Having previously cruised with RCCL, I booked this 2 night taster cruise to find out how P&O did things. I travelled with my Husband and 15 YO daughter and my Mother and Father in Law. MIL has mobility issues.
We arrived at the Port at around 2pm (traffic terrible on route) The embarkation procedure that P&O have in place can not be faulted, it was far smother than RCCL with cards given out and seating available to wait in until the Letter given was called out (we waited about 10 minutes). We then sailed through security and onto the ship.
So our first experience of Venturer was using the buffet. What a nightmare! Food choices were limited, and there is a distinct lack of seating and help finding a seat. The buffet is laid out in claustrophobic little bays where you have to wait whilst the people in front of you choose their food. You can't wander round and have a look to see what you fancy, there isn't room. So basically had to go round twice, to then get a salad which was at the beginning, and I had already walked past. There was no offer of drinks from the waiting staff.
We had freedom dining and this was almost up to RCCL standards. The waiting staff were just as friendly. The food choices at dinner were very similar. My only niggle really with the dining were the grubby table cloths, which had the previous occupants butter stains on them.
We did experience Afternoon tea in the Saffron Dining room which was really pleasant!
We weren't so keen on the layout of the ship in comparison to RCCL. We realized how much we liked the Royal Promanade that RCCL have going on. The shops on Ventura were laid out in one small atrium over 3 floors. This really did prove a nightmare with MIL's mobility issues. We would see something we liked then had trouble remembering which floor it was on. The lifts are laid out in quite a peculiar fashion too. The service lifts are next to the stair wells, with the customer lifts being the other side of the Service lifts.
Our cabin was of a similar grade the one we had previously on EOS which was an interior overlooking the promenade. We had booked an obstructed view outside cabin. The room was of a similar size but did not have a sofa to sit on. The wardrobe was much nicer on Venturer and was of the walk in variety with plenty of hanging space.
On the first evening we experience an issue with out toilet system flooding the bathroom after it was flushed. We phoned reception and someone was with us to turn the water off within minutes. We understand these things happen and were very impressed with the way it was dealt with.
Finally, our only other niggle with this cruise... We booked online directly with P & O. Under a big banner that said that they were offering on board credit. As I went through the booking was told that it applied to this cruise. The final booking paperwork had the statement 'we are giving you on board credit which you can spend onboard' We did not receive any on board credit. The reception staff were told that our booking did not qualify. We were left very disappointed. We were not expecting much, but its the principle of the thing given the amount of times during the booking procedure we informed we were getting on board credit.
Anyway to sum up, if P&O had a cruise that was at the right time and location we would go again, but will be sticking to RCCL for the foreseeable future.
The fixtures and fittings were very tired, however, it was clean and the cabin staff were unobtrusive.
The tendering procedure worked really well. The port is lovely. The highstreet is quite hilly and has cobblestones which I'd imagine would be quite slippery when wet.