As two first time cruisers, celebrating 3 special occasions in 2013, we were so excited to be heading for the Caribbean in January 2013 on the P&O Ventura. We had planned and prepared for this cruise for 18 months and it was such a big disappointment. I would recommend that anyone thinking of going on their first cruise to research yourself thoroughly before you jump on board. We had gone to a specialist cruise shop in Liverpool and the advice given to us failed in the first instance as the wrong cruise company was recommended. We wanted a ship with the “wow” factor, including the wave pool, rock wall, indoor mall, but P&O ships don’t offer these services… We now know we should have chosen a Royal Caribbean ship for a number of factors.
The beginning of the holiday started well as we boarded our charter at Liverpool Airport (this was a test schedule). The flight to Barbados airport was ideal and the transfer from plane to ship went smoothly bypassing Barbados customs to transfer directly to the ship. Upon boarding we didn’t experience the WOW factor and our first impression of Ventura lasted with us the whole cruise as other experiences didn’t come upto the expected standard. The general area furnishings were outdated, tired and worn and within our room (B326), the carpet was dirty, the towels threadbare and yellowed, the sheets in need of renewing as we found a hole in the duvet upon one of the changes and the balcony furniture was stained. Whilst on board we found that the ship was due for refit in March so we would it would be interested to see if passengers cruising after that refit report a significant change. Other passengers on board felt the standard against price paid was very poor. Having paid extra for a balcony and checked the brochure before hand for any restrictions, we found that our balcony was completely covered, the canopy being the floor of the balcony above. So beware of B deck balconies as this canopy stretches a good proportion of the ship. We have since raised this mis information with P&O (the fact that according to the brochure, our balcony wasn’t “restricted” in any way) and their customer service dept are not willing to accept this fact. I would recommend that if you do have a problem whilst on board then persist with the in- house team to rectify any problem, as once home, the UK based Customer Service Centre are not interested in listening to you regarding your concerns.
There were four days at sea during the 15 night holiday and we expected to take full advantage of these relaxing on a sun-lounger. This was not the case as the sun-loungers filled up by 9 am with customers reserving them from sunrise. The in-house literature requested that passengers do not reserve beds and if they are moving away from their bed for half an hour then it be freed up. Policing this request was none existent as staff weren’t interested in the distress of some customers who searched the ship and were unable to obtain a sun-lounger. Some selfish customers went as far as reserving one each in the shade and one in the sun and swapped between the two periodically throughout the day. The feedback from P&O customer services reported that “they had provided the facility to sunbathe and were not obligated to find passengers a bed!!” This issue with beds has been a major problem with other passengers on Cruise Critic Sites and has been reported since 2009 and yet P&O have made no attempt to implement a procedure for the comfort of their passengers. I wonder if this is the norm with all cruise ships but it is certainly off-putting and a bad mark against P&O for their lack of interest to rectify this problem.
Beware of Cabins on B deck as they don't receive the full sunshine due to a "canopy" above which is the flooring of the balcony above. Also the balcony creates noise if the passengers above are moving furniture etc. At least you aren't overlooked from above as the balcony doesn't jut out. However by paying extra and going for a C deck balcony, these are larger and in direct sunshine, albeit overlooked from the decks above.