We chose this ship as we had previously cruised in it. In addition we have sailed on 10 other occasions with P & O over a period of 25 years.
But NEVER AGAIN. We paid nearly £6,000 for this cruise and it was the worst value for money ever experienced.
If you are planning a cruise please read this with care.
We had a nice cabin on Deck 14 (R5??) but that is about the good side of things. Food was far from the quality it was 4 years ago - maybe the taking over P&O by the American Co. Carnival had a lot to do with it. I am a vegetarian but I would bet wager that McDonald's serve better. One would have thought that they would have pushed the boat out on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve but NO - just bog standard grub. Oh! sorry we were given some very cheap and nasty Christmas crackers and a party popper each.
By the way I guess I am speaking on behalf of the majority of passengers as we had chosen 'freedom'dining meaning that we sat at a different table each evening - thus sitting with about 90 different people during the cruise. Nearly all said they would not cruise with P&O again. In fact a couple said they were going to cancel their next booked cruise.
Christmas day each cabin was given a signed (by the captain) card and each passenger got a lovely present of a child's snow globe of a P*O ship - not even Ventura. Bet you can all guess where they ended up (waste bin - not the sea!!!!)
After a calm crossing of the Bay of Biscay our first port of call was Lisbon. But where did we berth? at a container terminal - from our balcony we looked out on what must have been some two thousand containers!!! In the past we have berthed near the rail/road bridge opposite the statue of Christ the King. All we can assume is that Carnival will not pay for good berths.
My wife usually indulges in beauty treatments - but not on this ship where they were some 2 1/2 times the high street cost. However she was overcharged i the shop selling cosmetics and when she returned to point this out - no apology - no apology! This friends is called service.
Carnival's influence is clear to see money, Money MONEY all the time. One thing which really annoyed me was that in the daily newsletter they were advertising lessons in how to play Blackjack, Roulette, 'one arm bandits'. We have a serious gambling problem in UK and to see this really got my back up. How irresponsible can an organisation be? So immoral.
Courtesy coaches were available at some of the ports. In most cases they did not take passengers to the main area of the port - but partway so we had to walk the rest. This has never been the case in or experiences.1
In the past orange juice has been available at most meal times - not on this ship - only at breakfast.
My wife attended a Russian classical piano concert which was held in the Tamrind Bar which is open to drinkers ans the general public walking by to other parts of the ship. On other vessels such a concert would have been held in the theatre where doors could be closed where the music could be appreciated without distraction. I felt it such an insult to the pianist.
One of the few good things was that a pint of Fosters was about £4.15 - little more than UK. However one of the saddest things was that the itinerary was changed at the last minute. Many passengers were planning to go ashore at Funchal, following the glorious firework display, to join in the New Year festivities with the locals and maybe friends/relatives who may live or be holidaying in Madeira. This was because the original itinerary stated that the ship would leave Funchal at 09.30 new Years Day morning. However the tenders (we were at anchor in the bay) stopped running at 17.30 New Years Eve. Such a disappointment for many we spoke with.
On all the cruises I have attended lectures by interesting people on a variety of topics. Not on Ventura all that was offered was a guy boringly taking about 'pop' music - on about 8 different occasions - oh! and he tried to sing some of the songs - enough said. The other speaker was the Ship's Chief Engineer. Being an engineer myself I thought the content was rather too technical , with due respects to other listeners. The slides he projected were in the main terrible.
There you are my friends - do hope you have found this information helpful in deciding that Ventura is not for you.
PS On board gratuities was over £80 per passenger. This, it is said, to give equally to all service crew members. But this we found is not the case. Speaking to a few bar waiters this money is shared between cabin stewards and ding-room waiters. Bar waiters (who work a 12 hour day 7 days a week) get £210 a month plus 6% of any orders they take per month. I wonder in what other walk of life does this happen. If they paid these hard
workers a living wage all this gratuity business would not be necessary. Employing these guys from the Philippines etc in this way is a total injustice.
In all extremely disappointing.