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34 Venice P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews

My boyfriend and I were new to cruising this year and have just disembarked the Ventura ship with P&O Cruises. It truly was the holiday of a lifetime and whilst we have no other cruises to compare this to, we do have reasonably high ... Read More
My boyfriend and I were new to cruising this year and have just disembarked the Ventura ship with P&O Cruises. It truly was the holiday of a lifetime and whilst we have no other cruises to compare this to, we do have reasonably high expectations and lots of previous experience of high quality holiday packages. We booked this cruise very last minute (just 17 days before embarkation!) and therefore wondered if we were too late to book certain excursions or for my boyfriend to hire a suit for the black tie events. Everything was so straight forward and easy to organise. We had access to the P&O ‘cruise personaliser’ online which enabled us to book excursions, book a reservation at ‘East’ restaurant, order a suit etc. I was very impressed with this personalised touch and the way we could see our personalised holiday itinerary at a glance before we’d even arrived. Let me get to the holiday itself! Everybody looks for different things on holiday but I genuinely believe this ship had a wide enough choice of everything to suit the vast majority of people. I personally enjoy: excellent food, engaging entertainment, space to relax in beautiful surroundings, exercise and spa facilities and a well-equipped and comfortable room. My boyfriend enjoys these same things as well as lively nightlife and the opportunity to socialise with fellow holiday makers. FOOD Ventura boasts a wide range of restaurants, both a la carte and buffet styles. AMAZING food! We were allocated a table at the Bay Tree restaurant, 2nd sitting which tended to be around 8.30pm. Reading some other reviews, I can see that some people don’t like having allocated meal times but for us it worked well. We enjoyed knowing we had a table reserved at this top class restaurant and I loved the nightly process of getting myself dressed up for the occasion! The menu varied every night (7 nights) and every night the food and service were brilliant. I am a vegetarian and was concerned that my options may be limited or repetitive. How wrong I was! I enjoyed delicious concoctions that I’ve never tried before most nights and even the soups were varied across the week, all equally tasty. My boyfriend was blown away by the food and loved the fact that he could order 2 different mains in a night if he fancied it for no extra charge! Desserts were also fabulous and varied every night. The waiter service was 5 star, with our waiter remembering after the first night that I like a peppermint tea after eating. Amazing when you consider the masses of people those waiters serve every day and the fact that they’re never on board for very long! The buffet restaurant was very good for breakfast – a wide choice of cooked food (including vegetarian sausages!), continental style food and lots of fresh fruit. We didn’t tend to use the buffet for meals other than breakfast as we were booked in at the Bay Tree but the one night we did opt to go there for dinner, we were again very impressed. We had 1 evening meal at ‘East’ and my word, it was one of the best oriental restaurants we have dined at. And we’ve been to a lot! The food was an explosion of tastes and the service was impeccable. For an extra £15 per person to dine there for an evening is well worth it. A restaurant of that standard in London would cost about £70+ per head for what we had. There is a wide variety of food available throughout each day too; including BBQ grills on some days, freshly prepared pizza to order, ice-cream and the buffet restaurants. Not to mention afternoon tea and inclusive room service. I am not a drinker so can’t comment on the alcohol available, however I love a mocktail and there were some excellent varieties on board. For just £2.50 a drink, they were the best value for money mocktails I’ve ever had. We bought a ‘soft drink’ package where we got 20 drinks for £35. Super value for money! My boyfriend had the odd alcoholic drink and was impressed with the quality but noted that they’re not particularly cheap. CABINS We stayed in a balcony cabin on deck 14 (Riviera deck). Excellent cabin with great facilities. The bed was queen-size and extremely comfortable. The interactive television gave us access to a range of inclusive films and shows and we could also order room service via the TV. The bathroom was well lit with lots of towels provided, a large mirror and perfectly adequate shower considering we were on a ship! The balcony was a very nice added luxury – the morning views were spectacular and we spent a few afternoons on our balcony playing chess (borrowed from the on-board library) and sipping afternoon tea! The room-keeping was superb and beds were made at least twice a day, with chocolates left on our pillows after every evening meal and towels shaped into animals! The cabin was spotlessly clean upon arrival and maintained to a high standard every day. We were very impressed with the fact that we didn’t see our luggage after we checked in at Manchester airport until we checked in to our cabin. The same for the journey home, we left our luggage outside the cabin the final night and were reunited with it back at Manchester airport. Very well organised! ENTERTAINMENT We enjoyed a whole host of nightly entertainment in the theatre and various bars. We enjoyed soul singers, West End