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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely ... Read More
Just returned from the Christmas cruise aboard Ventura. I'll will try to summarise my thoughts .... The service from the steward and dining room staff (early sitting) was excellent. The dinning room food in the evening was largely good with just a few disappointments but in nearly all cases the meat portion was too small. Our D deck cabin was very average with no internet access when the ship was moving, poor maintainance in the bathroom, a faded settee, questionable AC and ridiculous noise from the tender launching process at 7am (!) in Tortola . To add to this the balcony was not at all private with virtually every cabin above it having a birds eye view of us. The balcony was often littered with cigarette butts which I assume came from the rooms above . The guest entertainers were typically good but the production shows were over ambitious given the singers available and their lack of talent . It's takes a brave girl of any description to offer a "tribute" to Karen Carpenter but if they cannot sing well its just not practical and how 3 white guys can try to mimic the Drifters is beyond my comprehension - they must be able to both sing and dance and do both at the same time! The Calypso band that played in various venues was quite good but the rock band much worse. There was a constant problem with the lack of sun beds . This is down to bad deck design or even ship design and poor management - given though P&O can cure this but they have to want to do it. Similarly the show lounge is too small and requires a 3rd nightly show. P&O employ "minders" around the swimming pool whose sole purpose appears to be annoy the kids who are jumping in and out and enjoying themselves. These pool minders even kick out adults in the pool if the appear to jump in, even though they weren't. Making these people redundant would offer a serious cost saving . They could be re employed as traffic wardens where they could irritate a larger number of people and not damage the cruise's reputation. For some reason the hot tubs were often closed for cleaning - even on Christmas Day - is there no planning or consideration given to the days on which this happens? Ship maintenance, such as refreshing of paint, occurred during day hours. Why? Wouldn't it be easier to do this at 5am or when passengers are sleeping rather than make paying passengers move this lounge chair during the day to accommodate ship repairs? The kindergarten now operates a nonsensical process for signing the kids in and out and this needs to be looked at. As it stands a cruise card with a kids club sticker on it is "worth" a child and a signature the same as the one on that card is the only thing required to release the child. If there really is such a problem a picture of the parents maybe more worthwhile. I suspect the process was engineered by someone at a desk with a pen but little or no practical experience. The itinerary worked well except from Christmas Eve in Dominica. As you may know it rains there a lot so to organise Santa's arrival on the open deck as we left was frankly stupid, it was always going to rain and of course the entire event, witnessed by hundreds of families, was a complete wash out. Clearly a different port or venue or time was needed. At Tortola the dock is being rebuilt and is closed for the duration. The itinerary suggested it was a "possible tender" port. It's a definite tender and those on deck 9 should have been warned of the very loud noise and shuddering vibration a 7am when the tenders are launched. To be fair the tender process seemed to worked ok but there is no need to go there at all until the dock is built - there are lots of other islands. There were too many formal nights - 4 in total. This was way too many and should be re thought on family cruises. Given the fact we all had to fly in with the accompanying baggage problems, a clear dress code itinerary would have been useful ahead of the cruise, sadly it's not provided. The passengers were an eclectic mix of pensioners, couples and families with older and or younger children, some of whom were well heeled educated types and many others who could be described as "tattooed wonders", some of the later may perhaps be better served at a guest house in Blackpool or Butlins. I realise P&O is not going to conduct IQ tests on the passengers at the pier prior to boarding but I recommend they think of something before the entire cruise resembles a remand centre. There were too many smokers onboard and now may be the time to ban smoking completely. This would discourage those who need budget fares and relieve non smokers of ash, smell, and dirty ash trays which ruin otherwise useful deck areas. I noticed on a number of occasions that "housekeeping" was not as it could be with abandoned coffee cups left in halls for many hours and festering nappies in lifts. Some of this will be as result of the passenger mix but P&O should know who they sold the cruise to and prepare accordingly. Throughout the cruise the air conditioning did don't seem to work too well. Cruise ships in my experience are typically really quite cool inside but the Ventura was always warm. Even with the AC set to minimum in the cabin it was often too warm to sleep and other passengers who commented on the issue suggested it was a cost cutting measure..... P&O offer what amounts to late check out of the cabin to those who wish to pay for it. The process for this defies belief - as after paying £85 you have to leave the room you've had to the last fortnight together with your hand luggage at 9am and come back an hour later to room a few doors along the hall. If a good hotel offers late check out they let you have the room you are in - it saves preparing it again - and often they do not charge either. On this cruise all the passengers arrive on flights in the later afternoon and those going home need to leave before that. The only explanation for devising such a scheme is to collect cash and generate work for the stewards, it really is that silly. The additional cost restaurants are multiplying - and getting pricey. We went to the "Beach House" where even the burger is £2 extra - over and above the £6 you've just already agreed to. The place is ok but really you should stay with the dining room. Many of the other dining places are much more money and where often empty. Breakfast in the dining room was a slow a prescriptive saga and I see no reason to go there. The buffet arrangement upstairs seems better with plentiful if rather average food but often a shortage of tables unless you go out on the deck and sit in the cigarette smoke and ashtrays. P&O now serve Costa coffee which is big improvement on the liquid served in the buffet. Given their quest to charge for everything they can they should serve it at all the bars and for breakfast at a "nominal charge" of course. The buffet lunches were a bit tedious with the menu only changing a little each day and offering some bizarre choices for a Carribean cruise including faggots and a hotpot! On deck they serve burgers and hotdogs which are quite good but again the lack of tables either with or without smokers is an issue. The reception desk staff were typically polite but often could not answer many questions sensibly and they also had a habit of not answering the phone at all. P&O want you to buy a "wine" package for dinner but while this appears to offer some value the chosen wines are not good and the wine list selection is a better bet albeit at extra cost The beauty parlour prices where laughably high and it's hard to imagine anybody paying them. The return flights on Thomas Cook were only just about acceptable and only because we paid extra for Premium seats. The economy looked too cramped for an 8 hour flight and the food and drink are extra back there too. To add to this if you want to sit together as a family you have to pay another £15 each - each way - £90 for a family of 3!. This is a rip off and those concerned should be ashamed of such fees on families who have, in some cases, already paid £8000+. The gratuity policy appears now to involve charging every adult £55 (for the 2 week cruise) to there account and this covers the gratuities, however what is less clear is who gets the money, how much of it and what happens if you choose to opt out of the £55 deal. I asked for the money to be credited back to the account and it was and I gave cash to the room steward and dining room waiter and his assistant, but if more than those 3 were about to receive from me did they do without and in any event who were they and what is it they did for me? As with so many other silly fees in this world P&O should scrap the gratuity like they have with the one on the bar bill and pay their, largely excellent, service staff a sensible wage. As Ryan Air will tell you making people mad will not generate repeat passengers and P&O should take a good look at what they are doing before the policies get any worse..... I expect I will sail with P&O again - we are booked already but the Ventura will not be on my shortlist and P&O need to sort themselves out if I am to stay a loyal passenger. I am hoping the issues only relate to the Ventura but I am not hopeful.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was ... Read More
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was edible enough. On arrival at Barbados we were promptly escorted on to a A/C bus and driven to the cruise terminal. this usually takes about 45Mins, our driver decided to take the back roads and we arrived within 20 mins. Check in at the cruise terminal is my only bug bear, there must be a simplier system and I feel all passengers should be offered refreshments whilst we wait in line. especially after such a long journey. I really hate been asked to have a photo taken as we board the ship for the first time.! Who wants a picture taken after travelling so long. As we had been on Ventura several times before, we were able to locate our cabins very quickly. Cabins were clean and tidy and adequate foe all our needs A202,A206 balcony cabins deck 12. Cabin boy quickly introduced himself. we noticed our beds had been set up incorrectly, this was mentioned and was sorted upon our return several hours later. Cases arrived very quickly. Within an hour of arriving my youngest was ready to sign up to the Kids clubs. I was happy to be advised that the 9-12 yrs now had to be signed in and out { this wasnt the case previous years and i was a little dubious) I for one would not want my nearly 10 yr old wandering out around the boat whenever he felt he wanted to. I wasnt really impressed with the stickers attached to our cruise cards as they allowed only us to pick up our child. My older son is nearly 17 and I would have like to have been able to send him to pick up the younger one on the odd occasion. As usual the kids club staff were fantastic, i struggle to get my son to spend time with us on the cruise as he loves kids club so much. These staff do a brilliant job with them. I get a little fed up with some reviewers moaning about kids splashing in the pool and wandering around the ship. My kids are very well behaved and in all honesty never saw any unruly kids, but it's there holiday too its a xmas cruise, if you don't like kids dont' go on a family friendly ship. There are plenty of adult only cruises to choose from. I wasn't impressed with the pool attendants this year , they were like the naughty police and really were not needed. They just spoilt the fun for everyone. We had Freedom dining, got a table everytime. Food was adequate but not great. Enjoyed all of the specialised eateries, The white room, east and the glass house. I was disappointed that a surcharge had been added to eat at the beach hut. A little too greedy P & O. The way passengers have to queue to be allocated at table for Christmas day and new years eve, is disgusting. I personally queued for 2.5 hours, other up to 4 hours. The have immigration to a tee why can't they do the same for the tables for special days ???? Entertainment was ok. Really enjoyed Paul Eastwood the comedian and Robbie Williams tribute. A little disappointed with everything else. There is so much talent out there, why are P & O not finding it. We had excursions from the ship but we also did some of our own trips, all thoroughly enjoyed. Enjoyed all the Islands. My only other complaint is the films on the interactive TV, Jaws is over 20 years old we should'nt have to be paying for films at all after what we pay for the cruise in the first place. We are booked to go on the Xmas cruise on Brittannia I hope P & O are taking notes of everyone's concerns as certain things do need revampling. Other than a few hiccups we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on this cruise. I certainly would rather be on the lively Ventura than the boring block of high rise flats docked at the side of us on St Maarten.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were ... Read More
