My wife and I selected the P&O Ventura as a first cruise as the round trip to Lisbon was only for 7 days and we felt we could put up with this whatever it was like. Before booking the cruise our main concerns were would there be endless queues as upwards of 3,000 passengers could be milling around. (3,400 on our trip). Embarkation at Southampton took about 40 mins from dropping the car. We arrived spot on our allocated time of 12.30pm and were surprised to see how busy the terminal was already - virtually standing room only. There were about 20 embarkation pass groups in front of us but as mentioned it took about 40 mins. We had a balcony cabin on B deck amidships on the port side. One day we had 8 foot waves (moderate apparently) but very little movement in our cabin or indeed of the ship. When docked we rarely had the sunny-side so if you want to sit on your balcony in the sun I would recommend starboard for this schedule. Never had to wait more than a minute or so for a lift except when the theatre (900 people) turned out. Easy to get seat/lounger outside. We opted for fixed, first sitting dining and the service and food choice was excellent in the Cinnamon restaurant. We shared a table for six and the other couples were of similar age (late fifties)and we got on together fine. One other main reason for opting for a cruise was that my wife had recently been diagnosed with Coeliacs (gluten intolerance). We normally take city breaks and the thought of asking for gluten free food in non-English speaking countries was a bit daunting. Every evening the head waiter brought the next day's menus to my wife (lunch and dinner) and helped her choose. Apparently we could have got the ordered meals anywhere on the ship the next day just by quoting our table number. In fact my wife was able to make her own choices from the extensive buffet in the Waterside restaurant. On a couple of occasions when returning from trips in port, we went for the afternoon tea and the staff were able to supply suitable cakes, biscuits and sandwiches almost immediately on request. Seating for breakfast and lunch in the Cinnamon restaurant was arranged by filling tables as people arrived. Therefore different every day. Everybody seemed very easy to talk to and friendly and were a spectrum of ages and cruise experience. Plenty of first timers for the same reason as us eg short trip as a taster. All were pleasantly surprised and would do it again. We used various bars and the Arena theatre for three of the Ventura company musical productions. Good standard and very popular. We were seated about 30 mins before start of 9.00 performance and theatre probably good as full 10 mins later. Also saw the Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox tribute acts in the Havana club which were also entertaining. Very good drinks service - either get it yourself or from roaming waiters (pub prices). Disembarkation was again problem free. We were given a 10.15 slot to leave by the random allocation system (8.45 earliest) but in fact got off 30 mins ahead of schedule. Overall, we really enjoyed our first cruise and the ease of getting an excellent choice of gluten free dining was a brilliant addition. We would certainly go again but probably only consider the larger vessels so that there is the same level of dining choice and entertainment we would now wish for.  

No Problems - gluten free dining

Ventura Cruise Review by Bob Fisher

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
My wife and I selected the P&O Ventura as a first cruise as the round trip to Lisbon was only for 7 days and we felt we could put up with this whatever it was like. Before booking the cruise our main concerns were would there be endless queues as upwards of 3,000 passengers could be milling around. (3,400 on our trip). Embarkation at Southampton took about 40 mins from dropping the car. We arrived spot on our allocated time of 12.30pm and were surprised to see how busy the terminal was already - virtually standing room only. There were about 20 embarkation pass groups in front of us but as mentioned it took about 40 mins.
We had a balcony cabin on B deck amidships on the port side. One day we had 8 foot waves (moderate apparently) but very little movement in our cabin or indeed of the ship. When docked we rarely had the sunny-side so if you want to sit on your balcony in the sun I would recommend starboard for this schedule. Never had to wait more than a minute or so for a lift except when the theatre (900 people) turned out. Easy to get seat/lounger outside.
We opted for fixed, first sitting dining and the service and food choice was excellent in the Cinnamon restaurant. We shared a table for six and the other couples were of similar age (late fifties)and we got on together fine. One other main reason for opting for a cruise was that my wife had recently been diagnosed with Coeliacs (gluten intolerance). We normally take city breaks and the thought of asking for gluten free food in non-English speaking countries was a bit daunting. Every evening the head waiter brought the next day's menus to my wife (lunch and dinner) and helped her choose. Apparently we could have got the ordered meals anywhere on the ship the next day just by quoting our table number. In fact my wife was able to make her own choices from the extensive buffet in the Waterside restaurant. On a couple of occasions when returning from trips in port, we went for the afternoon tea and the staff were able to supply suitable cakes, biscuits and sandwiches almost immediately on request.
Seating for breakfast and lunch in the Cinnamon restaurant was arranged by filling tables as people arrived. Therefore different every day. Everybody seemed very easy to talk to and friendly and were a spectrum of ages and cruise experience. Plenty of first timers for the same reason as us eg short trip as a taster. All were pleasantly surprised and would do it again.
We used various bars and the Arena theatre for three of the Ventura company musical productions. Good standard and very popular. We were seated about 30 mins before start of 9.00 performance and theatre probably good as full 10 mins later. Also saw the Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox tribute acts in the Havana club which were also entertaining. Very good drinks service - either get it yourself or from roaming waiters (pub prices).
Disembarkation was again problem free. We were given a 10.15 slot to leave by the random allocation system (8.45 earliest) but in fact got off 30 mins ahead of schedule.
Overall, we really enjoyed our first cruise and the ease of getting an excellent choice of gluten free dining was a brilliant addition. We would certainly go again but probably only consider the larger vessels so that there is the same level of dining choice and entertainment we would now wish for.
 
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Cabin Review

Outside Twin with Balcony and Shower
Cabin JB B422
B 422 (deck 11) port side with balcony. I chose this position as being amidships and about in the middle of the decks so assumed least movement in bad weather. Also, almost equidistant from dining rooms and pool/sun decks. Cabin generally very quiet but minor rattling on night with force 7 wind. We asked for the double bed configuration which I think gave more usable room than having it as two singles. There was a shower, basin and WC in the bathroom and this was rather cramped but adequate. For the majority of the port time our balcony was in the shade.
  Ventura Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Lisbon
    We took the city tram and coach trip. We were divided into two groups of 20 and were put on one of 2 trams with a guide. The tram trip lasted over an hour and we were given port (several top-ups if wanted) and custard tart type pastries. The coach then took us down the river to view a monastery, watchtower and monument to Henry the Navigator (about 10-15 mins at each). We would have liked more time to wander around Lisbon but you would need to return on the shuttle bus to do this.
     
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  • Vigo
    Docked across the main road from the town. It was a bank holiday and virtually everything was shut even part of the cruise terminal. Walked up the hill to the gardens and castle. Unfortunately the civic centre tower block was right in the middle of the view of the Ventura so poor photo composition. Even if the shops had been open I don't think we would have used many (eg C&A, H&M etc). We wished we had gone out of town. Went back to the ship after about 2 hours and had lunch there.
     
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