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7 P&O Cruises Ventura Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help ... Read More
As a first time cruising couple travelling with a 2 year daughter we were a little sceptical about the entire holiday and what we would encounter on board the ship. We didn't need to worry however the staff bent over backwards to help us and interact with our daughter at every step of the way. So lets break it down - We arrived in Venice and had a walk around having spent the night in a hotel and got on the ship around 2ish. The check in process and embarkation were a breeze, plenty of staff around and helpful dock workers taking our bags for loading. We explored the ship for a bit and made our way to the cabin for 3 o'clock and our bags were already there and waiting. Riviera deck inside cabin R744 Breakfast is a self service affair with a choice of fresh fruits, cereals, muffins, meats, cheeses, smoothies and full English breakfast and according to my wife a horrible porridge personally all porridge is horrible so….. There is a continental side at the aft of the ship with waffles apparently however this seemed to finish at 7.00am and we missed it every day. We mainly attended the mid section of the ship. This was the only time that you can get access to anything other than water coffee or tea free of charge with pure orange, apple and pineapple available. Lunch is the same sort of setup as breakfast with a mixture of hot and cold food and usually with a curry or something as well High tea - sandwiches, cakes, scones and cream……… all good………not for the waistline though…. Dinner - We ate at the Bay tree restaurant on the first sitting our waiters Mark and Sheldon were amazing and never stopped trying to play with Faye (our 2 year old) and make her smile. It took all week but eventually she was high fiving and laughing at them. The food here was rich and well presented with a standard classic menu that was always available and a menu that changed daily. It could have done with a little more variety by the end of the first week. The children s menu had a good selection of standard foods like fish fingers, burgers, chicken breast and you could pick and mix to create your meal with vegetables and potatoes etc. We only used the bay tree in the evenings and should have tried the buffet selection for the evening meal. As the first sitting meant we missed every sail away party and a few other events. The food arrives quickly and no sooner than one course is cleared the next is arriving which can make it feel a little rushed. On the first formal night we had a guest menu from Marco Pierre White - however we found it lackluster and the 2nd formal menu had nothing special about it which was disappointing as we had expected something from East. Speaking of which we booked a table there and included for our 2 year old - the food was simply spectacular. Everything we had hoped for the menu was varied and Atul actually visited each table chatted with guests and posed for photos. In hindsight we should have checked out the evening menus at the restaurants before deciding what to do for dinner. They were posted outside and its normally only a slight detour to check whats on or go for the buffet and then go play. Our daughter would have benefitted from this as she could have gone to play with Mr Bump or the family disco sooner. Entertainment - There was plenty to do on the ship had we ditched our daughter. Not much in the way of family events to get involved with at least not for a two year old. However she loved the Reef kids club and the staff there were brilliant with her. The events whilst not spectacular were definitely entertaining. Trying to keep track of what was going on was tricky. The horizon newsletter that is distributed each evening with the listings could be a bit better laid out as tracking what was going on was done by time rather than rooms and areas. There were plenty of bar areas to relax and unwind and the Tamarind and Havana were good places to sit and listen to different music acts and a cinema in the afternoon. Now we have done it once we would certainly have a better idea how to organise our time better the second time around. Cabin and service - Simply excellent, The cabin was always clean with fresh towels and we even got some jelly beans for the little one and a balloon on the first night which she loved. Every staff member from the backroom cabin crew,cleaners and the plumber that we met to the waiters, bar staff and officers were all friendly approachable and couldn’t do enough to help. I could write suggestions and improvements for ages but suffice to say we had a blast – it might not be as fancy as other cruises but we loved it and were already discussing another one on our trip home. One thing make time to visit the Spa the ladies and treatments were awesome - I would highly recommend the hot stone aromatherapy massage in particular (I had 2) when you go say hi to Edyta for me! :-) John, Kelly & Faye   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Arrived in Southampton for my 1st Cruise and was just a little apprehensive. We were dealt with quickly and efficiently on check in and within an hour of our arrival we were onboard. The first impression of this huge ship was WOW! The ... Read More
