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22 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - British Isles & Western

We normally sail for around two weeks, and we were worried that 7 days would be too short to enjoy our holiday, however the Ventura did us well. Embarkation was extremely quick with little to no waiting, we were on the ship within 20 ... Read More
We normally sail for around two weeks, and we were worried that 7 days would be too short to enjoy our holiday, however the Ventura did us well. Embarkation was extremely quick with little to no waiting, we were on the ship within 20 minutes or so. The ship is lovely, felt warm and cosy without seeming old or dated, plenty of areas to relax and it never felt crowded in the public areas. The outside pool areas were nice, the pool at the back is very quite and relaxing, and the inside pool (although it got loud during the day) provided shelter when cold and was a nice area. Dining was overall good, but there is room for improvement. The MDR was always up to a great standard, heavy on seafood but pleanty of other choices and some options that always remained the same. Service was good and attentive, and we always left feeling well fed. We ate there 2 times for dinner. We ate there twice also for breakfast, menu was a good size offering plenty and is a good alternative to the buffet (more on that later). We didn’t eat in there for lunch. We ate in the Epicurian twice for dinner, Sindu once and the Beach House once. All were amazing and well worth the extra charge. Sindu was our favourite, meals were unique and creative but tasty and familiar enough to not seem crazy or over the top. Service was incredible and it is a shame we only ate in there once. The Epicurian was also very good, providing a nice fine dining experience. If your looking for a slow, relaxed meal that doesn’t leave you feeling over-indulged then this is the place for you. Food was very creative and tasty which left everyone satisfied with their meal. However as said, service is slow (they cook everything to order) and took around 2 hours, so leave plenty of time. The Beach House was our least favourite (but still very good) and were satisfied eating only once. Portions were huge and very indulgent, so not the right spot if you’re looking for a light meal. Entertainment was repetitive, but what we did see was good and enjoyable. Comedians, shows and live music were the main entertainment. Service was generally good, waiters were happy and friendly (even in the buffet) very attentive (you don’t have to wait long for a drink) and the entertainment crew were funny and enjoyable. Our cabin steward was good, didn’t see much of him but did a very good job and was friendly. We traveled with our teenage child, the activities were good and he made friends, the staff were very lovely and really enjoyed working there. Overall a good cruise, and would possible cruise again. Read Less
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
Sail Date October 2018
The embarkation was reasonably quick after being kept waiting in our car for 15min by a lack of baggage porters. Once on board lifts were a problem due to one on each floor aft end out of order causing unacceptable wait times. The ... Read More
The embarkation was reasonably quick after being kept waiting in our car for 15min by a lack of baggage porters. Once on board lifts were a problem due to one on each floor aft end out of order causing unacceptable wait times. The cabin c631 was clean and tidy although a little drab colour wise, our steward was friendly and helpful. The Baytree restaurant the food was imo predictable nothing to really get you excited , the waiters were very busy indeed often having to run ! around the restaurant . The waterside deck 16 the food at times could only be classed as canteen quality! Drinks onboard were reasonably priced The pool area was very pleasant was always possible to find a sun bed For three nights at £900 for 2 would we book anther Ventura cruise No This was our 3 Ventura cruise after a a gap of 8 yrs standards have dropped . Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this short cruise to take our two Granddaughters on to see if they would like a longer cruise with us at a later date. Big mistake!! We have cruised with P&O before and had a great time but this was a disaster. The booking in ... Read More
We chose this short cruise to take our two Granddaughters on to see if they would like a longer cruise with us at a later date. Big mistake!! We have cruised with P&O before and had a great time but this was a disaster. The booking in was fine and the cabins were good but the stewards seemed a little confused! As we moved out from Southampton we became aware that we had booked on a 'booze cruise' with the number of Hen and Stag parties on board. The food in the restaurants for adults was fine but very restrictive for young teenagers.. Evening entertainments were good. We only had one stop at Guernsey but the following morning this was cancelled due to weather and the fact that we needed to transfere by tender. My granddaughters were so disappointed. Had we been informed that transfers were subject to weather we would have booked a different cruise where we would have had a definite berthing so they could enjoy the experience of 'going ashore' We were told by the Captain we would have an enjoyable day at sea. It may have been enjoyable for the parties that dominated the pools and hot tubs but for two young girls it was not. I am not a prude but I don't want them subjected to the language we heard. When we finally got into a hot tub just after 6pm it was littered with half eaten food and half empty plastic drink glasses.At this point the crew started to clear all the sun loungers away so we got out. I do not blame the crew for the mess, this was due some selfish passengers. Final point...dining..It was 'hunt the vacant table' time.We ordered drinks with our meals on three occasions and each time they arrived at the end of our meals.Due to the lack on empty tables it felt we were rushed to eat and leave but all of the catering staff. I know that these mini cruises are used to help train the staff but we paid a lot of money for this trip and were all looking forward to it but at the end both granddaughters said thanks but never again,which is a shame as my wife and I have had good cruises with P&O.If your going to take a mini cruise with P&O then be prepared..( I submitted a request to review the cruise with them and to complain but they still haven't replied to date)..We will continue cruising but not with P&O Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I was only aboard the Ventura for a weekend cruise - less than 40 hours. We were celebrating a birthday, and as such for us the trip was really more about making use of the ship's various, delightful-sounding bar and restaurant ... Read More
I was only aboard the Ventura for a weekend cruise - less than 40 hours. We were celebrating a birthday, and as such for us the trip was really more about making use of the ship's various, delightful-sounding bar and restaurant facilities. I would heartily recommend this ship for fans of queuing and waiting. If you're into those, you are in for a treat! Huge lines to get into restaurants - queuing all the way up the stairs to the next deck. Huge queues for the formal photographs. Queues are reception, as one person mans the desk and phones ring off the hook around them. Chaos, basically. A typical interaction with a member of the serving staff on board the Ventura might look something like this: You approach a bar, behind which are two or three people frantically preparing drinks. A waiter dashes up to you, to intercept your attempt to order at the bar. The waiter takes your order. Five minutes later, the waiter returns to take your cruise card. Around 10 minutes later, your drinks arrive. This might sound like an exaggeration, but at one point I waited 25 minutes for a coffee. In a deserted bar. The restaurants were no better - one person assigned to take drinks for a restaurant full with 100+ people. The wine waitress was so stressed and busy that at one point rather than topping up my wine, she just emptied the bottle into it. The fundamental problem seems to me that they were attempting to provide a silver service experience, with greasy-spoon levels of staff training. The food itself was fine, nothing special. The Beach House was absolutely not worth the additional supplements (a cover charge AND supplements on the food), particularly considering its decor and vibe - think school canteen. The ventura has the potential to be a great experience, and perhaps on longer cruises there are more staff laid on. But if this cruise had been any longer than two nights, I'd have found myself wanting to abandon ship halfway through. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Oh dear, It's been some years since my first cruise with P & O and what used to be a real luxury experience is now very disappointing. Ventura is tired and shabby and desperately in need of an up date. For quite a large ship ... Read More
