album so I cant complain too much. In conclusion we thought Ventura was a wonderful ship and really could not fault her or her helpful staff in any way. This was backed up by the many many people we spoke to travelling on her for the fourth or fith time. So well done P&O and well done Thompson. I have deliberately avoided talking about the destinations we visited as we wanted to describe our experience of the ship itself, But there where nine Caribbean Islands (Missed Grand Turk due to being unable to dock) and the only one we did not like was Jamaica where we felt very threatened, pestered and intimidated by the locals. So if you are new to cruising give Ventura a try, you wont be disappointed Steve & Nicola Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out from M/C on Sat 3 Dec to Barbados without a hitch which is more than can be said for earlier flights on Fri and those from Gatwick who seemed to have major problems and delays. Embarkation was no problem at all and handled ... Read More
We flew out from M/C on Sat 3 Dec to Barbados without a hitch which is more than can be said for earlier flights on Fri and those from Gatwick who seemed to have major problems and delays. Embarkation was no problem at all and handled well. we didn't pre book seats and luckily my ife sat directly behind me so it wasn't a problem. Not sure its worth the £50 expense for the benefit Impressed with Ventura overall, although now showing a few rough edges to common areas. Balcony Stateroom was excellent in terms of quality and comfort. Sharon our steward was also very good and we got to know her quite well. Appears to be more bars, clubs, venues on board in comparison to say Celebrity Eclipse. Very good onboard drinks prices and like the fact prices are GBP without added tax etc. Overall v good entertainment - Headliners brilliant + Freddy Mercury tribute + Fogwell Flax as Sting +. Rest much of a muchness but still above working mens club standard. We chose freedom dining which was a great choice whether you wanted to share tables or be on a 2. We used White Room to celebrate wife's birthday....excellent. Also used Ramblas which was good but menu options a bit restrictive. Food quality and choice in main dining room very good but you had to be careful about combinations as sometimes you didn't get what you expected. Buffet breakfasts and lunch OK so slong as you could work out which restaurant was open when. Bit a bun fight due to high volume of diners on occasions especially port days..not to be unexpected. Biggest criticism was with passengers adopting typical sunshine/hotel mentality of sunbed booking at ridiculous times of the day. I'll swear towels were out at the crack of dawn on sea days with nobody in site other than a towel and a book. Hence not enough sunbeds or a quicker turnround of beds. By the end of the cruise you could see more and more passengers getting frustrated. Overall, brilliant experience and would have no hesitation on sailing with PO again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first cruise, and I don't think we could have had a better introduction. Our balcony cabin was on A (12) deck midships. It was very quiet and comfortable, and the steward kept it supplied with clean towels and tea and ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and I don't think we could have had a better introduction. Our balcony cabin was on A (12) deck midships. It was very quiet and comfortable, and the steward kept it supplied with clean towels and tea and biscuits. The balcony was great to relax on and watch the islands as we sailed away or to watch the sunset. It did not take long to get orientated on the ship. Its best to get to the right lifts before getting to the deck you want, and the carpets are colour coded for forward, midships and aft. We opted for freedom dining which worked well for getting to the shows. If you wanted to get seated straight away then you shared a table, otherwise there was a wait of no more than 30 mins to get a table for two. We also ate at the Beach House diner, Waterside buffet and Frankies grill. Breakfasts we had in Saffron,and we had room service twice. On every occasion the food was nice and service friendly. There are plenty of places to have a drink, so its down to what your preference is. We used the Metropolis most, as it was quiet and had good views. Prices are reasonable but cheap booze can be had at most ports of call. There was plenty of entertainment to pick from. We loved the Headliners shows, as did everyone. These were a medley of song and dance numbers with a different theme for seven shows. They received a much deserved standing ovation on the last night. We also saw an Elvis tribute act (a serious one, i.e. no sideburns or jumpsuit), and a cabaret singer, these were good too. Note: we always arrived early for these shows to get a good seat, this is where the freedom dining paid off. These were the shows we saw, but there was plenty of other things going on to suit all tastes, I think you would struggle to be bored on board. There are four pools to chose from, I used the one at the front near the spa. It was mostly quiet, and has a current that you can swim against. The main reason for doing this cruise was to sample several islands, rather than be confined to one, so we were apprehensive about the formal nights on sea days. We managed three out of four, the last one we went smart casual and ate at the Beach house diner and watched a show at the Havana. We've not made our minds up about the formal dress code, if we cruise again it would not be an important factor in our choice. Lastly the journey to the ship from Gatwick was fairly painless, as much as an 8 hour flight can be in cattle class. It was nice to get the luggage delivered to the cabin. Getting through security at the port was OK, especially as we bypassed the queue for the embarkation photo. However going home was a chore as the Thomas Cook flight was 2 hours late, then delayed a further 3 hours due to a technical fault. Still, better than some who had to be put in hotels overnight due to a cancelled flight. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as ... Read More
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as we got on board. Thomas Cook flight from Manchester was delayed for 2 hours due to Manchester Airport closing because of a 30 minute snow flurry (yes,this is the UK). Otherwise flight fine and we were on the ship by 4pm. We had a portside balcony cabin towards the aft and this suited us fine. Plenty of storage space, comfy beds and kept clean by our cabin steward, Freddie (although the carpet could have done with the vacuum edging tool being taken around the edges by the skirting - don't think this had been done since the ship was launched). Generally the ship was clean enough and to my knowledge no one got ill from the dreaded norovirus. However, carpets in the public areas are showing signs of wear and tear with raised edges just waiting to trip someone up. This was particularly noticeable on deck 7. Also 2 people to my knowledge slipped on the floor by the main pool - one breaking her arm 2 days from the end of the cruise. So beware if you are moving around in this area. We were freedom dining. This works very well for us and we never had to wait for a table as we were always prepared to share a table - usually 6 or 8 people. The food in the Cinnamon restaurant varied from excellent to dire but the vast majority of our meals were fine. Christmas dinner was excellent, New Year's Eve dinner not quite so good. Waiter service was brisk and usually friendly and they hardly ever forgot who was having which meal. There are some cut-backs, like the "always available list" has gone although you could still ask for a steak and get it - just that if it is not advertised people don't ask for it. Also vegetables seemed restricted unless you asked for more. We didn't starve anyway. We ate in The White Room twice which was excellent - on New Years Day the menu was fixed with the appropriate wine for each course. We ate in the Beach House Diner 3 times and it was always excellent and the service also excellent. We ate once in Ramblas. This was surprisingly filling food - we could not finish the main course. We did not eat in East this time as on our previous trip on the ship we found the food good on quality but lacking on quantity. We had breakfast in the Beach House buffet which was fine - the fresh fruit being particularly nice. I had lunch in the Waterside which I always found to be very good, whether hot or cold, and the dishes varied every day. Used plates etc were cleared away promptly by the staff who I always found to be pleasant and friendly. The afternoon tea in the Waterside is everyone's downfall, the mini wraps being especially good, likewise the mince pies and Christmas cake (yum yum). Ventura now operates a system where you can buy bottles of spirits from the duty free shop on board for excellent prices (not worth getting it at Manchester airport). You can drink these spirits in your cabin and order a mixers package if you want. Otherwise we thought the wines on the ship were poor and sometimes impossible to get. For example, on our 1st 2 nights we went to Ramblas for a pre-dinner drink. Out of the 5 red wines on their bar list, 2 were not on the ship and were not expected to be on the ship for the duration of the cruise. We stopped drinking wine about 2 weeks into the trip and drank other things instead. Otherwise there is a good variety of drinks and prices of drinks are very reasonable and there is no 15% service charge added to your bill - compare this to RCI, Cunard, Celebrity, etc etc and see which is best price. We preferred the Glasshouse on the Azura to Ramblas as the Glasshouse offers a range of wines from different countries whereas Ramblas is Spanish only. The entertainment was patchy. We are not shows people and therefore were not bothered about going to the theatre (we got there once) but we do like going to see an act in, say the Havana or Tamarind club. These acts varied from downright dire to very good. However on occasions there was virtually