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3 P&O Cruises Ventura Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

We went on the Ventura specifically for the Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise from Southampton around the Mediterranean on 2nd June. We thoroughly enjoyed all the Strictly shows and meeting the Strictly dancers including Oti Mabuse, ... Read More
We went on the Ventura specifically for the Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise from Southampton around the Mediterranean on 2nd June. We thoroughly enjoyed all the Strictly shows and meeting the Strictly dancers including Oti Mabuse, Graziano, Alijaz and Janette and head judge Shirley Ballas. The entertainment was very good indeed and if you didn't want to immerse yourself in the Strictly theme there was always something going on in other areas. Our cabin was good for an inside cabin and it felt larger because of the clever positioning of mirrors however I would definitely choose an outside cabin if going again because that way you can sit outside. Our cabin steward Lourdes was so lovely nothing was too much trouble for her even getting me some extra hangers. We mainly ate in the buffet restaurant and there was a good selection of different food every evening but we did get a bit fed up of the same four types of English cheese on offer every night! The main restaurant was nice but we found the waiters abit brusque so we didn't go there very often. There was a varied itinerary of some nice places to visit including Gibraltar Cartagena Barcelona Marseille Monaco Corsica and Cadiz. We took two excursions one in Marseille which unfortunately wasn't very good it was a beach excursion with a quick stop in Marseille. It was a very hot day and the guide kept us on the coach for fifteen minutes in the heat while telling us about the history of Marseille instead of giving us that extra time in Marseille as we only had twenty minutes left. When we got to the beach we had one and a half hours but it was absolutely crowded and wouldn't be suitable for anybody with a walking disabilities to venture on as it was very hard to get in and out of the sea as the shingle dropped down. When I mentioned this to the excursion sales person on the ship he told me that I shouldn't be going on any beach with a walking disability! I was very offended and really think he should have been taught a tactful way of suggesting his paying customer might have been better to perhaps not go on the beach. I only wanted them to note that they should advise of this as no way in the shore excursion guide does it say it isn't suitable for people who have disabilities. The content of this particular excursion was not good and several people complained on return. However the tour of Monaco and Montecarlo was excellent and we were taken to the major attractions with a brilliant French lady who made the tour fun and interesting. Now for the terrifying part! We had been taken ashore on tender boats in the morning so after waiting 45 minutes in the boiling hot sun with no shade and nowhere to sit we eventually got on our tender boat to return to the ship and we we left the port the tender started to roll all over the place as the wind picked up and the sea was going right over the front of the tender, it gradually got worse and worse and one poor man became very seasick he was told to sit down as it was so dangerous on the boat and was passed a lot of bags. By this time people were panicking and one lady nearly passed out while another was being seasick. I was really frightened because the boat was rocking so much I could see even the tender pilot looked worried. We were stuck on the tender for an hour rocking and rolling and when they tried to bring it along side the ship it kept smashing into the platform where you get off. It took three strong men to help each person off by literally hauling them o to the ship incase they fell into the sea. Ours was once of the last tenders to actually make it to the ship after that the Captain halted the rest and left over a thousand guests on the shore in Monaco! Luckily later that evening we were able to put down ancho in Villefranche which had a calmer bay and all the rest of the guests got on tenders after being coached there and finally onto the ship late into the evening. People were exhausted and some had missed their medicine which was on the ship. This has completely put us off of ever going on a tender boat again. I don't often get freighted but that was very scary indeed! The overall view of the ship is that it offered a good variety of bars cafes theatre and restaurants and had good areas on deck to sit out on. The swimming pools were nice and big with one covered if it was cooler like when we left Southampton. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
About Time We have cruised with P&O many times, it was our first trip on Ventura although we were familiar with the layout having cruised on Azura and some Princess ships. This cruise was mainly to visit Greece and some of the ... Read More