Oh dear, It's been some years since my first cruise with P & O and what used to be a real luxury experience is now very disappointing. Ventura is tired and shabby and desperately in need of an up date. For quite a large ship it feels very claustrophobic, difficult to get a sun bed on sea days as all the decks are so crowded, the Waterfront restaurant feels like a hospital canteen, and the cabins are tiny. The best restaurants all have an additional charge and were excellent. Good food and great service, but avoid the "all inclusive" restaurants at all costs. Entertainment would be great at a holiday camp!! Although the kids club was very popular with my two and the staff there were great. Ports were a real mix of interesting (Madeira) and awful (La Palma). Expect lots of over weight tattooed passengers making the most of the all inclusive food options. Overall this holiday was a real hit and miss experience, some good and some bad . Would never cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We selected a short 6 night cruise to fit round my working commitments and chose the P & O Ventura. We chose to drive to Southampton from home in Lancashire and set off nice and early even though it was a Saturday sailing. Traffic ... Read More
We selected a short 6 night cruise to fit round my working commitments and chose the P & O Ventura. We chose to drive to Southampton from home in Lancashire and set off nice and early even though it was a Saturday sailing. Traffic and conditions were favourable so we had a great trip and with just slow traffic from about 10 miles out of Southampton but we arrived in the car park at 10.30am. A short walk and into the terminal to await the embarkation process which commenced just before 12 noon. Once on board we made our way to the buffet for a spot of lunch having had no breakfast with our early departure. Whilst in the buffet they announced that cabins were ready early so we made our way to deck 7 and D709, our home for the 6 nights. What an excellent cabin this is, larger than the average with a comfortable bed, sofa and a separate chair, two tv’s and an ample bathroom. We met Frank, our cabin steward who was excellent in the way he took care of everything brilliantly without being noticed at all. Once unpacked we decided to check out the ship and found it most pleasurable and almost a copy of Crown Princess that we had a week on a couple of years ago. The only downside was that as we had booked quite late we were allocated to a table of 8 on late seating in the Bay Tree Restaurant. When will P & O drop this outdated method of allocating restaurants and move to freedom dining for all passengers. We really prefer to be on a table for two but to be fair our table mates were good company on the nights we used the dining room. We had nice meals in the Bay Tree, not special but more than quite adequate but I would prefer the food hotter. We ate in Sindu on the Sunday as a treat for my wife’s birthday and it was excellent. We also had one night in the buffet having arrived back quite late from our day in Bilbao and the Beach House on the last night and all were good. Breakfasts were always taken in the buffet and were of good standard. We sailed later than advertised due to some passengers struggling with traffic on the M3 and I heard later at least one couple might have actually have missed it and only caught us up in La Rochelle. We had a nice sea day on the Sunday and of course as it was one of the hottest days of the year so it was busy on the outer decks with everyone taking advantage. We availed ourselves of most bars over the cruise but as we are not big drinkers so it was more for a change of scenery than anything else. We enjoyed the three production shows that the Headliners cast put on and all were enjoyable, Gareth Oliver was a great act and his comedy and ventriloquism were first class. In other lounges the Up Beats were very good and the Tribute act to Whitney Houston was fantastic. We enjoyed all port stops and also the warm weather. We don’t book ship trips but made our own way without spending silly money. We enjoyed all ports on this trip with La Rochelle being small but interesting and a nice place to walk round. Our second stop was scheduled to be Santander but our excellent captain chose to move the stop to Bilbao about 30 miles away. This was a wonderful exchange with Bilbao being a great city for a day stop. We got off the coach and with the help of the lady tour guide who pointed us to a walking tour around the main sites and we had a great visit. We went back to the ship for something to eat and a rest but as we had a late sail we then ventured out in around the promenade of Getexo to Vizcaya Bridge. This is a great historical site and info as to why, when and how the bridge was constructed. The view from the bridge is spectacular with the sea on one side, Portugalete on the other side and Getxo on another side. The visit to St Peter Port was really good, having never visited to the Channel Islands before. It’s a nice town and we walked round it and then after a bit of local info in a shop we took the lock bus that was just £1 each and took us round the whole island on an hour and a half trip. This just could not be repeated anywhere at that price. You could get off and have a look round or visit any of the great beaches and then get back on a later bus. The night sail back to Southampton was punctuated by a PA message for “flying stations” and then shortly afterwards a helicopter arriving, one assumes to remove a medical emergency, possibly lucky we were so close to Southampton for the unlucky person being airlifted off. Disembarkation was first class, we chose to take our own luggage off and literally had breakfast and walked off the ship, no customs issues or waiting in lounges for times to leave and we were in the car hitting the road back North. We will definitely book with P & O again for another short break cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Decided to have a week away and spend some quality time with Dad. My partner and I in one cabin, My Sister and Brother-in-law in the second cabin and our Dad as a single passenger in the third cabin. Our cabin was tended to efficiently by ... Read More
Decided to have a week away and spend some quality time with Dad. My partner and I in one cabin, My Sister and Brother-in-law in the second cabin and our Dad as a single passenger in the third cabin. Our cabin was tended to efficiently by the room Steward, no complaints there. Food overall was very good especially the fine dining we found was delicious . Entertainment was very enjoyable. Overall not much to complain about except the service in some of the bars by several waiters, There was never a problem getting a drink but experienced a number of errors in the orders which was sent back and amended. very frustrating, Even though the staff write the order down mistakes were made often all through the week. Our bonus of the week was definitely the weather. Sailed from Southampton in the sunshine which continued to shine the rest of the week. There was a day when it seemed quite blustery and the pools were netted off but there are many nooks to take advantage of to find a little sun trap. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We had heard really positive things about P&O, and so chose them to be our first cruise. We selected a mini cruise of four nights to give us a chance to explore the ship. Before sailing we read some reviews and forums here and were ... Read More
