Having read several reviews, we were very concerned that we had made a poor choice in booking a P&O cruise. Talk of "chavs" and "Butlins" filled us with dread - whilst reports of poor standards on board had us dragging our heels to the departure lounge.
Wrong I'm afraid....
As part of our "package" - we stayed overnight in Mestre before joining the ship in Venice. Arriving at the port just after 11am - the embarkation procedure was completed efficiently and we were taking our first tour of the Ventura by 11:30am. Like the majority of other passengers we were encouraged to head for the buffet restaurants for our first meal on board. The same restaurants remained extremely busy for the remainder of the cruise. Whilst we acknowledge the efforts of the staff to keep an even flow of food and passengers - the general standard was adequate and on par with the budget "eat all you like" establishments back home. Just ok....
For a more refined and quiet dining experience we opted to go to the Bay Tree Restaurant for most of our meals. The food was excellent - as were the waiters. Nothing was too much trouble.
We avoided afternoon tea - but enjoyed the poolside grill for a lunch time snack. Unfortunately the pizzeria remained close throughout our stay.
Our inside cabin was ready to occupy by 1pm and we were expertly looked after by our cabin steward Darryl (Deck 12-Aft). Slight vibration experienced as described by other passengers in this forum - but not too uncomfortable. The cabin itself was comfortable and reasonably spacious.
The Ventura takes a bit of navigating & we were often confused by dead ends! However we soon learned that deck 7 was the centre of the Ventura universe - and you could find most facilities from here.
Ok - we have covered dining and cabins.....
The ship was full to capacity - and for most of the time we did not feel over powered by the volume of people. We were able to get seats at the entertainment venues etc, but experienced difficulty in getting a sun bed on sea days. Despite appeals from the staff about reserving beds - passengers were hoarding spaces with the flair of our German friends on the Costas...! My husband & son dared to leave their bed for a quick swim and some one complained that they had abandoned their beds. Pot - kettle....!
There was a wealth of activities offered throughout the day. Sometimes it was hard to choose. I used the spa once - watch out for the special offers in the Horizon magazine. The men enjoyed sports, used the gym, watched films etc. I was happy to go along to seminars and dance classes. Something for everyone...
As the daytime activities wound down - the ship took on a different vibe. Formal nights had an air of sophistication and it was great to see everyone in their finery. We mostly went to the shows in the Arena theatre: a male group called 4-Tunes (very good), cheeky comedian Peter Piper and the P&O theatre company: Headliners (superb). There were also tribute acts and vocal groups at other venues who were also very good.
Port days were quieter on board. We enjoyed all ports - and were able to visit most on foot. We booked an excursion to Rome - as this was more difficult to manage ourselves.
All in all we were very pleased with our first cruise experience and would not hesitate to travel with P&O again.
Clean, comfortable and a reasonable amount of space. My son used the over head Pullman bed which was made up every night by our cabin steward. Good use of mirrors to crest an illusion of space.Sufficient space to hang clothes - although I'm not sure if this would be the case for a two week cruise. Other reviews in this forum note experiencing some vibration. I would agree - although this was not uncomfortable.