no entertainment going on at certain times - for instance nothing on in the Tamarind at 8.30 was not uncommon. For the first week of the cruise, there was a pianist in the Red Bar between 6pm and 6.30pm. He disappeared after the first week. When we were on the ship in 2008, there was pianist in the Metropolis bar in the evenings - not this time. The piano was there but no pianist. This made the bar lifeless. Other cutbacks were evident - this is the first Caribbean cruise we have been on where there was no steel band or reggae band for the duration of the cruise. There was a steel band when the ship was in Barbados but they disappeared when the ship sailed. When we were in St Lucia the first time (we visited here twice in the month), the cruise director announced he had managed to get a steel band for the afternoon - big deal. P&O also seem to think that they can provide entertainment courtesy of the passengers - the passengers' choir - which was for Christmas Day only on the Azura - was utilized on several occasions, which meant that the participants sometimes had to juggle their evening meals to fit in with the performances. Ventura operates a 2 tier dress code - black tie and "Evening casual". The latter is supposed to make it clearer for what people can wear. It had the opposite effect and there was a lot of grumbling amongst passengers about the state of some people's dress - I would not have worn some of the stuff to go shopping at Tesco. Of course you will always get a small number of people who think it is smart to ignore the black tie dress code and turn up in jeans, polo shirts etc for dinner. One evening, the barman reminded a male passenger that it was black tie for evening. The barman was totally ignored. I don't know why these people go on ships which have the black tie code - why don't they go on NCL or Carnival? We spent lazy days on deck 19 -the old Cirque deck but now without the bungee which means there is now a lot more room up there for sunbeds. We hardly got off the ship as we had been to all the islands before. The weather throughout was marvellous - just a couple of half days of rain and one day which was dull in all 28 days. You could not have asked for better. We had a lovely cruise and would not have any hesitation about going on Ventura again. Of course, there was a fair share of moaners - just like on any ship but the funniest one I heard was a lady in front of me at the Waterwide lunch buffet who complained that the knives and forks were too heavy and could she have some which were lighter. It was very hard not to laugh. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. ... Read More
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. Overall we had a superb cruise. Ventura does most things well. Its a reliable cruise experience and is relatively good value. We booked at only 1 months notice and got a great deal. The ports were mostly great. We didnt take any excursions as Mum need a wheelchair where walking distances is required but still enojoyed our jaunts ashore. Our favourites were St Maartin and Grenada. Having been on here three times in 13 months we did notice some differences. None of these spoilt the cruise but for regular passengers on her it may be worth nothing the following: Showtimes On previous trips on Ventura and Azura, the evening show in the main theatre usually had three performances at approx 7pm, 8.30pm and 10.30pm. This allowed a choice of performance for any club sitting passengers. Those on first sitting could choose the 8.30 or 10.30 show and those on second sitting could choose the 7 or 10.30 show. You could also coordinate it to fit in the a performance in Havanna or Tamerind. However, things had changed on this trip. The theatre only had two performances, 8.30 and 10.30. This doesnt affect those on first sitting so much but if you are on second sitting you only have the option of the last showtime. It also means you cannot get to fit in a performance in Havanna as well as the start times clash with those in the main theatre. Its a bit of a double whammy for second sitters and also meant those on freedom dining may have needed to be more selective in their choice of dining times in order to fit in performances. Also as there was one less theatre show per evening the others were much busier. One one evening, we finished our second sitting meal at 9.50, went straight to Havanna for a 10.30 act and there were no seats left. We walked though to the theatre and again could not get in so no entertainment for us that night. We chose second sitting based on our previous experiences so we could see an early show, have dinner and then take in an act in Havanna or Tamerind alas this was not possible on this trip. As we had seen many of the shows and acts previously this did not impact on us as greatly as it may impact on others but it is a major change to the way in which the evening entertainment is scheduled and I overheard others complaining. I did get to speak to one of the entertainment team about this and they advised that as this 2 week cruise included a lot of people who had opted to take the 1 month cruise they decided they would not need three shows per night for our 2 weeks. I pointed out how it affected us and others particularly those on 2nd sitting and she advised she had just come off Azura and had found the 7 o'clock show to be quiet and therefore it was better to concentrate people into two shows per evening. I hope this is not permanent change they implement. The theatre holds 700 for a ship of 3000+ passengers and therefore only two performances isnt good enough. Feedback from the forum seems to suggest P&O have done this before on Azura which is a little worrying. Drinks prices Some prices have risen. For example in Dec 2010 a pint of Stella was $2.95. It is now $3.50, a rise of 18%. You could previously buy a litre caraffe of house wine in the MDR for $11.95. This has now gone and house wine is in 75cl bottles at $12.95. Thats a rise of 50%. Other drink prices have also risen incl some cocktails but these are the prices I noticed as they are the ones we have previously partaken of. Bottled water too has risen in price. Now P&O still have good value drink prices however such sharp price rises appear to be more than simply reflecting inflation and may hint at a subtle change in direction for P&O onboard pricing. Menus This was the first time we have experienced the new menus in the MDR. The changes are not enourmous. As has already been reported the 'always available' Chicken, Salmon and Steak options have gone. As has the prawn cocktail, unpublished, but always available starter. We found the choice of starters a little more difficult than previously. Many were simply trying to be too fancy and we did find we were trying them but leaving our choices more than previously.The soups however were extremely good and better than before. There is extra choice in the mains sections which now usually features a from the grill section and/or local produce option dependant on your port of call. Also the veg served seperately has been reduced from three to two options but this is still plenty. Fish appears much more frequently, in fact on one evening fish formed 3 of the 7 options. Two of our party love fish so this pleased them however it has to be said the fish portions were very small but nicely cooked. For those who dont like fish their choices have been reduced. We did crave a simple steak or piece of salmon from the always available section on occassion and it is a shame this has been dropped (we did find out half way through that the chicken option remains always available but I am unsure why given that its not mentioned anywhere and only offered when we enquired). This was the first time we had moved from freedom dining to club dining and our views of the service we had previously received in freedom dining have been reinforced. The service in club was far better: much more personable, friendly and attentive and at the end of the two weeks we definately thought they had earned their tips. We had a great rapport with our waiters and they got to know our preferences. Our previous views of the service in freedom dining have been that it was mostly functional but hardly warm and friendly and had been occassionally disorganised with widely varying meal durations. We had tried it on Azura once and twice on Ventura and had the same experience each time and having now had the comparison of the service levels in club dining it is clear that the waiters in club work for their tips. It will be interesting to see if standards in club slip once the tips start being automatically added to passengers onboard accounts this year. Our waiter in Club had actually been our waiter in Freedom dining twice in May last year and the difference in his level of service was so visible. I have to mention that for the second time in a year we experienced Huey Taylor as Cruise Director. I hate to pick someone out personally but this role has a huge impact on passenger enjoyment and on how they view the connection between the cruise company and themselves and unfortunately Huey just doesnt suit Ventura at all. He was uttely invisiable apart from daily lacklustre announcements reading out the contents of Horizon. He appears to delegate everything to his team (who are excellent) and I really cannot understand why he is in this role on this size of vessel. A CD needs to inject enthusiasm but he lacks any connection with passengers. What is it with P&O and cruise director role? Surely there are better in the ranks who would jump at the chance to bring some enthusiasm to this job? Anyway, despite the differences noticed between this and previous cruises, we loved out New Year cruise and would not hesitate to chose Ventura again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Bonded luggage meant that we left Gatwick and didn't see luggage again until the cabin. Even taken from plane direct to port - very good. Not experienced that before. Was a little worried about the Thomas Cook flight P & O had ... Read More
