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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
We booked our cruise 2 months ago so did not have a choice of cabins but our Riviera deck 14 balcony cabin was just what we wanted so we had no complaints there. We were near the forward stairs and lifts but never heard any noise from ... Read More
We booked our cruise 2 months ago so did not have a choice of cabins but our Riviera deck 14 balcony cabin was just what we wanted so we had no complaints there. We were near the forward stairs and lifts but never heard any noise from adjoining cabins or corridors. We flew on a new Thomas Cook plane which has wider seats and much more leg room and was very comfortable on the outward journey but as the seats don't recline it was difficult to sleep on the return. You also have to pay for all your drinks apart from tea, coffee and squash, and the TV films are limited unless you pay for a film upgrade. The films are the same for the return journey too so make sure you save something to watch on the return home. Embarkation was quick and easy and we were on the ship in minutes. The entertainment on the ship was the usual production shows plus cabaret entertainers. We've seen all the shows and some of the entertainers so many times we feel we are word perfect. Why can't the shows be changed more often or each ship have their own shows? We saw all of them on the Arcadia last year. and on other ships. If P&O are going to keep employing the same comedians they should at least insist that they change their jokes. It's very lazy to keep using the same material. Even the crossword puzzles in the library were the same as the Arcadia. We were on Freedom dining and usually ate at 6.30pm so never had any problem getting a table of our choice. We never saw any queues at any time. We always managed to get a sunbed by the Beachcomber pool if there by 9am but the open decks were crowded and the sunbeds laid out like sardines. Although there were quite a few children on board we never found this a problem and enjoyed the age range of the passengers. Although we've cruised with P&O many times we feel we'd like a change of entertainment, new menus, would like to feel that a cruise is special not just a run of the mill holiday so think we might have to look at other cruise lines in future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was ... Read More
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was edible enough. On arrival at Barbados we were promptly escorted on to a A/C bus and driven to the cruise terminal. this usually takes about 45Mins, our driver decided to take the back roads and we arrived within 20 mins. Check in at the cruise terminal is my only bug bear, there must be a simplier system and I feel all passengers should be offered refreshments whilst we wait in line. especially after such a long journey. I really hate been asked to have a photo taken as we board the ship for the first time.! Who wants a picture taken after travelling so long. As we had been on Ventura several times before, we were able to locate our cabins very quickly. Cabins were clean and tidy and adequate foe all our needs A202,A206 balcony cabins deck 12. Cabin boy quickly introduced himself. we noticed our beds had been set up incorrectly, this was mentioned and was sorted upon our return several hours later. Cases arrived very quickly. Within an hour of arriving my youngest was ready to sign up to the Kids clubs. I was happy to be advised that the 9-12 yrs now had to be signed in and out { this wasnt the case previous years and i was a little dubious) I for one would not want my nearly 10 yr old wandering out around the boat whenever he felt he wanted to. I wasnt really impressed with the stickers attached to our cruise cards as they allowed only us to pick up our child. My older son is nearly 17 and I would have like to have been able to send him to pick up the younger one on the odd occasion. As usual the kids club staff were fantastic, i struggle to get my son to spend time with us on the cruise as he loves kids club so much. These staff do a brilliant job with them. I get a little fed up with some reviewers moaning about kids splashing in the pool and wandering around the ship. My kids are very well behaved and in all honesty never saw any unruly kids, but it's there holiday too its a xmas cruise, if you don't like kids dont' go on a family friendly ship. There are plenty of adult only cruises to choose from. I wasn't impressed with the pool attendants this year , they were like the naughty police and really were not needed. They just spoilt the fun for everyone. We had Freedom dining, got a table everytime. Food was adequate but not great. Enjoyed all of the specialised eateries, The white room, east and the glass house. I was disappointed that a surcharge had been added to eat at the beach hut. A little too greedy P & O. The way passengers have to queue to be allocated at table for Christmas day and new years eve, is disgusting. I personally queued for 2.5 hours, other up to 4 hours. The have immigration to a tee why can't they do the same for the tables for special days ???? Entertainment was ok. Really enjoyed Paul Eastwood the comedian and Robbie Williams tribute. A little disappointed with everything else. There is so much talent out there, why are P & O not finding it. We had excursions from the ship but we also did some of our own trips, all thoroughly enjoyed. Enjoyed all the Islands. My only other complaint is the films on the interactive TV, Jaws is over 20 years old we should'nt have to be paying for films at all after what we pay for the cruise in the first place. We are booked to go on the Xmas cruise on Brittannia I hope P & O are taking notes of everyone's concerns as certain things do need revampling. Other than a few hiccups we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on this cruise. I certainly would rather be on the lively Ventura than the boring block of high rise flats docked at the side of us on St Maarten.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and ... Read More
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and flew out from Manchester T1 early on the 6/12/2014. The chartered flights with Thomas Cook airlines went very smoothly, good quality food and service and the fact that this was chartered by P&O which meant we loaded the cases in Manchester and then didn't touch them again until they arrived at our cabin door on the ship made the flying experience really great. We arrived in Barbados to gorgeous warm sunshine and where then off loaded by P&O directly onto the transfer coach and taken directly to the port, no hassle with customs etc. on arrival at the ship we then went through a short process to take our photographs, present our credit card and be issued with our boarding cards. Again this was very swift and professional. The ship as an awesome site, biggest that we have been on. The cabin allocation again was swift but we did encounter a problem in the cabin with the set out of sleeping arrangements, we had requested a double room but where allocated a twin and unfortunately this couldn't be changed to a double due to the configuration of the lamps attached to the bedside tables, this was the main weak area of the service we received as INfeltvthat P&O didn't do enough to rectify the fault.. The facilities on board are great, choice of 4 swimming pools, plenty of sun beds, great waiter service, brilliant gym, sauna, spa and plenty of places where you could escape and relax. Food on board was good, plenty of choice and most of it served 24/7. We also used the Beech House for a small surcharge which was good, the MarconPierre and Athol Cuutcher restaraunts also seemed nice. We had early dining in the Bay Tree restaraunt at 6:30 which we found too early. Service again was outstanding but portions where a little small. Evening entertainment was good, we did the theatre after dinner then onto an internal bar such as Havanah, Tamarind or Metropolis and finish off the night with a few drinks on deck. The Headliners theatre company who performed in the theatre are a must to see, as is a comedian by the name of John Martin. Beer pric scare not bad but be aware that some of the bars do not serve draft beer, only from cans or bottles. We did feel that entertainment on board overall wasn't as good in some areas as on the Thomson ships. We where also a little disappointed by the formal evenings which didn't seem to be a celebration of a special event unlike the Thomson ships. The ship overall is neat and tidy, consistently cleaned, quite spacious and modern. The ports we visited on our Itinerary where good although some are up and coming ports which do need further development, the nicest places where St Maarten, Tortola, Curaçao, Bonaire and of course Barbados. I do still struggle to understand why the ships sail so early ( 5pm ) from some ports when the next port is only a short distance, we would have loved to stay ashore at places like St Marrten and Curaçao to get a taste of the nightlife. Same withnthe 2 days at sea on the return journey to Barbados, we could've called at one more stop on the way. All of the islands accept the US dollar but be aware that a couple of places have their own dollar so some change could be given in this currency which can only be spent on that Island. In Barbados also most prices are quoted in Barbados dollars to which there are 2 to every US dollar, make sure you ask when buying something or quoting a price for a taxi. You also need to try the flying fish in Barbados, yummy. The people in the Carribean can't do enough for you, very friendly and eager to help. Taxis are positioned at each port as well as numerous tours etc which are priced reasonably, the Beaches are stunning, the water is just as you imagine in a brochure and the climate is a steady 27 to 28 day and night, the humidity takes a bit of getting used too as does the 4 hour time difference.. Overall our first experience with P&O was good although we did feel that it could have been better, we do love the Carribean and will re visit. We would recommend P&O cruises to others and will be cruising again with them   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Once again a great pre xmas break. A good Dreamliner flight out from Manchester, very easy transfer to the ship, bags arrived in no time. We were given cabin C518 with the extended balcony, couldn't fault the cabin , the location or ... Read More
Once again a great pre xmas break. A good Dreamliner flight out from Manchester, very easy transfer to the ship, bags arrived in no time. We were given cabin C518 with the extended balcony, couldn't fault the cabin , the location or our steward Merton. 9 islands visited with only Dominica not impressing. Bonaire was particularly good with the snorkelling and diving a must for the active. The food on the ship has improved from last year. The entertainment was good from the majority of the acts, Clem Cutis was superb, but the on board P&O team were poor and appeared disinterested. The great British Sail Away, which should be a feature of any cruise, was a big disappointment with the P&O entertainment team mumbling and miming there way through most of the songs. The tales of not being able to get sunbeds are untrue it's just that some people want to congregate in the same area, the ship is vast and there are always beds to be had if you move away from the popular areas. That said there are still the selfish people who snag the beds with their towels not to return for hours. P&O have to address this issue or stop pretending there are rules. Overall great value for money, a good crowd onboard, roll on next year. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were ... Read More