Arrived in Southampton for my 1st Cruise and was just a little apprehensive. We were dealt with quickly and efficiently on check in and within an hour of our arrival we were onboard. The first impression of this huge ship was WOW! The staff onboard were attentive and welcoming and we made our way to the cabin we were allocated (last minute booking at an excellent price) B504 which was situated on deck 11 and was abalcony cabin on port side. This cabin was nicely furnished and presented and was very clean. It had a large hanging space with plenty of shelf storage and a small dressing area outside the shower room. All cabins have a safe which is free to use and once you have set your code you can store all valuables inside safely. Our Cabin steward, Cristo was excellent, very helpful and attentive making us animals from towels each evening when we returned to our cabin. The choice of places to eat are many and all food and choices are excellent to say the least. There are theme nights if you dont want to eat in your designated restaurant and everywhere we ate was faultless, In particular we ate in the Beach House restaurant (Back of ship) were admittance is limited so arrive there at 6.30pm to secure a place as the food is 1st class, some is with a small supplement but many items are at no additional cost.We ate there 3/4 times and our waiter Hamil was 1st class too even remembering on our return our likes and dislikes. I was very impressed as they were fully booked each night. The choice of entertainment is huge and there is something for everyone no matter what age you are. We had Rachel Allen onboard this trip and she held a question and answer session with signings of her new book. We never used the Spa which looked lovely but I personally felt it was a little expensive and they bombarded you with flyers as if desperate for you to go there. There was a well equipped Gym at the back of the spa, although I never used it many did. There are a few shops onboard, however, Duty free shop closed all trip and you had to make purchases ashore when you stopped. Costa Coffee shop service was appalling and the staffs attitude could be greatly improved no way anywhere near the level of service in the rest of the ship! Coffee with attitude served here, eventually!! We ordered on 1 occasion and were told *Too busy madam, come back a bit later*!!! Not impressed. Plenty of excursions in the ports but these too were expensive, however free shuttle buses to the shops much appreciated. All in all a fabulous 1st Cruise and would definitely do it again as soon as possible. Disembarkation...totally confusing with long delays. You book your choice of time at reception on ship a couple of nights before home and they notify you of where and when to go and be ready. We were packed into a bar for 45 minutes and kept being told we were delayed due to a bottle neck at the exit. Some people had flights to Scotland to get and were very distressed, nobody cared we were just told to wait. Eventually we all headed to the exit where there were no queues, no bottle necks and disembarked quickly without difficulty only to find in the luggage hall most of the luggage had been collected by passengers already left. So P and O you need to organise this better and it would be perfect! I would go again tomorrow and highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My mother-in-law is a keen cruiser and decided to introduce her grand-children to cruise-culture by booking a 16 night Eastern Med cruise for three generations of her family. As any sort of 'package' holiday or Center-Parcs-style ... Read More
My mother-in-law is a keen cruiser and decided to introduce her grand-children to cruise-culture by booking a 16 night Eastern Med cruise for three generations of her family. As any sort of 'package' holiday or Center-Parcs-style experience is anathema to me, I really did not expect to enjoy it. This was reinforced by many of the reviews of the 'Butlin's-at-sea' type on this and other sites. I am pleased to say that my prejudices were largely unfounded and I find myself back on dry-land, sadly missing the whole experience! Embarkation was very easy, although it should be noted that suits in bags are must be taken on board yourself, as they are not taken by the porters. We turned up a little early and were on the boat within an hour or our arrival by car at the docks. The kids immediately dug into the buffet although I was, for the only time on the cruise, not feeling hungry due to slight sea-sickness (while still in port - oh dear!). Cabins were available after a further hour and luggage turned up well before we left the dock. As soon as the ship started to move, all untoward motion seemed to stop and I was completely unaffected after that. The cabin (deck 12, outside) was fine, with a dinky shower/toilet room and twin beds which we had pushed together to form a double that evening. There had been slight confusion over the booking but this was easily smoothed over. The balcony was just big enough for two to stretch out but we managed to fit in 5 for late-night drinks. The carpets are probably ripe for replacement (some stains visible) but had obviously been cleaned as well as possible and the decor was in reasonable order. I understand the ship is being re-fitted in March 2013 so this will probably be sorted out then. We fell into a routine of pre-dinner drinks, usually in Metropolis, Deck 18, at the rear, where views over the ocean (with occasional whales) were lovely. The Atrium and Red Bar were also used but were smaller and sometimes too full for our party. Cocktails seemed to be of a slightly higher standard in Metropolis and came a little more quickly here too, although staff were efficient in all bars. The duo that played most nights, Into the Drift, were a friendly pair of accomplished musicians who knew their audiences well and were happy to play arrangements of modern stuff for the kids. I saw little of the rest of the entertainers but my mother-in-law lapped it all up! Food was the main pleasure on the boat. I expected to have to eat in White's to get decent quality (paying extra for the privilege) but in the end did not bother. In the evening, freedom dining in Cinnamon was of a very good hotel standard, with many more 'hits' than 'misses'. Poached eggs always had runny yolks; steaks were always cooked as requested (even blue) and squid was lovely and soft. After one try in the buffets, I avoided them, as being too crowded and noisy, with distinctly worse food. The wine-service was a little erratic, with orders