This was our second P&O cruise having previously sailed on Oceana. We have also sailed with Thomson and Celebrity.
Embarkation was well organized: we had been allocated a time of 3pm but arrived two hours earlier as the traffic was light. We were given a card and we settled down expecting a long wait. However, 30 minutes later we had boarded and were in our cabin.
First impressions were mixed. The cabin is a reasonable size (we had C314, a balcony cabin on the port side, floor 10) but the so-called bathroom was a disappointment. It has a total area that is about the size of a phone box and this includes the shower, which had a rather dirty plastic shower curtain. Interestingly, this was replaced on the day we were disembarking! The room needs refurbishing; the carpet looked dirty and the whole room just looked run down. There is plenty of hanging space for clothes but apart from the bedside tables, no drawers. The balcony was a good size though, roughly 2.5 by 3.0 meters I would guess.
We were freedom dining in the Cinnamon restaurant and I have to say that the food was as good as any I have had on a cruise. It perhaps lacked the finesse of Celebrity and endless green beans got a little repetitive but overall the food was very good. The buffet was awful as they usually are in my experience, just a fight every day to find a table at breakfast, which was the only meal we ate in there. We didn’t try any of the specialty restaurants, as the food was more than satisfactory in Cinnamon. This was in spite of constantly being given the hard sell everyday by the staff.
The entertainment was excellent. The Headliners theatre group was superb, as were the Ventura entertainment team. However, it was a bit like a holiday camp up on the pool decks were you are bombarded by constant noise. Talking of the pools, we didn’t venture in, as they were full of children, including the so-called adult only pool. Also, children were constantly occupying the Jacuzzis, in spite of notices prominently displayed saying that under 16s were no allowed. This was the only time children were, for us, a problem. Apparently there were 740 children on board but they all seemed well behaved and there were no problems as far as I know.
As for the rest of the ship, well, it is in need of a full refurbishment. The public areas are decidedly tacky and mostly very dark. It could be a lovely ship and probably was many years ago but it looks and feels very dated now.
The itinerary was what we had signed up for so no real complaints. This was Madeira, La Palma, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Vigo and back to Southampton. My only grouch was that it took 3 long days to get to Madeira, an extra port could have been included to break this up. We heard a lot of people complaining about this. Many, many people removed or reduced their gratuities. We spoke to a lot of people over the 12 days and apart from one couple, everyone else had asked for gratuities to be removed. My only comment would be that within 2 hours of embarkation, I had been charged the full £144 in advance for service I had yet to receive. Service throughout the ship was on the whole efficient and cheerful although we did encounter some surly attitudes from some staff members but they were the minority. Finally, disembarkation was very well organized and we were able to leave the ship without a long wait or encountering any hassle.
So all in all, an enjoyable cruise with some reservations regarding the décor and general state of the ship. I will cruise with P&O again, but not necessarily on Ventura.