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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Lovely itinerary to Faroes, Iceland, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Embarkation was easy with pre arranged assistance. Food was much better than our previous cruise on Ventura, we ate most of the time in the MDR for breakfast, lunch ... Read More
Lovely itinerary to Faroes, Iceland, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Embarkation was easy with pre arranged assistance. Food was much better than our previous cruise on Ventura, we ate most of the time in the MDR for breakfast, lunch and dinner as we find the buffet difficult with a wheelchair although staff are always willing to help. A couple of times my partner got us a bacon roll from the buffet and brought it to the room when we had early morning starts. We also ate lunch at the deck bars a few times..We had freedom dining with some lovely and interesting table companions; and a few strange ones, which makes life entertaining. Didn’t see as much entertainment as usual, Havana and Tamarind were always packed so difficult to find seats. However the Arena was easier, as long as you arrived early, with reserved seats for wheelchair users, which many able bodied people selfishly occupied. No staff on hand to police this. Entertainers that stood out were the gentleman talking about space which the layman could understand; Pulse in the Metropolis, great variety of music delivered with humour. Last but not least, Graffiti, four talented young people playing violins, singing, comedy etc. Wow what a wonderful show. On embarkation we ate in the Glasshouse to avoid the buffet, very good. Early on in the cruise we had dinner in the Epicurian with a free bottle of house wine, acceptable and a superb meal delivered with their usual first class service and drama. Well worth the extra fee. There were very few children on this cruise, mostly little ones, several foreign nationals. Most passengers were in their 50s or above. Our favourite bar was the Metropolis with one barman (sorry don’t know his name) standing out as especially helpful and friendly. Ports were very interesting. We booked most excursions privately, which were all well organised. One with P and O on the Faroes, very good. What a beautiful and peaceful place, my favourite. In Isofordur we had to use a tender. It was an extremely difficult transfer for passengers and crew due to the high winds, but we all survived. The weather was kind to us and although it was cold the sun came out every afternoon with only a tiny bit of drizzle in Scotland. On our last sea day on deck I got a bit sunburnt as I didn’t realise how hot it was. We booked another cruise while we were on board on the new Iona as we couldn’t resist the low deposit. Hope we haven’t made a mistake as we think Ventura is pretty large. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Seemed like a good idea at the time, first day we were greeted by a pedal bin in the toilet full of tissues and a used tampon smiling at us, reported it and all we got was a grunted apology whereas friends of ours got a fifty pound extra ... Read More
Seemed like a good idea at the time, first day we were greeted by a pedal bin in the toilet full of tissues and a used tampon smiling at us, reported it and all we got was a grunted apology whereas friends of ours got a fifty pound extra spend because some noise was heard early one morning.Although not P&O,s fault the ship was overun with wheelchairs, zimmer frames and mobility scooters.Technical faults ensued throughout and rudely awoken at 4.20 one morning with chairs etc being moved above us, when complained was virtually called a liar as no one goes above deck until 7.00 am to move stuff ,haunted ship I suppose. I dont think I've seen so many vastly overweight people in one place before, food ok but nothing wonderfull but most staff ok with some of the younger girls very smiley and chatty. One waiter virtually threw the food at us and seemed like he would rather be elsewhere . Two P&O cruises and four Princess and will go back to Princess in future , shame really as we would rather support home grown. Freddy Mercury tribute was awful if you were a queen fan and on a last note ive never seen food consumed in such large ammounts by people in their 80s as on this trip, no wonder it cost so much in care homes, lovely bunch though. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
The embarkation process was smooth, arrived and checked in within 30 mins. Our cabin was indoor, c366 and was as expected. Not a huge amount of hanging space/storage but for a short cruise was adequate. It was a port intensive ... Read More
The embarkation process was smooth, arrived and checked in within 30 mins. Our cabin was indoor, c366 and was as expected. Not a huge amount of hanging space/storage but for a short cruise was adequate. It was a port intensive cruise. We visited Gijon, it was meant to be la coruna but due to poor conditions the port was changed. A nice coastal resort worth walking to park and headland opposite old town. Bilbao we didn’t do an excursion we got the shuttle to town. Did an independent walking tour, took the funicular up for views. Took the metro to areeta, walked back via there to ship 3.5 km - nicer than central Bilbao. La Rochelle was lovely. €9 to enter all 3 towers. Loads of eating choices. No need for excursion if forecast is good. Cherbourg we went to mount st Michael. Our guide was rather eccentric and got only an hours free time after excusing ourselves of his company. Journey was 5 hours. Organised ship excursion and the most disappointing Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Fjords Fantastic, Wheelchair friendly ship and ports. Staff very helpful getting on off ship with wheelchair. Many regular P&O Cruisers reported this being the worst ship they had ever been on. Cruise ship disappointing. This was ... Read More
Fjords Fantastic, Wheelchair friendly ship and ports. Staff very helpful getting on off ship with wheelchair. Many regular P&O Cruisers reported this being the worst ship they had ever been on. Cruise ship disappointing. This was our first cruise, however my parents have done several cruises. Cabins were lovely and our Stewart was brilliant. Dinning Buffet meal good for breakfast, just avoid the Eggs Benedict it was cold & no crispy bacon, omelets lovely, cooked to order. Afternoon tea in buffet good. Formal Restaurant service very slow 2 - 2hrs 45 mins, our quickest service was 1hr 45mins because we didn’t stay for desert, however meals were lovely. Entertainment poor 3 good guest acts, the rest was dire, singers out of tune (and I am tonne deaf). Couple of in house bands were good. Entertainment timings didn’t work in well with Restaurant eating. Shore excursions very expensive far better to research things to do and organise yourself - P&O charging over £48 for an activity that is a 10 min walk from ship and costs £10 to go onto. In saying that the Helecopter over the glazier worth every penny. Bar service good but if you drink a lot it can get expensive. Some reception staff could be a bit abrupt at time My Mum got a 5min lecture on how to look after her room key correctly when it stopped working. Seating around indoor swimming pool, floors often running with water and was very rarely mopped. I would do the Fjords again in a heart beat. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
school holidays. 2nd time on Ventura but the lack of coffee machines at the bars is no good for caffeine fans. There us one Costa on level 5 which is so busy one often left due to queues. There are machines in buffet restaurants but ... Read More
school holidays. 2nd time on Ventura but the lack of coffee machines at the bars is no good for caffeine fans. There us one Costa on level 5 which is so busy one often left due to queues. There are machines in buffet restaurants but coffee is often weak I enjoy double shot lattes several times a day. The food is excellent, every restaurant every day but this is only ship I've been on where there id no all inc drinks package. Another deal breaker. Entertainment superb, friendly staff, super ship but lack of coffee machines at bar will not see me return. The breakers sun bar allows smoking outside but only on left hand side. You need to get up there early if you want an outside table. My best cruise by far was with AIDA prima the German cruise liner which is already re booked for next easter. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
1. Food excellent, 2. Disabled cabin and bathroom perfect. 3. Crew fantastic, friendly and attentive 4. Bars, restaurants, entertainment venues very good but some are very “dated”. 5. Embarkation and disembarkation very well ... Read More
1. Food excellent, 2. Disabled cabin and bathroom perfect. 3. Crew fantastic, friendly and attentive 4. Bars, restaurants, entertainment venues very good but some are very “dated”. 5. Embarkation and disembarkation very well organised and easy to cope with. 6. Lift system is random at best and inadequate at busy times.7. Signage is still poor. On the last day of our cruise there were still people wandering round trying to find which deck things were on. Now for the bad stuff... 1. One announcement from the bridge saying there were “ technical issues” so we would not be going to Oporto. No further explanations given. There was a suggestion that a longer stop in Lisbon would fix the “issue” (what was it - there seemed to be an engine problem???) It was no benefit to the aging and disabled population on board to stay in Lisbon until 3’oclock in the morning. EVERYONE I spoke with wanted to go to Oporto.To miss it out was appalling. So our first stop was Vigo where almost everything was closed as it was Sunday so that was rubbish. Our second stop was Lisbon - wonderful entrance and beautiful City. However as I had been there before it was of course Oporto I wanted to go to. Oh and then the last stop at Guernsey I had to stay on board as I couldn’t take my scooter with me.. So I paid all that money to see a town that was closed, to visit a town I had seen before and NOT to go to Oporto or Guernsey.( obviously I knew Guernsey might be difficult but I hoped...) But not Oporto. I see no benefit of the rearrangement - we could have left Lisbon an hour earlier than stated and sailed to Oporto (even for an hour less than stated) 2, You must change Vigo as that was really poor. 3. You must also do something with your intercom. Not audible in the cabin - had to rush to the corridor to catch the end of it. 4. Too much maintenance going on - painting, hammering, areas roped off. The ceiling panels were changed for new ones at the Waterside area. So less places to sit. The discarded panels, metal rods and other debris was left on either side of the area by the doors for the restt of the cruise 5. Shops were limited and poor unless you wanted posh handbags or perfume! Overall having spent 6 days on board and only visited one place that was ‘open’ and interesting, I couldn’t wait to get off the ship. This mini-cruise was to let us see if we would like cruising (we had only been on the QE2 before) but our experience was actually DREADFUL> Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We chose this cruise for my wife's 60th having used P&O before on a number of occasions, sadly things are not what they used to be. The dining experience is now average in terms of product and service, green beans with everything, ... Read More
We chose this cruise for my wife's 60th having used P&O before on a number of occasions, sadly things are not what they used to be. The dining experience is now average in terms of product and service, green beans with everything, if they could serve them as a dessert I think they would! Waiters have had cutbacks and are overworked resulting in a poorer service which is not their fault. The dining room ceiling leaked form the air conditioning unit and we had this problem on 3 nights, eventually being moved table. The food was passable and you will not go hungry on the ship as there is always a buffet open somwhere on the ship. The ship is in need of the refurbishment it is currently getting in Brest,France. Our cabin was spacious as it was a deluxe cabin and it was also a bit tired, the grouting around the bath was black and carpets needed replaced. There was a leak in our balcony door which soaked the carpet. However saying all that the bed was very comfortable and cabin steward excellent always ensuring we had everything we need for a comfortable stay. The entertainment was of a good standard, other activities where geared for P&Os elderly clientele and was standard fair, is shuffledeck,table tennis, quizes, bridge clubs and not to mention the ballroom dancing classes in the atrium. The Atrium could be put to better use as it is the hub of the ship and we would have liked to see more live music in this area as it would have helped the atmosphere on the 3 floors which it serves. The Arena theatre is the main area for twice night shows and was very busy on our cruise as the ship was full, (in fact you needed to get to your seat 30 minutes before most shows to ensure a seat). The Havana lounge at the opposite end is a terrible venue and was known as the Meerkat lounge due to the high backed seats (the comedian mentioned he could only see the heads of the audience popping up and down like meerkats). The ports of call were good and excursions offered quite good but certainly not cheap. They do look after your safety though and tend to go a bit overboard sometimes, that was not a pun! Overall we did enjoy our cruise however would avoid going back on the Ventura even after the current refit it is undergoing. The ship is just not to our liking, the Arena's seats are to tight, Havana lounge enough said, no separate Cinema which should be a given on such a large ship. Carnival have striped bare much of the niceties of a P&O cruise and not replaced them with anything. We will try other lines in future to see if there is better value for money to be had. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2018