We had heard really positive things about P&O, and so chose them to be our first cruise. We selected a mini cruise of four nights to give us a chance to explore the ship. Before sailing we read some reviews and forums here and were expecting things to perhaps look a little worn, and that a cruise during half term plus it being short that it might be a little rowdier than normal. We were thrilled with embarkation- we arrived early due to travel arrangements, and were prepared to wait until our time slot - the free magazines were a bonus. We were called to check in before our time slot and were on the boat 90minutes earlier than expected. Our cabin was on deck 9, and was a good size (Sup Deluxe Balc) . It looked a little tired as expected, and the sofa bed was certainly worse for wear and wasn't that comfy to sit on due to the slope of the seat cushions. There was a very chilled bottle of champagne waiting for us with chocolates, which was nice to see and a feature of our cabin grade. The sofa bed had a faulty spring, and still was not fixed at the end of our four night cruise, meaning our son slept on a bed on an angle. This wasn't great and I was surprised at the apparent lack of concern over this. The bathroom was a good size, but smelt rather stale. Our first meal was at the Beach House buffet, this wasn't great. It was a real scrum. The food was average, but felt more like an experience at a motorway service area than the cruise experience we were led to believe we would have. That evening we went to cinnamon as we had freedom dining. There was a wait for tables, and we said we would share. That was a mistake not to be repeated. We were put on a table with a party of five. They didn't interact with us at all, ordered multiple dishes at every course, and the gentleman seated to my side took my cutlery to use, leaving me with just some forks. I had to ask for ,ore cutlery and the waiter serving tutted. It wasn't the best experience. Overall the food in the Freedom dining restaurants was good, and nicely presented although brought out far too fast - which meant that as a slow eater, some of our meals were not that hot as they were sat on the side whilst I finished my starter. Food in the buffet restaurants was not so nice, often lukewarm at best and poorly presented, name cards for a lot of items were missing. Service was a real mix. Sometimes it was excellent and really friendly whilst at other times it felt like we were being treated with disdain. We often had to ask for water and bread rolls. The final evening we were given just one menu to share between us, with no apology given. Entertainment and facilities were good, the information about ports was good. Our cabin steward was lovely and friendly, and concerned we weren't eating enough. Would we go again? Well we had already booked another cruise before this one, so you could say yes, although given our experience I'm not sure I'd go with P&O again, and am tempted to ring them to see about cancelling the next cruise and switching to another cruise line. Read Less
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
Sail Date February 2017
Where to start?A booking of Four which included two frail passengers needing two nearby cabin,s placed fifty cabins apart? .I know that because I counted them every morning. They said we had got a special price and couldn't choose ... Read More
Where to start?A booking of Four which included two frail passengers needing two nearby cabin,s placed fifty cabins apart? .I know that because I counted them every morning. They said we had got a special price and couldn't choose but with the state of our health a bit of flexibility would not have gone amiss. We have travelled with most cruise lines and never had any trouble. Forty pounds for a shampoo and blow? Did I take it? No.Fifteen pounds for a book of bingo tickets? Did I play? No. Hair dryers with pins that wouldn't fit into the socket? Could we use them? No. Barely a morning in Gibraltar which we had so looked forward to visiting? Didn't even get as far as Marks and Spencers. On the plus side the cabin staff and catering staff were great. Maybe they should let them run the ship. Would I take a cruise with P and O again? No. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise as an 'initial' taster for our friends (2 couples) who had not cruised since us three 'boys' had served in the Royal Navy together in the late 70's. My wife and I have previously cruised three ... Read More
We chose this cruise as an 'initial' taster for our friends (2 couples) who had not cruised since us three 'boys' had served in the Royal Navy together in the late 70's. My wife and I have previously cruised three times, Island (Star/Escape) and Cunard (Queen Elizabeth). We were unsure what to expect on this occasion as all the reading/research we had carried out was 'on how big the ship was'. Yes, Venturer is big and yes, there are a lot of people and yes, there were 722 children onboard for our trip to the Iberian coast, but the ships timings (shows, meals, all round entertainment) was so well managed we soon found our way aroun, we never really became aware of large crowds and we were never aware of the large amount number of children. So to start, our embarkation went so smoothly, within twenty minutes from dropping off our bags, walking into the hall, presenting our passports, filling in the health sheet, having our photographs taken for the on board I.D. And proceeding through security we were on board Venturer. Plenty of staff directing us to our cabins, so within thirty minutes we were in our cabin (R748) a very well appointed cabin with a window to the rear of the ship, great view. Departing Southampton happened so quickly, thinking back we actually don't remember leaving port and we were all sat down, suited and booted for our evening meal Food - on the 6.30 sitting in the Bay Tree sat as a table of six (49) with two waiters Jamson and Sudesh looking after our every need. The meals were 4/5 courses, and were placed in front of us as very much 'pictures on a plate' none of the six of us like waste, good job we cleared our plates at every sitting. The food was well cooked, different choices every night and a menus to delight every taste and choice, the offer of portion size was available but we never took advantage as the plate sizes were sufficient. Entertainment - The 8.30 show was our sitting, and we were not disappointed, the 'house' entertainers were very professional, the shows ensured the audience were both entertained and were fully involved within the show, singing along, joining in, clapping etc. We also had a comedian (John Martin) who it was a delight to hear, both funny and up to date, he also didn't have to swear to get a cheap laugh. We were also entertained by 'Showmaddymaddy' on night four, obviously a tribute band but so funny and musical, we decided to see them again at the later show. The highlighters appeared every other night, very slick, very musical and gave their rendition of current musicals, our favourite on the night being 'Wicked'. On the sixth night we sat through 'Badness' (spoiler alert, previously Showmaddymaddy) who on this occasion were, guess..... Yes Madness, brilliant group and superb audience participation. Everyone to their own, we also sat through a show at midnight with a comedian called Josh Daniels, his midnight appearance supposed to be adult humour cos the children would be in bed! Well I remember he swore a lot, modern humour, swear and the audience laugh, not for us I'm afraid. Two really good singers had sets, Kurtis Ray White and Paul Emmanuel who was really very good, especially when covering Nat King Cole. Visits ashore - Vigo, was our first stop, along side we went ashore and was convinced to use the coach trip with an independent company called 'tours4cruisers' a very professional and especially knowledgable tour guide and very good driver. We made three stops and all the experts were able to point us all in the Right Direction Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