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were happy with our balcony cabin on B deck and this was kept immaculate by our Steward Edward. Overall this was one of the best cruises we have done with wall to wall sunshine for the whole trip. We thought the quality and quantity of the food and also the quality of service had improved since the previous Christmas and also the standard of dress of the passengers was very high. Many ladies and girls opted for long dresses or cocktail wear even on the non-formal nights. Also on formal nights there were more men in evening dress than previously. So we were well happy. In the evenings we drank mainly in the Glasshouse or Tamarind. Prices seem to have held since the previous year both for drinks and meals in the speciality restaurants although they have introduced a cover charge for the Beach House restaurant in the evenings. This clearly had the effect of reducing the once mandatory queuing to zero and on the evening we ate there, hardly any other diners. The one blot on the proceedings was the requirement to queue to reserve your dining times for Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. I was near the front of the queue and it still took 1.5 hours for me to be seen to. Some people were queuing for up to 4.5 hours. This is appalling and P&O need to find another way of addressing this matter for example by using Cruise Personaliser. Like many others we will not be on Ventura for Christmas 2015 as we will all be on the Britannia. All in all an excellent cruise on the home from home Ventura . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and ... Read More
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and flew out from Manchester T1 early on the 6/12/2014. The chartered flights with Thomas Cook airlines went very smoothly, good quality food and service and the fact that this was chartered by P&O which meant we loaded the cases in Manchester and then didn't touch them again until they arrived at our cabin door on the ship made the flying experience really great. We arrived in Barbados to gorgeous warm sunshine and where then off loaded by P&O directly onto the transfer coach and taken directly to the port, no hassle with customs etc. on arrival at the ship we then went through a short process to take our photographs, present our credit card and be issued with our boarding cards. Again this was very swift and professional. The ship as an awesome site, biggest that we have been on. The cabin allocation again was swift but we did encounter a problem in the cabin with the set out of sleeping arrangements, we had requested a double room but where allocated a twin and unfortunately this couldn't be changed to a double due to the configuration of the lamps attached to the bedside tables, this was the main weak area of the service we received as INfeltvthat P&O didn't do enough to rectify the fault.. The facilities on board are great, choice of 4 swimming pools, plenty of sun beds, great waiter service, brilliant gym, sauna, spa and plenty of places where you could escape and relax. Food on board was good, plenty of choice and most of it served 24/7. We also used the Beech House for a small surcharge which was good, the MarconPierre and Athol Cuutcher restaraunts also seemed nice. We had early dining in the Bay Tree restaraunt at 6:30 which we found too early. Service again was outstanding but portions where a little small. Evening entertainment was good, we did the theatre after dinner then onto an internal bar such as Havanah, Tamarind or Metropolis and finish off the night with a few drinks on deck. The Headliners theatre company who performed in the theatre are a must to see, as is a comedian by the name of John Martin. Beer pric scare not bad but be aware that some of the bars do not serve draft beer, only from cans or bottles. We did feel that entertainment on board overall wasn't as good in some areas as on the Thomson ships. We where also a little disappointed by the formal evenings which didn't seem to be a celebration of a special event unlike the Thomson ships. The ship overall is neat and tidy, consistently cleaned, quite spacious and modern. The ports we visited on our Itinerary where good although some are up and coming ports which do need further development, the nicest places where St Maarten, Tortola, Curaçao, Bonaire and of course Barbados. I do still struggle to understand why the ships sail so early ( 5pm ) from some ports when the next port is only a short distance, we would have loved to stay ashore at places like St Marrten and Curaçao to get a taste of the nightlife. Same withnthe 2 days at sea on the return journey to Barbados, we could've called at one more stop on the way. All of the islands accept the US dollar but be aware that a couple of places have their own dollar so some change could be given in this currency which can only be spent on that Island. In Barbados also most prices are quoted in Barbados dollars to which there are 2 to every US dollar, make sure you ask when buying something or quoting a price for a taxi. You also need to try the flying fish in Barbados, yummy. The people in the Carribean can't do enough for you, very friendly and eager to help. Taxis are positioned at each port as well as numerous tours etc which are priced reasonably, the Beaches are stunning, the water is just as you imagine in a brochure and the climate is a steady 27 to 28 day and night, the humidity takes a bit of getting used too as does the 4 hour time difference.. Overall our first experience with P&O was good although we did feel that it could have been better, we do love the Carribean and will re visit. We would recommend P&O cruises to others and will be cruising again with them   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to ... Read More
I am sure some of the views on these forums, reflect what some might have thought a cruise today would be the same as in the 1950's!!! Today the ships are on a huge scale, and the clientele far removed from that era. The flights to Venice and from Genoa were on time, and the P&O team at each end were superb, baggage checked in and then the next one sees it - it is in the cabin. Cabin steward was good, polite, although we kept it tidy so all he had to do was re-arrange / new towels etc. There were two beach towels in the cabin, and more available in the ' spa ' changing room - which would answer a previous complaint in a review- that persom did not look far enough. We dined in the Cinnamon Restaurant, and thought the choice and standard high.We did try the White Room, and yes £25 cover charge, was it worth it, YES for a one off experience, as we were able to dine outside, the ambiece was superb, and a few foodie extras thrown in too, service was brilliant, the food was exceptional, really enyoyed it, we lingered and whay not. The ship is big and it took the week to find one's way around, the ' observation deck ' at the front front on Lido deck was not listed in the leaflet, found it by chance - and a great viewing area. The Theatre is very good, on two deck levels, ( far better than on the Oceana- just a minor point ) we went to the two ' Headliner shows' good singers, and how they change the costumes so many times in seconds is beyond me !!! well done. The '' 4 Tunes '' four guys singing in harmony were outstanding, again we managed their two shows. Ports of call - Kotor by tender- and a trip up the mountain, the 25 bends are NOT for the faint hearted. Rome - we did the Tuscania village trip, beautiful countryside, a very relaxing morning, good wine too at the olive grove farm, and olive oil to purchase too. Corfu & Corsica - suggest just go on foot around the towns, the walk up to the old fort in Corfu, and lunch there was a highlight. P&O do offer very good value for money, the prices on board are in £'s and in my opinion the drinks prices are very reasonable, this is my 2nd P&O cruise. My suggestion - avoid the buffet restaurants, just people not knowing where they are going or what they want- food quality fine though. We did NOT enjoy a might in the Beach House resaurant- menu disappointing. We chose freedon dining- which is ideal, and usually had a table for two, but no problemd sharing as we did from time to time. Afternoon tea in the Saffron was of a high standard. We did use the ' adults ' only oasis pool - although as slightly out of school holidays few children on the ship. The sun loungers are close together and there IS the towel on the sunbed syndrome, which P&O DO need to address. Would I use P&O again - certainly yes, would like to try the Britannia when she comes on stream.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and myself have just returned from a very disappointing Christmas & New Year cruise on Ventura. Disappointing to the point that we also will never cruise with P & O again. This is our fourth Caribbean cruise. We ... Read More
My husband and myself have just returned from a very disappointing Christmas & New Year cruise on Ventura. Disappointing to the point that we also will never cruise with P & O again. This is our fourth Caribbean cruise. We stupidly booked through P & O and we were totally ripped off - we booked "the last cabin" (14 months ago) which unfortunately was inside and were assured that because we had booked directly with them we would certainly be upgraded. Of course it didn't happen. We were told that there were no upgrades and yet we met many people who had been upgraded without requesting it on embarkation day. So the choice of having a relaxing time watching the world go by was denied to us. The buffet lunches were very monotonous curry, curry or curry with the odd stew now and then. The self service area itself is very small and cramped. We ate in the cinnamon restaurant every night and the choice of food was ok, steaks were cooked exactly as we requested and the service was excellent. The main thing that ruined our holiday was the gangs of teenagers ( who's parents obviously couldn't care less where they were or what they were up to ) it was like being thrown onto the set of TOWIE or Made in Chelsea. Kids lying around drunk, throwing each other in the pool after one too many cocktails and gypsy wedding type girls crying because NYE was a disaster for them as they hadn't pulled ! We avoided the top decks because of all this but we still had to step over the occasional body on the stairs !! There was never any security present and I am amazed none of these out of control teens didn't end up over board to be honest. We were also disappointed with the service on deck 7 which was non-existent until disembarkation day when half a dozen crew sit in the arena chatting and popped out now and then to make sure they get the last bit of money they can from you. We certainly didn't have to fetch our own drinks that day! There was even a nice cream man - we hadn't seen him at all during the cruise ! Smokers were definitely catered for - we had a job to find anywhere to relax without having smoke blown in our faces - deck 7 at least had one side which was non smoking. We tried to go up to the oasis spa exclusive area for peace without cigarette smoke but although it was empty, we were told it was completely booked out ! We never found out what the extra cost was for peace and quiet ! Also, If you do decide to try Ventura don't expect much from the onboard shops they are truly basic and vastly overpriced. Announcements from the bridge were regular, Captain Carr is a marvelous delegator - I'm not sure he ever docked or sailed away (which always included a reference to 'winding up the big elastic band' and encouraging us all to grab a gin and tonic) but I for one always felt safe. The highlight of the whole on board experience was the Panto which the crew put on for us - absolutely fab! Unfortunately, we will be looking at other cruise companies for our next cruise - we paid for a luxury christmas cruise which fell short of our expectations on many levels. You can't beat cruising the Caribbean - the majority of the Islands are amazingly beautiful but apart from the locations We could have spent the festive season at The Blue Water Centre still surrounded by chavs and chavettes but at least the shopping choice would have been better. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of ... Read More
