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52 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

After thoroughly enjoying a month long Christmas and New Year cruise last year on Oceana we decided to book the similar cruise on Ventura this year. What a huge mistake that proved to be. After only a couple of days it seemed as though the ... Read More
After thoroughly enjoying a month long Christmas and New Year cruise last year on Oceana we decided to book the similar cruise on Ventura this year. What a huge mistake that proved to be. After only a couple of days it seemed as though the ship was being run by an entirely different cruise line. Yes, the ship is large and we expected that. What we did not expect was that many parts of the sip were downright grubby - dirty marks on carpeting, really dirty tiled areas in the Waterside buffet and on one occasion chips were left lying on a staircase in the Beachcombers pool area for over 2 weeks. In the same Beachcombers pool area some birds had defaecated on sun loungers whilst the roof was open in port during the first week of the cruise and these were never cleaned during the remainder of the cruise. There are inadequate toilet facilities on the pool decks. In fact there are only 2 ladies cubicles and 1 disabled between the Laguna and Beachcomber pools and these have to be reached by walking in the smoking area and consequently they reek of cigarette smoke. The only other toilets are situated between the Beach House and Waterside buffet areas. One of our main complaints was the quality and choice of food. In the Waterside and Beach House buffets, the layout is very poor and it is necessary to wander with a laden tray to negotiate various foodstuffs. There does not seem to be a logical pattern to where the various food is located. Often the trays, bowls and plates were too hot to handle but this was obviously to help warm up the mediocre, often barely warm food. At breakfast fresh fried eggs were put out and I found that they were cold. Presumably they then have to warm up under the lights. During the second half of the cruise American type streaky bacon was provided but unfortunately not served in the American style i.e. crispy so it turned out to be greasy. The toast resembled re-cycled cardboard. The choice of fresh fruit at breakfast was very limited and repetitive. The even sliced the grapefruit into thin slices to make it go further! Bananas, when they appeared were of a quality that would not even have been sold as seconds in a supermarket. By the second week the honey in the little containers had solidified. It was almost as though they had not prepared for the fact that this cruise was of a month's duration and not the usual two weeks. Steak, which is usually on the always available part of the menu appeared most nights on the main menu. There was no way anyone could opt for a healthy eating option as many of the vegetables served were of the frozen variety. We endured the freedom dining on only 4 occasions as each time the service was extremely slow and when the food finally arrived it was not piping hot. The waiters had a tendency to try to get all the tables they were saving to catch up so that they could serve each table with the main course simultaneously. The quality of the meat and vegetables was second rate. The Christmas dinner was one of the worst I have ever had on a cruise ship - the turkey tasted more like something that had been artificially produced, sprouts as hard as bullets, roasted potatoes that my have 'visited' an oven briefly to give them some colour but no crispness. Dry Christmas pudding to follow with a brandy sauce that seemed to be alcohol free! We gave the New Years Eve dinner a miss and used room service! The only redeeming factor regarding the food was that there was a Beach House diner open every evening except Christmas Day and New Years Eve (unfortunately). Here there was a limited menu but the food was cooked to order and was excellent in comparison to the rest of the ship. It was interesting to note that as the cruise progressed the queues for this facility started earlier each night and there were many regulars using it, who like ourselves had given up on their regular dining room for similar reasons to ourselves. There was obviously some form of respiratory virus going round the ship as included on the usual letter about Norwalk virus it also included coughs and colds and requested people contact the medical centre if they were suffering from these. Everywhere you went on the ship people were coughing and full of colds. It was not surprising as this started on the outbound flight where someone behind us coughed constantly for the whole 9 hour flight! To make matters worse, the public rooms in the ship were extremely cold. It is the first time on a Caribbean cruise ( and we have done over 30 of these) when we have had to turn the air conditioning in our cabin up from the lowest setting. The only time the ship's interior felt comfortable was during the last two days in Barbados when normal Caribbean temperatures resumed. The first week of the cruise the weather was cool and cloudy in the Caribbean and then we headed north towards New Orleans, which was a further ordeal. P and O provided all passengers with the green immigration forms to complete (which have not been used for almost 2 years) only for the immigration officers to throw them away! The immigration ordeal started at 7.15 a.m. and only finished just after 6 p.m. as there were only 8 booths operating on the quayside. Interestingly though, the crew seemed to complete all their immigration procedures in order to start their crew drills and coast guard inspection by 10.30 a.m. Passengers who were only on the 2 week cruse hardly saw anything of New Orleans as they left early the next day for their return flights. Again it is not the first time P and O have been to New Orleans - in fact Azura was there the previous week so why wasn't there communication between the two ships as they must have encountered the same problem. We have been there on Oriana and it took til 2 p.m. for the ship to be cleared then and they only had half the number of passengers. St. Thomas, too, was a disappointment as we docked at Crown Bay which has very little in the way of facilities as the one at Havensight. In fact one shop owner remarked it was the first time they had had such a large ship in there before. It is obviously a cheaper option in the way of port charges etc. for P and O. It was