After 25 or so cruises mainly on RCI , NCL and Celebrity. This was our first P & O cruise. We chose the cruise because we were taking our 8 year old grandson on holiday and the dates fitted with other family commitments. I ... Read More
After 25 or so cruises mainly on RCI , NCL and Celebrity. This was our first P & O cruise. We chose the cruise because we were taking our 8 year old grandson on holiday and the dates fitted with other family commitments. I initially wasn't best pleased to find that we would be allocated a check in time and was unable to arrived at a time to suit our commitments and on departures day. However we were allocated 1300 and arrived at 1210 and were processed almost immediately, so that gripe was soon over and forgotten. I'm not sure I would have been so forgiving if we had been allocated 1500 and found ourselves with 3 hours to kill after having to check out of the Premier Inn Southampton at 1200. Ventura is a very nice ship, well kept and cared for, with some very pleasant public areas to suit all tastes ,we particularly like a quiet drink in the evening and are not big on entertainment so were very happy to find some nice quiet bars with background music. Our cabin was an outside cabin on deck 5 and I have to praise P & O and on its unique design with a large walk in wardrobe area cleverly separated from the main sleeping area . It was kept spotless by our cabin attendant, who each night lowered the overhead bunk to accommodate our Grandson. The food was, in the main very good and plentiful. Every evenings we ate early in the main dining room which allowed us to have a drink after dinner, whilst our grandson was entertained at the Children's Club. Our waiters in the MDR were excellent, probably some of the best we have experienced , they catered for our grandson from the children's menu, always finding him an extra treat at the end of each meal . The Children's Club and its staff just surpassed all expectations there were events and activities for all ages and our grandson just loved it. There are just a couple of adverse comments I have to make, firstly, apart from our waiters in the MDR and our cabin attendant who dealt with us personally, other staff just didn't seem happy, bar waiters just waited and if you passed housekeeping staff in corridors there was no smile or good morning, afternoon or whatever , however they all did their job and we were certainly not looking for friends for life but a little more interaction would do wonders from a customer service point of view , possibly we've just been used to better interaction on other cruise lines. Secondly there seemed to be times, especially during the daytime where there was little of no staff, especially in outdoor public areas, again not a huge problem as I'm not adverse to going to the bar to buy a drink but even then there was quite a wait to get served. Maybe these two points are relative to each other and P & O need to rethink their staffing strategies. One thing I don't normally relish are Formal Evenings, after 25 cruises they just seem to have lost their magic, which is one reason we particularly like NCL. However I bit the bullet took my black suit and actually enjoyed the Formal Evenings and it was good to see that P & O did their best to enforce the dress code where applicable, two formal nights on a 7 Night cruise was however quite enough for me. We didn't use any of the speciality restaurants, we very rarely bother with them unless they are so desperate for custom and offer discounts to get you through the door. We don't buy photographs as we have a perfectly good camera of our own , the nice thing about P & O was that staff weren't constantly in you face trying to sell speciality restaurants and a polite, "no" to the photographers and they went away. Prices on board were , we felt acceptable and certainly comparable to most four star European hotel or resort on land and 18% was not automatically added for a tip. We are not at all adverse to paying gratuities and prefer them to added our final cruise bill thereby prepaying before departure. However this facility is not available on P & O so a very reasonable £37.50 pp gratuity was added to our on board account and we certainly didn't feel the need to remove it and the good thing on P & O is that this was only payable by adult passenger One event that impressed us was the Sail Away parties held on departure from every port, these were amazing the entertainment staff worked hard to ensure their success and it certainly worked, well done P & O on that score. Overall a very nice cruise and we will certainly consider using P & O again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My brother, sister in law and myself took our mum on this cruise for her 80th birthday. We visited Amsterdam and Zebrugge. The cruise ship has zero wow factor. The buffet dining area is similar to that of a 2/ 3* hotel. The waiter service ... Read More
My brother, sister in law and myself took our mum on this cruise for her 80th birthday. We visited Amsterdam and Zebrugge. The cruise ship has zero wow factor. The buffet dining area is similar to that of a 2/ 3* hotel. The waiter service in the main restaurant is also poor. Staff were miserable and unwelcoming, everything seemed too much effort. After 15 minutes on one morning, we had to get up and ask for some tea and a menu as nobody had been to our table. One evening, we were told that we would have a 30-40 minute wait to be seated and told we could go and wait in a bar with a pager, not easy when mum has mobility problems. The food was, at best, ok. The ship was cold, I mean cold,with everybody walking around inside with either fleece tops or coats. Even in the spa, when I asked if the room could be made warmer, I was told that many people had already complained but nothing could be done as the temperature was controlled by the bridge. Not great when having a full body massage. The staff at the spa however were excellent. The daytime programme was dire, with very little to do. On a plus note, the evening entertainment was very good every evening with an excellent comedian on 2 nights. The cabin, a twin inside, was very comfortable with plenty of room. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We arrived at the Mayflower terminal at the allocated time, but there was a very long queue to leave car.Eventually after 1 hour of waiting we left our car to be parked by CPS. Checked in and boarded immediately and went straight to our ... Read More
We arrived at the Mayflower terminal at the allocated time, but there was a very long queue to leave car.Eventually after 1 hour of waiting we left our car to be parked by CPS. Checked in and boarded immediately and went straight to our cabin B756 Aft with very large balcony. Overall my impressions are that Ventura is looking a bit tired even though she had a refit in April 2013. Bed was comfortable but pillows too thin, bathroom ok again a bit tired looking and stained including the shower curtain. Towels must have been there sinc she was first in service because they were always thin and rough and need replacing. Balcony glass on the inside was very dirty ? sand/rain from the Canaries but hadnt been cleaned. All these things I kept my eye out for the steward but only saw him once ! We were allocated Freedom dining for the first time in 6 cruises but it was ok met lots of people to talk over dinner with,service and food was ok but not amazing and had to wait for wine/water/rolls /order to be taken at times. Beach house was very good for a supplement but failed to get into Glass House or Sindhu as hadnt booked and it was full with 1.5 hr waits at lunchtime on the enforced sea days. Trip to Brugges was "Brugges at your own pace" a P&O excursion, but having dropped us off the coach we had to walk into the town through a park, well I cant walk very fast and use a stick as I have a bad back and 2 bad knees, and the guide just frogmarched us off and I couldnt keep up , particularly on the way back at the end, i was the last person to get to the coach and they were all waiting for me! Very embarrassing!! Also there was another lady with a walking stick like me, and she just disappeared so dont know where she went! Probably gave up and got taxi back!! Unfortunately due to the wind we were unable to dock in Amsterdam for New Years, very disappointing especially as the Q Victoria was already docked there. Couldnt be helped I know but we were not offerred anything as a recompence,eg, free wifi or a glass of champagne to celebrate! We spent the next two days at sea coasting down the English Channel at 5 knots, where P&O will have made a lot more money out of us due to 2 sea days and we docked at midnight in Southampton. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We stayed on the Ventura so just thought I would write a review since we were massively impressed with our first time cruising, so here are some tips: When it comes to Gratuities(Tips) you automatically pay a fee a day, we took this ... Read More