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of 'foodies' who like the occasional glass of wine and I think we are representative of most working families in the UK. With regards to the food, which appears to be a common thread for some complaints, I think that there are a multitude of options available to suit everybody at lunchtime. Yes, there is always a curry, or two, but these are extremely popular with most passengers and are on the menu because of customer demand. Alternatives are the extremely popular and good quality salad bar, a range of cheeses and biscuits as well as fresh bread buns, a BBQ grill, pizzeria and silver service dining. The silver service restaurants on an evening offer two menus; a 'classic menu' which contains old favourites such as prawn cocktail, tomato soup and other options to start with, followed by a salmon dish, steak or chicken. In addition there was a menu of the day which changed daily. We ate venison, guinea fowl, goose and a good range of fish dishes. Not once did we have a poor meal. The meals on Christmas night and New Years Eve were excellent. I genuinely fail to see how people are disappointed with the food. Our only misgiving is the fact that P&O have introduced the concept of pre-plated meals in the dining rooms so your meal comes with the vegetables already on the plate, as does the cheeseboard. This does make the dining experience slightly less special as it isn't conducive to 'fine dining'. We always sat on deck 7 beside the Beachcomber pool and there were always plenty of staff from whom to order drinks. There were always a high number of drinks staff on duty on the poolside and in the bars and restaurants. There was a high number of children and teenagers on the cruise. Some parents clearly had no idea where their offspring were or what they were doing. We did see a rowdy group in the swimming pool but they were stopped by an officer within a few minutes. We did see groups of teenagers sprawled on the floor in the buffet restaurant on one occasion late at night and commented that they should have been told to sit at a table. On previous cruises we have been aware of youth security officers patrolling the ship whose job it is to monitor groups of youths but we didn't see any on this cruise. That said, I regularly saw youth staff clearing groups of kids away from the stairs and lifts. Overall it is a family cruise during a school holiday and there are always going to be a number of passengers under the age of 18 and the majority were well behaved and polite. There were 12 lifts on board and one was out of service but that left 11 remaining. Having had many conversations with other passengers all but two said that they had had a fabulous time and loved every facet of their cruise (apart from Dominica). The two dissenters gave me the impression that they would have found always something to complain about. The staff were excellent and attentive but not to the point of being obsequious. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ... Read More
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ship and this was efficient but a little slow. We were on E deck with a restricted cabin view. Our cabin was comfortable and kept clean by Dennis, our steward. Our overall impression of the Ventura was good, offering excellent entertainment and the entertainment team did their utmost to ensure everyone enjoyed themselves. One of the best nights was the pantomime, it was a great laugh and even the staff enjoyed doing it. Overall the restaurant staff were very friendly and the food quality and menu choices were excellent. Only one little criticism was that the waiters should all be trained in the same way to ensure that the female orders are taken before the male orders and that the food should be served from the side rather than across people. We enjoyed freedom dining as it gave us greater flexibility. We did feel that the price of the professional photographs at £9.95 were rather expensive and unfortunately some of the ones we liked were slightly blurred and not worth the money. We also were happy with the prices of drinks on board and the offer of soda packages and would have welcomed a draft beer package! and it was good to see everything priced in pounds. We returned from Bonaire to Barbados in one day instead of two due to a medical emergency and we do hope that the person involved makes a speedy recovery. We thoroughly enjoyed the combination of ports we visited and since we have returned we have already made a booking for December 2014 on Ventura for the same dates so this proves it was a good holiday and we look forward to meeting up with people from this cruise. Overall a great atmosphere on board for Christmas and New Year with a very Great British sail away from Bonaire. We are both nearing our 60s and were amazed that people have complained about the younger generation being loud and drunk. We feel this comment was not fully justifiable as we only came across a couple of younger drunk people late on New Year's Eve. Considering this was a Christmas cruise we felt the young people should allowed to enojoy themselves and they caused us any problems.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the ... Read More
We were first introduced to cruising back in 2002 by my dad who would only ever sail with P&O and we last sailed with them on Aurora in 2006. Since then we have cruised with both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and I always told the passengers on those cruises that P&O were still the best. So this year we chose to return to P&O on the Ventura, what a shock we got!!.Standards in all areas have fallen dramatically especially the food. Food selection for both breakfast and lunch in the Waterside was very limited and the service area chaotic.This was the first ever cruise my wife lost weight instead of putting it on!! No wonder P&O seem to get bad press for Norovirus the lack of hand hygiene regime was the worst I ever experienced and when I challenged the head waiter why no member of staff was giving out hand gel as on other ships he said that he had been cut back so much on staff he could no longer provide that service. The other big let down was the poor organisation of getting off the ship by tender at Cannes. It was so slow we gave up and this was the only port we really wanted to visit. There are also no live port talks, again another cutback. Entertainment was generally good but as another reviewer stated the noise level was so high we some nights had to leave the theatre to escape the screeching of some of the performers. If P&O continue their policy of discounting and reducing standards I am sure many of their loyal old customers will desert them. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
My husband, son (13 years) and I have just recently returned from a fantastic holiday aboard the Ventura sailing around the many beautiful islands of the Eastern Caribbean! Feel I need to write a review as we had such a wonderful time ... Read More
My husband, son (13 years) and I have just recently returned from a fantastic holiday aboard the Ventura sailing around the many beautiful islands of the Eastern Caribbean! Feel I need to write a review as we had such a wonderful time aboard this ship. Firstly, we flew with Thomson Airlines direct from Newcastle which was a treat being a direct flight of only 8.5 hours. The embarkation was very smooth and efficient and we weren't long exploring our home (ship) for the next two weeks. We found the Ventura to be very organised, clean with lots of helpful staff. Unfortunately there was a bout of Norovirus onboard as we embarked, but this situation was handled very well by P&O. Extra staff were in the buffet areas, where you were not allowed to handle any of the utensils. The staff served you. Antibacterial hand gel was strictly enforced, not only in the buffet, but in the main restaurants also. Within a couple of days, P&O advised there were no more reported cases of Norovirus and all usual facilities had resumed. Excellent points.... -Saffron Restaurant -- absolutely wonderful food (5 courses) each evening. My husband is a fussy eater. Here he always found such wonderful dishes on the menu. -Breakfast in the buffet. Always fully stocked even until late breakfast (around 11.30am) -East (Asian restaurant) -- we sat for lunch one day which we found to be very pleasant and enjoyable. -Ramblas (Tapas restaurant) -- again a pleasant treat with just a very small cover charge. -Drinks -- very reasonably priced including bottles of wine, which were enjoyed each evening at dinner. -The entertainment was fabulous in the Arena Theatre. We watched excellent comedians to a vocalist from the 'Foundations' in the 60's to the brilliant 'Headliners' Entertainment team. -We required a replacement bulb in our room. I called through to reception and within 5 minutes the maintenance team had it replaced. Overall, I would rate P&O 10/10. Mostly enjoyed and I will definitely book with this company again. We have sailed with Princess Cruises previously and find P&O to be just as good. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Have just returned from our fist ever cruise over the xmas period on the Ventura. only booked it 2 weeks before sailing, so got a very good deal. Overall the ship is fine,but there are a few things that I think PO could look into. We ... Read More
Have just returned from our fist ever cruise over the xmas period on the Ventura. only booked it 2 weeks before sailing, so got a very good deal. Overall the ship is fine,but there are a few things that I think PO could look into. We arrived in Barbados somewhat late due to the flight being delayed for over 2 hours (thomas cook). Bye the time we got to the port, it was already dark, and the checkin queue was quite long, not what you need after a 9 hour flight. The cabin was fine, but had to go and eat wearing the same clothes as we had travelled in as cases did not turn up till a few hours later.The Waterside is ok, but I think the trays are a waste of time, because if you get salad, soup and dinner all in one go, the already luke warm dinner is going to be cold time you eat it! And why do they put the soup at the end of the buffet selection? We was told on our paperwork we had freedom dining, but card in the cabin said we were on 1st sitting on a table of 8. We prefer smaller tables so after querying this at the restaurant was told freedom was full, but was given a table for 2.So that was ok. We did not find out till 2 days before the end of the cruise that the Beechhouse did waiter service evening meal, but its the same menu every night, and they only serve about 50 at a time, so you have to queue well before 6 for the 6.30 opening time to make sure of getting a seat. Only used it once, but it was good, all freshly cooked , so no complaints On the first day at sea, I did not go on deck till quite late, and could not find a sunbed in the sun anywhere, ,ended up in the shade at the back of the ship. Think you needed to put your stuff on a bed about 6am, if you wanted to be near a pool, even though they say no reserving of sunbeds, nobody takes any notice, and I never saw any staff removing items, as stated they would. The entertainment was a bit hit and miss, to much singing and dancing, and you needed to get in the Havana early to get a decent seat, or you ended up behind the walls! not being able to see much at all. Why have they got stupid partitions, or why are they not lower? Yes I do agree the staff are not as friendly as other ships ive been on, and I dont think one of our dinner waiters smiled once the whole time he served us. Also on the first 2 occasions I ordered steak, was not given a steak knive, and when I mentioned it on the 3rd occasion, Mr Grumpy said I should have asked for one! We had a day at Catalina Island, which is just a beach with a few tacky shops, but has a huge BBQ cooking area, which the ships crew are supposed to use for the lunch. But by 1pm, there was no sign of any BBQ being prepared, so if you wanted anything to eat , it was back to the ship (a tender job). We found out later that the hygeine officer had visited the cooking area before we all went ashore, and was not satisfied with it, so no BBQ! So they knew before we all went over, but there were no announcements made on the ship telling us. Would I go on the Ventura again, only if it was a bargain price, but prefer other cruise companies Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was the 28th cruise my husband and I have been on. We have sailed with several of the better-known cruise lines and this was our 4th with P & O. Having read many of the negative reviews about Ventura on Cruise Critic I must ... Read More