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were happy with our balcony cabin on B deck and this was kept immaculate by our Steward Edward. Overall this was one of the best cruises we have done with wall to wall sunshine for the whole trip. We thought the quality and quantity of the food and also the quality of service had improved since the previous Christmas and also the standard of dress of the passengers was very high. Many ladies and girls opted for long dresses or cocktail wear even on the non-formal nights. Also on formal nights there were more men in evening dress than previously. So we were well happy. In the evenings we drank mainly in the Glasshouse or Tamarind. Prices seem to have held since the previous year both for drinks and meals in the speciality restaurants although they have introduced a cover charge for the Beach House restaurant in the evenings. This clearly had the effect of reducing the once mandatory queuing to zero and on the evening we ate there, hardly any other diners. The one blot on the proceedings was the requirement to queue to reserve your dining times for Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. I was near the front of the queue and it still took 1.5 hours for me to be seen to. Some people were queuing for up to 4.5 hours. This is appalling and P&O need to find another way of addressing this matter for example by using Cruise Personaliser. Like many others we will not be on Ventura for Christmas 2015 as we will all be on the Britannia. All in all an excellent cruise on the home from home Ventura . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We had a wonderful first cruise, with P&O on the Ventura, to the Caribbean. The cabin was wonderful (D327, Superior Cabin with Balcony), the food good and plentiful, and the cleanliness superb. We scheduled our trip to be during a time ... Read More
We had a wonderful first cruise, with P&O on the Ventura, to the Caribbean. The cabin was wonderful (D327, Superior Cabin with Balcony), the food good and plentiful, and the cleanliness superb. We scheduled our trip to be during a time when there wouldn't be many children (whom we love, but we needed some quiet time), and there were only a few onboard. The staff was very friendly and helpful, responding so positively to all our requests that we felt very pampered. We wish there had been better lectures, particularly about the history (including slavery, trade and social/political developments) of the region. We loved being on the Freedom dining plan, which meant we could dine when we wanted to, without table assignment. All the logistics were great - embarkation and then leaving the ship, luggage transfer, room assignment, etc. And the spa was fantastic! Have as many services as you can, particularly the seaweed wrap and massage and the facials! They will spoil you rotten there, which is a major reason for taking a cruise, no? The entertainment was spotty - we didn't like the comedian's sense of humour in particular, but that's not to discourage anyone. The singers were good as were the orchestra and dancers in the large Arena. Contrary to other reviews, although the ship was full, we didn't find any problem with locating sun beds to lie on. We wish we could have danced more in the Atrium, but it seemed to be allocated to structured dances for those who took lessons onboard. We also wish the Black Tie evenings were made more special than by just putting on fancy clothes. In sum, we had a great time with only minor things we would have changed if we ruled the world! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
I have just returned from a P&O Christmas Cruise of the Caribbean, and also read a review by KevinML who appears to have cruised the same. I would concur with much of his comments but disagree with others. Briefly, the dining room ... Read More
I have just returned from a P&O Christmas Cruise of the Caribbean, and also read a review by KevinML who appears to have cruised the same. I would concur with much of his comments but disagree with others. Briefly, the dining room staff, as always, were excellent; the only problems I witnessed were rude guests who treat these hard working people very poorly. Dinner, I agree, now appears to be of a lower standard. Plate service rather than silver service. Portions are smaller, no doubt to save cost and waste, and they will also serve you more/extra if you so request. No one goes hungry on a cruise! Formal nights: for me 4 is not enough, I would do formal nearly every night. The number of formal/casual nights are disclosed well in advance and can be found on your own cruise personaliser Smoking: ban it, as simple as that. The smoking "area" I observed got larger everyday as the mobile chesty coffers simply moved the ash trays to different tabels. By the end of the cruise the "side area" had expanded to half way across the deck. Ban Smoking, full stop. Prior to my first cruise many years ago, I saw this event as a holiday for the elite. How wrong and naïve was I ? This latest cruise reflected it all the more. There were hundreds of "undesirables" aboard. But, that is a result of economies of scale. When a ship so large is put into service, it needs bums on seats, and so must charge a low enough cost to do so. You get what you pay for. If you want exclusivity you must pay for it. We have paid more than double the cost of this cruise in the past, and got the quality we expected. Entertainment: poor. Venues: they were good enough. Christmas Santa: P&O cant be blamed for the late shower, it was a bit of a shame but a good time was still had by all none the less. You can get rain at any time anywhere in the Caribbean. Islands: all great, but get a little repetitive. Tortola tenders, a bit of an inconvenience, but no major issue. Next time we will have the luxury of a brand new port. Tortola is a great island, lots to see and great beaches, why miss it? Many people criticised Dominica: what a shame it's a fantastic island with much to see and do. Just walking around the market was an eye opener and great entertainment in itself, and it was free!!! Flights: again you get what you pay for, on a chartered flight. If you want better service fly direct! If you must have a specific seat on a plane then you have to pay for that pleasure/luxury. This is 2015. If the cost of booking a seat was included in the initial price, ie the cost was £90 higher, you wouldn't bat an eye lid. My biggest gripe is the noise in the cabin. As with KevinML, I have experienced D level standard cabins previously, and again I got what I paid for, no complaints there. This time we had a suite. The benefits and luxury was fantastic, but it was noisy beyond belief. Never again. DO NOT GET A SUITE MIDSHIPS ON LEVEL 14. NOISE 24/7. That is not an exaggeration. Tips: well that is the same old chest nut, do you don't you. If you cancel the automatic deduction, my understanding is, the waiters and cabin staff who look after you miss out on a chunk from the "main pot". So you MUST tip them. Secondly, the automatic rate now charged is far more realistic than it once was and acceptable. Third: what is needed is for everyone to opt out of the American disease of tipping everything that moves. If no one tipped, which is used to supplement poor paid workers, then the cruise liners would be forced to pay a decent wage to these hard working people. Of course, then the cost of the cruise would increase. heyHo! That's it, great cruise, great ship, if somewhat too big, great holiday but extremely noisy suites. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
i agree with most things the last reviewer wrote, apart from the two hour wait to get on board we were on within 30 minutes, cabin kept spotless thank you Vincent,food first class and entertainment excellent, didn't see the ... Read More
i agree with most things the last reviewer wrote, apart from the two hour wait to get on board we were on within 30 minutes, cabin kept spotless thank you Vincent,food first class and entertainment excellent, didn't see the ventriloquist but was told it was rubbish, must see the 4tunes outstanding. As for the black tie nights sometimes we felt over dressed, on the black and white night the supposed most formal, allot of ladies were wearing colourful dresses.this is by no means a posh cruise so ordinary people wouldn't feel out of place, this was what we were concerned about, but what i will say you did get a few pompous people ie in the metropolis bar, but don't let that put you off going in there its great, but you did get some on the other end of the scale to. we booked very early, being novices we thought we would get a good deal, but soon found out this was not the case, you had people booking still six months ahead and getting better prices and also more spending money, ( a lesson learnt). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and ... Read More
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and the other half went on Carnival last year for our honeymoon which we thoroughly enjoyed so we were excited to cruise again and to see how a different company compared. My top tip would be to book as late as possible, we booked 16 months in advance thinking we were getting a good deal but it was reduced by around £500 per passenger around 6 weeks before departure which was sickening. STAFF The majority of the staff on the ship were Indian which we didn’t expect, I knew there would be some different ethnicities but 95% were Asian males. The majority were friendly with the odd exception. From certain members of staff we received fantastic service, in the restaurants and bars to the salon staff. Credit to P&O. (Joel Manning Head waiter, Melissa on bar, Gracey the bar steward, Krystina the croupier). DINING Breakfast was nice, buffet style was always plentiful and cooked nicely. Formal breakfast was nice too but toast was always cold. Lunch we missed most days but made it back for the afternoon which doesn’t really make sense to me, I would have preferred a ham/chicken salad at 4pm when you have had a day lazing by the beach rather than pie/curry, sandwiches and scones. Staff were less than forthcoming when we asked for a salad which is unfortunate considering the amount of money we handed over. Our evening seating time was 8.30pm which we chose as we thought 6.30pm was too early but due to the amount of people in our party we would struggle to make it to the 10.30 show so we changed to freedom dining in the second week which we wished we had done sooner. Freedom dining is the way forward. Food was average to very good in the main restaurant, there was a starter, soup, main, dessert and cheeseboard every night. We dined in the “surcharge” restaurants after a few days as the food was starting to get slightly repetitive in the main restaurant. East was £15 each but if you book while on board they offer a bottle of house wine between two on certain nights, effectively bringing the price down to £7.50 each. Same with the White Room which we paid £25 each for, with a bottle of wine between two we thought it was well worth it. The only restaurant (excluding the buffet) were you can dine outdoor which was fantastic. Beach House (daytime buffet restaurant which converts in to sit down restaurant of an evening) was £5 per person and you had the option to upgrade from there, ie. If you wanted king prawns to start you would need to pay an extra £1.50 and if you wanted steak on a stone it was an extra £2.95 but the food was very nice. Drinks were not too expensive, glass of wine approx £4 for small and £5.50 for large, spirit and mixer around £5 and cocktails from around a fiver. Range of wines available, bottles of house went down well at £14.95. Selection of diet drinks available which was a massive plus, diet coke, 7up free and diet Tango all available. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Gym had good machines but very little free classes. It opened at 8am until 8pm which was a bit awkward as we were awake at 6.30pm some days which we would have normally shot up to the gym ready to get off the boat once docked at 8am. This was very strict as there are cabins below the gym. Only way of getting in before this was to do a stretch and relax class at 7.30am which didn’t look like it would be worth walking to the lifts for, looked more like lie down and sleep. Shame they charged £7 odd for the spinning class too and there weren’t more aerobic classes available for free. Other than that it was fine, lots of equipment, busy in the morning with everybody standing at the front doors at 8am ready to get their preferred machine. Pools were fine though were majorly busy are what I would imagine a typical Benidorm holiday would be like, definitely wasn’t what we expected. At 5pm they would do a sail away party were the entertainment staff would come out and do sing along and arm waving that was fit for a 10 year olds party. We weren’t pleased but the other 2000 passengers seemed happy with it! (Bah humbugs!). Some days there were ice sculpting which was interesting, deck BBQs and as I said some parties when departing the island. Evening entertainment was fantastic thanks to the Headliners Theatre Group, such amazing singers and dancers who kept us entertained with 4 different shows while on-board. There were also two comedians, a Tom Jones and Gary Barlow tribute and a fantastic 4 piece Michael Buble style band who were amazing too. SHORE EXCURSIONS If there is something that you really want to do, ie whale watching/boat trips/river rafting, I would recommend booking through P&O as these wont be available to book on the day. For beach trips and island tours it was massively cheaper to book on arrival at the port. There are many street vendors over 50% cheaper than P&O. DISABLED FRIENDLY The disabled friendly room was fab. It was a great size and had excellent facilities throughout, the shower room was the same size as our cabin, the mother in law was made up! Getting on and off the ship was easy enough too as there would be a steward to help out at every port. The only port she was unable to get off was Tortola as we had to use a tender from the boat to the port. She didn’t miss much to say the least! All in all the cruise was fab, I would recommend P&O for both families and couples as there was something for everyone. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
Would like to inform everyone interested in P&O and Ventura specifically that we have just had an excellent two week cruise in the Mediterranean. We had the odd complaint about specifics as usual but, overall, the holiday was extremely ... Read More
Would like to inform everyone interested in P&O and Ventura specifically that we have just had an excellent two week cruise in the Mediterranean. We had the odd complaint about specifics as usual but, overall, the holiday was extremely enjoyable. We took friends with us who had never cruised before and they had a wonderful time and want to do it again. We had been on the same ship in the Caribbean in 2009 and we found it much the same. The cabins were very comfortable with an almost complete lack of noise from neighbours either side. The cabin steward (Savio) was excellent and our room was kept lovely and clean and our towels refreshed whenever required. The food in the main restaurants was very good. We think the evening meals in Cinammon were possibly better than 6 years ago. The buffets for breakfast and lunch are always excellent. Very geared to the British taste. We did not dine in the speciality restaurants. How much food does anyone need, after all? We did not have any trouble finding a sunbed on the 4 sea days (all of which were sunny). Considering there were 4 in our party I consider this an indication that some of the claims about being unable to find a space are somewhat exaggerated. Maybe not in your most idea location but still in the sun!! People still seem to have to rush upstairs at 7am to get their towels out though! I like a short swim every morning and had no problems with the Spa swimming pool which is child free. I can see that in the height of the season the main pools would be a nightmare with too many children. Our main gripes were the prices of the drinks - which of course are ridiculous on all cruise ships nowadays and P&O's excursions and lack of information about ports for anyone wanting to "do their own thing". We went on one excursion and it was, to put it plainly, awful. £41 each for about 2 plus hours travelling in a coach and no time to look around the town we wanted to see. Heard others making similar complaints. So, my advice is - don't book excursions. Do research on the destinations before you go and use the "Hop on Hop Off" buses. Altogether a pleasant experience. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Having been disappointed on other cruise lines sailing from Venice due to the chaotic and drawn out Embarkation / Disembarkation organisation this was an absolute pleasure. We handed in our bags at Birmingham and only saw them in our ... Read More
Having been disappointed on other cruise lines sailing from Venice due to the chaotic and drawn out Embarkation / Disembarkation organisation this was an absolute pleasure. We handed in our bags at Birmingham and only saw them in our cabin. The marshalling and transfer of passengers was totally excellent and there were ample check in staff. last time there was only 3 this time there must have been around 30. If all P&O fly cruises are this easy, even though I hate the airport part, I will definitely do it again. Maybe part of it was Birmingham departures as this is a great, well organised airport to go from. All the security desks were open even early and there were security personnel waiting for us. Very different. If you haven't sailed out of Venice do so whilst you can as it is spectacular . Forget dinner (though we had the new P&O version of freedom dining - set dining room but turn up when you want) as the view is much more important. Quite spectacular and this is the third time I have sailed out but previously always had a couple of days in Venice on the way out and the way back as well. Food overall was plentiful and very good. Entertainment was not the best as we only saw the Headlines Theatre company twice ( we would go to see them every night given a chance) but the other acts were more than exceptional, especially the Motown Queens. Guest speakers were good, bar prices reasonable (cheap by US lines prices), we got to all the ports, the organisation at each was great ad the staff with the exception of 1 surly waiter were fantastic. What's not to like? This is our 5th P&O cruise on various ships and the overall quality is consistently high and the cruise value equally so We are trying the new Costa Diadema in a few weeks and are hoping that the fly and embarkation parts of the trip are as good, but past experience tells us otherwise. Hope we are surprised Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Having been on Ventura twice before I was looking forward to the cruise. I had had a balcony and inside cabins previously and chose an outside cabin for this cruise. The cabin was fine but the two pullman beds restricted movement and space ... Read More
Having been on Ventura twice before I was looking forward to the cruise. I had had a balcony and inside cabins previously and chose an outside cabin for this cruise. The cabin was fine but the two pullman beds restricted movement and space was limited with nowhere to sit in the cabin other than on the bed or the one chair at the dressing table. The bathroom was adequate and the hanging space for clothes was excellent though drawers were too few. The location of the cabin was excellent and quiet. Having taken advantage of an excellent price offered by a relatively late deal I knew there would be a 'variety' of clientele on board. However, it seems that P & O's policy of discounting certainly 'lowers the tone' somewhat. It beggars belief how some people can behave as they did, which was reflected in the number of people being ejected from the ship. Well done to P & O for doing this so discretely. I have to say how well P & O deal will matters. I understand why P & O discount fayres, but perhaps they should look at the way it is done that would maintain standards. However, on several occasions I saw inappropriate attire in the reastaurants. Silly hats and vests may be OK for some cruise lines and Butlins but if this is the direction P & O are heading it seems to be putting off the more 'traditional cruiser'. This probably sounds a bit snobby but quite frankly I don't want to spend my holidays with such people. The entertainment on board was generally very good with one ot two exceptions. The Headliners are a talented group of singers and dancers but it would have been nice to have more than backing tracks and pre-recorded vocals to support them, but I suppose it's the way the entertainment industry is these days which is driven by cost. One problem with 2nd sitting diners is that we were unable to see the shows in both the Arena and the Havana lounge due to the timings, so we had to make a choice. Meals were excellent but the withdrawal of silver service at dinner is a lowering dining standards and increases waste food. The Waterside buffet was fine but difficult to find a table for breakfast. I was a little uncomfortable with the system of deducting a set amount each day for tips 'for our convenience'. I consider myself to be a generous tipper having always tipped my cabin steward and dinner waiters with the odd tip here and there for other staff. Being uncertain as to where my tips would go I decided to remove the daily amount and was more comfortable tipping in person. I realise that this is so that P & O can reward all staff with tips more fairly, but this shouldn't be the responsibility of passengers. I doubt if I will travel on Ventura again unless it's an attractive itinerary. The sunbed saga persists and we read requests not to reserve them, but P & O do nothing to solve the problem themselves. P & O's organisation to and from ship is excellent particularly with regard to transfers and baggage. Ventura needs a quiet lounge area with comfy seating. Considering everything, I enjoyed the cruise. The vast majority of passengers on board were lovely people but the presence of a significant number of 'anti-sociables' reduced my enjoyment somewhat. I look forward to my next cruise with P & O. