Ventura Cruise N009 - April 2010 We dealt with a travel agent rather than P@O directly. Price paid was less than P@O's internet pricing. However when we tried to upgrade, we were advised that we could only take that route at the price difference prevailing when we booked - not the current (lower) price. Be warned. We decided to take our car to Southampton and arranged for the valet parking (included in price) to be carried out by CPS. What an excellent job they did. As we arrived early, we had to queue for sometime until P&O allowed passengers to begin boarding (12.30pm.). Cabins were ready at 2.00pm. Our balcony cabin was considered by us to be small - less than 200 square feet with a fair amount of hanging space. There was also a safe. The shower room was quite compact - but it did the job well save for the fixed head shower unit itself which was a slight problem. We prefer flexible units. Their was a small but quite adequate fridge stocking iced water and ice. Plenty of room to keep mixers etc. Fair sized television with SKY news, a choice of old TV programmes and the ships log. You can also keep a running tab regarding your account on screen. There is a dressing table with two 13amp sockets plus a hair dryer. The saving grace for the cabin (stateroom) was the very large size of the veranda balcony. This was nearly half the size of the cabin. Plenty of room for a small table, footrest and two reclining chairs. Smoking is allowed on the balcony. However, the walls in the cabin are very thin and I was woken by a passenger in the next cabin snoring. The following point is quite important if you are booking a superior balcony or a balcony cabin: A and B deck balconies overlook C and D deck balconies. C deck balconies also overlook D balconies. This might at first seem a bit intrusive - but when the sun is high, you still get the sun on C and D balconies - not A and B. We regularly sunbathed on our C deck balcony well into the afternoon. So we had the sun from early morning for most of the day (starboard side). Lastly you could order breakfast in your stateroom - but not bacon and eggs. Passenger disembarkation on the days in port was very smooth in all cases including those ports that were tendered. Whilst on the subject of port visits, P&O do not seem to have a policy in place for confiscating your duty free alcohol or cigarettes when you return from your trip as some other lines do. That could be a big plus. But watch out! Customs in the U.K. are red hot. We were stopped even though we weren't carrying any duty free goods other than a half bottle of Blue Gin. Now for the amenities on the ship. There are a considerable number of bars (both drinking and snack). You could get a snack any time of the day or night with The Waterside restaurant open 23 hours per day with a good quality of food (self service). The main problem with the Waterside is that it cannot accommodate the people who whish to use it. Only on one occasion did we manage to gain a table in the restaurant - other times we had to use the open area by the pool either to have our breakfast or a snack. P&O need to address this problem - but it will be a difficult one to solve. There are other restaurants on board which have waiter service. As we chose Freedom Dining we were allocated to the Cinnamon Restaurant where you could turn up at any time (until 9.30pm.) and be allocated a table, you would be very lucky to get a table for two without having to wait. For instant entrance you would normally be sitting on a table for eight. This could be good or bad depending whether you wanted to talk to anyone or not. Speciality dining is a big feature on most cruise lines. I guess that it is a high profit centre. The White Room which we tried on my birthday charges £20 per head as a cover charge. A lot extra to pay out for mediocre food - although the service was first class. East's cover charge is £10 per head and specialises in oriental cuisine. Our very personal view is that this restaurant was awful. The fusion dish that we were served was chicken, fish and beef all at the same time. This did not work for us and the restaurant was empty most nights. The other cover charge restaurant is Rambles which is a pseudo Tapas restaurant with a cover charge of £5 per head. Food was O.K. but waiter service was indifferent and somebody should tell P&O that serving up a small dish of peas and carrots does not constitute a Tapas dish. Keeping on the theme of service, our main restaurant (Cinnamon) had a first rate service culture and was well staffed. There is a charge already added to your bill for restaurant staff tips at about £1.50 per day per passenger. The cost of laundry might be worthwhile mentioning: Shirt: £3.50; T Shirt: £2.50p.; Trousers: £4.00p.; Tie: £4.00p. We couldn't fault the entertainment with something going on every evening from classical through to Bee Gees. Three variety stage shows in the two week cruise. With a quality that can't be beaten. There were many courses on offer during the day and I took advantage of the photo processing course. It was very good value. Other classes available included dancing, bridge, 5 a side football, family trees, line dancing etc. Always something to do. There is a small library and book shop (selling books at full price) which operates during the day. There are a few chairs but it is very difficult to find somewhere (other than your own stateroom) where you can get some peace and quiet on this 116,000 ton ship. And whilst I think of it there is no deck to run round due to the poor design of the vessel. In fact to get to the rear bar (Metropolis) from forward, you had to walk to