About Time We have cruised with P&O many times, it was our first trip on Ventura although we were familiar with the layout having cruised on Azura and some Princess ships. This cruise was mainly to visit Greece and some of the Greek islands, but also included Ibiza and Gibraltar. The itinerary had changed twice, Turkey was swapped for Rhodes. The order of ports was changed this meant that we had Santorini to ourselves, instead of being with another four ships, good call! Embarkation/Disembarkation The ship was using the Ocean Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at getting people through as quickly as possible. Porters take your luggage from you in the drop off lanes, next time you see it is outside the cabin. The only slight hold up is having to complete the health questionnaire on arrival, why not offer it for download from the Cruise Personaliser. P&O complicate this by giving you a boarding time, ours is 15:00, it always is whatever P&O cruise we take! We decided to aim for 13:30, and only had to wait around until 14:00 before being called to check-in. We arrived at our cabin by 14:30 and our luggage was already waiting for us. Disembarkation is equally efficient. A few days before the end of the cruise there was an announcement on the back of the Horizon newspaper advising that if you were traveling independently to tell Reception what time you would like to disembark. Instructions are then dropped off at your cabin. We selected 09:00, as did another 800. Our meeting place was the Arena theatre; we duly filed in at 08:00 and filled the theatre from the front to the back, following the instructions of one of the entertainment team (she had quite a job on to retain order!). At 09:00 we left the theatre in a line from front to back, surprisingly this is very efficient if everyone does as they are told. The baggage reclaim is a big hall with the luggage located in deck order. There were plenty of trollies and staff to help find the odd misplaced bag. We were ready and waiting outside for our taxi by 09:25. Cruise Critic Roll Call Meet and Greet No M&G was organised beforehand, we knew that we would all be too busy enjoying ourselves! Dining We had opted for Freedom Dining which gives great flexibility, but it can get busy at peak times, the best strategy is to be prepared to share a table (requesting a table for two will probably result in being given a pager). We tended to eat in the Saffron Restaurant, we also used it for breakfast and lunch. The Saffron Restaurant is very big, but the service is very good. The selection of dishes each evening seemed a little limited, some nights we resorted to the always available steak or salmon. The breakfast choices in the MDR are comprehensive, but I don’t think the choice has changed in the 10 years we have been sailing with P&O. Lunch in the MDR is also pleasant, and fairly quiet with a good set of menu choices and usually an interesting curry. Other dining options that we tried were the Waterside (buffet) is a useful alternative for breakfast and lunch (we did not try it for dinner). It became congested at peak times and on sea days. People did tend to spread themselves out and hoard tables. The Poolside Grill provided a quick and hearty service of burgers and hotdogs. This was very handy when returning from trips. The Poolside Pizzeria was very good with pizzas cooked to order taking about 10 minutes. We also tried the Select dining outlets which incur an additional charge. The Epicurean provides top level dining at a modest charge; we had Chateaubriand (which we had always wanted to try). The service is attentive and personal this makes for a very special and memorable evening. Watch out for the Earlybird offers, a free bottle of house wine if you book to dine before 6:30 The Glasshouse is more relaxed, we tried the special wine pairing meal (usually once a week) the food was amazing and paired with wines that were surprising, but worked well. Each course and wine is described; again the service could not be faulted and was probably the best meal of the cruise. We also ate in the Glasshouse on another evening and again the food and service was very good. Be aware the Glasshouse tends to be where people queue to get into the theatre The Beach House is more of an American style diner, great selection of food, but you need to be hungry; once again, personal and attentive service in a relaxed pleasant environment. My Rib Combo was excellent and there was a lot of it! We did eat in Sindhu where we had an Asian lunch which was charged at £7.50 each and we thought was very good value. Beautifully prepared food with individual service. Bars Lots of bars as you would expect, some with an emphasis on gin. There is a wide selection of craft gins available in the Red Bar and Metropolis. Most drinks at pub prices, but if you want more than two glasses of wine a bottle of the house (white in our case) is an economical option at £16. The Tamarind Club could be difficult because it is also an entertainment venue it can become very crowded and difficult to get a seat, and there were people just sitting there for the live music and not having a drink. Cabin Our cabin was port rear on deck 9 (D612), it was a very good size; it is described as an superior deluxe balcony. The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. There is a spacious sitting area with a sofa, chair and variable height table. The balcony does not have an overhang and can be overlooked (no topless sun bathing here!), but it is a good size. Our steward Denzil looked after us well, and was always keen to do more. This grade of cabin comes with fluffy bathrobes, binoculars, atlas and on embarkation Champagne and chocolates. This cabin was very quiet, nothing rattled, but when they test the lifeboats which are immediately under the cabin, the noise of machinery is deafening! Lifeboat tests are usually on port days and at fairly sociable times, any other time and I would be very worried! Entertainment I enjoyed the lecture series, David Russell on aspects of the Royal Navy and John Mercer talking about the First and Second World Wars and some of the personalities. Both fairly male orientated, both