P&O Hopes Tweaks Will Improve Ventura

November 14, 2008

With the inaugural season in the books for P&O Cruises' splashy new Ventura, the line has announced that while a lot went right with ship's debut, there's certainly room for improvement. Perhaps that's because P&O built its largest-ever Ventura with the family in mind -- a first for a line with a reputation as one of the more sedate, grownup offerings in cruise travel (the fleet has two ships that are designated "adults-only").

Industry publication Travel Mole reported today on a release that was sent out to travel agents outlining "challenges" faced during the maiden season, as well as potential fixes to said problems.

P&O's changes to Ventura are said to focus on dining (especially the line's Freedom Dining, eat-when-you-like plan), entertainment and ... deck chairs! So what's in store?

Dining: The release noted problems with "heavy demand for Freedom Dining at peak times, especially during the summer school holidays." In response, the line will be upping the number of tables at Cinnamon Restaurant (where the eat-when-you-want dining takes place), and introducing new reservation software to deal with flow.

Passengers will also no longer need to book a table in advance. Instead, they'll be able to arrive at their desired dining time, and when possible, will be seated immediately.

The Beach House, a family-focused dining venue, will be turned into an additional informal dining venue with waiter service.

Entertainment: There were also peak-time issues with entertainment, so scheduling is being improved to offer increased choice and flexibility spread out over a range of times.

Deck Chairs: When Cruise Critic reviewed Ventura, we noted the difficulty in obtaining a sun bed. ("You couldn't get one if you weren't up at the crack of dawn.") According to the release, the line is going to add deck chairs to some of the space allocated to Cirque Ventura (Deck 19).

Don't fret, the bungee trampolines aren't going anywhere, and the circus skills school (juggling, tightrope walking, etc.) will still be offered, just in a smaller space.

In addition, reclining chairs will be added to balconies next spring, in hopes of reducing some demand for deck loungers (because you'll have your own).

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor