What excitement to think that we had managed to book on to P+O's largest ship ever. This is a British ship and Helen Mirren had named her only in April.Our Travel agent arranged for us to be picked up at the house by mini bus and then taken to Magor Services where we joined many other people all going to Southampton on the Ventura. We did not arrive until mid afternoon and with so many people to cater for the ship had set sail before we had our cases delivered to our cabin. We were not shown how to get to our cabin so we found it quite frustrating. We had booked club dining and asked for second sitting which we were told was fine. When we looked around the cabin we discovered a notice saying they were pleased to allocate us "Free Dining". This is not Free at all as one has to book the previous day. If you do not book but just arrive, then you could find yourself waiting a long time for table. We booked for 7p.m. each night and had no problem getting a table but as it was a different table each night you never knew who you would be sitting with. This was disappointing as you never got to know anyone really well and as we were just a couple we more often than not found ourselves on a table with a foursome who had come together. Sometimes this was great but at other times we found ourselves 'left out' and just talking to ourselves. We discovered that there were a lot of other people who had booked club dining and found themselves with "freedom dining" but there was nothing we could do about it. Our balcony cabin was at the rear of the ship and if we wanted to go to anything at the front we had a long long walk. Freedom dining was on deck 5 and we were on deck 12, so the first night we decided to walk down the stairs but when we got to deck 6 we could not go down any further. One then had to go back up to deck 7, walk along to the centre of the ship and only then could we go down to deck 5. This was very confusing and even at the end of the cruise one could find people who were lost. The food was excellent and extremely well presented and if you did not like anything on the menue you could always ask for a steak or salad. The self service restaurants (there were two of them, so one was always open) had a good variety of meals and snacks but no custard or real cream. The scones in the afternoon were freshly baked but very small and the pot of cream was synthetic!!! This was the first time I have tasted chocolate eclairs with synthetic cream. The children seemed very well catered for and we rarely saw them on the ship unless accompanied by a minder. Compared with The Royal Caribbean ships the shows were very poor and we only managed to get seated during the middle show once. It seems a very small theatre for the amount of people although they do put on three shows the last one does not start until 10.45p.m. I would suggest that you take any medicines and tablets that you think you could possibly need with you as there is very little in the small shop. So if you want asprins,something for a sore throat, a bad back etc etc you would have to visit the medical centre and see the doctor. This costs £40 plus the cost of the tablets(much more expensive than you get back home in the chemist. As the excess on insurance is generally £50 cheapest a few more items in your case would prove well worth while. The cabins were quite large with a walk-in wardrobe (take some more hangers!!)and you can keep four large cases under the twin beds. The beds were comfortable and I believe that if you asked your cabin lad you can have them pushed together to make a double bed. Some of the ports we took excursions but on others we were so close to the town that we either walked or took the shuttle bus. The shuttle buses were free except for the one into Helsinki which cost 20 dollars but you could pay in pounds. We enjoyed the excursions we did take except for one in St Petersburg The Seige of Leningrad" which was first of all going around an old ice breaker ship- the smell of stale tobacco smoke was not very pleasant, and then around a large museum. This was quite interesting but by the time the Russian guide had her say then the translator it took a very long time and we spent over an hour or more. A lot of people asked to go outside as there were few seats and it did get very repetitive. It would have been better to cut this short and then to maybe go to the commemorative cemetery where they have the flames lit continually. So on that trip we did not see anything of St Petersburg and there is so much to see. As each port of call used a different currency we decided to just have some euros and this was taken by all of them although in St Petersburg they did like you to have American dollars(unless you had roubles of course). My 4 favorite ports of call were Stockholm - loved by most people with it many islands joined by over fifty bridges, a beautiful city but expensive. Then St Petersburg which has so much that one can never see it all. Tallinn which has an old town with cobbled streets and is so so pretty and relatively unexpensive. A shuttle bus took us into the old town and there is plenty to see and plenty of eating places. Then last but not least was Warnemunde, an East German sea-side resort which seems to be getting onto the itinerary of our ships at last. It is only a very short walk from the dock and there are loads of small shops, cafes and boat trips and train trips - I suggest you do your own thing again. The library is quite comprehensive but there are no seats and there is not anywhere that one can exchange books. Most people take some reading matter with them and when finished would like to swap it for another book. We used the computer room a lot and this was never full and the person in charge was very helpful whether you are a complete beginner or more advanced. The dance floor is very small especially considering the size of the ship and the 3,000 odd passengers. Plenty of bars and places for coffee, chocolate etc. The gym is large and has lots of different machines and one could always find a free one to use. Plenty of sun loungers and there were always plenty free. With five pools, one now allocated for adults only there is never a problem when you want a swim. The weather was kind to us most of the time although it was too windy to go into Copenhagen which was a disappointment. A smaller ship would have had no problem. Summing up - a Baltic trip is a must and I would not have missed it for anything but would certainly not go back on the Ventura. Of all the people we spoke to or heard talking there were only two who said they would have another cruise on the Ventura. As this was our first trip with P+O we were told numerous time not to judge P+O by this ship ??????