We stayed on the Ventura so just thought I would write a review since we were massively impressed with our first time cruising, so here are some tips: When it comes to Gratuities(Tips) you automatically pay a fee a day, we took this off, you just go to the reception and ask to have them removed, that way you can tip who you want to tip throughout your cruise, we did this and ended up tipping more but that way we knew the staff got them. When you arrive go straight to the Waterside Café or Beachside all on deck 15 as you can have food straight away, especially if you had been waiting a long time to Embark. The restaurants that are inclusive are Cinnamon and Safron, they serve the exact same menu and is inclusive of your all inclusive cruise. Could not fault the food at all! They serve Breakfast at Saffron and Cinnamon, then a buffet breakfast in waterside so you can help yourself. Then at dinner it is a 3 course meal and tea it is a 5 course meal. Forgot to mention the hot pizzas and afternoon tea in the waterside. Shows were fab and you don't need to book, they run twice in one evening. The maids are spot on, ours did our room 3 times a day, they constantly check for dirty towels. Overall it was amazing, going on my honeymoon in 5 months, were trying the Oasis of the Seas, Royal Carribean! AMAZING! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This short break was to accompany friends trying a first cruise. 5 days was long enough to get a feel for cruising - and to avoid the stag/hen parties on short breaks. Ventura was well presented, well maintained and with good service ... Read More
This short break was to accompany friends trying a first cruise. 5 days was long enough to get a feel for cruising - and to avoid the stag/hen parties on short breaks. Ventura was well presented, well maintained and with good service throughout. However, it is a large ship and could begin to feel crowded inside when the weather was poor. Embarkation was well organised - arriving at the dock gates to settling down to lunch took about one hour. The superior deluxe balcony cabin we had booked gave plenty of space to sit inside and was just adequate for four to share the balcony when the sun shone. Amsterdam was interesting for a first visit. We took an organised tour. The ship moors in a sufficiently central location for a walk into the city centre. The best way to see Amsterdam seems to be by water. We would spend more time on the canals if visiting again. To spread visits to Amsterdam and Guernsey across five days means that travel speeds are necessarily slow. There were two sea days and the weather was disappointingly cool and cloudy on these days. There was sufficient to keep ourselves occupied, but there was less invested in these days than has been our experience on previous, longer cruises. Guernsey required a trip ashore by tender. We enjoyed the time in St Peter Port, visiting Castle Cornet. Guernsey is now on our list of places to spend a little more time in order to see more of the island. We found the service on Ventura to be very good. Cabin, waiting and bar staff were friendly and would happily engage with you if you took the time to speak with them. Food was good if not exceptional. Our experience was that the Glass House offered a great option at a small price supplement, although the service here was slow. We didn't try the more expensive specialist restaurants. Having spent some time on Azura recently I found myself making comparisons between these two sister ships. The layout is essentially the same, with primary differences being the sea screen on Azura and the cover over one pool on Ventura. Decor was different, such that it was clear we were on a different ship. The captain and bridge crew on Azura brought far more homour - and more information - to their messages about where we were, what was going on, how things worked and what to expect of the weather. At first, I thought that the entertainment team on Azura had the edge, but there is probably little to choose - both were good. The cabin and waiting staff were friendly on both ships - but the experience felt different - perhaps Ventura had the edge. This short break attracted a wider age spectrum than we had experienced on longer cruises with P&O. However, there was still a pre-dominance of over 60s. This, together with the very British feel of the ship, clearly influences menu options and also the shows that are presented. There were moments where the shows seemed to be wallowing in nostalgia whilst failing to recognise that those of us alive in the 1960s have also experienced the 70s, 80s, 90s - and even the 21st Century! As a 60 year old I sometimes felt I wasn't old enough yet for P&O. There were no significant disappointments on this cruise - with the possible exception of the weather, which was better at home! If there is one thing I would want to improve then it would be the photo service which is still print based at a time when many of us may prefer a digital option. I don't want photos to frame but would be pleased to pay for some digital photos to include in a digital photo frame or to add to my own pictures in a photobook. This is an area where I consider P&O need to find their way into the 21st Century. Disembarkation at Southampton was the smoothest we have experienced. We left our cabin at 8.00 and were in the car driving home within 40 minutes. Our experience was that this was well organised and smoothly managed. Overall, five days was long enough to make a real break and, at getaway fares, was great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
First of all for the price I payed I cannot really complain, but in just 4 short days i'm not overly impressed with P&O.The good bits - the ship is spotless the cabins and beds fantastic room maid brilliant, food in main ... Read More