A cruise chosen because of the itinerary (including New Orleans, Tortola and Amber Cove) but which was a little disappointing when Tortola and Amber Cove were changed to Antigua and Ocho Rios after Hurricane Irma. The ship itself was OK if ... Read More
A cruise chosen because of the itinerary (including New Orleans, Tortola and Amber Cove) but which was a little disappointing when Tortola and Amber Cove were changed to Antigua and Ocho Rios after Hurricane Irma. The ship itself was OK if not a little tired, it has gone in for a refit now. Have never heard so much moaning among fellow passengers about nearly everything. Food in main restaurants was pretty bland and nearly all overcooked. If you liked French beans you'd be OK because they were served with just about every meal!! However, the food in the specialty restaurants being Epicurean, Sindhu and the Glass House was superb and worth the extra money. They should give the waiting staff in the main restaurants lessons in the art of conversation (we are used to having conversations with the staff on Princess and building relationships but this was non existent on Ventura). Entertainment was excellent but I wish Spa staff would stop the hard sell tactics after a massage or gym class. We don't go on holiday to be at the receiving end of this kind of high pressure selling!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Our second cruise on this ship since November 2016, this time with elderly and wheelchair using relatives. Initial embarkation and final disembarkation could not have been easier or smoother. Absolutely brilliant checkin, checkout and ... Read More
Our second cruise on this ship since November 2016, this time with elderly and wheelchair using relatives. Initial embarkation and final disembarkation could not have been easier or smoother. Absolutely brilliant checkin, checkout and security staff at Southampton. The ship overall had a completely different feel to it compared to the November trip on a similar sort of route - not surprisingly. The holiday camp feel of the summer holiday crowd was all pervasive and the entertainment, whilst complete torture to me, was clearly enjoyed by many. Other reviewers have mentioned visible wear and tear on the ship - we didn't see much sign, but then again we saw numerous ongoing maintenance eg. new carpet sections being glued in place which explained the odd bubble gum smell in some of the stairwells. The enrichment activities included a speaker whose talk was entitled: "Serial Killers" plus an added "bonus talk" about the Yorkshire Ripper. Wasn't expecting that! We had 2 cabins for 4 of us - an accessible, balcony cabin - excellent, spacious and well designed for the wheelchair user. Ours was a nearby inside cabin - enough space given it was the cheapest type of accommodation and it served its purpose. But the loud creaking noises apparent during the crossing of the Bay of Biscay were disturbing on many levels, especially since reading a previous review where a crack appeared in the structure of this ship during a storm. The weather was fine throughout our trip and yet the roll and sway of this mega-sized ship at times kept one of our group in bed. I got some time lapse video of the swimming pools sloshing all over the place! With Freedom Dining the waiting time for a table for four was sometimes about an hour and that meant wasting loads of time during the rest of those evenings with the resulting logistical show-starting-time dilemmas. Everything took so much longer, and needed more planning, with a wheelchair user. We imagined, wrongly, that Freedom Dining would provide greater flexibility for us. It actually tied us into eating much earlier than we wanted. The food quality and choice in Freedom Dining had reduced since my last trip I guess because there were so many empty tables in the select dining restaurants that incentives are needed. Eating fish and chips whilst being required to wear black tie was faintly ridiculous. The one night with decent quality food was when the celebrity chef came aboard and created a signature set of dishes of the same quality that I had experienced previously. The self service buffets were fine and staff were really helpful with assisting our wheelchair user access the food. Finding a seat was sometimes something of a scrummage and not easy with a wheelchair. Our group didn't receive an individual safety briefing at the start of the cruise (which we expected because of the wheelchair user who is totally unable to walk). In preparation for the emergency drill we were told to take the lift to deck 7 rather than attempt to simulate a real evac. In the event of a real emergency I do not actually know what we would have done. Disembarkation during the stop at Guernsey was incompetently managed. Due to wind/choppy conditions the tender service could not operate during the morning of arrival and all morning excursions were cancelled. But when the weather improved at lunchtime, the crew announced the tenders were running. However, they failed to manage the queuing system as over 1,500 passengers wanted to get off the ship all at once. A queue zig zagged chaotically around the atrium and whole central section of the ship and the crew disappeared rather than attempt to manage the aggressive outbursts which occurred. It was a vile experience. It took 2 hours to get off and a further hour to queue to get back on leaving 2 hours in St Peter Port. Contrast this experience with final disembarkation which was superbly handled and phased to perfection. Ship WiFi at £12 per 24 hours for the medium package was not good value. I measured download speeds of between 0.16 and 0.40 Mbps. With free mobile data packages now available on many UK mobile phone tariffs I waited till port to catch up with home. Ports were good: Vigo - did an accessible P&O excursion to Baiona - well organised and very talkative and informative guide. Lisbon - accessible transfer vehicle to the centre only takes one carer per wheelchair user - so the group was split. We walked back to the ship rather than use the shuttle. Oporto - there was no accessible shuttle transfer to the town so we got one to the port gates and walked along the huge beach. St Peter Port - garden tour of Guernsey was cancelled sadly. On balance won't be going with P&O again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
My wife chose this cruise and it has been 6 years since we were last on the Ventura. The Waterside buffet area is badly in need of a refit with dirty seats, split seams on some of the upholstery and badly chipped paint work in many areas. ... Read More
My wife chose this cruise and it has been 6 years since we were last on the Ventura. The Waterside buffet area is badly in need of a refit with dirty seats, split seams on some of the upholstery and badly chipped paint work in many areas. The food throughout the ship could only be rated as OK, smaller portions than previously, barely warm, (breakfast in the Beach House was regularly cold), several of my 'always available' favourites taken off the menu. Vegetables were at one time served separately but now just served on the plate. The cabin and waiting staff were as good as ever. Sun beds were abused as is always the case by people leaving towels on them while they went off for two or three hours, despite warnings that reserved beds reserved would be monitored but this was not enforced, leaving passengers always looking for vacant sun beds. Particularly annoying was moving the evening dancing and dance lessons to the postage stamp sized dance floor in the atrium. This floor was not big enough to accommodate all of those who wanted to take part and we spoke to several people who wanted to attend the dances but didn't bother because of lack of dancing space. Also not enough seating in the atrium for those who did attend the dances. Ironically the Costa Coffee next to the dance floor had vacant seats most of the time but there was a notice advising that you were not allowed to occupy these seats unless you purchased a drink. After going on 9 or 10 P&O cruises I believe that they have become a very penny pinching outfit and I will not be travelling with P&O again for some considerable time. For me the best part of this cruise was the coach journey back home Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise because we needed an extra day towards our Princess loyalty program status. We were very happy in the main with the whole experience. The cabin could have been a little cleaner, the carpet needed a good vacuum as ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we needed an extra day towards our Princess loyalty program status. We were very happy in the main with the whole experience. The cabin could have been a little cleaner, the carpet needed a good vacuum as there were many bits on it and the bedside tables had liquid marks, soon got rid of wth a wet flannel. We wanted to change our allotted table because my wife is in a wheelchair but the staff were not at all helpful so we had to stay with the allotted one. The food quality was very good however the variety at the Waterside Buffet was not as varied as on Princess. Metropolis, the nightclub was excellent, good atmosphere and service. We liked the island servery, better design than the bar in Skywalkers on the Princess Grand class ships. Overall a very good albeit short experience, we would certainly sail with P&O again.R Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Ventura Cruise N703 to Amsterdam and Brugge. Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th February 2017. Day 1 - Wednesday 15th February 2017 With a 'priority boarding' time slot of 1230, we aimed to arrive at the Mayflower Cruise ... Read More
Ventura Cruise N703 to Amsterdam and Brugge. Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th February 2017. Day 1 - Wednesday 15th February 2017 With a 'priority boarding' time slot of 1230, we aimed to arrive at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal at 1115, this being the earliest advertised time for car drop off with CPS. Having had a hassle free drive down to Southampton, in spite of the rainy weather, we arrived at 1110. Much to our surprise, we were struck by the fact that a lot of passengers were still disembarking. The traffic Marshall told us that there was a delay with disembarkation due to the "luggage having been loaded on the wrong side of the ship". On the basis that luggage probably spans the entire width of the ship, we doubted the validity of that explanation, but we agreed to drive off and return 30 minutes later. As we turned the corner, another marshal beckoned us into a holding lane on the dockside railway tracks, so we duly obliged! After around 10 minutes we were called forward to the unloading lanes where we vacated the car with our luggage. Due to the delayed disembarkation, we then had to stand and wait around 15 minutes for the CPS staff to 'check in' the car and then a further 15 minutes until the porters arrived as they were having their coffee break. No complaints though as we were conscious that we were very early and we were still inside the terminal by 1145. We were ushered straight to the front of the priority boarding line but then had a 5 minute or so wait there until called. Again, no problem - we were now in holiday mode! Check in complete, we proceeded to the priority boarders 'lounge' (a roped off corner of the general waiting area) where we enjoyed a very welcome cup of tea and a delicious millionaires shortbread. As disembarkation had been delayed, we relaxed thinking that the usual 1230 embarkation would be later than usual. Much to our surprise, at 1210 we were told that we could now board! Whizzing around the perimeter of the main lounge, we were through security in around 2 minutes and on board by 1215. Most impressive. Although we had an invite to the priority boarders reception in one of the main dining rooms, as creatures of habit we headed straight to the Waterside buffet for one of the delicious P&O curries. Embarkation is the one and only time we use the buffet as we are there ready for when it opens. I have followed too many of my fellow male species out of the loos over the years who have failed to wash their hands and then head directly into the buffet, in addition to countless folk of all ages and sexes who have a habit of licking food spills off their fingers and then continuing to handle the serving tongs. Over 8 previous cruises we have managed to avoid Norovirus (even when there have been outbreaks on board) and I am convinced that this is due to our avoiding the buffet other than on day one when we are first in! Come to think of it, they didn't have the usual staff manning the entrances forcibly squirting hand gel. Sadly, there was no normal curry on offer, just a biryani which was very dry and almost all rice. We had enough food to quell the 'post travelling hunger pangs', by which time our friends had texted to say that they were in the priority boarders restaurant. As we were carrying a small amount of hand luggage and were wearing coats, we diverted via our cabin (A752 Peninsular Suite, classed as a Penthouse). First impressions of the suite were good. The furnishings are quite dated and (in the case of TV's) sub-standard