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Sail Date: December 2010
Just returned from two weeks in the Caribbean on the Poesia. Never again. I will mention that some of what I'll write below was common discussion fodder with many, if not the majority of the people we spend time with on board, ... Read More
Just returned from two weeks in the Caribbean on the Poesia. Never again. I will mention that some of what I'll write below was common discussion fodder with many, if not the majority of the people we spend time with on board, but these are my personal experiences. I'm a relatively new cruiser, only 4 previous cruises under my belt, all with Holland America, and I'll stick with them. It was only a few days into the cruise that my wife and I both came to the conclusion, at about the same time, that regardless of the price, we would not stoop so low as to cruise with MSC again. Unfortunately, we still had another 10 days to endure. I read reviews ahead of time so I thought I was prepared for the food issues, but no. If you're a pasta lover, great, the pasta is cooked perfectly, as you would imagine on an Italian ship, otherwise, stick to the steak. DON'T stray to other things on the menu just because they seem interesting, you WILL be disappointed. And before someone jumps in to defend the Italian cooking, I've spend time in Italy, and there is no comparison. I suppose it might compare to some sort of 'institution' food in Italy, but that's not what I go on a cruise for. I suggest its best to stay completely away from the buffet. They used no sound abatement materials whatsoever and you'd have a hard time holding a conversation with those at your table over the din. Lunch buffet is burgers and dogs, or, as a kind woman pointed out to me a couple days in, on one side of the buffet they are making all kinds of interesting sandwiches. I headed over with interest to find a choice of runny egg salad slop, runny tuna salad slop and runny chicken salad slop... nice... I suppose that goes with the extremely watered down iced tea and orange juice,(only available in the morning, if you miss it, you're out of luck for the rest of the day.. or maybe that's good luck) The Asian and Indonesian room staff, general cleaning staff and dining room staff were terrific. The European office and head staff are atrocious... just like in Europe. Ship rules for the most part were completely unenforced. An example, the hot tubs. They are for 5 adults (and children over, I think 12, with an adult), and, although it shouldn't have to be said, those not in diapers... AT almost all times there were 7, 8 or more in each hot tub, many times all kids and MANY MANY times adults in there with their babies, in diapers... seriously. We didn't even bother after that. Also the reserving of deck chairs. It's very clearly stated that deck chairs are not to be reserved, but, as on every ship (and resort) I've been on, the deck chairs have towels on them from 7 in the morning until pool closing, most often left completely vacant all day except for a few minutes here and there during the day. The level of communication was abysmal. I didn't mind so much, as others have stated on these boards, about the multiple languages. They need to get information to people in their own languages and that's reasonable. But it's what they said that was so irritating. Nothing was ever clearly articulated, or at least not not in English. Again, I understand that I was on an Italian ship, but the cruise was marketed to an English speaking public and the vast majority of the passengers where English speaking. Either way, there is no excuse for inarticulate, confusing, misdirection in on board announcements. Leaving Ft Lauderdale we had two sea days, but the daily program, slipped through the door the first night, said we'd be in port the next day. Lots of confusion at dinner that night from people trying to arrange with friends and family the things they'd be doing in port the next day, except we'd still be 'at sea'. And when we did get to ports, the daily program gave almost mo information about the ports themselves. Yes, if one happened to wander down to the front desk they had an easel set up with a couple clippings of what to in port, but with 3000 passengers stopping in to these ports week after week, would it be so hard to put that information into the daily program? As for that program itself, forget using it as an event guide for each day, which it was undoubtedly designed to do. The information is scattered all over the four pages in random fashion and there seems to be no logic as to what is, or is not, included in the hourly schedule on the back page. If you had something you wanted to do or see, you needed to scour the whole program to find it, and then also scour the program again to find out if the timing conflicted with anything else. Bizzare. The scrolling text news channel on the TV DID NOT CHANGE for the entire two weeks., The in-room interactive TV information was often outdated, showing excursions for not just previous days, but even previous cruises. The library consists of about 100 books in English, (and an equal amount I