Ventura-and the Baltics

Ventura Cruise Review by milroy

Trip Details
What excitement to think that we had managed to book on to P+O's largest ship ever. This is a British ship and Helen Mirren had named her only in April.Our Travel agent arranged for us to be picked up at the house by mini bus and then taken to Magor Services where we joined many other people all going to Southampton on the Ventura. We did not arrive until mid afternoon and with so many people to cater for the ship had set sail before we had our cases delivered to our cabin. We were not shown how to get to our cabin so we found it quite frustrating. We had booked club dining and asked for second sitting which we were told was fine. When we looked around the cabin we discovered a notice saying they were pleased to allocate us "Free Dining". This is not Free at all as one has to book the previous day. If you do not book but just arrive, then you could find yourself waiting a long time for table. We booked for 7p.m. each night and had no problem getting a table but as it was a different table each night you never knew who you would be sitting with. This was disappointing as you never got to know anyone really well and as we were just a couple we more often than not found ourselves on a table with a foursome who had come together. Sometimes this was great but at other times we found ourselves 'left out' and just talking to ourselves. We discovered that there were a lot of other people who had booked club dining and found themselves with "freedom dining" but there was nothing we could do about it. Our balcony cabin was at the rear of the ship and if we wanted to go to anything at the front we had a long long walk. Freedom dining was on deck 5 and we were on deck 12, so the first night we decided to walk down the stairs but when we got to deck 6 we could not go down any further. One then had to go back up to deck 7, walk along to the centre of the ship and only then could we go down to deck 5. This was very confusing and even at the end of the cruise one could find people who were lost.
The food was excellent and extremely well presented and if you did not like anything on the menue you could always ask for a steak or salad. The self service restaurants (there were two of them, so one was always open) had a good variety of meals and snacks but no custard or real cream. The scones in the afternoon were freshly baked but very small and the pot of cream was synthetic!!! This was the first time I have tasted chocolate eclairs with synthetic cream.
The children seemed very well catered for and we rarely saw them on the ship unless accompanied by a minder.
Compared with The Royal Caribbean ships the shows were very poor and we only managed to get seated during the middle show once. It seems a very small theatre for the amount of people although they do put on three shows the last one does not start until 10.45p.m.
I would suggest that you take any medicines and tablets that you think you could possibly need with you as there is very little in the small shop. So if you want asprins,something for a sore throat, a bad back etc etc you would have to visit the medical centre and see the doctor. This costs £40 plus the cost of the tablets(much more expensive than you get back home in the chemist. As the excess on insurance is generally £50 cheapest a few more items in your case would prove well worth while.
The cabins were quite large with a walk-in wardrobe (take some more hangers!!)and you can keep four large cases under the twin beds. The beds were comfortable and I believe that if you asked your cabin lad you can have them pushed together to make a double bed.
Some of the ports we took excursions but on others we were so close to the town that we either walked or took the shuttle bus. The shuttle buses were free except for the one into Helsinki which cost 20 dollars but you could pay in pounds. We enjoyed the excursions we did take except for one in St Petersburg The Seige of Leningrad" which was first of all going around an old ice breaker ship- the smell of stale tobacco smoke was not very pleasant, and then around a large museum. This was quite interesting but by the time the Russian guide had her say then the translator it took a very long time and we spent over an hour or more. A lot of people asked to go outside as there were few seats and it did get very repetitive. It would have been better to cut this short and then to maybe go to the commemorative cemetery where they have the flames lit continually. So on that trip we did not see anything of St Petersburg and there is so much to see.
As each port of call used a different currency we decided to just have some euros and this was taken by all of them although in St Petersburg they did like you to have American dollars(unless you had roubles of course). My 4 favorite ports of call were Stockholm - loved by most people with it many islands joined by over fifty bridges, a beautiful city but expensive. Then St Petersburg which has so much that one can never see it all. Tallinn which has an old town with cobbled streets and is so so pretty and relatively unexpensive. A shuttle bus took us into the old town and there is plenty to see and plenty of eating places. Then last but not least was Warnemunde, an East German sea-side resort which seems to be getting onto the itinerary of our ships at last. It is only a very short walk from the dock and there are loads of small shops, cafes and boat trips and train trips - I suggest you do your own thing again. The library is quite comprehensive but there are no seats and there is not anywhere that one can exchange books. Most people take some reading matter with them and when finished would like to swap it for another book.
We used the computer room a lot and this was never full and the person in charge was very helpful whether you are a complete beginner or more advanced.
The dance floor is very small especially considering the size of the ship and the 3,000 odd passengers.
Plenty of bars and places for coffee, chocolate etc.
The gym is large and has lots of different machines and one could always find a free one to use.
Plenty of sun loungers and there were always plenty free. With five pools, one now allocated for adults only there is never a problem when you want a swim.
The weather was kind to us most of the time although it was too windy to go into Copenhagen which was a disappointment. A smaller ship would have had no problem.
Summing up - a Baltic trip is a must and I would not have missed it for anything but would certainly not go back on the Ventura. Of all the people we spoke to or heard talking there were only two who said they would have another cruise on the Ventura. As this was our first trip with P+O we were told numerous time not to judge P+O by this ship ??????
milroy’s Full Rating Summary
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