style shows with singing and dancing and stand-up comedians. We also made use of the casino which was pleasantly low priced with minimum bets being just £2 for blackjack and three card poker. My boyfriend actually ended our cruise up by about £50 in the casino so that was a result! There were 2 black tie nights during our 7 night cruise and these were great fun. There were lots of on-board photographers to capture the moments and whilst we didn’t purchase any photos, we enjoyed the novelty of being treated like celebrities! In the daily ‘Horizon’ newspaper that was delivered each prior evening, there was an outline of sporting activities for the following day. Unfortunately for my boyfriend, these events were unattended and therefore didn’t take place. There are sport courts on board but my boyfriend only got to play me and a random child! I suspect people are too busy soaking up the sun to want to play sports but if they’re advertised as being on, it wouldn’t hurt the staff to try and encourage people to attend. RELAXATION Despite what some people have said about Ventura being over-crowded and packed out with children and teenagers (it is a ‘family-friendly’ ship!), we found this not to be a problem. I did pay extra for access to ‘The Retreat’, which in hindsight I’ve realised was unnecessary as there were lots of quiet areas with empty sunbeds throughout most parts of the ship. The only area I avoided like the plague was deck 15, (Lido deck). This was where families with children and teenagers congregated around the pool and it would have been difficult to claim a sunbed here or to relax as the music was always loud all day. But of course, that’s what some people love and enjoy – if I came on board Ventura as a child, this would have been perfect! ‘The Retreat’ was not at all pretentious as another reviewer claimed it to be, nor was it empty. It was actually fully booked the day we embarked and we were lucky to be able to book it. It was wonderful to have waiter service on these comfortable and well spread out sunbeds. I spent lots of time up there reading books and sun-bathing! One thing I have learnt for next time is not to use the ‘Oasis Spa’! I booked myself in for a hot stone massage on the first day. Relaxing as it was, it was not worth the extortionate price. It was as good as a massage at a ‘Bannatyne Spa’. These cost half the price charged on Ventura. There is a cheeky 10% service charge added on at the end. The first mention of this was after the masseuse asked me if I’d enjoyed the massage and I said I had. You then feel obliged to pay the extra 10% service charge. I would have preferred to know about this before I booked the treatment, had I known it would cost nearly £100 all in I would have left it! I found the ‘Oasis Spa’ to be generally over-priced for what it offered and the staff here are clearly on commission and trained to use pushy sales techniques, which was disappointing. The masseuse tried to force expensive Elemis products on me after my treatment to which I had to refuse 2 or 3 times before she accepted that I wasn’t going to buy. I took part in a yoga class one morning and have to say, it was of a better standard than my usual class at the gym! The instructor was clearly highly trained and experienced and offered a great class that I’d recommend to anyone. EXCURSIONS We did 4 excursions during our cruise. A tour of beautiful, mountainous Montenegro first. This was a 5/5 trip, excellent organisation and value for money. We saw some beautiful sights and tried some local food which was really eye-opening. We visited a waterpark in Corfu which was again, 5/5. The waterpark was one of the best we’ve been to, rivalling parks in Florida! We could have done with an extra hour there before being picked up but it was a great day. We had a tour of Rome, 4/5. It was good but just not quite to our taste as much as we expected due to the very long drive there and back and the sheer crowdedness of the city. We should have expected this in hindsight. It was great to see Rome but it was too much to cram in a day really. Our final excursion was a beach trip in Corsica. I would only rate this 2-3/5. This was because the beach was very average with no sunbeds, very over-priced beachside eateries with slow service and not a long enough length of time at the beach. We actually had to get a taxi back to the ship because we were 4 minutes late to meet the coach and our names hadn’t been written down on this particular excursion so no one knew we were missing! FELLOW PASSENGERS There were a huge range of people on board Ventura, ranging from families with young children to solo pensioners. We spoke to various people in the restaurant, the bars and ‘The Retreat’ and all of them were lovely. There was no evidence of pretentious attitudes or people being rude to staff which I’d read about in 1 review. There is a problem with people reserving sunbeds with towels on the busy Lido deck. It clearly states in Horizon that this is not allowed, so people who are complaining about this are well within their rights to move peoples’ belongings from sunbeds to sit down. My boyfriend did this one day when he wanted to sit in this area for the sail-away party. SERVICE We were made to feel like complete royalty throughout this cruise by all staff we met. They can’t do enough for you and service is always with a smile. Anyone who complains about lack of service here must have some serious delusions of grandeur because unless you expect a personal butler, I don’t see what there could be to complain about! We have already put down a down payment for next year and can’t wait to return, I would recommend this cruise ship to anyone who is looking for an extra special holiday and something truly unique. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help ... Read More