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our 6th cruise - 3rd with P&O. We booked for two reasons, it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary and the Ports of Call looked interesting. This was the largest ship we had been on, and like most other passengers we got lost lots ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise - 3rd with P&O. We booked for two reasons, it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary and the Ports of Call looked interesting. This was the largest ship we had been on, and like most other passengers we got lost lots of times! But it's makes for interesting discussion with others! We had an outside cabin on deck 12/A606 midship which was lovely. Bed was comfortable, room clean bathroom had everything you would need including shower gel shampoo & conditioner all by The White Company. Proper hairdryer in room. We were on freedom dining which suited our needs and most nights we were seated on a table for 6/8 people. You could have a table for two if you wanted. Food was lovely. We had one meal in Marcos White Restaurant and one meal in East......both highly recommended! On sea days we ordered breakfast in our cabin ( no extra charge for this). Other days we alternated between Saffron/ buffet.....some days it was a little awkward finding a table in the Buffet...but we always did. Afternoon tea was lovely! One tip if you go to Costa Coffee during afternoon tea you get a free cake with your coffee (but you have to ask for it). Entertainment was good, my only complaint is that people were leaving one show before the end, they were trying to rush to the next show at the other end of the ship in time to get a seat! Sunbeds are squashed together but we always managed to get two together. P&O are not very good at giving passengers that want to go off by themselves local information, I guess they want to sell you the trips, however, I believe they should at least offer some sort of map with bus numbers/stops etc. We only booked one trip...as we like to do our own thing! However, there was so much discussion in regard to travelling to Rome by yourself.....the staff saying that people can get stranded if the trains go on strike etc. it cost £90 for the two of us. It was a little rushed once in Rome and many of the older passengers found it hard to walk to certain sites and get back to the coach within one hour. We had a little excitement as Marco Pierre White and Rob Brydon were on board as P&O were filming their new advertisement. It would have been nice if the sauna was mixed, as I would had like to go with my husband. Instead I had to site by myself in the ladies sauna and my husband sat by on his own in the men's! Highlights for me: sailing into Venice, spectacular! Kotor, Montenegro just a lovely walled town, once inside there were beautiful squares with cafe/bars small shops. Would I got on Ventura again. ....yes to the Caribbean next January!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our first cruise and, on the whole, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t praise P&O enough for the extremely smooth transition from Venice Marco Polo airport to the ship. We didn’t have the usual scrum round the baggage ... Read More
This was our first cruise and, on the whole, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t praise P&O enough for the extremely smooth transition from Venice Marco Polo airport to the ship. We didn’t have the usual scrum round the baggage carousel. We just sailed through (please excuse the pun) customs, where a bored looking official gave our passports a cursory glance, and then the P&O staff guided us to the very comfortable coaches and onward to the Ventura. Our cases were delivered to our cabin later on. On arrival at the Ventura, I must admit it did feel like we were herded like cattle through the registration process. However, it was all done very quickly and efficiently and then we were on board. Our cabins weren’t ready yet but we were advised to go to Deck 15 for tea and coffee and an announcement would be made later. Unfortunately, we had arrived at lunchtime and the Waterside Buffet restaurant was packed with people. We couldn’t see one free seat. We were exhausted from getting up at 2am to go the the airport and we just wanted to sit down with a cup of tea. We scouted around for a seat and I noticed the Beach House bar outside and the fact that a few people were smoking on one side. I guided my, by now irritable, husband outside and told him to sit on a bar stool and light up. I then went and found the tea and coffee machines and we started to feel a little bit more human. Soon afterwards, there was an announcement that the cabins were ready and we went to find ours on Deck 9. We had booked a superior de-luxe cabin and we were delighted with it. It was spotlessly clean and bright with plenty of wardrobe and storage space, fridge, kettle, hairdryer, two TVs, vanity table and a sitting area with a sofa and chair and a decent sized bathroom (bath with shower). We couldn’t have been happier with the cabin. The other positive point about our cabin was the fact that it was extremely well sound proofed. You couldn’t hear any noise from neighbours. Any outside noise almost disappeared when you closed the balcony doors. The only sound we heard was if someone let their cabin door slam or if people were talking loudly in the corridor. Our steward kept the cabin spotless during our two weeks and we were always well supplied with tea/coffee/milk, plenty of clean towels etc. Excursions We did our own research before we left for the cruise and worked out where we wanted to go, train timetables etc. However, we did book one trip with P&O which was on the Genoa stop. We booked the Portofino trip which was around £63 each as there is no way we could have found our own way to Portofino easily. It was a lovely trip and we were glad we went on it, although we would have liked to have had more time in Portofino. We felt a bit rushed. For the Civitivecchia stop, we had already decided to make our own way to Rome on the train. The port authorities were very helpful in that they had set up an area where they were selling the train tickets and local bus tickets for the station bus. We purchased a return BIRG ticket to Rome for 12 Euros each, which is extremely cheap considering that the journey takes almost an hour and the ticket could also be used on the Metro and bus systems. We also purchased the local bus tickets we needed to get to the station, which cost 80 cents each. It was all made very easy and I am grateful to the port authorities for that. There were regular trains to and from Rome, approximately every half hour. To compare prices with the P&O equivalent trip in which you paid for a train ticket for a pre-booked seat and guide on the train only (basically just a train journey with help), the cost was £47 each. P&O did employ scare tactics as well on a couple of occasions. On their announcements and I think it was also mentioned in the Horizon newsletter, they kept repeating that Italian railways were notorious for sudden strikes and to make sure we had a back up plan for getting back to the ship. I understand that this is probably true and that there are strikes, but I was slightly cynical about P&O’s tactics. If you get stranded independently somewhere, the ship sails without you. If you are with a P&O excursion, the ship waits for you. In Ajaccio, we took the local open top bus tour which cost us 10 Euros each. The equivalent P&O excursion was £41 each (Introduction to Ajaccio). We took the train from Monaco to Antibes - price 15 Euros each for a return ticket. P&O Old Antibes trip - price £30 each. Again there were trains almost every half hour, except over lunchtime. Food We were allocated the Cinnamon restaurant and we went there to eat on the first black tie evening. We didn’t realise beforehand that they were promoting Marco Pierre White’s menu on that particular evening. I ordered the soup and my husband ordered the smoked salmon as starters, once we had translated the gobbledegook from the menu. The soup came and it was consomme. We did wonder if it had been made with the Knorr stock cubes that Marco Pierre White advertises. My husband had a large plate with a tiny piece of transparent smoked salmon, a small piece of lemon tied up in a muslin bag and a few other little bits of decoration. The main course was also just bits of food decorating the plates. We were so disappointed...and still hungry, so we skipped the dessert and went up to the buffet restaurant for some real food. We ate mostly in the buffet restaurant because the food was good and the choice was good most of the time. They usually had a different country’s food each night and this wasn’t a problem normally because there were other choices if you didn’t like the food from a particular country. The only problem we had was on the Tandoori night. Everything was spicy, even some of the salad choices, so if you didn’t like Indian food, there wasn’t much choice that evening. They did have a roast each evening, eg. roast beef, chicken, pork but the chef who was serving it was very stingy and only gave you a couple of very thin small pieces of meat. Entertainment Some of the evening entertainment in the Havana Bar was very good. We saw Elton John, Phil Collins and Kenny Rogers tribute acts, which were surprisingly good. In the theatre we saw a young singer called Paul Hughes who sang in the Frank Sinatra/Michael Buble style and we also went to see Tom O’Connor in the theatre as well. He is still going strong and is funnier than some of the younger comedians you see on TV nowadays. A few of the singers we saw were typical cruise ship cheesy singers and we did think that the ventriloquist act was just a step too far so we gave that a miss, but on the whole, the entertainment was very enjoyable. A Few Negatives The cost of the food on the Thomson flight. For the prices people are paying for their cruise holidays, not even a cup of tea or coffee was offered. A cup of tea or coffee cost £2.50, Kit Kat biscuit £1.30, sausage roll £3.50 etc etc. Drinks were quite expensive on the Ventura and I did notice that a lot of people were buying a drink and making it last. Also many people got tea and coffee or water from the buffet restaurant and brought them outside. A few examples of prices: Pint of Carling lager £3.85, small can of Heiniken lager £3.85, glass bottle of Coca Cola £2.50, other soft drinks £1.95. The Great British Sailaway - at the Laguna Pool and Breakers Bar area. This happened several times on our trip and was akin to Butlins holiday camp entertainment. Jolly, happy P&O entertainment people would lead a sing-along with all the happy sunbathers waving flags and cheering as the ship set sail from whatever port we were at. It was really just a promotion for whatever alcoholic drink P&O were promoting at the time but it was really quite cringe-worthy. The P&O photographers. On disembarking at each port the photographers were there to take another photo. On each black tie evening, they were there to take a special portrait photo. On another night they were taking a soft focus photo to make you look 10 years younger...and so it goes on. The photos taken on embarking and disembarking cost £11.80 each. The black tie portrait photos cost £17.95 each and the special album to collect all your photos in cost £21.00 so if you were daft enough to buy all of your photos, you could be paying around £200 over the two weeks, which is probably enough for a deposit on your next cruise! Arriving in Barcelona on a Sunday when all the big stores are closed all day. Not impressed by this. I assume it was P&O cost cutting over port fees. Also, leaving some ports early when we had a sea day the next day. Again, this could have been cost cutting. Gratuities. There is an automatic gratuity charge of £3.95 per person per day on the Ventura. For us this amounted to £55.30 each over the two weeks of the cruise. Someone we spoke to had one of his charges removed (he was there with his wife) and told us that he was met with quite a hostile response from the receptionist, but he made them take the charge off his account. He said he would rather give the money to his steward and a couple of waiters in his restaurant. You are within your rights to have the charges removed and when you think about it, it is a bloody cheek forcing passengers to pay gratuities. It is not the passengers’ responsibility to tip every member of staff on the ship. We left a good tip for our steward and we left the gratuities on our account but we would seriously consider having them removed if we go on another cruise. On the whole our experience with P&O on the Ventura was positive with just a few niggles. We have got the cruise bug now and would love to go on another one but we will do more research into other cruise companies before making our choice. I am sure there are pros and cons with all of them. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Having read some previous reviews, I was a bit nervous what to expect on our cruise, but decided to just go with the flow and make my own mind up. Well its been made up - Loved the cruise, the itinerary, the food and the other passengers. ... Read More