suppose in a couple other languages), VIRTUALLY all are fiction, story books. If you're looking for something in a biography, or any other nonfiction book, you're out of luck. Cruise cabins are always smaller than you hope, obviously. We had a balcony which helped, but our bathroom's shower was the smallest I have ever experienced in my life. If you enjoy taking a shower with the flimsy shower curtain always sticking to you as you try to wash, this is just right for you! Safety-wise, there is no excuse for room service trays to be scattered about the hallways at all times of the day and night, as well as the cleaning equipment. So many time while negotiating the hallways in rolling seas we'd be having to step over the ever present interventionist of the vacuum cleaners A couple good notes, the ship was relatively new and spotless, (because they keep vacuuming!)and embarking and disembarking was a breeze! Of course, embarking was a breeze because of all the miscommunication. We heard MANY different time for embarkation, anywhere from noon to 4PM, we decided with nothing better to do we'd head over from our hotel at noon and were aboard, sitting in the lunch buffet, by 12:30 A small but annoying point, the main bank of elevators at the front of the ship, is four cars with two SEPARATE sets of buttons. I cant tell you how many times I saw people pressing one set of buttons and standing waiting while the other bank of elevators went up and down missing them. As for previous posters, yes, there were lots of children, and yes they were noisy and boisterous, but it was a cruise at Christmas time, so you have to overlook that. The ports of call were all short. I don't know if this is standard in the Caribbean as I've never been before, but getting in at 8 or 9AM and having to be all aboard by 4pm seemed rushed. It was if MSC had to pay extra to arrive early or depart later, yet the other ships we saw in port were often there well before us and still there when we left. In the Cayman's for example, people were still being tendered in, tender ticket in hand, at 11:30AM and last tender back was 3:30PM! I think I'm just ranting now so I'll sign off... J Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We booked this cruise as we felt it would be a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. We travel with two severely disabled young adults who are our children and have cruised many times, albeit, not with P & O. I have to state at the ... Read More
We booked this cruise as we felt it would be a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. We travel with two severely disabled young adults who are our children and have cruised many times, albeit, not with P & O. I have to state at the beginning of this review, that it is without a doubt, the worse cruise our family has taken. Firstly, I will highlight the good points. The cabins were good and kept totally clean throughout the cruise by our steward, who spoke little English, but was good at his job. Some of the reception staff were helpful and friendly, but some were not. We were allocated a table in the Peninsular restaurant, and, although we would normally use alternative dining due to my sons dietary needs and disabilities, we had to use the Peninsular as food in the conservatory was so awful! During our cruise, there were a number of Norovirus cases, and apparently, due to this, precautions were obviously taken with regards to stopping self service in the conservatory and Alfresco's. We do feel that if the use of hand gel had been insisted upon earlier in the cruise, this may not have happened. It always amazes us that some people absolutely refuse to use the gel that is there to safeguard them! We feel that if there was one member of staff allocated to making sure this was used, it would save problems in the long run. The food in the conservatory was dire. The choice was extremely limited and the themed dinner buffets made it useless to us as all food in there was spicy. The themes were Indian, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, Country and Western, with no alternatives. We have never been on a ship where the is so little choice. Also, portion control was practised, which again, we have never had on any ship we have been on. This is the first cruise where 3 of our party has not put on any weight at all. On one occasion, I asked for some Cheddar cheese to accompany crackers in the conservatory. I was given a piece of cheese which was approximately the size of half a cheese triangle. I asked if I could have more and was told that was a portion. We accept that the staff had to serve the food due to the virus on board, but many dozens of people felt that P & O saved an awful lot of money on food during the cruise. We also appreciate that some people are greedy and take food they do not eat. This was not the case, the portions were minute. Alfresco was where we ate our breakfast most days. The staff were good, but again, portion control was practised. My son eats only soft food and so a cheese omelette was the perfect choice. The omelettes were thinner than most crepes and although he has a small appetite, we needed to