This was the 28th cruise my husband and I have been on. We have sailed with several of the better-known cruise lines and this was our 4th with P & O. Having read many of the negative reviews about Ventura on Cruise Critic I must say that, while we were looking forward to our Caribbean cruise in general (the 5th one we've done), it was with some trepidation that we embarked Ventura having heard it referred to as "Chav City" and "Butlins at Sea". However, we were pleasantly surprised as it turned out to be better than expected, although I would still agree that it is maybe not quite up to P & O's usual standard. I think they are trying to attract younger cruisers (instead of the usual 50+ age group that most cruise lines seem to cater for) so the ship and entertainment programme has been geared towards the 30-40 age group and more mainstream holiday maker. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I would say that the exclusivity usually associated with cruising does not apply to the Ventura. However, I think that the complaints listed here on Cruise Critic did not apply to our cruise on the whole. The ship was clean and in a good state of repair, the (mainly Indian) cabin stewards, waiters and bar staff were all very friendly and helpful, and there was a good selection of hot and cold food. The entertainment was also very good and there was a choice of venues and shows, so there was something for everyone. As it was the school holidays I expected the ship to be overrun with screaming kids but, pleasantly, this was not the case. We had a balcony cabin on deck 11. It was very spacious with twin beds pushed together to form a king-size bed. The balcony had a sliding door (which we tended to leave open overnight as I hate the drying effects of air conditioning) and two chairs, a foot stool and a small table. The wardrobe was a little strange, being directly opposite the bathroom and having no door; just a rail to hang your clothes. I found the lighting to be poor in the cabin; the position of the lights and the brightness was not very good for applying makeup. I was also disappointed with the selection of toiletries; gone are the Temple Spa ones we've had on P & O before and in their place was a generic brand of shampoo and conditioner which was not replenished when finished. There was also a refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities. The cabin steward kept the room clean and tidy each day and filled our ice bucket on a daily basis. We had requested a table for six in the Bay Tree restaurant as we enjoy the social interaction with our fellow passengers. However, we only saw one couple on our table once during the entire cruise! The remaining diner was an elderly gent of 85 who, while being very pleasant, did not really have anything in common with us. Not P & O's fault though. The food in the Bay Tree was excellent and was served promptly and cheerfully. We found the Captain's Gala Reception a bit of a farce; it was held in the atrium on and around the staircase and over three levels! Unlike Cunard ships, the Ventura does not have a ballroom or other venue large enough for the number of passengers so it held the captain's bash in reception. Strange! The entertainment in the main show lounge (the Arena) was pretty good on the whole. All of the seats in the Arena had little fold-out tables stashed in the arm for you to place your drinks on, and the waiters usually served us very quickly. Shows were on twice each night; once at 8.30pm and again at 10.30pm for the second sitting diners. If you didn't want to watch the show in the main theatre an alternative cabaret was on in the Havana Lounge. However, we found that the Havana Lounge was very badly designed for watching live entertainment; the room has pillars and partitions (OK if you were standing but difficult to see over the top of if you were sitting). It meant there was a mass scramble for seats each night and people coming into the lounge late tended to move their tables and chairs to better vantage points, often inconsiderately blocking the views of people who were already seated there. This happened on a regular basis and soon became quite tiresome. Some evenings we went to The Exchange, the ship's English pub. We nicknamed it "Wetherspoon's" as the design and layout of it reminded us of this well-known pub chain. Each night there was a themed quiz and occasionally karaoke or the resident band which were pretty good. Drinks prices were not too bad, not much more than regular pub prices. One little curiosity is a model train that runs around the top of the bar, passing stations along the east coast main line. The top-most bar/lounge on Ventura is called Metropolis and featured a famous city's skyline projected onto the plasma-screen wall each night which gave an unusual effect. It was understated and relaxing in Metropolis if you just want somewhere quite for some reflection. There are two main swimming pools on Ventura, one of which has a retracting roof which was opened during the day. The larger pool featured a couple of jacuzzis and was where the deck parties were held. I didn't really enjoy the deck parties; they tended to be extremely crowded and the sound system used for the live music must have been designed for the Albert Hall because it was far too LOUD and distorted the singer's voice. The Ventura is a large ship at 115,000 tons. However, she is not large enough for the 3,078 passengers she carries. Compare to the QM2 which is much bigger at 151,000 tons and with 2,400 passengers. I did find crowds everywhere I looked on Ventura, but to be fair we didn't have the problems with queueing and sunbed hogging that have been mentioned in other reviews of the ship. On the whole we really enjoyed our cruise and the Caribbean islands we visited (Barbados, Aruba, Caracao, Grand Turk, Tortola, St Maarten, St Lucia, St Kitts and Grenada). Personally I would not cruise on Ventura again as I prefer smaller ships with fewer passengers, but that is my own personal preference; we certainly didn't have any issues with the ship, service, cleanliness, politeness of staff or quality of food and entertainment mentioned here by other reviewers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out from M/C on Sat 3 Dec to Barbados without a hitch which is more than can be said for earlier flights on Fri and those from Gatwick who seemed to have major problems and delays. Embarkation was no problem at all and handled ... Read More
We flew out from M/C on Sat 3 Dec to Barbados without a hitch which is more than can be said for earlier flights on Fri and those from Gatwick who seemed to have major problems and delays. Embarkation was no problem at all and handled well. we didn't pre book seats and luckily my ife sat directly behind me so it wasn't a problem. Not sure its worth the £50 expense for the benefit Impressed with Ventura overall, although now showing a few rough edges to common areas. Balcony Stateroom was excellent in terms of quality and comfort. Sharon our steward was also very good and we got to know her quite well. Appears to be more bars, clubs, venues on board in comparison to say Celebrity Eclipse. Very good onboard drinks prices and like the fact prices are GBP without added tax etc. Overall v good entertainment - Headliners brilliant + Freddy Mercury tribute + Fogwell Flax as Sting +. Rest much of a muchness but still above working mens club standard. We chose freedom dining which was a great choice whether you wanted to share tables or be on a 2. We used White Room to celebrate wife's birthday....excellent. Also used Ramblas which was good but menu options a bit restrictive. Food quality and choice in main dining room very good but you had to be careful about combinations as sometimes you didn't get what you expected. Buffet breakfasts and lunch OK so slong as you could work out which restaurant was open when. Bit a bun fight due to high volume of diners on occasions especially port days..not to be unexpected. Biggest criticism was with passengers adopting typical sunshine/hotel mentality of sunbed booking at ridiculous times of the day. I'll swear towels were out at the crack of dawn on sea days with nobody in site other than a towel and a book. Hence not enough sunbeds or a quicker turnround of beds. By the end of the cruise you could see more and more passengers getting frustrated. Overall, brilliant experience and would have no hesitation on sailing with PO again Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as ... Read More
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as we got on board. Thomas Cook flight from Manchester was delayed for 2 hours due to Manchester Airport closing because of a 30 minute snow flurry (yes,this is the UK). Otherwise flight fine and we were on the ship by 4pm. We had a portside balcony cabin towards the aft and this suited us fine. Plenty of storage space, comfy beds and kept clean by our cabin steward, Freddie (although the carpet could have done with the vacuum edging tool being taken around the edges by the skirting - don't think this had been done since the ship was launched). Generally the ship was clean enough and to my knowledge no one got ill from the dreaded norovirus. However, carpets in the public areas are showing signs of wear and tear with raised edges just waiting to trip someone up. This was particularly noticeable on deck 7. Also 2 people to my knowledge slipped on the floor by the main pool - one breaking her arm 2 days from the end of the cruise. So beware if you are moving around in this area. We were freedom dining. This works very well for us and we never had to wait for a table as we were always prepared to share a table - usually 6 or 8 people. The food in the Cinnamon restaurant varied from excellent to dire but the vast majority of our meals were fine. Christmas dinner was excellent, New Year's Eve dinner not quite so good. Waiter service was brisk and usually friendly and they hardly ever forgot who was having which meal. There are some cut-backs, like the "always available list" has gone although you could still ask for a steak and get it - just that if it is not advertised people don't ask for it. Also vegetables seemed restricted unless you asked for more. We didn't starve anyway. We ate in The White Room twice which was excellent - on New Years Day the menu was fixed with the appropriate wine for each course. We ate in the Beach House Diner 3 times and it was always excellent and the service also excellent. We ate once in Ramblas. This was surprisingly filling food - we could not finish the main course. We did not eat in East this time as on our previous trip on the ship we found the food good on quality but lacking on quantity. We had breakfast in the Beach House buffet which was fine - the fresh fruit being particularly nice. I had lunch in the Waterside which I always found to be very good, whether hot or cold, and the dishes varied every day. Used plates etc were cleared away promptly by the staff who I always found to be pleasant and friendly. The afternoon tea in the Waterside is everyone's downfall, the mini wraps being especially good, likewise the mince pies and Christmas cake (yum yum). Ventura now operates a system where you can buy bottles of spirits from the duty free shop on board for excellent prices (not worth getting it at Manchester airport). You can drink these spirits in your cabin and order a mixers package if you want. Otherwise we thought the wines on the ship were poor and sometimes impossible to get. For example, on our 1st 2 nights we went to Ramblas for a pre-dinner drink. Out of the 5 red wines on their bar list, 2 were not on the ship and were not expected to be on the ship