My wife and I decided to experience a fly/ cruise with P&O and made our way to Venice to join the Ventura cruise ship as she sailed to various destinations over 14 days. Pour only previous experience with P&O had cruises departing from Southampton and it was a bit of a trek for us as we made our way from our home in Belfast to Venice via London gatwick. This would be our main negative in that it took is almost 12 hours to complete this journey on the outbound leg and 10 hours on our return. More departures from Belfast airports would encourage a lot of new business for P&O.
When we eventually made it to Venice to board the ship we were pleasantly surprised at how easy the whole process was, because it was a fly/cruise passengers were arriving at different times of the day and this prevented any large build up and the need to wait in queues. It only took us about 10 minutes from we entered the terminal & completed paperwork until we boarded the ship. Quick and painless.
The Ventura is one of the largest ships in P&O,s fleet and at first we were a bit daunted by its size and the numbers on board but to be honest we never experienced any feeling of being crowded of had any delays when visiting any of the shows, shops, theatres, restaurants or bars. We were also told that there were up to 600 children on this cruise but thanks to a great children,s entertainment programme we hardly ever saw any of them and could not say one negative thing about them.
Our cabin was spacious and was kept spotless by our cabin steward Sorcorro, it had all the necessary requirements, ample wardrobe space, fridge, free safe, interactive tv & tea & coffee making facilities, there was also the essential daily copy of the Horizon which detailed all the events happening on board on a daily basis. The various restaurants were excellent and the food and service were of the highest quality, we had opted for the newly introduced "Freedom Dining" which allowed us to dine in the formal dining rooms anytime between 6pm and 9.30pm, we could also give our preferred table size each day from dining in a romantic twosome (it was our 40th wedding anniversary) to dining with up to 8 other guests. We varied this over the cruise and met some lovely people from all parts of the UK and also has some time on our own.
The entertainment overall was very good with some acts being excellent and some being good, our favourites were the comedians and special mention must go to Carl Scofield in week 1 and to Tucker in week 2, both should be on tv, we were in stitches. We also really enjoyed the Beatles experience, Vocalist Laura Carter and ex-Brooksider Sam Kane. There were also some individual tribute acts and these were good without being great. The highlight of any evening had
On to be the main theatre shows and here the Headliners Theatre Group stole the show, all the performances over the cruise were outstanding, singing, dancing, storytelling, fantastic sets & customer changes, superb. Our only complaint was that they were not on every night and only occurred on about 6 occasions furring the cruise.
Casino facilities were very good and easy to follow and we had a little flutter or two , almost breaking even at the end of our stay.
There were a number of organised tours in each destination and while they looked quite good they seemed to be pretty expensive, being experienced cruisers we tended to do our own thing and on occasions combined with other guests to make up the number and use the taxi buses waiting at most of the ports.
Using this transport we managed to visit Rome and see all the sights (St Peters, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Colosseum, Roman ruins etc) at our leisure and all for 35 Euros each. In other poets we also used this transport to visit Pisa, Florence, Pompeii & Dubrovnik.
We would highly recommend this cruise to anyone interested in seeing a lot of places in a relatively short time.
Excellent cabin, spacious, clean, well equipped.