As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help us and interact with our daughter at every step of the way. So lets break it down - We arrived in Venice and had a walk around having spent the night in a hotel and got on the ship around 2ish. The check in process and embarkation were a breeze, plenty of staff around and helpful dock workers taking our bags for loading. We explored the ship for a bit and made our way to the cabin for 3 o'clock and our bags were already there and waiting. Riviera deck inside cabin R744 Breakfast is a self service affair with a choice of fresh fruits, cereals, muffins, meats, cheeses, smoothies and full English breakfast and according to my wife a horrible porridge personally all porridge is horrible so….. There is a continental side at the aft of the ship with waffles apparently however this seemed to finish at 7.00am and we missed it every day. We mainly attended the mid section of the ship. This was the only time that you can get access to anything other than water coffee or tea free of charge with pure orange, apple and pineapple available. Lunch is the same sort of setup as breakfast with a mixture of hot and cold food and usually with a curry or something as well High tea - sandwiches, cakes, scones and cream……… all good………not for the waistline though…. Dinner - We ate at the Bay tree restaurant on the first sitting our waiters Mark and Sheldon were amazing and never stopped trying to play with Faye (our 2 year old) and make her smile. It took all week but eventually she was high fiving and laughing at them. The food here was rich and well presented with a standard classic menu that was always available and a menu that changed daily. It could have done with a little more variety by the end of the first week. The children s menu had a good selection of standard foods like fish fingers, burgers, chicken breast and you could pick and mix to create your meal with vegetables and potatoes etc. We only used the bay tree in the evenings and should have tried the buffet selection for the evening meal. As the first sitting meant we missed every sail away party and a few other events. The food arrives quickly and no sooner than one course is cleared the next is arriving which can make it feel a little rushed. On the first formal night we had a guest menu from Marco Pierre White - however we found it lackluster and the 2nd formal menu had nothing special about it which was disappointing as we had expected something from East. Speaking of which we booked a table there and included for our 2 year old - the food was simply spectacular. Everything we had hoped for the menu was varied and Atul actually visited each table chatted with guests and posed for photos. In hindsight we should have checked out the evening menus at the restaurants before deciding what to do for dinner. They were posted outside and its normally only a slight detour to check whats on or go for the buffet and then go play. Our daughter would have benefitted from this as she could have gone to play with Mr Bump or the family disco sooner. Entertainment - There was plenty to do on the ship had we ditched our daughter. Not much in the way of family events to get involved with at least not for a two year old. However she loved the Reef kids club and the staff there were brilliant with her. The events whilst not spectacular were definitely entertaining. Trying to keep track of what was going on was tricky. The horizon newsletter that is distributed each evening with the listings could be a bit better laid out as tracking what was going on was done by time rather than rooms and areas. There were plenty of bar areas to relax and unwind and the Tamarind and Havana were good places to sit and listen to different music acts and a cinema in the afternoon. Now we have done it once we would certainly have a better idea how to organise our time better the second time around. Cabin and service - Simply excellent, The cabin was always clean with fresh towels and we even got some jelly beans for the little one and a balloon on the first night which she loved. Every staff member from the backroom cabin crew,cleaners and the plumber that we met to the waiters, bar staff and officers were all friendly approachable and couldn’t do enough to help. I could write suggestions and improvements for ages but suffice to say we had a blast – it might not be as fancy as other cruises but we loved it and were already discussing another one on our trip home. One thing make time to visit the Spa the ladies and treatments were awesome - I would highly recommend the hot stone aromatherapy massage in particular (I had 2) when you go say hi to Edyta for me! :-) John, Kelly & Faye   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We love cruising, but I wouldn't cruise with Ventura again. We had a lovely holiday, but we had great expectations sine we have been cruising for years. I took my 21 yr old daughter and my 3 yr old granddaughter with me. Flew from ... Read More