for the duration of the cruise. We stopped drinking wine about 2 weeks into the trip and drank other things instead. Otherwise there is a good variety of drinks and prices of drinks are very reasonable and there is no 15% service charge added to your bill - compare this to RCI, Cunard, Celebrity, etc etc and see which is best price. We preferred the Glasshouse on the Azura to Ramblas as the Glasshouse offers a range of wines from different countries whereas Ramblas is Spanish only. The entertainment was patchy. We are not shows people and therefore were not bothered about going to the theatre (we got there once) but we do like going to see an act in, say the Havana or Tamarind club. These acts varied from downright dire to very good. However on occasions there was virtually no entertainment going on at certain times - for instance nothing on in the Tamarind at 8.30 was not uncommon. For the first week of the cruise, there was a pianist in the Red Bar between 6pm and 6.30pm. He disappeared after the first week. When we were on the ship in 2008, there was pianist in the Metropolis bar in the evenings - not this time. The piano was there but no pianist. This made the bar lifeless. Other cutbacks were evident - this is the first Caribbean cruise we have been on where there was no steel band or reggae band for the duration of the cruise. There was a steel band when the ship was in Barbados but they disappeared when the ship sailed. When we were in St Lucia the first time (we visited here twice in the month), the cruise director announced he had managed to get a steel band for the afternoon - big deal. P&O also seem to think that they can provide entertainment courtesy of the passengers - the passengers' choir - which was for Christmas Day only on the Azura - was utilized on several occasions, which meant that the participants sometimes had to juggle their evening meals to fit in with the performances. Ventura operates a 2 tier dress code - black tie and "Evening casual". The latter is supposed to make it clearer for what people can wear. It had the opposite effect and there was a lot of grumbling amongst passengers about the state of some people's dress - I would not have worn some of the stuff to go shopping at Tesco. Of course you will always get a small number of people who think it is smart to ignore the black tie dress code and turn up in jeans, polo shirts etc for dinner. One evening, the barman reminded a male passenger that it was black tie for evening. The barman was totally ignored. I don't know why these people go on ships which have the black tie code - why don't they go on NCL or Carnival? We spent lazy days on deck 19 -the old Cirque deck but now without the bungee which means there is now a lot more room up there for sunbeds. We hardly got off the ship as we had been to all the islands before. The weather throughout was marvellous - just a couple of half days of rain and one day which was dull in all 28 days. You could not have asked for better. We had a lovely cruise and would not have any hesitation about going on Ventura again. Of course, there was a fair share of moaners - just like on any ship but the funniest one I heard was a lady in front of me at the Waterwide lunch buffet who complained that the knives and forks were too heavy and could she have some which were lighter. It was very hard not to laugh. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
After a christmas cruise on the arcadia 5 years ago which was superb we decided to try P&O again and booked the christmas cruise on the Ventura. This being our 18th cruise on various cruise lines, we do know the standard to expect. ... Read More
After a christmas cruise on the arcadia 5 years ago which was superb we decided to try P&O again and booked the christmas cruise on the Ventura. This being our 18th cruise on various cruise lines, we do know the standard to expect. After a good flight all be it delayed we arrived in Barbados early evening.We were transferred immediately from the airport but had a long delay sat at the port on the coach, not what you want after a long flight. To our surprise when eventually on board we find out we have been upgraded to a balcony cabin from an inside cabin.Very nice thank you, but we found out later people had paid for 4 weeks what we had for 2 weeks as we booked 20 months in advance. The ship itself was fine although due to its different layout from other ships took a while to work out.The entertainment we found was okay although as in our previous cruise their were no well known celebrities.. The ports of call were fine but there were too many days at sea. The ship seemed to be cleaned early morning and then never again, one of the dirtiest ship's we have ever been on. Toilets not cleaned and by evening the paper hand towels were all over the floor. Trays of food left in the corridors all day. On deck the tables were not cleared quick enough. Dirty carpets all around the ship. Days at sea were very stressful as 50% of sun beds had towels left on them at 7am for most of the day which no staff ever moved' Our major problem was the food. The main restaurant was an experience you would want to forget. We had the worst Christmas dinner we have ever had. The standard of food was pub grub at best, not what you'd expect Poor quality and badly cooked. The buffet had theme nights but had very little choice, lunch or dinner but the breakfast buffet was very good if what you wanted was a traditional English breakfast.We tried the White Room and found very nice but not worth the £20 cover charge. If you travel with Celebrity or Holland and America you would get this as standard every night. We enjoyed EAST but would have liked a little more choice. This to me proved they could cook quality if you paid extra for it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Starting with the positives: All Ports of call made up for the short falls of P & O. St.Marten take water taxi to beach great shops typical port duty free. Grand Turk dune buggy excursion great but island small so don't waste ... Read More
Starting with the positives: All Ports of call made up for the short falls of P & O. St.Marten take water taxi to beach great shops typical port duty free. Grand Turk dune buggy excursion great but island small so don't waste money on any island tours, beach great but take to right of quay for seclusion. Shops good. Tortola 16$ pp gets a shared taxi to Great cane beach or Brewster's beach if you want less crowds be careful of crashing waves a few sore faces and a very bad injury to a fellow cruiser sadly. St Kitts railway not to be missed very popular so book early rum punch on board train very strong pina colada bliss. Antigua treated ourselves to helicopter ride to Montserrat to view volcano and abandoned villages glad we didn't miss this holiday highlight. St Lucia went in shared taxi to waterfalls and volcanic spring also good views of Pitons quite a bit of travelling wish we had taken boat trip to view Pitons instead roads very winding. Dominica went on excursion with PO to TiTou gorge (pirates of caribbean two shot here)and hot springs escape fantastic and if you land lucky and get Elephant and Cammy as guides they may tell you some jokes too blue for general airing but great fun.St Vincent got taxi to wallibou beach scene of pirates of Caribbean one, our driver also took us to wallibou falls, botanical gardens and Port Charlotte thanks Vivienne and it cost just 20$ pp bargain. Then sadly to Barbados at end of cruise went to Harrison's caves the 8Th wonder of the world but a tad too commercial. Negatives now: Cabin L255 at great location on lido deck and you wake up to great views most mornings. You also get good view to crows nest. We were on second dining at 830pm waiters never even introduced themselves!! company at table was exceptional and we made great friends. Unfortunately if you choose second sitting on night of shows at 8pm and 1030 there is no chance you can view them standing room only so a bit of a raw deal here. General buffet breakfast and lunch hard to get seats and waiters too slow to clear tables very seldom smile and cleanliness poor hardly clean tables between guests. Very British plain fare served, you definitely wont starve but repetitive.Cereal bowls always hot!! Sun beds impossible to get even though you are not allowed to reserve them selfish cruisers do there was even a proper fight between guests about this not very good PO should do something about this to save future disputes IE attendants? decks always had empty plates glasses lying around for ages with staff walking past them !!Also we were leaving on Saturday and we had to attend immigration at 7am on Friday, again no shows on Friday only entertainment worth seeing was on LIDO deck at 10pm we don't finish diner till after 10 so missed that! ship like ghost ship on Friday night no atmosphere on what should have been a fun last evening we were lucky to have good friends to enjoy socialising with on last night. Also had to vacate cabin at 9am on departure day and didn't get picked up till 2pm so last two days of holiday not so relaxing. Having said all that still managed to have lovely holiday but it was more down to ports of call, fantastic weather and a lovely circle of friends. If P&O want to keep customers returning they need to step up there service. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft cabin was lovely, except for the broken drawer, and had a large balcony. Tea and coffee making facilities were a boon and very welcome early morning, whilst getting ready for dinner and late at night before retiring. Socorro, our cabin steward, kept everything ship shape except for the broken drawer which attempted to kick me several times. Oh and did I mention the frilled half moon balcony mat which tripped me up a couple of times. I moved it. Not all the service staff had read P & O's 'be friendly to the cruisers' booklet but on average they were fine even if some appeared preoccupied or fed up. Maybe they were thinking of the Caribbean, who wouldn't, the ship's next destination. The food was lovely and varied. However I never got a piece of decent toast or a fried egg to my liking. Must have gone to the Buffet at the wrong time, so my fault both were elusive. We didn't partake of all the entertainment but what we saw was really good. Booked three trips out and all were great. Although I prefer smaller cruise ships, with no broken drawers or frilled mats, I would travel on Ventura again if the itinery was right. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Having sailed on the old Adonia which was wonderful and Arcadia in the carribean i was looking forward to our 3rd cruise with P&O on Ventura, we sailed from Southampton and after arriving at the new terminal which was very busy, we ... Read More
Having sailed on the old Adonia which was wonderful and Arcadia in the carribean i was looking forward to our 3rd cruise with P&O on Ventura, we sailed from Southampton and after arriving at the new terminal which was very busy, we waited about 20 mins before being called through security, not too bad i thought. We had a balcony for the first time which was wonderful and all was good and clean accept there was some drink staines on the valance around the bed, so i assume these are not changed every cruise? The food was good and so was the service from the P&O staff. I didnot like the some of the layout on Ventura there is no crows nest like the other ships we have been on, just a wasted shaded area for relaxing that nobody used and around the pool area people are squashed together like sardines. I used the spa once for reflexology a cost of 66, never again what a waste on money and painful and not at all relaxing. On the second week of the cruise i was ill, came down with a bad chest infection and was coughing really badly and i know i was not the only one, thats the trouble with air conditioning bugs get passed on quickly. I would like to be able to say i really enjoyed this cruise but i didnot, i wont blame Ventura for my illness but i got it from somewhere and it did spoil my holiday. I think i will go on Arcadia the next time. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