First of all for the price I payed I cannot really complain, but in just 4 short days i'm not overly impressed with P&O.The good bits - the ship is spotless the cabins and beds fantastic room maid brilliant, food in main restaurants.The not so good - entertainment (pub & club standard) & timings of shows.The really poor bits - Buffet restaurant quality, pools & spa pools.Let me elaborate on my mini cruise to Brugge & St Peter port on Ventura, check in very good & well organised our room was spotless, we had a quick walk round the ship and soon found ourselves completely lost now your thinking well it's a big ship! wrong it's the smallest we have been on the deck and room numbers don't work shouldn't a room on deck 8 be say 8204 not E204 you get in a lift you don't know where you are going, then you have to map out your journey from one end of ship to the other unlike the independence you can walk from one end to other without changing deck any deck!There should be little signs outside lifts should tell you where you are forward, back, left right etc everyone had a little map it was quite funny watching everybody who was lost!Anyway the food in main restaurants was very good with good service, drinks service a little slower we ended up taking drinks in with us saved the long wait (starters finished & main course started before drinks came).Now the not so good entertainment was not the standard of RCI if you have been on RCI you will know what I mean. If your on 8:30 dining you only get the one show there was six shows on different locations all doing 8:30 and 10:30 starts so when you finished dining you had to make a choice of what you wanted to see we just went to the Arena after seeing some of the acts they were ok just not my cup of tea, the volume level seemed to drown out there ability!Now the bad all but two pools and one spa pool were shut even my lads said it was chaos and didn't go in with the weather fantastic at sea this was really poor and a few people were griping about it.The buffet restaurant choice and quality wasn't very good in fact it was poor again RCI do it miles, miles better, I had a curry at lunch time one day it was by far the worse curry i've ever had period.On the plus side when it shut for lunch and opened for afternoon tea this was miles better and was a pleasure, so we just did this.Tips for excursions on this tripZeebrugge - Get the free transfer bus to train station get the train one every hour staff will tell you the times about 6.50 euros return each then taxi to Brugge town square 7 euros each way go and go early in morning and get a full day.St Peter port - Get up early for the tenders because by 10:30 its manic and get either a taxi or bus from the bus station its 10 min walk along the front to where your going. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I booked this mini cruise online because of the fantastic price, after a colleague at work highly recommended Ventura and P&O I took my family, my mother and one of my sons mates with us, we had fantastic weather very smooth travel the ... Read More
I booked this mini cruise online because of the fantastic price, after a colleague at work highly recommended Ventura and P&O I took my family, my mother and one of my sons mates with us, we had fantastic weather very smooth travel the boat didn't move, Brugge was lovely and St Peter port nice for the time we had! Apart from that the rest was a little disappointing food in restaurant good but only warm the buffet house was very poor standard and not much choice, (compared to RCI it was really poor!) On the plus side breakfast was great in the restaurants. With only two pools and one whirlpool open they were mobbed by kids, not a problem they are entitled to a holiday as well, but had they got the other pools and splash pools open it may have eased the congestion, my mother was very disappointed not to get in a whirlpool, we sent her to the new oasis spa but that pool was shut so she came away. The entertainment was another bug bear of mine it was very loud maybe this drowned out the poor quality of the acts. Apart from the Take That tribute band who were good the rest were club standard again RCI seem to have quality musicians onboard. Getting off at Brugge was good a free courtesy bus to the train station with a local tour rep telling train times this was a good touch and a massive plus. (taxi from train station to centre square 7 euros) Getting off the ship at St Peter port all I will say is 'get up early'!! Disembarkation just like every other ship chaos!!Would I sail with P&O again....... only if I pay the same price I don't think I would ever pay their full brochure price.Ps :- Room P204 was very good, the room maid fantastic and when docking the ropes and anchor act as a great alarm clock so dont pack one! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We went with 3 generations as I suspect did many families on this cruise - ages from 65 to 8. We left our car at the port as usual and although we arrived 5 minutes before our boarding time were faced with huge queues to board, in the end ... Read More
We went with 3 generations as I suspect did many families on this cruise - ages from 65 to 8. We left our car at the port as usual and although we arrived 5 minutes before our boarding time were faced with huge queues to board, in the end we got our paper work done and just sat and waited for the lines of standing passengers to clear and then when there were only 8 or 10 left joined in - we were last on the boat but at least we didn't stand for 50 minutes in line The cabins (Deluxe Balcony) were the best part of the entire cruise, I highly recommend them, large with big sitting area and nice balcony, steward wonderful. We set sail and were standing by the swimming pool near the pizza parlour as we progressed up the Solent when the ship lurched to the left and a huge amount of water slopped out of the side of the pool and ran down the deck, we later discovered in ran into the buffet area and as the carpet was so wet that part of the buffet had to be closed off - which resulted in more queues as people had nowhere to sit - we were told later it was a problem with the ballast tanks. The weather was appalling - force 10 winds, very high seas - we were OK but the younger generations were not, so their first day at sea was spent lying down. We wandered about the ship, we last sailed on the Ventura in 2010 and I really think standards have slipped in that time - cost cutting I presume, if you wanted a coffee or whatever you sat down and eventually a steward would take your order and card and then disappear or just prop themselves up against the nearest bar and chat, one coffee order took nearly 45 minutes to arrive, completely unacceptable. They had your card so you were stuck. The first port was Vigo, we had a good walk round and found the people to be really charming and friendly. Lisbon is very rundown we hopped on the tourist bus and had a good city tour, there are some beautiful places there but it does need a coat of paint, the recession has hit Iberia very hard We never made Oporto as the weather was too poor to get into the harbour, so a rather boring sea day, looking round there were a lot of long faces. My daughter in Law checked out the craft session where the "very reasonably priced" supplies to make the bracelet cost an astonishing 25, for a thin strip of leather and a couple of beads, she teaches craft in the UK and was appalled saying it was such a rip off. La Corunna was very nice, probably the best port of all. We took Freedom Dining which was not a success, we queued for every meal we had from breakfast to Dinner, although for dinner you are given a bleeper which tells you when your table is ready - normally 30 to 40 minutes. The food was good but not exceptionable - we ate one evening in the restaurant that was formerly called East in 2010 the meal we had there was superb none of the best fusion meals I have ever eaten how it is called Atol Kochar I think and was disappointing alas, The afternoon tea queues were huge enough to put you off waiting. The Buffet areas were clean and the food looked fairly appetizing but as half of the place was out of action it was very slow there and often not possible to find a seat, if only people who have finished moved on it would help but many don't and seem to sit there for hours so they can get a free cup of tea when they want. Anyways we go on cruises to be pampered not to do self service and get shoved about in a queue As to entertainment they had a very good Johnny Cash Tribute who was excellent at one end and that ran through to the other to a supposed comedian - who was truly awful and embarrassing to watch struggle. The grandchildren didn't use the clubs much, they preferred to swim and play games with their parents. They did enjoy themselves though and can't wait to go on another cruise - they are besotted by Room Service!! Service in the public rooms was slow and at times reluctant, the meal service was at times so fast that the waiter would try to whip your plate away before you had finished. Room service was a bit hit and miss, timings are not now what they were. Only the cabin steward was marvellous nothing was too much trouble, he soothed sea sick children with a practiced hand, well done him All in all if you don't mind the rather holiday camp atmosphere, the queuing and waiting for things then go P&O but I will not cruise with them again, I found it to have been a very disappointing week of my life, we usually cruise with Cunard and the gap between them & P&O is widening. We have had a week on a Cunard ship since April and it was just superb, very, very few queues everything just as it ought to be - if only P&O could do the same Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