Having read some previous reviews, I was a bit nervous what to expect on our cruise, but decided to just go with the flow and make my own mind up. Well its been made up - Loved the cruise, the itinerary, the food and the other passengers. Our cabin was looked after brilliantly by Manuel, who would always greet us and asked how we were etc. We only had an inside cabin, but its a lot bigger than we thought and it was a pleasure to come back in the evening to the bed turned down and our chocolate on the pillow (nice little touches) and He was always very approachable if we needed anything. We were on Freedom Dining so met quite a few different people, and we always had a good time talking and listening to them all. On the odd occasion, we wanted to just sit at a table for 2, this was no problem. We were given a bleeper and told it might be 40 minutes or so - and we would go for a pre dinner drink, and every time, the bleeper would go within 15-20 mins and we would just take the drinks we had just started into the restaurant. We tried East (£15 supplement p/p) - would recommend, absolutely wonderful and also the Food & Wine evening in the Glass House (£30 Supplement p/p) This although very nice - I don't think was worth the £30 each. The food in the MDR we couldn't fault, some people say you only get small portions - but they are more than adequate, considering you can have 5 courses and always go to the buffet later! (I never needed to!) The ship was lovely, but the only thing I can say about it, is that its too big for us - I have a good sense of direction, but still found it difficult to find which way to go. The four Tunes were amazing - one you should go and watch, the rest of the shows where good, but being on freedom dining, we never seemed to get our timing right - too early/too late for shows. Loved the quizzes. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We were a group of 4 ladies celebrating our friend's 70'th birthday week on our first cruise. This cruise was brilliant, the ship was clean and well decorated, we had Freedom Dining which was great as we could eat where and when ... Read More
We were a group of 4 ladies celebrating our friend's 70'th birthday week on our first cruise. This cruise was brilliant, the ship was clean and well decorated, we had Freedom Dining which was great as we could eat where and when we wanted, we found the Saffron and Cinnamon restaurants and they were first class and our favourite.  We shared a table some nights and others were on our own, met some lovely people, only had to wait a couple of times when busy but not a problem. The staff in the restaurants and all around the ship were brilliant and very friendly and helpful. they made the holiday for us. They seemed to be mostly from India and were very friendly and work very hard. I hope the tips we all had to pay each day are evenly handed out to them and not taken to be part of their wage. They deserve to be tipped fairly. Everyone on the ship was very friendly and there was no snobbishness and luckily as we went in Sept there were no children, only a couple here and there, otherwise we would not have enjoyed having children running around and making a noise. we wanted an adults only holiday which is what we got. also there was a good age range, it was not full of old people, just a few here and there. We thought we would come home with a huge hill for drinks but were very pleasantly surprised, we had wine with dinner every night and jugs of Pimms during the day, it was very reasonable. The trips we booked were a bit expensive, glad we did them, but next time we would do our own thing as at most of the ports we were very close to the town so could easily have walked or got a taxi in. We would definitely go again and can't wait. Everything was very efficient with good organisation picking us up and taking us to airport, on trips, etc, so no worries there. We had an inside cabin which was adequate as we only slept there and got ready to go out for the day, would prefer a window next time, but definitely an adequate room for the amount of time you spend in there. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
We have just returned from our first cruise aboard Ventura. Having read some of the negative reviews I was apprehensive about what to expect - I need not have worried. The first day went smoothly from the airport to the ship (a very early ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise aboard Ventura. Having read some of the negative reviews I was apprehensive about what to expect - I need not have worried. The first day went smoothly from the airport to the ship (a very early start unfortunately). After checking in, the hold luggage was not seen again until we were on board the ship. P & O staff were positioned all along the route through Venice Marco Polo Airport directing everyone quickly to waiting coaches for the transfer. Security checks inside the port building were reassuringly efficient and at around midday we had enjoyed a buffet (Waterside) before accessing our cabin at 12.45 p.m. (after getting lost in corridors a few times - see below!) For this cruise we had chosen an outside cabin with balcony, which turned out to be a perfect choice given the wonderful ‘sail ins’ and ‘sail aways’ to follow. The luggage arrived shortly afterwards, so we unpacked essentials before exploring the glories of Venice for a few hours (using the “People Mover” near the port entrance and on foot). This was a very pleasant start to the holiday before our return to the ship in time for the emergency muster drill. We had been allocated a Club Dining late sitting in the Bay Tree Restaurant (9.0 p.m. first day then 8.30 or 8.45 after that) Not ideal dinner times for us, but we soon adapted to this, as there are plenty of daytime food options to fill the gaps, including afternoon tea. This was also convenient if, as on a few occasions, shore excursions finished late afternoon. The restaurant staff, mostly from India or the Philippines, were friendly and attentive, especially the waiters in dealing with my wife’s special dietary requirements. We were directed to a table for two, which would have suited some couples, but (for variety of company!) the head waiter accommodated our moving to a table for six at the beginning of our second week. In the Bay Tree there was enough variety in the dinner menus for most tastes and a standard grill menu every night. We were very happy with both the quality and quantity of the fare on offer. On this cruise there were four formal nights and two ‘theme’ nights, one 60s and 70s the other Tropical. There was a nice buzz around the ship for these special nights - our fellow passengers liked to dress up on the black tie and black and white nights, but were less inclined on the ‘theme’ nights. We wore some 60s and tropical attire to get into the spirit but evening casual was the norm. We stuck with the Bay Tree Club Dining on this cruise except for one night in the White Room on Deck 19. The food and service here was exceptional - in our view well worth the cover charge for that special occasion. On the second morning at (waiter-served) breakfast in the Bay Tree, we heard stories from passengers about the storm and high winds the previous week. The ship had listed alarmingly for a couple of hours before righting itself due to the water emptying the swimming pools on the open deck to one side of the ship. Disconcerting on only the second day! They lived to tell the tale, and again we need not have worried - on our cruise it was rather choppy between Corfu and the Straits of Messina (Day 5), but by then we had our sea legs. After the horror story in the Bay Tree on the 2nd day we decided to go for buffet breakfast and lunches in either the Waterside or the Beach House. These areas were very busy on some port days, but we found it interesting sharing a table and chatting. We are not sun worshippers, but there seemed to be enough sunbeds for those so inclined. There is plenty on board Ventura to keep non-sun-worshippers occupied on sea days, quizzes, films, ballroom dance classes, some retail therapy - and more food. The library is quite small but has a reasonable stock of fiction/reference for days at sea - there are quieter parts of the ship (and balcony if you have one) to just sit and chill with a book. Drinks prices (and wine packages) are comparable with the UK. The Oasis Spa treatments were high quality, but expensive. The evening entertainment it must be said was not always to our taste, very middle-of-the-road, but passengers who went to the theatre and Havana bar we spoke to enjoyed the high energy shows with the Headliners, the 4 Tunes, and some tribute acts. We caught the tail end of some shows after the quizzes in the Exchange which we went to most evenings. The entertainment staff were energetic and funny - but some passengers did take quiz nights a bit too seriously! The ports visited, the main reason we chose this particular cruise, were varied and interesting. Having previously visited Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Rome we booked organised shore excursions for places not yet seen. These were somewhat pricey, but guaranteed to return to the ship on time. More confident cruisers went ashore independently and most we spoke to had no difficulties getting around. The guides on our “Best of” Corfu, Ajaccio, Dubrovnik (sadly, the only day of rain) were very informative. The highlight trips for us were Paradise Gulf (boat trip to Portofino) and Herculaneum, which was outstanding. Apart from Dubrovnik (sadly the only day of rain), we were blessed with fine weather - there were some unforgettable moments, including wonderful scenery around Kotor (a hidden gem), sailing by Stromboli, sunrise over Vesuvius, and sailing into Venice. Ventura is a large ship and rather daunting for first time cruisers. We were provided with a “side view’ deck plan when we first went on board, but no plan views of the decks. Apart from reception staff, there were no crew members directing people to the different parts of the ship. The geography of Ventura takes some getting used to, and the signage in the public areas is limited (come on P & O, you can do this!) This said, we thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and can recommend this itinerary. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
