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2 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Europe - British Isles & Western

We're a young(ish) active couple in our early 40s who booked a week on Ventura cruising the Norwegian Fjords as our first cruise. We didn't want to spend a fortune or go for more than a week in case cruising wasn't for us. ... Read More
We're a young(ish) active couple in our early 40s who booked a week on Ventura cruising the Norwegian Fjords as our first cruise. We didn't want to spend a fortune or go for more than a week in case cruising wasn't for us. My husband hates flying so a cruise from Southampton seemed ideal. We normally holiday in the UK and enjoy walks, photography, good food and in my husband's case, a pint of two of real ale. This cruise appealed because is was sure to be scenic and seemed like a good introduction to holidaying at sea. We travelled by train from Nottingham to Southampton to avoid the stress of driving and the expense of parking. It was easier than getting to the pick up point for the coach. As soon as we got out of the taxi at the Mayflower Pier our cases were immediately whisked away and we joined the line for check in. The queue moved fairly swiftly and within about 30 mins we were on board. We felt a bit lost and not sure what to do but were handed a map of the ship and wandered off to find our cabin. On our way we came across our cases which were waiting on the corridor and wheeled them the rest of the way down to our cabin towards the aft end of the C deck. We'd decided on aft to save £100 each and had read that C deck cabins have the best balconies. This is true. Our cabin had everything we needed, was well tastefully decorated, comfortable and a reasonable size. Our cabin steward, Grazie, introduced herself almost as soon as we'd moved in. She told us where to find our muster station and made sure we were happy with our cabin. She did a great job keeping our home for the week clean and tidy and was always smiling and chirpy. After unpacking (and yes there was plenty of room for our stuff, our cases and enough hangers) we went for a wander and afternoon tea. Then it was time for the safety talk at the muster station (Havana). This didn't take long and was straight forward. We spent the first afternoon exploring although we still managed to get lost a few times, even towards the end of the week! The floors are a bit confusing as some areas don't seem to link up from all 3 staircases but we had some extra exercise finding our way round. We'd opted for freedom dining and ate in the Cinnamon restaurant each evening, We didn't see the point of paying extra to eat in the "select" restaurants as the food and service were very good in our allocated restaurant. We elected not to share tables and never had to wait long for a table for 2. We ate close to 6pm most evenings and were shown a window seat several times. We have no complaints about the food. There was plenty of choice and it was possible to request items that weren't on the menu if you're especially fussy. The service from the waiters was prompt and efficient. Some were more smiley and friendly than others but they were all good at their jobs. We sampled most of the bars on board and preferred the Metropolis bar over all due to the relaxed atmosphere and great views. We also liked the Red Bar as it was comfortable. The drink prices were reasonable and the service was attentive without being pushy. Even in busy venues, such as the theatre and Havana bar the staff did a great job in getting to you when you needed a refill and remembering who ordered what. I don't know how they do it! Hubby was happy with the range of real ales and I enjoyed working my way through the cocktail list and sampling the occasional liquor. We went to some of the shows in the theatre. The Headliners singers and dancers were very good and their shows were professional and entertaining. The comedians were ok but we didn't see any of them for a second time. The Neil Diamond and Tom Jones tribute acts were very good. The older ladies in the audience especially enjoyed the banter from the Tom Jones act! We didn't partake in the entertainment every evening. We were happy just to sit in the Metropolis bar with a drink, enjoying the sunsets and chilled out music. There was a fairly comprehensive programme of daytime activities but most of it wasn't really our cup of tea. We did use the gym which was very well equipped. The classes were a bit expensive but the free "fab abs" class was good. The treadmills and cardio equipment are arranged to give a great view out to sea at the front of the ship. Who needs MTV! There are plenty of swimming pools on Ventura but only a few brave souls made use of them. It was rather nippy in April! If you want to do "proper" swimming you'll find them a bit small. The endless pool wasn't working most of the time but it was too cold to use it anyway. The temperature around the only covered pool was reasonable and if that had been bigger or "endless" we might have used it. Ventura is a family ship so this area was a bit noisy for us although most of the time we didn't really notice many children elsewhere on board as it was term time. You can always get something to eat on the ship without having to pay extra for it. The 24hr buffet had a good choice of food. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea were fairly varied and of good quality. Seating was rather limited and at times we walked circuits around both sides of Waterfront and Beach house to find a table. It probably would be less congested in warmer climates when you could make use of the exterior seating. On our cruise we had 2 sea days and visited ports on 4 days. The excursions were very expensive. We only booked one - the Flam railway trip. This was also pricey but we don't regret booking it. There wasn't a lot to do in the ports other than enjoy the scenery. This was enough for us. Flam and Bergen are covered below. We also visited Stavanger and Olden. Both were interesting and pleasant to wander around. We liked the old town in Stavanger but it felt as though Ventura and its passengers took over the town in a rather imposing and intrusive way. It seemed as though it wasn't quite ready for the tourist season as not everywhere was open and quite a lot of work was being done in the port. Olden has some shops geared towards tourists. We didn't buy anything but lots of people did - they were packed! We found the old wooden church which was worth the short walk to find. Again, some of the shops were closed - they missed a trick there! The prettiest area can be found by turning left and walking down the road back along the Fjord. There's a wooden pier by some conifer trees where we took some lovely photos which look like paintings. There is something surreal about the colours of the landscape and the snow-capped mountains reflected in the water. Yes, Norway is expensive but cruising is a cheaper way to visit as there is no need to pay for food and drinks - you can get them on the ship! We only wandered around in the ports for a few hours between breakfast and lunch so didn't need to get on and off too many times. This was a good thing as queuing to get through security was a bit of a chore, albeit necessary and understandable. We had been a bit nervous before our holiday about rough seas. One night was quite bad although the staff were reassuring, especially the captain who had warned us that there would be a big swell and some noise from the bow slapping down on the sea (gulp!) We wore our anti sea sickness bands and didn't feel ill, just a little anxious. We propped ourselves up in bed and watched the TV most of the night to distract us from the noise and motion. There was some vibration from the stabilisers which i understand was worse on the lower decks. The rest of the time we were lucky to have fairly smooth seas and good weather. We knew it would be cold and packed accordingly. Disembarkation was swift and well organised but no drinks were offered wile we waited to be led off the ship. We would have happily paid for a cuppa in the bar as we'd had to vacate our room by 8am and were not due to leave until after 10am. We could have left earlier, taking our bags off ourselves but we'd have had a long wait at Southampton station. We were expecting the buffet breakfast to be rammed on disembarkation but we beat the crowds by eating before 7am. It was the quietest we'd seen it all week! We would definitely recommend P&O and Ventura and the Norwegian Fjords. In fact I've been missing the ship since we came home! It would be interesting to see how different the experience would be in warm weather when you could sit on deck and enjoy the pools. Maybe next time... Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We've recently returned from our first cruise and enjoyed it so much that we're now cruise converts! We'd been interested in booking a cruise for sometime but weren't sure if it was our sort of holiday. We did lots of ... Read More
We've recently returned from our first cruise and enjoyed it so much that we're now cruise converts! We'd been interested in booking a cruise for sometime but weren't sure if it was our sort of holiday. We did lots of research as to which would be a suitable ship and eventually picked P & O's Ventura, we thought we'd go for 7 days only, just in case we didn't like it. We used the P & O website to book the holiday, getting a 10% discount and double on-board spend. We had staterooms A501 with a balcony and A517 inside and also chose the freedom-dining option. Living only three-quarters of an hour from Southampton, we had a short drive to the Ocean Terminal and were impressed with the CPS parking arrangements. Wasn't really sure what to expect with the check-in procedure but were pleasantly surprised with how smooth, efficient and stress-less it was. We arrived about 1.00pm and it was busy - it was announced later in the day that there had been 2,500 people in the terminal at that time - but considering the amount of people checking in we couldn't believe that it only took 45 mins between arriving and boarding. We went up to the Waterside Restaurant, had something to eat and it was announced that the cabins were ready at about 2.00pm. Following a quick walk around Deck 15 we went to our cabins. Some of the luggage was already outside the door; some didn't turn up until a few hours later. We had a balcony cabin and an inside one. Both were very comfortable. The beds were really comfy, plenty of storage space, etc. The hairdryer was powerful enough to dry my thick, shoulder, length hair; it was an ordinary plug in one (not one of those powerless wall mounted ones you sometimes find in hotel), so don't worry about packing a hairdryer. My GHD's also worked perfectly. Two small bottles of water were supplied, along with tea, coffee, milk, biscuits and sweets. Complimentary toiletries were by the White Company. Beach towels were also supplied. The balcony was great, enough room for three of us to sit out on and wasn't overlooked, although we could look down onto Decks C and D. We used either the Beach House or the Waterside for breakfast. Lots of choice from traditional cooked breakfast, through