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4 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews for Entertainment Cruises to Mediterranean

Happy 12-day cruise but just sometimes food quality was surprisingly poor. Potatoes with black rotting areas and occasionally not hot. Staff in smart restaurants and buffet were hard-working, helpful and pleasant. Often a ... Read More
Happy 12-day cruise but just sometimes food quality was surprisingly poor. Potatoes with black rotting areas and occasionally not hot. Staff in smart restaurants and buffet were hard-working, helpful and pleasant. Often a feeding frenzy in buffet servery which is too crowded sometimes and too small. One area is opened while the other closes. Ideally should both be open. All made worse by impatient passengers who don't like queuing. Also, despite polite request notes on each table asking diners to vacate once finished eating, there are some who seem to camp there for an hour or two chatting, dozing or reading books while others search for seats. Some ignore hand sanitisers in restaurants. Thump of engines can be heard in main restaurant. We heard that P&O have made economies on several fronts and sometimes it shows compared with previous cruises by us. Cabin stewards now asked to service more cabins daily. Stage shows were very good/excellent. One comedian fared badly/gross with old folk with mime of him pretending to wipe his bottom, complained about weak P&O 2-ply toilet paper, said some elderly passengers "smelled like the homeless" and were infirm - among other grubby "jokes." Long wait to disembark because of tide change and positioning the bridge to terminal. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose P & O as we have sailed with them before, we chose the Ventura as we wanted to go to the Canaries,Madeira and LIsbon also thought the weather would be good, unfortunately it was not as good as we hoped, but that's not P ... Read More
We chose P & O as we have sailed with them before, we chose the Ventura as we wanted to go to the Canaries,Madeira and LIsbon also thought the weather would be good, unfortunately it was not as good as we hoped, but that's not P & O's fault. Boarding at Southampton went really smoothly and we were in our cabin quite quickly. We had a balcony cabin on deck 11 which was lovely and clean, the cases arrived soon after and we met out steward a lovely young lady called Sunting, hopefully I got that right. Then came the life jacket drill at your muster station which you find on the back of the door, our was at the Glass House. The beds were made as soon as you left the cabin for breakfast and then turned down at night whilst you were out and the towels and flannels changed. The tea/coffee gets refilled all the time in your cabin which is nice if you want to make a drink and sit on your balcony. Meals: We decided to go Select so we had dinner and some breakfasts in the Bay Tree Restaurant nice knowing your table was reserved at night and you had the same waiters, ours were William and Rodell, who were absolutely brilliant and so pleasant and helpful. The dinner menus were excellent and such a variety, the deserts were out of this world. Breakfast we occasionally took in the Waterside buffet especially if we wanted to ashore early, you could not fault the selection, every thing you could possible want. Make sure you get a table first as it is very busy. Sindu at East is a beautiful restaurant there is a cover charge of £20 pp but well worth it, the service is first rate and the food is excellent, we booked a table before we left the UK but you can book on the ship. Entertainment what can I say there was so much to do if you felt inclined, my wife joined the Line dancing class on sea days with Abby, who she said was so much fun the dance floor was packed, very popular. There is also talks, demonstrations the list is endless, when you get the Horizon paper every evening in your cabin, trying to fit everything in is impossible. The Headliners shows are very professional make sure you see everyone, the Arena gets packed each night, but the seats are well spaced so you can get a good view where ever you sit. Make sure you see the show called "Astonishing" you will certain be amazed. Stephen Mulhern came aboard in Lisbon to see the show, as it was the first time it had been shown and he had produced it. Overall the shows in the Tamarind,Havana and all over the ship were very good. Will say that both of these bars get very busy and it is sometime hard to find a seat, but the entertainment is worth it. Also the Arena shows up to date films, we saw the Greatest Showman, Black Panther and Darkest Hour, good it the weather is not sunbathing weather. On this cruise we called at La Coruna, Madeira, La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lisbon. We only went on 1 excursion which was to the Medieval Walled Village of Obidos thoroughly enjoyed it and if you go you must try their local drink called Ginja, a cherry liquor in a chocolate cup, you drink it, then eat the cup only 1 euro what a brilliant idea. We found the service from every member of staff was polite and always very helpful you could not ask for more. You dock in the ports and in a couple of ports there is a shuttle bus to take you to the town and back, running frequently, but you can walk . There are always Hop on and off buses in the cities if you want to see around. Overall apart from the weather I could not fault this cruise and will certainly be booking another. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The itinerary was the main reason for choosing this cruise particularly for excursions to Florence and Rome. Embarkation was swift and well organised as was disembarkation and our excursion to Rome was enjoyable and hassle free if a little ... Read More