Bonded luggage meant that we left Gatwick and didn't see luggage again until the cabin. Even taken from plane direct to port - very good. Not experienced that before. Was a little worried about the Thomas Cook flight P & O had chartered, but it was absolutely fine. We were really well looked after, and had plenty to drink. We had paid extra for extra legroom, and that was nice as we are tall. Boarded the Ventura with ease and were shown around our cabin by our lovely friendly steward. The room was just lovely with champagne, chocolates,fresh flowers all waiting for our arrival. The tea/coffee making selection was replaced twice a day, and having that early morning cup of tea was a big bonus for me. Mind you, even if it wouldn't have been there, room service was SO efficient and always arrived bang on time. We ordered room service several times when we were on sea days and then it made it a nice leisurely start to the day. It's free, but we would give a tip to the waiter. We usually asked our steward for the ice bucket to be ready for us on return to the cabin in the afternoons and then we could have a nice cold drink on the balcony. He was very good at remembering we wanted that. We chose freedom dining (we always do) and that worked really well. Either we could chose to dine on a table for two, and maybe wait with a pager for a little while, or join others, and then you would normally be seated immediately. We mainly used the main waiter service restaurants, as we don't really like buffet, but food was good there on the odd occasion we ate there. We dined in the White Room on our Ruby Anniversary, and that was superb. It was a formal evening also, so everyone was dressed up, and the atmosphere was really good in that restaurant. Also we dined in Ramblas and East, and both were exceptionally good. All come with cover charge, but really worth a try for a special meal. Wine packages were available, and we actually used our onboard spend to pay for those. It does make the wine cheaper to purchase the package, but then P&O prices are pretty good against other cruise lines. On the subject of alcohol P&O allow you to take it onboard (other cruise lines don't), which meant that as the ship sailed away, then we could sit on our balcony and have a pre dinner drink....or two! The shows were about the best we had seen on any of our cruises. Ventura seem to have a very good song and dance team onboard. Shows were usually twice a night (sometimes three) so you could fit in your meal around them. Unfortunately, we couldn't dock at Grand Turk. The captain tried, and circled 3 times, but wind speeds were too high to make it safe (think Easterly force 7). Having said that, we couldn't feel a thing onboard. The Ventura seemed to cope with the all that very well. Now, recently having heard about the Costa ship, maybe he made a very sensible decision. Had a fabulous sail away from Antigua, with everyone on P&O waving union jacks at the Princess sistership opposite us, and singing all the songs like Land of Hope and Glory. From our balcony we could see that everyone on top deck had them and their voices were booming out. Not sure what the other ships thought of us, but it was one of those 'proud to be British moments'. Well, all I can say is don't listen to people moaning, and just enjoy all that the Ventura has to offer. You certainly won't be bored. This cruise was just lovely, and we met many friendly people at the meal tables and had lots of fun. If there is anything that is perhaps a slight negative, I would say that the Indian staff aren't anyway near so friendly as the Phillipino staff we have encountered on other cruise lines. Don't get me wrong - they all did a splendid, efficient job, but there was no laughing or joking with any of them, well except for our room steward. I think they were just too busy with their jobs. Sadly, after a lovely cruise, we had to leave for home (had heard news of snow in UK!). Then oops! our plane developed a problem with its nose wheel, and after hours of trying to fix it, the captain gave up hope and got us off the plane. Now this is where I take my hat off to P & O again. As soon as they got their staff into position, and the terrible chaos at the airport was sorted (staff didn't realise what was happening), we were all escorted to coaches which took us to beach front hotels in Barbados, given meals, and then picked up the following day. I had visions of sleeping in the airport all night, but no. Thank you P&O - good job done. Couldn't have been easy to get 300 odd passengers sorted into hotels etc at short notice. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on Ventura, along with our best friends who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise, all of us and we certainly choose the right ship and ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on Ventura, along with our best friends who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise, all of us and we certainly choose the right ship and destination. The Caribbean is beautiful at this time of year, temps never dropping below 80degrees. Yes, we had some rain, lovely refreshing, warm rain. It didn't spoil a thing because it never lasted long and was quite a welcome break from the hot sunshine. Mostly the weather was great. As for the ship...Ventura is a real beauty. The staff on board are faultless, apart from one sour faced beauty therapist who looked as though she really didn't want to be there and I cant think for the life of me why! The cabin staff, waiting staff, shops, restaurant, reception etc. etc. were so helpful and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble for anyone and from the minute we left our bags with check in a Gatwick to the moment we picked them up on our return, our every whim was catered for and we didn't have to think about a thing. Check in on board was very fast and smooth. There was constant food and drink 24/7, more or less whatever you wanted. The entertainment was great. We saw 4 or 5 shows put on by the 'Headliners' Theatre Company, a very talented group of young singers and dancers who seem to have endless energy and never stop smiling whether they are on or off stage. If I had to pick fault with anything, it would be the fact that despite the daily sheet given to each cabin which contains information about that evenings dress code, there were several passengers who on formal nights, still wondered around in shorts, football shirts and flip flops!! we did go to reception and asked why this was allowed to happen and were told that 97% of passengers comply, but sometimes the other 3% complain about formal nights...... well don't go on a cruise with P&O is my response to that one, go with a company like Ocean Village who are a casual cruise line, don't spoil it for others who like to get dressed up as a part of the cruise experience. I do think that the dress code should be adhered to and that people should be asked to dress according to that nights code. There are only 4 formal nights on a 14 night cruise so if you don't want to dress up that's fine, but at least don't wonder amongst the people who do wearing your Man U top. I'm as down to earth as they come, but loved to dress up and feel special, as at home, we don't get to do it very often. The food in the main dining rooms was 'ok' but up in the Beach House Restaurant, it was fabulous, so we ended up eating up there whenever the queue wasn't too long, as most people seemed to find the same, the quality was better. We were sometimes given a pager to be called when the table was ready as they were busy, but it was no problem, plenty of places for pre-dinner drinks and it never took very long anyway. All in all, we cant wait to go back again, it was smooth, flawless and all credit to P&O for their attention to detail. Thank You P&O. We're coming back!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft cabin was lovely, except for the broken drawer, and had a large balcony. Tea and coffee making facilities were a boon and very welcome early morning, whilst getting ready for dinner and late at night before retiring. Socorro, our cabin steward, kept everything ship shape except for the broken drawer which attempted to kick me several times. Oh and did I mention the frilled half moon balcony mat which tripped me up a couple of times. I moved it. Not all the service staff had read P & O's 'be friendly to the cruisers' booklet but on average they were fine even if some appeared preoccupied or fed up. Maybe they were thinking of the Caribbean, who wouldn't, the ship's next destination. The food was lovely and varied. However I never got a piece of decent toast or a fried egg to my liking. Must have gone to the Buffet at the wrong time, so my fault both were elusive. We didn't partake of all the entertainment but what we saw was really good. Booked three trips out and all were great. Although I prefer smaller cruise ships, with no broken drawers or frilled mats, I would travel on Ventura again if the itinery was right. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
My wife and I sailed on the Ventura in Sept of this year on the West Med cruise and feel the need to write having read so many pointless and negative comments. Having read some reviews on the cruise we went on we would like to offer some ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Ventura in Sept of this year on the West Med cruise and feel the need to write having read so many pointless and negative comments. Having read some reviews on the cruise we went on we would like to offer some support to P and O and the crew/staff of Ventura. 1.Itinery and excursions are self explanatory prior to booking so should come as no surprise that we were at sea for three days and not calling at ports not in the west med! 2.The food was faultless, a la carte is meant to be small portions, its quality,not quantity.Bigger portions are available at the self service buffet all day if that is what you want. 3.The bar service may have confused some,including us at first,but with the idea of being waited "on"it worked very well, and as we were on holiday there was no rush! 4.All staff were always polite and curtious,even when dealing with the rudest of passengers(which occured quite frequently).Indeed this was probably the most frustrating element of the cruise!. Clearly the more people get,the more people want!. 5.Cabin was always clean and tidy. Cleaned at least twice a day 6.Entertainment was top quality and varied, if you couldn't find something you liked it was your own fault! 7.There was never any surprises on the account,it only showed things that we purchased!! Hope this helps anyone planning a cruise on Ventura,please do not be put off by people who obviously expect too much! P S Dear P and O can you arrange for the Bay of Biscay To be Less choppy Next Time, as we did feel a little seasick on the way home!!!!. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