to cereals, pastries, fruits, etc. Although the ship was full we never had a problem finding a table. You could also have breakfast delivered to your room. Lunchtimes (when onboard) we used the Waterside Restaurant (wide choice of food) or Frankies, where they did lovely pizzas to order and a good burger (perfect for when you're relaxing on deck or using the pool). Occasionally we would pop into Waterside for a bit of afternoon tea, where there was a selection of sandwiches, cakes, etc. There was a silver-service tea in Saffron each afternoon but we never got as far as getting there; next time maybe..... In the evenings we used either Cinnamon (we went at about 7.00pm and never had a problem getting a table), Beach Bistro or Waterside. Again, a wide range of food, always well cooked and presented. I'm veggie and had no problems finding something to eat. We had a quick peek into Marco Pierre White's restaurant and it looked very inviting, they also did a good veggie option. However, we were so busy trying the other restaurants that we ran out of time to go there. Apparently, MPW was on Ventura the week before, so we just missed him. Entertainment was very good. My favourites were the Four Tops and Drifters Tribute Groups. We also saw Saturday Night Fever and a Freddie Mercury Tribute. There were also plenty of different quizzes including a Dr Who one, talks, classes, etc. Cheryl Baker was guest speaker, not my cup of tea but others who saw her found her enjoyable. The facilities for children looked fantastic and my nephews would of loved them. All the children seemed happy and were well behaved. I had a quick look round but didn't use the gym. Plenty of equipment and great views. At the Oasis Spa is a sauna and steam room for general use. Also for £10 a day you had unlimited use of the Thermaspa. This I did use and it had a couple of steam rooms and a lanconium, complete with warm tiled beds for relaxing on. I felt great after using this. Outside is the adult pool, which although slightly chilly is meant for swimming in, rather than playing in. It was also a lap pool but unfortunately the machinery was out of order last week, due to some rough weather on the previous cruise! There were also two lovely Jacuzzi's too. We used the indoor Beachcoomber Pool on the wet days and the Laguna Pool on the sunny days both were lovely and warm. Didn't get to try the Terrace Pool as we tended to always be down the other end of the boat. Weather wise we had a real mixed bag, so you'd be wise to take summer and winter clothes on a trip to the Fjords. Our first full day at sea was gloriously hot, with lots of sunbathing, swimming and general relaxation. The North Sea was also very calm - not what we were expecting at all, even the Captain commented on how kind the North Sea had been to us. The four stops were as follows:- Bergen - when we arrived at Bergen it was drizzly/low cloud/foggy. We used the shuttle bus and had a good walk around Bergan. We were also going to use the funicular railway, which can easily be done independently, but as we couldn't see the top of the mountain because of the poor weather we decided to abandon this and went back to the boat after a couple of hours. As soon as we got back to the boat the weather improved and the sun came out! Bergen is a pretty little town and well worth a look around. Flam - it rained all day One of the Costa boats was already moored up at the quay, so Ventura used its tenders instead. We'd already booked via P & O to do the Flam railway trip but I expect it would be cheaper to do this independently. The line is 12.4miles and at its steepest gradient it's 1 in 18. There were lots of stunning views and waterfalls, especially the Kjosfossen. At the top of the line we visited the hotel where we had coffee and waffles with raspberry jam and sour cream, yum, yum. Ventura and the Costa ship had a bit of a competition with their horns, which was great fun. Olden - raining. We visited the Briksdal Glacier, again pre-booked with P & O. I expect it would be difficult to get here independently. There are two options with this tour, either walking the whole way or getting the troll bus halfway and walking the rest. We walked the whole way and it can be a steep walk in places (especially in the pouring rain). The troll bus takes you up the steep bit and then drops you off to walk the rest of the way to the glacier. There is a steep bit after the troll bus drops you off and I saw one old lady struggling to make it up this bit, however after this it's a much flatter walk and well worth the effort to see the retreating the glacier. Again, there's a thunderous waterfall half-way up the steep bit, so you might get wet there, even on a dry day. We also had a nice selection of coffee and cakes at the Briksdal hotel on our return. Stavanger - in the morning the weather was overcast, however in the afternoon there was wonderful blue sky. Ventura moored up in the city centre and this was perfect for a gentle wander around. On our last day at sea, again the weather was warm, with blue skies, perfect for a last bit of relaxation before our return to Southampton. Disembarkation was equally smooth. We were given an allocated time of 8.15am to leave the boat and our luggage was waiting for us in the terminal. There was a short walk over to the CPS Car Park and we were on our way back to Bournemouth by 8.45am. We thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and loved the Ventura. We're now looking at the Caribbean Cruises for next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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