go back for another omelette for him each day. We were served to one piece of bacon and half a tomato. Scramble eggs were being served by the half spoonful. The Peninsular was good and they tried very hard to cater for my children. I cannot fault them at all. As this was a Christmas cruise, we expected the atmosphere to be festive and the entertainment to match the season. This was absolutely not the case! After the first 3 days, I found myself apologising to my family for taking them away from Christmas. Even the staff were unable to disagree that it seemed Christmas was cancelled. On Christmas Eve, it seemed we may have Christmas after all. Santa arrived on deck accompanied by Christmas music. The choir sang and were really good. Later, the crew sang Carols, and the show, 'Jingle all the way' was very festive. Apart from church services, that's where it ended! Christmas day was a huge anti-climax with very little to do. The only difference to the normal days entertainment was that words were added, ie frosty shuffleboard, Rudolph carpet bowls etc. It was pathetic! Christmas dinner in the Peninsular was good and quite festive. I can truthfully say that I have never heard so many people saying that they couldn't wait to get back to Southampton. I am not just talking about the usual moaners that all ships have, but families and people who had travelled with P & O many times. We spoke to many, many people who felt this way and the staff were apologising for the lack of Christmas. I had people who were horrible to my children, which has never happened on any other cruise. I have never been so glad to leave a ship and return home and will never travel with P & O again. I will also not recommend them to family or friends. We feel we lost our Christmas Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
I had always heard that Princess was a premier cruise line, but what we experienced on our Christmas cruise was nothing short of bottom of the line. We were one of the 113 cabins that had their LUGGAGE DELIVERED TO THE CABIN SOAKING WET! ... Read More
I had always heard that Princess was a premier cruise line, but what we experienced on our Christmas cruise was nothing short of bottom of the line. We were one of the 113 cabins that had their LUGGAGE DELIVERED TO THE CABIN SOAKING WET! Everything in our luggage was wet or damp and my formal silk dress was ruined! The cabin steward was slow to respond to our calls about the situation and after 3 calls to Passenger Services, he arrived to stand with his mouth open offering no advice or help. No one from passenger service or corporate ever contacted us about making amends! During the trip every call to Passenger Services took at least 6 rings before someone answered if anyone answered at all! Two of the 5 nights we ate in the dining room we had to get up from our table and hunt down our waitstaff as they would disappear during the meal. In addition to these huge problems, there were other small things that made their lack of customer service glaringly obvious: from the port security check to get on the ship took over an hour. The Princess employee checking in passengers was extremely slow and they held everyone up for id photos before boarding, but they only had 2 cameras for over 3000 passengers! The staff at the counter service areas, like the coffee bar, were rude and often would not say one word during serving us. Maybe a "Can I help you?" or a "Thank you"? Nope, just frowning. The food was average, the kids programs were nothing special, the elevators were slow and the pools were small, but I wouldn't have thought twice about things like this if only the customer service was there. It's the main feature I look for in any vacation. Next time I will use my money on a disney cruise where I have always found the employee to be stellar and the service to be top notch. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We received cruise as gift from Mom so I would be more MAD if I had to pay for this crap... EMBARKATION Got ride into NYC pier from family member... if you wanted to leave car at pier could cost $30 a day...Being Latitude ... Read More
We received cruise as gift from Mom so I would be more MAD if I had to pay for this crap... EMBARKATION Got ride into NYC pier from family member... if you wanted to leave car at pier could cost $30 a day...Being Latitude members, the line was relatively short and embarkation a painless process... BOAT As soon as you enter the boat there is somebody there already trying to sell you a drink(get ready for the nickel and diming to death)Entry in atrium is nice and boat is nicely laid out with many activities but a few years ago they did not charge for bowling w/c they do now and free meals only limited to dining rooms blue lagoon. Many rest. require an additional fee. CREW Mostly Filipino and maybe it is the way Norwegian pays their employees, compulsory gratuity or maybe it was b/c of the holidays but staff seemed inattentive, slow and uncaring for the most part. FOOD Garden grill has quick making grills ranging burgers, fries, sandwiches, soups, salads and deserts..pretty standard fare.. you get a little better