impossible to walk into Charlotte Amalie and the open 'taxis' were charging $8 per person for the return trip. P and O provided shuttle buses in Port Everglades and Port Canaveral but nothing in St. Thomas. The entertainment was the usual mix of shows, comedians and tribute acts although we did have Tom O Connor appearing in the second half of the cruise. Cabin TV was showing the usual range of Christmas films the first two weeks but did not replace these with any additional films for the second two weeks. In fact the interactive TV was quite annoying as it took time to load and you had to get the remote in a certain position to operate it only to find that most of the films on offer were pay per view (not mentioned in any of the brochures). We did not even get a cruise log for the first two weeks and when we asked at Reception we were told that one had not been issued. Untrue as we had seen them in other pigeon holes. Likewise we did not receive any disembarkation information and were told we should have had one. There was no cruise overview issued for the second two weeks and the excuse given was that the entertainment had not yet been finalised! Were they working on a day to day basis and hoping that it would be 'alright on the night' and that passengers would not notice that some of the shows were repeated from the first half of the cruise. Many of the entertainment venues were not suitable especially the Tamarind where they had the classical artistes performing. There is a thoroughfare through this venue and we had to endure the kids club with their supervisors marching through and other passengers having quite loud conversations whilst walking through which is very distracting when trying to listen to classical music. The Exchange Bar and Casino were other walk through areas and there were often queues in the former waiting for the second performance in the Arena Theatre. There were very few quiet areas on the ship to sit and have a drink as there seems to be a necessity to have bands in most public areas. The library was quite small for the size of ship and had a very poor selection of fiction. Many of the books were old and in need of repair/replacing. It was almost as though all the other ships belonging to P and O had donated their oldest and tattiest books to Ventura.The librarian was not always at her post at the times stipulated which meant people left their returned books lying on her desk and others then picked them up without having to have them recorded. It just seemed pointless having the cabinets locked and specific opening times for the library when it could not be supervised adequately. Despite the fact that the Captain, Hamish Reid is quite a character and was on last year's Oceana cruise, he did not appear to be enjoying his sojourn on Ventura. We never saw him walking round the decks. He also seemed to be taking on the role of Cruise Director announcing all the evening entertainment and the shopping events when he was informing passengers that we were due to leave port. He also did not seem to be able to operate the public address system as most mornings in port we were woken by his voice in the cabin announcing that we had docked in such and such a port. He might just as well have started with "Hi de hi cruisers" to reflect the kind of ship he was running. There has obviously been a lot of cost cutting, changes and directives from Head Office since last year and standards have certainly dropped. I wonder, too, why there was a P and O director on board in Barbados on the last Friday? My advice to discerning cruisers avoid Ventura at all costs unless you want to experience how a cruise ship should not be run. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We have cruised over 15 times and have previously cruised with: NCL Princess Royal Caribbean Holland and America Costa This cruise was by far the worst cruising experience that we have had for the following ... Read More
We have cruised over 15 times and have previously cruised with: NCL Princess Royal Caribbean Holland and America Costa This cruise was by far the worst cruising experience that we have had for the following reasons Pre Flight information This was some what lacking, I opted for paper free but information was not available until very late on and the information about the trips available was very limited so it was very difficult to establish what the trip would cover. There was no information provided in respect of what would happen in the event of the adverse weather conditions. Flight This was misleading as the information in your brochure at the time of booking stated that a scheduled flight via British Airways would be used, but instead a charter flight was provided with Thomas Cook. Our flight was due to leave at 8.30am 18/1/11. When we arrived at our hotel the night before the hotel informed us that we were delayed until 12.30. When we checked in at the terminal at 5.30am we were not advised of a delay, there was no bad weather at this point. Information provided was very poor. We spent 6 hours in the terminal, 2 hours at the departure gate (which had no facilities and was extremely cold) and another 4 hours on the plane during which time we were only offered 1 cup of water and a bag of pretzels, and the air conditioning needed to be turned off for de-icing so it became very hot. During this "11hours 55 minutes" we were only provided with one £5 voucher for refreshments. You notice that I have stated this "11hours 55 minutes" this is because we managed to take off just before any compensation claims would need to be paid. We finally made it to our cabin at 3.30am the following day. Cabin Whilst the layout of the cabin was good there was less space than we are used to with similar grade cabins with other providers. Our cabin did his best to keep the cabin clean but the carpet was filthy and every night the cushions were put under the bed on the filthy carpet before being put on the bed again the following day. We had to request more shampoo and soap and we were told that the shampoo could not be replaced until he could hand the empty bottle in, which was not convenient when two female are on board for a month and wash their hair every day. Food Your promotions state the following which is misleading: Dining P&O Cruises is passionate about food - so prepare your taste buds for a treat. All of our chefs have been inducted into the Chaine des Rôtisseurs and the cuisine they create has been inspired from around the globe. They