Had a week on Ventura for our honeymoon in september 2014. Embarkation was really quick and very easy at Venice and after a seamless journey from Manchester we were in our cabin by lunchtime enjoying the view from our C deck large ... Read More
Had a week on Ventura for our honeymoon in september 2014. Embarkation was really quick and very easy at Venice and after a seamless journey from Manchester we were in our cabin by lunchtime enjoying the view from our C deck large balcony. After a good look around skipped lunch and went for afternoon tea, in the main restaurant which was nice. Lovely slightly late sail away from Venice which I think changes soon with the cruise ports being moved so appreciated the view of St Marks etc weather little rainy next day but at sea so did cookery demonstration and chilled! Enjoyed all of the ports, stayed on the ship at Rome as been before and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Sunbeds busy on sea days but getting up and out to breakfast by 8-30 meant we were able to get tow no problem at the back of the ship just above the pool. Nice spot as fab views and cool breeze. Do think in the very busy areas it should be up to P and O staff to remove towels left for more than say two hours. We tended to have breakfast and lunch in the MDR as enjoyed the service and choices were good. Had dinner in MDR most evenings - food good, but would say no better than a good pub / gastro pub at home. Did try the white room, lovely view sat outside - little dark...hard to see the menu....service good but again not overwhelmed by the food. ordered the scallops, prawn and oyster dish and asked for no oysters as don't like...waiter had to go and ask chef if he was allowed to serve without..same for my husbands request for no snails with his steak...which i found a little strange..who is the customer? Didn't realise that all of the dish was tempura battered with a risotto that tasted floury so not really anything to cut through the tempura batter. Strawberry soufflé desert ok! Wouldn't go back for the food but lovely first week wedding anniversary location wise in the open air at the back of the ship. Really enjoyed the balcony cabin on C deck with covered area then part where yes others can see down into. This meant lots of chats with neighbours and a social atmosphere. All in all nice ship, I liked the size as always something to do..would have liked a comedian one night which there wasn't. Nice bar and couple singing / guitar at the metropolis bar on deck 18 after dinner. Ship not as glitzy as say RC or Royal Princess but a nice and friendly atmosphere. Waiters in MDR not a patch on RC didn't feel as though I could recognise ours other than they were near our table. Rest of staff lovely. Heading back onto Ventura for Caribbean in March, drinks prices good and liked the fact you could bring something yourself so much better than the american ships and you don't feel so......ripped off?? all in all benefits of P and O outweigh the slight negatives in my view. Looking forward to our next cruise and as a cruise convert form skiing and non cruise holidays previously....love the fact that its like a floating island where you go to your favourite restaurants each night, there is always loads to do with mixed age ranges and you wake up somewhere different most days. If in doubt try it!   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
My boyfriend and I were new to cruising this year and have just disembarked the Ventura ship with P&O Cruises. It truly was the holiday of a lifetime and whilst we have no other cruises to compare this to, we do have reasonably high ... Read More
My boyfriend and I were new to cruising this year and have just disembarked the Ventura ship with P&O Cruises. It truly was the holiday of a lifetime and whilst we have no other cruises to compare this to, we do have reasonably high expectations and lots of previous experience of high quality holiday packages. We booked this cruise very last minute (just 17 days before embarkation!) and therefore wondered if we were too late to book certain excursions or for my boyfriend to hire a suit for the black tie events. Everything was so straight forward and easy to organise. We had access to the P&O ‘cruise personaliser’ online which enabled us to book excursions, book a reservation at ‘East’ restaurant, order a suit etc. I was very impressed with this personalised touch and the way we could see our personalised holiday itinerary at a glance before we’d even arrived. Let me get to the holiday itself! Everybody looks for different things on holiday but I genuinely believe this ship had a wide enough choice of everything to suit the vast majority of people. I personally enjoy: excellent food, engaging entertainment, space to relax in beautiful surroundings, exercise and spa facilities and a well-equipped and comfortable room. My boyfriend enjoys these same things as well as lively nightlife and the opportunity to socialise with fellow holiday makers. FOOD Ventura boasts a wide range of restaurants, both a la carte and buffet styles. AMAZING food! We were allocated a table at the Bay Tree restaurant, 2nd sitting which tended to be around 8.30pm. Reading some other reviews, I can see that some people don’t like having allocated meal times but for us it worked well. We enjoyed knowing we had a table reserved at this top class restaurant and I loved the nightly process of getting myself dressed up for the occasion! The menu varied every night (7 nights) and every night the food and service were brilliant. I am a vegetarian and was concerned that my options may be limited or repetitive. How wrong I was! I enjoyed delicious concoctions that I’ve never tried before most nights and even the soups were varied across the week, all equally tasty. My boyfriend was blown away by the food and loved the fact that he could order 2 different mains in a night if he fancied it for no extra charge! Desserts were also fabulous and varied every night. The waiter service was 5 star, with our waiter remembering after the first night that I like a peppermint tea after eating. Amazing when you consider the masses of people those waiters serve every day and the fact that they’re never on board for very long! The buffet restaurant was very good for breakfast – a wide choice of cooked food (including vegetarian sausages!), continental style food and lots of fresh fruit. We didn’t tend to use the buffet for meals other than breakfast as we were booked in at the Bay Tree but the one night we did opt to go there for dinner, we were again very impressed. We had 1 evening meal at ‘East’ and my word, it was one of the best oriental restaurants we have dined at. And we’ve been to a lot! The food was an explosion of tastes and the service was impeccable. For an extra £15 per person to dine there for an evening is well worth it. A restaurant of that standard in London would cost about £70+ per head for what we had. There is a wide variety of food available throughout each day too; including BBQ grills on some days, freshly prepared pizza to order, ice-cream and the buffet restaurants. Not to mention afternoon tea and inclusive room service. I am not a drinker so can’t comment on the alcohol available, however I love a mocktail and there were some excellent varieties on board. For just £2.50 a drink, they were the best value for money mocktails I’ve ever had. We bought a ‘soft drink’ package where we got 20 drinks for £35. Super value for money! My boyfriend had the odd alcoholic drink and was impressed with the quality but noted that they’re not particularly cheap. CABINS We stayed in a balcony cabin on deck 14 (Riviera deck). Excellent cabin with great facilities. The bed was queen-size and extremely comfortable. The interactive television gave us access to a range of inclusive films and shows and we could also order room service via the TV. The bathroom was well lit with lots of towels provided, a large mirror and perfectly adequate shower considering we were on a ship! The balcony was a very nice added luxury – the morning views were spectacular and we spent a few afternoons on our balcony playing chess (borrowed from the on-board library) and sipping afternoon tea! The room-keeping was superb and beds were made at least twice a day, with chocolates left on our pillows after every evening meal and towels shaped into animals! The cabin was spotlessly clean upon arrival and maintained to a high standard every day. We were very impressed with the fact that we didn’t see our luggage after we checked in at Manchester airport until we checked in to our cabin. The same for the journey home, we left our luggage outside the cabin the final night and were reunited with it back at Manchester airport. Very well organised! ENTERTAINMENT We enjoyed a whole host of nightly entertainment in the theatre and various bars. We enjoyed soul singers, West End style shows with singing and dancing and stand-up comedians. We also made use of the casino which was pleasantly low priced with minimum bets being just £2 for blackjack and three card poker. My boyfriend actually ended our cruise up by about £50 in the casino so that was a result! There were 2 black tie nights during our 7 night cruise and these were great fun. There were lots of on-board photographers to capture the moments and whilst we didn’t purchase any photos, we enjoyed the novelty of being treated like celebrities! In the daily ‘Horizon’ newspaper that was delivered each prior evening, there was an outline of sporting activities for the following day. Unfortunately for my boyfriend, these events were unattended and therefore didn’t take place. There are sport courts on board but my boyfriend only got to play me and a random child! I suspect people are too busy soaking up the sun to want to play sports but if they’re advertised as being on, it wouldn’t hurt the staff to try and encourage people to attend. RELAXATION Despite what some people have said about Ventura being over-crowded and packed out with children and teenagers (it is a ‘family-friendly’ ship!), we found this not to be a problem. I did pay extra for access to ‘The Retreat’, which in hindsight I’ve realised was unnecessary as there were lots of quiet areas with empty sunbeds throughout most parts of the ship. The only area I avoided like the plague was deck 15, (Lido deck). This was where families with children and teenagers congregated around the pool and it would have been difficult to claim a sunbed here or to relax as the music was always loud all day. But of course, that’s what some people love and enjoy – if I came on board Ventura as a child, this would have been perfect! ‘The Retreat’ was not at all pretentious as another reviewer claimed it to be, nor was it empty. It was actually fully booked the day we embarked and we were lucky to be able to book it. It was wonderful to have waiter service on these comfortable and well spread