We love cruising, but I wouldn't cruise with Ventura again. We had a lovely holiday, but we had great expectations sine we have been cruising for years. I took my 21 yr old daughter and my 3 yr old granddaughter with me. Flew from manchester to Venice was fine, they took cases at airport and they arrived straight into our cabin. check in was easy and fine. Cabin with balcony was fine but the bunk bed for a 3 yr old not suitable as she fell out, it is too open and also rattled all night, so I spend a cramped week with her in my bed. I am used the great service on P&O cruises sadly not on the Ventura. We were given Freedom dining - given a pager and waited ages for table - got too late to eat, waiters looked harrased and hurried us, forgot our bread, service was bad. Childs food was like something from Mcdonalds but not as good, & arrived when We were having our desert. Quality of food and service were not good. TRy the East restaurant ..you have to pay but it was excellent, Beach hut is also very good but you have to pay-if you want the quality and service you have to pay extra. Theatre was good, pools around kids area although very deep and you need to be with them all the time, are nice and warm, but you need to get early for a sun bed, Kids thought kids club too boring..hence no kids in there - which was one reason for taking our little one. Venice was lovely - you need to pay for boat to get there, but was lovely, as were most of the ports. Instead of waiting and trying to find table at the buffet - we just took trays back to cabin it was easier. British sail away was good fun. Beach hut and East for food although it costs. if you have a small child be aware of the bunks. Don't expect 5 star - you won't get it. TRy Oriana instead although adults only. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We have just returned from our first cruise aboard Ventura. Having read some of the negative reviews I was apprehensive about what to expect - I need not have worried. The first day went smoothly from the airport to the ship (a very early ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise aboard Ventura. Having read some of the negative reviews I was apprehensive about what to expect - I need not have worried. The first day went smoothly from the airport to the ship (a very early start unfortunately). After checking in, the hold luggage was not seen again until we were on board the ship. P & O staff were positioned all along the route through Venice Marco Polo Airport directing everyone quickly to waiting coaches for the transfer. Security checks inside the port building were reassuringly efficient and at around midday we had enjoyed a buffet (Waterside) before accessing our cabin at 12.45 p.m. (after getting lost in corridors a few times - see below!) For this cruise we had chosen an outside cabin with balcony, which turned out to be a perfect choice given the wonderful ‘sail ins’ and ‘sail aways’ to follow. The luggage arrived shortly afterwards, so we unpacked essentials before exploring the glories of Venice for a few hours (using the “People Mover” near the port entrance and on foot). This was a very pleasant start to the holiday before our return to the ship in time for the emergency muster drill. We had been allocated a Club Dining late sitting in the Bay Tree Restaurant (9.0 p.m. first day then 8.30 or 8.45 after that) Not ideal dinner times for us, but we soon adapted to this, as there are plenty of daytime food options to fill the gaps, including afternoon tea. This was also convenient if, as on a few occasions, shore excursions finished late afternoon. The restaurant staff, mostly from India or the Philippines, were friendly and attentive, especially the waiters in dealing with my wife’s special dietary requirements. We were directed to a table for two, which would have suited some couples, but (for variety of company!) the head waiter accommodated our moving to a table for six at the beginning of our second week. In the Bay Tree there was enough variety in the dinner menus for most tastes and a standard grill menu every night. We were very happy with both the quality and quantity of the fare on offer. On this cruise there were four formal nights and two ‘theme’ nights, one 60s and 70s the other Tropical. There was a nice buzz around the ship for these special nights - our fellow passengers liked to dress up on the black tie and black and white nights, but were less inclined on the ‘theme’ nights. We wore some 60s and tropical attire to get into the spirit but evening casual was the norm. We stuck with the Bay Tree Club Dining on this cruise except for one night in the White Room on Deck 19. The food and service here was exceptional - in our view well worth the cover charge for that special occasion. On the second morning at (waiter-served) breakfast in the Bay Tree, we heard stories from passengers about the storm and high winds the previous week. The ship had listed alarmingly for a couple of hours before righting itself due to the water emptying the swimming pools on the open deck to one side of the ship. Disconcerting on only the second day! They lived to tell the tale, and again we need not have worried - on our cruise it was rather choppy between Corfu and the Straits of Messina (Day 5), but by then we had our sea legs. After the horror story in the Bay Tree on the 2nd day we decided to go for buffet breakfast and lunches in either the Waterside or the Beach House. These areas were very busy on some port days, but we found it interesting sharing a table and chatting. We are not sun worshippers, but there seemed to be enough sunbeds for those so inclined. There is plenty on board Ventura to keep non-sun-worshippers occupied on sea days, quizzes, films, ballroom dance classes, some retail therapy - and more food. The library is quite small but has a reasonable stock of fiction/reference for days at sea - there are quieter parts of the ship (and balcony if you have one) to just sit and chill with a book. Drinks prices (and wine packages) are comparable with