being taken before choosing food and then not arriving until after the starters. However, the choice, quality and pricing was pretty good, especially with the packages on offer. Make sure you ask for the Stilton after the meal, as this was not always advertised although many of the other British cheeses were very good and nearly always served warm. For mornings, I nearly always went to Saffron, where cooked breakfasts were excellent. The choice of fruit and pastries was, however, better, in the buffets. Chefs specials were nice but could range in size from tiny (corn beef hash) to huge (kedgeree). Lunch was also nice in this restaurant, with a curry of the day option popular with the kids. I was disappointed to find that, with so many Indian staff on board, curries were under-spiced and unadventurous, with few chutneys, no raita etc. Afternoon tea was the universal favourite meal, taken at 4pm with a choice of teas, scones with clotted cream, crumpets, teacakes and several delicious freshly baked varieties of freshly-baked cakes. This was always good-humoured, with tables of older children coming to enjoy the ceremony, as well many of the more elderly passengers and families. We did try Ramblas Tapas one lunchtime and it was excellent, for a few pounds more. I did not try any of the organised activities, mainly because I needed to visit the gym everyday to lose weight! This facility was heavily used for the first two days of the voyage and then nearly empty after that and it had everything I needed. TV coverage of the Olympics was sporadic and usually focused on obscure events with no GB interest. The 'Butlin's' style elements of the cruise intruded from time-to-time (discos until 12 on the upper decks, crowds of kids in the pools, vastly obese people cramming food in the buffets, teen-scene at night) but it was entirely possible to get away from this in the restaurants, internal bars and other quiet public spaces. It really felt like two cultures being entertained separately with little friction; our teenage children probably enjoyed the livelier side of things while the adults relaxed, ate and chatted in peace. The 'British' atmosphere on the boat was actually pleasant, and contrasted nicely with the ports we visited. The staff were always efficient and polite and sometimes genuinely friendly, despite long hours and low pay. We were happy to pay the automatic tips and a little extra for especially good service. So, overall, an unexpectedly good experience, which I might repeat in a few years. If doing it again, I would avoid July/August if possible, mainly because of the heat whilst onland but would be happy to cruise P&O and Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Arrived at Southampton our car and cases were whisked away and within 30 minutes we were on the ship heading for the restaurant. Ventura is an amazing ship and our cabin was complete luxury, very comfortable beds we all slept really well ... Read More
Arrived at Southampton our car and cases were whisked away and within 30 minutes we were on the ship heading for the restaurant. Ventura is an amazing ship and our cabin was complete luxury, very comfortable beds we all slept really well and the cabin was always kept clean as was the rest of the ship. The kids club was fantastic although I feel the staff were to young to be really good, not there fault! My son could come and go as he pleased and when we had a bit of trouble finding him we just asked security to help look and they were happy to help. As was every crew member we encountered, nothing was to much trouble for them The food was very good and we never waited long to be served a drink. We dined at 6.30 every evening and our waiter was great he knew my sons name from the start but wasn't all over the top which we liked. I saw 3 shows which were really good and we all enjoyed the entertainment provided, there was something for everyone on Ventura and feel sorry for the people that have slatted the ship as I feel these people would struggle to enjoy anything. Arrived back at Southampton and from when we got in the line to disembark to when we were in our car was no more then 20 minutes, a complete joy compared to the hassle of airports. We can't wait to be able to return to Ventura and want to say thank you to P&O for a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first cruise and we were just amazed when we pulled up at the dock and seen Ventura, she is huge. Our luggage was taken off us and we proceeded to check-in. Once all the formalities of check-in and security were over we ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we were just amazed when we pulled up at the dock and seen Ventura, she is huge. Our luggage was taken off us and we proceeded to check-in. Once all the formalities of check-in and security were over we proceeded to board. We all looked in amazement when we entered Ventura. We were shown to our cabins and our luggage was there waiting and our cabin steward introduced himself. Our cruise was for 7 nights and what a 7 night cruise we had it was fantastic. The staff were friendly and efficient, they did an outstanding job. The food was amazing with a choice of self service restaurants to club dining (which we did). As for things to do on board there was so much from the swimming pools to the numerous quizez to shows and more. The only thing i would have to complain about is some of the other passengers (mainly ones who had been on cruises before)all they did was moan, they were rude to staff and passengers alike complaining the service was slow, the food wasn't good, all i can say is absolute rubbish. We enjoyed cruising with P&O and the Ventura (what an amazing ship)so much that we are already booking for next year. Thank you for a wonderful holiday Ventura. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