The itinerary was the main reason for choosing this cruise particularly for excursions to Florence and Rome. Embarkation was swift and well organised as was disembarkation and our excursion to Rome was enjoyable and hassle free if a little rushed. So to the ship itself, we were expecting it to be a little shabby in places as she is due to have a major refit but we were pleasantly surprised by the cabin which although an inside was relatively spacious and spotlessly clean . Our cabin steward did an excellent job and was able to source a mattress topper and comfortable pillows for my partner who suffered a back problem two days into the cruise. The overall service by the hard working staff was very good, both in the restaurant and the bars but unable to comment on the service in the speciality dining areas as we did not use them. We found the food was generally good in the main dining Room ( we were on freedom dining in Saffron ) but a little hit and miss in the buffet though we could always find something to eat, all be it was not always hot. Occasionally it felt like a bun fight when passengers were entering the food area from both directions and some people were acting as if it was going to be their last meal... enough said. Entertainment was varied and the Headliners were as good as always however we found the music generally not to our taste and would have appreciated more live bands and perhaps some classical musicians playing in the main Arena theatre. The Ventura orchestra should be applauded though as they helped to show off the speciality acts to their best advantage. One of the main criticisms we had was even though Ventura is a large ship, there seemed to be a lot of wasted space. Not many passengers used the Sindhu , Glass house or the Epicurean and these are large areas which we feel could be put to better use . The Atrium dance floor was used only for dance lessons and Ballroom and there was just a complete lack of atmosphere generally in the evenings around the Ship. I personally would not choose Ventura again but I can see that She has appeal for the more senior travellers. All that said, we still enjoyed the cruise and would go with P & O again in the future but perhaps on one of the smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
About Time We have cruised with P&O many times, it was our first trip on Ventura although we were familiar with the layout having cruised on Azura and some Princess ships. This cruise was mainly to visit Greece and some of the ... Read More
About Time We have cruised with P&O many times, it was our first trip on Ventura although we were familiar with the layout having cruised on Azura and some Princess ships. This cruise was mainly to visit Greece and some of the Greek islands, but also included Ibiza and Gibraltar. The itinerary had changed twice, Turkey was swapped for Rhodes. The order of ports was changed this meant that we had Santorini to ourselves, instead of being with another four ships, good call! Embarkation/Disembarkation The ship was using the Ocean Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at getting people through as quickly as possible. Porters take your luggage from you in the drop off lanes, next time you see it is outside the cabin. The only slight hold up is having to complete the health questionnaire on arrival, why not offer it for download from the Cruise Personaliser. P&O complicate this by giving you a boarding time, ours is 15:00, it always is whatever P&O cruise we take! We decided to aim for 13:30, and only had to wait around until 14:00 before being called to check-in. We arrived at our cabin by 14:30 and our luggage was already waiting for us. Disembarkation is equally efficient. A few days before the end of the cruise there was an announcement on the back of the Horizon newspaper advising that if you were traveling independently to tell Reception what time you would like to disembark. Instructions are then dropped off at your cabin. We selected 09:00, as did another 800. Our meeting place was the Arena theatre; we duly filed in at 08:00 and filled the theatre from the front to the back, following the instructions of one of the entertainment team (she had quite a job on to retain order!). At 09:00 we left the theatre in a line from front to back, surprisingly this is very efficient if everyone does as they are told. The baggage reclaim is a big hall with the luggage located in deck order. There were plenty of trollies and staff to help find the odd misplaced bag. We were ready and waiting outside for our taxi by 09:25. Cruise Critic Roll Call Meet and Greet No M&G was organised beforehand, we knew that we would all be too busy enjoying ourselves! Dining We had opted for Freedom Dining which gives great flexibility, but it can get busy at peak times, the best strategy is to be prepared to share a table (requesting a table for two will probably result in being given a pager). We tended to eat in the Saffron Restaurant, we also used it for breakfast and lunch. The Saffron Restaurant is very big, but the service is very good. The selection of dishes each evening seemed a little limited, some nights we resorted to the always available steak or salmon. The breakfast choices in the MDR are comprehensive, but I don’t think the choice has changed in the 10 years we have been sailing with P&O. Lunch in the MDR is also pleasant, and fairly quiet with a good set of menu choices and usually an interesting curry. Other dining options that we tried were the Waterside (buffet) is a useful alternative for breakfast and lunch (we did not try