compared to Britannia, but we knew that would be the case. There was plenty of space, with a dining area, large lounge, adequate bedroom area, good bathroom facilities and a large balcony. The only negative was the tiny wardrobe area which would be adequate for up to 7 nights, a crush for 14 nights and impossible for anything longer. The design (difficult to describe) was poor and access very difficult as 50% of the (limited) hanging space is hidden behind shelving. The biggest positive, as we would discover, was that we didn't hear a sound from any other passengers throughout the 4 days, other than the dragging around of deckchairs above on a couple of occasions (the first time at 0630 on the first morning which, given the time and weather, we figured was the staff moving them in order to clean the decks). Noise and vibration from the stern thrusters was enough to wake the dead, but this is short lived and serves as an alarm clock to alert you to port arrivals, so no complaints about that. Strangely, vibration in the public areas at the rear of the ship (Epicurean, Beach House etc) was quite noticeable when the ship was moving, but was not evident in our suite. Very odd. An added benefit was that, although the suite had a standard width door, the wheelchair (a narrow version) just about squeezed through without having to be dismantled. Next stop Saffron restaurant for the priority boarders reception. This was better than the one we had on Britannia last summer. Although still very limited, there was a wider selection of food (still snacks rather than meals) and the freebie sparkling wine, whilst definitely not Champagne, was at least palatable, unlike the stuff served on Britannia which we couldn't drink as it was so vile. Drinks service was very good, but wouldn't be representative of what we would experience throughout the rest of the cruise. Back to the suite to unpack before the safety drill. Our butler (Dinesh) introduced himself. Nice chap but we don't really use them other than for the delivery of the very poor canapés (other than the lovely chocolate covered strawberries on formal night) and next day menus (which didn't materialise on this cruise). The cabin stewards do all the real work. As we reached the lifts, life jackets in hand, there was an announcement that the drill was going to be delayed by 30 minutes as some coach passengers hadn't arrived. We decided to go to our assembly lounge (The Tamarind Club) anyway to ensure that we had a seat. A very officious crew member (who looked like a gym instructor) was wandering around checking the assembly letter on people's life jackets and being very insistent that they moved to the correct assembly point if they were in the wrong place. Quite right. Although the drill is essential, I love it when they end, as it's the one and only thing that you have no option but to attend and our time is our own thereafter. Back to the suite just in time to watch our departure (over an hour late) from the balcony and to relax prior to the evening activities. Around 7pm, whilst travelling around the Isle of Wight, we had a very unexpected surprise which would be one of the two highlights of the cruise. We suddenly became aware of a very loud noise from outside and ventured out on to the balcony. Had it not been for a lunch we had with P&O's overall Head of Security a year or so ago (following a ship visit), we would have been convinced that the ship was being subject to a terrorist attack. Thankfully, as he had told us that this happened from time to time, we instantly realised that we were witnessing a SBS (Special Boat Service, the Naval equivalent of the SAS) exercise. There were 5 or 6 ribs (rigid hull, inflatable sides), each containing around ten SBS operatives, all dressed in dark clothing, taking it in turns, two boats at a time, to roar right up to the stern of the ship (through the wake). They must have been touching the ship as they disappeared under the balcony and couldn't be seen at all. After a short time, they would roar off to the side (they sounded as though they had very powerful engines) and immediately two more would roar in from behind across the wake to take their place. All very dramatic and quite a sight and sound and, of the several thousand people on board, there were probably less than a dozen of us who witnessed it or were even aware of it having happened. We were going to dine in the Beach House, but a last minute change of plans resulted in us dining in Sindhu. Although curry is my favourite food, I can take or leave Sindhu, but this was a lovely meal to start the holiday and service was very good (unlike the other Select dining restaurants, as we would discover later in the cruise). We finished in time for the 1030pm show which, unusually for a first night, was a full scale Headliners production. I am told it was quite good but I only saw the first 5 minutes and was woken intermittently by the clapping. Time for bed. Day 2 - Thursday 16th February After a good nights sleep (other than being woken at 0630, which was really 0530 as the clocks had changed) by deck chairs being dragged around overhead, we headed to The Epicurean for the Suite passengers breakfast. On Britannia, this is an absolutely superb experience with very good (albeit limited) food and exemplary service. Frankly, it's a major reason we book a Suite as it's a lovely way to start the day. Sadly, on Ventura, this is a poor replica. Having placed our order as tea and toast arrived, we proceeded to wait 50 minutes with no sign of our order materialising. When I eventually called a waiter over to ask what was happening, panic seemed to set in and our hot food arrived quite quickly, the previous parts of the order (cereal etc) having been missed altogether. Food quality and presentation wasn't quite as good the standard on Britannia. The usual delicious fruit smoothies were all completely flavourless, until the last morning. Very strange. All in all, very disappointing for the supposed top tier restaurant. Sea day activities are usually very limited for the under 70's, unless you are in to health and beauty, low level exercise or sport. As none of these appeal, the best we could find was a talk on LS Lowry which, to be fair, was quite interesting. I managed four laps of the promenade deck before lunch, something that you cannot do on Britannia. We ventured into the main dining room for lunch but, with breakfast having arrived so late and our one and only afternoon tea looming, we just had a light meal. We rarely elect to share a table but did so on this occasion with another couple, a mother and daughter and a retired gentleman who was either travelling or dining alone. I broke the awkward silence a minute or so after we had all ordered and it turned out that the couple and the mother and daughter all came from Southampton, so we had something in common as we lived there for a while over 20 years ago. Next the husband of the Southampton couple raised the subject of how much they had paid (£399, which I presume was each). I never understand why people do this. Either you hack other people off or ruin your own holiday by finding out that you paid more than they did. Sure enough, the mother and daughter had paid £349. All failed to mention which category of cabin they had, but from the prices they were clearly both inside cabins. We opted out of this part of the conversation, not just because we had paid a lot more, but because we would have had to explain that there are around 25 categories of cabin and the reason we had paid a lot more was because we were in a top tier suite. Sometimes, diplomacy is the best approach! The solo traveller didn't say a word (he didn't want to talk at all, even when I tried to engage him in conversation - all I managed to establish was where he was from) and I was unclear why he wished to dine on a shared table. After lunch we headed to the Arena Theatre where we watched the film 'Sully' about the emergency landing of a passenger jet on the Hudson River in New York. As it is a true story (which we could recall) we enjoyed the film, in spite of the poor picture quality (slightly out of focus or insufficient picture quality to be blown up to that size). What is it with some people who feel that's it's acceptable to enter 10 minutes after the film has started and expect half a row to stand up (blocking the screen for all those behind) as they progress to the centre, illuminating their route (and dazzling everyone in the process) with the intense light on their mobile phones? Perhaps they are in the same category as those who insist on bringing the noisiest possible food (crisps or wrapped sweets) into theatres. Sadly, there were no windows nearby for me to throw them overboard. I shall watch the film again at home when it comes on TV, in glorious high definition and without the presence of these thoughtless idiots! As the film ended, we had to hot-foot it to The Epicurean again, this time for the Eric Lanlard afternoon tea. On this occasion, food quality and service was on a par with Britannia and it was a most enjoyable experience. Although this evening was a Gala Black Tie Dinner, there was no Captains Welcome Aboard Reception. Clearly 4 day cruises don't warrant giving passengers a free drink. As with other shortcomings that we noticed on this cruise (our 9th with P&O but our first short cruise), we felt that this was a mistake. Most passengers were first time cruisers and things like that help to get them 'hooked' on the whole cruise experience. The lack of this reception resulted in the evening not feeling quite as 'special' as it usually does. We dined in the main dining room (after a wait of one hour for a table for four) and the food quality (Marco Pierre White menu) and service were good, other than cheese which seems to be served reluctantly these days (when we first cruised with P&O all passengers were offered cheese after desert. Now they seem to think it is instead of a desert and if you want both it's a bit of an effort for them). In another break with what we are used to on formal nights, there was no Headliners production show, just a 'famous' soul singer who was so famous we had never heard of him, a comedian (there's only so many cruising gags you can laugh at in one lifetime) and Gareth Oliver, a ventriloquist from Britains Got Talent. As this seemed like an entertainment line up from the 1970's, none appealed so we headed to Metropolis for an after dinner drink, listening to Shades Duo. We would have preferred a Crows Nest bar but Ventura and Azura lack one in favour of the gym, which is daft. Drinks service was poor. The waiter was disinterested and unhelpful. The female singer of Shades Duo has a very nice voice but her repertoire was sadly cut short as an obnoxious and very drunk man who, although probably in his 30's was on holiday with his grandparents, started verbally having a go at her. Clearly distressed she left the venue and shortly afterwards a P&O security officer arrived. We didn't stay to see how it all ended, but he surprisingly wasn't offloaded the next day. Sadly, this wouldn't be the last example of appalling passenger behaviour we would witness. Day 3 - Friday 17th February After another good nights sleep, we woke to the bow thrusters as we manoeuvred on to the berth in Amsterdam. Although we have bad memories of Amsterdam, having been pick-pocketed there over 20 years ago, we were pleased to find that our berth was an easy 20 minute walk to Dam Square, even with the wheelchair. We ventured off the ship after a leisurely breakfast (service was better but the smoothies remained flavourless) but, being the morning, the more unsavoury elements were not yet on the streets so we had a good wander around, including the canals and notorious Red Light district, in complete safety. The weather was looking quite threatening so we headed back to the ship for a late lunch in The Glass House. Sadly, yet again, service was poor. Waiters weren't at all attentive and had to be called over after an unacceptably long wait to order. Our main courses were very good but the desert, a sundae that was meant to have blondies and cake pieces in it was served as 100% ice cream and had little resemblance to the desert advertised. We then visited the On-board Costa (Tazzine) for a hot chocolate. This was nothing like the version you get on land and looked and tasted like drinking chocolate powder in hot water with a splash of milk. Vile. We found a Rolling Stones double CD in the library which we thoroughly enjoyed listening to on the Bose sound system provided in our suite as we relaxed during the late afternoon. The sail away from Amsterdam, although in darkness, was fascinating as there were lots of multi-story office and residential blocks all illuminated, where you could see hundreds of people in meetings, cooking in their kitchens, eating their meals etc. It reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock film 'Rear Window'. Dinner that evening was in The Epicurean which, although a bit short of the overall experience on Britannia, was still very good. Unfortunately, as with the main dining room, cheese was an inconvenience to the waiting staff. The show was 'Don't Blame it on the Boogie', which we have seen countless times so didn't bother with. Day 4 - Saturday 18th February We awoke to a real pea-super in Zeebrugge (which we now know is pronounced sea-brooge and not Zee-brugga as us brits call it), so much so that you could barely see the end of the mooring ropes! We had pre-arranged a cab transfer to and from Brugge (€50 each way) with Martin's Taxis, so, after breakfast, we disembarked and waited 10 minutes for the free port provided shuttle to the dock gates (one had pulled away as we were walking down the ramp) where 'Lou with the white hair in the air' (as she had called herself) was waiting for us. After the SBS excitement the first evening, this journey was to be the 2nd surprise highlight. Lou was wall-to-wall entertainment and really made the trip one to remember. Her political incorrectness made Joan Rivers look like Mother Theresa. We didn't stop laughing all the way to Brugge and the return journey was equally entertaining. Any of her one liners repeated on here would be sure to offend somebody or other, so I shall refrain! Brugge was fantastic. We couldn't do the boat trip as wheelchair access wasn't possible, but we had a good walk around the historic city. By luck, there was a Salvador Dali exhibition in Market Square, which we enjoyed prior to wandering around the shopping areas. Realising that the horse and cart trips would be on 'step free' terrain, we walked around some of that route prior to returning to a street full of chocolatiers where we had earlier spotted a shop / cafe advertising hot chocolate. Comprising hot frothy milk with a large chunk of Belgian chocolate moulded on to the tea spoon which slowly melted to make the drink, these were the best hot chocolate drinks we had ever tasted and were a thousand times better than the foul version we had been sold in Tazzine the day before. After a thoroughly enjoyable few hours 'Lou with the white hair in the air' transferred us back to the ship, delivering yet more memorable lines that have amused us ever since. As a word of warning, there is a flat fare of €50 per vehicle each way from Zeebrugge to Brugge, regardless of the number of passengers, and you pay on the day, even if you have pre-booked (as we had). There was a group of passengers at the dock gates who had pre-paid €240 and the cab hadn't showed. They were understandably getting very anxious as a condition of booking was that if they didn't show up they would be charged anyway. The fact that the cab hadn't showed would make it difficult for them to prove that they had indeed turned up. Even more worrying, our cab driver hadn't heard of the firm, but she did later say (on the return run) that she had found their website which looked legitimate. Lunch again in The Glass House. Service was slightly better (although still not attentive) and the quality of food was good. Another restful few hours in our suite prior to the uneventful sail away which, from this port is sobering as it's where the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized in 1987 with the tragic loss of 193 lives in the most terrifying circumstances. The only thing of interest was the 30 or 40 gulls which swooped around the aft of the ship for over 30 minutes, presumably in anticipation of food scraps being tossed to them. Our last dinner on board was in The Beach House. Once again, the comparison against the version on Britannia wasn't a favourable one. Although on both ships this is a cordoned off area of the buffet, on Britannia it is a smaller, more intimate affair that has the feel of a proper restaurant. On Ventura it still feels like a section of the buffet. The lean ribs which I had thoroughly enjoyed on Britannia were very fatty here. Service was again patchy with the wine waiter making a real fuss about having to go to a bar to get the bottle of wine that we ordered - which was on the wine list for the Beach House! Sadly, the evening was somewhat spoiled by a party of 6 (3 couples, all middle aged to retired) where one of the ladies was being ridiculously loud and obnoxious. Whether it was drink, ignorance, lack of etiquette or, as I suspect, a combination of all three, this revolting creature could not be ignored, even from a distance, so we all retired early leaving the poor staff to contend with her. Day 5 - Sunday 19th February Unusually, we berthed in Southampton Mayflower Terminal the 'wrong' way around, with the stern facing the outward route and the starboard side against the berth. No idea why this was. After our final breakfast in The Epicurean, we proceeded to The Exchange for the assisted disembarkation, where an assistance helper disembarked us immediately although, to be fair, there was virtually no queue for regular passengers by this time so we gained no real time advantage this time. Suitcases were found in a minute or so and we were in the car 5 minutes later. As is always the case when cars are parked at this terminal, the vehicle was absolutely covered in a heavy dust from the adjacent grain loading facility. In conclusion, although service levels were below those we have come to expect from P&O, this was still an enjoyable cruise and very relaxing. Out of several thousand passengers, less than a handful were worthy of being thrown overboard for poor behaviour and these were all adults. All the children were very well behaved and never a nuisance. Hopefully, these negatives were mostly attributable to it being a short cruise where the lower price encourages a more, shall we say, 'diverse' profile of passenger and the staff aren't out to impress, as passengers are on board for such a short period. Time will tell. Ventura is showing her age, but is still a nice ship, it's major failing being the absence of a Crows Nest. However, Britannia is a better product (even without a promenade deck), as far as the large ships go. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
we chose the ventura because of the sailing date (winter sunshine), the itinerary and the price. embarkation with a wheel chair was smooth and little waiting, the balcony was adequate as was the cabin. after a couple of days I realised ... Read More
we chose the ventura because of the sailing date (winter sunshine), the itinerary and the price. embarkation with a wheel chair was smooth and little waiting, the balcony was adequate as was the cabin. after a couple of days I realised that I had not taken any pictures of the ventura usually I'm clicking away at everything and that is the thing about the ventura it is a basic no frills ship, built the same time as royal Caribbean's independence of the seas the difference is startling - the independence gives the impression of no expense spared, the ventura no expense spent food - probably the most important for a lot of people, the meat and fish were excellent and cooked correctly however the vegetables were not, either over cooked or under cooked, p&o please note you cannot eat under cooked potatoes, only chips and mash were edible, most people complained and the reason given for not cooking the veg properly - it is all new menus sir - unbelievable entertainment - some very good some average some rather poor - nowhere as good as ncl or royal Caribbean, the headliners show was repeated again and again and again, there were a lot of p&o regulars who were very disgruntled entertainment quizzes - very popular with a lot of cruisers - it was so poorly organised and amateurish, so many questions repeated again and again that people gave up mentioning it - p&o IT IS NOT DIFFICULT you have 28 night cruise with a set number of quizzes prepare them all before you set sail and why oh why do you have two quizzes at the same time - one quiz had 15 teams and the other had just two teams and then you would have a stint of a few hours with no quizzes- TRY ORGANISING IT the staff excellent apart from a couple of members of the entertainment staff who treated the PAYING customers like morons but having cruised a fair few times I have never ever heard staff talk back to the guests as did those two members of the entertainment staff at one point there was very nearly a bust between guests and staff, the staff decided that there would not be a quiz as stated in the programme but instead there would be a hi de hi game, fit for 6 year olds - only when the guests threatened to walk out was a quiz reinstated excursions - because one of our party had difficulty walking and standing for long periods we chose the easy excursions - not bad at all and not bad value either, the last one we did was st kitts and nevis which I would not class as easy but medium disembarking with a wheel chair - frankly appalling we left 2 and a half hours after we should have and there were people we left behind who probably had to wait another hour or so - no explanation nothing - p&o get yourself organised surely you want to get people off the ship for the next cruise I did enjoy the cruise, met some lovely people but with just a bit of simple organisation and cooking the vegetables especially the potatoes properly (it is more difficult to cook meat and you did that superbly) the cruise would have been excellent value and so much more enjoyable, a number of p&o veterans were thinking twice about going with p&o again, warning p&o there is a difference between being value for money and being a budget cruise line Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Went on the trip as a birthday gift from my parents, they love cruises but it didn't really suit me. I enjoyed the evenings in the casino, meals in the waiter staffed restaurants and the shows. Maxine Mazunda was brilliant as Dusty ... Read More
Went on the trip as a birthday gift from my parents, they love cruises but it didn't really suit me. I enjoyed the evenings in the casino, meals in the waiter staffed restaurants and the shows. Maxine Mazunda was brilliant as Dusty Springfield and she does Adele. I struggled with the day times as the weather wasn't great so I got bored. The day time entertainment was more for older people, dance lessons, crafts, bingo. I ended up eating too much to pass the time. The food was good, plenty of shops to look around. Service was a bit up and down depending on the waiter. The casino guys were brilliant, really good fun. The rooms were well kept, mine was quite small but big enough for me. I had a large port hole and good view. I didn't try the spa as seemed v expensive but there were offers throughout the week if you hold off long enough. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Embarkation at Southampton was awful. I am disabled & reliant on my female P.A & there was no guidance or assistance in unloading the car with our luggage. We were told to put our suit/dress holders in our suitcases yet we saw ... Read More
Embarkation at Southampton was awful. I am disabled & reliant on my female P.A & there was no guidance or assistance in unloading the car with our luggage. We were told to put our suit/dress holders in our suitcases yet we saw other people carrying theirs. Upon entering the terminal we were given a fast track card, what a joke! We were waiting more than 1 hour! We were quickly rushed on to the ship, shown our cabin & straight to the life jacket drill. My cabin was B302 an accessible cabin which was very roomy & quiet despite being close to the staircases & lifts. Access to the balcony was excellent. The wet room floor was slippy, the toilet not raised & the grab rails were not in a good position. The staff on main reception were useless, unhelpful & bad mannered! We asked 2 questions & both times were told to look at our newsletter. When we disembarked the bill was wrong. I had been mis-sold some treatments in the spa costing £112 which I returned the same day & was told by the spa reception that mŷ account would be credited within 2 hours which it hadn't. Be careful with the spa receptionists as they sold me a treatment which I did not ask for that was £30 more expensive without telling me the cost. They also added a 10% gratuity cost without telling me before the treatment. Also, my partner nearly ate a piece of plastic in her desert in The Sindhu Restaurant which they said they would deduct the cost of the wine of £19 from the cost of our meal due to the chef's mistake. Main reception were so unhelpful, it felt like 'we have got your money, now leave the ship'! I did not leave the ship until the bill had been altered & yet when I got home I checked my credit card statement they had debited the wrong amount including the £112! I had to phone P & O customer services & miraculously the £112 was credited to my credit card the next day! Main reception told us the night before disembarkation to phone them the next day so they could arrange for my wheelchair, bed post, walking frame & shower chair to be collected. We were then told by reception that we should have left all the equipment outside my cabin the night before! They then said that they could not arrange for the equipment to be bought down from my cabin! They expected my female partner to carry all that equipment & 3 bags of hand luggage by herself! Disgraceful P & O!! Fortunately I had read on a piece of paper that assistance was available in the bar next to the casino & they were very helpful. Incidentally they were not P&O staff! What a surprise! Apart, from all that we had a great time but that was down to ourselves, the entertainment I.e Paul Emanuelle (great singer), the karaoke night, sail aways, and not to mention the food & service in The Epicurian Restaurant (fantastic). Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first cruise ever - a 'gift' for our wedding anniversary. We were put in cabin B344, an inner one. Although we personally found the temperature to be a bit warm (as we like to sleep in cool temperatures), most ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever - a 'gift' for our wedding anniversary. We were put in cabin B344, an inner one. Although we personally found the temperature to be a bit warm (as we like to sleep in cool temperatures), most would find the 23C all-round room temp to be very cozy. The cabin was certainly big enough for two of us and the queen bed quite ample. We had 2 nights of gale force 8 winds and slept like babies; the most we knew of it was a gentle rocking of the bed and an announcement by the ship the next morning. My wife walks with a stick and we found crew to be very attentive. She was whisked into the ship almost immediately for embarkation, avoiding any crowds or lines of passengers, and we were set into the buffet room to enjoy lunch while the rest of the ship embarked. The same was true of disembarkation - off the ship before the rest of the passengers and out into a flagged-down taxi before the rest arrived. The buffet rooms were lovely - clean and spacious with tons of tables and waiters everywhere waiting to get you another drink or take away your tray the moment you were finished. No table was too far away from a window to not enjoy the view. The food itself was great - we're not into fine dining, we just eat food - and there was plenty of variety for all tastes and lots of it. Everything from cold cuts and rolls, little nibbles, to several main dishes and sides. The desserts were to die for! And it really was 24-hours a day, though you may find yourself switching from one side of the dining room to the other, depending on the time of day. (Little ones had their own tea time at 4-6pm, so they could go to daycare when adults wanted to enjoy themselves.) There were tons of little areas around the ship where you could sit and have a drink (or 10) and we never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a waiter to take our order and deliver a delicious cocktail. There were a large number of heated pools and wonderful whirlpools -easy to get in and out of - and these all had bar areas and seating around them as well as counters serving fast foods, ice creams, etc. We had signed for low-impact activities, a couple of tour buses, and they had quite a few to chose from and quite a few grey heads and people with mobility problems on them. Again, first on/first off, lots of attendants helping on and off the bus as well as into/out of attractions. We certainly couldn't fault the customer service if we tried. And the excursions were great as well with knowledgeable tour guides. We were so happy with our experience we signed up for another cruise - a 10-night one, on the same ship - on our second day. We did, however, book a balcony cabin. We would personally recommend an inner cabin if you don't plan on doing much besides sleeping it it, but if you like to get away from the crowd, you may wish at least a cabin with a window. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and ... Read More
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and the other half went on Carnival last year for our honeymoon which we thoroughly enjoyed so we were excited to cruise again and to see how a different company compared. My top tip would be to book as late as possible, we booked 16 months in advance thinking we were getting a good deal but it was reduced by around £500 per passenger around 6 weeks before departure which was sickening. STAFF The majority of the staff on the ship were Indian which we didn’t expect, I knew there would be some different ethnicities but 95% were Asian males. The majority were friendly with the odd exception. From certain members of staff we received fantastic service, in the restaurants and bars to the salon staff. Credit to P&O. (Joel Manning Head waiter, Melissa on bar, Gracey the bar steward, Krystina the croupier). DINING Breakfast was nice, buffet style was always plentiful and cooked nicely. Formal breakfast was nice too but toast was always cold. Lunch we missed most days but made it back for the afternoon which doesn’t really make sense to me, I would have preferred a ham/chicken salad at 4pm when you have had a day lazing by the beach rather than pie/curry, sandwiches and scones. Staff were less than forthcoming when we asked for a salad which is unfortunate considering the amount of money we handed over. Our evening seating time was 8.30pm which we chose as we thought 6.30pm was too early but due to the amount of people in our party we would struggle to make it to the 10.30 show so we changed to freedom dining in the second week which we wished we had done sooner. Freedom dining is the way forward. Food was average to very good in the main restaurant, there was a starter, soup, main, dessert and cheeseboard every night. We dined in the “surcharge” restaurants after a few days as the food was starting to get slightly repetitive in the main restaurant. East was £15 each but if you book while on board they offer a bottle of house wine between two on certain nights, effectively bringing the price down to £7.50 each. Same with the White Room which we paid £25 each for, with a bottle of wine between two we thought it was well worth it. The only restaurant (excluding the buffet) were you can dine outdoor which was fantastic. Beach House (daytime buffet restaurant which converts in to sit down restaurant of an evening) was £5 per person and you had the option to upgrade from there, ie. If you wanted king prawns to start you would need to pay an extra £1.50 and if you wanted steak on a stone it was an extra £2.95 but the food was very nice. Drinks were not too expensive, glass of wine approx £4 for small and £5.50 for large, spirit and mixer around £5 and cocktails from around a fiver. Range of wines available, bottles of house went down well at £14.95. Selection of diet drinks available which was a massive plus, diet coke, 7up free and diet Tango all available. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Gym had good machines but very little free classes. It opened at 8am until 8pm which was a bit awkward as we were awake at 6.30pm some days which we would have normally shot up to the gym ready to get off the boat once docked at 8am. This was very strict as there are cabins below the gym. Only way of getting in before this was to do a stretch and relax class at 7.30am which didn’t look like it would be worth walking to the lifts for, looked more like lie down and sleep. Shame they charged £7 odd for the spinning class too and there weren’t more aerobic classes available for free. Other than that it was fine, lots of equipment, busy in the morning with everybody standing at the front doors at 8am ready to get their preferred machine. Pools were fine though were majorly busy are what I would imagine a typical Benidorm holiday would be like, definitely wasn’t what we expected. At 5pm they would do a sail away party were the entertainment staff would come out and do sing along and arm waving that was fit for a 10 year olds party. We weren’t pleased but the other 2000 passengers seemed happy with it! (Bah humbugs!). Some days there were ice sculpting which was interesting, deck BBQs and as I said some parties when departing the island. Evening entertainment was fantastic thanks to the Headliners Theatre Group, such amazing singers and dancers who kept us entertained with 4 different shows while on-board. There were also two comedians, a Tom Jones and Gary Barlow tribute and a fantastic 4 piece Michael Buble style band who were amazing too. SHORE EXCURSIONS If there is something that you really want to do, ie whale watching/boat trips/river rafting, I would recommend booking through P&O as these wont be available to book on the day. For beach trips and island tours it was massively cheaper to book on arrival at the port. There are many street vendors over 50% cheaper than P&O. DISABLED FRIENDLY The disabled friendly room was fab. It was a great size and had excellent facilities throughout, the shower room was the same size as our cabin, the mother in law was made up! Getting on and off the ship was easy enough too as there would be a steward to help out at every port. The only port she was unable to get off was Tortola as we had to use a tender from the boat to the port. She didn’t miss much to say the least! All in all the cruise was fab, I would recommend P&O for both families and couples as there was something for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We thought that we would try a fortnight in the Eastern Med/Adriatic and see Venice from a reasonably big boat before the rumoured restrictions are put into place. Now this is neither our first cruise with P&O, nor our first fly/cruise ... Read More
We thought that we would try a fortnight in the Eastern Med/Adriatic and see Venice from a reasonably big boat before the rumoured restrictions are put into place. Now this is neither our first cruise with P&O, nor our first fly/cruise on the Ventura, also we understand that change must happen, but there are certain things we look forward to on cruises, certain standards met, etc. We take it as a given that once on-board, all any cruise line is interested in is our money, and this used to to politely done, now it is just blatant. From our point of view, Ventura has very nearly lost all 'Britishness' it once had and its patently obvious that the parent company Carnival Corp. has totally failed to understand P&O's major customer group i.e. the British. First the ship is looking very tired now, the much publicized refit was not very visible except for the normally empty, pretentious and overly expensive 'The Retreat' (same as the Azura), and in my opinion a total waste of space. The refit has not physically changed the old Rambalas/Tapas bar and is thankfully not a copy of that horrible creation on Azura, but is now also called the ‘Glass House’. There was visible damage to many wooden fittings in public areas, missing tiles around the pool(s) area, and peeling surfaces of the pool itself. Deck 15 food the pizza, burger/hotdog, self-service area, and the ‘Beachhouse’ does not appear to have changed. We did not try the ‘White Room’ this time because we thought the cover charge was extortionate, but we heard rumours that is was not that busy. We did try ‘East’ and the ‘Glass House’ once each, both were expensive but the food was well cooked and very tasty. This is the first time that we had been allocated ‘freedom dinning’ and the ability to eat when it is convenient is very attractive (unless you have to wait – of course), however the service we received here was definitely not silver service, mostly it was rushed with side plates and cutlery often missing from the tables, glassware was not properly dried or polished. Most times missing items (including butter) were replaced from nearby tables while the occupants were still eating. The quality and presentation of the food was somewhat less than it had been on other cruises, e.g. the main dish was presented fully plated and therefore you had no opportunity to have fewer or more vegetables as you wished, also the medium-rare beef always seemed to be a bit too rare. Drinks were as previous P&O cruises i.e. of reasonable prices compare to other cruise lines. But it should be noted that on the Genoa-Venice leg of the trip all purchases are subject to Italian VAT @ 22% extra – because the ship does not leave EU waters for those 7 days. As always the entertainment was of mixed quality, from very good to very poor. Now this is a very subjective subject and I will not expand too much further, suffice it to say many did not appreciate comedians who told the audience that "he did not care ... what they thought" and/or using swear words and lewd comments in front children. It was noticeable that day-time talks, recitals, craft classes etc were greatly curtailed. Normally we fly with the P&O charter carrier, but this time we elected to fly with BA the consequence of this entailed a certain amount of claiming baggage and transferring it ourselves to allotted points for onward transport, we were resigned to this hardship. It is our opinion that P&O/carrier interface was poorly managed from P&Os end, as all the problems appeared to be of P&Os making and this made embarkation and dis-embarkation at best chaotic and at worse shambolic. All in all, we found that this cruise the destinations were great, the ship was missing something and definitely lacked the old romance/sparkle of previous and felt slightly niggardly and of reduced quality.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. Within minutes our bags were taken from us and due to mobility was amazed, taken straight to checkin desk and within 15 minutes we were standing in our cabin C431 a twin with shower and balcony. We decided to leave the unpacking till after we had a walk around the ship. What a lady, Ventura had just come back from having her refit. Atrium was bright and airy. Onboard shops were easy to find, walk around and noone jumped on you as soon as you entered the shop ( one of my pet hates. We found most of the places for Dining, the Orangery was already very busy. We had booked with the knowledge we would be given a dining time and table on reaching our cabin. We were on MDR 2nd sitting in Saffron. And so we set sail. We missed the sail away party as we were unpacking. Our cabin was spacious and we had everything we needed. Our cabin steward Winston, was fantastic once we had told him we were first time cruisers. Our nights on board were 2 Black tie. 2 smart casual and 3 casual. We loved the thought of getting dressed for dinner. The meals were very good, waiters very experienced and helpful. We had no issues with the food and rarely ate lunch as we either on an excursion or had a light snack in the Orangery. Eating in the orangery was a little ruff as the few times we ate there reminded us of school caffateria. We ate in the White room one evening, and both the food and the staff were lovely. We had pre-booked 3 excursions as the last one was full, but we were told via the excursion team, we had seats for the Flam railway. Our ports of call in the Norwegian Fjords were Stavanger. Flam, Olden and Bergen. What wonderful sights, to stand on the pier without a coat on to looking up to snow capped Mountains. Excursion were very good. One or two "Eek" moments on the coach going up the mountain on very narrow roads, I swear at one point some of the coach was hanging over a 70mtre drop. On the whole we really enjoyed our excursions. The entertainment was fair as I had been expecting full scenery, lighting and Broadway show so I was a little disappointed with the shows, however we saw the Chapman Brothers twice, only one we liked. There were children on the cruise and most were very polite and courteous, mind u is till cannot understand young, fit children who take the lift to go up or down one floor!!! Overall we were very impressed with the service. Staff very very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed it so much we have recently returned from a 14 night Baltic cruise on the Aurora, but that's another tale. Well done all the staff on Ventura for its them that make or break a cruise Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