A packed Ventura set sail on 7 April 2013 for an Easter holiday cruise down to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and La Coruna. Myself and two teenagers were in inside cabin C248- a perfectly acceptable cabin with no noise issues. The first night and ... Read More
A packed Ventura set sail on 7 April 2013 for an Easter holiday cruise down to Vigo, Lisbon, Oporto and La Coruna. Myself and two teenagers were in inside cabin C248- a perfectly acceptable cabin with no noise issues. The first night and day was marred by a force ten down the English channel and Bay of Biscay. Daughter was ill and loads of people wandering around clutching Ventura medical Centre invoices. Vigo- well a forgettable port. Just glad to get off. Go up the road by the tourist information Office and turn right for literally two minutes to find (left)the most packed mini market shop selling all goods in the suface area of a shoe box. Stocked up on Don Simon wine cartons at 1.45 euros each to put in the cabin fridge! Also cake thingys which would come in useful throughout. Next stop, Lisbon. Lisbon is hideous. Clearly the only industry thriving is that manufacturing paint spray cans. Crumbling and graffitied it is a sorry sight.Stayed 20 minutes. Into yet another area of low pressure heading north, the Captain had to throw away Oporto and we had to endure another rather boring day onboard, tempered only when the sun came out late afternoon. La Corunna was a nice surprise. Clean, well maintained and upmarket. Great British Sailaway- hmmm, I'm patriotic but is this bordering on the jingoistic? We were on freedom dining in Cinnamon- nice crew and reasonable food- I cannot say the food blew me away to be honest. This ship cannot cope on sea days with the breakfast bun fight. Two room service orders to overcome this were "lost" with no apology offered. Kids club good- although a few individuals a bit snooty. Casino was fun. Didn't sample any of the shows. Weather ruined the whole thing- not P and O's fault. Would not sail from Southampton again. Three out of three cruises in the past 12 months were ruined/altered due to the weather conditions. Hey ho. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Arrived at Ocean Terminal just after 11.30 and was given a lettered ticket for check-in (previously been used to been given a card after checkin but I'm sure the numbers we are talking about for Ventura explains the difference. Most ... Read More
Arrived at Ocean Terminal just after 11.30 and was given a lettered ticket for check-in (previously been used to been given a card after checkin but I'm sure the numbers we are talking about for Ventura explains the difference. Most people looked like me in the terminal i.e. excited and with a daft "expectant holiday" grin but there is always a percentage of people with the expression like the Queen watching the Olympics. Why is that? You're going on a cruise!!Anyway, check-in was a breeze and we were through that and security within 20 minutes. We were directed straight to Waterside Buffet ( I was going there anyway!)Greeting staff were all very smiley. I was very impressed the quality and variety of the buffet throughout the cruise much better than on Oriana and Oceana in my (more recent) other experience of P&O in my opinion. I can see what people mean about the congestion for the various stations at the buffet which is partly due to the "angled" nature of the different parts but also down to people "zig-zagging" backwards and forwards when they either have forgotten things or have spotted something appetising on someone else's plate(the gastronomic equivalent of the grass being greener).When particular a logjam was being created by a zig-zagger who was elbowing a member of staff out of the way I commented to the crew member you have to be slim to work here he returned a knowing look... Anyway, for the record, I had stir fried chilli prawns which were excellent a small piece of salmon (bit dry and overcooked) lamb dopiaza which was very tasty and succulent, followed by a cream horn which was also very good. Securing a seat was always a challenge and we usually carried our food into the Beachouse part. Both the log jam stations and seating are something P&O should consider addressing at the impending refit in my view. We then had a bit of a potter around the open decks and went for a swim in the Beachcomber Pool with my daughter whilst my wife enjoyed a spot on a sun lounger. The roof was open for the entire cruise apart from the last night and disembarkation morning a testimony to the beautiful weather we were fortunate to have. Felt sorry for the children whose parents either didn't know or had forgotten to pack swimwear in carry on luggage.However, I can't be too smug as I'd forgotten to pack towels as of course the blue pool towels now reside in your cabin. So I snuck down to the cabin feeling a bit like a naughty schoolboy as the all clear was yet to be sounded and grabbed a couple of towels and had a sneak preview of the JF grade balcony cabin on B deck aft, first impressions were good and i was able to put our 2 cases in the cabin as they were already there. Had lovely swim followed by a dry off on the loungers and a first drink. By then, there were plenty of loungers as most people stampeded when the announcement of your cabins are ready but we took our time .Met our cabin steward Santance who was very quiet but polite and smiley and very efficient and made a point of remembering our names every time he greeted us which I always think is nice. Had longer inspection of the cabin (I can never call it a stateroom although the word cabin does still remind me most of an incredibly pokey 4 berth cabin on Canberra). My wife was particularly impressed with the walk-in wardrobe which was a useful feature but I didn't get quite so excited..Liked the (pretty compact) balcony although was quite surprised that much of the varnish of the balcony rail was on the missing list. Bathroom I would describe as compact in fact exactly the same size as an inside cabin on Oceana which was a bit of a surprise. My daughter's bunk hadn't been pulled down but as in the other days it appeared at night time turn down .It did have a special duvet but despite being assured by P&O beforehand that all children received a welcome balloon and jelly sweets neither appeared although we did notice numerous children on the last day with balloons. Then off to lifeboat drill which didn't seem as crowded as Oriana last year and it appeared to be taken more seriously (people were more attentive) perhaps a symptom of recent events. After sail away ( a lovely member of staff took a photo of the 3 of us ) we decided to give the Beachouse a try. We really enjoyed the experience had a lovely table with a sea view. I had French Onion Soup with cheese crouton, The sizzler combo and apple crumble. The first 2 courses were excellent the third just ok. We formed the impression that waiters here were being tried out to see if they were up to main dining room standard and service here was patchy, but the food I thought was very good. We then fancied both the Soul tribute in the Arena and Fogwell Flax but plumped for Fogwell. We found him very funny his impressions were good and gags appropriate for a mixed audience.Liked his Ventura walk gag which whilst mainly visual gave the impression most have which is you are never quite sure which way you are going not helped by the numerous dead ends. We had 2 lovely cocktails raspberry crème brulee and gin and sherry cobbler served with a smile which always helps. Liked Havana as a venue- nice decor. So to bed -tired but