Me and my sister's first time cruising, we were accompanied by my dad and step mum who had cruised before. My dad had chosen to drive down and use CPS parking which went smoothly, picking up the car at the end of the cruise was no trouble and it only took him 10 mins.
We went to the Mayflower terminal to board Ventura. We arrived at 2pm which I'd say is the worst time to arrive. They had seating but it was all taken up at that time. We waited two hours in total before checking in and boarding which was seamless.
First impressions of Ventura were excellent; finding our cabin was no trouble, they have ship plans and deck levels near the lifts to view for quick reference. I loved our cabin (C637) balcony cabin on Deck 10, it had loads of space for me and my sister, and the bathroom was a reasonable size although it rather reminded me of an airplane toilet but slightly larger. Our cabin just had the shower.
Service onboard was excellent; in the buffet they always cleared the tables away quickly; in fact they will often take your tray away if you want to just have your plate on the table. In the main dining rooms the waiters were really good and professional despite them being busy sometimes. We always found the service a bit slower in the dining rooms though so if we needed to eat quickly we chose the buffet. We tried the Glass house, East and Beach house restaurants and service was excellent. Also all the staff including the cleaners always seemed to greet you with a smile. Our cabin steward Rajesh was really nice and our cabin always looked spic and span. I like their turn down and make up service too.
On the whole, I enjoyed the excursions although we went on one tour which was advertised to give us some free time to wander around but the lady only gave us half an hour free which by that time we needed a drink and a snack which took nearly half an hour so it wasn't 'free time' in my opinion.
Loved the entertainment on board, the headliners company really blew me away with their talents on the stage. Getting into the theatre early is a must on those nights they perform! There were quizzes daily, we took part in one or two. We watched a film in the arena but screen quality was bad as they had clearly just had the video image stretched out onto a bigger screen. Watching a film in the Havana club was slightly better as they used a smaller screen. There were some free films to view on the cabin tv which we took advantage of sometimes. If you want to watch your own without paying for the chargeable ones I recommend a portable dvd player or tablet with preloaded films.
We didn't go to one port which happened to be the last one; Guernsey as we needed to go via tender and the water was too choppy by the pontoon. We had extra entertainment laid on instead which included an extra film to watch.
Food - couldn't fault it and the same standard whether in the buffet or dining rooms. Can't understand why we get free pizzas but not free ice cream though.
Disembarkation was smooth - we chose to disembark ourselves as we wanted to leave early with having a 5 hour trip home and apart from waiting for lifts carrying our own luggage we were off the ship in twenty minutes.
The cabin was really not any smaller than a hotel room apart from the fact the wardrobe had no door which made the space more economical. We had plenty of space to put our clothes away.
The cabin's balcony on C deck or deck 10 was the largest balcony you could have and it was partially covered so you could sit out without being overlooked. We used it regularly and it was particularly good for taking in the sights going into Lisbon port.
Beds were a bit hard but that's personal preference, I still got a reasonable night's sleep. Other amenities were free shower gel and shampoo, UK power sockets for charging phones etc, shaver socket in the bathroom, hair dryer and tea/coffee making facilities with a kettle. The TV was okay, nothing special but it was good to use for the purpose of watching films and checking the ship's location, your on board spending account etc.
Our cabin steward Rajesh was really nice and he kept our cabin spic and span, with a make up and a turn down service.