the UK. The Oasis Spa treatments were high quality, but expensive. The evening entertainment it must be said was not always to our taste, very middle-of-the-road, but passengers who went to the theatre and Havana bar we spoke to enjoyed the high energy shows with the Headliners, the 4 Tunes, and some tribute acts. We caught the tail end of some shows after the quizzes in the Exchange which we went to most evenings. The entertainment staff were energetic and funny - but some passengers did take quiz nights a bit too seriously! The ports visited, the main reason we chose this particular cruise, were varied and interesting. Having previously visited Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Rome we booked organised shore excursions for places not yet seen. These were somewhat pricey, but guaranteed to return to the ship on time. More confident cruisers went ashore independently and most we spoke to had no difficulties getting around. The guides on our “Best of” Corfu, Ajaccio, Dubrovnik (sadly, the only day of rain) were very informative. The highlight trips for us were Paradise Gulf (boat trip to Portofino) and Herculaneum, which was outstanding. Apart from Dubrovnik (sadly the only day of rain), we were blessed with fine weather - there were some unforgettable moments, including wonderful scenery around Kotor (a hidden gem), sailing by Stromboli, sunrise over Vesuvius, and sailing into Venice. Ventura is a large ship and rather daunting for first time cruisers. We were provided with a “side view’ deck plan when we first went on board, but no plan views of the decks. Apart from reception staff, there were no crew members directing people to the different parts of the ship. The geography of Ventura takes some getting used to, and the signage in the public areas is limited (come on P & O, you can do this!) This said, we thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and can recommend this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Had a week on Ventura for our honeymoon in september 2014. Embarkation was really quick and very easy at Venice and after a seamless journey from Manchester we were in our cabin by lunchtime enjoying the view from our C deck large ... Read More
Had a week on Ventura for our honeymoon in september 2014. Embarkation was really quick and very easy at Venice and after a seamless journey from Manchester we were in our cabin by lunchtime enjoying the view from our C deck large balcony. After a good look around skipped lunch and went for afternoon tea, in the main restaurant which was nice. Lovely slightly late sail away from Venice which I think changes soon with the cruise ports being moved so appreciated the view of St Marks etc weather little rainy next day but at sea so did cookery demonstration and chilled! Enjoyed all of the ports, stayed on the ship at Rome as been before and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Sunbeds busy on sea days but getting up and out to breakfast by 8-30 meant we were able to get tow no problem at the back of the ship just above the pool. Nice spot as fab views and cool breeze. Do think in the very busy areas it should be up to P and O staff to remove towels left for more than say two hours. We tended to have breakfast and lunch in the MDR as enjoyed the service and choices were good. Had dinner in MDR most evenings - food good, but would say no better than a good pub / gastro pub at home. Did try the white room, lovely view sat outside - little dark...hard to see the menu....service good but again not overwhelmed by the food. ordered the scallops, prawn and oyster dish and asked for no oysters as don't like...waiter had to go and ask chef if he was allowed to serve without..same for my husbands request for no snails with his steak...which i found a little strange..who is the customer? Didn't realise that all of the dish was tempura battered with a risotto that tasted floury so not really anything to cut through the tempura batter. Strawberry soufflé desert ok! Wouldn't go back for the food but lovely first week wedding anniversary location wise in the open air at the back of the ship. Really enjoyed the balcony cabin on C deck with covered area then part where yes others can see down into. This meant lots of chats with neighbours and a social atmosphere. All in all nice ship, I liked the size as always something to do..would have liked a comedian one night which there wasn't. Nice bar and couple singing / guitar at the metropolis bar on deck 18 after dinner. Ship not as glitzy as say RC or Royal Princess but a nice and friendly atmosphere. Waiters in MDR not a patch on RC didn't feel as though I could recognise ours other than they were near our table. Rest of staff lovely. Heading back onto Ventura for Caribbean in March, drinks prices good and liked the fact you could bring something yourself so much better than the american ships and you don't feel so......ripped off?? all in all benefits of P and O outweigh the slight negatives in my view. Looking forward to our next cruise and as a cruise convert form skiing and non cruise holidays previously....love the fact that its like a floating island where you go to your favourite restaurants each night, there is always loads to do with mixed age ranges and you wake up somewhere different most days. If in doubt try it!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Would like to inform everyone interested in P&O and Ventura specifically that we have just had an excellent two week cruise in the Mediterranean. We had the odd complaint about specifics as usual but, overall, the holiday was extremely ... Read More
