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.