very good. I took the Behind The Scenes Tour this was excellent and really worth the £75, but be warned it can be as long as five hours. The most impressive area was the navigational bridge, so spacious and an amazing view, a close second was the Engine Control Room the Chief Engineer Neil Collins really knows this ship inside out. The shows in the Arena Theatre, well we saw both shows with tenor Ben Makisi and they were very good, we would have liked to see more but there was a problem with the theatre. If you didn’t have you bum on a seat at least 30mins before curtain up, forget it. Some passengers had cracked the code and were obviously prepared to eat early, queue and wait for the shows, it seemed that their objective was to get good seats in at least two shows a night. Along with the Havana lounge and Tamarind Club these were the three targeted venues. In the end we gave up and enjoyed leisurely evening meals and drinks in selected quieter bars, each to their own. A special mention for Entertainment Manager (didn’t this used to be called Cruise Director?) Leon de ste. Croix, a real trooper! He can sing dance, do stand up and lecture on astronomy. He had to cope with a lot on this cruise, theatre main projector was off line for several days, one performer failed to appear due to BA problems at Gatwick and a critical member of the dance team went sick meaning a new show had to be shelved. He also had to apologise for a misprint in the newspaper which resulted in passengers changing their clocks a day early, late breakfast was busy that day. All this he carried off, Leon did not pay me to write this!! Photography We were pleasantly surprised by the ship’s photographers and their low key approach, it worked, and we actually bought some, £8 a print is very reasonable. The photographers were also very skilled and did manage a reasonable picture of us! Gym This has to be one of the best gyms afloat that I’ve tried and I used it 10 times (still put on weight though!). The 15 weights machines give you a complete workout. Plenty of tread-mills, cross trainers, bikes and rowing machines. My only suggestion would be to add a sit-up bench. Medical Centre We did not require the services of the Medical Centre, but I was taken round it on the behind the scenes tour, the facilities are comprehensive. One thing I learned was that they are unable to diagnose and treat a stroke, to do this they would require a CT scanner. Spa My wife had a full back massage which she found to be very beneficial, £75 for nearly an hour. Her therapist Theresa was very friendly and professional, and made a follow up phone call the next day just to make sure there were no problems. Ports of Call Ibiza We had been here before, and just took the shuttle bus into town where we had a good walk around and some lunch. There was a lengthy queue for the return shuttle bus, about half an hour. There was an even longer queue to get back on the ship, not quite sure what went wrong there. Athens (Piraeus) We had booked a trip here “The Acropolis and The Plaka”, everything was going well until we arrived at the car park for the Acropolis. On leaving the car park and taking the steps to the base of the Acropolis we became separated from the guide. Although we could hear the guide on the radio she was unaware that we were no longer with the group until she came to hand out the tickets to enter the Acropolis. For our part we searched the promenade at the base of the Acropolis and asked several people if they had seen our guide with our lollipop. After waiting some time we called the ship’s agent, who was not helpful, and told us to call the ship. Reception was very helpful, and arranged for the Excursion desk to call us back. When Ruth called us back we had returned to the car park and were waiting at the bottom of the steps. Kevin from the Excursion desk also called us with updates on progress. It was two hours before the guide eventually found us, by which time another couple who had become separated from the group at the Acropolis had joined us. After a while we could start to hear the guide again, and could hear someone telling her that they had also become separated. Soon after this the guide found us at the bottom of the steps, we then rejoined the group and discovered that the coach would not be picking us up from the car park. On return to the ship we went to the Excursion desk to discuss our problem and were effectively told that the incident was our fault. After a rather heated and fruitless discussion the agent agreed to request an appointment with her manager. No appointment was received, and we returned to the Excursion Desk two days later, to be told that the matter was in hand. The next day we received a letter from the manager apologizing and advising of compensation. In light of this here are our top tips for an enjoyable tour: 1. Make sure that your guide displays their lollipop prominently. 2. Ask your guide to set up a pre-arranged meeting point. 3. Before getting off a coach ask your guide to describe the flow of the tour and where the coach would be picking up from. 4. Ask your guide to provide an emergency contact number. 