Just returned from 4 night mini-cruise, (N514) stopping over at Zeebrugge, Belgium and St. Peter Port, Guernsey. This is the first time we have embarked from the re-vamped Ocean Terminal, all-in-all a vast improvement as the old security system was a real bottle neck. We have sailed on the Ventura several times before, and it hasn’t changed a great deal. The much discussed overhaul has now disappeared into the dim and distant past, the décor is looking a bit tired and only real new change is that the ‘White’ room is now called the ‘Epicurean’ which still has an overpriced cover charge. The stop-overs were ok, Zeebrugge now appears to have its own port transport shuttling between ship and port gate, which I don’t remember from previous visits, and they appear to be revamping Blankenberge railway station – we seemed to get a discount on the train tickets by showing our cruise card! Because one of the days during the cruise was significant to us, I had pre-ordered via the P&O web site/booking office some extras for that day, the flowers and champagne arrived on time, on date. However, it wasn’t made clear to me that the chocolate dipped strawberries were only served on the formal night – that was a bit of a downer. Also, the roses in the bouquet were obviously wilting after 2 days which I did not expect, but the florist did replace these flowers without a quibble. To my wife and I, dinner is the highlight of the day when cruising and I became worried when I heard that P&O in their cost cutting phase had begun to serve guests with pre-loaded plates at dinner, i.e. no longer serving vegetables separately. Having certain dietary requirements, I had thought that the new serving process may present a problem, but it was ok. To my mind serving pre-loaded plate at dinner is hardly silver service, and has definitely dented the overall luxury feel of the cruise. While the food served was good, the service from the waiters was very nearly perfunctory, the normal banter had to be really worked at, the smiles were fewer, I have this feeling that the waiters do not like the auto-tipping policy now employed. Next cruise we will definitely stop the auto-tipping and go back to old way of tipping, let the waiters/room steward know what we are doing and then maybe we will get a more personal and pleasant service. We normally order a light breakfast from room service – i.e. coffee and toast. This time the service was very patchy and not once did we receive what we ordered, no toast or butter and only Jam one day, only hot water but no coffee another, another just one plate and knife for the two of us. A small note of complaint is that I noticed that not all items glassware and crockery seemed as scrupulously clean as I expected, but obviously these items were immediately replaced when the defects were pointed out. Also, in future we will avoid cruising during school holidays; the ship was crawling with children and the absentee parents seemed to relinquish all responsibility for them. As a consequence, all swimming pools and hot tubs were completely monopolised by these children, to the point where it was very uncomfortable to use or approach either type of facility. It did not help that on the last full day one of the swimming pools had to be shut because someone had fouled the water. Overall we feel that P&O are continuing to cost cut by further reduce their service levels, and as a result are at risk of losing their (so far) loyal customers to rival cruise companies.

P&O Ventura (N514) Zeebrugge, Belgium St. Peter Port, Guernsey

Ventura Cruise Review by Reggub321

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Trip Details
Just returned from 4 night mini-cruise, (N514) stopping over at Zeebrugge, Belgium and St. Peter Port, Guernsey. This is the first time we have embarked from the re-vamped Ocean Terminal, all-in-all a vast improvement as the old security system was a real bottle neck.

We have sailed on the Ventura several times before, and it hasn’t changed a great deal. The much discussed overhaul has now disappeared into the dim and distant past, the décor is looking a bit tired and only real new change is that the ‘White’ room is now called the ‘Epicurean’ which still has an overpriced cover charge.

The stop-overs were ok, Zeebrugge now appears to have its own port transport shuttling between ship and port gate, which I don’t remember from previous visits, and they appear to be revamping Blankenberge railway station – we seemed to get a discount on the train tickets by showing our cruise card!

Because one of the days during the cruise was significant to us, I had pre-ordered via the P&O web site/booking office some extras for that day, the flowers and champagne arrived on time, on date. However, it wasn’t made clear to me that the chocolate dipped strawberries were only served on the formal night – that was a bit of a downer. Also, the roses in the bouquet were obviously wilting after 2 days which I did not expect, but the florist did replace these flowers without a quibble.

To my wife and I, dinner is the highlight of the day when cruising and I became worried when I heard that P&O in their cost cutting phase had begun to serve guests with pre-loaded plates at dinner, i.e. no longer serving vegetables separately. Having certain dietary requirements, I had thought that the new serving process may present a problem, but it was ok. To my mind serving pre-loaded plate at dinner is hardly silver service, and has definitely dented the overall luxury feel of the cruise. While the food served was good, the service from the waiters was very nearly perfunctory, the normal banter had to be really worked at, the smiles were fewer, I have this feeling that the waiters do not like the auto-tipping policy now employed. Next cruise we will definitely stop the auto-tipping and go back to old way of tipping, let the waiters/room steward know what we are doing and then maybe we will get a more personal and pleasant service.

We normally order a light breakfast from room service – i.e. coffee and toast. This time the service was very patchy and not once did we receive what we ordered, no toast or butter and only Jam one day, only hot water but no coffee another, another just one plate and knife for the two of us.

A small note of complaint is that I noticed that not all items glassware and crockery seemed as scrupulously clean as I expected, but obviously these items were immediately replaced when the defects were pointed out. Also, in future we will avoid cruising during school holidays; the ship was crawling with children and the absentee parents seemed to relinquish all responsibility for them. As a consequence, all swimming pools and hot tubs were completely monopolised by these children, to the point where it was very uncomfortable to use or approach either type of facility. It did not help that on the last full day one of the swimming pools had to be shut because someone had fouled the water.

Overall we feel that P&O are continuing to cost cut by further reduce their service levels, and as a result are at risk of losing their (so far) loyal customers to rival cruise companies.
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