My first cruise on Ventura was back in 2010 when I was not impressed with the ship, so it was with some in trepidation that I returned to her. However, I must say that I was most impressed with the improvements I found.
I am a frequent cruiser having done over 50 cruises with more than 10 cruise lines. Ventura and Azura are the largest ships I have travelled on and now I am starting to recognise the benefits of a larger ship.
I had priority boarding but there were a lot of frequent cruisers (Caribbean level and above) on this cruise. However, I was still on board within 20 minutes of arriving at the port.
There have been many comments about the state of Ventura with the ship being tired and in need of a refit. Yes, there is some worn carpet but it took me two days to find one stair that had some threads showing. To be honest I didn’t look that hard as I was enjoying myself.
Given reports of norovirus on many ships it was good to see that there were staff cleaning lift controls and stair banisters on a regular basis.
I went on this cruise with the intention of having a rest and to get some sun. This was achieved as both crossings of the Bay of Biscay were smooth and once clear of the bay it was t-shirt and shorts weather. Good weather in the Canaries and Agadir. I only took the shuttle in port where available and the most surprising port was Agadir – so much nicer than Casablanca – and well worth getting off the ship to see.
I was on club dining and had the second sitting with a table of singles. Service was very good with all courses being served in time to get to any of the 10:30 shows. Menus were very good and seem to be the new ones that P&O planned to introduce. A good choice of six starters, three soups plus a salad. Mains usually had a choice of six or seven plus a further three regional/regular ones. Deserts also had a good selection with a couple of ice cream choices. As usual there was cheese and stilton available and the waiters were keen to give a large portion.
Entertainment can be a bit hit or miss but as the ship has three main entertainment areas, there was a good selection to choose from in addition to entertainment in various bars and atrium. Some shows were very well attending with standing room only if you arrived close to the starting time. One downside was that there was only one speaker who gave seven talks. These were of interest to me but may not appeal to everyone. Some days, a film was shown in the theatre in the afternoon.
I never had any difficulty finding a seat on deck or in any of the bars with the exception of the coffee shop.
I had booked an HF grade cabin which was upgraded to an HB one. This was mid-ships on R deck and apart from some noise with people walking on the deck above was fine. My cabin stewardess saw that I always took an early breakfast so always serviced the cabin by the time I had finished breakfast.
Food in the alternative restaurants was very good and the menus changed for the second week of the cruise. There were some early dining offers where a bottle of wine was included if you booked for 6:30 or earlier. I also sampled the food/wine pairing meal in the Glasshouse which was good value compared to other lines.
Staff in all areas of the ship were friendly and keen to help and many would say hello as you went around the ship.
SO, would I go in Ventura again? Answer is yes and have a further three cruises booked on her. The ship met my expectations, not as elegant as say the Cunard Queens but more than adequate for a winter break. You can find issues on most ships, but none spoilt my enjoyment of this cruise.
Plenty of room for me as a solo traveller. Missed not having a sofa but the two chairs were comfortable. Balcony furniture was high backed semi recliners which were comfortable. Some noise at times from people walking on the deck above. Very quiet as regards other ship noise and I did not notice much ship movement - but I did have calm seas.
Embarkation and disembarkation. Used CPS for parking and they were very good. An easy way to start and finish the cruise
One of the ports I don't mind visiting time and time again. Some lovely local restaurants within walking distance of the ship or shuttle drop off point. Easy to do on your own