We arrived at Glasgow Airport with some anticipation as a fortnight before our cruise date we were informed of a change of aircraft for our outbound flight to Barbados from a Boeing 767 -300ER to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We had previously ... Read More
We arrived at Glasgow Airport with some anticipation as a fortnight before our cruise date we were informed of a change of aircraft for our outbound flight to Barbados from a Boeing 767 -300ER to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We had previously booked our seats 18a and b. While sitting in the departure lounge we were quite disconcerted when we noticed our parked aircraft suddenly surrounded by Airport Fire Service Appliances with all emergency equipment in operation, after an extensive examination of the aircraft all emergency staff stood down and boarding of the aircraft began.
First impressions of the aircraft were good, appeared to be very light, spacious and roomy. Once seated, I was next to the window which was bigger than on previous aircraft and offered a better view I noticed the seat was only slightly narrower but had much better legroom ( I am 6' 1" ) the seatbelt was longer, ventilation was much improved. Having pre booked seats in the 2-3-2 layout of the 767 aircraft we were seated in a row of 3 seats on the 787 no other passenger was seated beside us which was good as it gave us some extra space, this applied to our return flight as well.
Once airborne I found the aircraft to be somewhat quieter than usual, the flight crew were very pleasant and cheery and looked after us better than our last long haul flight on BA.Only thing I did not like was the fact there is now no choice of food in economy class, oh sorry there is "Take it or Leave it"' I appreciate costs have to be kept down but it is a long flight to endure without something to eat if you do not like what is offered, in this case Pasta Bake . After a relatively quick flight time of 7 hours 45 minutes we arrived at Barbados alighting from the aircraft I felt quite refreshed and bright, we experienced P&Os usual seamless transfer to the port and took approx 20 minutes to check in and board the ship.
We had booked cabin C102 (Port side just below the ships Bridge) but prior to departure found we had been upgraded to A430 (Port Side Midships adjacent to Lifts), while losing out on the large C Deck Balcony we found our new cabin to ideally situated for all of the ships amenities.We have occupied this type of cabin before so it was no suprise to use , the cabin was clean, showing some signs of age( the ship has been in service for 7 years), such as the balcony handrail needing revarnishing but certainly nothing worth complaining about. Our cabin steward Harak introduced himself to us, he was very friendly and only to happy to comply with our request for ice and lemon to be provided on a daily basis. I also requested a feather pillow as I do not like foam pillows. Throughout our cruise Harak was very attentive without being obtrusive, our cabin was kept spotless and on some evenings we returned to find an additional occupant in the form of a towel animal. Our luggage was delivered to the cabin within 4 hours of boarding.
Thereafter we called at our usual port of call Breakers Bar for something refreshing to quench our thirst, only to be disappointed to find P&O no longer have draught "Banks" lager on board, however our disappointment did not last long as we were offered Draught "Peroni" lager which fitted the bill perfectly.
After freshening up we attended "Emergency Drill" and thereafter had an enjoyable meal in the Beachouse Buffet.
We had chosen Freedom dining and were allocated Cinammon Restaurant although after the first night we could have chosen to dine in either Cinammon or Saffron dining rooms. While not deaf I find it difficult to hear table conversation if seated in the centre of the dining room and therefore always request a table near to a wall or in one of the alcove areas, this request was met by Arun the restaurant manager and we were seated at table 111 attended to by
Monal and Raj, and wine waiter Jack, the service provided by these three Gentlemen was in my opinion excellent. We had met a former colleague and his wife who were on their first cruise at the airport, and had invited them to join us at dinner which they did, on the first formal night we had a table for four and one of the main course choices was Lobster, I knew from previous experience that the portion could be on the small side and I asked Monal if I could have two portions my request was met and thereafter every night we ate in Cinammon Monal offered myself and our fellow diners an additional portion of their main course choice.
All food served was piping hot, very tasty and most enjoyable, however I did overhear other passengers commenting that some of the food was bland and tastless, possably depends on what they had chosen. I personally like strongly flavoured, spiced food but as I have said found all my food to be tasty.
We also made use of the Glasshouse, Waterside Buffet, Beachouse(Waiter Service), and East for Evening Meals.
We attended a "Taster" Dining night in the Glasshouse at a cost of £30 per person. The meal is limited to approx 20-30 people and has to be booked in advance as it is popular and is held two or three times per 14 night cruise. It is a four course meal including a large fillet steak, each course is accompanied by a selected glass of wine to comlement the food. This meal is excellent value for money.
The main buffet restaurant hosts various theme nights throughout the cruise such as Caribbean Night, Tandoori Night, Great British Menu Night,etc,we chose to attend on Tandoori night and had an excellent meal although not as highly spiced as I like, but they have to cater for all passengers not just me.
This is part of the buffet situated at the aft end of the ship on the starboard side and is turned into a waiter service restaurant in the evening(non book able), there is cover charge of £5.00 per person and a very small charge on some of the menu choices EG: £2.50 for a lava rock cooked fillet steak. They used to charge £7.50 for this prior to the introduction of the £5.00 cover charge for entry.