the aft of the ship and then get a lift to the top floor. There are overwhelming opportunities to buy clothing, handbags, jewellery, gifts, and watches on board. Not satisfied with selling within the shops, as the days wore on, trestle tables were brought out so that a pinch point was created and you had to slow down to look at the merchandise on offer. Even during a wait in the restaurant bar for our table at dinner we couldn't hear ourselves. Sales people were literally shouting out loud - just like a market stall, selling, selling selling. I did on one occasion make a complaint to a senior officer who told me he could do nothing about the noise. In fact that last sentence could sum up the attitude to the staff on board. It was very poor. If there was no tip in the offing - then they weren't interested. If it was outside their remit then again they were not interested. This included officers. Our cabin steward was very good, and deserved his tip at the end. Thought we might mention alcohol. Alcohol is available to drink in your cabin from your steward. The corkage charge is £1.50 per bottle which is quite cheap. For example, Baileys litre bottle cost was £10 from the shop (who would let you have it at the end of the cruise) plus £1.50 corkage to drink in your room if purchased from the steward.. Well worth it when you consider that the bar price for Baileys is £4.70 for a 50ml measure. My local pub charges £2.85 for the same measure, tax and duty paid. The profit on that makes your eyes water. We have noted below some prices: Pint of lager: £2.90. Pint of bitter: £2.65. Bottle of Stella 330ml: £2.75p. Cola 150ml can: £0.75p.Gin: £2.15 for a 25ml. measure. Glenfiddich whisky: £2.60 for 25ml. Benson & Hedges cigs: £2.55p. for 20. Golden Virginia per 50 gram - £4.95p.Crisps: 80p. Had a couple of massages whilst on board priced between £60 & £88. Very expensive but oooh so worth it! Incidentally we had booked our massages direct with P&O some weeks before leaving. No details of the booking existed in the spa. I'm told that that was not the first time that had happened. Disembarkation was very smooth at Southampton. Had to wait about an hour and a half to get off, but were so relaxed by this time that it didn't matter. All in all a very enjoyable cruise. We always say that we will try and watch the pennies next time, but P&O have money extraction down to a fine art.

Ventura 2010 - Butlins at sea!

Ventura Cruise Review by Howard18

Trip Details
Ventura Cruise N009 - April 2010
We dealt with a travel agent rather than P@O directly. Price paid was less than P@O's internet pricing. However when we tried to upgrade, we were advised that we could only take that route at the price difference prevailing when we booked - not the current (lower) price. Be warned. We decided to take our car to Southampton and arranged for the valet parking (included in price) to be carried out by CPS. What an excellent job they did. As we arrived early, we had to queue for sometime until P&O allowed passengers to begin boarding (12.30pm.). Cabins were ready at 2.00pm. Our balcony cabin was considered by us to be small - less than 200 square feet with a fair amount of hanging space. There was also a safe. The shower room was quite compact - but it did the job well save for the fixed head shower unit itself which was a slight problem. We prefer flexible units. Their was a small but quite adequate fridge stocking iced water and ice. Plenty of room to keep mixers etc. Fair sized television with SKY news, a choice of old TV programmes and the ships log. You can also keep a running tab regarding your account on screen. There is a dressing table with two 13amp sockets plus a hair dryer. The saving grace for the cabin (stateroom) was the very large size of the veranda balcony. This was nearly half the size of the cabin. Plenty of room for a small table, footrest and two reclining chairs. Smoking is allowed on the balcony. However, the walls in the cabin are very thin and I was woken by a passenger in the next cabin snoring. The following point is quite important if you are booking a superior balcony or a balcony cabin: A and B deck balconies overlook C and D deck balconies. C deck balconies also overlook D balconies. This might at first seem a bit intrusive - but when the sun is high, you still get the sun on C and D balconies - not A and B. We regularly sunbathed on our C deck balcony well into the afternoon. So we had the sun from early morning for most of the day (starboard side). Lastly you could order breakfast in your stateroom - but not bacon and eggs. Passenger disembarkation on the days in port was very smooth in all cases including those ports that were tendered. Whilst on the subject of port visits, P&O do not seem to have a policy in place for confiscating your duty free alcohol or cigarettes when you return from your trip as some other lines do. That could be a big plus. But watch out! Customs in the U.K. are red hot. We were stopped even though we weren't carrying any duty free goods other than a half bottle of Blue Gin. Now for the amenities on the ship. There are a considerable number of bars (both drinking and snack). You could get a snack any time of the day or night with The Waterside restaurant open 23 hours per day with a good quality of food (self service). The main problem with the Waterside is that it cannot accommodate the people who whish to use it. Only on one occasion did we manage to gain a table in the restaurant - other times we had to use the open area by the pool either to have our breakfast or a snack. P&O need to address this problem - but it will be a difficult one to solve.