My husband and I sailed on Ventura in September to the Med. We cannot understand some of the reviews that have been put on this site, only that these people were on a different cruise to us! The food on this cruise was amazing - how ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on Ventura in September to the Med. We cannot understand some of the reviews that have been put on this site, only that these people were on a different cruise to us! The food on this cruise was amazing - how anyone can say the portions were small is beyond me - the food in the restaurants excellent and if you wanted more, you only had to ask! From what I saw on some peoples plates, not many people went hungry!! The service in the restaurant - we used Saffron - was also excellent - thanks to our waiter Newby who was always one step ahead when filling our glasses, etc. The cabin was lovely, cleaned and tidied twice a day by our cabin attendant, Orlando, who always had a smile and a kind word. It was always fully stocked with tea, coffee and biscuits, with a chocolate at night! We only went on one excursion - we did our own thing at other ports - but this again, was well organised, with a knowledgeable guide - the cost of the excursions was also a lot cheaper than other cruise lines. I do not normally write reviews on holidays, but really felt I had to put forward a realistic view. Why go on a lovely cruise and then come home and moan .............. some people will never be happy! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This was our second cruise to the Canaries on The Ventura. The first was also with P&O on the Azura to the Caribbean. We enjoyed the cruise, but we did prefer the Azura, and while this may have been partly because the destination was ... Read More
This was our second cruise to the Canaries on The Ventura. The first was also with P&O on the Azura to the Caribbean. We enjoyed the cruise, but we did prefer the Azura, and while this may have been partly because the destination was more exciting the first time, there were several other reasons. The ships are broadly similar, but for us the Azura was better. The Ventura had no darts or pool table and the table tennis tables are located under the sliding roof on the top deck, where the floor was slippery and it was very hot and humid there. As a vegetarian, I found the Italian restaurant on the Azura excellent with a variety of vegetarian options. Unfortunately, the alternatives to the main restaurant on The Ventura are extremely poor. We went to the non-buffet one, which did pizza, but were told they could only do Margherita and when it arrived, it compared unfavourably to a cheap supermarket pizza. Alternative options there were not much better. After that experience we stayed in the main restaurant throughout, which was ok, but not much fun if you are vegetarian as you only ever have one option. By the end of the cruise, I was getting pretty fed up with mushrooms! On one occasion, one of the "special" main courses turned out to be vegetarian, but our table staff were unable to tell us this when we asked at the time we ordered. Breakfast, buffet lunch and the poolside pizza were all very good. There was no organised bridge, but there was an organised whist drive. This made no sense as more people wanted to play bridge than whist. We were given some spiel about it being because some ships were trying to be modern and others trying to be traditional that made very little sense. Why not provide both, and why deliberately not provide something there is demand for? Eventually, we persuaded the entertainment officer to allow us to play bridge alongside the whist drive, which we organised ourselves, and eventually they also added it to the daily bulletin. It was a shame they did not advertise it in the first place, as it was no effort on their part to allow us to organise it ourselves. Unfortunately, there was no bridge equipment and initially we were told we couldn't even use the cards because they were needed for the whist drive! Probably it is just luck, but on The Azura we had a very diligent steward, and every time we left our room, when we returned it had been cleaned. This was probably beyond the call of duty, but in contrast on The Ventura, our cabin steward did the minimum possible, and if we had not left the room in the morning when she deemed it was time to clean it, we could return late in the afternoon to find it still had not been cleaned. The staff in the restaurants were all very pleasant, but I would have to say that overall we found the staff on the Azura much better. We wouldn't recommend wandering around Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. There seemed there of much interest. After walking for a couple of hours, we got to the old town, but there really wasn't anything much to see. Not a great destination. Maybe one of the tours would have been more interesting, though they didn't look that appealing. Lisbon and Cadiz were both very nice places to visit, and we also enjoyed Funchal. We just wandered around all of these doing our own thing. A trip around Mount Teide on Tenerife was good, though it was a shame there wasn't time to climb Mount Teide. We were impressed with the efficiency and speed of embarkation and Southampton. We were considerably less impressed with the disembarkation. First, queuing for ages because an escalator to get off the ship had broken. Then the label had come off one of our suitcases, although it had been securely fastened and rather than being placed in an area of unidentified suitcases, it was placed randomly with the suitcases of some other deck we weren't on, so it took over an hour to find. The headliner theatre company we had already seen on the Azura, but still enjoyed. Most of the tribute music groups were not that great. There was a comedian Fogwell Flax we saw twice, who was outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
After thoroughly enjoying a month long Christmas and New Year cruise last year on Oceana we decided to book the similar cruise on Ventura this year. What a huge mistake that proved to be. After only a couple of days it seemed as though the ... Read More
After thoroughly enjoying a month long Christmas and New Year cruise last year on Oceana we decided to book the similar cruise on Ventura this year. What a huge mistake that proved to be. After only a couple of days it seemed as though the ship was being run by an entirely different cruise line. Yes, the ship is large and we expected that. What we did not expect was that many parts of the sip were downright grubby - dirty marks on carpeting, really dirty tiled areas in the Waterside buffet and on one occasion chips were left lying on a staircase in the Beachcombers pool area for over 2 weeks. In the same Beachcombers pool area some birds had defaecated on sun loungers whilst the roof was open in port during the first week of the cruise and these were never cleaned during the remainder of the cruise. There are inadequate toilet facilities on the pool decks. In fact there are only 2 ladies cubicles and 1 disabled between the Laguna and Beachcomber pools and these have to be reached by walking in the smoking area and consequently they reek of cigarette smoke. The only other toilets are situated between the Beach House and Waterside buffet areas. One of our main complaints was the quality and choice of food. In the Waterside and Beach House buffets, the layout is very poor and it is necessary to wander with a laden tray to negotiate various foodstuffs. There does not seem to be a logical pattern to where the various food is located. Often the trays, bowls and plates were too hot to handle but this was obviously to help warm up the mediocre, often barely warm food. At breakfast fresh fried eggs were put out and I found that they were cold. Presumably they then have to warm up under the lights. During the second half of the cruise American type streaky bacon was provided but unfortunately not served in the American style i.e. crispy so it turned out to be greasy. The toast resembled re-cycled cardboard. The choice of fresh fruit at breakfast was very limited and repetitive. The even sliced the grapefruit into thin slices to make it go further! Bananas, when they appeared were of a quality that would not even have been sold as seconds in a supermarket. By the second week the honey in the little containers had solidified. It was almost as though they had not prepared for the fact that this cruise was of a month's duration and not the usual two weeks. Steak, which is usually on the always available part of the menu appeared most nights on the main menu. There was no way anyone could opt for a healthy eating option as many of the vegetables served were of the frozen variety. We endured the freedom dining on only 4 occasions as each time the service was extremely slow and when the food finally arrived it was not piping hot. The waiters had a tendency to try to get all the tables they were saving to catch up so that they could serve each table with the main course simultaneously. The quality of the meat and vegetables was second rate. The Christmas dinner was one of the worst I have ever had on a cruise ship - the turkey tasted more like something that had been artificially produced, sprouts as hard as bullets, roasted potatoes that my have 'visited' an oven briefly to give them some colour but no crispness. Dry Christmas pudding to follow with a brandy sauce that seemed to be alcohol free! We gave the New Years Eve dinner a miss and used room service! The only redeeming factor regarding the food was that there was a Beach House diner open every evening except Christmas Day and New Years Eve (unfortunately). Here there was a limited menu but the food was cooked to order and was excellent in comparison to the rest of the ship. It was interesting to note that as the cruise progressed the queues for this facility started earlier each night and there were many regulars using it, who like ourselves had given up on their regular dining room for similar reasons to ourselves. There was obviously some form of respiratory virus going round the ship as included on the usual letter about Norwalk virus it also included coughs and colds and requested people contact the medical centre if they were suffering from these. Everywhere you went on the ship people were coughing and full of colds. It was not surprising as this started on the outbound flight where someone behind us coughed constantly for the whole 9 hour flight! To make matters worse, the public rooms in the ship were extremely cold. It is the first time on a Caribbean cruise ( and we have done over 30 of these) when we have had to turn the air conditioning in our cabin up from the lowest setting. The only time the ship's interior felt comfortable was during the last two days in Barbados when normal Caribbean temperatures resumed. The first week of the cruise the weather was cool and cloudy in the Caribbean and then we headed north towards New Orleans, which was a further ordeal. P and O provided all passengers with the green immigration forms to complete (which have not been used for almost 2 years) only for the immigration officers to throw them away! The immigration ordeal started at 7.15 a.m. and only finished just after 6 p.m. as there were only 8 booths operating on the quayside. Interestingly though, the crew seemed to complete all their immigration procedures in order to start their crew drills and coast guard inspection by 10.30 a.m. Passengers who were only on the 2 week cruse hardly saw anything of New Orleans as they left early the next day for their return flights. Again it is not the first time P and O have been to New Orleans - in fact Azura was there the previous week so why wasn't there communication between the two ships as they must have encountered the same problem. We have been there on Oriana and it took til 2 p.m. for the ship to be cleared then and they only had half the number of passengers. St. Thomas, too, was a disappointment as we docked at Crown Bay which has very little in the way of facilities as the one at Havensight. In fact one shop owner remarked it was the first time they had had such a large ship in there before. It is obviously a cheaper option in the way of port charges etc. for P and O. It was impossible to walk into Charlotte Amalie and the open 'taxis' were charging $8 per person for the return trip. P and O provided shuttle buses in Port Everglades and Port Canaveral but nothing in St. Thomas. The entertainment was the usual mix of shows, comedians and tribute acts although we did have Tom O Connor appearing in the second half of the cruise. Cabin TV was showing the usual range of Christmas