I never had the inclination to use this restaurant on previous cruises as I didn't think it was my idea of an Asian Restaurant, but as we had a large amount of OBC, the boss decided we would give it a try. What a revelation the food was superb to such an extent I felt I had to have a second visit which was even better .
We had excellent table companions in Graeme and Carol,Pat and Keith, Gordon and Jean we met up most evenings and were allocated a table in the sector covered by Monal and Raj.
On the last Formal night our table companions had all elected to dine at other venues and we therefore elected to share with other passengers within our usual area, we were most surprised to be joined for our evening meal by The Venturas Captain Simon Terry, he was an excellent table companion.On all of our cruises with P&O this is the first time we have ever seen the Captain dining in one of the MDRs.
This was always taken in the Beachouse about 8.00am before the busy time, varied selection of food through cold meats, cheese, fresh fruit, cereals, full English , with poached eggs/Omellettes, black pudding/ waffles/ pancakes on request, I always found breakfast a tasty start to the day.
Lunch was a very tasty Pizza from the deck 15 Pizzaria, the chef Jayghill was only to happy to make me a Pizza of my choice from the available ingredients , the Pizza Menu only lists a selection of 5, but as long as they are not to busy(such as Sea Days) Jayghill and RJ(Assistant Chef) would make passengers their choice per ingredients.
Ports Of Call:
We have been in all of the Ports before and as the boss is prone to car sickness if not driving we tend not to do excursions , however on this cruise we decided while calling at Tortola we would do the excursion to Jost Van Dyke an Island off the North Coast of Tortola. Jost Van Dyke is reached after a ferry trip of appox 1 hour and is a fairly underdeveloped island, on arrival in a small bay you are transported by road a short distance to another bay where there is a beautiful white beach with a few small beach bars including the famous "Soggy Dollar Bar" the home of the "Painkiller" Cocktail. All Sunloungers/sun Brollies are free of charge for those on the excursion and a barbecue Lunch and one free drink provided,additional drinks are at a small charge(Rum Punch $2.00).
The beach is quite popular with the sailing fraternity and throughout the day we were joined by a number of large and small yachts .
Having cruised a number ot times we are well used to P&Os Entertainment but we still enjoyed the Headliners shows as each troupe puts their own mark on the shows, I thought this years group gelled very well and complimented each other's individual contribution.
I am not a fan of comedians but attended both shows by Roy Walker which I found very entertaining, no swearing, no outright smut but a wee bit risqué , and no running about the stage shouting at the top of voice like a madman .(Perhaps a sign of me reaching old age).
During the day we usually made use of the open deck areas near to Breakers Bar, where we were served by Edwin who within a day or two new our names and our order off by heart, we found the waiters attentive but not in our face, in my opinion the waiters can't win some people complain they are subjected to hard sell, others that they cannot get service. I have always found a polite No thanks suffices,after all they are only doing their job. Prices were on par with a busy town centre pub.
In the evenings we always had our nightcap in the Glasshouse where we were well looked after by Stephen and AJ. All the Glasshouse staff were very friendly and prepared to spend a couple of minutes in conversation, however this is a popular bar and can be busy.
Throughout our cruise we found all staff we had dealings with to be friendly, efficient and helpful, we have read reviews on this site stating that staff on Ventura were surly, unhappy and not prepared to interact with passengers, well they must have had a complete crew change as we had no experience of that type of behaviour. Some of the crew have an excellent command of English while others have not and this may give some passengers the impression of rudeness, I have always found if you take the time to speak to crew members they will do their best to reciprocate.
However some of my fellow passengers(a minority) have obviously forgotton how to say Please and Thank You.
Having cruised in the Caribbean since 2005 mostly in February/March we found the weather this year to be erratic in that we had rain every day of the first week, not a lot but unusual and strong winds throughout both weeks. This did not affect our overall enjoyment of the cruise however.
Overall impression of ship:
Ventura has now been in service for seven years with one refit in that time, she is showing some signs of wear such as dents and scrapes within the lifts, carpets showing wear, balcony handrails needing varnished etc but nothing that can't be dealt with by ongoing shipboard maintenance. After all she does carry approx three thousand passengers every fortnight none of whom ever drop anything on the carpets, bang into things or accidentally damage fittings.
To finish we had a great cruise overall, nothing to cause complaint and we met some very nice people including those who we chose to dine with and others such as Jacquie and Ian Ramage. While onboard we took the opportunity to book next years Caribbean Cruise which will be taken aboard Azura as Ventura is not venturing to the Caribbean.
When disembarking at Barbados we had to vacate the cabin by 0900 however you are allowed to remain on the ship and use all facilities until your flight is called, thereafter you disembark and board buses which take you to the airport and then are fast tracked through emigration and security and into the departure lounge. Your luggage is transported direct from the ship and the next time you see it is on the baggage carousel at your home airport. P&O have this procedure well organised.
To round off the cruise we flew home on the Dreamliner and it's the best sleep I have ever experienced on an aircraft.