How many times have you heard 'you'll be fine' - 'you'll not really be alone' and inside you are dreading people finding out that you are travelling on you own. It took me a couple of years to find out that ... Read More
How many times have you heard 'you'll be fine' - 'you'll not really be alone' and inside you are dreading people finding out that you are travelling on you own. It took me a couple of years to find out that it's not so bad especially when you cruise. The Ventura sailed from Southampton so no flying and just a short journey with a very heavy case I boarded ship. From the time I boarded I felt a huge sense of freedom - so much to do and see and you had the choice to do it all or do nothing. It was a last minute decision so no excursions had been arranged but I had time to decide where I went and what I did and after speaking to people about their experiences I made better choices. I visited six places that you'd never be able to do in two weeks, met some very interesting people, had so much choice of food I was never hungry. I was allocated a table of 10 people all of whom were older than me but each evening we'd come together and share the days events or recommend trips etc. I had the choice of joining them or doing my own thing. The staff were brilliant - courteous and efficient. I had a great time, relaxed on the sunny deck, visited loads of lovely places, tried lots of different foods and felt recharged. The schedule of activities were varied and I was grateful that there was a news letter containing the next days events as I used this to plan my next day. A real voyage of discovery for me in more ways than one. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Well what can I say..once we had booked I have looked at all the reviews that everyone have been leaving for the Ventura..all very mixed so in one respect I was a little worried to what we were going to find!! The only gripe we had was ... Read More
Well what can I say..once we had booked I have looked at all the reviews that everyone have been leaving for the Ventura..all very mixed so in one respect I was a little worried to what we were going to find!! The only gripe we had was when we arrived at the port to board the ship..we had to join a very long queue ..think it took the best part of an hour to board etc..but once we checked in at the desk we were on our way,just like airport check-in..once you have gone through the scanner you continue through another doorway and there is a photographer there snapping everyone as they go through..if I new itt was gping to be posted on the photo gallery boards we would have been a bit more enthusiastic and not looked so suprised..im sure you all know what I mean..looking at them on the gallery board there are some funny ones!!..anyway once aboard we could start our holiday.the Atrium is just fabulous..everywhere bigger and better than peoples pictures and video's..cabin towels changed twice a day..I think Jowel our cabin steward could have changed our sheets more than just the once though and that wasnt till the second week,also the carpet could have been vacuumed a few times aswell.our cabin was the 12th deck midship so we didnt have any noise..so that was a plus for us..think we would go for a window or balcony next time..as when you walk along the corridors you see other cabins with the doors open..so so bright,would be nice to wake up and look out the window .. The food is good so much to eat..if you want too,we had breakfast and lunch in the waterside and the beachhut..we had freedom dining so we had dinner in cinnamon..its huge!! excellent quality..service perfect..couldnt fault it at all.No way would you think you were at sea having dinner..just perfect. Entertainment was fine..(Fogwell Flax was very good comedian)Also Robbie Williams impersonater was very good also.. There were lots of more mature passengers onboard over the age of 65/70 plus..not many children,we didnt use the pools as the children were in them most daylight hours.. The sail aways were very entertaining..the last one leaving Gibraltar was the best I thought..and we did join in!! Lots of places you can go and have a sitdown in and have a drink...by the way you dont pay for tea/coffee etc when you are eating in the waterside or the beachhut..have as many as you like its self service. I thought there would be more shops onboard,also they have special sale days and bring out tables selling perfume,watches,jewellery etc but one of the tables looked abit like a carboot with loads of cheap bags and watches etc didnt look very good to me!! On the formal nights the photographers come out and ask if you would like your picture taken..as we all look very good with our posh togs on..range from £5.95 upwards think we purchased 5 in all..as they also take your picture when you go ashore..mind you ..you dont have to buy them if you dont want to..there were loads and loads unsold. We had good weather after a few dull days,we came home with a nice suntan which was even better. You do get a mix of people on the ship.. there was no noisey people on the cruise thank goodness..plenty of people in wheelchairs young and old,not a problem,plenty of lifts and stairs to keep you fit!! Sunbeds if you wanted one..plenty of them. You dont go to the bar for a drink the barstaff/stewards come to you all the time!!...prices are average,cocktails from 2.65 upwards . The Arena theatre is large but still if you dont get there early enough for the first show etc you wont get a seat..its a lovely theatre. Once again this was our first cruise on ventura..and yes we would love to go on her again..but wont do all the destinations..as we are supposed to be relaxing not getting up early to get coaches at 8am.. Also I took far to many clothes as you do..only 2 cases next time!! my husband and I are in our 50s/60s and we went with friends of simular age. Ventura we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
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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