After an excellent Weekend visiting Longleat House and Safari Park we traveled to Holiday Inn Express which in our opinion is betterthan Premier In Although further from the Port. We arrived at the port at 10-30 there was a delay and we ... Read More
After an excellent Weekend visiting Longleat House and Safari Park we traveled to Holiday Inn Express which in our opinion is betterthan Premier In Although further from the Port. We arrived at the port at 10-30 there was a delay and we were lined up in car park for 30 minutes. After this we had an excellent embarkation. Stateroom was available as soon as we had lunch We were in P340 which is accessable with a wet room, Inside but next toCosta Coffee, very central. Dinner companions were a delight!!! They put up with Ann being fed her Dinner (this has put some people off in the past and they never returned to the table) Food was very good throughout the cruise both in dining room and waterside. The ENTERTAINMENT WAS A GOOD MIX OF musicals type shows by the HEADLINERS and cabaret singers and classical music. There were many children on board, many more than you would expect in Term time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
We drove down the day before and stayed overnight on a cruise package at the De Vere Grand Harbour, which included bed & breakfast and 15 nights parking with port transfers by taxi, and it provided very acceptable 4 star accommodation ... Read More
We drove down the day before and stayed overnight on a cruise package at the De Vere Grand Harbour, which included bed & breakfast and 15 nights parking with port transfers by taxi, and it provided very acceptable 4 star accommodation in an accessible room. This was our first cruise on Ventura but we have sailed on a couple of similar sisters, Azura as well as Emerald Princess, so we knew our way round quite well. The main difference between Ventura and Azura is that the former has one of its main pools covered, whilst the latter has the sea screen above one of its pools. As this was an Iceland & Fjords cruise the covered pool was especially beneficial as it allowed us to feel that we were on deck when it was too cold to be out on an open deck. Other than that Ventura has the same public rooms as Azura but they are named differently and the decor has also been changed. As regards decor our favourite area was Ramblas, this is a Spanish themed speciality bar and restaurant serving Tapas as well as 3 course Spanish meals for a very reasonable surcharge, and the food is quite good as well. Havana is the nightclub style venue, here we thought the solid dividers between the tiers restricted the view of the stage area from the upper tiered seats, from memory I think that on Azura these have been changed to a see through glass type. However there are plenty of wide screen TVs set into the ceiling which give you a fairly good view of the stage area. We ate mainly in the MDR and never had a poor meal, some menus are more tempting than others, but you can always find something to enjoy. We ate once in the White Room and thoroughly enjoyed the food and the experience, despite the fairly rough seas,. I think the charge is a bit excessive,if it had been more reasonable we would probably have gone back again, particularly as the menu changes for the second week of the cruise. The buffet was generally crowded but we were normally always able to find a table even it meant sharing. We also ate one evening in the waiter service American diner, which by day is part of the Beach House buffet. This was the evening we sailed back down the fjord from Olden, you will have to queue to get a window seat when it opens at 6:30, but for any scenic daylight cruising the views are worthwhile. The MDR waiters and wine waiters were attentive but unobtrusive. The only minor criticism we had in the buffet section was that the slatted wooden tables in the covered pool area often had food debris between the slats, but I suspect this is because they are more difficult to wipe clean than the solid topped ones. Other than that the service was the usual high standard. The entertainment was typical P&O fare, the headliners were excellent as usual, and we also enjoyed the Elton John tribute and Chilli Gold, but we skipped the comedians. We also went to a couple of interesting talks on cruising and cruise ships from Anthony Cooke who has a very pleasant presentation technique, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy these talks and I will try sampling other ones in future. We had an accessible balcony cabin on Riviera deck identical in all respects to the one we had on Azura last August. The facilities and layout of these cabins are excellent, the only additional item we had requested was a shower chair, which my wife uses at the washbasin, otherwise everything was provided, plenty of grab handles in the bathroom and a drop down shower stool. The extra space these cabins provide make it easy to manoeuvre a wheelchair, this is very useful especially in rough seas when my wife finds it impossible to walk around the cabin. Our cabin steward was as usual very efficient and provided any little extras that we requested. These cabins are adjacent to the forward lifts but there was absolutely no noise from the lifts, and to be honest very little noise from passing passengers either. Perhaps one area that P&O might look to improve is in the cost of their accessible tours, I appreciate that small mini buses with only about 6 or 8 passengers will be more expensive to hire than the normal coaches, but we have a Celebrity cruise booked for September and they appear to include wheelchair passengers in their normal shore excursions and at reasonable costs, albeit only for a small number of tours, so it will be interesting to make a comparison. However P&O do provide free shuttles in ports that need them, on this trip Dublin, Reykjavik, Bergen and Zeebrugge, they also try to offer an accessible shuttle but they never give a guarantee, but on this cruise there were accessible vehicles at the 4 shuttle ports; however for wheelchair users if you are able to board a normal coach on foot, and put your chair in the luggage bay, this will be much more convenient, they normally only have one accessible vehicle, and you can wait quite some time between its trips. The other ports, Akureyri in Iceland, Alesund, Olden and Stavanger, the ship berthed almost in the town centre. These four ports were relatively easy for wheelchair users, but there were cobbled sections and some steep inclines, and not everywhere had good quality dropped pavements, but we managed with our manual wheelchair. For early June we had reasonable weather on this cruise, Iceland was very sunny and it was quite warm in Akureyri, in Norway Olden had the best weather, very sunny and almost hot by afternoon. There was also some sunshine in Stavanger and Zeebrugge, and even in Alesund and Bergen where it was cooler there was very little wind and it was dry; only in Dublin did it rain, but Ireland is not called the emerald for nothing. So take clothing to allow you to dress in layers and just hope you can remove some. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
just got back from the Norwegian Fjiord cruise. This was my second cruise in the company of my two sisters one of whom is severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The cabin was a balcony suite with disabled facilities which were ... Read More
just got back from the Norwegian Fjiord cruise. This was my second cruise in the company of my two sisters one of whom is severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair. The cabin was a balcony suite with disabled facilities which were ideal for our needs. The Butler Dheeraj and our cabin steward Surrendra were fantastic and could not do enough to meet our needs. Surrendra especially went over and above his duties to ensure our comfort. All the waiting staff whether in the waterside,other restaurants, bars etc were friendly and helpful, I cannot understand those who complain that they are surly and unfriendly, perhaps they respond to being treated as equals and not as servants, as we found them all to be friendly if addressed in the proper manner. The food was as usual superb, in all the dining experiences. The fjiords were picturesque but mostly the waterfalls were still frozen so we did not quite see the at their best.Also it was very cold when off the ship. I have always wanted to see the fjiords from my schooldays, now i have but i must say i prefer the sun. The entertainment was very good. The Headliners put on a great show.The comediens were good, The Freddie Mercury tribute was good as well as hilarious and guest speaker Sue Holderness from "Only Fools and Horses" was excellent Only one complaint,our luggage should have been in the priority disembarkation area, it was'nt and it took 30 minutes to find it in a vast hall full of suitcases, not easy. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. ... Read More
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. Overall we had a superb cruise. Ventura does most things well. Its a reliable cruise experience and is relatively good value. We booked at only 1 months notice and got a great deal. The ports were mostly great. We didnt take any excursions as Mum need a wheelchair where walking distances is required but still enojoyed our jaunts ashore. Our favourites were St Maartin and Grenada. Having been on here three times in 13 months we did notice some differences. None of these spoilt the cruise but for regular passengers on her it may be worth nothing the following: Showtimes On previous trips on Ventura and Azura, the evening show in the main theatre usually had three performances at approx 7pm, 8.30pm and 10.30pm. This allowed a choice of performance for any club sitting passengers. Those on first sitting could choose the 8.30 or 10.30 show and those on second sitting could choose the 7 or 10.30 show. You could also coordinate it to fit in the a performance in Havanna or Tamerind. However, things had changed on this trip. The theatre only had two performances, 8.30 and 10.30. This doesnt affect those on first sitting so much but if you are on second sitting you only have the option of the last showtime. It also means you cannot get to fit in a performance in Havanna as well as the start times clash with those in the main theatre. Its a bit of a double whammy for second sitters and also meant those on freedom dining may have needed to be more selective in their choice of dining times in order to fit in performances. Also as there was one less theatre show per evening the others were much busier. One one evening, we finished our second sitting meal at 9.50, went straight to Havanna for a 10.30 act and there were no seats left. We walked though to the theatre and again could not get in so no entertainment for us that night. We chose second sitting based on our previous experiences so we could see an early show, have dinner and then take in an act in Havanna or Tamerind alas this was not possible on this trip. As we had seen many of the shows and acts previously this did not impact on us as greatly as it may impact on others but it is a major change to the way in which the evening entertainment is scheduled and I overheard others complaining. I did get to speak to one of the entertainment team about this and they advised that as this 2 week cruise included a lot of people who had opted to take the 1 month cruise they decided they would not need three shows per night for our 2 weeks. I pointed out how it affected us and others particularly those on 2nd sitting and she advised she had just come off Azura and had found the 7 o'clock show to be quiet and therefore it was better to concentrate people into two shows per evening. I hope this is not permanent change they implement. The theatre holds 700 for a ship of 3000+ passengers and therefore only two performances isnt good enough. Feedback from the forum seems to suggest P&O have done this before on Azura which is a little worrying. Drinks prices Some prices have risen. For example in Dec 2010 a pint of Stella was $2.95. It is now $3.50, a rise of 18%. You could previously buy a litre caraffe of house wine in the MDR for $11.95. This has now gone and house wine is in 75cl bottles at $12.95. Thats a rise of 50%. Other drink prices have also risen incl some cocktails but these are the prices I noticed as they are the ones we have previously partaken of. Bottled water too has risen in price. Now P&O still have good value drink prices however such sharp price rises appear to be more than simply reflecting