Ventura Cruise Review by Fangfarrier
- Sail Date: September 2016
- Destination: British Isles & Western Europe
- Cabin Type: Outside Twin with Balcony and Shower
Embarkation was civilised and reasonably speedy but not as quick as Royal Caribbean from the same cruise terminal in April on a bigger ship. We arrived at the port at 12.45 and set foot on Ventura at 2.15 so not too bad.
We had a deluxe balcony cabin on deck 9 which could politely be described as 'tired'. I don't know when Ventura is having a refurbishment but if this cabin is anything to go by it should be next week. The carpets were stained and threadbare, the furniture stained heavily and the bathroom tiles covered in mound. The shower curtain was equally stained and the bathroom floor had several areas of grouting missing. Not what I would class as deluxe. The balcony furniture was also in need of a makeover.
I can never understand how some cabin wear and tear occurs. There were dents in the walls seven foot from the floor and gouges in the bathroom sink area that couldn't possibly have been accidental such was their depth.
The public areas of the ship were in rather better condition and having sailed on Acura the layout was familiar. We were allocated second sitting in the main restaurant but as my wife was diabetic 8.30 was too late for her main meal. We were told by the travel agent that this could be changed on board. It couldn't. After going to the restaurant manager station we were told first sitting and freedom was oversubscribed. Even after discussing my wife's medical requirements there was nothing they could offer. As a result we were unable to use the main dining room and used the buffet and speciality restaurants instead.
We embarked for Guernsey and arrived the following morning for tender transportation to St Peter Port. Allocation was from one of the restaurants and when we arrived our ticket number was 1024 whilst tickets 400 were being called. We waited about an hour before tender to port. The return journey was easier with a wait of about ten minutes.
The next day was a sea day en route to La Rochelle. We had afternoon tea booked in Epicurean for Eric Lanlards signature tea. It was most disappointing. Obviously prepared well in advance and kept chilled the savoury fare was almost on the point of being stale. The sweet cakes and Eton mess was exceptionally sweet to appoint of sicklyness and there was no balance.
On arrival I confirmed that my wife was vegetarian, something done on booking but was told there was no vegetarian alternative but there were two savoury Brie eclairs to eat as part of the tea. These were propped up against the beef brioche so were not suitable for a vegetarian. Very poor. The scones were solid and cold, indeed the mass produced afternoon tea scones in the buffet were superior in every respect. For a cover charge of £15/head I would suggest Mr Landlard intervenes to correct that which is served in his name.
That night we ate in Sindhu at East and the meal was exceptional. Worth every penny of the cover charge and couldn't be faulted.
At La Rochelle the port authority shuttle transport was totally inadequate and a queue soon formed of several hundred people. The wait was well over an hour. The return wait was just as long.
On our last night we ate at the Beach Club which was very good and excellent value for money. There is no booking for this restaurant but we didn't have to wait. The food was excellent and plentiful. Too plentiful in fact and I couldn't do it justice.
We found the standard of food in the buffet to be somewhat lower than our previous experience on P&O but I'm not sure if this is fleetwide or if we were unlucky. I have noticed before that as a cruise goes by the fruit/ salad tends to deteriorate in standard over time. Our cruise was preceded by a three day cruise so perhaps supplies were loaded for 9 days and fruit was already three days old on our first day. Brown salad leaves are not very appetising.
So our overall view of the cruise was distinctly average. Over the years the reduction in expectation has relentlessly marched on and things which were taken for granted a few years ago such as chocoholics and ice sculptures are now sadly missing. The chasing of the customer dollar has never been more obvious and it really shows. P&O have recently introduced new WiFi charges and for full streaming access you now pay £24.99 for twenty four hours. That is a lot of money for a two week cruise. There are other reduced access fees of £7.50 and £12.99 for limited WiFi connectivity.
Having finally made the middle tier of loyalty I think we have come to the conclusion that we have come to the end of the road with P&O. So much detrimental to the holiday has changed in the cruise experience and so much that needs to change hasn't.
Is it really suitable or even acceptable to have a sail away party blasting out Second World War songs? A long way to Tipperary? Pack up your troubles? Really P&O?
I feel that the brand needs to be dragged into the 21st century and quickly before P&O become the BHS of the cruise industry.
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