Just back from a two week cruise on Ventura with our two children (age 2 & 4. As usual with P&O, embarkation was very quick and easy. We had some reservations about the size of the ship, but can honestly say we never felt we were on board with 3000 other pasengers. Around 100 children were on board, most of which we never saw, but were informed during August School Holidays there were 800! That would have been very noticiable.
Our biggest mistake was booking the fixed time eating at 6:30. Having always eaten at 8:30pm on previous cruises we booked the earlier sitting to "fit in" with our childrens routine at home, however the rush to get us all ready in time for dinner was not worth it, missing some of the best parts of the day on deck to get ready. Often the childrens meal would not turn up until we started our main course which led to a fed up children and a complaint to the head waiter. By the second week we gave up and started eating in the Waterside or Beach Hut when we wanted which was so much more relaxed.
Our cabin was very roomy having booked the superior deluxe cabin with a sofa bed instead of bunks. Small details like a blue duvet and pink duvet for our son and daughter was a nice touch, (as was the complimentary champagne, chocolates, robes and slippers for my Husband and I). However on the downside we felt that the staff were more impersonal and looked under more pressure than on previous cruise ships (Adonia, Oriana, Arcadia), the cabin was not that clean, we found a dirty pair of girls pants and a used knife under the sofa-bed, my mum found a pair of men's pants in her cabin also!
The kids club in general was clean, very well organised with large areas for the children to play including an indoor soft play area and secure outdoor play area, computers and a well stocked toilet/nappy changing facility. The kids programme was vast and ran until 10:30pm where upon which our children were usually asleep and could be transferred if you wish to the night nursery, although we did not use this service.
Overall, Ventura is an excellent ship for Children, my Husband and I have learnt to select freedom dining from now on and our impressions of Ventura were good but the food and entertainment was not as high standard as previously experienced on P&O's smaller ships.
Great Location for young families, being near the laundrette and roomy for boisterous youngsters. Lots of wardrobe space. Quiet. Same staircase/lifts as the kids clubs, Havanna, and Beach Hut/Waterside Buffet.