My husband and I sailed on Ventura in September to the Med. We cannot understand some of the reviews that have been put on this site, only that these people were on a different cruise to us! The food on this cruise was amazing - how ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on Ventura in September to the Med. We cannot understand some of the reviews that have been put on this site, only that these people were on a different cruise to us! The food on this cruise was amazing - how anyone can say the portions were small is beyond me - the food in the restaurants excellent and if you wanted more, you only had to ask! From what I saw on some peoples plates, not many people went hungry!! The service in the restaurant - we used Saffron - was also excellent - thanks to our waiter Newby who was always one step ahead when filling our glasses, etc. The cabin was lovely, cleaned and tidied twice a day by our cabin attendant, Orlando, who always had a smile and a kind word. It was always fully stocked with tea, coffee and biscuits, with a chocolate at night! We only went on one excursion - we did our own thing at other ports - but this again, was well organised, with a knowledgeable guide - the cost of the excursions was also a lot cheaper than other cruise lines. I do not normally write reviews on holidays, but really felt I had to put forward a realistic view. Why go on a lovely cruise and then come home and moan .............. some people will never be happy! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Super ship but disappointed with Itinerary. Just five Ports to visit in 12 days Initial three days at sea before reaching Barcelona frankly seemed too long. Why for example pass Vigo, Lisbon,Malaga, or even Palma and forge on all the ... Read More
Super ship but disappointed with Itinerary. Just five Ports to visit in 12 days Initial three days at sea before reaching Barcelona frankly seemed too long. Why for example pass Vigo, Lisbon,Malaga, or even Palma and forge on all the way to Barcelona cannot comprehend the thinking behind this. On the plus side the Entertainment particularly the Dancers and Singers were truly awesome. They put on a breathtaking show every night each one on a different theme. The Costumes and sets on a par with any West End Production. Comedians and Solo acts also very good. The Lectures were first class. But dear oh dear the Dining Room was a monumental disappointment. The word miniscule would best describe the size of every portion no matter what the dish on offer. Certainly one did not have to watch one`s weight when tackling the Menu this had been taken care of for you. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
From start to finish this cruise was amazing. I will break it down into different areas for easy reading: Embarkation- Faster than any airport you will check into. Arrived and boarded the ship all in 15 minutes! Our luggage was even ... Read More
From start to finish this cruise was amazing. I will break it down into different areas for easy reading: Embarkation- Faster than any airport you will check into. Arrived and boarded the ship all in 15 minutes! Our luggage was even taken to the room for us. Very organised, P & O staff readily available to help. Cabin- Basic but had everything needed. Impressed with it considering it was an inside cabin, a good size! The room attendant came in to see to tidy the room twice each day. once to have a general tidy up and once to prepare the bed for you to sleep in it! Also we were each given a chocolate mint was given each night- a nice touch! Dining- It was possible to choose between two dining slots, one which was at 6.30 and one at 8.30pm. On entering the restaurant we went to our allotted table. The waiter came over straight away, I think it was something like 1 waiter per three tables, so good service. The waiters would do anything they could to help you. The choice of food was great. The food tasted fantastic, all cooked to perfection. It was possible to mix and match if there were certain things that you didn't like. We chose to sit on our own, but we got chatting to the people next to us and have even kept in touch with them! Entertainment- The entertainment was fantastic, great things to choose from, the Headliners theatre company being the highlight, there were other great acts too. The only problem really was if you were going to something that was really popular you had to be there half an hour before to guarantee a seat, some performance times being more popular than others. On one of the days at sea the entertainment wasn't fantastic, but there are always plenty of things to do. Fitness and recreation- There were some sport tournaments on, we took part in a couple of them. There was adults football and table tennis which were good fun. There were plenty of pools, however the children were good at invading them! The best one to go to was the spa one where no kids were allowed. Service- Wherever you went on the ship the staff were great, there were always waiters around to ask if you wanted a drink. Shore excursions- The excursions on offer were great, not cheap, but it was Norway! The only sad thing was that most people had booked their excursions online in advance. We felt sorry for the older people who were trying to book trips as nearly all the spaces were gone. Some people were on a waiting list right from the start. We booked one of ours on the Internet before travelling and the second one we booked on the ship, we did get on a waiting list to start with though as there were no spaces, but we did get on it in the end. Value for money- It was good value for money. The drinks package was a bit disappointing, £30 for 20 fizzy drinks. We only bought one as I don't drink fizzy drinks. There was always free water and tea and coffee in the one buffet bar. It was good to be able to keep track of on board spending on the TV in our room, stopped us getting too carried away! Overall- It being our first cruise we didn't know what to expect. We were totally amazed and this was probably our best holiday yet, and we have been to a few countries now! We would definitely recommend the Ventura, what a truly amazing ship. Disembarking- A bit annoying having to sit round with your bags, we were given a disembarkation card and we had to wait for it to be called. All the luggage was laid out according to what deck you were on which was very convenient, no looking out for your luggage like at airports! Again a very fast disembarkation once the card was called. In summary we look forward to doing another cruise! We would be happy to travel on Ventura again anytime! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
To avoid any anxious feelings of being stuck on the M25, we decided to stay at the De Vere Hotel in Southampton the night before our cruise. We headed to the port about 3.00 to board the ship, we are first time cruisers so didn't ... Read More
To avoid any anxious feelings of being stuck on the M25, we decided to stay at the De Vere Hotel in Southampton the night before our cruise. We headed to the port about 3.00 to board the ship, we are first time cruisers so didn't really know what to expect. As we arrived at the port the staff directed us to the car park, where we waited no more than fifteen minutes. We unloaded our luggage while one member of staff checked our car details and another member loaded our luggage onto the trolley. We handed our car keys over and one member of staff drove our car away while the other person wheeled our luggage away. We were directed into the arrivals lounge where we waited an hour before being checked through security and then on to the ship. Perfect, this certainly beats the stress of flying, so far so good. Our cabin was the perfect size for our family of four, and our cabin steward couldn't do enough for us. He kept our cabin immaculately clean and was always close by if we needed him for anything. We had a nice balcony with two reclining chairs a foot stall and a small table. We chose club dining and the Saffron Restaurant was five star dining, we had a wonderful table next to a large window, where we could see the sun setting while we were enjoying fine dining at its best. The entertainment in the evening was very good, lots of choice for every taste, Steve Tandy the comedian is extremely funny. The ports of call were all very nice places and the sail-away parties were lots of fun. We are extremely fussy holiday makers, my husband often calling me a holiday snob, and I can confirm that this holiday was first class, I couldn't fault not one single thing. I can't wait to cruise again on the Ventura. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2011
This was our first cruise after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with ... Read More