quality, but you have to pay for it and it aint that much better... Cagneys(steaks and lamb chops) and LeBistro(French food, escargot, duck,foie gras). CABIN Unfortunately the cabin was and inside stateroom and with 2 adults and 2 kids quearters were pretty thight... it did not help that weather was cold the entire trip, swimming at your own risk of hypothermia, so when we wanted to chill, we got cabin fever really fast and felt compelled to leave. Also people smoking cigarttes and marijuana on our floors, called security, and told they have zero tolerance for drugs... unfortunately you cannot control other passengers behavior CRUISE DIRECTOR Robert Sugar... WORST cruise director... actually NONEXISTENT we've been on the Oasis of the Seas and had the pleasure to meet Richard Spacey who by far blew this guy away ACTIVITIES standard stuff, trivia, dance lessons, drink tasting but you still have to pay for stuff(see a pattern yet) SPA if you do need to go on the GEM spend the $100 for the spa w/c was our saving grace... therapy pool, sauna, steam and quiet place EXCURSIONS port canveral... Kennedy Space Center.. very cool to visit since it wont be around in a couple of years anyway Stirrup cay... would have been nice if weather was better... nice beach and nice barbecue... need a tender to get there Bahamas... aquairum at Atlantis but honstely also a big rip off.. you are probably better off going someplace else... felt like a second-class citizen when walking the grounds KIDS ACTIVITIES Tree Toppers... left our kids there on many occasions and they enjoyed their time there...entry and exit could run more smoothly but overall well run OVERALL DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY... If you like bad food, bad service and waiting in long, exasperaring lines this is the cruise for you... if you like to be with a crew that has NO clue what they are doing and feel that you basically have to fend for yourself... you will enjoy this cruise... needless to say we will NEVER cruise on Norwegian ever again... HAD been on PEARL and DAWN and they were great but quality has gone down SOOOO much...! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We went on this cruise with a very open mind after seeing it featured on Watchdog and reading many bad reviews. We took hope in the fact that the ship was going into dry dock for repairs and "refurbishment". How wrong we were!!! ... Read More
We went on this cruise with a very open mind after seeing it featured on Watchdog and reading many bad reviews. We took hope in the fact that the ship was going into dry dock for repairs and "refurbishment". How wrong we were!!! This was an absolute nightmare of an holiday,if ever a ship was wrongly named then this has got to take first place. The corridors stink and the carpets are filthy and threadbare. The walls are covered in big black marks were pictures have been hung and are no longer there. The lifts, (when working) stink and are of an hiddly piddly nature, you can go so far in one lift then have to get out walk to either the front or back of the ship to get another lift to continue your journey. Why don't you just walk up or down the strairs to get to where you want to go I hear you ask?? Because more often than not, the stairs are fenced off and you aren't allowed to walk down them. The aircon did not work in either the cabin or throughout the ship. Cabins of a good size but the bathroom dated and dirty, the bath comes complete with a permanent black scum mark all around it. Drawers extremely difficult to open. Work constantly being done whilst passengers are trying to eat. People allowed to smoke next to uncovered food causing smoke to taint food. Hygiene standards not maintained with regards to hand cleaning. I could go on and on but I would be here all day. This ship was not sorted whilst in dry dock, resulting in so many delays reaching our destinations. Until we actually left Madeira for the transatlantic crossing we were unsure if we would actually sail. The ship was sailing on one engine and limped to our destinations in Europe causing cancellations to excursions. There is a constant shuddering which can be felt throughout the ship, even lay in bed you can feel it through your pillow. I strongly advise anyone due to travel on this ship to think again and look to transferring to another ship. We have cruised with Thomson's previously and not experienced anything like this. I would never go on this ship again Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We sailed the MSC Poesia between Xmas and New Years and I can only say that it will be a holiday that I will never forget....so I therefore will never make the mistake of sailing with MSC again. We were with a group of 19 extended family ... Read More