it for dinner). It became congested at peak times and on sea days. People did tend to spread themselves out and hoard tables. The Poolside Grill provided a quick and hearty service of burgers and hotdogs. This was very handy when returning from trips. The Poolside Pizzeria was very good with pizzas cooked to order taking about 10 minutes. We also tried the Select dining outlets which incur an additional charge. The Epicurean provides top level dining at a modest charge; we had Chateaubriand (which we had always wanted to try). The service is attentive and personal this makes for a very special and memorable evening. Watch out for the Earlybird offers, a free bottle of house wine if you book to dine before 6:30 The Glasshouse is more relaxed, we tried the special wine pairing meal (usually once a week) the food was amazing and paired with wines that were surprising, but worked well. Each course and wine is described; again the service could not be faulted and was probably the best meal of the cruise. We also ate in the Glasshouse on another evening and again the food and service was very good. Be aware the Glasshouse tends to be where people queue to get into the theatre The Beach House is more of an American style diner, great selection of food, but you need to be hungry; once again, personal and attentive service in a relaxed pleasant environment. My Rib Combo was excellent and there was a lot of it! We did eat in Sindhu where we had an Asian lunch which was charged at £7.50 each and we thought was very good value. Beautifully prepared food with individual service. Bars Lots of bars as you would expect, some with an emphasis on gin. There is a wide selection of craft gins available in the Red Bar and Metropolis. Most drinks at pub prices, but if you want more than two glasses of wine a bottle of the house (white in our case) is an economical option at £16. The Tamarind Club could be difficult because it is also an entertainment venue it can become very crowded and difficult to get a seat, and there were people just sitting there for the live music and not having a drink. Cabin Our cabin was port rear on deck 9 (D612), it was a very good size; it is described as an superior deluxe balcony. The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. There is a spacious sitting area with a sofa, chair and variable height table. The balcony does not have an overhang and can be overlooked (no topless sun bathing here!), but it is a good size. Our steward Denzil looked after us well, and was always keen to do more. This grade of cabin comes with fluffy bathrobes, binoculars, atlas and on embarkation Champagne and chocolates. This cabin was very quiet, nothing rattled, but when they test the lifeboats which are immediately under the cabin, the noise of machinery is deafening! Lifeboat tests are usually on port days and at fairly sociable times, any other time and I would be very worried! Entertainment I enjoyed the lecture series, David Russell on aspects of the Royal Navy and John Mercer talking about the First and Second World Wars and some of the personalities. Both fairly male orientated, both very good. I took the Behind The Scenes Tour this was excellent and really worth the £75, but be warned it can be as long as five hours. The most impressive area was the navigational bridge, so spacious and an amazing view, a close second was the Engine Control Room the Chief Engineer Neil Collins really knows this ship inside out. The shows in the Arena Theatre, well we saw both shows with tenor Ben Makisi and they were very good, we would have liked to see more but there was a problem with the theatre. If you didn’t have you bum on a seat at least 30mins before curtain up, forget it. Some passengers had cracked the code and were obviously prepared to eat early, queue and wait for the shows, it seemed that their objective was to get good seats in at least two shows a night. Along with the Havana lounge and Tamarind Club these were the three targeted venues. In the end we gave up and enjoyed leisurely evening meals and drinks in selected quieter bars, each to their own. A special mention for Entertainment Manager (didn’t this used to be called Cruise Director?) Leon de ste. Croix, a real trooper! He can sing dance, do stand up and lecture on astronomy. He had to cope with a lot on this cruise, theatre main projector was off line for several days, one performer failed to appear due to BA problems at Gatwick and a critical member of the dance team went sick meaning a new show had to be shelved. He also had to apologise for a misprint in the newspaper which resulted in passengers changing their clocks a day early, late breakfast was busy that day. All this he carried off, Leon did not pay me to write this!! Photography We were pleasantly surprised by the ship’s photographers and their low key approach, it worked, and we actually bought some, £8 a print is very reasonable. The photographers were also very skilled and did manage a reasonable picture of us! Gym This has to be one of the best gyms afloat that I’ve tried and I used it 10 times (still put on weight though!). The 15 weights machines give you a complete workout. Plenty of tread-mills, cross trainers, bikes and rowing machines. My only suggestion would be to add a sit-up bench. Medical Centre We did not require the services of the Medical Centre, but I was taken round it on the behind the scenes tour, the facilities are comprehensive. One thing I learned was that they are unable to diagnose and treat a stroke, to do this they would require a CT scanner. Spa My wife had a full back massage which she found to be very beneficial, £75 for nearly an hour. Her therapist Theresa was very friendly