I am new to this site, I have read many of the posts but have only just joined.
I thought I would post a positive view of Ventura to maybe reassure those still to sail on her. It's a bit long.
We cruised on her third cruise Canaries Discovery and it was one of the best cruises we have ever had.
We have cruised mainly with P&O on most of the ships in the fleet and as a family group are made up of two over sixty and two mid thirties so can give a good overall experience.
Two members of our group have previous sailed on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Sea's, which is the same size as Ventura and were a little concerned before we went that we would not like the ship, as we hated Navigator. We need not have worried Ventura is a beautiful ship well laid out and is a cut above, in our opinion, to Navigator.
We arrived at the port earlier than ever before before check in had opened, no problem getting into the port. The queue was outside the door but when we finally got to the door we were quickly directed to the Gold desk which was empty and we were on board in about 15 mins.
You enter the ship for the first time at the atrium and being gold members of P&O we were directed in The Tamarind Club for gold drinks, this was a definite wow first impression. We had a cabin on P deck for the four adults in our party and it was very spacious compared to some of the other cabins we have had on the other P&O ships. The new style open plan walk in wardrobe is a huge improvement we usually struggle to get all our clothes hung up. Drawer space is severely lacking but the shelves in the walk in wardrobe do make up for this. Bathroom is snug but adequate, open shelves instead of a cupboard but a decent size. Temple Spa shower gel instead of the previous Molton Brown, OK but we did prefer the Molton Brown and will be taking our own in the future.
The position of this cabin turned out to be ideal, just off the atrium so no long walks from one end of the ship to the other and it was handy for many of the public areas.
Tazzine is a great coffee bar, which utilizes the squishy atrium seating as well. Good range of coffee and snacks. Very popular.
The Atrium spans three decks and has mood lighting which changes colors and thus changes the look of the area. Well used at the bottom with seating for Tazzines and could also be used a s seating for the library.
Small and no seating, but it is very light and open plan and extra seating is not really appropriate as there is plenty in the Atrium. As a bookshop it was in my opinion very lacking in bog standard paperback holiday reading (I run a bookshop I should know) Very heavy on notebooks and gift books which all have their place in a book shop as long as it is big enough for it not to impact on the book range. Lots of Macro Pierre White cookbooks.
Didn't use this, wandered in late one night just to see what it was like, plenty of machine and well laid out.
This in my opinion is a welcome addition, rather than random pieces appearing and those dreaded art auction, pieces are displayed properly and are not of the usual artists seen on all the other P&O ships. Talks were given and at no time did you feel pressured into buying, it was more about learning about the art. It is situated just off the atrium and as our cabin was that way we walked through several times a day and the people in there are very friendly.
This was the freedom dining restaurant and we only used this restaurant once, for the Gold Portunus Lunch. As with all the restaurant it was well laid out and tastefully decorated.
This was one of the club dining restaurant and the one we used for breakfast, again well laid out decorated and done out in light wood.
Bay Tree Restaurant
This was our restaurant and it is slightly awkward to get to. You have to go up to Prom deck walk to the back and then go down a deck, as this cannot be accessed any other way. Strange at first but we soon got used to it. (Did hear a lot of moaning about this though) Shops
A fair mix of stuff, however the daily specials were very repetitive.
The Red Bar was one of our favorite places, expensive drinks in the evening and coffees during the day. Comfy chairs and squishy sofas. Cool dEcor with columns of lights and red smashed glass tables.
Only used this bar one, seem at little under used on our cruise, very nicely set out with several separate areas. A drink under the olive tree is a must.
This was smaller than we thought it would be but we never had any problems getting a seat, middle show very popular.
The Tamarind Club.
This was a sumptuous lounge, excellent for the afternoon films and was then used mainly for the comedy club in the evening. Very popular. Used for dance lessons during the day.
We spent quite a bit of time in here during the evening, mainly for the shows which were great.
This was our favorite bar for the evening, you do have to get in there quickly as due to its size and popularity it soon filled up. The video wall is brilliant, granted some places were more interesting to look at than others and the need to change the picture more often but it was a great talking point.
We kept meaning to go up here but never managed it.
The Beach House/Waterside.
A little disappointing on size and choice, a lot smaller than we had expected but we managed OK. Should have been more like Arcadia.
Excellent venues for alternative lunch food. A little limited on choices and a few menu changes would have been nice.
We swim every morning at 7ish and so tried all the pools to find the one we liked best. Never tried the one at the back but the Laguna pool was our favorite. All the pools are very deep and we could not touch the bottom in any of them. Tried out the endless pool, very good idea but the design of the bottom of the pool is poor.
One of our party used this every morning and found it be be OK but did miss the hydrotherapy pool that you get on Arcadia.
We thought the promenade deck was a little on the thin side but adequate to walk around, the bit at the front was fun.
There was no shortage of sun beds and lots of different areas depending on what you were looking for.
The food was excellent, we did not use East or the White Room as the menus did not appeal. The range of drinks has improved and it was fun trying all the new cocktails
We had brilliant staff where ever we went, much more friendly than we have experienced in the past. There was a lot more staff working the decks so you never had to wait long for one to wander past your sun lounger.
Ventura is a great addition to the P&O fleet and she should be viewed as a ship in her own right and not compared to the others in the fleet. We have noted several things that we feel would have worked better from the other ships but do not compare her in any other way.
There were only 137 children on board when we cruised on her and it may feel a different ship with a lot of children on board but there are plenty of places to go for a bit of peace.
Go to have a good time and you will.
Hope this helps reassure those still to travel.