Would like to inform everyone interested in P&O and Ventura specifically that we have just had an excellent two week cruise in the Mediterranean. We had the odd complaint about specifics as usual but, overall, the holiday was extremely enjoyable. We took friends with us who had never cruised before and they had a wonderful time and want to do it again. We had been on the same ship in the Caribbean in 2009 and we found it much the same. The cabins were very comfortable with an almost complete lack of noise from neighbours either side. The cabin steward (Savio) was excellent and our room was kept lovely and clean and our towels refreshed whenever required. The food in the main restaurants was very good. We think the evening meals in Cinammon were possibly better than 6 years ago. The buffets for breakfast and lunch are always excellent. Very geared to the British taste. We did not dine in the speciality restaurants. How much food does anyone need, after all? We did not have any trouble finding a sunbed on the 4 sea days (all of which were sunny). Considering there were 4 in our party I consider this an indication that some of the claims about being unable to find a space are somewhat exaggerated. Maybe not in your most idea location but still in the sun!! People still seem to have to rush upstairs at 7am to get their towels out though! I like a short swim every morning and had no problems with the Spa swimming pool which is child free. I can see that in the height of the season the main pools would be a nightmare with too many children. Our main gripes were the prices of the drinks - which of course are ridiculous on all cruise ships nowadays and P&O's excursions and lack of information about ports for anyone wanting to "do their own thing". We went on one excursion and it was, to put it plainly, awful. £41 each for about 2 plus hours travelling in a coach and no time to look around the town we wanted to see. Heard others making similar complaints. So, my advice is - don't book excursions. Do research on the destinations before you go and use the "Hop on Hop Off" buses. Altogether a pleasant experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Having been disappointed on other cruise lines sailing from Venice due to the chaotic and drawn out Embarkation / Disembarkation organisation this was an absolute pleasure. We handed in our bags at Birmingham and only saw them in our ... Read More
Having been disappointed on other cruise lines sailing from Venice due to the chaotic and drawn out Embarkation / Disembarkation organisation this was an absolute pleasure. We handed in our bags at Birmingham and only saw them in our cabin. The marshalling and transfer of passengers was totally excellent and there were ample check in staff. last time there was only 3 this time there must have been around 30. If all P&O fly cruises are this easy, even though I hate the airport part, I will definitely do it again. Maybe part of it was Birmingham departures as this is a great, well organised airport to go from. All the security desks were open even early and there were security personnel waiting for us. Very different. If you haven't sailed out of Venice do so whilst you can as it is spectacular . Forget dinner (though we had the new P&O version of freedom dining - set dining room but turn up when you want) as the view is much more important. Quite spectacular and this is the third time I have sailed out but previously always had a couple of days in Venice on the way out and the way back as well. Food overall was plentiful and very good. Entertainment was not the best as we only saw the Headlines Theatre company twice ( we would go to see them every night given a chance) but the other acts were more than exceptional, especially the Motown Queens. Guest speakers were good, bar prices reasonable (cheap by US lines prices), we got to all the ports, the organisation at each was great ad the staff with the exception of 1 surly waiter were fantastic. What's not to like? This is our 5th P&O cruise on various ships and the overall quality is consistently high and the cruise value equally so We are trying the new Costa Diadema in a few weeks and are hoping that the fly and embarkation parts of the trip are as good, but past experience tells us otherwise. Hope we are surprised Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and ... Read More
A pretty good cruise on the whole, embarking in Venice through to Montenegro, off to Greece's Corfu island, back to Italy for the Rome trip, then to Corsica and finally Genoa for the flight home. The weather was fine throughout and temperatures never really dropped below 70 deg F. Saw some fabulous sights from our outside balcony including night time lightning at sea, a moody volcanic island and some fantastic port destinations. Food on board was good on the whole in the standard restaurants with plenty of choice beyond the staples. The trips we booked were OK - from the wonderful mountain views of Montenegro to the olive groves of Italy - though they all began to get a little samey. Judging from the comments we have heard from others, the trip to avoid was the extremely long drive into Rome from the nearest port town. In retrospect I wish that we had researched the trips a little more, and checked out some of these reviews, before we, errrm, took the plunge as it were and booked every single available trip! The "rest" days, which were days at sea, while enjoyable in themselves, we not sufficiently restful between port trips to recover properly, so I would advise to go it alone more often on the port visits rather than take group trips all of