Ventura N933 12 nights Madeira, Canaries and Lisbon, 17 to 29th November 2019
Embarkation at Southampton on the 17th November was quick and efficient. All the cabins were supposed to be ready for occupancy at 1.30pm, although we were in E227 before then. Ferdinand the cabin steward was self-effacing and well worth the personal tip on the last day of the cruise.
E227 is on Deck 8, just above the Promenade Deck starboard side a quarter of the way back. It is an Ocean View with no balcony and its window part obscured by the mechanics of the lifeboat davits. However, it is as big as a standard balcony cabin, albeit without the balcony, and at £812 pp with free parking was excellent value for this cruise. Since, apart from the mid-voyage part, it was generally cold and wet outside, not having a balcony was no disadvantage.
P&O no longer do the bed ‘turndown’ service with free chocs’ on Day One, no face flannels are supplied unless requested and our fridge was 100% empty – in other words if we wanted drinks from it, we had to order and pay upfront.
We never used the shipboard internet as our phones with data were included by the service provider when we were in the EU ports.
Food? Main served restaurants were Holiday Inn ‘Plus’ standard I would say, as I have before about Britannia.
Sindhu is well worth the cover charge but it is best to go on Day One or Two of the cruise as they give either a free bottle of house wine for two or a third off the £20 pp charge.
Glass House? On this cruise the service was diabolical. The food was excellent as always, but the service dismal. So dismal in fact that a group of us complained and we all got the food (eventually) for free. The deserts are to die for. A meal for two with drinks will be around £22<£30 total.
Beach House? Huge portions and the basic cover charge is only £7.50pp.
Drinks across the board on P&O are almost as low as Wetherspoon prices and if you have done 15 or more days or so with P&O then you get 5% discount as well.
The other passengers?
Michael Macintyre would have a field day!
For example, in the Tamarind Club venue one morning they were having a talk about their Iceland and Norway cruises. We arrived, the venue was quite full and as usual couples (elderly usually) had selected the middle two of any four seats, clearly wanting to guard their individual space. Asking them nicely if they would mind moving up one seat this particular couple refused, so we sat either side and talked over them to their annoyance! They got the message and left soon after moaning about sub-standard passengers nowadays!
The same sort of thing happened on disembarkation day when our meeting point was Deck 6 of the Arena Theatre for off-loading at 8.45. We arrived at approx. 8am to find without exception ALL the end couple of seats of the rows were occupied, no doubt so the inhabitants could be first out of the blocks to the gangway at the ‘call’ time.
Since everyone had carry-on cases/coats/bags etc., it meant the ‘end sitters’ were climbed all over to their annoyance as 100’s more guests then arrived which served them right when the obvious thing to do was to move up the row to let in the new arrivals. As it so happened sitting at the end of a row also made no difference since we were, as always, called off by row and on this day to the opposite side of the ship!
In other words, it seems to me that some people don’t like to be challenged and are inherently selfish. A final example of this was in the buffet one day, when an able but elderly lady, was peering at the offerings just as a new batch of omelettes were put out. She pushed in, grabbed the flat metal server, put it under an omelette, stepped back with it and then gasped ‘I have no plate’ looking at me as if it were my fault, and she then promptly dropped the selected fresh omelette on the floor!
So, be prepared for a degree of selfishness amongst the passengers, many of whom were old(ish).
Entertainment? The Turnaround Kids were good and Paul Stickler who gave six talks on unsolved or solved but possible miscarriages of justice murders, was good and he always had a full-house – lots of single seats either sides of couples until the entertainment staff told them to move.
Ports of call?
Lisbon it rained – we took a taxi to El Corte Ingles - a huge department store like Selfridges in London where you could stay all day if you wanted, and not that expensive either.
Madeira it rained until lunchtime. Warning – if you want to use the cable car to see the botanical gardens etc., there are long queues. An organised trip might be better.
Gran Canaria? The main city, Las Palmas which is where the cruise ships dock, is like a smaller version of Lisbon and good for quality shopping with big discounts.
Lanzarote on a Sunday has little to commend it in Arrecife where the cruise ships dock, but the Mountains of Fire excursion into the Timanfaya Volcano National Park was very good with an excellent guide. You cannot do the drive around the volcanos by taxi or car, so an organised coach trip is best,
Santa Cruz, De La Palma, can be easily walked from the cruise terminal. Quite a nice small naval museum, cathedral and a monastery if they interest you. Main street has a range of traditional shops and bars.
Ventura as usual suffered a minor hiccup with her machinery on the way South from Southampton and on the way back we made an emergency unscheduled brief alongside stop at Vigo to offload an unfixable medical emergency. It was all a bit tasteless as passengers were standing four deep on Promenade Deck 7 to see the unfortunate lady being offloaded into an ambulance with local doctor, nurse and paramedics.
In summary: Good value, decent enough cabin, adequate food (but you have to pay extra for something really special) and the drinks definitely won’t bankrupt you. No auto gratuities nowadays and if you book a future cruise but then want to change it before the balance deadline, there is also no £100 special charge.
The other passengers if the cruise is from Southampton (and not in school holidays) will largely be from the older generation. Most are pleasant, but one or two can be quite inconsiderate.
Although we did not use Scubas, the P&O childcare nursery facility, it looked good and seemed to be popular. P&O will NOT book more children on a cruise than it can accommodate. I know this because we are taking our entire family mob on Iona next year and the adviser confirmed this fact and we have also booked another cruise on Ventura just for us, which says it all I guess.
An excellent cabin if you do not want a balcony or do want to pay the extra. Yes, you could occasionally hear from the Arena Theatre which is below and slightly to the front, but it really wasn't a problem.
Taxis are very cheap in Lisbon but some of the drivers are NOT multi-lingual.
A good well-organised tour.View All 40 Mountain of Fire Reviews
If you stay in the main town, 3
Embarkation port, so no reviews.