and professional, and made a follow up phone call the next day just to make sure there were no problems. Ports of Call Ibiza We had been here before, and just took the shuttle bus into town where we had a good walk around and some lunch. There was a lengthy queue for the return shuttle bus, about half an hour. There was an even longer queue to get back on the ship, not quite sure what went wrong there. Athens (Piraeus) We had booked a trip here “The Acropolis and The Plaka”, everything was going well until we arrived at the car park for the Acropolis. On leaving the car park and taking the steps to the base of the Acropolis we became separated from the guide. Although we could hear the guide on the radio she was unaware that we were no longer with the group until she came to hand out the tickets to enter the Acropolis. For our part we searched the promenade at the base of the Acropolis and asked several people if they had seen our guide with our lollipop. After waiting some time we called the ship’s agent, who was not helpful, and told us to call the ship. Reception was very helpful, and arranged for the Excursion desk to call us back. When Ruth called us back we had returned to the car park and were waiting at the bottom of the steps. Kevin from the Excursion desk also called us with updates on progress. It was two hours before the guide eventually found us, by which time another couple who had become separated from the group at the Acropolis had joined us. After a while we could start to hear the guide again, and could hear someone telling her that they had also become separated. Soon after this the guide found us at the bottom of the steps, we then rejoined the group and discovered that the coach would not be picking us up from the car park. On return to the ship we went to the Excursion desk to discuss our problem and were effectively told that the incident was our fault. After a rather heated and fruitless discussion the agent agreed to request an appointment with her manager. No appointment was received, and we returned to the Excursion Desk two days later, to be told that the matter was in hand. The next day we received a letter from the manager apologizing and advising of compensation. In light of this here are our top tips for an enjoyable tour: 1. Make sure that your guide displays their lollipop prominently. 2. Ask your guide to set up a pre-arranged meeting point. 3. Before getting off a coach ask your guide to describe the flow of the tour and where the coach would be picking up from. 4. Ask your guide to provide an emergency contact number. 5. Take the Horizon Newspaper, port guide, working mobile phone and a debit or credit card. Santorini Once the ship was anchored, shore tenders came alongside to disembark passengers; these are much bigger than the ships tenders and provide a smoother ride. New for us was that everyone had to do a step test this involved stepping across two lines 45cm (18 inches) apart to prove that you were mobile enough to get on and off the tender. In the event there were two large gentlemen on the tender who grabbed you and lifted you on! We took the Best of Santorini tour, a very good tour with an interesting guide. You get to see a lot of the island, but I’m not sure how much value the included lunch provided. The lunch was self-service in a large venue with at least another five tour parties, yes, we’ve all been there, average food and not our first choice of wine! The tour could be shortened allowing more time in Fira, and perhaps a better lunch. Rhodes The ship docks very close to the Old Town, we just walked of and took a long walk around the town and harbour, then enjoyed a leisurely lunch and some shopping. Crete, Heraklion We have already seen most of the sights of Crete and Heraklion, so we took the transfer to Aghios Nikolaos. The host on the coach, Sandra was excellent, and when we arrived at Aghios Nikolaos she walked us around to and got us orientated. We had a pleasant walk around the Voulismeni Lake, and enjoyed a relaxed lunch, so relaxed that we did not have time to go to the beach. Our host positioned herself prominently in the coach park and we had no problems finding the coach. Katakolon for Olympia We took the Olympic Spirit tour, our guide Penny was a star, well informed on the historic aspects and highly organised. She kept the party together even when we lost one member they were soon back with us. It’s a fairly uneven site, but quite compact. The museum is definitely worth a visit, though it can become very busy. Aircraft spotters would have particularly enjoyed this trip because the Greek Airforce was practicing nearby! Gibraltar We have been here many times and our call was fairly short, not enough time for lunch. Like everyone else, we got off walked into town, did some shopping, had a beer then got back on board. As we walked back towards Ventura you could hear a lot of bottles chinking around us! Anything Else? Overall, an enjoyable cruise with the exception of some selfish passengers who were totally focused on what they wanted to do, queuing in the Glasshouse to make sure that you got into the theatre is not good, neither is leaving a show early to get to the next venue. This was also the first cruise where we have had three captains: Simon Terry left us in Ibiza for urgent personal reasons Deputy captain Max Rossi took over. In Athens Marcin Banach took over All this happened totally seamlessly. All that now remains is for me to lose the six pounds that I have gained on this cruise, and plan the next one! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
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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