We sailed the MSC Poesia between Xmas and New Years and I can only say that it will be a holiday that I will never forget....so I therefore will never make the mistake of sailing with MSC again. We were with a group of 19 extended family members. Let me try to say a few positives: Cabin Stewards were nice and helpful when around, and the rooms and common areas were very clean. Great excursion in St Thomas - we did the kayaking Eco tour and it was well run and great for adults and kids alike. Although honestly, they could have told me that they were going to feed me to a tank full of sharks during my excursion and I would have signed on just to get off of the boat for a day. The only other positive thing was that we got to spend time with our family which we don't see that often for extended periods of time. These 3 are the best I can come up with, and the last one isn't even related to the actual cruise line. Sorry, I tried. Not to reiterate all of the other negatives (which I agree mostly with all that I read) To highlight a few: Buffet lunch was ridiculous. The set up was a cattle call in the making, the menu variety was non-existent, the staff was not helpful at all. I am not talking not helpful like they wouldn't carry your plate for you, I am saying not helpful like at the water and beverage station (which there were way too few of) if they were out of cups and you found someone to ask, the response was "we are out" or "I don't know". That scenario was a daily occurrence. So frustrating to feel like you had to wonder all over the ship just to get a cup of water.... Seated Dinners were only slightly better. On other cruise lines where you often find a head waiter in the background providing leadership and direction to the more inexperienced servers --Not on MSC. I can honestly say, that not once did we get our coffee with dessert after asking numerous times. Once when my sister was waiting for her coffee after getting dessert 10 mins prior, instead of finally bringing coffee, the server came and tried to take her unfinished dessert! Every night was the same unfortunately. Quality of food and menu was better but overall disappointing service. Too little time at ports of call- the only time that we got a full day in port was at St Thomas. We only had from 8-1 in St Martin and 3-6 in the Bahamas. Such a joke. If there was ever a ship you wanted to get off of, it was this one ...and unfortunately even that was poorly scheduled. No activities for kids- other than the dino room which was for young toddlers and about the size of 2 cabins, there was nothing for the kids scheduled. All activities like bingo, clay making and painting were for ADULTS only. Lots of smoking onboard-- don't forget that this a Italian owned and largely European traveled, so that means much more public smoking than Americans are currently accustomed to. In the casino, some lounges, decks etc. In closing, I have to say that I have traveled top of the line and camped for days without running water. Overall I am not hard to please, but I could never recommend this ship or cruise line to others. I never have taken the time to write a review of anything as a consumer, but If I can keep one person from wasting their money and vacation time than it's worth it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
NCL-Pride of America is the only Cruise ticket in town so they don't have to try harder. However, this will be the only and last NCL cruise we will ever take. For the most part the shows and accommodations were pretty good although ... Read More
NCL-Pride of America is the only Cruise ticket in town so they don't have to try harder. However, this will be the only and last NCL cruise we will ever take. For the most part the shows and accommodations were pretty good although the ship could use some redecorating and refurbishing but these are not my major complaints. The food in the main dining rooms are of low quality and just bad tasting. The ship has several other specialty dining rooms and you are charged and extra fee ($20.00/Person) to eat there and you must make a reservation. We did not try any of them for fear that the food would be just as bad as the main dining rooms. All the food comes out of the same kitchen. The cruise ship dining experience should be one of the highlights of the cruise and always has been in the past. Additionally, we were constantly harassed to purchase and spend on other things such as photos, art, beer tastings, wine tasting, pub crawls and even bottled water and soft drinks were extra charges even at meals. We no sooner got on board and we were approached by a bar maid to purchase 6 bottles of wine which were way over priced, which we would be able to drink on board. However, one would have to give 24 hours notice if you wanted one of them delivered to your cabin or the dining room. We thought this was "Free Style Cruising". They also charge $12.00/day/person as a gratuity and in addition add a gratuity each time you order a drink. I guess that this is not an incentive for providing excellent service. Each time you disembarked the ship you were harassed to have your picture taken and believe you were not asked. You were herded to the spot and told to stand in certain place for the photo. This was in such bad taste. By the way, these photos were $20.00/each. Everything on the ship was an additional $20.00. Get this one! We took the cruise which covered Christmas Eve. It was announced that they would be having a Christmas Eve Brunch for an additional-Yes you guessed it, $20.00/person. I