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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: August 2014
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: July 2014
Having read several reviews, we were very concerned that we had made a poor choice in booking a P&O cruise. Talk of "chavs" and "Butlins" filled us with dread - whilst reports of poor standards on board had us ... Read More
Having read several reviews, we were very concerned that we had made a poor choice in booking a P&O cruise. Talk of "chavs" and "Butlins" filled us with dread - whilst reports of poor standards on board had us dragging our heels to the departure lounge. Wrong I'm afraid.... As part of our "package"  - we stayed overnight in Mestre before joining the ship in Venice. Arriving at the port just after 11am - the embarkation procedure was completed efficiently and we were taking our first tour of the Ventura by 11:30am. Like the majority of other passengers we were encouraged to head for the buffet restaurants for our first meal on board. The same restaurants remained extremely busy for the remainder of the cruise. Whilst we acknowledge the efforts of the staff to keep an even flow of food and passengers - the general standard was adequate and on par with the budget "eat all you like" establishments back home. Just ok.... For a more refined and quiet dining experience we opted to go to the Bay Tree Restaurant for most of our meals. The food was excellent - as were the waiters. Nothing was too much trouble. We avoided afternoon tea - but enjoyed the poolside grill for a lunch time snack. Unfortunately the pizzeria remained close throughout our stay. Our inside cabin was ready to occupy by 1pm and we were expertly looked after by our cabin steward Darryl (Deck 12-Aft). Slight vibration experienced as described by other passengers in this forum - but not too uncomfortable. The cabin itself was comfortable and reasonably spacious. The Ventura takes a bit of navigating & we were often confused by dead ends! However we soon learned that deck 7 was the centre of the Ventura universe - and you could find most facilities from here. Ok - we have covered dining and cabins..... The ship was full to capacity - and for most of the time we did not feel over powered by the volume of people. We were able to get seats at the entertainment venues etc, but experienced difficulty in getting a sun bed on sea days. Despite appeals from the staff about reserving beds - passengers were hoarding spaces with the flair of our German friends on the Costas...! My husband & son dared to leave their bed for a quick swim and some one complained that they had abandoned their beds. Pot - kettle....! There was a wealth of activities offered throughout the day. Sometimes it was hard to choose. I used the spa once - watch out for the special offers in the Horizon magazine. The men enjoyed sports, used the gym, watched films etc. I was happy to go along to seminars and dance classes. Something for everyone... As the daytime activities wound down - the ship took on a different vibe. Formal nights had an air of sophistication and it was great to see everyone in their finery. We mostly went to the shows in the Arena theatre: a male group called 4-Tunes (very good), cheeky comedian Peter Piper and the P&O theatre company: Headliners (superb). There were also tribute acts and vocal groups at other venues who were also very good. Port days were quieter on board. We enjoyed all ports - and were able to visit most on foot. We booked an excursion to Rome - as this was more difficult to manage ourselves. All in all we were very pleased with our first cruise experience and would not hesitate to travel with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We went on board with mixed views after reading previous poor reviews of a similar cruise in the Western Med. Not being a stranger on the Ventura I took a discerning look on my embarkation. We were told the cabin wouldn't be ready ... Read More
We went on board with mixed views after reading previous poor reviews of a similar cruise in the Western Med. Not being a stranger on the Ventura I took a discerning look on my embarkation. We were told the cabin wouldn't be ready until 1 pm but were beckoned by our steward to come into the cabin as it was ready. He introduced himself and was very informative advising us of our dinner booking and provision of other services he was able to provide. The cabin was spotless. When disembarking to spend time in Venice I noticed that the ship and it's fabric were clean and of a high standard. The meals on board were excellent and our waiter was extremely attentive and informative. We always had a leisurely dinner. We lunched and breakfasted both in Waterside and Baytree finding the food to be of high standard. Some of the courses offered in the Baytree for lunch I would have liked for dinner. The shows were good catering for all tastes, and especially liked the Liverpudlian comedian. Ports of call were good, we prefer to go on our own no disrespect to the tours P&O provided, our fellow diners did a couple of P&O tours and were very impressed. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to ... Read More
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to Venice and from Genoa were on time, and the P&O team at each end were superb, baggage checked in and then the next one sees it - it is in the cabin. Cabin steward was good, polite, although we kept it tidy so all he had to do was re-arrange / new towels etc. There were two beach towels in the cabin, and more available in the ' spa ' changing room - which would answer a previous complaint in a review- that persom did not look far enough. We dined in the Cinnamon Restaurant, and thought the choice and standard high.We did try the White Room, and yes £25 cover charge, was it worth it, YES for a one off experience, as we were able to dine outside, the ambiece was superb, and a few foodie extras thrown in too, service was brilliant, the food was exceptional, really enyoyed it, we lingered and whay not. The ship is big and it took the week to find one's way around, the ' observation deck ' at the front front on Lido deck was not listed in the leaflet, found it by chance - and a great viewing area. The Theatre is very good, on two deck levels, ( far better than on the Oceana- just a minor point ) we went to the two ' Headliner shows' good singers, and how they change the costumes so many times in seconds is beyond me !!! well done. The '' 4 Tunes '' four guys singing in harmony were outstanding, again we managed their two shows. Ports of call - Kotor by tender- and a trip up the mountain, the 25 bends are NOT for the faint hearted. Rome - we did the Tuscania village trip, beautiful countryside, a very relaxing morning, good wine too at the olive grove farm, and olive oil to purchase too. Corfu & Corsica - suggest just go on foot around the towns, the walk up to the old fort in Corfu, and lunch there was a highlight. P&O do offer very good value for money, the prices on board are in £'s and in my opinion the drinks prices are very reasonable, this is my 2nd P&O cruise. My suggestion - avoid the buffet restaurants, just people not knowing where they are going or what they want- food quality fine though. We did NOT enjoy a might in the Beach House resaurant- menu disappointing. We chose freedon dining- which is ideal, and usually had a table for two, but no problemd sharing as we did from time to time. Afternoon tea in the Saffron was of a high standard. We did use the ' adults ' only oasis pool - although as slightly out of school holidays few children on the ship. The sun loungers are close together and there IS the towel on the sunbed syndrome, which P&O DO need to address. Would I use P&O again - certainly yes, would like to try the Britannia when she comes on stream.   Read Less
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 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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