This was our first cruise after recommendations for many years from parents. My wife and I have travelled fairly regularly and enjoyed many foreign holidays in the past before our daughter "flew the nest" We decided to book with P&Oafter seeing an advert in the newspaper severalweeks earlier and getting what we felt was a very good deal. Before travelling we were in two minds after reading the many reviews some of which were and are very damning. We wished we had booked a ship that catered for adults after reading about Chavs and children but at least we were outside main school holiday periods (exc Scotland). We stayed o/n in Southampton and woke up to beautiful weather on departure Saturday. The whole embarkation process was first class, much less stressful than flying and by mid day we wer sitting on deck enjoying a drink and light lunch. We had been allocated an inside cabin at random. This turned out to be at the rear of the ship. we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cabin which afforded us everything we needed and was very well looked after by our cabin steward Priyal consistently. no complaints at all. Our cases appeared outside our room swiftly with no issues. Throughout our trip we found the standard of cleanliness around the ship excellent. Of course from time to time there were dishes and glasses on tables but we found these generally to be cleared away quickly, certainly as quick as in pubs etc at home and similarly the restaurant dishes were removed promptly. Having familiarised ourselves with the ship in early days we found the decks to be easily accessible and although it has to be said the crowded nature of the main swimming pools was not to our liking (sunbeds generally unavailable) we did find that in the adults area at the front of the ship we could generally find a place to sunbathe without reserving beds with towels at all. Quite often we sat on deck 7 (the only deck that circumnavigates the ship)and found occasional joggers and walkers no problem and certainly no bumping and banging as reported elsewhere. We did attend the Gym which we found to be excellent and with equipment of a high standard. we joined up for the spa area at the beginning of our cruise but at £90 found this to be poor value as we hardly used the facility. Similarly we had a massage treatment which, whilst good, was quite expensive. It was only the Scottish kids on the cruise (perhaps we would avoid Scottish school holidays too) but generally if you accept that Children will be children we had no problems. The food was a real success. We ate in The Bayleaf Restaurant on a table for 2 second sitting. The food and service was superd throughout. For breakfast we chose to eat in one of the main service restaurants as the buffet style restaurants tended to get crowded at peak times with free tables at a premium. that didnt suit us although when we did eat there the food was again excellent. we upgraded twice to the White Romm for dinner and found the experience excellent value for money. We were very surprised by the drinks. English pub prices were the norm so no rip off there. A great selection of bars for every taste and as with all areas of the ship we found staff very efficient cheerful and customer friendly. Much better than our normal experience at home. We found the dress code to be part of the experience and enjoyed the formal nights very much. Everybody seemed to adhere to it and in fairness, being a keen football fan myself, I saw hardly any football shirts during the day (I can remember one Burnly shirt on an adult and maybe a Leeds one) apart from the kids who you expect to wear them. Overall our fellow holidaymakers left a very good impression which is some feat with over 3000 strangers sharing the facilities for 2 weeks. We only partook of one trip-the trip to florence which we found to be good and very informative although the heat in July was oppressive. The rest of the time we ventured out ourselves. The Monaco excursion was difficult as it took us soom time to get off the ship but we understand the cause to be a combination of the rough bay and busy nature of the port, something that is perhaps outside P&O control. The queue to get back to the ship in mid afternoon was horrendous and with no shelter but we merely walked the short distance to a bar, cooled down with a drink or two and returned when the queue was merely 10 deep! We were disappointed not to get to Gibralter but there is plenty of free entertainment available on the ship that we were able to take advantage of. The activities/entertainment on the ship were varied and we enjoyed the organisation of it all. Communication was excellent with the daily newsletter alerting in advance of the following days activities. Having had some reservations before we went we found a lot of the negative comment to be untrue on our cruise. We both thoroughly enjoyed it as did everyone we spoke to, some of whom had travelled on The Ventura before. We will certainly travel with P&O again and it probably wont be on the Ventura purely because we will want to try another ship. We started with a clean slate and open mind and had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
As a Family with two secondary school age boys we are tied to the summer holidays and as such price has increasingly become an issue,we have previously visited Florida but it was going to cost £8000 this time, so we thought we would try a ... Read More
As a Family with two secondary school age boys we are tied to the summer holidays and as such price has increasingly become an issue,we have previously visited Florida but it was going to cost £8000 this time, so we thought we would try a P&O cruise having been recommended by a friend. We booked a 14 night Mediterranean cruise on Ventura departing 30.07.11, a year in advance as we were advised that Famly cabins would go quickly and certain discounts/free parking were included.However as the time approached for the cruise I noticed that P&O were discounting and offering free balcony upgrades in order to fill the ship. I contacted P&O asking if we could change our obstructed view cabin for a balcony cabin etc, we were informed we could but would have to cancel our origional cruise and re-book with a £500+ cancellation fee charge. Having already paid just over £5000 for the cruise I didn't want to spend anymore so left it as it was but felt annoyed before even setting foot on Ventura.We travelled down to Southampton the night before and stopped at the Novotel Hotel being very close to the terminal.The following morning we arrived at the terminal and were quickly dealt with by CPS parking staff who removed our cases to the Ventura and removed our car to a secure parking area,the collection process after the cruise was also very efficient.We then went into the terminal which has an airport feel,but unlike an airport within ten minutes we had been seen by very polite staff/processed and entered Ventura, being sent to the Waterside restaurant on deck 15 whilst awaiting the cabins to be prepared.Initially as all passengers were sent there it was very busy but we had our first taste of Ventura food which was very good.The Waterside and Beach Hut restaurants on deck 15 are self serve and one or the other is usually open, we did find however that they felt a bit tired around the edges compared to the Bay Tree and Saffron restaurants which is where we mainly dined during our cruise, both these restaurants are waiter service and are very clean with excellent staff and food.We had opted for Club Dining and took the second sitting in the Bay Tree,for our 6 course evening meal. Having eaten in a number of quality restaurants over the years I would say that the evening meal you receive would attract a price of £50 a head in a similar land based restaurant, given this and all the food you receive on board I quickly appreciated the value for money the cruise offered, this before you consider entertainment etc. My initial grumble about cabin upgrades soon evaporated as we settled into cruise life.With regards to entertainment there is always something going on and to suit all tastes, we were most impressed with the ship's 'HEADLINERS' who put on a number of westend style shows.During the day and especially sea days there is a large choice of activities,you can use the gym,health spa,cinema,go to a talk ie photography/history talk/wine tasting etc. My two boys were kept busy with the REEF youth programme,drama,circus skills etc,there really was something for everyone. With regards to land excursions we did find them very expensive, we only went on one being a trip to Rome this was £177 for a family of 4, we usually made our own way to other tourist spots, ie PISA,we took a coach from the Livorno Tourist Information Centre which worked out at 65 euro's return to Pisa as apose to £108 for the P&O Pisa coach. One of the best days was Monaco, the Ventura moored just off the harbour area and transported us from the ship using the ships lifeboats,it was great to just take in the sights and sounds of Monaco and Monte Carlo,especially the numerous boats/ships/supercars. Port Review:  Alicante was typical coastal Spain, reasonable seafront,lots of shoe and jewellery shops, nothing special but okay for a leg stretch. Although we enjoyed going ashore it was always nice to return to the Ventura especially for afternoon tea Saffron restaurant 16.00hrs, would I cruise on the Ventura again, you bet. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2011
As a party of 14 it did feel a bit like herding cattle when we arrived at Southampton. Apart from one of our party having a delay in valet parking, the whole check in and embarkation process was very efficient. As a wedding party with all ... Read More
