Ventura Cruise Review by Tommo308
- Sail Date: September 2015
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
Our cabin was clean and tidy, we were fortunate to have an extremely attentive cabin steward who, when called upon, carried out our requests promptly and well. The cabin was spacious and well appointed.
After the usual emergency drill we made our way up to Deck 15 to the 'comunal' eating area. On getting there we were surprised by both the numbers of people and the volume of noise present - of course Ventura carries some 1200 more passengers that we had previously experienced. Overall we were not too impressed by either the content and choice of the buffets. There was a predominance of curried foods, unimaginative salad choice and feeling that had we pondered more over our choice we would have heard someone call out "Move along please..". On nearly every visit to the buffet we were met with a rather confusing presentation of food. Cold plates for salads were stacked alongside hot plates for hot food, soup was tucked away in a corner and was difficult to get at and the menu notices above the food listed the foods but didn't give a clear indication as to what was what.
After we had eaten we took a 'get-your-bearings' trip around the ship. The pool areas on Deck 15 were spacious but, as we found out, became very busy and very noisy. Of course the entertainments put on were designed to be a 'group activity' but on more than one occasion we moved away because of the non-stop musak played at people, just a little above the volume comfort zone. In the main it is these activities (do people really still join in to YMCA?) that make me refer to this cruise as 'Butlin's at Sea'.
On returning inside to explore further we had our first onboard 'ambush'. (more of this later). One thing I thought I'd be grateful for was the smoking areas. I make no apology for being a smoker and I am happy to comply with rules and regulations, but to find that, almost without exception, the whole of the starboard side of the ship was a smoking zone left me a little confused. If you follow the sun then at certain times the promenade deck will become a battleground when it comes to finding a seat. Likewise on Deck 15 the 'enclosed' area around the pool was always full of smokers making it nigh impossible for a non-smoker to find a sheltered table and chairs. And, sadly, despite notices I did see passengers firing cigarette butts and empty packets over the side!
My wife and I enjoy the formal aspect of cruising, it's a great equaliser onboard a ship. But I was dismayed to see the number of passengers who, in my humble opinion, hadn't read the dress code information provided. Black tie OR dark suit.. OK, that's not rocket science.. why then pack a light gray suit? And it did appear that quite a few passengers were not 'signing up' for the formal at all. Their choice of course.
Dinner in the main dining room was I fear an average affair. We were fortunate to be seated with personable fellow passengers and conversation was generally lively. I was not overly impressed with the menus though. The food served was only average. There was a strange bowl used for both starters (Prawn Cocktail) and dessert. It resembled a dish canted at an angle and was difficult to eat from. The wine selection was workmanlike and I think over-priced.
Our first port of call was Barcelona and we chose to do our own thing. A walk up the Ramblas a hop-on, hop-off tourist bus got us to the Gaudi cathedral.. then we went back to the ship, eagerly awaiting our next port of call. Monte Carlo.
Well Monte Carlo didn't happen. We got there, the weather was dull and the sea had, so we were informed, too much swell to ferry passengers ashore by tender. OK, Health & Safety wins and it was nice to know our captain had the concerns of the passengers at heart. But the hours and hours of delay in recovering a tender due to some hydraulic problem became a bit trying.
Italy next with Livorno and Civitavecchia ahead. I'm not going to go into detail as it's suffice to say the two tours we had were good. First to Lucca and secondly to an Italian Agro-turist farm. Food here was excellent and plentiful. Very enjoyable trip.
Our penultimate port of call was Alicante. It was hot and dusty but time ashore was good. No tours here, just a wander around and an excellent lunch.
Finally, Gibraltar. Bathed in sunshine it soon became jam packed with cruise passengers as there were at least three other ships in port.. Duty free was worthwhile and, due to a very short stop, we headed back to the ship for lunch.
Prior to our departing Gibraltar we found ourselves right in the middle of what must be the biggest display of jingoism I have ever been part of. Union flags given out, the entertainment 'crew' singing songs from England, Scotland Ireland and Wales (it appears that Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are no longer part of Great Britain.. as a Manxman that annoyed me greatly..!!!). We had Rule Britannia, Land of Hope & Glory etc... and it was incredibly LOUD.
Overall the seas were good to us for the whole 4000+ trip. The weather was good too.
My feelings on the entertainment on the ship are that it was just a little above workingman's club level. All of the 'venues' morphed into varying 'Saturday-night-at-the pub' places. Certainly if you ate at the second sitting you'd be hard pressed to find a table at any of the entertainment spots.
We spent time (and money) in the casino and I felt that it was there almost as an afterthought. It was cramped and tacked on to the 'pub'.
Cruises are many things to many people and this was no exception but the onboard shopping was, at best, mediocre. In fact some of it was decidedly tacky. I was shocked at the lack of P&O merchandise on sale and what I saw I certainly wouldn't have paid good money for.. Not good P&O, not good at all.
And with 'sales' in mind I'll return to our onboard 'ambush'... Of course I except that after-market sales play a big part in the cruise revenue but my wife and I (and many, many others too) were constantly 'ambushed' by the staff from the Spa selling their wares. It became almost impossible to enter or exit a lift without someone trying to sell you some beauty, health or some such preparation. And all at silly prices too. If people want these 'treatments' they will find them, we do not need them forced on us.
As I said at the start this was our first P&O cruise. Despite all I have said it wont be the last but we will choose a different type of cruise. We did enjoy ourselves, it was a pleasant holiday. Unfortunately it came to a sad end with the loss of a passenger overboard, it was not an accident nor was it malicious. But the captain dealt with this sad event admirably.
250,000+ people have entered their email