happy. Slept ok but beds quite small(I'm tall but not all that wide but wider than I was!) and not all that comfy in my view compared to Oriana last year. Day 2-Zeebrugge.Went to Bruges last year from Oriana so had already decided to just go into Blankenberge so had leisurely breakfast at buffet. I was impressed with range of choice hot & cold options. Always found the fresh fruit to be delicious and at right stage of ripeness in particular the melon and pineapple. There was then an announcement about 10.30 I think saying that there was a long wait for shuttle buses so perhaps people might consider delaying their departure. We had a quick look over the side and it didn't seem too bad so we went off anyway. We waited less than 10 minutes. Weather was scorchio! We went into Blankenberge which is a popular seaside resort with Belgians, it was packed! We had a look around the shops, some fascinating cake and chocolate shops and followed the throng to the seafront. The beach is ok nothing spectacular but we went into the Serpetarium (snakes spiders etc) which was reasonably priced and well set out. We had a nice picnic on the seafront and then a stroll on the Pier and had a Belgian Beer (it would be rude not to) at the cafe at the end of the pier. Then we went back on the shuttle to return to Ventura. Our daughter now being 10 had said she wasn't going to the kids club, but a note had been left offering the chance to pick up a free gift between 6 and 7 in the Peninsula room. She was seduced by this and received a nice "Reef" holdall. The staff then "sold" the club in a gentle way pointing out the benefits and doing the "I know you're 10 but going round with Mum and Dad all day must get boring give us a chance" .It worked as she asked to go back to have a look after dinner and went every night after that. Some people have mentioned that there are no cocktail parties for cruises of less than 7 nights but whilst that is true of 2 nighters, I am happy to confirm we did have a "reception" party in the Atrium with free drinkies. We timed our escape just before everyone else to sample Cinnamon freedom dining. The Food was excellent and the service was good too. I had Mushroom and white wine soup(one of the nicest soups I've ever had),Glazed Duck which was nice(portion a bit small but then I'm greedy) and Fresh Strawberries with Whipped Cream, Toasted Flaked Almonds and a Warm Chocolate Biscuit which was lovely, followed by good cheese board. The wine waiter appeared promptly and we had a nice bottle of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo. My daughter then went off to the kids club and was introduced to the other kids, we kept coming back to check on her and were told to go away (you are cramping my style). We had a drink in Metropolis and enjoyed the views (and the cocktails). As a change of scene we also tried Ramblas, we loved the decor and atmosphere in there and had a glass of red propping up the bar .I do hope the rumours of Ramblas possibly being replaced during the refit are unfounded as we loved it. Day3-Le Havre Had a huge buffet breakfast(as usual) today the Beachouse server part was open previously only used for seating at breakfast ,expect that was because the venue just got busier and busier. Had a quick look at Terrace Pool my daughter keen to try this later as Laguna and Beachcomber were very packed the previous day. Took shuttle into centre and had a mooch around the Hotel De Ville nice gardens and fountains. Planned to get shuttle back to 2nd stopoff-Docks Verdon (big out of town shopping centre)but jumped a taxi instead very pleasant taxi driver who seemed pleased to have English passengers, his English was excellent(far better than my French).My Daughter headed for what appeared to be the French rival to Toys r Us La Grande Recre which stocked some Monster High items(her latest great interest) that are not available in the Uk and therefore will afford her some bragging rights back home.The centre was like many out of town centres although built in an old dock area the exterior of the building had more charm than usual and it was nice and cool on a very hot day. We had a lovely sandwich and cake from a Boulangerie although my daughter insisted on having hers from Subway(sigh) We then returned onboard for a swim in the Terrace Pool and a pleasant dry off in the sun on the wooden stepped area, whilst having afternoon tea from the buffet(jam and cream scones-my idea of heaven, cheese & pineapple toastie-yum and duck and hoi sin wrap-also yum) and drinking "mocktails"-Bananberry Crush ( Strawberry, fresh banana and pineapple juice) which excellent bit like a smoothie and Longboat Fizz( Ginger beer and lime juice) which sounds wrong somehow but was very refreshing actually and worked. We then went to the Beach House for a 2nd time but more people had cottoned on to this option so we were sent away with a buzzer but it did buzz bang on the time we were given. This time I had Buffalo wings which were ok nothing special and the Steak which was excellent. However, the service was much less attentive second time around and we were basically forgotten and people after us "overtook" us and had their sweets before we had even got to plate clearing of our main. In fact our waiter was physically absent for ages. We gave up in the end and went to the buffet for cheese and biscuits and a coffee. We struggled to find entertainment we were interested in tonight and apart from the clash on the first night, this was a theme and normally I've felt it to be a strong point of P&O. My daughter went to Kids Club again and enjoyed putting her own mocktails together. Day 4-Guernsey A further buffet breakfast (again excellent fruits) and then off by tender (took a while with ticketing system but seemed much better organised than when we were here on Oceana). We had arranged to meet my Mum's lifelong friend here she's from Guernsey and was an evacuee who lived with My Mum and they have stayed firm friends ever since and her daughter which was bittersweet as my Mum has dementia which has now progressed to the stage we felt we couldn't bring her with us, we have taken her with us on 4 previous cruises since My Dad passed away. I did feel guilty (especially today)but Mum did love hearing about the lovely time we had. We had a whole tour of the Island which has some truly beautiful coves and beaches. We went to Port Soif beach which is beautiful and had a picnic made by our hosts including egg sandwiches with eggs from her own hens and Gache for pudding (a type of Guernsey fruit loaf-very Moorish with real butter).We also swam in the sea which was bracing but lovely.We then went to Bordeaux -not France but Guernsey style a lovely cove with a view and had a drink outdoors.There were some people painting the bay which was a lovely tranquil scene but all I could think of was the fast show character Johnny who paints everything black! We then headed back to St Peter Port having a lovely view on the way of Ventura and stopped off to buy some Gache back home.Our hosts were wonderful and very proud of the Island and they have every right to be. It being our last night I had fully planned a formal restaurant meal but encouraged by others i went to see what the buffet had to offer and succumbed. Had Tomato and Basil soup(nice butt Basil a bit overpowering followed by Roast Beef and all the trimmings which was very nice although they were a bit skinny with the meat and I had to do an Oliver and ask for more.I also snuck a steak and mushroom pudding on my plate and this was sublime. Had 2 Banoffee pies (they were very small your honour) and cheese and biscuits for "afters".My daughter asked to go to kids club so we went to see Martin Gold who we thought had a big build up but Fogwell Flax was funnier he wasn't bad but not that good either.Nice to be able to sit and relax though and have drink in your seat. We were ready for bed before our daughter!She came back with a goody bag which nice a few games in it-Pairs-Uno etc. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
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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