out sunbeds. I spent lots of time up there reading books and sun-bathing! One thing I have learnt for next time is not to use the ‘Oasis Spa’! I booked myself in for a hot stone massage on the first day. Relaxing as it was, it was not worth the extortionate price. It was as good as a massage at a ‘Bannatyne Spa’. These cost half the price charged on Ventura. There is a cheeky 10% service charge added on at the end. The first mention of this was after the masseuse asked me if I’d enjoyed the massage and I said I had. You then feel obliged to pay the extra 10% service charge. I would have preferred to know about this before I booked the treatment, had I known it would cost nearly £100 all in I would have left it! I found the ‘Oasis Spa’ to be generally over-priced for what it offered and the staff here are clearly on commission and trained to use pushy sales techniques, which was disappointing. The masseuse tried to force expensive Elemis products on me after my treatment to which I had to refuse 2 or 3 times before she accepted that I wasn’t going to buy. I took part in a yoga class one morning and have to say, it was of a better standard than my usual class at the gym! The instructor was clearly highly trained and experienced and offered a great class that I’d recommend to anyone. EXCURSIONS We did 4 excursions during our cruise. A tour of beautiful, mountainous Montenegro first. This was a 5/5 trip, excellent organisation and value for money. We saw some beautiful sights and tried some local food which was really eye-opening. We visited a waterpark in Corfu which was again, 5/5. The waterpark was one of the best we’ve been to, rivalling parks in Florida! We could have done with an extra hour there before being picked up but it was a great day. We had a tour of Rome, 4/5. It was good but just not quite to our taste as much as we expected due to the very long drive there and back and the sheer crowdedness of the city. We should have expected this in hindsight. It was great to see Rome but it was too much to cram in a day really. Our final excursion was a beach trip in Corsica. I would only rate this 2-3/5. This was because the beach was very average with no sunbeds, very over-priced beachside eateries with slow service and not a long enough length of time at the beach. We actually had to get a taxi back to the ship because we were 4 minutes late to meet the coach and our names hadn’t been written down on this particular excursion so no one knew we were missing! FELLOW PASSENGERS There were a huge range of people on board Ventura, ranging from families with young children to solo pensioners. We spoke to various people in the restaurant, the bars and ‘The Retreat’ and all of them were lovely. There was no evidence of pretentious attitudes or people being rude to staff which I’d read about in 1 review. There is a problem with people reserving sunbeds with towels on the busy Lido deck. It clearly states in Horizon that this is not allowed, so people who are complaining about this are well within their rights to move peoples’ belongings from sunbeds to sit down. My boyfriend did this one day when he wanted to sit in this area for the sail-away party. SERVICE We were made to feel like complete royalty throughout this cruise by all staff we met. They can’t do enough for you and service is always with a smile. Anyone who complains about lack of service here must have some serious delusions of grandeur because unless you expect a personal butler, I don’t see what there could be to complain about! We have already put down a down payment for next year and can’t wait to return, I would recommend this cruise ship to anyone who is looking for an extra special holiday and something truly unique. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We've done several cruises but never flown before so this one was a first for us. Check in and transfer were very efficient, easy and the luggage appeared in the cabin shortly after lunch. I packed swimmers in the hand luggage so we ... Read More
We've done several cruises but never flown before so this one was a first for us. Check in and transfer were very efficient, easy and the luggage appeared in the cabin shortly after lunch. I packed swimmers in the hand luggage so we could use the pool on arrival. Plenty of clean swimming towels are available in the Spa changing rooms. Evening meal service and menu were once again brilliant, with options on the menu for every taste, and my gluten free diet again catered for superbly. Portions are smaller than they used to be, but frankly they were far too big before. After a starter, soup course, main and desert most 'normal' people will feel satisfied. For diners who are particularly hungry the waiting staff will, if spoken to nicely, bring extra starters, deserts etc. as always I found that showing respect to others earns respect. Sunbeds did seem to be a problem on this cruise, which I have not experienced before. I put this down to the limited sea days, the fact that some people were only on board for a week, and the 'British' need to go home with a tan come what may. Whatever the reason, it wasn't really P and O's fault. I also found most people had fried themselves plenty by around 2.30 and sunbeds could easily be found on the higher decks. The buffet as usual was busy and it is difficult to find a table. Which is why we always use the main dining rooms at breakfast, and at lunchtime. Most lunchtimes the restaurant was half empty. The choice was excellent as usual, with light snacks and more filling options available. I never understand why more people don't use it. We find you need to choose the trips carefully. Some do offer really good value, and the companies used are all of a good quality, it is equally as easy to do some things yourself so planning ahead is worthwhile. Others,when compared with the DIY option are a bit pricey, either way, the choice is yours. There isn't a big sell on the trips. Overall the ship was clean, staff friendly and we mostly met lots of like minded and pleasant fellow travellers. I would echo comments made by the smoker passenger who commented on the limited areas for smokers. I'm not a smoker, P and O have really listened to feedback in the last couple of years, smoking in cabins and on balconies is no longer permitted and passengers who are rude and disrespectful of others tend to out number the smokers ! Thanks P and O. Another great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help ... Read More
As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help us and interact with our daughter at every step of the way. So lets break it down - We arrived in Venice and had a walk around having spent the night in a hotel and got on the ship around 2ish. The check in process and embarkation were a breeze, plenty of staff around and helpful dock workers taking our bags for loading. We explored the ship for a bit and made our way to the cabin for 3 o'clock and our bags were already there and waiting. Riviera deck inside cabin R744 Breakfast is a self service affair with a choice of fresh fruits, cereals, muffins, meats, cheeses, smoothies and full English breakfast and according to my wife a horrible porridge personally all porridge is horrible so….. There is a continental side at the aft of the ship with waffles apparently however this seemed to finish at 7.00am and we missed it every day. We mainly attended the mid section of the ship. This was the only time that you can get access to anything other than water coffee or tea free of charge with pure orange, apple and pineapple available. Lunch is the same sort of setup as breakfast with a mixture of hot and cold food and usually with a curry or something as well High tea - sandwiches, cakes, scones and cream……… all good………not for the waistline though…. Dinner - We ate at the Bay tree restaurant on the first sitting our waiters Mark and Sheldon were amazing and never stopped trying to play with Faye (our 2 year old) and make her smile. It took all week but eventually she was high fiving and laughing at them. The food here was rich and well presented with a standard classic menu that was always available and a menu that changed daily. It could have done with a little more variety by the end of the first week. The children s menu had a good selection of standard foods like fish fingers, burgers, chicken breast and you could pick and mix to create your meal with vegetables and potatoes etc. We only used the bay tree in the evenings and should have tried the buffet selection for the evening meal. As the first sitting meant we missed every sail away party and a few other events. The food arrives quickly and no sooner than one course is cleared the next is arriving which can make it feel a little rushed. On the first formal night we had a guest menu from Marco Pierre White - however we found it lackluster and the 2nd formal menu had nothing special about it which was disappointing as we had expected something from East. Speaking of which we booked a table there and included for our 2 year old - the food was simply spectacular. Everything we had hoped for the menu was varied and Atul actually visited each table chatted with guests and posed for photos. In hindsight we should have checked out the evening menus at the restaurants before deciding what to do for dinner. They were posted outside and its normally only a slight detour to check whats on or go for the buffet and then go play. Our daughter would have benefitted from this as she could have gone to play with Mr Bump or the family disco sooner. Entertainment - There was plenty to do on the ship had we ditched our daughter. Not much in the way of family events to get involved with at least not for a two year old. However she loved the Reef kids club and the staff there were brilliant with her. The events whilst not spectacular were definitely entertaining. Trying to keep track of what was going on was tricky. The horizon newsletter that is distributed each evening with the listings could be a bit better laid out as tracking what was going on was done by time rather than rooms and areas. There were plenty of bar areas to relax and unwind and the Tamarind and Havana were good places to sit and listen to different music acts and a cinema in the afternoon. Now we have done it once we would certainly have a better idea how to organise our time better the second time around. Cabin and service - Simply excellent, The cabin was always clean with fresh towels and we even got some jelly beans for the little one and a balloon on the first night which she loved. Every staff member from the backroom cabin crew,cleaners and the plumber that we met to the waiters, bar staff and officers were all friendly approachable and couldn’t do enough to help. I could write suggestions and improvements for ages but suffice to say we had a blast – it might not be as fancy as other cruises but we loved it and were already discussing another one on our trip home. One thing make time to visit the Spa the ladies and treatments were awesome - I would highly recommend the hot stone aromatherapy massage in particular (I had 2) when you go say hi to Edyta for me! :-) John, Kelly & Faye   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
First time on a cruise bit daunting what to expect! P & 0 are very organised from embarking the ship to disembarking. You check in your luggage at the airport and then don't see it until its outside your cabin door. You barely ... Read More