believe that this was best of all since we were already paying extra for the Christmas Cruise. The very first day was a disaster. My husband and I brought a single bottle of wine on board. We boarded the ship at noon. At 6:00 pm we had not yet received our bags. We finally received a letter at our door instructing us to come to the 3rd floor mid ship to pick-up our suit case as they found liquor in the bag. There must have been 50 people waiting in line to get their suit cases. The ship has a RULE that you are not allowed to bring your own liquor on board. You must purchase it from them. We could have kept or bottle of wine if we agreed to pay a 15.00 corkage fee and let them keep it to be delivered to us at dinner or our cabin at a later time. This is so ridiculous and really promotes really bad feeling and relations. All in all, this was NOT a good experience and would not use NCL in the future for fear of the same experience. Also, the cruise line owns the onshore tour company that they promote. You can probably make a better deal with Roberts Tours which is another Hawaiian tour company. My husband and I Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
This was a Christmas & New Year cruise of 28 days. Ship much too big, not enough room in Playhouse, Manhattan Lounge, Malabar Lounge, to accommodate - hence several arguments with people blocking views- had to get to show lounges long ... Read More
This was a Christmas & New Year cruise of 28 days. Ship much too big, not enough room in Playhouse, Manhattan Lounge, Malabar Lounge, to accommodate - hence several arguments with people blocking views- had to get to show lounges long before start to get a seat. Gave up towards the end of cruise. Stuck out the appalling service in the restaurant for two weeks before giving up and eating in self service. was told by maitre d it had 130 people too many in the restaurant and the kitchens could not cope. No supervision in any restaurants or bars etc- hence dirty tables, no cups or glasses, many times no cutlery. In the playhouse people were sitting on the stairs blocking exits and bringing in chairs from outside. The ship is very badly organised no one able to take charge of any daytime activities. We would not recommend this ship it has far to many passengers and NOT ENOUGH SPACE for shows Etc. They should have learnt from the very bad reviews on VENTURA that there was a very big problem. The layout on Azura is crazy, when you leave the Playhouse you have to walk through the Glasshouse bar and restaurant -Great when you are trying to have a quiet drink or meal and 600 people are walking through, or queuing to get into the playhouse. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
My husband and I recently completed a cruise aboard the Brillance of the Seas. We departed Barcelona 12/29/2010. I was assigned cabin 7170. I paid for a balcony cabin and when I received my cabin assignment I looked on the website ... Read More
My husband and I recently completed a cruise aboard the Brillance of the Seas. We departed Barcelona 12/29/2010. I was assigned cabin 7170. I paid for a balcony cabin and when I received my cabin assignment I looked on the website and the placement of the cabin looked fine. There was no mention of an obstruction. My travel agent verified he saw nothing wrong with the cabin. However, when we reached the cabin the day we sailed we found it was about 40% blocked by the ships structure on the left side. Also, the overhang above the cabin kept the sun from reaching the balcony for most of the day. I paid for a balcony because I wanted to see the Mediterranean Sea from the entire cabin and to enjoy the balcony. My view was obstructed and substantially diminished my trip of a lifetime. I would never have gone on this cruise had I known this cabin was so horrible. In addition to the blocked view, we were directly above the Colony Club on the 6th deck. The music and drum beats reverberated into our cabin sporadically throughout the day and night. New Year's eve the music went until after 4am. We contacted guest services 4 times regarding the noise. They even sent a ships officer to our cabin regarding the complaint. While he was there, our steward verified the music was very loud to the ships officer. While the officer was there he said it must be from the club below. The placement of the cabin was responsible for the noise and of course guest services aboard the ship couldn't fix it. I have sailed 3 times on Celebrity ships with balconies and never encountered a problem such as this. This cabin should be marked as substandard due to the obstruction and the noise from the club so other travelers are not ripped off as I was. I see today there is a note about obstructions on many cabins, but I think it was just added. I contacted guest services at Royal Caribbean and received an answer from M Velasquez of Corporate Cruise Relations who said it was essentially too bad she hoped I would take another trip with them. Also the ship did not have enough dining space in their upstairs casual restaurant, the Windjammer. There was a constant milling around of too many people trying to eat at too few tables for breakfast and lunch. Very stressful for dining. Don't ever go on this ship as it doesn't make for a pleasant vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