5. Take the Horizon Newspaper, port guide, working mobile phone and a debit or credit card. Santorini Once the ship was anchored, shore tenders came alongside to disembark passengers; these are much bigger than the ships tenders and provide a smoother ride. New for us was that everyone had to do a step test this involved stepping across two lines 45cm (18 inches) apart to prove that you were mobile enough to get on and off the tender. In the event there were two large gentlemen on the tender who grabbed you and lifted you on! We took the Best of Santorini tour, a very good tour with an interesting guide. You get to see a lot of the island, but I’m not sure how much value the included lunch provided. The lunch was self-service in a large venue with at least another five tour parties, yes, we’ve all been there, average food and not our first choice of wine! The tour could be shortened allowing more time in Fira, and perhaps a better lunch. Rhodes The ship docks very close to the Old Town, we just walked of and took a long walk around the town and harbour, then enjoyed a leisurely lunch and some shopping. Crete, Heraklion We have already seen most of the sights of Crete and Heraklion, so we took the transfer to Aghios Nikolaos. The host on the coach, Sandra was excellent, and when we arrived at Aghios Nikolaos she walked us around to and got us orientated. We had a pleasant walk around the Voulismeni Lake, and enjoyed a relaxed lunch, so relaxed that we did not have time to go to the beach. Our host positioned herself prominently in the coach park and we had no problems finding the coach. Katakolon for Olympia We took the Olympic Spirit tour, our guide Penny was a star, well informed on the historic aspects and highly organised. She kept the party together even when we lost one member they were soon back with us. It’s a fairly uneven site, but quite compact. The museum is definitely worth a visit, though it can become very busy. Aircraft spotters would have particularly enjoyed this trip because the Greek Airforce was practicing nearby! Gibraltar We have been here many times and our call was fairly short, not enough time for lunch. Like everyone else, we got off walked into town, did some shopping, had a beer then got back on board. As we walked back towards Ventura you could hear a lot of bottles chinking around us! Anything Else? Overall, an enjoyable cruise with the exception of some selfish passengers who were totally focused on what they wanted to do, queuing in the Glasshouse to make sure that you got into the theatre is not good, neither is leaving a show early to get to the next venue. This was also the first cruise where we have had three captains: Simon Terry left us in Ibiza for urgent personal reasons Deputy captain Max Rossi took over. In Athens Marcin Banach took over All this happened totally seamlessly. All that now remains is for me to lose the six pounds that I have gained on this cruise, and plan the next one! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Just returned from a 2 night Mini Cruise from Southampton to Zeebrugee. We booked the mini cruise as a surprise for our friends 40th Birthday. 6 of us travelling all on C Deck (floor 10) in a Balcony room. Check in was swift and ... Read More
Just returned from a 2 night Mini Cruise from Southampton to Zeebrugee. We booked the mini cruise as a surprise for our friends 40th Birthday. 6 of us travelling all on C Deck (floor 10) in a Balcony room. Check in was swift and effortless -- we were only waiting half an hour and were called in groups to check in. Within 15 mins we were on board and heading to the buffet. Food: Lovely -- Buffet's were hot and plentiful with loads of options. However in the buffet rooms the ceilings felt quite low and therefore due to the layout did feel small. There were 4 sections -- 2 on each side of the ship. Main restaurants always seemed busy, we ate in Cinnamon on both nights on the Freeway dining option. On both nights we had to wait to be seated but were offered a buzzer so we could drink in the Antrium whilst waiting. The food in here was again very nice with 5 courses served. The portion sizes were spot on albeit the service was a tad slow (due to how busy it was). Other place to eat was by the pool bar which served burgers and hot dogs. Very nice again. All in all couldn't fault the food at all. Drinks: Cheap -- in fact cheaper then UK Pub prices, Cocktail of the day was £3.95 (normal price £4.75). Pint of Stella at £3.65 and wine @ £4.25. Excellent again. No service charge on drinks and no VAT added. Service: Every time you sat down a waiter asked what drink you wanted. They were quick and pleasant. Well Done. Service in Restaurant was equally pleasant. Everyone, down to the cleaners were friendly and smiling. Room: Having sailed on NCL Epic and RC Independence we weren't expecting to be blown away by the rooms, but, they were adequate and mighty comfortable. Loads of storage space and loads of coat hangers to use. Beds were twin beds and so so soft. Individual Air Con in room. Fridge and coffee/Tea making also. Large free electronic safe. Fresh towels changed twice a day along with turn down service at night. Bliss. Entertainment: Hit and miss to be honest. Just your normal cruise type of entertainment. Live show twice a night in the Theatre and various live singers in different bars. All very professional though. Casino was awful though -- right next to the very loud Karaoke bar. Full of drunk guests and deafening..... They need to sort this part out. To summarise: A lovely 2 night cruise on o lovely large ship. But, doing 2 nights really does tire you out. Not a negative but P&O should change it to a 3 night Cruise with 1 night in Port to allow its guests to do and see everything. The 4 other people in our party had never been on a Cruise. Now they have, they are ready to book their next one. No negatives about the whole cruise, Well Done P&O. Spot on!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
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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