A 14 nights cruise on Ventura from Genoa. We choose a cruise on the itinerary and value, and we have no loyalty to any cruise line. We tend to book late and have a balcony.
Cabin 4/5 - D614 Superior Deluxe Balcony port side midships on Dominica deck 9. Approx 30% larger than a standard balcony cabin. King bed with quality linen and pillows. We slept well - very quiet. Plenty of UK 3 pin sockets and a few US flat 2 pin 110v sockets. Large lounge area with sofa (a double sofa bed). 2 flat screen TVs - one facing the bed and one facing the lounge area. Kettle & large fridge. In the Superior Balcony grade, you get a bottle of Champagne and box of chocolates on arrival, an atlas, binoculars, robes and slippers, plus canapés and fruit once a week. Plenty of storage space and a large digital safe. Plenty of glasses etc. Housekeeping twice a day.
A reasonably sized balcony with 2 lounger chairs and a small table. The larger rooms on decks C and D stick out further than those cabins above and are hence overlooked. This is the price you pay for a larger room or bigger balcony.
Bathroom 4/5 - normal cabin size with a full size bath and shower above. Lovely White Company toiletries (deluxe balconies only). Shaver point.
Food 4/5 - Cinnamon and Saffron for evening Freedom dining. Bay Tree for fixed Dining at 18.30 and 20.30. Saffron for waiter served breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. We were allocated Freedom Dining in Cinnamon - we ate here most evenings and enjoyed sharing with new people each night, though we do like to break it up by eating elsewhere. The food and service were generally very good. There is no doubt that over time the quality of food on cruises has drifted downwards as prices and profits have been squeezed and it is perhaps no longer "fine dining", but the food is still very good.
Entertainment 4/5 - everything was good that we saw. We particularly like the Headliner shows. The main shows are very popular and you need to get to the Arena Theatre 10 min before the show starts. Often, late arrives would be left standing or sitting on the steps.
Ship 4/5 - still in good condition. Considering the ship had over 3,000 passengers on board, it never felt too crowded, except on sea days, when we were shocked at how packed the open decks were. Every sun lounger was taken and they were crushed together like sardines, with nowhere near enough deck space for all the passengers on sunny sea days. There were lots of sun loungers stacked up, but no deck space to put them. As often is the case, reserving loungers was endemic, despite warnings in the Horizon daily information sheet. Can't blame the Germans on this ship!!
Service 5/5 - we found the staff hard working, efficient, helpful and courteous at all times. Our cabin steward Amelita looked after us very well throughout.
Value 5/5 - we booked 10 days before we sailed. We had the choice of a standard balcony at £1,249 per person or £1,349 for a superior balcony - we chose the latter. Great value for a 2 week cruise Med in August including conveniently timed flights and transfers. The daily tip charge of £3.95pp is reasonable, as are the drinks prices and the fact that you can bring some booze on board at ports for consumption in your cabin.
Overall 4/5. Hard to fault P&O these days. Sure there were some minor niggles (when isn't there), but overall this was a lovely cruise with a great itinerary and we have no hesitation recommending it.
Day 1 Embarcation in Genoa - a 10.35 departure Titan charter flight from East Midlands to Genoa. We had prebooked our seats. Nice leather seats and reasonable legroom. You can purchase food and drinks on board. The flight took 1hr 45 min and was on time. No collection of bags required at Genoa airport. We were whisked swiftly though to the transfer bus. Lots of P&O staff guiding us. At the port, the cruise check-in was very efficient and we were in our cabin by 14.00. The bags arrived soon afterwards. So from taking off to being on board ship was 2 1/2 hours - remarkable. We did not go into Genoa, but had lunch, unpacked and got to know the ship layout again. All on board by 18.30 and we sailed away at 19.00. Nothing much to see on the sail out except a beautiful private yacht in the harbor with its own helicopter. There was the standard muster drill at 18.30 before we left Genoa. We ate in Cinnamon. Too tired to watch the show.