films the first two weeks but did not replace these with any additional films for the second two weeks. In fact the interactive TV was quite annoying as it took time to load and you had to get the remote in a certain position to operate it only to find that most of the films on offer were pay per view (not mentioned in any of the brochures). We did not even get a cruise log for the first two weeks and when we asked at Reception we were told that one had not been issued. Untrue as we had seen them in other pigeon holes. Likewise we did not receive any disembarkation information and were told we should have had one. There was no cruise overview issued for the second two weeks and the excuse given was that the entertainment had not yet been finalised! Were they working on a day to day basis and hoping that it would be 'alright on the night' and that passengers would not notice that some of the shows were repeated from the first half of the cruise. Many of the entertainment venues were not suitable especially the Tamarind where they had the classical artistes performing. There is a thoroughfare through this venue and we had to endure the kids club with their supervisors marching through and other passengers having quite loud conversations whilst walking through which is very distracting when trying to listen to classical music. The Exchange Bar and Casino were other walk through areas and there were often queues in the former waiting for the second performance in the Arena Theatre. There were very few quiet areas on the ship to sit and have a drink as there seems to be a necessity to have bands in most public areas. The library was quite small for the size of ship and had a very poor selection of fiction. Many of the books were old and in need of repair/replacing. It was almost as though all the other ships belonging to P and O had donated their oldest and tattiest books to Ventura.The librarian was not always at her post at the times stipulated which meant people left their returned books lying on her desk and others then picked them up without having to have them recorded. It just seemed pointless having the cabinets locked and specific opening times for the library when it could not be supervised adequately. Despite the fact that the Captain, Hamish Reid is quite a character and was on last year's Oceana cruise, he did not appear to be enjoying his sojourn on Ventura. We never saw him walking round the decks. He also seemed to be taking on the role of Cruise Director announcing all the evening entertainment and the shopping events when he was informing passengers that we were due to leave port. He also did not seem to be able to operate the public address system as most mornings in port we were woken by his voice in the cabin announcing that we had docked in such and such a port. He might just as well have started with "Hi de hi cruisers" to reflect the kind of ship he was running. There has obviously been a lot of cost cutting, changes and directives from Head Office since last year and standards have certainly dropped. I wonder, too, why there was a P and O director on board in Barbados on the last Friday? My advice to discerning cruisers avoid Ventura at all costs unless you want to experience how a cruise ship should not be run. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
After 25 years of me choosing the holidays, I thought it fair that my husband could choose this time. He suggested a Caribbean cruise and whilst I wasn't actually overjoyed at the suggestion' I agreed. After various ... Read More
After 25 years of me choosing the holidays, I thought it fair that my husband could choose this time. He suggested a Caribbean cruise and whilst I wasn't actually overjoyed at the suggestion' I agreed. After various weather-related traumas in the journey to get to Manchester airport and having to be 'de-iced' before we could fly to Barbados, our flight was very smooth and uneventful. The fact that we got straight onto a coach from the plane and then the smooth operation of going through customs etc at the ships side was excellent. We located our cabin quite easily. It was smaller than it appears on the website but was plenty big enough for what we needed it for. It was clean, comfortable and our Cabin Steward Edwin was very polite and helpful. The ship is lovely, quite easy to navigate around and I never at any point felt that there were 3000 passengers on with us. We chose selective dining which I was a bit unsure about(I was worried that we would be dining with people we just didn't connect with) nothing could be further from the truth as the 3 other couples we shared our table with (table 124 Bay Tree Restaurant you know who you are) were some of the loveliest people we have ever met and for me they made the time on the ship so pleasurable as we giggled our way through every evening meal. The service in this restaurant was excellent and the food on the whole was also first class. We tended to have our breakfast in The Waterside (self service buffet)good quality and plenty of options. On 3 occasions we had a room service breakfast which made a lovely change sitting on our balcony. We spent a romantic dinner for 2 in The White Room, which was very special (at a cost of £20 a head plus drinks). But the best meal by far was when we went as a table to the fusion restaurant of East, absolutely delicious and excellent service. (This costs £15 a head). Our favourite bar was The Tamarind Club which had different vocalists and we often went to watch different shows in the theatre. A highlight of the entertainment was Clem Curtis of the Foundations (Build me up buttercup) who at aged 70 can still get an audience on their feet dancing. Unfortunately our days at sea weather was quite iffy so we spent very little time sunbathing on deck, however on the couple of times we did sunbathe, while there isn't an abundance of sun-loungers we didn't have a lot of trouble finding some. OK my husband was right I did love cruising, although I wouldn't want to cruise every year. The highlights of the ship were definitely our fellow diners and I also enjoyed the sail aways from each port. We never actually went to the sail away parties up on deck but sat with a glass of wine on our balcony as the lovely Ventura quietly sailed from yet another beautiful island leaving us with even more lovely memories and watching the sun set on yet another perfect day. Our final port was St Lucia. Very picturesque but I don't think there was much to keep you in the port. So we hired a mini bus with 3 other couples and after a couple of viewpoint stops that had craft stalls at them we made our way for a wonderful viewing station overlooking the mighty Pitons (a volcano that over time has formed two peaks). We also witnessed the devastation that was caused by the hurricane they suffered in November where landslides took away huge parts of mountain sides and washed away a family of 6 and their house. Nothing has ever been found. We also visited Marigot Bay which is a beautiful beach, that is quintessentially Caribbean. WEATHER - Mainly sunny with clouds. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Overall we enjoyed our Ventura experience finding the captain's humour very contagious. For the main the staff in the dining rooms were helpful and courteous although (as with life generally) a few bad attitudes let down the ... Read More
Overall we enjoyed our Ventura experience finding the captain's humour very contagious. For the main the staff in the dining rooms were helpful and courteous although (as with life generally) a few bad attitudes let down the good guys. The bad and ugly has to be the self service restaurant on the top deck. No smiles or offers of help here, tables taking an age to clear and getting a drink to accompany your meal a real achievement. Lack of adhering to dress codes was a disappointment as was the calibre of younger passengers sporting tattoos and less than desirable language. The entertainment was a mixed bag of very good and not so good. Tom O'Connor was excellent and for the main the vocalists were too. Having said that we did make an early departure from some of the shows and 'passed their best'vocalists. The Beach Hut could have had a better booking system giving all passengers a chance to experience food of a more interesting, imaginative nature than the main dining halls. We found The White Room food enjoyable but not comparable to the fine dining we expected. The East Asian restaurant wasn't worth a £15 supplement albeit enjoyable. The curry lunches would have been improved with a varied menu. Full marks for the delivery of our luggage from Gatwick to our cabin, like wise from the Ventura to Gatwick. Small points that would have been appreciated, a replacement flower in cabins, an arrival welcome drink. Having said that the Christmas gifts of a pashmina and silver guff links were much appreciated by my husband and self. I can fully appreciate cost effectiveness is all important in making P/O cruises being competitive on their cruise prices especially in these hard times. BUT..., when paying approximately £280 a day (minus spending money) standards could have been better in the main dining halls and the entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We chose this Christmas cruise on Ventura simply because the itinerary and dates suited our schedule. We were on Azura 6 months before so knew what to expect. In fact we were surprised that the ships were so similar. Ventura is a couple of ... Read More
We chose this Christmas cruise on Ventura simply because the itinerary and dates suited our schedule. We were on Azura 6 months before so knew what to expect. In fact we were surprised that the ships were so similar. Ventura is a couple of years older but doesn't really show it. In fact, given a straight choice we would pick Ventura over Azura. Reason: the front Oasis Pool and surrounding deck is open to all, not just those paying for the retreat and the Casino/Pub area is much bigger as part of this deck area is used for the new single cabins on Azura. Being a Christmas cruise and this being Ventura we expected loads of kids. We were told there were 400 on board but we didn't really notice them as the kids clubs kept them occupied all day and to be honest we enjoyed the wide age range of people on this cruise, a much younger average than our previous med cruises. We met nice people of all age groups. The flights both ways were with Thomsons from Manchester: two hours delay outbound and 6 hours inbound. Very disappointed re these avoidable delays. We booked a month ahead and got a Superior Deluxe Cabin on D deck at a good price. This was lovely, spacious, nice sized bathroom and kept very clean. We were on Freedom dining in Cinnamon Restaurant and enjoyed it. We thought the choice was better than on Azura and the service, though still variable, was better than Azura where they were still finding their feet when we were on her. The Restaurant Manager was superb in ensuring we had the Vegetarian Menu presented nightly to choose the next evenings' meal. I think every ship has issues re buffet dining. It's impossible to provide the space necessary to feed the numbers that want to eat at peak times so finding space can be difficult but surely its either this or less deck space? I have to say that the people complaining about a lack of tables were the same ones who would drink cup of tea after cup of tea and hog a table for ages. We thought the breakfast choice to be good, well cooked and hot. Whilst the choice was the same each day, you could concoct your own breakfasts and differ it each day plus you could order eggs as you wanted them and they had good veggie bacon and sausage available to order as well as perfectly cooked poached eggs. We found the entertainment the same as Azura. The headliners shows were poor yet again, verging on embarrassing. The acrobats during the main headliners show were amazing though it's just the rest of the headliners remind me of a 1970s variety show. As on Azura, we like the choice of places to drink in the evening and especially Ramblas which was quiet and you could order a large glass of wine for £3.25 - a bargain. This was our first Caribbean cruise and to be honest the stops disappointed. Little to see without going on tours or taxis and apart from Aruba the beaches didn't impress. However we were happy with a few hours on shore and then returning to ship to relax on deck. Much will be said of the New Orleans fiasco. 