There are other restaurants on board which have waiter service. As we chose Freedom Dining we were allocated to the Cinnamon Restaurant where you could turn up at any time (until 9.30pm.) and be allocated a table, you would be very lucky to get a table for two without having to wait. For instant entrance you would normally be sitting on a table for eight. This could be good or bad depending whether you wanted to talk to anyone or not. Speciality dining is a big feature on most cruise lines. I guess that it is a high profit centre. The White Room which we tried on my birthday charges £20 per head as a cover charge. A lot extra to pay out for mediocre food - although the service was first class. East's cover charge is £10 per head and specialises in oriental cuisine. Our very personal view is that this restaurant was awful. The fusion dish that we were served was chicken, fish and beef all at the same time. This did not work for us and the restaurant was empty most nights. The other cover charge restaurant is Rambles which is a pseudo Tapas restaurant with a cover charge of £5 per head. Food was O.K. but waiter service was indifferent and somebody should tell P&O that serving up a small dish of peas and carrots does not constitute a Tapas dish. Keeping on the theme of service, our main restaurant (Cinnamon) had a first rate service culture and was well staffed. There is a charge already added to your bill for restaurant staff tips at about £1.50 per day per passenger. The cost of laundry might be worthwhile mentioning: Shirt: £3.50; T Shirt: £2.50p.; Trousers: £4.00p.; Tie: £4.00p.
We couldn't fault the entertainment with something going on every evening from classical through to Bee Gees. Three variety stage shows in the two week cruise. With a quality that can't be beaten. There were many courses on offer during the day and I took advantage of the photo processing course. It was very good value. Other classes available included dancing, bridge, 5 a side football, family trees, line dancing etc. Always something to do. There is a small library and book shop (selling books at full price) which operates during the day. There are a few chairs but it is very difficult to find somewhere (other than your own stateroom) where you can get some peace and quiet on this 116,000 ton ship. And whilst I think of it there is no deck to run round due to the poor design of the vessel. In fact to get to the rear bar (Metropolis) from forward, you had to walk to the aft of the ship and then get a lift to the top floor. There are overwhelming opportunities to buy clothing, handbags, jewellery, gifts, and watches on board. Not satisfied with selling within the shops, as the days wore on, trestle tables were brought out so that a pinch point was created and you had to slow down to look at the merchandise on offer. Even during a wait in the restaurant bar for our table at dinner we couldn't hear ourselves. Sales people were literally shouting out loud - just like a market stall, selling, selling selling. I did on one occasion make a complaint to a senior officer who told me he could do nothing about the noise. In fact that last sentence could sum up the attitude to the staff on board. It was very poor. If there was no tip in the offing - then they weren't interested. If it was outside their remit then again they were not interested. This included officers. Our cabin steward was very good, and deserved his tip at the end.
Thought we might mention alcohol. Alcohol is available to drink in your cabin from your steward. The corkage charge is £1.50 per bottle which is quite cheap. For example, Baileys litre bottle cost was £10 from the shop (who would let you have it at the end of the cruise) plus £1.50 corkage to drink in your room if purchased from the steward.. Well worth it when you consider that the bar price for Baileys is £4.70 for a 50ml measure. My local pub charges £2.85 for the same measure, tax and duty paid. The profit on that makes your eyes water. We have noted below some prices: Pint of lager: £2.90. Pint of bitter: £2.65. Bottle of Stella 330ml: £2.75p. Cola 150ml can: £0.75p.Gin: £2.15 for a 25ml. measure. Glenfiddich whisky: £2.60 for 25ml. Benson & Hedges cigs: £2.55p. for 20. Golden Virginia per 50 gram - £4.95p.Crisps: 80p. Had a couple of massages whilst on board priced between £60 & £88. Very expensive but oooh so worth it! Incidentally we had booked our massages direct with P&O some weeks before leaving. No details of the booking existed in the spa. I'm told that that was not the first time that had happened. Disembarkation was very smooth at Southampton. Had to wait about an hour and a half to get off, but were so relaxed by this time that it didn't matter. All in all a very enjoyable cruise. We always say that we will try and watch the pennies next time, but P&O have money extraction down to a fine art.
Howard18’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin C317
Our balcony cabin was considered by us to be small - less than 200 square feet with a fair amount of hanging space. There was also a safe. The shower room was quite compact - but it did the job well save for the fixed head shower unit itself which was a slight problem. We prefer flexible units.
Their was a small but quite adequate fridge stocking iced water and ice. Plenty of room to keep mixers etc. Fair sized television with SKY news, a choice of old TV programmes and the ships log. You can also keep a running tab regarding your account on screen. There is a dressing table with two 13amp sockets plus a hair dryer.
The saving grace for the cabin (stateroom) was the very large size of the veranda balcony. This was nearly half the size of the cabin. Plenty of room for a small table, footrest and two reclining chairs. Smoking is allowed on the balcony. However, the walls in the cabin are very thin and I was woken by a passenger in the next cabin snoring.
The following point is quite important if you are booking a superior balcony or a balcony cabin: A and B deck balconies overlook C and D deck balconies. C deck balconies also overlook D balconies. This might at first seem a bit intrusive - but when the sun is high, you still get the sun on C and D balconies - not A and B. We regularly sunbathed on our C deck balcony well into the afternoon. So we had the sun from early morning for most of the day (starboard side). Lastly you could order breakfast in your stateroom - but not bacon and eggs.
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