As a party of 14 it did feel a bit like herding cattle when we arrived at Southampton. Apart from one of our party having a delay in valet parking, the whole check in and embarkation process was very efficient. As a wedding party with all our additional hand luggage - dress, suits, flowers etc etc we were given priority boarding and from check in to boarding took no more than 15 minutes. Once on board we found our cabins very easily. We had booked several cabins on the same corridor so we could be close to each other and we were all impressed with the deluxe balcony cabins. They were very clean, spacious and well appointed with plenty of wardrobe and storage space. The balconies were overlooked from above but to be honest this was never an issue. Our cabin steward Rohan looked after us very well throughout the cruise. We had picked freedom dining as we were such a large group and we all liked to dine at different times. Generally this worked very well and we rarely waited more than 15 minutes for a table - although one night they completely forgot about my parents who had been waiting nearly an hour. Food in the Cinnamon Restaurant was excellent and there was a good choice every night. Service was good but not as friendly as when you are on club dining as you don't get to know your waiters. One of our party is a coeliac and was well catered for in all the dining venues. We also ate at the Beachouse (very good), East twice (excellent food and service) and in Ramblas (again very good). Now onto the wedding itself! Our wedding was one of the first during the cruise and it was fantastic. From the pre-cruise planning to the on board organisation everything went smoothly. Craig the wedding co-ordinator was excellent and arranged everything as we wanted. The ceremony was performed by the captain, Alistair Clark and was lovely. We had a great photographer, Gavin and everyone has commented on how good the photos are. our post ceremony champagne reception was in a cordoned off area of Metropolis which was our favourite bar and we had a lovely waitress looking after us. The canapes were something else - best I've ever had and the wedding cake was delicious. Later we all dined in The White Room which I highly recommend for both food and service. All in all we were treated like VIPS both on the day and throughout the cruise. Overall the cruise was very enjoyable with interesting ports of call - Barcelona, Monte Carlo (nightmare with the tender transfers though), Rome, Florence/Pisa, Palma, Valencia and Gibralter. Unfortunately due to the sea conditions we couldn't dock in Gibralter which was a real shame as it was our last stop before home. We did a couple of excursions with the kids - the Transfer to Pisa was just about right at 3 hours and the Oceanographic Park in Valencia was definitely worth visiting and was a real hit with the kids. We didn't watch much of the entertainment but the shows we saw were good and we particularly like one of the pianists - John Wright. Some of our party used the kids clubs and said they were first class with excellent staff. To sum up I was a little apprehensive going away with a large group aged from 2 to 72 but there really was something for everyone on Ventura and we would definitely cruise on her again. In fact one our party has already booked for her honeymoon next year! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
I decided to write a review as I know how useful I found others reviews. Our trip to France and Spain from Southampton was on 23rd July. We got to the Ocean Terminal around 11.30am, a little later than we had planned, as the taxi was ... Read More
I decided to write a review as I know how useful I found others reviews. Our trip to France and Spain from Southampton was on 23rd July. We got to the Ocean Terminal around 11.30am, a little later than we had planned, as the taxi was delayed in arriving at the hotel as there were 4 cruise ships leaving that day, so it was very busy. The terminal was very busy but well organised. We were given public health forms to complete, asking if we had been ill the previous week, including coughs and colds. We were given green card letter K and by 1pm, after having our photo taken and given a card each for our room, which also doubled as our on board charge card, we embarked. We were all guided by staff up to the 15th floor, where the waterside buffet restaurant was open. He grabbed a couple to seats next to the pool and had lunch and a couple of drinks. At 1.45pm the captain announced the cabins were ready ahead of time and they were now available. We went to deck 10 (Canada Deck) to C321. The room was very nice with a large balcony, as I had read about on this wen site. I had ordered a bottle of Champagne to be in the room, which it was, but there were no glasses or ice bucket. This was soon remedied by phoning room service. The waiter soon brought them, and by the time I had unpacked it was nicely chilled. The steward Minieviere came and introduced himself. I can say he looked after us very well and the cabin was always very clean, including clean towels twice a day. We enjoyed our time on Ventura, the food entertainment and staff were all excellent. I even managed to go to the gym on 4 of the 7 days, which kept my weight down. I only gained 5lbs. Oh well that's what holidays are about. Anyone going on Ventura I am sure you will enjoy it, like we did Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Arrived at Southampton our car and cases were whisked away and within 30 minutes we were on the ship heading for the restaurant. Ventura is an amazing ship and our cabin was complete luxury, very comfortable beds we all slept really well ... Read More
Arrived at Southampton our car and cases were whisked away and within 30 minutes we were on the ship heading for the restaurant. Ventura is an amazing ship and our cabin was complete luxury, very comfortable beds we all slept really well and the cabin was always kept clean as was the rest of the ship. The kids club was fantastic although I feel the staff were to young to be really good, not there fault! My son could come and go as he pleased and when we had a bit of trouble finding him we just asked security to help look and they were happy to help. As was every crew member we encountered, nothing was to much trouble for them The food was very good and we never waited long to be served a drink. We dined at 6.30 every evening and our waiter was great he knew my sons name from the start but wasn't all over the top which we liked. I saw 3 shows which were really good and we all enjoyed the entertainment provided, there was something for everyone on Ventura and feel sorry for the people that have slatted the ship as I feel these people would struggle to enjoy anything. Arrived back at Southampton and from when we got in the line to disembark to when we were in our car was no more then 20 minutes, a complete joy compared to the hassle of airports. We can't wait to be able to return to Ventura and want to say thank you to P&O for a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
I've read a lot of very negative reviews on this ship and so I can not say it was without trepidation that I set foot for the first time on Ventura. I am, you see , a snob. I like nice things, like to stay in fancy hotels, visit ... Read More
I've read a lot of very negative reviews on this ship and so I can not say it was without trepidation that I set foot for the first time on Ventura. I am, you see , a snob. I like nice things, like to stay in fancy hotels, visit exciting and exotic places and mix with 'my kind of people'. I was told that I would struggle to find these on Ventura and would struggle to find anything I wanted to do... Since I had a child 2 ½ years ago, we have had to curb our holiday habits (as roaming the wilds of Africa - all be it in 5 star luxury - and young children simply don't mix) and started cruising. This I admit was always a compromise solution but I have quite caught the bug and can see myself cruising for many years to come. Well enough about me, I'm sure you'd rather hear about the boat... sorry ship. Firstly, we turned up early, as usual, and embarkation was smooth (but we were about 3rd on the boat) and tottered off for lunch. This was the usual buffet fare which TBH is lacklustre and leaves a lot to be desired but does sustain life. (It didn't improve thru'out the events and really P&O this is something you should improve on...) We then headed to our cabin and met our steward, Eleanora who was the best we'd ever had. Our room was not set up how we wanted and this was quickly rectified with minimal hassle to ourselves. It was kept clean and tidy thru'out the holiday and Eleanora carried out her work with a smile on her face and an almost invisible presence. Food in the Main Dining room was variable, we were on 'freedom dining' which we prefer and only once did we wait for a table, although we were happy to share and met some interesting people that way. I'm not a great fan of the shows, and the one we saw was the usual affair, musical without the story kinda thing... just not my cup of tea but well executed if you like that sort of thing. The Ports were variable Vigo is just 'a leg stretch' - nothing special to see - maybe an excursion might be a good idea here. We missed Lanzarote as the weather was bad so an extra night at Gran Canaria was scheduled instead. Gran Canaria and Tenerife were equally OK but a bit bland... But Tenerife got the weather which really is necessary in the Canaries. Maderia is lovely and well worth a visit. We don't do excursions as a general rule as we're not keen on coach trips and feel that they don't offer value for money but we did take the cable cars in Maderia which was well worth the 15 euro return trip. The other passengers were mostly a great bunch - we felt lucky - although we did hear a few whinges about the number of children on board. Piece of advice - if you don't want a cruise with lots of kids, don't choose a trip to the Canaries (or the Med) out of Southampton on a 'family friendly' ship... And there were a few tattoos about - if that's something that worries you... The real pluses of this trip though were the Entertainment staff who were all so positive and fun, the Cruise Director - who followed through when my son demanded 'The Wheels on the Bus' at Sailaway... And.. The Kid's Clubs. With the notable exception of 'Magic Matt' who I believe was booked for 'one cruise only' and let's hope that was the case. The kid's crew or to give them their correct title, 'Reef Rangers' were truly magnificent. How they do what they do, day in day out, with such enthusiasm baffles belief. I would truly like to know what Mark Price is on and where I can get a wagon load of it... Mark and his team made my son's holiday and kept me entertained for much of it... I used to be a 'floating boater' and would sail with any line that offered the right itinerary but the boys and girls at The Reef have made me a devoted follower -P&O fashion... Please, unless you hate children, or want to spend your whole holiday reading a book, don't write off Ventura, and if you have kids, then I don't think there is a better choice. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