the time. The evening shows on board, while of a high quality, were really not my cup of proverbial tea. The shows were spectacular, while being mimed, visually stunning while seeing "tap dancing" without taps, so again entirely mimed to such an extent that you kept wandering what it was you were actually being entertained by. Another slight point of contention with P&O was the penny pinching and up selling you come across on board, all of the time. An example of the former being when we were sitting down, as a group of six, just before the show and the canapes came round.... but we were ignored because we did not buy any drinks! Given that we were a relatively large group paying thousands of pounds between us, we felt second class citizens at that moment! And an example of of upselling is the constant "sales" on board of jewelry, clothing etc in the shops, all at special discounts, though you can easily buy the same things onshore at even cheaper prices (in Euros) that the ship's sale prices (in pounds). Having said all that, would we do it again? Probably, but with more pre cruise research.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our first cruise and, on the whole, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t praise P&O enough for the extremely smooth transition from Venice Marco Polo airport to the ship. We didn’t have the usual scrum round the baggage ... Read More
This was our first cruise and, on the whole, we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t praise P&O enough for the extremely smooth transition from Venice Marco Polo airport to the ship. We didn’t have the usual scrum round the baggage carousel. We just sailed through (please excuse the pun) customs, where a bored looking official gave our passports a cursory glance, and then the P&O staff guided us to the very comfortable coaches and onward to the Ventura. Our cases were delivered to our cabin later on. On arrival at the Ventura, I must admit it did feel like we were herded like cattle through the registration process. However, it was all done very quickly and efficiently and then we were on board. Our cabins weren’t ready yet but we were advised to go to Deck 15 for tea and coffee and an announcement would be made later. Unfortunately, we had arrived at lunchtime and the Waterside Buffet restaurant was packed with people. We couldn’t see one free seat. We were exhausted from getting up at 2am to go the the airport and we just wanted to sit down with a cup of tea. We scouted around for a seat and I noticed the Beach House bar outside and the fact that a few people were smoking on one side. I guided my, by now irritable, husband outside and told him to sit on a bar stool and light up. I then went and found the tea and coffee machines and we started to feel a little bit more human. Soon afterwards, there was an announcement that the cabins were ready and we went to find ours on Deck 9. We had booked a superior de-luxe cabin and we were delighted with it. It was spotlessly clean and bright with plenty of wardrobe and storage space, fridge, kettle, hairdryer, two TVs, vanity table and a sitting area with a sofa and chair and a decent sized bathroom (bath with shower). We couldn’t have been happier with the cabin. The other positive point about our cabin was the fact that it was extremely well sound proofed. You couldn’t hear any noise from neighbours. Any outside noise almost disappeared when you closed the balcony doors. The only sound we heard was if someone let their cabin door slam or if people were talking loudly in the corridor. Our steward kept the cabin spotless during our two weeks and we were always well supplied with tea/coffee/milk, plenty of clean towels etc. Excursions We did our own research before we left for the cruise and worked out where we wanted to go, train timetables etc. However, we did book one trip with P&O which was on the Genoa stop. We booked the Portofino trip which was around £63 each as there is no way we could have found our own way to Portofino easily. It was a lovely trip and we were glad we went on it, although we would have liked to have had more time in Portofino. We felt a bit rushed. For the Civitivecchia stop, we had already decided to make our own way to Rome on the train. The port authorities were very helpful in that they had set up an area where they were selling the train tickets and local bus tickets for the station bus. We purchased a return BIRG ticket to Rome for 12 Euros each, which is extremely cheap considering that the journey takes almost an hour and the ticket could also be used on the Metro and bus systems. We also purchased the local bus tickets we needed to get to the station, which cost 80 cents each. It was all made very easy and I am grateful to the port authorities for that. There were regular trains to and from Rome, approximately every half hour. To compare prices with the P&O equivalent trip in which you paid for a train ticket for a pre-booked seat and guide on the train only (basically just a train journey with help), the cost was £47 each. P&O did employ scare tactics as well on a couple of occasions. On their announcements and I think it was also mentioned in the Horizon newsletter, they kept repeating that Italian railways were notorious for sudden strikes and to make sure we had a back up plan for getting back to the ship. I understand that this is probably true and that there are strikes, but I was slightly cynical about P&O’s tactics. If you get stranded independently somewhere, the ship sails without you. If you are with a P&O excursion, the ship waits for you. In Ajaccio, we took the local open top bus tour which cost us 10 Euros each. The equivalent P&O excursion was £41 each (Introduction to Ajaccio). We took the train from Monaco to Antibes - price 15 Euros each for a return ticket. P&O Old Antibes trip - price £30 each. Again there were trains almost every half hour, except over lunchtime. Food We were allocated the Cinnamon restaurant and we went there to eat on the first black tie evening. We didn’t realise beforehand that they were promoting Marco Pierre White’s menu on that particular evening. I ordered the soup and my husband ordered the smoked salmon as starters, once we had translated the gobbledegook from the menu. The soup came and it was consomme. We did wonder if it had been made with the Knorr stock cubes that Marco Pierre White advertises. My husband had a large plate with a tiny piece of transparent smoked salmon, a small piece of lemon tied up in a muslin bag and a few other little bits of decoration. The main course was also just bits of food decorating the plates. We were so disappointed...and still hungry, so we skipped the dessert and went up to the buffet restaurant for some real food. We ate mostly in the buffet restaurant because the food was good and the choice was good most of the time. They usually had a different country’s food each night and this wasn’t a problem normally because there were other choices if you didn’t like the food from a particular country. The only problem we had was on the Tandoori night. Everything was spicy, even some of the salad choices, so if you didn’t like Indian food, there wasn’t much choice that evening. They did have a roast each evening, eg. roast beef, chicken, pork but the chef who was serving it was very stingy and only gave you a couple of very thin small pieces of meat. Entertainment Some of the evening entertainment in the Havana Bar was very good. We saw Elton John, Phil Collins and Kenny Rogers tribute acts, which were surprisingly good. In the theatre we saw a young singer called Paul Hughes who sang in the Frank Sinatra/Michael Buble style and we also went to see Tom O’Connor in the theatre as well. He is still going strong and is funnier than some of the younger comedians you see on TV nowadays. A few of the singers we saw were typical cruise ship cheesy singers and we did think that the ventriloquist act was just a step too far so we gave that a miss, but on the whole, the entertainment was very enjoyable. A Few Negatives The cost of the food on the Thomson flight. For the prices people are paying for their cruise holidays, not even a cup of tea or coffee was offered. A cup of tea or coffee cost £2.50, Kit Kat biscuit £1.30, sausage roll £3.50 etc etc. Drinks were quite expensive on the Ventura and I did notice that a lot of people were buying a drink and making it last. Also many people got tea and coffee or water from the buffet restaurant and brought them outside. A few examples of prices: Pint of Carling lager £3.85, small can of Heiniken lager £3.85, glass bottle of Coca Cola £2.50, other soft drinks £1.95. The Great British Sailaway - at the Laguna Pool and Breakers Bar area. This happened several times on our trip and was akin to Butlins holiday camp entertainment. Jolly, happy P&O entertainment people would lead a sing-along with all the happy sunbathers waving flags and cheering as the ship set sail from whatever port we were at. It was really just a promotion for whatever alcoholic drink P&O were promoting at the time but it was really quite cringe-worthy. The P&O photographers. On disembarking at each port the photographers were there to take another photo. On each black tie evening, they were there to take a special portrait photo. On another night they were taking a soft focus photo to make you look 10 years younger...and so it goes on. The photos taken on embarking and disembarking cost £11.80 each. The black tie portrait photos cost £17.95 each and the special album to collect all your photos in cost £21.00 so if you were daft enough to buy all of your photos, you could be paying around £200 over the two weeks, which is probably enough for a deposit on your next cruise! Arriving in Barcelona on a Sunday when all the big stores are closed all day. Not impressed by this. I assume it was P&O cost cutting over port fees. Also, leaving some ports early when we had a sea day the next day. Again, this could have been cost cutting. Gratuities. There is an automatic gratuity charge of £3.95 per person per day on the Ventura. For us this amounted to £55.30 each over the two weeks of the cruise. Someone we spoke to had one of his charges removed (he was there with his wife) and told us that he was met with quite a hostile response from the receptionist, but he made them take the charge off his account. He said he would rather give the money to his steward and a couple of waiters in his restaurant. You are within your rights to have the charges removed and when you think about it, it is a bloody cheek forcing passengers to pay gratuities. It is not the passengers’ responsibility to tip every member of staff on the ship. We left a good tip for our steward and we left the gratuities on our account but we would seriously consider having them removed if we go on another cruise. On the whole our experience with P&O on the Ventura was positive with just a few niggles. We have got the cruise bug now and would love to go on another one but we will do more research into other cruise companies before making our choice. I am sure there are pros and cons with all of them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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