inflation and may hint at a subtle change in direction for P&O onboard pricing. Menus This was the first time we have experienced the new menus in the MDR. The changes are not enourmous. As has already been reported the 'always available' Chicken, Salmon and Steak options have gone. As has the prawn cocktail, unpublished, but always available starter. We found the choice of starters a little more difficult than previously. Many were simply trying to be too fancy and we did find we were trying them but leaving our choices more than previously.The soups however were extremely good and better than before. There is extra choice in the mains sections which now usually features a from the grill section and/or local produce option dependant on your port of call. Also the veg served seperately has been reduced from three to two options but this is still plenty. Fish appears much more frequently, in fact on one evening fish formed 3 of the 7 options. Two of our party love fish so this pleased them however it has to be said the fish portions were very small but nicely cooked. For those who dont like fish their choices have been reduced. We did crave a simple steak or piece of salmon from the always available section on occassion and it is a shame this has been dropped (we did find out half way through that the chicken option remains always available but I am unsure why given that its not mentioned anywhere and only offered when we enquired). This was the first time we had moved from freedom dining to club dining and our views of the service we had previously received in freedom dining have been reinforced. The service in club was far better: much more personable, friendly and attentive and at the end of the two weeks we definately thought they had earned their tips. We had a great rapport with our waiters and they got to know our preferences. Our previous views of the service in freedom dining have been that it was mostly functional but hardly warm and friendly and had been occassionally disorganised with widely varying meal durations. We had tried it on Azura once and twice on Ventura and had the same experience each time and having now had the comparison of the service levels in club dining it is clear that the waiters in club work for their tips. It will be interesting to see if standards in club slip once the tips start being automatically added to passengers onboard accounts this year. Our waiter in Club had actually been our waiter in Freedom dining twice in May last year and the difference in his level of service was so visible. I have to mention that for the second time in a year we experienced Huey Taylor as Cruise Director. I hate to pick someone out personally but this role has a huge impact on passenger enjoyment and on how they view the connection between the cruise company and themselves and unfortunately Huey just doesnt suit Ventura at all. He was uttely invisiable apart from daily lacklustre announcements reading out the contents of Horizon. He appears to delegate everything to his team (who are excellent) and I really cannot understand why he is in this role on this size of vessel. A CD needs to inject enthusiasm but he lacks any connection with passengers. What is it with P&O and cruise director role? Surely there are better in the ranks who would jump at the chance to bring some enthusiasm to this job? Anyway, despite the differences noticed between this and previous cruises, we loved out New Year cruise and would not hesitate to chose Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was our third trip with P&O, our second on Ventura, previously Xmas 2010 which followed Azura in May 2010. I posted a full review of both trips on here for those interested. Ventura met our expectations again, based on our ... Read More
This was our third trip with P&O, our second on Ventura, previously Xmas 2010 which followed Azura in May 2010. I posted a full review of both trips on here for those interested. Ventura met our expectations again, based on our previous trip 4 months previous. We travelled as a party of 4 in 2 cabins: - 3 adults in the 40-50 age group and our Mum in her late 70s who is a part time wheelchair user. Embarkation: We arrived at 11.45, car swiftly taken off our hands by CPS and we were on board within 30 minutes having lunch in the buffet. Cabin: A standard balcony cabin on C deck. These have the larger balconies which are twice the depth of those featured by standard balcony cabins on other decks. We didn't mind the fact that half the balcony is visible to those above as you still have the overhang of the deck above which shades the rear half from view if some privacy is required. We would definitely choose a C deck cabin again if available. The interior of the cabin was identical to that on Azura the previous year (we had a superior deluxe cabin on D deck on our Xmas Ventura trip but didn't feel the price difference on this trip justified it). The inside of our cabin was kept very clean by our invisible cabin steward who we saw only once when she introduced herself. Not an issue for us but I know some prefer a more personable cabin steward. We did note the balcony wasn't clean on boarding and wasn't cleaned at all during the trip, either the interior part or the outside glass and could have done with a good deep clean. On our Xmas cruise they advised on some mornings which sections of the balconies would be cleaned each day but there didn't seem to be any balcony cleaning at all on this cruise. However we were so pleased with the size of the balcony that we forgave this. Food: We ate in the buffet for breakfast each day. Again a good choice which suited all our preferences including Quorn bacon and Quorn sausages to order for our Veggie member. Can't really fault the breakfasts at all apart from saying that some things could have been warmer on occasion. Lunch was also mainly in the buffet with most of us choosing from the large salad range. A couple of us had burgers or pizzas from the places by the pool which were always reliable and freshly cooked. Most cruises, and Ventura too, receive criticism for having too little space to sit in the buffet. We always found a space but maybe not in the section we would prefer. I've said it before that the people who complain about not being able to find a seat seem to be the same ones who hug their third cup of tea after finishing their meal for an eternity instead of making way for others or they are the couples who sit at a table for 8 instead of walking a few yards further and sitting at a smaller table. We chose Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon Restaurant again and ate there on 12 of the 14 nights. We thought the MDR food on Ventura at Xmas was very good and better than on Azura and we thought that on this trip it had notched up even further. A really good choice of selections on the menu and a good separate Vegetarian menu to pre-select for the following night. Out of the 12 nights we were seated immediately on a table for four on 10 of them with a buzzer being given on the other 2 nights with waits of 5 mins and 15 mins which was pretty good. This allowed us to plan to dine around our choice of entertainment. Having now experienced freedom dining 3 times on P&O I have to say the flexibility means we would always choose this option. However, I do believe there is a trade off in terms of the service. This can be very variable with some waiters looking quite fed up and quite a difference some nights in terms of the speed of the meal being delivered: anything from 1 hour to 2 ½ hours dependant on the waiter so it was hard to predict. On one night we sat with our empty soup bowls on the table for 25 minutes before I had to find the head waiter to get things moving again as our waiters seemed to have vanished. I would describe the service as functional rather than great. I do think that in Club Dining the waiter is encouraged to go the extra mile in order to secure their tips and maybe achieve more than the recommended tip from a passenger with whom they have built up a relationship. We hear about the little personal touches Club Dining waiters offer and how they get to know your preferences. On freedom dining a set tip is assured (unless you go to Reception to adjust it) so they simply don't have the same incentive to offer more than a functional level of service. After all why should one waiter offer a higher level of service when his less enthusiastic colleague will receive the same share of the tips? I'm not sure what the answer is here apart from better management of the waiters. On RCI's equivalent of freedom dining the waiters were superb in every respect, always smiling and incredibly helpful and personable. As I said we would still choose freedom dining over Club dining to allow us more flexibility but I do feel that the service could be better overall. We dined in the Beachcomber Diner one night which was a nice change and offered a good choice of freshly cooked food and was very busy. We also ate in the White Room to celebrate a birthday. Overall we were a bit disappointed with MPWs eatery. The service was ok but not as good as on our previous visit or as good as in Seventeen on Azura and it was a shame the menu was the same as it was 4 months previous. My Mother was not too pleased upon ordering a dessert to be told by the waiter 'are you sure as there are a lot of calories in that'! Maybe something got lost in translation but it's not what a woman wants to hear. Also Veggies note that small appetisers are served but they don't have any for veggies and the desserts are not marked as vegetarian and this took quite a bit of persistence to get accurate answers about whether they were vegetarian or not. I think as we all thought the food in the MDR was so good when we compared it with our evening in the White Room this led us to decide we would not visit it again. Nice to try but we were not overwhelmed. We didnt eat in the East restaurant as the Veggie options were not great. Entertainment: This cruise had the best entertainment of our 3 P&O cruises. Daytime activities were again varied and offered a packed programme however the main difference was the Headliners Shows. Previously we had become tired of the 'West End Show' description given to the Headliners on Azura and our previous Ventura cruise as we felt they never quite hit the spot and could be a bit cringeworthy. Many disagreed but mainly those of a certain age. However we were told that we were the first to experience 3 of the new shows on this cruise and that the headliners were a new group of professionals that had been put together. We were handed a program detailing the experience of the performers and it was clear this was no amateur group. The result was amazing: Superb voices, great dancing, professional sets and costumes and excellent productions. Their shows became increasingly more popular and the 8.30 performance required people to start queuing up to an hour or so early to ensure a seat. We only went to the 7pm shows and always found a seat with ease. If P&O are going to roll this new style out across the fleet then they are going to start gaining a very good reputation for quality shows. They put on a total of 6 shows. We had seen one before, Destination Dance, on Azura last year and all four of us didn't like it at all. It felt a bit like seeing an Amateur Dramatic production, however the same show performed by these guys was amazing. Such good dancers and singers and the sound was superb. We did find it strange that Hughie Taylor the Cruise Director was quite invisible. He only appeared for some Arena shows and didn't introduce the Captains Welcome Speech at the time we attended. At the Great British Sailaway his job entailed handing flags out rather than being part of the main entertainment team which was a little strange. I think he is possibly suited more to a smaller ship without the cross section of ages on Ventura. Most of the other acts we had experienced previously. I'm not sure how often they rotate their acts but I would be pretty miffed if we booked another cruise with P&O in the next year or so and came across the same group of singers and comedians yet again. However I would have to say we could watch Jimmy Love as Elton John any day. We have to mention Laura from the Entertainment team who had us in stiches on numerous occasions with her accent (when calling number 66 during bingo it became 'sexty sex' for example). Her quizzes were equally funny. Bars: We really like the choice of bars on Ventura each one offering a different ambience and you could always find somewhere to sit somewhere onboard. Drinks prices remain very reasonable although we did note draught lager and some cocktails have increased in prices since Dec 2010. Not by a lot but an increase nonetheless. Bar service is generally superb. Ports of Call: I'm not going to go into a description of each port as this can be quite subjective and is covered in the ports of call section on this site. However I want to mention a new one to us: Valencia. Even the Captain had not been here before. We decided that we had seen enough history on our cruise and planned a trip to the Oceanographic Aquarium. This is part of a recent development of the old riverbed (La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias ) and the modern architecture is amazing. We took a taxi from the ship to the Aquarium and as it didn't open for an hour we walked around the area and were stunned by the buildings. It looks like something from a Sci-Fi film. The Aquarium was great too (the biggest in Europe) and we spent 3 hours in total exploring including watching the Dolphin Shop in the Amphitheatre before taking a taxi back. We worked out that in the end we only saved about £8 each off the cost of the ships' trip to the Aquarium so some may prefer to plump for this especially if you are only splitting the taxi fare a couple of ways. The Aquarium is amazingly disabled friendly with lifts everywhere down to the underwater tanks and tunnels. There are a few niggles in this review however this is really us being nit-picky. We still really like Ventura and still prefer it over Azura. We prefer the mix of passengers. Ventura is constantly being knocked as 'Butlins at Sea' which is very unfair and I feel this comes from passengers who don't really want to mix with children or younger people and perhaps are of a certain age and more suited to one of P&Os more traditional or adult only ships. On both Ventura cruises we have been on the age range has been wide although as this was a term time holiday it still must have averaged in the mid-50s. Because of this wider mix of ages we feel Ventura has a more relaxed feel whereas we found Azura to be a little snobby at times. We like dressing up for dinner with the best of them however we also want to be able to relax and enjoy our holiday as well and there were a nice bunch of people on this cruise with fewer of the 'old moaners' we encountered on Azura (sorry about the choice of description but you may know what I mean). We were told by the Captain that this cruise had over 1200 people new to cruising onboard which seemed a very high figure so P&O must be doing well attracting this number of new cruisers. Ventura does most things very well. It doesn't excel at many but neither does it disappoint much too and for us she continues to be our choice for a reliable mass market cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and ... Read More