I read many reviews before choosing Ventura and reading between the lines thought it would suit us as we are easy going people. Overall, we enjoyed Ventura alot, there is so much on offer there is something to please everyone.The cabin - ... Read More
I read many reviews before choosing Ventura and reading between the lines thought it would suit us as we are easy going people. Overall, we enjoyed Ventura alot, there is so much on offer there is something to please everyone.The cabin - was clean and comfortable and we were well looked after by our cabin steward. Plenty of cupboard space, no bath but shower was fine and always hot water and fresh towels. We were on C deck and the balcony was double depth, half covered and half exposed so it was perfect for us and we used it alot.Dining - Bay Tree dining room, the food and service here was excellent. We had a table for 2 but as has been said before these are close together and we ended up enjoying meeting our 'neighbours', so in a way we got the best of both worlds. Beach House - in the evening this turns in to an American Grill, which had been strongly recommended to us but this was the meal we enjoyed least, not that it was bad in anyway it just didn't measure up to the hype we'd heard.Waterside Buffet, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner here......all meals had plenty of selection, it was always fresh and good quality. Delicious puddings !! It was very popular so at times we had to search for a table and one person grab it, while the other went to get their food......but its no hardship, they were not going to run out of food !! Bearing in mind the number of meals that are served here, the staff do an outstanding job with keeping the food refreshed and the tables cleared and always with a smile.Room Service - we ordered breakfast on a couple of mornings which is just continental style. Delivered on the dot by a courteous steward.......you can't ask for more than that.We didn't try the speciality restaurants as we didn't really have time, there are so many places and themed nights to try......maybe we'd give them a go on a longer cruise.We did 2 shore excursions with P & O, both of which were great. We did 2 ports on our own. Out of them all, we got more out of the excursions than our DIY but that was to be expected I suppose. Entertainment - there is so much to keep you entertained. Its not really my cup of tea but we did take in a few shows and they weren't bad. The venues were always full so they were very popular and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. There are so many bars with different atmospheres that you can find somewhere to suit your mood almost every hour of the day !! We didn't see any louts or snobs, just friends and families having fun on holiday...... a great cross section of people made a super atmosphere so if that's what you're into then Ventura is for you.Overall, I can't think of anyone thing to criticise.......if I had to pick something the one thing that I thought was cringeworthy was the great british sailaway....as I said earlier organised entertainment isn't for me so didn't actually go to it but we could hear it on our balcony, not tasteful in my opinion but different strokes for different folks, live and let live. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This was our third cruise on Ventura, so you already know that she's a ship we like. Ventura's strong points were the same as ever: the balcony cabins (especially the walk-in hanging area), the big C-deck balcony, the quiet of ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Ventura, so you already know that she's a ship we like. Ventura's strong points were the same as ever: the balcony cabins (especially the walk-in hanging area), the big C-deck balcony, the quiet of the stern Terrace, and the touches of formality. But this cruise was principally about the itinerary, which was as good as we'd hoped. The worst destination, Cephalonia, was just a bit boring; but Dubrovnik, the two days in Venice and a further day in Korcula were extraordinary. When a hot day in Corfu ends up seeming just so-so in comparison, you know you've been to some good places. Food in the MDR and buffets was good to very good, while the meals we took in East (three, including a lunch) and at the White Room were exceptional. Service, too, was good in the typical P&O rather under-stated style. We also had extremely good company at dinner. The only area that we were unhappy with was wine availability: the wine stores hadn't been replenished before leaving Southampton, and wines were becoming unavailable from quite early in the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
The main thing we learnt from our previous 2 trips on Ventura, was that there would be so much to do that we'd rarely be together as a couple. With a long cruise and many sea days such as this, we went our separate ways so often, that ... Read More
The main thing we learnt from our previous 2 trips on Ventura, was that there would be so much to do that we'd rarely be together as a couple. With a long cruise and many sea days such as this, we went our separate ways so often, that we must have seemed like a couple of singles. There were a number of lectures each sea days, which is my scene; art classes which clashed with the discussion group; films which clashed with the talks on navigation; choir rehearsals which clashed with the Concorde secrets....oh, the joy of being on a ship which had too much entertainment rather than nothing except over-priced ones, or selling talks! The choir especially was fun...having 7 sea days meant lots of rehearsals, before our 2 performances in the atrium, in front of many passengers. We were also part of the bed-making comp, and OH had wins in bingo and poker! The main purpose of the trip was to spend 2 days in Venice....OH's favourite city, and he spent every minute of both days walking round the different areas, or riding the water buses. Cities are not for me, but it's always lovely to return to Venice, even if it's just for a drink next to a narrow canal. This time I wanted to spend a while in Vivaldi's church, which had his music pouring from a good sound system. The sail-in and out- accompanied by the best of Italian opera pouring over the sides of the ship- to some gondolier's joy- are one of the highlights, and moving moments. The other reasons for taking this cruise were to be with friends....when we happened to find them in such a massive ship; to try both of Marco Pierre White's menus, and to go swimming- achieved in several places such as Corfu, Korkula, Kephalonia....and, this time, even on the ship....we don't often have a "warm" cruise, so the pools were put to good use. It's great that a ship sailing from Southampton has a covered pool; we'd be loath to travel on other ships sailing from that port, where you'd have to wait until Portugal for a dip.... The food was excellent in all places- and we did try all, except, this time, East....even the burger bar provided a tasty menu. We ate in the MD only twice, and were impressed by the choice and service....and the lobster... The cabin was slightly smaller, and, being an inside, didn't work for me- I've only had an inside for 7 nights before, on Thomson and Louis cruises, and 17 nights inside was just too much- I was forever popping outside in the late evening. This wasn't helped by P&O's insistance that e-cigs could only be used in smokers' corners....the fact that you're not smoking, only using an inhaler, doesn't seem to have registered. It was my use of an e-cig which had made us choose an inside, but- rules is rules!!:( At least a number of crew came with questions about the inhaler.) For OH, the best of the cruise would have to be Venice, and snorkelling in the Med; for me, it was the tiny ferry ride I took from one side of Kephalonia to the other little town, and the excursion to the Cies Isles, off Vigo- I think that's really my number one excursion of the cruise. Everything- shows, activities, crew, food, ambience, were of high quality. There's no constant begging for money on board- you can play a card of Bingo for the 5 games for a fiver, and do a wine tasting for the same amount. The tipping suggestions are sensible, and the bar drinks are the same- around pub prices. I have added two of the best ports to the Port Review section; sadly, some of the better ones such as Kephalonia and Korkula aren't available on the pop-uplist, and I'm not enough of a techie to override them....All Greek Isles are fantastic, whilst anywhere in Croatia is the med as it once was.... A great holiday, and although I've many more cruise lines to try, this particular journey will take some beating! Jo. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Ventura N110 7 days. The view from below Well we set off on Wednesday for our Good Friday departure, (we have a very slow car). Luckily we got to Reading in time to check in to the Crowne Plaza. Very nice location by the ... Read More
