This was our first cruise and we were both nervous and excited about our trip from Southampton to Bruges on P&O Ventura. Below is our review and some of the things that we would do differently should we decide to do another cruise that may be useful to other fist time cruisers.
Parking and transfers - we used ACP (Alternative Cruise Parking) and the service was excellent from start to finish. All questions that we asked prior to arrival were responded to promptly. Upon arrival we parked our car and was on our way to the Cruise terminal within 10 minutes. The driver offered lots of useful information as well as trying to put nervous 1st time cruisers minds at rest. We were told when we got back and dis-embarked to call the office number and a vehicle would be there to collect us within 15 minutes and that was exactly what happened. Upon arrival back at the car park the lady that we dealt with (Sue) seemed genuinely interested as to how we got on. What a pleasure to deal with a company that actually delivers on it's promises. We would have no hesitation in recommending ACP to friends and family.
Arrival and embarkation at the Mayflower Terminal Southampton - Our arrival time was 3pm and we arrived at 12:30pm. This was our first mistake as we sat for 2 hours having to listen constantly to a women making announcements every couple of minutes which although might be necessary did get on our nerves! Lesson learnt next time we will aim to arrive close to our embarkation time. Drinks and toilets were available in the "holding area".
Cabin - once on board we arrived at our room to find our cases were already at the door. We had a balcony cabin on deck 12 situated in the mid aft section of the ship which was quiet with no noise from the above deck. The living / sleeping area was nice with plenty of storage space for clothes a decent sized safe and a very comfortable queen size bed. The balcony was nice with good quality recliner chairs and a table. The bathroom was disappointing. The shower was very small although the water pressure was good and always hot. The worst part was every time we lifted the seat on the toilet we were greeted with an unpleasant smell of stale urine. A special mention to our Cabin steward who kept our cabin spotlessly clean and tidy, thank you.
Emergency Drill - Due at 16:15 but delayed until 16:45 due to inconsiderate individuals that feel that they are exempt! Although irritating this is a requirement by law. In our opinion anyone late should be given a heavy fine (suggest the cost of their cruise) or better still ejected from the ship unless a very good reason is given for being late!
Bars - We tried the following bars:- Breakers bar, good fun nice pint but drinks served in plastic beakers. Exchange bar, good service, entertainment and nice drinks. Tamarind, rude miserable staff. Metropolis, flat beer and weak coffee!
Restaurants - We tried the following restaurants:- Bay Tree - The first night we were greeted with an enormous queue going up the stairs at 20:25 for our 20:30 sitting. The 2nd night we arrived at 20:45 and walked straight in, another lesson learned! The food was hit and miss as the first night was awful i.e. prawn cocktail served with wilting salad and beef that was tough and tasteless! The 2nd night however was excellent. The service was excellent on both nights. Waterside, excellent buffet breakfasts, lunch & desserts. Frankie's Pizzeria, awful pizza's friendly staff. Frankie's Grill, nice food miserable lady chef!
Disembarkation - we chose to self disembark which requires you to carry your own baggage off the ship. The ship docked at about 07:10 and we were off the ship by approximately 07:35 which worked well for us.
Final thoughts - We were told by numerous people before going that we would not even know that the ship was moving. We found this to be untrue as the ship could be heard / felt shaking and rolling during our crossing. We experienced queuing on board but this can be avoided with a little planning. However in our experience there was always a considerable wait to get drinks from the bars but we found the prices were very reasonable and in line with what you would expect to pay in an average pub / restaurant. We found that this mini cruise gave us a very good insight as to what a cruise would be like. We enjoyed our first cruise but are still undecided as to whether to go on another.
Why ask the question!
No rating as we did not take an excursion!