Day 2 Livorno - we docked at 07.30. Not a very pretty sail in. We have been to both Pisa and Florence a number of times before, though not cruising, so we just strolled around Livorno. You cannot walk in the Laverne dock area for safety, so free shuttle buses are provided which takes you into the centre (Piazza Grande). There is a tourist information there. You can get a bus from here to Pisa and Florence for €10 and €15 respectively. The Central Station is a 10 min walk away. We walked along the Via Grande to the central fort, which is surrounded by a wide moat. There are numerous canals in the historical centre called the Venetian Quarter. Plenty of interesting churches to visit - Santa Caterina was lovely. All on board 19.00 - sail away at 19.30. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was very good - Mark Walker, a multi-talented singer, musician, comedian and impersonator.
Day 3 at sea - we walked 4 miles (10 laps) of the promenade deck (0.4 miles per lap), then worked on the tan in the afternoon. First Formal night. Captains cocktail party, then we ate in Cinnamon. The show was The Headliners doing music and dance from well known stage shows - excellent.
Day 4 Naples - a pleasant sail into the Bay of Naples. We docked at 08.00. Gangway open 08.30. We walked to The Central Station - a 2 km stroll. and took the Circumversuvian Line to Pompeii. - one level below the main station - €2.90pp single fare. The train takes approx 20 min. The entrance to Pompeii ruins is by the station. €11 entrance including a site map. It's a huge site, so take strong shoes. We arrived there before 10.00. By 12.00 it was getting hot and busy with tours, so we left. We took the same train back to Herculaneum for a quick look at the small ruins (€11 entrance), then back to Naples and we were back on the ship by 15.00. I've been to Pompeii before, but it was my first time to Herculaneum. A nice day. All on board 17.30, with some late tour arrivals at 17.45, which didn't delay us. A nice sail away from Naples at 18.00 past Vesuvius, Sorrento, Capri and the beautiful Amalfi coast. We ate in Cinnamon. The show was an excellent trio of male singers doing classic soul and Motown sounds.
Day 5 - at sea - a nice sunny sail down the west coast of Italy, through the narrow Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily and into the Ionian Sea. I ran 5 miles around the Promenade Deck in the morning, then spent some time in the sun. Freebee canapés delivered to the room. Second formal night. We ate in Cinnamon. A fine show by the Headliners "Reel to Reel" - music from British films.
Day 6 - Dubrovnik - a lovely sail in. We docked at 08.00. There was a shuttle bus from the harbor to the Old Town (£4.50pp each way but worth it). We've walked the walls here before, so we spent a few hours wandering around the streets and the marina. It was a very hot day and the city walls looked very busy. We ate in the main buffet, as it was Tandoori night - very good. The show was another excellent set from Mark Warner. A completely different show from the one a few nights ago.
Day 7 - Venice - we arrived at 12.15. It takes a while to enter Venice and larger ships have to be assisted by tugs. It is wonderful to sail into Venice Lagoon, then along the Canal San Marco and past the Grande Canal and St Marks Square - magical. Larger ships will not be able to do this next year and will have to dock elsewhere. We got the People Mover from the cruise terminal to Piazza Roma. €1.30pp each way, or you can walk it, as it's not too far. We walked from Piazza Roma to St. Marks Square and got a Vaporetto (water bus) back €7pp, which takes you fully down the Grande Canal. We spent the afternoon wandering the streets of this wonderful city. You can get a P&O water shuttle from the terminal to near St Marks. £15 for a day unlimited use or £25 for 2 days, but the shuttle does not go down the Grande Canal, whereas the Vaporetto does. It is good value though if you just want to get quickly to St Marks square and back. Dinner in Cinnamon. The show was Reflex - the Headliners doing music and dance from the 1980's. A good lively show. Overnight in Venice.
Day 8 Venice - we met our friends Peter & Janet who were doing the same 2 week P&O cruise, but from Venice. We used the P&O shuttle boat from near the ship to St Marks. Very efficient. We walked miles around Venice and got lost again. A wonderful sail away sipping cold Prosecco as we drifted slowly along the San Marco canal and past St Marks as the sun set. One of life's great travel experiences. After dinner in Saffron (though we were allocated Cinnamon, you can mix the 2 Freedom dining locations) we had a late night drink in Metropolis. A bit choppy overnight with the win reaching a max of Force 11.