Ventura N110 7 days. The view from below Well we set off on Wednesday for our Good Friday departure, (we have a very slow car). Luckily we got to Reading in time to check in to the Crowne Plaza. Very nice location by the Thames, with a park by the river, to walk along. (well in my case ride) The weather was great and sun tan stuff was required. We had dinner in the hotel which was very quiet leading up to Easter. I think the normal clientele are of the business variety. The next day we set off into Reading town centre to look around the shops, a few things to buy. Very pleasant, with the sun again very hot. Coffee was taken. The vital ingredients for our in cabin G&T's were purchased in Sainsbugs. (I had found out about the non in cabin alcohol sales due to no port outside the EU). Dinner that evening was taken at an Indian Restaurant on the river bank near the hotel. Very good and having had a chat to the manager two drinks appeared at the end of the meal, an excellent gesture. We left just before 10 the next day after having a good breakfast. The run down was fine until we came to the back of the queue on the M3. This wasted a half an hour. We got to Southampton to realise we had not put the labels on the cases. So stop and put it right. Then on to dock gate 10, which we approached from the town end. ????? It was about 11.35 and we joined a queue of cars waiting for a space to unload. At that point we could see there were people still getting off the ship. At about 11.50 we moved off parked and got unloaded, cases, scooter, hats and medical equipment. None of the luggage had gone in the hole as we walked to the door. On to the entrance, over to the right sir, was the cry as we came through the door, I think not I said, we are gold (pompous or what). So to the left it was, with an empty queue and instructions to come forward. Smile for the photo and all the other formalities over, through the door to the right and the baggage check. As I do not go through the scanners I am frisked. It is then up the lift and into the ship. Gold sir, that will be deck 7 the Tamarind. What would you like to drink that will be a G&T then and a plate of sarnies. We looked at the time and it was 12.10 so 20 minutes from car stopping, to drink in hand, not bad. Very few get to the club and we are told that there are few gold members on board. 13.30 comes and the nice lady comes and informs us that our cabins are ready. Off we go up to deck 9(D) and find our cabin near the lift. Shock horror our cases are already there. Never had that before So unpack and out for a look around. Safety chat over and out on to deck 7 for sail away, no cheap champers!!!!! Is this another EU only port thing. Band good and loud but only 5 of them, a Jazz band. Back to the cabin to get ready for the off, we go out onto the balcony and who should we see above us ....Sharon. Do you know she pestered us all week for a drink.....no chance. We ran out by Wednesday as it was!! Off to dinner to meet our table companions, a very sedate and quiet table little conversation and banter. Well for 5 minutes anyway, after that it was a riot. We started laughing in six minutes and did not finish until 10.30 on the last night. There were 3 couples and a mother and daughter combo, certainly on of the best yet. At 10.30 I could feel the casino calling, it was a long time since Oceana in October. The cruise followed and we had a fantastic time. Our table continued in the same vein with a week of laughing and good banter. Of course I missed all the shows in the theatre and the show lounges as the casino kept calling me. The casino was as busy as I have ever seen on any ship, with 5/6 tables in constant use and many people using the 'bandits'. Quite a community builds up and the banter improves as the week progresses. Wins are greeted by cheers from all as your luck ebbs and flows. Over the week I was only just down, with plenty money for our tips. With regard to the ship it was much as we had remembered it from January 09. The food was excellent and the staff were equally as good. Our wait staff were very efficient and friendly. One of them thought our table must have known each other before we came on board and was quite surprised when we said we had just met. We had a Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabin which the reception called a mini-suite. It was excellent for my scooter as I could drive it up to the balcony end of the cabin and park it out of the way. It was very comfortable with plenty of storage. Our cabin steward Jackson was excellent, with towel animals every night on our bed. The ice and lemon were always there and the cabin was spotless. The one difference we noted was in the Ramblas bar. On our first cruise on Ventura, the bar seemed cold and uninviting, this time there was a totally different atmosphere. We had some tapas at lunch time, which was very good and the bar was warm & very inviting. In the evening it was a great place for pre dinner drinks with a very good guitarist playing a range of tunes from classical to pop. Not a clue what they did to make the change apart from turning off the air conditioning. The bar staff were excellent always cheerful and attentive. The Ports (for me and my scooter) La Coruna Off at about 10.30,a warm and sunny day. Saw a lot more of the town than I have before with having the scooter. After having a coffee we walked along the promenade and into the town again, making our way to the main square. We found a bar selling tapas and settled down for a spell of people watching. The tapas was very good and we had ordered far too much, so we needed a couple of beers to wash it down. The ship is only 5 minutes from this square so we returned at about 3.00 and went directly to Costa. Bilbao Here there was a problem, because of the tide I could not get off the ship as it was going to be difficult to get back on. Although disappointed I spent a very relaxing day on board ship and my wife had a good day mainly going to the Guggenheim, which she loved. La Rochelle Excellent port, helped by the fabulous weather. We wandered around the old port and marina and then moved into the town with its narrow pedestrianised streets and excellent small shops. We stopped on a few occasions for coffee, beer and then food. The food was Croque Madame and omelette overlooking the old harbour. The sun was high and hot, wonderful. We then wandered over to the information centre to get the shuttle bus. It was about 15.00 and we feared a long queue. There was not at all. The bendy bus came in, leaned over and I scootered on ...... excellent. On the way back we had to stop and the bus was boarded and we had to show our passports. This was the first time ever for us on over 15 cruises. When we left there were over 15 security staff standing in a line waving us off. This was in contrast to the next port Brest when I only saw 2 security and they just waved at the buses as they passed. Brest We have been before so we did not go into the town. However we took the trip to Quimper (Kemper) and did our own thing. A delightful small old town to wander around with an excellent cathedral which had the most wonderful stained glass windows. In the centre there was a small market Les Halles which was very pleasant, however we did notice the high prices especially for vegetables. Just by the market was a bread shop so we got some cheese and then bought a warm baguette, straight out of the oven. We found a seat in the sun and had a simple lunch. What bread!!!! In all we had a wonderful cruise with an excellent table, good banter at the tables in the casino, an excellent pre-dinner location in Ramblas and good ports. We thoroughly enjoyed Ventura. It is an excellent ship and well worth another cruise. That will be next April then. On to Azura in September. Dai Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We tried our first cruise last year from Dubai with Royal Caribbean. We were unsure if we liked it or not, so tried P&O this year, Transatlantic from Barbados to Southampton. We booked late and got a great deal. Had to fly from ... Read More
We tried our first cruise last year from Dubai with Royal Caribbean. We were unsure if we liked it or not, so tried P&O this year, Transatlantic from Barbados to Southampton. We booked late and got a great deal. Had to fly from Manchester, but only 2 hours away. The Thomson flight was fine. left early, arrived on time. Bus to Ship from the bottom of plane steps (great)direct tothe port. Registration in no time, very efficient. (by-passed the photographer!) Found cabin which was excellent (twice the size of last years BOS balcony cabin!) Savio, our Steward, led us in and explained everything to us, he was excellent the whole cruise. We downed our Champagne and chose the Buffet and an early night. Surprise 1 - Last year a bottle of wine started at $40 this year £9 for house white, everything else normal pub prices. The buffet was good and fresh/warm. Yes there are 3000 passengers, but Ventura is a big ship, and you can find a quiet bar (10 to choose from)and somewhere to sit/lay, We never bothered round the pools, as it wasn't worth the hastle, but there are many places to relax, from comfortable chairs on the Promenade deck 7 to beds always available over the Spa at the front (adult only!) Children were not a problem, only 126 on board, and never caused us any heartache.3 Islands 3 days in the Caribbean then 5 days to cross the Atlantic to Tenerife then 3 days to Southampton. Too many sea-days, we got a little bored. There are activities throughout the day, but we stuck to relaxing in the sun and the Spa.Everyone was so friendly on board both Crew and Passengers. Some passengers left a little to be desired and surprised us but hey they paid for their holiday the same as everyone else and so they have the same rights.We ate in every restaurant (9 but 3 formal/allocated ones, so 7 to choose from)Whites was superb, as was the Asian one, East and Ramblas (Spanish) The Bay House was turned into an American diner each night and the buffet had a theme night each night (all good)in fact the food was excellent everywhere.We enjoyed the evening entertainment and went nightly to the TheatreNegatives - The 4 formal evenings became tiresome, and the photographers also everywhere, but looking at the queues waiting for their picture proves there is a need both to dress up and have their photo's taken, so who are we to complain!and we could avoid them. It is a big ship, you could meet someone at lunchtime, and never see them again! likewise the entertainment bars could not cope with demand. If there was a good entertainer on you had to go early for a seat. As said before Sea days became boring, but we just did not appreciate the distance across the Atlantic at 19knotsOverall, much better this year. I fear over capacity will lead to more last minute "deals" and attract the wrong clientele. We will have another go, but either a smaller ship, or a larger with less passengers 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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