First time on a cruise bit daunting what to expect! P & 0 are very organised from embarking the ship to disembarking. You check in your luggage at the airport and then don't see it until its outside your cabin door. You barely felt the ship was moving. Breakfast & lunch was very busy you had to find a table but there was a large choice of food for everyone. We dined in the Bay Tree restaurant every night 2nd sitting at 8.30 which suited us. Excellent choice of food & service from Deepak, Edison and the Sommelier. We informed P & O beforehand about our daughter's dietary requirements and we had excellent service from Awkash Thank you. Entertainment was very good; there was lots of choice from West end shows to a ventriloquist. Prices of drinks was the same as the UK Cocktails (£5-6) and bottles of wine were from £12 upwards. Lovely room champagne & chocolates on arrival, Vijendra, our cabin steward, excellent nothing too much trouble, we loved the elephant and rabbit towel folding thank you. We went to Pompeii, Dubronvik and Venice but booked the trips beforehand,very good trips. Even though the trips seemed expensive, it was worth paying for because you didn't have to queue for tickets and the guides were very knowledgeable of the area and friendly. The sail into Venice was fantastic. We found the sunbeds no problem to find but on sea days it could be a problem as the sundecks and the pools are very busy and so are the restaurants. Lots of people reserving sunbeds even though P&O were telling people not to. During our cruise, we tended to avoid the pools as there were lots of children there and some were throwing objects like hard tennis balls and there was a chance they would hurt you. In conclusion, the cruise was worthwhile because of the fantastic trips and excellent service. Unfortunately, as my family enjoy swimming, the pools were a let-down and if possible, P&O should have people supervising the pools to make them safer and more available to everyone.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
My wife Tracey ,daughter Olivia (11) and I decided to treat ourselves to an Italian cruise aboard the Ventura in August 2014. It was our first cruise so we were a little naive to some things but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The good ... Read More
My wife Tracey ,daughter Olivia (11) and I decided to treat ourselves to an Italian cruise aboard the Ventura in August 2014. It was our first cruise so we were a little naive to some things but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The good points; The food was mostly excellent! We dined in the Cinnamon restaurant in the evening as we had excellent service from the friendly and efficient waiters and wine steward. We used the upper deck restaurants for breakfast and lunch, so we could stay dressed casual. The food here was very nice, but not as good as the formal restaurants. We are early risers so we did not find breakfast and lunch much of a busy hassle. The biggest problem at times was finding an empty table, once you had chosen what to eat. Juice is only served at breakfast, chilled water during the rest of the time. Of course there is coffee (very nice) and tea of all flavours served during all hours. I found all savoury dishes tasty, but some of the sweets were a little lack lustre. We are not wealthy, but found the prices of wine, beer etc, reasonable to that what you would pay at home. Pint of beer £3.50 average bottle of wine with evening meal £18 -£20 and cocktails £5.50. We found the entertainment very good, especially the ventriloquist who was brilliant. All of the waiters around the pool and in the restaurants worked very hard and always there to get you a drink or take away dirty plates and glasses. I found all of the guests, from all walks of life to be very friendly and respectable. We try our best not to be judgemental with other people and as such we found everyone friendly and easy to talk to. I just do not understand some people who deem to judge other people because of their appearance and who just seem to nit-pick at every minor point. If you want friendly and respectable company to accompany a family friendly cruise, the Ventura is for you. If you prefer a ship that is more geared to formality and peace and quiet, then maybe choose a smaller and a more expensive ship. We visited Sorrento on the trip to the farm (we were the last to get on the trip). Well worth it and Sorrento is so picturesque. We did not pay for the excursion to Dubrovnik, just paid for the shuttle bus to get us there. It’s a small town you can explore easily yourself. This is well worth visiting and for ‘Game of Thrones ‘fans, there is a guided tour showing you the locations of some scenes. Finally, Venice is a must and I was very pleased to manage to get places for this visit that included a ride on a gondola. However, it would have been much cheaper to just pay for the shuttle boat to get you onto land and make your own way around. As we entered St. Marks square, the bells began to ring and it was just magical. This is a memory that will stay with us forever. Tips for a better cruise; We had to wait a few hours for our luggage to be delivered to our cabin once on board – about 2-3 hours. Our cabin steward helped and brought them to us within half of an hour of asking him to find them. We will remember to pack our bathing costumes in our hand luggage next time, along with a few toiletries. We struggled to get onto some of the excursions as we had not pre-booked on line before the holiday. Florence and Pizza were completely sold out. We could have tried to make our own way, but Florence was over an hour away and we were a little nervous of getting back in time for the ships departure so we stayed on board. However, it was very relaxing during the day and plenty of room to relax and explore the ship. We had an internal cabin, which was adequate with just enough room for the 3 of us. However I think we would get a bigger room for a 2 week cruise. We actually saved approx £500 in one week booking an internal cabin this instead of getting a balcony and a bigger room, which we were pleased with. If you are booking a balcony room, ensure that it is not overlooked and a higher deck would give you better views. We were on the Riviera deck near the top of the ship, which was great as we were near the pool decks. Our cabin steward Angelo was very friendly and nothing was too much trouble. Our extras including drinks, photos and excursions etc. came to approx £650 in one week. We only had 1 bottle of wine with our evening meal so we didn’t bother with the drinks package and we had the benefit of ordering what wine, spirits or beer etc. we wanted without sticking to a pre-ordered package. I think when you buy a package deal with wine, drinks ice cream etc. it just makes to drink more. Finally during days at sea the pool area is naturally very congested. Get up early to get a bed near the pool or you will struggle. Yes the beds are placed close together, but they are comfortable and big enough for you not to be touching your neighbour. We slept in one day and found no beds by the pool, but an older couple near us gave up some of their beds that they were saving for the kids, which I thought was a very kind gesture. People do place towels on the beds, but the ship’s rules state that you can remove them if you wish. I think my wife and I would like to cruise again as it is our silver wedding anniversary next year.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Having read many reviews on here I was tempted to cancel!!! However we reluctantly went expecting the worse however we had a fabulous time and could not fault it. Food was excellent waiters were friendly efficient and professional. Cabin ... Read More
Having read many reviews on here I was tempted to cancel!!! However we reluctantly went expecting the worse however we had a fabulous time and could not fault it. Food was excellent waiters were friendly efficient and professional. Cabin was spacious clean and comfy plenty of towels everyday nice white company toiletries Cleanliness was second to non hand gel readily available Entertainment was also excellent Spa tooooooo expensive Drinks reasonably priced Formal nights lovely good to see it is still on cruise ships and not a lots of scruffy baseball hat to dinner type people!!!!! Speciality restaurants no better than the dinning room in my opinion Ports wonderful Organisation brilliant I am well travelled it is not my first cruise either only god knows why some people complain about everything ... All in all would feel very blessed if I could go again a great British ship which I would support very good review !!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
OMG!! I LOVED THIS CRUISE!!! This is our third cruise line company, having previously experienced Carnival and Royal Caribbean, it was SUCH a delight to board a luxury ship aimed at the British customer. UK airport check in was smooth and ... Read More
OMG!! I LOVED THIS CRUISE!!! This is our third cruise line company, having previously experienced Carnival and Royal Caribbean, it was SUCH a delight to board a luxury ship aimed at the British customer. UK airport check in was smooth and painless with a P&O Rep to quickly guide us through. The plane was sub-contracted specifically for the cruise passengers, so everyone onboard was excited to be experiencing the same holiday, especially as you can see the ship as you come in to land, (if you are lucky enough to be seated on the right hand side of the plane). Transfer from Venice airport to the cruise port was reasonably swift, and a fairly easy check in and embarkation. You are immediately bombarded by the cheery photographers who constantly take your photos throughout the cruise, (bless them they have a job to do). Luggage delivery to the cabin was slow, but gives you plenty of time to explore the unbelievably amazing ship. We had 7 days to explore, and still didnt see everything. To be really honest, I actually cant find anything negative to say about this cruise. The food was completely amazing, truly delicious, varied and plentiful. The chefs and Maitre D are so helpful if you have an allergy and make every effort to provide safely prepared dishes every night. ALL the public areas are immaculate, with staff constantly (but discreetly) tidying, painting, cleaning. The decor is beautiful, the evening entertainment is superb, all British entertainers. The 4Tunes quartet were West End quality, dance shows great, and two fantastic northern comedians, we almost split our sides laughing. Daytime entertainment is really good, you have GOT to participate in the sail away party, that really is a blast. Loads of shore excursions to choose from, (a bit pricy but that's standard on cruises). Staff are so helpful and happy, nothing is too much trouble. Cabin was kept immaculate and was of a high standard. Fortunately we only encountered one rough night where there were a lot of poorly tummies onboard! Provisions were made for these people and any mess swiftly cleared up!! I was SOOOOOO pleased with P&O, compared to the majority of other ships that are much more focused on American passengers, that I booked another P&O cruise whilst onboard for the new Britannia launching next year. All in all, a fabulous holiday, cant wait til next year! Well done P&O. 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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