Ventura N 014 June 5th 2020 for 7 days This was one of those late offers which was too good to miss, had four ports which despite all our cruising we had not visited and was our first on a fairly new P and O ship and our first with P and O since the Worldie in 2008 since when we have been with Cunard, RCI and Celebrity Sat 5th June We left Chelmsford at 0930 and my inbuilt SmartNav certainly earned its keep on this 130 mile journey. It found delays on the M 25 where the M1 joins and took us across on the A404 to rejoin further down, then before the M3 junction and we had a trip bringing back memories down the A30 before rejoining the M3 which had a further problem in the Winchester area which meant a further deviation eventually arriving 3 ½ hours later. One of our table companions lives 10 miles nearer and it took him 4 ½ hours. Then we were stacked in lines by CPS not helped by getting a text from Iain on the Independence of the Seas saying he and Lynn were having their first drink of the day. Once in the terminal building we were directed to the assisted disabled check in which was so busy we were asked to sit and wait so opted to use the Gold Members' check in which took just a couple of minutes and so looked forward to our first ever Goldie drinks. Wrong !!! None available. We found our disabled balcony cabin which was superb as expected and ventured up to the buffet lunch where at least I could buy a proper English beer. On the way back we tried the disabled access out onto the Promenade deck but I got stuck and Rosemary was amused when the passenger helping me said "take it steady Pop" !! After lifeboat drill the Captain allowed Grand Princess and Independence sail out past us and I could just imagine Iain and Lynn enjoying their Diamond free drinks !! We were on second sitting dinner in the Saffron restaurant and had a lively table for eight but we found it strange they were all British. After the first night the waiters encouraged me to take my scooter to within a couple of feet from the table. On the way someone shouted "there's Norman on his scooter" and disappeared. We thought it might be Iain's friends who were also on the ship but turns out they were lurkers on WLC (told us their names but of course I have forgotten them). We did meet Iain's friends later in the week in La Rochelle Sunday 6th June A comfortable crossing of the Bay of Biscay and although Rosemary went to Line Dancing we didn't do much at all. I did ring housekeeping as we didn't have our bath robes. A house keeping officer soon appeared to say we were not entitled to robes as these were only for those in superior balcony cabins and above and our super cabin was not a superior grade and even our Goldie status didn't qualify for one. I explained that our friends on Oriana had them but he replied that on Oriana they only had standard cabins anyway. I asked to speak with a senior officer to explain that P and O's policy was so outdated compared with RCI, Cunard and Celebrity but all that happened was they said my complaint would be logged and sent to shore side. Come on P and O get with it !! We did like the idea of the pre dinner 7.30 pm shows and noted that P and O now serve drinks like they do on the American ships and there are aircraft style drinks tables. We can't remember having seen Mike Doyle before but he was brilliant. This was followed by the Captain's cocktail party which we were surprised was held in the atrium with no seats available although I was on my scooter. Drinks flowed freely provided you wanted gin and tonic or white wine. We did learn there were over 1100 first time cruisers on this ship. Dress code was fairly OK in the dining room but not too good in other parts of the ship. Monday 7th June La Curuna Moored very close to town we had a walk by the Marina and as the sun came out realised we had left the sun screen in the cabin so had to get some from a local chemist after which we continued across the peninsular to the beach. There was a magnificent promenade with wonderful disabled access and also a vintage tram which followed the coast but curiously no bars or restaurants so we wandered back to the ship for lunch. Our Goldie presents arrived today which were two boxes each containing three miniature bottle of spirits - a nice change from the rubbish we have had in the past. Again we went to the pre dinner show which was Martin Daniels. I first saw Paul his dad before he became famous and Martin tonight was so funny I and the lady sat in front of me had tissues out to wipe the tears of laughter from our eyes. Disabled access to the theatre was superb although there were no designated seats for carers like we found on Oriana. We started going for after dinner drinks in the Metropolis and the first night the video wall was was set in Sydney right where we were berthed on Aurora and Oriana so that brought back memories. There were other entertainment venues one of which was Tamorind but we could never get a seat in there and the Exchange pub which we both found was a depressing place and the train never was working - the barman said it was the effect of volcanic ash !! I should have said I am finding the food at dinner quite acceptable especially as I found out the a prawn cocktail is always available as a starter. I was surprised when I asked for a steak knife because of my arthritic hands to be told they do not have steak knives on this ship !! The waiters were very good though and always asked if I wanted the meat cut up. Amazing having found out that one couple (American) who were on our table on the Constellation will be with us on the first leg of our Celebrity Equinox Cruise next January one couple on our table this time are booked on the second leg of that same cruise. Tuesday 8th June Bilbao Free shuttle buses were provided (they had taken the trouble to phone me earlier to say that disabled transport might not be available but with Rosemary's help I can get into a coach and the scooter goes in the luggage compartment) but as the weather was cloudy and the bus journey time was 45 minutes we decided to just have a wander round the marina area and beach and returned to the ship for lunch before it rained. Wednesday 9th June La Rochelle I've just found a note on my iPod that there were horrendous queues for breakfast in the buffet area yesterday morning - something I've not come across on other ships. P and O again laid on free shuttle buses for the 20 minute journey into town. They were using a mixture of coaches and bendy buses and the latter had driver operated electric ramps so fine for disabled users. After a wander round we chose a tent covered outside restaurant where Rosemary had her long awaited Moules and chips and being boring like I am joined her with a mushroom omelette all of course washed down with wine. During this time it was raining but they extended the tent top to cover my scooter. Fortunately it had stopped by the time we left and just as well it had as we met Iain's friend who introduced himself and warned us of a very lengthy shuttle bus queue. My word indeed it was and it disappeared out of sight around two street corners !! Everyone of course was moaning and there were no taxis to be seen and we felt sorry for oldies having to stand whilst I was sitting on the scooter. I suppose it was just over half an hour before we boarded and on sailaway the captain apologised and said it was due to some of the French bus drivers deciding to go to lunch. Thursday 10th June Brest/Quimper We had booked the P and O tour to Quimper (a one hour journey)where the coach just drops you off for three hours and I would confirm that P and O still offer the best service to disabled passengers on tour. Stickers delivered to the cabin the night before and a big personalised reserved poster on the front seat of the coach. As Amanda and Karen had commented a few weeks ago it is a lovely place but unlike for them the weather again was not too good. However, we found a creperie and indulged. After a big savoury one we both plumped for the sweet one which is flambEed at the table and served with ice cream. Well it was Rosemary's birthday and we had decided not to pay the £25.00 per person for the White Room as the menu did not excite (MPW was on board until we got to Bilbao). On Oriana Rhodes it was only £15.00 reduced to £10.00 for your birthday. East appeared nearly empty most nights but I don't like Indian food anyway. Oh and the waiters do not sing at the table now unless you pay for it (I presume) as one or two did have the singing during the week. Friday 11th June Guernsey At last the weather started to improve and we met our friends from the dinner table on the last Worldie who live there. We only had to wait about 15 minutes to be called for the tender and they didn't hesitate to load my scooter onto the tender (Cunard please note !!). Then when we got a call from our friends who we weren't able to contact whilst waiting to say they were picking us up P and O took the scooter back to the ship for me. Saturday 12th June We had tickets for a 9.00 am departure and were called 15 minutes early. The porter loaded the car with my spare keys while I waited at the CPS kiosk and unlike the journey down we had no problems and were home in 2 ½ hours. Summary I am really trying to make any criticism constructive so let's start off with the positives. This cruise in a super disabled access cabin was only £78 per day (after our credit) P and O wine prices were cheaper than others and so were the drinks although the latter can be offset by the strength of the drinks. P and O also let you take on board drinks to have in your cabin P and O are amongst the best for looking after their disabled passengers (once you can persuade them to let you have a disabled access cabin). For official tours they are THE best. The entertainment was very good and being on second sitting we enjoyed the pre dinner shows. The CD Leon de la Croix is the best afloat. Ventura had good disabled access except for getting out onto the Prom deck Despite recent postings on cruise sites the food was good and the silver service they have retained was welcome. The price for alternative dining was high however. Having tea and coffee making in the cabin is also a welcome P and O treat (but I have read somewhere that Eclipse will offer this) Free shuttle buses As for the ship itself the main problem was getting lost !! We have a lot of experience of big ships but were still getting lost on the last day. The big problem was that you can't walk right through the ship and not all lifts go to all areas all of which was not helped by very poor signing. Finding a sign was one problem - reading it was another. The ship as I have said was packed and finding a seat in the alternative entertainment venue was almost impossible (Tamorind ?) The exchange pub didn't appeal to either of us but we both enjoyed the ambience and music in the Metropolis. The buffet area was again very crowded and not once did anyone offer any help (except Rosemary of course !) We were used to P and O charging for fruit juice at lunchtime but they also charge for ice cream and I also noticed flicking through the room service menu that a lot of items were at an extra cost. Bar service in the buffet was good however. We did enjoy the experience but found five ports in five days was hard work and we were unfortunate with the weather. I can understand lovers of Oriana and Aurora not liking this ship and I thought maybe P and O were trying to compete with RCI but Amanda on WLC suggested that they are trying to fill the void being left by Ocean Village. Maybe the next decent offer we get from P and O will be on Arcadia but we do now have three booked on Celebrity Norman Kerridge June 2010 PS I do have my video on line http://www.vimeo.com/13427851 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 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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