use only the finest ingredients in their kitchens and will keep your holiday full of mouth-watering flavour. Each of our superliners has a tempting medley of venues for you try and culinary adventures for you to experience. This is just a quick overview of the level of dining available on board, for full details of our dining options click on the link. Breakfast - Selection limited - Food cold - Plates often unavailable and dirty - Cups often unavailable and dirty - Cutlery often unavailable and dirty - No service - Tables not cleaned regularly - Pastries were not edible - Fruit was often not ripe - First two weeks we had back bacon second to weeks only very fatty streaky Dinner - Selection limited - Food cold & tasteless - Cutlery often dirty - Service not professional - no recommendations made, often couldn't remember who had ordered what - Not sure how they could make potatoes taste so poor We eventually learned that if we wanted hot food in the dining room you had to order the steak as this would be cooked to order, and if you wanted food that wasn't bland overcooked or cold that you paid extra and ate in the speciality restaurants. The speciality restaurants food and service were of a standard that I would have expected in the main dining room - Wine service - Service not professional - no recommendations made, and on the first evening I was asked to choose my wine for the second days meal. When I replied that I didn't know what that I would be eating I was provided with the next days menu and told that it would be better if I ordered it then as he was very busy! Your promotion states: We wouldn't be where we are today, Britain's favourite cruiseline, if it wasn't for our team. Regardless of how impressive our ships are, if we didn't have the high levels of service that we do on board, our passengers wouldn't come back, but they do. Time is invested in our carefully selected staff. Before they step on board, they are inducted into P&O Cruises through a comprehensive on shore training programme. Once on board the training continues with On Board Trainers visiting each ship for up to a month at a time to ensure your holiday cruises with us are truly special. You will find a passenger to staff ratio of 2:1 on board equalling an intuitive, but unobtrusive service at all times. From our British Officers to skilled galley staff, all are completely professional and nothing is ever too much trouble. This is misleading most of the staff could not speak good English. They are on 9 month contracts and work 12 hours a day 6 days a week. Bearing in mind we were sailing for 28 days, they didn't remember our names or drinks and I think we got 3 Merry Christmases and no Happy New Years! If the ratio was 2:1 some people must have had 20:1 as staff were no where to be seen and we spent most of our time getting out of there way as we were made to feel we were inconveniencing them by asking for anything. Your promotion was misleading as it states: An eye for detail With so many companies offering holiday cruises, what makes P&O Cruises a cut above the rest? Maybe it's because we think the little things are just as important as the big ones: • Providing personal in cabin pamper treats - Not sure what you mean by this - there was a chocolate on our pillow but nothing more than this! • Ensuring your glass is never empty at dinner - We had to serve ourselves a lot of the time as the wine waiter was too busy • Producing a daily ship's newspaper with the latest headlining stories - this was often not available and we usually had to go back 3 times during the day to try and obtain it • Stewards who remember your favourite drink - Never happened as the staff e=were not interested • Turning your bed down every evening - Yippee this one is true! When you combine these with our other unique touches we hope that you will agree our service is second to none.- totally disagree - I don't believe we received any more service that you get at MacDonalds Your promotion states the following which is misleading: Cruise entertainment P&O Cruises offer the very best in cruise entertainment. Evenings are the social highlight of the day when you are on board a P&O Cruises superliner. When the sun goes down your ship begins to come alive with the hum of conversation and music, and you can be sure you are in for a memorable night with our on board cruise ship entertainment. Our fleet presents an exciting range of venues and cruise ship entertainment: Cocktail bars, nightclubs, casinos and theatres; Live bands, dramatic musicals and deck parties; Cabarets singers, comedians and speciality acts; Classical recitals and concerts; Quizzes and panel games to play, with prizes to be won; Special theme evenings including tropical, 60's & 70's or Black and White Ball themes; Cinemas and games rooms. Diverse and fun, each ship has its own distinctive signature venues and experiences. So chat into the small hours or hit the dance floor. The special ambience of evenings on board will ensure your nights will be sociable and filled with entertaining fun. There was no nightclub - someone played records after the cabaret finished so there was no atmosphere at all The tribute bands were very poor The casino was so small and was tacked on to the end of a bar that held quizzes and karaoke so there was no glamour and no atmosphere There was no cinema - a film was played in the cabaret lounge - this was delayed for an hour as they couldn't get the "projector" to work - not very 21st century You bill this cruise as "sophisticated" several times we heard passengers refer to it as Butlins at sea which is much closer to the mark. To say that we were very disappointed would be an understatement. My sister and I are both self employed, so to take a month off meant that this was a very expensive bad experience. I have read the comments from other "customers" and the comments seem to be very similar to those I have made and yet somehow you have recorded them as 5 stars. Most of the people we spoke to, like us, were so disappointed they may never cruise again. We made several complaints on board ship and to date no one has responded therefore at this stage I am copying in the Advertising Standards and Watchdog in the hope that other people do not get the same disappointing experience Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
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 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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