3000 passengers and 1200 crew all requiring immigration clearance. The Captain did warn everyone before arriving that there would be delays but the understatement was that 'all available immigration desks would be open'. There were only 8 desks! Some passengers were not cleared until it was too dark to see New Orleans. Ultimately this is a reflection of the US over the top attitude to immigration. On the scale of things a cruise ship docking for the day should be low risk but the US Border Agency don't asses risk. Any risk has to be controlled irrespective of the damage caused to tourism. I'm not sure P&O could have done more. Yes Azura had the same issue when it docked in New Orleans the week before but knowing this what should have been done? Withdraw this port of call from our trip at short notice? This wasn't possible as many people were disembarking in New Orleans for their flight home. There were people flying home the next day from New Orleans and perhaps P&O could have ensured that they were able to get through the immigration mob relatively early to be given a chance to see the town on the only day possible (people staying on for a month had two days to see the town). I feel a little sorry for P&O who are being made the scapegoat for this issue when the blame mostly lies with the US authorities. However, given the issues I don't believe P&O should be using New Orleans on future itineraries as the first port of call in the US. Finally, this was our first time away at Christmas and we enjoyed it. P&O added some nice touches, Christmas cards from the Captain (Hamish Reid who was superb), presents on Christmas Eve, a nice Christmas Day meal, a pantomime and carols. We would chose them again for a similar trip and for those trying to decide between Azura and Ventura, there is a lot of hype re Azura so if it's a straight choice between the two then let the itinerary, dates and price make your choice as there is little to choose between them. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
This was our 3rd cruise and our 2nd with P&O - the previous one being on Arcadia in Feb 2008. The flight to Barbados was comfortable and on time. Although it was a ThomsonFly charter,the aircraft was actually a First Choice plane. ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise and our 2nd with P&O - the previous one being on Arcadia in Feb 2008. The flight to Barbados was comfortable and on time. Although it was a ThomsonFly charter,the aircraft was actually a First Choice plane. Even though we had booked the cruise some 18 months earlier, we could not get an upgrade but even so, the plane was very comfortable with plenty of legroom and OK food. The transfer from the airport to the ship was excellent - (P&O seem to have got this sorted really well) - straight from the plane to a coach and then straight to the check in shed at the cruise terminal. Check in there was quick and we were soon on the ship. What a monster she is. Not really a pretty sight and it would be impossible to describe Ventura as a ship in the traditional sense - more a gigantic floating hotel. We soon found our cabin on C deck. This was compact and functional, clean and well equipped with tea and coffee machine, fridge, good hairdryer, interactive TV on which you can also view your account, comfy bed and good temperature control. The one surprise was the balcony. It was huge and contained only 2 ordinary chairs - like you might find in a works canteen and a small table measuring about 15 inches square. This was on a balcony measuring about 8 feet by 9 feet. Therefore most of the balcony was a waste of space. The balcony cabins on the ship are tiered and therefore if we sat at the front of ours, people in cabins above could see us and also we could see those on the deck below us. It was also easy to overhear conversations taking place on balconies around us. So it wasn't very private. The "bathroom" was very small. We were happy with just a shower but this wasn't overly large either!! However, hot water was in abundance - full marks for this. Senim, our cabin steward kept the place spotless throughout the entire voyage. There was ample hanging and storage space. We were supposed to leave at 20.00 but an announcement told us that some people had yet to leave the ship for the UK as their flight had been delayed and so our revised sailing time was given as 23.30. We all attended the compulsory lifeboat muster but really no one knew if everyone from cabins had attended as no one took our name or cabin number on arrival at the muster station. I thought this was all a bit casual. We had something to eat in the Waterside buffet restaurant which was nice and then our cases arrived at the cabin so it was unpacking and an early night. Our first day was a sea day on the way to Antigua. This was our first encounter with the dreaded sunbed saga. As we were towards the aft of the ship we preferred to sit on deck somewhere in that vicinity. We soon found that space was at a premium and that sunbeds were so tightly packed that it would have been difficult to actually sit on one unless you climbed onto it from the front. This then meant that you were literally cheek by jowl with the person on the next bed to you. We identified an area with a little more space on deck 19 but when we tried to get up there we found our way blocked by locked doors and gates, passages which led nowhere and a lift which went to that floor but when you got out of it you could not get through the door onto the deck. Eventually this deck opened and there was a scramble for beds in that area. It turned out that deck 19 was the Cirque Ventura area where there had been bungee jumping etc and also they had 3 big trampolines. However, all that was left was the trampolines - the rest of the "cirque" had been demolished and was being given over to sunbeds. To be honest, for the number of times the trampolines were used during the trip, they could easily get rid of that as well to free up more space for people to sit. We can endorse everything others have said about the sunbed situation on this ship. You had to be up at 08.00 to get a bed with some room around it. On Christmas Day all the beds were taken at the Terrace Pool by 07.15. Everyone knew there was a no towels rule for reserving sunbeds but to be honest, you had to ignore it otherwise you would not have been able to find anywhere to sit. The first evening was the Captain's welcome party but all that happened was that he came and spoke to the assembled guests and then left. There was no moving around in the cocktail party sense like we have had before on Arcadia and the QE2. Our next port of call was Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Christmas Eve. Lots of people were looking forward to this and we had booked a snorkeling trip. However, on arrival, we were informed by the Captain that it was too windy to take the ship alongside the quay and therefore this visit was cancelled. There was a lot of disappointment. We got our money back for the cancelled trip but somehow we were not satisfied and somewhat suspicious as to why the ship did not berth at Grand Turk. However we were in no position to question the Captain's judgment. Christmas Day was a sea day and the following day we moored off Catalina Island, an island owned apparently by P&O. It is situated just off the south east corner of the Dominican Republic. The ship moored with an anchor and a cable from the stern to a mooring dolphin. Passengers were ferried to the island's beach by tender. We decided to remain on board and I was on deck 19 when I heard a loud bang. On looking out over the rail, there was nothing to see but all of a sudden, the mooring dolphin "exploded" with a pall of smoke and the cable to the ship tore apart and whipped back to the dolphin. The ship then began to drift away from the island. A bit scary but things were soon in hand. Given that the call at Grand Turk was cancelled due to the weather, we did not see a great deal of improvement in the weather and sea state at Catalina Island. Indeed, some passengers were left bobbing around for 45 minutes in tenders on the return journey to the ship and many were not happy. The following day we were due in Tortola, BVI. We were looking forward to this, not having been there before. We took on the pilot and then there was an announcement that the ship would not be calling there after all due to the weather so we continued on to St Kitts. By this time, passengers were not at all happy. The next day we were due at St Kitts and having arrived and almost berthed, the Captain announced that we would not be calling there after all due to the weather. A near mutiny was evident!!! We were told that the ship instead would go straight to St Lucia, arriving there late afternoon. Again, we could not see any difference in the sea state between Catalina Island and St Kitts harbor - if anything, St Kitts was a lot calmer. We were told that the winds we had experienced were unusual. However, this is just not true. There is a period of what the locals call "Christmas Winds" which affect mainly the northern islands and are not infrequent at this time of the year. The question we and a lot of others were asking was why these ports were put on the itinerary if Ventura could not berth in those conditions. Of course the Captain has the last word but P&O are responsible for putting together the itinerary and they should see that it is suitable for the ship they are using. We do know that other ships berthed at these ports. The fact is that Ventura is simply too big and unwieldy to put in at some of the smaller more exposed islands. We managed to call at all the remaining ports on the itinerary - St Lucia, St Vincent, Dominica and St Maarten. We went on organized trips in St Lucia and Dominica and felt that they were good value for money. We had opted for freedom dining. We found this worked well as we preferred to dine around 19.00 which was perhaps earlier than a lot of people. We ate in East once which was very nice and in Whites twice, including Christmas Day evening meal. Very good. The food in the main freedom dining restaurant, the Cinnamon was generally good although some steaks were a bit tough. The service was good and pleasant - better we thought than on the Arcadia. We didn't drink in all the bars but we did like the Metropolis which has a great moving mural of a city scape at night - it changes each evening ie Sydney, London, Hong Kong etc. We felt that some of the other bars were a bit public - like drinking in a corridor. We are not great people for shows but those who did go to them came away with mixed reviews. To be honest, the star performer was held out as Scott Bruton who had made the final 12 in the X Factor. We thought he was poor on that programme so this was not a great draw for us. Some people were disgusted with the comedian. In all we felt the range of entertainment in the evenings was pretty boring. The ship could do with a a good triad jazz band performing in the pub or in the Tamarind Club to get people up and dancing. On one evening in the Tamarind, the dance band struck up and played for about 30 minutes and then when people were just getting in the mood for a dance, they stopped playing and we were invited to play Mr and Mrs!!!!! The best entertainment of the whole trip was the New Year's Eve party on deck at the Laguna Pool. Excellent DJ, excellent music, excellent atmosphere. I think that people had had so many disappointments with the cancelled ports that they were determined to have a good time!! The Great British Sailaway from St Maarten was also good fun. The ship was tastefully decorated with Christmas trees etc and generally people dressed up in the evenings even when it was smart casual. There were 3,000 passengers including several hundred children. The children never bothered us and I think that the facilities for them on the ship are very good. We were not disturbed with any rowdy behavior but we did hear that 2 people had been "arrested" for violence and that one had been taken off the ship at St Vincent. Overall, we made the best of things and enjoyed the trip and we had really good weather. Would we go on Ventura again? No. And there were a lot of people saying the same. Read Less
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 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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