After thoroughly enjoying a month long Christmas and New Year cruise last year on Oceana we decided to book the similar cruise on Ventura this year. What a huge mistake that proved to be. After only a couple of days it seemed as though the ... Read More
After thoroughly enjoying a month long Christmas and New Year cruise last year on Oceana we decided to book the similar cruise on Ventura this year. What a huge mistake that proved to be. After only a couple of days it seemed as though the ship was being run by an entirely different cruise line. Yes, the ship is large and we expected that. What we did not expect was that many parts of the sip were downright grubby - dirty marks on carpeting, really dirty tiled areas in the Waterside buffet and on one occasion chips were left lying on a staircase in the Beachcombers pool area for over 2 weeks. In the same Beachcombers pool area some birds had defaecated on sun loungers whilst the roof was open in port during the first week of the cruise and these were never cleaned during the remainder of the cruise. There are inadequate toilet facilities on the pool decks. In fact there are only 2 ladies cubicles and 1 disabled between the Laguna and Beachcomber pools and these have to be reached by walking in the smoking area and consequently they reek of cigarette smoke. The only other toilets are situated between the Beach House and Waterside buffet areas. One of our main complaints was the quality and choice of food. In the Waterside and Beach House buffets, the layout is very poor and it is necessary to wander with a laden tray to negotiate various foodstuffs. There does not seem to be a logical pattern to where the various food is located. Often the trays, bowls and plates were too hot to handle but this was obviously to help warm up the mediocre, often barely warm food. At breakfast fresh fried eggs were put out and I found that they were cold. Presumably they then have to warm up under the lights. During the second half of the cruise American type streaky bacon was provided but unfortunately not served in the American style i.e. crispy so it turned out to be greasy. The toast resembled re-cycled cardboard. The choice of fresh fruit at breakfast was very limited and repetitive. The even sliced the grapefruit into thin slices to make it go further! Bananas, when they appeared were of a quality that would not even have been sold as seconds in a supermarket. By the second week the honey in the little containers had solidified. It was almost as though they had not prepared for the fact that this cruise was of a month's duration and not the usual two weeks. Steak, which is usually on the always available part of the menu appeared most nights on the main menu. There was no way anyone could opt for a healthy eating option as many of the vegetables served were of the frozen variety. We endured the freedom dining on only 4 occasions as each time the service was extremely slow and when the food finally arrived it was not piping hot. The waiters had a tendency to try to get all the tables they were saving to catch up so that they could serve each table with the main course simultaneously. The quality of the meat and vegetables was second rate. The Christmas dinner was one of the worst I have ever had on a cruise ship - the turkey tasted more like something that had been artificially produced, sprouts as hard as bullets, roasted potatoes that my have 'visited' an oven briefly to give them some colour but no crispness. Dry Christmas pudding to follow with a brandy sauce that seemed to be alcohol free! We gave the New Years Eve dinner a miss and used room service! The only redeeming factor regarding the food was that there was a Beach House diner open every evening except Christmas Day and New Years Eve (unfortunately). Here there was a limited menu but the food was cooked to order and was excellent in comparison to the rest of the ship. It was interesting to note that as the cruise progressed the queues for this facility started earlier each night and there were many regulars using it, who like ourselves had given up on their regular dining room for similar reasons to ourselves. There was obviously some form of respiratory virus going round the ship as included on the usual letter about Norwalk virus it also included coughs and colds and requested people contact the medical centre if they were suffering from these. Everywhere you went on the ship people were coughing and full of colds. It was not surprising as this started on the outbound flight where someone behind us coughed constantly for the whole 9 hour flight! To make matters worse, the public rooms in the ship were extremely cold. It is the first time on a Caribbean cruise ( and we have done over 30 of these) when we have had to turn the air conditioning in our cabin up from the lowest setting. The only time the ship's interior felt comfortable was during the last two days in Barbados when normal Caribbean temperatures resumed. The