Day 9 at sea - we did 10 laps of the promenade deck. Then a few hours in the sun. 3rd formal night. After dinner in Saffron we watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - quite a good song and dance show.
Day 10 Kotor - we set our alarm for 6.15 to watch the beautiful sail in. Kotor is at the end of a narrow river valley. We docked at about 08.00. We had to tender into town. We went to The Tamarind bar and got a tender ticket. We were called about 15 mins later. It was a lovely 10 min tender ride to the dock. Kotor is a small and pretty fortified city. We walked the 1,352 steps to the top of the fortress. Fab views from the top. We had a beer and wandered around the cobbled streets. All on board 18.30 and a lovely sail away back down the valley. Dinner in Cinnamon. After the steps, we were too tired for the a show.
Day 11 Corfu - a nice sail in past the old fort. We docked at 08.00. We took a short shuttle bus to the old town €1.50 each way. We then walked the short distance to the bus station and caught a local bus to Paleokastritsa (€2.60) each way. A cab would be €50 each way. Paleo is a lovely cove and beach with clear water for swimming. We later caught the bus back to Corfu old town and spent a few hours wandering around the cobbled streets. All on board 17.00. A pleasant sail away. We had dinner in Saffron and did not go to the show, but listened to the pianist in the Atrium.
Day 12 at sea - a lovely sunny day to top up the tan. We sailed through the Straits of Messina late morning and then sailed past Stromboli at 13.00. Fourth formal night. We watched the Headliners show in the Arena theatre - a fine medley of songs by the Headliners from Rogers & Hammerstein.
Day 13 Civitavecchia (for Rome) - we arrived at 07.00. The gangway was open at 07.15. The weather suddenly closed in and we saw a number of tornados out to see. A free shuttle bus is provided by the port into the town. We have been to Rome before a couple of times (not cruising). Rome is 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way by road. I don't think you have enough time there to do it justice - much better to fly in and see it properly. We strolled along the Civitaveccia promenade to the central station and took the train to Santa Marinella (10 mins) - a pleasant seaside town (€1.10 each way). Last port return shuttle bus was 18.00. All on board 19.00. The weather was cloudy for the sail away. We had a nice meal in East (£15pp cover charge) and didn't go to the show.
Day 14 Ajaccio - we arrived at 08.00 directly on the dock. It is only a few minutes walk into the town. Ajaccio is a very nice, small town with a marina, fort and some nice beaches. We spent a few hours strolling about the tree lined boulevards. Napoleon was born here and his image abounds in bronze. You can easily see it all in a few hours. All on board 16.00. A pleasant sail away and a lovely sunset. We had the "Food & Wine pairing dinner" at The Glasshouse. A cover charge of £30pp applies which includes a glass of wine with each of the 4 courses. There is a set dining time at 18.30, but even though we had pre-chosen our food, we still had to wait until 19.20 for any food. Excellent quality food and wine - 4 courses and 4 wines, with an explanation of each course. A lovely meal in a nice setting, but I could have done without the theatrics of clapping the chefs and waiters etc. An American chap even stood up and gave a short speech in celebration of the event - not sure what that was about. Suitcases outside the cabin by 23.00 latest. There was good & detailed information regarding our disembarcation procedure.
Day 15 - disembarkation - we berthed in Genoa before 6.30. You are supposed to be out of your cabin by 07.00, but our kind steward Amelita let us stay until nearly 08.00, as she had lots of other cabins to clean already. After breakfast, we passed time by reading in the peace and quiet of Metropolis on deck 18. Disembarcation is by a colour coding system, which is announced over the tannoy. We were called at on time at 12.30 and bussed to Genoa airport. We were then led to security and passport control. We didn't even have to think what to do. Titan flight ZT9402 took off on time and we had an easy flight back to the UK.