This was our second P & O Cruise of 2018 and also our second on Ventura, the last being in June 2017. We selected an 11 night cruise down the West coast of Europe and just into the Mediterranean.
As normal we chose to drive to Southampton from home in Lancashire and set off very early being as it was a Monday sailing expecting heavy traffic. Traffic and conditions were favourable so we had a great trip and having left at 3:45 we arrived in Southampton at 8:30 and this was the only place we met heavy traffic. A walk around the Southampton shopping centre occupied us until we ventured to the terminal at noon and we were soon on board and venturing to the buffet for a welcome lunch after our early start.
Cabins were announced as being ready so we made our way to deck 11 and B714 on the port side towards the rear. The cabin was average in size but very comfortable with a small but efficient bathroom. We met Jessica, our cabin stewardess who was excellent in the way she took care of everything brilliantly yes was hardly noticed at all.
Once unpacked we decided to check out the ship and look for the recent changes from its partial refit. There was nothing major but all very clean, several new carpets and looking smart and refreshed and almost a copy of the Azura that we had sailed on in June. We had our favoured dining option of freedom dining so generally went for evening G & T’s followed by dinner between 7:45 and 8:30 in the Saffron Restaurant. The food was markedly better than our last trip on Ventura and all of a good standard with reasonable choice. We really prefer to be on a table for two and achieved this every night, we had a few short waits but nothing major. We ate all bar two dinners in Saffron, the other two we opted for the buffet, more for a change than anything else. We breakfasted in Saffron most days and this was always good and very hot. Lunches were taken in a mixture of buffet and Saffron and were all nice. The buffet could be a bit of a scramble sometimes with the ship being full but they kept up well from the kitchens but I must say the set out and lay out of Celebrity ship buffets is better than P & O ships. This time we did not visit and of the ‘pay for’ restaurants as we enjoyed the main dining room so much.
We enjoyed all ports, Lisbon where we have visited before was again an excellent choice, the second port was Valencia, a new port for us that was OK, Cartagena was our Sunday port and a really nice city that I would be very happy to return to. The port is just walking distance from town so a very nice change from many port stops. Gibraltar was the next port and the only rainy day of the trip so we did our duty free shopping and decided against a trip up the rock. The final stop was Cadiz but we had pre-booked a ships trip to Seville and we really enjoyed this as one of the nicest cities we have been to in Spain and a host of photos full of memories. We had a sea day for the final day en-route back to Southampton and a gentle sea as we crossed the Bay of Biscay.
We availed ourselves of most bars over the cruise but as we are not big drinkers so it was more for a change of scenery than anything else. We enjoyed all the production shows that the Headliners cast put on and were of a great standard. In fact I would go as far as to say this Headliners cast were probably the best we have seen on a P & O ship to date. Bernie Flint still had the audience laughing. In other lounges the entertainment was good but the Cruise Director was a little bland and for me could have been more outgoing without but without the Butlin's style. That said his team worked hard and deserve praise.
Normally we book about two months out from a cruise but this time we booked on board to come back to Ventura for a Canaries cruise in November 2019 with the offer of decent on board credit.
We did our usual of carrying our own luggage off so we did not have the hassle of sitting around waiting so were off quickly and back home in Chorley for 1pm after a good trouble free drive home.
Nice cabin, everything you need, not massive but the balcony makes it feel larger