first week of the cruise the weather was cool and cloudy in the Caribbean and then we headed north towards New Orleans, which was a further ordeal. P and O provided all passengers with the green immigration forms to complete (which have not been used for almost 2 years) only for the immigration officers to throw them away! The immigration ordeal started at 7.15 a.m. and only finished just after 6 p.m. as there were only 8 booths operating on the quayside. Interestingly though, the crew seemed to complete all their immigration procedures in order to start their crew drills and coast guard inspection by 10.30 a.m. Passengers who were only on the 2 week cruse hardly saw anything of New Orleans as they left early the next day for their return flights. Again it is not the first time P and O have been to New Orleans - in fact Azura was there the previous week so why wasn't there communication between the two ships as they must have encountered the same problem. We have been there on Oriana and it took til 2 p.m. for the ship to be cleared then and they only had half the number of passengers. St. Thomas, too, was a disappointment as we docked at Crown Bay which has very little in the way of facilities as the one at Havensight. In fact one shop owner remarked it was the first time they had had such a large ship in there before. It is obviously a cheaper option in the way of port charges etc. for P and O. It was impossible to walk into Charlotte Amalie and the open 'taxis' were charging $8 per person for the return trip. P and O provided shuttle buses in Port Everglades and Port Canaveral but nothing in St. Thomas. The entertainment was the usual mix of shows, comedians and tribute acts although we did have Tom O Connor appearing in the second half of the cruise. Cabin TV was showing the usual range of Christmas films the first two weeks but did not replace these with any additional films for the second two weeks. In fact the interactive TV was quite annoying as it took time to load and you had to get the remote in a certain position to operate it only to find that most of the films on offer were pay per view (not mentioned in any of the brochures). We did not even get a cruise log for the first two weeks and when we asked at Reception we were told that one had not been issued. Untrue as we had seen them in other pigeon holes. Likewise we did not receive any disembarkation information and were told we should have had one. There was no cruise overview issued for the second two weeks and the excuse given was that the entertainment had not yet been finalised! Were they working on a day to day basis and hoping that it would be 'alright on the night' and that passengers would not notice that some of the shows were repeated from the first half of the cruise. Many of the entertainment venues were not suitable especially the Tamarind where they had the classical artistes performing. There is a thoroughfare through this venue and we had to endure the kids club with their supervisors marching through and other passengers having quite loud conversations whilst walking through which is very distracting when trying to listen to classical music. The Exchange Bar and Casino were other walk through areas and there were often queues in the former waiting for the second performance in the Arena Theatre. There were very few quiet areas on the ship to sit and have a drink as there seems to be a necessity to have bands in most public areas. The library was quite small for the size of ship and had a very poor selection of fiction. Many of the books were old and in need of repair/replacing. It was almost as though all the other ships belonging to P and O had donated their oldest and tattiest books to Ventura.The librarian was not always at her post at the times stipulated which meant people left their returned books lying on her desk and others then picked them up without having to have them recorded. It just seemed pointless having the cabinets locked and specific opening times for the library when it could not be supervised adequately. Despite the fact that the Captain, Hamish Reid is quite a character and was on last year's Oceana cruise, he did not appear to be enjoying his sojourn on Ventura. We never saw him walking round the decks. He also seemed to be taking on the role of Cruise Director announcing all the evening entertainment and the shopping events when he was informing passengers that we were due to leave port. He also did not seem to be able to operate the public address system as most mornings in port we were woken by his voice in the cabin announcing that we had docked in such and such a port. He might just as well have started with "Hi de hi cruisers" to reflect the kind of ship he was running. There has obviously been a lot of cost cutting, changes and directives from Head Office since last year and standards have certainly dropped. I wonder, too, why there was a P and O director on board in Barbados on the last Friday? My advice to discerning cruisers avoid Ventura at all costs unless you want to experience how a cruise ship should not be run. Read Less

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